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United States Ramping up Its Covert Operations Against Iran; Florida Tapping into the Power of the Sun; First U.S. Ship Packed with Thousands of Tons of Food Arrives in North Korea; Barack Obama and John McCain Reaching Out to Hispanic Voters

Aired June 30, 2008 - 08:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: You're talking about foreign policy. There's a new report, an explosive report in "The New Yorker" by Seymour Hersh. It says "The Bush administration launched covert operations into Iran to spy on their nuclear activities and also to undermine their government."
How would a McCain presidency deal with Iran? Would this be something they would support?

DAVIS: I think Senator McCain has always said that there should be an effort to support moderate representatives in Iran and to bolster any kind of effort to strengthen democracy there and bring together regimes that can welcome Western influences and relationships.

And I think that John has been consistent over time on this regardless of the actions that have occurred in Iran.

CHETRY: Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, calling in from Arlington, Virginia. Thanks for being with us this morning.

DAVIS: Thanks for having me.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Crossing the top of the hour. More details now on that new article saying that the United States is ramping up its covert operations against Iran.

"The New Yorker" Seymour Hersh writes that Congress authorized $400 million for a secret campaign to dig up Intel and undermine the Iranian government. That included commandos spying on nuclear facilities. The White House not commenting on the report.

Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is following the story for us this morning and joins us now with the very latest on it.

Good morning, Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. You know, one thing is clear. The U.S. is doing more to try to undermine the Iranian government than it's saying publicly. And this morning, we're getting just a tiny peek behind the veil of secrecy.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The allegation that U.S. Special Ops commandos have been conducting covert operations into Iran from southern Iraq drew a quick and unequivocal denial from the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad.

RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: I can tell you flatly that U.S. forces are not operating across the Iraqi border into Iran in the south or anywhere else.

MCINTYRE: But investigative reporter Seymour Hersh whose "New Yorker" magazine article claims the efforts are part of a $400 million covert campaign to destabilize Iran's government argues the operations are so super secret, Ambassador Crocker may be out of the loop.

SEYMOUR HERSH, "NEW YORKER" MAGAZINE: He may not know the extent in which we're operating deeply with commandos or not so much with our special forces inside Iran. So, it's possible, because he's not somebody -- he'll spin it but he's not somebody. He won't say something he doesn't believe.

MCINTYRE: It's not the first time Hersh's reported the U.S. has spies inside Iran. And senior Pentagon officials have hinted to CNN that CIA and other classified operations are conducted from time to time in the Islamic republic but they have never confirmed it.

In a statement, the CIA said, "As a rule, it does not comment on allegations regarding cover operations." Some members of Congress were not so quick to dismiss the idea of the U.S. working secretly in Iran to stop its meddling in Iraq.

SEN. JOE LEIBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I think we should be doing whatever we can to let the Iranians know they can't continue this and not expect us to take some action against them on this basis.

MCINTYRE: Hersh says some of the U.S. forces operating in Iran may be coming from the other border, Afghanistan. And he suggests their mission is in part to gather intelligence about Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, possibly to lay the groundwork for a military strike.


MCINTYRE: So, John, what is going on? It's not something that Pentagon officials will talk about for attribution. But officials have hinted to me that what the U.S. is trying to do in Iran is the same thing Iran is doing to the U.S. in Iraq.

That is supporting some of the groups that are attempting to destabilize the government. In other words, they're trying to cause Iran the same kind of trouble that they accuse Iran of causing to the U.S. in Iraq.

ROBERTS: All right, excellent reporting this morning. Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon. Jamie, thanks.

CHETRY: New this morning. They're trying to figure out what happened after two medical helicopters collide in midair killing six people and critically injuring another. Two emergency workers on the ground were also hurt. It happened near the Flagstaff Medical Center in Arizona. The Federal Aviation Administration is now looking into what happened.

And Florida tapping into the power of the sun. After all, it's clean, it's free, and there's plenty of it in the sunshine state. But until now, it's been a mostly untapped resource. How that's changing and how that's trickling down to electric bills.

ROBERTS: 38,000 tons of food. An American ship arrives in North Korea with much needed food for millions of starving people. Does it signal a change in North Korea's attitude? We're going to have a live report, straight ahead.

And more trouble for singer Amy Winehouse. A new video reportedly shows her hitting a fan at a concert. We'll show you later on this hour. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Florida trying to go green by tapping into solar power.

Here's CNN's Susan Candiotti with more.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No wonder Florida is called the sunshine state. But there are more practical uses for Florida's sunshine. Jessie Prado plastered his roof with two dozen solar panels and his electric bill has nose dived.

JESSE PRADO, HOMEOWNER: My bill last month was $6.86.


PRADO: And 86 cents.

CANDIOTTI: Prado is one of a rare but growing number of Floridians tapping into solar power. Now the state's largest utility, Florida Power and Light, is laying out an ambitious plan to harness Florida's sun. It predicts in the next 30 years.

ERIC SILAGY, FPL VP DEVELOPMENT: The amount of CO2 that it will offset is over 3.5 million tons. So it's a tremendous -- which is the equivalent of 25,000 cars a year being taken off the road.

CANDIOTTI: Despite Florida's abundant sunshine, it cannot compete with California's Mojave Desert, where the sun is much stronger. FPL has a huge solar plant there too. Blame it on Florida's humidity.

ROBERT REEDY, UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: That moisture in the air causes the light to scatter, so that when it reaches your collector, it's not as easy to focus.

CANDIOTTI: And unlike homeowner Jesse Prado, who uses batteries at night to store solar energy, power companies cannot.

SILAGY: The only way to really efficiently store power on a small scale is through batteries, large batteries. But to do so on a large scale, it's just not technically feasible and very, very expensive.

CANDIOTTI: So panels can only work during the day. At night, this Florida power plant will still have to use old-fashioned and expensive fossil fuels. Jessie Prado plans one day to be energy independent.

PRADO: That it will pay itself off probably seven years. Seven to 12 years depending on how much you've invested into it. But then after that, you don't have to pay for power anymore.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): A house this size, about 1,600 square feet, can cost about $40,000 to convert to solar power, including all those panels on the roof. But with state and federal rebates, the out of pocket costs can be cut in half.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Boca Raton, Florida.


ROBERTS: Some great ideas out there, though. Nine minutes after the hour. Oily Velshi is back again. I think I'm going to --


ROBERTS: I'm going to employ Rip Van Winkle Principle here. I'm going to go to sleep for 20 years and see how this all turns out, because it's not like I can get away.

VELSHI: And you can't go anyway. You can talk about oil prices and it really could go either way, because at some point when oil prices continue to go as high as they do and gas prices go as high as they do, you see something what you just described as destruction of demand.

You literally destroy the demand for it because it becomes too expensive and people find alternatives. Oil hitting $143.67 this morning -- by far another record. That's up more than $3 from where it closed on Friday evening.

Now, part of the issue here, there's something real going on. There's been an attack on a Shell facility in Nigeria. Nigeria is very, very important to us. In fact, let me just give you a sense of the countries from which the United States imports oil in their order.

Canada is the number one country from which we get oil, 1.7 million barrels a day. That's more than we get from Saudi Arabia, one-and-a- half million barrels a day. Then, Mexico, 1.2 million. Nigeria is 1.1 million. So, it's the fourth largest source of U.S. oil. After that is Venezuela at 800,000.

So, we hear more about Venezuela but, in fact, Nigeria is more important to the United States in terms of oil and there are problems with the oil supply in Nigeria. There are sort of tensions in Nigeria, which cause attacks on these sites.

So, today's move in oil is more real than not. In other days when I sit here and we've seen a spike in oil and it looks like it's just because maybe you touched the barrel or something. This one actually has something behind it.

ROBERTS: Yes. That works though.

CHETRY: I have an idea for you.

VELSHI: What's that?

CHETRY: We saw the piece on solar panels. Get some for your head.

VELSHI: I think it's a brilliant --


CHETRY: Just put a couple on there. You got room.

VELSHI: Yes, I got no hair to mess up. Why not?

ROBERTS: You know he's going to come back for his next appearance and have a bunch of solar panels stuck to his head.

CHETRY: I was hoping.


ROBERTS: Iraq is supposed to be cutting deals with a lot of these oil companies in the very near future.

VELSHI: Yes. Within the week, we will hear -- yes, within the week, we'll probably hear deals about Iraq, which has got its output up to about 2 million barrels a day, which is very significant. And now we're going to have deals to actually process that oil and get it on to the market.

So, that actually should have some impact because Iraq also is really ramping up its oil production. So, that's something.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks.


ROBERTS: More trouble for singer Amy Winehouse. She punches a fan during a weekend concert and it's all caught on tape.

CHETRY: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING -- wounds of war.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see people dying next to you, it's dramatic.


CHETRY: Thousands of vets back from Iraq and Afghanistan, living on the streets. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my veterans lived down here on a park bench right across from the White House.


CHETRY: A look at what the government is doing to help and why it's worried more are on the way. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: It's 14 minutes after the hour now. The Mississippi River is expected to crest today in St. Louis. The National Weather Service says that it is going to be more than 38 feet above flood stage. Upstream, the water is dropping in Winfield, Missouri. Sandbagging efforts there failed to hold back the water from farmland, which is now too wet to work until September.

Rob Marciano tracking it all at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta now.

Hey, Rob.


ROBERTS: I went through one of those rainstorms in New Jersey yesterday, the Amtrak is -- it's going 100 miles an hour in this blinding rain storm. It was like being in the middle of a hurricane. It was incredible.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm jealous. Sounds like fun.

CHETRY: You should have filed an I-report so we could have seen it.

MARCIANO: That's right. Come on.

CHETRY: Thanks, Rob.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." America's war heroes return home and then sometimes end up living on city streets. Why is it happening and what's being done to help them?

Also, courting the Latino vote. Barack Obama and John McCain both reaching out to Hispanic voters. So, where do they stand on immigration issues? And are they really that different?

ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING -- treated like royalty.




ROBERTS: Women in Japan paying to be waited on and worshipped by Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rules are a little different.


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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I haven't told anybody about it back home yet.



CHETRY: Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the country. Presidential rivals John McCain and Barack Obama are now trying to earn the support of that crucial voting bloc and both are vowing to revamp immigration policy.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When he was running for his party's nomination, he walked away from that commitment. He said that he wouldn't even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: People have come here illegally; have none of the protections that individuals have who are citizens. So, they are preyed upon and they are mistreated from time to time.


CHETRY: Dana Bash is covering the candidates this morning. Both of them facing some challenges when it comes to courting the Hispanic community. And it's not all about immigration, is it?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, you're exactly right, Kiran. You talk to political strategists who are really focused on figuring out how to court the Hispanic vote. They say, obviously, the headline grabber, the national dialogue, when it comes to that community has been about immigration.

But that if these candidates want to get Hispanic voters, they need to focus a lot more on some of the issues that really affect almost every American, particularly the economy. And they say that small business owners, in particular, they are part of the growing segment of the Latino community. So that is something that if these candidates have to get to.

But when you look at what your question was, the challenges, Kiran, that these candidates face, they both do. They both have, actually, credibility challenges with the community. Barack Obama is an unknown quantity to them. Remember during the Democratic primaries, he did not do well compared to Hillary Clinton with the Latino voters. So he's got a lot of introducing himself to them to do, and he'll have an opportunity to do that.

When it comes to John McCain, he actually has a history of doing quite well in his home state of Arizona with the Hispanic vote. He's gotten a large, large portion of that vote. But as you just heard, Barack Obama not so subtly alludes to in his speech over the weekend.

John McCain was somebody who pushed very hard for a comprehensive immigration reform, and then during the primaries -- Republican primaries when that was not popular. He said, we've got to secure the border first before we do anything else. So, you know, many Hispanics do think when the going got tough for John McCain, he let them go.

CHETRY: You know, it's interesting because some of the polling shows -- recently has shown Barack Obama with a sizable lead among Hispanic voters. But when you take a look at their stances on immigration, are they really that different, Dana?

BASH: You know, they're really not, Kiran. We talked so much about how on most issues John McCain and Barack Obama have huge gulf between them. And the voters really do have big differences to choose from. But when it comes to immigration, not really.

They both do believe in securing the border first. At least, that's what they say. And then, they both want to start with the idea of comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship or at least some kind of worker program here in the United States.

The big difference at this point is that fence, that very controversial fence. Barack Obama had voted for that 700-mile fence. Now he's saying he doesn't think it's a very good idea. John McCain still supports that. But in terms of the big debate, the huge debate of immigration, that's pretty minor. For the most part, they are pretty much in the same place.

CHETRY: Dana Bash for us this morning in Washington. Thanks.

BASH: Thank you.

ROBERTS: 22 minutes after the hour. We know that Amy Winehouse carries a powerful tune, but does she also pack a punch? A week after leaving the hospital, she allegedly scuffles with a fan in a concert. We've got the video, coming up.

And the first U.S. ship packed with thousands of tons of food arrives in North Korea. This, just days after the government there blew up a symbol of its nuclear aspirations. Could more changes be on the way?

CHETRY: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING -- wounds of war.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see people dying next to you, it's dramatic. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Thousands of vets back from Iraq and Afghanistan, living on the streets.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my veterans lived down here on a park bench right across from the White House.


CHETRY: A look at what the government is doing to help and why it's worried more are on the way. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: 25 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." The United States is being given new special access to North Korea to deliver humanitarian food aid. An American ship arrived with 36,000 tons of food for millions of starving North Koreans.

CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour has just returned from North Korea. She joins us now live from London with more on this.

Christiane, the United States insists that the food aid is not tied to progress on the North Korean nuclear front, but you really can't help but notice the timing here.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, we broke this story yesterday on CNN. And now the World Food Programme of the United Nations is confirming it in a press release that it issued.

And you're right, that ship has docked. And it does look coincidental, but everybody is telling us that there is no linkage between food and the nuclear progress that they made. For instance, the blowing up of the cooling tower that we witnessed at Yongbyon on Friday.

Essentially, this food deal has been in the pipeline for many, many months and the U.S. has been trying and so has the U.N. to get food to North Korea because there's some 5 million to 7 million people there who are in desperate need. This is what the head of the World Food Programme in that region said about it today.


TONY BANBURY, REGIONAL DIRECTOR U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: It's really a ground-breaking agreement. It provides for the best monitoring and operating conditions that the World Food Programme has ever had in North Korea. We're going to have the largest number of international staff we've ever had going from 10 to 59. We're going to have the best access in the countryside. We're going to go from 50 counties, working in 50 counties to 128, including 7 where we've never worked before.


AMANPOUR: And this is -- you could hear what he said, ground- breaking. It is unprecedented access by the North Koreans. Not only do they have this much wider geographical area to be able to deliver food, but they're going to be able to have random, unannounced, practically surveys to make sure the real beneficiaries are getting this food.

That it doesn't just go to the government or to the military, that it goes to the beneficiaries. And again, this is a major step forward compared to any kind of such deal that they've had in the past.


ROBERTS: Christiane, this idea of much greater access and increasing the number of foreign aid workers there in the country by a factor of six, could this be an early indication that perhaps Kim Jong-Il is willing to at least in a little tiny way open up his country?

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, we've been trying to figure that out. What clearly is happening according to officials is that they're showing more openness publicly to basically declare that they cannot take care of this problem themselves.

The North Koreans cannot feed their hungry people. Therefore, they need help from the United States, from the U.N., from the NGOs, who are all going to be working together to achieve this. So what this showing is openness in admitting that they need help.

And it is interesting that it comes around the same time that these nuclear negotiations are making progress as well, and that they showed openness by bringing all of us in to witness the blowing up of that cooling tower on Friday.


ROBERTS: You know, it's a long way off. And there's obviously still a lot of hurdles to go. And nobody can say how many years it might take. But is there a chance here, Christiane, that if things continue to go as well as they have in the last few weeks that perhaps at some point, we could see a re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and North Korea?

AMANPOUR: Well, for that, we have to separate food from the nuclear talks. And certainly there's a long way to go on the nuclear disarmament of North Korea. But many are saying that what's happened so far is a very good indicator and a good deal so far.

And obviously, around that whole deal is the promise eventually of a return and a resumption of diplomatic relations. Basically, the U.S. and North Korea still at a state of war. They only have signed an armistice after the Korean War. So, yes, that is the end result that certainly the North Koreans are looking for.

ROBERTS: And just one other point on this, Christiane, is this idea of greater cooperation between North Korea and the United States, food aid in there, what we saw with the destruction of that water cooling tower last week. Is any of this really going to benefit the North Korean people or is it just a propaganda coup for the leaders there?

AMANPOUR: Well, you heard what the WFP said about the food. This is for the first time they're going to be much more secure in the knowledge. That this is going to the beneficiaries.

You know, in the past, people have been worried that food aid is used by the government to, you know, basically feed its most favored people, the military. But this apparently is going to have a much surer destination to the civilian beneficiaries we're told.

And it's going to be monitored. And they are going to be able to have what -- they told me, was this random access, whereas in the past when they've wanted to see how food has been distributed, they've had to wait two weeks or more for permission.

Now they're being told in this brand new letter of understanding with North Korea, that they would be able to go out within a day or so of requesting the permission to go out. And it's countrywide. So they're hoping that this is really definitely going to benefit the people.

ROBERTS: It certainly would be some good news if North Korea follows through on that. Christiane Amanpour for us in London. Christiane, great to see you.

CHETRY: Now a look at some of the other top stories this morning. The secret U.S. plan for Iran. A brand new article suggesting that the Bush administration may be preparing for a possible military strike. It says the U.S. is setting up covert ops and commando raids inside of Iran to dig up more intel on Iran's nuclear program. The White House is not commenting but the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad is denying that report.

And Zimbabwe's president attending the African Union summit in Egypt today amid some controversy. Robert Mugabe was sworn in yesterday following a campaign of violence and voter intimidation. The council of former world leaders led by Nelson Mandela is urging the African Union to, "clearly state that Zimbabwe's runoff vote was illegitimate."

And violent protests continue in South Korea against the government's decision to resume U.S. beef imports. Police raided the offices of groups organizing the riots, arresting one leader. U.S. beef has been banned or had be banned since 2003 after the first U.S. mad cow cases were discovered.

And rebuilding at the World Trade Center site will be delayed by up to three years and cost $3 billion more than planned. That's according to the "Wall Street Journal" and people familiar with the project. The delays mean that the September 11th memorial will not open in time for the 10th anniversary of those attacks.

They are casualties of war, veterans who have fallen on hard times and are now forced to live on the street, some just back from fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. And it's a problem that is expected to get worse. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more for us. Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, it is one of the great tragedies of war, homeless veterans living on the street.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing, man? Are you a vet?

STARR: Lunchtime at a Washington, D.C. soup kitchen. James Street is reaching out. If any of these homeless men are veterans, he will try to help.



STREET: When can you come over to talk to me at the VA?

STARR: Street works at the Department of Veterans Affairs trying to get homeless vets into shelters. A regular stop outside the most powerful address in the world, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

STREET: I have had homeless veterans here. One of my veterans lived down here in the park bench right across from the White House.

STARR: There are about 150,000 homeless vets nationwide, according to the V.A.. About 2,000 fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joseph Jacobo, who has been homeless since returning from Iraq two years ago. At one point he went four days without food.

JOSEPH JACOBO, HOMELESS VETERAN: I had to live day by day not knowing when I would get my next meal or to be able to shower the next day. I mean, I get stinky. Believe me, I get stinky.

STARR: Jacobo is now in a shelter dealing with post traumatic stress.

JACOBO: When you think when you get to see people dying next to you, it's traumatic. It stays with you for a long time.

STARR: The V.A. worries post combat stress is leading to a rise in homelessness in today's vets.

PETE DOUGHERTY, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: They come back. They're having night trauma. They're having difficulty sleeping. They're feeling alienated. These guys, they go to Iraq and Afghanistan with the intent that, yes, I'm going to go serve my country but I'm going to come home and I'm going to slip right into where I was and I won't be affected. Well, they will be affected.

STARR: Veterans experts tell us their big worry, what will happen over the next three to five years as more troops return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kiran, John.


ROBERTS: Barbara Starr this morning.

And 34 minutes after the hour. Veronica de la Cruz here with other stories, new this morning and some hot politics to talk about today.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Good morning to you, John and Kiran. And good morning to all of you out there. The McCain campaign firing back today in a military war of words. The man who prosecuted the war in Kosovo says John McCain's military background does not qualify him to become a commander in chief. Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" Retired General Wesley Clark who's an adviser to Barack Obama said while he honors McCain's service, the presumptive republican nominee never held executive responsibility.


GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), U.S. ARMY: That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.


DE LA CRUZ: The McCain campaign fired back saying "if Barack Obama wants to question John McCain's service to his country, he should have the guts to do it himself and not hide behind his campaign surrogates. Barack Obama has a responsibility to condemn these attacks."

in the meantime, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are expected to talk as early as today. Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe says they will connect soon. Now that the former president just returned from a trip to Europe. He also said the former president is not angry and will get firmly behind Barack Obama.


TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: As it relates to Barack Obama, he will go 24/7. He is fine. Is he somewhat angry as I am and others at some of the treatment Hillary received from the press? Sure. But you know, that's life. We don't talk about it anymore. We're past that.


DE LA CRUZ: McAuliffe went on to say he's certain Hillary Clinton's die-hard supporters will also follow suit and support Obama.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says it's pointless to attempt putting an anti-same-sex marriage measure on California's November ballot. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Schwarzenegger offered his own opinion but countered it by saying it's not his decision.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I personally believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. But at the same time, I think that my belief, I don't want to force on anyone else. So I think that we should stay with the decision of the Supreme Court and move forward. There are so many other more important issues that we have to address in California. So I think to spend any time on this initiative I think is a waste of time.


DE LA CRUZ: On the political front, Governor Schwarzenegger says he thinks republicans will keep all their seats on Capitol Hill. He also says both parties have to do more to work together.

In Hollywood, it's on the verge of another strike. At midnight tonight, a contract between the Screen Actors Guild and the studios expires. So far the two sides remain deadlocked but union leaders insist they are willing to negotiate into July before authorizing a strike. At issue, how actors are compensated for DVDs and products they promote in shows.

And now, back to John and Kiran. It really is tough times. First we saw the writers and now the actors. And what, the last strike wrapped up just five months ago.

ROBERTS: They're going to delay "24" for another year.

CHETRY: No. That's what we want to know, are the shows going to be in trouble? Apparently the movies are wrapping Monday. They're trying to wrap them as quickly as possible.

ROBERTS: My only connection to Jack Bauer these day is the ring on my blackberry.

CHETRY: Enjoy it. That's all you've got if they go on strike.

ROBERTS: Not lasting very long. Thanks, Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: Of course.

ROBERTS: Grammy award-winning singer Amy Winehouse making news again after allegedly punching a fan at a concert in England. The swipe caught on tape.

CHETRY: And with the price of oil hitting a new record today, everybody is feeling the pain at the pump. While oil companies make record profits, the station owners say they are just barely scraping by. It's forcing more and more to close their doors.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, on bended knee. Japanese women finally turn the tables on the men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, my princesses.

ROBERTS: Worship and waited on, tiara and tea. The catch? Most of the men are American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Yes, my princess.

ROBERTS: You're watching the most news in the morning,.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was English teaching or nothing. Apparently, there is other work for us out here.


ROBERTS: Coming up now 20 minutes to the top of the hour and new trouble this morning for singer Amy Winehouse. The Grammy winner throwing what looked like a punch at a fan during a concert. AMERICAN MORNING's entertainment correspondent Lola Ogunnaike joins us now with four of the five w's, where, when, what and why.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, where, London, Glastobury, at a festival. Amy Winehouse was singing her hit which has become a classic "Rehab" walked out into the audience, appeared to be doing well for the time being and then all of a sudden threw a punch.


ROBERTS: There it is.


ROBERTS: There's a bodyguard standing between her and the camera but you can definitely see she threw something.

OGUNNAIKE: She actually got two jabs off.


OGUNNAIKE: It's surprising. This girl is only 105 pounds but she's got the heart of a lion. I mean, she has fought her husband many times. We've seen that in the press and here she is going after a fan.

ROBERTS: Do we know what sparked this?

OGUNNAIKE: Well, apparently, witnesses say she was groped and that's what prompted her to lash out at the fan. She doesn't have a history lashing out at a fan. She usually inflicts pain on herself or her husband but not on her fans. So this is a bit of a shocker.

ROBERTS: She seemed to be out to a great start this year. She did very well at the Grammy Awards, a performance that was brought in by remote because she couldn't come here in the United States. OGUNNAIKE: She couldn't get a visa her to perform, so she had to perform there. And she put on a great show. She won five Grammys that night, John, including best new artist and everyone thought she was on the road to recovery. But apparently not.

ROBERTS: So, what happened?

OGUNNAIKE: I mean, in recent weeks, she's been diagnosed with emphysema. Her father came out and said too much crack and too many cigarettes have led her to the early stages of emphysema.

ROBERTS: Can they walked back on that? Right?

OGUNNAIKE: They walked back on it a little bit. They said it wasn't full blown emphysema, just the early stages of emphysema. And then she got dropped from the "James Bond" sound track. Then there was this weird racist song that came out on the internet that wasn't supposed to ever make it out but her husband apparently taped and someone leaked it. So she's just been having a rough few weeks, which is truly unfortunate because I think it's fair to say that she is one of the best voices of her generation, if only she would get it together.

ROBERTS: Extraordinarily talented individual but, you know, tragic.

OGUNNAIKE: We just don't want her to become a cliche.

ROBERTS: She can take a good shot once in a while, though. Lola, thanks so much for that.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.


CHETRY: Well, there's a cancer warning about CT scans. Some doctors now say the machines used to detect the disease could actually cause it in some cases. So, if one is ordered for you or your child, what should you ask the doctor? We'll talk about it.


CHETRY (voice-over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, out of business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are watching their pennies. Things are getting very tight.

CHETRY: Think the guys selling the gas are raking it in? Think again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving up my life dream.

CHETRY: Why mom and pop are closing the shop.

You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Following breaking news right now. Record gas prices and oil prices. In early morning trading, the price of oil topped $143 per barrel. Meanwhile, AAA reporting the national average for a gallon of gas, regular unleaded now $4.086 cents. And as the price of oil and gas continue to climb we all feel the pain in our pocket any time we head to the pump but these record breaking prices are also hitting gas station owners. As our Allan Chernoff found out, it's forcing some stations to shut their doors for good.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ray Netschert is out, out of the gas station business after 30 years.

RAY NETSCHERT, RETIRING GAS STATION OWNER: Emotionally for me, I'm giving up my life dream which was to always have a service station and work with people and fix their cars.

CHERNOFF: But Ray never dreamed he'd be selling gas at more than four bucks a gallon. And the higher the price has climbed, Ray says, the more it shaved his profits.

NETSCHERT: People are watching their pennies. I think things are getting very tight.

CHERNOFF: And that was hitting you?

NETSCHERT: It was hitting us because the gas volume was decreasing and we have to make a certain amount of profit to stay in business.

CHERNOFF: Ray knows a thing or two about business. He's an MBA. He quit working as a financial analyst to buy his own station. The financials of selling gas, he says, are now stacked against the independent station owner, including big upfront expenses, $35,000 to fell his tanks and rising credit card fees.

When Ray opened the station in the summer of 1978, he was charging 60 cents a gallon. He sold his final gallons on Thursday at $4.09. Ray says he made about ten cents a gallon profit. Most customers, he says, don't blame him for soaring prices. They point to the oil giants.

NETSCHERT: I think the oil companies are getting such excess profits. I mean, when you see the billions of dollars they're making in profit, even as a financial person, it just boggles my mind that they can get away with it.

CHERNOFF: The truth is the money isn't in selling gas at retail anymore. Ray says he earned most of his money repairing cars.

NETSCHERT: The repairs was our livelihood. Yes. Gasoline was just something you had to have.

CHERNOFF: So when a neighboring medical practice offered to buy his property, Ray knew it was a no-brainer. He had to sell. Even though he's only 63 and in good health. NETSCHERT: I think the small businesses in the gas business are going to be dinosaurs.

CHERNOFF: The right offer came at the right time for Ray, who now plans to enjoy retirement with his wife, Carol, and keep his driving to a minimum. Allan Chernoff, CNN, Short Hills, New Jersey.


ROBERTS: Well, CNN NEWSROOM is just minutes away now and Heidi Collins is at the CNN Center with a look at what lies ahead. Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, John. Issue number one as you know in the NEWSROOM rundown, the oil and gas records sure to weigh on investors today. We are stay up to date on the stock market's now in bare territory. We'll talk about that.

Plus, President Bush signing a bill to pay for war in about an hour from now. Live coverage of that.

And the army critiques its own performance after the Iraq invasion.

Plus, we'll lighten up your day a bit with this, outhouse races in Minnesota. You bet you.

Also, why is the number of millionaires booming in North Dakota? We'll tell you why. Coming up in the NEWSROOM top of the hour on CNN. John.

ROBERTS: Nothing like a good outhouse race, I always say.

COLLINS: You got it.

ROBERTS: See you in about 12 minutes.


ROBERTS: Two recent studies say CT scans are increasing patients' risks for cancer. The life saving machines deliver up to 500 times the radiation of standard x-rays. What you need to ask the doctor if you need a scan.


KAYLEE MARIE RADZYMINSKI, YOUNG WONDER: I've always had a very special place in my heart for the military. They sacrifice so much for us. Why can't I do a little bit to give back to them? I got to talking with the military personnel and I asked them what was the number one thing you missed. First thing was of course their families but second to that was entertainment.

My name is Kaylee Marie Radzyminski. I've been sending CDs and DVDs overseas to our troops to bring a little bit of home and a little bit of entertainment. I started asking my friends and got all mine together, then eventually it spread to the community and now it's a nationwide project.

Sacrificing a little bit to have such a large outcome of happy soldiers is so worth it.


ROBERTS: Top videos right now on The death of a 20-year-old supermodel is being called a suicide this morning. Ruslana Korshunova whose face graced the cover of "Vogue" apparently jumped from the ninth floor of her Manhattan apartment building.

Also grabbing attention this morning. Up for adoption. Hundreds of cats and dogs that have been abandoned in the midwest floods are looking for homes this morning.

And back in the U.S.S.R., well sort of, the "Piano Man" himself rocking Russia on his new DVD called "The Stranger, 30th anniversary edition."

CHETRY: Well, CT or C.A.T. scans have as much as 500 times the radiation of conventional x-rays and some doctors are now warning that the life saving machines may actually be risking patients' lives when it comes to possibly getting cancer. CNN's medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is in Atlanta with more. Hi, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi. Good morning, Kiran. Kiran, there is no question, radiation is not good. It has definitely been linked to cancer. So let's talk about this study that doctors did. They wanted to see how much radiation have we all been exposed to. So, they randomly selected a group of emergency room patients and here's what they found out. Now, just to give you perspective, your basic chest x-ray will give you 0.02 MSVs of radiation. Don't worry what MSV is. It's just a unit of measurement. These patients in the study averaged 40 MSVs. That's quite a bit. The difference between 0.02 which is tiny and 40. That's a big difference. 12 percent of the people in the study had 100 or more. They had been exposed to 100 or more MSVs of radiation.

Again, that is a pretty big number. The difference between 0.02 and 100, that's a big difference. So this study showed that there is no question that people are being exposed to radiation and at least in this study, that radiation was mostly coming from C.A.T. scans. Kiran.

CHETRY: And did they find that radiation was enough to cause cancer?

COHEN: What experts have found generally is that each C.T. scan you get increases your risk of getting cancer but by a small, some would say by a tiny, amount. So the bottom line is, if you need a C.T. scan, get one, it could save your life but make sure that you really need it. Of course I can hear people saying, how do I know if I need a C.T. scan? If my doctor says I need one, don't I need one? The answer to that is maybe not. There's a growing concern that doctors are over prescribing C.T. scan. So, here's some questions to ask your doctor. Ask your doctor, is there an alternative, is there something else like an ultrasound I can have that wouldn't give me radiation. Also ask, have I had the C.T. scan already? You may have had the same scan but at a different hospital and it's too much of a pain to get it from the other hospital so they're just going to do a new one. That's not a good idea. Thirdly, if it's a child, ask is my child getting a pediatric dose of radiation? This is crucial. Too many kids are getting adult doses of radiation. Basically, you need to advocate for yourself. And we talk a lot about this at CNN. If you go to, you can learn more about how to advocate for yourself and your family in today's health care system. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Good advice. Elizabeth Cohen in Atlanta for us. Thanks.

COHEN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Five minutes now to the top of the hour. Like women all over the world, Japanese women can get burned out with the rigors of daily life but a new Tokyo Cafe offers them an escape where they're waited on hand and foot by Western men. We go inside the cafe. You're watching the most news in the morning.


ROBERTS: Like many of their American counterparts, women in Japan can get worn out from the pressures of work, career and family.

CHETRY: So now one Tokyo cafe is trying a little tenderness, offering fairy tale pampering with a Western twist. CNN's Kyung Lah reports from Tokyo.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Kyra. What we can tell you about Japan is that there is a certain fascination with America and the western world. Well, we've learned that fascination extend to Western men.


LAH (voice-over): And they lived happily ever after, just like the fairy tale says, right? Not always.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, my princesses.

LAH: The dream life meets real life at the butler's cafe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every princess needs --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your special tiara.

LAH: Yes, those are tiaras gracing the heads of giddy customers or -


LAH: As they're called here. They're served sweets and teas and surrounded by flowers by a dashing man on bended knee. And not just any man, all of the servers are Western men. Innocent fun, nothing more they say, here at your beck and call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Yes, my princess.

LAH: Do you sell these?

THOR HELGASON, BUTLER'S CAFE: I thought it was English teaching or nothing but, no, apparently there is other work for us down here.

LAH: The owner came up with the concept by walking through the streets of Shibuya. She spoke to 200 women who all told her the same thing. They wanted a cafe where the waiters were male, good looking, would treat them nice, but most importantly, were Western.

YUKI HIROHATA, BUTLER'S CAFE OWNER: Being a gentleman is embarrassing for Japanese men says cafe owner, Yuki Hirohata. Our culture isn't like that. Hirohata says women are exhausted by the rules of Japanese society, unyielding in its expectations of a woman's role in maintaining a career, home, husband and family. "We're tired from our daily lives," says this customer. These guys are different than Japanese men. They're smoother and make me feel special.

CHRISTOPHER DEVERILL, BUTLER'S CAFE: I think for the princesses it's refreshing to see this guy that's confident, like, hey, how are you?

LAH: Prince charming.

DEVERILL: Maybe, prince charming.

LAH: Brendan Reed, a native of Chicago, Illinois, doesn't mind being the object of their affection.

BRENDAN REED, BUTLER'S CAFE: You have bars for men and women, you have Hooters. You have a lot of places where you're going into kind of a special place or a special area where rules are a little different.

HELGASON: Something I haven't told anybody about back home yet.

LAH: I think the cat is out of the bag.

HELGASON: I guess I'm going to have to now.

DEVERILL: Three, two, one, lift.

LAH: Campy, silly perhaps. But for just one lunch, these ladies told us, it is their storybook come to life. John, Kiran.


ROBERTS: Hey, they got Hooters, so why not the Princess Cafe, huh?

CHETRY: That's right. Those guys they don't mind being the hooters of Japan. How about it?

ROBERTS: Thor's going to be a big hit in his native Canada, isn't he? When he tells them all about that. Thanks very much for joing us on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'll see you again this afternoon in "THE SITUATION ROOM" and we'll see you here tomorrow morning. CNN NEWSROOM begins with Heidi Collins now.