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AMERICAN MORNING

More Violence in Afghanistan This Morning; Relatives of Elian Gonzalez Rallying Against Barack Obama in Florida; Barack Obama Says No to Public Financing; NASA's Phoenix Lander Discovered Little Pieces of Ice on Mars; Justice Department Indicted More than 400 People on Fraud Charges

Aired June 20, 2008 - 08"00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Just crossing the top of the hour. And here are some of the top stories that we're following for you right now. More violence in Afghanistan this morning. A suicide bomb kills seven people and the Taliban is claiming responsibility.
Police say a man with explosives strapped to his body jumped on to a military convoy killing one coalition soldier, one Afghan soldier and five civilians including three children.

More than 1,000 protesters in Thailand broke through a police cord and demanding the prime minister in his government to step down. They claim that the regime is a proxy for the old prime minister who is forced down in a coup two years ago.

And scientists reviewing pictures said from NASA's Phoenix Lander say that science point to ice on Mars -- water ice. They say chunks of white material exposed in a trench earlier this week disappeared indicating the stuff was probably frozen water that went through a process of sublimation that's going to go from a solid to a gas immediately. They don't think it was salt because salt can't evaporate like that.

Breaking news this morning. Israel may have been tried to flex its muscle and send a message to Iran with a military exercise that it did back on June the 2nd. Joining us now with more details is Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr. She's been working her sources today.

What was this all about, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you are right. It might have been one very big message to Iran. A U.S. military official confirms now to CNN a story first reported this morning in "The New York Times" that on June 2nd, Israel conducted a massive aerial exercise in the eastern Mediterranean.

The official tells us dozens of Israeli war planes, F-15s, F-16s and aerial refueling tankers flew hundreds of miles into the eastern med in a show of force, if you will, an exercise to demonstrate Israeli military capability. It was such a large exercise -- basically, John, it couldn't be missed. Everyone saw it. Anybody looking through their intelligence resources.

The U.S. tracked the exercise. And the U.S. says that they calculated -- our sources. It was a very interesting distance that the Israelis flew, about 900 miles or so into the eastern med, because if you calculate that distance in the other direction, oddly enough, it takes you very close to Iran's Natanz enrichment plant.

The belief is that the Israelis were trying to demonstrate they could fly and maneuver the same distance they would have to fly if they were going to attack Iran.

John?

ROBERTS: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us with details on that. Barbara, thanks.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this just in. CNN learning that relatives of Elian Gonzalez are rallying against Barack Obama in Florida today, a day before he visits Miami. Elian's great uncle plans to hold a press conference today blaming two of Obama's advisers for helping send Elian back to Cuba eight years ago.

Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, we spoke with state representative David Rivera who is helping organize that protest and, John, asked him why they were complaining about this so many years after the custody battle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DAVID RIVERA (R), FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE: So much complaining as it's pointing out who are the people that are surrounding Barack Obama, and these are the people that will probably be surrounding him if he becomes president.

I think that's of great concern to voters in Florida, particularly Cuban-American voters as far as the timetables. There are some things -- some wounds that never heal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Obama was an Illinois lawmaker during the months-long custody battle. He did not take a public position on it. The protest comes in the same week that Elian joined Cuba's Youth Communist Party.

Well, Barack Obama trying to sell himself to his own party. Making the rounds on Capitol Hill, meeting with many lawmakers and groups of lawmakers who once supported Hillary Clinton.

Suzanne Malveaux is live in Washington for us today. They're calling it the unity tour. How is it going?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They still have some work to do, Kiran. Obama's campaign is aggressively reaching out to these important voting blocs this week. In the beginning of the week, it was Hispanics but Thursday, three other critical groups including labor. It may be paying off.

Now, following Obama's big union meeting, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees unanimously endorsed Obama. Now this is the same group that spent lots of money attacking him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): They aren't exactly singing Kumbaya, but they're trying.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I want to thank all of you.

MALVEAUX: Wednesday, Barack Obama scheduled back-to-back meetings with union leaders, black congressional members and female lawmakers, but scheduling conflicts forced Obama to postpone at the last minute his sit-down with the women's caucus, who needed to cast votes on the Hill. They represent an essential voting bloc for an Obama win.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: A lot of women are extremely concerned. They don't feel that he has reached out to them enough. They want to know exactly with he's going to be doing on kitchen table issues.

MALVEAUX: Aides acknowledged getting these folks together and behind Obama is not necessarily going to be easy. Take the Congressional Black Caucus, which was divided between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. While members say they're now united, some acknowledge Obama is going to be a hard sell.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Missouri is a tough, tough state to win. And as I've said to all of the Clinton people, do you want Senator Obama, who has already told you what he wants to do in Iraq, or do you want John McCain to keep the Iraq war going? And if for no other reason, that's why you ought to embrace Senator Barack Obama.

MALVEAUX: Congressman Emanuel Cleaver's sales pitch is similar to other recently converted Clintonites that Obama is simply better than the Republican alternative John McCain on issues like health care, education and jobs. But just listen to how some labor leaders were casting the candidate during the primary.

THOMAS BUFFENBARGER, INTERNATIONAL MACHINIST AND AEROSPACE WORKERS: I've got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius-driving, Birkenstock- wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak. This guy won't last a round against the Republican attack machine.

MALVEAUX: Obama's meeting with rival union groups was aimed at proving the doubters wrong.

OBAMA: The reasons that I got into this campaign was a sense that the American dream feels like it's slipping away for so many people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: I spoke with the president of the United Farm Workers Union, Arturo Rodriguez, who attended that meeting, and he had initially endorsed Clinton. But he told me that Obama's 45-minute Q&A session over the weekend with some of his members turned a corner. Obama pledged to take on immigration reform and that is a big priority for that group.

Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Six minutes after the hour now. Barack Obama says no to public financing and the rules that come along with it. Republicans say he's breaking a promise. Even one Democrat is up in arms over it. We'll get Obama's response when his Communications Director Robert Gibbs joins us live.

CARROLL: Also a teenage mystery. 17 girls at one high school, all of them pregnant. And now authorities say they think they may know why.

ROBERTS: BlackBerry users say they're working around the clock and not getting a dime for it. Now some pay-checks could reflect those after hours e-mails that you've been answering. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Hillary Clinton is taking a month off from her job as senator to rest up from her campaign. How does that work? Think about this.

You've been neglecting your job trying to get a better job. You don't get that job. So you take a month off from the job you're trying to get out of and go on vacation, huh? Imagine if you tried that with your boss?

Hey, boss, listen -- boss, I tell you, I've been out looking for another job. I am exhausted. I want to take a month off. Here's where you can send my checks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" getting in those Hillary Clinton jokes while he still can.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, Ali Velshi joins us now. How you doing?

ROBERTS: You took a couple of days off earlier this week.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And every time you must --

ROBERTS: Were you exhausted from searching --

VELSHI: Can you please write in.

No, I think the viewers should write in because every time I take a day off, the price of gas goes down. I get back to work. Look at this, we're back up -- $4.08 a gallon, just saying. We've got a very interesting few days actually coming up over the weekend having to do with oil. Oil actually dropped yesterday almost $5 a barrel, came back up a little higher. But the reason it drop is that China, which subsidizes diesel and gasoline, decided that it is raising the price of both of those things.

So gasoline prices overnight in China went up 17 prices. Diesel prices -- you know, China is big like America. They have to drive trucks all over the place. Diesel prices went up 18 percent. And a lot of the passenger cars use diesel in China.

This has resulted in an inflation forecast in China of seven percent because obviously we know as transportation gets more expensive, so does everything else. That would tamper demand in China and as a result the price of oil went down.

Now what happens this weekend? A lot of energy ministers from around the world are going to Saudi Arabia for a meeting that's going to be held on Sunday. The Saudis want to assure the world that there's enough oil and they can continue to meet demand.

So, here's what the Saudis are likely to do. They are probably going to increase the output of oil once again, maybe by as much as half-a- million barrels a day. They're going to assure refiners around the world that there will be enough oil for them to refine into gasoline.

They're going to talk about oil trading controls because we've talked about excessive speculation being a bit of a problem in the oil market. They're going to discuss that. And they're going to try and discuss the idea of strengthening the U.S. dollar because as the U.S. dollar strengthens, oil prices are likely to go lower.

We're going to be talking a lot about oil and the other story we've been discussing this morning -- airlines and how all of these affect you on "YOUR MONEY," this weekend Saturday at 1:00 p.m., Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Just never run out of stories to talk about when it comes to oil.

ROBERTS: No. I mean, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

VELSHI: And I won't be here -- I won't be here next week because I'm going up to northern Alberta to check out the oil sands.

ROBERTS: There are oil sands up there?

VELSHI: Yes.

CHETRY: So we can expect a drop in gas prices? Is that what you're saying?

VELSHI: That's right. You could probably expect gas prices to drop next week.

ROBERTS: Don't get stuck. Remember what happened to La Brea with the dinosaurs.

VELSHI: Yes, that's right. I'll try and stay away from there.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks.

How much is an addiction worth? Crack berry in the workplace. Some workers are demanding pay for all those after-hours e-mails.

And ice on Mars. New clues this morning about the possibility -- the tantalizing possibility of life in outer space.

CHETRY: Also ahead on AMERICAN MORNING --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can't even buy their own cigarettes yet and they're having babies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: A rash of pregnancies overwhelms a high school. 17 teenagers, half of them part of a baby pact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of the young woman don't see a lot of direction and purpose in their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 40 minutes after the hour. New this morning, possible answers to the age-old question -- is there life on Mars? NASA's Phoenix Lander may have just discovered little pieces of ice on the red planet.

And our space correspondent, Miles O'Brien joins us now with more on the significance of all of this.

So what are we potentially looking at here?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, look at that landscape. You would think what a bleak tundra but for scientists here on earth, this really could be pay dirt.

First of all, take a look at this. This is the Mars Phoenix Lander. And you notice this shovel on the end here. It's about eight feet long and digs into the surface there. That's what you're looking at right there. It's got a little bit of dirt in there. It's not so much the dirt they're interested in here, it's what is beneath the dirt.

Let's go to the next image and we'll talk a little bit about the trenching that they've done so far. You have to ask yourself, John, what is that white stuff. There's been a lot of debate over it. Could it be salts? Could it be some sort of mineral? Well, they think they may have come to some sort of conclusion on this.

Go to the next image and we'll talk a little bit about the trench first of all. That gives you a sense of how deep they've gone. And I just put it in there because I think it's a cool shot.

Let's go to the next one now.

ROBERTS: Love the colors, too.

O'BRIEN: Now, this is -- this is -- what we're talking about here is the clumping that is causing a problem in the shovel. And they're trying to sprinkle this dirt into the oven.

But there's one more image I want to show you, which is sort of the -- I guess you could call it the smoking gun or the missing pieces. Take a look right in this region right here.

These two images were taken a few days apart. And it looks like -- these are about the size of dice. And they're little white granules or whatever you want to call them and they're disappearing. Would salt do that? Would a rock do that over the course of a couple of days? No. What is the only thing that would do that? Ice. And it doesn't melt there. It sublimates. That means it goes straight from solid to gas, right?

ROBERTS: Well, this is taken over a couple of days, right?

O'BRIEN: Yes.

ROBERTS: So, it's possible that they missed the picture of the hand coming in?

O'BRIEN: They didn't get the shot at that moment unfortunately. Apparently, the lens cap was on.

So, this is the big deal that they've been looking for. We knew before they landed there, there was all kinds of evidence that there was water/ice beneath the surface. The question was -- could they get to it? Could they scoop it up? And ultimately, can they get it in this little shovel? This is a plastic version. It's the exact size.

Can they get it, scoop it up, get it in that oven, cook it and see if there are organic materials inside. That's the next step. And if there are organic materials -- carbon, that kind of thing, that's one more piece of evidence that there was life at one time or maybe even now.

ROBERTS: Is it proof that there was life or could those organic compounds be there without actually forming life?

O'BRIEN: It's possible to be without. But it's one more thing. If you've got water in ice form, if you have water that flows and you have organic materials, suddenly you're getting closer and closer.

ROBERTS: Tantalizing possibilities. Miles, thanks very much.

O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

ROBERTS: Kiran?

CHETRY: Well, you're watching the "Most News in the Morning." Relatives of Elian Gonzalez protesting Barack Obama's visit to Florida. We're going to talk about why and also get the Obama campaign's reaction when we talk to Communications Director Robert Gibbs, coming up just a couple of minutes.

Also, more mortgage fraud charges. Two former agents accused of a cover-up that cost people billions of dollars.

ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING -- addicted to work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm expecting a message any minute.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: The crack berry addict. They're afraid to put it down. But is it their fault or just part of the job?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually can't imagine life without it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: How some people are getting paid for after-hours e-mails? You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: New this morning, a surprising turn of events in the hunt for fugitive scam artist Sam Israel. Authorities say that they arrested his girlfriend. He was convicted of ripping off nearly half billion dollars from investors.

A judge gave him 20 years but authorities now believe that he staged his own suicide the same day he was supposed to show up for jail. The U.S. Attorney's office says his girlfriend admitted that she helped Israel pack an RV with his belongings before he vanished.

And the Justice Department indicted more than 400 people in the real estate industry on fraud charges stemming from the mortgage crisis. The latest arrest involving two former Bear Stearns managers. Joining us now with more is CNN's Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis.

And as we've seen with this crackdown, they really are going after people...

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: They really are.

CHETRY: ...Who defrauded many, many homeowners. WILLIS: Yes, there are two parts to this thing. First of all, the U.S. Attorney going after Bear Stearns. I think you saw a video of those folks yesterday being rounded up, let away in handcuffs. Two Bear Stearns managers ran a hedge fund. They're being accused of lying about their results.

Not only that, Kiran, but they also took their own money out of the hedge fund while they were advising people to stay in and invest even more. So those folks in big trouble this morning. But this investigation also went to Main Street.

The FBI and the Justice Department announcing that since March, they've indicted 400 people in real estate fraud. This was garden variety fraud that involved real estate agents, real estate developers, mortgage brokers across the board. Yes, they're taking it seriously, but --

CHETRY: Did they call it operation malicious mortgage? I mean --

WILLIS: Exactly.

CHETRY: I had to tell you right there.

WILLIS: Well, you know, and this -- I mean, look, people have really gotten hurt in this. The horse is sort of out of the barn here. I'm glad to see it, but I know a lot of people out there really hurting as a result of this fraud.

CHETRY: Yes. They're still talking about whether or not they're going to be able to do anything on Capitol Hill with this as they go back --

WILLIS: They still don't have laws.

CHETRY: Yes, still waiting for that. But meantime, what can you do as a homeowner or as a potential borrower to make sure that this doesn't happen again?

WILLIS: Well, "A," number one, when you're going out to get a mortgage, buy what you can afford. You know, a lot of people out there got in trouble because they tried to buy too much house. 33 percent of your gross income, that's what you want to spend. Compare lender offers. Use lenders that are legit, people that you already know. Understand what you sign. Don't sign under pressure.

You know, one of the big frauds here was foreclosure scam rescue. People in trouble. Afraid they're going to lose their house. They're already upset and nervous. They get a letter in the mail saying -- hey, we're going to help you make you whole. We'll get you out of this. Guess what? Too good to be true. If you're in that situation, don't trust those folks. Make sure you get a credible housing counselor.

CHETRY: So if you get an unsolicited letter, do not trust it.

WILLIS: That's absolutely right. CHETRY: Double whammy for some people. Well, Gerri, thanks. Great to see you as always.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

CHETRY: And you want to join Gerri tomorrow morning 9:30 Eastern Time "OPEN HOUSE," right here on CNN.

John?

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

Barack Obama under fire for turning down federal financing. Republicans say he's flip-flopping. Coming up, Obama's response when his Communications Director Robert Gibbs joins us live.

Also ahead on AMERICAN MORNING -- the pregnancy pact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These numbers are outrages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: High school girls band together to get pregnant and raise their kids together. A school and community struggling to respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got 17 that we know of this year, and the typical average is 4.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: CNN has learned that relatives of Elian Gonzalez will be protesting against Senator Barack Obama today in Miami. Earlier we spoke to one of the organizers, a Republican state lawmaker who says the Obama campaign has two key advisers -- Greg Craig and Eric Holder, who helped return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba after that heated custody battle back in 2000.

Joining me now from Chicago is Barack Obama's Communications Director Robert Gibbs.

Robert, good to see you this morning.

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: It's great to be here.

ROBERTS: Let me play a little bit of what State Representative David Rivera said to us today when I asked him what the relevance of this case was in 2008 now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERA: There's a lot of debate whether Eric Holder and Janet Reno were doing their job or doing Fidel Castro's job. I think that's a relevant debate in 2008.

There's also a lot of discussion about Greg Craig not only representing the Cuban government because that's who was paying him in 2000. It was not the father of Elian. He was doing that on behalf of Fidel Castro. And his tied to a lot of other dictators in the hemisphere as well.

I mean, Greg Craig just doesn't represented Fidel Castro but he's represented thugs across the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So Greg Craig at the time represented Elian Gonzalez's father. Eric Holder was the deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. What do you say about all this today?

GIBBS: Well, look, I think these are obviously important issues, but I certainly hope that the discussion that we can have about this doesn't include the type of, I think, overheated rhetoric that you just heard on that tape.

Obviously, these are important issues and very personal issues. But, boy, I sure hope that we can have a political discussion in our country that doesn't sound a lot like what you just heard on your show.

ROBERTS: Obviously, Miami is a very important area in this upcoming election. The State of Florida, a huge swing state. Some recent polls show that Senator Obama has an edge over John McCain there. I'm interested, though, while he never took a public position on this in 2000, what does he think, Robert, about the way that this was handled concerning Elian Gonzalez?

GIBBS: You know, John, it's not a subject that I've talked to him about. And I certainly will try to do so today. But, again, I think what you just heard -- we have to tone this thing down a little bit. I think the way that some people are being characterized here is really, really unfortunate.

ROBERTS: Let me go to the other big topic of the day. You announced yesterday that you would be opting out of public financing for the general election campaign. It's the first time since the system was created in 1976 that a candidate has done so. Why did you feel the need to do it?

GIBBS: Well, John, I think, as we said yesterday, the system is broken. The system is being gamed largely by our opponents and his allies, who will seek to spend unlimited amounts and unregulated amounts of money on ads that would make Barack Obama sound and look like somebody that none of us would recognize. I think if you look back to 2004, John, we all look back to that election and talk about one ad. It wasn't an ad, it was run by President Bush or Senator Kerry or even the respective party committees. It was run by 527 group. That's what we remember from that election.

ROBERTS: Right. That was the famous swift boat ad.

GIBBS: Absolutely. And now it's -- now we talk about somebody being swift-boated. It's become such a part of our political lexicon. What we have in our campaign and what we have in the Obama campaign is public financing happening every single day.

We've been fortunate enough to have 1.5 million people make more than 3 million contributions to our campaign. 91 percent of those contributions were for $100 or less. The very type reform and the very type of public financing that has always been talked about is happening every day over the Internet and through the mail and at our events on behalf of Barack Obama. That's what we need to change Washington.

ROBERTS: Let me come back to this idea that the system is broken. And you mentioned that swift boat ad in August of 2007. You know, people who have looked back on that and even the Kerry campaign said part of the problem was the Democrats had their convention a month before the Republicans did. The Kerry campaign was essentially dark during that entire month. They did not respond to that ad. But you say that the system is broken.

And here's what -- you know, you could expect that John McCain's campaign is going to complain about you opting out of public financing. But listen to what Russ Feingold -- a Democrat said, quote, "This is not a good decision. While the current public financing system for the presidential primaries is broken, the system for the general election is not." That's a Democrat saying the system is still pretty good.

GIBBS: Yes. But here's the truth on that, John. Russ Feingold has a bill that would update this public financing system. It augments the amount of money that a candidate can use in both the primary and the general election.

So if we don't think the general election is broken, I don't think Senator Feingold would be introducing a piece of legislation that actually fixes the general election for candidates in the future. But here's the difference, John.

There's one candidate that supports legislation to update the public financing system, and his name is not John McCain, his name is Barack Obama. We've pledged to fix this system. John McCain has used the public financing system over the last two years and gamed it every step of the way. When his poll numbers were good, he was out of the public financing system. When his poll numbers were bad, he was using the public financing system as nothing more than a shell game to get a loan from a bank that, John, you or I never could walk into that bank and get. And the collateral he used was the public financing system. When his poll numbers got healthy again, boy, he sure threw the public financing system over the side of the boat quickly. That's the difference in this campaign. One person will reform the system. One person has gamed this system for his own personal benefit. Barack Obama wants to fix it. John McCain wants to game it.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: We should mention just for the sake of fairness, Robert Gibbs, that the McCain campaign still denies that loan was used as collateral for financing. Thanks for being with us this morning.

GIBBS: I bet they do.

ROBERTS: All right. Good to see you.

GIBBS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

And just a programming note. We will hear from the other side. We'll have a representative from the McCain campaign coming on to talk about all this on Monday here on AMERICAN MORNING. Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: All right, John. Thanks. It's almost half past the hour. Let's recap our top stories. Right now, we have some breaking news this morning. The U.S. military saying it believes Israel was trying to send a message to Iran when it carried out a major military exercise back on June 2nd. CNN has learned it involved dozens of war planes and a refueling tanker. U.S. officials estimate the planes flew roughly the same distance they need to fly if they ever were to launch an attack on Iran's nuclear plant.

Right now, an army of volunteers in Missouri sandbagging, trying to do all they can to hold back the floodwaters along the Mississippi River. There's new video of one of the levees breached. Emergency officials say at least 90 percent of the levees in Missouri are now overflowing.

And there's been a dramatic increase in teenage pregnancies at one Massachusetts high school. 17 girls, all of them younger than 17, are now expecting. And authorities say they know what could be behind this troubling trend. Alina Cho is here with more for us now. Hi, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran. Good morning. You know, the most stunning part about this story is that at least half of the girls according to "Time" magazine made a pregnancy pact, if you will, to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Now Gloucester, Massachusetts is reeling from what the local papers is calling a teen pregnancy outbreak.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOLLIE WAGNER, STUDENT: I remember finding out one person was pregnant. That was like incredible and then 17.

CHO (voice-over): It was a rough school year for administrators at Gloucester High in Massachusetts as one teenaged girl after another walked into the school's clinic requesting a pregnancy test. By the time classes let out last week, 17 students were pregnant.

ASHLEIGH BENNETT, GLOUCESTER, MASS.: Not even - they can't even buy their own cigarettes yet and they're having babies.

CHO: Even harder to believe, the school's principal says nearly half of the pregnancies were planned. Some teens reacting to the news with high-fives. Principal Joseph Sullivan tells "Time" magazine, "some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were."

CHRISTOPHER FARMER, SUPERINTENDENT, GLOUCESTER PUBLIC SCHOOL: Many of the young women don't see a lot of direction and purpose in their lives. You know, the baby gives them a sense of status and purpose which they wouldn't necessarily have in another way.

WAGNER: I'm friends with a couple of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of this?

WAGNER: I don't know. I mean, it's their decisions, whatever they want to do. You won't catch me getting pregnant in high school, no way.

CHO: The school's pregnancy outbreak has been front page news, sparking fierce debate in the community about whether students should have easier access to birth control.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a personal thing with parents and the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My thing is, who's going to follow these kids? You know, it's one thing to prescribe a pill. It's another thing to take it every day.

CHO: Gloucester's school committee will vote this summer on whether to provide contraceptives. Meanwhile, school administrators are seeking outside advice in tackling the teen pregnancy problem, and hope to have a plan in place by September.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: None of the girls or their families are talking, we should mention. The 17 pregnancies at Gloucester High are about four times higher than the average of four per school year. Still, nobody knows why the girls would have made a pact to get pregnant, if indeed that's the case. One classmate was quoted as saying "they're just so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally." And others believe it may have something to do with those movies like "Juno" or "Knocked Up," which glamorized young unmarried mothers. Kiran, one thing for sure, it has renewed debate in this small Catholic enclave about whether to distribute birth control at high schools. And there could be some sort of decision by September.

CHETRY: You know, the kids looking at all the magazines now, too. I mean, everything is about this celebrity mom, this celebrity mom. And you know, what some counselors say it looks like fun and games. Oh, we just go to the park and we go on the swings, not mentioning what the daily life is.

CHO: That's right, until reality sets in when the baby is born. That's right.

CHETRY: All right. Alina, thanks.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Well, Britney's little sister is now a mom. A family friend says 17-year-old Jamie Lynn gave birth to Madie (Brion)ph Thursday morning in a hospital in Mississippi. She is reportedly engaged to the father, Casey Aldridge.

A quick little programming note here. We've been talking all morning about Kid Rock and his battle with iTunes and how he's asking people to steal his songs and things like that. Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to bring you that piece today. So, we'll get that down on Monday. Our apologies.

CHETRY: Very interesting debate, though, that a lot of musicians have felt as they've gone up against the changing way that people get their music on iTunes. Go on there for songs.

ROBERTS: The argument seems to be that they make the singles available as opposed to just the whole CD and I think it's cutting into sales.

CHETRY: A lot of people find it convenient. You just like that one song, so you want that one song but yes, Monday we'll have much more on that.

Meanwhile, coming up, presidential candidates telling all to gossip magazines, a sign of the times and how will it play with voters?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, on the clock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I use it from the second I wake up to the second I go to bed.

ROBERTS: Workers wired to their blackberry, looking to get paid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely think we should be compensated.

ROBERTS: And some are winning the fight.

You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 38 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Some of us are working around the clock thanks to blackberries, instant messaging, smart phones. What about a little more pay for all of that extra work? One group of workers demanded it and they say that they deserve to get paid for all of that extra work. Richard Roth joins us with more. Good morning to you, Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. It's a little too early for workers to unite and say I want to get paid for my blackberries. But this may be a looming trend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROTH (voice-over): The blackberry is a constant companion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually can't imagine life without it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I use it from the second I wake up to the second I go to bed.

ROTH: But the device can be a drag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, this thing is like a ball and chain.

ROTH: Wired-up workers say they can't even escape from the job after hours. Now they want to get paid for it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely think that we should be compensated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people should be compensated for what they're being asked to do outside of work.

ROTH: Writers and producers at ABC News demanded payment for after- work usage and reached a settlement with management. Elsewhere people keep multitasking while the office is closed.

VALORIE BURTON, LIFE COACH: For some they feel like they're missing out on something. For others there's a genuine fear that they will appear not to be a team player.

ROTH: And attorneys are sending a message to businesses. Prepare for legal action.

JEFFREY SCHLOSSBERG, ATTORNEY: Employers don't really perceive that there's a problem or an issue with employees using their blackberries outside of work. They don't see it.

ANDREW TSUNIS, BLACKBERRY USER: Well, I'm expecting a message any minute.

ROTH: Financier Andrew Tsunis is separated from his blackberry only when taking midday naps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please make sure to turn off your cell phone or your blackberry.

ROTH: He doesn't expect his employees to be messaging at night.

TSUNIS: Compensated for using the blackberry --

ROTH: Off hours. TSUNIS: No, I don't think that's a good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm America's strongest man.

ROTH: Maybe brute force can eliminate the problem. It is very tough to get rid of those.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy crap! Be careful!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's really good.

ROTH: The world's strongest man in the United States cannot destroy this blackberry. But will companies be as tough when it comes to exhausted workers armed with the device.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROTH: This is still a very undefined area, John, but attorneys have been calling companies' offices, trolling for potential lawsuits. In fact, I had someone in this building ask me about it after this report.

ROBERTS: Has your blackberry rung asking if you want --

ROTH: No, in fact I've got too many e-mails so I can't send any today. So, the revenge of the devices.

ROBERTS: So, he really tried to break this?

ROTH: Yes, go ahead. How strong is our morning anchor. Of course, I could be had hit by flying shrapnel here.

ROBERTS: These things -

ROTH: That's a lawsuit.

ROBERTS: They are strong. Yes, what about if you're on the phone and the blackberry at the same time, do you get double pay?

ROTH: That's possible. It sounds like you will be part of the class action case. So, it's good to have a famous face in front of this.

ROBERTS: And who knows what it's doing to your brain while you walk around like this. Right?

ROTH: That's right. Well, those early hours --

ROBERTS: Popping those nerve cells like popcorn.

ROTH: I know. I'm sure our viewers now who are typing e-mails and they're not at the office yet and wondering how much is in it for me?

ROBERTS: Well, we'll find out. Richard, thanks so much. Keep watching this story. Kiran.

CHETRY: John, did you break it? ROBERTS: No. Of course not.

CHETRY: If the guy who can bench press a human being couldn't break it with his bare hands, I don't know if you can.

ROBERTS: I got the battery cover off. That was pretty good.

CHETRY: Someone get him a hammer.

Well, breaking news, the threat is growing this morning. Missouri's levees pushed to the brink by the Mississippi River.

And you can find Barack and Michelle Obama not on the cover of "Time," not "Newsweek" but a gossip magazine. Are candidates and their wives entering a new frontier in their quest for voters? You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: We're following breaking news this morning and the growing disaster in the midwest. The powerful Mississippi River pushing more levees to their brink. Officials say at least four more are in danger of giving way in Lincoln County, Missouri. This morning, it is a tough fight to keep the water out. Thousands are sandbagging as fast as they can. Right now it's estimated there are 12.5 million sandbags and they aren't actually really helping in some areas support and reinforce levees to guard against the rising rivers.

ROBERTS: Meet one man who is helping to fight back the floodwaters in the midwest. And it's not the first time that he's helping a city recover from a natural disaster. This week's hero was Todd Agoglia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: We have 20 reports of tornadoes.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Eight people were killed after severe weather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it goes.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Crews are fighting fires on several fronts.

TAD SKULAR AGOGLIA, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: The most critical phase of a disaster is the first few days. That's when you have to find the people that are in desperate need of medical attention, food, water. But you pull up and there's a building lying in the middle of a road. Or if 20 miles is underwater, how do you get all those resources to those people? I got this crazy idea to use one of my cranes to respond to a disaster and just open up roads so that the real heroes have the resources they need to continue to serve.

My name is Tad Skylar Agoglia. I provide help and hope to those in their greatest hour of need. There's people on life support. There's people on oxygen. There's people that are going to die if we don't get there. I put together a crew that stays on the road 12 months out of the year, responds to disasters all over America, free of charge. Here's what I'm thinking, right. If we get on 65 we're right there. As soon as we see a threat striking anywhere in the United States, if we feel it's severe enough, we leave immediately. You know where we can be of some help?

We see a lot of death. We see a lot of destruction. But there is something beautiful about looking at a disaster and seeing what good can come out of it.

Stand by. Oftentimes, I'm asked why I do this. And I can't help but think why aren't more people doing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And if you would like to nominate your own hero, go to cnn.com/heroes.

CHETRY: Well, Michelle Obama trying to appeal to women voters by showing that she's down to earth. She's a mom just like many of them. And she stepped into unchartered waters to do it. The Obamas hitting the cover of a celebrity gossip magazine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: This hitting newsstands, there it is. "US Weekly" magazine with Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, on the cover. The story casts her as a down-to-earth mom who shops at Target and loved the "Sex in the City" movie. Our Lola Ogunnaike tells us why this may be the first presidential campaign where the candidates are hitting the supermarket magazine circuit. You know as we said, cover of "Newsweek," "Time," but "US weekly"?

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's not the most likely place you would expect to find a presidential candidate or his wife but it's pretty unprecedented that they're on this cover. People are actually saying, you know what, it's a smart move. "US Weekly" has 12 million readers. 70 percent of them are females. I don't have to tell you how important that demographic is during this election. And yes, you know, in many people's minds it's a bit down market but to the candidates they can't afford to alienate any audience, they can't afford not to go anywhere because one they don't want to be perceived as elitist and two, eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs. That is the key during this election.

So, if you want to reach the 18 to 34 female demographic, you go to "US Weekly." If you want the 18 to 34 male demographic, you go appear on WWE which many of the candidates did a few months ago. No place is off limits anymore.

CHETRY: That's funny. So, Monday night raw for the candidates as well. This isn't the first time that they've appeared on these celebrity magazines though other candidates. OGUNNAIKE: It's very interesting, they all seem to gravitate to "US Weekly." Hillary was in "US Weekly" in February. She did a fashion don't, went through the history of all her hideous outfits. And it made her seem really accessible and actually very charming. The fact that she was able to point out a stripe outfit and said "it was the '60s, don't blame me." It made her seem like she could take a joke.

And Barack also did a Barack, he's just like us. Watch Barack get his groceries. Watch Barack out, you know, playing with his kids. It's really a great way for them to show a different side of themselves. They're not stumping on the campaign. They're not reading from their speeches. They're showing a softer side, a side that they feel like many Americans will be able to relate to.

CHETRY: And the big thing, why does he love her so. Quickly, what did he say?

OGUNNAIKE: She's a great mother. She's a strong woman. She's smart. It's the winning combination.

CHETRY: How about it. Very cute couple. And as you said, they're not saying no to these magazines that have huge circulations. Lola, thanks.

ROBERTS: Many American families are feeling the economic pinch because of high gas and food prices. That means that eating healthy is often an afterthought. But as Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports there is a way to eat healthy on a tight budget. He joins us now. Hey, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. You know, as we've been doing these "Fit Nation" investigations, we're always struck by this idea that buying fresh fruits and vegetables can so expensive oftentimes so much more expensive than processed foods. So what's good for your health, what's good for your wallet? Possibly growing your own.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Cash-strapped American families may be tempted to eat more fast food. That's because you get more calories and bang for your buck. A recent study found foods like candies, pastries, other baked goods and snacks cost $1.76 per 1,000 calories. Store-bought fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, cost more than $18 for 1,000 calories. That's nine times more expensive. What are we growing in here?

LADONNA REDMOND, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Any number of things. Those are collard greens on the far aisle there and those are turnip greens right next to them.

GUPTA: But there is another cheaper alternative. You can grow it yourself. Ladonna Redmond planted the first seeds of what she calls urban farm sites in this gritty Chicago neighborhood when she couldn't find fresh produce nearby. There are no supermarkets nearby, only convenience stores. Urban gardens like this are part of a growing movement. Now, the non-profit urban farming started three years ago in Detroit, with a goal of eradicating hunger. It's added gardens in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Newark.

Burpee, the largest seed company in North America, says sales of vegetable seeds are up 40 percent over the same period over a year ago. During World War II, some 20 million American families planted so called victory gardens, producing more than 40 percent of the country's fresh vegetables.

TAJA SEVELLE, FOUNDER, URBAN PLANNING: So this model has already been done. We're just duplicating it.

GUPTA: An old idea with healthy benefits, bringing corn and other fresh produce to inner city people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: It really was remarkable, John, to travel around and see people doing this in many cities around America. Just to give you an idea, if you spend about a dollar, for example, for seeds for tomatoes, you're probably going to get about $10 worth of tomatoes back. So, it's a very good investment for your health and wallet.

ROBERTS: Just getting outside and doing the gardening is good for you too, right.

GUPTA: You know, the thing about gardening is it actually works all your muscle groups, something people don't think about, versus running or doing weights and it also burns about 250 calories an hour, not to mention you're hopefully growing something that you can eat that's healthy as well. So you really get three additional benefits there, John.

ROBERTS: There you go, it all works together. Sanjay Gupta this morning. Doc, thanks, good to see you.

GUPTA: All right, John.

CHETRY: When people ask you why do you look fantastic, have you been working out? No, I've been planting tomatoes.

ROBERTS: Working in the garden.

CHETRY: Well, it's right out of a horror movie, human feet washing up on the Canadian coast. But the story is very real. Jeanne Moos is following the bizarre details. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, it's a mystery that has the people in British Columbia a little bit baffled and a little bit grossed out. Five human feet washing up on shore in the past year one at a time.

ROBERTS: CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look at these macabre find as only the most news in the morning can.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Finding your footing is one thing. Finding foot after foot is another.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A severed human foot, this latest foot --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five different feet -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The foot total is now six.

MOOS: Actually, it's back down to five, but we'll get to that. We're talking about feet in shoes like the one seen in this exclusive photo obtained by Global TV. One foot washing up on the coastline of Canada's British Columbia is weird enough. But then they started turning up right and left. Make that right, right, right, right and left.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A number of right feet.

MOOS: Now a left foot.

All found since last summer by people walking or fishing or walking the dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wouldn't leave that running shoe.

MOOS: Folks wondered if they came from four bodies still missing from a nearby plane crash. Feet could naturally break off from a decomposing body and buoyant sneakers could carry them with the current. On Thursday, the sixth foot turned up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In an Adidas black man's shoe size 10.

MOOS: Then authorities had to do a flip-flop. You can forget the "six feet under" jokes. Turns out the sixth foot was the skeleton of an animal paw placed in a sock and a shoe. Authorities call the apparent hoax reprehensible. But even with just five feet, we haven't seen such a mystery since Big Foot. The last time a lost and found limb caused such a brouhaha was the custody fight over this guy's leg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A real foot with five toes.

MOOS: After losing it in a plane crash, he left the embalmed limb in a barbecue cooker in a storage facility. When he didn't pay the rent his belongings were auctioned off. The buyer, Sharon Whisnant, ended up calling 911.

911: What's the problem there?

SHARON WHISNANT, BUYER: I got a human foot.

911: Have a what?

WHISNANT: A human left foot.

MOOS (on-camera): Now, we tried to resist sinking to the level of making tasteless foot puns. So instead of me sticking my foot in my mouth I figured I'd let folks on the internet do it.

MOOS (voice-over): They're commenting on five found feet story with puns like investigators are waiting for the other shoe to drop. The grisly find make aching feet seem unworthy of complaint and getting your feet wet sure beats finding a foot waterlogged. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

ROBERTS: You know, she can put her spin on anything. Can she?

CHETRY: That one's disturbing.

Well, thanks so much for joining us. And we hope you have a great weekend.

ROBERTS: Yes. Don't forget, summer begins tonight at 7:00. And we'll see you back here bright and early Monday morning.

CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins begins now.

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