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Nine Dead in Indonesia Hotel Bombings; Taking Down Terrorists; Obama Struggling to Get Support on Health Care Reform; Zac the Teen Sailor; Several Banks Making Money Again; Is It Time to Do Away With Affirmative Action?; Many Switching Banks Due to Rising Fees

Aired July 17, 2009 - 08:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. Happy Friday to you. It's July 17th, I'm Carol Costello in for Kiran this morning.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, I'm John Roberts. Here's what's on this morning's agenda. The stories that we'll be breaking down for you over the next fifteen minutes. First to breaking news.

Two luxury hotels in Indonesia bombed. At least nine people reported dead. More than 50 injured, including three Americans. Though that number may increase.

A live report straight from the scene coming up in just a moment.

COSTELLO: With all the talk this week of plans to kill al Qaeda being kept secret, our Barbara Starr has new information from the Pentagon on the programs already in place to take the terrorists down.

ROBERTS: And this morning, rising opposition to President Obama's plan for health care reform from some in his own party. In a moment, we'll talk with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat who is still not sold on the plan. He met with the president yesterday at the White House. So was the president able to change his mind?

But we begin with breaking news out of Jakarta, Indonesia. A pair of bomb blast turning two of the city's finest hotel into a scene of bloody chaos. The attacks at the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton Hotels coming just minutes apart. Nine people killed, 50 injured, including three Americans. Jakarta police say some of the bombers were actually staying at the Marriot. A terror group with links to al Qaeda is suspected. We're monitoring developments from Indonesia this morning.

CNN's Dan Rivers live from the Indonesia capital of Jakarta.

Dan, bring us up to date.

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, we've just had a press conference from the police here who have given us a little more detail. They think that four suspects may have been involved with this twin bombing. They say they were suicide attacks. There were four unidentified bodies. They think that the potential terrorists were checked into this hotel, the Marriott Hotel behind me, that they used the room on the 18th floor as the sort of command and control center. And in that room, an undetonated bomb was found. Two other explosions went off. One in the lobby, this sort of lounge area of the Marriott, and one in the Ritz-Carlton, which is just a few meters across the road.

So far, the death toll they are giving us here is eight dead, including one foreigner. They're saying that that foreign is a New Zealand man, and we have a fairly large number of injured casualties. More than 50, as you say, including U.S. citizens, people from Italy, South Korea, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands, India, Australia and U.K. So a fairly wide number of foreign casualties.

You may remember that Indonesia's had a lot of problems in the past with Islamic extremists targeting hotels. Specifically, the Marriott has been hit once before in 2003. So they're no strangers to this kind of outrage in Jakarta.

COSTELLO: And, Dan, you said there were four suspects, and then you said bodies. Four suspects police believe are dead. Are there more still alive out there?

RIVERS: No. I mean, that's what they are giving us the impression that the four terrorists that they think were involved, we believe are among the dead, but we're trying to get that confirmed. But they certainly are saying that they think that this was a suicide bomb attack. There were reports that they had found a decapitated corpse in the Marriott here, which I think was one of the suicide bombers.

So, we're just waiting to get confirmation whether the eight dead victims of this attack include four terrorists or not. We're trying to get confirmation of that.

Of course, this still as the police are really going through forensically, meticulously trying to get as many clues as they can. They also said the explosives used, they think, were of a similar sort to a bunch of explosives found in West Java a couple of weeks ago. And at the time, there was speculation that was linked to the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Now, we haven't had confirmation whether Jemaah Islamiyah has claimed responsibility for this attack. But certainly they have a long track record of hitting western targets across Indonesia and Bali and in Jakarta. I interviewed some of the Bali bombers before they were executed and also interviewed key suspects from Jemaah Islamiyah and all of them very unrepentant and dedicated to killing as many westerners as they can.


Dan Rivers joining us live with new information from Jakarta this morning. We appreciate it.

ROBERTS: Our next guest witnessed the explosions from his hotel room. Alan Orlob is the vice president of corporate security for Marriott International. He was staying across the street at the Ritz- Carlton to review the safety situation there.

He joins us now by telephone to describe this morning's scene, and tell us what safety precautions are already being taken in Jakarta and what they might have to do to upgrade security in the wake of this attack.

Alan, thanks for being with us.

Can you describe the scene this morning? How it all unfolded?

ALAN ORLOB, V.P. AT CORPORATE SECURITY, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL (via telephone): This happen at about 7:45 this morning. I was in my room just getting ready to go down for breakfast when the first blast happened. It wasn't very loud. I certainly heard some kind of an explosion. And then, I guess, about -- I looked out my window and I could actually look down at the Marriott and I saw some people running in front of the hotel.

A couple of minutes later, there was another blast. And, again, I looked down and saw smoke coming out. So I went ahead and went down to the lobby, but I got on the elevator. And people didn't seem to know that anything was amiss. One lady said did you hear something? And it wasn't until we got down to the lobby that we saw what had occurred.

ROBERTS: Right. We know that eight or nine people died in that attack. At least that's the early estimate of deaths. As many as 50 people were injured. What was the level of damage that you witnessed?

ORLOB: Well, when we looked at the damage, it looked like -- it looked a lot worse than it was. Most of the damage was to glass and to the furniture. We have done an assessment and we haven't found any structural damage to either of the hotels at all. So as I say, most of it seemed to be a lot worse than it actually was.

ROBERTS: It's kind of ironic, Alan, that you were there to review security, you know. Obviously, you were there to make sure that things were all right. This would seem to be a very big indication that there was some gaping hole in security.

What do you know about reports that at least a couple of the bombers or somebody associated with the bombers was using the room in the 18th floor at the Marriott as sort of a commanding control center?

ORLOB: You know, I don't know anything about that, John. I got that information from the police probably just like you did, but they didn't tell us any more. That part is all part of the police investigation. And we're not part of that.

I can tell you, though, that both of those hotels had very robust security. It was, you know, when you pulled up in front of the hotel, all vehicles were inspected, everybody went through a walk through metal detector, all luggage was inspected with sophisticated explosive vapor detectors. We had about 40 procedures that the hotels are required to follow under -- we had them under what we call threat condition red, which is our highest level. So we had very, very robust security in place there.

ROBERTS: Yet even so, these bombers were able to get explosive materials inside that hotel, unknown whether the bombs came through whole or if they came through in components and were assembled in this room.

I mean, you've got to be scratching your head this morning, Alan, saying, where did we go wrong? What did we miss?

ORLOB: I am, believe me. And that's what we want to find out is who did this and how they did it. And that's what we're going to be focusing on in the next -- in the next short while here.

ROBERTS: Any initial thoughts on how they might have gotten inside? Could they have gotten inside by themselves? Does it suggest that perhaps they had cooperation from people who might have been working at the hotel?

ORLOB: I'm doubtful that they had cooperation from anybody in the hotel. Most of the people we have working at the hotels have been there for a long time. So I think that's doubtful, but it would just really be me speculating to say anything. So we're just not sure at this point.

ROBERTS: All right. Alan Orlob, the vice president of Corporate Security from Marriott International joining us on the phone this morning from Jakarta. Alan, thanks so much. We really appreciate it. And good luck in your investigation and, you know, whatever security protocols you have to upgrade or revamp in order to try to provide security in the future. Appreciate it.

COSTELLO: That's really frightening. You know, the United States has its own efforts underway to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists. They have some programs in place that you may not know about. Barbara Starr does, though, and she'll share them with you.

It's nine minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: A secret program to kill al Qaeda members was recently exposed and shut down. And former Vice President Dick Cheney has been taking a lot of heat accused of hiding that from Congress. But some are wondering exactly what was being hidden.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is live from Washington this morning to tell us.

OK, we're intrigued.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Carol.

You know, after all of this emerged a few days ago, we decided to have a reality check on the world of capture or kill.



MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Someone started all this.


STARR (voice-over): In the movie "The Bourne Ultimatum," Matt Damon plays an agent in the exotic world of a CIA assassin. But does it really exist? Leon Panetta just shut down an agency program reportedly aimed at killing al Qaeda terrorists. Congress may not have been informed.

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA: That's a serious breach. Look, you can't gloss over it.

STARR: But experts say nobody should claim to be surprised that the U.S. is hunting down terrorists.

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: We have seen a range of al Qaeda leaders that have been assassinated since September 11 in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and a range of other places.

STARR: Indeed, CIA drones flying over Pakistan have killed dozens of suspected terrorists in recent years, but Jones says one of the diciest missions -- U.S. troops secretly on the ground in Pakistan in 2008 trading gunfire with al Qaeda.

JONES: There was a special operations force, direct action engagement in Waziristan. It was for a very short period of time.

STARR: Other hits, Somalia, 2007. Air Force AC-130 gunships launched strikes into southern Somalia, but failed to kill their al Qaeda targets.

Iraq, 2006. The U.S. military hunts down and kills Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. 2003, Saddam Hussein's sons are killed.

Yemen, 2002, a CIA drone kills an al Qaeda operative, the U.S. says was involved in the bombing of the "USS Cole." But whether it's the CIA or U.S. troops on the trigger, there are rules to be followed.

JONES: The United States cannot, ipso facto kill individuals in foreign countries. I mean, they're generally with foreign fighters. There has to be a determination that this individual and general is plotting and does threaten the homeland of the United States.


STARR: And the experts warn, Carol, if the U.S. decides to put troops or CIA operatives on foreign soil and that government doesn't know about it, there is a risk of diplomatic disaster if they're found out. All of this, very carefully scrutinized by the U.S. government.


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


ROBERTS: So, President Obama told Senate Democrats he wants an agreement on the health care plan by this weekend. Not going to happen. Says he wants a bill he can sign by the August recess. That may not happen now.

Senator Ben Nelson is one of the people who has got some real concerns about the health care plan that's making its way through the House and the Senate bill, as well. The president brought him over to the White House yesterday to try to control him, get him to come over to his side. We'll find out where he is on all of that, coming up next.

It's fifteen and a half minutes after the hour.


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

President Obama is pushing for quick action on sweeping health care reform. And he got a boost overnight when the House committee passed one version of reform legislation. But even now, there are some in his own party who aren't sold on the problem. And there are some problems developing in the Senate.

Joining me now is Nebraska senator Ben Nelson. A Democrat who is critical of some of the president's idea.

Senator, it's great to talk to you this morning. You were invited over to the White House by the president yesterday. I guess he was trying to get you to see his point of view on things. You've got some problems with the legislation.

What troubles you?

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: Well, when he invited me over, I didn't take a sling. It wasn't any arm twisting, but he did also ask for my point of view. I think what we have to do here is to have a bipartisan approach. And the only place, I think, that's going to happen is through the Senate Finance Committee.

And when I expressed my concern -- I'm working with others on bipartisan basis and we're all expressing our concerns about deadlines. We don't want delays. We don't want to rush into this because this is a very complex situation. We want to reduce the costs. We want to improve the level of care, and we want to do that at the same time, having health care become available to people who don't currently have it. But not detrimentally impact the coverage of the 200 million Americans who are currently insured.

ROBERTS: On this idea of reducing costs, you did not exactly get a favorable report from Doug Elmendorf of the...

NELSON: That's right.

ROBERTS: ...Congressional Budget Office director. Here's what he said yesterday regarding the plans that are making their way through Congress.


DOUG ELMENDORF, DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE: And the legislation has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.


ROBERTS: In fact, Elmendorf said that it would actually expand federal responsibility for health care costs. I mean, that went through Capitol Hill like a cannon shot yesterday.

NELSON: Absolutely. That's the last thing we need to do. We have to find a way to reduce the cost because just shifting the cost from one tax pocket to the other tax pocket isn't going to get true health care reform.

One of the main things that we need to accomplish is to establish incentives for healthier lifestyles, as well as improve the level of care. I think it's (INAUDIBLE) Corporation that said that 45 percent of the procedures that are applied to patients today are inappropriate. Not malpractice, but inappropriate. So we've got waste in the system that we've got to find a way to take out or this spiraling cost will continue no matter what else we try to do.

ROBERTS: Now, in the House version of health care reform, they want to offset those costs by imposing a surtax on high-wage earners here in the United States, a maximum 5.4 percent for the wealthiest Americans which would actually raise their tax rate to 50 percent. First time in a long time that it's been there.

And there are some people, like Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who we talked to earlier this week, who said, hey, we want to do it differently than the House does.

Do you want to do it differently? Is that surtax a non-starter?

NELSON: I think it's a non-starter. You know, a tax is a four- letter word. So you have to be very careful with what you do with tax policy in connection with this as well, because people don't want this additional cost added to the deficit. But at the same time, we have to find fair ways of -- means of financing as we -- as we try to help those people currently aren't insured find access to coverage.

ROBERTS: So are you saying to Congressman Rangel that idea is dead, it's not going to fly in the Senate?

NELSON: I never try to advise the House. I have enough trouble with the Senate.

ROBERTS: But the idea of a surtax...

NELSON: The idea -- yes. I don't think it's going anywhere over here. I'm not hearing anybody pushing it. But the truth of the matter is, we have to find some way to finance it and one of the best ways is to reduce the cost and improve the level of care.

ROBERTS: And you talked at the beginning about deadlines. The president wanted an agreement by this weekend. And he wants a bill he can sign by the August recess. You said after your White House meeting, quote, "For my part, I suggested we not impose an arbitrary deadline to get something done."

So, if not now, when?

NELSON: Well, look, I think we have -- there's a point where we have to have something done. But if you say it has to be this weekend, and they're not ready to go and Senator Baucus and Senator Grassley have indicated that they don't see how they could get something done this weekend. We're creating an impossibility to perform. And that's -- and that's very, I think, damaging to the process.

ROBERTS: Senator Bill Nelson -- Ben Nelson, it's always great to talk to you. Thanks very much. Safe travels back to Nebraska.

NELSON: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: Appreciate it.


COSTELLO: You know, John, coming up, we're going to talk to Zac Sunderland. He's the youngest person to ever sail around the world. You'll hear -- you'll hear about his adventures. And he ran into some pirates. He dealt with hunger, bad weather and the loneliness. He'll join us with his parents.

It's 22 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: Imagine taking the trip of a lifetime before you're even 18 years old. Zac, the teen sailor, set a world record by sailing around the world nearly 28,000 miles all by himself.

Here is a moment straight from the high seas.


ZAC SUNDERLAND, YOUNGEST PERSON TO SAIL AROUND THE WORLD SOLO: I've just been through my first big swell out here, and just crazy. It was pouring with rain for like five minutes and pouring is like filling up the cup. The water getting everywhere. The whole boat got soaked in like five seconds. The boat can keep on track by itself. I was at 35 knots of wind. I was hand steering with all my strength to keep the boat running downwind. And it's crazy.

So, I'll go do a damage check real quick.


COSTELLO: That's scary.

Zac Sunderland is joining us from Marina Del Ray, California this morning where his trip just ended. Zach's relieved mom and dad, Marianne and Laurence, are there, too.

And thank you all for getting up so early for us.

LAURENCE SUNDERLAND, ZAC'S FATHER: You're welcome. Good morning.

COSTELLO: Good morning.

So, Zac, you're home finally after being away for such a long time after such an arduous journey. So as you sit there with mom and dad, what goes through your mind?

Z. SUNDERLAND: Yes, it's nice to be back. You know, it's been 13 months since I set out. So it's kind of weird to have that behind me. But, yes, it's going to be interesting to see how the next couple of days go. Go see all my friends and family.

COSTELLO: So how does it feel to set a world record?

Z. SUNDERLAND: Yes, it's awesome. You know, I've been fighting for this thing for the past 13 months. It's awesome to finally have that -- have that done.

COSTELLO: And so I'm going to ask your parents, Marianne and Laurence.

So, finally your son is back after 28,000 miles. He ran into pirates. We just saw the bad weather he ran into.

So what are your feelings now that he's standing safe and sound beside you?

MARIANNE SUNDERLAND, ZAC'S MOTHER: Well, obviously we're relieved. It's good to have him back. And we feel like he's just done a great job and he's learned so much and seen so much. It's been -- it's been a wonderful year of excitement, but we're glad for a little normalcy.


OK, Zac, tell us about some of your adventures, because we saw a little bit about, you know, how you dealt with the weather, but you also ran into pirates. Tell us about that.

Z. SUNDERLAND: Yes. I was on the way from Australia to Cocos Keeling and I had light winds out in the Indian Ocean there. So I ended up going to the coast of Indonesia and just picked up some wind and I had this boat following me around and I was altering course to get away from it. And the area is pretty notorious for their piracy over there.

And -- but, you know, for 20 minutes the boat kept following me around all over the place. I ended up calling in the Australian coast watch and got them in there. And as soon as the Australian coast watch was coming in, the boat took off. But, yes, still it was like an hour and a half of just waiting and just pretty crazy hour.

COSTELLO: I bet you were praying, too.

I want to show our viewers a map of your journey because it's incredible.

You set off from Marina Del Ray, you went to the Port of Spain, you went through Cape Town, which is in Africa, Cocos Keeling, Australia. I mean, this is just an amazing journey.

What did you have to eat on board your boat?

Z. SUNDERLAND: Yes. Well, when you're out at sea for, you know, 20, 30 days at a time, fresh food doesn't really keep very well. So I was kind of down to the moon food. You know, freeze-dried and canned stuff. I had Produce for Kids to help me out with my diet a bit. They're my sponsors, so they're trying to keep me healthy out there.

But yes, I mean, just kind of bland food, lots of calories. And, yes, good to be back, some fresh food.

COSTELLO: So how much weight did you lose?

Z. SUNDERLAND: About 15, 20 pounds.

COSTELLO: Wow. That's incredible.

You know, you said something interesting as I was watching your news conference, I think it was yesterday. You said that you wanted to do this at such a young age because kids between the ages of 15 and 18 really aren't expected to do much.

Can you expound on that for us?

Z. SUNDERLAND: Yes. Well, I mean, it's kind of the American kind of expectation that, you know, if you're between the ages 15 to 18, that you just go to high school, do whatever, you know, hope you get into a college.

But other places in the world, once you're like 16, you're pretty much considered an adult. And, you know, you're capable of pretty much everything that an adult is capable of and with the right motivation and stuff, you can just do pretty much anything you want.

So you've got to, you know, just fight hard and go for what you want. COSTELLO: Well, you certainly have proved that, and then we're glad you're safe and sound. Marianne, Laurence and Zac Sunderland, thanks for joining us this morning.

M. SUNDERLAND: Thank you.

L. SUNDERLAND: Thank you very much.

ROBERTS: Wow, pretty incredible journey. Just amazing.

Thirty minutes after the hour.

Checking our top stories now.

First, breaking news. Pope Benedict XVI has been taken to a hospital in northern Italy. He is reportedly having surgery to repair a fractured wrist. The Vatican spokesman says the pontiff slipped and fell during his vacation in the Italian Alps.

COSTELLO: A second person has died, building a stage for the pop singer Madonna for her concert in France. A crane collapse yesterday, injuring eight others. The concert has not been canceled. Madonna issued a statement saying she's devastated.

ROBERTS: Former Iranian President Ayatollah Rafsanjani is calling for the release of anyone who was arrested or detained in the government's crackdown on post-election protests. Rafsanjani made the demand at his sermon this morning in Tehran where tens of thousands of opposition supporters gathered. The AP reports that police fired tear gas at some Iranians as they headed to the prayer session.

COSTELLO: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is kicking off a week-long trip to India and Thailand this morning. Today, she's paying respects to the victims of November's attacks in Mumbai. She'll also be meeting industry leaders in India to strengthen business partnerships between our two countries.

ROBERTS: Well, we're following breaking news and we've been following it all morning from Jakarta, Indonesia. Powerful bomb blasts hitting two luxury western hotels, leaving nine dead and more than 50 wounded.

The attacks at the Marriott and the Ritz Carlton Hotel just across the street came minutes apart. The Indonesian government is blaming suicide bombers, some of whom, officials say were actually staying at the Marriott. They were guests there. We're monitoring all of the developments from Indonesia through the worldwide resources of CNN.

CNN producer Kathy Quiano is in Jakarta for us this morning and she's got the very latest. Hi, Kathy.


KATHY QUIANO, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): The national police spokesman told the (INAUDIBLE) that there were eight people who were killed in the two blasts that hit Jakarta early this morning. One of them was a foreigner. Fifty-three others, including 18 foreigners were also injured. They were brought to hospitals, and are still being treated there. And as you mentioned, there were several Americans who were injured, among the 18 who were injured.

Now, the police also said and confirmed that they did find an unexploded bomb in one of the rooms on the 18th floor of the Marriott Hotel. They found an active bomb that they had to diffuse. Although said the three bombs were similar and actually low explosive devices.

Now, the police say that, you know, no one has claimed responsibility for this yet, but, of course, the usual suspects as we've been saying here is the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, which operates from Indonesia and has cells working in other countries in the region like Malaysia and the Philippines.


ROBERTS: That's Kathy Quiano reporting this morning. Indonesia's certainly no stranger to these types of bombings. Let's look at some previous attacks in an "AM Extra" this morning. In October of 2002, there was the big one on the resort island of Bali, blasts a crowded nightclub and killed 202 people. Most of them were foreign tourists. Three years later Bali was hit again, four explosions rocked popular tourists spots, at least 32 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.

And the Marriott Hotel that was bombed today was also the site of a terrorist attack in August of 2003. Twelve people were killed in that bombing. They greatly enhanced security at the Marriott Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton in the wake of that bombing, but obviously they have a big hole in their security precautions there.

COSTELLO: And they have to think of something new. Just into CNN, $3 billion for Citigroup in the second quarter. Christine Romans is here to tell us exactly what that means.

CHRITISNE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It means that the banks, the big banks in this country that took so much taxpayer support after the big credit crisis last year, they are making money again. These banks have paid back, many of them, their TARP funds, their bank bailout funds and now in the second quarter. It's showing that they are making money again.

Citi the most recent to report. Bank of America also reported better than expected earnings this morning. JP Morgan did yesterday. Goldman Sachs did earlier this week, $3.4 billion in profit for Goldman Sachs.

What are they doing right? Well, the trading divisions of many of these banks are doing very well. They're making money trading in the markets. But when you look at anything related to consumer loans, many of them are cautioning that the consumer part of the business is still a little bit rough, that they're setting aside money because they know that so many of their customers are not paying their credit cards on time. They're defaulting on business loans. They are defaulting on their mortgages, and so they're looking with caution ahead at that part of the business. But indeed, they are starting to make money again.

Citigroup getting a boost also from selling Smith Barney. A little note about the Citigroup earnings, as well, do you know that they have cut 96,000 jobs from their peak and they've cut 30,000 jobs just since the first quarter.

ROBERTS: So I'm confused, but I understand very little of what happens in the world of finance anyway. Citigroup's stock $3...


ROBERTS: ... closed yesterday. We continue to hear that it's in dire straits.


ROBERTS: And yet it makes $3 billion?

ROMANS: It's supported by the government, and the government is supporting this company and they're supporting it because they want it to get back and healthy again. And they want it to start making money again so that it can be a healthy participant in the global economy.

ROBERTS: So, obviously they're doing something right.

ROMANS: Well, they separated out two different parts of their business. They sold Smith Barney and then they recorded a profit, a net profit for the quarter.

COSTELLO: I know, it's just disturbing to hear their credit card customers, you know, they're going to default on their credit cards and they'll probably be penalized for life for that. And then they're making so much money...

ROMANS: Well, the consumers are still weak here. But we want them to be healthy, right? We don't want the banks to be all weak. We want them to be healthy...


ROBERTS: How much money they make versus what kind of shape we heard they were I?

ROMANS: Well, I don't think they're -- they're called - "The New York Times" called them "the walking wounded." I don't think that they are back to pure health and when you look in here, they are raising the red flag about the consumers are going to look forward to over the next couple of years and they're setting aside money to try to prepare for that. But they made money. These banks are doing better when we thought they would at this point. That is not a controversial statement.

ROBERTS: Excellent.

ROMANS: They did better than we thought...

ROBERTS: Well, but that's an understatement.

ROMANS: Yes, well...

COSTELLO: Thanks, Christine.

We're asking you a question this morning. Should we do away with affirmative action? It's part of my "Just Saying" segment. A lot of you have responded at We're going to read some of your comments and we're going to explore the issue of affirmative action. Is it time that program just went away. It's 36 minutes past the hour.



ROBERTS: Good morning, Hotlanta, where it's cloudy, 74 degrees. Later on today, isolated thunderstorms, a high of 87.

Here's some weather in some parts of the country, and it's affecting business travel on this Friday morning. The only significant delays we have been able to find this morning are at Philadelphia where the average delay is about 50 minutes right now. But there's also a little bit of junk happening in Charlotte and there in Atlanta. So call ahead to the airline before you go out. It might be a good idea. And of course, with thunderstorms coming their way in Atlanta later on today, that might create some problems, too.

COSTELLO: Check online, because you'll never get through on the phone. I've been there.

ROBERTS: You're such a cynic. Every...

COSTELLO: Stop it.

ROBERTS: It's like the little silver line, oh, let's paint it black.

COSTELLO: I was trying to be positive this morning. It's not working. Anyway, welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Let's talk about affirmative action.

ROBERTS: There you go.

COSTELLO: Because it's been a sticky subject. Affirmative action or quota system? It's a debate that's been reignited because of Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings. It's clear some people feel affirmative action should just go away. "Just Saying." With an African-American in the White House and a soon to be Hispanic on the Supreme Court, is it time to say no to affirmative action?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COSTELLO (voice-over): Born at the height of the civil rights movement, affirmative action helped minority students like Sonia Sotomayor get into elite schools like Princeton.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I am a product of affirmative action. I am the perfect affirmative action baby. My test scores were not comparable to that of my colleagues at Princeton or Yale.

COSTELLO: Keep in mind back then only 12 percent of law school students nationwide were women and only seven percent were minorities. Today, the numbers have changed dramatically. Almost half of law school students are women, and 23 percent are minority.

And minorities and women overall seem to be excelling. America boasts a black president, a woman secretary of state and the list goes on and on and on and on.

(on camera): I'm just saying.

(voice-over): Time to say no to affirmative action?

KEN BLACKWELL, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: For us to operate under the (inaudible) of affirmative action to operate on racial preferences and quotas is idiotic and counterproductive.

COSTELLO: It's a sentiment echoed by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who wrote in his memoir of his Yale law degree. "I graduated from one of America's top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value." And we found plenty of other Americans who agreed with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see the point in it any more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's have it go away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's time to consider ending it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it's relevant anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There will always be someone that would need it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that affirmative action should have never been in place in the first place.

COSTELLO: But others say, not so fast. Yes, we have a black president, but there is just one black senator and two Hispanics.

CATHY AREU, "CATALINA" MAGAZINE: I think the day that we have a nominee for the Supreme Court and we don't bring up the word like Latina or woman, I think that's a great day. I think we'll just say, here's our new nominee, we're going to ask her questions. Then we won't need affirmative action.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COSTELLO: A couple of other things to keep in mind. And experts say minority enrollment at major public universities has actually fallen in recent years and it would be difficult to say discrimination on the job has completely disappeared. Because you hear people complaining about that all the time.

Despite this, voters in at least three states have limited the scope of affirmative action. Seeing it as a quota system and anything but fair.

We want to know what you think about this morning. Is it time to say now to affirmative action. E-mail me on my blog at We're getting a lot of interesting comments. Most of them say we should get rid of affirmative action.

ROBERTS: Well, yes, I love what that one woman that you had said, you know, let's get to a point where there is no gender differences, no racial differences, you know, no ethnic background differences. We're all just people.

COSTELLO: Well, she believes affirmative action programs should stay in place because she doesn't say that day has come just yet.

ROBERTS: No, no, not yet. Not looking for utopia, just like equanimity for everyone.

COSTELLO: Wouldn't that be nice.

ROBERTS: Yes. It would be great.


ROBERTS: There you go. So, one of my favorite songs of all time. Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit," you know, one pill makes you taller and one pill makes you small.

Well, that could sort of be applied to energy drinks these days. Everybody's taking energy drinks to get up. Well, guess what, now there's the anti-energy drink to bring you back down. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has got all of the details on that.

COSTELLO: Why would you want to take that? Why would you want to drink it?

ROBERTS: Well, you know, drink too many Red Bulls, you've got to take a drink and get back down, I guess. Forty-four minutes after the hour. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Well, are you sick of getting hit with bank fees every time you blink? Are you mad as heck, you're not going to take it anymore?



COSTELLO: Well, you don't have to put up with it. Gerri Willis is here to tell us why.

WILLIS: OK. All right. Well, let's talk a little bit about just how mad people are. They are changing banks and in a big way. According to research from Javelin Strategy, 44 percent of the folks who switched banks over the past three months switched because of rising fees and let me tell you one of the most onerous ones. Overdraft fees, $35, these really aren't fees. These are short-term loans in case you overdraw your account and they don't even tell you you're doing it.

I actually had this happen to me recently and spent almost $400 because I was out using my debit card and didn't know I was overdrawing.

So, people are angry and they're switching banks and you may be wondering exactly how to do that. So the best thing to do is to get a switching kit at your local bank's office or online. It'll give you all of the forms you need to switch banks, tell you how to do it. Don't forget to keep some money in your old account, because you want to be sure that you can cover everything you want to cover. Have those closed accounts verified in writing because you want to be able to prove that you actually...

COSTELLO: You actually have to fill out papers and get a switching...

WILLIS: You know, you don't. But the good news about a switching kit is you won't forget something. Look, people are relying on their bank accounts, they're depositing their checks in there. You know, you're paying your bills out of your online account. There's so much going on with these accounts. Maybe you have a social security check deposited into that account. You want to make sure that you move everything the right way.

And don't forget one thing that you can do, obviously, if you're not happy with your bank, instead of changing banks, you can call customer service or talk to your local branch manager and say, look, I want some of these fees cut out. I want you to forgive some of them or I want you raise my rate on my interest-bearing account.


You had $400?

WILLIS: Nearly $400. Look, this is a big deal. In fact, Consumer Reports was in front of Congress last week testifying on this thing. This very issue of overdraft fees. They feel like they're not fair and obviously you don't want to overdraw your account, but people don't really know these fees are piling up. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars that you know translates into millions and millions to the bottom line.

ROBERTS: You know whose bank I want? I want the guy who got charged 23 quadrillion dollars for the pack of cigarettes because he only got a $15 overdraft charge on that one.

WILLIS: Right. That's the good bank.


WILLIS: It took him two hours to talk himself out of that, right?

ROBERTS: It's true.

Gerri, thanks so much for that.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: Forty-nine minutes after the hour. Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the anti-energy drink, coming right up. This one you've got to see to believe. Stay with us.



ROBERTS: A little Ramones to set us up there. Fifty-two minutes after the hour.

It had to happen, right? With all these energy drinks out there designed to get you up. Well, whether it be Red Bull or Monster or these little 5-hour energy shots, somebody had to come along and say well at the end of the day when you're full of sugar and caffeine, you've got to have something to bring you back down again. Right?

There it is.

COSTELLO: I'm not getting this. I'm just now. Why would you ever want to be brought down?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You've got your roll on, Carol. As they say, this is about slowing your roll down.

ROBERTS: Doc Gupta here to tell us all about this.

COSTELLO: I like that.

GUPTA: I don't know. I'm not sure I'm buying it either. I side with Carol on this one. That was sort of the thinking that you have all these drinks that sort of give you energy and sort of get you two up during the day. If you need to relax at night, what can you do?

And people are starting to tap into this market. This is one example of a drink called Drank, which incidentally, I looked it up where they got the name. You think, it's just drink drank. But in inner city Houston, they'd actually mix codeine with drinks and it would bring people down with alcohol.

COSTELLO: Is that what that is? GUPTA: No, this does not have any alcohol on it or any codeine, but it has all these various substances which we really don't know what they do in combination but in isolation have had some sort of soothing effects.

ROBERTS: It's got a lot of B vitamins in it which is what the energy boosting -

GUPTA: Like the five hour energy. And it also has melatonin, for example, which we both heard of. It's a natural hormone, they call it the hormone of darkness. That makes you tired. Valerian, which have been used for anxiety for some time and rose hips, as well.

ROBERTS: Yes, in tea.

GUPTA: That's right. Boiled in water can be somewhat soothing, as well. You know, what's interesting, as I started to investigate this is that you have this whole list of substances by the FDA that are called GRAS substances, G-R-A-S meaning generally regarded as safe. And that's what these fall under as well, which means we really don't know a lot about them and we certainly don't know how they act in combination.


GUPTA: We've talked to the creator of it, Dr. Peter Bianqui (ph). He's not a doctor and he said look we've been selling millions of these units, we've had no reports of any adverse effects. That's the most they can tell us about this.

COSTELLO: So has anyone tried it? Has anyone been a guinea pig?

GUPTA: Oh. Yes. Actually, I haven't tried it myself.

ROBERTS: How long does it last? I'm about to get on an airplane and fly for three and a half hours.

GUPTA: I don't know. I'm not sure.

COSTELLO: Then drink it and tell us.

GUPTA: Yes, you can have a segment on Monday. I tell you.

ROBERTS: Give it to John, he'll drink anything.

GUPTA: They do say that about you a lot. There are other ways to relax. I will tell you that. I mean, we talked about this a lot. You don't have to do the Drank. Getting exercise during the day, but not too close to bedtime. Trying to get a good night's sleep.

And Carol, this will surprise you maybe. Because you and I have known each other a long time, but I meditate every afternoon now.


GUPTA: Yes, somebody told me about this a few years ago. About 10 minutes, I try and meditate. Someone told me how to do this, and it really involved focusing on a single word. I picked the word "gentle," and I sit in a room trying to make as...

ROBERTS: It's not going to work anymore. You gave us your mantra. You're not supposed to do that.

GUPTA: Say the word, really focus on it, the first few minutes you won't be able to focus at all. But within about 10 minutes, you're really quite comfortable with it. I find that I relax. I feel like I'm just much calmer.

COSTELLO: That surprises me about you because you're -- he's running like a million miles an hour. But how do you find it within yourself to stop? Because I find it difficult. If I'm not doing something at every moment, it drives me crazy.

GUPTA: Well, that and I'm driven crazy by the fact that there's so many things pulling at me. So I get 10 minutes of my time, you know, I don't get interrupted, focus on the word. It actually works. I don't know, John, you can tell us, if it works better than Drank, if you take it this weekend.

ROBERTS: I'm ADD, so meditation doesn't work for me...

GUPTA: You've got to focus on five words.

COSTELLO: He'll drink that stuff that we don't know how it affects you. I'll meditate.

GUPTA: Clearly, I'm not endorsing this for John. He does...

ROBERTS: How long does this last though?

GUPTA: I don't know. I don't know how these things work in combination. People do take it typically before bedtime. It is yours. My gift to you.

ROBERTS: Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Happy weekend.

ROBERTS: You're such a bro.

GUPTA: The bromance back on.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Sanjay.

COSTELLO: I'm becoming nauseous.

GUPTA: Me, too.


FLAVIO CANTO, CHAMPIONING CHILDREN: I've never seen any place as beautiful as Rio de Janeiro, but it does have its dark side.

There is violence all over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The bad things that happened here.

CANTO: It's the kids here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes I get scared.

They don't have many options. Kids die every day from making the wrong choice. But every time I see (INAUDIBLE), the first thing that comes to my mind is potential. My name is Flavio Canto, and I'm a judo Olympic medallist, but the best part of my life is changing people's destiny through sports.

I usually tell the kids that we can't let ourselves get used to the violence that surrounds us. We have to fight back somehow. Instead of fighting the streets, they learn how to use their energy in the right way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel less afraid. Flavio helps me win lots of championships and he helps me feel very proud of myself.

CANTO: Helping kids avoid the wrong choice is one of our goals. They don't need to follow the destiny everyone told them they would have. They can change it. They're the true heroes.


COSTELLO: I'm just reading our blog here. And it's been amazing how many people are writing in.

ROBERTS: A lot of people, yes.

COSTELLO: You know, I wasn't sure if we were in commercial or if we were on air. But we're on the air.

And thank you for writing into our blogs this morning. And we've been asking you, our viewers, to tell us your thoughts about my "Just Saying" segment this morning on whether affirmative action is still needed. And we got these posts from our blog at

Teresa says, "some form of affirmative action is still needed. I'm a female firefighter that only received a chance of becoming a fire fighter because my fire department feared being sued after years of keeping women out."

ROBERTS: And Bionigi says, "I have been refused work simply because I'm not Hispanic, dozens of employers and placement agencies have refused to hire me because I'm not Hispanic. And they me that's because I don't speak Spanish, sounds like reverse discrimination." Though it's all discrimination, this idea of reverse discrimination, I think is a little...

COSTELLO: Discrimination is discrimination.

ROBERTS: Continue the conversation on today's stories, go to our blog at I'm still awake and I've been drinking part of this. Do I have to say the energy drink tastes like cough syrup. This tastes like dry cleaning fluid.

COSTELLO: It smells like dry cleaning fluid...

ROBERTS: Not that I have personal experience with that, but it certainly smells that way.

Thanks for joining us this morning.

COSTELLO: Here's Heidi Collins.