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Terror Blast in Turkey Kills 17 People; Police Look for Motive in Tennessee Church Shooting; Obama Speaks at Unity Conference; Does McCain Support 16-month U.S. Troop Withdrawal Timetable?
Aired July 28, 2008 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: The morning after a deadly church rampage. Police and parishioners want to know why. They say a man with a shotgun killed two people and wounded seven during a children's play on Sunday at the parish in Knoxville, Tennessee. The suspect, 58-year-old Jim Adkisson, has been charged with first degree murder.
CNN's Rusty Dornin is in Knoxville for us and she has the latest details -- Rusty.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, investigators kept many of the church members here for hours interviewing them, trying to piece together the timeline. Nearly 200 people were watching a performance, a children's performance of "Annie" when the unbelievable happened.
DORNIN (voice-over): When parishioners at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church first heard the crack of gunfire, some thought it might be part of the children's play they were watching. But confusion gave way to panic as many church members dove under pews or tried to flee as a man continued to fire a 12-gauge shotgun into the congregation.
Witnesses say when a white male first appeared at the door, he fired a shotgun point blank at one church member and then began firing randomly. According to witnesses, the suspect, now identified as 58- year-old Jim Adkisson, paused to reload his gun, then he was tackled by two church members.
Less than five minutes after the 911 call came in, Knoxville police had the suspect in custody. Reportedly, Adkisson never aimed at the children.
STEVE DREVIK, SHOOTING WITNESS: We found everyone. There was a little panic at the end when we couldn't find three of the kids. We had to run out by the time I got in there to help search in the woods for the kids. But we located them. They went to one of the church's next door.
DORNIN: Investigators say the timeline of the shooting may get a boost from several people who were videotaping the children's play.
CHIEF STERLING OWEN, KNOXVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: For those of you who had some experience and as you know, oftentimes, you believe that a video camera captures more than it actually does but we're going to review each and every one of them.
DORNIN: Adkisson reportedly was not a member of this congregation, leaving the nagging question of why. His bail has been set at a million dollars -- John and Kiran.
ROBERTS: Rusty Dornin reporting for us from Knoxville. Police said the FBI is involved in the case of the shooting, and it might turn out to be a hate crime. Witnesses say the gunman was shouting "hateful things," as he unloaded.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Headlines around the country this morning. And a deadly weekend at New York City in Long Island beaches and a warning about swimming in the ocean waters.
Divers in New York have now suspended the search for a missing 10-year-old girl. She was swept away by strong ocean currents off of Coney Island. Two other swimmers are also missing, and four other people drowned at various beaches in New York this weekend. A National Weather Service forecaster said that due to rip currents, only experienced surf swimmers should enter the waters.
In New Mexico, authorities are still searching for two people swept away in the Rio Ruidoso. There is flooding in the area after Hurricane Dolly dumped about six inches of rain. Three hundred people had to be evacuated due to that flooding.
And out of control and just 10 percent contained, that's how a wildfire burning near an entrance to Yosemite National Park is being described by California firefighters. That fire has already burned 12 homes and is threatening thousands more.
Barack Obama is back at home and back on the campaign trail. He'll be meeting with top economists today. Yesterday he closed out the unity conference for minority journalists by participating in a forum hosted by our own Suzanne Malveaux. And Suzanne joins us now from Washington with more.
Good morning, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Kiran.
Well, Senator Obama's first public appearance since returning from the U.S. from his trip overseas. I got a chance along with other journalists to ask him about a host of issues on affirmative action, immigration and race. But really, the thrust of the interview was about what he took away from his magnanimous trip through Europe and the Middle East.
Now Obama took on John McCain and his critics head on, some who suggested he appeared to be running for president of the world because of the historic crowds that he attracted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's part of the job that I'm applying for. And so -- so I was puzzled by this notion that somehow what we were doing was in any way different from what Senator McCain or a lot of presidential candidates have done in the past. Now, I admit we did it really well, but -- and that -- but that shouldn't be a strike against me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Obama said he believed the trip was helpful because he established relationships and trust with key leaders who can come away with confidence, he said, that he is someone that they can deal with. As for the political effect of this trip, he acknowledged that focusing on international issues doesn't necessarily translate into higher poll numbers at home, but he's going to be addressing some of those pressing economic concerns from here on out. He says later today he's actually meeting with his economic team assembled in Washington -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning, thanks.
ROBERTS: However, that aside, a brand new Gallup poll does show that Barack Obama got a boost from his overseas tour. He now leads John McCain by nine points, according to the latest survey. It was taken during the final three days of his trip and represents the biggest lead in a Gallup poll since it started tracking the general election and that was back in March.
John McCain is again questioning Barack Obama's support for U.S. troops with a new campaign ad. The 32nd spot is airing in some of the key states. Take a look at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL)
NARRATOR: Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hadn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops.
And now, he made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras. John McCain is always --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Dana Bash joins us now from Boston this morning with more on this.
Dana, why is the McCain campaign decided to put out what is for all intents and purposes a very aggressive ad?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very aggressive ad, indeed, John.
You know, it is not exactly a secret that the McCain campaign had trouble, big-time trouble competing with the images and all of the stories coming from abroad from Obama's overseas trip last week. So they were waiting for something like this. And that is a stumble.
And that stumble was, as it was described in that ad, the idea that Obama was scheduled to go see wounded troops in Germany at an air base, and he essentially canceled that because he said that he didn't feel it was right to take a campaign trip there. But he has some evolving answers and really had a bit of a dispute with the Pentagon over whether it was OK or not OK for him to be going.
This is the kind of thing that the McCain campaign was really, really hoping for. A stumble, especially with regard to the issue of troops and the military, because what the McCain campaign is trying to do in the long term, John, is build an idea that his judgment is poor when it comes to his ability to be commander in chief. That's why they seized on this.
McCain advisers insist that this story is spreading like wildfire in the military community, and they also have really been trying hard to be aggressive and seize on opportunities. They don't get them that often. So they really feel that they wanted to seize on this opportunity, this political opportunity to hit Obama on this issue.
Now, you know, the Obama campaign is saying that this is a very inappropriate ad and, in fact, Senator Chuck Hagel who was at the beginning of Obama's trip traveling with him, he said that it was simply not appropriate for Senator Obama to go to visit wounded troops because he had his campaign plan. He said it would have been using the soldiers as props -- John.
ROBERTS: OK. Dana Bash for us from Boston this morning.
Dana, thanks very much.
We're also going to be talking with a McCain adviser a little bit later on. And Senator John McCain is going to be Larry King's guest tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE." That's at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
CHETRY: And here's what we're working on for you this morning. More banks go bust and get rescued as they get ready to reopen this morning, whether your money is safe.
ROBERTS: Losing their homes to make way for progress. Our crew gets muscled out by the cops as they try to expose the darker side of Beijing's urban makeover ahead of the Olympic Games.
CHETRY: And air guitar may seem like a pretty safe activity but the artist known as Betty B. Goode actually lost a toe during the competition. She went on to win anyway. We're going to hear from her and why the competition is so tough. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."
CHETRY: Eleven straight days now with cheaper gas. That's right. AAA says the average price for a gallon of regular is now $3.96. That's more than a dime cheaper than it was a month ago. ROBERTS: A guarantee that every penny is protected as two regional banks get ready to reopen today under new ownership. Federal regulators closed First National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank on Friday. They operate in California, Arizona and Nevada. The 28 branches will reopen today as Mutual of Omaha. The FDIC is reassuring customers that all of their deposits will be fully insured even if they are over the federal limit of $100,000 for a single account.
CHETRY: And that huge housing bill could be on the president's desk today and he is promising to sign it. The Senate passed the $300 billion package, 72-13. We're going a little overtime on Saturday getting them done.
ROBERTS: So what's in the housing bill? Gerri Willis here for Ali Velshi who is enjoying the sights and sounds of Dubrovnik today.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: That's right.
ROBERTS: Yes. And what have you --
WILLIS: And we're here but the housing bill, of course, as you said, passed Saturday. Lots of interesting things for homeowners in there, including 300 billion of guarantees insuring backing homeowners' loans. That's probably the biggest part that most people are going to want to know about. Also loan cap guarantees that go up to $625,000.
So once that used to be considered jumbo mortgages now will have a full faith and credit of the government behind it. And, of course, it creates the first-time home buyer tax credit of $7,500. Unfortunately, you'll have to pay it back -- John.
ROBERTS: Oh, you have to pay it back?
WILLIS: You have to pay it back. But we want to talk, too, just a little bit about how you would take advantage of this bill and actually get a new loan because I think that's the main thing that people are interested in right now.
If your loan was made between January of 2005 and June of '07, you may be eligible. You have to prove that you're spending 31 percent of your gross income at least on your loan. You can be in default or maybe you're still making payments. It doesn't really matter.
You have to prove that you can't pay. Maybe you've got an adjustable rate mortgage that is resetting out there, and it's making it tougher for you to pay. What you do next though is that you contact an FHA-approved lender. Go to hud.gov and get the name of the lender or you can contact your mortgage servicer. And then you want to make sure, unfortunately, you have to make sure that if you happen to (INAUDIBLE) and lines of credit out there, you got to pay that off. There can be no other outstanding debt against the house other than the primary mortgage.
ROBERTS: It's a little complicated.
WILLIS: It's a little complicated. You should know that it's voluntary. The lenders have to agree to do this. And this is tough because they have to write down the value of the loan, take a 10 percent hair cut. A lot of lenders don't like to do that. But this -- in this environment, that may be the best thing they can do for their bottom line.
ROBERTS: Well, better than what they've had up until now which is nothing.
ROBERTS: All right. Gerri, thanks so much for that.
WILLIS: My pleasure.
CHETRY: Still ahead, Barack Obama's private prayer is published. Someone lifts his note from the Western Wall and a newspaper puts it into print.
ROBERTS: John McCain seems to be softening his stance toward the 16-month timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Or is he? We'll ask his campaign spokesman where he stands.
But first, Rob Marciano down in the weather center in Atlanta. He is monitoring what's going on today. Good morning, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John.
Rough weather in the northeast yesterday will pop up again. Plus this, it's what's left over of Dolly. Can you believe that's still causing problems? Weather is coming up when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.
CHETRY: You know you're getting old when it just feels like yesterday that song was a hit "Manic Monday" by The Bangles. Boy, that was back in the '80s.
A shot of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this morning courtesy of WTAE. It's now 64 degrees and clearer. Can be partly cloudy, a high of 84 as we take a look at two of the three rivers. Beautiful this morning in Pittsburgh.
Rob Marciano standing by. I know you're dancing to that with your gummy bracelets on back in the '80s, right? Having a blast.
MARCIANO: Oh, are you kidding me? Oh, I had, you know, you should have seen the hair. It was quite a sight, Kiran. We'll break those pictures -- no, we won't actually.
Hey, Dolly, check it out. This is what's left of her, believe it or not, and causing problems. We showed you the video out of New Mexico. It's going to get caught up in the flow, mixing with some heat and humidity and severe thunderstorms will break out today especially across the northern tier. Here is some of that moisture.
Not too impressive right now. But we still have flash flood watches and warning posted for much of eastern New Mexico. And as some of Dolly gets into the areas, believe it or not that have seen some issues, we'll see some flooding maybe across parts of the north on the central plains.
Hey, Taiwan, this is typhoon Fung-Wong. Yes, it made landfall across the island yesterday. Big time rain, big time problem; 28 inches of rain. Check out some of the video that came into the CNN newsroom yesterday.
Torrents of water pouring through the island. Luckily only one person killed and six injured, at least that's the latest. And now, it's about ready to head into parts of China.
Meanwhile, across the ocean of the Atlantic, which is what we're most concerned about, things looking relatively quiet. So that's the good news. It will be quite warm as it is the last week of July, John. So things tend to get a little steamy across much of the United States. Guys, stay cool any possible way you can. Back to you in New York.
ROBERTS: Better hot than not, I always say.
MARCIANO: That's right.
ROBERTS: Rob, thanks so much.
MARCIANO: All right now.
ROBERTS: Top videos right now on CNN.com. Most popular, a private conversation between Barack Obama and God is published.
An Israeli newspaper claims it has the note that Senator Obama left at the Western Wall. CNN is not reporting what it said. The senior rabbi at the Western Wall says it's sacrilege to snoop on what another person wrote there.
Also, an elderly woman drives her car into a pool. Police in Norwalk, Connecticut, say she hit the gas instead of the brake. A man and his two sons say they were in the pool at the time but apparently everyone was OK. How do you get a car out of the pool?
And caught during Dolly, a video taken by an I-reporter stuck on a ship as the Category Two hurricane crashed ashore on South Padre Island.
Those are the most popular videos on CNN.com. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning" and we are back in 90 seconds.
CHETRY: Well, taking other people's property, ahead of the Beijing games. Chinese homeowners say the government is showing up to destroy their homes and kick them out because it doesn't want the world to see an eyesore.
As CNN's Emily Chang found out, the country is not willing to talk about it.
EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, the fight over land between the people and the government is a longstanding issue here in Beijing. These homes have already been partially destroyed. It's especially sensitive with the Olympics approaching. We found that out when we tried to talk to people who live here.
CHANG (voice-over): This white mark has haunted old Beijing for a decade. The Chinese character for demolition painted across homes set to be torn down. But their way of life is vanishing in a modernizing city.
Locals say the home that stood here disappeared overnight. The family of 14 who lived there now gone, just in time to make room for flower beds for the Olympics. A village was leveled where Olympic venues like the nicknamed bird's nest and the water cube now stand.
Across town another neighborhood is being replaced by high rises. They're going to destroy my house. Do you understand me? This man says.
This is the hidden cost of new Beijing. Residents forced to move when the government decides it's time for redevelopment as police try to keep the peace. The people don't own the land, so reporting their stories can be difficult.
(on camera): Right now, they're calling the authorities, trying to figure out if we're legitimate journalists, checking our press cards, our passports.
(voice-over): But private security guards swoop in. Hold on, don't let them in, the guard says. And we're surrounded. And we're shut out.
(on camera): We think that these men are with the developer and that's why they're not letting us in, because the police gave us clearance to be in there and then these guys showed up.
(voice-over): We don't want you to get hurt by the construction, says the site manager. The developer won't talk and, by now, residents have scattered.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody wants to come out.
CHANG: They're scared?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're scared and if they come out, they will lose their house.
CHANG: But city officials say their homes are old and dangerous and will be seized soon anyway. The government does make an effort to protect and even renovate some of these areas to preserve history and culture. But it's a relatively small part of the sprawling metropolis.
CHANG: Some residents are offered compensation, but most say it's not enough to buy another home in a city with an eye on its future and little room for its past -- John, Kiran.
ROBERTS: Kyung Lah (sic) for us this morning with that.
Barack Obama has long recommended a 16-month time line in Iraq, an idea that maybe John McCain is warming up to now. We'll find out exactly where McCain stands when we talk with his campaign spokesperson.
On that story, that was Emily Chang not Kyung Lah.
CHETRY: Also, we have rocked out to our favorite songs. The little air guitar every now and then. All of us have done it, but few among us can call ourselves air guitar champion, or can we say we lost a toe earning the title. Betty B. Goode can. We're going to have her story coming up.
You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."
ROBERTS: Twenty-six minutes now after the hour. Iraq is the big topic of conversation following Barack Obama's trip to the region. Lots of talk about timetables for withdrawal and whether the troop presence there should be depended on conditions on the ground. And also, big criticism of Obama from the McCain campaign for not meeting with wounded troops while he was in Germany.
Here to talk about it all, I'm joined by McCain campaign spokesman, Tucker Bounds. He's live in Arlington, Virginia.
Tucker, good to see you this morning.
TUCKER BOUNDS, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN NATIONAL SPOKESMAN: Good morning, John. How are you?
ROBERTS: Good. Senator McCain appears to, in some of the things he said, be giving consideration to Senator Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawal. Our Wolf Blitzer asked him about it and asked him about Nouri al-Maliki's support for the Obama timetable yesterday on "LATE EDITION." Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Why do you think he said that 16 months is basically a pretty good timetable?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said it's a pretty good timetable based on conditions on the ground. I think it's a pretty good timetable as we should our horizons for withdrawal, but they have to be based on conditions on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: He said, Tucker, it seems like a pretty good timetable. Is there a coming together here? Senator Obama is now talking about conditions on the ground, dictating residual force in Iraq. And now, Senator McCain is saying, maybe a timetable.
BOUNDS: Well, he said, and if you go back and look closely, I think the key point that John McCain made is that it's based on the conditions on the ground. The difference between the two candidates going in November is that Barack Obama wants a rigid timeline for withdrawal.
John McCain wants to start reducing our troops, keeping the gains and security that we've earned in Iraq, but by doing so, avoiding a third war. I think that's the most important point here, John, is that if we look at it there is one candidate that wants to reduce troops based on the conditions on the ground, securing the earned security that our troops have earned. So I think bringing them home with victory is the important contrast between the two candidates.
ROBERTS: But when Senator Obama talks in detail about this 16- month timetable for withdrawal, he does say that it's dependent on conditions on the ground. But he thinks based on current conditions he should be able to withdraw one to two brigades a month. He's suggesting that the horizon could go out beyond 16 months though he won't say how much.
BOUNDS: Well, you know, I'm glad you brought that up because the truth is that Barack Obama isn't an experienced candidate on a lot of these issues and if you look at how his evolution on these issues has progressed. Just last week when he met with General Petraeus, the first thing he did at a press conference afterward was to admit that General Petraeus would like further flexibility based on the conditions on the ground that may not necessarily support his timeline of 16 months. It's the conditions that's the difference and it's the conditions that will secure victory for our troops as we bring them home and help us avoid a third war.
It's about the future. It's about avoiding a third war. And that's why John McCain is the candidate, has the experience and judgment to lead in this race.
ROBERTS: Do you really believe that Senator Obama would jeopardize the progress in Iraq if General Petraeus or his successor came to him and said, we need to take a pause here because we're afraid we might lose it? Do you really think he'd say I'm not going to listen to you, I'm going ahead with the withdrawal plan?
BOUNDS: You know, John, I'd like to not believe it. I'd like to believe that he would take a different course. But every indication with everything that he has talked about is that he is for a 16-month timetable for a withdrawal that disregards the conditions on the ground, the security that we've earned. I'd like to believe differently, but Barack Obama is saying that he's going to bring them home regardless of the conditions. And that's the difference.
We want to avoid a third war. And I think that experience and judgment and a tested hand at the till is important.
ROBERTS: Right. I don't mean to correct you there, but he has not said regardless of the conditions he's going to bring them home in 16 months. He says he would like to bring them home in 16 months, but that may depend on conditions on the ground.
BOUNDS: Well, that may depend on which day you are talking to Barack Obama, John. Because the truth is that he's talked about conditions, he's talked about not refining his position.
ROBERTS: Look, let me move on, if I could.
BOUNDS: In the primary he talked about not having conditions and now he's talking about conditions.
ROBERTS: Let me move on to another issue here. The McCain campaign has put out a very aggressive ad criticizing Senator Obama for not visiting wounded troops in Germany. Let's take a quick listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops since the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Now, he says the Pentagon didn't want this to become a campaign trip. Isn't he in a no-win situation here that if he doesn't visit the troops you're going to ding him but if he did visit the troops as Senator Hagel has suggested, you would have said it was a photo opportunity using our troops for political purposes.
BOUNDS: Well, he said one thing, John, but you're avoiding the eight other things that his campaign said about their excuses as to why they didn't visit the troops. The one fundamentally true thing about this situation is, Barack Obama canceled visiting injured combat troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
ROBERTS: Right. But if he had gone, would you not put out an ad that he used the troops for political purposes?
BOUNDS: I think that's ridiculous. I think that you know and I know both that any campaign run by John McCain - I work for John McCain. John McCain is not going to allow anyone in this campaign or anyone affiliated with this campaign to attack his opponent for visiting injured combat troops. That is a false argument. It's ridiculous.
ROBERTS: Well, that was just a suggestion from Senator Chuck Hagel.
BOUNDS: That's an interesting suggestion.
ROBERTS: All right. Tucker Bounds from the McCain campaign, thanks for being with us this morning. Good to see you.
BOUNDS: Thanks, John.
CHETRY: Thirty-one minutes past 7:00 here in New York. Some of the top stories this morning. Police and parishioners looking for a motive the day after a man with a shotgun walked into a church and opened fire. It happened during a children's play at a parish in Knoxville, Tennessee, yesterday. The suspect, 58-year-old Jim Adkisson has been charged with first degree murder. The police are now looking into whether it was a hate crime.
A towering plume of smoke, the historic grand pier destroyed by fire. It was a popular summer tourist spot with rides and games in western England. More than two dozen firefighters responded. There are no reports of injuries. The pier was built back in 1904, rebuilt in 1930. The first time also a fire wrecked it.
And also breaking this morning. Suicide bombers and gunmen being blamed for more than 60 killings across Iraq. Police say that three female suicide bombers hit a crowd of thousands of Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad in one of those attacks. Into the north in Kirkuk, another suicide bomber and gunmen are being blamed for killing at least 38 people in a protest. Morgan Neill joins us live now from Baghdad with more of what is going on there.
A very violent couple of days in Iraq.
MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kiran.
What we're hearing first about this incident here in Baghdad, the Interior Ministry says that these were three female suicide bombers who set off their explosions within 30 minutes of one another, killing at least 30 people and wounding some 83 others. The vast majority believed to be Shia pilgrims on their way on a pilgrimage to the mosque in Kademia.
Now, security forces here have set up a number of extra checkpoints, particularly there's extra security in Kademia itself but this attack took police to the south in Karrada neighborhood. It really points out the difficulties in protecting such a massive group of pilgrims. A lot of people coming in from all over the country on foot, headed for this mosque in Kademia -- Kiran.
CHETRY: And tell us a little bit more about this Kirkuk bombing. What do we know about what happened there?
NEILL: Well, that is something we do have some new information on. What police are now saying is this incident, too, caused by a female suicide bomber. The latest we are hearing is that at least 38 people have been killed, another 178 wounded. What police are telling us is that a female suicide bomber made her way into a crowd of largely Kurds, protesting against a proposed electoral law.
The explosion went off and gunmen, they say, both some within the crowd and others that were security forces, joined in leading to that final total. So a very violent day here today -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Morgan Neill for news in Baghdad. Thank you.
ROBERTS: Thirty-four minutes after the hour. And Alina Cho joins us now with other stories new this morning.
Good morning to you.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, guys. Good morning. And good morning everybody.
And new this morning, investigators think a missing oxygen tank may have exploded and caused that huge hole in the side of a Qantas plane. Right now they are testing fragments that they found to see if they came from the tank. The flight had to make an emergency landing Friday after plummeting some 20,000 feet. Amazingly, nobody was injured.
Dozens of ships and hundreds of barges are still stranded because of that massive oil spill in the Mississippi River, not far from New Orleans. Some ships have been cleaned and were given the green light to start moving to their destinations. But the rest of the ships still have to be decontaminated. And that could take a couple more days.
An amazing story, a daring cliff side rescue after a maintenance worker spots a woman and her car all the way down a cliff. Police in San Diego say she was stuck there for about five hours. And if she hadn't been seen at that point she may never have been found. That's because the woman's car flipped over the guardrail and was hidden behind some thick brush. Look at that rescue there -- 200 yards from the road. She's being treated for serious injuries but she is expected to make a full recovery.
And the Tour de France ending on a sour note. Another rider was busted for a positive drug test as Carlos Sastre coasted to victory. He's the third Spaniard in a row to win the race while wearing the yellow jersey there. Three riders were thrown out because of alleged doping. Still, one British newspaper calls it the cleanest Tour de France in years. The 89-mile finish to the Champs Elysee apparently closer than most years. You know, less than a minute or so.
ROBERTS: Oh, yes. I was talking to Lance Armstrong about this last week when he was on talking about cancer. Off camera, I was asking him how he thought Sastre would do because he had that big climb up the L'Alpe-D'Huez on Wednesday. He said that he thought Australian Cadel Evans was going to win in the time trial but I watched the time trial on Saturday and Evans just couldn't pull it out.
CHO: Yes. We haven't had an American win in a little while.
ROBERTS: Sastre hung on. Yes. Not since Floyd Landis.
CHO: Yes, that's right.
CHETRY: And how you ended that, you said only three people were kicked out for doping. The cleanest in years.
CHO: The cleanest in years. Yes. They've had a bit of a black mark on the sport for a little while now.
Floyd Landis still fighting to get the title back.
ROBERTS: It's not going to happen.
CHO: No. It's not going to happen. Yes.
CHETRY: Thanks, Alina.
CHO: You bet.
ROBERTS: A real smash and grab robbery at an Indianapolis gun shop. Check this out.
It was a car coming through the wall. Security cameras captured three guys cleaning out the store of assault rifles and handguns after crashing a stolen car through the gun shop's wall. Police say they arrested a man and three teens. Behind the wheel, a 13-year-old. They are also looking for one more suspect.
Well, troubling news from the financial services sector these days. Gerri Willis is going to be talking to us a little bit more about what to do if you think your bank's in trouble.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hey, John.
Well two more banks failed over the weekend. Is your bank, should it be a worry? We'll tell you what you need to know when AMERICAN MORNING continues.
CHETRY: Well, Gerri Willis joins us now, in for Ali Velshi. Sorry, the desk is moving a little bit. I guess I put a little too much pressure on it this morning. Two more banks failing over the weekend. A lot of people wondering, what do I do?
WILLIS: No laughing matter. Here, we have First National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank failing over weekend. The good news here, the FDIC stepped in. The banks are reopening today as Mutual of Omaha Banks. Depositors had access to their money even over the weekend. They could use their debit cards, or written checks. So, no big worry there. The reality is that the FDIC guarantees depositors they have insurance that backs these depositors. CHETRY: That's one thing not to have to worry about at least. But it seems like a growing tend
WILLIS: It is a growing trend. And as you know, we expect scores of banks to sail in the weak of the mortgage melt down and the credit crisis that we've had. Here's what you need to know if you're worried about your bank today. A, number one, don't pull your money out. Chances are that your bank is insured by the FDIC.
Now, this is how it works. If you have an individual account of $200,000 you will be insured if your bank has the FDIC logo. $250,000 for retirement accounts. $200,000 for joint accounts. The reality here is you can find out some details about your bank and it's helped by going to bankrate.com. They rate these banks. You get some details on just how healthy your bank is. Bottom line here, though, don't panic. There's a federal government that is standing behind these banks. People really don't have to worry. I keep getting e- mails about should I take money out.
CHETRY: It makes you wonder. Last week we saw a video of people lined up outside, was it IndyMac?
WILLIS: Two weeks ago, IndyMac failed. People were really worried about that bank. Of course, the FDIC stepped in and even raised the limits, the usual limits of what they protect. Think about it. If you pull your money out, what are you going to do with it? So, keep it in place and look for that FDIC logo.
ROBERTS: Put it in the mattress. There's all kinds of interest there.
WILLIS: Oh, no. Don't do that.
ROBERTS: Gerri, thanks very much.
WILLIS: My pleasure.
ROBERTS: Air guitar might seem like a pretty safe activity but the artist known as Bettie B. Goode suffered a catastrophic injury during a competition and she managed to win it anyway. We got that coming up for you.
But first, Rob is in the Weather Center tracking the latest forecast for us.
Good morning, Rob.
MARCIANO: Hey, John, rough weather across the northeast yesterday, also across New Mexico. Big flooding problems. This green blob, that's actually what's left over of Dolly. We'll talk about where she's going when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.
CHETRY: Rob Marciano is tracking weather for us this morning from the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. Triple digit heat in a lot of parts of the country today.
MARCIANO: Yes, smoking hot last week of July. And that's going to lead to some thunderstorms in spots and mix in with some moisture. This is what's left over from Dolly. Check out some of the pictures coming in from New Mexico, Ruidoso, Mexico. About 300 people were evacuated yesterday with six inches of rain dumping in this area.
The Ruidoso, the river there, over-flooded its banks. 60 homes damaged. They did 25 water rescues with this torrent of water pouring through New Mexico yesterday. Flash flood watches still posted for parts of the eastern part of the state. They shouldn't see as much today as things begin to pull out in towards the plane but some of the moisture will get entrained into the actual rest of the flow across the country and mix in with this action.
From Des Moines back to St. Louis, we'll look for some showers and thunderstorms. Actually if we have the Iowa video, let's roll that. Big-time damage yesterday across parts of Ohio. There were reports of five tornadoes and in some cases straight line winds in excess of 80 miles an hour. There you see pictures near Des Moines with that barn being torn about. So, look for more of that action today, especially north of Iowa where severe thunderstorm watches are posted.
Meantime, the heat continues to bake places Dallas, like Shreveport, Louisiana. We saw a record temperatures yesterday up over 100. Memphis, boy its going to be smoking hot there. Heated watches and advisories and in some cases, warnings posted today for temperatures that will be measured in the shade at 105 potentially. In Dallas, a comfortably cool 88 degrees in the big apple. Kiran, back out to you.
CHETRY: Well, you've been joking in the last hour of pictures of you from back in the day. And Heidi Collins let me in on a secret, she says you have one on your coffee mug I'm supposed to ask you to see it.
MARCIANO: Maybe next hour I'll break that out. I'm going to kill her.
CHETRY: See those are the types of things. We're up here in New York and you're down there in Atlanta. And Heidi's watching you. She gives me the info.
MARCIANO: Yes. Tune in for that . That will be award winning TV in about 20 minutes.
CHETRY: We will. See you.
ROBERTS: Forty-six minutes after the hour now. And here's what we're working on for you this morning. From foreign affairs to issue number one. Barack Obama today meets with some high profile experts on the economy. We talk with Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs. That's ahead.
ROBERTS: And dreams of intergalactic space travel move one step closer to becoming reality today. Richard Branson here live to talk about the debut of his new mother ship.
ROBERTS: That's the song that vaulted Eddie Van Halen to guitar god status. And everybody said what is it that he doing there?
CHETRY: What was the song?
CHETRY: "Eruption." There you have. That is probably one of the top ten air guitar picks as well if you're in competition.
ROBERTS: You know, you can probably herniate your finger if you try to do that. But in order to be great at something you have to be willing to sacrifice.
CHETRY: Our Jim Acosta found this out at the air guitar championships here in New York.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take these four New Yorkers off the street, put them on a stage, and they will melt your face with their air guitars. That's Taryn Kapronica, a.k.a. Bettie B. Goode in the striped pants. At rehearsal she showed us some of the moves that have made her one of the top performers in the world of air guitar.
You have to be a little nuts to do this, right? You got to be a title nuts?
TARYN KAPRONICA, AIR GUITAR PERFORMER: Everybody's a little nut inside, we just have fun with it.
ACOSTA: How's this for nuts. On the night Taryn won the latest regional competition in New York. She just didn't break a leg, she broke a toe, tripping over a chair . It was a stage dive that landed her in the hospital. The x-rays now the stuff of air guitar legend.
You don't miss the toe?
KAPRONICA: I got nine more. I'm cool with that. I really do.
ACOSTA: You think you can play at Taryn's level. AS you can tell, I'm not really that cool so this is going to be a stretch for me. Think again.
KAPRONICA: Another one that a lot of people like to do is they like to play with their teeth.
ACOSTA: Like that.
KAPRONICA: OK. I don't know what this is. And it's really sort of move your head. Like that. you kind of flip your hair. It will happen. It will work. ACOSTA: Like that happen.
ACOSTA: All right I head that now. Their inspiration the rock gods of yesterday which may explain stage names like Freddie Mercury and William Ocean.
Where did you get the clothes?
WILLIAM OCEAN, 2007 U.S. AIR GUITAR CHAMPION: OK. Mostly I take 90 percent from my mom's closet. It get those. I leave the shoulder pads in because my shoulders' aren't that big.
ACOSTA: Shoulder pads as big as the sport itself.
CEDRIC DEVITT, U.S. AIR GUITAR ORGANIZER: In 2003 we did -- we started the two cities. We did a New York and L.A. competition. You know, we're now to the -- sort of five years later and we're doing 24 cities a year. It's right across America.
ACOSTA: Next month Taryn will play for the national crown in San Francisco and a chance to compete for the world title in Finland. Despite her injury, she hasn't lost her step.
KAPRONICA: I plan to lose this one and I plan to lose this one, this way my toes can do this. which is a big metal sign.
ACOSTA: As Taryn's friends like to tell her, the toe must go on.
Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.
ROBERTS: As long as she keeps losing toes and not fingers, she'll be fine right?
CHETRY: Exactly, because you can play air guitar without your fingers. How about Jim Acosta though? He had good form. I think he just needed the hair.
ROBERTS: He did. He just needed something to toss around.
ROBERTS: All right, we'll be back in just a couple of minutes. Stay with us.
ROBERTS: Rocket man, Richard Branson joins us live. His dream of commercial space flight moving a step closer today.
And support the stache.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of grown into its own like a little personality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: A Yankee slugger credits his facial hair for his hot streak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stache, the power of the stache.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Other New Yorkers look for the inflated sense of self- esteem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you attract women more with a mustache?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. I got about seven women.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where in the truck?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."
CHETRY: Well, today Barack Obama turns his attention from foreign affairs to issue number one, the economy. He'll be meeting with a group of economic experts including Warren Buffett and former Fed chairman Paul Volcker as well as Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Still though, there's still plenty of verbal sparring between the candidates over Iraq. And joining us now from Chicago is Robert Gibbs. He's the senior adviser for the Obama campaign.
And Roberts, thanks for being with us this morning.
ROBERT GIBBS, SENIOR ADVISER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Good morning, how are you?
CHETRY: Great. Thanks for coming. Senator Obama was asked about what sort of troop presence he would keep in Iraq given the fact he was talking with diplomatic and military leaders. And this is what he told "Newsweek's" Richard Wolf. He said, "I do think it's entirely conditions based. It's hard to anticipate where we may be six months from now or a year from now or a year and a half from now. He's saying conditions based. That's something that John McCain has long advocated."
Is this suggesting a shift in policy for Senator Obama? GIBBS: Absolutely not. What he has talked about is removing our troops as carefully as we were careless in getting in a 16-month timetable, which is about two years from now, getting those combat brigades out. But he's always talked about keeping a residual force either in Iraq or in the region to deal with counter terrorism.
And that's the type of force that it's unclear what type of size would you have for that, because you'd have to see what the conditions were at that point. Those troops as I said would be involved in counter terrorism. They'd help to continue to train Iraqi police and security forces, to keep the country secure and safe.
CHETRY: Can you give us a ballpark of what - of possibly how big a residual force and for how long they would need to be there?
GIBBS: No. Look, I'm not a commanding general on the ground. And obviously that would depend mightily on where we were in the situation with Iraq. But most importantly, I think what you saw on this foreign trip and discussing with foreign leaders is somebody in Barack Obama who was in command of the facts, who people in this country could see as being effective on the world stage. The Iraqis over the past week have said to the entire world, that they want to take more responsibility for their country. And Barack Obama believes we ought to give them that opportunity.
CHETRY: Now, in a recent article on slate.com John Dickerson writes about the overseas trip and argues that Barack Obama still holds some of the same policy views as he did more than a year and a half ago even though a lot has changed in Iraq, in particular. And Dickerson writes, "when he voted against the surge in January 2007, he claimed on more than one occasion that it would lead to increased casualties and sectarian violence. It didn't. How'd he get that one wrong?"
Can Barack Obama now say that the surge worked?
GIBBS: Well, let's be honest. The surge did lead to increased casualties. We lost quite a number of servicemen and women last year. But you know what he also said, of course, if you add 30,000 troops into a security situation, especially as effective as the men and women that we have in uniform, that you would see a decrease in the violence in Iraq. But the surge --
CHETRY: You did see a decrease in violence and they did see a decrease in sectarian attacks.
GIBBS: Right. But what the purpose of the surge was to create a security environment that allowed the political factions in Iraq to come to an agreement as to how they themselves would govern their country. That's where the -- I think the grades are still very much out on that. We've seen very incomplete progress on whether or not the political reconciliation is going to take place in this country. That's what the surge was all about.
Of course, our men and women did heroic work. We also saw even before the surge started a Sunni awakening where the Sunnis took on Al Qaeda in Iraq in their region of the country. We saw a standing down of Shia militia. It's unclear if Barack Obama's plan -- if we would have given that a chance. What the effect of that would have been putting much more pressure on the Iraqis -- to come to a political reconciliation.
CHETRY: Are you saying that the jury is still out for Barack Obama as to whether or not the surge could be called a success in Iraq?
GIBBS: Well, again, has the security situation changed? Yes and yes for the positive. Have we seen the type of political reconciliation that's necessary for these factions to come together and govern their own country? We haven't quite seen that yet. That's what we still lack.
CHETRY: All right. Let's talk a little bit about the economics. Because it is, of course, "Issue #1" and Barack Obama is going to be meeting as we said with some economic advisers today. Some of the polling shows that most voters actually do agree with McCain's position in favor of increased drilling for offshore oil as well as building nuclear power plants. Now, Barack Obama has opposed both of them.
Why does he oppose those positions?
GIBBS: Well you know what we have to do in this country is take a series of short-term and long-term steps to address our economy. John McCain said a few months ago that he thought over the past eight years that we've made great progress in our economy, that people are doing a lot better.
I don't know what part of America he's talking to people at, but what we need to do is do what Barack Obama called for in January in the first stimulus and pass a second stimulus package that puts money into the pockets of Americans. We need to cut taxes on the middle- class. We have to make long-term investments in health care and education to drive the cost down on both of those, and also to invest in alternative energy so that we can produce more and more energy that's cleaner and safer.
Look, the truth is, we're not going to drill our way out of this problem. We never were. We have to make our cars more efficient. We have to invest in alternative energy. Only that way will we produce enough energy to drive down the demand and make it cheaper for people in this country.
CHETRY: What about the building of nuclear power plants?
GIBBS: Well, look, we think nuclear should be part of the mix of options that are considered. But right now, we don't have any place to store the waste that's produced in a nuclear power plant. John McCain thinks we ought to dump it all in Nevada. Barack Obama has opposed that for any number of science and safety reasons.
And unless or until we can find a place to store long-term the waste that's created on nuclear power plants, it's hard to see how that's a viable way of getting ourselves out of the energy mess that we're in right now. And we're in that mess for one simple reason -- for the last 20 or 30 years, Washington has failed to do anything at all to make this situation easier and better for the American people.
That's why we need a change because the only thing -- the most dangerous thing in this is doing the same thing over and over again. The same, old tired ideas. The very same ideas that John McCain endorses today.
CHETRY: Robert Gibbs, Obama campaign senior adviser. Thanks for being with us this morning.
GIBBS: Thanks for having me.