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Dems Campaign in Indiana, the Next Battleground State; North Korea Nukes: Did North Korea Help Syria; HIV-AIDS Prevention Programs in Peru
Aired April 25, 2008 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And in an interview with CNN's Larry King last night, Pelosi actually went a step farther.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": If you had your power, would you want them to run together?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: No.
PELOSI: I don't think it's a good idea.
KING: Not a good idea.
PELOSI: No, I don't think so.
PELOSI: I think that, first of all, the candidate, whoever he or she may be, should choose his or her own vice-presidential candidate. I think that's appropriate. That's where you would see the comfort level not only how to run, but how to govern the country. And there's plenty of talent to go around to draw upon for a good, strong ticket. I'm not one of those who thinks that that's a good ticket.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Pelosi remains an uncommitted superdelegate.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Polls show that it could be another tight race in one of the next key battle grounds, Indiana. Senator Clinton comes in with the momentum, but it's close to home for Barack Obama and another test to see if he can bring in more white working class voters.
Our Suzanne Malveaux is live for us in Jeffersonville, Indiana this morning. Suzanne, while there is polling on Indiana, it's not extensive. Difficult to know exactly where this race is except to say it looks awfully close.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, John. It does look very close at this point. Who knows what's going to happen really in the next week or so. There are 72 delegates that are up for grabs which really means that the Hoosiers are going to play a big role here.
This could be make or break for Hillary Clinton. It could give Barack Obama the momentum he needs to "seal the deal." Both of these candidates have dozens of offices in this state. They're crisscrossing and they will both be back here campaigning hard later today.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Now, it's about helping the Hoosiers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right here, over 200 Hoosiers built parks that guided our military smart bombs to their targets. They were good jobs. But now, they're gone to China.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the plant moves to China and you've been working there for 20, 30 years and suddenly you have the rug pulled out from under you --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: An ad blitz in a state long ignored by Democrats seeking the presidential nomination. Now, ground zero. Indiana, heavily Republican, once had a thriving industrial base. Now, many here have lost their jobs and homes and fear losing more.
The number of Hoosiers registered to vote has swelled to one million, 150,000 new voters just this year.
JOHN MELLENCAMP, SINGER: I was born in a small town, and I live in a small town.
MALVEAUX: Rocker John Mellencamp was raised in a small town in Indiana. He opened Obama's campaign here and will perform for Clinton too. Like Pennsylvania, voters from small towns will play a critical role.
MATT TULLY, INDIANAPOLIS STAR: We have 92 counties and each one has at least one or more kind of dusty old small towns that have been through some tough times.
MALVEAUX: Clinton's success in winning over white blue-collar voters as she did in Pennsylvania could give her the edge, but not necessarily a victory.
TULLY: You can't underestimate the role of small town voters in the rural areas, but we have cities such as Gary and Indianapolis and Fort Wayne that really produce a lot of the Democratic vote in the primary.
LINDA GUGIN, PROFESSOR, INDIANA UNIVERSITY SOUTHEAST: The upper part of the state is more urban, and that's -- and I think that's where Barack Obama is doing well. MALVEAUX: In northwest Indiana, 20 percent of the state's voters live in the Chicago media market of neighboring Illinois, where Obama is senator.
TULLY: They watch Chicago news. They get Chicago radio. They feel like they're more a part of Chicago or Illinois.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are a little more familiar with me here in Indiana.
MALVEAUX: And John, both of these candidates are hoping that endorsements will help out. The big prize for Hillary Clinton that is Senator Evan Bayh, who used to be the governor of this state. He is co-chair of her campaign. Very popular figure here.
For Barack Obama it's the former Congressman Lee Hamilton. You may remember him, he was the co-chair of the 9/11 Commission -- John.
ROBERTS: And it's also John Mellencamp, right, from Bloomington? That might help.
MALVEAUX: Yes. Hey, you know -- but, you know, he's not taking sides. That's the interesting thing. That he actually appeared for Barack Obama. He's going to be performing for Hillary Clinton, too. The one thing he does say is that he wants the Democrats to win, not the Republicans, but he's not endorsing either one at this point.
ROBERTS: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning. Suzanne, thanks.
John McCain is going to be in Little Rock, Arkansas, today, the final stop of what he calls his listening tour. He's going to appear with Mike Huckabee for the first time since the former Arkansas governor dropped out of the race.
In New Orleans yesterday, McCain toured the devastated Lower Ninth Ward. He said the response to Hurricane Katrina was a "perfect storm of mismanagement" by federal, state and local governments. And he promised that it would not happen again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Somebody said to me the other day, said, well, New Orleans is off the front page so Americans have forgotten. I want to tell you America is a great nation and America cares, and America has compassion for those who have suffered disasters. America will never forget.
I will never forget, and never again will there be a mismanaged natural disaster, manmade or natural again that will occur in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: McCain had harsh words for the Bush administration's handling of Katrina calling it "disgraceful" -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: New this morning, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog criticizing the United States for withholding evidence of North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Mohamed ElBaradei condemning the delay in information saying that his International Atomic Energy Agency should have been briefed sooner.
Yesterday, the White House offered up proof of the nuke facility in Syria showing pictures of the reactor that U.S. officials say Pyongyang helped build and was not intended for peaceful purposes. Syria is outright rejecting the charges. As a matter of fact, its ambassador to the U.S. told CNN's Wolf Blitzer it's just a ridiculous story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IMAD MOUSTAPHA, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: If they will dare to present this evidence to the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Commission, it will be a mockery for the U.S. delegation because it's just photographs of a vacant building. This will be a major embarrassment to the U.S. administration for the second time. But prior to that, they lied about the Iraqi WMDs and they think they can do it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Israeli jets destroyed that facility reportedly within weeks of its going operational, and the working reactor would have made Syria the world's first nuclear-capable Arab nation.
There are reports out of the Middle East this morning that Hamas is proposing a cease-fire with Israel. Egypt's news agency says that Hamas has offered Israel a six-month truce that agrees to simultaneously lift its blockade of Gaza. That report coming after a full day of closed door meetings between an Egyptian mediator and a key Hamas official. Israel says it refuses to negotiate with terrorists.
Israeli's ambassador to the United Nations leveling tough criticism at former President Jimmy Carter for meeting with leaders of Hamas. He says it's a shame to see Carter, who has done "good things" turn into what he believes to be a bigot. The ambassador went on to say that the meetings in Syria were a "sad episode in American history." Carter has defended that trip insisting the militant group should be a part of the Middle East peace process.
ROBERTS: This just in this morning. The United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon saying that the rising price of food has developed into a global crisis. He is also urging the world body to take immediate action.
Over the last few days, we've been talking about the high price of food globally and what part the production of using food sources to develop biofuels might play into it. Yesterday, we had Representative Jim McGovern from Massachusetts on to say it's time to rethink America's biofuels policy. Today, we're going to hear from the other side. The chairman of the Corn Growers Association of America will be joining us in our next hour of AMERICAN MORNING to talk about his perspective on all of this.
The dealer who sold one of the guns used in the Virginia Tech shootings was at the school yesterday, pushing for the right to carry concealed weapons on campus. Eric Thompson runs an Internet store. A year ago last week, shooter Seung Hui-Cho used one of his guns to kill 32 people, including himself.
Thompson spoke to about 60 students as part of a week-long demonstration supporting the idea of students being allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus. Thompson shared his account of the backlash against him after the killings.
BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC THOMPSON, INTERNET GUN DEALER: To read somebody that says that I hope that your children die in the same fashion, or I hope somebody breaks in your house and, you know, shoots every one of your kids in the head, that's something that I had to read.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: A spokesman for the school called the visit "terribly offensive." Students are now wearing empty holsters to class to protest the law against concealed weapons.
PHILLIPS: Well, the FDA is taking a closer look at LASIK, the popular laser eye surgery. The move comes after patients complained about double vision, blurry vision, and other complications. The FDA says that it wants to educate patients about the risks of LASIK and also find out just how widespread the problems are. More than 7.5 million Americans have actually had that LASIK surgery.
ROBERTS: Gasoline prices hitting another record high overnight and the spike in the price, double digits in one state this morning. Ahead, Ali Velshi on why you're paying more to fill up on a daily basis.
And our Dr. Sanjay Gupta on assignment in Peru tells us about progress being made in the prevention of HIV-AIDS. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Ten minutes after the hour. Ali here now with business. The price of gas keeps going up. The price of food keeps going up. People are wondering what are they going to do.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And just around the corner here in New Jersey, there were people lining up before dawn to get gas. That's the cheapest gas in the country. Take a look at these pictures.
These are people before 5:00 a.m. because gas in New Jersey, which was the cheapest at $3.17 a gallon for an average, bumped up overnight by 17 cents, up to $3.39 a gallon. Now, the peculiarity about New Jersey, the toll roads on New Jersey have -- can only raise their rates about once a week, and they can only raise it to within 3 cents above the state average. So they went to $3.39. Big difference.
But New Jersey, by the way, continues to have the cheapest gas in the neighborhood compared to the areas around it. So New Jersey is $3.39 now is an average and it's full-serve. New York, $3.71. Pennsylvania, $3.57 and Delaware $3.50. So if you're in parts -- near parts of New York, like if you're in Manhattan and you're going that way, you drive across and you get your cheaper gas in New York.
Obviously, many parts of Pennsylvania are just across the Delaware River from New Jersey, so you can go there. National average for gas is still $3-- well, not still. What happened this morning -- $3.58. That is an increase of 2 cents since yesterday when we checked. You know, there are only two places with self-serve only -- full-serve only gas in the country.
ROBERTS: New Jersey and --
VELSHI: And --
PHILLIPS: That's right.
VELSHI: You have experienced that.
PHILLIPS: That's right. I remember because we have family in Oregon, we were taking a drive up the coast going to Yachats (ph), Oregon, and we're pulling up to the gas station. I said to my mom, now, you're in the wrong lane. He's coming out to help you. It's going to be 25 cents more. And she said, oh, no, it's free. And they're also cute. They're like 75-year-old men, they come out, Howdy, Mam. You know --
ROBERTS: Like the old Texaco ads.
VELSHI: That's right.
PHILLIPS: Exactly. That's exactly --
ROBERTS: Poor guys going out in hats.
VELSHI: Yes, not anymore. By the way, New Jersey still the cheapest gas in the country. Wyoming now 1 cent higher, second cheapest.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Ali. Well, severe storm system that spawned close to a dozen tornadoes, believe it or not, is still on the move. Right now, Rob Marciano tracking extreme weather for us -- Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. Yes. That and hail, not only the size of baseballs, but the size of a grapefruit. Can you imagine what kind of damage that did last night in Kansas? All of that stuff is now moving off to the east. And on top of all the action, there's flash flood warnings that are posted. Complete weather coming up when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back. Stay here.
MARCIANO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Rob Marciano. Big time problems overnight in places like Kansas where hail the size of grapefruits were pounding a couple of counties in that state. We had reports of nine tornadoes, mostly in Kansas last night and 80- mile-an-hour winds where there weren't tornadoes.
All right. Here is where the action is this morning. Pretty decent storm system that's heading off to the east here, and behind it some cold air. You better believe it. Even some snow falling in parts of Nebraska. That's going to cause some problems as you move across the northern tier.
The yellow watch box there -- the severe thunderstorm watch that's in effect until 11:00 this morning. We'll look for gusty winds, hail, certainly, and some heavy rain. And that may very well be the biggest problem, at least in the near future, especially if you live in Iowa as this batch of storms continues to move off to the east towards Cedar Rapids, containing a little bit of hail, definitely some gusty winds.
Some of the storms have been severe, but mostly it's going to drop some heavy rain over areas that, well, don't need the rainfall anymore, that's for sure. St. Joseph just to the north of Kansas City, batch of showers and thunderstorms there.
Here is where the flash flood watches and warnings are up across -- right across the upper Mississippi which is still swollen from recent rains and this ground is saturated. So flash flood warnings just posted in the last 20 minutes for eastern parts of Iowa. We're probably going to see some problems there.
All right. This white we mentioned, this is all spinning up towards the north and east, you know, drops -- a significant amount of snow actually. Winter storm warnings are posted, believe it or not, for parts of northern Minnesota. The whole thing is going to move off to the east.
We'll see strong storms today pushing toward the Mississippi. Large hail and damaging winds will be the number one issue. There could be a few isolated tornadoes, but all in all after today and through tomorrow, the system will begin to weaken. John, Kyra, back up to you.
ROBERTS: Thank you, Rob.
PHILLIPS: All right. We're watching the "Most News in the Morning." And the U.S. says that Syria was on the brink of a nuclear milestone. Thanks to the help of North Korea. But this morning, the U.S. is under fire from the U.N. nuclear watchdog. We're going to tell you why.
ROBERTS: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on assignment in Peru today, seeing firsthand the treatment and the hope for the youngest patients with HIV and AIDS. That's next on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Twenty minutes after the hour. And CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on assignment in Peru, looking at Latin America's most vulnerable patients, children with HIV and AIDS who often go undiagnosed. Sanjay filed this report a short time ago.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I am here in Lima, Peru, reporting on HIV-AIDS. Now, the truth is when you think of HIV-AIDS, Peru may not be the first country that comes to mind, and the prevalence rate here is quite low. But it's a fine example of how prevention programs might actually work, specifically breaking the cycle between mother to child.
Now, let me tell you a story. It's a pretty remarkable story. A 20-year-old woman that I met yesterday, Magdalena is her name. She has two children. When she had the first child, she realized that she was HIV positive and that she had transmitted the virus to him. She didn't know a lot about HIV before the birth of that first child.
Between the births of the first and second child, she was counseled. And when she came back in the hospital, three things happened. She received a cesarean section because natural deliver actually increases transmission. She was counseled not to breast feed and given formula, again, to decrease transmission. And, finally, given anti-retroviral medications so that her and her child could be treated, her first child.
Her second child was HIV negative. A perfect example again of breaking the cycle. There are some sad stories, as you might imagine, as well. This 7-month-old boy that you're looking at here, he was abandoned. His mother was tested, as was required, and when she came back positive, she simply abandoned the child. He is 7 months old and until he is 18 months, no state orphanage will take him so he is stuck for the time being.
Still, Peru is an example of how things might work, how prevention might work, how you can break that cycle. We're going to have much more to come on this. Stay tuned. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Lima, Peru.
(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: Strong words for Bill Clinton from South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn. Clyburn is the third ranking Democrat in the House and an undeclared superdelegate. He told "The New York Times" last night that President Clinton's behavior on the campaign trail is bizarre and is threatening his relationship with the black community.
Bill Clinton told a radio station in Pennsylvania that the Obama campaign "played the race card on him." And that brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question. Should Bill Clinton "just chill" and stay out of his wife's race for president?
Right now, 65 percent of you say yes, 35 percent say no. Just head over to CNN.com/am to vote. We'll continue to check the results throughout the morning.
And, of course, you can also send us an e-mail. Let us know what you think about Bill Clinton's involvement in the campaign. Do you think he needs to chill? Go to CNN.com/am.
ROBERTS: Twenty-two minutes after the hour, and you're watching the "Most News in the Morning." Who is sharing nuclear secrets with Syria? The White House lays out the evidence of North Korea's role.
Our Christiane Amanpour has been inside North Korea, has talked with negotiators. She'll join us next with some perspective on all of this.
And a new black eye for the FAA. Reports that the agency put passengers in the danger zone for years. We'll have that story and today's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING returns.
ROBERTS: This morning the International Atomic Energy Agency wants to know why it wasn't briefed sooner on what the White House calls a potentially dangerous nuclear reactor in Syria. Intelligence officials yesterday offered what they say is proof that the plant was being built with the help of North Korea before it was destroyed by Israeli bombers last September. Syria is rejecting the accusation.
CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour visited a nuclear plant in North Korea, the one that it said that the Syrian plant was modeled on. She is the only reporter to talk with negotiators from both the U.S. and North Korea. She joins us this morning. Christiane, what do we know about what was going on in Syria?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Israel did strike that building in Syria back in September, in September 6th. We broke the fact and confirmed it on September 11th of '07. Israel had really put down draconian military censorship on its own press. The U.S. wasn't talking, but very quickly we found out both the United States and Israel thought that that was a nascent nuclear plant. Now, the question has been, why didn't they brief the international community and, indeed, the IAEA? And the other question that's being asked right now is since everybody has known about this, the U.S. and Israel have shared obviously their intelligence. The U.S., Israel, and the Europeans have been able to share intelligence. This is a seven-month old issue and why is it being broadcast now?
ROBERTS: Right. The United States claims that this was, as you said, a nascent nuclear plant modeled on the Yongbyon facility, which you visited when you were in Pyongyang in North Korea a little while ago. What about the veracity of the U.S. claims? They got it so wrong when it came to what was going on in Iraq.
We also found out that they were wrong about what was going on in Iran. They say that they've now clarified that. So are we to be certain that what they say about this place is true?
AMANPOUR: Well, that's a very good question, and, in fact, those who are concerned about nuclear proliferation are concerned about the track record of the administration when it comes to credibility on these issues of weapons of mass destruction. However, having said that, there are a good number of people who do believe that that was a nascent nuclear facility, perhaps wasn't quite ready to come online. And according to others who I have spoken to, did not have all the final and full elements that would actually link it as a nuclear facility.
But nonetheless, most people who I've spoken to do believe it was a nuclear facility. The real question right now, John, is how does it affect the very serious negotiations that are going on between the United States and North Korea to de-arm, disarm North Korea's nuclear plant?
And I was in North Korea in February. We did get an exclusive look along with another news agency at Yongbyon. That plant is disabled. There are American experts there monitoring and supervising that. I also spoke, as you can see there, with North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator just after I had been at the plant, and he assured us that those diplomatic negotiations are going ahead to try to disarm North Korea.
ROBERTS: Right. But again, at the same time, that this idea that they were helping Syria build this plant out there in the Syrian desert gives more cause for alarm and this issue of proliferation. That while North Korea may be entering negotiations into disabling and dismantling their facilities, at the same time they appear to still be trying to help out other countries develop nuclear power.
AMANPOUR: Well, this is one of the issues that the United States is looking into during its negotiations right now. They want to know not just about all the plutonium that the North Koreans have been able to make, and as you know, weaponize. They also want to know about what proliferation activities they may have had.
I think really to look out right now, we need to watch for the next few days, as to how North Korea is going to react to this presentation, if you like, about these photos by members of the U.S. intelligence and others yesterday. Is North Korea going to use that briefing to scuttle back these negotiations and get back under its shell? Or is it going to be able to sit tight and proceed with the nuclear negotiations with the United States as they say and as they say have been going well?
Analysts have said that the kindest reason to suggest that hard liners in the U.S. administration decided to release this information just now is to strengthen the U.S. negotiations bargaining hand as it continues. But there are more fearing that, in fact, a sharply different reason is underfoot, and that is to scuttle these negotiations because, as you know, there is an element within the administration who believes that North Korea should not be talked to and that should be squeezed and basically, you know, regime change.
ROBERTS: We'll keep watching and see how it goes. Christiane, thanks very much. You can hear more about this, by the way, because Christiane's got a "SPECIAL INVESTIGATION UNIT" documentary on it all. "Amanpour Reports, Notes From North Korea" premiering Saturday, May the 10th, 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
Christiane, great to see you. Thanks.
PHILLIPS: Democratic hopefuls are back on the road today. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will both be in Indiana. Clinton visits Indiana University before heading to Obama's home turf, East Chicago.
Meanwhile, a new poll shows the campaign is wearing on many voters. The Pew Research Center found that half of Democrats think the fight has become too negative, and 35 percent of all-Americans say it's too boring.
John McCain will be in Little Rock, Arkansas, today, the final stop on what he called his listening tour. In New Orleans yesterday, McCain blasted the response to Hurricane Katrina by all levels of government calling it a perfect storm of management. McCain also had to answer the accepting of endorsement of televangelist John Hagee who has repeatedly said that Katrina was God's punishment for sinful behavior in New Orleans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just say that when someone endorses me, that does not mean that I embrace their views. That means that they are supporting me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: McCain called Reverend Hagee's comments nonsense, but didn't reject his endorsement.
ROBERTS: Riot police are on stand by in Japan this morning as the Olympic torch arrives in Nagano and met pro-Tibet protesters. In the meantime, The government will meet with the Dalai Lama's representative in the next few days. One official says it came after several requests from the Dalai Lama's side. China has been facing mounting pressure to resume talks with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader. In an effort to end, continuing violent protests worldwide.
More deadly weapons from Iran have been funneled into Iraq. The "Wall Street Journal" reporting that the U.S. military officials found new caches of Iranian made mortars, rockets and explosives all with date stamps indicating that they were manufactured in the past two months. Iran assured the Iraqi government last fall that it would take steps to curb shipments of weapons into Iraq. U.S. officials plan to make the weapons public next week.
And it may be the most important factor in deciding when our troops come home, and now we're finding out the data on trained Iraqi soldiers is severely unreliable. We may not even know how many of them are still alive. A government audit found that the Iraqi government is keeping thousands of dead, injured, or missing officers on the payroll in order to pay their families. The special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction also said that security forces still rely heavily on coalition support.
PHILLIPS: Alina Cho joining us now with other stories this morning. Good morning.
ALINA CHO, CORRESPONDENT: Good Friday to you, guys. The weekend is upon us. Good morning, everybody. New this morning for the second time in two months, disturbing allegations of a cover-up by the FAA. This time happening in Dallas. An internal FAA investigation has confirmed between 2005 and 2007 air traffic officials at Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport covered up more than 62 mistakes by blaming pilots. The safety errors allowed planes to fly too close together. Now, we should mention that most were not serious, but there were a handful that were considered significant safety risks.
Back in March, you'll recall the FAA admitted inspectors allowed planes operated by Southwest Airlines to fly without proper inspections.
And an update on another disturbing airline story we've been following for you. CNN affiliate KGMB is now reporting that the two pilots for Hawaii's Go Airlines who overshot an airport by 15 miles back in February did, in fact, fall asleep. Sources say the pilots confessed they were worn out and dozed off. They also say the captain admitted he'd fallen asleep in-flight before. Go's parent company Mesa fired the two pilots last week.
Another way the slowing economy is hitting Americans, millions are reportedly behind on paying their gas and electric bills, and in some states a record number of people could have their power shut off in the next two months. Utility officials around the country say the rising cost of heating oil and natural gas are to blame.
Well, those tax rebate checks that were supposed to start going out on May 5th will start being distributed on Monday, about a week earlier than expected. Hey, when does that happen? Nearly 8 million people could be getting their money through direct deposit by the end of the week. In all, the government will hand out more than $110 billion to 130 million taxpayers by July. The rebate checks are the centerpiece of an economic stimulus package.
And that Red Sox jersey that was buried in the new Yankee Stadium and seen as a curse may end up being a blessing. We told but this a couple days ago. The jersey was on eBay. It sold for 175,100 and the money will go to the Jimmy fund, the Red Sox official charity to help fight cancer. The man there is the winning bidder. He is Kevin Meehan a Massachusetts car dealer. Meehan said he wanted to give to the fund for personal reasons. His father died of cancer and his stepfather also has the disease. The Yankees, you'll recall jackhammered the concrete and dug up that jersey after they found it was buried there by a Red Sox fan on the construction crew. Of course, John thinks there's another one maybe. That one was a decoy.
ROBERTS: I think that was a decoy. That's the head fake.
ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A bright, shiny object.
PHILLIPS: What do we know about Ortiz?
CHO: David Ortiz?
VELSHI: Is he buried at Yankee Stadium?
PHILLIPS: That's what I was wondering. Any bones there --
VELSHI: He seemed fine the last I checked.
PHILLIPS: I didn't mean to silence the crew.
CHO: Obviously not a lot of baseball fans here anyway. But a rare Kumbaya moment between the Yankees and the Red Sox, coming together for charity. So, anyway, all for a good cause.
ROBERTS: It's a great cause.
PHILLIPS: Well, we're trying to figure out the cause of this one. We've all seen the pictures, right? The three guys wearing those Abercrombie & Fitch. Gosh, I can see the commercials. I just can't see the words. As Barack Obama, you know, delivered his speech the night of the Pennsylvania primary, so how did they get there? Why are they wearing those shirts? We actually found them and we're going to talk to them about their new found fame.
ROBERTS: How to be inconspicuous.
PHILLIPS: Exactly. How to not stand out in a crowd. That's at 7:50 Eastern right here on AMERICAN MORNING. What do you think? Was it an advertising ploy?
VELSHI: I think that's a demographic...
PHILLIPS: What's everybody's vibe here? Do you think...
VELSHI: I mean I walk down the street anywhere you see these people. I think that the best free advertising gig that exists.
CHO: Have you ever been inside that Abercrombie & Fitch store on Fifth Avenue?
VELSHI: It's too dark, can't see anything in there.
PHILLIPS: The music is really loud.
CHO: The cologne, you can smell it on the sidewalk.
VELSHI: Good looking skinny dudes. I don't shop there.
ROBERTS: How about those of us who don't walk down Fifth Avenue but have to drive to work?
VELSHI: I got an idea for you. Can you actually with all of these prices, can you actually squeeze gasoline out of a lump of coal? You can and I'll tell you more about it when AMERICAN MORNING continues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I checked the circulars before I come. I'll buy in bulk whenever I possibly can. We also belong to wholesale clubs. I use coupons whenever possible. I'll shop the sales and I also tend to shop the store brands.
VELSHI: Something I heard the other day - I'm Ali Velshi by the way and welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Those circulars sometimes get you to buy things that aren't on sale. They give you the impression that they're on sale. So, make sure that when you are looking at those circulars that it's on sale. Gasoline, by the way, is not on sale. And we look for alternatives for all sorts of things for ways to make gasoline. We know ethanol has been one of those slightly problematic ones because it's using up corn that we otherwise eat. What about making gasoline from coal? That's something we're looking at. There's a company in South Africa that started making gasoline out of coal years ago when there were embargoes against South Africa. And it actually continued to work. Sasol is the name of the company. It's the largest gas producer in South Africa. It makes gas from coal and in fact, the majority of gas that you buy in South Africa is made from coal. Well, what about doing it here in the United States? I spoke with Pat Davies, who is the CEO of Sasol about can this be done in the U.S.?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT DAVIES, CEO, SASOL: We're working actively on an opportunity in the United States because you have all the oil you need. It's just stored in the form of coal and now technology converts it into the oil that you need. In fact, you have more coal here in oil equivalent then all of the Middle East in proven reserves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That's a fact. There's a lot of coal in the United States. More than 50 percent of our electricity is generated at plants that use coal. There are issues with coal. It's not the cleanest thing in the world. You see the signs for clean coal, 99 percent clean. I'm not 99 percent clean when I get out of the shower. We're going to be showing you --
I just look clean. We're going to have the whole interview with Pat Davies and some interesting things about making gasoline out of coal on "Your Money" this weekend, Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
ROBERTS: Three letters for you, T-M-I.
VELSHI: About not being 99 percent clean when I get out of the shower.
ROBERTS: But as a by product of squeezing the coal, do you also get diamonds?
VELSHI: If you squeeze really hard.
ROBERTS: If you squeeze really hard. Ali, thanks.
VELSHI: That's another segment.
ROBERTS: 20 minutes to the top of the hour. Softball-size hail coming down in major league fastball speed. Rob Marciano, our big baseball fan, watching the extreme weather right now. Hey, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Hey, guys. We did have big- time hail last night. We had some tornadoes drop down. There was some damage. So far no reports of injuries, but all that severe weather is on the move east, and we'll pinpoint it down for you when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.
MARCIANO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Rob Marciano. This storm has had a history of producing not only severe weather but snows across much of the Rocky Mountains. Also got 15 inches out of this thing, and we've got some white heading into the plains. So, we there are two sides of this story, one the warm side and one the cold side. The warm side we'll tackle first. That brought tornadoes last night, about 80-mile-an-hour winds to parts of Kansas and also brought grapefruit-sized hail. So, definitely, a tremendous amount of lift and turbulence with these storms as they roll off to the east. Severe thunderstorm watch box just issued by the Storm Prediction Center in effect until 11:00 local time.
And we look for gusty winds, hail and everything we saw last night pour into this part of Iowa and to the south. Cedar Rapids, you're about to get clipped with some heavy weather here, just moving off to the east through Iowa city. Flood warnings are posted for a good chunk of these storms that are rolling over very, very saturated ground. So, even if there isn't damaging wind or hail with this, some damage could certainly be done with just the amount of rainfall that is expected to go over areas that have seen flooding of late. So, flash flood watches have been posted up for these areas. Mentioned the snow, 1 to 1.5 inch snow rate per hour from Nebraska up through parts of South Dakota and just issued as well, winter storm warnings for parts of upper Minnesota. 8 to 14 inches of snow. And we are almost in May. Kyra, back up to you.
PHILLIPS: I know, it makes no sense, does it? All right, Rob. See you in a little bit.
MARCIANO: All right.
PHILLIPS: All kinds of news from the campaign trail just ahead. Hillary Clinton lashes out at John McCain. Bill Clinton takes it on the chin. Barack Obama's pastor is finally speaking out. I'm just tired talking about it. Best political team on TV at the ready. Boxing gloves and all.
And the guys behind Barack Obama all wearing shirts from the same store. What's the real story? They're talking with us first. We're going to find out live, right here on AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: These are pictures that shocked the world back in 2003. Images of prisoners tortured by American soldiers inside the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. But were they a glimpse of a larger pattern of abuse there or the actions of a few bad seeds? That's exactly the question that Academy Award winning director Errol Morris set out to answer in the documentary "Standard Operating Procedure," which opens today. Great to have you here.
ERROL MORRIS, DIRECTOR, "STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE": Thank you for having me.
PHILLIPS: I was -- as I was watching the film, I realized this is really the first time we've heard from Lynndie England, who was in the forefront of all those infamous pictures, and Sabrina Harmon who took the photos. Anything that you learned about them that made you look at them differently?
MORRIS: Well, of course, these people have been portrayed in the press as the ultimate villains and guess what, they turn out to be people just like you and me, different kinds of people. They're not all the same, and I found them all interesting and I found their stories moving.
PHILLIPS: Well, and for the first time we really got the stories behind the pictures. For example, Lynndie England, and the infamous picture of the -- that we're looking at right now of her with the leash. What did you learn behind the scenes about this?
MORRIS: The biggest surprises was finding out that the story behind a photograph was very different from what I imagined going in. Nothing that they were doing was illegal. The use of the leash, which was a tie-down strap, had been authorized by the medical authorities in the prison. PHILLIPS: This one surprised me. The infamous one of the detainee on the box and the wires that were put around his fingers. This was someone that ended up innocent, correct? And then --
MORRIS: Many of these people were found out to be innocent.
PHILLIPS: But this one in particular, he actually became a friend to the MPs, right?
PHILLIPS: Well, these MPs that you interviewed we're incredibly candid. Javal Davis stands out to me, one of the MPs. Let's take a listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAVAL DAVIS, MP: Why did you guys have on women's panties? It was like, it was to break them. Oh, what is that? Hey, that's military intelligence, you know, just stay out of their way. From then on, it's like something is not right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORRIS: The day he walks onto that tier at that prison, he sees people with panties on their heads, stripped naked, stress position, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, the whole nine yards. He didn't create any of this. It was there.
PHILLIPS: How did it get out of control? Did this come down to Rumsfeld not being tuned into what was going on or even caring what was going on? Was it the general in charge of prison? What was it?
MORRIS: A combination of things. The two major things are policies that allow for all of these things to happen, and the second thing is sending an under equipped, undermanned, under trained army into Iraq. It's writing a prescription essentially for disaster.
PHILLIPS: The film is "Standard Operating Procedure" opens today. Errol Morris, thank you so much for your time.
MORRIS: Thank you for having me here.
ROBERTS: It's coming up to nine minutes now to the top of the hour. Strong words for Bill Clinton from South Carolina, Congressman James Clyburn yet again. Clyburn is the third ranking Democrat in the House and an undeclared superdelegate. He told "The New York Times" last night President Clinton's behavior on the campaign trail is "bizarre and is threatening his relationship with the black community." Bill Clinton told a radio station in Pennsylvania that the Obama campaign "played the race card" on him. That brings us to this morning's "quick vote" question. Should Bill Clinton as Congressman Clyburn advises, just chill and further to that stay out of the race for president? Right now 62 percent of you say yes, he should. 38 percent say no. Head to cnn.com/am and vote for us. We'll tally your votes throughout the morning. We've also been getting lots of e-mails this morning. Here's a couple of them. Rick from Erie, Pennsylvania, writes, "yes, I think Bill Clinton should chill. If Hillary can't control her husband, how does she intend to run the country or will he be running the country?"
PHILLIPS: You can never control your husband. Come on now. This from Marion in Gold Canyon, Arizona, "I cannot believe how words can be turned around. Bill Clinton would not use the race situation in a speech. If anything, the Obama camp is trying to get Bill Clinton to stop stumping for his wife."
ROBERTS: And George from Alexandria, Virginia thinks "Bill Clinton is obviously addicted to the limelight of political campaigns. However his political Tourette's Syndrome is costing his wife much of the popular vote from people like myself who worry about his loose canon influence on her administration."
ROBERTS: Reverend Wright's words.
REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, OBAMA'S PASTOR: I felt it was unfair, unjust. I felt it was untrue.
ROBERTS: How he defends his comments about America. Whether it will help or hurt Barack Obama.
ROBERTS: And zombie worship.
MICHAEL JACKSON: It's close to midnight, I see evil lurking in the dark.
ROBERTS: "Thriller" turns 25, and thousands join the party. Lola has got the moves and the scoop. Why "Thriller" is still the rage.
JACKSON: Because this is thriller, thriller night. And no one is going to save us from the beast
ROBERTS: Five minutes to the top of the hour now. You have seen the pictures. You sure couldn't miss them. Barack Obama on the night of the Pennsylvania primary, three young men right behind him all bearing Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts. How did they get there and why were they wearing shirts from the same store?
PHILLIPS: Joining us now in their first TV interview, the Abercrombie guys, brothers Brandon and Brian Ferguson and in the middle of that Ferguson sandwich, they're buddy Cole Barker. And they join us now live from Louisville, Kentucky. Guys, good morning. All right. Whoever wants to answer the first question, why were you guys even there?
BRANDON FERGUSON, "ABERCROMBIE GUY": We were trying to decide whether -- which candidate we wanted to vote for at all, either whether it be Hillary or Obama.
ROBERTS: So, you know, I'm watching this thing on Tuesday night, and all I can focus on is not Barack Obama, but you three guys in the background. Obviously I wasn't the only one who was thinking about that but listen to how Stephen Colbert put it on the "Colbert Report."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Everybody was asking who would win? Would it be decisive? Well, when all was said and done, there was a clear winner, Abercrombie & Fitch!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Brian, did you guys ever think for a second when you went to this event that you were going to become the center of gravity of political discourse after that event?
BRIAN FERGUSON, "ABERCROMBIE GUY": We did just because we got picked to go up on stage. Like I didn't think it would be this long, a leek long of like all over the Internet and all over TV. But at first I thought it would just come and go and that would be it.
PHILLIPS: But now, for full disclosure, Cole, you work at Abercrombie & Fitch, right?
COLE BARKER, "ABERCROMBIE GUY": Correct.
PHILLIPS: OK and now Tom Lennox, who works for the company, said it's not who we are. We don't seek that kind of attention when -- but he actually said he wished he would have thought of this because it's a great advertisement ploy. Now, be honest with me, Cole, you work there. Was this planned? Did you have it in the back of your mind, this might be good, I might get a raise?
BARKER: There was no planning in this at all.
PHILLIPS: They probably weren't upset with you though, right?
BARKER: I haven't talked to the company about it, so I don't know anything about that.
PHILLIPS: You haven't been bumped up to senior management?
BARKER: Definitely not.
ROBERTS: You know, Brandon, so Tuesday night I'm listening to this again, I'm focusing on you guys not the candidate, in the middle of all it you pull out your cell phone and you're taking a call in the middle of the whole thing. Who were you talking to?
BRANDON FERGUSON: I was talking to one of my friends that I work with.
ROBERTS: Tell you what, this is so cool I'm at an Obama rally and I'm right in the back.
BRANDON FERGUSON: I think it was instinct to answer my phone. We're in a world nowadays that we just answer our phone on instinct.
BARKER: And that was another thing, people thought we weren't interested in the speech. We actually couldn't hear the speech.
BRANDON FERGUSON: At all.
BARKER: Any of it.
BRANDON FERGUSON: We couldn't hear any of it.
BARKER: We looked like we were distracted, but we were because we couldn't even hear the speech.
PHILLIPS: All right. Well, and you know, you probably read the blogs and of course we all monitor the blogs.
PHILLIPS: OK. So, you've seen, you know folks saying, they were sipping on the bottle. They might have been - something at the back. Now, Brian, were you guys partying it up here at this rally?
BRIAN FERGUSON: No. My brother called me an hour before it happened, and I decided to drive from Evansville and go with him because he wanted somebody to go with him and Cole wanted to go because he loves Obama, so we went.
ROBERTS: All right.
BRIAN FERGUSON: We stood in line for 3 1/2 hours and went and had a good time.
ROBERTS: So Cole loves Obama, Brandon, you were the guy who said let's go to this event. You consider yourself to be an undecided voter.
BRANDON FERGUSON: Correct.
ROBERTS: And a political observer might wonder how does an undecided voter end up in the background of the premiere event at an Obama rally?
BRANDON FERGUSON: Well, we were all standing there, and some guy, I don't know who it was, they came to us and asked -- not to us directly, but to a big cluster of us and asked us if we wanted to be in the back drop of Obama's party. So we said, yes, we get to be on national television, what an opportunity, a great opportunity to just be on TV. I didn't realize we were going to be on national television.
BRIAN FERGUSON: No.
ROBERTS: National television and the comedy shows and blogs, youtube.
PHILLIPS: International, the whole...
So, you guys, if you haven't decided to this point who you're going to vote for and if it's not Obama, would you work as an Abercrombie & Fitch model? What do you think? Commercials?
BRANDON FERGUSON: I can see myself in the commercial.
PHILLIPS: Oh, but not Obama.
BRANDON FERGUSON: Well, I don't see myself I was Obama. I would just have to see. It's not over yet.
ROBERTS: So have you guys learn something about the heat of the political campaign here?
BARKER: Have we?
BRANDON FERGUSON: I'm sorry, what?
ROBERTS: Have you learned something about being on the thick of things in the heat of the political campaign.
BRANDON FERGUSON: Never to volunteer to go out.
BRIAN FERGUSON: This has been the most stressful week ever.
BARKER: I would do it again.
PHILLIPS: Calls will be about the senior management position and the discount he's going to get on the next t-shirts.
ROBERTS: You guys got your 15 minutes. No question about that. Brandon, Brian, Cole, thanks for joining us this morning. Appreciate it.
BRANDON FERGUSON: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: All right. Do you believe them? I think they're innocent bystanders?
ROBERTS: Sounds like it. You walk up and down the street and see lots of people wearing those t-shirts. It's just interesting that all three of them ended like right center behind him. But seriously, it's like during his speech, who were those guys? Not what is Obama saying.
PHILLIPS: Now, we know. And I can't wait to see the ad. They could turn up in a commercial. ROBERTS: They're going to turn up somewhere. You can bet on it. Just crossing the top of the hour. Barack Obama's long term pastor is finally breaking his silence. The Reverence Jeremiah Wright speaking publicly for the first time since excerpts of his sermon hit ...