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Delta/Northwest Merger; Record Fuel Prices Pumping up Inflation; Pope Coming to America

Aired April 15, 2008 - 09:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: As of today, and I guess the birth will probably sometime in the next few days hopefully.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'll send you pictures.

ROBERTS: We wish you all the best. We'll be missing you here.

CHETRY: I'll be keeping you honest on BlackBerry as I watch you guys.

ROBERTS: And bring the new one in.

CHETRY: I will, absolutely. And thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. Have a good week.

ROBERTS: Good luck with everything.

CHETRY: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Seriously. NEWSROOM is next with Tony Harris and Betty Nguyen.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, we'll be adding to the family soon, huh?

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: I know, yes. Keep us posted and best of luck.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: Yes, hello, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen in for Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on this April 15th. Tax day. Here's what's on the rundown.

NGUYEN: Oh yes. First up, Delta/Northwest merger. Is bigger really better? Well, we're going to look behind the deal. What's in it for you?

HARRIS: Record fuel prices pumping up inflation. New numbers to crunch when we talk "ISSUE #1."

NGUYEN: And the pope in the air right now coming to America. Our Vatican analyst calls in from Shepherd One, in the NEWSROOM. HARRIS: And unfolding this hour, a major airline merger. Delta and Northwest are set to announce the deal in greater detail about 90 minutes from now. Live coverage, of course. The new airline would be the nation's largest as far as traffic is concerned. Operating out of seven domestic hubs, the combined carrier would be headquartered in Atlanta, site of Delta's biggest hub. But the massive deal needs federal approval.

What would this mean for passengers and the industry?

Rusty Dornin is in Atlanta talking to travelers but let's get started with CNN senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi. He is in New York with the bigger picture.

Ali, good to see you. And I know the bigger picture has something to do with that barrel behind you there.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right. And I know it's confusing. I want to bring -- I want to say this is behind so much of why the airlines have to merge.


VELSHI: Oil hit $113.66. We have never seen 113. This is the biggest cost behind the airlines. I want to tell you about that. And that means a new record price for gasoline, $3.38 a gallon. And we just got inflation numbers. So there's all that backdrop behind the airlines.

Now you got these two airlines which will merge to create the world's biggest airline if that merger is successful. And that will be a big deal because it will go to 390 cities in 67 countries. It will be called Delta and it will be based in Atlanta. More than 800 airlines and more than 75,000 employees.

They say they're not going to close any of those hubs. You showed us that map, the seven existing hubs, Salt Lake City, Cincinnati, New York and Atlanta for Delta. Minneapolis, Detroit and Memphis for Northwest. They'll also have two international hubs, Amsterdam, which is a Northwest hub because it's got a partnership with KLM and Air France, and Tokyo, which is a Delta hub. They'll both -- they are both part of the SkyTeam Alliance so they'll both remain part of the SkyTeam Alliance. But it does need approval of shareholders, of the Department of Justice, and the Department of Transportation.

And by the way, Northwest pilots are not on board with this deal. The Delta pilots are. So it's not a done deal.


VELSHI: It's more likely than not to go through. And the bottom line is, it is not likely to result in lower prices. We have seen enough...

HARRIS: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. VELSHI: Yes.

HARRIS: That's what I want to know here.

VELSHI: We are taking some competition out of the process. And that -- first of all, this year has been remarkable. Since January to now, the average ticket price in the United States is up $100 just because of fuel prices. And we are on track to see possibly 40 increases this year in airline fares. So with or without this merger we're going to pay more to fly around.

HARRIS: Well, OK. So a lot of that was about crunching the synergies and making the routes, and the pilots and all of that work. And you're saying that immediately there may not be a -- so why do I care? I'm sitting at home, I'm watching this, and I'm wondering if it's not going to impact me and mean lower prices for a ticket, why do I care and should I care?

VELSHI: Yes, well, because these -- the last year has been about caring because you'd actually like to get on the flight and have it actually get there.

HARRIS: Hello.

VELSHI: And so in some ways there's the price aspect of this. First of all, this will take six to eight months to get done.


VELSHI: You won't see that merger. If you remember the U.S. Air America West merger, that was a disaster in terms of integration of the computer systems, so people had problems checking in. So you want to know -- I may pay more, is my flight going to get there, is my baggage handled properly?


VELSHI: Is it going to be seamless? And I think that's what Rusty, who's talking to passengers...

HARRIS: Beautiful.

VELSHI: ...who's going to have some sense of this. How frustrating an exercise? Will this be better or worse for me in the end?

HARRIS: Look at the price of a barrel of...

VELSHI: Crazy. I'm not looking.

HARRIS: ...light sweet crude.

VELSHI: You could see and I can't see.

HARRIS: Ali, "Minding Your Business." Good to see you, Ali. Thanks, man. NGUYEN: We wish we couldn't see.


NGUYEN: But it's reality, folks. All right. So why should we care? And what are passengers saying this morning?

CNN's Rusty Dornin is at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta's home base.

What are you hearing, Rusty?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, let's talk about how the hometown cares. You can see the front page of the "Atlanta Journal Constitution," of course, this being the major hub, will remain the major hub, of course, for Delta Airlines. Now if you're a Delta flyer, like I am, of course, people -- the first thing they want to know about it, I think, is their frequent flyer miles and then the fares. Sometimes frequent flyer miles before the fares.

Now for the Northwest flyers they're the ones most concerned, of course, about their frequent flyer miles. We talked to a few passengers -- a little quiet over there at the Northwest desk this morning. But we talked to a few folks about what their biggest concern is in losing that Northwest label for their airline.

Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED PASSENGER: Credit card is Northwest and I get -- all my money goes on (INAUDIBLE) miles, so I don't how that's going to be effected either.

UNIDENTIFIED PASSENGER: I think it's great. I think with, you know, both airlines coming together and -- I think there won't be many changes when I read in here.

UNIDENTIFIED PASSENGER: I think there's going to be more connections. And I think as a Delta flyer, I don't think it's going to affect me that much.


DORNIN: Now the interesting thing has been people have been talking about reducing competition and that would make the fares -- go up. But it does turn out that Delta/Northwest have very few overlapping routes. So it doesn't mean that a lot of those routes may be canceled. The thing that's still going to drive fares up, and we have been talking about it, of course, for weeks, are oil prices. And many folks here that are standing in line waiting for their tickets recognize that. And they say they don't think the merger is really going to have all that much to do with it. It's going to be the price of oil.

One interesting thing, we did talk to one of the Northwest ticket counter agents. She didn't, of course, want to talk on camera, but she said it was a little bit of a sad day. She said nobody likes to lose their identity -- Betty?

NGUYEN: Well -- but also Northwest pilots, some of them are not so happy with this deal. They're worried about the economic issues. They're also worried about the seniority list. Talk to us about that.

DORNIN: They're afraid they're not going to get the same kind of deal that Delta is getting. And of course, the unions are going to be involved and if there's a lot of bargaining. Of course, even with federal officials, it's going to be going on for the next six, seven, eight months before this deal is finalized.

So of course, Northwest pilots are fighting right now wanting to make sure that their rights are recognized and they're going to get the kind of deal that the Delta pilots seem to be happy with.

NGUYEN: That's right. This is one huge deal on the table right now.


NGUYEN: Rusty Dornin, joining us live. thank you, Rusty.

HARRIS: All right. Time to talk about "ISSUE #1", your money. Inflation is up. Gas and oil prices, higher than they've ever been. Moments ago the government reported that inflation at the wholesale level jumped by 1.1 percent last month. That's almost triple what many analysts expected, Betty. It is the second biggest increase in more than three decades. As Ali Velshi touched on a few moments ago -- is my voice registering outrage here?

Oil prices hit a new all-time high trading above $113 a barrel this morning. And AAA says the average cost for a gallon of unleaded regular gas is $3.38. That is up more than a penny over yesterday.

NGUYEN: Just yesterday.

HARRIS: And more than 10 cents over last month. So here's the deal. Our money team has you covered, whether it is gas prices, jobs, debt, housing, your savings. Join us for a special report. It's called "ISSUE #1, THE ECONOMY" all this week, noon, Eastern, only on CNN.

NGUYEN: Also in the headlines this hour, leaving the children behind. Many of the women who belong to a polygamist sect in west Texas are back at the ranch this morning. But the 416 children are still in protective custody. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday. And it's about trying to decide their fate. Will they return to their polygamist parents or go into foster care or possibly be placed up for adoption?

CNN's Sean Calebs has been following this story from San Angelo, Texas where really, the feeling is very one of -- there's a lot of difficulty on many sides here. You, in fact, were invited for a rare look inside the polygamous compound. What are those inside telling you?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, let's take a look at that, because this has been a group that has been extremely secretive, extremely private. By all accounts, they tell their very young from almost birth avoid outsiders, not only distrust the government and outsiders but fear them. So why did they open up the gates last night and allow to us come in, talk with them, walk around the grounds? Well, think about the timing.

Just a few -- just a couple of days before that critically important hearing here in San Angelo, Texas. That hearing will go a long way to determining what happens to those kids. Will they remain wards of the state or is there the possibility of them being reunited with their families?

Much of that has to do with a phone call that allegedly came from a 16-year-old girl we know as Sara. She said that she had been physically abused by her husband, who was much older than she was. When we got into the compound -- FLDS wants to call it ranch -- last night we talked with a lot of people. And everybody said they don't believe that person exists. They believe the state made it up. They say it's simply a phantom.

But without question, the people -- the FLDS members are going to face some very serious questions when they go in to court on Thursday and many of them are very concerned that they won't speak to their children again for a long time. Perhaps many, many, many years.

Listen to what they have to say.


KATHLEEN, FLDS MEMBER: CPS has told us we now have this long court battle that could last up to a couple of years. And our children be spread out into homes that the state decides in. And we would only get to see our children by state permission. So now they have disrupted a whole community of mothers and children that only get to see each other by state permission.


CALLEBS: Now the 416 children are in the pavilion behind me here in San Angelo.

Betty, want to talk just a bit about going into that compound itself, going down a long dirt road, probably a mile or so. Inside, it was very well orchestrated by the FLDS. They had a pre-selected group of women that were going to talk with us. And basically this is a very self-sufficient community. They say they grow their own vegetables. They make their own dairy products. They even sew their own clothes right down to the jeans the men wear and the dresses the women wear.

They say that they're very self-sufficient, work very hard and they're very, very upset about the way the state has handled this, say that -- saying, Betty, that they were mistreated to a large degree when they are at another shelter here in San Angelo, at Fort Concho.

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Sean Callebs joining us live as we continue to follow developments out there. Thank you, Sean.

HARRIS: Pope Benedict XVI now en route to United States for his first U.S. visit as Pope. Benedict left Rome a few hours ago. He will receive a private greeting from President and Mrs. Bush when his plane Shepherd One lands at Andrews Air Force Base this afternoon. Included in the Pope's six-day itinerary masses at Nationals Park in Washington and Yankees Stadium in New York. Benedict will also address the United Nations general assembly.

One goal of the trip is to energize U.S. Catholics. A papal aide tells the Associated Press Benedict will also address sex abuse by priests.

Live from Shepherd One, CNN's senior Vatican analyst is on the Pope's plane as he flies to Washington. We will talk to him ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Meantime, follow Pope Benedict's six-day U.S. visit on CNN, at and tomorrow morning we will take you live to the White House for the Pope's historic visit there. See it here in the NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Well, let's get the latest on the weather outside, because that southern chill is sticking around.


NGUYEN: Jacqui Jeras has been watching it. I know you're feeling it today.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I am. Did you guys wear your gloves and your scarves...

NGUYEN: And a coat. Yes.

JERAS: ...and your hat and everything this morning?

HARRIS: Oh come on. I am not 12.

NGUYEN: And it's April 15th.

JERAS: What?

NGUYEN: Hey. You should cover that head of yours.

HARRIS: This is not bad -- well, I...

JERAS: You always have to dress for the weather no matter how old you are, Tony Harris.

HARRIS: OK, Jacqui.

JERAS: I'm buying you leather gloves for Christmas next year, Tony. HARRIS: All right.


NGUYEN: All right, Jacqui. We do appreciate it.

OK. So how to fix the economy. John McCain reveals his plan shortly. Live to Pennsylvania in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: And good morning again, everyone. Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

His mom said the boy could be adorable or a monster.


UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER: He has plans from the time he was six to kill me. He always wanted to kill me. He would shake with anger to the point he'd tell me and scream at me that he wanted to destroy me.


HARRIS: That boy grew up to turn his anger on high school classmates. Inside the plans for a killing, still ahead.


HARRIS: Stumping in Pennsylvania. John McCain this morning tackles "ISSUE #1, THE ECONOMY." He says America is in a recession.

Live now to Dan Lothian in Philadelphia with the Election Express.

Dan, good to see you. What are we expecting to hear from John McCain this morning in Pittsburgh?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, he's really going to lay out his economic plan for the first time. As you know, the Democrats have really been going after him for quite some time that he didn't have a real economic plan, that he didn't talk enough about helping American families who are dealing with foreclosures. Well, he hopes to fill in some of the holes in his economic plan that he'll be rolling out in Pittsburgh.

As part of that, he'll be rolling out a part of a plan that will help Americans deal with the high cost of fuel. He was looking for a break of 18.4 percent, sort of rolling back the federal gas tax of 18.4 percent on gas, 24.4 percent on diesel fuel. And again, this would be from Memorial Day through Labor Day, essentially wanting Congress to declare a summer gas tax holiday. This, again, to focus on the high cost of fuel that has been so difficult for many Americans.

Not only on gas, though, as part of his plan, he hopes to help Americans deal with the high rate of foreclosures. He is calling for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage that's backed by the federal government. And again, this would assist those families that are going through foreclosure proceedings. And then finally, he wants to double the amount of an exemption that tax payers receive for their dependents from $3,500 to $7,000.

Now on "AMERICAN MORNING" this morning, former Republican presidential nominee -- presidential contender, rather, Mitt Romney, was defending and talking about this plan that Senator McCain will be rolling out today, and saying it will be good for many Americans.


MITT ROMNEY, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a program that says, look, the people come first and the government comes after that. We're going to let the people keep more of their money, we're going to shrink the size of the growth of federal government, and by virtue of doing that help the American people at a very critical time.


HARRIS: And Dan, let me fire a quick question at you if I could here. Did you want to wrap that sound bite?

LOTHIAN: Yes, I lost my audio there.

HARRIS: No worries. No worries.

LOTHIAN: Yes, if you talk earlier -- you know, Senator McCain has talked about how -- yesterday, in fact, he talked about how he believes that we are in the middle of a recession. It's not the first time that he had said this. He first used the "R" word in March. But again, this -- as he rolls out this economic plan today, this is his attempt to really help what he believes are a lot of American families out there who are suffering. He believes this plan will help them -- Tony.

HARRIS: And Dan, I hesitate to ask this question, but what is the latest from the Clinton and Obama race? More target practice this morning?

LOTHIAN: It continues. You know, Senator Clinton rolled out a new TV ad and in that ad she has testimonials from people who were saying that they essentially were insulted by the remarks that Senator Obama made about small-town voters here in Pennsylvania, that they feel he is out of touch.

The Obama campaign fired back saying that this just shows that Senator Clinton will do or say anything to get elected. And what they painted was a Clinton campaign that is desperate -- Tony?

HARRIS: It has come to this.

All right. Dan Lothian for us this morning in Philadelphia. Dan, appreciate it. Thank you.

How to fix the economy. John McCain reveals his plan shortly. And you will see it live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Well, 60 people have been killed in bombings across Iraq today. Want to show you some pictures now just in the CNN from the deadliest attack. It happened in the Diyalah -- provincial capital of Baquba. A car bomb detonated outside a crowded restaurant killing 40 people and wounding 75 others. That blast was centered near a courthouse and other government offices.

A coalition spokesman says the attack doesn't reflect the overall security situation and that it's the first suicide attack inside Baquba in almost 90 days.

HARRIS: Absolutely unstoppable on the football field, but a mental disorder almost did him in.


HERSCHEL WALKER, FMR. AMERICAN FOOTBALL PLAYER: I've tried to hurt myself many times before. Yes, I've tried suicide.


HARRIS: Herschel Walker's shocking revelations. He talks to our Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


HARRIS: So don't run with scissors. We all know that. How about this one -- don't throw your butter knife.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see the handle of the butter knife sticking out. So that's when I freaked out.


HARRIS: Let's call it what it is, a stabbing headache.

NGUYEN: Oh, goodness. That is horrible.

HARRIS: Ahead in the NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: If I can recover from that one.

HARRIS: No, no.

NGUYEN: All right. All right. I'm going to try here.

Let's talk about this for a minute, shall we? Star athlete Herschel Walker, famous for his accomplishments in college and professional football but there's another side revealed in his new book "Breaking Free." He chronicles his struggle with a form of mental illness known as disassociative identity which used to be called multiple personality disorder. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, sat down with Herschel Walker recently and -- were you surprised to learn that he had this?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I was stunned when I heard about the book...


GUPTA: ...and multiple personalities, in part, because it's just so confusing.

NGUYEN: Right.

GUPTA: You know, multiple personalities, in part, because anyone -- any time someone comes out and talks about their mental illness, they are so stigmatized and so it's surprising. He's also this charming, likeable guy, Betty. I mean when you actually listen to what he's saying, it's pretty remarkable.

Take a listen.


WALKER: I tried to hurt myself many times before. You know, I've tried suicides. But you know, and I asked my doctor why would I do something like that? He said, "Herschel, you're so competitive. You have a drive. This," I don't know what you call it but it's like -- I would try anything. I would try almost anything.

GUPTA (on camera): Would you try to take pills...

WALKER: No, I played Russian roulette before.

GUPTA: You played Russian roulette?

WALKER: Yes. I played Russian roulette before myself and I mean more than once.


GUPTA: Pretty remarkable. I mean he was playing Russian roulette at the peak of his football career, as well, while he was still playing football. One of the characteristics, and this just something I learned is that there's no recollection as the person flips from one alter to the next. So he doesn't really remember a lot of these things. But he was told them afterwards. The people that are often closest to him are the ones that really see it, such as his wife Cindy who we met as well.


CINDY GROSSMAN, HERSCHEL WALKER'S FORMER WIFE: I remember being in bed. I didn't have my contacts on because I remember I couldn't see. And he got upset and you know those barber knives? He had it to my throat and kept saying he was going to kill me. I think he choked me because I think I passed out. When I came to, there was somebody else there. Cindy, Cindy, Cindy, wake up. It must have scared him. And he switched.


GUPTA: Switched. And that's how she describes it. That's his former wife, I should say. One thing I think I learned, as well, is that it's not so much multiple personalities as it's fragments of one personality. A better way to describe someone like Herschel is that they don't have a single cohesive personality. They have several different fragments. In his case, 12 different alters...

NGUYEN: Twelve?

GUPTA: ...that he says he flips back and forth.

NGUYEN: If you think of it maybe civil, you know, when hear that. But I wonder if he excelled at so many things because of that. I mean we saw him -- he was a Dallas Cowboy.

GUPTA: Right.

NGUYEN: He did so well on the field. Then he got into ballet there for a little while. Do you have any idea how you get this disorder? What causes it?

GUPTA: Well, in his case, and I think the doctors, the psychiatrist that we spoke to say, often it is reflective of some sort of abuse as a child. And it is often a childhood disorder that often diagnosed as an adult. What happens, Betty, it seems to, anyway, is that the child develops fragments of personalities in order to deal with might be terrible situations that they're dealing with at the time. He talked about the fact that he was obese, he stuttered, he was bullied a lot of the child. He thinks the fragments started to come out as a child.

But to your point, I think a good one, he has been able to use some of these alters to his advantage.

NGUYEN: Right.

GUPTA: He calls one of his alters the general, which shows up on the football field and was a competitive killer, as you know.

NGUYEN: Right.

GUPTA: So -- but most of the alters, as he pointed out to me, were pretty destructive leading to the end of his marriage and many other hardships in his life.

NGUYEN: So does he learn how to manage them?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, there's no -- you know, we try to figure out the treatment for this and it's difficult. First of all, just diagnosing it can be difficult. And a lot of it, and I'm not trying to sound trite here, is teaching these alters to sort of talk to one another.

NGUYEN: Really?

GUPTA: The idea is to try to get them to become cohesive so there's one personality again as opposed to all these fragments flipping back and forth with no recollection.

NGUYEN: My, it is fascinating, really.


NGUYEN: All right, Sanjay. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thanks, Betty.

NGUYEN: That is fascinating.

Well, for Dr. Sanjay Gupta's full report on Herschel Walker, you don't want to miss it, tune in to "ANDERSON COOPER 360." That's tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN, the most trusted name in news. Now back to the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Hello, everybody, on this Tuesday. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Welcome back, everyone.

There is the potential in this next story for all kinds of casualties. The information is just coming in to us here at CNN. A daylight on this story is Goma, The Congo.

HARRIS: The Congolese government is reporting that a DC-9 plane has crashed, here's the tough part, into a residential neighborhood in the eastern town of Goma. The plane apparently crashed while landing at an airport there. The governor of this particular province says the plane faltered after takeoff and plunged again into a populated neighborhood. A rescue team, as you can expect, is on its way to the crash site. The number of dead, injuries -- the number of casualties just not known yet.

We will continue to follow developments on this story and bring you the latest as we get new information here in the NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Well, from that story to this one, fuel is the biggest challenge facing airlines. Rising prices cited by the chairman of Northwest Airlines as a part of the reason for their mega merger deal with Delta. We're awaiting a news conference on that merger. It's scheduled to start in just about an hour from now. When it does we will bring you that live.

Well, the combination airline would retain the Delta name and would keep all seven domestic hubs controlled by the two carriers. It would be the nation's largest airline serving 390 destinations in 67 countries.

But this deal is far from complete. Federal approval is still needed and some lawmakers are already promising tough questions. It is believed the deal could trigger more airline mergers as companies scramble just to keep up.

HARRIS: You know, one of the things we're watching is the reaction to the news of this proposed merger on markets this morning. The bell sounding oh just about a minute or so ago.

Let's take a look at the big board because the early indicators are pretty good here, Betty. The Dow off to a fast start, up 76 points. Tell me we have the NASDAQ up 13 as well? OK.

As Betty just mentioned, the price of a barrel of oil up over $100, $112? Are we at 113 yet?

NGUYEN: I think we were.

HARRIS: In many ways driving this merger and at least the initial response is positive. We will be checking in on the markets throughout the morning with Susan Lisovicz right here at the NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, in the meantime, though, how about this? Happy tax deadline day for everyone.


NGUYEN: Right. Well, you know, last-minute tax filers set to jam the post offices. We have a live report in the NEWSROOM.

ANNOUNCER: "Opening Bell" brought to you by...


NGUYEN: Well, his mom said the boy could just be adorable or a real monster.


E. SONNEN: He's planned from the time he was six to kill me. He always wanted to kill me. He would shake with anger to the point he'd tell me and scream at me that he wanted to destroy me.


NGUYEN: That boy grew up to turn his anger on high school classmates. Plans for a killing, coming up in just four minutes from now. HARRIS: Betty, let's see if we've got a live picture here out of Pittsburgh where Senator John McCain will be speaking shortly. I believe this was originally scheduled from the 10:00 hour Eastern Time but it looks like we're getting some signs and indications that the senator may be making his remarks a little earlier than scheduled. He is going to be talking about "ISSUE #1," of course, the economy today. He says America is in a recession.

And in his speech in Pittsburgh in maybe just a couple of minutes he will talk about and call for suspending the 18 cent a gallon federal gas tax for the summer. He will also call for a change in Medicare and increasing premiums for wealthy seniors. That speech due any moment now.

We're at least getting indications of that. When it begin, we will bring it to you live right here in the NEWSROOM.

OK. You got until midnight, the clock is ticking. It is tax deadline day.

Live now to CNN's senior correspondent Allan Chernoff at the main post office in New York.

Allan, good morning, sir.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Tony, and welcome to what I call the steps of procrastination. Thousands of New Yorkers will walk up these steps today, filing their taxes on tax deadline day, and some will even arrive holding their W-2 pay stubs, and they'll pick up the 1040 forms and actually fill out the taxes in the post office. I don't recommend it. But, of course, many people have reasons for procrastination. They say oh I'm busy, I have better things to do. Delay the pain.

Let's find out some excuses. I've collected a few procrastinators here.

Sir, what's your name?


CHERNOFF: Jeffrey, what's your excuse? Have you filed yet?

CANTOR: Well, I have them right here.

CHERNOFF: Right here. OK.

CANTOR: Right there. I'm about to file. I don't have any excuse. I think it was the pain, actually, I think.

CHERNOFF: Delay the pain.

CANTOR: Delay the pain, yes. I couldn't look at where all my money went.

CHERNOFF: Not the accountant's fault? CANTOR: No. I can't blame...

CHERNOFF: Because I love that excuse.

CANTOR: I know. I used it once before. But this year, it's -- no, it's me.

CHERNOFF: Where do you think the money is going? Where is your tax money going to go?

CANTOR: Where is my tax money going to go? That's a...

CHERNOFF: Yes. Paying for what?

CANTOR: I don't know. It really depends on who wins the election, doesn't it?

CHERNOFF: All right. Well, let's find out from somebody else as well.

Sir, have you filed?

ROB CYRAN, LAST-MINUTE TAX FILER: Not yet. I'm filing an extension.

CHERNOFF: So you're not making the deadline.

CYRAN: No, not at all, unfortunately.

CHERNOFF: Now, and what is that reason?

CYRAN: No, no reason at all. It's totally my fault. But I did it last year, I'll do it this year, I'll probably do it next year as well.

CHERNOFF: And is that partly because of a little bit of a protest as to where the money is being spent?

CYRAN: No, not at all. No, I don't mind paying taxes. Actually, I think taxes are good for society. We need them.

CHERNOFF: Where do you think your money is going? What does it paying for?

CYRAN: Social Security, Medicare, parks, police, firemen, Iraq, unfortunately. Lots of things.

CHERNOFF: OK. Most of it well worth it, do you think?

CYRAN: Most of it. I don't like some of it, of course, I don't like Iraq, but that's where it goes.

CHERNOFF: OK. But of course, a lot of procrastinators today. I spoke to a psychologist. He said that some people actually have a bit of a fantasy that if they delay and delay, they think it may go away. And then all of a sudden April 15th always seems to arrive. Tony, the IRS says more than one out of four Americans files during the final two weeks before the tax deadline.

HARRIS: Oh my goodness. Betty, are you filed?

NGUYEN: I am done. I've written that check. It's in the mail.

HARRIS: Betty's done. Yes. And you're good, right, Allan? Giving people a hard time there. You're clearly done, right?

CHERNOFF: I did it last week. I did it last week.

HARRIS: Last week.

CHERNOFF: Worked on it for several weeks. You're looking at my accountant. But I got it done last week.

HARRIS: Allan Chernoff in New York for us, appreciate it, Allan, thanks.

NGUYEN: Well, we do have some breaking news to bring you right now. CNN has confirmed a plane crash in the Congo, Goma, to be exact. Here's what we know. A DC-9 plane crashed in a residential neighborhood in the eastern town of Goma. It crashed while trying to land at an airport in Goma. And as far as CNN knows, at this point, 78 people are confirmed dead. And we also understand that there are numerous injuries as well. We don't know if there will be any other deaths to report but of course, this is a fluid situation as we are still getting information in.

Again, a DC-9 plane has crashed in a residential neighborhood in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it crashed while attempting to land and at this point, we are told 78 people are dead.

We will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest.

HARRIS: All right. Let's go to check weather now. Jacqui Jeras is in the Severe Weather Center. And boy, there are areas of the country under a threat for fire and extreme winds as well.

Jacqui, good morning to you.


HARRIS: Yes, yes, I think so. Can't wait.

NGUYEN: Yes, exactly. Thank you, Jacqui.

HARRIS: Thanks, Jacqui.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, tomorrow a year since the Virginia Tech massacre. The worst school shooting in U.S. history. There were warning signs linked to the killer similar to the warning signs of another young man. And in his case, a mother's antenna went up and prevented a tragedy.

Here's CNN's special investigations unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau.


ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Elaine Sonnen's story about her son starts with home movies and a loving family album. Elaine and her husband adopted the boy Richard from this orphanage in Bulgaria. He was four and a half.

E. SONNEN: I love you, Mama.


E. SONNEN: And we just loved him. And he was just a big sparkle of life.

BOUDREAU: But they could never have guessed what would become of their new son when they took him back to tiny Green Creek, Idaho.

E. SONNEN: People thought he was just the greatest kid in the world. Very polite, well mannered, caring. At home he could be anywhere from just the really helpful great kid to a monster, a terrifying monster.

BOUDREAU (on camera): At first the boy was at best unpredictable, occasionally acting out. But soon his behavior went from aggressive to absolutely terrifying.

E. SONNEN: He's planned from the time he was six to kill me. He always wanted to kill me. He would shake with anger to the point he'd tell me and scream at me that he wanted to destroy me.

BOUDREAU (voice over): By eighth grade, doctors put Richard on anti-psychotic medication. He had been diagnosed as bipolar, obsessive compulsive and suffering other disorders.

E. SONNEN: I would find notes about him wanting to kill himself and writing in big letters, you know, starting small, going big, please, please, help me.

BOUDREAU: His behavior so disturbing his mother says she had a growing sense of doom.

It was 1999, and like parents every where, Richard's parents watched coverage of the Columbine School shooting in horror. But for them, it was different.

E. SONNEN: And we stopped and looked at each other and said this could be Richard. Some day this could be him.

BOUDREAU: But unlike the recent school shootings at both Northern Illinois University and a year ago at Virginia Tech, Elaine Sonnen saw the warning signs and she was determined to watch even more carefully to prevent a massacre. A few years later, Richard's junior year in high school, it turned out they were right.

E. SONNEN: The most awful thing that we could have ever thought of happening was happening.

BOUDREAU (on camera): Which was?

E. SONNEN: My son planning on a school shooting.


NGUYEN: So, how did Richard pick his potential victims? Well, they could be classmates that he actually liked.


R. SONNEN: She was another one of them that I wanted to kill.

BOUDREAU (on camera): She looks so nice.

R. SONNEN: I actually had a crush on her.


NGUYEN: A would-be school shooter's story continues after this.


NGUYEN: A mother's fears about the violence her son could unleash it caused her to act and possibly preventing a high school shooting spree. But what led a teenager to consider killing?

Here now the rest of the story with CNN's Abbie Boudreau.


BOUDREAU (voice over): Richard was tired of high school bullies, tired of being a target. To get even he studies the Columbine shootings. He actually came to worship Eric Harris and Derek Klebold.

R. SONNEN: They planned it out so perfectly and so (INAUDIBLE) that I just -- it's wow, you know. They are my gods.

DEREK KLEBOD, COLUMBINE SCHOOL SHOOTER: Do not mess with that freaking kid.


BOUDREAU: Like Harris and Klebold, he had specific victims in mind.

(On camera): What is this?

R. SONNEN: That is the hit list that I had.

BOUDREAU (voice over): On it names of eight students he wanted to kill.

(On camera): You hated these people enough that you put them on a hit list? R. SONNEN: Yes. All right. This is my sophomore year.

BOUDREAU (voice over): Over a high school yearbook we get a glimpse into the mind of a young man plotting mayhem.

R. SONNEN: She was another one of them that I wanted to kill.

BOUDREAU (on camera): She looks so nice.

R. SONNEN: I actually had a crush on her. She was also another one. Wasn't really the fact that I hated her, it's just more of the fact that she was always annoying. My plan was to set around bombs around the school. I had pinpoints of where I wanted to go, where I wanted to do it.

BOUDREAU (voice over): Elaine was suspicious. When she confronted her son, he revealed his plan. She forced him to write his list and she gave it to his mental health caseworker. Later Richard added teachers, his sister and his mother to the list. Elaine had her son committed. He spent 16 months in mental institutions before he was released.

Now a legal adult, Richard would be living on his own for the first time ever.

R. SONNEN: They gave me medication and a box and I had to make sure that I took it myself. They weren't there to help me with the medication.

BOUDREAU: Richard began college at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho. He was taking his meds and they seemed to be working. By all accounts he was a different person.

E. SONNEN: I knew he was on the road to being well.

BOUDREAU: But a year ago, one day before the anniversary of Columbine, and only three days after the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Elaine Sonnen got a call from the police.

E. SONNEN: We have reports that your son has made four different threats to do a school shooting at Lewis-Clark State College and (INAUDIBLE) in high school. My understanding was that he was going to come home, get some guns, go back, crawl up into the clock tower and basically be a sniper.

BOUDREAU: Richard Sonnen said that's not true. He says he was simply telling people about what he was going to do back in high school. He was walking on campus when police stopped him.

R. SONNEN: The cops slapped the door and said, "Get your hands up. Get your hands up."

BOUDREAU (on camera): Authorities took Sonnen's statements as a serious threat prompting them to shut down the campus and the local high school.

What do they think your plan was?

R. SONNEN: Apparently to do a shooting to do a shooting, to do a bombing and shooting of the college.

BOUDREAU (voice over): Police tell CNN they didn't have enough evidence to charge Richard with a crime.

To this day, Richard insists none of it is true. The college banned him for a year.

(On camera): Is there any chance that you did make those threats?


BOUDREAU (voice over): So did Richard plan his second school attack?

(On camera): You don't believe what he's saying?

E. SONNEN: I believe he made those threats. I still believe it. I believed it the morning after.

BOUDREAU: Richard?

R. SONNEN: OK. I don't know. I don't understand it, but...

BOUDREAU (voice over): He's now living in the state of Washington, still on medication, but no longer seeing a psychiatrist.

(On camera): Does this worry you?

E. SONNEN: Yes. He's not getting the help and the insights from a professional that could see the signs.

BOUDREAU (voice over): Richard insists his demons are behind him. And for that he thanks his mother.

R. SONNEN: And my mom is the greatest person in the world, and she helped me through a lot. And she's always going to be my mom.


NGUYEN: And Richard tells us he hoped a story could help teens who feel bullied and want revenge. He says his story shows violence is not the answer.

HARRIS: He is on his way. Find out how you can follow Pope Benedict's visit to America online. That is next in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Pope Benedict coming to America. He is on his way right now and should arrive at Andrews Air Force Base at about 4:00 this afternoon.

Veronica de la Cruz shows us how you can follow the Pope's visit online.

Veronica, great to see you. How easy or difficult is it if you choose to follow -- if you'd like to follow the Pope's trip online?

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, Tony. It's very, very simple. You know there are lots of great Web sites online. But of course, we're going to start with the best one out there, with our own. We're going to take you Really good article we're looking at. These details the president's meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. Also really cool interactive I wanted to show you, Tony. It gives you some good information on the Pope.

For example, you can clink on a link that says biography. It's going to tell you that the Pope's birth name is Joseph Ratzinger. Also clicking on interesting facts, you'll learn the Pope loves to read, the Pope speaks five languages. And then moving down the interactive, clicking on U.S. Catholics that's going to tell you more about the state of Catholicism in the U.S. today. There are 67 million Catholics in the U.S., Tony. That's 22 percent of the U.S. population.


DE LA CRUZ: So lots of great information online at right now.

HARRIS: And where to go if you want to -- just to get some more information on the actual visit itself?

DE LA CRUZ: Well, has a link to his itinerary.

HARRIS: Great.

DE LA CRUZ: But we also found this other great Web site, A really cool interactive itinerary. Check this out. If you scroll over the links with your mouse, you get his itinerary. You also get some cool pop-up images. So today we know that the Pope lands near Washington around 4:00 p.m. and tomorrow, his 81st birthday, the Pope meets with the president. So that's Also on the latest news on the Pope's visit as well.

HARRIS: Boy, that is terrific. All right. Anything else we should know as we get ready for the Pope's visit, Veronica?

DE LA CRUZ: Well, you know, we both know this is the first time that the Pope will visit the U.S. It's also, Tony, the first time in history that people have blogged about the Pope during a visit here.


DE LA CRUZ: So lots of blogs springing up online, including one by David Gibson. You can find this at Really, really interesting perspective. So you can follow that one online at So like I was just saying, Tony, there is a lot, a lot online right now. But you want to start at

HARRIS: That sounds like the thing to do. I know there's a lot of security for the Pope's visit, you know, here I go being a thorn in everyone's side. Who's paying for all the security, Veronica?

DE LA CRUZ: You know, the archdiocese of Washington, Tony, was estimating that just the Washington portion of his trip is going to cost about $1 million a day. So that's $3 million right there. Then he comes to New York for two days.


DE LA CRUZ: So most of that money has been coming from private donors, Tony. But to raise more money they've set up this fund. It's called Christ Our Hope. And you can log on to this Web site right now,, and that's where you can actually buy memorabilia. Right now they're selling hats, t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains. They're even selling a bumper sticker. So all of this memorabilia available online.

It's also going to be available at the masses that the Pope will be having. So there you go "I love Benedict XVI." I think you can buy that right now for $2.50.


DE LA CRUZ: Lots of Web sites out there.

HARRIS: Yes, but the best, of course,

DE LA CRUZ: You got that right.

HARRIS: Is that all right? Is that OK?

DE LA CRUZ: Wonderful.

HARRIS: Veronica, good to see you. Thanks.

DE LA CRUZ: Nice to see you.

NGUYEN: She'll pay you later.


NGUYEN: All right. Well, Delta and Northwest, what will the merger mean for you, the passenger? Is bigger better?

Stay with us.