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American Morning

Mystery Space Plane; Burning Oil Rig Sinks; "Join Us, Don't Fight Us"; Eye On Porn, Not Economy; Talking About Bad Girls

Aired April 23, 2010 - 08:00   ET



KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Glad you're with us on this Friday, April 23rd on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks so much for being with us.

And here are the big stories we're going to tell you about coming up in the next 15 minutes.

Not quite a UFO but the Air Force is not saying much about what it just sent into space, the mystery plane, kind of like a baby shuttle now orbiting the earth on a top secret mission. We're following developments live from Pentagon -- just ahead.

CHETRY: And storm chasers keeping very busy in Texas, three tornadoes touching down in the state. A powerful system and it's certainly not done yet. Rob Marciano is tracking the extreme weather and the impact it could have on your weekend plans.

ROBERTS: And a disaster in the Gulf of Mexico after that burning oil rig sinks. Eleven workers are still missing. And this morning, crews are standing by should hundreds of thousands of crude oil start leaking into the gulf.

And, of course, the amFIX blog is up and running. Join the live conversation going on right now. We want to hear from you about what's in the news this morning. Just go to We'll be reading some of your comments in the next hour.

CHETRY: Well, a mystery, unmanned space plane operated by the U.S. military is now orbiting the globe. It's a secret Air Force project. It's the X-37B space vehicle launched last night from Cape Canaveral in Florida. It looks like a baby shuttle. But what is it?

Well, that's classified. Military officials saying very little about what they sent into space and also, what it will do up there.

Barbara Starr is following developments live from the Pentagon this morning with more on what it could be.

Hey, Barbara.


Well, it all looked very cool last night, didn't it, that launch from Cape Canaveral down in Florida. But nobody is saying what this secret Air Force project is all about.


STARR (voice-over): It's a military mystery. What is this? Is it an aircraft? Is it the next generation space shuttle? And why is it such a secret?

This is the X-37B, a classified Air Force project that's never been fully explained by the Pentagon but it hasn't stopped the speculation. Some worry this is the beginning of military operations in space, that the plane might someday carry weapons to shoot down enemy satellites.

VICTORIA SAMSON, SECURE WORLD FOUNDATION: They're also concerned it may be used as a quick response, sort of, a vehicle where it could be launched very quickly, be sent over the planet to dangerous spot very quickly and then release weapons at that point.

STARR: In a recent meeting with reporters, a top Air Force official said, no way.


GARY PAYTON, AIR FORCE DEPUTY SECRETARY FOR SPACE PROGRAMS: I don't know how this could be called weaponization of space. Fundamentally, it's an updated version of space shuttle kind of activities in space.


STARR: Unlike the reusable space shuttle, the X-37B is unmanned. But it's much smaller and it's controlled from ground stations. It can stay in space for 270 days. But the Air Force won't say how long it is staying up this time or what exactly it will be doing other than testing out its high tech systems. The Air Force won't even say how many billions of dollars it's spending on the program.

SAMSON: We don't know why it is classified. You can't find out how much it is in the budget.


STARR: You know, the Air Force has been interested for years in developing some kind of space vehicle that it can send up into orbit and bring back down to Earth and send up over and over again to use. They don't want to say what they are going to use it for -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. The mystery continues, but pretty cool. Thanks, Barbara.

ROBERTS: Also developing right now, what could be an environmental disaster in the making, the burning oil rig sinks into the Gulf of Mexico, spreading (ph) crude oil that makes for miles. At the same time, rescuers are continuing their search for the 11 people missing since Tuesday's explosion.

Our Ed Lavandera is live in New Orleans for us this morning. Ed, the Coast Guard not holding out much hope that any of those 11 will be found alive at this point?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's s, indeed, the case, John. That is the sad news here this morning, although they do say they will send out crews again here first light. We presume that has already been launched to go search that area and continue searching that area. But as you mentioned, there's very little hope in finding those 11 people alive. The concern will focus mainly today on the environmental impact of this disaster.

Right now, what officials say they are dealing with is a one mile by five-mile wide sheen made of crude oil makes the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. But what they really want to know is what's going on 5,000 feet below the water's surface, and that the point where this oil well comes out of the earth's surface into the bottom. They're not exactly sure but they're saying that there's no oil being discharged into the Gulf of Mexico.

But it's still very early. The Coast Guard officials here say that this still has the potential of becoming a very serious environmental oil spill.


REAR ADM. MARY LANDRY, U.S. COAST GUARD: I am saying there is no crude oil at this time leaking from the oil well. There's no crude oil leaking from the riser that is adjacent to it. However, we are in a very forward-leaning and robust response posture should we have any kind of leakage, we will be ready to respond.


LAVANDERA: And, John, what they're trying to figure out right is that these rigs or these oil wells come with something that's called a blowout preventer, something that would cut off the flow of oil from coming out from the oil well. They don't know if that was turned on and essentially shut off or if it's the debris that has collapsed on top of the oil well that is prevent the oil from seeping out into the Gulf of Mexico. That's what they're trying to assess. They have underwater vehicles trying to assess that, as we speak here this morning.

But, of course, the concern will be the coastlines of Louisiana and Mississippi. So far, state officials say there's no threat of state waters being affected by what they've seen so far this morning. But as you heard Coast Guard officials here this morning, John, say, that could change. So, they will be continuing to monitor the situation intensely throughout the rest of day -- John.

ROBERTS: Ed, you know what the potential environmental impact out there in blue water, you know, where the tuna, the marlin, the sailfish, the Wahoo run?

LAVANDERA: Absolutely. And we've spoken with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. And that is a major concern for them, even given the conditions that we're dealing with right now. This is an area that is a very big for tuna fishing and commercial fishing, specifically. So, that will be impacted. It would be more severely impacted if all of this crude oil continue -- were to spill at hundreds of thousands of gallons a day. That could make matters much worse.

ROBERTS: It sure would.

Ed Lavandera for us this morning -- Ed, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Well, for those who prefer to run toward tornadoes instead of away from them, it was a very busy night in the town of Goodnight, Texas. Take a look at this video. You're going to be looking at one of three twisters that touched down the Lone Star State yesterday. And this one actually drew quite a crowd.

ROBERTS: Yes. Two other storm chaser or two storm chaser teams actually running into one another just a few hundred yards from the tornado. That system is still backing quite a punch this morning.

Our Rob Marciano is in the extreme weather center.

A lot of people, Rob, in for some rough weather today. And what was amazing about the storm chaser video is that one group was looking at another group that was right close to the tornado saying, "Hey, those guys are nuts."

MARCIANO: Yes. That's it. That's not the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is.

But they were all out yesterday for us. First real good severe weather day and it was good. We got some storms in pretty remote areas. So, nobody got hurt.

Hopefully, that continues today and tomorrow because we have this storm that's going to continue to stretch off to the east -- and as it does so, severe weather is certainly in the forecast.

Here is the low, itself. The back side of it has some cold air and some snow winter storm warnings posted actually. But right where that is is where all the action was yesterday.

The energy out ahead of it is where the focus is going to be today. You kind of see that line falling apart as it moves across Dallas. That will re-fire later on this afternoon and tonight. The bull's eye on the northern Louisiana, Arkansas, stretching into the mid south and then Saturday into the southeast -- Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, parts of Tennessee, and also Kentucky would be under gun. Moderate risk out of the storm prediction center, we haven't seen that all year with the exception of yesterday for both today and tomorrow.

So, severe weather outbreak continues right now. All is quite. But as they recharge the atmosphere, things will begin to pop later on this morning.

John and Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right. Bob, thanks so much. We'll continue to follow it for you.

Meanwhile, the president slamming is Wall Street for risky business. Any fallout? We're going to talk about the what-ifs and the Florida Senate race as well. Our Candy Crowley joins us up next.

Ten minutes past the hour.



ROBERTS: President Obama speaking directly to Wall Street, pushing for reform, saying, "Don't let it happen again." But there was also another audience back in Washington, the Republicans.

CHETRY: That's right. The new bank measures could come up for a vote in the Senate as early as Monday.

Our chief political correspondent and "STATE OF THE UNION" host, Candy Crowley, joins us from Washington.

Great to see you, Candy.


CHETRY: So, it was interesting to take a look at the president delivering a speech on financial reform, just blocks from Wall Street. And now, it looks like bipartisan leaders are close to a deal on the legislation.

Is this proving to be a lot easier than the heated health care debate?

CROWLEY: Well, for several reasons -- I'm not sure they'd say it is easier, but I think there's certainly a much greater chance that there are going to be more than one or two Republicans who sign on to this. But almost in the Senate can turn out to be not at all, very quickly. So, I think before we get too far and think that there is going to be a deal, we have to wait and see.

But there's a much greater chance here than there was for health care, I think, for a couple of reasons. First of all, running up into the election, we've heard some advice from sort of elder statesmen in the Republican Party saying, we can't just be the "party of no." We have to have other proposals out there. We have to be seen as advancing things. So, there is part of that in this.

There is also, I think, you're always going to get 30 to 33 Republicans that are going to vote no on things from the Democratic side. And then, you have those others, eight to a dozen who are doable, who are persuadable, if they can get some things that they think makes the bill more palatable.

Add to that, the Democrats have to have at least one Republican because they can't get to that magic 60 number unless they find a Republican willing to go along. So, if they find one, they're likely to find more. So, I think that there are a lot of things that go toward, there's going to be something they are going to be able to call bipartisan, although, it will be probably all Democrats and some Republicans.

The other thing is, if you're looking at the polling and you want the American people to see you on the side of either Wall Street or Main Street in an election year, generally, Republicans and Democrats want to be on the side of Main Street. And that's how this is being framed quite well actually by Democrats.

ROBERTS: Yes. Candy, so, as you mentioned, the Democrats need to peel off at least one Republican. At the same time, the flip side of that coin, Mitch McConnell has to keep all 41 Republicans on his side of the fence. But as you suggest, there's kind of, you know, caught between a rock and a hard place if you're a Republican. You either vote for a bill that's going to upset a constituency, and that's the financial services industry, or you don't vote for a bill that a lot of your constituents want to see because they're angry at Wall Street.

CROWLEY: Right so, and, but we should also remember that this bill, in the making of this bill, there has been a lot of talk between the White House and some Republicans, between Democrats and some Republicans. I think that it is not all that coincidental that there has been one person who personally, the Democrats have gone after in recent days. The president in his radio address made a remarkable assault, I thought, on Republican leader Mitch McConnell saying he is cynical, he's not telling the truth about what's in this bill.

We saw the same thing from Democratic leader Harry Reid yesterday, playing clips of things that McConnell said, and you know, sort of calling him out on it. It is pretty tough stuff. So they are definitely going for putting that wedge in between. And now McConnell has said, look, I want a bipartisan bill. I want them to work with us. So he has kept his options open. But very definitely, you have seen the Republicans kind of go after trying to put Mitch McConnell to the sort of far Right, the "Just Say No" crowd and try to bring in some Republicans that they think Democrats seem to have been more reasonable.

CHETRY: all right well let's switch gears. You are talking about one of the most closely watched senate races that's getting even more dramatic this week. You have former vice president, Dick Cheney, supporting Marco Rubio, in the Florida Senate primary. Rubio was a favorite in the tea party. Meanwhile, his rival, Governor Charlie Crist, this is what Cheney said about him, he cannot be trusted to remain a Republican. Now there's a lot of speculation that Crist might actually run as an independent so that he can get to the general election. What does it say about the current state of the GOP?

CROWLEY: Well it says that they are still having a struggle. And, listen, inside every party that is not in power, there is always a struggle for the identity. There is always an identity crisis. And the identity crisis here is, do we remain true blue, sort of have this quote "purity test?" Do we get back to all the conservative values and sort of push away those people that don't agree on everything or are we going to have sort of a big tent moderate. Remember Charlie Crist was the fave.

I mean, I was talking to our political editor, Mark Preston. Neither he nor I could remember somebody who has taken as big a fall as Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida has, in this senatorial Republican race, so quickly without a scandal being involved. This is a flat-out free-fall for Crist, and who as you say, is now thinking about running as an independent, thereby we think probably giving the Democrat in the race more of a chance when we get to the general election for the U.S. Senate seat.

So, it's a fascinating race. It says the Republicans are still struggling. You are going to see this play out in other races as well. And the key will be, come November, when people go into the voting booth, will those who lost in the primaries be at the tea party back candidates or the more moderate Republicans. Are they going to back whatever candidate comes out of the primary or are they going to sit home?

ROBERTS: So what's "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday?

CROWLEY: Well we are going to talk a little financial reform because that seems to be percolating, probably still will be by Sunday. But also, we want to talk politics, because it is beginning to sound a lot like an election year out there.

So let from Georgia, Robert Mendez from New Jersey, a Democrat and a Republican to talk about the politics of things. And I also sat down with Governor Jennifer Granholm in Michigan. I was up there the other day. So I had an interview with her, sort of broad ranging with Michigan's affairs, as well as, the general state of the Democratic party.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

ROBERTS: We all want our Candy. And be sure to catch Candy Crowley on "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

CHETRY: Thanks, Candy. We'll be watching.

ROBERTS: All right, SEC staffers watching porn while the economy crashed? What you say? Christine Romans has got the story coming up next.

CHETRY: It is also the 15th anniversary of the pill. The impact on American life over the last 50 years and what has changed in the American family. Nineteen minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: Yes, we get a little crazy on Friday mornings.

CHETRY: Is it Friday already?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Already, we slowly crawled through this week and now we are here.


CHETRY: It seems like yesterday we were doing the martini bump and all of a sudden it is yesterday again.

ROBERTS: Time flies when you are having fun I always say.

ROMANS: I guess so, I guess so.

ROBERTS: And speaking of having fun.

ROMANS: You guys aren't going to believe this one.

ROBERTS: We are saying, are they watch dogs or horn dogs over there at the SEC

ROMANS: This story is incredible, it's going to make you so mad, you almost can't believe it. But there is an inspector general report obtained by CNN that shows 33 investigations over five years of 33 individuals at the Securities and Exchange Commission as the world was falling apart and the alarm bells were ringing in the economy, they were surfing porn on your dime and your time.

Seventeen of these employees were at the senior level. About half of the people investigated by the SEC made between $99,000 and $223,000 a year. This report lays out the cases in particular, boys and girls. A senior attorney at the headquarters in Washington, D.C. who spent eight hours a day downloading porn, in fact, filled up the hard drive and had to start filling boxes full of DVDs and CDs to keep all of that porn at hand.

ROBERTS: Are all at the same time billing the government?

ROMANS: Working for the government. A senior attorney who works for the government. So not looking --

ROBERTS: Oh, so they are on salary?

ROMANS: Oh yes, not watching Bernie Madoff. Watching God knows what. Let me give you just another one, a regional accountant who 1,800 times tried to download porn on her SEC laptop?


ROMANS: Her --

ROBERTS: Oh, tried?

ROMANS: Two week period, she ended up saving 600 pornographic images on the hard drive. And another accountant was blocked from sex sites more than 16,000 times in a month. And I say --

CHETRY: That can't be right.

ROMANS: I say, how can you even try?

CHETRY: How can you even get in your computer 1,600 times in a month?

ROMANS: He must have been searching for a certain word. And I'm not going to -- I don't know what kind of words these could be but searching for the words and then you get all the searches and try to click on them rapidly until you get --

ROBERTS: Do you know if they were actually consuming this porn or were they involved in investigation?

ROMANS: It was the actual consumption -- that was an interesting -- the actual consumption of porn and this accountant in particular ended up getting around the internal SEC blocks by using Google images. Not that I am giving anybody any tips.

CHETRY: No, so I want to ask you one question --


CHETRY: I mean the bottom line is it is outrageous and makes for a good story.


CHETRY: But do you think if they weren't suffering for porn, they would have been able to still catch -- I mean if they weren't doing this, would they have caught the financial meltdown?

ROMANS: Good question.

CHETRY: Would they have caught the Bernie Madoff scheme --

ROMANS: We were just discussing this, maybe they would be online shopping. Maybe they all be -- I'm not sure --

CHETRY: You are right.

ROMANS: It doesn't matter what they were doing --

ROBERTS: You mean anything other than doing their jobs.

ROMANS: Right they should have been doing their job. And that's the other thing, I want to make a quick point.

CHETRY: If you were LLB, you wouldn't be doing this story right now.

ROMANS: You are right. But they would be very well dressed and they have free return policy. Thirty six hundred full-time employees at the SEC. So if it is 33 people over five years, you can do the math. I found one survey that said -- and I don't -- just one survey, that said maybe 16 percent of adult men surf for porn online, John.

CHETRY: Why are you saying John?

ROMANS: Because he is an adult man. He is one of those people, you know, sorry John.

ROBERTS: I remember accidentally going to one day instead of


CHETRY: Yes, it happen all 1,600 times -- until he realized that it wasn't the right Web site.


ROMANS: Anyway, all I'm saying is, I don't know if it happen more than once but at the SEC, I'm just saying --

ROBERTS: Well wait a moment, we want to make sure the time that you actually logged on to and went, whoa slam.

ROMANS: That's true, I don't want to mention that --

CHETRY: That was also for a story -- Levi Johnston.

ROMANS: This is news gathering.

ROBERTS: And then that same day, Kristy Hefner, who was live busted me for going on to do some research on Levi Johnston.

CHETRY: Some research.

ROBERTS: And I went -- oh my God.

ROMANS: What's the name again --

ROBERTS: It's everybody else who logged on --

CHETRY: You might want to check to see if this guy actually broke a Guinness Book of World Records for 1,600 times in a month.

ROMANS: I'm sorry, eight hours a day, senior attorney, making 200 grand on with the SEC, come on, that's just ridiculous.

CHETRY: Agreed.

ROBERTS: All right, Christine Romans, "Minding Your Business" as we continue to control the gutter this morning, a curious social trend among women and young girls, a celebration of being drunk and tough. What is it all about? Carol Costello has got a Gut Check coming right up.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It is 30 minutes past the hour. Your "Top Stories" coming up.

But first, an "A.M. Original," something you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING. A bad girl's world, these days apparently, from out of control teens to these "Real Housewives" reality shows.

ROBERTS: The picture after picture of stumbling, thumbling celebrities, so how do you tell your young daughter that reality TV isn't really, well, real at all? Carol Costello has our Friday Gut Check. Hi Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the problem, John is some say reality TV is reality. And that's a bad thing. There is a curious social trend going on. And it involves women, young and not so young. You might call it a dirty girl culture, a celebration of being rude, crude, and sometimes very, very drunk.

So, should mothers worry?


COSTELLO: Dirty girls, they are crude and sometimes violent, like the potty mouth tween in the movie "Kick Ass," and the popular comedian, Chelsea Handler, whose raunchy sex talk and love of alcohol has fueled three bestsellers.

Just ask pop star, Keisha, whose hit song celebrates promiscuity and drinking until you pass out in a stranger's bathtub.

While it may be just a catchy dance tune, a clever movie, and a funny schtick, is it something women need to worry about it?

SUSAN GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: Now there's seems to be this strange, it's like a hazing ritual or a badge of honor. How drunk can you get, how bad can you behave, how close to the edge can you go? I don't get it.

COSTELLO: Giles says it is if girls are celebrating the worst of frat boy behavior as a way to female empowerment. And if you ask some young women, that is exactly it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, definitely. It is women trying to challenge men, for sure.

COSTELLO: When it comes to binge drinking, experts say, sadly, women are up to the challenge sadly. According to Southern Illinois University, in 1996 33 percent of women admitted to binge drinking or having five drinks in one sitting in the past two weeks. In 2008, that percentage shot up to nearly 41 percent.

That's disturbing to feminist editor, Jaclyn Friedman. She says women having fun or making stupid mistakes is one thing, but adopting destructive, raunchy behavior is scary.

JACLYN FRIEDMAN, EDITOR, "YES MEANS YES": When it comes to sexual assault, most rapists use alcohol to facilitate sexual assault.

COSTELLO: So do we need to worry, or is this just entertainment? Experts say that's something parents ought to ask their daughters about.


COSTELLO: We wanted to know what you thought this morning. We asked you to send a comment to our blog in the last hour, And we got a lot of response, John. Kiran had to dash off because she wants to close her eyes to this reality. I understand.


ROBERTS: She can't stand it.

COSTELLO: I hear her in the background. She can't.

I am going to read some of these blog comments. This is from Gail. She says "The perception of dirty girls is male wishful thinking. It is a perversion of what men want and not what real women are."

This is from Constance, an attorney. She says, "I will put on my skinny jeans and rock my stiletto heels," but she does demand respect. "Partying is great," she says, "but preserve your reputation."

This is from Laura, my favorite comment. Are you ready, John?

ROBERTS: I'm ready for it.

COSTELLO: She said, "I enjoyed the dirt girl thing myself until I didn't. Now, I enjoy alcoholics anonymous."

ROBERTS: All right, that's a good way to go. Carol Costello for us this morning with another provocative gut check. Carol, thanks so much.


ROBERTS: Time for this morning's top stories.

A mystery spacecraft on a military mission. It is now orbiting the planet. The unmanned test vehicle, the X-37B blasted into space last night from Cape Canaveral in Florida. It is carrying a payload of experiments the Air Force is keeping tightly under wraps.

One catastrophe triggering another in the Gulf of Mexico -- a burning oil rig seeking into the ocean now triggering fears of a potential ecological disaster. Thousands of gallons of oil were pouring into the open sea.

And take a look at this mile-wide twister that touched down last night in a lake in Kansas. No damage done, no injuries reported, but some pretty spectacular pictures.

In Texas, there was so much severe weather that storm chasing teams were running into each other a few hundred yards from this massive twister. It was in Goodnight Texas, one of three tornadoes to touch down yesterday. Kiran?

CHETRY: John, thanks.

It's was 50 years ago that a reproductive revolution began when the FDA patented the pill. The contraceptive has spawned debates about women's health and morality and it certainly has influenced American history, but just how much? This week's "Time" magazine examines that question. And "Time's" executive editor Nancy Gibbs wrote the article, and she's with us this morning. Hi, Nancy, great to see you.


CHETRY: As well as our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Atlanta with more on the medical implications as well. Great to see you as well, Sanjay.

Nancy, it was a fascinating read. Now it's just an everyday part of our lives. The pill is out there, but looking at how controversial it is and in some cases, it still is today. What struck you the most as you went back and researched this article?

GIBBS: I was surprised by how many things we take for granted turned out to be wrong. The first one, still being at the time and to this day, because the pill was approved in 1960, then you have sex and the single girl and the summer of love and make love not war and this great sexual revolution.

And so there was the assumption of cause and effect, that because of the availability of the pill, there was a sudden change in sexual behavior among women.

And for those ten years in the 1960s, the pill was really only available for birth control for married women. Even Planned Parenthood clinics would not give it to unmarried women unless they borrowed an engagement ring and pretended they were getting married.

And so the idea it was the reason why all of this change in sexual morality occurred in the 1960s just doesn't hold up.

CHETRY: You said women were finding ways to limit the amount of children they had all the way back into the early 1900s. It just wasn't as effective.

The fascinating thing is the stunning figures you quote in your article. In 1960, 70 percent of women who had young kids were staying in the home and 30 percent were in the workforce. Now if you take a look at the numbers today it's the complete reverse.

How much effect does being able to limit the children you have played a role in the family structure?

GIBBS: I think it is such a complicated combination of forces. Certainly the availability of more reliable birth control made it possible for women to plan much more confidently how long they would stay in school, whether they would go to graduate school, whether they would launch careers, without fearing they would be derailed by an unintended pregnancy.

On the other hand, it was the women's movement that broke down a lot of doors that kept women out of the workforce, changes in family structure and the economy at-large where to live a middle class lifestyle you needed two incomes.

So you have all of these social and medical and technological and economic factors coming together to make that change in the number of women working versus staying home.

CHETRY: Sanjay, one of the interesting things as well is you now have 100 million women around the world with access to and taking the pill. But even now, 50 years after its inception, there are still questions about the risks, the health impacts. What have we learned about oral contraception?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. It was a fascinating read by Nancy. The pill has changed a lot over time. The amount of progesterone and estrogen in the pills has come down significantly.

Now, when you talk about health risks and what doctors will likely tell women when they are getting the pill is there is a concern about blood clots, a concern about elevating blood pressure as well. In women who have some sort of history of clotting problems have blood pressure, if they are smokers, you have to think about the pill as having some potential health effects.

But for most women, both in the short-term and long-term, there really isn't many. There was concerns about hormone replacement therapy at one point as well, as you remember, Kiran, giving hormones to women. What would that potentially do? Could it have detrimental effects? That's a real concern.

But with the pill, the doses are so small of estrogen and progestin that it really doesn't seem to pan out.

CHETRY: And Nancy, one of the other things that's interesting is because the choice was in your hands about putting off having children, we have seen more women put off childbirth, and then consequently, we have seen people having more infertility issues. Did we sort of outsmart our biological clock in some way?

GIBBS: What this testifies to is how important it is that men and women understand human biology better than we do. There are surveys that ask where women especially are asked when they think fertility begins to decline in women. And women will say 35 or 40. And they don't know it is more like in your late 20s and it declines quite sharply as you're approaching 40.

And so the fact the pill makes it possible to delay childbirth has been valuable for many women in trying to order their lives, but it doesn't mean they can think at whatever point they are ready to have a child, that that will be so easy to do.

CHETRY: And so Sanjay, taking that as a leaping off point, we also have had the technology through in-vitro fertilization people who couldn't have children because of age-related issues to be able to have children. What impact has that thrown into it?

GUPTA: As far as the pill goes, what we find is that it doesn't seem to affect fertility long-term. So the idea that the pill somehow led to an increase --

CHETRY: No, but I'm saying if you can actually control your reproduction until later in life and then it is harder to have the child, we have in-vitro fertilization that many people turn to.

GUPTA: Sure. And as Nancy said, your rate of fertility drops down I think dramatically, exponentially, much earlier than people think. So you do have the various options, things like in-vitro fertilization, which has come a long way. And some of original research on the pill led to some of the original research on in-vitro fertilization.

CHETRY: Fascinating stuff. And we encourage everybody to read it, because it's a great article. Nancy Gibbs, executive editor at "Time" magazine, thanks for your time. And, Sanjay, always great to get your expertise as well. Thanks for being with us. John?

ROBERTS: Our Tom Foreman is rolling on through Kansas on the CNN express for our series "Building up America." It is a wakeup call for Cessna, one of the most renowned names in aviation. How that company handled the economic downturn.


ROBERTS: Breaking right now, a string of car bombings in Baghdad in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, all of them targeting Shiites, blasts, we're told, that are reminiscent of the violence a few years ago in Iraq. This is new video coming into CNN. Police say 61 people have died, 110 others wounded.

The violence comes just days after Iraqi authorities announced the two top Al Qaeda leaders were killed and displayed their corpses as proof.

CHETRY: And in today's "Building up America," hit hard by the recession, the aviation giant Cessna was forced to reexamine the way they did business.

ROBERTS: Our tom foreman is in Wichita, Kansas, this morning for our "Building up America" report.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, Kiran. Kansas is one of the world's leaders in the manufacturing of airplanes, particularly corporate jets and smaller privately owned planes. And they have been hit very hard during this recession, losing lots of business and lots of jobs.

But they are taking this as an opportunity, especially at places like Cessna to retrench and be ready to bounce back.


FOREMAN (voice-over): A few years back, Cessna, was one of the most renowned name in aviation was selling hundreds of multimillion- dollar airplanes annually. Then, the recession, scandals over the misuse of corporate jets and the company lost half of its orders and half of its jobs; 6,000 in Wichita alone.

For CEO, Jack Pelton, a wakeup call.

(on camera): How is this company fundamentally different than it was two years ago?

JACK PELTON, CEO, CESSNA: I think now every day, we wake up. We feel like we have to go out -- go out and earn our right to be that number one manufacturer in the general aviation space. It's not just a given. It's something that you have to prove every day.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Proving it has meant using the down time to reconsider many manufacturing methods. For example, they found that by raising jet wings to a vertical position, technicians can move up, down, and across them quicker, saving time and labor that was previously lost maneuvering above and below the wing. By acquiring and attaching the most expensive parts like engines last, they reduce the holding time for costly inventory.

They have stepped up customer service with rapid response teams on the ground and if need be in the air to fix any plane that needs repair. And throughout the chain of production, they say they are looking for new ideas, new savings, new efficiencies.

(on camera): In many ways, it sounds like you completely rebuilt your production line?

PELTON: We did. We cleared out this entire part of the building and said, let's go reexamine how we build airplanes and how we can become better at it. And you know, not only does it affects the cost of quality which our customers are going to do positively but it's also going to help our employees.

FOREMAN (voice-over): All of that has allowed the company to maintain aggressive research and development, to roll out its latest model despite the hard times.

(on camera): Do you really believe that if you don't keep developing and bringing new products on, you are never going to recover?

PELTON: You're not. Innovate or die. You can't just hunker down and hide during this period of time. You have to continue to invest.

FOREMAN: Because that he believes is what protects jobs on the ground and puts planes into the sky.


FOREMAN: This is one of those industries that tends to lag behind others as the economy recovers so they don't expect everything to come back right away. But they are hoping when it does, they will be on sounder footing than they were before the recession began -- John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: All right. Tom Foreman for us this morning; Tom, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Still ahead we're following the latest on severe weather, tornado outbreak and severe weather threatening the weekend in many parts of the country. Rob Marciano, with an update for us.

It's 47 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Rob Marciano is in the Extreme Weather Center for us this morning tracking some of this weather. A lot of people are in for a rough weather day today and through the weekend -- Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right, this very, very slow moving and large system guys is now finally making its way towards the East Coast so it stretches all the way from the Appalachians back through Colorado where it's in the form of snow and the high elevations above 7,000 to 8,000 feet; they're going to see several inches.

This core, this is the area where the tornadoes were yesterday, northern Texas, western Kansas and eastern parts of Colorado. They have 32 reports of tornadoes yesterday, 12-24 inches of snow possible at the high elevations tonight. And avalanche watches are in effect. It's going to be a heavy wet snow with the wind also.

All right, these live thunderstorms are falling apart as it moves through Dallas. And will get recharged when the sun comes up later on today. And the hotspots are going to be Arkansas, Louisiana, heading into Mississippi. And then everything moves to the east as we go through tomorrow with a strong jet stream. And moderate risk of severe weather during that and in the day two scenario, which will be tomorrow, there's a high indication that we're probably going to see some rough stuff.

All right, yesterday was Earth Day. And our friend, Eric Larson, took this shot of himself at the North Pole. He's going to try to do three poles in 365 days; North Pole, South Pole and Mt. Everest to bring awareness to climate change and its effects on extreme environment.

He says, "Hi CNN, happy Earth Day from the North Pole." All right, Eric, thank you and happy Earth Day to you. I hope you guys got out there and at the very least kissed the ground and showed your love for Mother Earth yesterday -- John and Kiran.

CHETRY: Why not?

ROBERTS: I almost tripped on the sidewalk. Does that count?

CHETRY: Sort of. A little bit.

ROBERTS: It was close to a face plant.

MARCIANO: As long as you didn't hurt yourself.

CHETRY: When we kiss the ground, it's not on purpose. It's because we are klutzes.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Rob.

Coming up next, meet a doctor who turns heartbreak into hope. He's our latest hero on CNN.

Eight minutes now to the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: Fifty-five minutes now after the hour.

Some of the smallest patients in hospitals can also have the biggest medical bills. The cost of caring for a premature baby is absolutely staggering. But we found one doctor who is stepping in to change that. Meet this week's CNN hero.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I entered the E.R. from a severe cold. I was 24 weeks pregnant, I had H1N1. They put me in a coma to stabilize me.

I was in a coma for roughly six weeks. When I woke up, my husband said, "We had to take out the baby." I immediately clutched my stomach. But he settled me down and he was like, "No, no, he is okay. He is down in the NICU."

DR. SEAN DANESHMAND, CNN HERO, MEDICAL MARVEL: My daughter was born prematurely. And to see people, hearing there's something wrong about your baby and then to have to worry about everything else around them. I mean life doesn't stop.

I'm Dr. Sean Daneshmand. I started an organization that provides assistance to families with babies in the NICU. I want to take some of the suffering that these women go through away from them so they can really focus on their baby.

It is emotionally draining. The way the economy now is people are suffering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't think this was going to be as hard. She is going to do it. She is going to be okay.

DANESHMAND: They need extra money for clothing, diapers, medical expenses, rent. These are families that, all of a sudden in a time of crisis now need extra help. That's what we are about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They helped us with our mortgage, with gas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something as simple as gas cards to be able to make it to the NICU every day just helped tremendously.

DANESHMAND: I can't think of any other time where you need someone to be there for you.

You're good. You have to stay strong right now.

I have a very special role in life. I never thought I would be here. And my God, I am having a great time.


ROBERTS: Is it stirred or shaken?

CHETRY: Well, according to Bob, it's stir. When I was younger, I thought it was steer. I guess I like it shaken, I like a little bit of bits of ice chips mixing in there. Just to let you guys all in on it.

ROBERTS: 9:00 in the morning we're talking about mixing right here.

CHETRY: I know, because it is water. That's for fun. That's not real booze.

ROBERTS: It's just fun.

CHETRY: It's water.

ROBERTS: Just fun, right guys?

CHETRY: It's water.

ROBERTS: I don't know if I trust them. We've got to go.

CHETRY: Continue the conversation on today's stories, go to our blog,

Thanks for being here. We will be back bright and early on Monday.

ROBERTS: Meantime the news rolls on here on CNN with Kyra Phillips in the "CNN NEWSROOM". Good morning, Kyra.