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Arlene Approaches Gulf Coast; Mad Cow Concerns; Confession in Natalee Holloway Case

Aired June 11, 2005 - 07:30   ET


ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: Pictures from Pensacola, Florida. Tropical Storm Arlene moving closer to the Gulf Coast. Welcome back. I'm Rob Marciano. Tony Harris has the day off.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: On vacation, hopefully he's not heading down to Pensacola or where Arlene is expected to hit sometime today. And I'm Betty Nguyen. We'll bring you the latest on Tropical Storm Arlene in just a minute but first, here's a look at the morning headlines.

In Aruba, CNN has learned that a suspect has confessed to killing Natalee Holloway. Three men, two brothers and a Dutch student, were arrested Thursday. Witnesses say they were the last to see Holloway alive.

And meeting in London, the Group of Eight richest nations moves closer to a deal to lift Africa out of poverty. But the G8 finance ministers are still wrangling over how countries qualify for debt relief.

And it is now five days and counting and still no verdict in the Michael Jackson trial. The panel has actually deliberated only 28 hours in those five days. The jury reconvenes Monday after taking the weekend off.

MARCIANO: It is a tropical storm but a hurricane warning has been issued for parts of the northern Gulf Coast. Tropical Storm Arlene has sustained winds now of 70 miles an hour. Seventy-four miles per hour or better would make it a hurricane, so we are close. Residents of three low lying areas in the Florida panhandle are being encouraged to evacuate. I think Pensacola is one of those, so it is getting stronger and it is heading right where Ivan was last year.

NGUYEN: They've been down the road before and it's not something they want to see, especially when so many people are still recovering from all the hurricanes of last year, and this morning, we have meteorologist Bonnie Schneider, new to the staff, and what a day to come on board, Bonnie. Good morning.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. That's right. We are still watching Tropical Storm Arlene, likely to become a hurricane before it makes land fall around 2:00 p.m. today just west of Mobile Bay.

If you take a look at the satellite perspective you'll see it's become a little bit more loosely organized but still packing a powerful punch with winds up to 70 miles per hour. So this is one strong hurricane, strong tropical storm as we take a look at what's been going on.

So let's take a look at the latest coordinates for you. You'll find the sustained winds are at 70 miles per hour, gusting to 85, so some really strong winds associated with the system. Pressure is very low, 143 miles south-southeast of Pensacola, Florida. And that's the area pounded now with some very, very heavy rain.

Now, as the tropical storm works the way to the north, look what happens. Tropical Storm Arlene becomes Hurricane Arlene just before it makes landfall around 2:00 p.m. today. Eventually it will be a tropical depression but we still have to get through today, first. Again, landfall at 2:00 p.m. Betty, Rob?

NGUYEN: Thank you, Bonnie.

MARCIANO: Used to work with Bonnie back in Lake Charles, Louisiana. That's hurricane country.

NGUYEN: Oh, so you guys go back?

MARCIANO: Yeah. We do.

NGUYEN: I'll have to get some stories from you, Bonnie, on Rob over here.

MARCIANO: Not necessary. We'll see you in a little bit. Bye- bye. Thanks very much.

Now as Bonnie mentioned, Tropical Storm Arlene could develop into a weak hurricane by the time it hits land along the Gulf Coast. The Pensacola area is Florida's panhandle, in it, is recovering still from Hurricane Ivan just nine months ago. Susan Candiotti visited one family still putting things back together.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just can't se, you know, taking that chance with a -- our lives again.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Debbie Marshburn and her husband Ronnie don't expect Arlene to come even remotely close to what they experienced during Hurricane Ivan.

RONNIE MARSHBURN, HURRICANE IVAN SURVIVOR: I never have paid attention to a storm surge or flooding. They argued, you know, about it being a flood in here but this was a storm surge, it came in from the Gulf of Mexico and brought all this water in. And that's only thing that's got me worried about it.

CANDIOTTI: Want an idea of Ivan was like for the Marshburns?

DEBBIE MARSHBURN, HURRICANE IVAN SURVIVOR: When we opened the front door it was up around here. And that log came rushing in here and the water was running like a river down the street. CANDIOTTI: Their family, including a one-year-old grandson, had to hide in the attic as the water rose chest high in the house.

D. MARSHBURN: My little grandson was sitting on these stairs.

Then we all went up in the attic and we stayed there until the waters -- until the eye of the storm came around and the wind shifted. And then the waters just slowly started receding. It was just like taking the bathtub plug out.

CANDIOTTI: Their home is only about 150 yards from the water and Ivan's storm surge dealt a punishing blow.

D. MARSHBURN: From the other side of the pool enclosure, we had someone's whole dock that was washed up completely in there.

CANDIOTTI: The storm hit last September. The Marshburns moved back home only one month ago. Things are slowly returning to normal.

D. MARSHBURN: The counter tops came up to right around here and the water just got over both countertops.

CANDIOTTI: The Marshburns aren't the only ones cleaning up. 10,000 homes are still reportedly in need of repair. They might stay a while longer than Pensacola will be just a memory.

R. MARSHBURN: I'm going to retire in a year and a half and I'm hoping that we can make it to make it to then and past that and possibly get a good market price on the home and move then.

CANDIOTTI: Surviving Ivan taught Debbie an invaluable lesson.

D. MARSHBURN: If you can come out of it and know that you can make it in life without that stuff. Then I think you have come out it successful. We realized that that stuff that we put out by the road when we leave this earth, we are not taking it with us.

CANDIOTTI: Susan Candiotti, CNN, Pensacola, Florida.


NGUYEN: All right. From weather woes to concerns about food safety. The U.S. is conducting more detailed testing after they found mad cow disease in a sample from one of three cows. However, the Department of Agriculture is not issuing a new health risk. So for more, let's turn to now to CNN medical correspondent Christy Feig who joins us by phone from Washington. So, these mad cows or the fact they found this in some of the cows, three cows, do we think this may be in the food system?

CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): No. This is definitely not food system. The government is very sure about that. Because this is an older beef cow, and it was what they call a downer cow, meaning it couldn't walk and meat from downer cows is not used in the human food supply. You raised an interesting point there and that's why the government stresses that the new cow isn't a threat to consumers. Because people can only get the disease by eating infected spinal cord tissue or brain, and again, they stress this cow did not get into the food supply.

NGUYEN: All right. Was it around cows that may have also gotten the disease and therefore they possibly be in the food or dairy system?

FEIG: Well, the government is pretty certain about their screening plan there. They check and check and they keep a close eye on some of these cows and they are very specific about which ones they screen. Any cow that's a downer cow, meaning they can't walk, is a red flag for them to test because that is one of the textbook symptoms of mad cow disease.

They feel certain they're pretty sure that there's none of these getting into the food supply but there are consumer advocates out there that say they're just not doing enough and the fact that this cow was first tested back in November, tested positive with the rapid test. Retested with sophisticated technology, tested negative and then for some reason, the USDA inspector general asked that this cow and two others be retested and those other two came out negative, this one tested positive again, so, remember, going back to November, consumer advocates say that shows there's not enough of a safety net here.

NGUYEN: All right, Christy, one more question and very quickly, do we know how the cow contracted mad cow disease?

FEIG: No, we don't. We don't know where it's from, we don't know where this cow was slaughtered. You will remember back in the December 2003 case, that was the first case we had of mad cow disease in the U.S., that cow came from Canada. It was a dairy cow, not a beef cow. It came in with 80 other cows and never found all the animals that were with that cow. So it is really hard to trace some of the cows in the country because they move around a lot between ranches.

NGUYEN: CNN's medical correspondent Christy Feig, thank you for that update.

MARCIANO: Time now far check on the other stories making news around the world.

NGUYEN: A flooding disaster is what we're going to be talking about in China and now some American contractors are complaining about prisoner abuse in Iraq. So a lot on the table today.

For those details, let's go to the Anand Naidoo at the CNN International desk. Good morning, Aman.

ANAND NAIDOO, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hey, good morning. Thanks. Yes. Dozens of children killed in that flooding in China. We will have more on that in a moment.

But first to Iraq. A suicide bomber managed to penetrate Iraqi police headquarters and blew himself up. Three police commanders were killed, 17 other wounded.

In another incident in northwestern Baghdad, a car bombing killed 10 Iraqi civilians and injured 27 others and we're hearing that police also found three bodies in south Baghdad, all shot. Eight U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq yesterday. That brings the total number of U.S. forces killed this month to 30.

Staying in Iraq and there have been allegations of prisoner abuse but this time, the allegations are coming from American contract workers. Several contractors were detained for three days after allegedly firing on civilians and American troops in Fallujah. Now one of them, an ex-marine, says they were heckled, humiliated and physically abused by U.S. marines at Camp Fallujah. The military has denied those allegations and no charges have been laid against any of those contract workers.

Now to China, at least 62 children have been killed in a flash flood in northeast China. The Xinhua News Agency says the flood slammed into a school. 24 hours others, including 17 students were injured and an unknown number of people have also been reported missing in those flash floods. Rescue workers are looking for them. Summer flooding in China has caused hundreds of deaths and landslides in that part of the area.

That's all for me. I'll be back with more later.

NGUYEN: Yeah. The monsoons can cause a lot of problems there. Thank you, Anand.

Well, there is no verdict in the Michael Jackson trial. But the pop star did decide to shake up his staff. We have those details ahead.

MARCIANO: And her name is Arlene. First tropical storm of the season. Could become a hurricane before making land fall in places, well that just saw Ivan a few months. WTIV our affiliate. We'll be right back.


NGUYEN: Well if you watched around this time last year you know what that sound means. Hurricane season in effect. Already started. We have got Tropical Storm Arlene headed toward the Gulf Coast and inland around two today, is that ...

MARCIANO: 2:00 or so. It's the 11th of June, I think, and we're already ...

NGUYEN: Already. Early.

MARCIANO: Ten or 11 days into hurricane season and we already have a tropical storm. Our newest member of the CNN weather team.

NGUYEN: Bonnie Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: Good morning. And you're right. It is very early in the season. Last year, we didn't have Alex develop until early August. So it's an early start to what looks like a very active year, 2005.

Let's take a look at the satellite perspective. Well we still are dealing with Arlene, certainly hasn't made landfall just yet, but that doesn't mean the effects of Arlene aren't being felt, from teeming rain, heavy downpours, even some expired tornado watches down in south Florida.

So it's been a really active day down in Florida. Unfortunately.

Let's take a quick look at Tropical Storm Arlene. We have a new advisory posted for 8:00. Not much of a change. The winds are still at 70 miles per hour. The gusts up to 85. And watch what happens as we work our way into the early afternoon hours, mid afternoon. Tropical Storm Arlene gains strength just before it comes onshore and that's when it's likely to become Hurricane Arlene. Landfall expected west of Mobile Bay around 2:00 p.m. Rob, Bettie?

NGUYEN: Thank you, Bonnie.

MARCIANO: Thanks, Bonnie. Checking our top stories this morning, a new development in the case of Natalee Holloway, the American teen who went missing in Aruba nearly two weeks ago. A police source says a suspect confessed to the killing. The suspect is one of three young men last seen with Holloway at a nightclub.

And Tropical Storm Arlene is expected to grow to a hurricane today. Arlene is heading for the north central Gulf Coast and should make land fall this afternoon.

And U.S. officials looking into a possible case of mad cow disease. The first test on one cow came back positive. Another came back negative so they're going to send samples over to Britain for more testing. None of the cow was in the food chain. That's good news.

And a slightly different casualty of war. Our CNN extra takes a look at what U.S. military deployments overseas are doing a number of military families, coming up in a couple of minutes.

NGUYEN: Well, there is no verdict yet in the Michael Jackson trial, but in another development, Jackson's Web site carried an announcement that he had fired spokeswoman Raymone Bain. Now, it said, "MJJ Productions regretfully announces the termination of Raymone Bain and Davis, Bain and Associates. We thank you for your services."

Earlier in the week, as you recall, Jackson's lead attorney issued a court-approved statement saying he had not authorized anyone to hold news conferences on Jackson's behalf. It did not specifically mention Bain but appeared to be an attempt to assure the court that his team did not violate a gag order.

MARCIANO: Speaking of teams, the Boston Red Sox are the world champions. You have heard of the curse, haven't you? NGUYEN: I have heard of the curse.

MARCIANO: Well the curse has been broken. It's the curse of the Bambino. But that didn't stop one Babe Ruth fan. How much did he fork over for the contract that sold Ruth to the New York Yankees back in 1919?

NGUYEN: Ooh. Anyone want to take a guess?

MARCIANO: We are going to have the answer.

NGUYEN: Might be surprised.

MARCIANO: Yeah. It's coming up. Stay with us.

NGUYEN: First, though, a CNN extra. Going by the numbers, war is hell on a soldier's marriage. Statistics released by the U.S. Army shows the divorce rate among officers went up 44 percent from 2003 to 2004. There was a 22 percent spike for enlisted personnel.

But the army is rising to the challenge. It has several counseling programs in place to help soldiers recognize signs of depression and deal with family issues that come up during deployment.


MARCIANO: Well, the Babe has been sold once again. The Red Sox contract that sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees fetched nearly a million dollars at auction.

NGUYEN: Pretty penny for that.

MARCIANO: I wouldn't pay a dime. The 19 - well, I'm still sore after last year.

NGUYEN: You are very salty about that, Rob.

MARCIANO: The 1919 five-page contract altered baseball history. The Red Sox fans had cursed a deal for 86 years of post season futility. That is, until last fall when they finally won the World Series. Congratulations.

NGUYEN: The curse was broken.

MARCIANO: All right. If you like a game of chance, well, you will love what you will find on this morning and our Veronica de la Cruz is here to talk about it. Are we talking wagering here, gambling?


NGUYEN: A little bit.

DE LA CRUZ: Do you play poker?

NGUYEN: I'm not very good at poker but I want to learn to play Texas hold 'em. I hear that's a hot game.

DE LA CRUZ: I do, too. It is, it is.

Well, listen, Betty, we are going to learn but if you are itching to press your luck at poker, forget Vegas, because your next hand might be online. invites you to log on for the latest in Internet gambling.


DE LA CRUZ (voice-over): With poker's popularity booming, Web sites are cashing in. The sites make the money through tournaments and ring games. Most tournaments have an entry fee while ring games are raked, meaning a fixed percentage of the pot is taken out. According to tracking service, players pour nearly $200 million a day into online ring game pots. With a potential for huge profits, making sure no one cheats is a major concern. At Party Poker, the industry's largest site, more than 50 investigators monitor for suspicious activities.

Aside from the Internet, poker clubs are popping up across college campuses like the Penn Poker Club at the university of Pennsylvania which receives an average of $1,000 every semester from their student activities council.

(on camera): And for more on the game's popularity, you can log on to and what do you say? All girls' poker night? Forget the guys.


NGUYEN: Let's do it. It's about bluffing, though. And I have got to get better at that. It's a game of bluffers. And I am going to learn. All right. Thank you.

MARCIANO: Let's get a table right here.

NGUYEN: Right here.

DE LA CRUZ: Girl's poker night, Rob, sorry.

NGUYEN: He may be invited.

MARCIANO: I'm always being left out.

NGUYEN: Bring your wig.

MARCIANO: And a cigar. All right. Let them eat cake. They're not even married yet. So why are these brides diving into the dessert? We're saying, "Wow." It's one of our "Wows of the Week," and it's coming up when CNN SATURDAY MORNING returns.


NGUYEN: In this week's look at our "Wows of the Week," she stalks the streets of New York with a fear or phobia, for nothing will stop "Bridezilla." That's right. Tuesday, in Times Square, oh my gosh, look at this. This scare you or what? Nineteen determined brides to be donned wedding dresses and ripped apart this wedding cake looking for a ring box worth $50,000.

All right. I can understand. Yeah. I might be out there, too. But fear not. It was all part of a stunt to hype the new TV show "Bridezilla" on the Women's Entertainment Network.

Now to Los Angelesa, a story of cops and robbers. The bad guy, a man suspected of kidnapping. The victim, a woman taken at gunpoint. The solution, a high speed chase that ended with cops shooting a man and police dogs dragging him out.

The man was treated at a hospital. There it is. The dog dragging the man out. The kidnapping victim escaped unharmed. That was a serious "Wow of the Week."

And to Brazil. Tales from the crypt. Scientists unveil 11 skeletons of prehistoric crocodiles. They say the bones suggest an ancient land bridge that may have gone through Australia and could have linked South America to Indo-Pakistan. The bones are believed to be from a species that lived some 90 million years ago. It's amazing what they can find.

MARCIANO: That's cool.

NGUYEN: And put it all back together again.

MARCIANO: I don't know how they do that.

Putting it all together, or newest member of the CNN weather team is meteorologist Bonnie Schneider, she is up there in the weather center with the latest on Tropical Storm Arlene. What's happening?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Rob and Betty, we are still watching teeming downpours of rain over the panhandle of Florida. Already, we have between two and three inches of rain on the ground. Five to eight inches expected before the storm is over so look at this now. We have got these downpours coming in. It is already coming down in Mobile but it's going to be coming heavy and hard over the next course of the next few hours as the storm system works its way to the north.

It's still a tropical storm and we're seeing some of the outer bands of the system bring heavy rain to South Florida, as well, from Tampa all the way down to Sarasota and into the Florida Keys.

I'll keep you updated in the track of Tropical Storm Arlene throughout the morning, so stay tuned.


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