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Cap Over Gulf Oil Leak Continues to Hold; Tea Party Leader Writes Racist Blog; Centuries Old Ship Found at World Trade Center Site; Secretive Apple Breaking Its Silence; NAACP and Tea Party Express in a Heated Battle Over Race: Gut Check on Race Relations in the Country; The $20-Billion Man; Utah Lists Names Alleged Illegals; Swim, Run, Bike for a Fit Nation
Aired July 16, 2010 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING on this Friday. It's July 16th. I'm Kiran Chetry.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Acosta. John Roberts is off today. Lots to talk about and a big picture to show you.
It's hard to believe that this thing has stopped, but it is stopped. The disaster is on hold for now down in the Gulf. Look at that picture, it's definitely worth a thousand words, maybe a million, maybe even more than that. We're hoping that the long national nightmare is over. We're keeping an eye on this picture all morning long. It's held all night long which is great news. The oil spill in the Gulf stopped in its track. BP containment cap is holding and pressure tests on the ruptured well are progressing, but we're not out of the woods yet obviously. A live report from New Orleans in just a moment.
CHETRY: Also up for some bad press? A thumbs down from "Consumer Reports" and rumors of a costly recall. There is a new report saying that Steve Jobs was actually warned an iPhone 4's wrap-around antenna design could cause problems. Apple is expected to break its silence at a press conference later today. So, what will they say? What should they say? A PR expert will give us his take coming up.
ACOSTA: And one Tea Party leader raising more than a few eyebrows after penning what some are calling a racist rant after the NAACP, of all weeks, charged the grassroots movement of tolerating racism in its ranks. In a moment, see what the Tea Party leader wrote. That's coming up.
CHETRY: We're continuing to follow a developing story this morning. A 3.6 magnitude earthquake hit near Gaithersburg, Maryland, just 20 miles from the nation's Capitol. It hit about 5:00 this morning. Our Rob Marciano is tracking this from the CNN extreme weather center. Did people actually feel this thing?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, light shaking was felt. But you mentioned 20 miles west, just outside of D.C. or northwest outside of D.C., also ten miles outside of Rockville, Maryland. This is the Potomac, Shenandoah region, the Virginia seismic zone which gets a little shaking every now and then. But to get to the point where you can actually feel it, that is certainly unusual. As far as I can see, the D.C. area hasn't seen this kind of shaking in at least a couple of decades. So unusual, for sure, but no damage expected to be reported with this.
But everything you see in the lighter blues and greens there is where people actually felt it and reported that in. Little bit of light shaking to wake you up at 5:00 a.m. across the D.C. metropolitan area. Interesting stuff. Hopefully no more shaking throughout the day today, but if we do get anymore we'll report it back to you for sure. And of course weather coming up later in the program.
CHETRY: Rob, thanks.
ACOSTA: A disaster on hold for 15 hours now. All of that leaking oil in the gulf replaced by some tears of joy this morning obviously. Take a look at BP's live feed from a mile down. It's eerily quiet, almost serene. The hemorrhaging has been halted for now on day 88 of this unprecedented tragedy. There is finally hope that the end could be near.
CHETRY: It is because integrity tests on BP's ruptured well are moving ahead and so far, so good. The spill appears, at least for now, to be completely stopped. But the big question this morning is can the ruptured well withstand the enormous pressure that's now building inside of it.
ACOSTA: Ed Lavandera has been tracking the integrity testing and all the latest developments from the Gulf coast. He's live in New Orleans this morning. Ed, where do things stand right now, and what should we be looking for as the morning progresses?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. This is really a question of sustainability -- how long can this containment cap sustain this situation, that is, being able to work keeping the flow of oil from continuing to flow into the Gulf waters.
We do know that scientists are monitoring those pressure gauges around the clock, that they have been huddling up in six-hour intervals to kind of compare notes and see how to move forward.
So the fact that we're still seeing these amazing pictures from the bottom of the Gulf waters is a good sign, because they had been telling us that if things had gone wrong or if the pressures started dropping, they could essentially end this integrity test at any point. So the fact that they're still doing this is a good sign. It is supposed to last up to 48 hours.
Then the question becomes, what next? There is a couple of different options. There is the possibility that the containment cap continues to work the way it is by itself.
But what Admiral Thad Allen, as everyone knows, the man in charge of the federal response, he seemed to be leaning more toward the idea that the valves would need to be re-opened and riser pipes connected to those exit points and oil brought up to the surface, collected with vessels on the surface of the Gulf waters. He's made several comments yesterday to that effect. So that seems to be the way he views how this might play out in the coming days.
But regardless, this is a monumental step and a big change for what we've seen the last three months down here in the Gulf of Mexico.
ACOSTA: Well, our fingers are crossed, Ed. We really hope that this is it. Ed Lavendera live in New Orleans this morning. Ed, thanks.
CHETRY: Meantime, President Obama is saying he is cautiously optimistic that BP's new cap will hold. The president's taken a beating over his handling of the gulf oil crisis. But to hear the White House tell it he was on a roll before the oil gill and the Greek debt crisis, the two Gs stopped his momentum.
Ed Henry is live at the White House with more on this. Hey, Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. You're right, inside the West Wing of the White House, top aides do call it the "gs." The Greek debt crisis sort of slowed the momentum of the economic recovery here as debt woes have spread across the globe, but also the Gulf oil spill, that explosion was in early April just a couple weeks after the president signed the health care reform bill into law.
And I'm told by Democratic officials that a couple days ago here at the White House when the president met with Democratic senators he said he felt like he was gaining a little bit of traction and momentum just when the oil spill hit.
That's, in part, why we're seeing such cautious optimism out of this without to what Ed Lavendera was just reporting. They want to stress when you talk to senior aides that they are not certain that this is going to hold. They want to be very careful, not do any celebrations, no "Mission Accomplished" banners outside this White House about what's going on down in the Gulf.
In fact, when I asked the president yesterday he made remarks on the Wall Street reform bill finally passing through the Senate, another domestic accomplishment for him. I shouted a question about the Gulf oil spill, the latest developments. He said, look, it is a positive sign, but these tests are still going on and they want to make sure that all of this sticks.
We're expecting the president this morning to once again speak here at the White House before he leaves with the family for a weekend vacation to Maine. He realizes all eyes right now are on the Gulf, but they want to be very careful about not celebrating any political victories and make sure that all goes well in the days ahead first.
CHETRY: Ed Henry for us this morning, thanks so much.
ACOSTA: And the president will make a statement about the Gulf oil shutoff -- that's what we're calling it now -- before going on vacation during the 9:00 a.m. eastern hour. You can see it right here on CNN. That will be live at 9:00 this morning.
CHETRY: In the meantime, the claims of racism are flying back and forth between the NAACP and the Tea Party. This morning that's ratcheted up another notch after the civil rights group first accused the grassroots movement of putting up with racists in their ranks.
Mark Williams, a Tea Party leader, suggests that it is the NAACP that's racist. Now he's sparking new controversy by writing a satirical blog in the form of a letter from the head of the NAACP to Abraham Lincoln.
In part, it reads, "Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the reward? That is just far too much to ask of us colored people and we demand that it stop!"
Now we spoke to Mark Williams last night and he did confirm that he wrote that blog.
ACOSTA: That's right. And we're trying to get him on the show this morning. If he's watching, we'd appreciate it if he call in.
In about 20 minutes, we're also going to be looking at something else. Many people who were hopeful about president Obama's election bringing about racial harmony, why does it seem we still haven't turned the page on this issue? Our Carol Costello has a "Gut Check." That's coming up.
And at 8:30 eastern we'll get reaction from Mark Williams from Hillary Shelton, the director of the NAACP in pawing. And we want to hear from you. You can find our live blog up and running at CNN.com/amfix.
And get this. This is amazing stuff, a piece of history uncovered in a place you may not expect. Why is a ship from the 1700s buried under the streets of lower Manhattan? Our crews take you there to get some answers. We mean take you there. We mean down in there. Stick around. It is a story you won't want to miss. It's seven minutes past the hour.
ACOSTA: This is a story that sounds like an urban legend but it is not. It is real. Workers at the World Trade Center site uncovered the hull of a ship dating all the way back to the 1700s.
CHETRY: They're thrilled about this find. We first told but it yesterday. They had an aerial shot from one of the helicopters over the site. Now the big question is why is it here? Why was it there in the first place? Our Mary Snow actually climbed all the way down.
ACOSTA: Hardhat and everything.
CHETRY: You saw it up close and personal. Archaeologists at the site are just thrilled with this. MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are so excited. This is such a rare find. This is part of the new World Trade Center site. It wasn't part of the original site. Archaeologists say the area hadn't been excavating this deep, which is why construction hadn't disturbed this part of the ground until now.
SNOW: At the construction site at ground zero, a rare find -- remnants of a ship dating back to the 18th century. We were allowed to climb down 25 feet to the site and see firsthand what archaeologists stumbled upon Tuesday.
MOLLY MCDONALD, ARCHAEOLOGIST, AKRF: Two timbers brought up by a backhoe. Immediately thought that looks like a ship timber. We stopped the backhoe and started excavating with shovels and uncovered a portion of this hull. And since then have uncovered the rest that you see.
SNOW: What we can see is believed to be half of a ship. Marine historian Norman Brouwer was brought in to take a look.
NORMAN BROUWER, MARINE HISTORIAN: It appears to be an ocean going vessel and probably at some time in the 1700s. It's heavily built. Very solid frames built close together.
SNOW: This circular structure may have been used as a fireplace. An anchor was also recovered.
SNOW (on camera): How significant is this find?
MCDONALD: I mean I think it remains to be seen what this ship really is, but it is pretty significant. It is pretty exciting. There haven't been that many ships found in Manhattan. It was something that occasionally ships were occasionally used as part of land filling, so it probably was part of filling in this land. So it's not unheard of.
SNOW: Because of the history here, archaeologists have been monitoring the construction site. The Wildlife Conservation Society shows just how much of lower Manhattan was under water hundreds of years ago in its project. Compare that to now.
ELIZABETH MEADE, ARCHAEOLOGIST, AKRF: Mostly it just tells us about the landfill structure of this particular area and how they were reusing things like old boats to build out the land, because the shorelines was originally at Greenwich street about a block that way.
SNOW: Where we're standing now at one point was just the Hudson River.
MEADE: The Hudson River, yes.
SNOW: This site is just south of where the World Trade Center towers once stood, this rare relic hidden for more than 200 years.
MEADE: This is the kind of thing that archaeologists are always hoping to find and very rarely actually do.
SNOW: As you might imagine, the remnants of this 32-foot wooden hull are very fragile, very brittle. Workers are continuing to excavate it, collecting samples to study. The hope is that they'll be able to get enough of these samples that they will eventually wind up in a museum.
CHETRY: That's really neat. You also said time is ticking because now that is it is exposed to sunlight they have to work fast.
SNOW: Right. And this is a construction site. They're not stopping. So they don't have much time at all. They hope to recover this by Sunday.
CHETRY: Pretty neat. Mary, thanks so much.
Well, the tech industry experts say that there is a whole lot riding on Apple's press conference that's coming up in just a few hours about how they're going to respond to the iPhone-4 complaints about the antenna and what should Apple do to make it right? We're talking to a corporate damage control expert next.
It's 14 minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. We're 17 minutes past the hour right now.
Another crack this morning in the wall of secrecy surrounding Apple. Bloomberg News is reporting that one of the company's top engineers was working on the antenna, warned CEO Steve Jobs that that wrap-around design could be a problem. Now after weeks of bad press, Apple's breaking its silence at a news conference later this morning. So what should they say and how much do Apple iPhone 4 owners really care about this issue?
"Minding Your Business" this morning is Eric Dezenhall. He runs Dezenhall Resources, a PR company specializing in corporate damage control.
Good morning to you, Eric.
ERIC DEZENHALL, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF DEZENHALL RESOURCES: Good morning.
CHETRY: You also own the iPhone 4. So what is your take as a customer first before you put on your PR hat?
DEZENHALL: Well, I think that from a customer perspective, it really comes down to two things. How does this affect me, and what are you doing about it? That's all people care about.
And I think one of the interesting things from a damage control perspective is Apple consistently violates every damage control cliche without any consequence. They're secretive, they lash out at consumers. They're entitled, yet at the same time there's the reason why there's no consequences is because when you are an insurgent, sort of a bad boy, that is a privilege that you have because people will love you no matter what you do. But now Apple is no longer just an insurgent. They are a trend-setting market leader, so the behavior of the past has to shift.
CHETRY: All right. So, first of all, let me ask you about your own iPhone. Have you had these problems with the dropped call, the antenna, the so-called death grip?
DEZENHALL: I haven't. No. No, I haven't.
CHETRY: Do you buy that cover for it? You have a cover for it?
DEZENHALL: I didn't. And a lot of what will have to happen in this news conference is again, those two big questions -- how does this affect me and what are you doing about it? What's the solution? Is it software? Is it hardware?
I think one of the great things Apple has going for them is because there are people who have an evangelical belief in their product. They won't have to work as hard as some. But, if there is some sort of technical problem, what's the answer?
DEZENHALL: I mean, at some point in every romance, the swooning ends and the practical takes over. What is the practical solution?
CHETRY: So there have been two things that a lot of the tech blog experts have talked about. One is that Apple comes out today and says, you know, maybe it's a hardware problem, maybe it's a software problem. But the bottom line is it can all be fixed by putting a cover on it and we're going to offer those for free for anybody who wants it, or a full recall which is expensive, $1.5 billion, I think by some estimates. Is that a likely scenario?
DEZENHALL: I think it's -- you know, a lot of it depends on what the empirical problem is. I mean, I think there's going to have to be something other than lashing out and saying the consumer is holding it wrong, it's someone else's fault. That's going to be a problem. But whether it's a software solution or a hardware solution or a recall, I mean, a recall for a company like Apple, they're a very wealthy company so they can afford something like this. But, there's no reason to do a recall if there is a solution other than something radical.
All right, this is interesting today. "Wall Street Journal" reporting that Apple engineers were aware and made Steve jobs aware of this possible problem with the new antenna design, the wrap-around design as early as a year ago.
DEZENHALL: I'm skeptical.
CHETRY: You don't believe that?
DEZENHALL: You know, in every crisis I've ever worked on, right after the initial allegation, the second thing that happens is the telltale e-mail, the whistleblower, somebody who claims they told the company. And my experience has been, you don't really know whether or not you're dealing -- you really are dealing with a top-level person or what. I mean when the media begin digging into something like this, there is a 100 percent chance you will find an e-mail, you will find a memo, you will find a renegade who says they don't like it.
I don't hold a lot of credence to that simply because it happens in every case I've ever worked on, but it doesn't mean that from a consumer perspective you have to hold our hands and at some point the emotional love we feel for the product gives way to the fact that if I can't use it, it's going to be a problem. The fact is I haven't had a problem, and a lot of people haven't had a problem, but those who do are going to need a tangible solution, not just a PR outreach.
CHETRY: Right. All right, well, we'll see what they say today about the issue. Stock price down seven percent since the introduction of the iPhone 4. But at the same time, not a huge amount of people running in to turn it back in.
CHETRY: Eric Dezenhall with Dezenhall Resources, thanks for being with us this morning.
DEZENHALL: You bet. Thank you.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, accusations the Tea Party tolerates racism sparking another national debate on the sensitive topic of race. But after the beer summit and President Obama's historic election, what is the state of race relations in this country? Our Carol Costello has a gut check.
It is 21 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: Twenty-five minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Your top stories just five minutes away. First though, an "A.M. Original," something you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING.
Race, of course, is one of the most sensitive issues in our country, and right now there's -- the whole issue has been brought to the forefront again.
ACOSTA: It's been dredged back up again. And as we speak, core supporters of both the NAACP and the Tea Party are in a heated battle over the issue. Our Carol Costello joins us now live from Washington with a gut check.
And, Carol, President Obama's election certainly has not brought about racial harmony and this past week is Exhibit A.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, you're right about that, Jim. No one really thought it would, but at the very least some believed it would turn a page on race relations. But maybe there wouldn't be a debate that's playing out now between the Tea Party movement and the NAACP. Each side is calling the other racist.
And things got even more heated this morning because one Tea Party leader, Mark Williams, posted a satirical blog that in part reads, "Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us colored people and we demand that it stop." The letter is from the head of the NAACP to Abraham Lincoln.
Certainly not something that will bring the two sides together. So, a gut check this morning. Why can't we stop this? And is this a sign race relations have actually taken a step back?
COSTELLO (voice-over): On "LARRY KING LIVE," a discussion turned bad about the NAACP's accusation the Tea Party movement tolerates racist elements.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what? It wasn't truthful --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's not engage in defamation and --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, I'm talking so shut your mouth.
COSTELLO: It was a meltdown, just like an earlier discussion on Wolf Blitzer's show. CNN contributor Roland Martin on one side, Tea Party Express spokesperson Mark Williams on the other.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You should come out and say you're not welcome here and --
MARK WILLIAMS, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: Racists have their own movement. It's called the NAACP.
MARTIN: Oh, that's nonsense.
COSTELLO: Observers say it is the same racial stalemate America's been stuck in for years. Still, not so long ago Americans were kind of hopeful.
On the day before President Obama's inauguration, a "Washington Post" poll showed nearly six in 10 Americans said his presidency would advance cross-racial ties. But by January 2010, only about four in 10 believe that.
WILLIAM JELANI COBB, AUTHOR, "THE SUBSTANCE OF HOPE": Any time that we've seen racial progress in the United States, we've also seen racial backlash.
COSTELLO: William Jelani Cobb who wrote "The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress," says even President Obama doesn't believe his election will bring about racial harmony. He said so himself.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidate, particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
COSTELLO: The president said that in a major speech about race in America in March of 2008. The only other time he broached the race issue in a substantive way was in July of 2009 during the now- infamous, and some say disastrous, beer summit. Observers say don't expect the president to play peacemaker this time around.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The Tea Party is the number one enemy of the Obama administration, and the NAACP is very strong behind President Obama but you will not see our president trying to somehow use this moment that's going on right now in a healing way. He's going to ignore it and stay above the fray.
COSTELLO: It brings us back to our question -- have we taken a few steps back when it comes to race relations? Cobb says we have. And as for whether the election of America's first black president will have a lasting positive influence on race relations?
COBB: We won't really know what the real significance of this is for many years to come.
COSTELLO: We want to know what you think this morning. Why can't we move past this debate? Why can't we move beyond race? Isn't it time? And also, we want you to write to our blog actually, CNN.com/amFIX.
And if you want to read the entirety of the satirical blog written by Tea Party Express spokesperson Mark Williams, it's also posted on the blog. We'd also like to hear what you think about that. CNN.com/amFIX. I'm ready to take your comments this morning.
ACOSTA: And, Carol, it's important that people read that for themselves because what we've been polling out and reading this morning has not been taken out of context. It is what he wrote. And it's pretty incendiary stuff.
Carol Costello, very important gut check for us this morning. Thank you.
CHETRY: Thanks, Carol.
ACOSTA: And stay with us. In about an hour, we'll get reaction to the war of words between the NAACP and the Tea Party movement when we talk to Hilary Shelton. He's the director of the NAACP in Washington. That's coming up. CHETRY: Meanwhile, it's 30 minutes past the hour. Time for a look at your top stories.
And for the first time in nearly three months, no oil is spewing out of that ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil giant's new containment cap is holding. And integrity tests on the well are now under way. We should know by this weekend whether it can handle all of the pressure that's now building up inside of it and whether or not the well itself was damaged underground.
ACOSTA: And even if the containment cap holds and the well is successfully killed, and all that is a big if, there's still an awful lot of work left to do. That observation coming from BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles. He told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he's heartened by these positive developments but now is not the time to start celebrating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG SUTTLES, BP CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: We don't have any leaks. We don't have any oil coming out that we know of. And it's the beginning. You know, we got another -- hopefully, we'll continue it for the next 48 hours which puts us well into Saturday afternoon.
But of course, it is good to see that there's not any new oil coming in to the gulf. But, you know, Wolf, I got to stress -- and you know, being out here on the gulf coast today, we're far from the finish line here. We've got a lot of work left to do. We're going to be here for a long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: All right. Well, so far, not much coming from the president on the progress being made in the gulf. The first family's headed to Maine today for a weekend vacation in Bar Harbor. And our Ed Henry did manage to get a brief, cautiously optimistic comment from the president yesterday. Let's listen.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Sir, are you encouraged that the oil has stopped flowing in the gulf.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a positive sign. We're still in the testing phase. I'll have more to say about it tomorrow.
CHETRY: And the president is scheduled to make a statement this morning about the oil spill before going on vacation. It will happen during the 9:00 hour, an hour and a half from now. And of course, we'll carry it live right here on CNN.
ACOSTA: Probably a good idea to be cautious right now.
ACOSTA: Even if we have seen the last drop of oil from this disaster and we hope so, plenty of damage has already been done. And that's where the White House's $20 billion man comes in. He is Kenneth Feinberg. He'll be overseeing BP's $20 billion settlement fund starting next month.
CHETRY: Yes, Feinberg visited he held a town hall meeting to explain how he intends to make a lot of people who are hurting whole again, or at least try. Amber Lyon is in New Orleans this morning. So explain for us how all this is going to work, Amber.
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kiran. As of now BP's been handling all the claims process. Kenneth Feinberg says three weeks from now he is going to be completely taking over and he's going to start digging into that $20 billion escrow account.
Feinberg made it a point yesterday when he was speaking with these shrimpers, fishermen, business owners, that that $20 billion is there. He also made it a point that he is working independently of the U.S. government and BP. He says, too, he's going to make this process easier and more efficient. In the past BP was cutting checks for a month at a time.
Feinberg says he is going to cut six-month checks worth of six months of losses. Also he's going to try to get these payments out within 24 to 48 hours of the claims being filed. Now we caught up with Feinberg in Lafitte, Louisiana. He was speaking to a standing room only group of local fishermen. This was around the same time that news broke that this cap was working. We spoke with people who say they feel confident but they can't breathe a complete sigh of relief quite yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH FEINBERG: It's fabulous, because if the oil has stopped flowing, that makes it easier for us to begin to corral the type of claims. Because we'll know better where the oil is going to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I feel like I can get back to a little normal and I don't have to roll in no sleep at night. It's a big relief off a lot of people and shrimpers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This isn't a complete stop. We don't know how long it is going to last. When they can tap into that well and totally turn it off, then we're going to light fireworks. We're going to celebrate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LYON: As you can imagine, Mr. Feinberg is a pretty popular man right now. He's literally holding a blank checkbook filled with $20 billion of BP's money that he's going to start writing those checks about three weeks from now, he says. In addition to this, he is lawyer, a mediator. This is the same guy who handled the September 11th victims defense fund, also Virginia Tech, also regulating executive pay during the financial bailouts.
Good morning. Back to you.
CHETRY: All right. Amber, thanks so much. He seems to be the go-to guy when there is a crisis.
ACOSTA: He is the go-to guy.
CHETRY: Yes, he is.
Well, an anonymous list circulates around Utah naming names, claiming more than 1,300 people are illegal immigrants. A lot of their personal information, addresses, phone numbers, even social security numbers, due dates of pregnant women.
Well, now one official says it looks like government information was used to put it together. There are many people living there legally and illegally who are scared. Privacy advocates are outraged. We're going to be talking about what's behind this? Coming up. 34 minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. An anonymous letter and list distributed to the media, as well as government offices across Utah, has privacy advocates outraged and a lot of Latinos worried about their safety. The list contains more than 1,300 names of people all accused of being illegal immigrants in the state of Utah. And a list -- what came with the list was a letter from the "concerned citizen of the United States."
ACOSTA: Also included extremely personal information about these people, addresses, social security numbers, even pregnancy due dates. And state officials are worried that government information was used to put it all together.
Let's bring in Tony Yapias. He is the director of the advocacy group, Proyecto Latino and radio host of Pulso Latino. Tony's also Utah's former director of state affairs. And Tony, we appreciate your time this morning.
I guess, first of all, I just wanted to start off with, you know, a little bit of an explanation for our viewers who may not be familiar with the story. What exactly was on this list? We talked about it a little bit but this goes into some pretty detailed stuff.
TONY YAPIAS, DIRECTOR, PROYECTO LATINO: Yes, good morning. Obviously the list has become famous now. It contains a lot of personal information and one of the case that we've been finding out over the last few days is that not everyone or entirely the people who are on the list are undocumented immigrants. Many of them have spouses or relatives that are U.S. citizens. And so this has really created an outrage in our community.
CHETRY: Right. As I understand it, more than 1,000 phone calls from Hispanics to you guys in Utah really in a panic over this. There was some anecdotal reports of people calling the homes, children answering and somebody on the other end of the line saying, "I know you're illegal and you know, we're going to come after you." What has been the response from the Latino community?
YAPIAS: Well, they've been pretty scared. I mean they have been terrorized by this act and we took calls until about 11:00 last night and we will continue to take calls today. The community's very afraid. Many of them were asking us "should I leave?, should I move?" You know, there was one lady who was about eight months pregnant. She says I'm having contractions now. This has been a pretty traumatizing event for our community here in Utah.
ACOSTA: And one reason why, the names of pregnant people would be listed there is because this is obviously an issue with critics of the illegal immigration who worry about what they call anchor babies, babies that are born in the United States of illegal immigrants.
But you also host a radio show, Tony, and you say you got a suspicious phone call from a listener just recently. We want to play a clip of that. Because you described it as fairly disturbing. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They change their names. They get food stamps. They get medical. They work. They sell drugs some of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Tony, what do you think is going on there?
YAPIAS: Well, that was a call from -- she describe herself as a state employee. Obviously someone who knows, who has a lot of information. One of the things that we as citizens do is we trust our government to protect our information. So for -- this debate over immigration needs to be dealt with at a political level, at the legislature, at the capital, in Congress. But not when you have individual workers, state government workers, trying to deal with this issue. So that's where this has crossed the line, we believe.
CHETRY: So you're saying you think there may have been a connection between this caller and the publication of the list.
YAPIAS: Well, it was coincidental. Obviously that's being investigated right now. I want to say this. I want to commend the governor for taking immediate action when this came about. I mean he didn't -- I don't think he thought about it twice. I called him in the morning. Within a few hours he had ordered an investigation. And in just a matter of two days we have basically zeroed in where the information came from.
CHETRY: I just want to read this statement from the Department of Workforce Services. They responded saying, "DWS officials have confirmed that their database has all the information needed to compile such a list. Close to 1,200 people have access to that info on a day to day basis. The department is now conducting an internal investigation." So when you're talking about the investigation, what do you think will happen? What do you hope happens?
YAPIAS: Well, those responsible I think should be brought to justice and the governor's office indicated that yesterday. You know, they'll be submitting a preliminary report or a report to the attorney general by Monday. So less than a week, we already -- seemed like we're getting to a closure on this issue. And then we'll let the attorney general determine whether or not there are criminal charges that will follow with that.
ACOSTA: And it's your view that there could be some criminal charges here, perhaps some charges relating to theft of state property, release of state property, that sort of thing.
YAPIAS: Yes, I mean, that's precisely what it is. That's what's outraged the entire community. I mean, this is information that could be about you and I. About us as citizens of this country. I mean, that's where the main concern is. You know, yes, the immigration side is -- we can put it aside, but a lot of families, or every single one of those 1,300 members listed have citizen members of their family as part of -- that are listed on that.
CHETRY: Right. And that just shows you how complicated this debate is as well. Because there are legal citizens mixed in with illegal citizens and the issue of course is sparking a lot of controversy.
ACOSTA: How do you know? Whose name is on the list, if that's right?
CHETRY: But the other question is, you've also been getting actually hate mail, death threats for defending illegal immigrants as well.
YAPIAS: Well, you know, people are obviously passionate and emotional about this issue. And, boy, the calls don't stop coming. We just -- we reported to our police department yesterday here, so they're taking action on that.
ACOSTA: Well, Tony Yapias, we appreciate your time for us this morning. Tony Yapias is the director of Proyecto Latino. We should mention he's also the host of Pulso Latino on 1550 AM in Salt Lake City, Utah. We got the plug in there for you.
Tony, thanks so much for your time, in bringing that information to light. We appreciate it.
CHETRY: Maybe he doesn't want any more calls after this controversy.
ACOSTA: His show is more popular than ever, I would imagine.
CHETRY: Tony, thanks. Good luck with that. Keep us posted.
YAPIAS: Thank you.
Good morning. Thank you. ACOSTA: Well, this morning's top stories just minutes away, including the oil spill in the gulf not spilling right now. Is the stain it left on the president though permanent? CNN's Ed Henry and Candy Crowley weigh in.
CHETRY: Also, hundreds of pets abandoned at overcrowded shelters because the cost of caring for them overwhelmed oil spill victims who have fallen on hard times. But viewers saw this story and really answered the call. We'll have more on -- we'll have a wonderful update for you on what's been going on at this shelter.
ACOSTA: And straight ahead, why Dr. Sanjay Gupta is preparing to jump into the Hudson River this weekend. We promise, it's for a good cause. It's 44 minutes after the hour.
ACOSTA: Hello, New York City. New York City is mostly cloudy right now, 76 degrees. A little gloomy out there this morning, but we think it's going to get better, a high of 93 later today.
And, by the way, our weather forecast for Sunday in the Big Apple, a high of 94, with 100 percent chance of a medical correspondent going into the Hudson River.
CHETRY: Exactly. That's why were showing you the shot right there of the Hudson, and you saw the -- one of the sailboats just blowing around.
CHETRY: It's a little bit breezy out there on the water today. Well, it is time for a very special "A.M. House Call" this morning. Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is getting ready to jump into the Hudson River for the New York City triathlon. This is the culmination of a year or more of preparation and it's happening this Sunday.
ACOSTA: You know, he just doesn't do this every day, folks. It's the moment Sanjay and six AMERICAN MORNING viewers have been training months for, and this morning the gang's all here. They're with Sanjay live, starting right now at the starting line. Take it away, Sanjay.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We'll take the cloudiness, we'll take the gloominess. It feels nice and cool out here. If we can keep that up for Sunday, we'll be very happy.
You're absolutely right, this is the -- this is the start of the race. We've going to -- we've convinced six viewers from around the country to join us to jump in to the Hudson River and swim right down here and then bike and run after that.
You know, it's interesting, six months ago is when we started this whole process for most of us. It was actually the day of that Haiti earthquake is when this happened, and 12 hours later I was in Haiti. But we've been training for some time now.
We're joined now -- the first three participants, Dean, Meredith and Rickey. And, first of all, the swim is about a mile down this way, and they say the current is supposed to go the other way. But as far as I can tell right now, it's just heading out that way. So I'm not sure how much that's going to help us.
Tell us about your last six months and what you've learned.
DEAN HANAN, FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: Well, you know, I've learned that -- I've gotten a lot of confidence in myself. You know, I didn't really think that I could achieve certain things that I did, specifically on the bike, distances that I've covered. You know, I'm kind of proud of myself and I think it's just the beginning of a lot more to come.
GUPTA: What -- why did you decide to do this?
HANAN: Well, you know, I'm married. We're coming up on two years now, and me and my wife want to have a baby this year, you know, start trying for it. So I just want to provide a really good example for my family, my kids, just like my dad did.
GUPTA: Off the cigarettes?
HANAN: Yes. I'm -- I'm away from those, so feeling good.
GUPTA: All right. Mission accomplished, (INAUDIBLE)?
HANAN: Yes. Yes.
GUPTA: Meredith, thanks again. I mean, I know this is -- have been a tough six months. Everyone's got busy schedules and no one -- no one is excluded from that. How -- how have you done over the last six months?
MEREDITH CLARK, FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: I've done well. The triathlon has really helped me to appreciate balance and just making time for exercise, fitting it in before work or after work.
GUPTA: You wanted to talk about being a role model, specifically for young African-American women.
GUPTA: Well, what kind of -- what kind of -- have you gotten feedback of people who've watched you on television and seen your progress?
CLARK: Absolutely. I've gotten great feedback from my friends and family and complete strangers who have looked me up on Facebook or just on the internet, finding out about what I'm doing and realizing that real people can do something like this.
GUPTA: You know, after the swim, it's about -- what? Twenty- five miles in a bike. How do you feel about that? CLARK: I am not so confident about the bike. My goal is to stay on the bike and just to finish that portion of the race, just to get to the finish line. That's all I'm looking for.
GUPTA: All right. I'll be right there in the water with you, to start off.
But, Rickey, thanks again. How have the last six months been for you?
RICKEY WILLIAMS, FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: Oh, they've been amazing. So -- I mean, I had so many ups and down, challenges, victories. But I think if there's one thing that -- that I've picked up this -- during the six months, it's that, you know, in -- in my past, I've always been a really strong starter, and a lot of excitement, a lot of motivation. And then I would kind of fizzle out in the middle and really never finish.
And so I've learned about consistency, repetition, how important those things are every day. Making my meals every week, get the training in, and that little bet has led me to where we are today. So, that's been a big learning, you know, lesson for me for sure.
GUPTA: And you've also been a role model for -- for a lot of youth in your own family and the people that you teach as well. So, I know they're going to be watching you as well.
And let me tell you, Jim and Kiran, it's not too late. We could have you guys come out and join us Sunday morning as well, jump right into that water with us. We're calling you out right here. We'll ask you that question after the break. Stay with us.
GUPTA: And we are back with AMERICAN MORNING.
It's an Olympic-distance triathlon. We've convinced these people to do it with us. It's about a mile swim, 25-mile bike and then a 10k or a six-mile run.
Stanley, how have the last six months gone for you?
STANLEY SABALLET, FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: It's been very interesting. I learned a lot. I think I've gotten stronger. I believe that I've learned really to take one day at a time.
GUPTA: You -- you look great. I mean, have you -- have you lost weight? Have you changed your body?
SABALLET: Yes. I lost about 15 pounds. I do want to lose more, but I also gained a lot of muscle. I've been working out a lot more, too, so --
GUPTA: Right. So you're saying I couldn't push you in right now if I wanted to?
SABALLET: You're coming with me.
GUPTA: Angie -- Angie, thanks again. How -- how's it -- how's it been going for you?
ANGIE BROUHARD, FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: It's been good. I've just been amazed at -- at what I can accomplish, you know, when you set your mind to it.
GUPTA: You know, this is a big -- it's a big thing to add to your life. You're already pretty busy. You're dealing with a lot. Why -- why do this? And why should other people do this as well?
BROUHARD: Well, I think -- I feel so much better about myself, physically, spiritually, emotionally. I just feel like if you're, you know, keeping yourself fit, your -- your whole life just falls into order.
GUPTA: And -- and what's been the hardest part of the training?
BROUHARD: Working it in. The time. It's been real hot and humid in Ohio the last month, and so -- I've had good training weather, because I think it's going to be humid here, too, but --
GUPTA: And Sunday's your anniversary, if I remember correctly --
GUPTA: -- so your husband's going to be there as well. That will be fun.
Linda, I know you've worked hard. You -- you've talked about it. And you had some significant physical challenges you wanted to overcome as part of this, so tell us about it.
LINDA FISHER-LEWIS, FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: Well, I think just overcoming injuries and the fear of those injuries coming back --
GUPTA: You were in a car accident?
FISHER-LEWIS: Yes. In my back and hip and that. So, it's been amazing.
Everybody around me, it's been amazing that I haven't had issues with those injuries and, you know, I'm stronger every day. And so it's been good about my confidence and, you know, I just feel like, wow, you know, I can actually do this. So I'm pretty excited.
GUPTA: You were watching on television when we started talking about this and decided you want to -- to join, and you sent in your story and we read it and decided that you'd be perfect for the team.
But what -- what was the -- what was the step that made you really do this? Because a lot of people probably watch segments like that and say, you know, a triathlon would be great one day, but not for me right now. FISHER-LEWIS: Well, you know, I -- I'd like to go back into law enforcement. You know, we're going to see how that goes. But I felt like if I could do the triathlon, then I could go back and do the job safely. So I -- I just felt like there is a comparison.
And so the training, I feel like I'm ready. I'm strong and I -- you know, whatever I need to do, whatever life's going to hand me next, I feel I can get there.
GUPTA: Well, and -- and as you point out as well, that Linda's one of our most competitive triathletes and is probably going to do very, very well. No surprise.
Let's just get -- let's just bring everybody in again. This is the team, guys -- Jim and Kiran. These are six viewers from around the country, literally, who -- who wrote their stories in, decided to join us and have stuck with it. And Sunday, we're all joining -- we're all jumping in that river right behind us.
And, again, you guys are welcome to join us. You can come out here, 6:40 in the morning. That's what -- that's our start time.
CHETRY: Well, we'll be rooting for you in spirit.
CHETRY: No doubt. I know can you do it.
GUPTA: You guys get to sleep in one day a week. So we'll -- we'll understand.
CHETRY: Well, good luck to you, Sanjay. Seriously. That's a huge undertaking. And good luck to all of them as well, because, you know, a huge accomplishment.
ACOSTA: You're a big inspiration.
CHETRY: It is.
ACOSTA: Absolutely. It's terrific.
GUPTA: I think everyone feels good. They -- they look great and I think -- I think they're absolutely all ready.
CHETRY: All right. Well, we can't wait to see you in action. Congrats to all, you guys. Get a good night's sleep and good luck.
ACOSTA: Go team. Be careful out there.
GUPTA: Thanks, guys.
CHETRY: Go AMERICAN MORNING. There you go.
All right. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.