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American Morning

Obama Refers to Himself as the Democratic Presidential Nominee; Dems Fight to the Finish; Record Oil Prices Closes at $128; Bet on Big Brown Pays Off for UPS; Parties Focus on General Election; China Observing Three Days of Mourning; U.N.'s Top Official Headed to Myanmar; President Bush Coming Back Empty Handed from the Middle East; DNA Dragnet; New Concern After Earthquake in China

Aired May 19, 2008 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Record-setting rally --


ANNOUNCER: A sea of Obama supporters hears the candidate calling.

OBAMA: Nobody thought a 46-year-old black guy named Barack Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee.

ANNOUNCER: Clinton, on her own.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (NY) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, my opponent said the other day, he wasn't coming back, so I've got the whole state to myself.

ANNOUNCER: Their messages in the home stretch of this primary season.

"The Most Politics in the Morning", on this AMERICAN MORNING.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Thanks very much for being with us.

It's Monday, it's the 19th of May. John Roberts, along with Kyra Phillips, who's in for Kiran Chetry this morning.

Have a good weekend?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Okay, let's see: music in Harlem, Indian food, Cajun food and darts at a pub. I think, between the two of us and our friends and family, we got it all covered.

ROBERTS: And then there was the Preakness, too. What a race that was!

PHILLIPS: Let's not forget that, that's right. That's two in a row.

ROBERTS: Oh, my goodness. The jump that Big Brown had in the fourth turn -- oh, it was just amazing. We'll be talking more about that this morning, but we begin with the "Most Politics in the Morning." Twenty-four hours now until the next big battlegrounds in Kentucky and Oregon. It was in Portland Barack Obama was swept away by a sea of supporters, more than 72,000 people. That is one-sixth of the population of the city, his largest crowd to date, by the way. And for the first time later that night, Obama referred to himself as the Democratic nominee.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's face it. Nobody thought a 46-year-old black guy named Barack Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee.


ROBERTS: Obama's lead is expanding. He is now just 121 delegates shy of the 2,025 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. We get more on all of that from CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Hillary Clinton tried to appear unfazed about Barack Obama all but ignoring her.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am proud to be campaigning in Kentucky. Now, my opponent said the other day he wasn't coming back so I've got the whole state to myself. What a sweep.

MALVEAUX: The battle for the Democratic nomination soldiers on. Clinton in Kentucky, another state she's favored to win. Obama in Oregon where he's favored.


MALVEAUX: Over the weekend, Obama got even closer to the nomination, continuing to pick up more delegates. While Clinton insists she's staying in the race until the very last contests, for use of the past tense raised eyebrows. Instead of saying when I am president, as she has asserted in the past, she says --

CLINTON: And if I were president, that's exactly what I would do.

MALVEAUX: Between ice cream stops and a visit to a senior center, Obama bypassed Clinton addressing voters issues concerning health care, jobs and energy. He also defended his willingness to talk to adversarial leaders without preconditions.

OBAMA: Because George Bush and John McCain have suggested that me being willing to sit down with our adversaries is a sign of weakness, is a sign of appeasement. Understand that George Bush had a policy of not talking to North Korea and not talking to Iran, and over the last eight years they are stronger as a consequence of George Bush foreign policies. All right. So their way has not worked. MALVEAUX: For his part, Republican John McCain took a break from campaigning, instead poking fun at himself and his age on "Saturday Night Live."


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Controlling government spending isn't just about Republicans or Democrats. It's about being able to look your children in the eye or in my case, my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, and great-great-great grandchildren, the youngest of whom are nearing retirement.


MALVEAUX (on camera): While Clinton is determined to show that her West Virginia win was not a fluke, Obama's determined to move beyond the primary to the general election, announcing that his victory rally on Tuesday will be held in Iowa, where he became the Democratic frontrunner to beat.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Frankfort, Kentucky.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made a pitch over the weekend to get on the ticket with John McCain.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no one I would rather be on the ticket with than John McCain. Whether or not I do the best for him, that's something that only he can decide. I'm going to support him because I think he's the right person for America.


PHILLIPS: Huckabee is an ordained Baptist minister who had strong support from religious conservatives in the South. He won primaries in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and his native Arkansas before dropping out of the race in March.

And new this morning, President Bush is back in Washington after chastising Arab leaders on the last day of his trip to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia rejected his request to boost oil production, and he didn't make any significant progress in peace talks. It was the president's second trip to the region this year, and he could return once more this fall.

Senator Ted Kennedy appears to be out of "immediate danger" after suffering a seizure over the weekend. Doctors say that he'll undergo further evaluation over the next couple of days, but preliminary test showed that he didn't suffer a stroke as originally feared. Kennedy was rushed to the hospital Saturday morning. Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain all expressed their thoughts and prayers for Kennedy from the campaign trail.

ROBERTS: Breaking news this morning. China is observing three days of national mourning for the tens of thousands of people killed in last week's earthquake. Residents stood in silence for three minutes and all vehicles sounded their horns. You can hear it there at 2:28 p.m., the exact time that the quake struck one week ago today.

The national flag in Tiananmen Square was also flying at half-staff. The government says more than 34,000 people have been killed, but survivors are still being rescued from the rubble. The latest, two women pulled from a collapse building in Sichuan province today.

New video released of the search and rescue operations including this shot of a man's hand reaching out from the rubble.

We're also following breaking news in Florida this morning. Firefighters battling close to a 100 active wildfires from Florida's panhandle to the Everglades.

Some 40,000 acres have burned so far. Crews say one of the largest fires is burning on Lake Okeechobee. Drought conditions exposing the lake bed that would normally be covered by water, and much of the area is under a dense smoke adversary.

PHILLIPS: A radical call for Muslims to take up arms against fellow Muslims in a new audiotape said to be from Osama bin Laden. That voice on the tape accuses Arab leaders of protecting Israel and sacrificing the Palestinians.

Muslim militants in Egypt are being urged to help break that blockade of Gaza, and this would be bin Laden's second message, by the way, in three days. The CIA is still analyzing the tape.

A U.S. soldier pulled from the frontlines in Iraq after using a copy of the Koran for target practice. U.S. commanders apologized for that incident. They kissed the Koran and presented it to the tribal leaders.

Iraqi police found the desecrated copy of the Islamic holy book last week on a shooting range in a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad. It was riddled with bullets and had graffiti inside the cover.

ROBERTS: Coming up, the Energy Department says it is going to stop refilling the nation's Strategic Oil Reserve, just a week after President Bush rejected the idea, a movement to taper down record oil prices. Found out why it's not working.

How lucky can you get? A horse takes on your company's nickname and rides into history. Big Brown and his sponsor making hay, heading into the last leg of the Triple Crown. Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


PHILLIPS: Same old, same old.

I've just decided forget setting you up.


PHILLIPS: Forget trying to massage it in any way. It's just it's not good. We're going to start driving this summer on all our vacations, and we're hosed.

VELSHI: They were hosed. We're exactly hosed. In fact, we have a new record price for a gallon of gasoline. I don't know when the record was because it just kind of every day. $3.79 for a gallon of self-serve unleaded.

Now, Friday, right here, we were talking about the fact that a number of things had happened. Goldman Sachs had decided that the price of oil is going to hit $1.47 this year. The price of oil went up.

President Bush was in Saudi Arabia. He asked the Saudis for more oil. They said no. The price of oil went up again. So immediately, the Department of Energy announced that it is going stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Now, we've had conversations about this. A number of presidential candidates or a couple of them have asked for this. It's been something that Congress has passed. The Department of Energy decided they're not filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserves.

Now, let me just tell you about those. There are four massive tanks in Texas and Louisiana, one proposed for Mississippi that's being built. They can hold 727 million barrels of oil a day. It's actually 58-day supply right now, but it could be up to 160-day supply because you can't pump it out fast enough if you needed it.

It's about 98 percent filled at the moment, so there wasn't much of a big deal about this fact that we were filling up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We were refilling. The government was buying 76,000 barrels of oil a day at market prices and refilling the barrels. They have decided now they are not going to do that. They're going to stop refilling the barrels.

Now, we just should just point out, that 76,000 barrels a day, according to one trader we spoke to, is more oil than is traded in one minute on market. It's just not a significant amount of oil. So the president had been saying this isn't going to affect the price of oil. It turns out he was right. The decision to stop pumping that oil has had no effect whatsoever...

ROBERTS: No effect whatsoever.

VELSHI: ... on the price of oil. That's where we are.

ROBERTS: What would?


PHILLIPS: $6 million question.

VELSHI: Massive change -- either the biggest oil find in the world or a massive change in the way we all consume oil. And I think the latter is actually going to be more important. That's what we're going to have to do. And we've seen that. We've seen people's behavior change as gas goes up higher.

But again, as we've discussed, even if Americans really, really -- no pun intended -- put the brakes on driving, India and China are still going to consume much more oil than we are going to stop consuming. So it's a massive world problem we have to deal with.

ROBERTS: All right.

VELSHI: Same old, same old.

PHILLIPS: Same old, same old. This could be the light of the day.

ROBERTS: It's Monday morning and the hairless prophet of doom comes back from his weekend. Thanks, Ali.

Ten minutes after the hour. Big Brown, one step away from the first Triple Crown in 30 years. And the come-from-behind win is paying off big time for his corporate sponsor.

And close to 100 wildfires burning right now in South Florida. Our Jacqui Jeras watching the extreme weather. She's in for Rob Marciano today. Good morning, Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, John. Good morning, everybody. Yes, the smoke so thick from these fires, and it's spreading into the Miami area. Find out when that smoke will disperse and record heat on the way. That's coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


JERAS: A smoky haze could slow the morning commute in south Florida to a crawl. Some 90 wildfires are burning across the state, scorching some 40,000 acres. The largest is in the Florida Everglades and officials say that fire is only about 20 percent contained.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome back. I'm Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. And, you know, the impact of these fires is really statewide. Miami-Dade County has been dealing with very thick smoke, and the winds have become pretty light early this morning. So we're very concerned about travel along the Florida turnpike, along Tamiami trail. So use a lot of caution because visibility could really be reduced down to a quarter-mile or less at times.

Now, the smoke is really spreading out over the last two days. And I've got a great graphic I want to show you from NOAA, that shows you the fire hot spots. So all these little red dots that you see, that's where the fires are actively burning and then you could see the smoke plumes and the winds that are coming in from the south and west. Really even spraying the smoke over the Bahamas so quite an extent with this.

Now, the winds aren't too bad right now. We're still in the, you know, seven to 10-mile-per-hour range, that's allowing things to kind of mix up a little bit into the atmosphere. Some showers and thundershowers, mostly south, of the Tampa Bay area, in the Bradenton and Sarasota. Isolated severe thunderstorms in this line will be possible, but mostly looking at some good downpours so be aware of that.

Here are the locations of the largest fires that are burning. One, just north of Apalachicola. The Palm Bay fire, we've been tracking that one for a couple of weeks, still ongoing, and then you can see also those fires around Lake Okeechobee. So big impact and fire danger also spreading further to the north including the Jacksonville area. We'll talk more about the record heat in the west when I see you, guys, again -- John and Kyra.

ROBERTS: All right, Jacqui, thanks very much.

Our "Hot Shot" of the morning, speaking of heat, and a slice of history. The crew of Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, Florida, set a new world record for the longest line of pizza, 722 feet, breaking the old record by more than 100 feet.

It took 40 hours, 500 pounds of flour, which isn't all that much, 250 pounds of mozzarella and 30 gallons of pizza sauce to make the pies. Proceeds went to a local firefighter who lost his home last week to the wildfires there.

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

PHILLIPS: Twenty-four hours until the next primaries in Kentucky and Oregon. Will Clinton and Obama team up to put Democrats in the White House in November? We have the "Most Politics in the Morning."

ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, betting on a winner.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the guys are talking about Big Brown.


ROBERTS: Inside the unusual marriage of horse and household name.


RON ROGOWSKI, UNITED PARCEL SERVICE: We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think there was a nice return on it.


ROBERTS: Inside Big Brown's marketing deal, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING."


ANNOUNCER: And just throws again the line (ph). Chances are but look at the rear view mirror, nobody was there. He waltzes home to win the Preakness. No one has ever been close to Big Brown. (INAUDIBLE) finished in second. Think about is third. So there he is.


PHILLIPS: Now, there you have it. Big Brown, one step away from delivering the first Triple Crown in 30 years, running an amazing race on Saturday at the Preakness Stakes. Now UPS is trying to ride Big Brown's success.

CNN's Richard Roth is trackside at Belmont Park where Big Brown arrives today. Hey, Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kyra. Yes, the owners of Big Brown, the horse, have certainly struck it rich. But it's a corporate giant that really spans to cash in now on the back of Big Brown.


ROTH (voice-over): Big Brown is racing to the Big Apple, sprinting for a potential horseracing glory.

NARRATOR: Big Brown is going at it again. He is disappearing from the field.

ROTH: Big Brown triumphed in the Preakness Stakes just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. He is on the verge of capturing, racing the elusive Triple Crown.

But a different and larger Big Brown also stands to be a big winner. UPS, the global package shipping company also known as Big Brown, is sponsoring their namesake, the horse and the jockey.

Horse and drivers are making hay together. In fact, UPS delivered some for the horse owners' at the derby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're excited to be partners with you guys and are very happy.

RON ROGOWSKI, UNITED PARCEL SERVICE: We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think there was a nice return on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of UPS, welcome to the 43rd Street facility.

ROTH: Big Brown's co-owner, Rick Schiavo, gave the morning pep talk to UPS drivers last week.

RICK SCHIAVO, CO-OWNER, BIG BROWN: But the two Big Browns have some things in common. It is hard work, it's dedication and compassion for winning.

CROWD: Go Big Brown! ROTH: With some recent high profile racing fatalities, sports markers are saying that Big Brown combo is high risk but big reward for UPS.

BOB DORFMAN, BAKER STREET PARTNERS: It's an opportunity. The horse itself is named Big Brown. They almost don't have to do anything else except, you know, sit back and watch the horse win because every time you hear Big Brown, you think, hey, what can Brown do for you?

ROTH: It created a Big Brown bow.

MIKE CHIRICHELLA, UPS DRIVER: Well, let me tell you. All the guys are talking about Big Brown.

ROTH: Who's faster, Big Brown, the horse, or you, in a Big Brown truck?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Big Brown. He walked that and so, he's the fastest.

ROTH: But the owner of Big Brown, the horse, should stay alert.

SCHIAVO: Our relationship is one that hopefully this is just the start of it, but is one that --

ROTH (on camera): Don't get run over by Big Brown.

Did you ever get hit by the horse?

The UPS has already reaped several million dollars in media exposure by having its corporate name on the jockey and the horse and saddle, and the owners have signed a $50 million syndication fee already for this horse who would go off to stud duty, Kyra, and possibly right after the Belmont, which is unfortunate that many people may not get to see him race again. But that's still not decided.

PHILLIPS: Well, Richard, have you devised some sort of system on how you bet on the horses, or do you just totally stay away from that?

ROTH: Well, I'm out here usually at this hour looking and stooping for losing betting tickets. So my system is really too complicated, I think. I wouldn't' want to share and drive the odds down on the horse that I would want to bet. But there is a Japanese-owned and trained horse Casino Draw who that will be a staunch opponent of Big Brown come the Belmont Stakes called the Test of Champions in early June.

PHILLIPS: Oh, we're tracking it. Richard Roth, thanks so much -- John.

ROBERTS: And I thought he just knew about the U.N. He's back to horse racing.

PHILLIPS: So U.N., UPS, it has the U's in there.

ROBERTS: I tell you, a whole new side of Richard Roth this morning.

Barack Obama declaring himself the Democratic nominee for the first time this weekend. There are five Democratic primaries left, and Obama's delegate lead makes it mathematically impossible for Hillary Clinton to get the nomination. But she is banking on undecided superdelegates to help her become the first female president this year.

This morning we want to hear from you. Who will be the first female president? Will it be Hillary Clinton or somebody else?

We'd also like your thoughts on this. Send us an e-mail. Tell us why you think Hillary Clinton will be the first woman American president. Or tell us who you would think it will be and why. Just go to and you can cast your vote right in all on the same Web site. Just go to the link that says "e-mail us."

PHILLIPS: A built of a shake-up for the McCain campaign. See why he's cleaning house and if it will matter to voters.

Plus, something new for this historic race. See just how many people turned out for the record setting rally.

Remembering victims of China's earthquake and a look at some dramatic rescues. A live report from the disaster zone straight ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: It's 26 minutes after the hour, and just one day now before the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.

Both parties seem to be focusing more and more on November, raising money for the general election and raising the level of the attacks, too.

Joining me now is "Time" magazine's senior political analyst, also the author of the "Undecided Voters Guide to the Next President." And he's also the author of the great blog, influential blog, "The Page" on, Mark Halperin with us this morning.

So let's take a -- let's have a little bit of a listen this morning to what Barack Obama said last night, because it seems that more and more he's declaring himself the nominee.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's face it. Nobody thought a 46-year-old black guy named Barack Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee.


ROBERTS: It sounds like a declaration that he thinks it's over.

MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": Well, look, mathematically it's been over in a sense for quite some time. He's closing in on the actual majority mathematical certainty, they'll be the nominee. He's got a delegate dance. He wants to focus on November. He wants to get focused on John McCain, but he doesn't want to alienate Senator Clinton or her supporters.

They haven't called for her to leave the race, but they are trying to step up the pressure a little bit. Every day counts. The sooner he can focus singularly on McCain, the better for him.

ROBERTS: So what do you think is going to happen over the next couple of weeks? It looks like she's going to win Kentucky and Puerto Rico, and he'll win the other three that are out there. Does anything change here or they just like run it until the end of the game and then make a decision?

HALPERIN: I think she'll stay in until he has that numeric majority. She's anxious to see the resolution of Florida and Michigan. Remember, their delegates for those two big states still not allowed in. The Democratic Party is trying to find a solution.

If their delegates are allowed in, I'm no math genius, but if you add those delegates in, he need more to get that majority. She's hoping to extend, move the goal posts, literally in a sense, make it harder for him to get the majority. She still needs something external to happen to change the way these superdelegates see the race.

He's moving toward the majority. He's giving her the space to make her decision to leave the race. And again, he hopes sooner rather than later. But probably not until all the voting is done in the beginning of June.

ROBERTS: Do you think she still has a chance?

HALPERIN: Mathematically she does, until he gets that majority. But it would take a big external event, as I said, something to get these superdelegates to say, oh, my goodness, we cannot have Barack Obama as our nominee.

But, John, that's been true since March. Nothing has changed. He's moved slowly and deservedly towards the nomination. If she continues to do well, winning Kentucky ain't nothing.

ROBERTS: Absolutely.

Is Barack Obama becoming a better candidate? You wrote recently about that whole dust up with President Bush, his speech in the Knesset. John McCain jumping on to that. Barack Obama had been seen prior to his as having of a bit of glass jaw, couldn't take a punch.

HALPERIN: I think there's no question, her staying in the race in a way has helped him. It's made him tougher. It has tested him with strong opposition. Something had he won Iowa and then New Hampshire say, he would never would have been tested. All candidates need that for the general election.

I think he's been strong, was strong last week in going after McCain and Bush, and that's what he's going to have to do. He's going to be double-teamed by those two guys all year.

The Obama campaign thinks great, bring George Bush into this. The more he's involved given how unpopular he is, the better. But those two guys are experienced national politicians, McCain and Bush, Obama, a first timer, is going to be a challenge for him all year.

ROBERTS: In fact, Congressman Tom Davis had some not so kind things to say about President Bush over the weekend. Let's listen to what he said regarding how John McCain should treat President Bush.


REP. TOM DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA: I've got to get some separation. The president is the face of the party. He is absolutely radioactive at this point.


ROBERTS: Tom Davis saying that the president is radioactive, that John McCain needs to get away from him. Yet with McCain having problems with some fund-raisers, like Tom Loeffler leaving his campaign, he may have to lean on the president to bring some money in.

HALPERIN: He'll certainly need the president for fund raising. But look, you can escape the president. McCain is going to run on his record and his views on Iraq and on taxes. He doesn't agree with the president on them exactly on everything, but those two guys are going to be joined at the hip.

And I think John McCain won't appear much with President Bush, but the reality, whether he's radioactive or not, is George Bush going to be president all the way to November, McCain is going to have to find a way to balance and distance with the reality that they do agree on some issues.

ROBERTS: And quickly, Loeffler's departure, what kind of problems does that present for McCain?

HALPERIN: McCain has got to clear the deck, not just of individuals but of this contradiction. He's a guy who's run against the influence of lobbyist and yet his campaign is populated from top to bottom with people who have lobbyists in the past. He's got to deal with that and as best we can tell, he is. He's shedding a lot of people from his campaign.

ROBERTS: And now, calling on Barack Obama to disclose what lobbyists are working for him.

HALPERIN: That's right.

ROBERTS: Mark Halperin, thanks very much.

HALPERIN: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Good to see you -- Kyra. KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news from China right now. Take a listen. You can hear the horns are blaring and the sirens wailing this morning. It's to mark the exact moment when the quake struck just one week ago. China is observing three days of mourning now. And incredibly survivors are still being rescued. The latest, two women pulled from a collapsed building in (INAUDIBLE) Province today.

And CNN's John Vause has been there giving us a rare, up-close look from inside the quake zone. He is live in Beichuan County. And I understand there's a rescue, John, actually going on right behind you as you bring us this report?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kyra. Even now 172 hours after the earthquake and these rescues continue. Right here, what we're being told is that around 6:00 p.m. last night Eastern Time, search crews discovered faint signs of life. They have been trying to get to that man who is buried beneath the wreckage of his house. They've been trying to reach him all day long, but hopes really are fading that he is still alive.

And across this earthquake region, there are few who actually expect that there will be any more stories of miraculous survivors.


VAUSE (voice-over): The images are heart-wrenching. A loan hand reaching out from the rubble. Another man trapped is given a phone to call his wife.

I don't have many expectations for my life, he says. I'll be satisfied if you and me can spend our whole lives together in harmony. The stories have played out on television here in surprising numbers. The girl being pulled out here spent 123 hours under the rubble of what used to be a hotel.

This man survived for six days after his factory collapsed on him. He was lucky to be in a pocket under a door frame. His co-workers weren't as lucky. But the miracle stories of survival are becoming less frequent. Crews are just as likely to be seen spraying rubble with chemicals hoping to prevent the spread of disease.

Outside this school where as many as 200 kids were killed. Some parents have left their children's ID cards as a memorial. It's the only building in the small town of Hufu (ph) that didn't make it.

The scene was like a slaughterhouse says this mother. The children were in piles. They were all bodies. Many of the parents say the building was a death trap. Made of cheap shoddy material and unsafe construction.

If this was a decent building, my daughter wouldn't have died, this woman said. A look at the rubble shows that the steel used to hold together the concrete is thin and bendable. According to state media, almost 7,000 school buildings collapsed during the earthquake and government officials have promised to find out why that number is so high and they say the guilty will be severely punished. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Now as these rescues slowly wind down, the Chinese governor shifting it's focus to its next major challenge. What to do with almost 5 million refugees and beyond that, what to do with cities like this one, Beichuan City, which have now been almost totally destroyed.


PHILLIPS: We'll definitely continue to follow those rescue efforts. John Vause in Beichuan County, China. Thank you.

ROBERTS: 33 and a half minutes after the hour and Alina Cho here now with other stories making headlines this morning. Good morning.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning to you, guys. Where's my microphone? Am I on here? OK, I'm on. All right, it's Monday, guys.

PHILLIPS: Here's something a little bit, you're looking good, my dear. You worked all weekend, you have an excuse.

CHO: You're absolutely right. I'm a little tired. Good morning, everybody. And new this morning, the U.N.'s top official is headed to Myanmar where millions are in desperate aid of food and water following a devastating cyclone. U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

Myanmar strict military government has been slow to accept humanitarian aid and so far has not granted visas to international aid workers. The U.N. is estimating more than 100,000 people died in the May 2nd storm. Millions more are homeless. Myanmar's government is estimating the cyclone did $10 billion in damage.

In Texas two hearing a day in five court rooms over three weeks. That's what judges will face since child custody hearings begin in that widespread polygamy case. The fate of 464 children removed from a Texas polygamous compound will have to be settled. Parents will find out what if anything they can do to get their children back. The state is still waiting for DNA results to figure out parentage. The children remained in state custody.

Well, remember that Milwaukee bus driver who was violently attacked while driving? It was all caught on tape. But now the driver is speaking out. He wanted to be identified only as Earl. Earl said he didn't have time to think about anything except for keeping the passengers safe and he said he'll keep on driving.


EARL, ATTACKED WHILE DRIVING: I was shaken up by it, but I want to get back in the saddle, you know. I enjoy my job. It's my job. I like serving the public.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHO: Earl fought off the attacker while the bus was going as fast as 40 miles an hour until its swerving to a tree. That video is just incredible. The driver and his eight passengers thankfully are OK. Police have not yet caught the suspect. He fled when the bus crashed.

And more strong words from Barbara Walters as she talks more about her feud with former "View" co-host Star Jones. On CNN's reliable sources yesterday, Walter said she and her fellow host had no choice but to lie to cover up Jones' gastric bypass surgery. She told Howie Kurtz the decision was a difficult one.


BARBARA WALTER, TALK SHOW HOST: We had to lie for her and I was worried about my own credibility. Joy Behar was very upset about it. But I also said that I have enormous respect for what Star brought to "The View." She's a very bright woman.


CHO: Well, Jones has lashed out at Walters. Many of you have heard that she said it's a sad day when an icon like Barbara Walters in the sunset of her life is reduced to dot, dot, dot -- speaking negatively against me all for the sake of selling a book. It speaks to her true character.

We should mention of course that Barbara Walters continues her book tour. "Audition" by the way number one on the New York Times best seller list. So it is selling books. It's working.

PHILLIPS: Whenever publicity is good, publicity in this case.

CHO: That's right.

PHILLIPS: It always is I guess.

CHO: As long as they spell your name right.

ROBERTS: Thanks very much.

CHO: You bet.

PHILLIPS: President Bush is coming back empty handed from the Middle East, no peace and no extra oil. Christiane Amanpour standing by to tell us why.

And predicting more promise for the economy. Of course the ever so positive Ali Velshi.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: No, I am. I'm not predicting anything bad. Well, look, I'm not predicting anything but I'm going to come back and tell you about some of the smartest economic predictors in the country saying things are getting better. Oil is getting cheaper and the dollar is going to get stronger. No, I really said that. I really said that. Stay with us and I'll tell you who it is when we come back on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Good morning. I'm Ali Velshi and you're watching AMERICAN MORNING. I'm neither an economic forecaster nor an economist. I just bring you what other people say. And there are two hands in this whole thing.

On the one hand things are bad and on the other hand things are not so bad. The National Association of Business Economics surveys 52 of the best economic forecasters around and here is what they say. 56 percent of them believed that we are either in or headed into a recession. That's not news to anybody. It just kind of doesn't even matter anymore.

But let me tell you what some of their forecast are about this year and next. Oil prices. They think that by the end 2008. This year, a barrel of oil will be down to $98. That's not pretty different considering we just told you that Golden Sachs thought it will be $147. They think by the end of 2009, by the way, a barrel of oil will be down to $92. So they see the trend in oil and, hopefully, gas prices going down.

Also for those of you thinking about your summer vacation or those of you who canceled it because of the dollar strength or weakness against the euro. They think that the dollar will strengthen against the euro. It will be $1.50 for a euro by the end of this year, which is not a big jump from where we are right now. And it will be $1.40 for euro by the end of 2009.

So they generally feel like the worst of this downturn is going to be over by the end of 2008. 2009, as a fold year, will be a little bit stronger, not substantially, but will be in the right direction compared to 2008. This is 56, pretty good economic forecasters. So, that's the other hand for you.

ROBERTS: I feel like I'm in the matrix and somebody just said take the blue pill, you wake up and nothing has changed; take the red pill and I'll show just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

VELSHI: That's kind of where you are. That's kind of where you are.

PHILLIPS: Ali just takes ibuprofen and hopes it all works out the next day.

VELSHI: That's it. I just wake up and hope the headache's gone. That's exactly right.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks.

VELSHI: All right.

ROBERTS: DNA dragnet. Police in some states now taking samples from suspects even if they are not convicted. Will it help catch more criminals? Otherwise, some say -- goes too far.

Plus, a new concern after that devastating earthquake in China that has scientists and spies on alert.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The quake has happened right in the heartland of China's nuclear weapons production area.


ROBERTS: Sounding the alarm about a possible nuclear danger. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


PHILLIPS: China marked three minutes of silence just a few hours ago at the exact moment that the earthquake struck exactly one week ago. More than 34,000 people were killed and that number is expected to rise and there's a new concern this morning that has scientists, spies and nations working together.

CNN's State Department correspondent Zain Verjee shows us how.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's where the quake hit China that sets off alarm bells among Washington's spies and scientists.

This is the area of the quake in China, but it's also an area that's very important to China for another reason. What is this?

HANS KRISTENSEN, FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: The quake has happened right in the heartland of China's nuclear weapons production area. There are three major facilities. One here, where they design the weapons. One here, where they assemble them. And one up here, where there's a nuclear plutonium production reactor.

VERJEE: How high are the chances for radiation leak?

KRISTENSEN: It's hard to say. It really depends on the damage. It's a very severe accident. And some of these buildings are old, going back to the 1970s and we just don't know how strong they are.

VERJEE: China says it's checking.

WANG BAODONG, PRESS COUNSELOR, CHINESE EMBASSY: I believe that the Chinese government is preparing for every consequences.

VERJEE: And after an extraordinary request from China, the U.S. is sharing satellite images of damaged roads, bridges and dams. A U.S. intelligence official tells CNN it's also keeping an eye on China's nuclear facilities to look for damage.

VERJEE (on camera): What concerns you the most right now?

KRISTENSEN: Well, right now it's either the release from the reactor here itself if it was damaged or the nuclear reprocessing facility that they also have here, where high-level radioactive waste could leak into the river we can see running right through the area.

VERJEE (voice-over): No sign of leaks so far, experts say. But given the danger, the close watch continues.

Zain Verjee, CNN, Washington.


PHILLIPS: Arrested, booked and now swabbed. Suspects getting DNA samples taken as soon as they're caught. But what if they're not proven guilty?

ROBERTS: Plus, tests on Senator Ted Kennedy to find out why he had a seizure over the weekend. Our in-house brain surgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, shows us what Kennedy's doctors are looking for. Coming up in our next half hour here.

PHILLIPS: And President Bush back from the Middle East with very little to show for it. Christiane Amanpour joins us live on the stalled U.S. efforts and a look at what the next president will be facing.


ROBERTS: Maryland has just become the 13th state to expand its DNA database. Samples are now taken from suspects as they are arrested, not just convicted. Victims' advocates say it will help catch violent criminals. But opponents call it an invasion of privacy. CNN's Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena takes a look at the controversy.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laura Neuman was violently raped at 18 but it took nearly 20 years to ID her attacker.

LAURA NEUMAN, DNA EXPANSION PROPONENT: I've heard actually comment that he might be one of the most prolific serial rapists in Maryland history.

ARENA: The man who raped her, Alfonso Hill, was arrested at least six times before and six times after attacking Neuman. But police never took a DNA sample until after he pled guilty to raping her.

He's also charged with raping six other women, which he denies. Many of those women would not have been raped and those rapes would not have occurred had he been caught sooner.

ARENA: Neuman helped convince Maryland to pass a law allowing police to take DNA from anyone arrested for a violent crime. Just like fingerprints, right? Not exactly.

CAROLINE FREDERICKSON, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: That is your genetic material that gives clues to your health, any type of genetic marker, you predisposition to disease, family history. What you look like potentially. All sorts of information is in there. ARENA: The type of information some critics say could be seriously abused. And soon the government will start swabbing anyone picked up on federal charges, too. Officials insist that safeguards exist to protect the information.

KEVIN O'CONNOR, ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Anybody who abuses this information or uses it is for non-law enforcement purposes such as to look at someone's family history of diabetes or whatever the disease might be can be prosecuted and will be prosecuted.

ARENA: But putting the genetic genie back in the bottle might not be so easy. Most states with new DNA laws require police to automatically destroy the DNA if suspects are found not guilty, but to get the feds to destroy your DNA you will have to make a specific request.

Not a simple issue. But for Laura Neuman when you weigh the rights of the accused against stopping a serial rapist early, it is case closed. Kelli Arena, CNN, Annapolis, Maryland.


ROBERTS: The Justice Department says the expansion of the national database could be done as soon as December but it's facing a backlog of samples that have been yet to be processed.


PHILLIPS: Time now for our "Quick Vote" this morning. Who will be America's first female president? Right now 33 percent of you say it will be Hillary Clinton. 67 percent of you think it will be someone else. Just head to to vote. You can also send us an e- mail. Tell us why you think Senator Clinton will be the first female president or tell us who you think it will be and why if it's not Hillary Clinton. Again, just go to, follow the links that say e-mail us.

ROBERTS: World in crisis. The U.N. allowed into Myanmar this morning.

China's days of mourning.

Plus President Bush's message to Arab leaders.

Crowded on the Oregon trail.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, everyone. Thank you.


ROBERTS: Plenty of room in Kentucky.



ROBERTS: Teeing up the next round of primary season. It's the "Most Politics in the Morning."


PHILLIPS: Now President Bush is back in Washington today after a five-day trip through the Middle East. He failed to get the Saudis to give up more oil. He ignited a firestorm at home and then he gave Arab leaders an earful about Democracy. CNN's Aneesh Raman reports from Sharm El Sheikh.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What began in Israel continued in Egypt with President Bush reaffirming his hope for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians soon.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I firmly believe that with leadership encouraged we can reach that peace agreement this year.

RAMAN: But on this trip President Bush never visited the Palestinian areas leaving many in the Arab world to suggest he's siding with Israel. On Saturday, Bush was eager to prove them wrong after meeting the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

BUSH: It breaks my heart to see the vast potential of the Palestinian people really wasted. They're good, smart, capable people that when given a chance will build a thriving homeland.

RAMAN: As usual on the trip there was no lack of meetings with key players in the peace process, from Israel's prime minister and president in Jerusalem to the King of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh to the Jordanian king and president of Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh.

And while White House officials say that tangible progress has been made in what they describe as intensive negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, they gave no specifics, citing a need for confidentiality.

On the ground prospects seemed slim at best. Bush is in his final year as president, the Israeli prime minister is facing calls for resignation amid a bribery scandal and President Abbas faces political uncertainty with the Palestinians still divided over his leadership.

To close the trip, President Bush used a major address to the World Economic Forum to challenge Arab countries to open up economically, politically, and confront the growing threat from Iran. But it was telling that it wasn't until midway through the speech that he mentioned his hope for a Palestinian state by year's end.

BUSH: I strongly support a two-state solution.

RAMAN (on camera): White House officials say President Bush is contemplating returning to the region this fall hoping still to secure what's been elusive for decades. Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.


PHILLIPS: CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour joining us now.

Did he achieve anything on this five-day tour?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, having talked around with analysts and experts over the weekend, it's hard to discern any evidence of any success on this trip whatsoever. He was in Israel and all those who I have been talking to who are working on that, diplomats and others who are working on that issue feel that no progress was made there and that's there's probably very little if any chance of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of this year as the president has repeatedly said would happen.

PHILLIPS: I'm sorry go ahead. Well, critics have come forward and said, OK, whether it's his policies in Iraq, Lebanon, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, he's failed everywhere?

AMANPOUR: Well, events have moved beyond anybody's expectations and control. If you look at the Palestinian territories, the elected President Mahmoud Abbas is not in control. The Hamas group are in control. If you look in Lebanon, the elected U.S. -- Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is not in control. Hamas is in control because it has a superiority rather Hezbollah in terms of weapons.

So the U.S. backed allies there are not in control, basically. Only in name only and de facto. The president made a speech during the 60th anniversary celebrations of Israel's founding in the Knesset. What could have been a very moving and an important speech there turned into a firestorm here domestically.

He then went on to Saudi Arabia and people say, you know, if you know the Saudis aren't going to raise the output in order to lower prices, why ask? It just makes you look weak. So that happened. And then this speech to the Arab leaders was perceived as chiding and denigrating the Arab leaders in their system, at the same time lavishing praise on Israel and what's going on there. And so the reviews, if you like, from the region on this visit have not been stellar.

PHILLIPS: And so is it him, is it his advisors? I mean, a lot of people are saying, he's got to do something for his legacy. He's got this Iraq war that's just tarnished his image and the Republican Party but he continues to come home empty-handed. So can he even win?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's about policy many of the analysts are saying. Policy is being pursued that has not paid off in terms of the ends that presumably were imagined. As I say in Lebanon, a policy pursued backing Fouad Siniora and a moderate coalition as prime minister and yet Hezbollah never disarmed and able to turn around and turn its weapons back on to the Lebanese people in an unprecedented way.

And just this week, Hezbollah agreed to sort of pull back a bit, but only after the democratically elected legitimate U.S.-backed government backed down. The two issues that the Lebanese government took which prompted Hezbollah to do what it did have now been rescinded so.

PHILLIPS: Christiane Amanpour, always greet to have you in the morning. Appreciate it.


ROBERTS: Turning to the "Most Politics in the Morning." And 24 hours now until the next battlegrounds in Kentucky and Oregon. In Portland, Barack Obama was swept away by a sea of supporters. More than 75,000 people, his largest crowd to date.

For Hillary Clinton, the campaigning starts early today.