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Georgians Skeptical of Provincial Cease-Fire; Oil Unaffected by Russian Strife; Kidnappings in Mexico Rise Dramatically
Aired August 12, 2008 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: A plan for peace, but few signs of anything but war in the devastated Republic of Georgia.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The diplomatic blitz hits Moscow, the president of Russia saying the fighting has served its purpose, but ending it comes with conditions.
Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon at our international desk. You can see the reporters working on their stories here. Our producers are working their sources on the ground. I'm at the international desk.
I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
If you really want to know the situation that's happening in Georgia, you have tuned into the right place. You can see our international desk at our world headquarters working the story. This is -- take a look -- that is Errol (ph), our new Internet iReporter for CNN-I. He is working on a report, checking out iReports coming in from Georgia and the rest of our team working.
It is not exactly peace, but a provincial cease fire. That's what they're calling it. That's how the president of France, that's how he is describing the state of affairs between Russia and Georgia, its neighbor, five days into this war that we have been talking about.
Here's what we know right now. We want to tell you the president of Russia declared a halt to Russian attacks claiming, quote, "The aggressor," and the aggressor, that's meaning Georgia, he says, "has been punished," but Georgians say the shooting and the bombing, well, they have kept on.
A short time later the president of France representing the European Union, he arrived in Moscow, and the two leaders announced a six-point plan to end the fighting, return Russian and Georgian troops to their pre-war positions and refer the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to international review.
It is not entirely clear what all of that means. And Russia also wants the Georgian president to step down. But at a huge rally today in Tbilisi, thousands of Georgians showed he still has their support, of course. And our CNN Frederik Pleitgen, he is in the Georgian capital. He has been following this story for us in the very beginning.
We want to know: is it peace, is it war, or is it something in between, Frederik?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's still a very good question, Don. A lot of the people here in Tbilisi, Georgia, say they do not trust what the Russian government has been saying, saying that Russian forces have stopped their operations here in Georgia.
And you're absolutely right. There was a massive demonstration of about 50,000 people here in the Georgian capital earlier today, many of them waving Georgian flags, saying that they wanted to demonstrate for their country and in support of their country's leadership.
Of course, that leadership, President Mikheil Saakashvili, has been under immense fire from the Russian government. The Russian government saying they do not trust this Georgian leader. The Georgian leader himself came out with a very, very strong response. Let's listen in to what he has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: It's very clear to demonstrate to the world they could care less about world reaction, to continue to cripple the country. They clearly articulate their regime change objective. This is not about presidency of Georgia or something. This is about killing the freedom and the independence of this country and scaring all the others around us.
Well, I think our message to them is: no matter what they do, no matter how much they bomb us, no matter how they want to cripple us and undermine us, we are not going to give up our freedom, and Georgia will never surrender.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: And Don, right now in the evening hours here in Tbilisi, there is another demonstration going on in the center of town at the Parliamentary Square. Several thousand people appear to be at that demonstration right now, and there are people holding speeches now.
You said earlier, it is still the question, is this really peace? Certainly, the Georgian authorities are telling us they believe that it is not quite yet. They say, even after the Russians made that announcement that they were going to end their military operations here in Georgia, they say several Georgian villages were bombed, and they also say that some of their troops in Abkhazia region were attacked -- Don.
LEMON: All right, Frederik Pleitgen. Thank you very much for that. And as we stand here at the international desk just listening to Errol Barnett's (ph) report to me, the iReports that he's getting, he's saying there's still a lot of fear, of course, in Georgia. And he's hearing from people there about that, people on the ground, people who live there. He's also hearing from people who have fleed (sic) to nearby Armenia. We'll check with him in just a little bit about more iReports, and we'll bring you more right here in the CNN NEWSROOM -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Well, Don, you know, Georgia doesn't produce much oil, but a whole lot of it crosses Georgia's territory on its long and winding route from east to west. So are oil markets panicking over this war? CNN's Ali Velshi is tracking the trading. He's in New York.
Ali, what are you seeing?
ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: In fact, we're not having much of a reaction to -- in the price of oil to what's going on. And I'll explain that to you, but part of it is that there's been such downward pressure on the price of oil that it may be that it's just being negated by that pressure.
Let me explain to you on this map what's going on here. Georgia, which you can see in the green, is between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. Now, there's not much oil, as you said, in Georgia, but there is in the Caspian Sea and in those countries around it, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan. So that oil goes to Bakku in Azerbaijan, that little star on the end of the Caspian Sea. And it goes through four pipelines to different places.
The top one through Russia into the Black Sea. The red line goes to a Georgian port on the Black Sea, and the green line goes down to Turkey where that oil goes to the Middle East and to European countries.
British Petroleum, BP, leads the consortium of western countries that run three of those pipelines, and they have shut them all down now. Two of them were shut down this morning. One of them, this big green which that goes through Azerbaijan, through Georgia into Turkey and out to the Middle East, that actually, Brianna, got shut down last week because Kurdish rebels had attacked that pipeline. It had caught fire, and it was shut down. So most of the oil that goes through Georgia wasn't getting through anyway.
BP has said that none of the pipelines that it manages in that part of the world have been attacked or are damaged. Other than that situation in Turkey, which happened last week. They say they are shutting down the pipelines out of caution because of the spreading that Fred was just referring to. They are worried about it.
Now, at the moment, it's just a shutdown of the oil. Oil's not running through it. If there were to be damage to these pipelines, which by the way, are mostly underground, that would be a problem for the world, because it's about a million barrels of oil a day. That would -- that would affect our consumption of oil. I should tell you the world produces about 87 million barrels of oil a day, and we use about 85 million barrels of oil a day. So there's less than two million barrels spread, which is why, even though it's just about a million barrels of oil a day, it becomes a big deal in this environment.
I'm watching those oil prices. They're not going higher right now. We'll keep a close eye on it, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Ali. We'll be checking in with you if anything changes.
LEMON: Thanks, Brianna, and Ali.
And before we move on, we want to give you just a little bit of geography here. Take a look at this.
The Republic of Georgia formally is part of the Soviet Union is a little bit bigger than West Virginia. Just a little bit bigger than West Virginia. A little bit smaller than South Carolina. It has 4.6 million people. That is comparable to Alabama, the number of people in Alabama.
The conflict is over two pro-Russian provinces that want independence from Georgia.
And make sure you stick with CNN throughout the afternoon here and also throughout the evening. You can see our international desk is working feverishly here to get you information on exactly what is going on to Georgia. Plus, we're going to break it down even more. What does this mean to you?
And one of our own staff members has family members over in that area. She has not heard from them so far. That's the last word that I got that she hasn't heard from them. Are they safe? Are they still alive? Are they in harm's way? We're going to talk to her at the bottom of the hour to see if she has spoken to them yet -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Some new details about a deadly plane crash this morning in Easton, Massachusetts. The plane was carrying a patient on an Angel Flight from West Hampton Beach, New York, to Boston. It went down in a grocery store parking lot, killing all three on board. The crash happened in an area, though, where people rarely park so no cars were hit.
Angel Flights, you may know provides free transportation for patients who need to travel for life-saving medical treatment.
A toddler starved to death because he wouldn't say amen at meals. That is what Baltimore police say happened here. Now that 2-year- old's mom is facing first-degree murder charges, but the grandmother says her daughter is not responsible. She says her daughter was just following orders from a religious sect.
Three other members of the group called One Mind Ministries are also facing murder charges in the child's death. A fifth man is charged but isn't in custody yet. And the remains of a small child were found in April inside of a suitcase. DNA tests still being done.
LEMON: A very sad story. Stunning twist in the case of a mystery dad jailed in Boston for allegedly kidnapping his own daughter.
Los Angeles investigators say the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller is really a German man, and his name is Christopher Gerhartsreiter. And they say he is the same man they call a person of interest in the disappearance of a California couple back in 1985. At the time, he was living in their guest cottage and using the name Christopher Chichester.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HRONES, ATTORNEY FOR "CLARK ROCKEFELLER": He's used aliases, but there's nothing wrong with using aliases, as long as you don't use it to defraud. You can call yourself anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did he call himself (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
HRONES: Well, he thought he was into -- aspiring to be an actor out there. You know, he was trying to get into the acting business. And he thought it was a more appropriate name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. That's what the attorneys are saying. Here's what police are saying. Said there's been no trace of the missing couple. Bones were found under their home nine years after they disappeared, and authorities are now trying to identify them.
Rockefeller's his so-called name. His lawyer says his client remembers bits and pieces of his life back then and has told him the missing couple simply moved on one day.
Well, right now he's focused on clearing his name on charges he staged the kidnapping of his young daughter last month.
KEILAR: Detroit's mayor remains free on bail. A judge has ruled that Kwame Kilpatrick did not violate conditions of his bond by spending time with his sister last weekend. She's listed as a potential witness in an assault case against him. And the mayor has been ordered not to have any contact with witnesses. The judge says that order does not include the sister.
LEMON: Well, there's a state of emergency in effect in Rensselaer, New York. That's across the Hudson River from Albany. Parts of the city were overwhelmed by flood waters yesterday. And people saw their cars floating down the streets, which were under several feet of water. The heavy rains and rising waters forced some families out of their homes. Hope it's getting better today. Our Chad Myers joins us now to tell us if there's more of a threat and if it's getting better for people in that part of New York state.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and drying out in New York, New Jersey, but not drying out here across the southeast. In fact, one tornado warning. This is for Eastern Kemper County in Mississippi, a storm there spinning near Dekalb in east central Mississippi now, moving on up into Alabama and eventually even into Georgia.
It's going to be kind of a very muggy and just rain-filled day across the southeast. It's the same rain that came across Oklahoma City, four to six inches of rain. Some spots could get 8.
Here's what happened when Oklahoma City exceeded their record rainfall for the day yesterday. They got -- they had the day cleaning up, 4.62 inches officially at the airport. But many areas actually picked up more than that in Oklahoma City and a lot of people were driving through it. When you see those puddles, you have to slow down, because that's when you start to lose complete control of your car.
Now back to the maps. One more thing we have to worry about. I think we probably have the Tropical Storm Fay in the works out here in the middle of the Atlantic. The hurricane hunter aircraft going out here right now. They haven't found anything yet, but it is still at least potentially strong enough to be the next storm, F-A-Y, of the year -- Don.
LEMON: All the Fays I know are usually nice people.
LEMON: They name these storms, and they're ferocious, but they have these little nice names.
MYERS: We'll see.
LEMON: All right. We'll check back. Thank you, sir.
KEILAR: A robbery suspect punched and kicked by police. The shocking scenes caught on tape after a pharmacy robbery. Is this a clear case of excessive force? Or were the officers justified? We'll find out what authorities in Florida are saying about it.
LEMON: Well, take a look at this tiny Chinese girl. She won the heart of her nation at the opening of the Beijing Olympics. But did she really deserve this honor? We will tell you what's going on.
KEILAR: The energy crunch. While Republican lawmakers keep up their push for more off-shore oil drilling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi softens her stance a bit.
LEMON: All right. Time now to talk "America Votes 2008," and in the battle for the Oval Office, Republican John McCain is campaigning for a third straight day in Pennsylvania. On his schedule, a town- hall meeting in York. This evening, McCain flies to New Jersey to raise money for his campaign.
It's not all R&R for Barack Obama, though, as he vacations in Hawaii, though. The Democratic candidate has a fundraiser later today in Honolulu, where he spent much of his childhood.
KEILAR: After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi softens her stance on more offshore oil drilling, Republicans on Capitol Hill step up their pressure for a vote on the issue.
GOP lawmakers gathered again this morning at the Capitol to protest over the stalled energy bill. They're meeting after a slight reversal by Pelosi. Last night she told CNN's Larry King that she'd be open to a vote on offshore drilling if it were part of a larger energy package. Until now, Pelosi had been dead set against a vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have this thing that says drill offshore in the protected areas. Well, we can do that. We can have a vote on that, but it has to be part of something that says we want to bring immediate relief to the public and not just a hoax on them.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Would you vote yes on a package that includes drilling?
PELOSI: I would not -- it depends on how the drilling is put forth. But that is not excluded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, at this morning's Republican protest, this reaction to the House speaker's comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LYNN WESTMORELAND (R), GEORGIA: She's elected by the San Francisco mentality. And I think most of the American people, no matter whether you live in Ohio, North Carolina, Minnesota, or Georgia, or wherever would understand that her constituency is a little left of where this country is.
REP. LEE TERRY (R), NEBRASKA: Well, last night when I heard that the speaker said she was at least open to bringing some drilling bill, my first one was one of lack of sincerity. I don't know if I could trust that we're going to have that happen. But I'll take her at her word. We need a bill. Why wait?
(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Pelosi says any vote would need to include investing in renewable energy resources and releasing oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to drive down gas prices.
LEMON: And speaking of Nancy Pelosi, she faces a challenge from a symbol of the anti-war movement. We're talking about Cindy Sheehan, whose oldest son was killed in Iraq. She's qualified to run as an independent in the November election. She insists Pelosi has failed the country by refusing to cut off funding for the war.
A spokesman for Pelosi says the speaker welcomes a challenge and has the highest respect for Sheehan.
KEILAR: The CNN Election Express is rolling its way toward Denver, where Democrats gather for their convention less than two weeks from now. And in the 3 p.m. Eastern hour, CNN's Tom Foreman is on the bus. And he'll be listening to what voters in the toss-up state of Ohio are saying.
LEMON: Pay a ransom, and you'd expect to get your loved one back and get them back safely. But a Mexico City gang is clearly playing by its on vicious rules.
KEILAR: Florida police officers on tape and under investigation. Four fast blows to the face, then kicked in the head. The man is handcuffed.
LEMON: We want to get you now to Condoleezza Rice, speaking out about the conflict in Georgia.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I was able to brief him on the ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Georgia.
I was earlier on the phone this morning with the foreign ministers of the G-7. And on that phone call, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France briefed us on the ongoing discussions between the French and the Russians as well as the French and the Georgians. I believe that they believe that they have made some progress. And we welcome that. And we certainly welcome the E.U. mediation.
It is very important now that all parties cease fire. The Georgians have agreed to a cease fire. The Russians need to stop their military operations, as they have apparently said that they will, but those military operations really do now need to stop, because calm needs to be restored. There then will be international efforts to facilitate the withdrawal of forces from the zone of conflict.
We can then look to the issue of how to resolve the long standing pros (ph) and conflicts of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I wanted to make very clear that the United States stands for the territorial integrity of Georgia, for the sovereignty of Georgia, that we support its democratically elected government and its people. We are reviewing our options for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Georgia.
But the most important thing right now is that these -- these military operations need to stop. We will continue to work diplomatically on this matter. And we'll continue our discussions with all of the parties involved.
Thank you very, very much.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you weighing any military options, U.S. military options?
LEMON: All right. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and perhaps one of the most important questions asked -- asked there at the end. Of course, the secretary of state did not answer that question. Is she weighing or the U.S. weighing any military options? That question was not answered. That's what everyone is asking here.
But again, the secretary of state saying that she has met with the president. They have talked about the situation. Also said that she is meeting with the prime ministers of the G-7, calling for diplomacy to take hold there. And also, peace. Everyone must stop the fighting there. She says the Russians should stop the military action. All parties should cease fire there.
And she said that they stand for -- the United States stands for the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Georgia. Again, did not say anything about the U.S. possibly getting involved.
We'll continue to update this developing story happening about the Russian conflict in Georgia as we get more information here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
KEILAR: Oil traders have had some big news to digest recently: everything from hurricanes to pipeline shut-downs today. But surprisingly, they're not sending oil prices up.
Susan Lisovicz on the floor of the New York stock exchange to explain this happy development or non-development, Susan.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Or contrary development from what we have commonly believed that these kind of -- this kind of news would send oil prices soaring.
You know, just remember that in June, the mere threat, Brianna, of an Israeli-Iranian conflict sent oil prices up $10 in one day. Right now, oil's down nearly a buck, trading at $113.50.
Why is that? Well, one analyst I spoke to says when you see the market receive this kind of news, the common perception should be one way and it goes the other, it is a telltale sign that a trend has been broken. And a dramatic trend. We've been seeing oil prices now down $35 in one month. It is a bear market.
And the consensus is -- a couple quick reasons: the recent strength in the dollar, which has an inverse relationship to oil prices; and then, of course, the dramatic decline in demand, not only here in the U.S., but in Europe, as well and recently in China. China may be a short-term trend because of the Olympics.
The International Energy Agency said today oil prices will continue to remain high, but it actually lowered its forecast by 1 percent for this year.
KEILAR: And any way to predict where they are ultimately going to go, Susan?
LISOVICZ: Well, one analyst I spoke to, Steven Schork, puts out an energy report every day. He says when a bubble has been broken, typically you'll see prices go back to where it began, where the big rally began.
So if you check out the chart from a year ago, you see that oil prices have doubled. And he says, yes, it's possible that we could see oil at $80 a barrel.
Now, another trader, a trader I spoke to said watch when oil hits $110 a barrel. That's a sensitive level. If it goes below that, you could get into the double digits.
But still another analyst I spoke to said oil will probably not go below $100 a barrel. Why is that? Because OPEC will curb production. Some new projects will be pulled back because of the slimmer profit margins. And finally, because some of us, a lot of us may revert to our old habits and start using a lot more gasoline.
What we're seeing on Wall Street today, a mixed market. The Dow Industrials are down 91, the NASDAQ -- no, the NASDAQ is down, as well. Oil prices are down, and airline stocks are up, benefiting from oil's dramatic slide.
In the next hour, Brianna, before you ask, we're going to be talking about mortgages. And we're going to be talking about financial stocks.
KEILAR: All right.
LISOVICZ: I'll leave it at that.
KEILAR: That affects a whole lot of people. OK, Susan, thanks. We'll see you in an hour.
LISOVICZ: You're welcome.
LEMON: Well, with the slow economy that Susan's been talking about and a lot of folks, as well, Americans are looking for ways to save cash, especially when it comes to travel. That's if you can afford to get away.
CNN.com has launched a special report on the American road trip. Veronica De La Cruz joins us now with the details on that.
OK, there is still some good news. People can get away economically now, Veronica?
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN.COM: Yes. You know, lots of people looking for ways to save money, especially when it comes to gas prices. And CNN.com has launched a special report called "American Road Trips." And one of the highlights, "Cody's Big Biofuel Adventure."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CODY MCCLOY, CNN PRODUCER: I definitely think that if you want to use biodiesel in particular, or any other biofuel, you can do it. It does take a lot of planning. I would suggest mapping out exactly where you're going ahead of time, calling those stations, make sure they're open. Make sure you know what times they're open and what kind of currency they accept. Some places only accept cash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA CRUZ: All right, so here's the deal, don. One of our producers, Cody McCloy, hit the road with another producer in this, their biofuel vehicle. And their goal was to drive across the country in two weeks. So what did they find?
Well, biodiesel, which is chemically modified vegetable oil, is not really readily available in many spots. So they kind of hit a couple of snags along the way, but it could still be a good alternative for the future.
You can get the details on Cody's trip by reading his blog.
Also you can read more about other alternative energy sources. You can log onto the Web, read an explainer, which breaks down the pros and cons between ethanol, biodiesel, propane and natural gas.
And we're asking you right now to vote in our Quick Vote. Big question, would you use biofuel in your vehicle? Yes? I'm interested. No, it's too much hassle, or maybe depending on price and availability. And Don, what do you think most people are saying at this point?
LEMON: I think it's probably maybe depending on availability. People like to stick to their -- you know, what they know. But they're afraid to try new things. I would say maybe.
DE LA CRUZ: Actually, the answer is yes. And only 16 percent are saying that it's too much of a hassle at this point.
No, look, you're right, you know, we're still a little bit away from this ever becoming a reality. But at least people are interested. That's the important thing. LEMON: Do you have tips on how to save money -- you're right about that -- on a last-minute vacation? Because that's how most people can get away. Last minute, you have a couple days off. And you take a trip.
DE LA CRUZ: That's right. Yes, well, it's called "Road Trip." That's the name of the special. And it's going to give you some good ideas when it comes to hitting the road for a last-minute summer vacation. There are some ideas, Don, for camping, for saving money when it comes to the pump, also for traveling with your kids. If you're going to take a trip with your kids.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta also has a couple of ways on how to avoid car sickness just in case you do decide to hit the road.
Again, you can find the report online at CNN.com/roadtrip -- Don.
LEMON: All right. We're looking forward to it. Thank you, Veronica. Good to see you.
DE LA CRUZ: Sure. Nice to see you.
KEILAR: Not good enough, a little girl kicked off of the Olympic stage because she just wasn't pretty enough.
KEILAR: Prospects for peace seem a little bit brighter in the world's newest war zone. But the damage in Georgia is done. Days after Russian troops pushed into a so-called break away Georgian province and then into another one day after they invaded Georgia proper. Russia's president says its southern neighbor has been punished and suffered very significant losses and from all indications, that is true.
Dmitry Medvedev also announced a halt to the fighting, though Georgians say it continues. And with the visiting president of France, he unveiled a six-point plan for peace, it calls for Russian and Georgian troops returning to their pre-war positions and international talks on the regions in dispute. Russian peace keepers who had been stationed there would stay. .
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIA (through translator): Our peace keepers continue to carry out their functions and they will carry out their functions because they are a key factor in ensuring security in the caucuses. And that is how it was and that is how it will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRANCE (through translator): We have not achieved peace yet, but we have achieved a provisional cease-fire of hostilities, which I think we will have to honestly admit is an important piece of progress. But we still have a lot of work to do. And what we want to do is achieve the best result.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: In any war, especially a new war, it's really hard to get an accurate picture of human -- of damage and human suffering. And we know both are substantial in Georgia. And Georgians living abroad are just heart sick, desperate for information from home. Nunu Japaridze is a CNN producer based in Washington.
You have actually have produced a number of my live shots when I report in Washington. And your entire family, aside from your husband and your kids, they are in Georgia. You're from Georgia. You just got through to them on the phone. What did you hear from them?
NUNU JAPARIDZE, CNN PRODUCER: I just talked to my father and my entire family have attended the peaceful rally in the center of Tbilisi, which is the capital of Georgia. And they were more hopeful today than they were yesterday.
They're hoping that there'll be an end to this violence. All of the Georgians that I talk to feel that their country has been invaded and occupied. So they are just desperate for help and they are devastated. I can hear fear when I talk to my friends back home. I can feel that they're scared, they're shocked. They can't believe what's happening to their own country.
KEILAR: Your family has been panicked, at least at times as you've gotten through to them.
JAPARIDZE: Yes, they have. They actually used to live right outside Tbilisi in a little town called (INAUDIBLE). And they fled the house, and they went to Tbilisi because they were scared that that place would be bombed.
And they don't feel safe in Tbilisi. They're actually very scared that Russians would bomb the capital.
KEILAR: And they are only -- you were saying -- they're about 70 kilometers, so roughly 40 miles, from Gori where there has been Russian incursion. So this isn't very far off.
They're seeing these bombings, right? It's not so far that -- they can see these things.
JAPARIDZE: My friends and family can actually hear the Russian jets flying over Tbilisi, not right now, I want to make sure that they're telling you right now it's all peaceful and quiet in Tbilisi itself. But when the fighting started, they could hear the Russian jets flying over Tbilisi. They could see the smoke coming out of (INAUDIBLE) right outside Tbilisi. So they could see and feel everything that was going on.
KEILAR: So you said they're more hopeful today. Russian President Medvedev has said there's no plan for Russia to attempt to annex Georgia, but is that a concern that your family has, that Russian troops will come into Tbilisi? JAPARIDZE: My family and all of my friends think that that's a plan. They don't believe that South Ossetia and Abkhazia is even relevant in this conflict anymore. They think that it's all about Russia invading Georgia and it's all about going back to the Soviet days. That's the kind of spirit (ph) I see and I feel when I talk to my friends back home.
KEILAR: All right, well, we're thinking of your family.
JAPARIDZE: Thank you for that.
KEILAR: This must be a very difficult time for them.
Nunu, thanks for chatting with us. Appreciate it.
JAPARIDZE: Thank you, my pleasure.
LEMON: Absolutely glad everyone is OK over there, Nunu.
Now the vicious gang kidnapping, in another story, and the murder of a teenage boy jilted even crime-weary Mexico. There has been a surge in abductions lately.
But as CNN's Harris Whitbeck reports, the problem has been years in the making.
HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pedro Galindo says that when his kidnappers chopped off one of his fingers, the pain was excruciating.
PEDRO GALINDO, KIDNAPPING VICTIM (through translator): They injected anesthetic, but didn't wait very long for it to take effect. The next week their bosses came to me and said, your family doesn't want to pay so we're going to have to send them another one.
WHITBECK: Pedro's wife, Maria Elena, still shutters when she recalls being told where she could find her husband's severed finger.
MARIA ELENA MORERA, MEXICANS UNITED AGAINST CRIME (through translator): I felt my heart just rip open. I can't describe the anguish I felt imagining Pedro's suffering.
WHITBECK: After 29 days, Pedro was rescued from his kidnappers, but not before losing three other fingers. Seven years later, he and his wife still devote their time to Mexicans United Against Crime, a citizen's group that tries to pressure the Mexican government into doing more to stop kidnapping, which recently has been on the upswing.
MORERA (through translator): We want a specific political (INAUDIBLE) to occur between the president and all 32 (INAUDIBLE) of Mexico to commit to reducing the rate of kidnapping in Mexico.
WHITBECK: And the crimes go beyond kidnapping. Two months ago, a teenager from a wealthy Mexico City family was kidnapped on this busy street in plain daylight, grabbed from a car at a fake police check point. The next day, his driver and body guard were found, bound and strangled in the trunk of a car.
(on camera): Next to their bodies, police found a small, yellow chrysanthemum, a calling card from a gang known as the Band of Flowers. Some investigators believe it was a coded message to police, saying, don't investigate too closely, we're police too.
(voice-over): But there was no sign of the boy, 14-year-old Fernando, Marti (ph). His family hired a private investigator and paid a ransom, reportedly millions of dollars. And then two weeks ago, the teenager's body was found also stuffed into a car trunk. Two police officers and one civilian are already in custody, accused of involvement in the kidnapping and murder.
The public outcry has been intense. In just two days, a Facebook group calling for a protest march in several Mexican cities gathered 54,000 members. Citizens' groups say kidnapping is on the rise again because there has been little effective government response.
JUAN FRANCISCO TORRES LANDA, MEXICANS UNITED AGAINST CRIME: Of 100 crimes, about one or two are effectively prosecuted. So the perception out in the street, for both criminals and the society as a whole, is that it really pays to commit crimes.
WHITBECK: On Monday, federal and city prosecutors announced the creation of a nationwide task force on kidnappings. The mayor said he would spend $10 million to fund a rewards program and create an investigative police unit to deal exclusively with kidnapping cases. Security experts say authorities also have to target criminals' cash.
EDGARDO BUSCAGLIA, SECURITY EXPERT: The state is not dismantling organized crime groups through confiscation of assets, freezing of assets, first. The Financial Intelligence Unit is not cooperating with the police and prosecutors effectively.
WHITBECK: According to the Mexico City prosecutors' office, kidnappings rose 76 percent in the first four months of the year compared to last year. The real increase may be even greater because victims won't report crimes to a police force they don't trust.
Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Mexico City.
KEILAR: They say he spit on them. Police officers respond to a handcuffed man with fists and feet. The video that everyone's talking about today.
LEMON: Also, put the kabosh, some people say ka-bosh, on the buzz saw in the bed next to you. New help to stop snoring.
LEMON: South Dakota is becoming a new focal point in the abortion debate. The state's November 4th ballot contains a referendum on a measure that would ban most abortions. Opponents say it would be one of the most rigid and inflexible bans in the country. They worry about the impact it could have on Roe versus Wade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH STOESZ, PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF MINN., N.D., & S.D.: Nowhere in America is abortion harder to access than in the state of South Dakota. And while South Dakota accounts for only .1 percent of abortions nationwide, it has a potentially disproportionate, powerful effect on public policy in our country because of the attempts in South Dakota to create a vehicle to overturn Roe versus Wade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Two years ago, South Dakotans rejected a stricter law banning abortions in their state.
The abortion issue isn't at the top of the list of voter concerns this year, but it is still a big emotional issue that matters to a lot of Americans. Here's where the two major presidential candidates stand on this issue.
Democrat Barack Obama is against any constitutional amendment to overturn Roe versus Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Republican John McCain says it must be overturned.
Obama disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
McCain supports the high court's decision.
KEILAR: Well, drinking milk could play a big role in how long you live. In a new study by John Hopkins' School of Medicine, researchers found that people with Vitamin D deficiency actually had a higher risk of death. In fact, people with low levels of it were 26 percent more likely to die than those higher levels. Vitamin D can be found in milk, salmon, tuna, also in fortified cereals and juices. And you can also get Vitamin D by spending time soaking up the sun, but doctors recommend that only in small doses.
LEMON: All right. Well chances are if you haven't been kept awake by it, your snoring is keeping your partner from getting some much needed Zs. But there are new ways to stop all this noise. Our medical correspondent, Ms. Elizabeth Cohen, joins us now with what is new out there to stop snoring.
When I grew up, every single person in my house snored but me. I don't think I snored --
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And could you hear them? Did they keep you up?
LEMON: I could hear -- it drove me crazy. My room was next to my sister's, I could hear her snoring. And I'd say, shut up, I'd turn the fan on.
COHEN: To drown her out?
COHEN: Well, you should tell your sister --
COHEN -- that there is actually help out there.
LEMON: I'm in trouble now.
COHEN: Yes, you're already in trouble. I know you don't live with her anymore.
But you might want to tell her, or tell anyone in your life who snores, there are actually things that you can do. There are some really interesting new procedures out there, a lot of people don't know about them. They're a little bit -- well -- funky, I'll have to say. Wait until you hear about them.
First of all, a doctor can go into your soft pallet, that's that soft area way in the back of your throat and put some implants in there, little tiny implants. And believe it or not, that can help you stop snoring.
They can also, get this, inject the back of your tongue with radio frequency waves. Yes, they really -- people are really doing this. And what it does, is it kind of makes the back of your tongue smaller. Snoring is all about getting a lot of air back there. When the airway becomes sort of compromised, that's when people stop snoring.
And you know what? Snoring is not just an issue of gee, my spouse is keeping me up. Also, people who snore also often have sleep apnea, and sleep apnea can be a very dangerous condition.
LEMON: What are those things -- Scotty (ph), can we get that full screen back? What are those things that you said -- they are injections?
COHEN: Injections in the back of your throat that inject radio frequency waves and that can help shrink -- I'm sorry, the back of your tongue. And believe it or not, it's an outpatient procedure. You're in and out in an hour. It's done with local anesthetic. I know that sounds crazy.
LEMON: I was just looking at those things, thinking, man, you must be a really serious snorer in order to do that. But what if you're not that heavy of a snorer, what things can you do on your own without going to the doctor?
COHEN: Right. There are some things you can do on your own if you don't want to get shots into the back of your tongue. First of all, don't sleep on your back. Always a bad idea. That will make you snore more. Avoid alcohol, that can also increase snoring. And this, really, we should make this No. 1, lose weight. We had a doctor tell us, I've seen patients just with a 15-pound weight gain and that alone can start them snoring.
But you know, those other things that I mentioned, you don't have to be a horrific snorer to get those. You should talk to your doctor about it. So those things sound very dramatic, but really it's an outpatient procedure.
Now, to switch gears here for a minute, I want to talk about something really interesting we are doing later.
LEMON: OK. I'm listening.
COHEN: There you go. I know you like to travel, we all like to travel abroad, but we also know you can get all sorts of crazy diseases when you travel to other countries. We want to hear your travel sickness stories. I don't mean getting car sick on the road trip to the beach, I mean when you traveling outside of the U.S. E- mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our column this week is going to be all about how to avoid getting sick abroad, or what to do if you do get sick abroad. We want to hear your stories and we want to help you.
LEMON: Let me tell you mine.
COHEN: Not fit for air, right?
LEMON: (INAUDIBLE) story?
COHEN: Yes. That's right.
LEMON: Thank you, Elizabeth.
KEILAR: I'll be e-mailing my travel sickness story later. Not good, not good.
A twitch of the nose, a wave of the wand, and poof, you're invisible. Scientists say what you see in the movies is not as farfetched as you might think.
KEILAR: Shocking new video from Florida shows a handcuffed suspect kicked and punched by police.
Al Palfrey has the story, he's with CNN affiliate WPEC in West Palm Beach.
AL PALFREY, WPEC REPORTER (voice-over): The incident started with this armed hold-up at a CVS Pharmacy in West Palm Beach. A guy wearing a scarf over his face, armed with pepper spray, demands oxycodone. He gets two bottles, worth about $80, but he doesn't get very far. Moments later outside the drugstore, he was nabbed by a policeman who happened to be in the area.
Surveillance video from a squad car camera show the armed robber, Pablo Valenzuela, handcuffed on the ground, being kicked by two West Palm Beach police officers, Louis Schwartz (ph) and Kurt Graham (ph). And then a few minutes later after he's on his feet, you can see another police officer, Jason Zangarra (ph) punches him a number of times in the face. According to the police report, Zangarra punched the guy because he spit at him. And Officer Zangarra didn't want him to continue spitting, fearing he might have some sort of disease that he could get.
The police chief says all three officers went too far and used excessive force.
CHIEF DELSA BUSH, WEST PALM BEACH POLICE: To see this actually happens, obviously I'm not pleased with it at all. We are held at a much higher standard than anyone else.
PALFREY: As for Graham and Schwartz, the two West Palm Beach officers who kicked the man when he was on the ground, Schwartz wrote in the arrest report, they did it because they were trying to prevent the man from biting them.
Also, before he was caught, Schwartz says the suspect fired pepper spray at him.
BUSH: When you mix all this volatile stuff together, then, you know, emotions run high and it's possible for something like this to happen. But this agency just can't tolerate it.
PALFREY: Valenzwela suffered a cut over his left eye and had four stitches. The police report says he apologized for his actions and told investigators he's had a drug addiction for a long time.
KEILAR: One of those officers involved in that beating has resigned and the other two are on administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation.
LEMON: You're not going to believe this next story. But, Chinese officials send an impostor into the Olympic spotlight. The decision was apparently made by this, Brianna -- on a little girl's face value.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: Half a world away in Beijing, Olympians are resting up for another day of competition. So, let's a look and see how things went today on the medal board. And, hey! There you go. Team USA moving from No. 2 into the top spot.
America's athletes have racked up a total of 22 medals so far. Host nation China just behind though, with 20. And they've actually snagged a bunch more gold medals. South Korea next with 12 medals and the Aussies fourth. with 10 medals. Three countries have scored nine medals.
And accounting for almost half of America's gold rush all by himself. Do I even need to say his name? Michael Phelps, Don, stop fanning me. The swimmer took his third race and third world record of the games, zooming to a win in the 200 meter freestyle today. So far, so good in his hunt for a record, eight Beijing golds.
LEMON: I just know you have been glued to the results.
KEILAR: I have been, yes.
LEMON: And watching a lot of this. So, that's why I'm fanning you. Nothing more, nothing less.
China has worked diligently to put its best face forward for these Olympics. But who knew that would mean a brazen switch-a-roo at the opening ceremony.
CNN's John Vause reports.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The defining moment for modern China: A national celebration and one little girl Yang Peiyi, was heard, but not seen. Apparently because of her appearance and stage presence.
Games organizers confirmed to CNN during the opening ceremony, Young's voice was used by another little girl. Lin Miaoke was mouthing the words to "Ode to the Motherland," as China flag entered the stadium. The opening ceremonies musical director explained why on Beijing radio.
The reason was for the national interest, he says. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression. Lin Miaoke, he went on to say, is excellent in those aspects. The decision he says, went as high as the Politburo. We had to do it. We had been through several inspections, they're all very strict. When we rehearsed at the spot, there were spectators from various divisions, actually leaders from the Politburo, who gave the opinion it must change, he says.
Few here realize that Lin was lip-synching. "Tiny singer wins the heart of nation" is the headline in Tuesday's "China Daily." "Lin Miaoke might only be nine years old but she is already well on her way to becoming a star thanks to her heart warming performance," the article gushes. Without mentioning she never sang a note.
But, as word gets out on the Internet, some Chinese bloggers are outraged. "If you're not good looking, no matter how good you sing, you will not be on stage. Do you know you're twisting a whole generation," read one comment. "If foreigners found out, they'd think we can't even find a girl who's good at both," read another.
(on camera): As for seven year-old Yang Peiyi, she reportedly says that she's just honored to have had a role in the opening ceremony in the first place. Even though few here realize just how big her part really was.
John Vause, CNN, Beijing.