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CNN NEWSROOM

Cease-fire in Georgia Uncertain; Hartford Curfew Affects All Teens; Black Paper in Detroit Calls for Kilpatrick Resignation; Spain's Basketball Team Criticized for Pose

Aired August 14, 2008 - 14:00   ET

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


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Pulling out or digging in? Almost a week into the war in Georgia, the comings and goings of Russian troops are open to interpretation, much like the comments of Russian leaders.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Has Detroit had enough of Kwame Kilpatrick? As the mayor appears in court for an felony arraignment, a local black newspaper -- very influential, at that -- hands down, it's giving a stunning verdict on the mayor. We'll hear from the editor.

KEILAR: Ridicule or respect? You decide. The Spanish Olympic basketball team say they meant no offense, only affection, in photos that some consider racist. We'll be focusing on this controversy this hour.

Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Right off the top, a week of roller-coaster tension along the border barely separating Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia. We get reports of Russia's military pullback, then reports they've taken another city. Many of the images we see come from Georgia's state-run television, and we couldn't believe it when we saw this. Check it out.

The television reporter shot in the arm by somebody from somewhere while she was live on camera. She wasn't badly hurt and continued to report live while bleeding. Now this.

All right, well, that's what a gun pointed at your face looks like. It's also from Georgian state television. We're told pro- Russian separatists stole a camera and tried to steal some cars while Russian soldiers stood by and watched. Now, when they saw that they were being videotaped, one of the South Ossetian soldiers fired his gun into the air a few times. You could heard that as I was speaking there. Again, these are details from the TV crews. No word from Russia or either -- of either of these incidents.

KEILAR: Well, we hear at least one city in Georgia is nearly leveled and two others are under Russian control. One of those cities, Gori, will see a Russian troop pull-out in the coming hours. That's according to a Russian general. We've heard no word that any such pull-out has begun, though. The American defense secretary today called Russia's presence in the former Soviet republic of Georgia an aggressive posture and one that will hurt relations between Moscow and Washington for a long time, Secretary Gates adding that he does not predict a need for American forces to intervene in the conflict.

LEMON: And we're hearing the words "utter destruction" today describing South Ossetia's capital city. That's where the fighting erupted just a week ago and where CNN's Matthew Chance is today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have indeed managed to get through to the South Ossetian rebel capital of Tskhinvali. You can see it's a scene of utter devastation as a result of the fierce fighting that has been raging here over the past week or so between Russian and Georgian forces.

Just behind me, two Georgian tanks that were destroyed in the streets by Russian aircraft as Georgian forces advanced into this territory of South Ossetia in a military bid to take control of an area which has really been outside Georgian control almost since just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, Russia forces, Moscow, backed the separatist rebels in South Ossetia. They say, the Russians, as they moved their forces in primarily to force (ph) Russian peacekeeping barracks have come under sustained attacks from Georgian forces, and also that civilian areas were coming under attack, as well.

Now, one of the things we're going to be looking at here in Tskhinvali is the casualties figures that have been claimed by Russians, of course, as close to 2,000 people. But the Georgians say the figure is closer to a couple of hundred. We're going to try and get some clarity on that, also try and speak with some of the people who are still here, the civilians who stayed despite the fighting, and the thousands of Russian soldiers who are now digging in into defensive positions and clearing the ammunition and the twisted carcasses, the twisted metal of tanks and armored personnel carriers that were destroyed during the battle away from the streets of Tskhinvali.

Matthew Chance, CNN, in South Ossetia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: And as Matthew just reported, this fighting is not between troops and tanks on a battlefield. Civilians, more than 100,000, have had to flee their homes. We are live from Tbilisi with Frederick Pleitgen in just a few moments to show you what's being done to help them.

LEMON: We'll look forward to that. Meantime, a hostage situation in Des Moines, Iowa, has ended with the rescue of three young children. After a two-hour standoff with the man believed to be the kids' father, police stormed the house with battering rams and flash-bang grenades. The children are fine. The man has been hospitalized, though. And this whole drama started after the bodies of two women were found near the suspect's house. Police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened.

KEILAR: Keeping kids in to keep them out of trouble. That is the aim of a curfew that starts in about seven hours in Hartford, Connecticut. If you're not 18 and not with a parent or guardian, you can't be on the streets at night.

WTNH reporter Bob Wilson has reaction to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NELLIE STEVENS, HARTFORD: You name it, I've seen it.

BOB WILSON, WTNH REPORTER: Like what?

STEVENS: Shooting, drug dealing. It's all out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drive-bys (INAUDIBLE)

KAMAU AHSTON: I'm staying outside on my porch. When I'm walking to the store, I get shot. That's (INAUDIBLE)

WILSON (voice-over): They're the young faces of Hartford, forced to think about shootings instead of shooting a basketball.

STEVENS: (INAUDIBLE) and there's a lot going on. And young kids should be in the house after 9:00.

WILSON: Most young kids we talked to liked the idea of a curfew after 11 people were shot over the weekend in Hartford neighborhoods. The mayor announcing that starting Thursday night at 9:00 o'clock, officers will be looking for teens loitering. The first time they're stopped, they'll be given a written warning and taken home to their parents. The second time, they'll be charged with a misdemeanor and then taken home again.

KATHY LEWIS, HARTFORD: Anything that you can stop kids from killing kids is a good thing.

LORIN WASHINGTON, HARTFORD: It'll slow things down, but I don't think it'll stop anything.

WILSON (on camera): Now, originally, the mayor came out in a press conference saying all the kids that are rounded up will be taken to detention centers, and from there, their parents will have to pick them up. Now he's saying they'll be picked up and taken home, which the people on the street say is too bad. They want to see the parents get more involved.

MIKE FOTHERGILL, HARTFORD: That's where the strength of the curfew's going to come in, not as much as getting them off the streets as getting the parents back involved, forcing the parents to be back involved.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Reporter Bob Wilson mentioned a shooting over the weekend which sparked this curfew. A reported gang member was killed and six young people, most of them bystanders, were wounded in this. No one's been arrested for that yet.

LEMON: All right, we want to get you back now live to our developing news happening here today in the CNN NEWSROOM. Take a look at this, window washers hanging from the side of a 31-story building high above the ground there. It is sort of -- I don't know, deja vu from yesterday. We were covering the same story happening in Florida.

But these two men -- apparently, the scaffolding or their platform, window washing platform, collapsed under them, gave way and they fell. But luckily, they were wearing these safety harnesses. This is all unfold in downtown Indianapolis. Three people, we're told, at one point were hanging today. I'm only seeing two there, just from the looks of this video. There was a third person who was trying to rescue someone.

The window washing, as we said, the scaffolding collapsed there, hanging near the top of this 31-story building. Just so you know, this is the MNI (ph) building in downtown Indianapolis. No reports of any injuries right now. But as soon as we get more information on this, we're going to keep checking in to tell you about the rescue, exactly what's going on with these workers. Very interesting story and pictures, as well.

Well, despite being plagued by scandal, constituents have stood by Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. He went to court today to face those charges amid indications that his steadfast supporters might be faltering finally.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST Hi, everyone. I'm meteorologist Chad Myers with CNN.com's weather and also for CNN, as well. Rain showers, thunderstorms from what could be and probably will be Tropical Storm Fay. This is going to be a pretty big storm. It could be right off the U.S. East Coast by Sunday into Monday as maybe a Category 1, 2 or now some computer models say even a Category 3 storm. The only good news is most of the models are turning this away from the U.S. before it actually makes Florida landfall. It's way too early to tell whether these computers are right or wrong.

Hurricane Center out there with two planes, a NOAA plane and also a Navy plane out there, as U.S. Air Force plane, out there flying through this thing to see whether it's actually going to turn into something tonight. Right now, it probably still will be a tropical depression this evening if they find anything at all. But by tomorrow, in this very warm water near Puerto Rico and also the British Virgin Islands, certainly could be a tropical storm, the first F-A-Y, it's Tropical Storm Fay. If it turns into that, we'll keep you advised.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK, lately, it just seems like, you know, almost weekly, it is something new here. Years of scandal are finally catching up with Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, allegations of wild parties, sex scandals, political favoritism and now a looming trial on multiple felony counts. Some of the mayor's staunchest defenders are losing faith, though. This week, an editorial in "The Michigan Chronicle" calls for Kilpatrick's resignation. It reads in part, "If his love for Detroit is as strong as he professes, he will make the right decision, which we believe is to step down."

Joining us now from Detroit, Bankole Thompson. He is "The Chronicle's" senior editor.

Why did they call for his resignation?

BANKOLE THOMPSON, "MICHIGAN CHRONICLE": Well, Don, I think "The Chronicle" felt, as an institution in this community that has existed for more than 70 years, covering this community, covering the African- American community in this country, "The Chronicle" felt it was necessary to come out at this point in time because you cannot have a mayor who is in court three to four times a week, and it is time for the mayor step aside.

LEMON: So Mr. Thompson, it's this latest round of court battles that broke the camel's back, is that what you're saying?

THOMPSON: Yes, it is.

LEMON: So some people are saying, What took you so long?

THOMPSON: Well, you know, editorial decisions like this are pretty -- pretty heavy, and you don't just arrive at them just by having a quick meeting, I think, the paper as an institution. And we know the community that we are in, that sometimes, you know, there's a tendency to turn that to race and racism. And this is the largest African-American city in the nation, and so it was important for us, as an African-American paper, given our identity as a black newspaper, to think through this issue because we are looking at -- you know, thinking about black voters here. So it was...

LEMON: It goes beyond Kwame Kilpatrick, you're saying. OK.

THOMPSON: Yes, it goes beyond Kwame Kilpatrick. It goes to the future of the city.

LEMON: Here's -- future of the city, and also race relations and historical context and all that. We get that. But still, I mean, it has been a while that Mayor Kilpatrick has been in hot water here. Who did you consult, though? You said you didn't come at this decision lightly. Who did you consult in the community, heavy hitters, business owners, other politicians, people in the community?

THOMPSON: No, we did not consult anyone. This was exclusively the decision of "The Michigan Chronicle" editorial board, and the business leaders are not part of our editorial board. And so this was an exclusive decision of the paper as an institution, and we did not consult anyone.

And let me say something, Don, I think which is also important. We have stated in our editorial, when we called on the mayor to resign, is that the mayor, like any other individual -- if you were in that position, Don, we would advocate that, you know, you should enjoy the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

LEMON: (INAUDIBLE) proven guilty, yes.

THOMPSON: That's what the rule of law dictates. But at the same time, when your actions or your problems have become a distraction to moving the city, I mean, where you have the city council and the executive branch in a deadlock -- there is no work being done because the council said, We don't no faith in this administration. And the council in itself, let me say, they're also under federal investigation for corruption charges.

LEMON: OK. So we were looking at the video last week and listening to some of the people, some mayor's constituents in Detroit, when he went to jail for allegedly violating his parole agreement, going to Canada, when it first started, this latest round. And there were people who were angry. You could see them standing next to the mayor in a press conference, or next to the mayor's people in a press conference. And there were supporters that we got reports from who were saying, Why did you have to arrest him? This is all something that is made up and you didn't have to treat him that way. His support, along racial lines there?

THOMPSON: Well, you know, there is. I mean, there's a racial tinge to this. And I think that's why "The Chronicle" coming out yesterday as the African-American paper in this city, calling on him to resign has, you know, some effect in this community. There's a racial tinge to it, but you know, irony here or the paradox here, Don, is this. Corporate Detroit, the business community here, who are made up mostly of white men, are not coming out visibly as...

LEMON: Why is that?

THOMPSON: I don't know. I mean, because they're doing business with the city. Some might have contracts with the city of Detroit, and he is still the mayor. So what we have is basically you have corporate Detroit coming out just, you know, in bits and pieces. But it's not like -- the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest Chamber in the nation, has not come out, has not issued a statement...

LEMON: OK.

THOMPSON: ... as an institution to call on him to step down.

LEMON: All right. You're talking about economic and business ramifications.

THOMPSON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMPSON: ... business ramifications. So what I'm saying is...

LEMON: Let's talk political, though, real quickly. He's a superdelegate.

THOMPSON: Yes, he is.

LEMON: And he can go to the convention now. What does this mean for the political spectrum when it comes to the Democratic Party, as someone who would know this from what you do with this newspaper?

THOMPSON: Yes. You know, Don, clearly, one thing that I've said, and want to emphasize, is that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is not Barack Obama. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is not on Obama's short list. Yes, the judge did lift the restriction this morning, saying that he could attend the Denver convention and nomination, which is a historic gathering. But he is not on Obama's list. He has not been a campaign adviser to Barack Obama. He happens to be a superdelegate, and he's one of many superdelegates who live in the state of Michigan...

LEMON: OK.

THOMPSON: ... heading to Denver. So I don't think he's going to take away the spotlight from Obama.

LEMON: All right. I understand. I respect everything you have to say. But really, I've got to run here. I have to ask you, though, you think it's only a matter of time? You've asked for him -- you've called for him to resign. Is it only a matter of time?

THOMPSON: Yes, I think it's only a matter of time. The wheels of justice are quickly turning.

LEMON: OK. All right. Bankole Thompson, "The Chronicle"'s senior editor calling for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to resign, joining us here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

KEILAR: Hillary Clinton will have her moment in the spotlight at the Democratic convention. Is it tradition or something more complicated?

And also, how does a four-day work week sound to you? Well, some love it, some hate it. We decided to let some of our staff experience it for themselves.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Leading our political ticker, a move that's sure to please Hillary Clinton supporters. The New York senator's name will be placed in nomination at the Democratic convention. A party source tells CNN there were no negotiations, just a mutual decision by aides to Clinton and Barack Obama.

LEMON: And Brianna, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is praising Clinton for supporting Obama after her narrow loss in the delegate race, but as for Clinton supporters, well, Pelosi says some has been less than gracious. During the convention, one group plans to paper Denver with flyers expressing their disapproval of the party nominee. LEMON: In a move that could anger conservative Republicans, John McCain is floating the idea of picking a running mate who supports abortion rights. McCain opposes abortion, but he tells "The Weekly Standard" that the party should not require all of its candidates to feel the same way. McCain campaigned earlier this week with former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, who supports abortion rights. Ridge is seen as a potential running mate for McCain.

LEMON: Check out our political ticker for all the latest campaign news. Just log on to CNNPolitics.com. It is your source for all things political.

KEILAR: And of course, do not forget, on CNN Saturday night, John McCain and Barack Obama on the same stage for the first time, back to back in a live forum moderated by Pastor Rick Warren. Be sure to catch it live on CNN Saturday night at 8:00 Eastern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, this week, CNN's John Zarrella is examining the pros and cons of a four-day work week. Today, John looks into how cutting the commute saves more than just time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the biggest benefits of the four-day work week is, of course, saving on gasoline. Everybody's been telling us that, including a woman you're about to meet. The four-day work week has reduced her commute by 100 miles.

(voice-over): 7:30 AM, Donata Prichard is already at work. Her day at the prosecutor's office starts off dealing with a computer with an attitude.

DONATA PRICHARD, COMMUTER: Once it's up, it's great. But I guess it's getting started, like everything else.

ZARRELLA: Donata gets started a wee bit earlier than most. She feeds the cat. It's 6:00 AM. There's just a hint of blue in the sky when Donata leaves her home in Orlando, hops on Interstate 4 and heads to Daytona Beach.

PRICHARD: Round trip is 100 miles a day.

ZARRELLA: For 14 years, she's made the drive five days a week. Her 4-year-old PT Cruiser has 100,000 miles on it and a third set of tires. But she'd never take a job closer to home.

PRICHARD: I love what I do. I love the people I work with.

ZARRELLA: This summer, finally, after all these years, I-4 became a road less traveled.

PRICHARD: I've just only dreamed of it. Now I have it and I don't want it to go away. I don't want to wake up from the dream. ZARRELLA: A pilot program that runs through Labor Day allows employees at state prosecutors' offices, including attorneys, to work a four-day week, nine-hour days. Donata took Fridays. She's cut her gasoline costs more than $100 a month.

(on camera): Donata's not just saving money at the gas pump, she's saving $50 a week in lunches. With the flex schedule, she only gets a half hour for lunch each day now, so she doesn't have as much time to go out.

(voice-over): With only a half hour for lunch now, Donata brown bags it instead of eating out. But the best thing about Fridays off?

PRICHARD: OK, I'm waiting for that cannonball.

ZARRELLA: More time with the grandkids.

(on camera): The pilot program will be evaluated before state officials decide whether to continue it. They won't get an argument from Donata, who has spent way too many hours of her life riding the interstate. John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Home owners just can't catch a break. Home prices are falling and more people than ever are losing their homes to foreclosure. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with more on this deepening crisis.

Susan, some new numbers here.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New numbers and it continues a very distressing trend, Brianna. Foreclosure filings rose yet again in July, jumping 8 percent. That translates to 1 of every 464 households receiving a foreclosure notice last month. Bank repossessions remain the most prevalent type of activity. They jumped nearly 200 percent from the same time last year, adding to the massive number of bank-owned homes on the market -- Brianna.

KEILAR: An you know, one of the big reasons for this, Susan, home prices continuing to decline, leaving many more people with a bigger mortgage than the actual value of their home.

LISOVICZ: That's right. It's a vicious circle, Brianna, because foreclosures put even more pressure on home prices. That National Association of Realtors says that nationwide, the median price for a single family home dropped by 7.6 percent. Of course, buyers who can get a mortgage are getting exceptional value. The NAR says foreclosures and selling at a loss accounted for about one third of all existing home sales.

You know, we're not seeing losses on Wall Street today, we're seeing gains, the Dow Industrials right now up 106 points, so about 1 percent. The NASDAQ is up 1 percent. And oil prices are down a buck. Pretty good mix for the final three numbers anyway, right, Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, good mix, sort of offsets some of the downer numbers that you gave us.

LISOVICZ: Earlier.

KEILAR: But we appreciate that, Susan. We'll check back in with you soon. Thanks.

LISOVICZ: Thank you.

LEMON: A photo of the Spanish national basketball team is causing quite a furor. They say the picture was meant as a friendly gesture, but some people are taking it as anything but. We'll show you the photo at the center of this controversy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kyra Phillips.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon live here at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

KEILAR: It is 2:30 p.m. Eastern, and here are some of the stories we're working on for you in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A special 30-day curfew goes into effect in Hartford, Connecticut at 9:00 tonight. Anyone under 18 who is out and about without a parent will get written up and taken home by police. This plan came about in response to a recent rash of shootings.

Almost 400 people have been displaced by a fire that tore through an apartment complex outside Philadelphia. At least 20 fire companies came in to help battle this blaze. Several firefighters suffering minor injuries in the process.

The Russian military has said its troops would withdraw today from the Georgian city of Gori. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads to Georgia tomorrow with some cease-fire papers she'll get formally signed. Today she called on Moscow to honor that truce.

LEMON: U.S. officials believe as many as 15,000 Russian troops are now inside Georgia. Many of them well outside their long- established peace-keeping posts in those separatist enclaves. One city is reportedly destroyed, others occupied. And the images we've seen from the worst of all the fighting -- they are simply heartbreaking.

No other way to put it, Josh Levs, who has been looking over some of these photographs released by the Georgian Defense Ministry.

Are you going to share some of them with us Josh?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are. I'm going to set them up for you first because I want everyone to understand. What's behind me are some of the photos that we've been having on CNN.com., and those are taken by independent journalists over there. It is true that the Georgian Defense Ministry has now released some photos. We have looked through them and we have decided to show you some of them because there is news value in them. We don't know everything about how they were taken, we can't guarantee everyone who is in them is, as the ministry is saying. But I do want to show you these because they are moving images from conflict that is just so awful for so many people.

Let's close in on this screen right here. This is one of the first ones we're showing you here. We have heard that buildings were bombed in Gori. We are told that this is a civilian apartment building.

Let's keep scrolling through some more of these. You're seeing the destruction. You're seeing, here, apparently a dead body on the ground and a man standing who is wailing. Apparently -- you can see the loss so many people are experiencing.

And as we go through more of these photos, we do know that there are a lot of civilians caught in the crossfire here in various ways, and different ethnicities. Some are Russian, some are Georgian, some are Ossetians. Let's keep going through.

You see a lot of the people who are really struggling here. A body being carried on the stretcher. We have a couple more to show you. And there -- it's just -- you know, you can feel it. You can feel what these people are going through.

We've actually sent (ph) a lot of these -- individual people who are struggling, as well as some images like this one, of the first responders in Georgia who are working to put out fires, particularly in Gori, one of the cities that's had the worst time over the past week.

And what I like about this photo and why we're ending on this, is a lot of these young people have never seen war. They don't know anything about this. They might not even remember the early conflicts of the early 90s when there was some conflict there. This is all new to them. It suddenly struck them.

Now we don't have similar images provided by the Russian government. But we do have something I want to show over here. This is from the "Associated Press." It's the only photo of its kind that I've seen. Let's close in on it, and I'll tell you what the caption says. It says Russian army soldiers are listening to a doctor at Central Military Hospital in Rostov-on-Don, that's in southern Russia. They apparently were injured in this conflict as well.

Obviously, there is a human cost on all sides throughout this. We do try to bring you the images from the scene because in the end, we're looking at it from the big perspective -- what's going to happen. But in the end, Don, as you were just saying, we're talking about thousands of people whose lives were uprooted. We don't know how many casualties, how many killed, how many wounded, but we are hearing it was a lot. And that's one of the first things we want to find out, as the smoke starts to clear, hopefully, how many people were affected and just how -- Don.

LEMON: Details that are sad but --

LEVS: Awful.

LEMON: -- we'll soon find out.

OK, Josh, we appreciate it. Thank you.

LEVS: Thanks.

KEILAR: Let's take you live now to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. That is where this military crisis takes on a human face. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is there.

Frederik, what have you seen?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Brianna, today I was in a camp for internally displaced people here in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, on the outskirts of Tbilisi. And it's actually just being set up right now. But even as it was being set up, there were people pouring into that place, people who were telling us that they had been on the road for several days, that they had made several stops in between, stayed in (INAUDIBLE) dilapidated old school buildings, old kindergarten buildings, with no electricity or running water.

Many of them telling us all they had left were the shirts on their backs. And to them, of course, looking forward to (INAUDIBLE) the aid that is now coming in, especially from the U.S. today, two C- 17 cargo planes from the U.S. landed here at Tbilisi's airport, packed with (INAUDIBLE) supplies and food and water and of course also with tents for these people.

One thing that people were telling us, (INAUDIBLE) now and we're six days into that conflict. And one thing that people are saying is that says a lot about the humanitarian situation on the ground here. That six days after the conflict, they're now finally setting up these tents. The reason (INAUDIBLE) is that it's been so difficult to reach a lot of the places.

I talked to one UNICEF worker. (INAUDIBLE) really don't have a good assessment of what the situation is like in those conflicted areas, in places like Gori, even more so in places like Southern Ossetia, where their workers can't even get to. But having said that, he said they're now trying to launch aide convoys into some of those places. But he also said there are still places that relief agencies are not able to reach in this country -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Frederick Pleitgen for us via broadband from Tbilisi. Thank you.

LEMON: Why don't we check out the day's Olympic action and where things stand with the medal count right now. Team USA and China still trading turns in the top spot there. After today's events, China has 35 total medals to the United States' 34. Still time for more, no worries. But the host team is widening its edge in gold. South Korea remains in third place where it has been for days. But now it's got some company. Australia moving up into a tie with 16 medals all its own -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Well Spain's Olympic basketball team has been accused of a foul shot off the court. The problem, this picture here taken before the men left for Beijing that shows them making a slanted eye gesture. The women's team taking a similar photo, as you can see here. The players saying a sponsor insisted on the poses for an ad. Lots of people unhappy about this.

Let's get some thoughts now from the Carmen Van Kerckhove. She is president of New Demographic, a consulting firm that deals with issues of race. Also, you published the blog, Racialicious, as well. A lot of issues dealt with on that blog.

Carmen, you know, some people have said this is a racist gesture. One member of the basketball team said it was a gesture of affection and identification with the Chinese people. What do you think?

CARMEN VAN KERCKHOVE, CO-FOUNDER, PRES., NEW DEMOGRAPHIC: There's really nothing affectionate about this gesture. It is a universal symbol that is derogatory and racist against people of Asian descent, particularly Chinese. And for people like myself and other Asians I know who have dealt with, who have had, as kids, people running around, slanting their eyes, yelling ching-chong, ching-chong (ph), looking at a picture like this really feels like a kick in the face.

KEILAR: How do you think their handlers allowed them to do this? This is one of the questions that we asked in our morning -- meeting this morning. It's not as if they're -- this is a formal event. This is a team photo. We're hearing a sponsor insisted on this. How was this not stopped from someone allowing both of the teams to do this?

VAN KERCKHOVE: I wonder the same thing. I think it really just goes to show that we are not talking enough about race. And certainly this happened in Spain, but I think the same is the case here in the U.S. At least now that this picture has come out in the open, it really creates an opportunity for us to talk about this, to explain why this is not acceptable and why this is so derogatory to Asians and Chinese people in particular.

KEILAR: And Carmen, a Chinese Embassy spokesperson told the Spanish newspaper, "El Pais," that the Chinese have not interpreted this as offensive or racist. But does that really matter? Does this become something beyond just sort of relations between the Spanish and the Chinese?

VAN KERCKHOVE: I don't think it does matter. I'm sure you saw the report that by the year 2042, white Americans will no longer be a majority. The truth is, we are living in an increasingly multi- cultural country and increasingly multi-cultural world, and we really -- it becomes a critical survival skill to know how to establish good relationships with people from other backgrounds. And so I think that all of this becomes increasingly important as the world becomes more global and more international.

KEILAR: An important conversation to have.

Carmen Van Kerckhove, thanks so much for shedding some light on this, giving us some perspective. Carmen Van Kerckhove, with the blog, Racialicious, we appreciate it.

VAN KERCKHOVE: Thank you.

LEMON: All right. Very interesting stuff.

You've watched the Olympics. You've seen the landmarks. But there is something Olympic organizers -- they are hiding it. John Vause takes us to China that you're not seeing in Olympic coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: China was determined to give Beijing a facelift for the Olympics. But some of its methods are -- shall we say -- a bit unorthodox, and that's to say the least.

CNN's John Vause reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With gleaming towers of glass and steel and streets lined with millions of flowers, Beijing has never looked so good. And that's just what communist officials want an Olympic television audience to see. What isn't seen, neighborhoods like this one. Old, shabby, run down in the shadow of modern high-rises and hidden behind a wall eight feet high.

Hu Jian Jun lives in a 200-year-old house with his wife and son. Almost everything around him has been demolished to make way for the new, expensive apartments. But Mr. Jun delayed construction by holding out for a better offer from the developer. And so last month, a wall mysteriously went up.

"It's simple, they want to hide things," he told me. "They want people to see nice, pretty things. If something isn't pretty, they try to obscure it."

And by they, he means the government. They were in this neighborhood as well. Behind the gray, painted bricks, a few dilapidated stores.

"It's all because of the Olympics," says this man, who refused to give his name.

(on camera): In fact, entire buildings are being covered up. This is just a facade, printed onto plastic sheeting because underneath, a department store is being renovated.

(voice-over): Even apartment blocks, which will soon be demolished, have been painted. For the past few years, Michael Meyer, a writer, has lived in this old Beijing neighborhood, known as (INAUDIBLE) which is slated for destruction.

MICHAEL MEYER, AUTHOR, "THE LAST DAYS OF OLD BEIJING": There's always this tension in China between old and new. They're in love with their traditional culture, but at the same time they want to be modern.

VAUSE: This ancient capital seems to be getting younger by the day. Even so, the old flaws, which some would call character, are still there, hidden away for all the world not to see.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: It started in California when some surfers decided to try surfing the streets. Skateboarding's popularity was initially was confined to the punk scene. But today the sport is considered so mainstream, some are even hoping that it will become an Olympic event at the next summer games.

CNN photojournalist Emmanuel Tambakakis takes us to a New York City skate park where some skaters say that you can't judge an art form.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your favorite thing about skateboarding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been skating since I was about 12. I'm 27 now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people looked at the world how skateboarders looked at skateboarding, the world would be in a totally better place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skateboarding is the best sport there is. It's a lifestyle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, total -- art form, lifestyle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You go home, you watch skate videos and you wake up, you go skating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in Manhattan, New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to be tough to skate out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is New York City. There is so much culture. It's -- everyone skates, blacks, whites, Latinos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We met through skating. We're from the same borough and stuff like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no race discrimination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like a whole skateboarding community. Color seems to get lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of unites cultures and races.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my boy right here, you know what I mean? I look out for him and stuff like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's so much interest in skating now. I think it would be definitely huge in the Olympics. Probably one of the biggest sports to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It's not something that belongs in the Olympics. It's more just something -- what you do, you can't judge it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you can't attach a medal to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a competitive sport and it's international.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got like the ice skaters like having like drama with their judges being fixed and stuff like that. Skateboarding doesn't need that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the difference between skateboaring and kids that sit at home playing video games is that they're just getting more physical activity, they are building relationships with other people. It's positive. It's better than them going out and doing drugs and getting into trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the few things in the world that you can't really attach a stereotype to. That's what's good about it. You know what I mean? And that's how it should stay.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: And let's head straight to the Severe Weather Center. Chad Myers tracking a -- some sort of a -- what is it? A tornado warning?

Can you tell us where?

MYERS: Yes, public reporting a tornado, or at least a funnel cloud, just north of the Miami airport here, near Hialeah or Miami Springs, really, moving to the east. And that would take it into downtown Miami. And eventually, possibly, if it keeps going, over North Beach. So this thing here, the spin to the storm, just south of Hialeah and Miami Springs. So we're going to watch this for you.

This really just popped up in the past couple of hours. And as a cell that spins over Florida, you usually think of it as a waterspout, but this is not over water at all. It didn't start over water. It is here and moving back toward the water. So if you're in the Hialeah area, Miami Springs, kind of toward downtown, keep an eye out. It's a warning. I want you to be inside, don't be looking out the windows. Stay away from the glass if you can. Let this thing pass. It will eventually get out into the ocean.

But for now, I want you to be taking cover -- for anyone there in Miami Springs or points east from there.

KEILAR: All right. We'll be checking in with you, Chad. Thanks.

MYERS: You're welcome.

LEMON: Yesterday she drank water from the exhaust pipe of a hydrogen car. Is she nuts? What's Poppy Harlow going to do today? Find out in our "Energy Fix" segment.

And a flip-flop can be referred to as something you wear on your feet or a political insult. But usually not both. That's until now. A look at how you can have your candidate's head on your feet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. So Poppy Harlow took us on the hydrogen road tour yesterday showing us what could be the latest energy fix and even drinking water from the tail pipe of a car. But there are both positives and negatives to hydrogen-powered cars.

Is that the new energy drink?

Oh, well. Go on.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: You know what, Don? Everyone asked me today when I got to the office, did you really, really drink that water from the tail pipe or was it a TV stunt?

LEMON: You did, didn't you?

HARLOW: You better believe it. Yes, I definitely did.

And because of that, that shows you one of the biggest advantages of these hydrogen vehicles. The emission is literally just H20, drinkable water, according to the EPA. I really drank it. You see it right there.

Another big plus is that hydrogen is the most abundant resource in our universe. You can make it from grass (ph), solar or wind energy. But the biggest obstacle facing these vehicles right now is the cost. Analysts say it costs between $2 and $9 to produce the amount of hydrogen needed to equal a gallon of gasoline. That cost does comes down as the technology advances and as demand increases.

But you also have to keep in mind, hydrogen fuel cells that run these cars -- they don't last as long as gas engines. Don, right now, they cost about two times as much as well -- Don.

LEMON: OK. What about safety? Hydrogen is very flammable, Poppy.

HARLOW: I know. Everyone says hydrogen Hindenburg -- that's what they think of. Of course, if there is a leak, hydrogen can ignite. But what the experts say, and the people we spoke with, they say the dangers right now are pretty manageable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS BARRETT, DEPUTY SECY., DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION: By the time these vehicles would be available for public sale, they'll be absolutely safe. That's our charge. The safety of hydrogen is not different than anything else -- ethanol, gasoline, batteries, they all have risks associated with them. We need to manage these risks differently, but it's not any more or less safe. It just needs to be approached differently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: And NASA actually has been using hydrogen for years to power the shuttle.

When it comes to you and me, trying to fill up, that is a whole other story. There are about 60 hydrogen fueling stations in the United States. Most of those are in California. But, again, as we've been hearing with a lot of these alternative fuel sources, it's the proverbial chicken and the egg problem. The stations won't come until people buy the cars. The people certainly won't buy the cars until they have a place to fill them up.

Industry analysts do say we're still four to 10 years away from seeing hydrogen-fueled cars go mainstream and see them on the road. But I drove one and it's still a pretty cool technology -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Are you feeling all right? You didn't get sick?

HARLOW: Yes, I made it through the night.

LEMON: You did? OK. We'll see, we'll see. It's Thursday. We'll check back with you Monday to make sure.

Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: You're welcome.

KEILAR: You know, Don, the term flip-flop, them's fighting words in the world of politics. But as CNN's Jeanne Moos reports, it doesn't have to be a candidate's Achilles' heel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the days when fish, were what flip-flopped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has now flip-flopped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking about flip-flops.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Flip-floppers are all over the world.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only person who has flip-flopped on this issue is John McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain has flip-flopped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the ultimate flip-flop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worse than a flip-flopper.

MOOS: No, this is worse than a flip-flopper. It's the Obama- flop and the McCain-flop, the latest in political footwear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where would I wear them? I'd wear them in the shower.

MOOS: Nine of your favorite or least favorite candidate's heads on a flip-flop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like you're stepping on the candidate that you are for, though.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure McCain would want me to have him on my toes.

MOOS: The once lowly flip-flop has been upgraded in recent years with everything from a hidden flask to nip at, to a bottle opener. The flip-flop peaked as a political weapon when Republicans shook them to try and stigmatize John Kerry.

And in this campaign...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Barack Obama flip-flops.

MOOS: ... flip-flops have been drilled into us. The time was right for politicizing right and left feet.

VOICE OF LINDA SPANN, HOTFLOPS CREATOR: How many products do you know that instantly make you smile when you wear them?

MOOS: That's creator Linda Spann. She patented the one-piece mold that has featured everything from grapes to footballs and now heads.

SPANN: You can squeeze the head. They're light, they're hollow and they look so real.

MOOS: Don't tell the candidates their heads are hollow.

(on camera): The voting is already under way on Hotflops Web site.

(voice-over): You can vote with your feet. (on camera): But who is winning so far?

(voice-over): Obama is leading in sales two to one, which is fitting because since he's a guy who seems to wear flip-flops. But is wearing these flip-flops an insult or a compliment?

Listen to the president of Hotflops and their creator flip- flopping.

VOICE OF SEAN JACKSON, HOTFLOPS, CEO: Are they supporting him or are they saying he's flip-flopping on some issues, but I think if we see -

SPANN: Oh ask everybody, you wear these because you support your candidate.

MOOS: Or you can mix and match.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, very bipartisan.

MOOS: Online is where you can buy them for 30 bucks a pair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't pay $30, $9.95.

MOOS: Or better yet, try to get them free by modeling for a news crew desperate for footage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're not going to get fired, we're going to keep them.

MOOS: Go ahead. All hail to feet.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Only Jeanne Moos.

Before she whipped up her first souffle for the cameras, television chef Julia Child was apparently cooking up some international intrigue. Find out why her name is among the thousands of secret spy files being released today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. What do a famous TV chef, a Supreme Court justice, and a Chicago White Sox catcher have in common? All of them were spies. The government file on Julia Child was among thousands released today for the first time. She worked for the OSS, the precursor to the CIA. Apparently before she was cooking up French souffles, Child helped cook up a repellent to keep sharks from detonating explosions meant for German U-Boats during World War II. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg was also one of the about 24,000 spies who worked for the OSS. As was this person, Chicago White Sox catcher, Moe Berg. While Berg's batting average wasn't great, only .243 or so, his Japanese and German language skills were much, much better. One of his missions involved a potential assassination plot against a Nazi scientist who was thought to be developing an atomic bomb.

Later in "THE SITUATION ROOM" Wolf Blitzer will have more on the OSS files, secret no more.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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