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Two Attacks Leave at Least 67 People Dead Across Iraq; Gasoline Prices Fall for the 11th Straight Day; Barack Obama Congratulates McCain for Possible Timetable on Iraq
Aired July 28, 2008 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It is one minute after the hour. Our breaking news this morning. Two separate attacks leaving at least 67 people dead across Iraq. In Baghdad, Iraqi officials say three female suicide bombers blew themselves up in front of thousands of Shiite pilgrims. At least 29 people were killed. And to the north in Kirkuk, police say gunman and another female suicide bomber killed at least 38 people at a Kurdish political rally.
The death toll rising after two explosions went off in a suburban neighborhood in Turkey. Killing at least 17 people and wounding more than 150. It happened about 10:00 at night on a crowded street in Istanbul. The city's governor said the attacks have links to a Kurdish rebel group, but so far that group has denied any responsibility.
Rebels say they sabotaged two oil pipelines in Southern Nigeria. The group says both lines belong to Shell. Officials from Shell say they are conducting an over fly to determine exactly what happened.
And for the 11th straight day, gasoline prices are down. Now, to about $3.96 a gallon. That's according to AAA. The price of oil also down to its lowest point in weeks now at $125 a barrel.
At two minutes after the hour. Presidential hopeful Barack Obama is congratulating his opponent John McCain for talking about the possible timetable for getting out of Iraq. Listen to what Senator McCain said to Wolf Blitzer, Friday, on "THE SITUATION ROOM."
(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), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: 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 -- horizons for withdrawal. But they have to be based on conditions on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Well, the McCain campaign is now denying that the senator was shifting positions. It's also attacking Obama on his overseas tour.
Dana Bash joins us now live from Boston this morning. Has Senator McCain, Dana, changed his position to support a phased withdrawal and a certain timeline?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the McCain campaign says absolutely not. But, you know, you just heard Senator McCain himself use the word "timetable", John. You know very well that has been a buzzword that Republicans including Senator McCain have tried to stay as far away from as possible, especially what you just heard Senator McCain do use that word in the same sentence as pretty good. A pretty good timetable.
When Republicans and even some McCain advisers heard him say that they winced. In some cases, they did more than winced because they felt that he was muddling his message. So, yesterday, he tried to clean it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Anything is a good timetable that is dictated by conditions on the ground. Anything is good. But the timetable is dictated not by an artificial date, but by the conditions on the ground. The conditions of security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, what this speaks to is really the difficulty that Senator McCain is having in trying to deal with the reality in terms of the debate right now. What you do see is him in some ways as the odd man out. Obviously, Barack Obama is supporting a 16-month timetable for withdrawal and he got some big time support from the Iraqi government last week, which said that they also supported him.
You also have the Bush White House now talking about the idea of time horizons. So, what Senator McCain is trying to do is soften his tone just a little bit with regard to talking about a timetable as not to seem like he's completely out of touch.
But what he's also trying to do is talk more and more, John, about the military. A military commanders and how he stands on their side, which is the fact that they -- they want troops to come home, but not with -- with not regarding conditions on the ground.
So, you're hearing Senator McCain talking more about that. But there was some concern over the weekend that perhaps what he said to Wolf Blitzer on CNN on Friday didn't necessarily help the big picture, a message that he's trying to get across.
ROBERTS: All right. Dana Bash for us this morning from Boston. Dana, thanks so much.
Senator John McCain, by the way, is going to be the guest on "LARRY KING LIVE." 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
And there are some new clues this morning into what may have caused a massive hole to open up in the side of a Qantas aircraft at 29,000 feet. Investigators say they found fragments of a missing oxygen bottle that may have exploded in flight. In April, the United States FAA warned airlines to check oxygen bottles aboard the jumbo jets. Earlier I spoke with former NTSB crash investigator Greg Feith about whether that warning is related to what happened aboard the Qantas jet line?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG FEITH, FORMER NTSB CRASH INVESTIGATOR: We have two separate events here. We have a bottle that has failed, whether it was the regulator or the bottle itself. The airworthiness directive or the inspection that the FAA called for was the actual mounting bracket so that this bottle wouldn't come loose.
They're one in the same, but they're not. That is, it does affect the bottle, but in this particular instance, it may not have been the bracket that failed to cause the bottle to come loose. It may have been the bottle itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: So, they are still investigating this morning to find out more. Meantime, the chief executive of Qantas said that more than likely the blast was not something that the airlines could have controlled.
ROBERTS: Out of this world. Richard Branson joins us live with a big announcement on plans to make space tourism a reality.
CHETRY: The effort to register more than 9 million Latino voters falls on the shoulders of those barely old enough to vote themselves. We'll have the story of one teen who is counting the table.
ROBERTS: Down and out in Hollywood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, to see somebody who makes millions of dollars have financial troubles, it gets hard for the average person to sympathize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: One time millionaires who can't pay the mortgage. And a surprising look at who might be next. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."
ROBERTS: The Pet Shop Boys this morning on opportunities. And are there some opportunities out there in the housing market now that the Senate working overtime has passed this massive housing bill?
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, if you're in trouble with your mortgage, you definitely want to pay attention, because there are some opportunities out there for you. Let's go over some of the details of the bill first. It allows struggling homeowners to refinance at affordable fixed rate loans. There's some $300 billion set aside for just that and they're changing the caps for either loans to be backed by the FHA to $625,000 from $417,000.
You breathe a sigh of relief if you have a jumbo loan out there. And, of course, you probably want to think about the home buyer credit. If you're a first-time home buyer out there, you can take a tax credit up to $7,500 but you have to pay it back.
And of course, let's talk a little bit about how you take advantage of this big insured loan program. Here's what you need to know. Your loan had to be made between January of 2005 and June of 2007. You have to spend at least 31 percent of your gross income on housing.
You can be in default or not. It doesn't really matter. But you have to not be able to afford your house. You have to prove that, in fact. The next thing you want to do is pay off HELOCs. If you can, lines of credit, because they're only going to refi that main loan.
You have to get rid of that extra additional debt. And then, finally, contact an FHA-approved lender which you can find at the web site hud.gov. Hud.gov or your mortgage servicer for more details.
But I got to tell you, John, not available until October, if then. Hardest thing is it's going to be difficult to rewrite these rules until that time. So, it's going to take a while before this program really gets off the ground.
ROBERTS: And how many people might go into foreclosure by that time?
WILLIS: Well, we know that this particular law will help as many as 400,000 people. We've got over 1 million people in foreclosure right now, so some folks probably will fall into foreclosure, pretty safe number, maybe 200,000. That's what we've been running month to month. You know, hundreds of thousands of people will go into foreclosure while we're waiting for this bill to go into effect.
ROBERTS: Gerri, thanks so much for that.
WILLIS: My pleasure.
CHETRY: Well, it's not just average Americans facing foreclosure. Some of Hollywood's biggest names are being caught up in this mortgage mess. Their big fancy homes are in jeopardy.
Our Brooke Anderson tells us which stars are already facing foreclosure and who could be next -- Brooke.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, the recent rash of foreclosures is a reality not just for mainstream America but the celebrity sets as well.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Celebrities like Michael Jackson amassed multimillion dollar fortunes with their music and videos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's Johnny!
ANDERSON: But sky-high salaries couldn't save these stars from the mortgage crisis gripping the nation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Celebrities just like normal American citizens can be moving paycheck to paycheck too and can get in over their heads.
ANDERSON: Boxing champ Evander Holyfield is less than three weeks away from losing his Georgia mansion in a public auction. The heavyweight is in default on a $750,000 loan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you spend more money than you make, you know what happens?
ANDERSON: Ed McMahon risks foreclosure after falling $644,000 behind on a $4.8 million loan. McMahon's publicist is optimistic, telling CNN the home has not sold but is still on the market and people are looking.
Michael Jackson narrowly avoided losing Neverland Ranch this year when an investment firm bailed him out of a delinquent $24 million loan. But former baseball MVP Jose Conseco did forfeit his California home, citing cash-flow problems due in part to costly divorces.
MARK DAVID, THE REALESTALKER: You know, to see somebody who makes millions of dollars in the course of their career have financial troubles. You know, I think it's hard for the average person to sympathize with that.
ANDERSON: Mark David tracks celebrity real estate moves and said it's often the extravagant taste of the rich and famous that costs them later, which David said could some day be the case for Ellen DeGeneres.
DAVID: She spent like $40 million putting this compound together. It remains to be seen whether she could ever turn around and sell that for $40 million.
ANDERSON: And reality TV star Denise Richards.
DENISE RICHARDS, ACTRESS: Nothing is working.
DAVID: She buys and sells every year, and she doesn't really seem to make any money. And in fact, she's actually lost money.
ANDERSON: Proof not even Hollywood royalty are immune to the housing meltdown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are probably hundreds of other people whose names you would recognize who just haven't bubbled up to the surface.
ANDERSON: Ed McMahon financial situations could soon change. He filed two lawsuits. One against the man who owns the home, where McMahon fell and broke his neck, the other against Cedar Sinai Medical Center where he was treated for that injury.
John, Kiran, back to you.
ROBERTS: Brooke Anderson for us this morning. Brooke, thanks so much.
Rob Marciano in the CNN weather center in Atlanta. He's tracking extreme weather today. What do you got on the horizon this morning?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We've got extreme heat. We've got thunderstorms. And we've got what's leftover from Dolly. A typhoon in Taiwan. And we'll talk about the Atlantic problems. Lots of stuff. AMERICAN MORNING will be right back.
CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. CNN's Rob Marciano watching extreme weather for us. You have some pictures to prove it of this typhoon.
MARCIANO: Yes. Crazy stuff happening over in Taiwan. This is the second typhoon to hit Taiwan in this last couple of weeks and they average like five a year. So, take a look at those pups, man. Just huddling around the pillar for their lives. The torrent of river -- torrent of water there. Twenty-eight inches of rainfall. Over two feet of rain with this typhoon that cranks through Taiwan yesterday and now heading towards China.
And as that happens, they will see the similar situation with heavy winds and big time rain. You could see it re-strengthen but it looks likely to be in our vernacular a category one storm when it slams into China later on today.
As far as our tropic is concern, we are looking at fairly quiet weather. A couple of tropical waves in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the extreme Eastern Coast of the U.S. Looking pretty good. So, that's good news there. Pretty quite but it will be hot.
Temperatures to be up and over 100 in Dallas, 95 degrees in Nashville, 98 degrees in Kansas City.
And, Kiran, because you put me on the spot. I'll show you this. Talk about pictures way back when. When I worked in Lake Charles, Louisiana, many moons ago, a viewer grabbed this off of the TV and made a mug. And that's me. How about that? I'm a little bit of a smug because someone didn't like it.
But, there you go, Kiran. You got it?
CHETRY: Wait, we need a close-up. We need a close-up. And take your finger off of it.
MARCIANO: OK. Yes, thanks, Heidi. You got me in trouble for this. I appreciate that.
CHETRY: Wait. He looks exactly the same, John, doesn't he?
MARCIANO: Well, it was just last year when I was working at Lake Charles. So, there's your forecast, partly cloudy, 93 degrees and 30 percent chance of rain. We've covered our base.
CHETRY: What a letdown. I was hoping to see a mullet. Some sort of --perhaps frosted tips in the front.
MARCIANO: Listen. You know, when mullets were in, I was just in grade school. Come on, how old do you think I am?
CHETRY: You weren't forecasting weather yet. That was middle school.
MARCIANO: Not yet. See you guys tomorrow.
ROBERTS: Thanks, Rob.
ROBERTS: Eighteen minutes after the hour. How is this for a way to spend a hot weekend in Tucson, Arizona? A beer marathon!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLOTTE THE HARLOT, MARATHON TIMEKEEPER: Do a lap, drink a beer. Do a lap, drink a beer. Do a lap, drink a beer. We'll see how far they get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: They are all members of a club. One that's described as a drinking club with a running problem. One member said he was getting ready to go to Iraq and this was his last chance to do something really crazy. Club members had fun. They had plenty of water on hand, though, to make sure everyone stay safe.
CHETRY: How far did they get? (INAUDIBLE) 26.2 miles.
ROBERTS: Over that thing, no.
CHETRY: Wow. Looks fun.
Latino voters expected to turn out in record numbers to vote in November's election. We're going to tag along with one teenager as she tries to round up people to register.
ROBERTS: And you want a seat on one of the worlds' first commercial space flights? Richard Branson is here to tell you how you can get it. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."
CHETRY: More than 9 million Latinos expected to vote in this November's election. This group could have a huge role in selecting the next president. And Thelma Gutierrez tells us the task of getting all of those voters registered in some cases has fallen to teenagers, barely old enough to vote themselves -- Thelma?
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, a new generation of Latinos began to mobilize two years ago with the immigration marches. Back then, many were just teenagers who were chanting -- today, we march; tomorrow, we vote. For them, that day has come.
GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Saturday morning, 7:00 a.m. 18-year-old Sheila Salinas is preparing for a big day -- to register as many new Latino voters as she can.
VOICE OF SHEILA SALINAS, VOTER REGISTRATION VOLUNTEER: My parents are from Mexico. We've been here for, like, 10 years.
GUTIERREZ: Sheila's father is a day laborer, her mother a babysitter. Her dream is to become a lawyer to help other immigrant families whom she says need a political voice. One they can only get if they register to vote. So, she rides the bus for an hour across town.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be canvassing to try to register new voters.
GUTIERREZ: For the next several hours, Sheila and others like her hit the street and knock on doors.
SALINAS: We want to see if you already registered to vote. (SPEAKING SPANISH). Well, have you registered to vote?
GUTIERREZ: When they're not canvassing --
SALINAS: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
GUTIERREZ: They cold call potential voters. The goal of this immigrant rights organization is to register 20,000. They're almost there.
(on camera): You're giving up part of your weekends and your evenings to register people. Why?
SALINAS: Why? Because we need to vote. We need that vote of Latinos. We need the vote of everyone who can vote to make change.
GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Change is on the horizon. An historic 9.2 million Latino voters are expected to vote in November, giving Latinos the fastest-growing minority group a decisive role in 2008.
OBAMA: This election could well be decided by Latino voters.
MCCAIN: I will honor their contributions to America for as long as I live.
GUTIERREZ (on camera): When you hear that, what goes through your mind?
SALINAS: It's like, really, like, power, you know? Latinos have power.
ARTURO VARGAS, NATL. ASSOC. OF LATION ELECTED OFFICIALS: We're now going to see both senators, McCain and Obama, campaigning strongly for the Latino vote in the way that no presidential campaign has done before. And I think this will be an opportunity for Latinos to really decide this election.
GUTIERREZ: Sheila just turned 18, and according to the latest U.S. census figures, she's just one of 50,000 Latinos who turn 18 each month and are now eligible to vote -- John, Kiran.
ROBERTS: Our Thelma Gutierrez for us this morning.
Thelma, thanks so much.
Twenty-three minutes after the hour, a mission to space and to take tourists along for the ride. Richard Branson here with his big announcement. That's coming up next.
And investigators discover new clues into what may have ripped a nine-foot hole in a Qantas jumbo jet. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."
ROBERTS: It's coming up at 26 minutes after the hour. It is one giant leap toward making space tourism a reality. Sir Richard Branson today debuting the White Knight 2. The aircraft will ferry a commercial spaceship into suborbital flight.
And joining us now live from Mojave, California is Sir Richard Branson.
Sir Richard, good to see you this morning. Describe the aircraft behind you, if you would. What is it? What does it do? And how much more can it lift than the last one?
SIR RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, VIRGIN GROUP: Well, it's -- first of all, a very beautiful craft. It's got two massive pods. The spaceship will hang from the middle of the mother ship.
And this mother ship will be able to take the spaceship up to 60,000 feet, where the spaceship we dropped off and head off into space. It's a much bigger craft because the spaceship can be much bigger. The spaceship will carry eight astronauts. You know, six who -- well, not be astronauts when they take off and the two astronauts flying it. It's eight astronauts when they come back.
ROBERTS: And we were just chatting off camera a second ago, you said that the pods will also carry the spectators' family members who are watching their loved ones getting shot off into space as well. Might be some nervous people on board those aircraft.
BRANSON: I'm sure. I'm going up myself and I'm sure my stomach is going to turn. My children, my parents are going up. So, you know, of course, there's going to be an element of nervousness, but it will be, I think, the journey of a lifetime. It will be a -- you know, the one thing in my life that I remember about everything else.
ROBERTS: Oh, I'm sure.
BRANSON: And, you know, you got to have a little bit of nervousness.
ROBERTS: You know, we remember a couple of years ago, when Spaceship 1 made it up into suborbital space, what is the experience going to be like for these people? And for yourself as well going up there.
BRANSON: Well, unlike Spaceship 1, our spaceship's much bigger. So, on Spaceship 2, you'll be able to float around when you're in space. We've got enormous windows. I mean, you can actually - you know, the windows here give you an idea. The views out the windows are spectacular.
And you'll be able to look back at the earth. You'll be able to make sure that it is grand and that they actually got that right. And -- and marvel at the beauty of our earth and then, hopefully, when you come back down again you'll set about trying to look after it.
ROBERTS: Are you serving drinks, providing massages like you do on Virgin Airways?
BRANSON: We may well have a galactic stewardess on board to look after you. We'll see.
ROBERTS: So, what is the cost and how many people have signed up and who has signed up?
BRANSON: Well, it's not cheap initially, but it's a lot cheaper than people have been able to do it before. It's a couple hundred thousands dollars to go.
BRANSON: And hopefully over a number of years, we'll be able to get the price down rather than it going up. And they -- we've had a couple of hundred people who paid up the full $200,000 and they're coming to Mojave today to celebrate today with us.
ROBERTS: So, who are these -- moguls of business, entertainers? Who are they?
BRANSON: Well, interestingly, I mean, it's all sorts. We've got Steven Hawkins, for instance, and James Lovelock, one of the greatest environmentalists alive today who is 90 years old. And we've got, you know, Philippe Starck, the designer, and business people, all sorts of people.
And, you know, just people -- you know, people who like to live life to its full and, you know, space is magnificent and they want to see it.
ROBERTS: Don't be surprised if Philippe Starck goes up in space that the interior of the spacecraft will be re-done by the time it gets back down. Now, I recall the very --
BRANSON: It was he that designed the outside, so I'm sure he'd love to get his hands on its (INAUDIBLE).
ROBERTS: There you go. Yes, I recall the very first flight of Spaceship 1. That was something of a nail-biter. Is this ready for prime time?
BRANSON: Yes, it is. I mean, obviously, this is experimental. We will send 50 flights into space before we take anybody on board. So, you know, so we will try and test it before you know, I take my parents and my children up into space and take other people.
And - but, you know, I was standing here when Space Ship One took off. It was completely experimental and I was glad to see it - you know, glad to see it successful and - but, you know - but that was the early pioneers. Every flight we have from now on we'll make it safer and safer.
ROBERTS: So, when is your flight scheduled, your particular flight?
BRANSON: My guess is about 18 months from now.
ROBERTS: All right.
BRANSON: You know, we're not setting a definite date. But now the mother ship is ready, about nine months from now the spaceship will be ready. We'll then be doing extensive flights into space for about a year to 15 months and you're very welcome on board.
ROBERTS: I can't imagine 18 months of anticipation. It's going to be amazing. Richard Branson, it's always an inspiration to talk to you. Thanks for being with us this morning. Good luck to the project.
BRANSON: Thanks you very much.
ROBERTS: All right.
CHETRY: Coming up at 30 minutes past the hour. We have breaking news this morning in another violent day across Iraq. Officials say more than 60 people were killed during two separate attacks in Baghdad. Police say three female suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing at least 30 people. In Kirkuk, gunman and another female suicide bomber killed at least 38 people in a protest rally. At least 260 people were wounded in the attacks.
Terrifying moments out of Turkey where officials believe a Kurdish rebel group is to blame for two explosions that left at least 17 people dead. More than 150 wounded. It happened last night on a crowded street in Istanbul. So far the rebel group has denied any responsibility.
Local and federal authorities are searching for clues this morning about why a man opened fire at a church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two people in the shooting rampage Sunday morning, wounding seven others. That suspect, 58-year-old Jim Adkisson, is behind bars and now facing murder charges.
CNN's Rusty Dornin is in Knoxville, Tennessee, for us right now with more.
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 that 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, the 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 - a little panic at the beginning, we couldn't find three of the kids. We had to run out, by the time we got in there to help search in the woods with the kids. But we located everyone. They went to one of the churches next door.
DORNIN: Investigator checked the timeline of the shooting may get a boost from several people who were videotaping the children's play.
CHIEF STERLING OWEN, KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE POLICE: For those of you who had experience in this, you know oftentimes you believe a video camera captures more than it actually does, but we're going to review each and every one of them.
DORNIN (on-camera): Adkisson reportedly was not a member of this congregation. Leaving the nagging question of why? His bail has been set at $1 million. John and Kiran.
ROBERTS: Rusty Dornin in Knoxville this morning. Rusty, thanks so much.
The debate about when to pull troops out of Iraq heated up after Barack Obama's trip there. Obama has long been in favor of a 16-month timetable, an idea that John McCain seemed to warm up to last Friday when talking with Wolf Blitzer. But earlier, I spoke with McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds, who pointed out what he thinks is the big difference in their plans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER BOUNDS, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN NATIONAL SPOKESMAN: The difference between the two candidates going that's going in November is that Barack Obama wants a rigid timeline for withdrawal. John McCain wants to start reducing our troops, keeping the gains in 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's 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Bounds also defended the campaign's attack ad against Obama for canceling a visit to injured troops while in Germany.
Barack Obama is will be focused on "Issue #1" today. He's meeting with top economists. Yesterday, he closed out the Unity conference for minority journalists by participating in a forum hosted by our own Suzanne Malveaux. Here to tell us more about that is Suzanne. She's in Washington now. Good morning.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Senator Obama's first public appearance since returning to the U.S. from his trip overseas, I got a chance along with other journalists to ask him about a host of issues from affirmative action, immigration, race, but really the thrust of the interview is what he took away from his magnanimous trip to Europe and the Middle East.
And Obama took on John McCain and his critics head-on. Some would have suggested that he was appearing to run for president of the world because of these historic crowds that he attracted. And Obama said that he established relationships, trust with key leaders, who came away with some confidence, that he really is someone that they can deal with. But Obama did acknowledge that he was uncertain whether this trip would translate into votes back home. Let's take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know the political effect of this when I come back. You know, I think people are worried about gas prices. They're worried about job security. They're worried about their retirement funds as the stock market goes down. So, probably a week of me focusing on international issues doesn't necessarily translate into higher poll numbers here in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Obama says that he knows that voters are concerned about the media effects of the economy, so that's really what he's going to be talking about for the duration of the campaign. As a matter of fact today, John, he is meeting with his economic team assembled here in Washington and some of those heavy hitters include billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and CEO of Google. John.
ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning from Washington. Suzanne, thanks. Great job yesterday, by the way.
CHETRY: And Alina Cho is here now with some other stories new this morning.
Hey, Alina. Good to see you.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. Good morning, guys. Again, good morning, everybody.
New this morning. Right now, investigators are testing pieces of what appears to be an oxygen cylinder that was recover from that Qantas jet that made an emergency landing after a hole tore through the 747 fuselage.
Investigators believe one of the oxygen cylinders on the jet may have exploded during the flight. The company's chief executive says more than likely the blast was out of their control.
A towering plume of smoke, the historic grand pier destroyed by a massive fire. It was a popular summer tourist spot with rides and games in western England. More than two dozen firefighters responded to this. No reports of injuries. The pier was built back in 1904. It actually had to be rebuilt in 1930 because it was destroyed back then by a fire, too.
The young star of the new "Indiana Jones" movie, actor Shia Labeouf has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. The 22-year- old Labeouf was trying to make a left turn when his truck collided with another car and rolled over. Take a look at that. The actor injured his knee and his hand in the accident. Nobody else was hurt. It happened by the way in west Hollywood.
And the "Dark Knight" has already made more than $300 million at the box office. Have you guys seen this? I haven't seen it yet.
CHETRY: Not yet.
CHO: I got to - let's all go out and do an AMERICAN MORNING movie night!
ROBERTS: You have to be able to stay up at night.
CHO: That's right.
CHETRY: Movie day.
ROBERTS: I could do a movie afternoon, yes.
CHO: What was incredible about this is it only took 10 days to make $300 million. That makes it the fastest movie ever to reach that mark. The "Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest" took six days longer to reach $300 million. That happened back in 2006. "The Dark Knight" is still making money, of course. Earning another $75 million this weekend. Finishing number one at the box office again. And they're saying that it could make as much as "Titanic" did back in 1997. That was over $100 million. And I guess, you know, their movie - has come that close. Yes, ever. And that's domestically. Just in the U.S., yes.
CHETRY: We should go see it! Everyone else is doing it. Thanks, Alina.
CHETRY: Yes, right. Noon.
CHETRY: Well, is the mustache making a comeback? Yankee slugger Jason Giambi grew one and then started hitting the cover off the ball. You know how they are with this superstitions in baseball. We're going to take a look at the power of the 'stache.
ROBERTS (voice-over): Running on empty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to be going to the shows. You just suck it up.
ROBERTS: Hard rockers struggling to keep the bands rolling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wouldn't be able to tour at this point.
ROBERTS: Playing gigs at $4. You're watching the most news in the morning.
ROBERTS: It is one of the greatest traditions of American music, life on the road, inspiring songs and entertaining fans. But soaring gas prices are focusing some - or forcing, rather, some musicians off the road at a time when it couldn't be more crucial for the artist's survival. CNN's Kareen Wynter explains.
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, good morning. CD sales just aren't what they used to be, so most musicians are relying on live shows and touring as their main source of income. But what happens when gas prices are so high, you can't afford to hit the road?
LUCY WALSH: My gas tank is almost on empty. For the third time this week.
WYNTER (voice-over): Lucy Walsh is used to life in the fast lane. She's the daughter of famous Eagles' guitarist Joe Walsh. But this traveling musician, who is financing her own career after being dropped by her label, says life on the road as an aspiring artist isn't what it used to be with rising gas prices.
WALSH: Because now I'm just booking flights because it kind of evens out to the same price.
WYNTER: Walsh says she used to spend $35 filling up her tank, now it cost's her $65. For a young musician, every penny counts when your income hinges on tours and business meetings.
WALSH: You cannot cut back on driving. I have no choice. I have to be going to these meetings. I have to be going to play these shows. So, you just suck it up and you spend the money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it's not my time. I'm not going there.
WYNTER: Even more established acts are feeling the pinch. Earlier this year, "3 Doors Down" downsized from seven buses and six trucks to three buses and one truck for a stripped-down tour.
BRAD ARNOLD, "3 DOORS DOWN": And it costs us about the same in fuel as it did then. It's pretty strange.
GARY BONGIOVANI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "POLLSTAR" MAGAZINE: Most artists are finding their real source of income is coming from live touring. And they don't want to waste it all on overhead expenses.
I don't mind every day.
WYNTER: Adam Levine from "Maroon Five" admits gas prices would severely put a crimp in their career. They were just starting out.
ADAM LEVINE, "MAROON 5": The saddest thing, you know, is we had been touring in a van which we did for a year and a half, we wouldn't even be able to tour at this point.
WYNTER: So while her dad tours the world in private jets and limousines, up-and-coming artists like Lucy Walsh stay closer to home and build their following on the internet instead of on the interstate.
WYNTER: Walsh is spending her time wisely at home, just this week. She laid down a recording of "Heart of the Matter" by her old family friend Don Henley. John, Kiran.
CHETRY: All right, Kareen Wynter, thanks.
Well, the power of the 'stache. The Yankee slugger Jason Giambi grew a mustache and went on a hot streak. But is it fit for the average Joe?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think you attract women more with a mustache?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. I got seven women.
ROTH: Where, in the truck?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really not very attractive at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. He looks much better without it like you do.
CHETRY: A look at this, hair raising trend. You're watching the most news in the morning.
CHETRY: All athletes are known to have superstition especially in baseball, the king of all superstitious sports. The Yankees' Jason Giambi has a stupor 'stache as in a mustache. So after growing it he had a power surge at the plate and now his lip burn has grown a legend of its own. CNN's Richard Roth is following this. You're on mustache patrol this week.
ROTH: That's right. Giambi had a winning hit against the arch rival, Boston Red Sox. He got a double play on Saturday which I'm not happy about. The mustache is small and people don't like the look on it on him. But it's brought change, mustache power, New York Yankee Bronx bomber style.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Power of the 'stache.'
ROTH (voice-over): It's the mustache that took Manhattan, and all of New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giambi drives one to right field. This is deep. Towards the corner. This one is gone!
ROTH: New York Yankees' baseball slugger Jason Giambi was in a slump, so he decided to grow a mustache.
JASON GIAMBI, NEW YORK YANKEES: You know, it's kind of grown into its own like a little personality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...in center field for a base hit.
ROTH: The base hit kept on coming for Giambi. And the Yankees, an organization that frowns on facial hair, started winning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 'stache, the power of the 'stache. Giambi's 'stache.
ROTH: Then a hair-raising trend flourished on the sidewalks of New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see a lot of guys coming in with the mustache. Must be something new.
ROTH: Of course, mustaches never get old. From cartoon stars to movie actors to television detectives to presidents, the mustache is part of world history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Gandhi. He had a mustache, right? Gandhi is the best.
ROTH: It's men and their mustaches that 95-year-old's Paul (Molay) barber shop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a crowd of people gathering, your mustache is a distinct thing.
ROTH: But are mustache's sexy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It depends on who is wearing it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all.
ROTH: But you'll accept Giambi's?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, as long as the Yankees keep winning.
ROTH: Do you think you attract women more with a mustache?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. I got seven women.
ROTH: Where in the truck?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really not that very attractive at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. He looks better without it. Like you do.
ROTH: The mustaches can get out of control. ERIC BROWN, GOTHAM CITY BEARDSMEN ALLIANCE: It's kind of big and freaky now, I guess.
ROTH: Is there a special power behind the mustache?
GIAMBI: I hope so. Because we've been winning since I started growing it. So, if we get to the world championship, I can look like an idiot for a while.
ROTH: Mustache madness climaxed at the Yankee Stadium this month when the team handed out 20,000 fake mustaches to the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mustaches all over.
ROTH: One opposing player told Giambi his mustache is so bad, it's awesome. If the Yankees don't advance to the championship, that mustache is going to disappear, just like the stadium he's playing in now.
CHETRY: So, you're basically saying that wearing a mustache helps you do your job better.
ROTH: I'm not saying that. You are. Whoever you are now. By the way, these mustaches, we got to thank the people at Forum Novelties.
CHETRY: Now you're giving shout-outs for these things?
ROTH: Yes. We found a lot of women, I got to tell you, every woman I asked doesn't like the mustache. Why is that?
CHETRY: No. I'd have to say no.
CHETRY: It obscures the guy's face and it doesn't feel so good either.
ROTH: Don't you like to touch it?
CHETRY: That's a personal question, Richard! I tell you what, though, these fake ones are not too comfortable. They attach at the nose. Now I know why bulls are so angry.
ROTH: I don't know how you know that. But all right, fine. You know, I'll take your 'stache back. 'Stache power. Yankees moving up on the Red Sox.
ROBERTS: I'll tell you, it's about the silliest thing I've ever heard! But I also have to - oh, look at this. I also have to tell you this, though. Kiran actually makes that thing look good. Thanks, Richard.
Now, coming up on nine minutes to the top of the hour. CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away now. Heidi Collins at the CNN center. She's got a look at what's ahead. Good morning.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don't you drag me into this. No way I'm going there.
ROBERTS: Give it your best.
COLLINS: All right. Unfortunately on the NEWSROOM rundown we need to talk about this - the church rampage. Police expected to update us this morning. Two worshipers have died now from the gunfire in Tennessee. Five others fighting for their lives as we speak.
Wildfire threatening 2,000 homes near Yosemite National Park this morning, more than three dozen buildings have burned.
And four suicide bombers and a gunman strike in Iraq today. The death toll is high.
The president may sign the housing rescue bill into law today. We'll be watching that. What's in it for you? We'll be talking about all of it at the top of the hour right here in the NEWSROOM. John.
ROBERTS: Heidi looking forward to it. We'll see you soon.
Trying to slow and even stop Alzheimer's disease, Elizabeth Cohen has got the details for us this morning. Hey, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. There may be new drugs that can help people avoid Alzheimer's disease and I'll have all the details about this breakthrough studies when AMERICAN MORNING returns.
ROBERTS: Every 72 seconds someone develops Alzheimer's disease according to the Alzheimer's Association. Researchers are in Chicago this week trying to figure out how to stop the debilitating disease. CNN's medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is in Atlanta for us this morning. Let's start with drugs, Elizabeth. What are the latest developments in terms of this drug therapy and what are the applications?
COHEN: John, it's not often that we hear great news about drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease, there's not that much out of there. So, this is truly exciting coming out of an Alzheimer's meeting in Chicago. What researchers have found was when folks are taking drugs called the angiotensin receptors, that it delays dementia by two years. Now, these are drugs that are taken for heart failure, for blood pressure, for various other reasons and this is some sort of a coincidence that it seemed to actually slow the progression of Alzheimer's or delay when you're going to get it. And there's another drug, John, this one is an antihistamine of all things that seems to stop or even reverse Alzheimer's disease once people get it. It's a small study, but it looks pretty promising. John.
ROBERTS: So, the first class of drugs, angiotensin receptors inhibitors, is that what they are? COHEN: They are. And so what they do is they act on what blood does in your blood vessels. And so the thinking is that if it works for blood pressure and it works for heart failure, perhaps it might have something to do with blood flow to the brain as well.
ROBERTS: Wow. I'm on those. And I feel as stupid as ever.
COHEN: There you go. I don't know. You look pretty smart to me.
ROBERTS: What about exercise and Alzheimer's?
COHEN: You know. This is another exciting study coming out of this conference in Chicago. What they found is that folks who got lots of good cardiovascular exercise, exercise that really gets your heart going, that when they got Alzheimer's, these folks had a slower progression of the disease. It didn't stop the disease, but it seemed to slow the progression. So, another reason to get lots of exercise.
ROBERTS: Yes, anything that can increase blood flow to the brain, I guess, is a good thing, huh?
COHEN: Exactly. That's the basic principle.
ROBERTS: All right. Fascinating stuff. Elizabeth, thanks very much. Good to see you this morning.
COHEN: Good to see you.
CHETRY: Well, Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking out this morning. We're going to have his reaction to what he says are new diplomatic efforts by the U.S.. You're watching the most news in the morning.
CHETRY: This just in, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talking to NBC's Brian Williams about the new approach to the U.S. talking nuclear talks. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If this is the continuation of the old process, well, the Iranian people need to defend its rights, its interests as well. But if the approach changes, we will be facing a new situation, and the response by the Iranian people will be a positive one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: In a shift in U.S. policy, President Bush recently sent senior U.S. diplomat William Burns to talks in Geneva with Iranian officials.
ROBERTS: See if more comes out of that. An interesting statement he had there. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We will see you back right here bright and early tomorrow morning.
CHETRY: Right now, CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins.