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American Morning

Russia Ends Georgia Invasion; Michael Phelps Wins His Third Gold; New Information Expected About Money and Visits in the John Edwards Affair; Groups Call for Boycott of Ben Stiller Movie; E. Coli May Be the Answer to the Nation's Fuel Crisis; Brand-New Bomb Shells Being Claimed in the John Edwards Affair

Aired August 12, 2008 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. Russian tanks driving deeper into territory of a U.S. ally. The cries for help. And charges of ethnic cleansing.
Plus, biodiesel.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've genetically engineered E. coli to make fuel.


CHETRY: Hunting for more oil under the microscope, whether America can run on parasite power on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Forget the offshore drilling debate. All you need are parasites.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Exactly. And plenty of those to go around.

CHETRY: Exactly.

ROBERTS: I mean, we're in New York City, right?

CHETRY: Well, good morning and thanks so much for being with us on this Tuesday. It's August 12th. We've got a lot going on today.

ROBERTS: We do. Great to see you.

And we begin this morning with breaking news. Just moments ago Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announcing an end to military operations against Georgia. This hour he is meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Moscow, and the two leaders are scheduled to speak about the situation sometime during the day.

Overnight there were conflicting reports that Russian forces went beyond the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, an aggressive move which would have reshaped or at least could have reshaped Eastern Europe. We're going to have more on this breaking story for you in just a moment.

A search for suspects right now in Pakistan after at least 12 people were killed by a roadside bomb there. It happened in a northwest tribal region near the border with Afghanistan. Most of the victims were military personnel. Pakistani officials believe that al- Qaeda is most likely behind that attack.

And golden boy Michael Phelps wins his third gold medal of the Beijing games, dominating the field and beating his own world record in the men's 200 meter freestyle. Phelps now has nine career gold medals that ties him for the most in Olympic history. He is trying to win a record eight golds in Beijing.

Two other American swimmers struck gold. Natalie Coughlin in the women's 100-meter backstroke, and Aaron Peirsol in the men's 100 backstroke.

CHETRY: Back to our breaking news this morning. A number of new developments just in the past hour. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordering an end to the deadly fighting between Russia and Georgia. That announcement coming just minutes before a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, amid conflicting reports that Russian tanks and armor were moving beyond those breakaway regions and into other parts of Georgia. The world also making a major diplomat push to end the fighting.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is alive outside of the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, with some very latest -- Frederik.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kiran. There's a lot of movement on the diplomatic front in this conflict, not only is French President Nicolas Sarkozy meeting with Dmitry Medvedev today. He's also later scheduled to come here to Tbilisi, to the Georgian capital to meet with the Georgian president.

And as you said, that announcement coming from the Georgian government that President Medvedev has ordered a halt to Russian military operations here in Georgia. We have him on tape saying that. Let's listen in.


PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIA: The goal of the operation is completed. The security of our peacekeeping forces in the civilian population is restored. The aggressor has been punished and has incurred very significant losses. Its armed forces are disorganized.


PLEITGEN: Now even with that apparent good news coming from -- out of Moscow there earlier this morning. There has been fighting here in Georgia today. We've heard from the Georgian government that Russian warplanes bombed the town of Gori early this morning, and that's a very significant town.

It was abandoned yesterday by Georgian forces as they were on retreat from the Russian army which was pushing out of that breakaway Republic of Southern Ossetia closer to Tbilisi. At one point, the Georgian army was regrouping here close to Tbilisi getting ready for what they thought might have been an assault by Russian forces on the capital city of Tbilisi -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Frederik Pleitgen for us this morning. We'll continue to follow the latest. Thank you.

And America has an interest to protect Georgia. It's a key U.S. ally and also one of the only oil pipelines from Asia to Europe that Russia does not control. Yesterday President Bush condemned Russia for its aggression.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century. These actions jeopardize Russian's relations with the United States and Europe.


CHETRY: And, again, we are expecting to hear from both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev later today -- John.

ROBERTS: And both presidential candidates had some strong words for the Russians. While campaigning in Pennsylvania, John McCain reminded Moscow that being part of the civilized world means it ought to act responsibly and respect the values and security of free people.

And while on vacation in Hawaii, Barack Obama condemned the aggression and urged the United Nations to stand up for the sovereignty of its members.

Is John Edwards telling the whole story about his extramarital affair? Edwards last week admitted that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter in 2006 and she was on his campaign staff when the affair began.

But the editor of the "National Enquirer" who broke the story months ago told CNN's Larry King last night that there was much more that's going to come out.


DAVID PEREL, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER": We can tell you that he met three times with Rielle Hunter at the Beverly Hilton this year. That he has been in contact with her since. That she has now been flown out of California by private plane to an undisclosed location, and significantly on the money trail that he absolutely knew she was being paid and she told him that she was being paid.


ROBERTS: Edwards has denied that he is the father of Hunter's daughter. New concerns about online privacy. "The Washington Post" reports that several Internet and broadband companies admit to tracking people's Web surfing behavior without their consent. It says Google, the leading online advertiser, uses Internet tracking technology to better target customers.

Microsoft and Yahoo have also acknowledged using some form of behavioral targeting. The revelations come in response to a congressional inquiry. Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey says he plans to introduce legislation for an online privacy bill of rights.

Our Ali Velshi is here now "Minding Your Money" this morning. What have you got for us, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've been talking a lot about travel lately. Delta, Northwest are one step closer to that merger that they've been trying to accomplish.

The pilots of both airlines have agreed to the deal between the two airlines. In fact, they seem pretty positive about the whole thing. Here's what will happen if that deal goes through.

The new Delta, as it will be called, Delta and Northwest will be taking the name Delta, will be the world's biggest airline. It will be based in Atlanta serving 390 cities and 67 countries, with more than 800 aircraft and 75,000 employees.

Now, under the terms of the deal, the airlines have said they won't close any of their hubs and they'll maintain their international hubs in Amsterdam and Tokyo. Right now, international routes seem to be the most profitable for U.S. airlines. It also will become part of the SkyTeam Alliance for those of you keeping track of the alliances.

On a separate note, United, which isn't in a merger discussion with anybody at the moment, got a bit of a slap on the wrist from its pilots. United's pilots or the Airline Pilots Association chapter at United is calling for the resignation of United's CEO Glenn Tilton. They're saying that this airline has really slipped into terrible performance despite the fact that it had bankruptcy reorganization. The pilots took pay cuts. They didn't get it back.

And last month -- just last week the Transportation Department cited United as the -- with the worst on-time performance in the month of June, saying about 59 percent of their flights got in on time.

So this is important to consider because the airlines and what happens to them really have a big role in how you plan your travel over the next number of months. Again, we continue to see those fares go up. So people who are looking at making their travel are still recommended to do so now.

ROBERTS: Yes. And the price of oil is obviously having a huge effect on the airlines. And this crisis in Georgia, is it having any kind of effect on oil prices?

VELSHI: Yes. There's a pipeline there and the Georgian are claiming the Russians deliberately attacked that pipeline. Not a lot of oil comes through there but it's relevant because in this day of tight supply every pipeline matters.

ROBERTS: You'll be talking about that later on?

VELSHI: I will.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it. Ali, thanks.



CHETRY: Well, America's golden boy is on a roll. Michael Phelps takes another step toward Olympic history with perhaps his most dominant performance to date in the pool. And he wasn't the only American swimmer walking away a winner. We're live in Beijing with an Olympic recap.

ROBERTS: Fuel cells.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the E. coli cells.


ROBERTS: Miles O'Brien goes on a microscopic hunt for oil. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: Chalked up another gold medal for American swimmer Michael Phelps. That is three down and five more to go in his quest for a record eight gold medals in a single Olympic. Here's the latest medal count for you in this Beijing Games.

The United States leads with 21 overall medals. Host China has got 16 medals and the most golds with 11. The United States has got seven gold medals. South Korea is third with 11 medals, five of those gold.

Michael Phelps is now the only American, even though he stands in the brink of Olympic history, he's now the only American athlete who is celebrating these days.

Larry Smith is covering the Olympic Games for us. He's in Beijing this morning. I mean, you look at that Phelps performance last night. It was incredible. It looked like (INAUDIBLE) is winning the third race in the Triple Crown. But there's a lot of other things to celebrate today.

LARRY SMITH, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're right. Michael Phelps was amazing how, if you watch the replay of that last race, he was actually underwater so long that everyone else is already swimming. And then here he comes a few meters ahead, already on his way to a world record.

Yes, you're right. So many exciting things happening on this Tuesday here in Beijing for Americans. How about a no hitter in softball. Jennie Finch and Monica Abbott combining to blank Venezuela 11-0.

And USA men's volleyball team. So much talk about them, with the tragedy, the death over the weekend. They got another win over Italy. But you're right, the biggest stars in this day are in the pool.


SMITH (voice-over): It looks like no can stop Michael Phelps. The American team (ph) blew away the field in the 200 meter freestyle this morning, taking his third gold medal. He did in world record time, his third world mark in three vents. Phelps also tied fellow Americans Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis with nine career golds. They are three of four people in the world to share that owner. And Phelps remains on pace for a record eight golds in just one Olympics.

It turned out to be a big day for American swimmers in Beijing. Natalie Coughlin became the first woman to repeat as gold medalist in the 100 meter backstroke. Aaron Peirsol also defended his title taking the gold in the men's 100 meter backstroke and breaking the world record. Teammate Matt Grevers won the silver.


SMITH: Well, also, you're back to Michael Phelps. Another Olympic record for him this evening, Tuesday night, Beijing time in the pool as he sets that mark in the 200 meter butterfly semifinals. He'll go for a fourth gold medal and possibly a fourth world record Wednesday morning Beijing time. And that venue will be Tuesday night on the East Coast. John, let's go back to you.

ROBERTS: It says nothing short of a team.

Larry, thanks very much. A quick correction, I said that China had 16 medals. It's got 18 total. Sorry about that -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, it's a big summer comedy. Some say that the new Ben Stiller film, "Tropic Thunder," is pushing the envelope too far. There are groups representing the mentally disabled that are calling for a boycott. The studio, though, not backing down. We're going to see what the controversy is all about, still ahead.

And we have Rob Marciano. He's watching extreme weather for us this morning. Hey, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Kiran. Rough weather across the northeast yesterday. Boy, New York City saw a nasty couple of storms rolled through there with hail, heavy rain, the whole nine yards. Where's it going today? We'll tell you when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


CHETRY: It is quarter past the hour now. Time to fast forward to what will be making news later today. We're expecting to hear from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Right now, the two are meeting in Moscow.

Well, President Bush turning his attention to energy production. This morning he's going to be meeting with a group of businesses that are focused on fulfilling American's energy needs for the next 25 years by increasing oil and gas production.

Also ahead, you'll be hearing about anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan today. This time she now says that she has enough signatures to run for Congress in November. She says she'll run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. She has long complained that Pelosi failed to cut off war funding -- John.

ROBERTS: Thank you, Kiran. Our Rob Marciano is in the weather center down there in Atlanta. He's tracking extreme weather for us today. And to prove, Rob, you often don't know what's going on in your own backyard. You've got some extreme weather in the northeast for us today?

MARCIANO: Yes, we do across parts of New England, Boston specifically. This is the same system that was kind of centered over upstate New York yesterday and created all sorts of nastiness in the Tri-State area and through New York City itself, Manhattan, right up the gag. Nasty hail came through there with winds gusting. It's a 48, 50 miles an hour LaGuardian hail, any to a quarter size in spots.

That's not the only place though. We got to take you to this I- report of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where they also had some hail. Flooding reports across parts of Pennsylvania and upstate New York. This I-reporter sending in what looks to be a like a least pea-sized, certainly pounding off the pavement there and freaking people out in the middle of August. This is not that frequent an event for sure.

Oklahoma City, they saw some rainfall as well in and around parts of Eastern OK City. Flooding rainfall in excess of four and five inches and they were out there with the squeegees and the brooms trying to get it out of their homes and businesses. Today looks to be slight dryer there.

All right. Boston, you're going to get it now. Everything that was in the New York upstate area is now the eastern parts of New England. There you see the swirl. This is a cold pool of air that really, you get that cold air at the top and you get that sun baking the ground. That's why we saw those thunderstorms pop right around noontime yesterday and will probably see them again today. But you can see the center of the circulation pretty much out there by the harbor. So it will eventually pushes out to sea.

Here's our action down across parts of the mid south. Shreveport, Louisiana, it looks -- the good news here is that it's out of Oklahoma City and more so into Arkansas today. Heavy rain will shift into parts of the Mississippi Delta. Heavy rain expected across parts of Mississippi and Alabama, eventually getting to the rest of the southeast.

Temperatures today, though, still on the pleasant side. In New York, sans the thunderstorms, 81 degrees expected in the Big Apple. John and Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: Yes, we had a rip snorter yesterday morning at 11:00.

CHETRY: We did.

ROBERTS: I got caught right in the middle of it. But is it unusual. You said you don't usually see this time of year, but it feels like this year we've had a lot more of these storms ripping through.

MARCIANO: Yes, maybe so. Certainly to get that amount of hail in New York City in the middle of August is a fairly rare event. So I hope you enjoyed it.

ROBERTS: And how many descriptors are we going to have for hail? Pea size? Quarter size? Bottle cap size?

MARCIANO: Bottle cap size.

CHETRY: Any break from golf ball size is welcome.

MARCIANO: Rip snorter, it's the first I've heard of that one so I'm going to push that one.

CHETRY: Exactly.

MARCIANO: All right, John.

CHETRY: Thanks, Rob.

So are more U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan to help combat a resurgent Taliban? We're going to be talking with a long-time CIA commander who operated in that very region.

ROBERTS: Plus, boycotts against Ben Stiller's new comedy "Tropic Thunder." Groups for the mentally disabled say they're offended, but the studio says it's making no changes. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Ben Stiller's new movie "Tropic Thunder" opens across the country tomorrow. It's a big budget summer comedy that savages Hollywood excess and vanity, but not everyone's laughing. Some groups are calling for a boycott claiming the film openly ridicules the mentally disabled. The studio, though, is defending the film.

Here's CNN's Kareen Wynter. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Dreamworks' new movie "Tropic Thunder" hasn't even hit theaters and already it's generating controversy and leading to what some are calling the "R" word campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody knows you never go full retard.


WYNTER: Disability advocates say the film's liberal use of the "R" word is offensive. Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. play actors discussing how to win an Oscar playing a disabled character.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dustin Hoffman, "Rainman," looked retard, half-retard. Not retard. You can't fix your cards. Autistic, not retarded.

You know Tom Hanks, "Forrest Gump." No, he is retarded maybe. Braces on his legs, but he chunked the pants up and won a ping pong competition. That ain't retarded. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard.


TIM SHRIVER, SPECIAL OLYMPICS CHAIRMAN: We feel that it is unnecessarily humiliating and degrading to people with intellectual disabilities. We feel that they're treated with a total disrespect in the film. Seventeen times in this film the "R" word is used. Once the "N" word.

WYNTER: Timothy Shriver, a chairman of the Special Olympics, protested at the film's Monday premier, along with Andy Imparato, the CEO of the American Association of people with disabilities.

ANDY IMPARATO, AMERICAN ASSOC. OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: People are selling t-shirts on the Internet right now that say don't go full retard. Well, what kind of a message does that send? What kind of bullying is that going to lead to in school?

WYNTER: Several of the concerned groups met with Dreamworks' representatives last week. Imparato says he felt Dreamworks listened to their concerns but the studio says "Tropic Thunder" is finished and won't be changed before Wednesday's release. Stiller, the film's director, wants people to decide for themselves.

BEN STILLER, ACTOR: I feel that people see the movie, I'm confident that they'll get where we're coming from in the film. And we didn't mean to offend anybody in any way.

JACK BLACK, ACTOR: Everyone's entitled to their opinion. Obviously, that's what America's all about. If you've got something to say, you are free to say it.

WYNTER: Kareen Wynters, CNN, Los Angeles.


ROBERTS: We're following breaking news for you overseas this morning. Russia has reportedly agreed to end its military assault in Georgia. We're waiting to hear from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the next 20 minutes. We'll carry that for you here on CNN.

Did the U.S. takes its eye off the ball in Afghanistan and let the Taliban become a force to reckon with again? We'll talk to a former CIA commander who spent the last year training troops in Afghanistan. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: 26 minutes after the hour. Violence in Afghanistan has been on the rise and that has led to calls for an Iraq-like troop surge to help beat back a resurgent Taliban.

Our next guest has just returned from a year in the region. Gary Berntsen served from more than two decades in the CIA. He commanded a team of CIA and special forces that cornered Osama bin Laden after 9/11 at Tora Bora. He's got a new novel out titled "The Walk-In" which sort of synthesizes all of the problems in Afghanistan and American policy toward Iran into a thrilling work of fiction. And Gary Berntsen joins us now.

Gary, it's great to see you back.

GARY BERNTSEN, AUTHOR, "THE WALK-IN": It's great seeing you, John.

ROBERTS: It's been a long time, my friend.

What's the situation like on the ground there in Afghanistan? Give us a read?

BERNTSEN: The war has changed, of course. And, you know, during 2001, of course, we drove the Taliban out. There were on their heels. We forced them out.

They have returned and it's not just on the border. The Taliban are there now. You know, they're in two provinces deep in some places and it's not just the Taliban, though. It's the Taliban. There's elements of al-Qaeda. There's elements of Kashmir groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba (ph).

There are different Afghan groups like Hizb-e Islami Gulbuddin (ph), Hizb-e Islami Khalis. It's an amalgamation of groups that are working against the West.

ROBERTS: So has U.S. policy in Afghanistan failed? BERNTSEN: Well, I think that, you know, of course, I wasn't personally happy, of course, when we moved to Iraq so quickly after the war. That we needed to do a little bit more in Afghanistan. Once we got in trouble in Iraq, we had to solve Iraq, though.

Now it's time to move back to Afghanistan. And I think both candidates have talked about, you know, an increase in forces particularly, you know, two combat brigades there. But it's more -- it's about more than just combat brigades. It's about development. It's about fighting poppy. It's corruption.

ROBERTS: Yes. In fact, let's listen to General David McKiernan, who's the commander of NATO forces there. He's how he put it.


GEN. DAVID MCKIERNAN, NATO COMMANDER: What we need is security of the people. We need governance and we need reconstruction and development. So there is no magic number of soldiers that are needed on the ground to win this campaign.


ROBERTS: You can put two brigades, three brigades, five brigades in there, unless you do this other work?

BERNTSEN: Right. And it's not just reconstruction because some of these places were never constructed in the first place. And when you look at Afghanistan, you look at the losses we took there a little bit over a month ago when the 173rd lost nine young men up in a wanted (ph) district. That's an area we had just only penetrated recently. These are areas where there weren't roads before.

The 173rd who was there for the last year and a half has done a great job on development in the area. They built roads in the area. But we're penetrating places that the Taliban didn't control, the Northern Alliance never controlled. You know, no foreigners have been to some of these places in many, many years.

ROBERTS: In your first book, "Jaw Breaker," which was a groundbreaking book, you described the problems in the U.S. campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda and letting bin Laden escape at Tora Bora because you didn't have enough forces to go in there and get him out.

This new book, which is a work of fiction, you talk about an Iranian terrorism threat as seen through the eyes of Matt Freed.


ROBERTS: He's an operative for the National Counterterrorism Service. And he sits back in reflection and one of the pages in the book, deep into the book, he writes about the problems with the NCTS. And you say, quote, "Removing a small notebook from his pocket, Matt wrote: (1) Officers are rewarded from avoiding risks. (2) Headquarters need to develop a better sense of the challenges faced in the field and how to support their needs. (3) We have to recruit and train more officers fluent in local cultures and languages particularly Arabic and Farsi."

Is that a diagnosis of what continues to ail America in the war on terror?

BERNTSEN: Well, you know, it was hard to rebuild the service as you're engaged in two conflicts. It really is. And that the intelligence community in the United States is stretched to the limit. A large surge of people in Iraq, a large surge of people in Afghanistan. We've got to double our efforts on preparing officers in those languages.

And if we don't do that, we're going to continue to be behind the April (ph). And it requires a national effort.

Look, you know, we need to be doing things like this at the military academies. Half of those people at West Point should be studying Arabic of Farsi, every single morning for at least an hour. If we don't do this, we will never stand up to the threats that we're facing in the Middle East. It's a serious problem.

ROBERTS: The book is called "The Walk-In." It's a great read. I'm having a great time reading it.

BERNTSEN: Thank you.


ROBERTS: Gary, it's great to see you back. Hope you're back for a little while. All right, take care, my friend -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, it's just about 30 minutes past the hour now. Breaking news, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordering an end to military operations in neighboring Georgia. The announcement coming within the past hour, and just minutes before he was to with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Now the two leaders are scheduled to speak about the situation a bit later today. Moving back that statement.

In a televised statement Medvedev said, quote, "The aggressor has been punished and suffered very significant losses."

Well, nearly two-thirds of American corporations and companies doing business in the U.S. are not paying federal income taxes. Two- thirds. That's according to a report by the government accountability office. The report does not name names, but the agency did find that after making a collective $2.5 trillion in sales, corporations gave a laundry list of reasons to escape taxes including operating losses and tax credits.

Is John Edwards telling the whole story about his extramarital affair? Edwards last week admitted that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter for a short time in 2006, and that she was on his campaign staff when it began. But the editor of the "National Enquirer" who broke the story months ago told CNN's Larry King that there is much more that's going to come out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PEREL: He met three times with Rielle Hunter at the Beverly Hilton this year. That he has been in contact with her since. That she has now been flown out of California by private plane to an undisclosed location and significantly on the money trail, that he absolutely knew she was being paid and she told him that she was being paid.


CHETRY: Edwards has denied that he's the father of Hunter's daughter.

And continuing our breaking news out of Russia this morning, Russia announcing that it has called off its invasion of neighboring Georgia. That's a deadly conflict unfolded yesterday. John McCain saw an opening. Here's CNN's Ed Henry.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, with Russian tanks rolling deeper and deeper into Georgia, John McCain is trying to seize upon the issue to show he's better prepared to be commander-in-chief.


HENRY (voice-over): Appearing in Pennsylvania with Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security secretary, John McCain tried to showcase his own foreign policy credentials.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The United States and our allies should continue efforts to bring a resolution before the United Nations Security Council condemning Russia's aggression.

HENRY: With Barack Obama vacationing in Hawaii, McCain has the stage to himself to try and show he has experience to handle a crisis. And claim he was ahead of the curve months ago when he started denouncing Russian leader Vladimir Putin's anti-democratic moves.

MCCAIN: We must remind Russia's leaders that the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require their respect for the values, stability and peace of the world.

HENRY: Obama has been getting briefings on the situation in Georgia and spoke out Friday, though he was not quite as forceful in denouncing Russia. But now he's talking tough

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Russia has escalated its military campaign through strategic bombing. And the movement of its ground forces into the heart of Georgia. There is no possible justification for these attacks.

HENRY: McCain's offensive harkens back to the 3:00 a.m. ad. Hillary Clinton ran in the Democratic primaries to suggest Obama was not up to the job. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Who do you want answering the phone?

HENRY: The ad didn't work for Clinton, but the McCain camp thinks the issue may resonate more in the general election with independent voters concerned about security. Though McCain's claim to have a handle on national security could be slightly undermined by mispronouncing the name of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili three times.

MCCAIN: Mikhail Saashkavili. President Saashkavili. President Saashkavili.


HENRY: An ABC News "Washington Post" poll found last month, that when asked who they trust more to handle an unforeseen crisis, 50 percent said McCain, 41 percent said Obama. A nine point edge for the Republican, but not necessarily as big as one might expect.

For example, when asked who they trust more to handle the economy, 54 percent said Obama, 35 percent said McCain. A 19-point edge for the Democrat.



ROBERTS: Ed Henry for us this morning. Alina Cho joins us now with other stories new this morning. Just trying to get in gear here.



ROBERTS: I did a double yesterday, and I'm still trying to wake up.

It's good to see you back.

CHO: Well, you were off for a week. You're OK to do that. Good morning, guys. Thank you for welcoming me back. And good morning, everybody.

New this morning, a stunning cross-country twist in the case of a mystery dad jailed in Boston for kidnapping his own daughter. Authorities now say the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller is the same person who lived with California couple John and Linda Sohus when they vanished back in 1985.

At the time, Rockefeller went by the name Christopher Chichester. His lawyer admits he used that name when he tried to break in to Hollywood as a movie actor back in the 1908s. Police call him a person of interest in the couple's disappearance. They are presumed dead. Rockefeller's attorney says he is completely innocent. The Sohus' remain were never found, but authorities are still trying to ID bones that were found under their home in 1994.

Police in Palm Beach, Florida are releasing some startling video in a beating case. Take a look at this. It shows the suspect in handcuffs. Punched in the face by one police officer, and then once he gets on the ground, he's kicked by two other officers.

The West Palm Beach police chief says there's no doubt in their mind the officers used excessive force. One officer has since resigned and the others are on administrative leave. According to the arrest report, the suspect robbed a CVS pharmacy back in May. Was armed with pepper spray and he was demanding prescription drugs. He is now on house arrest charged with robbery with a weapon and aggravated assault on an officer.

And in health news this morning. Overweight does not necessarily mean unhealthy according to a new study. More than half of overweight people and nearly a third of obese Americans have mostly normal levels of blood pressure and cholesterol. Researchers say they found nearly 25 percent of Americans with the recommended weight had high blood pressure or cholesterol.

But before you grab that extra hot dog, 16 million Americans -- not you, not you. 16 million Americans are still overweight. Americans are still at risk for heart disease.

CHETRY: And as Sanjay Gupta will tell us, obesity is the number risk factor for all types of diseases.

CHO: But startling that so many are still relatively healthy.

ROBERTS: We've seen a lot of these counter-intuitive studies that turn out with further research not to be true. So, we'll see how this one goes.

CHO: Well, I still think eat right and exercise is probably good mantra, right?

CHETRY: That's what we aim for everyday. Whether it happens or not is a different story.

ROBERTS: Just don't stress too much about it because that will drive your blood pressure up.

CHO: That's I contest.

CHETRY: Thanks, Alina.

ROBERTS: Alina, thanks.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: Well, the word E. Coli synonymous with food poisoning. But find out why scientist says the bacteria could soon be a future source of energy.

The return of the electric car. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'll give you a little sneak peek.


CHETRY: GM hopes to get a boost from the flashy volt. But first it's got one huge problem to solve. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Some scientists in California think E. coli may be the real thing -- the answer to the nation's fuel crisis.

CNN's Miles O'Brien shows us how bacteria is being genetically engineered to produce an alternative to oil.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's like an oil field on a microscope slide. These tiny bacteria are making diesel fuel. No drilling required.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we seeing here? This is fuel here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the E. coli cells and if converted to sugar, it secreted out the oil.

O'BRIEN: Stephen Del Cardayre is the lead researcher with a company called LS9 that is harnessing a harmless strain of E. coli to make fuel. All you have to is feed the bacteria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't have to be like corn or --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can use corn, you can use sugar cane, whichever work. Wheat straw will work.

O'BRIEN: In short, they aren't picky eater. They eat sugar, digest and then expel petroleum waste. Del Cardayre and his team have genetically engineered these tiny oil makers to create diesel because it's the easiest fuel to make. But E. coli could make other fuels as well.

What is the catch?

STEPHEN DEL CARDAYRE, LS9, INC.: No catch. We've genetically engineered E. coli to make fuel that can be used in existing infrastructure.

O'BRIEN: And that is a key point. LS9's E. coli diesel can be mixed in with traditional fossil fuels.

Ethanol is so corrosive it cannot be sent through existing pipelines. But can an army of microbes really make a difference? Bob McCormick is a government expert on biofuels.

ROBERT MCCORMICK, NATL. RENEWABLE ENERGY LAB: If you've got something that you can make work in a test tube, that's good. But you've got to be able to make it work on a very large scale to have an impact on our petroleum imports.

O'BRIEN: At LS9, they are ramping up as fast as they can, separating oil and water. They hope to be making millions of gallons a week in the next few years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it possible to say we could grow our way out of our dependence on oil?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I doubt we're going to completely eliminate our dependence on oil. But we'll certainly be able to wean ourselves of complete dependence.

O'BRIEN: That is, once they get the bugs out. Miles O'Brien, CNN, south San Francisco, California.


ROBERTS: 42-1/2 minutes after the hour now. And the "Most News in the Morning." Is there more to the John Edwards affair? The "National Enquirer's" editor broke more news to Larry King. We'll tell you what he said.

Plus, Rob Marciano tracking extreme weather for us this morning.

Hey, Rob?

MARCIANO: Hey, John. Thunderstorms across eastern Mass. Wind is gusting to 57 miles an hour on the Cape on Plymouth, Massachusetts. That could spoil your beach time. And several tropical waves in the Atlantic could spoil some beach time this weekend on the East Coast. We'll talk about when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


ROBERTS: Picture this morning from the 79th Street Causeway in Miami. Thanks to our friends at WSBN for that. Looking out at a Miami sky and it's as pink as the flamingos in South Florida.

CHETRY: So beautiful.

ROBERTS: 80 degrees there right now. Feels like 85 because you got 87 percent humidity going up to 91 today with isolated thunderstorms. You know, this time of year the temperature differential in South Florida is about five degrees. So, it's hot all the time.

CHETRY: It's the high and then it's the low. Didn't you notice? Well, Rob Marciano is tracking all the weather for us.

We've had some crazy weather, at least it feels like to us up here in New York. MARCIANO: Yes.

CHETRY: Feel -- you just feel strange. We got hail. We have huge thunderstorms. A lot going on.

MARCIANO: John mentioned the pink flamingos. I can't help but think of -- you know, some of my friends and relatives who live far enough away from Miami that have the pink flamingos in a plastic variety on their lawn.


CHETRY: Just the other day, we were at the Bronx Zoo. The flamingo exhibit there having a blast.

ROBERTS: Of course. It's like south Florida.

CHETRY: They love it. The skinniest little -- how do they stand on that thing? I mean if --

ROBERTS: People ask the same question about you.

MARCIANO: Wear pink tomorrow, Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly. I got it. Thanks, Rob.

Well, a new car that could save you big bucks by letting you drive right past the gas station. The big automakers are racing to get it on the market again.

ROBERTS: Video vengeance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was one of my friends. I think I would like -- smack him in the face.


ROBERTS: Jeanne Moos looks at the online response to the John Edwards affair and finds everything from the angry to ironic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 2007 Father of the Year award, Senator John Edwards.


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


CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Now, it seems everyone has an opinion about John Edwards' admitted affair. And they're sharing it all online. ROBERTS: As our Jeanne Moos tells us, the scandal is steaming up the Internet.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Make no mistake.


MOOS: Even before John Edwards admitted he crossed the line, his affair was splashed online and bloggers taunted the mainstream media for staying silent. Now the lines are being drawn online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was one of my friends, I think I would like, smack him in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stood up for him. I preached about him. I gave him my money and he does this (BLEEP) with this girl? What the hell's wrong with him? Shame on you, John Edwards. Shame on you!

MOOS: But defenders said it's just sex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, 2008! Wake up! Extramarital affairs, first of all, are not political business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sex scandal rocks America my (BLEEP). Millions of great men have had affairs. I call this all a load of crap.

MOOS: Remember the days when this was the YouTube video that drove the Edwards campaign nuts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel pretty. Oh so pretty.

MOOS: That was pretty high-brow compared to the videos circulating now. The folks who brought us Obama girl now present Cheat Team.

John Edwards calls Bill Clinton for advice, while hiding from reporters in a hotel bathroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, cheat team, listen up. I've got John Edwards on the line and we've got ourselves a code blue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Edwards is stuck in the bathroom with nowhere to run. R. Kelly wants to know, where the reporter are from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look from the Enquirer.

MOOS: And look what else you can find.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 2007 Father of the Year Award, Senator John Edwards.

MOOS: Senator Edwards got the Father of the Year Award not long after he says he broke off his affair.

EDWARDS: I'm not the best parent in my family. The best parent in my family is here with me today as my wife Elizabeth who is right down here.

MOOS: Comments posted long before the affair with known ranged from "bravo" to "I can't believe this guy's not in first place." But now folks are posing comments like piece of garbage cheats on cancer stricken wife.

(on camera): John Edwards even got the silent treatment. Not from his wife, from someone doing sign language. This interpreter wanted to bring the news about Edwards' affair to the hearing impaired. Here she's saying what's worse is that John's mistress is pregnant. Well, actually, the baby is already born. Edwards denies he's the dad. Hard not the point fingers, signing.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: Unanswered questions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He met three times with Rielle Hunter at the Beverly Hilton this year.


CHETRY: The Enquirer's editor drops more John Edwards daggers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He absolutely knew she was being paid and she told him.


CHETRY: Plus the Oprah bounce. We know what she can do for a book. Now we know what she did for Barack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She brought to Barack Obama.


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


CHETRY: The flipside of the four-day week.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't bring the mini bar. Someone asked for that several times on my trip yesterday.


CHETRY: Keeping employees motivated through the ten-hour work day. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

ROBERTS: Top videos right now on Youth gangs riot in Montreal, torching cars and looting after police shot and killed a man on Sunday.

Also, pro-Georgian demonstrators rallying outside the United Nations chanting Russia out of Georgia and stop killing Georgians.

And the U.S. stuns France in the 4 x 100 meter relay. Team U.S.A. won by a touch a fraction ahead of the overconfident favorites in the race keeping Michael Phelps' hopes for eight gold medals alive. Show you how popular that is. That happened two days ago. Those are the most popular videos right now on

And the United States once again padding its medal count with another successful day in the pool. One of those medals coming from Michael Phelps who is still on track to become the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.

Our Larry Smith is live in Beijing for us right now with more on the excitement there.

Hi, Larry.

LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kiran. Yes, it is all about Michael Phelps no matter where you go. You see him on billboards, on the sides of buses -- transit buses all over the place. Everyone watching Michael Phelps. It is incredible run at history. It's been a big day for the Americans in the first four days of competition, but for the most part the heroes are in the water.


SMITH (voice-over): It looks like no one can stop Michael Phelps. The American team blew away the field in the 200-meter free style this morning. Taking his third gold medal. He did it in world record time. His third world mark in three events. Phelps also tied fellow Americans Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis with nine career golds. They are three of four people in the world to share that honor. And Phelps remains on pace for a record eight golds in just one Olympics.

It turned out to be a big day for American swimmers in Beijing. Natalie Coughlin became the first woman to repeat as gold medalist in the 100-meter backstroke. Aaron Peirsol also defended his title taking the gold in the men's 100 meter backstroke and breaking the world record. Team mate Matt Grevers won the silver.


SMITH: Well, so far today that's USA three golds and seven medals total in the pool. So they now have 21 overall total medals and leave that count. China has 18 total, though 11 of those are gold. They lead in the gold count. As for Michael Phelps, he's back Wednesday morning Beijing time, Tuesday night on the East Coast, going for a fourth gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly.

Kiran, let's go back to you.

CHETRY: Right. They've been cleaning it up in the pool to see if they continue that. Larry, thanks.

And for all the stuff that you've ever wanted to know about the Beijing Games, you can head to our Web site,

ROBERTS: It's coming up to a couple of minutes before the top of the hour. And here are this morning's top stories. Breaking this morning. Reports that there is more to John Edwards' affair than he has admitted. The "National Enquirer," which broke the story tells CNN Edwards knew that his mistress was getting paid and that he has visited her several times since 2006.

Also happening right now, Russia's president calling off troops inside Georgia. This comes as world leaders meet in an effort to end the bloody invasion that has reportedly claimed 2,000 lives. Earlier Russia said no to a U.N. backed ceasefire and called for Georgia's president, a strong U.S. ally, to step down.

A roadside blast in Pakistan killing at least 12 people. The attackers on the loose right now after a bomb was detonated by remote killing Pakistani air force personnel and civilian bystanders. The bombing took place near the Afghanistan border near a tribal region heavily populated by Islamic militants.

CHETRY: Our top story this morning. Brand-new bomb shells being claimed in the John Edwards affair. The "National Enquirer" broke the story months ago. And its editor just told CNN that much more is coming out.

Our Alina Cho has the latest developments now for us.


CHO: Hey, there, Kiran, good morning.

You know, the editor-in-chief of the "National Enquirer" David Perel spoke exclusively to Larry King last night. He said he was shocked that Edwards lied so brazenly about his affair with Rielle Hunter, and he didn't think Edwards really came clean during his interview with "Nightline." And went on to say there is still more to the story.


PEREL: He met three times with Rielle Hunter at the Beverly Hilton this year. That he has been in contact with her since. That she has now been flown out of California by private plane to an undisclosed location and significantly on the money trail that he absolutely knew she was being paid and she told him that she was being paid and how much and where it was coming from.


CHO: Now, Perel also said when Edwards admitted that he told his wife about a July visit to the Beverely Hilton, the day after it happened, a visit during which it appears a photo was taken of him holding Hunter's baby. That he only did so because he was confronted by reporters working for "The Enquirer." And Perel says, that story was up on "The Enquirer's" web site within two hours. And that Edwards really had no choice.

Meanwhile, the "Washington Post" is reporting that when Edwards announced his presidential bid back in December of 2006, his wife Elizabeth was not by his side, but Hunter was, standing off to the side, filming him as he announced he was running for president.

Now, Edwards, as many people know, has admitted he made a quote "serious error in judgment" when he had the affair with Hunter. That he told his wife about it long before it became public. Elizabeth Edwards of course, one of the most beloved women in America, is battling cancer right now. Hunter has since put out a statement saying, she will not seek a paternity test to prove whether Edwards is the father of her five month-old baby. She says, she is not running for public office, Kiran, and wants to maintain her privacy and her daughter's privacy.

So, of course, the big questions right now are who is the father of Hunter's baby, what is the future of Edwards' political career and for now, Kiran, as you well know, those are still open questions.

CHETRY: Sure are.

Alina Cho, thanks so much.