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What About the Kids? Judge to Hear New Arguments; Mexican Relief: Truckers Drive for Cheap Gas; Ominous Exit Polls

Aired April 23, 2008 - 14:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Say adios to $4 a barrel -- a gallon diesel fuel, but only if you're going to fuel up in Mexico. This hour, struggling U.S. truckers driven to extremes to stay in business.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there's nothing like a 10-point victory to refuel a struggling campaign. Nice transition there. Hillary Clinton eyes the road ahead with new hope while Barack Obama tries to put Pennsylvania behind him.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live here at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: We begin with the children of that Texas polygamy ranch. We hear today that a judge has ordered DNA samples to be collected. And the next step, that's the question, deciding on caretakers for those 400-plus boys and girls. They take that up soon in a San Angelo courtroom.

CNN's Susan Roesgen is there.

Susan, what a task for officials there to have to deal with.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly has been, Don. And we now know that the 437 children have all given their DNA samples.

The state of Texas has collected samples from everybody who's been living in the San Angelo coliseum behind me for about two weeks now, ever since that raid. And the next step then is going to be to see whether more buses are going to come here today, taking more of the children away to group homes.

Yesterday, the first 100 children were taken on buses to 16 different group homes all around the state of Texas, from Abilene to Amarillo, to Austin, even to Houston, some 500 miles away. Now, these group homes are really just that, they're like boys and girls clubs, they're local churches, group homes, a situation that the state of Texas has said would be a more home-like setting for the children than just lined up on 437 cots in the coliseum behind me.

So the state of Texas says that it needed to move these children first off the ranch, and then get them out of here into these temporary group homes for their own protection, to protect them from the potential for future child abuse. But at the same time, the attorneys for the parents and a spokesman for the Yearning for Zion Ranch say this is simply a case of the state of Texas tearing children away from their parents.


ROB PARKER, FLDS ATTORNEY: The Child Protective Services Department of Texas is afraid of due process. They would lose in a fair fight in this case, and that is why you're seeing them move so quickly and that is why you're seeing them move unilaterally, because they do not want to have a fair fight with these parents on a level playing field.


ROESGEN: Now, this Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released this videotape. They have a pretty sophisticated Web site now called, in which they portray themselves as victims of the state of Texas.

They show weeping mothers and children, they show some of the S.W.A.T. team members and other sheriff's department members and Texas Rangers rounding the children and the mothers up back on April 3rd. They're using this because they do believe they're being persecuted here.

But once again, Don, the state of Texas believes that this is the right thing to do in any situation. The child abuse investigators say they found enough evidence of multiple child abuse situations, of what they called a pervasive pattern of child sexual abuse on that ranch, that they needed to get all of the children off, and that's what they've done -- Don.

LEMON: I have to ask you real quickly, has anyone talked about how the children are doing, being away from their parents, in any of the press conferences lately?

ROESGEN: No, we haven't really heard that, and, you know, we just don't know. You might have seen in some of the video some of the children waving on the buses as they went. We don't know whether they look at this in a big adventure in the outside world that they were never allowed to be a part of, or whether perhaps now they're missing their mothers and their fathers. You'd assume there'd be some of that.

We really don't know. For their privacy, for privacy rights, we've been kept far away from the children. And we just haven't been updated on how they're doing.

LEMON: Yes, it would be nice to know, because I think that's what most viewers are concerned about, the well-being of the children, Susan.

Thank you very much for your report. Susan Roesgen in San Angelo, Texas. KEILAR: He can't get any more stars, but he can be responsible for a bigger chunk of the world. Army General David Petraeus is the Pentagon's choice to head the U.S. Central Command, overseeing U.S. military involvement from Central Africa, to the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. But it takes more than a nomination.

The Senate now has to approve. The defense secretary says there's no better man for the job.


ROBERT GAGES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The kinds of conflicts that we're dealing with not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan, and some of the challenges that we face elsewhere in the region and the Central Command area, are very much characterized by asymmetric warfare. And I don't know anybody in the United States military better qualified to lead that effort.


KEILAR: A replacement for Petraeus in Iraq has already been identified. His number two, in fact, Army Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, and Gates says the move should take effect in the fall.

LEMON: A new record today for gas prices. AAA says the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded has topped $3.53. That's up two cents from just yesterday, which was a record as well. Just a year ago the national average was $2.85 a gallon, and we all thought that that was high then.

KEILAR: Well, it's enough to make a truck driver do a double- take. Diesel at $2 a gallon. You're not going to find that in the U.S. It is next door in Mexico, and it's too much for some truckers to resist.

Reporter Mike Watkiss of our affiliate KTVK has our story from Apache Junction, Arizona.


SHARON ROMANO, OWNER, ROMANO & SONS TRUCKING: I understand that the fuel crisis is affecting the average driver, but we also have to talk about the truck driver.

MIKE WATKISS, REPORTER, KTVK (voice-over): Valley resident Sharon Romano can talk with authority about the effects that high gas prices are having on truck drivers. Sharon and her husband Angelo are the owners of Romano & Sons Trucking Company of Apache Junction, 12 big trucks specializing in the hauling of asphalt and aggregate, a 10- year-old business now in jeopardy because of record-setting $4 a gallon diesel fuel.

ROMANO: Four dollars a gallon is just extremely too high. We can't afford it.

WATKISS: But not ones to take a challenge lying down, Sharon and her husband have tightened their own belts and asked their 15 employees to take a pay cut. They also built themselves a 500-gallon mobile fuel tank. And just this week, the Romanos began making runs down to the Mexican border, where just over the Mexican line service stations are selling diesel fuel for half the price, a mere 2 bucks a gallon.

ROMANO: Our drivers are being affected by it. I had to cut some rates just so I can maintain the fuel.

WATKISS (on camera): You willingly took a pay cut to help your employer stay in business.

DENNIS HANNA, TRUCKER: I'm a loyal employee, that's for sure. But things are really rough, though.

ROMANO: We have to go outside our country. We have to go to Mexico to get fuel. Just to survive.

WATKISS (voice-over): But even that might not be a solution for very long, because after getting one 500-gallon load across the border, a second trip yesterday caught the attention of U.S. border officials, who stopped the truck, saying that they could transport no more than 119 gallons at a time across the Mexican line.

ROMANO: We were denied yesterday, but we're going to go back down again. We're going to keep doing it until we are able to grab some fuel down there.

HANNA: I have a wife and kids.

WATKISS (on camera): So if you lose your job, what is that going to do?

HANNA: Oh, it would be devastating.

ROMANO: Say, "George Bush, help us out. We're struggling."

WATKISS: In fact, the situation is so bad that even the Romano's dog, who is named Diesel, snarling at the government. This is the Romanos' wonder -- if any relief will come before their trucks and their livelihood are stopped in their tracks.

ROMANO: I'm upset with the government, I'm upset with Bush, because he needs to understand what predicament he's putting us in.


KEILAR: AAA says a year ago the average price for a gallon of diesel in the U.S. was $2.78 a gallon. That is almost $1.25 less than right now.

LEMON: All right. Time now for our Political Ticker.

And topping the ticker today, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton looking ahead, fighting on after Clinton's much-needed win in yesterday's Pennsylvania primary. Obama is also looking back on his defeat, despite having outspent Clinton more than 2-1.

Here's what he told radio host and CNN contributor Roland Martin just a short time ago.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have won the white blue collar vote in a whole bunch of states -- in Wisconsin, in Iowa, in Virginia, and really, you know, if we had a demographic problem in Pennsylvania, it was that it's an older state than a lot of states, and it is true that Senator Clinton has some strong support among voters over 60.


LEMON: Clinton is hoping to bring her newfound momentum to the next major Democratic contest -- Indiana. Right now she's taking her message to Indianapolis.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The voters of Pennsylvania decided by an overwhelming majority that they could count on me. They could count on me to deliver for them. They could count on me to make the tough decisions that will be presented to the next president.


KEILAR: John McCain is on a week-long tour of poverty-stricken areas which he says get lost in the political mix. Today he is in Inez, Kentucky, in the region where President Lyndon Johnson launched his war on poverty. Analysts say McCain is trying to reach out to moderates and trying to show that he's not a "typical Republican." McCain is also saying something about the economy that the Bush administration hasn't said.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe we are in a recession. I think the numbers indicate that, and I will be glad to discuss the technical aspect of what's a recession or not technically is recession. But I think the reality is, and I don't have to tell you here, that American families are hurting.


KEILAR: And you can check out all of the latest campaign news right at your fingertips at We also have analysis from the best political team on television. Again, that's

LEMON: Looks like work. Well, some say it's -- it is slavery. Your seafood dinner may have human rights violations on the side.

KEILAR: And what really drives a presidential campaign? Momentum, debates, fiery speeches? Sure, yes. But let's get real, it's the money. The Pennsylvania primary earned one of these hopefuls a pocket full.

Who and why? Coming up.


LEMON: Going and going and going, a race that looks like it just won't end, candidates that won't quit. It's late in the Democratic presidential primary season, but the fiercest battles could be yet to come.

Hillary Clinton has gotten a much-needed double-digit win over Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary, the biggest remaining contest on the Democratic calendar. Now, the season picks up next month in Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Oregon and Kentucky. And don't forget Guam. Finally in June, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota head to the polls. More than 400 delegates remain at stake.

Let's take a look at the latest delegate count. A hundred and fifty-eight delegates were up for grabs in Pennsylvania. Clinton won more than Obama did, but we don't yet know the final split. Overall, so far, Obama has 1,719 delegates on his side, Clinton has 1,586. 2,025 are needed to win the nomination.

KEILAR: Votes and delegates obviously important. Money, however, is absolutely vital. It's the lifeblood. And Hillary Clinton says that her debt-ridden campaign got a lot of it after her Pennsylvania win -- $3 million, most of it from new donors. So now she's got the wherewithal to fight on, but will her battle with Barack Obama hit trouble down the road?

CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider has been looking at some ominous exit polls.

Bill, what can you tell us about those?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the exit polls show that both candidates are more or less entrenched in their base of supporters. Hillary Clinton gets seniors, she gets Catholics, she gets blue collar voters. Barack Obama, very overwhelming support among African-Americans, more affluent voters, young voters. And those bases remain stable.

So what we've got is a situation of something like trench warfare between the two campaigns, each one trying to break into the other's base. But what it's going to look more and more like is they're going to keep their supporters and try to drive up their turnout.

KEILAR: Let's look forward now to the next primary, one of the next primaries, May 6th, North Carolina. Voters there going to the polls. And John McCain's campaign is upset about a negative campaign ad that the Republican Party is about to start running there. What can you tell us about that? SCHNEIDER: Well, the Republican Party of North Carolina is planning to run an ad starting on Monday which criticizes Barack Obama for his association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He tried -- you may remember it came up a few weeks ago.

Obama tried to deal with it in his speech on race and politics, where he distanced himself from Wright's comments but said he would not disavow the man. The ad says that Barack Obama is too extreme for North Carolina, and it could inject a very divisive racial element into the campaign there.

John McCain has asked the state party not to run the ad. We're not sure what their response is yet, but it does illustrate an important fact about the campaigns. The candidates don't always control the entire campaign.

The ad is being run by a state party which is not under the command of the presumptive nominee, John McCain. We've seen this in the past with independent groups like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth running ads that weren't directly run by the campaign itself. And this is going to be happening more and more.

KEILAR: Very interesting.

Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst. Thank you.

LEMON: All right. Well you may not be familiar with the commodity market, but you should be. They help explain why your grocery bill is soaring. We'll tell you why.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to our home.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Home for this quart of eco-activists is a bus, and it's touring the country to spread a message of sustainability. They call their effort BioTour.

FERNANDO AUSIN, BIOTOUR: We're seeing a society that is not living sustainably. That is, exploiting resources to the bare minimum. And, you know, we can see it with the degradation of our natural resources, with oil depletion, with anything out there.

MARCIANO: They're taking their message to college students and anyone who will listen. The bus itself is an example of sustainability. It runs on biodiesel and used vegetable oil.

ETHAN BURKE, BIOTOUR: Restaurant owners or managers are willing to donate it to us because oftentimes they have to pay to get rid of it because it's a waste product.

MARCIANO: Solar panels on the roof power rechargeable batteries. BURKE: And we use the energy stored in those batteries to power laptop computers, cell phones, and various electronic appliances.

MARCIANO: BioTour plans to expand to a fleet of four buses this fall, coinciding with the presidential campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want a society in which we can all live sustainable, that relies on renewable energies, and an active and participatory democracy. It's a human problem, and as humans we can solve it.

MARCIANO: Rob Marciano, CNN.



LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Kyra Phillips.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

It is half past the hour, and here are three of the stories that we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM. General David Petraeus has been chosen to head U.S. central command. Petraeus is currently the top U.S. Commander in Iraq, and he could leave in late summer or early fall, and be replaced by his number two man, Ray Odierno.

Well, a hearing is expected next hour in Texas on a massive and confusing child custody case. Lawyers for the hundreds of children seized from that polygamous ranch in Eldorado are questioning how they would all be cared for if they're moved to foster homes. Meantime, lab workers have finished taking DNA samples from the kids hoping to sort out their family relationships.

Records broken by the day, gas prices have hit another all-time high topping $3.53 for a gallon of regular unleaded. That is up $0.02 from yesterday's record.

LEMON: Well, here's a mixed bag of speakers for you as we look at live pictures here from Washington, D.C. A career diplomat, someone close to the Dalai Lama, and the guy from Pretty Woman are all at a hearing getting started right now in Washington, the subject is Tibet.

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State, John Negroponte is there, so is actor/activist Richard Gere. Don't see him in the room right now. He's hoping to use his star power to cast a brighter light on China's violent crackdown on Tibetan protesters.

After a reverent arrival in Australia, the Olympic torch is expected to have a noisy run through the Capital Canberra tonight. Thousands of anti-China protesters have flooded the city. At last report, organizers still hope to follow the ten mile route, but police say things will be dynamic, depending on the mood in the streets.

You can stay current on the torch's trek around the world at We've also got the interviews with old Olympians, commentary and much more at

KEILAR: In the wake of the boat load of weapons that couldn't find a welcome port in Africa, Britain's prime minister is calling for a formal arms embargo against Zimbabwe. Gordon Brown says it's completely unacceptable the Mugabe government won't release the results of last month's presidential election.

The Chinese ship carrying the Zimbabwe-bound weapons may be headed back home, according to Beijing. Unions in several African countries have refused to handle the cargo, and their governments have gone along.

LEMON: All right. This just in to the CNN NEWSROOM, it involves -- remember the Liberty 6? At first, they were the Liberty 7 -- those seven men that were accused of trying to blow up the Sears Tower, one of them was acquitted. Well, a federal prosecutor will try a third time to convict six men now accused of scheming to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower, and bomb FBI offices.

This was just a couple weeks ago a judge had declared a second mistrial for the six men accused of plotting that terrorist act, and reportedly with al Qaeda, but the suspects remained in jail while they were trying to do this. You're looking at pictures of those six suspects right now. Here's the new information, and we're trying to follow all of this for you.

And this is -- do we have this confirmed -- this is according to the Associated Press, guys? According to the Associated Press. Federal prosecutors will try for a third time to convict six men accused of scheming to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices. Details to come as we get them.

KEILAR: Well, the sun is just refusing to show its face in the southern plains. Let's head to Chad Myers. People there, of course, want to know, Chad, are they going to seen any rays soon?


LEMON: New life for Hillary Clinton's campaign, new longevity for the Democratic presidential race. Clinton has scored a much- needed win in Pennsylvania over Barack Obama. And she's now looking ahead to the remaining primary states. But she could be facing an uphill battle.

Obama still leads in overall delegates and popular vote, and maybe what's most important here, fundraising. He's not quitting, she's not quitting, and the two could be in for their fiercest battles yet.

KEILAR: Speaking of fundraising, Hillary Clinton's done a whole lot of it in a very short amount of time. Her campaign says it's raised more than $3 million since Pennsylvania. That's its best overnight performance to date. Earlier this week, the campaign reported around $9 million on hand at the start of April, but $10 million in debt. Barack Obama had more than $40 million in hand.

Well, first an endorsement, now a rebuke. Hillary Clinton's hometown paper criticizing her campaign tactics. The "New York Times" editorial board accuses Clinton of negativity. It says she's harming herself, her opponent, the Democratic Party and Democratic chances in November. Earlier this year, the same editorial board endorsed Clinton for President.

Barack Obama is being endorsed today by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, an all-important superdelegate. Though Clinton won Oklahoma's primary February 5th, she is also picking up a superdelegate today, Tennessee Congressman John Tanner.

LEMON: First-time voters were a major factor in the Pennsylvania primary, and CNN's Rick Sanchez -- Rick is on the road. He has been traveling the country listening to the issues and catching their attention.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys are the first ones to talk to me about health care and say, this is a priority. This is important for this country. Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've grown up a majority of my life without health insurance. So I know how costly it is to go to the doctor, to go to the hospital, and not have any backup. You never want to see somebody rejected, or think that they shouldn't go to the hospital because they can't afford it. I think that's inhumane.

SANCHEZ: She calls it universal health care, Republicans say it's socialized medicine. Is that a fair criticism?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think -- certain issues government needs to step up and put in certain programs that are going to help overall. You need some kind of overall ...

SANCHEZ: Do you think the government should be relied on to do some of these things?


SANCHEZ: Just to do it better?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, I think it goes beyond government. I mean, if we're a community, if this country is everything that we say it is, I think it's our responsibility, our civic duty then to take care of one another.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I live 20 minutes out of Scranton, and it's just so poor. And there's so many people who are not covered and who can't go to the hospital, as Steph (ph) was saying, like they can't live up to their potential because they don't have insurance, or because the school systems are so poor around here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think there's a difference between taking a socialist idea and working with it, as opposed to taking socialism and putting it into the country. I think that's the core difference between what Hillary's doing and what Barack is planning on doing, and what people are saying that they're doing.

SANCHEZ: We're looking like we're going to be spending something like $1 trillion in Iraq. Money well spent? Raise your hand if you think we ought not to have gone into Iraq. That it was a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we were to -- cliche -- pull all of our troops out and take them home, I feel that that could be more disastrous.

SANCHEZ: You guys believe this country needs change?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We shouldn't be at war, and John McCain is going to keep our troops at war.

SANCHEZ: What makes you think that Hillary or Barack Obama will be any better?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't talk about his policies. He just talks about everything needs to be changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The young American public is getting really caught up in his campaign, because all he speaks of is change. They hear him speak and they're like, yes, change, change, but they don't really know what he wants to change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. He's a good speaker. Words come out of his mouth, people like them. They don't think about what the implications of those words mean, though.

SANCHEZ: You believe the next President of the United States will be a Democrat, raise your hand. All but one. Thanks, ladies.


LEMON: Rick Sanchez on the road for us checking out some first- time voters. This election, get the facts and some fun, a whole lot of fun. Join the league of first-time voters, powered by you, informed by CNN. CNN Headquarters for the independent thinker join now, log on to

KEILAR: Your seafood dinner, sure it tastes good, but was it made by child labor under some very harsh conditions? We'll tell you what a new investigation found out.


LEMON: Did someone have to suffer to put shrimp on your dinner plate? A human rights group says it's uncovered barbaric labor practices in Thailand and Bangladesh where much of America's seafood comes from.

State Department correspondent Zain Verjee has been working on this story for CNN's "SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT." Zain, those are troubling words: barbaric?


I mean, if you order shrimp for dinner or if you want to go and buy it from the grocery store, you really do need to know this. A new report says that the shrimp you're eating could be linked to slave labor half a world away. Now, as you say, Don, it's imported mostly from Thailand and Bangladesh.

A group called the Solidarity Center which is allied with the AFL-CIO, has spent three years investigating this. They found a growing world appetite for shrimp, especially right here in the United States. Solidarity found that as the shrimp industries have boomed in those countries, workers who process the shrimp have become exploited.

The report says the workers endure things like forced labor, beatings, sexual abuse, low wages, long hours. In a place like Thailand where many of the workers are trafficked from Burma, they're forced to work in sweatshop-like conditions.

And we spoke to the State Department's director of human rights trafficking who traveled to Thailand and met with one woman who was abused.


MARK LAGON, STATE DEPARTMENT: I was stunned to hear the details. A. A. Winn (ph) was caught, dragged back and beaten when she tried to escape this labor camp. She was refused food and water, and she had her head shaved to be made an example to other workers who would try and rebel against their repressors. All of this was designed to demonstrate to her colleagues what would happen if they dared to escape.

This is forced labor. It can't be described in any other ways except slavery.


VERJEE: The report says that the average American eats nearly three pounds of shrimp a year and 80 percent of it is imported from these countries. The U.S. imports come to about $1.5 billion worth of shrimp a year, so it's big business here.

The authors of the report also add that they want Americans to be more aware of what's going on, where the shrimp is coming from. They also say that not all of it may be tainted, but it is a problem. They're calling for higher standards and more scrutiny of shrimp imports.

CNN's "SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT" will bring you a full report tomorrow on "ISSUE #1" -- Don.

LEMON: Hey Zain, to make our viewers aware, which companies are buying the tainted shrimp?

VERJEE: Well, the Solidarity group says that there are a number here in the U.S. and it didn't speak to either the importers or the retailers of the shrimp. But what they're saying is that they traced the shrimp deliveries to some pretty well-known U.S. companies like Wal-Mart, for example.

We got in touch with them, and they issued a statement saying, "That food safety is a top priority at Wal-Mart." They say that, "We hold our shrimp suppliers to the highest safety and quality standards." They added too though, "We have not seen the Solidarity Center's report, but we are working with suppliers to investigate the allegations shared by CNN," but that they were "not aware of any issues in our supply chain," they said.

So, we're looking into it.

LEMON: OK, all right, Zain. So anyone where you covered, the State Department, you're the correspondent there, or the Solidarity group, anyone calling for a U.S. embargo of these shrimp from these companies?

VERJEE: No, they're not coming out and explicitly doing that, Don, but what they're saying is that we've really got to empower the consumer, give them the knowledge, like explain to people what on earth is going on. Some of these companies that import the shrimp may not even know themselves.

And the thing is, it's such a big business here. If you look at imports of shrimp here in 2006, they were valued at over $4 billion. It's actually the most valuable seafood import in the U.S. So they're saying, yes, it's a big business, but if the public knows more about it, they'll be able to make an informed decision.

LEMON: State Department correspondent Zain Verjee. Zain, we appreciate your reporting.

And you can hear the full report on the seafood child labor investigation tomorrow on CNN's "ISSUE #1," it's at noon Eastern, and it's only here on CNN.

KEILAR: You may not be familiar with commodity markets, but you should be. They help explain why your grocery bill is soaring. We'll tell you why.


KEILAR: You're probably familiar with the stock market, but what about commodities markets? They're one of the big reasons that you're shelling out a lot more cash these days at the grocery store.

Our senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi, explains.


ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: As the housing market continues its plunge and stock markets gyrate, one market, the market for commodity futures, stays red hot.

In the past year alone, corn futures have spiked more than 60 percent; soybean over 90 percent; and rice has more than doubled. Hedge funds and other pools of big money are pouring billions into commodities. They want a better return than real estate, the stock market or the U.S. dollar can give them.

Why do you care? Because the speculative fever is finding its way here, to the checkout line.

LAKSHAMAN ACHUTHAN, ECONOMIC CYCLE RESEARCH INSTITUTE: When we get the momentum in a market going one way, smart people can make money doing that. That is what their job is. What's happening now is that this is showing up and impacting people very much on main street and on their dinner tables.

VELSHI: Now, to be fair, these high prices aren't just caused by speculators. Bad weather has caused the price of food grains to spike, and growing demand from emerging markets like China and India, and the weak U.S. dollar is also playing a part.

But as futures markets rally, companies that buy crops to make food must swallow higher prices to guarantee future delivery of the raw goods that they need, and that's driving prices even higher.

KENDELL KEITH, NATIONAL GRAIN AND FEED ASSOCIATION: It ultimately adds to the cost in the marketplace for merchandising and marketing grain.

VELSHI: Bottom line -- at least some of the price boom appears divorced from the laws of supply and demand. Proof, say some economists, easily traded commodities like corn and wheat are showing historic gains, while commodities that aren't widely traded like rubber and burlap are up by a much smaller amount.

Others say that connection is tougher to make.

VIC LESPINASSE, GRAINANALYST.COM: It's very difficult to say exactly how big of a role speculations played. I think it's relatively minor. The speculators are not setting the trend, they're just following the trend.

VELSHI: Traders say the fundamentals play a much bigger role than speculation, drought in wheat-growing Australia, for instance. And they say, don't forget, higher oil and gas prices make it more expensive to produce and transport food.

Now, you'd think farmers here in the U.S. would be happy about these high prices. But even some of them are complaining that all of this speculation has thrown the whole market out of whack. They say they're not feeling the full benefit of the price increases and they're asking the U.S. government to somehow limit speculation in food markets.

Easier said than done. But speculation in commodity markets is provoking food rage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have, you know, your milk price double, or your bread double, or something like that, because of some financial gyrations, and you say something is wrong here. And I think that's what people are really reacting to and feeling right now.

VELSHI: It may be wrong to some, but a global market is a hard thing to stop.

Ali Velshi, CNN, New York.


LEMON: All right, Ali.

Forget the MPGs, the miles per gallon, go for the horsepower. With gas prices spiraling, that's what one Kentucky driver is doing, literally. He's on a horse. He traded in his car keys and picked up a saddle.


ALLAN PEERCE, GAS PRICE PROTESTER: You know, with the oil companies, they could care less what I think. If I can make a statement, then two people might make a statement, and if two people, then four people, then eight people, and it can be ongoing, and get off their high horse and get on a real horse.


LEMON: Well Peerce says if diesel prices climb to $4.25 a gallon, he'll ride his horse to city hall and he'll camp out on the lawn there.

There are no leftovers in campaign 2008, only new ways to try and cash in. And we'll explain.


KEILAR: A half-eaten waffle turns up on eBay after a campaign pit stop by Barack Obama. Bet you want to know if it sold like hot cakes.

CNN's Jeanne Moos will tell you.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This isn't about a candidate waffling, it's about a candidate as waffle. How much would you bid for Senator Barack Obama's half-eaten waffle on eBay? Seventy-six bucks? Over $10,000?

OBAMA: You guys want some? MOOS: They didn't, but somebody did.

(on-camera): Who wrapped up the sausage and the waffle?

VOICE OF CHARLIE LESTRANGE, OWNER, GLIDER DINER: You know what, I really don't know who did that?

MOOS (voice-over): Wafflegate began when Senator Obama visited the Glider Diner in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and decided to order a waffle.

OBAMA: It's delicious.

MOOS: And when the senator got up to leave, his leftovers got left behind as the senator posed with the diner's owner.

(on-camera): But how did the waffle get from Obama's plate on to eBay?

LESTRANGE: Well, I guess one of my employees must have taken it and had an idea that they were going to do something with it.

MOOS (voice-over): That something was this. Up for bid? The campaign breakfast, partially eaten, by, as the eBay listing put it, Barack Hussein Obama. Lest you doubt it, his DNA is on the silverware.

The seller says the plate was wrapped by a waitress and given to a loyal customer.

OBAMA: You want the sausage?


You want a waffle?

MOOS: Kid doesn't know what he's missing.

On eBay, the bidding war was on -- $76, $177.50, $10,100. All this for a homemade waffle that lists on the menu for $2.75?

(on-camera): Only $2.75 for a waffle? No wonder he only ate half.

(voice-over): The eBay listing noted all proceeds go to Hillary for president, ha ha. Actually, we suspect most of the bids were just jokes and Web sites that ran the story attracted jokers.

"If you look at the plate just right, it's the face of Hitler." "There's the smile," meaning the waffle itself. "The sausage is the mustache," of course, "and the knife and fork resemble the hair combed over to the right." Spitting image.

Hitler or no Hitler, the diner's owner wanted the waffle removed from the eBay.

LESTRANGE: I don't think it's right. I don't think it's right without permission.

MOOS: Next thing you know, the waffle had disappeared from the eBay. And this wasn't just any half eaten Obama waffle, this waffle was actually used by the candidate to deflect a pesky reporter asking a question about Jimmy Carter meeting with Hamas.

OBAMA: Why is it that I can't just eat my waffle?

MOOS: Now, that really is waffling.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


LEMON: All right. Running for president is a full-time job, but senators have to work, too. Well, sometimes. A rare appearance on Capitol Hill today by both Democratic contenders, one of whom is walking a little taller after Pennsylvania.

KEILAR: And this the mother of all child custody cases. A court in Texas struggling to sort out parentage and foster care for hundreds of children from a polygamist sect, some of whom are mothers themselves.

We are live at the courthouse.