Return to Transcripts main page
Locking Horns Over Oil Leak; 'Chalk Talk'; Turning Print Into Profit
Aired May 17, 2010 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD LUI, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks a lot, Brooke.
Here's what we've got this hour "On the Rundown" for you.
Some progress. It's the word we have been waiting to hear for nearly a month now, ever since that oil rig started spewing crude in the Gulf of Mexico. And we're finally hearing that word. But the real danger is starting to show its face.
Plus, it's the land that stood still. A sliver that separates communism from capitalism, America's foe from friend. We'll show you life in the DMZ.
Also for you, GM cries victory and reports its first quarterly profit in three years. Does this signal a culture shift in Detroit or just a flash in the pan?
I'll give you a personal take as a car fan in my "XYZ."
OK, first off for you, in the battle against the massive Gulf oil leak, finally some limited success. We're talking about BP and what they are mentioning as of late with them siphoning more than one-fifth of the oil that's been gushing into the Gulf. As you can see in this animation that we're about to show you, BP inserting a mile-long tube into one of the ruptured pipes yesterday.
Now, the company says that the pipe is now falling about 42,000 gallons of crude a day into a tanker ship. BP is taking it slowly thought to ensure the pipe does not get clogged by ice-like particles. This is animation. As you see, it's installed by those ROVs, those rovers, that then push in that insertion tube by about five feet and then pumps it a mile to the surface.
However, a new threat just discovered. Giant plumes of oil, including one 10 miles long, three miles wide, and 300 feet thick in some spots, those plumes could damage coral banks, the areas shaded in dark blue that you can see behind me on this map.
Now, they stretch from Texas all the way to Florida. These plumes are also depleting the oxygen dissolved in the Gulf below the sea surface. If the oxygen falls too low, it could kill off much of the sea life that exists near those plumes. BP saying the main focus right now is stopping the oil leak, not the plumes of oil, however.
OK. Here's the take of Democratic Congressman Edward Markey, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. He says, "BP is burying its head in the sand on these underwater threats. These huge plumes of oil are like hidden mushroom clouds that indicate a larger spill than originally thought and portend more dangerous, long-term fallout for the Gulf of Mexico's wildlife and economy."
All right. Well, the Gulf oil leak could trigger more fireworks on Capitol Hill this hour, as well. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and BP America chairman Lamar McKay will appear before a Senate committee in less than about 30 minutes. Of course, we're going to be watching that.
You can expect both to be grilled, however, over what lawmakers are calling a catastrophe. We'll keep an eye on that for you.
Meanwhile, Paul Montagna joins us on the phone. He's a marine biologist at Texas A&M University.
Paul, the first question we have since we're just getting this information today is about these oil plumes that exist underneath the surface.
What is your take on those?
PROF. PAUL MONTAGNA, MARINE BIOLOGIST, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY: Well, I think that's a huge new threat. Everyone is concerned about that. You know, this whole area underneath this oil spill, the very valuable hard rock and bank habitat which has corals and crab, shrimps, lots of sea life on it, now that we now know that the water (sic) is not just on surface, but also in the water column, this certainly adds to the threats.
LUI: And this oil that's now in the water column, was this formerly on the surface? Because as some might know, as this crude makes it to the surface, about 10 or 15 percent of that lighter crude evaporates, then leaving the gooky stuff, that goo behind, and then it may sink. Is that what we're seeing here?
MONTAGNA: Well, it's probably more than that. Yes, you're right, what happens with the tar on the surface is eventually, it picks up sand and mud and particles in it. It will start to sink as it gets heavier.
But what's really happening, probably, is a result of, basically, it being so deep. You know, we -- what some scientists think now is that that oil is coming up, and it's hitting the water at such high pressure, because of the water depth and it's so cold down there.
LUI: Paul, let's talk about that. It is so deep. We're talking about a mile deep, over 2,000 PSI, pounds per square inch, of pressure there.
If those plumes are relevant enough to deal with, how might BP and the government deal with that?
MONTAGNA: Well, I don't know how they're going to deal with it. You know, it's a huge area, and as you said, it's -- I think most people don't realize how alien an environment the deep sea is.
Imagine having a mile -- the weight of a mile's worth of water on your chest. Imagine being in the refrigerator, where it's dark and cold all of the time. That's the environment we're talking about.
And it's just -- and it's vast. As you said earlier, this is covering many -- hundreds of miles. And who knows how much further it's going to go?
LUI: Yes, millions of gallons of crude, as we've been talking about here.
Paul Montagna, thank you so much, Texas A&M University, there in Corpus Christi. We appreciate your perspective on what's happening today, of course, the development, the discovery of perhaps plumes that exist underneath the sea surface, as well as the insertion tube. Perhaps that is a solution that will help mitigate further leakage there in the Gulf.
CNN founder Ted Turner isn't shy speaking about on just about everything. But we haven't heard him talking about the Gulf oil disaster until now. Noted for championing alternative energy, Turner sat down with our Poppy Harlow, and she joins us from New York.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Richard.
And, you know, it's interesting. Of course, we thank Ted Turner for starting CNN. He's the founder of this company. But he has recently turned into a very, very avid environmentalist, so much so that he is actually working to build the biggest solar field in the country right now. He's very against coal and oil, and he talked to us candidly in a sit-down interview in Washington about what this Gulf oil spill that is ongoing, what that does to the clean energy debate and what he thinks is behind it all.
Take a listen. You might be surprised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Talking about the ongoing oil spill, spilling thousands and thousands of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico right now -- it could be millions -- how does that make this debate even more immediate? I mean, you look -- they cannot plug the hole. It's been over 20 days. We're trying to send, you know, people to Mars, and we can't plug the hole.
TED TURNER, CNN FOUNDER: Sad. It's sad.
You know, I'm not a real religious person, but I'm somewhat religious. And I'm just wondering if God is telling us he doesn't want us to drill off shore, because it sure is setting back offshore drilling.
And right before that, we had that coal mine disaster in West Virginia where we lost 29 miners. And last week -- or two days ago, the Chinese lost 29 miners, too, in another mine disaster over in China. It seems like there is one over there every week.
And maybe, you know, the lord is tired of having the mountains of West Virginia, the tops knocked off of them so they can get more coal. I think maybe we ought to just leave the coal in the ground and go with solar and wind power and geothermal, where it's applicable.
HARRIS: So, possibly God's work in a way.
TURNER: Well, it could be. He's sending us a message.
HARLOW: Talk to us about -- I mean, you support nuclear energy.
TURNER: I like wind and solar better, but I'm -- I'd rather -- I'd sure rather see a nuclear plant than I would a coal-burning plant.
TURNER: Because it's cleaner.
HARLOW: It is cleaner.
TURNER: Even with coal, you know you're going to get killed. And with nuclear, you have a chance of getting killed. But at least you have a chance of not getting killed, either.
HARLOW: Most people don't say it that way. That's an interesting way to say it.
TURNER: Well, that's the way I say it.
HARLOW: That's the way you say it. Give me nuclear over coal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: And what's also interesting is he talked a lot, Richard, about the fact that he does not think that the U.S. right now has any energy policy whatsoever outside of coal and oil, yet we're the biggest polluters, the biggest users of energy. He said that's why we have to lead on this, but he also noted energy reform is the most complex issue he thinks this government is dealing with. But pretty candid answers on the oil spill and, obviously, what has happened in the aftermath.
A lot more from Ted Turner. You can see it on CNN Money -- Richard.
LUI: We could not expect anything else from him. He's always been a straight talker.
HARLOW: Yes, always candid.
LUI: Poppy Harlow, thank you so much. HARLOW: You got it.
LUI: How do you fix a failing school? One Rhode Island district tried to do it by cleaning house, firing its faculty in its entirety. But now the teachers are coming back. What it will mean for their struggling students, coming up in "Chalk Talk."
LUI: All right. Now it's time for "Chalk Talk," a new segment where we take a look at the state of education all across the country.
We want to explore how we can shape better, smarter students who go on to become better, smarter citizens. And today, a reprieve in Rhode Island for you.
It looks like about 90 faculty and staff members at a failing high school can be rehired now, four months after every single one of them was pink-slipped effective at the end of the school year. Now, the union and the school board are slated to vote on a deal this afternoon on the heels of reaching a tentative agreement. Originally, the school superintendent said she wanted to fix Central Falls High School by cleaning house, a drastic move that earned praise from the White house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, but doesn't show any sign of improvement, then there's got to be a sense of accountability. And that's what happened in Rhode Island. When a school board wasn't able to deliver change by other means, they voted to lay off the faculty and the staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: Here is a look at how dismal the situation has become in Central Falls. The high school has about 800 students and a 48 percent graduation rate. Half the students are failing every subject.
That's what's frightening here. And "The Providence Journal" says there have been five principals there in the last seven years. So, tough on consistency.
But after months with a mediator in this, the two sides seem to have hammered out a fix. The teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, ,and other staffers who were supposed to lose their jobs will be able to return without reapplying, but they will have to have an interview with this new principal. More than 700 people had already applied for the positions, by the way, and the agreement calls for longer school days, more after-school tutoring, a new teacher evaluation system, and better professional development.
All right. Newspapers are a dying breed, some say, but one man took his passion for print and turned it into a profit. He's "Building Up America." We'll show you how. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LUI: All right. Well, worried about your 401(k), as well as the markets, because obviously those two are intertwined right now. We see that the market is now down less than a percent. It was about 1.2 percent down earlier. We're now looking at negative 90 and change at the moment.
We're watching this because there are some concerns about Europe's debt situation. Greece obviously involved in that. And the $1 trillion bailout plan for the EU, and whether that will help, and what that may mean for this economic recovery that's happening in the United States, we'll be looking at that. Of course, the euro, too, which hit a four-year low today.
So, very important to watch the market today. We'll give the implications throughout the day here on CNN.
He's a news hound whose paper went belly-up, but we wouldn't give in. Our Tom Foreman caught up with him in New Mexico, and found out how he is reviving a newspaper and "Building up America."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Richard, you could hardly pick a tougher business these days than newspapers, but if you think that means it's an impossible business, come down here to Route 66 and you might think again.
FOREMAN (voice-over): A bit more than a year ago, M.E. Sprengelmeyer had every reason to give up on the economy, the West, and especially newspapers.
M.E. SPRENGELMEYER, "GUADALUPE COUNTY COMMUNICATOR": We just walked around the whole day with tears in our eyes.
FOREMAN: After 10 years of reporting for Denver's "Rocky Mountain News," he and his colleagues were shocked to find it shutting down.
SPRENGELMEYER: That was a special place, and it was a damn good newspaper.
FOREMAN: But rather than retreat, he charged straight down to his home state of New Mexico, an unusual choice, perhaps, as a place to rebuild a career. The economy here has been struggling with steep job losses in mining, manufacturing, construction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's dead. Nothing really going on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say it is very hard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could find one, but it's going to be tough.
FOREMAN: But in the little town of Santa Rosa, Sprengelmeyer found a newspaper for sale. And with every last dollar he had, he bought it.
(on camera): Was this a wise decision?
SPRENGELMEYER: It was the best thing I ever did. Best thing I ever did.
FOREMAN (voice-over): He says that because no matter what he is covering each day, he and his small staff are making a go of it. While other papers are dramatically cutting their costs, Sprengelmeyer increased his staff payroll by 40 percent, adding more pages, more photos, more stories.
He killed the paper's Web site, arguing that it hurts street sales. And through all of that he rebuilt the paper's relationship with its readers.
SPRENGELMEYER: The community hangs on every story. The community hangs on every cartoon.
FOREMAN: So now when he lampoons a local tourist attraction, a famous diving hole, even business folks who rely on it for a living seem to enjoy the joke.
SPRENGELMEYER: You like the cartoon?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like it. I'm going to keep one of these.
FOREMAN: It's tough work. One night a week, he drives 100 miles each way to pick up his papers from a printer. And many more nights, he and his staff work far into the darkness, all to keep expenses down and quality up.
SPRENGELMEYER: Those things the readers don't notice, but what they sure as heck notice is that a lot of these big city newspapers are getting thinner and thinner and thinner.
FOREMAN: While his paper is getting thicker and the result: subscriptions, street sales and advertising are all up, up, up.
SPRENGELMEYER: This is the big lesson that you can apply to any paper in the country. It's working here because I am spending more, not less.
FOREMAN: And because while other papers are folding all over, here everyone knows every morning, M.E. Sprengelmeyer and his team will be back on the beat.
FOREMAN: For this fellow, is really is just about core values, sticking with your main business, working hard, investing in it, and having faith that times can get better -- Richard.
LUI: All right. Thanks a lot.
Tom Foreman there with that report for us. The waters of the north Atlantic, they are rising. In fact, they hit an all-time high. In today's "Off the Radar" segment, Chad Myers will tell you if this is a sign of a stronger-than-normal hurricane season.
We'll take a look at that for you.
LUI: All right. Now, this is live radar. Let's go "Off the Radar" right now.
What have you got for us today?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, this was just kind of out the past couple weeks, although we have known that this was happening.
LUI: What does it show?
MYERS: Now, you're going to have to follow me here. I'm going to draw on it here.
This is the coast of Africa right here. OK? Here is Florida, and then the Gulf Coast. So, here's where our oil spill is right there.
What we have been seeing out in the Atlantic Ocean, this is two degrees Celsius above where it should be. That's 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
MYERS: This entire area here, which is the birthplace of hurricanes, that is warmer than normal. The last time that happened, we were talking about 2005 and Hurricane Katrina, and all those other hurricanes --
LUI: That was a record season.
Now, just because you have a cow doesn't mean you can make soup. You can make beef broth, but it might not taste very good.
MYERS: Just because we have warm water doesn't mean we're going to have a hurricane season. You have to have the winds aloft right, you have to have the shear right, you have to have a lot of other things here. But we have a cow.
LUI: We have a cow, at least for now.
MYERS: We have a potential for beef soup here. We just have to make sure that --
LUI: So we hope the beef soup doesn't happen.
LUI: These gray areas are the land masses you're showing us, right?
MYERS: Richard, so many other things could happen. Ash from the volcano could come down and interrupt this. Dust from Africa could come off and interrupt this. So many other things could happen. But there's a lot of potential here.
LUI: The point you're making here, Chad, is 2 degrees Celsius, you've got to keep an eye on that. It sounds like a little, but it could be significant.
MYERS: The weather out here -- the water out there is 78 and 80 degrees.
LUI: Yes. In terms of the difference is what you're saying.
MYERS: And that's awesome. That's awesome swimming. It should be 74, 76, but it's 78 and 80 in the two reporting stations we have there, so that's above normal.
LUI: OK. When do you start worrying then? Because you're watching this right now, the hurricane season starts June 1st. Are you worried?
MYERS: No, not worried.
LUI: OK. Good. OK.
MYERS: Not worried yet. There are a lot of things that have to happen yet. But a hurricane season -- somebody gets hit every year. All right?
LUI: Soup. Look out for the soup is what you're saying.
Chad Myers "Off the Radar."
Thank you so much.
MYERS: Sorry to use that analogy.
LUI: No, that works really well.
You know, it's not quite war, but it's not quite peace either. We'll go "Globe Trekking" to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, the DMZ. Some call it the scariest place on Earth.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LUI: All right. We're going "Globe Trekking" now here on the screen. Here is United States, we'll take you over to the Korean peninsula where we have the DMZ, the Korean Demilitarized Zone. And this is very compact with a lot of important countries to the United States, South Korea and North Korea, it's the buffer area that marks the border between the two countries. And even though a truce was declared in this area in 1953, the two Koreas are still technically at war and U.S. troops are still on duty there, as well.
CNN's Eunice Yoon went for a personal look.
EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're on Freedom Highway driving towards the Demilitarized Zone. It splits the north from South Korea, and it's been described once by former President Bill Clinton as the scariest place on earth.
(voice-over): After the Korean War, a line was drawn at the 38th Parallel, two-and-a-half miles wide, cutting 155 miles across.
(on camera): The DMZ was set up as part of a truce in 1953 after the Korean War. It was supposed to be temporary, but no peace treaty was ever finalized. So here we are today, and it's as if time stood still.
(voice-over): The Berlin Wall, the Soviet Union are gone. But here, the Cold War lives, the two Koreas technically still at war.
(on camera): This is the joint security area in the truce village of Panmunjom. This is a very highly controlled part of the DMZ, and only certain soldiers and military officers are allowed here.
(voice-over): Soldiers like Corporal Corey Strickland. At nearby Camp Bonifas, Strickland trains in the early hours, part of a unique battalion of American soldiers. They're handpicked for their physical fitness and stable minds.
CPL. COREY STRICKLAND, U.S. ARMY, JOIN SECURITY AREA BATTALION: Not too many people hear about the Korean War, but it really happened and there's actually things we actually have to do in order to maintain the peace. It's not an easy thing.
YOON: These 50 soldiers serve one year living on the front line.
(on camera): So what's it like sleeping right next to north Korea?
STRICKLAND: You get used to it after a while.
YOON: Were you ever nervous?
STRICKLAND: When I first got to Korea, yes. You know, coming up, driving up the Highway 77, and seeing all those antitank walls and all the fences with guard posts, you're like, oh, what am I getting myself into here. YOON (voice-over): Day-to-day duties are unpredictable.
UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: Room clear! Civilian! Room clear!
YOON: The U.S. soldiers practice combat skills on their own, and with South Korean troops who outnumber them here 9 to 1.
STRICKLAND: We are currently inside the Demilitarized Zone at this time.
YOON: The U.S. infantry men provide security for visiting VIPs or on this day, veterans here to commemorate the 60s anniversary of the war.
STRICKLAND: These rice fields you see to your left and right, these are farmed by villagers of the Taesung-dong or Freedom Village.
YOON: Apparently, soldiers aren't the only ones living on the frontline.
(on camera): Taesung is one of two villages set up in the DMZ after the Korean War. The other, Kijong, is on the North Korean side. The people over here, though, think that Kijong has been completely abandoned.
(voice-over): Taesung's mayor tells us about 200 people, farmers and their families, call the DMZ home.
(on camera): We're heading out to the fields with farmer Kim. Like so many other farmers, he tends to his fields every single day, but unlike other farmers in Korea, he has a military escort.
(voice-over): Kim doesn't feel uneasy here, even when North Korean soldiers would try to tempt him to the other side. "During the '60s and '70s, they would tell us they had meat soup and rice," Kim says. "That doesn't happen so much now."
(on camera): Mr. Kim's family has been living at the DMZ from even before it ever was the DMZ. The Korean War divided the peninsula right across the land that his family has called home for 13 generations. This is where his ancestors are buried.
(voice-over): The men are encouraged to marry women from outside the DMZ to bring in new blood. Bang Yeun Shim moved here from Seoul, but finds the restrictions and curfew oppressive.
(on camera): If you want to order takeout, what do you have to do?
(voice-over): "You can get two boxes of pizzas delivered to the main bridge," she says, "but no one would even consider a smaller order."
There are so few residents, the village almost closed the local elementary school until a new program featuring native English speakers, American soldiers, helped revive attendance. (on camera): What are you learning from these U.S. soldiers?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Play hard.
YOON: Play hard.
YOON (voice-over): Despite the inconveniences, Kim says he will never leave and hopes his own son will continue to make this place his home.
Back on the bus, Strickland reminds us of the dangers, saying do not --
STRICKLAND: Communicate with the North Koreans in any way, verbally or nonverbally, OK?
YOON: Before we can look around --
UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: Hold on, another North Korean tour went in.
YOON (on camera): What's so surreal about this place is that it's become a tourist attraction for both sides. We were just with a tour of U.S. war veterans, and over here, the North Koreans are holding their own tour.
This is the only place where you're going to see South and North Korean soldiers staring each other down. The South Korean soldiers are chosen for their stature, so they look more intimidating. They are also highly trained in martial arts, hence the Taekwondo stance.
(voice-over): Once the North Korean groups leaves, South Korean soldiers lock the door to North Korea. One braces the other, so neither can be pulled through.
This is one of the conference rooms where the United Nations command led by the Americans would meet with the North Koreans, and they would discuss all matters regarding the border and armistice. These mikes record everything in the room and they also happen to be right on demarcation line. So if I cross over here, I'm in North Korea.
There are reminders of the hostilities. This is the Bridge of No Return. Over there is a North Korean side of the demarcation line. And the prisoners of war after the Korean War were brought here and told to choose a side. Once you cross this bridge, you could never go back.
U.S. Navy veteran William McMillen transported POWs. It's his first time back.
(on camera): How are you feeling?
WILLIAM MCMILLEN, KOREAN WAR VETERAN: Emotional.
YOON: Why? What makes you emotional? MCMILLEN: Oh, I don't know. Just -- I lost a couple buddies over here. But it's good to be back.
YOON (voice-over): the agreement established during McMillen's time is the same one governing Strickland today.
(on camera): A lot of people when they think of war, they think of Afghanistan or Iraq. They don't think about this other almost like a time-capsule war that's happening here.
STRICKLAND: Right. We're just out here doing our job.
What makes me appreciate what we've got in the States, definitely. And I'm sure the older generation of the South Koreans, they actually appreciate everything.
YOON (voice-over): So do some of us in the younger generation.
(on camera): Normally, I wouldn't be getting so emotional about a story, but you know, I'm Korean-American, too, and part of my family came from North Korea during the Korean War.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What have you experienced the last few days around the DMZ? What do you hope for?
YOON: As a reporter, you're not supposed to get attached to stories and you're not supposed to get emotional. But -- but I mean, even though it sounds sometimes impossible that reunification or whatever happened, I think it would be great. You know, it would be really nice to see the two Koreas cooperate and get together and for there to be peace on the Korean peninsula, finally, maybe in my lifetime.
(voice-over): Eunice Yoon, CNN, at the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
LUI: Very personal story there from Eunice Yoon there in the DMZ.
We move forward. She's the little girl that could, a 16-year-old sails around the world, alone! We call that "Mission Impossible."
LUI: Some "Gilligan's Island" bringing you back a couple years.
You know, most parents of 16 year olds worry about their children driving to school every day. Well, on today's "Mission Possible" one girl's parents worried about her sailing around the world by herself, certainly more than a three-hour tour here.
Meet Jessica Watson. This weekend she returning from a seven- month trip that Ted Turner would be proud of. During the course of her journey, she battled 40-foot waves and six knockdowns, including one that tipped her yacht over to the point where her mast hit the water. She, along with her 34-foot Pink Lady, ended the solo trip with tens of thousands of cheering fans welcoming her home in Australia's Sydney Harbor. What a beautiful sight that is. Many people now calling her a hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA WATSON, SAILOR: I don't consider myself a hero. I'm an ordinary girl who believed in her dream. You don't have to be someone special or anything special to achieve something amazing. You've just got to have a dream, believe in it, and work hard.
As a little girl, people don't -- expectations, they don't think you're capable of these things. They don't realize what young people -- what 16-year-olds and what girls are capable of. And it is amazing that when you take away those expectations what you can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: She did it. And, of course, the trip was not without some controversy. Some sailing websites reported last week that Watson's route was not long enough, but many of the people who turned out for her arrival Saturday did not really care about that.
Checking our top stories for you.
The latest attempt to reduce the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico appears to be a modest success. BP saying the siphoning system it installed yesterday is diverting more than a thousand barrels of gallons of oil into a tanker on the surface every hour. Now that's only about a fifth of the oil that's leaking, but BP hopes to step up the pace, and it is some progress.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, says some sex offenders can be held behind bars indefinitely. The Court today ruled that sex offenders can be confined even after their sentences end if officials think they are still dangerous. Now, the only dissenters were Justice Clarence Thomas who wrote that the government had overstepped its bounds, he was backed by Justice Antonin Scalia.
And European currency hit a four-year low today, we've been watching that for you. The price of the euro dipping below $1.23 amid continued concerns about Europe's debt crisis and whether the steps being taken are enough. Concern about the euro causing U.S. stocks as well to slump. We have been watching that, but there is an upside, a slim upside. Travel experts say there are big bargains for those folks in the United States planning to go on those European vacations this summer.
The Rolling Stones, they're still going strong. We all love them. After all these years, they're still able to do it. And our own Larry King sat down with Mick Jagger himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARRY KING, HOST: How do you account for the long longevity of The Stones as a success?
MICK JAGGER, THE ROLLING STONES: Well, I think The Stones are very lucky. You always need a lot of luck. And I think they're -- they were in the right place the right time. And we, you know, quite -- when we work, we work very hard. So I think -- so you need all those things. It's no good just being at home working. But you have got to be hard-working, on your game, and be lucky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: Well, humble as he is, they've been successful for decades, as you know. That's just a sample of everything Larry and rock icon talked about. Mick Jagger on "LARRY KING LIVE," tomorrow night 9:00 Eastern. Don't miss that.
The primaries used to be virtual nonevents in U.S. politics, but just wait until tomorrow. Josh Levs joins me with races that could set the tone for November. Of course, we're going to watch that. It could change the course of the next two years. He'll be playing the role of Ed Henry.
LUI: OK. You know -- I'm not Ali Velshi, and Josh Levs is not Ed Henry. But nevertheless, we're still going to have "The Ed Henry Segment," and today we're looking into the future to tomorrow and what it might tell us about November.
Hello, Ed Henry, sort of.
JOSH LEVS, CNN ANCHOR: I didn't know I had any first, left -- I've never played Ed before. Hey, Ed. Somewhere is laughing so hard right now.
Big races tomorrow, and they really could tell us a lot about what we're heading toward in November and what the picture really is in America, in terms of the power of the Tea Party, the power of incumbency right now. Let's take a look.
There's three major ones everyone's focusing on for tomorrow. You've got Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky; there's also one in Oregon I'm going to talk to you about it, because it's significant as well.
Let's start off here in Pennsylvania. And what you have here, you've been hearing about this Senator Arlen Specter -- who we know left the party last year, left the Republican Party, and ultimately avoided a battle inside, basically, the Republican Party -- is now facing Representative Joe Sestak, he's a retired member of the Navy, an admiral. And what you are seeing here is a battle over incumbency, right? We keep hearing about this anti-incumbent wave all over the country. You have this major incumbent who has been in position for a long, long time. First there was someone who was trying to take that seat away from him -- LUI: And they're neck and neck.
LEVS: Absolutely. It's really close in all the polls and whoever wins has a really tough race in November. So it's not even like winning this race is in anyway clinching it for him.
Let's take a look at the next one here. In a way, you have a similar idea here. Senator Blanche Lincoln who is also trying to hold on to her seat, she's the incumbent, as well, up against bill halter, no one knows which way this is going. A lot of people looking at this race to say, OK, is it true that a lot of people are ready to get rid of incumbents?
Let's jump over inside the GOP, the Kentucky Republican Primary. What you have here is Rand Paul against the secretary of state, Trey Grayson. A lot of people familiar with the last name of Rand Paul, because of his father, Ron Paul, he's also a doctor. Something very interesting in this race. He has the backing of the Tea Party Movement. And so far, we really haven't found out how the Tea Party power will play in elections, if it will really play out or not.
LUI: Some of the polls are definitely leaning towards Rand Paul.
LEVS: They are. Polls that are showing him up again it's hard to tell, and this could go either way, but a lot of people are thinking, OK, if he gets this, this could be a sign of Tea Party power playing out the at polls and how that plays out, a big deal.
Now, this is a less surprising race, most likely. There is a clear leader in this race, this is out in Oregon, a democratic primary, Senator Ron Widen over Lauren Hooker, and he does seem to be leading in the race, which is a why a lot people feel there is less expense. But you know how this works, until the votes are actually in, you can't be sure. So maybe this will be an incumbent that holds on to the seat.
LUI: A lot of folks looking at the reasons that affect the midterm elections happening in November. How can folks follow this? It's happening tomorrow.
LEVS: This is cool. We have the system set up for you at CNN.com. This is a time line at CNN.com/politics. It takes you through all of the major races between tomorrow and the end of the year. And every state all over the entire country, when your area comes up.
Also, take a look at this. This an interactive map, you click on any state wherever you are. It tells you what's going on. The information pops up over here, when your primary.
And just to end, because he couldn't be here -- let's everyone have rose petals, I'm sorry for my poor invitation. Ed, we love, we adore you. I hope I did you OK today.
LUI: Josh Levs did absolutely fantastic for "The Ed Henry Segment." LEVS: The three of us.
LUI: All right. All stand in a row and make this as corny as possible. Thank you so much, Josh for Ed Henry in "The Ed Henry Segment."
You know, we love a good picture, but never lose side of the word. Straight ahead, the word of day in "Wordplay" for you.
LUI: OK. You know, what we're talking about now is Wordplay. It is Wordplay time. Every day, we take a word or phrase from a big story and show you why it's in the news.
Case in point today, "plume." It's an ordinary, completely innocent word. You've said it before, you've heard it before. But it's now being associated with some really dirty business. The dictionary says it's something resembling a feather. Alas, that describes the billowing clouds of ash pouring out of that unpronounceable volcano in Iceland with so many letters in it.
Ironically, this plume is very bad news for air travel, as you're no doubt aware our have been affected personally. But plumes may be worse news for anything that lives in the northern depths of the northern Gulf of Mexico as we've been reporting. There, oil plumes, mixtures of oil and chemical dispersants, perhaps, are flowing and growing out of that ruptured BP pipeline. And as scary as that slick might be, scientists fear the oil we do not see is depleting under sea oxygen levels, damaging coral banks, causing long-term devastation to the ecosystems there. One such plume is thought to be as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide, and as much as 300 feet thick. Not really feather-like at all. That's our Wordplay.
OK. I'm taking over Ali's "X-Y-Z" today. The U.S. Auto industry showing some definite signs of life. I'll tell you why that could mean a smoother road for all of us.
Richard's "X-Y-Z" is straight ahead.
LUI: OK. Now for "The X-Y-Z of It."
As I sit in for Ali today, I've been running through ideas for the perfect "X-Y-Z" for this Monday. And it came down to conversations I had had yesterday with several representatives from the auto industry. I must put this out front. I am a car fanatic, I love cars, working on them, driving them, any type, year, it doesn't matter. But even if you're not a car person, you should be heartened by the latest news.
GM is reporting its first quarterly property in three years. Good news for its employees, its board and certainly its investors -- that's you and me. As I'm sure you remember, our government used our tax dollars to buy billions of dollars of shares. We own over half of General Motors.
But is this too little, too late? Look back to the '80s when the big three were thrown on their haunches from manufacturers when Japan dominated. Why didn't Detroit change then? Granted, nowadays, Ford is making money, Chrysler posted a property, too. But is this a long- lasting trend we're seeing today, or a temporary boost brought on by our help? One thing is for sure, the mood in Detroit is better, folks are wiping their foreheads, amazed they've made it through 2009.
Now, a trade event I spoke at last year was not sold out, this year it was sold out, filled with just as much confidence as cars. New models was the talk, with the focus on better gas mileage. Also, there's plenty of talk of bringing lessons learned from Europe and Asia to the United States now. Detroit sounds more collaborative, ready to learn and execute a far cry from the perceived stubbornness of the '80s.
As for me, I can still remember the used 1985 Corvette I drove as a teenager. It's not going anywhere now, GM's profits tell me that much. As for next quarter and beyond, we'll be watching you, Detroit, because it's more than cars at stake, a lot more.
That's my "X-Y-Z." Now here's "Rick's List."