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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
An Update on Myanmar from the International Red Cross; Should Students Get Big Bucks to Get Good Grades?; Will Government Close Anthrax Killing Investigation Now That Main Suspect is Dead?; Possible Signs of Change Between U.S. and Iran?
Aired August 2, 2008 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It's August 2nd. Good morning. I'm Rob Marciano, in for T.J. Holmes.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen, back from Myanmar.
MARCIANO: Yes, and welcome home.
NGUYEN: Finally, yes.
MARCIANO: When was the last time you sat on this anchor desk?
NGUYEN: It's been way over a month.
MARCIANO: And where is T.J. now? Do you know?
NGUYEN: We just can't seem to get our schedules together again (ph).
MARCIANO: I think he's being a little passive aggressive, kind of like the pet, you know, when you go away for a long trip, the pet goes in the corner.
NGUYEN: He's a little upset at me for being gone for so long.
And speaking of Myanmar, though, I went inside the secretive nation to show you the cyclone devastation and the lack of aid, to those dead bodies still rotting along the delta.
So, the question today is this -- is any progress being made? We're going to get an update from the International Red Cross. Stay tuned for that.
MARCIANO: And, we've got this horrifying (ph) story of a woman who was attacked by a bear...
NGUYEN: Look at her.
MARCIANO: ... in outside of Los Angeles.
NGUYEN: Lucky to be alive.
MARCIANO: Yes, lucky to be alive. She's going to tell us -- give us all the details. It's really something that you're going to want to hear.
NGUYEN: And, should students get big bucks to get good grades? That's the question. Here's another one. How's that working for them? Are they really getting those good grades? Josh Levs has a reality check for us this morning.
A lots of good stuff on the table but let's start with this -- the government is expected to decide soon whether to close the anthrax killing investigation now that its main suspect is dead.
MARCIANO: Yes, sources say scientist, Bruce Ivins, killed himself this week as authorities were preparing to indict him on murder charges. Anthrax-laced letters killed five people back in 2001 and more than a dozen others sick. The government suspects Ivins may have sent the letters to test the vaccine he was working on.
NGUYEN: You know, no charges have been made public in this case, but family and victims of the anthrax mailings are reacting to this news.
So, we want to get more on that from CNN's Brianna Keilar in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
So, Brianna, did those who knew him see this coming?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly didn't. Certainly, neighbors in this area in Maryland did not see this coming. But I just want to tell you first, Betty, where I am. We're in Fort Detrick which is where the biodefense lab where Bruce Ivins worked for decades is.
And it was a U.S. official familiar with this investigation told CNN that investigators used genetic technology to basically isolate exactly the specific type of anthrax that was used in this 2001 attack. And that is what led them back here to Fort Detrick, and obviously, to Bruce Ivins.
As I said, Ivins lived not far from here. He was a part of this community and his neighbors say they're saddened by the news. They say he was very involved in his church, that he was a very dedicated person, but it was obvious, even to them, that as long as a year ago authorities were keeping an eye on him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BONNIE DUGGAN, NEIGHBOR OF BRUCE IVINS: We knew that Bruce worked at Fort Detrick. We knew that he worked with pathogens. You know, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they might be looking at him. But our knowledge of him, personally, would belie any feelings we might have that there might be any connection. He -- you know, it's not like you might say that the person gave off vibes, that they might be a dangerous person -- no, not at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Well, however, Ivins' older brother, whom we should mention, is estranged or was estranged from Bruce Ivins, says that he wouldn't put this past his brother. He said he suspected that his brother didn't want to face the music. But Ivins' lawyer says the reason he committed suicide had nothing to do with guilt. He said that it had everything to do with the stress of being under such a watchful eye of the government.
Now, that said, we're still waiting for some details from the government. Remember, shortly after 2001, this investigation is very much centered around another researcher from right here at Fort Detrick, from this biodefense lab, and that researcher recently settled a case with the U.S. government for millions of dollars for the invasion of his privacy.
So, still, Betty, a lot of unanswered questions here.
NGUYEN: All right, back to Ivins for just a second, Brianna. There is some word that he may have spent some time in a mental facility. Is that true?
KEILAR: And the word that we get from this is because there are court documents, apparently there was a temporary restraining order against him, that the woman had a temporary restraining order against him in the last 30 days. So, very recently. And apparently, according to court documents, she had told a court that he was stalking her, and she mentioned that he had been in a mental health facility somewhat recently. So, that's where we're getting that information, Betty.
NGUYEN: Obviously, more information will come out as we learn more about this investigation.
Brianna Keilar is joining us live this morning. Thank you, Brianna.
MARCIANO: Well, Bruce Ivins has been described as a brilliant but troubled scientist. Despite the cloud of suspicion hanging over him in the anthrax investigation, some friends and colleagues say he was a good person.
Scott Broom of our affiliate WUSA reports from outside Fort Detrick, Maryland.
DR. W. RUSSEL BURNS, IVINS' FORMER COLLEAGUE: The people who knew him well cannot imagine that he had anything to do with this. I think the pressure of the investigation was just too much for him to bear.
SCOTT BROOM, WUSA REPORTER (voice over): Dr. W. Russell Burns worked elbow to elbow with Bruce Ivins at Detrick on anthrax research for 15 years. He is stunned by the suicide, more stunned by the suspicion that Ivins was the anthrax terrorist.
BURNS: He was a good scientist. He was also a good person. He volunteered his time with the Red Cross. He was very generous with his time at church that we went to, St. Johns.
BROOM: Burns said Ivins' emotional collapse came two weeks ago when he was escorted from Detrick under guard, in the wake of a filing of a peace order by his therapist.
BURNS: I think it would have been too much for anybody. And -- particularly considering what happened in the last couple of weeks.
DUGGAN: I always got the impression that he was the confident (ph) scientist.
BROOM: To neighbors like Bonnie Duggan, Bruce Ivins was the scientist down the street and the good neighbor on the block.
DUGGAN: I'm just devastated for his family. You know, this is just a big loss. It's a big loss for the neighborhood, too.
BURNS: I'm just sad that it ended. But I'll tell you this, it doesn't change what we knew about him. It doesn't change the person that we knew. It doesn't change the person that we remember, regardless of how it ended up.
NGUYEN: In other news, a convicted child molester in Florida is finally behind bars. Aaron Mohanlal is a former Broward County teacher. He's sentenced to 43 years for sexually abusing a 13-year- old student. Now, for the past year, he's been out of jail pending an appeal.
MARCIANO: Well, the story was recently featured on CNN.com and generated a huge amount of interest. On Friday, a judge revoked Mohanlal's bond because the properties that he put up as collateral were discovered to be almost worthless.
NGUYEN: Well, there is new information into that deadly river ambush in Wisconsin that we want to tell you about this morning. Police have arrested the man they say opened fire on a group of unsuspecting swimmers.
Investigators say -- Scott Johnson was wearing camouflage when he jumped out of the woods and started shooting randomly. Three teenagers were killed. Those who knew the victims still can't believe they're gone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDY VAN GASSE ,TIFFANY POHLSON'S SUPERINTENDENT: Always upbeat, always smiling, always seemed to be enjoying life -- just one of those students that was a pleasure to have around.
LINDA BIGELOW, BRYAN MORT'S FAMILY FRIEND: A good sense of humor. And, a hard-working kid, and probably, anyone who knew him would think of him in that way.
CHELSEA OLSON, ANTHONY SPIGARELII'S CLASSMATE: He was very funny. He was nice to everyone. And he always had hugs for me in school. We always went to class together and he was a really cool kid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: The shooting happened in northeast Wisconsin near the Michigan border. A fourth person was injured.
MARCIANO: A Tennessee woman found guilty last year of killing her preacher husband has gotten her kids back. Mary Winkler's three young girls have been staying with their paternal grandparents since 2006. But this morning, our affiliate WMC is reporting, a judge has allowed Winkler to pick up her kids even though she doesn't have permanent custody. Winkler is currently on provision.
NGUYEN: Well, it could be a stormy weekend out east for folks around here, seen a little bit of rain. Are we going to get some more of those thundershowers along the eastern side of the States? Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf has been tracking it all for us.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anything that will help us or at least keep us from having to cut the grass today, that's what we are hoping for today. No question about it, although many people in parts of the southeast have most of their grass looks like a parking lot for the time being. They could use some scattered showers.
And right now, it's a rude awakening for people up in Syracuse. You've got some strong storms that are coming through. Nothing severe at this point but certainly enough to wet the pavement and there may be more in store later on today.
We can travel a bit farther to the south and near the nation's capital, right around the beltway we've had few drizzles here and there, but heavier activity at (ph) your camping yards in Baltimore. And we're seeing some development farther on to the west into the Appalachians.
It's a good part of the country, at least, the eastern third (ph) of the nation. I would say from South Carolina northward to Maine, you could be dealing with some strong storms into the afternoon. Just a slight risk for you, mainly some thunderstorms, maybe, some small hail and wind damage.
Back out to parts of the central and southern plains, we're talking about extreme heat with the heat index, it's going to feel like 105 or hotter for many places, including Texas back into Oklahoma, Kansas and even into Nebraska.
And to give you a look at some of the sheer numbers. I mean, it is just painful -- ouch. Take a look at Dallas, Betty's hometown, 104 degrees could be anticipated there up (INAUDIBLE), south along I-35. It's going to be a little bit cooler in places like Austin. But when (ph) pile on the humidity, it's going to feel much warmer. Downward (ph), 97 degree temperature in Houston. It deceives (ph) you, with the high humidity, it's going to feel like it's up to about 105 -- blistering hot.
Hot, too, in Atlanta. Take a look for the highs today, 93. And here's a shot for you and WSB shows conditions kind of hazy for the time being. But in to the afternoon, there is a slight chance here, too, you could get those scattered showers and storms. Hopefully, I'll be sitting on the couch this afternoon not cutting the grass.
Let's send it back to you guys.
NGUYEN: Well, you know, they talk about hot Atlanta but the 90s is nothing compared to those triple digits that we're seeing in other parts of the state up there.
MARCIANO: I'm curious about that. You know, can you imagine, Reynolds, not accusing you of this, obviously -- but, you know, I heard that, you know, people in Dallas, and the women, you know, are known to bouffant the hair pretty good.
NGUYEN: (INAUDIBLE) their hair.
MARCIANO: What happens to that hair in 105 degrees?
NGUYEN: You just spray it on even thicker, that's what you got to do, just to make sure that the heat doesn't take some of the height out of it.
And speaking of the heat and some excitement, I guess, for some folks out there, hopefully the heat won't be keeping them away from this, especially these adrenaline junkies. The monster of all air shows that takes flight this weekend.
MARCIANO: Yes, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Here's a live pictures to 56th annual "Airventure" spectacular.
It's the place to see some death-defying aerial stunts. You can also check out antique planes, home built aircraft and warplanes. More than 750,000 people are expected to be at the event this weekend.
NGUYEN: This is your kind of thing, isn't it, Reynolds?
WOLF: It is. That's just (ph) beautiful. That's the P-51D Mustang you see right there that was just cruising on air.
NGUYEN: How did you know that?
WOLF: Because I'm the biggest geek in the whole world.
WOLF: That is an unbelievable aircraft. Just beautiful. I believe that was a Falco Bull (ph) that you just saw that just passing the foreground and the one there in the back, I think it's -- is it a Harrier? I have no idea.
NGUYEN: Look, you've already impressed us. No need to go any further. Although, you jumped out of a perfectly good plane not too long ago, is this something that you'd want to go up in? I mean, stay inside of it (ph).
MARCIANO: Sure, I'd flown an F-16, but Reynolds, you know, my dad is a naval aviator and my brother is a pilot and you just embarrassed the heck out of me. I mean, I'm now the black sheep of the family. Thanks for doing that, buddy.
WOLF: Any time, man, we do what we can (ph).
MARCIANO: All right.
NGUYEN: Yes, we aim to please you here on the weekends.
MARCIANO: We'll see you later, Reynolds.
Real horse race, a real race, and a real announcer.
NGUYEN: Yes, in other words, we're not making this up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: They're coming down to the finish. And it's Arrrrr, Arrrrr -- Arrrrr.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: On the campaign trail today, Democrat Barack Obama will be courting voters in Florida. He held a town meeting in a few hours not far from the Kennedy Space Center. This afternoon, he'll address the National Urban League at its conference in Orlando.
Meanwhile, Republican John McCain addressed the group yesterday. Today, McCain is holding meetings at his campaign headquarters in D.C., no public events, though. And he's due to meet with Puerto Rican reggae star Daddy Yankee.
NGUYEN: That's going to be interesting.
MARCIANO: Yes, let's have (ph) a video of that.
Well, as part of our effort to give you the most information so you can make the most informed choice in the presidential election. From now until November, we're going to play more of what the candidates are saying in their own words on the campaign trail.
Here's John McCain earlier this week in Colorado talking taxes and pork barrel spending.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that you know, Senator Obama is an impressive speaker and a beauty of his words has attracted many people, especially among the young to his campaign. I applaud his talent and his success. And Americans, all Americans should be proud of his accomplishment. My concern with Senator Obama is that on issues big and small, when he says what he says and what he does are often two different things, and he doesn't seem to understand that the policies he offers would make our problems worse and not better. Senator Obama says he's going to change Washington but his solution is to simply make government bigger and raise your taxes to pay for it.
And I want to look you in the eye -- I will not raise your taxes nor support a tax increase. I will not do it.
MCCAIN: He wants to raise your taxes to pay for bigger government. We've been doing that for years and it hasn't worked. In the few years that he's been in the Senate, he's requested nearly $1 billion in pork barrel spending. That's about $1 million for every day that he's been in office.
I've never asked for a single pork barrel project or earmark for my state, and I'm proud of it and I promise you, I will veto every pork barrel bill that comes across my desk. You will know their names and I will make them famous. We will stop this corrupt practice in Washington, D.C. which has caused former members of Congress to reside in federal prison. It's wrong and I'll fix it, my friends, and I know how to fix it. We'll stop wasting your tax dollars.
MCCAIN: You will not any longer spend $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. Now, I don't know if that was a paternity issue or criminal issue, but we're not going to do it anymore, my friends. We're going to stop it.
You know, Ronald Reagan used to say, "Congress spends money like a drunken sailor. Only I never knew a sailor drunk or sober with the imagination of Congress." And that's kind of a funny line and I use it fairly often. I'm not making this up when I tell you I got an e- mail from a guy that said, "As a former drunken sailor, I resent being compared to members of Congress." I can't blame him.
Senator Obama says he'll only raise taxes on the rich, when in the Senate he voted for tax hikes that would have impacted those making just $32,000 per year. He's proposed tax increases on income taxes, capital gains taxes. By the way, capital gains taxes, that's 100 million Americans. Dividend taxes, pretty much anything you can tax, he wants to tax more.
On Social Security, he wants to raise Social Security taxes. I am opposed to raising taxes on Social Security. I want to fix the system without raising taxes.
NGUYEN: Now, on the other hand, Barack Obama calls McCain's presidential plans -- more the same. Speaking to supporters in Missouri, take a listen to how he plans to fix the economy. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can either choose a new direction for our economy or we can keep on doing what we've been doing. Now, my opponent John McCain, he's an honorable man. I admire his service to our country, but he basically believes we should keep on doing the same things we've been doing. He's running for George Bush's third term. He wants to continue tax breaks to the wealthy.
OBAMA: He said that we've made great progress economically over the last eight years. That's not my quote; that's John McCain's quote. Our country and the families in Missouri cannot afford to be doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.
You know, that's the definition of madness. You keep on doing the same things. And that's what John McCain is offering. He's offering Bush economic policies and Karl Rove politics and that is not what's going to help us meet the challenges of the 21st century. We need something new.
OBAMA: It's time we restore some fairness and some balance to our economy. And we look out for working people and we're hearing your voices in the halls of Congress. That starts with giving some meet immediate relief to families who are one illness or one foreclosure away from disaster, to help people who are having trouble filling up their gas tanks.
So, what I want to do is this, we're going change our tax code. We are going to close corporate tax loopholes and corporate tax breaks. We are going to take that money and we are going to give...
OBAMA: We're going to take that money and we are going to give a tax cut to 95 percent of Americans. We are going to give the average family $1,000 per family in tax relief so you can help offset the rising cost of gas and the rising cost of food.
To help end the housing crisis, we're going to give an additional deduction for your mortgage interest because there are a whole bunch of people who aren't able to take that deduction. If you've got a big house and you're very wealthy you get a deduction on your mortgage interest. If you are filling up a standard deduction, you don't get that deduction. That's not fair. We're going to change that and we're going to change...
OBAMA: And we're going to change how we tax our seniors. If you are a senior citizen making $50,000 a year or less, then you should not have to pay taxes on your Social Security and we are going to do everything we can to preserve Social Security and make sure that it's not privatized.
NGUYEN: So, you're going to hear more of what the candidates are saying next hour. And remember, for the latest on the presidential race, all you have to do is logon to our Web site CNNPolitics.com 24/7. It is the most -- or the best place to go for politics on the Web.
Mauled by a black bear. Just imagine that. I know it's early in the morning, but here's a little bit of gruesome detail from what happened. A woman actually had part of her eye pulled out of its socket.
MARCIANO: Yes, nasty. But she lives. And this morning, we're hearing from the victim of last week's gruesome bear attack. We'll have that coming up.
NGUYEN: Also this morning, new details of other news.
MARCIANO: Well, it's not often that a routine horse race becomes a viral video.
NGUYEN: No, but if anyone's going find it, Josh Levs will. And this is quite funny though. This is the pirate guy or whatever he is.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The pirate guy -- have you guys been to Saratoga ever?
MARCIANO: I went once, yes.
LEVS: You went once, I grew up in Albany so I used to go there all the time. This is amazing. This is the pirate guy, Theodore (ph). All right, international talks like a "pirate day" isn't until September but if you were at Saratoga on Monday, you might have thought it came early.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: It's good to be King going head to head with Crafty C.J. Justin behind them blazing for the third, and on the far outside here comes Arrrrr. Top of the stretch coming into the final furlong now. In between horses, Crafty C.J. with an early lead. Arrrrr continues to fight on the outside. It's going to be King and Blazing Buddha. And then, farther back, Little Wise Guy. They're coming down to the finish and it's Arrrrr, Arrrrr, Arrrrr.
Little Wise guy was second and Blazing Buddha was third.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(LAUGHTER) NGUYEN: What is wrong with him? He sounds completely normal and then he throws in the arrrgh (ph) for no reason.
LEVS: I love that guy. Betty, you see, he's famous apparently. Tom Dearkin (ph), he's legendary in horse racing. He's called this before. But this was arrrgh -- I can't do it, arrrgh. That was his first win ever of 13 races. And, well, you want to hear the ending again? (INAUDIBLE). One more time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Little Wise Guy, they're coming down to the finish. And it's Arrrrr, Arrrrr -- Arrrrr.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: And then he goes right to normal, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Little Wise Guy was second...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: That's when we he takes the iPod off.
NGUYEN: Right. He removes the wooden leg and he's all good.
LEVS: Do you know, before I came up here, I was so tired and now I'm completely awake. That's it.
MARCIANO: Thank you.
NGUYEN: That's what you should put on your alarm clock.
LEVS: Arrrrr. Maybe I should do that. It's modern technology. I'll be looking to that. I'll listen (INAUDIBLE).
MARCIANO: All right. Settle down, we'll make you walk the plank there pretty soon.
NGUYEN: All right. Yes.
LEVS: There you go.
MARCIANO: All right. A country reeling from both cruelty of man and nature, we're talking about Myanmar. And Betty just got back from there.
NGUYEN: Yes. Actually, I slipped into the secretive nation to witness the suffering and share some of those images with you. Well, this morning, we are going to find out what is being done to help the cyclone victims.
MARCIANO: A doping scandal and a U.S. Olympic team stripped of its medal. It's a story that's been developing while you were sleeping.
Welcome back, everybody. I'm Rob Marciano.
NGUYEN: Yes, hello, everybody in this Saturday morning. I'm Betty Nguyen.
And this morning, we do have some new details from a gruesome bear attack in California. The woman who found herself clutched in the jaws of a black bear last week is actually sharing her story with us for the first time.
MARCIANO: Yes. As you can see, Allena Hansen has extensive injuries on her face. Doctors say a part of her scalp was hanging off when she went for help. We want you to hear directly from Hansen herself. But we've got to warn you, it's pretty graphic and disturbing.
Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLENA HANSEN, SURVIVED BEAR ATTACK: My first sensation was that a little tiny bear, but what a bully. Then I found myself down on the ground. I heard chomp, chomp, chomp. I felt it goes through my skull. I felt it bite through this eye. I heard, you know, kind of a squishy, crunchy pop. I went (ph), there goes my eye.
Then it got a hold of my face and started shaking, you know, worrying (ph) it and I could feel it tearing off. I could feel the blood, you know, the wetness. I could see it dripping. I could hear it whooshing. And I think the one thing that is the most of it (ph) to me was watching that little bugger spit my teeth out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Whoa. Given that, doctors put her back together pretty well. And she is certainly coherent. Hansen was walking her dogs when she was attacked. The dogs were not seriously injured and they've been credited with helping save her life. Officials are still searching for that bear.
NGUYEN: I'm still kind of amazed at how she was just able to talk about it just as a matter of fact. You know, "there goes my eye. I just feel the blood," you know, "running down my face" and then she -- and it was kind of interesting how she said, and then "a little bugger, it made me mad when he spit out my teeth."
MARCIANO: I guess that would make me mad, too. But, you know, she's got her life and she's got her dogs, too. They're her heroes.
NGUYEN: And actually, she does look pretty good considering what she's been through and all that will heal and she's still alive and that's what matters.
All right. From that story to Southern Afghanistan -- disturbing reports of new alliances. The British newspaper "The Daily Telegraph" reports British Muslims are, quote, "fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan." Their target -- their countrymen, British soldiers who are serving there.
The newspaper quotes brigadier, Ed Butler, former commander of Britain's forces in Afghanistan, is saying the British Muslims are also aiding al Qaeda. The British death toll in Afghanistan has reached 114 with 17 of those fatalities just in the last two months.
MARCIANO: The U.S. in Iran, nearly 30 years of hostility and distrust. But recently, possible signs of change even as the stakes loom larger than ever.
CNN's Reza Sayah is joining us from Tehran to talk about how people are reacting to these possible new talks.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Rob.
The great Satan (ph) and a member of the "axis of evil," that's what the government of these two countries have called one another in the past. Many consider them archenemies. But these days on the street of Tehran, there is some buzz that maybe, just maybe, the tide is turning.
SAYAH (voice-over): In midtown Tehran, a reminder of Iran's bitter diplomatic break with the U.S. almost 30 years ago. But at Mohammad Taghi's key shop, new hope that things could get better.
MOHAMMAD TAGHI, SHOP OWNER (through translator): Obviously, if relations are friendly the result would be more positive.
SAYAH: The reason for hope, a face-to-face meeting on July 19th between a senior U.S. diplomat and an Iranian official, the first in nearly three decades. Soon after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington would not rule out an intersection in Tehran. It's the closest the U.S. has been to having diplomatic presence in Tehran since hardliners stormed the U.S. embassy in 1979, took the staff hostage, and shut the embassy down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It probably looks as though relations are beginning to improve, in my view.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, definitely. I think it would be in Iran's interest in many respects and I'd be very glad if the U.S. and Iran had relations. SAYAH (on camera): There's not one person we spoke to here in Tehran that said they don't want relations to improve between the U.S. and Iran. But there's one issue, perhaps more than any other that's getting in the way, and that's Iran's nuclear program.
(voice-over): The U.S. and its western allies suspect Iran wants to use its nuclear technology for bombs. They're demanding Iran to stop enriching uranium, the fuel that could be used to build bombs. Iran has so far dismissed those demands, saying they plan to use nuclear technology for electricity, something many Iranians say is their right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't care about what the U.S. says. I mean, I think what the world thinks is much more important.
SAYAH: Despite the signs of improved relations, Tehran and Washington are deadlocked over the nuclear issue.
Mohammad says he knows the key.
TAGHI (through translator): The key to this relationship, in my view, is for both sides to lower their demand.
SAYAH: So far, neither side has done so.
SAYAH: This weekend is another big test for the stormy relationship. This is the deadline imposed by the U.S. and five world powers for Iran to respond to a freeze, for freeze proposal. The world powers are offering Iran a delay of six weeks for further sanctions if Iran agrees not to expand its uranium enrichment program.
But this week, the foreign minister here in Iran dismissed that deadline and its supreme ruler said they're going full speed ahead with the nuclear program. So, Rob, certainly some hope in this future of Tehran but also a lot of uncertainty.
MARCIANO: Well, you mentioned, Reza, that, you know, everybody you talked to said it's a good thing. But I'm curious if there's anybody that you talked to, given the price of oil being so high and Iran a pretty big exporter, did anyone say, "Hey, you know, the U.S. is starting to talk us to, just to keep some sort of stability there and keep the price of oil down"?
SAYAH: They don't talk much about that. For the people of Iran, it's all about the right to enrich uranium. There's a lot of perception here in Iran that the government and the U.S. has meddled in their affairs. They believe it's their right to enrich uranium and that's what they're going to go ahead with.
But, certainly, the price of oil is a factor. It's possible if the U.S. gets too tough with Iran, the prices of oil will go up. That's going to hurt the U.S. and American citizens. That's why this is such a delicate situation, Rob.
MARCIANO: Reza Sayah, live via broadband from Tehran. Great reporting, thanks, Reza.
That's a huge deal to get a western reporter into Tehran as it is a big deal to get one in Myanmar which is where you were just a couple of days ago.
NGUYEN: Absolutely. You know, disasters both natural and manmade, a deadly cyclone strikes but it's no match for the power of a military government that doesn't want you to see the aftermath or the suffering that is largely ignored.
Now, just a few weeks ago, I slipped into the secretive nation of Myanmar and the images are both bleak and horrifying. I do warn you this morning that what you're about to see is disturbing.
NGUYEN (voice-over): The landscape is still littered with the remnants of lives swept away by cyclone Nargis. This is not what Myanmar wants reported some two months after the storm. The only way for us to capture these images was to sneak into the Irrawaddy Delta under the cover of darkness.
(on camera): It's, really, the only way to get down there and bypass the checkpoint.
(voice-over): I can't reveal how we made this journey because it would jeopardize the safety of the locals who helped us. And once we arrived, it's easy to see why the junta government doesn't want us here. Devastation is everywhere. This slab is all that's left of a monastery.
(on camera): The water was this high?
(voice-over): The village's only monk says the tidal surge was up to its neck and he barely made it out alive. But many did not.
This farmer forces back tears describing how he lost his wife and only daughter. He says that if it weren't for his two surviving sons, he'd have no reason to live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I have nothing, no food, no property, no companion.
NGUYEN (voice-over): It's a place where the living still walk among the dead. In the thick vegetation that lines the narrow canals, the cyclone's horror is hard to ignore.
(on camera): This is what the Myanmar government doesn't want you to see -- bodies still rotting along the delta some two months after the cyclone hit. And you can still smell the stench of death.
(voice-over): Villagers say there were simply too many bodies to bury. They believe this was a child. No one knows for sure. In fact, most are trying their best to forget the painful past.
Perhaps, that's why rice was planted in fields just a few feet away. These poor forming communities don't have time to linger over the loss, especially when cyclone survivors are still struggling to stay alive.
NGUYEN: Now, after the cyclone struck, relief organizations rushed in to help but many shipments were stuck at the border. Some would say they were held hostage by Myanmar's military rulers, so what is the situation there today?
Well, joining me by phone is Fleming Nielsen of the International Federation of the Red Cross.
And, Fleming, as we were just talking about, I was there just a few weeks ago. And what I can tell you is that the aid is not being distributed evenly. What is keeping that aid from getting to all the people who need it?
VOICE OF FLEMING NIELSEN, INT'L RED CROSS: Well, I think first of all, there is a matter of infrastructure and geography. I think there are many parts in this disaster affected area, which is very, very difficult to get to, simply just getting there by small boats. And that means that getting the relief out to those areas is extremely difficult in itself.
NGUYEN: But you know, it's been well over two months now. We're going on three months since the cyclone. These are folks who have been waiting on aid for a very long time. And they -- their need of shelter, it is, after all, monsoon season. So, talk to me about the difficulties of trying to get to the folks who need it, especially considering the situation with the monsoons.
NIELSEN: Well, I think the -- as I said before, the actual geography and the infrastructure of getting out there. For example, the Red Cross, the national society in Myanmar have had volunteers out there for these last three months. And many of these volunteers have been able to get to very difficult areas, but it is quite clear that there are -- I don't think there are any areas any more that have not been reached somehow, but there are some areas that have been reached more than other areas. And those are the ones, for example, the Red Cross are targeting.
NGUYEN: Well, I can tell you that some of the villages that we've toured and that we've toured about half a dozen of them, many of them had received very little aid. And I'm just talking about a few bags of rice maybe, some tarp. I mean, not much at all. And when we talk about geography, that's one thing -- what about the Myanmar government, are they allowing more visas so the aid workers can get in there and help distribute this aid?
NIELSEN: Well, from our points of view, we are getting the number of people in that we need generally. We also have access to the Nargis affected area. But also, we've got, as I said, I mean, it's the Myanmar Red Cross especially that has literally thousands of volunteers working out in the area. And we do -- we do acknowledge that there are areas that have not been reached in the same way as some other areas, but I think one should also understand that this is not necessarily specific for Myanmar. This happens in other operations as well when it is a difficult area to get to and when it is a big area with lots of affected people.
NGUYEN: It's one thing when we talk about basic necessities, aid to folks who are in desperate need, but it's another thing when we look at the long-term relief. And if the camera can come out for just a second, I want to show a picture of the Myanmar newspaper where in it every day, they solicit donations.
And on here, Fleming, I want to ask you this because they have power tillers located at the bottom here. And a power tiller costs more than what it costs to replace a home. So, talk to me about the long-term relief efforts and what's being done to get these people not only back on their feet, but sustain their way of lives so they can continue.
NIELSEN: Yes, no, and I can, of course, only talk about it from the Red Cross point of view. What we are planning at the moment is exactly to address people's livelihoods. And we are -- and we are starting that here in August.
And one of the things that we're doing is, for example, looking at fisheries, we're looking at agriculture, and as you say power tillers may come into it, but probably more things like water buffalo and these type of things because they can be used for other things than just agriculture. So we are looking at doing that. And many other organizations, I know, are looking at doing that.
NGUYEN: So, we're looking at a multi-prong plan here. We're talking about immediate relief for those who are in desperate need but also long-term relief, because that's what's going to help these people sustain their way of life and get them back on their feet.
Fleming, we do appreciate your time this morning. Fleming Nielsen with the International Federation of the Red Cross is joining us by phone.
NIELSEN: Thank you very much.
NGUYEN: And if you want to help relief efforts in Myanmar or any other trouble spots around the world, all you have to do is go to CNN.com/impact. There, you'll find charities, highly rated by an independent group and vetted by CNN journalists for credibility.
MARCIANO: Your paycheck is a big incentive for you to show up to work, right? Well, what if your kids were paid to learn? Josh Levs is here -- Josh.
LEVS: Yes, you know, we told you about this controversial program -- paying kids just for showing up. Well, now, the official results are in. Did it work?
NGUYEN: All right. So here's the plan -- paying students to learn. I wish I had that when I was in school. One Georgia school system recently tried it in an attempt to boost those sagging grades. So --
MARCIANO: Yes, and now the experiment has come to an end and Josh Levs first reported on the program -- is it working? If so, I want to go back to school.
NGUYEN: Exactly, now.
LEVS: It must be better than we do here, right, at $8 an hour?
We'll here's the thing. So, you know, we've talked about this forever. But, I've been waiting for the results -- does this thing work or not? We just got them. So here's the basic idea, just to catch you up. Students here got $8 an hour, four hours a week for 14 weeks to be tutored in math and science. And that money came from a private foundation, it was not taxpayer's funding
All right, let's look at the official results. Here you go. In math -- students' grades actually went down in the program.
NGUYEN: It went down?
LEVS: But, other students who were not in the program but were similar had even bigger drop in grades. So, the organizers are saying the program helped there. Then in science, their grades went up while the students were not in the program went down. So, they're saying it clearly helped there.
And this their summary -- the report says, "While the financial incentive served to attract students to this program, the rewards associated with success and positive support from others were more important than keeping them engaged." So, they're arguing basically in that quote that in the end, it was not all about money to these kids.
MARCIANO: Not, well, and yes, what do you think it says about the whole controversy in general?
LEVS: Not as much as organizers wanted it to, because honestly, you know, the biggest arguments against this were that it's unfair to kids who are not being paid and, also, as some people said, it can make them less interested in learning later on when they're not paid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALFIE KOHN, AUTHOR AND EDUCATOR: Rewards aren't just ineffective, they're counter productive and we've seen this over and over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEVS: But I will say that one student in the program told me the money helped get him more interested in learning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAILYN BROWN, 8TH GRADER: It helps. It do help. It motivates me to come, you know, drive to learn. That's part of it. And other part, my motivation to learn, you know, show my good grades. So, it's all kind of -- I mean, I would do it if money wasn't involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: So to me, the reality check here, guys, is going to be next year. Do these kids keep pursuing knowledge at the same extent and do they keep improving their grades if they're not being paid? If they fall back, then in a way, it's a sign to (ph) people who argued against it.
NGUYEN: So, do they get paid regardless of the grade?
LEVS: Yes, it was not tied to performance. Just for showing up, they got the cash (ph).
NGUYEN: So, I wonder if they tweaked it a little bit and tied to performance if they would see a difference.
LEVS: Right. That was why this program is unique because they weren't doing that. They were thinking maybe kids would be afraid to show up if they have to get A's for the money, but in fact, and now they've showed up. And now the question is -- will they really hold on to this, will they keep pursuing knowledge? We don't know.
NGUYEN: All right.
MARCIANO: Negative reinforcement with this guys (ph). You get something taken away if you do bad or worst, you know, a little...
NGUYEN: Like what happened when we were in school, right? If you get a good grade, and you're fine, but if you don't, you're in trouble.
MARCIANO: Neither one worked when (INAUDIBLE).
MARCIANO: Thanks, Josh.
Speaking of people that might need a little reprimanding -- professional athletes, you know, they often perform well, sometimes they behave badly and this -- we've got to tell you, we've got some all-star players on the lineup -- Brett Favre, Michelle Wie just to name a few. NGUYEN: Who would have thought?
MARCIANO: Yes. Well, badly or maybe just, you know, wrong decisions. We'll see.
NGUYEN: And find out what they've been doing.
MARCIANO: Rick Horrow, our man with the plan in the sports department. We can talk about it when we come back. Stay with us.
NGUYEN: Well, disgraced, and this morning, gold medals have been stripped from the U.S. men's relay team that competed in the 2000 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee made the decision after one of the runners admitted using a steroid and a human growth hormone.
MARCIANO: Outside the lines -- a play-by-play of professional athletes behaving badly this week. And the list is long. And the names are illustrious -- Brett Favre and Michelle Wie, just to name a couple.
Rick Horrow is a sports business analysts and he helps break things like this down.
Good morning, Rick.
RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Yes. I help break down bad actors. But you know what? Eighty-five percent of those surveyed by TNS Poll recently said sportsmanship is worse than it was when we were growing up and it's getting worse.
MARCIANO: Well, you know, guys are paid huge amounts of money. They're paid differently, they're treated differently, these superstars. I mean, they can't help but act a little differently, I guess, including guys like Brett Favre. He's the man; he's got a golden image. And what -- tell to people what happened and where we are right now with that.
HORROW: Well, the bottom line is, Brett wants to play, OK? He's tired of mowing the lawn and playing golf. He wants to come back. Everybody has a retirement to un-retire, I guess. But the Packers made $250 million in revenue last year, so every word is very important.
Now, the most recent deal on the table is $20 million for 10 years as a marketing deal, basically not to play. If someone wants to offer me $20 million to sit around and not do something, I'm all ears, I'll give you my phone number, you can put it on the screen.
MARCIANO: Yes, and he's -- he's definitely he's mulling it over, is what I hear. Michelle Wie, she wants to play with the men -- has played with the men more than once. She teed it off again this weekend as opposed to trying to qualify for the Women's British Open. I mean, that, to me, sounds like a bad decision. HORROW: Well, that's what I'll do if they pay me not to play. I'm going to play golf against her and make some more money, right? Because for the eighth straight time, she plays against the men at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Guess what? She's not around for the weekend, shot in 80, misses the cut. An 18-year-old kid going to Stanford, there's -- at some point, Sony, Nike, her big-time sponsors are going to say, "Enough is enough. You better do something with the women and start winning."
MARCIANO: You know, you think about -- her excuse is, "Well, I'm just a kid, I just want to have fun, you know, trying to qualify for the British Open isn't fun. But if Tiger Woods was in her shoes, he'd be trying to qualify for the British.
HORROW: Yes, and if Tiger Woods was in her shoes, he'd have won seven of those eight tournaments she didn't make the cut in. So that's an easy answer.
MARCIANO: Rick Horrow, always great to talk to you and good to see you. It's been a while. Take care of yourself.
HORROW: I am going to talk to you, guys, next week.
MARCIANO: All right. It sounds good.
Well, for all of the latest on the Beijing Summer Olympics, CNN has teamed with "Sports Illustrated" to create fan zone Web site. All the latest results, all the compelling angles -- the address: CNN.com/fanzone.
NGUYEN: Well, everybody knows cheating in sports is wrong. Well, cheating, most in anything is wrong. So, why do Olympic athletes do it?
MARCIANO: Well, gold medalist Dominique Dawes explains why kids who start out with purist motives can sometimes be temped to take shortcuts in their quest to be the best.
NGUYEN: Hello, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Good morning. I'm Betty Nguyen.
MARCIANO: And I'm Rob Marciano in today for T.J. Holmes and we've got some interesting stuff for you, some compelling stories, as well, including a story about this woman who managed to escape a bear attack. There you see some of her scars. You are not going to believe her words.
NGUYEN: Yes, her injuries don't look like much until you hear what she has been through. You have to stay tuned for this story folks.
Also, caught on tape, police acting badly or are they just doing their job? We're going to talk to you about that. MARCIANO: How about athletes acting badly? U.S. athletes, Olympic athletes, stripped of their gold medals because of a doping scandal. This hour, we'll hear from the athletes who play by the rules.
What's next for the seven-year anthrax saga, now that the main suspect is dead?
NGUYEN: The government is expected to decide soon whether to close this investigation. Sources say scientist Bruce Ivins killed himself this week as authorities were preparing to indict him on murder charges. Letters laced with the deadly bacteria arrived at congressional offices and news organizations just weeks after the September 11th terror attacks. You remember that?
The anthrax powder killed five people and made 17 others sick. The government suspects Ivins may have sent the letters to test the vaccine that he was working on and just last month, the Justice Department settled with Ivins' colleague, Steven Hatfield and paid him millions of dollars. Hatfield was once identified a person of interest in the case.
MARCIANO: No charges have been made public in the case, but the family and victims of the anthrax mailings are reacting to this news. More from CNN's Brianna Keilar who's in Ft. Detrick, Maryland this morning.
KEILAR: Hi there, Rob.
yes, neighbors here are certainly surprised by this news. We're at Fort Detrick, which is home to the bio-defense lab where Ivins worked for decades. This is really just down the street from where Ivins lived. Tom Ivins, Bruce Ivins older brother basically said that he wouldn't put the 2001 anthrax attacks past his brother.
But we should tell you that Tom Ivins was estranged from his brother, that they hadn't spoken for some time and that they, according to Tom Ivins, had never spoken about the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks. That said, Tom Ivins said he was questioned by government officials and he couldn't be specific, though, about what he told them.
BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM IVINS, BROTHER OF BRUCE IVINS: They asked me about personal things, my brother, I had told them that was it, very nice chat for about three to four hours. Wow! They left and went to a restaurant. They bought me a sandwich and a beer, I came back home, that was it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Neighbors tell CNN that they are saddened by the news. They say Ivins was dedicated, that he was very involved in his church. But it was pretty obvious to them the government investigators had been keeping their eye on Ivins for some time.
MARCIANO: Brianna, any idea or a time line when the government may decide if they're going to close this investigation?
KEILAR: Well, we're expecting, at some point, that the government will release some details about their case against Bruce Ivins. At this point though, they haven't. In fact a lot of the information that we've gotten has come from sources and we should mention that, you know, back in 2001, shortly after the attacks, it was -- the investigation was very much centered around a civilian researcher here at Fort Detrick.
That researcher, Steven Hatfield, recently settled for millions of dollars in a case against the government where he alleged that they violated his privacy rights. So a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to the case against Bruce Ivins, Rob?
MARCIANO: When you consider the lawsuit that that gentleman has and the money going out, maybe now the government is keeping their lips a little bit tighter. So we'll have to wait and see. Brianna Keilar live for us, thanks Brianna.
NGUYEN: An E. coli outbreak at summer camp, of all places. Health officials are looking into what sickened dozens of Boy Scouts attending a week-long sleep over at a camp in Goshen Reservation there. That's near Richmond, Virginia. Now officials say at least 50 people have gotten sick and there are some 15 confirmed cases of e. coli. So far, nine campers have been hospitalized. We'll stay on that story for you.
In other news though, a Tennessee woman found guilty last year of killing her preacher husband has gotten her kids back. Remember this face? Mary Winkler's three young girls have been staying with their parental grandparents or paternal grandparents since 2006. This morning our affiliate WMC is reporting that a judge has allowed Winkler to pick up her kids even though she does not have permanent custody. Winkler is currently on probation.
MARCIANO: In Minneapolis, Minnesota, remembering victims of last summer's bridge collapse. Bagpipes played and families remembered on the first anniversary of the tragedy. Thirteen people were killed in the rush hour collapse. Construction workers on the new bridge paid their own tribute by unfurling a huge American flag.
Here are some of the photos of the new 35-W bridge. They were snapped by CNN I-reporter Andrea Whitaker. She shot the photos from a boat on the Mississippi River. Work halted on the new bridge for six hours yesterday, to observe the anniversary.
NGUYEN: We were talking a little bit earlier to Reynolds Wolf about all the rain that folks are going to be experiencing today. Well, a little bit of fire is in the forecast, as well near Yosemite National Park. What are they facing?
(WEATHER REPORT) NGUYEN: Just imagine this, OK, having your scalp nearly ripped off in a gruesome black bear attack. It did happen. It happened to a California woman. Now, she's sharing her story for the first time.
MARCIANO: Check out Allena Hansen. You can see her extensive injuries to her face, did a great job of putting her back together considering that doctors say her scalp was hanging off when she went for help. Now we want you to hear from Hansen herself, but we've got to warn you, it's pretty graphic and disturbing.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANSEN: My first sensation was that a little tiny bear. but what a bully. Then I found myself down on the ground. I heard chomp, chomp, chomp. I felt it go through my skull. I felt it bite through this eye. I heard, you know, kind of a squishy, crunchy pop, I went, there goes my eye.
Then it got a hold of my face and started shaking, worrying (ph) it and I could feel it tearing off. I could feel the blood, you know, the wetness. I could see it dripping. I could hear it whooshing. And I think the one thing that they most (INAUDIBLE) to me was watching that little bugger spit my teeth out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: My goodness.
MARCIANO: That will wake you up, I guess. For her to just remember all of that, play by play --
NGUYEN: In such detail, too. When she talked about the squishy crunchy sound there goes my eye. It was out of her socket, part of her scalp was hanging off. Can you just imagine?
MARCIANO: And then she had the wherewithal to walk like a mile and a half for help. Dogs (ph) not seriously injured, but certainly considered the heroes in helping save her life. Officials still searching for that bear.
NGUYEN: Hopefully they find it.
Well, I do want to warn you that the video that you're about to see is shocking, as well. This is in -- an appropriate use of force or is it?
MARCIANO: Home video, this arrest has stirred up a lot of controversy.
MARCIANO: Amateur video of an arrest on the Fourth of July in lower Manhattan causing quite a stir in New York City. NGUYEN: Take a look at this. And Josh is going to give us some more on it. But people have been watching this over the Internet and I think the key, too, when we do get a look at this video is what we don't see because that could be just as important as what we do see.
LEVS: That's right and look, what you guys were saying before the break, it's tough to watch, but it is important. It's an important story. Yes, this video may be more than it gives us information. It raises a lot of questions.
LEVS: The event captured on home video. The man has not been handcuffed here. The video does not show what led to his arrest and we can't know for certain whether he's resisting or how much. New York City police say Michael Cephus had swung an umbrella at a police officer and hit him with his fists causing the officer to suffer substantial pain.
Police say during the arrest, Cephus kept grabbing for the officer's baton. Police have charged him with assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Cephus says he did nothing wrong. He said officers approached him because they thought he was drunk and carrying alcohol. He says he wasn't.
MICHAEL CEPHUS, VIDEOTAPED DURING ARREST: When the came at me without telling me, put my hands behind my back, they just came at me with force, swinging, swinging and that's when the umbrella hit the floor. I never swung the umbrella.
LEVS: Chepus' attorney provided the video to the media. We don't know who shot it. The NYPD says an officer has been put on modified assignment during the investigation. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association says the video shows the use of force was necessary and appropriate and the officer involved should never been have placed on modified assignment.
It's the latest example of third party videos raising questions about police actions. Just days ago this video showed a New York police officer apparently slamming a bicyclist to the ground. An investigation is under way.
NGUYEN: So when we look at this, and a lot of these are ending up on the Internet, how big of a role does that play in the investigation?
LEVS: The investigation it is playing a big role, a huge role right now because the police actually collect these videos and take a look at them. Investigators say that they study these videos that do catch fire on the Internet. These are empowering to people who say that they show wrong doing but of course we always have to keep in mind these videos only show a slice of the story and sometimes we just might be seeing police doing their jobs.
NGUYEN: But it's still shocking to see that, especially when the only information you have is what you see right there.
MARCIANO: Law enforcement is not an easy job, I wouldn't want to do that, that's for sure.
NGUYEN: OK, so getting a better job usually means getting a better education. The candidates on college and jobs, that's next.
MARCIANO: Welcome back.
Time for politics on the campaign trail today. The Democrat Barack Obama will be courting voters in Florida.
NGUYEN: yes, he holds a town hall meeting in just a few hours from now from the Kennedy Space Center and this afternoon he'll address the National Urban League at its conference in Orlando.
MARCIANO: And Republican John McCain is holding meetings at his campaign headquarters in DC. No public events for him, however.
NGUYEN: McCain is also due to meet with Puerto Rican reggae star Daddy Yankee. That's going to be fun. He addressed the Urban League yesterday.
As part of our effort to help you make informed choices in this presidential election, from now until November, we are going to play more of what the candidates are saying in their own words on the campaign trail.
MARCIANO: yes, John McCain spoke to the National Urban League Friday in Orlando. Listen to what he said about improving education.
MCCAIN: Over the years, Americans have heard a lot of tired rhetoric about education. We've heard it in the endless excuses of people who seem more concerned about their own position than about our children. We've heard it from politicians who accept the status quo rather than stand up for real change in our public schools.
Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent and diplomas that open the doors of opportunity. When a public school fails repeatedly to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and our children that opportunity.
We should also offer more choices to those who wish to become teachers. Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom and experience to offer public school students. But a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance. You can be today a Nobel laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today because they don't have all of the proper credits in educational theory or methodology. All they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it.
If we're putting the interests of students first, then those qualifications should be enough. If I'm elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of opportunity scholarships and alternative certification for teachers will be part of a serious agenda for education reform. I will target funding to recruit teachers who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class or who participate in an alternative teacher recruitment program, such as Teach for America, the American Board of Certification of Teacher Excellence and the new teacher project.
We'll pay bonuses to teachers who take on the challenge and it's a great challenge, of working in our most troubled schools because we need, we need their fine minds and good hearts to help turn those schools around. We'll award bonuses as well to our highest achieving teachers and no longer will we measure teacher achievement by conformity to process. We'll measure it by the success of their students.
NGUYEN: So, what is Barack Obama saying today? In just a few minutes he will be holding a media briefing at Cape Canaveral. You're looking at a live picture of the podium there. Senator Obama will also speak to the National Urban League this afternoon. At a town hall meeting yesterday, not far away in St. Petersburg, Florida, Obama talked about how he would get the economy back on track.
OBAMA: I had a conversation with my top economic advisers on Monday and we agreed that the main risk facing the economy today is to do too little in the face of these growing economic troubles. And that's why I'm announcing a two-part emergency plan to help struggling families make ends meet.
The first part of my plan is $1,000 emergency energy rebate that would go out to families this fall to cover rising prices, not only in gas, but also in home fuel. That rebate would offset the rising cost at the pump over the next four months. Or if you live in a state where it gets cold during the winter it will help offset increased heating bills. Or you can use those -- the rebate for other bills that you've got to pay.
But as we provide relief, we also have to be mindful of the swelling budget deficit. That's why I'm proposing that we pay for the rebates by taxing the windfall oil profits of companies like ExxonMobil. Now, keep in mind, ExxonMobil announced that it had made $12 billion almost, almost $12 billion, last quarter, more than any U.S. corporation has ever made in a single quarter. It's time we used some of those record profits to help ordinary Americans pay for record prices.
Now, the second part of my plan is $50 billion in stimulus to help jump start job creation and help local communities that are struggling due to our economic downturn. Half of the stimulus will go to state governments that are facing big budget shortfalls. When state governments are forced to cut spending on essential services like police or firefighters, it doesn't just undermine our communities, it makes our economic problems even worse.
By offering $25 billion to state governments, we can help ensure that they don't have to let workers go or freeze their salaries or raise property taxes on families who are hurting. We can also help ensure that they continue providing foreclosure counseling and other services to help families stay in their homes in areas that have been hard hit by our housing crisis.
NGUYEN: You will hear more of what the candidates are saying next hour. Plus remember this, for the latest on the presidential race, log on to our Web site, cnnpolitics.com.
MARCIANO: Well, you tell your kids that cheating in sports is wrong so why do Olympic athletes do it?
NGUYEN: Gold medalist Dominique Dawes explains why kids who start out with the purist motives, can sometimes be tempted to take shortcuts in their quest to be the best.
MARCIANO: Disgraced, this morning, gold medals have been stripped from a U.S. men's relay team that competed in the 2000 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee made the decision after one of the runners had admitted using a steroid and a human growth hormone.
NGUYEN: All right. Well, so much to lose, why would any Olympic athlete risk cheating? Why? Well we asked both athletes and experts and got some really revealing answers.
MARION JONES: I truly hope that people will learn from my mistake.
NGUYEN (voice-over): With those words, disgraced Olympic track star Marion Jones was sentenced to six months in prison for lying to Federal authorities investigating performance-enhancing drugs. Jones won three gold medals and two bronze at the 2000 Sydney games and with that came instant celebrity.
MIKE WISE, WASHINGTON POST SPORTS COLUMNIST: Most big-time athletes, especially in America are going to come down on the same side because it means everything. It means money. It means sponsorships. It means a Wheaties box.
NGUYEN: Psychologists say, it's that shot at fame and fortune that prompts some to risk it all.
DR. STEVE EPSTEIN, DEPT. OF PSYCHIATRY, GEORGETOWN U: There are other people whose entire identity is wrapped up with success and it can be devastating to lose or to not achieve at a high level.
NGUYEN: Dominique Dawes is an Olympic gold medal winning gymnast. She says the pressure to perform is intense and the temptation to take shortcuts is real.
DOMINIQUE DAWES, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: This outside sources, it's the people they choose to surround themselves with, feeding this information into their mind.
NGUYEN: Dawes' post-Olympic life includes everything from coaching to motivational speaking and she says whether it's at the Olympics, in school or on the job, it's important to be able to look at one's self in the mirror and be happy with what you see.
DAWES: There are a few of us that do lie and don't do things the right way and I think it eventually comes back to bite those individuals. Either they get caught or it just eats away at their conscience.
NGUYEN: So, is there a formula for achieving success on the up and up?
DAWES: When you're young, your parents instilled certain values in you about commitment and sacrifice and don't cheat and work hard and things like that. And we all, as adults, need to stay true to those core values.
NGUYEN: Olympic officials are counting on those core values when the Beijing games start, but others say the problem lies with the message society sends.
WISE: Don't finish second, don't be number two, be number one. And that's a powerful drug.
NGUYEN: yes, until you get busted for cheating. And you can follow all the Olympic action on CNN.com in a special section called Fan Zone. There, you can instantly access video, polls, in-depth reports and anything else that you want to know about the Summer Games in Beijing. Just go to CNN.com.fanzone.
MARCIANO: Very tempting, all that money and fame.
NGUYEN: Doesn't it seem, yes, the Wheaties box and all of that.
All right, moving on to another topic for you, how will the new housing bill help you? Financial expert Gerri Willis is helping your wallet, that's coming up at 9:00.
MARCIANO: But first, "HOUSE CALL" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta starts right now.