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American Morning

BP Successfully Inserts Tube Into Leaking Well to Begin Siphoning Oil; New E-mails By Suspected Times Square Bomber Released; volcanic ash cloud causing delays in flights over U.K.Americans Pay Off Their Debt; BP's Oil Battle

Aired May 17, 2010 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning. It's Monday, May 17th. I'm Carol Costello in for Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. Here are the big stories we'll be telling you about coming up in the next 15 minutes.

It looks like it's working finally. BP's temporary fix to the growing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a mile long tube now sucking oil up to a ship on the surface. But is it a band-aid on a gushing wound?

COSTELLO: Flying overseas anytime soon? You had better call you carrier. Volcanic ash in the air is keeping European flights on the ground again. But there is a glimmer of light shining through the ash. We'll take you live to London where the airport has reopened this morning.

ROBERTS: And your kids are eating healthy, right, plenty of fruits and vegetables? A new study finds a link between a commonly used pesticide on those foods and attention deficit hyper activity disorder in children. It's important information for every parent just ahead.

But first, finally some good news in the effort to stop the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP says on the third try engineers were finally able to insert a pipe into the leaking well.

COSTELLO: It's been poisoning the environment, as you know, paralyzing the fishing industry for close to a month, 28 days now. Ed Lavandera is live in New Orleans. Good morning, Ed. Is this thing really working?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the part -- the insertion has worked. What we don't know is how effective it is at this point.

Even though BP officials say that insertion tube did successfully go inside of the riser and has begun the process of siphoning off gas, collecting natural gas and oil, BP officials say they still don't know how much oil has been collected or what percentage of the flow is being collected at this point.

But what they do say is they are still coming at a delicate stage of this process. So there is concern they'll slowly open up the valves to start collecting this oil and natural gas. The concern is, given the temperatures and the fact this has never been done before at this depth, that the tubes could become clogged and end the entire process.

They say over the course of the next day or so they'll slowly open up the valves to start collecting more and more of the oil and gas. Obviously everyone here is hopeful that this will really kind of stem the tide of how many oil and gas is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

And within about a week or so, John and Carol, there's also another method, a two-prong approach which involves the terms you've probably heard about recently, the "junk shot," sending in a bunch of junk to ease the pressure of the well, and the "top kill," sending this fluid mud, down into the oil head to essentially stop the flow of the oil rig.

None of this is the ultimate solution. That's what government officials are saying, that even though this is a positive step, none of these are the ultimate solution in capping this well.

ROBERTS: Ed, for the last 28 days, we've been following the progress of the slick on surface of the Gulf of Mexico. But we're hearing from reports from scientists that are monitoring this that that could be the tip of the iceberg on how big the spill is.

LAVANDERA: John, I think this is the most interesting part of what we're dealing with right now. So far the impact, we've been so concerned about the impact on the beaches and the shoreline being really the story here, but it seems to be changing.

There's been minimal impact on shorelines and beaches given the scope and magnitude of this oil spill, but researchers are now telling us that they believe there are massive plumes deep under the water that we can't see. The concern is, where is all of that going? There's been one report suggesting it is starting to make its way into the currents that would take it toward the Florida Keys.

Researchers are still working on that front to really clear answers as to where it's going and where it is ultimately are still very much up in the air.

ROBERTS: Ed, thanks so much.

At 7:25 Eastern, BP's chief operating officer will be here to answer questions. How much oil are they really capturing with this insertion pipe? And when are we going to stop hearing about temporary fixes? What are they seeing in terms of video?

COSTELLO: Why don't they tell us the truth about how much is leaking out into the ocean? ROBERTS: We are hearing 5,000 barrels of oil a day. Some estimates are up to 60,000 to 70,000 barrels a day. Nobody is quite sure as we talked to BP last week. They said they are sticking with the 5,000 figure, though.

COSTELLO: We'll see.

Also new this morning, and only on CNN, the first look inside the mind of the suspected Times Square bomber.

ROBERTS: CNN has obtained two e-mails Faisal Shahzad wrote before authorities say he drove a car bomb into the heart of New York City. Susan Candiotti is here with a closer look for us this morning. Susan, you've been following this investigation now for a couple of weeks. What are we finding out?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These e-mails are really a window into his mind, just a small dose of what might have put Faisal Shahzad on a path from the American dream to an accused terrorist.

Some context here -- the two e-mails obtained by CNN were written by Shahzad in 2006 and just last year. In 2006, he had been in the U.S. about eight years, had earned an MBA, and was working as a financial analyst in Connecticut.

In that email Shahzad refers to attacks on Muslims overseas and mentions that controversial cartoons depicting Muhammad published in Denmark. It sparked riots in Pakistan, Libya, and other places. Quoting here, "It is with no doubt that we today Muslim followers of Islam are attacked and occupied by foreign infidel forces. The crusade has already started against Islam and Muslims with cartoons of our beloved prophet as war drums."

He goes on to say, "Peaceful protests," in his words, "has achieved nothing, which appears to flag a growing political frustration. A fighter who gives his life to Allah can never disobey his commands," he says. "Friends with peaceful protests, can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? You would have to agree to the fact that there is a force out there fighting the west and is defeating them."

The second e-mail was written last year, April of 2009. Shahzad had just become a U.S. citizen. A month later, a bank foreclosed on his home. According to Dr. Saud Anwar, a prominent Pakistani-American activist and physician who has seen the emails and provided them to the FBI, the second email ridicules an article written by Muslims who take a more moderate view than Shahzad does.

Shahzad belittles them by saying, and this is a translation, "If you don't have the right teacher, then Satan should become your sheikh." He adds, quote, "I bet when it comes to defending the lands, his opinion would be we should do dialogue, etc, which is not the proven way from history and does not work in current time and will not work in future because it simply wasn't the way of Quran."

ROBERTS: Who gave these e-mails to us, and what was the purpose of them giving them to us?

CANDIOTTI: These were provided about Dr. Anwar. And he's an activist, and he wanted to make sure the public gets a look at this because he wants everyone to get a better understanding of what happened here. He said it's important so we can learn from this. In fact, he provided them to the FBI.

COSTELLO: It's really confusing. There's a big "New York Times" article on this guy yesterday. It talked about how he came to the United States but it didn't really get into why he decided to come to the United States and became a U.S. citizen.

CANDIOTTI: All of these things were putting some of the facts together, but I do understand from a source that one of the reasons he gave for wanting to become a U.S. citizen was that he eventually thought it might help him if he left the United States and moved back overseas because he felt -- he told some people, he felt he could get a higher salary as a U.S. citizen.

COSTELLO: He came from a wealthy family though. It's just so confusing.

CANDIOTTI: He did. It's stunning.

ROBERTS: Has the FBI seen these photos?

CANDIOTTI: The FBI has seen them, and they have also interviewed the recipient of the e-mails, at least one. So of course they are analyzing all of this to put together their own profile of exactly what happened here.

ROBERTS: Great job digging around. Susan Candiotti for us this morning, thanks so much.

CANDIOTTI: You're welcome.

Bangkok, Thailand in chaos this morning after officials announced the death of an anti-government rebel leader, violent clashes still breaking out on the streets there.

And 65 people have died since the protests started in March, 35 of those deaths coming in the past few days. Businesses, schools, and nine international embassies all shut down. Let's go live to Bangkok this morning, our Sara Sidner with the latest on the situation in the streets. And how is it this morning, or this evening your time?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been the same throughout the day, except for about a few hours in the middle of the day where things are more calm and you weren't hearing as many blasts and gunshots. The protesters were continuing to have the speeches on stage.

But then the government announced it would go in and move protesters out, a crackdown, if you will, saying they would be arrested and put in jail. That didn't seem to really happen. But right after that, this started to ratchet back up. I want to tell you about something we're seeing on local TV here that you can't see just yet. But there is a tanker that appears to be a gas tanker with a big flammable sign, that it let's look someone is trying to set it on fire. That, if it is filled with gas, would cause a huge explosion in the streets.

And certainly fighting has ratcheted back up again in some of the streets in Bangkok. John?

ROBERTS: Sara, thanks so much.

COSTELLO: Trouble in the air this morning, ash from the volcano in Iceland grounding flights again, causing delays in one of the world's busiest airports. We'll take you live to London to tell you if the flights have resumed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Thousands of people around the world, and maybe you're one of them, they're finding their travel plans in limbo this morning thanks to that erupting volcano in Iceland.

ROBERTS: It's back. Right now the ash is threatening flights to Amsterdam, Ireland, and Scotland. London flights are delayed this morning. Our Sasha Herriman is live at Heathrow Airport in London. And what's going on behind there right now? Are the planes taking off and landing?

SASHA HERRIMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are. They are taking off and landing, and basically things seem to be getting back to some degree of normality. Of course, there is that backlog of flights to deal with because they were closed for a number of hours overnight.

And also bear in mind that there's been some kind of ban on the air space still in place elsewhere other the U.K. that impact what's happening here.

So the advice from the airlines is check with them before you choose to fly anywhere and to make sure you know what's happening because maybe your flights won't be taking off. And who knows what's going to be happening 24 hours from now? It all depends where the ash cloud is going.

It is estimated the last time around when airports were closed for five days, it cost $3.2 billion for the industry. They are not going to want to see a repetition of that this time around. Back to you, Carol and John.

COSTELLO: There's a plane taking off behind you. British Airways is getting a double whammy here -- canceled flights and there could be a strike of its employees, right?

HERRIMAN: Absolutely. This is not a good place for British Airways at the moment. They had two years of record losses, and now of course have they have the impact of the ash cloud. And of course they have also got a possibility of strike action which could be happening tomorrow. They are going to the high court today to try and stop that strike action from taking place because they have already been severely impacted by strikes over the past few weeks.

Cabin crews asked want basically want to get better pay and conditions. They're in dispute with British Airways and they want to strike. So tomorrow there will be a series of strikes which could take place over a period of about a month which could cause massive disruptions for the industry, massive disruptions for British Airways. They want to try and stop that taking place for tomorrow. So today, they are at court to try to do that. Carol, John, back to you.

COSTELLO: One of travel season's bad times. Sasha Herriman, thanks.

Across the nation, credit scores are going up. Americans are paying down their debt slashing it by hundreds of billions of dollars in --

ROBERTS: Wait a second. That can't be real. You're joking, right?

COSTELLO: I know, I almost fainted as I read it.

ROBERTS: It's actually true. Christine Romans here with the preview of her "Minding Your Business" this morning. How are you?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's true. We're either slashing our debt by paying it off or it's being slashed for it by the credit card companies. They're ready to write it off or because of personal bankruptcy. But one way or the other, people are starting to shed hundreds of billions of dollars worth of onerous debt and that means credit scores are ticking ever so slightly higher. I'll tell you more about it in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Take a picture of the control room and suddenly it goes to black.

Oh, look it's me -- 19 minutes after the hour. Christine Romans here "Minding Your Business" this morning. The news is almost that you can't believe it. The amount of debt that people are holding is going down. They're credit scores are going up.

ROMANS: Well, it's the reason --

ROBERTS: What's wrong?

ROMANS: Well, what's wrong is either because they want to or because the banks are making them, they are starting to pay down debt. And we've been paying down record amounts of debt since 2008. And we talked to the folks at Equifax who ran some fantastic numbers that show that we have shed $626 billion with a "b" dollars in debt since October, 2008. They also run these numbers and show they're 100 million fewer credit cards and what we're spending what's available on our credit card is down about 30 percent. So look, the banks have been pulling it back. They've been saying they're pulling it back. You can't apply for more cards. You can't charge them up and we're paying down the debt we have.

How much are we paying down? Our home mortgages, five percent. Credit cards, 12 -- I mean, that's just unbelievable that we've been able to shed 12 percent of that consumer credit there. Student loans, the only place where you're seeing the debt increase because of the recession. People can't pay and joblessness, people can't pay to send their kids to college like they used to or more people are trying to go to college or stay in college longer. So they're getting -- they're getting more loans.

The student loan is one place where you have seen consumer debt skyrocket. The average consumer credit score according to folks over at Equifax, 704. And that's up slightly. And this is notable for a couple of reasons. These scores don't move very easily. 704 -- I mean, I was frankly surprised it was above 700. But they note that Equifax more people are moving to the low end of the spectrum than to the high end.

ROBERTS: Which would it have been as far the credit score?

ROMANS: Well, if you want the best home mortgage rate, you have to have a FICO score of 760 or higher. So --

COSTELLO: So that's pretty good, 705, right?

ROMANS: Yes. I mean, look, I thought it would have been worse. And it's moving slowly in the right direction. The people at FICO, which is another of these credit agencies, they've told me a similar thing, that it stayed pretty much the same in the middle. And where you've seen the movement is on the end where people are doing better because they're paying down their debt.

COSTELLO: Now, see, if we can do it, why can't the government do it?

ROMANS: Oh, Carol, that's a whole different story. Don't get me started.

COSTELLO: I wonder where the credit for is.

ROBERTS: Are you looking for miracles?

ROMANS: Don't even get me started.

ROBERTS: Today's "Romans' Numeral"?

ROMANS: Now this -- 4,667 a day. This is one reason why we might be paying down so much debt. Maybe not paying it down, but why are debt is shrinking. 4,667 a day. Something that happens every day. Personal bankruptcies.

COSTELLO: Oh.

ROMANS: Some people are shedding debt in bankruptcy. Some people are shedding debt because the creditors are settling with the credit card company. Some people are shedding debt in those ways which don't necessarily show that they have come into money and are paying down their debt, but they are lowering their debt.

ROBERTS: Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning.

COSTELLO: There you go.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

COSTELLO: The short-term solution to that disaster that may linger for decades. BP now siphoning oil from the bottom of the gulf. The company has been accused of making it up as they go along. So what is the next step? BP's chief operating officer will be here with some answers we hope.

It's 22 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Twenty-five minutes after the hour now. The crisis in the Gulf of Mexico now entering its 28th day. But this morning, there is some promising news finally. Some of the oil that was spewing into the gulf is now being siphoned into a rig on the surface. But a permanent solution stopping every drop. That may be still weeks, even months away.

Joining us now with an update is BP's chief operating officer for exploration and development, Doug Suttles.

Mr. Suttles, thanks for being with us. Can you tell us what is the status of the operations with this tube that has been inserted inside that 21-inch riser and now funneling oil to the surface?

DOUG SUTTLES, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICFER, BP: Yes, John, you know, I'm really pleased that we've had success now. We've actually had what we call this rise insertion tube that's been working for more than 24 hours now. And actually this morning, we were producing over 1,000 barrels of oil into the drill ship Enterprise as promised. So that's a 1,000 barrels that isn't getting on the sea every day. So it's good progress.

ROBERTS: Right. Now when you say that you're moving 1,000 barrels up, have you gotten any underwater video that shows what's going on at that broken end of that riser? Is there still 4,000 barrels of oil spewing out in the Gulf every day?

SUTTLES: Yes, John. I mean, this doesn't capture all of it. There's still some oil coming out. But what we hope to do over the next 24 hours is continue to raise the rate, increase the rate coming out of that insertion tube and capture more and more of this flow.

ROBERTS: Yes. So what are the obstacles that you're facing? Is there too much pressure coming out of that riser pipe? Are the seals not in place? You're sucking in too much sea water. What are the logistics there?

SUTTLES: Yes, John, it's a great question. What we're doing is we're trying to raise the rate incrementally because we don't want to bring the water in. Because you remember that creates the hydrates. So we'll be ramping it up very carefully to make sure we don't pull the water in. So we'll try to find that point where we get the maximum amount of oil without getting any water.

ROBERTS: And just to remind folks at home, these hydrates are sort of ice-like crystals that are formed with methane gas and mixes with sea water. What about a permanent fix to all these, Mr. Suttles? There are a couple of things being discussed. There is the so-called junk shot, putting debris into the blowout preventer to try to block it up and then you seal it up with some mud and concrete, or this other idea that you may try to kill the entire well by putting mud all the way down the shaft. Can you tell us how that would work?

SUTTLES: Yes, John, what we're doing and that option is called top kill. And we hope to perform one of those two options by the end of this week. And what we do there is just pump very heavy fluids down into the well and actually it overcomes the flow rate and actually stops it from flowing. And then we'll follow that up with cement. And then ultimately we'll use this relief well to permanently secure the well.

ROBERTS: Why wasn't the top kill tried a couple of weeks ago?

SUTTLES: Well, John, what we've been doing, if you remember, we don't want to take any action that could actually cause the situation to get worse. So we had to do a lot of diagnostics to make sure that in doing the top kill or the junk shot option that somehow we couldn't make the rate go up. Unfortunately, that's taken quite a bit of time but we've now got most of that data. We have the world's best experts looking at this option and we've actually got most of the equipment on site now.

ROBERTS: Yes. You know, we've seen all the oil that's on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico but some scientists in nearby ships have been doing some probing around under the water and they have found huge plumes of oil at various levels, one they believe is at 2,300 feet, another one at 4,300 feet.

Congressman Ed Markey has said of all of this, quote, "These huge plumes of oil are like hidden mushroom clouds that indicate a larger spill than originally thought and portend more dangerous long-term fallout for the Gulf of Mexico's wildlife and the economy." How much oil is there out there and what kind of an effect is it going to have in total on the environment?

SUTTLES: Well, you know, John, since the beginning, we've been trying to estimate what's coming out here. But in the end of the day, it hasn't impacted our response. We're throwing absolutely everything at this. We just learned about those reports of that data being gathered. We're trying to get that information and see if that can help us in how we're responding. But I can tell you we're holding nothing back, absolutely nothing back as we try to fight this thing.

ROBERTS: You probably saw "60 Minutes" last night or at least the transcript of it. Mike Williams, who is the chief electronics technician for the Deepwater Horizon, says the Transocean was being pushed by BP to complete this well quickly because they'd actually gone into a time overrun. Was BP putting pressure on Transocean to get this thing done?

SUTTLES: You know, John, I didn't see the "60 Minutes" program. I just didn't have time. I mean, you know, yesterday I was over in Mobile, Alabama meeting with some of the folks with the --

ROBERTS: All right.

SUTTLES: With this effort and some of the people.

ROBERTS: But you are the COO of exploration and development. Was there pressure put on Transocean to get this well finished?

SUTTLES: You know, John, I don't know. I actually don't know because I'm really not involved with the investigation.

ROBERTS: Right. But you are involved with exploration and development, correct?

SUTTLES: Exploration and production, John, that's correct.

ROBERTS: Right. So, therefore, you would know what the schedule was in the Deepwater Horizon, would you not?

SUTTLES: You know, I don't know the details of that. And I know that people are talking about various things that occurred that night on the rig. But I actually haven't seen any of the results of these interviews or investigations. And I know I will ultimately find out what went on. But I don't have any personal knowledge.

ROBERTS: Well, let me ask you this question. Was there concern at BP that this well was taking longer than you had hoped to drill and that you wanted to speed up completion of it?

SUTTLES: You know, John, not to my knowledge. I don't actually have any knowledge that that was the case. And as I said, I'm just -- there are lots of people pouring through those records and what actually happened there will ultimately be, will come out. I actually don't have that detail, John. So, I'm actually sorry I can't help you with that.

ROBERTS: All right. Doug Suttles from BP this morning. Thanks for joining us, appreciate the update.

COSTELLO: Thirty minutes past the hour now. Time to check our top stories. The evolution from financial analyst to suspected Muslim extremist, CNN obtaining e-mails that the accused Times Square bomber wrote, angry about Muslims being killed overseas and about now an infamous newspaper cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed.

ROBERTS: A Rhodes Island high school that fired all of its teachers has now agreed to give them their jobs back. The union must agree to a longer school day and more extra help for the kids. The school board voted to get rid of all 93 teachers, administrators and other staffers over the students' poor performance. President Obama even weighed in on it and backed the move.

COSTELLO: And music for Music City. Some of the country's biggest name helped raised more than $1.5 million during the telethon for Tennessee flood relief. Names like Keith Urban, Martina McBride and Sheryl Crow joined show organizer Brad Paisley who pledged $100,000 of his own money.

ROBERTS: Well, the first days of Army life away from your family can be one of the most difficult adjustments that a new recruit can make.

COSTELLO: I know, what if you have a husband and a baby. It will be tough going. Latricia Rose is in exactly that place. She had to go to basic training, leaving her family behind.

Jason Carroll, joins us with "A Soldier's Story." And I can't even imagine how that would feel.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a tough road and it's extremely tough on this particular family. I want to give you guys a number to think about. Right now, women make up about 14 percent of the active Army. Many of those women are also mothers. And as you are about to see, some face special challenges in dealing with reality of trying to become a soldier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): It's Latricia Rose's last day at home before leaving for the Army. Just about everything is done. Paperwork, check.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take a look at what you have here.

CARROLL: Final meeting with recruiter, check.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Smile.

CARROLL: Telling her two-year-old daughter, Ayana (ph) she's leaving? Not quite.

LATRICIA ROSE, NEW RECRUIT: I think she kind of knows. I said I would tell her today that I'm leaving but she -- I think she kind of knows.

CARROLL: Latricia and her husband Brandon have been struggling to tell their daughter for weeks in a way that two-year-olds can understand. They think Ayana (ph) may be catching on.

LATRICIA ROSE: She just cries if I walk out of the room or anything. And I think she can probably sense something.

Hey, Ayana (ph).

CARROLL: For now, Latricia and her husband make the most of her last day with their daughter, taking her to her favorite spot, Chuckie Cheese. Though it's clear it's the game she likes, not the mascot.

By mid day, still no talk.

LATRICIA ROSE: I mean, I did say mommy to her, you know, mommy is going to be leaving, but she ignored me and we went on with our day, like nothing was wrong.

CARROLL: Meanwhile, Brandon senses how challenging it's going to be, to be both father and mother.

BRANDON ROSE, HUSBAND: I'm going to try to do the best I can. You know, she's going to be asking for her mother. I have to tell her that mommy gone. It's just your dad for now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready, one, two, three. Cheese.

CARROLL: Today, the entire family can be together so they marked the occasion with a portrait and one last dinner with a come home soon cake compliments of the restaurant staff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the least we can do. We're really proud of you.

LATRICIA ROSE: Oh, baby.

CARROLL: Finally, time for bed and the talk. It is hard to find the words.

LATRICIA ROSE: Help me. Because I don't know what to say. Ayana (ph), Mommy is leaving tomorrow, OK? OK?

AYANA (ph): OK.

LATRICIA ROSE: But I'll be back in a little while, OK? You're the best.

CARROLL: By 4:00 the next morning, she's on her way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ready to roll? Ready as you're going to be, huh?

CARROLL: But first, one last hug.

LATRICIA ROSE: Bye, baby.

CARROLL:: And one final good-bye. Latricia is on the road to becoming a soldier. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: As you can see there, it's not always an easy road. Latricia's husband, Brandon, finds himself in somewhat of a unique category. His wife joining the Army, obviously, but he did not. There are just about six percent of husbands who fall into the same category that Brandon now finds himself in.

COSTELLO: So she's going to go to basic training, how long will she be away from her family?

CARROLL: Well, that's the question. She will be away for several months. That was the initial plan. And as you're about to see, it definitely caused some problems for her.

COSTELLO: Oh, that's the twist coming up.

CARROLL: Yes.

COSTELLO: In the next segment.

CARROLL: Yes.

COSTELLO: It's going to break my heart, I know. You're going to bring that to us tomorrow.

CARROLL: Of course, stay tuned and watch.

COSTELLO: Jason Carroll, thanks.

ROBERTS: Sarah Palin is getting in on the debate over Arizona's controversial immigration law. She jumped into the fray in Phoenix, defending the state's governor and taking on President Obama. We're going to break that all down with our political panel coming up next. It's 36 and a half minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

COSTELLO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Sarah Palin is back in the spotlight taking the stage in Phoenix this weekend with Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer. Both women have a message for the man in the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for Americans across this great country to stand up and say, we're all Arizonans now and in clear unity we say, Mr. President, do your job. Secure our border.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Our border is being erased. And the president apparently considers it a wonderful opportunity to divide people along racial lines for his personal, political convenience. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Joining me to talk about this and more, Katrina Vanden Huevel, editor and publisher of "The Nation" along with Susan Molinari, former Republican congresswoman from New York. Welcome to you both.

KATRINA VANDEN HUEVEL, EDITOR OF "THE NATION": Thank you.

SUSAN MOLINARI, FMR. ADVISER TO RUDY GIULIANI'S CAMPAIGN: Thank you.

COSTELLO: OK. So, Sarah Palin from Arizona with the governor there and she ahs managed to tie the Obama administration to the cause for this Arizona law. So how might that affect the voters going to the polls in the primaries on Tuesday, in the midterm election?

HEUVEL: You know, I think we are all Americans now, Sarah Palin spoke about we're all Arizonans now, fairness and decency and the importance of a federal comprehensive immigration bill with a clear and humane path for citizenship for 12 million undocumented immigrants is key and it's key politically. Because you know what, you got two women in Arizona, you got Sarah Palin with her (inaudible) but the Republican party for the most part, male, pale and stale. And they're going to become more so because they're going to alienate Latino voters as we have seen over the last two decades whenever the Republican party draws out these mean-spirited plans like this Arizona law --

COSTELLO: So you're saying this might backfire?

HEUVEL: I think this will, in the short term, I don't know how it plays, because I think it's going to play in different places regionally but in the long term, it's going to marginalize an already marginalized Republican party which has become more extremists, more pale and stale and this country is changing and this plan doesn't even deal with legitimate security concerns about immigration.

It really is more about fear, misinformation. There is a legitimate concern. But you need real action and not one that President Obama has says wisely, the guts, the communication between police and communities and the possibilities of a more humane path.

COSTELLO: Well, you know, you mentioned the politics of fear, but Susan, come on, this seems to be working because some of the most conservative Republican candidates are doing quite well in the primaries, aren't they?

MOLINARI: Well, as a matter of fact. And look, I would like to see levels of legal immigration get higher and higher in the United States. I think legal immigrants are a gift to this country and however, two thirds of the American people surveyed say that they support this bill. And I think underlying all this from a political standpoint is the exasperation that the American people feel, that the federal government hasn't provided answers, hasn't provided solutions, hasn't built a fence or hasn't had this conversation that the American people are telling the U.S. government they want to have.

This is just one more example of the American government failing to listen to the American people. And also, if you look at this YouTube debate, I think, you know, there is -- people are reacting to the fact that the attorney general right after this law was signed by the governor came out and said we may challenge this law. And then in a hearing last week, admitted he hadn't even read a ten-page law.

So I think there is this sort of attitude in this presidency that the views and concerns of the American people aren't going to motivate action by this White House. And I think that's what you're starting to see, a level of frustration.

COSTELLO: With incumbents and in talking about the Hispanic vote, you mentioned the polls and most Americans are for this measure in Arizona. But Latinos probably feel differently. Remember back in the day, George P. Bush, President Bush's nephew trying to like drum up support? He was very successful, wasn't he? All of that now seemingly gone out the window. Is that something that Republicans should be concerned about?

MOLINARI: Listen, George Bush 43, put together and introduced an immigration bill that Katrina just basically described. So I think the Republican Party really has, was sort of out on point in a lot of these areas. But it is clear that times have changed, that the debate has changed, that the level of frustration of the American people by the inaction of the federal government has risen to this point.

Does the Republican Party have to be careful with regard to the Hispanic vote, which is going to be very important in the next presidential election? Absolutely, they do. And I think we have to make sure that we make a very clear and concise argument about the difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration.

COSTELLO: I want to move on to another topic and Katrina, I'll start with you. Sarah Palin mentioned "momma grizzly." She's showing her support for high powered Republican women running for office. I mean, I know, the governor of Arizona is not running but of course, she went and supported her. Carly Fiorina is running for the Senate in California, Sarah Palin went and supported her. She seems to be really reaching out for strong Republican women to sell them to the electorate.

HEUVEL: Well, I think she's reaching out for her own future and career. Sarah, Inc. I wish our media spent more time covering problems in this country, less time on Sarah Palin. I'm all for strong women, but, at the end of the day, I believe it's not a matter of left or right or male versus female. I think it's about, you know, who are you helping? Working families, women struggling, kitchen- table issues or the powerful, the corporate interests, the banks?

And I think Sarah Palin ends up being on that latter side of the equation every day, every hour as she stomps this country, speaking as an ordinary woman and mother but -- with a pretty face but a vicious message. COSTELLO: Oh, I have to have Susan weigh in on this, because, you know, during the presidential election, a lot of Conservative Republican women were grateful for Sarah Palin and her -- Because here, finally, was a strong Republican woman who talked about Conservative issues and didn't, you know, hide her head in the sand.

MOLINARI: Well, then, Sarah Palin is out there helping women, you know, not just Conservative women. She's coming out there and -- and traveling throughout the country on behalf of Republican women.

And I hope, at the end of the day, the story that the media does choose to tell is that there's been an enormous amount of -- of women who were running as Republicans for the House of Representatives, for the United States Senate, for statehouses throughout this country.

This is going to be clearly the year of the Republican women, and -- and that shift is going to continue with the electorate, the overwhelming majority of suburban women now are looking at -- towards the Republican Party in a very positive way, something that's changed in the last two years. So I -- I think we're going to see a (INAUDIBLE) for the Republican Party and I think you're going to see that Republican women are going to be largely one of reasons behind it in this November.

COSTELLO: We'll see. Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Susan Molinari, thanks for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

HEUVEL: Thank you.

MOLINARI: Thank you.

COSTELLO: It is 46 minutes past the hour.

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ROBERTS: And 11 minutes now to the top of the hour. Let's get a quick check of this morning's weather headlines.

Rob Marciano, back from the Gulf Coast. He's in the Weather Center in Atlanta for us this morning. Hi, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. Good morning, Carol.

Big-time hail yesterday across parts of Oklahoma, in some cases the -- the biggest hail they've seen in years upwards of baseball and even grapefruit-sized. Check this out. Lots of damage to cars, windows, rooftops, you better believe it, and even some injuries with al this coming down. A tremendous storm rolling through and just the -- the largest of which was just northwest of Oklahoma City, so in a highly-populated area.

All right. A little chunk of that energy, that dying system now going across parts of Louisiana, heading towards New Orleans and Baton Rouge. This is weakening somewhat, but it probably still have some hail, although not that large. It will have some gusty wind as well. And then the leading edge of this next system, getting into the mid-Atlantic, Charlotte to Raleigh to Richmond, that's the area that I think is going to see some heavy rain today, potentially some thunderstorms that could get rough. And then the leader edge of this -- this rain shield is getting into Philly now and eventually into New York City.

If you are traveling in Atlanta and Charlotte, Chicago is going to be your biggest threat, a weak system rolling into the West Coast.

Talk more about that ash cloud disrupting air trouble once again, John and Carol, at the top of the hour.

ROBERTS: All right. Looking forward to that, Rob. Thanks so much.

MARCIANO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Well, here's something you're going to want to hear more about, new research suggesting that a pesticide commonly used on foods may be contributing to your child's behavioral problems.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen with some important advice for parents, coming right up.

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

It's a common behavioral disorder in children, but what exactly causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

ROBERTS: Nobody's been quite sure, but now a new research suggests that there is a strong link to a pesticide that's often used on fruits and vegetables.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is following this for us this morning. She's live in Atlanta. And exactly what is the pesticide that we're talking about here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, the pesticide we're talking about is called organic phosphates. It's a class of pesticides, and, as you noted, they're very commonly used on all sorts of produce in this country and this is the first time that this kind of a link has been found between pesticides and ADHD. So, as you can imagine, this is of great concern to parents and it's also quite controversial.

So what this study found is that kids who ate high amounts of these pesticides were twice as likely to get ADHD -- twice as likely. Now, we talked to some scientists. They said they don't know why this would be true. It might be because these chemicals disrupt some kind of nerve signaling in the brain.

Now, as you can imagine, the folks who make pesticides, they question whether this finding is even valid at all. Here's what they had to tell us. They said pest -- more research is needed to ascertain if there is a direct link between exposure to organophosphate pesticides and the development of ADHD in children. When used according to the label, the EPA has determined it to be safe -- John, Carol.

COSTELLO: What kind of foods are we talking about? Is it celery and blueberries and stuff like that?

COHEN: Yes, it's used on all sorts of produce. So celery, blueberries, pretty much you name it. I mean, fruits and vegetables of all different kinds this -- this pesticide is used on it.

COSTELLO: So exactly the kind of food you want your kid to eat. I mean, can you just scrub the vegetables and the fruit and -- and get rid of the pesticide?

COHEN: Right. That's the issue. I mean, when we have a story about some kind of junk food being bad for your kid, it's easy. Your kid just shouldn't be eating that junk food. When it comes to produce, it gets tricky.

There are two things you can do to try to limit the amount of pesticides your child gets. First of all, as you said, you can rinse or scrub the produce, and that's been shown to do -- to go a -- a great way towards getting pesticides out of produce. The other thing you could do is you can buy organic and that will also limit the amount of pesticides that your children get in produce.

So buying organic, washing, both of those things will go a long way towards getting the pesticides out of your children's diet.

ROBERTS: So -- so this isn't just, Elizabeth, just rinsing under the tap? This is actually really scrubbing them, is it?

COHEN: You know, John, it's not exactly clear what you need to do. Some experts have said to me just rinsing with water is what you need to do. Others have said you need to buy a special produce, you know, produce scrubbing product and actually scrub with it. It's not entirely clear.

I mean, I think what -- what -- as a parent, what you can do is you can go out there on the market and you can see some of these products and decide if you want to buy them. But it's really not entirely clear. But even rinsing will go a long way.

ROBERTS: OK. Tough to scrub a strawberry, no question about that.

COHEN: That's right. Exactly. I've tried.

ROBERTS: Elizabeth Cohen this morning.

COHEN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Elizabeth, thanks.

COSTELLO: She would have tried it.

ROBERTS: Scrubbing a raspberry's even more (INAUDIBLE).

Top stories coming your way after a quick break. Stay with us.

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