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Aviation Officials Back to Square One on Air France Search; Obama Kicks off European Leg of Trip; Is Middle Class Becoming Obsolete?; National Drug Intelligence Agency Gets Yet Another Reprieve; Jockey is Horse Racing's Triple Threat; New Technology for Terrorists; Top Republican Faced Brutal Confirmation Hearing
Aired June 5, 2009 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and thanks very much for being with us on the Most News in the Morning. It is Friday. It's the 5th of June. I'm John Roberts.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Carol Costello in for Kiran Chetry this morning. We are breaking some news this morning, sad news. We're following several big stories, in fact, for you this morning, including this.
It is back to square one in the search for wreckage and answers in the crash of Air France Flight 447. It turns out none of the debris recovered from the Atlantic so far belongs to the missing jetliner. We're live in Brazil with the global resources of CNN as the mystery of what happened to Air France Flight 447 continues.
President Obama in Germany this morning strengthening ties on a European tour and fresh from delivering a key speech to the Muslim world. The president now focusing on the global economy. We'll play what he had to say for you.
And trial by secrecy in North Korea. No word on the fate of two American journalists reportedly on trial for committing what North Korea called hostile acts. They could face ten years in a labor camp. The U.S. State Department may call on some diplomatic heavyweights to try and secure their release.
ROBERTS: We begin with the breaking news this morning. A major setback for crash investigators and the families of passengers onboard Air France Flight 447. Brazilian authorities now say none -- that is none of the debris that has been recovered from the Atlantic Ocean belongs to the missing jetliner. They had it wrong.
We're all over the story this morning. Jason Carroll with us here in New York. But let's start with John Zarrella. He's live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the flight originated.
John, what's the very latest there?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, here is the way it shapes out. Up until yesterday, the air force of the military in Brazil had not gone after the debris physically to pick it up. They have been concentrating on finding possible survivors or at least finding the remains.
Well, yesterday was the first day they were attempting to go out and pick up some of the debris that they had been spotting around the Atlantic, the small pieces, the wiring, the larger pieces. Well, they sent a helicopter to one of these locations, and initially, yesterday morning, they indicated to us that they had recovered one, two, maybe three pieces of debris from Air France Flight 447.
Late yesterday afternoon, they came back, the air force, and said, in fact, that those initial pieces that they picked up turned out to be one, at least, a wooden pallet, which was not -- and would not have been on Air France Flight 447.
Although we don't have a lot of details, John, it appears that what happened was that when they picked the debris up, brought it by helicopter to the ship, once they examined it onboard ship, they realized later that it wasn't from Air France Flight 447.
What we do not know at this point is if all of these other debris fields that they have been talking about that contained wiring and small pieces of metal will turn out also to be not from Flight 447. They tell us they will be back out there today recovering more debris and taking a look at that.
The other piece of information is that that 12-mile-long oil slick that we have been talking about for several days now, they backed off a bit on that as well saying that oil may not -- may not have come from Flight 447 either. It may have come from a ship -- John.
ROBERTS: Wow. I can't imagine what the families of the passengers onboard that plane are going through now. First they're told one thing, then it turns out to be quite another.
John Zarrella for us from Rio de Janeiro this morning. John, thanks so much.
COSTELLO: You know, and in talking about these families, I mean, yesterday, they said the plane maybe broke apart in the air. And imagine if your loved one was onboard that plane what you must be feeling. And now all of a sudden, we don't know what happened. That the debris we found wasn't even the debris from the plane. So, is there any new information at all? Jason Carroll join us now for that part of the story.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, investigators are back to square one. But they are looking at some of the clues that they do have and there is a bit of new information out this morning on what may have caused the plane to go down off the coast of Brazil.
One possible theory, the pilot was flying at the wrong speed heading into the storm because something called an air speed indicator was not functioning properly. A plane that flies too slow can lose lift and crash, while flying too fast can cause a midair breakup. The maker of the aircraft, Airbus, issued a warning to pilots urging them to follow the flight crew operating manual when they suspect the air speed indicator is not working properly. A failure to correctly manage the speed has been cited as causing several other crashes of jumbo jets.
Investigators say the high-tech computer system that runs the autopilot which flies the plane much of the time may also have failed. A series of automated messages the last we heard from the plane indicate a possible system failure.
Robert Francis, former vice chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board explained how devastating such a loss could be for a pilot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB FRANCIS, FORMER VICE CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: It's just a remarkable loss of just about every way to control the airplane. I mean, you've been lost your electricity. You've lost your flight controls. It's an all electronic-controlled airplane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Flying an Airbus at high altitude near its maximum speed without the computer system can be an extremely difficult task for a pilot. Officials also have not ruled out the possibility of foul play. Pilots in the area where the plane went down reported seeing an intense bright flash erupt in the sky and reported their findings to the Spanish Civil Aviation Authority.
Air France also received a bomb threat last week for a flight from Buenos Aires to Paris. That threat was inspected by authorities who found no bomb.
But, you know, basically though, without the cockpit voice recorder, without the flight data recorder, at this point really for all of these experts who are looking into this, it's speculation.
COSTELLO: Well, you know, whatever you hear the word bomb and plane in one sentence, I mean, it really -- it causes extreme fear for all fliers.
CARROLL: Right. Right. But they're looking at everything, right? They're looking at everything that might be a possibility. When you don't have really anything to go on, you look at what you've got.
ROBERTS: And now the question is, where do you look for those black boxes even?
ROBERTS: Because the area where they thought that the plane might have gone down might not be that area at all.
Jason, thanks so much.
Also new this morning, President Obama is in Germany kicking off the European leg of his overseas trip. Right now, he is in Dresden, where earlier this morning he spoke alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two covered a lot of ground from global warming and the challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the global economic crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some progress in stabilizing the economy, but we're far from done in the work that's required. I mentioned to her that in the United States, we are working diligently to strengthen financial regulations, to ensure that a crisis like this doesn't happen again. And it's going to be very important to coordinate between Europe and the United States as we move to strengthen our financial regulatory systems.
We affirmed that we are not going to engage in protectionism. And as all of us do what's required to restart our economy, we have to make sure that we keep our borders open and the companies can move back and forth between the United States and Europe in providing goods and services.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Later on today, President Obama will make an emotional visit to a German concentration camp that his great-uncle helped liberate in Buchenwald.
All of this coming a day after the president's sweeping speech in Cairo, Egypt, calling for a new relationship between Washington and the Muslim world. And the president's response, lighting up the phone lines to our show hotline. Here's what some of you are saying about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALLER: I think it was absolutely fantastic and balanced. I think it's also going to upset many people and the fact that many people are going to upset is likely a good thing.
CALLER: I think he should be here worrying more about what's going on here in the United States. People are sitting here without jobs, without food for their kids. I mean, this is -- he should be here, not over there. We've done enough for these people over there.
CALLER: The two key words that I picked up on from the president's speech were dignity and respect. And I think that he's going a long way to restore the dignity and respect of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: And we want to hear what you have to say about this and all of the big stories that we cover. Call our show hotline at 1-877- MY-AMFIX. That's 1-877-692-6349. COSTELLO: Other stories new this morning. We're closely monitoring developments out of North Korea waiting for any word on the fate of two U.S. journalists. Laura Ling and Euna Lee are on trial for entering the country illegally and engaging in what North Korea calls hostile acts.
Both reporters work for Al Gore's Current TV. The State Department says it may send former Vice President Al Gore or New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to Pyongyang to try to negotiate these women's release.
And right now, federal authorities searching for a man who's been charged with making threats against President Obama. According to court papers, Daniel James Murray recently withdrew $85,000 from a Utah bank and told the teller he was on "a mission to kill the president." Murray is believed to have access to at least eight guns including semiautomatic pistols and revolvers.
And Lance Armstrong, he's a dad again. The cycling legend announcing the birth of his son late last night on Twitter. Armstrong posted the picture of the newborn on his Twitter page with the caption -- "What's up, world? My name is Max Armstrong and I just arrived." He says the baby and his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, are doing just fine. Armstrong has -- did I ever mention he had three children? He has three other children, in case you didn't hear the first time.
It's nine minutes past the hour.
COSTELLO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 11 minutes past the hour. Some stories new this morning.
GM's planned sale of its Hummer brand to a little-known company in China may have hit a roadblock. Chinese government regulators may not approve the deal. One newspaper report likened the small truck maker's plan to buy Hummer to a snake trying to swallow an elephant. The U.S. Army insists the proposed deal will not affect the military version of the Hummer.
Federal regulators charged the cofounder and former CEO of Countrywide Financial with fraud. They claimed Angelo Mozilo and two other former executives deliberately misled investors about how much risk the mortgage lender was taking on. Mozilo was also charged with insider trading for selling his Countrywide stocks for nearly $140 million.
And St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony Larussa is suing the social networking site Twitter. The suit claims someone created a false account under his name and posted tweets that made light of Larussa's drunk driving incidents and two Cardinals pitchers who died. Larussa's suit says the post were derogatory, demeaning and caused significant emotional distress. The Twitter account is no longer active.
ROBERTS: That is just wrong. Right now, President Obama is in Dresden, Germany. Earlier he held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the global economic crisis clearly was at the top of their agenda. The president trying to diplomatically prod European leaders to continue to stimulate the economy since the economy here shows some slight signs of improvement.
Joining me now to talk about where this is all heading is Adrienne Carter from "BusinessWeek" magazine. And William Cohan is a financial columnist with thedailybeast.com.
Good morning to both of you.
So, Angela Merkel gave a big speech on Tuesday in which he railed against the Fed and other central banks saying that they were too politically accommodating in what they were doing. She was advocating for a tighter monetary policy as opposed to a more liberal, looser monetary fiscal policy that we've been seeing here in the United States which is to roll the deficit that's just shy of $2 trillion. There's going to be some friction here in these meetings that the two are having.
ADRIENNE CARTER, FINANCE EDITOR, "BUSINESSWEEK": There is. She's really worried about the rate cuts but not only that, the asset purchases that the Fed is doing. They're essentially printing money and sort of the concern is once things get better, can we turn off that spigot of money? And if not, you know, can we control inflation and runaway inflation? That's really what she's concerned about.
ROBERTS: You know, this is interesting because it's exactly the same thing that Congressman Ron Paul is worried about. You just print money until you print the dollar out of value.
WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, "HOUSE OF CARDS": Well, there's a great debate now going on right about whether all this money that's being printed is going to result in more inflation here. I think it shows how interconnected our world is, right?
We send all these toxic assets all around the world and then each country deals with it in their open way. In the U.S., we're worried about deflation. We're worried about our experience from the 1930s.
In Germany, they're worried about inflation, hyperinflation, their experience in 1923 leading up to their crisis in World War II. And so each country looks at it from their own historical perspective and that's why we have this clash now between these two leaders.
ROBERTS: Now she has thrown some money into Germany's economy. Just last month she put 82 billion euros, about $110 billion U.S. dollars into the economy. But she is not exactly embracing this idea of everybody working together. Her attitude is more kind of what's best for my country. Is that the right way to do it?
CARTER: Well, you know, these days she's worried about the independence of the central bankers and whether or not they're getting too close to politicians and lawmakers. You know, it's really hard to really be independent as a country these days given the global interconnectedness of companies, of the economies.
I mean, what started out as a U.S. financial crisis and our U.S. housing crisis, which everyone thought would be isolated, has really spread and become a global financial crisis. So it's really hard to sit there and say, you know, "We don't really care about the rest of the world," because they are so interconnected and what you do in England impacts what you do in the U.S., impacts what you do in China. And that there really has to be a concerted effort to at least think on the same page and talk and really kind of worry about, not only about regulation but also policy.
ROBERTS: So this morning, as we saw just a couple of moments ago after their meeting together, President Obama came out and said that there is a great need for the United States and for Europe, European Union to coordinate on this idea of new regulations when it comes to the financial industry, when it comes to banks and other entities. Do you think that she'll pursue that or will she still want to work independently?
COHAN: Look, I think she's got an election in September, right? So she's appealing to her, you know, constituency in Germany. But she knows that we're all interconnected. She knows that we're all interconnected. She knows that her banks are just as important to us as our banks are to them.
I mean, Deutsche Bank which is one of their largest banks is one of the biggest banks here in the U.S. and it's aggressively trying to take market share and bankers from other firms who are subject to the TARP in this country. And they're not. So they know what's going on. I think she's posturing a little bit in my opinion.
ROBERTS: But her big worry was if we continue down the path that we're on, we could be right back where we are now in ten years' time.
ROBERTS: Do you think that -- it's dire warning, but you think it could come true?
CARTER: Well, there's a lot of fear. She's not the only one who has that fear. By the U.S. propping up these banks and saying, you know, you're not too big to fail, you we're essentially sowing the seeds of the next financial crisis because we're saying we'll take on as much risk as you want because we're going to bail you out. There's a solid fear in that and she's not only one that has it.
COHAN: You know, I think Adrienne is absolutely right about that. I mean, let's let the system do more of what it's best at doing, which is sorting out winners from losers.
ROBERTS: I mean, you wrote a book all about wretched excess and greed on Wall Street. You know, obviously it's an industry that's prone to such things. So if you keep giving them whatever they want, are they bound to repeat the mistakes of the past? COHAN: They're not very good at learning lessons. And the time has come to learn so we don't do this again.
ROBERTS: All right. Bill Cohan, Adrienne Carter, it's great to see you this morning. Thanks so much for being with us.
It's coming up now on 17 1/2 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A quick check at the "A.M. Rundown" and stories that we'll be covering for you in the next 15 minutes.
A big fight in Washington. The fight over pork barrel spending now targeting a drug agency and the effort to make its name sound like one of your favorite television shows. Here's the hint -- the music that you just heard is by the band that does the theme song for the shows.
Now the charge that's flying to try to put lipstick on pork, we'll break it all down for you.
Plus, it's that time again. Who's the "Wingnut of the Week"? Our independent analyst John Avlon joins us. And he's the guy to root for.
Calvin Burrell has a shot at winning the Triple Crown as a jockey. We are live at Belmont. And, you know, he's so successful. Maybe the horses should ride him.
COSTELLO: That would be interesting. But he's pretty amazing. That will be interesting to see what happens.
It's time for "Just Saying" -- this special segment because you know...
ROBERTS: I love this "Just Saying."
COSTELLO: We like to present an issue for you to talk about, to debate online on our blog. And this week, it's about the middle class. Because despite American giants, GM and Chrysler now off the road and shuttering dozens of plants, President Obama insists our children will grow up in an America that still makes things, but "Just Saying."
Talk to blue-collar workers, and they'll tell you manufacturing jobs will soon be a thing of the past, and so will they.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Danny Borden makes things. At least he used to. He was a steelworker in Cleveland for the past 32 years.
DANNY BORDEN, UNEMPLOYED STEELWORKER: Well, Obama, if you're looking at CNN -- help the steel mills too, man. COSTELLO: It's a plea he knows well. Laid off more than once, he has a feeling this time he won't be going back to work.
BORDEN: Angry. I'm very angry, you know. But I just can't let the anger get to me.
COSTELLO: But that's tough because Borden feels he's not only lost his job but his economic status.
BORDEN: I don't see no middle class. I've seen myself as fortunate, but I really don't see myself as middle class.
COSTELLO: Just saying -- is Borden right? Is the middle class extinct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what you have is a real fear. The manufacturing jobs that have traditionally been here, everyone knows they're not going to be there anymore.
COSTELLO: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1980, 21 percent of the nation's jobs were in manufacturing, the bulk of good paying middle class jobs. Today, just nine percent of jobs are in manufacturing. And as some economists say that puts the middle class in a massive economic black hole.
LARRY MISHEL, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: You have to start creating jobs. And we have to work on creating good jobs, you know, for people so that they can start earning good family paychecks and increase their consumption based on that.
COSTELLO: But Borden doesn't see that happening in Cleveland. He doesn't see a guy like him finding a job that would enable him to buy a car, a home, and raise two college-bound kids.
BORDEN: I hear everybody talking about -- where are they at. They're not up here.
COSTELLO: He hears about green jobs replacing manufacturing jobs one day, but they pay around 12 bucks an hour, 60 percent less than what someone like Borden would make at the plant.
COSTELLO: And critics say, "Hey, Danny Borden, it's time to move on. The world is changing."
But consider this -- according to the Census Bureau, 72 percent of Americans don't have a college degree. Seventy-two percent don't. Some economists think that will change one day, but not for a long time. So, the challenge for President Obama is how to create jobs that pay enough to keep the middle class in the middle class.
We want to know what you feel about this. Do you think that the middle class is becoming extinct, or do you think it already is extinct? Please write into our blog CNN.com/AMFix. And you can twitter us too. ROBERTS: Yes.
COSTELLO: Or tweet us.
ROBERTS: And if you want to send a comment, just go to CNN.com/AMFix. It's all there, easy to do. "Just Saying."
COSTELLO: "Just Saying."
ROBERTS: Love that.
COSTELLO: I want to know what you're "Just Saying" this morning.
ROBERTS: I love our "Just Saying" segments. I also love our "Wingnut of the Week" segments.
Who will be bestowed the crown of the "Wingnut" this morning? Stay tuned. We'll tell you. John Avlon is coming up in just a little while.
It's 24 1/2 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Your hard-earned tax dollars spent on lawmakers' special pet projects that they slip into the federal budget. Critics call them earmarks, or more familiarly, pork.
This morning, a small government agency accused of being just that. Pork may be going Hollywood so that it lives another day. CNN's Jim Acosta has got that story.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Carol, the Bush administration tried repeatedly to shut down the National Drug Intelligence Center. But every time the Bush White House tried, Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha would save the agency from the chopping block.
Now, the Obama administration has its own plans for this little known center that may include a new name. And that name might sound awfully familiar.
ACOSTA (voice-over): If you listen to critics at the National Drug Intelligence Center, or NDIC, it's a congressional pet project with nine lives. Not only does the agency sit in the district of Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, considered one of the kings of pork on Capitol Hill, each year, the powerful chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee makes sure NDIC gets its funding, an estimated half billion dollars over its history in the form of earmarks out of the Pentagon's budget.
The agency issues reports on the illegal drug trade. But it's not a part of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which always bothered former DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson.
ASA HUTCHINSON, FORMER DEA ADMINISTRATOR: The NDIC issues drug intelligence products, but where does that information come from? It comes from the DEA, who develops drug intelligence.
ACOSTA: So, I guess I'm just curious why would you have an NDIC if you have intelligence coming from the DEA?
HUTCHINSON: Well, it's not a good reason for it.
ACOSTA: After the agency was almost killed by the Bush administration, the NDIC is slated to be fully funded by the Obama White House. The Justice Department is considering a new name for the agency, the Center for Strategic Intelligence or CSI, which sounds a lot like one of TV's most popular shows. NDIC critics say the name change just puts lipstick on Potomac pork.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: Going Hollywood in Pennsylvania isn't going to save the mission of this particular place. And that's really the problem with this place. It is a whole bunch of money trying to find something to do.
ACOSTA: Murtha declined to be interviewed about the name change. His spokesman tells CNN, "You know more about this name change than we do." Taxpayer watchdogs say renaming the agency runs counter to President Obama's promise to reform earmarks.
MELANIE SLOAN, CENTERS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: So the president on the one hand is saying, you know, I think earmarks are bad. But on the other hand, if it's an important member of Congress, I guess they're going to let the earmarks go by.
ACOSTA: Asa Hutchinson argues the center should be saved and put where it belongs under the DEA.
HUTCHINSON: I don't think the magic is in the name, the magic is in the performance and the coordination.
ACOSTA: Besides giving the NDIC a new name, the Justice Department is also considering ways to broaden the agency's mission. Critics say that's just more proof this drug intelligence center is hooked on pork -- John and Carol.
ROBERTS: Jim Acosta reporting for us this morning. Jim, thanks so much for that.
Half past the hour now and checking our top stories. The search for clues into the crash of Air France Flight 447 now thrown into complete confusion. Brazilian military officials say, listen to this, none of the ocean debris they recovered this week belongs to the doomed jetliner.
We're using the global resources of CNN to bring you all the developments. We'll be live in Brazil coming up at the top of the hour with the very latest. Our John Zarrella is there.
This morning, you're forking up more of your money for gasoline. For the 38th straight day, gas prices are up. According to AAA, the national average now $2.59 a gallon. That's up two cents just overnight. Since the end of April, gas prices have increased more than 54 cents. Here in New York City, you're paying more than 3 bucks a gallon for premium.
The economy still hemorrhaging jobs, but the bleeding may have slowed just a little bit in May. The latest monthly jobs report due out in about two hours' time. It's expected to show some improvement for May but unemployment still expected to top 9 percent. As soon as the numbers are released, we'll have them for you here on AMERICAN MORNING - Carol.
COSTELLO: It is Friday. And that means it's time for a segment we call "Wingnut of the Week." It's a title independent analyst John Avlon gives to someone on the far right and the far left who he says is trying to divide us rather than unite us. His motto -- the center is under attack and it's time to take it back. John Avlon is also a columnist for TheDailyBeast.com and he's here with this week's edition to the ring of dishonor.
JOHN AVLON, COLUMNIST, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: The ring of dishonor -- I like that. That has sort of an elevated quality to it.
Well, for this week on the right, we've chosen former Congressman Tom Tancredo. In a week in which most Republicans were backtracking on allegations of reverse racism in Judge Sotomayor, Congressman Tancredo took a leap a little bit further into that messy pool on an interview with CNN's Rick Sanchez. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: If you belong to an organization called La Raza in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, is nothing more than a Latino -- it's a counterpart -- it's a Latino KKK without the hoods and/or the nooses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: Yes -- the KKK reference, a little out of bounds there, former congressman. That is a sign of a wingnut in extreme.
COSTELLO: That's not the only thing he said, though. There was sort of "wingnuttish"...
AVLON: No, no, no. He had a very crowded week. He also, when asked whether he thought the Obama administration hated white people, said he didn't know.
So, that's a -- you know, a little memo to Republicans there.
COSTELLO: So, he's not backtracking like Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh.
AVLON: Oh, he's digging deeper in that hole. He's digging way deeper in that hole.
COSTELLO: Well, you know, in fairness, we have to talk about the wingnut on the left side of the political aisle.
AVLON: We are all about fairness. And on the left this week, the bubbling discontent on some on the far left with President Obama erupted entirely into outright calls for resignation from syndicated columnist and political cartoonist Ted Rall, who wrote in a column called "Mr. Obama, Resign Now."
With Democrats like him, who needs dictators? He continued, "Obama is cute. He is charming. But there is something rotten inside him. Unlike the Republicans who backed Bush, I won't follow a terrible leader just because I voted for him. Obama has revealed himself. He is a monster, and he should remove himself from power."
COSTELLO: So, where is that coming from? Like, what is rotten inside of him?
AVLON: The far, far reaches of the far, far left. I mean, when you get six months in and folks on the far left are calling for his resignation because in this case, he has not been adequately liberal on issues regarding the war on terror, well, that's just destructive in D.C. You know, with Democrats like that, who needs far right Republicans?
COSTELLO: Exactly. But -- CNN.com/amfix, you have a blog on there and...
AVLON: We'll be very willing. We will be continuing our cause to bring a sense of perspective back to our politics.
COSTELLO: And of course, you want viewers to weigh in as well because I know you'll enjoy that too.
It's 34 minutes past the hour.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Manila is often called the "billboard jungle." The bustling capital of the Philippines is awash in a sea of advertising billboards. With new ads going up all the time, the old ones end up at the landfill.
But an environmental charity is hoping to change things by cutting the problem down to size. Old billboards like these are given a second life at a workshop run by a local NGO, the Earth Day Network. They're recycled and remade into bags. The tarpaulin from the billboards is an ideal material, tough enough for anything from school bags to shopping totes.
Binggirl Clemente started this operation. Her original aim was to target the companies advertising on the billboards. She wants to sell the bags back to them to show that these old billboards are in fact a resource that has been overlooked. Many companies took interest, giving the group their old billboards and buying them back reborn as bags.
BINGGIRL CLEMENTE, FOUNDER, EARTH DAY NETWORK: When you're done with one thing, please don't throw it away. Save it. Maybe it could be useful to some other people. It can be useful again to your future needs.
STOUT: With the success of the billboard bags, the group is giving out free school bags to the village children.
Kristie Lu Stout, CNN.
ROBERTS: Well, it's not exactly a beautiful day out there in Elmont, New York. It's about 57 degrees and raining right now. It's expected to stay mostly that way for the rest of the day. But tomorrow, good-looking weather for the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes.
COSTELLO: You said it like the announcer.
ROBERTS: Coming down the home stretch is our Richard Roth. He's out there this morning. And this is a real chance for Calvin Borel to make history here to win the Triple Crown as a jockey on two different horses.
COSTELLO: Just amazing, isn't it?
ROBERTS: Richard Roth, by day, mild-mannered United Nations foreign affairs experts. But on the weekend, he lets his hair down and gets out to the racetrack. He's at Belmont Park this morning.
Richard, this is going to be a very exciting weekend.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. These horses are moving a lot faster than the ambassadors. History could be made here tomorrow at Belmont Racetrack. Calvin Borel trying to become the first jockey ever to win America's famed Triple Crown on two different horses.
ROTH (voice-over): For Calvin Borel, guts has always come before glory in the racing dictionary.
RACETRACK ANNOUNCER: Mine That Bird has skimmed the rail, a brilliant ride by Calvin Borel.
ROTH: A last-to-first dash along the rail to win the Kentucky Derby on 50-1 long shot, Mine That Bird cemented that image.
BENNIE WOOLEY JR., TRAINER, MINE THAT BIRD: He's got that no- fear attitude. He'll drive up in a spot. There might not be a hole there and he'll make his own.
ROTH: Then, consider his unprecedented decision to jump off the derby winner on to Rachel Alexandra, helping her hold off the Bird and become the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years.
RACETRACK ANNOUNCER: And the filly did it!
ROTH: Borel loves his job so much so he's been doing it since he was 8 in the backwoods of Louisiana.
CALVIN BOREL, GOING FOR PERSONAL TRIPLE CROWN: We rode, no shoes, no shirt, just a saddle. I rode races, horse against horse with chickens on one horse and I was on one horse.
ROTH: He's hit Hollywood.
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Now, did Funk bet on you?
BOREL: No, but everybody else did.
ROTH: And he's been a better bet than the Dow Jones. Quite a run for someone who quit school at 12.
BOREL: I can read enough, write and add and subtract a little bit. I mean, that's all I need in life.
ROTH: Borel shares his success with his fiancee, although he wishes he could do the same with the parents that first put him on horseback.
(on camera): How much do you miss your parents?
BOREL: I miss my parents a lot. I wish they were here to see what I accomplished. But I know they're watching me from up there (ph). It hurts a lot. But I don't really like to talk about it.
ROTH (voice-over): Emotion is never far from his face, except, of course, if you're looking for fear.
(on camera): But why do you like the rail so much?
BOREL: The shortest way around -- point blank.
LISA FUNK, BOREL'S FIANCEE: Actually, I worry about him when he's mowing the lawn. He's been like (INAUDIBLE) or he's going to get on a ladder. He's done stupid -- he gets on ladders and climbs up on the roof and cleans gutters out.
ROTH: So, he's fearless.
FUNK: Yes, he doesn't...
ROTH: Or clueless? Which is it?
FUNK: I think a little bit -- a mixture of both.
ROTH (voice-over): Borel has a much more confident take on that. BOREL: I have no fear. (INAUDIBLE)
ROTH (on camera): Guaranteed?
ROTH: Calvin Borel, it's interesting, has never ridden in the Belmont Stakes before, John and Carol. But he could make some racing history, nevertheless, late Saturday and tomorrow here at Belmont Park.
ROBERTS: As we saw, Richard, in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, Mine That Bird has got an amazing finishing kick. And this is the longest track in the Triple Crown. So what does that say about his chances of winning?
ROTH: They like their chances. He's known as that one-run horse. He makes that -- he hangs in the back and then comes steaming ahead. But that doesn't always guarantee, you know, success here. It could be what's known as a slow pace up front. And he may not be able to challenge coming on in the stretch here.
There's a lot of other good contenders here -- Charitable Man, Dunkirk if you're a World War II buff, 55th anniversary of D-Day tomorrow. Dunkirk was a bit of a withdrawal, but the windows are open, John.
ROBERTS: All right - Carol.
COSTELLO: I want to know less important information like, how tall is he? How tall is this jockey?
ROTH: He's shorter than me, and he's glad that Rachael Alexandra is not running, the filly, Carol.
ROBERTS: Yes, she bowed out. So, that's why he's aboard Mine That Bird. He's an amazing guy, though, isn't he? And just like -- full of life and full of enthusiasm. And it's infectious, too. You can't help but smile when you're around the guy, Richard.
COSTELLO: Yes, but what would you say -- he's 5-2, 5-3? Come on, Richard. I want to know.
ROBERTS: Would you get off the height thing?
ROTH: Listen, I don't carry a tape measure with me, Carol. Size doesn't count in racing, by the way.
COSTELLO: It doesn't?
ROTH: No, it's speed.
COSTELLO: I thought the smaller and lighter the jockey, the better. OK... ROTH: No, I mean, they also carry some weight. You know, also with the U.N. ambassadors are given some weight to carry around. And some of them could use some more of -- but the weather is expected to be better tomorrow.
ROBERTS: You guys are like one-trick ponies. It's the United Nations for Richard and the height thing for you.
Richard, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.
Forty-four minutes after the hour.
COSTELLO: I love this song.
Reynolds Wolf is at the CNN center at Atlanta.
And Reynolds, I know that you're very curious about -- nice dancing, baby.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's just kind of, you know, the hands, the pockets, kind of shrugs are in.
COSTELLO: Yes, that's the white man dance.
Anyway -- Calvin Borel, he's 5-4, 116 pounds...
WOLF: Yes, he is.
COSTELLO: ... and he's 42 years old. I just thought you should know. I was curious.
WOLF: Yes, yes. He's going to be facing some pretty interesting conditions this weekend with rainstorms.
COSTELLO: And you can continue with your dance. Thanks, Reynolds Wolf.
It's 48 minutes past the hour.
ROBERTS: Fifty-one and a half minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
These days, just about anyone can explore the Grand Canyon or downtown New York with simply the click of the mouse. On-line satellite images allow you to zoom in on just about any location around the globe. But there are also growing concerns that terrorists may be using that information to plot an attack here in the United States.
Here's CNN's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve with that story.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, Carol, if terrorists wanted to attack a nuclear plant, there is worry that enhanced technology is giving them a new tool.
SCOTT PORTZLINE, THREE MILE ISLAND ALERT: These are the old satellite images and you can see this nuclear plant. It's quite blurry. This is the newest quality, it's the high quality resolution with different angle where we can see more of the 3-D layout of the plan.
MESERVE (voice-over): Scott Portzline is taking us on a tour of U.S. nuclear power plants on the Internet, where high-resolution satellite imagery is conveniently linked with even higher resolution aerial photography. It's a tour he's afraid terrorists are taking right now.
PORTZLINE: What we're seeing here is a guard shack. This is a communications device for the nuclear plant. This particular building is the air intake for the control room. I look at this and just say, wow.
MESERVE (on camera): How hard is it to find this image on-line?
PORTZLINE: I found it in five minutes' time.
MESERVE (voice-over): Some of the images are of the Three-Mile Island nuclear plant, but officials there say much of their security is not visible and they say they're not concerned.
RALPH DESANTIS, AMERGEN -- THREE MILE ISLAND: Our security programs are designed and tested to defend against the threat that has insider information. Even more information that's available on the Internet.
MESERVE: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says old, low resolution images were not a concern but it is reviewing the new more detailed imagery. We are taking another look because the security of nuclear power plants is something we take very seriously.
BRIAN JENKINS, RAND CORP.: I look at these things. They were extraordinary. Impressive.
MESERVE: Terror expert Brian Jenkins does not believe Portzline or CNN is telling terrorists anything they don't already know. They have used on-line satellite imagery to plan the Mumbai attacks last November, for example.
Although, the nuclear industry has spent $2 billion improving securities since 9/11, Jenkins believes the images of the plant should be blurred.
JENKINS: Mystery is an important component of security. This takes away that uncertainty. If I were on the defending side, I certainly would not want to see anything that detailed available to anyone.
MESERVE: Chemical plants, national monuments, all kinds of potential targets are also captured on satellite and aerial imagery. That could be called up on a computer with just a few clicks of a mouse. And every case raises the question, how do you balance public information against security.
John, Carol, back to you.
CARROLL: All right. Thank you, Jeanne. Coming up, we are learning much more about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. More on her views on what it's like to be a Latina in the world of judges. And also, how much money she makes, what she's worth, what she owes on her credit cards. All of those things that must become public before you become a public official. We'll fill you in on the new details when we come back.
It's 54 minutes past.
COSTELLO: So you want to be a Supreme Court justice. Well, you have to fill out one of the longest job applications ever. This morning, our first look at the nearly 200-page questionnaire filled out by President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
The standard document includes financial information with Sotomayor listing a net worth of $740,000. But most of that is her apartment in New York City. There's also a somewhat painful debt -- $15,000 she owes to a dentist. We also learned that Sotomayor was contacted about a possible vacancy on the Supreme Court on April 27th, four days before Justice David Souter announced his retirement. So, she was a very early favorite.
In the meantime, the Senate Judiciary Committee's top Republican, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, is bringing a unique and rather painful perspective to the confirmation process. More on that now from our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She's in Washington this morning.
Good morning, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Well, you know, 23 years ago today, the Senate Judiciary Committee took a rare step and they voted to keep a Reagan judicial appointee off the federal bench. Well, now as that same committee considers President Obama's first Supreme Court pick, the man it wants blocked is back -- big time.
BASH (voice-over): Listen in to what Republican Jeff Sessions told the Democratic president Supreme Court nominee.
JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: You will get a fair hearing before this committee.
BASH: He is so emphatic because of his own experience. Twenty- three years ago, Sessions was nominated by Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge, but was rejected.
SESSIONS: I am sorry that the Senate Judiciary Committee did not seem fit to find me qualified for it.
BASH: He's now the top Republican on that very committee.
SESSIONS: That is a very odd thing. Somebody says it gives new meaning to the word "irony."
BASH: Irony bringing back memories he tries to forget.
SESSIONS: It was not a pleasant event. I got to tell you. It was really so heart-breaking to me.
BASH: Then, a 39-year-old Alabama U.S. attorney, Sessions was accused of racial insensitivity, calling a black lawyer "boy," a white lawyer a disgrace to his race and civil rights groups like the NAACP un-American. He was pounded by Democrats like Joe Biden.
SESSIONS: They may have taken positions I consider to be adverse to the security interests of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that make them un-American?
SESSIONS: No, sir, it does not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Does that make the positions un- American?
BASH: Some Democratic senators Sessions now serves with called him racist.
SESSIONS: That was not fair. That was not accurate. Those were false charges using distortions of anything that I did. And it really was not. I never had those kinds of views, and I was caricatured in a way that was not me.
BASH: Sessions went on to win a Senate seat in 1996, but the allegations still sting.
SESSIONS: I think it was hard on me.
BASH: The parallel to today, some Republicans changing Sotomayor as a racist, is eerie.
(on camera): When you hear that, you hear Ted Kennedy and other Democrats going through your head saying Jeff Sessions is a racist?
SESSIONS: You know, that's such a loaded word, and I don't think it's appropriate.
BASH (voice-over): Sessions will ask tough questions about deep differences with Sotomayor on judicial philosophy. But also hopes to use her hearing to close the door on a painful part of his past.
BASH: The story of how Sessions unexpectedly gained such influence over Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination is rack in another irony. It was Senator Arlene Specter's recent party switch from Republican to Democrat that elevated Sessions to his new leading role. Well, get this, 23 years ago, it was Specter who cast a decisive vote to block Sessions from the lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
COSTELLO: As Yogi Berra would say, deja vu all over again.
BASH: Yes, it is.
COSTELLO: Dana Bash, thanks very much.
With the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court nominee, we want to remind you, CNN will take a comprehensive look at how Latinos are reshaping America. It's a special you'll see only on CNN. That will come your way in October.