Return to Transcripts main page


Russia Attacks Georgia; U.S. Condemns Invasion of Georgia; DNC Announces Headliners; The Buzz on McCain's Possible VP; Cancer Vaccine Scare on Gardasil for Reported Severe Side Effects; John Edwards' Scandal Leaves Some Supporters Betrayed

Aired August 11, 2008 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Dozens of people went on a rampage burning cars, blowing up propane tanks and looting after a deadly police shooting there. When firefighters showed up, rioters threw rocks at them. Two police officers were hurt. One was reportedly shot in the leg.
Some good news on the economy to bring you this morning. Gas prices continue to go down. AAA says the national average for a gallon of regular has now dropped to $3.81. It is the 25th decrease in a row. We are now more than 30 cents lower than the record that was set in mid-July.

Also breaking right now, world leaders tried to stop a war from expanding between Russia and a strong U.S. ally. Georgia's pro-U.S. president Mikheil Saakashvili signed a ceasefire offer this morning. And he says the current European Union president, Nicolas Sarkozy, it's also France's president, will visit the Russian and Georgian capitals to try to end the fighting.

This after President Saakashvili cut short a conference call with reporters this morning because, he said, Russian warplanes were buzzing his palace.

CNN's worldwide resources have every angle covered this morning. Our Matthew Chance is live inside Georgia. Barbara Starr is standing by with reaction from the Pentagon.

First, let's go to Matthew Chance. He is in Gori, Georgia, this morning, which is about 20 miles away from the capital of Ossetia, Tskhinvali. Was the situation there on the ground this morning, Matthew, because that has been the scene of some heavy military action?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly has and there's a lot of military activity taking place here in the town of Gori over the course of this day. It's been the target of repeated air strikes by Russian warplanes. They've attacked apartment buildings, military installations here causing a great deal of casualties. In fact, the hospital we just visited a few minutes ago is teeming with people who have been injured. It's also a place where the Georgian armed forces are bringing their injured back from the front lines to be treated, to move on to have long-term care as well.

Again, a lot of military activity in the city of Gori today. According to the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, it was only recently that Georgian forces repelled a grand attack by Russian forces towards this town. Apparently they got within three miles or so of Gori before turning back.

For their part, the Russians say they didn't do anything of the sort so we're getting conflicting information. What we do know is that there are artillery barrages continuing a short distance from here in the territory of South Ossetia where even though there's a ceasefire declared by the Georgian forces, there's still very much, you know, kind of fighting going on between the two sides. And so, it's a very difficult, unstable situation in Gori at the moment -- John.

ROBERTS: Matthew Chance for us this morning live from the Georgian city of Gori. Matthew, thanks very much.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, continuing now with this story. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reportedly furious that the U.S. is transporting Georgian troops from Iraq in U.S. planes. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us now with more. Hi, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, those U.S. military fights are continuing about half of the 2,000 Georgian troops in Iraq, now back courtesy of U.S. military C-17 flights. The rest of them due back over the next day or so. The U.S. military says it will continue those flights, and Vladimir Putin might find himself even more annoyed at the U.S. military in the coming days because now sources at the U.S./European command confirm to CNN they are conducting a humanitarian assessment of the situation on the ground in Georgia, and that could lead to more U.S. military or U.S. flights into Georgia carrying humanitarian relief supplies.

The diplomacy also ramping up, of course, sharp words on either side. Yesterday at the United Nations, the U.S. ambassador was about as pointed as you can get in this type of situation.


ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I have to take the floor again, but I want to restate my question to Ambassador Churkin. He did not respond to that question. Is the goal of the Russian federation to change the leadership of Georgia?


STARR: On that question, the U.S. goal absolutely now to get a ceasefire into place and get some stability back into this very troubled area -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Wow. All right. A lot going on. Developments are happening throughout the morning. We'll keep everyone posted on this. Barbara Starr, thank you.

ROBERTS: To the "Most Politics in the Morning" now. The Democrat National Convention has announced its headliners. Michelle Obama will be the main event on Monday, and the Democrats made official what our CNN team reported last month that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will speak on Tuesday night in prime time. That's the night before the still unknown running mate is scheduled to speak.

Vice presidential buzz on the Republican side, Senator John McCain is campaigning through Pennsylvania today with former governor and the first-ever Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge. He could help carry a critical state this November.

Our Ed Henry talked with voters in another tossup state. They had some different ideas about who should fill out the ticket, and Ed joins us now this morning from Washington. Good morning, Ed.

ED HENRY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. I was in Ohio. We hear a lot about what pundits in Washington think about who John McCain should select as his running mate. I decided to ask some Republican voters.

They were very blunt. They have a clear front running choice that they want, but they also have a wild card.


HENRY (voice-over): Hard core Republicans in a key battleground state fired up to see John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we can win in November if we can carry Ohio.

HENRY: But these voters are on edge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When are you going to announce who your running mate is?

HENRY: Republicans told us they're fretting that with the race this close McCain may have trouble getting conservatives to the polls, so the VP choice may be crucial.

HENRY: Anyone wants to talk about McCain's VP?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney because we need a conservative. McCain is not conservative enough.

HENRY: Support for the former Massachusetts governor was overwhelming.


HENRY: They were just talking about that.


HENRY: Why Mitt Romney?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I think -- look at his business acumen. McCain's no businessman. If somebody -- HENRY: All these people agree?


HENRY: So you're all Romney fans or --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think he's good in economics. That's what John McCain needs. The only thing he's lacking.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Mitt Romney would be the best bet.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, yes, absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he's a little more conservative on family values.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. Exactly.

HENRY: What about the governor of Minnesota? His support in this crowd can be boiled down to a gesture.

HENRY: What about Tim Pawlenty?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't know him.

HENRY: What about Tim Pawlenty? He kind of talks about being a reformer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know anything about him.

HENRY: Some Republicans said they'd be open to Pawlenty if McCain unveiled him with a strong sales pitch. But others are hoping for a wild card.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For vice president.

HENRY: For vice president, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a woman. She's an African-American and she's smart. She's very intelligent

HENRY: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She already said no but if he gently twists her arm, she would say yes.


HENRY: Republican voters believe that Condoleezza Rice would cut into Barack Obama's support among women and African-American voters. They also like her national security credentials, but, of course, that experience came with a very unpopular president that John McCain is now trying to separate himself from. And the other problem, of course, Condi Rice keeps saying she does not want the job, John.

ROBERTS: Yes. She says she wants to go back and teach and write as well. But back to Romney for a second, you've got favorable response to him in Ohio, but could he not also help John McCain in Michigan?

HENRY: Absolutely. Our favorite son, candidacy, he won in the Republican primary. His father was a governor of Michigan. John McCain himself did well in Michigan in 2000, and that's a state that's gone to the Democrats for the last few election cycles. So if you brought Romney on and he could deliver Michigan that could help in other Midwestern states potentially as well. That would be a very big deal.

But the other question on the flip side is we saw in the Republican primaries there was not a lot of chemistry, not a lot of love between Romney and McCain. Quite the contrary. As you know, sometimes that's a big factor. So ultimately that's going to be a gut check among John McCain.

On paper, Mitt Romney might be the best selection but ultimately it's going to have to be whether John McCain feels comfortable with him or not, John.

ROBERTS: Well, there wasn't a lot of chemistry between Kennedy and Johnson either but they managed to win.

HENRY: That's right.

ROBERTS: So we'll see.

HENRY: They did.

ROBERTS: Ed Henry, thanks very much.

HENRY: Thank you.

CHETRY: Caught on tape, a deadly ball of fire that forced thousands out of their homes. There is a shot of it right now. Two propane explosions killing a firefighter, injuring a plant worker.

This happened in Toronto yesterday. Some residents are now coming home this morning after officials said that the fumes from the fire are not toxic. At least five homes though were heavily damaged.

And here's what we're working on for you this morning. Extreme weather in the Atlantic. Our Rob Marciano tracking three storms right now. He has the latest forecast for us straight ahead.

ROBERTS: A teenager full of life ends up with a life full of pain. Parents blame a vaccine that is supposed to prevent a type of cancer. The grave concerns that your teen daughter needs to know about in a special investigations unit report.

CHETRY: Also an extra day on the weekend. How about that? Sounds pretty good, right? Well, we'll take you to one college in Florida that cut down to a four-day week and we'll show you how it's helping both students and faculty save money. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Almost 12 minutes after the hour. We have to find a new name for Ali.


ROBERTS: He's no longer the hairless prophet of doom.

VELSHI: And in fact, last Monday -- last Wednesday when I came back from vacation I wasn't even hairless. I had a little beard.

ROBERTS: I heard about that.

CHETRY: You missed it.

VELSHI: No hairless --

ROBERTS: He sent me an e-mail saying I came back with a goatee. And he said the boss is going to love that.


CHETRY: Exactly.

VELSHI: Dead on.

CHETRY: You said I'm not shaving it until oil goes up again or --

VELSHI: The boss...

CHETRY: Right.

VELSHI: ... tells me it comes of.

CHETRY: And then five hours later it was gone.

ROBERTS: And in fact, I'm surprised it took that long.

VELSHI: Perfect segment (ph) to what I'm doing right now, because the reason I've got this barrel of green numbers on it is because oil has been going down. $115.20 is where it settled on Friday evening. It's been up a little higher than that, and that's part of because of the problems between Russia and Georgia. There's been a pipeline damage in Georgia, and that's an important pipeline for the west.

The bottom line is, we're still around $116 which is substantially lower than $120, $125, $130 and $135. And the markets are liking that because they feel if oil is generally edging lower, by the way, gas prices down for the 25th day in a row to about $3.81 gallon. That's the national average. If these prices are lower people will have more money to spend in the rest of the economy.

And look what stocks did on Friday as a result of that. We saw a 2.7 percent gain in the Dow, 2.5 percent in the Nasdaq. 2.4 percent in the S&P 500.

Numbers like that are fairly significant. We don't bring you the actual point number right now because it's hard to make sense of what that means. But, I mean, if you imagine 2.5 percent on a daily basis that's a big gain.

Now the dollar is also strengthening. That typically happens when oil prices go down. Look at what you need to buy a euro -- $1.51. $1.92 to buy a pound, and only 94 cents to buy a Canadian dollar.

So at the moment we're looking at futures for the markets that are a little bit higher even though we had a very rough night in Chinese stocks. But, again, Chinese stocks are hard to calculate right now because of everything that's going on in China. Hard to know whether that's euphoric trading or selling off. Bottom line is we got a strong day on the market.

ROBERTS: So how long did the goatee last?

VELSHI: A day.


VELSHI: One day, yes.

CHETRY: He carried -- he carried a little portable shave lube in his pocket.


CHETRY: Just in case the boss called he could shave on set.

VELSHI: It had to come off.

ROBERTS: I remember a little more than a year ago, Chad Myers came back from a fishing trip with a goatee. It lasted one appearance.


ROBERTS: It was gone.

CHETRY: The next time he showed up on our air --

VELSHI: Just like the rodeo ride, I lasted a little longer than Chad did.

ROBERTS: You did. Yes, you did. You did your 10 seconds.

VELSHI: That's it. That's it.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: All right.

CHETRY: Well, John Edwards caught in scandal and now former backers are feeling betrayed. We're going to find out why some say that the cover-up is much worse than the crime.

ROBERTS: Plus, defying age limits at the Olympics. 41-year-old Dara Torres wins her ninth Olympic medal.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at how she stays in world class shape.

But first, our Rob Marciano tracking extreme weather this morning. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. We're watching the storms that rolled through the northeast big time last night. We've got heavy storms in Oklahoma with some flooding and several disturbances that could become tropical storms in the Atlantic. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Well, there are three disturbances now churning in the open Atlantic this morning, and our Rob Marciano is watching the latest tracks right now to let us know we're getting into the heart of the hurricane season.


CHETRY: So you got to keep an eye out there.

MARCIANO: We certainly do. And luckily for these, we've got some time to play with them like the last storm that fired up in the Gulf of Mexico. These are well out in the Atlantic but pretty strong.

One, two, three, actually. These two kind of combined and this one, if anything, looks to be a little bit more potent than the one that's closer. But because this one is closer and looked really good yesterday, the National Hurricane Center is starting to fire up to throw done some computer models with this.

So they got a tropical cyclone alert report. They give it better than a 50 percent chance of it becoming a depression at least in the next couple of days, and some of the computer models bring it towards the Bahamas by this weekend. So it's certainly something we'll watch -- we're watching very, very closely.

East of Oklahoma City we've got showers and thunderstorms that have dumped four and five inches of rainfall in that area. More heavy rain expected there today. Some thunderstorms firing east of the northern Rockies as well, and then the big story, of course, the cool down across the northeast feeling more like the middle and latter part of September than the middle part of August; 76 degrees, the expected high temperature in New York City. 69 in Boston, right out to parks (ph). John and Kiran, back up to you.

ROBERTS: Nice break though from the heat that we've been experiencing, Rob.

MARCIANO: Yes, for sure.

ROBERTS: Thanks so much.

No work or school on Friday. Find out how the four-day workweek is saving one school time and money. Kicks off our weeklong series.

CHETRY: A mandatory vaccine that some say could be deadly.


MATIA WHITE, MOTHER: She's never been sick. She's never been in the hospital. Nothing.


CHETRY: A special investigation of a vaccine that could be making young girls sick.




CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Major concerns about a vaccine given to many teen girls this morning. Even though it could save them from cancer, parents say that the side effects of it may not be worth it. CNN specials investigations unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau is here with more on all of this.

Good morning, Abbie.


So many people are so confused when it comes to the widely distributed HPV vaccine called Gardasil, which the Centers for Disease Control says helps prevent certain types of cervical cancer. But since Gardasil hit the market two and a half years ago, there's been an alarming number of serious adverse reactions and even deaths that some say are linked to the vaccine.

As more girls come forward alleging the vaccine made them sick, the more confusion and mystery there is surrounding Gardasil and its manufacturer, Merck. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Taquaria Williams doesn't get to act like a kid anymore. She's just too tired.


BOUDREAU: But Taquaria's mother says everything changed last September after her daughter received Gardasil, a vaccine that prevents 70 percent of cervical cancer.

MATIA WHITE, MOTHER: She's never been sick. She's never been in the hospital. Nothing. Until the Gardasil shot.

BOUDREAU: Two months after getting the shot, Taquaria says she got a rash on her face and arms leaving these scars. She had swelling all over, pain in her joints and poor circulation in her fingertips. Her doctor told us she now suffers from an autoimmune disease and says it is possible the Gardasil triggered her illness, though she made it clear the cause cannot be proven.

According to a federal tracking system called VAERS, there have been 9,749 adverse reactions following the vaccination and 21 reported deaths since 2006.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I chose to get my daughter vaccinated.

BOUDREAU: But Merck, Gardasil's maker, points out these are anecdotal cases. In a statement, company official says it "does not necessarily mean that the vaccine caused or contributed to the event."

An official with the Centers for Disease Control says VAERS does not provide enough information for researchers to prove whether Gardasil caused any of the reported side effects.

DR. JOHN ISKANDER, ACTING IMMUNIZATION SAFETY DIRECTOR: We want to have better data to reassure people but, again, the patterns and number of serious events looked at in VAERS do not suggest any increase in risk.

BOUDREAU: Well, the CDC believes Gardasil is safe. A conservative watchdog called Judicial Watch, which has been studying Gardasil's safety, says parents' concerns about the vaccine are valid.

CHRIS FARRELL, JUDICIAL WATCH: So without long-term studies and without a safety test, essentially the public is being used as a large-scale public health test.

BOUDREAU: What would have happened if you would have known that this research was out there?

WHITE: I would have never gotten it. Never. I would have never had her get the shot.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BOUDREAU: The CDC tells us it's working on a comprehensive study right now that will determine whether or not there is a pattern that links Gardasil to some of these serious side effects. That study is expected to be released in October.

In the meantime, John, both the CDC and Merck encourage women to get regular pap smears even if they've gotten the Gardasil shot -- John.

ROBERTS: You know, Abbie, we have heard in the past about potential links between certain vaccines and autism. And there was one case that was decided by a court that found that the vaccine triggered an underlying condition. Could that be the sort of case here with this vaccine that maybe if it didn't actually cause the disease, it triggered an underlying condition to manifest itself?

BOUDREAU: It's so hard to know the answer to that, and I think that's why the CDC is looking into this and this soon will have their comprehensive study that's going to be out this October. In the young girl's case that we talked to this time, the doctor that we talked to over the phone said it very well could have triggered her autoimmune disease but there's just no way to really prove that.

ROBERTS: Wow. Troubling story. Abbie Boudreau for us with that this morning. Abbie, thanks so much.

BOUDREAU: Thank you.

CHETRY: And still ahead some incredible video to show you from a summer hailstorm. It's from one of our I-reporters in New Jersey. Check it out.

He said that hail the size of bottle caps fell for about 30 minutes. We'll show you a little bit more of that.

Also the postal service tried to go green, but it hit the skids. We're going to find out why one fuel efficiency plan is basically a bust.


ROBERTS: John Edwards stunned many of his supporters on Friday by revealing that he had an extramarital affair. The admission tarnished his reputation as a family man, but did it change the way his loyal backers feel about him?

I'm joined now by the former Edwards campaign Iowa caucus chairman, Rob Tully. He's live in Des Moines this morning.

Rob, it's good to see you. Thanks very much for being with us. You know, everybody heard all of the rumors. Many people were giving him the benefit of the doubt. How surprised were you when he came forward on Friday to say at least part of this is true?

ROB TULLY, EDWARDS' IOWA CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: Well, I think the first reaction is as many of us here in Iowa, and I'm sure supporters all across the country, were disappointed. We're disappointed that John was not truthful about that. But the one thing, John, you know, that I try to remind my fellow supporters here is that, hey, you know, the one thing that we always talk about is the fact that we try to lift everybody up in terms of our politicians and make them bigger than they are, and they're only human and humans make mistakes.

ROBERTS: Yes, and certainly there are plenty of presidential candidates, plenty of members of Congress, plenty of sitting presidents who have been in a similar position. But here's what critics were really upset about, that he knew about this. He knew it could be a problem. He lied about it.

Had he have won the nomination, he would have left himself open to a massive October surprise that could have handed the White House again to the Republicans. What do you think about that whole aspect then?

TULLY: Well, the interesting that's the what if game and it's a silly one that played because he is not the nominee. Obama is the nominee.

ROBERTS: I know, but why is it silly? I mean, he was running to be the nominee?

TULLY: I understand that but what we're doing now is trying to beat him up even more over a mistake that he made and the fact that he's not the nominee should at least put this in some perspective.

ROBERTS: Right. What about this idea that payments were made to her for work that she did for the campaign? Does that cross an ethical line there?

TULLY: Well, here's what I will tell you. You know, she provided, you know, video services or whatever for the blog every day. And, you know, as you may remember, because, John, you actually interviewed me when I was chair of the party back in 2000, I ran for Congress 10 years ago and trust me, the only two people that I knew what their salary was was my campaign manager and my fund-raiser and for the literally dozens and dozens of people on my salary, I had no idea what they were making. My job was to raise money to pay for everything.

ROBERTS: Right. So you believe him when he says that she wasn't paid as a result of my relationship with him?

TULLY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, you know, the reality is we had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people on the payroll. I don't know how you keep track on all that.

ROBERTS: So one big question out there, Rob, is, where does this leave him in terms of politics? He was asked by Bob Woodruff on "Nightline" what he thought about that.

Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN EDWARDS (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think - I see no end. I don't think anything would end it. My lord and my wife have forgiven me so I'm going to move on.


ROBERTS: He says he doesn't think anything will end it. But let's listen to what his former campaign manager David Bonior said.

He says "thousands of friends of the senator's and his supporters have put their faith and confidence in him and he's let them down. You can't lie in politics and expect to have people's confidence." David Bonior suggesting that his political career is over. What do you think?

TULLY: Well, first of all, let me say, you know, I have a great deal of respect to David Bonior but I thought David was a little tough. And let me say this, you know, I learned in my family growing up that when family members and friends make mistakes and they do something bad, we don't push them out the door and lock the door behind them. We do what we should do and that is start by forgiving them and reminding them that they're still our friends. They're still our loved ones and we still love them.

And you know, one of the things that I always tell people is that it's amazing what an individual can do when they're surrounded by friends and family that love them but in this case forgive them. Good things can still come from that. What will happen? Time will tell as it relates to the voters here certainly in Iowa but more importantly in the country.

ROBERTS: Rob Tully from Des Moines, this morning. Rob, it's good to see you again. Thanks for checking in with us.

TULLY: You bet.

CHETRY: It is 31 minutes past the hour now. We check the top stories breaking right now. Georgia's pro-U.S. president signing a ceasefire offer this morning after days of bombing by Russian warplanes. And he says the current E.U. president will visit the Russian and Georgian capital to try to help end the fighting. This after Russia issued an ultimatum to Georgia to disarm or face the consequences.

'70s soul icon Isaac Hayes has died. He was just ten days away from his 66th birthday. He's perhaps best known for a hit from 1971, the theme from "Shaft." Hayes won an Academy Award for best original song and two Grammy awards for his music for the film. 25 years later another generation knew him as the voice of Chef on "South Park."

And happening now, an impeachment battle getting intense in Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf's spokesman says that he will not step down. State department correspondent Zain Verjee joins us now. Zain, the coalition government in Pakistan is starting this impeachment process today. Is it going to go through? ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it might. I mean, it could be dragged out for weeks but the sense that we're getting from speaking to people in the region is essentially that this could be it for Pervez Musharraf, the pressure on him to go is really rising.

Kiran, Musharraf, though, does have a few options. He could try and block a two-thirds majority that's needed to remove him but the momentum is against him for that. He could also just resign and avoid humiliation. That's what most people want him to do. He could also, though, use his powers as president to dismiss the government, just fire the Prime Minister and call new elections. But that's pretty unlikely. The U.S., Kiran, is not going to support that and critically the Pakistani Army is unlikely to back it. Kiran.

CHETRY: Why is the or why does the U.S. worry right now this could trigger chaos?

VERJEE: Yes, it really is concerned. The big fear is that any political chaos is a distraction from the number one priority for the U.S. and that's the war on terror. The U.S., Kiran, has been backing, bracing rather for Musharraf's exit for a long time now. Washington's been reaching out to other political leaders. They know that it's no longer just the one-man approach. They need to cultivate relationships with the new players. The U.S. plan, from what we're hearing at the state department, is just to let this all play out. U.S. officials have acknowledged to us that they don't really have a lot of influence in Pakistan right now and they worry the country could be thrown into a political crisis with the showdown looming. Kiran.

CHETRY: Zain Verjee for us in Washington this morning. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Well, it is Monday morning, just five days until the weekend unless, of course, Thursday is actually your Friday and then there's only four. All this week we're looking at businesses who are cutting their work weeks to four days. Our John Zarrella kicks off this special series at a college in Florida.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): John, Kiran, I'm at the Brevard Community College where saving energy means cutting more than just hair.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Brooke Stile is about to graduate cosmetology school.

BROOKE STILE, STUDENT: The fact I have that day, that one day, is just so much nicer and I don't have to drive all the way to Coco.

BETTY BLASCHAK, COSMETOLOGY PROFESSOR: We seem to be able to get more done.

ZARRELLA: Betty Blaschak teaches the art of a good cut.

BLASCHAK: It's a great thing for me because I became a full-time faculty.

ZARRELLA: Brooke saves gas money. Betty got a job because facing cuts in state funding at the Brevard Community College went to a four-day workweek last summer. 4 1/2 days in the fall and spring.

JAMES DRAKE, PRES., BREVARD COMMUNITY COLLEGE: It's a challenge but the savings and the improvement in overall morale is certainly worth the investment.

ZARRELLA: By simply turning down air conditioning and heating systems on Fridays and giving employees the day off, BCC says they saved $267,000 in one year. And brought unexpected results.

MILLI TORRES, ENROLLMENT SERVICES: Now, did you sign and see the adviser there or over here.


ZARRELLA: Mili Torres runs enrollment services.

TORRES: Well, absenteeism has almost gone away in my department.

ZARRELLA: No kidding.

According to college officials, staff turnover is down 44 percent. Employment applications are up 50 percent. With the money saved they hired ten new full-time faculty positions including Betty over in cosmetology. And it's not as though the gates are locked on Fridays. Jay Bottesch still comes in using the down day for research and conferences.

JAY BOTTESCH, BIOLOGY PROFESSOR: Coming in, that gives you time to meet with the students.

ZARRELLA: For students, Fridays off means less money spent on gas, time to work an outside job and, of course another day to study. Yes, sure.


ZARRELLA (on-camera): The bottom line, while they're trimming the budget they are at the same time improving morale and increasing productivity. John. Kiran.

ROBERTS: Now, here's the question. Did he pay for the haircut?

CHETRY: I have many other questions, too, but we don't have time. You know, in college we made our own four-day school week. You try to get all your classes -

ROBERTS: Yes, get your schedule so you have no classes on Friday.

CHETRY: Yes. So that Friday's a little bit of a break. We could never do that on this show.

ROBERTS: I think a four-day work week -

CHETRY: The news must go on.

ROBERTS: A four-day workweek would be great. Isn't? Cancel the news on Friday.

CHETRY: Friday will be the best of show.

ROBERTS: I don't think that will happen.

CHETRY: Well, still ahead. Uncle Sam wants to go green when delivering the mail so they got some fuel efficient cars. Well, now the program has hit the skids. We'll find out why.

ROBERTS: And the amazing Dara Torres wins a silver medal at the Olympics at 41 years old. We'll show you how she stays in shape to beat women half her age.

You're watching the most news in the morning.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Getting your bills to your mailbox takes a lot of gas. The Postal Service trying to go green but it's not exactly easy. Jason Carroll joins us now with the story.

They had this great plan that was supposed to work perfectly. It didn't quite happen.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Great plan. Here's the case, the Postal Service was trying to do the right thing. What they discovered is they were doing it with the wrong type of fuel.


CARROLL (voice-over): The U.S. Postal Service hoped to take the lead on delivering mail in a more fuel-efficient way, betting its fleet that Flex fuel would do it. They run on a mixture of ethanol and gasoline but the road to success has been a rocky one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The infrastructure For ethanol is not available everywhere, for example New York metro area, you cannot buy ethanol anywhere.

CARROLL: That's just one of the problems the Postal Service found as it did a study which showed only a fraction of the 36,000 vehicles in the flex fuel fleet are actually using ethanol. Carriers like Richard () have never used it. Has there ever been a time when you thought, let me at least look for a place there might be some ethanol around here? And had been unable to find --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never bothered to do that, no.

CARROLL: Not only is it hard to find, the Postal Service study showed their flex fuel vehicles got as much as 29 percent fewer miles to the gallon. So how did it happen the Postal Service invested in something that clearly is not working? Back in 1992 the federal government mandated 75 percent of its agencies' new vehicles run on alternative fuels. The flex fuel vehicles seemed to be the best choice as they were cost efficient. They did not turn out to be fuel efficient.

LESLIE PAIGE, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: It's driving costs up everywhere in the country and the Postal Service is now seeing that as well and they should be allowed to get rid of these vehicles if they need to.

CARROLL: Texas Governor Rick Perry has been working to get the federal government to reduce its dependence on ethanol fuel.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: The ethanol program looked like a good idea and the bottom line is it's turned out to be an absolute boondoggle.

CARROLL: Despite criticism, the Postal Service sees a future where ethanol can work and says it should not be abandoned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see the trend from the automaker. We see the trend from the ethanol producer that we see the trend will lead to where we can break even or even save money with ethanol fuel.

CARROLL: when asked if ethanol should be reconsidered as part of energy policy, the Department of Energy says "looking towards the future we must have a diverse array of cost competitive technology and sources to overcome our addiction to oil."


CARROLL: And since the early '90s, the Postal Service has tested vehicles run on other alternative fuels like biodiesel and electricity. The Postal service decided to delay the purchase of more alternative fuel vehicles until 2013 when they expect better options to be available for them out there on the market.

CHETRY: Yes, it was a chance they took when they tried this years ago but, yes, hopefully in the future the technology will be better.

CARROLL: I think it will.

CHETRY: Thanks, Jason.

CARROLL: All right.

ROBERTS: 17 minutes now to the top of the hour. Rob Marciano is coming up in just a couple of minutes with the extreme weather forecast. He's here with an early look. What have you got, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Rough weather moving northeast across last night and dramatically cooler. We'll talk tropics and extreme weather across the central plains as well. Well, you're watching the most news in the morning. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Just listen to that for a second. These are i-reports being sent to us and this one comes to us from David Goldstein of Manahawkin, New Jersey. He said that temperatures plummeted 25 degrees over the weekend and hailstones the size of bottle caps pelted down for about 30 minutes.

ROBERTS: Now, I see your hailstones and (inaudible) using floating cars. Take a look at this. Check out this flooding that comes from New Brunswick in Canada, specifically Moncton, New Brunswick. Ray Richard took pictures of cars literally floating through a traffic circle. He said, the roads flood like this every time there's a really heavy rain.

CHETRY: Some of those cars are pretty unusual looking as well.

ROBERTS: Note to the local authorities, do something about the drainage.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly. Well, Rob Marciano is tracking all of this wacky weather for us. We know it was strange this weekend especially in parts of the northeast. How about now?

MARCIANO: A little bit quieter but definitely cool. You got that cool shot of air coming with a lot of heat and humidity that was building up over the weekend. So, we had the explosive storms. For the most part they are offshore, still some swirl of showers through upstate New York. We shouldn't be too severe but you notice, they're all kind of spiraling around this area so the cool air is going to remain in place probably for a good couple of days. It's not going to be one and done day here.

You'll see several days of below average temperatures. The showers off the Carolina coastline are moving out to sea and Shawnee. Just east of Oklahoma City, five inches of rain there falling a short period of time. And some local law enforcement officials saying they've got problems there and there's definitely some flooding happening right now with a number of roads closed. A sliver of heavy rain will be driving down into Arkansas over the next 48 hours. Six to eight inches of rainfall expected there and we'll look for flooding in that spot. We'll look for tropical storm formation as well.

The National Hurricane Center saying at least a 50 percent chance of this disturbance east of the Caribbean will develop into something over the next couple of days. We'll watch it very carefully as it heads towards the east coast. That's the latest from the weather department. Back to you.


CHETRY (voice-over): Skid row scam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These folks felt no one would complain because they were homeless individuals. They were dead wrong.

CHETRY: The hospital owner charged with recruiting homeless people and using them to ring up bogus bills.

You're watching the most news in the morning



CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. For Olympic swimmer Dara Torres just making it to the Olympics at age 41 is quite an accomplishment. Well now, she's got a silver medal. It's the 10th medal of her career, making her comeback even more incredible. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on how Torres stays in such great shape.


DARA TORRES, 41-YEAR-OLD OLYMPIAN: It doesn't really matter how old are you.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: In a sport where the average age of national championship competitors is just 20 years old, Torres is shattering the odds.

TORRES: I kind of forget that sometimes I'm so much older than them. But the minute I'm on the block I feel like I'm their age.

GUPTA: And she's taking regular blood and urine tests to answer any suspicions of doping. So far she's clean. Her Olympic career began 24 years ago. Over the years she's battled bulimia, knee surgery and bone spurs. So how is she still dominating? Her height, long arms, big hands, exercise physiologist says she has the perfect swimmer's genes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Genetics does play a role. Talking about one percent or less of the population that has that genotype.

GUPTA: But good genetics aren't enough. Her training regimen is custom tailored for her age.

TORRES: My body is a 41-year-old body, and I just can't get in the pool nine times a week. The biggest obstacle I have is recovery. It's about allowing my body to recover so I can come back the next day and perform at a high level.

GUPTA: She swims five times a week, often with her daughter looking on. Her team includes coaches, a chiropractor, masseurs, stretchers who use their feet and hands to knead her limbs. She calls resistance stretching her secret weapon. Muscles are contracted and stretched at the same time to increase flexibility and power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dara is definitely working smarter. A sprinter has to be smart.

GUPTA: Which is why the 50-meter freestyle a race that can be as quick as 25 seconds, may be best suited for someone in their 40s. Longer races may be tougher with age as endurance tends to decrease. TORRES: I'm proving that you can be 41 and you can follow your dreams and age is just a number.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, New York.


ROBERTS (voice-over); The Edwards' affair. Today, the potential political fallout for the man he endorsed and the unanswered question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to comment on why you were at this hotel tonight with your mistress and your love child?

ROBERTS: And fuel. Inside fruit.


ROBERTS: The energy hunt leads us to a tree.



ROBERTS: 54 minutes after the hour. Time to fast-forward now to what will be making news later on today. At 2:30 p.m. Eastern, the hearing for an alleged Al Qaeda suspect recently captured in Afghanistan and taken to New York. Aidfa (ph) Siddiqy, an M.I.T. educated mother of three faces attempted murder and assault charges after officials say she tried to shoot American officers while in custody.

Wall Street hoping to extend the record 300-point rebound from Friday. This week, investors will be focusing on a number of retail reports including Wal-Mart and Macy's.

And today is the deadline for Delta and Northwest pilots to vote on an agreement that would boost wages by 18 percent over the next four years. Union leaders for both airlines are urging pilots to vote yes on the deal.

And that's what's coming up later today. Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, homeless people plucked from the streets and forced to undergo unnecessary medical treatment. That's what some Los Angeles hospitals are accused of this morning in a sweeping federal investigation. As Kara Finnstrom tells us this plot allegedly scammed millions of dollars from the government.


KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three L.A. area hospitals are raided. A hospital owner and a clinic recruiter arrested, slapped with a 21-count federal indictments and authorities say it's just the beginning.

THOMAS O'BRIEN, U.S. ATTORNEY: a scheme that ranged from street- level operatives to the chief executive of a hospital.

FINNSTROM: This police videotape started it all. Ambulances caught returning five homeless patients to Skid Row. Authorities say they are some of the hundred, possibly thousands, of homeless recruits allegedly offered about $20 and a warm bed to undergo bogus medical treatment.

O'BRIEN: They basically take these individuals, determine whether they were qualified for medical or Medicare, given false diagnoses. These individuals might have ailments but the diagnosis they received was actually false.

FINNSTROM: L.A. City attorney has also filed a civil lawsuit against the hospitals and others. He says some homeless patients treated there were harmed.

O'BRIEN: Recruit X was diagnosed falsely with cardio-pulmonary disease. She goes to the hospital, she gets a nitroglycerin patch on her chest, her blood pressure dropped so low that here life is in peril.

FINNSTROM: All of this comes on the heels of a separate investigation last year that revealed other hospitals dumped homeless patients who may have been uninsured or inconvenient on skid row. The charges here, the exact opposite. But with one common denominator.

O'BRIEN: I think these folks felt that no one would complain, because they were homeless individuals. Well, they were dead wrong.

FINNSTROM: CNN did contact officials with all three hospitals and the clinic to get their responses. They issued statements saying they are continuing to cooperate with authorities. Pacific Health Corporation which owns two of the hospitals, also says it believes it will be cleared of any illegal actions.

FINNSTROM (on-camera): We've been unable to reach anyone with the clinic to get their response to charges. Kara Finnstrom, for CNN, Los Angeles.


ROBERTS: Breaking this morning, violence escalating in the Russia-Georgia conflict. Russia says it has taken control of the breakaway Republic of South Ossetia, as Georgia rejects an ultimatum, forces surrender or face troops trips in another breakaway province of Abhazia. Georgia's president Mikheil Saarkashvili says he signed a ceasefire pledge that was delivered by the E.U., European Union, and is asking Russia to do the same.

New this morning, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is promising Japan that the United states will not take North Korea off its terrorist list prematurely. The move could have happened today as a result of North Korea's nuclear disclosure back in June. But Japan's foreign minister emphasized that North Korea still has not specified how its weapons would be dismantled and is seeking an investigation into North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese citizens. The American woman stabbed in an attack at the Beijing Olympics is improving this morning. The U.S. Olympic committee says Barbara Bachman has been upgraded to stable condition. Her husband Todd was stabbed to death Saturday by a Chinese man who then committed suicide. Todd Bachman was the father-in-law of U.S. men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon.

And turning now to politics and the questions surrounding John Edwards this morning. What could you next for him after admitting to an extramarital affair. CNN's Ed Henry joins us now. Ed, what's the talk among democrats this morning?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. A lot of people wondering whether John Edwards can salvage his political career. You never say never in politics. As you know John, you take a look at Bill Clinton surviving that sex scandal back in 1998, 1999. That was a much different circumstance. You had democrats rallying around the president. They really had no other choice but to try and keep Bill Clinton in office.

In this case the democrats I spoke to all weekend - they're furious at John Edwards for several reasons. First of all, the personal. They can't believe, while obviously, infidelity happens in Washington frequently, they can't believe he did this to Elizabeth Edwards, especially given her own personal struggle with cancer. Secondly, the role of politics. Democrats can't believe that John Edwards was so reckless that he could have become the democratic nominee and right now if this story had come out a couple weeks before his convention, there would have been chaos for the democrats.

And finally, democrats feel that there are a lot of unanswered questions about these payments to the former mistress, payments by an Edwards ally and they're wondering whether he's telling the truth about whether or not this is really his child, John.

ROBERTS: And do they take him at his word on that point when he says, this is all there is, there's nothing else. It was an affair. The child, that's another matter. Somebody else. I'm telling the truth on all of this. He did lie, a long time. Does he expect now people maybe beyond face value to take him at his word?

HENRY: The democratic strategist I spoke to this weekend can't really believe him just yet because of the public denials he's had previously.

And frankly, they're glad that Edwards' advisers are saying that he's not going - not planning to go to the Democratic convention in Denver. These democrats say that would have been a very awkward situation for Barack Obama. They certainly don't want that to drag down the party at the convention -- any of those lingering questions.

And any talk that Edwards could have been on the short list for Vice President, any talk that he could have been the Attorney General in 2009, if Barack Obama won, that's over now, John.

ROBERTS: Ed Henry for us this morning, from Washington with that.

Ed, thanks so much -- Kiran.