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Sludge Reaches Florida Beaches: Cap Collects More Oil from Leaking Well; Protecting the Panhandle; Americans Plan to Train for Jihad; Helen Thomas Under Fire; Airlines Make a Profit; Arizona's Latino Divided; Oil Spill Threatens Fishing Industry

Aired June 7, 2010 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. It's June the 7th. I'm John Roberts.

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

Florida beaches now starting to show the damage from the oil spill disaster. The state unraveling 250,000 feet of boom to try to stop the oil now threatening some of the most treasured beaches in the country.

ROBERTS: BP says the cap that it placed over the leaking well trapped about 141,000 gallons of oil on Saturday and that compared to about 250,000 gallons on Friday. But by government estimates, that is only about half of the amount that's still leaking into the ocean. And the man in charge of the federal response says this may not be over for months to come.

CHETRY: And two Americans now facing terrorism charges arrested as they tried to leave the country this weekend. Authorities say the two planned to join up with America's enemies and wage jihad against the U.S. We have details about this alleged plot in a live report from Washington.

And the amFIX blog is up and running this morning. You can join the live conversation by heading to

ROBERTS: But first, a disaster spreading both ways this morning. There's a live look for you here this morning. A mile underwater right now, oil as you can see still erupting from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. BP claims that it's only about half as bad as it was on Friday, but no one knows for sure whether that's just the company line.

CHETRY: It's also been now 49 days since the Deepwater Horizon exploded. Florida panhandle beaches are starting to see the first signs of the oil slick. And all the way across the gulf in Texas, oiled, dead birds are now reportedly being sighted.

ROBERTS: Still, BP bragged about efforts to stop this leaking, clean the spill over the weekend saying that the cap and the broken well is now sucking up about 440,000 gallons of oil every day. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says despite the progress the effort to stop the leak is not going to end soon and could continue into the fall.


ADM. THAD ALLEN, NATIONAL INCIDENT COMMANDER: We're making the right progress. I don't think anybody should be pleased as long as there's oil in the water. What they've been able to do is put a containment cap over the leak site, start to bring oil to the surface and produce it and slowly start turning off those vents that are venting the oil. So I would say progress has been made but nobody should be pleased until the relief well is done.


ROBERTS: Our Jim Acosta is live for us along the panhandle in Destin, Florida this morning. And, Jim, you heard what the admiral said, nobody should expect real progress until that kill well is finally dug and that won't be until August.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that's not going to stop the oil from washing ashore here yet, John. It's on its way. And you know, the travel experts say these are some of the best beaches in the world and here's why. This pristine white sand, I mean, you can pick it up and it looks like powdered sugar. Right now, there are no tar balls reported here in Destin where we're standing now. But officials here in Florida fear that's just a matter of time.



ACOSTA (voice-over): On the intercoastal waterway and on patrol with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the soaring pelicans are a sign the wildlife is still thriving in this state. But for how long?

Looming just off this remote beach on the gulf island's national seashore, brown foam and bands of oil sheen are closing in and dotting the pristine white sand tar balls, lots of them. This blue heron walked right through them.

(on camera): One thing we've noticed on this remote beach outside of Pensacola is that the tar balls here are actually darker in color than the ones found in Alabama. And these tar balls, these globs are scattered all over this beach.

ERIK SCHULZE, TOURIST: It breaks my heart. Sorry. Because it's so beautiful down here. Anyways, and I know it's going to devastate this area for a decade, two decades.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Erik Schulze came to Pensacola to visit friends who are lifelong residents here. They all worry BP will never be able to fully restore this majestic coastline. ALLISON CRAMER, PENSACOLA RESIDENT: BP keeps saying that they're going to, you know, pay every legitimate claim. How do you when you take away all of this and you can't get it back overnight, I mean, it could be years.

ACOSTA (on camera): How do you pay that back?

CRAMER: Yes, how do you put a price tag on that?

ACOSTA (voice-over): By air, right above these beaches and on the ground, state environmental officials are on the lookout for any traces of the spill. This mobile command post in Destin is set up like a mini war room tracking the oil's slow motion assault on a three-county stretch of the panhandle.

(on camera): That's a lot of ground to cover.

GRAY BEVIS, CHIEF INVESTIGATOR, FLA. DIV. OF WILDLIFE: It truly is but we've got a lot of hard charges and people are dedicated to this fight.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But the experts say that fight will be hard to win. There's not enough containment equipment to protect white sand beaches and turquoise waters that are so awe-inspiring, they lure wedding parties to these shores weekend after weekend.

JAMES ESTES, DESTIN RESIDENT: I'll probably cry the moment I see it.

ACOSTA: James Estes has played on Destin's beaches since he was in diapers.

ESTES: It's still beautiful, isn't it?

ACOSTA: The oil moves in, he's considering moving away as in to another state.

ESTES: I've gone places in my life but I always come back here because this is where my heart is. And these white sand beaches raised me.


ACOSTA: Environmental officials in this state are urging folks not to abandon their travel plans to the state. They say that these beaches are still safe. But talk to any local around here, John and Kiran, and they will tell you these beaches are not as crowded as they should be this time of year.

ROBERTS: And certainly not as pretty as they normally are. Jim, thanks so much for that. Coming up at 6:40 this morning, an interview that you don't want to miss. We're going to hear from a bona fide engineering prodigy. Her name is Alia Sabur. She started her doctorate at the age of 14, began reading before she can walk. And she's accomplished everything she said she would quicker than anyone thought. And get this, she says she has a way to fix the oil leak in the gulf. You'll want to hear from her.

CHETRY: Also developing this morning, two men caught just as authorities say they were leaving the U.S. to join an Al Qaeda group. They're due in federal court today. The suspects, 20-year-old Mohamed Hamoud (ph) Alessa and 24-year-old Carlos Eduardo Almonte are both U.S. citizens raised right here in America, and they allegedly plan to go to Somalia and train to fight against the troops. Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is following the story for us. She's live in Washington this morning.

Hey, Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. The two men were arrested Saturday night at New York's JFK airport, just before boarding separate flights to Egypt.


MESERVE (voice-over): Strike-torn Somalia was the intended destination for the two men from New Jersey, according to U.S. officials who claim their mission was to wage violent jihad on behalf of Al Shabaab (ph), an Islamist group affiliated with Al Qaeda. Their hope, officials say, was to kill U.S. troops who might eventually be deployed there.

Mohamed Alessa, 20, of North Bergen and Carlos Almonte, 24, of Elmwood Park (ph) are charged with conspiring to kill maim and kidnap people overseas. But New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is among those expressing concern that they could have eventually reenter the U.S. on their American passports.

RAY KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: And it's not unlike other cases that we've seen recently where individuals who express an interest to do, quote, "jihad," go overseas and then are turned around, come back to attempt acts of violence here in the United States.

MESERVE: Search warrants were executed at the suspect's New Jersey's homes. Alessa's landlord says he was the only child in a religious family.

HEMANT SHAH, ALMONTTE'S LANDLORD: I was surprised that nothing, even just even yesterday when he was leaving I talked to him. And I said hi. I heard that you're going away? He said, yes, I'm going out. And I said for how long? He says probably about six months.

MESERVE: According to court documents in 2006, authorities were tipped off about the men. In 2007, the pair allegedly traveled to Jordan but were rebuffed when they tried to enlist as Mujahideen. Their jihadi aspirations eventually focused on Somalia. In recordings made by an undercover New York police officer, Alessa allegedly discusses shootings and beheadings, saying we'll start doing killing here if I can't do it over there.

The court documents say that the men practiced combat skills with paint ball guns and computer software. But there were no allegations that they bought real guns or posed an imminent threat to the U.S. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Neither of the men are of Somalia origin. A law enforcement official says Alessa's parents are Palestinian and Jordanian. Almonte is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the Dominican Republic. They're scheduled to appear in a Newark courtroom later today and they could face life in prison. Kiran, back to you.

CHETRY: And a name that's come up again, Jeanne, is Anwar al- Awlaki, the American-born cleric who many believe has fled to Yemen. They claim that perhaps they were listening to his sermons and under his sway in some way, at least according to some of the reporting from the FBI. And we've heard his name before as it relates to homegrown terrorism.

MESERVE: That's right. Of course, he was the cleric, American- born now believed to be in Yemen who was in touch with Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter allegedly. And in fact, that was mentioned in the court documents yesterday. Not only Awlaki but Nidal Hasan, allegedly one of these suspects said, you think he did something bad, I'll do something twice as bad as he did. Back to you, Kiran.

CHETRY: Jeanne Meserve for us this morning in Washington, thanks.

ROBERTS: At least seven people are dead after a string of violent tornadoes over the weekend. One of the devastating funnel clouds was caught on camera. It's in Yates City, Illinois. Even with the dark sky and the black clouds, you can see debris flying all over the place. The seven deaths all from one tornado in Ohio. The youngest victim, a 5-year-old child.

That twister ripped across at least two different towns after touching down in the middle of the night. In Michigan, dozens of homes were badly damaged. Debris thrown hundreds of yards on top of cars and anything else in the storm's path. The damage in Michigan, even forcing a nuclear power plant to shut down.

Let's bring in our Reynolds Wolf. He's in the extreme weather center for us this morning. So we had that power plant shutdown and then there was that school. Now, we're supposed to be having a commencement there, I guess, this morning. And there's not much left of the school. Thank goodness it was yesterday and not today.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, absolutely. You know, it has been an insane severe weather season, starting off from the winter storms we had earlier this year to the flooding we've had in places like Nashville. Now, of course, some very active tornado season and we really haven't gotten to the brunt of hurricane season.

Right now, this morning, as people are waking up, and there's a rude awakening in parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, an intense line of thunderstorms bringing not only large hail but 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts. We're talking about tropical storm force winds. And the reason for that is pretty simple. This area of low pressure that is moving right through the center of the U.S., and that combined with daytime heating could give us a little more intense storms developing in parts of central plains and possibly back into portions of the Rockies and into the Midwest.

Now, what is that going to mean to you as a traveler?

Well, obviously, on the roadways and the simple plains, some issues there. But at the airports, you could see even more anywhere from a 30 minute to a one hour delay in places like, well, (INAUDIBLE). New York metros, Philadelphia, Miami, back to Orlando, even in Denver, Seattle and San Francisco, you're going to have a wait. And same story for you in Los Angeles and San Diego, mainly in the west coast due to the low clouds, patchy fog. That's why you're going to have waits up to about an hour. And that is some locations maybe a little more on the optimistic side of things. So be patient as we get started back to a workweek on this Monday. Let's send it back to you.

ROBERTS: It's just after we get through the winter travel woes, now we get the summer travel woes. Reynolds, thanks.

WOLF: Always something.

ROBERTS: All right. See you soon.

CHETRY: Thanks, Reynolds.

Well, still to come on the Most News in the Morning. Under arrest for a murder in Peru. This morning, there's some new information about what could happen to Joran van der Sloot if he's convicted.


CHETRY: Welcome back. Fourteen minutes past the hour right now. Time for a look at the other stories new this morning.

Joran van der Sloot will remain in a Peruvian jail for at least another week. The extension gives police more time to gather evidence after a young woman was found dead in his hotel room last Wednesday. A criminal attorney in Peru tells CNN prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence for van der Sloot if he's convicted.


ROBERTO MIRANDA, CRIMINAL ATTORNEY: According to Peruvian law, a person who has committed that kind of assassination must receive between 15 to 35 years, you know, in the jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there capital punishment in Peru?

MIRANDA: No, there's no capital punishment.


CHETRY: Van der Sloot was previously a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba. He was never charged. The Alabama teen has never been found.

ROBERTS: Another deadly incident in the waters off of Gaza, Israeli Naval Forces firing on armed Palestinian divers, killing four of them in what Israel says was a terror attack. It comes a week after nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed in a commando raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

Israel's U.S. ambassador says they will not accept an international commission to investigate the raid and will conduct their own investigation into it.

CHETRY: Well, this morning there are growing calls for legendary White House reporter Helen Thomas to be fired for her controversial remarks about Israel. Thomas has said that she regrets her comments but there are some who say that's not enough.

Here's what ignited the firestorm.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any comments on Israel? (INAUDIBLE) --

HELEN THOMAS, HEARST NEWSPAPERS COLUMNIST: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Any better comments?


THOMAS: Remember, these people are occupied, and it's their land. It's not German, it's not Poland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So where should they go? What should they do?

THOMAS: They'd go home.


THOMAS: Poland.


THOMAS: Germany.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you say just (ph) go back to Poland and Germany?

THOMAS: And -- and America and everywhere else.



ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And she's crossed all -- all lines, all boundaries and had said something that is just horrific. Could you imagine the uproar there would be if somebody said that all blacks need to leave America and go home to Africa? They would have already lost their jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if we can do that, we certainly will.


CHETRY: Well, Thomas has been dropped by the agency that books her speaking engagements. She has agreed to bow out of delivering a commencement address at a Maryland high school that was set for next weekend.

ROBERTS: Well, coming up next on the Most News in the Morning, airlines and raising fares and tacking on fees just to survive, right? Well, not quite.

Christine Romans, "Minding Your Business", coming up next.

Sixteen minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Nineteen minutes after the hour now, and that means it's time for "Minding Your Business".

This afternoon Apple expected to unveil its new iPhone. Insiders say it's going to have a flatter shell, dual cameras so that you can Skype with somebody by actually looking at the screen at the same time.

CHETRY: Yes. Video conferencing. How cool.

ROBERTS: Yes. Higher resolution display.

The surprise may have already been spoiled, though, because back in April you'll probably remember the website Gizmodo published pictures and details of a device that was left in a California bar that many people thought was the new Apple iPhone G. So --

But, you know --

CHETRY: Hey, they're making improvements.

ROBERTS: -- sometimes the best surprise is no surprise.

CHETRY: That's right. And they're making improvements. So -- I know a lot of people who have 3G that are very eager to see if they can trade it in and get this new one, but they're still on their contract.

ROBERTS: Trade in?

CHETRY: Yes. Trade up. You could trade up.

ROBERTS: Oh, you mean, it was your --

CHETRY: You say here's my 3G --

ROBERTS: -- with your provider. Yes. They may be good.

CHETRY: Come on, AT&T. Let them do it.

Meanwhile, Christine Romans joins us now. She's "Minding Your Business".

You know, we've been talking and talking and talking about all the little nickel and diming that's been going on, and you call it 20 -- the --


CHETRY: Penny and 20-ing with the airlines, but it looks like it paid off.

ROMANS: It looks like the international airlines, airlines as a global group, are going to make money for the first time since 2007.

ROBERTS: Oh, my goodness.

ROMANS: They have been losing money hand over fist for the past few years and it looks like after a $10 billion -- $10 billion loss for global airlines last year, that you could see a profit this year, back in -- back into the black, $2.5 billion. This is according to the International Air Transport Association.

Why? Traffic is up worldwide. Cargo traffic is also up. You have a recovery from that financial crisis, and now you've finally got things back to normal, business travel doing better as well.

But it depends on where you are. They're looking for a $1.9 billion profit in the U.S., so that means U.S. carriers doing a little bit better, actually making money instead of losing money for the first time in several years. But in Europe, they point out that Europe's economic problems could still be -- be a problem.

So, you know, when we talk about American carriers making profits, we have to talk about some of the reasons why they're making profits, and of course that's because they're finding creative new ways to get the money out of your pockets for your -- for your travel. And sometimes it has what I would say nothing to do with the actual airline trip but it's all the little attendant things that they're charging you for.

For example, first check bag, $15 to $25; carry-ons, $20 to $45. That's just for the (ph) airlines so far. Meals and snacks, you pay $3 to $10 now. You're paying for seat assignment. You're paying for window or an aisle seat. You're paying to board earlier.

In many cases, no indication that because they're back to a profit that they're going to drop any of those fees. It's more likely that they're back to a profit because more people are frankly traveling now because things have gotten better. But the International Air Transport Association points out they've had to deal with, let's see, swine flu, volcano, international currency crises, a financial collapse over the, you know -- so they are very pleased --

CHETRY: And now --

ROMANS: -- that there's going to -- that there likely will be a profit this year.

CHETRY: And you were talking to us about oil futures, and now we could see the fuel surcharges. You could see them losing money because it costs more to fly now.

ROMANS: And here's the thing, so they're assuming that this year and next year, maybe $79 a barrel for crude. But when you look in the crude futures market, you can see far out the crude prices are rising and it's because of what's happening with BP and it's because of what's happening with concerns about drilling and how we're going to be drilling around the world because of this -- this gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.

So a lot of analysts now are looking further out and saying, they think crude prices are going to rise and be rising as the economy begins to recover -- if the recovery sticks -- and because of what's happening in the gulf -- the spill. You could see -- we'll all feel this down the road, either in how much it cost us to fly in an airplane, to drive our car, to run a business, et cetera, et cetera.

ROBERTS: All right. Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning.


ROBERTS: Thanks, Christine.

Still ahead on the Most News in the morning, more rallies in Phoenix over Arizona's controversial immigration law, this time, hundreds of people coming out to support the new legislation. The debaters dividing entire communities, including the state's Latino population. Got that story coming right up for you.

It's 24 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Twenty-seven minutes now after the hour. Your top stories coming up in just about three minutes. But first, an "A.M. Original", something that you'll only see only here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Nearly 1,000 people rallied in Phoenix this weekend over Arizona's new controversial immigration law. Here's the twist, though, they were coming out in support of it.

The legislation has reignited the immigration debate across this nation, and, as our Thelma Gutierrez shows us now, it's even dividing Arizona's Latino population.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the Tea Party descends on Phoenix this weekend to support Arizona's tough new immigration law, the gloves are coming off among some of the state's most prominent Latinos.


ROBERTO REVELES, PRESIDENT, ACLU OF ARIZONA: I'm sorry, but -- but he is totally uninformed about the process, because the visas --

RODRIGUEZ: No, come on. I've worked the process, dummy.

GUTIERREZ: On one side, Retired Colonel Alberto Rodriguez.

RODRIGUEZ: My dad, of course, in the Army. I served in the U.S. Army for 35 years and six months.

GUTIERREZ: On the other side, Roberto Reveles, who served in the United States Air Force.

REVELES: We were at war at the time and so I joined the Air Force to help my country.

GUTIERREZ: Both worked in Washington, D.C., Reveles in the Congress, Rodriguez at the Pentagon. Both met U.S. presidents.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): But when it comes to their politics, especially S.B. 1070, they couldn't be more opposite, so we brought them here to this restaurant to let them hash it out.

What was your gut reaction when Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070 into law?

RODRIGUEZ: I feel very strongly that that bill is not only needed here but is needed in -- in all the other 20 states that are now looking at the bill.

REVELES: It's the most extreme legislation that's been introduced in the entire country. It creates divisiveness.

RODRIGUEZ: Not illegal.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Colonel Rodriguez is the founder of You Don't Speak for Me, a group made up of many Latinos against illegal immigration.

RODRIGUEZ: And I'll be saying the same thing, not only to him, but to all other stupid Hispanics that believe that this country belongs to somebody else.

REVELES: He's just full of braggadocio, making out ludicrous statements. GUTIERREZ: Reveles is the president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

REVELES: How do they know to approach somebody? They do it on the basis of their appearance, on their accent, on their ability or inability to speak English.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): But as a decorated veteran, if you were stopped, would you be offended if you were asked if you were a citizen?

RODRIGUEZ: Of course not. Of course not. And they should ask me, are you an American or not?

REVELES: People who come here, come here seeking a better life. There is no way --

RODRIGUEZ: Illegally?

REVELES: Again -- again, I'm asking you not to interrupt me.

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I'm not -- I'm asking you a question.

GUTIERREZ: Both of you were sworn to protect the Constitution of the United States. Do you believe this law is constitutional?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I do. Even if it -- it wouldn't have passed if -- if it was not constitutional.

REVELES: To say that it wouldn't have passed if it weren't constitutional reflects less than a sophisticated knowledge of how government works.

GUTIERREZ: Isn't there any common ground?

RODRIGUEZ: No, because he's wrong, and he knows he's wrong.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): And so, an impasse on a state law that has reignited a national debate.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Scottsdale, Arizona.


CHETRY: We're coming up on half past the hour right now. It's time for a look at this morning's top stories.

Two suspected terrorists, both Americans from New Jersey, arrested as they try to leave the country this weekend. Authorities say they were on their way to Somalia to join an al Qaeda splinter group and plan to wage jihad against the U.S.

ROBERTS: A string of deadly storms is breaking out across the eastern United States.

In Ohio, seven people are dead from just one tornado. The youngest victim: a 5-year-old child. Dozens of people were injured. Many of them spent to the hospital. The storms also destroyed several homes and forced a nuclear power plant in Michigan to shut down for a time.

CHETRY: And the globs of sludge on white sand. It's tough to see. The oil now is reaching Florida's pristine beaches, popular with tourists this time of year. The disaster now is threatening a $60 billion industry, also fragile coral reefs that surround the state.

ROBERTS: The spill is taking an enormous toll across the Gulf. Among the hardest hit are the fishermen.

CHETRY: And the disaster has simply devastated them and their way of life. And they're very angry and uncertain about their future.

ROBERTS: Our Rob Marciano is live. He's in Pensacola Beach, Florida, this morning.

And, Rob, you've been talking to folks there. You know, as we get into, now, what is this, day 48 of this or something along those lines? I mean, how are they doing?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, tension is growing to say the least. You know, everything in this community is so tied to that Gulf of Mexico and this beach and beyond. And throughout the days that we've been here, we've got a number of people that have come up to us and talked to us. And many of them have some interesting stories.


MARCIANO: Nobody wants to charter your boat?

JOSH FORSYTHE (ph), BOAT CAPTAIN: No, we've had multiple, probably 35, cancellations already. And we're getting three to four a day every day.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Josh Forsythe (ph) and crewman Kevin Ross (ph) showed up around our cameras over the weekend with signs begging BP or anyone to hire them. We decided to find out who they were and what their story was.

(on camera): What's up, guys? Good to see you again -- Josh, Kevin. It's good to have the boat back in the water?

J. FORSYTHE: I hope so.

MARCIANO (voice-over): This 22-year-old has grown up on these Gulf waters.

(on camera): When did your father first take you out fishing?

J. FORSYTHE: Probably still in the womb. But I've been on the waters since I was 1 or 2 years old on a boat.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Now Captain Forsythe owns the Bone Collector, but the boat and family business has been out of the water since their first try at red snapper on first day of the season.

J. FORSYTHE: First thing we saw, we're actually at the prop wash and it all turned brown.

MARCIANO: These pictures were taken by the crew.

J. FORSYTHE: We were about 13 miles southeast of the pass is where we first started noticing oil on the lines and we started picking up some snapper in about 120 foot of water that actually had oil on them.

MARCIANO: Oil on the lines and oil on the fish, not good for the family business.

TED FORSYHE, JOSH'S FATHER: My grandfather is a mullet fisherman. It was started three generations ago and my father, he was first chief of police in (INAUDIBLE) and he ran a charter boat as well.

MARCIANO: But right now, the only business is cleaning up the oil and BP is in charge.

Josh's father, Ted Forsythe feels commercial vessels should be the first ones hired.

T. FORSYTHE: You got licensed captains in here begging -- begging to go to work and we can't get anywhere.

MARCIANO (on camera): And you know the waters better than anybody?

T. FORSYTHE: Absolutely, fished these waters all of my life, all of my life.

MARCIANO: Frustrated you're sitting on your hands?

T. FORSYTHE: Absolutely frustrated. There's many emotions: frustration, anger, despair, uncertainty of the future.

MARCIANO (voice-over): But it's his son's future that worries him most.

T. FORSYTHE: My son was, you know, smart enough and good enough to earn his captain's license at 18 years old. He's been running this boat for -- this is his fourth year.

MARCIANO: It's been a bad year, after weeks of calling with no response, finally BP took the bait.

(on camera): So, shortly after we put your son on the air, BP called to hire you?

T. FORSYTHE: Absolutely. At 5:30 last night.

MARCIANO: Do you think that was a coincidence?

T. FORSYTHE: I don't believe in coincidences.


MARCIANO: Ted tells us that the BP scheduler said they would call either today or tomorrow to schedule their training session. We'll see if that happens.

We put in several calls to BP to try to find out, you know, what exactly is their hiring process, do they hire commercial fishermen, do they hire recreational fishermen, and we have yet to hear back from them. Hope to have that call back soon.

As far as where the oil was, we went about a mile off this beach and this is an area where tar balls have been rolling in for days now. A little bit less in the way of tar balls yesterday. Now, the sun is starting to come up. We'll head down to the shoreline and take a look and have a report for you in about an hour, but no huge influx of massive oil plumes hitting the short lines just yet. But those tar balls are certainly disturbing on this crystalline white beach.

Not just the fishermen hurting but every tourist shop on this beach is suffering as well -- John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: All right. Rob, thanks so much. I guess, actually, today is day 49 of this spill. So, probably many more to go as well. Rob Marciano this morning -- Rob, thanks.

CHETRY: Well, next on the most news in the morning: Could there be a solution, perhaps? Could old some car tires be the answer to fixing the leaking oil well? We're going to talk to a child prodigy who's now all grown up -- she's a professor -- about her idea and what BP officials said when she presented it to them.

Thirty-five minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

You're looking a mile underwater this morning where oil and gas are still gushing from the busted well at the bottom of the Gulf, 49 days and counting now. And this doesn't look like success but BP is saying that efforts to cap the leak may have cut it in half based on how much the government says it coming out. Clearly, though, it's still not a solution. The ultimately -- hopefully, the solution will be those relief wells.

But meantime, there are others who say they have ways to try to stop the gusher. Everyone wishes they had a way to stop the oil leaking miles under.

But our next guest may be on to something. She started her engineering PhD when she was just 14 years old, the youngest ever college professor at 18 years old. And she's received fellowships for NASA and the Department of Defense. Her name Alia Sabur and she joins me now.

Good to see you.

ALIA SABUR, 21-YEAR-OLD ENGINEER: Good to see you, too.

CHETRY: So, first of all, this is very interesting. Your idea has actually gotten the attention of BP and the Coast Guard that started with this sketch. You were sort of just sketching out what you thought could be a potential solution.

So, explain to us what you -- where you got the idea to begin with?

SABUR: Well, I was watching on the news and everything. And, you know, I assumed when they started fixing it that it would work. And then I still assumed that when they started fixing it, it would work.

And then, eventually, I thought, you know, it's just not working and even if there are these experts, maybe we were thinking about, and then this is kind of what I came up with. I just drew of this sketch -- you can see it -- just by hand.

CHETRY: Yes, you drew this hand.


CHETRY: And then we'll sort of get a little bit more --

SABUR: Better looking.

CHETRY: Yes, just more technical shot of it.

Explain what you're doing, because your version isn't trying to cap it.

SABUR: Trying to.

CHETRY: Your version is trying to actually reinsert a new pipe that works.

SABUR: It's a stopper. And (INAUDIBLE) it's kind of like plumbing, well, it kind of is. Basically, you have the pipe and then inside, you put a smaller pipe with these tires deflated so it would fit inside. And then inflate the tires not with air but with hydraulic fluid so that it doesn't -- it's not compressible. And then, hopefully --

CHETRY: First of all, when you do -- when you do that part it would effectively seal off the pipe?

SABUR: That's the idea and the advantage to this that I can see is that since there are so many tires that there wouldn't -- it's not dependent on one section. So that if one tire doesn't work or gets damaged or deflates, that there are so many, that there's enough redundancy that it would be able to actually seal it.

CHETRY: And the other interesting part is that you would then -- because you're using hydraulics here, you could actually lower the pressure and get some of that oil out.

SABUR: Exactly. And since you have these smaller pipes, that they would be around, they could connect one of their, you know, standard pipes that they use from the -- that they use to remove the oil normally, connected to there.

CHETRY: So, you actually presented this. You went down to the Gulf Coast. You wanted to see it firsthand, right?

SABUR: Exactly.

CHETRY: When you went down there, you did get the ear for a few minutes of one of the BP executives. What did they say when they -- when you presented your idea?

SABUR: Well, first, he assumed it wasn't my idea. I guess I don't look like the kind of person who would be proposing one of these things. But, no, once he's in the study, he looked at it. He said it seemed very -- that it was definitely interesting, that they should definitely look into it as a potential idea and then it was very impressive. So, I was very happy to hear that.

CHETRY: So, he didn't believe you at first because you looked too young.

SABUR: He didn't think it was mine.

CHETRY: What did he say to you?

SABUR: He just said -- he was looking at it, he kind of looked at it, it had a picture of me, I was blond. So, it might be a little misleading. But he looked at it and he said, where did you get this from? And I said, well, it's my idea. He said, oh, really. OK. Then he read the biography and said it was impressive.

CHETRY: What do you -- what do you make of the situation in terms of what they've been trying. I mean, as you said, you, like most of us, thought that at least one of these various solutions was going to work.

SABUR: Well, there has -- they haven't done anything like this at this level. So it's all been kind of trying just, hit or miss to see what works. And obviously, they have all these experts. But if no one has done it before, they don't know what will work.

And this -- what they're doing right now seems to be at least partially working and it would be in everyone's best interest if it just got fixed as soon as possible. But in the event it doesn't work, which it may not, I hope this idea maybe can help.

CHETRY: Something that they could possibly use.

So, meanwhile, what are you up to and we talked about your impressive resume. I mean, you teach, right? You teach at a college already.

SABUR: I was teaching in South Korea and then I returned from there. And I will be finishing my PhD soon and -- I mean, I've been thinking, which obviously got me somewhere. And I'm also working on writing a memoir.

CHETRY: And in the meantime you're solving BP --

SABUR: Yes, pretty much.

CHETRY: -- and particularly the Gulf Coast problem.

SABUR: It sounds a little silly to say you're spending your time thinking, but I did accomplish something.

CHETRY: Yes, absolutely. That's wonderful. More people should spend time thinking.

I hope that, you know, they consider this and that it's something that ends up possibly being something they try.

But, anyway, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

SABUR: Thank you.

CHETRY: Alia Sabur, thanks for being here this morning.

ROBERTS: Writing a memoir at the age of 21, that's obviously going to be the first of many volumes I would think.

Reynolds Wolf is in for Rob Marciano this morning. He's going to have this morning's travel forecast right after the break. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Oh, that will make you smile this morning. Beautiful shot of the Statue of Liberty, the gateway to America and New York City. 60 degrees right now. Later on today, 76 degrees and sunny. Won't have that mugginess that we had here all weekend. So, it's going to be a beautiful time to be in New York.

CHETRY: Gorgeous shot this morning.

Meanwhile, 47 minutes past the hour. New this morning, too much time on twitter, on Facebook. The internet, in general, could be taking a toll on you. Some experts tell the "New York Times" that technology is causing some people to become impatient, forgetful, and even more narcissistic. One of the reasons they say everything is saved from meaningless e-mails to angry instant messages and that makes it hard for some people to let go.

ROBERTS: If you thought the leaning Tower of Pisa was wild, check out the capital building in the United Arab Emirates that's now the world's furthest leaning tower according to the folks at the Guinness World's Record Book. What's most amazing about it is that is supposed to be that way. The 35-story building was engineered with an 18-degree slope that's nearly five times greater than Italy's Tower of Pisa.

CHETRY: Do they still keep that thing on in or it just like come off eventually?

ROBERTS: I have no idea.

CHETRY: Looks like scaffolding, high tech scaffolding.

Oscar winner, Sandra Bullock, briefly touched on the tabloid attention that she's been getting over break-up with a strange husband and admitted cheater, Jesse James. These comments coming that she accepted the Generation Award at the MTV Music Awards in L.A. Here's a look.


SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTRESS: Can we please go back to normal? Because therapy is really expensive. Go back to making fun of me, I don't care. It's time to get back to normal. And I think when we all go to bed tonight, we should think about all the people that are being affected in the Gulf and just say a prayer for them and hope that everything is going to be OK. Good night. Thank you.


CHETRY: During her speech, Bullock also told the crowd, quote, "I love what I do, and I'm not going anywhere. She also received a standing ovation from everyone present.

ROBERTS: She also briefly touched on Scarlett Johansson.

CHETRY: Yes, she did with her lips.

ROBERTS: Sort of a recreation of a Britney Spears-Madonna thing that looked at into (ph) a long time ago. So, we should point out that she really does care about the Gulf. She got a place in New Orleans. So, that place has big place in her heart.

Let's get a quick check of this morning's weather headlines. Reynolds Wolf in the Extreme Weather Center for us this morning and talk about your extreme weather, we had lots of it yesterday.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, and this morning, we're seeing basically round two of it in parts of the show me (ph) state and also take a look at Kansas. Right now, Wichita southward to about Oklahoma, north of Oklahoma City. No alarm clocks needed morning, some strong thunderstorms. This yellow shape that we're seeing happens to be your severe thunderstorm watch with the most a few spot where you have some orange shade that happens to be your severe thunderstorm warnings.

As we zoom in a little bit, you'll get a better idea of just how intense these things are. Everything you see shaded in the orange or reds, that's your heaviest rainfall. Not only we're having heavy rain and some hail but even some strong wind gusts, some topping 70 miles per hour. Ladies and gentlemen, we're talking about wind gusts that are the equivalent tropical storms. Now, what we're going to be seeing later on today is possibly more of that severe weather, but popping up a little bit farther north in the northern plains back in the Central Rockies, perhaps a little bit of action in the great basin and some scattered showers in the pacific northwest.

In the southeast, pretty quiet and fairly nice for you in the northeast, but what about later on today? What about the travelers? There will be some delays. Of course there will be, come on. Just take a look at you, guys, in New York, Metros, some isolation of wind anywhere from a 30 to a 60-minute delay. Same deal in Miami, Orlando, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. If you're driving by car as we wrap things up, keep the air conditioning on high especially in Dallas going up to 98 degrees, 111 in Phoenix, 107 in Vegas, and 80 in Washington, D.C.

That's a quick snapshot in your forecast. We got more coming up straight ahead. Let's send it back to you in New York.

CHETRY: All right. Reynolds Wolf for us this morning. Thanks so much.

WOLF: You bet, guys.

CHETRY: And this morning's top stories are just a couple minutes away including tar balls on the white sands in Florida, sludge now washing up on the panhandle. We're live on the beach where people are afraid that summer is about to slip away.

ROBERTS: At five minutes after the hour, caught on tape, Joran Van Der Sloot and a young woman who's found murdered in his hotel room. Is this going to seal the case? We're live in Peru.

CHETRY: Also ahead at 50 minutes past the hour, in depth, an A.M. security watch from Jersey to jihad. Two men arrested at the airport on the way to Somalia. We'll take a closer look at another breeding ground for al Qaeda and our options there. Those stories and much more at the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: Honoring the fallen again this morning. A special new section of paying tribute to our fallen war heroes, U.S. and coalition soldiers who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's called home and away. Just to kind of give you the lay of the land here with the website. On one side, we got, this morning, a map of Iraq and the circles represent areas where U.S. and coalition forces have died. You can see that a majority of them have been around Baghdad out here west in Fallujah up in the Mosul area. And over here in the map in the United States, corresponding dots, those are the hometowns of the U.S. and coalition service members who have died.

For each place as well -- or for each, at least, there's a place where friends and family can leave a tribute. And to give you a little bit of a demonstration of that, this morning, we're focusing on Lance Corporal Johnny Ray Strong. He is 21 years old. We want to take a moment to remember him. He was from Lebanon, Indiana. He died in Baghdad on December 26, 2006. He was just -- actually this says he died in Anbar Province, June 12, 2007. So, take a look at some memories.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was the cutest little boy. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin. He was just gorgeous. Just always had a smile on his face. Baseball was his joy of his life. Even played on summer league teams, winter league times. He played indoor baseball and outdoor baseball. Also, his baseball jersey has been retired at his high school. So, that was a pretty big thing.

He loved life. There wasn't anything in life he wasn't happy with. He wanted to go to war to protect our freedom. Joey (ph) was a marksman, sharp shooter and a Humvee driver. That's what his career was in the army. He was just a great kid. He was 21 and just an absolute great kid. He got into his little, you know, onry (ph) trouble making stunts, but it wasn't anything big, and it wasn't anything he couldn't get himself out of or handle. So, just normal boy, pretty awesome boy. Take him back in a heartbeat.


ROBERTS: And you can learn more about all of those in uniform who paid the ultimate price for America in Iraq and Afghanistan, just logon to

Top stories are coming up next. It's three minutes to the top of the hour.