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Alleged Terror Plot Against U.S.; President Obama's Weekend Media Blitz; Getting Rid of Cellulite; Weapons and Training from Al- Qaeda

Aired September 20, 2009 - 16:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Weapons and training from Al Qaeda. Possible targets? New York subways. All part of what federal officials are calling a terror plot against the U.S.. Three men are behind bars for making false statements to the FBI about their alleged involvement in the plot. Colorado resident Najibullah Zazi seen here, and his father, Mohammad Wali Zazi were taken into custody last night. Also arrested, New York associate, Ahmed Afzali.

CNN's Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve joins us now from Denver with details on the arrest. So Jeanne, what more can you tell us about the custody that these men face and the charges?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's quite possible that additional charges will be brought as this investigation unfolds. But as you mentioned, for the time being, all of them facing charges that they made false statements to the FBI during a terrorism probe. This is very much an on-going investigation.

Here's a little bit of what the New York City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, had to say about the matter today.


RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: I think it's important to note that in many ways, this investigation is only just beginning. It has many different avenues to take. As the attorney general said, this investigation is going forward in New York, in Denver, and in other locations in the country as well. So right now that's the information that's been put forward by the U.S. attorney to effect an arrest. But this investigation has many other avenues that are going to be followed.


MESERVE: Now, nothing specific in these court documents at all about targets and timing. But a few little glimmers about what this investigation involves. The court documents alleged that Najibullah Zazi, who has been the focal point of this investigation, lied about nine pages of bomb-making instructions that he had on his computer. A computer that was searched by the FBI as he entered New York last weekend. The court documents also alleged that he attended - has admitted attending a terror camp in the tribal areas of Pakistan where he got training in explosives and bomb making. This although Zazi and his attorney just Saturday were saying just Saturday were saying they had made no such admission to investigators. Now, all of these men are going to have their first court appearance tomorrow. And meanwhile, the investigation will continue in the U.S., in Pakistan, and elsewhere in the world.

Back to you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeanne Meserve in Denver, thank you.

President Barack Obama blitzed the Sunday talk shows today, taking on several hot button issues. From the economy to Afghanistan. Let's take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we came in, I think everybody understood that our Afghanistan strategy was somewhat adrift. Despite the extraordinary valor of the young men and women who are fighting there. So what we said was let's do a soup to nuts re-evaluation, focusing on what our original goal was, which was to get Al Qaeda. The people who killed 3,000 Americans.

To the extent that our strategy in Afghanistan is serving that goal, then we're on the right track. If it starts drifting away from that goal, then we may have a problem.

I want to be clear that probably the jobs picture is not going to improve considerably, and it could even get a little bit worse, over the next couple of months. And we're probably not going to start seeing enough job creation to deal with the rising population until sometime next year.

I think we'll be adding jobs. But you need 150,000 additional jobs each month just to keep pace with a growing population. So if we're only adding 50,000 jobs, that a great reversal from losing 700,000 jobs early this year. But, you know, it means that we've still got a ways to go.


WHITFIELD: Per usual, President Obama has a busy week ahead. But here's how it might be different than other weeks. Tomorrow morning, he travels to Troy, New York, to deliver a speech on the economy. Later he heads to New York City to tape an interview with David Letterman. And that will air tomorrow night.

The president will spend much of the week in New York, making his debut at the annual meeting of the U.N. general assembly. Discussions there will include climate change and nuclear nonproliferation. Late Thursday, Mr. Obama heads to Pittsburgh to host the G-20 summit.

On to Afghanistan now. The death toll from a car bombing in Kabul is rising. Ten more people have died of wounds sustained in Thursday's attack, including six Italian soldiers. The bodies of the soldiers arrived back in Italy today. That brings the death toll from that attack to 26. 55 Afghan civilians were also wounded in the blast that targeted a residential area near the country's Supreme Court.

One U.S. service member was killed and 12 others injured when a black hawk helicopter crashed at a major American base north of Baghdad. The black hawk chopper went down yesterday at the Balad Air Base as high winds and rain tore through the area. The military says the cause of the crash is under investigation. And they gave no other details.

Muslims around the world are bidding goodbye to Ramadan. Today marks the end to the month-long fast for the Islamic faithful. Muslims believe the Koran was revealed to the prophet, Mohammed, during Ramadan more than 14 centuries ago. Eve celebrations are now being ushered in. One Islamic expert says to think of it as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's all rolled into one.

President Obama says the huge concert going on today in Havana probably won't have much of an impact on U.S-Cuban relations. Estimates say that some 600,000 people are in this area called Revolution Plaza for the "Peace Without Borders" concert. Colombian singer, Juanes, is hosting this event.

Our Soledad O'Brien is there as well. And she's joining us now by way of broad band. Huge crowd when you look at the aerial kind of images of how many people have turned out, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, the estimates we've heard of have been 600,000, Fred. I don't think they're really going to know. We had a chance to go up on the stage a little while ago and take a look at it. It literally is a sea of people, just absolutely filling the plaza. This is the plaza where Pope John Paul II said mass back in 1998. I had the opportunity to cover that as a journalist as well. Estimates of that crowd size was 850,000. This certainly is comparable.

Everyone here, of course, because of Juanes. He is a singing star. 17 Latin Grammies, more than any other artist. But also because of his message of peace he's been able to bring some of the biggest stars in Latin music with him. Miguel Bose. You can see him over my shoulder performing right now. The crowd is entranced. The people have been here really since the morning. I should tell you, I'm sure I look like it, temperatures are in the 90s. It is hot.

And every so often someone gets carried out of the crowd because they've passed out from heat exhaustion. But for the most part, the crowd is absolutely wild for the opportunity to see some of these stars. Keep in mind, for many Cubans here and this is a young population, they don't have the chance. This is literally the opportunity of a lifetime.

We just spoke to Juanes back stage a few moments (INAUDIBLE) library, which is a short distance and then basically in about 45 minutes they'll run him through this crowd and bring him up on to the stage. And he told me, you know, the whole entire message here is about peace. There's nothing political about his concert. He doesn't know that there'll be real tangible change from just a concert, but he says he hopes he's cracking open a window in a way, a window to conversation on both sides - the United States and Cuba, in the hopes of thawing what has been a very, as you know, difficult 47-plus year history of embargo enforcing in place for 47 years. Fred.

WHITFIELD: But Soledad, you know, a concert on this level and really any kind of event that brings a lot of people together in Havana or anyone throughout Cuba has to happen with the cooperation if not the green light from the government. So tell me about how politically, even though Juanes says he doesn't want to make a political statement, there had to be some sort of politics that went into being able to carry out an event like this. What is the government hoping? What's the message perhaps, the government wants sent through this concert?

O'BRIEN: You're absolutely right. Again, some of the artists performed as well. All of that for a non-political event takes a lot of political maneuvering, which Juanes has spent the last 10 weeks, really, trying to get that going. It's interesting. The government here (INAUDIBLE) embargo -- also really talked about that this focuses on peace and on the people.

And when you talk to the folks who've assembled for this concert, they don't want to talk politics. They want to talk about the opportunity to see some of Latin America's biggest stars. And they really had the chance when (INAUDIBLE) picked up this concert. The people here are just excited. Some of the young people were saying as Juanes was walking around in Havana yesterday, they said, you know, why don't people come here? Why don't people come visit us? Why don't celebrities come and see us?

And you know, for a lot of young people who don't really want to deal with the politics, they would really just like to have the opportunity to see big stars come and see them. So, yes, no question. Anything in Cuba is political on both sides. But certainly today, as Juanes says, it's about making people happy.

WHITFIELD: Yes, permission can either make things happen in Cuba or it can curtail things from happening altogether. Soledad O'Brien, thanks so much for joining us from Havana. And, of course, we all look forward to Soledad's reports and her "Latino in America" reports that are unveiled here on this network come mid-October. So look forward to that reporting as well.

OK. So it's about that time to roll out the red carpet for tonight's 61st annual Emmy Awards show. We have your scouting report on this year's hopefuls right around the corner. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: We're less than four hours away from the start of the 2009 Emmy Awards show. Tinsel town's tip of the hat to the biggest stars of the small screen. Here now is CNN's Kara Finnstrom with a crash course on this year's hopefuls.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you get out of your government job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not at liberty to discuss that. That information is classified at least until Cheney dies, which is going to be a long time from now. That man is mostly metal.

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Funny stuff from "30 Tock" but critics are saying it is more than likely the show will snag its third straight Emmy for best comedy. But check out the competition here. Usually five nominees in this category. This year, there are seven, including this notable one, "Family Guy."

(voice-over): It's only the second time ever an animated show has gotten a best comedy nomination. The first one went to "The Flintstones." That was practically 50 years ago.

(on camera): Over in the best drama race, seven shows also in the running. A bunch of these are cable shows which may generally have smaller audiences but these clearly getting some big phrase. And once again, the AMC drama "for best drama. These clearly getting some big praise. Once again, the AMC drama "Mad Men" the favorite of many critics, it took home the Emmy last year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are we with the IRS?

FINNSTROM (voice-over): In the best actress in a drama race, this one could be close. As in Glenn Close. Close won last year and the odds are in favor to win again. But there are lots of familiar faces in this category and one newcomer. It's "Mad Men's" Elizabeth Moss's first nomination. There's also a newcomer among the men nominated for their dramatic roles. Simon Baker from "The Mentalist." John Hamm of "Mad Men" had been getting mad love from the critics for his work this year. So with all the talent in this category, it's tough to say who will take home the Emmy.


FINNSTROM: You feel the funny guys includes Jermaine Clement of HBO's "Flight of the Conchords." He has attracted a hard core following with his hilarious songs.

(on camera): And as you can see, lots of variety here from this year's funny women. But the first lady of comedy this year just may be Tina Fey. She already won one Emmy for playing Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live" and could now score a second for her lead role on "30 Rock."


FINNSTROM: And we are live here. Staking out our spot on the red carpet. The big stars of TV set to arrive in just about four hours from now. If we pan quickly over here to our right, we can see where their limos will be pulling up. And they'll start that long walk down the red carpet. Lots of talk this year about the Emmy show.

Fredricka, we're told that they had to completely revamp it because of some poor ratings last year. So we're told to look out for a lot of surprises with this year's show.

WHITFIELD: Oh, really. OK. Folks will be tuning in for that. We know that red carpet will be filled with people just in a matter of hours, alongside you. Kara Finnstrom, thanks so much, looking so fabulous there on the red carpet.

All right. Car dealers are cashing in on the "Cash for Clunkers" program. It saw nearly 700,000 trade-ins for more fuel efficient vehicles. Our Josh Levs joins us in the NEWSROOM with details on that. Josh -

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey there, Fred. You know, we do have this new figures. I always love checking out this. I mean, take a look. We've been following this since the beginning. We've been showing you some of the trades that people made, and what they got for it. Also we showed you some of the vehicles that, sadly, were too bad to even clunk. It was unclunkable. That was one of our examples.

WHITFIELD: Oh, I remember that van. I love that.

LEVS: I love that van. That's from one of our iReporters.

WHITFIELD: That one's for clunkerdom.

LEVS: Exactly. It's beyond clunkerdom. So the government has just come out with these new figures. Let's take a look at how many are cashing in so far. We got a graphic for you here. We're going to show you how many of these payoffs have happened. So far the government has paid 535,000 vouchers, Fred.


LEVS: Worth a whopping $2.25 billion. So not bad.

WHITFIELD: Car dealers are very happy about that.

LEVS: And did you hear that, they got us the "cha-ching" sound.

WHITFIELD: I love that.

LEVS: Love it. I will show this. This is how many are also approved. They've approved another 77,000. And that's going to be another $322 million. So it's adding up. So I did a little math over here. Not too hard. The total number is about 690,000 that has been requested. So when you take a look at how much they've paid so far, at about 690,000 this is how well the government's doing on this next graphic. You got three quarters of them have now been paid out. A total of 77 percent of clunker payments have already been made, Fred. That's not too bad. WHITFIELD: So of those that were not paid out because they don't necessarily qualify, they've actually been rejected, or the check is in the mail?

LEVS: Yes. Some of them they still have to process. So that's a lot. There are a few that have been rejected. That's the last graphic I have for you here. Take a look, in fact, this is interesting, the government is saying 60,000 applications were rejected.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh.

LEVS: But the thing is, what they're doing is - and the government officials have said. They're getting in touch with the dealers. They're working with them on it. There is an effort to make sure those ultimately pay. It could be there's a problem with the form. It could be a technicality. There will be some cases where, you know what the dealer did something wrong, maybe the person filling out the form, buying the car did. Some might not happen.

But as a rule, what they're trying to do is work it all out. We want to hear from all you. So here is how you can get in touch with us. We want your clunker stories. Did it work? Did it not? Are you beyond clunkerdom? Are you stuck in clunkerdom?, Facebook and Twitter Josh Levs CNN. Keep those pictures coming, too because we love them.

WHITFIELD: All right. Josh, thanks so much. I feel bad for some of these car dealer. Because, you know, for some of those that got the rejected applications that's a real drag.

LEVS: Yes but hopefully they'll still pull through. They could, given some time and a little working with the government. It could happen.

WHITFIELD: All right. Very good. Thanks, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. A startling admission. In the case of embattled runner Caster Semenya. We'll tell you why top athletic officials under fire now.


WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories right now.

In Washington state, the search intensifies for criminally insane murderer now on the run for three days. 47-year-old Phillip Arnold Paul disappeared Thursday during a field trip to a nearby county fair. Authorities now believe that Paul may have planned his escape noting that he left little clothes in his hospital room. Paul was committed to the institution after he was acquitted by reason of insanity in the 1987 slaying of a woman Paul claimed was a witch.

Police in southwest Florida make a grisly discovery. A woman and her five children found dead in their apartment. Investigators are now looking for the woman's husband. He is identified as 33-year-old Mesac Damas. Police believe he may have taken a flight to Haiti. The killings have shaken the community and the sheriff.


SHERIFF KEVIN RAMBOSK, COLLIER COUNTY, FLORIDA: We are not going to get into the manner of death at this time due to the investigation ongoing. But I can tell you that in no uncertain terms this is the most horrific and violent event this community has ever experienced.


WHITFIELD: If you have any information about this case, call your local police or the Collier County, Florida, sheriff's department.

South Africa's top athletics official now admits that he lied when denying gender tests had been conducted on runner Caster Semenya. He say what he did was an error in judgment. But says he did it to protect the 18-year-old's privacy. Semenya's true gender came into question following her world title win a month ago in Berlin.

Top stories coming up in 20 minutes from now.

All right. Let's talk weather now. It's been really nasty in the form of a lot of rain in the southeast. Our Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center. Hopefully there's a little, I don't know, sunshine that might be in the near forecast. Take a look at these pictures right here out of the Atlanta area.

This woman actually had to be rescued because so much rain kind of deluged this particular apartment complex. 26 other people had to be brought to safety from the flooding in that apartment complex. Jacqui Jeras now, OK, we know. It's bad. It's become a broken record. Lots more rain on the way.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: How many Facebook posts have you seen like, "Rain, rain, go away?" Or, "Can you please make the rain stop."

WHITFIELD: You've seen that. They don't talk to me about weather.

JERAS: It's like my whole page, let me tell you. It has been a bummer. I'd like to say this is the last day. But unfortunately it's not. There is a little bit of good news. You know, the main low that's been just sitting there and spinning and bringing in all that moisture still bringing in a lot today.

You can see it heavy across the deep south, extending all the way up into the Ohio River Valley. Now we're going to have more heavy rain, I think, tomorrow. But as we head into Monday night, into Tuesday, we're going to start to get a little bit of ridging, as we call it, in the upper levels of the atmosphere. And so we'll have more daytime heating thunderstorms, like mid to late week as opposed to the gloomy, dreary, steady rain that you've been seeing across much of the deep south.

I want to go ahead and show you some of the rainfall totals that we've been seeing here and these are like five to seven day totals. Over a foot in Meina, Arkansas, had bought 10 inches in Searcy. Check out Pensacola, nearly 10 inches here. And there you can see Atlanta, Georgia, at over seven inches. So flood watches and warnings still remain in place across much of the southeast. And there you can see them across much of Tennessee.

We've also had some heavy rain showers here across south Florida. And we've been getting some waterspout pictures coming in from our iReporters and some of our viewers. This is from David Foot who's actually a Turner Broadcasting employee, the parent company that owns this network. And he said he was on the beach until the water patrol came out and made everybody get out and seek some shelter. So some really incredible pictures. No damage. These never made their way on shore. So thanks to David and some of our I-reporters, too, who brought that along.

Tomorrow's forecast, showing you that wet weather into the southeast. But be aware, our system that's going to help change the pattern a little bit bringing some severe storms into the southern plain states. Fredricka -

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Jacqui.

OK. It's a dirty word. Everyone seems to believe so. Cellulite. So what is it? And short of going under the knife, can you really get rid of it? In our health for her segment, here's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beverly Hunt is a dynamo. Always active, she stays in shape. But she has a secret. It's cellulite.

BEVERLY HUNT, CELLULITE SUFFERER: It's in the thighs and the rear. I'm sure there are other places but those are the primary, "sore spots."

COHEN: Cellulite forms when skin loses its elasticity and large fat cells form and create bulges and dimples. As many as 90 percent of women have cellulite. And according to dermatologist, Dr. Howard Brooks, thin or heavy, any woman can develop cellulite.

DR. HOWARD BROOKS, DERMATOLOGIST: It doesn't matter if that woman is black, white, Asian. It doesn't matter if that woman eats right and does everything right, cellulite still develops unfortunately.

COHEN: Brooks says there are a few thing you can do to curve the dimples. First, quit smoking. Lighting up damages connective tissue that causes wrinkling. Also watch your weight and exercise your legs and buttocks.

BROOKS: That can firm up the skin and decrease the appearance of cellulite. It's still there but it decreases the appearance.

COHEN: Because cellulite formation is mostly genetics, Brooks confesses there isn't much you can do to get rid of it. There are some cosmetic procedures like laser injections and deep massage therapy that attack those nasty dimples but they're expensive and temporary. For now, Beverly Hunt has decided to try laser and deep massage therapy to get rid of her secret.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: All right. Three leaders who have locked horns with the U.S., Moamar Khadafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hugo Chavez. A look at why they're heading to the U.S. this week. Well, sort of. The U.N..


WHITFIELD: We're now on our top story. Weapons and training from al Qaeda and bomb making plans. The FBI says all are part of a terror plot to set off explosives here in the U.S.

Here's what we know. Three men arrested in the federal terror investigation are due in court tomorrow, Federal court. One of the suspects is a Colorado resident Noajibullah Zazi. Investigators say Zazi received weapons and explosives training from al Qaeda. He has been interview by the FBI three times in the past week. All three men are charged with making false statements to federal agents.

President Obama took to the air waves today in a very big way to push for his health care reform plan. Among his stops, our own "State of the Union" with John King, senior White House correspondent Ed Henry has more on the president's media blitz to promote reform.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S: American citizen or at least a legal resident --

ED HENRY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After uttering more than 10,000 words, one question remains. Did the president move the ball forward on health care?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: If the Baucus Bill made it to your desk as is, would you sign it? Does it meet your goals?

OBAMA: Well that's such a hypothetical since it won't get there as is that I'm not going to answer that question. But can I say that it does meet some broad goals that all the bills that have been introduced meet.

HENRY: Bottom line, the president still did not get very specific or break much new ground on health care. That he was confronted on a range of other tough issues, including the still sluggish economy. OBAMA: The jobs picture is not going to improve considerably and it could even get a little bit worse over the next couple of months. And we're probably not going to start seeing enough job creation to deal with a rising population until sometime next year.

HENRY: On Afghanistan, the public is getting anxious. But the president said he wants more time to sort out the strategy before deciding whether to send more troops.

OBAMA: There is a natural inclination to say, if I get more, then I can do more. But right now the question is, the first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?

HENRY: As for health care, the president acknowledged it has not gone as planned.

OBAMA: During this whole health care debate, there have been times where I've said, you know --

KING: You've lost control?

OBAMA: Not so much lost control. But where I've said to myself, somehow I'm not breaking through.

HENRY: Top Republicans insist he still has not broken through despite all the interviews and speeches.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: He can be on every news show until the end of time. If he doesn't get Republicans and Democrats in a room and get off TV, we're never going to solve this problem.

HENRY: But asked about another Republican claiming they're winning the health battle, the president expressed confidence about the final stretch.

OBAMA: Well, you know, they were saying they were winning during the election, too.


WHITFIELD: All right. Ed Henry with us now in Washington. So what was the goal besides saturating the air waves?

HENRY: Well clearly they believe the media environment is fractured now. You can't just do one interview with Walter Cronkite and reach 20 million viewers anymore. You've got to do it, you know, and hit all of the different networks and try to get out there. They were trying to obviously move the ball forward on health care. Republicans are looking at this and saying, look, we didn't see him move the ball forward or get any sort of a bounce out of that speech to a joint session of Congress in terms of a long-term bounce, maybe a short-term bounce, 24, 48 hours. But nothing to really push this legislation through. And they are not anticipating this will make a difference either. On the White House side, they insist every time they get the president out there talking about a substantive issue like this, it's going to help. If you look at the president's own body language there at the end with John King, he is obviously confident that this is a marathon and not a sprint and he will still prevail.

WHITFIELD: The president will be taking a short break from talking about health care reform and talking more about this nation's economy and how it applies or fits into the world economy. That will happen in Pittsburgh at the g-20 Summit. Huge expectations for the president?

HENRY: Sure. I mean, that's at the end of the week after earlier in the week he's got to be at the U.N. for the general assembly meetings, climate change, talking Mideast peace, nuclear nonproliferation. He's going to be going around the globe, literally. Yes, in Pittsburgh, look, this will be mostly about the financial crisis. I think it'll be a little bit about where are we in terms of stimulating not just the U.S. economy, but the global economy.

Secondly, it's going to be about what about those regulations that they talked about at the last g-20 Summit in London a few months ago? Where are they in terms of cracking down on Wall Street and other financial institutions around the world to make sure that another crisis doesn't happen? So far the U.S. and others haven't made that much progress, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ed Henry in Washington thanks so much.

Of course as Ed just mentioned, before the president heads to Pittsburgh, the president is expected to make a stop at the United Nations in New York this week for the new session of the general assembly. CNNs Adriana Hauser is in New York with this preview.


ADRIANA HAUSER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It will be the first visit to the U.S. for Libya's Moammar Gadhafi since he ceased power in 1969. The controversial trip comes weeks after the release of the only man convicted of bombing Pan Am flight 103, a Libyan national.

Joining the Gadhafi at the U.N. Summit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who will be attending in the midst of the debate surrounding Iran's nuclear program, his disputed re-election and he's continued denial of the holocaust. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. But a pressure group will be organizing a protest outside the U.N.

MARK WALLACE, FMR. U.S. DIPLOMAT: Well known that they're on the cusp of and are developing a nuclear weapon. But most recently there was an illegitimate election for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stolen election from the Iranian people. There was a brutal repression and really brutal actions towards Iran's own people.

HAUSER: Another leader expected to stir up emotions is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. During his visit in to the U.N. in 2006 Chavez called then President George W. Bush the devil. Chavez has since developed stronger ties with Libya, Iran and Russia and recently announced plans to pursue a nuclear energy program.

HECTOR CONTRERAS, VENEZUELAEN PROTESTER: He represents a real threat to the United States. But not only to the United States, but also to the world. I mean, this is -- nobody is watching this right now. Everybody's concerned about what's going on in Iran. Nobody's watching Venezuela.

HAUSER: Activist groups and some residents are outraged. They have planned boycotts and several protests. They have pressed hotels not to host these three leaders and restaurants not to serve them. Even in these tough economic times many businesses have agreed.

SOPHIA ARGYROS, OWNER, NATIONS CAFE: I would feel uncomfortable. I don't think I would want them here. Especially we have a lot of regular customers, they would not like that.

HAUSER: The U.S. has received petitions to deny them visas to enter the country. Under diplomatic convention, it would be difficult for Washington to do so.


HAUSER: Fredricka, under international agreements, the host country in this case, the U.N. -- the U.S. has agreed with international community that they have to host delegates of all member states, and therefore it is very difficult for Washington to deny access to these leaders. There are many hotels who are refused to rent rooms. Specifically to Gadhafi and Ahmadinejad. And the safer bet for these leaders to stay for security reasons, these plans are not announced, but the safest bet here is going to be the missions to the U.N. of their countries.

WHITFIELD: Sure, Adriana. Thanks so much. It would seem everyone would have to be welcome. That is why New York hosts the U.N. and hosts all the other nations to come. All right. Thanks so much, Adriana Hauser in New York.

Could there be a new time frame for boosting U.S. forces in Afghanistan? We'll hear from the military's top brass and learn what Republicans are asking for.


WHITFIELD: All right. Another look now at our top stories. President Obama speaks out on A.C.O.R.N. following a series of undercover videos that has cast a less than flattering light on the grass roots community group. Today the president said what he saw in the video was certainly inappropriate and deserves to be investigated. His words.

Authorities in and around Spokane, Washington, step up the man hunt for 47-year-old Phillip Arnold Paul. He's described as a criminally insane mental patient who escaped Thursday while on a field trip.

And this from the Associated Press. NATPO military officials say three American troops have died in Afghanistan, including one killed in combat. The U.S. military's statement says two of the Americans died today in a non-combat related incident in southern Afghanistan.

President Obama says there was no deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. But he emphasizes that he won't allow the politics of the moment to shape the U.S. strategy there. The war has taken on a slightly -- a highly partisan edge, that is, with Republicans calling for an influx of forces. Here's CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The latest suicide car bomb attack in the heart of Kabul. Another day when insurgents make clear the capital city is not safe. But suddenly the Obama administration and the president's top military advisers are split on the urgency to fix Afghanistan's security problems. Just days after the top military officer said --

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: A properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces.

STARR: The vice president said, not so fast.

JOE BIDEN, VP OF THE U.S: A decision on additional resources is premature. And it's a distance off.

STARR: In an exclusive interview, Vice President Joe Biden told CNN's Chris Lawrence, no more troops will be sent until the current 21,000 troop increase is in place and the Afghan election results are finalized all still weeks away. But a senior U.S. military official tells CNN, General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander, has now decided how many more troops he needs. But he's been told by Washington, don't send that request until you're asked for it.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: There's been a lot of talk this week and in the last two or three weeks about Afghanistan. Frankly, from my standpoint, everybody ought to take a deep breath.

STARR: The reason may be the White House is not ready to hear what the general has to say. All indications are McChrystal now believes he needs 30,000 to 40,000 additional troops, military sources tell us they worry it's a huge decision the White House does not want to get in the way of other issues like health care. But senior military officers have long signaled they can't wait too long given Afghanistan's collapsing security.

MULLEN: I think it is serious. And it is deteriorating. I've said that over the last couple of years. The Taliban insurgency has gotten better more sophisticated.

STARR: McChrystal's plan may not remain under wraps for long. There are growing indications from some Republicans in Congress they want to hear from the general directly about what he has in mind.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


WHITFIELD: President Obama took to the air waves this weekend to push forward his plans to overhaul health care. But another issue quickly crept into the conversation. What the president is saying about race and his critics.


WHITFIELD: Next weekend a young Georgia man turns 20. A huge milestone given that he has the same deadly disease that took his brother's life at the age of 19. His journey to help find a cure is the subject of a film called "Darius Goes West."


WHITFIELD (voice over): He is welcomed like this at schools across the United States. He is not a rock idol or TV star. But he is a man with a mission. Darius Weems has devoted his life to finding a cure for Duchene muscular dystrophy, the most common genetic disorder to affect children around the world. The disease causes every skeletal muscle in the body to slowly deteriorate. A fact Weems knows all too well. He's felt the full force of Duchene muscular dystrophy since he was a child. When he was just 11, he began using a walker while he watched his older brother, Mario, succumb to the disease.

DARIUS WEEMS, HAS DUCHENNE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY: It's a 100 percent fatal disease. I lost my brother at 19.

WHITFIELD: His brother's death brought Weems a life changing friendship when Mario asked camp counselor Logan Smalley to look after Darius.

LOGAN SMALLEY, DIRECTOR, "DARIUS GOES WEST:" When Mario first asked me to take care of Darius, I definitely didn't understand what exactly it meant. Then it was through our relationship that I -- that's when I realized, you know, how much Darius had in him.

WHITFIELD: Logan and ten other camp counselors decided to take Darius on the ultimate road trip across the country. Their adventure to seize life that led Darius to the ocean and the Grand Canyon for the first time also led him to realize what is possible. And the trip became the award winning documentary "Darius Goes West." Initially their effort was driven by one goal. Fulfill a promise to Darius's dying brother, Mario.

After thousands of miles, lots of laughs, film festivals and awards a realization. That this project had a reach well beyond Darius and his 11 friends. It also brought attention to Duchene muscular dystrophy and the quest to find a cure became their cause. With a campaign to sell DVDs of the film, they have been raising funds for medical research through the nonprofit Charlie's Fund. To increase the reach and raise greater awareness they launched an innovative pay it forward campaign.

SMALLEY: You can go to our Website. You will see a place where you can click to watch the entire movie for free. If you share it, you can track how much awareness you raise for DMD. You can track how much money.

WHITFIELD: They also created the DGW Know about it Program. Offering teachers viewing guides, lesson plans and discussion questions. Over 200 schools have adopted this program, increasing awareness and raising over $85,000 from middle and high school students across America. To bring attention to this program, Darius and his team spent most of his 19th year on the road visiting as many schools as possible. You've been able to really get the message out in so many different kinds of ways. And people are catching on?

SMALLEY: Oh, yeah. I'd definitely say that we, you know, with this RV and with our leader here, we've started a small fire in a ton of places across the country.

WHITFIELD: The extensive traveling is a heavy investment of time for Darius who does not know how much time he has left. As he turns 20, he thinks often about his brother, who never reached this milestone.

WEEMS: It was my entire brother's idea of telling Logan to watch over me. That's what I'm kind of doing to the kids that got the same disease I got. When I leave this world there's still going to be something left behind to help others kind of like my brother did.

WHITFIELD: To help those that will be afflicted with the Duchene muscular dystrophy. A life mission bringing these young men and thousands of American children together through one remarkable journey.


WHITFIELD: Happy birthday to Darius come next week.

President Obama took to the air waves today answering questions about health care and the economy and race. Does he think the latter influences his opponents?


WHITFIELD: As part of his network blitz to push his health care reform plan, President Obama sat down with CNNs John King on "State of the Union" today. King also asked the president whether race is playing a role in any opposition.


KING: It's a tough business, as you know. But in recent weeks, people have raised some pretty serious questions. The big rally in town signs talking about afro-socialism. Swastikas with your name and your picture on them. "You lie" shouted at you during a nationally televised address. Former President Carter says he sees racism in some of this. Do you?

OBAMA: You know, as I've said in the past, are there people out there who don't like me because of race, I'm sure there are. That's not the overriding issue here. I think there are people who are anti- government. I think there are -- there's been a long standing debate in this country that is usually that much more fierce during times of transition or when presidents are trying to bring about big changes.

The things that were said about FDR, pretty similar to the things that were said about me. He was a communist, he was a socialist. Things that were said about Ronald Reagan when he was trying to reverse some of the new deal programs, you know, were pretty vicious as well. The only thing I just hope is is that people, you know, I think we can have a strong disagreement, passionate disagreements about issues, without resorting to name calling. We can maintain civility. We can give other people the benefit of the doubt that they want what's best for this country.


WHITFIELD: So from the heckling of the president by a U.S. Congressman to the outburst of tennis star Serena Williams and the behavior of singer Kanye West, all of this begs the question, are we out of control? Where are our manners? We brought together a panel of experts and focused a full hour yesterday at this time on our collective behavior. Our panel included Judith Martin also know as Ms. Manners and psychologist Dr. Eric Fisher. I asked them about the influence of television and talk radio these days.


JUDITH MARTIN, MISS MANNERS: I've heard a lot about power, about stress, about money, fame and now media influence. I just want people to stop being obnoxious. And I could use a little help from parents, from coaches and league officials and from voters. Because if they won't stand for it it'll stop.

WHITFIELD: Doctor Fisher, it really is about looking within, but when you hear people say, you know what, so and so told me to do it or I'm hearing this movement that says I should be participating this way, I've got to get my point across, that sometimes is the excuse.

ERIK FISHER, PSYCHOLOGIST: This goes to the instigator rule. What's the job of a talk radio host than to inspire conversation? What conversations are really fun to listen to but the ones that have a lot of emotion going back and forth? And the other thing you see with the health care issue is it is closer to change potentially then ever since the '70s and '60s. There's a lot of fear behind it. People who have power don't want to give it up. We're not looking at truth and we are not looking at what's absolutely right. We're looking at our version of truth and our version of right. That's where people are having all this conflict. In the fear of what if I'm wrong or what if my right gets overruled.

WHITFIELD: Something to think about.


WHITFIELD: All right. A special investigation that will make you think twice about how final your loved one's resting place really is. That report in the 6:00 Eastern hour with Don Lemon in the NEWSROOM.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Fareed Zakaria, "GPS" starts right now.