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A Deal for Victims of Minnesota Bridge Collapse; Investigation on Debra Jeane Palfrey's Suicide; Greensburg Rebuilding and Going Green; Clinton and Obama Nearly Even in Latest National Poll
Aired May 2, 2008 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Tell me, what was the breaking point for you, when you thought that I'm going to talk to local farmers, figure out how to do this, get some advisement and start growing my own wheat right outside my bakery.
JONATHAN STEVENS, HUNGRY GHOST BREAD BAKERY: Well, in some ways this idea has been percolating for a while, for a couple of years but since flour in the last year went up almost three fold for us. Three times.
We knew the time was right and our customers understood that once it was in, on the front page of the paper, on the television, day after day, people got it.
PHILLIPS: So the cost for you doubled?
PHILLIPS: Tripled. And so I'm trying to -- so for a 50-pound bag of flour, put it in perspective for me. How much did you used to pay? How much is it now?
STEVENS: A 50-pound bag of flour went from around -- this is organic flour, mind you.
STEVENS: It went from around $23, $24 a bag, that's a 50-pound bag, to almost $68.
PHILLIPS: Wow. All right. Now, this is your partner next to you, right?
STEVENS: This is Cheryl.
PHILLIPS: OK. So Cheryl is going to keep working on the bread there. And if you don't mind, may I ask you to take us outside and actually show us where you have been growing the wheat?
PHILLIPS: OK. So while our photographer there is going to kick it off the sticks and take you outside, go ahead, as you're moving outside, tell me how difficult is it to grow wheat and did you meet with anybody to advise you how to do it and did anybody say to you, Jonathan, you're crazy?
STEVENS: Yes, all of the above. People have said we're crazy. Yes, we have a lot of help. We've got particularly a friend over at Hampshire College, the director of the farm center there, Leslie Cox, who grew up growing wheat in Upstate, New York.
And, no, I have no idea how to grow wheat. We're all learning. This is my way of trying to be -- having a little more integrity as a baker. So three weeks ago I planted this. This is right outside our bakery. And we just dug up the ground. We just got rid of the grass. We got rid of the sod, which, of course, would compete with the wheat because wheat is a grass. They're cousins, and they don't really like one another.
PHILLIPS: OK. Well, I'm looking -- how do you know the difference? I'm not very wheat savvy here. It all looks like grass to me.
STEVENS: Well, it does kind of look the same. It's going to look the same probably for a couple of months. Hopefully, the person who mows our lawn won't actually mow this part, and this is just going to keep getting taller and taller and taller. So it's already -- after three weeks we're already up to nine inches.
PHILLIPS: Wow. So how have your customers - you've got about 70 customers joining in on this. Tell me what they're doing, why they're rallying around you. This has become a big thing in the community there. Everyone is talking about it.
STEVENS: It's huge. People are going home. They're taking a little bag of wheat berries, and they're running home and digging up their lawns. Everybody gets the same size bag, and they know to dig up 100 square foot plot, and they simply -- they do the other kind of broadcasting.
And they end up with -- we're all going to end up with wheat and come early August we're going to go around with just hand saw and cut it down. We're going to measure what the yield was, and we're going to test the wheat and see if it will work for bread.
PHILLIPS: Love it. Jonathan Stevens, runs the Hungry Ghost Bread there in Northampton. Also, growing his own wheat. About 70 customers joining in wanting to do the same thing. I think you're probably on to something. Your ultimate goal is that that wheat will make the best organic bread, right?
STEVENS: That's right. We're testing it so the farmers a couple of years down the road will be growing this for us on a big scale.
PHILLIPS: All right. I hope I get to taste some of that bread, Jonathan.
STEVENS: I hope so.
PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks for joining us this morning.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Everybody is trying to do what they can.
STEVENS: Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: Quite the enterpriser.
ROBERTS: It certainly is.
PHILLIPS: We'll see if there's a domino effect.
ROBERTS: Doing research and saving money at the same time.
PHILLIPS: There you go.
PHILLIPS: Hey, breaking news to tell you about now. Just in, a deal for victims of the Minnesota bridge collapse. According to the Associated Press, it's a $38 million plan put together by state lawmakers. It would allow victims to get up to $400,000 apiece.
There's also a supplemental $13 million fund for people who suffered the worst injuries. The collapse killed 13 people and injured 145 others last summer.
Police in Florida this morning are investigating what may have prompted Debra Jeane Palfrey, the so called D.C. Madam to take her own life. Her body was found yesterday near her mother's home along with apparent suicide notes. Here is part of the chilling call to 911.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLANCHE PALFREY: Help me! Help me! Please.
OPERATOR: What's going on, ma'am?
BLANCHE PALFREY: (INAUDIBLE).
OPERATOR: You think what, ma'am?
BLANCHE PALFREY: I think she hung herself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Palfrey was convicted last month of running a prostitution ring that catered to Washington's political elite. And was facing up to 55 years behind bars.
CNN's John Zarrella is live in Tarpon Springs, Florida for us this morning with the latest on this.
Good morning, John.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. And you know, many of the retirees living here in the Sun Valley Estates Mobile Home Park here in Tarpon Springs, Florida say they knew that Blanche Palfrey's daughter was known as the so-called D.C. Madam, but they didn't talk about it. Those who didn't know do today.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): The body of Debra Jeane Palfrey was found by her mother in a small storage shed outside her mobile home.
CAPT. JEFFREY YOUNG, TARPON SPRING'S POLICE: Blanche Palfrey discovered her daughter, Debra, had apparently hung herself using a nylon rope from a metal beam on the ceiling of the shed.
ZARRELLA: Police say several notes were found that made it clear the woman known as the D.C. Madam wanted to take her own life. Author Dan Moldea who is working with her on a possible book said he wasn't surprised.
He told "Time" magazine, quote, "She wasn't going to jail. She told me that very clearly. She told me she would commit suicide." Unquote.
Palfrey was to be sentenced next month for running a high-end prostitution service in Washington. Something she continued to deny.
DEBRA PALFREY: No promises or claims directly or indirectly was ever made to a client that he should expect the associate to perform illegal acts for hire.
ZARRELLA: But authorities say she ran the business for 13 years hiring polished college-educated women and coordinating it all from her home in California.
She allegedly brought in millions of dollars, most of which she spent on her defense. The 52-year-old Palfrey hinted at her current state of mind in a recent interview with CNN Radio's Ninette Sosa.
PALFREY: I am looking at 55 years in a federal penitentiary, and at my age, that is virtually a life sentence.
ZARRELLA: Now, police say that we may get some autopsy -- preliminary autopsy results later today, certainly in the next couple of days, but by all indications authorities here say this was simply a suicide.
ROBERTS: John Zarrella this morning in Tarpon Springs, Florida. John, thanks.
PHILLIPS: Breaking news now out of Yemen. Witnesses say that 15 people are dead, dozens more may be wounded after an explosion in a mosque. It happened in the Sadr region of the country. That's side of the Shiite rebellion.
Plus, more breaking news. Twisters caught on tape. New images coming into us now from the damage in the plains. An update on where these violent storms could be headed coming up straight on AMERICAN MORNING.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is going to be the seventh Fed rate cut in a row. You've got to pay attention. This is major.
JON STEWART, CNN HOST: Who is that hairless prophet of doom? And how can we appease his anger, please? If we give you our hair, will you give us back our money? Will you do it, sir? I beg of you! Velshi!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: And all hail Velshi this morning.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I have just not had any doom.
PHILLIPS: Your Jon Stewarts new guru.
VELSHI: You know, you have been getting e-mails. I've been seeing the show has been getting e-mails. I didn't even getting them directly from people to say stop talking like it's depressing me. So there you go.
VELSHI: This morning I have nothing but good news for you. There's no gas records. Oil prices are down. The stock market was up. The dollar is stronger it's been since February. And I got 20 more minutes of good news because at 8:30 the new jobless numbers come out for April.
There is -- I just want to be clear on this. There's no way it's going to be good news. It might be fewer jobs lost than we expected. We're looking at 75,000 to 80,000 jobs lost. It's pretty bad.
Now, let me give you a sense of how our jobs have gone in the last several months. In September, we gained -- what was that. I can't even see that number. About 44,000 new jobs.
And then in October, it popped up. It made everybody feel like, OK, maybe things aren't so bad. Remember, September is when the Fed first cut interest rates. People were sort of feeling like maybe they'll get it back. Look at that since September.
60,000 jobs gained in November. Just to keep this in perspective, economists say you have to gain more than 100,000 jobs a month just to keep things steady.
Then in December, 41,000. Then in January, the losses started. 76,000 jobs lost in January. 76,000 jobs lost in February. And in March, we also lost 80,000 jobs. We've now lost almost a quarter of a million jobs.
ROBERTS: What do we think the number is going to be for April?
VELSHI: We're expecting it to be in that same range. We expect to be averaging between 75,000 and 80,000 jobs lost in April. If it's lower than that, we may be breathing a little sigh of relief. If it's worse than that, we get more concerned.
But bottom line is when you lose 75,000 jobs in a month, that's never good story. So, that is -- and it tends to be inflation and jobs tend to be the thing that worries people the most. So the things that worry people the most. So, we'll be watching that.
ROBERTS: And the big problem that you have been helping folks out with, too, every day at noon is trying to figure out what to do to try to ride this out.
VELSHI: Right. And we will have more on that today as well on "ISSUE #1."
ROBERTS: Looking forward to it.
PHILLIPS: Perfect way to transition. The economy, issue no.1 for Americans. Just join Ali, Gerri Willis and also the CNN money team for that show today, noon Eastern, right here on CNN and online at cnnmoney.com.
ROBERTS: A quick-thinking 13-year-old helped police in Ohio catch two would-be robbers. The teen was home alone when two suspects broke into the house. That's when the girl hid in her room and sent a text message to her mother who was at work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA DURNBAUGH, TEXT-MESSAGED FOR HELP: It says, Mommy, oh, my God, I'm scared. I think we're being robbed. I'm hiding, help me.
MARGO DURNBAUGH, LAURA'S MOTHER: I was scared to death. I thought, oh, my God, do they have her?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: My goodness. The girl's mother rushed home just in time to stop the two suspects. Moment's later, police arrived and the two were taken into custody.
And amazing pictures right now as we look at storm damage left behind in Kansas City. These are pictures that are coming into us from our affiliate there.
Rob Marciano is tracking the storm damage and where that weather system is headed today.
And, Rob, that's really the important question. He's in Greensburg, Kansas. Good morning, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. Yes, it's moving east and we have just as much of a threat today, if not more, than we saw yesterday. So, rough weather on the way no doubt. It was rough weather a year ago when an F-5 demolished this town of Greensburg. We'll be live, complete forecast, when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.
MARCIANO: Back to Greensburg. This is an unbelievable story of recovery. A year ago, we thought, you know there was no way this town was going to recover. 95 percent of the homes and businesses here completely destroyed. There are still many that are left in ruined.
But check out this building out. If the sun comes up, really cool building designed by graduate students at the Kansas University there. About 16,000 square feet completely green. From the waste water run off, to the installation, to the siding.
The wood that they used was taken from an old military post down in Kansas. And they use that wood from a building that was being demolished. Also powered by windmills.
Windmills all over this town. So they're trying to make this town completely self-sustainable and it's really amazing what's happening here. Greensburg, rebuilding and going completely green, as they would have it. It's good stuff.
Back to you, guys, in New York.
ROBERTS: Quite an impressive rebirth. Rob, thanks.
PHILLIPS: You're watching the most news in the morning. The home foreclosure crisis being blamed in part on dishonest mortgage lenders. Imagine that. We'll tell you how to find an honest lender. Tips that you can use. Straight ahead AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: Congress working on a plan to help homeowners facing foreclosure. A House Committee actually approved a bill to ensure up to $300 billion to refinance those loans so owners can keep their homes.
Many of them, though, victims of predatory lenders. That's just one of the issues that our Gerri Willis is tackling this weekend in Mortgage Meltdown for CNN's "SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT" that Saturday and Sunday night 8 Eastern.
Gerri, joining us now, you actually sat down with a former mortgage broker and --
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: He's currently working in the mortgage industry.
PHILLIPS: Oh, he is?
WILLIS: But he worked for somebody he described as predatory.
PHILLIPS: Interesting. Well, define that.
WILLIS: Well, he says the kind of practices that his industry was using and the company was working for specifically, predatory lending, loans were misrepresented.
He described the situation -- you got to hear this, Kyra, where the employees, the people who are going to sell these loans would be brought into a room, in front of desks where they would make cold call people to try to sell them loans. They wouldn't be allowed to sit down until they had a loan application from somebody.
So really tough tactics. A lot of high-pressure salespeople. Listen in on what Mark Bomchill had to say about his former employer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIS: I just refinance, why would I refinance again?
MARK BOMCHILL, MORTGAGE BROKER: Well, Miss Willis, oftentimes people refinance, they're not able to get all their needs met. Were you able to get all your debts consolidated that you need to consolidate?
WILLIS: I'm not interested.
BOMCHILL: If I was able to show you how I can save you $60,000, $70,000 would you be interested then?
WILLIS: That's a compelling argue. Is it true?
BOMCHILL: Of course not. It's not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIS: And that's just the kind of conversation that he engaged in. We were role playing there a little bit just to give you an idea of what kinds of conversations he would have with potential clients when he was trying to sell the loans, cold calling over the telephone.
PHILLIPS: Well, And I mentioned to you before about getting all these letters in the mail. I have been flooded lately from all these various lenders and the deals sound great and you want to call up, but I would -- I'm nervous about I wouldn't know what's right and what's not.
PHILLIPS: So how do we protect ourselves whether it's someone like -- on the phone or --
WILLIS: Job number one, if somebody is calling you, if somebody is sending you a letter, don't respond to that. You want to go out and find the lender on your own. Use someone you used in the past. One great place to go, a credit union. Credit unions often have lower rates than regular banks. You know, they are looking out for you. They are a membership organization.
Take your time here. Make sure you do your research first. The reality is that lenders are much more concerned about lending these days. Money isn't as easily available, and then you can check loan rates at hsh.com and bankrate.com, but you really got to do your work here. It's up to you to make sure that you don't get taken.
You know, Congress, they're talking about, you know, passing some legislation here, but it hasn't happened yet. It's up to you to protect yourself from the marketplace.
PHILLIPS: That's good stuff. All right, Saturday and Sunday 8:00 p.m., 11 p.m. Eastern. That's your investigation. Also, Gerri Willis, tomorrow for "OPEN HOUSE." Tomorrow morning, 9:30, Eastern right here on CNN.
ROBERTS: It's coming up on 23 minutes after the hour. The Golden Girl debate. One for Obama, one for Clinton. They square off, ahead, on AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: Well, the "Most Politics in the Morning" right now. The final weekend to push for votes before the primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. Barack Obama campaigns in both states today while Hillary Clinton has several events in North Carolina. Republican John McCain talks to voters in Colorado.
The latest national polls show that Clinton and Obama nearly even. A Pew Research Center Survey has Obama at 47 percent and Clinton with 45 percent. Obama had a ten-point lead in March. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll also has the candidates in a statistical tie.
ROBERTS: Well, there is a new call this morning for Democrats to put an end to the fight. Joe Andrew is a superdelegate from Indiana. He's also a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee who switched his allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama.
He says "Other superdelegates should do the same thing for the good of the party." I spoke with Andrew and Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe, also a former DNC chair, earlier on AMERICAN MORNING.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE ANDREW, SUPERDELEGATE SUPPORTING OBAMA: We need these elections to go on, but just like millions of people who are going to come out and vote for John McCain, we still need to have a presumptive nominee and get about the business of trying to take on John McCain and make sure we've got a Democrat who wins in the fall.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: You don't stop the World Series in game seven. We got a long way to go. It is fair that these voters who are out there, there's excitement. I was in Oregon. They haven't had a say in over 40 years, John, in who the nominee of the Democratic Party will be. The same thing in Indiana. It's up to the voters. It's not up to superdelegates or anyone else at this stage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Just to show how close it is. Guam has got its own say this coming weekend. Clinton currently holds the edge in superdelegates, but Obama has more pledged delegates won through the primaries and caucuses.
It brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question. We've been asking all day what should superdelegates base their votes on. 39 percent of you say the candidate who ends up with the most pledged delegates. Nine percent think local results, 25 percent say superdelegates should follow the overall popular vote, and 26 percent say they should vote their conscience. Cast you vote at cnn.com/am.
A lot of talk in this presidential race about who has the experience. Jeanne Moos took a look at that the other day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't hit on Hillary. Brings us all down. Let her do that stuff. Leave her alone. You don't need to do that. You're higher than that.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to know will you be my running mate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Well, we're not talking about candidates here. We're talking about the voters. Now seniors have their moment. Some older voters are even using the Web site to rock the vote.
Joining us now to talk more about the Democratic race is Jean Weiss. She's a Barack Obama supporter. The woman who was at that campaign rally talking to Barack Obama and here in New York is Margaret O'Brien who is supporting Senator Clinton.
Good morning to both of you.
MARGARET O'BRIEN, SUPPORTS CLINTON: Hello.
PHILLIPS: Jean, let's start with you. We saw you right there with Barack Obama. What was going through your mind and what did you tell him when he asked you to be his running mate? JEAN WEISS, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, what was in my mind was the most important event of the day when he stood up, Barack Obama stood up in front of 5,000-plus of his supporters and he said, I am a Christian, Jesus Christ is my personal savior. Jesus came to be crucified to pay for my sins. I believe in the resurrection. I believe in the gospel, the good news, and the verse...
PHILLIPS: You sound like you're stepping up to go to church, Jean.
WEISS: ...And one more thing, scripture verse that follows him that he's guided by is treat others as you want to be treated. That was the most important thing. And when I shouted out to him, man, you better be president. You've got to be president. That's when he said, will you be my running mate?
PHILLIPS: And you said?
WEISS: And I thought, you only go around once. I said, yes, I will! And I ran down there, up close and personal. Can you believe that? You should have been there!
PHILLIPS: I wish we were there.
WEISS: You can see it on tape. I'm telling you, it was a moment.
ROBERTS: She even got a kiss.
WEISS: The whole world wants him to be president. They're all waiting and they're yearning. They're yearning.
PHILLIPS: Margaret, you're shaking your head.
WEISS: They're hanging on by their fingertips.
PHILLIPS: Hold on, Jean, now. We got another side to this story, Jean.
WEISS: Barack and Michelle in that White House.
ROBERTS: Margaret, you've had your own conversion here. You were a Republican before. When did you switch?
O'BRIEN: I was a boring Republican. Now I'm a red hot Democrat, and I want Hillary Clinton in that White House. I want a woman in that White House, and the reason for that is this is a couple that has been blessed. They are politically and every way that you can think of matching with all the people who have gone before them.
You have George and Martha Washington, you have Ronald and Nancy Reagan, you have Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. All of these people have been blessed, and I also am a Christian, to sit in that oval office. We've had the father of our country going all the way back to the first president. It's about time we had the mother of our country. ROBERTS: Now, Margaret, let me ask you this question. If we look at the exit poll results from the most recent contest, which is Pennsylvania, you look at white voters over the age of 60, 68 percent went for Hillary Clinton. 32 percent for Barack Obama.
Why do you think it is that more mature Americans are voting for Hillary Clinton over Obama?
O'BRIEN: I like what you said about more mature. More mature doesn't have anything to do with tongues. More mature has to do with experience, and here is a couple that fit right in. Hillary fits the bill right into these presidential people who have gone before.
ROBERTS: So it's all about experience for you?
O'BRIEN: It's all about experience and history. Look at these names. You put Hillary Rodham Clinton and William Jefferson Clinton right up there with the Roosevelt's and the Reagan's and Winston and Clementine Churchill.
ROBERTS: And we should mention --
O'BRIEN: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.
ROBERTS: You should mention too that Margaret has done a lot of work pounding the pavement in Hoboken, New Jersey.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. You're the historian there.
O'BRIEN: Yes. I am.
PHILLIPS: This is definitely a historic election. You mentioned Roosevelt.
PHILLIPS: Yes. Eleanor Roosevelt, but let's think of that era, and Jean, you're 82 years old. You go back to that era. I mean, you have seen a lot of presidents in your time. Did you ever think that you would be rooting for an African-American candidate?
JEAN WEISS, SUPPORTS OBAMA: He's not an African-American candidate. He's an American candidate, and at that Democratic debate when all of them were up there, her experience, you saw what went on in Washington with her experience, didn't you? And we don't want to do it like that anymore. He is -- he has the wisdom. When they asked him the question, would you sit down at a table with your enemies, he said yes, I will. That was not being naive. That was not being inexperienced. That was being wise because we could all just sit around and just kill everybody off, great. That's some life. That's called death.
ROBERTS: Margaret is shaking her head. You ring in on this.
O'BRIEN: I don't think it's wise to sit down with Obama Bin Laden. I don't think it's wise to sit down with people who came over here and killed us at 9/11. That's not wisdom. That's idiocy.
ROBERTS: First of all it's Osama Bin Laden and he's not suggesting sitting down with them. He's suggesting sitting down with some other folks, Ahmadinejad maybe.
O'BRIEN: Well, Afghanistan is a problem. Iraq is a problem. People want to kill you going to sit down and talk to them?
WEISS: That's what sold me on him. When he said that, I said that's a grown-up. All the rest, that's kids' stuff, that's playground stuff. I hit you, you hit me, hit you back, kick you back, knock you off, knock you down.
O'BRIEN: I like a couple in the White House.
WEISS: Oh, great. Oh, what a way.
ROBERTS: All right. As we can see, there is a tremendous amount of emotion here involved in this political process.
O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. I'm emotional.
ROBERTS: We want to thank both of you.
O'BRIEN: Hillary fits the bill perfectly.
ROBERTS: Jean Weiss in Wilmington, North Carolina and Margaret O'Brien here with us this morning. Thanks for being with us folks.
O'BRIEN: From Hoboken.
ROBERTS: Glad to see you so involved in the Democratic process here. Thanks for coming in.
WEISS: I'm involved.
PHILLIPS: Apparently, Jean's grand kids, too, are enjoying grandma's new found fame. They have been calling her on a regular basis giving her advice.
ROBERTS: And certainly, these are energetic voters.
PHILLIPS: Alina Cho with other headlines right now. Alina, I don't know. It's going to be hard to top that.
CHO: I was going to say how do you follow that? You can't follow that. But you follow that with Ali Velshi and just into us some new jobs numbers right now. Ali is here with more on that. Hey, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Alina, I can't break my good streak today. The one thing that was supposed to be certainly bad isn't. The unemployment rate for the United States is now lower, it is 5 percent. The jobless numbers for April have just come in from the U.S. government. The unemployment rate which was supposed to increase to 5.2 percent is now down to 5 percent. We were expecting a job loss of 75,000 jobs, which is in pace with what we've had. Believe it, we've got a job loss of 20,000 jobs in April, far fewer than most analysts were expecting. So, this is a big surprise to the upside both in terms of a lower unemployment rate and fewer jobs lost in April.
As I have said many, many times, the things that are most worrisome to Americans are job losses and the fear of losing a job. Now, one month is not a trend. The trend has been downward, but this is a very positive surprise. It's having a very bullish effect on markets right now. The Dow is up in triple digits after a very strong day yesterday and after hitting its highest point since the beginning of the year, Alina. So very, very bullish news on the economy today with respect to unemployment.
CHO: All right, Ali. Boy, we could use that good news.
CHO: Especially on a Friday.
CHO: All right. Ali, thanks so much.
We have some more breaking news to tell you about. This on a deal for the victims of that Minnesota Bridge collapse. According to the Associated Press, it's a $38 million plan put together by state lawmakers. It would allow victims to get up to $400,000 a piece. Now, there's also a supplemental $13 million fund for people who suffered the worst injuries. The August 1st bridge collapse in Minneapolis killed 13 people and injured 145 others.
Three people are now charged with sparking a wildfire near the Grand Canyon. That fire which started on Tuesday torched more than 2,000 acres. The suspects apparently left a camp fire unattended. Crews say that fire is about 80 percent contained now. Fires are also burning in New Mexico, California, and Texas.
And the Olympic torch has run through Hong Kong this morning and it was unlike anything the torch saw during its international tour. On Chinese soil, for the first time, the torch was met by pro-Chinese demonstrations as many of the other stops around the world. As many of you know, there have been protests against Chinese policy in Tibet. The few pro Tibet protesters that were out today were drowned out and eventually taken off the course for their own protection. The torch will make its way through China during the next three months before the games begin in August. The next stop is Macau.
That's a look at the headlines this hour. Back to you, guys.
ROBERTS: All right. Alina, thanks very much. New pictures of the damage coming in from the plains today. Homes flattened near Kansas City. The extreme storm threat getting worse.
PHILLIPS: And a town that felt nature's fury devastated by a twister one year ago. Today, they're showing respect for mother nature in the rebuilding effort. Rob Marciano joins us live from Greensburg, Kansas, next on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: 38 minutes now after the hour. Kansas city, the first pictures of damage after severe weather tore apart homes there. Gusts of up to 80 miles an hour were reported along with huge chunks of hail. Reports that 200 homes and businesses were damaged, at least three people hurt. Obviously looking at the destruction of that house. The winds reached well above 80 miles an hour, and the threat not over yet. Rob Marciano in Greensburg, Kansas, where a huge tornado hit one year ago today. He's tracking the extreme weather. Good morning, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. Lucky for the folks here still reeling from the tornado last year, this severe weather today or at least last night developed east of here and it continues to plow eastward. Showed you that damage in Kansas City. And now the action is heading in through parts of Missouri, southern Missouri, and central parts of Arkansas. All barreling to the east. We have one tornado warning that is still in effect for Oregon County in south central Missouri. You see those tornado watches that are still in effect for a little more time and that severe thunderstorm watch box, the yellow box there, that's for severe thunderstorms.
And you can see whenever that line of red gets kind of squiggly, you know there's a big time straight-line winds. So, we're looking for gusty winds and now the Doppler radar in these two counties, south central Missouri, picking up a little bit of rotation. So, Doppler indicated tornado warning for that area as that line of storms rapidly moves east-northeast at anywhere from 45 to 55 miles an hour.
Between Ft. Smith and Little Rock, we got some rough weather, that's all barreling east as well. And the threat for severe weather continues today across the mid-Mississippi Valley and Memphis up through St. Louis, you're all under the gun for a moderate threat. And that's pretty big time for tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds. They were under a high risk threat a year ago here in central Kansas when an F-5 developed, a monster storm with over 200-mile-an- hour winds. Pretty much wiped out this town. I'll tell what you though, they are rebuilding, and they got together and they said, you know what? We're going to do it, we're going to do it right.
MARCIANO (voice-over): One year later, residents understand that how they rebuild will determine the town's future, and Greensburg is, well, going green. Windmills are popping up like the winter weed, and even conservative farmers are getting on board.
DANIEL WALLACH, DIRECTOR, GREENSBURG FOUNDATION: All you have to say to them is if you could save $200 a month on your utility bill by harnessing this wind, what do you think?
MARCIANO: Here green has no political party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it's red or blue to be green. I think green is green, and green makes sense, and it also saves you green. That's the other thing.
MARCIANO: For the Estes, the fourth generation family business is a John Deere dealership and the tornado hit them especially hard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steel twisted inside of brick and the miles per hour it had to have to pick up combines, at like 20,000 lbs that equipment that headed right into harvest gone.
MARCIANO: Rebuilding the new John Deere site is just getting started, and you got it, it's going to be green.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Below us is hydronic in-floor heating. We put hydronic heating in here so that the heat will be radiant from the base of the floor up.
MARCIANO: And is that more efficient?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Much, much more efficient. When we drain the oil out of our machines, it's going to go into a tank. That tank will then house the oil that's going to be burned that will heat the water in this floor. At present that particular windmill is powering this job site, which to our --
MARCIANO: Is that right?
And when it's completed more than half of the dealership's electricity will come from the wind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My granddad, trust me, he liked to save energy, and he was an environmentally conscious person, as was my dad. Farmers are environmentalists.
MARCIANO: And farmers here hope to turn their town's tragedy into an environmental triumph.
MARCIANO: They certainly have to take care of the land, their livelihood depend on it. This is one of the reddest of red states but green has no color and they hope that Greensburg becomes the greenest town in America, becomes somewhat of a tourist attraction, and keeps the young folks here. Becomes cool and hip and from what we've seen so far in the rebuilding effort, which they're could go by the highest standards of energy efficiency and environmental design, It's -- they're right on track. John, Kyra, it's very impressive. We certainly wish them the best as they continue their trek towards a brand new town.
MARCIANO: Back to you.
ROBERTS: Tremendous amount of work they've got to do there, and I'm amazed that they could even see a place where they could begin. Rob Marciano for us this morning in Greensburg. Thanks. Ahead, we're going to hear what motivated one man to lose 180 pounds. Now he wants to send you a message to get healthy. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a "Fit Nation" success story. That's coming right up.
PHILLIPS: His dream was to live in America, but he gave that up to fulfill the dreams of children in Ethiopia by giving them the gift of knowledge. Meet Yohannes Gebregeorgis today's CNN Hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a little train. Her cars were full of every kind of thing. Little boy and girl could want.
YOHANNES GEBREGEORGIS, CHAMPIONING CHILDREN: I was born in a small town in the southern part of Ethiopia. When I was 19 I found a book. This book was really the first book that I read outside of school. And this book really changed my whole life. My name is Yohannes Gebregeorgis and I'm bringing literacy to the children of Ethiopia.
Most Ethiopian children have access to textbooks in the classroom. Books that children read outside of the school, those are the spices of education.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were toy trucks, airplanes and bus. But that was not all.
GEBREGEORGIS: I came to the U.S. as a political refugee. I just wanted to come back to Ethiopia and help children have a future, have hope. Children could imagine everything from books. Connections to other cultures, to other people, to other children and to the universe, to love.
The reward is seeing children reading every day, eager children, who have never had books in their hands, coming and sitting and reading quietly with literate children there's no limit as to how much we can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away now. Our man, Tony Harris at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead. Good morning, sir.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: John, good to see you. Good Friday to you. Hello everyone, "Issue number one" the Friday edition in the NEWSROOM. New job list number for April just out. Are more Americans leaving the assembly line for the unemployment line, that is the question? The hard land on guard for tornadoes again today. Damage assessment under way right now in Oklahoma and Missouri.
Rising grocery prices got you wilting like a week-old lettuce. The coupon mom is here live, she's the expert on saving up and down the grocery aisle. It's a Friday, in the NEWSROOM. We get started at the top of the hour on CNN. John, say hello to Kyra there.
ROBERTS: I will. Hello, Kyra. Tony, have you heard about the hairless prophet of doom?
HARRIS: I have not. We are not talking about you.
ROBERTS: Jon Stewart.
HARRIS: You know what.
ROBERTS: Jon Steward dubbed Ali Velshi the hairless prophet of doom last night in his show because of all the terrible economic news that's been coming out of Ali's mouth. Ever since he did the economic news has been relatively benign.
HARRIS: And I think I saw his response about an hour or so ago. Right?
ROBERTS: So, he'll be joining you a little bit later on, right?
ROBERTS: OK. Looking forward to it.
PHILLIPS: Love you, Tony.
HARRIS: Love you too, Kyra.
ROBERTS: Coming up, how a young man changed his future by taking a hard look at his past, helping him to lose 180 pounds. That's coming up next.
ROBERTS: Nine minutes now to the top of the hour. We know that we should eat healthy, but all of us have to learn how. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has got another "Fit Nation" success story to share with us. Good morning, doc.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. You know, we try to create this on-air partners with people because we want to give inspiration. A lot of people don't know as much as they think about good nutrition, about portion control. Things like that and a lot of them simply into the habits of their parents, and their grandparents before them. So how do you break the cycle. Here's a guy who might inspire you.
GUPTA (voice-over): Brandon Hollas grew up in the small Texas town of Cameron where eating healthy was an after thought.
BRANDON HOLLAS, LOST 180 POUNTS: We are allowed to eat chili cheese nachos for lunch and with grandma's cookie's on the side and a Doc Pepper. They have made that lunch for several days of the week. GUPTA: As Brandon grew older, the nachos, cookies and most of all the soda would catch up to his. I would drink about six pack a day which was 200 calories a pop. By college, he weighs close to 400 lbs. until -
HOLLAS: I had actually a cousin that before the age of 11 was fully diagnosed with diabetes. And I think that really, really opened my eyes that there's some serious health problem if I don't do something about it.
GUPTA: So, he began reading up on health and fitness at the school's library. He also began working out.
HOLLAS: Within six months I had dropped 50 pounds.
GUPTA: Now, almost half his former size, Brandon says a lack of education contributed to his weight gain.
HOLLAS: I didn't really know much about portion control or good nutrition growing up. I just knew I liked the food that was in front of me and didn't think about the sacrifices.
GUPTA: Brandon is happier. He is healthier and he is preparing to finish his masters' degree. He is also in prime shape for perhaps the biggest day of his life. His upcoming wedding.
HOLLAS: My name is Brandon Hollas and I've lost 180 pounds.
GUPTA: And another interesting thing is he's actually getting married next month to a woman he says he would never have the courage to actually go out and ask out until he lost the weight.
American Heart Association, CDC Web sites out there.
ROBERTS: I was just going to say what are the resources that are ought there for people like him who don't know how to eat right.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, you know, that's the thing. We assume that a lot of people simply have this health literacy. But they don't always. And so the American Heart Association is a place we go to a lot. Cdc.gov has some good tips in portion control and the right kind of nutrition in case you are not 100 percent sure.
ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks very much.
GUPTA: All right, John.
ROBERTS: Safe trip back to Atlanta. Catch Dr. Gupta this weekend on his own show "House Call," Saturday and Sunday mornings here at 8:30 Eastern here on CNN. Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Just a quick look in case you want to under the inside joke, John likes to get anxious sometimes. Here's a look at what the NEWSROOM is working on for the top of the hour. John.
HARRIS: See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM. April unemployment figures just out.
Gas prices inch down ending a 17-day record run up.
The heartland bracing for more tornadoes today.
Three campers charged for a fire near Grand Canyon National Park.
A college student murder, no one respond to her 911 call.
And coupon mom shows you how to beat rising grocery prices.
NEWSROOM just minutes away at the top of the hour on CNN.
PHILLIPS: Do you ever wonder how the presidential hopefuls keep those campaigns running nonstop? Lots of coffee, of course.
ROBERTS: We know about that. But Hillary Clinton had a little bit of trouble getting her caffeine fix. It's the Moos news in the morning with Jeanne.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forget Coffee Mate, we're calling coffee-gate, it is all over the internet set to music. Populist Hillary versus coffee machine. Hillary battles a coffee machine. They say Hillary can't use a coffee maker? All because she was doing a photo op at a gas station, and then went in to get a cup of cappuccino as she wondered aloud to an aide.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You didn't have to put the money in?
MOOS: Now, we timed it. Hillary only fiddled around for 11 seconds before she got the coffee to start coming out. That didn't stop critics from comparing her fumbling to the time George Bush, Sr. didn't seem to know his way around the grocery store. And just like Bush, Sr., Hillary is now being Hillary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?
MOOS (on-camera): But answering the phone is easy compared to this. And these coffee machines are finicky sometimes. The other day at a car dealership I thought I broke the machine, pushing all the buttons trying to get it to give me a cup of coffee.
MOOS (voice-over): As one person posted -- have you ever had gas station cappuccino? She's lucky she didn't get that thing to work. In the end she did. So don't let coffee gate grind you down, Hillary. Remember what that steelworker union official said about you being someone --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...that has testicular fortitude. You know, that is exactly right. That's what we got to have.
MOOS: What we got to have is an explanation from where Paul Gibson got that memorable phrase?
PAUL GIBSON, STEELWORKER UNION OFFICIAL: To be honest with you I have a sister that Hillary Clinton reminds me of. And she would use that term to me in a joking way.
MOOS: Gibson says Hillary seemed to like it and he's got nothing to apologize for. I thought maybe you meant to say intestinal fortitude.
GIBSON: Nope, testicular.
MOOS: It's a tough word to say though.
GIBSON: It is. You've got to be careful with it.
MOOS: Especially in front of the national press, testicular could go nuclear. Here's something else Gibson said.
GIBSON: I m sick and tired of these Gucci wearing, latte drinking self-centered egotistical people that have damaged our lifestyle.
MOOS: Right, that is why he ended up endorsing a French vanilla cappuccino drinking presidential candidate.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
ROBERTS: I still can't get over that guy with the fortitude.
PHILLIPS: The intestinal - and if everybody were here to have coffee. John has mastered that two strongest coffees in the bureau and kind of mixing them both.
ROBERTS: No, it's just two pots of the same coffee.
PHILLIPS: Oh, is that what it is? All I know, is that one of them is called dark magic. I call it black magic.
ROBERTS: It's like watching you shake.
PHILLIPS: It's true. I've got the shakes but the second hour in, I'm off it. I'm going on light vanilla now. Anyway, a final check of the "quick vote.' We've been asking you what should superdelegates base their votes on? 39 percent of you said the candidate who has the most pledged delegates. 9 percent think local results. 25 percent says superdelegates should follow the overall popular vote and 26 percent say the superdelegate should vote their conscience.
ROBERTS: Which by the way there are couple of people who e- mailed in and said, hey, you should ask who is more electable, that's what the vote their conscience gives, you know.
PHILLIPS: Go with your gut.
ROBERTS: To all of you who voted, thanks. We'll do it again next week. Thanks for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING.