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AMERICAN MORNING

New Security Framework For Air Travel; Northeast Flooding Continued; School Officials Under Fire for Teen Suicide; "Everything's Floating"; End to Job Losses?; "Climategate" Investigation

Aired April 2, 2010 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good Friday morning to you. It is Good Friday, it's April 2nd. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. I'm John Roberts

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us. We have a lot of big stories we're telling you about in the next 15 mintues.

First, the Obama administration is set to announce new security procedures for airline passengers. Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is working the story. We're going to tell you who's affected and when you'll see the changes at your airport.

ROBERTS: Bombarded by hate mail and calls to resign. A Massachusetts school superintendent fires back, challenging the district attorney's claims that he and his staff did not do enough to stop the bullying that allegedly drove 15-year-old Phoebe Prince to commit suicide. The head of the district goes one-on-one with our Alina Cho, just ahead.

CHETRY: And health dangers now lurking in New England flood waters. The levels are going down in Rhode Island, but in some basements and living rooms, everything has to go. We're live with a very messy cleanup in one of the hardest hit areas.

And of course the "A.M. Fix" blog is up and running as well. Go to CNN.com/amfix. We'll be reading your comments throughout the morning.

ROBERTS: We begin this morning with a CNN security watch. Wide- reaching new airport security measures being unveiled today by the department of Homeland Security. Passengers on flights heading into the United States could now face a new level of screening if they fit a certain profile and there is a certain risk that is apparent.

Jeanne Meserve is live in Washington this morning with the breaking details. So Jeanne, what does all of this look like now?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, these new measures will apply to people flying into the U.S. from other countries. The concept is to use intelligence more effectively to filter people who may pose a threat.

The plan, which will be unveiled later today, is intended to stop passengers if they match certain pieces of known intelligence. Screening will be based not on nationality but personality traits and pieces of information like where someone has traveled, their age, maybe a partial name.

A senior administration official says the U.S. began notifying air carriers and other countries about the new protocols yesterday and implementation starts today.

You will remember that a review of the Christmas Day bombing attempt showed the U.S. had failed to put together certain key nuggets of intelligence that might have stopped Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

This system is intended to prevent those kind of lapses and replaces a much broader approach put in place after Christmas day which mandated additional screening from people from 14 specific country believed to have a nexus to terrorism.

That system was criticized as being overly broad, but the new one may raise concerns about racial profiling and will only be as good as the intelligence. We'll learn more detail later today, John.

ROBERTS: So who is going to be implementing all of this, Jeanne, and will foreign airports be nimble enough to react to day to day changes in security threats?

MESERVE: That's a real question, but it is going to be up to foreign governments and the airlines to look at people with the intelligence the U.S. has provided to them.

Of course, the U.S. is limited in what can it do overseas, these are sovereign countries. But it does have one stick it could wield. If an airline doesn't seem to be implementing what the U.S. wants them to in terms of security, the U.S. can put restrictions on the flights into the U.S. So they'll be trying to use that to prod them along.

I should add this follows months and months of negotiations by the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, traveling around the world discussing with her foreign counterparts how the world can strengthen aviation security.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Meserve for this morning on security watch, thanks.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, there are new developments this morning in the suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince. The superintendent of the Massachusetts school district where the little girl was allegedly bullied to death is now challenging claims by the district attorney that his staff didn't act quickly enough to save her or at least prevent the bullying that tormented her.

Alina Cho has just returned from South Hadley, and a lot of people are determined to hold someone accountable for this. Gus Sayer is the man in charge. What's he saying?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sad part about this is there is so much finger-pointing going on. The town is split and people are choosing sides. But in the end it will not bring Phoebe Prince back.

All of this we've been hearing from parents and others who are just outraged, who have been calling for Superintendent Sayer and the principal to resign, saying if they had done more to stop the bullying, maybe Phoebe Prince would be alive today. Now Sayer is speaking out and addressing his critics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUS SAYER, SUPERINTENDENT, SOUTH HADLEY HIGH SCHOOLS: I have anonymous e-mails that I'm getting from all over the country, OK. Mostly they're disgusting. Mostly they are things like "you administrators should burn in hell," and stuff like that. And even worse -- that's a mild one.

CHO: How do you react?

SAYER: I try to ignore them.

CHO: Ever since the D.A. announced charges against South Hadley high school students, classmates who prosecutors say bullied 15-year- old Phoebe Prince and drove her to kill herself, the community has been desperate for accountability. Who's to blame?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is al. I want to make a statement. I think the administrators should be held accountable for what's going on.

CHO: Some say Principal Dan Smith and Superintendent Gus Sayer should resign because critics say they knew about the bullying Phoebe Prince endured and did nothing to stop it.

The D.A. was pretty harsh in her assessment of what happened. Do you agree with her assessment?

SAYER: No, I don't agree with that assessment.

CHO: Gus Sayer says contrary to what the D.A. is saying, school officials did intervene in the Prince case, he says as soon as they were tipped off. The first hint, he says, was not months before Phoebe Prince died, as some suggested, but exactly one week before she committed suicide.

SAYER: One involved one girl walking into a classroom and calling Phoebe an Irish slut right in the front of the classroom. That girl was brought to the principal's office immediately, and she was disciplined by the principal.

CHO: But he did not elaborate on what action was taken. Parents say the bullying went on in plain view of faculty for much longer than one week, harassment so severe it drove a 15-year-old girl on January 14th to hang herself in the stairwell of her home.

SAYER: Phoebe didn't reveal to people what she was being subjected to, and unfortunately, until January 7th, we were not aware of what she was being subjected to. So it was very little way we could have intervened in the bullying that took place.

Do I wish that we had known more about what was going on with Phoebe? Of course I do.

CHO: In a statement to CNN, the D.A. said, "I do not intend to address Superintendent Sayer's assertions point by point. I will, however, say that Mr. Sayer does not have access to our investigative materials. Therefore, he can't have a basis for some of his comments."

Sayer says if anyone needs proof, this is it -- all of students charged in this case have either been suspended or expelled. As for his future.

SAYER: I work for the school committee here, and if they believe I should resign, they will tell me so. I'm not going to fight them over that.

CHO: Have they been supportive?

SAYER: Very supportive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: Sayer says the principal Dan Smith also has no plans to resign. He says they really have a lot of work to do. Administrators created an anti-bullying committee. Sayer says he plans to focus on programs designed to teach civil behavior and teach kids about the dangers of bullying.

And if you think about it, these are the types of things that a generation ago or less than that parents were teaching. And so a lot of questions are being raised about that. Where were the parents in all of this? And why aren't they being held accountable?

We've been trying to reach them, but so far they are not speaking out.

CHETRY: Has there been a change in attitude among the students? That's where it started, and that's were things need to change.

CHO: You sense that people -- students are definitely struck by what happened. They're extremely sad about what happened. Will things change?

It's hard to say. A lot of people in the community say there is a culture of bullying, and that really it's been going on for generations. You talk to parents, and parents say we've been complaining for years about this, and it's fallen on deaf ears.

ROBERTS: All you have to do is look at the defacement of her Facebook memorial pages to know it's still going on.

CHO: That's right.

ROBERTS: Alino Cho for us this morning, thanks so much. Other stories new this morning -- Mexico is asking for more cooperation from the United States to deal with violence along the border. It's a response to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson ordering National Guard troops to protect his side of the border.

CHETRY: Also a heart-stopping landing for 244 people aboard a Qantas flight in Sydney, Australia. Two tires were damaged and may have exploded on impact. This video seems to show a fire under the left wing. Qantas says passengers were never danger.

ROBERTS: A small ultra-light plane landed in a tree outside Philadelphia. The pilot was OK and alert and moving afterwards. Our affiliate WPBI tells us the man actually takes off and lands the plane from his backyard, but the tree thing is totally new for him.

CHETRY: The lawyer for Michael Jackson's former doctor says his client is "hanging by a thread financially" and will not be able to pay for his defense if his medical license is revoked. Conrad Murray has admitted in court that he gave Jackson the powerful aesthetic Propofol to help him sleep.

ROBERTS: Car buyers have responded in a big way to incentives by Toyota despite recalls involving more than eight million cars. The automaker's sales shot up 41 percent last month. Buyers are finding it hard to resist zero percent financing for five years.

CHETRY: The tech reviews are out on the iPad, a day from the launch. Is it a lot of hype or a game changer for the tech giant? We'll talk with Eric Hessedahl, a senior technology reporter for Businessweek.com. He had a chance to take it for a test ride and he lets us know what's great and what can use a little work.

(WEATHER BREAK)

CHETRY: At 6:20 eastern, a new jobs report said to come out this morning, and the hopes are that more jobs were created. But does it mean unemployment overall is coming down? Christine Romans will be breaking it down.

ROBERTS: And at 6:25, a ruling on the climate-gate scandal that had global warming conspiracy theorists on the offensive. Is the debate over or is there still some distance to go?

It's 12 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Fifteen minutes now after the hour.

Parts of Rhode Island still very dangerous this morning. The water is finally beginning to go down after three days of torrential rains and record flooding, but health officials are warning that the filth left behind could make people sick.

CHETRY: Now, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is going to be visiting the state later today. She's going to be surveying the flood damage and talking to local leaders.

Our Alan Chernoff is live for us in Warwick, Rhode Island this morning, and tell us about what the concerns are, the biggest concerns, now that we've seen some of the water recede.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, certainly the water that I'm standing in is absolutely filthy. You can see little bit of droplets of oil here, and as -- as you know, the sewage systems around here have not been working. People had been told not to flush their toilets, so certainly there's a lot of gook and junk left.

But at least the waters have receded dramatically, and come with me over here. You can see leaves, branches, captured by the flood. So the water had been this high, encompassing the entire region. But now, fortunately, it has receded dramatically. But, in its wake, boy, the damage left is simply awful.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Richard Nelson's prized possession, his classic sports cars, are water logged after his garage filled up like an aquarium.

RICHARD NELSON, FLOOD VICTIM: It's just a heartache to see it, stuck in a garage with the water where it was, and you couldn't do anything about it.

CHERNOFF: Nelson has lived in this Warwick, Rhode Island home his whole life -- 68 years.

NELSON: The cleanup part, that's the devastating part. How do you do it? Where do you -- where do you go from here?

CHERNOFF: Cleaning up is especially difficult because the local sewage treatment plant is flooded, meaning the floodwater is filthy.

CHERNOFF (on camera): I've got at least a foot and a half here, and everything is floating. The entire place.

Look at this. Furniture, cabinets, exercise equipment.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Ronnie Dugan's basement is packed with floating possessions since she was in the middle of renovating her home, but she has no flood insurance.

RONNIE DUGGAN, FLOOD VICTIM: The whole time I've lived here, in 24 years, never even had water in my basement. Not even --

CHERNOFF (on camera): Wow (ph).

DUGGAN: -- not even two weeks ago. So this is the first time ever, so this is pretty amazing. You know, it was up to my top step, so there's probably about 7 feet.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): And in Oscar Vargas' basement, the infrastructure of his home heating system, furnace, oil tank and water heater are all destroyed. But even worse, he says, is the loss of sentimental items.

CHERNOFF (on camera): What did you have here?

OSCAR VARGAS, FLOOD VICTIM: A lot of stuff. A lot of memories. A lot of memories I have here. I got my wedding pictures -- everything's soaked in water. It is gone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: It's very sad. The loss of -- the loss of those memories in the basement is really what hurts the most for some of these people.

Now, Uncle Sam is actually going to give a little bit of a break to the residents here. Because this area has been declared a national disaster area, the losses are actually tax deductible and the IRS is giving Rhode Islanders an extra month to file their taxes. But good luck drying out those tax forms -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Allan Chernoff for us this morning, Warwick, Rhode Island. Allan, thanks for that look at that.

A very big jobs report is due out this morning. This one is one that people are anxiously anticipating because it could show things beginning to turn around.

Our Christine Romans, "Minding Your Business", here with a preview. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, is this the turning point in the labor market? Is this the turning point after two long years of very painful job losses?

We're going to know in about two hours. I'm going to tell you how long it will take you to feel better about your job and your job prospects in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: There you go. It's Good Friday and we have some kiddies with us today, which is always nice. They get to see how true professionals do their job.

ROBERTS: Yes.

CHETRY: And then they get to watch us as well.

ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely.

CHETRY: Well, Christine Romans is here, "Minding Our Business" this morning. Hey, Christine.

ROMANS: Good morning.

CHETRY: You're talking of that all important job reports coming out in just, what -- two hours and 10 minutes?

ROMANS: Yes. And economists think that this time we're going to show some jobs growth for a few reasons. They think that there might be some pent up hiring after the February snowstorms and the like, and they're thinking that this may be the turnaround.

I mean, the Treasury Secretary earlier this week said that we could be on the verge of sustained jobs growth, but then he also went on to say, but we're very unhappy about -- we're worried about how high the jobless rate could be, because there might not be enough jobs growth to actually bring down the jobless rate.

This is what it looks like since January 2009, all of those bars going down. That's massive, massive job losses. You can see what the trend is. The trend has been slowing.

We saw a little bit of job creation in November, about 4,000 jobs. We did not see any more job creation in December, January and February, and that last bar there is the expectation. We don't know it yet. We'll know in two hours and eight minutes now, but the expectation for what -- what March look like, maybe 180,000 jobs.

So we just -- we don't know yet. Everyone says we're on the cusp of this turnaround. Maybe it happens this week. That's what economists think. Maybe we have to keep waiting.

ROBERTS: But in terms of real job growth, though, because a lot of these jobs may be census jobs --

ROMANS: That's right.

ROBERTS: -- instead of (ph) pent up hiring from February.

ROMANS: Yes.

ROBERTS: How many jobs may actually have been created that will last in the month of March?

ROMANS: Twenty-five to forty thousand is what economists are telling me, and that's not a lot. That can't even possibly put people who are entering the workforce back to work, let alone eat into the jobs that we've lost.

Some of the industries that -- the industry trends that we have seen, we're expected to continue to see over the course of the recession. We've lost manufacturing jobs, construction jobs, information jobs. In some cases you're seeing that blood letting stopped but not necessarily hiring begin.

Where are the jobs? Health care, education, temporary help, and the government. I think you're going to see health, education, temporary help, the government, the census jobs -- temporary hiring in particular we've been watching because that has been -- that has been picking up.

I can tell you that jobs experts have been pointing out -- and workplace experts and recruiters have been telling me, there's a war for talent for the top 10 percent of a lot of different job categories. So some of you out there are starting to see some action, but the top 10 percent still leaves millions of people --

ROBERTS: True.

ROMANS: -- who are trying to get back to work.

CHETRY: What's your Romans' Numeral this hour?

ROMANS: My Romans Numeral is 8.4 million.

CHETRY: This is how many jobs we've shed since the recession?

ROMANS: That's right. It's a lot.

If you gain -- say we have a blockbuster report today. We gave 200,000 jobs -- please, everyone, put it in perspective of how much work we have to do, and this is -- this is one reason why I think the administration has to be very careful of its language as we start to see jobs come back, because there's the realization that there are a lot of people out there. It could take months, years to put everyone back to work.

ROBERTS: Yes, but how long are we seeing -- 54, 56 months?

ROMANS: Fifty-six months. If you create 300,000 jobs a month, it will take 56 months just to get back where we started in 2008.

ROBERTS: Christine Romans this morning, "Minding Your Business".

ROMANS: Sure.

ROBERTS: Thanks so much.

Remember Climategate late last fall, just before the Copenhagen Climate Conference, e-mails from the University of East Anglia suggesting that tricks were being used to manipulate data, hiding certain data?

Well, a parliamentary committee in the U.K. has looked into this. We'll have the results of that coming up next and -- and what it means for the entire debate about global warming, fact or fiction.

Stay with us. It's 25 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: They were the e-mails read around the globe, leaked communications from a scientist, skeptics calling them proof of a conspiracy to mislead the public into believing in global warming.

Now, the first formal investigation into Climategate is over, and breaking down these developments for us this morning in Washington is Michael MacCracken. He's the Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs at the Climate Institute. And in Toronto, Stephen McIntyre. He's the editor of ClimateAudit.org. He's also worked for CGX Energy.

Thanks both for being here this morning.

Michael, let's -- let's start with you. So this parliamentary committee found Phil Jones of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia innocent of any kind of wrongdoing in association with these e-mails. Do you believe that this exonerates Professor Jones? And what does it say about the case for a human component in global warming?

MICHAEL MACCRACKEN, CHIEF SCIENTIST FOR CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMS, THE CLIMATE INSTITUTE: Well, I think the first thing it does is add perspective of the issue. It makes clear that none of the discussion about all of this undermines the -- the many scientific results we have that indicate global warm is occurring and that we have to take sharp -- make sharp cutbacks in emissions in order to limit it.

It did exonerate Phil to a large extent, and that's very important. It also made clear that there are a lot of things that are contributing to global warming. There are still some questions in some aspects of that, but there are questions always (ph) about all sorts of data sets.

ROBERTS: And Stephen McIntyre, how do you take the results of this parliamentary committee?

STEPHEN MCINTYRE, AUTHOR AND EDITOR, CLIMATEAUDIT.ORG: Well, I view it quite differently. First of all, the -- if one looks at what they actually said, they said that it was self-evident that the e- mails have damaged the reputation of -- of U.K. science.

Secondly, they found that there was culture at the university of resisting disclosure of information to people that were perceived as potential critics. They said that if this practice was common in the rest of climate science that it needed to change.

They said that they did not attempt to review the science, nor did they take evidence on the science. They reserved those questions for a science appraisal panel that had been convened by the university.

ROBERTS: Right, and --

MCINTYRE: And on -- on the trick, they said that they did not take comprehensive evidence on that or do a careful investigation --

MACCRACKEN: Let me just lay that out (ph) --

MCINTYRE: They -- let me -- let me finish.

ROBERTS: Yes, go ahead.

MCINTYRE: They said the trick -- they concluded that the trick was a practice of discarding data that was known to be erroneous. But there was no evidence that the tree ring data that was discovered was erroneous.

ROBERTS: Yes, I just want to layout if I could, Steven, for the folks at home, this particular e-mail. You said he used a trick from Michael Mann that was published in "Nature" magazine, a trick to, quote, "hide the decline," between tree ring data and temperature- reading data.

Mike MacCracken, to that point, you just heard what Stephen McIntyre had to say, do you believe that that issue was put to rest?

MICHAEL MACCRACKEN, CHIEF SCIENTIST, CLIMATE INSTITUTE: Well, all data sets have to be examined very carefully and they are valid over certain ranges and in certain conditions. And what was found with the tree rings, they were valuable over a particular period. They were set up to look at a particular period. They didn't seem to work in more recent decades.

That needs to be looked at. There's no question about that. But that's true of all data sets and the adjustments that have to be made to figure out what they're really telling us.

ROBERTS: Stephen McIntyre, you glanced at this briefly. Just expand on it just a little bit. The parliamentary panel was critical of all of climate science for sort of hanging on to data, reiterating the need to put it all out there in the public purview so that other people can look at it.

You are a person who'd filed many, many freedom of information requests to get data out of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Based on this finding by the parliamentary committee, do you now believe you'll be able to get your hands on that data and take a look at it for yourself?

MCINTYRE: Well, I'm more optimistic about it. I haven't -- personally, I haven't filed many, many FOI requests, but I filed some. I hope that this represents a sea change in disclosing information.

In a similar hearing a few years ago in the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, climate scientists took the viewpoint that computer codes were personal intellectual property and not subject to disclosure. And the committee took the position that there is a pressing public interest in climate change and that there needs to be openness and transparency. So, I welcome that.

ROBERTS: Yes, and many scientists will say that if you believe in your data, if you believe in your research, put it out there for everyone to see.

Mike MacCracken, one more question to you. The university, as we mentioned, is commissioned two independent commissions to look at this. Do you have any concern that they may turn up something that could put into question the whole science of climate change?

MACCRACKEN: Well, one looks at how the e-mails came out. But they -- I don't think they'll have anything to do with climate change. I think it's important to say that virtually, all the data and observations were available from their original sources. And if you're going to try to relook at the science and reproduce it, you should go to the original sources.

That's what both NASA and NOAA did. They didn't copy what the University of East Anglia did. They went to the original resources. They got the information. They had their own approaches that they worked with.

And the U.S. policy is, the data should be available and it generally is. So, I mean, I think we're in good shape with respect to the findings, with respect on global change.

ROBERTS: Right. OK. Mike MacCracken and Stephen McIntyre, thanks for joining us this morning to talk more about this. Good to see you both of you. We appreciate your coming in.

MCINTYRE: Thank you, John.

MACCRACKEN: You're welcome.

CHETRY: Well, it's 33 minutes past the hour -- time for a look at your top stories this morning.

President Obama is offering as much federal help as necessary to deal with record flooding in the soggy, filthy cleanup in Rhode Island. He skipped the state during a swing through New England yesterday, but did call the governor -- on the governor to pledge his support. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also scheduled to tour the flood areas today.

A really, really bad time for the RNC to make a mistake like this. The Republican National Committee is now facing questions about why a number on a fundraising mailer was actually a sex hotline -- a phone sex hotline. RNC spokesperson -- yes, bend over head, I mean like -- I mean, never mind. What I meant was put your head down -- anyway -- and slap your hand to your forehead, which I'm doing right now.

Some conservatives are distancing themselves from the party for picking up the $2,000 tab at the Hollywood strip club.

Well, a sign that a better maybe coming for all of us. A key jobs report is going to be released in just two hours. Analysts are hoping and say they believe that the economy will likely add jobs for only the second time since the recession began.

I meant like, you know, like this --

ROBERTS: We know what you meant.

Now to politics. And the rest of this week, both real and imagine, delivering the pitch right into John Avlon's wingnut wheel house.

CHETRY: Yes, the fringe elements at both ends of the political spectrum earning a dubious honor here on CNN every Friday. "Wingnuts of Week" -- John Avlon chooses them. He's a CNN contributor and he joins us this morning.

Hey there.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

CHETRY: You had lots of rightful through this week, it seems.

AVLON: A lot -- a lot of wingnuts to work through. That's right.

CHETRY: So, let's start with wingnuts on the left this week. You're calling out a group that we saw a lot of during the George W. Bush administration, anti-war group, Code Pink. What happened this time?

AVLON: That's exactly right. Code Pink sort of blasts from the past, engaging in the kind of street theater confrontational tactics this time at a book signing by Karl Rove, former Bush advisor, in Beverly Hills. They tried to do a citizens arrest and it was all caught on tape.

CHETRY: And a little bit of what happened, and how Rove was able to get in what you call the best line of the night. Here's a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look what did you, you outed a CIA officer. You lied to take to us to war. You ruined the country.

KARL ROVE, FMR. BUSH ADVSIOR: Here's the deal --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only comfort I take is that you're going to rot in hell.

ROVE: With all due respect, this goes to show the totalitarianism of the left. They don't believe in -- they don't believe in dialogue. They don't believe in courtesy. They don't believe in First Amendment rights for anybody but themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: They don't believe in First Amendments for anybody but themselves, and Karl Rove dissing what he called the totalitarianism of the left.

But really, I mean, this is classic wingnut stuff. It's great theater, politics of confrontation and these ugly, ugly accusations, rot in the hell.

ROBERTS: All right. What about the wingnuts on the right?

AVLON: The wingnut on the rights -- a whole different breed, ladies and gentlemen. You know, earlier this week, we saw the arrests of the Hutaree militia group in Michigan.

This is a real deep strayed wingnut, kind of off-the-bridge stuff. Its leader David Stone convinced several members of his family and others to take military training and most important, most crucially, a plot allegedly to kill law enforcement officer and detonate an IED during his funeral procession to set off a civil war inside the United States.

ROBERTS: We talked about this before. Southern Poverty Law Center says in the last year, there's been a 244 percent increase in so-called patriot groups. Some of whom you refer to in your new book as "Hatriot" groups. Are we seeing a return to 2010 part of what we saw in the 1990s?

AVLON: We are seeing a surge in militia activity. It's there, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented and it should be troubling for everybody. The background of this story is an indication of some of the rising tensions and violent intentions, in some cases of some of these groups.

But remember, the last time we saw this in the 1990s, we had Waco and then ultimately, it crested only after Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the Murtha Federal Building in Oklahoma City where over 150 people died.

ROBERTS: All right.

CHETRY: Also, I want to get your take on why there seems to be more anger than usual out there. I mean, wingnuts aside, when we take a look at people, they're vastly displeased with our elected leaders. "USA Today" did some Gallup polling and found that for first time, both major parties are viewed unfairly by the majority of Americans, and half the country does not think that Barack Obama deserves to be reelected as president. Sixty-five percent felt that way about members of Congress.

Is it just the economy or something else is going on?

AVLON: Something else is going on. This should be a major wakeup call to both parties, Democrats especially, who've seen their approval going down 14 points to an all-time low since President Obama's election. But there's clearly not only anti-incumbent fervor. There is a frustration with the two parties, with the polarization and the paralysis and the dysfunction they see coming out of Washington, D.C.

ROBERTS: All right. John Avlon this morning with his weekly wingnuts -- always great to see you, John.

For more on John's wingnuts, go to our blog at CNN.com/amFIX. And you can read all about it in depth. And don't forget to pick up his new book as well, "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacking America." I said it so many times, but I still can't get it out.

Thirty-eight and a half minutes after the hour. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ROBERTS: Coming up on 18 minutes now to the top of the hour.

And new this morning, the Obama administration is rolling out new fuel rules for economy in cars and trucks. They will be phased in over the next few years, targeting 2016 models. Cars will need to improve from the current 27.5 miles per gallon to 39 miles per gallon. For light trucks, it's 30 miles a gallon. That's up from 24.

CHETRY: Today, a federal judge will decide whether to grant bail for eight Michigan militia members accused of plotting to kill police officers. The court-appointed attorneys for members of the Hutaree militia say that their clients didn't pose a threat and should be released while they wait for their trial. Prosecutors want them held, arguing that their intentions were, quote, "evil."

ROBERTS: Sarah Palin's going rogue on the Republican National Committee. Her aides have asked the RNC to take her name off an invitation that suggests that she will participate in some fundraisers. The fundraising events coincide with the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Now, Palin is scheduled to give a speech there next Friday but will not have anything to do with fund raising.

CHETRY: The FAA is now dropping a ban on pilots using Prozac, as well as three other antidepressants. An official says that pilots who successfully are able to manage their depression for at least a year while using one of these approved medications can seek permission to fly again. The FAA also says the risk of side effects like drowsiness does not pose a safety threat.

ROBERTS: And it sounds like an April Fools joke for more than 3,100 people just won Pennsylvania's Big 4 lottery. And the winning number, it was pretty lucky, 7777. What's even weirder, if you add up all the winnings, it's costing the lottery $7.77 million in payouts.

CHETRY: That's crazy. But it's strange that so many people picked 7777 because it's a very unlikely number to hit.

ROBERTS: Yes. And it's not an April Fools joke either. Can you imagine?

CHETRY: There you go.

Well, in late night comedy, there's, of course, Letterman, there's Leno, there's Fallon, there's Ferguson, and over on the E Network, it's Chelsea Handler, the one woman who's busting into the late-night comedy scenes' boys clubs.

ROBERTS: Her new book "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" is on "The New York Times" bestseller list. Handler sat down with our Larry King last night to talk about everything from her dirty mouth to waiting tables before getting her big break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": "Vanity Fair" once described you as the comic with a Beverly Hills bimbo look and a borsch belt mouth. Compliment? Do you take that as a compliment?

CHELSEA HANDLER, COMEDIAN & AUTHOR: I don't know if I take that as a compliment, but it's true. I mean, I am probably. I do have a borsch belt mouth. I feel like I have a lot of intelligent thoughts and things to say, but I like combining those intelligent thoughts and -- you know, with toilet humor. I think that the two things can live together in a nice happy space. I mean, I didn't get real success, I mean, in my mind until I was probably 30, 28, 30 and I waited tables for a really long table and I appreciate it.

KING: But if I sat down and look at the menu and you come over, what would you do?

HANDLER: Well, first of all, I would compliment you on your suspenders. But second, I would say, you're pretty straight forward. If somebody is lingering and they're at lunch and they act like it's an affair, and they can't figure out what they're going to have --

KING: What would you do?

HANDLER: I would say, you know, make up your mind, you mess. What are you going to eat? I don't have time for people that make -- that take that long to make a decision about lunch.

KING: All right. Wouldn't that hurt tips?

HANDLER: I got -- I didn't get great tips. I'll be honest with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Great tips.

CHETRY: That was a follow-up to her book, "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea." She's funny.

ROBERTS: I love it. Mixing intelligence with toilet humor.

CHETRY: There you.

ROBERTS: A unique combination.

CHETRY: Reynolds Wolf is back from Rhode Island after being out there in hip waders to report on flooding and devastation there. He has some better news to deliver to us for the Easter weekend. It's 45 minutes passed the hour. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Good morning, Atlanta where it's not just going to be a Good Friday. It's going to be an amazing Friday. Right now 54 degrees. Later on today sunny with a high of 84.

CHETRY: Beautiful weather.

The song right now, a fan, 48 minutes passed the hour. Let's get a quick check of the weather headlines. Reynolds Wolf has much more good news for us on this Good Friday than what we were talking about. Still going to be tough for people in some of those flooded areas but things are getting better.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, I mean, one of the best these from sea board is from Rhode Island to Florida, beautiful conditions. Cleanup in the northeast will be a good day for that, all things considered weather wise.

In parts of the central plains, rain coming down in Oklahoma and Oklahoma city clear for the time being. If you look to the west, could you see a lot of dark skies and clouds rolling in within the next 10 to 15 minutes and the heavy rain will be moving through.

And the reason why we're seeing that is actually pretty simple. This area of low pressure will not stay in place but pulling to the east. It will interact with the gulf moisture. Severe storms a possibility, not just this morning but into the afternoon hours. Things could really intensify. It could get very rough.

Anyone who has a flight going through Dallas or maybe to Oklahoma or even into places like parts of Tennessee. Memphis, you might have issues damaging winds and tornados. Flash flooding in places where you have low lying areas.

High temperatures very quickly, 62 in Boston, 68 New York, 84 or 83 in Atlanta, 83 in Tampa. Back over to Denver, colder air with 46 degrees, 67 in Los Angeles and 52 in Los Angeles, 48 for Salt Lake City. Now, that is the latest on your forecast.

Again, travel trouble spots as we mentioned. Dallas Fort Worth, might have some issues there like Kansas City and before all is said and done Memphis and perhaps St. Louis. We'll have more on the forecast coming up. Let's wrap it up and send back to you in New York.

ROBERTS: Thanks very much, Reynolds. Good to see you this morning.

CHETRY: So we got a lot of comments coming in from the blog. A lot of things techys are excited about is, of course, the new iPod coming out.

Kevin writes, Kiran, happy Good friday, are you guys excited about the iPod hitting stores tomorrow? It's getting good reviews, but I'm turned off by what it can't do and it doesn't have like a camera.

We are going to be joined in a just little while with a couple of tech experts to give us their read. We're hearing a lot of great things about it, but yes there are certain things that it doesn't have in the first generation that have some of them little sad.

ROBERTS: I never buy the first generation of anything. I always wait for the second generation. You saw Allan's Chernoff's piece earlier this hour talking about the residue from the flooding in Rhode Island.

Joseph Daniel and Brian Hall both write together, flooding, there are so many contaminations floating around all that flooding, but once it recedes, will the contamination affect local farming and crops? This concerns me in all areas that go through flooding with Rhode Island, the current example.

So, Allan was saying there is a lot of stuff that bubbles up from the sewers. We saw that in New Orleans with lot of fuel oil and other contaminants out there. So in some cases it can leave lasting residue.

CHETRY: Yes, in some cases, they tell you at least temporarily dealing with it to boil your water before drinking it. There are still a lot of concerns about contamination, we're following that throughout the morning as well.

We would love to hear from you as well. Join the conversation. The top of the home page at cnn.com/amfix. We read your comments throughout the show. Live blog, join in.

ROBERTS: It's 51-and-a-half minutes after the hour. We hope to see you back because we have a whole lot to tell you about this morning. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

It's 55 minutes after the hour. It is time now for the Most News in the Morning. It's video that you're not supposed to see. Politicians, pundits even television news anchors waiting to go live.

CHETRY: Yes, a museum exhibit now has captured some of these famous talking heads and the moments before they start talking, Jeanne Moos has the off-air outtakes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They sit down and get miked up and get ready for their close-up. But something seems off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never seen him in such repose. He looks almost meditative.

MOOS: Carville, quiet. An oxymoron.

(on camera): You know all those talking heads on TV, going blah, blah, blah, not here on what's called the Silent Echo Chamber.

(voice-over): There's John McCain, military bearing eyes boring into you and Chris Matthews who seems to forget to blink.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looks like a complete statue. MOOS: The statue would be Henry Kissinger, like portraits they hang on the wall at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somehow you feel that you're seeing into their soul.

MOOS: From Larry King grimacing to Wolf Blitzer sinking his teeth into his script. To Joe Biden, sinking his teeth into a pastry, washing it down then coming back for more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looked like an eclair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked like an eclair, didn't it?

MOOS: Who collects this stuff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I call it a hobby or sickness.

MOOS: Comedian and actor Harry Shearer is mum on the how part.

(on camera): I assume he's stealing satellite signals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he won't admit to any technique.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm like Dick Cheney, sources and methods.

MOOS: Shearer got hooked more than three decades ago when he saw a photo of Richard Nixon right before his resignation speech or Nixon even sat down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're better looking than I am, why don't you stay here. Any secret service in the room? Out. Just kidding.

MOOS: It was Shearer who collected this famous John Edwards clip. Someone else put it to music. Other Harry Shearer found objects include annoyed host.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing?

MOOS: Ann Coulter joking around about chewing Nicorette.

Dan Rather debating how to wear the color of his trench coat and Katie Couric mimicking Dan Rather.

MOOS: The Aldrich Museum exhibit doesn't show embarrassing moments, but rather who s person is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In those moments before they put their TV personality on.

MOOS: For instance, Dr. Phil not giving advice and Sean Hannity sanitizing or moisturizing. Before our interview with Shearer, we nabbed him making noises and tucking his shirt into his pants at least when a talking head is silent, he doesn't have to eat his words.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)