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New Drama Over Elian Gonzalez; Midwest Flooding: One Town's Misery Could Be Another's Salvation; High School Students Make a Pact to Get Pregnant

Aired June 20, 2008 - 13:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Eight long years after Elian Gonzalez went back to Cuba, his Miami relatives are still laying blame. And you won't believe their biggest target. Big drama in Little Havana this hour.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So here's what one flood victim in Missouri says, if you ain't scared, then you're a fool. But one town's misery could be another's salvation as levee breaks lessen the pressure downstream.

PHILLIPS: Why would high school sophomores make a pact to get pregnant? Parents and teachers everywhere taking note of a teen mom clique in Massachusetts. We'll hear from the head of the school district.

Hello everyone, I'm Kyra Phillips live in New York.

LEMON: It is an unbelievable story, isn't it, Kyra? A whole pact of this. Just crazy stuff.

And I'm Don Lemon, you're live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

OK, so he was a little boy who became political fodder in the 2000 presidential campaign. Today Elian Gonzalez is back in Cuba, but his Miami relatives want people to know they haven't forgotten him nor those they fought legal battles against who now are helping Barack Obama.

Our Susan Candiotti joins us now from Miami with the very latest on this. Hi Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Don.

You know, we can take a live picture right now, I think, of what's happening outside of the house where Elian Gonzalez used to live when he was with his family here in Miami in the Little Havana section of Miami. And you know, this is the second time in recent days this week that Elian has been in the news.

This week, we learned that Elian, now 14-years-old has just joined the Young Communist Union. And now Elian's Miami uncle, who is standing among the crowd of people there is taking aim at Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's -- two of his advisers for their role in the boy's return to communist Cuba. Now, Eric Holder is one of those two people. At the time, he was working for U.S. attorney general Janet Reno who of course supported Elian's return to his father in Cuba. And now Holder is helping Obama decide who should be his running mate. Also, they're taking aim at Gregory Craig who represented Elian's dad. He used to be counsel to President Clinton during his impeachment.

Now, Elian's Miami uncle is indicating that by associating himself with those two advisers, that Obama is showing poor judgment. Obama you may recall, agrees with Senator McCain that the decades old economic embargo against Cuba should remain in place.

But this is where Obama differs from McCain, Obama feels as though the family visitation should be loosened up and they should be allowed regularly as opposed to McCain who supports the current embargo on that, limited to every three years.

Now the timing of all of this, well, Senator Obama is expected to be in Miami tomorrow to speak to the U.S. conference of mayors. And right now you have that group outside Elian's house. We'll be hearing more from them later today.

LEMON: All right Susan, thank you very much for that report.

PHILLIPS: Well, the Obama campaign says that one week from today Obama and his former rival Hillary Clinton will campaign together. Suzanne Malveaux has been following this story for us. Suzanne, what does each of these individuals need to do to make this work?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Kyra, obviously some people are already calling this the Obama-Clinton unity tour, but nobody's singing Kumbaya just quite yet. They both obviously have some work to do ahead here.

On the Clinton side, they make this point that they're going to be campaigning together a week from today. And they say, look, she has a lot of big donors, a lot of people. She could bring in anywhere from $50 to $100 million fundraising for Barack Obama. They also make the case that the more time she spends campaigning with Obama, the less time she has to do this fundraising.

The Obama side, they are looking at this and they desperately need those supporters. The female vote. Union workers, Hispanics, those are all people, different constituencies that Obama camp has been working very hard to capture these last couple of weeks. They really see a tradeoff here.

And Kyra, talking to those who talk regularly to both of these candidates, they say this is not about friendship here. This is really about political accommodation. This is about both of them getting what they need. Hillary Clinton looking to her political future, Barack Obama looking to the immediate future to try to win the White House -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: I know you're always working your sources. What are you hearing behind the scenes? MALVEAUX: Well, there's still some tension here. There's no question about it. They sat down a couple of weeks ago privately as you know, a one hour meeting, ditched the media, all of us, to get comfortable with one another. What we're going to look at is the body language.

We've heard Barack Obama speak very well of her, talk about this being a historic campaign. We've heard Hillary Clinton come out and say very flattering things about Barack Obama. But there is this tension over the money, over the debt here. Some $20 million plus that needs to be paid off. There's some frustration that the Obama camp has not come up with a dollar figure at this point. They've offered to help, but there's nothing yet in concrete that's set in stone.

Those discussions continue. And until those discussions kind of get wrapped up when it comes to the dollar figure, there's still going to be some tension between these two. But Hillary Clinton is making that political calculation that for her future she needs to step out here, she needs to show that she supports Barack Obama, Barack Obama needs to show that, yes, he needs her, he needs her voters.

PHILLIPS: All right, Suzanne Malveaux live from D.C., thanks Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

LEMON: Well, from Iowa to Illinois to Missouri, the power of the water is still too great, too many levees are still too weak or too short. Already more than 20 levees on the bulging Mississippi have failed to hold back the floods. Downstream people are shoring up dozens more and so far, the flooding is blamed for 24 deaths.

Tens of thousands of people in six states are out of their homes and millions of acres of farmland are more like swampland now. The latest levee breaches just east of Winfield, Missouri outside St. Louis. The town's hoping a second levee will keep some of the flood waters at bay.

CNN's Reynolds Wolf is there. Reynolds, how is it going today?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's going pretty good right now. Right now what we're doing is we're filling these sandbags, filling the sandbags, got a little bit of a break in the action right now. Here we go, from Courtney, to me, to Hans, to Elaine, all the way down the line, loads up on a pallet, and there it goes. The spirit here is great.

We still have flood warnings in this particular area but they're doing what they can. Every single sandbag, every single handout. Here you go Hans, here you go Elaine, it's almost like a triple play combination. That's what we're doing here. We're trying to do what we can to help everybody. Do you have any problems in your particular home, do you have any flooding going on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not no (INAUDIBLE). WOLF: But you're here anyway?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, we heard about it on the bull on 96.7 the bull that they were going out to Clarksville, it was a little bit too far for us to drive, so we decided to come out and see what we could do.

WOLF: Oh, very cool, well, I'm glad you came out here. Here you go Hans. You're not from here, are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: St. Peters.

WOLF: But it sounds like you have an accent, I don't think it's a Jersey accent. Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Originally from Berlin, Germany. They're good, I'm here.

WOLF: (INAUDIBLE) on a day like today. There's no question. The sun continues to come down, the temperatures are going up, it's very humid out here Don. But I'll tell you, it is still a beautiful and very cool thing to see everybody working so hard for this common effort.

Things are going better for us, the forecast not quite as bad as we originally anticipated. But still, no one's letting up until the waters go down big time. Hopefully that's going to be the situation this weekend. It's not just this group, we've got a bunch of guys over here, how are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, how are you?

WOLF: Is the sun bothering you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit.

WOLF: The hat, I love it. It's keeping you away from the heat and that's certainly a good thing to keep the sun off of you. Guys, you holding up pretty good?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, it's for a good cause.

WOLF: There you go, a good cause. That's the mantra. Everybody here is happy, going for a good cause, neighbor helping neighbor. People from counties away, communities away all coming together. And we're going to come together and send it back to you in the NEWSROOM where its nice air-conditioning and you guys are dry now.

LEMON: Yeah, but you know what, you're doing a great job out there Reynolds Wolf, not only with your reporting, but helping out. I'm sure those folks are glad to have you there. As they are all the other volunteers. Thank you very much, Reynolds, we'll check back with you throughout the day here.

Upstream about 30 miles in Clarksville, Missouri, site of a huge manmade wall. Can it save the town? That's the question. Well, CNN's Ed Lavandera is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you stand here behind this wall of sand bags, it almost gives you a feeling like you're inside a bunker that this is really the only thing separating you from a huge and intense onslaught of water from the Mississippi River.

This is a stack in a line of sandbags that stretches down all the way the front part of this town of Clarksville, Missouri which is just upstream from St. Louis. This is the last line of defense for this town because there is no levee system here.

We've talked a lot about in recent days all of the levees in various parts of the Mississippi River in this region that have had levee failures, well this is a town where if anything fails it's going to be the sandbags and that's what people here have been working around the clock. They have actually also set up many of these water pumps that continue to move water that has seeped back over on to this side, taking it back into the Mississippi River so it can go downstream.

We also see some National Guard soldiers there at the end refortifying parts of the wall as well. Even though they feel like they have won this battle and that they're doing pretty well. And we see water levels going down a little bit here this morning and into this afternoon. They do feel like things are starting to look better. But there is still work that needs to be done to make sure that the Mississippi River doesn't burst here and get into the main part of this area.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Clarksville, Missouri.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: He once spoke for the president, today he's speaking under oath on Capitol Hill. You'll remember Scott McClellan, his White House memoirs slammed his former boss and many of his former colleagues.

Our Ed Henry joins me now with McClellan's testimony about the leak of a CIA agent's identity. And my guess is we're going to hear a lot more besides that subject matter, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Kyra. In fact, Scott McClellan sworn in and under oath for the first time there on Capitol Hill testifying about the claims in his book about his allegations, basically, that President Bush and top aids here at the White House led what McClellan calls a propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq.

I can tell you they're claiming indifference here at the White House. And Scott McClellan's former friends, former colleagues, Tony Frado, a current White House spokesman saying quote, "I think Scott has probably told everyone everything he doesn't know. Not that they're tired of Scott McClellan or anything, can you feel that chill? Basically saying look, he was out of the loop, we don't care what he has to say. So they're trying to say that they're indifferent about it all.

But McClellan is testifying and basically saying while he does not have evidence and does not know whether any White House officials actually committed crimes with the actual leak of Valerie Plame's identity, the former CIA agent, he did declare and issue a challenge to the White House saying he believes they're still concealing information about the CIA leak case and it's finally time to come clean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The White House has sought to avoid public scrutiny and accountability. The continuing cloud of suspicion over the White House is not something I can remove because I know only one part of the story. Only those who know the underlying truths can bring this to an end. Sadly, they remain silent.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, cloud of suspicion is one thing, actually having evidence to prove wrong doing obviously is a whole other matter on the issue of the president and what he knew about the CIA leak. Scott McClellan testified today that he believes the president had no knowledge of the leak beforehand.

But as for the vice president, McClellan seemed to leave the door open saying he quote, "I do not know whether he had knowledge of the leak." Again, though, that is not evidence saying he doesn't know. It leaves the door open, but it is not evident that the vice president knew beforehand -- Kyra?

PHILLISP: Ed, you know Scott McClellan well. You grilled him there in the press room. What do you make of all of this? And do you think that other allegations are going to come forward where he'll be testifying again?

HENRY: Well, I think, frankly, if he had more allegations, we would have seen them in the book. There were some sensational claims in there. He tried to come armed with everything he had. So I'd be surprised if there was another dramatic revelation.

On one hand, I'm surprised, still, that Scott McClellan who around here was sort of shy, unassuming, even though he was at the podium, was not very out front and would never get off the talking points, frankly. I'm still surprised he's come out this hard against his former boss and his former colleagues.

But on the other hand, I think when people are clubbing McClellan all the time saying, look, how in the world did he come up with this? Why didn't he speak out sooner? The fact of the matter, it's extremely difficult when you're inside the bubble to actually speak out for fear of losing your job, being ostracized, and with the distance of time, perhaps -- I don't know, I can't read into his mind. But perhaps with the distance of time he's had some second thoughts about some of those things he said at the podium -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Ed Henry, live from the White House. Thanks, Ed.

HENRY: Thank you.

LEMON: And as we've been reporting here on CNN, really an unbelievable story. High school girls start their own club. And get this, to be a member, you've got to be pregnant. And you won't believe who helped at least one of the girls with their initiation.

PHILLIPS: And some chilling news about mars, possible ice found on the red planet. Our Miles O'Brien AKA space guru is here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Let's talk now about some international news, Cuba is moving back into the international fold. The European Union has agreed to lift sanctions on the communist island in hopes of encouraging reforms under the leadership of Fidel Castro's brother Raul. Washington is not happy about that. The U.S. has maintained a decade's long trade embargo against Cuba and says it hasn't seen any significant improvement since Raul took over.

PHILLIPS: Cuban Americans have long voted heavily Republican in part because of that party's hard line stands against Castro. Now that Fidel is moving out of the picture, are Cuban-Americans rethinking their party loyalties?

Our Rick Sanchez went to Miami as part of our continuing look at the league of first-time voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time, I believe, to pursue direct diplomacy with friend and full right, without reconditions. Now there must be -- there must be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. As president, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Any president or person running for president of the United States over the last 50 years in this country who would have said I'm willing to sit down and talk to a Castro would have been (INAUDIBLE) -- am I right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's true.

SANCHEZ: What's changed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not enough for somebody to come to Miami and say viva Cuba libre and wear guayabaras (ph) and say they're going to win us over. I want to hear what they're going to do for our country, the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As younger voters, second and third generation voters want to hear more than just Cuba, Cuba, Cuba because we've heard it all of our lives.

SANCHEZ: Here's a question for you. Raul Castro is now the president of Cuba. It's no longer Fidel Castro, why not talk to this new president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's still a Castro, that's what we have to realize.

SANCHEZ: So you can't negotiate with him and you can't deal with him because his last name is Castro?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation does not -- should not allow for us to just normalize relations right away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that being able to talk to Raul Castro, Obama being able to do that, it's more of a symbolic gesture. Right now the people in Cuba are apathetic about what's going on. You know a lot of them think that nothing's going to happen, nothing's going to change because it's been a lot of the same for the last 45 to 50 years.

And I think if a United States president is so bold as to go over there and ask Raul to have a meeting without any preconditions, OK, we're not saying that all of a sudden the Cuban government's going to change, but everyone in Cuba is going to see that the leader of the free world is coming across, 90 miles from his home country, to go over there and just have a conversation. That is enough support to awaken those dormant feelings of trying to escape this regime for so long.

SANCHEZ: How would that go over in Little Havana? Not well?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that if you open up talks without any preconditions, you're legitimizing a regime that shouldn't be legitimized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our window of opportunity was when there was no one supporting Cuba. Now that there's someone supporting Cuba again, we do not have that leverage of OK come to us and we'll take care of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there should be negotiations without any preconditions because we really don't have the power to insist on preconditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think with a regime that's so symbolic, to put preconditions we will not get to the meeting. And without the meeting we can't get progress. I feel like having points before you get to the table just makes it -- just creates more obstacles to get to the table. A table that we've been trying to get to for years.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: And you can join the league of first time voters by going to cnn.com/league. Join and who knows, maybe Rick will pay a visit to you.

LEMON: All right, listen up parents. High school girls start their own club. And to be a member, you have to get pregnant. And you won't believe who helped at least one of the girls with their initiation.

PHILLIPS: And what's been happening along the Mississippi River is supposed to happen only once in a great while. So why has it happened twice in just 15 years? We'll try to get to the bottom of it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So oil prices are on the rebound, making for a rough day on Wall Street. Now, Stephanie Elam has her eye on the big board from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. How are you doing there, Stephanie?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm doing OK, Don. But the markets are not doing as well. Since the day started we've pretty much seen triple digit losses for the Dow. And you're right, it's all pretty much about oil. Oil is what everyone is talking about.

Yesterday, we were down almost $5 and then pretty much making that recovery today. If this holds true, we stay where we are right now, closing below 12,000, that's the first time we will close below that level since mid March. So we're showing a little bit of a change here.

There's also some stress in the financial sector. You've got Citigroup, Bank of America, both of those stocks coming down, also airline stocks taking a beating too as oil prices rebound. Taking a look at the big board, the Dow off 161 points, 11,901. And take a look at the NASDAQ, it's off 53 at 2,408 at this time -- Don?

LEMON: So you know on top of all of that, some big changes for Ford today, right?

ELAM: Yeah. And they're not changes that anyone wants to hear. Although I'm not too sure that anyone is surprised about what's going on at Ford. They're cutting their production. They're saying we've got to adjust to the fact that gas is $4 a gallon. So therefore consumers are adjusting to it. They're cutting production and they're saying overall, SUVs, trucks, those sales have been really falling down. So Ford is delaying the launch of their F-150 by two months.

Now, the F-150 is actually the top-selling passenger vehicle in America, it was for 11 straight years until May. And so this is just focusing on how the company has had a hard time adjusting to this. And therefore, take a look at truck sales being down 23 percent last year. It just gives you that idea of what's happening there. Also, other changes though, they're going to increase production of the Ford Focus sedan, the Ford Escape, and the Mercury Mariner, the crossover SUV, and saying that the production of Next Generation Ford Focus and Fiesta, those cars will begin in 2010. So overall Ford is revising their product plan as they look at ways to bring their money in.

Now, the other thing about Ford what they said here, they're saying that as you take a look at 2008, they expect it to be worse than 2007. In 2007, they had a loss of $2.7 billion. So their whole idea of becoming profitable again, that is just far gone. It's off the plate right now. They're not even thinking about it. So Ford shares obviously taking a hit on that news.

So we'll continue to keep our eyes on it. And there's a lot of people out there. I'm going to tell you about this in the next hour who are actually eligible, seniors, retirees, eligible to get stimulus checks, but they haven't done it because all they needed to do was one thing in advance. I will tell you what that is in the next hour of NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Oh, really. I'll tell you what that is after the break.

ELAM: Later. Exactly. I want you guys to come back and see me at the NYSE.

LEMON: All right, thank you, Steph.

ELAM: Thanks, Don.

PHILLIPS: Well, what's been happening along the Mississippi River is supposed to happen only once in a great while. Then why has it happened twice in 15 years? We'll try to get to the bottom of it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone, I'm Kyra Phillips live in New York.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

All right, we are working several developing stories for you today in the CNN NEWSROOM, including these pregnant on purpose. A report out of Boston, Massachusetts has parents on edge. It says teenage girls there made a pact to get pregnant.

More violence in Afghanistan, a suicide bomb attack in Helmand Province kills a coalition soldier, an Afghan soldier, and five civilians.

And Israel sends a message. A U.S. military source confirms that Israel staged an aerial exercise over the Eastern Mediterranean. Apparently, to warn Iran to back off its nuclear program.

PHILLIPS: Well, this week's floods rivals the record-breaking floods of 1993, just 15 years ago. Is it coincidence or is something else going on? Nicholas Pinter is a geology professor at Southern Illinois University and a recognized expert on levee construction, river dynamics, and flood forecasts. He joins us live from Washington.

Nicholas, good to see you.

PROF. NICHOLAS PINTER, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY: Thank you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So, let's start there. How can we have another 500- year flood just 15 years after the first one?

PINTER: Right. These 500-year floods or 100-year floods, these are just ways of estimating, of telling us the probability of these events. 500 or 100-year flood just means an extremely improbable or rare event. And the bottom line I would suggest is these numbers are simply wrong. A 500-year flood or nearly so in 1993, a 500-year flood this year, a 100-year flood in 1973, and a nearly 100-year flood in 2001. This is a contradiction in terms. These numbers cannot be correct.

PHILLIPS: Well, you know what else you have said is that -- been a bit of a contradiction. As we've been talking about these levees breaching, these levees breaking and trying to hold the federal government accountable, the Army Corps of Engineers about these levees. But you're actually saying the levees contributed to the problem?

PINTER: Right, my research group has been analyzing for almost a dozen years now systematic trends. It's a very strong signal that floods in the upper Mississippi River and other stretch of the Mississippi or Missouri River system have been getting systematically worse over time. And there are several things that go into that: climate change, land cover changes, river navigation engineering, and the levees themselves have all been kicking flood levels higher up over time.

PHILLIPS: Explain also how navigational engineering has also been contributing to the flooding.

PINTER: So, for example, looking at the upper Mississippi River and zeroing in just as an example at Hannibal, Missouri. 39,000 feet of what are called wing dikes, these are navigational structures, walls in the river have been constructed during the 20th century. These act as large roughness elements blocking a portion of the flow, slowing it down, which drives flood levels higher than what they would otherwise be, about six feet higher in that particular location on the upper Mississippi River.

PHILLIPS: Well, in addition, you also point out that public works projects that are building structures in the river, that is actually caused even more problems?

PINTER: Right, again, different things are being built. There's the river navigational structures to promote the barge industry up and down the Mississippi, Missouri and other rivers within the U.S. And then, there's the additional question of levees that are progressively being built, in particular in the St. Louis area.

PHILLIPS: Well, also the Army Corps of Engineers put together this risk assessment. And I was looking through a number of points that they made. And -- but you're saying that they missed some vital points when assessing the risks here. What did they leave out?

PINTER: In 2005, the Corps of Engineers released a major re- analysis of flood frequencies, flood hazard in the entire upper Mississippi system. And at the time this was released, we studied it closely and suggested that these flood hazard levels are dramatically and systematically underestimated throughout this system.

They basically crossed off any climate change contribution to flooding, any land use change, contribution to flooding during the 20th century and any contribution from the river navigation structures as we've been discussing. The result again is a systematic underestimation of flood levels. We would suggest this year's flood, the current flood is proving that's absolutely correct.

PHILLIPS: Wow, so you're saying that the Army Corps of Engineers would have had those factors in this assessment, that we wouldn't be seeing what we're seeing right now?

PINTER: Well, we'd be seeing the same storm, of course, but we'd have a more realistic assessment that this is not -- cannot be a one in 500-year event. These things have been occurring and will occur in the future much more frequently than we are led to believe.

PHILLIPS: So, final question, Nicholas, does the Army Corps of Engineers need to be just going across the country and assessing every single levee in areas, for example, like here in the Midwest?

PINTER: Looking at the levees, their structural integrity, their protection level is an extremely good thing. What they can also do is stop building things in the river that contribute to higher flood levels, including brand new river structures, constructed, for example, in the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis immediately opposite levees that have -- are just now being decertified in east St. Louis.

PHILLIPS: Nicholas Pinter, geology professor, Southern Illinois University. Interesting prospective. Appreciate your time today.

PINTER: Thank you, Kyra.

LEMON: High school girls start their own club and to be a member, you've got to get pregnant to do it. And you won't believe who helped at least one of the girls with their initiation.

And some chilling news about Mars, possible ice found on the Red Planet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, we're going to try to get to the bottom of a disturbing story, a story that many find disturbing and is really No. 1 at CNN.com. We've been getting a lot of reaction here. It's about teen girls, none of them older than 16-years-old, getting pregnant on purpose at a high school in Massachusetts. They reportedly formed a pact to raise their babies together.

And we get the story from Michelle Relerford of CNN affiliate WHDH.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE RELERFORD, WHDH REPORTER (voice-over): In any town, it's not uncommon to see a group of girls hanging out at the local McDonald's with their friends, but it seems here in Gloucester the sought after accessory isn't a bag or a bracelet, it's a baby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone knows how not to get pregnant. But if it happens, it happens.

RELERFORD: Well, it's happened to 17 Gloucester High School students this school year. That's four times the school's annual average. School administrators say some of the girls got pregnant as part of a pact to have the babies and raise them all together.

CHRISTOPHER FARMER, GLOUCESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPT.: Contraception and its provisions is just a small part of a much broader discussion about how a community responds to this kind of situation.

RELERFORD: It's the kind of situation where the school has a day care to help students take care of their kids. This year, over 150 pregnancy tests were administered by the school's health clinic. The superintendent says the clinic's top healthcare providers resigned when the hospital supporting them would not support a plan to give students birth control. Students say pregnancy is popular because girls are looking for love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they want to have a kid. Maybe that's all they had to live for.

RELERFORD: The solution?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parents need to like, get into their kids' life. Half of the parents around here have no clue what's going on with their kids.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, well, Katie Kingsbury broke the story and she's of our fellow Time Warner property -- media property "TIME" magazine. And she joins us now from New York.

Katie, we appreciate you joining us. We appreciate your reporting.

KATHLEEN KINGSBURY, TIME MAGAZINE: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Yes, you were reporting a story about teen pregnancy and just sort of came upon this story. And your --

KINGSBURY: Right.

LEMON: ...when the principal told you about it, your jaw dropped.

KINGSBURY: Right, absolutely. I went to Gloucester in order to report a story about the controversy regarding handing out the contraceptives at the high school. And I met with the principal, Dr. Sullivan first thing when I arrived. And he told me right away contraceptives really wouldn't have helped in this situation.

LEMON: How do they come about -- obviously, if you want to get pregnant, right, it's not going to help. How did you come about finding out why these kids had this pact? Did you have to do some digging to figure out exactly why? Was it because they -- I read somewhere in your report, I think, they weren't loved and the ...

KINGSBURY: Right.

LEMON: ...babies might provide them unconditional love. They really didn't think it through.

KINGSBURY: Right, absolutely. One thing I heard over and over again in Gloucester were these were girls who had never been taught the consequences of their actions and who didn't have strong parental role models in their homes that taught them the difference between right and wrong.

And one thing that became very clear is that they really didn't have a life plan. They needed some direction in their life. They live in a town where the industry has been slowly disappearing over the past decade and they decided that their role in society was going to be mothers. You know, over and over again, we heard these girls are happy and proud to be young mothers.

LEMON: OK, all right. You also mentioned, you know, movies like "Juno" and "Knocked Up" and ...

KINGSBURY: Right.

LEMON: ...and you see all the Hollywood starlets, some of them married, some of them not. They're under 25-years-old, very young, and they have children. And many of the single mothers in Hollywood have children. Did this play into -- at all when you spoke to these mothers and parents?

KINGSBURY: That's one thing that adults are very worried about. Movies like "Juno" and "Knocked Up," they portray young, unwed mothers in a somewhat glamorous way. And what parents and teachers and other officials in Gloucester told me is is that, you know, Gloucester teens, Gloucester people in general -- young people in general, they need a little glamour in their life. And they hope that motherhood ...

LEMON: Glamour? KINGSBURY: Well, they need, you know, they need something to be happy and excited about. It's a town that's really faced a lot of hardship. And it's a town that really, you know, is in transition.

LEMON: Yes, yes.

KINGSBURY: And this was one way that they could do it.

LEMON: Yes, there's nothing glamorous about having a child. It's a very serious responsibility.

KINGSBURY: Absolutely.

LEMON: Here's what's even more -- this story gets more shocking as we learn more about it.

KINGSBURY: Right.

LEMON: Tell me about one of the fathers in this story.

KINGSBURY: Right, actually -- absolutely. The high school principal told me that they had discovered that at least one of the fathers was a 24-year-old homeless man who was living in a local shelter. He went on to say, you know, where is the logic in that? How did these girls even meet this man? And how did they come to have sex with him?

In Massachusetts, it's against the law to have sex with someone under the age of 16. So, these girls were only 15 or 16.

LEMON: Yes.

KINGSBURY: Now, the town is grappling with whether or not to press charges.

LEMON: That's statutory rape and not to mention ...

KINGSBURY: Right.

LEMON: ...syphilis, HIV ...

KINGSBURY: Right, absolutely.

LEMON: ...gonorrhea, herpes, any number of diseases ...

KINGSBURY: Yes.

LEMON: ...that you can get from this.

KINGSBURY: Right, absolutely. You know, I spoke with one teen mother who said she didn't even know really about condoms. She and her boyfriend, they used them on occasion. Because sex ed ends freshman year in Gloucester and a lot of these girls, they have a lot of confusion and they can't really go to their parents.

LEMON: Well, it's certainly something that we need to work on as a society. And Katie Kingsbury, an amazing story.

KINGSBURY: Thank you.

LEMON: We hope that something good comes of all of this. We appreciate your reporting and we appreciate you joining us, as well.

KINGSBURY: Thank you, thank you for having me.

LEMON: From "TIME" magazine, you're welcome.

And you can imagine this pregnancy outbreak has thrown school officials for a loop. So, we want to talk to them. So, coming up in about 10 minutes, we'll talk with the superintendent about how the district is dealing with it. And at 2:45 Eastern, we'll talk with the sex educator about what might have been going through these girls' minds.

PHILLIPS: But coming up next, chilling news from the Mars Lander. Possible ice found on the Red Planet. Miles is getting so excited. Why are you laughing at this, Miles?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Chilling, that was really good writing.

PHILLIPS: You like that? Isn't that brilliant?

O'BRIEN: That's great writing. That's quality stuff. I like it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, this just into the CNN NEWSROOM. See all those people there? They are trying to help a stranded whale. That's a whale in there, and you can see sort of the fin, the tail in the back. See it moving around.

This is courtesy of our affiliate WSVN. It says Key West, Florida, but this is Isla Murata (ph) is exactly the exact locator on this. The whale, to believe I pronounced this right, the Gervai beak -- beach -- beak whale I should say was prepared there to be transported by Marine Mammal Rehabilitation workers right off the Florida Keys.

Let's see the size of this thing -- 14 feet, weighs 1,200 pounds, it is being checked out now. It appears to be mildly dehydrated and some weight loss. But again, they're trying to get this beached whale to wildlife officials so that it can get better and get it back out to sea.

PHILLIPS: All right, ice on mars. This is exactly how they found it with the Phoenix Lander, right?

O'BRIEN: Yes, that's right. It kind of went down like (INAUDIBLE) and like this. And as it came down, it's interesting, you know, it's got 12 pulse thrusters. It actually blew away this -- what appeared to be a hard white surface beneath the rusty regolith of Mars. So, what do you suppose?

PHILLIPS: Like it, I love the fancy words.

O'BRIEN: So, what do you suppose that could be you might ask?

PHILLIPS: Ice crystals.

O'BRIEN: Oh, yes, and that is so much pay dirt for scientists.

Let's go to the image first of all. Take a look at this first of all. I just want you to check this out, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: OK.

O'BRIEN: It looks like a dirt parking lot in Arizona. Maybe that's why they called it Phoenix.

PHILLIPS: It's my backyard.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it's well, -- but just beneath, there is apparently a lot of ice. I want you to know the scoop here has got some dirt, apparently with ice crystals on its way to a special oven on the deck of the Phoenix Mars Lander.

PHILLIPS: And that has to happen quickly.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it does. And you're going to find out in just a second why. Take a look at this. Kyra, what do you suppose that is?

PHILLIPS: Those have got to be the ice crystals, right?

O'BRIEN: Well, yes, I mean, but there was some debate among the scientists, could it be salt, could it be some other kind of mineral? Who knows what it is.

PHILLIPS: You taste it.

O'BRIEN: But then -- oh, and look at this next image. I just got to show it to you.

PHILLIPS: OK.

O'BRIEN: You know why? It's just cool. Isn't that cool?

PHILLIPS: It is. Oh, I like the rainbow colors.

O'BRIEN: That's -- this is the deeper stuff, that's the shallower stuff. Big deal.

Oh by the way, they've named all their trenches after fairy tale things. Dodo, Goldilocks, Wonderland and all that. These scientists want to relate to kids.

Now, here's the pay dirt image. Watch what's going on right there.

PHILLIPS: OK.

O'BRIEN: Tell me what you see. This is time lapse over four sols, that's a Martian day.

PHILLIPS: OK.

O'BRIEN: Four sols. Those little --

PHILLIPS: Did any of them crystallize?

O'BRIEN: ...crumbs -- you see those crumbs that disappear?

PHILLIPS: Right.

O'BRIEN: Over the course of a four-day period, they were gone. Their -- the size of dice, boom, they're gone. Now, if they were rocks, would they be gone?

PHILLIPS: No.

O'BRIEN: If they were salt, would they be gone?

PHILLIPS: No.

O'BRIEN: So, what are they? Water ice.

PHILLIPS: You're taking distracted by all your glass (ph).

O'BRIEN: The condition -- the conditions are not right for carbon dioxide to make dry ice. And so, scientists are ecstatic.

So now, here's the plan. You take this eight-foot arm out, and you start digging a little more.

PHILLIPS: Is that the actual piece of a scoop?

O'BRIEN: Yes, I'm going to show you that in a sec.

PHILLIPS: OK, all right.

O'BRIEN: And you scoop it up, but because it sublimates -- that's the word of the day, sublimate --

PHILLIPS: Sublimates.

O'BRIEN: ...goes from solid all the way to gas misting (ph) liquid. They only have 30 minutes to scoop it and get it in to this --

PHILLIPS: Thirty minutes or 30 seconds?

O'BRIEN: Thirty minutes.

PHILLIPS: OK.

O'BRIEN: That's it.

PHILLIPS: OK.

O'BRIEN: And they get it in this house-shaped thing here, which is an oven. They'll cook it, and when they -- as they watch it heat up, they'll be able to see all kinds of things about it and determine if, possibly, there are telltale signs of life there. Carbon is the thing we're after.

PHILLIPS: Carbon, carbon.

O'BRIEN: Carbon, carbon.

PHILLIPS: Your nickname.

O'BRIEN: Yes, carbon-carbon. Now --

PHILLIPS: All right, the actual scoop.

O'BRIEN: ...this is the actual scoop built on 34th Street, West side of Manhattan. Isn't that amazing? Honeybee Robotics. This is a plastic version, this is the actual size.

Now, I want to show this other image if you'll look for just a moment. This has been the problem. This is the problem. Take a look at this, Kyra. That is the scoop. Now, can you see what's in there? Can you see how clumpy it is?

PHILLIPS: Right.

O'BRIEN: That's a problem because the oven itself has a little screen mesh in the openings, has an opening of about just a millimeter. The clumps are too big. So, how do you get the dirt and the ice crystals into the oven to do the cooking?

So, here's what they're going to do. This scoop has a little drill on the backside. See that?

PHILLIPS: OK.

O'BRIEN: It's called a rasp. It's designed to kind of dig into the hard surface. But, when it's turned on, it vibrates. Let's go back to the image --

PHILLIPS: So, it breaks it up.

O'BRIEN: Let's go back to the image. What it's going to do is vibrate and it's just like you cooking --

PHILLIPS: It's like sifting for gold.

O'BRIEN: It's you like -- it's like you cooking. You vibrate it, you shake it a little bit like that, and down falls the paprika on top there into the oven. And we hope within the next few days, they'll start cooking, literally cooking but -- well, they're not cooking with gas, they're cooking with solar power up there.

PHILLIPS: Cool stuff. Thank you, Miles. O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

LEMON: High school girls start their own club. And to be a member, you've got to get pregnant. We told you about that. Well, guess what? Seventeen of them have succeeded. And coming up, we're going to talk to one of the persons whose feet should be held to the fire, the school superintendent about what they're doing and what went wrong.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: When the door flies open on a Brinks truck, you know there's going to be trouble. That happened on a rural road near Baton Rouge, Louisiana and about $40,000 in cash and coins came spilling right out. Some folks were apparently eager to help clean up the litter. The Brinks people and some volunteers picked up what they could. They got all but about $7,000 of that money.

PHILLIPS: Well, she may be a lifestyle guru, but Martha Stewart's rap sheet is putting the kabosh on her summer travel. Listen to this. Stewart reportedly had planned to visit London in the coming days, but the UK won't let convicted felons enter the country. A Martha Stewart spokeswoman told a British newspaper they hope to resolve the issue. Stewart, as you may recall, served five months in prison on a stock trading conviction.

The next hour of NEWSROOM starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A whole lot of water. Right now, it's really just see it going down a little bit. It gives us a lot of relief. A lot of pressure off of us, mental stress and all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What goes up eventually comes down, eventually. But a whole lot of damage can be done in the meantime. We're watching the floods. They're moving south along the swollen Mississippi.

PHILLIPS: Accidents happen. But when a group of high school sophomores make a pact to get pregnant, parents and teachers everywhere want to know why and so do we.

Hello, everyone, I'm Kyra Phillips live in New York.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, from Iowa to Illinois to Missouri, the power of the water is still too great. Too many levees are still too weak or they're too short.