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American Morning

Immigration Battle; New England Flooding; Rumbling Volcano

Aired May 16, 2006 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Happy Tuesday. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Here's a look at what's happening on this Tuesday, May 16.

Flooding just getting worse across parts of New England. The National Weather Service says more than a foot of rain has fallen since Friday. Another inch and a half expected today. Thousands now forced from their homes. Rivers reaching levels not seen in 70 years.

There's a new wildfire in central Florida this morning. It's just five miles from another brushfire that forced about 1,000 residents from their homes last week. A five-mile stretch of Interstate 95 between Edgewater and New Smyrna Beach will remain closed indefinitely.

S. O'BRIEN: An overnight verdict in Russia to tell you about, the only alleged hostage-taker ever captured after the Beslan School Massacre has been found guilty of terrorism. More than 300 people died during that three-day siege that happened back in September 2004.

Saddam Hussein's trial once again under way in Baghdad, he's not there, though. He and four other defendants never showed up for today's session. Defense witnesses are taking the stand anyway.

A new study out this morning shows that one in five teenagers has tried prescription painkillers to get high. Good news in the study, though, teenagers are smoking and drinking less, those numbers on the decline -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Phone giant BellSouth insisting this morning it is not giving government spies our phone records. "USA Today" reported Thursday BellSouth, AT&T and Verizon were helping the super secret National Security Agency build a huge database of Americans' calling records.

In Houston, the Enron trial is wrapping up. Closing arguments today. Enron founder Ken Lay and former CEO Jeff Skilling both accused of fraud and conspiracy. The jury likely to begin deliberations tomorrow.

Let's get our first look at the forecast.

Jacqui Jeras in for Chad, once again, this morning.

Hello, -- Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hello, Miles. Hello, everybody.


Back to you guys.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, Jacqui.

First reactions mixed this morning to President Bush's ideas for immigration reform. Among the plans, putting National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border. In a poll done by CNN -- by, rather, Opinion Research Corporation, only 42 percent of those watching had a positive opinion of the president's immigration policies before last night's speech. After the speech, 67 percent said they had a positive opinion.

Ed Henry live at the White House for us this morning.

Hey, Ed, good morning.


A delicate balancing act for this president, he is trying to convince conservatives that, in this speech, that he shares their goal of increasing border security, hoping that they then will come along and support his guest worker program that they have not been on board for.

And while that snapshot CNN poll there suggested the broader public liked this speech, the speech really wasn't aimed at the broader public. Aimed at that narrow group of conservatives who hold the key as to whether or not this president can forge a compromise on an immigration reform bill on Capitol Hill. And so far there's no sign those conservatives are coming along.

The boldest step in the president's plan laid out last night was calling for the deployment of nearly 6,000 National Guard troops to crack down on illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In the official Democratic response, Senator Dick Durbin charged that the National Guard is already stretched too thin by the war in Iraq. And he also issued a challenge of his own to the president. Take a listen to the back and forth.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is important for Americans to know that we have enough Guard forces to win the war on terror, to respond to natural disasters and to help secure our border.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: The president has the power to call up the National Guard to patrol our border, but now he must summon the power to lead his own Republican forces in Congress to support a biprint (ph) bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform.


HENRY: Now the president did try to coax fellow conservatives to the middle by basically saying that we can be a lawful society and tighten the border but also be a welcoming society and have his guest worker program, some sort of a path to citizenship for the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants already here in this country. That's a very tough sell to conservatives, especially in an election year -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about what some people call amnesty, other people call a path to citizenship. What did the president say about that last night?

HENRY: Well the president insisted again last night that his plan is not amnesty. A lot of critics of the plan immediately said yes, it is. We're basically not -- we're at a stalemate on that. We're going to continue to have that back and forth, both sides, really no sign of an agreement. The president is going to try on Thursday to go to one of the border states and make yet another pitch for this plan. But right now, there's still a stalemate -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: So this morning I'm sure, at the White House, they're just sort of watching and waiting to see the fallout. When do you think he is going to address the issue again, maybe tone the message?

HENRY: Later in the week.

S. O'BRIEN: Later this week.

HENRY: Yes, I think it's really going to be later this week. The president today will be welcoming in the Australian Prime Minister Howard here to the White House, dealing with the war on terror. The key ally, obviously, in the war on terror. Immigration another hot issue, but he's not going to hit it right away. They're going to let this settle for a couple of days, go to a border state on Thursday and try to hit it yet again -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ed Henry for us this morning.

Ed, thanks.

Coming up in our next hour, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is our guest. We're going to ask him just how the president's plans will affect homeland security.

Let's talk more now about the National Guard protecting the border. Is it going to work, that idea?

Well Carol Costello is in the newsroom for a look this morning. Hey, Carol, good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Morning, Soledad. Good morning to all of you.

You know it's interesting to read some of the editorials this morning. "USA Today" saying President Bush outlined an appealing blueprint. But "The New York Times" blasted the president, calling his plan to deploy the National Guard a victory for the fear-stricken fringe of the debate. So, what is it and will it work?


BUSH: Good evening.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush wants more boots on the U.S.-Mexican border. His plan would send up to 6,000 National Guardsmen to serve in support roles along the roughly 2,000-mile divide.

ROBERT BONNER, FMR. U.S. CUSTOMS CHIEF: I think they will have a real impact in cutting off the and choking off the flow of illegal migration that we're seeing across the Mexican border.

COSTELLO: Up until last year, Robert Bonner was the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a position he held since its creation in 2003.

BONNER: There are Border Patrol agents right now that are not involved in apprehensions because they're involved in essentially surveillance and the detection of people crossing the border. The National Guard can replace those Border Patrol agents, freeing up those Border Patrol agents to make arrests and apprehensions.

COSTELLO: But where would those National Guard troops come from?

GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think they can do this and they'll do it with volunteers and short tours of duty and then longer-term volunteers as they become available.

COSTELLO: CNN military analyst Ret. Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd says the guardsmen he has spoken to are not concerned about being stretched too thin. He says the troops would rotate through the four border states and fall under the command of the governor of the state they're in.

SHEPPERD: This is something that Guard troops do all the time, they assist law enforcement and state agencies.

COSTELLO: Still, there were problems during Hurricane Katrina, and that has some worried.

DAN RESTREPO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You're going to have folks under different chains of command. And as we have seen in the response to Hurricane Katrina and elsewhere, multiple chains of command can get very confusing for the troops on the ground. COSTELLO: Dan Restrepo is a former Democratic staffer with the House International Relations Committee. He's now a Senior Policy Adviser with the Center for American Progress.

RESTREPO: It seems that the National Guard, unfortunately, are being deployed to protect the president's politics as much as they are to protect the border. The president is talking about this as a temporary measure. And perhaps temporary in White House parlance means Wednesday, November 8 of this year.

COSTELLO: Robert Bonner disagrees.

BONNER: The president, this administration is serious about getting control of our border, and this is a reflection of the emphasis that he is placing on that issue.

COSTELLO: The president wants to make an initial commitment of a year and then slim down the number of troops as the number of border agents rise. Bonner and others say if the plan goes into effect expect the guardsmen to stay at least a couple of years.


Of course there are more down-to-earth questions. The Guard will be deployed temporarily, as I said, to free up Border Patrol agents to make arrests. But how will we pay for that? How will we pay for other parts of the president's plan? Electronic surveillance he talked about, high-tech fences, they all cost money and the president didn't mention how we were going to pay for any of it last night in his speech.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, we didn't hear it. Maybe we will as the days come.

Carol Costello in our newsroom this morning.

Carol, thanks -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: More than 1,500 people are out of their homes in New England and the rivers have not been this high in 70 years. Dams are near the breaking point, the weather offering no relief and the rivers haven't even crested yet. The heavy rains have caused some sewer systems to back up, spilling raw sewage into the streets.

AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian is in Methuen, Massachusetts. That's about 30 miles from Boston, right near the New Hampshire border.

Dan, how does it look there this morning?


Well, still a mess here in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and even the southern part of Maine. We're standing right along the Spigot River. It's about four feet above flood stage. So what they'll -- they've done is they have installed the sandbags here to contain its banks.

But the big concern, as you mentioned, continues to be the dams. This one is very old. And there's a fear that it will give way because of all the pressure behind it, so they've been watching it very closely. People downstream have been evacuated as the rain continues to fall.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Torrential rain turned calm waters into roaring rivers. A force of nature swamped buildings, bridges, roads and cars across northern New England.

In Exeter, New Hampshire, a crew with sandbags races against the clock.

SCOTT LEBAUDE, NEW HAMPSHIRE HIGHWAY DEPT.: We're keeping the water out of the park so it doesn't take the park with it.

LOTHIAN: In Manchester, New Hampshire, Gerard Fredette grabs his video camera to capture what he says is history in the making.

GERARD FREDETTE, MANCHESTER RESIDENT: This is the worst since 1936.

LOTHIAN: Back then, Fredette was just 7 years old. The spring storm lasted 13 days.

FREDETTE: The whole area was a disaster.

LOTHIAN: History has not exactly repeated itself, but that's no consolation for residents left pumping out flooded homes.

ASHLEY WOOD, STUDENT: A few of my other friends' houses have been flooded completely.

LOTHIAN: And counting the loss. Like Kim Reynolds, a nurse from Salem, Massachusetts.

KIM REYNOLDS, SALEM RESIDENT: We had about five feet of water in the backyard, which in turn went into our basement, and it was over our heads in the basement.

LOTHIAN: She captured the damage on her picture cell phone.

REYNOLDS: Our furnace is under water. Our hot water tank is under water. We have no heat. We have no hot water. We have no oil. And we're kind of like living by candlelight right now.

LOTHIAN: The National Guard has been activated in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Emergency supplies are being trucked in and shelters are meeting the needs of hundreds of displaced residents. Some communities are overwhelmed.

LT. JOHN O'LEARY, SALEM FIRE AND HAZMAT DEPT.: It's big trouble right now for everyone and we're trying to do the best we can to help everyone out.


LOTHIAN: Back live at the Spigot River Dam. Officials saying that even though there's a lot of pressure on this structure, for now they feel that the integrity is there, that it will hold, but they continue to watch it.

Now, Miles, as you mentioned earlier, one big concern is that so much sewage, millions of gallons of sewage has been spilled into rivers, waterways in various communities across New England. So, in addition to having to deal with all of the flooding, officials have to deal with trying to contain all the sewage, trying to stop it from flowing into the rivers -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Problems on top of problems in New England.

Dan Lothian in Methuen, thank you very much.

In Indonesia, growing tension there as they wonder when Mount Merapi might erupt. Right now the rumbling volcano is again raining ash and rock and debris down on nearby villages. Many people evacuated days ago, but some are staying put for now.

CNN's Stan Grant is in the shadow of the volcano in central Java, Indonesia.


STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The island of Java remains at code red, that is the highest alert signal, fearing that a full eruption of Mount Merapi, you can see behind me here, could happen at any moment.

Now the volcano has been active for weeks, spewing these clouds of -- hot clouds of gas and ash and rock into the atmosphere, also lava scouring the side of the mountain. They fear that if there is in fact a full eruption, it could reach speeds of hundreds of miles an hour and the lava getting to temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 500 degrees Celsius.

Now the people within the danger zone, that is a 10-kilometer radius of Mount Merapi, have largely been evacuated, some 4,500 of them. The few remaining stragglers now taking the option of getting out as well. Only a few hundred remaining behind, hoping that they -- this volcano does not fully erupt.

Now volcanologists are keeping a 24-hour watch on the mountain. They are checking for any activity. They say the activity has been increasing over the past couple of days. As for the locals, they're looking on at this mountain, a mountain they consider a sacred mountain, one they make sacrificial and ceremonial offerings to, and hoping for the best, at the same time, fearing the worst.

Stan Grant, CNN, Java, Indonesia.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, much more on the president's big immigration speech last night. We're going to tell you why some Republicans in the nation's heartland are unhappy with what they heard.

M. O'BRIEN: Also, new information on that massive government database of our phone records. We'll tell you which phone company now says it never handed over any records to the spies.

S. O'BRIEN: And later, do you ever wonder why you dream about certain things? Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores how the brain decides what to dream about each night.

First, though, a look at some of the other stories making news on this Tuesday morning.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Top stories this morning.

Reaction coming in to the president's address from the Oval Office on immigration reform. He wants the National Guard to help secure the Mexican border and a guest worker program for immigrants.

More rain expected across parts of the northeast today. Severe flooding has forced hundreds of people out of their homes.

Residents along Florida's East Coast can return home this morning. Brushfires south of Daytona Beach consumed 800 acres of forests. Not threatening any homes at this point, at least.

M. O'BRIEN: This just in to CNN. The pope, Pope Benedict, has just announced he has accepted the resignation of the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He is 75 years old and that is considered to be retirement age. Once again, the pope accepting the resignation of Cardinal McCarrick. As we get some more details on this, we'll bring them to you.

Meantime, Carrie Lee has dropped by.

Good morning, -- Carrie.


We're talking about the call records that have been, some say, taken from big phone companies. Well this comes from a "USA Today" report last week. Now BellSouth is saying it did not give call records to the National Security Agency. And says it has no evidence it was even contacted.

Now BellSouth says it conducted a thorough review and is confident that it has not turned over phone records. This comes from a "USA Today" report last week that said the southeastern phone giant and other phone companies, including AT&T and Verizon, had given the NSA millions of phone records so that it could detect calling patterns. So that is the latest there.

Also, Honda reportedly plans to build a new plant in North America. It would be Honda's sixth such plant in the U.S. And the exact location hasn't been decided, but it is reportedly slated to open in 2009.

Honda sold nearly 1.7 million vehicles in North America last year. Expects that to increase this year by about 10 percent. And they only have the capacity to build 1.4 million, so they have to import the rest of the vehicles for sale here in North America. So a rather enviable position when you compare it to the U.S. auto giants.

Finally, a mixed day for stocks yesterday. Some late-day buying on the Dow put the industrials up 48 points at the close. Nasdaq still lower by about five points. And this morning, it looks like a slightly weak start once again on Wall Street. A lot of people continue to be concerned about interest rates.

Miles and Soledad, a key report on wholesale inflation could give the session a little bit of direction today. You know everyone is watching inflation, so wholesale prices a pretty key reading on that measure.

S. O'BRIEN: When does that come out, that report?

LEE: That comes out an hour before trading gets under way. So looking slightly weak now. Depending on what the numbers say, that could potentially change things a little bit.


LEE: All right.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Carrie, we'll watch that.

LEE: Sure.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Carrie, question for you, where's the loneliest place on the planet?

LEE: The loneliest place on the planet, I would say Antarctica.

M. O'BRIEN: Antarctica, that's good. South Pole, desert island, would you think?

S. O'BRIEN: Maybe.

M. O'BRIEN: Not so.

S. O'BRIEN: Really.

M. O'BRIEN: It's on the Emerald Isle. We'll explain in just a moment on that.

Plus, the bar bouncer turned big brother. There's a new high- tech way to keep rowdy drinkers out of bars. We'll tell you why some folks say it's an invasion of privacy.

Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: Popular stories on the Web site,

NASA says last year's collision in orbit, the result of a robotic spacecraft mixing up forward and reverse. The DART spacecraft, seen here during launch, was supposed to rendezvous with a defunct military satellite to prove that it could be done without human intervention. Well, maybe it was a victory for the humans. We need humans. That's good.

Another smashup, this one on land, the latest chapter in the most famous Ferrari crash we can remember. The man accused of crashing that rare Ferrari at 162 miles an hour arraigned Monday. Bo Stefan Eriksson will face more charges, including grand theft later this month.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, the insurance company not so...

M. O'BRIEN: Not so happy.


M. O'BRIEN: We still can't figure out how he got away with a cut lip in 162-mile-an-hour crash.

S. O'BRIEN: In a big crash like that, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: There's just so many questions.

And Irish eyes are not smiling. They're apparently lonely. The Internet site Google Trends worked out how many searches have been done using the word lonely. Internet users in -- drum roll please -- Dublin, Ireland came out on top or on bottom, whichever you prefer on that one. The loneliest people on the planet are in Dublin, although that doesn't appear to be Dublin there. That appears to be some Irish countryside for us.

S. O'BRIEN: The countryside.

M. O'BRIEN: Maybe...

S. O'BRIEN: Maybe if they moved out to the countryside, less lonely.

M. O'BRIEN: That's right, it's nicer out here. There's lot of sheep and plenty of Guinness. That's all you need, right?

S. O'BRIEN: Sheep. We're talking this morning, we're continuing a really interesting series about "30 40 50." And this morning, we're talking about careers. If you want to change careers, if you thought about changing careers.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I was just thinking about that just a moment ago.

S. O'BRIEN: If you thought about quitting your job. If you have thought about reentering the work force, then you want to stay with us. We're beginning at 9:00 this morning talking about careers.

M. O'BRIEN: We're going to do this age specific, 30s, 40s and 50s, as we did yesterday. That's the theme all this week. So we're going to give specific advice for you, depending on what stage you're at. We're going to talk to a life coach, which is the new thing to get, right?

S. O'BRIEN: Have a balance work and life.

M. O'BRIEN: You've got to have a life coach.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: And a recruiter. And...

S. O'BRIEN: How to ace the job interview.

M. O'BRIEN: And what if you hate your job, your boss, you just generally have...

S. O'BRIEN: Really? Anything you want to share with us?

M. O'BRIEN: A general state of on woui (ph). If you're kind of like...

S. O'BRIEN: You're ready to move on.

M. O'BRIEN: ... a lonely Dublinite.

S. O'BRIEN: How many times do you think people change careers in their lives, change jobs?

M. O'BRIEN: I don't know the answer to that, do you?

S. O'BRIEN: I do, that's why I was asking.

M. O'BRIEN: What is it? Six. Six times.

S. O'BRIEN: Three.

M. O'BRIEN: Three times.

S. O'BRIEN: Three times.

M. O'BRIEN: Three times. S. O'BRIEN: Change careers three times.

M. O'BRIEN: So if you have questions about what you should do, how you should get a raise, how you should get a new job, all those kinds of things,...

S. O'BRIEN: There you go, there's the numbers.

M. O'BRIEN: ... we invite you to participate. It's kind of a two-way street this segment. So there's the number, 877-AM6-1300. That's 266-1300. Don't call that for a few hours. And then you can e-mail us anytime,

S. O'BRIEN: Looking forward to it. Should be a great hour this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: It should be.

Maybe one of the reasons you are unhappy in your job is you don't like your digs. The Dilbertization of the office has left a lot of us...

S. O'BRIEN: The cube.

M. O'BRIEN: ... looking for some space and privacy. There may be a solution in the future.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, 5:00 I'm ready to run out the door screaming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The current work environment is probably not very efficient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some workspaces can be sort of cramped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a cubical. They tend to have less privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Phone calls are like hurdles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The future office might have more technology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A relaxation room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lighting actually plays a huge key into an office space.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just want to be more relaxed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are there most of your day, it really matters.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): A noisy newsroom, glaring studio lights, a guy in a tie yammering over your shoulder. If you had the chance, you probably could come up with some pet peeves about your workspace as well. So if life in your cube seems as grim as a Dilbert cartoon, we have some new ideas for you to consider.

(voice-over): When it comes to office space, Steelcase designer James Ludwig is thinking out of the cube. He's trying some new shapes and sizes in office design.

JAMES LUDWIG, STEELCASE, INC.: It's about bringing architecture, furniture and technology together in new ways to make their people more effective.

O'BRIEN: For noise control, how about a real life cone of silence, ala "Get Smart."

DON ADAMS, "GET SMART": Something is wrong with the cone of silence.

O'BRIEN: Step into the cell cell.

LUDWIG: Industrial felt is a sound absorbent material. And the ambient lighting is created by LED, which also brightens when the space is occupied.

O'BRIEN: You need to collaborate with a co-worker, have a seat in the digital yert. Its hard outer shell reflects outside noise. The felt-lined walls inside keep conversations private.

LUDWIG: When two people come together, decisions are made more quickly, they tend to be smarter and they tend to have deeper impact, innovation flows more quickly through a network.