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American Morning

Inside the Pirate's Den; Florida's Gay Adoption Ban; Landslide Fears in California; Thousands of Tourists Stranded in Bangkok; Former First Lady Barbara Bush Hospitalized; Robert Gates Expected to Stay on the Job; McCain Praises Obama Cabinet Picks; New Fed Plan to Jumpstart Lending; How the Economy Will Impact Obama's Agenda

Aired November 26, 2008 - 06:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking news, Defense Secretary Robert Gates staying on the job.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Democrats have been impressed with the job he's done.

JOHNS: Details of this historic move.

Plus, is Obama already the commander in chief? The transition may be over.

BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We don't intend to stumble into the next administration.

JOHNS: The president-elect all business again today.

OBAMA: We are going to hit the ground running.

JOHNS: Laying out the trillion dollar plans to get you working and spending on this AMERICAN MORNING.


JOHNS: Good morning and welcome to Wednesday, November 26th, the day before thanksgiving. I'm Joe Johns filling in for the hardest working man in the television business, John Roberts.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CO-ANCHOR: He is a hard working man.

(INAUDIBLE) I'm Carol Costello filling in for Kiran. And I'm sure she's preparing her turkey by now.

JOHNS: By now, at least hopefully.

COSTELLO: You know what a great cook she is.

JOHNS: She's asleep.


(LAUGHTER) COSTELLO: We begin this morning with breaking news. Former First Lady Barbara Bush is in a Houston hospital this morning. Mrs. Bush is 83 years old and was admitted last night after suffering from stomach pains this week.

A family spokesperson says test came back negative, and she is expected to be released later today. Barbara Bush has Graves' disease, a thyroid condition. It's not clear if the stomach pain was related to that condition.

Right now, a dangerous situation unfolding as we speak in Southern California. Firefighters now urging thousands of residents who live along the scorched hills of Santa Barbara to evacuate. Heavy rains are saturating the burned hillsides, increasing the risk of flooding and destructive mudslides. Forecasters say up to four inches of rain could fall by tomorrow.

And a Florida court throwing out a 31-year-old law preventing gays and lesbians from adopting children. The judge ruling the ban unconstitutional saying sexual orientation doesn't prevent a person from being a good parent. The state plans to appeal the case.

Florida allows gays and lesbians to serve as foster parents, but it's the only state that prevents them from adopting children. We'll take a closer look at the ruling with our legal analyst, Sunny Hostin, later this hour.

JOHNS: Right now, President Barack Obama, I should say President- elect Barack Obama is mounting a full-court press to build confidence in the U.S. economy. In just a few hours, he will hold his third news conference in as many days while focusing intently on the financial crisis. He's also working to solidify a national security team with at least some bipartisanship.

Sources tell CNN current Defense Secretary Robert Gates will stay on for at least the first year of the incoming administration. It's big news in a time of war, but it also raises concerns. Here's CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Joe, Carol, for many people at the Pentagon, Robert Gates was seen as sunshine after the rain following Donald Rumsfeld. But the apparent decision to keep him on is stirring up some new storm clouds.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The appeal of Robert Gates is obvious. He's probably the most admired member of the Bush cabinet winning plaudits for his pragmatic approach and willingness to hold people accountable. So the argument goes, keeping Gates during a time of two wars ensures continuity, demonstrates bipartisanship and conveys that President- elect Obama has the confidence in his own leadership to keep a talented Bush holdover.

But the flip side of keeping Gates includes potential policy conflicts over things like funding missile defense and the speed of an Iraq pullout. And Gates' lame-duck status could make it harder to hire qualified deputies which in turn delays much-needed change which after all is what Barack Obama ran on.

DOV ZACKHEIM, FMR. PENTAGON COMPTROLLER: If we don't have good civilian personnel alongside our good military personnel, we're not going to reform. It can't happen. You need the people to make it work.

MCINTYRE: And right now, one big problem is that the system for buying new weapons is broken from the bungled Air Force tanker deal, new presidential helicopters to the Navy's latest high-tech ships. Almost every acquisition program is plagued by cost overruns and poor performance.

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: For example, between 2001 and 2008, the weapons development programs increased by $400 billion. Of course, nobody was paying attention. People went to jail because the acquisition process wasn't managed with the tankers.


MCINTYRE: As a short timer, Gates had the luxury of concentrating on just the most important problem, ending the war in Iraq. Now that he's expected to stay on, he will have to help President Obama with a much wider range of problems with billions and billions of dollars at stake -- Joe, Carol.

COSTELLO: Robert Gates would be the first Republican in Barack Obama's cabinet. Keeping President Bush's defense secretary provides continuity for managing two wars, but is it a politically risky move for the president-elect?

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is following that for us. So, Suzanne, I know Barack Obama supposedly doesn't like potted plants, two (ph) people around him, but why Gates?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's funny because Barack Obama really is a very pragmatic guy. He's very practical. This is one of those decisions that they made.

He said, look, you know, we need a commander in chief. We need continuity here, a steady hand that we don't need to change right now. That he's going to stay on for another year or so, that that is important. Obviously, he wants to end the war but he wants to do it in a way that he signals to people that there's not going to be a huge disruption.

You also have Retired General Jim Jones expected to be the national security adviser, really adding some muscle to his national security team and very likely as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expecting an announcement perhaps next week. He needs to focus on the economy. He doesn't need to worry that he doesn't have a strong team. He's going to have a very strong bipartisan team.

COSTELLO: So is the transition over now? I mean, is it complete?

MALVEAUX: Doesn't it look like it?


COSTELLO: Like he is the president already.

JOHNS: I already called him that.

MALVEAUX: More press conferences in one week than Bush. It's been quite some time actually, so we've seen a lot of him. One of the things that he's trying to do, and it's important they rolled out his economic team first is that he wants to influence the markets. He wants them to react in a positive way. He wants them to be confident.

And he also wants to say, hey, you know, show people I am going to hit the ground running here. I'm not going to wait until January 20th to actually try to start influencing what is happening.

COSTELLO: I know President Bush every time he pops out, I don't think many people pay attention to him anyway.

MALVEAUX: I don't think anyone is watching.

COSTELLO: He's totally invisible.

JOHNS: He's still the president.

COSTELLO: That's right. Constitutionally, there's one president.

MALVEAUX: There's one president.

COSTELLO: OK. So we'll call him President-elect Obama.

Once the nation's bank executives to forgo their annual year-end bonuses in light of the current economic crisis. In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, Obama says it's the least any executive can do if they're laying off employees this year. Some of Wall Street's big banks have already said they're skipping executive bonuses this year.

And you can see live coverage of the president-elect's latest news conference later this morning on CNN and That begins at 10:45 Eastern.

JOHNS: Senator John McCain opening up about his former opponent's cabinet choices so far. Yesterday during his first major press conference since he lost the election, the Arizona Republican praising the incoming administration and saying he is ready to work with President-elect Barack Obama.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's time for us to work together. It's time for us to sit down together and address the enormous challenges that we face. I think that, frankly, that Senator Obama has nominated some people to his economic team that we can work with, that are well respected and they -- I approve of many of them.


JOHNS: McCain also said he thinks Sarah Palin should have a very bright future in the GOP.

And speaking of Sarah Palin, she'll be back on the campaign trail. No, not running already for 2012. She'll be stumping in Georgia next week for Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, who's locked in a hotly contested run-off against Democrat Jim Martin. The two candidates face off December 2nd.

COSTELLO: And androids or us. Look at what the Japanese are doing. Well, the state of the art robot that will have you seeing double.

It's seven minutes after the hour.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." A quick check of some of the headlines.

Historic progress in the war against cancer. For the first time on record, the number of deaths and new cases regarding the most common cancers are down for both men and women. Doctors attribute declines to progress in research and treatment.

A warning to parents this holiday. Despite new laws, dangerous toys could still be on store shelves. A consumer watchdog group says parents with children younger than 3 should steer clear of toys that fit inside a toilet paper roll because the small parts can cause kids to choke. The group also advises parents to absolutely avoid children's metal jewelry because they may contain lead and to stay away from soft plastic toys that contain chemicals called phthalates.

Two New York City council members say Citigroup should show its appreciation for the federal bailout by sharing the naming rights to the New York Mets new ballpark. Citigroup agreed to pay $400 million over the next 20 years to name the stadium Citi Field, set to open this baseball season. The New York lawmakers want the ballpark to be renamed "Citi taxpayer field." I love that.

JOHNS: That is pretty good.

COSTELLO: Loving that.

JOHNS: Allan Chernoff is here. Speaking of --

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've actually got some good news. You know, Joe, covering business you get a bit of a complex these days. I walk down the hall and people say, oh, here comes Chernoff, more bad news.

I've got some good news this morning. The government has decided that people who need to borrow money, want to borrow money should be able to do that. So a major program yesterday, the Federal Reserve stepping up putting $800 billion. The Fed along with the Treasury putting lots of money out. And first of all, let's break it down. $200 billion to boost consumer lending. This is money that will go to financial institutions so that they can make consumer and small business loans, including auto loans, student loans, credit card loans. Then this is the big part, $600 billion to buy mortgages. Mortgage securities and this is going to majorly free up money in the mortgage market.

Just yesterday, as a result of this, mortgage rates fell about half a percentage point and all of a sudden, people started calling their bankers and saying I want to refinance. This is great news. This really could help out the housing market, help a lot of families that are feeling things very, very tough right now.

JOHNS: But realistically, how should it affect the foreclosure situation?

CHERNOFF: Well, it's not going to do everything. It won't really do anything for foreclosures. This is money for people who are creditworthy. You have to have at least 20 percent equity in your home. You need to have a credit score of about 720. That's pretty much average. So for people who are creditworthy, money is coming from the Fed and that is important.

Because what the Fed has been doing is they've been throwing money at the banks. The banks haven't been lending it. We need them to lend it and this is going to spark that. That's a good thing.

JOHNS: Allan Chernoff, see you again soon.

As a candidate, Barack Obama campaigned on some bold promises. But with the economic crisis deepening and the economic bailout getting even bigger, can he deliver?

And unlocking the secret world of piracy. A brazen hijacker speaks out and tells CNN how they continue to rule the seas.

It's 13 minutes past the hour.


JOHNS: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." With the economic crisis deepening, the government pumping another $800 billion into the economy. A massive pile of money that President-elect Barack Obama is scouring the federal budget to cut wasteful spending. But as a candidate promising to reform programs like health care, can he still make good while paying for the bailout? Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, Joe, as a candidate, Barack Obama promised a lot more green jobs, more health insurance, improvements in education, infrastructure, lower taxes and jobs, jobs, jobs.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Now, as president-elect, Mr. Obama is facing a hobbled economy, and he's talking about not just expansion but also scrubbing the federal budget to help pay for it.

BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: There are just going to be some programs that simply don't work and we've got to eliminate.

FOREMAN: But which ones and will some of his own programs get delayed or cut, too? Those are questions economic analysts say he must answer. He's talked about rooting out waste in the Department of Defense, entitlement programs and other government agencies. But the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group that went after both Obama and McCain's fiscal plans as unrealistic, says --

LEN BURMAN, TAX POLICY CENTER: Every president since at least Jimmy Carter has been -- has wanted to trim waste, fraud and abuse from government and it never amounts to very much money.

FOREMAN: The president-elect is pushing to continue work he says is critically important.

OBAMA: We are going to have to make sure that we are investing in roads, bridges, other infrastructure investments that lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth.

FOREMAN: In the short term, however, all that might drive the deficit skyward unless the president-elect makes painful cuts elsewhere. Some economists say a ballooning deficit could be OK for a while. But if it lingers, it will trigger deeper economic turmoil. So they are looking at Obama's new economic team, hoping they will make the hard choices to right the economy even if those prove unpopular.

BURMAN: The hope is that President-elect Obama is signaling that as president he will take much more seriously the long-term economic challenges than he did as a candidate. And that would be a good thing.


FOREMAN: The president-elect certainly does not have to answer all of these questions right away. And it is clear behind the scenes his economic team is working furiously to solve the puzzle that is now in front of them. How do they protect the economy in the short term without undermining his long-term economic goals?

Carol, Joe?

COSTELLO: Thank you, Tom.

Much as we'd like to sometimes, it's impossible to be in two places at one time. Or is it? CNN's Kyung Lah is doing a double take on a report on the edge of discovery.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are not seeing double. Well, sort of. This is the Geminoid, an android version of its inventor, Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor of robotics at Osaka University. DR. HIROSHI ISHIGURO, ATR INTELLIGENT ROBOTICS: Blinks like you.

And the hair is also mine. This is similar as a twin.

LAH: But not quite. An operator using multiple cameras and infrared detectors for lip movement runs a Geminoid from another room. Dr. Ishiguro steps behind the curtain and we continue our talk from here.

ISHIGURO: I can have another personality or another presence. I can be controlled by this robot from anywhere.

LAH: The ability to be in two places at once, say roboting into the office while you work from home. After a few minutes, I even forget that the Geminoid is separate from Dr. Ishiguro.

(on camera): Does that feel like I was touching you?

ISHIGURO: You know I can feel something.

LAH: Professor, are you studying humans or androids?

ISHIGURO: Both. By developing android, I'm studying a human.

LAH (voice-over): Dr. Ishiguro has been developing robots like this for years, but they didn't look human. He believes this machine that looks so much like a man can be used to study human behavior.

ISHIGURO: If we address all human functions with the technology, then we can understand human.

LAH: Trying to understand the human soul by building from the outside in.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Kyoto, Japan.


COSTELLO: I'm creeped out.

JOHNS: I know, I'm saying. It looks like Chucky, you know the old movies. Horrible.

COSTELLO: Plus, if you were like studying robots or androids, would you create one that looks exactly like you?

JOHNS: No. Well, I don't know.


JOHNS: They could read the news.

COSTELLO: Then we could be sleeping.

JOHNS: Right. Yes.

A Republican appointed by President Bush will serve as Barack Obama's first secretary of defense. Is that change? We look at Obama's decision to keep Robert Gates in place and how his national security team is shaping up.

It's 20 minutes past the hour.

COSTELLO: Inside the pirates den.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of these pirates used to be fishermen who have now traded their nets for their weapons.


COSTELLO: A Somali pirate speaks out. The renegades with rifles tell us how they do it.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


JOHNS: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Barack Obama has found the man he wants to head up the Pentagon, and it's the same person President Bush put there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He's been on the job for the past two years and he's expected to stay on for at least one more.

Joining us now from Washington, Mike Allen, chief political correspondent for the "Politico."

Mike, thanks again for coming in.


JOHNS: So Obama ran against the Iraq war and then he puts the defense secretary in place that George W. Bush had. Obama also ran against George W. Bush. A lot of people are waking up this morning saying, what's up with that?

ALLEN: No, you're so right. This is incredible. And you add it to the Hillary Clinton decision. It's something you literally could never have predicted but, Joe, it makes huge sense for the president- elect. He's saying he's still going to deliver on his promise to unwind America's involvement in Iraq.

And retaining Secretary Gates makes it so much easier for him to sell that to the military and to the middle of the country because he can say, look, I'm taking my cues from an architect of the surge. So it's great political cover and it really helps him with his relationship with the commanding general over Iraq and Afghanistan, General Petraeus who, of course, was skeptical of the rhetoric we heard from Obama during the primaries. But now he has the comfort of having an old teammate making these decisions, too.

JOHNS: The other question, of course, is about anti-war Democrats who gave him so much support back in the campaign. Are they going to give him a pass now that he's gone ahead and said, I want Gates?

ALLEN: Well, Joe, I think that's a smart question. And they're going to, for now, because they're so happy about the president-elect and the great promise that he has for their half of the political spectrum. But there's no question that this looks like a very hawkish war cabinet if you're on the left. The part of the party does not like this.

But, Joe, this shows a strength in leadership by the president-elect. He is showing he's not beholden to that part of the party. Now, they'll get other things and he'll do other things for them. But there's no question that he is stepping away from those supporters right now.

JOHNS: Mike, you've been around for a while and you've seen cabinet members from different parties come and go. What does a president get if he's from one party putting somebody into a big cabinet position of another party? Does it really make any difference or does it just show people within his own party that he's a nice guy?

ALLEN: I think it's a little of both. And in this case, he gets the credit for having a bipartisan cabinet, which he promised that he would do without really giving anything up. Democrats are in all the other big jobs. But this lets him point to Secretary Gates and say that I have kept up -- I have kept up with that. But it also makes Secretary Gates very powerful.

You can see why he would want to do this. If he were to resign or to protest something or say, hey, I thought that this administration was going to be responsible or centrist or bipartisan. So it puts him really in the driver's seat again showing confidence by this president-elect.

He's also got Hillary Clinton and as you mentioned to your sue viewers early in the National Security Council, former commanding Marine General James Jones. You just look at his title. A former supreme allied commander in Europe, you know that he's no shrinking violet. So this is a very powerful cabinet that President-elect Obama is going to have to keep juggling.

JOHNS: And very quickly, that change question, too. He ran on change. Putting a guy like this into the defense secretary position, is that change?

ALLEN: Well, he says that he's going to keep up his promise to bring a change in the direction in Iraq. But it allows him to do it in a way that looks responsible. And when he was making all those promises about the national security area, he didn't realize how focused he would be on the economy.

Joe, I can tell you that the Obama team is very rattled by the possibility that the economy is going to get much, much worse. We could have very high unemployment next year and so he's willing to have some continuity in these other areas. That's one of the reasons that they went for soon-to-be madam secretary Clinton. They call her a force multiplier because while he's focused on Congress and the economy at home, she can bring her celebrity and credibility to the world stage, or really helping him out, even outsourcing that big part of the presidency, reconnecting with American allies.

JOHNS: All right. Great. Thanks again, Mike Allen, for coming in. See you soon. Carol, back to you.

ALLEN: Joe, a happy getaway day.

JOHNS: You bet. You too.

COSTELLO: Just about half past the hour now. Here's the check of the top stories.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush is in a Houston hospital this morning. Mrs. Bush is 83 years old and was admitted last night after suffering from stomach pains this week. A family spokesperson says tests came back negative, and she is expected to be released later today. Barbara Bush has Graves' disease, which is a thyroid condition. Not clear if the stomach pain was related to that condition.

Don't count him out yet. Senator John McCain talking about his political future. At a press conference, the Arizona Republican announced he's setting his sights on 2010 saying he plans to run for re-election to the Senate. As for making a third bid for the White House, McCain said he "does not envision a scenario that would entail that."

Some good news for anyone hitting the road this thanksgiving. You can now fill up your tank for an average of $1.87 a gallon. Last time gas was that cheap, over three years ago in January 2005. And according to AAA, this is the 70th consecutive drop, down from a high of over $4 this past July.

And breaking this morning, a brand new twist with that so-called pirate mother ship blown off the coast of Africa last week. Maritime officials now say the boat was an innocent fishing trawler hijacked by pirates hours before the Indian navy attacked it. The military is standing by its decision to shoot saying that pirates on board fired first. A crew member on the fishing boat was killed. Fourteen others are still missing.

In the meantime, as pirates continue to hold more than a dozen commercial boats hostage, we're getting a rare glimpse inside their criminal world.

Live now to our bureau in Nairobi, Kenya, where CNN's David McKenzie is working the story.

And David, I guess with these pirates, it's not just the money but the glamour, too?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. It's certainly a pirates' life, after all, Carol. I mean, we are looking at over 100 million dollars of ransom coming in every year to these guys off the coast of Somalia and around this region. And that's a troubling statistic. Because it means that there's loads of money pouring into a lawless country like Somalia. We haven't heard from much the pirates themselves, but we found this rare interview with a pirate ringleader.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): The footage is shaky, the landscape desolate. But this dead road leads to pirate central. CNN obtained this footage from Gorawe, an independent Somali news organization. Its reporters traveled to one of the most dangerous places on the planet -- the port of Eyl, where pirate dead (ph). Late into the night, they interviewed Boyah, who says he's a pirate leader. This modern-day buccaneer is unremorseful.

BOYAH, SOMALIA PIRATE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Since the ocean is our government, we go into the deep ocean and hijack unarmed cargo ships. That is what forced us. There is no law that allows us to hijack traveling ships. But what motivates us is life, since we are the people who used to work at sea.

MCKENZIE: Many of these pirates used to be fishermen, who have now traded their nets for their weapons -- a subsistence way of life for the high life. Pirates have the best houses, the fanciest cars, the prettiest women, say the people here.

The pirate haven is on the coastline of Puntland, part of Somalia. Piracy has made Eyl a boomtown. In a territory of extreme poverty, the Puntland government is ineffective and widely considered corrupt. With the government unable to improve lives, piracy begins to look like an attractive option.

BOYAH (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We work together and our ranks grow because there is more hunger and more skills. That is what causes more people to join piracy. Piracy is growing faster, but it is not something that is lessening. The world cannot do anything about it.

MCKENZIE: And even with high tech equipment, naval ships officers concede they can't do much because they can't be everywhere.

BOYAH (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): It is impossible, because the Indian Ocean is vast and huge. And those foreign warships who say they will protect the ocean cannot do so. No ship has the capability to see everything.

MCKENZIE: While this pirate was outspoken, he would not let us see his face -- an indication that even in this lawless country, pirates still have some fear.


MCKENZIE: Well, Carol, I mean, obviously, that money that's coming into the country would help fuel piracy even further. And security experts say that without figuring out the security situation on the land in Somalia, the seas around this coastline will remain very unsafe.

Carol? COSTELLO: And there's nothing the Somalian government could do? Does it care?

MCKENZIE: Well, they would love to do something in certain parts of Somalia. There are allegations that the northern part of Somalia, which is known as Puntland, the government officials are involved in taking a cut from the ransom. I spoke to the foreign minister of that region. He said they're absolutely no way that they are taking a cut. But those allegations do exist. So, whether they can do something or whether they even want to do something is debatable.

COSTELLO: David, thanks.


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: A big development in the battle over adoptions by gay parents. A Florida court weighs in and strikes down the ban. We'll talk about what it means for gays, lesbians and foster children.

And the red-hot Jonas Brothers. You may know them as little Malia Obama's favorite band. The Disney sensation coming up in our next hour, right here on AMERICAN MORNING. It is 34 minutes past the hour.


JOHNS: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Look at that picture. A live picture from Orlando, Florida, courtesy of our affiliate, WESH. The sun coming up. About 48 degrees down there right now. Not too far away from Disney world. Just a beautiful start of the day in the sunshine state.

And in Florida this morning, the stage has been set for a showdown over a law preventing gays and lesbians from adopting children. Yesterday, a Miami-Dade circuit judge ruled the 31-year-old ban was unconstitutional. The assistant attorney general says the state will appeal. Joining me now to talk about this AMERICAN MORNING legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

So, I guess the question is, what did the judge base this on?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know it was really interesting. It was a four-day hearing and it was really a battle of the expert. The judge based really her decision on evidence from experts all over this country. And it is very, very clear that she found there was no legal or scientific reason alone to prohibit anyone, especially gay couples, from adopting. And it was not in the best interest of children that are in foster care not to have permanent homes.

JOHNS: OK, so that's the law. Now the question is how does it apply? What does this mean to gays and lesbians who are in the state and thinking about adoption?

HOSTIN: Well, you know, right now, it doesn't mean that they can't adopt immediately. It doesn't mean that. But certainly, I think that it means that we can be very, very optimistic about that. In Florida, there's a pending appeal filed on behalf of the Florida Department of Children and Family. So this is not going to be over until the Florida Supreme Court weighs in. And I think they certainly will weigh in.

But this was a lengthy, lengthy decision, Joe. 53 pages. It was well-reasoned and it was well-written. And I think it's very important that the judge found no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting.

And she really went over 30 years of psychological, sociological research and based the decision in large part on this testimony. We really don't see that. One thing I want to say is the state was arguing that there was a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children. And the judge said that is absolutely, absolutely not true.

There is no legal basis or scientific basis to believe that gay parents need to be discriminated against and can't freely adopt children. And that is just a very, very important thing. In this society today, should we continue to discriminate against gay people? And the answer in Florida, in that courtroom, is absolutely not. That's important.

JOHNS: Well, times are changing. All right. Thank you so much, Sunny.

HOSTIN: Thank you.

JOHNS: Carol?

COSTELLO: An urgent situation out in California. Firefighters ordering thousands of people to evacuate. A storm threatened landslides. We'll get an update from Rob Marciano.

And also check out where the weather could slow down holiday travelers today. It's 39 minutes after the hour.

JOHNS: Strange clay.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost everything that we're discussing here sounds off the wall. But that doesn't mean it's not true.


JOHNS: Close encounters of the fourth kind. People who insist they've been abducted by aliens. And the man who has made it his mission to listen and believe. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


COSTELLO: Oh, turkeys weren't the only thing flying. Check it out. So were the pins in Cincinnati's traditional turkey bowl. Dozens try their luck sending the frozen birds across the city's holiday skating rink. Doesn't that look fun? The winner knocked down 19 out of a possible 30 pins. And that's pretty good. Organizers say these frozen turkeys were discarded. No one will be using them for Thanksgiving Day dinner. Looks fun, doesn't it, Rob?


COSTELLO: Thanks a lot, Rob. It is now 45 minutes past the hour.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You probably heard of turducken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Tur, this is the duck and this is the en.



JOHNS: Forget about breadcrumbs. Jeanne moos looks at some turkeys stuffed with six birds and a pig? Give thanks for the bizarre. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."





UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Why are you crying?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I told you we put it in too early.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's just a little dry. It's fine. Here's the heart.


JOHNS: Mmm, mmm, good. Today is the day at least two turkeys (INAUDIBLE) from the president. They won't have to worry about getting stuffed. And speaking of Turkey stuffing, there's a recipe sweeping the Internet that defies description. Jeanne Moos is cooking up a Thanksgiving treat.


MOOS (voice-over): Snooty turkeys getting the red carpet treatment, staying at the luxurious Willard Hotel in Washington, being someone else's meal is the last thing on their minds. Room service? These two get presidential pardons. But pardon us. We're interested in how many other birds you can stuff in a turkey. You've probably heard of turducken. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the tur, this is the duck and this is the en.

MOOS: Deboned chicken and duck stuffed in a turkey.


MOOS: But bone up on this. The latest dish looks more like an eye chart. Even the experts at Lobels, one of New York's coolest butcher shops never heard of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turgooduccochiqua.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boom lacalacalaca (ph).

MOOS: However you say it, it surfaced on the photo exchange Website, Flickr, reporting to be a quail inside a Cornish hen, inside a duck, inside a chicken, inside a turkey, inside a goose with bacon between layers, hence the unpronounceable word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turgooduccochiqua.

MOOS: Turkey, goose, duck, Cornish hen, chicken, quail. It's got six birds and a pig.


MOOS: Thanksgiving myth or actual delicacy. It provoked comments like ooh and monstrosity. The caption said it was cooked 12 hours and that the turkey was inside the goose, but in the photo --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That looks like a turkey to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like a turkey to me also.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a turkey.

MOOS (on camera): Then we have a hoax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have -- there's something wrong somewhere.

MOOS (voice-over): This is starting to feel like a wild goose in a turkey chase. The Lobels butchers also noted you can't debone a quail. There's too many tiny bones. So it wouldn't make sense to stuff one of them inside. Though it's amazing how much fits. The British series River Cottage did what it called a 10-bird roast. Nine birds inside a turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like trying to close an overstuffed holiday suitcase.

MOOS: The moral of the story -- if it doesn't roll off your tongue...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turgooduccochiqua MOOS: Maybe you shouldn't put it in your mouth.

(on camera): You know, I've got something else we should be putting in there.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


JOHNS: Red-hot memo to the president. So, Mr. President, do you think you have a fix for the mess we're in?


BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back.


JOHNS: But are we setting ourselves up for yet another fall?

Plus, he's the go-to guy for people who say they've been abducted by aliens. And if you think that's insane...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's something small and white, but it's glowing. I'm really scared.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Do you have any idea what they wanted?



JOHNS: And everybody scream now. But before the Jonas Brothers get plastered up on Malia Obama's White House bedroom wall, they're live here on the "Most News in the Morning."



PETER FRENCH, SPEAKING ON BOARD SIRIUS STAR: The pirates -- no problem whatsoever. We had no mistreatment or anything like I said already. And hopefully, we can have some phone calls to our families soon. Our families don't have too much to worry about at the moment. So, all in all, we're not too badly off.

JAMES GRADY, SPEAKING ON BOARD SIRIUS STAR: Not to worry. We hope that it's not really too much longer. That's all I can say really.


COSTELLO: Got to be pretty scary. British crew members held captive by pirates saying they're OK. They were on the biggest ship ever to be hijacked. A Saudi tanker carrying a $100 million load of oil.

Maritime terrorists. That's how one Indian Navy official described the so-called pirates, now responsible for more than 90 attacks on ships off the Somali coast this year alone. They've held close to 300 hostages. So, how are they getting away with it?

Our next guest asked the provocative question, why don't we hang pirates anymore? Bret Stephens, foreign affairs columnist for the "Wall Street Journal," joins us live.

Thanks for coming in.


COSTELLO: So, I think that should be my first question -- why don't they hang pirates anymore?

STEPHENS: Well, it's not the 17th century anymore. That's part of the answer. And the other part of the answer is we have so many laws that govern how to deal with pirates. And in many ways, they're so confused that it's a classic case of everybody's problem becomes nobody's problem.

COSTELLO: Before we get into that, though, if I'm on a big Saudi oil tanker and I'm carrying a cargo worth millions and millions of dollars, why don't I have armed security people on board that ship?

STEPHENS: Well, that's a good question. And that's part -- that's part of the problem. A big Saudi tanker is larger than an aircraft carrier, has a crew of just 25 people. So, they're actually relatively easy to seize from the point of view of pirates. And I think the Saudis and other shipping companies are only now beginning to grapple with the extent of their problems.

COSTELLO: Well, it's just so bizarre to me that they wouldn't have thought that from the get-go, especially since the Saudi oil tanker wasn't the first ship to be hijacked by pirates. OK, so let's go on. So, let's say the pirates get on board that ship and there are armed people aboard the ship. What can those armed people do with the pirates?

STEPHENS: Well, they could fight the pirates. Of course, when you're talking about an oil tanker, there's a risk to the ship itself.


STEPHENS: Usually, the method has been that pirates take the ship and people like the owners of the ship are usually willing to pay the ransom. But part of the problem, too, is that the world's navies are very reluctant to deal in a muscular way with this really very ancient -- very ancient problem.

And one of the funny things is that according to the Law of the Sea Convention, a naval ship will have to first ascertain whether the pirates are, in fact, pirates. So, they essentially have to go knocking on the pirates' mother ship and say, excuse me, guys...

COSTELLO: Oh, come on.

STEPHENS: ...are you, guys, pirates? Well, yes, we are. All right, we're going to remove ourselves and we're going to blow you out of the water.

COSTELLO: That's insane.

STEPHENS: Well, that's the Law of the Sea.

COSTELLO: So, when the pirates, you know, in the last block, one of our reporters had an interview with some pirates, who said, you know, it's our ocean, nobody can do anything to us. And essentially, they're right.

STEPHENS: Well, yes. That's -- I mean, that's how -- that's how they approach the problem. Of course, they're not right. Piracy is one of the most ancient forms of barbarism. Cicero said pirates are enemies of all mankind. And in theory, any naval ship ought to be able to engage pirates directly.

But as I said, there are a whole series of laws. For instance, an American naval ship can only seize pirates and imprison pirates if the vessel that's been seized is an American-flagged vessel. There are very few American-flagged vessels. So, one of the things we could do is start reflagging a lot of these vessels with an American flag, which would give us jurisdiction over those pirates.

COSTELLO: Wouldn't that make it an American problem, though, and do we really want that?

STEPHENS: Well, the United States Navy has a responsibility for better or for worse for controlling the security of the seas. And when we allow situations like what's happening in the Gulf of Aden, 12 percent of the world's seaborne oil goes through that Gulf. That really does become our problem. It's a major economic problem. Billions of dollars in cargo have been seized.

COSTELLO: OK. So why doesn't the Somali government -- if they're Somalian pirates and they're off the coast of Somalia, why doesn't the Somalian government arrest these pirates who are living in parts of Somalia, living it up. Why don't they arrest them, try them and throw them in jail?

STEPHENS: Well, the answer is what Somali government? There's a very unstable tottering government in Mogadishu. A lot of these pirates are coming from an area in northern Somalia called Puntland, which kind of considers itself an independent territory. So, the real problem you have is ungoverned states, classic problem of weak states or collapsed states creating zones of chaos. That's exactly what's happening here.

COSTELLO: Scary stuff. Kind of means there's no quick solution and this will go on.

STEPHENS: Probably does.

COSTELLO: Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

STEPHENS: Glad to be here.

COSTELLO: We appreciate it. It's 58 minutes after the hour.

JOHNS: Breaking news this morning. Thousands of tourists stranded. Airlines grounding flights after two blasts at Bangkok's main airport. Anti-government protesters hitting Thailand where it hurts the most -- its vital tourism industry. The country's powerful army chief is now calling for the government to hold fresh elections and says there will be no coup to restore order.

The Catholic Church, finally, after 42 years, forgiving the Beatles. The Vatican's official newspaper absolved John Lennon for his comment that the Beatles were, quote, "more popular than Jesus," saying after so many years it sounds merely like the boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success.

Back then, Lennon's comment infuriated many Christian groups in the U.S. Some burned piles of Beatles records. The band received death threats. Radio stations, mostly in the South, stopped playing their music.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush is expected to leave a Houston hospital today. Mrs. Bush, who is 83 years old, went there as a precaution last night after complaining of stomach pains. But a family spokesman says all tests were negative and she's fine.

Encouraging news in the fight against cancer. A report says new cases were down between 2001 and 2005 by close to two percent a year in men and by about half percent a year in women. Doctors are crediting early detection and better treatment, but they also say a slowing economy could --