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Threat To America; Kolkraft Recall; Family-Friendly Skies; Chelsea Photo Flap

Aired September 27, 2007 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: In the dark. The security gap that leads the nation's power grid wide open to terror.

SCOTT BORG, U.S. CYBER CONSEQUENCES UNIT: It's equivalent to 40 to 50 large hurricanes striking all at once.


CHETRY: Parents beware. A half million playpens recalled after the death of a 10-month-old baby. Another China connection?

Plus, captive audience. Violent movies in flight, with children on board. Should the friendly skies be forced to be kid-friendly, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And welcome. It is Thursday, September 27th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm John Roberts.

We begin this morning with a CNN terror watch. There are fears that a terrorist with a keyboard anywhere in the world could cripple this nation's power grid and bring our economy to its knees. Many notable computer and security experts warned of the danger of cyber attacks five years ago, but now the federal government is taking those warnings very seriously. Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve has got the story.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): This is an electric generator. It is vital because it is the kind that power companies use to bring electricity to your home. It shutters and shakes, then goes up in smoke, destroyed just as effectively as if it was a smuggled bomb. But all it took was a computer, some patient work and the click of a mouse.

ROBERT JAMISON, ACTING UNDERSECRETARY, DHS: What's new here is that through a cyber attack you can actually get in and cause physical damage to equipment. That's the new piece of this.

MESERVE: Could a large scale simultaneous cyber attack knock out power to a huge part of the country for months? Listen to what economist Scott Borg projects if such a nightmare scenario played out with a loss to a power to a third of the country for three months.

SCOTT BORG, U.S. CYBER CONSEQUENCES UNIT: It's equivalent to 40 to 50 large hurricanes striking all at once. It's greater economic damage than any modern economy has ever suffered.

MESERVE: The potential damage is so severe, the Department of Homeland Security asked CNN not to divulge certain technical details about the government experiment dubbed Aurora (ph). The test was conducted last March at the Idaho National Lab.

We can say that the research involved hacking into a replica of a power plant's control system. Researchers changed the operating cycle of the generator, sending it out of control, until it self-destructed. Since the test, the Department of Homeland Security has been working feverishly with the electric industry to thwart such an attack.

Can you say right now that this vulnerability has been eliminated?

JAMISON: No, I can't say it's been eliminated, but I can say that a lot of risk has been taken off the table.

MESERVE: Joe Weiss is an expert on power plant control systems and has been sounding the alarm for five years.

So the same systems we're using here are being used in Iran, Pakistan?


MESERVE: Which means people there know how to run them in?

WEISS: Absolutely.

MESERVE: They know how to bring them down?

WEISS: Absolutely. They have the same training, the same passwords.

MESERVE: And security experts say it would be virtually impossible to figure out who attacked. DHS points out that its own research uncovered the power plant vulnerability and action it is taking with industry is reducing the risk. But the question remains, can the U.S. close the cyber security holes before the hackers find them.


ROBERTS: That was Jeanne Meserve reporting for us this morning.

Despite all of the warnings and worry, there has not been any publicly known successful cyber attack against an electric utility control system, yet.

Also new this morning, a determined terrorist could bring radioactive materiel across the U.S./Canada border. That's according to a report from congressional investigators that's going to be delivered on Capitol Hill today. Investigators had little or no trouble crossing at several places along the 5,000-mile-long border carrying a bag with mock radio active materiel. The did not test the Mexican border, but they say there are plenty of gaps there too. Border patrol has nearly 12,000 agents on the southern border and less than 1,000 on the border with Canada.


CHETRY: John, we're also following breaking news in the Asian nation of Myanmar this morning. Another showdown between tens of thousands of anti-government protesters, as well as military police. Soldiers ordering demonstrators in Yangon, the country's largest city, to break it up or "face extreme action."

Well, witnesses say that that extreme action has already happened in some cases. At least 10 people shot by soldiers. Reports say that most of the protesters are now off of the main streets. There were also hundreds of arrests. There's some video as well of the people walking through the streets, running away from some of the police and there you see the police with riot gear on.

The protesters were angry about overnight raids where they say police beat up and arrested more than 100 monks. Since last week, thousands of monks have been protesting their right to question the government. There are also fears of a repeat in 1988 when around 3,000 people were killed in a failed uprising.

ROBERTS: Four minutes after the hour. And other headline new this morning.

U.S.-led forces are going after a suspected militant compound in Afghanistan's Helmand Province today. They are reporting 170 insurgents killed in the past 72 hours.

And two Red Cross workers and their two Afghan drivers have been kidnapped in Afghanistan. They were on a mission to free a German hostage and they helped get 19 South Korean missionaries released from the Taliban last month.

And war funding now. The latest request from the Bush administration is seeking $190 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for next year. That's up $42 billion from initial estimates. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the extra money will pay for the troop increase and more armored vehicles like the mine- resistant MRAP that goes for about $600,000 to $750,000 a copy.

No guarantee from the Democrats front-runners that they will bring the troops home from Iraq by the end of their first four years in office. The Democratic candidates for president debated last night at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that we should have all our troops out by 2013, but I don't want to make promises.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is my goal to have all troops out by the end of my first term. But I agree with Barack. It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting.

TIM RUSSERT, MEDIATOR: You're kidding. You'll pledge to have all troops out by January of 2013?

DENNIS KUCINICH, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By January -- by April of 2007. And you can mark that on your calendars if you want, to take a new direction.

RUSSERT: Well, it's September of '07 now. So we're going to have a problem with that.

KUCINICH: Well, make that 2009. I'm ready to be president today.



One other highlight from the debate. Senator Clinton disagreed with a hypothetical situation outlined by a one-time guest moderator Tim Russert's, where the president would allow torture to stop a major act of terrorism.


CLINTON: I think it's dangerous to go down this path.

RUSSERT: The guest who laid out this scenario for me with that proposed solution was William Jefferson Clinton last year. So he disagrees with you.

CLINTON: Well, he's not standing here right now.

RUSSERT: So there is a disagreement?

CLINTON: Well, I'll talk to him later.


ROBERTS: Gotcha and gotcha back.

The latest CNN/WMUR poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire has got Clinton well ahead of the pack. Forty-three percent of New Hampshire Democrats say they'll vote for her. Only 20 percent for her closest competitor, Barack Obama.

On the Republican side of the coin, Mitt Romney lost his big lead in New Hampshire, according to our latest poll. And John McCain picking up a head of steam. Romney has 25 percent, down from 34 percent in July. Rudy Giuliani nearly neck and neck with him at 24 percent, up from 20. McCain up to 18 percent now. Fred Thompson, though, take a look at that, hasn't moved since July.


CHETRY: Well, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sat down with our Christiane Amanpour last night. Then he quickly got up. She asked just two questions. It was supposed to be a half-hour interview, but it ended abruptly with this answer about his feeling toward politicians who objected to his visit to Columbia University.


MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT, IRAN, (through translator): We don't really delve into the details of what American politicians here say or think. What matters to us is move on the right path towards peace, towards the exchange of ideas, and to pave the way to establish friendship and brotherly relations and mutual understanding between nations.

Thank you very much.


CHETRY: There he goes. You see him making the move to take his microphone off. In all, that interview lasted just four and a half minutes.

Well, a ruling in the Mychal Bell case in Jena, Louisiana, could clear the way for his release. Prosecutors now say they will not challenge the ruling that set aside his conviction and sent the case to juvenile court. Bell is 17 now. He was 16 when he was arrested with five other boys after an attack on a white student at Jena High School.

Six catholic nuns in Arkansas have been ex-communicated. The diocese of Little Rock saying that the nuns belong to a Canadian sect that believes its 86-year-old founder is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary. The diocese took the unprecedented action after the nuns refused to leave the group. It's known as the Army of Mary. The Vatican has declared all of those members ex-communicated.


ROBERTS: Coming up on nine minutes after the hour and time to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for other stories new that we're following this morning.

And just in to us today, another recall of products made in China. This time it's playpens and there has been a death. Our Ali Velshi at our business update desk.

Good morning, Ali. Got some more on this?


Yes, one infant has reportedly died and a company called Kolkraft is now voluntarily recalling 12 models, 425,000 of these playyards or playpens. There were several models of these selling for between $50 and $130.

There are two risks. One is the one that apparently caused the death of this child. It was a strangulation risk because of a strap. The other one is a suffocation risk because of a raised cradle on one of these playpens that rocks back and forth and the child can get caught and suffocate on the side of that thing.

We're getting more information on this, but the Consumer Safety Products Commission website has information on it. Kolkraft is the name of the manufacturer of this. There are 12 models.

And, John, this is the stack of information that we're going through. This is yesterday's recalls. Just yesterday. We had a series of recalls, probably half a dozen serious ones, adding up to three-quarter of a million products being recalled.

So it is really ramping up, particularly ahead of the holiday shopping season. Although I don't know what I'd have to do if I were a parent. It would be full time work just going through the house to find out what exactly is dangerous to your child. We'll continue to have more on this through the course of the morning.

ROBERTS: Some members of Congress calling the situation ridiculous. It needs to be urgently addressed.

VELSHI: Absolutely.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks. We'll check back in with you in just a little while.

By the way, for a complete list of the affected playpens and all of the product numbers, go to our web page. It's all there at

Well, a new push to protect young fliers from seeing violent in- flight movies. Our Alina Cho on this story from the national update desk.

Legislation pending in Washington on this, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. Just this week, in fact, John, as you well know, people of a certain generation remember when commercial planes used to have smoking sessions. Now some members of Congress want to do something similar for kids. There's a new bill that's circulating that would create so- called child seating areas. Places where kids under 13 can sit and not be exposed to those big screens on planes that often show violent movies. Now some parents say it's about time. One man even started a website where angry parents can sound off.


JESSE KALISHER, KIDSAFEFILMS.ORG: Parents have been telling us about nightmares that their kids have been having for weeks after being on a flight and seeing images they shouldn't see. They tell us stories of kids literally lying down on their parents' lap with a blanket over their head for two hours so that they're not going to be exposed to the images that they know are going to frighten them.


CHO: Now we talked to one family with a six year old son. They told us about what happened to them when a flight they were on showed the violent movie "Shooter." You'll hear from them and what the airlines have to say about this, John, in our next half hour.

ROBERTS: All right. Looking forward to it.

We're also going to be speaking with Congressman Heath Shuler of North Carolina who is the fellow who introduced that legislation. And that will be coming up in our 7:00 hour.

Alina Cho, thanks very much.

Rob Marciano at the CNN weather desk for us this morning, tracking extreme weather.

Some pretty serious thunderstorms down there in Texas today, Rob.


CHETRY: Well, more trouble for Michael Vick, topping your "Quick Hits" now. He tested positive for marijuana, so a federal judge has ordered Vick to wear an electronic monitor and to submit to random drug tests. It also means Vick could face more jail time when he's sentenced in December for federal dogfighting charges.

And the votes are in, Barry Bonds record-setting 756th home run ball should end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but branded with a big asterisk. Fashion designer Mark Echo, who bought that ball, then set up a website for fans and he asked them to vote on the fate of the ball. He said the decision to brand the ball one out over sending it to Cooperstown unblemished or launching it to space. Those were the other options.

Still ahead, some scary moments at the drive-through caught on tape. What drove someone or a group of girls to pepper spray the lady at the counter. We're going to show you more on that.

Also, Jenny McCarthy talks about her son's struggle with autism and she's setting off a buzz about what she thinks triggered it. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Seventeen minutes after the hour. We had it for you yesterday. It appears it was another false alarm, though, and it tops your "Quick Hits" here. A photo of a little girl in Morocco apparently not missing British toddler Madeleine McCann. British newspapers say the little girl in the picture lives in Morocco. Her father is an olive farmer and it was her mother who was carrying her on her back in that picture that was snapped by those two Spanish tourists. She's of the Berber people, who, on occasion, do have blonde hair and blue eyes. From a distance, there was some resemblance to Madeleine, but up close, not so much.

A student at St. Johns University of New York is under arrest this morning. He is accused of walking through campus wearing a mask and carrying a rifle in a bag. This morning's "New York Post" shows a warning that was sent via text message to students. It says, man with a rifle on campus, stay in place. We saw that at Delaware State University the other day, and again at St. John's, where they're getting those warnings out very quickly now in the wake of what happened at Virginia Tech back in April.

And a woman in Arizona got some unexpected company when her neighbor backed her truck right into her house. Police say Anna Nunes (ph) stepped on her accelerator while her car was in reverse. It took 15 minutes for rescue workers to get her out of that car. No one seriously injured though, thankfully.


CHETRY: Police in Broward County now are investigating a pepper spray attack at a fast-through drive-through. You can see it on the surveillance video. Two McDonald's employees are blasted by a chemical that's believed to be pepper spray. There you see the chemical get blasted as the car drives away. Police are still searching for the car and the five young women inside. Two of the employees voluntarily went to get checked out to make sure they were OK. They did evacuate the entire restaurant because others were coughing as well after that attack.

Well, you have to look closely at this one. It's a video arcade in New Jersey. And you watch as someone holding this little girl puts her down by the counter and then you can make out as the little girl crawls underneath. Police say that she came back with someone's purse and then the two quickly take off. There are no leads on this so far, but police say they are working to enhance the video.

Assault charges dropped against a six-year-old boy with autism. Nathaniel Darnell was charged with fourth degree assault for allegedly knocking over a kindergarten aide who said she suffered bruises on her arm and cuts on her knee. The judge dismissed the charges due to Nathan's age and his autism. Nathan's parents say they want teachers to receive better training on how to deal with children with autism.

And speaking of autism, a highly criticized vaccine preservative is safe for children according to a government study out today. Children exposed to thimerosal showed no development problems in language, behavior or intelligence. Thimerosal is made with mercury. It's been eliminated from most vaccines since 2002 because of parental concerns, although it still is used in some. Flu vaccine, some are thimerosal free and some are not. Well, thousands of families still say they're not buying this study. They still believe that it can cause or even trigger autism in their children. Today's study doesn't directly address autism but they say that a separate study specifically on vaccines and autism is in the works as well.

Well, one parent who believes that vaccines did play a role in her son's autism is actress Jenny McCarthy. She appeared on "Larry King Live" last night to talk about her five-year-old son, Evan. McCarthy says that she doesn't think vaccines caused it directly, but she thinks that they can trigger it, combined with other environmental factors. She also talked about just how hard it is to raise a child with autism.


JENNY MCCARTHY: Almost 30 percent of children with autism suffer from seizures. So on top of, you know, autism, we have seizures. And it is debilitating. I mean it still brings me to my knees, thinking about what Evan had to go through with the seizures. And one of the seizures he went into cardiac arrest in front of me. His heart stopped.

What gets these kids recovered from autism is biomedical intervention. And it's, you know, as simple as starting with a diet. Hello! I know that sounds crazy and so simple, yet so true. I talk about it in the book. Evan started on a gluten free, tasze (ph) free diet, which is pretty close to a wheat free and dairy free. And in two weeks, he doubled his language and his eye contact came back on.


CHETRY: Well, McCarthy has said that Evan has improved a lot and that he can now talk and behave like a typical boy. She also has a book out now about her experiences dealing with her son with autism.

Well, it looks like a Harvard student will get extra time to take her medical board so that she can pump breast milk for her baby. You remember this case. We first brought it to you here on AMERICAN MORNING. Well, a Massachusetts appeals court yesterday overturned a decision that rejected Sophie Currier request. She was asking for an extra 60 minutes on top of the 45 minute breaks allowed during the nine-hour exam. Currier said she'd risk medical complications if she wasn't able to pump her breast milk every two or three hours. So she took the National Board of Medical Examiners to court after they denied her request.

ROBERTS: Twenty-two minutes now after the hour. Why would Bill Clinton ask that a New York City restaurant take down a picture of his daughter, Chelsea? We'll tell you, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back.

Well, have you ever been in a restaurant and you know the walls of the restaurant are covered with photos of the owner smiling with a celebrity.

ROBERTS: I have yet to see a photo of you in a restaurant, though.

CHETRY: I have a couple -- I have some lists of places you can go. Subways, Sub Shop, two streets down. Huge picture. ROBERTS: Well, one Manhattan restaurant was asked to take down its picture of a certain celebrity, Chelsea Clinton. Jeanne Moos tells us why.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Does it make the corned beef at the Carnegie Deli taste better to know that Jack Nicholson ate there? And Halle Berry signed her photo, "your corned beef is second to none." Restaurant owners say you betcha. Celebrity photos help business, but do they have any business posting them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the young Clinton lady.

MOOS: That would be Chelsea Clinton, who ate here at this Greenwich Italian restaurant about five years ago and posed with the owner.

Do you think it's a good picture or a bad picture?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looks very handsome.

MOOS: He is Nino Salama (ph).

I mean it wasn't like you took a kitchen knife and said, take this picture.

NINO SALAMA: No, no, no. I would never do that. No.

MOOS: She wanted to take it. She posed.

SALAMA: Right.

MOOS: Just like we're going to pose now?

SALAMA: Right. Exactly. Just like this.

MOOS: But I'm not the problem. Chelsea's photo had been on display for almost five years when Nino got a letter apparently from legal counsel for Bill Clinton.

"Therefore we ask that you immediately remove that picture." You're not going to . . .

SALAMA: No, I'm not immediately. I'm not planning immediately.

MOOS: Maybe eventually.

SALAMA: Eventually, yes, maybe.

MOOS: Only if forced. Nino says Bill Clinton is his favorite president and he's asking him to please let him keep Chelsea's photo on display. The letter threatening legal action implies that the restaurant is using Chelsea as a sort of endorsement. If so, Nino has plenty of other endorsements.

So here we have Rudy. And this is young picture because Rudy still has hair. There's Derek Jeter and Billy Crystal.

Who's your favorite picture?

SALAMA: Regis Philbin.

MOOS: Now, Nino is no dummy when it comes to publicity. He came up with a $1,000 pizza at another of his Manhattan restaurants.

SALAMA: (INAUDIBLE) with all different kinds of caviares.

MOOS: And he's milking the Chelsea flap for all it's worth. Bill Clinton's office, on the other hand, didn't return our calls. As for the man on the street vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd keep it up. Keep it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Leave it up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not Ahmadinejad. It's some owner of an Italian restaurant.

MOOS: Nino asked if he took down Chelsea's photo, could other celebs ask for similar treatment? In New York, even lowly shoe repair shops flaunt their famous customers. Billy Crystal's on display both at this shoe shop and Nino's restaurant. Woody Allen is featured at the Carnegie Deli and the shoe repair. For now, Chelsea remains in the front window next to Tony Soprano. Apparently Chelsea's face . . .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (singing): When I saw your face.

MOOS: Is something the Clintons can't face sharing.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ROBERTS: There you go. It looks like he's going to leave it up for awhile at least.

CHETRY: We'll see what happens.

ROBERTS: We'll see how tough they get with him.

Here's a story coming up, by the way, in our next half hour that you just can't miss. How far would you go for love?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you betcha, yes (ph).


CHETRY: Well, he said how do you measure it, because that's a husband and wife. They were on a hiking trip when they got stranded. She hurt herself. You won't believe the lengths he went through to make sure help got to his beloved. We're going to tell you more about it when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Look at that. The fog is in on Central Park.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Central Park soup this morning.

ROBERTS: 84 percent humidity, it's only 70 degrees out. It's kind of like soup out there this morning. 83, partly cloudy today. It won't be a bad day but certainly not like the 27th of September in New York City. More like the 27th of August.

Welcome back to "AMERICAN MORNING." Thanks for joining us. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us.

We begin with the increasingly violent crackdown on protesters in Myanmar this morning. Ten protesters reportedly shot by soldiers according to witnesses. Police arresting hundreds of monks.

Dan Rivers visited Myanmar during the week-long crisis and joins us live in Bangkok with more implications on the latest developments.

Good morning, Dan.

DAN RIVERS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. It's a very grim picture indeed that's emerging from Myanmar today. More shootings. I've just got off the phone with one very scared young woman who witnessed one person being shot in the crowd. She said there was firing going on as talking to her a few minutes ago.

We're being told from various websites that the police seem to be indiscriminately firing into the crowd, that the monasteries have been raided with hundreds of monks being taken away into custody. There are pictures of blood on the floor of these monasteries, and tear gas in the streets. So a very grim scene.

Authorities seem to be cracking down very severely on any form of dissent. These protests now in their ninth day in Yangon.

CHETRY: Dan Rivers reporting from Bangkok, been there following the situation in Myanmar. We'll keep an eye on it throughout the day. Thanks, Dan.

ROBERTS: There are fears a terrorist with a keyboard anywhere in the world could cripple this nation's power grid and bring our economy to its knees. The Department of Homeland Security released this video. Take a look here. An experimental cyber attack that caused a generator to burn itself out. Sources familiar with the experiment tell CNN the same scenario could be used against huge generators that produce the company's electric power using only a computer and it could be done from anywhere in the world if the person had the right expertise.

A new recall to tell you about this morning following the death of a 10-month-old baby. 425,000 play pens called Sesame Beginnings are being recalled because of a strap that hangs down from the changing area into the area where the child is. The playpens, you guessed it, in China.

If you think you've got one of the play pens, visit our web page at

We want to know what you think about all of this. Who do you think is at fault for these and other products having to be recalled? Is it China or is it the United States? Go to and cast your vote. We'll have the results for you later on this morning.

Republicans have former President Bill Clinton seeing red. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper yesterday, the former president railed against their response to the controversial ad that referred to Iraq commander General David Petraeus as David Betray Us.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, come on, these Republicans are all upset about Petraeus -- this is one newspaper ad. These are the people that ran a television ad in Georgia with Max Cleland, who lost half his body in Vietnam, in the same ad with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. That's what the Republicans did. And the person that rode to the Senate on that ad was there voting to condemn the Democrats over the Petraeus ad.


ROBERTS: Clinton said the Republican reaction is a classic bait and switch tactic designed to divert attention away from Iraq.

Aviation official also meet with President Bush today to discuss solutions to the problems causing so long many flight delays. Yesterday angry congressmen blasted the same aviation officials for not cutting flights into busy airports.

Coming up from Washington we sat on the runway for an hour waiting for traffic to clear.

CHETRY: That's the worst part. At least if you could sit in the airport, but when you're stuck on a plane no, where to go.

ROBERTS: Full disclosure, told us going into it.

CHETRY: I told to you take the train.

Barry Bonds played his last home game as a San Francisco Giant. He didn't homer about in his last game but the controversial slugger ending his 15-year run with the Giants, playing before a sellout crowd, roaring tribute. There was a banner saying "Thank you Barry. A Giant forever." No sign of the controversy last night. The Giants announced they will not resign Bonds after this season. Here it is, true love. In Washington, one man hiking 40 miles in extreme conditions in record time to make sure that his wife was saved. Roxanne Tensure (ph) fell and tore ligaments on her knee. They were on Glacier Peak in Snohomish County, Washington. Her husband, Max, continued on to try to get help, the trail littered with downed trees and other obstacles. Max was exhausted, but not deterred.


MAX TENSURE (ph), SAVED WIFE: The real problem was it was hard to walk by that time. There were lots of big blisters in a couple areas on my feet and they were pretty much done in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 40 miles an foot in rough terrain, took about a day and a half to get there.


CHETRY: Wow. The couple back home and relaxing and planning to hike again as soon as she feels up to it. Incredible. 40 miles in a day and a half in rough terrain.

ROBERTS: That's definitely devotion but, of course, what was he going to do, stop and go fishing for a little while?

CHETRY: Of course not, but it doesn't always have that happy of an ending when people separate.

ROBERTS: That's true. We've seen some cases where it doesn't come out like that.

CHETRY: Blame it on the phone company, topping your "Quick Hits" now. The FAA says AT&T is responsible for that nightmare communication outage in Memphis that ended up grounding flights around the country. A broken AT&T phone prevented controllers from talking to pilots and other airports.

There's new insight into the high-rise fire that killed two New York City firemen near Ground Zero last month. Today's "New York Times" is reporting that demolition workers cut a crucial section of pipe at the Deutsche Bank Building after the bosses mistook it for an old sprinkler system. That broken pipe made it difficult to get water up to the 14th floor. That's where that fire broke out.

A mother fights with a medical establishment over her right to breast feed during an exam. The appeals court ruled and they had a very different take than the medical board. We'll explain what happened coming up on "AMERICAN MORNING."


ROBERTS: 40 minutes after the hour. A new drink for people who feel a lot of stress. A dairy company in Japan is selling adult milk to help stressed out adults. It costs roughly $43 for a quart. Would you think the cost alone would just add to your stress? So why is the milk so good for stress relief? It's taken from cows once a week at the break of dawn, as they discharge a lot of a stress-relieving hormone called melatonin during the night.

Rob Marciano checking into our extreme weather across the country today. He can use a little bit of stress relief. How about a $43 quart of milk for you?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just spending that money on a quart of milk will bring me enough stress to last a week.

ROBERTS: Exactly.

MARCIANO: Hey, John.


Here's Tropical Storm Karen, almost a hurricane, very close but not quite. The forecast takes it to the west-northwest likely curving it out to sea. It may become a hurricane but at this point it will run into hostile conditions. That's good stuff. At it stands this hour there are no tropical systems threatening the United States. Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: Rob, thanks.

We have an update on a story we first brought you on "AMERICAN MORNING" of a Harvard medical student who was fighting with the medical licensing board. She wanted extra time to express her breast milk during the exam, and the exam board told her that she could pump during the regular breaks. They allow a total of 45 minutes during the nine-hour test.

She felt she needed more time. She took them to court and won the appeal yesterday.

"AMERICAN MORNING" legal contributor Sunny Hostin is here with a legal report.

Thanks for being with us.

Sophie was arguing that she need more time to continue to express her breast milk. She needs to do it three to times. We have her explaining to us why this was so important so let's listen.


SOPHIE CURRIER, BREASTFEEDING MEDICAL STUDENT: A woman who is expressing milk needs a break -- to take a very short break. Now everybody gets 45 minutes of break and they can do whatever they want during that break. All we're asking is for 20 more minutes to deal with this physiological need, which other board exams and bar exams, which are also very important for screening physicians, allow women to do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: The medical licensing board did respond to us when we initially brought the story. They felt very strongly that exceptions could not be made. Does this set precedent now?

SUNNY HOSTIN, "AMERICAN MORNING" LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: It absolutely does. Most people get 45 minutes and what this mom said is I need more time. The judge agreed with her in a lengthy ruling. I haven't read the ruling but I read the back ground. He said in order to put the petitioner on equal footing as the male and non-lactating female examinees, she has to get extra time. That is going to change a lot of boards, I think we'll see that more in the bar exam, lawyers like myself that took that exam. It definitely is precedent.

CHETRY: The interesting thing they did make exceptions and felt strongly this was not a disability, this was a temporary condition, meaning wait until you're not breast feeding to take it. But she also was given an extra entire day for something different, she suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as, I believe, she said dyslexia. I'm not totally sure on that. So she did get a whole other day for that and they felt strongly this was not a disability. Where do you draw the line legally speaking?

HOSTIN: It's interesting. The Americans with Disabilities Act does require people to get accommodations, reasonable accommodations, and because what she was afflicted with, that qualified as a disability. It has to be a recognized disability and I think we would all agree that breast feeding isn't necessarily a disability.

However you have to take into consideration that different people have different requirements, and that is what this judge found. Lactating women are different than non-lactating women. She did get an extra day because of her disability but he's saying she gets the extra 15 minutes.

CHETRY: This is interesting. Quickly, get to Larry Craig. Yesterday, his lawyer talking about putting in the motion to try to withdraw this guilty plea resulting from the bathroom sting at the Minneapolis airport. Under Minnesota law they have to prove what's called manifest injustice when it comes to withdrawing a guilty. How difficult is that to prove?

HOSTIN: It's very difficult. It's a very high standard. What's interesting about this case is you do not see pleas withdrawn routinely. One commentator says he hasn't seen this in 50 years, especially in a misdemeanor case.

Manifest injustice is extremely justify to prove and you talk he didn't voluntary enter into this plea. He's an educated man, this is a Senator. And I don't think that the facts support the legal analysis that you see in the motion.

CHETRY: Sunny Hostin, thanks for being with us.

HOSTIN: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Should there be a kid friendly section on an airplane? Hear why some parents say they think it's necessary and what congressman is doing about it, ahead on "AMERICAN MORNING."


CHETRY: Welcome back to "AMERICAN MORNING." Prosecutors are seeking to retry music producer Phil Spector. A judge declared a mistrial after a jury failed to reach a verdict after 12 days of deliberating. Spector charged with second-degree murder in the killing of actress Lana Clarkson in his home back in 2003. A hearing on a new trial is set for next week.

Some jail time for the Chicago father convicted of allowing teens to drink at a house party. The drinking later blamed for a car crash. The father got 14 days in jail, and he and his wife hit with community service, probation and fines.

ROBERTS: Should there be kid-safe sections on planes to shield young children from the in-flight movie?

Our Alina Cho is on the story this morning.

It sounds bizarre but some strange way it makes sense as well.

ALINA CHO, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A lot of parents think so. If you think about it, John, everyone goes to the movie theater knows films are rated PG, R, even NC-17. And there are strict rules who is allowed inside. Take to the skies, and those rules don't seem to apply.


CHO (voice-over): You wouldn't take your kids to see an R-rated film like "Shooter," but get on a plane and there it is.

TOM FINE, PARENT: I was very annoyed and frustrated this movie was being shown where my son and lots of other kids could see it. And you know, we had no control to be able to do anything about it.

CHO: Tom Fine, his wife and 6-year-old son, Zachary, were on a flight from Denver to Boston.

When he looked up, he couldn't believe his eyes, and for the duration of the movie, he shielded Zachary's eyes. Something a growing number of parents say they're tired of doing.

JESSE KALISHER, KIDSAFEFILMS.ORG: We don't take our kids to films that are rated PG-13 for violence but suddenly you're on an airplane and the choice is no longer ours.

CHO: Now Congress is taking action. A bill introduced just this week would require airlines to provide child-safe viewing areas, where children under 13 can sit and not be exposed to violent or adult- themed films.

Research shows kids who watch violence tend to be more violent.

The Air Transport Association, which represents the airlines, had no comment.

In-flight movies are censored. Sex, nudity, profanity and plane crashes are edited out. Violence in many cases stays in. But if the bill passes Congress, it could mean one last hassle for parents flying with young kids.

FINE: If I had a section where I could sit and know I didn't have to worry about this, I'd be happy.


CHO: In fact, as one man put it, you don't have to play "Leave it to Beaver" but you don't have to have Evo Longoria seducing the high school kid on the ding room table.

Remember, on planes now, they don't just show movies now. They show TV shows, too.

Parents told us they are sick and tired of having to shield their kids from violent movies. Is not just an inconvenience t is bad for the kids and the research shows it.

ROBERTS: Wasn't he the gardener, not the high school kid? There's been a lot of research that says violence can increase their tendency toward violence. How much could this contribute to that? You're only on a flight for three hours.

CHO: There's 30-year research kids who watch violence tend to see violence as a way of ending conflicts.

Doctors say kids as old as 9 years old cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality. What they see on the screen they think is real. Imagine being a child, watching violent images on the movie screen and now planes are movie theaters in the sky and you can imagine a lot of parents talk about how, for weeks afterwards their kids are having nightmares and not sleeping well so this is a problem, parents are really concerned about it.

ROBERTS: Certainly, one members of Congress are taking up as well.

Alino, thanks for that.

Is it possible to create a kid-friendly section of an aircraft? There could be logistical problems depending on how many children are on the flight, how much space you have, how big the plane is. We'll talk with the man behind the idea, a North Carolina Congressman Heath Schuler. That's coming up in our next half hour.


CHETRY: Also still ahead, an agreement between General Motors and United Auto Workers feel there are new questions about GM's future and also the future of the auto industry. We'll talk about it with Ali Velshi in a couple of minutes. Also, check out this video. Pigs weren't flying but they were definitely going hog wild in Connecticut. Pigs on the loose, making a real pigsty out of some lawns. We'll tell you how it all ended, coming up.


ROBERTS: Pigs on the loose in Connecticut. Somehow 18 pigs escaped from their pen in Waterford, Connecticut, and the renegades scattered for miles. Police and public works crews tried to corral the swine who turned some neighbor's lawns, you guessed it, a pigsty.

CHETRY: There's a bird feeder and then like 15 pigs.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS ANALYST: Why did you say somehow the pigs got out? Apparently someone opened the gate. Who let the pigs out?

CHETRY: They're so cute at that stage, and then they start look diagnose shall it.

ROBERTS: Oh, gosh.

CHETRY: Never mind, I take that back.

VELSHI: You guys get paid the big bucks to segue to me.

CHETRY: That's utterly ridiculous. Sorry.

Hi, Ali.

VELSHI: Good morning. I've got something almost as exciting. I hate introducing acronyms to people who don't know them, but there's nothing more boring. People have been asking about this one. It's called a VEBA. This is the story of this GM-United Workers deal and shifting the health care for the retires over to the union workers.

This is how it works. VEBA is a voluntary employee's benefit association. GM gets to get out of having to continue to pay health care for its 340,000 retirees. The VEBA, Retirement Health Care Trust, a big fund, pays the health care costs. The company contributes, the union contributes, the fund is managed professionally, and it's supposed to grow faster than it completes.

CHETRY: Is it a 401-K?

VELSHI: Yeah, it's a big fund. It's not one person's 401-K. There are versions of this. That's the point, this is growing in popularity, either the union or the individuals are taking control of their retirement health care spending.

Remember, 401-K is a good example. It's like the switch from pensions to 401-K's your company handled it now you handle it. That's sort of like what this is, the ability for either the union or you to handle your retirement health care costs. It is used in a lot of public service unions, things like teachers unions and things like that in the private sector. It's being used at Goodyear and Caterpillar, although it hasn't worked out all that well at Caterpillar. They funded it in 1998 and it was broke by 2005. That's what's got a lot of workers at GM worried.

Keep an eye on the VEBA concept. Your employer might want to pass that on to you.

CHETRY: Interesting.

VELSHI: It's nothing unlike the pigs, let me tell you.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks very much.


ROBERTS: New developments in the breaking news we've been following. Reports out of Myanmar this morning that police are firing automatic weapons into a crowd of protesters in the capitol city. The next hour of "AMERICAN MORNING" starts right now.

CHETRY: Cyber terror, new video shows how terrorists could take out the power grid.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's equivalent to 40 to 50 large hurricanes striking all at once.


CHETRY: Left behind.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Two other guys with them, they might still be in the car, you might want to check.


CHETRY: 911 calls shedding new light on a tragic accident and how police may have dropped the ball. We're live with the father who had to find his own son's body.

Plus, made in China. Now it's dangerous and potentially deadly playpen. A brand new recall, on this "AMERICAN MORNING."

Welcome. Glad you're with us. We have a lot going on this Thursday,