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Obama's Kabul Visit; General Time Horizon; Soaring Fuel Prices; Myanmar Cyclone

Aired July 19, 2008 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CENTER: All right, those remarks aside on Afghanistan, there is agreement between McCain and Obama. Both would commit more troops, they say. McCain says he would send three additional U.S. combat brigades. Obama says he would send at least two.
Now, meantime, let's give you the latest live report out of Afghanistan out of Kabul in particular. Our Reza Sayah is there. He's been following the developments involving Barack's visit to Kabul.

What do you know has been said during those meetings -- Reza?

REZA SAYAH, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well Fredricka, these days in the states it's easy to track Obama's very movement, but today is not been the case today in Kabul, Afghanistan during his first visit toward the war-torn country, but we're getting some details and we're getting the first bit of video. Let's go ahead and show it to you.

This is video of Senator Obama along with the congressional delegation visiting Jalalabad Air Base in Nandahar Province. The senator's there met with the troops from their states. And Senator Obama met with the governor of Nandahar Province, the first meeting with an afghan official. The two actually hugged at one point and again had a meeting.

Before that he was in Bagram Air Force Base, just north of Kabul where he met with troops again. A U.S. Government source here in Kabul tells CNN that Senator Obama plans to stay overnight and will meet with Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, tomorrow.

They have been a lot of criticism from Senator John McCain's camp. That this was simply a photo opportunity for Senator Obama, but perhaps the fact that he's staying overnight, perhaps the fact that he's gone to eastern Afghanistan, a region that has in recent weeks since a spike in violence, perhaps that's the message from Senator Obama to the American voters, to Senator John McCain, his opponent, that this is indeed more than a photo opportunity -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: But, Reza, isn't this at great risk do it overnight in an area in a region, that has seen a spike in violence as of recent?

SAYAH: No question about it. But, some will argue it will be a great risk if he didn't do it, leading up to the elections. Remember Senator Obama had never visited Afghanistan and he's going up against a candidate in Senator John McCain who's a decorated Navy captain, a prisoner of war. The perception back in the states is that Senator Obama is weak in national security, weak in foreign policy. Many argue that this was a crucial must-visit for Senator Obama -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And what about Afghans, in general? Any response from them? We know that Hamid Karzai, the president's popularity has kind of waned in recent months. In any way are Afghans speaking out about what they think about Barack Obama and his visit to their country?

SAYAH: Well, we've been in the streets of Kabul speaking to people. And remember, this is a country that's been in conflict, been in a volatile situation for four decades. So frankly, they are hopeless and frustrated and they have no confidence that whoever is the next president of the United States of America will make a difference for this country that desperately needs help -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow, no confidence at all, no matter who is elected in this country in terms of how it may impact the people of Afghanistan?

SAYAH: Yeah, keep in mind what this country has been through; begin next '80s with the Soviet invasion. And then it was the Mujahidin and then the Afghan jihad and then it was the Taliban government, and then it was 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion, all of these countries have come to the people in Afghanistan telling them that we're the answer. And none of them have been able to provide the answer. So, here's another president, in fact, both presidential candidates, U.S. Senator Obama and McCain telling the Afghan people that we have the answer. But it's understandable why they're not confident -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Reza Sayah, thanks for that update from Kabul, Afghanistan.

President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki are also talking about U.S. troops, the ones in Iraq and when to start bringing them home. The focus is on what President Bush called a "general time horizon." Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has details on that.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the last of the surge brigades pulling out of Iraq and July on track for the lowest troop casualty rate of the year, suddenly President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki are talking about when to withdraw U.S. troops. The two governments were hoping to reach a new security agreement this month, but Maliki, needing to appear independent from Washington, is pressing the U.S. to set a timeframe, if not a timetable, for getting most if not all U.S. troops out.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: Certainly from our perspective, there are certain things that we'll need to see and of course the Iraqis have certain things that they need and certain things that their political system will need.

STARR: So the new word in Washington is not timetable, but "time horizon." According to a White House statement, the two leaders have agreed that improving conditions should allow for the agreement now under negotiation to include a "general time horizon for meeting aspiration goals such as the resumption of Iraqi security control in their cities and provinces and the further reduction of U.S. combat forces from Iraq."

But a U.S. official familiar with the talk says the U.S. does not want to sign any agreement with firm withdrawal dates and specific troop drawdown levels. Still, the U.S. knows Maliki may have different ideas.

MCCORMACK: He is exercising his prerogatives.

STARR: And as the Bush administration winds down, that may give prime minister Nuri al Maliki more leverage to tell the Iraqi people when U.S. troops are leaving their country.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


WHITFIELD: Well, whatever a "general time horizon" means, the presidential candidates are putting their own spin on that agreement. John McCain's campaign says it's more evidence that President Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq has worked. Barack Obama's campaign called it another sign the administration is moving toward his position on negotiating the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

The future for British troops in Iraq is on the agenda today for Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He's in Iraq right now meeting with Iraqi leaders. Brown says plans are being made to cut the number of British troops in Iraq, but says, there is no official timetable for that withdrawal. Britain has about 4,000 soldiers in Iraq, right now.

Nuclear talks between Iran and the European Union, well, that ended today with Tehran refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment, no surprise there. Meantime, the two sides did agree to resume talks in two weeks.

For the first time a senior U.S. diplomat attended that meeting. But undersecretary of state, William Byrne, was on hand only as an observer. The enrichment issue is key because the activity can produce either fuel or nuclear-powered stations or material used in the production of nuclear warheads. Iran insists that its program is for peaceful purposes only.

Byrne's appearance in Geneva -- is this a change in direction for the U.S. overall. CNN's Brian Todd looks at the latest developments.


BRIAN TODD, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For years, the United States and Iran haven't been on speaking terms, unless you count speaking like this:

GEORGE W BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil.

TODD: Tough talk on Iran and its leader that continued from the president into this year.

BUSH: So his policies is what is creating the deprivation inside so of Iran.

TODD: Now, what could be a dramatic reversal -- the White House isn't denying a report in the British newspaper "The Guardian" that it plans to establish a diplomatic post in Tehran for the first time since the 1979 hostage crisis. The administration isn't saying much about anything about it.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We're not going to discuss internal deliberations of the U.S. government, but it is quite apparent from our efforts over the past several years that we have a real interest in reaching out to the Iranian people.

TODD: CNN has previously reported the administration was considering setting up a diplomatic office in Tehran.

(on camera): If this is in the works, it would come after another diplomatic breakthrough, a U.S. envoy's meeting with Iran's top nuclear negotiator this weekend.

(voice over): Since the hostage crisis, U.S. administrations have worked back channels with Tehran, but never went as far as setting up a diplomatic post. Is this a flip-flop?

For years, the Bush White House said all options are on the table with Iran. But, for a long time, the military option seemed more likely with both sides flexing their muscle in the region.

Now, with about six months in the office, administration officials deny they're watching the clock, scrambling to leave a positive legacy on Iran. Analysts are skeptical.

SUZANNE MALONEY, SABAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY: This is a top-tier issue for the administration and if they are to leave office without having moved the ball forward in a significant way, I think it will be considered as a major problem in terms of the historical legacy.

TODD: But the White House also knows how receptive the Iranians are toward this. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said recently he's in favor of a U.S. diplomatic post there. An Iranian official at the U.N. told me the same thing. And the Iranians might have an eye on legacy, here. President Ahmadinejad is up for reelection in less than one year.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: High gas prices in this country forcing us all to make tough choices to save money.


WHITFIELD: Drama on the high sea. Mexico's navy confronting a gang of alleged drug runners off of the Pacific coast. Just take a look at this vessel right there. Officials say the semi sub is a growing trend in the narcotic's trade. Mexican sailors repelled from a helicopter to board the boat and then arrest several crew members. And there right there is the payoff. That is quite the payload an estimated seven tons of cocaine.

And in Miami one of two men charged with murdering of a fishing boat, cops a plea. A relative of one fo the victims says Kirby Archer, that's him on the left, will plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. Archer and Guillermo Zarabozo are accused of robbing, kidnapping and killing the four-person crew of the with the "Joe Cool," if you will rember that case. The victim's bodies have never been found.

Let's check in with our Reynolds Wolf who is keeping a close watch on some tropical weather off of the coast of the East Coast.

And what named storm is this one? I can't keep up already.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Tropical depression No. 3, but once its winds exceed 38 to 39 miles-an-hour, boom, all of a sudden it's going to be called a tropical storm with a name that's going to start with a "C." this will be Cristobal. That's right, Cristobal. Right now it's just a cluster of showers and storms bringing some rainfall north of Charleston, near Myrtle Beach, also just south of Jackson, North Carolina.

The latest path, Fredricka, from the National Hurricane Center brings this storm right along the coast, past the outer banks. And as we go from Sunday into Monday it is anticipated it will strengthen with maximum sustained around 50 miles-per-hour and then move deeper into the Atlantic as we get into Tuesday.

A closer idea of what we think that are going to happen with the winds, we do anticipate that they will intensify. This computer model indicates that they will be getting stronger as it goes right along the outer banks. So, what you can expect from this is heavy surf for much of the outer banks in even places farther than north, say in the Jersey coastline, I'd say even in Long Island, New York, expect higher surf.

Farther south we go into parts of the Caribbean, we're watching this area of disturbed weather, mainly to the southeast of the Cayman Islands. This moving to the west/northwest doing to about 15, 20 miles-per-hour. There is the possibility this could strengthen over the next couple of days and if it happens to go past the Yucatan Peninsula and then move into the Gulf of Mexico, it may become a tropical storm, perhaps even a hurricane. We will watch it for you very carefully. That's the latest, Fredricka, let's send it back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right, turning out to be pretty busy in the Atlantic already and we're just what, barely a month and a half into hurricane season.

WOLF: Yeah, we've got all the way until November and then of course sometimes you can stretch on a little longer than that, too.

WHITFIELD: Right, something tells me it's going to be a long summer.

WOLF: Indeed.

WHITFIELD: Especially for you. But Reynolds, we know that you can handle it.

WOLF: There you go.

WHITFIELD: In keeping us informed. All right, thanks so much, Reynolds. Check back with you.

Well, dare we hope, analysts say it is possible that oil prices might have peaked. Oil prices fell more than $18 this week, and closing Friday at just under $129 a barrel. And there's a dip at the pump, as well. The AAA says you're not paying an average of $4.09 for a gallon of regular.

Soaring fuel prices are making a lot of people face some very tough choices. Here now is CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): West Virginia has weathered a lot of storms, but this one is no brief summer shower. Trucking is an economic linchpin here and truck company owner Jeff Perkins says he's never seen it this bad.

JEFF PERKINS, PERKINS TRUCKING: You know, when you pay $5 a gallon of fuel, that's all you're doing is, you're paying for the fuel and you're paying for the driver.

JOHNS: When the price of diesel jumped, he laid off a mechanic and a secretary. He stopped offering health insurance, then he parked all but four of his trucks.

PERKINS: And I'm not working seven days a week, you know, for the oil companies. I work hard, and I have worked hard all my life. Things are going to have to change.

JOHNS: Here, gas is $4.19 a gallon. And in this largely blue collar state, that's the same as a crippling shock pulsing through every aspect of life.

MARY MCLAIN, SINGLE MOTHER: Because everything goes up. When the gas goes up, everything else goes up. JOHNS: At an ice cream shop along West Virginia's Interstate 79, single mom Mary McLain is treating her daughter. But the real extravagance is a trip in the car, their first in five days.

MCLAIN: Because I can't afford to keep going and running, and doing things with my kids anymore.

JOHNS: McLain cut the extras and bought a hybrid, but many don't have those options.

For Dr. Rebecca Schmidt, gas prices are literally life and death.

DR REBECCA SCHMIDT, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: People are very, very reluctant to do anything that's not an absolute emergency when it involves driving somewhere.

JOHNS: West Virginia has a lot of roads and few clinics, if you're sick here, you have to drive. But some people who may need medical care are skipping it.

SCHMIDT: This is a real drain and really difficult for them. And they're going do without.

JOHNS: Schmidt herself drives hundreds of miles a month to check on patients, many of whom need kidney dialysis three times a week. Some of Dr. Schmidt's patients qualify for state transportation help. These days, that's life support.

JEFF STEELE, DIALYSIS PATIENT: I don't know what I would do, because, of course, if I wasn't getting dialysis, I would be dead.

JOHNS: Retirees Dennis and Jane Keller drive to the clinic. For them, it means 600 miles a month.

JANE KELLER, DIALYSIS PATIENT: This inflation is just too high for everybody. And our incomes and our Social Security doesn't meet the demand.

JOHNS: Here in West Virginia, gas prices have set up the economic perfect storm.

Joe Johns, CNN.


WHITFIELD: And I know it seems like a world away, but it was just two months ago when a cyclone hit Myanmar, hit it hard. Well our own Betty Nguyen makes a dangerous trip to that very isolated country to find out exactly what has been done to help the survivors there.


WHITFIELD: A helicopter crashed in South Korea has injured the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and 15 others. Reports say the chopper hit a mountain near Seoul as it attempted an emergency landing. Even though the copper reportedly caught fire on impact, there are no reported death. Reverend Moon and his wife, actually, was injured. They were taken to a hospital which is actually funded by the Unification Church which he founded. The hospital says that his injuries are not serious.

Myanmar, after the cyclone, schools in ruins as children return to their studies, our Betty Nguyen managed to get inside of that tightly close country. She filed this exclusive report from Bangkok, Thailand.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Myanmar government, all schools have reopened along the Irrawaddy Delta. And we did see students going to class even in villages that received very little aid. Still thousands of desks will remain empty, a painful reminder of the lives lost in the storm.

NGUYEN (voice-over): School has officially begun along the Irrawaddy Delta, even though few classrooms are still standing. Cyclone Nargis did more than destroy lives, it robbed many of a bright future.

This woman survived the tidal surge by grabbing onto a tree trunk. Today, her hands are wrapped tightly around a picture of her daughter killed in the cyclone.

She says she never imagined losing her. And even though, they're poor, they did their best to give her an education. After all, she was their only child.

Two weeks after the storm, they learned she passed her final exam and would have graduated high school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I couldn't help but cry out loud.

NGUYEN: Sadly, she isn't the only mother crying. Dozens died in this small village.

(on-camera): Her daughter attended this high school. As you can see, there's not much left. Some two months since the cyclone hit, they haven't even begun rebuilding because they're still waiting on materials and skilled workers.

(voice-over): And until it arrives, these piles of wood will stay right where the cyclone left them. In fact, very little aid has even reached this farming community. Yet, there is the sound of hope.

Thanks to UNICEF, work has begun on the elementary school. Eventually, books will be recovered from the rubble and placed back on these desks. And just maybe there will come a time when children can once again look out these windows and see better days.

(on camera): UNICEF is reporting some 4,000 schools were damaged in the storm. Tent schools have been set up in some villages; others have started class in monasteries. They're using whatever they can to bring some kind of normalcy back to their communities. Betty Nguyen, CNN, Bangkok.



WHITFIELD: Hi, 28 minutes after the hour, now. Happen right now across the world, a key in U.S. policy in Iran, up to a point. Undersecretary of state, William Byrne, sitting in as an observer only on nuclear talks between the European Union and Iran in Switzerland.

Iran, again, saying it won't stop uranium enrichment, but the two sides agreed to meet again in two weeks.

Senator Barack Obama is in Afghanistan. The first stop on a trip that will take him through the Middle East and Europe. The Democratic presidential candidate hoping to boost his foreign policy credentials ahead of the November elections.

CNN's Peter Bergen is a noted terrorism expert and he knows the country of Afghanistan very well. He is joining us now to talk a little bit about exactly what Senator Obama might expect to see while there.

Peter, you're joining us by phone. So, on the ground there, we understand that Obama is there and he has been meeting with people including U.S. officials. Realistically, is he getting a good view of Afghanistan and is he getting a clear picture of how the U.S. can impact hat country?

PETER BERGEN, TERRORISM ANALYST: Well he's here in Afghanistan for a short time, but I mean meeting with senior U.S. officials and travel out to Jalabad and east Afghanistan, which is close to the border with Pakistan which has been something of Senator Obama's been talking about for base (ph) policy towards Pakistan, perhaps cross border operations.

And so, the fact that he went out there I think is significant. He spoke at night (ph) in the Bagram Air Force base which is the main U.S. Air Force Base in the country. And so, he's -- you know, I mean he's getting obviously, it's a short visit. But apparently (ph), he's been in the country and presumably, it will be quite interesting.

WHITFIELD: Well, Peter, interesting too, after talking with our reporter Reza Sayah earlier in the hour, he also underscored that the Afghan people don't have a whole lot of confidence in the U.S. participation there.

So when you have a presidential contender like Barack Obama there, his view was Afghans feels like it's futile. There really is nothing to benefit the Afghan people. Is that what you've been learning as well?

BERGEN: Well, you know, I mean, most Afghans don't even know -- don't obviously know who Senator Obama is because they are -- it's a large country with very poor literacy. It's a very poor country and access to news is limited.

But my discussions with more educated Afghans, a lot of them actually are somewhat in favor of Senator Obama because they think that he's going to bring more attention to the country, more resources, more American soldiers and that also he might take a tougher line on Pakistan.

So -- but that's, you know, educated elite Afghans. That's a very small group in this country. But they seem to hold out some hope that Obama will bring additional resources to the country.

WHITFIELD: And Senator Obama will be overnighting there in Afghanistan. Peter, you've been to Afghanistan so many times. Give me an idea your assessment of this country. In the past few months, it seems that there's been an uptick in violence, particularly targeting whether it it be International Coalition Troops or a U.S. troops. What's your analysis of where this country is security-wise?

BERGEN: Well, it's definitely bearing down. I mean, you know, there's -- it's by any measure. I mean, IED attacks, suicide attacks, attacks on international forces. It's all heading the wrong direction and unfortunately, Afghans themselves are sort of seeming to lose hope both in the government and they're losing confidence in international forces.

So unfortunately, it's all -- it's not looking good and you know, there are -- there are some opportunities here in the sense that things are going so poorly in so many places that I think there'll be a major re-think hopefully in Western policy in this country which seem to be failing.

WHITFIELD: All right, Peter Bergen, thanks so much for that update out of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Meantime, it was just less than a week ago when U.S. troops were killed in a horrible battle that took place there in Afghanistan. Well, we have just received now audio interviews of two U.S. troops who survived last Sunday's battle in that country. That battle resulted in the deaths of nine U.S. troops. This just came in, this audio transcript. It's from the Web site of the military's "Stars and Stripes" newspaper.

Let's listen.


SGT. JACOB WALKER, 29 COMPANY C, 2ND BATTALION, 503RD INFANTRY REGIMENT (AIRBORNE): ...(INAUDIBLE). We were taking effective fire and we're trying to suppress them, so we were almost cyclic ourselves. They were cyclic with all their -- everything that -- they're auto -- you know, they were just continuous ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: everything they were doing. And we're trying to overcome, overpower them with our fire superior orders (ph). So, I got to four-six (ph) on the ground and I got down behind them all and I switched around drums on the sub and I put the seat belt on and like, hey, it looks like we're getting shot -- or southwest. So, I'm like all right, I'll get that direction.

This one somehow snuck through into our position and got me in the wrist and they sent us sixty (ph) rounds and I went straight to the ground and I had never been shot, never broken a bone before in my life.

I'm just -- I'm one of the luckier ones. I can live with my wounds and sure, I was wounded and I got my Purple Heart but there's these guys, like Stafford and some of those guys, those are -- the ones that had to really hold down their positions.

SPC. TYLER STAFFORD, 23 COMPANY C, 2ND BATTALION, 503RD INFANTRY REGIMENT (AIRBORNE): ...blowing out of that little bunker, and I know Sergeant Pitts (ph) was in there. I got blown out. And I just kind of dazed there for a second, I thought I was on fire, so I kind of rolled around a little bit.


STAFFORD: And I kind of came to and kind of -- just kind of looked for a second. And I remember seeing Zwilling. He was sitting there. He was -- had kind of a stunned look and that's when a grenade hit right beside me. And he was like -- and they hit us from lots of positions. They had us suppressed pretty good right from the start.

Phillips got a grenade and he looked at me and he's like, yes, but I'm going to help you. I'm not (ph) going to kill these guys first. So, he pulled the pin on the grenade and right as he threw it, an RPG came in. And it hit the same back wall because he's real close to the same back wall. He was sitting on his knees. Back, kind of hunkered over and he hit right beside him or right behind him.

And I saw the explosion. And I ducked my head in the tail of the RPG. And it came and smacked me in the helmet. And I kind of looked up and as the dust cleared, I could see Phillips was slumpd over. His chest was on his knees and his hands down by his side. I just kind of called out to him three or four times you know, and he didn't respond, he didn't move.

But I remember hearing the PL's voice. I remember there's a bunch of gunfire. I remember Rainey yelling out "he's right behind the sandbag" and then the PL was yelling at him too. And then, there's a whole bunch of gunfire. I couldn't see any of these and Sergeant Hovater (ph) got up and popped off a few -- a couple rounds. Couple of seconds, he poked his head back up and he came back there and he's like, they're dead and --


WHITFIELD: Again, those were taped interviews with two of the survivors of Sunday's battle in Afghanistan that killed nine U.S. troops. We heard the voices of Sergeant Jacob Walker and Specialist Tyler Stafford. The interviews are posted on the Web site of the military's "Stars and Stripes" newspaper.

Meantime, let's shift gears and talk about weather. Reynolds, we might as well get used to the name Cristobal because ...


WHITFIELD: ...that just might be the next named storm, maybe?

WOLF: Yes, you know you want to call -- you do want to call Cristobal.

WHITFIELD: Cristobal, that's it.

WOLF: You know you want to.

WHITFIELD: I like it.

WOLF: Yes, we don't come up with these names. It's a great name and thankfully --

WHITFIELD: And it's a nice international roster of names.

WOLF: It is, it's a wonderful thing. You know, the more we know, the better we are.


WOLF: Right now, what we know from the storm is that it is going to get a little bit stronger. Now, we've got good news, we've got some bad news about the storm. The good news: that the storm is expected to remain offshore. That's great news.

However, one of the bad aspects of it, it's not providing as much rainfall as we'd like in parts of the Southeast. You have to remember, parts of Georgia and the Carolinas is just desperate for some rainfall, and this is a big rainmaker. Problem is all of that rain is forming offshore.

Well, we have from the National Hurricane Center is the latest forecast. It brings the storm just off of the Eastern Seaboard, off the Outer Banks as we get into Sunday and Monday, and Tuesday. Again, as Fredricka mentioned, it's Tropical Depression 3. It may be known as Cristobal, as we get to the midday and afternoon hours. We're already in the midday here in the Eastern time zone.But as we get to, I'd say around 2:00, maybe 4:00, we may be calling this by a different name.

We do anticipate the storm to remain offshore, however you have to remember, this storm and its affects will be hundreds of miles wide. So, well inland in places like say Columbia, South Carolina, or Charlotte, you're going to have some strong winds.

This is the latest wind profile, the forecast we have. I want you to notice some of these colors that pop up, the orange, the yellows and the cape winds anywhere from 13 to 39 miles per hour. I think you'll notice some purple building in back to the Eastern part of the storm. Just the -- I guess the northeast and the southeast quadrant, which would indicate winds being a little but stronger, possibly approaching 60, 70 miles an hour. Not quite getting to hurricane force, but there is that potential. We'll watch it for you very carefully.

Another area of ptential is right over here. This is in parts of the Caribbean. Just to give you your bearings. You've got Haiti, you've got the Dominican Republic here. This is of course Jamaica just to the south of Washington. This cluster of thunderstorms, an area of possible, possible development later on today and over the next couple days. We'll also watch this for you very carefully.

OK, Fred, you're up to speed. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: Busy system out there.

WOLF: You bet.

WHITFIELD: Or systems. All right, thanks so much, Reynolds, appreciate it.

All right, on to legal cases now. Osama bin Laden's former driver, his former chauffeur is about to become the first Guantanamo prisoner to be tried for war crimes. The trial is set to begin Monday and it's a major test of how the U.S. prosecutes alleged terrorists. So, how will this trial test the system?

For answers, we turn to our legal guys. Avery Friedman is a civil rights attorney and law professor. Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: And Richard Herman is a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor. Good to see you as well.


WHITFIELD: All right, so a lot is riding on this case, that we can agree on, right?

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: So Richard, how do you find an impartial jury?

HERMAN: How do you find an impartial jury?

WHITFIELD: In this kind of case.

HERMAN: Yes, that's a great question, Fred. I don't think he's going to have an impartial jury.

This was Osama bin Laden's driver. And you know, in a lot of criminal cases, we can argue as a defense that the driver didn't know, or perhaps contraband was in the car. Here, he had two surface-to-air missiles in his car.


HERMAN: He's being charged with conspiracy and supporting terrorism. He's absolutely going to be convicted. When, how long? I don't know, but he's going down bad. It's the first case. It's an important case. I don't even think the court knows how they're going to proceed on this one. Everybody's waiting to see exactly how this is going to play out.

WHITFIELD: So, Avery, what you are look for? When we talk about a Supreme Court decision, which says you know, even Guantanamo Bay detainees are allowed or they should be receiving a fair trial and they should be receiving, you know, the right attorneys who are backing them as well, how do you guarantee that? And how do we know that this is a case that supports the Supreme Court's decision?

FRIEDMAN: Well, that's exactly what the federal judge said 24 hours ago, Fredricka. The eyes of the world, he said, are watching Guantanamo Bay and so, the question that this trial will present among others will be where there's evidence of coercion, is that going to be introduced?

Well, what the federal judge said Friday, late Friday afternoon was that look it, we are not going to outguess Congress. We are going to take a look at what's going on. But he gives a clue, Fredricka. He said that there are some startling departures. That's his language from due process. So I think, even if there is a conviction, and I agree with Richard, I think there will be. It's on it's way to the Court of Appeals.

WHITFIELD: Wow, this is going to be complicated. Something tells me it's not going to be a quick trial either.

FRIEDMAN: For sure.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, let's talk about another trial that a lot of folks were watching. A case, in fact, people were watching from the very start. We're talking about the Scott Peterson/Laci Peterson case.


WHITFIELD: Scott Peterson convicted of killing his pregnant wife, but now, the parents of Laci Peterson say we want him to go to justice, be brought to justice even further by taking him to civil court. So Avery, what are the chances of this being a successful pursuit for these parents?


WHITFIELD: Why put yourself through this again, in other words?

FRIEDMAN: I think it's going to be successful. You see, Scott Peterson is caught in a venus fly trap. What's going to happen is that they deposed him in San Quentin and they asked him about the murder, but you see, his problem is he can't say anything because of self-incrimination. So, because he failed to deny it, we're going to have a four or five-day trial starting on Monday morning.

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh.

FRIEDMAN: Look for a $5 million to $10 million civil verdict against Scott Peterson.

HERMAN: Fred, first of all --

WHITFIELD: OK, Richard -- yes, go ahead.

HERMAN: Yes. Fred, the case is on appeal and I'm telling you right now and you can take it and tape it, the case -- the criminal verdict's going to be reversed on appeal. There's going to be a new trial.


HERMAN: Absolutely in that case, absolutely. Critical errors made by the judge on that boat demonstration by the jurors. It's going to be reversed. Now, to allow this case ...

WHITFIELD: All right.

HERMAN: proceed civilly is outrageous. The civil judge should have stayed this civil trial pending a resolution of the appeal.



HERMAN: This is really unfair. I'm not saying I'm a fan of Peterson. I'm looking purely legal. It should have been stayed pending the appeal. He took the fifth and Avery's right. By taking the fifth ...


HERMAN:'s going to be construed against him at the trial.

WHITFIELD: Well, something tells me we're going to be talking about this case again next weekend ...


WHITFIELD: ...and that's what we're going to have to do because we're out of time on that topic.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, of course, please, right.

WHITFIELD: But let's about the Barbie versus Bratz doll.


WHITFIELD: Mattel -- this is a huge victory, Avery, for Mattel in fact ... FRIEDMAN: Yes.

WHITFIELD: ...because they won their argument that Bratz was kind of impinging and fringing upon their market. How does that happen?

FRIEDMAN: Well, it happened because a jury unanimously in federal court found that one of the former employees was coming up with the Bratz idea. What's on the line here is not $1 billion or $1 million, $1 billion in licensing of profits and money. And frankly, I think the jury did exactly right thing. The law worked in this case.



WHITFIELD: So Richard, if I work for a company, I come up with this brilliant idea. I leave the company, decide to start my own business somewhere else. I now still have to owe my former employer, you know, some rights to my product that I created?

HERMAN: When you are employed and you come up with some idea during the course of your employment, that belongs to your employer.

FRIEDMAN: Right, right.

HERMAN: You can't just take that and bring it to a competitor and make $30 million off the bat on something like that, which this guy did.


HERMAN: Now, I looked at my Barbie and Bratz dolls and they are very similar, Fred. I got to tell you, Avery, they're very similar. I think the jury came down right and I think MGA is going to pay a lot of money.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I think -- I think you like the Bratz better than the Barbie. I'm sure, there's no doubt about it.

HERMAN: Absolutely, absolutely.

WHITFIELD: I'm a Barbie girl. I've always liked the Barbies, but you know ...

HERMAN: Well, you are Barbie.

WHITFIELD:'s a generational thing.

HERMAN: Come on, you are Barbie.

WHITFIELD: No, no, no, no, I'm not! You all are cute.

HERMAN: You are Barbie.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much. FRIEDMAN: You set it up, Fredricka. You set it up.

WHITFIELD: I know, I should have just kept my mouth shut. That's the problem, I'm always putting my foot in my mouth.

All right, you guys, good to see you. We'll talk again next weekend.

FRIEDMAN: We'll see you soon. Take care.

HERMAN: Have a good weekend.

WHITFIELD: Excellent.

All right, well, fact-finding trip or photo-op? We'll get some perspective on Barack Obama's trip to Afghanistan.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk politics. We love to talk politics with our senior political analyst Bill Schneider. He's with us now.

All right, Bill, let's talk about Barack Obama one more time. Of course, he's in Afghanistan. Certainly, he's getting the headlines. But does this guarantee a win/win for him, that he is now talking foreign policy by being somewhere else?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it doesn't guarantee anything. If he makes any missteps, then John McCain's campaign will be very quick to point out that he's inexperienced. He doesn't know as much about national security. John McCain, that's always been his strong suit. I think McCain thinks he's kind of in a bind, perhaps of a lose/lose situation.


SCHNEIDER: Because if he meets with the military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan and he changes his views, the Republicans are going to say he's flip-flopping. And if he doesn't change his views and sticks by his decisions, then the Republicans are going to say, well, he didn't listen to anybody. So, he's got to be very careful in how he finesses this trip.

WHITFIELD: Oh, interesting. So now, what about McCain? He's focusing on domestic issues this weekend. So, will it be tough for him to upstage Obama especially when all eyes are now on Obama and whether he'll say anything that contradicts what he has said before about Afghanistan or Iraq?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it'll be tough because the spotlight will be on Obama. Once he goes to Europe and Israel and the West Bank, the entire media spotlight will be on Barack Obama. In fact, the anchors of all three broadcast networks have been invited to accompany him. And each of them has been given one night's exclusive interview with Obama to make sure he gets lots of attention. What can McCain do? Well, he's concentrating on an area where he has been at a disadvantage, namely the economy. Arguing that, you know, he's talking about issues that are very important to Americans. But he also says there are no restrictions now on drawing contrasts. That's the polite term for negative campaigning, while Obama is overseas, because the Democrats criticized McCain while he was out of the country. So, he will be very quick to point out anytime he believes that Obama has made a misstep.

WHITFIELD: Oh, interesting. Now, speaking of flip-flopping, is the Bush administration flip-flopping as it comes to Iran with its under-secretary of the State Department, now -- or of the Secretary of State, now talking, or listening in on talks in Geneva about Iran?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it certainly looks that way. They are talking to Iran in Geneva. They say it's only a one-time meeting, it doesn't really mean a reversal of position. But the United States is talking to Iran without Iran meeting American preconditions and you can be certain that the Democrats are going to point out -- point that out as a flip-flop by the Bush administration and force them to explain it or defend it.

They also say that they will now accept a time horizon. A very vague, sort of timetable for withdrawing troops, or at least turning over security to Iraqi officials. So, on a lot of issues, the Bush administration is moving in a different direction than what we've heard in the past.

WHITFIELD: And now --

SCHNEIDER: You could call that a flip-flop and I'm sure some people will.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and now, we also know what it means, talking without talking.


WHITFIELD: Talking but no talking.


All right, well, thanks for talking to me. Bill Schneider, appreciate it. Always good to see you.

All right, well, Tiger Woods, not necessarily talking and not on the leaderboard either. His fellow golfers, what do they think? Are they happy or are they disappointed?


WHITFIELD: OK, let's talk a little sports, shall we? The British Open without Tiger Woods? Oh, it's just not the same.

Justin Armsden reports from Southport.


JUSTIN ARMSDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, some of the biggest names in golf are here at Royal Birkdale, but the big story heading into the Open championship wasn't about who was here, but who wasn't: Tiger Woods.

STEVE STRICKER, RANKED 8TH IN WORLD: He's the No. 1 player in the world and when you have your best athlete not showing up at an event and especially the major tournament that this is, it's going to draw attention no matter if he's here or not.

ARMSDEN (voice-over): Woods has won two of the last three Open championships, leading some to speculate that without having to worry about the world's best player, it will be easier to win this tournament.

JIM FURYK, 2003 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: I'd have a hard time getting up in the morning looking at myself in the mirror if that's the way I was thinking.

ERNIE ELS, 3 CAREER MAJORS: It will be a little strange not to see Tiger Woods on the leaderboard because he's there just about every week, you know, and especially at majors.

ROCCO MEDIATE, 23 YEARS ON TOUR: This is no disrespect, this is just the truth. Whoever's in there on Saturday and Sunday or whenever the, you know, coming down the last nine holes or whatever it is and leading the golf tournament, right around there, there's one difference: you don't got to look him in the eye.

GEOFF OGILVY, 2006 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: It's a little bit of dent in the field, but it doesn't make it any less of a tournament and I'm sure it doesn't make it any easier to win.

ARMSDEN: There's no denying Tiger's presence on the PGA Tour has increased the popularity of golf by massive proportions, both in the U.S. and around the world. So, while Woods spends the next eight months recovering from injury, questions remain about the impact that will have for the sport and the fans.

TIM FINCHEM, PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER: When you lose the No. 1 player, the No. 1 athlete on the globe, there's no good news about it. It's going to be a negative in television. I think the good news if there is any is that it allows these other players to shine.

JACK NICKLAUS, 18 CAREER MAJORS: That's one of the things that's probably hurting the game right now, that there is only one player that's carrying the game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's a disappointment, you know, that he's not here because it certainly raises the level of everybody's expectations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In some way, it's good, because it means there are less crowds, there are less photographers blocking your view because some point, if Tiger Woods comes around, there are an amount of people that come with him. It kind of spoils it for some of the other spectators. So, I'm sorry he's got a bad knee, and I wish him well, but I'm actually not missing him.

SERGIO GARCIA, RANKED 7TH IN THE WORLD: The majors and the tournaments, they are bigger than all of us, so you know, things are going to keep going, no matter -- no matter who's missing.

ARMSDEN: Of course, the good news for the tour is that any negative impact Tiger's absence may have, it will be short-lived. It's expected that he'll return to the course in time for next year's Masters.

Justin Armsden, CNN, Southport, England.


WHITFIELD: Would you do this, sell your house to feed the hungry? Meet a family that has done just that.


WHITFIELD: An Atlanta family is drastically scaling back in order to give back and they hope that maybe you could do the same. They've decided to sell the mansion that they have called home in order to help feed the hungry in Africa.

Rusty Dornin reports.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When 15-year-old Hannah Salwen brought friends to her home in Atlanta, they'd often be stunned.

HANNAH SALWEN, HANNAH'S LUNCHBOX: They would walk into the house and say, wow, you live here?

DORNIN: For nine years, the Salwen family lived in this 1912 mansion, five bedrooms, eight fireplaces, a kitchen to die for and even an elevator in her bedroom. But then one day, the teens saw a Mercedes stopped on the street next to a homeless man.

H. SALWEN: And I said to my dad, well, if that guy didn't have such a nice car and that guy over there could have a meal?

DORNIN: And so began the amazing tale of what the family calls Hannah's Lunchbox.

KEVIN SALWEN, HANNAH'S LUNCHBOX: We stopped and paused and thought about what are the things that could really make a difference in the world?

DORNIN: Her brother Joseph explains their dream on a YouTube video he made for a contest.

JUSTIN SALWEN, HANNAH'S LUNCHBOX: We dream of selling this house, moving in to one half its size and donating one half of the sales price to the needy people of Africa.

DORNIN: And move, they did, into a house less than half the size of their 6,500-square foot mansion, which is still for sale. Next, they had to decide who would get half the proceeds from the house sale, $800,000.

H. SALWEN: We kind of decided as a group that we were most interested in hunger.

DORNIN: After nearly a year of research, they decided to pick the Hunger Project. Charity officials say the money will be used to help these villagers in Ghana grow food, build schools and clinics, touching the lives of nearly 20,000 people.

While this house was a dream of a lifetime for Joan Salwen ...

(on camera): Hard to give up?


DORNIN (voice-over): It was her idea to sell.

JOAN SALWEN: It was just kind of a challenge, it was a test almost to see how committed are we? You know, how serious are these kids about what we should do and they all loved it (ph) and there we were.

DORNIN: It's a tough market to sell any house, let alone a nearly $1.8 million one. It's been on the market for more than a year.

K. SALWEN: Roughly, six or seven hours a day ...

H. SALWEN: That's it?

K. SALWEN: the villages.

DORNIN: This week, the Salwens will leave for Ghana. The family of four ready to give away half their American dream to help transform the lives of tens of thousands of others.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Atlanta.