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AMERICAN MORNING

Obama To Address Joint Session of Congress Next Week; "Educating America" Series; Man Goes Public With Photos of Security Guards Sleeping at George Washington Bridge; Some Businesses Thriving Despite Bad Economy; Wildfires in California Gradually Being Control; Michael Jackson To Be Buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery Tonight

Aired September 3, 2009 - 07:57   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: We are at three minutes to the top of the hour this morning. Does that look sunny to you? Maybe it's just the camera angle.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: You can see a few shadows there. It's kind of hazy.

CHETRY: Sixty-two degrees, though. Yes, and the weekend's coming up. Hopefully things will look up for the weekend. It's partly cloudy later today, 77 degrees. And welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

There is going to be a new face, now, on the evening news. Diane Sawyer is going to be replacing the retiring Charlie Gibson as the anchor of ABC's "World News" coming up at the end of the year.

ROBERTS: The move creates a television first. Two of the three network evening newscasts will now have a woman in the evening chair. Our Alina Cho is taking a closer look at that. A similar ratio to the one that you see right here.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two to one. Women -- they keep breaking through that glass ceiling, which I think everyone agrees is a good thing. Right, guys? You know, it's hard to believe that it's been three years since Katie Couric took the helm of the "CBS Evening News."

Well, now it's Diane Sawyer's turn. ABC has announced that Sawyer will replace Charlie Gibson as anchor of "World News." A huge accomplishment, not just for Sawyer, of course, but for working women everywhere. It has been a bumpy ride to the top, and this could be a tough climb, too.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHO (voice-over): When Diane Sawyer makes the switch from morning to evening news anchor at ABC this January, she'll make history. Two of the three network evening newscasts soon will be anchored by women.

GENEVEA OVERHOLSER, USC ANNENBERG SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: We have been waiting a long time for this moment, when it would no longer be tokenism to have a woman.

CHO: But if history is any guide, Sawyer will have to work for every viewer. Women have been in this role before, but never with great success.

HARRY REASONER: Thank you, Barbara.

CHO: Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner.

DAN RATHER: Welcome, Connie.

CONNIE CHUNG: Thank you, Dan.

CHO: Connie Chung and Dan Rather. Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff.

PAT MITCHELL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA: I think it hasn't worked in the past, not because the women weren't qualified and ready for the job but because they weren't given the support they needed.

CHO: Enter Katie Couric. Tonight, it's been three years since she became the first woman to solo anchor a network evening newscast. After a splashy debut on the "CBS Evening News" in 2006, Couric tinkered in the format and lost viewers. She's now firmly in third in the evening news race. Now with Sawyer about to become Couric's competitor again...

LLOYD GROVE, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, DAILYBEAST.COM: The chattering classes in the media always love the prospect of a cat fight.

CHO: Sawyer's more immediate pressure will be keeping viewers tuned into a broadcast that currently holds a solid second place in the ratings.

MITCHELL: Everything she does will be looked at through a lens that probably isn't fair -- yes, isn't fair, but it will happen.

OVERHOLSER: I think one thing we can watch for is, if we hear the same criticisms of both, it will be somewhat suspicious, because they're very different women.

CHO: Which should make for a healthy three-way competition among the network news anchors, no matter what their sex.

MITCHELL: How can we even be asking the question, you know, can a woman do this job as well as a man and can a woman lead any program to a successful position? The answer has got to be yes, resoundedly, yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: Sawyer's competitors were quick to put out statements. Nobody spoke on camera, really, about it. Brian Williams did mention something at end of his broadcast last night. But in a statement, he called Sawyer a legendary name in the business. He said, "I would love to say the ABC's loss is NBC's gain, but then they went to appoint Diane Sawyer to replace Charlie Gibson. That doesn't lessen the competition one bit." Katie Couric added, "as I did, I'm sure she'll quickly find that she doesn't miss that early morning alarm clock." Certainly, we can all attest to that.

You know, one bit of trivia that I want to...

ROBERTS: I love getting up at 2:00 in the morning.

CHO: One bit of trivia that I think is interesting is that our own John Roberts, you actually replaced Connie Chung on the "Sunday Evening News" over at CBS when she went and sat next to Dan Rather...

ROBERTS: 1995.

CHO: In 1995. You know, I spoke to her on the phone last night for a bit of time and she said she was thrilled by the news. It was long overdue. She spoke to Diane -- you know, she said she only wishes this would have happened when network news, the evening news was more of a dominant force. Of course, their viewership has been eroding. Still a massive audience but nonetheless, you know, one other person said, you know, maybe the networks are finally realizing women are half the audience, 85 percent of the purchasing power. But, you know, it's a great thing for women everywhere. Not just in television.

CHETRY: No, and she's not just any woman. She's an -- she's amazing.

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: I mean, listen, you know, inside the business, I don't think anybody was surprised by the choice, which says a lot about Diane Sawyer and a lot about women in leadership positions.

ROBERTS: She'll be great, no question about it.

CHO: She will.

ROBERTS: Alina, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: And good morning to you once again. Thanks for being with us. We don't mind the 2:00 a.m. alarm clock. We're glad to be with you here. It's Thursday. It's September 3rd.

Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

Here's what's on this morning's agenda, stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

Is President Obama ready to make a deal on health care reform that could take the public insurance option off the table? We'll talk with Ed Rollins and James Carville about behind-the-scenes negotiations and the president's major health care speech to Congress next week.

CHETRY: Also, if you have a mortgage, you could find yourself under the microscope of the IRS next year. That's right. Christine Romans is standing by with a new program the government will be using to try to catch tax cheats.

ROBERTS: Plus, Washington has cut the funding for abstinence- only sex education. And across the country, more and more schools are changing their approach. But are teachers now telling your kids too much? Both sides of the debate are just ahead in our "Educating America" series.

August was open season for opponents of President Obama's health care plan. When Congress returns to work next week, the president will use the biggest bully pulpit of them all to try to regain control of the health care debate. His primetime speech to a joint session of Congress is expected to contain more specifics about what he thinks a bill should include.

Will the government-run insurance option still be an option?

Ed Henry asked Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Where's the public option? Is it still on the table or is it off?

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: The president embraced the public option because he believes that we need to have competition and choice in the insurance system and in this pool that will be created for uninsured workers and small businesses that can't afford insurance to buy it. And he believes that would be a boom for consumers, help them get the best deal, keep the insurance companies honest. He still believes that competition and choice is important.

HENRY: But does that mean a public option is still alive?

AXELROD: I'm not going to deal with details of the president's speech, otherwise, there would be no point in giving it. But it's fair to say that he believes strongly in the notion of competition and choice to keep the insurance companies honest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: David Axelrod with our Ed Henry.

Jill Dougherty is at White House for us this morning.

Jill, we just heard from the president's senior adviser, but what's going on behind the scenes leading up to the president's speech to Congress next Wednesday?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we're getting a glimpse of that from two sources who are familiar with these behind- the-scenes negotiations. And they tell CNN that it has to deal with these discussions that are going on between the White House and Senator Olympia Snowe. She, of course, is one of the moderate Republicans. She's really about the only Republican who seems to be willing to work with the White House on Obama's plan, or ideas for a plan.

So, how it would work -- essentially, we get down to this really controversial issue of the public option. And Olympia Snowe's idea is that, essentially, you put it on hold. You have the insurance companies institute reform, you give them time to do that, and that might be areas like pre-existing conditions, get rid of that. If they do that, that would be fine. If they do not by a certain date, then you would have a trigger that introduces that public option.

Now, it's an idea that might work to bring some other Republicans along, like, let's say, Susan Collins of Maine. However, it could alienate some of the Democratic supporters, especially the liberal ones of the president -- John?

ROBERTS: You know, it's interesting, that's exactly the same idea that Bob Dole was floating just the other day and one that he thought might be able to make its way through Congress. But, would the president get resistance from Democrats? Nancy Pelosi has said, there's got to be a public option for her to take it to a vote in the House.

DOUGHERTY: Yes, absolutely. But if -- the question always is -- if they don't do some compromise, does it all blow up and they don't get anything? Or do they try to get something without the Republicans, which could create real problems down the road?

ROBERTS: Jill Dougherty for us this morning at the White House -- Jill, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Well, so what exactly is a public option and how would it, theoretically, lower costs? Here's more now in an "A.M. Extra."

Right now, private insurance companies run under government rules. A public option would add another choice, a government-run insurer. The White House says it will be able to save costs because there would be some elimination of red tape, the need for marketing, and also ads that commercials and private companies use to sell their plans. White House official also say that you will have your choice of doctors and plans.

Critics, though, say that the public option will put private insurers, eventually, out of business. But if you like the private insurance you have now, the White House says, even if there's a public option, you would be able to keep it.

ROBERTS: And in just a few minutes, two of the best political minds in the country will join us, Ed Rollins and James Carville. We'll talk to them about a possible health care deal and the president's upcoming address to Congress.

"The New York Times" is releasing portions of late Senator Ted Kennedy's memoir. It's due to come out in 11 days' time. Kennedy writes that he was haunted every day by the 1969 car accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne. He calls his actions, quote, "inexcusable." He also writes that he agreed with the Warren commission's findings that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy.

CHETRY: And in a CNN exclusive, R&B star Chris Brown finally speaking out about assaulting his girlfriend, singer, Rihanna. In an in-depth interview with "LARRY KING LIVE," Brown talked for the first time about the attack, that he punched her, bit her, threatened to kill her, and Larry asked, what drove him to do that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What do you think caused you to be violent? You have to think about it? Everybody -- we all think about ourselves -- why did I lose my temper, why did I get angry of this?

CHRIS BROWN, SINGER: I mean, that's relationships. I wouldn't say it's OK. I think, just in relationships in general, there's a chance you lose your temper or, like arguments get heated, or whatever the case may be. But that's -- I just -- I'm not saying domestic violence is a part of relationships.

I feel like that, just, there's -- we're young. We're both young. So, nobody taught us how to love one another, nobody taught us a book on how to -- how to control our emotions, our anger.

So, it's like -- I just -- I'm not -- I'm not trying to fault on the fact that I'm young. I'm just saying is, it's just that there's a lot of stuff that I wish I could have -- I wish I could have changed that night.

KING: You punched her a number of times. You threatened to beat the blank out of her when you got home. Also said you warned you were going to kill her. You bit her on the ear and things -- now, you hear all that.

BROWN: Yes.

KING: Obviously -- this is always the disparagement here -- you have a lawyer with you. You don't appear like a violent person now.

BROWN: No.

KING: In fact, you appear rather calm, rather nice.

So what happened to you, do you think?

BROWN: Well, all I have to say, I guess that night, it's just one of the nights I wish I could just take back and I really regret and I feel totally ashamed of what I did.

KING: It never happened to you before?

BROWN: No.

KING: Later in February, you and Rihanna were photographed jet skiing and relaxing at the Miami home of Sean Diddy Combs.

How did that come about?

BROWN: It was kind of like "Romeo and Juliet" story, like both sides not wanting us to kind of have contact, so we just got away and just wanted to -- that's the main reason I was on the jet ski. I know I got a lot of flack from that and a lot of people were like, well, why is he on a jet ski, why is he just acting like there was no care in the world?

Because I was rekindling my relationship with my friend.

KING: Did you rekindle it?

BROWN: At the time, yes.

KING: Did she ever say to you, why'd you do that?

BROWN: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: All right. Well, Chris Brown was sentenced to five years probation for that assault.

ROBERTS: Well, in the next two hours, NASA will decide whether or not to hit the boosters and move the space station into a new orbit. That's because a very large piece of space junk is headed in the direction of the complex and the space shuttle Discovery. They're docked together right now. The debris is from an old European Arian rocket. It's expected to pass within two miles of the outpost tomorrow morning and NASA is keeping an eye on it, just to be safe.

CHETRY: There was an interview about the Miss Universe pageant that's raising a few eyebrows this morning. It was a pageant choreographer's claim that Donald Trump personally selects some of the finalists. While officials admit that Trump does play a role in selecting finalists, they insist that any suggestion that the pageant is rigged is, quote, "utterly false and misleading."

ROBERTS: And how about them Cowboys? They are most valuable sports franchise in the country right now. According to "Forbes" magazine, the Cowboys are worth $1.65 billion. That's $100 million more than the second place Washington Redskins. New England Patriots are third, way back there at $1.36 billion. The most valuable sports franchise team in the world, the Manchester United football team, valued at $1.87 billion.

CHETRY: There you go. All right.

ROBERTS: Ed Rollins and James Carville just ahead. We're going to talk about health care and also, wait until you hear about the gig that James Carville just got. We'll tell you about it.

It's 11 minutes after the hour.

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ROBERTS: Good morning, Washington -- where it's mostly cloudy, 63 degrees right now. Later on today, it's going to be sunny with a high of 80 degrees. A little bit of clouds, but should be a very, very nice day.

Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

The White House may be charting a new path to health care reform, a scaled-down plan that President Obama will try to sell to Congress at a primetime address next week.

Two of the best political minds are here to talk about it this morning. CNN senior political analyst and Republican strategist Ed Rollins, and CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist, James Carville, who, along with wife Mary Matalin was just named co- chair of the 2013 Super Bowl host committee in New Orleans. Well...

(CROSSTALK)

ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm jealous of that.

ROBERTS: How did you bag that gig?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's pretty good. I said to my wife, I said, well, finally, a campaign we can work together on.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: You'll be on the same side on this one, of course. Ed and I are both thinking, James, tickets here.

(CROSSTALK)

ROLLINS: Put our request in right now.

CARVILLE: I've got a lot of friends.

ROBERTS: I'll tell you, it's going to be a good time. And if the two of you are at the helm, it should be a big celebration.

All right. Now to the business at hand, we got to stop talking football.

So, Ed Henry reports that the White House has been engaged in talks with Maine Senator Olympia Snowe about a scaled-down version of the health care bill, about half the cost, and trigger mechanism that if insurance companies don't make the changes necessary to bring more of the uninsured into the roles of the insured, then you could trigger a public option.

That's something, Ed, you think Republicans could sign on to?

ROLLINS: I don't think a lot of Republicans. You may get -- you may get the senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe, which I think is the target.

ROBERTS: Well, that's one vote.

ROLLINS: It's one vote. But one vote is better than no votes. I think the key thing here though, is at least you can move the ball forward a little bit. Right today, there's pretty severe opposition to the public plan and I think if they don't alter somewhat and make some changes, I don't think it's going to be successful.

ROBERTS: At the same time, what about on the Democratic side? Speaker Pelosi says, "There's got to be a public option or I can't bring it to a vote in the House."

CARVILLE: Right. I mean, this is what it's called politics and why it's difficult. I think the president recognizes that. And there are more options than we think. I mean, they're working, they can have a public -- they can have a trigger for a public plan. They can do catastrophic, which can lead to something. I mean, there are any number of things they can do.

And I think his speech is a good thing. This is not a good August. This was a pretty cruel month. But the White House, until they know that and the president's coming back and, you know, they're going to change. It's pretty interesting here coming down the stretch. But they're not without options.

ROBERTS: This speech is going to be a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night. Can the president, Ed, make a difference year, or is it too late?

ROLLINS: Oh, no, it's never too late. You know, he's got the pulpit. You know, the problem, as you know, having followed many of these State of the Unions or joint sessions, it's a tough audience. You got half the audience that's not going to respond, the other half that's going to cheer everything.

You know, sometimes it doesn't work. Bush's speech on Social Security didn't work, Clinton's speech sometimes didn't work. It's a tough audience but I think it's...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Yes, Bill Clinton tried the same thing in 1993 with his health care plan, and...

CARVILLE: Right. And Ed is right. Then you've got some people that a lot of the Democrats are against the public option. So then if he says something about we may have to scale that back, he may get very little applause, because he'll get none of the Republicans and maybe only the blue dogs.

I mean, there's danger, but one thing, you know, is certain. Given the trajectory of where it is, it's not going very well. So when that happens, I completely agree. I think these guys have given this a lot more thought than we give them credit for. And I think they got -- I think they have some rabbits they can pull out of this hat.

ROBERTS: Well, we'll see how many rabbits they pull out of the hat on Wednesday night in terms of how detailed will they get in the plan. Let me just play a little piece of sound here. Our Ed Henry interviewed David Axelrod yesterday and asked him just how specific the plan the president will get on Wednesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Will he spell out five, six points, where he -- this is what has to be in the final?

AXELROD: Again, I think it's going to be very, very clear by the time the speech is done that he sees a clear path as to how we can provide stability and security to people who have insurance and how we can help those who don't have insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: How specific do you think he needs to get? Does he need to get there and say, OK, I know there's a bunch of plans in the House and in the Senate, but here's my total blueprint for how to do it.

ROLLINS: I would argue he needs to be -- have a good blueprint and also a cost projection. I mean, one of the big things here is that people are afraid how much this thing is going to cost and they're worried about more trillions of dollars being added to the deficit.

ROBERTS: You know, it's all about insurance reform here too, James. I went and visited the Cleveland Clinic a week ago and the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, which is a model for delivering health care in an efficient fashion says, the debate's getting off track. We can talk about insurance reform, but also, we really need to talk about cost containment and how to keep Americans healthy.

CARVILLE: Yes. I think the president is going to talk about that, at least I hope he does, and a number of bankruptcies. What the current system is costing us. And that's the public's big objection and big concern here.

And I think the guy at the Cleveland Clinic is exactly right. If it's just insurance regulations, we're sort of kind of losing that. And I think the important thing for the president to do is lay out his principles or whatever, be sure that you don't lay out one you're going to violate (INAUDIBLE) give yourself a little wiggle room (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

ROLLINS: You also have to -- you also have to reassure those on Medicare that they're going to be safe. That they're not going to, basically, lose some of the benefits they have today.

CARVILLE: Yes.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll see what he has to say a week from last night. James...

CARVILLE: The Super Bowl...

ROBERTS: Hope to see you in early February 2013. It's going to be a great party. OK, thanks so much.

ROLLINS: At your house.

ROBERTS: Yes. That will be just one of the venues. Bigger ones to come, too.

We know that you have lots of questions about health care reform. We're helping you to sort out fact from fiction, putting all the answers online -- just head to CNN.com/healthcare. Kiran?

CHETRY: Do not let him leave without promising at least two tickets.

ROBERTS: Well, or at least entrees at the party at the Carville/Matalin home.

(LAUGHTER)

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: That will be the party of the Super Bowl, I think.

CHETRY: I'll bring the jambalaya, yes?

ROBERTS: Yes. You don't need to, they got something.

CHETRY: All right. Well, it's -- coming up -- 19 minutes past the hour -- we have some photos that ended up costing security guards their job, sleeping on the job at the G.W. Bridge. What does it say about security as we mark yet another September 11th in the wake of what happened there? Are we being too lax years down the road?

Nineteen minutes after the hour.

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CHETRY: What you mean do a bad, bad thing? Did they?

Christine Romans is "Minding Your Business" this morning. She joins us now.

So if you have one of those big mortgages and pay a lot of mortgage interest, I don't know anybody like that, you could be a bigger target for the IRS?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, because -- this is really interesting. The IRS is going to start mining that mortgage information, how much your payments, mortgage payments, mortgage interest, income data -- and your income data to compare them and see -- hmm, you know, Joe says he made $50,000 last year, but he's paying $20,000-plus in mortgage interest. How could that be?

ROBERTS: Looking for hidden income.

ROMANS: They're looking for hidden income. They did an audit of tax returns for 2005 and they found tens of thousands of homeowners who were paying $20,000 or more in mortgage interest and were not -- did not have sufficient income to cover that kind of a mortgage. Think of the small business owners...

CHETRY: Yes, but they got loans.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: ... who were working with a lot of cash, got a lot of cash coming through, and maybe there are some unreported income. Overall, tax cheats cost the IRS $1.4 billion. We know...

ROBERTS: That's all?

ROMANS: ... the tax returns, tax refunds are down very, very sharply. All these tax cheats, very big (INAUDIBLE).

CHETRY: Well, let me -- can I ask you one question? There are people who got loans that they probably couldn't afford with their income too, right? But you're saying they're paying...

ROMANS: This was data from 2005. So, it's before all these mass layoffs. It's really before the peak of some of these big -- so they're going to look to see if you're living in a big, big house with a big, big mortgage and if you don't have big, big income, they think there might be something wrong here and they think that they could get -- there could be a lot of people that they get doing this.

I'm trying to think one of the drawbacks, because we all like the idea of people who are underreporting or not reporting their income. We kind of like the idea of them having to, you know, fess up and pay Uncle Sam that some of us do, right?

CHETRY: Right.

ROMANS: But there could be -- I think, technically, there could be people who maybe lost a job and now they're digging into their savings so that they could pay their mortgage. But, then you have nothing to worry about if you're audited or whatever, right, if you can prove all of this. But there are, they say, thousands -- tens of thousands of people out there who are underreporting their income or not even filing -- not even filing -- but they're paying 20 grand or more a year in mortgage interest.

ROBERTS: You know, there's a big difference too between tax avoidance, which is legally lowering your tax burden to the extent that you can, and tax evasion.

ROMANS: Yes, and underreporting. And, you know, a couple of the people who have been following this are saying, look, for small businesses, roofers, contractors, people who a lot of cash business and maybe over the years have been just, you know, shoveling their pockets but they live in a great, big house, the IRS can find out.

ROBERTS: OK. We've got "Romans Numeral" now. Every day, Christine gives us a story, a number that's driving the story about your money. And so, what have you got for us today?

ROMANS: I got 103 and 103 days. And this is meant to put in perspective, you know, why, when other people aren't paying taxes, why it kind of irritates the rest of us?

CHETRY: This is how many, this is -- out of 365 days, you have to get through 103 before you are settle up with Uncle Sam.

ROMANS: There you go. For all of your different tax burdens, 103 days, that's according...

ROBERTS: All of your different tax burdens?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Yes, that's everything. That's everything you could think of. That's according to the Tax Foundation, 103 days.

ROBERTS: So, tax freedom day, as it's called, comes on day 104. And we know there's no tax freedom day, because you split it over the course of a year.

ROMANS: Don't get that technical.

ROBERTS: Yes. Give us a break of them.

Christine Romans is "Minding Your Business" this morning, thanks so much.

When it comes to school, how much sex education is too much and what type of sex education should it be? Carol Costello is tackling that as our "Educating America" series continues right after the break.

It's 25 minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Congress has scrapped a lot of funding for abstinence-only sex education in schools. And while some are happy with the changes, critics are worried that teachers are telling your kids too much about the facts of life.

Our Carol Costello joins us live from Washington with the latest installment in our series, "Educating America."

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

It's sort of like going from zero to 100 miles per hour in one school year. School districts, like some in North Carolina, have not taught kids about how to use birth control or how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, and now, they're trying to come up with a more comprehensive sex education class. It's challenging.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): For more than 10 years, it was a law in North Carolina. State House bill 834 required teachers to tell teenagers they were expected to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage. But the law didn't have the lasting effect on teenagers officials had hoped.

(on camera): What has happened to the teenage population in North Carolina?

COLLEEN BRIDGER, GASTON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: They've gotten pregnant more often. Imagine that. Our STD rates are going up, our pregnancy rates are going up.

COSTELLO (voice-over): According to North Carolina's health department, from 2003 to 2007, the teen pregnancy rate rose more than 12 percent. North Carolina now has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't give them all the information they might need.

COSTELLO: These young men and women lobbied lawmakers to allow teachers to tell high school students about contraception. They decided to do that because of their experiences in abstinence-only classes in high school.

GABRIELLA MAGALLANES, STUDENT: I remember sitting in my class, among my peers and hearing my teacher say, you know, abstinence only, wait to have sex until you get married, you know, condoms won't work. If you have sex, you're going to get an STD and die.

COSTELLO (on camera): Wait! She said you're going to get an STD and die if you have sex?

MAGALLANES: Ultimately. And when kids hear that, they shut their ears off. They just stop listening.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Jere Royall, an advocate of abstinence- only education, says the key is to get the truth out. He says if taught properly, abstinence-only is the best sex education.

JERE ROYALL, NORTH CAROLINA FAMILY POLICY COUNCIL: They need to understand that sexuality is an important part of life, but what they also need to understand is that what the possible consequences are if they engage in sexual activity outside of marriage.

COSTELLO: In the end, lawmakers listened to both sides. They amended the original law to allow teachers to first instruct students about abstinence and then about what they can do if they decide to have sex.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, what I'd like to accomplish...

COSTELLO: It's a challenge health officials are willing to take on.

BRIDGER: The starting point is getting people comfortable transitioning from saying, "We expect you not to have sex, but if you do, here are some things to do to protect yourself. Here are some things to do to reduce your risk."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: The new curriculum will go into effect in the 2010 school year. The University of North Carolina, by the way, did a study on how many parents want their children to learn about condoms -- as in, how do you put a condom on and birth control pills, as in, how do you use birth control and how to prevent STDs. Ninety-one percent of parents in North Carolina said, "Yes, teach my kids about those things." Still, that leaves 8 percent of parents who don't want their kids to learn about such things in school.

That's why abstinence will still be an important part of sex education in North Carolina and why students will be allowed to opt out of sex-ed if they wish -- John?

ROBERTS: The bottom line, I guess, Carol, it's all about making good choices.

COSTELLO: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.

ROBERTS: I said, bottom line, it's all about making good choices.

COSTELLO: Good choices. And to do that, health officials in North Carolina says kids need information. They're seeing all of these sexual images on television.

And you know, sex looks fun on TV, frankly, and they need to be told the truth about sex. And so health officials in North Carolina are going to try to do that in a responsible way that parents will be all for.

ROBERTS: Carol Costello this morning. Carol, thanks so much.

We want to know what you think. Are kids learning too much or not enough when it comes to sex? Leave a comment on our blog at CNN.com/amfix.

And tomorrow, our "Educating America" series continues. Carol is looking into the seedy side of things, the business of buying and selling counterfeit essays and reports. Why do the homework yourself when the web can do it for you? That's tomorrow right here on the most news in the morning.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, it's 32 minutes past the hour. We'll be checking our top stories now.

After running from the flames for days, there are now more people able to return home north of Los Angeles this morning. The station fire is now burning into more remote areas of the Angeles National Forest. Firefighters say the containment is at 28 percent. That's up from 22 percent yesterday.

They're still worried, though, that the blaze could spread to communities like Pasadena and Arcadia. So far at least 64 homes have been destroyed.

ROBERTS: Dodging disaster. Once a powerful category four hurricane Jimena has now been downgraded to a tropical storm. After slamming into Baja, California in Mexico, the storm is now moving north along the peninsula's eastern coast, and officials say aside from some torn-off rooms and downed trees and power lines, Jimena really hasn't done all that much damage.

CHETRY: And also, man overboard. A cruise ship passenger rescued from the ocean by another cruise line. It sounds unbelievable that he was able to tread water for more than an hour, according to the Coast Guard.

He fell off a Carnival cruise ship off the coast of Florida at 11:00 last night, then he was rescued by a Disney ship after midnight.

That's unbelievable. You fall in the ocean in the dead of night.

Anyway, he is said to be in good condition. Now he says he wants off the Disney ship and back on his Carnival cruise. Aren't you just happy you're alive, for goodness sake!

(LAUGHTER)

You fell off a cruise ship! "This whole Disney thing is not for me, I can I get back up to the lido (ph) deck."

ROBERTS: Guess he didn't want to go to Disneyland, after all.

CHETRY: Well, congratulations for that Disney ship getting him.

The whistle has been blown, the ax has fallen now on two guards. They were fired after not doing what they were supposed to do, which is to protect George Washington's Bridge.

This bridge is considered a prime target for terrorists, and they were caught sleeping on the job.

ROBERTS: And they were caught by a bicyclist who would go by every day and see these guys sleeping, so he decided to do something about it. CNN's Deb Feyerick joins us now. You spoke to the guy who caught him, and you spoke to him in an interesting fashion. You caught up with him in his preferred mode of transportation.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, this wasn't about a guy trying to get even at somebody, but he really saw something that concerned him.

And when it comes to potential terrorism, New York City has a saying, if you see something, say something. And that's exactly what this guy did, going public with safety concerns at one of the busiest bridges in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK (voice-over): Joey Lepore loves riding his bike from New Jersey over the George Washington Bridge into New York's Central Park.

(on camera): You take this path every day?

JOEY LEPORE, OWNER, NEW YORK BICYCLE TOURS: Pretty much every day.

FEYERICK (voice-over): It was on one those rides across the bridge Lepore looked over at a security booth and saw something that alarmed him.

LEPORE: I saw a guy sleeping, and I thought, this is crazy that the guy's sleeping on duty.

FEYERICK: And he says it happened not once, but three times.

LEPORE: I got totally outraged. And I said, you know what, I'm taking a picture of this.

FEYERICK: Which he did, walking straight up to the security booth.

LEPORE: Imagine if I was a terrorist. Imagine if I had a gun in my hand. I could have opened up his door and blew his head right off. That's how close I was.

FEYERICK: Months before going public, Lepore says he reached out to the security guard. LEPORE: I said, you know, I don't want to be a jerk and report this, but you got to promise me that you're not going to be sleeping while you're supposed to be guarding a bridge.

He said, no, no, no, it won't ever happen again, don't worry.

FEYERICK: But when it did, with another guard, Lepore felt there was a bigger problem.

LEPORE: If this guy worked in a deli and was sleeping behind the counter, I wouldn't care. But when you're protecting us and it's your job to have an eye out for anything that's potentially hazardous for us, our safety, then I take that very seriously.

FEYERICK: The port authority which runs the bridges says both guards have been fired for sleeping on the job. In a statement to CNN, the agency says it welcomes public vigilance and that "The port authority takes the safety of its passengers and facilities very seriously and has spent more than $4 billion on security since 9/11."

Although he feels badly about the firings, Lepore still feels he did the right thing, especially because a cousin and friend died on 9/11.

LEPORE: If I can do one thing to help one person stay alive, then I'll be very, very fulfilled for that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: Neither the port authority nor the contractor that hired the security guards would release the names of the two men in those photos so we were unable to reach them directly -- John?

ROBERTS: And you know, one of our floor managers, Pete over here, comes across the bridge every morning and said when he drove by, there were the security guards standing at attention outside their booths.

FEYERICK: You better believe it.

ROBERTS: And that was at, what, 2:30 in the morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CHETRY: Pete wasn't awake, but the security guards were. He's on auto drive.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: Good story, Deborah. There's nothing like meeting a man in his element, no question about that.

Coming up next on the most news in the morning, we're introduce you to the MOAWB, the mother of all water bombers. Rob Marciano has the story of this enormous aircraft that can lay down two swimming pools of water in one run. It's 37 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

So, a couple buys a little bed and breakfast, but in a bad economy, their bookings start to plunge. In this "Money and Main Street" report, our Gerri Willis shows how a new performing venue in town may have just saved their inn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: At the heart of Litchfield County, Connecticut, are its bed and breakfasts, like the one Dean and Jean Marie Johnson bought in the town of Norfolk bought five years ago. At the time, it seemed like a cash cow. But last year, along with the economy, bookings dropped off even steeper than the national average of 7.3 percent.

JEAN MARIE JOHNSON, OWNER, MOUNTAIN VIEW INN: We were down about 20, 25 percent overall in terms of bookings, and that was really a reflection of the economy, people holding back on discretionary spending.

This year it started out fairly weak. The bad weather, the wet spring, the wet season didn't help.

WILLIS: But help was on the way. This is the first summer of the Infinity Music Hall and Bistro, a newly refurbished public music venue in town making Norfolk an overnight destination.

KIM YAFFA, ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTOR, INFINITY MUSIC HALL: I think that it's becoming a destination for people. I know the inns are filling up. I know the restaurant is busy. The restaurant next door is busy. So I'm sure we're making an impact.

WILLIS: It's an impact the Johnsons are starting to feel, but not enough of one to sit back and relax. Dean and Jean Marie are taking all possible steps to bring overnight visitors in the door.

DEAN JOHNSON, OWNER, MOUNTAIN VIEW INN: We can call this our budget room, but actually a lot of people find it. It's small, it's intimate, and it's a lot less expensive than some of the other rooms.

WILLIS (on camera): What's the price differential?

D. JOHNSON: The price here is about maybe $100 less than some of the more expensive rooms down the hall.

WILLIS (voice-over): These days, budget means bookable. The Johnsons see more guests in this room than any other and they're willing to negotiate.

J. JOHNSON: Given the fact that people are stretched and more concerned about their discretionary funds, we're much, much more flexible. So if someone says, we can only stay one night, we almost always accommodate them for that one-night stay.

WILLIS: And one-night stays are on the rise, in part thanks to Infinity -- 200 scheduled shows, sold-out performances, and big-name bands have meant needed bookings for Mountain View Inn.

D. JOHNSON: I think it's probably added maybe 20 percent more than we would have had previously.

WILLIS: And for the remainder of the summer season --

D. JOHNSON: We're pretty much sold out every weekend.

WILLIS: Gerri Willis, CNN, Norfolk, Connecticut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: For more stories of people thriving in a tough economy, watch for more "Money and Main Street" reports tonight at 8:00 eastern right here on CNN.

Plus, get tips on how businesses, even competitors, are working together to survive in this rough economy. Head to CNN.com/moneyandmainstreet. And while you're there, test your financial health. Plug in your age and salary and hold up you're saving and spending, and see how you score.

CHETRY: You called it the MOAWB, Rob's calling it the "Big Kahuna." It's this 747 that really is a key, key weapon in the arsenal against fighting fires. Listen to that. It can hold so much fire retardant, so much foam, it can really make a dent in the firefighting. He's going to take us inside when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, they are hoping it rains with what's going on in Los Angeles right now. Firefighters could use a little bit of help from Mother Nature.

It's 46 minutes past the hour right now, and they are gaining some ground on the station fire. It's about 28 percent contained. They say that, actually, as we head into the morning, it's going to be almost 50 percent contained.

And that's thanks in part to a critical weapon in beating back the flames, a steady stream of air attacks. And this includes the biggest plane in their arsenal. It's a 747. Rob Marciano is live in Sacramento with a look at the supertanker.

It's amazing, because we were talking about 28, 30 percent containment. Now they say that by the end of the morning, it could but to 50 percent. And this could be one of the big reasons why.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's certainly a big reason that they've made an advancement. Of course, they've got a whole team of firefighters, all sorts of aircraft that are beating back this fire.

But this thing, I'll tell you what, I've never been on the upper deck of a 747 and this is no ordinary 747. They've got it retrofitted with all sorts of gadgets in this cockpit. And I tell you what, as far as firefighting, it's taken the game to a whole new level.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: Fighting the fire from the air -- choppers, turbo props, even jets. But this is the Big Kahuna.

CAPT. CLIFF HALE, EVERGREEN SUPERTANKER: We have more excess horsepower than any tanker out there.

MARCIANO: Captain Cliff Hale hit the California wildfires hard this week flying this modified 747 supertanker right into the fire zone.

HALE: He arms it, and that gives me control up here or the other pilot as well. We have a drop button here on the switch.

MARCIANO: Flying low at 300 feet, Captain Hale has to focus on his target.

MARCIANO (on camera): You have to be a pilot and a bit of a marksman. How good a shot are you?

HALE: Pretty good at this point.

MARCIANO (voice-over): A touch of pilot bravado, but at his core, he's a firefighter.

HALE: To me it's all of the pilots that are doing this are just like the regular firefighters that you see anywhere. It's just we do it in air.

MARCIANO: But nothing compares to this jumbo jet.

MARCIANO (on camera): If you were a passenger on a 747, this is where you would be sitting. Instead, on this plane they have ten tanks carrying 20,000 gallons of fire retardant and/or foam, 90 tons of firefighting artillery.

MARCIANO (voice-over): And these cannons also have control.

MIKE HARKNESS, EVERGREEN SUPERTANKER: They can meter it to any distance and any thickness that the firefighters on the ground want.

MARCIANO: Adjustable power and precision which reduces wasted ammunition.

MARCIANO (on camera): This stuff is not cheap.

HARKNESS: It's not. It will run from $2 to $3 a gallon.

MARCIANO (voice-over): All of this unleashed in the back of the plane.

MARCIANO (on camera): Some fancy looking bomb bay doors.

HARKNESS: These are the exhaust ports for the retardant. And the flight engineer is going to choose the proper air pressure and number of exhaust ports to vary the concentration depending on what the firefighters on the ground need.

MARCIANO (voice-over): On the ground or in the air, it's one big team.

HALE: All of the guys that do this are the best and it's an honor to be a part of that group.

MARCIANO: No doubt this massive supertanker is a welcome weapon in the war against wildfires.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: Right now, you're looking at some of the modern weaponry, at least the gages inside this old 747. LCD screens there showing you some of the pressure within those tanks that they released down on to the fires.

Ninety-nine percent of the time it's the captain who's driving it and giving the order. He locks it in there, engages the weaponry, and then he goes to his yolk, takes aim, and on the left side of this yolk is the release button. Just like any sort of old-time bombardier would be doing.

He is though with this type of operation flying at 300 feet, you need good visibility. That's the think they've struggled with the past couple of days. The first two days they hit it real hard. It was their inaugural mission here in the lower 48 and it was a grand success. They're hoping to get back up today if visibility clears.

The other issue, though, John and Kiran, is cost. Just to rent this thing is $30,000 an hour. That doesn't include that fire retardant, which is like $2.50 a gallon, and it doesn't include fuel either.

So it's a costly endeavor, but just can just imagine the amount of square footage this thing can cover when it makes some of these drops outside in front of the fire line.

ROBERTS: What's the turnaround time there, Rob? I've flown with helicopter crews, and they can do runs every three, four minutes. They just keep on dropping the bucket into the water, bring it out and drop it on something. Would I expect it's probably a couple of hours for that plane?

MARCIANO: It is a couple of hours, but when they go on standby like they are now right now, this thing is pretty ready to go, and they can take off in 20 minutes.

So once they are hired by the guys fighting the fire, they are on standby for the duration, a minimum of five days. And during that five-day stretch, if they're not doing a quick turnaround, they have to have this thing gassed up and loaded up with fuel retardant and have those pilots ready to go at the drop of the hat.

They rest in the night. They don't fly this at night, obviously. They need good visibility, and that includes daylight. So the turnaround time is quite lengthy if they're coming to make more than one route.

So far, the routes that they've done, the missions they have done have been one and done, one and back, and those typically take an hour and a half to two hours from Sacramento to the Los Angeles fires.

CHETRY: Wow, pretty neat. It's amazing they're able to do that and have that capability and the precision, also. So it certainly put a dent in, as you said. Rob, thank you.

Just this morning, they've now said it's 50 percent contained. They still have a long way to go, but making some progress.

ROBERTS: They are making headway, which is a good thing.

It's 51.5 minutes after the hour. Coming up next, Randi Kaye walks us through the preparations for Michael Jackson's internment at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning.

It has been ten weeks now since Michael Jackson died suddenly at his home in Los Angeles.

CHETRY: Ten weeks. And now, tonight, finally, the pop icon's body will be laid to rest. Our Randi Kaye has details for us from Los Angeles this morning.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Kiran.

Michael Jackson is finally going to be laid to rest in a private burial service tonight at 10:00 eastern at the great mausoleum at Forest Lawn Glendale Memorial Park.

Very few details coming out, but I can tell you that Gladys Knight will be performing during that service. The media won't be allowed inside. We'll actually be outside the main gate, which I'm told is the largest wrought iron gate in the world.

A production crew will be inside, taking video of arrivals. We'll have some of that for you. We won't have any aerials, because it's a no-fly zone overhead.

Regarding the mausoleum, it has 20-foot archways, lots of marble, it's 11 levels, plenty of mazes inside as well. Jackson's crypt is supposed to be directly under a massive stain glass window called "The Last Supper" window. There are pictures of it on Forest Lawn's Web site.

And "The Last Supper Window" is actually a recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece. It's really something to see.

And it's interesting, because Michael Jackson had actually reportedly commissioned his own "Last Supper" painting which he hung over his bed at Neverland ranch.

Most of the mausoleum requires a pass key to get around. There's very tight security there. Visitors can see the "Last Supper" short film, but that's about as far as they can go.

We interviewed a man who'd been inside the mausoleum, and he told me there were guards everywhere, gate keepers -- he actually called them "crypt keepers." He said those are the folks who keep people who shouldn't be going inside from going inside. He said there are plenty of security cameras around as well.

Overall, just a few facts here, Forest Lawn is 300 acres. A quarter of a million people are buried there, including many celebrities, including Michael Jackson's very good friend, Sammy Davis JR. Along with him, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Walt Disney, George Burns, Gracy Allen just to name a few.

But if you go there, don't expect to find the celebrities' graves, because Forest Lawn does not provide a map of celebrities' graves because they don't want a lot of star-struck visitors. They probably won't be able to avoid them now that Michael Jackson will be buried there because a lot of his fans are probably not ready to let him rest in peace.

John, Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: Randi Kaye this morning.

And CNN will have special coverage of Jackson's burial tonight on "A.C. 360," live from the Forest Lawn Cemetery. That's tonight, 10:00 p.m., 7:00 pacific, only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

It will be the battle of the discount airlines and you can hopefully win -- $19 fares are back, for a while at least. The competition is heating up between the low-cost carriers. And JetBlue has announced $19 one-way fares for the Boston to Baltimore-Washignton International Airport, so Boston to BWI.

But the fares won't last. The tickets have to be purchased by the end of the day today.

ROBERTS: There you go, so hurry up.

And Southwest Airlines, by the way, announced a new fee called priority boarding. This is when you have a choice of paying. For $10 extra, you can move up in line, because unlike most other airlines, Southwest doesn't have assigned seating. So, you pay your ten bucks and you get the seat of your choice.

The airline anticipates the new fee could result in tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue.

What's next, TSA going to charge you to go through security? Come on.

CHETRY: They just know what, you know, you need to get done when you're in the airport and find ways to charge you for it.

ROBERTS: There's going to be a little dollar slot to use the restroom pretty soon.

CHETRY: Don't say it. They'll start doing it.

That's it for us today. Continue the conversation on any of the stories you've seen by going to our blog, CNN.com/amfix, and hopefully we'll see you back tomorrow.

ROBERTS: All right, and we will be there. Thanks for joining us today.

Right now the news continues with Fredricka Whitfield in the "CNN NEWSROOM."

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