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American Morning

Search for Missing Air France Jet Under Way; Abortion Doctor's Killer's Past Reveals Mission to Kill; Test Case for Sotomayor, Court to Consider Reversing Discrimination Ruling?; Obama Heads to the Middle East

Aired June 02, 2009 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome. Glad you're with us bright and early on this Tuesday, June 2nd. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you, I'm John Roberts. Thanks for joining us on the "Most News in the Morning."

Following several developing stories this morning. We'll be breaking them down for you in the next 15 minutes.

This morning an urgent search under way for a Paris-bound Air France jet that vanished while flying into thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean. Right now, there are new clues into where the flight with 228 people on board may have gone down.

A murder suspect's chilling past. New details about the man charged with gunning down a Kansas abortion doctor. He may have had an eye for an eye anger toward those doctors performing abortions. We're live in Wichita today with the developing story.

And a possible test case for the president's Supreme Court nominee. Will the current justices reject Judge Sonia Sotomayor's ruling in a case alleging reverse discrimination? We're digging deeper on that for you today.

CHETRY: We begin, though, with a developing story. And right now, American spy satellites are searching for Air France Flight 447 more than 24 hours after air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane high above the Atlantic Ocean.

There are still no sign of the plane, no wreckage, no blip on the radar. All 228 people onboard, including two Americans are feared dead. But this morning there are new clues that may offer some insight into where this plane went down.

CNN's Paula Newton is live in Paris with more on what she's learning this morning -- Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And good morning, Kiran. You know, more hours of agony coming up for friends and relatives that are set up here in two crisis centers. They are very happy to learn that at least the search area has been narrowed down after one pilot reported seeing burning wreckage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON (voice-over): For more than a day now, planes and ships from Brazil, France, and parts of Africa have been searching for Flight 447 and still nothing. The commercial pilot flying over the area has offered new clues, possibly spotting burning wreckage, and that could at least narrow the search.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): A TAM Airlines flight saw many orange points in the ocean.

NEWTON: Across two continents and beyond now, relatives try to take in the grim details. As they were comforted by the French president in Paris, he offered little hope.

"I told them the truth," he said, "that the prospect of finding survivors is quite low."

Luis Carlos Machado (ph) had a friend on the flight. He says he panicked the minute he checked his voice mail that they're stepping off another flight.

"I landed from Milan," he said, "and had three voice mails. The first saying a plane had crashed. The second saying no survivors, and the third saying my friend was on the flight."

Stories of those who are now feared lost are starting to emerge. Although majority were Brazilian or French, there were more than two dozen nationalities on the flight, including an American Devon Energy employee Michael Harris and his wife, Ann.

While the starting point in this investigation has been thunderstorms in the area and the violent turbulence that seems to have hit the Airbus 330, that alone could not explain the sudden plunge into the Atlantic. Experts say a controlled landing is possible but unlikely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you had engine failures and you ran the airplane out of gas and still had good control of the airplane, there's a reasonable chance you could land in the ocean although at night in, you know, in heavy seas, it's tough. So that would be a problem. But again, we don't know exactly what happened to the airplane. It appears that it was relatively quick.

NEWTON: Quick and a single word used over and over now, catastrophic. Piecing together what happened to Flight 447 will now be a painstaking task as the search and recovery continue.


NEWTON: And what's going on now as you mentioned, Kiran, with these American spy satellites, now they have a more narrow field. They are hoping to get some kind of signal. And it is crucial, Kiran, you know, normally at this point in an investigation, you would have more information. Simply there is none forthcoming. Air France telling us they don't even have a press conference scheduled for today -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes. When you hear about the ocean depths in that area, there is a big chance that they may never find this wreckage.

Paula Newton for us this morning. Thanks so much.

Here's more right now on the track record of the Airbus A330-200 in an "AM Extra" now. This jet was first launched in 1995. There's only been one deadly accident involving the model and it was back in 1994 during flight testing of the aircraft.

Right now, there are currently 600 in service with 82 airlines around the world. Northwest and Delta have 11. U.S. Airlines has nine of them in operation.

And on average, planes are hit by lightning about once a year. Rarely though does it lead to catastrophe thanks to modern protection systems in place. So what might have happened to Flight 447?

In less than 30 minutes, we're going to be talking with aviation expert and commercial pilot John Lucich.

ROBERTS: We're learning more this morning about the man suspected of killing a Kansas abortion doctor in cold-blood. 51-year- old Scott Roeder is scheduled to make his first court appearance today in Wichita.

Authorities say he gunned down Dr. George Tiller at church on Sunday. Roeder has a history of protesting at abortion clinics and a criminal past to boot.

This morning we're live at the ground in Wichita, Kansas following all the developments there. Ed Lavandera is there for us this morning. He's live.

Good morning, Ed. What are we learning today?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, we're outside that courthouse in Wichita, Kansas where Scott Roeder is expected to make his first court appearance here later today. But authorities across the state between Wichita in Kansas City are trying to piece together more about the life of Scott Roeder and what drove what they say to make this killing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please get some information.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): For years, Roeder was a regular at abortion protests like this one. And CNN has learned that the day before Dr. Tiller was killed, a worker at a clinic in Kansas City says Roeder was chased off after trying to blow (ph) the lock shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He hit us in 2000, the same thing. He's a regular at our clinic. I know him by face.

LAVANDERA: It's a cause that his ex-wife who didn't want to show her face says Roeder had grown obsessed with. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, SCOTT ROEDER'S EX-WIFE: He was determined that if the abortion doctor killed the baby, then he didn't have any right to live either. It was justifiable.

LAVANDERA: She says he had made plans before. Police arrested Roeder in 1996 after finding explosives in his car. His ex-wife says he intended to blow up an abortion clinic.

At the time, police said he also had links to the Freemen, an anti-government group out of Montana. At his sentencing, the judge called him a threat to the community and scolded him for trying to live by his own laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Citizens must conform their conduct to what's been written in the law, not what freedoms they choose for themselves.

LAVANDERA: Roeder spent 16 months in prison and eight months on probation before the conviction was thrown out on appeal. Roeder's family says he has a long history of mental illness and his ex-wife described him as self-righteous and capable of murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, SCOTT ROEDER'S EX-WIFE: I think I knew that if he snapped, if he went that far that he could actually do it.

LAVANDERA: She described a man who put his beliefs above all else, even once spending family money on a gun instead of heart medicine for her. An old landlord said Roeder's view seemed extreme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been exposed to a lot of different, you know, religions but I'd never been exposed to the point of view that was so full of hate.

LAVANDERA: Two years ago someone using Roeder's name posted a threatening message on the Web site of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. It said, "Bless everyone for attending and praying to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of the death camp," he wrote. And he also asked, "Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tiller's church (inside, not just outside).


LAVANDERA: And, John, we've also learned that two days before the murder of Dr. Tiller Friday night in Kansas City, Roeder's wife said that he insisted on taking his son to see the movie "Star Trek" and taking his son to dinner. The family now says they believe that that was his way of saying goodbye -- John.

ROBERTS: Chilling case there. Ed Lavandera for us this morning. Ed, thanks very much.

CHETRY: Also new this morning, supporters of same-sex marriage have an unlikely ally, former Vice President Dick Cheney. Speaking at the National Press Club yesterday, Cheney said he's in favor of gay marriage but that it should be up to the state to decide.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Freedom means freedom for everyone. And as many of you know, one of my daughters is gay, and something that we've lived with for a long time in our family.

I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish. The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statute that governs this, I don't support. I do believe that historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. This has always been a state issue and I think that's the way it ought to be handled today, that is on a state-by-state basis. Different states will make different decisions, but I don't have any problem with that.


CHETRY: Dick Cheney's position appears to put him to the left of President Obama. He supports civil unions rather than marriage for same-sex couples.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney also weighing on President Obama's plans to close the Guantanamo prison. Cheney said the only alternative to holding some of those suspected terrorists indefinitely would be to execute them.

Also this morning, there's a new "USA Today"/Gallup poll out showing Americans' attitudes toward Guantanamo Bay and the prisoners being held there. Americans by more than two-to-one say Gitmo should not be closed and by more than three-to-one say the detainees should not be moved to prisons on U.S. soil.

Defense Chief Robert Gates says the U.S. could end up spending more money on missile defense next year. Gates says North Korea's missile tests over the past week have attracted more support in Congress for missile interceptors. He's requesting nearly $1 billion in the 2010 budget to develop and maintain those missile interceptors. Gates says that for now, it's enough to protect the U.S.

It's 10 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Just in time for the summer driving season, are we going to see gas prices on the rise again? Stephanie Elam joins us in a couple of minutes.

Meantime, it's 12 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning."

It's the end of a long international custody battle. A New Jersey father expected to arrive in Brazil this morning for a long- awaited reunion with his son. A Brazilian court ruled that David Goldman's 8-year-old son, Sean, should be returned to him tomorrow. Goldman's wife took their son to Brazil when he was 4, never came back to the U.S. She then divorced him and remarried, but later died. Exposing young kids to television has its price, at least according to a new study that the more time babies and young toddlers spend in front of the screen, the more their language development suffers. Researchers found parents zoned out while watching TV with their children barely talking to them and they say as a result, babies who watched a lot of TV know fewer words.

The U.S. military is taking its Afghanistan mission online to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Officials say the multimedia is aimed at delivering an unfiltered view of the war from troops on the ground and establishing a dialogue with people around the world that are interested in operation enduring freedom. The military's Facebook page already has some 5,000 followers after just two weeks of testing and its official launch Monday -- John.

ROBERTS: Kiran, Supreme Court nominee Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be on Capitol Hill today meeting privately with Senate leaders who could decide her fate. In the meantime, the current justices will be judging Sonia Sotomayor in a different way when they consider her ruling in a racial discrimination case.

CNN's Jason Carroll is digging deeper on that, and he's here with us this morning.

Good morning, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, you know this case and you know it very well. It's left bitter feelings really on both sides.

It centers on a group of firefighters. Judge Sotomayor's ruling on the case heavily criticized by some. Now legal experts are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will reverse the ruling and what effect that may have on her confirmation.


CARROLL (voice-over): It was a controversial decision. As an appellate judge, Sonia Sotomayor siding with the city of New Haven, Connecticut throwing out results of firefighter promotion exams because none of the black applicants qualify. Some white firefighters say it was a case of racial discrimination.

Matt Marcarelli says he worked hard to do well on the test, but it was a hollow victory.

MATT MARCARELLI, NEW HAVEN FIREFIGHTER: It was robbed from me on the basis of my race.

CARROLL: Marcarelli may still get his victory. Some legal experts are predicting the Supreme Court will overturn that ruling if only to allow the white firefighters' lawsuit to continue.

TOM GOLDSTEIN, CO-FOUNDER, SCOTUSBLOG.COM: It's either going to be a very close five to four, or the Supreme Court's ruling is going to be relatively narrow and it's going to say, we don't know who wins or loses in this case. We just think you need a harder look at the evidence.

CARROLL: Even if the high court reverses the ruling, it won't be the first time a Supreme Court nominee wound up in that kind of spotlight. John Roberts and Samuel Alito both had cases pending before the high court when they were just being considered. All nine justices came up through the appeals courts.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: All appeals court judges have their opinions reviewed by the Supreme Court. And most appeals court judges at some point have their views overturned by the Supreme Court.

CARROLL: Attorney Tom Goldstein has argued 21 cases before the Supreme Court and examined Sotomayor's legal record.

GOLDSTEIN: She has had 3,000 cases while on the Court of Appeals and has gotten reversed in only a handful or so. And that's a pretty good record.

CARROLL: For Sotomayor, it may be more of a problem of timing.

TOOBIN: The Supreme Court may reject her interpretation of the law just on the eve of her confirmation hearings. That could be embarrassing. It probably isn't enough to sink her nomination, but it's not something that she wants.

CARROLL: If Sotomayor is confirmed, she is not likely to alter the ideological balance of the high court. She knows all of the justices and joining them is not expected to be a difficult adjustment.


CARROLL: Well, some legal experts say if you look at Sotomayor's record, she has a history of by eight to one rejecting discrimination claims and favoring employers, in many situations citing with judges appointed by Republican presidents. And in terms of the Supreme Court, you know, John, you might be hearing something from them this week.

ROBERTS: You know, and as Jeff Toobin pointed out, really nothing out of the ordinary here when it comes to cases being heard. Coming up from the lower courts, it's just all a matter of timing.

CARROLL: Exactly.

ROBERTS: All right. Jason, thanks so much.

CARROLL: All right.

ROBERTS: Sixteen and a half minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." It's 19 minutes, almost 20 minutes past the hour now. We're going to give you a quick check at the a.m. rundown, stories that are coming up in the next few minutes.

President Obama is heading overseas today, ahead of a big speech to the Muslim world on Thursday. Candy Crowley is going to be looking at what the White House hopes to accomplish and some of the potential pitfalls.

We also get the lowdown on lightning and severe storms in the skies. Is it something that you need to worry about on your next flight?

Also, the safest place in the world. You know where it is? There's a brand new study out this morning. Zain Verjee is going to break it down for us.

ROBERTS: Iceland was the safest place last year. We'll see what place is the safest this year.

Stephanie Elam "Minding Your Business" here this morning. You might have noticed when you go to fill up at the pump that it just takes a little more of a bite out of your wallet than it was just a few weeks ago.

And yet the economy is still in the tank. So what is going on?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Exactly, right. And I know a lot of people have noticed the slight uptick in gas prices.

But if you take a look at it before we get all upset, it's not as bad as it was last summer. Remember that $4.11 a gallon national average we're looking at last year?

CHETRY: But that was the worst.

ELAM: The worst, but we're not there. Sometimes you need to put these things into perspective. That's my job, right? I've got to make everyone calm down.

Since January 1st, though, gas prices are up nearly 55 percent. So take a look at it right now.

The average, $2.52. Last month, it was $2.07. A year ago, $3.97. Again, that perspective there to give you that.

But, today, we did see our 35th increase in a row in gas prices so you take a look at that and you're going to say I'm noticing that gas prices are up nearly 23 percent. That is true.

But here's the thing. AAA doesn't really expect to see gas prices going up to more than $3 a gallon, and there's a few reasons why.

It's not only demand that's spurring this drive up in gas prices right now. Also keep in mind before summer, we always see gas prices go up because that's when people are driving, right? It's a holiday. You've got the kids in the back. You've taken off to go see grandma. So as long as there's no geopolitical tensions and as long as there's not a big, huge tropical storm, things should stay way more moderate this year than last year. Also, crude oil prices, they've been ticking up. A lot of people looking at commodities and investing in that because of the fact that they think the economy is going to start to recover. The dollar has been weak, so some people putting their money into commodities, and that's like crude oil, gasoline. That's why you see that go up.

CHETRY: So it's just -- it's merely speculation then.

ELAM: Yes.

CHETRY: Because as you said, demand isn't necessarily up.


CHETRY: But the prices are.

ELAM: Right. A lot of the speculation about gas prices, oil prices, crude oil. And it typically happens so --

ROBERTS: You noticed that there was a long list of "as long as" that she just cited.

CHETRY: Right.

ELAM: Hey, June 1st, that's when hurricane season starts. If something happens down there in the Gulf of Mexico, then we need to be concerned. But as of now, no. But it just started.

ROBERTS: As long as.

ELAM: Blame the messenger (ph). But yes, as long as.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Steph (ph).

ELAM: Sure.

ROBERTS: General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but President Obama showed confidence that the company can reemerge. And our viewers have been sounding off with some ideas of their own.


CATHY, ILLINOIS (via telephone): I totally blame the unions. When they're making $35 an hour, the companies can't afford these things. So they do go overseas where they do have -- can pay a cheaper price and the unions can't get in.

JOE (via telephone): They want to sell these $30,000 vehicles to people making $8 an hour. It's never going to happen. For this to work, they have to lower the price of the cars to the point where the common working person is making $8, $10 an hour to afford to buy these cars.

PAUL, NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): American carmakers are not keeping up with the times and thus they have died with the times.

ROBERT, FLORIDA (via telephone): GM, they're so worried about going out of business. I wonder if they're just as concerned about making a product that isn't a piece of crap.


ROBERTS: In the meantime, we would love to hear from you. Call our show hotline, 877-MY-AMFIX. Sound off on the GM story or anything that's on your mind. We'd love to hear from you.

Coming up on 24 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Twenty- six minutes past the hour. In just three minutes, what happened to Air France Flight 447? There are some new clues this morning.

Meantime, this afternoon, President Obama leaves for a trip to the Middle East. His first stop, Saudi Arabia.

He'll then give a speech in Egypt Thursday designed to help mend U.S. relations with the Muslim world. He'll also lay out his vision for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. But what can the president really expect to accomplish in this war-torn region? Here's Candy Crowley.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kiran and John, the president's Cairo speech is intended to emphasize the commonality of interest between the U.S. and Muslims. But any way you look at this, it's an uphill climb.


CROWLEY (voice-over): If you listen on the streets of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, you understand the enormity of expectations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything in life needs to change between Americans and the United States and the Middle East, especially between Arabs and Muslims.

CROWLEY: President Obama's speech in Cairo Thursday is another in a series of efforts to do just that -- reset the U.S. relationship with Arabs and Muslims.

HISHAM MELHEM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, AL ARABIYA: But definitely it's creating a more conducive environment in the Arab and the Muslim world for a different beginning, for a different page. And I think that's why millions of Arabs and Muslims are going to watch every word he utters in Cairo on Thursday.

CROWLEY: They wait to hear the president's words on the areas most intractable problem, the Arab-Israeli conflict. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to deliver a message of reassurance of that peace (ph) in the Middle East, fair and balanced peace (ph) between us and the Israelis.

CROWLEY: It is not just about Ramallah, it is key to the entire region. This from the heart of Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): His speech is for bringing the Palestinians and the Israelis together. We wish that he will be fair with the Palestinian people.

CROWLEY: Experts think in his speech, the president will in some way affirm the U.S.-Israeli relationship but continue to pressure Israel to stop all construction in West Bank settlements. They do not believe he will ignore, however, the Arab side of the peace equation.

STEVEN COOK, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The president as is his will is likely to hold the mirror up to the Arab and Muslim world as well and suggest to them that incitement, the kinds of things not recognizing Israel's legitimate right to exist in the Middle East.

CROWLEY: The speech is not just an outreach to Muslims and Arabs, it's for the folks back home. In a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 21 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslim countries. More than twice as many, 46 percent, have an unfavorable view.

Better relationships could mean a more stable oil supply for the U.S. and maybe diplomatic backup while dealing with Iran, but far more than that.

MELHEM: The radicals, the anti-American groups, are using the festering, long-festering Israeli-Arab conflict to mobilize support and to whip up anger and resentment against the United States.


CROWLEY: But even a whale of a speech which the president is certainly capable of giving can make much of a dent. In addition to low U.S. opinion of Arab countries, a new Gallup poll shows only one in four people in the Arab world approve of U.S. leadership -- Kiran and John.

CHETRY: Candy Crowley, thanks.

Well, we're coming up to half past the hour right now. A check of our top stories.

South Korea's news agency says that the North is preparing to test three to four more medium-range missiles. Reports also say that Pyongyang has moved what's believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile to a base near China. Meantime, there's word that Kim Jong-Il has told North Korea's diplomatic mission that his 26- year-old son Jong-un, his youngest, will be the nation's next leader.

This morning dozens of students and teachers from a school in northwest Pakistan are free. The group was abducted by the Taliban yesterday. Pakistan's military says that soldiers manning a checkpoint rescued the group opening fire on the militants.

And the man arrested in connection with the fatal shooting in a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas faces a court hearing today. Police say the suspect is a Muslim convert and he had "political and religious motives." He faces murder and terrorism charges.

One soldier was killed. Another wounded in the attack. Authorities are saying it appears to be an isolated incident -- John.

ROBERTS: Developing this morning, the search for Air France Flight 447 and the search for answers this morning. The plane with 228 people left Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night bound for Paris. But about four hours after takeoff, something went drastically wrong. We know that the flight experience some heavy turbulence. Also, sent out an automated message of a number of electrical faults that had occurred on the aircraft. Air France speculates that the plane may have been hit by lightning. But these jets are designed to withstand lightening strikes.

So what could have potentially happened?

Commercial pilot John Lucich joins us now. So, as we said, there are plenty of examples of aircraft getting hit by lightning. We've got video of it happening. And there's no detrimental effects to the aircraft, what could potentially be the difference here?

JOHN LUCICH, LICENSED COMMERCIAL PILOT: Well, I believe that the only insight we have right now of these automated messages that are generated by an onboard computer. Now that computer is called the Centralized Maintenance Computer, that's onboard the Airbus 330. It's designed to monitor crucial flight systems and to send text messages back to the carrier using the ACAR system.

Now the ACAR system is a satellite link called the Aircraft Reporting and Monitoring System. It's a protocol that actually sends all this data in small, easy-to-understand messages.

ROBERTS: So what can you glean from the messages as you know them at this point?

LUCICH: Well, when we see that -- I believe that what has been reported so far was the fact they had electrical system failures. I also read that there was a decompression of the airplane.


Yes, a decompression of the airplane. A lot of this has to be confirmed yet. But experts are going to have to take a look at what was going on with the airplane.

You know, somewhere down the road, I'd actually like to see the CMC, the Centralized Monitoring Computer, used for something a little bit different like, almost like a live black box, cases where it might be very difficult to get this back. Wouldn't it be nice to know that little messages were sent back, if it last long, every ten seconds, once it started searching?

ROBERTS: Some constant streaming telemetry.

LUCICH: Exactly. So we know exactly to narrow that search grid right down to it if you get help to them a lot quicker.

In addition to that, what the aircraft is doing at the time this malfunctions occurred.

ROBERTS: Well, let me zero in on this decompression idea. Would that suggest that an electrical fault in the pressurization system or might it suggest a breach in the airframe?

LUCICH: It could suggest both. But whatever happened, I believed happened catastrophically. Very, very quickly. A lot of the experts are saying the same thing because these pilots did not have a chance to radio anything back to anybody. And it was instant loss to communication, which is typically not what goes on in a storm.

If you take a look at back at the history, nothing has brought down an airplane like this since the 1960s. So this is really, really anomaly. I have no doubt in my mind this was not brought down by lightning. The airline is designed to take strikes and to dissipate that electrical charge off through static wicks that go along the trailing edge of the wing and the tail.

ROBERTS: As I said, you know, there's a video right behind you, there's a picture right behind you of an aircraft. It was an Australian aircraft that got hit by lightning. And you can see the lightning just goes right through it and goes back to the ground. There's the video right there. And just no detrimental effect to the aircraft since they started, as you said, manufacturing this aircraft, able to dissipate the lightning through the outer skin of the aircraft. Not affecting the electrical systems.

If this aircraft did go down and there's some evidence that there may have been some fires seen on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. And if it broke up in midair, the wreckage is going to be strewn over a large area.

The water -- I took a look at a map of the Atlantic Ocean floor, the water in that area is anywhere between 9,000 and 15,000 feet deep.

What are the chances of ever finding the wreckage?

LUCICH: Well, from what I read about the airbus 330, it has three ELTs on board.

ROBERTS: Emergency Locator Transponders?

LUCICH: Yes, absolutely. And what they do is they emit a transmission signal over an emergency frequency of 121.5 to be picked up by any aircraft in the area. From what I understand, the type that are onboard can go into very deep water. How deep is yet to be determined. I hope they find this airplane, because we really need to know what went on. Because it is a weakness in any system or in any aircraft, we need to know that. And I'm not saying that there is.

ROBERTS: They found TWA 800 quite quickly off of the coast of Long Island. That was only in a 100 feet of water. So recovery efforts definitely would somewhat more complex.

LUCICH: There are a lot of witnesses and was right off the coast. This is in the middle of the ocean.

ROBERTS: We're also trying to find if the U.S. Navy might get involved, too. I hope to find out some more on that later on.

LUCICH: I hope they do.

ROBERTS: John, it's great to see you. Thanks so much for coming in.

LUCICH: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thirty-five minutes now after the hour. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's now 38 minutes after the hour. Let's take a quick look at the AM rundown. The stories coming up in the next few minutes.

Lisa Ling talking to us about her sister, a journalist now jailed in North Korea and going on trial this week.

Plus, the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Is the gunman the only guilty party? Or critics who publicly slammed the doctor for performing late abortions also at least partially to blame?

And the search for thousands of dollars. It disappeared from that lifeboat after Navy SEALS took out three Somali pirates who are holding Captain Richard Phillips hostage? The very latest on where it could be, coming up.


CHETRY: There's a new study suggesting that the global recession has led to more violence and political instability around the world. So which countries are the most dangerous? Which are the safest? The information is brand new this morning.

CNN's Zain Verjee has the story from London.

Hey, there, Zain. So, when we're talking about hotspots, where are we most in danger right now around the world?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: We've been spending a little time counting some of the costs, Kiran, of war and peace. And as you mentioned, new reporters has just come out saying essentially that the worldwide recession is having a major impact around the world. There's a lot more instability. People are out demonstrating. Governments are becoming more unstable. High food prices. And inaccessibility to food has also led to instability in countries around the world.

The economic instability and demonstrations were really some of the factors they considered. But the key countries here, the least peaceful countries at the bottom was Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.


CHETRY: Where did the U.S. fall in this analysis?

VERJEE: Well, the U.S. actually went up just a few spots since last year. Right now, they're at number 86 out of 144 countries. So it's still pretty low down. But the report says that they consider things like access to weapons, a large U.S. prison population, the fact that the U.S. is militarily engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. And those are some of the reasons that the U.S. wasn't actually higher up on that list.


CHETRY: All right. So what is the safest or most peaceful country?

VERJEE: Have you ever been to New Zealand, Kiran?

CHETRY: I'd love to go. It's quite a trip from here.


VERJEE: Well, that's -- that is the most peaceful country this year. Last year was actually Iceland, but they got knocked off because of their major economic problems. But little facts about New Zealand, Kiran, in case you do plan a trip there over the summer. It actually means land of the long white cloud. You can see clouds like that as far as the eye can see.

"Lord of the Rings" was actually filmed in New Zealand. If you ever went bungee jumping, it came from New Zealand. And it was also -- it is also the first country in the world to see sunrise. So good day for New Zealand, plan a trip. But --


CHETRY: How wonderful. And I do have -- some of my Nepalese relatives actually live in New Zealand so I have a place to stay as well.

Zain, thanks so much.


ROBERTS: I actually had a chance to go bungee jumping in New Zealand several years ago.

CHETRY: How was it?

ROBERTS: It was great. Amazing. Amazing time.

The families of two American journalists detain in North Korea are making public pleas for their release. Laura Ling and fellow reporter Euna Lee go on trial on Thursday on spying charges.

Last night on "LARRY KING," Lisa Ling's spoke about her sister's treatment by the unpredictable North Korean government?


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Do you have any idea how they're being treated?

LISA LING, LAURA LING'S SISTER: Well, Swedish diplomats have now seen them three times. In fact, we just, as we were flying here today, heard word that the Swedish ambassador was able to get in and see them for the third time. And he says that they look healthy and I talked to my sister once.

KING: He talks to you?

LING: He actually sends word through the State Department.

And I talked to my sister once. And when I asked her how she's been treated, she said, I'm being treated fairly. And for that, we are truly grateful. But, by the same token, she also said that she is -- is terrified. She's extremely scared.


ROBERTS: Ling and Lee were reporting on the flight of North Korean defectors living along the border of China and North Korea when they were taken into custody. That was back in March.

It's 42 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Forty-six minutes now after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Let's fast forward to some of the stories that will be making news today. After a full day at the White House, President Obama departs this evening on an overseas trip to the Middle East and Europe. His first stop, Saudi Arabia. The president will deliver a major speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, Egypt on Thursday.

At 9:30 this morning Eastern Time, the Senate Armed Services Committee hears testimony on the nomination of Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, who's been tap to take over command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

And throughout the day, members of President Obama's administration will be visiting communities hit hard by the faltering auto industry. They'll be meeting with local leaders and workers to discuss federal resources that are now available to them.

And, of course, GM bankruptcy, Kiran, is something we'll be talking about today.

CHETRY: Yes, absolutely. We're going to talk to the CFO of General Motors. Ray Young is going to be joining us in about 30 minutes. And we'd like to hear what you want to ask him as well. I've been getting some very interesting tweets. Some good questions like -- are you still going to sell trucks? Are you going to be making them in China or in the United States? What's the backup plan so that taxpayers don't have to go through this once in a generation? A lot of good questions coming from our audience. So or

ROBERTS: All right. Looking forward to all of that.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, it's 46 minutes past the hour.

Our Rob Marciano is joining us right now with a look at extreme weather across the country.

Hey, Rob.


CHETRY: No, because it's been so cool, at least up here in New York. When you open the windows, it's 66 degrees. Doesn't feel like the beginning of summer.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Enjoy. It will be hot and humid pretty soon.

ROBERTS: It will be 95 tomorrow.

CHETRY: You never know.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Rob.

A quick look now at some of your A.M. Pics. Some of the great still shots out there this morning.

Dinosaurs not only ruling the earth, but the sky outside the children's museum of Indianapolis. Workers there installing two life- size brachiosauruses. The mother is about 50 feet tall. The child, 30 feet long. That's a big baby.

The space shuttle "Atlantis" getting a piggyback ride home to Florida. It departs at Edwards Air Force Space in California yesterday. Atop a modified 747.

CHETRY: That's an expensive little jaunt.

ROBERTS: Yes. A little bit of a jaunt home there. Yes, the one that eats up a little bit of coin.

And if you ever missed the train you know the frustration. But look at how they handled things in India. Riders there torched a train to protest a decision to skip their stop. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Remember that the next time you're on the bus and you're pushing the little bells saying, I want to get off. I want to get off.

CHETRY: Exactly. Or, you know, when you're waiting on the subway platform and it's not your train. It just zooms right by.

We don't set it on fire, though.

ROBERTS: No. Hopefully, not.

CHETRY: We try to contain ourselves.

It's 48 minutes past the hour.


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

We've seen it all too often. The emotionally charged debate over abortion leading to violence. Police say the man suspected of gunning down Dr. George Tiller acted alone. But did anti-abortion rhetoric also play a role?

Our Carol Costello is live in Washington this morning with that part of the story.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. You know, there's no doubt, Dr. George Tiller had become the public face of late-term abortions, procedures done in the second trimester. The kind of procedure that evoked extreme emotion in an already emotional debate.

Some say a long vicious war of words hastened Tiller's death. Others say it was the act of one unbalanced man.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Hundreds gather to mourn Dr. George Tiller, a man they called caring and loving. There is anger here, too, at the man who allegedly physically killed Tiller and at those who they say demonized him.

ELEANOR SMEAL, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION: To those who stir up the pot and then now they say they feel sorry, well, I'm sorry, they bear some responsibility for having demonized him unfairly, ridiculously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Tiller known as Tiller the Baby Killer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiller is executing fetuses. COSTELLO: Liberal blog sites like the Daily Kos agreed, pointing a finger of blame at Fox talk show host Bill O'Reilly who's debated for years whether Tiller should be allowed to practice.

RANDALL TERRY, OPERATION RESCUE: George Tiller was a mass murder.

COSTELLO: Others who support abortion rights point the finger of blame at abortion opponents like Randall Terry who founded Operation Rescue, and often lead protests at Tiller's abortion clinic.

TERRY: And George Tiller was a murderer and he was doing something that was literally demonic. So how can you not demonize something that is so intrinsically evil?

COSTELLO: Terry says he doesn't condone killing abortion providers, but says Tiller's death shouldn't preclude telling the truth. Criminologists we talked would say it's unlikely words alone could drive someone to kill, and until we know more about the accused killer, it's best not to speculate. But many anti-abortion groups are clearly on the defensive.

Frontline Pregnancy Centers issuing this statement: "Violence against abortionists is not pro-life." And the National Right to Life unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation.


COSTELLO: Cynthia Gorney who wrote a book on the abortion wars says these groups are likely truly sorry Tiller has been killed. It's the last thing the anti-abortion movement wanted to happen.

GORNEY: They're going to get a huge backlash against Right to Life. You're going to get a lot of people now saying, see, those people are all crazy. They all advocate violence.


COSTELLO: And on his show last night, Bill O'Reilly said this, and I quote, "60,000 potential human beings were aborted by the man who made millions of dollars doing it. To me that's unconscionable." And O'Reilly went on to say he has a right to express his opinion. It's a free country.

ROBERTS: All right. Carol Costello this morning. Carol, thanks so much.

We're learning a lot more about the suspect in the shooting of Dr. Tiller, by the way. We're breaking that down for you in about 10 minutes with our Ed Lavandera. He's in Wichita, Kansas this morning.

And you can read more about Carol's story on our show blog. Go to CHETRY: We all know about what happen at the "Maersk Alabama" taken by pirates and then rescued by Navy SEALS. Well, now, $30,000 missing from that lifeboat.

Where did it go?


CHETRY: A look at the inner machine this morning. Our control room. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

There's a developing story out of Washington right now. The Navy is launching an investigation to figure out how $30,000 disappeared during the rescue of the crew of the "Maersk Alabama" and its captain, Richard Phillips. And this cash apparently vanished after the three Somali pirates were shot to death by U.S. snipers in that lifeboat.

Chris Lawrence is at the Pentagon.

So what do we know so far about where this money was and where it might have gone, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you look at what the U.S. government is accusing this one pirate of the money was taken from the "Maersk Alabama" by these pirates. It was onboard that lifeboat that Captain Phillips was rescued from. And now they don't have it. So the big question is -- what happened to this $30,000.

So let's take you back now. Remember, this is a situation where the pirates are onboard this lifeboat. They have Captain Phillips hostage. The Navy SEALS then shoot and kill these pirates, and then rescue Captain Phillips.

Now here are the items that were listed as recovered from that lifeboat, rifles, a handgun, artillery, cell phones and handheld radios. So it begs the question, what happened to that $30,000 that is not listed there? The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has open an investigation to find out just that. They'll be talking to the crew of the "Maersk Alabama" and the Navy SEALS who rescued Captain Phillips.

CHETRY: Wow. I mean, it's a touchy situation. People hailed as heroes, you know, for being able to take out the pirates, rescue the captain, and what is -- you know, is a potential here for what? That it was stolen by those SEALS? I mean, do they even know if the money was still onboard the lifeboat?

LAWRENCE: That is a question, Kiran. And, again, the NCIS is just very, very thorough. They're not making any accusations at this point. This is just a case of who may have had contact with that money at any point. Who may have knowledge of what happened to that money at any point. So they're just going down the road, just crossing -- crossing the Ts, dotting there is.

But, again, if you look at the criminal complaint, which is what the government is accusing this one pirate of, they're saying that the pirates took the captain, the one pirate put a gun to his head, led the captain to the safe onboard the "Maersk Alabama," took $30,000 out of the safe and then distributed to some of the other pirates. So it's the government saying that this money was stolen. That there is $30,000 out there. And now, it's the government saying they don't know where it is.

CHETRY: Wow. All right. Chris Lawrence keep following that for us. Very fascinating story for sure.