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Democrats to Decide on Michigan and Florida Delegation; Puerto Rico Votes Could Play Key Role in Democratic Race; Two Ships Seized in Somalia; The Great Commuter Race
Aired May 30, 2008 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live in Washington. And, Suzanne, this is the $60,000 question. How are they going to figure this out?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be a complicated mess, John, but they're going to try to figure it out some way. This is not going to be an ordinary meeting. There are 500 tickets that were snatched up online just to be inside of the room.
It's going to be a live event. There are several thousand protesters who are expected outside of the meeting, outside of the hotel, and essentially what you have is this committee very much like a Senate hearing. It's going to be sitting down, kind of a U-shaped table, about 30 members, and then you're going to have the chair of the DNC, Howard Dean. He's going to make an opening statement. Then you'll hear from both sides.
You'll hear from Clinton's side. You'll hear from Obama's side, and the decisions that they have to make, obviously. Is it 100 percent, all the delegates count?
Well, obviously, already the Rules Committee says no, that's not going to work. They've got to be punished. Is it nobody, none of the delegates count?
Well, that's not going to work for the Clinton team. The Obama team says that's not fair either. So likely what's going to happen is it's going to be 50 percent. It's going to count for 50 percent, those delegates that are going to be seated.
Obviously this is something that the Clinton folks feel is very important. Obama folks say they want a compromise here.
But even if you slice it, the best case scenario, it's not going to give Clinton a lead when it comes to the pledged delegates. She's going to get closer, but she's not going to overcome Obama's lead. That's going to be up to the superdelegates, John.
ROBERTS: Suzanne, I was talking to Donna Brazile about this a little while ago. She's a member of the Rules Committee. She insists that they're going to get this figured out this weekend, but there is a chance that it could stretch all the way to the convention. How would that happen and what would be the impact on the Democratic Party if it did? MALVEAUX: There are a lot of people who are worried about that scenario, John, but the hope is that it's going to be resolved over the weekend. But there could be a glitch here.
Let's say the Clinton camp is not necessarily satisfied the way this all goes down with the recommendation from the Rules Committee. So essentially what would happen is they'd kick it forward to the Credentials Committee, and that happens, they meet sometime in July. And then whatever decision the Credentials Committee makes, that has to be ratified at the convention in August.
So, yes, it could go all the way up to August to the convention. It's likely not going to. Donna Brazile, a lot of other people hoping that this is going to at least satisfy both sides here so that they're not going to appeal. But they could appeal, and it could last for quite some time.
ROBERTS: It could be a fascinating weekend. Our Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning. Suzanne, thanks.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Of course the next stop on the contest calendar, Puerto Rico; 55 delegates are up for grabs Sunday. The island territory has more delegates at stake than over half of the states that held contests this primary season. Puerto Rico has a say in the primary process but not in the general election.
CNN's Jessica Yellin live from Puerto Rico where she stole Suzanne's beach front spot. Not too happy about that, but hey, you know, you got to do what you got to do.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, it's a pretty spot but the humidity is a killer, so there's a plus and minus. Let me tell you something.
Puerto Ricans go to the polls in two days here. Senator Clinton is pinning her hopes on the outcome here. She wants a massive turnout and a landslide victory.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The eyes of the world will be on Puerto Rico in the next week.
YELLIN (voice-over): And Hillary Clinton's got her eyes on Puerto Rico.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're the next president of the United States.
CLINTON: Thank you. That means a lot to me.
YELLIN: She's spending her second straight weekend campaigning on the island in advance of Sunday's primary. For Clinton, it's a family matter with both Bill and Chelsea making the rounds.
CHELSEA CLINTON, FORMER FIRST DAUGHTER: I am so proud that this is my third trip to Puerto Rico.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Chelsea and I and Hillary have now been to 42 of Puerto Rico's municipalities, campaigning for the votes of the people of Puerto Rico.
YELLIN: She's counting on a strong showing on Sunday with 55 delegates up for grabs. It's the last big prize before the primaries end Tuesday. She leads Barack Obama by double digits in the most recent poll here.
Obama campaigned briefly in Puerto Rico last weekend. He's ahead in the overall delegate count, and while he's not overlooking this contest, there is more on the line for Clinton.
YELLIN: And Kyra, Senator Clinton is hoping for that popular vote total, not because it will give her the nomination, but because she believes they could use that to sway the remaining superdelegates to come her way, and that way she can possibly overcome that number she needs to reach to get to the delegate win.
Now, she will only win the popular vote if she gets 65 percent of the vote here in Puerto Rico on Sunday and at least two million people turn out. A lot of ifs -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: We'll be watching this weekend. That's for sure, it'll be busy. Jessica Yellin, thanks -- John.
ROBERTS: Meantime, the top two Democrats in Washington are taking a personal approach to ending the long nomination race before the convention in August.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: I will step in because we cannot take this fight to the convention. It must be over before then. I believe it will be over in two weeks.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: We all are going to urge our folks next week to make a decision very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaking with KGO Radio. Both are now making calls to uncommitted superdelegates. Pelosi says a long race could harm the party's chances at winning the White House.
Now, the Obama campaign may have a new preacher problem on its hands. Father Michael Pfleger, an outspoken Catholic priest and Obama supporter, under fire today for a sermon that he gave at Obama's Chicago church this past Sunday. Pfleger mocked Senator Hillary Clinton for getting choked up before the New Hampshire primary. The video, now making the rounds on YouTube. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. MICHAEL PFLEGER, AT TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: When Hillary was crying and people said that was put on, I really don't believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always felt this is mine. I'm Bill's wife, I'm white, and this is mine.
I just got to get up and step into the plate, and then out of nowhere came, hey, I'm Barack Obama. And she said, oh, damn, where did you come from? I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show!
She wasn't the only one crying. There was a whole lot of white people crying!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Well, in a statement released today, Senator Obama said, "I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric which does not reflect the country that I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause."
A short time later, Father Pfleger issued an apology saying, "I regret the words that I chose on Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama's life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them."
PHILLIPS: Well, this morning pirates are in control of two more ships in the gulf bay. A Kenyan Maritime official tells us it's the same area where a ship was hijacked earlier this week. Twenty-six ships have been seized in the dangerous waters off Somalia this year by pirates looking to steal cargo and collect ransoms.
CNN's David McKenzie live now from Nairobi, Kenya, with more -- David.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, that's right. Two ships in 24 hours have been hijacked in the same area as that ship when we were right there in Tabuti (ph) in that area. Now, we don't have many more details than that.
The head of the Kenya Seafarers Association, which often does talks between the pirates and the vessels, says that those two ships have been taken. They don't know where they are.
They don't know the status of the crew, but it's quite extraordinary. In less than three days, three ships hijacked. This is clearly a growing problem. Kyra?
PHILLIPS: All right. David McKenzie, we will continue to follow up with you out of Nairobi. Appreciate it.
ROBERTS: Is the price of oil higher than it should be? Coming up, federal investigators want to know if someone is raking in money by manipulating the markets. PHILLIPS: Double punch in Nebraska. Tornadoes touch down in two towns uprooting trees, destroying homes. What's being done today? We'll tell you.
Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, the great commuter race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Synchronize your watch.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 7:19.
MCINTYRE: It's not just about winning. It's about comfort, convenience, and cost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Our CNN correspondents slug it out again for the fastest commute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where are you?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm a couple of blocks from the bureau.
VERJEE: Well, you were going to be there about the same time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Who will take home the commuter gold? Find out ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: It is coming up on 11 minutes after the hour. Ali Velshi here with the infamous oil barrel. And if you take a look at the barrel, you notice that something is a little bit different on it today.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I have made the numbers green, first of all.
ROBERTS: The numbers are green.
VELSHI: To indicate down.
PHILLIPS: So now, it's becoming famous versus infamous.
VELSHI: That's correct. This is a famous barrel. We might be liking this. The price of oil dropping this morning, reaching as low as $124.67.
Now, if you don't follow oil as closely as I do, like all the time, you might not know that oil reached almost $137 last week. Quite a big tumble over the last few days.
And, by the way, it takes sort of 10 to 14 days for that to affect gasoline prices. So while we have another record for gasoline prices, $3.96 a gallon today, we might actually by around June 5th to 8th stop getting gasoline price records. But we'll check that later on.
One of the things that developed yesterday was that the organization, the agency that regulates oil trading, announced that it has been investigating oil trading since December to see if there's any excessive speculation or manipulation going on. This is an organization called the CFTC, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
In about 15 minutes we're going to speak to the former director of trading and markets at the CFTC about what they might be investigating. We don't have details on that yet. What might they be investigating and if there is found -- there is some speculation to be found or somebody is responsible for it, what is it going to do to your oil prices?
He actually suggested that one of the interesting things to look at is if there's a light being put on trading, if something bad is going on, maybe those people now knowing there's an investigation will pull out and you might see the price of oil drop. So it's relevant to the price that you pay for everything you have. We're going to be talking to him in about 15 minutes.
ROBERTS: Good. Thank you.
VELSHI: All right.
ROBERTS: Ali, I like the green numbers.
ROBERTS: Keep them up.
PHILLIPS: Do you like Mariah Carey?
VELSHI: Totally like Mariah.
ROBERTS: Oh --
PHILLIPS: She's just kind of sexy.
PHILLIPS: I'll tell you what. She may have great form, but not on the pitching mound.
The singer threw out the first pitch at a baseball game in Japan. Check this out. Oh, my goodness.
ROBERTS: Wow. Although many people would say with an outfit like that, you don't need it. PHILLIPS: I was just hoping for no wardrobe malfunction if you know what I'm saying. She needs to zip that up a little higher.
ROBERTS: Do you think?
PHILLIPS: Those are not baseballs. OK. We're going to move right along.
But those are her legs.
PHILLIPS: Swing (ph), how about those shoes?
ROBERTS: Swing (ph) is right. Wow.
Fifteen minutes after the hour.
Drive to see who saves the most time and money. The great commuter race take two. This time our correspondents put the HOV lanes to the test.
PHILLIPS: Plus, Reynolds is in for Rob today. He's watching all that extreme weather --
REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: What was that? What was that?
PHILLIPS: And he's watching Mariah Carey's baseball throw.
WOLF: It's Friday. Unbelievable.
All right. And speaking of baseballs, we could have some baseball-sized hail later on today. Chance of some strong storms already. We've had some tornado warnings this morning across parts of Iowa.
We're going to give you the full scoop on the severe weather outbreak coming up on this AMERICAN MORNING.
WOLF: Welcome back to CNN AMERICAN MORNING. We're watching a severe weather situation in parts of Iowa where we're dealing with not only the possibility of tornadoes but some very heavy rainfall. In fact, we've got some information from the National Weather Service saying that we've had over three-quarters of an inch fall in parts of Iowa in less than 10 minutes.
Ladies and gentlemen, when you have a combination like that, that's going to bring some flash flooding. So flooding and the possibility of tornadoes. It's a double whammy for parts of Iowa. Let's go right to radar and as we do so, we're going to zoom in on some key locations. You'll notice right now on the map you'll see an area that is shaded in red. That area happens to be the tornado watch. However, embedded in that sector, although not every spot is under a tornado warning or even a tornado watch, we do have some very heavy rainfall that continues to fall in much of the same area.
So when you have that rain begins to pile up, the ground gets saturated, then everything else that continues to fall will be runoff. Easier for me to say.
Something else that we've been seeing too much in the morning, a lot of lightning. A lot of strong winds developing from the storm system as it rolls from the west to the east. What we're seeing throughout much of the day is more of this development in places like Peoria. You're in the clear for the time being. Chicago, no major issues for you either.
But as we get to the midday hours into the afternoon, spots like South Bend back over to Indianapolis, you could all be under this risk of dealing with some strong storms. You've got plenty of moisture coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, and it's going to be this storm system driving its way from the west to the east that will provide for damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes.
Again, we're talking about the possibility of flooding. Here is the flood threat for you in terms of the watch and the warnings. Much of Iowa and moving into portions of Illinois as well.
So a very stormy day, day nine. Can you believe that? Nine, nine days in a row. Nine days in a row of tornado reports. It's just been that kind of weather pattern. Let's send it back to you guys in New York.
PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, Reynolds.
WOLF: You bet.
PHILLIPS: Well, would you drive to work with a total stranger if it got you there faster and it saved you money? We sent our correspondents out for the answers in the great commuter race, part two. We'll have the results coming up.
ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, solar power for a dark industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of a funeral parlor runs on solar energy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even my best friends told me I was nuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Even the funeral business is going green. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still paying half of what I was paying three years ago for my electric.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: The death of high energy bill, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: Well, it may be the only place where a slug can win a race. Washington.
Each weekday morning in northern Virginia, 50 miles outside of D.C., hundreds of commuters known as slugs stand in line to hitch a ride into the city with complete strangers. Why? So the drivers can fly to work in carpool lanes, of course.
Well, doesn't that hurt with these gas prices? Well, it doesn't hurt with the gas prices either. But in this latest edition of the great commuter race, our Zain Verjee, Tom Foreman, and Jamie McIntyre step away from their regular beats just to see if this system works.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The slug line is a place where people who want a free ride into town meet drivers who want to use the carpool lane.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I am the slug looking for a free ride.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to get to work the old fashion way, slugging through traffic.
FOREMAN: And I'm going to pick up a slug and sail right past him.
VERJEE: No, you won't.
FOREMAN: Yes, I will.
MCINTYRE: What time have you got? Synchronize your watch.
MCINTYRE: It's not just about winning. It's about comfort, convenience, and cost.
FOREMAN: Hi, Union Station. So long, suckers!
VERJEE: Everyone is very quiet here.
FOREMAN: HOV lane. We're going. There goes Jamie already. I think he just took the wrong turn.
MCINTYRE: First thing we've done is make a wrong turn just to give them a little bit of a head start.
VERJEE: Yes, sure.
FOREMAN: So you've been slugging for 26 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
FOREMAN: You've saved a lot of money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. Money and also time.
VERJEE: So it's kind of a win/win situation. I mean, you get into the HOV lane, the slug hangs out and gets a free ride.
FOREMAN: What are sort of the rules of slugging?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First come, first serve.
VERJEE: Is a slug allowed to eat?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, they're not.
FOREMAN: Someone is calling here. Let's see what's going on.
Tom? I can't tell you how far ahead we are. It's unbelievable.
MCINTYRE: Do you know what our speed is right now? Zero miles per hour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traffic and weather together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 395 delays from the beltway to King Street.
FOREMAN: Thank you. Nice meeting you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Tom. Thank you very much.
FOREMAN: I'll see you back in the slug line today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
FOREMAN: All right.
This is sweet because look at this, we're like two blocks away from my own office. He got a ride for nothing. I got in town in half or less the time that it would normally take.
VERJEE: 7:47. Took us 20 minutes to get here, and we're going to pop out and walk to CNN.
MCINTYRE: 7:57 a.m., we're just crossing the 14th Street Bridge. And now, it's just one long, hard slug to work.
FOREMAN: Here goes the winner.
MCINTYRE: Zain, how are you?
VERJEE: Where are you?
MCINTYRE: I'm a couple of blocks from the bureau.
VERJEE: Well, you were going to be there about the same time, but I'm just walking leisurely.
MCINTYRE: I'll see you soon. I think I have a chance.
VERJEE: I'm going to die.
FOREMAN: Look who comes showing up here.
VERJEE: Thank you.
FOREMAN: You're very welcome. How was your ride?
VERJEE: Well, it was a pretty good ride. I mean, it was relaxing. It was kind of cool.
MCINTYRE: Synchronize our watches.
FOREMAN: Wow. Synchronize our watches is right. So mine was the fastest, yours was the cheapest --
FOREMAN: And yours was the slowest and most expensive.
MCINTYRE: And most expensive.
VERJEE: And most expensive.
MCINTYRE: And most frustrating.
FOREMAN: It was really interesting just to watch the people line up.
FOREMAN: Get in the cars, and take off.
VERJEE: And the whole thing about the rules and the etiquette, you know. I mean, that really does come into play.
FOREMAN: Here's to us.
VERJEE: Here's to us.
FOREMAN: Another commuter challenge.
FOREMAN: See you on the ride home.
PHILLIPS: Zain Verjee, why didn't you win?
VERJEE: Well, Kyra, the whole problem was that my driver dropped me about 20 minutes away from the bureau, so I had to run all the way down here in high heels, Kyra. You know what that's like.
PHILLIPS: Oh, yes, it's not very comfortable. But you know, I have to ask you this question. How do you know you're not getting into the car with a nut job?
VERJEE: Well, exactly. That was one of the first things I asked a woman who picked us all up and she said, you know, everyone thinks she's crazy to do it, but she said actually there are rules, it's a very organized system, everyone is cool. But she hasn't heard of a problem. And, you know, I guess you don't really know, but everyone we've talked to say it's safe and it's fine.
PHILLIPS: And what's stuck out to you the most? Would you do it again?
VERJEE: Yes. You know, I think I would. I mean, it was totally free. I sat in the car, someone else drove and had to navigate the traffic.
But what struck me really was the rules, you know. I mean, when you're actually in the car, you can't really eat and make a mess. You can't chitchat on the cell phone, you know, to your mates.
You can't say please turn off the air conditioning and turn up the music and, you know, you can't create a scene. You just have to be quiet like a mouse and just get on with it.
VERJEE: So that was hard.
PHILLIPS: That was difficult for Zain Verjee, exactly. All right, that was great. It was fun to watch.
VERJEE: Thanks, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Zain.
VERJEE: It was fun to do. I challenged the boys to a rematch, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: I would hope so. And lose the heels, OK? VERJEE: OK.
PHILLIPS: All right. What do you say, John?
ROBERTS: This is a system no question that favors the slugger and not the sluggee.
PHILLIPS: Yes, that's true.
ROBERTS: And then there's a slugger, which was Jamie, as well.
And the other person who picks up the slug, I think you got it made there.
Coming up next, oil prices going through the roof. Is normal market trading driving them up, or is there something fishy going on? The government is investigating, and guess what?
The price of oil is coming down. A way to find out what regulators are looking for.
PHILLIPS: And solar savings. Saving green by going green. See how much money you can actually save by going to solar power. A live report straight ahead.
ROBERTS: And later on, seeing the Brooklyn Bridge from Tower Bridge. A transatlantic tunnel with a giant telescope at both ends. Is this thing for real? We see for ourselves ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: Price of oil just under $125 a barrel this morning. Down more than $10 from last week. Now the U.S. oil markets are under investigation on allegations of price manipulation.
Professor Michael Greenberger of the University of Maryland joins me now. He's a former member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is handling the investigation. Good morning, professor. Good to see you.
MICHAEL GREENBERGER, FMR. DIR. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMM: Good morning. How are you?
PHILLIPS: Very good.
Just in simple terms, can you tell us exactly what the CFTC is looking at?
GREENBERGER: Almost certainly what they're looking at is as a result of Enron pushing for having energy futures contracts being done outside of the United States regulatory purview. There is a theory that has gained momentum among economists and market observers that the price of crude oil is being driven up not by supply/demand principles in whole, but by speculators who are using what are called dark markets, markets that can't be watched by the public or regulators, to manipulate the price of crude oil and, therefore, gasoline and heating oil in an upward direction.
VELSHI: Professor, tell us about these. If we say dark markets -- I mean, when we trade a stock on the New York Stock Exchange, you think the stock exchange governs that and the Securities and Exchange Commission. In this case you can trade oil in some places where the CFTC is the authority and in some places where it's not?
GREENBERGER: Exactly. It would be as if you said you could trade stocks on the New York Stock Exchange but you could also trade stocks somewhere where the Security Exchange Commission had no idea what was going on. And at the behest of Enron in late 2000 and a lame duck Congress, this kind of unregulated trading was permitted.
Ever since it was put into play, there have been serious dysfunctions in these markets, and many people, including George Soros, most famously, this last -- early this week had said that these speculators have driven up the price of crude oil and, therefore, the price of gasoline in these unregulated markets.
PHILLIPS: Well, professor, let me ask -- let me ask you, you keep talking about the unregulated. I mean, we know that the oil industry is a dirty market. So could the end result of all of this finally be lower gas prices?
GREENBERGER: Absolutely. In fact, yesterday the CFTC began announcing this at 11:00 in the morning. Oil was close to $135. By the end of the day, it was down to $126 after the announcement of the investigation. The traders now know that someone is looking over their shoulder and their manipulative practice, their phony sales, are being watched.
And in one day there was the biggest drop in 2 1/2 months.
GREENBERGER: So this will...
PHILLIPS: We immediately saw the impact.
GREENBERGER: And not only that, but the dollar strengthened.
GREENBERGER: So this is a very important, significant event. The Bush administration had been saying up to yesterday this was all supply/demand. But now there's a recognition of what many of us have been saying is that investment banks, hedge funds, and wealthy investors in dark corners of these markets are taking money out of the consumers' pockets.
PHILLIPS: Yes, and now it's being exposed. We're seeing the result.
Professor Michael Greenberger, University of Maryland, thank you so much.
And Ali, you've been talking about this for weeks now.
PHILLIPS: And just to button it, I mean, it's interesting. He points out the dollar strengthening as well.
VELSHI: That's right. And we know that those go -- they go in opposite directions. When the oil goes down, the dollar strengthens. When the dollar goes down, oil strengthens. So that's absolutely right. The question is how much speculation will we see in this market.
We'll keep an eye on it.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Ali.
ROBERTS: Thirty-one and a half minutes after the hour. Now for a quick look at your top stories today.
China is evacuating an additional 40,000 people near the unstable dam that was created by this month's earthquake, bringing the total number of people evacuated to 200,000, and there could be more. Officials will soon begin practicing a plan to evacuate another 1.3 million people.
The Democrats' top two leaders are taking the delegate dispute into their own hands. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid say they are now calling uncommitted superdelegates and they're urging them to make up their minds by next week instead of waiting until the convention in August.
And the Texas Supreme Court has upheld a decision that will send more than 400 children back to their parents in a polygamist compound. The court backed last week's appellate court ruling which said the state had no authority to remove the kids. The spokesman for the polygamist sect said the parents were taken advantage of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLI JESSOP, FLDS SPOKESMAN: The people tried with everything they had to comply and to be cooperative to the authorities. They used that cooperation to exploit us and tear our children apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: It's not known just how quickly the children will be returned.
Skyrocketing gasoline prices may be getting the headlines, but energy costs are also rising. And many Americans are looking for ways to be more energy efficient.
One family on business found savings through solar power. And our Deborah Feyerick joins us with more on that.
Good morning to you. DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, John.
Well, imagine cutting your energy bills not by a few pennies but by a few hundred dollars each month. More and more people are doing it. Here's how.
FEYERICK (voice over): Bob Prout's grandfather started this family-owned funeral parlor in 1920. It's changed a lot since then.
(On camera): Did people look at you and say, you're crazy. What kind of a funeral parlor runs on solar energy?
BOB PROUT, DIRECTOR, PROUT FUNERAL HOME: Even my best friends told me I was nuts.
FEYERICK: But when you talk to people now, what is their reaction?
PROUT: Now that the energy costs have sort of skyrocketed, now that people are getting their bills, I've gotten a much warmer reception.
FEYERICK (voice over): Proud installed 114 solar panels on his roof three years ago before the price of oil reached $135 a barrel and before rates in his town rose dramatically.
PROUT: When you factor in the tremendous rate increases, I'm still paying half of what I was paying three years ago for my electric.
FEYERICK: Prout says he produces about three-quarters of his electrical needs for his business and home upstairs. Every hour each individual solar panel produces enough energy for more than two 75- watt bulbs.
(On camera): The energy flows directly into the house and can be used immediately for things like lights or air conditioning. Whatever is not used is then sent out over the grid and is bought by the power company.
(Voice over): The power company gets renewable energy to sell to consumers, and Prout gets paid, last year making some $5,400.
(On camera): Technically your energy may be in any of these wires...
PROUT: That's correct.
FEYERICK: ... that's running around here.
PROUT: Absolutely correct. That could be used at that building or the next building down the street. Who knows where it goes.
FEYERICK (voice over): Under the state's clean energy program, New Jersey helped pay for the panels which cost $140,000. Prout's share, $60,000. He's already cut his electrical bills some months by more than half.
PROUT: February was $259, $173 in March.
FEYERICK: Prout plans to add more panels by the end of the year.
PROUT: And I'd like to see how low I could get the bill.
FEYERICK: Now the (INAUDIBLE) cost to renewable energy systems like solar panels are expensive but because many states are starting to require a portion of energy come from renewable sources, states are offering generous rebates and incentive to help pay -- to help people pay for the systems.
Even Bob Prout -- he took out a $60,000 loan. He expects to pay it back in five years, not 10 years as he originally thought. So he's making money.
ROBERTS: So if you're the average homer and you decide I want to go solar, at least as an adjunct to heat the home and provide some electricity, how much does it cost?
FEYERICK: It's definitely not going to be as much as this particular home because he has 114 panels. The average home needs about four to 10. So for you and I it'll be a lot less.
ROBERTS: Interesting story.
Deb, thanks very much. Good to see you this morning -- Kyra?
PHILLIPS: Scott McClellan called out by a strong critic of the Bush administration. What does Florida congressman, Robert Wexler, want to know from the president's former mouthpiece under oath? We're going to ask him.
ROBERTS: And do you ever wonder what your chances are of developing diabetes or getting cancer? Well, now you can through genetic testing but just how reliable is it and could it be used against you? Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a look.
PHILLIPS (voice over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, London.
PHILLIPS: Seeing across the Atlantic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like time travel. My son told me not to lean in too far, I might end up in London.
PHILLIPS: A high-tech gadget that links London to Brooklyn. Taking a look inside the cross-continent telescope. Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Coming up on 39 minutes after the hour, and this just in to CNN.
A landmark treaty just adopted in Dublin, Ireland. After 12 days of negotiations, 111 nations came to an agreement on a treaty to ban cluster bombs. This included Britain and this actually broke the log jam when on Wednesday British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the UK would withdraw from service and deployment all of its cluster munitions.
Cluster munitions, by the way -- they come out of an aircraft as one bomb, as you can see there, then they broke open into hundreds of tiny bomblets, create a great and wide swathe of destruction. Some of them also lay in wait. They have what are called proximity fuses on them.
They come down -- some of them -- on little parachutes and they will sit in neighborhoods. And they're meant to when a troop carrier or even soldiers walk close by, because of this proximity fuse the vibration given off, they'll explode.
Children, though, in some of these war torn regions often mistake them for toys and pick them up and then they're either maimed or killed. And you can see just the destructive power there.
While 111 countries agree to a ban on these munitions, the United States and some of the other biggest users of these bombs did not attend the talks. In fact, they boycotted them. So it's unlikely that this is going to have much of an effect, at least in war time, on the deployment of these munitions.
But again a landmark treaty reached today. 111 countries agreeing in Dublin after 12 days of negotiations to ban the use of cluster munitions. It also calls for them destroy existing stock piles within eight years and fund programs to that clear old battlefields of cluster munitions.
PHILLIPS: The Dow Chemical hikes prices on a slew of product. And that means you're going to pay more for just about everything right now.
Ali Velshi is here to explain exactly what we would be paying more for.
VELSHI: Yes, high fuel prices really give us an education on how much of a role it plays. We think about the gas station, but really check your closets. You're going to see a lot of things that are made by companies called Dow Chemicals or by Proctor & Gamble, or Unilever or Kimberly-Clark, your -- a lot of your paper products.
Well, Dow Chemicals is a supplier of basic materials to many of these companies. And many of those basic materials use petroleum or other things that have gone up in price recently. Dow has announced that on Sunday it is instituting a 20 percent hike across the board -- 20 percent price increase across the board.
It gave its clients four days notice of this. They say it's to offset the cost of energy and raw materials. And some of these companies, as I said, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Kimberly-Clark. So those products you buy are going to become more expensive.
Dow says that in 2002 it spent $8 billion on energy and feed stock. In 2008 they're expecting it to be $32 billion.
Some of the basic products, by the way, that will be affected, and the list is much longer than this -- car wax, paint, dry cleaning, stockings, paper and packaging, so everything is getting more expensive because of the price of fuel.
ROBERTS: Ali, thank you for the update on that.
PHILLIPS: Al Qaeda on the run. The CIA this morning now telling us about a list of successes in the war against America's biggest enemy. We're going to tell you about it in a live report from the Pentagon coming up.
ROBERTS: And it may be hard to believe but a tribe isolated from the modern world until now has been photographed. The striking images and the remote area where they were found. Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
PHILLIPS: A new law signed by President Bush just last week prohibits employers from using genetic information in decisions on hiring, firing, pay, or promotion, and it also forbids health insurers from requiring a genetic test.
ROBERTS: That clears a way for people who might have wanted to get genetic testing but declined out of fear that they could lose their jobs or insurance coverage.
CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.
Sounds like good news, Sanjay.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. And I think, you know, this genetic nondiscrimination act is going to be a real shot in the arm. Many people have been talking about genetic testing for sometime now, but there was a lot of fear, as you mentioned, John.
Look, we talk about preventive strategies on this show all the time. Eating right, exercising, but this idea of personal DNA mapping might take this to a whole new level.
GUPTA (voice over): Alzheimer's, heart attack, cancer. If any of those are part of your genetic destiny, would you really want to know? (On camera): So I decided to get my own DNA tested. With a simple swab of the cheek services like these today can tell you your risk for dozens of diseases. They can also give you other information like your ancestry, your race, even whether or not you get your eye color from your mom or your dad.
(Voice over): More than 30 companies offer personal DNA mapping. It costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. I sent a sample to four of them. Generally, the results are available within two to four weeks.
(On camera): Now most people can get their results confidentially online, but I decided to come here to this store front and talk to a genetic counselor. I got to tell you, I don't know my results yet and it's a little bit nerve-racking. So let's take a look.
(Voice over): It's all laid out on screen. Orange boxes indicate increased risk. Gray boxes mean average or even lower than average risk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not a diagnosis. This is not destiny. It is really giving you some information so that you can focus your health care. You can focus your preventive strategies.
GUPTA (on camera): It's really remarkable to get this sort of information. Your life laid out in orange boxes and gray boxes. What surprised me, colon cancer, psoriasis, crone's disease, elevated risk. I'm also at elevated risk for heart disease and diabetes. That wasn't very surprising at all.
(Voice over): Other findings? I'm more likely to be lactose intolerant or have wet ear wax rather than dry ear wax -- that was surprising -- and have an increased sensitivity to pain. So say the results from 23andMe.
While different companies came up with similar genetic profiles, one company put me at lower risk for crone's disease, not higher.
Maybe the science hasn't quite caught up to the promise of deciphering your own DNA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may never be the strongest part of your medical history, but there will be a tipping point where everybody wants it to be part of their medical history.
GUPTA: Now -- right now as you might imagine, this isn't a common practice, sort of a luxury item still, and we've only gotten to the point where it may not tell you much more than your family history can already tell you. But it's going to get better. As they identify more and more gene markers, they are going to get more information. Very interesting.
You know, it's -- would you guys do it? I don't know. It was an interesting sort of process for me.
PHILLIPS: I definitely would do it.
ROBERTS: It is a little frightening, but Kyra has concerns...
PHILLIPS: Why does it always come back to ear wax with the three of us? Could you just -- please tell me. And by the way, cute photos. You were adorable little chubby kid.
All right. As we saw there in your piece, Sanjay...
GUPTA: Pardon my genes, thank you, yes.
PHILLIPS: ... there is some variation between what each company can find, so how are the risks for these or how are these risks for disease actually calculated?
GUPTA: Yes, it's worth pointing out again that two companies told me almost the exact opposite thing regarding my risk for colon cancer. One said I was higher, one said I was lower than average. So it's not perfect yet by any means.
The way it works is they identify certain markers that make you more at risk for something. So right now there may be, you know, three markers, say, and that gives you a certain statistical sort of significance.
If one day they have thousands of markers for colon cancer -- and I have 999 -- they're going to say with very reliable confidence I am at tremendously increased risk. Again, they're not there yet, but this genetic nondiscrimination act I think is really going to pave the road.
People were fearful to sort of go down this path. It's going to be opened up much more than before.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, Sanjay.
ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks very much. Interesting.
GUPTA: Thanks, guys. All right.
PHILLIPS: And you can catch Dr. Gupta this weekend on his own show "HOUSE CALL." It airs Saturday and Sunday mornings, 8:30 Eastern right here on CNN.
ROBERTS: A window across the world. Can a 40-foot telescope really let New Yorkers see London and vice versa? We're going to give it a whirl, coming up next.
ROBERTS: Linking Big Ben and the Brooklyn Bridge. New Yorkers can now see what people are doing all the way in London in real time through a giant apparatus called the telectroscope. It was only a figment of fiction until now. We sent our Richard Roth down to the Brooklyn Bridge to see if it's for real.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dying to see London this summer and can't afford it? Just come to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, and I'm not trying to sell you something.
Behold the amazing 37-foot long telectroscope and through this tube you can actually see London.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's cold. It is cold.
ROTH: Or at least whoever happens to be lining up in London looking back at us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, London.
ROTH: Project supporters like to tell people it's possible courtesy of a trans-Atlantic tunnel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son told me not to lean in too far, I might end up in London.
ROTH: It's really a camouflaged camera using fiber optic connections. The artist says it's much more.
PAUL ST. GEORGE, ARTIST: It's the people that really complete the project. So this project is part art, part performance, part theater.
ROTH: That's because there is no audio connection, so people wave, kiss, or even dance. The preferred method is message writing to strangers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, London. Best wishes from us Brooklynites. I should have said "Hello, Londoners" but I didn't think of it as I was writing it.
ROTH: Other messages included, "How do we know your British?" and "Has anyone seen 'Sex and the City?'"
PETER KOHLMANN, N.Y. EXHIBIT PRODUCER: The social experience in itself is something that I didn't even think would happen, that people come here and look at these other people as a group and see things.
ROTH: These British visitors in New York made an appointment to see a friend in London, but there's a much longer line over there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a two hour queue here. I'm a half hour away.
ROTH (on camera): What is she pointing at?
(Voice over): I was getting lonely so CNN asked anchorwoman Becky Anderson to go to London Bridge so I could send a message.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN LONDON: Oh now I can see, "Why is it raining? Because we're in England, Richard. Do you know that? Don't wind us up.
ROTH (voice over): I appealed for more on-air time.
ANDERSON: Putt me on the air more. Tell him he needs to do some decent packages, then we will.
ROTH (on camera): I know you aren't used to talking to me without a teleprompter so this must be difficult for you through this tube.
(Voice over): Maybe it is better there is no audio. Leave your passport at home.
ROTH: Now there's no line at this hour in Brooklyn but in London there always seems to be more people. If we can take a look, they're waving. But it's very hard sometimes with the sun to see exactly what is being said there and it tends to freeze up occasionally.
I have a message for people in London this morning. I'm just simply sending a message that New York is better. I'm going to show it to them and maybe they'll have a reaction. But that's what's happening here at this trans-Atlantic portal.
ROBERTS: You know...
ROTH: They're reading it and they seem excited.
PHILLIPS: Leave it to Mr. Roth.
ROTH: Thumbs down. We're getting a thumbs down.
ROBERTS: With diplomatic skills like that, Richard...
ROTH: Thumbs down in London this morning so.
ROBERTS: ... how did you ever end up covering the United Nations?
ROTH: Well, sometimes -- what is it called -- jaw boning, John? You got to get tough with people at times. Velvet glove approach.
By the way, I think I see a woman there. I think it's Queen Elizabeth, but I'm not sure. I can't confirm that.
ROBERTS: Richard, have fun this morning. Thanks so much.
ROBERTS (voice over): Bombshell fallout. A House Democrat wants Scott McClellan to talk about White House deception under oath. We talked to Congressman Robert Wexler live.
Plus, final say.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is going down to the wire.
ROBERTS: A pivotal day on politics on tap. How the DNC could end a civil war this weekend.
It's the most politics in the morning.
ROBERTS: Deception, dirty tricks, and propaganda. Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan says the Bush administration used these weapons to build support for a war. Now a strong critic of the administration wants to haul McClellan to the Hill and get it all under oath.
Florida congressman, Robert Wexler, joins me now live from Washington.
Congressman Wechsler, you want him up there before the House Judiciary Committee. What do you want to hear about?
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: Well, Mr. McClellan has made some startling revelations in his book, and the House Judiciary Committee is currently investigating several areas of concern with respect to the administration, including the firing of district attorneys, the outing of the former CIA covert agent Valerie Plame.
Also issues with respect to the veracity of the administration with respect to a whole host of issues, including the intelligence that brought us to war in Iraq. And what I think would be very appropriate for the American people to learn is, under oath, what, in fact, happened in this White House with respect to these and other matters.
And what this is a part of, of course, is an ongoing effort by the Bush administration to refuse to allow its important officials to come before the House Judiciary Committee. So this might be a good opportunity to begin to get real relevant information out to the public.
ROBERTS: There's this one particular nugget in this book which is very interesting, and this goes to the idea of who knew what when regarding the CIA leak investigation and where it was authorized.
This is what Scott McClellan writes. He says, quote, "I told the president that's what the reporter is asking you about." He's saying, "You yourself were the one who authorized the leaking of this information, and he said, 'Yes, I did.'"
If that's accurate, that's pretty big news. WEXLER: Well, it is big news, and I don't want to prejudge anything. That would be the whole point of Mr. McClellan coming before the committee and speaking under oath. These are matters that should be looked into, inquired into in the most sober of ways.
And what it will allow, because the administration has always called for different kinds of privileges to avoid their officials testifying, but because Mr. McClellan has put all this information in a book, these privileges, I do not believe, would be available to the administration, so we would have a free flow of information.
ROBERTS: So you don't expect him to fight either an invitation or a subpoena to appear before the committee?
WEXLER: Well, I wouldn't know whether they would fight it, but the point is being that Mr. McClellan has written a book, he's appearing on television now in countless numbers of ways, the American people deserve to know under oath what is true and what isn't.
What this administration engaged in in terms of a conspiracy to obstruct justice and with respect to the type of items that you talked about.
ROBERTS: Just want to change gears, if I could here, Congressman. This DNC rules committee meeting that's going to go on tomorrow to decide what to do about Florida and Michigan, you will be appearing on behalf of the Obama campaign arguing their point about Florida.
What are you going to tell the committee? What do you think is a fair way to resolve this situation?
WEXLER: Well, nothing is more important to me than making certain that Floridians have their voice and they are represented at the Democratic convention, and that is Senator Barack Obama's position.
Senator Obama has stated, as he campaigned in Florida three days last week, that Florida will be represented. And as we speak...
ROBERTS: But what's the formula? What's the formula that you think is fair?
WEXLER: As we speak, the Obama campaign is negotiating to create a consensus so that Florida can go to the convention and be a significant part of the convention and at the same time unify the Democratic Party, so that we can go into the general election unified.
ROBERTS: But what's fair? Do you split the delegates 50-50? Do you allocate based on the vote there? How would you do it?
WEXLER: Well, that, of course, is going to be up to the rules and bylaws committee of the DNC. The lawyers for the rules committee have said that their maximum allowable reinstatement is 50 percent of the delegates.
ROBERTS: All right. Congressman Robert Wexler, thanks for being with us this morning. We'll be watching to see...
WEXLER: Thank you.
ROBERTS: ... if you get Scott McClellan up there to the Hill.
WEXLER: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Breaking news out of China now. Officials there beginning to practice a plan to evacuate more than a million people living near the unstable dam created by this month's earthquake.
So far we're told that 200,000 people have been evacuated and official death toll is now at 68,858 people. Meantime crews say that rain and chemical fire are slowing earthquake recovery effort.