Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

Feds Crack Down on the Largest Case of Identity Theft; Feds Will Reveal New Evidence on Bruce Ivins; Madeleine McCann's New Secret Files Come to Light; McCain Slams Obama's Energy Plan; Paris Hilton's Spoof Ad Fires Back at McCain; China Revokes Olympic Medalist's Visa

Aired August 6, 2008 - 07:00   ET

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


ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Barack Obama has a narrow five- point lead over John McCain in CNN's latest poll of polls. Obama is at 48 percent, McCain at 43. Nine percent of the registered voters are still unsure who they'll vote for.
Obama's lead is up slightly from the three-point margin held on Friday. But he led by six, you may remember, a week ago.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: More on our top story this hour. Thousands of Americans checking their bank records this morning after what is being called the largest identity theft case in U.S. history. More than 40 million credit and debit card numbers stolen from nine major stores and restaurant chains across the United States.

Our Alina Cho has details on this worldwide crime ring and how it was finally busted up. Hi, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran, good morning. You know what's so incredible about this is that many people may not even know that they're victims. So how were so many credit card numbers stolen? Well, you may be surprised to hear that the thieves didn't even have to go inside the stores to rip people off. They just drove around.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL MUKASEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL: They caused widespread losses by banks, retailers and customers.

CHO (voice-over): How much? The Feds say it may be too hard to add it all up. Maybe tens of millions of dollars from people who shopped at places like Office Max, DSW, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21, even Boston Market. The alleged criminals sat outside with a laptop, waited for a wireless purchase to go down, and then used a so-called sniffer program to get into a store's network.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, DIST. OF MASSACHUSETTS: This allowed the defendants to remotely capture sensitive information such as the card numbers, passwords and account information.

CHO: The hackers allegedly sold that personal information or used it themselves. Some numbers were stored on magnetic strips of blank cards and used to draw tens of thousands of dollars from ATMs. MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This is from the standpoint of what I guess you would describe as a white collar crime, probably one of the biggest challenges we face in the 21st century. Huge amounts of money move over the Internet.

CHO: Many people whose numbers were stolen may not realize they're victims yet. But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says they're working with stores to close the cyber hole.

CHERTOFF: The international system is safe. But I also have to tell you the bad guys are smart, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: Now, the scheme allegedly stretched over five years in several states including California, New York, Florida and Massachusetts. Authorities say the key suspect was actually "double dealing" giving the secret service tips and ripping off the public at the same time.

Kiran, another suspected hacker is still on the loose. He is known only by his online name, "handle" -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Now what do you do if you think that your card info was stolen?

CHO: Listen, Kiran, there are a couple of obvious things. If you have mysterious charges on your card, investigate that. If your monthly bill or checks you ordered don't come in on time, look into that as well. Also, if you have impeccable credit and suddenly you're turned down for something like a loan, look into that as well -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks a lot, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

MARCIANO: Headlines around the country now. John Gotti Jr. is being held without bail, facing charges in connection with three alleged mob hits, cocaine trafficking and more. The son of legendary mobster John Gotti could face life in prison if convicted. Gotti's lawyer says the government's case is based on lies by criminals cutting deals to keep themselves out of jail.

And an American Airlines plane makes an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport. Passengers got off the plane using the inflatable slides. An hour into the flight people reported smelling smoke in the plane's cabin. The pilot requested an emergency landing and then an emergency evacuation. An American Airlines spokesperson said the emergency landing was just a precaution and no source was found for the reported smoke.

And we're going to learn more today about the anthrax case. As our Jeanne Meserve reports, federal investigators will reveal some of their evidence against Bruce Ivins. JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Rob, Kiran, just a few hours from now the survivors of the 2001 anthrax attacks and families of the victims expect to be briefed by the FBI on the investigation into Bruce Ivins. He is the Fort Detrick scientist and suspect who committed suicide last week. Meanwhile, there is new information about a piece of equipment that may be key to the case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (voice-over): This is a lyopholizer. A machine like this can convert wet anthrax, the kind used at Fort Detrick into a dry powder. A powder was used in the anthrax letters.

Lyopholizers are not usually used at Fort Detrick where Bruce Ivins worked. But in the fall of 2001, around the time of the anthrax attacks, Ivins borrowed a lyopholizer to do authorized research, according to a source familiar with the investigation who did not want to be identified because it is ongoing. The machines are widely used and easy to get.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, MICROBIOLOGY CHMN., GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV: I wouldn't necessarily make the conclusion that just because he had access to a lyopholizer and used a lyopholizer, that that provides a smoking gun. That he must be using this for sinister purposes.

MESERVE: Richard Spertzel, a leading anthrax researcher, goes further. He tells CNN, "There is no way a lyopholizer could have been used to create the fine anthrax spores used in the 2001 letters." Spertzel says another advanced machine would be needed. And he says there is no way anyone could produce such high quality anthrax in secret.

The skepticism in scientific circles about the case against Ivins is putting additional pressure on the Justice Department to lay out its evidence. All of it. Soon, says a former prosecutor.

ANDREW MCBRIDE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think the public and the survivors of the victims of the anthrax attacks are entitled to see the evidence before the grand jury. And if there was a draft indictment and they were ready to indict Mr. Ivins, to see that as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: And that is exactly what the Justice Department plans to do. After briefing the families and victims on the case this morning, the department is expected to brief the press. However, one government official says the anthrax case will not be officially declared closed. Rob and Kiran, back to you.

MARCIANO: Jean, in addition to the families of those killed, about two dozen survivors will also be briefed in a closed door meeting at FBI headquarters. The senators who were targeted will also be briefed.

CHETRY: And new this morning, Madeleine McCann's parents are blasting the Portuguese police after new secret files on their little girl's disappearance came to light. They include a possible sighting that investigators may actually have ignored, at least not told them about.

Phil Black is live in London with more on this discovery. Hi, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, good morning. Thirty thousand pages of secret police files have now been released detailing the entire investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal in May last year. There have long been suspicions about the caliber of that police investigation.

Now within these files is perhaps information that may justify some of those concerns. Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, they were accused of involvement in their daughter's disappearance at one stage. We now know that was based upon DNA evidence that was known by the police to be inconclusive.

Within these files, there were images compiled from witness statements of men who have said to be behaving suspiciously around the time and place that Madeleine disappeared. These images are very similar. They were not made public. They were not shown to Madeleine's parents, nor was CCTV images captured of Madeleine look- alikes across Portugal in the days after Madeleine went missing.

Madeleine's parents never saw those either. But perhaps most disturbingly, the reports of a sighting from a witness, a woman in the Dutch city of Amsterdam, who said she had a conversation with a young girl who looked like Madeleine, who told her her name was Maddie, and who said that she had been taken from her parents while on holiday. It is not known to what extent the Portuguese police followed up that one.

Now all of this is only being made public now, more than a year after Madeleine went missing, and only now that the police investigation has officially closed with no firm theory on just what happened to this little girl -- Kiran.

CHETRY: So, Phil, on that note, the supposed sighting and that witness, can the McCanns now follow up? I mean, are they going to look into that?

BLACK: Indeed. That is what will now happen. They have private investigators that are closely studying this police file -- these 30,000 pages. They hope that somewhere within there, there is a piece of evidence, a statement, a sighting that in some way has been overlooked and may lead their investigative team to a much better result -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we hope so. Phil Black for us in London this morning. Thank you.

MARCIANO: Here's what we're working on for you this morning. Paris Hilton's platform. And we're not talking about her heels. A look at her brand-new campaign ad? She's firing back at John McCain. Also, former Olympic medalists denied the chance to go to Beijing. The Chinese government revokes visas for former athletes now pushing for peace.

Speed skating gold medalist Joey Cheek is one of the athletes being kept out. We'll talk about that and his fight for human rights in Darfur.

And more and more women are donating their eggs for fertility treatment. Why the increase and what are the risks? We're paging Dr. Gupta and you're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: And Ali Velshi is here "Minding Your Business." Good to have you back.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's great to be back. I really -- I missed you guys. I was, you know, in Croatia. I was on the Adriatic, but I really was missing all of you.

MARCIANO: You do have that post vacation either glow or depression. I can't really tell.

VELSHI: It's just a goatee, really.

CHETRY: Did you get any e-mail?

VELSHI: I don't have anything to blast just yet. But I should show you all. I come prepared for this stuff. I'm under no impression that it's going to last. So I've got shaving cream -- yes, and a little after (ph) shave. So in the event that the boss calls I'm ready to go.

MARCIANO: Atta boy.

VELSHI: I'm racking out of this thing off in two minutes.

One of the things that I was getting a lot of jokes about while I was away was how oil had been dropping and markets were doing well. And yesterday was a fairly significant day.

The Dow was actually up 331 points. Got a substantial boost, and part of that was another drop in the price of oil. Oil closing yesterday above $118. This morning it's a little above $119.

Remember, we were looking at oil in the 140s. I mean, it's really quite incredible, the pull back that we've had. We've also had for the 20th straight day another reduction in the average price of a gallon of self-serve gasoline.

Let me show you. This is -- look at -- the green line there is the Dow, and the red line is oil. So as you can see, one's been going up as the other one's been going down. There has been a very direct relationship between oil and the Dow. So we're looking at oil around 120 bucks right now. Gasoline going for $3.86 a gallon. That has fallen as I said for the 20th straight day. You'll remember back on July 16th it was $4.11. So I hope this continues because I'm back.

MARCIANO: Maybe you keep it until the price of --

VELSHI: I'll keep this until the price -- the price of oil goes back up or the price of gas goes back up, or the boss says it has to go.

MARCIANO: I never knew Howie Mandel was so smart about business.

CHETRY: Between that and the game show, where does he find the time?

CHETRY: Thanks, Ali.

MARCIANO: Welcome back, Ali.

VELSHI: Thanks.

MARCIANO: Well, John McCain keeps checking the tires. We'll show you his latest attack on Barack Obama's energy policy.

CHETRY: And don't worry. It's just mist. One Olympic official tries to calm pollution fears in Beijing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: The "Most Politics in the Morning" now. AMERICAN MORNING is committed to helping you make an informed choice in November. We're showing you more of the candidates' message to voters in their own words.

Senator John McCain was wowing the crowd at the Sturgis bike rally making the case for his energy plan and his plan for the war in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thank you all very much for that unique Sturgis welcome. As you may know, not long ago a couple hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I'll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day -- any day, my friends!

May I say to you, is there anybody that's tired of paying $4 -- $4 a gallon for gasoline? Is there anybody that's sick and tired of it? Is there anybody that wants to become energy independent?

Well, I'm telling you right now we're sending $700 billion over a year and your Congress just went on vacation for five weeks. Tell them to come back and get to work. Tell them to get to work.

When I'm president of the United States I'm not going to let them go on vacation. They're going to become energy independent, and we're not going to pay $4 a gallon for gas because we're going to drill offshore and we're going to drill now! We're going to drill here and we're going to drill now!

My opponent doesn't want to drill. He doesn't want nuclear power. He wants to inflate your tires. My friends, we need a commander in chief. We need a commander in chief who'll end the war in Iraq but will win it the right way. And that's by winning it. And we're not going to be defeated.

And my opponent -- my opponent wants to set a date to come home. I want us to come home with victory and honor so we will never go back again. We won't go back. Thank you. Thank you.

And we owe -- my friends, we owe victory to the courage and love by this country by people who are here. You're the heartland of America. You're the heart and soul of America. You'll provide the men and women who serve our military.

I'm honored. I'm honored to be in your company. And we will win this war and we will defeat al-Qaeda, and America will remain the last best hope of man on earth.

So let me just -- let me just close by saying, thank you, thank you for honoring the men and women who have served. Thank you for your service.

My friends, I know it will be a good sign on Election Day if there are a lot of bikes parked outside the polling places of America. So don't let November 4th find you on the open road. I'm counting on you to show up. And I'm asking for your vote. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: Coming up in our next half hour, we'll hear from Barack Obama what he has to say about offshore drilling.

CHETRY: Well, she is a well balanced energy compromise for America and it's right there in her pink bedazzled sidekick. How Paris Hilton has now gotten into the campaign fray. Her campaign spoof firing back at John McCain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: 21 minutes after the hour. Time to fast forward to stories that will be making news later on today. In just a few minutes, President Bush is due to arrive in Bangkok, Thailand. He'll have a working dinner with Thailand's prime minister. And tomorrow, he's set to make a major speech on Burma.

And the Justice Department and the FBI will release evidence in the anthrax investigation today. First, survivors of the attacks and family members of those who died will be briefed. Then the info will be shared with reporters. The FBI is expected to declare the case solved but not closed because administrative details still have yet to be completed.

And the debate over energy continues in the House today. The thing is, only Republicans came back from their vacation early. So Democrats won't be there to debate the other side. Republicans hoping to pressure the Democrats into coming back and passing an energy bill.

And that's what we're working on this morning -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Rob, thanks.

Well, Paris Hilton has entered the 2008 presidential race. Well, not really. But she is firing back at "that white haired guy," as she calls him, who used her in his own political ad.

CNN's Kareen Wynter has the political spoof for us from L.A.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rob and Kiran, good morning. She's been out of the spotlight for a while, but it only took one political ad for Paris Hilton to make headlines again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PARIS HILTON, ACTRESS: I'm Paris Hilton and I approve this message. I think it's totally hot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER (voice-over): Paris Hilton sitting poolside. Slings mud at GOP presidential hopeful John McCain in a new response ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILTON: But then that wrinkly white haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I'm running from president. So thanks for the endorsement, white haired dude. And I want America to know that I'm, like, totally ready to lead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER: The socialite sounded off on the comedy video Web site funnyordie.com. It's a jab at McCain's recent ad against Democratic rival Barack Obama, which compared Obama's rising popularity to that of Paris and fellow Hollywood bad girl Britney Spears.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ADVERTISEMENT)

NARRATOR: The biggest celebrity in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER: Hilton's ad takes a swipe at McCain's age.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: He's the oldest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER: And offers her own energy policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

HILTON: We can do limited offshore drilling with strict environmental oversight while creating tax incentives to get Detroit making hybrid and electric cars. That way the offshore drilling carries us until the new technologies kick in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER: McCain's camp quickly responded saying, "Paris Hilton might not be as big a celebrity as Barack Obama, but she obviously has a better energy plan." Obama hasn't responded yet, but has addressed the original McCain ad.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference.

WYNTER: And we may be hearing more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILTON: Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go pick out a vice president. I'm thinking Reanna.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WYNTER: The ad was a brainstorm of one of funnyordie.com's founders, Adam McKay, who says, "McCain made one huge mistake. He drifted into the world of pop culture, and that's Paris's world. She owns that world. So now, he gets the blow back" -- Rob, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Kareen Wynter for us. Thank you.

Paris Hilton's family has donated to John McCain's campaign. And her mother said that she didn't appreciate the original ad that pictured her daughter.

MARCIANO: Fair amount of television production involved in that advertisement. That's for sure.

Former Olympian Joey Cheek and other athletes turned activists plan to attend the Beijing games to bring attention to the problems in Darfur. But the Chinese government revoked their visas. Cheek will join us live.

And nudging China on human rights. President Bush expressing "deep concerns just hours before the opening ceremonies in Beijing, previewing a major speech he's making today. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." The Olympic torch finally arrives in Beijing today after visiting 19 countries over 130 days. The torch reaches the host city. Four hundred thirty-three people carried it during today's four-hour leg. The Olympic torch will be lit Friday at the opening ceremonies.

And one person who may not make the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics is Joey Cheek. Cheek won two medals in speed skating for the U.S. at the 2006 Winter Games and donated his $40,000 in prize money to an organization to help refugees from Darfur.

He and some other athletes plan to attend the Beijing games to continue advocating for human rights there. China, though, at the last minute denied at least two of them visas, including Joey himself, who joins me live from Washington this morning.

Thanks for being with us, Joey.

JOEY CHEEK, U.S. OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Thanks for having me.

CHETRY: So you had planned to go to the Beijing games to support this group that you've founded, the Team Darfur.

CHEEK: Right.

CHETRY: What did you find out about your visa?

CHEEK: Well, first of all, I was given a visa on July 1st and then it was revoked last night just after business hours the day before I was supposed to leave for China.

So we got a call from the consulate, the Chinese consulate here in D.C., and they said, Mr. Cheek, you know, your visa has been revoked. And when I asked if there was anyone else I could speak with or if they could give me reasons, they said we don't have to give any reasons for this and there's really no one else to speak to. So it looks like there's not much recourse.

CHETRY: What's your best guess about the timing of revoking your visa and why they decided to do it?

CHEEK: Well, it was a bit of a shock. I'm not surprised at all that, you know, they would bar me from coming. I'm surprised they'd grant me the visa and then revoke it the time that they did.

Regardless, we've heard incidents from four separate athletes at least coming into these games in the weeks leading up to these Olympics. They'd gotten calls from their National Olympic Committees who'd gotten calls from the Chinese saying if they didn't drop off of Team Darfur they'd be treated as suspect individuals. They'd be subject to extra searches, extra security screenings.

CHETRY: OK. You said if they didn't drop out of Team Darfur. There are 72 current athletes that are part of Team Darfur. What is that?

CHEEK: We actually have more than 380 athletes from around the world.

CHETRY: Right. But the ones that are currently competing in this Olympics, right?

CHEEK: Right.

CHETRY: There are 72 of them?

CHEEK: We have 72 athletes that will be at Beijing from 18 countries that have signed up to be part of Team Darfur whose real mission is to use some of their Olympic spotlight to talk about the crisis and try and raise awareness about the crisis in Darfur.

And we began hearing stories from athletes weeks ago leading into this Olympics saying that there were getting approached by their Olympic committees who said that the Chinese had approached them. It's not surprising that I got denied a visa or mine was revoked. But I'm becoming more and more irritated of the pressure that's being brought to bear on athletes who are competitors in the Olympics.

CHETRY: Now, aren't they though by the International Olympic Committees rules, not just the Chinese government, barred from wearing symbols, making political statements, doing protests at the games, does that surprise you that China would want to keep a lid on that and focus on the games?

CHEEK: Well, of course not, but the fact is, we have actually from the very inception of this, most of the athletes part of Team Darfur like myself are former Olympians, current Olympians and Olympic hopefuls. More than, again, we've got more than 380 athletes who've signed up for this.

We've never once, never advocated for a boycott. We've never once advocated for anyone to break any of the IOC rules including the ones about wearing wristbands, T-shirts. We've always urged every athlete to adhere to every single rule. But we do think your chance in the spotlight and your media opportunity gives you a unique opportunity to reach people and to reach and try and talk about this crisis. Which we feel is of the Olympic spirit.

And you know, the fact that there's such an honest, systematic pressure on athletes to keep quiet but also ISCE officials to keep quiet, I mean, I'm not surprised. But it's just bizarre to me.

CHETRY: Right. And you know, for people that have not followed every move about what's going on in the crisis, China is, by the way, the largest economic supporter of Sudan and is said to have provided weapons to the Sudanese government as well. So that's one reason you want renewed focus on this.

Let us know how it goes. I know you're meeting with Chinese officials today.

Joey Cheek, American speed skater and co-founder of Team Darfur. Thanks for talking to us this morning.

CHEEK: Thank you.

MARCIANO: Just past half past the hour. And here are this morning's top stories. Iraq could have a budget surplus of $80 billion. Congressional auditors say the country's piling up money from oil reserves and revenues while the U.S. foots the bill for rebuilding. Senator Carl Levin is calling for the Iraqi government to reimburse U.S. taxpayers for reconstruction.

President Bush is expected to arrive in Bangkok any minute. This morning he's expressing, "deep concerns about human rights in China." He also had some tough words for North Korea on his last Asian trip as commander in chief. White House correspondent Elaine Quijano has the latest. Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kiran and Rob, President Bush says North Korea sill has work to do but can one day get off the U.S.'s terrorism blacklist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO (voice-over): Standing side by side with South Korea's leader, President Bush called on North Korea to verify its accounting of its nuclear weapons program. Articulating what his actions have already demonstrated. A shift in dealing with a country he once labeled part of the axis of evil.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My hope is that the axis of evil list no longer exists. That's my hope for the sake of peace.

QUIJANO: It's a far cry from President Bush's first state of the union address only months after 9/11.

BUSH: North Korea has a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction while starving its citizens. States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil.

QUIJANO: Six years later in the waning months of his administration, the President has agreed to remove North Korea from the U.S.'s list of state sponsors of terrorism. But only if Kim Jung Il meets certain conditions.

BUSH: They've got a lot to do. They've got to show us a verification regime that we can trust. This is a step by step process. I don't know whether or not they're going to give up their weapons. I really don't know.

QUIJANO: Later, visiting U.S. troops in Korea, the President said the region demonstrated both the beauty of freedom and the difficulties with closed societies.

BUSH: As South Korea takes its rightful place on the world stage, North Korea traps its people in misery and isolation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO: The president's next stop, Thailand where he'll deliver a speech trying to walk the fine line between putting pressure on china over human rights and religious freedom and not insulting Chinese leaders ahead of his visit to attend the Beijing Olympics. Kiran. Rob.

MARCIANO: Thanks, Elaine.

CHETRY: And meanwhile, Alina Cho is here now with some more stories new this morning. It's not smog. It's just mist.

ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

MARCIANO: Haze in the air.

CHO: Yes. We're talking about Beijing, of course. And you're right. New this morning, guys, it's not smog. It's just mist. That is what one Olympic official is saying about the pollution problem in Beijing. Just a couple of days before the opening ceremonies. The official blamed the media for overstating the city's pollution problems, even though Beijing's polluted air reportedly came close to exceeding levels even the Chinese consider dangerous. The Chinese government has already taken millions of cars off the roads and may close more than 100 factories during the games.

A former flight attendant is suing Victoria Osteen, the wife of televangelist, Joel Osteen. Flight attendant Sharon Brown says Osteen threw her against an airplane bathroom door and elbowed her in the chest during an argument over spilled liquid on an arm rest in a flight back in 2005. Brown is claiming the incident caused her to lose her faith and also said it caused her hemorrhoids to flare up. Osteen's attorney calls the allegations, "absolutely insane."

Well, it's all the hassle of going to the airport without actually flying. Any volunteers? Jet Blue looking for 1,000 of its frequent flyers to show up at JFK Airport in New York on August 23rd. Why? To test out baggage and security systems at its brand-new terminal. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? It's promising giveaways. No word on what those will be. And a free lunch. But no free blankets or pillows. That'll cost you seven bucks.

And looking for an easy way to shed pounds? Try eggs. Researchers from St. Louis University say a low calorie diet that begins with two eggs for breakfast is better than beginning with a single bagel with the same calories. People on the egg diet who also cut down by 1,000 calories a day lost 65 percent more weight and 16 percent more body fat than people who did the same, that means cutting down by 1,000 calories, but starting the day with a bagel. Those who didn't cut calories simply maintained their weight.

CHETRY: Wow. I could eat a dozen eggs a day. I love eggs.

CHO: It's the protein. It's the protein and a little fat keeps you full. That's what I'm told. CHETRY: Can we get back to the Jet Blue? I want you to go there to JFK Airport and I want you to talk to people who would willingly wait to sign up to wait in the airport check point line.

CHO: I thought you were going to talk about the other story.

MARCIANO: Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be up soon. I'm wondering if a little nudge in the chest can actually makes your hemorrhoids flare up.

CHETRY: There's a lot of fascinating news.

CHO: I packed a lot in in two minutes, guys.

MARCIANO: Also firing up quite a bit in his business reports, Ali Velshi. He is joining us now. He's going to talk about what you have coming up. Hey Ali, I notice you're standing.

ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. I'm talking about driving. Alina was talking about pollution in China. Well, Nissan has unveiled a new car that's going to be totally electric. It's part of the effort to go green and to save people on fuel. I'm going to tell you about that when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back. We are with Ali Velshi and he's breaking it all down for us.

MARCIANO: Giving us a side view of the beard.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: You guys have reserved opinion on this, I've noticed.

MARCIANO: Yes. I don't think it's proper for me. As a female maybe you want to make an opinion. It looks pretty sharp.

VELSHI: If any of you out there has an opinion, let us know.

CHETRY: I like it.

MARCIANO: Our boss thinks it looks hot. And she's a woman.

VELSHI: Oh, there you go. That decides the whole thing. We have got some news out of Nissan. With gas prices, even though they've been dropping in my absence, we're still, I mean, can you imagine we're happy that for the 20th day in a row gas prices are down and they're still at $3.80 something?

So in these efforts to deal with this car company who has been doing a lot of things. Nissan has unveiled a fully electric vehicle in Japan. They say it'll be on sale - this is the prototype. This is what the prototype looks like. Remember, fully electric vehicles have batteries in them. And that's the concern, always. So, this is set for sale in 2010 in Japan and globally by 2011. We've been getting hints of this because Nissan has been talking - they have a partnership with the government of Portugal. And some partnerships involving selling electric cars in Israel and Denmark, both by 2011.

This thing is zero emissions. It's quiet. The range of the car, which is the important thing when you're thinking about electric vehicle because you have to plug it in and charge it, has not yet been determined. There are always issues about range and the distance it will travel. So Nissan has been a little behind in terms of the hybrid cars. They have a hybrid Altima which is made in the United States but it uses the hybrid technology from Toyota and buys that hybrid technology. So they're putting a lot of money into being a fully electric car. These work in a lot of urban centers. You'll find a lot of cities and corporations buying into them. Places that don't have to go very far. They can just plug in and do things like that.

So we'll keep an eye on that. But that's going to be a trend we're probably going to be seeing a lot more of. One question that Kiran raised a long time ago when I started talking about electric cars is what does it do to electricity, what does it do to the cost and demand for electricity. So these are all issues that have to be confronted but at least you got --

MARCIANO: Some circuit breakers may be going off.

VELSHI: That's right. In New York, drove one of them.

MARCIANO: Quite honestly, I'm a little scared.

CHETRY: You remember to charge your cell phone and your Blackberry every day. So can't you remember to charge your car?

MARCIANO: Yes bit everybody plugging in their cars at one time?

VELSHI: Yes. The issue is how much power will that draw. Interesting story.

CHETRY: And you've got to dispose of the toxic battery, you know.

VELSHI: That's a big concern. The car companies want to deal with that on the front end. How we deal with the fact that we're going to have batteries all over the place.

CHETRY: By the way, beard makes you look thinner. Ten pounds easily.

VELSHI: Thank you.

CHETRY: Is there a parallel between Batman and President Bush. CNN's Glenn Beck thinks so. Why he says the new film "The Dark Knight" praises the president's fight against terror.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. We're trying to help you make an informed choice for president this November. And as part of that we're playing longer clips of the candidates speaking out on the campaign trail, talking about issues so that you can hear from them "In their own words." Here's Barack Obama defending attacks on his energy policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The other day I was at a town hall meeting, and I laid out my plans for investing $15 billion a year energy efficient cars and a new electricity grid and all this. Somebody said, well, what can I do? What can individuals do? I told him something simple. I said, you know what, you can inflate your tires to the proper levels. And that if everybody in America inflated their tires to the proper level, we would actually probably save more oil than all the oil that we'd get from John McCain drilling right below his feet there, wherever it is that he was going to - wherever he was going to drill.

So now the republicans are going around - this is the kind of thing they do. I don't understand it. They're going around. They're sending little tire gauges, making fun of this idea as if this is Barack Obama's energy plan. Now, two points. One, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is. But the other thing is, they're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by three to four percent.

It's like - it's like - it's like these guys take pride in being ignorant. You know? I mean, they think it's funny that they're making fun of something that is actually true. They need to do their homework. Because this is serious business. Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: There was Barack Obama. And coming up in the next half hour, we'll hear from John McCain on his energy plan.

MARCIANO: Batman. And the war on terror. Does Christian Bale's "The Dark Knight" hold a hidden message that praises President Bush's fight against terrorism? CNN's Glenn Beck joins us with that. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: Well, fertility clinics are reporting an increase in the number of women calling about donating their eggs. Could it be a way to make some extra money in these tough economic times or is something else going on there? We're "Paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta" with some perspective on this. Sanjay, I'm reading these - women can get up to $10,000 a pop? What's going on here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's something that can be a lot of money for these women who donate their eggs. And as far as the economy being a factor here, the clinics that we talked to say possibly. The downturn in the economy might play a role here but it's probably more marketing about these egg donations. More awareness than even before, and also this particular time of year college students are the biggest donors.

They're starting to think about tuition, book cost in the fall. Getting $5,000, $10,000 can be a good way to defray some of those costs. That's probably all part of what's going on here. Let me say something that's important as we were investigating this a bit, it's not as easy as going in to a clinic and saying, OK, I'm ready to be an egg donor. This is a big process, it can take up to 40 days to be screened. You got to get blood test, often times, you have to have minor surgery, you have to take drugs to actually stimulate egg production. So there's a lot that goes into here. Rob.

MARCIANO: Well, there's got to be some risks as I assume. What are they?

GUPTA: Well, in the short term, there are some risks. You take these medications and you can suffer something known as ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. That's probably the biggest risk. Your ovaries are stimulating too many eggs. You get a lot of swelling in the abdomen, bloating, weight gain. These are sort of short-term risks. If you are a person who donates often you can probably do it up to six times in your lifetime. If you do it more than that you have a chance of becoming infertile yourself. The ideal donor is between the ages of 21 and 33. Rob.

MARCIANO: Who else would not be eligible? Who would not be a good idea for?

GUPTA: Well, the biggest concern really is people who have had some sort of infectious disease risk, body piercings, tattoos, multiple sexual partners. Also they have a BMI of over 30, they're going to be a poor choice, smokers as well. So those are the things that will probably get you eliminated off the list. Incidentally, about 90 percent of the people who say they want to be egg donors will never become egg donors because the clinics will eliminate them for one reason or another.

MARCIANO: All right. Interesting perspective. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, good to see you, my friend.

GUPTA: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: And to learn more about what it takes to donate eggs for money, visit CNN.com/health.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY (voice-over): The case against Barack Obama. Meet the man who says his rise to prominence was built on a technicality.

Plus, fee for all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are just sick of being nickeled and dimed to death.

CHETRY: $7 pillows have flyers saying enough with obnoxious airline fees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you pay extra for all those little things you used to get for free?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never.

CHETRY: You're watching the most news in the morning.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: The "Batman" blockbuster. "The Dark Knight" still garnering rave reviews. And there's already Oscar buzz for the late Heath Ledger's turn as the villain Joker. But all that aside, is the "Dark Knight" also a movie praising President Bush and how he carried out the war on terror?

CNN "Headline News" host Glenn Beck has more than a few thoughts on this. This is going to be interesting.

Good morning, Glenn. How are you making the parallel between Batman and George Bush?

GLENN BECK, HOST CNN "HEADLINE NEWS": I find it hard to believe that somebody can't make the parallel, if you've seen this. I mean I heard this talk beforehand and I'm like, come on, there's no way that is possible. And then I sat in the movie and I honestly I was confused the whole time. I was like, wait a minute.

This seems to be a movie that extols some of the conservative viewpoints that we are dealing with terrorists, that you can trust people to make the right decision, that sometimes you have to do things that you don't want to do, and you have to cross lines that you don't want to cross, if you're going to save - if you're going to save your city, in this case it's Gotham.

MARCIANO: Give us for instance, Glenn. We've talked about Batman going against the Joker, I guess, that's George Bush going against -

BECK: I wouldn't concentrate on the Batman is -

MARCIANO: We'll try not to give away the movie for those who haven't seen it.

BECK: Yes. I wouldn't concentrate that you know Batman is George Bush. I don't know if he's George Bush. I mean, you know, the one thing that made sense to me is at first Batman's fighting it in a way he doesn't really, you know, he's thinking, well I don't want to go too far, yadda yadda yadda. And then finally he does step to the plate. Maybe that makes him George Bush. I think this is just much more of a movie and it was shocking to me of conservative values on the war on terror.

First of all there is rendition, which I'm not even sure I'm for. But Batman goes into another country and with a C-130 snatches a guy out, and then throws hip back here into Gotham. So there's rendition. At one point the Morgan Freeman character says to Batman, wait a minute, hang on, you're eavesdropping on everyone in Gotham? And Batman says, yes, to stop this terrorist. Morgan Freeman says, I can't be a part of it. And yet Morgan Freeman does become a part of it, and they find the Joker. One of the ways they find the Joker is through eavesdropping. I mean the parallels here of what's going on is to me stunning.

MARCIANO: You know, you're not the only one. This kind of got started with an op-ed piece in the "Wall Street Journal" by mystery writer Andrew Klavan. Let's read what he said. He said "The Dark Knight" is at some level praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like Bush, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand."

That said, Glenn and when you think about Hollywood and how much conservatives think that it's just the liberal capital of the world, how could Hollywood and their producers possibly be praising a conservative imagery?

BECK: Oh, I have to tell you, that was the shock. I sat there in the movie theater with my family, I looked at them, and I said I must have missed the message here that America is evil and the terrorists somehow or another was misunderstood. I have no idea how this movie was made. I don't know how else to read this movie though. It's shocking.

One of the great things about it is that Gotham is worth saving, that the people actually do the right thing in the end, and the other thing that - I had a private conversation with President Bush in the Oval office and I'm not really a fan of President Bush. And it was about a year ago. He was talking about the troops and the war on terror and he looked at me and he said, Glenn, I have to tell you something, I am willing to be hated for the next 50 years. I am willing to die as the worst president, ever, because on the war on terror, I know it has to be fought. I know we're dealing with evil here. You know what? It's exactly the message that Batman carries. You know what? I'm going to be "The Dark Knight," I'll be the guy who cleans it up because somebody has to, because the red tape and all the rules - and this is the movie - all the rules are going to get us all killed.

MARCIANO: Interesting perspective there. They're forecasting "Batman" to be number two second only to Titanic.

BECK: Yes.

MARCIANO: This extra buzz we've created maybe we'll send more people to the movie theatre.

BECK: Yes. It's actually satisfying to be right on Hollywood. Maybe you should write something where the good guy is the good guy and the bad guy is the bad guy and the good guy wins in the end. That's what America wants to see.

MARCIANO: Glenn, always good to see you, my friend.

BECK: Thanks a lot.

MARCIANO: Glenn Beck for us -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, President Bush expressing "deep concerns" about human rights in China ahead of his Olympic trip to Beijing. Right now he's in Bangkok and where later today he'll be giving a speech, being billed as a major policy speech on Asia.

And U.S. and its European allies will discussing whether to push for more sanctions against Tehran today for refusing to stop its disputed nuclear program. The talks come one day after Tehran responded to an incentive package to shut down its nuclear work but failed to address the security council's concern.

And the Government Accountability Office said that Iraq could end the year with a $79 billion surplus. That's because of booming oil revenues and a lack of money spent on rebuilding the country. Members of Congress calling the situation "inexcusable."

Barack Obama's Muslim outreach adviser has resigned. According to the "Wall Street Journal" he stepped down after questions about his involvement in a number of Islamic groups and an Islamic investment fund. Now the now-former adviser says did he not want to become a distraction in the campaign.

Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2013 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.