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American Morning

Obama vs. Cheney; Cheney on Terrorist Released; GM Bankruptcy Imminent?; Fuel Leak at 30,000 Feet; Dad's Plea to Wife to Return Cancer-Stricken Son; AWOL Cancer Patient's Cure Chances Dropping; Bob Woodruff Seeks Donations for Troops; Out on the Prowl: ABC to Launch "Cougar"-Themed Show in Primetime Slot

Aired May 22, 2009 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this morning with President Obama taking new hits for his terror-fighting strategy and it's coming from fellow Democrats who turned their backs on the president's plan to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Last night, the Senate approved a $91 billion bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but only passed it after lawmakers stripped it of cash needed to close Gitmo. The vote coming just hours after the president went toe-to-toe with the former vice president over Guantanamo. And President Obama blasting the Bush administration for creating Gitmo in the first place.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of serving as a tool to counterterrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that help al-Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.

So, the record's clear. Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries, by any measure, the cost of keeping it open, far exceed the complications involved in closing it.


ROBERTS: Well, no sooner did President Obama end his speech, then former Vice President Dick Cheney began his, arguing that the prison camp at Gitmo and the Bush administration interrogation tactics kept you safe at a time when America was, quote, "staring at 16-acres of ashes at ground zero in New York."

CNN's Jill Dougherty is live at the White House.

And Jill, the Obama administration has made closing Guantanamo a top priority. Once it done by January 22nd of next year, but with everything that's happening, it looks like he's sort of swimming upstream here.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's very tough. It's very complex. And, you know, in that speech, the president laid out his legal and you could even say his philosophical approach on all of this. But did it really change any minds?

After all, you had that Senate vote, following the House vote in which they are shooting down any further funds for closing down Guantanamo until the president concretely, specifically describes what is going to happen to those detainees.

Now, we did have one new thing yesterday, which was those five categories that the president laid out, different ways for dealing with different detainees. And some of them would be tried in U.S. courts he said. Others might be transferred to other countries, if those countries will have them.

But when you get to the most difficult, the complex cases of the people who he says are a threat to the United States and its citizens. It's not clear what exactly will be done with them. So that's the real problem -- John.

ROBERTS: The president also hammering away at the so-called enhanced interrogation practices. But the vice president is standing his ground. He's not backing down an inch on any of this.

DOUGHERTY: Absolutely. Totally different approach. That is a fierce debate. Let's hear some of it from yesterday.


OBAMA: I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more.

They undermine the rule of law. They alienate us from the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground. And half measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear armed terrorists out of United States. You must keep every nuclear armed terrorist out of the United States.

Triangulation is a political strategy not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned or one lead that goes unpursued can bring on catastrophe. There's no time for splitting difference. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people hang in the balance.


DOUGHERTY: So the debate continues but the man who is the president is Barack Obama, and he is the one who has to figure this out - John.

ROBERTS: Jill Dougherty for us this morning at the White House. Jill, thanks so much.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there's word the Obama administration is trying to steer General Motors into bankruptcy court. Senior administration officials are telling CNN it is likely to happen next week. But they say that President Obama still hasn't made a final decision. "The Washington Post" reporting this draft bankruptcy plan would give GM nearly $30 billion in additional federal loans.

Christine Romans has been following the latest developments on this.

We, of course, talked about Chrysler. GM was coming up against a deadline, a June 1st deadline to show we can be viable.

So what's going on?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And many of us who have been covering this company have been looking at the president's schedule and trying to figure out what's the timing look like for something like this, because a GM bankruptcy filing would clearly send shock.

I mean, this is a company that for 60 years, the mantra for the American economy was as goes GM, so goes the nation. And think of that. If you have this company in bankruptcy, you know, it would clearly be a big hit to, I don't know, at least U.S. nostalgia and the prominence of the American morale and the prominence in the history of the America's industrial base.

The president will be in Cairo starting June 4th. A lot of people were saying that they thought that maybe -- that they would try to get this done earlier. Maybe even next week, we could see them trying to steer a bankruptcy filing for this company.

So, also, a couple of things happening here. The government -- the Treasury making a big investment into GMAC. This is the financing arm of GM and now Chrysler. This is to keep money available for lender to the Chrysler dealers and to keep money available for people to buy cars.

GM has reached a deal with its union for more labor cost cuts, but there's no deal yet with the debt holders. Who are the debt holders? These are the -- the investors who own $27 billion in GM bonds. They loaned money to GM. They would like more than, you know, a few pennies on the dollar back. So that's still dispute to be worked out. But I think that a GM bankruptcy is most likely going to happen in the next couple of weeks.

CHETRY: All right. And, again, we ask what does it mean for people that own these cars or want to buy them in the future?

Nothing changes?

ROMANS: It's all -- this is just unchartered territory. You know? People have been still buying Chrysler cars. The government is guaranteeing your warranty, so that's good. We just have never been into something like this before. It's really causing a lot of uncertainty for people who work there and people, frankly, who have GM cars.

CHETRY: All right. Well, it's time for "Romans' Numeral," and this is a number that we bring you or that Christine brings you, everyday. And it's a number that is driving a story about your money. It relates to GM.

So what is your "Romans' Numeral" in this hour?

ROMANS: The number this hour is 493,000; 493,000.

ROBERTS: Number of people employed in the auto industry who would be affected if GM were to collapse?

ROMANS: It's a good guess, and a lot of people on Twitter said the same thing.

This is the number of GM retirees. They are in every state. They are actually around the world. These are the number of people who have retired from General Motors.

CHETRY: Who can get a pension.

ROMANS: And get a pension, who are probably watching us right now and cannot believe the idea that their former employer is facing a bankruptcy. This is something that is reverberating around the country, 493,000.

ROBERTS: That's amazing number of people.

ROMANS: It's a lot of people. It doesn't count the dependents.

ROBERTS: Wow. Thanks, Christine.


CHETRY: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Well, also new this morning, we're learning new details about the alleged terror plot to destroy synagogues and military planes in New York City. An attorney for one of the men says he is intellectually challenged and is on medication for schizophrenia. The other three men have all serve time for drug dealing.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin defending her decision to reject nearly $29 million of federal stimulus money tied to energy conservation. Palin claims accepting the stimulus money would require the state to push new building codes for local governments. She did, though, accept $900 million in other stimulus funds.

And a travel nightmare. At 30,000 feet, over the Pacific, you look out the window and see this.


Yes. That's jet fuel leaking out of the wing.

Find out what happened next.

It's eight and half minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: A little Sugar Ray this morning. What a beautiful, beautiful -- Mark McGrath is beautiful, too, but I'm talking about this shot. This is coming to us from WFAA in Dallas, where it's partly cloudy. Look at the clouds this morning, 74 degrees right now and a little later, it will sunny and 85.

ROBERTS: That's a very dramatic sunrise there in Dallas this morning. Terrific.

Eleven minutes after the hour.

All right. A lot of people have fear of flying. They get on an airplane and not sure what's going to happen. Bumps and, you know, the plane moves around a little bit and they got all worried about it. That's just kind of typical stuff.

But how about this? A jumbo jet losing fuel fast at 30,000 feet. You look out the window and you see it streaming from the wing. What do you do? Here is CNN's Brian Todd with who discovered it and what happened next.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Kiran.

The passenger who took this video makes it clear he's not some hero who saved more than 300 people, but he is a good Samaritan who worked with the flight crew to address an alarming situation. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): You're looking at a serious problem at 30,000 feet -- jet fuel spraying out the wing of a huge passenger jet. Not a standard fuel dump. This is a big leak. It happened on a flight from Chicago to Tokyo last month. More than 300 people on board. A concerned passenger named Bartek Bachleda took this video and took action, first trying to alert a flight attendant.

BARTEK BACHLEDA, PASSENGER: When I initially hit the call button, she thought maybe I wanted something and she said, sir, we're handing out drinks, I'll be right back with you.

TODD: He waited, realized this wasn't going to stop on its own and got her attention again. This time, he says --

BACHLEDA: She took me very seriously. She listened to what I had to say. She took the camera and she proceeded to go up front and within minutes, I believe -- I think the first officer or the captain came down. TODD: After the pilot surveyed the leak, he made a left turn somewhere over either the north central U.S. or Canada and headed for San Francisco, where the plane landed safely. Bachleda calculated they were losing about 6,000 pounds of fuel an hour.

BACHLEDA: I decided to, like, hey, if the captain does not notice before we go oceanic, meaning we do some flying over the ocean, they will -- leaking and losing that amount of fuel, this is going to be a bad day.

TODD: How did he know all this? Bartek Bachleda happens to be an Air Force staff sergeant stationed at Kadena Air Base in Japan. He also happens to be a refueling specialist. Bachleda was reluctant to name the airline in question but we were able to independently verify that it was a United Airlines flight.

Contacted by CNN, a United spokesman issued a statement saying, "Our captain was aware of the situation."


TODD: Could this plane have run out of fuel? It's worth it to look at the flight path. From Chicago to Tokyo, it's over 6,000 miles. United tells us this plane was a 747-400, which holds about 372,000 pounds of fuel. If it leaked 6,000 pounds of fuel an hour, as Bachleda says it did, it would have lost only about 20 percent of its fuel over the entire nearly 13-hour flight.

A former NTSB official tells us that plane still would have had to divert because they have to have enough extra fuel to be able to divert anywhere in the Pacific, a conceivably very vast region, or to circle at their destination.

But United says this isn't an issue because the pilot was aware they were losing fuel and there's no way this plane would have continued over the Pacific.

John and Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: Primetime reporting for us this morning.

Brian, thanks so much.

President Obama is determined to close Guantanamo Bay. Should Americans be worried about detainees being brought to U.S. prisons? We'll ask a former corrections officer about the potential threat there.

Plus, it is that important really? Calls getting louder in Washington for a nationwide phone ban on trains and buses, because people can't stop texting while they're driving. We're breaking the story down.

It's 14 and a half minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Despite opposition from his own party, President Obama has his mind set on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison. He's reassuring Americans that Gitmo detainees could be housed safely here in the United States. But many in Congress echoing the concern of their constituents at having hard-core suspects, terror suspects, here in U.S. prisons could be a major threat to the communities and also a breeding ground for terror plots.

Ted Conover is a journalist who visited Guantanamo Bay for the "New York Times." He also worked as a guard at Sing Sing, which is a famous maximum security prison.

Thanks so much for being with us, Ted.


CHETRY: So, as this debate continues about Guantanamo Bay and whether or not they could safely, some of these prisoners, be transferred here to the United States, how concerned are you?

CONOVER: You know, I understand the emotional resistance to letting these prisoners on to U.S. soil. That's a hard thing to do. But I think if you think about it in practical terms, no one has ever escaped from a federal supermax prison, which is probably where these guys would end up. And the same people who run Guantanamo Bay, most of them are military police reservists from the mainland, run the supermaxes around the country.

You know, the other aspect of this is supermaxes are all about sense (ph) of deprivation. You don't go out to a yard with your buddies. You don't sit in a cafeteria hatching plots. You're by yourself 23 1/2 hours a day. So it's extreme isolation and I think worries that this could foment a plot somehow are a little overstated.

CHETRY: That's interesting. We were hearing about this terror plot that was uncovered in New York City, where these four alleged suspects wanted to be able to try to plant what they thought were bombs at a synagogue.


CHETRY: You say you live right there, right in Riverdale?

CONOVER: Just down the block from the Riverdale temple, yes.

CHETRY: And this was foiled by the hard work of the FBI and New York PD. When some of their relatives were giving statements about it, they said they were not Muslims and that they had become converted and they were sort of preyed on in the prisons. This is what their families are alleging, that it was in the prison systems that they became radicalized. What do you say to that?

CONOVER: Well, there was that great quote from one of their sisters who said they go to jail for a little while and it's not being important, right?

CHETRY: Exactly.

CONOVER: You know, ever since Malcolm X, I guess you could say, Islamists held appeal for a lot of poor Americans and Americans in prison, you know, in a way, somehow that the Baptist Church doesn't or doesn't work. Islam somehow represents liberation. And I think it has to do with the marginal status of a lot of U.S. prisoners. They're attracted to it. I can say that as a former prison staff member.

Prisoners who are religious are not your concern. They've got discipline. They've got some purpose in their lives. It's the crazy ones who are in gangs and that's not the devout Muslim prisoners. It's kids who haven't found anything. They are the ones to worry.

Now, it's absolutely true that people like Jose Padilla, as I understand, came around to radicalize Islam in prison and started his plot there. So it's definitely possible and it's definitely something authorities keep an eye on.

But I think, you know, in the case of a supermax, it's different. You're by yourself. You do not talk to other people.

CHETRY: So when -- there is this debate going on -- because I mean, it was President Obama's own party that said they just, at this point, until they know more, they were not going to approve the funding to be able to deal with closing Guantanamo and possibly bringing prisoners here.

But what would be different in the daily lives of these terror suspects from where they are in Guantanamo to what -- to if they came to a supermax facility here?

CONOVER: You know, Guantanamo, on the island of Cuba, you go outside and you're in tropical weather when you're exercising in your cage for half an hour a day. Here, you're in Pelican Bay in northern California, you're in some, you know, supermax in Pennsylvania, you go outside, the weather is not going to be so nice.

The other inmates are not going to be so sympathetic toward you because I'm sure the majority consider you an enemy of the United States and will automatically hate your guts.

I would think there'll be a very uncongenial atmosphere for most of them. I think they'd feel extremely isolated and alone, and I think they'd have less ability to communicate with each other than ever before. I think, if anything, this will shut them down more than Guantanamo could.

CHETRY: So you don't have any reservations about bringing any of these terrorists here to the U.S. to supermax facilities?

CONOVER: I just have extreme faith in the professionals who run these institutions to do their job right. I know it will happen. And there's never been a suggestion that any of these people, upon resolution of their case, would be released into the United States, right? They are a special category of prisoner. They're unlike most who, as you know, they get released on to the streets. These people are foreign nationals. They'll be deported. So, I, myself, am not worried.

CHETRY: Ted Conover, author of "Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing." Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

CONOVER: Thank you.

CHETRY: Appreciate your point of view - John.

ROBERTS: A Minnesota mom is a fugitive from the law this morning. She's trying to keep her son away from court-ordered chemotherapy. Ahead, an emotional plea from the sick young man's father and where police think she might be right now.

And ABC newsman Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee in our CNN studios this morning, what they're hoping to do for our wounded troops this Memorial Day weekend.

It's 22 and a half minutes after the hour.


ANNOUNCER: This is "CNN Heroes."

ROY FOSTER, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: I actually joined the army right out of high school. I became introduced to alcohol once I was out. It was just simply drinking and drugging, and I would then stay in the streets. I was looking for a safe haven. The places that I were introduced to were no better than on the street. It was humiliating. That's when the commitment in my heart that was born. How can I turn my back and walk away and leave you right here?


FOSTER: I can't.

Nationwide veterans are neglected, homeless, unacceptable.

What branch of service?


FOSTER: Army. So was I. We are still brothers-in-arms, so no man left behind.

My name is Roy Foster and my mission is to help and empower homeless veterans.

If you're going to work for sobriety, you got to change. Stand Down House provides services for veterans only -- a safe, clean place to live, all the meals and to help services. It's the camaraderie. It is that internal glue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I got back from Iraq, it was difficult for me until I met Mr. Foster who helped me.

FOSTER: Tell him one of his brothers-in-arms came out looking for him and let him know, yes, we will be back. They are the best and they deserve the best. What I do, I love. I love it.

ANNOUNCER: Tell us about your hero at



ROBERTS: A live look at one of my favorite places in the world, Denver. But that's not your typical Denver day. My goodness. The place to get some 300 days of sunshine is cloudy today. It's high of 55 degrees right now. Later on today, scattered storms coming up the Front Range with a high of 69.

It's 27 minutes after the hour.

A check of this morning's top stories here for you now.

The United Nations is asking the global community for $543 million to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan. Officials there have registered 1.9 million refugees since Pakistani security forces launched a blistering assault against Taliban militants in the Swat Valley and nearby regions last month.

The Senate has given the OK for another $91 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but senators stripped the bill of cash that the president wanted to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and also added an amendment to stop the public release of photographs said to show more detainee abuse by U.S. personnel.

And remember this incredible video that we showed you yesterday? These five police from Birmingham beat this motionless man after he was thrown from a car during a car chase. And now, an attorney for the police says they were only following training because they thought the man was conscious and armed. The video is from January of last year, but is just now coming to light. All five officers were fired because of their actions.

CHETRY: There are new developments now in the case of the Minnesota mom on the run with her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son. Doctors are saying that Danny Hauser has a cancerous tumor growing in his chest. He has Hodgkin's lymphoma. Police say that Colleen Hauser headed west with the boy to avoid court-ordered chemotherapy treatments, treatments that could save his life. His father is now making a public plea to his own wife saying, please, bring our son home.

Jason Carroll has been following this emotional story for us.

And it's now turned into really a situation where time is of the essence. They have to be able to find them quickly or none of this may matter in the first place. JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And that's part of the reason why I think perhaps the father is coming out now and making more of these statements. Daniel Hauser and his mother Colleen are still on the run and his father is hoping wherever they may be, they can hear his message and listen to what he has to tell them.


ANTHONY HAUSER, DANIEL HAUSER'S FATHER: Please bring Danny home so that we can decide as a family what Danny's treatments should be. I know you're scared. And I feel that you left out of fear, maybe without thinking it all the way through. We sure can't do the best for Danny with both of you on the run, so please give me a call.


CARROLL: Well, authorities say his wife and son may be in the Los Angeles area trying to head to Mexico. The last known contact anyone had with Daniel or his mother was Monday. At the press conference, authorities promised Colleen Hauser leniency if she turns herself in.


SHERIFF RICH HOFFMANN, BROWN COUNTY, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: So if you call and make arrangements to return, please be assured that we will not take any enforcement action if you have shown good faith and effort to come back.


CARROLL: The doctors diagnosed Hauser with Hodgkin's lymphoma this past January and began chemotherapy treatment. The cancer did respond to initial treatments but did cause some side effects, prompting his parents to refuse more chemo saying they wanted to pursue natural forms of treatment.

The Hausers are Roman Catholic but also believe in Native American healing methods. Hauser's father says he still supports the family's decision to seek other alternative forms of medicine and wants what's best for his son and that, he says, is for him to come home. The doctor, who initially treated Daniel, says without further treatment, very soon, his odds of survival could plummet to just about 5 percent.

CHETRY: That's a situation the longer he goes without getting seen by a doctor, those chances, even if he does get chemotherapy, start to drop as well?

CARROLL: Right, because doctors, I guess, are theorizing the cancer could become so developed that at that point, chemo wouldn't help.

CHETRY: All right. All right. Jason, that's such a sad story. Thanks.

CARROLL: All right.

ROBERTS: A lot of us do it even though we know we shouldn't, texting behind the wheel. But now that several public transit accidents have been linked to cell-phone messages, there's a growing call for a nationwide ban on buses and trains. Kate Bolduan is tracking the story for us from Washington this morning.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bus accident in San Antonio. The trolley collision in Boston. And the tragic commuter train crash in Los Angeles, where 25 people died. Authorities say all are linked to texting while driving. And it's these images driving the debate.

Should Washington step in? The secretary of transportation says when it comes to public transit, yes.

(on camera): Is it time for a federal ban on texting while driving?

RAY LAHOOD, U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Look. I think it's time for the Department of Transportation to work with Congress on a law that bans cell phones and BlackBerrys for people who are operating buses, light rail. We're going to require zero tolerance when it comes to safety. We just have to.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Twelve states and Washington, D.C. prohibit all drivers from texting. Most mass transit agencies also ban texting or e-mailing on the job, but Secretary LaHood wants to eliminate the temptation altogether.

LAHOOD: I think they should ban the ability of employees that are driving vehicles to have on their person a BlackBerry, a cell phone so that there's no temptation to use them. They can't bring them to work.

BOLDUAN (on camera): The trade association that represents the wireless communications industry says it's also against texting while operating a vehicle, but they do point out 300,000 calls a day or made to 911 from cell phones. And one spokesman says he wouldn't want his bus driver to be without that life-saving tool.

Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.


ROBERTS: And here's a quick check of other stories news this morning. If you're still deciding on a Memorial weekend getaway, Florida International University has put out its new list of the best U.S. beaches. Number one is Hanalei Bay in Hawaii, followed by Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida, Cooper's Beach in Southampton, here in New York State, four and five, Coronado Beach in San Diego and Hamoa Beach in Maui.

Over 30 lawmakers have joined hundreds of pastors and introduced a bill in the House to define marriage between only a man and a woman in the nation's capital. It's an effort to derail a vote by Washington City Council which would recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in other places.

And wounded ABC newsman Bob Woodruff is joining us in a few moments' time. He's hoping that you'll help his cause this Memorial Day weekend. He's using Twitter to help his troops -- to help our troops, rather. How you can make his goal a reality. It's coming up on 34 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Never a bad time to hear from the Boss, especially at 36 minutes past the hour. We get a live look this morning at the White House. Clear and 62. A little bit later, it's going to be sunny and 86, shaping up to be a gorgeous day for the start of the Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C.

And welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's a time- honored tradition at Arlington National Cemetery. Soldiers from the Army's elite 3rd U.S. Infantry placing more than 260,000 flags at the foot of every tombstone. They did it yesterday. The "Flags In" ceremony has taken place every Memorial Day since 1948 to honor our fallen soldiers -- John.

ROBERTS: His is a remarkable story of strength, courage and comeback. ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff was badly hurt when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle in late January of 2006 while he was reporting from inside Iraq. Now, as the cofounder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, he and his wife, Lee, are resorting to Twitter to help raise money for injured service members, vets and their families this Memorial Day weekend. His program is called "Tweet to Remind."

Bob and Lee join me now. Good morning to you. It's great to see you.



ROBERTS: It has. It's been a couple of years since we've run into each other.

B. WOODRUFF: Yes. I remember seeing you in Kuwait...


B. WOODRUFF: ... at the invasion...


B. WOODRUFF: ... and several times since then.

ROBERTS: Yes. How are things with you these days? B. WOODRUFF: Well, it's a lot better than it was, I don't know, three years ago, two years ago, a year ago. There's been a huge improvement over time. It's, you know, pretty darn close to back.

ROBERTS: Are there still difficulties at times?

B. WOODRUFF: You know, just -- there's still some memory problems, a little bit. Some words. But other than that, you know, I was able to think through everything just like I did before.

ROBERTS: Yes. And continuing to improve as well?

B. WOODRUFF: Oh, yes, yes. And still, my wife stuck with me, too. I don't know. No divorce yet.

L. WOODRUFF: For now, at least. For now.

ROBERTS: That's a good thing.

L. WOODRUFF: Just keeps getting better.

ROBERTS: The sparkle in the eyes is back, you know? The one thing I always knew when I saw you, everybody remarked about Bob was the sparkle in his eyes. And I noticed that a little bit of that had gone, but it's back now, so that's great to see.

B. WOODRUFF: Yes. Yes.

ROBERTS: So, tell us about this program for Memorial Day, "Tweet to Remind," Lee.

L. WOODRUFF: Well, we're harnessing the power of Twitter and Facebook and whatever else we can, the Web site as well, to garner some help from all Americans. And the question really is, if somebody risked their life for you, would you give them a dollar?

And I think that's an easy answer. Because while we're going to go barbecuing and swimming and whatever we're going to do this weekend, thousands of men and women are in Iraq and Afghanistan for us. And so, we're asking every American to give $5.25 because Memorial Day is 5/25. It's the date. So, the goal is to raise $1.65 million, $1 for each of the people who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And you can do it by Twittering. So, when you go to, sign up, $1 or whatever you pledge through PayPal comes to our organization.

ROBERTS: So, that's how you do it. You've got a Web site set up, People go on. It's like pledging to any charity?


B. WOODRUFF: Yes. You know, there's an economy thing going on right now. ROBERTS: Yes.

B. WOODRUFF: You know, certainly to give $5.25. And also you include so many people in the country, other citizens. This is, you know, largely what I think a lot of us learned from the campaign of Obama. You know? he started to collect this from so many millions of people on just small amounts of money.


B. WOODRUFF: And it's kind of an interesting thing, so more people learn about what is happening with the injured.

L. WOODRUFF: You know, I mean, Bob was making the point yesterday, and I think it's true. The old way of fundraising, where you, you know, slap on a black tie and, you know, pay $500 and go sit somewhere, which is a wonderful way to fundraise, but it's not very democratic. But this way, everybody can give a tiny little bit and help these folks who have sacrificed so much and come home wounded.

ROBERTS: You know, about a month and a half ago, I interviewed President Clinton, and his global initiative, because he can't get those massive funds from overseas sources that he used, he's turning to that model now, too. Lots of donation, small increments, but a large number of people.

B. WOODRUFF: You know, I think if one person's life is improved, those that have come back from the war with injuries that are visible or invisible, then this is all completely worth it.

ROBERTS: So far, your foundation has doled out more than $4 million. Where does that money go? How is it helping? Who is it helping?

LEE WOODRUFF, CO-FOUNDER, THE BOB WOODRUFF FOUNDATION: All right, my turn. Yes, you do enough talking on TV.


L. WOODRUFF: We support, right now, 36 different organizations around the country. We didn't want to reinvent the wheel. There were fabulous little groups in communities doing great work in terms of rehabilitation, retraining, supporting the caregivers who are helping, especially those that are bedridden, amputees. And we're doing everything from taking care of scholarships for brain injured Marines, universities, to building homes for the homeless. There's a wonderful little camp in Texas we support that helps the children understand what's happened to dad? Why is mom different?

So we look at all of these organizations and we make grants to them. And we incent them and invest in these organizations because we have the power to attract the money, they're the ones who are doing the boots on the ground work.

ROBERTS: And there's such a huge need, too. The Pentagon estimates 360,000 returning service members have got some form of traumatic brain injury. And we know the massive brain injury you, too, Bob, that you had. Rain (ph) Corporation estimates 300,000 service members who've got some form of psychological dysfunction as a result, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety. The Veterans Affairs hospital system says it's treated 8,000 people for brain injury.

There seems to be a discrepancy in the numbers.

B. WOODRUFF: Well, you know, this is what I mentioned before about visible versus invisible. And now this is the kind of war that more people have survived than they ever did in previous wars, because of not only better helicopters, but certainly better doctors, nurses and certainly, the technologies.

ROBERTS: Yes, you wouldn't be here if it weren't for their advances...

B. WOODRUFF: Yes, they said, five years earlier, had I been in this, I would not have survived.

But as they're coming back, you have long-term rehabilitation that's needed for those coming back. And a lot of things to identify these kind of things. Certain PTSD, traumatic brain injury. I mean for me it was easy. You know my -- I had 16 centimeters in my skull removed, so you could see that was I was injured. But some of them come back with explosions or maybe having seen some kids die or others suffer through this, and they're going through certainly - there's also stigma. They don't want to really necessarily want to be identified with something like this.

So now they're being questioned as they go in, studied before they go in, and when they come out from these multiple deployments. And as we're learning more about that, we have numbers that are a lot higher than we ever heard about before and certainly wasn't the official numbers when the war was going longer than we thought.

ROBERTS: Well, it's terrific work that your foundation does.

So don't forget, this Memorial Day weekend, tweet to, get on there, sign up, pledge a certain amount of money for each tweet that you send out this weekend or maybe just like, as you said, Lee, a lump sum of $5.00.

L. WOODRUFF: Yes, and if you're not a twitterer, just go to the website,, and you can make a donation.

ROBERTS: It's all terrific work. Thanks so much for coming in. It's great to see you again, both of you.

B. WOODRUFF: Great to see you, man. Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Take care. Continued success.

L. WOODRUFF: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Lee - Kiran. CHETRY: Still ahead, the price of gas has been on a steady climb lately. With the holiday weekend here are we going to all get a shocking surprise at the pump? CNN Money Team is taking a look this morning on how high the prices may go.


CHETRY: A beautiful shot of Seattle that we're going to see. I didn't mean to come out of myself and say beautiful!


ROBERTS: Well, it would be a natural, though, wouldn't it? Everybody else says it, so why not you?

CHETRY: Hey, we were supposed to see a beautiful shot of Seattle where it was clear and 57, partly cloudy and 70 later.

ROBERTS: We could have gotten a lovely shot of you blowing your nose, too, but we didn't, though.

CHETRY: Yes, I have the mask.

Anyway, Gerri Willis joins us now, because we are going to be seeing an explosion on the roadways of cars, people traveling. More Americans are expected to travel by car this holiday season, actually 2.7 percent more than last year. That's 27 million people. And even though gas certainly wasn't as high as it was last year, it's jumped 30 cents a gallon just over the past month.

So, personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here. She's trying to help us out a little bit. Telling us what we can expect on the road and also how to get to your destination - we love this - paying less money and also fewer headaches.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Right, exactly. So we've got a lot of ground to cover here.

And if you need to put the mask on, just certainly go ahead, Kiran.

Look, given the fact prices are rising at a rate a penny to a penny and a half a day each day the last few days, we have seen prices rise into the $2.40 range about a little over today's national average of $2.39 a gallon, that's according to AAA.

The good news? AAA isn't expecting gas prices to rise too much for the rest of the summer, certainly nowhere near last year's levels of more than four bucks a gallon. We spoke to Troy Green there. He told us that he would be surprised if prices hit $3.00 a gallon this summer, because the recession, of course, is constraining demand.

Remember though, that prices usually go up over the holidays and during the summer. The question is just by how much. To find prices in your area, go to, and will text message you with the lowest prices in your area so you can compare prices on the road.

CHETRY: That's great. So trying to save money on gas, of course. Another thing is people want to know - wish they could have real-time knowledge of the road conditions.

WILLIS: You can.

CHETRY: What should I avoid and what should I do so I don't caught in, you know, add an extra hour to my trip because of traffic?

WILLIS: Well this is - some really great Web sites here that I want to show you that will help you do just that. First off, will generate a free triptik, click on their "Triptik Planner," which is, to say, travel directions that show you historic bottlenecks on your route. Then you can use their route modification tool and design a way around the mess.

Check out the federal highway administration's website, that's, to find out conditions along your route, including commuter forecasts and where the tie-ups are. At this site you can also hook up with live traffic cams to see what's happening now.

Finally, to get an estimate of your total gas costs, go to -, and click on the gas price calculator. You'll need to know your car's fuel efficiency to actually do the math there.

CHETRY: All right, it sounds good. A lot of web sites and we'll link them to our so you can use some of these travel tips. Hopefully, make it easier if you decide to get on the road.

Gerri, thanks for being with us.

ROBERTS: Dot dot dot gov.


WILLIS: It is.

CHETRY: Department of Transportation.

ROBERTS: There's a hopeful new development this morning in the fight against swine flu. Why elderly Americans may have an advantage against the H1N1 virus.

It's 49 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: A lovely shot of Kiran blowing her nose this morning! Oh, no, that's Seattle - sorry - where it's clear and 57 right now. Partly cloudy with a high of 70 degrees today. Looks like it's going to be a very nice day up in the northeast.

CHETRY: Well, at least something is clear. ROBERTS: New developments this morning with the swine flu outbreak. We're testing Kiran as we speak. There's hopeful news for older people this morning, they may actually have an advantage against the virus. We're paging our Dr. Gupta. Our chief medical correspondent is here in New York.

So, what's...

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a protection for older people, John, and she's healthy and you're not? What does that say, John?


CHETRY: You love it.

ROBERTS: It says you are in the dog house, my friend.

CHETRY: And I also love that you'll go to Mexico, you'll be right there at ground zero, but you won't sit next to me on the set.

GUPTA: In some ways, you are more dangerous, actually.

Well, this is interesting, because we're learning more details about the swine flu every day. And a big question that has been coming up is do we have any native protection against this thing? And the answer is that, for a long time is, we don't know. But we're starting to find out that if you test people in different age groups, you'll find that, in fact, they do seem to make antibodies to this particular flu virus.

Take a look there. These numbers may not mean a lot to you, but on the left column under the age of 18, 0 percent; middle column, which is 18 to 64 years, between 6 percent and 9 percent; and the right column, greater than 60 years is about 33 percent. So they make some antibodies to this particular swine flu.

Now it's hard to say what that means. We do know that if you look at the demographics of people who are getting swine flu, older people do seem to be protected. So it could be that they were exposed at some point in their life to something similar or they got a vaccine that offers some protection. We don't know what the answer is.

Let me just point out something else that I think is possibly really good news. And that is that this woman named Doris Buker (ph) who has been a woman responsible for helping develop vaccines in the past, thinks that she has found the perfect virus upon which to make a vaccine. That's been the first step in this whole process, they haven't found that. She says she's sending something over to the CDC. We're going to follow that because that might be the answer to a vaccine.

ROBERTS: Do you think we're in a downturn of the swine flu cases now? Is it too early to say? GUPTA: It's a little bit early to say. But I think, across the country, of you look at a couple of metric, one is that the number of ER visits, the number of doctor visits overall starting to go down. It's sort of different in different parts of the country. So, for example, here in the northeast, we are still seeing some upturns in cases, you know, by ER visits and doctor visits, but if you look in green around the rest of the country, that represents downturns in cases.

So I think, overall, we're going down. The yellow areas are sort of more stable, but overall, I think, heading downward.

ROBERTS: Yes, we'll see what happens come fall.


ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks very much. Have a great weekend.

GUPTA: Thanks, John.

CHETRY: Good to see you. Have a nice Memorial day weekend.

GUPTA: You too, get healthy.

CHETRY: I'll try.

Still ahead, we're going to lighten things up before we say good- bye.

From a cable reality show to prime time TV, everybody is now talking about the cougar phenomenon. This is older women dating younger men. Our Carol Costello is looking into the growing fascination behind it.

It's 55 minutes past the hour.


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

More older Americans are turning the tables on an old cliche of older men dating younger guys. But they're now known as cougars, older women who go after younger guys. The phenomenon has hit movies, reality TV and now cougars are coming to one networks primetime lineup.

Our Carol Costello is on the story from Washington.

I have to tell you some of our viewers this morning writing in on Twitter. One wrote, "Sure women won't take offense at 'cougars' as long as guys don't take offense for the term 'manwhore.'"

You have to love our viewers. Her words, not mine.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll get to more of your comments that you will love a little later. But you're right. Brand new on ABC this fall, "Cougar Town." It stars Courtney Cox as a 40-something woman on the prowl for sex with a 20-something man. Some say, yea, finally a show about an older, sexually liberated woman. Others hate the word 'cougar' and what it says about women who think they're sexually liberated.

I'm just saying -- maybe it's time to sink our teeth into the cougar phenomenon and see it for what it is -- or isn't.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Our pop culture has gone cougar crazy. From skits on "Saturday Night Live"...


COSTELLO: ... to websites like It defines cougars as, "... women in their forties who smoke, drink and ... go to clubs to pick up young men in their twenties."


COURTNEY COX, ACTRESS: What the hell is that?


COSTELLO: That definition so defines ABC's new show, "Cougar Town."


COX: You like crackers with peanut butter on them?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hope it's not too forward coming over here.

COX: This isn't really how I roll, OK so -- holy crap.


COSTELLO: There are some who say this kind of thing, this cougar craze is liberating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Emotion comes with maturity. Younger men don't have that. You don't want that, necessarily. You probably had it, done that, want good sex. As I'm older, he's older than me, six years older, I'll just trade him in for a new model, a younger version. Why not?

COSTELLO: Hey, it worked for Demi Moore. Except Moore has a real relationship. Some say the type of cougarism in reality shows like "The Cougar" is predatory and desperate.

As Rebecca Traister writes on, "Is it possible that ... women who embrace the term, "Cougar" don't know they're being laughed at?"


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: After I bawd him an Oreo McFlurry, he told me I was 21 and I took him home. Three weeks later, I found out he was 12 1/2.


LINDA KAPLAN THALER, BRANDING EXPERT: I'd like to see the word cougar be reserved for wild animals and cars.

COSTELLO: Linda Kaplan Thaler says, maybe it's time women demanded the word cougar be changed to "sophisticat" -- that way, May- December romances will become accepted for what they ought to be -- loving relationships.

ABC, are you listening?


COSTELLO: OK, so more comments from our viewers.

This is from Karen. She says, "I think that the widespread use of the word cougar... is another way to disparage and keep the status down for older sexy powerful women."

This from Becky, "Even though I don't find 'Cougar' offensive I have for years been sick of strong, self-confident women being defined as... 'hormonal; and men considered 'strong' and 'in-charge'."

And Kiran, this from Christian, he says, "I'm a 21 year old and I have dates 3 women in their late 30s... By the way, Kiran Chetry is beautiful. I'm in love!"

Except, Kiran, since you're under 40, you're a puma, which is a cougar in training.


CHETRY: Oh, goodness! But my husband is eight years older than me, so I'm always going to be the young lass. That's the beauty of marrying an older guy.

COSTELLO: Isn't that true?

CHETRY: No matter how old I get, he's always eight years older. Although, I think I'm ready - no, I'm not.