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CNN NEWSROOM

Rescue Teams Searching Mine; Qatar Diplomat Blamed for Airplane Smoke Scare; Nuke Deal with Russia; Opposition Leaders Now in Power in Kyrgyzstan; All Eyes on Tiger; Challenging the Government

Aired April 8, 2010 - 09:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks, Kiran, and good morning, everybody.

Over the next couple of hours, we're going to talk about what could have been the smoke break from hell. Sneaking a cigarette in the airplane lavatory. Bad, bad idea in this day and age but the man at the center of it -- well, might not face any charges.

Bullies allegedly harassed a teen girl so much she takes her own life. Did that story affect you? Sure affected one mom. Her own son's a bully. And she's sure that she knows how he got that way. She might have some pretty good insight on how to prevent it.

And Toyota warned to stop sweeping its pedal problems under the floor mat. Warned by one of its own executives before the massive recall.

But we begin this morning with a landmark agreement on nuclear weapons. President Obama signed the treaty with Russia just a short time ago. The deal limits both countries' nuclear arsenals, but doesn't block the U.S. from building a missile shield in Europe.

President Obama hailed the strong relationship that he's built with his Russian counterpart and also said they were working together on possible sanctions against Iran.

We're going to get much on this live from Prague in just a moment.

And after days of waiting in West Virginia, full rescue mode. Four crews looking for four miners. Will it be a rescue or a recovery? Today could be the day we get an answer. Families pray for the best, prepare for the worst.

We're going to have CNN's John Roberts from Naoma, West Virginia in just a minute.

A popular uprising has flushed the government in Kyrgyzstan, presenting possible problems for the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. You see, the U.S. has a major airbase there that's used for transit, for troops and equipment in and out of Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan's president has fled. More than 70 people were killed in the protest that started over rising electric and fuel rates. We'll get more on how this affects U.S. efforts in Afghanistan coming up in just about 10 minutes.

It's back in the hole for four rescue teams at that West Virginia mine. Thirty-two rescuers looking for four miners -- looking, praying, hoping for signs of life. The teams went in just about hour fours ago.

CNN's John Roberts is right there in Naoma.

So, John, what are you hearing right now about those efforts?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We're hearing that they're proceeding fairly well so far that the miners at this point, Kyra, giving the advancing -- advancement that they were making over the last few hours probably have to be pretty close to that area. And it's very deep inside the mine. It's about five miles in.

The governor is going to be briefing us in about 45 minutes' time. They pushed back that press conference that they were supposed to have at 8:30 just a little bit. That may be an indication that they're at a point now where they're relaying back some information. So nothing new to report at this moment, but we should have something very soon.

PHILLIPS: While we wait for that, all of us here on the team saw a pretty incredible interview that you did last night. You met an extraordinary woman who really touched your heart.

ROBERTS: Oh, absolutely. Her name is Pam Napper. And in -- at the same time, she is the mother, the sister and the aunt of miners who died in that Upper Big Branch mine. Her son Joshua perished. Her nephew Corey perished, her brother Timmy perished.

There was a prayer vigil last night to which she attended, and just the amount of love and support that was pouring out of there was almost overwhelming for her. And she told me a story that her son was sent home early from the mine a couple of times in the past week because of ventilation problems.

She had never wanted him to go down in the mines. But what's most extraordinary is that the day before the mine explosion, Easter Sunday, he had something of a premonition that something was about to happen.

Let's listen to her tell her story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: What were your feelings when he came to you and said, mom, I want to be a miner?

PAM NAPPER, MOTHER OF MINER KILLED MONDAY: Honestly, at first, I said no. I didn't want him to come because my brothers were there. My brothers have been hurt several times in the mines. And I begged him not to. But he said, please mom. And then I said, OK. You're 25. I have to let you go. I have to let you make your own decisions in life. And so I gave my brother my blessing. My brother had to have blessings from me first before he would hire him. And I gave him my blessings. He come home that weekend and --

ROBERTS: At Easter?

NAPPER: At Easter. He wanted to come home, be with his family. And he went to church with us, and kind of fought things in church. He actually got up and left church and came back in. And they called -- wanted us to bow our heads, whoever needed Jesus in their life raise their arms, and he did.

And for some reason they called an altar call which they don't do that on the days. And Josh just jumped up out of there and he went and got saved. And really, really got saved. He grabbed my hand, and he says, mom, I love you. I said I love you, too, Josh. I'll always love.

And I told him, don't let loose of God. He said, oh, mom. I'm not. I'm going to hold on to God like I've never held on to him before. And when he went home, he (INAUDIBLE) and left home, he left Jennifer a letter.

ROBERTS: Jennifer?

NAPPER: His girlfriend and Jenna.

ROBERTS: That's his daughter?

NAPPER: Mm-hmm. And I can't tell you everything in it. I can't remember. It was his long writing, of his little handwriting. He said, if anything happens to me, I'll be looking down from heaven at you all. I love you. Take care of my baby. Tell her that daddy loves her. She's beautiful. She's funny. And just take care of my baby girl. And said Jennifer, I love you.

ROBERTS: Did he have a sense about things?

NAPPER: I really feel that he did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You know, you wonder, Kyra, how she can be so strong. And it's a combination of a couple of things. She has an incredibly strong faith. And she has the support of so many people who love her. But you can imagine what people are going through here in the Coal River Valley.

Twenty-five families have been touched by this tragedy so far. There are four others who are hoping against hope that they will not be touched as well. But those rescuers getting down close to the area, we believe, where those miners may be trapped. And we'll see if we do have some news as to their status coming up in the next few minutes and maybe a couple of hours.

PHILLIPS: I'll tell you, some of the most faithful, non- materialistic, true people you'll ever meet in your life are those miners and their families. And that sent chills up all of our --

ROBERTS: Extraordinary.

PHILLIPS: -- spines. Oh yes.

John Roberts, thanks so much.

And we're following the West Virginia mine disaster throughout the day and we'll bring you the latest as it happens. In just over 30 minutes we are expecting a news conference from Naoma and we'll bring that to you live as soon as it happens.

Fighter jets scrambling to intercept a passenger plane. The fear, a shoe bomb. But things aren't always what they seem.

CNN's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve live in Denver this morning.

So, Jeanne, Air Marshals actually grabbed this guy, right? What triggered the fear?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, his name is Mohammed al-Madadi. He is a diplomat with the embassy of Qatar in Washington. He was on a United flight last night that was flying from Washington, D.C., Reagan National, here to Denver.

According to passengers who were on that flight he got up several times and went up to the restroom. And at one point, he stayed for an extended period of time. When he came back, there was an odor of cigarette smoke.

And so Air Marshals were told, broke cover, asked him questions. At that point, we're told that he made a comment which was termed as unfortunate which led them to believe that they might be dealing with someone like Richard Reid.

You'll remember him. He was the man who tried to bring down the airplane by lighting explosives in his shoe. At that point, that's what two F-16s were scrambled. They accompanied that plane here to Denver. When it landed, it was immediately scooted off to a secure section of the airport.

Here's what one of the passengers onboard had to stay about how the matter was handled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE WISENTEINER, PASSENGER: There was no Steven Segal B.S., these guys talked to him. He sat down, he was completely compliant with them. And then at the very end, you could tell that there was a fellow -- one of the Air Marshals was explaining what was going to happen next.

And -- so then the Denver P.D. came on. And the Air Marshal got out of the way, the Denver P.D. cuffed him and (INAUDIBLE) his shoes and bags. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: A lot of the passengers who were on that jet said they were absolutely unaware that anything dramatic was going on because the action was all confined to just a few rows in the first class cabin of the aircraft. But President Obama was briefed last night by some of his visors of what was happening.

The homeland security secretary delayed the trip to Spain this morning by a couple of hours so she could get updates on the situation. And also, we have late word from Allison Bradley at the Ground Lloyd James law firm.

She tells us that Mohammed al-Madadi has now been given clearance to travel back to Washington at a time of his own choosing.

Kyra, back to you.

PHILLIPS: Yes?

MESERVE: By the way, Kyra, one important point, I forgot to mention, no explosives were found on that aircraft. Nothing.

PHILLIPS: Got it. Jeanne Meserve, thanks so much.

All right, let's get back to the top international story. President Obama in Prague, signing a major nuclear treaty with Russia. The deal is much about the president's desire for a nuclear-free world and as it is about normalizing relations with Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also came to office committed to resetting relations between the United States and Russia. And I know that President Medvedev shared that commitment.

As he said in that first meeting in London, our relationship had started to drift, making it difficult to cooperate on issues of common interest to our people. And when the United States and Russia are not able to work together on big issues, it's not good for either of our nations, nor is it good for the world.

Together, we've stopped that drift and proven the benefits of cooperation. Today's an important milestone for nuclear security and nonproliferation and for U.S./Russia relations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: CNN's senior White House correspondent Ed Henry traveling with the president. He joins us now live from Prague this morning. It's pretty amazing to see all of those leaders in one room, talking about this issue, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kyra. I mean that's what one top aide to the president told me last evening was that basically it's been a long time since we've seen such a dramatic moment, a picture like that, U.S. president sitting down with his Russian counterpart.

We used to see that decades ago when they were -- you know, trying to come up with detente. It's been a long time. They believe that when you look at the meat of this, and the fact that, for example, the warheads on each side will be reduced from 2,200 to 1,,500.

That while there are still be a lot of nuclear missiles on each side, that this is an important step forward, and does signal not just normal relations between these two countries but next week when the president back in Washington convenes a nuclear security summit has some 47 countries sitting at the table.

This will send a dramatic statement all around the world, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Ed Henry, live from Prague, appreciate it.

And Kyrgyzstan, impossible to spell, hard to say, good luck finding it on the map, so why should we care that its government is now gone, swept away by armed protesters? Well, we'll tell you.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Another day of record shattering high temperatures but cold air is moving in. That means severe weather out ahead of that front. We've got the report when CNN NEWSROOM comes right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Just getting word out of Los Angeles right now, a live picture from our affiliate KTLA. We appreciate you just getting there on the scene. We're getting word that terminals 6 and 7, that's United Airlines -- you'll see the line actually starting to form up there -- has been closed there at Los Angeles International Airport.

Apparently, a passenger's bag was flagged for secondary screening. But the passenger was able to just pick that bag up and make it past the security area. So TSA and law enforcement are presently canvassing the terminal trying to locate that passenger.

So right now, if the shutdown happens -- let's see, just a short time ago, within the last hour. We'll follow this and let you know if we get any more information.

A major uprising has swept the government of Kyrgyzstan. Opposition leaders now in power, and that may not be good news for the U.S. We're going to get to that in just a second. But here's what we're talking about.

Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic bordering China and just a stone's throw away from Afghanistan to the south. Well, the uprising actually started as a protest over rising energy prices, you know, electricity and gas. But there was already simmering discontent, rather, with the government. And that discontent ended with armed citizens facing off, trading fire with army soldiers. We're told about 70 people have been killed. So what does this mean for the U.S.? And more importantly, the big military air base right there in Kyrgyzstan?

Josh Levs joins me now.

So, Josh, should we be worried that this will impact the war in Afghanistan right now?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wouldn't say worried but it can impact what's going on in Afghanistan which is one perfect example. You know we're seeing this video of unrest over there. And some perfect example of the time of unrest in another part of the world impacts us directly at home.

Let's take a look at, we're going to zoom eastward over to that part of the region and then we're going to take a look at Kyrgyzstan specifically. First of all, we're talking about a country of 5.4 million people. Three quarters of them are Muslim. And it's mostly a secular government.

And as you know, the United States, these are all the Muslim nation friends it can have right now and we need as much as peace in those countries as possible. But most importantly for us is that base.

Let's zoom way in. We can actually see it out of Google Earth. This is the Manas Air Base. And the United States just set this up after 9/11. It was actually really interesting what the military did. It went to this what was an airport originally set up by the Soviet Union.

Kind of took that over and create an air base there. And it has since become vital to U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

I was looking at a summary. A great summary from the "Wall Street Journal." They point out that last month alone, more than 50,000 U.S. and coalition troops passed through that base we were just looking at there, Manas, and en route to Afghanistan, and they say more than 200,000 troops have deployed through that base during the time that the United States has been operating in Afghanistan.

So we're talking about a critical base. And if that becomes unusable, then it can, at the very least, become a lot more expensive for the U.S. to go about those efforts in Afghanistan. And it can cause some serious logistical problems.

Also another thing. Let's zoom back out because I want to you all to see the region, how close it is to Afghanistan and some of the other interests that the United States has in that region. So we're going to zoom back out. We have labeled for you here these seven -- I know people get confused.

Seven "stans" and if we zoom back in here, what you're going to see is Kyrgyzstan right here, Afghanistan right down here. So the location, the proximity is so important to the United States, in addition to it being such an important friend. So, Kyra, all of that, keep in mind, anytime you're seeing this unrest in Kyrgyzstan, there's certainly a lot at stake for the U.S.

PHILLIPS: You know I remember when the war first broke out, and we all said to each other, OK, we have to learn the "stans." You know? It's not just Kyrgyzstan, but you've got all the other stans in that area.

LEVS: All the one -- that's right.

PHILLIPS: Yes, bordering each other.

LEVS: (INAUDIBLE)

PHILLIPS: Yes, why "stan" at the end of the names?

LEVS: Yes. This is actually really interesting about that suffix. There's two different reasons for that going on in the same place. And it has a lot to do with what's going on there. I was looking at this from About.com. In Persian, the suffix "stan" means place of. And in Russian, it meant "settlement."

So you have a lot of these -- many of these were former parts of the Soviet Union. But also as you know, you have Persian influence as well in that whole region. So "stan" became a summary there. And you've got seven nations, but you also got little areas like Waziristan that we talk about, hence, the need for a guide to the "stans," Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.

(LAUGHTER)

LEVS: You got it.

PHILLIPS: Value added. Thanks, Josh.

Another mudslide and more deaths in the hillside shanty town of Rio de Janeiro. The pictures are pretty heart wrenching. At least 147 people have been killed and rescue workers are still struggling to find survivors beneath mounds of mud and debris right now.

The newest slide wiped out at least 40 homes. Some 60 people are missing and dozens more believed to be buried there.

Meanwhile, here, Rob, you're watching the severe weather threat that's moving to the east.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we are. And you know we showed video of the flooding in Brazil yesterday. So second day in a row we have flash flood warnings posted for the Hawaiian Islands. This time in Kauai.

We don't expect this sort of damage that they're seeing in Brazil, but nonetheless, some of the bridges have been closed in some of these -- in parts of Kauai because of the heavy rain that's falling through that area.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, Rob.

Well, there's several ways to voice your frustration to lawmakers, making dozens of threatening, harassing phone calls isn't one of them, but it is a way to get yourself a meaty fine and a decade in prison.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Looks like we could learn today why someone would hide several pipe bombs in east Texas. A law enforcement source says that a suspect has been arrested in Tyler. No name or motive has been relieved but -- revealed, rather, but a news conference is planned for later today.

Several pipe bomb-type explosives were found over the past month in East Texas mail pickup boxes. None of them exploded.

Charges of terrorism and pleading not guilty in Pennsylvania. Jamie Paulin-Ramirez of Leadville, Colorado entered the plea in a Philadelphia federal courtroom. The indictment accusing Paulin- Ramirez of conspiring to support terrorists overseas.

Also, charges Colleen LaRose of Pennsylvania. LaRose is known as Jihad Jane. Paulin-Ramirez' attorney says she is 12 weeks pregnant.

Another courtroom, different charges. Attorneys for three teenage girls are entering not guilty pleas this hour in a Hadley, Massachusetts courtroom. Those three along with three other students are charged in the alleged bullying of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince.

The three in court this hour are charged with harassing Prince. Prince hanged herself in January. Prosecutors say she went through unrelenting bullying for three months by six teens.

And then there were 13. A baker's dozen. Thirteen states turned to plaintiffs claiming Uncle Sam has gotten too big for his britches.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: So I guess this guy didn't vote for Nancy Pelosi in the last election. One of her constituents is in jail, accused of calling her up dozens of time and making threats. The FBI says that Greg Giusti even got the House speaker herself on the phone at least one. Giusti is not the most popular guy in his housing complex right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I was here when the police arrived. And it didn't surprise me too much when they took him out because he has such a nasty attitude.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Giusti reportedly was upset that Pelosi supported health care reform. No word if he's upset about subsidized housing where he's lived for several years. He goes to court today. He served time in the past for making threats, by the way.

And speaking of health care reform, five more states have joined the lawsuit against the law President Obama signed last month. Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada and Arizona getting on board the plane of train joining 13 other states.

The attorneys general claim that the law encroaches the sovereignty of the states, and that requiring individuals to buy health care insurance, well, violates the Constitution. The White House says that last month it expects to win any legal challenges.

Toyota, consider yourself warned. A former executive's e-mail now shedding new light on the accelerator issue and the fears of an inevitable PR nightmare.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Wall Street getting a fresh look at how things are doing right now in Main Street. A new report out this morning -- as the (INAUDIBLE) bell there -- on unemployment claims and retail scales.

Stephanie Elam in New York with the details.

Is that you saying whoo-hoo or was that somebody there on the floor?

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I try to control my emotions, Kyra. That was somebody on the floor.

PHILLIPS: Right, especially when the economy is moving in the right direction.

(LAUGHTER)

ELAM: Right. Exactly. As I whoo-hoo.

The Dow is opening up to the downside -- no, that wasn't me, but, you're right. There are people who would say that things are still better. That you might want to whoo-hoo more this year than say last year. For one thing, people are shopping, so that's a good thing for the economy. Target, Macy's, Gap, we also heard Costco and limited brands, all of them posting a double-digit increase in March sales. The Easter holiday, it was a bit earlier this year, so that helped out. So, it an easy comparison because sales the year before were horrible.

Now on the other side of this are things getting better. Unemployment lines got longer last week. New jobless claims unexpectedly jumped by 18,000, hitting 460,000, and the numbers for the week before were revised higher as well.

Also, this major merger talk today in the airline industry, there are reports that US Airways and UAL, that's a parent of the United Airlines, are in talks to merge. A deal is far from certain, but it would create the nation's second largest carrier. We haven't heard any comment from United at this point, but it's about the third time in a decade that the two companies have talked about marriage. So, we'll have to keep our eyes on that.

Shares of UAL, they are on the upside right now about close to 6 percent and US Airways up close at 13 percent on this news. As for the major averages, they're not up. They're going lower again today. The Dow off 34 points, 10,863, Nasdaq off 9, and S&P 500 lower as well. So, off about 3 percent on the all the major market, Kyra. So, we'll keep our eyes on it for you.

PHILLIPS: All right. Sounds good. Thanks, Steph.

Just come clean. The time to hide is over. Warnings now from a former Toyota executive just days before the company recalled millions of vehicles, you know, for those sticky accelerators. CNN's Deborah Feyerick live in New York this morning.

So, Deb, tell us more about this internal memo that you got.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's so interesting because it really does admit that there's a lot of internal debate going on within the company is becoming apparently clear that Toyota executives were scrambling to figure out the best way to deal with this huge accelerator problem and how best to tell the public.

Now, in an e-mail obtained by the Associated Press, one of the company's top public relations executives warned Toyota that officials needed to quote "come clean about the sticking pedals." The executive saying that Toyota quote "was not protecting our customers by keeping quiet about this."

In the e-mail by Toyota's recently retired U.S. vice president for public affairs, Herb Miller (ph) writes quote "we have a tendency for mechanical failure in accelerator pedals." And he says the time to hide on this is over. And the e-mail was sent in January, days before Toyota's massive recall, and what's more, Toyota had failed to alert U.S. regulators, even though the automaker was busy addressing sticky pedal problems in 31 European countries and Canada.

Toyota's new chief quality officer for North America spoke about the disconnect last week at the inauguration of Toyota's committee for global quality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE ST. ANGELO, CHIEF QUALITY OFFICER FOR TOYOTA, NORTH AMERICA: Because we're not perfect. And we didn't share the experience that we had in Europe. We didn't know about it in North America. That's why they're putting these processes in place. We are looking for our weak points. We are looking for -- where we need to improve. And that's why I believe the six points that Toyota has put upon us, this direction is going to make us a stronger and better company. We've never said we were perfect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: And clearly, it's such a huge company, but the fact that different areas were not talking to each other may have led to this crisis, really in public relation. CNN did try to reach out to the author of the e-mail. That e-mail now in possession of U.S. investigators. The January e-mail also hopeful, the writer saying that perhaps government regulators would work with Toyota to find a workable solution but does not put Toyota out of business -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Deb Feyerick, thanks so much and for more on the Toyota story and the recall, be sure to logon to CNN.com. We'll have all the latest information for you.

The IRS tax deadline, not too taxing for nearly half of Americans especially when they're not paying a penny of the nation's tax bill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: I want to update you now on a situation going on at LAX. This live picture coming to us from KTLA. Why the long lines? Here's the deal. A security breach has delayed at least 14 flights. They are at Los Angeles International Airport.

According to the Associated Press, authorities are looking for a man who didn't undergo proper security screening. Apparently, one of the spokespeople for LAX says the man was picked out for secondary screening, but instead, just picked up his carry-on bag, went through terminal 7, about 5:00 a.m., California time, and right now, authorities are trying to find him and locate that bag. We'll keep you updated.

Also, waiting and praying in West Virginia. Four rescue teams went into the upper big branch south mine earlier today to look for four miners from Monday's deadly explosion. They're the only miners right now unaccounted for after 25 were killed on Monday. The teams are working their way to two refuge chambers designed to protect the miners during disaster scenarios. Live pictures now as we're waiting for a news conference that's supposed to start in about ten minutes. We'll bring it to you live.

A limit on nuclear arsenals. President Obama reaching his goal with today signing ceremony in Prague. He and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev putting their signatures on a new nuclear arms treaty. President Obama praise the Russian counterpart and talks about how this deal cements a new era in relations with Russia.

A scare in the air turned out to be a bit of a misunderstanding. It started with the diplomat from cutter in the airplane's bathroom. It ended with Air Marshals and a fighter jet escort to Denver. The diplomat talked at length to investigators has now been cleared to return to Washington. No charges expected. No harm, no foul. Tee time for Tiger. No, not text time, tee time. Tiger Woods is returning to golf. Hey, he plays golf? We nearly forgot about that. We're going to take you to the Masters.

Remember Susan Boyle? Can't forget her. She was that British woman who wowed the world with her angelic singing voice. Get ready for a karaoke contestant from Taiwan who's quickly becoming the new Internet sensation. We want you show you why. So, open your ears and close your eyes.

And oh, did we mention this perfect Whitney Houston rendition is being done by a man? A rich man at that. The 24-year-old won a $1 million prize and a recording contract from the TV show. His likely discovering his greatest fame is on the Internet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: All right. One week from today is the dreaded deadline to file your federal taxes, but for nearly half of U.S. households, it may as well just be another day. And that's because about 47 percent will be paying no federal income taxes at all. That number really surprised us. CNN's Christine Romans breaking it down for us.

Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kyra.

Still have to file. You still have to file a return, but with deductions, exemptions, and all of these new tax credits. A lot of people won't owe Uncle Sam anything, and some people will actually get paid, actually get paid, 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes. There are tax credits, deductions galore, and most people, low-income elderly -- sorry, low-income with small children are basically exempt from paying federal income taxes. They do pay other taxes. They pay social security taxes. They pay retail taxes. They pay extra taxes. They pay a lot of other kinds of taxes, but this is federal income tax we're talking about.

Quickly, that means that the deductions and tax credits have grown so prolific in the last couple of years, because of the stimulus and other things. That a family of two adults and two children, making 50,000 a year, when you add up the making work pay tax credit and standard deduction and deductions for their children, they actually pay no federal income tax and can get about $31 back from the government.

So, who pays the federal income tax? Ten percent of earners pay 73 percent of the federal income tax, and this, of course, the revenue that the government uses to build roads, to build our military, to run our government.

Ten percent of earners pay 73 percent and the bottom 40 percent of earners actually get money back. They are paid instead of paying in. So that is sort of the nuts and bolts of taxes. Who pays, who gets what. Over the past couple of years, we've had a lot of new tax changes, 300 changes last year alone, Kyra. And lots of different tax credits in there. So, some people into middle class, like the family of two who makes $50,000 a year, it will make it -- it will make it a little less painful on April 15th, won't it?

PHILLIPS: Yes, definitely. Thanks Christine.

ROMANS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: All right, Rob, you still tracking that severe storm moving to the east?

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: All right, thanks so much, Rob.

Well, all eyes on Augusta, Georgia, that's for sure, Tiger Woods returning to golf. Got a bit more baggage this time, though and I don't mean the golf bags.

Times Square takes hold on this day, in 1904 was originally called Long Acre Square. But the "New York Times" had its big new building there so they wanted it renamed. They hosted the first New Year's event that same year, starting the Times Square tradition.

And in 1974, number 715, hammering Hank Aaron launched a bomb to right field, pushing him past Babe Ruth under the throne as the home run king. Barry Bonds broke that record later, but who cares.

And in 1977, the punk heavy weights "The Clash", oh, yes, I have the album. Do you have the album? But the record company didn't release it in the U.S. for another two years after it was released in Britain. They thought it wouldn't work on the radio. Yes, good decision.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, you can bet that all eyes will be on the Masters later today; Tiger Woods returning to golf with a lot of baggage.

CNN's Samantha Hayes has a look at the buzz going on in Augusta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's made many phenomenal shots over the years, winning major tournaments, breaking records. But none may be more important to Tiger Woods than his tee-off at the start of this year's Masters Tournament.

KEN LAWRENCE, SCOTCH DAILY HERALD: It's going to be the most photographed golf shot in history, unquestionably.

HAYES: Birdie or bogey, his first shot starts the next chapter of his life. Woods' personal problems following a November car crash and the ensuing accounts of lurid extra marital affairs focused unprecedented attention on him and his return to professional golf. But the Masters Tournament is run by an organization that prides itself on reputation and doesn't care for scandal. And Wednesday in a highly unusual move, Chairman Billy Payne expressed his disappointment.

BILLY PAYNE, CHAIRMAN, AUGUSTA NATIONAL: Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we sought for our children.

HAYES: Earlier this week Woods thanked his fans and even apologized to his fellow players. Two-time Masters Champion Phil Mickelson said it wasn't necessary.

PHIL MICKELSON, GOLFER: Well, he doesn't owe me an apology. I mean, in the last 12 years he's done so much for the game of golf. I don't know if there's been an individual who's been -- who's capitalized more on the opportunities that he's brought to the game of golf than myself. He doesn't owe me a thing.

HAYES: Some say now Tiger Woods owes it to himself to change the way he plays the game.

PAYNE: This year it will not be just for him, but for all of us who believe in second chances.

HAYES: Samantha Hayes, CNN, Augusta, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: All right and we know that Nike has stood by Tiger this whole time. He is the face of their golf line, a solemn face in this new ad. It's -- different.

Here it is, a commercial without program interruptions. The voice you're about to hear -- Tiger's late father -- Earl Woods.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EARL WOODS, TIGER WOODS' LATE FATHER: Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was, I want to find out what your feelings are and did you learn anything?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: All right. I can't watch this without thinking of Obi-Wan Kenobi counseling Luke Skywalker or Jor-el talking to his son's Superman in the icy Fortress of Solitude.

This is a commercial, remember, so isn't Tiger kind of selling out his father's ghost here? I guess Nike can't apply that "Just Do It" slogan to Tiger, so this was an alternative.

But what do I know? I just work here. Maybe you think it's cool. It's a cool ad and a good idea. We've seen a lot of positive feedback out there.

What do you think? Good? Bad? Cheesy? Classy? Tell me what you think about the ad, CNN.com/Kyra.

It's shaping up to be a pretty busy morning in the NEWSROOM and CNN crews are hard at work to bring you all the details.

Let's check in with our correspondents beginning with CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, Martina Navratilova just diagnosed with breast cancer. What's her prognosis? I'll have that at the top of the hour.

MARCIANO: Temperatures into the 90s yesterday. Good morning. I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center and severe weather is what we'll probably see as this cold air mass bangs into that hot air. Details coming up in the 10:00 hour.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, guys.

"Ain't no mountain high enough" -- at least not for a very special 13-year-old. That's why he's now embarking on Mt. Everest and a place in the record books. He joins us live from Katmandu.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: The leader of a Michigan militia group was looking to set up his own country. At least that's what prosecutors are alleging.

We're now hearing an audiotape from David Stone, Senior, who allegedly calls the U.S. government evil and greedy. Our Susan Candiotti has more.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN has obtained exclusively an audiotape played during a bond hearing for alleged members of the Hutaree militia last week. You're about to hear the voice of the alleged leader in a rant against the government.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DAVID STONE, SENIOR, LEADER, HUTAREE MILITIA: In this nation we think we are free, but you need a certificate to be born, a license to drive, a permit to build, a number to get a job and even a paper after you die. These are permission slips from the terrorist organization called the New World Order.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: And FBI agent secretly recorded militia members after infiltrating the Hutaree. The tape was played as part of the government's argument that the defendants would be a danger to the community and a flight risk if they got bail before trial. They didn't and are appealing.

They're accused of conspiring to overthrow the government and planning to murder a law enforcement officer and then attack a funeral procession with homemade bombs to kick off a revolt. On the audiotape, alleged leader David Brian Stone is angry about what he calls the New World Order taking over the U.S.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STONE: People in this nation as well as some around the world are waiting for these individuals like you see sitting in this room to actually make the decision to go to war against this evil, greedy New World Order. They need leaders who are not afraid to stand up and actually mean no more.

We are free and we should not be ashamed to admit we are the American militia. We outnumber them. As long as we let them terrorize any American through fear and intimidation then they are winning this battle. And we should step up to the fight that have started and finish it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Prosecutors say the Hutaree's leader wanted to create his own country and carve out of four Michigan Counties to defend himself against the so-called New World Order and the Brotherhood, that's what the militia called law enforcement officers. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STONE: Every day we watch ever so close for those evil blue helmets to appear on our streets. But as long as through Interpol, law enforcement mercenaries called the brotherhood working for the New World Order are doing such a great job then we don't need to watch for these foreign armies to come to our shores. They are already here.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Prosecutors say the recording was secretly made last winter while the group was driving to a meeting of other militias in Kentucky, but they had to turn back because of cold weather. So the alleged leader made a speech anyway while they were driving. Defense attorneys say that's all this was -- just talk, free speech.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.