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CNN NEWSROOM

Cop Kills Cop in New York City; GM Shares Drop Below $1; Threat of Cyberattacks Growing; Harvard Student Protests Expulsion; Financial Advice About Mortgages and Paying for Education; "Jon and Kate Plus 8" under PA Labor Investigation

Aired May 29, 2009 - 13:59   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM in New York, East Harlem, where a plainclothes police officer is dead because of a fellow cop. He apparently didn't recognize him. The second officer opened fire at a man he saw aiming a gun at another man who had broken into his car.

Well, we get the story now from Anthony Johnson from CNN affiliate WABC.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just standing in the store. I heard, like, maybe six or five shots go off. Then I had seen the police cars running down the block, but I didn't know what happened.

ANTHONY JOHNSON, WABC REPORTER (voice-over): The scene was one of chaos and confusion, compounded by the revelation that a cop had fired fatal shots on a colleague who was pursuing an alleged thief breaking into a car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officer that got killed don't look like the type of person drawing a gun out here that would be robbing somebody. So, I think they should have known that this guy had something to do with some law enforcement.

JOHNSON: Officer Omar Edwards had just left work and saw the thief rummaging through his car. Edwards' car was parked on Second Avenue and the window had been broken out.

The off-duty cop, in plains clothes without a vest, pulled his gun and went after the thief. As the two came face to face, members of an NYPD anti-crime unit came on the scene. A sergeant and two officers jumped out the car. That's when something went terribly wrong.

COMM. RAY KELLY, NYPD: When they observed Officer Edwards with his gun out, pursuing a second man, they made a U-turn on 125th Street and drove west towards them. One of the officers, after exiting the vehicle, fired six times from his .9 millimeter Glock, striking Officer Edwards twice. The bullet struck officer Edwards in the left arm and in the chest.

JOHNSON: Officer Edwards had been on the police force two years and is black. The officer who fired has four and a half years on the force and is white. Authorities say they are checking to see if race was a factor in this tragic shooting. Residents have already expressed their opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe they should have asked him who is he before they shot him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right. So, this isn't the first time that a plainclothes police officer has mistaken for a perp and paid with his life.

And CNN security analyst, Mike Brooks, he spent 26 years with the D.C. Police Department. He knows this issue very well.

And Mike, I've got to ask you, how do police departments sort out really the crooks from the cops? Because oftentimes, you know, when it's dark, and especially if someone is undercover or off duty, you really don't know.

MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: No, Don, you really don't know. You know, a lot of people are saying this is a black/white issue. No, this is a blue-on-blue issue. This is one officer shooting another officer. The officer who did the shooting...

LEMON: Whoa, hang on. Hang on. Who said it was a black/white issue? It's the first time I really heard about that. I read the story...

BROOKS: Well, here in New York City, that is what everybody's talking about, because if it was a white officer who shot another white officer, would we even be talking about -- you know, mentioning race? No, we wouldn't. We'd say a cop shot another cop.

It has nothing to do about race, Don. It has to do with an officer shooting someone who was armed.

I'm hearing from my sources -- I was out today talking to cops both -- you know, from NYPD, and they're saying that apparently the officer did tell him to stop, drop it. He started to turn, and that's when the officer opened fire.

LEMON: All right. It's -- wow. It's very interesting here...

BROOKS: Yes.

LEMON: ... when -- you know, to hear all of that, because somehow, you know, in these instances, especially when it involves a police department...

BROOKS: Right.

LEMON: ... many times it comes back to race.

BROOKS: Right. LEMON: Especially in New York cities and other large cities here. So, I had not heard that. That's a very interesting aspect of the story.

BROOKS: Well, you know, we heard our affiliate reporter to say they're going to look in to see if race played an issue. And just as I said, it's not about race, it's about one officer killing another officer. A tragic accident. But it will be investigated.

They're going to take a look at all the video cameras in that area. They even did -- they did arrest the perp who Officer Edwards was chasing, so they're going to find out what he has to say and any other witnesses who were there on the scene.

LEMON: OK. So, to prevent this from happening, because, you know, we gave the stats, Mike, about how often this happens to police officers. But what does the New York City Police Department, or even other police departments need to do to prevent these tragedies?

BROOKS: You know, it's very, very tough to train for incidents like this. We do train, and they do have -- they talk about a color of the day. If you're a plainclothes officer and you're out working, like these anti-crime cops do, and you are arresting a perp, you've got a color band on you so uniformed officers won't mistaken you as a perp.

LEMON: That's one thing; right?

BROOKS: That's one thing. But, see, this guy was off duty. So, you don't carry around a band when you're off duty.

LEMON: Well, Mike, I'm surprised that he didn't identify himself. Or maybe he did. Maybe the investigation needs to continue, because...

BROOKS: Absolutely.

LEMON: ... when it's something like that, usually they yell out "Police officer!"

BROOKS: Yes. You know, I'm a cop, and a lot of times a cop's even off duty.

And I used to do the same thing, Don. If I was in D.C. or anywhere else, I would carry my badge around my neck, and if I got into an off-duty incident, I would take that badge out and it would be prominently displayed.

LEMON: And show it.

BROOKS: Exactly.

LEMON: Hey, real quickly, I've got to run here, but where do you see this as going?

BROOKS: I say let this investigation play out. You know, right now, it looks like an unfortunate accident of a blue-on-blue incident, one officer killing another officer by mistake.

LEMON: All right. Former D.C. police officer for many, many years and now security analyst here, Mike Brooks.

We appreciate it. Thank you, Mike.

BROOKS: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: All right. So what can you buy with a dollar? A candy bar? A can of soda? I don't know if you can even do that these days, and now a piece of the nation's biggest automaker, I would imagine. Today, shares of General Motors tumbled below $1.00. Susan Lisovicz following the story for us from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Susan, $1.00. I would ask you how significant this is, but it is pretty significant. That's almost a penny stock.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Don, it's a historic moment, no question about it. The last time GM traded below $1.00 a share on this trading floor was in 1933, the depth of the Great Depression.

We've been witnessing a breathtaking collapse in GM's stock price over the past year, the culmination of record-high gas prices and then the severity of the recession, as consumers stopped buying big-ticket items, and certainly automobiles were among them. To put it in perspective, Don, GM's shares were trading at $94.00 a share in the year 2000. So, earlier this decade.

Breaking a buck today is just another sign that GM's filing for bankruptcy all but certain. GM shares practically worthless now, would be wiped out in the bankruptcy process.

Right now I'm standing by the trading post. GM shares trading at 80 cents a share. That's a decline of about 30 percent, or about 30 cents. That's how far it's come.

One other thing I should mention, Don, GM is a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. That's the creme de la creme of American business, the equivalent of the NBA all-star team.

It has held that membership of 30 stocks in that average since 1925. If it does file for bankruptcy, it will be automatically disqualified. And this really could be GM's final trading day, final full trading day, with June 1st looming.

LEMON: Yes. They call it the gold standard, but apparently no longer.

Thank you very much for that, Susan Lisovicz. We appreciate it.

Tonight on CNN, Ali Velshi and Christine Romans explore the past, the present and the future of U.S. carmakers. "HOW THE WHEELS CAME OFF: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE AMERICAN AUTO INDUSTRY," airs tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN. You know what? No one is immune from an online attack right now -- you, me, even the commander in chief. President Obama fires a new volley in the battle against cyberterrorism. We'll show you what the enemy is capable of.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. It's an invisible menace that could ruin your entire life. Cyberterror can shut down your electricity, it can shut down your cell phone, the Internet, and even your bank account. And not even the president himself is immune.

Plus, imagine this -- all those planes that you see in the flight tracker right there in the skies over America. Imagine those planes with suddenly no communications, no place to land. The fear is very real, so don't discount it.

The numbers are really staggering. Cyberattacks on government and private networks in the U.S. jumped from 4,095 in 2005 to 72,065 just last year.

Now, numbers like that prompted President Obama to announce a new cyber czar position today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know how it feels to have privacy violated because it has happened to me and the people around me. It's no secret that my presidential campaign harnessed the Internet and technology to transform our politics. What isn't widely known is that during the general election, hackers managed to penetrate our computer systems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, campaign and election headquarters' computers, well, they might be the least of our worries when it comes to cyberterror. Imagine this -- one mouse click could knock your lights out and a whole lot of other things.

CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve shows us how it's done.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Could a foreign entity turn off our power from afar with a computer mouse? Two former federal officials tell CNN hackers have embedded software in the electric grid that could potentially disrupt the system or even destroy equipment.

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: You know, I don't think it's appropriate for me to confirm that one way or the other. But what I can say is that the vulnerability has been something that the Department of Homeland Security and the energy sector have known about for years. MESERVE: It is hard to trace the origin of covert cyber activities but there is heavy suspicion that China and Russia are involved.

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: This is deterrence, in the event of war they're going to have another weapon at their disposal which would be to turn off our power.

MESERVE: But the power grid is not the only vulnerable sector. According to the former officials, malicious code has also apparently been found in the computer systems of the oil and gas telecommunications and financial services industries. What is discovered can be destroyed, but experts doubt everything has been found.

SCOTT BORG, U.S. CYBER CONSEQUENCES UNIT: If you have somebody who knows what they're doing, writing that code and embedding it in a clever way, you can look right at it and not recognize it.

MESERVE: The implications are extraordinarily serious.

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: When I think of terrorism I think of high end WMD terrorism, nuclear biological weapons and I put cyber right in the same category. Not because of the likely loss of life. I put it up there because of the likely economic impact.

MESERVE (on camera): In 2007, a government experiment demonstrated that a cyber attack could destroy electrical equipment. But critics say the electric industry has not done enough to ferret out cyber vulnerabilities or close them. The industry says it is making progress.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Wow. OK.

Now let's talk to a man who took on the cyber threat but didn't have big enough guns to fight it. That's according to him. His name is Rod Beckstrom, and he recently resigned as head of the Homeland Security Department's National Cybersecurity Center after serving for just one year.

So, you said you didn't have big enough guns there? Is that true?

ROD BECKSTROM, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY CENTER: Well, yes. I mean, it takes time to create a new startup in the federal government. And we actually got the policies and authorities created, but we didn't get the financial support that we needed to really build out the organization and get moving.

LEMON: OK. Obviously the administration is taking these threats, though, very seriously. As you know, the president is announcing a czar there. And I hear that you are -- were you up for this position, just out of full disclosure?

BECKSTROM: Well, you know, my name has been bandied about, and I'm honored to have heard that my name has been on a list, but I've made it clear it's not time for me to move back to Washington, D.C., right now, although I look forward to serving again someday.

LEMON: All right, let's get to the meat of this. I just wanted to disclose that just in case something happened to you.

Let's get to the meat of this. So, you know, when it comes to threats like this, especially, you know, cyberterror, and even with the Internet, we're far behind the technology.

Do we have the technology? Do we have the know-how in the country in order to fix this quickly in case -- what if something happened tomorrow, in a worst-case scenario?

BECKSTROM: Look, we are vulnerable. Everyone in the world is vulnerable.

The Internet was designed to be flexible and open, not to be stable and secure. And the more things we connect this network to, the more the vulnerability goes. So, something could happen at any moment.

I mean, what's happening right now as you and I speak is someone's identity is being stolen on the Internet, and they're losing their money, or some business is having their funds stolen. So, there's activity going on every day.

There's not yet been a national calamity, and obviously we hope that one doesn't happen soon. But we have to get prepared for this. And it's excellent that the president is personally focusing on this issue.

LEMON: All right, you say we have to get prepared for this. So, what do we do? What is the first thing we need to do here?

BECKSTROM: The first thing we need to do is hire the private sector to help us protect the federal networks and systems, because our American telecommunications companies are extremely sophisticated, and we have not been adequately leveraging them to help protect the federal networks. And we need to start putting more money into efforts in the government that do have cyber payoffs, like the great work of the FBI in investigation and DOJ prosecutions, Secret Service, also groups like NIST, which develops the standards and technology.

Overall, though, Don, the most important thing is we need to evolve the architecture of the Internet itself for security. We can make it more secure. We've got to do the R&D to do that and invest in new protocols.

LEMON: Hey, Rod, I really have 30 seconds here, and I've got to ask you this, because you remember the blackout back in 2003, right?

BECKSTROM: Yes, sure. LEMON: And we're going to all the digital technology when it comes to televisions and everything -- Internet, phones and what have you. None of it worked during the blackout. I got in touch with a friend because she had an old analog phone.

Does advancement in technology actually make us more vulnerable?

BECKSTROM: Don, you are on such a good point here. Yes, it does make us more vulnerable, and we need to keep those old networks in place for resilience.

The federal government should be supporting the telephone companies to keep the old analog lines there. Why? So that when the Internet goes down and what's called the Internet protocol goes down, at least something is working.

LEMON: Yes.

BECKSTROM: We can't afford to put all of our eggs in one basket here.

LEMON: When there is a storm or something, you know, I have digital television. It's not there.

BECKSTROM: That's right.

LEMON: So there you go. There you go.

BECKSTROM: And if we move everything to digital, we'll make things too vulnerable. So we've got to balance it out and have some different technologies to keep some resilience.

LEMON: Hey, thank you very much, Rod Beckstrom. We appreciate it.

BECKSTROM: Great. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: A tidal wave of grief. Millions of South Koreas mourn their late former president. Many believe politics drove him to his death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, you can hear North Korea's sabers rattle. Today it test-fired its sixth short-range missile this week.

Well, the North also called the U.N. Security Council hypocrites for condemning its nuclear test on Monday and threatened stronger actions if provoked. Two Defense Department officials tell CNN satellite imagery suggests the North is getting ready to launch another long-range missile. So, Secretary Robert Gates says we're not at a crisis level, not just yet, so there are no plans to send more troops to the area.

If the North is trying to get the South's attention, well, this might have been the best time to do it -- might not have been the best time to do it. Millions of South Koreans are preoccupied with grief for their late former president and anger for their current one.

CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae files this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOHN JIE-AE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A nation overcome with grief and sadness bids an emotional farewell to the late president Roh Moo-hyun. As a hearse carrying his body left Roh's hometown of Bongha, Seoul, thousands lined the streets.

They showered the procession with yellow paper planes. This being the color of the people's movement, which the late president championed and represented.

Tens of thousands in yellow paper hats and scarves poured out their grief and sadness in a ceremony in front of city hall. Roh's supporters and close friends talked about how he was a simple man who loved his country and his people. They vowed to uphold his legacy.

The former president was accredited with furthering democracy in South Korea by giving the people a voice in deciding how a country is run. He was elected into office in 2003, promising to be a different kind of leader, one that was clean and listened to the will of the people.

But after he stepped down in 2008, Roh was tormented by a corruption scandal that tarnished his reputation. Upon his death, his supporters turned out in the millions to pay their respects to the former president, many believing that the current government's case against Roh was politically motivated.

You could sense their anger as the crowd at city hall booed when the giant screen showed the current president, Lee Myung-bak, laying flowers and bowing his head in front of the altar. Lee's government, also battling a growing nuclear threat from North Korea, is watching carefully, concerned that this giant tidal wave of grief could morph into massive anti-government protests.

Sohn Jie-Ae, CNN, Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Well, after months of laying low, George W. Bush speaks out. What our former president said about his successor and saving lives with waterboarding.

And a royal pays his respects. Britain's Prince Harry sees Ground Zero in person for the first time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It's looking like Pakistan's war on the Taliban is spilling out of the Swat Valley. Deadly bombings this week in Lahore and Peshawar could be payback for the government's offensive in the valley region. Well, the Taliban had threatened to attack cities if the government kept it up. Pakistani authorities are now beefing up security in the capital of Islamabad and say they've arrested three people linked to current threats.

So, let's talk now more about Pakistan's war that seems to be getting wider.

You see him there. He's our Reza Sayah. He joins us now from Islamabad.

Reza, why Peshawar and Lahore? What do these latest targets both have in common?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on what we've seen in this very bloody week here in Pakistan is Pakistani militants taking the fight out of the Swat Valley, where they're taking on security forces, two major cities, urban areas. And within those cities, you name it, they're going after the targets -- government buildings, civilian targets.

You take Lahore on Wednesday, you had a very powerful attack targeting a government complex. Within that complex, the police headquarters, the offices of the ISI, Pakistan's top intelligence agency.

Yesterday, you had two suicide attacks targeting check posts. And perhaps the most disturbing attack, also in Peshawar yesterday, two bombs targeting one of the busiest shopping districts in the city of Peshawar. Six people dead in that attack, Don, two of them children. And indeed, government officials in both the Taliban as well are saying these attacks are payback for the operation in Swat.

LEMON: So, Reza, tell us more. If anything, what are the Pakistani security forces doing? Are they doing anything to prevent any more of these attacks?

SAYAH: Well, after every one of these attacks, you have government officials, security officials say they are tightening security. But the problem is the strategy of the suicide attacks.

There's very little you can do to stop these attacks. Once the young men -- and many of them are teenage boys, they come from poverty-stricken families -- once they're infused with that thought in their mind, that the path to salvation is to lose your life and commit a suicide attack, commit jihad, there's very little you can do to stop them. You may stop them from getting to their main target, but some there are on the line they're going to kill somebody, they're going to injure somebody, and that's what you've seen over the past couple of days -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Reza. Here's the Taliban side here. They are saying these attacks are payback for the operation in Swat, in the Swat Valley.

Is the military offensive losing public support for them if they're saying that?

SAYAH: Well, based on what we're seeing, it's not losing public support. In fact, it's gaining support.

Some people say the public support that they've seen behind the military, behind this new civilian government, is unprecedented. There's two reasons behind that, I think.

I think one of them is the peace deal a couple of months ago with the Taliban. The Taliban then agreed to lay down their arms in return for Sharia law. They didn't keep their end of the bargain. They soldiered forth to surrounding districts.

The public did not like that. The public is also tired of these suicide attacks, especially targeting civilian areas. So, they've had it. They are asking the military, despite these attacks, to continue the offensive against the Taliban in Swat and other areas -- Don.

LEMON: Reza Sayah in Islamabad.

Thank you, Reza.

The general who oversees both of America's wars, well, he fears the turmoil in Pakistan could get a whole lot worse if the world sees photos showing U.S. troops abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. CENTCOM chief David Petraeus is joining his commander in chief in asking a federal court to keep those pictures from years ago under wraps. President Obama says the photos could put U.S. troops in danger. He wants the Supreme Court to step in here.

As for waterboarding, big-name terror suspects, well, former President Bush, well, he makes no apologies for that. In a speech last night to the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan, the former president said, and I quote here, "The first thing you do is ask, what's legal? What do the lawyers say is possible? I made the decision, within the law, to get information so I can say to myself, 'I've done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people.' I can tell you that the information we got saved lives."

Bush spoke for 90 minutes, but refused to criticize the man he calls his successor. He said he didn't appreciate it when a former president, whom he didn't name, criticized him.

Well, in just about an hour, former Presidents Bush and Clinton - well, they share a stage in Toronto. More than 5,000 people paid hundreds of dollars each to hear the 43rd and 42nd presidents talk about world affairs and take audience questions. Now, hundreds of protesters are expected to assemble nearby.

President Barack Obama is at FEMA headquarters this hour, where he is getting briefed on hurricane preparedness. The new Atlantic hurricane season starts just three days from now. It's Mr. Obama's first visit to the FEMA headquarters since he became president. Under former President Bush, FEMA faced a firestorm of criticism for its response to Hurricane Katrina. They really don't need extra attention here, but they've gotten so much. Check this out. You know what that is. Seeing a lot of it. But Jon and Kate and the eight are getting a little bit more attention, and the question here is, is the show breaking the law?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Leatherback sea turtles have been around since the age of the T-Rex, but today they are critically endangered worldwide. This week's CNN HERO single-handedly launched a drive to protect leatherbacks on her home island of Trinidad. She confronted centuries of tradition and even a few machetes to keep these giant creatures alive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is "CNN HEROES."

SUZAN LAKHAN BAPTISTE , DEFENDING THE PLANET: In Trinidad, people hunt turtles for, primarily, their meat. Twenty years ago, the beach was heavily laden with rotten turtles. The sands of the beach down there was terrible. I felt that was wrong. And I said, you know, we need to do something.

I am Suzan Lakhan Baptiste, my goal is to protect endangered leatherback turtles.

I actually came out here nightly and patrolled the beach. There would be people with machetes waiting for the turtles to nest.

I was very vigilant, and I will tell people, "this is a protected species."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I started hunting turtles with my father. Suzan brought around the change. They don't kill the turtles anymore, because of the visitors.

BAPTISTE: Today, it's so much better.

You want to come and touch the turtle?

Now we are creating sustainable livelihood through ecotours (ph) using these very turtles.

The passion that I feel, it burns me up. I have seen the fruits of our labor. But I want to see it (ph) happen in every community.

TEXT: In Suzan's community, the survival rate for leatherbacks is virtually 100 percent.

BAPTISTE: This is a leatherback turtle that we'll be viewing. The leatherback is one of the largest seven marine species.

TEXT: She now works to combat turtle slaughter throughout the Caribbean.

BAPTISTE: Our goal is to make this a model for all of the countries.

When I got started a lot of people thought I was crazy, but I love being crazy, you know? Totally, environmentally crazy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Well, if you know someone like Suzan who is doing something remarkable to protect the environment or you want to help with her work, well, go to CNN.com/heroes. Go there right now. And remember, all of our CNN HEROES are chosen from people you nominate.

Speaking of hero, this is hero status - heroine status, probably. An eighth grader from Kansas is the last kid standing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Check out her technique to help spell out the winning word that I can't even say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAVYA SHIVASHANKAR, SPELLING BEE CHAMPION: Laodicean, l-a-o-d-i- c-e-a-n, Laodicean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a champion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you see some emotion from dad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes, that word that she spelled there, yes, laodicean, means lukewarm or indifferent in matters of politics or religion. And too Miss Kavya -- Kavya? I can't even say her name. That's a tough a name. It also means $40,000 in cash and prizes, and a big congratulations from the world.

Congratulations. That is amazing. Keep it up. Keep it up.

Three days and counting until the new Atlantic hurricane season, and forecasters are already tracking a tropical depression right off the East Coast. It looks like the forecasters are talking about tracking it. I think Chad Myers is leading the charge there.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: Honestly, you guys, we could make bonehead 911 calls a daily feature on this show. I'm not kidding. Today's edition involves a drive-through, a juice box and a very persistent family. Oh, and you know what? That's just a very small part of it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, do you owe more than your home is worth? Many Americans are finding themselves in that bind these days. A lot of Americans are. Can you modify your mortgage?

CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, asks "The Help Desk" in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: We want to get you answers to your financial questions. Let's get straight to "The Help Desk."

Beth Kobliner is the author of "Get a Financial Life," and John Simons is the senior personal finance editor of "Black Enterprise" magazine.

OK, guys, let's get down to it.

Frank in Arizona asks, "We are in deferment on our mortgage, which ends June 1. We modified our loan in September, and I lost my job in January. We're hoping to modify our loan again with our current lender, we owe $650,000 on our home, it's worth" -- get this, guys -- "$258,000. What are our options?"

John, this is a tough situation. My heart goes out to them.

JOHN SIMONS, FINANCE EDITOR, "BLACK ENTERPRISE" MAGAZINE: It really is. It sounds like this guy is the perfect candidate for making home affordable programs that are being run by the federal government right now. What this guy should do immediately is go to makinghomeaffordable.gov where they will help you, walk you through the process and make sure that you're eligible for a modification done by -- your loan has to be underwritten by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, but you can -- there are options for this person.

WILLIS: And can I tell you, they have great applets, great worksheets on that Web site. It'll help you figure out how to use it.

Our next e-mail: "I would like to start an education fund for my 20-month-old daughter, but don't know the best way. What's the rule of thumb on how much I should set money aside for her?"

How much? Beth, how much should you save, and, you know, thank goodness she's asking the question, right?

BETH KOBLINER, AUTHOR, "GET A FINANCIAL LIFE": It's a great question. She has a 20-month-year-old, but if I told her the number, she would just chuck it all and have her kids never go to school again. The typical private school on average costs $26,000 for tuition; public schools are $7,000 for tuition.

WILLIS: Ouch.

KOBLINER: It's so expensive. My advice is, let's not worry about the number right now. Let's max out of what she has.

If you have a 401(k) with matching, max out of it. If you have a Roth IRA, if you're eligible, if you're a couple earning under $166,000, max out of it. Because you can't borrow for retirement, you can borrow for college.

WILLIS: And just to mention, savingforcollege.com. Great Web site to go to. "The Help Desk" is all about getting you answers. Send me an e- mail to gerri@CNN.com or log on to CNN.com/helpdesk to see more of our financial solutions.

And "The Help Desk," well, it's everywhere. Make sure to check out the latest issue of "Money" Magazine on newsstands now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, thank you very much, Gerri.

Like they really needed the extra attention. I'm talking about "Jon & Kate Plus 8," the popular reality show has attracted a lot of viewers and a spate of headlines over Jon and Kate's reportedly stormy marriage. Now the show is drawing something else -- a Pennsylvania state labor investigation.

The state wants to know if the show broke any child labor laws. The TLC series follows Jon and Kate as they raise their eight kids. TLC said it fully complies with the law.

OK, so attention, all cars. Attention all cars. Please be on the lookout for a missing juice box. Yes, it sounds ridiculous. It felt ridiculous coming out of my mouth.

An Oregon man called 911 to complain that McDonald's shorted him at the drive through. Well, police understandably were not thrilled about that. They arrested the guy for improper use of the emergency number.

His family says cops overreacted. They've already hired an attorney.

So, and just a note if you -- if you own -- if you own a health club, yelling "You're fat" probably isn't the best way to get new members there. A woman in Fort Worth, Texas, says she was walking down the street with her new baby when a guy handing out health club flyers loudly informed her that she was fat.

You can tell Rick Sanchez is sitting next to me.

Rick, dude! It's not -- it's -- OK. That she ate too many doughnuts. Did we mention...

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: He told her that?

LEMON: She'd just had a baby, man.

SANCHEZ: And then he came up and said, "Hey, do you want a membership? I hope it was a free membership!"

LEMON: She was so upset. Let me get through this and we'll talk about this. Her husband called the -- I just want to be on the record with this.

SANCHEZ: What a moron. LEMON: Police say the yeller did not commit a crime. Apparently, it's not illegal to be a complete jerk.

SANCHEZ: Exactly!

LEMON: He's not handing out flyers to the gym anymore. I know a friend who is a little bit, you know, and she walked out of the store...

SANCHEZ: Like we're all fat.

LEMON: ...the guy hit her with his shopping cart my accident, he said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt the baby." And she said "I'm not pregnant."

SANCHEZ: Well, that's different. That's a guy who just made a mistake and he's probably embarrassed and humiliated. The other guy's actually looking at somebody and calling her fat. That's ridiculous.

LEMON: So Rick, you're joining us. You're coming up at the top of the hour in a couple of minutes. You're joining us to talk about really this whole controversy. It has blown up.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

LEMON: We've been talking about this. People have been throwing around this racist word so much when it comes - like "racist," what exactly is "racist"?

SANCHEZ: Well, this is beyond that. No, no. This is me, yesterday, on my newscast, asking Tom Tancredo, former Congressman, five terms from Colorado, to come on my newscast because he's being hypercritical of Sonia Sotomayor, expecting he was going to be hypercritical and even call her a racist. He'd done it the night before on CNN.

But then, he takes it a step further, as you may have seen. And he takes it upon himself to say, she's racist because she's a member of Raza. La Raza's an organization -- it's probably the premier and largest civil rights organization and Hispanic advocacy group in the country. Hundreds of thousands of members. He said, anybody involved with this organization is a racist and he goes on to compare them to the KKK.

Well, as you might imagine -- can you guys get this shot? Go to this here. This is after the show, Don. See this here? These are blogs and articles that have been written moments after that Tancredo interview was concluded. All of these coming in within just minutes after the interview. That's just one page of them, by the way.

LEMON: Can I ask you -- can I jump in here?

SANCHEZ: And they're coming on today.

LEMON: Regardless of how you feel about it. Whatever you feel about it, we played the context of what she said in her speech yesterday. It was long, just so people could get that.

But if you disagree with it, why isn't someone on the conservative side coming out saying, "You know what, this is over the line."

SANCHEZ: That's a good question. Let's listen to what Tancredo says, and then let's pick up that conversation, which we're going to have during my hour as well.

Go ahead, hit this, Rog.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM TANCREDO (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, COLORADO: ... organization called La Raza, in this case, which is from my point of view, anyway, just nothing more than a Latino - it's a counterpart, it's a Latino KKK without the hoods and -- or the nooses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Without the hoods and without the nooses.

Now, two questions. One of them, the one you just asked.

LEMON: We got to hurry, though.

SANCHEZ: The other one is, first of all, can republicans win without Hispanics? I mean, because you've got Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday saying we don't need the Hispanics.

LEMON: No, I think we saw that in the last election. Right.

SANCHEZ: And then you have Tancredo saying this, that's a problem. And then who in the Republican Party is going to stand up and say to the guys like Newt and Rush and Tom Tancredo, guys, stop this. Stop this, you're hurting the party.

LEMON: And Rick Sanchez will take that on. I'll be watching, so I hope you answer those questions.

SANCHEZ: I think it's a great conversation. I'm not going to answer them, but I'm going to have people on who are probably argue about it.

LEMON: Well, that's what I mean. You know what I mean.

SANCHEZ: Always good to see. Have a great weekend, friend.

LEMON: Now, get out of here.

SANCHEZ: I will.

LEMON: For nine minutes.

SANCHEZ: Get out of here, you knucklehead.

LEMON: And don't be sneaking on my Twitter anymore. He was sneaking on there and wrote some very harsh things about me.

All right, thank you, Rick. We'll see you in a few minutes.

A Harvard University senior has been kicked out of her dormitory and won't be allowed to graduate after a man was killed in her dorm. Her name is Chanequa Campbell. She was informed of the decision in letters from her school.

Our Gary Tuchman has been looking into this case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chanequa Campbell had been scheduled to graduate from Harvard with honors next Thursday, but now she might never get a diploma and her lawyer says she doesn't know why.

JEFFERY KARP, CAMPBELL'S ATTORNEY: My client is owed an explanation.

TUCHMAN: No explanation necessary on where the story begins.

May 18th, a murder at this Harvard dormitory. A 20-year-old man is arrested and charged with killing this man, 21-year-old Justin Cosby; neither of them a Harvard student. The district attorney's office alleges the victim was selling marijuana to students before he was killed.

Four days later, Chanequa Campbell, attending Harvard after winning scholarships, receives two letters from the university.

KARP: The letters told her she had to leave the dorm, leave the school, not graduate. It mentioned the murder, but did it mention any role she might have had?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Campbell's lawyer says -- her lawyer says that the decision is related to the killing.

Campbell is also friends with the girlfriend of a man charged in the shooting.

Harvard says it will not comment during the police investigation.

You can find out a lot more about this story, tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, on "AC 360," only here on CNN.

Monday could mark the first day of the rest of GM's life. And a new chapter could begin today for Chrysler.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, you know, we have been talking a lot about GM and filing for Chapter 11 on Monday, but the auto industry is under pressure to build fuel-efficient vehicles. But would a GM bankruptcy derail those plans?

I want to bring in now Alison Kosik with our "Energy Fix" from New York.

Hi, Alison.

What do you have? Would it derail the plans?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don.

You know, GM says whether it restructures inside bankruptcy court or out, it's committed to building fuel-efficient cars and trucks and meeting efficiency standards, including new ones that were just announced last week. In fact, GM said today it plans to build 160,000 subcompact cars a year at an idled U.S. plant, though it hasn't said which plant yet.

As for prices, GM says those will be driven by supply and demand, not by bankruptcy. But analysts are saying, long term, fewer dealership could mean less competition and higher prices, Don, for you and me.

LEMON: Less competition and higher prices. And here's what's also very concerning for people who are driving cars, what about fuel efficiency? Cause, you know, gas goes up; the cost of fuel, you never know. So, how fuel-efficient is GM's lineup?

KOSIK: Well, it's sort of getting there, Don. You know, today, 20 GM cars get 30 miles per gallon or better on the highway. But 12 are Saturns and Pontiacs. Remember this, GM is killing Pontiac by the end of the year. Saturn is for sale, but if no buyer emerges, it could also disappear.

The rest are Chevys like this Cobalt you're seeing. It gets 33 miles per gallon on the highway. It starts under $16,000. Next spring, the Chevy Cruze will replace the Cobalt. It could get 40 miles per gallon. That's a little bit better. But GM hasn't said how much it will cost.

But small cars could be bad for business. They get slimmer profit margins compared to big cars and trucks, because people are more willing to pay a premium for more car - Don.

LEMON: You talked about the Volt and I forget the name of the other one, but those are gasoline-powered cars. You know, GM is really investing a lot in this hybrid, the electric hybrid, the Chevy Volt, right? Is that - that's the Volt? The Volt is the hybrid.

So, will that be affected by the bankruptcy here?

KOSIK: Well, GM says there's no change in its commitment to the Volt that you're talking about, Don. It's still scheduled to come out in November 2010. But analysts are saying it's not expected to be a big seller with the price tag rumored to be about $40,000. And even then, it's expected to lose money in the beginning. Still, the Volt's value could be the statement it makes that, even in the tough times, GM is willing to invest in car of the future. Don, one analyst says the Volt could put a shine on the brand like the Prius, you know, did for Toyota. I don't know if that's wishful thinking or not, though - Don.

LEMON: Yes, very interesting. And it's also interesting when we talked, Alison, to our Susan Lisovicz. She said that the stocks are trading below $1.00, at like 80, 88 cents.

KOSIK: Historic lows, Don.

LEMON: Yes, all right. Thank you, Alison Kosik at our "Energy Fix" desk. We appreciate it.

Tonight on CNN, I want to tell you that Ali Velshi and Christine Romans explore the past, present and future of U.S. carmakers. It's called "HOW THE WHEELS CAME OFF: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE AMERICAN AUTO INDUSTRY." It airs tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

OK. The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM with Rick Sanchez starts right now.