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Climbers Feared Dead; Iran Sanctions Deadline Passes; Rockefeller Busted; Girl Survives Chimney Fall; Candidates Consider VP Possibilities; Life Lessons

Aired August 3, 2008 - 09:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Hello, everybody, from the CNN Center in Atlanta, bringing you news from all around the world on this Sunday morning, I'm Betty Nguyen.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And I'm Rob Marciano in for T.J. Holmes. It's Sunday, August 3. Glad to have you along with us.

NGUYEN: Well, we do have some great stories for you this morning including this one. You just have to listen to what happened here. A young girl falls 14 stories down a chimney and somehow survives.

MARCIANO: Also, could you make it the whole summer on just one tank of gas? There's a woman in Washington State who's aiming to do just that and we'll talk to her this hour.

But first, at least nine people are feared dead on avalanche on the world's second highest mountain. It happened on K-2, which sits between China and Pakistan. A tour operator says nine climbers were hit by an ice avalanche as they were coming down the mountain after reaching the summit. Three other climbers are still missing.

The expedition Web site says a plane will help in the search of the missing climbers as soon as the weather clears. So, let's talk weather in that ferocious part of the world, high altitude, Reynolds, what are we looking at as far as that mountain weather is concerned?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, if you happen to be a climber, it can be considered as being nightmarish. I mean, as you mentioned, it's the second tallest peak in the world, yet many climbers consider it to be the most difficult. It was first scaled, in fact, back in July 31 of 1954. And to give you an idea of how tough it is, it wasn't scaled the second time. The second successful ascent was actually 23 years later just to give you an idea just how brutal the conditions are.

And the most dangerous part of the climb is not going up, but rather coming back down. Many climbers talk about an adrenalin rush that they have, a surge to get to the top to reach the peak. It's when they come down it's when the weather conditions can turn on a dime at those high elevations where people run into problems.

You know, another interesting thing, Rob, is up and down this mountain, people have been trying to climb it just inside the turn of the last century. The first ascent made around 1909. And you can find canisters, oxygen canisters up there, all kinds of gear that have been there from previous attempts that were unsuccessful. It is a really, really nightmarish ascent. The weather at those high elevations, can you go from perfect visibility to just a few inches in front of your case in just the turn of a dime. I mean, it's certainly a tough thing to forecast, certainly tough to experience first hand. Hurricane force winds at 20,000 feet, not the situation you want to be when you're holding on to a giant shard of ice on the side of a peak of a mountain. It's a terrifying prospect.

MARCIANO: I suppose it kind gets played up as second banana to Mount Everest, there, but K-2, any mountaineer will tell you, it is not an easy climb by any stretch. Thank you, Reynolds. Nine feared dead in an avalanche on the world's second highest peak. More on that as we get the information.

NGUYEN: I think some people even consider K-2 the hardest of all of them. And so, we'll be watching that story for you.

Also we want to tell but this, a deadly stampede this morning near a temple in northern India. Police say at least 68 people were killed, 30 of the victims were children. It's not clear right now exactly what caused the stampede. About 40 other people were injured in that accident.

Well, chilling new information now about the man sources say was the government's chief suspect in the deadly 2001 Anthrax mailings. Bruce Ivins, the scientist who committed suicide last week, you see him here, was accused of threatening his therapist and hatching a plot to kill his co-works. That's according to testimony from his therapist, Jean Duley. She was granted a temporary restraing order after testifying in court last month. Now, New York obtained an audiotape from her testimony. I want you to take a listen to part of it.


JEAN DULEY, IVINS' THERAPIST: ...that he had bought a bullet proof vest, had obtained a gun, a very detailed plan to kill his co-workers, to -- that -- because he was about to be indicted on capital murder charges he was going to go out in a blaze of glory. That he was going to take everybody out with him.


NGUYEN: The Anthrax mailings killed five people shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Now, authorities are looking into whether Ivins may have released Anthrax as a way to test a vaccine. Ivins conducted Anthrax research at the government's biodefense lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

MARCIANO: No deal on Iran's nuclear program. A deadline to hold off new sanctions against Iran has passed with nothing but another declaration from Iran, itself. Reza Sayah has more from Tehran.


REZA SAYAH, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The Iranian nation will not give up a single iota of its nuclear rights. Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said those words on Saturday during a meeting with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The statement came on a day that the U.S. and five world powers had called an informal deadline for Iran to respond to a Freeze for Freeze package, the world powers offering Iran a six week delay in added sanctions if Iran would agree not to expand its uranium enrichment program.

But earlier this week, Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, had said that Iran was never aware of a deadline and later in the week, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had said to the Iranian people in a televises speech that Iran was going full speed ahead with its nuclear program that he described, once again, as being used for peaceful purposes.

French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had asked Syrian President Assad to come it Tehran to perhaps try and persuade Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to accept the offer, but once again on Saturday, president saying that Iran is sticking to its nuclear rights, he says Iran is satisfied with the international talks and if they continue, Iran will continue to reinforce its rights.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Tehran.


NGUYEN: Want to get you back to a disturbing story about the family of a man who was decapitated aboard a greyhound bus this Canada is speaking out and here's what they want you to know. They want people to remember Tim McLean for who he was, not the senseless way he died. The suspect made his first appearance in court on Friday. Now, this guy was charged with second degree murder. McLean's family released this statement.


ALEX MCLEAN, VICTIM'S UNCLE: He was a little guy with a heart bigger than you could know. He made friends evidentlessly, disliked no one and accepted everyone for who they were. He was a charmer who loved to smile and could never take a plate of food away from him.

Tim spent his life traveling and meeting new people and always saw the good in everyone. He had the most infectious giggle, and you could you hear him laughing a mile away. It didn't matter what kind of day you were having, because when you heard him laugh, you couldn't help but join in.


NGUYEN: Twenty-two-year-old McLean was attacked without warning by a fellow passenger Wednesday night as the bus neared his hometown of Winnipeg.

MARCIANO: Startling new numbers this morning on AIDS in America. A new report from the centers for disease control and prevention said the number of new HIV cases is much greater than previous estimates. Here are some of those numbers. New HIV infections are up about 40 percent over what the CDC thought they'd be. That means there are 56,000 new cases each year. Right now, there are more than a million people living with HIV in the U.S. The CDC says the new numbers are a wake-up call for all of us.

Meanwhile in Germany, a medical first, a man who lost both arms in an accident six years ago gets a new set of arms. It's believed to be the world's first double armed transplant. The surgery by a team 40 doctors, nurses and assistants took place in Germany last month. Doctors say it could take two years before the transplant patient is able to move both hands without help.

NGUYEN: To politics, now. Barack Obama is back home in Chicago, today, but he's got events in Lansing, Michigan and Boston, tomorrow. Tomorrow is also Obama's 47th birthday. Barack Obama has signed on for three presidential debates. The commission of presidential debates wants to hold those in September and October. Now, John McCain hasn't agreed to the three debate plan just yet, but his campaign says he will soon.

MARCIANO: John McCain is in Washington, today. He's meeting with two of his military advisers at campaign headquarters. The campaign is also working on going through vice presidential candidates. A new name on the short list is Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor.

Cantor is the fourth highest ranking House Republican and sources tell CNN, Cantor is among the VP possibilities getting thorough vetting at this hour.

We'll talk more about possible VP candidates with political reporter Rebecca Roberts with XM Radio, this hour. And remember, for the most politics on the Web 24/7, log on to our Web site,

All right, time for an amazing survival story. This is a good one. You're going to hear it all the time, but it's a -- it's not -- I guess it is cliche. It's an instance -- but this one is actually true and it has to do with a 12-year-old little girl.

NGUYEN: All right, so here's what happened, a 12-year-old girl actually falls down a chimney 14 stories. You're taking a look at that time right there, and somehow she survives. Hear how rescuers think she made it through.


NGUYEN: OK, Nine days of triple digit heat in the Dallas, Texas area. Woo, hot just thinking about that. And it's only expected to get worse. Today the temperature is expected to hit 107 by midafternoon -- crank up that AC -- making it the hottest day so far this year. The sweltering conditions are already being blamed for three deaths in the city since June.

MARCIANO: Reynolds wolf here to talk about heat.

Reynolds, I guess we should remind folks that those temperatures are measured in the shade and they don't include humidity. So, you can imagine how baking hot it is in the sun. WOLF: Oh, no question. You know what's weird about Texas? And I consider myself kind of like a transplant from Texas, I lived through for three years.

NGUYEN: I was going to say, watch out, I'm from Texas, too.

WOLF: Yeah, there you go. One of the weird things -- what is one of the best foods -- best types of food you have in Texas? It's got to be texmex.

NGUYEN: Absolutely.

WOLF: It's blazing hot. So, on a hot day, you go heat texmex or you go eat...

NGUYEN: Salsa on it and you're good to go, right?

WOLF: I know, that's what I'm talking about. Just weird stuff. Not too many popsicles in Texas.


NGUYEN: And if this hurricane does happen, it's Edouard, not Edward?

MARCIANO: He's not a big fan of that, so try make this one go away.

NGUYEN: I know, it's like you said, it's very Euro sheik. We're cultured around here.

WOLF: We like it.

NGUYEN: OK, thanks.

MARCIANO: Thanks Reynolds.

NGUYEN: Well, the manhunt is over for a Rockefeller imposter. The FBI says the man claiming to be a member of the wealthy Rockefeller oil family has been arrested in Baltimore and the daughter he's accused of kidnapping is from Boston. Well, she is safe and sound, today. Officials say Rockefeller was hiding out in an apartment near a marina and that's where he docked his catamaran. Officials say they made the arrest when Rockefeller walked out of the building by himself to check on his boat. Seven-year-old Reigh was found minutes later.


NOREEN GLEASON, BOSTON FBI: Her first worked twar she was very happy to see very nice people. She was very pleased with that. She was ecstatic about that.

TOM LEE, BOSTON POLICE DEPT SUPER: One of the best moments in my police career was getting personally tell Sandra of Boston (ph) that we recovered her daughter and she actually collapsed in my arms. I caught he her before she hit the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NGUYEN: Rockefeller allegedly kidnapped the girl during his first supervised visit, last week.

MARCIANO: A time for healing this Sunday morning. It was one week ago a gunman opened fire at a church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two people, wounding six others. It happened at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Next hour, church members will begin what they call a rededication and reconsecration. They'll hold a silent meditation followed by a Sunday service. The suspect, Jim Adkisson, was arrested and charged with first agree murder.

NGUYEN: This story is truly remarkle. A 12-year-old girl fell 14 stories down the chimney of her apartment building and survived. For more on how she did it, here's Tim Fleischer of affiliate WABC in New York.


CHIEF AUSTIN HORAN, FDNY: And not only was it miraculous that this young lady fell 180 feet to the bottom of the shaft, but that she came out relatively unscathed.

TIM FLESHER, WABC REPORTER (voice over): As surprised as anyone, the firefighters with Ladder 12 at Engine 3 finding at the bottom of this chimney the victim of a miracle fall, a 12-year-old girl who had made her way to the roof of her apartment building climbing a ladder, but then falling 15 stories as to the bottom.

LT SIMON RESSNER, FDNY: As I reached out to open the door, the girl's hand popped out from an opening in the doorway and we jumped from surprise because we assumed that we didn't have a surviving victim.

FLESHER: Firefighters found Grace Bergere deep in the basement in a portion of an old boiler room in the Westbeth Artist building. Not only conscious, but talking.

JOHN TALIERICO, FDNY: The first thing she said is: I broke my leg, I broke my leg. She was kind of sitting down and I wanted to really stabilize her neck first, because that's my main concern.

FLESHER: And quite sur vicing was her condition. The best firefighters can figure two feet of ash and soot at the base of the chimney.

RESSNER: The ash and soot is powdery and soft and we think that she just hit the soft surface and was able to break the fall there.

FLESHER: Neighbors, who did not want to appear on camera, were also surprised that she made it out on to the roof. The door leading to it, they say, is alarmed.

Back down in the basement, firefighters were able to stabilize Grace, covered in soot as she was, enough to move her out of the chimney base, rushinger had up to the street and into awaiting ambulance.

TALIERICO: I just told her, you no know, you're going to be all right, we'll get you safe.

RESSNER: I'm a maze that had she survived even with that powder, but that's the only thing that can explain that she make it. Because you know, she had no escapes, no cuts, so she didn't impact the chimney going down.


NGUYEN: Fourteen stories and she didn't hit anything on the way down. Boy, that is one lucky girl. In fact, she did, though, injure her hip in the fall, but other than that, she's apparently OK and she's recovering in the hospital.

MARCIANO: Crazy story, crazy fall.

Coming up, do you think could you make a whole summer on just one tank of gas?

NGUYEN: The entire summer only if you would give me a ride to work everyday.

MARCIANO: You don't live that far from work.

NGUYEN: No. OK, so you pick me up tomorrow.

MARCIANO: All right, I guess we're carpooling. If you don't carpool, there's one woman who's aiming to actually make it through the entire summer on one tank of gas.

NGUYEN: I don't know, One tank of gas the whole summer? We'll see if she can do it. One tank or bust, that's coming up.


MARCIANO: All right, check it out. You're looking at live pictures from Beijing, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics just five days away. A beautiful shot, there. The torch is on its way, today. Torch bearers took off through an area of China about 200 miles from the epicenter of that violent earthquake you may remember back in May.

You can follow the summer Olympics on our Web site if you can't get there. CNN has teamed up with "Sports Illustrated" to create the FanZone, all the latest results, all the compelling angles, theaddress

NGUYEN: Well, we do have good news at the gas pump for you, because prices they have dropped again. The average price is down nearly a penny to $3.88 a gallon. This is the 17th straight drop that we've seen. And get this, gas has gone down 22 cents in a month. But, don't get too excited, it's still up over a buck from what it was this time last year.

MARCIANO: Well, one woman is trying to stretch her tank of gas farther than most of us could ever have imagined. Danni Brancaccio is attempting to go the entire summer on just one tank. Does it sound impossible to you? Well, she's doing it by riding the bus, hitching rides from friend, and this is cheating, borrowing her mom's car.

NGUYEN: What, you can't do that? That's cheating.

There's still one more month to go and I guess she's only got a quarter tank left. We're talk to her. A tough challenge, no doubt about it, but we wanted to see just how she was doing it.

NGUYEN: Thankfully though, she decided to wake up early and join us on the phone from Vancouver, Washington.

All right, so tell me, you started out with a full tank, we're into August, now. Where is that gas gauge?

DANNI BRANCACCIO, BLOGGER: It's about at a quarter tank, but I think I can make it.

NGUYEN: How so? How are you going to be able to do this, because it takes, what, about three mile a day to get to and from work?

BRANCACCIO: Yes, that's right, but basically that is all the driving I have been doing. I take the bus or I walk anywhere else I'm going.

MARCIANO: All right, so I guess the big question is, why? Can you not afford two tanks? Or are you doing it for more environmental reasons?

BRANCACCIO: Well, you know, when I first got home for the summer from college, I knew I needed to take the bus to work and I thought I would just take it a step further and challenge myself to save money, to help the environment, and just see if I could do it.

NGUYEN: You know, some would say, Danni, that your commute is, what, about a mile and a half to work and the same from. Why don't you just ride a bike, maybe walk it?

BRANCACCIO: I'm actually going to start doing that next week.

NGUYEN: I bet now that the gas gauge is down.

BRANCACCIO: Yes, my goal for this next week is to do no driving at all. And I'm hoping that I can do it.

MARCIANO: What are your friends saying and what's your mom saying considering you're borrowing her car once in a while.

NGUYEN: Yeah, that's cheating.

BRANCACCIO: I'm not doing that. I borrowed it one time.

NGUYEN: So you say.

BRANCACCIO: And everyone's been getting angry with that, so I'm actually letting her borrow my car for one day.

NGUYEN: But, she can't get too far, though, with the gas where it is.

BRANCACCIO: I've got about 110 miles, I estimate, left to be driving. NGUYEN: So what's your message? What are you hoping that people -- because I know they've been following you on the Web. And you've gotten a lot of really interest into what you're doing. What's the message you're trying to send to the folks out there, that they can do this, too? Is that plausible?

BRANCACCIO: Yeah, you know, I hope that other people will just make a few small changes. You know, you can use cruise control or just walk or bike one day when you would have been driving and you can really save a lot of gas in the long run. Not everyone has to just use one tank. That's just me picking a goal, but everyone should try to use a little bit less gas and it'll be a strong result in the end.

MARCIANO: All right, Danni, well listen, are a quarter tank left, you've got a month left. That's quite a challenge and we wish you the best of luck. We may very well be checking back with you around about Labor Day to see how you made out. Good luck to you.

NGUYEN: Yeah, invest in some running shoes. You might need them, Danni.

BRANCACCIO: Thank you very much.

MARCIANO: Nice work, Danni Brancaccio is trying to get through the summer on one tank of gas, joining us live from Vancouver, Washington.

NGUYEN: It's really a great idea. I don't know how, you know, plausible for everyone because a lot of us do live a lot farther than, you know, one and a half miles from work. But, you know, for those who live close like you -- you could you start walking.

MARCIANO: I could. In theory.

NGUYEN: But, at 4:00 in the morning, it's not so safe.

MARCIANO: I'm a scaredy cat, too. You know? There's some rough neighborhoods to walk through.


NGUYEN: And we're just being honest here, folks.

All right, we're going to move right along to John McCain and Barack Obama, because they are speaking today and we're going to find out what the presidential candidates are saying about offshore oil drilling.

MARCIANO: Plus, who will be their vice presidential picks? We're going to talk about that, as well, coming up.


NGUYEN: We're coming up on half past the hour on this Sunday morning. Good morning, welcome back, everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen.

MARCIANO: And I'm Rob Marciano in today for T.J. Holmes. Checking on our top stories, at least nine people are feared dead in an avalanche on the world's second highest mountain. It happened on K- 2 between China and Pakistan. A tour operator says nine climbers were hit by an ice avalanche as they were coming down after reaching the summit. Three other climbers are still missing.

And a deadly stampede this morning near a temple in northern India. Police say at least 68 people were killed, 30 of the victims children. It's not clear right now exactly what caused the stampede. About 40 our people were injured.

NGUYEN: Well, as part of our effort to help you make an 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 is Senator Barack Obama in Florida yesterday explain his stance on offshore oil drilling.


BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, this wasn't really a new position. What I'm saying is that we complaint drill our way out of the problem, that every energy expert that I've spoken with, every scientist, every engineer, will tell you that with three percent of the world's oil reserves and 25 percent of the world's oil utilization, we can keep on drilling all we want, but the long-term trend is for flat or decreasing oil supply and increased consumption.

And so what that means is that if we want to have true oil independence, if we want to have true energy independence, then we're going to have to become much more efficient in terms of how we use energy.

What I said was that the Gang of Ten Bill, what I've seen so far, and we haven't seen final legislation, has some of the very aggressive elements that I've outlined in my plan to move us in the direction of genuine energy independence. A good example is their goal that in 20 years, 85 percent of the cars on the road are not -- are no longer petroleum based. That, I think, is the kind of bold step that we need, the fact that they're willing to put in $7 billion to help the auto industry retool so that those new energy efficient cars are made in America, I think is a positive step. So, there are a whole bunch of good things that have been proposed by this bipartisan group.

I remain skeptical of some of the drilling provisions, but I will give them credit that the way they crafted the drilling provisions are about as careful and responsible as you might expect for a drilling agenda. And what I don't want to do is for the best to be the enemy of the good, here. And if we can come up with a genuine bipartisan compromise in which I have to accept some things I don't like or the Democrats have to accept some things that they don't like in exchange for actually moving us in the direction of energy independence, then that's something I'm open to.


NGUYEN: Meanwhile, John McCain has been hitting Barack Obama hard all this week over the issue of offshore oil drilling. Here is Senator McCain's outlying his energy plans to supporters in Wisconsin a little bit earlier this week.


JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that every energy source needs to be part of this solution. We need to develop new alternative energies like wind, solar, tide, biofuels, but we also need to develop more existing energies like nuclear power and clean coal. Nuclear power is safe. Clean coal technology is vital.


My friends, nuclear power is safe. There are some veterans here in this room who served, who served, on ships that had nuclear power plants, we've saled them around the world for more than 60 years and we've never had an accident. And I can tell you that the French -- we always want to imitate the French, right? -- 80 percent of their electricity is generated by nuclear power. And in case you missed it, we now have a pro-American president of France which shows that if you live long enough, anything can happen in the world and America.


But, most importantly, most importantly, and you know this, but it's the compelling argument -- we can't keep sending $700 billion a year to foreign countries that don't like us, and some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations. It's got to stop. And we will stop it and we've got to stop it. So, we can do it. We can do it, my friends.

We got to the moon in a shorter time than was predicted. We can do these things. America is capable of doing it. And those who say we can't, I say you don't know America like I know America. So, we can do this together.


MARCIANO: That was John McCain. But both presidential campaigns do have a void to fill, neither candidate has choosen (SIC) a vice presidential running mate and time is kind of running out. The conventions are just really right around the corner.

Well, Rebecca Roberts is a managing editor of XM Radio's POTUS '08, the news radio channel devoted to the elect. She joins us from our Washington bureau.

Good morning, Rebecca Roberts, first of all, for our viewers who aren't political junkies, what does POTUS stand for?

REBECCA ROBERTS, XM RADIO: Presidents of the United States. It's old newsman shorthand, but we like to throw around on the XM dial on channel 130 as our title.

MARCIANO: All right, sounds good. Let's talk about VP strategy -- that seems to be the buzz this week, probably going to be the buzz for several weeks to come. I mean, what do you if you're trying to pick one? Do you go after somebody who has strengths that are your maybe weaknesses or do you go after somebody who's kind of likeable, maybe more electable?

ROBERTS: Well, I think it's different calls for the different candidates. Senator Obama probably just needs to play it safe, shoot par, insert your sports metaphor here, he is already an historic candidate, he doesn't need to get all edgy with a second spot on the ticket. So, that would argue for someone who is very palatable, not particularly risky, the Evan Bayh, Sam Nunn sort of mold.

MARCIANO: Let's bring down some of these guys. Let's start with the GOP potential vice presidential candidate. Who do you think the favorites are?

ROBERTS: Well, on the Republican side, John McCain has sort of two competing priorities, one is short-term. This election, does he want someone who will maybe help him with some electoral math, shore up the conservative base. Also, if age is a factor for some voters, does he want someone who's younger?

And then there's sort of the long term implications of going forward for the Republican Party, does he want someone who is not white, who is not a man, to be on the top of the ticket so that he, you know, so that the Republicans going forward don't look like the party of old white guys.

MARCIANO: Can you see our monitors, there? We've got Charlie Crist, there. I mean, that might -- he certainly has the silver hair of a more mature man. If you're talking about grabbing a younger looking guy, I suppose, would that eliminate him? Of those four -- and then of course we have one more in the mix, Congressman Cantor -- who would be your favorite?

ROBERTS: Well, I think that Tim Pawlenty is the favorite, right now. Now, we're all guessing, frankly. Let's not pretend. But, I think that Tim Pawlenty, he is conservative, he is Minnesota, he puts the upper Midwest in play to some degree, he doesn't offend anybody. Charlie Crist and Mitt Romney, both anger the religious conservative base to some degree. I spoke to a pastor of a mega church in California this week who said if Mitt Romney were the VP nominee, he would not vote for John McCain.

MARCIANO: Let's -- I want to give the Dems equal time, here. Let's switch gears and talk about Obama's potential picks. There you see Senator Biden, Hillary Clinton, I suppose, and Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia. Who do you like there?

ROBERTS: Well, I'll say Evan Bayh on that list. Joe Biden is certainly the safe mold in terms of his politics, but he has a very bad habit of not using that filter between what goes through your head and what comes out your mouth.

MARCIANO: I have that problem, too. OK, so we have those to pick from. I want to also touch on some of the campaign ads that Senator McCain has thrown out there. He's gotten really aggressive. Let's play a couple of them, the Moses one and Britney Spears one, real quick and then I'll have your comments on them.


ANNOUNCER: He's the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead? With gas prices soaring...

OBAMA: This is the moment when the rise of the ocean began to fold and our planet began to heal.

MOSES: Behold his mighty hand.

ANNOUNCER: Barack Obama maybe the one...



MARCIANO: These are kind of out there, Rebecca, is that the reason they're on the Web?

ROBERTS: Well one's on the Web, one's on the air. I mean, I think that if the goal of the McCain campaign was on get all of us to talk about it, they've succeeded. If the goal was to get people to change their vote, I'm not so sure. You're criticizing someone for being popular? Is that the strategy really?

And there's been a lot of reading between the lines about the choice of Brittany and Paris and young blond women and all of that. I'm not sure it was that well thought through. I think they were just trying to take Senator Obama's strengths, that he's very popular and draws huge crowds, and try to turn it in for a weakness. I think the jury's out on whether or not they succeeded on doing that.

MARCIANO: Well, certainly as the election draws closer, things might get a little more serious, a little bit more cut and dry and a little bit, hopefully more simple for the American voter. Rebecca Roberts of POTUS '08, what time is your show?

ROBERTS: I'm on 4:00 to 6:00 Eastern Time every weekday, channel 130.

MARCIANO: On XM, very good. Thank you Rebecca Roberts for your insight this morning.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Well, as we talk politics, Capitol Hill has basically shuts down right about now. Congress adjourned for the annual August recess, on Friday. But, not everybody left quietly. Republicans held an impromptu session in the House. Demanding Democrats return to work on energy legislation. It was pure theater. Eventually everybody went home.

So, many of you have been weighing in on the August recess. Josh Levs joins us now with a look at what voters are saying. I know some of them have got to be pretty heated about this because there are some issues on the table people want fixed. And they've gone on recess.

JOSH LEVS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You can't even (ph) love this Congress. People love this Congress.

NGUYEN: Do they really?

LEVS: If by people you mean the tiny sliver of the sliver who said they don't hate them.

MARCIANO: But Congress always has a history of taking off on vacation when there's something on the table.

LEVS: Man, yeah, no kidding. I mean, this is obviously the way a lot of people feel, right now. Let's take a look. Actually, I'm going to begin with this, you know, folks basically are not happy leaving town without addressing the high cost of gasoline. Not making a lot of friends. This is the latest CNN Opinion Research Poll, here. Gives lawmakers an approval rating, let's show it, of just 22 percent. That is way down there in the basement. All right, a lot of you either share your opinions, but you have a few here that stand out.

We're going to start out with Brenda Clark who tells us this, she says: "Republicans accused the Democrats of turning off the lights and not debating them. I'm just wondering what all of them have been doing for the last 7-1/2 years."

On the other side now from Y. Coverdale: "I would love for the Democrat-majority Congress to answer to the American public why they felt that passing a bill to regulate cigarettes under the FDA was more important than the fuel situation and our economic situation in general."

One more, gets right at what we were just talking about from Jaime Palmer: "It would be refreshing if congressmen and women were required to work a 40-hour week (or more) and get the two weeks of vacation most of the rest of America gets."

That's a pretty good sampling, there. You obviously can weigh in anytime,, the main question right now: Did Congress do its job? And that's a good summary, because we know people very, very not happy with the Congress.

NGUYEN: Oh, you think? Not happy? We're hearing that loud and clear.

LEVS: Yeah. Think it came through.


MARCIANO: Thanks Josh.

Well, a lot of folks not happy about the extreme heat, either. We've got big time heat and a little bit of a storm brewing, could be the next Edouard. Reynolds has more on that, coming up.


NGUYEN: All right, so they say what goes in, must come down. So, hundreds of thousands of sandbags put up to fight the flood waters in June, they are now coming down. MARCIANO: That's right, volunteers braved the heat yesterday to help take down some of the 500,000 sandbags in the city of Winfield, Missouri. One-by-one, the bags were emptied and the sand trucked away to a dump until officials figure out what to do with it all. And, well, Reynolds Wolf was there just a month ago filling those sandbags.

NGUYEN: Doing the heavy lifting, yeah, the hard work. Does it sadden you to see all that work go away, now?

WOLF: Nope. Not one bit.

NGUYEN: Because it means things are better.

MARCIANO: Yeah, it means things are better and I'll tell you one thing that's interesting about the sandbags, they're suppose to hold about 20 pounds or so of sand. I don't think take happened at all. We were at Winfield High School filling up some sandbags and there were some of the guys from the football team out there and, you know, when you're 16 or 17 years old and you're filling in a sandbag, you want to stuff that thing as much as you possibly can. I mean, it was just ridiculous. They were throwing those things around easily, 50 pounds.

NGUYEN: So, essentially you threw out your back is what you're telling us.

WOLF: It still hurts, Betty. It still hurts.


We've been talking about the heat. But we're also seeing things heat up in terms of activity in the Gulf of Mexico, namely this thing you see right off parts of the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana coast. It's not really a depression yet, it's just an area of disturbed weather. At Barksdale Air Force Base, which is right about here, you have the hurricane hunter teams and they will be flying out of there later this afternoon in one of those neat C-130s that just designed to get all kinds of readings from these storms, and it's going to try to find a center of circulation, try to get a better gander on what the storm is going to do, and let us know to you how to prepare.

Now, I'll tell you what, ut might be that this storm could be a main system over the next 48 hours or so. And if it does get a name, becomes tropical storm, it would be Edouard, no, no Betty this season. And no Rob, either.

NGUYEN: For a Betty or a Rob.

MARCIANO: How could this loveliness actually be a killer storm?

NGUYEN: Right. You've seen me in action, haven't you?

MARCIANO: That's what I'm saying.

NGUYEN: Yikes.

MARCIANO: There you go. All right, thanks, buddy. WOLF: You bet, guys.

MARCIANO: All right, well, they say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

NGUYEN: And our next guest, well he decided to make coffee. Find out how Starbucks actually saved this man's life.


MARCIANO: Time now to check in with Howard Kurtz in Washington to see what's ahead on CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES.

Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD KURTZ, RELIABLE SOURCES: Good morning. Coming up, Paris and Britney do the presidential campaign, thanks to a John McCain ad likening Barack Obama to the notorious party girls. Did the media fall for a cheap gimmick on this story? Journalists debate the race card again as Obama and McCain trade charges on who is going down the low road. Do we have any hope of returning to the high road?

China slaps restrictions on Western journalists in the final days before the Olympics. Is a bigger crackdown on press freedom still to come? That, plus a spat between Bill O'Reilly, Scott McClellan and me, ahead on re sources.

MARCIANO: Always like a little bit of a spat. We'll look forward to that in less than 10 minutes. Thanks Howard.

NGUYEN: This is quite a story, tough times, right now, if you're looking for work, no doubt. You may have heard the jobless rate rose to 5.7 percent this week, this week. That is a four-year high, 51,000 people were laid off last month. Even a coffee giant, Starbucks, isn't immune to it, it's closing hundreds of stores and laying off a thousand workers, but our next guest is holding on to his barista job. He says Starbucks actually saved his life. It is a best-selling memoir from Michael Gill and joins us now from New York from New York, without a Starbucks in-hand, mind you.

You're slipping today, Michael.

MICHAEL GILL, AUTHOR: I'm sorry, Betty, I should have brought you one. I apologize.

NGUYEN: I'll take a tall chi tea anytime, my friend.

All right, let's talk about your story because it's really fascinating. You had a six-figure salary. You hung out with the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Kennedys, yet you say Starbucks saved your life. How so?

GILL: Well, I had been fired from my job in advertising, I had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and I was having a latte one day in a store in New York, and this young woman, a 28-year-old African- American woman who had grown up in the projects in Brooklyn, she looked over and said "would you like a job", and that chance to have a whole new life and new job was given me and it changed my life because I was with people I never would have met before and serving other people, which was a lot more rewarding than trying to manipulate them than I had been doing in my previous life.

NGUYEN: Wait, you never thought for a second hold up, I'm a high- powered advertising exec, why would I want to work for Starbucks?

GILL: Yeah, I never thought for a second, Betty. I think that was the key. One of the things I learned is if you think your way -- you know, I never would have wanted to trade my Brooks Brothers suit for a green apron, right?


GILL: But, by not thinking about it, I realized I did need a job and along with a job came a level of respect and like Crystal, that was the young woman's name, she really -- my first day on my job she brought me coffee and pastry. In other words, she really treated me with a respect and dignity I hadn't felt in many years.

NGUYEN: Do you think that this decision may not have been made had you not been fired, had you not been diagnosed with that brain tumor?

GILL: That's exactly right, Betty. I think that sometimes, you know, these things or shocks are wake-up calls. For example with the brain tumor, I think I never would have realized -- I mean, always take your health for granted and I was thinking I have plenty of time to doing everything, now I realize each day and moment is so precious and in addition the human connection, which I'm able to do each day at Starbucks, you know, with other people has really reminded me it's not the external stuff of big jobs and big salaries, but it's the little human connections that are the most important thing in life.

NGUYEN: Well, let's get to those connections and those lessons learned and I do want to tell our viewers, though, that you're OK, that the brain tumor is still there, but you're OK for now and your health is just fine, but you say you're not looking to leave Starbucks and the experience there has really changed your life. What are the lessons you've learned, especially for folks out there, thousands of them, some 400,000 Americans have lost their jobs this year alone, what is your advice to them? What have you learned through this experience that can really help those facing hard times, right now?

GILL: Well, what I've been told by other people, and the other day a young woman came in and she said she had just been fired and said my book really helped her and I said, well, here's some of the lessons and the first one I called them the Three L's." The first one is "Leap with Faith." Don't try to think because I was trying to think so hard I couldn't -- I wouldn't never have gotten out of my box, so just leap forward with faith that if you do, someone like Crystal or someone else can help you then.

The second one is "Look." Look at every person with respect, because if I hadn't made eye contact with Crystal or treated her with respect and her treating me with respect I could never have made this transition, so every person you immediate, every individual, don't rush by them, look into their eyes and treat them with respect. And then the final "L" is the most important, I think, which is to "Listen to Your Heart." Believe it or not, I'm 68 now. For six years I didn't really stop and listen to my own heart and what I wanted to do, and listening to your heart, I think, can bring you a whole new level of happiness.

NGUYEN: And that inner voice is there for a reason and in fact, you know, because of all of this, not only have you written quite a remarkable book, but this is going to be made into a move, maybe Tom Hanks will play you, although I would say you're a little better looking than he is.

GILL: Betty, I'm so grateful. I think the major emotion I feel right now is with the best-selling book and the idea that Tom Hanks, he called and said, you know, I think the reason he wanted to play me was some people think, well, your life is over at a certain point, right? And he said what he liked about this story was that you could have a whole new life and you're happier than ever with just the fact of surprise, a happy surprise coming in.

NGUYEN: You know, a man who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor is here talking to us about a happy surprise. Michael, you are quite a man, and it's quite an experience to be able to talk to you today and just really learn what you've been through. Thanks so much.

GILL: Thank you, Betty.

MARCIANO: How badly do I want to hang out with Michael.

NGUYEN: Exactly.

MARCIANO: I mean -- full of positive energy?

NGUYEN: Grab a cup of coffee, sit around and just let him tell you stories.

MARCIANO: Love that guy. Excellent story.

All right, hey listen, it was a moment until now that only a handful of people had witnessed.

NGUYEN: And thanks to the internet a whole new generation of jazz lovers can savor this gem from the past.


MARCIANO: Josh Levs is here talking about how the Internet now giving new life to some old videos.

NGUYEN: Yeah, it's all about jazz.

LEVS: Let's get right to it, 1993, the Umbria Jazz festival in Italy was Wycliffe Gordon and Winton Marsalis went at it. Take a look.

(MUSIC) MARCIANO: This is completely impromptu?

LEVS: Totally impromptu. They just decided to have a little competition outside their windows and apparently the folks on the street were eating it up. A few people caught it on video, but nobody could see it until now.

NGUYEN: That is so cool. Battling, there.

MARCIANO: Excellent stuff. All right. Good to see you, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks guys.

MARCIANO: Betty, RELIABLE SOURCES is coming up next.

NGUYEN: Looking forward to that, but first though, here's a check of this morning top developments.

At least nine mountain climbers are feared dead after an ice avalanche on the world's second highest mountain. The climbers scaled the 28,000-foot high Pakistan peak known as K-2. They were on their way back down when the avalanche took place.

The man who was decapitated aboard a Canadian bus last week is being identified at 22-year-old Tim McLean. Mclean is described by his uncle as, "a little guy with a heart bigger than you could know." The man accused of attacking McLean for no apparent reason is in custody facing second-degree murder charges.

And we do have some live pictures from a special service at Knoxville, Tennessee, a church there today one week after a gunman killed two people in that very church, members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church say they are gathering to reclaim their sanctuary from last week's violence.

We're going to have more top stories in 30 minutes. RELIABLE SOURCES begins right now.