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Tracking Tropical Storm Bonnie; President Obama's Busy Week; NFL Tackle Makes Stop Off the Field; Homeless Man Breaks into Closed Bar, Reopens It; Dow Makes Comeback Yesterday After Drop Wednesday; Tools Used to Embalm Elvis Presley Up for Auction; Mixed Blessing of the Internet; India Unveils $35 Computer ; Teacher Accused of Faking Brain Tumor

Aired July 23, 2010 - 09:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Friday, everybody. I'm Kyra Phillips.

Button down the hatches, Bonnie is on its way. Tropical storms and massive oil spills, bad combination. Nature slapping back efforts to rescue the Gulf.

Would you want to share the highway with that guy? No way. Guess who made sure he couldn't hurt anyone or himself? An NFL tackle. Great stuff.

We've all had flu-flu at some point. Faked a cold or stomachache to get a day off. But a blue brain tumor? Are you kidding me?

It's 9:00 a.m. on the East, crack of 6:00 in the West. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM.

And we begin with Tropical Storm Bonnie just hours away from South Florida. But the greater danger lies just beyond in the area of the Gulf oil spill.

It's day 95 of that disaster and the government orders ships to return to shore, BP suspends work on digging the -- the relief well. And so what is that all mean for us? Efforts to permanently seal the leak could be pushed back by 10 days or even more.

The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline. It's a watch that stretches from Morgan City, Louisiana eastward to Destin, Florida.

Let's look at where that storm is headed and when. CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf here with a closer look.

Hey, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, I'll tell you right now, Kyra. The storm is poorly defined. In fact it's pretty easy to see here right here. Let's enlarge this image. And there you go. You see the deep convection just east of Miami at this time. Winds are sustained at 40 miles per hour.

It has been gusting a bit stronger, though. Up to 50 miles per hour. The center is actually about 82 miles of Miami, Florida.

Now, of course, obviously, you've got some rain in Miami but the center of circulation about 82 miles from that point. Now to be more specific, here's what we've got. From Ft. Lauderdale, southward into Miami, even south Miami highlands -- or heights, rather, you've got some pretty strong storms coming in at this time.

And what we anticipate is the storm is going to fluctuate in power over the next couple of hours. And then possibly pop out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Now let's take a look at this. This is the latest path we have or forecast of the National Hurricane Center. It shows the storm as we get into early Saturday. Then into Saturday afternoon, winds at 50. Gusts at 65 miles per hour.

Then if it follows through on to this forecast path it will go right over the oil slick areas. And something else really important, know that the top half of the storm is actually the strongest place. So we could see some of the strongest winds actually pushing some of that oil up towards the coast of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

That in mind, though, remember that one of the things that's very difficult to forecast when it comes to these systems is forecast strength. That is going to be really, really tough thing to handle especially as we get into Saturday and Sunday.

Now it is going to be changing a little bit possibly over the next 12 hours in terms of strength because of strong upper level winds. However, in about 24 to 48 hours, (INAUDIBLE), it can have a weaker shear aloft. And with that in mind might actually gain a little bit more power.

So we'll have to watch it for you very carefully. Now one last thing you mentioned, Kyra, in terms of tropical storm watches, they are in effect from Pensacola, as you mentioned, back over to the central Louisiana coast. And of course one of the places that will possibly be affected, that oil slick region.

That is the latest update. We've got more coming up throughout the morning, the midday hours, and the evening. Let's send it back to you.

PHILLIPS: All right, Reynolds, thanks.

WOLF: You bet.

PHILLIPS: OK, let's go ahead and check in now with long lost colleague of Reynolds. Fellow meteorologist Rob Marciano. He spent much of the last three months in the Gulf. He actually joins us now from Gulf Shores, Alabama.

So, Rob, this is a double whammy in terms of both cleanup and permanently shutting down the leak. Right?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And -- mostly because -- well the third thing is what Reynolds touched on. The path of this thing which is going to slice right through and over the well head of it if it verifies and that means that everything from basically the mouth of the Mississippi north and eastward -- all of that oil that is there on the water will be pushed inland or at least closer to inland. In some cases infiltrate inland.

So beaches like the one I'm at here in Gulf Shores, Alabama, which right now is relatively clean up towards the -- parts of the Florida panhandle and then back towards the Mississippi.

Those areas are certainly on guard for the possibility of seeing more oil come in again because of this storm.

And the other issue, of course, is the cleanup. The well situation. As you mentioned. They've had to unplug that drill ship and move it out of harm's way. When winds get to gale force which they think they will with this storm going right over the well site, they've got to get that thing out of there.

So they had to unplug it and begin to move it. They started that process last night. It is a long -- probably will take two, three, up to four days to unplug it and move it out of harm's way. And then another couple of days just to bring it back.

So that's where the days begin to add up as far as delaying the proceeding of drilling this relief well.

That top kill, static kill maneuver, that's completely off the table at least for now. Because we've got to go further along the relief well before we even consider that. So those two things are gone. They're removing all the vessels.

There's probably about 60 or so that are in that immediate area. You've got over 2,000 personnel that are working around the well head site. So you've got to get all of them out of harm's way before this storm comes onboard.

Because, you know, often we talk about tropical storms and certainly here when we cover them on land, you know, it's -- you know, winds, some rains, some power outages. Not a -- not a big deal. But it's a whole other animal when you talk about the oil that can be pushed on shore and you talk about the conditions that they work on out there.

A tropical storm making landfall here, it's a whole other animal out there in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico and it is standard procedure to evacuate rigs and drilling platforms, even when there's not a spill.

So it's a bit frightening and they certainly want to get those people out of there before Bonnie gets here regardless of what kind of strength she is -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Rob Marciano, we look forward to your special coming up this weekend. Next hour, we're expecting an update from the government's point man on the crisis. Admiral Thad Allen has scheduled a briefing for 10:30 Eastern. We'll carry it live right here on CNN.

Well, when it comes to getting things done, the president has had a pretty active week. Wouldn't you say? Wall Street reform, check. Extending unemployment benefits, check. But the biggest headline grabber, phone tag with Shirley Sherrod.

The ousted USDA official whose remarks taken out of context actually sparked a national firestorm.

Chief White House correspondent Ed Henry joining us live.

The president, Ed, and the Sherrod debacle, it sure stole the spotlight. You wouldn't think that the president would actually be excited about talking about the oil disaster.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right. But, you know, in the last couple of days I've noticed Robert Gibbs in the briefing getting pounded with some of these questions about Shirley Sherrod. He's actually -- looks like he's been a little happy when the conversation turns to the oil spill.

That's a -- sort of a turning point perhaps in that story as it gets a little bit better. At least it's still not over with. But I think it gives you a sense of how some of these outside forces, if you will, have really upended some bits of the president's agenda, at least his message to the American people and trying to get credit for that.

Because, as you note, he had some big victories this week. Wall Street reform. He says that this is going to really help consumers. He says it's going to add more transparency to all of these transactions. The derivatives and the like.

And that it's going to be less likely there will be these big government bailouts in the future.

Meanwhile, they also got a big victory pushing back against the Republicans and signing into law last night this extension of unemployment benefits. Going to affect a couple million people, worth over $30 billion.

And so they feel pretty good inside this White House when you talk to top aides about the fact that while there's been a lot of media attention on other issues, they insist they are pushing forward on key parts of the president's agenda.

But as you note, you look at some of the public polls including the latest CNN one, it doesn't look like the president is getting credit for it and then maybe because of some of those outside forces that are grabbing the attention right now.

PHILLIPS: Well, and -- let's talk about that. The unemployment benefits being signed. It's not paid for. So how does the White House answer to that?

HENRY: Well, you're right. I mean the bottom line is the reason why Republicans say they were opposed to extending these unemployment benefits is that it's just going to add, you know, another $30 billion to the deficit right now at a time when it's ballooning.

And if you look back to what the president said late last year when he signed another extension benefits, he was highlighting that it was paid for, that there were offsets to cover the billions of dollars.

This time the White House is not explaining why the president just pushed forward without any offsets.

Bottom line is we're couple of months from the election. Democrats saw a good issue here because Republicans were standing against unemployment benefits when so many people are hurting. They pushed forward but it's going to, you know, in the short term have a benefit for people. I need to make that clear. But long term it's adding to the debt -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Ed Henry live from the White House. Ed, thanks.

The clock is ticking for Arizona's new immigration law to take effect on Thursday. And we still don't know whether a federal judge will block it.

The judge heard arguments from two high-profile challengers yesterday. The Obama administration and ACLU. The law allows police to check the residency status of people that they detain in connection with the crime.

Opponents say that the law is unconstitutional, promotes racial profiling, and intrudes on federal authority. The judge didn't say when she will actually issue a ruling.

A 911 call alerting police to a possible drunk driver.


SHAUN ROGERS, NFL PLAYER: There's a gold Camry. The occupant appear to be either very sleepy or drunk. He ran off the road several times and swerving across. He's driving on a flat tire.


PHILLIPS: The voice behind that call, an NFL player. The interesting twist, next.


PHILLIPS: All right, let's travel cross-country. Where this time we're not telling you about bad boy athletes being arrested for domestic abuse, getting busted for hiding weapons or even dog fighting. This morning a football player takes a step towards redemption. Cleveland Browns player Shaun Rogers has had his own run-in with the law. He was arrested for a loaded weapon in his carry-on luggage.

However, this morning, this accused lawbreaker has turned Good Samaritan.

Harry Boomer of CNN affiliate WOIO reports on how this defensive tackle makes a big stop off the field.


HARRY BOOMER, WOIO REPORTER (voice-over): You know Shaun Rogers as a pro bowl football player for our Cleveland Browns. You can now call him a play-by-play announcer and a hero, too.

ROGERS: There's a gold Camry. The occupant appear to be either very sleepy or drunk. He ran off the road several times and swerving across. He's driving on a flat tire.

BOOMER: It was just after 11:00 in Middleburg Heights on I-71 South when Rogers spotted a car weaving all over the road. He followed the out-of-control driver until he pulled over.

ROGERS: He's halfway in the lane and halfway out. He has no lights on so we pulled over behind him and put our emergency on so no one will hit him.

BOOMER: The truck Rogers was riding in pulled in behind the car so no one else would plow into it. After Middleburg Heights police arrived, Rogers left.

(On camera): The Middleburg Heights Police Department gave the suspected drunk driver three tests while he was still sitting inside of his car. One, a dexterity test with his fingers. Two, to count numbers backward. And three to recite the Alphabet after the letter D.

He failed all three.

(Voice-over): A stumbling John Nykiel got out of his car. Police gave him more sobriety tests. Looked like he also failed those.

Police arrested John Nykiel and Mark Palermo. Both 20, both two young to legally drink. The chief of Middleburg Heights police wrote Rogers a letter of thanks.

He wrote, "In my mind your actions averted a tragedy and you went above and beyond. And you also did that at high personal risk."

If you see a suspected drunk driver, at least call the police. You might save lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: Now, that driver faces DUI charges. No word on whether he's reached out to Shaun Rogers. We all think he owes the NFL star a big thank you.

Florida bracing for that tropical storm called Bonnie. Reynolds Wolf tracking it for us.

Here he comes.

WOLF: Yes, I'm here guys.

PHILLIPS: You're there. Go ahead, you're live, Reynolds. Take it away.

WOLF: All right, guys.

PHILLIPS: We're talking Tropical Storm Bonnie, there, big boy.

WOLF: Let me show what you we have in terms of Tropical Storm Bonnie. What's interesting about this thing is it has been gaining -- well, a little bit of momentum in terms if you look at how it has been affecting people in Ft. Lauderdale, Carol City, and even in Miami. People out and about just trying to make their way around the city are dealing with some very heavy rainfall.

However, this storm is really poorly organized. In fact, you'll get a combination of enhanced satellite imagery. It doesn't look all that perfect. So many times you'll see these things and it's just a giant swirling vortex. That's not the case here. Very hard to really find the center of circulation at this point.

What we do expect is as this storm make its way across the southern half of the peninsula, it's going to fluctuate a bit in strength. It's also dealing with something else. Something we refer to as shear. Strong upper level winds. And as those winds battered the storm about, it really does compromise the structure.

Now, what we do expect, though, is as the storm chugs its way a bit more to the west and then into the northwest, it is going to be moving into an area of where you have minimal shear and very warm water. So there's a chance the storm may strengthen a bit. In fact, you take a look at this -- let's enlarge this one. And as we do so, you'll notice the forecast of the National Hurricane Center shows that very thing happening. Winds going from 40 to about 45. Gusts up to 60. Then winds of 50 miles an hour, going to 65. About the same as we get into early Sunday.

Also keep in mind, you've got a wide area here of this cone of uncertainty. The storm may pull a little bit closer to Pensacola, Panama City. Perhaps farther back towards, say, Galveston. However, it is going to interact with that oil slick. Even if the storm were to pass a little bit farther to the south, the strongest winds around the center of circulation will be moving right towards that slick, possibly bringing more of that oil onshore from Pensacola to Mobile, Gulfport, perhaps even closer towards parts of the southern Louisiana coast. But there's a lot of uncertainty with it. I can tell you one thing that is for certain, we do have a lot of -- at this point tropical storm warnings, or watches, rather, from the central Louisiana coastline back over to parts of Florida.

And something else that's not surprising is, Kyra, this is the season. When we see these kinds of things develop, it means a very long season, too. We can see more development from now all the way through November. November 30 is when the season ends. Let's send it back over to you.

PHILLIPS: All right, Reynolds, thanks.

WOLF: You bet.

PHILLIPS: From Tropical Storm Bonnie to whirlwind Shirley. Shirley Sherrod, the lady in the eye of the firestorm, gets the presidential call that she wanted. Now if we could just get her and Andrew Breitbart together for a beer summit.


PHILLIPS: Checking top stories. Tropical Storm Bonnie just hours away from Florida, but forecasters say it won't pack too much of a punch. The storm is expected to head into the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall this weekend somewhere west of New Orleans.

But this could mean a big setback for response to the oil disaster. It's day 95, and the government ordered ships in that area to return to shore. BP also suspending work on digging the relief well. That means efforts to permanently seal the leak could be pushed back by ten days or more.

A call from the White House. President Obama telling Shirley Sherrod that her unfortunate situation may present an opportunity to continue helping people. Former Agriculture Department employee was forced to resign from her job based on an out-of-context video clip.

Opportunity knocks. And a homeless man opens the door. But it was the door to a bar that he didn't own. Police say he turned breaking and entering into a booming business. At least for a few days. His story next.


PHILLIPS: Nothing like a little boogieing to make a few bucks. But check out this creative entrepreneur.

In California, police say that a homeless man broke into a bar that had gone out of business. He stuck an open sign in the window and started slinging drinks for dozens of customers.

Now he's in a bit of trouble for it, and Mike TeSelle of CNN Sacramento affiliate KCRA tells us more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing he didn't have were the keys.

MIKE TESELLE, KCRA REPORTER (voice-over): This is the bar. The empty beer bottles, the evidence. And this, the suspect who has neighbors laughing out loud.



PASLAZZI: Right under everybody's nose.

TESELLE: Even the detective who ultimately cracked the case told KCRA-3 --

JIM HUDSON, DETECTIVE, PLACER COUNTY, CALIFORNIA SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: This has to be one of the strangest cases I've worked.

TESELLE: Yesterday the Auburn Journal newspaper ran a front page story featuring 29-year-old Travis Kevie as the man who just this weekend reopened the recently shuttered landmark Valencia Club in Penryn. But that headline left property manager Len Travis speechless.

(on camera): So, what was your reaction when you heard about what he was doing?


TESELLE (voice-over): That reaction because this wasn't Kevie's bar. He was just part of a cleaning crew who, after his co-workers left a while ago, he returned to reopen the bar with a single six pack of beer.

(on camera): So where did he get the beer? Listen to this. It was right across the street, according to investigators. That's right. According to investigators, he came over here, opened up a cooler, grabbed the beer, bought it, and then went to resell it.

PASLAZZI: You have to admit, he was pretty clever.

TESELLE: So clever that he not only fooled the newspaper, but he got away with this for four days. That is until the Detective Jim Hudson saw the newspaper article and busted this man for burglary and selling alcohol without a license.

HUDSON: I've got to hand it to him on the creativity. But he gets an "F" on staying above the law.


PHILLIPS: Thanks to reporter Mike TeSelle, CNN Sacramento affiliate KCRA for that.

By the way, the Valencia Club was locked up again today. Len Travis, the property manager for the club, says every effort is being made to reopen the business officially, but so far, no word on when that will happen.

The strange case of Shirley Sherrod. A viral video nearly ruined her career, and one man asks, is the internet just killing our culture? The author makes his case just ahead. John Roberts joins us in our AM Extra.


PHILLIPS: Well talk about a comeback. The Dow dropped 100 points on Wednesday, and then came roaring back yesterday with a 200- point gain. Carter Evans, the comeback -- well, comeback kid? I guess that might work.


PHILLIPS: Okay. Tell us about it. Why the good news?

EVANS: You know, we had some really, really good earnings yesterday. And we had some pretty good earnings today as well. But we are expecting a flat open, But, again, positive reports on economic growth in Germany and Britain. Also strong earnings from Ford could help out our numbers today.

Now, Ford posted its fifth straight quarterly profit. This is a US automaker. It earned $2.5 billion. Ford sales jumped double digits. It's gaining market share over Toyota. So there's no surprise the company stock is up about 5 percent in pre-market trading. Ford shares are up about 73 percent over the past year.

We also saw positive earnings from McDonald's and Microsoft. They could help out today. But this afternoon, trading could be influenced by bank stress tests in Europe These are similar to the test US banks went through last year. The hope is that results will give us a clearer picture of the health of Europe's biggest banks.

But for now, the Dow is pretty much flat, the NASDAQ is flat. It looks like investors are kind of trying to wait to see what those bank stress tests results are going to be.

And finally today, Kyra, this is a really odd story. Just in time for the opening bell here at the New York Stock Exchange. And it's a little morbid. I want you to take a look at these pictures. You see them there? Rubber gloves, a hook, scissors. They're coming out.

PHILLIPS: OK. It's kind of freaking me out. Where are you going with this?

EVANS: OK. All right. These are actually worth a whole lot of money because these are the tools that were used to embalm Elvis Presley.

PHILLIPS: Oh, God. You know --

EVANS: You know, the embalmer held on to them for all these years. What were you going to say? PHILLIPS: OK, that's just sick. It's sort of -- did you see a couple weeks ago the x-rays of Marilyn Monroe's chest were for sale and actually sold? What's wrong with people?

EVANS: I don't know. People will buy just about anything. And these are going to hit the auction block next month. They're expected to fetch up to $8,000. Again, they were used to embalm the King, apply his makeup, and dye his graying hair to jet black. You know what? His toe tag is even going to be there as well.

PHILLIPS: Carter, that is just creepy.

EVANS: Well, it's a Friday morning story, you know.

PHILLIPS: Now, we all want to throw up. Thanks, Carter.

EVANS: Thank you. Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: Have a great weekend.

All right. Shirley Sherrod's heard from the president, had a good talk, no direct apology, but he admitted the government did drop the ball. You think she'll hear from Andrew Breitbart? He is the one who Breitbarted her, basically, posted at edited blurb of her NAACP speech on his website, portrayed her as a racist when the full speech showed that she's not. Ended up getting her fired from the USDA, as you know, and then Breitbart he said he wasn't targeting Sherrod.

That he was just trying to expose racism in the NAACP. The example backfired on him and proved the opposite of his point. And he's not apologizing. Sherrod got some questions for him, though. Check out what she told Anderson Cooper last night.

What has he done to promote unity among the races? tell me, let me -- tell him to come forward and tell us what he's done. I haven't seen him do anything but try to divide us. you know. where does he think this will take us? what -- what does he think this will accomplish? I would like to hear him answer that. I would like him to show me how he's not a racist.


SHIRLEY SHERROD, FORMER USDA EMPLOYEE: What has he done to promote unity among the racist. Tell me. Tell him to come forward and tell us what he done. I haven't seen him do anything but try to divide us, you know. Where does he think this will take us? What does he think this will accomplish? I'd like to hear him answer back. And I'd like him to show me how he's not a racist.


PHILLIPS: There you go, Shirley.

Oh, I guess you can say it's the mixed blessing of the internet, right? Sure it puts the world at all of our fingertips. After all, when is the last time you actually had to slog through the Dewey Decimal System to find a nugget of information? But that convenience comes at a price.

This week, a viral video, as you know, convicted Shirley in the court of public opinion. That is until we learned the real facts where nowhere to be found, by the way, in the carefully selected clip.

And then how about Craigslist? It offers something for everyone. Unfortunately, everyone also includes prostitutes, pedophiles, and crooks. And everyone is on Facebook, right? A half billion friends and counting, but many people were outraged when they learned that their private information wasn't so private after all.

So, are these merely compromises in the computer age? Or as one man suggests, is the internet killing our culture? John Roberts spoke to that author on CNN's "American Morning." John joins us live from New York. A subject matter, John, that we can all relate to.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And one that you and I discuss all the time. There are so many great things that the internet does and has to offer, but at the same time, Kyra, as you know, there was this dark side where -- anyone's enemy can take something nasty and post it on the internet and maybe it doesn't rise to the level as did it with Shirley Sherrod, but it still gets out there among a certain community and does damage to that person's reputation.

Imagine, what would have happened if we hadn't taken a look at -- what happened with Shirley Sherrod and plumb the depths further and found out that what had been posted on the internet was not, in fact, reflective of what she said? Would she still be without a job? Would her reputation still be ruined? That, to some degree, is the effect of what many people might consider to be a wild west of the internet where anybody can post anything they want about anyone.

Andrew Keen is the author of "The Cult of the Amateur." How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and other user generated media are killing the American economy, the culture, and our values. Here's what he says about this idea that people can post whatever they want about anyone and many times, probably more times than not, get away with it.


ANDREW KEEN, AUTHOR: What I think it reflects is a certain sort of paranoia about media and obsession with conspiracy, a kind of a lunacy that reflects us and extremism, bitterness, but also a degree of responsibility. I think this case is interesting because it shows the worst of the internet in the sense that someone printed a lie or published a lie which then was virally spread and almost ruined her life.

But then, part of the internet and also mainstream media guys like you came to the rescue. And you sorted the case out. You showed that it was a lie. You revealed the fact, the reality, the truth which was actually the very opposite of what was published.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIPS: But John, we can't always do that. I mean, it's going -- there's going to have to be a point in time where these people have to be held accountable. How about all these bloggers that blog anonymously? They say rotten things about people, and they're actually given credibility which is -- which is crazy. They are a bunch of cowards. They're just people seeking attention. So, what is this guy propose that we can do about it?

ROBERTS: What -- Andrew talked about with me was this idea of a gatekeeper, but there are huge first amendment rights that come into play here, freedom of speech and all of that. And he said that the -- people who need to be the gatekeepers are the media, to check into these stories. But for every Shirley Sherrod story that there is, there's probably 100,000 other ones that never rise to the level of attention that we would look into them. So, I don't know what you do about all of those people and we've seen them. People who are bullied on the internet who commit suicide. Others whose reputations have been ruined.

Andrew was also pointing to companies that try to ruin other companies by posting false information on their websites. To this idea of anonymous blogging, we chatted about that a little bit off camera. And to some degree, the internet is like a giant worldwide bathroom wall that you can write anything you want about anyone under an anonymous pseudonym. Somebody is going to have that information.

But I've always thought that if you're going to say something -- if you're going to criticize someone in a public forum, have the courage to at the very least put your name on it. I mean, the better thing would be if you got a criticism for someone, say it to their face. The very least have -- have the -- whatever you want to call them, to put your name to it.

PHILLIPS: Sure. I think that's what we all want because it's very unfair. You know, we talk about writing on a bathroom wall, but come on, you can go -- you can spray paint over that. That's one wall for no -- for the world, you know, whole world is not going to see that. I mean, we're talking about -- it's not just freedom of first amendment. And I know that's what they all claim. It's freedom of defamation many times.

And what's Andrew say about is there going to come a point where something is going to have to be done legally? There has to be some point where there's some accountability. And companies, especially with the media, have to stop giving these anonymous bloggers credit or credibility, I guess that's a better word.

ROBERTS: As you know, the ubiquitous nature of the internet and the way that it gathers together factions and divides others, you're going to have allies of certain people who comment or blog anonymously.

Now, it's not to say that anonymous blogging doesn't have its place. I mean, if you're in a place like Iran or North Korea or something like that, anonymous blogging is the only way you can ever get your point of view out without being searched down and thrown in jail or worse. But when it comes to a society like ours, an open society, you know, do there have to be some checks and balances, not national, but maybe website to website on who comments on things.

But we didn't really have time to get into what you do about those people. But it's a matter of, you know, you really have to be aware. You have to be aware of what you post on the internet which is why I always caution young people never post a naked photograph of yourself on the internet, but it's for the rest of it. These are very thorny issues that we're going to have to deal with.

Now, Shirley Sherrod may take this in a new direction if she actually does pursue a defamation suit as she said she might against Andrew Breitbart. She has the power now, and she also has the profile to maybe bring this into a new light. So, we'll see where this goes.

PHILLIPS: And a lot of people jump onboard. That's for sure. I know it's a subject we can talk about for a long time. Thanks, John.

Harvesting the power of the internet for politics. Thousands of liberal bloggers and activists sound off in the Las Vegas desert. And they're turning up the heat on Republicans and Democrats. We're going inside the net roots nation.


PHILLIPS: No big spending here. A hundred bucks in some elbow grease and wrist would get you this, a hand crank laptop. Remember this, they're not about the size of a textbook. It was a 2005 project from the co-founder of MIT. The goal was to make computers more affordable to children and developing countries.

That is too expensive for India. The government has unveiled a $35 computer prototype. That's right. Thirty-five bucks. It's a touch screen device that kind of looks like an iPad but not as fancy. And it can be used for things like word processing, web browsing, and even video conferencing. The computer is expected to be ready for use in colleges and universities next year. The government says they hope to eventually drop the cost even lower to get this, 10 bucks.

All right. Just a few minutes ago, I was chatting with John Roberts about the power of the internet. There is no doubt that it's a force to be reckoned with. Just ask Shirley Sherrod. Her words got caught in the tangled web and led to her ouster at the USDA. But liberal bloggers are hoping to harness the internet's power for political change. Thousands of them right now meeting in Las Vegas at the Net Roots Nation Conference. Chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, joining us live from D.C.

Now, Candy, a lot of these bloggers seem frustrated with the president and plenty of Democratic incumbents, but does President Obama even care what they have to say?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, sure. Insofar as it really does affect the liberal base of the party and you know who comes out in midterms, the liberal base of the Democrats and the conservative base of the Republicans. So you do care that they show up in November. So to that extent, he does care. However, what you are hearing coming out of this conference is they're upset with him. They don't think that he listens to them nearly as much as he listens to conservative bloggers.

They think the Sherrod incident is just the latest. They think he kowtows too much to conservatives. They cite things like the public option in health care. Something that they very much wanted and the President, they believe is the one who backed off and said OK, you know, let's try to get some support.

They want him to be tougher, to stand up for the liberal causes, and he just hasn't done that so far as they are concerned. So it is both something that he cares about but not something he necessarily listens to.

PHILLIPS: Interesting.

OK. So these bloggers also say that they're gaining major momentum. Are they?

CROWLEY: Well, listen, I think blogs in general are gaining major momentum. And I think you see -- at this particular conference, you're seeing the governors, Democratic governors, show up there because they have some very important races coming up in November. And they would like the blogosphere to be full of support for their folks.

And so they are there doing that. And so and -- various people have gone to talk at various times to gatherings liberal bloggers. So yes, they are, as everyone is, across the Internet, the bloggers gain strength because what happens is that one feeds on to another, one links on to another. And pretty soon you've got a gargantuan audience and you're beginning to move not just public opinion but traditional media or mainstream media, as they like to call it.

PHILLIPS: Well and you love them when they say nice things. You hate them when they don't say nice things. You hate them even more --


PHILLIPS: -- when they say mean things and don't identify themselves. I can get carried away on this one. But you --

CROWLEY: We both could --

PHILLIPS: Yes, we both could go off on this one.

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi even going to meet with them. Why? Is it about, just like you mentioned, meal of cash here?

CROWLEY: Yes. Yes, well, yes exactly. Well, it's not -- it's not just cash. It's the enthusiasm. Because here's -- here's the line. The line basically is well, we've got Sarah Palin and the Tea Party and the conservative right and if you all don't get fired up and if you all don't go to the polls, they're going to win. And then the President's agenda for the second half of his first term is certainly in jeopardy because it's been tough enough to get it through in the first two years when you have a Democratic dominated House and Senate by pretty good numbers.

So insofar as those numbers shrink the President's agenda gets more difficult. So what they are trying to do is stir up the net roots and stir up liberals in general. It's not as much money because that's sort of taking care of an individual place since it is a midterm.

As it is just trying to get them to the polls, because right now, frankly, the base of the Democratic Party is less enthused about Democrats than the base of the Republican Party is enthused about the Republicans.

PHILLIPS: Candy Crowley, see you on "STATE OF THE UNION," Sunday. Thanks for your time today.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: All right.

Well, we've all had blue flu at some point and faked a cold or stomachache just to get the day off. But a blue brain tumor? Are you kidding me?


PHILLIPS: How can you forget that? Girl, you know it's not true. We're talking about fakers today. What better way to get into that than the little Millie Vanillie the fabulous bogus brothers; faked it until they made it then the darn tape skipped. Now, to be fair, they were great lipsynchers when the machine was working.

But let's not just pick on them, remember these other famous fakers, sold the world a bill of goods. There's Jason Blair, formerly of the "New York Times", remember him. The stories he didn't plagiarize, just made up? He might as well abused Darth Vader for added sources.

And how about James Fry, his book "A Million Little Pieces" were sold as an autobiography. Oprah was a big fan and it turned out his memoir belonged in the fiction section. The great book takes your beach house in Kansas.

All right and this alleged faker is not infamous, but as others compared to the others, maybe she should be. A teacher accused of faking a brain tumor so she could get off work. It's what happens when the blue flu goes untreated.

Police in Middletown, Pennsylvania, say Leslie Hernisi claimed the inoperable tumor and that she needed time off for chemo. They say she used it as an excuse to take other random days off too. Who's going to question someone with a brain tumor and a doctor's note, right?

Well, the detectives say she might have milked this tumor up for 16 years. Police got suspicious when she didn't show any symptoms and when the doctor denied any knowledge of her diagnosis. Talk about a shock.

We're talking about a woman who had been in the classroom for 25 years and was nominated three times as teacher of the year in Pennsylvania.


RICHARD WEINSTEIN, SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT (via telephone): Everyone is very surprised by all of this.

DET. ROBERT APPLEBY, LOWER SWATARA POLICE: I think sometimes people get involved in something that gets bigger than they expected it to, and they have trouble getting back out of it, and I think this got out of her control.


PHILLIPS: Oh, and get this, her colleagues felt so bad for her that they pooled their money to send her and her family to Disneyworld. Police say she didn't tell her family the brain tumor story. Hernisi is charged with 12 felony counts of forgery. She's free on bond and goes to court next month.

All right. Now come on now, maybe you've never faked a brain tumor but how far have you gone to get a day off of work or just get out of something that you didn't want to do?

Oh, I've got a cold? Oh, I've got to help my pet sitter move. The dog ate my homework, blah, blah, blah. You remember all the excuses. Tell me yours.

A lot more news to bring you in the next hour. Let's check in with our team of reporters to see what they're working on. Let's start with you Reynolds.

WOLF: OK, first and foremost, we're talking about tropical storm Bonnie. That storm now affecting south Florida but has a bead on the Gulf of Mexico. We'll give you the latest on that. Plus we're watching some heavy rainfall affecting parts of southern Wisconsin, rain so heavy, over seven inches in 2 1/2 hours. The airport closed down. More on that moments away.

MARCIANO: And I'm Rob Marciano, in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Tropical Storm Bonnie has prompted the evacuation of all personnel and vessels near the oil spill. We'll have a live report at the top of the hour.

PATRICIA WU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Patricia Wu in New York. There's no estate tax to pay this year, but unless Congress acts, it returns next year at a whopping 55 percent for all estates over $1 million. It's not just the super rich who might get caught. We'll break it down in the next hour -- Kyra. PHILLIPS: Thanks guys. Well, having a problem with bullies? No problem. Just pen a letter to the President. That's exactly what one Philadelphia 11-year-old did, and guess what, she got a response. She reads that letter for us coming up in the next hour.