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Definitive Victory in Iran; Iran and the War on Information; New iPhone 3GS Hits Stores Today; Accident Tax Controversy

Aired June 19, 2009 - 08:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is Friday. Happy Friday to you. It's June 19th. We're just about ready to hit the top of the hour.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We are. Coming right up to it. I'm John Roberts. Carol Costello is filling in for Kiran Chetry this morning. Good morning to you all. Here's what's on this morning's agenda. The stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes. Iran's supreme leader says the country's disputed presidential election was not rigged. The Ayatollah Khomeini spoke this morning and declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner.

And in Iran, the technology war of information. The government has been trying to stop internet communication from protestors. We'll talk to Nicholas Krzysztof about his article "Tear down this cyber wall."

And President Obama getting an earful from House Minority whip Eric Cantor on the White House response to Iran. The Virginian republican says the U.S. has "a moral obligation to condemn attacks on protestors. He went on to say, "we have no idea exactly how many have died or how many have been seriously injured since the regime has restricted journalists.

We do begin this morning with the breaking news out of Iran. Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a definitive victory in Friday's election and he denies any vote-rigging. He's also accusing western governments and the media of manipulating and undermining the process. Our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour was in the Iranian capital city on election day. She has been tracking today's developments from London.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The University of Tehran, (inaudible), Ayatollah Khameini addressed the nation and many people were waiting to see what his message would be. He hit several points that there could have been no fraud because of the massive 11 million vote difference that the officials have given for this election to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He called on all the supporters of both candidates who were in the streets in protest or rallying for another candidate to stop that, and to start taking their challenges to the election through the legal process, the Guardian Council.

He described the debates on television as having energized the people of Iran. And said that this was a positive and free thing, but criticized some of the insults that were hurled by all candidates during those debates.

He very importantly talked about outside powers, including the U.S. and Europeans, especially, Britain, trying to manipulate people's idea of how the elections went. He said they were looking for this to be a different result and they were questioning our system.

He said that this was not a fight amongst candidates from outside or inside the system. He said all the candidates were within the establishment. In other words, trying to say that this was not some kind of revolutionary anti-Islamic republic move that Moussavi or others have led.

He kept talking about how the historic voter turnout legitimized the Islamic Republic and the establishment. And that is very, very key, because all of this is about maintaining the structure of the Islamic republic according to Ayatollah Khamenei and the power structure there. But, importantly, he did call on people to stop the street protest and warned that those who continue to do that would be held responsible for the consequences.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: You know, reform-minded Iranians across the country, Christiane, we're looking at that address today by the Ayatollah, Looking for some sort of signal as to what was going to go on with the election in the future in terms of a recount, or as they want, another election.

Hearing him say that there was nothing wrong with the election. How do you expect the reformers will react to that today?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's going to be really interesting to see how this now proceeds. Because he's quite clearly come out now as the top leader of Iran from whom all authority flows saying enough, out of the streets, let's do it through the Guardian Council.

So while he did not endorse any annulment or reelection, he did say that any complaints should be dealt with and there would be recounts where necessary. He did make a great effort to reach out to all of the candidates. He talked about respecting them all. That they were all part of the revolutionary system. That they all had sterling revolutionary credentials over the last 30 years. And he did repeatedly reach out to the young people; the young generation as he called them.

Of course, those are by and large, the people who on the streets talking about respecting their vote and how their views were important, as well. But as to a recount or rather a revote, that does not look like it's on the cards. And it never has been. Nobody has endorsed that in the weeks since the election.

ROBERTS: Christiane Amanpour reporting for us from London this morning.

So who exactly is Iran's supreme leader? Here's more for you in an A.M. extra. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is Iran's spiritual leader and the most powerful in the country. He has been the supreme leader since 1989. Before that, was president of Iran from 1981 to 1989. Khamenei is elected for life. He has the final say in all important matters inside Iran. He is Iran's commander-in-chief, and appoints the Guardian Council who controls the country's elections.

Khamenei confirms that Iran's president and also -- he confirms Iran's president. Also has the power to dismiss an elected president.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And, of course, as we've been saying this morning, Iran's supreme leader declaring that last week's presidential election was on the up and up and calling for an end to those massive protests.

In the meantime, Iran's government continues its crackdown on the flow of information so Iranians living in the United States are doing their part to fill the communications gap back home.

CNN's Kara Finnstrom is live inside of a television station. It's in California. It's owned by Iranian exiles, and its content is fascinating. So, Kara, share some of this with our viewers.

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is called Channel One, and it broadcasts around the world, as well as into Iran. As you mentioned, it is run by an Iranian exile. And so, they make no bones about the fact that they are pro-democracy and some of their programming here reflects that.

You can see some of what's on the air here right now on these monitors behind me. They tell us that when they are able to broadcast into Iran, they reach about 10 million viewers there. But they say during the last six months, they had their signals jammed twice. They've actually had to change frequencies to stay on the air right now. They're actually broadcasting live on the Internet as well 24/7, trying to get their message out there.

Arwash (ph) here has been bringing in some of the images. And we appreciate you joining us this morning.

If you can show us, we should say -- you mentioned before we do this, actually, obviously, a lot of the images have been limited coming out of Iran. You're getting some images from people on the ground that know about your TV station, as well as people that you have hired that are in Iran right now. Show us one of the last images you got in if you would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. We got this about an hour and 30 minutes ago. It's pretty new, but it was broadcasted in Rash, Iran. It's that north part of Iran. The quality is not that good, because, they don't let you use the camera, but they just use their cell phones or the handy-cams. So, as you can see, this is about a girl being hit by some policemen. And it's about -- it makes the other people just come out and probably is against it.

FINNSTROM: All right. We appreciate you sharing that with us. I want to let you get back to work. We also want to take you in and give you a little bit of a look at the station. If you take a peek inside, this is one of the studios where they are getting ready to do some live broadcasting. Just a short while from now. And if we bring you back this way, Roxanne here has been going through a lot of the e-mails that had been coming in to the station. And you say you've been receiving quite a few of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've had about 1,400 since last night. And there has been a lot of reports from inside Iran just over the past few hours.

FINNSTROM: The one that you're looking at now, can you give us a feel for the gist of it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure. It's a medical student. And she's saying, "Mr. Umayon (ph), I'd like to -- I cannot sit quietly in silence about this. She's telling us there were a lot of injured that were brought to the hospital that were gunshot wounds. There were some that were dead. And the bodies were removed without being identified.

They weren't -- as students and as doctors, they weren't allowed to get a lot of information, personal information, as to the identities of the injured. So she's very concerned that they are being treated this way in the hospital.

FINNSTROM: Thank you.

Obviously, all of this information as far as these e-mails, as well as the video coming has not been vetted or has not been verified by CNN. And it is coming in here.

They are just sharing with us what they're hearing as well as sharing with the Iranian community here around the country and around the world what's coming in.

Back to you.

COSTELLO: Understood. Kara Finnstrom reporting live from California. Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: The number two Republican in the House sending a verbal barrage to the president's way. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor criticizing the administration for its lack of response to the crackdown on protestors in Iran.

Cantor says the president's contention that there's a vigorous debate going on is absurd. The White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says, "The president has it right."


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the president has spoken to in many ways the causes and concerns of many that are marching in Iran by demonstrating one that he shares their concern and the international concern about the way the election was connected. Secondly, he believes that there is a universal principle of demonstrating without the fear of harm. So I think he has expressed on both of those -- in both of those areas concern for the way the election was conducted and concern to ensure that demonstrators can peaceably carry out their demonstrations.


ROBERTS: Well, Congressman Cantor claims the U.S. has quote , "moral" responsibility to condemn the attacks on protestors.

And you at home are weighing in on President Obama's response to the election unrest in Iran. Here's a sample of some of the calls that we're getting on our A.M. Fix hotline.


JOE, CALLER (via telephone): Reagan stood up for (INAUDIBLE) and the Polish students when they demanded the right to vote and freedom. Barack Obama, had it been president back then, they would still be living behind the iron curtain.

DWIGHT, CALLER (via telephone): One side says the president is doing too much; the other side says the president is doing too little. So no one is happy. I would suggest maybe he struck the right balance.

MARGARET, CALLER (via telephone): Let's stick to our principles over here and stay out of the other country's business.

ROB, CALLER (via telephone): The United States needs to take care of the United States. Quit worrying about these other countries. That's what's wrong with our country right now.

BOB, CALLER (via telephone): I don't think we should get involved in Iranian politics.


Keep those comments coming. We'll get them on the air. Go to

You can send it via e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook, or call us on our show hotline at 1-877-my-amfix.

COSTELLO: Yes. It's interesting. The debate over, you know, what President Obama should say. Republicans say, you know, "he should come out more strongly on the side of the protestors. But after that, what do Republicans want him to do? I mean, does the United States actively help the protestors? So there's a lot of strong talk, but what are Republicans saying that we should do after that?

ROBERTS: Yes. Well, I guess, there's a - you know, either you give them moral support, you give them active support. The debate ranges on.

COSTELLO: Maybe military support -- no. I mean, what? You're going to do a debate. I'm sure.

ROBERTS: Yes, we'll be asking about that question many times in the next few days.

Ten minutes now after the hour.

Nick Christoff, the "New York Times" is going to be joining us coming up, to talk about the cyber war in terms of the demonstrator's there in Iran and trying to get their message out to the rest of the world.

Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

The crackdown on communication continues inside Iran as the country's supreme leader denies rigging last week's disputed election. And President Ahmadinejad says the country is now one family again. But the pictures seeping out on the Web tell a dramatically different story.

Joining us now is "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof. His article, "Tear Down This Cyber Wall" focuses on Iran and the technology war of information.

So many people are saying that this could be the very first Internet revolution. How much of a part do you think the Internet is playing in what's going on inside Iran versus what we're learning about what's going on?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": I wouldn't call it an Internet revolution. I mean, fundamentally, people are protesting because they're upset about the government, and that's been happening for hundreds and hundreds of years.

But I do think that the Internet does facilitate it in a couple of ways. It helps people organize. It helps people spread the word about what's going on and spread that outrage. Secondarily, I think that it provides the outside world a way to monitor what's going on and raises the cost of any kind of a brutal crackdown.

ROBERTS: We certainly -- we are certainly getting a torrent of information coming in. This idea of delaying a crackdown. Do you think that that's inevitably where this might be headed?

KRISTOF: Inevitable is a strong word. But I'm -- if I had to bet, I would bet that this would end in a bad way. I think Khamenei's speech today was a bad sign that they are aiming toward a crackdown. That they're not going to be as tolerating.

And I think the Basij, the militia, I think that they are going to protest during the day. It's a sign that they are also pushing to crack heads. And at the end of the day, if the government sends in the Revolutionary Guard with machine guns, then there are simply death, then it will be over.

ROBERTS: So then, what are part would the Internet play if that were to happen. You've got everybody there with a cell phone. Well, not everybody. We have so many people with cell phone cameras. Can get the word out using even some of these sort of, you know, below the radar screen Web sites, I want to ask you about in just a second here.

But if they had the ability to get that information out, what happens then?

KRISTOF: Well, I mean, it raises the cost of firing on civilians. But, ultimately, it may be a cost that the Iranian government is willing to pay to end this. And they don't want videos to get out showing a lot of kids getting shot. I'm afraid that at this point they may be willing to accept that.

ROBERTS: Now in terms of getting the information out. This was really fascinating about your column the other day. You talk about -- you know, the government is trying to shutdown a lot of these Web sites, access to information. And you talk about this interesting intersection between reformers in Iran and supporters of China's Falun Gong.

KRISTOF: That's right. It's a cat and mouse game. So the Iranian government is trying to block some key Web sites like Twitter, for example. So people can't send in information.

Then to evade that, Iranians are using proxy software, which is like a pool bank site, it goes to another site and then to the destination. And the best proxy software that they're using is called FreeGate. And it comes out. It was developed against China by the Falun Gong religious group to evade Chinese censorship.

And so you have this amazing, sort of tribute to this globalize world where Iranian protestors are using the product of Chinese-American engineers in the u.s. to evade Chinese censorship.

ROBERTS: Interesting. And it is a program that you can put it on a zip drive, you plug it into the computer, it uploads onto the computer, gets you these rotating Internet Protocol addresses and you pull it out at the end, and it's like nothing else threatening.


KRISTOF: And it eliminates any sign that it was ever used on that computer. I mean, it's really a dissident tool kit.


Do you see just getting back to what's going on on the streets, do you see that there is a difference between what young people in Iran want and what supporters of Moussavi want?

You know, he is still an establishment candidate. He's a member of the system. He is a conservative. He is a reformer. But he's not looking for wholesale revolution here. So, is there a difference on how might that play out in the next few days?

KRISTOF: I mean, I've just been struck that young Iranians and 70 percent of the population was born after the revolution 30 years ago. I mean, they are an entirely different world. And I've never been to a more pro-American country in terms of the population than Iran.

You just go -- and I remember my last time spent traveling all around the country, talking to everybody, never encountered a single anti- American comment, except for one in Isfahan. And that didn't come from an Iranian. That came from some young Europeans.

ROBERTS: Interesting.

Nick Kristof, it's good to see you this morning. Thanks for dropping by.

KRISTOF: I'm delighted.

ROBERTS: We really appreciate it.

All right.


COSTELLO: Fascinating.

You know, with all of the events going on inside Iran, Google is making it easy for you to see the events unfold in Realtime around the world. Now you can translate messages from Farsi, Iran's most commonly spoken language, into English and vice versa. So it will be easier to understand those messages that come in Farsi.

We're talking about the iPhone, too, this morning. Since Father's Day is coming. And believe it or not, some people have been waiting in line for hours to get the new iPhone.


It's got a compass.

We'll tell you more.

It's 17 minutes past the hour.



CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": The animal rights group PETA is criticizing President Obama after seeing footage of Obama killing a fly. PETA is mad now -- yes, yes. Meanwhile, today, a fly buzzing around Joe Biden took its own life. It did. Couldn't handle it.


COSTELLO: You know, you make fun of PETA standing up for the fly. But I have one of those humane fly swatters where it just sucks up the bug in a vacuum.

ROBERTS: Oh, the bug -- the bug vacuum.

COSTELLO: Yes, the bug vacuum. It sucks up the bug and then you cap it, and you can leave the bug into the wild without killing it.


ROBERTS: There it is.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And it comes right back the next time you open the door.

ROBERTS: There you go.

ELAM: That's still too close to the spider. That's still too close. I don't like that. That's way too close right there. I'm not getting that.

ROBERTS: Does the bug vacuum actually vacuum up a spider or only flying things?

COSTELLO: Yes -- no, well, the fly has to land in order for you to - because you can't vacuum it from the air.


ELAM: Which means the fly's almost on its way out anyway. He's that slow.

COSTELLO: Exactly.

ELAM: So -- yes.

ROBERTS: You know, I wonder if those bug vacuums have the PETA seal of approval. What do you think?

COSTELLO: I don't know. I should look.

I'm going to go home and look.


ELAM: And do they have a problem with the Venus flytrap then?

COSTELLO: The plant flower -- the plant?

ELAM: Yes.

COSTELLO: I should get one of those too.

ROBERTS: It's only trying to survive. COSTELLO: Exactly you heartless people.

ELAM: So, I have a question for you. Switching gears completely. Would you be able to live without your Internet?


ELAM: Would you be able to live without your phone?


ELAM: You could?

ROBERTS: For an afternoon. Maybe a couple of hours.

ELAM: Well, apparently, there's a lot of people who don't think they can. For a couple of hours? Yes, I agree with that.

Take a look at these live shots of happy people hanging out outside of an Apple store. That's the one right across town from here, I believe, getting ready -- yes, I'm right -- getting ready to get their new iPhone 3G S because, as Carol said, they couldn't wait to get it on the Internet. But it's now available as of 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time. To each time zone, at 7:00 a.m., you'll be able to get your iPhone 3G.

And here's the thing. Let's break down a little bit about what you can get with this new phone. Just to give you an idea. There's two things that are happening today. You've got the software and you've got the iPhone 3G.

Let's take a look at the 3G first. It's 50 percent faster than the old version. There's more memory on there. There's better battery life, which for those of us who are iPhone users, that's really cool. And also, now you can do some video recording and you can edit right there on your phone and then upload it straight to YouTube from your phone as well. There's also a better camera with auto focus...

COSTELLO: Does it have a flash?

ELAM: No, it does not have a flash. Flash-less still at this point.

Now, if you were to move from that to take a look at the operating system 3.0. This is something that anyone who has an old iPhone can go ahead and get for free. And if you have an iTouch, you can upgrade for 10 bucks. So it's not too bad there.

It's got a wider keyboard, if you move it into landscape, which is a big problem for a lot of men who have bigger fingers and trying to type on the iPhone was a problem. Not so much of a problem for me.

Copy, cut and paste also is something a lot of people wanted. And MMS, you may not recognize that, but you know that's functional. A lot of cell phones, where you can send video and photos without using e-mail, that's what that is. That's going to be available later this summer, even though other countries are going to get earlier. For some reason, AT&T's not giving that to us until later on. And then expanded search functions throughout the whole phone. If you want to look up just John, it will bring up all the Johnsons in your phone. It will bring up John. It will bring up maybe an e-mail that you got when, you know, someone sent you anything related to that, it would be able to bring that up to your phone. So a lot better capabilities. So a lot of people looking for there.

COSTELLO: You forgot the compass.

ELAM: The compass. I mean, what, because I'm bare grills like -- anyway.

COSTELLO: It is a compass.

ELAM: It does have a compass on it. Yes, that's very exciting. The other thing, it has a new coating so that all these fingertip prints and things that you see here...

ROBERTS: Smudge-less.

ELAM: will be less. This is my normal iPhone. And it's smudgy and gets a lot of TV make-up on it.

ROBERTS: You know, if it had a secret decoder ring along with the compass, I'd be in line for one right now, but...

ELAM: Yes, and if it made you invisible, then I'd be a little more excited.

ROBERTS: All right.

ELAM: It's still cool. A lot of people out there very excited standing in line to get it.

ROBERTS: Stephanie, thanks so much.

ELAM: Sure.

ROBERTS: So things are tough all around, right, because of the economy. But how tough are they? Imagine getting into a car accident and then a couple of weeks later, you get a bill for the police showing up and the ambulance showing up. Wow. What's it coming to? We'll find out, coming up next.

Twenty-four minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Well, welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We've all had -- well, most of us, I can't say everybody. But most of us have had a fender-bender at one time or another. For me, it was Monday.

COSTELLO: Was it your fault?


COSTELLO: Oh, wow.

ROBERTS: Maybe it's your fault, maybe it's the other driver to blame. But imagine if a couple of weeks later, you get a bill for police and emergency services rendered.

COSTELLO: If that's actually happening, it's called an accident tax. Our personal finance editor Gerri Willis -- I can't believe this is happening, Gerri.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: I know. It's really, really crazy. And people are outraged. You got to hear this one story. This one example we want to show you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt like I was robbed. I felt like someone picked my pocket.

WILLIS (voice over): Two years ago, Jay Middleton was rear-ended by his daughter Jillian, who was following him home in her car. But it's what happened after the fender-bender that still infuriates him.

JAY MIDDLETON, BILLED FOR ACCIDENT: Six weeks later I get a bill from an accident. I thought it was a joke.

WILLIS: But the local police department in Pennsylvania was serious. The Middletons got a bill in the mail for nearly $300. The fee, an accident tax, conceived by a company that acts as a safety services billing department for police and fire departments. The tax targets out-of-town insured drivers.

JILLIAN MIDDLETON, BILLED FOR ACCIDENT: The police officer was only there for five minutes and to fill out one piece of paper was a little excessive, I thought.

WILLIS: Excessive, maybe, but it's definitely widespread. At least 25 states have municipalities with the so-called crash tax in place, according to the Property Insurance Association of America. Eight states have passed laws banning the fees. The latest, Florida, where State Senator Mike Bennett sponsored the legislation.

MIKE BENNETT, FLORIDA STATE SENATOR: We really found some kind of outrageous examples of people who were being charged what we ended up calling the crash tax for services we felt that their property taxes should already be paying for.

WILLIS: But in Jackson County, Missouri, it's still legal. And fire chief Steven Westermann defends it.

CHIEF STEVEN WESTERMANN, CENTRAL JACKSON COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION: In these hard economic times, for any fire department, any alternative funding or any other options that are available are being looked at.

WILLIS: Jay Middleton says the crash tax could be coming to a town near you.

MIDDLETON: Even though your town has one of these ordinances and you may be exempt from it, the town next to you where you don't live, if they adopt one, you're going to pay.


WILLIS: All right. So the Middletons actually did not pay that bill. Why? Well, because Pennsylvania changed the law and made it illegal to charge accident taxes. And that, of course, too, is now happening all over the country. Florida this week outlawed it.

COSTELLO: Well, what do you pay your city taxes for?

WILLIS: City taxes? It's like --

COSTELLO: Now that would make me mad.

ROBERTS: Well, just a little survey, because the topic is we've all had a fender-bender at one time or another, and I said, no, we can't say that because maybe not everybody has, but it turns out --

COSTELLO: Now this was years ago that my insurance company canceled because I had three or four accidents in a row. But that was a long time ago.

WILLIS: Three or four?


ROBERTS: And for me it was Monday, and for Gerri it was...

WILLIS: Sunday, ran into my husband. Yes.


WILLIS: Yes, he wasn't happy.

COSTELLO: You mean his body? Like...

WILLIS: No, no, no, no, no. His car. His car.

ROBERTS: How did you do that?

WILLIS: Well, you know, you've got to work at it, John. It takes a lot of practice. Eventually, you can actually run into your husband's car.

COSTELLO: I actually ran over my husband's foot once with my car.

That's not funny. I'm not laughing at that.

WILLIS: Yes, it's not. But the reality here is that...

ROBERTS: I'm thinking of bolting here.

WILLIS: Are you afraid?

ROBERTS: You keep running over all of these men.


WILLIS: Reality here though is that a lot of states are making this illegal. And we did talk, of course, as you saw to some law enforcement who likes to get this money in the front door. They say, hey, our costs are going up, the money coming in the front door is going down. We have to make it up somehow and they typically charge this to people who do not live in city limits.


WILLIS: So you could be visiting from out of town or you could be, you know, just driving to the mall across county and get stung from this one.

ROBERTS: I don't know about you but I want to get the story from her husband and how it turns out.

WILLIS: There's no other side to that story. It's a one-sided story.

ROBERTS: Thanks so much, Gerri.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

COSTELLO: It's 31 minutes past the hour.

Checking our top stories now. Iran's supreme leader says his nation's election was not rigged and he's warning protestors to stay off the streets. He spoke to tens of thousands of Iranians at a prayer session just a few hours ago with the crowd chanting death to the United States. He praised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a hard- working leader and blames foreign media for misrepresenting the loyalties of Iran's political parties.

ROBERTS: The accused mini Madoff, billionaire Allen Stanford has surrendered to the FBI to face fraud charges. He is accused of running a $9.2 billion ponzi scheme with three of his investment firms. During a recent interview, Stanford complained about flying commercial. Now that his six private jets have been seized. He told ABC, "they make you take your shoes off and everything. It's terrible."

COSTELLO: How can I go on after that?

COSTELLO: OK. And the National Hurricane Center is now tracking the first tropical depression of the Pacific hurricane season. Forecasters say it's heading slowly toward Mexico. It could turn into a tropical storm by tonight when it reaches the Mexican coast. We'll keep you posted.

Also a developing story this morning, the U.S. military watching North Korea. Right now the Pentagon says it's tracking a ship from the rogue nation that may be carrying weapons. And Defense Secretary Robert Gates responding to a report that North Korea is planning to launch a long-range missile towards Hawaii.


ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We do have some concerns, if they were to launch a missile to the west in the direction of Hawaii. I've directed the deployment again of missiles to Hawaii and the SBX radar has deployed away from Hawaii to provide support. Based on my visit to Ft. Greeley, the ground based interceptors are clearly in a position to take action.


COSTELLO: Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr will join us live with more on this morning's development. In fact, she's joining us right now. Good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Carol. You know, it's not just the missile situation that the U.S. is watching. The U.S. Navy now shadowing a North Korean cargo ship, came out of North Korea on Wednesday. That ship now moving along the coast of China to the south. The U.S. Navy is shadowing it, aircrafts flying overhead. The navy believes it is possible the Kung Nam(ph), the name of the ship is carrying elicit cargo under U.N. security council resolution, North Korea cannot send out any weapons, missile, nuclear technology, none of it.

And the U.N. security council resolution calls for militaries around the world to be able to track these ships and board them with North Korea's permission. The next step would be, of course, for the U.S. Navy to call the ship on the radio and say it wants to board it. North Korea absolutely expected to say no.

The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff spoke just yesterday about what would happen next.


ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: But the United Nations security council relation does not include an option for a post boarding or a non-compliant boarding with respect to that. And if we get to that point with a vessel that we suspect has material, which is counter to unauthorized in accordance to the U.N.C.R., that's a report that goes back to the United Nations, as well.


STARR: So the bottom line here, Admiral Mullen putting everyone on notice. The U.S. Navy will not do this at the point of a gun. They will ask for permission to board the ship, North Korea likely to say no. It all goes back into diplomatic channels. But remember, North Korea says any attempt to board one of its ships, it would consider as an act of war. And all the while, watching those missile sites where the North Koreans are said to be making preparations for more test launches. Carol?

COSTELLO: Barbara Starr, reporting live from the Pentagon this morning. Thanks.

ROBERTS: So you know, there's a lot of interesting books out there on the market. But is there one that's got a more interesting title than this? "I Hate People."

COSTELLO: It's a really interesting book. We're going to be talking to the author after this break. And he's kind of going down the rundown of the people you really hate at work and the reason you should hate them and the ways you can combat the hatred and be more effective in the workplace. It's an interesting topic.

ROBERTS: The minuteman only ones a minute of your time, and another minutes. And they just want one more minuet. The stop sign pretending to be wise and pragmatic, he loves to pour cold water on your ambition.

COSTELLO: Yes, the switchblade is another one, the ones that stab you in the back and smile to your face.

ROBERTS: Oh, yes. You should hear those everywhere. All right. Well, we'll be finding out just how much you hate people and what to do about it, coming up. It's 36 minutes after the hour.



COSTELLO: Now, there is probably someone, maybe several people who drive you absolutely bonkers at work. Gossip, liars, know-it-alls. Every office except of course, this one, ask them. So how do you deal with the worst of the worst at work? Joining me with some advice is the co-author of "I Hate People," Marc Hershon. Welcome.


COSTELLO: So we were intrigued by your title "I Hate People."


COSTELLO: And why did you title it this way?

HERSHON: Well, for me, it's become a bit of personal mantra. I've heard a lot of people mutter under their breath professionally in retail and in business. And it's not really the people that we hate so much as it is their behavior. But there's something sort of viscerally satisfying to be able to say I hate people when they drive you crazy.

COSTELLO: Exactly. So instead of saying, instead of trying to be nice all the time about your feelings towards these awful people at work, it's sometimes best just to say, I hate them and I have to deal with the hatred in a constructive way to make myself, you know, go forward at work.

HERSHON: Absolutely. The book is how to sort of diffuse these situations that occur with people based on their behavior. COSTELLO: OK. So -

HERSHON: The types that we have in the office, like the switchblade, I heard you talking about.

COSTELLO: Well, let's go down the list because we have them all. OK.

HERSHON: Sure, absolutely.

COSTELLO: Number one, you talk about the stop sign. You can't mess up our graphics. See I'm being honest with you.

HERSHON: And I don't hate you as a result.

COSTELLO: Fantastic.

HERSHON: It works out great.

COSTELLO: OK. So what is a stop sign sort of personality?

HERSHON: Well, a stop sign is sort of the classic devil's advocate, they are the person that says no, we can't do this. The company has never done this, you can't do this, your project won't work. We don't have the resources. And -

COSTELLO: So everything new you want to do this person tries to stop you. So how do you combat this?

HERSHON: Well, there are different ways to handle it. The stop sign -- one thing, don't invite them into any meetings early on in the process. Stop signs are actually necessary further on when, really, you know, it really comes to say how can we really get this project finished but early on when the thinking has to stay very creative and very innovative, you don't want those stop signs to stop you from doing what you need to do.

COSTELLO: So the best way to deal with a stop sign is ask them what their solution is.

HERSHON: That's a great way to do it.

COSTELLO: And force them to come up with a solution and then you can kind of slip in your own idea and get -

HERSHON: Absolutely. And often times it'll help them be more creative if they're invited into the process a little bit more.

COSTELLO: OK. Let's move on to the smiley face.

HERSHON: Ah, the smiley face.

COSTELLO: I know so many of these kinds of people.

HERSHON: Yes, these are the people that - I mean, they're always smiling, always. And it's great to smile. But when they smile all the time, you're pretty sure they're covering something up. Often times it's bad news or something they know they that they don't want you to know. And they're really having -

COSTELLO: So they've heard from the boss's secretary that you're going to be fired if they come up and smile at you.

HERSHON: Hey, want some donuts.

COSTELLO: Do you just ignore those people?

HERSHON: No, it's not good to ignore them. Because if you turn your back on them, they actually can turn into some of the other types. The best way to deal with them is to find out what they're smiling. Say, what are you always so happy about?

COSTELLO: Put their feet to the fire.


COSTELLO: The next type, the sheeple.

HERSHON: Now the sheeple probably represents 80 to 90 percent of the corporate workforce. And those are the people that they are sort of like herd animals, they keep moving in one direction until something steers in the other way. They only perform assigned work, tasks. They love meetings. They love meetings because the sheeples when they're in a meeting they feel like they're actually doing something. And if they can just herd from meeting to meeting to meeting, their day is complete and feel like they put in a full day.

COSTELLO: Some people are forced to be kind of a sheeple. So how do you relate get yourself out of the mix without making the boss mad that you're not attending his meeting.

HERSHON: Well, one thing is to put the boss' feet to the fire and say, I've got this project you wanted me to do, but this is the nth meeting I've had to do today, which would you prefer me do? Finish the project or go to the meeting or when the boss is the one making the decision. All of a sudden you'll find yourself with a lot more time to finish those projects.

COSTELLO: OK. I want to get quickly to the switchblade because everybody has known somebody like this. And this is the person that stabs you in the back and smiles to your face.

HERSHON: Oh, yes.

COSTELLO: So how do you deal with them? How do you prevent that from happening?

HERSHON: Well, the other thing they like to do is take credit for your ideas. So whenever you're interacting with a switchblade, it's great to keep a record of it. Make sure you copy other people on the project in e-mails. Try to always have somebody in the meeting when you're meeting with a switchblade. Someone who knows the switchblade. So if they do try to pull something like that, you can say, hold on a second, I've got some backup here and bring in your associate who can back your play. COSTELLO: Written records, I'm going to start right now. Of course, there are no switchblades, there really aren't at CNN. I do work with a bunch of nice people. I'm very lucky. I'm serious. Marc, thank you so much for stopping by. Great advice especially in this time when people really want to keep their jobs.

HERSHON: Thank you.

COSTELLO: It's 43 minutes past the hour.



ROBERTS: Foggy, old New York town this morning where it's 63 degrees, later on, today, it's going to be mostly cloudy and 78. But we are all crossing our fingers that we won't have the same torrential rain that we had yesterday, which rained the first round play in the U.S. Open at Bethpage out there in Long Island.

COSTELLO: I think it's raining over one half of the country. This was in the "Washington Post" this morning. It's been raining so much in the Baltimore-Washington area, please don't come again another day. This is a plea, Rob Marciano, a plea.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, they say April, May, and June showers bring July flowers.

COSTELLO: Oh, yes.

MARCIANO: Yes, that's what they say, right?


MARCIANO: It's been wet. You guys have seen, I'm not sure I haven't checked Baltimore and D.C. but New York seemed three times the amount of rain they typically would see in June. So, yes, you're not imagining it.

ROBERTS: It's just been crazy here.

MARCIANO: It has been. But summer right around the corner, just a couple of days away. We'll head that down in a sec. We got red on the map. That means severe weather across the mid west and the Great Lakes again today. And we're seeing it east of Chicago, so you're getting out a little bit. But more thunderstorms will probably fire up in your direction. Toledo, Detroit, south of Columbus, that's where most of the action is right now. And that will be heading to the New York area, but probably not until tomorrow.

In the meantime, today, most of your rain is Eastern New England and we are dry for the most parts and they are out back on the course at Bethpage after a torrential downpour yesterday. At Central Park saw 2.3, JFK 2.25, Bridgeport, Connecticut, over 2, as well, and central and eastern Long Island upwards of two inches to boot. So record rainfalls for parts of New York, but have no fear summer is coming. 1:45 in the morning on Sunday, that would be 10:45 at night on Saturday, that's when summer arrives this weekend. Summer-like in Memphis, 98. I mean, would you rather have 98 than 78, Carol? Come on.

COSTELLO: All right. I'll stop complaining. I'm always whining.

MARCIANO: Nice to see you guys. Have a good weekend.

ROBERTS: How about 82? That's a nice temperature, 82 and sunny.

COSTELLO: With no humidity?


COSTELLO: I'll take it.

MARCIANO: West coast. West coast.

COSTELLO: Hey, coming up, we're going to be talking about feminism and one of the words feminism has become obsolete. It's our Friday segment, just saying, and we're examining that issue and we've asked for your comments this morning on And we're getting a lot of interesting ones. We'll share some and talk about whether feminism has become obsolete in 2009.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to that. 48 1/2 minutes after the hour.


SUSAN SARANDON: When I first met Rose, I was just so taken by her heart. She's the story of the power of forgiveness. My hero fights for the survival and resettlements of refugees.

ROSE: I had seven children with me and my husband. I never, never thought the genocide would happen in Congo. They killed all the men, they would put us in prison. They were so angry for god. One day I found out I was pregnant, I said god, accept my life, forgive me, I forgive those enemies. I named my twins after the commanders that tried to kill us that day is the day I survived.

SARANDON; She has dedicated her whole life to saving these refugees that are falling through the cracks with Mapendo.

ROSE: Mapendo International is my hoe. It's my answer for my prayer.

SARANDON: What Rose has done is show this great capacity to move on and to forgive and to embrace life.



ROBERTS: It's coming up on seven minutes now to the top of the hour. Of course, every Friday, we have Carol Costello, just saying, to tackle the controversial topics. She's usually in Washington. But today we're fortunate enough to have her right here on the set. What do you think of that this morning.

COSTELLO: You are lucky, aren't you?

ROBERTS: We are so lucky.

COSTELLO: Definitely. So I'm just saying this morning, some say Sarah Palin showed her feminist side by blasting David Letterman. Others say she looked like a whining, powerless woman. So here's the question this morning, can a conservative pro-life woman be feminist? And if not, why not? Is feminism exclusively liberal? Does the term even apply? Or should it be stricken from the language?


COSTELLO (voice-over): It was a tasteless joke about a young girl, one that enraged her mother, Sarah Palin.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST "THE LATE NIGHT SHOW": During the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.

COSTELLO: Letterman finally said I'm sorry, prompting Palin to accept his apology on behalf of young women. End of story, right? Wrong. While some feminist groups like N.O.W. stood behind Palin, other women were less charitable. The "Daily Beast's" Tina Brown writing, "someone should pluck the combustible Alaskan away from whatever rancid talk show she's headed for and make her watch what real female power looks like," namely, Hillary Clinton. Really? Is that the only kind of female power? Naomi Wolf who writes about feminism doesn't think so. In "Harper's Bazaar," she calls Angelina Jolie the embodiment of female power in liberation. And then there's this.

JESICA VALENTI, FEMINISTING.COM: I think every woman defines feminism in one way or another. I think that women through the work that they do, through their home lives, through their political beliefs, through their social activism are doing feminist work every day and embody feminism every day.

COSTELLO: But if every woman has their own definition of what feminism is, what's the point of even using the word? Just saying. Has the word feminism become obsolete?

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. The original feminism that I park took of in the late '60s has been perverted.

COSTELLO: Mary Matalin says feminism used to be about the freedom to choose the life you wanted. Now it's an exclusive club, closed off to women like Sarah Palin.

MATALIN: No conservative women would choose to call herself a feminist as it's described by liberals today.

COSTELLO: So if the word is weighed down by such political baggage, why care about being a feminist anymore?

VALENTI: The truth is, I think no matter what word we use, if it meant women's rights, it would end up being a bad word. It would end up being disparaged, so I think we've got to stick with what we've got.


COSTELLO: That's right because a lot of people say you know, feminism has become the f-word. It has such negative connotation, maybe we should get rid of it.

One more thing to think about, though, Jessica also says feminism does welcome all women and she says and I'm quoting now. "I think that a woman who is personally pro-life can be a feminist. I think if a woman is actively fighting against legislation that allows for abortion and allows for access to birth control, then no, I don't think she can be a feminist." Of course, I've been asking viewers all morning to send comments about what they think. Is feminism obsolete? And we've been getting a lot of your messages on our blog and we'll read some of your comments in exactly two minutes.



COSTELLO: Have you been reading these blog comments? They're quite interesting.

ROBERTS: Some of them are very interesting, very thoughtful.

COSTELLO: Yes, I love them. So we're asking the question this morning, has feminism become obsolete? Should women's rights, should it continue to be pushed? Or should we try to find another word for it? So I want to read a few of our comments from our blog.

This one from Nat. She writes feminism is obsolete. The issue of women's rights should continually be pushed, but not by the people who call themselves feminists. The feminist movement today is highly politicized and nearly militant. Aisha has this to say feminism is about equal rights, so unless I've missed something and women all of a sudden are getting paid the same amount of money as men and are no longer viewed as primarily sexual objects. I'd say that feminism is still a very relevant issue.

A couple more from you. This one from Stephanie. She says feminism today is women having their lives the way they want. The goal of feminism, I would hope, is not to rip each other apart for our differences, but to celebrate what we share and keep fighting for the equality that we have yet to achieve.

One more from Gwyneth. She says feminism will not be obsolete until there's a woman president. There are 50 percent women Supreme Court justices, U.S. senators, and representatives and abortion is totally legal. So there you have it.

ROBERTS: Well, some good points made this morning.

COSTELLO: Yes, and keep them coming, because I'm going to join in the conversation. So, ROBERTS: That's right. You can continue the conversation on today's stories. You can either go to our blog. You can get us on twitter or you can also get us on Facebook. And it's been so much fun being here with you this morning, Carol. Thanks for dropping by.

COSTELLO: It has been a great morning. And thank you for joining us once again. Right now, here's CNN NEWSROOM with Betty Nguyen.