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CNN Saturday Morning News

Ghana Buzzes With Excitement Over Obama Visit; Interview With Benjamin Todd Jealous; Hurricane Season 2009

Aired July 11, 2009 - 06:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING for this July 11. I'm T.J.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: How you doing, T.J.?

HOLMES: I am really well. I am well-rested, as you know. I am (INAUDIBLE).

NGUYEN: We both got a little vacation in.

HOLMES: A little bit.

NGUYEN: Good morning, everybody. It's good to be back. I am Betty Nguyen. It's 6 a.m. at - here in the East, 10 a.m. in Ghana, where President Obama is starting his day.

HOLMES: Yes, the president woke up in Ghana this morning. You are seeing him here from my video we got just a little bit ago into CNN, of a welcoming ceremony there in Ghana. He's there with the president of Ghana, John Atta Mills.

They began their meetings this morning. This is how it started off. But they're going to be meeting at the presidential palace. Then the president, Obama, he's going to be speaking to parliament in a couple of hours from now. We will certainly bring that to you live when that happens again in the 8:00 hour. And then later, the first family will fly to Cape Coast, where they will visit a slave fort where Africans were sold into slavery.

NGUYEN: Also, an Iranian-American scholar has been arrested in Tehran, his home ransacked and computer confiscated. Charges against this man, Kian Tajbakhsh, are not known just yet. He was imprisoned for three months back in 2007, accused of endangering national security.

Now, last night's arrest follows weeks of post-election protests. An Iranian rally and concert is scheduled this morning in Washington, and we will take you there live.

HOLMES: And a cemetery a crime scene now. That is what police have done to this cemetery you're looking at.

This is in Illinois, where hundreds of plots were allegedly dug up and resold. Police say they have to investigate more than 5,000 graves. Relatives are not going to be able to visit now for several days.


SHERIFF THOMAS DART, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS: While we understand the demand for information, we just can't jeopardize a crime scene. And it's becoming clear there are potential crime scenes littered throughout this cemetery.


HOLMES: Well, investigators say employees were dumping the remains at the back of the cemetery, which is, again, just outside of Chicago, as you see there. Four are facing felony charges, the folks that worked there.

NGUYEN: That's quite a story there.

HOLMES: As we - yes, that one's gotten everybody, 'Are you kidding me?;

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: Are you kidding me? (ph)

NGUYEN: Three hundred-plus graves dug up, bodies dumped just so you could resell the plots.

HOLMES: To make some more money.

NGUYEN: That's what - that's what, you know, they're arguing there, that the scheme had been going on for a little while.

HOLMES: All right.

Well, as we mentioned here, of course, the president, he is in Ghana. We'll be talking a lot about that this morning.

But a lot of people thinking, why Ghana? Well, the reason is, the administration says they want to highlight a thriving democracy there.

NGUYEN: Yes, and he has a speech to the parliament about U.S. engagement on the continent. And like we said, that is just after 8 a.m. Eastern. And we will show that to you live right.

But in the meantime, let's go to Acrra, the capital, and our Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne, good morning. Let's talk about the welcome ceremony this morning...


NGUYEN: ...first off.

MALVEAUX: Really, it's kind of amazing when you think about it. When you see - and I want to show you some headlines, some local papers. "The Ghanaian Times," it says, "Akwaaba" (ph). That is official for "welcome." Here's another paper: "Ghana's World," "Today's the day." You see Michelle here. We think that's Photoshopped. We haven't seen her in Kente cloth yet. But obviously, a big welcome to the first family.

Here's another one. It's called "The Mail." "Souvenir, Akwaaba," and it's got the whole first family on the cover We - we saw them arrive late last night. And on the tarmac, they had the traditional Ghanaian dancers. You saw President Obama, Michelle as well, Sasha and Malia being very warmly greeted, a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm from the Ghanaians.

This morning, the official ceremony began. It was a 21-gun salute as well as the playing of the national anthem, a - a look at the troops, that kind of thing. And then later, what we expect is that President Obama will sit down with President John Atta Mills. The two of them will talk about the things that are - are mutually important to their countries. So they're going to be talking about trade, good governance as well as democracy.

He's also going to be later addressing the Ghanaian people, as - as well as many people throughout Africa who are going to be watching about this very special message. And he's going to be talking about the importance of peaceful transitions of power, of democracy. That's one of the reasons why he chose Ghana, because it is such a model, an example of just that - Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, the people of Ghana, though...


NGUYEN: ...Suzanne, are very excited about this trip, no doubt.

What about folks in Kenya and other countries there in Africa? Do they feel a little bit snubbed by the fact that the president is in Ghana?

MALVEAUX: Well, we certainly saw reports that they were a little disappointed that he didn't choose his - his father's home country of - of Kenya. Obviously, he has great connections there. He still has relatives and family there. He even talked about it yesterday, saying that he has family who know hunger first hand, because they still live in villages where people are hungry, and - and tried to stress the importance of - of food aid in terms of agriculture, giving aid to farmers to help provide for food.

A little bit of disappointment there in Kenya, as we've seen some folks talk about. But then there is overwhelming sense of pride here in Ghana that as the first African-American president of the United States coming here to Africa, one of them saying that she was just so happy that this was such a special occasion.

And they - they claim him as his own. They say, you know, 'Welcome home, brother.' This is the kind of thing you've been hearing from people here. So they - they take a little bit of ownership in him here as well.

NGUYEN: Oh yes, definitely. I know T-shirts have been made; there are signs all over the place. It's quite a welcoming.

Suzanne Malveaux...

MALVEAUX: This billboard.


MALVEAUX: There are songs.


MALVEAUX: Everything.

NGUYEN: We'll be talking with you shortly. Thank you, Suzanne.

And this reminder: CNN will cover President Obama's speech to the Ghana parliament. That speech set for 8:10 Eastern this morning.

Don't go anywhere; it'll be live right here - T.J.

HOLMES: All right.

Well, the president certainly will be making his way back to the U.S. after his stop in Ghana. Of course, he'll have a busy week next week. But he's going to be making a pretty symbolic and special trip next Thursday to New York, where he'll be speaking at the NAACP convention there. It kicks off today, and the group is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

There's a new leader at the helm, Ben Jealous. He's the youngest NAACP president ever. He has a fresh and different perspective, and he's got some new priorities.

I sat down and asked him about it. Take a listen.


BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: There's a lot of folks who want to say, the 20th century was the century of the NAACP. But the - the reality is that our generation knows in our hearts as much as we have benefited from the dreams of our ancestors and all their hard work, we're the most murdered generation in this country, the most incarcerated generation on the planet.

At - and - and when you ask yourself who's going to fight those battles, it's hard to imagine them being one unless the NAACP is in full force. And that's what I'm here to do.

HOLMES: Why do you think they wanted you? You're a young man from a different era running the oldest civil-rights organization in the country.

JEALOUS: The person who was youngest before was very early in the tenure of the NAACP. That was Walter White. He was 38 years old.

And he played a integral role in his generation to really embrace the organization and its mission and build it up and really lay - lay the groundwork than then Roy Wilkins and Ben Hooks built upon.

This is a - a moment like that. It was - you know, this is a pivotal point where we've got to get a generation of people to really buy into the - to the NAACP, to really buy into to this association, its vision for human rights and civil rights in this country and define ourselves as - as -- as players for - for as long as it takes.

We don't just fight on an issue for years, we fight for decades, right? You know, battling Jim Crow was, you know, 22 years. To desegregate the military was 30 years. To desegregate corporate America is 40 years, and in some ways ongoing, in the case against Eli Lily right now.

So, you know I - and the battle to level the political playing field - you know, we started that, really, in earnest in - you know, in kind of the mid-1950s. And we're still celebrating victories. I mean, Obama is the first black president; we're almost as excited that Philadelphia, Mississippi just got its first black mayor.

So it's a lot.

HOLMES: What does the NAACP expect from President Obama?

JEALOUS: We expect him to fulfill his promises. We also expect him to get to go back to work.

I mean, we're - we're - let's be real clear: There's a lot of people who push to bail out Wall Street and to bail out Main Street. We need to make sure, and we intend to make sure, that he also fixes Back Street. If we get back to where we were a year ago or two years ago, black unemployment was well above 10 percent. That's just not acceptable. That's just not acceptable.

HOLMES: How is he doing so far?

JEALOUS: So far, he's doing pretty well. But the - the transition in - in Washington has gone more slowly than what a lot of people have accepted.

HOLMES: How patient is the NAACP going to be?

JEALOUS: We've been patient, and they keep giving us, you know, reason to - to keep the faith.

HOLMES: A lot people look and say, 'There is a black president. A black man is in the White House. How in the world can you say a black person can't make it? Obviously, black people can make it if you can make it to the White House.'

JEALOUS: You know, I actually grew up in one of those families like - I think like most black families, where we were told that in - at the end of the day, we didn't have any excuse.

And so when you look right now at the situation, yes, you have to say, you know, 'No excuses, young man. You have to push as hard as you can.' But you also have the same breath, have to say, 'No excuses for not fighting the fight on behalf of all your brothers and sisters, on behalf of your cousins, or on behalf of the family that - that's not doing as well as the one that you were privileged to' - you know, don't think for a second that when you succeed that you did this by yourself, or that your success is yours alone, or that that success doesn't come with a responsibility to make the way for others.


HOLMES: All right. Our conversation is not over just yet. A lot of people wondering about their policy, the NAACP's policy on gay rights.


HOLMES: A lot of people see that as a civil-rights issue, that the NAACP should be in the middle of. Well, he has an answer for you on where the NAACP is. You'll hear that answer coming up in just three minutes.

Also, we've got this and a number of topics. You might even call them hot topics...

NGUYEN: Yes we do.

HOLMES: ...this morning that we want people to participate in.

One of them, the NAACP, what do you think their position should be? Is the NAACP still relevant? Some even ask that question. Their position on gay marriage. By all means, send that to us.

But also, we got a number of topics we'd like to (INAUDIBLE)

NGUYEN: Yes, we've got Spike Lee in the house today.

HOMLES: Swee's (ph) coming here in a couple of hours.

NGUYEN: Twentieth anniversary of "Do the Right Thing."

NGUYEN: That was a movie that, you know, really sparked a lot of debate and conversation about race relations. I can't believe it's been 20 years already.

HOLMES: Twenty years. '89, yes.

NGUYEN: So he's in studio today. We want to ask you, got any questions for Spike? Because we'll be taking them and presenting them to him as well.

What else do we have on the table?

HOLMES: Well, we got certainly the president's trip to Ghana.

NGUYEN: Yes, no doubt.

HOLMES: He's had a long trip this week anyway.

So any of these things you want to sign off on. Also, the story - and just a horrible story people talking about out of - the cemetery story out of Illinois.

NGUYEN: Oh, the graves that were dug up.

HOLMES: That's just horrible.

And also, Steve McNair. A lot of people still talking about that, and the circumstances surrounding his death.

NGUYEN: Yes, and there's a memorial today as well. So weigh in on all of these topics. Just go to our Facebook pages, the Twitter sites. You can e-mail us, Plenty of ways of getting in touch with us.

Also, we have the weather to tell you about today. Reynolds Wolf has been a - keeping an eye on that. And he joins us.

Hey there, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey. And you know, we've really - keeping a sharp eye on the - the incredibly rough weather in parts of Texas. I'm not talking in terms of storm, I'm talking in terms of heat. We're going to touch on that coming up.

Plus, we're going to talk about one of the areas in the nation most susceptible to tropical systems. We're talking about the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and what they're doing to what could be a very, very busy season.

We'll have more on that coming up. You're watching CNN SATURDAY MORNING.





HOLMES: Well, this was the scene last night. The president, President Obama, arriving in Africa. And Betty on your trip now, my trip I made as well to Africa, this is what you get at the airport. You're greeting by traditional African dancers, a celebratory - a little party right on the tarmac, essentially, every time you go to Africa.

NGUYEN: And it's just so lovely, too, just to see the spirit and how people come out and so excited, too. And of course, with the president being there, this is quite a historic moment for them.

HOLMES: So yes, we'll be following his trip. Again, don't go too far from us here. We're covering live coverage here of the president's trip to Ghana, and his speech coming up to parliament around 8:00 Eastern time. We'll have that for you here live.

NGUYEN: Absolutely.

Well, you know, today, Africa. Next week, New York. President Barack Obama to speak at the NAACP national convention on Thursday, which is the oldest civil-rights group now in its - what? - 100th year?

HOLMES: One hundred years. So something to celebrate.

He's actually - I was there last year when he spoke at their 99th - as a candidate, their 99th convention. But now he's coming back on the 100th to talk to them again as president of the United States.

And a lot of present-day issues to - to talk about with the NAACP at least. One they're tackling is gay rights.




HOLMES: Yes, gay marriage, a topic that the - the oldest civil- rights group in the country has been dealing with. Well, I asked the new NAACP president, still fairly new, President Ben Jealous, why his civil-rights organization doesn't yet have a policy officially on gay marriage.

Take a listen.


HOLMES: Does the NAACP believe that gay marriage should be legal across the land?

JEALOUS: We don't take a position on that nationally.

We have been steadfast advocates for the basic civil rights of gay people, making sure that, for instance, hate-crimes protection is extended to gay people. We understand that when four black young people were killed not far from here in Newark, on a playground last year, that all four of them were gay.

There's a lot made in the press because the guys who shot them were in Latino, is this black and Latino tension? But we're in the community. So we got the story not just from the national news, but from our local folks. But (INAUDIBLE) those four kids from Delaware State (ph) (INAUDIBLE) - many of them were gay. And that appeared to be a dynamic on the playground.

And so we want to make sure that - that our children and our family members who are gay is - basic civil rights and human rights are protected.

HOLMES: Is that not considered then, in you all's estimation, a civil rights? Some would call it that kind of civil right, a - a issue of equality, a gay person being able to marry who they want to marry?

JEALOUS: That's a very tense debate inside our association. You know, and there have been branches and state conferences - like, for instance, in California and San Francisco, come out very clearly on the issue.

There are others, some of our national board members for instance, from the Midwest, who have taken an entirely opposite position.

We're a democratic, small 'd,' organization, where issues are debated until a consensus is reached. And that one is very much still under debate amongst the membership of the association.

HOLMES: So you will foresee a time when, once that debate is complete, that the NAACP could come out on a national level and have an official position on gay marriage?

JEALOUS: I think having an official position on gay marriage is certainly a possibility. When it will happen - you know, we - we work on issues for decades. So we - we're quick to point out to younger organizations in the civil-rights community that something you think is a sprint may turn out to be a marathon.

HOLMES: What do you think when you hear people - I know you heard this comparison, heard out in California plenty of times, where people would compare the gay-marriage debate and struggle with the civil-rights struggle?

What do you think when you hear that? Is that a fair comparison?

JEALOUS: When people say, you know, this is - this is deeply personal for me. I have a young man who I grew up with, the only two black boys our age in the town where we were born. Our moms were best friends. We became blood brothers when were 4. I call him my brother; he calls me his brother. He's transgender; he's gay.

I've seen the homophobia he's been subjected to in the black community. I've seen the racism that he's been subjected to in the gay community. And I know that one of those identities he can - he can and has hid when he's had to. And nobody should have to hide their identity, nobody.

But when people say gay-straight, black-white, same struggle, same fight. Not exactly. Not exactly.

At the same time - now, the - you know, I have been personally very supportive and encouraging of people who are fighting the battle for gay marriage. I was born in a family where my parent's marriage was illegal. They had to get married in Washington, D.C. Their wedding caravan back to the party in Baltimore was mistaken for a funeral procession. People got off the side and did the sign of the cross and pulled - Catholic state of Maryland.

And so I'm very concerned about the children who are treated hostily (ph) in school grounds because people feel license to sort of through hatred at their parents based on their lifestyle decisions that they make.

But the NAACP is like any other democratic organization, and we're going to debate this fully internally. I, as the head of it, can't say that we have any position nationally. But I can tell you that it's a deeply held, tense debate. And we - because we've seen the way it's torn about other institutions - I'm an Episcopalian, for instance; my church has been torn apart on this issue - are committed to keeping our body together. Because there's a whole bunch of issues, including a whole bunch of issues that are very relevant to gay people, that we have to be together on if we're going to win, whether it's bullying, whether it's hate crimes, for instance.

So - so they count on us to stay together, too.


HOLMES: And we also to remind of you of a must-see CNN special event. Our special correspondent Soledad O'Brien examining what it means to be "BLACK IN AMERICA." It is the follow-up to our "BLACK IN AMERICA" from last year. This is "BLACK IN AMERICA 2." It premieres next year, July 22 and 23, right here on CNN.

And what do you think about some of what you've heard the NAACP president say this morning? Do you think that they should come out with a stance on gay marriage? Do you think the NAACP is still relevant? And what should their mission be now?

Sound off on that and other things with Betty and I, Facebook and Twitter. You know where to find us by now.

NGUYEN: Absolutely.

And we're talking about this this morning: electric cars touted as being environmentally friendly, right?

HOLMES: Of course.

NGUYEN: Well, Josh Levs found out it has one limitation.


JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey guys, we're about to drive an actual electric car through the streets of Atlanta. And there's a pretty serious speed limit on this.

Let's see how this goes.


NGUYEN: Yes, we'll see how Josh and his little yellow car did.



(MUSIC, PRINCE, "LITTLE RED CORVETTE") HOLMES: Just keep the music going. Let's keep that here.

NGUYEN: Yes, I used to love this song.

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE). Some songs just don't go away.


HOLMES: They're never going to get old and sound out of place.

Not quite "Little Red Corvette" we're about to show you here.


HOLMES: Automakers are busy developing electric cars, hoping they may be the wave of the future.

NGUYEN: Yes, and you know, some electric cars are already on the market, though they might not be the answer to all your driving needs.

Our Josh Levs took one for a spin.


LEVS: So we've got the Anvil here today.


LEVS: Tell us what we're looking at. What is this? What's the deal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's an LSV, which means a low-speed vehicle. It is certainly a lot more creative than what you're accustomed to seeing, wide-track technology. We made a little more aggressive. Big automotive wheels.

LEVS: Let's break this down for the viewers. Wide-track technology means it's a broad car, it's a wide car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very wide, which gives you more features inside, better cockpit.

LEVS: So where is all the electric gear? Is it underneath it? Is it all packed into here in just a much smaller unit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of it is in here (ph).

LEVS: I didn't just break it by knocking on it, did I?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you did not.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very durable.

LEVS: OK, good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smart charger up front.

LEVS: Uh huh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got the battery pack underneath the seats, and the drive train in the back.

LEVS: What honestly distinguishes this from just a glorified golf cart?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let's say a golf cart may have 7 horsepower; this has up to 50. A golf cart has maybe a 46-inch wheel path; this has about 60 inches.

We're not going to rub shoulders inside. We got heated seats, full automotive gauges, more intuitive movements.

LEVS: Let's give it a shot.

First of all, you have this, which is forward and reverse, instead of a gear shift.


And then - and then on the - on the left side here, the - the first button, there with the "T," it works as a boost or a turbo button, so it gives you 30 seconds of peak horsepower.


LEVS: It feels like an average car. It's a little bit harder to speed up. But once it does, it just carries on its own. You don't need to hit the gas or anything.


LEVS: We're driving on the kinds of roads that are best for this kind of car. Since it only goes up to 25 miles an hour, it's best to be on roads that only go up to 35 or only up to 30.


LEVS: So tell me, why would someone buy this car when they could spend the same amount of money and get a car that has the side windows and is completely covered and has air conditioning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly it's "green"; it's doing the right thing. It's fun to drive. And it doesn't use any fuel.

LEVS: If you're a family, if you already have a couple of cars but you want to do the right thing and save money and get gas, get this as a third car?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, and that's happening every day within 6.9 miles of residential homes, Americans are driving about 15 billion miles a week. We can make a difference in that segment. And hopefully the consumer will drive the demand. (END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: All right. So Speed Racer joins us now live.

Josh, I got to tell you though, if I was behind you, I would be on the horn, man. That thing was going kind of slow.

LEVS: It was a little bit funny how we were on normal roads, just in - kind of in this neighborhood...


LEVS: ...and everyone's passing us no matter what they're on. And at one point, someone pushing a stroller went a little faster than us.

NGUYEN: Get out of here!

HOLMES: That sounds about right.

LEVS: Yes, so it wasn't exactly a joyride. But who knows? Maybe it's a step toward the future. That's the theory.

HOLMES: All right. And if I'm rolling around in my big old SUV...

NGUYEN: Mm-hmm.

HOLMES: ...and one of those little things gets in my way, am I going to just clean somebody out?


LEVS: It's scary, right? I mean, that's the question.

So here's the thing. Right now, you're - as you can tell, there's no air bags on it. In fact, they still have to put the all-weather enclosures that just - it's kind of closing a Convertible. But they are saying it has a wide stance; it has four-wheel brakes, and that basically they are convinced that is safe enough to drive right now.

I felt safe when I was driving it. I felt perfectly safe. But I would never put my son in that thing.

So obviously, you know, there's some limits right there. And more info right here,

NGUYEN: Yes, that's quite a statement that you felt safe, but you wouldn't put your child in it.

LEVS: Exactly.


LEVS: Yes, exactly. More info at the blog, And yes, you guys got it right. I felt safe, but yes, I wouldn't recommend taking kids in that thing. Just be aware.

NGUYEN: All right. Thank you, Josh.


LEVS: Thanks, guys.

NGUYEN: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to CNN's SATURDAY MORNING. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And good morning to you all. I am T.J. Holmes. It's 6:30 in Atlanta, Georgia, where we sit; 5:30 in Dallas - know anybody there?

NGUYEN: Where it's hot. Sweating it out. Yes, my family.



NGUYEN: Sweating it out in Dallas, Texas, today. We'll talk about the weather in a moment.

But first, let's get to this: a Florida couple shot in their home while eight of their children slept. Officials are looking for three men seen approaching the home of Byrd and Melanie Billings. Now, they've lived in a rural area near Pensacola, Florida, and the Billings actually had 16 children, 12 of them adopted.

HOLMES: Well, the president of a Philadelphia-area swim club says safety, not racism, was the reason his club canceled swimming privileges for a day-care center with mostly African-American children. He says there were too many kids for the size of the pool and the number of lifeguards.

Some of the children reported hearing racial comments after arriving at that club. State officials now looking into this.

NGUYEN: Pakistan's military says it is in contact with Afghanistan's Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. Now, the Pakistanis, they are offering to bring him and other commanders to the negotiating table with the U.S. But in return, Pakistan wants concessions from Washington over issues with longtime rival India.

Pakistan says the U.S. cannot win in Afghanistan through war alone.

HOLMES: Well, President Obama meeting this hour with the president of Ghana. The first family arrived in the African nation last night after trips to Moscow as well as Italy.

President Obama addresses Ghana's parliament this morning. And then later, he'll visit Cape Coast Castle. It was the launching point for many Africans when they were sold into slavery in the 1800s.

CNN, right here, of course, we will be bringing you live coverage of the president's trip to Ghana. Also, his speech in the capital. That's coming up at about 8:00 Eastern time. You can stay with us right here for that. We'll have it for you live. A lot of people asking, of all the African nations, why pick Ghana? Well, to help us answer that question, our Nkepile Mabuse is in the capital of Accra.

Hello there to you. A lot of people might have thought maybe he would go visit his home country of Kenya, but he wanted to highlight democracy. And actually, Kenya is not the best place to do it right now.

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And Kenyans are very, very disappointed. They thought that President Obama would go there first on his trip to Africa, but Ghanaians are extremely excited that Mr. Obama has chosen their country.

People of Accra, Ghana the capital city, have lined up alongside the road that President Obama is expected to use on his way to the International Conference Center where he will deliver a crucial speech not only to Ghanaians but to the rest of Africa, T.J.


MABUSE (voice-over): From welcome posters, paintings, T-shirts, trinkets, cloths and flags, Ghana is spellbound by President Barack Obama's visit. His pictures are posted almost everywhere you turn in the capital Accra.

The trip has been front-page news for days, but while people here celebrate, others on the continent are asking, why Ghana for President Obama's first presidential trip to sub-Saharan Africa.

Former President John Kufour believes it's fitting privilege.

JOHN KUFOUR, FORMER GHANAIAN PRESIDENT: He wants to use Ghana as a base to address all of Africa, pointing at good governance, pointing at, I presume, economic development, pointing at absence of conflicts.


MABUSE: The West African country's top musicians have even written a song about the visit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Ghana.

MABUSE: The song is full of praise for Mr. Obama and words of caution for Ghanaians.

KWAME NSIAH, GHANAIAN ARTIST: There are no more person on the streets this Obama is coming with us plane full of (INAUDIBLE) to come and share it to everybody. And if it's not real, so we put all of those things in the song to let them. To question (ph) them about what is actually going to happen.

And we don't wish that he gives us money. We wish that he comes here to share with our leaders the way forward for Africa.

MABUSE: When it comes to Africa, Mr. Obama may have a tough act to follow. His predecessor, George W. Bush who visited Ghana in February of last year poured billions of dollars into the continent and his AIDS relief fund has won praise. And the Clinton administration sought to boost trade with some African countries.

By choosing Ghana as the country from which he's expected to outline his Africa policy, it's believed Mr. Obama is trying to send a message that under his leadership, investment and aid will be linked to good governance.


MABUSE: Besides its history of peaceful transfers of power, Ghana also has strong and vibrant pillars of democracy like a free press. And it is the importance of such democratic institutions in ensuring accountability on the continent that President Obama is acting (ph) to highlight during his visit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So at the end of the day, then what? We're going to have Barack in town. He will deliver a nice policy statement. After all, it's good for opportunities. Then what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a great opportunity for tourism.

MABUSE: The debate in Ghana at the moment is not about what Mr. Obama can do for them but how they can use his visit to do for themselves. This man is already cashing in on the euphoria.



MABUSE: President Obama's motorcade is expected to drive past here on the road behind me in just less than an hour and a half's time and people are waiting here in anticipation.

But many are disappointed that they are not going to see the president in person because he's not holding any public events. So they are disappointed that they're going to be watching President Obama in their own country on television -- T.J.

HOLMES: Yes, still happy he's there nonetheless.

Nkepile Mabuse, thank you so much for that report. And of course, we will continue to follow the President's trip.


And later today, President Obama will visit the slave fort of Cape Coast. So what will he see there? Well next, I'm going to speak with a woman who has been there and she will join us live from Ghana.


REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Here we are and here we happen to be in hurricane season; hard to believe.

NGUYEN: I know.

WOLF: We've seen some activity out in parts of the Pacific, but in the Atlantic...

NGUYEN: It starts in June?

WOLF: It goes all the way until, say, November. And you know, there's plenty of time for things to get really active.

One of the places that is really vulnerable for these storms happens to be on the Outer Banks of the North Carolina, the Barrier Islands. And during the summer time season, during the peak of hurricane season you've got thousands of people will go and they go out there, but you only have two means of getting off the island.

Check out the story.


WOLF (voice-over): The Outer Banks of North Carolina, the crown jewel of the Tar Hill State with 180 miles of white sandy beaches, gentle surf and warm sunny days attracts hundreds of thousands to its shores each summer.

KARA SMITH, VACATIONER: It's the most beautiful place. I've been coming here since I was about nine so it has a lot of memories.

WOLF: But the things that draw people to this stunning ribbon of isolated sandbars also makes it the last place that you'd want to be during a tropical event.

"SANDY" SANDERSON, DIRECTOR DARE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Hurricanes and the Barrier Islands don't get along at all.

Sandy Sanderson would know. He is the Director of the Dare County Emergency Management Office and he's seen his share of storms.

SANDERSON: The difficulty is convincing people that evacuation is your only safe decision when a hurricane threatens.

WOLF: He says that at the height of the summer population the Outer Banks could be evacuated in 18 hours if everyone leaves when ordered. But the problem? Just one two-lane highway running the length of the islands and only two bridges connecting the mainland, not many options for those fleeing to safety.

SANDERSON: So any kind of high surf is a potential for over washing the highway and certainly cutting that only access that we have for evacuation.

WOLF (on camera): And unlike the Florida Keys that are made primarily of corals, the Outer Banks is just sand which erodes pretty quickly. So to kind of slow down that process, they've been putting out giant sandbags like these to protect homes like the one you see behind me, vulnerable to the next big storm.

(voice-over): Stanley Riggs, the geologist who spend decades studying the shifting sands that create these islands. He says that change is inevitable and that storms are a necessary part of their natural evolution.

(on camera): So it doesn't matter of how many sandbags, how many roads, how many bridges you put in here, the erosion is going to occur.

STANLEY RIGGS, GEOLOGIST: The shoreline is receding because of rising sea level and the whole front side is moving westward as it's been doing for 18,000 years. And it's still doing it.

WOLF: Riggs believes that the harder we try to lock the islands in their current position, building homes on the beach, creating artificial dunes and levees, the more catastrophic a storm's impact will be.

RIGGS: It won't take much of a storm surge, once that thing's overtop, to blow this thing out. It will be like the cork out of a champagne bottle. It will go out then.

WOLF: Wow.

And it's that vulnerability that keeps people here vigilant.

(on camera): As a geologist and knowing what you know about these islands, if you were living out here and you got the order to evacuate would you heed that?

RIGGS: I'd get the hell out of here.


WOLF: Pretty strong words.



WOLF: I mean the guy does not mince words. And again, we were just asking while we are watching the story. We actually you know comment on things we see that thankfully at times you can't hear.

And we were talking about some of those houses. You were saying how much longer will that house last? Because the house is along the shore, possibly they could be gone this summer. I mean...

NGUYEN: That is right Wolf, because they're so close to the water's edge.

WOLF: Absolutely.

NGUYEN: And I'm really surprised that they're even allowed to be that close. WOLF: Well, you know, the thing is I mean, you have to remember the outer banks basically just a pile of sand sitting out there in the Atlantic Ocean. And every time a wave comes onshore you have a little bit of erosion.


WOLF: So it's a continuing process that's been going on for millions of millions of years.

NGUYEN: Maybe when it was built there was...

WOLF: Absolutely. And many of the houses that you happen to see right along the sand there was a time about ten years ago you actually had a road that was on the other of that stretch of houses.

And now, again, all you need to have is one big storm and it heightens the erosion, speeds up the process. And we're going to see fewer homes.

So the biggest thing we really have to tell you about that story is just the idea of evacuating people off that strip of sand at a very quick rate. They can do it at very -- if everything goes as planned, 18 hours. 18 hours, they're possibly...

NGUYEN: And that's if there is no problem.

WOLF: If there aren't any problems. So it's a big mess, big problem. Very scary stuff.

HOLMES: Appreciate you as always Reynolds.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Reynolds very good stuff.

As you know President Obama, his Supreme Court nominee could become the first Latina to join the group.

HOLMES: It's not as simple as the president saying he wants her; he's got some hurdles he has to get past. We'll look at the confirmation hearings ahead for Sonia Sotomayor.


NGUYEN: Well, the president is speaking live from Ghana today; it's in our 8:00 a.m. hour. We'll bring that to you right here.

But there's something else about Ghana that we want to tell you about, its history as a slave fort. That chapter cannot be overlooked.

Christa Edwards is the associate director of NYU's first study abroad program on the African continent. And she's been living in Ghana for the past 5 years, helping students learn about Africa.

This morning she is our guide. In fact, I have to tell you she is actually stuck in traffic at a government roadblock. You're laughing there Christa. Were you on your way to hopefully and possibly see the president speak today?

CHRISTA EDWARDS, NYU STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM: Yes. We're trying to do that as well as do some different interviews and talk to different people. But literally the traffic is unbelievable. It's out of this world.

Anywhere you turn there's a road block that's been put up by the police. So we are literally sitting in traffic. People have started to get out of their vehicles, out of public transport, to start to walk outrageous distances just to see if they'll get a view of Obama. And just sort of find out what's going on around town. It's a difficult situation.

NGUYEN: No doubt. I know there's a lot excitement there.

EDWARDS: Although the enthusiasm is there.

NGUYEN: Yes. You know, actually, I have been to Ghana. I know the traffic on a normal day is pretty hectic as it is.

Let me ask you about Cape Coast and the castles there.


NGUYEN: The president is going to be traveling there later today. This is quite an emotional trip. That is of course a slave fort. You have been there. Talk to us a little bit about what the president will see once he gets there.

EDWARDS: Well, he will witness a very tragic period of history in our world. He will enter the castle -- I believe he's going to go to Cape Coast Castle. There are two castles, the Elmina Castle which is the oldest and then the Cape Coast Castle. He's scheduled to go to the Cape Coast Castle.

When he enters he's going to experience the dungeons. And in these dungeons, hundreds and hundreds of men and women were kept for months at a time in what are unbelievable conditions. And I believe when he sees that he will be very shocked and just struck by what, well, some of -- those of us who are of African descent, our ancestors had to go through before going through the middle passage and on to the Americas.

So it is -- while we read about it in history, going there and facing it, a hands-on experience is just unbelievable. So I think he'll be very touched as well as the first lady, especially as she is a direct descendant from the slave trade. I'm sure that she will also feel the pain.

NGUYEN: Well, in your personal experience, explain to us what was the most moving, perhaps the most chilling moment during your tour of Cape Coast?

EDWARDS: Well, I think going into the female dungeon. I am an African-American woman. I think being there and realizing that so many women had to live in what I described earlier as horrific conditions and be raped in these castles and see other women in fact raped before them by the colonial masters or just the pure stench of being in a dungeon with hundreds and hundreds of other women in unbelievably hot conditions.

It really, really affects you when you're there. In fact, I know in both castles the stench of perhaps the past is still there.

So the first time that I entered those castles and those particular dungeons, especially the "door of no return," it was a very chilling experience for me, very painful. I had tears rolling down my eyes, as many people who go there experience.

And I even heard voices, voices, chains. I thought that would never really be the experience. I had heard that people had experienced it in the past, but I myself also heard the voices. It was very scary.

It really, really changed me in many, many, many ways. But at the same time it made me realize that we must never -- we must all vow never to allow that experience to take place again. And I think you go through those dungeons, go through the castle and then come out just sort of hoping and sort of renewed passion that this would never happen again.

In fact, that's what they have you do when you leave the castle is say, "Never again." The groups that I've taken there before, we always say that because we hope that...

NGUYEN: Yes. And I know there's some (INAUDIBLE) as well that once people have toured the castles they even have a prayer, not only to say never again but just to renew your spirit and know that this is something that's in the past and hopefully will never happen in the future.

Christa Edwards thanks so much for spending a little time with us. I know that you're trying to get to the president's speech today; best of luck to you because we can hear the horns blowing in the taxicab talking. It might be quite a ride, a little bit of time before you get there. We do appreciate you spending a little time with us today.

CNN of course will bring you live coverage of President Obama's speech to the parliament in Accra, the capital. Originally set for just after 8:00 Eastern. It's has now been moved back to 8:40 Eastern this morning. And when it does happen, we'll bring it to you live.

In the meantime though, Anderson Cooper is with President Obama on his historic trip to Ghana. Monday night at 10:00 Eastern, don't miss "AC360: A SPECIAL REPORT" as Anderson sits down for an exclusive interview with the President. Again, Monday night 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

HOLMES: All right. Big week coming up next week for the President's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor; her first steps to possibly becoming the first Latina on the Supreme Court. We'll see what kind of hurdles she has to get past, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Over here with Reynolds in the Weather Center, we're talking about some hot weather. I didn't think we were talking about any storms, but we might have some in the wrong place in the wrong time...

WOLF: Absolutely. Yes, namely Cape Canaveral where we have the space shuttle. We're talking about the idea of high-octane fuel on a shuttle going up; you don't want to have that with a lightning strike, a lightning strike is about 78 times higher than the surface of the sun. That combination is not something you want to mix with.

HOLMES: Well, when you put it that way.

WOLF: Yes. That's the reason they try to have, say, like a 30-mile- wide open window of clear weather for the shuttle launch. Looks like it's probably not going happen today; maybe better luck at some other point but certainly it doesn't look like it's going to be in the cards.

Let me just show you the reason why that might be the case. The reason why is because we've got a stationary front that's hugging right along parts of central Florida. And that combined with their daytime heating is going to give you a chance of showers, maybe some thunderstorms.

Of course, with that lightning, that's the reason why that might put the kibosh (ph) on that shuttle launch. If we make way back in the parts of the Midwest and back in the Great Lakes, looking at a chance of severe storms. Certainly no shuttle launches there but if you're trying to launch your day with a drive maybe down to Toledo, maybe going to Columbus, Ohio, scattered showers and storms are going to be a possibility.

Already this morning we've seen a few of those storms in Michigan, nothing severe but still some beneficial rainfall. Still a very cool day, all things considered through parts of Detroit and back in Chicago; temperatures mainly in the 80s, don't seem so cool. But when you've been in parts of Texas where the high is going up to 101 degrees today, 95 in Houston, Austin which usually get to the triple digits.

In spots like say McAllen, Texas, today will be the seventh day in a row that they've had highs going up to the triple digits. 113 expected for Phoenix, 106 in Vegas, 59 in San Francisco, back in Salt Lake City up to 90 and then when you get to New York and also Boston, high temperatures mainly into the upper to mid 70s.

So overall it should be a fairly nice day for you in parts of the northeast if you don't mind those scattered showers.

That is a look at your forecast. We're going to have more coming up throughout the day, so sit tight.

Let's send it back to you guys in the newscast.

NGUYEN: All right Reynolds, thank you. President Obama addresses Ghana's parliament at 8:40 Eastern this morning. We're going to take you there live to find out what's on the agenda.

HOLMES: We're also going to be talking about how people are receiving him there. And they are receiving him well. All of those details, live coverage, stay with us this morning.


HOLMES: Hello there, everybody, from the CNN Center. This is CNN SATURDAY MORNING on this July 11th. I'm T.J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: Yes, good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I'm Betty Nguyen.

President Obama is in Ghana this morning. He's got a warm welcome. He's been there actually to speak not only at 8:00 this morning in our Eastern hour, but he's also going to be touring some of the dungeons, as we spoke about a little bit earlier there, at Cape Coast, a slave fort.

But a lot of people there so excited that he is in country. In fact, they're playing some tunes on the radio that they sang in his honor.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: You know, you can make out the parts you need to make out. It says "Welcome Obama." But, yes, some of the most popular artists there in West Africa put together a video. This is being played out on the radio. They're blaring it on cars, in the streets, all over the place. Everybody is excited that President Obama is in country.

And so, again, like Betty just mentioned, his speech is coming up at our 8:00 hour. We will have that for you live.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime though, police are now declaring a crime scene at an Illinois cemetery where hundreds of plots were allegedly dug up and then resold. Police say they have to investigate more than 5,000 graves. Relatives -- well, they're not going to be able to visit them for several days because of that investigation. Investigators say employees were dumping the remains at the back of the cemetery, which is just outside of Chicago. Four people face felony charges.

HOLMES: The funeral services for former NFL quarterback Steve McNair are scheduled for today near his hometown in Mississippi. Police say McNair's mistress shot and killed him in Nashville last weekend before then killing herself. Live reports from Mississippi are coming for you later this morning.

NGUYEN: A heavy paramilitary presence today in Urumqi, China, after last weekend's violent protests. Officials are now reporting a big jump in the death toll. They say at least 184 people were killed. The violence was a result of ethnic tensions between the Uighurs, who are predominantly Muslim and members of China's Han majority.

Let's go back to President Obama. He is touring a hospital in the Ghanaian capital of Accra this morning. And later, he's going to address the parliament.

HOLMES: All right. Let's head over to our Suzanne Malveaux who is traveling with the president on this trip.

Suzanne, hello once again to you -- there she is. Good morning, once again to you.


HOLMES: Now, the president is supposed to -- well, you've been on the road a while, haven't you, Suzanne? What is going on with the president? Two presidents are meeting this morning. What do they have to chat about?

MALVEAUX: Well, T.J., I want to show you, first of all, there are a lot of souvenirs we've found on the campaign trail. This here in Ghana, this traditional wrap here, "Akwaaba," that is the official welcome, saying welcome to President Obama. One of the local papers here is very excited about the first family. You'll see there the picture on the front.

We saw late last night the first family arriving on the tarmac. They were greeted by traditional dancers as you had heard that song that was playing, that is playing throughout the country as you had mentioned. There were some more formal official ceremonies this morning, the 21-gun salute, the playing of the national anthems as well as the guards -- the changing of the color guard. All of this as the two leaders sit down, President Obama meeting with President John Atta Mills.

And what emerged from that meeting was President Obama saying that Africa is not separate from world affairs, that that is why he is here. It's why he's here during this trip to really demonstrate this is a country where previous presidents, Bush and Clinton, have been before, where there is a peaceful transition of democracy, where things run very smoothly. He's going to talk about good governance, the important of that not only here in Ghana but throughout Africa -- T.J.?

HOLMES: All right. Our Suzanne Malveaux is traveling, again, with the president there in Ghana. We'll be talking to you again this morning. Thank you so much.

NGUYEN: Well, CNN's Anderson Cooper is with President Obama on his historic trip to Africa. The president is due to tour one of the fortresses on Ghana's coast. And as I mentioned earlier, they were used as transit points for shipping slaves all over the world. Anderson went to one last night, in fact, and then talked about it with Campbell Brown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON COOPER, "AC360" HOST: The emotional high point of the trip is when he's going to come here to the Cape Coast, where there's a series of fortresses, several hundred years old each of them, that were used basically as holding cells and transshipment points for millions of slaves who were then sent to the new world, sent to Europe and all around the world here for hundreds of years. The president is going to tour one of those fortresses with his family, with his kids.

There are dungeons in these fortresses where hundreds of slaves were crammed in before they were loaded out onto ships and sent to America, sent to elsewhere in the new world and in Europe.

I can tell you, I was at the fortress today, I was in those dungeons. It is a -- it is a haunting place to be. It is an emotional trip for anyone who goes there. And the president will be there with his family and we'll be there with him as well talking with him about his feelings on the trip.


NGUYEN: And you don't want to miss a special "AC360" Monday night, 10:00 Eastern, when Anderson shares his exclusive access to President Obama on his journey to Africa.

HOLMES: And also, a reminder, a little later this morning, CNN will bring you live coverage of President Obama's speech to Ghana's parliament, the address at 8:40 Eastern Time. We'll have it right here for you on CNN.

NGUYEN: Judge Sonia Sotomayor is about to face the biggest challenge in her bid to become the country's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. And Paul Steinhauser, he is CNN's deputy political director and he joins us now with a preview of the showdown.

Hello, Paul. How are you doing?


NGUYEN: All right. I need you to lay it out for us. When it comes to these hearings, what do you expect from them? And who's going to lead the questioning?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, it all starts on Monday. The Senate Judiciary Committee, and it's going to be a full week's worth of hearings -- confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor, her nomination to the Supreme Court.

And, yes, right now, this is interesting, Betty. The breakdown on this committee: 12 Democrats, seven Republicans.

The Republicans are led by Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. He is ranking Republican on the committee. So, you'll see him questioning Sonia Sotomayor quite often and maybe he'll be leading some of the attacks if there are going to be attacks on her. Also, Senator John Cornyn from Texas is another Republican who has been pretty outspoken about Sotomayor recently. And you could see him as well lead some of the serious questioning at the Supreme Court nominee.

NGUYEN: Yes. And you know, as we watch this play out Monday, are there any particular stumbling blocks that we should kind of be looking out for possibly?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, Monday will be a day where you're going to hear mostly from the senators. The questioning of Sonia Sotomayor may start late Monday or most likely, Tuesday and Wednesday. And it could go into Thursday as well and then we'll see other people testify later in the week.

But as you mentioned -- as you asked, what are some of the stumbling blocks? I think you could see questions about her stances on affirmative action, also, those comments she made about her Latina heritage and how that may or may not affect her decisions on the high court. I think you'll have to see Republicans ask her about those kinds of things, things that we heard about soon after her nomination by President Obama.

NGUYEN: Right.

All right. So -- but, you know, once this is all said and done, how quickly do you think we're going to know if she was either approved or denied?

STEINHAUSER: Well, we'll know about the confirmation vote in the Senate on the judiciary committee immediately once they make that vote either at the end of next week or the following week. After that is over and under the assumption she gets confirmed by the committee, then it goes to the full Senate -- and President Obama has said, he would like the full Senate to vote on Sonia Sotomayor before they break for their summer recess at the beginning of August, Betty.

NGUYEN: And, if approved, how soon will she be meeting with justices and reviewing cases and all that?

STEINHAUSER: If approved by the Senate, by the -- before they break at the end of August, she could join the high court almost immediately. Remember, they're not in session until early October, but they will be hearing -- this is interesting -- they will be hearing one case in the middle of September. This was a case that was held over from this past session, a case involving a campaign film against Hillary Clinton.

So, she could be part of those discussions as well in mid-September. And then of course, the full high court next session begins at the beginning of October.

NGUYEN: All right. But it all gets under way Monday morning -- looking forward to that. Thanks for the insight, Paul.

STEINHAUSER: Thank you, Betty. NGUYEN: And we want to give you this programming note. CNN will provide live coverage of the Sonia Sotomayor hearings Monday morning starting 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

HOLMES: All right. You've made payments to your landlord, you made them on time. But there's a loophole that you could have missed that could force you to lose your home.

Also, there's a lot of government money going around these days it seems. Do you want to know where that government money is going in your neighborhood? Josh Levs will show 'em for us.



HOLMES: You'll recognize certainly the song and this routine. But this is from Gary, Indiana, last night paying tribute to Michael Jackson, their home boy. That's where Jackson got his start, his childhood home. Instead of saying good-bye to the King of Pop yesterday with their own tribute there that featured a lot of local talent, hoping maybe they could be the next big thing to come out of Gary, Indiana.

NGUYEN: That's pretty good though. I love that.

OK. So, let's talk about your money for just a second. You made all of your condo payments, maybe even your house payments, yet you're facing foreclosure. Is that a mistake? Well, not if you have failed to pay your homeowners association or neighborhood fees. It's a little-known loophole that costs thousands of homeowners off guard.

And housing expert Clyde Anderson is here to sort it all out for us.

Clyde, you know, when we think about something like this, you don't think that's going to will send you into foreclosure. But how many times will an HOA actually foreclose on a home?

CLYDE ANDERSON, HOUSING EXPERT: You know, this used to be something that was rare. But we're starting to see more and more. In some areas, it's increased as much as 30 percent. And so, you're starting to see more HOAs that get fed up to the point that they don't have the money to keep up the communities. And they're foreclosing a lot more now.

NGUYEN: But -- OK. So, you made your payments, though, yet the HOA can still come in and foreclose because you haven't paid your dues?

ANDERSON: Because you haven't paid your dues, exactly. Because when you sign that contract, when you agree to purchase this home, you're agreeing to make these payments on the HOA. And so, you've got to do it. So, that's their right to come in and foreclose.

NGUYEN: All right. But, at the same time, I've got to ask you, does this defeat the purpose? Because if an HOA, a homeowners association, forecloses on your property, that's going to bring the value down in the neighborhood. So, doesn't it just defeat itself?

ANDERSON: Well, you know what? It's lesser of two, because if you think about it, if you're not paying the HOA, the community can't really keep up the community, you know? They can't maintain the grounds. They can't keep it looking beautiful as they would use the money or make some good decisions for the community.

So, it's either, do we foreclose on the property and let somebody else that's going to take care of the property coming in or do we let you continue to pull the community down by not making those payments.

NGUYEN: And when you say, you know, make the property beautiful, the neighborhood and whatnot. I will tell you, I know a lot of people who say, "I pay those dues, I have no idea what the HOA is doing in my neighborhood."


NGUYEN: So, what are the -- let's get to the pros first of buying a home in an HOA neighborhood.

ANDERSON: Right. Well, it's like the good, the bad and the ugly of the HOAs. So, you've got good some ones, you've got some bad ones. Some of the pros, I would say, is that they maintain the common ground, something that we mentioned and then keep it looking beautiful -- planting plants, keeping the grass looking good, maintaining the pool, having a lifeguard -- those sort of things, those are some pros.


ANDERSON: Another pro would be actually enforcing the neighborhood cleanup. Making sure there's not trash around the community, you know, make sure everything is picked up and it looks good when people come into the community.

Also, streamline community decisions. You know, what do we do next? Do we pave this road? Do we hire a lifeguard at the pool? Do we decide on -- you know, do we want that townhouse community or the commercial development coming in to our community? I think those are some of the pros.

NGUYEN: OK. And then the cons -- because I know we've both heard several of them.

ANDERSON: Yes. Yes. There are a lot of cons. I think one of the first cons is they can place a lien on the property. It can be foreclosed. That's a big con. And a lot of people aren't aware of that. Another one I would say is that that actually fees can be expensive, you know?

NGUYEN: Yes, they can. Don't you have a friend who has, what, a $900 fee?

ANDERSON: Nine hundred dollars, can you imagine.

NGUYEN: A month? ANDERSON: A month. And that's not his mortgage payment. That's actually just the HOAs that he has to pay.

NGUYEN: I hope they have a great pool.

ANDERSON: Yes. And you'll see them range anywhere from $30 a year, I've seen as low as that with some good HOAs, as high as that, you know? So, it really depends on where you're buying in a community.

Also, the fees can increase. So, you may start off at one point and they can increase every year. So, you want to make sure you understand the covenant to know what it can and cannot do.

NGUYEN: Yes. I know my HOA fees have increased, what, three times in the past five years.

ANDERSON: Yes. You got to watch out.

NGUYEN: You've got to be aware of all that. All right. But who knew that you could actually go into foreclosure because you've been delinquent on those HOA payments.

ANDERSON: Exactly. That's big. And you got to read those covenants, make sure you understand what you're getting into.

NGUYEN: Read the fine print -- always.



ANDERSON: The details are there.

NGUYEN: That's right. Clyde, thank you so much. We do appreciate it.

ANDERSON: All right. Thank you, Betty.


HOLMES: Betty, did he just say he has a friend paying $900 a month?

NGUYEN: Nine hundred dollars a month.


NGUYEN: That is not his mortgage payment. That is his HOA.

HOLMES: OK. Where does this friend live? I mean, what kind of friends does he have?

NGUYEN: We need to come and visit him. Is he having a barbecue anytime soon?


HOLMES: Yes, that's a nice neighborhood.

All right. Thanks, guys.

Well, we, of course, keep hearing about the trillions of dollars being spent to rescue our economy. But a lot of people are asking how much is making it to my area, to my street. Josh Levs showing us that.

Good morning, Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A way to lead in to this, T.J., right? Some people have $900 to spend on those kinds of fees, other people are trying to find out if the road around the corner from their house is finally going to get fixed by stimulus money. And we have a way of finding out how much of that money is actually being spent near you. And what I'm going to show you is not from the government.


NGUYEN: Well, listen to this little bit of news -- an offer from Pakistan to help the U.S. negotiate with the Taliban.

HOLMES: Yes. A top military officer says Pakistan can set up direct talks with the top Taliban leader in Afghanistan. Our Michael Ware has more on this story from Baghdad, including reaction from U.S. officials.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: T.J., Betty, the Obama administration has expressed its first response to the Pakistan military's offer to help broker talks between Washington and the Taliban fighters of Afghanistan. President Obama's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan described the admission from the Pakistani military that it has ongoing communications with the Afghan Taliban as not surprising.

However, Ambassador Holbrooke did say that he sees that admission publicly as a positive development.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, SPECIAL ENVOY TO PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN: There have been long allegations that there are continued contacts, and I think it's a step forward for the Pakistanis to say publicly what everyone has always assumed.

WARE: But under what some Pakistani military officers described as intense pressure following the revelations of the military's ongoing communication with the Taliban, Pakistan military headquarters in Rawalpindi issued a denial of the remarks of its official spokesman, describing them as fabricated, faceless and taken out of context -- even those remarks were made on camera.

Nonetheless, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke says he will privately take up this issue with the Pakistani government when he visits Islamabad in coming weeks. T.J., Betty?


HOLMES: President Obama is set to speak to the Ghanaian parliament next hour. But he is speaking to the American public in his weekly address this morning.

NGUYEN: Yes. And it, the president brushes aside talk of a second stimulus bill and he asks for patience, saying the $787 billion package signed in February is showing progress.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In a little over 100 days, this Recovery Act has worked as intended. It's already extended unemployment insurance and health insurance to those who have lost their jobs in this recession. It's delivered $43 billions in tax relief to American working families and businesses.

Without the help the Recovery Act has provided to struggling states, it's estimated that state deficits would be nearly twice as large as they are now, resulting in tens of thousands of additional layoffs -- layoffs that would affect police officers, teachers, and firefighters.


NGUYEN: Well, as he has done in the past, the president tied the economic crisis to the last administration.

HOLMES: However, the president is now dealing with this economy. A lot of people are calling it his economy. That is how at least Republicans are putting it in their own weekly address this morning.

NGUYEN: Yes. House Republican Whip Eric Cantor calls the stimulus bill nothing but pork, waste and massive borrowing. And he says there's another way to go.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), MINORITY WHIP: Since January, we have offered alternatives to the out of control big government Democrat agenda that unfortunately became law and has completely failed to create jobs. Our plan is simple and smart, and its strength is that it doesn't invest in Washington. It invests in the American people.

We believe Washington should stop its war on the middle class and reduce taxes so every hard-working, tax-paying family in America will see an immediate increase in their income. A prosperous middle class is critical for our entire nation's well-being.


HOLMES: The GOP's version of the stimulus bill would have cost $478 billion and not a single House Republican voted for the one the president eventually signed into law.

NGUYEN: Yes. You know, there is a lot of talk about spending all of this money to rescue the economy, but some people feel it it's just that -- a lot of talk.

HOLMES: Josh Levs has an eye on all the money and where it's actually going.

Good morning, again, Josh.

LEVS: Yes, good morning to you, guys.

This is interesting. Let's zoom in. I want everyone to see this.

You know, what I'm going to show you is called And what's important here is you hear from the White House a lot. But what they're actually talking about is You're going to get a lot better information at, which is actually run by Onvia, a private company working to help business get access to stimulus projects.

Let me show you how this works. I'm going to get out of the way because it works well with the cursor here. You can go to any state at all and it gives you a complete breakdown. So, I reached out to people and I said, "OK, send me your county and I will show yours."

And check this out. This one says Polk County, this is one of the first people I heard from Facebook. And this breaks it down every single county. Polk County in Florida is getting $31 millions there.

All right. A couple more here, San Antonio, Texas, this one is called Bexar County, I think. And here you go, $258 million. So, you can see the breakdown there.

Oh, and one more, Coweta (ph) County is getting exactly zero dollars, we're told, according to Again, some amazing breakdowns that you're getting all over here at this Web site. And if you want to find your county, all you need to do is go to your main page.

Guys, I just lost my voice. -- sorry about that. I do want you to check it out though.

Betty and T.J., back to you.

NGUYEN: Oh, I thought you were just excited about the story...

LEVS: I know.


NGUYEN: Grab some water.

LEVS: Yes, I got to get some water.

NGUYEN: OK. We'll talk to you shortly.

LEVS: Thanks, guys.

HOLMES: All right. We've been talking this morning, Betty. We can't believe it has been 20 years... NGUYEN: I know.

HOLMES: Twenty years, "Do the Right Thing."

NGUYEN: It doesn't seem that long.

HOLMES: Yes. That movie has been out 20 years, "Do the Right Thing," Spike lee. Do you remember this?


HOLMES: Well, I thought we have some more.

NGUYEN: I thought maybe we hear a radio or a key (ph) or something.

HOLMES: A little something. Well, Spike is going to be stopping by our studio this morning. We'll be talking to him about the relevance of the movie and the relevance of that haircut that he had back in the day. Sorry, Spike.

NGUYEN: That was nice. Hi-top fade.

All right. And we are awaiting President Obama's speech in Africa. We're going to bring that to you live.


HOLMES: All right. G.M., as we know, went into bankruptcy, big deal, a lot of people losing jobs, a lot of dealerships are shutting down. Well, they are already emerging...


HOLMES: ... from bankruptcy. A lot of people are saying, "How is this company going to be different?" Well, actually, it's not going to look different at all.

NGUYEN: Not when it comes to logo.

HOLMES: Yes, at least in one way. Slow down here. Yes, we're talking about the logo. They are keeping it. There was some debate about whether they need to change the way they look.

NGUYEN: Yes, they were thinking about changing it from, what, the blue G.M. that it has to green.

HOLMES: Right.

NGUYEN: I guess because it is our money these days.

HOLMES: Oh, well.


NGUYEN: But they decided against that. So, the logo will not be changing. In fact, the CEO said, look, just not going to happen. The government bailout of G.M. was about, what, $50 billion.

HOLMES: Fifty billion dollars.

NGUYEN: So, yes, a lot of green went around for that one. But still seeing blue that G.M. logo. Stay with us. There's much more news to come.


NGUYEN: Check it out. A tribute in Michael Jackson's hometown, fans in Gary, Indiana, put on their own memorial show for their favorite son.

HOLMES: Of course. He is the homeboy there. And Michael Jackson lived in Gary for 11 years before the family again packed up and moved and made to superstardom in California. His father Joe Jackson was at the tribute in Gary, so was Michael's first music teacher was there as well.

Well, the extreme heat, how hot will it get out there?

NGUYEN: Oh, I don't even want to ask...


NGUYEN: ... because you know it's going to go through the roof.

Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is here.

Are the folks down south are going to get any relief, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, in Texas, no. It looks like Texas is going to be right back where we were from most of the week. You know, McAllen, Texas, had triple digits for, gosh, seven days in a row. It looks like it could be the same for Dallas, they're going up to 101; 95 in Houston; Memphis with 92 degrees; 83 in Chicago.

It should be fairly cool day in parts of Detroit. Reason why? Scattered showers and storms, some may be severe in the Ohio Valley later on today. We'll talk about that coming up.

Back to you.

NGUYEN: OK. Thank you, Reynolds.

LEVS: You bet.

HOLMES: And a reminder, we are awaiting President Obama's speech in Ghana. We'll bring that to you live at 8:40 when it happens.

NGUYEN: Yes, we'll be back in 30 minutes, at the top of the hour.

First, though, "HOUSE CALL" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.