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AMERICAN MORNING

FDA Lifts Salmonella Warning on Tomatoes; CNN Reporter Added to Terror Watch List Sparks a House Hearing; Texas Ready to Spend on Wind Power; Is it Ever OK to Use the "N" Word?; Obama Prepares for His International Trip

Aired July 18, 2008 - 07:00   ET

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


BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there hasn't been a lot of attention paid to this until the last several months when the House Committee on government operations had a number of hearings and has called people in. They're trying to get to the bottom of it. But what really is going to have to happen as you say is for these contractors to be held accountable for money to be put against this problem, and to have these housing conditions in Iraq fixed and brought up to standard -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Barbara Starr with that for us from the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, as always, thanks.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And new concerns this morning about a new way that terrorists could slip into America. Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff says they could be securing legitimate European passports and using them to sneak into the country. He also says there's no guarantee officials can catch them every time. There's no word on a specific threat or an imminent attack. But with the two political conventions coming up, experts say the threat is real.

Many years late and about $20 billion over budget. You know how it can go. Massachusetts taxpayers paying for the big dig until 2038 with the final price tag of $22 billion. When the underground highway project started back in the 1980s, the estimated cost was $2.6 billion. The "Boston Globe" reporting the state isn't spending enough on road and bridge repairs because of all the money they spent on that project.

And that's my ID. The call girl at the center of the scandal that brought New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is in trouble again. There's a woman who's claiming that Ashley Dupree used her driver's license to scam her way into a "Girls Gone Wild" video. Dupree had no comment.

And how fattening is your breakfast? Well, it may depend on where you live. There's a new survey showing that the fattest people in the U.S. live in the South where more than 30 percent of adults are considered obese. Mississippi topping the list of most obese people. Colorado, once again, coming in with the leanest people.

ROBERTS: A CNN health alert for you this morning. It is OK to eat tomatoes again. That's what the Food and Drug Administration is saying, lifting its salmonella warning. A mystery remains though what exactly is causing the deadly outbreak. CNN's Louise Schiavone reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All clear. All tomatoes sold anywhere in the United States.

VOICE OF DR. DAVID ACHESON, FDA: We are removing the tomato warning. FDA officials believe that consumers may now enjoy all types of fresh tomatoes available on the domestic market without concern of becoming infected with salmonella St. Paul bacteria.

SCHIAVONE: Still not clear. What caused the ongoing outbreak?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still do not know where the original contamination point was and we're pursuing that as hard today as we were at the beginning.

SCHIAVONE: Confirmed cases are now up to 1,220 across 42 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada; 224 have been hospitalized. The latest confirmed case was seen July 4th. Better than 50 percent of the cases are documented along the U.S./Mexico border, although produce from Mexico so far has been cleared.

At the same time, however, the FDA says field staff is still investigating a specific packer in Mexico even as the FDA maintains contact with edgy Mexican officials. The Mexican Embassy telling "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," "Not a single case of this strain of salmonella has been registered in Mexico. Notwithstanding, Mexico is fully committed to the health of consumers in both our countries and will continue to work hand in hand with U.S. authorities to ensure food safety."

The government's inability to explain the expanding outbreak has this influential senator suggesting it's time to take the F out of FDA and institute instead --

SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: One single food safety entity that has jurisdiction over all food safety. And they simply don't have the wherewithal to do it.

SCHIAVONE: The nation's tomato farmers are relieved.

TOM NASSIF, PRESIDENT, WESTERN GROWERS: We would have preferred, however, that it had not occurred. That there had not been speculation that it was tomatoes until they actually had evidence that it was the carrier.

SCHIAVONE: But from farm to table, the industry could well lose a quarter of a billion dollars.

SCHIAVONE (on camera): The focus of suspicion currently rests on jalapeno and Serrano peppers, which are not approved for people with health issues. And with the mystery still unsolved and the range of suspicion touching on the key ingredients in salsa, Dr. Acheson tells CNN that the science "has not indicated that the outbreak has been linked to commercially produced salsa."

Louise Schiavone for CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Remains a mystery, but the deadly salmonella outbreak is having an impact on what Americans eat. A brand-new "AP" poll out this morning says nearly half of Americans are concerned that they may get ill from eating contaminated food and are avoiding items that they would normally buy.

CHETRY: Well, if you critique the TSA, do you end up on the terror watch list? That's what our Drew Griffin is trying to find out this morning.

Drew is a correspondent with our special investigations unit. And after he aired a series of reports critical of the TSA, he started getting stopped at airports across the country. Come to find out, he's on the terror watch list.

Well, it got the attention of Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee. During a House hearing, here's what she said to Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: We understand that a new member is on the watch list, Drew Griffin of CNN. And my question is, why would Drew Griffin's name come on the watch list post his investigation of TSA? What a curious and interesting and troubling phenomenon.

What is the basis of this sudden recognition that Drew Griffin is a terrorist? Are we targeting people because of their critique or criticism?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Drew's name is one of an estimated one million on the list. Chertoff said Drew might share his name with someone else on the list and described the incident as a possible mismatch. That wasn't good enough though for Jackson Lee and probably not for Drew Griffin, who has been trying to get himself removed from that list. She's calling for an investigation.

ROBERTS: Well, coming up on six minutes after the hour. Here's what we're working on for you this morning.

At 11 minutes after, powered by wind. An entire town using windmills to run its houses, stores, and its one traffic light. Can this tiny town in Missouri be a model for the rest of the nation?

CHETRY: At 19 after the hour, the "N" word. Jesse Jackson reportedly used it in his hot mike comments about Barack Obama talking down to black people, reigniting the debate is it ever really OK to say it?

ROBERTS: And at 48 minutes after, the violence gene. Are some people more prone to becoming violent criminals because of their DNA? Three tiny genes in your body could hold the answer to all of this. We're paging our Dr. Gupta. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Eight minutes after the hour. Light, sweet, crude -- three words I always associate with Ali Velshi.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I just continue the good news. I don't know what I'm supposed to --

ROBERTS: It's time to cover issue number one.

VELSHI: That's right. I like that. Oil prices --

CHETRY: He has been hiding here for the past three minutes.

VELSHI: Well, listen, issue number one is the economy. And light sweet crude oil is down again. I mean, they are giving this stuff away. It was down below 130 bucks just for a little, you know, a hot second. But down another five bucks. I think what -- that had to be about 17 bucks in a week. About $16 in the past three days alone. It's up a little bit to 131 bucks.

But the price of oil has just continued to drop. Now, that has really done well for markets. We had the third successful day in a row of U.S. markets. Big numbers actually. Take a look at this.

The Dow was up over 200 points. That amounts to about 1.85 percent, the Nasdaq 1.2 percent, the S&P 1.2. And this morning, the futures indicated that the markets would open lower. Why? Because we had earnings, bad earnings from Merrill Lynch, even worse than Wall Street expected.

We had bad earnings from Google or less than what Wall Street expected. Same thing, a disappointment for Microsoft. But it's turned around because we also got a big loss at Citibank this morning -- Citigroup. And it wasn't as bad as Wall Street expected.

So stock futures have actually turned up, which is interesting. So all together not such bad news for us all. I want to tell you that we're going to be making sense of this week, which has been a particularly busy week this weekend on "YOUR MONEY."

So try and tune in on Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00. It really has been a very puzzling week. It started last weekend with the failure of IndyMac and then Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and all sorts of testimony. I mean, this has just been a busy, confusing week. You're excused out there if you're not sure what's going on.

ROBERTS: I like the fact though that you can be light and sweet and crude.

VELSHI: I am light and sweet and crude all at the same time. The oil was named after me. ROBERTS: Sort of like salty and sweet.

VELSHI: I'm not really all that light, though.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks so much.

VELSHI: All right.

ROBERTS: Kiran?

CHETRY: Or sweet, but, hey, who's counting?

Well, the state of Texas known for its big oil companies is ready to spend almost $5 billion on wind power. That plan would build power lines to carry wind-generated electricity from the gusty parts in west Texas to cities like Dallas. Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens is planning to build the world's largest wind farm in Texas using billions of his own money to do it. And one small town in Missouri is already leading the nation in this wind-generated electricity movement.

Our Ed Lavandera visited Rock Port, Missouri, the first city in America to be fully wind powered -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, most people think of Chicago as the Windy City. But this little town of Rock Port, Missouri, is trying to change all that. Those wind turbines you see are capable of providing all of the energy this town needs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Follow Steve Scammen (ph) down this gravel road and you'll notice spinning shadows over his cornfield. Then you'll see the blaze that make Rock Port, Missouri, run.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Did you ever think that Rock Port would be kind of on the cutting edge of energy technology like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. Rock Port is just a good, old farming community.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Rock Port, population 1,400, is the first city in the United States that can be fully powered by wind. The wind turns the only traffic light, the bank's clock, computers and the tools of a hair salon.

The Rock Port wind farm was Eric Chamberlain's idea. He manages it out of his family's funeral home. The idea came to him after seeing a wind farm while driving in a funeral procession through Iowa. Now, he's known as the wind czar.

ERIC CHAMBERLAIN, WIND CAPITAL GROUP: I was born and raised here and began to think it's windy a lot of the time.

LAVANDERA: Rock Port flipped the switch to wind energy in April. But when the wind isn't blowing the town must buy traditional energy. So the city hasn't totally done away with the old power system.

CHAMBERLAIN: This is the total city load currently --

LAVANDERA: But since the turbines were turned on three months ago, they've produced seven percent more energy than the town needs. The excess is sold off to other communities.

CHAMBERLAIN: Those turbines produce electricity without any emissions, without any other fuel source other than the wind. And they produce a lot of power.

LAVANDERA: Back in the fields, farmers here like to say they don't stare at the corn anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the way to go with electricity as far as I can see.

LAVANDERA: They're mesmerized by the spinning blades.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: Now, Rock Port residents haven't seen any relief in electrical bills, at least not yet. The hope is wind power will help keep energy prices from skyrocketing in the years ahead. John and Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: Of course, the initial investment, the wind farm, is huge. T. Boone Pickens I think is putting $6 million to $10 billion into his farm.

CHETRY: Right.

ROBERTS: But you know, overtime starts to pay back.

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: CNN exclusive coming up. Almost two million acres destroyed in the deluge of a cyclone. Crops gone. Towns literally wiped off the map. And Myanmar's government doesn't want anyone to know what's going on.

Our Betty Nguyen live on her harrowing trip through the secret country.

CHETRY: Jesse Jackson and his use of the "N" word.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a hypocrite.

JASON WHITLOCK, COLUMNIST, KANSAS CITY STAR: We want other races to eliminate it from their vocabulary, but we don't want to do the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: An old debate rages anew across America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nice to say, hi, my friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can say it and we -- we're not supposed to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Top videos right now on CNN.com, the most popular. We showed it to you yesterday, but people still can't get enough of this shot. It's the "Shark Out of Water."

Photographer snapped it off the coast of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, this week. There you see the shark just jumping out of the water right by two surfers. Apparently the surfers didn't know the shark was there. Our own John Zarrella checked it out and the picture is legit.

Dwight Schrute does the weather. The guy from the show "The Office," Ray Wilson, stops by the CNN weather center yesterday. How scared would you be if you're looking for Rob Marciano and he pops up?

Well, he did the forecast during "NEWSROOM." He said he's always wanted to do the weather forecast for CNN. By the way, he didn't do too bad of a job and he was funny as well.

Well, will it be the Joker's weekend? The highly anticipated "Batman" flick "Dark Knight" is out nationwide today. Some cities even had showings at 3:00 in the morning. And that's what's most popular on CNN.com.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning" and we're back in 90 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's coming up at 19 minutes after the hour. And here's what we're working on this morning.

Presidential hopeful John McCain holds a town hall with General Motors employees this morning. The event comes at the end of a week where the troubled automaker is announcing more spending cuts.

A little later on this morning, President Bush -- over here -- wakes up in Arizona and heads to the first of two RNC fundraisers that he's going to today. He's going to finish off this week with a trip to the western White House, his Crawford, Texas, Ranch.

And all morning long we've been seeing these pictures coming in from South Africa as Nelson Mandela celebrates his 90th birthday today. Mandela's international birthday party has been happening on and off for several weeks, including a huge concert last month in Hyde Park London to raise funds for his AIDS charity.

That's what we're following this morning. And Kiran, you know what President Bush gave Mandela for his birthday?

CHETRY: What did he get?

ROBERTS: Got him off the terror watch list.

CHETRY: Now we need to do that for Drew Griffin.

ROBERTS: How he got on that in the first place is beyond me.

CHETRY: Yes, it's a big mystery. There's a big investigation here. Thanks a lot, John.

Well, a debate that's been going on for decades over a word that symbolized hatred for millions. But the back and forth over the use of the "N" word is now reignited once again after Jesse Jackson apparently used it when talking about Barack Obama.

Jason Carroll shows us it's triggered a whole new wave of emotion aimed at Jackson and the word itself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: See, Barack been, um.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We heard Reverend Jesse Jackson apologize after an open microphone caught him making an offensive remark about Senator Barack Obama.

JACKSON: He's talking down to black people.

CARROLL (on camera): Now Jackson is apologizing for what you did not hear. FOX would not release the audio, but confirms Jackson used the "N" word.

CARROLL (voice-over): He accused Obama of "telling N----s (bleep) how to behave. CNN caught up with Jackson during a religious conference in Madrid, Spain.

JACKSON: We gave an adequate response to this in writing. That's the form of communication that we chose. It's a very painful in error conversation. Fortunately, Senator Barack responded gracefully and quickly, and that the healing process has begun.

CARROLL: Jackson's written statement said, "There really is no justification for my comments, and I hope the Obama family and the American people can forgive me."

BRYAN MONROE, "EBONY" MAGAZINE: I've known Reverend Jackson for more than 20 years, and he's one of the most complex individuals I've ever known. And with that complexity comes the good and the bad. CARROLL: Jackson's critics are calling him a hypocrite. Just two years ago Jackson waged a public campaign trying to get people, especially those in entertainment, to stop using the word.

JACKSON: Those roots are rooted in hatred and pain and degradation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a hypocrite. Period. I mean, you can't tell somebody to do something and then you don't buy it yourself.

CARROLL: Jackson's use of the word has raised what can be an uncomfortable question. Is it ever OK to use the "N" word? And, if so, who is allowed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just find it funny that they can say it and we -- we're not supposed to.

CARROLL: Black rappers and comedians commonly say the word. It is also used within the African-American community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's not use it as derogatory amongst us. It's nice to say, hi, my friend.

JASON WHITLOCK, COLUMNIST, KANSAS CITY STAR: I think most of us in the African-American community are frauds when it comes to this word. We want other races to eliminate it from their vocabulary but we don't want to do the same.

CARROLL: The words used sparking a heated debate on ABC's "The View."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ABC'S "THE VIEW")

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, HOST, "THE VIEW": How are we supposed to, then, move forward if we keep using terms that bring back that pain?

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, HOST, "THE VIEW": I can tell you. Here's how we do it. You listen and say, OK. This is how we're using this word and this is why we do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Angry about its use, last year the NAACP buried the "N" word in a symbolic funeral. It seems symbolism was not enough.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Barack Obama preparing for a major international trip planning to hit five countries while he's overseas. Will it be enough to bolster his reputation on foreign policy?

CHETRY: And pushing homeowners in hurricane hot zones to the brink. Another huge insurance rate hike in the works whether it can be crushed. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 25 minutes after the hour. Barack Obama is preparing for his first big step on the international stage. A major trip that will take him to at least six countries in seven days. It comes as Senator John McCain continues to hit Obama for a lack of experience on national security issues and his policies on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ambassador Wendy Sherman is an Obama campaign adviser. John Lehman is a former secretary of the navy. He backs John McCain. They both join us live from Washington.

Good morning. Good to see both of you. Ambassador Sherman, let's start with you. Senator Obama seems to be facing a damned if you do damned if you don't sort of situation. He was criticized for not going to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now he is being criticized performing his plans in regard to troop withdrawals and what to do about troop levels in Afghanistan before going over there. Let's listen to what Senator John McCain said on that front yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that Senator Obama is going to Iraq. I was very interested that he articulated and announced his policies and approach to Iraq before he went.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Ambassador, he said the same thing about Afghanistan. I guess the question some people have is should Senator Obama have had eyes on the ground or at least had direct conversations and communications with General Petraeus before coming out with his plans?

AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Well, I think that Senator McCain is speaking as if Senator Obama has never known anything about Iraq, listened to any military commander, thought about this in any way, shape, or form. And, in fact, Senator Obama is well versed on what's happening on the ground in Iraq. He's going to listen to see what's happening today. What the military commanders say.

But he has been very, very clear throughout this campaign that he believes we need to withdraw from Iraq. Senator McCain says we are successful in Iraq. Violence is down. Things are moving forward. In that case, it's time to leave.

If the violence is overwhelming, it is time to leave. I think that's what the American people want. Senator Obama has been very clear about that. But he's also said, we need to leave as carefully as we carelessly got in by the Bush administration. And so, he's going to listen to these commanders about how we should leave in a careful, thoughtful way. ROBERTS: Right.

Secretary Lehman, aren't there plenty of commanders in chief who have made military decisions without actually being in country at some point. And I think to this idea, too, that Senator Obama has been calling for an increase in U.S. troops in Afghanistan for some time now. Senator John McCain only came to that issue earlier this week.

SEC. JOHN LEHMAN, FMR. NAVY SECY. UNDER REAGAN: Well, that's not accurate, taking the last verse because he has been calling for increasing the effort and troops in Afghanistan --

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: But we talked about -- he talked about NATO troops.

LEHMAN: That's right. NATO.

ROBERTS: He's talking about U.S. troops.

LEHMAN: That is correct. And now, he is talking about increasing the U.S. troops.

ROBERTS: Right.

LEHMAN: While bringing NATO together.

ROBERTS: So that's the change?

LEHMAN: That is the change because of the facts on the ground. The problem with Senator Obama's position is that facts have changed dramatically on the ground in Iraq and his position has not. As "The Washington Post" put it, he's indifferent to winning or losing in Iraq. And that is what is so appalling, I think, about his position.

ROBERTS: Secretary Lehman, John McCain talks about winning in Iraq. And a question many people have is how do you define winning and particularly on this point, critics say how do you define winning in a war where many people say it was fought on false pretenses?

LEHMAN: Well, the fact is that winning as defined by John McCain is a very simple concept. It is establishing a government that can provide security and liberty for its people and can prevent Iraq from being a threat to its neighbors, and prevent it from ever being a base for al-Qaeda or any other terrorists.

ROBERTS: Is that a good definition, Ambassador Sherman?

SHERMAN: Well, I think what we're seeing now is that the Iraqi government itself has called for a timetable by the United States to withdraw its troop. It wants to take responsibility for its own country. I think that's what the American people want as well.

And I think on Afghanistan, not only is Senator McCain saying and changing his mind, but he, in fact, changed his mind three times in the same day. First, he said, that it should be American troops. Then he said it should be NATO troops. Then he said it should be some American troops.

Senator Obama has always been in the right place where Afghanistan is concerned. That is where the real security interests of the United States are. We need to get out of Iraq carefully.

We need to make sure that our interests are secure in the region. But the real fight against the war on terror is in Afghanistan.

ROBERTS: Well, we'll watch where all of this goes. We don't know when Senator Obama will be traveling. We only know it's soon, and we'll be watching that story very closely.

Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Secretary John Lehman, thanks for being with us this morning. It's good to see both of you again.

SHERMAN: Good to see you, John.

LEHMAN: My pleasure.

CHETRY: And we're coming up on 7:30 here in New York. Some top stories this morning to give you a look at.

First, getting ready to sit down with Iran. Tomorrow the State Department's third highest ranking diplomat sits down with Iran's top nuclear negotiator. And today William Burns will discuss Tehran's nuclear program with the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency. Burns is only expected to listen, not negotiate during tomorrow's talks.

Heat waves, hurricane and germs -- all possible by-products of global warming, according to one new report from the EPA. It says more people will die during an extremely hot periods in the future with the elderly and the poor in the inner cities at the highest risk. The agency is also warning of stronger storms and fresh water shortages in the west.

Bill Clinton on board. The former president now says he's willing to do whatever Barack Obama asks to make him the next president. Clinton telling reporters he's ready and eager to campaign. The two reportedly didn't speak for a month after the bitter primary battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton.

And a tough parting shot at President Bush. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to Wolf Blitzer in a CNN exclusive saying the President's been a "total failure."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Here's what President Bush said on Tuesday about your leadership, not just you personally, but the democrat's leadership in Congress.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: With just 26 legislative days left before the end of the fiscal year. This means that to get their fundamental job done Congress would have to pass a spending bill nearly every other day. This is not a record to be proud of. And I think the American people deserve better.

BLITZER: You want to respond to the President?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, you know, god bless his heart, the president of the United States. A total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy. You name the subject. And for him to be challenging Congress when we are trying to sweep up after his mess, over and over and over again. At the end of the day, Congress will have passed on its responsibility to pass legislation starting with our Department of Defense bill. The President knows it. He needs something to talk about because he has no idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The comments came two days after President Bush slammed Congress for its, "relative inaction during the legislative term." You can see Wolf's entire interview with the House Speaker on late edition this Sunday.

ROBERTS: And it also came the same day that Jack Cafferty pointed out that a new Gallup poll found the approval rating for Congress is at a historic low of 14 percent.

Alina Cho here now with more stories new this morning. It's just, believe.

ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, guys, again. Happy Friday. Good morning, everybody. New this morning a new report on the danger U.S. troops face from shoddy electrical work in Iraq. According to "The New York Times" internal military documents list 283 electrical fires at military bases in one six-month period. The report says two soldiers died in one of those fires at a base near Tikrit and another soldier was hurt jumping from a burning guard tower. The Pentagon previously said 13 Americans had been electrocuted in Iraq since September of 2003.

Insurance rates in some hurricane hot spots could rise by as much as 70 percent. State Farm is asking for large rate increases in parts of south Florida, including Miami-Dade and Broward counties. State farm has 1 million policy holders in Florida. One state senator called it outrageous with people already swamped in disaster insurance bills. State Farm will have to defend the increases at a hearing next month. The company has reported five straight years of overall profits.

Three members of a military band were injured after a sky driver loses control of his parachute and slams feet first into a military band at a reported 50 miles an hour. You have to see it to believe it. Take a look. It happened during an opening ceremony at Ft. Riley in Kansas. One of the injured was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured jaw. The sky diver says he veered off course after his parachute lines got tangled.

And fans spent close to 1 million bucks to own a piece of the godfather of soul. Christie's says James Brown's estate brought in $857,000 in auction yesterday. People bid on everything from that there to a signature cape to his medical bracelet. The late show's Paul Schafer is the proud owner of that bracelet. He spent more than 32 grand for it and he says he'll always remember now that Brown was diabetic and that he's allergic to penicillin. Brown died of heart failure on Christmas day in 2006. His estate has been mired in turmoil. Wow. Those rollers were up for auction, too. And so was a denim jump suit that he wore at a concert in 1974 and a poem that was written by Mohammed Ali. Those last two items went for 25 grand a piece. A look at the news.

CHETRY: Bittersweet. Some of his family were very upset by, you know, the fact that some of his items were going up to auction.

CHO: Yes. A million dollars. A lot of questions about where that money will go.

CHETRY: That's right. Thanks, Alina.

ROBERTS: That parachute accident, too. He landed on the sousaphone player.

CHETRY: Yes. Two tubas were destroyed by the way in that accident.

ROBERTS: Oh, my goodness. Alina, thanks so much. Last call for lattes. 600 Starbucks are closing. And one state is losing the most. Is your Starbucks on the hit list?

CHETRY: Also a new study found that you may have a genetic link to violent criminal behavior. We're "Paging Dr. Gupta." You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: 36 minutes past 7:00 on the East Coast. Business headlines, the list is in. Starbucks announcing which stores will be closed. California losing the most, 88. The company named all 600 stores that will be shut down beginning July. You can actually see if your local Starbucks is on the list. Don't worry. There's probably one two more blocks away. But anyway, CNN.com to see if your store's closing.

Mortgage lender Countrywide's troubles have intensified this morning. The California attorney general's office has expanded a lawsuit against the company saying they rewarded their staff for selling risky loans. Court documents say Countrywide once approved an adjustable mortgage for an 85-year-old disabled veteran with poor credit. That homeowner then defaulted in less than six months.

Record fuel prices are going to make this one of the most expensive holiday travel seasons ever. In fact, travel expert says that if you plan to fly home for the holidays, book your flight now. Experts say that this December it could cost almost twice as much to get the same popular - to go to the same popular winter vacation spots like Florida and Hawaii. If they don't try to wait for a fall fare sale because they say, trust us, it's not going to happen this year. ROBERTS: You know, we've heard both presidential candidates say far more troops are needed in Afghanistan. The generals are agreeing with that. But now CNN has learned reinforcements promised to arrive in Afghanistan as early as September may not be arriving any time soon. This contradicts what the country's top civilian and military commander said just yesterday. CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre has got the details for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this video obtained exclusively by CNN, an F-16 pilot uses his targeting system to track an insurgent on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walking along the edge of the field at approximately seven meters up on the left is the hot spot. That's where the dismount jumped into the brush.

MCINTYRE: Even leading U.S. troops to his hiding place in tall grass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One meter. He's right alongside of it. Appears to be pointing at something.

MCINTYRE: It's exactly the kind of overhead, real-time intelligence that was missing when some 200 Taliban fighters were able to mass in Afghanistan's Kunar province and launch an attack that while repelled did result in nine American deaths. The deadliest fire fight since the start of the war. Now the U.S. military has launched a formal investigation to determine what went wrong.

Manned and unmanned spy planes like the heavily armed Reaper are among the things the Pentagon wants to send more of to Afghanistan. Planes from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea are also flying spy and attack missions over Afghanistan. But the critical need remains for more boots on the ground. Something sources say the Pentagon is having a hard time finding.

ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: It's very clear that additional troops will have a big impact on insurgents coming across that border.

MCINTYRE: While Defense Secretary Gates has promised to try to send more U.S. troops sooner rather than later, senior military sources tell CNN because of practical limitations, it will not be possible to dispatch any significant number of additional ground troops to Afghanistan until late this year. Well after the so-called summer fighting season ends. Instead, the Pentagon is looking at meeting other critical needs like, perhaps, providing more helicopters to give the U.S. and NATO troops already there more mobility.

MCINTYRE (on-camera): So while the Pentagon is focused more on Afghanistan, so long as Iraq remains the top priority, U.S. commanders fighting the other war are going to have to wait a little longer for help to arrive. Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: Well, a disaster zone in an area closed off to the rest of the world. Our Betty Nguyen risked her freedom getting in to get you the story. We're going to talk about how she got inside Myanmar.

ROBERTS: And are violent criminals made that way? New research shows that violent behavior is in your DNA, it's genetic. We'll tell you how. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Debris everywhere and bodies still in the swamps, still rotting two months after the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Myanmar. It's a story that most of the west is already started to ignore and one that's easy to forget since the country's military government has sealed it off from the rest of the world. But our Betty Nguyen got in to show the world that thousands of people are still suffering. She's sharing her journey live now from Bangkok, Thailand. Betty, it's just an incredible series that you've given us this week. But a lot of people are asking the question, how did you ever get down there to the Irrawaddy Delta? What sort of hurdles did you have to jump to get into that area?

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN, ANCHOR: Well, let me put it this way, John. It was the most difficult assignment that I've ever taken. Seriously. Hands down. Because there were so many obstacles. You know, after hearing stories of rotting bodies and lack of aid we wanted to see if any progress had been made two months since the cyclone. But the problem is the Myanmar government won't allow foreign journalists in. But the story needed to be told. So, here's a look at how we did it. And I want to warn you that some of the images are disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN (voice-over): Just getting into the country was half the battle. Little did I know the rest would be near impossible. We had to devise a plan to bypass multiple military check points and get down to the cyclone devastation. The only way out of Yang Gong is through this check point? That's a problem. Because if we're caught, our team faced deportation, even prison time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a difficult- it's one of the harder places to shoot a story. Because you live in fear of yourself being kicked out but really more fear of the people that work for you being arrested and put away for 20 years.

NGUYEN: That was my photographer. I can't show you his face because he still works in the region. So after days of poring over maps and scouting out routes, we were finally on the move. To get down to the Irrawaddy Delta we have to leave under the cover of darkness. The last thing we need right now is to be stopped. We hopped from different modes of transportation. All the while feeling like fugitives on the run. It's really the only way to get down there and bypass the check point. It's going to be a long ride. And a rough one. We slept in stifling conditions and lived off of little more than bottled water and power bars. Once daylight broke through it was clear this journey was far from over. We're waiting right now for a second boat. A smaller one that we're told will be able to make it through the canals a lot easier. After 21 hours we finally made it. Though it normally takes only four hours to get here. And judging from the devastation, it doesn't look like much has changed in the two months since the cyclone struck.

Debris still littered villages. We had to work quickly, capturing what we could, never knowing when we'd get caught. Trekking through muddy fields, over makeshift bridges and right into rice paddies. We came across an eerie discovery. Bodies still rotting in the delta. I knew we would find them. I just didn't know how haunting it would be. Yet just a few feet away, the living press on. It's a place where slivers of hope can be found in the eyes of the young. So happy and full of life. And for a brief moment, you almost forget, they've seen more pain than most people can imagine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Now, to understand that pain, the scope of it, let's just take a look at the numbers for a second. 85,000 are reported dead officially. Another 50,000 missing. And there's over an estimated million people still in need along the Irrawaddy Delta. A little bit of aid is getting in but it's not being distributed evenly. In fact, the U.N., John, just recently asked for another $300 million in additional donations just to continue its relief efforts.

ROBERTS: Remarkable story, remarkable reporting. Betty Nguyen for us from Bangkok this morning. Betty, good job. We'll see you back here state side soon.

CHETRY: It really was amazing.

Well, here's what we're working on for you this morning. At 18 after, what's going on at Wachovia? Well, the bank under a microscope this morning. Regulators looking at possibly risky investments. Also at 38 after, it's a layoff make over. Reinventing yourself after losing your job. We're going to introduce you to someone who was able to turn a bad situation into something great.

And at 56 after, the new infamous John McCain Viagra question. We've all seen it. It's now a planned parenthood ad. And our Jeanne Moos shows us a little bit more. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Violence could actually be genetic according to a new study. Research shows that three genes play a role in why some men become violent criminals. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us. He's in Los Angeles this morning. So, you certainly got an early wake-up call for us this morning. But it's fascinating, they're able to determine genes linked to violence. How did they do that? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, it is absolutely fascinating. Because when you think of genes, typically, you think of them controlling things like your height, your eye color, maybe even your likelihood of developing heart disease or diabetes. But to the extent that genes may actually predict your psychological behavior is a fertile and fascinating area of research. The way that they did this is they actually followed 20,000 young men between grades 7 through 12 for sometime. They did interviews with them, they took their blood, they tried to figure out was there something that would emerge as a predictor of violent behavior? And in fact, there was.

There were three genes as you mentioned, call them violence genes, call them bad behavior genes, what they found is that people had these genes they are much more likely to be violent. There were certain triggers, as well. Stress, family problems, low popularity, failing in school. To take it a step further, Kiran, they sort of predict that about one percent of the population has these genes. One percent of the population has these violence or bad behavior genes, which is fascinating. People who have them are more likely to be violent. They are more likely to be delinquent. They are more likely to be have all these various bad behaviors.

Now, just identifying the genes as you might imagine is just part of the issue here. The real goal according to the doctors we spoke about this is to eventually develop treatments to counteract those genes and get rid of violence. Really interesting stuff.

CHETRY: And they also found that there are just things they can do and things that their families or people around them can do in every day life to maybe prevent them from acting out, as well. Talk about that.

GUPTA: Yes. So when you talk about genes, you talk about the gene itself, which is sort of your potential to develop something. And then the gene expression, which is the fact that you actually do develop something. They found with one of the genes in particular if a young man was to have regular family meals, to have family meals every single day, they almost took the risk of expressing that gene to zero. So there was an example of an environmental counteraction. So it is possible to dilute these genes through simple behaviors.

CHETRY: Very fascinating. We can talk about it for hours. Sanjay, thanks for getting up with us. Great to see you.

GUPTA: No problem, I'll be back. Thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): Going global.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will restore our moral standing in the world.

ROBERTS: What he stands to gain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like JFK and Camelot.

ROBERTS: And lose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy's only been in national politics for three years. Let alone international politics.

ROBERTS: Across Europe and on the front lines. Plus life after layoffs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fly fishing on a weekday morning with her husband Jerry.

ROBERTS: The economy forcing people to follow their dreams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just an awesome life because I have been able to have some control.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY (voice-over): It's wind energy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those turbines produce electricity without any emissions, without any other fuel source other than the wind and they produce a lot of power.

CHETRY: We'll take you on a trip to the first city in America that's powered by wind. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And it's now five minutes to the top of the hour. For a time, former President Bill Clinton stayed away from the Barack Obama bandwagon, but now Bill is ready to jump on board.

And CNN's Gary Tuchman tells us what changed his mind.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), SENATOR OF NEW YORK: We may have started on separate paths, but today our paths have merged.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Hillary Clinton endorsed Barack Obama in the town of Unity, New Hampshire, the name of the town seemed to be most appropriate. But many wondered was Bill Clinton's absence from the event the sign of lack of unity? Listen to his response three weeks ago to this reporter's question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Clinton, will you be endorsing Barack Obama?

TUCHMAN: No response. But now he's responding.

PRES. BILL CLINTON, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: I'll do whatever I'm asked to do whenever I can do it.

TUCHMAN: The former president has now talked with the man who he would like to see as the future president.

CLINTON: We had a good talk. And he said he wanted me to campaign with him and I said I was eager to do so. And, you know, he's busier than I am on politics, anyway. So I told him whenever he wanted to do it, I was ready. And so it's basically on their timetable. He's got a lot of things to do between now and the convention.

TUCHMAN: This is certainly a different-sounding Bill Clinton than we sometimes heard during the primary campaign. For example, when asked about Barack Obama stressing his early opposition to the Iraq war.

CLINTON: Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.

TUCHMAN: And in South Carolina he got heat when he used Jesse Jackson's name to down play Barack Obama's accomplishments.

CLINTON: Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice in '84, and '88. And he ran a good campaign and Senator Obama is running a good campaign.

TUCHMAN: Interestingly, Bill Clinton talked about Jesse Jackson today too. Specifically about his crude off-air comments on Fox News about Obama.

CLINTON: I think we all know where his heart is. On everything involving equal opportunity without regard to race and health and poor people in Americans throughout the world. And I think Senator Obama accepted his apology. I think it's over.

TUCHMAN: Also over, of course, Bill and Hillary Clinton's dreams of moving into the White House this January.

CLINTON: I implore you, you say yes to Hillary and you won't have to worry.

TUCHMAN: But he's ready to hit the road for his second choice. And as far as speaking at the Democratic National Convention.

CLINTON: I have actually given no thought to it one way or the other.

TUCHMAN: That is still to be determined. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: And the former president isn't Senator Obama's only big asset, he's also sporting a hefty campaign war chest. Here's more on that on "AM Extra". As we first reported yesterday on AMERICAN MORNING, the Obama campaign raised a whopping $52 million in the month of June with an average donation of only $68. When you combine the campaigns and the party committees, Obama though still behind John McCain. Right now Senator Obama and the DNC have about $72 million on hand. Senator McCain's campaign raised $22 million in June. That's his best month yet. Well behind the Obama campaign but John McCain and the RNC together have $95 million. Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, there are some new developments this morning in the high stakes nuclear showdown between the U.S. and Iran. Iran's foreign minister says he's optimistic about tomorrow's sit-down with the State Department's third highest ranking diplomat William Burns. He's only expected to listen, not negotiate, though, during tomorrow's talks. But today he's discussing Tehran's nuclear program with the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chernoff says he cannot guarantee that every suspected European terrorist entering the U.S. will be caught. He made the remarks during a congressional hearing yesterday also telling lawmakers many are using legitimate passports and are not on the government's terrorist watch list.

The Food and Drug Administration lifting its the Salmonella warning on all fresh tomatoes. Consumers though were still being warned to avoid some hot pepper varieties like jalapenos and Serrano peppers for now. Investigators say they still do not know what caused the nation-wide Salmonella outbreak, but it appears to be slowing. Since April, more than 1,200 people in 42 states have gotten sick.

John McCain's campaign is stepping up criticism over Barack Obama's plans to visit Europe and the Middle East. Staffers say that Obama is treating the visit as a stump trip. CNN's Dana Bash is live in Washington. Dana, what else is the McCain camp saying about this trip? It's getting a lot of media coverage, of course.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They're saying a lot. It's interesting though, Kiran, excuse me, when Barack Obama is abroad, John McCain will spend his time talking about the economy. The issue that is most on voters' minds here at home. But until then, McCain is trying very hard to influence what he and his campaign know will be heavy focus on Obama's trip.

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