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Cable News Network



March 24, 2006 Friday


SECTION: NEWS; International

LENGTH: 3903 words

HEADLINE: Cruise Ship Fire; Going Home; Desperate Search

BYLINE: Soledad O'Brien, John Roberts, Bob Franken, Nic Robertson, Reynolds Wolf, Melanie Stout, Carol Costello, Carrie Lee, Miles O'Brien


Investigators are looking into a fatal accident on a cruise ship. Three hostages freed by a Special Forces raid are getting ready to go home. Nearly six days of searching and not a single clue about what's happened to those two boys in Milwaukee.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Friday. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Don't those words just sound so wonderful?

O'BRIEN: They do.


I'm John Roberts in for Miles O'Brien. Good morning to you.

O'BRIEN: A developing story to tell you about out of Tennessee, a pastor gunned down in his own home. Police say his wife is a suspect. We'll bring you that story.

And federal agents are joining the search for two missing boys in Milwaukee. We've got a live report as the community is now praying for a miracle.

ROBERTS: One person is dead after a fire ravages a cruise ship in the Caribbean. We've got a live report coming up.

O'BRIEN: And disturbing surveillance videotape out of Los Angeles. Take a look at this. This is a homeless woman discharged from the hospital right onto skid row. How often is this happening? A look at that.

ROBERTS: And the stuff that dreams are made of, but what are we really dreaming about? We'll take a look at that in our continuing series "Sleepless in America" ahead today.

O'BRIEN: We begin in Tennessee this morning, a pastor's wife being questioned in the death of her husband. The body of 31-year-old Matthew Winkler was found shot to death after he failed to show up for Wednesday's services. He'd been shot in the back.

After a nationwide Amber Alert, 32-year-old Mary Winkler, and the couple's three young girls, were found on Thursday in an Alabama beach town. Alabama officials didn't want to call Winkler a suspect, but officials in Tennessee say the facts speak for themselves.


JENNIFER JOHNSON, TENN. BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I think that given the fact that there was no one else with the family in that van and given the fact that everyone seems to be in good condition, we just have a lot of tough questions that have to be asked. And it begs the question is she a suspect? I think that she is.


O'BRIEN: Authorities tell us that Winkler will be interrogated by federal, as well as Tennessee and Alabama officials.

Ahead in our next hour, we're going to talk to that FBI spokeswoman you just heard from for more on the latest in this case -- John.

ROBERTS: Investigators are looking into a fatal accident on a cruise ship this morning. One person died of a heart attack during a massive fire aboard the Star Princess luxury liner. That fire was reportedly started by a lit cigarette. The ship now sits idle in Jamaica.

AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken joins us from Fort Lauderdale, which was supposed to be the ship's final destination.

Good morning to you, -- Bob.


And it will be getting back here in a couple of days. First, they're going to have the Coast Guard take an investigation, take a look at the ship. It's a huge ship. It's a ship that had almost 2,700 passengers, over 1,100 crew members, but one smoldering cigarette apparently started a fire that did damage, when all was said and done, to about 100 cabins.

And in the excitement that followed, as they followed protocol and got people onto the deck, one older passenger suffered cardiac arrest, 11 others were injured. And now what they are going to do is they're going to have this investigation to find out exactly what happened and why there was such extensive damage. Apparently you can see the blackened cabins still.

Now what they're doing with the people is they are going to provide refunds for the people after all of this is said and done, but this cruise is over. As I said, it will be returning to the port that it left on a very leisurely cruise to the Caribbean. It was going between the Grand Cayman Islands and Jamaica when this mishap occurred and they were pulled into Jamaica -- John.

ROBERTS: My goodness, the damage just looks so extensive there, Bob. What's going to happen to the people who were on board in the next day or two?

FRANKLIN: Well, in the next day or so, first of all, many of them are staying in parts of the ship that were not damaged. We're seeing the damage to the hundred or so cabins. Those who were in the damaged cabins have been put up in hotels in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios in Jamaica. They are being put on airplanes as quickly as possible and flown back to Fort Lauderdale. They'll get a full refund. Plus, as a matter of fact, they're going to be giving them a credit toward another cruise on the Princess lines, if they want to. ROBERTS: All right. Well, Bob, thanks very much. We'll check back with you later on this morning.

The cruise line, by the way, has opened up a hotline for family members to get information. That number is 1-800-693-7222. 1-800- 693-7222.

Cruise lines in the news this week. Relatives of that cruise ship -- of those cruise ship passengers who were killed in a bus crash earlier this week are flying to Chile today. Twelve passengers died while on a sightseeing tour in the mountains on Wednesday. Two others are injured. All of them belong to a Jewish religious group and many lived in the same condominium complex. U.S. State Department officials are also heading to the area -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Gunfire and bombs killed 14 people in Baghdad today. In southwest Baghdad, gunmen fired into a bakery, killing four workers there. They left behind a package which then exploded and killed the police officer who opened it. Two more police officers were killed when their patrol was attacked by gunfire in western Baghdad. And in the northeastern part of the city this morning, seven people were found shot to death. They were apparently bound and tortured.

Those three hostages freed by a Special Forces raid are getting ready to go home now.

CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson live for us in Baghdad.

Hey, Nic, good morning. How are those hostages doing?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot better now, Soledad. Norman Kember, the 74-year-old British peace activist, said that it's great to be free. And he also said that this morning he had now had a chance to have a shave, a long relaxing bath and even enjoy a full English breakfast.

Now James Loney, the 42-year-old Canadian, the coordinator of that peace activist team, he said that he had enjoyed potatoes, chicken and a nice soup. I think they're all getting a taste of what they want.

And Harmeet Sooden also relaxing.

But very likely, the three are going to face some questioning by intelligence operatives, kind of determine what can be known about their kidnappers -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Nic, any opportunity to talk to their family members, do you know?

ROBERTSON: They have. Norman Kember has talked to his wife, Pat. She said that he sounded quite emotional on the phone and that he was very concerned about his family, about what they had been going through. And that's exactly what Ed Loney, Jim Loney's brother, had said, that when he called, he was surprised to hear of all the support in Canada for him. And surprisingly for Jim Loney's family, they were surprised that rather than Jim being worried about himself, as they had been, he was very worried about his family members, too.

So all of them, I think, trying to see how their own families are doing while they've been held captive -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson for us this morning.

Nic, thanks.

Time for a forecast this morning. Chad is off. Reynolds Wolf in for our first look at the weather.

How's it going to be today?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's going to be pretty good.


Soledad, let's send it right back to you in New York.

O'BRIEN: All right, thank you. And maybe we'll get a little peek at the weekend.

ROBERTS: Reynolds.

It's spring.

O'BRIEN: I know.

ROBERTS: It's spring. Come on, get those temperatures up.

O'BRIEN: Chad would say, this is spring, cold and rainy and miserable in some places.

ROBERTS: Lovely.

Coming up, an internal investigation into possible criminal activity at the Red Cross. Find out why some volunteers are under fire this morning.

O'BRIEN: Also, we'll have the very latest on the search for those two missing boys in Wisconsin. We're going to take you live to Milwaukee to see why police are mystified by this case.

ROBERTS: And a videotape that has shocked one community, hospitals accused of dumping patients on skid row in Los Angels. That story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

O'BRIEN: Nearly six days of searching and not a single clue about what's happened to those two boys in Milwaukee. Twelve-year-old Quadrevion Henning, called Dre, and 11-year-old Purvis Parker vanished without a trace on Sunday afternoon.

Melanie Stout of our affiliate WTMJ is live for us in Milwaukee this morning.

Melanie, good morning.


I'm outside the Milwaukee Police Command Center. This is the information collecting area. It's been five days, hundreds of searchers, volunteers and police officers scouring the area where the boys went missing and still nothing, no sign of them.

Now Milwaukee Police are switching their focus. They're focusing more on the hundreds of tip calls, both from friends and strangers, of the two missing boys.

The FBI is also getting involved. They have about 40 agents working this case, both agents that work with child abductions and profiles -- profilers. Also, a supervisor says you know it's so highly unusual for these two boys to go missing this long.

Also, Milwaukee Police detectives returned to the home of Purvis Parker last night. They searched his bedroom and the basement. They spent hours there taking pictures and questioning family members. They did the same thing at Dre's home.

It's unclear why, but Milwaukee Police spokeswoman Anne Schwartz says the police department is very concerned.


ANNE SCHWARTZ, MILWAUKEE POLICE SPOKESWOMAN: You have two boys that were with each other and they are older. You know they're big kids. These kids, you know, about 100, 120 pounds apiece. You know they're not small children. So, you know, again, we are just mystified. It is as though they have vanished into thin air.


STOUT: Now last night, more than a hundred people gathered outside Dre's home for a very emotional vigil. This is such a difficult time, as you can imagine, for these families -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question about what we can see right behind you in your shot, which is lots of snow. How is that going to impact the searchers' abilities and the investigators'?

STOUT: There were some snow flurries yesterday and it really didn't impact the search. But this is heavier than what we saw yesterday, so it probably will have a slight impact on the search today.

O'BRIEN: That's bad news, certainly not what they need to hear. Melanie Stout of our affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee this morning.

Thanks, Melanie.

Lots of other stories to tell you about. Let's get right to Carol. She's in the newsroom.

Hey, -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Good morning to all of you.

Police in riot gear breaking up the largest protest so far in the capital of Belarus. Commandos in helmets and facemasks pulling apart the demonstration in October Square in central Minsk. Some 200 people have been arrested. The group protesting president -- the president's reelection this weekend. The U.S. has also condemned those elections.

Just weeks after the Dubai Ports debacle there is word the Bush administration is hiring another foreign company to handle security. This time it's just outside of the United States in the Bahamas. The Associated Press reports that a Hong Kong firm will scan cargo for nuclear material. Some critics worry the Hong Kong firm will be using American equipment without any U.S. Customs presence.

Allegations in Los Angeles that hospitals are dumping homeless patients on skid row. Check out this surveillance video. That's a 63-year-old hospital patient you are seeing. He's wandering the street in robe and slippers. A passerby eventually escorts the woman to a shelter. Actually, that is a woman. The city attorney's office is now investigating. We're going to talk with city officials later on on AMERICAN MORNING.

Making it safer to ride the rails by crashing them. Transportation officials testing new safety measures. They include a shock absorbing design meant to keep trains upright and prevent them from jackknifing. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta calls the test a landmark event.

Senior Muslim clerics in Afghanistan are demanding that a Christian be put to death. The man apparently converted from Islam 16 years ago. The clerics threaten that if President Hamid Karzai caves in to Western pressure and frees the man, they will incite followers to -- quote -- "pull him to pieces." The trial begins -- began in Kabul last week. No word on whether it will resume.


Let's talk about the weather now, head to Atlanta and check in with Reynolds.

Big fluffy snowflakes in Milwaukee, but a beautiful...

WOLF: Absolutely. They are beautiful.

COSTELLO: My goodness. WOLF: They are very pretty until you have to grab a shovel and start clearing off the front walk, then they're not that quite pretty.


John, let's send it over to you.

ROBERTS: Not a great looking TF to the weekend in many parts of the country, but thanks anyway, Reynolds.

Google adds a new index to its repertoire.

Carrie Lee here with a "Financial News Update."

Good morning to you, -- Carrie.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know a week doesn't go by when we don't talk about Google here on this show. Well, a very exciting moment for Google, because the stock is going to be added to the S&P 500 at the end of this month. So good news for Google shares, they were up 9 percent in the after-hours session last night, up about 30 bucks.

And the reason stocks gain when they are added to an index like this, a lot of fund managers will mimic the S&P 500. That means they have to buy the stock in order to mirror that index. So we expect to see some buying from now until March 31.

Let's take a look at Google stock, though, since it went public in August of 2004, and the stock has done very well. Remember it debuted at $85 a share, now trades around $342. The stock, though, did hit a recent high of $475. So lost $20 billion in market value over the last two months, but still worth over $100 billion. That's more than Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and Home Depot. So quite a high valuation, still.

ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely.

O'BRIEN: Lost that 20 billion because of sort of the stories we've been reporting about?

LEE: Exactly. Exactly. Some things coming out about the company's slowing growth rates and things like that. And you know...

O'BRIEN: And China, right?

LEE: Exactly.

Now some people on Wall Street say if the company were more up front about its financial guidance going forward, well, people would have a better handle on exactly where the company is going, the stock might even go higher. But you know Google has been a maverick on Wall Street since they went public. That's kind of part of their corporate creed. So that S&P 500 is certainly a good thing for the company.

O'BRIEN: And they opened at, what, 70s, at 80? LEE: Eighty-five dollars was the IPO.

O'BRIEN: And they're now what?

LEE: Now they're about 340.

O'BRIEN: So they're doing fine.

LEE: Doesn't mean everyone got in at $85, but...

ROBERTS: No, but if you did get in on the ground floor, you're doing all right,...

LEE: Exactly.

ROBERTS: ... even with the recent swings in the value of that stock.


LEE: Yes.

O'BRIEN: They're doing just fine.

LEE: Exactly.

A quick check on stocks overall. Yesterday we did see a little bit of selling after four days of nice gains, some profit taking here, some concern about interest rates now that job growth is picking up a bit and oil prices are up as well.

And you know some stories out there in the news saying that when people like us and morning shows are talking about the run of the bull market, that means we've hit the top. You know when every average investor is buying in, that means we've peaked up.

ROBERTS: The market goes up.

LEE: Yes.

ROBERTS: The market goes down.

LEE: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: Personal advice.

LEE: Techs looking good this morning because of Google.

O'BRIEN: OK, thanks, -- Carrie.


O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at "Morning Coffee," which is ahead with Carol.

Good morning. COSTELLO: Good morning again.

You remember when the Dixie Chicks told an audience that they were ashamed the president was from Texas? They did that back in 2003. Well, after three years of death threats, they are back with a new song and a brand new controversy. Plus, one guy tells the world why Fidel Castro burns his underwear every single night. Not kidding. Your cup of "Morning Joe" coming your way next.

ROBERTS: Take these shackles off of us, it's Friday, yes.

COSTELLO: Yes, sir.

It is a beautiful morning. The sky is clear. The sunrise is beautiful.

ROBERTS: Fortunately, the weekend is going to be a little rough.

COSTELLO: Now don't bring me down.

O'BRIEN: Exactly.

COSTELLO: It doesn't matter.

ROBERTS: Sorry. Yes.

O'BRIEN: It's Friday.

COSTELLO: I'll be home.

ROBERTS: You've got nothing to look forward to when you get off work today.

COSTELLO: Stop that.

O'BRIEN: What's in "Morning Coffee" this morning?

COSTELLO: I got some stuff for you this morning.

Talk about airing someone's dirty laundry, a former gopher for Fidel Castro has a very interesting tale to tell. He says Castro burns his skivvies, as in underwear, after every single use. Burns them. Delfin Fernandez says it's because the Cuban leader is afraid someone might poison his laundry.

Codenamed Otto, he worked for Castro in the 1990s. And since then, he's been a bodyguard for Antonio Banderas and Baby Spice. Now he's a TV star in Miami, thanks to his so-called dirt, dirty laundry, on Castro. He also says Castro is a huge fan of Serrano ham and even sent Otto to Spain to buy $2,500 worth.

ROBERTS: Why does he need to burn them? Why can't he just throw them away?

COSTELLO: I guess he really fears the chemicals. I don't know.

O'BRIEN: That's right. Do you think -- or just give them to someone else for something. I don't know.


ROBERTS: You could sell them on eBay.

O'BRIEN: Sell them on eBay.

ROBERTS: Make up for all the money that Russia is not giving Cuba anymore, you know.

O'BRIEN: So he burns his underpants.

COSTELLO: Exactly, then he could buy a lot more ham, too.

O'BRIEN: And what's this Serrano ham connection? That's just -- OK.

COSTELLO: Anyway, this guy is writing a book, so you'll get to know about that.

ROBERTS: Excellent.

COSTELLO: Speaking of books, Barry Bonds is planning to file suit today over that new book, "Game of Shadows." Remember he said he wasn't going to read it? Now he's going to sue.

O'BRIEN: Must have read it.

COSTELLO: Yes. He doesn't exactly want to keep the book off the store shelves, though. We've all heard about the book, it details grand jury testimony linking Bonds to steroid use, and that's what Bonds is suing about. His attorney says the testimony was obtained illegally, so he wants to garnish the profits from the book. Of course if he sued to stop the sale of the book altogether, he would have to testify under oath about the steroid allegations.

ROBERTS: And there would be less money in the pot and -- right.

COSTELLO: He just wants some way to stop it, because what the authors did is they got a hold of the grand jury testimony,...

O'BRIEN: Right.

COSTELLO: ... which was supposed to be secret. So he's saying, since they did that, they shouldn't profit from it. So we'll keep you posted on that one.

The Dixie Chicks. The Dixie Chicks are back with no apologies. Their first single from their upcoming album is already stirring up controversy, though. This video is, of course, from an old song. We don't have the new one yet. We need Larry King to get us that, don't we? Anyway, their new song is called "Not Ready to Make Nice" and talks about death threats of the controversy over their anti-war stance three years ago. Here's a line from the song, it goes like this, "how in the world can the words that I said send someone over the edge?"

At least one radio station in the lead singer's, Natalie Maines, hometown of Lubbock, Texas, is refusing to play the song. And, by the way, the new album also has a song called "Lubbock or Leave It," which the group says is all about small-town narrow-mindedness. And remember back in 2003, they said to the audience we're ashamed that President Bush is from Texas? And that started the death threats.

ROBERTS: Yes, exactly. Not the type of words you can say and then just sort of sit back from it.

O'BRIEN: Right.

ROBERTS: Somebody is going to get on you for them.

COSTELLO: No, but they're not flip-flopping, you've got to give them that.


COSTELLO: They're sticking to their guns and saying they don't regret it in the least.

ROBERTS: Thanks, -- Carol.


ROBERTS: Interesting coffee this morning.

Still, you've got a phone, a BlackBerry, an iPod, even a laptop computer, but will there soon be a device that really is all of those in one?

Our own Miles O'Brien takes a look in our continuing series "Welcome to the Future."


LEON: Yes, it's funny, because each of these things is supposed to save me time. But because I have to use them all, it actually winds up costing itself (ph).

Well, I've got two cell phones. Neither one does everything that I need it to. They both have their pluses and minuses; but, unfortunately, there's no way to combine the best aspects of each phone. The systems aren't compatible. If there were just some way to combine them into one device I could carry around, I'd be set.

To me, the most important thing is to be able to do everything that I can do on a computer on a handheld device. And the technology is out there to do it. I'm just waiting for it. MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): And so am I. But the single device solution for phone calls, e-mail, Web surfing, pictures, organizer, you know, the gadget that does it all remains the digital Holy Grail. And I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever be discovered.

(voice-over): You bet, says technology analyst Rob Enderle. He says the answer may lie in a new breed of fourth generation, or 4G, mobile devices.

ROB ENDERLE, TECHNOLOGY ANALYST: And the cell phone is trying to evolve into a personal communications device, but something less than a laptop in terms of size, but encompassing all of that in terms of the device.

M. O'BRIEN: Due out by 2010, 4G comes with promises of full Windows XP capabilities, broadband Internet speeds and a set of worldwide service standards. I'll believe it and buy it when I see it.

ENDERLE: It's really supposed to bring everybody together in some type of a kumbaya environment and things will work. But be aware, we've had this promise before, so I probably wouldn't hold my breath.


O'BRIEN: A look at the morning's top stories straight ahead, including the Secretary of Defense on the defensive when it comes to his job. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gets into a kind of testy exchange at the Pentagon. We'll bring you that.

Plus, if you've ever had that dream where you're being chased, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will take a look at some of the most common dreams and what they mean. Our special series, "Sleepless in America," is just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


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