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Obama Details Afghan Drawdown; Huntsman Enters GOP Race; Michelle Obama Visits Africa; ATF Chief Expected to Resign; Airlines Lacking Customer Satisfaction; Syria's Iranian Connections

Aired June 21, 2011 - 09:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: 9:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 6:00 a.m. out West. I'm Kyra Phillips. Thanks so much for joining us.

Libya says NATO airstrikes kill innocent civilians. Now it claims to have shot down an allied Apache. NATO says not so fast. It was an unmanned drone.

Wrestling the job of his former boss. Obama's former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman expected to announce he's running for president. We'll be there live.

Five days after disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner announced he would quit it becomes official. Today his resignation letter will be read into the congressional record ending this chapter of his texting scandal.

We begin with the longest war in U.S. history and tomorrow will mark the beginning of the end. President Obama due to announce the long- awaited details of just how many U.S. troops will be leaving Afghanistan.

Right now, nearly 100,000 Americans are serving in uniform there. That's twice the number of U.S. troops when President Obama took office. And last year alone, the war cost American taxpayers $120 billion. And most importantly, more than 1600 U.S. troops have died in that war.

Dan Lothian at the White House.

Dan, we just got new information on the president's announcement, I understand. Tell me what you've learned.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, you know, our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr hearing from an administration official source that President Obama is expected to announce tomorrow a plan that he has approved to withdraw 30,000 troops, those surge troops from 2009, from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.

This would still give U.S. commanders enough forces on the ground to take part in any combat operation.

According to the source, this drawdown would be accomplished through those troops returning home not being replaced and also the cancellation of some proposed deployments.

Again, the word of caution here is that the president -- we were told by the White House -- is still finalizing his plan and so anything can change before he makes his announcement. The bottom line here, though, is that President Obama has always said that his decision would be based on conditions on the ground and the White House says that there have been improvements far beyond just the killing of Osama bin Laden.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Significant progress in disrupting or halting the momentum of the Taliban and significant progress in stabilizing Afghanistan and the government to allow Afghan National Security forces to build up, to train, and prepare for taking over the lead.


LOTHIAN: So, Kyra, as you know, there has been this debate, not only within the administration, but also here in Washington. Those who believe that there should be a sharp drawdown because of the high cost of war, because of the killing of Osama bin Laden, but then there's this other side as well -- Secretary Gates among them -- saying that the drawdown should be modest.

A lot of concern that if there is a sharp drawdown it could set back some of the progress that has occurred there on the ground in Afghanistan.

PHILLIPS: And we'll be talking a lot about it.

Dan Lothian at the White House. Dan, thanks.

And less than one hour from now, another Republican launches a bid for the White House. Jon Huntsman is a former governor of Utah who once worked in the Obama administration. Now he'll try to wrestle the job from his former boss.

CNN's Jim Acosta in Liberty Park, New Jersey.

Now this is Huntsman's first big event. He wasn't at the CNN debate or the GOP Leadership Conference in New Orleans.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right, Kyra. Now the Huntsman campaign is quick to say that Jon Huntsman was ill over the weekend. He was not able to attend that conference down in New Orleans. But he has recovered very quickly, you could say, Kyra.

He is ready to go for this campaign launch. And it is in a familiar spot. You may remember back in 1980, Kyra, this is the spot where Ronald Reagan launched his successful bid for the White House back in 1980 and Jon Huntsman is hoping that this works out pretty much the same way for him.

He's going to have to overcome a lot of doubts inside the Republican Party. Even though he just started talking about this bid about a month ago, he remains in the single digits in the polls and that is really an uphill challenge for Jon Huntsman to overcome here in the coming days.

But his campaign has released excerpts of his speech. He is expected to go after the president pretty hard on the economy, on the mounting national debt.

And I just want to share with you a clip from the speech or an excerpt from the speech that was released by his campaign this morning. And it uses some pretty stark language. It says, here it is, quote, "We are about to pass down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive, and less confident than the one we got. That is totally unacceptable."

And get this. "Totally un-American." So using some pretty stark language there. Jon Huntsman will be using in this speech that is going to be delivered here in about an hour from now.

After today, Kyra, he goes up to New Hampshire which is a critical state for Huntsman. It is going to be a tough challenge up there as well. That is next door to Mitt Romney's state of Massachusetts, obviously.

And then tomorrow he heads down to South Carolina which is also going to be a big test for Governor Huntsman and that is because that is a very, very conservative state and Huntsman is being challenged on some of the moderate positions he's taken in the past -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Jim Acosta, thanks so much.

As Jim mentioned, Huntsman is expected to formally announce his candidacy at the top of the hour. And you'll be able to see it live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

So we know Jon Huntsman is getting into the race. Who else may or may not be running?

Let's talk to our deputy political director Paul Steinhauser about that -- Paul.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Hey, Kyra, let me throw a name out there that we really haven't talked about a lot. And that is George Pataki. He used to be the governor of New York. Four years ago he made some waves. He was out in Iowa a lot, maybe thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination, but he didn't do it.

But guess where he is today? Iowa. He was there yesterday. He's back here today. And he says he's not running but he's not ruling anything out. So I guess we'll keep an eye on George Pataki just in case he does decide to change his mind.

How about somebody else we've talked about, Kyra, you and I, a lot? And that is Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey. A lot of Republicans would love to see this guy run for the nomination. He keeps saying forget about it, I am not doing it.

Look at these numbers. This is fascinating. Brand new poll numbers on Chris Christie among New Jersey residence, and we broke it down by gender.

Look at that. Men, 53 percent give him a thumb's up. They approve of the job he's doing as governor. But look at that gender gap, only 36 percent of women in New Jersey approve of the guy, their guy, Chris Christie, is doing as governor.

Fascinating here this gender gap when it comes to Chris Christie. You know he's known for the tough talk -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Yes. We've seen the interviews. It'll be interesting to see --


PHILLIPS: If, indeed, he changes what he said. Well, someone else that we haven't talked a lot about but the name is coming up, John McCain. What do you think? Does he have another run in him?

STEINHAUSER: For the presidency, maybe not. Listen, he ran in 2000, remember. Didn't make it all the way. George W. Bush did. He was the nominee last time. Won the nomination, didn't win the election. We know that.

What about another bid this time around? Take a listen to what he said just a couple of hours ago on the morning shows.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), TEXAS: There's a long history of masochism in my family but not so severe as to make me want to jump in again.

ANN CURRY, THE TODAY SHOW: That's the final word then, sir?

MCCAIN: Final word.


STEINHAUSER: I guess that's a no. He'll stay as senator from Arizona. Not going to make another run for the Republican presidential nomination -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Paul, thanks.

We'll have your next political update in about an hour. And a reminder for all the latest political news just go to our Web site 24/7

First Lady Michelle Obama set to inspire a new generation of female leaders in Africa. But before she does that, she stopped off to see one of Africa's most famous leaders.

Zain Verjee, how did her meeting go with Nelson Mandela? ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It was great. She paid a courtesy call to the former leader Nelson Mandela at his home. Before that she actually went to visit the Nelson Mandela Center for Memory. She went and saw things like his prison desk calendars, some of the notebooks and diaries that he had kept along with some draft letters as well.

She was there with her mom, her daughters, her nephew and her niece as well. And had a pretty packed schedule today, Kyra. The whole trip is actually pretty busy for all of them. But the focus really is going to be on promoting youth development, women development and democracy.

And so far she's been a great ambassador for the United States and has been received so well, people are really excited that she's there. After this trip, she's going to be going to Botswana. She'll meet with the president there and she's going to meet with some women's group. And afterwards she's going to relax a little bit and have a good time along with her family and go on a safari -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, what a great trip for the girls.

Now what are South Africans saying about her trip? Mixed reviews, right?

VERJEE: Yes. Yes. You know the main hash tag is young Africa and here's what they're saying. She spent a lot of time today also meeting with some of the local youth. So one of them, Precious Kofi (ph), said this.

"From kings to ministers, and then myself, Mrs. Obama gave each individual her undivided attention."

Mabina Shave (ph) adds this, Kyra . "South Africa's first ladies should draw inspiration from Michelle Obama's Young Africa project and established high impact projects of their own."

And there was one person that wasn't too happy. They were in the U.S. and a little critical, and said, that they're not even sure that this trip is even necessary.

Cindy Brooks says, "Is Mrs. Obama's official trip with school kids and safari in Africa really necessary when the U.S. is drowning in debt?"

But by and large, Kyra, most Africans are really happy that she's there. They love her.

PHILLIPS: All right. Zain Verjee, we'll talk more about it.

It was a botched government operation to track guns to Mexican drug cartels. Now the head of the agency responsible may step down. We will talk about it with our investigative reporter Drew Griffin.

And counting down to another candidate. At the top of the hour, Jon Huntsman enters the Republican race for the White House. We'll tell you why he's stirring concern within both parties. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Stories making news "Cross Country."

In Florida two firefighters have been killed battling a wildfire near Jacksonville. Officials thought that fire was contained but it flared up again yesterday.

And in Georgia, a Delta Airlines jet returns safely to Atlanta this morning after experiencing what the airline called an engine issue shortly after takeoff. Well, one passenger reported seeing flames coming from the side of the engine.

And talk about some diploma disappointment. More than 200 recent high school graduates in Plymouth, Massachusetts, will be getting new diplomas because of spelling errors. The company who printed them apologized for the, quote, "human error", and quickly reprinted them.

The head of the ATF may resign today after operation called "Fast and Furious" turned deadly for one of its own. "Fast and Furious" was supposed to take U.S. agents right to the Mexican drug cartels but here's the problem. The guns were lost. And some of those firearms turned up at the scene of a shoot-out that killed U.S. Border agent Brian Terry.


ROBERT KEYER, COUSIN OF KILLED BORDER AGENT: Brian's attention to detail had ensured that all the Christmas gifts he had meticulously selected for his family had already been bought and sent in the mail prior to his arrival. Brian did ultimately come home that Christmas. We buried him not far from the house that he was raised in just prior to Christmas day.


PHILLIPS: Drew Griffin of CNN's Special Investigations Unit has been chasing this story.

So, I mean, I guess the first question off the bat, what was the government thinking, putting weapons into the hands of cartel members?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's such a stupid and absurd program it's hard to imagine anyone ever thought it was a great idea. But here was idea.

The problem was guns were going to fuel the violence of the cartels in Mexico. So the ATF officials thought if we could just track these guns and see where they're going, maybe we can arrest the cartel leaders who are using these guns.

The problem was they just allowed illegal gun purchases to be made in the U.S. and then the guns walked across the border. Literally walked across the border. AK-47s. There was no way to track them once they were in Mexico. And Mexico had no idea that the U.S. government was doing this. So, Mexico wasn't involved in any part of this to attract these guns. Thereby, the only way you could find out where these guns went literally were to pick them off dead bodies at crime scenes.

PHILLIPS: Unbelievable. So, we're not just talking about the head of the ATF, but there had to be a change of command issue, too.

GRIFFIN: Because the sources I've talked, the ATF agents who watched these guns go across to Mexico and protested it said this was a major operation.

PHILLIPS: So, there were ATF agents that said, wait, this is wrong.

GRIFFIN: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: So, there were agents that stepped up and said this is --

GRIFFIN: I talked to one ATF agent literally watched a straw buyer undercover, and go into an Arizona gun store and buy 10 AK-47s, called his boss, do we arrest him now? Do we arrest him now? Do we arrest him now? Let's get him, let's get him, let's get him.

The answer was, no, just watch where he goes.


GRIFFIN: And he went across the border.

PHILLIPS: So, more people are going to lose their jobs. It's not just the head of the ATF.

GRIFFIN: Well, the question they have in Congress. And really, this is being pushed by Darrell Issa, the Republican congressman in the House, House Oversight Committee -- he wants to know who at the Department of Justice knew. Now, it looks like Kenneth Melson, the acting director of ATF, is going to take the political fallout for that.

Will it stop there? There's a Justice Department inspector general's investigation going on. Eric Holder, the attorney general, insists he didn't know about it. The people in Congress say that's really hard to believe, because this was such an intricate and involved and expensive program to pull off.

And because, at the time, even though looking back on it, say this was absurd, the ATF was really excited about this. They thought they were going to score some big name arrests once this operation was over with.

PHILLIPS: We are going to stay, obviously, following this and see if, indeed, that resignation comes today.

Drew, great work. Thanks.

Well, hotels, airlines, restaurants, package delivery companies -- which one ranks the lowest in customer satisfaction? We'll tell you after the break.

And partying pagans, dancing droids -- well, they're all coming out today to mark the summer solstice. More on the celebrations across the world coming up.


PHILLIPS: Some fans have given Roger Ebert a big thumbs-down following "Jackass" star Ryan Dunn's fatal car crash. The movie critic tweeted, quote, "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive." Police reports didn't blame the crash on drunk driving despite Dunn's own tweets that showed him drinking hours earlier. Enraged fans want an apology from Ebert.

Zsa Zsa Gabor's only child is upset over photos released by her husband. Ninety-four-year-old Gabor is seen here toasting her husband's 68th husband. Critics say this simply Prince Frederic von Anhalt seeking more publicity for himself.

So, are you ready for another hangover? "Hangover Part 2" has now made more money than any other R-rated comedy ever. Worldwide, it's taken nearly a half billion dollars. So, now, there's talk of a third movie in the franchise.

Well, tomorrow, actor Tom Hanks joins me in studio. He's going to talk about his new movie, "Larry Crown." We'll also talk to him what the news -- does Tom Hanks think or what does he think, rather, about President Obama and how he's doing? Tom Hanks tomorrow at 10:40 Eastern Time.

It's June 21st, the first official day of summer. And across the northern hemisphere, well, folks are celebrating the solstice. But the highlights got to be the traditional colorful gathering at Stonehenge, no doubt.

Zain Verjee in London with more.

Zain, have you been there?

VERJEE: I'm sorry to say, I have not. I had to work today. So I couldn't watch the sunrise.

There's a huge party there. Tens of thousands of people.

Kyra, when was the last time you partied all night?

PHILLIPS: You know what? It's been a long time! Probably with you, Zain! With you, maybe, about, what, eight years ago.


VERJEE: Yes, I know. I know. Well, that's what you do when you're at Stonehenge. You just party all night long and have a fabulous time.

Look at these people having a really good time. Sometimes what happens is that they clash with each other and then there are riots and the police have to come in. But this time, it was all a lot of fun.

Basically, it's June the 21st, the official start of the summer season in the northern hemisphere. And today at 1:16 p.m., Kyra, Eastern Time, the sun is going to be at the highest point in the sky and today is the day that we're going to have the most hours of daylight as well.

So, that's a pretty good party for a lot of people, but just not you and I.

And Stonehenge, you know, is supposed to be cool -- 4,000 to 5,000 years old, that place. And it's quite the place to visit.

PHILLIPS: Let's hope nothing tips over. Thank you so much, Zain.


PHILLIPS: Now, that would be a story!

VERJEE: Well, you know, it's been there a few thousand years, you know?

PHILLIPS: No issues so far.

VERJEE: I'm sure it will hold up.

PHILLIPS: Yes. The only tip will be the tipsy partiers going on.

VERJEE: Right. Well, one of them climbed up to the center. And that's the only time of the year they are actually allowed this close to Stonehenge. Usually it's ringed off.

So, today is the day if you're going to go.

PHILLIPS: Zain Verjee, thanks.

Well, the airlines history takes another hit. In a new survey of 47 different industries -- 47 -- airlines are dead-last when it comes to customer satisfaction.

So, why are travelers so upset with the airlines? Well, I think that's kind of obvious.

Alison Kosik, shall we name everything on the list?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where do I start? Where do I start, right?

So, yes, I mean, you name it -- poor service, those really annoying bag fees, the higher ticket prices, not to mention even more bad news on that front. Travelocity seeing air fares rising yet another 10 percent by Thursday. That's not going to help those warm and fuzzy feelings or not feeling for the airlines right now. Guess which airlines rated worse in customer satisfaction? Delta and Northwest. Now, Southwest gets top billing, number one. It's had that spot for 18 years now.

In the meantime, the same survey finds that travelers -- they are more satisfied with the hotels where they are staying. Some of the top rated chains include Hilton, Marriott and Starwood.

Now, here's what we like from our hotels. We like lower rates, more perks like fancy gyms and it's easier to accumulate those award points. And remember, a lot of times, there are a lot more choices with hotels, so we can really kind of shop around and get the lowest rate that we want.

You know, it's a lesson to these hotels and to these airlines, Kyra. Travelers, they value low prices. You know, when you throw in a perk or two every once in a while.

PHILLIPS: A perk or two. I'm still waiting for the perk or two.

Alison, thanks.

So, who is Jon Huntsman? Well, he's minutes away from becoming the latest Republican to run for president. We'll take a closer look at why he may also be the most feared by the White House.

Serious violate crackdown on dissidents. Does it resemble Iran's handling of protestors after that nation's controversial presidential election? We'll take a look at the Iranian influence in Syria.


PHILLIPS: Checking top stories.

First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha now in South Africa. Mrs. Obama just met with former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Molotov cocktails tossed on the streets of Belfast last night. Both Catholics and Protestants say their homes were attacked. Sectarian tensions have been higher in Northern Ireland lately.

And the FDA has announced graphic new warning labels for cigarette packages. One of nine warnings about the dangers of smoking will cover half of the packs now.

At the top of the hour, the Republican presidential race gets a little bit more crowded. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman will formally announce his bid for the White House. It comes in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty -- a backdrop, by the way, also used by Ronald Reagan.

Now, Jim Acosta is there, using it as well. He's in Liberty Park, New Jersey.

So, Jim, Huntsman has little name recognition but his candidacy is already catching the attention of the White House.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is. I mean, you mentioned the fact that he is going to be standing in the shadow of not only the Statue of Liberty, but Ronald Reagan today when he makes his presidential announcement and what better way to sort of wash away the memory for some conservatives that he was the U.S. Ambassador to China for President Obama. That is something that some Republicans don't like about Jon Huntsman, just to be frank with you.

But he is trying to overcome that and he's going to do that in his speech, he hopes, in just about 30 minutes from now. He's going to talk about the economy. He's going to talk about the mounting national debt. He's going to say, if we don't solve both of these problems, and future generations are not going to have the kind of future that Americans enjoy now.

And, you know, some of that comes as somewhat of a surprise to the White House. David Axelrod, one of the president's top political advisers, was talking to Candy Crowley on "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday and said, hey, wait a minute, if Jon Huntsman had a problem with our economic policy, why didn't he say something when he was ambassador to China?

Here's what David Axelrod had to say.


DAVID AXELROD, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: I think he's a very bright, fluent person. It was a little surprising to me because when we were in Shanghai, we got a chance to talk and he was effusive -- this was in the fall of 2009 -- about what the president was doing. So, I was surprised when he emerged as a candidate.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, Huntsman' campaign has fired back, calling Axelrod's comments absurd.

What is interesting about all of this is to see somebody going after his former boss running for the White House. That's not something that you see very often in American political history. But it is something that Jon Huntsman is going to have to do if he's is going to overcome this Obama taint that some conservatives see Huntsman as having at this point.

He is going to try it up in New Hampshire later today and in South Carolina tomorrow -- two big battle grounds for Huntsman, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Jim, thanks so much.

Just a reminder, as Jim said, stay right here for Huntsman's formal announcement. You can see it live about 30 minutes from now right here in THE CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, it's the longest war in U.S. history. And this morning, we're getting an idea of how it's going to end. Tomorrow, President Obama will outline the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Here are some of the details that we've learned. An administration official tells CNN that the president's plan calls for all 30,000 U.S. surge forces to be out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. Now, right now, there's about 100,000 Americans serving in uniform there. The first troops are expected to leave next month. It's not clear how many will be brought home this summer or even by the end of the year.

President Obama will announce the details of his plan tomorrow in a presidential address. When the time is announced, we will definitely pass that along and, of course, you can see his speech right here on CNN.

Iran's influence on Syria appears to be growing, and U.S. officials now believe that Tehran is aiding Syria's harsh crackdown on anti- government protesters.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more on this.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A U.S. official tells CNN they now have secret intercepts of communications between Iran and Syria in recent days, pointing to Iran's continuing meddling in the situation inside Syria, as the violence has mounted in that country on almost a daily basis. Official say Iran is trying to continue to exert its influence.

As you know, Iran basically considers Syria a satellite state. It's laying the groundwork, officials believe, so that if the Syrian President al-Assad were to fall from power, Iran still has influence with other key regime players who might take over.

Now, the U.S. State Department, the Obama administration, hasn't been very specific about what it sees about Iran's influence. But here's a little bit of what the administration did have to say.


MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: In terms of evidence, it's difficult for me to talk about a lot of that evidence from the podium. I would just say that, you know, when the -- in the executive order that President Obama signed, I believe on April 29th, he did cite human rights violations by the Iranian revolutionary guard corps, the so-called Quds Force.

So, we believe there's clear evidence that Iran is actively helping Syria.


STARR: Administration officials say one of the main things they see are members of Iran's revolutionary guard corps moving in and out of Syria, key Iranian officials from that organization going into Syria on a continuing basis.

What is their expertise? Well, one of the things they can do is offer expertise in training.

An administration official says Iranian riot control gear now is inside Syria. Iran, of course, has a lot of expertise in controlling people demonstrating on their streets for their independence. The Iranians also have a continuing weapons flow into Syria which an administration official says continues to this day unchecked.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


PHILLIPS: President Obama has said his views on same-sex marriage are constantly evolving. Our next guest says that's not good enough. LZ Granderson joins us next.

Plus, they're kind of creative and kind of creepy. Jeanne Moos exposes a photo phenomenon known as "man babies."


PHILLIPS: President Obama says his views on homosexuality are constantly evolving, or rather, same sex marriage. So, I wonder what he'll say when attends a fundraiser this week with high profile gay donors. It's in New York and it so happens that's where the state is embroiled in a same-sex marriage tug of war.

Our weekly contributor, LZ Granderson, writes about this on

LZ, good to see you.

LZ GRANDERSON, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, good morning. How are you?

PHILLIPS: I'm doing well.

And I'm curious. In your opinion, why do you think President Obama -- what's keeping him from embracing same-sex marriage?

GRANDERSON: I think there's a difference between his public opinion and his private one. The public opinion is the one in which, you know, that's giving him a little bit more difficulties as he becomes, I guess, more and more gay friendly. It's getting difficult for him to continue to have what I think is, without a question, a wonderful record in terms of LGBT rights, but then hold on to what is still considered by many conservative view on the definition of marriage.

And it's getting trickier for him.

So, he's doing it for political reasons, obviously. But it's getting to the point in which his consciousness, I would think, would start to eat away at him and at some point, I anticipate him actually coming fully out and saying he is a supporter of gay marriage.

PHILLIPS: OK. But you're saying -- like you're saying, you know, let's be realistic here. He is thinking about re-election. He is thinking about votes.

So, is taking on same-sex marriage the best thing for him right now?

GRANDERSON: No. Absolutely not. But as I said before, it's getting tricky. You know, he's going to be in Manhattan. If marriage equality does not pass in Albany, he is going to have a very disappointing crowd. And so, he is going to have to find a way to keep their spirits up to give him money, while, at the same time, holding on to the mentality that marriage is between a man and a woman.

That's a pretty, you know, delicate balance he is going to have to master if marriage equality does not pass in New York.

PHILLIPS: But he has supported or he has done a lot for the gay community more than, would you say --

GRANDERSON: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: OK. Well, you can read --

GRANDERSON: Absolutely. He has, by far, has done more for the gay community than any other president and that is not to be forgotten.

PHILLIPS: We will definitely follow the fund-raiser and see what exactly he says. I know you'll be watching closely.

LZ Granderson, great to see you.

And you can also read LZ's piece, "Is Obama ready to support gay marriage?" at And if you like, just the conversation. LZ loves it. Leave a comment for him.

So, why not make it be said that it's be a 10,000-to-one shot that John Isner would meet Nicholas Mahut in Wimbledon's first round?

If you took that bet for a rematch of last year's epic, well, you're rich now.

The marathon men are playing today and their match last year lasted more than 11 hours. The final set going 70-68 with Isner winning. The court, well, that they played on now has a commemorative plaque by it. And they'll play on another court today, but not center court with its bigger seating capacity and that's ticking off ticketholders who want a better chance to see the rematch.

Now, the players have become friends now. They actually text each other and may team up to play doubles later this year.

Well, a Florida Marlins' 80-year-old manager lays down the law in his first day on the job. That and more in sports in 15 minutes.

Storms churned up and dozens of tornadoes in south central Nebraska, tossing around train cars and destroying homes. We'll have the details coming up.

Also, the Casey Anthony murder trial.




PHILLIPS: A warning from the judge. Attorneys for both sides put on notice. A live report from the trial in three minutes.


PHILLIPS: Let's take the news cross country.

In south central Nebraska, violent storms knocked over freight trains and stopped play at the College World Series. Tornadoes like this destroyed at least three homes. More than 40 tornadoes were reported yesterday. Thankfully, no major injuries.

Clark County, Indiana. At the Sportsdrome Speedway, one car loses control and flies off the track and into the crowd of bystanders. Four were people sent to the hospital after that crash.

And in New Hampshire, the Little League Baseball game. Eight-year-old Kyle Alturas (ph) steps up to the plate, he eyeballs the pitcher, and guess what? It's dad who just returned hours earlier from Iraq. Undoubtedly a game he'll never forget.

To spotlight, back on the morning, and the high profile murder trial of Casey Anthony. The Florida mom accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter. And the judge fed up with the prosecution and the defense.

You're looking at a live shot of the courtroom in Orlando right now.

Our David Mattingly is right there.

So, David, hoping today has less drama than yesterday?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're already back on track with testimony. We didn't hear any at all yesterday when the judge admonished both sides, saying that he was really fed up with the gamesmanship that was going on here.

The prosecution had complained the defense was calling witnesses that the prosecution wasn't prepared for, hadn't deposed and wasn't aware of what kind of expert testimony that was going to be appearing before them, calling it trial by ambush.

Well, the judge said, please, no more of that. And if you try that again, I'm not going to allow your witness to take the stand.

So any detail can be important in a case like this because it is a circumstantial case. No literal smoking gun in this murder case. And in fact, to give you an idea of what kind of detail we're going through, we are listening to a plant expert right now. A forensic botanist, an expert who will be able to look at some of the plant evidence at the crime scene where Caylee's body was found, to possibly testify for the defense that the body may have been moved and when. So again, any little detail here could be the game-changer that everyone keeps talking about in a circumstantial case like this. It is all in the details and we're going to be hearing all of them, including apparently at this hour, details about the plants at the crime scene -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, David Mattingly in Orlando, thank you.

And ash spewing from a volcano in Chile is disrupting air travel as far away as Australia. You'll see the incredible pictures.


PHILLIPS: Let's take a look at the big board. Dow Industrials up 25 points.

All right, here are some stories developing later today, the Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing in the cyber-security and data protection in the banking industry. That starts at 10:00 Eastern.

11:30 Eastern in Nashville entertainer Tracy Morgan expected to make a public apology for a homophobic rant at a Comedy Club last week.

And it's the start of summer -- almost. The summer solstice, is the longest day of the year officially begins at 1:16 Eastern Time.

Well, we're following lots of the developments in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Let's check in first with our Zain Verjee out of London -- Zain.

VERJEE: Hi Kyra, Greece is for sale. We'll tell you what assets are up for sale and who are likely to be the buyers.

PHILLIPS: We will follow that, Zain thanks.

Also next hour, HLN's Robin Meade debuts her new CD right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. It's called "Brand-New Day." The album also features her friends like Bo Bice, Kicks Brookes (ph). That's actually where she was singing with Kenny Chesney. Not on her new album, but I'll tell you what, it was pretty good.

And tomorrow, actor Tom Hanks joins me in studio, and he's going to talk about his new movie, "Larry Crown". We'll also talk about the news. How does Tom Hanks think President Obama is doing? He'll tell us tomorrow at 10:40 Eastern right here in studio.


PHILLIPS: All right, I know this is your beat Jeff Fischel, but I'm making a public plea.


PHILLIPS: I want to talk to Jack McKeon. I want him on the show.

FISCHEL: I don't know -- (CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: Why? Can you help me? Jack are you listening?

FISCHEL: -- the second oldest man now ever in Major League baseball history. And you know, yes, I've got to tell you, it's so fun seeing him back. He loves it and he's excited. He's kind of old school -- the team is getting used to that.

PHILLIPS: But don't call him old?

FISCHEL: No, he does things by the book and we're not talking about a Mac book, it's a frame faded book from another era. He led the Marlins to the World Series title in 2003. The team had one win this month. They brought McKeon back to rekindle the magic. He says he wants to manage now until he's 95 and sounds like he won't be missed much at home.


JACK MCKEON, MANAGER, MARLINS: My wife was probably was happy to get me out of the house. I miss my buddy, my dog, that's the only one I miss.


FISCHEL: Misses the dog and not the wife. Ok, McKeon isn't changing his ways, though on day one he benched Marlin's star shortstop Hanley Ramirez. A source says Ramirez showed up late for McKeon's first meeting with the team. And no you're not going to the line-up. that doesn't apply with "Trader Jack". The Marlins did lose his first game last night.

St. Louis Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols will be out for the six weeks. We showed you the play that did it. Kansas City's Wilson Betemit colliding with Pujols at first, ouch. Tests yesterday revealed Pujols has a fractured left wrist. He didn't let the injury keep him from a commitment after the exam he took some Down Syndrome kids and their dads on a fishing trip. Pujols still a great guy even when he's not playing.

The Braves Tim Hudson also known for his charity work but he showed no charity opposing pitcher Ricky Romero. Hudson hits a two-run home run. These were the only runs in the entire game, and he took about the longest jaunt around the bases ever. It took forever to work his run but you've got to do that when you're a Hudson and you never hit a home run and he also pitched eight scoreless innings. The Brave did win.

Windy city rivalry, the Cubs and White Sox. The Sox's Alexei Ramirez called out after hitting the ball near the plate and being tagged by catcher Geovany Soto. Sox's manager, Ozzie Guillen argues the ball was foul. Guillen at one point kicked Soto's mask. The catcher gets a kick out of that.

Guillen gets tossed. The 27th time in his career he's been kicked out. The Cubs did win the game.

Rory McIlroy's dad cheered his son's record-setting U.S. Open victory on Sunday. But Jerry McIlroy will really be celebrating if he makes it two Major in a row. And Rory wins the Open Champion on this side of the Atlantic. No, that's the British Open.

Here's why. When Rory was 15, dad and three buddies went to the bookies and put money on Rory to win the British Open by the time he's 25. At the time, he got 500 to 1 odds, Kyra. So if Rory wins, he has until 2014 to win the bed. Dad will collect more than $300,000.

PHILLIPS: Is gambling legal there?

FISCHEL: On a 15-year-old? Betting on your 15-year-old kid. I don't know what the morals are on that one but --


FISCHEL: But he just -- he believes in his son. He believes in his son a lot and there's good reason, right?

PHILLIPS: That's right. I'd like to talk to Rory's dad and Trader Jack. Could you help me out?

FISCHEL: Jerry is loving it right now. And as for Trader Jack, you can see he is a bit salty.

PHILLIPS: Yes, he can bring -- he can bring himself and his dog. I'll give them both a forum. Come on Trader Jack. Come talk to us.

FISCHEL: Probably a minute with the dog.

PHILLIPS: There you go. Thanks Jeff.


PHILLIPS: Forget the filters and lightning, this technique is the ultimate way to look younger in your photos. You might want to try it. Jeanne Moos explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are family photos and there are awkward family photos, and then there are these, creepy family photos guaranteed to turn heads by switching heads, while keeping it all in the family.

But it is creepy, you agree?

PAUL RIPKE, PHOTOGRAPHER: Yes, it is. And the main part about it is that it's real parents, you know.

MOOS: German photographer Paul Ripke is better known for fashion and advertising photos but his man-baby series was for fun. What do you do with these? RIPKE: Nothing.

MOOS: Ripke basically shoots a portrait and then switches the heads, making the dad's head smaller and the child's head bigger.

RIPE: That's the owner of an Italian restaurant, actually.

He's a pretty big German DJ.

MOOS: And he's the coach of a famous German soccer team.

And that's a genre; it's called man-babies. there are plenty of women babies as well.

RIPKE: My favorite is probably my wife.

MOOS: His daughter's pacifier is a nice touch. The trick is catch the child with an expression that isn't child-like.

You look for a moment when your daughter was looking very adult.

RIPKE: Yes, totally. That's what we try to find.

MOOS: If all this sounds vaguely familiar, there's a Web site called man-babies that has been around for over three years. Same concept though a lot less glossy.

The German photographer says he never heard of the man-babies Web site until after he did his series. Now there's even iSwap Faces iPhone app. It's all a little reminiscent of that "Little Man" movie, a little person criminal poses as a baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You drop me and I'm going to drop you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You make a cute little baby.

MOOS: Poses to gain entrance and steal back a diamond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That isn't a baby, that's a porn star.

MOOS: In the age of Photoshop, why merely retouch when you can replace. You're no man-baby, you're a cry baby.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.