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Withdrawing from Afghanistan; Three Trapped Kentucky Miners Safe and Sound; Venus Williams Cruises to Second Round at Wimbledon; Supreme Court Blocks Largest Sexual Discrimination Lawsuit; Jon Huntsman, Another Republican 2012 Presidential Hopeful ; Banking On A Robbery
Aired June 21, 2011 - 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: The president is planning a big announcement. It will happen tomorrow. One hundred thousand U.S. soldiers are about to find out when they are coming from Afghanistan. The end of a long, painful war is finally in sight. CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Costello.
Three miners trapped underground by floodwaters are safe this morning. Details of their rescue -- on this AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: And welcome. Thanks so much for being with us. It's Tuesday, June 21st -- it's actually the official day of summer.
CHETRY: Even though it's felt like it in most places.
COSTELLO: Boy, has it ever?
CHETRY: Ali and Christine are off today. Carol Costello joins us.
Good to see you this morning.
COSTELLO: Thanks, Kiran.
Up first, the moment thousands of anxious American families have been waiting for, the president about to unveil his plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. An announcement scheduled for tomorrow. That's when President Obama will tell the nation how many soldiers will begin returning to the United States next month and when the last of our 100,000 troops will finally, finally ship out.
CHETRY: Dan Lothian is live for us at the White House this morning.
So, we talk about this timeline for a drawdown. What are your sources telling you about what it could entail?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, the White House is being very careful not to get ahead of the president's announcement. And as late as yesterday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the president was still reviewing his options, still finalizing his decision.
But, clearly, there has been a big divide not only within this administration, but also among Democrats and Republicans. Those liberal Democrats who have literally been calling for a sharp drawdown in light of the costs of the war, in light of the fact that U.S. has been able to get Osama bin Laden. There have been others who say that this draw down should be gradual. We heard that by Secretary of Defense Gates.
By the numbers, though, there are 100,000 U.S. troops still on the ground in Afghanistan. Remember, back in 2009 was when President Obama initiated that surge of 30,000 troops, that's when he laid down that timeline saying that the withdraw would begin in July 2011. That's next month.
And, of course, the overall goal is handing over security to the Afghans. That is expected in 2014. But all of this depends on what the situation, the security situation, will be on the ground.
COSTELLO: Let's talk about that, Dan, the security situation on the ground. How will that exactly figure in to the president's decision in how many troops to send home?
LOTHIAN: Well, it will be key because that's what the president said when he initiated that surge, that it really -- the timing of this would depend on whether the Afghan forces were able to handle their own security and what the security situation would be there.
Listen, no mistake, this administration believes they've made significant progress, especially getting Osama bin Laden. But they say beyond that, additional progress has been made.
CHETRY: The president, also, as we understand it, planning to meet with troops this week after making that announcement. Is that more of a photo-op? Or does he want to get their take and their input?
LOTHIAN: Well, this is, we're told by the White House, a chance for the president to sit down, meet with them privately at Fort Drum in Upstate New York, the 10th Mountain Division played an incredible role in not only Afghanistan but also Iraq. So, privately, the president will be meeting with these military men and women, and, perhaps, we'll get a chance to hear from the president as well.
COSTELLO: Dan Lothian, live at the White House, thank you.
CHETRY: To Libya now where the government is claiming 15 civilians were killed, including three children when a NATO airstrike targeted a residential building near Tripoli. NATO says that yesterday's attacks were justified, describing the building as a command and control facility that was directly involved in coordinating attacks on the Libyan people. The bombing came just a day after an errant NATO airstrike in Tripoli happened. Libyans say nine people died and six others were wounded in that attack.
Well, the mission in Libya is getting -- setting up a showdown between House Republicans and the president later this week. Speaker John Boehner believes that the White House is violating the War Powers Act for not getting congressional approval to continue the operation. Republicans plan to hold votes this week on measures that would restrict funding for the Libyan mission.
COSTELLO: On to the Casey Anthony murder trial now, because it resumes this morning in Orlando, at least we think so. The jury never even got started yesterday. Not a single witness was called to the stand. Instead, the judge called out the lawyers, ordering both sides to stop their gamesmanship or else.
David Mattingly live in Orlando this morning.
David, the judge was not happy.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Carol.
For the second straight day, the prosecution jumped up and complained that the defense was trying to bring a witness to the stand to offer surprise testimony -- "trial by ambush" they're calling it. They say this violates an agreement they've had in place throughout this trial that no one was going to bring a witness to the stand that the other side didn't have a chance to depose or prepare for cross-examination.
Well, that happened for the second straight day on Monday. The judge apparently decided there was nothing he could do but shut everything down and offer yet another very strong warning. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE BELVIN PERRY, ORANGE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Enough is enough. And both sides need to be forewarned that exclusion, even at the price of having to do it all over again, which I don't think I will have to do it all over again, because of repeated violations, exclusion may be the proper remedy if it continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: The judge there saying that if this happens again, he just might decide that, no, you can't call that witness now, regardless of what sort of ramifications that might mean in the future. If we're able to get started today and actually hear testimony, expect to hear more today about that duct tape that was found on Caylee Anthony's skull.
The prosecution claims that duct tape was used by Casey Anthony to suffocate her daughter, making it a murder weapon, while the defense is trying to bring witnesses to the stand, experts who will say that is not the case and authorities here got it wrong -- Carol.
COSTELLO: David Mattingly, reporting live from Orlando, many thanks.
CHETRY: Supreme Court handing a victory to Wal-Mart, ruling that a massive job discrimination lawsuit that was brought against the corporation was just simply too big and, therefore, not justified. The court also found that there was no, quote, "significant proof" that Wal-Mart operated under a general policy of discrimination. The women, though, behind the suit insist they will continue their fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CHRIS KWAPNOSKI, FILED LAWSUIT AGAINST WAL-MART: I'm a fighter, no one. I'm not going to let them run me off just because I happened to stand up to them.
GISEL RUIZ, WAL-MART EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT: Our company culture is about providing all associates opportunities to advance and grow.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
CHETRY: That sweeping class-action status may have potentially involved hundreds of thousands of former and current employees. In fact, at issue: whether as many as 1.6 million current and former female Wal-Mart employees could make this unified claim of discrimination. They claimed they were paid less and that they were given far fewer opportunities for promotion than their male counterparts. I mean, the ruling still means that they can go ahead with smaller lawsuits.
COSTELLO: Which will take a lot more money for a lot more defendants.
Also new this morning, two firefighters have now died battling flames in Florida. They were killed trying to stop the blue ribbon fire burning in north Florida. Firefighters thought they stopped that fire last week, but boy, did it flare up again. It's one of over 1,500 wildfires that have burned across the state this fire season.
CHETRY: Forecasters predicting weather conditions will improve today for crews that have been battling the wildfires in Arizona. Yesterday, the so-called monument fire jumped a number of fire lines. The wallow fire, the largest in Arizona's history, is now 56 percent contained.
And in Texas, the flames are spreading. There are now 20 wildfires burning. Officials say some 500 homes are threatened and more than 160 have already been evacuated.
COSTELLO: And an ash cloud from a Chilean volcano is again grounding commercial flights in Australia. Flights into and out of 10 Australian cities have been canceled. Qantas is grounding international flights at airports in Sydney and Melbourne. The same ash cloud from an eruption in Chile earlier this month caused major flight disruptions in Australia just two weeks ago.
CHETRY: Three Kentucky miners trapped for nearly 14 hours are safe and they're in good shape this morning. The men had just finished their shift. They were underground, when heavy rain caused a flood inside of the mine.
Yesterday, officials say that the men made their way to the high spot in the mine yesterday and then waited to be rescued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) DICK BROWN, KENTUCKY ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT CABINET SPOKESMAN: Pumped the water down and they were able to walk through the water and walk on outside.
HEATHER KOHLEP, FAMILY FRIEND: It's amazing, you know. You hear about the tragedies in West Virginia and it's a good thing that, you know, there was just three. Like I told someone else, if it had been anything, any, you know, later, then there would have been 30 trapped miners.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
CHETRY: Amazing. They knew what to do. They went to higher ground and it worked out for them.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is planning to speak with the men sometime today.
COSTELLO: OK. On to sports, five-time Wimbledon champ Venus Williams, she is showing no rust. She actually cruised in the second round in straight sets on opening day on the grass. Venus came back to action just last week after injuries sidelined her for five months.
On the men's side, defending champ Rafael Nadal blew by Michael Russell in straight sets. He is looking for his 11th grand slam title.
CHETRY: That's amazing she was, you know, healing and training and doing everything for five months and comes back.
COSTELLO: She's fierce.
CHETRY: She is. Sure is. Good for her.
Well, next on AMERICAN MORNING: the Republican presidential field, about to get a little more crowded. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman makes his announcement today. Why some say he could give the president a run for his money, if he could get out of the primary.
COSTELLO: If he can get out of the primary, that's a big one.
Plus, just wait until you hear how much California has spent just to maintain the death penalty. It's an amazing number.
It is nine minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Thirteen minutes past the hour.
The Republican presidential field is still growing and, in fact, in just a few hours, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is going to officially enter the GOP race for 2012. Carol and I just having a blast watching his Web videos, riding around on a motor bike in the desert.
But anyway --
COSTELLO: You don't know who it is at first. We're going to show you the video.
CHETRY: Pretty shortly. It's interesting. Yes, unusual and creative.
Huntsman has a bipartisan resume which includes working in the Obama administration.
COSTELLO: Yes, we'll see how much that hurts him or not. Huntsman will make the announcement at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, in the shadow of Lady Liberty, just like Ronald Reagan did so many years ago.
CHETRY: Jim Acosta is actually already there this morning. He joins us live. Hi, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Good morning Kiran.
You know, Jon Huntsman has been a little cautious about jumping into the presidential waters. He has avoided some big public appearances like that CNN debate about a week ago. He also did not go to a Republican Leadership Conference down in New Orleans over the weekend.
But he is planning to make a big splash in just a few hours from now when he makes his announcement that he's running for president in front of the Statute of Liberty behind me. And as you mentioned, Carol, this is evoking a lot of history here because this is the spot where Ronald Reagan announced his presidential bid back in 1980.
And aides to the former governor of Utah say that Jon Huntsman will touch on a few themes during this speech, one being the economy which is, obviously, the top of everybody's minds these days, also the national debt. And he'll issue a warning that if the national debt isn't taken care of, future generations will not do as well as current generations are doing now. And he's also expected to call for a more civil discourse, which will be interesting because, you know, the Tea Party Republicans in this primary battle are going to be right after President Obama full board. So, Jon Huntsman will have to deal with that as well.
But you can already hear the White House starting to craft its response to Jon Huntsman. Over the weekend, one of president's senior political advisers, David Axelrod, took issue with some of Governor Huntsman's comments about the economy and here's what David Axelrod had to say, basically saying, hey, when you were our ambassador to China you didn't raise any red flags then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID AXELROD, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think he's a very bright, fluid person. It was a little surprising to me because when we were in Shanghai, we got a chance to talk and he was very effusive. This was in the fall of 2009, about what the president was doing. So I was surprised when he emerged as a candidate. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And Jon Huntsman is going to have a busy day today. Not only is he kicking off his campaign at 10:00 later this morning, he's then off to New Hampshire and then South Carolina later in the day. His website for his presidential bid is also going live, Jon2012.com. And Kiran and Carol, make sure you don't put in "H" in there. It's J-O-N for Jon Huntsman.
COSTELLO: We will keep that in mind.
CHETRY: All right. Thanks so much.
COSTELLO: No way. We're going to show the ads.
CHETRY: Oh, OK. All right.
COSTELLO: As promised.
CHETRY: The - the Motocross ads, are you ready for this? These were very unusual. In fact, they were released on the web, one of them didn't even say - didn't even say Jon Huntsman's name or explain it. But we'll show people -
ACOSTA: That's right.
CHETRY: -- and get your take, Jim.
ACOSTA: OK. Sounds good.
(MOTOCROSS AD PLAYING)
COSTELLO: That's whacky, isn't it? It's different. It's creative.
ACOSTA: Yes. It's a little unusual.
ACOSTA: It is. And, you know, that's the point. You know, this is an ad from Fred Davis. He is the guy behind the Demon Sheep ad. Remember that Carly Fiorina's ill-fated campaign out in California? He was also behind the "I'm Not a Witch" ad also of the ill-fated campaign of Christine O'Donnell. Hopefully that's not a trend for Fred Davis.
But these ads are intended to get people thinking and saying, hey, what's with this guy, what's this all about? It's an unconventional take and that's what Jon Huntsman is looking for. He's a motorcycle riding -
COSTELLO: Was that Jon Huntsman on the motorcycle?
ACOSTA: That was not Jon Huntsman on the motorcycle.
CHETRY: It wasn't. That was the whole reason I was excited about it.
COSTELLO: But the last part says he likes Motocross.
ACOSTA: Apparently he likes extreme sports.
COSTELLO: And he wasn't even on the motorcycle.
CHETRY: All right. I'm liking this less and less.
ACOSTA: We'll try to get him on one today.
CHETRY: All right. I will also want to pick a different music. Maybe some "Machinehead," you know, "Breathe in, Breathe out." You're like driving really fast. I don't know. The music seems a little bit elevator-like for, you know, sweating it out in the desert on a bike.
ACOSTA: It's a work in progress - Kiran.
CHETRY: All right. Thanks, Jim.
COSTELLO: By the way, actually -
CHETRY: That wasn't Jon Huntsman.
COSTELLO: You can - you can ask Jon Huntsman about it tomorrow, because he's going to be our guest tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING, 8:30 Eastern. Don't miss it.
A California State lawmaker wants to abolish the state's death penalty after a report revealed the state has spent $4 billion on capital punishment since 1978. In fact, according to the report, maintaining the death penalty costs California taxpayers $184 million more per year than it would simply to leave inmates in prison for life, despite having more than 700 inmates on death row, only 13 executions have been performed in the last 30 years.
CHETRY: Floodwaters coming close to shutting down a nuclear plant in Nebraska. The high water triggering an alert at the Cooper Nuclear Station in Brownville among the Missouri River. Right now, the plant is still running at full capacity and officials say that no radiation has leaked and that no one's been hurt. National Guard is going door to door, though, warning people in the area where the river is going over levees.
COSTELLO: They probably don't have a road sign for this, fish crossing. It's an onsite (ph) just north of Big Lake, Missouri. Fish barely swimming over the top of Highway 111. Floodwaters just high enough for them to make it across if of course the birds don't get them first.
CHETRY: Oh, gosh. That's the only way fishing is easy. Just stand there with a net on the side of the highway.
COSTELLO: Catch them like that.
CHETRY: Catch your dinner.
Our Rob Marciano is in the Extreme Weather Center for us this morning. Hi, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. You know -
CHETRY: Happy summer.
MARCIANO: That's right. Coming this afternoon of around 1:15 or so. Looking good for that. Of course, a lot of folks have already felt summer, haven't you? Yes. And we got more record highs we're talking about across parts of the southeast.
I want to first show you some video coming out of Nebraska, intense thunderstorms last night and yesterday afternoon. Look at this puppy rolling through Elm Creek. This is down I-80, west of Lincoln and this tore up some farms. At one point rolled over some freight trains and these storm trackers have caught it on videotape, picking up a lot of dust and damaging farmland for the most part and that's how - what we like to see from these sorts of storms. Forty-one reports of - over 40 reports of tornadoes there and that funnel cloud certainly vivid.
All right. Are we going to see storms today? We are. But probably not as intense as that, but it's going to encompass a wider area. This is a big storm that's spiraling around up towards Canada, almost all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. And some of these storms will be severe today. Some thunderstorms that are rolling across Minneapolis in through parts of Eastern Wisconsin.
This, the tail end of it, not quite going to clip Chicago, but Dallas is the other big city right now that is enduring some heavy thunderstorms, severe thunderstorm warning or watch there has just been lifted. We're going to see some thunderstorms that will create some travel delays in Chicago and Dallas.
And look at these record highs. So, you know, we've been talking about record highs, guys, now for two or three weeks. So the fact that today is the first day of summer, I think comes to no surprise to a lot of folks.
CHETRY: No. It's felt like it for a long time. Thanks, Rob.
COSTELLO: Memorial Day is the first day of summer.
CHETRY: That's the unofficial start.
CHETRY: This is the meteorological summer. Don't rain on Rob's parade.
COSTELLO: All right. Sorry, weather nerd. We'll see you later.
MARCIANO: Oh, come on, guys.
COSTELLO: I meant that in a loving way. I did. MARCIANO: I prefer weather geek, actually.
CHETRY: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Cool. Thank you, Rob.
We heard an entire generation of our children by telling them they're all winners by giving out trophies for seventh place. Coming up at 8:40 this morning, we'll talk to a writer who says we have to teach our kids how to lose, too.
CHETRY: That's right. She had a big article in the "Atlantic" with the title "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy." So can't win as a parent. We're going to find out more about this.
And it's our question of the day this morning, are we hurting our kids by coddling them too much? On our website we put up a link to the article if you want to read it. Send us an e-mail, a tweet, tell us on Facebook and we'll read some of your responses throughout the morning.
COSTELLO: Oh, I can't wait to see those.
Up next on AMERICAN MORNING, a significant change is coming to cigarette packs. We'll have details on the new and graphic warnings.
CHETRY: And after spending decades in prisons in the U.S. and France, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega may be heading back to the country he once ruled to face murder charges.
Twenty-two minutes past the hour.
COSTELLO: "Minding Your Business" this morning.
Stocks pushing higher at the close yesterday even as investors remain cautious about the debt crisis in Greece. Potential market movers today included existing (ph) home sales for May, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaking on the economy at a meeting of CFOs in Washington.
A confidence vote at the Greek Parliament today, a key hurdle for Prime Minister George Papandreou. The European Union announcing yesterday that Greece's austerity measures such as budget and benefit cut need to continue in order to receive a portion of a second bailout package in July. Today's confidence vote must pass in order for Greece's austerity reforms to push through.
Today kicks off the two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve policymakers in Washington. Interest rates are expected to remain unchanged, but all eyes will be on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's second press conference tomorrow and what he will say about the stimulus program ending this month.
Federal regulators accusing JPMorgan Chase and Royal Bank of Scotland of misleading several credit unions by encouraging them to buy mortgage bonds that were destined to perform poorly. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting the move eventually pushed the industry into crisis. RBS says they have no comment on the report. CNN's calls to JPMorgan have not been returned.
And hacking groups Lulz Security and Anonymous teaming up to target government and big business, particularly banks, worldwide. Operation Anti-Security crashed the Serious Organized Crime Agency in the U.K. and its launch mission. No word yet on the next target.
AMERICAN MORNING will be right back after a break with either Republican budget plan is under attack by a Tea Party leader.
It's 26 minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Crossing the half hour right now. Time for a look at our top stories.
It won't be long before our fighting men and women start to come home from Afghanistan. And President Obama will be announcing his plan for a troop drawdown tomorrow. The first wave of U.S. soldiers expected to ship out of Afghanistan to make their way home next month.
And it's a victory for the world's largest retailer. The Supreme Court blocking the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history, siding with Wal-Mart, against hundreds of thousands of former and current female employees who claim discrimination. The high court is ruling there was no convincing proof of a company-wide discriminatory pay and promotion policy. The ruling does not prevent women from proceeding with individual lawsuits.
Three Kentucky miners are safe this morning after being trapped for nearly 14 hours. Officials say that heavy rains caused the mine to flood. The men were able to make their way to the highest spot in the mine where they waited for crews to drain the water and get them out.
COSTELLO: On to politics now, the Republican budget plan put forward by Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan takes a sharp knife to Medicare, to help trim the deficit. Most Republicans and Tea Party members have embraced it, and those who have criticized Ryan's medical's plan, like Newt Gingrich, have been blasted by the right.
But the chairman of south Florida Tea Party is ready for that. He calls the Ryan plan a public policy nightmare that could lead to huge Democratic wins in 2012. That man is Everett Wilkinson and joins us now from West Palm Beach.
EVERETT WILKINSON, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION CONSULTANT: Good morning.
COSTELLO: I must say you don't mince words. You call Ryan's Medicare plan a "public policy nightmare." You also wrote a letter to Republican and Tea Party leaders and I want to read a bit of that for our viewers now. You said, "The Tea Party and the GOP need to drop all support for the Ryan Medicare plan. It is a political trap and public policy nightmare, and the Republicans are locking arms, jumping off the cliff for it."
Why do you say that?
WILKINSON: Well, it is. Number one, it's a -- to call it a plan is, I think, a farce. It really doesn't address the issues that we have on spending and the debt right now. And that's just the basics.
COSTELLO: What do you mean it doesn't address the issues? Because many economists say that you have to target social -- these like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, to really put a long-term dent in our deficit. So, Paul Ryan, they say, is courageous for talking about these cuts to Medicare.
WILKINSON: Well, it doesn't -- number one, is that it's going to be nine years before there's any cuts that happen. It's going to be over 10 years before we see a balanced budget. I don't necessarily consider that courageous.
And, you know, as far as on the political side, you know, why would you put something in place, commit yourself, for nine years of elections, not even know what's going to happen -- be with the status is, nine years from that time. That's just -- it's suicide.
And I'm not the only one saying that. Dick Morris came out, Roger Stone, Donald Trump, a lot of conservatives are questioning this plan.
COSTELLO: But when Newt Gingrich came out, I mean, he said -- he called Paul Ryan's medical care radical, right wing social engineering. Did Newt Gingrich have a point?
WILKINSON: I think Newt Gingrich had a point. I don't necessarily agree with his verbiage.
But, you know, look at the Ryan plan. The $500 billion that were cut with the Obamacare, he actually kept those cuts, rather than giving it back to the seniors. And that's why the seniors came out in force last year for the elections.
I think the Republicans are making a serious mistake. They need to look across the board at welfare programs, look at the Pentagon budget. Social welfare programs have gone up 30 percent since Obama, versus Medicare that has gone up 12 percent. We can look at the Pentagon budget.
I don't think this is the time to be cutting the senior citizens Medicare program. We need to look at alternatives.
COSTELLO: You mention cutting welfare programs, but that's -- I mean, the federal government spends just a tiny amount of money on that kind of program, you know, versus Medicare. I mean that's a doozy.
WILKINSON: Absolutely. But, you know, they've gone up. There's a lot of fraud and abuse in those programs. We look -- we're going to have to cut everything across the board. But if you look at the Ryan plan, you know, it's -- it doesn't address it now, we're going to have to wait nine years.
I think let's look at some real solutions. Obama had the deficit reduction commission recently and they suggested raising the age. They had some proposals. Neither -- you know, and I'm not saying Obama is doing a great job. As a matter of fact, he didn't really even submit a plan either.
But, you know, why can't either side take some of those proposals that the commission advised?
COSTELLO: We'll see what happens, and if you change any minds because that's a tough thing. Everett Wilkinson, thanks so much.
WILKINSON: Well --
COSTELLO: Go ahead.
WILKINSON: You know, I got a lot of support specifically from Tea Party members. I received a very supportive letter from a Tea Party leader who is actually a doctor and said, Everett, you're right on. The Ryan plan is wrong for America. It's wrong for doctors, wrong for seniors and we need to look at it again.
COSTELLO: Mr. Wilkinson, thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.
WILKINSON: Thank you.
CHETRY: Meantime in other news, Russian investigators are trying to determine what caused a plane crash that killed at least 44 people. Officials say the twin engine jetliner took off from Moscow last night and crashed on to a highway just minutes before it was scheduled to land at an airport in northwestern Russia. Reports say eight survivors were taken to local hospitals.
France is setting the wheels in motion to send former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega back to the country he once ruled. Noriega served 20 years in a U.S. prison for drug trafficking before he was sent to France where he was convicted last year on money -- laundering drug money. Officials in Panama want him back and they plan to charge him with the murder of political rivals while he was in power in the 1980s.
COSTELLO: Just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING: call it the jaw shank redemption.
CHETRY: That was a good line by our writer Rick.
COSTELLO: Going to take credit for it, thanks a lot.
Anyway, jaw shank redemption, we say that because more than a dozen gators literally tunneled their way to freedom from a farm and now neighbors are afraid to go outside.
CHETRY: Oh, gosh.
COSTELLO: Jaw shank redemption.
CHETRY: I love it. I love it. That's creativity for you there.
You never heard of a bank robbery like this one either. The suspect did everything he could to get arrested. He stole a dollar. We'll explain.
Thirty-seven minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Little bit disturbing but hoping that it --
COSTELLO: Is effective.
CHETRY: Yes. And just sort of pushes people to kick the habit.
The Food and Drug Administration unveiling new very graphic warning labels for cigarette packs. They include photos and blunt warnings like "smoking can kill you," and "cigarettes cause cancer." They'll also take up 50 percent of the cigarette tax.
Cigarette makers must start using these new labels. They have to be in effect in 15 months. So, by September of 2012.
COSTELLO: That was a tracheotomy, right?
CHETRY: The smoke coming out of it. It's disturbing. Disturbing. But they say that -- I mean, people need to understand that this will happen if you continue to smoke.
COSTELLO: See if it works.
A major shakeup at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Law enforcement sources Acting Director Kenneth Melson is expected to resign. He'll do that in the next day or two, after that controversy surrounding the ATF's operation "Fast and Furious." The operation let weapons flow into Mexico with the goal of trying to track down cartel members. Two guns from the program turned up at the scene where a U.S. border patrol agent was killed last year.
CHETRY: Some scary moments caught on tape when a car flies up and over the wall. This was at a racetrack in Indiana. Four people ended up in the hospital. They were all volunteer workers at the track.
There you see the car.
Luckily no one was killed in that. No fans were in danger. Witnesses say they didn't see the car coming until the last second.
Homeowners checking their pools twice in a neighborhood in Citrus County, Florida. Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say 17 alligators busted out of a nearby gator farm. They dug underneath the fence and escaped.
CHETRY: Seventeen of them.
COSTELLO: Seventeen gators.
CHETRY: Not two, not three.
COSTELLO: Well, they managed to capture some of them, thank goodness. But eight of them are still on the run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait until I tell my wife there's eight unaccounted for. The last one that was caught on Friday evening was about five-foot, three inches.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: My gosh!
COSTELLO: That's insane.
Wildlife officials say the owner of the gator farm did have a permit but they are still investigating.
CHETRY: Eight on the loose still. So, just keep your eyes open.
Well, the ousted president of Tunisia and his wife have now been sentenced to 35 years in prison. They've also been fined $65 million on corruption charges. But getting them to serve a single day of their sentence could be the real challenge.
COSTELLO: Oh, a big challenge.
Zain Verjee joins us live from London this morning.
So, Zain, President Ben Ali and his wife, they're not even in Tunisia.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: No, they're not. They're in Saudi Arabia. They've been there since they fled Tunisia. And it's very unlikely, guys, that Saudi Arabia would do any kind of an extradition deal with Tunisia and send them back to face trial.
So, what's happened is this trial was done in Tunis in absentia. It's only case one and it focused on something like $27 million that were found in one of their palaces in cash and in jewels. The Tunisian prosecutor said, well, these are of historic value and that's why the embezzlement and misuse of public funds charges were raised here.
There are others, too. There's a second case that's going to be done, centering around drugs and weapons. And president -- the former President Ben Ali is going to be investigated on suspicion of murder, abuse of power, money laundering. But he's in Saudi Arabia and he's not coming back to Tunisia any time soon to face any of this. And his lawyer says that the verdict today is a joke and it's just totally politically motivated. COSTELLO: I wouldn't go back to Tunisia either. Talk about the first lady.
VERJEE: Stay in Saudi.
COSTELLO: I think that's probably a good idea for them.
Zain, the first lady, Michele Obama, is in South Africa, along with the daughters this morning. They're there for a week. So, what are they doing there?
VERJEE: Well, they have a totally packed schedule. The focus of the first lady's trip is women development, youth development and the promoting of democracy there. What she's doing today is meeting with President Zuma's wife, then she's going to meet with President Mandela's wife, Graca Machel.
And she's going to get a tour of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. She's going to go see a day care center. She's going to go to the famous apartheid museum. Later on, she'll be speaking to young African leaders as well during her trip.
So, it's a pretty busy one. You can see the pictures of them coming out on to the tarmac at the airport and actually Sasha and Malia got these nice little gifts of South African blanket with South African flags on it. So, there are lots of pictures showing that.
After the South Africa leg, guys, they're going to be going to Botswana and meeting with women's groups there. And then, they'll also get to go on a safari in Botswana which will be great but, you know, Kenyan safaris are better.
CHETRY: Zain from Kenya, but what an amazing experience for these two young girls getting to experience the world like this.
CHETRY: Just amazing. So, good for them. Hope they enjoy themselves.
COSTELLO: I'd take either safari.
VERJEE: I'm sure --
COSTELLO: Wouldn't matter to me. Maybe, Zain, you can lead a safari for Kiran and I in Kenya.
VERJEE: Oh, I would love to. You know, I was just there recently, and I went to see the migration of the wildebeest in Masai Mara which is one of the most amazing sights that you can ever see. You're always welcome to come to Kenya, and I will be your jungle tour bush guide, no problem. We do luxury five-star tented camps. Luxury. COSTELLO: Yes, that would be a must.
CHETRY: Here in New York, we have a different migration of the wildebeests called trying to cross the street in the summer.
CHETRY: All right. Take care, Zain. And you can watch Zain every morning 5:00 a.m. eastern on "World One" right here on CNN.
COSTELLO: So, what would drive someone to rob a bank and then wait for police to arrest him? This is kind of a sad story, actually. Fifty-eight-year-old James Verone had no job, had no money, and some serious medical issues. He thought jail was the best place he could go for medical treatment and a roof over his head. So, last week, he entered this bank in North Carolina unarmed, and he handed the teller a note.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES VERONE, ROBBERY SUSPECT: The note said, "This is a bank robbery. Please only -- please only give me $1" because I wanted to make it known to whoever would know, that, you know, it wasn't done for a monetary value, it was done for, you know, medical reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: He was hoping -- it's really sad. He was hoping for a three-year sentence so he can collect Social Security when he gets out, but because he only demanded $1, police charged him with larceny, not bank robbery, so Verone might not get as much time in the slammer as he was hoping for. So, he's going to have to figure out something else.
CHETRY: That's a very sad situation for him.
COSTELLO: I know. It breaks your heart.
CHETRY: It does.
Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, a trip to the Apple store makes you want to dance apparently. This is a 12-year-old. His dance moves in the Apple store have made him a huge hit on YouTube.
COSTELLO: That's just weird.
CHETRY: And he's apparently inspiring others. That's not a 12-year- old boy.
COSTELLO: No, and neither is she.
Our question of the day this morning, are we hurting our children by coddling them too much? Send us an e-mail, a tweet, tell us on Facebook. We'll read some of your responses later this hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHETRY: It's 50 minutes past the hour. Time to get you caught up on the headlines this morning.
CHETRY (voice-over): We start in Afghanistan where in a matter of weeks, U.S. soldiers will start coming home. President Obama will announce his plan for a troop drawdown.
The Supreme Court has stopped a massive job discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart. The court found the sweeping class-action status that could potentially involve hundreds of thousands of current and former female workers would simply be too large.
The Casey Anthony murder trial resumes this morning. Yesterday, the judge called a recess, slamming attorneys on both sides for excessive gamesmanship and warned them that they could be compromising their cases.
This morning, former Utah governor, Jon Huntsman, will announce his candidacy in the Republican presidential nomination. It will happen in New Jersey as the Statute of Liberty as a backdrop. Huntsman recently served as President Obama's ambassador to China.
Venus Williams and defending champ, Rafael Nadal, winners in the first round of Wimbledon. Nadal was looking for his 11th grand slam title.
CHETRY (on-camera): You're caught up on the day's headlines. AMERICAN MORNING will be back after a quick break.
COSTELLO: And we heard an entire generation of children by telling them they're winners. Coming up at 8:40 eastern this morning, we'll talk to a writer who says we have to teach our kids how to lose, too.
CHETRY: How to suffer a little bit to have a stronger constitution. We'll see. It's our question of the day this morning. Are we hurting our kids by coddling them too much?
Meinrhyme on Twitter, "Coddle them while you can while they're still around and on hand."
COSTELLO: This from J. Alena, "One thing we have to do is to stop the overabundance of rewards for basic expectations. As a teacher and a parent, must encourage them to be even better. Know the differences between accomplishments and expectations.
CHETRY: All right. Well, keep your comments coming. We're going to read some more coming up in the next hour, but you can send us an e- mail, a tweet, or tell us on Facebook. Overwhelmingly though, our e- mailers have been saying, yes, we coddle our kids too much. COSTELLO: Yes. So, if you come in seventh place, you shouldn't get a trophy.
CHETRY: Or maybe you should for effort.
COSTELLO: Oh! I knew she was going to say that. I knew it.
CHETRY: Their little faces. It's so hard. It's so hard to --
COSTELLO: You have to look into their little faces and say, loser!
CHETRY: Yes, right. That is terrible.
All right. For most of us, a trip to the Apple store would be fairly uneventful. Not so for a 12-yer-old boy in California. For him, the store is his own personal stage.
COSTELLO: Oh, it certainly is. His dance video has become huge hits on what else, YouTube. CNN's Dan Simon shows you.
(SINGING) just no turning back when your heart's under attack.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most people see it as a store. Twelve-year-old, Trevor Moran, sees it as his stage to dance and lip sync the favorites like Justin Beiber.
TREVOR MORAN, APPLE STORE DANCER: Hey, guys. What's up? It's me, Trevor, in an Apple store, of course.
SIMON: He's on his way to internet stardom with dances to Lady Gaga.
(SINGING) my mama told me when I was young, we are all born superstars.
SIMON: And Britney Spears.
(SINGING) little closer.
SIMON: Trevor's videos on YouTube have gotten five million hits.
MORAN: I walk into the store, I act totally like a regular person, and then, I just bust out and start dancing and that's like the best part. I walk in the store totally mellow.
SIMON: It turns out, he's not the only one doing this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every apple store I go to, I'm going to have a dance off in the Apple store, no matter where I'm at.
SIMON: Yes. Apple store dances are happening all over the country.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: Hey, guys. What's up? OK. So, I'm going to be doing my first ever Apple store dance.
SIMON: Sometimes, they wear costumes. Sometimes, they bring friends, and music choices range. And as you can imagine, they always seem to catch the eye of other customers.
MORAN: A lot of looks. There's a lot of laughs. There's a lot of stares. The employees when I first did it, they didn't really know what was going on. They kind of stopped me at first. Like, they like, oh, turn that down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.
MORAN: Even now, all the employees at the store that I usually go to, they're totally cool to me now, and they love me.
My favorite video I would say is my dance to "Friday" by Rebecca Black.
(SINGING) seven a.m. waking up in the morning, got to be fresh, got to go downstairs. Got to have my bowl, got to have cereal.
MORAN: I do not rehearse any of my dances. Freestyle, I wing it. I'm just doing what dance moves I got, you know?
SIMON: He records those moves using one of the store's machines and uploads directly from the store to YouTube.
MORAN: Fancy schmansy.
SIMON: His goal is to translate this into more than just internet fame. He dreams of a career in show business.
Dan Simon --
SIMON: CNN --
MORAN: Thank you all so much for watching.
SIMON: San Francisco.
CHETRY: Get that little guy a trophy.
COSTELLO: I think we should rate them on their performances and do it honestly. That kid deserved -- I can't do it.
CHETRY: See, you can't even do it.
COSTELLO: I can't do it.
CHETRY: All bark and no bite. You couldn't say that to that poor kid.
COSTELLO: I know.
CHETRY: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back with our top stories. Four minutes to the top of the hour.