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History of Suspected Museum Shooter; New Evidence Air France Flight Broke Apart; Miss California Fired; Rev. Wright No Contact with Obama; U.N. to Sanction North Korea
Aired June 11, 2009 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And we're coming up now at the top of the hour. It's Thursday, it's the 11th of June. Good morning to you. Thanks for being with us. I'm John Roberts.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry.
Here's what's on this morning's agenda. These are the stories we're going to be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.
There are some new details this morning about the suspect in the Holocaust Museum shooting. We're learning more about 88-year James Von Brunn's criminal past and also his ties to hate groups as well as antigovernment organizations. We're going to get a live report in just a moment.
Also, did Air France Flight 447 break up in mid-flight over the Atlantic? There's some new evidence this morning suggesting that the doomed jetliner did not hit the water in one piece. We're live with developments on that investigation.
And in just about 90 minutes, Wall Street kicks off the trading day and investors are awaiting to hear the results of key reports on weekly jobless claims as well as retail sales numbers. Will they help us know anything more about whether or not the ongoing recession is ending?
Well, our money team is standing by to bring you that information as soon as we get it.
We begin, though, with new information this morning about the 88- year-old white supremacist whose hatred of Jews and blacks, police say erupted into murder at the Holocaust Museum. Right now, police are building their case against James von Brunn. They said they've discovered a notebook listing other locations in Washington that he may have tried to target. The suspected gunman is now hospitalized in critical condition. He was shot in the head.
And this morning, the Holocaust Museum is closed. The flags flying at Half Staff in honor and memory of fallen security guard Steven Tyrone Johns.
Also this morning, authorities are pouring over the long and troubled history of James von Brunn. The white supremacist with a life-long grievance against the government.
CNN's Jim Acosta is live in Annapolis, Maryland, with details on what may have caused this elderly gunman to snap.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran.
That's right. Law enforcement officials are putting the pieces together. Unfortunately, not connecting the dots that should have been connected before yesterday's tragedy. But nonetheless, they are doing some work this morning. We can tell you that overnight they were snapping pictures inside this apartment complex where James von Brunn lived with some relatives off and on.
And in just the last couple of hours, we were on the scene and were rolling as law enforcement officials were pulling bags of von Brunn's items out of this apartment. CNN has also spoken with the suspect's ex-wife who confirmed that law enforcement officials are also talking with her. She told CNN that her ex-husband has harbored anti-Semitic views for decades.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Alleged Holocaust Museum gunman James von Brunn was living off and on at this Annapolis apartment complex with relatives. Neighbors say the 88-year-old bragged about serving in the military and wasn't shy about sharing his white supremacist views.
HAROLD O'LYNNGER, JAMES VON BRUNN'S NEIGHBOR: The only thing he did was say that the media covered the holocaust too much.
ACOSTA: FBI agents searched von Brunn's other home in nearby eastern Maryland, where neighbors there say they also saw trouble.
SHAWN PARSON, JAMES ON BRUNN'S NEIGHBOR: I used to be a police officer. And he would be somebody that I would kind of have my eye on.
PARSON: Because of the way that he put himself out there. He would be fine one minute and just like with a young boy that I was talking about, he would just kind of go off on you, you know, for no reason.
ACOSTA: Wednesday night, the FBI also interviewed von Brunn's ex-wife. She told CNN that she's quote, "in a state of shock" over what happened, and asked that we not use her name. She said she didn't know about her ex-husband's anti-Semitic views until a few years into their marriage and was in total disagreement with his views.
But experts in the field of tracking hate groups have had their eye on von Brunn for years.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Thirty years ago, he was spending time with leading members of the Neo-Nazi right.
ACOSTA: Mark Potok with the southern poverty law center says von Brunn worked for a small publishing group called noontime press, which denies the holocaust.
In recent years, Potok says von Brunn grew more isolated and wrote a hate-filled book entitled, "Kill the Best Gentiles," raging against Jews and African-Americans.
POTOK: This was a man who was growing old all by himself. He didn't seem to participate in many movement activities, but he did put out a steady stream of propaganda.
ACOSTA: And von Brunn has acted on his beliefs before. In 1981, he tried to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve, convinced it was controlled by Jews. For that von Brunn was convicted and served six years in prison.
JOHN HOGROGIAN, ATTORNEY ON VON BRUNN'S 1983 APPEAL CASE: His defense at trial was essentially that it was an act of conscience. And I had no reason to doubt that he didn't sincerely hold those beliefs.
ACOSTA: By his own account, von Brunn tried a number of professions, from painting, to marketing, to real estate. What's still unclear is what lit the fuse this time.
ACOSTA: And investigators found a notebook in von Brunn's car listing other targets that the suspect wanted to (INAUDIBLE), but law enforcement officials cautioned they have checked out those locations and are reasonably certain the nation's capital is safe. They believed at this point that von Brunn was working alone.
And we can also tell you that later this morning at 11:00, law enforcement officials, the mayor of Washington, D.C., Adrian Fenty will be meeting outside the Holocaust Museum in Washington to offer the latest on this investigation.
And, Kiran, obviously, you know, folks like us and folks at the Holocaust Museum, everybody who has been connected by this tragedy would like to get some more answers about exactly how something like this could've happened.
CHETRY: Absolutely. All right. Jim Acosta for us in Washington today.
Thanks so much.
And also, in just a few moments, a witness to the killing. Former Defense Secretary William Cohen just happened to be steps away from this alleged suspect when this shooting began. He and his wife, playwright Janet Cohen, are going to be joining us live in just a couple of minutes to talk more about the shooting.
ROBERTS: Looking forward to that.
More on our developing story this morning. The investigation into the crash of Air France Flight 447. It's truly a race against the clock now to find the black boxes. And a French nuclear submarine is scouring the area, listening for the data and voice recorders pings before they fade away. The pinging will stop in about 30 days' time, leaving only 2-1/2 to 3 weeks left before they go silent.
There's also talk of new clues and a possible link to terrorism. But that theory is being firmly disputed.
Our Paula Newton is live with us now. She's in London for the very latest.
What's being said about this terrorist link, Paula?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You know, they said from the beginning that, look, everything's on the table. We can't rule anything out. And keeping with that, French intelligence service went immediately to Brazil to start an investigation. They did come up with two names on the passenger list that may have led to some suspicions. But French security sources telling CNN that, in fact, they do not believe that those two names are similar to two names that were linked to Islamic terrorism. And that in fact, they do not believe that a terrorism link is likely.
Having said that, John, as you and I both know in the last ten days through this investigation, the problem is, even what they do know leads to a more confusing picture.
The latest here saying that it does look like this plane broke up midair, but they still don't know why.
ROBERTS: And, of course, they continue to search for those so- called black boxes deep in the Atlantic Ocean. It would make looking for a needle in a haystack. Look like child's play in comparison.
Are they prepared to take this all the way to the end? You know, that 30 days and maybe even go beyond and hopes that the batteries stay alive a little bit longer than that 30-day window?
NEWTON: They definitely will go even beyond if they have to. But right now they say quite frankly they're depending on a little bit of luck when we talked about the adversity a few miles down and the kind of mountain range that exists out there. And beyond that, also, the search for bodies now, Brazilian authorities saying they are trying to get to a date where they think it will be realistic to find anymore bodies.
They're saying that's going to happen in about another week to ten days' time. Already, John, they're having incredible problems with the current from that area. Starting to find more debris scattered across a wider area. And as we discussed, John, the weather not helping out at all.
ROBERTS: No. Paula Newton for us this morning in London.
Paula, thanks so much for that. CHETRY: Well, Miss California USA stripped of her crown. It's one of the most popular stories right now. Carrie Prejean's reign was marked by controversy over her views on same-sex marriage. There were also some photos of her not wearing a shirt that's surface. Well, runner-up Tami Farrell now assumes the title.
On last night's "LARRY KING LIVE," she was asked the same question that got Prejean in so much hot water.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY BUSH, HOST: Vermont just became the fourth state -- of course, now, Maine is the fifth state. But Vermont just became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Do you think all states should follow suit and why?
TAMI FARRELL, NEW MISS CALIFORNIA USA: Well, I think -- honestly, I think that it's a personal decision and I think it's a civil rights issue. And I think it's something that we should let each state decide. I think it's silly, too, with all of this controversy right now, that the world is looking to beauty queens for the answer more than anything. That's my honest opinion.
But I -- you know, that's where I stand.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You're a California voter, though.
KING: How would you vote on this issue?
FARRELL: How would you vote on this issue?
KING: You're the guest.
KING: That was the question.
How would you vote?
You don't have to answer, but how would you vote?
FARRELL: You know, well, I guess --
KING: How do you feel about it? You said it's a personal.
KEITH LEWIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MISS CA USA ORGANIZATION: That's the great thing. You know, it's -- the ballot box is confidential.
BUSH: Here we go.
LEWIS: And that's the great thing.
KING: So you don't choose to answer?
You don't have to.
FARRELL: Well, yes. My thing is I just think with all of the controversy that's been go on, I want to start clean and I want to move forward. There are so many other amazing organizations and so many great things we can champion here. And I feel like -- just like everybody else in the world, they think this has dragged on for so long. Let's move forward and start clean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well, there you go. Pageant officials say that Prejean was fired for being derelict in her post-pageant duties. It's a claim that she denies. But you saw the executive director of the pageant just jump in there for a minute, because if she would've answered, no matter which way she answered, that would have definitely been the headline.
ROBERTS: Well, she had a very politically correct answer to the first question.
CHETRY: That the states decide.
ROBERTS: You don't think that somebody said to her, somewhere along the lines, by the way, if you get asked that same question --
ROBERTS: Here's a couple of talking points you might want to think about. But I love Larry, you know.
You don't have to answer, but what would you -- how would you vote? No really, how would you vote?
CHETRY: Exactly. But, you know, what --
ROBERTS: You don't have to answer but how would you vote?
CHETRY: The smartest thing she said was, why are we looking at beauty queens, you know, for the answer? You know, for their opinion on that issue anyway?
Anyway, she's a cute, young girl and good luck to her. And good luck to, you know -
ROBERTS: She's lovely young lady.
CHETRY: You know what, who knew all of these controversy. We don't even know -- no one even talks about the person who actually won the pageant. The Miss Universe pageant, right? I mean, the Miss USA pageant.
ROBERTS: It's all about California.
How would you vote? You don't have to answer that.
CHETRY: Pretty good King imitation there.
ROBERTS: That's going to be another entry into one of his fine books coming up. The one that's currently out there is great, by the way. He got a good story about Moppo.
CHETRY: His book is really a good one.
ROBERTS: The story about Moppo is priceless.
Eleven minutes now after the hour.
ROBERTS: Thirteen minutes after the hour. And welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
This morning, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington will remain closed with its flags flying at Half Staff. Police say white supremacist James von Brunn walked through the museum doors with a rifle yesterday and began firing. A 39-year-old security guard was killed. Terrified visitors scrambled for cover.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were in the Remember the Children exhibit. We were just exiting, and we heard shooting. I ran towards the glass doors to see what was going on. I thought it was a joke or something. And there I could see a security man pull out his gun and shoot towards the shooter. I also saw another security man lay flat on his belly. There was blood everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First we thought something just fell, but, you know, all of a sudden there were people yelling. They're screaming, hit the floor, hit the floor. So we did into a little nuke in the side of the wall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard three gun shots, and I'm not sure what order they happened in. But as I looked over to see what was happening, I saw security guards kneeling down by the entrance and returning fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
One of the witnesses to yesterday's horror is with us this morning. Former senator and secretary of defense William Cohen was just a few feet away from suspected gunman James von Brunn when the shooting started. He joins us this morning from Washington along with his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen. Her play "Anne and Emmett" was scheduled to debut last night at the Holocaust Museum.
Good morning to both of you.
Mr. Secretary when you play the events of yesterday afternoon through your mind, do you ever think about how much worse that incident. I mean, bad as it was, how much worse it might have been had those guards not reacted as quickly as they did?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SENATOR AND SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I do, John. As a matter of fact the one guard who was shot and killed, Officer Johns, everyone owes a great deal to him. Because had he not stopped that individual, he might have gotten through the magnetometer into the interior of the building and started shooting a lot of the young people who were there.
So it was very fortunate that he was able to do that. It cost him his life, and we are deeply, deeply grieved by what has happened and grateful for that sacrifice.
ROBERTS: And Janet, we mentioned that your play, "Anne and Emmett" about Anne Frank and Emmett Till, a young black man who was killed in 1955 in Money, Mississippi for flirting with a white woman. That was supposed to play last night at the Holocaust Museum. It's a conversation with the two of them about ending episodes like this. And it's just so ironic that the fellow who walked in there and started shooting believes that the "Diary of Anne Frank" is a hoax.
JANET LANGHART COHEN, PLAYWRIGHT: Yes, and that's simply ridiculous. There's proof from the Holocaust Museum and other objective scientists that it is indeed authentic. The play that I wrote, I wrote it for young people and talking about hate. How do we eradicate hate?
Anne Frank, as you know, is the young girl who died in Hitler's holocaust and Emmett Till, as you mentioned, John, was a young boy from Chicago who had gone south for the summer in Money, Mississippi and was lynched, brutally murdered for whistling at a white woman.
And I thought it might be helpful to have an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till on the lessons of tolerance, on the lessons of what happens to the world when intolerance is allowed to prevail. And at the end of the play, I have the characters call for action, not just to remember the past, so we don't repeat it, but to act. All the good people must act and do something to prevent the events that happened yesterday.
ROBERTS: Now, I was watching the two of you yesterday with Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." And Janet, you said, you were talking about the first amendment. You said, quote, "As a journalist, the First Amendment is important to me. But what do we do about people like this who spread that kind of hate? Because it all begins with a word, then it's a gun and then it's somebody dead. What do we do?"
So, I mean, what to do about people like James von Brunn.
LANGHART COHEN: Well, I don't know if I'm up to answering the question, but I certainly can raise it. We know that since Nazi Germany and much of Europe, it's against the law. You can be put in jail for denying the holocaust or any anti-Semitic remarks.
However here, in our great country, and I do love our First Amendment, I love our democracy, but here, we have an issue that must be resolved where we protect haters.
In Skokie, Illinois, a city just outside of Chicago where there is the largest group of living survivors of the holocaust, Skokie will allow the police to protect those who are marching and talking about hate against Jews, hate against blacks, Latinos. We're protected.
So how do we reconcile what they're doing in Europe by persecuting those who spew hate and those in this country who protect it? We all know now about what he was talking about. The perpetrator was talking about. Many of the journalists knew in advance.
And it's so interesting to me that we know about this man, and at airports, we take people who may be Arab, may be Muslim, people of color, they're profiled and thought as terrorists, and here, we have a terrorist among us and allow him to act and murder someone at the museum yesterday.
ROBERTS: You know, the two of you have such an extraordinary marriage. A black woman married to a Jewish man.
You know, Mr. Secretary, I'm sure that the two of you weren't thinking about fostering race relations when you fell in love. I'm sure you just did fall in love. But what can the nation learn from your relationship?
COHEN: I hope that they will learn that we are different. We have our differences. They are superficial differences. One has to do with the color of one's skin, but beneath the skin, we are all humans. That's what President Barack Obama is talking about when he reaches out to talk to the Muslim world or talk to those in Asia, those in Europe, be they German or English or here in this country.
And his message of hope and of inspiration, I think, is what most people react to and really are responding to. And what we have to do is to call out those who are the haters to isolate, to marginalize them, to expose the light on them, and put that light on them to show how sociopathic they really are and what a malignancy they are to civilized society.
And the best we can hope to do is -- when Janet talks about how do you draw the distinction between the spoken word, well, the spoken word, free speech is not absolute.
COHEN: You cannot shout falsely fire in a crowded theater. You cannot incite people to riot. You cannot communicate in a way to and energize people to go out and kill other people. That's a crime. So we have to be ever vigilant on that.
What level does speech turn into action? And when that action takes place, can we preempt it early enough?
LANGHART COHEN: Well, I think, John, I think the answer is love, not just for Bill and me, but for the world. And I have the spirit of Anne Frank, and she believed in the goodness of people that people were basically good at heart.
ROBERTS: Well, the two of you certainly --
LANGHART COHEN: And we have to speak to the good people.
ROBERTS: The two of you certainly are an inspiration to us all. It's great to talk to you this morning. Thanks so much for coming in. Appreciate it.
LANGHART COHEN: Thank you, John.
COHEN: Good to be with you, John.
CHETRY: Well, President Obama's former pastor Reverend Wright is back in the news again for some comments he made raising some eyebrows. We'll play them for you.
Twenty minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Well, welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's now 23 minutes past the hour. And a quick look now at the A.M. rundown. Stories coming up in the next few minutes.
Ready to strike. The United Nations agrees to hit North Korea with new sanctions.
Plus, an attitude adjustment. Why the best and brightest college graduates are snubbing Wall Street. And where they're heading, instead.
And, the Craigslist clean-up. It's been nearly a month since Craigslist promised to remove porn and erotic ads off of its Web site. Is it really working? We'll find out. CHETRY: All right. Well, President Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright is back in the spotlight raising some eyebrows in an interview with the "Daily Press." This is a paper in Newport News, Virginia.
Wright was asked about whether or not he has spoken to the president. Now the audio is difficult to hear. But the newspaper says that Wright blames, quote, "them Jews" for keeping the president from giving him a call.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
QUESTION: Have you spoken to him since he's been in the White House?
REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT: Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well, the White House so far has declined to comment. You'll remember that Wright came under fire last year following several racially charged sermons that made the rounds on YouTube during the Democratic primary.
ROBERTS: Interesting little piece of tape there.
It's 24 minutes after the hour.
We've been talking a lot in the last couple of months about Craigslist. There was a Craigslist murder up there in New England. And there have certainly been lots of attorneys general and sheriffs across the nation who have been getting on them about these erotic ads, saying they're nothing more than a front for prostitution.
Well, Craigslist promised to clean things up. But has it gone far enough? Connecticut's Attorney General Robert Morgan Thaw (ph) joins us -- Blumenthal, sorry. Morgan Thaw (ph), he's the guy here in New York City. Robert Blumenthal joins us in just a few minutes to talk about all that. Stay with us.
ROBERTS: There's a lovely picture of Columbus Circle for you this morning. And it's not an unusual scene because the streets are wet yet again. Cloudy and 61 degrees in New York. Later on today, scattered thunderstorms and a high of only 67. So we're going to be about five to eight degrees below where we're supposed to be this time of year.
Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. The United Nations Security Council is ready to impose tough new sanctions on North Korea. It could happen by tomorrow. North Korea has already threatened a military response, a nuclear one to any hostile U.N. action. We got more on all of that now from senior United Nation's correspondent Richard Roth.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Now it's the turn of the U.N. Security Council to launch something at North Korea. Key powers agreeing to introduce a new resolution in response to North Korea's recent underground nuclear and rocket tests.
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We think that the message that the council will send should it adopt this resolution is that North Korea's behavior is unacceptable. They must pay a price. They ought to return without conditions to a process of negotiations. And that the consequences they will face are significant.
ROTH: Consequences could include inspections on the high seas of ships suspected of carrying nuclear or missile technology. But there's no authorization to use force to assure compliance. There would be an expansion of an arms embargo on the isolated North Korean, a country which makes most of its money from arm sales. And More North Korean officials and companies will be added to the list of those subject to financial sanctions.
YUKIO TAKASU, JAPANESE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I think this resolution has a very strong, effective measures to prevent the further development of nuclear weapon program.
ROTH: This new resolution is a lot like one passed nearly three years ago, but some countries never enforced it. But now China and Russia have signed on for the getup approach.
VITALLY CHURKIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Having sanctions and things like that is not our choice. But certain political message must be sent and some measures must be taken. Because we are facing a very real situation of proliferation risks in this context.
ROTH (on camera): The resolution may be approved by the full Security Council later this week. Ambassadors expect some kind of reaction from North Korea, but no one can be sure what it will be.
Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.
CHETRY: Richard, thanks. 29 minutes past the hour. We checked our top stories. And we're awaiting a news conference on the 88-year- old white supremacist who police say opened fire, killing a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We've been following the newest details all morning. And now the accused gunman could be charged in the next few hours with murder.
We also have some new video of items being removed from a suspect's apartment -- this is in Annapolis -- overnight. Higher and higher. AAA now reporting the national average price for a galloon of regular unleaded gas is up over $2.63 a gallon. It jumped about half a cent from the previous day's price, but it's the 44th consecutive jump. Oil also headed in that same direction now more than $72 a barrel.
Is Wall Street losing its luster? U.S. college graduates are increasingly looking for government jobs in Washington that enrich their social conscience instead of inflating their bank accounts. That's according to the job placement company Challenger Gray & Christmas. The financial crisis has tainted the image of big banks with fewer financial jobs available as well, Uncle Sam maybe reaping the benefits.
Well, now to the ongoing fight to clean-up Craigslist. It's been nearly a month since a classified site agreed to change its policy on the erotic ads portion pressured by states to close the doors on what our next guest basically called a blatant Internet brothel.
Richard Blumenthal is Connecticut's attorney general and he's live for us in Stanford this morning.
Great to talk to you this morning. Thanks for being here.
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you.
CHETRY: So, you really led the charge here? And you, along with other -- with about 39 other attorneys general and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children really got Craigslist to into enter this agreement, to add this safeguards. About a month ago was when they actually dropped, officially, the erotic services. It's been replaced with adult services.
Are you happy right now with some of the changes that you've seen on the site?
BLUMENTHAL: Happy probably is the wrong word. We're making some progress, but we're -- by no means -- completely satisfied. We're not going away.
And Craigslist, we hope, will continue to cooperate because it's promised not only to eliminate the erotic services section -- as you mentioned earlier -- but also, to do manual review so as to block those prostitution ads and pornography that we found so objectionable.
And remember, it was very graphic and explicit leaving nothing to the imagination. The adult services section that's now operating has some prostitution ads with code words and signals -- very clearly advertising those kinds of services. And we want to know what Craigslist is going to do more aggressively and effectively to block those ads and any remaining pornography, as well.
And we're keeping after them. We wrote them recently and we're awaiting response.
CHETRY: All right. Well, let me just go over a couple of the things they say that they've done. They say that they agreed to implement that credit card verification that you talked about. Also, they have a fee now and it requires a phone number from people who are going to be posting in those sites. One reason why -- two reasons why is so that they can verify if they think that the activity is not legal.
And these adult services ads also now expire over seven days. Again, you know, people have to keep paying if they want to keep putting those ads on there. It sounds like they're at least trying to clean this up a bit. Do you agree that they're making some progress?
BLUMENTHAL: They are making progress. No question -- under some persuasive pressure from attorneys general, there are 40 or more of us in this coalition. I've been working on it since a year and a half ago and reached that agreement where they agreed to require payment by credit card and also phone lines, land lines that could be verified.
And we've been making progress step-by-step, but I think that we need to recognize that Craigslist is by far the biggest. It dwarfs any of the other classified ad Internet services. And we have other services in our site ...
BLUMENTHAL: ... but we are taking it step-by-step.
CHETRY: Yes, but -- they tell us -- when we reached out to them -- they say they're doing far more than any other comparable business, right, to try to get a handle on this.
And we also talked to the CEO of the company last month, Jim Buckmaster, he sort of felt singled out. He said that, you know, that all of these attorneys general are going after his company, but there's a lot of others out there.
We actually checked the local paper in your home -- in the state capital actually, "The Hartford Advocate." And there were several ads that clearly looked like they were prostitution, as well.
Are you going after other publications as aggressively as the Internet classifieds on Craigslist?
BLUMENTHAL: First, we are pursuing other Internet classified ad sites. And we're not at liberty to name them now, but we are contacting them. We have them in our sites, so to speak.
We're not singling out Craigslist by any means, but, obviously, Craigslist had some ads that were absolutely raunchy to use a non- legal word. They were graphic and explicit. And so, we never threatened or pressured them overtly, but we convinced them to do the right thing and they're making progress.
We're also looking at publication, but obviously, there are First Amendment considerations there. And nothing like the explicit pornography that was on Craigslist accessible to children in a very readily and easily gainable way. So, I think that there are differences here.
Craigslist is pervasive and it shouldn't be part of their business model if they make money off pornography or prostitution. And they are cooperating.
CHETRY: All right. Well, and they go on to say just so we make this clear. Jim Buckmaster said its latest enforcement efforts have driven suspect ads away from Craigslist to other venues, where one would assume attorneys general will be redirecting their focus going forward. He's saying that they've done way more than comparable businesses to make sure these ads are legal.
BLUMENTHAL: And we will be directing our focus -- not redirecting, but directing. And Craigslist will merit the attention that we've given it and they are cooperating, and we hope they'll continue to do so.
CHETRY: Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut attorney general -- thanks for joining us this morning.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, for months and months and months, every time we talk about the economy, it's gloom, doom, bad news -- all of that. You know, the jobless claims come out on Thursdays, we get retail sales every once in a while as well.
And guess what? No bad news today. Christine Romans joins us in just a few minutes.
CHETRY: I'm sure she'll find a way to -- no, I'm teasing. We'll love to call -- we'll love to tease Christine Romans about that. But, hey, the numbers don't lie.
ROBERTS: No, they don't.
It's 36 minutes after the hour. Come right back -- we'll be with you with the new numbers.
ROBERTS: All right. Just into CNN and we're bringing them right to you. A new jobless claims numbers that came out moments ago. Also, we got the latest report on retail sales. Christine Romans is here to break down the numbers. And ...
CHETRY: She's smiling.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: May retail sales rose. Retail sales rose, that's all I want to say.
ROBERTS: The dark clouds typically hanging up in your head.
ROMANS: Back to you John and Kiran, retail sales rose. That's all I got to say.
CHETRY: That's good news.
ROMANS: It is. And as retail sales rose and they're going up -- the reason why is because people were buying cars. People bought cars and we think they're paying more for gasoline. So, that means that retail sales at the pump probably went up a little bit, not because you're buying more gas but because it's cost more. So, retail sales actually rose.
And when you look at April, the government has upgraded its expectation for April, too. It was a little bit better in April than we thought.
So, people are digging deep. They're scrimping in their savings and they're buying bargains, like cars; and they're paying for gasoline. And they're doing -- they're doing some purchases that they might have put off. So, that's a little bit of -- a little bit of a green arrow for the green shoots crowd who thinks that something is happening.
Now, when we look at jobless claims, more evidence that the mass layoffs are slowing. I want to be clear here -- a lot of people are still losing their jobs.
ROMANS: But the mass, mass layoffs are just slowing, 601,000 people filed for first time unemployment benefits in the latest week and that's less than economists have been expecting, and some economists may even saying, maybe we're going to get into the 500s, which is still a lot of people losing their job, but not it is not the real panic kind of layoffs that we were seeing in the past few months.
When you look at continuing jobless claims, it was a big jump in that. That's because further out the pipeline, people who lost their jobs four or five months ago are still continuing to get claims. So, you know, there are ...
ROBERTS: Maybe we shouldn't be jumping up and down cheering, of course, but this, maybe, is an indication that things may be beginning to turn around.
ROMANS: Oh, yes. I mean, we're looking for any kind of sign that there's a turning point, you know? And basically, you know, things have stopped going off a cliff. The ball is still rolling downward, but it's rolling more slowly, and that's all -- that's all the right direction to be going in.
If you're going in the wrong direction, this is -- this is how ...
ROBERTS: And it's better than the way that it's been -- which is a good thing. ROMANS: That's right. That is absolutely right. So ...
ROBERTS: Christine Romans, thanks so much.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
CHETRY: Well, a man with a port-a-potty business that's suffering due to the economy isn't going to take the recession sitting down. That's right. In this edition of "Money and Main St.," John Zarrella shows us that sheer will can overcome anything, even a sea of toilets.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Swinging high in the air, a clean port-a-potty, is a construction worker's best friend, especially when you work up in the nosebleed section. This is Orlando's new Events Center. It will seat close to 20,000 when it opens next year.
But right now, the only seats that John Sharp, Jr. is concerned about are the ones in the 42 portable toilets he's placed on this job site for its 400 workers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's that chemical work? Did you like it?
ZARRELLA: With construction bottoming out, Sharp's company, Comfort House, is part of the ripple effect, 95 percent of his port-a- potties were on construction sites and business isn't flowing like it used to. Profit margins are thinner.
So, he's had to lay off about 1/3 of his workers. A sea of toilets in a storage area sit unrented. But he says it's not a sign of desperation.
JOHN SHARP, JR., COMFORT HOUSE: We're not in a position where we feel the need that we have to liquidate anything because we own what we have.
ZARRELLA: And that's part of the business plan, he says, that's helped his family survive and ward off the recession and the bottom feeders who see their port-a-potties sitting and thinking he's desperate to be bought out.
SHARP: Had we spent outside our means, had we grown and leveraged everything, financed everything, we'd be in a really tough situation. Good business model, storing money, saving money when you make money, keeping things simple.
ZARRELLA: This is the fourth recession for Comfort House. John Sharp, Sr. has learned plenty from the first three.
JOHN SHARP, SR., COMFORT HOUSE: My boat is a 12-foot jon boat I used for duck hunting. And that's my yacht. And that's pretty much the extent of my extravagance. So, we kind of live by that motto -- the money that's made in the company kind of stays in the company. ZARRELLA: And as long as these toilets stay rented, Sharp says, they all smell like money.
John Zarrella, CNN, Orlando.
CHETRY: For more stories about people who are thriving in a slow economy, watch more of our "Money and Main St." tonight at 8:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.
CHETRY: Some new video now just in to CNN of a Houston, Texas, recycling warehouse fire. This is coming to us courtesy of our affiliate there KHOU.
This fire broke out about 5:30 a.m. this morning. It happened at the Amtech warehouse near a ship channel, and they're reporting right now, it may have started with a wooden pallet right outside the warehouse and quickly spread inside. They say that that black smoke could be visible for miles after that fire broke out about three hours ago.
They say that the warehouse is filled with plastic, paper, and cardboard. They talked about the roof and three walls collapsing, but say that no injuries have been reported. But again, this was a warehouse fire of a recycling warehouse in Houston, Texas.
It's 47 minutes past the hour right now.
Rob Marciano is tracking extreme weather for us. A risk of thunderstorms, yet again, today in some parts of the country.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Kiran.
Yes, across the same spots that we saw the thunderstorms really the past several days. So, we're going to have some flooding issues. It's all around this stalled stationary boundary right here. So, it's not really moving and these slow areas of low pressure kind of wave along and just instigate that thunderstorm activity. Some of it will be worse than others as far as severe weather.
Check out some of the video we got in last night from Shell City, Missouri. This twister touching down, doing some damage just to some trees and some grass. So, not so bad there, but certainly, up close and personal were these storm chasers. The winds really are blowing down some of those trees and whipping around some of that foliage and kicking up some of the dust.
You better get out of there in a hurry. That's pretty darn close. All right. Good stuff out of there.
We have 15 reports of tornadoes yesterday and eight different states. So, quite a wide span.
Severe thunderstorms are rolling across Texas, just north of Houston, that watch in effect for the next couple of hours. And we're also looking at thunderstorms across the Ohio Valley that are pushing into the northeast. Run-of-the-mill showers and thunderstorms for you right now in the Big Apple, another cool day; and on the wet side, you will see temperatures warm up right around July and August.
How does that sound, Kiran?
CHETRY: I hope so. We're talking about this back in April and you said wait until June. But, you know, who's counting? Eighty degrees this weekend, I think.
MARCIANO: The month isn't over yet.
CHETRY: Yes, you're right. We've still got half the month to go. Rob, thanks.
MARCIANO: All right, Kiran.
ROBERTS: So, what are we going to have -- two months of summer this year instead of the typical four?
CHETRY: Maybe, unfortunately.
It's 48 1/2 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: It's Thursday, so that means it's time for Dr. Sanjay Gupta to answer your medical questions. Think about it -- isn't it cool to have our chief medical correspondent right at your fingertips like this? And the questions keep on coming.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDING: They're paging me. Yes.
ROBERTS: Yes, here we go. Let's jump right in.
First question comes from Don in New Berlin. He e-mailed us this question. He says, "I'm curious to know the differences between generic and name brand drugs. What makes the price so different? Is there a difference in quality?"
GUPTA: Well, Don, you hit on it right off the top -- which is the biggest difference, really, is in price. Generics can be about 1/3 of the cost of brand name drugs. Apparently, Don, it costs a lot of money to create the branding, on how to brand name drugs. And that's part as the increase in cost.
Now, as far as the drug and how it works itself, the active ingredients are going to be the same. That's why you can have a drug that's considered a generic of a brand name drug. What might be different are the inactive ingredients. So, besides the color, the shape of the pill, those might be different.
Also some of the inactive ingredients can be different as well. That could affect, for example, how quickly it's absorbed. So, that may be different.
So, if one generic is not working for you, the good news is -- there's often lots of generics that you might be able to choose from and still get those cost savings.
ROBERTS: All right. Good information there, Doc.
Our next question from Lynn in Cumming, Georgia who asks, "Can a insurance company deny you coverage for a preexisting condition? What are my options?"
GUPTA: You know, I'll tell you what, Lynn, we get a question like this all the time. First of all, the answer is yes. In fact, about one in five people who have non-employer-based coverage are denied because of preexisting conditions. So, this is a huge problem.
And, John, as you know, it's a huge source of debate, as well when it comes to the new health care plan. How do you cover people with preexisting conditions?
There are some options, a couple of things. One is that you can essentially become a group of one. The way that a lot of big groups sort of negotiate for coverage is because of the power of the group, you can become a group of one and help your negotiating power.
Also, when it comes to COBRA, which is something that allows you keep your health insurance from your existing job. That can be very expensive, but in fact, you might be eligible for some decrease in premiums, about 65 percent reduction in premiums for some people if they've been laid off since September 1st of last year. That's something else to consider.
And also, there's high-risk pool. So, if you're part of a high- risk pool, you can negotiate coverage, as well. There's good some Web sites at the bottom there, as well, of the CoverMeFoundation.org, CoverForAll.org. Those are some Web sites where you can find more information, as well, Lynn.
ROBERTS: Doc, it's always a pleasure. It's always great to get your answers to this.
And by the way, you can keep those questions coming either CNN.com/amFIX; or you can Twitter us at amFIX, as well.
Doc, we'll do it again next week. Thanks so much.
GUPTA: Thanks, John. See you.
CHETRY: Beautiful shot this morning, coming to us from Orlando, WESH. Right now it's sunny, it is 76.
Here's your summer, John, 95 degrees later today in Orlando, but some thunderstorms.
ROBERTS: Can I tell you, though? You know, having lived in Florida for a time, the summer time in Florida is as uncomfortable as the winter time in New York.
CHETRY: Right. Yes.
ROBERTS: It's too darn hot.
CHETRY: You got to crank up the A.C. and slap the mosquitoes around, you know? You're right.
ROBERTS: You just cut the air with a knife it's so humid.
CHETRY: Well, welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
Superstition is all part of sports, of course. Eleven-year-old Gina Marie Incadela is the latest example. Her voice has been quite magical for the NBA's Orlando Magic during the playoffs. And tonight, when the Magic hosts the L.A. Lakers in game four of the NBA Finals, she'll be singing her "Star-Spangled" heart out.
Alina Cho has the story.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, good morning, guys. Good morning, everyone.
You know, Dwight Howard may be the Orlando Magic's biggest star, but this 7-year-old girl, just 4'3'' is the team's secret weapon. That's because every time she sings the national anthem, the team wins. And she's not just a lucky charm; her singing has helped her, too, in ways that may surprise you.
(GINA MARIE INCANDELA SINGING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM)
CHO (voice-over): When the Orlando Magic take on the Los Angeles Lakers at Amway Arena tonight, the team will have a good luck charm, front and center.
(GINA MARIE INCANDELA SINGING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM)
CHO: The Magic are undefeated whenever 7-year-old Gina Marie Incadela sings the national anthem at their games.
GINA MARIE INCANDELA, 7-YEAR-OLD SINGER: Every time I sing, they win. So, that's why they usually call me lucky charm. They need my singing power. CHO: So far, she's 6-0.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you've got something going good, you just got to stick with it.
ADONAL FOYLE, ORLANDO MAGIC PLAYER: She's been our Magic weapon.
CHO: What's even more remarkable is that this 4'3" girl was diagnosed with a form of autism at age 2, and unable to speak until she was 3, with the help of music.
MICHELLE INCANDELA, GINA'S MOTHER: It got to the point where music therapy really seemed to be, you know, sort of the key to Gina's door. She was very drawn to music. We always knew that. And when she started to get involved in more of the music therapy, we noticed that she started to progress in all aspects a little bit, you know, faster.
CHO: Gina's first big break was singing the national anthem at a Houston Astros game. And even the pros are impressed by her cool composure.
FOYLE: I'm nervous playing every night. I can't imagine she's going up there sing like an old pro. She's absolutely terrific.
CHO: So, what does she want to be when she grows up?
G. INCANDELA: I want to be a rock star, a ballet girl, a dancing girl, a basketball player, and I wish I was in the Magic team, then nothing can stop us.
(GINA INCANDELA SINGING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM)
CHO: And ambitious, too. You know, back when the Magic were battling it out in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics, Gina sang the national anthem before game three. Guess what, the Magic won. Game four, she was not there to sing and the team lost.
So, ever since then, Gina has been brought back to sing for every home game. In fact, they are so superstitious in Orlando, they bring back the same color guard, too. But hey, why change a thing when it -- you know, when it's working for you? So far it has been.
CHETRY: And you mentioned that her mother was saying, you know, they didn't want her to be let down if they happen to lose. They better win for her, too.
CHO: Yes, that's right. They better. Although, you know, she says she's not going to accept that. But, you know, as I said earlier, she may know something that we don't know yet.
ROBERTS: She's a lovely young lady. What a great story.
ROBERTS: Alina, thanks so much for that.
CHO: You bet.
ROBERTS: Well, continue the conversation on today's stories, go to our blog at CNN.com/amFIX.
CHETRY: And thanks so much for being with us this morning on this Thursday. We're going to be right back here tomorrow.
ROBERTS: And right now, here's "CNN NEWSROOM" with Heidi Collins.