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American Morning

Troop Surge in Afghanistan in the Hands of the Next President; Stunning Video of a U.S. Naval Ship Being Blown Apart; Barack Obama in Germany; John Edwards' New Housing Plan; Coast Guard Closing Nearly 100 Miles of Mississippi River; Big Housing Bill Finally Passed the House

Aired July 24, 2008 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, then there's sort of this one opportunity. And then, Melyssa Ford also said -- you know, she's come around. She, now, is very critical of the industry today. But she said, I got to tell you, there are record company executives of -- you know, she dances, rappers rap. But someone puts it on the air and it's not hers.
You know, I'm not the list of people who are in charge. We're kind of at the bottom. And if you really have a complaint, then bring it levels higher because that's where real decisions are made.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: That was fascinating. Even the girl, Jivanta, that you talked to, as she's trying out is saying I wish I was able to do something else.

O'BRIEN: You know, she wants to be a dancer. She wants to be on Broadway, you know. But the only that, you know -- there is not a lot of gigs for her. There are not a lot of gigs for black women dancers. So, she feels like this is something, you know, to work until she gets to where she wants to be.

CHETRY: Very interesting. Soledad, thank you so much for being with us.

And also at noon Eastern today, Soledad is going to be hosting a live one hour online special "BLACK IN AMERICA," your reaction. We want to know what you think. So, please check it out,

And our next installment debuts tonight, "BLACK IN AMERICA," (The Black Man), 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It's coming up to one minute after the hour. Breaking this morning, Senator Barack Obama in Berlin right now set to make a big public speech at 1:00 p.m. Eastern this afternoon, following talks this morning with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Obama talked about what he plans to accomplish on his European trip on his way over from Israel.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There is no doubt that part of what I want to communicate on both sides of the Atlantic is the enormous potential of restoring a sense of coming together.


ROBERTS: A 6.8 earthquake has injured more than a hundred people in Japan. The quake struck about 280 miles northeast of Tokyo, knocking out power to thousands of people. Most of the injuries said to be cuts and bruises and none are believe to life threatening.

Any decision on a troop surge in Afghanistan will be up to the next president. That word coming from the Pentagon's press secretary. It happened as President Bush arrives for meetings with military leaders there. Defense officials, though, are saying they are looking for ways to send more forces and soon.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr shows us why.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, by all accounts, the White House wasn't happy when the Pentagon spokesman said it would be up to the next president to decide about sending more troops to Afghanistan.


STARR (voice-over): Disturbing new intelligence on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. A growing number of foreign fighters joining forces with Taliban and al Qaeda and coordinating their efforts. It is one reason U.S. commanders are asking the Pentagon for up to 10,000 more troops, one of the topics discussed with President Bush when he met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But the Pentagon spokesman says for larger numbers of troops, they're going to just have to wait for the new president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This government is going to work to provide additional forces for Afghanistan next year. How many, whether it is the three additional brigades that the commanders want, I think is a question frankly for the next administration.

STARR: The reason? Because of Iraq, there aren't enough troops to send to Afghanistan anytime soon. That's tough news for Colonel Charles Preysler who lost nine men earlier this month in a surprise attack by insurgents.

COL. CHARLES PREYSLER, U.S. ARMY: I'm only going to speak for my area and not obviously the other areas. I think one more battalion would really make a huge difference here.

STARR: Senior military officials tell CNN, a stopgap measure of several hundred support troops such as helicopter units and combat engineers is expected to be approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Even as Afghanistan has become more deadly for U.S. troops than Iraq, President Bush's orders for now have not changed.

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: My priorities, again, given to me by the commander-in-chief are focus on Iraq, first. It has been that way for some time. Focus on Afghanistan, second. (END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: But some wonder if the meeting with the chiefs will change that. If President Bush wants to impact the war in Afghanistan before he leaves office, he will have to make some key decisions soon.



ROBERTS: Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, thanks.

New this morning, stunning video of a U.S. naval ship being blown apart. Take a look at that. It happened during international military exercises off the coast of Hawaii. An Australian submarine fired special heavyweight torpedoes that sunk the ship in minutes. Not to worry, though, the vessel was a decommissioned destroyer. The military exercise has run until the end of the month. They are held every two years to promote stability in the pacific region.

Darn good thing that it was a decommissioned destroyer. That thing went down so fast.

CHETRY: Well, back to politics, and Barack Obama in Germany. Right now he's meeting with German leaders after his jam-packed tour of America's war zone in Israel. This afternoon, he'll be giving an open air speech in Berlin about transatlantic relationships. It's expected to be the highlight of this particular visit. And they're expecting tens of thousands of people to show up to hear it.

CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Berlin.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You heard of Oktoberfest in Germany. Well, this you might call Obamafest. There is a great deal of excitement. You've heard many times how popular he is in Europe. And here, in this big street that leads from the Victory Monument behind me where he'll speak right up to the Brandenburg Gate. They're already stalls selling food and drink.

They do, according to his organizers, expect large crowds. And there is a separate stand here, podium, where there is going to be music before he arrives. But while he is wildly popular in Europe, he also really needs to answer questions on policy.

Europe wants to know what kind of a policy would a President Obama launch in terms of how he would react with Europe. Would he return America to multilateral diplomacy, for instance, rather than the go-it-alone approach of the eight years of President Bush administration?

He has quite a challenge ahead of him, particularly whoever is the next president because the standing of the United States has really collapsed in Europe and around the world over the last eight years. But while he is popular, there are many cautionary words out there.

For instance, the head EU trade official has said of Barack Obama to abandon, quote, "crowd pleasing rhetoric and start to talk about his internationalist approach." And this would be about commitment to free trade. You know that on the campaign, Barack Obama has hinted that NAFTA, the free trade agreement and other such things, he would rework.

The Europeans are saying -- no, we want to see you continue in a free market, internationalist vein, whoever is the next president. Beyond that, there are great challenges -- restoring America's moral reputation in the world, for instance, by doing things such as closing Guantanamo Bay and getting back to being a beacon on human rights. The environment, very, very important. Many people have said don't attack Iran. We don't want to see another war in the Middle East or caught up in dividing the United States from Europe. So, a lot of challenges ahead.

CHETRY: That's Christiane Amanpour for us in Berlin. And Barack Obama's speech will be streamlined on, 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time in its entirety. Just go to

Well, it's a far-reaching bill to assist the nation's troubled housing market. It passes a crucial vote Wednesday. Find out what help could be coming for at risk home owners.

ROBERTS: Earth friendly and affordable. John Edwards joins us live with his new housing plan.

Generation gap.




ROBERTS: The College challenge. The plan to get the MySpace crowd excited about a candidate who doesn't use the Internet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we can't seem to draw the same vocal support.


ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: New this morning. The Coast Guard closing nearly 100 miles of the Mississippi River in the New Orleans area as crews cleans up an oil spill. A fuel barge split apart after colliding with a tanker damping more than 419,000 gallons into the river. The Coast Guard says no one was license to pilot the tugboat that was pushing the barge.

Rob Nelson from our affiliate WWL, is live for us in New Orleans this morning.

Rob, what's the latest on the clean up efforts there?

ROB NELSON, WWL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John. Obviously, if you look behind, you can see there's not much going on right now. We just talked to a Coast Guard official just a few minutes ago and they assure us that there is a massive clean up effort that will start here today.

And now, it's a 100 miles stretch of the Mississippi that's been close since yesterday's crash which occurred shortly after 2:00 in the morning. Well, like you said, 420,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Mississippi.

Today, though, the big issue is turning to water quality and water supply in the metro area. Several parishes have closed. Their intake systems telling residents to conserve water. And at this point, it's gotten so dire that some parishes may actually call in bottle of water or shower communes for people to bathe. That is not a firm decision just yet. But reserves, intake systems are close.

Now, reserves are running so water quality has emerged as a big issue here. And basically, there was a tank of barge that collided yesterday spilling all of that oil into the river. It was at first a 60 miles stretch of land. A river that was close. Now that has been expanded to 100 miles. So, basically this closure last all the way from the site of the spill which you can see behind all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

That's the wide area of the river that we are talking about. Again, the Coast Guard said they have hundreds of personnel down here working to do this. Tens of thousands of fit have boom. The plastic boo is a kind of trapper thing in. So, we're just waiting for that action to start. But again, the river will be close for weeks before this thing is fully clean up.


ROBERTS: Rob Nelson for us in New Orleans this morning. Rob, thanks very much. Appreciate your report.

CHETRY: All right. Well, joining us now is Stephanie Elam. She's in for Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business." Talking a little bit about this big housing bill that finally passed the House.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: They did pass the House. And, you know, when you look at the story, you can definitely see that Washington is trying anything they can to make sure that they shore up the housing market. Put the housing crisis a little bit less of a forefront of a story that we're talking about here.

So, let's take a look at what has happened now taking a look at this bill that went through the House. It still needs Senate approval. But right now, saying they're going to ensure up to $300 billion in at-risk home loans. On top of that, they're going to be backing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with credit and that will be an unlimited amount of credit over the next 18 months. And they're going to increase the loan cap guarantee to $625,000 and create first time home buyer credits.

Kiran and John?

ROBERTS: All right. So, is the Senate expected to approve this?

ELAM: They are expected to approve it especially now for the White House said that they will not be telling.

CHETRY: They post this $4 billion for local governments to take foreclosed homes and sort of --

ELAM: There's a Republican filibuster related to that. That's going to take probably a little bit longer to get through the Senate but they do expect it to get approve.

ROBERTS: Steph, thanks.

ELAM: Sure.

CHETRY: Well, here's one of the many faces in our "BLACK IN AMERICA" series.

Poet John Good joins us to talk about the issues facing black America including his thoughts on the influence of rap music.

ROBERTS: Plus, Rob Marciano in the CNN weather center in Atlanta for us this morning. Tracking not only of what's left with Dolly but also storms in the northeast.

Hi, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, John. Yes, the northeast has some issues deep south. Deep South. Texas definitely has some issues with Dolly which is dying a slow death. We'll run down your complete weather when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


ROBERTS: 15 minutes after the hour. The cleanup begins this morning in Texas after Hurricane Dolly tears about roofs and topples telephone and electrical poles.

The Category Two storm slammed ashore with triple digit wind speeds and up to a foot of rain in some parts. It's going to be a wet cleanup today as now Tropical Storm Dolly dumps more than a foot of rain in some parts of South Texas. Unfortunately, not in the areas where Texas needs to get the rain. Our Rob Marciano is checking things out for us from Atlanta this morning. How long is this storm going to hang around, Rob?


CHETRY: Well, former presidential candidate and Senator John Edwards is here live. His plan for homes you can afford and are also green.

ROBERTS: Generation gap.


MCCAIN: I understand the challenge I have.


ROBERTS: The College challenge. The plan to get the MySpace crowd excited about a candidate who doesn't use the Internet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we can't seem to draw the same vocal support.


ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Well, in this election the youth vote is widely seen as belonging to Barack Obama. So, it's no surprise that some young conservatives feel frustrated, and even left out by the GOP.

As CNN's Chris Lawrence tells us, many worry that generation gap could threaten the future of the party.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, some young Republicans say there's an enthusiasm gap between them and their candidate. And they've got a few ideas how to close it.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): He hears the screaming at his rival's rally. And this young Republican wonders what could be for his candidate.

ERIC PEARLMUTTER, USC YOUNG REPUBLICANS: We try to get people out to our college Republican meetings and we can't seem to draw the same type of vocal support.

LAWRENCE: Eric Pearlmutter cringed when his candidate admitted he doesn't use e-mail. John McCain's MySpace page looks like it hasn't been updated in five months. And some pictures seem too nostalgic to represent, say, small business.

LAWRENCE (on camera): Does that image connect to young people?

PEARLMUTTER: Well, when you see the Main Street barber shop image, you think of 1950's America. An entrepreneur as Silicon Valley guy will definitely make it more attractive.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Barack Obama has spoken at hundreds of college campuses.

JASON MATTERA, YOUNG AMERICA'S FOUNDATION: Senator McCain should demand that the same colleges and universities host him or else their tax-exempt status could be in jeopardy.

LAWRENCE: Young conservative Jason Mattera says McCain has to connect young voters to conservative principles.

MATTERA: So, if they're suspicious of Uncle Sam telling them what Internet sites they can view, they should be equally suspicious of Uncle Sam, the federal government, telling them what health care plans they're going to be a part of.

LAWRENCE: At an Ohio town hall meeting this month, a student told McCain that Republicans were a dying breed on his campus.

MCCAIN: But I understand the challenge I have and I understand that this election is really all about people of your generation.

LAWRENCE: The campaign plans to increase McCain's presence on Facebook, and MySpace. He's also appearing on shows that appeal to younger viewers like "THE DAILY SHOW."

McCain is trying to close a numbers gap. According to recent CNN Opinion Research Corporation polls, 40 percent of young voters consider themselves Democrats, only 25 percent Republicans.


LAWRENCE: Up to now, both parties tended to ignore young voters because historically they're pretty unreliable when it comes to actually turning out to vote. But the bad news for Republicans is that once a young person does vote for a particular party, they tend to stick with it for years.



CHETRY: Rap, is it a bad influence? Well, we're talking with poet and author John Good from CNN's "BLACK IN AMERICA." What does he say about the message that's being sent in today's hip-hop culture?

ROBERTS: And another Democrat issuing an environmental challenge. Former presidential candidate John Edwards is here, live, with his plan to build affordable and green homes.

CHETRY: Energy hunt.


ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is all part of the North Slope Oil Field where 700,000 barrels a day are pumped out of here.


CHETRY: Ali in Alaska looking at the case for drilling in a national wildlife refuge. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Former presidential candidate John Edwards set to announce a national climate initiative today. He's calling on the country to help communities build affordable, environmentally-friendly homes and buildings so that residents in coastal cities especially the poor have a defense against the potential force of global warming.

Joining us now live from New Orleans is the former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Senator, it's great to see you this morning. Thanks for being with us.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, John. Thanks for having me.

ROBERTS: This is a Global Green Initiative that you're involved in, in the lower ninth ward there in New Orleans. Tell us a little bit about the project.

EDWARDS: Well, basically the idea is that it is to create a model for how we can rebuild communities and homes in New Orleans in an environmentally-friendly way to build green, using solar power, using building materials that are more environmentally-friendly.

And what it is, is a convergence of what we have with this entire issue of climate change, which are the poorest people in America, the people who are worst by environmental change -- excuse me, by climate change. And they're the ones who most desperately need decent housing, affordable housing but also environmentally-friendly housing.

ROBERTS: Right. I mean, this particular project involves five single family homes and 18 unit apartment building and a community center. According to the Global Green Initiative, their up-front costs are increased about 2 to 4 percent when you make these homes green, environmentally friendly. When we look at trying to take that that idea across the nation, when we look at the current housing crisis, the economy, how do you convince people to take on those extra up-front costs?

EDWARDS: Well, that's a very good question, John. I think the point of this is there may be some initial incremental up-front costs but they're required quickly. And over time, there is a great cost savings for the homeowners, as a matter of fact. And in a community like New Orleans, we've all talked a great deal about climate change, but these coastal communities are the ones that will be first devastated if there's a rise in the water levels, if climate change continues on the course that it's on now.

So, I think it's a practical matter. It's something we need to do as a nation to lead on this issue so that we can reverse these effects and secondly, stabilize and reverse them and secondly, we -- this is just a smart way to start this -- to do this rebuilding in New Orleans.

ROBERTS: You're on a national crusade, Senator, against poverty, touring a lot of cities across the nation. Senator Barack Obama also came out with an anti-poverty plan, some $6 billion, getting a little bit of fire from the right.

The "National Review Online" a year ago said that his proposals were, quote, "a litany of moldy, outdated ideas that are not going to have any effect except to waste more taxpayer dollars."

Are you happy with Senator Obama's proposals because they do differ some from the proposals that you've come out with, particularly in how to deal with poverty in the inner city?

EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I don't have any exclusive set of ideas about how we end poverty in America. I have ideas that I think will work. And I'm carrying this national campaign called Half and Ten, which is the idea of cutting poverty in half in America over the next 10 years. And we're focused on work-centric ideas -- raising the minimum wage, making sure child care is available to working families. Those kinds of things.

But I think Senator Obama's plan is actually a very good one. It's something he's worked on over long period of time, and I think he's committed to this issue as I am. He cares deeply about it as do I.

ROBERTS: All right. Let me ask you, too, about Iraq. You know, you said and you made a very, very strong point about this during the primary campaign and during all of the debates leading up to it, you said that your vote for the Iraq war was a mistake. And you thought it was very important to own the responsibility for that.

On his current tour of Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East and Europe, Senator Obama says that if he had to do it all over again, he would still vote against the surge. And many of his critics including Senator John McCain are saying he was wrong about the surge and he refuses to admit it.

Based on this idea that you had about taking responsibility, do you think he was wrong about the surge and should he own up to it if, indeed, you do think he was wrong?

EDWARDS: No, I don't think he was wrong. It was my position also. So, we had exactly the same position about that. I think that what we have seen in Iraq with the surge is certainly some effect on violence on the ground. No question about that. Everyone is happy about that. It is obvious that it's occurred.

But what we've all said, those of us who believe the war needs to be brought to an end, is there cannot be a solution in Iraq without serious movement for political compromise. Without that happening, there can't be stability and there can't be a solution in Iraq.

And while we continue to press for that, it's just not happening. So, I think Senator Obama is -- first of all, I'm glad he went to Iraq. I think it's a good thing. I think he was well received by both Americans and Iraqis there. And I think what both his vote and what he's saying now about Iraq make great deal of sense.

ROBERTS: Former Senator John Edwards for us this morning from New Orleans. Senator, it's good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

EDWARDS: Thank you, John, for having me.

ROBERTS: All right.

CHETRY: New this morning, the Coast Guard closing nearly 100 miles of the Mississippi River in the New Orleans area as crews clean an oil spill. A fuel barge split apart after colliding with a tanker, dumping more than 420,000 gallons into the river.

Hurricane Dolly now a tropical storm this morning. And the eye of that storm, about 75 miles northwest of Brownsville, Texas. But to give you some extent of its reach, the tropical storm warning stretches to Port Arkansas. That's 200 miles to the north. Dolly is expected to weaken even further today.

And the war against Afghan drug lords hitting a roadblock and its Afghanistan president. That's what one U.S. former counter narcotic agent is saying this morning. In the "New York Times," he writes that Karzai is afraid to go after the drug lords because most of the country's opium and heroin are produced in the south, which is his political base. There has been no comment from Afghan officials on that report.

And Barack Obama's latest stop on his overseas trip is Berlin. He's there right now. 100,000 people expected to see his speech at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, today.

Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is traveling with Barack Obama. She has a look for us. Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran, John. Here we are basically right in the heart of Berlin. It is here in front of this memorial statue that Barack Obama will give what his aides believe will be the highlight of this five-day trip through the Middle East and, of course, now into Europe. What he will talk about here, he says it will be about trans-Atlantic relationships. And as we were leaving from Tel Aviv and headed here to Berlin, he talked to reporters on the plane and told us he really does have two audiences here.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's really no doubt that part of what I want to communicate on both sides of the Atlantic is the enormous potential of us - restoring a sense of coming together.


CROWLEY: We are told the speech does have some things in it, talking to Europeans about the things they need to do to help with any number of world problems that are out there. He will be very encouraging, of course, about what will really be the true ability of America, he says, to work with their - with its allies to move ahead on so many of these problems that so many countries share, terrorism, international trade, any number of things, global warming. He's sort of reaching out his hand but saying as well, listen, you have to help, We cannot do this alone.

So, very much a speech that, yes, is aimed at Europe, that you can never forget, that in fact this is a man who is running for president of the United States. So his real audience, his main audience is back home. And I can tell you that on the campaign trail, one of the biggest applause lines has always been when whatever democrat said it, we want to restore America's moral leadership in the world. So this is really addressing one of those problems that he found out there on the campaign trail that had real resonance. John and Kiran.

CHETRY: Candy Crowley, thanks so much. And Barack Obama's Berlin speech will be streamed on 1:00 p.m. Eastern time in its entirety. You just go to to see it -- John.

ROBERTS: It's time now to fast-forward to some of the stories making headlines today. The House is expected to vote on a bill to release 70 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve. The bill not expected to get the two-thirds majority it needs to pass.

This afternoon, the Department of Labor is going to release a new report on last summer's deadly mine collapse in Utah. Six miners and three rescue workers were killed back in the Crandall Canyon Mine back in august. Today's report is going to take a look at what went wrong and whether the deadly cave-ins could have been prevented.

John McCain is campaigning in Ohio today. And this evening he's going to join CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta at the Lance Armstrong Foundation's "Live Strong" Summit. McCain is expected to talk about his plans to further the fight against cancer.

And at 12:00 noon, you've all been waiting for this, fitness guru Richard Simmons heads to the Hill to discuss childhood obesity. He's then going to take everyone outside for a workout. We're told he's going to be wearing a proper suit to the hearing and then change into those famous short shorts for the exercise. Kiran.

CHETRY: Why start now? That's what we know him in. Why wear a suit to the hearing?

ROBERTS: He can wear a blazer and the shorts.

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: You can only see you from the waist up anyway.

CHETRY: Well, the African-American life, have conditions improved in the past decade? Our "Black in America" series continues with poet and author Jon Goode. He joins us with his thoughts still ahead.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Home alone.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While senator Obama was getting counseled by presidents, Senator McCain was touring a grocery store in Bethlehem. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Moos investigates, is the media really in love with Obama?

You're watching the most news in the morning.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight we'll learn that sometimes it all comes down to what you earn because being black and gifted won't keep you from being evicted. And being a man of conviction won't keep you from being convicted, as "Black in America" continues.


CHETRY: That's CNN's unprecedented special "Black in America" and the series includes the powerful words of our next guest. You saw a bit right there from him. He's a writer and poet, Jon Goode. Good morning and thanks so much for being with us.

JON GOODE, WRITER AND POET: Good morning. How are you?

CHETRY: Good to have you with us. First of all, congratulations on the series and tell us a little bit about how you became involved in it.

GOODE: A young lady at CNN, Keshia, Keshia Taylor, gave me a ring and said they were thinking about using the spoken word during the show. And I sent them a DVD of some of the stuff I had done previously. And they thought it was good work. Then a gentlemen named John (Danson) and Amy (Sheer) then they put together a little demo and then from there it just took off.

CHETRY: You're an Emmy-nominated writer, you've been featured on HBO's series. How did you get involved in that? Where do you go from poetry to spoken word?

GOODE: Well, you know, poetry is mostly the way we look at it is written poetry. And spoken word, of course, is more meant to be spoken and performed. And I started out here in Atlanta, in a cafe called the Union Cafe many, many moons ago. And from there I've been writing and just you know working on the craft and you know, being exposed a bit. And then, you know, I'm a very blessed guy, in the right place at the right time when things come together.

CHETRY: Well, you're not giving yourself enough credit there because your stuff is great. I wanted to ask you, you know, we're talking about writing and words and rap music, of course. It is something that has gained a lot of headlines and a lot of attention. And in fact, we did a poll, CNN and "Essence" magazine and we asked people whether or not they felt that the influence of rap music on black men has been a bad influence or good influence. 69 percent of respondents felt that rap music has actually been a bad influence on black men. Do artists have a responsibility about those images they portray.

GOODE: I think artists have a definite responsibility, but I think also a lot of responsibility lay on the parents because I came up listening to rap music myself. And we had - it was more balanced when I was a kid. You got as much NWA as much as you got public enemy. But my parents, you know, used to monitor a lot of what I listened to. So I couldn't just run in there playing some insane record, you know, without them saying turn that off and go listen to you know, Aretha Franklin. So I think some of this, you know, falls - the responsibility falls at the home.

CHETRY: All right. I see what you're saying. You're talking about whether or not you're listening to music, but there are other influences to balance that and sort of reign you in?

GOODE: Correct. I think there has to be a balance. I think that's the issue that I have today with a lot of the music. I don't have an issue with, you know, your soldier's boys or any of this. I think you don't get a wide array of music. For every soldier boy you don't get kids in the hall or cool kids, you know, it gives it a different version of life and of music. You just get fed the same thing over and over and over again and that same thing is oftentimes not the most positive thing.

CHETRY: All right. Jon Goode, thanks for joining us today. It was great to talk to you.

GOODE: Thank you so much.

CHETRY: Also at noon Eastern, Soledad's hosting a live one hour online special "Black in America" your reaction. We want to know what you think. So, check it out,

And our next installment debuts tonight "Black in America," the black man. It's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

ROBERTS: It's coming up on 20 minutes now to the top of the hour.

A new warning about cancer and cell phone use. A top cancer researcher tells its employees to put their phones down. We'll get our Dr. Sanjay Gupta to weigh in on that.


CHETRY (voice-over): Energy hunt.

ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is all part of the north slope oil field where 700,000 barrels a day are pumped out of here.

CHETRY: Ali in Alaska looking at the case for drilling in a National Wildlife Refuge. You're watching the most news in the morning.


ROBERTS: In the hunt for energy, the Arctic Circle may hold an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil, according to a new report from the U.S. Geological survey. That's about three years worth of world consumption. The director of the National Geological Survey says he hopes that new oil estimates will contribute to future energy discussions. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is part of the Arctic Circle and it's the sire of the hot button debate over oil exploration and the potential consequences on the environment.

CNN's Ali Velshi traveled to Kaktovik, Alaska to take a look at what it would mean for Alaska and the United States and he's here now with that report.


VELSHI (on-camera): John and Kiran, I'm in Kaktovik, Alaska. It's a little town, a poor town of 300 people. Now, it is the only human settlement in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and some people say it could do well economically if they bring oil drilling to ANWR. But we found that opinion in this town is split right down the middle.

VELSHI (voice-over)": Kaktovik is a busy place, for the Arctic. But most folks here still lead a traditional life. They hunt caribou and other game and the village is allowed to catch three whales a year. Some of the locals worry that if the oil drills and pipelines come, the wildlife could do.

But long time resident Myrtle Soply thinks oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, will bring jobs to this part of Alaska.

MYRTLE SOPLU, RESIDENT: I got three jobs now to take care of myself. So, if I think that if ANWR opens, we can stick to one job for a long time.

VELSHI: She's seen those jobs. They have been drilling for oil in other parts of Alaska for 30 years. Nearby, but never actually in ANWR itself.

VELSHI (on-camera): This is all part of the north slope oil field where 700,000 barrels a day are pumped out of here, shipped by pipeline to Valdez, Alaska, where it is then sent to the rest of the United States. But production here has been declining for 20 years. There is more oil in ANWR, no one knows exactly how much, and it is off limits. And these days talk of drilling in ANWR is growing, along with worldwide demand for oil. Supporters of the idea point out the arctic tundra is flat, treeless land. Not the forest and wilderness that many may picture. No one is advocating opening up all of ANWR. The potential drilling area is about the size of the state of Delaware. The amount left untouched? About the size of South Carolina. But drilling opponents say that's not the point. ANWR was set aside as a refuge for animals in 1960 and they say it should stay that way. So the question is how much oil is there in ANWR and what impact would it have on prices? The Department of Energy says the U.S. imports more than 60 percent of the oil it uses.

MICHAEL SCHAAL, ENERGY DEPARTMENT: An increase of production from ANWR would reduce that somewhat, perhaps by two percent out to 2030. And that really is not enough to significantly alter world oil prices.

VELSHI: While residents' opinion is split, the Kaktopik local government is officially in favor of drilling. Resident Mike Gallagher figures the animals will be OK, but he's not sure that opening ANWR to drilling will give him much of a break at the pump.

MIKE GALLAGHER, RESIDENT: You're not going to feel nothing for five to ten years down the road. How is that going to change that?

VELSHI (on-camera): So, John and Kiran. A couple of questions remain. What effect will drilling for oil in ANWR have on the wildlife up here, on the culture and ultimately, what effect will it have on the price of a barrel of oil or on a gallon of gasoline? Right now, the department of energy's best case estimates that it won't have much impact in bringing prices down. John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: Ali Velshi out there in the arctic national wildlife refuge.

CHETRY: And here we have Stephanie Elam, in for Ali Velshi with some new information today, breaking news on jobless claims.

ELAM: Yes, we're taking a look at the jobless claims number. And it's - for the last week, we're taking a look at the fact that it jumped up to 406,000 jobless claims. That's a jump of 34,000 jobs for the week ending July 19th. And the last time the number was this high was after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita slammed into the gulf coast. That was in mid 2005. Claims then went up to 425,000. A year ago, we were looking at 308,000. So if you take a look at this, it just shows you that this is a concern to see where jobless claims continue to go, the economy still weak.

CHETRY: All right. Coming out the same day that the jump in the minimum wage, 70 cents. ELAM: Right, exactly.

CHETRY: All right, Stephanie, thanks.

ELAM: Sure.

CHETRY: Well, CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away. And Tony Harris is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead. Good morning, Tony.

TONY HARRIS, CNN, ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Good morning, everyone. Here is a look at what we're working on in the NEWSROOM, holding what the Pentagon called the worse of the worst, our Jamie McIntyre goes inside a Gitmo detainees cell.

Getting their groove back with what women should do when they've lost their sex drive. And fans with allergies can get into the game, big league teams offering peanut-free sections. Heidi is with me in the NEWSROOM. And we get started in just a couple of minutes, 13 minutes or so. At the top of the hour right here on CNN.

Kiran, back to you.

CHETRY: Tony, thanks.

Well top cancer researcher issues a warning about cell phones. Is there enough research to back him up? We're paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Home alone.

MOOS: While Senator Obama was getting counseled by presidents, Senator McCain was touring a grocery store in Bethlehem - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Moos investigates, is the media really in love with Obama?



ROBERTS: Well, we're always on top of the latest medical news here on AMERICAN MORNING. And every Thursday, we dig into Dr. Gupta's mailbag to answer your questions. Sanjay's with us from CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. Sanjay, before we get into the mailbag questions, I want to ask you about this report on cell phones and brain cancer. New warnings out from the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center says that he issued a list of precautions to his staff, only letting kids use cell phones in an emergency only, don't put a cell phone near your head at night, switch sides often while you're on the phone. How seriously should we take the precautions?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well this is a pretty startling advisory and as far as we can tell the first time that an advisory has been made at this level, from a head of a cancer center of a major university. I think the caveat here is what most of the medical staff would agree on that is that there is not enough long-term data to say that cell phones are dangerous, but also not enough data to say that they are safe. And that is where it becomes a little bit difficult. They had some specific recommendations for example with regard to children. They say children have smaller heads, they have softer brains, that radiation can penetrate more easily. Again, makes sense, but not proven.

There have been some studies in the past, for example, that have shown that children that use cell phones before the age of seven are 20 percent more likely to develop hyperactivity disorder or other behavioral problems. The cell phone industry has released a response in previous statements. It basically says "the overwhelming majority of studies show that wireless phones do not pose a health risk." But as you know, John and Kiran, we have done a lot of reporting on this and some of those same tips that you gave, you know, using a wired ear piece, limiting your exposure, especially if you're a child, text messaging, maybe that's an answer.

But this is a tough one. We're going to keep on top of it. Because there's going to be a lot of response to this particular advisory today.

ROBERTS: Yes, you know, you got to wonder where is all of this going in the future as well? What do we have yet to learn?

CHETRY: That's right.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, there's 13 countries out there right now that are conducting a large study of this. And when that data comes out, I think we're going to know a lot more than we know today.

CHETRY: Look, if the doctor is doing it, I'm going to do it just in case. An overabundance of caution. Hey, let's get on to the mailbag though. Our first question is from an expecting mom in Miami. Congratulations by the way, Natalia. She writes I want to know if it's safe to keep running if I'm pregnant. What do you think, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Yes. Natalia, congratulations as well. It is safe to keep running. I mean, the biggest concern is miscarriage, having preterm labor or birth defects. Those have not been shown to be true with moderate exercise. About 30 minutes a day. If you're someone who has - having multiples or you had a history of heart disease or you have something known as eclampsia, you may want to stay away from the running. At least, talk to your doctor about it. But running, any kind of exercise has lots of benefits. They've shown that your children are more likely to be lean up to the age of five simply because of the mom running. So lots of good reasons there, Natalia. Good luck.

ROBERTS: Hey, Sanjay, in last week's mailbag, we discussed the best type of bug repellent to use during the summer but Dan from Ontario where the black flies and mosquitoes are big enough to fill business class sections. He's got a follow up to that question. He writes this morning "I was reading an article that says about 10 percent of the population actually qualify as mosquito magnets. Can you tell me why this is the case?

GUPTA: Yes. So this is interesting. There are - we have about 300 chemical compounds we're releasing from our bodies now. Kiran is doing it to you, John. John, you're doing it to Kiran.

The ones that are attracted to mosquitoes, as you might guess, carbon dioxide, which is the thing we breathe out when we breathe, but also certain odors, lactic acid, after we sweat. Those are all attracted to mosquitoes. Some combinations of those are going to be more attracted to mosquitoes than other things. You can't do anything about your body chemistry.

You can use the repellents that we talked about last week, including Deet and precaritive. And also avoiding strong perfumes, beer, interestingly enough, that's going to be something that's going to help you if you avoid it, that is, and dark clothing. So, you know, some tips there. May make the weekend summers a little less fun. But maybe keep the mosquitoes away.

ROBERTS: So let me ask you this, if they're attracted to lactic acid does that mean after a hard workout, you may become more of a mosquito magnet?

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely or if you are just sweating. So you may have noticed, runners that come in and they're swatting away the mosquitoes away after a workout. It's usually that lactic acid in addition to the odors that build up on their skin. That's so attractive to those mosquitoes.

CHETRY: But not attractive to anybody else.

GUPTA: All right.

ROBERTS: You learn something new every day.

CHETRY: The last time I got bitten by mosquitoes, it was after a big run. That's right.

GUPTA: There you go.

ROBERTS: And that was when? Three years go?

CHETRY: Yes, about six or eight years ago.

GUPTA: I'm not advocating that you stop running, by the way but maybe even at home.

CHETRY: That's why I don't run anymore.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Sanjay.

CHETRY: Well, every Thursday Dr. Gupta answers your questions from the mailbag so you can go to and click on the link to send your question.

ROBERTS: You don't need to run.

John McCain's campaign feeling a little bit love sick over the relationship between Barack Obama and the media. Our Jeanne Moos takes a looks at how the two candidates are being covered.


ROBERTS: Presumptive republican nominee John McCain accusing the media of engaging in what a campaign video calls Obama love.

CHETRY: Well, it's the "Moost news" in the morning. Jeanne breaks it down for us.

JEANNIE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There he was, his arm nestled around Israel's president. There he was waving his arm draped around the Palestinian leader, patting his arm patted by Jordan's king. Talk about getting the presidential treatment. Palestinian spokesman almost called him president.


SAEB EREKAT, SENIOR PALESTINIAN SPOKESMAN: Believe me, president - Senator Obama left us feeling very well.

MOOS: feeling not so well, the McCain campaign accused the media of Obama love with examples set to music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's sort of a gift from the world to us in so many ways.

MOOS: On John McCain's web site you can vote for your preferred love song. You're just too good to be true.

That one or this one. My eyes have told me ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not cool. If you haven't seen Barack Obama in person. Jordan's King Abdullah didn't just see him in person. The king personally got behind the wheel of a Mercedes and drove Obama to the airport. Contrast that the other day with former President George Bush giving John McCain lift in a golf cart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media's love affair with Barack Obama is all consuming.

MOOS: Jon Stewart's been running a daily bit on the trip called Obama quest.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART: Obama was off to Israel where he made a quick stop at the manger in Bethlehem where he was born. We'll have more tomorrow.

MOOS: With all the press attention on Obama's trip --

STEWART: Who is covering the McCain campaign? It's covered. MOOS: OK so McCain has a bit more than a tape recorder to talk into. But not media love like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the kind of love that anybody who has been a ninth grade boy understands this species of love. I think about you when I go to bed, it's sealed with a kiss kind of love.

MOOS: The snorky dare we say slight envious attitude even into the plastered on a McCain campaign press credentials. Reporters covering McCain were given credentials captioned left behind, a report in America, with a photo of a wine drinking Frenchman in a beret. While Senator Obama was getting counseled by presidents.


Permit me to speak as a young man to a young man.


MOOS: And was being choppered around and saluted, Senator McCain was touring a grocery store in Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can grab one of those.

MOOS: Under attack, not by the press, but by the apple sauce. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: Poor John McCain. It's not easy to navigate those aisles. I always knock things over myself.

ROBERTS: I did that yesterday, with a shopping cart.

CHETRY: See that?

ROBERTS: Well, but -- it wasn't the applesauce, though.

CHETRY: What was it?

ROBERTS: Just another shopping cart.


Well, thanks so much for being with us this morning on AMERICAN MORNING. Hope to see you back here, same time, same place, tomorrow.

ROBERTS: See you then. Right now, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins.