Return to Transcripts main page


Poland in Mourning; Russia's Adoption Outrage; Ranch For Recovery

Aired April 12, 2010 - 10:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Political dignitaries from more than 40 nations descending upon Washington this morning for a two-day nuclear security summit hosted by President Obama. It's reportedly the biggest assembly of world leaders hosted by an American president since 1945. Live pictures now and our Suzanne Malveaux is also there, will join us in just about 15 minutes to tell us what this summit means for us.

A week after the deadly blast that killed 29 coal miners and tore apart a tight knit West Virginia community, another grim task remains - retrieving the bodies that are still inside the upper big branch mine. We're told a couple of rescue teams went in at midnight and a third will re-enter the mine this morning.

In Afghanistan's Kandahar province at least four people are dead, 18 more injured after a possible mistaken attack by international troops on a busload of Afghan civilians. ISAF says that they regret the loss of life.

A powerful scene in front of the presidential palace in Warsaw, Poland this morning. It's both beautiful and sad. Thousands of flowers and candles fill the broad sidewalk right now. They're reflecting a nation in mourning. President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and many other political and business and military leaders were killed Saturday in a plane crash in western Russia.

Poland begins an official week of mourning today. The president's body was returned to Warsaw yesterday. But many of those bodies remain unidentified. 97 people died in that plane crash.

Nic Robertson is there and he watched as the flag-draped casket bearing President Lech Kaczynski's body was loaded aboard a plan for the return to Warsaw.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Slow, solemn and somber. Moments before President Lech Kaczynski's casket is loaded aboard a flight home to Poland. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who is heading the investigation into the crash standing side by side with Poland's ambassador to Moscow.

(on camera): This is beginning to close the first chapter in this very painful episode. Standing together on the runway now, a lot is at stake over how the investigation develops in the coming days.

(voice-over): In the nearby woods, that investigation still under way. Experts searching through the wreckage. Aircraft parts littering the ground where it crashed in heavy fog 24 hours earlier.

(on camera): Looking at the black box, looking and re-examining what the air traffic controllers talked about, the warnings that they gave the aircraft that it was too low, moving too wide. But clearly this point where we are standing at here where the plane came down half a mile short of the runway is down through the trees there.

(voice-over): Already investigators say the black box data recorded shows the plane had no mechanical faults. Poland's ambassador cautions against jumping to judgment against the pilots.

JERZY BAHR, POLISH AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Many people think that this is something which pilots did wrong, but it must be investigated.

ROBERTSON: He had come to say good-bye to his president, but warns relatives of others killed in the crash may have to wait to get their loved ones back.

BAHR: Many people are in Moscow and maybe they expect that they could take corpse with them soon, but it depends on the specialist.

ROBERTSON (on camera): On the investigation, it depends?

BAHR: Yes.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Polish and Russian investigators are working closely according to officials of both countries. The tragedy, they say, has brought the two nations closer than they have been in years.


ROBERTSON: And it's not just officials saying that. If you look here at the gate to the airfield here, just very closely to the aircraft, you can see floral tributes and candles that had been left by local Russians in a tribute to all those Polish people who died aboard the aircraft, not just the president, not just his wife, not just the government officials but all of them. A real message of sympathy and all of this coming just from local Russians who live around here, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So, Nic, there are two possible causes to this crash right now. What do you know?

ROBERTSON: Well, one of them is obviously a very dense fog that the plane was flying into and what we have heard from Russia's deputy prime minister today is that they can confirm. They say they have hard proof that the pilots were told that the weather was too bad, that they shouldn't land at this airfield. They have hard proof that the pilots did receive that message.

Nevertheless, the pilots did appear to continue to try to land here. That's what is understood. The other issue is as the Polish ambassador talked about the possibility of pilot error in and of itself, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. OK. Interesting. So as we follow those two parts of the investigation, what can you tell us about these aviation rules and whose judgment it is to make certain calls about landing? Apparently there has been talk about the president getting impatient with landing in certain spots?

ROBERTSON: Well, there is certainly a very strong line of speculation out there. It's not something that CNN can confirm at the moment but certainly among some Polish and Russian news organization there is talk of when the president was on a board a plane, going to land in Georgia, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in 2008, he told the pilot to land and the pilot said, no, I don't think it's safe to land here.

And he wanted to land at a different airfield where he felt that it was safer. What then happened was that the pilot refused to land. Now CNN has talked to that pilot who subsequently resigned his commission as presidential pilot but he said that he didn't want to speculate. He didn't want to talk further about the issue. So that's the issue that's out there.

So, of course, some people are speculating, did the president play a role talking to the pilots in the landing here. Certainly from Russian investigators that's not something that we are learning any information about at the moment. So that is sort of part of the speculation, if you will. But as to the legality, if air traffic controllers say it's not safe to land they are to respect that.

It's the air traffic controllers who control the aircraft because, of course, the pilot on board the plane may not know everything that's going on in the runaway beneath him. And what the Russian authorities have been very clear here, saying they had provided the pilots with that information, not safe to land, divert to another airfield, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: OK. We'll follow it. Thanks, Nic.

In Russia, outraged leaders calling for a halt now to all pending adoptions by Americans. The reason? A Tennessee woman put a seven- year-old boy on a Moscow-bound flight and returned him home to Russia unannounced. She says the boy was violent and mentally unstable. The woman's mother spoke to CNN over the weekend.

The adoptive grandmother, Nancy Hanson, say the boy had a "hit list" of people he was targeting. She also says he wanted to kill for the house. She said - and also she added that he threatened to kill her grandson for a videogame.

This story reminded us of another boy adopted from overseas. A boy who expressed the same violent thoughts of killing his family and burning down the house, but the boy's parents didn't send him back. They sent him to a ranch.

CNN's Gary Tuchman went there in January.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 11-year-old Alec is a precocious, intelligent child but he's said and done things that have greatly frightened his parents. Beth and Bill Cole are Alec's mom and dad.

BETH COLE, ALEC'S MOM: I adore him. I love him. I want him to have a good future just as normal as can be.

TUCHMAN: This is from a videotape Alec's parents gave us. They took this video because psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers didn't necessarily believe or understand what Alec has done and now his pained parents have taken drastic measures. Alec is no longer living with them in Florida. He lives in Montana on a ranch for deeply troubled adopted children.

ALEC COLE: I freaked out like almost every day.

TUCHMAN: Alec's parents adopted him from an orphanage in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus when he was a toddler. They also adopted their daughter, Lauren, from the same country, who is having a much easier time at home.

ALEC COLE: It's like any other orphanage basically.

TUCHMAN (on camera): I see. I understand.

ALEC COLE: Very poor.

TUCHMAN: I understand.

(voice-over): Alec lives on what is called the "Ranch for Kids" with a grandmother who has raised Russian orphans of her own, Joyce Sterkel.

JOYCE STERKEL, "RANCH FOR KIDS": the purpose is to assist parents and children in reuniting with each other if they have had difficulty because of attachment issues or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

TUCHMAN: Like many of the 25 children at the "Ranch for Kids," Alec has dramatic mood swings. At the worst he's violent and threatening.

(on camera): What has he said to you in terms of threats?

BETH COLE: The worst is that he's going to kill us, kill all of us, burn down the house.

BILL COLE, ALEC'S DAD: He's talked about wanting to blow up the house, wanting to burn down the house, wanting to get a knife to stab us with. It seems silly or maybe not, but we took a step to hide the knives, the kitchen knives in the house and put them where he couldn't get to them. TUCHMAN: Your parents have told the people here that you once said, "I will get a gun and shoot you in the neck and then the heart." Did you say that to them?


TUCHMAN: How come?

ALEC COLE: Because I just get mad.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Parents send their children here for about $3,500 a month because they usually don't know what else to do.

STERKEL: All of the kids have been to the psychiatrist. They have been to the psychologist. They have been to the therapist. They've been medicated.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You're saying that people who have the expertise haven't done anything for them?

STERKEL: In many cases. I'm not saying all, but in many cases those modalities failed.

TUCHMAN: They get love here but sometimes it's tough love. There is a lot of snow to shovel, chores to do. They go to school where in addition to the three R's, there are lessons in human relations.

ALEC COLE: I'm sad because I have been mean and treated my family. I feel sorry for the way I have treated people in the past. The end.


TUCHMAN (on camera): It sounds like a feel-good story. It is. And it isn't. That's because the endings are not always happy ones. Sometimes the children don't improve enough to go back home. Other times the parents just don't want them back.

(voice-over): But most of the parents are desperate for their kids to get better and come home. Christopher was adopted from China when he was a toddler.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know where he may be.

TUCHMAN: His mother and sister also adopted in China, live in Florida. Anneke Napp says she loves her son very much, but -

ANNEKE NAPP, CHRISTOPHER'S MOM: He would hit me. He would kick me. He would throw things at me. He would throw things at her.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Would he say threatening things to you?

NAPP: Absolutely.

TUCHMAN: Like what? NAPP: Like that he was going to hurt me, that he was going to kill me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And now she said she's made a painful decision, mainly because she fears for her daughter's well-being.

NAPP: I have decided not to bring him home.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Ever?

(Voice-over): Alec's parents have a much different outlook.

(on camera): Is there a chance that you would realize that maybe he would be too dangerous to be back in your family setting and that you would send him to a foster home or you can get another family to adopt him?


BETH COLE: No, not at all.

TUCHMAN: Any chance at all?

BETH COLE: No. He's our son.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, Eureka, Montana.


PHILLIPS: We were talking about this adoption gone wrong, the one that happened in Russia on my blog this morning. We want to know what you think. Go to and post your thoughts. I mean, what would you do if you had a situation like this? Would you keep the child? Would you send the child back to another foreign country? Would you send him to a special ranch like the family that you just met?

It's an interesting conversation. Give us your input. I would like to read some of the responses later in the hour.

Then, tonight at 10:00 Eastern, what happens when adoptive parents change their minds and want to give a child back? Well, now, a new program could keep these family together. Anderson Cooper has a special report on "AC 360."

We are awaiting, right now, President Obama's arrival. He's headed to the opening of the nuclear summit in Washington, bringing together world leaders to talk about the threat of nukes.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN severe weather center. Not a whole lot of severe weather east of the Mississippi. Big storm out west. And we're just looking for some rain out east. Because the pollen levels are just absurdly high. We'll go over that forecast in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: I did some digging in toxic town U.S.A. where the cash crops include asbestos, arsenic and PCBs, stuff the Chamber of Commerce doesn't put in the brochure. The people who live there say all that poison is to blame for infant deaths and birth defects. Now, it looks like someone finally is listening.


PHILLIPS: That's a powerful sound and a powerful moment. Cars stop in traffic. People pause on sidewalks. The wail of air ride sirens marking Holocaust Remembrance day in Israel. People remembering the six million Jews who died in World War II's darkest chapter.

Sending the golden hour into overtime when some of the wounded in Afghanistan can't be taken quickly to the E.R. it may come to them. CNN's Chris Lawrence in Kabul with the story.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An armored emergency room doesn't have to wait for the wounded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Critically injured patient. Let's go.

LAWRENCE: It rolls up to the front line.

LT. CATHERINE VISINTAINER, U.S. NAVY: This is the mobile trauma bay. It's the front line of medical defense for the Marine Corps. And we basically take a patient who would probably die without immediate life-giving care. We stop bleeding. We secure an airway. We keep them alive long enough to get them to the O.R..

CPL. BRENT LARIMER, U.S. MARINE CORPS: They always talk about that golden hour. If you get help within that first hour, you pretty much are good to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately in theater it is not always feasible to get a patient to a hospital within one hour.

Especially if you're dealing with things like weather getting involved. If you can't get your air asset in, you need something that can hold those patients over until you can get that helicopter in. So our job is to keep them alive for longer than that golden hour and extend that golden hour to an hour, an hour and a half, two hours.

CPL. KYLE GREEN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: They are by far probably the greatest mental asset that keeps Marines like myself and my buddies go out on these convoys. You know, if we end up getting hit, knowing, hey, it's going to be OK.

LAWRENCE (on camera): But all of that means nothing if wounded troops can't, in a very short time frame, get to that next level of care like the surgeons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we get somebody here alive, that 98 percent of them will leave here alive.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): A collection of tents and trailers is being replaced by a new concrete hospital. And the doctors are already prepping for the big offensive against the Taliban come June.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know the exact date when it's going to occur, but we have already made changes in the way we receive casualties, we've increased the number of trauma teams that we have.


PHILLIPS: Chris Lawrence now joining us from Kabul. So Chris, tell us more about the new hospital that's being built.

LAWRENCE: Well, Kyra, you know, it looks just like any hospital that you see there in Atlanta, New York, D.C. and it's going to give them increased capacity by a third. Unfortunately, not every unit will be able to take advantage of the advantages of some of those mobile emergency rooms. Those cost about $500,000 each and right now there's only six of them in all of Afghanistan. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Great story. Chris Lawrence, appreciate it.

Are you sniffling and sneezing? That gunk in your throat and the green on your car? It's pollen season for sure. What you can do about it. Coming up.


PHILLIPS: Our correspondent, Nic Robertson, right now telling us that early evidence into the cause of that plane crash that killed Poland's president is pointing to two causes, bad weather and the pilot failing to effectively communicate with air traffic controllers.

President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and many other political and business and military leaders were killed in that crash in western Russia. 97 people were killed. The funeral for the president is Saturday.

New York City's Chinatown was the scene of a massive seven-alarm fire overnight, taking more than 250 firefighters, more than four hours to bring this blaze under control. About two dozen people were hurt and so were some firefighters. Up to 60 families are now homeless.

Honoring our troops - a big crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina rather, welcome back thousands of National Guard soldiers from the 30th heavy brigade combat team. They came back in February from their second deployment in Iraq. Seven soldiers in that unit were killed in action. They were deployed in southern Baghdad to work with Iraqi forces.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a great experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything. But I'm glad to be back home. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was emotional, you know, the people that we lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of like the final conclusion to a long, drawn out process. And I'm glad it's over.


PHILLIPS: The 30th heavy brigade combat team was the first guard unit sent to Iraq twice for unit operation Iraqi Freedom.

Oh, springtime. The flowers and trees in bloom and your sinuses under siege. It's pollen season for much of the country right now. And that means millions of you are suffering with allergy problems. How bad is it? 120 is considered extremely high on the pollen count. In Atlanta today, the pollen count is 2,492.

Here are some tips on avoiding that yucky stuff. Keep your doors closed, change clothing. Stay indoors at peak times and keep checking the pollen count. Rob Marciano, do you have bad allergies?

MARCIANO: I didn't until I moved here.

PHILLIPS: Yes, same with me.


MARCIANO: (INAUDIBLE) just gives you a few years in the south and you get it pretty good. And you have seen this around town. No doubt about it, Kyra. You know, these pine trees just - it's just snowing yellow out there. The past week, week and a half, you see it blowing around your cars. The allergy specialists tell me that this is not the stuff that really makes you sneeze, that people are allergic to. When these stuff gets into your eyes and irritates you, it's the more microscopic type of pollens that really begin to make the allergy sufferers suffer. But nonetheless this gets on your car, does that all kind of stuff and it just gets inside your house.

And look at the extreme amount of real estate that is in the high category. Mid Atlantic, down across the south of the mid plains and even in through the southwest. The West Coast getting a bit of a break now because of some rainfall. But you know, we had a lot of rain, pretty much got rid of the drought over the past few months because of the heavy rainfall. And we had a cold winter, long-lasting winter. So that kind of almost delayed spring.

But when spring sprung, it did so in a hurry. We dried out. A lot of folks in the 80s and 90s. That just got all the trees, well, doing their whole thing. West Coast getting a little bit of a break with the rainfall. So that's the place you want to go. Good living out there, Kyra, as you know. So their pollen counts are relatively low compared to everybody else.

Give it another week or so. Maybe we'll get some rain here, but it still to be pretty dry for the next several days across much of the eastern third of the country. PHILLIPS: I know, we need a good rain to get it all out of here. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right.

PHILLIPS: For more information, just check out our web site, top story at

Not in my backyard, a town with toxic chemicals. Parents afraid of the effects. So what did our investigation uncovered. Well, the Fed stepped in and we got new revelations.


PHILLIPS: What is going on in Kettleman, California? After a month-long CNN investigation, we may now have some answers. Why care about this small California farming community? Because it involves children. It involves people struggling to be heard, and it involves birth defects. Nearly a dozen since 2007. The Environmental Protection Agency was put on notice and began an intense investigation.

Now, the initial findings have been released. Waste Management, the company that owns and operating a toxic waste dump in Kettleman, has improperly disposed of a chemical known to cause cancer and reproductive problems. It's the latest development in an investigation that we first brought you in March.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How do we know if a birth defect is more than one mother's misery?

MARIA SALCEDO, KETTLEMAN CITY RESIDENT (through translator): It's such a small town and such a large problem. We want to give our children life, not death.

PHILLIPS: How do we know if Maria Salcedo's misery is part of a pattern? Maria is not alone in the farming community of Kettleman City, California. Her misery has company.


(on camera): When you're driving through the San Joaquin Valley here in California, it's beautiful. It's green, it's lush, and there's rolling hills. But just a few feet off this busy highway, something else that grabs your attention -- the largest toxic waste dump west of the Mississippi.

(voice-over): Last year, 400,000 tons of hazardous waste, including lead and cancer-linked PCBs found in plastics was dumped here. Less than four miles away is Kettleman City. A small, poor community with no grocery store, no high school, and few sidewalks.

The town of 1,500 is also plagued with poor air quality, unsafe drinking water and exposure to pesticides. It also has a startling number of birth defects that some residents believe could be linked to this toxic dump.

In the past three years, 10 babies have been born with birth defects. Three of those children have died. Small town, troubling numbers. Troubling for mothers like Maria Salcedo and Daria Hernandez. Daria's son Joel was born with a cleft pallet.

(on camera): When you look at these pictures as a mom, how does it make you feel?

DARIA HERNANDEZ, KETTLEMAN CITY RESIDENT (through translator): It makes me sad because I look at them, and I remember what we had to go through. It was difficult for him to eat.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): Maria's daughter Ashley also had a cleft pallet. She died.

(on camera): When you knew she didn't have a strong immune system and that you were losing her, what did you say to her?

SALCEDO (through translator): I apologized for not taking her earlier to the hospital. But the doctors told me it wasn't my fault, that with babies like this, this is what happens.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): And just this past February, another baby was born with a birth defect. This is baby Azul (ph). The tenth known case in Kettleman City. Yet in December, local officials voted in favor of expanding this waste site, sparking protests across this small town.

Our investigation led us to a shocking document. Take a look at this 1984 report commissioned by the state of California. It actually identifies communities that are least likely to resist a waste site in their area. And some key characteristics? Low income and Catholic.


PHILLIPS: In a statement to CNN, Waste Management says its facility operates safely and is fully protective of human health. In addition, four government entities have concluded that Waste Management operates safely. However, we discovered past EPA violations, including failure to perform monthly monitoring for fluids at its PCB landfill. Ingrid Brostrom is an attorney with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment.

BROSTROM: If there is any potential that these birth defects are caused by environmental contaminants, then we shouldn't be introducing any new contaminants. There should not be an expansion of the existing hazardous waste dump.

PHILLIPS: Waste Management has paid $3 million in taxes to the county.

BROSTROM: It's essential that the county knows what is causing these birth defects before the hazardous waste dump can be expanded. And, I mean, it really appears like this is really a case about the money.

PHILLIPS: So now, residents and activists have filed a lawsuit against Kings County.

RICHARD VALLE, CHAIRMAN OF THE KINGS COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: For any discussion of an item on the consent calendar --

PHILLIPS: Richard Valle, the chairman of the Kings County Board of Supervisors, agreed to an interview with CNN. But when we came to town, he didn't show up.

(on camera): Supervisor Valle?


PHILLIPS: Hi, I'm Kyra Phillips of CNN.


PHILLIPS: Hi, you canceled our interview last week. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions, most importantly why you voted to expand the toxic waste site, even without a thorough health investigation.

VALLE: Do you know that I'm the one who called for the health investigation?

PHILLIPS (voice-over): Valle did ask the state for an investigation into birth defects on December 15th. But just a week later, on December 22nd, he voted to expand the waste site.

VALLE: I separated the health concerns out of Kettleman City with the land use decision. The land use decision that I made as it relates to the permit of the Waste Management expansion.

PHILLIPS (on camera): The point is why vote to expand the toxic waste site when that investigation is not done. When the families haven't been talked to and the kids haven't been studied when the numbers haven't been looked at.

VALLEY: But I answered that already. I answered that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That question is subject to litigation right now. That's what we're saying is talk to our attorney about those issues.

VALLE: I would be more than happy to talk about this. I have out in the chambers in public meetings. But right now, I have to stand with the county. Folks have filed a lawsuit against us as I thought I had delivered with the health investigation. To some people apparently, that's not good enough.

PHILLIPS: Would you live in Kettleman City? Would you feel comfortable if your wife was pregnant in Kettleman City right now? VALLE: I can't answer that question. That's not -- I don't think that's a fair question.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): Maria Salcedo echoes the mothers of Kettleman City.

SALCEDO (through translator): I want a response, and I want it quickly. Nobody has given us any answers. And children continue to be born sick.


PHILLIPS: And we want to emphasize that there has been no official connection between the hazardous waste facility and the alarming number of birth defects. Also, the lawsuit filed against Kings County is still pending.

And here's what Waste Management told us once the EPA's findings were released. "The EPA," quote, "detected very low levels of PCBs confined to the inside of a PCB storage and flushing building and a small area of soil adjacent to the storage building. The inside of the building has already been cleaned, according to EPA standards, and the affected soil will be immediately cleaned to meet EPA requirements. EPA also noted three paperwork violations which have already been addressed. Recently completed monitoring of air soil and vegetation at the site has confirmed that the PCBs storied and treated at the Kettleman Hills facility have no impact on human health and the environment. The health and safety of Kettleman City residents and all Kings County residents are our highest priority."

Some hip-hop rhymes with TEA Party flair.




PHILLIPS: Yep. Those were sights and sounds from last month's Tea Party in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here are some images you don't see on TV, though. What goes on behind the scenes at the Tea Party?


PHILLIPS: Train trip through the scenic Alps of northern Italy suddenly turned horrible and deadly today. At least 11 dead and 20 injured after a landslide derailed the train. It happened near the city of Balzano where the railroad tracks cross a narrow gorge. We're told that a broken irrigation pipe is probably what caused the landslide.

And horribly enough, the mud from the slide entered the train's passenger carriages, suffocating many of those inside. We're told the death toll could rise.

A declaration of war on the Pakistani military. Hundreds of Taliban fighters attacked a security checkpoint near the border with Afghanistan. Two security personnel and dozens of militants died in the battle.

Times Square, Grand Central Station. CNN has learned that those were the expected targets for suspected terrorist Najibullah Zazi. Federal agents arrested Zazi in Denver before the planned subway attacks. Zazi tells investigators he wanted to carry out the attacks on either November 14, 15 or 16th.


PHILLIPS: When it comes to the economy, we have been getting positive signs lately. The Dow hit 11,000. Jobs were up added last month, and the economy is growing. Sounds like the recession is over. But is it?

Stephanie Elam in New York with the details. Stephanie, there's only one group can say the recession is officially over, right?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right, and that group is called the National Bureau of Economic Research, or the NBER, Kyra. And in a rare move, they have put out a statement that says it's basically too soon to call the end of the recession.

The statement goes on to say, "Although most indicators have turned up, the committee decided that the determination of the trough date on the basis of current data would be premature. Many indicators are quite preliminary at this time and will be revised in coming months." End quote there.

Now to call the end of the recession, the NBER needs to determine when the economy hit rock bottom. Because when there is nowhere to go but up, then we are officially in recovery mode. The problem is, many of the economic reports may be revised in the coming months. And it is not out of the question that they could be revised downward.

But most economists say the recession likely ended last summer. If that's the case, it would be the longest recession since the Great Depression. So far, the current record is 16 months. But, Kyra, as you mentioned before, the Dow getting across 11,000 earlier today. It's still there now. As you can see, 11,021. So, a little bit higher now. We'll see if we can end the day there. NASDAQ higher as well, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: That would be nice. Thanks, Steph.

Tea Party Express rolls toward Washington. What is the message the protesters want America to hear? They take CNN on the bus and inside the movement.


PHILLIPS: They're mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. The Tea Party Express is looking to share that anger. Today, the cross-country tour stops in upstate New York. They are rallying in Buffalo at the top of the hour. Then it's on to Syracuse. The Tea Partiers are carrying a message to Washington where the campaign ends this Thursday. Not coincidentally, that's April 15th, Tax Day. And we'll have special coverage.

Along the way, we have been taking you inside the grassroots movement.

CNN's political producer Shannon Travis has been blogging about the experience, the crowd, the message, the messengers. He joins us from Buffalo to share his perspective. So, Shannon, is there a new energy now that Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak is resigning?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Kyra, energy isn't even the word. This crowd is pumped up in Buffalo, New York. Along the route we have been following the Tea Party, primarily because of Congressman Bart Stupak's decision not to seek re-election. That's really reinvigorated the movement. A lot of the protestors are saying that they pushed him out. That a scortched-earth campaign that they ran against him in (AUDIO GAP) - that that effectively pushed him over the edge.

Of course, the Congressman says he's resigning to spend more time with family, that his health care vote was a crowning achievement for him and it's time for him to go. But these Tea Party activists, a number of them I have spoken with, say, no, it was our campaign that pushed him out. They have a lot of other Democrats and Republicans in their sights.

PHILLIPS: So, Shannon, the leader of the Tea Party tour says he intends to clean house. Here's what Mark Williams said. I want your reaction right after.


MARK WILLIAMS, CHAIRMAN, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: We need to purge both parties. We need to purge the Democrats of the Marxists and the Republicans and the weak ones. We are on a rhino hunt. We'll drive them to political extinction in the Republican party.


PHILLIPS: Shannon?

TRAVIS: That's right, Kyra. Mark Williams is actually the leader of the current Tea Party III tour. He wants to clean house, not just of Democrats but also what conservatives call rhinos -- Republicans in name only. (AUDIO GAP)

Funny enough, actually here, the Tea Party buses here haven't rolled in yet. One of the speakers just offstage just now just sent a message to Senator Scott Brown, the Republican. You know about the election he won in Massachusetts. He said he actually helped along with the Tea Party activists helped elect Scott Brown and he warned him that if he doesn't quote, "behave" he could fall political prey and come up in the Tea Party's crosshairs also. So, it gives you a sense of how active and passionate the Tea Party activists are. PHILLIPS: You wrote an article, Shannon, for, what really happens at the Tea Party rallies. Give us a sense of the behind the scenes. It's changed a lot since the party's inception. What do you think some of the misconceptions are?

TRAVIS: I can tell you one of the biggest misconceptions. One of the biggest misconceptions is the stereotype that most of them are racist, that there is an element of anti-Obama simply because he's black. A lot of the Tea Party activists I've spoken with have said that's the biggest misconception about them.

In just traveling the past few weeks and seeing a lot of the rallies, you absolutely see some signs that will be offensive to African-Americans, you absolutely see some fringe elements. But by and large, that doesn't tell the whole story. Most of the people I met have been welcoming, very warm, and that's probably one of the biggest misconceptions I have seen traveling with them.

PHILLIPS: We'll continue to follow what you write and follow the travels with you as well. Shannon Travis, thank you very much.

Tiger woods' new Nike commercial is fresh meat for the comedy writers of Saturday Night Live. It's a chuckle worth waiting for on the other side of a quick commercial time break.



PHILLIPS: All right. You just knew this was coming. SNL all over the new Tiger Woods' Nike ad -- you know the one -- with his late father talking to him? Watch Keenan Thompson play a squirming Tiger.


MALE ANNOUNCER: Tiger, I know this goes without saying, but when I'm gone, please don't use my voice in a commercial.


MALE ANNOUNCER: And if you do, please don't make it for a commercial trying to sell sneakers after a sex scandal. But you know that, right?


PHILLIPS: As for the real Tiger Woods, he's disappointed with his fourth-place finish at the Masters. Afterward, Woods said he's taking more time off to re-evaluate things.

No need to re-evaluate Lefty. Pro golfer Phil Mickelson with this putt from the 18th green won his third Masters Sunday at Augusta. But his best shot of the day was on the way to the clubhouse. Mickelson's wife Amy, diagnosed last year with breast cancer, here she is. She dashed to the course just in time to greet her winning hubby with something far more memorable than his third green jacket. (APPLAUSE)

PHILLIPS: After you see that, don't you ask -- Tiger who? Who cares?

How do you feel about the Tennessee mother who sent her adopted child back to Russia on a plane by himself? Your blog comments, next.


PHILLIPS: A Tennessee woman put her 7-year-old adopted son on a Moscow-bound flight and returned him home to Russia unannounced. The reason? She said the boy was violent and mentally unstable.

This story is all the talk on the blog this morning. Here's what some of you said.

"We adopted our son from Russia ten years ago. It was the best thing I have ever done. People who want to become parents need to realize kids don't come with manuals. Sometimes it's a tough job, but you don't give up on them."

This came from May. "Adoption is not shopping. Children are nonrefundable."

This came from Marie. "We adopted our daughter at the age of 9 from Russia. So many people are quick to condemn this mother and grandmother with no knowledge of the Russian adoption system. Russian officials are not forthcoming about mental health. We received one typed sheet of paper outlining our child's life of eight years. The system in Russia is very intimidating, and asking questions is risky."

From Julia. "I believe all sides are to blame. The Russian orphan age, American family and the American adoption agency. Justin is a human being who obviously needs a lot of love and attention. I am sad for him."

Well, remember, we want to hear from you always on these stories. Just log on to and share your comments. Sure appreciate you writing in to me today.

Tony Harris picks it up from here.

Tony, you ready?


PHILLIPS: Happy Monday.

HARRIS: Kyra, happy Monday. You have a great day. It's beautiful outside.

PHILLIPS: All right.