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AMERICAN MORNING

IOC Pressing Chinese Leaders on Human Rights; American Airlines Canceling 900 More Flights Today; President Bush Will Make Major Announcement on Iraq War

Aired April 10, 2008 - 08:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And the news comes as the International Olympic Committee is pressing Chinese leaders on human rights. And the Olympic torch is headed to Buenos Aires after barely their visit to San Francisco yesterday. City officials ordering last- minute changes, shortening that torch relay route to avoid the demonstrations that were taking place. Thousands of people who lined up to see the torch actually never got a chance to.
And we also have some breaking news here in the U.S. about tornado watches in effect right now for several counties after severe storms shattered windows, flipped over trucks overnight in many places, including this video out of San Angelo, Texas.

Nearby, Breckenridge as well hit hard, 125 miles west of Dallas, where they talk about massive flooding.

Also in Oklahoma as well, massive flooding and reports of tornadoes in the western part of the state. One woman was killed when she veered off the road in heavy rain.

Rob Marciano also saying 12 states in all affected by this line of severe weather. He's tracking all of it for us and he's going to join us in a couple minutes.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking right now, American Airlines is canceling 900 more flights today as it tries to get its planes inspected and fixed. That means thousands more stranded passengers in addition to those who are on the 1500 flights canceled over the past two days. American says it still has 121 MD-80s to inspect. But the number of flights is so much greater because those planes fly multiple legs.

President Bush will make a major announcement this morning about the Iraq war. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told us a few minutes that the president will talk about what he has decided to do regarding troop levels and also deployment.

CNN's Elaine Quijano is live at the White House. She's got a preview of the speech.

What do we expect to hear at 11:30 this morning, Elaine?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, in a tacit acknowledgement of the incredible pressures on the U.S. military, President Bush will discuss his decision to cut down on the combat tours of duty from 15 to 12 months.

In addition, the President will also sign off on the recommendation of his top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, for a 45-day period of assessment, a pause essentially, in troop drawdown come July. Now, what that means is that some 140,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq indefinitely.

Now this morning, the President is having breakfast with General Petraeus as well as the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq, Ambassador Ryan Crocker. This, of course, on the heels of their congressional testimony this week.

Now, interesting to note, John, unlike last September when Petraeus and Crocker testified on the Hill as well, the White House decided against a prime time address to the nation. Instead, the President will be speaking in the middle of the day as you noted. His address expected to last 12 to 15 minutes.

John?

ROBERTS: And from there he goes off to the ranch in Texas, correct?

QUIJANO: He goes off to the ranch in Texas. But of course, a lot of interest in this because many people are asking what the success definition is. You recall that last September, the President used that phrase "return on success," that as, in fact, troops there made gains, that more troops would be able to return home.

The central question that we heard emerging from the hearings is -- what is the definition -- according to the administration -- what is the end game, as you ask. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino says it's been a very difficult question for them to answer.

ROBERTS: Yes, a lot of people have a lot of different notions what does should be. Elaine Quijano from the north lawn of the White House this morning.

Elaine, thanks.

And don't forget CNN will bring you the President's speech live at 11:30 Eastern. You can also see it live on cnn.com/live.

Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. Well, Alina Cho joins us now with other stories new this morning.

Hi, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, guys, good morning again. And good morning everybody.

And historic election today could bring dramatic changes to Nepal. Voters lined up before dawn to elect a new parliament hoping to pave the way for ending the 250-year-old monarchy and to create a new constitution. For the first time, communist rebels are taking part in the vote. The decade-long Maoist insurgency has cost more than 10,000 lives and stunted economic development.

We're getting new details this morning about that raid at the polygamist compound in Texas. According to court documents, a member of the group says there was a bed inside the temple where men had sex with their young brides right after their wedding.

The 16-year-old girl, whose calls led to those police raids, has now been identified as Sarah. Sarah says she was raped and beaten by her 50-year-old husband. And officials say they have now completed their search of the 1700-acre ranch.

Well, you could soon get a text message on your phone warning you of an emergency. The Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, has approved a new emergency cell phone alert system. This is cool. It could be used in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disasters or even Amber alert. T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and AT&T all say they're on board with this and the FCC is giving them 10 months to comply. Subscribers would be allowed to opt out if they don't want those additional messages.

And finally this morning, check out who will be running in the London marathon this weekend. You won't believe it. Look.

That's right. You're looking at them. Six Maasai warriors, as they are called. They're from northern Tanzania. They're in London right now to run the race. They're going to do it just like that. They're going to wear their traditional dress.

They're raising money to build a clean water well in their village. Obviously, wanting a clean water supply there for the villagers. And they're going to be running, as I mentioned, in their traditional dress. They're carrying spears and shields and their running shoes, by the way, also from Africa -- sandals, get this guys, made from old car tires. So, they're not in it to win it.

(CROSSTALK)

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A very popular souvenir. I mean, when you go to east Africa to buy these shoes that are made from the bottom of tires. And the spears thing should get them a few...

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Yes, a dude with tires on his feet with a spear behind him. Get out of the way.

CHETRY: I've got to tell you, though, 26.2 miles in sneakers is challenging enough, try doing it in sandals.

CHO: That's right.

ROBERTS: Yes. But those -- I mean, nobody can run like a Maasai warrior. I mean, I'm serious. Oh, yes. VELSHI: But you know, the technology in -- you wouldn't think it's anything special, but there are shoes that are made for people who have problems walking.

ROBERTS: Yes, they're called the Maasai shoes. They've got the bevel on the bottom.

(CROSSTALK)

CHETRY: That is supposed to help your posture.

VELSHI: I've heard people who have had surgery, a hip surgery, things like that, they do that. But you know what?

ROBERTS: You might want to walk a little more based on the price of oil.

VELSHI: It's the barrel there. $112 a barrel makes tires made into running shoes sound like a good idea because it's making your gas prices a little bit higher. We're going to take a quick break. When I come back on AMERICAN MORNING, I'll tell you about the effect of the highest price you've ever seen on a barrel of oil. AMERICAN MORNING is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Ali Velshi. And I've got the barrel behind me which means the price of oil is up. $112.21 is what it hit yesterday. And that is the highest price that a barrel of oil has ever hit. It came down a little bit to settle at about $110.87, which is also a record. It's in between that right now. But that, of course, is going to work its way into the price of gasoline.

At last check, the gas is about $3.34 a gallon for self-serve unleaded. That's a national average. But obviously in some places, parts of the country, you're paying far closer to the $4.

And if you're involved in the world of diesel, you're paying a lot more than that. UPS, United Parcel Service, a company that says that it moves 5 percent of the goods that move around the United States on a daily basis, is saying that these prices and the economy generally are hurting its earnings.

First of all, people are shipping less and secondly, these fuel costs are taking a piece of the action. You'll notice that vehicle that we're showing you there is a hybrid electric vehicle. UPS, like many companies which run fleets, have been for a few years now trying to do things to reduce their fuel costs.

Obviously, it's good for the economy and it's good for the environment. But that's part of the trouble that these people are facing. If they've got to run trucks around the country, and by some estimates, 80 percent of everything we get in this country, hits or touches a truck at some point. This becomes a major, major problem for fleets, for farmers, who use diesel on equipment on the farms. That works its way into the price of foods. So, we've been talking about the increased prices of wheat, rice, soybeans, corn, all of that kind of stuff. There's another component to this, everything that's farmed needs farm equipment and farm equipment all takes diesel, which is going up with the price of gas.

CHETRY: So, I'm wondering, we also talk about retail sales on the Internet. How much longer we're going to be seeing free shipping.

VELSHI: Well, you can actually -- let's put it this way. Let's say you're going to buy something, and you have a choice of going to store to buy it or having it shipped to you. It's actually more fuel- efficient to have it shipped to you. So, the cost in the end is cheaper when UPS ground does it than when you drive your car to the mall.

So fundamentally, if you're going to drive to the mall less as people are doing because of the price of gas, as I mentioned the other day, I think that you are going to see more shipping and lower charges on shipping for the course of the next year so that retailers can get your business.

Could you ask me that though, because I said this the other day to you on TV. The National Retail Federation is off its tree about the fact that I said that. They completely disagree with me. They say you are going to pay more for shipping the rest of the year and don't listen to what that funny, bald guy on TV says.

CHETRY: That's right.

ROBERTS: That's the first time somebody disagrees (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: That's not the first time that someone has disagreed with me (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: But you start to wear it like a badge of honor. Don't you? Thanks, Ali.

Keep it right here to learn more about issue no. 1, the economy. Join Ali, Gerri Willis, and the CNN money team for "ISSUE #1," noon Eastern, right here on CNN. And online at cnnmoney.com.

CHETRY: And we are tracking extreme weather this morning as well. Tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma, a line of severe weather on the move. Rob Marciano tracking it all for us. We see the pictures.

You say it's not just those two states, but a dozen states in total that are all being affected by this severe weather.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and as the day goes long, Kiran, it's going to be a lot more than 12 states. It's a big storm. It's expanding. It's gathering strength as it comes out of the Rockies. And we have a number of tornado watches that are posted and blizzard warnings up. Stick around. The weather is coming up after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

CHETRY: Well, what you're watching could end up in a museum some day. In fact, the Newseum. A lot of excitement over this one. It's a new museum that's been dedicated to the news business called the Newseum. And we're going to be taking you there, coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 19 minutes after the hour. It is one of the most expensive museums ever built. A whopping $450 million to construct it. But take a look, it's a beauty. The Newseum in Washington, D.C. chronicles the history of news through 250,000 square fit of exhibit space, seven levels of gallery, studios, theaters.

Executive director of the Newseum, Joe Urschel, joins me now from the 9/11 gallery at the museum.

Joe, good to see you. For people who might not know what the Newseum is, can you explain?

JOE URSCHEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEWSEUM: Sure. Well, as you said, it's a very big place. We've got 14 different galleries, 15 theaters, two broadcasting studios, and one 4-D time travel adventure, which is kind of special. But we're really a very interactive place. There's really no museum like this anywhere in the world.

ROBERTS: I want to talk to you about the interactivity of it in just a second. But news is often called the first draft of history. And the Newseum is right there in an area where there are a lot of other museums that deal with history.

So what -- is the Newseum's place down there on Pennsylvania Avenue near all those Smithsonian Museums?

URSCHEL: Yes, indeed, we're right here on Pennsylvania Avenue. We're about equidistant from the Capitol and the White House. But as you said, news is the first rough draft of history. And we're little like the first rough draft of history Newseum.

You know, when you come to the Newseum, our exhibits continually change and they're always up to the minute. So, really there are no two visits to the Newseum that are exactly alike.

ROBERTS: As we said, you're in the 9/11 gallery there, commemorating coverage of the terrible tragedy of September the 11th, can you tell us a little bit about the gallery? URSCHEL: Sure. This is probably our most powerful and emotional gallery. It's got a terrific film showing in it that looks at the coverage of 9/11 as it was going on and for about the next 48 hours. And in the center of the gallery are the remains of what was once the top 30 feet of the 360-foot broadcast tower that stood atop the World Trade Center.

ROBERTS: Yes, I mean very, very powerful images that you have there. As we said, there were 14 major galleries. You've also got a major display on the Berlin Wall? It's the largest -- I was looking at your Web site this morning, in the little tour that you give. It's the largest section of the Berlin Wall that survived?

URSCHEL: It's the largest section of the Berlin Wall anywhere outside of Berlin. And we have one of the guard towers that stood near Checkpoint Charlie. There are maybe two or three of these left in the world. And of course, this gallery tells the story of how the Berlin Wall was able to imprison the people in East Berlin and prevent them from leaving, but it couldn't prevent news and information from coming over.

ROBERTS: You've also got the famous door from the Watergate Hotel. You've got a news helicopter in there, lots of artifacts from reporters. And now you ask me for a rain suit that I wore during hurricane Katrina. But tell us just quickly a little more about this interactive aspect of the Newseum.

URSCHEL: The Newseum is really an experience that when you come here, you're going to be able to do things. You are going to be able to have some fun. For instance, we have computer games in our interactive newsroom that let people kind of simulate the process of reporting a story or going out to get a dramatic river rescue photograph or you can even do something like we're doing right here.

We can stand you in front of one of our television cameras, load a prompter with a script, put a background in, we can put you anywhere you want to be around Washington. And then, we'll record you. When you go home, you can download it and send it around to your friends.

ROBERTS: Sounds like an awful lot of fun. I hope to see you tomorrow night at the gala opening ceremonies as well. Joe Urschel from the Newseum, thanks for being with us this morning. Good luck to you.

URSCHEL: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: Kiran?

CHETRY: Should be exciting.

ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely.

CHETRY: Well, if you're planning a summer vacation, you better leave now before it gets more expensive or before your airline folds. Talking about a thousand more cancellations from American Airlines. And hundreds of thousands of people stranded at the airport. And now we're talking about the price of gas going up again. Well, an expert has some tips to get where you're going with some sanity left and with a little bit of money in your pocket, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: More than a thousand flights cancelled. 100,000 passengers stuck. A lot of them sleeping in airports like in Dallas Fort Worth. There you see the cots are out. Never a good sign if you're trying to travel. Trying to grab another flight.

An American Airlines is warning this morning that this could only be the beginning. More cancellations expected today and over the weekend, as it's capping three days of thousands of cancellations. And after another round of FAA-ordered inspections, comes just in time for the summer.

Valarie D'Elia is a travel reporter for Time Warner's New York One and she joins us from Los Angeles this morning.

You know, it's never a good sign, as we said, to see people stuck on cots at these airports. And to hear the airlines say, look, this could go on until June. What should people do?

VALARIE D'ELIA, NY1 TRAVEL REPORTER: Well, Kiran, there is so much anxiety right now and people are really disappointed with these American Airline cancellations. And it's a classic case of what's known as Rule 240. This is what is in the control of the airlines.

So, that airline needs to make good to passengers. So, you should be getting accommodations, meal vouchers, even ask for travel vouchers for future travel. Because, you know, airlines are not held in high regard right now by passengers.

So, you really have to negotiate for what you deserve in a case like this. And I'm not feeling very good about things. I'm headed to the airport right after this interview here at L.A.X.

CHETRY: Well, I don't blame you. You got to feel for the airlines, too and the employees. Because I'm sure nobody wants this headache to go on as long as it has. We've been talking about it for two weeks as thousands of flights are cancelled two weeks ago as well.

Is there anything they can do to speed up these mandatory inspections? I mean, use some emergency measure, something, so that it can get done a little faster?

D'ELIA: Well, I think they really have to focus on what the problem is and make sure that the safety is up to the standard for passengers. So, I'm not sure that speeding it up is really what we want to do.

I want to fly safely. So, I want to make sure that the flights go out and that we don't have to worry about that. You just have to know what you deserve as a passenger in a situation like this. But this comes at a time when we're being hit with really -- we're being hit with higher fares and more baggage fees and other fees like that and fewer services.

So, all in all, it's really not a great time to be travelling, especially as we are approaching the summer travel season.

CHETRY: That's right. And are you seeing new trends? I mean, are people finally sort of putting this into action and saying, I just have to change the way I travel?

D'ELIA: Well, of course, because the higher fuel costs and also the higher euro overseas, when the summer comes, passengers are saying, well, geez, if I want to go to Europe, where do I go? Well, you know where you go? You go to Eastern Europe. You go to Central Europe. You go to places that don't have the euro in place yet, where we have a better exchange rate.

And that includes places like Bulgaria. And that includes places like Poland and also Slovakia. And many are looking to stay closer to home and try to find places that perhaps evoke Europe and America. I was just in an area outside of Park City, Utah. That was very much like a Swiss alpine village. And of course, we're just spending the dollar there. So, you have to be very, very creative about the places that you go this summer.

CHETRY: All right. So, are you talking about Disney World, perhaps?

D'ELIA: Well, Epcot Center, that's for sure. You know, people think that they can go around the world by just spending a few days at Epcot Center.

CHETRY: There you go. Well, as you said, people trying to get creative. Boy, but it's been a rough one so far. Hopefully, things will ease up before we get into the heart of summer the season. Valarie D'Elia, New York 1 travel reporter, thanks.

D'ELIA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: We talked to somebody when I was in Las Vegas, who was staying at the Paris Hotel there and said, hey, I don't need to go to the real thing, I'm here.

CHETRY: Exactly. (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTS: And then they said, plus this one doesn't smell.

CHETRY: Well, you had to go there. Well, the "Quick Vote" question of the morning is -- what do you do when you're delayed at the airport? You know, you've got to do something to pass the time.

24 percent of you say you try to scramble to rebook, check the flight status, worry about all that stuff. 24 percent of you say, you know what, we just hit the bar. 35 percent, read a book. 7 percent, try do some work. And 11 percent, try to catch some zees -- anything to pass the time and make it go easier.

And cast your vote for us, cnn.com/am. And we're going to read your e-mails as well about the creative ways that you pass the time when you really can't do anything except wait for your flight to take off. CNN.com/am.

ROBERTS: Yes. I wanted to tell them that the only thing Paris smells like is fresh baguettes and some good cheese.

Major storms overnight in the Plains, Texas and Oklahoma hit with a tornado, hail and flooding. The National Weather Service confirms at least one twister ripped through the far southeastern part of Oklahoma At least 14 tornado warnings were issued through last night. More severe weather is expected today. Kim Jackson of our affiliate KTUL joins us now Hannah, Oklahoma.

Kim, what is the situation on the ground where you are there?

KIM JACKSON, REPORTER, KTUL: Well, this small town, Hannah, only has about three streets. But this street was hit pretty hard. Go ahead and take a look behind me. You can see this was a mobile home. And the residents who live here believe it was a tornado that ripped through along with hail the size of a quarter. And so it is hard to tell exactly what is what. But that was where someone lived.

Now, the Hannah School is over here in the corner. And someone told me the roof of the gymnasium was actually torn off there. And so school should be starting pretty soon if at all they are having school, in fact. Residents are coming back already this morning to start cleaning up. But there is some damage here that cannot be repaired. Take a look with me, you see that tree over there it was completely uprooted and split from the ground. So, there's a lot of cleanup here to be done. And as the morning goes on, we expect more residents to come back, clean up, and grabbing things and keeping whatever they can. Now, back to you.

ROBERTS: All right. Kim Jackson from KTUL for us this morning. Kim, thanks very much.

And Ali Velshi is watching what is going on with the economy. Ali, what's up?

ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Just got the monthly jobless claims numbers in actually, John. A little bit of good news. The jobless claims, it's the number of people filing for unemployment claims for the first time is actually down by much more than expected. We were expecting it to be down by about 17,000, it is down by 53,000 which means 53,000 fewer people have filed for new unemployment claims. That is actually a little bit of good news, not really affecting futures at the moment because I think we are waiting to see what some of the details are. But initially we always look at the jobless claims because they are going to come at a different time than the unemployment number.

And as we discussed this morning and many times with the fear of recession we are very, very conscious of what's going on in the world of jobless claims, of unemployment claims. At the moment, the news is a little bit better than expected. I'm following some other number as well. As soon as we get more on that I'll come back to you with it, John.

ROBERTS: All right. Looking forward to that. As long as what Robert Reich was telling you yesterday doesn't come true.

VELSHI: Right. The fact that he says there's a 20 percent chance of going into a depression, not a recession.

ROBERTS: I don't like hearing that talk. Ali, thanks very much. Kiran.

CHETRY: Of course, keep it right here to learn more about "Issue #1, the economy." Ali, Gerri Willis and the CNN money team will be broadcasting "Issue #1," noon Eastern, right here on CNN. And of course, on-line anytime at cnnmoney.com.

Well what can you do to save your home from foreclosure? What if you are not quite in foreclosure but fearful that it may happen to you? Our personal finance editor Gerri Willis is going to be along with some important advice. She has some numbers, some places you can go for help. Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, help may be on the way for homeowners in mortgage trouble. Well, Congress as well as the President are looking at new aid programs. So, a lot of people are wondering what they should do right now if they're worried about their bills? CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis has some advice. Her book "Home Rich" increasing the value of the biggest investment in your life. She has a lot of good ideas in there, and she's going to share some more. You and I were talking about how, it's not just people in foreclosure, maybe people aren't behind but they can see it coming and they say what do I do?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, that's a really scary position to be in. Look, I can't tell you how important it is to be proactive here and to call your lender ahead of time. Even if you haven't missed that first payment. Write your own letter of hardship say here's why I'm getting behind, here's why I'm afraid I will not be able to pay my mortgage. Maybe you've lost your job, provide proof. Then, ask for a loan modification.

Now, this what it will do. It will buy you a little time. Get you a break on payments, maybe get a repayment plan. At the end of the day. this is not a complete solution, but it might give you just a little breathing room if say, you've lost your job. Now, for a lot of people who are in this situation, calling your lender and having a rational conversation with them is not something they are up to. You need someone to help you. If you call these counselors at these phone lines, Hope Now, HUD, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling 866-557-2227. These folks talk to these lenders, these servicers all the time. They know the issues that are hot buttons for the lenders. And they can help you get what you need. But you've got to take the first step. You've got to make the phone call.

CHETRY: Now, is there a specific based on what your exact situation or need is that you should call one of those over the other? Like what's with the Hope Now for?

WILLIS; You know, I love the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, because those folks they want to counsel you through the process. All of these people, they are really taking folks from the same pool of people, I say, all these counselors have been counseling for a long time. They have a lot of training. They know what the lenders want. So, if you pick up that phone, you call one of those lines, just see who you can get on the phone first to help you. I think that is really the way to go.

CHETRY: And then, if you find yourself in a situation, and the only solution is I got to try to sell. I got to get rid of this house because I can't afford it anymore, what are some tips for that?

WILLIS: Let me give you rule of thumb here. Because I've talked to so many people. I have been all over the country in their kitchens, in their living rooms. I see people all the time who have loans that are 50 percent of their income, their monthly mortgage payment is 50 percent of their income. If you are in that situation, you are not getting out of it even with a loan modification. You've got to sell that home. And remember, if you walk away from your home and it sold at auction, you know, you're still on the hook. You have to satisfy that debt. You know, this is not a complete solution. You are better off doing a short sale, you're better off doing a deed in lieu of foreclosure when where this is jingle mail when you give the lender the keys. But you have to get your lender to agree with it. So, the bottom line here is at the end of the day you've got to interact with your lender or servicer to get some kind of solution that's going to work for you.

CHETRY: And you said it best, you have to be proactive, don't wait until you get that foreclosure notice.

WILLIS: That's right.

CHETRY: Gerri Willis, thanks so much.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

CHETRY: Good to see you. And you can see Gerri again. She'll be on "Issue #1" with Ali as well as the rest of the CNN Money team at noon Eastern. Thanks, Gerri.

ROBERTS: 22 minutes before the top of the hour, you've got a fire wall in your spyware software but hackers are getting smarter and finding new ways to get to your computer and your information. What you need to look out for now coming up.

And wild weather in Dallas, new video this morning of hail and heavy rain could more be on the way? Rob Marciano joins us just as soon as we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Breaking news to tell you about this morning on the weather front. New video coming in showing more severe weather overnight. Take a look at this. Hail in Dallas, tornadoes tearing through other parts of Texas, homes obliterated there and also in neighboring Oklahoma. Rob Marciano is watching it all for us from Atlanta this morning. Rob, where is that storm system now?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Well, take a look at this map, John. We are looking at a huge swathe of real estate that's going to be affected just on the severe side of this. And then we've got back side also that has a lot of cold air. The center of it is just now coming out of the Colorado Rockies, just now about to enter the plains. There you see some white, a blowing snow advisory and winter storm watch posted for a good chunk of the Colorado Rockies, that extends into the plains.

And then the warm side obviously tapping into the Gulf of Mexico where we get a lot of twist in the atmosphere, not only with that humidity. So we have thunderstorm watches or tornado watch boxes that are in effect for the next couple of hours. The line of thunderstorm that produced all that damage across Texas, west of Dallas, is now moving east towards Tyler, Long View eventually into Louisiana. And we still have this hail signature indicated on the Doppler radar scope.

So even though there's no tornadoes touching down at the moment, certainly a lot of heavy weather rolling through many parts of the southern plains. Ft. Smith towards Little Rock, this line of heavy thunderstorms rolling through this way. And then we have thunderstorms that are producing some flooding, flash flood warnings in effect for a good chunk of southern Missouri, and that does not what is happening along the Mississippi. Even before this event, John and Kiran, we are waiting for the Mississippi to crest from places like Vicksburg all the way down into New Orleans. That is not expected to do with that until the beginning of next week. So, lots of going on right now. Back to you.

ROBERTS: Abound this morning, Rob. Thanks very much.

MARCIANO: You got it.

CHETRY: Cyber crooks apparently learning new ways to infect your computers or even steal your personal information.

ROBERTS: Our Veronica de la Cruz joins us now with the latest news from the web this morning. Good morning to you.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to both of you. You know, it used to be don't click on the linked from that e-mail that you don't know the person is, do you remember that. They're getting smarter and smarter. Cyber thieves are what we're talking about smarter, and planting links on web browsers, search engines, social networking sites. This is all according to a new report by Internet security company, Semantic which found that these are targeting these sites because they are trusted.

It gives them access to a larger group of web users. For example, we all use google. Well, you might think that you're searching for Web sites. It get legitimate but once you click it, it takes you to another, containing KnoWare. Also Mozilla, another popular browser that is being targeted and has often been considered a safe alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Semantics report that a number of vulnerability on Mozilla have more than doubled from 2006 to 2007. Now, all users of networking sites users, Facebook maybe. Listen up here because more and more cyber crooks already hacking accounts from these sites. They are accessing log in information, sending e-mails containing bad link to your entire network and those e-mails look like they're coming from you. They are also launching fake widgets.

Now, we contacted all of these companies and we have yet to received it looked like they're there is an access we all use google. You might think that you are search forge a Web site, but once you click, it takes you to another containing malware. Mozilla is being targeted. The company says that the number of vulnerabilities on this Web site have doubled from 2006 to 2007. Use social network users, accounts are being hijacked, sending e-mails containing bad things to your entire network. If the e-mails look like they are coming from you, they are launching fake widgets. In all Symantec detected 700,000 threats last year that's compared to a little more than a 100,000 back in 2006. So, those numbers have more than quadrupled.

CHETRY: Anything else you can do to be a smart consumer or user to protect yourself?

DE LA CRUZ: At least, first and foremost you want to report any suspicious activities so all these Web sites can take care of the problem. Also, we were just talking about thieves launching these widgets on Facebook. They were launching this widgets that were like banner ads asking do you want to find out who your secret Facebook crush is, once you click, you download a virus.

CHETRY: You believe it is part of Facebook?

DE LA CRUZ: You believe it's legitimate and it's not.

CHETRY: Got you.

ROBERTS: Is there any way to trace the origin so you'll know before you click on it that it didn't actually come from Facebook because I know some of these Web sites, and they were doing them with bank Web sites, look really legitimate? Even the URL and the address looks legitimate.

DE LA CRUZ: It looks like it's built right into the page. So, you have to be careful. You know, you just have to be really, really careful. Don't click if you don't have to.

ROBERTS: All right. Good advice, Veronica, thanks.

CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away now. Brianna Keilar at the CNN Center in Atlanta with a look at what's ahead. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN, ANCHOR: Hi there, John. Well, it is a stormy Thursday in the NEWSROOM. Tornadoes could swarm across the heartland today. Texas already hit by a possible twister. We will be keeping an eye on storm alerts all day. And this developing story, China claims it's cracked a big terror plot targeting the Beijing Olympics this August.

Also, new crash test ratings for the family sedan. You can find out how your car held up during crunch time.

And of course another massive day of cancellations at American Airlines. We're going to keep you posted in the NEWSROOM. John.

ROBERTS: We'll see you soon. Brianna, thanks very much.

We are reaching into Dr. Sanjay Gupta's mailbag. Sanjay is going to answer your questions. That's straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: just in, gasoline prices hit an all-time record. Ali Velshi joins us now with more. How high are they now?

VELSHI: Well, no surprise that it's up $3.35, 3.357 is the new target. I tend to round these things up. It's $3.36. That's up more than a cent by the way since the last record that was set yesterday. Obviously, with the oil prices that we showed you earlier this morning hitting $112.21 yesterday morning, settling down a little lower than that but even now we are still trading in the $111 range. Most experts are saying at that price of oil, you're going to see gasoline prices go up before Memorial Day. Someone said $3.50 as a national average, some said $3.75 and at the extreme level we've heard $4. There are many people in many states paying $4 now, or few states paying $4 a gallon for self-serve unleaded.

Diesel prices are well ahead of that. One of the other numbers we got this morning, John, was the U.S. trade deficit. It was expected to shrink. The difference between how much the United States imports versus how much it exports. Obviously, we have much bigger imports than exports. The number actually increased. Why? Well, two things have happened. One is we actually imported less oil than we have in the past because as you like to point out, as the price of gasoline gets higher, we are using less of it but we imported more cars made from other countries into the United States. That offset the oil we weren't using. We've seen increase in our trade deficit.

And finally we are getting numbers in from America's retailers. They are same store sales for March, that is, the sales of stores that been opened more than 12 months so that they can compare them. March sales versus last March, the numbers are very disappointing. American's retailers are saying consumers have actually been scaling back on their purchases. Again, none of this a surprise given what we know but another record for the price of gasoline. John.

ROBERTS: More evidence this morning, Ali, that perhaps we are indeed slipping into a recession. Ali, thanks very much.

All week you sent us your medical questions and every Thursday we give you advice. CHETRY: Right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers your questions when he opens up his mailbag. And we'll dive right in with our first question this morning. Sanjay, one of them comes out of Atlanta. Pat writes "I saw your report on Alzheimer's and depression. I am 40 years old and depressed... am I really four times more likely to get Alzheimer's disease?

GUPTA: Well, we got a lot of questions about this, a lot of people concerned, obviously. What the study basically showed was in the past it was believed that people who developed Alzheimer's disease may also develop depression subsequently. What this study shows is people who had depression, well actually, it could be a warning sign for Alzheimer's. You are 2.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's if you had a major depressive episode. And if you had that episode before age 60, it was four times.

Now, one thing I think that's important to point out is that it doesn't mean in any way that you are not preordained to have Alzheimer's if you have had depression. The numbers are still low, about 5 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 74 do develop Alzheimer's. So, the numbers are going to go up if you have had a major depressive episode. But it doesn't mean you are going to develop it for sure.

ROBERTS: Our next question this morning, Sanjay, comes from Cynthia in Illinois.

She asks "I am suffering from sciatica. What causes I and do you have any tips on how to curb the pain?"

GUPTA: You know, Cynthia, I just read a study recently that showed that sciatica was actually the number one reason people actually went to the emergency room last year. So, it is a very common thing as you point out, John. What it typically is the sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs from your back and it goes down your leg. People typically have back pain and they'll have leg pain. It could be caused by some sort of pinching of the nerve. There are several different options. The good news is that most times it gets better on its own. Don't completely stop activity. You may want to take rest for a day. Just stop the activities that may have brought on the pain in the first place. If that is not working sometimes doctors will inject steroids, a potent anti-inflammatory around the area where it hurts. And in the worst case scenario you may need surgery to actually remove that disc that is pushing on the nerve root.

CHETRY: And it's quite painful for many people. I know there's a lot of prescriptions out there for people trying to seek relief as well, Sanjay. Well our last question is for a lot of parents. And it comes to us from North Carolina, "how can you determine if your child is ADHD, meaning attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or just out- of-control behaviorally?"

GUPTA: Now, this could be a really difficult thing. You know, because they are both sort of clinical diagnoses. You know, you're looking for certain behaviors. A couple of things that sort of sprung to mind as we did a lot of research on this, is that is the behavior continuous or is it more reactionary? A continuous behavior may be more suggestive of ADHD. Also, it has to come on before the age of 7 years old. And the period of time that the behavior actually exists has to be at least six months in a row. So, there's a couple of things to keep in mine. They also say as part of the criteria that it interferes with the child's way of life, in at least two areas, at the home, in the classroom. If it's doing that, then it may be ADHD and time to talk to somebody about it.

CHETRY: All right. Sanjay, sounds good. Thanks so much for answering the questions. And for everybody that has a medical question, go ahead and e-mail us at cnn.com/am. And Sanjay looks forward to reading your questions.

ROBERTS: Every Thursday, right here on AM. Sanjay, thanks. It's now coming up to eight minutes at the top of the hour.

Just in to us this morning, a decision by the International Olympic Committee, you remembered that last year, Marion Jones admitted to using performance enhancing drugs and was stripped of all her medals. Her teammates in the relays that she participated in, the 1600-meter relay in which they won the gold, and the 400-meter relay in which they won the bronze, have all refused to give up their medals saying we shouldn't have to pay for what she did wrong. Well, the IOC this morning said all of you, the rest of the other six teammates of her gone. This is the team that won the gold in the 1600-meter relay, bronze in the 400, stripped of all of their medals. The IOC has not yet made any kind of decision on how to reallocate those medals. We'll keep following that story for you this morning.

CHETRY: All right. We're going to take a quick break with much more of AMERICAN MORNING when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Breaking news to tell you about. Violence in Nepal. Today was a historic day, they are holding elections that could really change the face of this Himalayan nation after more than a decade of a very violent insurgency. We're getting word now from the Associated Press that an independent candidate was shot and killed outside of a polling station in the southern part of the country. This man identified as Sambhu Prassad Singh had no ties to any specific political party. Witness says he was actually talking to people outside of a polling station in a village when unidentified attackers shot him in the face.

Again, this entire election process has been marred by violence, scattered shooting, reports of intimidation. It would have been the first time that the communist rebels would have been able to take part in an actual government as they seek to overthrow 200 plus years of the monarchy in that nation. So, a shooting that took place outside of a polling station, and officials in Nepal saying that an independent candidate was shot and killed. We will continue to follow that because all throughout the day today they are going to be having the polls open and trying to get some semblance of an organized situation there for these historic elections. ROBERTS: That's a real shame.

Another big story we've been telling you about this morning, more cancellations of American Airlines flights. As many as 100,000 people could be affected again today because they are canceling 900 flights. So, a final check of this morning's "Quick Vote" question.

We were asking what do you do when you're delayed at the airport? 23 percent of you say you scramble to re-book, 22 percent hit the bar and try to forget about it,37 percent read a book, 7 percent try to get some work done and 11 percent of you simply nod off and try to wait for a resolution. We've also been asking for your e-mails this morning.

Rick from Los Angeles wrote in to tell us "I am sitting in Detroit right now for a three-hour lay over, traveling from Los Angeles to Cincinnati. I came in at 5 am and leaving hopefully at 8, I wish I could sleep but the only other option at this time is to get some work done before all the interruptions and phone calls start.

CHETRY: That's right. Try to make the best use of the time that seems wasted.

Ron from Greensboro, North Carolina writes "Here's my gripe: When I call ahead from home, I get a recording that tells me my flight is on time or is not canceled. It happens to you every week, right? But when I actually get to the airport, I find the flight delayed or canceled. Why bother to go ahead when the airlines will not give you accurate answers to your questions?

ROBERTS: It happened to me last week. 25 minute after 9:00 I called Delta to say is the 10:30 shuttle from La Guardia on time, oh, yes, it's on time. I got there, cancelled.

CHETRY: See that. Told you. You got to start taking the train or bike.

ROBERTS: I take it home. I take it back.

CHETRY: Well, you know, grandma is always willing to forgive even after their grandson made a slight slipup on the campaign trail.

ROBERTS: Well, now, for the first time we have spotted Barack Obama's grandmother in a campaign commercial. As we bring you what we call the most news in the morning, CNN's Jeanne Moos has got that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Finally, we meet her, if only for four seconds.

MADELYN DUNHAM, OBAMA'S GRANDMA: Well, I think it's given him a lot of depth and a broadness of views.

MOOS: Who do you think that might be? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain's mother.

MOOS: Try Barack Obama's grandmother. The one that he made famous in the speech about Reverend Wright and race.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother.

MOOS: The one Obama said on more than one occasional uttered racial stereotypes.

OBAMA: That made me cringe.

MOOS: The one her grandson described with the those three little words --

OBAMA: But she is a typical white person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think it would be nice if he showed greater respect for white people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He probably shouldn't have said that but I understand totally what will he means.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the first one who put it bluntly like that. And actually he just nailed the whole thing.

MOOS: But we don't want to revisit all of that. We were just thrilled to actually glimpse Obama's grandma in one of his latest commercials featuring some of the women in his life. A glimpse so quick that one person posted -- did I actually see Barack's white grandma or am I recalling a subliminal image?

And after critics had accused Obama of throwing grandma under the bus for focusing on her to talk about race, the commercial reignited the catch phrase -- "good to see she came out from under the bus to help out her ungracious grandson. Now he can throw her back under there!" Signed GranniesAgainstObama. But, hey, not so fast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama grandmamas unite.

MOOS: There's an actual pro-Obama Web site where you can buy items like a grandmotherly cushion that says I'm an Obama grandmama. On the other hand, the grandma controversy spawned merchandise emblazing a typical white person or I'm a typical white person appalled by Obama's racism or typical white person for Obama. As for the controversy --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants the publicity, but she doesn't.

MOOS: She must not be too mad at him or she won't be in his commercial. Besides, Obama's 85-year-old the grandma isn't exactly typical. She was a vice president at a bank. She can probably handle the phrase that is been dogging her. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

ROBERTS: Well, that's going to do it for us. Thanks very much for joining us. We'll see you again tomorrow. CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Brianna Keilar starts right now.

TONY HARRIS, CNN, ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar. Heidi continues maternity leave.

HARRIS: And you will see events come in to the NEWSROOM live on this Thursday, April 10th.

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