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American Morning

Terror In Pakistan: Deadly Blast in Lahore; Afghanistan Surge: Proposal to Send 3,000 More Marines; Richardson Out of Presidential Race; Alzheimer's Breakthrough: Treatment Brings Quick Relief

Aired January 10, 2008 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: New evidence in the brain showing why we overeat and what we can do about it on this AMERICAN MORNING.
And welcome. Thanks for being with us on this Thursday, January 10th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. We're following breaking news of a major terrorist attack in Pakistan this morning. A suicide bomber in the city of Lahore killed at least 23 people, most of them police officers and injured nearly 60 others. Dozens of officers were manning a barricade outside of a court building in preparation for an anti-government rally by attorneys today.

Police say the bomber ran up to the police officers, blew himself up. There is no claim of responsibility there yet. A wave of terror attacks against politicians and security forces is sweeping across Pakistan ahead of the February 18th elections there. The parliamentary elections were postponed after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto two weeks ago.

Also, other breaking news this morning. President Bush predicts that there will be a Mideast peace agreement before he leaves office a year from now. He made the bold pronouncement after a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah overnight. At a joint news conference just a short time ago, the president said he is convinced that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders understand the importance of living side by side in peace.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In order for there to be lasting peace, President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert have to come together and make tough choices, and I'm convinced they will. And I believe it's possible, not only possible, I believe it's going to happen, that there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office. That's what I believe.


ROBERTS: Optimistic pronouncement there. The president has left Ramallah and is now on his way to Bethlehem. It is his first visit to the West Bank. The meeting with Abbas comes a day after President Bush met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- Kiran. CHETRY: And out of the war on terror and the plan to send thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates could soon be sending 3,000 marines to the country. Our Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon this morning with more on that. Tell us why now.

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, this is not completely unexpected. The Pentagon says it is planning to move against an expected Taliban spring offensive. Defense Secretary Gates, as of yesterday, has the proposal on his desk to send those 3,000 marines to Afghanistan, to be there on the ground by April.

This is really a reflection of the fact that NATO has been unable to muster enough troops to send to the country. Top commanders there for some months now have been saying they just simply need more combat capability. It's not been said yet where the marines will come from. They will go, however, for a single seven month tour. It is a significant plus up in troops. There are about 26,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan. This would add 3,000 to that, Kiran.

CHETRY: Interesting also that our defense department did try to get other allied nations to contribute troops and that was denied. Any reasoning behind that?

STARR: Well, you know, it's been very tough for NATO. A lot of the NATO governments in Europe are either minority governments or coalition governments. Their parliament simply cannot muster support for this. The U.S. has really been pressing NATO for the last several months. This is an acknowledgement that NATO isn't going to be able to come up with the goods, and there is expected in the spring to be a Taliban offensive yet again.

Really, we've seen attacks on the rise. Of course, over the last several months in Afghanistan, Taliban and Al-Qaeda moving in from that safe haven across the border in Pakistan. It's something they want to try and get a handle on but, you know, we are continuing to see the Taliban really continue their operations unabated at this point -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Coming up at four minutes after the hour, we are waiting for a major announcement today in the battle for the White House. A day after another disappointing performance in New Hampshire, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson decided to call it quits. Sources say that he is expected to officially drop out of the presidential race today. It will probably happen in an announcement at the Capitol building in Santa Fe sometime this afternoon. On Monday, I spoke with him on AMERICAN MORNING in New Hampshire. At that point, he sounded upbeat.


GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to win this thing. You watch. You watch. We got 50 primaries to go and half of the commentators and national news media, they're not hearing what New Hampshire is saying. You watch. They're going to send a message. My objective is to be in the top three tomorrow, and I'm moving up. You watch.


ROBERTS: That was his objective but unfortunately, the next day, Richardson finished in fourth place again. In a campaign where the word "experience has been thrown around a lot, Richardson had plenty of it, both energy secretary and United Nations ambassador, but he didn't come close to topping, cracking the top three in Iowa or New Hampshire. But, you know, Kiran, he's repeatedly been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential running mate who would bring an awful lot to the table.

CHETRY: That's right. So we'll see how it turns today. We'll be listening.

We're also following extreme weather today. Snow headed to Wisconsin today. It's forcing homeowners in Kenosha County to rush to clean up after a rare January tornadoes earlier this week. More than 100 homes destroyed or damaged in the severe weather that hit around Wisconsin. And also in northern Indiana, coping with flash flooding. They've got heavy rain and record high temperatures that rapidly melted the snow and pushed many rivers and streams over their banks there in Indiana.

And here's a look now of Washington State, where crews are conducting controlled explosions to try to prevent dangerous avalanches. They say it will safely move the snow before another foot could fall tonight.

And we want to show you a live look at a stretch of I-4. This is a major interstate between Orlando and Tampa. It's been closed now for the last 24 hours, and this picture looks very similar to the way it did yesterday. Thick smoke for a brush fire and heavy fog is what was blamed for that 70-car pileup yesterday that led to the deaths of four people. Jacqui Jeras is our at weather update desk tracking all of the extreme weather. Is this a rare sight there this time of year, or are we focusing on it because of what happened yesterday?

JACQUI JERAS, AMERICAN MORNING METEOROLOGIST: Well, it happens. But what makes this situation so unique is that that fire, that brush fire that we've been talking about, really makes it so much worse. And the reason being is that, whenever you have a fire, that produces ash and it puts dust into the atmosphere, so any time there's moisture lingering around, the extra ash is what we call condensation nuclei.

So all the water droplets or the water vapor in the air then condenses on that ash, and the fog and the visibility becomes that much worse. So that's why it's so thick out there this morning. And unfortunately, you really need a cold front or maybe some good thunderstorms to push on through in order to clear out that fog. So unfortunately, you could be looking at a couple of days where we're going to be waking up to mornings that look just like that one. Now, the smoke and the fog is so prominent, you can see it 22,500 miles up into space. Take a look at that. This picture from Noah from yesterday morning. There you can see the I-4 corridor and that smoke and fog plume in that area. Now, we do have advisories in effect all across the Gulf coast and Polk County, Florida. We're looking for the visibility to improve and the fog to start to lift a little bit, guys, as we head towards the 9:00, 10:00 hour later this morning.

ROBERTS: Hopefully, it will because it looks terrible again there today. Jacqui, thanks.

A lot of other stories new this morning. Our Alina Cho with this now. She's following those. Good morning, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, John, Kiran. Good morning again. Good morning, everybody.

We're hearing from the former CIA agent who gave the order to destroy videotapes that showed the interrogation of terror suspects. His name is Jose Rodriguez. He now says he will not testify without immunity. He was supposed to be questioned in Washington next Wednesday. Rodriguez, you'll recall, ran the CIA's undercover service in 2005. He ordered the destruction of tapes showing a terror suspect being waterboarded, where he's made to feel like he's drowning. Critics have called that a form of torture.

The manhunt is finally over. Both fugitives who pulled off a Hollywood style escape from a New Jersey jail are now back behind bars. U.S. and Mexican officials tracked Otis Blunt to a $10 a night hotel room in Mexico City and then arrested him Wednesday. Blunt and another inmate, 20-year-old Jose Espinosa, escaped from jail last month, digging through the walls of their cells with metal wire then covering the hole with pictures of girls just like in that movie "The Shawshank Redemption."

Espinosa was caught a mile and a half from the jail on Tuesday. Blunt had been talking to the Reverend Al Sharpton about negotiating a surrender just before he was caught.

Hollywood's honorary mayor has died. Johnny Grant was a fixture at tinsel town events for more than a half century. Doctors say he died last night of natural causes. Johnny Grant was a radio personality and a TV producer, but he was maybe best known, as you can see there, for being that familiar face in the foreground, when they unveiled new stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Grant had a long life. He was 84 years old.

And former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has a new and very lucrative job in the private sector. Blair will be an advisor on world, political and strategic issues for the Wall Street bank J.P. Morgan Chase. He could make up to a million dollars a year. That's 500,000 pounds. Blair left office in June after a decade as prime minister.

He wouldn't be the first former leader to go into the private sector and make millions. But anyway --


CHETRY: Coupled with the latest. Maybe, he can really rake it in.

CHO: You could really rake it in. I asked Ali what he thought of it. He said, well, it's a good deal if you can get it. So there you have it.

ROBERTS: Yes. Something these people spend so long in the public sector...

CHO: They do.

ROBERTS: ... setting the table, and eventually, they figure it's time to eat.

CHO: That's right. Cash it.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: Here's a story that really caught our eye this morning. The hope for the possibility of finding a way to help Alzheimer's patients. A new treatment showing amazing results never before seen. Some patients are showing clearer minds just minutes after the first dose. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the medical update desk. You know, Sanjay, I know this is very preliminary and they used it. They did testing on a very small number of patients. But could this be a break through?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Potentially, Kiran. I'm glad you gave those caveats. This is a very small study. It also wasn't double blinded, meaning that the doctor, the patient, the family members all knew they were trying to get some sort of change with regards to Alzheimer's symptoms. But the results of some of the findings were pretty astounding, Kiran, which is why we are going to talk about them a little bit today.

By way of background, first of all, when you talk about Alzheimer's, obviously, there's lots of different things that are going on in the brain. But one of the things that researchers have really thought a lot about, focusing on something known as cytokines, these molecules that circulate in the brain and help cells actually conduct signals from one to the other.

The theory is that those cytokines are out of whack in someone who has Alzheimer's. And if you can give some sort of stabilizing substance directly into the brain, might you actually get rid of some of the symptoms? That's the background. The cytokine in question was something known as tumor necrosis factor, and the medication that they gave was something known as Enbrel.

Really quick, Kiran. The way they did it, they actually just injected the medication directly in the back of the neck over here and actually allowed that to sort of seep into the brain area, important because it crossed the blood brain barrier. And pretty quickly as you mentioned, people started to have improvements in terms of gait, in terms of cognitive function, in terms of memory. This is exactly what they were looking for and that's some of what they saw there.

We have some of a video of a patient's family's reaction after the medication was given. This was given to us by UCLA and the University of Arkansas. Take a look at how his wife and son reacted.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see that he's clearer. He is more -- he seemed more organized in a way. He seems less coming apart in a sense. It's just seems to me there is something that has put him back to where he was before.


GUPTA: And that's exactly the point that they're trying to make, something that just took him back to the way he was before. Exactly what that is, sometimes hard to describe, Kiran. But you heard it there for yourself what the change was.

CHETRY: And what is the likelihood that they're going to do more studies and this will be available if it indeed does show promise?

GUPTA: Well, you know, there was originally study, a pilot study back in 2006 of about 15 or 16 patients, and obviously, it's gained some momentum. It's still very early in clinical trials. But they are probably going to start trials at several centers around the country.

So they'll probably be recruiting patients for this. It's going to be small numbers. And a lot of people who want to get this probably won't be able to, at least initially. But if it gets approved, you know, within the next few years this might be an option for some people.

CHETRY: Wow. Any hope for these people and for the families as well is certainly welcome. Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Coming up at 13 minutes after the hour now. So what happened? The polls said Barack Obama should have beaten Hillary Clinton by a wide margin in New Hampshire, but she ended up beating him. Coming up, we'll find out why the polls were dead wrong, and could it happen again?

And high school students busted for drinking and partying, but it's how they were caught that's raising eyebrows. That story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: Well, political polls aren't always right but they're usually pretty reliable. But that was not the case on Tuesday. Pollsters and pundits had Hillary Clinton losing to Barack Obama by a wide margin. Even our own CNN/WMUR poll could not predict the outcome. So what happened, and could it happen again?

Andy Smith is the director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. He's in charge of the CNN/WMUR poll, and he joins me now from the University of New Hampshire campus in Durham. So Andy, what happened?

ANDY SMITH, IN CHARGE OF WMUR POLLS, UNIV. NEW HAMPSHIRE SURVEY CENTER: First off, the polls weren't that wrong. We nailed the Republican side. We nailed every other candidate on the Democratic side. We did seriously underestimate Hillary Clinton.

But I think we have to remember, this is a primary election, not a general election. And in a primary election, particularly this one, all the candidates were equally well liked. It's like choosing flavors of ice cream. And you don't do that days in advance. You do that when you walk up to the counter. And what we've seen in New Hampshire in the past is that a high percentage of the voters make up their mind on Election Day.

Our polls and exit polls were showing between 15 and 20 percent of Democrats made up their mind on Election Day. And a poll that ends on a Sunday night is not going to detect those late term shifts.


ROBERTS: Right. But you know what?

SMITH: But we saw it in --

ROBERTS: You don't want to do the poll on a Monday, though, because it's pretty close to the election and you can't release it on Election Day anyway, because we don't like to do that. But as you said, the numbers were right everywhere else. So was it purely the undecided voters that broke overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton? The poll did have as of Sunday night Barack Obama leading among women by three percent. He ended up losing among women by 13 percent.

SMITH: I think what we saw over the last couple days is the Clinton campaign being very effective. They had an excellent organization by most people's evaluation, the best ever seen in New Hampshire, the get out the vote organization.


SMITH: They changed their message fairly significantly over the last few days and they campaigned all the way up until 5:00, 6:00 on Election Day so they took nothing for granted. And I think what they were able to do is change those women who were backing Obama on Sunday night, and they shifted them back to Hillary Clinton at the end.

ROBERTS: Some people have wondered, Andy, and African-American writers have talked about this in the past, this idea of a voting booth conversion. That people will say publicly or to a pollster that yes, they would vote for Barack Obama, but when they go into the voting booth to pull the lever, perhaps they vote for someone else. But if that were the case, though, would Obama's numbers relative to John Edwards have stayed the same as they were in the poll leading up? Or shouldn't those numbers have changed unless Barack Obama voters went equally to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards?

SMITH: Well, they certainly, according to polls didn't go to John Edwards. But I don't think that is an issue in New Hampshire. We're going to do some investigation afterwards to look into that specifically. But race has not really been a factor throughout this campaign in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire electorate is an upper class, highly-educated, liberal Democratic electorate, not the kind of people that would you expect to be impacted by race.

ROBERTS: So is this going to change your methodology going forward?

SMITH: Well, one of the things about this is that we have to remember this has happened before in New Hampshire.


SMITH: In 2000, everybody underestimated McCain's efforts. In 2000, we went back afterwards and looked at all of the things we did and I put together a book chapter looking at specifically why polls were wrong in 2000. We're absolutely going to do this again in 2008. We continually try to update our methods to make sure that we're more accurate in the future.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll keep looking forward on it. Andy Smith, thanks very much. Appreciate you being with us this morning to explain all of that.

SMITH: Thank you.


CHETRY: The controversy that could have repercussions for your child's school. Should teachers be able to bust students for what they find on their Facebook or MySpace pages? We're going to find out what happened in Minneapolis, next.

Also in Iowa, a woman placing an ad in a local newspaper calling herself the "meanest mom on the planet." She's getting a lot of buzz about it this morning. We'll tell you why so many people are congratulating her for it.

And we're going to continue to monitor a wild scene in Florida. This was live video right now from Polk City, overlooking Interstate 4, still shut down today after that deadly horrific crash yesterday involving some 70 vehicles. It's the same situation out there today. A massive blanket of fog and also smoke from a brush fire. We're going to get a live report on the situation ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Twenty-three minutes after the hour. Big controversy brewing this morning. Did administrators at a Minneapolis high school go too far when they used photos posted on Facebook to bust students for drinking?

Thirteen students were reprimanded after teachers found pictures of them partying. The images have been posted on they're Facebook profiles. The students are furious, and some parents are even considering a lawsuit saying that school officials should not be cruising Web sites looking to bust kids. But the American Civil Liberties Union says the area is murky. But one representative says, "Any kid who thinks that what they post on a social networking site is private is an idiot." If you can't even get the ACLU to back you up.


ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's what I'm going to say.

CHETRY: That's what I never understand about this. It is. They put them on.

VELSHI: It's not private. Yes.

CHETRY: I know that you could be friends with somebody to get on, but someone's going to find it. I'm sure of it.

VELSHI: A picture on the web? You got to be OK with people looking at it.

ROBERTS: And doing whatever they want with it, too.

Definitely a unique way to teach your kid a lesson. A mom in Iowa decided to sell her 19-year-old's car after she found alcohol in it. She took out an ad in the "Des Moines Register" that reads, "Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under the front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet." The meanest mom says she not only sold the car, she's getting lots of calls congratulating her for it as well.

CHETRY: How about that?

VELSHI: Kids getting in trouble theme this morning, huh?

ROBERTS: Tough love, you know.

VELSHI: Yes. Right.

ROBERTS: Got to do it once in a while.

VELSHI: I've got a totally different thing to talk about. It's business. You know, your stocks did OK yesterday after a really rough start to this week. The Dow actually gained some. Now, part of it is because Ben Bernanke is going to be making a speech today. Yesterday, we've just been hearing, you know, group after group and economist after economist saying we're heading for a recession. And as a result of that, we've got people expecting the Fed is going to cut rates once again. We're going to hear from Ben Bernanke this afternoon, but that expectation of rate cuts set the market a little bit higher.

Take a look at what happened yesterday. The Dow gained 146 points. The Nasdaq gained 34. The S&P gained 18. If the Fed cuts rates again, we're thinking that they might at the end of the month, by half a percentage point. Look what will happen. We're down to 4.5 percent right now. It will go down to -- we're 4.25, so it will go down to 3.75. Some people say that that rate will drop to as low as 2.5 percent, which will make the prime rate 5.5 percent, which means no one will save any money and we won't get ourselves out of this credit mess.

By the looks of things, I may have had an extra cup of coffee or two this morning because it looks to me like, Kiran, I interrupted you. We weren't actually yet at me. Were we?


VELSHI: Well, on the prompter, it has your name on it.

CHETRY: That's right.


VELSHI: Was that -- did I jump in a little ahead?

CHETRY: You didn't interrupt me.

ROBERTS: Not at all.

CHETRY: It was all you.

VELSHI: Oh, OK. Good.

CHETRY: But listen. Maybe you'll find it --

VELSHI: I got another cup of coffee.

CHETRY: Maybe you'll find this story interesting, though. This is a story that just broke last night, and there's been some buzz about it. But perhaps it could really be happening. That's whether or not New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be jumping into the fray for president. He says he's not running but behind the scenes, he's launched a research effort to test the waters.

The 65-year-old Bloomberg left the Republican party. He became an independent last summer, and a source close to the mayor tells CNN that Bloomberg has set early March as a deadline for making a decision. And so, we wanted to ask you what you thought about it.

It's today's "Quick Vote" question. Would New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have a realistic shot at winning as a third party presidential candidate? If you'd like to weigh in,

Let's take a look right now at what our viewers are thinking. Twenty-eight percent saying, yes, they do think he has a shot. But 72 percent saying no. We're going to continue to tally your votes throughout the morning.

VELSHI: Can I just chime in for a second? As a journalist, I don't want to weigh in on ones' idea. I like Michael Bloomberg. I think he's done a nice job in New York. But, you know, what I think this problem with Bloomberg running for president would be? Is he going to make the whole country do that trans fat, no trans fat thing? So he's ruined my fast food eating.


CHETRY: But you could probably drive to New Jersey.

VELSHI: No. I mean it. KFC was my favorite food. KFC with no trans fat. It doesn't taste like KFC. Guess what? I don't need it anymore because it's not enjoyable. So if he does that to the whole country, that's definitely worth considering.

ROBERTS: We need to. We need to get you a commentary section here.

VELSHI: I'm just saying. So mess with my trans fat. I know it's fried food. I know it's bad for me. You don't have to make it any better.

ROBERTS: You are watching the most news in the morning here on CNN. Is it possible that some overeaters aren't capable of knowing when to say when? New research pointing to a malfunctioning switch in the brain. It also gets you to run on at the mouth at the same time apparently.

CHETRY: You know it's Ali's trouble.

ROBERTS: Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look, coming up.

And a potential game breaker could be entering the White House race as candidates put it all on the line in the next couple of primaries. Should they be worried about it? The best political team on television breaks it all down. Coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: All right there.

Our feature this morning.

ROBERTS: It is. Yes. Look just outside of Lakeland, Florida. That's along the I-4 corridor where that terrible accident was yesterday. A 70-car pile up. You know, it's a combination of smoke and fog from the brushfires that were -

Byline: Kiran Chetry, John Roberts, Ed Henry, Suzanne Malveaux, Jason Carroll, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, John Zarrella


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: ...our feature this morning.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: It is. Just outside Lakeland, Florida. That's along the i-4 corridor, where that terrible accident was yesterday, a 70 car pileup. You know, it's a combination of smoke and fog from the brush fires that were set as back fires that got out of control and that horrific 70 car pileup in which three people were killed yesterday. And those conditions continue again today.

CHETRY: That's right. It's still closed down. They're hoping to get a chance to reopen it today but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. We'll get Jacqui Jeras to tell us exactly what we can expect for that part of the country.

ROBERTS: Fairly, a little bit of relief coming up a little bit later on today.

Welcome back. It's Thursday, the 10th of January. I'm John Roberts. Good morning.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry, good morning. We're following breaking news of a major terrorist attack this morning in Pakistan. These pictures were taken moments after a suicide bomber in Lahore killed at least 23 people, most of them police officers. Nearly 60 were injured and dozens of officers were manning a barricade outside of a court building when this happened. They were preparing for an anti-government rally today. Police say the bomber ran up to them and blew himself up. No claim of responsibility yet. A wave of terror attacks against politicians and security forces is sweeping across Pakistan. Ahead of the February 18th elections as Parliamentary elections had to be re-scheduled after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto two weeks ago. John.

ROBERTS: And more breaking news to tell you about this morning. President Bush making his boldest prediction yet about the Israeli- Palestinian peace process. He says that he expects a mid-east peace treaty to be signed by the time that he leaves office. The President made the comments after meeting with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today. It is his first ever visit as President to the Palestinian territory, first visit at all to Israel, by the way. CNN's Ed Henry is in the capitol of Jerusalem. He joins us now. Ed, this was a real surprise this morning when the president came out with that statement.

ED HENRY, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Mr. Bush clearly bullish about the prospects for a peace deal. And it was ironic that he was standing beneath a portrait of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, somebody that Mr. Bush would not work with, someone who sort of help delayed the peace process in the sense that Mr. Bush would not get engaged because he did not want to work with Mr. Arafat for so long. But clearly, he feels that this is a new day. He had productive meetings yesterday with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. They clearly get along and also Mr. Bush today standing beside the current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He feels that he has a partner in peace with Abbas. And as you said, the President as a result issued his boldest declaration yet.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATE: I believe it's possible, not only possible, I believe it's going to happen that there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office. That's what I believe.


HENRY: But turning that rhetoric into reality is a whole another matter. In the first two days of the President's trip, there really have been no measurable progress, no concessions by either Israelis or the Palestinians to really get a peace deal done. And I remember traveling with the President last summer when he was asked about a whole other matter, the immigration reform bill back in this United States and he made a bold declaration then saying I'll see you at the signing ceremony.

As you know, that signing ceremony never happened. Sp, it's important to remember that sometimes optimistic talk doesn't turn into reality. That was about immigration reform. You think that was difficult, the Middle East peace process obviously much, much more complicated. John.

ROBERTS: Ed Henry, for us this morning, live from Jerusalem on this conference this morning. Thanks very much, Ed.

Ed Henry for us, live from Jerusalem on that conference this morning. Thanks very much. Kiran.

CHETRY: New this morning. A proposal to send 3,000 Marines, more Marines to Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is considering a plan that would boost troop levels to deal with the Taliban's expected spring offensive. The Pentagon spent months asking NATO allies to send their troops and they refused. If they get the green light, the marine's tour would be a single seven month-long deployment that would start in April.

The United Nations saying it will use force if Sudanese troops fire on them again. Sudan denies its troops shot at peacekeepers in Darfur. A convoy came under fire Monday. A U.N. driver critically injured and a tanker truck destroyed. The violence has killed roughly 200,000 people in Darfur.

And the search is under way for a marine who vanished from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. She's eight month pregnant and there are now questions surrounding that disappearance. 20-year-old Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach has not been seen since December 14th. Her mother says Maria had witnessed an incident at Camp Lejeune and was set to testify about it. A reporter who talked with the missing Marine's mother also spoke with Nancy Grace last night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her mother told me on that on 14th, she was notified by her housemate. And the next day, she said the next business day, they contacted police, the sheriff's office and she told me that because of her marine status, they had to wait until she was of a certain status before they could actually go ahead, that she had to be of a deserter status before they could go ahead and file the missing persons report.

NANCY GRACE, HOST: That doesn't even make --


CHETRY: And Nancy Grace saying it doesn't make any sense. The sheriff says they held off going public until their investigation revealed suspicious activity. Well, now, authorities have found the marine's cell phone, her car and say that there was suspicious activity on her bank account.

Well, one candidate possibly out, one possibly in, another shake- up brewing this morning in the battle for the White House. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson reportedly ready to call it quits today. CNN has also learned that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is quietly testing the waters to see if he has a shot as a third party candidate.

Suzanne Malveaux following the democrats for us from the next big battleground state of South Carolina. Suzanne, first what are you hearing about Richardson's announcement this morning?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Kiran, this is only getting more and more interesting, the race for the White House. Richardson coming in fourth place in both New Hampshire and Iowa getting about 5%, 2% respectively, expected to drop out of this race. His aides have said for quite some time if he didn't perform well or well enough in New Hampshire that he really wasn't going to go on. That his campaign really didn't catch enough fire here.

Now, what's interesting to note is he is one of the most experienced candidates that's around. He joined Senator Chris Dodd as well as Joe Biden, somebody who is the energy secretary as well as the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., the governor of New Mexico. Clearly experience alone is not what is going to get the candidates the real win and the real nod. The other thing is that if you look at how is this going to impact the race, already in Iowa, we saw some of the Richardson folks going over to Senator Barack Obama's camp.

There was even a little bit of tension with the Clinton folks thinking there had been some sort of formal alliance. They deny that, they say that wasn't happening but it was a natural alliance, it wasn't happening, it was a natural alliance that the Obama and Richardson folks would join up in support of that same camp. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. So more about that. How about the buzz? What are you hearing about the possibility that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is testing the waters and the impact on the race?

MALVEAUX: Certainly, sources are saying they are exploring the possibility of that. They're looking into research to see just how he would fare. They haven't really collected and figured out, come to any conclusions, but there's been a lot of talk about it. He actually attended a forum this past week of democrats and republicans, looking for an independent candidate. Now, here's a guy, obviously a democrat, goes from democrat to republican to possibly independent here.

But the real calculus is that if you look at the way the race is shaping up so far, it is a heated battle for those independents. You look at Senator John McCain. He is capturing a good chunk of them. Senator Barack Obama as well. So, there is a sense that perhaps as an independent candidate, he would be the person to be able to win enough votes to actually be a competitor. The other thing, too, if you look at those independents, they're looking at you know, obviously republicans, not happy with the choices they have. They believe that Bloomberg would have the same kind of street creed, when it comes to Wall Street, being a billionaire as Mitt Romney, that he could take some of the support away from him. Kiran.

CHETRY: Very interesting. Suzanne Malveaux in Charleston, South Carolina for us this morning. Thanks. We asked that question this morning in our Quick Vote as well. If you'd like to weigh in, whether or not you think that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be a viable candidate, a third party candidate for president. John.

ROBERTS: Well, it's 22 minutes now to the top both fugitive whose pulled off a Hollywood style escape from a New Jersey jail are now back in custody. U.S. and Mexican officials just tracked Otis Blunt to a $10 a night hotel room in Mexico City and arrested him. Blunt and another inmate Jose Espinosa escaped from jail last month digging through the walls of their cell with metal wire. Otis Blunt is now ready to fly back to New York. Our Jason Carroll is going to be on the flight along with him. Jason joins us now on the phone from Mexico City. And Jason, you know, the one fellow, Espinosa, they found just a few blocks away from the jail. They chased Blunt all the way to Mexico City and a bizarre set of conditions that he laid down as well for his surrender. What's the latest on the case this morning.

Well, we seem to have a problem with Jason Carroll's line there. Apparently he is not hearing us, perhaps because of that announcement there. Jason, can you hear me yet? JASON CARROLL, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, I can hear you now. The connection is a little bad because of where we are. Let me just sort of set the scene of what exactly is happening right here at the terminal. We're here at the Aero-Mexico Terminal and Otis Blunt is here. He is standing just about ten feet away from me right now. He is surrounded by three or four Mexican officials.

What they tell me is what is going to happen is they are going to obviously put him on the flight, so long as he does not become agitated and does not become upset. If he becomes agitated or upset, they're going to yank him off this flight and put him on a later flight. I did have a brief opportunity to approach Otis Blunt and try to ask him a few questions. He said he wasn't giving any interviews right now. He said he was too upset. Mexican authorities then moved me back and said for security issues we need to keep things separate at this point.

But I heard a little bit about what you were saying in the intro about how this whole situation went down here in Mexico City. Basically, Otis Blunt, through the help of a friend and with some help with the Reverend Al Sharpton down here yesterday was negotiating with U.S. marshals and with Mexican officials in terms of how he was going to surrender.

Initially, he said that had three conditions, he wanted to see his wife and his children. He did not want to return back to that same facility where he had escaped, the Union County Jail, where he and his cell mate, Jose Espinoza had escaped about three weeks ago. He also said, John, that he wanted someone to look at the surveillance tape from the armed robbery that he was charged with. He said that tape will show he did in fact not commit that robbery. So, what we are doing at this point is standing by, waiting for this flight to take off. The flight is scheduled to take off at 7:15, should land back in New York City at New York's JFK Airport sometime around 1:00. At that point, Mexican officials will turn him over officially to U.S. officials, who are waiting for him. John.

ROBERTS: Jason, quickly, if you can hear me, do we know if the authorities agreed to those conditions? Obviously, Jason having difficulty hearing me. All right. We'll try to get back to him, get a better connection. Otis Blunt so far scheduled to fly out of Mexico City very soon. But as Jason said, if he becomes agitated, they may put him on a later flight today.

We are watching another morning of heavy fog and smoke in central Florida. Major interstate i-4, still shut down this morning. A live report on that coming up.

And new evidence that over eating may literally be all in your head. Our in house brain surgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has it for us. Hey, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is a connection as we know between the mind and the body. Exactly what is it and what it could mean for you in terms of not eating too much? I'll have that for you coming up on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 44 minutes after the hour. A deadly blinding blanket of fog that just won't go away, a live look there at i-4 between Orlando and Tampa, the major east-west interstate there. Still closed this morning. In some areas from the air, it looks like there's a blanket of snow on the ground. I-4 has been closed for the past 24 hours. Police say the heavy fog, mixed with smoke from a brush fire combined to cause a 70-car pileup on interstate 4. There's that aerial shot, killing at least four people. Looks like the plains of Nebraska, rather than Florida. Cars, big rigs and buses, all slamming into each other in that wreck. Take a look at these pictures. No one saw it coming, another 40 people hurt and there were questions this morning, could it have all been prevented. John Zarrella is live on the scene for us in Polk City, Florida, this morning. Good morning, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. You can see behind me, that's interstate 4 back there in the distance. And you absolutely cannot see it. Visibility is about three feet or less than in places. And as you mentioned, it is still closed. I talked to the Florida Highway Patrol just moments ago. And they said to me, listen, the word you wanted to get to folks out there is - please, stay away from this part of central Florida. Do not come to interstate 4 in this part of central Florida, try to seek alternate routes and above all, be very very careful when you're driving, even on those alternate routes because of how thick the fog mixed with the smoke is. Now, the Polk County sheriff, a little while ago said he is still not sure when they will be able to get i-4 reopened.


SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK CITY, FLORIDA: What we will do today is hold this perimeter until it's safe for the people to drive. We have everything under control here. I strongly urge people not to think there is something to see out here beside - besides fog and smoke. Forget traveling on i-4. At least for this morning.


ZARRELLA: The investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol into how all this took place is probably, John, going to take some time to sort out, considering 70 vehicles were involved. John.

ROBERTS: John, any idea how long that combination of fog and smoke that we see behind you is going to last, not just for today but in coming days as well?

ZARRELLA: It's very common in this part of Florida in this time of year, because of low level conditions here, to have this kind of condition on a fairly regular basis. So, meteorologists in this area are saying, certainly could see it a few more days. John.

ROBERTS: John Zarrella for us this morning, outside of Polk City, Florida. Our Jacqui Jeras, Kiran, was saying that fog should probably left 10:00 or 11:00 this morning at least. CHETRY: It usually burns off when the sun comes up there.

Thanks a lot, John. Well, new clues this morning about why people may over eat and gain weight while others don't. And the evidence could be in the brain. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more from Atlanta. What did researchers find about this situation?

GUPTA: Hey, good morning, Kiran. I found this really interesting. They found obviously more evidence about the connection between the mind and the body. Look, the reason why we overeat has lots of different bases. You know, you look at psychological, physiological, hormonal. What these researchers wanted to do is sort of take away all of the subjective things about food - the sight, the taste, the smell, and what they did is actually have people swallow a balloon, completely tasteless and they progressively inflated the balloon to give them a sense of fullness.

And what they found was that people who are already overweight or obese took much longer to send a signal to the brain that in fact they were full. Take a look at these images here. I'm going to show you exactly what I'm talking about. On this telestrator, as you're going from top to bottom there, they gradually inflated the balloon more and more. So, these people now at the bottom had the most water in their balloon so to speak. People over here are actually already overweight or obese. And over here, there are thinner people. What you see in the thinner people is that they have much more activation in their brain.

The brain is saying stop, we're full, we're full! As compared to over here, where there is very little activation in the same area. And it just took much longer for those people to get to the sense of fullness. Now, the study may help explain why in some cases, this desire to overeat is psychological. And the way our body really responds to when the stomach is full, Kiran.

CHETRY: That's very interesting. Now, have other diet pills in the past and remedies tried to target the feeling of fullness before?

GUPTA: No. Well, you know, there's been a lot of different strategies, you might imagine. Most of them sort of focus on something very important here, on this idea of pleasure, the sort of hedonistic quality of food. So, trying to decrease the pleasure that someone derives from food, very different, Kiran, to your point about actually trying to target the areas of the brain that are responsible for fullness. So, it could open up a new avenue of research in terms of where we actually target the brain to make people feel full a little bit more quickly.

CHETRY: The bottom line is when it comes to whether or not you gained weight or become obese, it still is the amount of food you're putting in versus the amount that you burn off. It just depends on whether or not you feel full from that amount you're getting.

GUPTA: Yes. It is a simple equation. After all that is said and done, you're absolutely right. A couple of things though. It does take a while for anybody to send a signal from their stomach to their brain they are getting full. So, if you eat very fast for example, your brain never has a chance to catch up. Eat more slowly, all of a sudden, your brain hears the signals, you're getting full, slow down. The other thing is try to eat your water dense foods earlier in the meal. So salads, your beverages drink that earlier in the meal. It will give you that sense of fullness before you eat too much. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Some good advice. Sanjay, great to see you. As always, thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks.

ROBERTS: You're watching the most news in the morning and a little bit more medical news for you here.

Researchers say they have found a genetic hot spot for autism. Coming up, what this means for preventing and treating the disease.

A new tape of a standoff at sea between the United States Navy and armed Iranian speedboats, this time from Iran's point of view. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Coming up to seven minutes before 8:00 here on the East Coast. Ali Velshi "Minding your Business," this morning. Some earnings reports coming out today.

ALI VELSHI, CNN, "MINDING YOUR BUSINESS": Yes, this is the beginning of the earnings season for the fourth quarter of 2007, the last three months. Now, why that's important, even though it's past? It's because all of the speculation about how the world is going economically, this is the real report card. This is what businesses are saying happens. The earnings season kicks off with earnings from Alcoa that came out last night after the stock exchange closed.

Alcoa did well. It beat the expectations of what it would earn by a few cents per share. The reason it did so, that was because there's a lot of strength. There's a lot of demand for aluminum and metals in China and India and other economies that are growing, not here in the United States though. It doesn't help us, come to think of it, we're out of the woods in terms of the American economy. We're expecting some very rough earnings from the banks and from a lot of the retailers. That will come in the course of the next couple of weeks.

But today, we're getting retail sales numbers for December. This is the first real actual measure of holiday sales. We started to see those numbers trickle in. I'm going to be back in half an hour with a very good look at what's going on. Let me tell you the initial analysis that this is going to be - turned out to have been the worst holiday shopping season in five years. We are getting some numbers in. We will have those for you. I'll give you a sense of what the different retailers have done but it has turned out that what we thought was going to be the case is in fact the case. Rough time this holiday shopping season.

ROBERTS: Any indications that 2008 could be even worse if you believe news that we're slipping into a recession.

VELSHI: That's right. I'll be back in a half hour with that.

ROBERTS: We'll see you then.

CHETRY: Great. We look forward to it.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks.

An Iowa mother is using a newspaper ad as a parenting tool. Coming up, hear what she did to teach her teenage son a lesson.

A new tape of a standoff, this time through Iran's eyes. It's version of events in the straights of Hormuz. Next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Iran fires back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coalition warship -

CHETRY: New video this morning. Iran's side of the story from a dramatic confrontation in the Persian Gulf.

Shakeup in the race.

BILL RICHARDSON: Thank you for all you've done for us.

CHETRY: Reports of one candidate getting out, and new signs the billionaire mayor might jump in.

Plus - highway horror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you can hear is people hollering and cars just filing up. Boom, boom, boom.

CHETRY: 70 cars piled up. A major interstate shut down and serious questions about the fog and fire that got out of control on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And welcome once again. It is Thursday, January 10th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

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

We're following breaking news of a major terrorist attack in Pakistan this morning. Pictures taken moments after a suicide bomber in Lahore killed at least 23 people, most of them police officers. Nearly 60 other people were injured. Dozens of officers were manning a barricade outside of a courthouse preparing for an anti-government rally by attorneys today. Police say the bomber pulled up on a little motorcycle, ran up to them and blew himself up. There is no claim of responsibility. A wave of terror attacks against politicians and security forces is sweeping across Pakistan ahead of elections on February the 18th. If those elections were rescheduled after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, two weeks ago, Kiran.

CHETRY: New tape of a standoff at sea between the U.S. Navy and armed Iranian speedboats and this time it's coming from Iran's point of view. Iranians state television aired it just this morning in an attempt to show that things didn't get as heated as the U.S. Navy claims.