Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

Obama Asks Wall Street to Back Reform; Motor City Back from the Brink; "Dirty Girl" Culture Invades Media

Aired April 23, 2010 - 07:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and thanks so much for being with us on this Friday. It's the 23rd of April. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. Here are the big stories we're telling you about in the next 15 minutes.

There are new developments this morning on 11 suspected pirates that are now on their way to face prosecution in the United States. Is it a warning shot to others off the coast of East Africa? We're live in Washington.

ROBERTS: Oh, sorry. One disaster after the next in the Gulf of Mexico. The burning oil rig sinks raising fears of an ecological catastrophe. The coastguard says more than 300,000 gallons of oil could spill into the Gulf everyday. New details this morning on what's being done to minimize the impact.

CHETRY: And when storm chasers collide, there was so much extreme weather in Texas last night. Two camera teams actually ran into each other just a few hundred yards from this tornado. One of the three twisters that touched down in the Lone Star State, the same system now carving its way through the plains and threatening a lot of weekend plans.

And of course, the AMFix blog is up and running. We'd love for you to join the live conversation. We'd like you to weigh in on any stories in the news this morning that caught your attention. Go to CNN.com/AMFix, and we'll be reading your comments throughout the morning.

ROBERTS: But first, they terrorize the high seas and now they are facing the law of the land. Eleven suspected pirates accused of two attacks on U.S. Navy ships facing prosecution in the United States this morning. Six of them are accused of firing on the USS Ashland two weeks ago.

Jeanne Meserve joins us now live from Washington. Good morning, Jeanne.

JEANNE MERSERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. The 11 suspected pirates are expected to appear before a federal magistrate in Norfolk, Virginia early this morning. They were being flown in from east Africa last night where they've been held on U.S. navy ships.

They were all captured in waters off the coast of Somalia. Five of them were captures after an attack on the USS Nicolas on March 31st, and the other six were captured in another incident on April 10th in which pirates fired on the USS Ashland. The Ashland returned fire, the skiff caught fire, and the suspected pirates abandoned their boat.

They were brought on board the Ashland, and we expect to learn at their court appearance this morning the details of the charges against the alleged pirates. And federal officials have scheduled a press conference for later today, John.

ROBERTS: Jeanne, it's pretty rare pirates are brought to the United States for prosecution.

MERSERVE: Yes, very rare. There was one pirate brought to New York for trial, but he was said to be the first pirate tried here in about 100 years. Other pirates have been tried in Kenya, but Kenya recently said the cases were overburdening its judicial system. It didn't want any more of them.

There is some discussion about an international piracy court. The attacks have been a major issue off the coast of Somalia. But some people say these cases are hard to bring, hard to gather the evidence.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Meserve for us this morning, thanks.

CHETRY: Also developing this morning, the burning oil rig that sank off the coast of Louisiana now appears to be an environmental disaster in the making. And on top of that, 11 workers are still missing this morning. The search continues for them.

But also a five-mile slick of crude oil is spreading across the Gulf surface. Ed Lavandera is live in New Orleans.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, it is the potential to be a very serious environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials have begun the process of cleaning up. They have sent out a flotilla of more than 30 vessels, many of which will begin cleaning up the crude oil mix on the surface, a one to five-mile sheen.

The concern is really what's happening below the water. There's a container on the rig holding some 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Whether or not that ruptured or that has burnt up is not clear. So they are not exactly sure what is going on with those 700,000 gallons as well as the well below the water's surface, and that is believed to be dumping more than 360,000 gallons of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico.

But they are not exactly sure if that is indeed happening. They have not been able to assess that at this point because of the fire that had been raging for some time.

CNN iReporter, Michael Roberts, who was running a supply ship out of the Gulf of Mexico and responding to the distress call happening there when the fire erupted on this oil rig, has provided CNN some of the most amazing pictures of what it was like out there. Last night on CNN, Anderson Cooper's show, he talked about what was like to be so close to the oil rig fire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. MICHAEL ROBERTS, ODYSSEA MARINE: We arrived on location around 2:30 that morning. At that time it was still dark, but you could pretty much see it ablaze. It sort of resembled, I guess, the sun coming over the horizon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: Kiran, the great concern is going to be the environment impact as we try to assess that throughout the day today. State officials in Louisiana and Mississippi say they have not seen oil approaching state waters area, meaning beaches and that sort of thing are safe for now.

But they will closely monitor that throughout the day. But this is a big area for fishing as well. And officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say that tuna fishing could be severely impacted because of the spill as well.

CHETRY: And an update on the search and rescue, I understand it's still underway for the 11 unaccounted for on that oil rig?

LAVANDERA: Coast Guard officials say the sun is starting to come up, so we presume if they haven't launched already, they will do so soon. They stress any hope of really finding them alive has pretty much dwindled at this point.

CHETRY: Such a tragedy. Ed Lavandera for us this morning, thanks so much.

And in less than 30 minutes we'll speak with Rear Admiral Mary Landry about the Coast Guard's plan to continue the search for the missing 11, and how will they contain and clean up this oil spill?

ROBERTS: A powerful storm pounding the plains is threatening to wash out a lot of weekends. It's the same system that spawned three tornadoes in the Texas panhandle last night, one of them so impressive that it attracted competing teams of storm chasers. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that chaser right there next to it!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are outside --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're nuts!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: There you go. Who's more nuts?

(LAUGHTER)

No injuries or damage reported from the Texas twisters. The storm that spawned them is still out there and still moving across the country, and will be bringing problems to Tennessee and northern part of Georgia and maybe into part of the Carolinas this weekend as well.

(WEATHER BREAK)

ROBERTS: President Obama speaking directly to Wall Street, saying don't let it happen again. Is it change that banks can believe in? We'll head downtown for reaction to the president's plan for reform coming right up.

CHETRY: And at 7:19, the U.S. auto industry has a pulse, but is it a false hope? We'll check in.

ROBERTS: And at 7:25, from girls gone wild to housewives gone mad, pop culture being flooded with dirty girls. How do you explain that to your daughter?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: It's 11 minutes past the hour.

Don't let history repeat itself. That was the president's message in a speech to Wall Street calling for more government regulation and for bankers and Republicans to get on board.

ROBERTS: Last time many of them were allowed to escape with the bailout, some with a golden parachute, but that may be about to change. New measures could come up for a vote in the Senate as early as Monday. Allan Chernoff has been looking into all of this and joins us now. Good morning, Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. The financial meltdown changed everything. Now Wall Street executives pretty much believe financial reform is going to come. So now they are trying to make the best of it. Some of their client believe reform is all for the better.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: Veteran investor Barry Mann believes Wall Street is out of control, an opinion based not only on the ups and downs of his portfolio, but also on his years as a corporate salesman for Tiffany, where he often dealt with securities executives.

BARRY MANN, INVESTOR: Left to the devices and desires of their own hearts they will take it all and run. It's nothing new. It's always been this way. Now it's time to change that.

CHERNOFF: What Wall Street wants to change is its public perception, especially after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Goldman Sachs with fraud last week. Tim Ryan, chief executive of Wall Street's lobbying and trade group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, says he welcomes new regulation.

TIM RYAN, SECURITIES INDUSTRY AND FINANCIAL MARKETS ASSOCIATION: Wall Street needs reasonable reform. Everybody in the industry is in favor of getting something done.

CHERNOFF (on camera): That change of position is historic, for decades Wall Street successfully fought off efforts to impose more oversight over the securities business. Industry executives said self-regulation works just fine.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): But the financial meltdown turned Wall Street topsy-turvy and President Obama told executives to face the new political reality.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I want to urge you to join us instead of fighting us in this effort.

RYAN: We know reform is coming. We would like to see it be responsible.

CHERNOFF (on camera): And the way the bills stand now, can you live with them?

RYAN: We would like to see change. We're close.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): The industry supports a mechanism to ensure the orderly liquidation of failed firms to avoid the near catastrophic chaos caused by the Lehman Brothers collapse, independent directors on compensation committees to determine executive pay, more oversight of investment contracts known as derivatives that often trade between firms but not on official exchanges.

But the industry remains opposed to a plan from former Federal Reserve Chairman by Paul Volcker to limit the kinds of investments securities firms can make.

RYAN: The biggest concerns are we don't think the Volcker rule really makes any sense.

CHERNOFF: That means the battle is not over. Wall Street will be lobbying intensely in the coming weeks to ensure reform is not too burdensome. And for people like Barry Mann, even new regulation won't make Wall Street appealing. He says he bailed out of the stock market three years ago and is never putting a dime back in.

MANN: Things are not good. That's it. I'm glad I got out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: Wall Street is hoping that many people get back in and are hoping to have a return of confidence in the financial markets once there is more regulatory reform. ROBERTS: So your character there in the piece said, OK, so reform is coming. We just want to make sure it is sensible reform. How much of a battle will there be between Wall Street and the administration and Congress to make sure it is what they believe is sensible reform?

CHERNOFF: There is still a battle brewing, no doubt about it. Wall Street wants to be able to retain some of its cash cows, some of the areas where it has made millions and even billions of dollars. And that focus is very much that Volcker rule that would try to prevent Wall Street firms from being able to invest in hedge funds and private equity and a lot of these deals that are put together that are big moneymakers but also they can be very, very risky.

And what the administration is saying here is hey, you guys are bankers. You are responsible for the world financial system. It almost collapsed. Pull away from that risk. Be conservative. But if you're very conservative, you can't make massive money.

ROBERTS: Exactly.

CHETRY: Right. You're not bringing in those huge returns.

CHERNOFF: Wall Street doesn't like that.

CHETRY: Of course.

ROBERTS: Allan Chernoff, thanks so much.

Well, as the economy crashed banks ran wild and Bernie Madoff was doing things --

CHETRY: Ponzi?

ROBERTS: -- that we can't say on television to people, all of those investors. What was the SEC doing? What were SEC employees and officials doing? Apparently, they were surfing the Internet for porn.

An internal investigation obtained by CNN shows 33 Securities and Exchange Commission workers and contractors cruised adult Web sites on government computers on government time, most in just the past 2 1/2 years. Right when the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression was happening right under their noses and, again, Bernie Madoff was doing what he was doing to his investors, at least one supervisor right clicked on those images and saved them to his SEC hard drive.

CHETRY: All right. Well, coming up next on the Most News in the Morning, are you U.S. lawmakers on the verge of a big turnaround? There's glimmers of hope out there and some indications that it may be the case, but is it false hope? We're "Minding Your Business" next.

Sixteen and a half minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: After some rough times, things are beginning to, dare we say it, look up in Detroit, at least for automakers. General Motors says it has repaid the billions that it borrowed from Uncle Sam five years ahead of schedule. Chrysler announcing a first quarter profit this year, and Ford has been on a tear for months now. So is it as good as it looks or just better than it was? And, of course, we all know it's pretty terrible back then.

Back with us "Minding Your Business" is Rick Newman. He covers the auto industry for U.S. News & World Report. Good to see you this morning, Rick.

RICK NEWMAN, CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESP., U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Hi, John.

ROBERTS: So is it really good or is it just better than terrible?

NEWMAN: I think at this point it's better. It's not good all across the board up in Detroit, but let's break it out by company.

I mean, Ford is a clear winner at this point. Ford is making money on it as we know it, with no bailout money, didn't declare bankruptcy like its competitors. Ford has got some good cars out there, and they're gaining market share and kind of going full speed ahead at this point.

As you pointed out, GM and Chrysler, they're certainly better than they were a year ago. That's not the best reference point because they were both on their way to bankruptcy a year ago.

ROBERTS: Sure. Yes.

NEWMAN: And, you know, people were not buying their cars. But they're looking good. I'd say GM is ahead at this point. They started to pay back a lot of this money they've gotten from taxpayers. That's obviously good news.

Chrysler is just a bigger question mark. They say, you know, you've got some new cars coming later this year. They've had a real drought of new products. Not much new in showrooms in a couple of years. And their future is predicated on these Fiats that are kind of interesting. But Fiat hasn't been in the U.S. market for more than 20 years.

ROBERTS: Yes.

NEWMAN: We don't know how Americans are going to react to that.

ROBERTS: You used to see the odd Fiat on the streets a couple of decades ago, and some that people have lovingly taken care of are still on the road today.

NEWMAN: Right.

ROBERTS: But they're all over Europe, very popular in Europe. NEWMAN: Yes. And what Fiat brings is they've got great technology for small cars and fuel efficient engines. That's obviously the trend but, you know, the saying in Detroit has always been small cars equal small profit and they're right about that.

ROBERTS: Yes.

NEWMAN: And just because you have a few interesting curiosities coming in the next year or two, that does not mean in itself that Chrysler is going to back on its feet.

ROBERTS: Trucks, trucks, that's where they make money.

NEWMAN: That's right. They all make money.

ROBERTS: I was fascinated to see this "Associated Press" poll. It was taken back in March when Toyota was sort of at the height of the recalls (ph) that was happening to it.

NEWMAN: Right.

ROBERTS: But take a look at how things have changed. People were asked if they favor U.S. vehicles or Asian vehicles. Look at how things have changed. Look at, first of all, the figures on the right.

2006, 46 percent of people said they favor Asian vehicles. Only 29 percent favor American vehicles. Look at how those numbers changed in March. Thirty-eight percent favor American vehicles. Thirty-three percent favor Asian vehicles. So it's a rise of nine points for American vehicles but a drop of 13 points for Asian. Is that simply a reflection of Toyota's woes or are people starting to come back around now?

NEWMAN: That is a remarkable finding, I have to say. Nobody a year ago could have predicted that anything would happen and they would show results like that. It is largely a result of Toyota. And what we're finding is Toyota is actually bringing down some of the other Japanese brands a little bit. Honda doesn't have any problems like this, but it's actually bringing down and Nissan a little bit. The other thing going on behind -- right behind that is that the American cars actually are getting better.

ROBERTS: Well, let's take a look at some of those.

NEWMAN: Yes.

ROBERTS: For example, the Ford Fusion, which is the 2010 motor trend car of the year.

NEWMAN: That's right. Yes, this is a great car. And this is exactly the kinds of cars that they neglected for a long time. You know, it's just a mainstream family car which they sort of forgot about in favor of SUVs and Ford that got back. They've got a hybrid version of that. It's the real deal. It's really a terrific car.

ROBERTS: The venerable Mustang and the Camaro? NEWMAN: That's right. Kind of exciting, muscle cars again. I mean, these went away in the 1990s for all practical purposes and they've even got models of these that are getting 30 miles per gallon on the highway, both of these cars with pretty good performance.

ROBERTS: Wow. I remember my friend's mother '67 Mustang got that six miles to a gallon.

NEWMAN: Right. And no one cared back then.

ROBERTS: Nobody cared back then, because gas was 49 cents a gallon.

NEWMAN: These companies -- these companies have proven they really can put engineering technology into these cars.

ROBERTS: How about the Chevy Traverse?

NEWMAN: This is another great car, which is filling a niche that everybody wanted. It's basically like a minivan inside but it looks a lot cooler on the outside.

ROBERTS: Oh, Kiran will love that.

NEWMAN: Again, a really clever idea. They gave customers what they want.

ROBERTS: And the Buick Regal?

NEWMAN: Buick is on its way back. They're trying to compete with luxury --

ROBERTS: It's not a bad car. It looks like a Lexus.

NEWMAN: It's a very sharp-looking car.

ROBERTS: Sort of a combination between the Mercedes and the Lexus.

NEWMAN: And that's exactly what they want you to say. So -- and these cars are getting good reviews so far. This is just coming out of market right about now.

ROBERTS: All right.

NEWMAN: And big hopes for this. So, you know, these cars are getting better. They're not just winning at Toyota's expense. They're winning on their own, but they need to keep doing that.

ROBERTS: The American big three beginning to flex their muscles again. Let's see if it continues to go up. Rick Newman, great to see you this morning.

NEWMAN: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Thanks for coming in. You like that minivan, huh?

CHETRY: Well, you got the minivan. We have a Buick. Now we can upgrade to the Regal.

ROBERTS: I saw you there. You were starting to --

CHETRY: Coming up next on the Most News in the Morning, young women behaving badly. Is it female empowerment or is it a lack of self-respect? And are these the girls that your little ones may look up to. Carol Costello with a "Gut Check" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 27 minutes past the hour right now. Your top stories three minutes away. First, though, an "A.M. Original," something you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING.

It's a bad girls' world these days, apparently, from the out of control teens to the real housewives.

ROBERTS: To picture after picture of stumbling, fumbling celebrities. So how do you tell your daughter that reality TV isn't really real? Carol Costello has got our Friday "Gut Check" for us and she's here this morning.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's on my page, John. That reality TV is sadly real because there is what some call this curious social trend going on. And it involves women, young and not so young. You might call it a dirty girl culture, a celebration of being rude, crude and sometimes very, very drunk? So should mothers worry?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): Dirty girls, they're crude and sometimes violent, like a potty-mouth tween in the movie "Kick Ass." And the popular comedian Chelsea Handler --

CHELSEA HANDLER, COMEDIAN: Same (EXPLETIVE DELETED) body in three years.

COSTELLO: -- whose raunchy sex talk and love of alcohol has three best sellers.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Finish the sentence. A day without vodka is --

HANDLER: Not a real day.

COSTELLO: Just ask pop star Kesha whose hit song celebrates promiscuity and drinking until you pass out in a stranger's bathtub.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KESHA: With a bottle a day because when I leave for the night I ain't coming back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: While it may be just a catchy dance tune, a clever movie at a funny stick (ph), is it something women need to worry about?

SUSAN GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: Now there seems to be this strange, it's like a hazing ritual or badge of honor. How drunk can you get? How bad can you behave? How close to the edge can you go? I don't get it.

COSTELLO: Giles says it's as if girls are celebrating the worst of frat boy behavior as a way to female empowerment. And if you ask some young women, that's exactly it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, definitely. Yes, I think it's women trying to challenge men.

COSTELLO: When it comes to binge drinking, experts say, sadly women are up to the challenge. According to Southern Illinois University, in 1996, 33 percent of women admitted to binge drinking or having five drinks in one sitting in the past two weeks. In 2008, that percentage shot up to nearly 41 percent.

JACLYN FRIEDMAN, EDITOR, "YES MEANS YES": It's a really troubling message.

COSTELLO: That's disturbing to feminist editor Jaclyn Friedman. She says women having fun or making stupid mistakes is one thing, but adopting disruptive, raunchy behavior is scary.

FRIEDMAN: When it comes to sexual assault, most rapists use alcohol to facilitate sexual assault.

COSTELLO: So do we need to worry, or is this just entertainment? Experts say that's something parents ought to ask their daughters about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: That song is so catchy, you just want to sing and dance to it that most people don't really pay attention to. The lyrics in that is the problem. Friedman says the real problem is a lack of reality-based role models in our popular culture. Women are either depicted as angelic as in Taylor Swift, or Snooki in "Jersey Shore." There's no one in the middle.

We want you to weigh in on this this morning. You can post your comment on our blog, cnn.com/amfix.

CHETRY: All right, you gave us a lot to chew over this morning for sure Carol. So I'm sure those comments are going to be rolling in. COSTELLO: I hope so.

CHETRY: The kids are watching Nick Jr. until they are at least 15.

COSTELLO: Kiran, you are closing your eyes to reality. (INAUDIBLE) find out things early.

ROBERTS: It's easier that way. Carol, thanks so much.

Crossing the half hour, it's time now for this morning's top stories. A mystery space craft operated by the U.S. military is now orbiting the planet. The unmanned test vehicle which looks like a baby shuttle, blasted into space last night from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The X37B as it's known, is carrying a payload of experiments that the Air Force is keeping under tight wraps. Officials say the space craft could stay in orbit for up to nine months.

CHETRY: Health concerns this morning for two of the three American hikers who've been held captive in Iran for nearly nine months. Swiss diplomats were able to visit Shane Bower (ph), Sara Short (ph) and Josh Vital (ph) in prison yesterday, spoke to their parents. The three friends were reportedly considering going on a hunger strike.

ROBERTS: And some extreme weather in America's heartland overnight. A mile-wide twister touched down in Lakeland (ph), Kansas. No damage done. In parts of Texas the same system spawned three tornadoes. Storm chasers were converging on the storm and actually kind of running into each other.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FROM SEVERESTUDIOS.COM: Here we go. Look at that chaser right there next to it!

Oh, my God.

They are outside --

They are nuts!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: I want to see their pictures.

CHETRY: All the while that humongous funnel cloud touching down the whole time.

This morning authorities are fearing a potential environmental disaster after an oil rig burning out of control in the Gulf of Mexico sank yesterday. Right now there is a five-mile slick of crude 40 miles offshore.

ROBERTS: A number of specialized boats are heading to the area with skimmers and other equipment to try to minimize the environmental impact. Joining us now live from New Orleans is Rear Admiral Mary Landry. She's the commander for the eighth Coast Guard district. Admiral, great to see you this morning. If you could first of all, could you update us on the status of the search for the 11 missing oil workers?

REAR ADM. MARY LANDRY, COMMANDER, 8TH COAST GUARD DISTRICT: Yes, I can. We are continuing the search today for the 11 missing workers. However and our sympathies go out to the families who are waiting word, but briefings of the survivors lead us to believe that these 11 workers may have been on the rig when the explosion occurred. So we'll continue searching through the day. And before we secure from the search we'll contact the families to let them know.

CHETRY: We certainly wish everybody the best. I know that's a tough situation out there right now as they are trying to look for these 11 people. And the hopes are dimming a little bit this morning. I want to ask you about the environmental impact. There are concerns that this could be a major disaster. What is the latest on how much oil that you're dealing with and whether or not there are concerns about leaking from inside the well?

LANDRY: We are very much leaning forward in a response posture. We have a one mile by five-mile rainbow sheen and crude oil mix 40 miles offshore that we've already been actively skimming. That is leftover residual from the explosion and the incident yesterday. What we are also doing is 24/7, we have a remotely operated vehicle that we're getting a visual feed in our command center and it also has sonar capability. We are monitoring the subsurface and the well head to ensure there is no crude leaking from -- emanating from the ocean floor.

ROBERTS: What's the status of that at the moment Admiral because we had heard predictions from some officials that as much as 336,000 gallons of crude could be leaking from the well head each and every day. Are you saying that right now there's no crude oil that's leaking from the well head?

LANDRY: I am saying that there's no crude oil at this time leaking from the well head. There's no crude oil leaking from the riser that is adjacent to it. However, we are in a very forward leaning and robust response posture. Should we have any kind of leakage, we will be ready to respond.

CHETRY: And what are your options in terms of responding? What's the strategy, if indeed that situation changes and there is underwater leakage?

LANDRY: We have a very, very practiced response posture, working with Federal, state, local officials and the private sector. This is all a result of the oil pollution act of 1990. We exercise this and we use it in responses in this country. And we are taking -- pulling out all of the stops and making sure we have prepositioned assets, offshore deep water skimmer, plenty of boom, shoreline capabilities, shoreline response capabilities so we have a very forward-leaning and robust response posture that is under way to prepare, to anticipate should this happen.

ROBERTS: At the moment, Admiral, it sounds like given the circumstances, it's almost the best case scenario here. You do have this sheen, as you called it, on the top of the water. A lot of the crude my understanding is burned off in the fire and you're sort of left with some residual. What are the potential environmental impacts here?

LANDRY: Well, our culture is to prepare for our worst case scenario. You don't rest -- you don't rest on any good news. You absolutely have to be very forward leaning. We have well-documented and identified sensitive areas of coast line, marine life that's at risk.

All of that is pre-identified in what we call an area contingency plan. This is what we exercise all the time, working with the states, working with the locals, working with the private sector to make sure we are ready to respond very fully and comprehensively. We also work with NOAA, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration who can provide us spill trajectories and estimate where this oil, should it start emanating, where is it going to go? How can we best get ahead of it and stay on top of it?

CHETRY: You talked about some of the marine life at risk. Can you tell us more on what would possibly be at risk if this indeed turned into a bigger spill?

LANDRY: Right, we're right off the coast of Louisiana. It's a really rich fisheries ground. We have to really respect the commercial and recreational fishermen who really rely on their livelihood in these waters. That's one aspect and certainly the sensitive coast line of Louisiana. We also have Mississippi, Alabama very close by so we'll be working with these states and we've already been in contact with them to stay forward leaning. We're going to continue to monitor 24/7 and we're going to watch and try to really control this at the source.

ROBERTS: All right. Rear Admiral Mary Landry, great to talk to you this morning. Thanks so much for giving us your time.

LANDRY: Thank you.

CHETRY: Still ahead, the tough immigration bill unleashing activism in Arizona and beyond. Arizona governor feeling the pressure from so many weighing in. We're going to have the latest on what's going on in Arizona, a key border state, 37 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Forty minutes past the hour. Welcome back to The Most News in the Morning. Arizona's governor is calling for more troops to patrol her state's border with Mexico. It comes at a time when a fight over a controversial immigration bill there is heating up. This bill has now passed both state houses but Governor Brewer has not said whether or not she'll sign it. There are plenty of Arizona residents making their voices heard and our Casey Wian has been tracking this developing story from Phoenix.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, there are less than 48 hours left for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to sign or veto a controversial law that has bitterly divided people here in Arizona and nationwide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN (voice-over): Jan Brewer's office had to install an extra phone line to handle all of the calls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you asking the governor to veto it or sign it?

WIAN: Thousands and thousands of cars both for and against an impending Arizona law that would give local police more power to apprehend illegal immigrants. Opponents prayed inside and marched outside. Arizona 1070 would require police when practical to check the immigration status of people they have a reasonable suspicion of being in the United States illegally. Brewer has until midnight Saturday to either sign, veto the bill or do nothing, in which case it becomes law. Although the bill specifically prohibits officers from using race or skin color as the sole basis for an immigration status check, opponents still believe it will lead to racial profiling.

MANUELA SHEEHAN, OPPOSES IMMIGRATION BILL: There's so many families in this community that are paranoid, not knowing whether they can even walk the streets, take their kids to school, go to the grocery store.

WIAN: What do you say to those fears?

SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: Absolutely not and this is where those people, mainly outside of Arizona, should be ashamed. That they are now putting us, the protectors of our families as the boogey men, that we are just going to go out and randomly stop people because of their race or color or some other reason, that's not what we do. We go after criminals.

WIAN: A busload of out of state activists arrived Thursday, joining protesters who far outnumbered supporter at the capital. That may be not be case statewide.

LYNNE BREYER, SUPPORTS IMMIGRATION BILL: This is not the perfect immigration bill. But as a resident in Arizona for 27 years, I have watched this problem grow and grow and grow. The bigger it gets, the more dangerous it gets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Back at the governor's office, overwhelmed staffers answer phones in rotating shifts, fielding calls from a divided public, anxiously awaiting the governor's decision. Many opponents of the bill expected the governor to sign it on Thursday, promise they will be here either protesting or celebrating throughout the weekend. John and Kiran?

CHETRY: Casey Wian, thanks.

ROBERTS: Got a tornado outbreak yesterday in parts of Texas, other areas of the south. It's kind of all moving eastward up into Georgia and Tennessee. Jus how bad is the weekend going to be in some areas? Rob Marciano is checking it all out for us and he's got the forecast coming up next, 43 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Brand-new song from Michael Buble that we're treating you to this morning, 46 minutes after the hour. A look at sunny New York City and central park and the main reservoir there at the top of your screen. Jacqueline Onassis reservoir.

CHETRY: Yes, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis reservoir.

ROBERTS: A little jogging track around it.

CHETRY: I think it's (INAUDIBLE) miles.

ROBERTS: Makes me want to get out and run. Too bad I don't have time. Sunny and 46 right now. Later on today, 67 degrees and looks like it's going to be mostly sunny as well.

CHETRY: That's right. You can't use that as an excuse. The president works out every day and he's busier than us.

ROBERTS: I work out almost every day but I've never been a runner. It hurts too much.

CHETRY: It does.

ROBERTS: Knees, shoulders, the big thing between your shoulders bobbing around like this, it just hurts.

CHETRY: Rob Marciano with the forecast for us this morning. Mr. Rob, what about you?

(WEATHER REPORT)

CHETRY: All right. This morning's top stories just minutes away. We need to edit together all of Rob's double entendres. He doesn't mean it either, that's the thing. He really doesn't. Top secret space plane, the military saying little about the mysterious mission and the shroud of secrecy that's leading to some pretty wild theories out there.

ROBERTS: Five minutes after the hour. Cruising porn sites on the job at the Securities and Exchange Commission? A new report shows what some financial regulators were doing when the country was slipping into a recession. Your tax dollars at work.

CHETRY: Also at half past the hour, half a century of contraception (INAUDIBLE). The birth control turns 50. A look at how it changed the world. Those stories and more at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Pleasantly oblivious.

CHETRY: Right, both of us are apparently. Welcome back to The Most News in the Morning. Time now for your AM House Call, stories about your health. Did you know that your brain is actually still learning and putting things together in your mind while you are asleep?

ROBERTS: Yes. There is some research now that suggests that you do keep learning when you are asleep. According to a new study, your memory could be boosted almost 10 fold when you dream, particularly if you dream about what you were just learning. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who obviously dreamt a lot when he was in medical school, because he is such a brilliant guy, is here to break it all down for us this morning. How you doing?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I always fell asleep while I was trying to study. That's what happens. And I love doing sleep segments with morning anchors because I thought I didn't get enough sleep until I met you two and I know it's tough.

ROBERTS: It's a common conversation among all of us who work the dark 30 shift.

GUPTA: I know and if sleep is good for memory, then dreaming is better. That's really what the emphasis of this study was. They did all kinds of various studies, putting people through various tests, letting them nap for a certain amount of time afterwards, letting them sleep, withholding sleep from others, trying to figure out how exactly do we learn and how much do we learn while we are asleep? It's fascinating stuff. The best way to do this, we created this little animation for you to look at.

If you are looking at this, there's two areas of the brain that really become very important at all times. What happens is that front part there, in light purple, the frontal lobe area and the back part there, the dark purple, is the hippocampus. While we sleep and more importantly, while we dream, the navigation if you will between these two areas becomes quite easy and the front part is sort of analyzing problems, working through things and the hippocampus in the back there is allowing us to store the solutions for those problems, remember things that maybe we haven't remembered before and synthesizing it all together.

That's basically how we learn and then how we remember what we learned. When we are awake, we do the same thing. The difference is, it requires much more focus to actually connect those two things together while we sleep and more importantly, while we dream, it comes much more naturally.

So, exactly as you said, John, I think if you have some sort of problem, sort of, you have been mulling it over, sleeping on it a little bit, even a nap, can really help.

ROBERTS: There is something to be said for, let me sleep on it and I'll get back to it in the morning.

CHETRY: There is so much stimuli when you are awake, it doesn't allow that to happen as easily as when you are asleep. So why the importance of dreaming? This has to do with what stage of sleep you are in, right?

GUPTA: That's right. So I am really truly fascinated by this. I have been fascinated by how we sleep and why we sleep I think since I was a medical student. We go through stages of sleep. Most people know that and there are really five different stages of sleep. REM Sleep, rapid eye movement sleep is when we dream.

If you actually are witnessing this, you will see someone's eyes darting back and forth. That's when you are dreaming. It is during that stage of sleep which often isn't even that long, that you are really connecting the frontal part of your brain there to that hypacampus, that memory storage area, better than any other time. Again it happens to some degree while you sleep.

Sleep is good overall for laying down memories, sort of remembering things, experiences that you've had throughout a day or even trying to make sense of things that didn't make sense throughout the day. But it is that dreaming part that really connects those things in a way that you didn't know. Also by the way, when you are in REM sleep, you are often in a state of sleep paralysis as well.

Let's say you are having a very vivid dream, for example, Kiran, and you are dreaming this. It is a good thing that your body is paralyzed, otherwise you might start acting it out as well, sort of a protective mechanism.

CHETRY: I told you before I dream very vividly, and I remember it. Sometimes I do get premonitions. Anyway, I know. I am working on all that.

GUPTA: That's another section, premonitions.

CHETRY: Some people say I don't dream but you can dream and just not remember you dream as well.

GUPTA: Most sleep researchers will tell you that everyone dreams, even people who say look, I never dream. It is exactly as you said, they simply don't remember it. About every 90 minutes or so you cycle through these stages of sleep. So you've only slept an hour and a half, you make it through one stage or five stages but only one time, three hours and so on. That's why some people may feel wide awake all of a sudden at three hours and say, gosh, I have only slept three hours. You have just completed another cycle of sleep.

ROBERTS: What does that dream mean when you are naked on the sidewalk.

GUPTA: It means you have no insecurities, John, whatsoever. We already knew that though.

ROBERTS: Thanks Doc. Good to see you, Sanjay Gupta this morning. We are back on the top stories right back on the break.

CHETRY: It means you don't want people to laugh at you.

ROBERTS: I think it's insecurity.

CHETRY: A little bit. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)