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American Morning

Clinton Strategist Out; Paris Protest Olympic Torch Relay; Earnings Roll Out This Week; Bloggers at Risk

Aired April 07, 2008 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And the airline problems we all are facing.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'll tell you waking up this Monday morning, and we got a third U.S. airline that's decided to throw in the towel because of problems, high price of fuel, et cetera, and gas prices at an all-time high. So we're going to talk all about that this morning. Glad you're with us on this Monday, by the way. And we have some breaking news.

Hundreds of protesters already gathering from across the Eiffel Tower as the Olympic Torch Relay hits Paris. Police already arresting one protester. That torch is expected to arrive at the Eiffel Tower in about half an hour.

This is new video just in to CNN. There you see police dragging away one protester. Yesterday, the torch endured a chaotic tour through London as protesters, at one point, tried to grab the torch and put out the flame. The demonstrations are largely against China's recent crackdown in Tibet.

Well, it's like losing your head coach right before the gold medal game. Developing inside politics this morning. Hillary Clinton's top campaign strategist is out. Mark Penn stepping down after it came out that he met with members of the Colombian government, about a trade treaty that Senator Clinton is against. Penn met with the Colombians in his role as CEO of a public relations firm just a week ago.

John Harris is editor-in-chief at "Politico" and the author of "The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House" and he joins us from Washington this morning. Thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: Mark Penn, for those who may not necessarily be familiar with him, he's been with the Clintons for quite a long time, considered a good friend of the president as well. And you wrote about him in your book. Who is he as he relates to the Clinton campaign?

HARRIS: Well, he has been the chief strategist, not just for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. For her 2000 Senate campaign, he was the chief strategist after the consultant, Dick Morris, left for Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election. As your co-anchor, John Roberts, knows from our days covering the Clinton White House, Mark Penn has been the most important political adviser for the Clinton family for the past 12 years.

CHETRY: And tell us what he did though. He took this meeting. He met over this Colombian trade deal, and this was in a different role with Burson-Marsteller...

HARRIS: Right.

CHETRY: ... which is a huge PR firm that he's in.

HARRIS: That's right. It's also only one of the -- he's the chief executive officer of one of the country's -- really one of the world's largest PR firms. He met with the Colombian government about their efforts to get a trade pact with the United States. This really goes quite against message since Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are on the record opposed to this pact so it really undercut her message.

I would say this was really just the straw that broke the back, though. Mark Penn has been a divisive and unpopular figure within the Clinton campaign, so there's a lot of Clinton aides who are really cheering his departure.

CHETRY: Senator Clinton, as you said, when it goes off message, she's, of course, trying to rally working class votes, working class voters in Pennsylvania. The next big primary coming up in just two weeks right now. Many, many people in Pennsylvania that are going to be voting would be opposed to something like this Colombian trade deal. How is this going to play for Hillary Clinton?

HARRIS: Well, I think that's why she had to act quickly. She needs every last vote, particularly the working class voters that you refer to. So anything that undercut that message or made it look like her positions are really just political calculation but not actually what she would do once in office would be very, very damaging. I think that's why you saw Hillary Clinton who's been very loyal to Mark Penn, Bill Clinton who had been very loyal to Mark Penn say look, this goes too far, we've got to cut the cord.

CHETRY: I know you talked about him being a very divisive figure and perhaps some of the campaign being happy. But how much will this affect her message? Does this throw anything in disarray with somebody who led this campaign and somebody who has a major voice in it to be gone now?

HARRIS: No, I don't think it does. The largest strategy of this campaign has been set long ago. It's really too late to use the head coach analogy. This is like the fourth quarter. You can't come up with a whole new set of plays and a whole new strategy for the game. Mark Penn's influence will certainly continue.

CHETRY: Yes. And he is staying on, actually. They're still using data from his polling firm as I understand it.

HARRIS: Right.

CHETRY: John Harris, editor-in-chief of "Politico." Thanks for being with us. HARRIS: Thanks so much.

CHETRY: Well, two weeks to go before the Pennsylvania primary and Barack Obama is narrowing the gap on Hillary Clinton in the Keystone State. In a new CNN poll of polls, 49 percent of Democrats in Pennsylvania say they're voting for Clinton and 42 percent say they're voting for Barack Obama. In our latest poll of polls, Clinton was actually 11 points ahead of Obama. This is an average of the American Research Group as well as the Muhlenberg College and Quinnipiac polls.

ROBERTS: Well, President Bush is back at the White House this morning with aides putting a positive spin on his summit with outgoing president -- Russian President Vladimir Putin. Administration officials made four trips to the press cab aboard Air Force One in the way back in an attempt to convince reporters that the weekend meeting between the two leaders was a success and that President Bush got the agreement that he was looking for on his missile defense program. Putin, though, made it quite clear that he still objects to U.S. plans to build that system in Europe.

In Iraq, meantime, U.S. and Iraqi troops are battling Shiite militants in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood. Three U.S. soldiers were killed on Sunday in two rocket attacks, one inside the heavily fortified Green Zone. The president will address the nation Thursday on the Iraq war following Congressional testimony by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. He is expected to announce that while troop reductions will likely pause after the surge forces are removed, deployments will be reduced from 15 back to 12 months.

A CNN exclusive for you this morning. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki issuing an ultimatum to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al- Sadr, as American and Iraqi troops try to gain control of areas used by militants to launch rockets and mortars into the Green Zone.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now live from Baghdad with more on his one-on-one with al-Maliki. Good morning, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. We know, we've watched over the last two weeks as the prime minister here, Nuri al-Maliki, has tried to take on some of the Shia militia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, the Mahdi militia. He has stood and fro (ph) here. He has come to a ground, to a halt of the offensive, agreed to a cease-fire step back. But now, he seems to have political, broad political support here in Iraq and is essentially opening up a new front in the war here and laying down an ultimatum to Muqtada al-Sadr. Get rid of your militia or get out of politics.


NURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQ PRIME MINISTER: A decision was taken Saturday that they no longer have the right to participate in the political process or take part in the upcoming elections unless they end the Mahdi army. The announced decision agreed upon by the political powers today and this is the first time the political powers dare say this. The solution comes from the solution, which means solving the problem comes in no other way other than dissolving the Mahdi army.


ROBERTSON: We've been watching over the last few days here in Baghdad that that Shia neighborhood, two million people, more than two million people in Sadr City. We were there over the weekend, watching that fight. It is corner by corner, bloody street fights, gun battles going on there right now, John.

ROBERTS: Nic, it sounds like something's going on behind you right now as well. What's happening there?

ROBERTSON: Well, what we know is going on, we're hearing aircraft flying overhead, jet aircraft flying overhead. That's the first time that these planes have been used over Baghdad recently. Hell fire missiles have been fired into Sadr City isolating targets with gunmen on roofs, rocket teams isolating them, firing on them when they are clearly visible and targeting them.

There have been casualties over the weekend. According to Iraqi police, 23 people killed in Sadr City in the last 24 hours in the fighting there. But this is going to be a very, very difficult and intense fight. That Sadr City is a militia, essentially a militia stronghold. There will be fighting there street by street, if the prime minister and I do say if the prime minister is able to carry out its threats here and disarm the Mahdi militia, John.

ROBERTS: While we hear those missiles being fired in the background there, Nic, everything is all right where you are?

ROBERTSON: John, there -- we are some distance here from Sadr City. I think the bang you heard in the background here not related to that ongoing operation a few miles away in Sadr City. Everything here is just fine.

ROBERTS: All right. Nic Roberston for us this morning. Nic, thanks very much -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Also new this morning, investigators were inside of the remote compound built by polygamous leader Warren Jeffs in El Dorado, Texas. Child Welfare workers say that they took more than 200 women and children from that compound after a four-day standoff with religious leaders. The massive investigation was launched after police received a call from a 16-year-old girl saying that she was being abused. They believe that that teen was actually married.

Right now, they're still looking for evidence. They don't know whether or not the girl is among those who were taken in this raid. They now have 18 other children legally in state custody. They say the children had either been harmed or were in imminent danger at the compound but did not provide any other detail. In November, Jeffs, Warren Jeffs, was convicted as an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year- old girl.

Well, if you're driving to work this morning, it's probably going to be sticker shock at the pump for you. Drivers waking up to record high gas prices. According to to the new numbers that are in from AAA this morning, $3.34 a gallon is now the average price for self-serve regular. Checking a CNN gas gauge, that's up 14 cents in the past month, and it's also up compared to last year's price of $2.76. That makes it up 58 cents a gallon year to year.

There is also a new airline quality report that's being released. It's actually due out in the next couple of hours, and the industry is expected to get a failing grade when it comes to on-time performance as well as baggage handling and customer service.

Now, according to this survey, passenger complaints are up 60 percent overall, with U.S. Airways as well as Comair reporting twice as many complaints as other airlines. Also in the news this morning, about airline Skybus, the latest low cost carrier now filing for bankruptcy, joining ATA and Aloha Airlines.

We sent AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho to New York's La Guardia Airport, and we're going to be checking in with her to get more details and to hear from the passengers and others at the airlines, coming up in just a few minutes.

ROBERTS: Hey, speaking of airlines, how about this? Regulators in the European Union just approved the use of mobile phones on flights in Europe.


CHETRY: That's right. When you're calling to find where your baggage is or register your complaints, you can do it right there on the flight.

ROBERTS: And Rumsfeld called it the old Europe.


ROBERTS: Well, hey, corporate earnings starting to come in now from the first quarter. What are we expecting to see?

VELSHI: Well, this is a big deal because even though many of you may not be investing in individual stocks, corporate earnings are -- it happens four times a year, quarterly earnings, and they are the report card for how your companies are doing.

Now, if you're invested in a 401k or an IRA, you can't expect it to grow if the companies that it's invested in aren't growing. Now, let me just tell you, we measured it across the S&P 500, 500 hundred major companies, last year in the first quarter, that's January to the end of March. Last year, in the first quarter, that's January until the end of March, last year the increase was 8.2 percent. This year we're expecting it to be down by about 9 percent.

So that's going to reflect in your own investments. We're going to kick it off today with Alcoa. That's usually how earning season starts. Alcoa is expected to be down over last year. We're also going to be looking later on to see how the banks are doing because that's sort of the important part of what we have been seeing lately. Now, what this means is that markets are going to be royaled over the next couple of weeks. As this earnings come in on a given day, if anything is surprising to the market, it's going to selloff. If anything is really good, it will be enthusiastic.

Friday, we had those very bad jobs number, as you recall, yet look at the way the Dow and the Nasdaq and the S&P ended the week. It was a very strong week and futures this morning are actually pointing to a strong open because of the fact that -- and we always discuss this, bad news means the Fed is likely going to cut rates again. We're three weeks away from another Fed move, a scheduled one, who know these days because they do things whenever they want.

April 29th is the day that we are expecting the Fed to cut rates again. Markets are hoping that will happen. Money will get cheaper, and everything will be just fine apparently.

ROBERTS: You know, I was having this argument with a friend of mine over the weekend, that the lower the dollar value goes, the better it is for our exports if we made anything.

VELSHI: That's right. And that's a very good point. We've got a lot of unemployed workers. We've got a lot of factories. But as I showed you on Friday, I showed you a map, only six states in the United States added manufacturing jobs in 2007, only six states. They are not coming back any time soon.

If the dollar is low for 10 years, then we'll start making stuff. We're not going to make bicycles. We're not going to make T-shirts and things like that. We're going to have to figure out what we can make with those workers in factories.

ROBERTS: Ali Velshi, thanks very much.


ROBERTS: See you again soon.

CHETRY: And still ahead, can blogging be bad for your health? There's a "New York Times" article suggesting that the stress and the schedule is actually taking its toll on online writers. Is it true? We're going to head the blogs to find out.

Also, we're following breaking news in Paris, the Olympic Torch Relay scheduled to start shortly and already hundreds of protesters are lined up near the Eiffel Tower. These are live pictures right now. You can see them. This is right outside of the Eiffel Tower. We're going to continue to follow this story.

What a mess in London with the anti-China protesters there, in some cases literally trying to grab the torch out of the hands of those who are carrying it. So will we see a repeat performance in France? Maybe. We're going to continue to follow this story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: And welcome back to the most "Most News in the Morning." Ron Marciano at our weather update desk tracking extreme weather in Florida this morning. Hey, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Kiran. They got hit hard over the weekend. A lot of heavy rain especially across south Florida, inches of it. Let's check it out in the radar scope.

Still raining this morning especially south and east of Miami, that will be over the water, but it's still raining in Miami and across the South Beach into the keys. The heaviest now is moving offshore. This is going to develop into a pretty decent storm, but it will stay up and over the Atlantic and it will begin to dry out here in the Miami area.

But look at some of these rainfall totals just yesterday. Winter Haven Florida, almost four inches of rain. Floridana Beach, 3.25, which is south of Melbourne, and Poinciana, Florida, just south of Orlando, 2.5, almost 2.5. Tallahassee and Tampa also getting into the mix.

All right. From the rain, we go to the snow. Here's the mountain, Salt Lake City and the Wasatch of Utah and some spots under a heavy snow warning and snow advisory extending into the northwest parts of Colorado. We're seeing snow beginning to form in places like Prague, Copper Mountain and Aspen this morning.

Let's head again to the Denver area, although it shouldn't be too much of an issue there. Once it ejects into the plains, though, it is the season for extreme severe weather and that's what we expect to see. The Storms Prediction Center is putting out a slight risk for seeing tornadoes, large hail and possibly some damaging winds right in the heart of Tornado Alley and this will shift off to the east over the Mississippi as we go through tomorrow. So we'll be watching this situation very carefully as it unfolds throughout the day. Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right, Rob. We'll be checking in with you for that. Thanks.

MARCIANO: You got it.

ROBERTS: Just two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, Hillary Clinton's top campaign strategist is out. Mark Penn stepped down on Sunday following news that he was talking about free trade agreement with Colombia that is not in his candidate's playbook.

Joining me now from Washington is Democratic strategist Steve McMahon. Steve, this is quite a bombshell. I mean, he worked for Hillary Clinton for eight years, helped engineer her 2000 campaign, has worked for the Clintons since the mid 1990s. What affect might this have on her campaign?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's difficult to say for sure what effect it has on her campaign. But for the moment, I think it doesn't really have any significant impact. Her message is pretty well set. I think as John pointed out a little bit earlier in your show, she's pursued a strategy that she's pretty much locked into at this point.

Her problem today is, fundamentally her challenge today I should say, is fundamentally the same as it was yesterday or last week. Barack Obama has a lead of 130 delegates. This is a race that's all about delegates, and she's got to figure out a way to get past him. And so far, it's proving very difficult to do.

ROBERTS: So campaign insiders are saying that, you know, they haven't been happy with Mark Penn for quite a while, that he's been a divisive character, a divisive figure, as John Harris also was alluding to. Is that just trying to deflect from what appears to be a clear clash of interests over this Colombian free trade deal or has the whole strategy from the top to the bottom have been problematic for a long time?

MCMAHON: Well, there are two rules in presidential politics. The first is, you don't want to become a distraction to your candidate. And the second is, if the campaign isn't going well, there is an urge to try something new. I think by having this meeting right now, Mark Penn became a distraction at a time when things weren't going well. So he proved the second rule by violating the first as well.

ROBERTS: What are you hearing about the reaction from the senator and the former president? I have read some accounts that say that they were furious that Penn took this meeting with the Colombian ambassador to the U.S.

MCMAHON: Yes, I'm sure that they were disappointed. I think they've been a little bit frustrated with the performance of the campaign so far. This is a campaign that six months ago most of us were saying, had been run perfectly, and she was about to be nominated.


MCMAHON: And the strategy that they've executed, which is a great general election strategy, hasn't worked as well in the primaries as I think the Clintons or the people around them would have hoped. So I think that obviously there's frustration, there's disappointment. He has, as you pointed out, been very close to the Clintons for a very long time and probably that makes the frustration greater.

ROBERTS: It's not that he's without any value to the campaign because they're going to keep him on as an outside consultant.

MCMAHON: He's a very capable and talented person. He obviously made a mistake in judgment which he has acknowledged and apologized for. And I think keeping him around indicates how important he is to them and how close he is personally, although moving him out of his chief strategy role also indicates how seriously the Clintons take this transgression. ROBERTS: So strategist, pundits, journalists all paying very close attention to what happened here, but what about the voters? Do they really care that Mark Penn is out and somebody else is going to be handling this and what kind of affect might it had there in Pennsylvania?

MCMAHON: Well, I think if this had become an issue, because obviously trade was a big issue in the Ohio primary, and the Clinton campaign took advantage of the fact that an Obama supporter had met with the Canadians and sort of minimized Obama's commitment to the NAFTA agreement. I think this is a situation where trade is a very important issue and because of that they didn't want it to get to voters.

I think right now, most voters don't know who Mark Penn is and frankly most of them don't care. They do care about trade issues and they care about the economy, and the fact that jobs are being shifted overseas and they want that to stop. I think this is a reaction to that political reality as much as anything.

ROBERTS: All right. Steve McMahon for us this morning. Steve, good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

MCMAHON: Thank you, John, take care.


CHETRY: Well, overworked, underpaid, stressed out to the max. A "New York Times" article suggesting that blogging could actually be pretty bad for your health. So we're going to hear what bloggers are saying about it this morning.

Also, first Farrah, now revelations that the medical records of the first lady of California may be also have been peeked at against rules of hospitals. Who's accused and what's being done about it?

We're also following breaking news in Paris. Protesters lining the route of the Olympic Torch Relay. Already some arrests this morning. The relay moments away from starting, and we're watching all of it live when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


ROBERTS: Slap in the face in your "Hot Shot" now. Look at that. A hockey puck right in the mask of Dallas Star goalie Mark Turco. It happened right after he stopped a shot, the star's 4-2 win over San Jose. It was one of his 32 saves on the day.

Wow, look at that. Just, you know, bounce it right off your face there.


CHETRY: Hey, you're not -- that's not necessarily --

ROBERTS: Anything to stop it from going in the net. CHETRY: Why -- you're supposed to conduct a save. But hey, if it happens that way...

ROBERTS: Yes, why not?

CHETRY: More power to you.

ROBERTS: Oh, remember -- who was that? Gerry Cheevers, right? Gerry Cheevers who used to put stitch marks on his mask saying that's where I would have gotten, you know, a cut and stitches if I wasn't wearing a face mask when the puck is in the face. So they get a lot.

CHETRY: When we were kids, we used to follow the Washington Capitals. And Rod Langway never wore a helmet, at least when we played. Do you guys remember that?

ROBERTS: Oh, that's just nuts.

CHETRY: So how do you play if you don't wear a helmet?

ROBERTS: It was -- Jacques Plante was the first one to wear a face mask, right? There you go. That shows the benefits to all those aspiring hockey players out there. Wear a face mask.

CHETRY: If you want to keep your seat.

ROBERTS: Exactly.

If you've got a "Hot Shot," send it to us. Head to our Web site, and follow the "Hot Shot" link.

Well, there is word of another security breach at the UCLA Medical Center. This time California's first lady, Maria Shriver, is one of nearly three dozen high-profile patients whose medical records were accessed. Hospital officials say the person responsible is the same "rogue employee" who gained access to the files of Farrah Fawcett. The hospital fired the employee last year. California's Health and Human Services Agency is now investigating. This also came up during Britney Spears high-profile stay at a hospital as well, when there were allegations that her medical records were also accessed.

Well, an article about the world of blogging by "The New York Times" writer, Matt Richel, this weekend has the blogosphere abuzz today. The story is called, "In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop."

Veronica De La Cruz is here with a look at whether bloggers agree with him about this. You know, he talked about the fact that, you know, you have to be expected to be up and running 24 hours a day, posting at all times. Is it really dangerous to their health?

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think the general consensus online this morning is that this article was absolutely ludicrous. I mean, the blogosphere is definitely not happy about this, the "New York Times" writing this article suggesting that some bloggers are so stressed out they are dropping dead and they call the world of blogging the new digital air sweat shop where writers get paid by the article instead of by the piece. And it stems from two ZDNet bloggers who died in the last few months, Russell Shaw and Mark Orchant. They're pictured in these photos from

Also, a third popular blogger from a different site, 41-year-old O'Mallick (ph) survived a heart attack. So like I was just saying, there's been outrage from the online community. Blogger Larry Dignan from ZDNet, who was actually interviewed for the article but never quoted in it says this. "The story was straight forward, three makes a trend journalism. Yes, blogging is stressful. Yes, it can be insane. But is it any worse than being a corporate lawyer?

And then blogger Mark O'Neill from Betterthantherapy,net says he is infuriated with the article and writes, "Suddenly with the untimely tragic death of two bloggers, we've suddenly got to write 'death by blogging' on death certificates? Come on, give me a break. And all the bloggers who agreed to the article were pretty hard to come by."

Ed Sutherland from writes this. "Just as there were laws, regulations and prohibitions against slave labor, we must enforce the same protections for the heart of blogging: it's writers." He then goes on to say the industry needs to get rid of the dangerous trend towards advances and bonuses and pay writers what their worth. Maybe then, they will get a good night's sleep.

So again, like I said, people kind of outraged with this article thinking that it's pretty ridiculous. But, you know, I can vouch for the long hours that these bloggers, you know, have. I was online last night trying to put this story together and I was talking to Mario Lavandera of PerezHilton (ph). The guy is online all the time. But like any other profession, if you want to be good at it, you know, you got to do the work.

ROBERTS: I got a friend who's a blogger for "The Huffington Post," and she'll sometimes e-mail me at 3:00 in the morning and then say she's going to bed and then e-mail me again at 7:00 in the morning.



ROBERTS: So people aren't getting a whole lot of sleep.

DE LA CRUZ: That's right.

CHETRY: And the very nature of you blog, someone responds and you respond back, you know, all the posts that come after you put in a blog entry. And so, I guess, you could see it.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes. But, you know, I mean -- I'm sorry, but how it is different from what we do? From what a doctor does? So --

CHETRY: Yes. DE LA CRUZ: New York doc's.

CHETRY: 24/7.

DE LA CRUZ: 24/7.

ROBERTS: We could add a little bit. That's the difference.

CHETRY: We'll ask Sanjay about it. We were enjoying our staycation, you know. All right, thanks, Veronica.

Coming up, we're going to be talking with one of the most well known bloggers Veronica just mentioned, and his name is Perez Hilton. He calls himself the queen of all media. He has a very popular celebrity blog. Does he agree that sometimes, you know, he's being worked to death? Well, we're going to find out, 8:30 Eastern time here on CNN.

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." Long lines, longer delays, more lost luggage and you're paying more for the inconvenience. How about that? A new report says that flyer frustration may be higher than ever.

And the Olympic Torch Relay set to start in France in just a few minutes. Hundreds of protesters, as you can see by this live pictures, gathered in front of the Eiffel Tower. We'll have the latest for you coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. And we're following the controversy surrounding the Olympics, the carrying of this torch throughout a lot of cities around the world. Paris, right now, is the city where there are several hundred protesters, who are very upset about China as it relates to Tibet, and they are making their presence known today.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And what you're seeing right here is live pictures from Paris, of the torch being carried down from the top of the Eiffel Tower down the stairs there. A little clearer shot early but it will come back out the bottom of the stairs here.

Protests have already started there in Paris as we said. Hundreds of people gathering here at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. At least one person has been arrested so far. The relay will continue on from here through the streets of Paris. And there's the torch coming out of the bottom of the stairs there at the Eiffel Tower.

The security there really is extraordinarily tight as the torch goes off there underneath the tower and on to the streets of Paris. And what they're trying to do there in Paris today is prevent a repeat of what we saw yesterday in London.

Let's take a quick look at that. As the torch was making its way through the streets of London, there are protesters broke through security, actually grabbed on to it before his hands were pried off and he was taken down to the ground and arrested. Another threw white powder to try to put out the flame. I believe it was actually a fire extinguisher. Thirty-seven people were arrested there in London yesterday.

Protesters are upset with China's crackdown in Tibet. They've been demonstrating against the torch at every stop of the relay so far. It makes its only stop in the United States on Wednesday. And that would be in San Francisco.

And, you know, it's interesting, Kiran, that the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, has actually come out and said he's very concerned about what's going on in Tibet and thinks that the Chinese should address it before the Games begin.

CHETRY: Right. And every stop, I mean, this is what we're seeing. And these are the images that are broadcast around the world. There are several of the protesters -- several hundred of them chanting "Save Tibet," holding up signs and this red flag. This red Tibetan flags. Police were asking them if they could fold them up, which, of course, they did not do. But you're talking about several hundred protesters.

And in Paris, several thousand police on hand, as you said, to make sure it's not a repeat of what we've seen in London. It was interesting there in one of the shots, you saw some of the French police actually rollerblading so they could keep up.

ROBERTS: Yes, I was going to say. Something you don't see very often. Police on roller blades there. Here in the United States, they'd be on segways, but there in Paris they're on roller blades. Makes them quite agile at getting both down the streets and probably to handle any protesters who get in their way. So, we'll keep following the progress of the Olympic flame today.

Meanwhile, fire crews are trying to stop a fire from racing through Virginia apartment complex. It broke out this morning in Chesapeake, that's south of Norfolk, after a driver lost control of a car that they were driving and plowed into a gas meter which ignited a gas line. So far, no reports of major injuries, but at least two apartments have been destroyed.

Also new this morning, fallout after the latest Clinton campaign casualty. Chief strategist Mark Penn stepped down after it came out that he met with members of the Colombian government about a trade treaty that Hillary Clinton opposes. Penn goes way back with the Clintons. He was a pollster for President Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign, and chief campaign adviser for Hillary Clinton's Senate run in 2000.


CHETRY: All are keeping their eyes on a Mississippi River this morning. The Army Corps of Engineers is watching that river in Louisiana as levels are higher than they've been in a decade. The river is expected to crest next week at 17 feet. The levees are designed to be able to contain at least 20 feet of water, but they've got engineers working seven days a week, 12-hour shifts to monitor that river, just in case. And our Rob Marciano is tracking the weather for us right now with more on what we can expect in the south as well as other parts of the country this morning.

Hey, Rob.


CHETRY: All right, Rob, thanks so much.

Well, this morning authorities still have not identified the 16- year-old girl who called them saying that she was abused at a polygamist compound in Eldorado, Texas.

Since authorities moved in on Thursday, more than 200 women and children have been taken from that compound. All of them are members of the secretive sect led by the self-described prophet Warren Jeffs.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has new details this morning.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From a distance, the dresses and hairstyles suggest these sect members are from another time. But the images don't fully capture the drama several hundred woman and children have endured.

EVA JO SESSION, CHURCH VOLUNTEER: They just were so fearful. And all they have learned that we were of the devil. All the outside world was of the devil.

LAVANDERA: Helen Pfluger and dozens of other Eldorado residents spent the last four days setting up a temporary shelter for the sect members at a local Baptist church. The experience was eye opening. How do you react when a child looks confused by a crayon?

HELEN PFLUGER, CHURCH VOLUNTEER: The mother was maybe 16, maybe 16, didn't know what to do with Crayola. She said what are we supposed to do with these?

LAVANDERA: Inside the compound, there are no televisions, no newspapers, no magazines.

(on camera): But the volunteers here in Eldorado who had been taking care of these sect members, it's really the first chance they've ever had to come close to them. Almost none of the women and children ever venture off the compound. In fact, only a few of the men have ever been seen around town.

(voice-over): Several volunteers say many of the women and children sat huddled together. Many were described as non-responsive and that they even wanted their beds to be touching.

Pfluger said she heard one girl tell a child abuse investigator that it's an honor to be a teenage mother.

PFLUGER: It's a little girl, probably 8 years old. And she had one of the babies and you could have thought oh, that's her mother. She was learning at that age to be a mother, not with a doll because they don't have dolls. Their dolls are real.

JIMALEE DUTTON, CHURCH VOLUNTEER: The young pregnant girls was hard to watch or hard to see. Some of them, the way they would not look at you, would not give you eye contact, that was hard.

LAVANDERA: Investigators acknowledged the children are terrified of the world outside the compound. But people like Helen Pfluger and other volunteers are also terrified of what it's like inside the compound.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Eldorado, Texas.


CHETRY: And back in November, the retreat's leader Warren Jeffs was convicted as an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl. Those were charges related to a marriage that he performed back in 2001.

ROBERTS: Coming up on 20 minutes now to the top of the hour and back to politics. Hillary Clinton's chief strategist Mark Penn, as we said, the latest casualty in a campaign that has had its share of collateral damage from comments by surrogates and supporters.

You'll recall, Barack Obama adviser Samantha Power had to step aside last month after calling Hillary Clinton, quote, "a monster." Back in February, talk show host, Bill Cunningham, a John McCain supporter felt the heat when he kept referring to Barack Obama in this way.


BILL CUNNINGHAM, TALK SHOW HOST: Barack Hussein Obama. Barack Hussein Obama. Barack Hussein Obama.


ROBERTS: Obama campaign is backing away from comments by radio host, Ed Schultz. Senator Obama fundraiser on Friday in North Dakota, Schultz called John McCain "a warmonger."

And he's going to be addressing it on the radio today. But before he does that he joins us here on AMERICAN MORNING from Fargo, North Dakota.

Ed, good to see you.

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Good to see you, John. Good to be with you.

ROBERTS: Hey, before I asked you about the McCain comments you made last week, let me ask you about Mark Penn.

What do you think of this whole thing? And what kind of impact do you think it's going to have on Hillary Clinton's campaign?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think it's a serious error in judgment by Mark Penn. But I think the Clintons are so far into this. I don't think it's going to have a real big effect on the campaign.

Hillary Clinton knows what she wants to say to the American people. In fact, I thought she gave a fabulous speech in Grand Forks on Friday night. I listened to all of it and I thought she was spot on. So she's on point. She's on message. She's doing everything she can to get the nomination. I don't think Penn being around -- not being around anymore is going to affect her campaign at all.

ROBERTS: All right. Let's move to the topic you're going to be speaking to on the radio today. Your comments calling John McCain a warmonger on Friday. Why did you call him a warmonger?

SCHULTZ: Because he is. Labeling a candidate is not being disrespectful. And his policies, John, fit the description. There's no question about that. This is a very serious time for Americans. We were quiet in 2002 and didn't speak up and I see a pattern taking place again today.

We need to speak up and challenge these candidates. John McCain has no end game in Iraq. He's saber rattling with Iran. He wants to throw the Russians out of the G-8. And yesterday, on your network, he said he wants to increase the military.

Now I ask Americans this morning what kind of message does it sends to the world when we're occupying Iraq and we've got a candidate calling for more of a military buildup. This is outrageous. The man is a warmonger.

ROBERTS: Well, the Obama campaign disagrees with your comments. Here's what Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the Obama campaign said, quote, "John McCain is not a warmonger and should not be described as such. He is a supporter of a war that Senator Obama believes should have never been authorized and never been waged."

This is somewhat similar to the Bill Cunningham incident where he kept calling Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, and people thought it was pejorative. After that, John McCain, threw him under the bus. Bill Cunningham told me I got thrown under the Straight Talk Express.

The Obama campaign didn't quite throw you under the bus here.

SCHULTZ: Well, that's because it's two different situations. Cunningham attacked Obama's heritage. I'm going after McCain's policies. There is a huge difference. And I don't need Barack Obama or any other senators speak for me. And I don't speak for the Obama camp.

But I can tell you that there are listeners out there across talk radio in America who are very concerned about John McCain's position. And I think I'm getting a lot of blog traffic supporting the fact that somebody is telling it like it is. The man is a warmonger.

Now, another thing I want to point out, John. Since 2001, on 10 different occasions, John McCain has voted against veteran's benefits. Now, this man has framed his campaign to be the war candidate. He brings up commercials about how he was in captivity in Vietnam.

He portrays the idea to the American people that he is a big supporter of the military. He has kicked the veterans to the side of the road like road kill with his votes. You can check it out. But of course, most Americans don't find out how senators vote.

ROBERTS: Now, the McCain had been calling on Obama to condemn your remarks. But yesterday aboard his campaign plane, he seemed to back off a little bit on this idea of condemnation. Here's what he had to say.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's satisfactory that the statement by his campaign. And I hope we can keep these things to a minimum. I know that as we talked earlier many times, it's a free country. Everybody has the right to say what they want to say. And a lot of the rhetoric gets heated in American politics. But Americans want a respectful campaign.


ROBERTS: As we said at the top, it is hardly a week goes by that a supporter or a surrogate doesn't say something that the campaign has to repudiate in some fashion.

What about these idea, as John McCain is talking about, about holding a respectful campaign and where does the word warmonger fit into that?

SCHULTZ: Well, his policies fit the description. Warmonger is a label. It is not a personal shot at John McCain. And I think that sound bite you just played by John McCain goes to show that he wants this story to go away. I think that this label of being a warmonger is really going to stick and it's really also going to bring to the forefront that we're still about this war.

And we are spending billions of dollars. We have no end in sight. He wants an open ended policy. He wants to continue what Bush has done, I'm sorry, John, but the label sticks. He is a warmonger.

ROBERTS: What time are you going to be talking about this on the radio, Ed?

SCHULTZ: I'm on from noon to 3:00, WWRL in New York City. And also, on hundred other stations across America. And believe me, the listeners are on point with this.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll be listening. Ed Schultz, I have been on your program several times. It's good to have you on ours this morning. Thanks for coming on. SCHULTZ: You bet, John. Thank you.


CHETRY: Still ahead, you're watching the most news in the morning. There's longer lines, longer delays, and more lost luggage. In fact, more complaints than ever before. And you're paying more for the inconvenience.

There's a new report out this morning putting a number on just how frustrated flyers are. We're going to get a live report on AMERICAN MORNING next.

And we're also watching breaking news in Paris this morning. The Olympic torch relay is taking place right now and so are the protests surrounding it. Anti-China protesters making their presence known in Paris.

Will we see a repeat of some of the protests that got out of control in London? We're following the latest developments for you. We're watching it all live. AMERICAN MORNING will be right back.


CHETRY: Well, there's a new airline quality report that's out this morning and it shows that the airline industry has failed big time. Last year, at least, when it came to on time performance, as well as baggage handling, and customer service.

According to the annual survey, passenger complaints soaring up 60 percent overall. Three low cost carriers have been forced out of business. Sky Bus Airlines, the latest to announce. That along with Aloha and ATA. All of them saying that the high price of jet fuel has helped push them over the edge.

And analysts say that until there are more direct flights and more runways, things could get a lot worse as we head into the busy summer travel season. Or will it be a busy summer travel season.

All travelers could see major delays, jammed planes, and even higher ticket prices. AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho is at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

I mean, it's one of those place where you see airline delays as the norm and it's not -- it's not unusual to hear you're 27th in line for takeoff.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. In fact, that's one of the biggest passenger complaints, Kiran. Good morning to you. But when you ask what this comes down to really, you're talking about jet fuel prices.

If you think about it, just as we're paying more to fill up our cars, on a much larger scale, the airlines collectively are spending much more on jet fuel. Jet fuel prices are up 200 percent over last year and that's affecting everyone's bottom line. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHO (voice-over): Talk about going up, up and away. Jet fuel prices are sky high and climbing. A tough combination, especially for low cost airlines.

GENEVIEVE BROWN, SENIOR EDITOR, TRAVELOCITY: Those low fares are just simply not enough to cover the high cost of fuel.

CHO: Three airlines folded under the pressure in recent weeks, ATA, Aloha and Sky Bus all closed up shop leaving passengers holding their bags and looking for a way home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We decided to rent a car. That was our cheapest way to get back.

CHO: Bigger carriers are also feeling the pain. American, the nation's biggest has stopped hiring. Delta is looking to cut 2,000 jobs. Continental has hinted it could follow suit. Northwest and United say they'll fly fewer planes.

And then there are the extra fees. Checking more than one bag, be ready to pay up. An extra $50 on most airlines. Want to talk to a real person on the phone? Or bring fido along on your flight. You got it, pay up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Airlines have to become more creative about how they make money. We're now paying for things that once were included in the cost of an airline ticket.

CHO: We're paying on other price too. Customer complaints shot up 60 percent last year according to new numbers from the airline quality survey. There were more delays with one out of every four flights showing up late. Airlines trying to fill flights to capacity meant more people got bumped, even though they had tickets. And luggage, good luck finding it. The number of bags lost also up for the year. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: And I personally lost two bags last year. So I can tell you without reservation that this is affecting everyone -- myself included. You know, it's important to note that the airlines just returned to profitability last year after that rough period following 9/11. Now they've been stuck with this.

And those higher costs, of course, are being passed on to the flying public. Heading to Europe this summer or planning to? You're going to be paying 10 percent more for your airline ticket this year than last year.

Now, there are still a couple of deals to be had. We spoke to a woman just this morning who was flying from New York to Fort Meyers, Florida -- roundtrip price, $137. Even she was surprised by that. She found it on-line. But like anyone else, Kiran, in order to find those deals, you have to be a very savvy shopper.

CHETRY: Yes. And it seems like they're getting harder and harder to come by.

Alina Cho, thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: Well, this morning we wanted to hear from you about this story between the troubles at the airline, higher prices at the pump. Would you consider ditching your vacation and instead maybe a stay- cation.

Well, that's what some are calling it when families choose to stay at home and enjoy regional, local activities rather than either driving far distances or flying somewhere. So cast your vote,

You can also send us an e-mail. Let us know if you change your vacation plans or your travel plans because of either one of those things. The high price of gas or some of the troubles with the airlines and the airports.

ROBERTS: Coming up on 54 minutes after the hour. A murder suspect throws away a cigarette butt. Are the police allowed to pick it up to collect his DNA? Or is that a violation of the constitution.

Sunny Hostin joins us to take a look at the debate, coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. The question of constitutional rights. Are police allowed to collect a suspect's DNA without permission or without a court order?

Well, there's a murder case that's coming up. It's actually in Sacramento, California next month. And this is what police did. They tailed this guy, Rolando Gallego, who was their suspect until he actually tossed a cigarette butt into the street.

They retrieved that cigarette butt and were able to get DNA off of it linking him to a crime that was committed years before that. His lawyer says that collecting evidence that way is an unreasonable invasion of privacy and that should not be use at trial.

Right now, we're bringing in our AMERICAN MORNING legal analyst, Sunny Hostin, to weigh in on this investigation. So tell us a little bit more about the case, first of all. This was a case that had gone cold. This was from their cold case files.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And it was a murder -- a murder case. And they had a DNA match or rather they had a sample they could match some DNA because they had blood on the towel. And he was a suspect.

CHETRY: This was his aunt?

HOSTIN: This was his aunt and he was a suspect. But they couldn't get any DNA to match. And he's smoking a cigarette, tossed the cigarette on the street and they picked it up and they matched them.

And I got to tell you, Kiran, that is something that is completely legal and it's smart. It's smart detective work and it's something in an investigator's arsenal.

HOSTIN: What about the Fourth Amendment? The Fourth Amendment certainly protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. And you're not supposed to be able let say take something right off of somebody's head or go into someone's house. And here we have it.

It safeguards the right of the people to be secured in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. But this is very different, Kiran. This is not an unreasonable search and seizure. You're not taking something off of someone's body. You're taking something that they have abandoned and that is a very, very different legal concept. And again, it's completely legal.

CHETRY: That is very interesting so it's almost like your garbage is fair game.

HOSTIN: Absolutely.

CHETRY: (INAUDIBLE) get where police can do this, where they can nab your DNA. We'll collect it without your knowledge.

HOSTIN: It's very CSI. And I love this sort of thing. They're very interesting circumstances. You can certainly take it again off of a cigarette butt that's been abandoned.

You can certainly -- if you're drinking something at a restaurant, you put it down and you think you're done with it. Someone can take it. Again, another example, discarding tissue in a public garbage. You wiped your face. There maybe some saliva on it. You throw it away. If one of those smart detectives goes and grabs it, nabs your DNA, it's all OK. All legal.

CHETRY: It's very interesting. We'll see how this one turns out. This trial starts next month.

HOSTIN: Yes. I'll be watching.

CHETRY: All right, Sunny, thank you.

ROBERTS: In fact, I think I saw that on an episode of CSI.

HOSTIN: It's all very CSI.

ROBERTS: After the cigarette butt, they busted him. It goes to show, swallow everything.

HOSTIN: That's right. That's right. Keep it in your pocket.

ROBERTS: Hospitals mixing up medicine. It's happening to a shocking number of children. The new study and the fallout from that. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.