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AMERICAN MORNING

Hurricane Dolly Intensifies; Obama in the West Bank, Meets with Palestinian President; San Francisco Votes in November to Name Sewer Plant After Bush; T. Boone Pickens Pitches His Plan to Reduce America's Energy Dependence

Aired July 23, 2008 - 07:00   ET

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


DEE DEE MYERS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": It's gone really well so far. He still has a few days left. Something could happen that could change the dynamic of all of this. But so far, I think this has been everything and more than the Obama campaign had hoped.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Writer Thomas Patterson had a very good book called "Out of Order" wrote about the bandwagon effect.

MYERS: Right. Right.

ROBERTS: You build them up and then you tear them down.

MYERS: Exactly.

ROBERTS: And, of course, that's always -- that's always a danger for somebody in Obama's position which is, he's now been built up. What's the next step? We'll see.

ROBERTS: We'll see what happens.

MYERS: It's a long campaign. So --

ROBERTS: A long way to go. Dee Dee Myers, it's great to see you.

MYERS: Good to see, John.

ROBERTS: Thanks for coming in this morning -- Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the top stories at the top of the hour. And the latest advisory just issued minutes ago on Hurricane Dolly. Dolly still packing 85 miles an hour winds and could grow to a Category Two by the time the eye reaches land later today. Residents are boarding up windows, and officials are worried that heavy flooding and storm surges could break the Rio Grande levees.

Meantime, roads are packed in Mexico. Authorities there are planning to move 23,000 people into shelters. CNN is your hurricane headquarters and you get live reports from Texas in just a moment.

President Bush heads to the Pentagon today where he'll discuss moving more troops to Afghanistan. Violence there has increased leading to calls that more units are needed. But President Bush is worried that moving troops out of Iraq will be a setback to the progress there. Bush will meet with Defense Chief Robert Gates and other military leaders.

Also, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising this past weekend's sit down with the State Department's third highest ranking diplomat, William Burns. He called the discussion a "positive step forward." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Tehran was not serious during those talks with the U.S. and other nations in Switzerland. Iran now has less than two weeks to accept an incentives package in exchange for ending its nuclear activity.

And back to the breaking news right now. Hurricane Dolly strengthening as it batters the Texas coast. Dolly's eye is expected to make land fall around midday today along the heavily populated Rio Grande Valley. And CNN is watching the storm from every angle.

Our Ed Lavandera in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. Reynolds Wolf live on South Padre Island, Texas, and Rob Marciano is in the weather center in Atlanta and he is tracking that storm for us.

But let's start where it's windiest, and right now that is Reynolds Wolf in South Padre Island. Tell us what it feels like out there, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're just getting blasted right now. It's really gotten, I'd say, considerably more intense just in the last couple of minutes. We obviously have one of the bands coming through.

We have viewers at home who are just waking up and joining us. You can see the wind just going horizontally. The rain rather being carried by the wind. And speaking of that rainfall, there's a potential that we could see anywhere from six to 10 inches of rainfall in this area. Some places possibly in excess of a foot of rainfall.

The storm is on its way out in the gulf. Certainly there's a possibility of intensifying as it gets closer to land. As I mentioned when these storms get closer to land there's always that possibility that we could have a couple of tornadoes. There is a tornado watch in fact for this region as well as a flood watch. And, of course, a hurricane warning is in effect, too.

No surprise with these kind of winds -- if you want to ask a question, that would be great but I'm telling you, I don't think Dolly's going to let me hear it. So what I'm going to do for now is I'm going to send it back to you in the studio, guys.

CHETRY: All right, Reynolds Wolf out there on South Padre Island for us. I won't ask you a question. Don't worry. We're going to head to Rob Marciano in the CNN weather center. And you can see just how much of that weather Reynolds is experiencing there on South Padre Island, and you're tracking it for us right now, where it's headed and how strong it could grow throughout the day.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's definitely organizing. We've seen the lowest pressure so far. Just getting a message now from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft that has just exited the storm with now a pressure drop down to 972. So that's a formula bar pressure drop here since the last go round.

Winds still holding at 85 miles an hour, but that could be bumped up. We see the pressure drop and that will universally proportionately kick up the winds. There's your eye. You see it popping out there the last couple of frames to the satellite imagery. They're also showing signs of organization.

The official track brings it somewhere around Brownsville probably around midday today. But I think the eye wall will likely be scraping the coastline right where Reynolds Wolf is in the next few hours. So be aware of that.

A number of threats with this. We've got storm surges that's going to run up four to six feet higher in some spots. We're going to have winds and winds that will be strong enough to do some damage, certainly to knock some power out at the very least. And in this watch box, typically the northern quadrants or the right quadrant of these storms as they reach inland can spin up tornadoes.

So a tornado watch box in effect until 11:00 today and we'll keep you posted on that front. And then here's the Rio Grande. And with tremendous amounts of rainfall expected, this storm will slow down and these tropical systems always carry a huge amount of rain. So that's going to be an ongoing threat with the potential for inland flooding.

There you see it, Kiran. I mean, the front eye wall almost on shore now. Probably just in the next few hours we'll start to see the impacts of that with hurricane force winds which, by the way, extend outward from this eye about 25 miles in all directions. Pretty impressive storm that we haven't seen in several years.

Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: Rob Marciano, thanks.

And let's head back out into it with Reynolds Wolf who is in South Padre Island, Texas. And he is getting some of those bands now whipping him around. Go ahead, Reynolds. Tell us more about what's going on there.

WOLF: Well, one thing that's going on here, as you can imagine, the wind is intensifying. We got one of the teeter (ph) bands coming through. One thing that's interesting, I know Rob knows this well. Rob has experienced it so many times and he'll tell you that you really don't have to be in the eye to really experience some of the rough stuff.

For example, back in 2005, a hurricane passed about 100 miles south of here, made land fall about 100 miles south. There's plenty of rainfall. You had plenty of wind up in this region so although we really focus on the eye, remember, this is a storm that's hundreds of miles wide. So you can be far away from the center and still get blasted. That's the story here that we've been dealing with. You know, it's kind of funny you have a little bit in terms of spurts. The wind really picks up at times like that where it's really impossible to hear. Well, that was right on cue. But the rain carried by these winds, it's almost like -- it feels like sand. It's just as very intense. And tonight we're going to deal with, of course, throughout much of the morning throughout the day. We'll send it back to you in the studio.

CHETRY: Reynolds, can you hear me?

WOLF: Yes, I can.

CHETRY: Maybe you can explain for the viewers the nature of South Padre Island, too, because it doesn't really have much protection. It's right out there on the water.

WOLF: I'm sorry, Kiran. I heard part of your question. You have to remember, I've got half the Gulf of Mexico in my right ear.

CHETRY: And that's the exact problem.

WOLF: Hold on one second. Sorry, America. Let's try that one more time.

CHETRY: I was asking you to explain the nature of South Padre Island. There is no real protection. I mean, it's just right out there with the water.

WOLF: That's an excellent point. You're right. I mean, it's just a sand spin. I mean, there really is -- you don't have any mountain range, you don't have anything part of any topography that really shield parts of the island.

Speaking of this island, you have to remember also, that the bridges that we have that connect this island to the mainland, they tend to -- they close the bridges down once winds exceed 39 miles per hour. Once the tropical storm force lands, if you're on this island, you're not going anywhere. You're staying put.

This crew that we're with this morning, we're staying here. We're not going anywhere because of the winds, and I would say safely in excess of 39 miles per hour. Let's wrap it up and send it back to you, Kiran.

CHETRY: Thanks, Reynolds Wolf. Reynolds Wolf on South Padre Island. He's about 30 miles east of where this hurricane is expected too. The eye of the hurricane is expected to make land fall in Brownsville, Texas. That's a little bit more inland to the west there. And we're continuing to follow it with our weather center throughout the day -- John.

ROBERTS: It's seven minutes after the hour now and to our other top story. And more breaking news this morning. Barack Obama pledging today to keep a close relationship with Israel. And he says the Jewish State security will be a top priority if he wins the White House.

Obama is in the West Bank at the moment meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. A few hours earlier he met with Israeli president Shimon Peres. About an hour from now, he's going to get on a helicopter and head to the town of Sderot. That's right down there hard against the border with Gaza.

That's where our Candy Crowly is this morning.

Candy, Senator Obama really walking a fine line here in terms of trying to satisfy the Israeli side and try to make good with the Palestinians as well?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and also to talk to American voters back home, John. As you know, the Jewish vote, the American/Jewish vote small but very powerful in critical states like Florida. So there's really three audiences here. And right now, as you said, Barack Obama is in Ramallah.

And this is the trickiest part here. This is the part that both the Palestinians and the Israelis will be watching. Because what the Palestinians want to know specifically is a little bit about Barack Obama's original remark that Jerusalem should remain one city, should not be divided, which really upset the Palestinians who felt it meant that they had no claim to Jerusalem, which is, you know, is at the heart of the dispute here.

So the Palestinians are looking for some reassurance. But too much reassurance and Obama could upset the Israeli. So he is playing to three audiences in very, very diplomatic treacherous territory right now. But so far, he has received a very warm welcome from Israeli officials. And we are waiting to hear how that meeting in Ramallah comes out.

ROBERTS: We should mention, Candy, for our viewers that the town that you're in, Sderot, there, really is ground zero on the Israeli side, at least, in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. There was a cease fire that was declared a few weeks ago. What's the situation there on the ground these days? Is it still pretty quiet or do those Qassam rockets still get fired in Sderot?

CROWLEY: A little bit, but I am told here by our troops on the ground that, in fact, it has been better over the past several weeks as you know. There has been a cease fire here in Sderot.

I want to just show you something really quickly here so our viewers get a sense. We are less than a mile from the border where those rockets come across. We're at the police station here in Sderot where they keep the old missiles, in fact, the old rockets and date them. We are told that since the Israelis pulled out of Gaza in August of 2005, more than 5,000 rockets and mortar fire have come into this city.

So obviously, John, Barack Obama is coming here as most American politicians do because it is a way for the Israelis to show just how very near they feel the danger and why, of course, Israeli security is very paramount and why they want the kind of reassurances that you talked about that Barack Obama made today about Israel being top on his list.

ROBERTS: And quite a striking scene there. Racks and racks of those Qassam rockets that have fallen on Sderot.

Candy Crowley for us this morning.

Candy, thanks very much. We'll check back with you in just a little while.

And Barack Obama's trip to the West Bank comes as he and Senator John McCain engage in a bitter face off over the troop surge in Iraq. Obama was asked repeatedly on the "CBS Evening News" whether the surge has worked. He says he was against it from the start and he still has not changed his mind. McCain seized on that in a separate interview in the program saying the senator still doesn't get it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM "CBS EVENING NEWS")

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama does not understand the challenges we face. And he did not understand the need for the surge. And the fact that he did not understand that and still denies that it has succeeded, I think the American people will make a judgment.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no doubt that our troops helped to reduce violence. Those additional troops could have gone into Afghanistan. That money also could have been used to shore up a declining economic situation in the United States. That money could have been applied to having a serious energy security plan so that we were reducing our demand on oil, which is helping to fund the insurgence in many countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: McCain went on to call Obama's view of the surge "really quite a commentary."

CHETRY: Well, here's what we're working on for you this morning. More airline turbulence. Another big carrier sees big losses from sky high fuel costs. We're going to see how that affects you the next time you take to the skies.

Big stink.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD EPSTEIN, SAN FRANCISCO REPUBLICAN PARTY: It's embarrassing for the city. You know, we already have a reputation as being full of nuts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The controversial plan in San Francisco to plaster President Bush's name all over a sewage treatment plant. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STACEY REINECCIUS, ORGANIZED INITIATIVE: It's representative of the quality of his thinking, his judgment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Breaking news right now. And Hurricane Dolly getting stronger as it batters the Texas coast. The storm packing 85-mile-an- hour winds. It could become a Category Two storm by the time that the eye reaches land. That will be just a little bit later on today. Looks like it's on track to hit the Texas coast just south of South Padre Island and then go inland just a few miles with Brownsville, Texas, right in the cross hairs.

And we're watching it all for you this morning. Stay with us on CNN. It's your hurricane center -- Kiran.

CHETRY: John, thanks. We have Stephanie Elam in for Ali Velshi today "Minding Your Business." And a little bit of a rally for airline stocks?

STEPHANIE ELAM, BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Definitely.

CHETRY: You sure have good news coming out of the sector usually.

ELAM: I know. And when I say rally, like seriously, a really big rally. Of course, if you keep in mind where those stock prices are you could kind of see why we're talking about this as a big rally.

But yesterday, United Airlines was up about 69 percent. And a lot of this has to do with the fact that the company came out with their earnings report. And when they came out they actually reported better than expected results. They also said that they were going to cut more jobs. They're looking at about 7,000 jobs that they're going to cut there.

This is all ways that United is trying to cope with the situation. We know fuel prices are a huge problem for them. So they're saying on top of that they're going to retire 100 of their gas guzzling planes as well and also get rid of some of their regional routes. That's good news for the planes. It's bad news for people who live in some of those regional airports, obviously. Now, they'll have to drive farther to get there.

But all of this is what United is doing. There's also comments coming out of the CEO of U.S. Airways, Doug Parker, saying that the industry could actually be profitable by 2009. But the whole airline sector is actually rallying before he even said that.

And there's a few things that may be contributing to this. Fuel prices as you know have been dropping. We were just saying earlier that they're down about $17 from their high hit on July 14th. That's part of the reason here.

Airlines are cutting down on their capacity. That's good for them because that could potentially mean they could raise fares. That's again, bad for us, good for them. And people continue to book flights, which means as they go into the fall, the airlines could continue to make money.

And, you know, that other thing that they've been doing, charging you to check a bag, all of that stuff, playing into there as well. So that could bring in millions of extra dollars so that could help the airlines as well.

And one last thing, all six airlines so far have reported earnings. All of them have beaten the street with their expectations with their numbers. So --

CHETRY: As you said, good for them, not so good for the flyers.

ELAM: Yes.

CHETRY: But they can't go belly up either.

ELAM: Not right now. We don't need that. We don't want them to go away.

CHETRY: Stephanie, thanks.

ELAM: Sure.

CHETRY: John?

ROBERTS: A parting shot from a place that was never, ever really fond of President Bush. San Francisco moves closer to naming a sewer plant after the president. Is it a political statement or an outright slam? We'll ask people who'd be paying for it.

And Rob Marciano waiting for the latest hurricane advisory as Dolly closes in on the coast of Texas. He's with us from Atlanta. Hey, Rob.

MARCIANO: Hey, John. Hurricane Hunter aircraft in and out of this thing all morning long and it continues to intensify as it heads towards the coastline. Brownsville in the cross hairs. We'll talk more Dolly when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Nineteen minutes after the hour. On the day that America chooses its next president, San Francisco voters will decide whether to memorialize the Bush presidency by naming a sewage treatment plant after him. Not everyone in the liberal leaning city thinks it's particularly funny. CNN's Dan Simon has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: Four, three, two --

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A lot of things are named after U.S. presidents.

ANNOUNCER: Lift off of Discovery!

SIMON: There is the Kennedy Space Center and the Reagan National Airport, among the countless streets and public schools named after our top office holders.

SIMON (on camera): But a sewage treatment plant? Well, voters in San Francisco are being asked to consider naming this one after President George W. Bush.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN: I just don't think it dignifies a response.

SIMON (voice-over): That's the White House's position. But as for the San Francisco organizers who dreamed up the idea?

SIMON (on camera): So why a sewage plant?

STACEY REINECCIUS, ORGANIZED INITIATIVE: It's representative of the quality of his thinking, his judgment and his capability.

SIMON (voice-over): These guys collected 12,000 signatures, more than enough to force the measure on the November ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The intent is to make people think and discuss what's happened over the past eight years.

SIMON: It might seem like a complete joke, but this is San Francisco. Former Mayor Willie Brown says he's voting yes.

WILLIE BROWN, FORMER SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: I wouldn't be caught voting any other way. You think I want to be run out of this town?

SIMON: But workers at the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant, that's what it's called now, think a name change undermines their important work. Critics also fret about the cost to San Francisco taxpayers. A new sign, brochures and stationery cost money.

TYRONE JUE, PLANT SPOKESMAN: This initiative is going to cost about $50,000. Just to change the naming of this facility to the George W. Bush Sewage Treatment Plant.

SIMON: And the San Francisco Republican Party? Well, they say it stinks, too.

HOWARD EPSTEIN, SAN FRANCISCO REPUBLICAN PARTY: It's embarrassing for the city. You know, we already have a reputation as being full of nuts. And this just emphasizes that.

SIMON: But in a city where only nine percent of the voters are Republican, the measure has an excellent shot at passing. And if it does, the George W. Bush Sewage Plant will become a reality when he leaves office.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: And America's dependence on foreign oil. It's the plan that billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens brought to Capitol Hill yesterday. What was the reaction? He's going to be joining us live to talk about it.

Burning mad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as he reached the rubber mat, he screamed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Parents on fire over playgrounds that are sending their kids to the burn unit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it doesn't have to be a torture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, not at all. Not at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. BOONE PICKENS, OILMAN: I'm T. Boone Pickens. I've been an oilman my whole life, but this is one emergency we can't drill our way out of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: That advertisement has been running on many networks including CNN. It's part of T. Boone Pickens' campaign to curb American's dependence on foreign oil. And yesterday, the billionaire oilman took his case to the Senate Homeland Security Committee where he renewed his call to shift to other energy sources.

T. Boone Pickens joins us once again. Boone, it's good to see you as always.

T. BOONE PICKENS, FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, BP CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: You know, a lot of people are remarking that you're saying a lot of awfully unusual things for an oilman. I mean, it sort of puts you in the same ballpark as Al Gore here, who wants to get us mostly off of a carbon-based fuel system. Why?

PICKENS: Well, Al and I talked that Al is working on global warming. And I told Al, I said, that's page two for me. I believe global warming is occurring, but I've got to do something about the $700 billion a year we're spending for foreign oil. And we are importing 70 percent of our -- almost 70 percent of our oil now. And those are page one for me. And that's what I'm working on.

ROBERTS: You know, you're pretty good at predicting the run up in the price of oil. In an interview we did in 2004, you said it was going to go to $50. Earlier this year you said it was going to hit $100. If we don't do something, where is it going to go?

PICKENS: If we don't do something, yesterday I said, well, I believe it's over at the Democratic Caucus and they said, where's it going to go in 10 years?

And I said $300. I mean, you got it. I'm not kidding you. We have to do something about the 70 percent we're importing. They know, they, with the oil know we, that need the oil, are stuck.

ROBERTS: What happens to the American economy if it goes to $300 a barrel?

PICKENS: Oh, the American economy right now is suffering for the price of oil. No question. But here you can see we're using 25 percent of all the oil in the world. We only have three percent of the reserves, and we have four percent of the people. And so we are the big user.

ROBERTS: We're seeing pictures behind you here of windmills blowing in the wind. You've got a huge project underway in west Texas, but you want the project to be even bigger than that. You want to see windmill farms all the way from west Texas up to the Canadian border. How could that help us get off foreign oil?

PICKENS: Well, that way, if you put that much wind into the power generation, then you can release natural gas for power generation. And natural gas can go to transportation fuel.

Natural gas is better fuel than gasoline, for instance. It's cheaper by half. It's cleaner. It's domestic. It's ours, American, and not imported.

ROBERTS: So this idea of getting electrical generation off of natural gas, freeing that up for transportation, sounds like a good one. But you do have some critic. Gal Luft, who is an energy security analyst, testified before the Homeland Security Committee after you did. Here's what he said about that plan.

PICKENS: Good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAL LUFT, INSTITUTE FOR THE ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL SECURITY: Shifting our transportation sector from oil to natural gas is like jumping from the frying pan to the fire. This is a spectacularly bad idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So he's saying that what you're doing is you're trading one finite resource, oil, for another one, natural gas. And most of the natural gas is still in the hands of the Russians, the Iranians, Saudi Arabia. We still get a lot of our natural gas from overseas.

PICKENS: Oh, no, no, no, no. No. We're we -- we have abundant natural gas in the country. No, it's our fuel.

ROBERTS: So that's a specious argument?

PICKENS: Oh, yes. If I could face him I'd say, OK, what's your plan? You know, what are you going to do what -- you know, to beat my deal?

My deal, I'm working with American energy. I'm not importing natural gas. So -- and here we have. We've doubled our natural gas reserves in five years. It's unbelievable what our industry has done for the country.

ROBERTS: You met with the Democratic Caucus last night. You're meeting with the Republican Caucus today. Do you get a real sense of urgency among members of Congress that we need to do something? What about the presidential candidates? Have you talked to them?

PICKENS: Not yet. I've asked them. I said, let's the three of us sit down. This is not a partisan situation. It's like war. Let's sit down and figure out what we're going to do with this. And I think I know more about it than anybody else.

ROBERTS: You do have a little bit of experience.

PICKENS: Yes. About 100 years. But, you know, if we -- if I could sit down with them and we talk about it in a complete nonpartisan setting, I'll be glad to share with them everything I have and what I think could happen.

ROBERTS: We'll keep watching this. Boone Pickens, it's always good to see you.

PICKENS: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Thanks for coming in, sir.

PICKENS: Good.

ROBERTS: Kiran?

CHETRY: And coming up on 30 minutes past the hour. Right now, Barack Obama is in the West Bank. He's meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Earlier he sat down with a number of Israeli leaders including President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.

The presumptive Democratic nominee has promised to make Middle East peace a top priority if he's elected. This leg of his trip is one of the trickiest because of past statements that may have offended both Israelis and Palestinians.

"Vanity Fair" posting a mock cover of John McCain and Cindy McCain on its Web site, a response to the "New Yorker" cover which came under fire for its caricature of Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.

"Vanity Fair's" illustration shows the McCain fist bumping and Cindy holding an armful of prescription drug bottles. "Vanity Fair" says it has no intention of actually putting the cover in its August issue.

Four sexual abuse charges against polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs this morning. A Texas grand jury has indicted Jeffs and four of his followers for sexually assaulting girls under 17 years old. One of Jeffs' followers is also indicted on a bigamy charge. Jeffs was already convicted in Utah as an accomplice to rape. He's facing charges in Arizona for conducting underage marriages.

Some live pictures now coming out of Ramallah actually where Barack Obama just finished a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, John.

ROBERTS: Yes. Let's go to that live.

Part of our breaking news coverage this morning of Senator Obama in the Middle East. He's at the government headquarters in Ramallah where he met with President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. The meeting lasted probably an hour or so, maybe a little more than that. Don't know the content of what was talked about but obviously a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis would be topic number one.

And Senator Obama has in the past said some things the Palestinians liked, but recently speaking before the America-Israel political action committee here in Washington he said something that angered President Abbas when he said that Jerusalem will always be the capital of Israel undivided. And, of course, the Palestinians not only want to see a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis, but they also want to see a division of Jerusalem. They're laying claim to large parts of east Jerusalem. They see that as a historic Palestinian capital. So that statement from Senator Obama cause a little bit of consternation there among the Palestinian leadership. Hopefully we'll find out as the day wears on what was said about that.

From here, by the way, from Ramallah, he's going to travel back into Israel. He's going to get on a helicopter and he's going to go south to a town of Sderot, which is just a little bit north of the border with Gaza there. That's really ground zero, as we were saying earlier with our Candy Crowley who's there, in the fight, at least on the Israeli side in the fight between Israel and Hamas.

For years Kasam rockets have flown into Sderot, a lot of them hitting homes, some of them hitting schools as well. There's that massive display of suspended Kasam rockets that Candy showed us. And that's part of what Senator Obama's going to see when he heads there by helicopter in just a few minutes' time. Kiran. CHETRY: And just a whirlwind trip and keeping time to everything. That was about a 45 minute meeting there and now he's heading back, as you said, to Israel on this 36-hour whirlwind tour of the Middle East. We'll continue to follow it up for you.

We also have other breaking news this morning. If you just joined us at the top of the hour, you saw our Reynolds Wolf just getting blown around by the outer band of Hurricane Dolly. Dolly still a category one storm, 85 mile an hour winds. Possibility as it gets closer and closer to shore it could actually jump up to a category two. We have Reynolds Wolf live for us in South Padre Island, Texas.

Our Ed Lavandera is standing by as well for us. We're going to get to him in a moment. And Rob Marciano watching things in the CNN Weather Center.

First, Reynolds Wolf, pretty rough a half hour ago you were talking about some of those beater bands as they are known as, coming and getting you. How is it now?

WOLF: Still getting plenty intense. But that is anticipated as the storm gets a bit closer. What's interesting about this is that we're being affected by the top half of the storm, the fury of this storm. Let's say you're watching at home, think of a giant circle. Then you cut it in half. Then the top half is the area that is really affecting this part of south Padre Island.

Speaking of South Padre, speaking of Texas, Governor Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, 14 counties in this state disaster areas and yet the storm hasn't come on shore yet. When it does we're expecting more rainfall to the tune of anywhere from six to ten inches of rainfall. And then inland we could see those numbers climb up even more with the potential of well over a foot in spots like Brownsville, Texas.

Now, keep in mind, back in 1967 we had hurricane Bula that made land fall just to the south of this very area. The result of that storm was about three feet of rainfall. We're talking 36 inches of rainfall that fell in a very quick time. Now, if this storm, which is following a very similar path to Bula, if it moves into the same area, the big question is will the levees in areas like Brownsville, will they be able to hold back that kind of water? That's a great question.

Now, I can tell you just over the last 24 to 36 hours, residents in places like McGowan, places like Brownsville were really upping the sandbagging efforts, working around the clock trying to really reinforce many of those levees. It's going to be a test of wills between the heavy rainfall and the storm and those levees.

It's going to be interesting to see how well that pans out. Again, wind keeps coming in, but we're going to stay put. We're stuck here on the island. As I mentioned, the bridges that connect this island to the mainland all shut off. No one's leaving, no one's coming on. We're here for the duration. Let's send it back to you to the studio.

CHETRY: All right. Hang in there, Reynolds. Thanks so much. We're going to go to Ed Lavandera. He's in Brownsville, Texas, its about 28 miles to the west of where you saw Reynolds. A little bit more inland. And this is where the eye of Dolly could be coming. About 50 miles away now, Ed. What are you seeing and how are residents preparing?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've seen resident over the last 24, 48 hours preparing sandbags throughout the area, some shelters that have opened up in the area as well. And of course, the big concern as Reynolds was mentioning is going to be the flooding as the eye of this hurricane could very possibly come right up the mouth of the Rio Grande.

And so that will possibly cause some intense flooding in areas, at least that's what county officials around here are telling the public. They expect some 10, 15, possibly 20 inches of rain to fall throughout the day today. And they've been urging people in these low lying areas to evacuate the areas along the Rio Grande.

Now, the question is, you know, there's a lot of farmland and that sort of thing down here. So, the question is will it just be farmland that gets flooded out or will this threaten residential neighborhoods. We've seen some reports from county officials say that it is possible if these floodwaters continue to rise in the river that it could spill over the levees.

And of course the integrity of the levees is also something they're concerned about. So they will be watching that intensely. Here in Brownsville, we are really starting to see some of the strongest winds and rain that we have seen so far this morning. We expect that will only begin to intensify here in the coming hours. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Ed Lavandera for us in Brownsville, Texas. We'll check back in with you throughout the morning. And our Rob Marciano is also tracking the storm right now. We're going to head over to John right now for more on that.

ROBERTS: Well, actually why don't we head over to Rob who's got all the details -- Rob.

MARCIANO: All right, John. Let's break it down. 50 miles from Brownsville right now moving northwesterly towards the Brownsville, Corpus Christi and San Padre Island coastline. We got winds at 85 miles per hour. Hurricane hunters just came out of there. They say the pressures have dropped. And that indicates that we're seeing some strengthening. And certainly the rain bands around the eye of the storm, which by the way is about 20 miles, 20 nautical miles in width. That's about pretty much average for a hurricane.

This is getting closer to the shoreline. And I would suspect that the northwestern I-wall will be scraping the coastline within a matter of the next couple of hours. Hurricane warnings are posted from Corpus Christi down into Brownsville, south into northern Mexico. And we got tropical storm warnings that are posted as far north just southwest of Houston, Texas there.

Tornado watch also in effect from Corpus Christi to Brownsville. When these things come in, they typically create a lot of spin and interact with the coastline. And tornadoes are not out of the question. We typically see a number of them. That watch in effect until 11:00 this morning. And as our reporters on the ground have been reporting, tremendous amount of rainfall expected as this thing heads up into the coastline. It will continue to slow down, John.

And that's one of the reasons we've seen this organization and intensification of which could get possibly to category two status as we still have a couple hours with this thing over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to potentially intensify.

John, back over to you.

ROBERTS: Rob, you know, the three-day track from the hurricane center had it going in a little south of South Padre Island.

Is it taking a little bit more of a jog to the northwest there?

MARCIANO: Well, the track shifted to the north. But you got to remember when we're talking about three and four days out they give you that cone, that path of uncertainty. Because there is some uncertainty, especially with three days out. We get it to this level and now we pretty much rely on the radar. It'll jog to the north, it will jog to the south but generally speaking, it looks like it's on track to slam just into Brownsville, may be a little bit farther north of Brownsville but it looks like certainly the southern Texas coastline is going to feel the strongest hit -- John.

ROBERTS: It will be a little bit of a relief for Brownsville but perhaps bad news for South Padre Island. Rob, thanks so much. We'll keep tracking that.

Breaking news this morning. Barack Obama just wrapping up his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. So how will today's discussions play out with voters here in the United States? We're going to talk to CNN's Glenn Beck about all of that. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: More on our breaking news this morning. Barack Obama just leaving his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. This followed an earlier meeting with leaders in Israel and he's going to be meeting with Israel's Prime Minister later on today. our Ben Wedeman is -- our Ben Wedeman is in Ramallah. Ben what are the Palestinians saying about the meeting that just wrapped up just moments ago.

VOICE OF BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just heard from the senior negotiator for the Palestinian authority who by and large came out with a positive perspective on the meeting. He said that the Palestinian leaders were able to put across their case. He explained the difficulties being encountered by the Palestinians, what with hundreds of check points, with Israel's security barrier, with economic difficulties, and Israeli incursions on a regular basis. That's what they put across.

And I for instance asked him if he felt that there was any imbalance in the fact that out of this 36-hour visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories Senator Obama was spending 1/36 of that time meeting with the Palestinians. But he said that they made the best possible use of their time. That he knew that Senator Obama on his way to Ramallah and on his way out would have had an opportunity to see check points and settlements, Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as the security barriers. So they feel that even though they didn't get all the time they wanted, they did at least get this opportunity to make their case to the Senator.

ROBERTS: Ben, after the meeting Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat spoke briefly with the media. Let's listen to part of what he said this afternoon there in Israel, in Ramallah.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAEB ERAKAT, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Senator Obama said to the President that if he's elected, he will be a constructive partner in peace between Palestinians and Israelis. He will not waste a minute. Because to him, as he said, time is of the essence. And it's a vital American interest to reach an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis in the two-state solution. But he emphasized that the decisions required for peace are required from Palestinians and Israelis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So Saeb Erakat there, Ben, seeming to suggest that Senator Obama sounded all the right notes. But there has been some concern there, particularly after his statements to the America-Israel political action committee back in June in which he said that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel undivided, which prompted a response from President Mahmoud Abbas who said there will be no peaceful solution to the Middle East without the resolution of Jerusalem. Do you know if they talked about that particular issue during this meeting?

WEDEMAN: Well, Saeb Erakat in fact did answer a question about that. Keeping in mind, of course, that Senator Obama, very soon after he made that statement to the APAC came out again and said that he believed that the final status of Jerusalem is a matter that still needs to be negotiated between the two sides. Saeb Erakat said that they did not bring that matter up with him. That they considered this an issue that needs to be dealt with, but not necessarily one they have to go pointedly after in dealing with Senator Obama.

ROBERTS: All right. Our Ben Wedeman for us from Ramallah this morning as Senator Obama wraps up his meeting. Again, headed back to Jerusalem. He'll get on a helicopter and head south to the town of Sderot. Our Candy Crowley is there and we'll be hearing from her in just a little while -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks, John. Well, Viagra for all. A study out this morning talks about how it can help women but in a much different way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Forty-seven minutes after the hour. Well, Viagra has been an uplifting experience for many men. And apparently it may help women, too. A study out today says that the little blue pill may improve women's sex lives if they're taking anti-depressants. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is live for us in Atlanta. This is interesting, Sanjay, that the little blue pill might help women when they're feeling blue. How does it work?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. If you look at people who take antidepressants, both women and men, about half of them are going to have some sort of sexual dysfunction as a result of taking the antidepressant itself. You get these side effects that are sometimes so profound that they actually want to stop taking the antidepressant. And that's the exact population that researchers wanted to study. It was a small study, about 100 women, roughly. It was funded by Pfizer, should point out as well.

They were looking at women who were depressed, who were taking antidepressants and who wanted to boost sexual function. What they found was the people who added the little blue pill, Viagra, actually had a significant improvement overall in their sexual function. So it actually helped the sexual satisfaction much more so than a placebo which is what they tested it against. A couple of caveats as you might imagine. It does have side effects. It can cause headaches. It can cause flushing. It can cause indigestion.

And also researchers really, they pointed out another point. That it did not help with sexual desire at all, just overall with sexual function. Again, a small study, John, but an interesting one. We don't think about Viagra for women.

ROBERTS: Yes, certainly we've heard about a connection between antidepressants and problems with sexual function. But does this mean women can run out to their doctor and say, give me Viagra?

GUPTA: Not yet. It's still only FDA approved for men. But you know, a couple things, one is that there are a lot of doctors who may describe it off label. And some doctors told us if they had a patient, for example, who was a woman and was taking antidepressants and really has a decrease in sexual function as a result, they might consider Viagra as an off label use.

But also, it's sort of important to point out that there are all lots of other medications out there that can potential cause sexual dysfunction in women. That's going to be a starting point for doctors. What exactly is causing the problem here. If it's antidepressants or something else? But John, you know, if Viagra for women comes out at some point, I guarantee you it's going to be a blockbuster drug. Just a hunch.

ROBERTS: You're usually pretty good at forecasting these things, too. Sanjay, thanks so much for that.

GUPTA: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: All right.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): Batman, busted. After a record shattering weekend, mom and sis accused Christian Bale of assault.

And Hurricane Dolly, clearing out parts of Texas and Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have suggested that 23,000 people in the state of () leave their homes and come to shelters.

ROBERTS: The new advisory minutes away. We're live wherever it could hit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Breaking right now, Barack Obama heading back to Israel after just finishing up a meeting with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. And a senior Palestinian negotiator also talked about how that meeting went. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAEB ERAKAT, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Senator Obama said to the President that if he's elected, he will be a constructive partner in peace between Palestinians and Israelis. He will not waste a minute. Because to him, as he said, time is of the essence. And it's a vital American interest to reach an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis in the two-state solution. But he emphasized that the decisions required for peace are required from Palestinians and Israelis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Earlier in the day, Obama met with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem and pledged that he will work toward bringing peace in the region, whether or not he is elected president.

This morning as we said, Barack Obama talking peace with both sides. And it's one of the trickiest parts of his trip as he tries to please both Jewish and Arab voters back home as well. Glenn Beck is the host of the "Glenn Beck Show" on "Headline News." He also hosts his own radio program and joins us live from his studio in New York. Great to see you, Glenn,

GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK SHOW": Good morning , how are you?

CHETRY: Great. Thanks for being with us. So Barack Obama met with both sides. He met with the Palestinian leaders as well as the Israeli leaders when John McCain was in the region he only met with the Israeli leaders. Your thoughts.

BECK: My thoughts are, I don't think you are ever going to have peace in the Middle East until you wipe out radical Islam, until you get that under control. I think the Palestinians are the most used people I have ever encountered. The extremists are using the plight of the Palestinians to gain power. That's all they want. And I think if you sit down to the table and you meet with people who are involved with Hamas and everything else, I think it is a tragic, tragic mistake.

CHETRY: So you think that it was a bad move for him to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas?

BECK: I think it is - you know, if you want to sit down and you want to talk, you got to talk to all sides. If he's really on a fact- finding mission. But if you're sitting down and you're talking to people, as he has said that he wants to do, and try to bring everybody together, you cannot bring people together that have extremist ideology. You cannot ask people to get together. Is anybody going to ask us to get together with Hezbollah? That is the same thing that they're going to ask Israel to do. You do not get into bed with people that want to destroy you and run you into the sea.

CHETRY: It is a difficult situation, as we know, because there are many - as he's going to be touring some of these areas in Ramallah who feel that it's the exact opposite situation that you know, Israel is continuing to build settlements when they said they wouldn't and so on and so forth.

BECK: I understand there are extremists. And you know what, I wouldn't sit down with the people who want to build settlements as well. There are extremists on both sides. You've got to go to the actual people. The Palestinians are in just such a horrible situation. The Palestinians are sitting here being run now by Hezbollah, which is actually Iran. This is a totally different situation, run by people who want to run Israel into the sea and kill all the Jews. When does that ever sound like a good idea to anybody to sit down and talk to people like that?

CHETRY: It's going to be a tough land mine, I guess, if you will for him to navigate, because it also plays into voters at home, including what could be a very crucial voting bloc in Florida. You're talking about the American-Jew whose are going to be making decisions based on this trip as well on whether or not they trust Barack Obama.

BECK: Well, I think, you know, my fear is that peace at any cost is whether the United States and the rest of the world is headed. Peace at any cost. It is never, ever been a good idea. For us to say we want peace - again, the same thing could be said, would anyone say it was a good idea if we said, well, let's make peace with Osama Bin Laden. Let's make peace with Al Qaeda. They want to destroy us. You do not co-exist with people who want to destroy you. Let's be honest - Hezbollah is evil. Al Qaeda is evil. You don't negotiate with evil.

CHETRY: Right. You're bringing Hezbollah in this. Today though he did meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas -

BECK: I understand.

CHETRY: -- who doesn't have that position.

BECK: I understand.

CHETRY: But let's move on and talk a little bit about the housing bill, the situation today. We're going to be talking about it in Congress. This is to the tune of $25 billion. It includes this bailout for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Is this going to solve the foreclosure crisis that we're in?

BECK: You know what? It is putting Band-aids on cancer. We have a significant financial problem. Our financial sector is in the worst shape it has been since the Great Depression. We have not had a situation with our financial sector as weak as it is since the Great Depression. It is not as bad as the Great Depression. It's since that time. And we're putting a Band-aid on cancer. It is like if you had a tumor in your head and you had a headache, you don't give it aspirin, then Tylenol, then Percocet, then Oxycontin. You go in and take the tumor out.

We are bailing these companies out that have no reason to be bailed out. You must let them fail to be able to heal the whole body. Now that means there is a lot of pain that would happen because of that, but you know what? We keep bailing people out, and the value of our dollar goes lower and lower and lower. Is it a surprise to anybody yesterday that when the value of the dollar finally went up, oil went down, and the stock market went up. We're devaluing our dollar. It's becoming the peso.

CHETRY: All right, well, Glenn Beck, great to talk to you, as always. Thanks for joining us this morning.

BECK: Good to talk to you. You bet.

ROBERTS: New this morning, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meeting with North Korea's top diplomat in Singapore. It ends a four- year break in high-level nuclear talks between the country and the Bush administration. Rice demanding North Korea prove it is being honest about its nuclear history and North Korea asking Washington to drop "hostile policies."

Pirates grab another ship off the coast of Somalia. It is a Japanese-owned vessel. 20 Filipino sailors were on board. The owner says that he's been in contact with them and they're OK. The government of the Philippines says it will not pay a ransom to free the hostages since that would contravene state policy.

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