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Tony Blair's Surprise Trip to Iraq; U.S. Military Believes Missing Soldiers May Still Be Alive; Whale Rescue Effort; Drug Violence Kills 22 in Arizona

Aired May 19, 2007 - 11:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM, where the news is unfolding live on this Saturday, May 19th. Good morning everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm T.J. Holmes. Straight ahead this hour, a bloody war being fought just miles from the U.S. border. Could the violence reach your front door?

NGUYEN: Also, saving those wayward whales, rescue efforts are going nowhere just the whales, so what now?

HOLMES: And they were just the cutest little babies. But would you believe now they are all donning caps and gowns? We'll tell with you a quintessential graduation. That is coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: But first, confronting a controversial legacy. The man who led Britain into war with Iraq made a surprise visit to Baghdad today. Now his final weeks as British prime minister, Tony Blair insisted he has no regrets about his support for the war even though that support has hurt him politically. CNN's Hugh Riminton is live in Baghdad and joins us today with the latest on this surprise trip. Hi there, Hugh.

HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there, Betty. Well you know, a farewell tour traditionally for politicians is a place where they go around the place and focus on their successes. Tony Blair still sees as Iraq as part of his success, although it has also been linked to his plummeting from one of the most unpopular British prime ministers of all time to one of the most unpopular British prime ministers of all time.

He arrived a few hours ago into the Green Zone here in Baghdad. He met with the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. As that was going on, three explosions were heard not far away.

Apparently mortar rounds in towards the Green Zone caused no damage or danger to Mr. Blair's party. But in some ways, an indicator that this is a very dangerous place four and a half years on after the invasion that Tony Blair was such a key player in getting underway.


TONY BLAIR, OUTGOING BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I've no doubt at all that Britain will remain steadfast in its support for Iraq, for the Iraqi people and for the Iraqi government as it tries to make sure that it overcomes the threat to terrorism and continues to make progress.


RIMINTON: Now 148 British service personnel have died in this war so far. Tony Blair in the last few weeks announcing the intended phase withdrawal of British troops for about 7,000 towards the south of the country at the moment. They will be coming down during the course of this year, Betty.

NGUYEN: Hugh, as we know, an intensive search is underway right now, a massive one at that for those three missing U.S. soldiers. Any new developments?

RIMINTON: There's two important things to tell you. One is that the U.S. military says they have brought in nine people they believe that were involved in the attack that led to the death of five people at the scene including one Iraqi soldier and the disappearance of the three soldiers a week ago.

They are still looking for them. They don't say what kind of involvement, but they are playing the obviously questioning closely to hopefully get close to these three. It is a dangerous and difficult search, that being highlighted with the death, sadly of a U.S. soldier in a roadside bomb as he was helping to conduct this search. Five other people were wounded, three of those U.S. soldiers, two Iraqi soldiers as they were searching for the three missing men, Betty.

NGUYEN: Hugh Riminton live for us in Baghdad today, thank you.


HOLMES: And we're getting new information, breaking information about that search for those three missing soldiers in Iraq. Our Jamie McIntyre has been working his sources and working this story. He's on the line with us. Jamie, please update us.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Well T.J., from discussions with military sources we can tell you that right now, U.S. commanders are operating under the belief that at least two and perhaps all three of the missing U.S. soldiers are still alive.

They are very careful not to talk about the intelligence or evidence that leads them to that conclusion. It's all part of clues that have been uncovered in this week-long search.

One of the things we do know is that a uniform was found that may have belonged to one of the missing soldiers. That is still under investigation.

And a senior official tells my colleague Barbara Starr that at least two of the people in custody are believed to be directly linked to the attacks. So the search now into its -- into a full week, is operating under the belief that, again, that there is reason to believe that at least two of the soldiers, perhaps all three, may still be alive.

I say two perhaps three because one official tells us that there is reason to believe that one of the missing soldiers may have died after he was captured, but the officials stress at this point they have no way to confirm that.

So they are operating again under the assumption they may all three be alive and still be somewhere where they could be rescued. T.J.?

HOLMES: And I know this is new information, Jaime, but if you can, give us any kind of idea of a level of confidence they have in that at least two, and again maybe all three - they're operating like you said, under that assumption, but any way for you to gauge, Barbara Starr to gauge, from what you're hearing that there is a good level of confidence that in fact these two and maybe all three are alive?

MCINTYRE: Well you know, they don't know, obviously. And as long as they are not in U.S. custody, they can't verify what their status is.

But again, they don't want to disclose all of the intelligence they've been able to gather in this exhaustive search going on in the week. But the evidence, I think, is safe to say it points in a particular direction.

That direction is that this search is not fruitless in the sense that there's no evidence that at least two of them have been killed and that leads them to believe that they are probably alive.

While they believe that, of course, they are going to be pursuing the search with all due diligence. These soldiers and marines who have been taking part in this search are putting in very long hours. One of the reasons they are doing that is they do believe there is a chance still they could rescue these American missing soldiers.

HOLMES: And are U.S. officials revealing at all whether or not several people now have been picked up believed to have something to do with the disappearance of these soldiers, are they revealing at all whether or not any discussions or interrogations of those who have been ape handed have been fruitful and have helped out in the search for the three?

MCINTYRE: They are not saying, except that I think you can read into the fact they say that at least two of them they believe were directly connected to the attack and that they may have more information that they could provide.

They believe these are useful contacts. Of course, they questioned hundreds of people. They detained quite a few. A small number they think may be allied to this al Qaeda affiliate group which is believed to be responsible for the Saturday attack a week ago today. HOLMES: All right, our Jamie McIntyre for us on this story. Jamie, we thank you so much for working this story and giving us those details and new information.

And certainly could be encouraging for folks to hear that at least the U.S. military working under the assumption that in fact two, maybe all three of these soldiers are still alive. Would be some very welcome news. If we get any more and certainly Jamie if you get more, we certainly hope to hear back from you, thank you so much - Jamie McIntyre.

NGUYEN: Well in the meantime, the identities of all four soldiers killed in last weekend's ambush have now been confirmed. The final name to be released was Sergeant Anthony Schober from Reno, Nevada. His father says Schober joined the army after the 9-11 attacks.


EDWARD SCHOBER, SON DIED IN IRAQ: At the age of 17, he came to me and said he wanted to join the army. He was affected by the 9-11 incident. I asked whether he was sure about this and really wanted to do it? He said yes. So I signed the papers. When he came home from basic training and advanced training, I noticed a huge difference in him. He truly changed from a boy to a man.


NGUYEN: The names of the three soldiers still missing after last week's ambush, here they are, Sergeant Alex Jimenez of Lawrence, Massachusetts, Private First Class Joseph Anzack Jr. of Torrance, California and Private Brian Fouty of Waterford, Michigan.

HOLMES: Well, now what is the question being asked? Democrats vowing to move ahead with a new bill to pay for the Iraq war next week. Compromise talks in the White House collapse over timelines. Here now, congressional correspondent Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was all smiles at the start of this high-stakes meeting with the president's men and congressional leaders trying to hammer out an agreement how to fund the war. At the end the only thing they agreed on was this.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: The meeting was disappointing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conversation this morning was a disappointment.

BASH: What happened behind closed doors? Democrats put on the table a war spending bill with a timeline for troop withdrawal which the president already vetoed. They tried to sweeten the offer by saying he could waive those deadlines. The White House said no. SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: The answer we got time after time in the meeting we had this morning is the president would take no responsibility. That's too bad.

JOSH BOLTEN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Whether waivable or not, timelines send exactly the wrong signal to our adversaries, to our allies and most importantly to the troops in the field.

BASH: Democrats say they also offered to drop billions of dollars in domestic spending the president opposes if he would accept the Iraq withdrawal timeline. Answer again.

REID: No, everything was no.

BASH: On its face, a surprising breakdown. All signs share the urgent goal of agreeing on a war spending measure by Memorial Day, only a week away.

Democrats have privately admitted for weeks they know Mr. Bush won't sign anything with deadlines attached. But the new majority remains under intense pressure from anti-war voters not to give in, and sources familiar with this strategy say Democrats are trying to show they're standing their ground until the 11th hour.

PELOSI: The difference between the Democrats and the president is the issue of accountability.

BASH: The White House made an offer, too, a funding bill that threatens to cut off Iraqi economic aid if they don't make political and economic progress and forces the president to revise his war strategy. Democrats rejected it. Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


NGUYEN: Israel launches air strikes on targets in Gaza as two rival Palestinian groups make yet another move to end their hostilities. This is the scene in Gaza City where Israel attacked Hamas targets after rocket attacks hit Israeli towns.

Now meanwhile, Hamas and Fatah agreed to their fifth ceasefire this week. More than a week of fighting between the two groups has killed dozens of Palestinians. Now in this deal, the two sides promised to pull fighters off the streets and exchange them with hostages.

HOLMES: Well, the White House is promising to move quickly in its search for a new World Bank president. Paula Wolfowitz giving up that job at the end of next month. He announced his resignation Thursday after weeks of controversy over his handling of a pay package for his girlfriend who was a former World Bank employee. The United States is the bank's biggest shareholder and has named the World Bank chief since the institution's founding more than 60 years ago.

NGUYEN: And just ahead, we do have a live report on efforts to lure a pair of lost whales out of a California river.

HOLMES: Also the latest on a wave of drug-related violence just south of the Arizona border.

NGUYEN: And these little ones, check them out. There they are. They have grown up and made their mama proud. Today is their big day. And we're going to hear from all of them ahead in the NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: Scientists are hoping for progress as they fight to save two injured whales. Kara Finnstrom joins us from West Sacramento, California with the latest on efforts to get the mother and calf back onto the Pacific Ocean. Hello to you again, are things getting any better from the last time we talked to you?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A little bit. They've got a good plan. We are actually starting with a good look at the water there where we just saw the mother whale come out of the water.

We saw a spray of water come up from her spout. Wild life officials are actually getting ready to step up their efforts to get these wayward whales back to their ocean home.

They set Tuesday as the day to begin more aggressive herding. Now we do have a map that we put together that shows you the route that they want these whales to stay back to the ocean.

It starts in this deep river channel that you see here. They'll continue through the Sacramento River, then go through the delta to the San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now the biggest risk for these whales will come once they start this route. They actually could veer off the route on their own and end up in some shallow waters. That's a little frightening for wildlife officials because they can get lodged there and the whales need water to buoy their bodies.

Their bodies are so heavy if they get lodged and they don't have the support of that water, their own weight can actually crush their internal organs.

So they say this will be the riskiest part, making sure that they actually stay inside this path that takes them back to the ocean. It's the only path. Now to make sure that they do that, they're going to do something called aggressive herding. They will be using boats with banging pipes on it. The noise from those banging pipes will kind of drive them in the direction they want to go.

They'll line the canals with that, they'll also follow the whales with that. Now a lot of the people out here have been asking us why this gentle coaxing and using the nice sounds of the humpback whales, feeding and socializing has not lured them home?

Yesterday lieutenant government John Garamendy (ph), who has been helping lead up this effort, said that one of the theories is the dynamic between the mother and its calf. She is very protective and perhaps part of that is playing into this. OK, well what he did tell us -- we unfortunately didn't have that piece of sound for you - was that a mother and her calf have a very strong dynamic and in nature she actually even has other whales who help bring the calf up to the surface after its born. And a very strong dynamic and that perhaps there is some nurturing, some protecting, some hesitancy from the mom to venture back out into the ocean.

One other big development here is that -- I think we are seeing the whales, we can hear the oohs and ahs behind us. But one other big development here, is that crowds are asked not to come out today. There's going to be a lot going on out here over the next couple of days.

It's not because of the noise, that that's bothering the whales. It's because state law enforcement says they don't have the resources to do big crowd control, they are trying to focus on these animals. Back to you.

HOLMES: And Kara, I want to make sure I have this right. They are essentially trying to make enough noise and annoy the mess out of these whales to the point they want to get away and go back in the right direction. Does that stress the animals out?

FINNSTROM: It is stressful to the animals. That's why they were hoping this gentle coaxing would work. They don't want to wait too long. They say there is no immediate danger to the animals. The mother actually is feeding off her own blubber. That's part of the natural way it's done this time of the year. She is at the end of her hibernation cycle. They do believe now that the calf still is nursing. So they don't need the food source, but they can't stay here forever and it's better to move them when they are stronger. They also can't have all these crowds out here forever and continue to try to manage that. So for a lot of reasons, they think it's best to go ahead and try and get them back to those waters now.

HOLMES: And Kara, it's funny as you said, they are asking people not to come out. We see people out there in lawn chairs. I'm sure there will be coolers and barbecue grills here in a little while whale watching. Kara Finnstrom for us.

FINNSTROM: Yep, we've seen the dogs and coolers.

HOLMES: In West Sacramento, for us, Kara, thank you so much.

NGUYEN: Well, it may be the richest sunken treasure ever discovered. Take a good look because silver and gold coins worth an estimated half a billion dollars have been found.

And apparently hoping to thwart claim jumpers as this Florida based salvage company that reported the treasure isn't saying much about where that loot is found, but there is speculation it may be from a 17th century merchant ship that went down off the coast of England. And T.J. keeps wanting me to say - what is it, what do we call it? It's treasure, but you like to call it what, T.J.?

HOLMES: Officially when it's treasure and you're talking pirates, it's called booty.

NGUYEN: Do you feel better now that you said it?

HOLMES: No, I was hoping would you add it to the story for the viewers and they would have a good accurate story there.

NGUYEN: Hey, one booty is enough. We're going to toss it over to Bonnie Schneider who is at Atlantic Station and she's talking about something completely different and that is autism and the walk out today which is for a very important cause. Can you hear us?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I do. I heard the whole story before, no comment now.

We are at the finish line now you can see the balloons. It's been such a successful day here in Atlanta and a success for the entire country. Because here in Atlanta they raised $1 million to find a cure for autism for treatment.

Half of that money will leave Georgia and go all across the country to help people suffering from this disorder. One in 150 children are affected by this disorder. So the numbers are incredible.

We're going to talk more about that in a moment, but first I want to go right to the weather maps and show you what's happening today and for your weekend.


SCHNEIDER: Well joining me now is Beth Prairie (ph) and Beth's son Denver has autism. And I know this has been a long journey for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has. It has, it started when he was about two, he started shows signs of autism and we had to go to many lengths to find help. And we finally found it at the Marcus Institute.

SCHNEIDER: How is he doing now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He made significant progress. It has been wonderful. He's been there three and a half years now. And he went from being a nonverbal, tantruming young child to a verbal, precocious, curious child. It's just been amazing.

SCHNEIDER: Beth, thank you so much and good luck to Denver, he's doing great.

We are here at the Georgia walk for autism. But if you would like more information on a walk happening in your neighborhood, feel free to check the Web site, There are over 60 walks happening nationally. It started last fall, it will go straight through to June. Betty, T.J.

NGUYEN: Raising a lot of money for a very good cause. Thank you Bonnie, we appreciate it.

HOLMES: Well coming up next, we're going to be talking about America's food supply and is it safe? We're going to get a reality check just ahead.

NGUYEN: And giving it the old college try. Is there a presidential candidate speaking to your graduating class?


HOLMES: A chicken processing plant in Kentucky now shut down after a federal inspection. In closing the Perdue plant inspectors cited concern about the safety and wholesomeness of the plant's products. The company says it hopes to reopen the plant by tomorrow or by Monday.

Now earlier this month, the plant provided the chicken breasts served to Queen Elizabeth during her visit to the Kentucky Derby. Sorry about that, we'll get that worked out, come on back.

NGUYEN: Yes, I hope she's feeling all right, T.J.

Well the recent pet food recall may be the latest indicator of how vulnerable the nation's food supply really is. And CNN's Josh Levs is here with a reality check. And in order to understand what you're talking about, we've got to keep it straight. How many different recalls are we talking about here? There's been so many.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what? There has been so many and you know, what happens is when I was hearing about some of these latest ones, it got me thinking back to something we were hearing about just a few years ago, and then more recently a few months ago. That's something called agroterrorism, the fear that terrorists may one day purposefully infect the U.S. food supply and kill huge numbers of people.

I know, scary prospect. I started to wonder how much has the government done and is it working? And it turns out there is a report by the Department of Homeland Security that suggests whatever has been done, not enough.


LEVS (voice-over): A stark warning came more than two years ago.

TOMMY THOMPSON, FORMER HHS SECRETARY: I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not, you know, attacked our food supply. Because, it is -- it is so easy to do.

LEVS: That triggered a flurry of concern about imports and foods grown here. Skip ahead to 2007. The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general finds that most experts call the U.S. food sector highly vulnerable to attack.

And the audit says security for food is less intensive than for other critical infrastructures. So, what's happened since Tommy Thompson's warning? The Government Accountability Office has cited progress.

For example, agencies that oversee different kinds of food have coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security to increase protections, and prepare a response plan.

The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees 80 percent of the food supply, points to new government initiatives, including this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the endless opportunities to intentionally contaminate our nation's food supply.

LEVS: Alert. A food defense program training people at every point between the farm and your table. The FDA says some of the most likely terrorist targets are foods that require little processing, like milk and fresh produce, and that precautions are helping make foods safe.

But, most imports and produce are uninspected. And since 2003, the FDA has lost inspection staff. Food safety experts like Jeff Nelken worry a terrorist could unleash a deadly illness that could spread quickly through U.S. crops or cattle.

JEFF NELKEN, FOOD SAFETY ANALYST: Pretty much you can walk in and grab a hold of anything you'd like to grab a hold of.


LEVS: There are some serious questions about whether the FDA and also the USDA, which oversees meat and poultry, whether they have enough resources and also really enough authority, Betty, to end up doing the kinds of security measures that people are expecting them to carry out.

NGUYEN: Well you know, watching this just really reminds you of how vulnerable the food supply is. Does the government agree that it's highly vulnerable though?

LEVS: Yes, that was the term I tossed at them because that comes from that audit. I said, do you agree? I talked to the FDA officials.

Do they agree it's highly vulnerable? It's interesting, their take is the term highly vulnerable is very subjective. So how do you decide fit is? They acknowledge there are vulnerabilities in the food.

They also say it's the safest food in the world. However, if you listen to food analysts and also some leading law makers out there who have really jumped on this issue, they say food is not anywhere nearly as protected as it should be in this country, that dramatic new steps are necessary and then they point to the accidental poisoning that have occurred recently.

So Betty, that really is fuelling this. They're saying if that much can happen by accident, imagine what terrorists can do.

NGUYEN: So dramatic steps are needed, but not highly vulnerable.

LEVS: Well, supposedly, according to the government. But an audit says it is highly vulnerable. So you know, who are you going to believe there?

NGUYEN: Be careful what you eats, folks, that's what you need to do.

LEVS: Well, we're going to learn more about that tonight, right, that's coming up?

NGUYEN: Yes, because "CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT" presents "Danger: Poison Food." Dr. Sanjay Gupta uncovers the truth about how tainted the food entering the U.S. food supply really is. Tonight and tomorrow night at 8 Eastern, don't miss it.

HOLMES: Mexico's drug war has a lot of people very nervous along the Arizona border. We'll tell what you they are doing about it. That's just ahead.


HOLMES: Having now new details in the search for three missing American soldiers in Iraq. Pentagon sources tell CNN it is now believed two of the soldiers and possibly all three may still be alive. They disappeared last week when their team was ambushed. An insurgent coalition claims it kidnapped them.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's farewell tour takes him to Iraq. After his arrival several explosions shook the Iraqi capital. Mr. Blair says security in Iraq is improving, but violence remain a way of life. The British leader will be stepping down next month.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: A border town in Arizona is on high alert this weekend. Rumors are flying that drug cartel violence could spill over the border from Mexico. Fear after dozens of gunmen raided a police station near that border and a number of Mexican officers were killed or kidnapped. During the week, that town put its only school on lockdown. Mexico banning cars from crossing the border. People trapped on the U.S. side had to abandon their vehicles and actually walk across.

HOLMES: The drug cartel battles this week centered in a Mexican town of Cananea (ph). Here is CNN's Casey Wian in a report from "Lou Dobbs Tonight."


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just 20 miles south of the Arizona border, the deadliest battle so far in Mexico's war against the drug cartels that control much of the country. Twenty two people in the Sonoran town of Cananea are dead after Federal troops stormed a ranch Wednesday, 15 drug cartel members, five policemen and two civilians.

TRANSLATOR: We find ourselves terrorized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very, very bad. It's a very peaceful town. We have never seen this here.

WIAN: But it's happening throughout Mexico. In the capital Monday,. gunmen assassinated Jose Lugo, a top anti-narcotics official in the attorney general's office.

RICARDO NAJERA, MEXICAN ATTY. GEN'S OFFICE (through translator): We are working very hard to find out what's caused this violence and we hope to have a quick response to the situation.

WIAN: The Mexican government's response has been to deploy 24,000 Federal troops to battle drug traffickers nationwide. Still, violence is escalating. Kidnappers occur regularly including this week's abduction of a Mexican television news crew.

So far this year, more than 1,000 people have been killed by drug cartels according to Mexican media reports. And the violence is spreading to U.S. border communities. Governors of Arizona and New Mexico wrote President Bush this week demanding more border patrol agents.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D) NEW MEXICO: When there's an open border with illegal flow of workers, it breeds other bad people like drug lords that take advantage of a porous border and they are violent and they want to get their drug product in.

WIAN: The drug violence has even become entrenched in Mexican popular culture. Videos like these on YouTube set narco corridio (ph) music to images of drugs, weapons and dead bodies. They're a celebration of the drug trafficking culture and the drug lords now battling for control of one third of Mexico's states. Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


NGUYEN: President Bush is trying to sell a new immigration deal. By all accounts though, it's going to have to be a hard sell. His conservative base slamming the bill. They call it amnesty, a sellout of consecutive principles. Not for the president.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I appreciate the efforts of senators who came together to craft this important legislation. This bill brings us closer to an immigration system that enforces our laws and upholds the great American tradition of welcoming those who share our values and our love of freedom.


HOLMES: That immigration deal so touchy that a pair of Republican senators shouting at each other. Here is how this particular shouting match went down as "The Washington Post" outlines it. Senator John McCain a bill supporter. John Cornyn you see there on the other side, he's a bill doubter. McCain apparently called Cornyn's concerns petty, describing them as chicken manure, if you will. Yes, that was watered down for the purposes of morning television. Cornyn then accused McCain of parachuting into the negotiations from the presidential campaign trail. The "Post" said that caused McCain to blow up dropping the F-bomb. A McCain spokesman concedes the ruckus did go down, but disputes some of the particulars, not sure which ones.

Meanwhile, President Bush's Commerce secretary talking up the immigration deal in the NEWSROOM tonight with Rick Sanchez. That's at 10:00 Eastern only right here on CNN.

NGUYEN: This is a big weekend for college commencements and during a presidential campaign, some schools are finding themselves with very high-profile speakers. At this hour Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is one of the first primary states at a southern New Hampshire university. Another Democratic contender, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at Dillard University in New Orleans, still recovering from hurricane Katrina.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While you may have been scared and uncertain, you did take a deep breath, probably many deep breaths and you showed this country exactly what that Dillard University motto means. You are the living, breathing embodiment of the confidence that comes from faith.


NGUYEN: Also delivering a commencement address today, a possible Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich address at Liberty University in Virginia came just days after the death of the university's founder Reverend Jerry Falwell.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: The vision of Dr. Falwell was more than he could accomplish in his lifetime. We know that he had much more planned for Liberty, but like him, we can be confident in the scripture's promise that though the vision is for his appointed time, it will surely come.


NGUYEN: Later today, two former presidents will speak together at the University of New Hampshire's commencement, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

HOLMES: These Florida quintuplets have come a long way. Today is graduation day. There is the crew. There they are, all grown up. Ma's about to get them out of the house finally. The proud mother and the quintuplets just ahead. NGUYEN: If she's that lucky.

And the thing that is special about this video is what isn't there. Take a good look. We're going to show you some of the most popular videos on the Internet a little bit later in the NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: It's graduation season and there are a lot of proud parents out there, none prouder than Rolanda Martino. Her daughter Veronica graduating from high school today. OK, that sounds great, but so is her daughter Danielle, also her son Paul, also her son Derek, also her son Matthew.

Rolanda is the mother of quintuplets and she and the quits are with us from Palm Beach, Florida to share this big day. Good to see all six of you. Hello, graduation day. Know you are all excited. I will direct the first question to the kids. Any of you all pick up on this and answer this. But in a way are you glad you are about to get away from each other a little bit. Are you happy?




HOLMES: You all and your story. It's been in the news all your lives. Now you get a chance to kind of branch out. So really is it an opportunity to get out there and get some individuality and kind of get away from those siblings you've been such a part of for so long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even when we are together we still have individuality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We live our separate lives even though (INAUDIBLE) .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We kind of get used to each other any way.

HOLMES: Do you all kind of get sick at some of the stupid questions like who is the oldest?


HOLMES: What's it like at dinnertime and all that stuff?


HOLMES: Mom, I will ask you then. What is this day like for you? It has been a long, tough road, no doubt, to raise five all the same age. You made it. What is today like for you?

ROLANDA MARTINO, MOTHER OF GRADUATING QUINTS: Relieved. It's I been a very long four years -- 18.

HOLMES: Eighteen.

MARTINO: Well, the last four years have been the toughest.

HOLMES: Why were the last four the toughest?

MARTINO: Just trying to get them through high school, keeping them in school long enough to graduate, try to get them through these FCATs. It's been a long tough road.

HOLMES: Now, I'm not sure what the plans are for all the kids. There are some college plans. It's going to be maybe going some different directions, but not going to be too far away. Seriously, mom, would you like to get the kids out of the house?

MARTINO: I think I will kind of miss it. I like having the kids around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be quiet.

MARTINO: It would be too quiet for me.

HOLMES: Kids, what are your plans? What do you all plan to do after graduation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I'm not going to college or anything. Actually I'm going to work and travel the world.

HOLMES: Go around the room. Everybody answer that for me. What are you going to do?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably move to Orlando.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most likely move to New Jersey.

HOLMES: What is the party going to be like this evening, guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be tomorrow.

HOLMES: Tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tomorrow. We are just inviting a couple of friends over, some relatives, nothing crazy, nothing crazy.

HOLMES: I know you talked about even you all together, you still have that individuality. But you have very much, really since you were kids, you've been a news story. Has that really not been something you craved to kind of get to branch out a little bit? And tell us all of you about your personalities. Are you all really that much alike?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No actually we are totally different. We all have different personalities. We all dress differently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Different likes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Different likes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Different dislikes.

HOLMES: I notice as well that some of you are more outspoken than others. The folks in the back not saying much. Why are you all so quiet back there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They take the spotlight.

HOLMES: Is that how it usually goes?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we were put in front.

HOLMES: Is there any sense among the five that there is a little brother or big sister or anything like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a big sister named Brandon.

MARTINO: No I have two older boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has two older boys.

HOLMES: Mom, what do you want, has it been tough for you, as well? They talk about that individuality but was it hard to give that special attention to each of these five who have the same needs, same ages, same everything? How did you nurture and make sure that they all had those individual relationships with you and you nurtured their individuality?

MARTINO: I don't know. Some of them say I have favoritism, but if I do, I don't see it. I don't know. It's tough. It's tough because some of them you can't get close to and some you can. Some of them show you a little more attention than the rest.

HOLMES: All right. Kids, you all tell me last thing, which one of you all a favorite to your mom?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what they are talking about. Not me.

HOLMES: It's a pleasure to see you. Again, your whole story has been documented from start to finish the moment you all were born. The Martino quintuplets, Matthew, Derek, Paul, Danielle and Veronica, can't forget Veronica in there and mom Rolanda Martino, congratulations on graduation. You all have a great time and maybe see you down the road some time.

NGUYEN: That mother man, she needs a vacation. They need to get her something for graduation.

Have you seen this though? The world's most persistent attack turtle? Yes, an attack turtle. Fun with the Internet videos. That's next in the NEWSROOM.


NGUYEN: You might be watching CNN and spending a little time on the web. Well, Veronica de la Cruz is there too and she joins us with what is hot online and these videos are hilarious.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are definitely having fun with these Internet videos this morning. Go and check out this I- report from South Africa. It shows a tortoise trying to show a house cat just who is boss. This video, it goes on for more than two minutes. Does this little guy in the shell ever back down? Let's wait, watch. Yeah. I think the answer is no. The cat, not so happy. Like I mentioned, it goes on for two minutes. I had to watch the entire thing. It was hysterical and this I-report video is available online at

Let's take you now to YouTube where as you know you can pretty much find everything and anything including this, a one-legged salsa dancer. This guy and his partner are giving the folks on "Dancing with the Stars" a run for their money. This amazing video on YouTube is being e-mailed around the world fast and furious. We assumed it was fake when we first saw it, but after watching it several times, we are hoping that it is legit. We are keeping an eye on the most (INAUDIBLE) video on the web this morning. We were just talking about it in the NEWSROOM, T.J. and Betty and in order to get into some of the position when he goes down on one leg, he has a lot of strength. Look at that. Look at that.

NGUYEN: Maybe he was a dancer before he lost his leg and that's why he is so good at it. When you look at it, it's awfully suspect. He's pretty good.

DE LA CRUZ: If it was a green screen, I don't think it would be as three-dimensional. We are look at it a couple different times. We're hoping it's legit. Even if it's not ...

NGUYEN: Bottom line, this dancer, if you are watching, call us. Call into CNN.

DE LA CRUZ: Give us a call, that's right.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Veronica.

HOLMES: NEWSROOM continues at the top of the hour with another very fine dancer, Fredricka Whitfield.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: T.J., I don't know. From your body language, you weren't buying that dancer. HOLMES: If he is that good, that's why I'm not buying it.

WHITFIELD: Maybe you'll buy this, the boars and the bees, heard a little bit about this. I'm not having an enunciation problem. Let's talk first about the bees, the honey bees, where are they? Where have all the honey bees gone?

NGUYEN: I was just asking that the other day.

WHITFIELD: Mysterious that so many of these beehives have gone vacant. Where have the honey bees gone and what does it mean for human existence? Now let's talk about New Orleans. New Orleans has gone wild, but hog wild. It's because while Katrina pushed out a lot of people, somehow it pushed in a lot of wild boars. What is the explanation?

Our Susan Roesgen gets down and dirty with the wild boars in New Orleans. All that straight ahead, plus of course, we're continuing to follow the developments out of Iraq on whether these missing soldiers are indeed alive. We'll get a live report from Jamie McIntyre.

NGUYEN: That is new information coming into CNN. Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Have a good day.

HOLMES: We're going to have the latest on Liz Taylor and one of her favorite paintings. Stick around for that here in the NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maintaining a good credit score is critical. It means better rates on mortgages and loans. Some employers even scrutinize your credit score before they offer you a job. Among the many things could you do to improve your score, challenge any and all mistakes on file with credit reporting agencies. 79 percent of all credit reports contain some type of error. Write a letter to the credit reporting agency disputing their information, providing proof, if you can.

NGUYEN: The man in Elizabeth Taylor's life nowadays that would be ...

HOLMES: I don't know, who is the man these days.

NGUYEN: Vincent Van Gogh, a Federal appeals court.

HOLMES: ...history.

NGUYEN: True, let's the Oscar-winning actress actually keep her masterpiece. It's Van Gogh's view of the asylum at (INAUDIBLE) St. Remy completed in 1889. A family that fled Nazi Germany claims the painting is theirs, but even if it is, the court ruled the plaintiffs waited too long to bring their suit.


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