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American Morning

Disturbing Revelation in the Search for Missing Illinois Mom Stacy Peterson; Police in Florida Are on a Manhunt; President Pervez Musharraf Will Be Sworn in for Another Term as a Civilian

Aired November 28, 2007 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. A dramatic shift overnight. Pakistan's president steps down as military chief.
New questions. Did Drew Peterson get help moving something large from his house the day his wife disappeared?

Plus, your questions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would you do as president to repair the image of America?


ROBERTS: Tuning up for the YouTube debate. A sneak peek at the best you had to offer...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do any of you wear toupees?



Questions are flying fast and furiously and we'll get to a lot of them tonight, that YouTube debate. Looking forward to that. Thanks for joining us on this Wednesday, the 28th of November. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us.

We have a brand new disturbing revelation this morning in the search for missing Illinois mom, Stacy Peterson. One of her husband's relatives is now saying that he may have unknowingly helped Drew Peterson dump her body.

The "Chicago Tribune" and the "Chicago Sun-Times" both reporting his story. He is Drew Peterson's stepbrother. The paper say that he told a friend that he helped Drew Peterson haul out a large rectangular container which was warm to the touch and weighed about 120 pounds, what Stacy Peterson weighed. This was on October 28th, a day before Stacy's sister reported her missing. The man was reportedly so distraught that he was hospitalized for an apparent suicide attempt two days later. Search teams say that police told them to look out for a blue barrel, not a rectangular container that was big enough to fit a woman's body.

ROBERTS: Breaking news this morning from Pakistan.

President Pervez Musharraf is now a civilian. He stepped down as commander of the nation's military today, one day before he'll be sworn in for a third term. General Musharraf gave one final salute to his troops before he handed over the ceremonial baton to his successor.

It's a move that could help ease the political crisis that threatened to bring him down. Pakistan has been a key ally in the war on terror with the United States. And the Bush administration has been urging Musharraf to lift emergency rule before holding general elections.

A sign of hope this morning. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet together in the White House today. Both men had promised to start a new round of peace talks for the first time in seven years.

More than 50 countries are attending a Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland. The main goal? To create an independent Palestinian state before President Bush's term is up.

And Blackwater security guards in Iraq under fire again, this time, new allegations that some of them are using drugs. A civil suit on behalf of victims of that shooting back in September in Baghdad says a quarter of Blackwater's guards are taking steroids and other judgment-altering substances.

Blackwater denies the charges. The suit also accuses them of ignoring a direct order and abandoning their post shortly before the shooting -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Also new this morning, more turmoil at the top of the Red Cross. The charity's president forced to resign after only six months on the job. He was the fifth person to go in just six years.

Mark Everson is accused of having an affair with one of his employee. Everson is married and has two children. His also the former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

A top aide is leaving the White House according to the "Wall Street Journal." President Bush's economic adviser Al Hubbard is expected to step down at the end of the year. That announcement could come as early as today. The departure comes as the administration deals with the problems in the mortgage industry.

Well, who would win if Florida -- in Florida if the general election were held right now? Just moments ago a new CNN opinion research poll was released that puts Hillary Clinton on top. Among registered voters in Florida, she would get 51 percent of the vote. On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani would take home 42 percent.

One of the reasons Giuliani may be ahead in the polls of the GOP is terrorism. That same poll of Florida voters puts Giuliani in a commanding lead over John McCain, Fred Thompson, and the rest of the pack when it comes to who best can handle terrorism. The former New York City mayor gets a whopping 53 percent of the vote with McCain a distant second at only 19 percent.

And a reminder, it always goes down tonight. Another CNN-YouTube debate and this time it's the Republican's turn. Be sure to catch it live right here on CNN. It begins at 8:00 Eastern from St. Petersburg, Florida hosted by Anderson Cooper.

Jesse Jackson claims all Democratic presidential candidates except John Edwards are ignoring African-Americans. Jackson says no candidate is making their urban agenda a priority. He also noted that no candidate showed up for the protest in Jena, Louisiana.

Senator Chris Dodd said Jackson is simply wrong.


SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I worked with Reverend Jackson all the time. In fact, I was one of the few who participated last year in his -- in the Wall Street summit he has periodically to talk about these issues here and certainly been deeply involved in dealing with the predatory lending practices.


CHETRY: Senator Barack Obama's campaign also spoke out citing Obama's proposed $6 billion urban poverty plan.

Earlier this year, Jackson who supports Obama accused him of, quote, "acting white."

ROBERTS: The manhunt is on for the person who shot and killed NFL's Sean Taylor. Football fans grieved the loss of the Redskins defensive back at a vigil last night. The pro-bowler's father, who is also a police chief in Florida City, that's south of Miami, is making an emotional plea for the shooter to come out of the shadows.


PEDRO TAYLOR, SEAN TAYLOR'S FATHER: Own up to it and say, "You know what? Maybe it was a mistake, maybe it shouldn't have happened but it happened."


ROBERTS: Alina Cho now live at our national update desk with the latest on the investigation and the search for a killer. Good morning, Alina. ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, good morning to you.

It doesn't appear at this point as though Miami police have any strong leads but what they are saying is that this is clearly a homicide investigation and there are clear signs of a break-in at the home.

Now there are also some new details coming about, about what may have happened on the night Taylor was shot. A teammate who spoke with Taylor's girlfriend talked to CNN last night. He said that she may have been sleeping and didn't see anything.

Now the girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, is actually the niece of actor Andy Garcia. Interestingly enough, Taylor himself spoke out in 2005 about another shooting incident and about how life can be fragile.


SEAN TAYLOR, DEFENSIVE BACK, WASHINGTON REDSKINS: We've seen a couple of players in the last couple of weeks, you know, be subjects to shootings and it's just a life-changing thing where one shot of a bullet or whatever the case is, you know, it changes lives, so it's just, basically, just staying away from those type of things and staying out of harm's danger -- harm's way.


CHO: Just eerie to listen to that now. Now the Washington Redskins will resume practice today. They will play at home on Sunday. Also around the league, NFL teams this weekend will be holding moments of silence to remember Taylor. He was just 24 years old, a first round draft pick, and really at the height of his career.

Going forward, John, the big question is going to be, was this a random act of violence or pre-meditated murder? Our John Zarrella is reporting in Miami that there was a five-foot concrete fence and a gate at the home but somehow, the alarm system was off. And also his attorney is telling CNN that there is reason to believe that the phone lines were either cut or that the phones were off.

Police are not confirming or denying any of this, John. They're only saying that right now they're looking for an unnamed suspect.

ROBERTS: Yes. I lived in Miami for a time and cutting that phone line, which also cuts the burglar alarm, is a favorite tactic of people breaking and entering.

Alina Cho for us this morning. Alina, thanks.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: O.J. Simpson back in court today. He is expected to plead not guilty to 12 charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery. Simpson and two other men were accused of robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room back in September. Simpson says he was just trying to take back items that were stolen from him. The judge will also pick a trial date -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Time to check in with our team of AMERICAN MORNING correspondents for other story new this is morning and that market correction didn't last too long. Wall Street rebounds after Monday's big drop.

Ali Velshi is at the business update desk with more. You know, we asked the question yesterday in our "Quick Vote," do you think we're entering a recession. And a lot of worries Monday and then yesterday was looking up.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I think the number of people responding was well over 80 percent saying that we're in danger of a recession. But, you know, for John, who was away Monday and Tuesday, it's like nothing happened.

The Dow lost about 237 points on Monday, putting the market into a correction, which is 10 percent off of its high point, which we reached in October, and then look what happened yesterday, almost all of it back, 215-point gain on the Dow. Nice big strong gain on the NASDAQ and the S&P 500.

We're back out of the correction, though most people I spoke to yesterday on Wall Street said, "We don't know what to make of the gains and losses on a daily basis." It's just back and forth. We have more bad news -- yesterday we had more housing bad news. We'll get more housing news again today.

Wells Fargo this morning, one of the nation's largest lenders, is saying that it is writing off $1.4 billion because of bad loans related to bad loans. So it's not like there's great news today. The futures are pointing lower. We'll have more news for you on housing through the course of the morning but the Dow came back yesterday -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Ali, thanks so much.


CHETRY: Meanwhile the GOP candidates are getting ready for tonight's big CNN-YouTube debate. It's taking place in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our Veronica De La Cruz has been keeping an eye on the preparations. Hey, Veronica.


Now this time around, we're seeing a lot more questions than the Democratic debate. We saw some 3,000 submitted to YouTube. This time, there are at least 2,000 more.

Kiran, take a look at this. Here it is, the stage being set in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, our political unit has been working around the clock to choose about 40 questions to pose to the candidates tonight.

So, questions, of course, what are people asking, what kinds of questions are going to be picked, and will the entire thing work? We'll be breaking it down coming up in about 30 minutes. Kiran and John, back to you.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks very much, Veronica. We'll see you soon.

A winner crowned last night in the fifth season of "Dancing with the Stars."




ROBERTS: Race car driver Helio Castroneves says he'll put the trophy between the two he got for winning the Indy 500. He came in to the final contest in second place but beat Melanie Brown, also known as Scary Spice. Thanks to the audience vote, Castroneves's partner, Julianne Hough, also won last year when she partnered up with Olympic speed skater, Apollo Anton Ono.

CHETRY: I just love her. She -- they were great. I mean it was a good season.

ROBERTS: Unfortunately the only part of the season I saw was when Marie Osmond collapsed.

CHETRY: Yes. That was the -- well, she was a crowd favorite as well, Marie Osmond. But I had it on tape, it's from 9:00 to 11:00. We're not staying up to watch it.


CHETRY: So sorry if it was a spoiler for anybody but...

ROBERTS: This is great, though, it's all brand new. It was like...

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: It's just like being there. Your "Quick Hits" now. A clean bill of health for passengers who flew with tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker. American and Canadian health officials say test revealed no one on board two Transatlantic flights with Speaker has been infected with TB.

Speaker triggered an international health scare back in May when he flew to Europe for his wedding after doctors told him not to. Speaker was quarantined for weeks after returning to the United States.

A Somali immigrant is going to prison for conspiring with an al Qaeda terrorist to blow up an Ohio shopping mall. A federal judge in Columbia sentenced Nuradin Abdi to 10 years and ordered him to be deported to Somali -- Somalia after serving his prison term.

The alleged plot was never carried out. Abdi's attorney says his client was guilty of nothing more than ranting about the U.S. handling of the war in Afghanistan.

A unique leaf found among the saw grass to the side of a Florida highway. Who found the hefty bags packed full of pot? We'll tell you, coming up.

And what are the Republican candidates going to do to distance themselves from the unpopular policies of the Bush administration? Will they do anything at all? That's just one of the questions sent in for tonight's CNN-YouTube debate. Up next, a preview of what else we can expect.

We're talking to the Florida Republican Party chairman. That's coming right up on AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: Today's "Weather Update" brought to you by...


ROBERTS: Fifteen minutes now after the hour and some amazing shots of the morning in our "Quick Hits" now. A house up in flames north of the border, a volunteer firefighter races to stop the fire in British Columbia, Canada. It was in the central part of the province. The home was destroyed but thankfully no one home at the time.

Looking for trash and finding instead a stash. A Florida state police cruiser covered in bags of pot. Police say crews picking up garbage along Interstate 4 found all the freshly-picked herb worth about $62,000 on the street.

And do you have change for a million? Listen to this. Some guy in Georgia walked into a bank and asked to open up an account. He slipped a teller a $1 million bill as his first deposit. Apparently, he cursed the people behind the glass when they said no, they weren't going to accept it. He was arrested for forgery since, of course, there is no million-dollar bill. The largest denomination of United States currency ever made? The $100,000 bill -- that was back in the 1930s -- featured a portrait of President Woodrow Wilson - Kiran?

CHETRY: Well, tonight's the night the Republican candidates square off and answer your questions. The second CNN-YouTube debate is happening in St. Petersburg, Florida.

And joining us now is Jim Greer. He's the chairman of the Republican Party in Florida. Good morning, Jim. Thanks for joining us this early.

JIM GREER, CHAIRMAN, FLA. REPUBLICAN PARTY: Good morning, Kiran. How are you?

CHETRY: Great. Well, you know, tonight's the big night, the debate, and the chance for the Republican candidates to really set themselves apart from each other and these questions, they've gotten a record number have been coming in. Let's listen to one of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George W. Bush and his administration are suffering from all-time lows in approval ratings. How will you, as a Republican candidate, distance yourself from the president and his administration in order to appeal to the mainstream voter?


CHETRY: Jim, how do you think that the candidates should tackle that question tonight?

GREER: Well, I think you're going to see an aggressive approach to distinguish themselves from not only each other but from the current president. I think they're going to talk about the good things this administration has done and they're going to talk about things that they would do differently.

So, I think tonight the gloves are going to come off a little bit. They are going to be focused about the issues more and the voters are going to get to see a distinction between the candidates.

CHETRY: All right. You know the other interesting thing that's happening in Florida is that you guys have a -- have jumped ahead. Your primaries are going to be January 29th. Usually it's in March. And, so, it really is a chance for the Florida voters to weigh in a little bit earlier.

How do you think that's going to affect campaigning in your state and also how much of your residents have a say in who they pick?

GREER: Well, Florida is the prize. Whoever wins Florida on January 29th, that's going to be the conversation of the nation on super Tuesday, February 5th, and I think you can see by all the candidates coming to Florida almost every day, with the exception of the Democrats, the Democrats aren't campaigning in Florida because they signed a pledge not to.

Florida is the prize. The conversation of the nation on February 5th is going to be what did Florida do last Tuesday.

CHETRY: There's a couple of new CNN research polls out we want to tell you about. One is that 38 percent of likely Republican voters who were sampled say they would pick Rudy Giuliani in the primary in Florida. And that's a pretty big lead over Mitt Romney, who's at 17 percent, coming in seventh -- second place.

But Giuliani is actually trailing in some of the other crucial states, Iowa, as we've seen, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. How do you think that voters are going to be able to help solidify around a clear leader? It doesn't seem as though nationally the Republicans have picked a clear frontrunner. GREER: Well, I think with the compressed primary calendar, what's happened in the past may not necessarily apply to what's going to happen in the future. Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina are going to continue to play an important role in the process. But the way the calendar is today, it's not going to reflect what happened in the past.

I think you could lose those states, come in a close second. Come to Florida, win Florida, because, you know, we are the melting pot of the nation. Our citizens in Florida come from all around the country and what Florida is thinking is what the nation's thinking. So, I think the candidates that are focusing on Florida and are going to distinguish themselves through leadership, talking about the national economy, health care, the national security and defense, that's what's going to be the issues talked about not only in Florida and the other states.

And if you win Florida, I think you're going to win a big prize. You're going to have a tremendous amount of momentum and go into February 5th.

CHETRY: All right. But let me just ask you this real quick before we have to go. Another CNN poll has Clinton at 51 percent over Giuliani in Florida, that Florida would go to Hillary Clinton. Do you agree with that?

GREER: Not at all. There's a distinction between the Republicans and the Democrats, particularly Hillary. They're not campaigning in Florida. They're using Florida as an ATM machine. But they're not talking to the voters, listening to the issues, because they signed a pledge that they won't.

Republican candidates are here every day, listening to the voters, and we're going to win Florida. The Republican Party is going to win Florida and win the nation next November. CHETRY: All right. Jim Greer, Florida Republican Party chair, joining us from St. Petersburg. I'm sure you'll be watching tonight 8:00 when the YouTube debate gets under way. Thanks for being with us.

GREER: Absolutely, thanks.

By the way, it's going to be featuring all eight Republican candidates, so be sure to catch it tonight live, 8:00 Eastern from St. Petersburg. It's going to be hosted by Anderson Cooper.

So what is it going to take to put on tonight's debate? You can check out There's an exclusive sneak peek with behind-the-scenes video and blogging from the best political team on television, including John Roberts right here, who's heading there after the show. That's

By the way, it brings us to the morning's "Quick Vote" question. Which Republican candidate will best handle tonight's YouTube debate format? Cast your vote,, and we're going to get a tally of the votes a little later in the hour, because, as we've, this is quite different from your typical debate.

ROBERTS: Yes, I mean, there's a chance that this is just going to become a popularity contest but think about the vote, you know, who will excel in the YouTube-type of format before you cast your vote.

CHETRY: All right.


CHETRY: It should be interesting to see what they think.

ROBERTS: I think a couple of people who'll do well are both Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. I think they know how to talk to people when given questions over the Internet. So we'll see.

An eyewitness could break the Madeleine McCann case wide open. His story may explain what really happened to the little girl who disappeared in Portugal.

And you probably heard about Miss Puerto Rico's unfortunate encounter with pepper spray. Well, now, the 24-year-old beauty queen is back in the headlines again today and it seems police have some questions for her. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: The man who admitted the sports drink Gatorade has died. Doctor J. Robert Cade created the drink back in 1965 at the University of Florida. The football team goes by the name of Gators, hence Gatorade. He said his goal was to help the school's football players survive playing in the swamp-like heat there in Gainesville at the time.

There was nothing like it on the market and Kiran and I were talking about this a little bit, too. It took a few attempts to get it right, right? One of the first concoctions tasted like what?

CHETRY: No, no, they said it tasted like toilet water, although I don't know who's tasted toilet water. But Cade himself said that it actually made him throw up the first time he drank it. But they figured out, add more sugar, add a little juice and boom, Gatorade was born.

ROBERTS: They said the first concoction cost 43 bucks to make. Since then the University of Florida has collected more than $150 million for its 20 percent share of the royalties.

Cade was 80 years old when he died.

CHETRY: Well, how about this? Your "Hot Shot" for the day. Would you ever get this as a pet for your kid? The boy and his pet python - there it is -- big enough to swallow him, 20 feet long. He doesn't mind, though, curling up with it. That must be a fun ride, you know, forget the tricycle, we have a python to play with.

The kid now refuses to go to sleep without his snake. The boy's father reportedly took it out to the woods three times but the python kept slithering back to her young master.

Where is this, by the way, this is not in the U.S., is it?

ROBERTS: No, it looks like Indonesia to me.

CHETRY: There you go. How about that? How about that? Would you ever let your kid go to sleep with something that could just swallow it up? There you go.

Well, if you have a "Hot Shot," send it to us, the address Please include your name, where you're from, and a little bit about the picture or video. Please make sure the image is yours.

ROBERTS: Wow. Story coming up now in the next half-hour that you just can't miss, the stage is set, CNN and YouTube's second debate.

CHETRY: Yes. You're going to get a chance to get your first glimpse at some of the submissions so far. Was it more than 5,000, right?

ROBERTS: About 6,000, I think, yes.

CHETRY: Six thousand submissions...

ROBERTS: Double what we got for the Democratic debate.

CHETRY: Yes. How do you narrow it all down? And what are people most wanting to know from the candidates? We're going to talk about that and have the day's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


CHETRY: All right. There's a beautiful picture of Manhattan. You see the construction cranes a lot, though. You're around here, you can see a construction crane, and then right behind it, looks like the Empire State Building as the sun's just starting to come up.

Thirty-six degrees right now, shaping up to -- not get that much warmer, getting into the mid-40s today and cloudy.

ROBERTS: It is chilly out there.

COLLINS: Yes. At least it's not raining.

Welcome back. It's Wednesday, November 28th. I'm Kiran Chetry,

ROBERTS: And I'm John Roberts. Good morning to you.

New this morning a disturbing revelation in the search for missing Illinois mom Stacy Peterson. One of her husband's relatives says that he may have, quote, "unknowingly" helped Drew Peterson dump the body. Two Chicago newspapers are reporting that the man told a friend that he helped Drew Peterson haul out a large rectangular container which was warm to the touch and weighed about as much as Stacy would have.

Police are also looking at surveillance video from a supermarket after Drew Peterson claimed he received a letter from someone about a possible Stacy sighting but right now anything he says raises doubts.


PATRICIA SAUNDERS, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I think this guy is very deceptively complex. This is no simple man, this Drew Peterson, and it is possible that he faked this letter.


ROBERTS: Drew Peterson, a former police officer, is the only named suspect in his wife's disappearance.

Police in Florida are on a manhunt this morning for the person who shot and killed Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. He died yesterday after suffering severe blood loss from the gunshot wounds suffered inside his home. Now, investigators are trying to figure out if it was a break-in gone bad or premeditated murder.


RICHARD SHARPSTEIN, FORMER TAYLOR ATTORNEY AND FRIEND: In my opinion, this was not random violence. The house had been broken into two weeks before. It's my speculation that this was burglars that had already been there. They were armed. They didn't expect to have Sean there, because he was a football player. They happened upon him. Fired two random shots, one went in his leg and one in the wall. If they were there to kill him, they would have unloaded six rounds in his head or chest.


ROBERTS: Teammate will have a prayer service before practice later on today. Last night on CNN's "Out In The Open" fellow pro- bowler running back Clinton Ports talked about how Taylor's girlfriend is coping with the tragedy.


CLINTON PORTS, TAYLOR'S TEAMMATE: I think she's pretty, holding up pretty well, considering the conditions. She really didn't say a lot, just that they were in bed when Sean heard a noise, and you know, he told her and the baby to stay still and stay in the room, and he went out and checked it. I don't think he ever came back in. You know, I think she was trying to be strong. That's her story, you know, she was sleeping. I don't think she had an opportunity to see anyone.


ROBERTS: The Redskins will also honor Sean Taylor with a patch on their Jerseys and his number 21, on their helmets.


CHETRY: Faulty intelligence now being blamed for the accidental deaths of 14 Afghan construction workers in coalition air strikes. The workers were building a road for the U.S. military in a remote mountain region of eastern Afghanistan. They were sleeping in two large tents when they were attacked Monday night. Coalition forces got reports that the Taliban and other militant fighters were in the area but afghan officials say quote, "The enemy of the Afghans purposely fed wrong information to U.S.-led troops."

There are also new allegations that Blackwater security guards are on steroids. A civil suit on behalf of victims of the September shooting in Baghdad say that a quarter of Blackwater's guards in Iraq are on steroids and other judgment-altering drugs and that those steroids could have played a part in that shooting. The suit also accuses them of ignoring a direct order and abandoning their post shortly before the shooting. Blackwater says its employees are banned from using any steroids or any performance-enhancing drugs but decline to comment on the other charges. 17 Iraqi civilians died in that September shooting.

Breaking news from Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf will be sworn in for another term tomorrow, as a civilian. He's stepped down as commander of the nation's military earlier today. This happen as the countries troops are engaged in the hunt for al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. International correspondent Karl Penhaul has new developments live from Islamabad this morning.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, by stepping down today as head of the army, Pervez Musharraf fulfilled one of the key demands from President George Bush. George Bush had all along been calling for President Musharraf to step down as head of the army and end emergency rule because as a key ally in the war on terror, President Bush didn't really want to be seen supporting a man who's widely being criticized at home by domestic opposition as leading Pakistan into dictatorship.

The second key issue here today is how will the new head of the army, General Ashfaq Kiani take on the mantle of this war against terror? Because, not only now is he fighting this pro-al Qaeda elements on the border, they were fighting U.S. and NATO forces inside Afghanistan, but those Islamic militants are also fighting a home-grown rebellion in Pakistan itself. And so what military strategists are saying now is that general Kiani in league with President Musharraf, will not only have to fight these militants with bullets but they also have to try and spread Democracy, spread the wealth and end the poverty that has proved a breeding ground for the Taliban and Islamic militants in the border areas of Pakistan.


CHETRY: Karl Penhaul reporting from Islamabad this morning, thank you. ROBERTS: Coming up on 35 minutes after the hour now. There is a report this morning that a witness may have seen Madeleine McCann being dragged away. The witness tells Britain's "Mirror" newspaper, that just hours after she went missing, he saw a little girl who resembled Madeleine being hauled toward a marina by a vicious-looking couple. George Burke, a British ex-patriot says Portuguese police ignored his story at the time of the disappearance. That was back in May.

CHETRY: There are some new questions this morning about the case of the pageant queen and the pepper spray. Police in Puerto Rico are now investigating claims by Ingrid Marie Rivera that her gown and makeup were sprayed with pepper spray to try to derail her quest for the crown. Police are skeptical about how she was able to stop crying and stay composed during camera appearances if she, indeed, was suffering from pepper spray, reaction to pepper spray, because once she got off camera she reportedly had to take off her gown, and put ice bags on her face and body. Rivera's clothes did test positive for pepper spray and she went on to win that contest.

Well, she sings, she dances, she acts, now she endorses. Which presidential candidate is Barbara Streisand backing and why? The answer ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: This just in to CNN. Drew Peterson, the Illinois police officer under scrutiny right now for the disappearance of his wife. He is responding to reports that he killed her and disposed her body in a barrel. This is what he told local affiliate out of Chicago, WGN, last night.


DREW PETERSON, SUSPECT IN WIFE'S DISAPPEARANCE: I have no idea what anybody's talking about like that.

Reporter: Warm to the touch.


Reporter: He says he believed that he helped you dispose of your wife's body. Can you at least respond to that?



PETERSON: No response, talk to my lawyers. I got nothing to say about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: No truth to it whatsoever?

PETERSON: None. Nobody helped me with anything in such a manner. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: On October 28th, where were you on October 28th? This gentleman says he helped you carry a container out of your home?

PETERSON: Talk to my attorney.


CHETRY: That was Drew Peterson responding to a story that's in two Chicago newspapers this morning. That a relative says he helped Peterson carry out a rectangular plastic container that was warm to the touch, that weighed about 120 pounds, on October 28th. Stacy Peterson, his wife and mother of two, was reported missing the very next day.

ROBERTS: 40 minutes now after the hour and let's go to Rob Marciano down in Atlanta for a check on the weather. We got some severe weather today, Rob, where is that happening at?


ROBERTS: A Hollywood legend is throwing her support behind Hillary Clinton. That tops this morning's "Political Ticker". Barbra Streisand has endorsed Senator Clinton saying that she has quote, "Already proven to a generation of women that there are no limits for success." Streisand also said America would gain respect around the world if Clinton were president.

Rudy Giuliani is trailing in the early primary states but he's on top in Florida. New CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll just out this morning, gives Giuliani the lead over the rest of the Republican field. Florida voter say if the primary were held today, Giuliani would get 38 percent, followed by Mitt Romney at 17 percent. He also leads on all the major issues of concern to voters.

Meanwhile, Romney is fighting back against accusations that he categorically ruled out putting a Muslim in his cabinet, should he be elected. Romney supposedly made the comment at a recent campaign event. It was reported in the "Christian Science Monitor" that Mitt Romney says it's just not true.

And CNN is about to do it again, another YouTube debate, this time it's the Republican's turn. What do you want to ask the candidates? Be sure to catch the debate live right here on CNN tonight. It begins at 8:00 eastern from St. Petersburg, Florida, hosted by our own Anderson Cooper. And you can find all the day's political news around the clock at

CHETRY: How about this, a story of love conquering all, on board. That cruise ship that sank off of Antarctica last week. A pair of newlyweds, the two, as well as more than 100 others were forced to abandon the ship. The couple spent part of their honeymoon bobbing around in life rafts in freezing cold water.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TREVOR TAKAYAMA, CRUISE SHIP SURVIVOR: It's so unreal, because then they're like, because when we got it on, in the situation, you know, after the emergency call we're like, oh yeah you know we can fix this leak, it's contained, then the water going down, then all of the sudden, water up, not contained, get out.

TORREY TRUST, CRUISE SHIP SURVIVOR: We did everything we could to keep warm, which wasn't much. I got to the point of shaking so bad that I didn't know how much longer I would last but it got better.

TAKAYAMA: A lot of people just had like what they were wearing so they wanted to change, when underwear came, everyone cheered and pajamas, people wanted that.


CHETRY: Well, the happy newlyweds are now safe and sound. They're back in San Diego this morning and if you can believe it, this is only half of their story. They also escaped the wildfires and a hurricane. They're sharing their story and their pictures with us, coming up in the 8:00 hour.

ROBERTS: Is this going to turn out well, this whole thing?

CHETRY: I hope so.

ROBERTS: Got to wonder about that.

Your "Quick Hits" now. A judge in Niagara Falls, New York has been removed from the bench after he ordered a courtroom full of people to jail when no one claimed ownership of a ringing cell phone. The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct says judge quote "snapped" and engaged in inexplicable madness during the court session.

The parents accused of kidnapping their 20-year-old daughter to stop their wedding had reached a plea deal. They were originally charged with felony kidnapping that will plea guilty to reduced charges in a Utah court today. They say there were concerned about the groom but their daughter got married anyways.

We're just hours away from tonight's CNN/YouTube Debate with the Republican candidates. What kinds of questions are being asked? Which are likely to make the final cut? Our Veronica De La Cruz has got the scoop for you. She'll be up when AMERICAN MORNING returns.


CHETRY: 48 minutes past the hour now. And if your just joining us, here's a look at what's making headline this morning. The "Chicago Tribune" and "Chicago Sun-Times" both reporting some new developments in the Stacy Peterson case. They are reporting this morning that Drew Peterson's stepbrother says he helped Peterson's husband, Drew, carry a large plastic container out of the house, the day before Stacy was reported missing. He reportedly told a friend that she was worried, that he was worried that he helped Peterson dispose of Stacy's body. We're going to have more on this story coming up at the top of the hour.

Also, no new lead this morning about who shot and killed NFL star Sean Taylor. His team, The Washington Redskins will still practice today. They play at home Sunday. This weekend NFL teams will hold moments of silence in honor of Taylor.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will be sworn in for a third term tomorrow. This time as a civilian after he stepped down as commander of the nation's military. Musharraf resigned as the country's military leader today, that caps a 46-year career in the nation's Armed Forces and ends eight years of military rule.

Well, in just a few hours, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be meeting at the White House. It will be the first such negotiations in seven years, and a big step up until President Bush announced that there were fears of break-through wouldn't happen. Nearly 50 countries are attending this Middle East conference in Annapolis. The goal to eventually create an independent Palestinian state.

ROBERTS: Well, just about 13 hours from now, the American public gets its chance to ask the questions of the candidates. The Republican presidential hopefuls gathered in St. Petersburg, Florida, for tonight's second CNN/YouTube Debate.

CHETRY: And our Veronica De La Cruz joins us now with a look at what we can expect. So, you had a chance to field through some of the questions. Good stuff?

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's great stuff out there. But the interesting thing is what's going to make it tonight, right? 40 questions total.

CHETRY: I'm excited to find out.

DE LA CRUZ: A chance for the public to be more interactive with the candidates. As you know, this is the second YouTube debate and it's going to be pretty similar to the one back in July. The Democratic debate, almost 500 video questions have been submitted to YouTube and about 40 will be hand-picked by CNN's political team. They will be played for the candidates on a 25-foot screen as if the person was really there in the room asking the question and the candidate will get a chance to respond. Some of the questions are for individuals, some are for the field and as for how those questions are picked, they had to meet certain criteria, basically creative, personal, quick 30, seconds max.

Our political team has been going through these submissions trying to focus on questions that highlight the differences among the candidates and the questions are being kept secret. But our political director did say some are striking, some are funny but they are all incredibly meaningful. Here is a sample of some of the questions that we might see tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you saw with your very own eyes, an illegal immigrant crossing the border, what would do you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should you make a law that outlaws constant standardized (INAUDIBLE) curriculum and force the teachers to finally teach us? Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When are you candidates going to answer questions specifically and stop this doubletalk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I look at those of you who are running for president, you look nothing like me. What are you going to do as president to ensure diversity in your administration?


DE LA CRUZ: So, as you can see, the questions definitely run the gamut and the political team has also said not to expect any foolish questions or stunts. Because, it's not the debate is about. They're also trying to avoid any louder questions from members of other parties and it's definitely going to be interesting, considering this is the first time the Republicans are debating in more than a month. Also, one of the last debates before the Iowa caucuses.

ROBERTS: You know, I noticed that alien head which submitted a question to the Democrats, submitted a question for the Republicans, any word on whether the snowman?

DE LA CRUZ: Billiam the snowman as well. So, big question. We're going to have to tune in tonight to find out. John, you're going to be there in person.

ROBERTS: I will.

CHETRY: Are you flying out after the show? Headed right down there to Florida?

ROBERTS: Should be a lot of fun. I enjoyed the last one. This one should be great as well.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, looking forward to it.

ROBERTS: Extra little bit of time in there might just make it all that much richer.

DE LA CRUZ: You know, there were so many questions. I wish there was more time. You know, 5,000 questions this time around.

ROBERTS: You got a couple of weeks?

CHETRY: We have a 24-hour channel, why not, right? Thanks, Veronica.

ROBERTS: Veronica, thanks. And be sure to catch the debate live, right here on CNN tonight, 8:00 eastern from St. Petersburg, Florida, hosted by our Anderson Cooper. Also, send us your I-reports from the evening if you're going to be down there. You can do that at And that brings us to this morning's quick vote question, which Republican candidate will best handle tonight's YouTube debate format? Cast your vote at Right now, 0 percent say representative Tom Tancredo, 7 percent say Mike Huckabee, 3 percent say Mitt Romney, 5 percent for Giuliani, 8 percent for Fred Thompson, 2 percent say Senator John McCain, get this, 83 percent say Congressman Ron Paul. Zero for Congressman Duncan Hunter. We'll continue to update the votes throughout the morning.

CHETRY: All right. And remember, it's not necessarily who you like as a candidate, who you think will do best in this YouTube format. So, log on their and vote because Ron Paul is running away with it right now. We also have a clarification in our interview yesterday with the director of the CDC about the flu vaccine. We mentioned cold and cough medicines for children. And there has been a lot of confusion about when to give them and what ages they are safe.

So, just to be clear. Drug companies have voluntarily pulled over- the-counter cough and cold medicines for infants and toddlers under the age of 2. The products though will still be on the shelves for children over 2, but you should still be careful because doctors have warned that these products, these multi-symptom cough and cold medicines could pose health risks to kids under the age of 6.

A lawsuit against Toyota tops your "Quick Hits" now. Two lawsuits claim Toyota sold thousands of unsafe vehicles including cars with broken seat belts and other serious defects. Toyota declined to comment on either suit but a spokesman did say that the company has a different view of the facts.

Well, take a look at this. Is this Jolly St. Nick, is it a saint or a sinner? The post office is investigating. We'll tell you why.

Also, a new study links where you live with your mental health. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will have a list of the most depressed states and the ones where people are the most happy and also the reasons behind it. Coming up at the top of the hour.


CHETRY: Well, you know, what they say. Santa knows if you've been bad or good. Well, now the post office wants to know the same about him. Postal Service lawyers in Texas want to make sure that volunteers who are reading dear Santa letters are not child predators. They're making all Santa's fork over a photo I.D. and sign a waiver, and that's been scaring off some St. Nick's. The volunteers, the number of volunteers dropping 70 percent, when that policy began last year.

ROBERTS: Wow. We'll good thing that they've got the policy in place though, right?

Two minutes now to the top of the hour. Looks like home owners are getting a lump of coal in their stocking for Christmas. Home prices really on the decline here. ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of course, as we discussed while you were away yesterday, I'd gladly accept a lump of coal at this point. The value of a lump of coal is going up. Yes, I mean, look home prices are like markets. We talk about them a lot so it's unclear probably to some people exactly where we stand. But there's one study that comes out. It's called the S&P/Case-Shiller study on home prices. And it came out yesterday. And let's take a look at how it's looking.

Across the country, the national average over the last year we've seen a drop of 4.5 percent. That would be the second consecutive year of a drop. Remember that those home prices went up so much over the last five years that the previous five years, that part of the problem we've got is that the drop is in some people's opinion bringing it back to normal. That doesn't help you if you bought a house anywhere near the peak and are suffering this.

Robert Shiller, who is the economists behind this, suggests that there's a long way to go. This study looks at 20 major metropolitan areas and a national average. The biggest drops right now are in Tampa and Miami, 11 percent and 10 percent. Detroit obviously is still up there. The biggest gains are in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Seattle, gains of almost 5 percent in home prices so as long as you're not moving from Tampa to Seattle, you're OK.

CHETRY: So, when you see that number down 4 percent, you really have to take a look at how it applies to you.

VELSHI: Right. You didn't buy the house in that month so it's exactly a very personal story. The biggest issue is the percentage of homes that are actually worth less than the mortgage on them. That's where the problem comes in. When your mortgage is bigger than your house but yes it is all individual. Just like gas prices, the national average doesn't mean much.

ROBERTS: And of course, when home prices go down, people feel like they've got less money, they spend less, ripple through the economy.

VELSHI: That's right.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks. We'll see you soon. Next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

Bomb shell revelation.


PETERSON: I have no idea what anybody's talking about.


ROBERTS: A distraught relative reportedly afraid he helped Drew Peterson dump his wife's body.

The Ron Paul revolution. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

I usually vote Democrat.


ROBERTS: Converts, crowds, record fund-raising.




ROBERTS: Hear the message that will help him stand out in tonight's YouTube debate.