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N.J. Dad Wins Child Custody in Brazil; Obama Heads to Climate Talks in Copenhagen; Senate's Liberal Backlash: More Liebermans to Come?; Another $1 Billion Vanishes; Contractor "Surge" in Afghanistan; "Walk in My Shoes"

Aired December 17, 2009 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING on this Thursday, December 17th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks very much for being with us. Here are the big stories that we'll be telling you about in the next 15 minutes.

Brand-new developments in an international custody battle. Right now, an American father is heading to Brazil to be with his son after a ruling from a court, but this may not be the end of the custody fight. He's hopeful, though.

CHETRY: Also President Obama takes off for Copenhagen tonight. He'll arrive in time for Friday's final session of the U.N. climate change talks. Those talks, though, are going badly. There are hopes for an agreement, but they're fading. So what can the president accomplish during a visit lasting less than a day?

ROBERTS: And he proved that one senator can impact health care reform for generations to come. Will Joe Lieberman inspire other liberals to draw their own line in the sand? The latest as Democrats struggle to keep their fragile coalition together.

CHETRY: But first, new developments in a bitter international custody battle that we've been following here on AMERICAN MORNING. Right now, a New Jersey dad who spent the past five years fighting to get his son back is on his way to Brazil and may get to take his son home this week.

A Brazilian court now ruling that 9-year-old Sean should be returned to his biological father, David Goldman, by tomorrow. But the boy's Brazilian stepfather has refused to give up. Our Jason Carroll joins us now with more on this case.

Hey, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you now. If all goes as planned, what would happen is Goldman will be met by representatives from Brazil, representatives by the U.S. embassy, and the changeover will take place later today at the U.S. embassy, that's if things go as planned. But for now, David Goldman is in the air on his way to Brazil. He's expected to land in just a few hours.

Our producer, Adam Reese, is actually flying with Goldman. He was able to snap these pictures last night just before taking off from JFK in New York. The big question is, of course, will his son be in the picture on the trip home.


CARROLL (voice-over): The decision by a Brazilian appeals court was unanimous, but there was no celebrating. Not even the hint of a smile on the face of David Goldman.

DAVID GOLDMAN, GRANTED CUSTODY OF SON: I've been down this road for 5 1/2 years. Until I'm on the plane with Sean and the wheels are up, I can only be hopeful.

CARROLL: The ruling upheld a decision this summer that ordered his 9-year-old son, Sean, to be returned home with him to New Jersey. But the homecoming could face one more roadblock. The family of Sean's now deceased mother is expected to file an appeal with Brazil's Supreme Court today, but Goldman supporters are cautiously optimistic the ruling will stand.

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R), NEW JERSEY: Remember, this is an abducting family. They're kidnappers. And yet they have -- but they come from a very high-powered legal family in Rio de Janeiro, so they've had a great deal of sway with the court.

CARROLL: The custody battle has now spanned five years, starting back in 2004, when Sean's mother, Bruna Bianchi, took Sean to Brazil for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation. They never came back. She eventually remarried and then died last year during childbirth. Her family has taken up the fight to keep Sean in Rio, arguing it would be traumatizing to remove the boy from the home where he's been raised.

Here in the United States, Goldman's fight has been taken up by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And it's that international pressure that some say could make this ruling stick.

ROBERT ARENSTEIN, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: I think the justices are on their toes trying to do the right thing because everybody -- the world is watching this case. This case is being watched by the entire world.

CARROLL: A case that won't be over until this father watches his son board a plane home.

GOLDMAN: My emotions are in check. I'm focused on just doing what I can to comfort my son.


CARROLL: Well, Secretary Clinton releasing a statement saying she appreciated the assistance and cooperation from Brazil, and she hopes the long legal process is finally over. Representative Smith from New Jersey, who you saw in the piece there and who's been working with the family, says the appeal will be filed today. The Supreme Court could grant a stay, once again, delaying Sean's return, or allow Sean to be returned to his father while the appeal is being decided. So just like David Goldman, we're all going to have to wait and see how things play out today.

CHETRY: And it's interesting we have our producer flying with him, so we will know pretty soon whether or not things are going as planned.

CARROLL: Very soon. Again, expected to land in just about a few hours, around 9:00 our time. So we're going to see what happens.

CHETRY: All right. Keep us posted. Jason Carroll, thanks.

CARROLL: All right.

ROBERTS: President Obama is flying himself. He's flying to the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen tonight, and things are getting heated there. Hundreds of protesters were arrested yesterday. They are demanding a global agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, but they may end up disappointed. The talks are not going well. China reportedly saying that it sees no hope for a deal this week.

Our Suzanne Malveaux is live at the White House. And what's the president going to do and what's the president going to encounter, rather, once he lands there in Copenhagen? They were, you know, hoping to have this whole thing precooked and it doesn't look like it's going to rise.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's not precooked at all, John. As a matter of fact, I've been on the phone with administration officials who are on the ground in Copenhagen. One of them saying that this is crunch time, it's deal or no deal, and clearly there are two things, outstanding issues here. One of them between the U.S. and China.

China yesterday, the last go-round, the last round of negotiations in putting a deal before all of these members essentially rejecting it. They do not want to move forward with what the United States is calling a requirement of transparency, proving that they're actually going to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. China does not believe that that is necessary.

We even heard from Secretary Clinton just moments ago in Copenhagen. And, John, here's how she put it. She said, "If there's not even a commitment to transparency, that's a deal breaker for us." So that is a very big deal, and it is far from certain whether or not that's going to be worked out.

The second part of this is how much the developed countries are going to give and contribute in a fund for developing countries to help them with their own climate change issues. $100 billion has been committed by various countries.

We heard from Secretary Clinton who said the United States will be one of them in helping to raise money towards that $100 billion annual fund. We don't know exactly how much, but they are trying to show that developing countries that, yes, these richer countries are going to help them out as well with this kind of climate change issues that they're dealing with. But this is going to be a really tough sell. The president walking into a sticky situation, John.

ROBERTS: Are we expecting the president to say anything, Suzanne, in Copenhagen that could have mass appeal back here in the states?

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely. I mean, one of the things he's going to talk about and we heard from Secretary Clinton is that the United States has sometimes turned a blind eye when it comes to climate change and responsibility, that that has changed. And what he is working on is that this is not just about improving the environment, but it's also about creating jobs and dealing with these tough times, these tough economic times, that that's what's behind the domestic policy of fuel efficiency standards, with cars, with appliances.

This comprehensive energy legislation that the administration says that they keep pushing, this idea of getting tax credits for weatherizing your homes, all of those things are related to climate change. All those things related to this treaty that is happening over in Copenhagen, and clearly related to home when it comes to creating jobs.

ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux for us live at the White House this morning. Suzanne, as always, thanks.

And in the next half hour here on the Most News in the Morning, we're going to be joined from Copenhagen by Bryan Walsh. He is an environmental columnist for "Time" magazine. He'll break down the breakdown in talks and tell us what more the president might do when he arrives to try to salvage the situation.

CHETRY: Seven minutes past the hour. Other stories new this morning. The troop surge in Afghanistan is now in full swing. A military battalion already has some boots on the ground, and more will be flown in before Christmas. They're the first of 30,000 troops scheduled to be deployed by summer.

ROBERTS: The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood is out of the intensive care unit. Major Nidal Malik Hasan was shot and paralyzed from the waist down during November's rampage. His attorney says that he will be in the hospital for at least two more months.

CHETRY: And new details now on the Northwest Airlines flight that overshot the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles back in October. The pilots say they had, quote, "No idea anything was wrong until a flight attendant called the cockpit to ask when they would be landing." The plane was out of radio contact for more than an hour. And again, when we first reported this story, the pilots at that time had said it was because they were on their laptop computers in the cockpit and lost track of time. ROBERTS: Yes, the plot thickens here. Coming up on eight minutes after the hour, Reynolds Wolf is watching the weather across the country and joins us now. What are we looking like now, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're looking like we could see some breezy conditions in parts of the northeast. Let's go there right now and show you on our map.

It looks like it could be a breezy day for you in New York, back up to Boston. Chance of scattered showers and maybe some light snowfall in the highest elevations, but on the southeast, the big story is going to take place into the afternoon. Scattered showers, maybe a few thunderstorms, perhaps even some flash flooding along parts of the Florida Panhandle into Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

Now on to the Rockies we go. Breezy conditions there. Highest elevations back near Steamboat Springs. You could see some fresh powder and then in the Pacific Northwest, a mix of sunshine. Then by mid-day in the afternoon, more rain and more snow for the cascades and into the northern Rockies.

That is a look at your forecast. We're going to talk about your travel coming up in just a few moments. Could be a busy day for us and fairly busy going into the weekend. Back to you.

ROBERTS: All right, thanks. Fresh powder, always a good thing, as long as it's on the mountains.

CHETRY: Oh, yes.

WOLF: You bet.

CHETRY: Thanks, Reynolds.

Well, still ahead, Joe Lieberman. The senator sort of proved that one man can make a huge difference when it comes to health care reform. Well, now, there's talk in Washington that perhaps some disappointed liberals not happy with how this health care reform is shaping out could follow Lieberman's lead. Jim Acosta reports.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Eleven minutes now after the hour, and time for a story that you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING after a quick check of the headlines.

America's top military officer getting a close-up view of the war in Afghanistan from the front lines. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting a small base in Kandahar province, where 21 U.S. troops have been killed since being deployed there back in August.

CHETRY: New York Senator Chuck Schumer apologizing after he was heard calling a flight attendant the "B" word when she asked him to stop talking and turn off his cell. It happened Sunday just before takeoff. Schumer's office says the attendant accepted his apology.

ROBERTS: New estimates from the Census Bureau. By 2050, the bureau projects that whites will no longer make up a majority of Americans. That is eight years later than previously estimated. Why? The Census Bureau cites a slower U.S. economy and stepped up immigration enforcement.

CHETRY: Joe Lieberman drew a line in the sand over a proposed Medicare buy-in and voila, it was taken out of the Senate health care reform bill because they need Joe Lieberman, and it shows just how much power one senator has in the Democrats' fragile coalition. So will Senator Lieberman inspire some disappointed liberals to do the same thing? Jim Acosta joins us now in this morning's "A.M. Original."

Hey, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. You know, Senate Democratic leaders are hopeful they'll get all 60 votes but the danger in the Senate is that you could have 100 Joe Liebermans who have the potential to stop everything if their demands aren't met. And the question now for Democrats is whether anybody else wants to -- not to coin a phrase -- pull a Lieberman?


ACOSTA (voice-over): Remember Roland Burris? Appointed to fill President Obama's Senate seat by impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich?

SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS: We must not settle.

ACOSTA: Burris has sounded like a spoiler in the Democratic quest for 60 votes to stop a GOP filibuster on health care reform.

BURRIS: But understand that I have drawn a line in the sand, and I've said that I will not vote for any bill to come to me, especially it it's going to be the final bill that does not have a public option in it.

ACOSTA: Ever since senators stripped the public option out of their version to placate Joe Lieberman, liberal bloggers have cried, kill the bill.

Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean is leading the charge.

HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIR: This is a bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG. This is an insurance company's dream, this bill, and I think it's gone too far. It's just a -- it's a shame.

ACOSTA: Dean also accuses Democrats of watering down insurance reforms in the bill. Not so, says Senator Jay Rockefeller, who is firing back at Dean, shame on you.

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: That is so inaccurate. I don't know how to express it but to say that Howard Dean is a doctor. He should know better and he should be ashamed of himself.

ACOSTA: The White House was also having none of it.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think any rational person would say killing a bill makes a whole lot of sense at this point.

ACOSTA: But even Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, a self- described socialist, has said he may not vote to block a filibuster.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I'm not on board yet. At this moment I am undecided. We're working hard to try to make this bill a better bill.

ACOSTA: Despite the fact he condemned filibustering health care last summer.

SANDERS: I can respect people in the Democratic caucus who end up not voting for final passage, but at the very least, they have got to prevent the Republicans from stopping progress in health care reform.

ROCKEFELLER: I know senators don't like to talk about other senators in what they're doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I don't mind.

ACOSTA: Senator Rockefeller says it's time for unity.

ROCKEFELLER: You don't want to be the person who brings the whole thing down.


ACOSTA: Case in point, when Senator Sanders introduced an amendment for a single-payer health care system, a measure that has no chance of passing, Republicans insisted on having the entire 767-pages read aloud. Democrats say it was a delay tactic at a time when they fear time is not on their side.

Kiran, if you want to get health care reform passed by Christmas, that's a pretty bad way of doing it.

CHETRY: Right. It's just interesting to see, I mean, you have Bernie Sanders saying I want a bill but I don't know if I'm going to support it at this point, and you heard what Roland Burris said. And, right now there is no public option, so it would appear he would not be supporting it.

ACOSTA: That's right, and that's not to speak of Ben Nelson. We still don't know where he stands, and there is -- there are some rumblings about Jim Webb, the Democrat from Virginia. He wrote an editorial in one of -- a Virginia newspaper saying he's not sold yet.

So this thing is not over yet. They're -- they're hoping for some kind of cloture vote on Saturday, perhaps over the weekend, and we'll find out then where all of these senators stand at this point.

CHETRY: All right. Jim Acosta for us this morning with an AM Original. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Well, you remember that President Obama had all the big bankers, the so-called "fat cats", as he put it, over to the White House on Monday, urging them to open up the purse strings and start lending more to homeowners and small businesses. Well, the small business credit crunch continues, another billion dollars in small business loans vanished.

Our Christine Romans is "Minding Your Business." She's joining us next.

It's 16 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Nineteen minutes after the hour, and that means we're "Minding Your Business" this morning.

The House approving a bill aimed at helping people out of work. The measure would use $75 billion from the bank bailout to prevent teachers, police and firefighters from getting laid off. The money would also be spent on building infrastructure.

CHETRY: Bank of America has a new CEO, the board of directors choosing Brian Moynihan head of its consumer banking business. He'll replace Ken Lewis who surprised the board by announcing his retirement in September.

Now, the bank tried for several months to hire a big name from outside of the company before settling on an insider.

ROBERTS: And if Tiger Woods decides to sit out the entire 2010 golf season, it could be very costly. The PGA Tour television networks and vendors stand to take a $220 million hit. Tournament crowds are expected to drop 20 percent, with television audiences cut in half. Nike, one of Tiger's top sponsors, stands to lose more than $30 million in sales according to some analysts.

And Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning, and the credit crunch continues for small businesses.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is. You know, on Monday the president sat down with the bankers and said we want to see results. Well, we do have some results that we can tell you about what the banks have been doing. These are the 22 largest banks that accepted your money at one point or another over this whole crisis.

Since April, the Treasury Department has made them say, what are you doing for small business lending? And so, this most recent month -- most recent monthly report shows those very banks the president sat down with, John and Kiran, they gave $1 billion less to small business for lending in the month of October. When you go all the way back to April, small business lending by these 22 large banks and some midsize banks down almost $12 billion.

Here's how the small business credit has vanished over those six months. Bank of America, its small business lending down almost 6 percent; American Express, 4.5 percent; Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup -- you can see the trend here.

Now, Wells Fargo is the nation's largest lender to small business, and frankly, that company says we're having a tough time finding credit worthy borrowers, good borrowers, because their -- their business is down. Their assets have lost value. Their customers aren't spending as much money.

Next year -- many of these bankers say next year, though, will be better, and they're starting to make little promises about increasing that lending, but it's -- it's incredibly important here to remember that this money has been vanishing for some time.

CHETRY: Wow! All right. Well, each day Christine Romans brings us a "Romans' Numeral." This is a number driving a story about your money. What is it today?

ROMANS: It's 50 percent, and this is a number that is meant to show you how important small business is to the American economy.

ROBERTS: Fifty percent of all the new jobs created in this country are small businesses?

ROMANS: It's more like 60 to 80 percent.

ROBERTS: So what's the 50 then?

ROMANS: It is 50 percent of economic activity is small business in this country. Half of the economy is small business. We've got to figure out how -- small businesses tell me, I'm good, I'm a good borrower. I need the money. The banks say, you know --

CHETRY: All right. Well, let's see if they put their money where their mouth is, the banks, that is.

Christine Romans, thanks so much.

Still ahead, with the troop surge in Afghanistan also comes a surge of contractors, but you've got to keep track of them. You have to make sure the money is being spent correctly. It's been a problem before, so how do they fix it this time? Barbara Starr coming up.

Twenty-two minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 25 minutes past the hour. That mean we're just five minutes away from top stories. But first, a story that you'll see only on "AMERICAN MORNING." With a surge of troops in Afghanistan comes a surge of contractors, and keeping track of them and also the money spent on them has been a problem in the past. Today, Congress will try to learn from the mistakes of the past moving forward.

Elaine Quijano is live for us at the Pentagon this morning. Hi, Elaine.


Well, you said it. That surge of troops into Afghanistan means an unprecedented surge of contractors into that country as well, but with billions of dollars at stake, one lawmaker says the U.S. needs to do better keeping an eye out against fraud and waste.


QUIJANO (voice-over): As it did in Iraq, the U.S. military relies heavily on contractors in Afghanistan. They now outnumber American troops there, about three contractors for every two service members. And according to a new report prepared for Congress, up to 56,000 more contractors could be needed to support the surge.

But one lawmaker warns, with lives at stake as well as billions of dollars for reconstruction, the government needs to do better keeping tabs on contractors than it did in Iraq.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I was shocked. It was a mess.

QUIJANO: Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill heads the subcommittee that oversees contracts. She wants to avoid the same contracting mistakes that she says happened in Iraq.

MCCASKILL: Though it was just really haphazard. There were many different people that had their finger in the pie, no one really paying attention as to how the money was going out the door.

QUIJANO: Of the 100,000-plus contractors in Afghanistan, three quarters are Afghan nationals. By giving higher-paying contracting jobs to Afghans, the US could inadvertently be undermining its ultimate goal, of one day handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan people.

MCCASKILL: But if we're paying them more to do laundry for our troops than they could make as a member of the police department or the Afghan military, then we're competing against ourselves in terms of our mission. That's dumb.

QUIJANO: But one expert says that can be a huge plus.

BOB DICKSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMISSION ON WARTIME CONTRACTING: Part of the benefit there is that they're not only supporting the US war effort, but they're also providing support in terms of the program called Afghan First, which is to help build the capabilities of the Afghan government, the Afghan people, to have an economy.


QUIJANO: And another reason better oversight is needed, that Congressional research report says that Afghan nationals might not draw a distinction between government contractors and the US military, and that any abuses that might be committed by contractors might fuel anti-American insurgents -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All good points. Elaine Quijano for us with an "A.M. Original" this morning. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Well, a lot of you are reacting to the "A..M Original" story that T.J. Holmes brought us yesterday. He hit the streets of Chicago with kids who are no strangers to violence and worry everyday just about getting to and from school safely.

Stacey writes to say, "Doesn't sound like the school system is doing a great job concerning the safety of the kids! Why not redirect the bus routes so these kids don't have to be in harm's way?"

CHETRY: Also, BPin writes, "Children that are reared in savage conditions become savages. It all starts in the home. Blame it on the schools, blame it on poverty, blame it on Chicago's leaders, blame it on Bush -- blame until there's no one else to blame. Only point the finger at one source -- the parents."

ROBERTS: And here's what Doris said, "I just finished a seminary course that focused on ministering to children at risk around the world. Little attention was paid to ministering at risk American children during the course. Thank you T.J. for using the power of CNN to incite some African Americans like me who somehow escaped the 'hood to do something for our young. It is way past time for us to take action on their behalf."

We want your comments on all of our stories. Just head to

And now, 29 minutes after the hour, here are some of your top stories this morning.

First, breaking news, the US weapon of choice for fighting and killing al Qaeda reportedly hacked into by insurgents. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that they tapped into unmanned US drones with software that cost only $26 and is available to anyone on the internet.

We're working our sources in the Pentagon this morning. We'll have the latest on that story for you.

CHETRY: Still, the U.S. military is planning to add more drones to its fleet while expanding video surveillance over Afghanistan. New technology in the MQ-9 reaper drones can collect 10 separate video transmissions and then beam them back to as many as 10 different users on the ground.

Now, officials are not saying how many they'll bring in or when they'll be deployed.

ROBERTS: And here's something you probably never heard before. The number of nearsighted Americans is increasing dramatically. The national eye institute report 41 percent of Americans now have trouble seeing things in the distance, that compares to 25 percent in the 1970s. Experts say one cause may be people spending so much time in front of their computer.

I know that's when my eyes started to go.

Right now, leaders from around the world are jetting to Copenhagen for the final hours of the 193-nation climate change conference. Ideally, negotiators said ahead of them would have some kind of framework for an agreement in place, but that's far from the case. This conference is dead locked at the moment.

Joining me now from Copenhagen is Bryan Walsh. He is an environmental columnist for "Time" magazine.

Brian, great to see you.

President Obama is going to be headed to Copenhagen tonight. I guess, the intention was to break the stalemate and come home with an agreement. Can he do that?

BRYAN WALSH, ENVIRONMENTAL COLUMNIST, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, it's going to be a real challenge. Things here are dead locked. We've not seen the progress we wanted to see here. There was really hope that you would actually have the ministers and the sub-global negotiators get a text ready. Basically have the heads of state just be able to sign off on it. Now you have major areas of disagreements, 92 different bracketed areas where countries can't agree. And that's going to be a lot to ask Obama and the other leaders to try to fix that, really, in the matter of little more than a day.

ROBERTS: And now we're hearing that Chinese officials are saying today there is no hope for any kind of broad agreement. Maybe we'll have some sort of statement coming out tomorrow.

What's the problem with China?

WALSH: Well, with China and the U.S., the real disagreement here is the issue of transparency. Basically, the United States wants China to take on climate actions and to take pledges to cut carbon versus business as usual over the future. And they wanted to be able to know that China is really doing that. They want a transparent monitoring system in place. China has been very clear about not accepting that, basically. They see that domestic pledges on their own should be enough. They don't see why you need to bring an international system into placed.

And Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, who has just gave a press conference here has been very clear that whenever the United States will do, transparency has to be a part of it. In the absence of it, it's really hard to see how you will have a more comprehensive deal.

ROBERTS: So that's one area of disagreement. But there is another big sticking point there. The conference is well -- a rift between the developing world and industrialized nations.

What's that all about?

WALSH: Well, that's really been the essence of the problems with the climate change summit going back years now. Developing countries want developed nations to take very strong emissions cuts because they view themselves both not as the cause of this problem but also the ones who will suffer the most. Rich countries, especially the U.S., have been reluctant to take those really deep emissions cuts.

At the same time, developed nations won a great deal in climate financing to help them adapt to climate change, help them grow in a lower carbon way. Developed nations are pushing that forward. In fact, Secretary Clinton just said that they'll be aiming to get $100 billion by 2020 in terms of climate financing. While it helps a lot, developing nations are still asking for more.

ROBERTS: There don't seem to be many people, Bryan, here at Copenhagen happy about anything. Bryan -- Carter Roberts from the world wildlife fund said this yesterday, quote, "After a long and challenging week, we woke up in this cold and snowy morning to discover that during the overnight sessions, negotiators for the United States raising a raft of legal technicalities have reduced what should be a strong agreement text into mush.

Is this whole thing falling apart?

WALSH: It does seem that way, and it has been a very difficult two weeks here for the negotiators, for the media, for activists, for everyone. From the logistics down to the protests outside. And now it seems as if you're getting near the deadline and then you still have so much left to do.

On the other side, of course, is this seems to happen at virtually every major climate summit. Things always seem darkest right before the end, and then some break through is possible. So it's entirely possible that we could see a change over the next day and a half, but again, that's going to be a real long shot.

ROBERTS: Bryan, you mention the protests there. The drama not limited to what's going on inside the negotiations. There's a lot going on outside as well.

What's the mood like there?

WALSH: Well, the mood is unhappy, basically. I mean, you had some fairly large scale protests yesterday. They were met with a great deal of force by the police outside the Bella Center here in Copenhagen. And then, NGO groups, naturalist groups are very upset that their access to the center has been severely restricted over the last -- this day and tomorrow as head of states arrive.

Really, there's only a couple hundred allowed here. And they view it as they are the watchdogs of this system, and they can't obviously watch unless they are. So I don't really know if there is anyone happy at Copenhagen right now.

ROBERTS: All right. You know, the president has made a point that he wants to commit the United States to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2020.

Is that something that he can get through Congress? Senator James Inhofe was suggesting yesterday that he can't.

WALSH: Well, it's going to be a serious challenge. I mean, we've seen that get pushed back and back. Senator John Kerry was here yesterday, and he was very confident. He said there's a 100 percent chance that they will pass something that will reduce carbon, although he didn't actually specify there would be cap and trade, nor did he say there would be a deadline.

Now Al Gore had been here before. He called on the U.S. Congress to pass this by the end of April at the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. But, frankly, we all know how the Senate works, and that's going to be a challenge. And that's something the negotiators here are very aware of. They know that Obama, frankly, is limited in what he can promise when it comes to Copenhagen because he does have to deal with Congress.

ROBERTS: So, Bryan, when all is said and done there at Copenhagen, do you think it's going to be a pass or a fail?

WALSH: Right now, it seems like fail is a bit more likely. You know, no one would want to make a prediction now because, again, you know, you can spend eight days here and then suddenly everything breaks in the final day. But it would have to take -- it was not a miracle exactly, but it would certainly take a bit of a long shot.

ROBERTS: All right. Bryan Walsh from "Time" magazine. Good to talk to you this morning. Thanks so much.

CHETRY: Thirty-five minutes past the hour.

An update on Italy's prime minister after he was attacked at a rally. Also, Cuban musicians come to the U.S. for the first time in years. Could this be a thawing of relations?

Thirty-six minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: It's 39 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We're bringing you the biggest stories with the global resources of CNN. And today it's a victory in the war on drugs. The Mexican navy says that the leader of a top drug cartel was killed in a shootout in an apartment complex in Mexico City. Now, the Justice Department considered the cartel chief one of the most powerful drug traffickers in Mexico.

ROBERTS: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi just released from a hospital in Milan. Doctors kept the 73-year-old leader an additional day after he experienced persistent pain and difficulty eating. On Sunday, Berlusconi was attacked during a public rally. His nose was fractured, and two of his teeth were broken. His alleged attacker is still in jail and has since apologized to the prime minister.

CHETRY: The U.S. envoy to North Korea speaking out about his trip to Pyongyang, where he encouraged a return to six-party talks. Steven Bosworth says any future negotiations must deal with the nation's uranium enrichment program. Back in September, North Korea admitted it has reached the final stage of uranium enrichment, giving the communist nation a way to build nuclear bombs.

Well, Cuban musicians are launching U.S. tours. And this is the first time this has happen in years. The Obama administration is encouraging these cultural exchanges as a way to improve ties with the country.

CNN is the only network with a permanent presence in Cuba. Shasta Darlington has the story in an "A.M. Original."


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cuban salsa band Charanga Habanera knows how to get hips moving. They pack in crowds across Cuba and soon they'll take the stage in Miami. The group's director, David Calzado, says it will be the first U.S. tour in nine years.

"We didn't go back for a lot of reasons," he says. "It's hard to understand because we're artists, and what we export to the world is art, warmth, that Cuban feeling."

Musicians on the communist-run island said they were denied U.S. visas under the Bush administration amid tightened travel restrictions after 9/11. When President Barack Obama took office, he vowed to recast relations with Cuba. Restrictions on cultural exchanges were eased.

"There's no doubt," he says, "now we feel like there's an opening and different tone." During the Bush years, Los Van Van were nominated four times for Latin Grammies, but couldn't get visas to attend. Now Cuba's hottest salsa band is planning a mega tour with 70 stops.


They say Miami-based pop star, Juanes, helped break the ice with his "Peace Without Borders" concert in Havana this summer, showing music could unite people despite political differences.

"It's like breaking a barrier that existed all these years," he said.

After that, Omara Portuond, the sultry voice of Buena Vista Social Club, not only attended but co-hosted the Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas.

(on camera): The political barriers may be coming down, but musicians say red tape makes it hard to book clubs. The U.S. diplomatic mission here approved Charanga Habanera Tour. But just days before their flight, they were still waiting for visas.

(voice-over): Still, once they land in Miami, the band anticipates fewer anti-Castro protests, thanks to a younger generation of Cuban-Americans who don't care about politics or isolating Cuba. And can't wait to get out on the dance floor.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Havana.


CHETRY: There you go. One salsa move at a time.

ROBERTS: It's great to see them coming out. I bought the Buena Vista Social Club CD when it first came out years ago. Ry Cooder, one of my favorite guitarist and singer produced it. So it's fabulous to see them coming up here.

CHETRY: Yes. All we need is their visas to come through.


CHETRY: Get moving.

ROBERTS: Yes. Let's hope because they're fabulous, fabulous musicians.

Reynolds Wolf is tracking the weather across the country. We've got lots of rain down in the south. You'll want to hear what he has to say coming right up.

Forty-three minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. That's a live look at Atlanta where it is 33 degrees. It's going to be 54 later, and partly sunny. It's 46 minutes past the hour, and we have a full national forecast just a minute away, but first in a.m. house called for you this morning, stories about your health.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is backing legislation that would require cell phone retailers to post radiation levels next to each phone they sell. The retailers also would have to explain what those levels mean, but it is important to note that there's no scientific consensus that cell phones post health hazards, and the FCC says any phones sold legally in the U.S. is safe to use. A web-based tool launches today that could help doctors predict whether or not patients are likely to suffer a second stroke. It uses risk factors to calculate the likelihood of a second stroke within three months of the first one. Studies show people who have a second stroke soon after their first one are more likely to die or suffer severe disability.

And a new study out today is the first to investigate what types of particles in pollution do the most harm to young children. Researchers say that small particles from traffic as well as heating oil combustion cause kids under two to wheeze and cough. Higher pollution levels have previously been linked to asthma symptoms, so hopefully, they'll be able to figure out which particulates are most harmful especially to younger kids.

ROBERTS: Yes, a big problem here in New York City where, of course, there's so much traffic and you know a lot of these buildings use heating oil as well.

It's 48 minutes after the hour. Reynolds Wolf is at the Weather Center in Atlanta. He is checking the extreme weather across the country. Big rain down in the south there -- Reynolds

WOLF: Yes, you know, it looks like that could be the case. We've been having flooding situations and release record rainfall in Brownsville, Texas and McAllen. Same thing to South Padre Island with that area of low pressure that's really been one of the big catalysts for the rain. It is going to move a little bit more to the East, and when it does so, it's going to bring some scattered showers to the Gulf Coast.

This time, though, the center of Texas more than likely the heaviest rainfall is going to be in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, back in Alabama, and even into Florida, and by the late afternoon, you might even have a rumble of thunder, so keep that in mind for all of our friends who are tuning for Mobile this morning.

Meanwhile, when we get to the nations, parts of the Eastern seaboard looks pretty good, but then in parts of New York, you've got the wind that's really going to kick in for place like Midtown, Manhattan in the afternoon with that temperatures actually warming up just in the 30s today. A little bit colder outside of New York in places like Buffalo. We could see scattered snow showers. Nothing too heavy, certainly not as heavy as last week, but still, nonetheless, we may have some scattered snow to be dealing with.

Nations midsection looks great, freezing for the Rockies. Pacific Northwest looks like a mix of a rain right in the low lying areas, especially on parts of the I-5 corridor, but up in the high hills of say the Sierra Nevada and back into say, of course, the Cascades and Northern Rockies, snow could be an issue for you but possibly some powder in parts of St. Bonner Springs (ph) never an issue; that's a good thing.

What's not going to be so good though is that wind causing some delays in New York metro airports, same in Philly and Boston; same headaches for you. New York and New Orleans, we're already telling you might have the thing getting the breezy conditions, but in New Orleans, the breeze is going to be caused mainly from some thunderstorms that may develop later on for the day, so look for some delays there, rain and low clouds.

San Francisco just had typical fog, boy, that's a big surprise in San Francisco. Low clouds could be an issue for you, but once you get away from the coast and from the bay area back towards Sacramento, it is a better day for you, no doubt. High sierra (ph) look after that slight chances of snowfall into the afternoon hours.

Now in terms of temperature, pretty nice day for you in parts of the Southeast Atlanta 55, Tampa and mid of Miami mainly in the 70s, 72 in Phoenix, 73 in Los Angeles, 59 in San Francisco up by 39, 43 in Kansas City outside Gulf State (ph) and then Chicago 35. That is a look at your forecast. John, let's kick it back to you in New York where the high is expected to be only in 30s. Stay warm.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll try. Thanks Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet.

CHETRY: So, it's the time of the year where they did the best gale every year pulls out the most memorable quotes of the year, so in 2009, we ended up being retried out of the most polarizing issue. The #1 quote of 2009, "keep your government hands off my Medicare" at the top of the university list; that, by the way, came from a town hall speaker in the South Carolina.

ROBERTS: The number two of the year was, "we're going to be in the Hudson" and in seconds later, Captain Sullenberger was, along with everyone on U.S. airways flight 1549 thankfully all in one piece, though.

CHETRY: Yes that really was amazing. He said do you want to try to win a teeter burl (ph), we're going to be on the Hudson.

How about this one, there's an act for that, that was third. The Congress Joe Wilson shouting you lie to President Obama and also be that President Obama saying the Cambridge police acted stupidly which then lead to his beer summit.

ROBERTS: So, you pulled up to a parking lot, you get out of the car, you put the valets keys, and then what happens? Wait until you see what Jeanne Moos found out. Nine minutes now at the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A night on the town usually begins by you hang over your keys to a valet center.

CHETRY: Yes, especially, if it's New York, but do you really know what that complete stranger is doing while you're enjoying your dinner? This one may make you cringe. Here's Jeanne Moos. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you park, this is how you want the attendant to drive your car? But this is how it was done, at a St. Louis garage, at a Hyatt hotel, no less; it was like valet choreography; valet cinematography.

Under the name valet underground, it was posted on YouTube, got rubber, and then later removed, ut it's hard to remove this from your mind.

MOOS (on-camera): It's enough to give you have the dreaded valet phobia.

MOOS (voice-over): Like in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the attendant took the car.

Then took it for a joyride. Pretty soon it was airborne. Now, we saw no airborne cars at the Hyatt garage, and the valet parking company in-charge there at that time has since been replaced, though apparently not on account of this. It turns out there are similar valet stunts on YouTube. This one is entitled don't tip a dollar at Yankee Stadium.

Actually, Tom Cortese (ph) believes it. Back in his college days, he used to valet park in Washington, D.C.

TOM CORTESE, FMR. VALET ATTENDANT: Except the guys I worked with were either drunk or high.

MOOS: And those guys sometimes took the cars for joyrides out on the highway.

CORTESE: One of our guys actually hit a person, smacked right into a pedestrian.

MOOS: Tom's advice?

CORTESE: Ever since I valet park, I tell all my friends and family, just don't do it.

MOOS: But if you do, check the mileage before and after, and tip.

So $5 ensured that there was no joyride?

CORTESE: That's right.

MOOS: That's five bucks per attendant on duty.

CORTESE: It's extortion.

MOOS: Or maybe distortion. Tom remembers one valet...

CORTESE: ... who had eaten mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms before driving a car, and that I can't even begin to imagine what the hell that's like.

MOOS: We can only imagine that mushrooms and doughnuts don't mix.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: Wow. Makes you want to take a cab, huh?

ROBERTS: Yes, you know, if you -- I guess one of those was at Yankee Stadium.

CHETRY: You're right.

ROBERTS: Where they have a big parking lot, but if you park downtown, there's no hope in doing that because the cars are like this.

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: Some of them are on elevator.

CHETRY: Oh, I know. They can do other things. My friend said that should come in her battery would always be dead because they sit in there and listen to sports on her satellite radio. She always wondered why she needed a jump every time she came back the other car.

ROBERTS: The custody case in Brazil, Shawn Goldman, this thing has been going on for five years. David Goldman is on his way down to Brazil as we speak. He hopes to be able to pick up his son and bring him back to the United States, but it's not quite yet a done deal. We'll get that plus all the top stories coming your way in 90 seconds. It's three minutes now to the top of the hour.