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American Morning

Dow Opening Below 6,000; President Obama Wants Health Care Plan in Place by Year's End; Iran Could be Invited to Afghan Talks; iReporter Shows How the Ailing Economy Impacts Main Street America; Former Countrywide Executives Poised to Make Millions With the Mortgage Meltdown; Countrywide Front and Center of Financial Crisis; Rihanna's Affidavit Reveals Rihanna's Beating; Octomom Outrage: States Move to Limit Embryos in IVF; Health Care Reform; Mr. and Mrs. Smith Go to Washington; Blagojevich Book Deal

Aired March 06, 2009 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks very much for being with us on this Friday. It's the 6th of March, and even though it's a Friday we've got a whole lot to tell you about.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. And the good news is the Dow cannot go down any further after today at 4:30.

ROBERTS: Wouldn't that be nice if that were really the case?

CHETRY: Well, at least not for two days, right? They're closed on the weekends. But we do have a lot to cover this morning.

Get right to it. We're going to show you some of the big stories we're going to be bringing you in the next 15 minutes. Major news about your money and the economy. The big report out on the number of people out of a job comes out during our show today, and we'll bring it to you.

Plus, overseas markets stumbling right now. What does it all mean for you? We're breaking it down with the global resources of CNN. We have Eunice Yoon working the story for us in Hong Kong, and Christine Romans is up and ready to go here in New York.

Another big issue on the minds of Americans -- health care. Right now, 46 million people do not have health insurance. The Obama administration wants to change that and this morning they're making a deadline for doing it.

Suzanne Malveaux is the only TV reporter you'll see live at the White House this early, and she's standing by with that report.

Also, an invitation to Iran. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the country should have a seat at the table during an upcoming summit on Afghanistan. It's a big story and a big change. We're going to live to Geneva, Switzerland. Jill Dougherty who's traveling with Secretary Clinton.

ROBERTS: We begin this morning, though, with breaking news on the financial front and the possibility that your money could take another hit today. Right now, we're waiting for the government's monthly jobs report. It comes out during the program this morning. You'll see it the second that we get it, along with full analysis, context and perspective.

Also this morning, the Dow opening at its lowest level since April of 1997 after closing down more than 280 points yesterday, and that unshakeable economic fear right now infecting markets across the globe. From Europe to Asia, investors are pulling out their money and they're pulling it out fast. This morning we're tapping into the global resources of CNN. Here's Eunice Yoon for us this morning in Hong Kong.

EUNICE YOON, CNN ASIA BUSINESS EDITOR: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. I'm Eunice Yoon in Hong Kong.

Investors in Asia were spooked by the U.S. market's return to 12- year lows. Tokyo, Hong Kong Shanghai all ended the day in the red. Financial stocks tumbled as Citigroup's weak share price raised concerns in the region that Wall Street's troubles are far from over.

Traders were also unnerved by the possible failure of U.S. car giant General Motors. They fear GM's collapse could lead to chaos for Asian automakers -- John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: All right. Eunice Yoon for us this morning. CNN's Christine Romans "Minding Your Business." She joins us now.

We had that little mini rally when it felt so long ago.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I can't even remember it. I know when we said, oh, it's been five down days and now it's higher. Doesn't that feel good? I know it doesn't feel good anymore. It was a horrible day.

I mean, you look at Citigroup shares you could buy a share of the company for less than it cost to use your ATM card at a network.

CHETRY: Right.

ROMANS: I mean, just think of that.

CHETRY: It went from being a solid blue chip, right?

ROMANS: It's incredible. GM, you know, the company we told you yesterday, the company said that its auditors said it might have trouble being a going concern. GM gets hammered. I mean, what people on Wall Street are looking at are a lot of big name companies that apparently at least Wall Street thinks they're having trouble.

There's also this concern that we really haven't found -- we haven't found the set of circumstances that's going to help us get out of this thing. We know that this jobs number today is going to be very, very difficult. We know that the situation in the economy continues to deteriorate. And so Wall Street is just incredibly pessimistic.

Look at how much money -- why does the Dow matter to you? Well, the president this week said that it's kind of like a political poll, you know, that you have to keep your eye on the longer term. Well, that political poll happens to be tied to your money and your retirement.

Just this year, the average 401(k) has lost another $6,600 just this year since we've been in the process of trying to fix it.

ROBERTS: And what's the average size of a 401(k) for $90,000?

ROMANS: Yes, yes. Well, it's less than it was a couple of years ago, $316 billion lost in 401(k) value just this year. And when you look at how much the market has gone down since the president was inaugurated, since he was sworn into office, the Dow is down 17 percent. Well, people on the street are saying that they're still looking for what's going to happen next and how we're going to get out of this thing.

GM, Citi, some big names, companies that are probably in your 401(k) quite frankly. You may not think you own Citigroup. It's probably in your 401(k) if you have --

CHETRY: So what was it? Was it a year ago or two year ago it was $55 a share and now it's under $1?

ROMANS: Yes. It was under $1 yesterday. I mean, it's just something that's just unheard of and people are still kind of really stung by what's going on in the market. You can go crazy watching the market every day and look, I'm not telling you to trade the market every day. I'm just telling you we know, we're watching it too, and we know that this is tied to your retirement. This is tied to your money and that people are very, very concerned.

ROBERTS: And you'll be watching the jobs report later on this morning.

ROMANS: That's right. And we're going to try to give you some advice on, you know, how to navigate the job market right now because there are companies that are hiring so that's incredibly important too.

ROBERTS: Good advice, great. Christine, thanks so much. Good to see you.


CHETRY: Another big story this morning that we're working for you. President Obama says that the high cost of health care is bankrupting American families. He's rolling out an ambitious goal to fix it.

This plan is to overhaul health care to help the 46 million uninsured Americans and others who have insurance but can barely afford it. Speaking to attendees at yesterday's White House healthcare summit, the president said that his ideas are not set in stone.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In this effort, every voice has to be heard. Every idea must be considered. Every option must be on the table. There should be no sacred cows.

Each of us must accept that none of us will get everything that we want, and that no proposal for reform will be perfect. If that's the measure, we will never get anything done.


CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux, the only White House reporter live, up this early and a lot of Americans are very interested in this issue. So, should they be more optimistic this morning after that White House conference yesterday?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well one thing they should realize is that if you need relief and this actually works, that this is going to be a fast track. This is a timetable that is really very, very ambitious from the president. He's talking about within a year, you could be looking at some changes here. He doesn't want this health care reform issue to get caught up in the political season of 2010, and what they're arguing here is that this is related to the housing crisis, to the economic crisis, that there is no good time to actually deal with this.

So they're going to deal with all of this right now, Kiran, at least that is the goal and they want to continue this conversation outside of Washington as people live in various states around the country. Their governor is going to be hosting what they're calling these regional health care summits. It's going to kick off next week. It will be in Michigan. It will travel then to Vermont, Iowa, North Carolina, California, all of these places. The governors will be inviting people, kind of these town hall settings to talk about what it is that you need for your health care system and do you believe that this is actually going to work for you, Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes. Some are saying we've got so many huge concerns on the table. I mean, we were just talking about with Christine the Dow. We're seeing it at levels we haven't seen since 1997. And some are questioning is this administration trying to bite off too much right now? What are they saying about that?

MALVEAUX: You know, the aides I talked to here they have this expression. They say, you know, we like to put a lot on the grill. You know, we realize this is very ambitious but there are some people, supporters of this administration very concerned that they really are taking on too much way too soon.

Our own CNN analyst, political contributor David Gergen writing about it in an op-ed saying, look, what they need to do is deal with the credit crisis first, and they need to start filling some of those positions in for the treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, to help him out, get him a number two, get him the undersecretaries, get him a staff to work with, that that should be the priority. The Obama aides I talked to say, look, they believe this is all related that they need to deal with this at the same time -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning, thanks.

ROBERTS: Developing right now, the Obama administration moving to possibly engage Iran by the end of this month. At a NATO meeting yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed a regional conference on the future of Afghanistan, a meeting which could include a seat at the table for Tehran.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have presented this idea, which is being discussed, nothing has been decided, as a way of bringing all the stakeholders and interested parties together. If we move forward with such a meeting, it is expected that Iran would be invited as a neighbor of Afghanistan.


ROBERTS: And this morning, we're taking you to Geneva, Switzerland, where the secretary of state is in the midst of her second overseas trip. Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, joins us now live.

The secretary meeting with her Russian counterpart Sergei (ph) Lavrov today. We expected that the discussions will go to this idea of the missile defense shield and whether or not it's absolutely necessary if Russia were to help put pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear program.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's part of it, John. You know, it's really part of this pressing reset button on the relationship with Russia and they'll be having a dinner and then a news conference. It's brief but it's really an important step.

And getting back to that conference, you know, the Obama administration has been talking about engaging with the Iranians and now, if this works out, you could actually see Secretary Clinton sitting down or meeting at least with her Iranian counterpart if he comes. The idea for this conference is it would take place March 31st.

You heard the secretary say the details are still being worked out, but they're talking about having the U.N. chair it and as she pointed out, the neighbors and that means Iran would be invited.

Now, you know, there's been a lot of criticism by the Obama administration directed toward Iran for its nuclear program and supporting terrorism but actually the administration has pointed out that Iran was very helpful. Back in 2001, when the Afghan war started, they were consulting almost on a daily basis with the U.N. ambassador to Iran and helpful in some of the fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda. So again, the details aren't worked out and Iran has not yet said whether it will come, John. ROBERTS: So, earlier this week we had the secretary of state saying that Iran is a clear and present danger to Europe and Russia and then yesterday she says, well, she'd like to get them at the table for this Afghanistan conference. It's almost like she's playing good cop/bad cop herself.

DOUGHERTY: Exactly. In fact, I mean, it is two policies. I should say one policy with two sides to it, because they do believe that there is a danger from Iran.

They definitely oppose the nuclear program that Iran has. On the other hand, they know that Iran can be very, very helpful on Afghanistan, if it wants to be. And so, this, I think, is where you're beginning to see the strategy come together that how do you engage? Well, maybe you engage over the thing that they've already helped on and that is Afghanistan.

ROBERTS: Right. Jill Dougherty for us this morning from Geneva, Switzerland. Jill, good to see you this morning. Thanks so much.

CHETRY: Also this morning, President Obama losing another potential member of his team. Dr. Sanjay Gupta taking his name out of consideration to be America's next surgeon general. We're going to hear why in his own words.

Also, Countrywide often blamed for bursting the housing bubble. Well, now, the company's former executives are back in the game and stand to make millions off of the mortgage meltdown. We'll have the story and the outrage.

It's 10 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: And the Most News in the Morning continues. It's a question that you at home have been asking us for a couple of months now. Will our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta be this country's next surgeon general? This morning we have an answer, no.

Yesterday, Dr. Gupta announced that he's pulling his name from consideration and last night on "ANDERSON COOPER" he explained why.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Sanjay, we're certainly happy that you're going to stay at CNN. What made you decide to withdraw your name?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, let me say first of all it was a very, very, very hard decision, tough decision. Certainly, you know, I was very flattered, honored and humbled even to be considered for this.

For me, I think it really came down to personal issues, you know, where my third daughter is coming any day now, Anderson. You've actually talked about my other daughters and they were born on your show and, you know, how much family means to me. And I came to grips with this idea that I probably have to live for years away from them, sort of commute back and forth. And this job of ours, you know, you and I have traveled all over the world, it takes us away from the people we love, I think too much already. So I think that was just going to be too hard.


ROBERTS: Well, the Obama administration released a statement saying, "We know that he will" this is Sanjay's talking about, "continue to serve and educate the public."

A bit of a shame. He's going to make a good surgeon general, I think.

CHETRY: Would have been great.


CHETRY: Absolutely. All right.

ROBERTS: His heart is definitely in the right place. There's no question about that.

CHETRY: It's just if he could figure out how to clone himself, he'd have far more time for both.

ROBERTS: He's got to get in line behind me. I want first dibs on the clone.

CHETRY: Well, Countrywide mortgage was the big villain in the subprime housing crisis setting off a chain of events that many say really is at the heart of this economic crisis. Well now, CNN's Kara Finnstrom tells us the company's former executive now stand to make millions from the mortgage meltdown.

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, when Americans began looking for whom to blame for the housing crisis, Countrywide found itself front and center.


FINNSTROM (voice-over): Countrywide will be remembered for the risky loans that made its executives rich but then defaulted in vast numbers causing the company to collapse and some say contributing to the nation's mortgage crisis.

Now about a dozen former Countrywide executives have formed a company called PennyMac. They're buying up delinquent home mortgages on the cheap. For so much less than face value, PennyMac can renegotiate the loans and still make a profit. PennyMac says it's helping families avoid foreclosures. The company also stands to make millions.

ADLAI WERTMAN, USC MARSHALL SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: It's perfectly legal. It just doesn't seem to pass the smell test. FINNSTROM: Financial analysts and consumer groups are speaking out.

JAMIE COURT, CONSUMER WATCHDOG.ORG: It's outrageous that the executives that created this mess knowingly putting people in loans they couldn't afford are now poised to make a fortune cleaning it up.

FINNSTROM: Stanford Kurland, a former second in command at Countrywide, heads PennyMac. Kurland left Countrywide more than a year before it collapsed. He's now named in numerous lawsuits against Countrywide for its lending practices. Kurland declined our interview request but told the "New York Times" he left Countrywide before the company began making its riskiest loans and should not be blamed for what happened as a result.

As far as the new company, PennyMac released this statement. "PennyMac's business model depends on our ability to help borrowers stay in their homes, and we put together a team with the experience to do that. With this goal, we've developed loan programs that avoid foreclosure by addressing the borrowers' ability to pay their mortgage. We have offered help to hundreds of families in the past year, and we are eager to help as many as we can."

WERTMAN: The question is how do we feel about trusting them?

FINNSTROM: USC business professor Adlai Wertman and many other experts believe companies like PennyMac that that buy up bad loans, service them and keep taxpayers from footing the bill may turn out to be an important part of solving this housing crisis.

WERTMAN: It's exactly what we should be doing and what the private sector should be doing. We just have to make sure that they're doing it in a manner that's fair to all parties involved.


FINNSTROM: How to ensure that and whether there should be greater oversight or perhaps new regulations for companies like PennyMac is now a growing debate -- John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: You know, I saw somebody quoted in another report about that saying it's like the arsonist who burns down the house coming in and saying, can I rebuild your house for you, please?

CHETRY: And, Christine, that's the other fascinating thing. Are they the only ones who can get this company together? I mean, why is it that they're the ex-executives of one of the companies at the heart of this?

ROMANS: It makes people furious. But you could argue also that they're the ones who know how to do this and how to get these loans off the street so to speak, and get them renegotiated and get them out there again. But because they've made the loans in the first place, you know, I mean, it's just incredible.

ROBERTS: Money to be made out there. ROMANS: That's true.

New York's disgraced governor, Eliot Spitzer, returning to Washington and pretty darned close to the hotel that doomed his career. We'll tell you what he's up to now.

It's 17 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 20 minutes past the hour. Time to fast forward to some of the stories you'll be seeing on CNN and today.

Charter boat operators promising to continue the search for NFL players and their friends who went missing last week in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard officially called off the search on Wednesday. The lone survivor, Nick Schuyler, could be released from the hospital as early as this weekend.

Well, is anyone out there? NASA set to launch the Kepler II spacecraft to search the stars for signs of earthlike planets out there. Kepler will study 100,000 stars in a small section of the Milky Way. This launch is scheduled for tonight, 10:49 Eastern. John Zarrella, by the way, will have a preview in our 8:00 hour.

And in a little more than two hours, the government releases its monthly jobs report. Our CNN money team is here standing by to bring you the numbers and also to share more about what the impact may have on your investments and on Wall Street. And, of course, John, we talk a lot about what they're saying in Washington, what they're saying on Wall Street but also how this whole entire situation with housing and the economy is affecting, you know, your neighborhood, your average person.

ROBERTS: Oh, yes, the average Joe and not necessarily Joe the Plumber on the street.

We're making a big commitment here on AMERICAN MORNING to include everyday people in our reporting, and we're turning to our iReporters to make that happen. Overnight, a video from iReporter Greg Gardner in San Clemente, California caught our eye showing what the economy is doing to so many of our cities and towns. Check this out.


GREG GARDNER, IREPORTER: Hello there. This is 111 El Camino Real, previous home to Red Light Studios. Many of you may be familiar with Red Line Studios. They are no longer here, shut down. One of many businesses in here.

Right next door, previous home of Sitting Pretty, also shut down. Rafael's on Del Mar (ph) closed, shut down, as well as Wild at Heart, a favorite of ours down here in San Clemente. At least we checked out. All of this down the street had for sale sign after (ph) sale sign, 50 percent off, 70 percent off, liquidation sales. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And there you go, a rather creative report this morning on what's going on in Main Street, America.


ROBERTS: And that last question there is a question a lot of people are asking. If you're going to help big business, why not help small businesses, too, because small businesses really drive the economy forward and they are the ones that drive economic rebounds too.

ROMANS: And one thing that a lot of people have told me is like, look, you know, you keep talking about how bad the economy is but I walk out my street and I don't really see any difference. I have my job, I have my house. There's no difference. So what Greg is showing you right there is something that economists are saying is happening and going to happen more across cities and towns across this country.

You're going to see little, small businesses closing. He specifically was talking about big car manufacturers. Why are we helping out big car manufacturers when, you know, we need the help here on Main Street. And one thing that the government has said and economists have said is that everybody needs the help and you cannot have big car manufacturers, AIG, other big businesses going under because they say that's like the Lehman Brothers debacle on steroids. Then you have such a disruption of global economy that those little businesses can't get a loan, can't get small business assistance, can't get started up again. I mean, we're already seeing it, but the theory is it would be even worse.

CHETRY: So this argument, let the economy work itself out which I've been hearing more and more lately that people are saying wait a minute, I think we're getting into bailout fever. Maybe we should let work itself out. Is that an unrealistic notion?

ROMANS: I don't know if it's realistic or unrealistic, but it's too late because we haven't -- we haven't -- we have to intervene so much that there's no going back at this point.

I mean, I really believe there's no going back. We've already committed so much -- so much to intervene in the markets. And Timothy Geithner yesterday said we will not let the important parts of the financial infrastructure of this country not have the necessary money to continue going.

ROBERTS: I got to wonder how big...

ROMANS: They laid it out.

ROBERTS: I got to wonder how big that fiscal hole is going to get though by the end of this.

ROMANS: Oh, it's going to get big.


ROMANS: Really big.

ROBERTS: By the way, we want to hear from you. Become an iReporter for us. Grab your camera, record a video and send to us. Go to our Web site at and click on the iReport icon.

CHETRY: Some other news this morning, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer is back at work only this time as a commercial real estate investor. Spitzer reportedly bought a building in Washington just a block from the Mayflower Hotel. You may remember that Spitzer stepped down as governor back in March last year after investigators revealed the governor had a tryst with a prostitute in that very hotel. Spitzer, though, was never charged with a crime.

Funnyman Robin Williams is said to undergo heart surgery. The 57-year-old will undergo an aortic valve replacement. It's the same procedure that former first lady Barbara Bush just had. Williams was hospitalized earlier this week after suffering shortness of breath.

And CNN is learning some brutal details of what police say singer Chris Brown did to his girlfriend, Rihanna. According to an affidavit, a verbal argument quickly escalated out of control, with Brown allegedly screaming "Now I'm going to kill you." And that's not all, we'll bring you more of the ugly charges and also dive deeper into why Rihanna has reportedly reconciled with Brown.

It's 25 1/2 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: It's coming up now on 28 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We're following a developing story right now. South Korea rerouting commercial airline flights following a threat from the North. The warning from North Korea said it could not guarantee of South Korean flights near its air space. Seoul is condemning the in- flight threat and calling on Pyongyang to ensure the safety of South Korea's civilian aircraft.

Here at home people facing foreclosure could soon be getting some much needed mortgage relief. The House has voted to give bankruptcy judges the power to rewrite home mortgages. The measure allows them to reduce or "cram down the principal owed on the mortgage" for a primary residence. It faces a tougher test in the Senate.

And just in to us this morning, the price for a gallon of gasoline going up. According to AAA, the national average now $1.94. That's up about a penny. For the past three days, gas prices have been holding steady -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, this morning R&B singer Chris Brown is a defendant. He's facing years in prison for allegedly attacking his girlfriend, Rihanna. His arraignment has been postponed until April. He had a brief court appearance yesterday. There you see that. But this morning, CNN obtained the shocking affidavit that reveals what allegedly happened the night that Rihanna screamed for help.

The complaint charges that a verbal argument quickly escalated into a bloody and brutal beating. At one point, the affidavit says that Brown shoved Rihanna's head against the passenger window. Prosecutors also alleged Brown screamed "Now I'm really going to kill you" after Rihanna tried to call for help. Yet despite these ugly details, Rihanna has allegedly reconciled with Brown.

Joining me now to talk more about this, clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere, is here this morning. Thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: I know you also had a chance to read this affidavit...

GARDERE: I certainly did.

CHETRY: ... from the county of Los Angeles. So, you know, when you read about what happened this doesn't seem like just a one-off, you know, that you strike somebody once out of anger. This seemed like almost, I mean, more like an attack.

GARDERE: From what I read it sounds like it was a continual -- he was just continually hitting her, hitting her, hitting her. She was trying to defend herself.

And what's interesting is when you look back on some of the celebrity friends they had who had commented on this, no one knew how serious this really was, and a lot of those celebrities are now backtracking and saying, if we had known the depth of what had happened, we wouldn't have been so kind to Chris Brown and the comments that we made.

CHETRY: Yes. In this affidavit, 18 references to pummeling. They also talk about Rihanna being hit in her mouth, actually filling up with blood. They're describing blood spatters all over her clothing and the inside...

GARDERE: And on the car, yes.

CHETRY: ... the inside of the vehicle. And, you know, it begs the question, why would somebody reconcile with somebody who treated her this way?

GARDERE: Because it's a typical story of domestic violence. We find that domestic violence is not just about physical issues, physical aggression, but it's also psychological domination, where the victim begins to think that in some ways they're responsible for what happened, they become dependent on that individual.

And with this young couple, they really are in love, so I don't think they're giving enough credence or seriousness to what has happened, and that this may be a cycle of violence. As a matter of fact, I have read, as perhaps you have, that this may not be the first time that this has happened in their relationship, that this has been escalating from other episodes of domestic violence. CHETRY: You -- I know you're not an attorney but you see this type of thing and I'm sure you hear about this type of thing a lot.

GARDERE: I treat people with this.

CHETRY: Right.


CHETRY: And so what happens when - OK, Rihanna herself apparently, through her attorney, she asked that a judge not prohibit Brown from being able to contact her and there's questions as to whether or not she's moving forward with this. I mean, I understand that the police department is and the prosecutor's office is. So what happens in that case and what type of message does that send to her young fans?

GARDERE: Well, here's the situation. I think she doesn't understand really the cycle of domestic violence, may feel that these were lovers' spats or he may feel that himself, but what we do know about Chris Brown is he actually witnessed domestic violence growing up himself where his stepfather was beating his mother. So...

CHETRY: Actually, we have that on tape. Let's listen to what he said about this on "Tyra Banks Show."


CHRIS BROWN, SINGER: I don't want to mention the person's name, but like somebody that hurt my Ma, you know, and me having to deal with that from age like seven all the way until I'm 13, me seeing that, beaten, visually abused by, so.

TYRA BANKS, HOST, "THE TYRA BANKS SHOW": And how did it affect you?

BROWN: It affected me, you know, what I'm saying? Basically - especially toward women, I treat them differently.


CHETRY: So, he said right there and there is this desire, of course, when you witness things like that to want to be different. Unfortunately, you say and many others say that all too often this cycle of violence repeats. How do you break that?

GARDERE: Well, the way that you break it and the way that he needs to address this is by getting anger management, is by addressing in a therapeutic way what happened to him as a child, because he is at risk for behaving in this way, not just with Rihanna, but with other women in his life if, in fact, he gets involved with others.

But here's the bottom line. Rihanna herself has a responsibility not just to herself and her relationship and Chris Brown, but to her public, whether she wants to be a role model or not, she actually is, so she's giving a very wrong message by saying, "I'm going back, but I'm going back with no preconditions."

There have to be preconditions. "Chris, you have to get help if you want me to return, or if I'm to stay in this relationship and make it healthy." And I, as Rihanna, I should perhaps get some therapy and find out why it is that I want to stay in this kind of relationship.

What we find with a lot of victims of domestic violence is even if they get out of that present relationship, they go into another situation of domestic violence. So we have to look at what the psychological issues and baggage that they carry.

CHETRY: A lot on her shoulders.

GARDERE: Yes, absolutely.

CHETRY: She's only 21-years-old.


CHETRY: All right. Jeff Gardere, great to talk to you as always. Thanks.

GARDERE: We wish them both the best.

CHETRY: We sure do. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Outrage over the Octomom. Lawmakers in several states want to make sure it never happens again. But is it right to regulate the IVF industry? We're covering all the angles on that story this morning. From the politics to the medicine. Should women be told what they can and cannot do? It's 34 minutes after the hour.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Like many kids, Alec Loorz was inspired by something he saw on the big screen.

ALEC LOORZ, FOUNDER, KIDS VS. GLOBAL WARMING: It all started when I got -- when I saw Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been trying to tell the story for a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: After seeing the documentary, Loorz wanted to convince friends global warming is real.

LOORZ: So, I wanted to give presentations like Al Gore does. So, I applied to the organization who handles this training sessions. But I was only 12 years old at that time, so they told me I was too young.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: That didn't stop Loorz. He began speaking at schools around California and started a program called Kids versus Global Warming. More than 2,000 children have joined the 14-year-old's cause. Loorz also started a sea level awareness project, setting up polls at California beaches to show where future sea levels could be if nothing is done about climate change.

LOORZ: I have kids coming up to me saying, "I really want to get involved, what do I do?"

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Last year, Loorz finally met former Vice President Gore and became the youngest trainer for his climate project. Loorz' real dream, however, is getting his peers to act.

LOORZ: We are the future but we're more than that. We're here now. So, let's work together to change the world and not just occupy it.



ROBERTS: Well, she gave birth to octuplets. In the beginning, it seemed like a miracle, but when the circumstances surrounding her mega birth became public, it ignited public outrage. Lawmakers incensed at the burden to the public purse that Nadya Suleman and her family might be are vowing that it will never happen again and they want to slap new regulations on the IVF industry.

But is it good medicine to tell women what they can and cannot do to have a family? CNN's Ines Ferre has got that story for us this morning.

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, in the wake of the Octomom controversy, some state lawmakers are taking fertility issues into their own hands.


FERRE (voice over): The arrival of Nadya Suleman's octuplets is prompting some lawmakers to give birth to bills on the issue of fertility and raising questions about industry regulation. The 33- year-old Suleman says she was implanted with six embryos, two split, giving her eight babies. In Georgia, this state senator wants to limit the number of embryos transferred, two for those under age 40 and three for those over.

RALPH HUDGENS (R), GEORGIA STATE SENATE: I'm outraged at what happened in California, that we have an unemployed, unmarried woman with six children already, having eight more children, and really putting them on the backs of the taxpayers in the state of California.

FERRE: Another bill in Missouri would limit the number of embryos to those recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine or ASRM. Those guidelines include no more than two embryos for women under 35. Those over 40 can receive up to five, depending on the stage of the embryo. ASRM said it supported Missouri's bill and, quote, "Urged other states to adopt it." Georgia's bill, the organization said, was unworkable.

Some fertility doctors say Suleman's case is exceptional and don't see a need for legislation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because reproductive matters are a private issue. I don't think it's the government's business.

FERRE: But one ethicist points out that existing guidelines are voluntary and a federal law is needed.

MARCY DARNOVSKY, CENTER FOR GENETICS & SOCIETY: The United States is known as the wild west of the assistive reproduction industry. We're not trying to regulate women's bodies here by any means, but we do need scrutiny, regulation and oversight of the assistive reproduction industry.

FERRE: CDC figures show that fewer than 20 percent of U.S. clinics follow professional guidelines on how many embryos should be transferred into a woman.


FERRE: And fertility experts say there's several reasons why a clinic might skirt the guidelines. Sometimes patients pressure their doctor especially if they're paying out of pocket. Also, clinics feel an increasing competition to claim high success rates - John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: Ines Ferre reporting for us this morning. And we're going to talk more about the fertility fallout from the case of the Octomom in the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING. Dr. Jamie Grifo from the NYU Fertility Center joins us. That will be at 7:50 Eastern here on the Most News in the Morning.

CHETRY: It's going to be an interesting discussion for sure.

ROBERTS: It will.

CHETRY: Well, President Obama says the time for health care reform is here and now. But if you're insured, why should you really care about the uninsured? Well, CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is standing by, live, to answer that. It's 42 minutes after the hour.



OBAMA: The status quo is the one option that's not on the table, and those who seek to block any reform at all, any reform at any costs will not prevail this time around.


ROBERTS: Right now, President Obama wading in to one of the nation's thorniest political issue, health care reform. Right now, there are an estimated 46 million Americans who are uninsured. But what will fixing health care mean for the rest of us who are already covered?

Joining us to talk about this, senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

So, Elizabeth, what does it mean for those of us with health insurance now?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. John, you know, we hear a lot about the 46 million uninsured in this country, but it's important to state that more people are insured. More people do have insurance. And they might be thinking well, gosh, why should I care about health reform?

Well, here is an interesting statistic that a lot of people don't know. If you have health insurance through your employer, you are paying for the uninsured. You just don't realize it.

Let's say for example you have a family, you have a job, you get insurance through your employer, you and your employer are probably paying around $14,000 a year for your health insurance. Well, 922 of that $14,000 is actually going not to pay for you, but to pay for the uninsured. So in other words $922 of the money that you and your employer are paying for your insurance every year is actually spent to cover the uninsured. It sort of a hidden cost. And you might wonder how does that work?

Here's what happens. When someone who doesn't have insurance shows up at the emergency room, let's say for care, the emergency room might give them thousands of dollars of care, but the person who is uninsured isn't paying for it. So the hospital has to do something about that cost. They raised their rates for their procedures, they make insurance companies pay more, insurance companies say wow, we're spending so much money on this hospital care, we now have to charge our clients more money, and so that's how you end up paying for the uninsured - John.

ROBERTS: But, I mean, is it reasonable to assume that if more people were to be on health insurance, if we were to lower the ranks of the uninsured that hospitals and other providers would lower their costs? Or once the costs are up there, they kind of stay up there?

COHEN: Well, that's certainly what they're hoping. What President Obama is hoping is that when you do health care reform, that what you said is going to happen. That you're going to have fewer uninsured people, that some of those costs might come down, and that also there's going to be less waste in the medical system. So that is certainly the hope, is that when insure the uninsured that hopefully cost will come down.

ROBERTS: Elizabeth Cohen for us this morning. Elizabeth, thanks so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Forty-seven minutes now after the hour.

CHETRY: Mass hysteria over a three-word comeback.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: This is it. This will be it. This is it. When I say this is it, it really means this is it.

CHETRY (voice-over): This is it. Jeanne Moos takes on Michael Jackson's big announcement.

JACKSON: This is it.

This is it, the waiting is over.


CHETRY: Ahead on the Most News in the Morning.


CHETRY: Welcome back. Michael Jackson's making what he calls his final curtain call. He'll be performing a series of good-bye concerts in London this summer. The big announcement was typical for the reclusive Jackson, showy and weird. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to live up to your image when you're introduced with a video montage of your greatest hits featuring overwrought fans and a gigantic statue. And then in you come, all 5'10" of you.

Michael Jackson took the stage for about 3-1/2 minutes and between silences, basically repeated the same two things.

JACKSON: I love you. I love you so much.

MOOS: But when it comes to his main message. This is it.

JACKSON: This is it. This will be it. This is it. And when I say this is it, it really means this is it, because --

MOOS: Michael never finished that sentence. That's one of the tricky things about going live to an M.J. press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go. Let's listen...

JACKSON: This...

MOOS: You never know if he'll actually speak.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Michael Jackson.


MOOS: Some who watched on TV wondered are you sure it was him? "That wasn't even M.J., that was an imposter, you can tell by the wig and the voice." But fans on hand knew better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave him alone, you know. Just leave him alone. He's going through a rough time. So are we all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Personally I find him quite scary, but I think it's cool at the same time.

MOOS: At least those reports of a terminal illness seem premature. Though at age 50..


MOOS: The point of the press conference was to announce ten concerts in London in July.

JACKSON: This is it. I mean, this is really it. This is the final. This is the final curtain call.

MOOS: All those "this is its" led CNN Tony Harris to muse...

HARRIS: Wasn't that a pretty popular Kenny Loggins song?


MOOS: Snarky blogs like the "Thamer" (ph) remarked on Michael's eerie Hitler-like gestures, but this isn't that.

JACKSON: This is it and see you in July.

MOOS: And that was it.


JACKSON: This is it.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...



MOOS: ...New York.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are unemployed, and if you have a mortgage, you're going to face foreclosure.

ROBERTS (voice-over): Remember her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm mad as hell, and I can't take this anymore.

ROBERTS: Now the angry iReporters here, live.

Plus, spring break south of the border.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom freaks out about me going to Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're only 100 yards away from the California border. They got a call from two joggers who said they saw something terrible right here.

ROBERTS: Warning for college kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What stops somebody from driving by and shooting us while we're walking?


ROBERTS: You're watching the Most News in the Morning.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Brad and Angelina had been turning a few heads this week in the nation's capital. She's working on a new film, he's working the politicians.

With that and other stories from inside the beltway this morning, we turn now to CNN contributor and "Washington Post" columnist, Dana Milbank.

And Dana, I understand that you were at the photo-op with Brad Pitt and Nancy Pelosi. As we said Angelina Jolie seen around town. You're on the Brangelina beat this week. An unusual beat for you, but a fun one, nonetheless.

DANA MILBANK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You bet, John. I think we can forget Brangelina. Brad Pitt has got a new leading lady. It's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I think we could perhaps call them the couple together a "Brancy." They got together behind closed doors to discuss his project for eco-friendly housing in New Orleans. But when they came out in public, he didn't have a whole lot to say. Only 54 words by my count came out of Brad Pitt's mouth.

But , of course, it doesn't really matter what he says, it's how he looked. And judging by the shrieks and the screams of the pages and interns that had come out of their Capitol Hill offices to see him, I'm thinking he probably looked OK.

ROBERTS: You know, I saw pictures of him walking around the Hill glad-handling people. And there was one photography where he look like, you know, if you were back in the 1800s and you changed the setting a little bit, he would look like one of those, you know, incredible politicians who just charmed the pants off of everybody. And, I mean, he had everybody on Capitol Hill yesterday running around after him.

MILBANK: It was an absolute circus. The number two Republican in the Senate lost his body guard detail because they were trying to scout out Brad Pitt for some young ladies. Of course, the 18th century politicians probably didn't have the sunglasses and the shirt unbuttoned to the top just so.

ROBERTS: No, they wouldn't have. I think they would have been a little more restrained.

Hey, elsewhere on the Hill, Senator Patrick Leahy is encouraging Congress to create this truth commission to look into possible violations of law during the Bush administration. Let's listen quickly to what he said about that.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: In order to restore a moral leadership, we must acknowledge what was done in our name. We can't turn the page unless we first read the page.


ROBERTS: So he's getting some support from other members on Capitol Hill. Senator Russ Feingold supports this idea of a truth commission. But just how widespread is that support and could this actually happen.

LEAHY: Well, let's be truthful about this truth commission. Not looking so good right now. And that's because President Obama said, look, I want to look forward, not backward, and that really set them back here. I went to this hearing this week, half the place was empty. Only three senators on the judiciary committee bothered to question the witnesses. Even the protesters in the orange jumpsuits in the first row, they left before the whole thing was over. And if you can't get the orange jumpsuit crowd riled up, it's going to be slow going for the truth.

ROBERTS: It certainly will. Yes, you got to get them, if you want to keep going.

One other big story that we heard about this week, former Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois apparently got a six-figure book deal to write a book he's going to call "The Governor" in which he says he's going to expose the dark side of politics in Illinois in which I guess prompted some people to say, what's he writing an auto biography?

MILBANK: Yes. It makes it pretty easy for us in our line of work. But I think the real question is, is he going to be allowed to use all the cuss words. Will his wife be able to write the introduction, then he could have a pretty thick tone. Otherwise, I think he's going to have to quote a whole lot of Kipling.

But in either event, I think the two words of advice are write quickly because an indictment could come as early as next month, and he's going to need some money for those lawyers fees.

ROBERTS: All right. Dana Milbank for us this morning from Washington, in the "Washington Post." Good to see you. Have a great weekend.

MILBANK: You, too, John. Thanks.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks.