Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Obama Leaves Door Open for Talks with North Korea; What is Sotomayor's Approach on Environment?; Cyber Bullying Expert: Teach Kids Basic Safety Tools; Prop 8 Opponents to File Federal Lawsuit; Sotomayor Would Be Court's Sixth Catholic

Aired May 27, 2009 - 10:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Here are some of the stories happening right now.

Police are questioning an 83-year-old woman in London after a disturbing discovery. They say she stashed a decomposing body in a home freezer for 20 years. A British newspaper says the corpse is actually the body of the woman's dead mother, But British police have not yet confirmed that. They will conduct an autopsy on Friday.

The Coast Guard suspending its search for a teenager who fell overboard from a cruise ship off the coast of Florida. Bruce O'Krepki was celebrating his high school graduation with about 35 classmates. The Coast Guard says they've searched more than 5,000 square miles within the area. The boy's parents were chaperones for the teenagers on board the ship.

This morning, two American icons are fighting to survive. Both Chrysler and General Motors are at the crossroads. This hour, Chrysler is in bankruptcy court. It's expected to ask a judge to sell most of its assets to Italian carmaker fiat.

Also today bankruptcy appears all but certain for General Motors. Bondholders have rejected a plan for a reduced stake in the company. GM is now expected to file for bankruptcy by Monday.

Christine Romans is part of the CNN Money Team. She's been watching this story.

So, Christine, what do we expect to hear from Chrysler's bankruptcy hearing this hour?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN MONEY TEAM: Well, this is pretty much judgment day for a lot of the dealers who will found out if they survive. If these dealers will be allowed to survive and also the parts of the company that are OK, if they'll all be allowed to be sold and put into this new Chrysler group that would be run by Fiat. So this is essentially the future of the company. Without it Chrysler lawyers say the company would face a liquidation, it would just not exist anymore. So this is taking the pieces that work or at least are the most healthy and putting them together with Fiat for the survival of Chrysler.

COLLINS: So is there any way for GM to avoid bankruptcy now. ROMANS: So GM, wow. So what we're hearing is it has actually moved up its pay date for some employees. So people are getting paid a few days earlier. It would suggest that a bankruptcy filing is imminent, maybe Friday, maybe Monday. We just don't know yet. And Heidi, who is affected here? We keep talking about these bondholders who won't accept the deal that the government and GM are offering.


ROMANS: I want to be clear, those bondholders are Indiana firefighters, they are university professors, they are people - pension funds and 401(k)s, they are you and I. You likely have this stock in your portfolio. If you have a mutual fund anywhere in your portfolio, either in your stocks or your 401(k), your retirement, the tracks, the S&P 500, you have GM. So this affects everyone -


ROMANS: Workers, the economy, investors, employees. It's a big story here.

COLLINS: Yes. Very good point. All right. Christine Romans following both Chrysler and GM there today. Thank you.

We are following President Barack Obama as he travels out west. In a few hours he plans to tour the solar power facility at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada. Then he'll talk of energy investment as part of his recovery package. And tonight he will be in Los Angeles talking at a couple of fund-raisers for the Democratic National Committee.

At each stop so far the president has been singing the praises of his choice for Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Here is how the man he defeated in November and who will vote on the nomination sees it.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I voted against her, and so did Senator Kyl when she was up for appeals court position, but we obviously will give her every opportunity to make her case and at the same time exercise our constitutional responsibilities of examining her qualifications for the position. It's one of the most - it shows again that elections have consequences.


COLLINS: Let's give it to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux now outside the White House this morning. So how is the White House getting Judge Sonia Sotomayor ready for what's ahead?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, you can imagine when you listen to Senator John McCain and the other Republicans, obviously there is a bit of code in there when they say yes, we're going to be fair but we're also going to be tough in that process, the senate confirmation process, the hearings that are going to be coming in the months ahead. We see President Obama on the road. He's on the West Coast the next - these past couple of days, and obviously he's been talking about her record. He's been talking about her overall achievement, her personal story really from humble beginnings on to Princeton as well as Yale Law School. And the fact it was a Republican president who first nominated her to one of her previous posts. All of these things, a real effort, Heidi, to get ahead of the debate, if you will, to try to shape the debate and to try to put pressure on the Republicans to support this candidate. I want you to take a listen to what President Obama said.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She graduated the top of her class at Princeton, editor of the law journal at Yale, prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.'s office, corporate litigator, six years a trial judge on the U.S. district court, her 11th year on the U.S. Court of Appeals, the second highest court in the land. Nobody can say she's not qualified to be on the Supreme Court.


MALVEAUX: So Heidi, that's really just one of the many lines that the president is using now to make his case for his candidate, for his nominee, and one of the things that she's going to be doing in the next couple of days is start what they call these murder boards. That's what the lawyers are calling it here.

It is White House aides, it's Justice Department attorneys as well as private attorneys, all part of the process of pretending to be the senators, mock senators, if you will, grilling her on some of the toughest questions, the issues that she's going to be dealing with in the Senate hearing, the confirmation process. That's something that she's going to be doing in the days to come.

Obviously, they do expect that there will be some tough questions. However, the White House still insists that they are confident, confident that she's going to be able to get through that process. Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. We'll be watching closely. Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Thanks, Suzanne.

The family of boxing legend Mike Tyson thanking people for their prayers and support after a tragic death. Tyson's four-year-old daughter Exodus strangled herself on a cord connected to a treadmill in her Arizona home. Police have ruled the case as an accident.


SGT. ANDY HILL, PHOENIX POLICE: The mother was at home with a seven and a four-year-old. Unbeknownst to her the young Exodus got on that treadmill, somehow worked that cord out of the underneath of the console, got caught on it, strangled. The mom was looking for the daughter and actually sent the seven-year-old to see what the sister was doing. Found her and called mom, and she began CPR, called us, and at this point after a thorough investigation it appears that it's nothing except a horrible tragedy.


COLLINS: So what are some of the hazards in your home for young children? Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is coming up soon to point them out and tell you how to make your home a safer place.

Images of chaos and destruction this morning from Pakistan's second largest city, Lahore. A van filled with explosives levels a police building. At least 24 people are dead. CNN's Reza Sayah is monitoring all of this from the capital of Islamabad. So Reza, this appears to be very well coordinated.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. This was a deadly attack targeting the heart of Pakistan's security apparatus. In the city of Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital, the second largest city in Pakistan. The weapon, a large passenger minivan packed with 100 kilograms of explosives. It's not clear what these militants were attacking.

What we do know is they were trying to penetrate a compound housing very sensitive buildings, government buildings, the offices of the ISI, Pakistan's top intelligence agency, and police headquarters.

Here is how a police official says the attack was carried out. This van approached the initial security barrier. Three men jumped out down, two of them had guns. They started firing their weapons. The third man lobbed a grenade. In the confusion and the initial explosion they penetrated the initial barrier and then came the massive explosion that brought down a two-story building.

That building, the Emergency Response Headquarters in Lahore. At this point officials are telling us 24 people have been killed, more than 250 people have been injured. No one has claimed responsibility, but Pakistan's interior minister says in recent weeks Pakistan's Taliban leader Beytullah Mesud, issued a threat, and it had to do with a military offensive in the Swat region. He said if that offensive is not stopped, we will carry out an attack in a major city, and certainly no city bigger in Pakistan with the exception of Karachi than Lahore. Heidi.

COLLINS: That's right. OK. Our Reza Sayah following the story for us from Islamabad.

Thank you so much, Reza.

North Korea ratchets up its defiant threats. Today the communist nation held a massive rally to celebrate this week's apparent nuclear test and missile launches. It also warned of military action against the south if it tries to stop or search any North Korean. The North also says it's no longer bound by the 1953 Armistice that ended the Korean War. The U.S. now focuses on diplomacy. We'll have more on that coming up later in the hour.

A series of simultaneous raids by the Mexican police has rounded up much more than the list of usual suspects. The raids were in the Mexican state of Michoacan. More than two dozen public officials including 10 mayors and several police chiefs are now under arrest. Expert say the anti-corruption swept dealt a massive blow to the connections that cartels have to some politicians. More than 10,000 people have died as a result of drug violence in that area of Mexico.

All right. Head over to the severe weather center now. Rob Marciano telling us a little more about some of the storms that are coming in.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The storms that have been really popping up in the same spots daily now for over a week, especially in Florida and now in the northeast kind of getting into the act. It's been fairly cool across the northeast and drizzly. Now more substantial rains are kind of encountering upstate New York and northern New England. This is an area under that's under a flood watch through Friday morning.

So more heavy rain expected in this area. All right. We'll zoom the map out a little bit and come back towards Texas. We're starting to see some thunderstorms pop up here just south of San Antonio and just north of Corpus Christi. Not a whole lot of movement with these. So we'll probably see some flooding in some of the rural areas except the streams will be going over their banks. Heavy rains expected across parts of Texas.

This is all in response to what really was an area of low pressure back here and then just a warm sector that encompasses this entire southeastern third of the country. So very warm, very humid air. All that coming up from the Gulf of Mexico and you get that strong May sunshine that kind of pops the atmosphere. So we'll expect to see more thunderstorms filter throughout the day today.

As far as the forecast weather map for today, 66 in New York, but it will be 85 degrees in Nashville. 81 degrees in Atlanta and Tampa, and see how slowly this whole thing moves slowly to the east. It's not going to be very fast to get out of here. Check out this I- report. This is cool.

COLLINS: What's that?

MARCIANO: This is an old waterspout. Actually, it's a new waterspout or it's a waterspout captured on film. This is Manila from I-reporter Gregory Pratt. He used to live in Oklahoma. He said he knew exactly what this was the minuet he saw it.

COLLINS: Really.

MARCIANO: Certainly, you can kind of see.

COLLINS: Did he learn that from you?

MARCIANO: No. He lives in Oklahoma.


MARCIANO: Well, he's from Oklahoma. COLLINS: Try to give you some prompt.

MARCIANO: Thank you. No. Maybe. Yeas, we'll just go with that. Isn't that gorgeous though? He took this from the 38th floor of his apartment I assume and just as the storm developed over Manila. So very cool. I guess we have a Detroit camera. Where is that? Pop that up anywhere. Oh, all right. We'll take that as well.

COLLINS: Is that a bug on the screen? On the -

MARCIANO: Probably. That's our affiliate out that way. Let's see Detroit, red wings taking on the Blackhawks tonight. I think Detroit is ahead of that series 3-1 or 2-1. That's the Stanley Cup. We've got a lot of sports going on. We got the conference finals in the NBA as well. We'll highlight that in the next hour.

COLLINS: Yes, we do have a lot going on. Back to Florida though because we've been talking so much about that. There's actually some good news - you know about this, for divers right now.

MARCIANO: Oh, the ship they're sinking.

COLLINS: That's right. This is off the coast of Key West actually, Florida. So this is from -

MARCIANO: Needs a paint job there.

COLLINS: Well, not really because they're going to sink it. I mean, these are some file pictures of the ship because we are waiting for some new pictures to come in later this hour. But the decommissioned General Hoyt F. Vandenberg is being sunk seven miles off the coast of Key West because they're going to turn it into an artificial reef. You won't have to do a whole lot for that. You just let it sink and then that's what it becomes. But it would end up being the world's second largest.

MARCIANO: I was going to say, that's going to be a big one.

COLLINS: Yes. 532 feet long. It was a cargo ship during World War II. Most recently used by the Air Force to track missiles and spacecrafts. So how about that?

MARCIANO: Well, that would be great for the fishes -

COLLINS: Yes, and also the divers.

MARCIANO: And for the divers. Of course, yes.

COLLINS: OK. Very good. I'm glad we didn't ask -

MARCIANO: So we're going to have video of them, you know, setting the explosives off?

COLLINS: Yes, putting it down. Yes, it's going to be very cool. All right. So stick around for that. We'll bring you back, too, Rob. You can give us more expertise on it. MARCIANO: Yes.

COLLINS: All right. Meanwhile, crime pays, for this man's secretary. We'll tell you how a prosecutor took confiscated cash and gave it to his office staff.


COLLINS: Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik is back in the headlines today. He's been indicted again by federal prosecutors, Kerik is charged with lying to Bush administration officials in 2004 when he was being vetted to become that administration's Homeland Security secretary. Prosecutors say he falsely denied that as a public official that he had any financial dealings with contractors seeking to do business with the city. Similar charges against the former commissioner were dismissed last December.

We all heard it when we were young, crime doesn't pay. Apparently, that depends on who you work for. In Texas, the district attorney doled out huge sums of confiscated cash to his secretary, and the former prosecutor doesn't even deny it. CNN's Gary Tuchman with the story.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It literally paid to be loyal to this man. The former district attorney in Jim Wells County, Texas, who was extremely generous to three of his secretaries, he says watched his back.

JOE FRANK GARZA, FORMER DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They were my eyes and ears in the community.

TUCHMAN: How generous was Joe Frank Garza? He admits for years he wrote checks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars that likely at least doubled their salaries. Much of that money came from U.S. Highway 281, near Alice, Texas, where very often drug curriers, illegal immigrants, and the people transporting them would rather escape into the brush than ever to see their vehicles again.

And that's just fine with the sheriff's department in Jim Wells County. Deputies bring the vehicles to this lot, auction them off, and the Department keeps the money. Oscar Lopez is a long-time county sheriff.

(on camera): If you didn't get that money, what would happen to your department?

SHERIFF OSCAR LOPEZ, JIM WELLS CO., TEXAS: We'd be riding in bicycles and I'm not saying that in fun. It's the truth.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Under Texas law cops are permitted to seize certain values during investigation of possible serious crimes and their (inaudible) of increment is to spend the forfeiture money for law enforcement purposes. As of the D.A., his office also gets a cut of the money. All of this raises the question, doesn't this create an enormous temptation to seize valuables from citizens who are not suspected of serious crimes?

To me that's just a right [inaudible] highway robbery.

Juan Hinojosa is a Texas state senator. He was driving down U.S. 281 in Brooks County, not far from the city of Alice. Police gave him a warning, not a ticket, for weaving and having windows too darkly tinted. He says the accusations were untrue.

JUAN HINOJOSA, TEXAS STATE SENATE: The whole purpose of the stop was trying to see if they could find cash in my truck. One of the things that they were doing is profiling people.

TUCHMAN: Check out this police videotape, another Latino man, this one not a state senator, stopped on 281 because his front license plate was on his dashboard, not on the bumper.

Javier Gonzalez had about $10,000, most of it to pay for funeral arrangements and a tomb stone for a dying aunt. He was charged with money laundering. Deputies confiscated his cash. His attorney said there was no evidence of such crime and sued.

MALCOLM GREENSTEIN, GONZALEZ'S ATTORNEY: It happened on the highway and they were robbed and it just so happened that the people had uniforms.

TUCHMAN: The county D.A. decided to settle the case. Gonzalez got his money back and $110,000 in damages. But the sheriff continues to stand by his men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did everything correctly, sir.

TUCHMAN: So why did the D.A. agree to the settlement?

GARZA: I said look, it's taking too much time. Let's just get rid of it.

TUCHMAN: Even without that money, Garza's office took in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. He got 30% of the county's forfeiture money.

GARZA: When I was there, there wasn't a single item in that office down to the last pen there that wasn't paid with county money. It was all forfeiture money.

TUCHMAN: Under the law, the D.A. can use his share of the seized assets for, "official purposes." So that's what makes an accusation by this man, who beat Joe Frank Garza in his re-election bid, so notable.

ARMANDO BARRERA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, JIM WELLS CO.: Most of the money that was used by him was for three secretaries.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Most of his forfeiture money.

BARRERA: Most of it. It was approximately $3.8 million.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Over an eight-year period. It's a strong accusation.

GARZA: I saw nothing wrong with it.

TUCHMAN: Which the former D.A. doesn't dispute. Although he does say he also gave smaller amounts to other employees.

(on camera): The new D.A. shows us the record shows that you gave hundreds of thousands of dollars over eight years to three of your secretaries.

GARZA: Could be.

TUCHMAN: And do you think that's proper?

GARZA: As far as I'm concerned it was. No, take it back. As far as I'm concerned, it is.

TUCHMAN: The secretaries who worked with the old district attorney no longer work in the district attorney's office. The new D.A. has new secretaries, and he says they won't be getting extra pay from the forfeiture fund, no matter how good they are. We were not able to talk to any of those secretaries on camera. We did ask their old boss if giving them all that money is truly an official purpose as envisioned under state law?

GARZA: There's no definition, nobody can tell what you an official purpose is.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Indeed, even the new D.A. agrees the law is ambiguous, and that's the main reason why there's so much controversy with forfeitures here and elsewhere in the lone star state. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Alice, Texas.


COLLINS: A judge has ordered a 13-year-old Minnesota boy with cancer to resume chemotherapy. Daniel Hauser's parents agreed to go along with that treatment during a hearing yesterday. Daniel and his mother left home last week planning to seek holistic treatment in Mexico, but they returned to Minnesota on Monday.

A lawyer representing the family says they will be able to receive alternative health treatments to supplement the chemotherapy. Daniel and his family had previously rejected chemo after an initial round caused Daniel side effects. On Monday, Daniel told his doctor the pain from a tumor is a 10 on a scale from one to 10.

There are some dangers in your home you know about, but others you may not. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has tips now on keeping your home safe for small children.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: As we reported earlier, police are calling the death of Mike Tyson's four-year-old daughter an accident. The girl was strangled by a treadmill cord. So what can you do about preventing a similar tragedy in your home? Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has some tips.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I am a parent myself, I think this is something that I think about as well as any parent thinks about. A couple things to keep in mind. First of all, we tend to overestimate our child's intelligence and underestimate their abilities, especially small children when it comes to potential hazards in the house.

A very sad story certainly about Mike Tyson's daughter. The key is trying to prevent these sort of things and the key to that is really supervision more than anything else. That's the first caveat. You know when you think about these cords, for example, there are a couple rules of thumb. Unplug the cords as much as possible. Tie them up. So unplug cords to appliances, but also tie up cords that may be to your blinds, for example. Kids can push a piece of furniture over to the blinds and they can get to those cords and that can be a choking hazard.

Again, when you think about - when you look around your house, things that could be potentially dangerous, think about things that can tip over, tip over and potentially hurt your child. A flat screen TV, appliances, furniture. About 15,000 kids go to the emergency room every year because of these sorts of tip overs, and those are some of the most common culprits. There are some fairly inexpensive mounting kits that you can put in today to try to prevent your child from being a casualty or being injured by one of these types of injuries.

Now we don't think a lot about falling out of windows anymore, because the better windows, better screens but it still happens. Think about your child being able to move a piece of furniture over to a window, pushing that screen out potentially. Could that happen? That's another thing you might want to check today.

And you can't be around 24/7, you can't supervise your kid all the time, and it is a lot to think about certainly when keeping your kids safe in the home, but the key is I think awareness. Spending a little time going around your home, trying to make it a little bit safer could possibly help and prevent a lot of heartache in the long run. Back to you.

COLLINS: Sanjay, thanks.

North Korea flexing its muscles and thumbing its nose. How should Washington respond now. We'll look at what's happening on the diplomatic front.


ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Heidi Collins. COLLINS: A possible effect of the stresses felt by our nation's warriors. This year alone there have been 14 suspected suicides at Kentucky's Ft. Campbell. The post is home to the 101st Airborne Division, which just returned from year-long deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. In March the post took part in a suicide prevention campaign held across the entire Army, yet the deaths continue to add up, and the latest measure begins today. The entire installation will stand down for three days so the troops can decompress.

Turning now to the nuclear tensions with North Korea. The U.S. warns a week of defiant words and actions, "must have consequences." The first step, unifying international outrage. We'll get the details now from CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Pyongyang, North Koreans celebrate what they call a nuclear victory. In New York, a frustrated U.N. Security Council pushes forward with a resolution to punish the north.

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: They are gong to will find that they are going that they will pay a price because the international community is very clear. This is not acceptable. It won't be tolerated.

DOUGHERTY: Officials say the U.S. wants the security council to tighten existing sanctions, intercept nuclear cargo to and from North Korea, cut off financing for the north's nuclear program, and possibly even ban the North's lucrative sale of conventional weapons, eliminating a source of income. North Korea must pay a price, but even so, the Obama administration still wants to talk.

IAN KELLY, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Patience obviously is not infinite, but we feel the door does still remain open, that we're ready to engage, and we hope that North Korea will make the right choice.

DOUGHERTY: Despite what it calls reckless behavior by North Korea, the Obama administration is sticking to patient diplomacy, hoping a united front with North Korea's neighbors, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, could bring the North back to the negotiating table. A top adviser to President Obama claims that approach ultimately will work.

GARY SAMORE, WHITE HOUSE ARMS CONTROL ADVISER: My prediction is that at the end of the day, the North Koreans will find that they have no choice but to engage in the six-party talks again because there's no other alternative.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): Behind the scenes, however, officials question whether increased sanctions really can work and whether the six-party talks can survive if the North refuses to take part.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, the State Department.


COLLINS: The Internet gives us all new ways to communicate, but it also gives bullies new ways to torment other kids. If your child is dealing with a cyber bully, we'll bring you some great advice coming up.


COLLINS: President Obama has made energy and the environment a top priority for his administration, so where does his pick for the Supreme Court stand on those issues?'s Poppy Harlow takes a look in our "Energy Fix" coming up now. There you are, Poppy.

So, yes, a lot of people wondering just in general more about Sonia Sotomayor. How about on this issue?

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes, sure. Let's look at some environmental cases, One that she wrote the opinion on, one that she joined in the opinion on. Look at her track record. Judge Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion in a big environmental case recently, back in 2007. It was known as Riverkeeper versus the EPA.

What was considered here is, under the Clean Water Act, power plants are required to use the best technology available to try to protect the fish that live in the rivers and the streams near the plants. But the EPA said the cost of that technology to do that to protect them should be considered in the decision.

Well, environmentalists sued because of that, and Judge Sotomayor agreed with the environmentalists, saying there's nothing about a cost-benefit analysis in the Clean Water Act. That case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, and, Heidi, just last month, the high court reversed her decision.

In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said it's reasonable to take that cost into consideration, and it left it up to the EPA, Heidi, to issue some rules on that cost-benefit analysis. So, her decision overturned by the highest court in this nation.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, does Sotomayor's ruling in that case, then, suggest she's pro-environment?

HARLOW: It's interesting. We posed that question to an environmental law professor at Tulane, and he told us that Sotomayor could be a literalist. He said she reads the statute. That says nothing about cost, so she ruled effectively.

Now, environmentalists, they're certainly encouraged. That's what we're hearing from the news just yesterday and this morning. The group Earthjustice calls Sotomayor well-qualified, says the Riverkeeper case that I just discussed suggests she brings what they're calling an invaluable perspective to environmental issues.

But we should say this. She did join an opinion against the Environmental Defense Fund in a 2004 case concerning New York smog, Heidi. So, she's ruled on either side. COLLINS: I see. Well, if she is confirmed, how is it going to change the outcome of environmental cases?

HARLOW: Well, it's really interesting because that's front and center right now. The Obama administration making environmental issues really a top priority in the administration. Environmentalists arguing the court right now closely divided on a lot of those issues, and the EPA is already looking a lot different under President Obama than it did under the Bush administration, Heidi. One environmentalist talked to us using some pretty strong language saying, quote here, "There's no longer a polluter in the White House."

So, this is a very controversial issue, and as you see that climate change legislation going through Congress and the White House right now, you can bet that this is going to be a hot topic for the Supreme Court, those environmental issues, because cutting carbon emissions, if we see that legislation go through, Heidi, that's going to mean more costs to businesses, and you can expect some cases to probably make it up to the Supreme Court as a result, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, many hot topics she will have to deal with, obviously. All right, Poppy Harlow, thank you.


COLLINS: Shooting her, poisoning her, and even pushing her off a cliff, all ways some young girls in Washington State fantasized about killing a classmate in a video that landed online. That's the cyber bullying story in the news right now, one of many more reported and unreported, too.

Our next guest is an expert on cyber bullying who says that in cyberspace, your kid may need a different approach to stop bullies. Barbara Coloroso is the author of "The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander." She's joining us now live from Denver to talk a little bit more about this.

Thanks so much for being with us, Barbara. I guess the first thing we should talk about are some of the signs that you may notice that your child is being bullied.

BARBARA COLOROSO, AUTHOR, "THE BULLY, THE BULLIED, AND THE BYSTANDER": Well, it often happens first in the classroom setting, and then it proceeds to the Internet because the classroom setting is the cyber -- the setting for the social interaction first. So, your child may be sad and sullen, get stomachaches, headaches, not want to go to school and has always wanted to go to school. Grades may drop precipitously.

Then also, if you notice she's on the cell phone and then hangs up and is very sad and sullen, that's a clue, or is on the Internet and then storms up to her bedroom, that's a clue. So, watch for those kinds of behaviors.

But also let your kid know, even more importantly than those signs, that she or he can tell you that they've been targeted. Because many young people are afraid that if I tell mom or dad, that you're going to take my cell phone away, or you're going to take my Internet privileges away, so they hide it and just let it eat them up inside.


COLOROSO: So, we have to let them know it's safe to tell us, and then teach them some basic Internet safety tools. And I use stop, copy, block and tell.


COLOROSO: Stop. Don't respond back to the bully. That's exactly what the bully wants you to do because the target will often respond in an angry tone. The bully then deletes what he or she says and hands to the administration at the school the angry response back. And then the kid is blamed for instigating this.


COLOROSO: Copy it. It may not be there. That video may be removed from YouTube, and then your child won't be believed. So often, targeted kids don't feel like they are believed. Well, they did this to me in the lunchroom, or they did this to me in the washroom or on the playground. Kids do it under the radar of adults, so on the Internet, I want them to copy it. There's also a trail at the bottom that can help adults find out who actually initiated this.

COLLINS: Yes. No question.

COLOROSO: Block it.


COLOROSO: Block it, and then tell a caring adult. And that caring adult needs to be at this point not only parents but our schools. Our school administration and teachers need to realize that even if it doesn't take place on school property or during school time, when that young girl goes back to school having been targeted on YouTube, it's going to affect the way she relates to others and the way they relate to her. So, we have an obligation...

COLLINS: Yes, but I think that's a really big question, is it not, and even specifically in the case that has been making news here, is whose responsibility is it? I mean, we can always say parents, you know, need to really watch what their children are doing when they're online, when they're on their cell phones. When they're texting, whatever it is that they're doing, they need to watch.

But if some of the behavior is happening at school, I don't know, in the computer lab or otherwise, it seems like it kind of becomes a question of jurisdiction.

COLOROSO: Well, even if that occurred out of school and not on school time, it still impacts a young person who has been targeted by those other kids because it's often his or her own peers that then show up in school and mock them, laugh at them or say to all the other kids, watch what we did.

And this young person becomes even more isolated and alone, and then they're subjected to even more targeting. So, we as school personnel, and I'm a former school teacher, need to let kids though that, number one, every kid in this school needs to not only be safe but feel safe.

COLLINS: Exactly.

COLOROSO: And we have to do everything we can do to make sure that bullies are held accountable for their actions, and any of their little henchmen that go along with or their active supporters who then pass that video on are all part of the problem.


COLOROSO: And we have to hold them accountable.

COLLINS: Yes, we do. All right, Barbara Coloroso, we sure do appreciate it. And the book once again, "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander." Appreciate your help today. Thank you.

COLOROSO: Thank you, Heidi.

COLLINS: We also want to know what you think. The parents or the schools, who should monitor kids online, and who needs to stop cyber bullies. Just go to, click on my name and then post your comments.

COLLINS; O.J. Simpson wants his convictions for armed robbery and kidnapping overturned. He has filed an appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court. Simpson was sentenced in December to up to 33 years in prison.

The case involved a Las Vegas hotel room confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers. The former football star says he did not get a fair trial. Simpson cites judicial misconduct, including a lack of racial diversity on the jury.

The ruling handed down, but the battle far from over. Same-sex marriage supporters taking the fight over California's Proposition 8 to another level today.


COLLINS: President Obama spending the day out west. At 2:00 p.m. Eastern in Nevada, he'll tour the solar power facility at Nellis Air Force Base. Shortly after, the president will talk up energy investments in his recovery package. And then it's off to Los Angeles for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser that will happen this evening.

Before flying off into the world today, graduating cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy will be hearing a few choice words from Joe Biden. The vice president is serving as commencement speaker this year in Colorado Springs. COLLINS: Opponents of California's Proposition 8 are taking it to the federal level. Today, attorneys are announcing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming the ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. This after the state Supreme Court upheld Prop 8 yesterday.

But as Casey Wian reports now, the decision did little to quiet the debate.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The California Supreme Court's ruling to uphold a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, yet allow 18,000 existing gay marriages to stand, is unlikely to settle what's become a bitter dispute. Ruling 6-1, justices indicated they were conflicted by the issue.

"Regardless of our views as individuals on this question of policy, we recognize as judges and as a court our responsibility to confine our consideration to a determination of the constitutional validity and legal effect of the measure in question." In a 185-page opinion, they ruled that Proposition 8, approved by voters in November by a 4-point margin, does not undo the domestic partnership rights of same-sex couples, it only impacts the officially sanctioned designation of the term marriage. The decision to allow existing gay marriages to stand was unanimous but of little comfort to anti- Proposition 8 activists gathered outside the court.

KATHLEEN WHITE, GAY RIGHTS SUPPORTER: It's nice that my marriage is still intact, but that's not the point. The point is that everybody should have the same civil rights across the board.

WIAN: Proposition 8 supporters said in a statement, "We are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has acknowledged the right of voters to define marriage in the California Constitution. The voters have decided this issue, and their views should be respected."

KAREEM CRAYTON, PROFESSOR, USC LAW SCHOOL: This is one of the sort of quirky and sometimes messy things about our democracy. Sometimes in this state, the public gets a different view than the state legislators or perhaps even the state Supreme Court does.

WIAN: Proposition 8 is part of the long California tradition of tinkering with the state's constitution, which covers minutiae such as gasoline tax revenue, public housing and even what type of nets commercial fishermen can use. The United States Constitution has been amended 27 times, or about once every eight years. Californians have changed theirs more than 500 times, or about four times a year.

(voice-over): It's expected that same-sex marriage supporters will bring the issue back to voters in one of the next two state elections. They believe public sentiment has shifted in their favor in recent months.

Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


COLLINS: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be live online at with our Nicole Lapin. He'll answer your questions about Prop 8 and other issues, too. That's at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m. Pacific.

Recently we have seen some signs the economy is stabilizing. Consumer confidence is up, the stock market has been rallying, and now a group of economists is going one step further, predicting the recession could end this year.

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with more details on that. Yes, do tell. We like the sound of that.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do like the sound of it, and especially because it's from the nation's leading economists, Heidi, the National Association of Business Economics. Seventy-four percent of them surveyed say the recession will end in the third quarter. The third quarter isn't that far off. It begins in July after all.

Most pessimistic economists say the recession will end by the first quarter of next year. It's on par, by the way, with things that we've been hearing recently, chiefly from Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, but also "The Wall Street Journal" does regular surveys of economists. And they also said they believe that the recession will end, technically will end this year -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Well, the housing meltdown got us into this mess to begin with, so when do economists see that sector turning around?

LISOVICZ: Well, also they see the light at the end of the tunnel there, that it will bottom by midyear, this year. So, just within a few months.

And, you know, we're starting to see signs of life there. I mean, just at the top of the hour, Heidi, existing home sales, the biggest part of the housing market, rose nearly 3 percent in April compared to March. It was slightly better than expected.

Now, remember, 45 percent of those sales were foreclosure properties or short sales. So that will keep prices down, and prices are down about 15 percent from a year ago. The median sale price in April, $172,000. Median means half of the sales above that, half of them below that. 172 grand. It's a buyer's market right now.

COLLINS: No question about it. Recovery though, isn't going to happen overnight. I mean, we've been saying that for a while. It's a slow, painful process.

LISOVICZ: The end is in sight but recovery may not feel that way. It's going to be very slow.

One of the reasons why so many of us learned some very painful lessons. This is a consumer-led recession. This isn't led by business, it was led by us. And, you know, that the lessons from this are going to be lasting. In fact, NABE, the association of economists, I mentioned, say at least for the next five years more thrifty behavior, we're going to be practicing that.

What we're seeing on Wall Street today, yes, kind of thrifty behavior after the big buying binge yesterday, Heidi. The Dow is off by just 25 points after its nearly 200 point surge, yesterday. The Nasdaq is doing better, it's up three-quarters of a percent -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Well, we're watching the numbers closely.

Thank you, Susan.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

COLLINS: We'll check back later on.

Meanwhile, we wanted your opinion on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Great comments from both sides.

Our Josh Levs is taking a look at your responses to our blog.


COLLINS: Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich -- remember that name? Well, a federal judge has agreed to release to a Senate committee recordings of secretly taped conversations between Senator Roland Burris and Blagojevich's brother. The Ethics Committee is investigating Burris's appointment and seating. The conversations were taped in November, about a month before Blagojevich appointed Burris to fill the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

During the taped conversation, Burris offers to cut a check to the governor's campaign. Before leaving on a home state tour this morning, Burris reiterated he did not take part in a pay for play scheme.


SENATOR ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS: I didn't give him any money, and I did not raise any money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why didn't you reveal these conversations...

BURRIS: Because nobody was asked. It was never asked.


COLLINS: Burris told reporters he had been planning to give $1,000 before he changed his mind.

Now, back to President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. Everybody seems to be talking about how Sonia Sotomayor will bring more ethnic diversity to the court. But when it comes to religion the picture is quite different. Our Josh Levs is here now with that.

Hey, there Josh.


It's an interesting slice of the picture, you know? Yesterday, especially. So much talk about that diversity. But she would actually would help bring a shift to the court. You can see our headline right here -- Sotomayor would be part of the court's Catholic shift. And this would be historic.

Let's do this. I want to get straight to the graphic because I want to show you all the makeup of America and the makeup of the court. So, this is what you have in the court. If she is confirmed, there will be six Catholic justices on the Supreme Court, one Protestant, and there are two Jewish justices, currently. She would be the sixth Catholic.

Now, let's take a look at the next screen, which shows you what America is like. So, this country is just over half Protestant, 51 percent Protestant. It's about quarter Catholic, 1.7 percent Jewish. So, you are seeing you know, up against this background a very different makeup of the court when you happen to look at religion. You might see it as trivial, you might see it as relevant. Either way, it's interesting to see the difference there, Heidi, between the makeup of the country and what this court would be if she's confirmed.

COLLINS: Yes, a difference between the make-up of the country and the Supreme Court. But, adding to the Catholic number there, if you will, wouldn't be too much of a shift. It was already heavily Catholic.

LEVS: It was heavily Catholic. And what's really interesting is that historically if you look, white Protestant men throughout the history of the Supreme Court and America, really dominated what the court was.

It has been shifting more toward Catholic in recent years. It's technically majority Catholic now. And obviously it being Catholic doesn't mean equally religious, or attending church as much, but identifying by that religion. That's where they stand.

COLLINS: Yes. And real quickly, we've been asking people to write in about what they thought about this choice of Sonia Sotomayor.

And we got a lot of responses, right?

LEVS: We did, yes. We got a couple hundred. Let's zoom in, actually. I'll show you a few of them right here. -- click on Heidi.

This is interesting. Justin writes us: "New Yorkers knew nothing about America. They live in their own world." Jeanne (ph) down here says, "I believe President Obama has foresight and his decisions are not made lightly." She feels really good about this.

Jim, "Incredibly inspirational. Today the American Dream has been reborn."

And what about this one, from I believe it's Sergei who says, "Look I'm glad Supreme Court will the diversity it did not have before. This is good. What I don't know is her stance on gun control, gay rights, the patriot act, men's right, for that matter and a whole score of other issues. Who knows."

Kind of a reminder there, most Americans have a lot left to learn about her. And of course, at CNN, we're doing our best to bring you all that -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Absolutely.

All right. Josh Levs, appreciate it, thanks.

LEVS: Thanks, Heidi.

COLLINS: A picture perfect launch this morning, for three new crew members, headed for the International Space Station. Look at this. The Russian (INAUDIBLE) blasted off from the launch pad in Kazakhstan. It's carrying Canadian, Russian and Belgian crew members to the stations. They will join the three members on board. It will be the first time the station has six permanent crew members.

I'm Heidi Collins. One major automaker in bankruptcy court this morning. Another trying to avoid the same fates. Our Money Team with a closer look at what it all means for you.

The economy, issue number one when CNN NEWSROOM continues with Tony Harris.