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AMERICAN MORNING

Report Says U.S. Steps Up Cross Border Operation; South Korean Beef Protesters Battle Cops, Hundreds Injured; Firefighters at a Stalemate in California Wildfires; Young Evangelical Voters Changing the Face of the Religious Right; Team USA Dreams for Gold in the 2008 Olympics Games

Aired June 30, 2008 - 07:00   ET

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


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former two-term Republican Governor Bill Owen says those independents will prefer the familiar face of John McCain.
FMR. GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: I'd actually prefer to run against Barack Obama. I think he's charismatic. I think he's a very nice guy. But I think that when you bring less experience to the presidential election than Jimmy Carter had, that's going to be a challenge.

ACOSTA (on camera): The Mountain West which follows the spine of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico is proving to be fertile ground for Democrats. In 2000, there wasn't a single Democratic governor in the region. Today there are five and counting. Jim Acosta, CNN, Denver, Colorado.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It's 7:00 Eastern, and here are today's top stories. Oil at another record crossing the $143 a barrel mark just minutes ago. Our Ali Velshi tracking all the moves. He'll be with us in 10 minutes with the very latest on that.

One person hospitalized in critical condition this morning after two medical helicopters collided midair near Flagstaff, Arizona. Six people died in the accident. Both helicopters were headed to an area hospital at the time of the crash. FAA inspectors will arrive at the crash site later on this morning.

A huge protest rally in South Korea turns violent. Fifteen thousand people on the streets armed with stones and steel pipes, all over the country's decision to allow beef from the United States to be imported. South Korea banned beef from the U.S. following the discovery of a single case of mad cow disease in 2003.

Our top story today. The U.S. plan for Iran. A brand new article suggests that the Bush administration may be preparing for a possible military strike. It says the U.S. is stepping up covert operations in commando raids to dig up more intel on Iran's nuclear program.

Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is standing this morning with the very latest on all of this. Good morning, Jamie. JAMIE MCINTYRE, SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. You know, it's not exactly clear what the U.S. is doing in Iran but our sources indicate it has more to do with undermining the Iranian government than uncovering nuclear secrets.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice-over): The allegation that U.S. special ops commandos have been conducting covert operations into Iran from southern Iraq through a quick and unequivocal denial from the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad.

RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: I can tell you flatly that U.S. forces are not operating across the Iraqi border into Iran, in the south or anywhere else.

MCINTYRE: But the investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, whose "New Yorker" magazine article claims the efforts are part of a $400 million covert campaign to destabilize Iran's government, argues the operations are so super secret, Ambassador Crocker may be out of the loop.

SEYMOUR HERSH, "NEW YORKER" MAGAZINE: He may not know the extent to which we're operating deeply with commandos not so much with our special forces inside Iran. So it's possible because he's not somebody -- he'll spin it but he's not somebody he won't say something he doesn't believe.

MCINTYRE: It's not the first time Hersh has reported the U.S. has spies inside Iran, and senior Pentagon officials have hinted to CNN that CIA and other highly classified operations are conducted from time to time in the Islamic Republic, but they have never confirmed it.

In a statement, the CIA said, as a rule, it does not comment on allegations regarding covert operations. But some members of Congress were not so quick to dismiss the idea of the U.S. working secretly in Iran to stop its meddling in Iraq.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I think we should be doing whatever we can to let the Iranians know they can't continue this and not expect us to take some action against them on this basis.

MCINTYRE: Hersh says some of the U.S. forces operating in Iran may be coming from the other border, Afghanistan. And he suggests their mission is, in part, to gather intelligence about Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, possibly to lay the groundwork for a military strike.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: But Pentagon officials who won't be identified because of the highly classified nature of the effort, suggests there's a tit for tat going on. That is to say that the U.S. is trying to do to Iran what Iran is doing to -- what Iran is doing to U.S. in Iraq, namely, support the forces that oppose and, therefore, could potentially undermine the central government -- John.

ROBERTS: Jamie, any of the top commanders there at the Pentagon who you've spoken to who think that attacking Iran would be a good idea?

MCINTYRE: That is universally seen as the worst of all the options available. However, the Pentagon has clearly made a point of not taking that option off the table.

ROBERTS: All right, Jamie McIntyre this morning from the Pentagon. Jamie, thanks.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Anarchy on the streets of South Korea over a decision to resume U.S. beef imports. Police driving people back with water cannons, pounding protestors with shield. All of this after the mob attacked with rocks, sticks and pipes. Ralitsa Vassileva from our sister network, CNN International, has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A massive crowd of protestors and a major response from police. An estimated 13,000 people in central Seoul voiced concern over the government's decision to move the plan to import beef from the United States. Many of them hear that beef contaminated with mad cow disease could end up on store shelves, even though there hasn't been a documented case of the disease in the U.S. since 2006.

The public display comes as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Seoul. Hoping to talk about North Korea's nuclear program, she was hit with a barrage of questions about the beef issue.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are cooperating closely and will continue to closely cooperate on the concerns of the Korean population about beef. I want to assure everyone that American beef is safe.

VASSILEVA: U.S. beef had been banned in South Korea since 2003 when the first case of mad cow disease was discovered in the U.S. state of Washington. The ban ended after the U.S. promised to limit imports to meat from cows younger than 30 months, which is considered safer. There have been almost daily protesters April when the U.S. and South Korea agreed to resume beef imports.

Ralitsa Vassileva, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: So you may have considered changing your life at some point. Well, a man who was looking for a fresh start offered his entire life to the highest bidder on eBay, doesn't think that he quite hit his target price. Ian Usher only got $384,000 for the whole package including his house, his car, his job, and even his friends and introductions to them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) IAN USHER, AUCTIONED EVERYTHING ON EBAY: It was a great day yesterday. I guess I am a little bit disappointed about the final price. I had hoped it to be a little bit higher than that, but I am committed to selling and moving on and making a fresh start.

Well, I've set myself some goals, some things I want to achieve in life and some goals that I've had for a long time. I'm actually still hunting a new Web site, which is called 100goals100weeks.com (ph). And I'm aiming to achieve 100 things I've always wanted to do over the next couple of years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Now, Usher is a British immigrant living in Australia. Why did he want the new start? Well, he recently split from his wife. The buyer is said to have 100 percent feedback score on eBay, so he's probably guaranteed to get the 385 grand.

CHETRY: He's disappointed because he was hoping his life would have gone for half a million.

ROBERTS: What does it say to you when your life isn't worth as much as you thought it was? The worse.

CHETRY: Probably a lot of people feel that way. Oh well, good luck to him though.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." Coming up at 7:18, young evangelical voters. Changing the face of what was once known as the religious right. The shift and a message from a group that both candidates are fighting for.

ROBERTS: Plus, we've got NBA star power coming up in 20 minutes' time. Lebron James and Jason Kidd hoping to turn bronze into gold. Will they be a dream team at this year's Olympics? They're live, right here in our studio.

CHETRY: Then at 7:43, less lethal, a new wave in law enforcement giving police alternatives to handguns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newest technology here is taser.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tasers, electronic control device.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taser will stun you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will leave a mark on you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah, ah, ah!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will hurt you, but won't kill you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been shot in a low muscle mass hit. I'm going to give you a little taste right here of what it feels like, and I'm going to shut it off. This is what it feels like for about a second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Natasha Bedingfield was awfully happy this morning.

CHETRY: Does she ask what are we so afraid of? We're afraid of $150 a barrel of oil.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes.

ROBERTS: Our "oily" Velshi here this morning with more on that.

VELSHI: Why don't we just -- why don't we just play the music and forget about me for a second?

All right, but one has to end somewhere. What are we afraid of? We're afraid that oil has hit another record this morning quite substantially, actually. Oil trading above $143 just moments ago. That's more than $3 increase from where it's settled on Friday evening.

That gives us a record high gas prices as well because that's, you know, it sort of trails the price of oil. But we're now $4.08, is the national average for unleaded gasoline. And that has also caused an increase in airfares again. This is the 20th attempted airfare increase this year. And this time, quite surprisingly, it started with Southwest Airlines last week increasing return airfares $10 to $20. It was then matched by the other airlines which not to be outdone increased $20 to $40.

So we got Southwest, American, Continental, Delta, United, Northwest and U.S. Airways all increasing airfares again. This is the 20th attempt, and it's the 14th time that they have been widely adopted. So if you work on that basis and you extrapolate, we're halfway through the year, you're going to expect 40 increases this year, 28 of them which should stick.

The advice there is if you're planning trips anywhere from the Fourth of July weekend through Memorial Day or Thanksgiving or Christmas, the folks at Farecompare.com say book them now because there is pretty much zero chance the airfares are going to be any cheaper at the end of this year. And that's just one area in which it's affecting things. Obviously it's affecting markets, it's affecting how we drive, what we buy as cars. But as far as travel goes, the forecast is for higher fares.

That music is just more fun than listening to me, isn't it?

ROBERTS: Lock it in now though, right?

VELSHI: Lock it in now.

ROBERTS: Yes.

VELSHI: Fares are going up every week. We're seeing this kind of things.

ROBERTS: We'll find some other uplifting music for your next appearance.

VELSHI: Thank you very much.

CHETRY: I find an uplifting topic as well.

VELSHI: One day I'll do that, too.

CHETRY: Thanks.

Well, now to extreme weather and severe thunderstorms rolled over the New York City area. Here are some video of the aftermath. Trees pulled out of the ground. Branches crashed into some parked cars in New Jersey. Some witnesses say a violent storm did all of this in just 30 seconds and that it might have actually been a tornado.

Rob Marciano tracking all of this for us, what we can expect today. So how do they find out if it's a tornado?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: They'll send a team out there to check it out. Take a look at the damage path and see if there's any sort of rotation in that path and which way everything is laying down. And we'll have a report on that later on today.

Got a report for you here coming out of the airports around the New York City area. We have a ground stop in effect for pretty much all the major airports. As to why, I'm not sure. I'm just reading that it's some sort of equipment failure. So flying into these airports, be aware you could see delays. That's in effect until 8:00. Put a phone call to the folks and they just wouldn't give me a straight-up answer. So hopefully, they'll have the results.

You know, it's not really because of weather. That was last night in New Jersey. Now, it's pushing offshore into parts of the Cape. And then the stationary front part kind of slides down and hovers around the I-10 corridor.

We had some rough weather last night across Huntsville, Alabaman, or yesterday actually. Air show, Blue Angels supposed to fly the whole nine yards. They had a downburst with thunderstorms there, hurt 12 people. Unfortunately, it killed a 5-year-old child. So ugly scene there what was supposed to be a pretty cool event.

Also, Mississippi, we want to talk briefly about that. It crested at St. Louis last night. That's the good news there. So this beginning to taper off. Boy, that has just been a nightmare for those folks still. The water is still high, still in flood stage. But cresting now in St. Louis and the rivers will continue to go down as we go on through time.

Along the I-10 corridor where we're seeing some rainfall, record heat across parts of the west as well and thunderstorms could pop across parts of northern California where they have all those fires going. Dry lightning could, again, be a problem.

Kiran and John, back up to you.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks so much.

More on that. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." And more than a thousand fires burning in California right now. The latest conditions from the front lines coming up right after the break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually North of the Arctic to man's last stop before the North Pole to meet one of the world's leading climate change scientists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Why recent news of ice melts might actually be good news for explorers looking for the next big oil reserve. We'll take you there. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 17 minutes after the hour. The top videos right now on CNN.com, the most popular, up for adoption.

Hundreds of cats and dogs that have been abandoned. The Midwest floods are look for homes this morning. A rescue group has brought 28 of them to Washington. They hope to pick up more animals from Iowa in the days to come.

Also, Winehouse strikes. Singer Amy Winehouse, at the Glastonbury Music Festival in London, takes the stage, then climbs down into the pit and apparently takes a swing at a fan. It was unclear what sparked the altercation, but witnesses say a fan tried to grab her.

And back in the USSR, well, sort of, the piano man himself rocking Russia on his new DVD called "The Stranger," 30th anniversary edition. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." We are back in 90 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Coming up on 20 minutes after the hour. A national news headlines this Monday morning.

Firefighters say they are at a stalemate with more than a thousand wildfires burning in northern California. They say flames have burned in area bigger than Chicago and New York City combined. The Forest Service is warning that the battle could go on for months.

Tragedy at Six Flags in Georgia. Park officials say a 17-year-old boy was decapitated when he was hit by the Batman roller coaster after hopping two fences into a restricted area. The ride can hit speeds of up to 50 miles an hour. It's still not clear why he went there. Some witnesses told the park that he was trying to retrieve something he lost, perhaps his hat.

CHETRY: And a supermodel's death ruled a suicide. That's the official word from the medical examiner's office in New York City. Police say that 20-year-old Ruslana Korshunova jumped nine stories to her death from her downtown apartment on Saturday. She appeared on the covers of "Vogue" and "Elle" magazine.

Also, a puzzling sight outside of a local firehouse in Oklahoma. A fireworks stand part of the department's annual fund-raiser. A spokesperson says they've raised $10,000 in the past five years from fireworks sale and that they encourage people to use them safely.

Jesus for President? Well, a group of young evangelical voters is getting attention for its third-party candidate. The group's leader is saying that neither party can take their votes for granted in November.

CNN's Kate Bolduan joins us from Pittsburgh with more -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, you could call them the post religious right or the next evangelicals, but these young voters are anything but easy to define.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHANE CLAIBORNE, CO-AUTHOR, "JESUS FOR PRESIDENT": We found the light of the world. We found the hope of the planet, and it burns much brighter than McCain or Obama or America. Amen.

BOLDUAN: Shane Claiborne is the perfect example of what both Republicans and Democrats are fighting for. We caught up with Claiborne, a Christian activist and author on his book tour in Pittsburgh. The title says it all, "Jesus for President."

CLAIBORNE: Over and over we're hearing things like I knew there was more to Christianity than what I saw on TV, the televangelist and patriotic pastors and cover up bishops.

BOLDUAN: He represents a new movement of young evangelical voters. They care about traditional issues like abortion and gay marriage but say their agenda is far broader. Poverty, social justice and the environment are moving to the forefront.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting harder and harder to find good reason (ph).

BOLDUAN: Claiborne's tour bus even runs on veggy (ph) oil. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's cheap.

BOLDUAN: In 2004, about three quarters of evangelical voters supported George Bush, a solid voting bloc, political analysts say may not be such a lot this year because of these young evangelicals.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The impact is lots of the people think will dilute the evangelical support for the Republican Party and the evangelical vote will be more up for grabs than it has in many years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very undecided. I feel very totally different issues were identified more with the Republicans and others who identify more with Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up in a very Republican family, but my growth and my faith has kind of moved me in a different direction.

BOLDUAN: Back on tour, Shane Claiborne says it's more about how you live your life November 3rd and 5th than how you vote on November 4th Election Day.

CLAIBORNE: What a lot of us are doing is trying to learn from the mistakes of the generation that has come before us. This is not about going left to right but going deeper.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Claiborne says people ask him not only for spiritual guidance but also political advice, who they should vote for. But he's adamant. He's not endorsing any candidate -- John.

ROBERTS: Kate Bolduan with that story for us from Pittsburgh this morning. Thanks, Kate.

And here's a closer look at the evangelical vote in an "AM EXTRA."

According to exit polls from 2004, the people who said they were evangelical or born again, 78 percent voted for President Bush, 21 percent for John Kerry.

In 2000, the question was worded a little bit differently. Voters were asked if they considered themselves to be part of the religious right. Of those who said yes, 80 percent voted for Bush, 18 percent for Al Gore.

CHETRY: And you're watching the "Most News in the Morning." They're going for gold this year in Beijing. We're talking to NBA superstars Lebron James and Jason Kidd. They're walking into the studio right now.

It's the dream team. America's shot at the gold. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Well, it's still 39 days until Beijing Summer Games but new world records are already being set. In fact, in its first event at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska, Michael Phelps finished the 400-meter individual medley in four minutes five and quarter second. It's almost a second better than his own previous record time.

And not to be outdone, the swimmer Phelps called the little sister he never had. Katie Hoff set a new woman's record in the same event showing none of the nervousness that plagued her four years ago at the Athens game. Hoff finished in just four minutes 31.12 seconds.

Back on dry land, world champion Tyson Gay ran the 100 meters faster than anyone in history taking only 9.68 seconds to reach the finish line. The windy conditions though in Eugene, Oregon, kept him from setting a new world record.

And one group of Olympians also busy preparing for the games, the U.S. men's basketball team. The original gold medal-winning Dream Team from 1992 included living legends like Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and, of course, Michael Jordan.

Team USA also brought home the gold at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. One player who was on that team eight years ago, NBA veteran Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks. And he joins us along with a man they call King James, fellow Olympian Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Thanks to both of you for being with us. And we should say we really owe them a thanks. You guys were on a flight that was delayed five hour from Las Vegas. No sleep, and you made it with us anyway. Thanks for being here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having us.

CHETRY: Let me first ask, Jason. What was it like, Jason, to be on that winning team back in 2000 in Sydney?

JASON KIDD, 2008 OLYMPIC MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM: Well, I think any time you represent your country, it's a thrill and it's an honor. And to win the gold medal, to hear the "national anthem," it just gives you goose bumps. And hopefully this year, my teammates, you know, can experience that international anthem and get that gold medal.

CHETRY: There was a bit of disappointment, Lebron, of course, in 2000 when you guys had the bronze. What went wrong in 2004 and what are you guys looking to change this year?

LEBRON JAMES, 2008 OLYMPIC MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM: Well, I think as a team we didn't understand the meaning of being an Olympian. You know, there's a lot that goes with, you know, putting that red, white and blue on, having the USA stripes across your chest. I don't think as a collective unit, we didn't understand that.

This team is much different. Just adding a guy like Jason Kidd, his experience and people (ph) games and Olympic games, international basketball, is unparallel. I mean, he hasn't lost a game period. So he automatically changed the culture of our team once he was named to the team. So we're looking forward to it and we're excited. If we could play right now, we would get out there right now.

CHETRY: Hey, you guys are training together at mini camp. What are some of the other ways that it's different to prepare for the Olympics versus just playing in the NBA?

KIDD: Well, I think the challenge of being picked to win the gold medal, everybody is, you know, looking for you to fail. So to be able to handle that challenge, to show the world that we can play a game at a high level together as a team and have fun doing it. And we're looking forward to that challenge.

CHETRY: How big of a factor is fan support and people getting excited about the 2008 games?

JAMES: I think it's going to be really exciting for all fans, not just in America. I think when we get to Beijing or wherever we're at, we're going to showcase our talent and the fans are going to accept us with open arms because we play the game of basketball the right way. So fans are definitely what keeps us going. We're going to try our best to go out there and showcase that we're the best players to ever play the game.

CHETRY: Is it nerve wracking? Do you get more nervous playing for the Olympics than you do just playing, let's say, an NBA championship game?

KIDD: Well, I think this is the biggest stage. You know, this is the world. You know, they're all watching. And you know, the opening ceremonies when you walk in with your country, with the other athletes participating, it's a thrill. It's a dream come true. And you know, it can be nervous. Once that first game you get under your belt, then you just do what you do best and that's just play the game of basketball.

CHETRY: We also -- we all heard from one of the blogs, it's really funny. One of your players said, Dwyane Wade, did a sort of firsthand account of how it's going right now. This is what he says about you.

He said "Lebron is by far the craziest guy on this team, with him it doesn't matter, he'll say anything. And we keep J. Kidd and Kobe Young because we keep him laughing." You guys are having fun together.

LEBRON JAMES, 2008 OLYMPIC MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM: Of course. We're going to be together for a long time. So, with all our families and things like that, we've become like a family. We've become brothers. So, anything goes.

CHETRY: We're going to be cheering you guys on. And I have a feeling this year you're taking home the gold. So congratulations for getting on the team and have a blast in Beijing. Thanks for being with us today. Lebron James as well as Jason Kidd. John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: Guys, no repeat by Argentina this year. Please. All right. Thanks.

Just crossing the half hour. Here's today's top stories. Federal investigator on their way to the scene of a deadly helicopter crash in Arizona. Six people were killed, another critically hurt when two medical helicopters collided in midair and crashed near Flagstaff Medical Center. At least one helicopter was approaching the hospital at the time.

A huge protest rally in South Korea turns violent. 15,000 people in the streets armed with stones and steel pipes. It's all over the country's decision to allow beef from the United States to be imported. South Korea banned beef from the U.S. following the discovery of a single case of mad cow disease that was back in 2003.

Police in Orlando, Florida, investigating the spray painting of dozens of city vehicles. Some of them with racial epitaphs about presidential hopeful Barack Obama. One of the vans was painted, "Obama smokes crack." The vandals also apparently left business cards that disparaged both Obama and republican John McCain. The cards voiced support for Hillary Clinton. In all about $10,000 in damage was done.

With oil prices topping records, CNN is heading to the top of the world for some answers. Our Becky Anderson is visiting the Arctic Circle to look at a vital but volatile issue. The melting Arctic ice cap promises access to vast reserves of untapped oil that many people say the environmental price could be too high.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A vast ocean of ice, unforgiving and unforgettable. And today, very much under threat. I flew north of the Arctic to man's last stop before the North Pole, to meet one of the world's leading climate change scientists.

JAN-GUNNAR WINTHER, DIRECTOR, NORWEGIAN POLAR INSTITUTE: What we see here is open water. It's a prime example of climate change because this was always frozen in the winter. Last three winters, it's not been any sea ice here.

ANDERSON: If the Arctic is the barometer which measures the earth's health, these symptoms point to a very sick planet. Ironically the great melt is likely to yield a wealth of untapped resources.

ANDERSON (on-camera): Well, for decades they have been plundering the Arctic but it's a race for oil and gas resources that is now causing concern. The current center of activity in this great Arctic gold rush is the Bering Sea off the coast of Russia where experts say there could be as much equivalent of half a trillion barrels of oil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people talk about a quarter of oil and gas to be discovered in the world in the coming decades. It might be found in the Arctic basin.

ANDERSON: Drilling for black gold can be a dirty business so it's no surprise the Norwegian government is monitoring the situation closely. JENS STOLTENBERG, NORWEGIAN PRIME MINISTER: All countries would like to try for oil and gas in this area should respect the international law. Second, they should obey to the most strict environmental guidelines restrictions.

ANDERSON: It's the potential for environmental catastrophe that's concentrating minds.

STOLTENBERG: There will never be 100 percent guarantee. But the history of more than 30 years of oil and gas activities in the North Sea, in the Norwegian Sea and also now for actually almost 30 years in the Bering Sea, as long as we obey to very strict environmental and safety standards, we can do it with very, very few accidents and very little spillage.

ANDERSON: At the moment, it's the lack of people and industry that make this environment so striking. But, with oil prices rising so rapidly, the race for new reserves is on. And, is far more likely when the search begins in earnest, this vast beauty could become very cold, dim and distant memory. Becky Anderson, CNN, the Arctic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: So much oil is there? One U.S. oil company has estimated there could be 400 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic. At current levels that could be about 50 years worth for the United States.

CHETRY: Not bad.

Well, you're watching the most news in the morning. And still to come how police officers are trying to protect you and themselves without using a gun. We'll take you to a conference for less lethal but still quite painful weapon.

And we have Ali Velshi joining us now with bad news for General Motors. Hi, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. GM has been having a tough time of it, more so than the other automakers. I want to tell you how bad it's become for GM. That share, that stock hitting almost half a century low. I'll have that for you in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Usher's "My boo" they may not exactly be one another's boo but it turns out that the tunes on John McCain's "Straight Talk Express" may have a thumping baseline. The presumptive republican nominee says his daughter Megan turned him on to R&B sensation Usher who recently appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and Usher was the musical guest but he also says he still likes the Beachboys and particularly that song "Bum ba ba maron."

CHETRY: "Barbara Ann." There's enough room in your iPod for the Beachboys. Right.

VELSHI: Right. That's the beauty of it. You can have anything you want on your iPod.

So, you can be my boo for a few minutes.

ROBERTS: You can be my boo any time.

VELSHI: All right.

ROBERTS: Can we explain to people what a boo is?

VELSHI: Go ahead.

ROBERTS: It's a New Orleans term of endearment.

VELSHI: I'll be your boo. All right. We got some news.

ROBERTS: With the news that you're about to impart, you isn't nobody's boo.

VELSHI: Sorry. That's what you should call me. Ali Velshi, isn't nobody's boo. All right. I'm not GM's boo this morning because General Motors has been really, really taking a beating particularly in its stock price. Why is this important? Well, it's important for a lot of reasons. Mainly because some of you may hold the stock in your portfolios, particularly if you follow everybody's advice to be very diversified, also because it's the world's largest automaker and, by the way, for many years was the largest publicly traded company in the world. Not so much anymore. The stock now, the lowest it's been in 33 years, as of Friday the market value of General Motors was $6.5 billion. That's the market capitalization. If you bought up all the shares, if you were in the market to buy an auto company that's how much you could pick up General Motors for.

Well, you might think, you know what, that's expensive for the biggest auto company in the world. If I wanted to buy another automaker maybe I can get a better deal. Not so. Take a look. I just thought I'd compare what the automakers are worth in the world. You will notice I have done this in order of size and General Motors will be at the bottom of the page. Toyota, worth $163 billion if you wanted to buy it. Honda, $63 billion. Nissan, $37 billion. Ford coming in at 11 billion and General Motors, $6.5 billion. So, in other words, Toyota is 25 times as big as General Motors. General Motors still makes more cars, but it's not worth as much. If you added up all the stock, if wanted to buy it it's not worth as much because people don't see the value in it.

ROBERTS: It's worth less than Facebook.

VELSHI: Yes. That's quite likely. I mean these auto companies - and this gives you, I just want to give you a picture of how dire things are for these auto companies. It's not just that we hear every month that sales are down and the trucks are - nobody's buying the SUVs and trucks they're building. There area a lot of people who see a great deal of value in these companies as an investment for the future. This is the picture of American industry. So, I think it's something to think about.

CHETRY: Wow, you're living up to your moniker by being the hairless prophet of doom.

VELSHI: Yes. Again, there could be opportunity in this.

ROBERTS: You do need to be somebody's boo.

VELSHI: I do.

ROBERTS: Bad news.

VELSHI: Clearly I'm lacking. I just need a hug.

ROBERTS: Thanks.

VELSHI: Thank you. I am feeling the love already.

CHETRY: You're watching the most news in the morning.

Can people in Paris pick the next American president and which way do Americans living abroad lean?

ROBERTS: And Rob Marciano watching the extreme weather for us this morning. Pretty hairy ride yesterday, Rob. What's in store for today?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We had some rough weather yesterday. Most of that moving east and nastiness in China. I'm going to show you some bad video coming up, Hong Kong. AMERICAN MORNING will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Let's check in with Rob Marciano. Right now, he's tracking extreme weather for us all over the place. How are we looking at some rough weather yesterday in parts of the east coast. How about today?

MARCIANO: Yes. Northeast had some rough weather. Southeast had some rough weather. That for the most part is moving a little bit offshore. So, it should be a little bit more tranquil down the i-95 corridor but further down to the south we do have some issues. We have issues as far as travel goes today. Atlanta now in the mix. Ground stop until 8:30 here. That's because of weather. But New York, La Guardia, JFK and Newark, Teterborough as well shut down or ground stop there's until 8:00 because of equipment failure. So be aware of that traveling in and especially out of those - or in those areas.

Washington, 104, 102, these are the east side of the Cascades. Still, that's nothing to sneeze out there. That's some record-breaking heat. Check out some of those videos coming out of China. Hong Kong has received 49 inches of rainfall in the month of June. That's the most they've ever had in 125 years. Only six days this month without rainfall. So they are certainly suffering landslides abound there. They had a nasty tropical storm come through a few days ago. About a week ago, I should say. And that certainly got things rolling. And they are suffering because of way too much water. We could use water here in the states, on the West Coast. 107b today in Vegas, 111 in Phoenix, not a whole lot of rain expected for California battling 1,000 wildfires there. It will be kind of toasty in Salt Lake. Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right. Rob, thanks.

ROBERTS: As part of the series produced by CNN's talented photo journalists, CNN is bringing you perspectives on guns in America. Millions of police officers across the country carry a weapon, and almost to a person they dread the day that they ever have to pull the trigger. But more and more both law enforcement and individuals are turning to new less lethal options.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michigan, pull pin and bomb.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in Moundsville, West Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Team ready, move!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the 12th annual mock prison riot. The old state penitentiary has a history of having the bloodiest riot of any prison in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, get down!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of ironic that we have the capability to bring less lethal in.

CINDY BARON, MOCK RIOT ORGANIZER: Less lethal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... is a great thing to be able to assist and prevent crime.

BARON: Less lethal technology is the only way to go in law enforcement and correctional community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We use batons, use bean bag guns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These can be fired either out of .12-gauge or a 37-mm launcher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pepper ball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newest technology this year is taser.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taser is an electronic control device.

BARON: Taser will stun you -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah! BARON: -- will leave a mark on you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah!

BARON: -- will hurt you but won't kill you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been shot in the low muscle mass hit. I'm going to give you a little taste right here of what it feels like and I'm going to shut it off. This is what it feels like for about a second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not a pleasurable experience. Compliance is what we're after with electronic control devices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's during that five seconds you're totally incapacitated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we're trying to get at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less lethal products. This would be a less than lethal round, not the real one, of course. It would be more industrial. More for a correctional facility and area denial system, being able to be used on the border to prevent border crossings.

BARON: It's good for law enforcement because it saves lives. That's the bottom line. We want less lethal. We want to be able to put these people in a court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a police officer, my life is just as valuable to me as the criminal's life is. I do not want to take a life if I don't have to. If I make it to my career and never take a life, I will be happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was good. That was fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Fascinating look at the issue. This is a part of a special series shot and produced by CNN photo journalists on different perspectives of guns in America. Some for, some against. For more views and to watch our entire special series in America's relationship with guns, check out our website at cnn.com/am. Just click on the link "in focus, guns in America."

CHETRY: Fascinating story. We're about to bring you a woman conceives a cancer-free baby. Doctors they say designed it that way. How common is this and what else can doctors screen for? We're going to look at the medical and ethical questions when AMERICAN MORNING comes back.

Also, Hispanics growing faster than any other demographic group in the country and both presidential candidates know how important the Latino vote will be. How they differ on immigration and how that could affect the outcome of the election, ahead with the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Doctors say they were able to guarantee that a baby will not inherit breast cancer even though it runs in the family. Critics say that the breakthrough could lean to designer babies. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here to explain. So this is after a British newspaper reporting that this 27-year-old British mother decided to have those embryo's screened because of the history of breast cancer in her family.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kiran. What they do is this procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, is that they create a number of embryos in a fertility clinic and they only implant the ones that do not carry the gene. This is really fascinating technology. It's been going on quite a while. It doesn't mean this baby won't get breast cancer. It just means that the baby won't get this particular inherited kind of breast cancer. And doctors have been doing this for families who have Huntington's disease in their family, who have cystic fibrosis, a whole host of diseases. Kiran.

CHETRY: So, is this a slippery slope, if you can create a baby that's healthier, can you also screen for things, let's say, that you just want to have in your child that aren't necessarily having to do specifically with health?

COHEN: Right. You might think maybe if a couple wants a blond- haired, blue-eyed genius baby, could they screen for that? You know, you can't screen for those things. It's not even possible. Our ethicists concern, let's say one day you could screen and not have a baby that will ADD later, that you take out the ADD gene. Do you really want to be using technology for that? These are all good questions. Right now, it's not even technologically possible but one day if it were to be technologically possible, lots of ethical issues.

CHETRY: All right. Very interesting stuff. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): Shedding blood for our country. Coming home to live on its streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my veterans live down here, this park bench, right across from the White House.

ROBERTS: Preparing for a new generation of homeless vets.

Plus, overseas and up in arms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've only been gone from the United States for 2 1/2 years. And it feels like the United States is unraveling.

ROBERTS: Alina Cho talks to Americans who are watching the 2008 election from a distance. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: This year's presidential election could come down to a few votes, and they may come from overseas. AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho checked in with some expatriates living in Paris.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, the overseas Americans we spoke to say they've never been more compelled to get involved in politics. They say they were disenfranchised in the disputed 2000 election. But this year they say the stakes are higher and they want to make sure this time their vote counts.

CHO (voice-over): The ()are Americans living in Paris. Living abroad they're known as ex-pats and they're as comfortable here as they are uncomfortable about what's happening at home.

FEMALE: Makes me sad, quite frankly. We've only been gone from the United States for 2 1/2 years, and it feels like the United States is unraveling in many respects.

CHO: The war in Iraq, the faltering economy, her children's future, all the reasons why this self-described nonpolitical mom is getting involved in this year's presidential election.

FEMALE: You don't get to complain about something unless you're doing something to fix it. And as a parent now, I really appreciate that sentiment.

CHO: Enter mommas for Obama, the new Paris chapter. An organized show of support for the democratic candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's interesting living from afar, because you can see how America is perceived and it's - I don't think it's how Americans who are living in the States think they're perceived.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can be an American even if you don't live in America.

CHO: Ex-pats are a critical voting bloc. Six million people, including military personnel. And they're voting with their pocketbooks, too. So far, overseas fund-raising has raked in more than a million dollars for Obama and more than $200,000 for John McCain. Ex-pats even send delegates to the national conventions. Experts say they've typically voted republican. But an unpopular war and sitting president have turned the tide. This year, there are indications overseas Americans may be voting democratic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have active chapters in over 70 countries. We have doubled our membership since January.

CHO: These mommas for Obama are trying to teach their kids a little about the political process. Some get it -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want somebody to be president, then you got to vote.

CHO: Others not yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm voting for Obama because he's against the war.

CHO: And the youngest still don't care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has a super fast jet.

CHO: Leslie (Grocky) cares deeply, even from 3,500 miles away.

LESLIE (GROCKY), EXPAT: We will return to the United States sometime, and I'll have a greater stake in the system there. I have two small children. It strikes me that this is very important election.

CHO: Both campaigns say they're well aware of the power of the ex-pat vote. For its part, the group republicans abroad has more than 50 chapters around the world and this summer, they're planning events in both Mexico and Canada. A spokesman for Senator Obama says it's possible the democratic candidate could go overseas himself, though nothing else is on the schedule.

John and Kiran.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Alina Cho this morning.

Just coming up on three minutes to the top of the hour. We're following breaking news right now. In early morning trading the price of oil crossed $143 a barrel. That makes for a new record. Meanwhile, AAA reports the national record for a gallon of regular unleaded hits $4.09. That's up 12 cents a gallon from a month ago.

"The New York Times" reported today that disputes between the White House and CIA are holding up efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden and top Al Qaeda officials. The article says a group of special forces are waiting to search areas of Pakistan where Bin Laden is thought to be hiding but because of policy disagreements they're still waiting to move in.

And new video just in from Iran. They're digging through the debris right now after a building collapsed in the capital of Tehran. State media reports that 19 people were killed.

CHETRY: This morning Senator John McCain's campaign is calling on Barack Obama to condemn these remarks made by his supporter Retired General Wesley Clark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RET. GEN. WESLEY CLARK, OBAMA SUPPORTER: That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And joining us now on the phone is Senator McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis, live from Arlington, Virginia. Rick, thanks for talking with us this morning.

VOICE OF RICK DAVIS, MCCAIN'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

CHETRY: Well, what do you make of General Clark's comments?

DAVIS: Well, you know, I think it's kind of sad. I think all the promise that Barack Obama made about trying to change the political dynamic and run a different kind of campaign is evidenced by the fact that he's completely changed his political strikes and become sort a partisan hack. You know, sending Wesley Clark out as a surrogate for your campaign and attacking John McCain and his war record and his military experience and his service is, I think, just the lowest form of politics.

CHETRY: Sorry, Rick. Are you still with us?

DAVIS: Yes. I'm sorry. Could you not hear me?

CHETRY: No, I heard everything except the very end there. Sorry about that. What about the experience though, putting aside the way that Wesley Clark said it? What about his experience both in the military as well as in the halls of the Senate qualifies John McCain specifically to take over this executive role, the largest executive role in the land?

DAVIS: Well, first of all, John has served his country his entire adult life. And what he's looking at in this run for president is another opportunity to serve his country and put his own interest behind his country's interest. I mean the moment he entered the military academy, naval academy, as a teenager, he's been in the service of his country. And not only did he get a fantastic education at the Naval Academy that prepared him to serve in the military, but his service was distinguished and laudatory. And afterwards, what did he do when he came back, he went to the Naval War College upon returning from his captivity and he learned even more about the importance and the role of the military not only around the world but domestically. And I think over that period of time, he got himself elected to Congress, another form of service. And what did he do? He served almost as an entire distinguished career in Congress on the Armed Services Committee, a committee where he has not only distinguished himself on his knowledge and intellect on foreign policy and national security issues but he traveled almost the entire world over many times.

CHETRY: And Rick, let me ask you about that -

DAVIS: in order to speak out to people.

CHETRY: You're talking about foreign policy. There's a new report, an explosive report in "The New Yorker" by Seymour Hersh out, saying "the Bush administration launched covert operations into Iran to spy on their nuclear activities and also to undermine their government."