CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

BP Getting Bashes for Handling Oil Spill; Coast Guard Says BP's Permanent Fix Months Away; Queen Opens Parliament; World Markets Sink; Life After Prison; Motorcyclist Faces Jail for Traffic Video; Oil Spill Impacts Gulf Shoreline; Lindsay Lohan's New Bracelet; Less Soda, Lower Blood Pressure; Study: Our Brains Don't Like Half a Conversation

Aired May 25, 2010 - 06:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning to you. Glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. It is May 25th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks so much for being with us. Here are the big stories we'll be telling you about coming your way in the next 15 minutes.

BP defying orders from the EPA to cut back on the chemical dispersant Corexit. One-fifth of the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico now shut down by the oil spill and 150 miles of coastline now affected.

CHETRY: President Obama's point man in the gulf now says that we may not see a permanent fix until August. But pushing out BP is not going to help. It is time though for the government to take over, some say. But how would they do that. We're going to hear from Coast Guard Chief Thad Allen next.

ROBERTS: Freedom and fortune come to a man who spent 35 years in prison for a crime that he didn't commit. DNA evidence gave James Bain a new lease on life. We'll show you what he's doing now and why incredibly he's not angry about the injustice.

And the amFIX blog is up and running as it is every day. Join the conversation going on right now at CNN.com/amFIX.

CHETRY: Well, it seems everyone is lining up this morning to bash BP. This is day 36 of the oil spill in the gulf. And the latest now on the disaster, 25 percent of the fisheries in the region had now been shut down. The Commerce Department is freeing up federal help by declaring fisheries a disaster. The EPA is telling BP to cut back on the chemical dispersant it's using to break up the slick, but so far the oil giant is not complying. And the real heartbreaker, 150 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline impacted by the spill, birds and fish are dying, jobs are vanishing.

Dan Lothian is live at the White House this morning. In a moment, he's going to be shedding some light on the uneasy alliance between BP and the Coast Guard right now. First, though, Rob Marciano joins us from Venice, Louisiana. And it's a situation where it seems it's getting very difficult for the locals to just sit back and watch what's happening.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Very much so, Kiran. Over a month into this now with oil washing ashore into some of those sensitive wetlands. The wetlands that nourish the food chain here. The bread and butter of this community, and you better believe that residents and fishermen alike to say that they're upset is an understatement. They want action.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRANDON BALLAY, CHARTER FISHING BOAT CAPTAIN: Everything down here lives and starts their whole life cycle inside of these canes. Once they're dead, they're gone. You know, you're not going to grow back.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Wetland re-grass now covered in oil makes running a fishing charter boat tough business here in Venice, Louisiana. Brandon Ballay is worried about his livelihood. But also across the Mississippi Delta, it's a way of life.

BALLAY: Now we're mad at BP because basically, you know, I guess they've dropped the ball. You know, they were supposed to catch it, they were supposed to plug it. Forget about giving me some money. You know, save my estuary, save my home.

MARCIANO: This environmental disaster has already affected generations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But here's another example. This man catches bait. For the recreational fisherman, he's out of business.

MARCIANO: Brandon's father Dave Ballay worked in oil rigs in the gulf as a young man and later built this marina in 1985. All the people here somehow depend on the oil business.

(on camera): Those oil rigs out there, I mean, that's the hand that feeds this community. How frustrating is it that they've killed part of this community?

DAVE BALLAY, FOUNDER, VENICE MARINA: It's very frustrating because almost every one of us, almost every family in Louisiana has a cousin or uncle or brother or wife that works in the oil industry. There's so many things that are related to the oil industry. So we're mad. We're mad that it happened. We're not mad at the oil industry, we're mad at that one individual or that one company that made that mistake.

MARCIANO: Over two weeks ago, Plaquemines Parish proposed a plan to build sand barriers across 80 miles of sensitive shoreline. Meanwhile, oil has already hit some of those wetlands and still, that plan goes unapproved.

BILLY NUNGESSER, PRESIDNET, PLAQUEMINES PARISH: We will start laying the groundwork and protect the coastline. If they got a better plan, tell me one.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser believes the Coast Guard commander is holding up approval of his plan.

NUNGESSER: Now let me tell you something, one man in Washington can say you can do it in six months, that's cheap talk. Show me some proof. I'll stay toe to toe many day and prove him wrong. But you know what, he worked his way up through the Coast Guard and he has the floor and the decision-making. Shame on them. They ought to be prosecuted. And I don't care if they are in the Coast Guard, the Corps of Engineers or BP. They let this coastline be destroyed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: Lots of frustration there certainly. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has told CNN that he's working with the Corps of Engineers to get a decision soon. They're most concerned about the timeline that they can maybe take six to 12 months. It's certainly a longer term solution, but the shorter term solutions we've seen a lot of these booms go ineffective.

So, they're just trying desperately to get something that works. And if it takes months to do, they'll do it. Because I'll tell you what, Kiran, even if it that top kill works come the middle of this wee, that oil is going to be sloshed around the gulf for weeks and months to come and it will be coming ashore. You better believe it. So any sort of solution is a good one for these folks who are certainly getting antsy. Back to you.

CHETRY: Yes. And of course, you can hear the frustration. One of the questions that you talked, you talked about the boom being ineffective. Is it ineffective because of the dispersant and it's making it harder to collect the oil on the top of the water?

MARCIANO: Well, that's part of the problem. The other part of the problem is any time the seas get rough and the winds pick up, those booms are basically going ineffective and that the oil washed on top of them. And also the currents that come out of the Mississippi Delta and the title streams, it's just difficult to lay those booms in an effective way to where they hold. And for that reason you see them kind of flopping around and not being as effective as they'd like them to be. It's certainly a complex problem and with no easy solution in sight -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Rob Marciano in Venice, Louisiana this morning. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Meanwhile, BP continues to spray tens of thousands of gallons of Corexit dispersant into the gulf to try to break up the oil slick. That is despite orders from the environmental protection agency to dramatically cut back on the use of the chemical. The EPA says Corexit is the most toxic of the available products, but BP's CEO doesn't seem to be listening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BP: We have used dispersants from the beginning that are on the EPA approved list. Everything that we do with the dispersants is with the explicit approval of the EPA.

LISA JACKSON, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: The answer we got back from BP to me seemed more like a defense of their current choice, reminding me a little bit of that old commercial, I'd rather fight than switch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: EPA administrator Lisa Jackson is demanding that BP cut back its use of Corexit on the surface by up to 80 percent.

CHETRY: You know our latest poll shows about three-quarters of the country is unhappy with the way that BP is handling this catatrosphe.

ROBERTS: But there's also so much confidence that the government could do any better. Our Dan Lothian is live at the White House. He spoke with Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, the president's point man in the gulf. And, Dan, Thad Allen seemed to disagree with the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar who said will push BP out of the way if they don't get on the job. Allen says that BP is best equipped to stop the flow of oil.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly what he said and he pointed out the reason for that is because this is such a complicated process. They were drilling at such a massive depth of 5,000 feet. And so it's very difficult for the government to step in and take over this operation. But as you pointed out, you know, in the polling that we have seen, a lot of Americans are not only frustrated and disapprove of the way that BP is handling this spill but also how the president is handling it.

So, that's why you're seeing a stepped-up effort by this administration to really show that they're on top of this crisis. We saw Secretary Napolitano of Homeland Security as well as Ken Salazar of the interior going to the gulf and then here at the White House, EPA administrator and also other officials including Thad Allen stepping out to answer questions from reporters. And one of the questions again that keeps getting asked, will there come a time when the administration will push BP to the side and take over? And Thad Allen saying that would not be his recommendation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADM. THAD ALLEN, COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: I know that to work down there right now you need remotely operated vehicles. You need to do technical work at 5,000 feet. You need equipment and expertise that's not generally within the government, federal government or the capability or capacity. There may be some other way to get it. But I'm an actual incident commander and right now the relationship with BP is the way I think we should move forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LOTHIAN: On Thursday, President Obama will receive a report, that 30-day review from Ken Salazar. The president will then make some remarks and also take questions from reporters. But I can tell you, there is a bit of confidence here that this can be fixed. This situation can be corrected and BP is the right one to get this job done. But there's also a lot of frustration that it's taken this long -- John, Kiran.

CHETRY: Dan, speaking of frustration, in terms of the cleanup, we just heard that frustration from the locals in Rob's story that the federal government isn't doing a good enough job, a fast enough job in helping coordinate the cleanup. What's been the response about that?

LOTHIAN: Well, you know, that's a very interesting question because while they do believe that BP is the one to handle the capping of that well, they don't believe that BP is doing a good enough job in terms of dealing with the cleanup operation. In fact, that is one area where Thad Allen suggested that they could improve. And he said that he has spoken to the CEO of BP about this. And he told them that that's an area where he needs to, quote, "tighten up."

CHETRY: All right, Dan Lothian for us this morning. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Coming up at 40 minutes after the hour, we're going to talk with Jefferson Parish president, Steve Theriot, and Doug Inkley. He is the senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. What they're seeing on Lousiana's Barrier Islands and the effect that the oil and the chemicals being used to stop the oil.

CHETRY: Also tomorrow beginning at 6:00 Eastern, I'll be heading to the gulf. We'll be live there as BP begins a massive and very risky attempt to plug the leak. It's known as top kill. A lot of questions about whether or not it's going to work. AMERICAN MORNING. will be live at Grand Isle, Louisiana. It's starting at 6:00 tomorrow.

ROBERTS: New this morning, Democrats, the White House, and possibly the Pentagon agreeing on a key legislative step toward repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly. Three lawmakers outlined the deal in a letter to President Obama. Initial votes could happen by Thursday. Much more from our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr in the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: Also, the United States said to be expanding secret military operations in the Mideast, Central Asia and also in the Horn of Africa. "The New York Times" reporting General David Petraeus ordered the surveillance missions last September to try to disrupt militant groups and counter threats from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other nations.

ROBERTS: An autopsy is scheduled today in Los Angeles in the death of Simon Monjack. He is the husband of the late actress Brittany Murphy. A spokesman for Murphy's mother says Monjack was supposed to have heart bypass surgery but delayed it until after a fundraiser for Brittany Murphy's foundation in September. Monjack was found dead on Sunday in the Hollywood Hills home where Murphy died back in September.

CHETRY: And more stormy weather expected today in the Midwest after a cluster swept across several states from the Dakotas as far south as Texas. No injuries have been reported but the storms damaged buildings and knocked down treed and power lines.

ROBERTS: Let's get a quick check of this morning's weather headlines. Bonnie Schneider in the extreme weather center for us this morning.

Good morning, Bonnie.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John and Kiran. You're right. We definitely saw some extreme weather across the Dakotas and the plains since yesterday. But we're still watching the tropics. I know it's not hurricane season yet, but out eye has been over the Atlantic by the system that may have turned out to be Alex, the first name storm of the season. However, this is an unfavorable environment and we're seeing a lot of us kind of breaking up. But we will see an influence across much of the southeast. Look for wind and rain today along coastal areas of the Carolinas, Georgia, even northern Florida. Stormy weather across the central and southern plains, I'll have more on that throughout the show. Back to you, John.

ROBERTS: Bonnie, thanks so much. See you soon.

CHETRY: Still to come on the Most News in the Morning, pomp and ceremony in the U.K. as the queen formally opens parliament. We're going to get a live report from London coming up next.

It's 12 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Coming up now on 15 minutes after the hour. For the first time since World War II, Britain is operating under the rule of a coalition government. This morning, Queen Elizabeth opens a parliamentary session for the 56th time during her reign. A live picture there this morning from London.

David Cameron now heading up a government that was born of a compromise between conservatives and liberal Democrats.

CHETRY: Richard Quest joins us live from Buckingham Palace this morning.

So, this is really interesting and it's -- it's something that we're witnessing for the first time, many of us. Describe the queen's role this morning and what kind of agenda that we can expect from David Cameron's coalition government?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The queen's role in all of this is crucial, really. She opens Parliament this morning. It's known as the state opening of Parliament, and nothing can take place in the legislative session until the queen has officially been there.

She's now just arriving at the Houses of Parliament. There is a gun salute across London as she arrives because the Monarch, the Sovereign, is now at the Palace of Westminster. The queen in Parliament.

Now, Kiran, what this means is she will be reading a speech that has been written by her government, in this case, a coalition government. It's the first time she's had a coalition government in 58 years on the throne, but this will set out the legislative assembly and the legislative agenda.

And, Kiran, what we are looking for particularly and of -- of interest, I think, to you is electoral reform, how also is this government going to deal with the economic crisis. And, importantly, what changes are they going to make to the way Britain goes to the polls, Kiran.

CHETRY: And what about being able to get anything done, you know, differing points of view and differing agendas, how do they coalesce into actual leadership?

QUEST: That is the big question. They have cobbled together this coalition out of electoral misery because neither party got an absolute majority. So you have here a classic coalition where David Cameron for the Conservatives and Nick Clegg for the Liberal Dems. They each have given and taken.

So, for example, in the Queen's speech, we will hear a lot about education, which I know is very much on America's agenda. That's for the Conservatives. We'll also hear about electoral reform, proportional representation. That's for the Liberal Democrats.

And, in the middle of it all, will be her majesty, the Queen, making what of it. We will never know. Remember, normally after an election, she is able to choose or to invite the prime minister within hours. This time it took days.

This is going to be -- for those of us who cover this and -- and get excited by constitutional issues, it's going to be the most interesting Queen's speech to see who won and who lost.

CHETRY: Very interesting indeed, and we'll be following it with you. Thanks, Richard Quest. Great to talk to you this morning.

ROBERTS: Coming up next in the Most News in the Morning, massive sell-off in the markets overseas. What will happen when the markets open this morning?

Christine Romans "Minding Your Business," here with a preview. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Futures Dow, futures are down 230 points so far this morning. We've been watching them just tick lower and lower and lower on the heels of big losses in Asia and in Europe.

What do Spanish banks and Kim Jong Il have in common and why does it matter to your 401(k)? I'll tell you in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Twenty-one minutes past the hour right now. Time for "Minding Your Business".

Christine Romans joins us this morning, and you were talking about Dow futures just going down, down, down. What are the jitters about it?

ROMANS: They're down 230 points right now and they have been ticking lower all -- for the past two hours, really. The jitters are about big losses in Asia and in Europe, 2 percent and 3 percent losses, more than 3 percent losses for some of the Asian markets.

Two things here, there was a European rescue of Spanish bank over the weekend. There are big concerns about the health of banks in Europe. The euro is down this morning. That's something that's not necessarily a new concern, but it is an ongoing concern that's really, really irritating the markets.

And then, there's the new concern about saber rattling on the Korean peninsula. In particular, people are saying that if you start to have some kind of real conflict between Kim Jong Il and the North and South Korea, that's going to be something that's going to draw in the United States and China, at least diplomatically, and could be a problem for a recovery in Asia.

So, you're talking about two very different but very big macroeconomic pictures this morning. I want to show you quickly the Dow. Yesterday it closed down 126 points. They're at a three-month low now, stocks are at three-month low. You've got 10 percent losses, all the major stock gauges from April to now. That's an official correction.

You've also got, against the backdrop of all of this, the so- called expert saying, is it going to be just a correction or is it going to be more than that? Is it going to be a 20 percent pull back for stocks? Big, huge academic and trader-like debate going on about how much more they have to go in stocks. At least this morning it looks like stocks are going to head lower here.

CHETRY: All right. And you also talked about the bailout, the Spanish bailout that took place over the weekend.

ROMANS: Yes, and that's something that continues to just underscore that there's a problem going on in Europe. But this problem with the health of European financial institutions, we know that American financial institutions don't have a lot of direct -- direct exposure, really to Greece or to some of these other places, but they do with the big -- other big European banks who all have kind of interconnected and interwoven ties with debt and -- and the like. So all of that contagion we've been talking about, contagion -- but I just want to point out quickly that in the U.S., I mean, the numbers have been good. We had a good housing market number yesterday. I came here yesterday and told you how the National Association of Business Economics said that we're going to have a solid recovery in the U.S. It doesn't matter when you have these big other issues out there --

CHETRY: And I also though it was interesting, you (INAUDIBLE) a little bulletin across saying that China and the U.S. agree, maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula is critical.

ROMANS: Yes.

CHETRY: This is, you know, jitters about that causing a lot of problems as well in the market.

ROMANS: It's also really interesting that we have a U.S. -- a huge U.S. delegation for economic issues in -- in China right now, so I'm sure that they are under -- you know, there -- there are discussions and -- and there's work underway to try to contain the situation well -- as best they can.

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

ROMANS: Sure.

ROBERTS: Thanks.

Next up on the Most News in the Morning, he spent more than three decades in prison for a crime that he didn't commit. Now, James Bain is finally free and starting his life over.

John Zarrella coming up with an "A.M. Original." Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Twenty-seven minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's time for an "A.M. Original," something you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING.

These days James Bain is making up for lost time, a lot of time, in fact. He spent 35 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. Bain is the longest serving prisoner to be exonerated by DNA evidence, and that's made him something of a celebrity.

John Zarrella is following the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES BAIN, FREED BY DNA EVIDENCE: Be out in the sun all day.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A girlfriend? Well, that's not in the cards right now for James Bain.

BAIN: I got to be very careful. ZARRELLA (on camera): Why's that?

BAIN: No, I just don't want no woman to want me for my money, to be honest with you.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): You can't blame him if he's a little skittish. He's about to come into quite a bit of cash, about $1.8 million. In a sense, blood money.

ZARRELLA (on camera): And you gave up 35 years of your life. That like, money can't give you back those 35 years.

BAIN: No, not even if they gave me a hundred million. Yes. Even if they gave me that, they still ain't going to replace for what I lost.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): The money, restitution to be paid by the state for the years Bain spent wrongfully in prison.

This is James Bain in 1974, 19 years old when he was sent to a Florida prison. Bain had been convicted of kidnapping and raping a 9- year-old boy. Finally, with the help of the Innocence Project, which looks into questionable convictions, DNA tests not available when he was convicted proved he didn't do it.

And, just before Christmas --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bain, I'm now signing the order, Sir. You are a free man. Congratulations.

ZARRELLA (on camera): But you're not bitter. I remember you had said to me --

BAIN: No, no, no. I would never be that bitter.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): James Bain is remarkable. Despite all he's been through, there's always a smile.

Since his release, it's been a whirlwind five months. For Martin Luther King Day, he rang the Liberty Bell. Bain was the special guest at the Titanic exhibit in Orlando, his favorite movie while in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the ice. I want you to feel what it was like that night.

ZARRELLA: Bain says so far adjusting to life on the outside has been pretty easy.

BAIN: In a sense, I feel like a bear. Yes. I am coming out of hibernation. Like they come out to eat, mine will be coming out to enjoy what had I missed.

ZARRELLA: He's planning on going to night school to get his high school diploma. He wants to buy a motorcycle and tour the country, except there's one little hang up -- a driver's license.

BAIN: But now, when I went to do the written test, that's where I failed it.

ZARRELLA: Bain lives with his 77-year-old mom right now. More than anything else, he just wants to take care of her.

She move into this home the year her son went to prison. The 25- foot orange and grapefruit trees in the yard were saplings then.

BAIN: That had vanished for. (INAUDIBLE) thought I would get a chance to see another one of these.

ZARRELLA: Freedom, Bain says, don't ever take it lightly.

John Zarrella, CNN, Tampa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Coming up now in the half hour. That means it's time for this morning's tops stories.

B.P. and the EPA are butting heads today. The oil giant is defying the agency, refusing to stop using the chemical dispersant Corexit, to break up the oil slick in the Gulf. Twenty percent of the fisheries in the region are now shut down. In 10 minutes time, we're going to be joined by Jefferson Parish president, Steve Theriot, and, Doug Inkley, senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation.

CHETRY: A new push to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Democrats in the White House, and possibly the Pentagon, are agreeing on a key legislative step toward repealing "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The deal is outlined in a letter to President Obama from three lawmakers. Initial votes on the measure could happen as soon as Thursday, but the policy wouldn't change until after the Pentagon completes a review.

ROBERTS: The top federal mines safety official says investigators are looking into whether Massey Energy, the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine, warns safety employees -- warns employees, rather, when safety inspectors are on site. That's the claim that's now coming from family members and colleagues of the 29 miners who were killed in West Virginia last month. Massey Energy insists that it does not put its miners at risk.

A man in Maryland could go to jail because he videotaped a traffic stop with a camera on his motorcycle helmet. Police say he was driving recklessly and when he was pulled over, a plain clothes cop in an unmarked car already had his gun drawn. But the big prime here, police say, the camera on the motorcyclist's helmet violated state wiretapping laws.

Carol Costello has got the "A.M. Original" for us this morning.

Carol, tell us what this one is all about.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Such a strange story. It's been a hot topic in Maryland and it just got hotter yesterday, because the American Civil Liberties Union just got involved. It calls this case an extremely dangerous act of police retaliation.

It boils down to this: do you have your right to use your personal camera to record audio and video of someone -- in this case, a police officer making an arrest -- without their consent? What if he asked you to stop recording him? What if you don't?

One Maryland man did not stop the tape and he could spend five years behind bars. Listen to this: Maryland state police tell me Anthony Graber was driving his motorcycle 100 miles per hour down I- 95. Not only that, he was popping wheelies.

The trooper in plain clothes driving an unmarked car pulled him over, gun drawn. You're going to see it in a second here. And, of course, as you said, John, Graber had that camera mounted on his helmet and it recorded this.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Get off the motorcycle. Get off the motorcycle. State police.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Graber was cited for traffic violations, which was OK by him. But he was upset the officer pulled a gun, although it appears not to be pointed at him, and that the officer neglected for at least five seconds to identify himself as a police officer.

So, Graber posted his helmet cam video, audio included, on YouTube. The next thing you know, police served a warrant, came to his house, and threatened to arrest him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY GRABER, MOTORCYCLIST: They come in and they take all of my computers. They took two computers and two laptops and my camera, and they were going to arrest me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: But he has been charged though with illegal wiretapping. Maryland is a two-party consent state, which means if one party asks you not to record his voice, then you cannot record his voice. If Graber is convicted, he could spend five years in prison.

Harford County, Maryland, prosecutor said he had no choice because it's the law. The prosecutor told me he suspects Graber had that camera on his helmet to capture himself inciting the police officer all to post a gotcha on YouTube.

The ACLU has another view. It calls this malicious persecution. Graber was on a public street, the officer could clearly see the camera mounted on his helmet. As a citizen, he has the right to record video and audio of anything he wants if he's on a public street, this according to the ACLU.

John, the initial court proceedings begin on June 1st, unless the ACLU convinces the Harford County prosecutor to drop the charges.

ROBERTS: All right. So, therein lies the case. He's on a public street. I mean, he was doing things that he shouldn't have been doing on the public street obviously. But he's on a public street.

And we do this all of time. We go out there with our cameras filming on a public street. If you have a camera that's out in public view, that really is sort of an indication that anything that you could potentially have in the field of view of camera will be recorded. And that is sort of implicit permission.

So, where does the law come down on that?

COSTELLO: Well, according to the Harford County prosecutor, the camera mounted on top of the guy's helmet wasn't clearly visible. There are other stories out there that said the officer told them to stop recording.

But the ACLU said, as you said, John, if you're on a public street, you can shoot anything you want, audio and video.

ROBERTS: Yes.

COSTELLO: You know, when we go out and shoot stories, as you said, we have the big camera, we're shooting. It's a public street. You can take your home video camera. You can shoot on a public street anything you want, audio and video. We'll just have to see how this eventually plays out.

ROBERTS: Ye. Well, it certainly is an interesting story. Carol Costello bringing it us this morning -- Carol, thanks so much.

COSTELLO: Sure.

CHETRY: Well, we know that talking on your cell phone and driving can be distracting. What about if others are in your car are chatting away? Does that actually distract the driver, too? An interesting study.

Also, Bonnie Schneider in for Rob today. She's going to have the morning's travel forecast right after the break.

Thirty-five minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CHETRY: Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. Welcome back to Most News in the Morning.

Thirty-six days and still gushing. Patience along the Gulf Coast is getting thinner as the oil gets thicker along the shore, poisoning precious beaches and wildlife. And a permanent fix is still months away possibly.

Louisiana officials want the federal government to green-light a plan to build new barrier beaches and to get B.P. to pay for it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We got two options: we can either fight this battle, we can fight this oil on the barrier islands 15 to 20 miles off of our coast, or we can face it in thousands of miles of fragmented wetlands. Every day, we're not approval on this emergency permit to create more of these sand booms is another day where that choice is made for us as more and more miles of our shore are hit by oil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Joining us now from Jefferson Parish is parish president, Steve Theriot. Also, senior scientist of the National Wildlife Federation, Doug Inkley.

Thanks to both of you, gentlemen, for joining me this morning.

I want to start with you, Steve. We heard the Louisiana governor there. He's frustrated. He's calling for more resources in the situation and talking about the hazards of the wetlands.

What is the latest situation as far as you can tell in Jefferson Parish?

STEVE THERIOT, JEFFERSON PARISH PRESIDENT: Well, right now, we have two of our coastal communities, one at Grand Isle and Lafitte, which is in direct side of the incoming oil. And as Governor Jindal who has taken the local governments together to make this proposal in terms of putting this berm inside to fight the intrusion of oil before it hits our enriched estuary. It's much easier to clean oil on sandy beaches as it is to take care of an estuary because there's no way in which to clean that estuary up, which is the breeding life of marine life which were allow for our fisheries to be in abundance for now and the future.

CHETRY: And, Doug, you know, when you hear things like that and when you see the pictures, it makes you wonder from a wildlife perspective, with the oil hitting this wetlands, what -- do we have any handle on what the consequences are going to be to the coasts, to the vegetation, and to the marine life?

THERIOT: Well, quite frankly, as Governor Jindal has kept saying --

(CROSSTALK)

CHETRY: Sorry. Steve, let me just let Doug weigh in on that one.

THERIOT: OK.

DOUG INKLEY, SENIOR SCIENTIST, NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION: Yes, we have to understand that the wreck of the Exxon Valdez was some 21 years ago in 1989, and still, today, we're seeing the impacts of that, for example, the fishery, the herring, it still has not recovered. We have to recognize that the impacts that are occurring here in Louisiana are likely to be for years, if not decades.

CHETRY: And, Steve, you know, the U.S. commerce secretary on Monday at least declared a fishery disaster in the Gulf of Mexico right now. I understand that 1/5 of the areas where fishing happens are stopped right now because of the situation. And, obviously, you have no idea yet on the scope of the economic impact.

But do you think the federal government is doing enough to lead the cleanup efforts and to lead the efforts to make sure that either barrier beaches are built or that what you guys need is being taken care of?

THERIOT: Well, I would hope, Kiran. Yesterday, the federal government took a step in the right direction by the Commerce Department declaring a disaster for our commercial fisheries.

And, quite frankly, I would wish they would go a step forward and allow -- I think Admiral Allen yesterday mentioned the fact that the federal agencies did not have the technical expertise to deal with the oil stoppage and they ought to leave B.P. deal with the oil stoppage and the federal agencies ought to take care of dealing with the recovery and dealing with other issues with -- as was just mentioned, this may last for a long, long period of time. Even if they stop the well tomorrow morning, it's going to be at least six to nine months that we're going to be dealing with the recovery of oil encroaching our beaches.

So, the necessity of getting that permit done expeditiously, ought to take place and the federal agencies ought to take place. In fact, FEMA ought to step in to deal with our citizens, our businesses and local government because rather than having each individual deal with B.P., it's been a cumbersome task.

CHETRY: Right.

THERIOT: The situation that we have set up now is that the Coast Guard has to approve the recovery method and then B.P. has to make the payments. And, quite frankly, he who has the gold makes the golden rule. And they're not -- they're not that easy to deal with in terms of funding.

CHETRY: You know, and speaking of that, Doug, I want to ask you -- a lot of people are scratching their heads about why B.P. seemed to have thumbed their nose at the Environmental Protection Agency. And specifically the EPA ordered B.P. -- they said you have 72 hours to either replace the Corexit, which is the dispersant being used, or show why -- in detail, why other dispersants are failing to meet environmental standards. That didn't happen. Now, we hear the EPA is asking them to scale back usage of the dispersant.

But why does B.P. not have to listen, it seems, to the EPA's directives when it comes to possibly polluting the waters with more toxin?

THERIOT: Well, you know, again, that's part of the issue --

(CROSSTALK)

CHETRY: This is for Doug. This is for Doug.

THERIOT: I'm sorry.

INKLEY: Clearly, B.P. has not been traps parent about what they are using in these dispersants. The information that they provided to the federal government had significant portions redacted. It was -- it was invisible. They said, we couldn't release this information. If we don't know what we're putting in our waters to try to clean up this oil spill, then we need to be asking serious questions. We need to have this type of information.

CHETRY: Shouldn't we have been asking these questions before, what, 700,000 gallons now and counting is still going into the waters?

INKLEY: Absolutely, we should have been asking these questions a long time ago. You know, the use of these dispersants 5,000 feet beneath the ocean surface is probably experimental. We don't really know what's going to happen to that.

So, we need to slow down and take a look at this, and make sure that we get the appropriate data before we move forward and possibly make a bad situation even worse.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank both of you. Steve Theriot, the Jefferson Parish president, I know you've got a lot of challenges ahead. And, Doug Inkley, with the National Wildlife Federation, thanks so much to both of you.

INKLEY: Thank you.

THERIOT: Thank you.

CHETRY: Coming up tomorrow at 6:00 Eastern, I'll be reporting live from the Gulf Coast as B.P. begins a massive and very risky attempt to try to plug the leak. It's an operation known as "top kill." I'll be live from Grand Isle, Louisiana, tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING.

ROBERTS: Still to come on the Most News in the Morning, this morning, we're going to check in with Bonnie Schneider with a look at today's weather.

Plus, Lindsay Lohan faces an angry judge in California. We'll tell you what happened -- coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: It is 48 minutes past the hour. New this morning, tabloid celebrity, Lindsay Lohan, has a new wardrobe accessory. A California judge ordering her to wear an alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet until her next hearing in July. There she is at court yesterday. She also has to be subjected to random drug and alcohol tests in L.A., could put her plans to film a movie in Texas on hold. All of this is because Lohan missed a mandatory probation hearing last week. She was in France at the Cannes Film Festival and claims that her passport was stolen.

ROBERTS: It's time now for an "AM House call," stories about your health. Another reason to stay away from soda this morning, a new study says not only does a pack on the pounds, it can also raise your blood pressure. Researchers at Louisiana State University limited more than 800 adults to less than one sugary drink per day over a year and a half period. Doctors say by the end of the study, their blood pressure levels were down significantly cutting the risk of both heart attack and stroke.

CHETRY: When you're driving and you're listening to your passenger chat away on the cell phone, that can be a dangerous destruction in itself. A study by Cornell University found drivers who overhear half a conversation actually suffer from reduced cognitive performance. They say it's because the mind is unable to process the other half of the conversation. They call it a half a log, the researchers say, instead of dialogue. So, I guess drivers pay more attention to the passenger's dialogue and it creates a potentially deadly distraction.

ROBERTS: It's 49 minutes after the hour. Let's get a quick check on this morning's weather headlines, Bonnie Schneider is in the Weather Center for us this morning. Hi, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Good morning, John and Kiran. We're still tracking the topics. Even though it's not quite hurricane season, we were thinking maybe which is the U (ph) is going to be the first named storm of the season, but actually, what's happening is dry air is coming in, and of course, the ocean temperatures are not quite as warm as they will be in just a couple of months' time. So, this is not going to be Alex, but we are going to be seeing some effects.

You can see some rains moving across the Carolina coast line. Brief scattered showers and thunderstorms through the Charlotte Area and along the southeast coast, however, much more intense storms through the central plains. You can see, in Oklahoma City, those storms are rolling in and they are intense with frequent lightning strikes and very strong winds. The winds will be particularly intense in the northern plains today all the way up from areas into the Dakotas down through Texas. We'll look for severe storms today, and this will impact those of you that are planning to take a trip so far this week.

We are looking at some travel delays for New York City area. We had that yesterday due to low clouds. Expect it again today. Also, low visibility in Philadelphia. Rain and thunderstorms in the southeast. Some of that is influenced by that tropical system that didn't really evolve into anything, but it is bringing some rain to the south. Also, thunderstorms firing up in Florida and some rain across areas into San Francisco.

Most of these delays are light with the exception of San Francisco, you may have delays over an hour due to low clouds and some rain out there. It's a busy travel week. We have them more in weekend coming up and a lot of people getting a head start --John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: Bonnie Schneider for us this morning. Bonnie, thanks so much.

This morning's top stories just minutes away now, including oil pressure, 36 days, millions of gallons, 150 miles of shoreline and counting. New pressure on BP to plug the leak a day before it makes another risky move under water.

CHETRY: And also still ahead, an "AM Original," paying off the cost of your dream school until you retire? College grad telling new students to learn from his very expensive experience. This story and much more coming up at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Five minutes now to the top of the hour. We want to tell you about a new initiative from CNN.com. It's called home and away. It honors U.S. and coalition troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan by looking back on these warrior's lives. Today, we're remembering Staff Sergeant Christopher Webb, a husband, a father, and a hero who won't be forgotten.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON WEBB (ph), WIFE: I'm Sharon Webb (ph) and my husband was Staff Sergeant Christopher Webb. He was killed March 7, 2007 by an IED in Iraq. This is his story.

We married when we were young, and we were still pretty early 20s, very young to have kids. He had been wanting to have a baby for so long, I'm like, we're not old enough, we're too young. And so, I remember when I got pregnant and haven't been in a doctor, and he came home from work one night, and he had told the whole neighborhood.

Everyone was cheering for us. Mary was born September 2, 2006 and she was born at Ft. Hood in Texas. We've gone from New Jersey to Texas. It was like Chris's proudest moment. Two months after she was born, he was shipped out. He was ready to go into his duty. He had no problem with that, but it was really hard for him to leave knowing that there was this new brand-new baby.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: That's my daddy and mommy. One is pretty and this one is handsome.

WEBB: She looks so much like him. Her smile, everything. I think she has my eyes and that's it. Everything else is completely my husband. I always tell her how much he loved her and wanted to be with her. And he would do anything he could with her now. He's watching over her. I always tell her that he's with her, and sometimes, I use that for punishment, like, your dad sees what you're doing. He was an amazing guy. And so, I just hope that Mary, you know, gets at least the kindness and compassion, which I'm sure she will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: CNN.com has put together an extraordinary presentation honoring our heroes of war, an exceptional interactive experience. You can check it out by visiting CNN.com/homeandaway and you can pay tribute to those who gave their lives for your freedom. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)