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Frist Breaks from Bush on Stem Cell Research; Terror Suspects in Custody in London and Rome; Energy Bill Extends Daylight Savings Time

Aired July 29, 2005 - 14:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now back to Senator Bill Frist and his decision to break with President Bush and back expanded federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. A rapid response from a leading abortion opponent, the Reverend Patrick J. Mahoney. Quoting now: "Senator Frist can't have it both ways. He cannot be pro-life and pro-embryonic stem cell funding." Well, can he or can't he?
Let's bring in our senior political analyst Bill Schneider to talk about Frist's decision and how it plays politically. Bill, good to talk to you.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here.

HARRIS: Well, can he have it both ways? Is this kind of a classic flip-flop?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he would say he's not flip-flopping. He says that his policy, that he announced in a dramatic Senate floor speech today, is consistent with the policy that he announced in July 2001. That date is significant, because he gave that first speech a few weeks before the president announced his own stem cell policy. And in that speech, he urged the federal government to fund stem cell research for the first time, which the president did.

But he also added, this does not limiting it to research using stem cells that have already been derived to date. The president did put that limit on the research. Frist now claims that limit is too restrictive, there aren't enough stem cell lines. But what he's saying, he says, is consistent with what he initially urged the president to do.

HARRIS: So when is a flip-flop not a flip-flop? OK, Bill, how risky a move is this for a man with presidential aspirations to be splitting with the president of his own party?

SCHNEIDER: Well, as you saw in that photo a few minutes ago, which was today, he still seems pretty friendly with the president, and he consult with the president last night, he says, on what he was going to do on the floor of the Senate today. On the other hand, if the bill passes the Senate -- it's already passed the House -- and if President Bush makes this his first veto, the issue will require a lot of symbolic importance to conservatives who tend to be the kinds of voters who dominate Republican primaries.

On the other hand, you shouldn't underestimate the importance of statement to Republican voters, particularly from Nancy Reagan, who issued a statement today that said, "Thank you, Senator Frist" -- Dr. Frist, she calls him -- he is both -- "for standing up for America's patients."

HARRIS: Yes, let me read that -- a bit of that. "Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to alleviate so much suffering. Surely, by working together, we can harness its life-giving potential. Thank you, Dr. Frist, for standing up for America's patients." This is big, isn't it?

SCHNEIDER: It is big. And that has standing. Clearly, he's trying to strike a balance here. In fact, in his speech, he said it is a matter of faith, but it's also a matter of science. He's trying to strike a balance between the two; the same balance, really, he called for fours ago. when the president announced the slightly different balance, Frist supported him. And now he's parting company with the president. But I think a lot of people may respect him for this decision. Really, what it depends on is whether the president chooses to make this bill his first veto.

HARRIS: Too cynical of you here to suggest that this was a kind of political calculation, to get on the public side of what seems to be a popular issue for the public?

SCHNEIDER: I don't think it was political calculation, because he really is taking a big risk here. Look, we found in May that only a narrow majority of the public, 53 percent, support easing restrictions on stem cell research. And a majority of Republicans, the constituency that he has to be concerned about if he's planning to run for president in 2008 -- a majority of Republicans oppose easing restrictions. So if there's a political calculation here, it's a very risky one.

HARRIS: Yes, Bill Schneider. As always, good to talk to. Thanks, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Sure, Tony.

HARRIS: Well, they'll kick this around this afternoon on "INSIDE POLITICS." That's at 3:30 Eastern, noon Pacific. And in case it slipped your attention, it is Friday, which means Bill Schneider will award his "Play of the Week."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: A big announcement out of NASA today. NASA chief Michael Griffith says he's not ruling out another shuttle launch this year. That despite the fact the space agency has suspended all the shuttle flights, while engineers work on the nagging problem of foam debris.

And with more on that and an update on the condition of the Shuttle Discovery, we turn to CNN's John Zarrella, who is live at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Hi, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Tony. Not a whole lot new to report on the foam debris issue. In fact, NASA's saying that until they have something to say, they're just not going to say much about it at all. And that's probably the right way to go.

But for a change today, after two really down days, a good day for the astronauts in space, on board the International Space Station now, and mission controllers on the ground. For about three hours this morning, two of the astronauts maneuvered the shuttle's mechanical arm, after it had picked up this array of sensors and cameras. They maneuvered that under the belly of the Space Shuttle Discovery. And they eyeballed the belly, getting a look at the sensitive heat-shielding tiles on the bottom of the shuttle.

And the bottom line on all that was that it appeared very, very good news. They did not see much of any damage, just a few nicks and scrapes on those shuttle tiles. They looked at about six different six suspect areas, found nothing. Very good news. In fact, they said at a press briefing later, that this means they are pretty certain they're going to clear the shuttle for a nominal return to Earth at the end of the mission.

And that possibly could be extended by a day, because of the fact that the issue involving the external tank, debris falling off the external tank, could ground the fleet for an extended period of time. Staying up in orbit now while they're there might be the right thing to do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL ENGELAUF, MISSION OPERATIONS: If we needed to extend the mission, it would be to accomplish more docked activities with the station. Anything that could be taken advantage of, the number of crew members available during dock operations, anything that might be better done with the unique tools that are available on the shuttle. And we're certainly looking ahead at any of the content of the SGS-121 mission that we feel would be beneficial to pull forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now tomorrow morning, a big day begins at about 4:45 a.m. Eastern time. Tony, if you want to get up, the first of three planned spacewalks. This one's going to go about five hours. And at the beginning of that spacewalk, two of the astronauts are going to go outside and they're going to test two different techniques for repairing tiles in space, if that should become a necessity on future missions. Fortunately, it wasn't necessary on this mission -- Tony.

HARRIS: Let me set my watch here. What time is that again, John?

ZARRELLA: 4:45 a.m. Eastern time, the hatch opens and they will exit.

HARRIS: OK, John Zarrella, appreciate it. Thanks, John.

ZARRELLA: You got it, Tony. ZARRELLA: And this just in, we can now confirm the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts will begin September 6th, the day after Labor Day. Republicans hope to get Roberts through the process on the bench by the time the high court starts its new term in October.

Up next, Congress makes the move to make Daylight Savings Time last longer. We'll explain why next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: A new energy bill chock full of tax breaks will soon be on the president's desk after sailing through the Senate about an hour ago. The measure passed the House by a wide margin just yesterday. It offers billions of dollars to tax breaks and subsidies to energy companies to encourage oil and gas drilling, build new nuclear power reactors and expand renewable energy sources. So, how are consumers affected?

While the bill isn't expected to have short term benefits on gas prices, it does offered tax credits for the purchase of fuel cell powered vehicles and hybrid. And a tax break is offered to consumers who buy energy efficient appliances. But the provision that Americans will likely notice the most effects when we fall and spring forward. It extends Daylight Savings Time four weeks starting in 2007. The change is designed to save energy, but some complained it will end up costing them money.

CNN's Chris Huntington has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's dawn at the Dean Crest Dairy Farm in Blairstown, New Jersey. That's before 6:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight time. Bert Dean has been working for half an hour and so has his son, Bill. They're schedule is set by their dairy cows, clock time is an afterthought. So, they aren't exactly bowled over by a fact of four extra weeks of daylight savings time.

BURT DEAN, DEAN CREST DAIRY FARM: I don't think it makes that much difference, really.

BILL DEAN, DEAN CREST DAIRY FARM: It doesn't matter if it's light out or dark out, because the cows have to be milked every 12 hours.

HUNTINGTON (on camera): In the past, farmers opposed daylight saving, because it put their sun driven schedules even more out of sink with everyone elses. These day, modern farmers simply shrug at the notion of extended daylight hours and say that that is unlikely to help conserve energy.

(voice-over): The Dean's farm like most is energy conservative intensive no matter what time it is. In fact, long summer days require more power to keep the cows and the milk cool. So extending daylight hours is unlikely to help. The U.S. airline industry is in a flap, saying the change would put them out of sync with international schedules, create chaos, cost U.S. carriers $150 million a year and disrupt half a million passengers.

JAMES C. MAY, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION: They're either going to have to sit around airports an hour longer than they are used to sitting around, or they are going to miss their connections all together.

HUNTINGTON: The most serious objection to extended daylight saving come from parents. The National PTA is concerned that for an extra four weeks a year, children would wait even longer in the dark for their morning school buses.

The rationale for daylight saving is that it saves energy. Daylight time was first adopted during World War I primarily to save coal. And again during World War II to save fuel. It was extended in 1974 and 1975 to save oil.

Members of Congress pushing the new extension cite the 1975 government study that found extending daylight savings cut energy by about 1 percent. That would now be about 200,000 barrels of oil a day based on Energy Department statistics.

David Preraur who worked on that study, is not so sure its 30- year-old conclusions still hold.

DAVID PRERAUR, AUTHOR: That study was comprehensive at the time. And it did find the saving of one percent in energy. And it did not identify any increase in travel. However, of course, things may well have changed.

HUNTINGTON: Things have changed. The Department of Energy does not stand by that study. And is expected to conduct a new one.

There is one benefit that would definitely come from extended daylight saving, an extra hour of daylight on Halloween so children can look forward to trick or treating until the cows come home.

Chris Huntington, CNN, Blairstown, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Well, can a solution to America's crystal meth problem be found in Oklahoma? Coming up in the next hour of LIVE FROM, we'll tell you what the state did to cut down on dealers and what Capitol Hill wants to do now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: We want to take you back to London now and talk to our CNN investigative producer Henry Schuster. Henry was on hand for the press briefing from Scotland Yard inside the hour. And Henry, you have some new information as to how the raids -- two separate locations -- went down.

HENRY SCHUSTER, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, Tony, what I can tell you now is that we know now that no shots were fired during these raids. We had talked earlier about residents hearing the sound of what sounded like explosions. What we are told now is the entry door, the front door, was blown off by police as they began the raid. Then there began -- that's what the first sound of explosives was. Then there was that period of prolonged negotiation, which we have captured on video. And then when the negotiations failed, the next round of explosions that were heard were due to C.S. gas, tear gas, being fired into the apartment. And that seems finally to have allowed the police to come in and arrest these two men.

Now, that's at the Peabody Estates. What we were also told is that the other man who was arrested over in Notting Hill, in what they is Tavistock Crescent, that man is not being identified. But the clear implication is that that man is the fifth -- possible fifth suspected bomber. Remember, we had that unexploded device that was found in a London park last Saturday. There was never any clear explanation for that.

We had been, of course -- Nic Robertson and I had been looking at the possibility that there was a fifth bomber. The clear implication is that the man, now in custody in Tavistock Crescent arrest, was possibly, quite possibly, the fifth suspected bomber. As for it raids and the timing, they believed that the man in Tavistock Crescent was the first one to be -- have been arrested. The two arrests then took place in the Peabody Estates. They cannot give us an exact time in Rome of the arrests there, but they do say that it was clearly coordinated with the other arrests that took place today.

They say there are -- these were wonderful developments. But they do say that the next stage of this investigation, at least concerning the 21st of July bomb -- attempted bombings -- is that they're going after the planners and the support network. And they tell us, be prepared. There will be more activity. We will see more activity, we'll see more raids, and that we should be prepared for that.

And one other thing, Tony. They say that so far, they have searched the flats where they made the arrests today in London. No trace, at least now, of explosives in either of the two places.

HARRIS: OK, no new explosives found so far.

SCHUSTER: No new explosives found, which raises the question -- if there are other devices, where are they? If there is a bomb maker who is not one of those four or five men, where is he or where are they? They're saying that this is next part of their investigation, the planners and the support network.

HARRIS: All right. CNN investigative producer Henry Schuster in London. Henry, appreciate it. Great information, thank you.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

HARRIS: More terror suspects are in custody in London and Rome. It's a story that's been developing all day. We'll have another live report from England, just three minutes away. Plus, from the war on terror to the war on drugs. How one state found a way to cut down on the number of crystal meth labs. We'll tell you, when CNN's LIVE FROM continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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