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CNN NEWSROOM

Bautista Smacks Three Homers; Stalled Engines Emergency Landing; IMF Chief's Sex Assault Charges; Endeavour Blasts Off on Last Mission; IMF Chief Accused of Sex Assault; Kerry: "Critical Moment" For Pakistan; White House to Boost U.S. Oil Production; U.S. Hits Debt Ceiling; Louisiana: Low-Lying Areas Evacuate; Morganza Spillway Gates Open; Fan Has Caught Almost 5,000 Baseballs

Aired May 16, 2011 - 10:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is now 10:00 a.m. in the East, 7:00 in the West on this Monday. Good morning to you. Here's a look at the three big stories we're following.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO (voice-over): A midair scare for passengers on a Cathay Pacific flight out of Singapore. A stall warning just after takeoff forced pilots to bring the Airbus A-330 back to the airport for an emergency landing. (Inaudible) sparks coming from one of the jet's engines. No injuries to the 136 passengers or crew members.

The head of the International Monetary Fund is expected to plead not guilty to sexually assaulting a maid in his New York Hotel suite. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was taken off a flight bound for Paris yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero and liftoff for the final launch of "Endeavour." Expanding our knowledge, expending our lives in space.

Space Shuttle "Endeavour" is on its way to the International Space Station for its final mission. It left the launch pad just about an hour ago. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords made the trip from a Houston hospital to see her husband off. Later this hour, we'll talk to Bill Nye, the science guy about what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: On Saturday, he was head of the International Monetary Fund and a potential leading candidate for president of France. By Sunday night, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was a suspect in a New York City sexual assault case accused by a hotel maid cleaning his $3,000 a night suite.

But just what is the International Monetary Fund? Let's answer that question first. It's sort of like the world's savings and loan. Its goal is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system.

The International Monetary Fund is part of the United Nations, all of those billions of dollars coming from 187 nations including the United States.

CNN's Richard Roth at the courthouse where Strauss-Kahn will enter a not guilty plea. Richard, when do we expect him in court?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could be in just a few hours. Court officers have told CNN that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is here. He was held overnight in his cell and that he's just adjacent to the courtroom right now, which is packed with international journalists for this stunning case.

Now, police say that he went for physical examinations, DNA, perhaps blood tests, all of this to use as part of physical evidence in presenting a case following the allegations made by a maid in a hotel in Midtown Manhattan regarding an alleged sexual assault by one of the world's most powerful businessman.

Last night, after hours of delays for arraignment, his lawyers talked to reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM TAYLOR, ATTORNEY FOR STRAUSS-KHAN: Our client willingly consented to a scientific and forensic examination tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't hear what you're saying, sir.

TAYLOR: Our client consented to an examination tonight at the request of the government. That's being done in light of the hour we've agreed to postpone the arraignment until tomorrow morning, and we expect to be here in court with him tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is your client doing?

TAYLOR: He's tired, but he's fine. Thank you very much. Not before 11:00 tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not before 11:00.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to vigorously defend these charges?

TAYLOR: Yes, he intends to vigorously defend these charges and denies any wrongdoing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: Now, he does not have diplomatic immunity. According to the police, the victim is a 32-year-old black woman. One newspaper report said that she was an African immigrant.

The hotel told our CNN's Susan Candiotti that she was a very good employee. Her work is very satisfactory. The incident happened in one of the suites there at the Hotel Sofitel. Back to you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Richard Roth reporting live. Thank you. We told what you the IMF is all about, now for more background on Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He was also known by his initials DFK.

He was named managing director of the IMF in 2007, receiving praise during the recent global financial crisis including the bailouts of Greece and Ireland. Our chief business correspondent Ali Velshi has more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Strauss-Kahn is a member of the Socialist Party in France. Over the years, he's been appointed to political positions including finance minister back in 1997. He was instrumental in helping France switch from the frank to the euro.

Now prior to this weekend's incident, Strauss-Kahn was considered a top candidate for the president of France in the elections next year. Richard was talking about that. A French opinion poll published on Sunday taken before the scandal broke showed him in first place among six hypothetical candidates, including the current President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Let me tell you about the man himself. Strauss-Kahn is married to an American-French journalist, Ann Sinclair. They live in D.C. She issued a statement this weekend defending her husband.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Thanks to all of you. We also have a statement from his wife, Ann Sinclair. I want to read it to you now. It says, quote, "I do not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband. I have no doubt his innocence will be established." She's a journalist, by the way.

Calling this a critical moment for U.S./Pakistani ties, Senator John Kerry is in Islamabad today. He's been meeting with military leaders. His focus of about what they knew about Osama Bin Laden and what they see in Pakistan's future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JOHN KERRY, CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Ultimately, the Pakistani people will decide what kind of country Pakistan becomes whether it is a haven for extremists, or the tolerant democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Our Stan Grant was just at that news conference. He's joining us live now. So, Stan, we're hearing that Secretary Clinton will visit, too?

STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's moved for a little bit later once they start to recalibrate this relationship. What they need to do right now is to go back and reassess this relationship, Carol. This is a relationship that's really hit a rocky patch.

The killing of Osama Bin Laden has shown a lot of cracks have appeared as a result of that. Now what Senator Kerry was doing today is stressing the way forward. He was saying that the relationship is going to be reset and that's why they try to continue this dialogue.

He did, however, come here with some tough words as well. He said there were very, very hard questions being asked in the United States right now about what Pakistan, what its officials, what its military, what its intelligence knew or did not know about Osama Bin Laden living in Pakistan.

He didn't actually have any answers to that. I put the question to him directly, do you trust them? He said, I'm not going to speculate. There's no evidence to suggest that they were colluding with him, but on simply not going to speculate about that.

The other side of this equation, of course, is Pakistan itself. It's been pointing the finger back at the United States in saying the United States did respect Pakistan's sovereignty when it carried out this raid on Bin Laden in secret. And this is how Senator Kerry responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: My goal has been to talk with the leaders here about how to manage this critical more effectively, about how to open up the opportunities to put this relationship back on track where isolated episodes, no matter how profound, don't jeopardize the larger relationship and the larger goal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRANT: Now, the bottom line here, he says, is that Pakistan and the United States share a common enemy, Pakistanis are also dying, as a result of this battle, with the insurgencies, and they need to be able to focus on what binds them and not what separates them right now, Carol.

COSTELLO: Stan Grant reporting live from Islamabad, many thanks.

President Obama is talking about boosting oil production here at home. The administration is no doubt feeling some heat over the cost of gas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm directing the Department of Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska's national petroleum reserve while respecting certain areas and to speed up oil and gas resources in the mid and south Atlantic.

We plan to lease new areas in the Gulf of Mexico as well and work to create new incentives for industry to develop unused leases both on and offshore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: The national average for gas today, $3.95 a gallon just a penny cheaper than this time last week. Let's check in with CNN's Dan Lothian at the White House. So Dan, is the president changing his tune, is he saying drill, baby, drill?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not going that far, but certainly making some tweaks to his energy policy because, as you pointed out, there's been a lot of pressure from gas prices hovering or topping $4 a gallon over the last several weeks.

And also oil prices, we've seen over the last 12 months or so increase by about 30 percent. The president is saying that this problem is one of the biggest burdens over the last several weeks.

So that's why you're seeing the president making these revisions, if you will, to his domestic oil-drilling policy. This is something, though, that he's also getting pressure from Republicans up on Capitol Hill who feel that the administration should be pushing much harder to opening up domestic oil drilling.

In fact, one top Republican pointing fingers at the White House saying that they've been keeping domestic resources under, quote, lock and key. Both pressure from Capitol Hill and also those spiking -- the spike in the gas prices, influencing the president's decisions.

I should point out, though, we haven't really seen a big push back from environmentalists who often see these kinds of moves as harmful. They have expressed safety concerns especially using the Exhibit number 1, the BP oil spill, how that was devastating not only as an environmental disaster, but also devastating for the economy.

What the House has tried to make the case here, is that you can have domestic exploration, but also have some safety mechanisms in place to prevent something like that from happening again.

COSTELLO: Dan Lothian reporting live from the White House. Thank you.

Coming up, Zach Hemple catches foul balls, home run balls, any balls in major league parks. Yes, he's caught over 4,000 of them. You will meet him and learn his tips to get your own souvenir.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: This just into CNN. We have reached the debt ceiling. So what is Congress doing? Not much. The Republican House speaker suggests he and the president get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, this conversation's been going on for quite a while. I've offered to the president, I said, Mr. President, come on, you and I, let's lock arms and we'll jump out of the boat together. I'm serious about dealing with this and I hope he's just as serious. No gimmicks and no automatic clawbacks. I've had it with all of that. We know what needs to be done. Let's just do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had told Congress he believes he can juggle some things so that we can keep paying our bills for another 11 weeks, but we've reached the debt ceiling and we're maybe set to raise it. We don't know. We'll see how things go on in Capitol Hill and have more on that later.

The show will go on with or without the Donald. NBC says "Celebrity Apprentice" will stay in its prime time line up even if Donald Trump hits the campaign trail. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" host A.J. Hammer is here. A.J., what's the scoop?

A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Maybe Donald Trump isn't as important to the show as he believes he is, Carol. "Celebrity Apprentice" will stay on the air in NBC's primetime schedule even if Trump decides to hit the presidential campaign trail, that's according to NBC.

The network's entertainment chairman spoke to reporters yesterday and gave some hints about the network's new fall schedule just before they unveil it officially this morning in New York City. Here's what he said about "Celebrity Apprentice" and Trump.

If he decides to run for president and is unavailable to do the show, we will bring the show back and there will be somebody's sitting at the head of the boardroom table, who that is, we're not even going to really entertain because I'm still hoping we will have the Donald in the seat.

As we all know, Trump has been flirting with the 2012 presidential bid. He's expected to make his intentions known on the final episode of his show that's set for next week. NBC confirmed it has enjoyed this ratings bump from the Trump presidential buzz.

The network also confirmed that the show with or without Trump will still fill the 8:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. slot on NBC's Sunday night schedule, Carol, for the 2011-2012 season. I for one think with the right person in place, the show can be quite successful.

COSTELLO: Ashton Kutcher, he could fill in for Donald Trump.

HAMMER: There you go. Why not?

COSTELLO: Yes, I understand you know where we could get a really cool hat?

HAMMER: Yes, I want you to sign up for this one, Carol. The hat worn by Britain's Princess Beatrice to last month's royal wedding, we all know it created quite a stir and it launched a Facebook page called "Princess Beatrice's Ridiculous Royal Wedding Hat."

It has about 140,000 fans. A tribute song about the hat, thousands of questions, I mean, is it a bird, is it a bow, is it a pretzel? Well, now, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's daughter has donated the unique sculptural, celebratory headpiece to an online auction for charity.

It's actually pretty cool. The eBay auction ends on May 22nd. The proceeds going to benefit the Little B Initiative, it's a campaign setup by the princess to benefit UNICEF U.K. and according to the listing with just six days left in it.

Bidding has gone up to 11,000 British pounds, Carol, that is $17,800 U.S. Some ground rules, you got to be pre-approved to bid on this thing and at least 18 years old. So after you're done with the show today, Carol, get pre-approved and go for it.

COSTELLO: I'm going to do it. I'm going to take the time and just do it, A.J. Why not?

Carlos Santana, he made some waves at a baseball game, and he wasn't singing.

HAMMER: No, he wasn't. We're talking about the legendary rock guitarist Carlos Santana. He was at Atlanta yesterday. He was being honored for a Beacon of Change Award. It's Sunday's MLB Civil Rights game at Turner Field.

He called the states' new immigration law anti-American. Right there in front of everybody. Santana has been a vocal critic of immigration policy. He took his turn at the podium at the field in a pregame ceremony before the Braves/Philly game to criticize the immigration bill, which was just signed into law by the Georgia Governor Nathan Dilan.

On Friday, he took the microphone and he said Arizona and the city of Atlanta should be ashamed for passing immigration bills. They've been criticized widely as racially motivated. He was booed by some fans at Turner Field as you might expect.

Now, this law will allow law enforcenment officials to check the immigration status of some suspects and requires employers to check the immigration status of new hires.

So it's pretty bold of him, but he was always - I've always known Carlos Santana to be a guy who speaks his mind, regardless of the consequences, Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, he sure did. A.J., many thanks. If you want information on everything breaking in the entertainment world, A.J.'s got it tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on HLN.

Zack Hample is a legend at Major League Ball parks. He's not a player, he's a fan. But he's got a hall of fame statistic, nearly 5,000 balls caught in the stands. He will pass the secrets on to you in less than 10 minutes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, that would be unsettling, hey, we got to get out of our house, where are we going? What are we going to do? This is not going to be over in 90 minutes. This is going to last for weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: And people in Louisiana's Cajun Country are waiting for the flood. They know it's coming. What they don't know is how much it's going to disrupt their lives. We'll have a live report for you just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: People living in the Louisiana Cajun Country know the water is coming they just don't know when and how much. Their homes are in the flood plain created when the Army Corps of Engineer opened a spillway in the hopes of saving more populated areas downstream.

Ed Lavandera live in Butte La Rose, Louisiana where people are wondering just how much of their community will be under water, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are trying to figure that out. They were told here in Butte La Rose a few days ago to expect as much as 15 feet of water. But you talk to people around here, not everyone believes it will be that bad. They will take on water, though.

Obviously, people around here preparing for the worst. The parish president here in Butte La Rose told me a little while ago, that he believes about 90 percent of this town has already evacuated. In upstream from where we are in St. Landry Parish, there were mandatory evacuation orders that went out yesterday.

We saw several hundred people gathering up their homes and collecting everything and heading out. So this is the Chafalaya River. All of the water from the Morganza spillway has been dumped into this river. What happening is as it comes downstream here, it kind of turns the bends and heads into the tributaries and small creeks.

And it's that backwater flooding that many residents are worried about here, but this will take a long time to happen. In fact, the parish president here in Butte La Rose says, it is a slow and painful thing to watch this river slowly rise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUY CORMIER, PRESIDENT, ST. MARTIN PARISH: I guess, the sentiment of the people here and just the atmosphere is that people just know it's coming. They're nervous about it and they're watching it very closely.

And we know that we're going to get the water. It's just a matter of when it's going to be here. I don't know, it's a weird feeling. Here it is, sitting on this beautiful cool morning, watching this beautiful sunrise, we're going to be knee deep in water here before too long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: And we'll give everybody a chance to watch the waters here in Butte La Rose rise slowly as well. If you go to cnn.com/live, we hooked up a Louisiana flooding webcam here in the Butte La Rose community.

You can see the perspective that we have there. You can see part of the water and the homes that could very well be flooded out by this. We'll see how long we'll be able to watch that as the floodwater start to rise in. The parish president says he will issue mandatory evacuation orders by the end of the week, Carol.

COSTELLO: Ed Lavandera live. Thank you so much. Checking stories cross country now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO (voice-over): In Minnesota, an airport spokesperson says a captain for Air Tran was removed from a plane for suspicion of being drunk. Police were alerted after a TSA agent said the captain smelled like alcohol at a security checkpoint.

Shirley Sherrod it back to work at the USDA. She'll be helping the Department of Agriculture improve its relations with minority farmers and ranchers. Sherrod was fired as director of Rural Development in July after a misleading videotape showed her making racially insensitive remarks.

In Connecticut, the senior who got banned from the prom after taping 12-inch letters to the side of the school can now go to the dance. School officials originally said his nighttime stunt was trespassing. Now the headmaster is reversing her decision because of the international notoriety it caused.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: If baseball fan has a hall of fame, Zack Hample would have his own wing with more baseballs you can count. Hample has made a career out of hanging out at Major League ballparks and snagging baseballs.

He caught three foul balls at one Baltimore-Orioles game last week. Three foul balls at one game. Zach's career is far from over, but he's closing in on a milestone, 5,000 baseballs caught.

Zach has also written a book "The Baseball," which includes tips on snagging balls at Major League games. Zach joins us from New York to impart some of that wisdom. Welcome, Zach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: First of all, why do you enjoy catching foul balls so much?

ZACK HAMPLE, AUTHOR, "THE BASEBALL": I just love baseball more than words can describe. And call me spoiled, but even as a fan, I guess I like to be a participant. And baseball more than any other sport allows me to do that. I just -- I feel really connected to the game when I catch one.

COSTELLO: But, I mean, how many do you need to catch?

HAMPLE: You know, I just -- my goal when I was little was just to catch one baseball. I went to a game when I was 6, but I didn't catch one until I was 12. When you're little and you experience something great, you just want to do it more and more. I have an obsessive personality in general so I've stuck with it.

COSTELLO: You've done it more than 4,000 times. So, how do you position yourself at the ballpark in the stand to catch a foul ball?

HAMPLE: The number one rule is to make sure that you have some room to run left or right. The worst mistake you can make is to be trapped in the middle of a long row of fans. So Camden yards in Baltimore where these are the three foul balls I caught is a great stadium for catching baseballs because there's cross aisle that runs through the seats.

And there's also a standing room only section in the right field, which is great for home runs. A lot of new ballparks are being built without standing room and without cross aisles so you don't really have the chance to move around.

Beyond that I just try to position myself differently for left- handed and right-handed batters. I look at the pitching match ups and you know, if a guy throws really slow, I'll know that the batters going to pull the ball.

If he throws a 96-mile-an-hour fastball in the zone, guys are more likely to foul it back. So you kind of look at the game like that.

COSTELLO: Interesting. Do you have to fight off other fans?

HAMPLE: You know, there's a misconception that I must have -- if I've caught over 5,000 balls that I must have knocked down 5,000 kids. I've never knocked down anybody.

I've given a lot of baseballs away to kids. Sometimes, isn't the heat of the moment, there's some scuffles that go on. But I always seem to be at the bottom of it and not the one causing the problems.

COSTELLO: Well, good luck in catching your 5,000th ball. Somehow, I think you're going to make it. Zack Hample, thanks for joining us this morning.

HAMPLE: Thank you. COSTELLO: We have some on-the-field sports highlights ahead. Including the Chicago Bulls taking the lead in their NBA playoff series with Miami. And Jose Bautista, isn't he amazing three home runs in one game?

Also coming up, three hot questions in two of the brightest, politically savvy minds on television, actually three. A comedian, that's the third. He's described as a would-be offspring of Will Rogers in Gallagher. Our political buzz is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Checking our top stories. Now the head of the International Monetary Fund is expected to plead not guilty to sexually assaulting a maid in his New York hotel. Dominique Strauss- Kahn was taken off a flight bound for Paris yesterday.

The Vatican has some new guidelines for dealing with sex abuse by priests. The rules tell bishops they should cooperate with police investigating. The critics say the rules are meaningless because they're voluntary and leave bishops with too much power.

And the Windy City has its first new mayor in 22 years. Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is being sworn in this morning. Among those attending in inauguration in Chicago, vice president Joe Biden.

It's been a symbiotic relationship between politicians and those who make a living trying to make you laugh. This weekend, "Saturday Night Live" took another political shot, this time at the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED ARMISEN, SNL CAST MEMBER (as Barack Obama): Not sure if you heard the news. We killed Bin Laden!

(APPLAUSE)

ARMISEN: Yes. Great to be back here in Texas, the Lone Star State. Home of George W. Bush, the 43rd president. The 43rd president to not kill bin Laden, that is.

(LAUGHTER)

ARMISEN: We got him! We got bin Laden!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: A perfect setup for our "Political Buzz," a lightning- fast conversation hitting the hot political topics of the today. Each of our brilliant political observers gets 20 seconds to answer three probing questions.

Dana Loesch is a Tea Party supporter and conservative. Cornell Belcher leans left and was a pollster for President Obama. And once again, comedian Pete Dominick will lend his own unique perspective. So, first question. John Boehner, the House speaker says he wants to lock arms with the president. But tax hikes are off the table. We're talking about the budget. What exactly does locked arms look like, Cornell?

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, in this case, it's really good political theater. It's political posturing because lock arms in this case means if I don't get to play exactly where I want to play, I'm going to throw the ball over the fence and go home. I mean so -- no new taxes. Everything's really not on the table. So, he's not really locking arms. To me, this is just political theater.

COSTELLO: Dana?

DANA LOESCH, TEA PARTY SUPPORTER: I think Speaker Boehner wants to lock arms with the president to get serious about spending, and this means entitlement reform. And you can't increase the tax burden on the people who make the - who pay the most in taxes. According to IRS statistics - and invest the most in job creation, if you look back at tax cuts from the 20s til now, you'll see tax cuts actually increase government revenue.

COSTELLO: Pete.

PETE DOMINICK, COMEDIAN: Well, maybe Speaker Boehner meant to say lock horns instead of lock arms. Or perhaps he was alluding to the fact that President Obama oftentimes starts negotiations in a position of compromise. Or maybe simply, Carol, Speaker Boehner and President Obaam are going to negotiate while square dancing and do- si-do-ing and at the end, Speaker Boehner will cry.

COSTELLO: That's what it brought to my mind!

According to a new poll in Politico, the majority of Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling of the economy. But, 59 percent still say they will vote for him. Make sense of that for me, Dana.

LOESCH: I saw that poll, and I'm really interested in seeing the makeup of it. Politico didn't publish that. And it's even more interesting because just a week prior, Quinnipac released a poll that said the majority of Americans disapproved of the president's job performance but yet 50 percent wouldn't vote for him. I think really all this shows is that there's still a really, really long way to go, and we can't hedge our bets just yet.

COSTELLO: Cornell?

BELCHER: Well, the trend here is actually fairly clear in poll after poll. The president continues to do well, and in fact, continues to lead all Republicans comers by double-digit margins.

What this means, the president is going to own the economy. Americans don't blame him for the economy. But when you're the president, you own the economy. And in this case, let you in to a little secret: you don't have to be really great on the economy, you just have to be more believable and trustworthy than -

(BUZZER SOUNDS)

COSTELLO: We got your drift, though. Pete?

DOMINICK: Carol, presidential polls are not unlike beauty pageants. They take into consideration a number of categories. And one poll says President Obama as a person, over 70 percent like the guy.

What we should be looking at is Congress's poll. Americans rate Congress lower than Libyans rate Gadhafi.

(LAUGHTER)

COSTELLO: Presidential candidates are often judged upon, well, their judgment, shall we say. We're going to save the third question for later. We're going to talk about Newt Gingrich who has been married three times, and he keeps apologizing about it.

Our Buzzer Beater after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: OK. Let's bring our Political Buzz panelists back for one final question. On the right, radio host Dana Loesch. On the left, pollster Cornell Belcher. And on the edge, comedian Pete Dominick.

So, here we go. GOP candidate Newt Gingrich announced last week he was running for president and Sunday, he told "Meet The Press" that he knows his past may be a factor in his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've clearly done things that were wrong. I've clearly had to seek God's forgiveness. I believe people have to decide whether or not what I've said and what I've done is real. And I think if people watch me, talk with me, get to know me, my hope is that the majority of Americans will decide that I can help this country get back on track in a way no one else has.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Now, Mr. Gingrich has also walked down the aisle three times. Our Buzzer Beater: do you think our Americans are ready for a thrice-married president. Cornell?

BELCHER: Well, I think there's a fire alarm going on here at CNN in Washington.

(LAUGHTER)

BELCHER: But the answer is no. And I probably have to evacuate the building now before I catch fire.

COSTELLO: Those are always fake. I always ignore themselves myself. Dana.

LOESCH: Well, we went through Bill Clinton and the politically changing definition of sex and the blue gab dress and everything else, so I don't see why not. But really the thing that intrigued me more about Gingrich is the insane comments that he made about entitlement reform Sunday morning and the individual mandate. That concerns me more than his being married three times at this point.

COSTELLO: Pete?

DOMINICK: Yes, Newt Gingrich has been married apparently three times. So has Trump. They've both cheated. But you know who else was been married a couple of times and cheated, if I'm not mistaken? John McCain.

I don't think the American people care that much. He didn't cheat on us. I mean, we care about gas prices. We care about our jobs. What I'm concerned about Newt Gingrich, is he's got a giant, giant head which means there's a lot of brains in there. So, we have to take a look at the size of the president's head, although he does have hair -

(LAUGHTER)

COSTELLO: Enough said. Pete, Dana -- I think cornell has clear -- oh, Cornell, you stayed! You are a brave man, and I admire you! I do, so get the heck out of there right now. We'll let you go. Thanks to all of our Political Buzz -

(FIRE ALARM SOUNDS)

(LAUGHTER)

COSTELLO: -- panelists. I'm sure it's just a false alarm. Political Buzz will be back again tomorrow.

Here's a look at stories making news later today. At 11:00 a.m. Eastern, the Newseum in Washington is re-dedicating a memorial to journalists killed while on assignment. Special recognition will be given to the 59 journalists killed just last year.

At noon Eastern, President Obama gives a commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis. The school won the Race to the Top challenge.

And when the president returns to the White House, he will host a ceremony recognizing the University of Connecticut's men's basketball team. UConn is this year's NCAA champions.

Space shuttle Endeavour has begun its latest and final mission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero and liftoff for the final launch of Endeavour. Expanding our knowledge and expanding our lives in space.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: So we'll talk about some of that knowledge and how it affects our lives. And how we'll keep learning after the shuttle program ends. Bill Nye The Science Guy, next.

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COSTELLO: The second time was a charm for the space shuttle Endeavour. It blasted off this morning, right on schedule. A short time later, it was on its own.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and separation from the external tank.

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COSTELLO: Endeavour should dock AT the international space station Wednesday morning. This is its final mission and the second to last mission for the shuttle program. Let's talk to Bill Nye the Science Guy. He's with the Planetary Society. Welcome!

BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY, TV HOST: Well, good morning.

COSTELLO: Good morning. It was sort of a romantic journey because Mark Kelly, in charge of the mission, gave his wedding ring into Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as he blasted off in space. The Giffords drama is sort of overshadowing this last mission of Endeavour.

NYE: Well, for some. It's a great thing, though, for space exploration because in order for the world's largest space agency, NASA, to move forward, we have to retire the shuttle. So, there will be some nice science on this mission. And we can start to move ahead.

You know, we at The Planetary Society are flying our living interplanetary flight experiment. Very excited about that. This is a precursor. Getting what we call flight heritage on our little gizmo that we're going to send to the moon of Mars (INAUDIBLE) and back in November.

So, this is a good -- taking care of some science loose ends. And --

COSTELLO: Yes, but, Bill, let's be honest. How many Americans do you think remember anything that any shuttle mission accomplished in space?

NYE: Well, what people remember is the Hubble. Now, the Hubble was defective, was not built properly, and it was designed to be repaired by people in space suits. And that's what people remember. And it was repaired, and it was a great thing. Because now the Hubble images are everybody's. They're not just for a single government or a single agency. They're for everyone in the world. And that's a good accomplishment.

COSTELLO: It is. And it's something tangible - go ahead.

NYE: But you hit the nail on the head -- well, the last 30 years have really been engineering accomplishments. And I'm an engineer. Hey, hey, I love engineering accomplishments. But they haven't been going anyplace new and exciting.

So, now that this is being wrapped up, we'll be able to use those resources to go out deeper and farther and make discoveries. It's the end of an era, and it is, as you say, poignant, but it's a necessary step. And I'm delighted that people are so engaged by the human story, by Commander Kelly at the helm.

COSTELLO: Yes, it just makes it -- I don't know, it somehow connects you more to the program to think about the actual people on board and stuff like that.

NYE: Well, when you want to do exploration, you need humans.

COSTELLO: Right. What's the next step? I mean, where does the space program go?

NYE: The next couple of steps are -- first of all, we're going to be sending Curiosity, the next rover to Mars. It leaves in November. And we're going to send the sample return mission called Grunt, which is the Russian word for soil. That's also going to go to Phobos, which is a moon of Mars.

And the reason you go to Mars is because it's not impossible that we will find evidence of living things. And if you found evidence of living things on another planet, it will change this planet. I'll tell you, it will be like Copernicus or Galileo. These will be these astronomical discoveries that change the world.

So, you don't put the kind of resources that were put in during the Apollo era. Did you know the Apollo program cost more than the interstate highway system?

COSTELLO: Wow!

NYE: It's a lot - yes, it was quite a deal. But you don't need to do that anymore. Instead, you maintain a presence in lower Earth orbit the same as way as Antarctica. Scientists go there, do study things, learn about the Earth's climate, especially the atmosphere.

And then in the meanwhile, use some of your resources as a wealthy society and intellectually curious society to do exploration deeper in space, to find these things that may hit the earth and take us all out, the way the ancient dinosaurs were taken.

COSTELLO: Oh, don't say that!

NYE: This is worthy stuff.

COSTELLO: That would be a worthy thing, it would be.

NYE: Well, you'd want to keep an eye on things. It's part of what you do as a society is explore space. And do you know why we're exploring space? You know what we're going to find there?

COSTELLO: What?

NYE: Nobody knows! That's why we're exploring.

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COSTELLO: OK!

NYE: So, it's important to get out beyond lower Earth orbit. And by the way, you talk about the private sector. Space Exploration, the Space-X Company and Boeing are going to get contracts to take people to the international space station. It's good in every way.

COSTELLO: Yes, and if I had the money, I'd go. All right. Bill Nye the Science Guy, many thanks as always.

Of course, as I said there was a lot of emotion wrapped around this launch, and not just because NASA will retire Endeavour after this trip. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was there to see her husband's mission, Commander Mark Kelly, off into space. She made the trip to Florida from the Houston hospital where she has been recovering from that devastating gunshot wound to the head. NASA's administrators says Giffords' presence at the launch inspired them all. Team Giffords sent out this tweet to Kelly and the crew just about an hour ago: "God speed," it said. "We'll see you in about two weeks."

The international criminal courts lead prosecutors going after Moammar Gadhafi. More on the warrants he's seeking and the Libyan leader's alleged war crimes, next.

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COSTELLO: The chief prosecutor at the international criminal court is seeking arrest warrants for Moammar Gadhafi, his son and his brother-in-law. He says he's got a pile of evidence that Libyans have committed war crimes.

Nic Robertson live from the Hague, the court's headquarters. Nic, what exactly are the accusations?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, crimes against humanity, murder and persecution. What the chief prosecutor is saying that Gadhafi has absolute power in the country and through his son, who -- Saif Islam who he described as the intelligence chief, with the intelligence people and also his brother- in-law, Abdullah al-Sanussi, they are essentially carrying out Gadhafi's orders, which is widespread intimidation and attacks on the civilian population. This decision, he says, was taken by the regime to defend the regime's position.

And he even says, Saif Gadhafi was recruiting mercenaries a month before the protests began in Libya. He says he has hard evidence and direct evidence. Even he says, over the last few days, he's had calls from senior Libyan officials in the regime today who are willing to offer evidence against Gadhafi. Carol.

COSTELLO: And Nic, I know the prosecutors presented the case to the judges today and then they decide whether or not to take that to court, you know, to actually try the case. How long will that process take?

ROBERTSON: It could take a couple of months. And I asked the chief prosecutor about that. Was he confident that the judges will act and issue these arrest warrants, and essentially mean anywhere in the world that Moammar Gadhafi and the other two go that they could be arrested? And he said every arrest warranting that he has requested from the judges here, that's been 24 until now -- every one of them has been issued. So, he fully expects this to go ahead.

And he said the importance of doing it now and getting it underway quickly, is that even now Gadhafi is still arresting people in Tripoli, still persecuting people, still murdering people who are responsible for those orders. That's why he says it's so important to get this moving now. Carol?

COSTELLO: Nic Robertson live at The Hague.

The television series "Star Trek" inspired her interest in space. And former shuttle Endeavour astronaut May Jemison became the first African-American woman in space. Next hour, Suzanne Malveaux talks with her about this final mission for Endeavour.

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COSTELLO: The Chicago Bulls drew first blood in their NBA Eastern Conference battle with the Miami Heat. The league's MVP Derek Rose, he was awesome! He scored 28 points for the Bulls as they pulled away from Miami in the second half. Rose also led the team in assists. But others contributed for Chicago, like Taj Gibson with the monstrous stomp on the rebound. Bulls win 103-82. Game two Wednesday night in Chicago.

Toronto's Jose Bautista. Oh my goodness, he's the best home run hitter in baseball right now. This third inning shot against the Twins reaches the second deck there. Bautista comes back and smacks another one in the left field bleachers. Then in the six inning, he does it for a third time! This time a right-field smash. Bautista has 16 homers for the year. The Jays beat Minnesota 11-3.

Let's talk about the 2012 race. The president is adding to his campaign conference. While there are changes to the GOP field. Our senior political editor Mark Preston is here with that and more. Hey, Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey. Good morning, Carol.

Yes, the march for the billion-dollar campaign continues tonight. President Obama here in Washington, D.C. will hold two fundraisers. Tickets for these fundraisers range from $44 all the way up to the legal maximum of $35,800. At tonight's fundraisers, two people of note are going to be there. The new DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. She's the Florida congresswoman, as well as Ernie Green. He was one of the eight students made famous by the Little Rock Nine. He help desegregate the all-white central high school back in 1957. Carol.

COSTELLO: Also, the Republicans lost one candidate over the weekend. That would be Mike Huckabee, but now it looks like another one is getting in. Who is it?

PRESTON: Sure. Herman Cain. He's the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza. He was also an executive at Pillsbury and and at Coca-Cola. On Saturday, he's going to be right outside where you're sitting right now in Centennial Park. He's going to announce that he in fact is running for president.

Now Herman Cain would be making history if he were to win the Republican nomination. Carol, he's African-American. Can you imagine having president Barack Obama going up against Herman Cain in 2012? Very interesting.

COSTELLO: Well, I don't think it will happen, but you never know! Politics is a strange animal.

PRESTON: You never know.

COSTELLO: Mark Preston live in Washington. Many thanks.

Now time to throw it over to Suzanne Malveaux. I'll join you in just a bit to talk about infidelity -

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Whoa.

COSTELLO: -- in politicians' (INAUDIBLE). And should it matter? Shouldn't we be over this? I mean, who cares?

MALVEAUX: Yes, maybe some people do. I'd like to cover that race if you had Obama and Cain. That would be very interesting.

COSTELLO: It would be feisty, because they certainly have totally opposite views.

MALVEAUX: Yes, absolutely.

All right, Carol. See you in a little bit.

COSTELLO: Sure.