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Russian Troops on the Move Again: Conflicting Reports on Cease- Fire; British Reporter Arrested by Chinese Police as Camera Rolls; U.S. Women's Gymnastic Team Accusing China of Using Psychological Warfare

Aired August 14, 2008 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. A Russian retreat. Overnight Moscow pulls out of a major city in Georgia. But will it last?
And the top diplomat for the U.S. heading to the region. And presidential candidates coming down hard on Russia.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The time is now. Take the necessary actions.



Welcome. Glad you're with us on this Thursday, August 14th.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. John Roberts together with Kiran Chetry. We've got breaking news off the top of the show this morning.

Russian troops said to be on the move yet again. Georgia says more troops have entered Gori and the Black Sea port of Poti despite earlier reports that troops had started to pull out. A cease-fire agreement earlier this week called for both sides to pull back to positions that they held before the fighting began a week ago. Russia and Georgia have accused each other of violating the cease-fire agreement.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her way to Tbilisi. We're going to check in with our correspondents in the region throughout the morning.

And new details about that deadly shooting at the Arkansas Democratic Party headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. Police say the man who shot party chief Bill Gwatney yesterday had just been fired from a Target store.

Just moments after the shooting witnesses say he pointed a handgun at the building saying, "I lost my job." Police shot and killed Johnson after a 30-mile chase. Gwatney had planned to go to the convention later on this month. Bill and Hillary Clinton described him as a "cherished friend." At the Beijing Olympics, China now shares the lead with the United States in overall medals. They've got 32 but China leads in gold with 20. The United States has 10. The host country dominating in gymnastics winning its first women's team gold and Yang Wei winning gold in the men's all around.

Meantime, America's golden boy Michael Phelps advanced to the finals of the 200 meter individual medley. He goes for six gold medal at Beijing and the 12th of his career. That will be tonight -- Kiran.

CHETRY: As you said, we have breaking news from Georgia this morning. Russian troops said to be on the move. More Russian troops have moved into the city of Gori as well as the Black Sea oil port city of Poti. Now despite earlier reports, the troops had started to pull out. We're now getting different information.

Meantime, the Bush administration is stepping up its involvement in the crisis. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to Paris then on to Tbilisi to show her support -- U.S. support for Georgia. After that she will go to Brussels to confer with NATO officials about the situation.

U.S. officials say Russia may have 15,000 or more troops on the ground in Georgia. President Bush dispatching troops on a humanitarian mission to Georgia, the first air lift of U.S. aid arrived yesterday.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is live for us in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. And as we said, Frederik, some conflicting information about whether or not this cease-fire is indeed happening, or whether there were more Russian troops on the move. What can you tell us?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kiran. I just got off the phone with Georgian officials who are actually in that town of Gori. And they are telling us that they believe that the Russians will still pull out of that town of Gori, but they believe that pullout has been somewhat stalled.

Now, we had been hearing reports there were explosions in that town of Gori and that does seem to be the case. But Georgian officials are telling us they believe those are the Russians clearing out some bombs that hadn't exploded during that massive bombing campaign that was going on during the past couple of days. So that's just them basically clearing the area of bombs.

You were saying earlier there were more Russian tanks actually also rolling into Gori. But even Georgian officials there telling us that they believe the Russians are moving those tanks in for logistical reasons, possibly to pull artillery pieces and similar hardware out of that city.

So the Georgians still seem fairly confident that the Russians are going to be pulling out their forces out of that city. They say earlier today their police forces that have actually started to move into that city to try to keep law and order in that transition period.

Now, meanwhile, the humanitarian situation here on the ground still remains dire. We said earlier that the U.S. is starting a big humanitarian airlift into this country. A C-17 landed here in Tbilisi airport yesterday. More are coming today. One has already landed today.

I'm actually standing in front of a refugee center here in central Tbilisi, and you can see there's not many people behind me. But that is the case and that is the scene that you'll see at refugee centers here. They're not one big refugee center. There's very small refugee centers that are spotted all over the place, and that's what makes the situation so difficult is that it's just very hard to get to those very remote places -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Frederik Pleitgen for us in Tbilisi, Georgia this morning. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Meantime, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain says the Russian invasion of Georgia is a wakeup call. In an opinion piece in the "Wall Street Journal" today, McCain says Americans should care about the fighting there because history is made in remote places. McCain who has traveled to the troubled region says Russia needs to understand that there will be consequences for its actions.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not advocating cutting off relations with Russia. I'm not advocating a reignition of the Cold War. I am advocating for actions that will make it very clear to the Russians that there are long-term consequences for violation of the norms of international behavior. But I will still support proposals and agreements between our two countries.


ROBERTS: Meantime McCain's wife Cindy will be back on the campaign trail with the senator today. She was taken to the hospital yesterday for a sprained wrist. A campaign spokeswoman says an enthusiastic supporter in Michigan shook Cindy's hand just a little too hard, aggravating an old injury for which she had surgery several years ago.

CHETRY: That may seem odd but I feel like -- I'm surprised it doesn't happen more on the campaign trail.


CHETRY: Because they are shaking hands. People are excited.


CHETRY: She's doing OK, though. That's good news.

Home foreclosures not so good news on that front.

VELSHI: Yes, but once a month we get these reports. We don't certainly speak of foreclosures the way we used to when it really felt like a crisis, but they are still there. According to RealtyTrac, a company which tracks and lists foreclosed homes, foreclosures across the country are up again.

Take a look at how the numbers break down by state. The U.S. average, you can see there at the bottom of the list, one in 464 homes in foreclosure. Nevada, the same list seems to show up all the time.

Nevada tops the list, one in 106 homes are in foreclosure there. Then California, Florida, Arizona and Ohio. Those are your top five.

The issue here is that the fastest -- this is foreclosure filings, any point in the foreclosure process from the time that you are defaulting on your loan and you get the notice all the way till the time that the bank takes possession of the home. And the fastest growing part of this unfortunately, and this tells you where we are in the process is the actual repossessions.

In fact, repossessions in July were 77,000 homes. That's what the bank took possession of. That's up eight percent compared to June. But if you compare it to last July that number is up 183 percent. So 183 percent more homes were actually repossessed, taken over by the bank than they were a year ago. Filings were up 55 percent compared to a year ago.

The reason this is relevant is because of all the homes that are for sale right now, existing homes, 17 percent of them are bank foreclosures. The silver lining here is that if you are looking for a home, there are lots of them that are available that are being sold by the bank right now.

CHETRY: Ali, thank you.

ROBERTS: A reporter in China becomes the story when he tries to cover pro-Tibet protesters.


JOHN RAY, ITV NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm being arrested. These people are arresting me. I've been arrested by the Chinese police for doing -- just trying to cover the protest here. I was inside the park. I was physically manhandled to the ground and dragged out.


ROBERTS: The other side of China's Olympic face. We'll show you the video of the violent arrest.

CHETRY: The Unabomber museum.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He also kept some of his bomb- making materials in a hole in the ceiling, right?



CHETRY: Carol Costello takes us inside the cabin Ted Kaczynski doesn't want you to see.

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


ROBERTS: Nine minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning."

This is the Olympics that we've come to enjoy the past few days. Triumph in the pool, the enduring Olympic spirit. But outside of the venue it's often a different story.

China has been working hard to crack down on pro-Tibet protesters. And one British reporter found himself in the middle of it all with his camera rolling. Here's ITN's John Ray.


JOHN RAY, ITV NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China promised to welcome the world. The days on the floor and its space. A day that began with a brief moment of protest soon snuffed out.

The banner is illegal but our presence as journalist permitted by commitments made by Beijing in return for the games. Yet it seems no one has told the police.


RAY: At the entrance to a park close to the Olympic stadium, activists chain themselves together. The authorities are in a fury. This campaign has proclaimed the cause of Tibet.

PEMA YOKO NORBU, STUDENTS FOR A FREE TIBET RESTRICTIONS: We're so lucky that we have all these Western supporters to fight for us because this is a nonviolent war. And we will continue and we will go on and we will be strong. Because we won't give up. This is our right.

RAY: And this is the moment I encountered the Chinese response. I'm bundled away, pushed to the floor, pinned down. But perhaps 15 minutes they hold me then I'm forced into a police van, a brief taste of Chinese law and order.

RAY (on camera): I've been arrested. These people are arresting me. I've been arrested by the Chinese police for doing -- just trying to cover the protest here. I was inside the park. I was physically manhandled to the ground and dragged out.

And then three or four more police came, wrestled me into the restaurant here. And they've taken my shoes off me. They've taken my equipment bag. They've taken all the equipment I've got, and they won't tell me why I've been arrested.

Are you arresting me? It's not a time for cool reflection.

(voice-over): A Chinese colleague tells him I'm a journalist. (on camera): I'm a journalist. You're arresting me. Why are you arresting me?

(voice-over): And I show my Olympic accreditation. If I could, what does it do?

(on camera): I'm a journalist.

(voice-over): We drove only a few yards. In the back I was questioned about my views on Tibet. I told them again and again I had come only to report a protest. Eventually, that won me my freedom.

John Ray, ITV News, Beijing.


CHETRY: There's a new Web site that could make it easier for the public to file lawsuits. But could it also help generate an avalanche of frivolous cases? It's Our Sunny Hostin joins us in about 10 minutes to tell us more.

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

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Kiran. I'm looking up this thing that continues to bubble up towards the Caribbean heading towards the U.S. We'll talk about that.

Plus, hockey puck-sized hail reported yesterday. Guess where? It's close to Canada. The "Most News in the Morning" will be right back.


ROBERTS: That was a live shot this morning of Jacksonville, Florida, as America wakes up on this Thursday morning. Good to have you with us. It's coming up on 16 minutes after the hour now.

CHETRY: And Rob Marciano joins us this morning with a look at extreme weather. We talked about all the varying descriptions for hail. We got a new one this morning for you, John. Hockey puck size.

MARCIANO: Hockey puck size. Yes.

CHETRY: And how appropriate with the location.

MARCIANO: Exactly. You know what, the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is I check on the severe weather reports from the day before. This kind of struck me.

Hockey puck-sized hail reported in Edgerton, Minnesota. Obviously, hockey a big sport there. A couple of other things that were kind of odd. Hen egg sized hail reported on Lake Park, Iowa, obviously hen is a big parkland (ph) in there as opposed to rooster-sized eggs.

And then one other thing, half a hog barn was destroyed, unfortunately, two miles northeast of Lake Park, Iowa, due to gusty winds. That's your latest storm reports for you.

Hey, we got a couple of storms that are firing up across the Tristate area. You know, with this cool air you guys had in place, these little showers kind of bubble up from time to time. Up towards Orange County, heading towards Fairfield (ph) County, up towards Newburg, a couple of showers there. Up 84. Nothing too drastic.

In Chicago, you're also kind of on the cool side with a couple of showers rotating around what is an unusually cool pocket of air across parts of the northeastern third of the country.

All right. Here we go. Caribbean, Bahamas flare up here. These thunderstorms around. This storm which we've been watching for days now, they canceled the flights in there to recon it yesterday. They're going to go in there today because it looks a little bit more impressive and they've upgraded the likelihood of this developing into a tropical depression. And the track is heading towards the Bahamas over the next couple of days.

So this definitely looks more interesting today than it did yesterday. Hen-sized eggs. Hen egg-sized hail.

CHETRY: We were wondering how big rooster eggs are, Rob, since you brought them up?

MARCIANO: Well -- yes. I don't think I've ever seen one.


CHETRY: I don't think you ever will.

ROBERTS: Nor will you. Thanks so much for that.

MARCIANO: All right, guys. We'll see you later.

CHETRY: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Speaking of fowl, claims of foul play at the Olympics where the U.S. Gymnastics Team is saying about the gold medal winning Chinese team.

CHETRY: Also ahead, point, click and sue? A new Web site might be making it too easy to head to court. Legal analyst Sunny Hostin weighs in. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: It's 20 minutes after the hour now. A new Web site helps Internet savvy people sue companies a little more easily. The site is called It launches next month.

But will it really help consumers get justice? AMERICAN MORNING's legal analyst Sunny Hostin back from vacation. Great to see you. She's here now.

So what is this Web site tell you? SUNNY HOSTIN, AMERICAN MORNING LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, what it tells you is not necessarily who you can sue, John, but whether or not your case has any real merit, has any real teeth. And I think, you know, there's a hole in the market for that.

People ask me all the time as an attorney, I just slipped and fell, is there anyone that I can sue? Do I have a case? And people want to know whether or not they have the right to sue or who they should sue. And in that sense if they're feeling this Web site is filling that hole, it could be pretty significant.

ROBERTS: So what's your sense of this? Will it actually increase the number of lawsuits that we see, or could it potentially decrease them because there will not be as many frivolous lawsuits filed because people might take a look at this and say, oh, I don't have a case?

HOSTIN: There's a debate over that. I mean, there are certainly many detractors that are saying, this is going to encourage lawsuits. People are going to think that it's much easier to sue. And then there are those like myself that think maybe not. We spoke to the owner of the Web site, the founder of the Web site.

ROBERTS: Yes. We are the naively optimistic.

HOSTIN: Exactly. And he says he vehemently, you know, disagrees and says that's certainly not going to encourage lawsuits. "The notion promoted by some commentators that this site will help to generate an avalanche of frivolous lawsuits is comically absurd."

And I tend to agree with him on that. If someone gets on this Web site and a realtime attorney, which is what they're offering says, you know, you do have some merits on the case. That should decrease frivolous lawsuits only because attorneys, John, can't file frivolous lawsuits. It's really against the code of ethics. You can get disbarred for something like that.

ROBERTS: So they charge for this? So they're making money out of advertising that?

HOSTIN: It's a little different than other Web sites that are around right now and that they don't charge the consumer. What they are doing is charging attorneys about $1,000 or more to be advertised on the site and to be linked with the site.


HOSTIN: And so it's free for consumers, charge for attorneys, could be a win/win for everyone.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, let's see. So the debut is next month, right?

HOSTIN: Next month in September.

ROBERTS: All right. Sunny, thanks very much and welcome back. It's great to see you. HOSTIN: Thank you. It's great to be back.

ROBERTS: Fabulous tan.

Don't forget to e-mail Sunny your legal questions, on to our Web site and she'll answer your questions as she does every Friday here on AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: Well, the "National Enquirer" making headlines for breaking the John Edwards affair story. The tabloid settling a suit about Ted Kennedy now.

And Russian troops said to be on the move. We're following breaking news from the region. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: There's some new controversy this morning about the Olympic Games. The U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team accusing China of using "psychological warfare" after losing the gold medal taking the silver. The team's head coach says organizers tried to psych out Captain Alicia Sacramone by deliberately holding her up before her balance beam routine. Sacramone then fell on the balance beam and then again had a wobble during her floor exercise.

More claims today that some of the Chinese gymnasts shouldn't even be competing because they don't meet the minimum requirement of 16.

Ryan Smith is a BET talk show host and a sports attorney, and he joins me this morning from the Olympic Games in Beijing. Good to have you with us this morning, Ryan.


CHETRY: Is this -- is this sour grapes or does Maria (ph) Karolyi and the U.S. team have a little bit of a point here especially when it comes to what happened to Alicia Sacramone?

SMITH: Well, it's a tough controversy. There's a little bit of sour grapes here. I mean, this is a highly charged event. The U.S. thought they would win and they didn't.

And you know, the part of the gymnasts' goal here is to have that mental toughness and that mental strength. There are a lot of things that happen in a gymnastics contest. So for them to claim, hey, you know, there was some psychological warfare going on there, I think is maybe overstepping it a little bit too much.

As far as the age requirement is concerned, the Chinese have submitted paperwork that says that the kids are actually 16 and over. So even though they might look a little bit younger, there is no real proof to say that they are younger so that's why I don't think you'll see anything happen as a result of this.

But, you know, when you have an event like this that the Americans thought they would win, you're going to see a little sour grapes and I think that's what's happening here.

CHETRY: What are the implications of being I guess held up before your routine? What are they taking about?

SMITH: It's a psychological distraction. After one performer goes and another performer is listed, that performer is supposed to go immediately. Once they are listed as going, they lock in psychologically and get ready to perform. When they have to wait it breaks their concentration. So when Miss Sacramone went on that beam and was distracted, she couldn't quite make it through that routine. And then on the next routine she stumbled thinking about the previous routine.

But the problem is this happens all over sports. You're thrown for a loop. You're not really sure what's going to happen, and you're supposed to be ready for that. And so that's -- it's kind of hard to blame it just on that alone.

CHETRY: I know what you're saying. Michael Phelps said that he swam -- he actually broke the record with water in his goggles. I mean, it does happen. You're right.

SMITH: Exactly.

CHETRY: And those are the things that you try to train for.

But back to the Chinese gymnasts being under the age of 16, apparently there was an investigation. A journalist did find online registration showing that three of the six girls were actually 14. The problem is it's very difficult to prove. Gymnasts do all look pretty young, and there really is no exact way to tell their ages. So is the International Olympic Committee going to continue to look into this or is it pretty much over?

SMITH: I think it's pretty much over and here's why. The IOC -- now there is precedent for this because in 2002 in Salt Lake City there was a controversy with French judging in terms of the figure skating, and a gold was issued to a Canada team that lost to the USSR.

Now here, you're not going to really see that happen and here's why. China is the host country. This was a big win for China and the IOC doesn't really want to disrupt that decision with a lot of rumor and innuendo that you're hearing about this age controversy.

Now it may very well be true that some of these girls are under age. But it's hard to prove that when the paperwork has already been submitted and they're 16. The IOC would have to go in, look at that paperwork and then subsequently overturn things. I don't think you're going to see that here. They want to keep these games on a positive note.

CHETRY: Let's talk about Michael Phelps. More medals being called the best Olympian in the history of the Olympics. How big is Michael Phelps phenomenon in Beijing?

SMITH: Oh, it's huge here. If you walk around Beijing, you'll see ads everywhere with Michael Phelps and Yao Ming and Visa ads and all other kinds of ads.

Michael Phelps is a worldwide phenomenon at this point. We're talking five gold medals, five world record performances. The man is amazing. And I'll tell you, if he wins the next three, he will be a worldwide phenomenon and probably the biggest boon for the Olympics.

Over the first three days of the Olympics, ratings were up 20 percent and network executives were saying a lot of this is because of Phelps' performances. He is really just driving this Olympics and his personality and the support of his teammates is really, really helping him in terms of getting that worldwide positive image.

CHETRY: It's fun to watch, no doubt. Swimming has been captivating this Olympic season.

Ryan Smith, BET talk show host, sports attorney, having a blast in Beijing. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes. See you later.

ROBERTS: Coming up on the half hour now. And new reports overnight indicate that Russia is challenging the cease-fire agreement with Georgia. Georgia says more troops have entered Gori and the Black Sea port of Poti despite earlier reports that troops had started to pull out. A cease-fire agreement this week called for both sides to pull back the positions they held before the fighting began a week ago. Russia and Georgia have accused each other of violating the truce.

At least 11 people including seven children are dead this morning after a bus plunged into a river in India. It happened near a coastal city of Mangalore. Firefighters and residents in the area saved six schoolboys from the mangled bus. Another 13 people are still unaccounted for.

In less than three hours' time, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff will be arraigned on perjury charges stemming from his under oath denial of an alleged affair. One of Kilpatrick's attorneys is now asking Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, to pardon the embattled mayor. Kilpatrick is offering to testify in exchange for the pardon. Kilpatrick is a Democratic superdelegate.

The Bush administration coming down firmly on the side of Georgia in its conflict with Russia and is determine to hold Moscow's feet to the fire. The president dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for emergency meetings in France and Georgia. Our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee has more on the secretary's mission.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that Russia needs to stand down and leave Georgia.


VERJEE: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is demanding Russia stay true to its word and get out of Georgia.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is not 1968, and the invasion of Czechoslovakia where Russia can threaten its neighbors, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it. Things have changed.

VERJEE: Secretary Rice says Russia seriously overreached by sending troops deep into Georgia and it's time to dig itself out of a hole.

RICE: I really do believe that the Russians understand that they are -- that pushing the envelope here would have significant consequences for Russia's standing in the international system, which I think it already has had consequences for that, and for any future hopes that Russia might have to be fully integrated into the international system.

VERJEE: President Bush is sending Secretary Rice first to France to consult with the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who's been leading on diplomacy, then on to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to meet with close ally, President Mikheil Saakashvili. Noticeably, she's not expected to visit Moscow -- part of a move by the U.S. and its allies to punish and isolate Russia.

U.S. officials say relations are the worst since the cold war. Both presidential candidates have weighed in on the crisis, speaking to leaders on both sides. But are they helping or hurting Rice's efforts?

RICE: They are doing what they can to support the efforts of the administration.


VERJEE: At the press conference, Secretary Rice was asked whether the U.S. could really be an honest broker. She says the U.S. has to call it like it sees it and that because of Russia's actions, the U.S. is squarely on Georgia's side.



KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Zain Verjee for us. Thanks so much.

Alina Cho joins us now with other stories new this morning. Good to see you.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, guys. Good morning to you. Good morning, everybody. And new this morning, a new report coming out in "People" magazine says Elizabeth Edwards considered giving her husband the boot after he confessed to her that he had an affair. A friend of Mrs. Edwards tells the magazine she was furious and felt excruciating anguish, all the while deciding whether to salvage her 30-year marriage or give up.

Mrs. Edwards ultimately stayed and campaigned for him even after learning her breast cancer was terminal. John Edwards admitted publicly last week to an affair with a woman who was paid to make documentaries for his campaign back in 2006. But he denies being the father of her 5-month-old baby. The National Enquirer which broke the John Edwards story has settled a lawsuit with a woman who accused the tabloid of making up stories about Ted Kennedy fathering her son back in 1984. Caroline Bilodeau- Allen is her name. She had filed a defamation suit claiming two Enquirer articles contained false and sensationalized reporting and out right fabrications. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

And new startling projections this morning show that whites will no longer be a majority in the United States by the year 2042. That's eight years sooner than earlier estimates. The reason, there are many, but the most important being immigration and higher birth rates, especially in the Hispanic population.

Right now, whites make up about two-thirds of the population. But that number will drop to 46 percent by the year 2050. Hispanics alone will make up 30 percent of the population by that year. It's incredible. They'll grow up from 47 million to more than 133 million by mid-century. It's really incredible. More on these numbers at the top of the hour.

ROBERTS: Changing world we live in. Alina, thanks so much for that.

Record gasoline prices forcing Americans off the road. A new report out shows just how much less we're driving. Ali Velshi breaks it all down for us.

CHETRY: The Unabomber Museum.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He also kept some of his bomb making materials in the hole in the ceiling, right?


CHETRY: Carol Costello takes us inside the cabin Ted Kaczynski doesn't want you to see. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back. We were talking about how we're all driving less.



ROBERTS: How much less we're driving?

CHETRY: Oh, we're driving fewer.

VELSHI: We are driving less, and that's one of these things that we've been talking about. Obviously with gas prices, we've been talking about them going up. And we hear from people about how they actually have changed the way they drive whether it's more fuel efficient cars or reorganizing your life so you drive fewer miles. And the government, the transportation department, has now announced for the eighth month in a row we are driving less than we used to.

ROBERTS: How much are we driving?

VELSHI: How much less are we driving? Americans in June drove 12.2 billion miles less or 12.2 billion fewer miles than they did a year ago. And that's a decrease of 4.7 percent. Now, you know, during 1971 to '80, a long period in which there were high gas prices and inflation, we drove less then, too. We drove over that period, almost a decade, we drove 49.3 billion fewer miles than in the comparable previous period.

We are already in this eight-month period down about 54 billion miles. So we have in eight months cut out more driving than we did in an entire decade of lower fuel costs (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTS: But you know, there's still plenty of traffic jams on I-95.

VELSHI: Right. Yes. And part of that is we've cut out more miles because we drive more miles than we used to in the '70s and '80s. But this is having a very specific effect. So, we have seen two very direct effects of high energy cost. One is driving less. And the other one is running away from trucks and SUVs. So, that's, you know -- it's interesting that as we reported, we are actually reporting what people are doing to handle these energy costs.

CHETRY: It is fascinating. There's only seven states now according to AAA that have gas prices over $4 a gallon. Of course, New York's one of them. Alaska is still the most expensive.

VELSHI: Yes. And, I mean, it's 28 days now in a row that we've seen those gas prices come down. $3.78 a gallon is what we're looking for.

ROBERTS: Keep up the good work.

VELSHI: Thank you very much. It's good to be here.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Ali.

39 minutes after the hour. Unabomber Ted Kaczynski has got a message for a federal court. Shut down a new museum showcasing his life. We'll tell you why he wants the doors closed.

Sizing up the candidates.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's now flip-flops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking about flip-flops.


ROBERTS: Jeanne Moos checks out some real political flip-flops.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure McCain would want me to have him on my toes.


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


REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): High gas prices have sent production of alternative fuels, like biodiesel, soaring. Also soaring is the waste left over from the biodiesel production. For every 10 pounds of biodiesel produced, so is a pound of glycerin. Yes, the same stuff found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. And now there is a glut of the stuff.

But researchers at Rice University in Houston have found a way to turn glycerin into another biofuel, ethanol. They can also turn it into an even more valuable chemical like succinate, used in everything from road de-icers to dietary supplements.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is basically the first part of the process.

WOLF: The process ferments the glycerin using a strain of E. coli that doesn't cause disease. And as a side benefit, the process also helps trap the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

RAMON GONZALEZ, RICE UNIVERSITY: It actually grabs CO2 from the atmosphere in the process of converting the glycerin into the chemical product. And definitely that way, we are actually decreasing pollution.

WOLF: The researchers also say this is a more eco-friendly way to make succinate, which is traditionally produced using, you guessed it, oil. Plus, succinate is a multibillion dollar market.

GONZALEZ: If the biodiesel industry were to adopt the knowledge that we have developed, it will completely change the economics of biodiesel production making them economically viable.

WOLF: Mass production could take a while yet, but the process has been licensed to a start-up company, which could have a demonstration plant running within a year.

Reynolds Wolf, CNN.



ROBERTS: 44 minutes after the hour. This morning, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski wants a federal court to shut down a new museum exhibit that recreates the cabin where he made his deadly bombs. CNN's Carol Costello tells us why. CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John and Kiran, this exhibit is at the Newseum and it's meant to educate the public about the relationship between the press and police. But what it's done, it's attracted the attention of the Unabomber.


COSTELLO (voice-over): The Unabomber is not happy. He's written this letter to a U.S. Court of Appeals, complaining about an exhibit that features "my cabin." Yes, that cabin. The one Unabomber Ted Kaczynski built by hand in Montana, where he made the bomb he mailed to victims killing three and injuring 23.

And he also kept some of his bomb-making materials in the hole in the ceiling, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He had things scattered about.

COSTELLO: The cabin, along with an interactive display is part of an exhibit called G-men and journalists at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum. The items are on loan from the FBI.

Kaczynski, long kept in solitary confinement, found out about the exhibit from the Newseum's ad in the "Washington Post." The ad asked what led the "Unabomber" to target universities, airlines and computer stores. Was it a deadly case of cabin fever?

Kaczynski didn't address that in his letter. Instead, he complained "government is responsible for the public exhibition of the cabin. This has obvious relevance to the victims' objection to publicity connected with the Unabom case. I don't think I need to say anything further. The court can draw its own conclusions.

GARY WRIGHT, UNABOMBER VICTIM: It is a strange statement in that I think that he is trying to say that for some reason he has feelings for the victims. But for so many years, I don't think he really did.

COSTELLO: Gary Wright is one of Kaczynski's victims, injured in 1987 when he picked up a package outside of his computer shop. It exploded, hitting him with hundreds of nails and wood slivers. He dismisses Kaczynski's alleged concern. He made his peace with what happened at Kaczynski's sentencing hearing years ago.

WRIGHT: I actually told him, look, I don't hate you. I forgave you a long time ago because if I hadn't I just would have been kindling to your cause and I don't know exactly what that was. And when that happened, he dropped his pencil and we just locked gaze. It's something that I'll always remember.


COSTELLO: Now, Wright does say any money made from the exhibit should go back to the victims. The Newseum hasn't talked to any of the victims but says the exhibit is not a memorial to the victims or, of course, to the Unabomber himself, but a way for people to understand the relationship between the press and police. John?


ROBERTS: Green gadgets.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to flip this switch. Drop down the e- wheel. Now we're driving on pure electric.


ROBERTS: Deborah Feyerick hitches a ride with the man who's finding new ways to tap the sun's power.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 74 degrees, climbing quickly. 75, 77, 79.


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


ROBERTS: Well, the term flip-flop may apply to fish. But when you apply it to politics, it's often fighting words.

CHETRY: That's right. But as CNN's Jeanne Moos reports, it doesn't have to be a candidate's Achilles' heel.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Off were the days when fish were what flip-flopped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's now flip-flops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking about flip-flops.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Flip-floppers are all over the world.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The only person who's flip-flopped on this issue is John McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain has flip-flopped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the ultimate flip-flop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worse than a flip-flopper.

MOOS: No. This is worse than a flip-flopper. It's the Obama flop and the McCain flop, the latest in political footwear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where would I wear them? Where I'm going to shower.

MOOS: Nine of your favorite or least favorite candidates' heads on a flip-flop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like you're stepping on the candidate that you are for, though.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure McCain would want me to have him on my toes.

MOOS: The once lowly flip-flop has been upgraded in recent years with everything from a hidden flask to (INAUDIBLE) to a bottle opener. Flip flopped peaked is a political weapon when Republicans shook them to try to stigmatize John Kerry. In this campaign --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Barack Obama flip-flops.

MOOS: Flip-flops have been drilled into us. The time was right for politicizing right and left feet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many products do you know that instantly make you smile when you wear them?

MOOS: That's creator Linda Span. She patented the one piece mold that's featured everything from grapes to footballs, and now heads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can squeeze the head. They're light. They're hollow. And they look so real.

MOOS: Don't tell the candidates their heads are hollow.

(on camera): Voting is already under way on the hot flops Web site. You can vote with your feet. But who's winning so far? Obama is leading in sales, two to one, which is fitting since he's the guy who seems to wear flip-flops. But is wearing these flip-flops an insult or a compliment? Listen to the president of Hotflops and their creator flip-flopping.

VOICE OF SEAN JACKSON, HOTFLOPS CEO: Are they supporting him or are they saying he's flip-flopping on some issues?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I think everybody -- you wear these because you support your candidate.

MOOS: Or you could mix and match.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, very bipartisan, so is the line.

MOOS: Online is where you can buy them for 30 bucks a pair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't pay $30, $9.95.

MOOS: Or better yet, try to get them free by modelling for a news crew desperate for footage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're not going to get fired, we're going to keep them.

MOOS: Go ahead. All hail to feet. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: Frustration. A fierce critic of the Bush administration winds up on a government watch list. Coincidence?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I someone's political enemy or do I live in a country where the government is just utterly and completely incompetent?


CHETRY: And just how old are they? Did China's gymnastics cheat their way to Olympic gold?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They do look like they are far from being 16.




CHETRY: Political payback.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little disturbing.


CHETRY: He's an author critical of President Bush. He's also on the no fly list.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traveling became very, very complicated.


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

ROBERTS: And checking our top stories right now on Most popular? Out house races at the Iowa state fair. More than just pushing an out house, though. Competitors also had to complete tasks including putting a roll of toilet paper on a holder.

Also, a close call between a bus and a train in Minneapolis from iReporter Joel Carlson. The bus stopped just short of the train but you can see that the crossing arm came down in the middle of the bus. And Murphy the gnome travels around the world. The garden gnome you'll remember was taken by a student seven months ago, finally returned to its rightful owner with an album full of photographs of the 12 countries that Murphy visited. Those are the most popular videos on this morning.

CHETRY: Well, the price of oil up more than $1 this morning. It's a $117 a barrel. A lot of people these days are going back to basics trying to cut back on their energy use to save money.

Our Deb Feyerick joins us now with a story of one man who's been leaving by the light of the sun for a long time.

Hi, Deb. Good to see you this morning.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Kiran. Well, you know, it's fashionable these days to live green. But here's a man who's been doing it for decades. And he's got some really pretty interesting things to show for it.


MIKE DABROWSKI, SOLAR INVENTOR: Everything's solar, yes. It's all charge by the sun.

FEYERICK: Mike Dabrowski has been playing with the sun for 30 years.


FEYERICK: So that's the raw energy?

DABROWSKI: That's the raw energy that we stored over five minutes from this much sunlight.

FEYERICK: The inventor who has worked fixing TVs, stereos, and super tankers uses solar energy for things like cooking.

DABROWSKI: 74 degrees. Climbing quickly. 75, 77, 79.

FEYERICK: And charging his hybrid. Look closely at his souped-up Honda insight and you'll see it's no ordinary hybrid.

DABROWSKI: There's one here and then three down here.

FEYERICK: He changed it in a major way by hacking into the car's computer and making it so the driver, not the car, decide whether to operate on gas or electric.

DABROWSKI: I can shift whether I'm generating power or I'm taking power out of the batteries.

FEYERICK: So, you are the one who is deciding how this car is running.


FEYERICK: Extra batteries fuel electric power longer. And a fifth wheel propels the car when the gas is off.

DABROWSKI: I'm going to flip this witch. Drop down to E-wheel. So, now we're driving on pure electric, which was stored in that battery yesterday from the sunlight from that solar panel.

FEYERICK: So far he's installed or sold his system to nearly 60 people, though he is yet to make any real money.

What is it you most want to create and leave behind?

DABROWSKI: A sustainable way of life for all of us. I really want to just help everybody. I mean, I'm -- I'm almost retired now. I'm 62 years old. And if I can -- I don't have any children. So if I can leave something in this earth, you know, some ideas or just the way of thinking, maybe, I've done my part. I've left something positive on the planet.


FEYERICK: Now Dabrowski says his car can run about 35 miles on a day's worth of sunlight. And by the way, that solar cooking that you saw on a sunny day takes about 30 seconds to cook a hot dog and about 20 minutes, he says, for a full-sized turkey. And he shows people actually how to build a smaller version of that big satellite cooker on his Web site.


CHETRY: It really is fascinating. I mean, he's obviously been able to do things that we can't do, hack into our cars' computers. But has he been approached or is there any possibility that any of this could go commercial, what he's doing?

FEYERICK: He shows this at different car fairs. And people have come up to him. They're very interested in him. What's so fascinating is that he really uses ordinary things that you can find or buy that you may even have around the house. So, yes, there's definitely been some interest.

CHETRY: It is fascinating. Aren't they offering $300 million or that's one of the proposals out there by the candidates to invent a workable battery? Maybe he could do it.

FEYERICK: Well, you never know. Exactly. Why not? I mean, he's certainly got the spirit to do it.

CHETRY: That's wonderful.

FEYERICK: Deb, thanks for bringing us that story.

ROBERTS: It's now a couple of minutes to the top of the hour. And here are this morning's top stories. Breaking this morning. Russia pulling back troops from the Georgian City of Gori overnight. Now several Russian tanks have moved into the city. But Georgian officials tell CNN it's only to help with the withdrawal. Russia's foreign minister today suggested that the two regions at the center of the conflict, South Ossetia and Abkhazia may never be convinced to return to Georgian rule.

Colin Powell, President Bush's former secretary of state, denying speculation that he is on the verge of endorsing Barack Obama. Powell telling ABC News that he is not going to the Democrats' convention in Denver. Sources tell CNN that Powell has not made up his mind about who he's going to endorse.

And Cindy McCain in a sling. The wife of presidential candidate John McCain was taken to the hospital yesterday after an enthusiastic fan shook her hand a little too hard at a fund-raiser. The handshake aggravated an old carpal tunnel syndrome condition that she had surgery for previously.

New this morning, the face of America is changing. And a lot sooner than originally predicted. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in just 34 years Americans who identify themselves as a minority will together form the majority. CNN's Alina Cho is here now with that story.

Good morning, Alina.

CHO: John, good morning to you. This census report came out at midnight. And the surprising projection is that by the year 2042, that's eight years sooner than earlier estimates, minorities will become the majority. And eight years after that, by 2050, minorities are expected to make up 54 percent of the population.

Now, this is most evident in the Hispanic population which will nearly triple from nearly 47 million right now to nearly 133 million by the year 2050, making up 30 percent of the population versus 15 today. Now, the Asian population will rise from about five to nine percent of the total.