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CNN NEWSROOM

Tornado Rampaging Across Flat Plain of Texas; Laura Bush Turns a New Page in Her Fight against Illiteracy

Aired April 24, 2008 - 09:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Some big box retailers putting limits on rice sales. Is the global food crisis hitting home today?
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Did North Korea help Syria build a nuclear plant? The Bush administration says yes. It is showing Congress the evidence this morning.

WHITFIELD: And the central part of the country on guard today for tornadoes, hail, heavy rain. Stormy plains in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Our top story this morning, surprise on aisle six. One of the nation's largest warehouse stores is limiting how much rice you can buy. The reason, soaring prices and rising concerns of a world food crisis.

CNN senior business correspondent -- there he is -- Ali Velshi joins us now.

Ali, are we looking at food shortages here in the United States? Give it to me straight. You always do.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is an important story to bring light to the crisis that we've got in food. But no, we're not looking at a shortage. What it is is Sam's Club, which is one of the biggest warehouse clubs in the country, has put some limits on how much rice you can buy. Now the limit's pretty substantial. Let me show you what it is. You can buy four bags at a time and these are 20-pound bags, and this is about imported rice, because you know we don't grow a whole lot of rice in the United States. So it's Jasmine rice, Basmati rice and long grain white rice.

You can buy 80 pounds at a time. What the issue is here, most folks like you and me aren't buying 80 pounds of rice at a time. A lot of small businesses that are being charged extra to have distributors bring food to them go to places like Costco or Sam's Club, load up on the supplies that they need for their small restaurant or whatever they do, and they are buying quantities of rice.

Now we're not entirely sure what the reasoning is behind this because we do not have a rice shortage in the United States. What we do have is spikes in prices of rice, wheat, corn and all the things we've discussed in the past. So it's kind of just an interesting fact to know...

HARRIS: Yes. VELSHI: ...that it's happening. But no, there's not a run on rice, there's not a shortage.

HARRIS: Well, other countries import their rice as well. And we're hearing stories of shortages in all of these areas. We're talking about wheat and other commodities as well. So I'm wondering at some point might we begin to feel a pinch here.

VELSHI: Yes. Well...

HARRIS: Certainly the other nations are.

VELSHI: Sure. I mean these -- the cost of these grains around the world -- these are basic grains, corn, wheat, rice -- that really everybody in the world survives on.

HARRIS: Yes.

VELSHI: Now in some countries, Sierra Leon has been the one we pointed out the most because it is one of the poorest in the world, and they exist on rice. And it's just too expensive. So when you're at the bottom end of the income scale, we've seen it Haiti, we've seen it in Sierra Leon...

HARRIS: That's right.

VELSHI: ...it's that -- this is devastating. This is really a problem. The rice remains available to the highest bidder. And that's the problem. These grains have just become too expensive. We've got nothing to substitute them with because corn is expensive, too, and wheat is expensive.

HARRIS: And wheat's expensive.

VELSHI: Yes.

HARRIS: All right. There he is, Ali Velshi this morning for us from New York.

Ali, great to see you. Thanks, man.

VELSHI: OK.

WHITFIELD: So rice limits in the U.S.? Well, that's a mere inconvenience compared to the food crisis overseas there. There is rioting in several countries and deepening fears in others.

In New Delhi, India, CNN's Sara Sidner, well, she's there and she joins us now via broadband.

And Sara, what are you seeing there?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredericka, it's really a numbers issue here. And let me put it into perspective. In the United States, the population there now stands at about 300 million people. Well, that's about one-third of India's population of 1.1 billion. That 300 million people here in India live on less than $1 a day. So when you have a high price of food, it hits them directly and it hits them hard.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER (voice over): Tea and bread. A simple meal, but the only one this family of seven will see today. They live on less than $3 a day. Hunger is never far away.

"Prices are going very high. I cannot fulfill my children's requirements. I cannot buy what I need," says Chandra Wati(ph).

Once a month Chandra Wati goes to the ration shop and gets a bag of wheat, rice and sugar for a fraction of the market price. But it's barely enough. Dad worries as he searches for more work.

"At the end of the day, I cannot fulfill my responsibilities to my family," he says.

Mom is forced to skip some of her own meals.

For all the talk of its booming middle class, India is still home to more than half of the world's hungry and that number is growing.

GIANPIETRO BORDIGON, U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: I'd say we are in a crisis. The critical stage is still to come.

SIDNER: The Indian government is scrambling to cope with the surge in food prices by halting exports of rice and trying to give farmers some relief from crushing debt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: The Indian government plans to spend $8 billion this year alone on its food welfare program, that's up $2 billion from 2006, Fredricka. And so you might imagine that's a huge amount of money. But if they don't spend it, hundreds of millions of people here will go from surviving to starvation -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: And Sara, that's a huge amount of money and is it money that they can actually carry out? They can make the commitment but do they have the money to spend?

SIDNER: That is correct. The Indian economy has actually been growing by about 8 to 8.5 percent each year, so they do have the money. But as you can imagine, the more expensive food prices are, the more money they'll have to spend, and when does it end? Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Sara Sidner, thanks so much in New Delhi.

And you can take action on the news that moves you. Learn more about the food crisis, what you can do, and the charities that are there to help. That address, CNN.com/impact.

HARRIS: Another day, another record. And all we can do, it seems, is grin and bear it. Gasoline prices go from creeping to leaping. Up more than two cents overnight. The AAA puts the national average at just over $3.56 for a gallon of regular. A year ago it was $2, $2, Fred, and 86 cents a gallon. Premium is now at $3.91 and diesel, forget about it, $4.22.

Analysts predicted many of us will soon be paying an average of $4 for a gallon of regular gas.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk weather, bad weather, spring weather. Expect the unexpected, if that makes any sense, like this. A tornado rampaging across the flat plain of Dawson County, Texas. It forms from savage thunderstorms that pounded northern and western Texas and 70-mile-per-hour winds and baseball sized hail damaging homes. Take a look at that, downing trees and branches, knocking out power, all of that.

And spring snowboarding. Sound interesting to you, Tony?

HARRIS: No.

WHITFIELD: I don't like to see you on a snowboard.

HARRIS: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Quite comical.

All right. Some higher elevations of the sierra have picked up nearly a foot of snow just enough for one last spring fling.

Rob, I can see you on a snowboard.

HARRIS: Oh yes.

WHITFIELD: I can see you into it.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Oh yes.

HARRIS: Oh yes.

MARCIANO: I'm a shredder.

WHITFIELD: Looks like fun, doesn't it?

MARCIANO: I can rip it, and I can...

WHITFIELD: You're a shredder, a little air.

MARCIANO: I can huff my carcass like nobody's business.

HARRIS: He can rip it.

WHITFIELD: Oh it's great.

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: Yes, this is that dangerous time of year. HARRIS: It is.

MARCIANO: It is.

HARRIS: Yes. All right. Rob, appreciate it.

MARCIANO: You got it.

HARRIS: Want to put you on stand by a little bit here, those of you watching us at home for iReports. When the weather becomes the news and it looks like there's a really good chance of it today, please, send along your iReports. Go to CNN.com and click on iReport or type ireport@CNN.com into your cell phone. It helps us tell a more complete story. As always, be safe.

WHITFIELD: Well, on to Indiana and North Carolina, the two states have the next Democratic primary contest. That's May 6th. Hillary Clinton is in North Carolina today for a couple of speeches. Barack Obama is off the campaign trail today huddling with aides in Chicago, maybe getting a little rest.

John McCain continues his weeklong tour of areas hit hard by job losses. He's in New Orleans to visit the Ninth Ward and he's also holding a town hall meeting. He's also campaigned this week in Kentucky, Selma,, Alabama and Youngstown, Ohio.

HARRIS: Suspected nuclear ties between North Korea and Syria. Now a closed door briefing in Washington is sparking new intrigue. We're digging deeper, ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A new tool to fight illiteracy. First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Jena read between the lines. They are live in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Covering the angles, uncovering the details, see for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: Closed meetings on Capitol Hill today. Their focus on North Korea's possible ties to Syria's alleged nuclear ambitions. Among the witnesses CIA chief Michael Hayden.

Here's White House correspondent Ed Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As the White House inches closer to loosening sanctions on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il in exchange for giving up his nuclear program, U.S. intelligence officials are going to Capitol Hill to privately brief lawmakers on classified information suggesting North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear reactor that was wiped out by an Israeli air strike.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INST. FOR SCIENCE & INTL. SECURITY: To have new information come out about a Syrian reactor is on -- could overshadow what's going on in North Korea and work against getting success with the six-party talks.

HENRY: David Albright and other analysts suspect conservative close to the Bush administration are leaking details about the Syrian saga in order to raise questions about North Korea's trustworthiness and scuttle a deal with them.

The timing of the briefings does seem curious since President Bush has previously been so tight-lipped about the controversy.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to comment on the matter. I understand what you're trying to take -- it's a clever ruse to get me to comment on it but I'm not going to.

HENRY: But senior Democrats privately say the intelligence supports the need for continued diplomacy with North Korea. One top Democratic aide saying, quote, "This story does not call into question the desirability of a tough, verifiable agreement with North Korea. It underscores the need for one."

Nuclear experts also note there is no evidence that Syria has a nuclear weapons program. So construction of the reactor may not have been that significant anyway.

ALBRIGHT: North Korea should never have helped Syria build a reactor, but the Israelis settled that issue.

HENRY (on camera): Supporters of the six-party talks contend it would be better for the U.S. to seal this deal with North Korea and try and prevent them from building another nuclear reactor either in Syria or somewhere else.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Why don't we attempt to pull back the curtain on this apparent nuclear skullduggery? I'm joined by international security analyst Jim Walsh. He's in Washington.

Jim, great to see as always.

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Always good great to see you, Tony.

HARRIS: So help us with this, Jim. Congress is getting evidence of the existence of the nuclear reactor in Syria, evidence that it was taken out by Israel. Then Congress is getting evidence that North Korea helped Syria in building the reactor?

WALSH: Helped either in the building or in providing design information. It appears from secret movies that were taken and satellite reconnaissance photos that this reactor looks a lot like the Pyongyang reactor in North Korea. So whether they were actually building it is unclear, but they were at least helping in terms of its design.

But let me add, Tony.

HARRIS: Sure.

WALSH: What is also clear, we heard a lot rumors after the September attack about what North Korea was doing. Clearly North Korea was not transferring a nuclear weapon to Syria, was not giving fissile material to Syria which could be used for a nuclear weapon. And apparently there's not even evidence of a reprocessing plant. You can't build a bomb unless you have a reactor and a reprocessing plant.

HARRIS: What was North Korea doing then? What's the allegation here?

WALSH: Well, the allegation is that they were helping them with this reactor. And then the question is -- in my view this raises more red flags about Syria than it does about North Korea. Syria is a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. I interpret their obligation as being that they should have told the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, that they were planning on building a reactor. They didn't do that. They denied they were trying and then they pushed a lot of dirt over the reactor site after the bombing.

So I think -- again, this raises questions about Syria's intentions less than North Korea. If anything, I think this demonstrates with regard to North Korea why this February 13th agreement is necessary. We've got to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons, get them out of the nuclear business...

HARRIS: But...

WALSH: ...into the world community.

HARRIS: But it seems that we're not quite sure what to do and how to check North Korea's know-how of nuclear technology. And I'm wondering should North Korea be punished at all for whatever it provided to Syria.

WALSH: Well, you know, there is now -- under the nuclear non- proliferation treaty, which North Korea says it's got out of, and that's a matter of dispute, there's no prohibition on transferring civilian knowledge...

HARRIS: Which is what Syria says it was engage in, correct?

WALSH: Correct, exactly.

HARRIS: So what's the justification for Israel taking out the building of this reactor?

WALSH: Well, this sort of preemptive attacks were always a matter of some controversy. You'll remember the attack back in 1981 that Israel carried out against the Iraq's -- or Iraq's reactor. Obviously Israel has a defense doctrine that's very proactive. And they would -- they prefer to have that reactor taken out before it becomes a problem in the future. Whether that's internationally legal, I'll let the lawyers say that.

HARRIS: So how do we explain -- got you. How do we explain then that this air strike is carried out by Israel and for so long no one is talking about it? Israel is not talking about it, Syria is not talking about it. The president of the United States, as you heard in Ed Henry's piece, didn't want to have anything to do with this.

How do we explain the lack of any seeming outrage over the attack in the sovereign territory of Syria, whether you can justify it or not?

WALSH: It's a great question, it's very, very curious. I think this is one of the few issues in the international agenda where the U.S., Israel and Syria all have a common interest, the common interest in keeping quiet. The Israelis obviously don't want to cause a furor when they attacked Iraq in 1981, the Iraq reactor. They suffered some repercussions for that. They were in the spotlight. That didn't serve their interest.

Syria probably doesn't wan to talk about it too much either, because maybe...

HARRIS: Right.

WALSH: ...they don't want to admit that they were building something.

HARRIS: Gotcha.

WALSH: And the U.S. doesn't want to get involved.

HARRIS: Let me -- before I lose you here. I know you're testifying before Congress yourself today on Iran, correct?

WALSH: Correct. And North Korea before...

HARRIS: And North Korea as well?

WALSH: Yes. Before Senator Carper.

HARRIS: On Iran, I want you to hear what Secretary Gates said yesterday and then I've got a question for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen. And -- inside Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Now, Jim, help me understand this. What is it that the defense secretary can actually prove here? That is a pretty bellicose statement. If you hear the statement, it screams for some kind of action from this government. OK?

WALSH: Yes.

HARRIS: So what kind of a real case can the defense secretary build here? Is it something beyond the circumstantial evidence case? Is it reasonable doubt? What's the case that the secretary can make to support a statement like that?

WALSH: Well, that's a great question again. There is no smoking gun here. And let me back up and say in that same remark the other day the secretary said that a war against Iran would be a horrible idea, use of military action. You want to keep the option on the table. If we did it...

HARRIS: But if Iranians are killing Americans, I don't -- there's a disconnect here.

WALSH: Well, you know, part of the problem is -- this is murky business. Now when you hear the phrase "Iranian-backed groups," let me assure you, Iran is backing everyone, every group in Iraq. The -- do you know what an Iranian-backed group is? It's the Maliki government in Iraq. They're trying to hedge their bets. Different factions are supporting different groups in Iraq. And how do you win friends and influence in international politics? Guns, money, political sports. So the Iranians are all over it. But that doesn't mean that the supreme leader up there is saying attack this soldier, attack that (INAUDIBLE). They provided support.

HARRIS: Yes. But you will grant me that that statement, what the Iranians are doing is killing American service members inside Iraq, that there's no murkiness there.

WALSH: No, that's very -- it's a provocative statement.

HARRIS: OK. Jim, great to see you. Thanks for your time.

WALSH: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Children of polygamists moving in with strangers. Is it the right move? An update on this developing story still ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: News as it develops as only CNN can bring it to you. See for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Action star Wesley Snipes facing sentencing this hour. The hearing set for 9:30 Eastern in an Ocala, Florida federal courtroom. This is nice. Entering the courthouse just minutes ago, Snipes was found guilty in February for failing to file taxes for three years. The government says he owes $2.7 million. Prosecutors call him a notorious offender. They want the judge to give him the maximum sentence, possibly three years behind bars and a $5 million fine.

We will tell you what the judge rules when it happens.

WHITFIELD: Well, this is moving day for hundreds of children taken from that polygamist compound in Texas. They are headed to group homes, shelters, foster care.

Our Susan Roesgen is following the case in San Angelo, Texas.

Susan, what is the latest on finding homes for these kids?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Fredericka, it really looks today as it did on Monday, what we see behind me is the state troopers have now sealed off the front entrance to the San Angelo Coliseum, which is where the original 437 children had been staying. This is what they did on Monday, Fredricka, they sealed off the front entrance, and they sent big charter buses around to the side and the back of the coliseum and they started moving children out.

So we believe that more children will be moved today. About 100 on Monday. And we think perhaps the rest of them may be moved today. Now the mothers of the very youngest children are relieved to know that they'll be able to stay with their babies. The nursing mothers, there are 18 nursing mothers. They'll be allowed to stay with their babies. That's a concession from the judge, who also said that the mothers of children younger than 3 should also be found accommodations in the same town as their children.

The kids are being sent to group homes all across the state of Texas, some as far away as 500 miles in Houston. And the attorneys for those children are hoping that this move is just a temporary move.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN HAYS, ATTORNEY: I certainly hope there's a big chance the children will be home before the six months deadline, because these are not only a lot of very young children, they're children who have lived in a sheltered community. I mean this community is very 19th century. And they grow their own food. These kids haven't been eating at McDonald's, and they haven't been in a public school.

It's going to be a big shock for them. The more this case can be treated differently because of the nature of the community, the better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: Now as far as the DNA testing goes, we understand that all of the children have been tested. That's why the state has decided to go ahead and move them out. And from what we understand, at the last count about 160 adults have been tested. We won't have the results, though, Fredricka, for between a month and a month and a half.

WHITFIELD: And Susan, you know what's interesting, every time I look at the video of these young people being, you know, bused away, I'm also seeing people waving inside, seemingly very happy. And we hear from the one attorney who talks about this is going to be a shock for so many of these young people, this video right here, they look awfully happy. So you kind of wonder, what's -- is there a mixed message here?

I mean are some of these kids happy to be leaving the compound or is it that they really don't know what's ahead and so they're just kids and they are happy anyway?

ROESGEN: It could be the latter, Fredricka. What I think is that, you know, for some of them, at least initially, this might seem like a big adventure. You know, they've not been allowed outside that compound, they can't get past the gates. Here they are on the outside world for the first time. It may have been a big adventure to get all this media attention, to have people watching them and they ride off on the buses.

But I think what most people believe is that ultimately they're going to be like any children anywhere. They're going to start missing their mothers. And that's the big concern is how much they might feel isolated from their mothers.

WHITFIELD: Good point. Susan Roesgen, thanks so much from San Angelo, Texas -- Tony.

HARRIS: A lawyer with a small practice takes on the case of a lifetime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: I'll be the first person who can literally look him in the eyes and say, "I am here to help you."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Wow. The attorney and the alleged terrorist ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM on CNN, the most trusted name in news.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the NEWSROOM. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Good morning, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Hello, good morning.

HARRIS: Good morning. New York Stock Exchange, everyone, now as we get the business day started. The bell sounding maybe just moments ago. All right. So everyone is talking about the big plans for the day, I guess.

The DOW starts today at 12,763 after picking up 42 points yesterday. One of the big business stories we're continuing to follow. Ford motor company reporting first quarter profits.

WHITFIELD: That's great news. We like to hear that.

HARRIS: In Europe and South America, North America, not so good. We're going to keep it positive.

WHITFIELD: That counts for something, too.

HARRIS: Absolutely. We're going to keep it positive. And who better than Susan Lisovicz to drive us through the morning right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: And of course nasty weather, particularly in the midsection. We've heard of some possible tornado activity. Rob Marciano has been keeping a close watch.

But it's a little bit of everything. We have a little bit of snow in the west, which is exciting for the snowboarders and the spring skiers. But let's talk about the midsection, right? Is that what we're focusing on right now?

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Want you to send along those I-reports if you would. Just go to cnn.com, click on I-report, or you can type ireport@cnn.com, right there into your cell phone. As always, be safe.

WHITFIELD: Also looking straight ahead, known for her love of reading, now First Lady Laura Bush turns a new page in her fight against illiteracy. She and daughter, Jenna, have a new children's book. This one right here. It's called "Read All About It." They join us now from Washington. Good to see both of you.

LAURA BUSH, AUTHOR, "READ ALL ABOUT IT": Thanks.

JENNA BUSH, CO-AUTHOR, "READ ALL ABOUT IT": Thanks.

WHITFIELD: And congratulations on this collaboration. This must have been fun. Mother and daughter working on this project. Tell me all about it.

L. BUSH: We had a great time writing it together. We based this story on -- we realized actually in retrospect, we had been writing this book for years.

WHITFIELD: Really?

L. BUSH: We based it on stories that we had told each other about our students, that I used to tell Barbara and Jenna when they were little about the students I taught. And now Jenna tells me about her students. So we really had a wonderful time working on it together.

WHITFIELD: So that's so nice when the two of you talk about these students. Did you notice that the students -- their mind-set really is the same, even though, you know, several years have passed between when you were in the classroom and Jenna being in the classroom teaching?

J. BUSH: Yes, I mean, definitely. You know, of course things have changed. A lot of technology has sort of taken over obviously. And you know, teachers face different issues. But at the same time kids remain the same.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: And that being -- go ahead, I was going to say and that being -- the premise of your book is about a young boy who doesn't like the idea of reading. And he finds that your imagination can run wild once you finally get engaged in books. And so I guess the message here is, you both found that students -- there may be a handful of students who just -- are not engaged in reading. Just can't get into it. And there are a lot of barriers as to why.

J. BUSH: Yes, well, I mean, of course. You can't generalize, but there's a lot of reasons why there are reluctant readers, learning disabilities. Or boys, you see this research and statistics and we've seen it in the classroom, boys and girls learn very differently.

And so, of course, boys need action. And that's been proven. Movement is important for some boys to learn. And the traditional way of teaching reading is a lot of sitting. So sometimes boys don't particularly like reading. They prefer the classes, math, where you use manipulatives and you move. In science where you participate in experiments. They prefer the action.

And so it's a challenge for teachers to make sure they are teaching to the student, to the individual, and teaching to the gender. So yes, of course. But like teachers all over the United States, Tyrone has a great teacher name Ms. Libro, who encourages him to read. And of course like anybody who practices reading knows that the more you read, the more you fall in love with books.

WHITFIELD: And it's fun and whimsical, too. I mean, the illustrations are just beautiful. And I love that Mrs. Tone deaf. You know, the music teacher. That's hilarious. So the two of you -- Mrs. Bush, maybe you can tell me. How did you guys actually work together?

Was it, you know, you'd write down a couple of notes or have an idea about a picture and then pass it on to Jenna, and then she would kind of finish or fill in the blanks, or the other way around. How did you do this?

L. BUSH: Well, we talked about it for a long time first. And children's book is only 32 pages. So we could lay out each page and look at it and talk about the narrative art. And then what actually happened was after a lot of talking and a lot of brainstorming about each one of these characters, and a lot of going back and forth about whether that main character should be a pig or a dinosaur, Barbara, Jenna's sister and I went out for a walk. And Jenna wrote the book and we came home and she finished it. WHITFIELD: Oh, wow.

J. BUSH: It's a little exaggerated. First of all, they were gone for a long time. They went on quite a walk. Second of all, you know, it was after the narrative art was completed, after the character sketches were done. And like my mom said, we really had been talking about -- I mean, more specifically this project for two years.

So before I left for Latin America, my mom was talking about this idea.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's incredible.

J. BUSH: So it really, you know -- yes, the amount of research that went into it before helped with the rapid writing process.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, the book is called -- "Read all about it," is the book. That's an incredible milestone. And then Jenna, of course, you've got another milestone that you're approaching. Big wedding plans coming up this summer. Congratulations on your engagement.

L. BUSH: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: But you know, I've got to ask. Why the wedding not at the White House? Most women would clamor for that opportunity?

J. BUSH: Well, yes, most people would.

WHITFIELD: But you're not most people.

J. BUSH: But I respect -- no, yes, I mean, I think it's important that -- you know, Henry and I are very excited about doing it somewhere where we feel at home. And of course, the White House is the magnificent building, historical building. And you know, I've experienced so many amazing things there. But it doesn't really feel like home and natural to me.

And I think most women would -- you know, maybe are more glamorous than I am. I like to be outside and with nature. And really what felt comfortable was Texas. But I appreciate everybody's encouragement.

WHITFIELD: Everyone's input because I know you've heard an earful. So the wedding date is May 10th, is that right?

J. BUSH: Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right. Congratulations. Mrs. Bush, Jenna Bush, thanks so much for your time. Congratulations on the book as well. And we wish you the best on your nuptials coming up in May.

L. BUSH: Thank you.

J. BUSH: Thanks so much. HARRIS: That's terrific. I want to show you more of the pictures coming in to CNN right now, of the damage. We're talking about the possibility of a tornado touching down there in Dawson County. This is the city of Crowley, Texas that you're looking.

And I guess if Rob were up with us right now, he would take a look at that and probably indicate that, yes, that looks like the kind of damage typical of a tornado. As you can see, that structure pretty much ripped apart. Vehicles damaged as well. As I speak his name, there he is, Rob Marciano standing by.

And Rob, is that the kind of damage that is indicative of a tornado or straight line winds.

MARCIANO: Well, just the fact that it's strewn about, you know, over a pretty wide expanse, yes. And this is the area that we got the storm chasing video in from that showed that funnel.

HARRIS: Yes.

MARCIANO: I don't think there's much of a question. The word is, the national weather service is out there now. They are going to survey it. They're going to judge how strong it was. But judging from the pictures of that tornado on the ground, which I have to assume is where this damage came from.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

MARCIANO: It wasn't a small one. You know, at least F1, 2, maybe a 3.

HARRIS: And at this point, we don't have any word of any injuries. I don't know if you've received different information in the extreme weather center. But at least from our vantage point, we haven't received any word of injuries. How about where you are?

MARCIANO: No. No words of injuries or fatalities. There's a couple of places, sources that we go to to find that, other than just the AP wire, we haven't seen any.

Obviously, the other piece of video that we were showing earlier, the nighttime video. HARRIS: That's right.

MARCIANO: Moving rescue, that's from multiple places. Nobody there looked to be seriously injured. So you know, hopefully this stands out to be just damage. And the more we look at this, probably an F-2, winds 120, 110, 120, depending on the structure of the homes. And that's how they judge it.

They go out there with these hand-held devices that have pictures of structures and how they would be damaged depending on the winds and that's how they asses what they think the winds would be based on how a building like this is built. And how the damage occurs.

WHITFIELD: And when do we think that this tornadic activity hit? MARCIANO: Around what time?

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MARCIANO: Yesterday afternoon and evening.

WHITFIELD: Afternoon.

MARCIANO: So I mean, it was -- some of it was daylight, some of it was nighttime. But it did come to -- luckily, it did end relatively quickly. We didn't have many tornado warnings close to late night. Definitely not after midnight so that's fortunate.

And that may very well be the reason that we don't have any reports of serious injury or fatalities. One, national weather service is on it. Local media likely on it. They are very good out of Dallas and Lubbock, and, two, daylight certainly helps when they see that it's coming and take off.

HARRIS: That's right.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Hopefully in the case of these homes because of the structure we're looking at it. If they had the impact late in the afternoon, hopefully they were at school or at work, they weren't in these homes. But pretty significant damage at these structures.

HARRIS: It is. Well, Rob, appreciate it. If you get any more information, something else pops up on the satellite radar for you, just give us a heads up.

And again, if you can help us at home with some I-reports of some of the damage that you're seeing, and we would greatly appreciate it. Just go to cnn.com. You can type I-report right there into your cell phone, and again, be safe.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Some good descriptions of what you've actually been through. And you send these images.

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, it is, indeed, a tough economy. Pick your own farm. How about that? Well, that picks up its popularity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year has been an extremely good year for us, because the number of people that I think have found fresh vegetables because they are looking for a cheaper source of food out there in the marketplace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Wow, cutting out the middleman, bringing home the fruit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: And new images right now out of Dawson County, Texas. This is West Texas. You saw some images just moments ago of that kind of tornadic activity that took place late yesterday and into the evening causing pretty widespread destruction of what we could witness earlier. It was mostly residential area.

These new images are coming in in the general vicinity of that stream of storms that seemed to wipe through the area. Now we can pull out here and see, wow, the devastation.

HARRIS: Boy, oh boy.

WHITFIELD: We have not heard anything specific about injuries yet. Mostly structural damage. But you can see, you know, the experts are going to be on the ground soon there to kind of get an idea of the path of what may be a tornado.

We're all suspecting it was because of the way this debris was strewn about. But we have not heard any real confirmation yet of whether, indeed, a tornado, twister touched the ground or how many. But this looks like a result, from our Rob Marciano and others of tornadic activity there in Texas. More information as we get it.

HARRIS: Maybe lawyer taking on the government. Prescott Prince is at Guantanamo Bay, meeting with his client, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. CNN's Kelli Arena sat down with Prince before he left.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a small time lawyer with a gargantuan case. Defense Attorney Prescott Prince is a navy reservist recently called to active duty and ordered to represent one of the most notorious accused terrorists in the world, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

CAPT. PRESCOTT PRINCE, NAVY LAWYER: I could have said no. I don't think I would have been doing honor to myself or honor to my calling.

ARENA: Mohammed is accused of planning the September 11th attacks. The government says he even confessed but also admits he was water boarded. Prince has a problem with that.

PRINCE: Even the greenest deputy sheriff or rookie police officer in Skunk Holler County (ph) knows that if you rough up a defendant, anything he says after that is not going to be admitted into court.

ARENA: But it could be admitted in this court, a military commission where civilian rules do not apply. The government is seeking the death penalty. Prince says he doesn't have the resources normally available in a capital case so private legal groups are stepping in to help by recruiting civilian lawyers to aid the defense.

PRINCE: We are going against the entire United States government.

ARENA: These are uncharted waters for this navy captain and he knows it.

Have you gone over in your head what you're going to say?

PRINCE: Only 100 times.

ARENA: He's never taken a death penalty case to trial and his client has been held in isolation for years.

PRINCE: I'll be the first person who can literally look him in the eyes and say, I am here to help you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Kelli Arena joins us now from Washington. Kelli, in hearing you outline the story of this reservist being called in to represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It sounds like a Grisham novel, it sounds like "A Few Good Men." I understand he's -- Captain Prince is in Guantanamo Bay right now. Have you heard from him?

ARENA: Well, you know, you're right. He was actually hoping to meet with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed yesterday but he e-mails me to say that what called procedural issues got in the way. And his plan is to try to meet with him again today.

Now, Tony, he still has no idea what to expect. He doesn't know if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knows he's there or even whether he'll accept him as his lawyer. But you know, he said he's prepared for just about anything.

HARRIS: Wow, our justice correspondent Kelli Arena for us this morning. Kelli, great to see you. Thank you.

ARENA: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: Well, what's up with the rice? The price for one. Now some warehouse stories are limiting the amounts you can actually buy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: So guess what? Families who are looking for a break from high food prices are driving right past the store and going straight to the farm. Here now is CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LYNN REMSING, OWNER, GNEISMER FARMS [corrected copy: GNISMER FARMS]: In a given day, everybody will come in and pick anywhere from one to two gallons.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everything Lynn Remsing grows gets gobbled up.

REMSING: We have seen a tremendous increase in the number of people who are picking their own fruits now.

LAVANDERA: Thousands of people are flocking to Remsing's farm in this Fort Worth, Texas suburb to pick their own fruits and vegetables. On this six-acre plot, sales have doubled in the last year.

REMSING: This year has been an extremely good year for us, because the number of people that I think have found fresh vegetables because they are looking for a cheaper source of food out there in the marketplace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's $4 for the onion.

LAVANDERA: Remsing says the organic fruits and vegetables he grows are consistently cheaper than the non-organic foods sold in nearby the supermarket. That's because he doesn't have transport and packaging cost. Here you pick strawberries right off the bush.

Do you think this is the wave of the future?

REMSING: I think it is. I think we're going to see this come. If you've ever been to or seen the European markets. They do a lot of greenhouses, they do a lot of local small farms.

LAVANDERA: Local farmers are reporting a boom in sales all over the country. For the last ten years the number of farmers markets has nearly doubled nationwide. And for the first time, the farm bill before Congress will allocate nearly $2 billion to help specialty crop growers expand where they sell their food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Expanding the availability of produce by creating commodities. Those are types of things that I think will help -- could help bring prices down. But it's a global problem, as you're aware.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Rationing rice here at home. It's a little dramatic, isn't it?

A little bit. All right, we'll reset the story on the global food crisis at the top of the hour.

But still to come in the NEWSROOM, savage spring from twisters to snow, expected the unexpected extreme weather. Look at these pictures in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Well, you're in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Fredericka Whitfield in for Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown.

Tornadoes roaring across the plains, smashing homes. Another round of extreme weather in the forecast today. WHITFIELD: Gas prices keep the pedal to the metal, hitting another record. We'll show you how to cut you commuting cost.

HARRIS: The U.S. accusing Thailand trippers of modern day slavery. A special investigations unit report, today, Thursday, April 24th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: Developing this hour. Spring weather, extreme and unexpected. A tornado rampaging across the flat plain of Texas. It formed from savage thunderstorms that pounded northern and western Texas.

This pictures just in from Crowley, Texas. They tell detail of damage left behind. Homes gone. Tress down. So far no word of injuries. This taking place just outside of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. There you can see how widespread. And you know, this is their only populated area.

HARRIS: Yes, it is.

WHITFIELD: You know, this is just not in a remote section of Texas.

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