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Air France Jet Missing; General Motors to File for Bankruptcy; Abortion Doctor Gunned Down, Suspect in Custody; Florida-based Airline Plagued by New Allegations of Safety Violations
Aired June 1, 2009 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And that is how we start the day. News of GM, just an hour from now, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on this Monday, June 1st.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm John Roberts.
We've got breaking news to tell you about this morning. It's an Air France plane, Flight 447, believed to be an Airbus 330, which took off from Rio de Janeiro. Last night's scheduled to take off at 7:00 p.m. Rio time, that's an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, has gone missing. The Brazilian Air Force looking for the plane in the area of the, The Island of Fernando de Noronha which is about 1,500 miles north-northeast of Rio de Janeiro. It's about 230 miles off of the coast of Natal, which is one of the most northern cities in Brazil.
Not sure if it dropped off the radar because it doesn't look like it was paralleling the coast on the way up there to cross the Atlantic Ocean or if it simply lost radio contact with air traffic controllers there in Brazil. Getting conflicting reports about that. We do know, though, that there are 228 people on board, 216 passengers and 12 crew members.
Again, Air France Flight 447 believed to be an Airbus 330 was scheduled to land in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport just about two hours ago. So this would have all transpired last evening. If the flight made it that far as Fernando de Noronha, it would have been about in its third hour of flight. So that's what we're hearing this morning.
Brazil's air force out there on a search and rescue mission looking to find out what happened to that aircraft. At this point, everything about what happened to Flight 447 unclear.
We're following several other developing stories this morning as well. Here's what's we're breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.
In just one hour's time, General Motors is expected to file for bankruptcy. Right now, we're learning brand new details of how much it will cost you, the taxpayer, and what will be left of the American icon automaker and its workforce.
A long-time target of anti-abortion activists killed in cold blood. Kansas doctor, George Tiller, gunned down at his church in Wichita. A suspect is in custody now charged with murder. We're live in Wichita with this developing story this morning. And more safety concerns this morning about Florida-based Gulfstream International Airlines. Last week, we told you about inexperienced students sitting in the cockpits of commercial flights. Now, disturbing allegation from two former employees, one saying she felt compelled to pray for the passengers. It's a story that you'll only see right here on CNN.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And the big developing story as well this morning, an American giant off the road. In just an hour from now, 8:00 a.m. Eastern, General Motors is expected to file for bankruptcy. A short time later at 11:55 Eastern, President Obama is going to explain why the automaker is filing and why this could be the best route for a turnaround.
We're also learning new details of the government's plan this morning. We're covering the story from all angles with Jill Dougherty live for us at the White House. Sean Callebs live in Spring Hill, Tennessee, home to a one-time Saturn plant. The future now up in the air.
And we start with Stephanie Elam here in the studio. This is not a surprise that GM is filing for bankruptcy but really where the pieces end up after this is a big question not only for the company and for our government but for so many people that rely on this industry for their employment.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a trickle down effect. It's the biggest breaking news that we knew was going to happen, right? But it's the planned bankruptcy that we're waiting to hear about today.
We knew today was the deadline for GM and now we have more ideas about what exactly is going to happen. And let's go through a few of those with you right now starting off with the fact that the government is going to get a stake of about 60 percent in GM after this.
Their whole idea here being that they'll be able to recoup some money when they do come back out of bankruptcy. They're talking about getting also $8.8 billion in debt and preferred stock that they'll be able to get back to taxpayers. Also, $30 billion more in taxpayer money will be going to GM that's on top of the more than $19 billion that GM has already received.
Job cuts is something else that everyone is really concerned about here. And we do know that 20,000 additional job cuts will be made, but keep in mind, there are still people who work at GM dealerships. And also auto part makers, GM suppliers, so thousands more jobs will be affected there as well.
This will also lead to more plant and dealership closures. They're expected to close about a dozen plants by the end of 2010. And when you take a look at that, that could also have a trickle down effect for some of these smaller towns here. So we'll be looking to see what else is going to happen there. But 60 to 90 days in bankruptcy we can tell you about is what is expected and it will be about six to 18 months before GM stock trades again.
CHETRY: All right. Stephanie Elam for us this morning. Thank you.
ROBERTS: In about five hours' time, President Obama will address the nation about General Motors and what we can expect moving forward. And there are many questions about how the administration will handle the day to day operation of the new GM.
Jill Dougherty joins us live from the White House.
Jill, the Obama administration are now in the car making business. It's promised a hands-off approach at GM but with such a stake as it has, is that really possible?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, boy, John, you know, I think we're going to see the salesman-in-chief today explaining all of this and pushing for it. But you know, the administration officials admit that there is -- they even call it an inevitable tension between the two things that they want to do.
One is they want to restore the company to profitability and at the same time, they want to get out as quickly as possible. They say they don't want to be, you know, running an auto company. But it raises all sorts of questions.
I mean if they say, as they said, hands off, essentially what they mean is they are going to choose the board of directors and that is pretty much it. But there are all sorts of questions. What kind of cars will GM make?
Now, they say they won't have any voice, but the government does want more fuel efficient cars. Could we see some pressure, you know, coming indirectly or whatever on that?
What about executive compensation? If the owners and the managers make a lot of money, should they interfere in that?
What if the company wants to make cars in China? Should they stop that?
Congress, it's inevitable, John, that Congress is going to say, hey, it's our money, it's the taxpayers money. We should have some type of role. So there are a lot of really serious questions, especially for a Democratic president doing this.
And then finally, what if it doesn't work? I mean you could have the used car salesman-in-chief speaking to us. So a big downside, too.
ROBERTS: All right. We'll look forward to what he has to say a little while from now.
Jill Dougherty for us at the White House this morning. Jill, thanks so much.
At the bottom of the hour, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm joins us live. She's going to give us her insights into the GM bankruptcy, what it means for her state and how it will impact all of us. And a reminder, President Obama will address GM's bankruptcy this morning, 11:55 Eastern. You could see that live here on CNN and CNN.com/live.
In the meantime, we'd love to hear from you. Call our show hotline 877-MY-AMFIX. Sound off on the GM story or let us know if you have a question that you'd like us to ask one of our guests.
CHETRY: Well, another big story that we're following and a huge shock for the community in Kansas. A suspect accused of killing a controversial abortion doctor is being held without bail in a Wichita jail.
51-year-old Scott Roeder is now charged with first degree murder. His alleged victim, Dr. George Tiller, was gunned down Sunday morning at his church.
Both pro and anti-abortion activists have denounced this killing. President Obama calling it a "heinous crime."
Ted Rowlands is following the story for us from Wichita today -- Ted.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, George Tiller had a lot of enemies. He performed late-term abortions and he was the center of a lot of controversy in the abortion debate. However, people on both sides of this issue are horrified by his murder.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed in the foyer of his church where he was serving as an usher. His wife, witnesses say, was singing in the choir.
MICKEY COHLMIA, REFORMATION LUTHERAN CHURCH MEMBER: It's heart wrenching that something in our community could happen as evil as this in his church.
ROWLANDS: Dr. Tiller was one of only a few physicians who performed late-term abortions and was a long-time target of anti-abortion extremists. In 1993, Tiller was shot in both arms while leaving his Wichita, Kansas, clinic. Police say the suspect in Tiller's killing was arrested about four hours after the shooting on Interstate 35 near Gardner, Kansas. At this point they believe he acted alone, but say they're monitoring the Internet as part of their investigation.
DET. TOM STOLTZ, WICHITA, KS POLICE DEPARTMENT: There's a lot of information pouring on the Internet right now between the pro-life and pro-choice groups and unfortunately we don't have the luxury of law enforcement to focus only on this case. We have to focus on a bigger picture. So we have a whole other facet going. We'll be investigating it.
ROWLANDS: While most of the reaction from both sides of the abortion debate condemns the murder, Randall Terry, a veteran anti-abortion activist said, "George Tiller was a mass murderer." Dr. Tiller was 67, married with four children, and ten grandchildren. A family statement says, in part, "We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere."
ROWLANDS: There were enough witnesses at the church that were able to get the license plate number of Scott Roeder. This is the suspect in the case. He was picked up because of that information.
He was brought back here. He was picked up near Kansas City. He was brought back here to Wichita where he is now. He's expected to make his first court appearance as early as today -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Ted Rowlands for us this morning. Thank you.
ROBERTS: His line of work made him a target. And coming up next, we're going to talk to a woman in the same profession as Dr. Tiller who some critics have dubbed the "abortion queen" about what's it like to face threats like this every day.
And we're following the breaking news this morning. An Air France plane has disappeared off of the coast of Brazil. It left Rio de Janeiro about 6:00 Eastern last night. The air force, Brazil's air force searching for the plane in the area of the island of Fernando de Noronha, which is about 1,500 miles north-northeast of Rio de Janeiro. All the latest details on that coming up for you.
There's a picture of a plane just like it, an Airbus A330, desperate search on to find out what happened to that plane this morning.
It's ten minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." A 51-year-old man identified as Scott Roeder is expected to be charged later today with the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller. Tiller was gunned down in Wichita, Kansas, at his church yesterday.
Diane Derzis owns the New Woman Health Care Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. It's a clinic that provides abortions and has for more than three decades.
Thank you so much for joining us this morning. Now you knew Dr. Tiller for years. What was your reaction when you heard about the shooting?
DIANE DERZIS, OWNER, NEW WOMAN HEALTH CARE CLINIC: Absolutely stunned. Also not surprised. We've all known that something like this was going to happen. The question was who was it going to happen to?
CHETRY: You were -- your clinic was the one that was bombed actually as well, right, in Birmingham, Alabama, by Eric Rudolph, the suspect who's now serving time because of that.
CHETRY: What is it like going to work knowing you have a target on your head?
DERZIS: It's been like that for many years. You know, every abortion provider in this country knows what kind of atmosphere we work in. We have these people in front of the clinics that, these antics would not be allowed in any other business, but it's part of what we do.
And I think you would have the hundreds of abortionists tell you the same thing that we are all proud of what we do. We love what we do, that we do serve women. And that we do so knowing what the risks are.
CHETRY: And when you say you love what you do, can you explain more about that for people who, you know, understand what a contentious situation it is. It's a choice that no one wants to have to make. People make it obviously. But when you say you love what you do, explain that.
DERZIS: You know, you can't meet and talk with the women that we see on a daily basis and not know that what you're doing is right and moral. You know and Dr. Tiller, the women he saw when he was the last resort, these were women who had wanted to be pregnant, who valued their pregnancies and for whatever reason were forced to terminate. And I think that's the important thing is we know what kind of a role we place in the community. I mean, no one would choose to do this for a job. It's a calling.
CHETRY: And this is something that's been roundly denounced, this shooting by pro-life activists as well, including Reverend Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition.
He said, "It's tragic. The probability is that someone who opposed abortion did this. The reason we are pro-life is because we hate violence on any level. I don't know of one legitimate pro-life leader who would not unequivocally condemn this."
Now, of course, you owned and operate --
DERZIS: That's a lie.
CHETRY: You don't believe those words.
DERZIS: Absolutely not. These people, the rhetoric these people espoused caused four deaths, every day in front of these clinics. You know, he's saying that only because of the timing of this particular shooting.
Randall Terry, you know, you also hear him calling George Tiller a mass murderer. They have Web sites. They have wanted posters. These people have put the target on our chest, on our backs.
CHETRY: You don't differentiate between people who are opposed to abortion and pro-life for their religious reasons versus those who are promoting violence? I know the Web sites that you're referring to where there's a line through people that have been killed. You don't differentiate between the extreme and people that just hold the position?
DERZIS: Make no mistake, there are so many people in this country who are pro-life and are decent, hard working good people. But the people by and large who stand in front of these clinics every day have their own agenda and that agenda is to do away with abortion in whatever way they can.
The election of Barack Obama put them in a corner. They're losing and the only way they see to take care of this is to kill us. This is just the first of what I foresee as many more.
CHETRY: And this is certainly an uncomfortable question to ask but, you know, it makes you wonder, in all the articles I was reading, it said that Dr. Tiller was one of three doctors in this country that performed late-term abortion. So there's two more I guess you could say.
CHETRY: And you're right, the targets are out there. I mean, if you look on the Internet, people's names, where they live, it's all out there. So what happens if, you know, God forbid there is more violence, there's more killing. Would that end the ability for late- term abortion?
DERZIS: I would hope not. I think what you see, these providers know, again, what the risks are. But they've decided to take their medical training and help women. Now I hope that you're going to see more physicians stand up to take George Tiller's place. Now that would be the ideal thing.
CHETRY: Well, I want to thank you for your time and your perspective this morning, Diane Derzis.
DERZIS: Thank you.
CHETRY: Appreciate talking to you. Thanks.
DERZIS: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Frantic search underway for what happened to an Air France plane Flight 447, took off last evening from Rio de Janeiro bound for Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. It has disappeared. It's being searched far off of the northeastern coast of Brazil. Also some information that it may have made it across the Atlantic and disappeared off of the coast of Morocco.
We're trying to sort this all out for you. We'll be back with the latest information coming up next.
It's now 18 minutes after the hour.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ROBERTS: And we're following the breaking news this morning. Air France Flight 447, an Airbus 330 that took off last night 7:00 p.m. local time from Rio de Janeiro bound for Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, supposed to land there about two hours and 10 minutes ago, never made it, disappeared from radio contact. Not clear whether it disappeared off of the northeastern coast of Brazil.
The Brazilian air force is searching the island archipelago of Fernando de Noronha which is about 250 miles off of the city of Natal right there in the eastern shoulder of Brazil, or whether it might have made it across the Atlantic and disappeared off of the coast of Morocco. Some of CNN's French affiliates are saying that it may have made it that far.
On the phone with us now is professional pilot John Lucich. He is a commercial pilot, flies mostly cargo. He's our go-to guy in situations like this.
John, what do you make of what you heard so far regarding the fate of this flight?
JOHN LUCICH, LICENSED COMMERCIAL PILOT (via telephone): Well, you know, some initial reports said it might have been simply a transponder going bad. The problem is, though, that there are redundant systems in this airplane and the likelihood of that is nil. Unfortunately, I believe that, you know, the longer this has gone on without the pilots being in contact, it's very -- you know, while you have seen airplanes come off radar for one reason or another, whether it's a malfunction or they actually went below a certain altitude and made them disappear off radar, they've always been in contact within short distance after that with air traffic control. But not to be with air traffic control for such a long time tells me that something more devastating might have happened to this flight.
But I believe that there's always hope, like we were talking about before, about the airplane landing in the Hudson, a similar type of airplane, another Airbus that it is very possible that everybody is still safe on this flight and that's what my hopes and prayers are.
ROBERTS: Yes. If you look at the idea that maybe it was a transponder problem that, you know, the plane which emits a signal which tells air traffic controllers where it is, although, there's some questions as to how far that coverage extends over the ocean or if they lost radio contact. Either way, it was supposed to land more than two hours ago, so it should be somewhere, yes, John?
LUCICH: Absolutely. And, you know, they know the dead zones. If there are dead zones between two airports along a flight route, they know when they're going to go off radar if there's no coverage in that area. So, because they've launched a search and rescue tells me that the specific area where they went off contact with this radar contact with this airplane tells me should have had radar contact and more importantly, they should have had radio contact. Now, there may be some time when an airplane is not talking to air traffic control but never that long where it goes where they have to launch search and rescue.
ROBERTS: As we said, the Brazilian air force is looking in the area of the island archipelago of Fernando de Noronha off of the northeastern coast of Brazil. There is a 6,000 foot military runway on one of those islands. You know, if you're in a situation where you've got to land a plane in an emergency, you could perhaps, John, shoot for that. But I don't know if the lights were on and it would have been fairly late when this plane came into that area.
LUCICH: Right, absolutely. And just like the captain chose to put the airplane in the Hudson River...
LUCICH: ... I think, you know, unless you can make it to a runway of that size and you're going into an airport that you're unfamiliar with and an island you're unfamiliar with, on a terrain you're unfamiliar with, the best option would always be to ditch on a flat surface like that in the ocean as opposed to flying into mountainous areas.
ROBERTS: OK. John Lucich on the phone for us this morning. John, thanks so much for that. We'll check back with you.
CHETRY: There's some serious questions this morning about the safety of a Florida-based airline. Three of their former pilots recently involved in deadly accidents. Ahead, why one former employee says she had to pray for the safety of passengers.
It's 25 minutes past the hour.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHETRY: Twenty-six minutes past the hour now. We're updating our breaking news.
An Air France passenger jet is missing. Air controllers say they lost contact with this plane as it was flying over the Atlantic off the Brazilian coast last night. Air France says that Flight 447 was carrying 216 passengers, 12 crew members. It was an Airbus A330. It left Rio de Janeiro last night, was expected in Paris at 5:15 Eastern time this morning.
And again right now, there is some pessimism to say the least. France's minister in charge of transportation described it as, "real pessimism" at this hour about the fate of the aircraft. He said, "We can fear the worst." France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, also expressing "extreme worry" about this situation.
Again, there is a search on now by the Brazilian air force to try to locate this missing aircraft about 1,500 miles northeast off the coast of Brazil. We'll continue to follow the latest on this story and bring you breaking details as we get them.
Meanwhile, there are some new allegations of safety violation this morning at Gulfstream International Airlines. Last week, our Allan Chernoff told you about the inexperienced students sitting in the cockpits of commercial flights for Gulfstream.
Well, Allan is back this morning with some new developments. And I understand that you've been able to speak to some former Gulfstream International employees about what the working conditions were like at this airline.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Former and current employees and they are very, very concerned about the situation. When we board a commercial flight, we expect an airline to properly maintain its planes and to comply with FAA safety rules to prevent pilot fatigue.
But former and current employees of Florida-based Gulfstream International Airlines which operates its commercial flights for Continental Airlines says those safety principles were often violated at the airline in an effort to save money.
MARY HEBIG, FORMER GULFSTREAM INTL. AIRLINES EMPLOYEE: That's why I left.
CHERNOFF (voice-over): Mary Hebig remembers the day three years ago when she knew she had to quit her job at Gulfstream International Airlines. A flight whose pilots she had scheduled had lost one of its two engines. It was the second time in two weeks a plane's engine had failed.
HEBIG: And I was just praying that everybody got back safe. And I thought, God, if they get back safe, I am out of here.
We go by base.
CHERNOFF: Hebig is one of ten former and current Gulfstream employees who have told CNN of serious safety concerns at the Fort Lauderdale- based airline.
HEBIG: I couldn't sit there night after night and know that there was an accident waiting to happen.
CHERNOFF: To passengers in Florida and the Bahamas, Gulfstream appears to be Continental Airlines since it operates continental connection flights. Continental Airlines told CNN, "We expect our partners to adhere to the highest safety standards."
Yet former Gulfstream mechanic Dan Brisco says maintenance standards were the worst he's seen in 30 years as an aviation mechanic.
DAN BRISCO, FORMER GULFSTREAM INTL. AIRLINES MECHANIC: I saw parts flying off of airplanes. I saw engines having to shut down in flight and engine failures and landing gear collapses, all traceable directly back to maintenance or improperly completed maintenance.
I saw the landing gear on one Gulfstream airplane collapse on the runway in Tampa due to a lack of maintenance. The pilots have been complaining about air problems for a long time. They said well, it's working now, that's good enough.
CHERNOFF: Gulfstream declined to appear on camera. In a statement the company said, "To the extent such events have occurred at Gulfstream, they had nothing do with improperly completed maintenance. We have an outstanding maintenance program."
Yet the Federal Aviation Administration has just cited Gulstream maintenance for using inexpensive air conditioning compressors designed for cars. The automotive air conditioner compressors were not approved for use on aircraft charged the FAA. Gulfstream claims it used the proper parts but concedes it didn't install them according to FAA approved procedures. Gulfstream is also confronting FAA findings that it violated flight rules.
(on camera): To prevent pilot fatigue, the FAA has strict limits on pilot flight time, eight hours within the day, 34 hours within a week. But current and former employees of Gulfstream say the understaffed airline often pressured pilots to work past those limits even when they were clearly fatigued.
(voice-over): As a crew scheduler for Gulfstream, Hebig knew when pilots were up against their flight limits but she says dispatchers often would change logs of previous flights, shave pilot hours to make it appear pilots were legal to start, legal to finish, in the words of Gulfstream's flight operations manual.
HEBIG: They were fudging the books to make it legal.
CHERNOFF: Pilots who complained too much, (inaudible) and other company veterans say were let go and that led other pilots to comply.
HEBIG: They knew that if they spoke up, they would be fired.
CHERNOFF (on camera): And that actually happened to some people?
HEBIG: Yes, it did. And these are family men, they work hard.
CHERNOFF (voice-over): Gulfstream told CNN no pilot has ever or even could be pressured to exceed FAA hour limitations. Yet an FAA investigation found multiple cases of both pilots and dispatchers working beyond their allowed limits. For that as well as alleged maintenance violations, the FAA has proposed a $1.3 million fine against the airline.
Gulfstream which is challenging the findings and the proposed fine told CNN, "occasional errors can sometimes occur when flight times are manually entered into computer systems but none were made intentionally."
(END VIDEOTAPE) CHERNOFF: Gulfstream itself has not suffered any fatal accidents on commercial flights but the airline has come under scrutiny recently because former Gulfstream pilots were involved in three of the most recent fatal accidents on commercial airlines in the United States. Kiran?
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Very interesting investigation for sure. Allan, thank you.
And also, if you would like more information on these allegations of shoddy maintenance, pilot scheduling abuse, at Gulfstream International Airline, you can check out Allan's blog, log on to cnn.com/amfix.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It is now 32 minutes after the hour. And checking our top stories, a bomb explosion at a bus terminal in northwest Pakistan killed one person and injured eight others overnight according to police. Meanwhile, Red Cross officials say they have grave concerns for more than two million civilians who have been forced to evacuate the Swat Valley area during a war with the Taliban because there is no running water, electricity or fuel and very little food.
The thaw continues between the United States and Cuba. The two cold war rivals have now agreed to resume talks on legal immigration to the United States and mail service between the two countries. The State Department calling this development, "a big deal."
And it's the stunt that everyone will be talking about this morning from last night's MTV movie awards, the guy from "Borat" Sacha Baron Cohen playing his new alternate ego, Bruno, made Eminem the butt of his latest prank literally and Eminem's entourage didn't seem too jazzed about it. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNO: Eminem, nice to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you serious?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Well, after that cheek to cheek encounter, Eminem, a little upset stormed out of the place. Was Slim Shady in on it? Anyways, the film "Twilight" was the evening's big winner taking home five Golden Popcorn Awards, including best movie.
A developing story this morning, in about half an hour, the once mighty General Motors expected to file for bankruptcy. The company that was once the largest automaker in the world could emerge from chapter 11, a shell of its former self, the ripple effect will be felt across several states, nowhere more than Michigan.
Joining us now live from Lansing, Michigan is Governor Jennifer Granholm. Governor, what do you expect is going to happen as a result of this bankruptcy filing? Is this plan going to work?
GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM, MICHIGAN: Well, I think it is going to work. What I think is going to happen are two main things. One is that during this summer, it's going to be really, really tough in Michigan. There are a lot of, thousands of people who will be affected by the filing today and the restructuring on an ongoing basis.
But at the end of this, we can finally see that we are hitting bottom, we've been - these auto companies, Chrysler, too and Ford, too, have been in the middle of restructuring plans since the year 2000. So we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and the uncertainty of not knowing when bottom was going to arrive had made it much more difficult. So now we know that we've got an administration that's behind a viable American auto industry that's going to be a tough summer but we're going to emerge, we'll have a new GM, a new Chrysler and ultimately a new Michigan.
ROBERTS: I guess there's one thing to be said for if you're in the basement, there's nowhere to go but up.
But what do you think this new General Motors is going to look like. Some people are saying, it is going to be a mere shell of its former self that it's market share which was once 40 percent, now down below 20, could shrink to somewhere in the low teens?
GRANHOLM: Right. I think that they are looking at restructuring in a way that positions than to compete effectively in a global economy. One of the things that I think we're going see today through the filings and from what's been reported is that there will be an increase in domestic manufacturing here for a smaller vehicle. A lot of those small vehicles had been manufactured offshore. This is very good news for our workers.
It's also very good news to have a viable manufacturing industry because the auto industry is the backbone of the manufacturing industry. Let me say quickly, John, one other thing, is that you'll see Congress move on a federal energy bill and that energy bill is going to require, and compel and incent green products that will get us to energy independence to be made in the U.S. while you've got to have a viable manufacturing sector in order to make products, and that's an opportunity for states like Michigan and the rest of the industrial midwest.
ROBERTS: So, governor, taxpayers are already into General Motors were just shy of $20 billion by the time all of these are over the bank, bankruptcy reorganization will be in to them for just about $50 billion. Federal judge Richard Posner from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has written an article in "The Atlantic" in which he says "we should be concerned lest GM become a kind of economic Vietnam, where the federal government throws good money after bad, year after year, in a vain quest for victory."
Are you confident that taxpayers are going to get their money back or is there a chance that a large chunk of that $50 million may just kind of evaporate? GRANHOLM: Well, that's the whole purpose is to restructure in a way that positions them for success. The Obama administration does not want to be operating this company or Chrysler, the Obama administration wants to have a strong viable domestic auto industry. This is why this pain is happening right now. You have to get through this restructuring in a way that positions them for success and not for failure and ultimately the taxpayers will get their money back.
ROBERTS: Jennifer Granholm, governor of Michigan, thanks for being with us this morning, governor. It's good to see you.
GRANHOLM: You bet you.
ROBERTS: And later on this morning, President Obama will address the nation about GM's bankruptcy and the future of the auto industry. You can watch it live right here on CNN and cnn.com at 11:15 Eastern.
CHETRY: Meantime, entire brands like Saturn may be on the chopping block. So how are people feeling this morning in the town that Saturn built? A lot of unease this morning, a lot of uncertainty about the future. We're going to be heading to a place far south of Motown where GM bankruptcy is really hitting home. It's 37 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning, coming up in a little bit, we're going have a little bit more about the Obama's date night that's causing quite a ruckus in D.C. but meanwhile it's d-day for General Motors. GM facing a government takeover, expected to officially file for bankruptcy in about 20 minutes. There are towns across this country that literally wouldn't be here today without General Motors.
Sean Callebs is live in one of them this morning. Springhill, Tennessee, it's a town that Saturn built. And I'm sure there's a lot of uncertainty this morning about what the future holds for so many in that town. Hi, Sean.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really, yes, exactly. Talk about 45 minutes south of Nashville, beautiful green rolling hills. This community real cropped up because of this plant but really Saturn never really lived up to is billing. And today the entire future of this plant plus its thousands of employees really up in the air.
CALLEBS (voice-over): Little League and General Motors. American icons. But in the community of Spring Hill, about a 45-minute drive south of Nashville, one of these could be on the way out. GM could possibly shut down, phase out or sell off this factory in Spring Hill.
Among the more than 3,000 anxious employees, Johnny Miranda, who left a GM job in Van Nuys, California, 16 years ago to come work at this facility. JOHNNY MIRANDA, GM AUTO WORKER: I want to think positive and a lot of people, everybody, you know, they don't - because it could bring you down and it could really mess you up if you think, you know, they're going to close it and you're going to lose your job.
CALLEBS: For years and years, this plant made Saturn vehicles, it was supposed be to be the car and the business plan that breathed new life into GM by taking sales away from fuel efficient Japanese cars. Saturn didn't revolutionize the industry and two years ago the Spring Hill plant stopped making the Saturn and began turning out Chevys.
Sunday afternoon in the park is a welcome break, a chance to play with the kids and not think about the possibility of layoffs and mounting debts. Almost everyone in Spring Hill knows someone whose job is on the line.
WILL BARNES, SPRING HILL RESIDENT: My father-in-law works for GM. He has worked for GM ever since the day he graduated from college. You know, and he's cut his yard five times this week. Because, you know, this is the level of uncertainty for him, and so I hate to see him in that situation.
CALLEBS: Over the last two decades, subdivision after subdivision cropped up and the town of Spring Hill blossomed in the shadow of the Saturn plant now called GM Spring Hill Manufacturing. But now that GM is filing for bankruptcy protection, this plant could be sold or closed in an effort to make GM leaner and keep the company in business.
MIRANDA: It's going to hurt. No question, it will hurt.
CALLEBS: We talked to a lot of good people at that Little League park yesterday. A lot of people who moved down from Michigan years and years ago, they got married here, started their families here, thought this was going to be the American dream. There's a lot of frustration, Kiran, because many folks here have absolutely no idea what to expect, even if this plant which GM ahs spent hundreds of millions of dollars renovating is deemed profitable and a good investment, they could theoretically sell it off in an effort to pay down that debt and make GM leaner in the future.
CHETRY: Yes. It's really tough time in that town and the uncertainty certainly adds to it. We'll be following this. And thank you for that report, Sean.
ROBERTS: And this morning an awful lot of anxiety over GM's decision to file for bankruptcy, especially in Lansing, Michigan, a city where GM has deep roots. In a moment we're going to talk to the outspoken mayor of Lansing, Virg Bernero, about the impact the bankruptcy would have there and he ripple effect that it could have on the American dream.
And from the first couple to Prince Harry, the weekend hot spot was New York, big fan frenzy over the prince and the president. It's coming up on 45 minutes now after the hour.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
ROBERTS: 47 minutes now after the hour. We're following the breaking news this morning. Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A-330 that took off from Rio De Janeiro at 7:00 local time last night has disappeared. It's frantically being searched for off the coast, the northeastern coast of Brazil. There's also some information because a real-time discrepancy here between when it may have disappeared.
There are some elements of the French government that are saying it disappeared about 10:30 last night Eastern time. Other people are saying that it disappeared more along the lines of 4:00 a.m. Eastern time this morning. One time would put it on the western side of the Atlantic. The other time would put on the eastern side of the Atlantic. So a huge search area under way right now.
But let's stick with the information that it may have disappeared off the northeastern coast of Brazil, our Rob Marciano has been tracking the flight line of flight 447 from Rio last night. What are we looking for off of that east coast of Brazil or what are we looking at, at least, Rob, the east coast of Brazil last night?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Well, as you know, the first few hours of that flight pretty much paralleled the coast line. The coast line itself kind of juts out from the southwest towards the northeast. There's Rio and it's heading towards France. Of course, it's going to take the shortest distance and it's going to head the northeast. So it will go off just off the coast of Recife, and here's that island Fernando de Noronha where that military base is where they're doing some search efforts.
And then it continues out over the open ocean. Really probably over the open ocean, maybe out of radar contact for only three or four hours, and then the next stop is the Cape Verde Islands that is just off the coast of Africa here and then the next stop would be the Canary Islands like they're going over to France, itself. The buoys that are out here, John, as far as water temperatures go, water temperatures go are in the lower 70s.
By the way, today is the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season. Cape Verde season which is the latter half of the Atlantic hurricane season happens the latter half because that's when those waters warm up when it gets to 80, 85 degrees. Right now, the water temperatures out there around 70 degrees and likely they'll be looking at that area as well as you mentioned. But different reports coming in, could be at that area, it could be closer to Brazil. We'll sort that out as the morning goes along. Back up to you.
ROBERTS: Yes, just let me just clarify, Rob, what I meant to say was some reports have it disappearing at 10:30 Eastern last night and other reports have it disappearing at 2:00 a.m. Eastern, not 4:00 a.m. but still one time would put it on the western side of the Atlantic, the other time would put it on the Eastern side. So if it's gone down in the middle of the ocean, chance that we'll never know what happened to it. Kiran?
CHETRY: All right. Well, we're just about 10 minutes away from General Motors expected bankruptcy filing. It would mean the U.S. government would have the majority ownership stake in that company. We're going to be following that, plus date night for the president and first lady generate a lot of buzz. We'll show you some of the pictures and also was a big fan frenzy over the prince and the president. We're going to see how people react when royalty comes to town. 50 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: All right. Welcome back. Date night for the president and first lady always generates big buzz but on Saturday the first couple hit the town in New York for dinner and a Broadway show, Joe Turner's "Come and Gone," was the show. According to the White House spokesperson, the president said that he promised Michelle during the campaign that, "I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished." The Republican National Committee said in a written statement have a great Saturday evening even if you are not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense.
Anyway, from the president to the prince. Apparently New York was deeply the place to be this weekend. Fans were in a frenzy over the young royal. Alina Cho is here with highlights of Prince Harry's first visit to New York. They were wild about him and you saw the pictures all over the papers. He seemed to be having a pretty fun time.
ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he did. The girls were especially wild over Harry, no surprise. Good morning, guys. Good morning, everybody. And there's a reason why. It's an all-around first for Prince Harry, his first official visit as a royal, his first time in New York City and his first opportunity to show Americans he's not just that party boy we see in the tabloids. He's a humanitarian, too.
CHO (voice-over): He may be a prince. But he was greeted like a rock star. New Yorkers are wild about Harry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you!
CHO: Third in line for the British throne, first in the hearts of girls everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to meet Prince Harry
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harry!
CHO: The 24-year-old prince who has been in the spotlight his whole life was in New York for just 36 hours. Laying a wreath at Ground Zero, planting a tree at a memorial garden. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry!
CHO: Visiting with wounded vets and having fun with kids in Harlem.
PRINCE HARRY, UNITED KINGDOM: It's my first visit to New York. So, I hope I can come back and visit again. The whole trip, everything has been fantastic.
CHO: Good look looks and a common touch much like his mother.
PRINCE HARRY: You did this for me? Thank you very much.
CHO: Yet some call Harry a flawed character. A hard-partying prince who had once wore a Swastika band to a costume party and then dons fatigues for a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
ROBERT JOBSON, ROYAL BIOGRAPHER: I think that makes him more interesting. This sort of bad boy image, you know, he is falling in and out of nightclubs and the girls love him. The reality is this is somebody who is a real person.
CHO: With real causes, the reason he took part in the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo classic. Proceeds go to orphans in Africa, a charity Harry cofounded and even with Madonna in the crowd and number one in the white jersey was the number one draw among civilians.
(on camera): Can you believe he's never been to New York before?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I can't believe that. How dare he!
CHO (voice-over): And celebrities, too.
LL COOL J, RAPPER/ACTOR: I don't know anything about polo. This is my first polo match.
CHO: Yet getting near the prince was next to impossible.
(on camera): Prince Harry we're told is somewhere way over there inside that VIP tent. We're told even the people inside the tent can't get near him because there's a royal enclosure.
(voice-over): A disappointment to many on the media line who pulled out all of the stops.
(on camera): Does it take a baby to get here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever it takes, you know.
(voice-over): For most, a peek at the prince was enough. And Harry promises he'll be back.
CHO: Having some fun there. Why New York? Well, the prince said he chose the Big Apple because it was his mother's favorite city. Also we should mention that his grandmother Queen Elizabeth paid for the trip. It was sort of he was first invited to play polo and then they decided, hey you just can't come to New York and play polo. We're going to build a visit around it. But a lot of people have been asking guys, why just 36 hours?
Well, there is a couple of reasons for that. Number one, he had to get back to London because he is taking courses. He is training to be a helicopter pilot. But the other reason, as one royal watcher says, the last thing Buckingham Palace needs is the picture of Prince Harry falling out of a New York nightclub at 5:00 in the morning with an attractive American on his arm. So it was back on the plane and back to London, after polo.
CHETRY: Poor thing. He's adorable.
CHO: He really is.
CHETRY: Very cute.
ROBERTS: For some people, that would be good for the reputation.
CHO: Yes, exactly.
ROBERTS: Thanks, Alina.
Breaking news this morning. The search for a missing passenger jet with 228 people on board. According to the "Associated Press," Air France now saying that the plane reported an electrical problem before it disappeared. We're calling on the global resources of CNN for the latest update. It's 57 minutes after the hour.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
CHETRY: Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. It is Monday. It's June 1st. I'm Kiran Chetry along with John Roberts. We've been monitoring this breaking news this morning on this Air France flight that disappeared as it was going from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Some questions right now at to whether or not there could have been an electrical problem.
ROBERTS: Yes. And that could present a lot of different possibilities, all of them serious at altitude. Let's get you caught up on that and the stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes here on the most news in the morning.
The breaking news, an Air France passenger jet with 228 people on board and 216 passengers and 12 crew members is missing. Air France said it received a message from the lost plane as Kiran said signaling an electrical problem. France's minister in charge of transportation says there is, "real pessimism at this hour about the fate of the aircraft."
Flight Air France 447 was carrying those 228 people. It left Rio de Janeiro last night and expected in Paris at 5:15 Eastern time this morning. A Brazilian Air Force spokesman confirms that a search is under way about 1,500 miles northeast of Rio, around the island archipelago there. You can see at the top of your screen, Fernando De Noronha, about 230 miles off the coast of the city of Natal in the northeastern section of Brazil.
Also developing right now. In just moments, General Motors expected to file for bankruptcy. It will be the third largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. In a moment, we'll break down what it means for General Motors, its employees and you, the taxpayer.