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Haiti's Misery: Series of Storms Slam Country; Al Qaeda's Chief in Pakistan Killed; Libya's Black Gold: An American Solution?

Aired September 09, 2008 - 14:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A safer Iraq means fewer U.S. troops and the opposite goes for Afghanistan. President Bush announces what may be his last major decision in the wars that he launched.
And if you come across this man in khaki, well, let us know. North Korea's dear leader hasn't been seen in a month. And Washington has a theory.

If Hurricane Ike strikes Texas, right now that's a big if, these buses are ready. We'll see what Ike is up to, what it has already done and where it may be headed.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. And you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Return on success. President Bush's term for a partial and gradual drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq. As you may have seen live here on CNN, Mr. Bush today announced a net cut of roughly 8,000 troops between now and February, at which point the new president will be calling the shots. That number includes a Marine battalion from Anbar Province, once the heart of the Sunni insurgency.

Now Afghanistan is a different story. The trend there is less stable, more violent, requiring more U.S. and NATO forces. Take a listen.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These troops increases have made a difference, yet huge challenges in Afghanistan remain. This is a vast country. And unlike Iraq, it has few natural resources. It has an underdeveloped infrastructure. It's democratic institutions are fragile. It's enemies are some of the most hardened terrorists and extremists in the world.


PHILLIPS: Now, almost 31,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan. Today Mr. Bush wants to add about 4,500.

So what do Iraqis think about fewer U.S. forces in their future? CNN's Arwa Damon is Baghdad, and you've been there a long time.

What's the reaction, Arwa?

(AUDIO GAP) PHILLIPS: All right. We apologize. We're not able to -- we're going to have try and link up with Arwa's audio there for a second. We'll get that fixed and come back to you with more from her out of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, you know these two guys have a lot to say about President Bush's latest war plan. We're going to have reaction from the presidential candidates later this hour.

And after barreling through the Caribbean, it looks like Hurricane Ike may be headed to Texas now. That storm, now a Category 1, is expected to soon move away from Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico. Its projected path right now would take it into the central or southern Texas coast by the end of the week, and with evacuations likely, emergency supplies are already being shipped to the region.


PHILLIPS: Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna, for Haiti the list just goes on. And all of those storms and more have battered the Western Hemisphere's poorest country this summer.

CNN's Karl Penhaul is in one of the hardest-hit cities.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cut off from the outside, awash with filthy sludge and floodwater, the Haitian city of Gonaives is still counting its dead from back-to-back killer storms.

(on camera): The only way into the city right now is either by sea or by air. And we've managed to hitch a ride on one of the United Nations helicopters. (INAUDIBLE) ... bringing fresh drinking water (INAUDIBLE) a lot of people have been left without shelter.

(voice-over): This disaster has destroyed what little these already desperate poor Haitians have left to lose. Gonaives was last wrecked by floods in 2004. Disasters here are part natural -- and part man-made due to deforestation of nearby hills and crumbling drainage canals.

"The flood washed away everything. I couldn't save anything. They should just move this city. Floods always destroy it," he says.

(on camera): Many of the main streets of Gonaives are still knee-deep in water and thick, brown sludge. Right now we're following one of the United Nations bay convoys. They're heading towards the downtown area and hope to be able to hand out much needed drinking water and some food supplies, too.

(voice-over): Hundreds sheltering in this school say they've not received relief aid in a week. Dirty faces tell a tale. Hardly enough water to drink, let alone wash.

Rosalyn Josef (ph) made it to safety with her three children.

"My home's destroyed. I have no place to live with my kids. Everything I had just washed away," she tells me.

U.N. soldiers pass out supplies. Desperation and starvation quickly plunged the food line into chaos. Troops push back with riot shields. Fights break out -- hungry hands for hungry mouths. One tiny survivor summons all his strength to waddle away with more than he can carry.

Those who did not receive a food parcel make a break for drier ground. They've salvaged a few belongings and carried them in sacks and plastic tubs. A bedraggled procession of the damned.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Gonaives, Haiti.


PHILLIPS: Well, after seeing those pictures you'll probably want to get involved. The relief efforts for those affected areas from the hurricanes, you can just visit's Impact Your World page and you will find links to groups providing food and shelter to people in need. That's at

To North Koreans, he is "The Dear Leader," and to the rest of the world, he's a mystery. But just where is Kim Jong-Il? We're going to give you the lowdown on the latest speculation.


PHILLIPS: Word coming in that the head leader of al Qaeda was killed in Pakistan.

Nic Robertson joining us now on the phone.

Nic, we've talked about Pakistan, the threat there with regard to al Qaeda, the training camps and how it's been fueling the various wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Can you tell us who this, where exactly he was killed, and all the details that you have for us?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: His name, from what we have been told, is Abu Haris, the Syrian who was recently appointed as al Qaeda's chief in Pakistan. He was in a compound owned by a former Afghan warlord, Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Haqqani has long been on the U.S. most-wanted list along the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. I remember back in 2004, an embed down in Khost, where we were tracking down Haqqani then.

The attacks on Haqqani's compound which resulted in Abu Harat's (ph) death was on Monday. This compound, just inside Pakistan, in north Waziristan, near a town called Nuram Shar (ph).

The attack, according to one of the guards at the compound who was injured in the attack, came relatively early in the morning. A number of HELLFIRE missiles, according to the guards, were fired at Haqqani's compound and at a madrassa, a religious school run by Haqqani. And the information that we have from this guard, who is now getting treatment at a hospital, is that the Syrian, the newly- appointed head of al Qaeda in Pakistan sustained injuries on Monday, died on Tuesday. Along with him, two Saudis who were in al Qaeda and an Egyptian also in al Qaeda, were injured in the attack on Monday but had died subsequently Tuesday. Twenty-five people, he said, killed in that attack -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about the timing here, because Pervez Musharraf received a lot of heat through the years about not being tough enough on al Qaeda in his country. He's now out of power. Now we're apparently seeing this head of al Qaeda there based in Pakistan dead.

Is there any kind of connection here? Is this a sign of progress that maybe this country is getting tougher on weeding out these terrorists now that Musharraf is out?

ROBERTSON: Well, I will tell you what, Kyra, today we had President Zardari, the new Pakistani president, sitting beside President Karzai from Afghanistan, who had come to Pakistan for President Karzai's inauguration. And both of them were talking tough about the fight on the Taliban, tough about the fight on al Qaeda, getting serious about working with each other in a way they haven't in the past.

And the new president of Pakistan said several times today said we are different from President Musharraf and the past. We are going to explain to the people of Pakistan this is their problem, the Taliban are their problem, and that we need to fight it together. He said that's not the message that President Musharraf ever gave the people of Pakistan. He always blamed it on the United States, and this was part of the United States' war on terror.

What we're hearing from the new president of Pakistan's officials here is that he will provide more support to the United States, a delegate political balancing act for him in Pakistan. He can't be seen to be too pro-U.S., but in the past week we have seen four strikes, three missile strikes in Pakistan, what are believed, suspected to be al Qaeda or Taliban targets, plus two helicopters coming into Pakistan, putting U.S. troops on the ground in Pakistan to raid a compound there.

There has been public outcry by the president, by his administration here in Pakistan, but yes, there does seem to be a new trend here. And certainly the leadership in Pakistan indicating that they are going to be different, more, perhaps, pro the United States, doing more attacks on the Taliban here. The proof of the pudding, as people say, will be in the (INAUDIBLE) how much can he continue to carry this through, how serious is he?


PHILLIPS: Well, and that's good news with regard to fighting the activity on a much harsher level there in Pakistan. As I'm reading more about this Abu Haris -- and add to this or support this as you can, Nic -- apparently he is Syrian and he was involved in fighting during the anti-Soviet jihad in eastern Afghanistan. And he has been able to combine a number of Arab and Afghan fighters in his Mehdi army here throughout that part of the region.

Also, it says he was highly involved in recruiting Afghan youth to help undertake operations and participate in what he calls this jihad in Afghanistan.

Are you able to support any more of that information with regard to his background and what we know about this Abu Haris?

ROBERTSON: We don't know too much about him at the moment. Yesterday, I sat down for an interview with the interior minister of Pakistan, and he said what they are seeing here, they're seeing an open corridor now from Iraq through Iran through Afghanistan into Pakistan of what he called Arabs coming to join the al Qaeda fight.

He said that the huge Taliban problem they have in their border province now is really al Qaeda behind the Taliban, that the Taliban attacks in Pakistan are really al Qaeda. The Taliban, one in the same thing.

They're seeing an increase as these Arab fighters, people like, it would appear, Abu Haris, the Syrian killed, Abdullah (INAUDIBLE), one of the Saudis killed, Abu Hamza, one of the Saudis killed, (INAUDIBLE), the Egyptian killed in this recent attack. The fact that we have three names -- four names of Arabs involved in this substantiates to a degree what Pakistani officials are telling us, that they are seeing more Arabs coming here.

On Friday last week, there was a report of two missile strikes again in north Waziristan. In those reports, two Arabs also killed.

It also showed quite clearly that the intelligence that U.S. forces are using to try and take out these targets is proving accurate. What Pakistani officials have a problem with is the civilian casualties that are being caught up in these attacks, because that causes a public backlash.

So very interesting, we haven't heard the Pakistani government criticizing directly the United States for the attack yesterday. They did last week, but not for this one yesterday.

PHILLIPS: All right. Our Nic Robertson joining us from Islamabad.

Nic, thanks so much.

If you're just tuning in, getting word now of the al Qaeda -- main al Qaeda leader Abu Haris, based in Pakistan, killed in a military operation there. It could possibly be a good sign that now that Musharraf is out, the new leader is in, that a tougher stance on weeding out those terrorists in Pakistan is taking place, which of course will help the influence of the insurgency in Iraq and also Afghanistan.

We will stay on top of that story with our Nic Robertson and our other correspondents there throughout the region.

Issue #1, America's fuel crisis. Some say that one solution, turn to Libya, once one of America's most hated enemies, by the way. But attitudes are quickly changing, in large part because the North African country, it's so rich in black gold.

CNN's Zain Verjee reports.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing in an oil refinery in Libya. This one tank alone has $60 million worth of oil.

A Republican rallying cry has been, "Drill, baby, drill." Well, Libya has oil, baby, oil. And the United States wants a piece of this action.

(voice-over): The Azzawiya refinery is one of the largest in oil-rich Libya, churning out 120,000 barrels of oil a day.

(on camera): The crude oil flowing these through pipes is refined here. Libya has the largest reserves of oil in Africa, and U.S. oil companies are signing big deals to explore it.

There is a huge amount of untapped resources in this country, it's also a lot cheaper to produce oil. Operating costs are low, and you don't have to drill too deep.

(voice-over): Libya's experiencing its biggest economic boon in history thanks to high oil prices and warmer ties with the West.

(on camera): Millions of dollars in foreign investment is flowing in. Libya is using that money to upgrade its oil industry and export more oil for the world market.

(voice-over): Libya produces two million barrels of oil a day. U.S. companies operating here produce about 700,000 of those barrels.

(on camera): This refinery sits along the African coastline. Oil is being loaded onto that ship for export to Europe and the United States. Right now, Libya exports about five percent of its oil to the U.S., but that number is expected to skyrocket.

SHOKRI GHANEM, LIBYAN NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: Our plan is to increase our production from its existing level of about two million barrels a day to three million barrels a day by the year 2012, 2013.

VERJEE: When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Libya, she told us that better ties with Libya benefit U.S. oil needs, and she said that there is nothing wrong with that, adding, too, that it benefits world oil markets.


PHILLIPS: Zain is on the phone via Libya.

Zain, tell us how hard it is for U.S. and other companies to do business right now in Libya.

VERJEE: Hi, Kyra.

Well, big foreign companies that are pretty well connected here can get things done a lot quicker, a lot more easily, but it's really the smaller companies that have a harder time, because they have to navigate through this awful bureaucracy to get anything done. Also, the thing is, Libya has been under sanctions previously, so a lot of the equipment that's needed, the infrastructure, just isn't here yet. So a lot of the companies have a tough time because of that -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Well, you have been in Libya now for several days. You've been talking to the people. What do they think of Americans, and also their attitudes toward the U.S. doing business with them?

VERJEE: Well, the bottom line is they like it. They like Americans. They say they don't necessarily like the policies of the U.S. government, but they want more Americans to come to Libya. They say it will boost business.

A couple of things that struck me, Kyra. They said that they really wanted U.S. technology in Libya and that they wanted more Libyans to be allowed to go study in the United States. One woman also told me that they really feel that the U.S. needs to take more time to understand the Arab world more so it could contribute to more peace and promote it in the region -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Our Zain Verjee live from Libya.

Zain, thanks so much.

We're going to take a quick break. More when we come back.


PHILLIPS: Some close campaigning in a key battleground state. John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, started the day in Lebanon, Ohio. Barack Obama campaigned 30 miles away in Riverside.

McCain and Palin said Ohio will be key to winning the White House as they touted their energy plans. The crowd chanted "Sarah" when Palin spoke.

Meantime, Obama pushed his education goals, including paying teachers based on performance and cutting those who don't make the grade.

John McCain has inched ahead of Barack Obama in the latest CNN Poll of Polls, an average of five national surveys. McCain leads with 47 percent to Obama's 45 percent. Eight percent are unsure. Yesterday, McCain had a one-point lead.

This was the first Poll of Polls taken entirely after the Republican convention.

Now let's go behind the numbers with CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

Bill, a lot has been made about the fact that John McCain picked a woman running mate. So did our polls reveal any gender gap among the voters?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: They certainly did, but it's a gender gap that may very well surprise you.

One of the questions we asked is, "Is Sarah Palin qualified to serve as president?" And the answer is, men say, yes, 57 percent. Women say, no, 55 percent.

Now, if she was intended to appeal to women voters, it doesn't look like it worked very well. This is a tradition split you often see with the political parties, women inclined to be more favorable to Democrats, men more favorable to Republicans. But even with a female Republican on the ticket, the response is more positive among men than among women.

PHILLIPS: Well, did our polling reveal how the vice presidential choices are affecting support for the men at the top of the tickets?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. Well, we asked the question, "Who are you going to vote for?" in two ways to see what impact the vice presidential selection made.

Now, over on the left, you see with the vice president's name -- that would be Obama and Biden or McCain and Palin -- and it is a perfect tie, 48 percent for Obama and Biden, 48 percent for McCain and Palin. Suppose we leave the vice presidential names off the list and just ask, "Would you vote for Obama or McCain?" You get almost exactly the same results: 49 percent Obama, 48 percent McCain.

And what that suggests is what we have known for a long time -- people don't vote for vice president, they vote for president.

PHILLIPS: That is true. Bill Schneider.


Well, she wouldn't be allowed to preach from many of their pulpits, so why is Sarah Palin's political message so popular with evangelical voters? We're going to look for some answers.

And hundreds of people in need of help. South Louisiana still reeling from Hurricane Gustav. Try living without power or water or enough food. We're going to tell you how the state of Louisiana is stepping in to help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, and you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

It's 2:29 Eastern Time. Here's some of the stories we're working on for you right now.

A drawdown in Iraq, a buildup in Afghanistan. President Bush says that some 8,000 U.S. troops are leaving Iraq because of a sustained drop in violence. Meantime, some 4,500 others are heading to Afghanistan where violence is on the rise.

Big questions today about Kim Jong-Il's health. A U.S. intelligence source tells CNN the North Korean leader has serious health problems and may have suffered a stroke. Today, Kim was a no- show at a parade celebrating the 60 anniversary of the communist country.

Winds and high surf in Key West, Florida, from the outer edges of the Hurricane Ike. The Category 1 hurricane is approaching from Cuba and could pick up strength. It is expected to shift west toward Texas.

And she could potentially lead a country, but she would be banned from leading many congregations. So why does Sarah Palin seem to be winning over so many evangelicals? Let's bring in two people who may have some answers for us. Voddie Baucham is a pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas and Margaret Feinberg is an evangelical speaker who lived in Alaska for five years and saw Palin get elected to governor.

Good to see you both.

VODDIE BAUCHAM, GRACE FAMILY BAPTIST CHURCH: Thank you, thank you for having us.


PHILLIPS: Margaret, let's start with you. I want you both to actually touch on this quickly, why does her faith matter?

FEINBERG: Her faith matters because it says a lot about who she is as a person and her outlooks on life and the policies that will come to play in our nation.

PHILLIPS: Reverend Baucham.

BAUCHAM: I agree completely. Political ideology is really an outgrowth of our religious beliefs. You cannot separate what a person believes from how a person will govern. So I think it is incredibly important that we know where people stand on religious issues.

PHILLIPS: So Margaret, why do you think she is winning over these evangelicals that have been so skeptical of McCain?

FEINBERG: I think on one hand, she is known for her conservative values, and that has translated in her leadership and her time in Alaska. But I think also, for younger evangelicals, there is a hunger to see a more exciting ticket there. There was kind of a ho-hum factor from McCain, but when Palin came on board she added the va-voom that was so needed in order to garner the attention and the excitement for young evangelicals.

PHILLIPS: And here's what's interesting, Reverend Baucham, she is winning over church leaders that don't even allow women to preach at the pulpit, yet she could be leading the country.

What do you make of that?

BAUCHAM: Well, it is interesting, the bottom line on that is people look at this ticket and their fear is that we will have Barack Obama as our president, that we will be moved toward a socialist agenda, that we would have the most radically pro-abortion candidate ever to run for president to serve in that office. And that is an untenable position for evangelicals, and so they look at this and they're trying to decide this based on what is best for the nation in the here and now, and oftentimes, overlooking some of those other issues.

PHILLIPS: Do you think that that is something -- are you saying that shouldn't be overlooked? I mean, do you think that women, in evangelical circles where women are not allowed to preach -- let's say that Palin and McCain do win and here you have this woman that could possibly be leading the free world, and yet, there is evangelicals voting for her that don't even believe that a woman should preach at the pulpit?

Could this change the face of how evangelicals believe in the woman's role?

BAUCHAM: I don't think it will change the way evangelicals believe about women's roles. I think it has sparked a discussion and quite frankly feminism has gained a foothold in many evangelical churches --

PHILLIPS: Do you think it is a good thing?

BAUCHAM: No I don't. Not at all.

PHILLIPS: Why not?

BAUCHAM: Well because we are about the gospel. The culture does not dictate truth. The gospel dictates truth. My job is not to be a political pundit or a political activist, my job is to be a pastor and proclaim the truth of the gospel as clearly as I possibly can.

PHILLIPS: Well wait a minute. What about the Old Testament and the prophet Deborah? She was a political leader, she was a wife, she was a mother. She was one of the biggest forces in the book of Genesis, so that is the gospel right there.

BAUCHAM: She certainly was, and the fact that something happened doesn't mean that it's normative for the church. In Isaiah Chapter 3, for example, one of the signs that a culture is under judgment is that women are in leadership in their nations. So Deborah was actually a sign that things were very bad in Israel. Not a norm for the church.

PHILLIPS: Margaret, I am curious to see what you think about this and what the reverend is saying.

FEINBERG: I think that that is a fair perspective, Voddie, but I think we also need to look at Ephesians 5, which describes -- it is saying that husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, just as Jesus Christ laid down his life for the church. And in the same way, I think Todd has done an incredible job opening up the opportunity for Palin to use the gifts and the talents and passions that she has been given in order to make a difference in her community and possibly in our nation and world on a significant political landscape and affect.

PHILLIPS: Margaret, does the reverend sounding a little sexist, or is it just me?

FEINBERG: I would have to say the reverend is sounding a little questionable there. But in the sense that I believe that everyone, despite gender, has an opportunity to serve, to give and to play a role in making a difference in their communities, in their churches and around the world.

PHILLIPS: Reverend, this could be an exciting time. This could break through. We are becoming progressive in so many ways. We're seeing a black man possibly winning the presidency, we're seeing a woman here that -- on the Republican ticket -- that's rousing up evangelicals, possibly to think twice about the woman's role in the church. This is fascinating times.

BAUCHAM: They are fascinating times. And they are also frightening times. When you see Margaret Feinberg use Ephesians Chapter 5, which clearly says that a husband is head of the wife, in order to justify somehow with this slight of hand that Palin's husband is laying down his life by allowing her to do that, No. 1 she is playing fast and loose with the text. And secondly, she is also ignoring the fact that Palin's responsibility as a wife and mother is governed by scripture, not by whether we feel it is progressive about our culture.

PHILLIPS: Margaret, final thought there?

FEINBERG: Well, Voddie, I believe that is a narrow interpretation and a boxy interpretation of the text, as well as the role of women who in today's working families -- many families in the United States need both the man and the wife in order to work outside of the home in order to support the family. And to put that kind of burden on the family, whereby a woman must stay at home, I just don't think that translates into many working class families today.

BAUCHAM: Well, my job is not to translate into working class families, my job is to be honest with the text. And the text says, in Titus Chapter 2, verse 5, the woman is to be to the keeper of her home. Now I will not violate the teaching of the text in order to somehow sound more appropriate for the culture. I am a herald of the truth of the gospel and my job is to teach the gospel according to what the authors have said, not according to what I think the culture wants to hear.

FEINBERG: But Voddie, being a keeper of the home can be translated in so many different ways. And that means that if a woman happens to be the breadwinner, shouldn't they have the opportunity to step out and take care of their family in that way?

BAUCHAM: Listen --

PHILLIPS: All right. What about the text that says the man and the woman should submit to one another. I think I'm just going to leave it right there, folks. And I'm going to be studying the Bible tonight and I promise to bring you two back, especially as we see this go forward and seeing how evangelicals vote.

Thank you so much, Margaret Feinberg and Reverend Voddie Baucham.

BAUCHAM: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: All right, guys.

Well, a Marine battalion and Army combat brigade, combat support teams, all among the forces President Bush plans to remove from the war in Iraq. We're talking 8,000 troops out of 146,000 left after the surge. They won't leave overnight, and the last are due to pull out next February after Mr.Bush leaves office. 4,155 U.S. troops have died in the Iraq war to this date.

So what do Iraqis think about fewer U.S. forces in their future. CNN's Arwa Damon is in Baghdad.

And Arwa, you have been there for quite a long time. Do you really believe there are parts of that country that are safer now to go into?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, most definitely. You cannot deny the fact that security has increased and gotten dramatically better just in terms of what we are able to do for example.

We are able to travel into parts of Baghdad before that we would not have even imagined or dreamed of taking the risk to actually try to get into them. CNN producer, Muhammad (ph), and I and our crew took a trip north of Baghdad. We drove outside of the city, and neither one of us had seen Baghdad's gates since 2004.

And as exciting as it for us to be able to get around and go places we couldn't go before, at the same time we are also really discovering the true scope and magnitude of what Iraqis suffered through. We went to a neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad where Shia militias were once in control and they turned a mosque into a torture house and residents there were talking about being haunted by the screams of the victims and what they heard going on inside. And they said that the militia, although less visible on the streets, was still out there.

We were able to take a trip up to Baqubah, for example, even out to Al Anbar Province, that was once almost entirely, if not entirely, controlled by al Qaeda. So while we are able to get around, while the security gains are most indefinitely undeniable, there is still the big question out there: and that is how sustainable is it? And especially how sustainable is it once U.S. troops have left?

PHILLIPS: Have you been able to gauge Iraqis and what they are saying about Bush's statement in withdrawing these 8,000 troops by February?

DAMON: Well, Iraqis, for the most part, really do welcome a troop reduction. But remember, we are still talking about 8,000 troops out of the approximately 146,000 that are here.

Iraqis' opinion about U.S. troop withdrawal is really very mixed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We wish it would happen as soon as possible, today rather than tomorrow. The government can decide that because the government has a wider vision for the homeland and the security situation. But all Iraqis wish it would happen quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Their presence is essential now to preserve the Constitution and the young, new democracy in Iraq. That required more troops.


DAMON: But as quickly as Iraqis may want to have the U.S. out, and the truth of the matter is that no one really wants to see America here forever, many Iraqis, when you do talk to them about it in detail, will admit that they are scared of what is going to happen to their country when the U.S. actually does leave. Will that sectarian violence come back? Will the nightmare of the last five years, the violence and the horrors that everyone lived, be reality once again?

And that is the big unknown, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Arwa Damon, live from Baghdad.

Arwa, thanks.

And as we mentioned, President Bush won't be president when these Iraqi war troop cuts are completed, and the Democrat who may be isn't impressed. Here is what Barack Obama just told reporters in Ohio.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today President Bush announced a very modest troop redeployment from Iraq. Meanwhile, we will continue to keep nearly 140,000 troops in Iraq while our military is overstretched, which is still at or even above pre-surge levels. We will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq, while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus. In the absence of a timetable to remove our combat brigades, we will continue to give Iraq's leaders a blank check instead of pressing them to reconcile their differences.

So the presidents talk of return on success is a new name for continuing the same strategic mistakes that have dominated our foreign policy for over five years.


PHILLIPS: Now Obama says that he is glad to see more troops for Afghanistan, he only wishes that more were being sent sooner.

All of the latest campaign news at your fingertips. Just go to We also have analysis from the best political team on television. It is all there at

To the North Korean people, Kim Jong-Il is a God-like figure. But the man who rules them with an iron fist was a no-show today at a parade marking the 60th anniversary of the country's founding. That is raising speculation that Kim may be seriously ill. A U.S. intelligence official says that Kim may have had a stroke. Kim has denied previous reports, by the way, that he suffers from heart disease and diabetes.

A place of reflection marking an unspeakable tragedy. A memorial honoring 9/11 victims has been dedicated at Boston's Logan Airport. The two planes that terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center came from Logan. 147 people were on board. The two-and-a-half acre memorial features a green glass cube with all of their names.

And right now, we want to all remember them.


PHILLIPS: Hurricane Gustav blew out of Louisiana, and I guess it was more than a week ago, but it definitely left a lot of problems behind. In Baton Rouge, long lines for emergency food stamps today as storm victims try to make the best of a pretty bad situation.


PHILLIPS: In a tropical paradise, destruction everywhere you look. Hurricane Ike left nothing but devastation behind as it plowed across the Turks and Caicos islands over the weekend.

CNN's John Zarrella is there.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Everywhere on Grand Turk Island you hear the sounds of hammers, you see people pulling together already. They are trying to get the holes in their roofs fixed, trying to pick up the debris and get some sense of their lives back together. Off the coast, two British warships helping out in the recovery effort.

We talked to the premier today who says that it is going to be $200 or maybe $300 million in damage here on Grand Turk Island alone. It could take a year or maybe more before everything is picked up.

Lea, you lost just about everything but --

LEA ASTWOOD, HURRICANE IKE VICTIM: (OFF MIKE) But we came out alive. My wife and my family and my children and grandchildren, so thank God.

ZARRELLA: You start over?

ASTWOOD: We start all over again. This is my house for temporary. I am rebuilding my permanent house from all the hurricanes that passed a couple of years ago, and I was out here on a temporary basis. But you see what happened.

ZARRELLA: But many people, as Lea was telling us, are in worse shape than he is. One of the good things is Providencial, the main tourist island, it survived. It's in tact. And the government says that they should be up and running within a couple of weeks, inviting tourists back, which is the key trade, what they need to start getting their lives back together and to bring the income back into the islands.

John Zarrella, CNN, on Grand Turk Island.


PHILLIPS: So imagine doing without power or enough food and drinking water for more than a week? Well that is what thousands of people in Louisiana are having to deal with after Hurricane Gustav. Today, huge lines in Baton Rouge as hundreds of people lined up for emergency food stamps. The Louisiana capital was one of the hardest hit areas after the hurricane made landfall on the Gulf Coast last week.

Right now, Louisiana does not appear to be in crosshairs, though, as Hurricane Ike heads toward the Gulf Coast.

Meteorologist Chad Myers has been keeping track of everything that is happening with that storm, right, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It does not seem like Louisiana is in the middle of it, no. In fact, they're not even in the cone, Kyra, so there's some relief. But somebody is in the cone, so let's get to it. Category 3 by the time it gets off this thing and gets back in a very, very warm Gulf of Mexico. The water coming out of the Caribbean up here through the gap between Cuba and Cancun, and that water is 88 degrees and that is the high test, man. That's 93 octane for these storms to get going again.

We could see some onshore storms coming through here with some waterspouts. About an hour ago, had a tornado warning for Key Largo with a waterspout offshore, but never heard that it ever came onshore at all. Winds are down to 75 miles per hour. That is something good. This is down to a minimal hurricane. It has really torn up over Cuba, although, obviously, Cuba took the brunt of the tearing up, that is why it is torn up in the first place, because Cuba took a very hard hit here.

Back to a Category 3, that is 115 miles per hour. And it could even be bigger than that. The cone -- all the way from Houston down into Mexico. Why? Because the computer models are still from Houston, almost, to Mexico. They run them all at the same time and one, two, three. They all have different ideas of what the high pressure up here is going to do.

This high pressure holds in a long time, it stays south of America and gets down into northern Mexico. If this high moves away, Kyra, as the high moves away, the spin is this way and that spin brings it right back up like this. And that is why the computer models just don't know, well, four days out we don't know. But as it gets closer, we will.

PHILLIPS: Well, between you and the computer models, we've got it covered for the most part. And Mother Nature --

MYERS: Let's get some bigger computers --

PHILLIPS: Exactly. Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: Well, what is black and white and falls down a lot? We're going to tell you why this unusual breed of farm animal is so fainthearted. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MYERS: Hi, everyone.

I just told you a little bit ago that there was a potential for tornadoes and maybe waterspouts moving on shore. Well, a new tornado warning for Miami. That right there and that is Key Biscayne, and there is Coral Gables. The spin is very close to Key Biscayne right now, moving to the northwest, kind of an odd direction. But that is the way into downtown Miami, into Coral Gables proper and maybe on up toward West Chester as it progresses. We will keep you advised. If anything pops out of the sky, we've got our Miami affiliates on the call -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Chad, thanks so much.

MYERS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: And turning trees into charcoal is big business in Kenya, but unchecked harvesting is creating problems on two fronts. Charcoal is becoming less affordable, and once beautiful landscapes are devastated.

David McKenzie explains in today's "Planet in Peril" segment.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Masai call it the blessed valley. But this place is cursed. Indigenous trees can take 60 years to grow to this size and minutes to fall. With pastoralists (ph) here trading herding for the illegal charcoal trade, these sparse forests are dying.

(on camera): This charcoal kiln was made up of 13 trees. It has been here for five days and now it is ready. It is still incredibly hot. It can earn these Masai almost $120.

(voice-over): But the ultimate costs are huge. In the past four decades, Kenya has seen its forest cover crash from 11 percent to just over 1 percent due to rampant logging and charcoaling.

Charcoaling is one of the chief culprits. It is the biggest source of energy in Kenya, used for heating and cooking. But almost one fifth of it is wasted. Now, a private company in Nairobi is revolutionizing the industry. Chardust collects charcoal waste from small vendors to create an entirely new product.

ELSEN KARSTAD, CHARDUST: If you are going to start making a rather bad industry good, or better, you have to start first with improving the efficiency.

MCKENZIE: So they sieve, press and drive the charcoal to produce a product that burns longer and helps limit the carbon footprint of the industry. Just don't ask these bush charcoalers to stop, environmental groups and local chiefs have already tried.

The forests' loss is their gain, the youth now can go to school.

These trees will provide a future for this generation. The next generation will suffer, as the forests continue to disappear.

David McKenzie, CNN, Kenya.


PHILLIPS: Well some kids get bumps and bruises all the time as they play and fall, but these kids fall more than most. Checking out the goats with the natural tendencies toward fainting spells.


PHILLIPS: All right. Well, don't call these guys scaredy cats, they're goats -- who fall down a lot. Their Newcastle, Maine, breeder says that they were born with an unusual condition which causes the goats to stiffen and fall when they surprised or frightened. That's why some call them fainting goats. Yes everyone says, aww.

But there is good news. As they get older, they are better able to handle the condition and fall down a lot less.

OK. Time for a chuckle. What do you call an unemployed goat? Billy Idol. But you can't call any of these guys idle. They are hard at work, lunching on a weed buffet on the brush-prone slopes in Los Angeles. You might say that the hills are alive with the sound of munching. The goats are cheaper than a mowing service, by the way, environmentally friendly and they don't run out of gas. So how is that for going green?

Rick Sanchez, help me out.