Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

Testing Begins on New BP Oil Cap; BP New Containment Cap: How It Could End the Spill for Good; Castro Issues Warning to Obama on Iran; Bill Clinton's Mission in Haiti; Uganda Bombings; FDA Avandia Hearings; Obama Administration to Unveil Plan to Combat HIV & AIDS; Mad Mel's Rant?

Aired July 13, 2010 - 06:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning to you. Glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING on this July 13th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Drew Griffin. John Roberts off today.

Busy day, lots to talk about. The lead story, though, is BP will begin testing the new containment cap on top of its well. It could be the day, folks, it ends. The oil giant optimistic they could have this leak contained. You've seen it before though, so are they really on the verge of a breakthrough? In a moment, we're going to go live to the Gulf.

CHETRY: Targeting terrorists in Uganda. Authorities have made several arrests in suicide bombings that killed dozens of people who were watching the World Cup final Sunday. Officials say that it could have been much worse. Just ahead, we'll talk to an American who survived the attacks.

GRIFFIN: And a high-stakes hearing for the popular diabetes drug Avandia. An FDA panel could vote to pull this off the market. Studies have linked Avandia to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, even death. The drug maker insists it is safe. We're going to be digging deeper on that one.

CHETRY: Also, the amFIX blog is up and running. Join the live conversation right now. Just go to CNN.com/amFIX.

GRIFFIN: But first, let's get right back to that big story this morning. And it is a good one if it works. A glimmer of hope for the Gulf Coast residents.

We take a look now at live pictures of a new cap on top of the leaking well. And for the first time in 85 days, BP seems to be pretty confident now the oil you see spewing into the Gulf can be obtained. We talked about it with Admiral Allen yesterday. First thing though this morning, BP is going to start testing the pressure of this well to make sure there are no leaks.

CHETRY: Yes. During those tests, the oil flow will decrease as the valves on the cap are closed. Now the cap is still a temporary fix until the relief wells are drilled into the blown-out well.

Our Ed Lavandera live in New Orleans. Ed, good morning. So if this cap works, this would be a major accomplishment. I mean, essentially if the pressure is right, this could mean that the oil stops flowing.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. As Thad Allen had mentioned yesterday, BP officials did as well, they have a couple of different ways they hope this can go. So in terms of how many options they have and what can be done here, I think that's why this is one of the more hopeful scenarios they've seen in quite some time. But you can easily understand the skepticism that might be out there across the country as people hear news about this.

We've been down this road many times before as the engineers have worked to come up with a way of at least controlling or containing this oil disaster while those relief wells have been drilled simultaneously. So officials here say that they hope that -- and perhaps this testing is already under way. We'll get an update here in a couple of hours.

But officials hope that this cap can either work by itself and they'll do a series of tests which involved closing the valves and that sort of thing on top of this new cap, and then it will either work by itself or they hope at the very least they can use the pipes and the machinery and the technology that's already out there to siphon up oil to the water surface and vessels that they have up there waiting to collect it as well. They say they have the capacity to handle all if these government estimates are correct. So it will be quite an interesting day to see how this will play out over the next couple of days, guys.

GRIFFIN: Ed, BP has been criticized every step of the way. This process, even though it looks promising, they're being criticized as well. Why did it take this long to come up with this cap that may work?

LAVANDERA: You know, it's kind of a big picture question, really. And this kind of goes back to the criticism of the oil industry in this particular case that a lot of this technology just didn't exist a few months ago when this disaster struck. And so a lot of this technology has been developed and BP officials say simply just wasn't ready.

So, a lot of this has been worked on, trial and error kind of engineering on the fly, if you will. If you remember back in May, different versions of these types of caps have been experimented with and they've kind of been learning from the mistakes of the previous weeks and months. So they say if this would have been ready back in May, they would have done it but it's just ready now.

CHETRY: The White House, meanwhile, also issuing a new deepwater oil drilling moratorium, of course, after the courts overruled the first one. What's been the reaction among people in the Gulf to the news that they could perhaps get their way this time, the White House, when it comes to stopping deepwater drilling? LAVANDERA: You know, it's interesting. This news came out as the national commission on this disaster created by President Obama was holding its first meeting here in New Orleans. And this quickly became the topic of the commission yesterday as many people in that open forum and public comments were making that this would be essentially a second disaster, resounding wherever you go along the Gulf Coast talk of a moratorium, although in this particular case it's not the Interior Department or the federal government isn't calling it a moratorium so they're changing the wording on that, calling it a suspension.

But essentially people here say it's the exact same thing. They say it will cost millions and millions of dollars and thousands of jobs for people down here on the Gulf Coast. So it's universally panned throughout this region for the most part.

There are some people who support it like Florida Senator Bill Nelson. But here in Louisiana and many parts of the world, folks who would be directly affected by this feel that these suspensions or moratoriums, whatever you want to call it, would drive jobs away and drive the industry away.

CHETRY: Got you. Ed Lavandera for us this morning, thanks for the update. We'll be checking in with you throughout the morning.

Meanwhile, talking a little bit more about this new cap, the work on it began on Saturday. The old one was removed and that allowed the oil which is about 60,000 barrels a day as a best estimate to flow freely into the Gulf again.

GRIFFIN: Yes. But now that 18-foot high, 150,000-pound metal cap is in place. Our Chad Myers is going to explain to us just how this is working.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: They took a big machine. They dropped it on here. They unscrewed the bolts, and they took that piece away. Then they took another machine and they dropped it down. And as it drops down, there it comes, it actually attached much better and there is a significantly better attachment point.

Look at that. Can you see that? Can you see how that sticks out there? That is going to be where the new cap comes in. Literally a new blowout preventer is going to go on top of the old blowout preventer. They're not calling it that. They're just calling it a cap. As we lower the cap down, there are three valves that will literally shut off the oil. So a new good seal here, a new good seal here, all of a sudden you turn the valves off and the oil stops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Turning the valves off right now, it's a slow process. Stay with us though. In less than 20 minutes, we're going to break down the risks that come with closing those valves on this new cap when we talk to Darryl Bourgoyne. He is the director of Louisiana State University's petroleum engineering lab.

CHETRY: Also developing this morning, troubling questions are being raised by a group of lawmakers. They want to know whether or not BP lobbied for convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset (ph) al- Megrahi's release so that it could profit from Libyan oil deals.

Now, Megrahi, you'll remember, was released from a British prison last year amid a lot of controversy after a doctor ruled that he was dying from cancer and had three months to live. Well, it turns out that one of those doctors now says Megrahi who's back home in Libya could live another 10 years.

Other stories new this morning, a 12th person taken into custody now in connection with the Russian spy case. The "Wall Street Journal" reporting the suspect is an unnamed 23-year-old Russian man, and the FBI has been watching him since last October. The man has not been charged but is in the process of being deported from an undisclosed location.

GRIFFIN: Other big news at the White House, America's confidence in President Obama hitting an all-time low. A new "Washington Post"/ABC poll shows nearly 60 percent of Americans say they have lost faith in the president. A clear majority also disapproves of how the president is handling the economy. The numbers singling that an anti- incumbent mood is settling in just before this falls mid-term elections.

CHETRY: And there's no free speech in Cleveland, at least in the NBA. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert fined $100,000 for blasting LeBron James after LeBron left the Cavs last week to sign with the Miami Heat. Gilbert posted a scathing letter on the team's Web site calling it cowardly, betrayal, a shocking act of disloyalty. Well, NBA commissioner David Stern says that Gilbert's comments, though understandable, were ill-advised and imprudent.

GRIFFIN: Almost eight minutes after the hour, we're going to get a quick check of this morning's headlines in the weather department with Rob Marciano in the extreme weather center. Hi, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Drew. Good morning, Kiran.

You have temperatures in the mid 90s. Another sizzler yesterday across the New York City area. Today, a different deal with rain now moving in to cool things off just a little bit.

From Boston to New York to Philly, back to D.C., showers and thunderstorms will rumble across the I-95 corridor today, at least in the morning. It's a little bit rough for Philadelphia especially. And I think these will be all kind of be on and off throughout the afternoon as well. So just be prepared for that today and to some extent tomorrow. And then you'll get back into the heat as we go towards later in the week.

And another morning across Tennessee and Ohio Valleys of seeing showers and thunderstorms, some of which have been heavy. Memphis getting pounded again. They saw several inches of rainfall yesterday and there are flood watches that are posted for this area today. Another two to four inches potentially and yes, it does include Nashville. They're recovering from the floods from last month. Ninety-one in Atlanta, 98 in Dallas, and 84 but rain-cooled 84 in New York.

We'll talk more about that and some serious flooding going on in China. That's in about 30 minutes. Drew and Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right. Rob Marciano for us, thanks.

GRIFFIN: Rob, thanks.

Some big news coming out of Cuba. Fidel Castro apparently is still alive with a warning to the White House. Cuba's former leader is even talking, sitting down for a lengthy interview in Havana. His thoughts on America's stand-off with Iran and what he thinks is really happening on the Korean Peninsula. We are live and he is live from Cuba.

CHETRY: Also, more potential problems for Mel Gibson. A new recording surfaces. Now as you hear it, you have to judge for yourself whether or not it's him.

Ten minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Yesterday morning at this time we were talking about the World Cup bombings in Uganda. Now there's new developments in the case. The terror attacks that happened in Uganda as we said, the government arrested several people in connection with three deadly bombings. At least 74 people killed. One of them an American.

CHETRY: And also, an unexploded suicide belt was found at one of the bombing sites and in the Ugandan bombing capital of Kampala. A Somali Islamist group with ties to Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, has claimed responsibility now for Sunday's attacks, targeting crowds watching the World Cup final.

Our David McKenzie is live for us from Kampala. And also, actually we just -- he just went out on us. We've been having trouble with his connection. But one of the things that came out a short time ago, they are possibly going to be holding a news conference to give us a few more details on that. We will check in with David when we re-establish our link with him.

GRIFFIN: Right. That's a little tough.

Also new this morning, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He's making a rare appearance since handing control of his country over to his brother Raul. There he is. Castro talking extensively on several global issues.

CHETRY: Also, he had a warning for President Obama about Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIDEL CASTRO, FORMER CUBAN LEADER (through translator): The Iran crisis right now is the worst crisis that Obama has right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: For more, let's go to our David Ariosto. He is from the Cuban capital of Havana. Tell us more about the timing of the interview and why he decided to speak this morning.

DAVID ARIOSTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, these interviews or yesterday's interview comes on the heels of several columns and blogs that former Cuban President Fidel Castro has written over the last weeks and months blasting the U.S. for its foreign policy predicting a potential nuclear war between Iran, United States and Israel. And effectively what we saw last night was the TV version of some of these columns. He's become sort of a blogger in chief, a columnist in chief after stepping down in 2006 when he grew ill, then handing over the reins to his younger brother, Raul.

But what's interesting about all the timing of this is it comes on the heels of one of the biggest -- or the biggest political prisoner release in over a decade. Fifty-two political prisoners are set to be released in the course of the next three to four months. The first group of which are en route to Spain at this very moment. And so, Cuba is making headlines without this news. What's interesting is Fidel is coming on state television, making headlines again around the world. But things here in Cuba unearthed some very serious domestic issues that are taking place. Fidel choosing to speak about international issues.

GRIFFIN: David, I got to ask you, most of our viewers don't speak Spanish, so we're just listening to his sounds. Does he come across as lucid and coherent? And the reason I ask that is because he is now accusing the U.S. of sinking the South Korean ship to try to provoke hostilities with North Korea, kind of an odd, out-there theory.

ARIOSTO: Right. Well this is -- this is par from the course in some of these columns and blogs that he's written, but he -- he does look -- in terms of his -- his health, he was able to come on television last night. He's been able to pen these columns and articles so that has many people that we've talk to here encouraged, at least those who are pro-government supporters, encouraged by the apparent health and vigor of former -- the former Cuban leader.

In the course of all of this, what's interesting is that younger brother, Raul, has made some -- some significant, albeit behind-the- scenes changes since taking over in 2006. He's liberalized some barber shops, small reforms, even liberalized some areas of agricultural reforms. And throughout the course of this, oftentimes, Fidel Castro comes out in columns or blogs, in state media, and -- and basically indicating that he's -- he would indicate a move against some of these moves.

So you see two contradicting points often in what -- what Raul has pursued and what Fidel has responded to later in state media. So the question remains, who is really pulling the -- the levers behind the political machine that is the Cuban government?

GRIFFIN: All right, David, thank you so much for that. Again, he shows up and he's alive. I thought that was a headline right there.

CHETRY: I know. It's amazing.

Well, it is more than six months now since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti and everyone agrees that the country needs much more help than it's actually getting. Former President Bill Clinton, who co-chairs the commission on reconstruction for Haiti, says that donor countries have delivered just a fraction of the billions of dollars they initially promised.

Well, CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke exclusively with the former president about the challenges in trying to put Haiti back together again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In terms of other jobs you've done, how tough is this one? Where does this compare?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the geographical expanse of this as compared with the tsunami is much more narrow. That's the good news.

The fact that the Dominican Republic, the nearest neighbor, is committed and all the Caribbean and Central and South America and Mexico are committed, as I said, you know, this is something that Venezuela, Cuba and the U.S. agree on but also all of our neighbors, all the neighbors of Haiti. That's the good news.

But I've never dealt with a place that lost essentially its urban center and 30 percent of its population and far more than that of its GDP. We've just got to go back and reconstruct it. And on the other hand, because of the scale, if we do it right and they do it right, I think they'll be much better off when the rebuilding is done, economically and socially, than they are now.

I think they'll have universal education for the first time. I think they'll have a health care system for the first time. I think they'll have a competitive economic investment climate for the first time with good infrastructure and -- and airports and ports wouldn't have to cost an arm and a leg to use because they'll have other ways of raising revenue. So -- and they'll be -- they'll be able to get more and more investment.

So -- and they might become the first energy independent place in the entire Caribbean, which would be pretty impressive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: CNN's Anderson Cooper is going to be joining us live from Port-au-Prince at 8:05 Eastern with more on his exclusive interview with former President Clinton in Haiti.

GRIFFIN: Still to come right here on the Most News in the Morning, oh, "Consumer Report" saying it cannot recommend the new iPhone 4. This has some saying Apple should consider a recall. At Apple? Really? We'll have more, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. And we continue to follow a developing story out of Uganda. Several people arrested there in connection with the terror attacks in Uganda. This happened on Sunday.

CHETRY: That's right at least 74 people now and we've seen this number continue to rise as the days go on, including one American were killed. They were watching the World Cup final at the time. It was an unexploded suicide belt that was found at one of two bombing sites in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. A Somali Islamist group, as we've said, al-Shabab, with ties to al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility.

We're going to check in again with David McKenzie, this time on the phone. And you just got out of a news conference a short time ago. Any new details from authorities there, David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, dramatic new details, actually. The police were holding up what they say is an unexploded suicide vest or belt and basically they were saying that this was found at a nightclub last night on the tip off from the public. They showed a belt and a detonator, as well as (INAUDIBLE) paraphernalia that they say could possibly have been used for a third strike (ph) for another attack.

Right now, 74 dead scored (ph) in this terror attack here in Kampala, Uganda in East Africa. Now, they are an al Qaeda-linked group, al-Shabab in Somalia has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

One American has been killed. Several wounded and certainly the most serious attack here in the East African nation in many years. Back to you.

GRIFFIN: David, the -- the suicide vest you're saying was found at a separate location, one that did not face explosions, so presumably the suicide bomber abandoned his cause and just left?

MCKENZIE: That's what they are saying. Now, the police are being pretty tight-lipped about some of the details. They don't want to (INAUDIBLE). They've made some arrests now, Drew.

But what they did say, what's the police chief in fact told me, is that they found this vest on the tip of a public, they found it in the trash. And he said it's -- it's very similar to the evidence they're seeing at the site of the explosion, it had ball bearings impregnated in some kind of explosive and could have done very serious damage. They say that it's similar to what they have seen and then linked to what they've seen and evidence of those attacks that -- that killed a number of people.

I'm right outside of the hospital right now. That they have (INAUDIBLE) of people. The flags flying at half mast for a week of mourning here in Uganda and especially here you can see in the capital.

GRIFFIN: All right. It could be a big -- big clue. Thanks, David McKenzie from Uganda.

CHETRY: Meantime, it's 24 minutes past the hour. We're "Minding Your Business."

All the talk this morning is about the iPhone 4 after "Consumer Reports" gave it a thumbs down and "Do Not Buy" rating. The influential product review magazine spotted one major flaw. It's something that has been talked about since it came on the market. And reviewers say that they've confirmed that the smart phone does have reception problems when a spot on the bottom left side is touched.

Plenty of tech blogs say that if you buy a -- a case for the phone it fixes the problem. "Consumer Reports" also somewhat sarcastically recommended duct tape to put over that small piece on the left-hand bottom to help solve the problem. But they're claiming -- and this is the big deal --

GRIFFIN: Duct tape.

CHETRY: -- that it's a hardware, not a software glitch. I mean, Apple was saying that it was a software glitch --

GRIFFIN: Right.

CHETRY: -- that gave the two bars higher than was actually the case in terms of reception. They say, no, they tried it in the room. They tested it in a room. It was not subjected to radio frequencies, three different phones and they claim that all of the phones acted the same. That it's a hardware issue which has now prompted some questions about whether Apple will recall the new model.

GRIFFIN: Wow. That's pretty interesting to see how Apple handles this. They're not used to it. That's for sure.

Talk about a tall order, though. Listen to this. An effort to go green, the Empire State Building is going to replace all its windows. How many? Twenty-six thousand and fifty-six. Building management is spending $13 million on insulation and other upgrades. In the end they say they'll cut energy use by nearly 40 percent and save nearly $4.5 million a year.

CHETRY: That's a stimulus project in itself.

GRIFFIN: Yes. Wonder how much they're going to --

CHETRY: All those windows.

GRIFFIN: That's a lot. CHETRY: Well, coming up, the FDA taking a second look at the controversial diabetes drug Avandia. Does the popular drug pose a threat to your health, to your heart health in particular? We're going to be joined by Dr. Sanjay Gupta who's digging deeper for us.

It's 26 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: That was the silent version of that song. Twenty-eight minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

In just a few hours, the Food and Drug Administration convenes two days of hearings on the safety of Avandia. It was once the most popular drug for treating diabetes. The FDA panel is putting Avandia under the microscope because of studies that suggest it may cause serious heart problems. The drug maker though was insisting it's safe.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a preview of today's hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EDWARD DARDEN (ph), DIAGNOSED WITH DIABETES: Turn it on and let it heat up.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Edward Darden (ph) was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago. In 2006, he started taking Avandia to control his blood sugar. And then came a study in the "New England Journal of Medicine," the headline, a 43 percent increase in heart attacks for patients on Avandia.

Dr. Steven Nissen wrote that article in 2007 and an update last month. He is giving a presentation to the FDA.

DR. STEVE NISSEN, CARDIOVASCULAR MEDICINE, CLEVELAND CLINIC: We've had evidence now for a number of years that Avandia increases the risk of heart attack in diabetic patients.

GUPTA: But in 2007, this same panel voted 22 to 1 that the evidence was too weak to take Avandia off the market. One reason -- a large clinical trial called "Record." It was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, the company that makes Avandia and shows no increased risk. But, it's taking some heat.

On Friday, the FDA posted an analysis by one of its experts who said Record is full of holes. He said the researchers didn't follow up on reports of bad outcomes even for some patients who died.

NISSEN: I've been following the FDA for 20 years. I've never seen an FDA review as blistering as his review of the Record trial.

GUPTA: This is Dr. Murray Stewart, a top Glaxo scientist. We ask him to come on camera, he didn't want to before the hearing. He did tell us by phone, "Avandia is safe." And he said that six clinical studies, not just record, back him up.

It's extremely confusing for diabetes specialists like Barbara Onumah at Washington Hospital Center.

DR. BARBARA ONUMAH, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: There's a lot of information out there and we don't know which to believe. And I think this is where we really rely on the government agencies to give us some direction as to whether the medicine is safe or not.

EDWARD DARDEN, DIABETES PATIENT: If there's a better alternative, something that doesn't have as much risk, I'd rather do that. And I think that's what I'll do.

GUPTA: Edward Darden didn't wait. He switched to another medication and he is not alone. Prescriptions of Avandia are down by 2/3 in the past three years.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: Coming up in the next hour, 7:40 Eastern, we're going to be speaking to Dr. Steven Nissen. He essentially started all of this. He's going to be testifying at today's hearings from the Cleveland Clinic and his study raised initial questions about the safety of Avandia.

So, he's going to talk to us about what he thinks will happen today.

GRIFFIN: Good. Especially with those people who have it in their closet and their prescription cabinets right now.

CHETRY: Right.

GRIFFIN: Unbelievable.

Thirty-one past the hour -- and that means it's time for this morning's top stories.

The big top story: New hope this morning in the Gulf. BP testing now a tighter fitting containment cap. If it works, the oil could be shut off. The oil giant says it should contain most, if not all, of the gushing oil from the well. Today's tests could last anywhere from a few hours to two days or even longer.

CHETRY: Well, authorities in Uganda have made several arrests in the suicide bombings that killed 74 people, including an American. It happened as people were gathered to watch the World Cup finals Sunday. But officials say it could have been much worse. They found an undetonated explosive belt at one of the two bombing sites. The FBI is assisting in the terror investigation.

GRIFFIN: And on the heels of an historic swap between Moscow and Washington, the feds detaining a 12th person in their investigation. The "Wall Street Journal" is reporting that feds detained an unnamed 23-year-old Russian man. The FBI has been investigating him since last October. Not clear why investigators targeted him or if he had the same training as the other 11. The man has not been charged but is in the process of being deported from an undisclosed location.

CHETRY: There are new numbers just released from the CDC that estimate 1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. One out of every five of those people do not know they're infected and those numbers are even worse in our nation's capital.

GRIFFIN: Yes. So, later today, the Obama administration officially unveils its new plan to fight HIV and AIDS.

Let's go to Dan Lothian live from the White House with more on what the White House is doing -- Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Drew.

You know, I think what concerns a lot of people is that 30 years after the first cases of HIV began to appear, this remains a major problem. So, the White House today will be rolling out this comprehensive plan to fight HIV. It aims to reduce the number of new infections and also hoping to provide better care for those living with HIV.

We'll hear more about that later today -- but to get a first- hand glimpse of this disease, the president wouldn't have to go very far. In fact, all he has to do is walk out the front door.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN (voice-over): It's not the headline any city's mayor would be proud of. Washington, D.C.'s HIV infection rate surpasses parts of West Africa's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In an area where you have extreme rates of disease --

LOTHIAN: A blunt assessment from the district's former HIV/AIDS administration director, who added that D.C. was, quote, "on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya."

What's equally disturbing? People living with HIV, unaware.

JUSTIN GOFORTH, DIR. OF COMMUNITY WEALTH, WALKER-WHITMAN CLINIC: It is estimated that one-third to one-half of the residents of D.C. that are living with HIV don't know their status.

LOTHIAN: Justin Goforth, a director at Whitman-Walter clinic, about a mile from the White House, has been fighting this epidemic -- working with some of the clinic's 3,000 patients, educating, counseling and offering health care.

GOFORTH: The research is really clear that someone who's engaged in medical care for HIV are much less likely to go out and infect somebody else.

LOTHIAN: Goforth says because of the district's increased funding for HIV testing in recent years, the AIDS freight train is slowing down and looking to turn around. But among African-Americans, it's barreling down the tracks. Why?

GOFORTH: Their access to health care, their access to quality education, socioeconomic status, unemployment rate.

LOTHIAN: And there's the stigma that Guy Jenkins, a radio deejay, community activist and clinic patient, admits is alive and well.

GUY JENKISN, WALKER-WHITMAN CLINIC CLIENT LIVING WITH HIV: It's true. We don't tend to take to homosexuality or the HIV thing really well. Those, you know, hiding behind doors and everything.

LOTHIAN: But Goforth is optimistic. He's driven by a passion to help others conquer a mountain that he began climbing 18 years ago when he tested positive for HIV.

GOFORTH: It was a death sentence. And I was devastated. Yes, I'll share my story and say that, you know, it's been 18 years for me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Now, Goforth has even become a father. He adopted an inner city young man, 17 years old whose mother died, also HIV positive.

Now, as the White House unveils its plan today, he will be watching closely. He welcomes this increased focus. But he says what's more important than this focus or even more money from the federal government is for officials to use existing data so they can identify where the problem areas are in the communities across the country so they can be better targeted -- Drew.

GRIFFIN: Dan, I know that's the White House's message today but the other message they've got to be getting is the "Washington Post" poll showing the president's poll numbers down and a lot of heat now coming out about another moratorium in the Gulf on oil drilling. I just got word from a group down in the Gulf that studies the economic impact, saying as many as 12,000 jobs, $172 million in revenue, at stake.

Is there any reaction from the criticism that this new moratorium is doing on jobs and the economy there?

LOTHIAN: Well, listen, you know, White House aides will point out, as they did during the last moratorium that was rejected by the courts, that they realize that there will be the economic impact of this, that some people will be hit hard. But what they point out this is necessary because you can't move forward right now until you figure out what happened and what created this problem. They believe once you figure that out, then you can move forward with deepwater drilling.

So, yes, realizing that there's a negative economic impact from this but wanted to make sure that safety comes first.

GRIFFIN: All right. Dan Lothian at the White House -- thanks.

CHETRY: Meantime, at least a little bit of a bright spot. BP moving forward -- a big step as this new containment cap is now placed over the oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. And now, they're in the process of testing the pressure.

We'll be speaking about Darryl Bourgoyne of LSU's petroleum engineering lab with more on what exactly is going on, as we look at these pictures and what it could mean for the future of capping this oil spill.

Thirty-seven minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Forty minutes past the hour.

This morning, the critical test begins for BP's new containment cap. It's designed to slowly stop the flow of oil into the Gulf.

GRIFFIN: Yes, that is the plan. We've heard it before, right?

Eighty-five days later, an estimated more than 212 million gallons spilled -- will it work? That is the big question.

And we're asking it to Darryl Bourgoyne, he's joining us from New Orleans, I believe, or Louisiana at least, Baton Rouge, director of Louisiana State University's petroleum engineering lab.

Darryl, I just go to ask the obvious question: so far from what you've seen, obvious -- is this working?

DARRY BOURGOYNE, DIR., LSU'S PETROLEUM ENGINEERING LAB: Oh, yes. You know, I was reviewing some of the stuff this morning on the Web that BP's put up and it looks like things are working, going as planned.

GRIFFIN: And the plan is now, as we're looking at this video live from beneath the sea, to -- the cap is in place, now you're slowly closing the cap via valves, correct?

BOURGOYNE: That's correct. You know, I'm not sure if they have actually started closing yet. You know, I haven't seen anything written yet that they're actually closing, but that's definitely the plan and it looks like they're -- if they're not already doing it, they're in position to do that.

CHETRY: And, Darryl, this is the first time we've had -- we've heard actually BP expressing some real optimism that if this seal fits and if the pressure reads the way they need it to and what they need it to do is show that it's high, meaning that there isn't another part of the well that's compromised and leaking -- if it fits, this is the turning point, right? This is the end of the oil flow?

BOURGOYNE: Oh, if they can shut it in and, you know, they have about 8,700 PSI down there at the cap, that would probably indicate -- it's a strong indication that they have stopped the flow.

GRIFFIN: Now, the fear, of course, is you put this cap on and just like shaking up a bottle of pop, the pressure is going to continue to build. When will they know if it's going to hold, or if, God forbid, there's a blowout somewhere subsurface that they haven't accounted for yet and we start seeing actual leakage from the ground, if you will?

BOURGOYNE: You know, a subsurface well failure, you know, the well was designed to take that load when it was originally drilled, you know, and it -- if it does fail, it could fail very deep. The fluids would never reach the surface in that case.

GRIFFIN: So all in all, this is just pure positive news coming out of the Gulf this morning.

BOURGOYNE: I really think so. You know, the fact that they've got a mechanically engaged seal that's basically a flange instead of a slip-on friction seal, if you will, that's a great improvement.

CHETRY: And, Darryl, you know, speaking of that improvement, a lot of people have been asking the question and, I mean, perhaps that we just don't know how long things take, you know, from an engineering standpoint. But why didn't they think of this sooner? I mean, we were talking about the large cement containment dome, then a smaller one, this top hat that was not fitting exactly right, a little bit lopsided. Why -- why not make this sooner?

BOURGOYNE: I wouldn't be surprised if somebody thought of it hours after the incident or even a few days after the incident. It takes a while to stage things. And then, you know, before they got on location, they actually probably rehearsed and had to test things.

It's kind of like a moon shot. They don't -- they can't necessarily just jump up there on the moon and do something. They've got to do a lot of rehearsal and preplanning and contingency planning. And then, actually, even the engineer then builds some specific equipment for this particular application.

GRIFFIN: Darryl, they're building -- drilling the relief wells. We're told that is going to go on and that would be the ultimate kill, I am told. But let me ask you this -- with what's in place now, if it holds and if it works, is this now a viable well for future harvesting of oil for BP?

BOURGOYNE: I would say that's unlikely. You know, is there equipment problems in the shallower part of the well, you know? Or is the tie-back string sealed? Those are all questions that would have to be answered about whether it was a viable well.

I suspect that, you know, they're going to kill it from the bottom with the relief well. That's definitely the most viable option. Get a bunch of seamen in there, then probably cut that wellhead off and begin doing some -- or the BOP, bring them up to the service and start doing some analysis.

CHETRY: And they say if all goes well, by the way, that that could be in place -- the kill operations -- by the end of July. Does that sound on target to you?

BOURGOYNE: Sure. You know, if they have a weather problem or something like that, that could definitely delay them. But it's perfectly reasonable. And if they get the well shut in, there's not going to be any hydrocarbons getting into the ocean. You know, if this test is successful, you know, they could be contained for a considerable amount of time until the relief well is there.

GRIFFIN: All right. Darryl Bourgoyne, LSU's director of the engineering lab, the petroleum engineering lab. Thanks for joining us from Baton Rouge this morning. Thank you, sir.

BOURGOYNE: You're very welcome.

CHETRY: Thanks.

GRIFFIN: It is 6:45. I shouldn't say that. It's 45 past the hour. Rough weather this morning and in the anchor desk. Rob will have a look at the weather right after this break.

CHETRY: Also, cut up in ten minutes, what do you do when you're on a winning streak? If you're Paul the octopus, you retire. See, it was his idea to retire. It was his idea to, you know, start taking bets on the World Cup in the first place. His story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Good morning, New York. Right now, 74 degrees at 49 minutes past the hour. A little bit later, we are looking at 84 degrees for a high and some thunderstorms later.

GRIFFIN: What is that? That's called "Home."

CHETRY: By who? By Edward Sharpton in Magnetic Zeroes. I guess, that wouldn't fit on the screen this morning. There you go.

GRIFFIN: Whistling away there. Great. Forty-nine past the hour. Let's check in with our Rob Marciano down in our weather center. Hi, Rob.

CHETRY: Was that your request, buddy?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It was not, no. And I didn't have my Shazam handy to identify that song to you.

Good morning, guys. Want to touch base on what's going on across the Delmarva right now. Some thunderstorms, one of which is become severe. This one -- actually, a tornado warning just posted for tenth (ph) Caroline and Castle Counties. And this will stood just to the northwest of Dover, but you see a pretty good signature there. this is a radar indicated tornadoes, and no reports of this being on the ground, but certainly, a dangerous situation if you live in one of those three counties.

It is moving northeasterly at about 20 miles an hour. So, there's that rough cell now heading towards the northeast Dover area. Another cell heading just towards Western Philadelphia. And all this action is beginning to roll up the northeastern seaboard. So, yes, thunderstorms, if they're not in New York right now, there'll be there later on today, and as we've seen down across Delmarva, some of those are on the pulling side.

Back to Nashville, Jackson, Memphis, Littlerock, another morning of rough weather. Several inches of rainfall yesterday across this area, could see another three to four inches and that means flood watches have been posted even a couple of flood warnings along the I- 40 corridor.

Here are some of the numbers from yesterday, 4.5 inches in Memphis, Tennessee. West Memphis saw almost 4 inches, Newport, Arkansas 3.25, and here's the forecast bull's eye for later on today. Also, severe storms possible across the northern plains. Want to touch on what's going on internationally. Tremendous amount of rain across parts of China. This is certainly their rainy season, but nothing like this is what is considered to be normal.

The Yangtze River is flooding tremendously, and they are evacuating people. There are some folks missing there. (INAUDIBLE) under -- parts of at least under state of emergency as the military tries to save people from those flood works (ph). Certainly, dramatic pictures there. Hopefully, we don't see something like that across the mid south right now, but Memphis is seeing some heavy rain right now, and those thunderstorms across Delaware, we'll keep an eye on that, that tornado warning in effect, Drew and Kiran, until 07:15 this morning. Back to you, guys, in New York.

GRIFFIN: Thanks, Rob.

It could be a lethal weapon in the domestic violence investigation against Mel Gibson, or shall we say, Mad Max. A new audio tape allegedly capturing Gibson in another profanity-laced tirade.

CHETRY: Yes, and in these tapes, the actor allegedly admits to hitting the mother of his daughter and then threatens her life. Here is a portion of the secretly reporting (ph) some people will find this offensive. Just the warning before we play it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You almost killed us did you forget?

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR: The last three years has been a (EXPLETIVE WORD) gravy train for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were hitting a woman with a child in her hands. You. What kind of man is that? Hitting a woman when she is holding a child in her hands? Breaking her teeth twice in the face. What kind of man is that?

GIBSON: Oh, you're all angry now. You got what you (EXPLETIVE WORD) deserved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what, you're going to answer one day boy, you're going to answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What, what are you threatening me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing, nothing. I'm not the one to threaten.

GIBSON: I'll threaten, I'll put you in the (EXPLETIVE WORD) rose garden, you (EXPLETIVE WORD).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: I mean, that sounds like one of them is reading off a script.

CHETRY: The suspect is released from lying, and there are still some questions about it. But meantime, there are a lot of people in Hollywood who are trying to distance themselves from Mel Gibson. He was dropped by as agency (ph) in the wake of these tapes coming out.

GRIFFIN: Bizarre.

CHETRY: Yes. He's not commenting right now on this recording.

Meanwhile, it's 53 minutes past the hour. Your top stories just minutes away including --

GRIFFIN: Maybe we can get him on the phone.

CHETRY: BP's new cap is over the broken oil well in the Gulf, but is it time to breathe a sigh of relief? What it really means for this 85-day disaster. We're live with our team in New Orleans.

GRIFFIN: Plus, there is new news on those deadly bombings. People watching the world cup final in Uganda. Police just telling us in a press conference there that they found another suicide belt. We're going to be tracking that story on the ground. That's more to come at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: You know what that music means. It's time for a Paul the octopus update.

CHETRY: That's right. What is going on with him?

GRIFFIN: He is going out on the top under the sea. The eight- armed fortune teller, 8 for 8 with the world cup predictions. How appropriate.

CHETRY: How appropriate for that adorable little octopus with eight tentacles. It's better than any team that played in the World Cup. He actually scored more. So, what better time to retire? He also, by the way, got his own trophy.

GRIFFIN: He did?

CHETRY: Yes.

GRIFFIN: In the World Cup?

CHETRY: There you go. There it is in the water.

GRIFFIN: They're beautiful. All right. Top stories coming your way after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)