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American Morning

President Obama Meets with Turkish Students; Authorities Arrest Syrian Man in Assassination Plot; Small-Plane Thief Arrested in Missouri after Landing; Former Alaska Senator to Appear in Court; British Clothing Store Opens in U.S. to Fab Reviews

Aired April 07, 2009 - 08:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CO-ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello, in for John Roberts this morning.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you this morning. I'm Kiran Chetry. It's Tuesday, April 7th. Glad you're with us. We have a lot going on this morning.

COSTELLO: We do. It's like news galore. It's the top of the hour now. Here's what's on this morning's agenda. Stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

It's wheels up. President Obama has left Turkey. Air Force one expected to make the 10-hour trip back to Washington. Earlier this morning, the president met with students in Istanbul.

Christiane Amanpour is standing by to break down what he said.

And new details emerging this morning about the foiled plot to assassinate President Obama during his visit to Turkey. A Syrian man was arrested last Friday, two days before the president arrived in the Muslim nation. U.S. officials are taking the threat very seriously.

And new information to tell you about this morning about the man who stole that small plane from a flight school in Canada. Two U.S. fighter jets followed the Cessna 172 for seven hours and hundreds of miles across the Midwest. Right now that pilot is in custody. We're going to tell you new details on his identity in just a minute.

Also we talked about that developing news as we speak. President Obama is aboard Air Force One. He wrapped up his week-long overseas trip speaking to students in Turkey and the president's message was simple. Mend relations with a Muslim world that were frayed during the Bush years. And he defended America's image.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First, I believe we can have a dialogue that's open, honest, vibrant and grounded in respect. And I want you to know that I'm personally committed to a new chapter of American engagement.

We can't afford to talk past one another, to focus only on our differences, or to let the walls of mistrust go up around us. Instead, we have to listen carefully to each other. We have to focus on places where we can find common ground and respect each other's views.

States are like big tankers, they're not like speed boats. You can't just whip them around and go in a new direction. Instead, you got to slowly move it and then, eventually, you end up in a very different place.

I believe that we can forge a partnership with Turkey and across the Muslim world on behalf of greater opportunity. You know, this trip began for me in London at the G-20 and one of the issues we discussed there was how to help people in country who, through no fault of their own, are being very hard hit by the current world economic crisis.

We took some important steps to extend the hand to emerging markets and developing countries by setting aside over a trillion dollars to the International Monetary Fund and by making historic investments in food security, but there is also a larger issue of how Turkey and America can help those who have been left behind in this new global economy.


COSTELLO: We want to bring in chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour to talk about what the president achieved.

What did he accomplish over there?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, he accomplished turning a new page in America's relations with the world. And this was something that the Americans, right here at home, were looking very closely at.

They, by a large majority, wanted to see America's leadership once more in the world and America's standing restored. And by his own account, President Obama said he believes he'd accomplished that. Beyond that, he did not get everything he wanted on his trip either at the G-20 in the terms of massive stimulus that he wanted other countries to put into the global economy, but they did get agreements on tax havens and other such regulations.

He didn't get everything he wanted in terms of troops to stabilize Afghanistan, but he did get promises for certain number of troops for the near term to train Afghan security forces and to protect the elections in August.

But beyond that even, what he did was say that he is personally committed to a new chapter of American engagement. He reached very high, again, using his own words, he reached high. He said we have to try, otherwise, we won't make progress.

So he talked about a whole range of different things to the Bush administration. Reaching out to Iran, reinvigorating the Middle East peace process and talking about eventually reducing and cutting back nuclear weapons in a big speech in Prague. Talking about climate change, but also very honestly telling the people that we can't do it all, you've got to help us, and by the way, if we want to do all of these things we then also have to show the example ourselves. So it was very interesting. New tone.

CHETRY: And just also, what a crucial ally Turkey is. I mean, both with the border -- boarding Iraq and Iran, their key role with helping Afghanistan, as well as helping with the Mideast peace process. I mean we -- we have strategic interest more than just this goodwill with Turkey.

AMANPOUR: Absolutely. Absolutely. And he made, again, that very clear that this was not just because it was a Muslim country. This is because it was Turkey sitting at that cradle and crossroads of civilization between Europe and between -- and between the countries that you just mentioned, Iran, Iraq, Syria, but more to the point that Turkey has been a solid U.S. ally and a NATO ally since World War II.

It is Muslim, it is moderate, it is secular, it is democratic, it is pluralistic, and he said, this is, you know, a very, very important country for us and he made, again, a very clear reach-out to the Islamic world saying, look, many of you have seen us through the prism of the war on terror.

We are not at war with Islam and we will never be and he said that this is a time to turn a new page on that relationship.

COSTELLO: And he also brought up his Muslim background, which really resonated...

AMANPOUR: He did. He did.

COSTELLO: ... with the students and all of the Muslim world, which was watching his speech from parliament yesterday.

AMANPOUR: He did and that went down very well, particularly in Turkey and around the Islamic world. And look, just in terms of substance and tone, this was a very different face that any U.S. president has presented around the world because he really spoke to people, not from a position of arrogance and dictating, sort of the super power agenda.

He spoke to people and leaders as a partner, and he used that word partner many, many times to describe a new U.S. engagement with the world.

CHETRY: We'll see if it works.

COSTELLO: Christiane, thanks.

CHETRY: And also breaking news this morning. A foiled plot to assassinate President Obama while he was in Turkey. U.S. officials are saying that Turkish authorities arrested a would-be assassin, a Syrian man, last week. Two days before the president arrived, he reportedly confessed to authorities that he and three accomplices planned to stab President Obama during his visit to Istanbul.

Now there's word that the suspect was holding a press credential for Al-Jazeera TV. We asked CNN's Ed Henry about it.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to believe someone posing as a reporter could even get close enough with a knife because we're told this man wanted to stab the president. And you also have -- you know, have to go through metal detectors before these events.

That's why U.S. officials keep saying they don't think this man ever got anywhere close to the president. Meanwhile, we should point out, Al Jazeera is saying they know nothing about this Syrian man as well.


CHETRY: Also confirming that a senior U.S. official says the man has since been released. And while the U.S. takes all threats seriously, they do not believe that the president's life was ever really in danger.

And to another story that's been developing overnight. We're learning more about the man who stole a small plane from a flight school in Canada. The FBI says that he took this fully-fueled plane yesterday around 3:00 p.m. Eastern from an aviation school in Ontario, nearly two hours later, two U.S. F-16 fighter jets intercepted the Cessna. They escorted it south near Michigan over Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

The FBI identifying the man as Adam Leon, a Canadian national originally from Turkey.

Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve picks up the story from there.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kiran, we now have that mugshot, a picture finally of this mystery pilot identified as Adam Leon. Previously, as you said, he had a -- the name of Yavuz Berke.

He was born in Turkey, emigrated to Canada, became a citizen there. He -- no explanation for exactly what this guy was up to. Took this plane. And as you said, was trailed by F-16s, also by a customs and border protections citation jet which could get riddle up alongside his Cessna 172.

They tried to radio him. They tried to signal him. Air traffic control was trying to reach him. At one point, NORAD believes he was aware these other planes were present. He turned and looked at them he but would not heed their orders to put down the plane so he took them on this merry chase which lasted about seven hours. Took them over some major cities.

They were so alarmed in Madison, Wisconsin that they evacuated the state capital thinking that this guy might be up to no good. But he just flew on and in finally in southern Missouri, put the plane down on a dirt road near Highway 60, fled on foot. Apparently went to a grocery and hardware store, asked for Gatorade and some beef jerky, couldn't pay for it, but sat there. Waited. Authorities showed, asked him a few questions. Took him into custody. And according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, he is now being held on a misdemeanor count of violating U.S. immigration law. He's being held without bond.

You can almost bet, Kiran, that there are going to be some additional charges against this individual.

Back to you.

CHETRY: Very bizarre story for sure. Jeanne Meserve for us this morning. Thanks so much -- Carol.

COSTELLO: It's nine minutes past the hour. Let's fast forward to the stories that will be making news later today.

Former Alaska senator Ted Stevens expected in court at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. A judge hearing the Justice Department's request to drop the bundled corruption case against him because of misconduct by the prosecution.

Stevens was convicted on seven felony corruption charges eight days before Election Day. That guilty verdict may have cost him the seat he held since 1968.

The final 387 ballots of the Minnesota Senate race will be recounted today at 10:30 Eastern. A mere 225 votes separates the two candidates. Comedian Al Franken was declared the winner over incumbent Norm Coleman who, as you know, is appealing that decision.

And our own Wolf Blitzer sitting down with the vice president one on one this morning. The full interview will air tonight on "THE SITUATION ROOM" at 6:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

And you know there's been a lot of talk about Michelle Obama's sculpted arms, but not like this. A wax figure of the first lady is making her debut at Madame Tussauds in Washington. That will happen at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. It took artists four months to create the waxed Michelle Obama who is, of course, as you can -- you can't see it, but anyway, she's going to be wearing a sleeveless red dress -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. There you go. Thanks, Carol.

Well, in Italy, it's a race against time to find survivors still trapped after that deadly earthquake. We're going to have more on that.

Also how can a retailer in a bad economy completely buck the trend and post sales figures that are way up? We'll tell you what one clothing company is doing for double-digit sales increases. It's 11 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: And welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We're following breaking news from the earthquake zone in central Italy. One hundred seventy-nine people have now been found dead. Still a rescue effort, but rescue could soon give way to recovery as hopes fade for finding more people alive underneath all of that rubble.

CNN's Paula Newton is at ground zero in L'Aquila, Italy.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kiran, and good morning to you. A very chaotic morning in the mountainous town of L'Aquila. We've had a lot of people returning to this area. Some of them coming here to see the rescue effort behind me. There are still at least four students trapped beneath the rubble of this building.

It's been very slow efforts, Kiran, and very depressing. The last person pulled out of here was not pulled out alive, and that was several hours ago. I can tell you a very unnerving thing as we continue to have aftershocks. Some of them very strong, one as strong as 4.8, Kiran.

It means that chunks of debris continually falling off the buildings. Authorities getting very concerned about people's safety. At the same time, they have a humanitarian situation. They've been continuing to put up tent cities, trying to give people also the care that they need.

Right now, here, this community brought to its knees. There is a lot of help trying to rush here to the community but, still, Kiran, a lot of work to be done just to secure this very historic town -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Paula Newton for us, thanks so much. And we are getting some updated numbers right now.

According to Silvio Berlusconi, the premiere, saying that now 270 people have died in that devastating quake. They're expecting that the number is going to go up as they continue to search through the rubble but hope starting to fade that they're going to be able to find more people alive. Just a sad situation there.

Well, still ahead, after a press conference with the president, a speech before parliament and a round table discussion with students, President Obama has left Turkey.

So did his reach out to Muslims around the globe from the Islamic country work? We're talking to Al-Arabiya's Washington's bureau chief just ahead.

COSTELLO: And while many retail outlets are suffering, we will take you behind the scenes of one American clothing company where a radical approach is working. People are spending money there.

It's 15 minutes past the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

If you think all retail businesses are suffering, not the case. Some are actually thriving, but how? Well, some are taking a radical approach.

Jason Carroll is here now with one company's story.

Hey, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you. Well, you know, it's all about having a dedicated, innovative CEO, and that's what they have at American Apparel. The CEO is just 40 years old. He started American Apparel back in the late '90s.

The formula? Make the basics, add some vintage inspired items, market it to young people, in a sexually charged advertising.


CARROLL (voice-over): Maybe it's the provocative '70s imagery or the reasonably priced clothes. Whatever it is, it's working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the few companies that are doing well during the recession.

CARROLL: Despite a drop in retail industry profits, fourth quarter sales at American Apparel are up some 30 percent.

DOV CHARNEY, CEO, AMERICAN APPAREL: We're really focused on feeding, you know, young adults.

CARROLL: Meet the company's CEO, Dov Charney.

CHARNEY: I always get charged up when I walk through the factory.

CARROLL: A Canadian who loves American classics.

CHARNEY: Like the Hanes red label T-shirt.

CARROLL: A man with so much energy.

CHARNEY: Oh, sorry.

CARROLL: It's hard to keep him still.

CHARNEY: Pass me the bowtie.

CARROLL: Even for an interview.

(on camera): It's seems like you're obsessed with like '70s iconic imagery. Is that wrong...

CHARNEY: I think the imagery is now -- I think there is a connection to where people are right now.

CARROLL (voice-over): Another point Charney connects to is his employees.

(on camera): They're cheering for you.

(voice-over): While touring his Los Angeles factory, Charney says he provides employees health care, free on-site medical clinic and a subsidized cafeteria. Nothing here is outsourced. Their basic tees, tank tops, all made in the USA.

(on camera): Wouldn't it be cheaper for you just to outsource this?

CHARNEY: Direct labor, of course, is more expensive in the United States.

CARROLL (voice-over): His company saves by doing everything internally. No outside public relations firm, no ad company.

(on camera): This model works here?

CHARNEY: Yes. She works downstairs.

CARROLL (voice-over): No expensive model. Most are employees like Eliana.

ELIANA, EMPLOYEE: I like them. Yes. They look good.

CARROLL: Even a pantless (ph) Charney appeared in an ad, part of the vibe he's selling. His company has hit some bumps recently having to sell 18 percent of itself to a private equity firm. There were two sexual harassment lawsuits alleging among other things, Charney conducted interviews in the underwear he sells.

(on camera): Are those kind of passing...

CHARNEY: Those kind of issues will be judged over time.

CARROLL (voice-over): Charney denies the harassment allegations, saying they won't stop the company's success, success he measures in shocking pink leggings.

CHARNEY: It's exciting when it fits right and you see, you know, a girl, you know, walking into the subway, you know, in your leggings and her heels on Saturday night, and you say, wow, we got it.


CARROLL: Well, he's got something going on there. American Apparel is still fighting those harassment lawsuits and still turning a profit. Much of its bread and butter are coming from being a wholesale outfitter, selling its basics to other clothing companies. The chain is worldwide, opening stores from Stockholm to Paris and doing well. CHETRY: And in case you missed it, yes, the CEO of the company posed in pink tighty whities or tighty pinkies, I guess, you have to call them.

CARROLL: That's right. You know, he's putting himself out there, putting his employees out there. He says it's all about being real.

CHETRY: How about it?

CARROLL: Hey, but he's turning a profit.

CHETRY: Sure is. Sales up 30 percent, you said?

CARROLL: Uh-huh.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks, Jason.

CARROLL: All right.

CHETRY: Carol?

COSTELLO: So how you ask how other companies handling the recession? Are they, too, in posing -- what did you call them? Tighty pinkies?

CHETRY: Right.

COSTELLO: Tighty pinkies.

CHETRY: That's what they look like to me.

COSTELLO: They're not doing that. Here's more in an AMX stories. Companies like discount store Costco are keeping employees instead of firing them. By holding on to workers, Costco cuts costs associated with new employees. Things like finding, hiring and training new workers all cost money.

And once the economy rebounds, companies that did not slash payrolls could have an edge. Companies are also saving costs by capping the number of hours employees can work, cutting or freezing pay and suspending matching payments to 401(k) plans.

What goes on inside the mind of a man planning mass murder? The latest on this rambling letter police believe was written and mailed by the Binghamton shooter.

Plus, President Obama makes his first visit to a Muslim nation while in office and he makes this huge push to win support for Muslims everywhere. Did his push work?

It's 22 minutes past.


CHETRY: All right. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. To the most popular videos right now on

Chia Obama, yanked from drugstore shelves, who is the presidential edition of the pottery that grows when you water it. There was some complaints it was disrespectful and racist.

Also jackpot on the highway. An armored car spilling thousands of dollars, in quarters, though, after it overturned on I-95 in Maryland.

Guess you have to go on to see what happened next. We hate to actually tell you.

Also, say goodbye. Madonna is leaving Malawi without a new addition. A judge there rejected what would have been a second adoption from the African nation, saying that she didn't meet the residency requirements.

And those are some of the most popular videos right now on Carol?

COSTELLO: Also a big story on There are new details this morning about the man who police say went on a rampage in Binghamton, New York, killing 13 people and then killing himself.

This new information appears to be coming directly from the shooter himself. A letter mailed on the same day as the killing spree was sent to a local TV station in Syracuse.

Allan Chernoff is here to tell us about that letter and what it might say about this killer.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Carol, these are the ramblings of a very, very paranoid person. And if, indeed, this letter is authentic, it makes it quite clear that Mr. Wong planned this mass murder weeks in advance.


CHERNOFF (voice-over): The letter appears to offer a window into the mind of a madman. "I am Jiverly Wong shooting the people," the letter addressed to News 10 begins. The author writes of how he has been taunted and tortured by undercover police, touching him as he slept, even taking money from him, repeatedly driving in front of him and stopping short.

In a rambling summation, the letter demands a cop must be held responsible, quote, "I cannot accept my poor life." It ends chillingly. "You have a nice day." Enclosed with the letter, photos of Wong holding guns, also his driver's license and pistol permit.

Police are working to confirm whether the letter was, indeed, written by Wong. The letter is dated March 18th, more than two weeks before it was postmarked Friday, April 3rd, the day Wong burst into the American Civic Association killing 13 people and then himself.

No police were injured in the attack. Wong, authorities say, had been upset over losing his job and being teased about his poor English. The letter, if indeed it was written by Wong, points to a man who was more than distraught, someone whose paranoia may have led him to become a mass murderer.


CHERNOFF: Family members told police that they were not surprised that the tragic events. If they knew even part of what was written in that letter, what perhaps was in the mind of Mr. Wong, that certainly explains why.

COSTELLO: So this man also sent more pictures to this television station, too, and of course, we chose not to air them. But he was posing with guns and stuff like that?

CHERNOFF: Three pictures were enclosed with the letter and several of them, in fact, did have him holding guns, smiling, while he was holding those guns.

COSTELLO: And there's no evidence that police actually harassed them -- actually harassed him, is there?

CHERNOFF: None whatsoever, no, not at all.

COSTELLO: And yet, his family knew there was something wrong. This man went to a shooting range all the time. He had all of these guns and...

CHERNOFF: Well, he was actually licensed. Since 1996, he was licensed to hold those firearms. He was a regular at a shooting range, a regular at a local gun shop. That's not illegal, of course, but the fact that the family had indications that he was clearly mentally unstable, that raises questions why didn't they notify the authorities?

COSTELLO: Sad story. Allan Chernoff, thanks. Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. Thanks, Carol. We're coming up on...

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHETRY: Coming up on 29 minutes past the hour now, a look at the top stories we're going to be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

It's wheels up for Air Force One. President Obama left Turkey within the past hour. During his first trip as president to a Muslim nation, he met with Turkey's president, spoke to the Turkish parliament, and earlier this morning the president held a roundtable discussion with Turkish students.

Also this new video into CNN, North Korea releasing this. Officials in Pyongyang say it shows Sunday's controversial rocket launch. The launch has been criticized strongly by the U.S. and its allies but even after two days of closed door meetings, there's been no official response from the U.N. Security Council.

We're also following developing news about your money. Markets overseas are down right now. Red arrows stretching from Europe to Asia this morning. It comes on the heels of slight losses on Wall Street yesterday. But despite the Dow dropping 42 points, stocks have pretty much been on a tear lately raising for four straight weeks. Right now, we have the Dow futures down 112.

And also right now, President Obama in the air after leaving Turkey. It was the last leg of his five-nation European tour and also his first trip to a Muslim country since taking office.

And during the stop he sent a message to the world that was loud and clear that the U.S. will never be at war with Islam.


OBAMA: I'm personally committed to a new chapter of American engagement. We can't afford to talk past one another, to focus only on our differences or to let the walls of mistrust go up around us.


CHETRY: All right. So how is the Muslim community reacting to all of this? Joining me now is Hisham Melhem. He is the Washington Bureau chief of Al Arabiya, global Arab language network. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.


CHETRY: So in all, how was our president received in the Muslim world?

MELHEM: Well, judging by the positive headlines, by the live coverage that my network and others gave his speech yesterday in front of a Turkish parliament, the Muslim world likes what the president has been saying. Not only in Turkey, but since he was elected. And I think his words and, more importantly, his actions, have resonated positively throughout the Arab world and the Muslim world.

People realize that there is a new tone, that there is a new content, that there is a new language. Gone are the combustible words that President Bush used to use like Islam fascism. Now the new president talks about engagement. He talks about partnership. He talks about mutual respect, mutual interests. President Bush seemed to many Arab and Muslims every time he talks to them as if he is talking to them, as if he is lecturing them.

This new president is trying to engage them as potential partners in the fight against the real enemy of the United States and the real enemy of these governments which is Al Qaeda. The president doesn't even talk about the war on terror in general because the war on terror is a war on a tactic. He has well-defined enemy called Al Qaeda. He doesn't clump like President Bush all Islamic groups. He focuses only on Al Qaeda. All of these things, they are nuances and people recognizes nuances and they appreciate that. CHETRY: I want to ask you about that, because there are some who have criticized exactly what you are saying as a good thing, saying that he gave a test perhaps to groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim brotherhood and other groups that have used terror and are considered terrorist groups by our government.

MELHEM: Look. President Bush, the way he framed the issue, the war on terrorism created a conceptual muddle and he confused a lot of people. When you fight an enemy, you have to define your enemy very well and President Obama is trying to do that. It doesn't do any service to the United States effort to defeat Al Qaeda, to keep Al Qaeda in a defensive posture, when you lump together all of these groups.

Yes, it is true, the United States label Hamas as terrorist groups and Hezbollah and others, but the United States is not engaging in the battlefields against Hamas. We are engaging Al Qaeda on the battlefield -

CHETRY: Right.

MELHEM: And Afghanistan and in Pakistan. If you want to succeed, you need Muslim allies and one way of doing that is to define your energy very well. The United States essentially is not saying Hamas is our enemy and he is essentially saying what the Israeli government is saying, we will talk to Hamas if Hamas does a, b, c.

CHETRY: Right.

MELHEM: It's a conditional position vis a vis Hamas. And there is room for the United States to say we don't like Hamas and that is America's right. At the same time, you cannot classify Hamas the way you classify Al Qaeda. It's Al Qaeda that visited us with their destructive deed on that fine morning in September 2001. Not Hamas. As much as we don't like Hamas as a group that is doing - pursuing certain policies that is not to the liking of the United States government.

CHETRY: I want to ask you another question. There's a major distrust it appears still among Americans in the United States that were polled. The new CNN poll asks respondents what - this was the quote - for the U.S. trusted allies as much as other allies. And the results surprisingly were pretty split. 51 percent saying yes but nearly half saying no. Why does there seem to still be this mistrust on the part of the American people? And what can be done to change that?

MELHEM: Well, education, engagement, accepting the Muslim world as not strange other but a potential partner. I was not very surprised because of the impact and the legacy of 9/11, the misunderstanding generated by the war on terrorism, the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, all of these things that created enmity in the Arab world, the Muslim world and misunderstanding in the United States. There is unfamiliarity in America with the Muslim world and there is ignorance. Let's be blunt. Now I don't expect them the average American to be an expert on this jurisprudence but at least one would like to get through those negative images instead of typical images of Muslims. And here I must add that there is a role also for the Muslim world. I mean, now the president could look at Muslim leaders in the eye and say, I've done certain things that you want me to do, closing down Guantanamo, I'm getting out of Iraq.

I sent positive message to the Iranian people and I'm sending George Mitchell to mediate Arab-Israeli peacemaking but I want you to deal with the problem that afflicts our society which is essentially a problem of governance in which you are as Muslim leaders, the Muslim elites and the Muslim ruling classes are responsible for. And so there is a role here for the United States to be blunt and honest with the Muslim leaders and Muslim world, as well as there is a responsibility for the Muslim leader and Muslim elite...

CHETRY: Right.

MELHEM: ... to fix the ailment that affects their societies.

CHETRY: A lot of good points made this morning. Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya. Thanks for joining us.

MELHEM: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Could a campus shooting be stopped by a student carrying a gun? That intense debate is going on right now in Texas and in several other states as well. We're going to ask a student whose life was forever changed by the Virginia Tech massacre. It's 36 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Last week's mass shooting in upstate New York is the latest in a string of attacks involving guns in America. Now the Texas legislature is considering a bill that would allow people 21 years old and over to carry a licensed concealed handgun on college campuses.

Let's talk to both sides of this issue. Joining me now live from Austin, Texas, John Woods. He was a student at Virginia Tech during the 2007 mass murder there. And Michael Guzman -- he's a student at Texas State University and the president of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. Michael, I want to start with you because you're for this legislation. Tell me why.

MICHAEL GUZMAN, SENIOR AT TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, we want to give people the same options of self-defense on campus that they are already allowed off campus. We are not asking any current restrictive person be allowed access to firearms. Only the same individuals who have already obtained a concealed or who have already purchased a firearm. So it's not going to change who can purchase a firearm.

COSTELLO: And John, you know, in 2007, gun violence touched your life. Your girlfriend was killed at Virginia Tech. Tell us why you're against this legislation and why it might not have saved your girlfriend.

JOHN WOODS, GRADUATE STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN: You know, I think there are two big issues here. And one is absolutely that there's almost no crime on college campuses. For example, at the University of Texas, there have only been two murders in the last 29 years. So virtually no violent crime.

And, you know, the other thing is I had the opportunity of speaking to a number of survivors and I haven't heard from a single one who is in favor of guns on campus. They all say that it would be more likely to cause more, maybe smaller shootings and it probably wouldn't have been able to do much to stop the shooting at Virginia Tech.

COSTELLO: And you know, Michael, there is the argument that college students are still maturing and maybe they can't handle a concealed weapon. How do you respond to those critics and to what John just said?

GUZMAN: Again, these are the same people that can already purchase firearms and already obtain a concealed license. It doesn't change that. These are the same people who are already carrying when they go to grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants and shopping malls. And to say that there is almost no crime on campus negates the fact there are tens of thousands of crimes that occur on campus every year in this country.

You can go to the Department of Education and look at those statistics. Now the fact of the matter is there is this gray area that we don't know about when people are walking to or from campus going back to their campus apartment or home. And those statistics are not included in campus crime statistics so there is that big gray area of crime that we just don't know about.

COSTELLO: And you know, John, there is also the question of constitutionality. I mean, many people say it's our constitutional right to carry firearms or to have them.

WOODS: Well you know, I think Michael makes a good point there. There is a lot of crime on campus but it's all mostly fistfights and such and if that sort of thing was escalating into gun fights, then we have a major problem. In terms of the second amendment, you know, Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court, has said that - this is in the Washington, D.C. overturning their firearms ban, he made the point this shouldn't be taken to extend to college campuses, sensitive places, government buildings, public schools. So -

COSTELLO: And Michael, you know, some might say John has a point that, you know, OK, maybe it's legal to carry concealed weapons but should those concealed weapons be carried, you know, in places like government office buildings or college campuses or even high schools maybe by teachers?

GUZMAN: Well, the difference between a high school and between a college environment is that the college environment is an open environment. Anyone from off the street can walk on to a college campus without being stopped by a security. Whereas high school you have controlled points of entry to the resource officer, metal detectors and screen who has a firearm. Whereas, college campuses you can't do that. Anyone can come up onto campus.

Now, the debate isn't about constitutionality. The debate is why do we set the odds in favor of the criminal who doesn't follow the law, who doesn't follow the rules? There's a reason that we should allow law abiding citizens to defend themselves. It's the same option of self-defense they are already given off campus.

COSTELLO: And John, I'm going to let you have the final word and respond to that because had students at Virginia Tech had weapons, I mean, this gunman just burst into the classroom and started shooting. Do you think that he might have been taken down if some student had a gun to stop him?

WOODS: You know, that's a lot of speculation, but I think he probably would have changed his tactics. So, for example, if there were guns allowed at the University of Texas, it would only be people whoa re 21 and older and, you know, my concern is, well, what would stop him from just going into a freshmen only class or you know a class where he knew that people were unlikely to be carrying and doing -

GUZMAN: Let's make it harder for him. Let's not make it easier. Let's make it harder.

COSTELLO: It's a great debate and thank you both for joining me this morning. John Woods, Michael Guzman. Fascinating conversation. Thank you.

GUZMAN: Thank you.

CHETRY: They call it sexting, sending risque photos over cell phones, a big trend among teens but in some cases, it's actually a crime. We're going to have more on this growing trend. 44 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Your kids are maybe doing this? Hopefully not, but they call it sexting. Teens with cell phones that send nude or semi-nude photos of themselves over their phones. To some, it might seem harmless but Deb Feyerick is here to tell us why sexting in some cases is actually a police matter.

DEB FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And you know, a lot of teens think this is funny, a way to flirt, joke around with friends. No big deal, right? Well, sending and receiving naked images of children is illegal and once that photo of your kid is out there, it's virtually impossible to get it back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FEYERICK (voice-over): When Vanessa Hudgens's naked photos hit the Internet, the "High School Musical" star was quick to apologize. But sending nude or semi nude pictures, a phenomenon known as sexting, is a fast-growing trend among teens, one in five say they've done it. Even though it could be a crime.

PHILLIP ALPERT, CONVICTED FOR SENDING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY: You will find me on the registered sex offenders list next to people who have raped children, molested kids, things like that because I sent child pornography.

FEYERICK: For 18-year-old Phillip Alpert, the pornography was a naked photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend, which she sent to him and which he sent to friends and family after an argument.

ALPERT: It was a stupid thing I did because I was upset and tired. It was in the middle of the night, and I was an immature kid.

FEYERICK: Police didn't see it that way. Alpert was charged with a felony, sending child pornography.

GEORGE SKUMANICK, JR., DISTRICT ATTY. WYOMING COUNTY, PA.: An adult would go to prison for this.

FEYERICK: George Skumanick, Jr. is the district attorney in Scranton, Pennsylvania. After 20 high school students were caught allegedly sexting, he gave them a choice: Take classes or be charged with sexual abuse of a minor.

(on camera): Critics says these are just kids. They have no criminal intent. They're just doing stupid things. What is your response?

SKUMANICK: You can't call committing a crime fun, you know, or a prank.

FEYERICK: But that's exactly what Marissa Miller thought when she and a friend snapped pictures of themselves at age 12 wearing training bras.

MARISSA MILLER, TEEN CAUGHT IN SEXTING INCIDENT: I wasn't trying to be sexual, I was having fun with my friends at a sleepover.

FEYERICK: Marissa's mom saw the picture and said the prosecutor crossed the line.

(on camera): Possession and/or dissemination of child pornography. What goes through your mind at that moment as a parent?

MARYJO MILLER, MARISSA'S MOTHER: I was floored. She would have been the victim in this case.

FEYERICK: Miller is suing the D.A. to stop him filing charges against her daughter. As for Philip Alpert who e-blasted his ex- girlfriend's nude photo, he was kicked out of school and is now a registered sex offender. ALPERT: I've been punished for the rest of my life for something that probably took probably two minutes or less to do.


FEYERICK: Now Alpert's lawyer is fighting to get the sex offender charges dismissed arguing that child pornography laws were never meant for teen sexting. But the potential harm these pictures can do cannot be underestimated. An Ohio girl recently killed herself after an ex-boyfriend forwarded pictures she sent him while they were dating. So there is a dark side to all of this?

CHETRY: Yes, as you said, it really lies in the hands of the prosecutor and depending on how they view the situation on what you think may be harmless is not the case.

FEYERICK: And an adult looking at these pictures, very, very different than teens looking at these pictures amongst themselves.

CHETRY: Got to have these talks with your kids, too, you know.

FEYERICK: Absolutely.

CHETRY: You wish you didn't, but you do.

FEYERICK: I'm glad I didn't grow up with cell phones, let me put it that way.

CHETRY: Exactly. Me, too. All right. Carol?

COSTELLO: Me, too.

If you can't do it for yourself, for god's sake, do it for your dog. Quit smoking! That is. It turns out second-hand smoke can be hazardous to your pet's health, too. We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" for the details.

Thrills, confetti, Kate Moss. First, London gets excited about the president and the first lady. And now New York is all a buzz for a new brand new British invasion. It's 50 minutes past the hour.



COSTELLO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We've heard a lot about the dangers of secondhand smoke for you, for your kids. But to your pets' health? Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains in this "Fit Nation" report.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beth Labauve has five dogs and two cats at home, and she takes care of other people's pets for a living. But until just a year ago, Beth says she spent as much time putting her pet's in harm's way as she did taking care of them.

BETH LABAUVE, FORMER SMOKER: I smoked a pack a day for about six or seven years, and I knew it wasn't good for the pets to be around it. So I didn't smoke in the house but I did smoke in my car.

GUPTA: And when her eight-year-old dog, Otto, passed away from lymphoma, Beth worried that she might be next and wondered if she had caused it.

LABAUVE: Smoke got him. He would sneeze, and if he was in the car long enough, his coat would smell like smoke. And I tell myself that it wasn't the cause of it, but it definitely -- from what I've read, it can lead to cancer in dogs.

GUPTA: She is not alone. According to a new study from the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, about a third of pet owners surveyed were smokers or lived with a smoker and almost a third of them said they might quit if they knew it would affect their pets. Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Rudolph says smoking can affect pets in much the same way as humans.

DR. JENNIFER RUDOLPH, VETERINARIAN: We can see an increased incidence of bronchitis, asthma, allergic rhinitis, and also second- hand smoke can be linked to different types of cancer in cats.

GUPTA: As for Beth, she is now living smoke-free and both she and her pets are breathing much easier.

LABAUVE: Everything smells nicer and I feel better and can walk more and do more activities without feeling crummy. My dogs now at least have a smoke-free life and no smoke in their life.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

COSTELLO: Do it for your dog.

CHETRY: Yes, what a cutie!

COSTELLO: Well, what do you get when you mix Kate Moss, confetti and screaming young women. I don't know if I want to know! A whole lot of excitement, apparently. Shoppers spending money. We're going to show you where. It's 55 minutes after the hour.



CHETRY: We're not. After all, we're married ladies...

Yes, exactly. We're not putting on our leotards this morning. So don't worry. Anyway, well, the president and first lady go to London, they generate big buzz, but now it's our turn to get excited over something British. We're going to see what happened when something brand new from across the pond came to America. Our Lola Ogunnaike was there.


LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The confetti had hardly hit the sidewalk before these customers came pouring in, ready to spend.


OGUNNAIKE (on camera): What are you going to buy?


OGUNNAIKE: What are you going to buy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything. What am I not going to buy?

OGUNNAIKE (voice-over): More than 1,000 fashionistas trekked down to SoHo, searching for the cheap and the chic. Some even wait in line for over three hours, nothing for these Topshop fanatics. Are you excited?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Am I? I've been waiting for years for this store to open. This is like the biggest day of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the most exciting thing that has happened so far this year.

OGUNNAIKE (on camera): You have a stack already and the store has only been opened for 10 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to get in and out. I'm shaking. I'm overwhelmed. I just need -- this is too much! You're keeping me from shopping. So, you'll have to let me go.

OGUNANIKE: All right. OK.

OGUNNAIKE (voice-over): Across the pond, the chain is so popular, there is even a song about it and the flagship store in Oxford Circus has more than 20,000 visitors daily. But will it be a hit in the U.S.? This girl seems to think so.

(on camera): How much are you spending today, 100, 200, 300?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two grand, three grand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Topshop girl is young, anywhere from 12 up to 25, very fashion aware, very trendy, and looking for the latest thing. She needs that fashion fix constantly, and that is what they are very good at supplying.

OGUNNAIKE: Are you shocked that this many people turned out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could you not be excited? The first store in America. Why don't we give you a new look in the next 15 minutes and get you back here and see how we've done? Bring her around the back here, six minutes, redress her. Go on. Redress her.

OGUNNAIKE: All right. I'll be back in six minutes, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, how is that?

OGUNNAIKE: Spin me around.


OGUNNAIKE: Six minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look gorgeous!

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

(voice-over): That was just the beginning for me.

(on camera): Oh, my god. This is so funky fabulous! I'm in heaven! How cute! Little Michelle Obama? I don't know. What do you think? Too loud? How cute. Are you going to be bigger than the Beatles?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I'd like to be! That would be good.


OGUNNAIKE: Well, not quite as big as the Beatles just yet, but you would have thought that they were waiting in line for a rock show. It was packed. And I went back this weekend, still lines.

COSTELLO: I'm just -- to get like shrunken jeans and like big fur jackets.

CHETRY: Yes. We're not their demo.

OGUNNAIKE: Speak for yourself, ladies.

CHETRY: Lola Ogunnaike, thank you so much.

COSTELLO: Thank you for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

CHETRY: That's right. And meanwhile, here's CNN NEWSROOM with T.J. Holmes.