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CNN LIVE TODAY

Federal Government Demand Vehicle Improved Mileage; Gas Prices Affect Mr. Softee Drivers; Draft Constitution Handed To National Assembly In Iraq; U.S. Officials Hailing Iraq Draft Deadline; Israel Makes Forced Evictions in Sanur

Aired August 23, 2005 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Here to take it away and provide all the news you need for the remaining few hours.
Daryn, hello.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I am here for you.

MILES O'BRIEN: Thanks.

KAGAN: You guys have a great day. We'll go ahead and get started. Let's do that by taking a look at what's happening "Now in the News."

Israeli troops forcibly remove protesters from one of two West Bank settlements today. Thousands of security forces stormed the two remaining settlements in Israel's disengagement plan. The evictions have been completed in one of the two settlements. The second is expected to be cleared shortly.

Jordan says it has arrested a prime suspect in Friday's attack on two U.S. warships. But officials in Amman say that three other suspects have escaped into Iraq. Rockets fired from a warehouse in the port city of Aqaba missed the two U.S. ships but killed a Jordanian soldier. Al Qaeda in Iraq today issued a claim for responsibility for the attack.

And the U.S. military is reporting two more American deaths in Iraq. A roadside bomb killed a Marine on combat operations near Fallujah. And a soldier was killed in a rocket attack in Southern Baghdad. Both killings came Monday. Since the start of the war, 1,869 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.

I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. Good morning.

Our lead story is as close as your corner gas station and as personal as your back pocket. Gas prices. Before we tell you about this new initiative launched within the past hour, let's offer upper a bit of perspective. According to AAA, today's national average for unleaded self-serve regular, $2.61 a gallon. That is 32 cents more a gallon than just a month ago.

And buckle up for this one. Compared to a year ago, that's an increase of 73 cents a gallon. So as gas prices are surging and oil supplies dwindle, the federal government is demanding an overhaul of fuel economy standards. It's a plan that would force the nation's bigger vehicles to get better mileage. Our National Correspondent Gary Tuchman is here in Atlanta where the announcement was just made last hour.

Gary, good morning.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, good morning to you.

We're standing in front of the corridor of chaos here in Atlanta. This is the downtown connecter where Interstate 75 and 85 merge. This was the background for the Bush administration announcement today. The Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta announcing that by the year 2011 the Bush administration fully expects the car manufacturers will increase the gas mileage on their big vehicles, their SUVs, their minivans and their light trucks, by a little more than 10 percent. His announcement was just made here a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORMAN MINETA, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Consumers are confronting rising costs with every trip to the pump. Now, while the American economy remains strong, with the price of gas in many parts of the country approaching $3 a gallon, the cost of filling up is hitting many family budgets very hard. That is why I'm here today to announce a new plan that will improve gas mileage for over half of the vehicles sold in America and save drivers as much as 10 billion gallons of gas once these regulations are implemented.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Now one thing to keep in mind, we are talking about 23.3 miles per gallon by the year 2011 as opposed to the average right now, the mandatory average of 21 miles per gallon. It doesn't sound that extreme. A lot of environmentalists say a lot more should have been done and it should have been done earlier. But the Bush administration says it's been working on this for at least a year and they say the announcement coming right now in the middle of this crisis with the prices plunging upward is just a coincidence.

We do want to tell you one interesting facet of this. Right now the mandatory rules that the government has on the manufacturers include the fact that cars that weigh more, minivans that weigh more, can have lower gas mileage. That will go by the boards (ph) right now. And the reason it will go by the boards (ph) is they feel that manufacturers will want to build heavier cars who have lower gas mileage. So what they will do is they will have the width of the wheel base as the protocol. The width of the wheel base, not the weight of the car.

One thing we do want to tell you, (INAUDIBLE) alert public relations person sent me an e-mail saying, hey, forget having a minivan, forget having an SUV, buy a scooter. Scooter's get between 60 and 100 miles per gallon. Scooter sales are hot. And that's a good point. Of course, snowing, or if you have family, if you have luggage, you my need those minivans or those SUVs and today the announcement that 23.3 will be the mandatory number, the average number, by the year 2011.

Daryn.

KAGAN: Yes, I was just thinking the three Tuchman kids aren't getting to school on the back of a scooter. That's not going to happen.

Gary, thank you.

U.S. motorists say that their anger is climbing as gas prices climb. According to an ABC News Poll, 44 percent of all people responding say they're angry about the price of gas. Let's break it down here. Women are generally more upset than men. Democrats more than Republicans.

But are those prices affecting more than blood pressure? Half say they are driving the same amount anyway. Fewer than a third say they're driving less.

And looking ahead, if prices reach $3 a gallon and stay there, 63 percent say they will cut back on their driving. About a third say they still will drive the same amount.

Rising fuel costs affect just about everyone. Our Chris Huntington reports on how they're hurting a summertime tradition.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): It may just look like sprinkles and swirls to you, but selling soft ice cream from a truck is one tough business. If you scream at the prices you're paying at the pump, imagine how this guy feels.

DOC GUISHARD, MR. SOFTEE DISTRIBUTOR: Oh, we're finished with the gas on this side. We're going to go for diesel. All right. Have a good one.

HUNTINGTON: Doc Guishard is a distributor for Mr. Softee ice cream in Brooklyn, New York. His business and the livelihood of the vendors who work with him depend on fuel. Their custom-built trucks run on gasoline and each carries a heavy-duty, diesel-power generator to run the freezers, ice cream dispensers and air conditioning. The heavy trucks getter terrible gas mileage in stop and go city driving and those generators run constantly. The trucks need to fill up every other day with 40 gallons of gas and up to 22 gallons of diesel.

GUISHARD: $60 on pump 11.

HUNTINGTON: At New York City prices, that's a killer.

GUISHARD: The guys can't go out and make the kind of profit that they are accustomed to making. And so there are a lot of complaints. And, you know, they are looking for alternative. Hopefully we can keep them here.

HUNTINGTON: Even with gas and diesel prices up by 40 to 50 percent this year, Mr. Softee is holding firm on prices. Venders like Sam here are essentially eating the cost of higher fuel so their customers don't have to.

The venders are, in effect, small businessmen. They own their own trucks, pay for the ingredients and operating expenses and pocket the profits. Jim Conway, co-owner of Mr. Softee, says higher fuel prices hit them hard.

JIM CONWAY, CO-OWNER, MR. SOFTEE: If you're a small mom and pop business, which our people are, that translates into maybe $2,000 or $3,000 more per year. And that money becomes significant. That money could just as well have gone to pay for your health insurance or a child's college tuition and instead it's going to Exxon and Saudi Arabia.

HUNTINGTON: And as if the high cost of fuel weren't enough of a problem, there is political pressure brewing in New York to muffle the distinctive Mr. Softee theme music.

GUISHARD: Without the music, we're out of business.

HUNTINGTON: But for now, Mr. Softee's speakers are blaring. And despite the pain at the pumps, the generators are cranking and so is the soft ice cream, doing what it does best, making little customers happy.

Chris Huntington, CNN, Brooklyn, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: For more on the nation's gas pains, you can log on to our Web site. You'll find information on hybrid cars and a guide to gas and oil prices around the U.S. Just log on to cnnmoney.com/gas.

All right, moving on. More than 10 percent of U.S. oil imports come from Venezuela. Its leader has threatened to stop that flow claiming the U.S. is trying to assassinate him. And now a Christian broadcaster is calling on the U.S. to do exactly that. Pat Robertson says the time has come to, "take out Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTER: He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy and he's going to make that a launching pad for communists infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent. You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and this is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Robertson has made controversial comments in the past. Earlier this year, he suggested that activists judges were more of a threat to America than terrorists are.

Coming up in the next hour, we'll talk more about Hugo Chavez and his relationship with Cuban Leader Fidel Castro.

Iraqi leaders are facing yet another deadline for their new constitution. Lawmakers have now until Thursday to iron out differences in the draft document that was presented last night. Critics are warning consensus is still very far off. Let's go live now to CNN's Aneesh Raman in Baghdad with the latest developments.

Aneesh.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, good morning.

A divide is deepening here in Iraq between the Shia/Kurd coalition that last night submitted a draft constitution to the national assembly that does include the tenets of federalism and the Sunni/Arab minority who do not want federalism in this draft document. They want the entire conversation sidelined until a new government comes into power at the end of the year.

They met the technical deadline last night. They have given themselves three more days to try and bridge that divide. It seems hugely unlikely, Daryn, though, that they will find the wording to do that.

Instead, all expectations that a draft document will go forward, that the Sunnis will not support, that they will call illegitimate and using that they will try and mobilize their population in three provinces to reject this constitution and the referendum to come this fall. They have the power to do that. They have said they will attempt to do exactly that which would cripple this government, dissolve the current national assembly and start this process all over again. Battle lines, Daryn, being drawn now as this debate essentially will head now to the Iraqi public for them to decide whether they want federalism or whether they do not.

Daryn.

KAGAN: It sounds like the Sunnis are trying to have it both ways. They don't participate in the elections, they don't have then proper representation in the national assembly and then they complain about not being included.

RAMAN: Well, they didn't show up before but they will undoubtedly show up from now on. And that is why they are of political import. Of course, in January, they didn't vote. They boycotted the elections. Other Sunnis said the security wasn't there for them to participate.

But they have the political clout both to reject this in a constitutional referendum, which is its own political power, but all expectations are that they will turn out in large numbers in the constitutional referendum but also in the later elections come mid December. And also, Daryn, the insurgency here, according to government estimates, is largely fueled by Sunni domestic insurgents. And so to get that violence curbed, it is seen as essential to bring Sunni politicians into the political fray. That is what is at risk now with this alienation that is being the road that is now being gone down by the Iraqi government.

Daryn.

KAGAN: Aneesh Raman live from Baghdad.

Aneesh, thank you.

U.S. officials are hailing Iraqis for meeting yesterday's draft deadline. Delays in writing Iraq's constitution have weighed heavily on the Bush administration. That is due to growing criticism here at home. Our Bob Franken is at the White House this morning with more on that.

Bob, good morning.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Is there an expression hopefully hailing? Because that's exactly what they're doing. They are very mindful here not only of the huge differences that remain but the huge stakes involved if this process doesn't work. And the administration will not have a rational for pulling out of Iraq, which is becoming more and more an imperative it seems, at least in the minds of many in the administration and certainly with without.

So the administration is putting its best face forward. And that was in the face of Dan Bartlett this morning, made a round of the network talk shows, including CNN, and discussed questions about whether it's even really a good idea to have a deadline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: This is critical to build confidence with the Iraqi people. If you don't have a deadline, then it can just slip and slide and you can have excuses for not getting it done. So we know issues. More importantly, there Iraqis know the issues that have to be reconciled. They're going to use this time wisely to try to reconcile the differences and gain as much consensus as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: But just remember, Daryn, in the world of diplomacy, deadlines are not.

Daryn.

KAGAN: All right. As it would appear in Iraq right now. Bob Franken at the White House.

Bob, thank you.

Well, the president has been doing a lot of cycling lately. Coming up a little bit later, I'm going to talk with one man who has peddled with the president in recent weeks. Find out what he has to say about Mr. Bush's biking abilities.

Pus this. Israeli settlers and protesters hang on tight to the last settlement in the West Bank. We'll take you there live.

Plus, cameras there but the technology wasn't working. How faulty cameras are a hindrance in the London shooting investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Folks are cleaning up in Charleston, South Carolina, today. Some wicked summer weather rolling through that area yesterday unleashing strong winds and torrential rains. Some trees were downed and neighborhoods reported minor damage.

One of the prettiest parts of our country, Jacqui.

(WEATHER REPORT)

KAGAN: Student pilot takes on mother nature and comes out without a scratch. That amazing story is coming up.

And later, good country cooking may have landed one southern state on the fat end of the scale. Which state has the most obese population? The answer is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: The markets have been opened 52 minutes. They're doing not so great. Not so bad but not so great. The Dow down 20 points. The Nasdaq also in negative territory. It is down it's about flat. It's down 0.3 or 0.7 of one point.

Let's go ahead and take a look at other stories making news "Coast to Coast."

First, to upstate New York. A water playground at Seneca Lake Park is suspected of sickening more than 12,000 visitors. So far the common water-borne disease is confirmed in only a few dozen of the people complaining of gastrointestinal illness. Tests showed the presence of the disease in two storage tanks. The water park is closed now for the rest of the summer.

In Central Florida, consider this a lesson in fickle weather. Officials at Orlando Stanford International Airport say a freak gust of wind flipped this single-engine Cessna as the student pilot was practicing landing. He walked away without a scratch on his body.

Also from Orlando, a feline fugitive from the hole in the wall game. Needles (ph) the cat disappeared after a contractor patched up a homeowner's wall. At first it appeared the beloved pet had run away but two weeks later muffled cries from inside the wall revealed the cat's location. Crews came to the rescue. Needles emerged hungry and thirsty. Otherwise unharmed. Oh. The cameras were there but were they recording? Questions are raised about key evidence in the shooting death of an unarmed Brazilian man on a London subway.

And later, American states weigh in. Find out which ones have the highest number of obese citizens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Welcome back. I'm Daryn Kagan. Here's a look at what's happening "Now in the News."

Parts of Western Europe are battling their worse outbreak of wildfires ever. In drought-stricken Portugal, firefighters and equipment from across the continent have been brought in to help that country battle a rash of forest fires. Those blazes have killed more than a dozen people.

Believe it or not, there's a small drop in gas prices today but you probably won't notice the difference. AAA says the average for a gallon of unleaded, self-serve regular fell just a fraction of a penny from yesterday. It still tops $2.61 a gallon.

In Idaho, an alleged killer, kidnapper and child molester heads to court. Joseph Duncan is scheduled to be arraigned later today. He's accused of killing a mother, her son and her boyfriend so he could abduct the two other children. One of the kidnapped children was later killed.

A freight train derailment in New York City is causing some problems for Amtrak today. It train derailed earlier today in the South Bronx. Amtrak owns the tracks and the derailment damaged some power lines that provide power to passenger trains. Amtrak service between New York's Penn Station and New Haven, Connecticut, is suspended until at least this afternoon.

In the Middle East today, Jewish activists are making a final stand against Israel's disengagement process. The last Jewish settlement in Gaza was cleared yesterday. And right now Israeli forces are wrapping up their operations in the West Bank. CNN's Guy Raz joins us from that Sanur settlement.

Guy, hello.

GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn.

Sanur settlement is now a ghost town behind me. A few of the remaining houses here in this settlement now emptied. It took about nine hours for Israeli police and military personnel to evacuate this settlement. About 600 people had remained inside here. And the biggest problem, one of the fiercest points, at which clashes began, was at this community's main building. It's an old Ottoman-era fortress, and on top of that building, dozens of hardline activists holed up there. Throughout the day, they were vowing to resist any attempts to remove them from this settlement. Police attempted negotiations. They attempted to call on those to voluntarily leave that rooftop. Those negotiations simply broke down.

And police in the end resorted to using containers, large metal containers attached to cranes, in which those containers held several dozen police officers. Those cranes were hoisted right to the top of that building. Police then opened the doors and began to round up those who remain inside this settlement. Taken out, brought on to those containers, lowered, and put on to buses to take them out of this settlement. It took nine hours to complete the job. This settlement is now a virtual ghost town. And the disengagement process has all but ended now with the removal of 21 settlements in Gaza, and four here in the northern West Bank -- Daryn.

KAGAN: So that part of the West Bank, but isn't it true that many of the settlers who removed from Gaza had moved into other parts of the West Bank?

RAZ: Well, the majority of the settler in Gaza, we understand, will be moving just north of Gaza, within the recognized boundaries of Israel. Many will be in a community known as Nisan (ph). Many will live in southern Israel as well. Some will move, indeed, will move to West Bank settlements as well. But it's still not clear how many will be doing that. The Israeli government says it intends and it would hope that most of the settlers will resettle within the boundaries of Israel, in the Negev Desert, in Southern Israel, or in the northern part of the country in an area known as the Galilee -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Guy Raz reporting live from the West Bank. Thank you.

We move on to London now, where Brazilian officials are on a fact-seeking mission over the death of a Jean Charles De Menezes. He is the Brazilian who was wrongly suspected of being a suicide bomber, who police shot and killed on a subway train last month. Brazilian officials are holding a conference right now. A live picture as you see that. They met earlier today with an independent commission investigating the shooting death. That police watchdog agency is promising to deliver a report by the end of the year.

The police De Menezes came at a tense time in London. It was right on the heels of two terror attacks. But initial reports that the Brazilian had run into the subway station, jumped a turnstile and was wearing a heavy jacket, possibly hiding weapons, have proven false. Now there are questions about what happened to closed-circuit TV footage, video that could have shown the victim acting normally.

Dan Rivers from ITN in London has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, ITN-TV REPORTER (voice-over): This previously unseen police photograph shows the tube train just after Jean Charles was shot. It was taken by officers as they recorded the scene. But today there are questions about whether there's other key evidence that's not been handed over to the IPCC, mainly CCTV footage of the platform.

Tube sources have told the "Evening Standard" newspaper the CCTV system in Stockwell Station was working on the day, but documents obtained by ITV News show investigators at the IPCC had been told there was no such footage.

One briefing document about the surveillance operation says "Stockwell Tube Station and environs has been surveyed and all existing CCTV has been seized. During the course of this it has been established that although there was on-board CCTV in the train, due to previous incidents, the hard drive had been removed and not replaced. It has also been established that there has been a technical problem with the CCTV equipment on the relevant platform and no footage exists."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not commonplace for CCTV cameras to fail, no, not in everyday use. It's highly unlikely that they would just fail.

RIVERS: There is little doubt the CCTV cameras at Stockwell Tube Station could hold vital information. So what exactly would they have captured?

In the main tube entrance, the two cameras trained on the ticket barriers would certainly have captured Jean Charles picking up his free newspaper and using his ticket to go through the barriers and not vaulting them.

Another pointing towards the Northern Line escalator and one on the way down would have recorded his movements as he neared the platform. When he reached the bottom, yes, another camera would have captured him.

And as he turned left onto the platform, a camera positioned above the track and three further cameras at either end would have caught the vital last seconds of Jean Charles' life. All this information should have been relayed to a control room where it should have been recorded onto VHS.

(on camera): But despite the extensive CCTV network here, there appears to be not one frame of Jean Charles on this platform. Tube sources insist the system was working at the time of the shooting. So, once again, even the most basic facts in this case are being closely questioned.

(voice-over): And this team of Brazilian investigators, which arrived at Heathrow today, is among those looking for the answers. After meeting officials at the Brazilian Embassy this afternoon, they went to Scotland Yard. The existence of those vital CCTV tapes is likely to be high up the agenda.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: And that is ITN reporter Dan Rivers. One final note, the family is calling on the British Prime Minister Tony Blair to hold a public inquiry into the shooting death. But Brazil's ambassador said just moments ago, as we're looking at this live news conference, that he believes there has been no cover-up by British officials in the shooting.

Let's go ahead and check the time 10:36 Eastern. Still ahead on CNN LIVE TODAY, we are weighing the states, and some, frankly, are tipping the scales. A look at which regions have the highest obesity percentage.

And later, going back to school can be tough to those who feel threatened. We have tips for those who have trouble standing up against the school bully.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

KAGAN: Well, on Wall Street, the rich may get richer, but on Main Street USA, the fat apparently are getting fatter. An advocacy group says Americans are losing their battle of the bulge, and that obesity rates rose in every state but Oregon. According to that group, Trust for America's Health, the states with the highest percentage of obese adults are, as you see up on the screen, are Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia and Louisiana and Tennessee. The states reporting the lowest percentage of obese adults are Colorado, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and Montana.

Obesity is just one of the factors being considered in the weekend death of an NFL play who collapsed after a preseason game. At more than 300 pounds, Thomas Herrion was a massive hulk off the held, and some would say a frightfully average size on the football field.

Our Mary Snow has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Following the sudden death of San Francisco 49er's lineman Thomas Herrion, questions are being raised about the weight offensive lineman in the National Football League. His officially listed weight of 310 pounds is typical of professional players in his position, but in terms of a player's overall health, does weight need to be looked at? That was a question posed Monday to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

PAUL TAGLIABUE, NFL COMMISSIONER: We're staying ahead of curve, I think, in understanding what that means in terms of how big they should be, what kinds of characteristics they should be able to display.

SNOW: Offensive lineman weren't always so big, but over the last two decades their size has gone up significantly. Arthur Roberts, now a retired heart surgeon, played for the Cleveland Browns in the 1960s.

DR. ARTHUR ROBERTS, LIVING HEART FOUNDATION: There's over 300 players that weigh more than 320 pounds. When I played back in the old days, in the '60s, it was rare to have a player that weighed 300 Podesta.

SNOW: A former NFL player who now represent players, among them offensive lineman, says that the trend is bulk is better. In the sport of football, that extra weight acts as protection against being beaten down. RAPLPH CINDRICH, SPORTS AGENT: There's no doubt that there are certain qualifications that they want in advance of a guy. You know, it's a height-weight-speed thing. Nothing's changed there, except on the weight part of it. It's 300 pounds plus.

SNOW: Sports agent Ralph Cindrick points out though, that weight doesn't mean they're not in good shape.

CINDRICH: These guys are still exceptional athletes. A lot of these guys will pick up a lot of weight and improve their speed.

SNOW: But Dr. Roberts said that the weight has caused concern and he's collecting medical data from professional players.

ROBERTS: The cardiovascular system and other systems in the body are under more stress and we have to realize that the game is changing and we have to adjust the training and the habits to maximize our players' health.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: President Bush is in excellent shape. He is burning a lot of energy with his latest fitness workout. He has gone to mountain biking. He's including that passion today in Idaho.

Over the weekend, legendary bicyclist Lance Armstrong tagged along for a similar ride. And then earlier this month, so did our guest, Ken Herman, a White House correspondent for Cox Newspapers and also a cyclist himself.

Good morning.

KEN HERMAN, COX NEWSPAPERS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning.

KAGAN: So, how was the ride?

HERMAN: It's rigorous. I've done this now twice with the president and it is -- the tour de ranch is indeed a rigorous activity. The president rides his bike like he runs his foreign policy. Once the course is charted, there's no turning back, no second-guessing, no waiting for the less committed. He gets out there and he gets his heart rate pumping and it's a serious activity.

KAGAN: Are there any rules involved?

HERMAN: Yes, the president is not to fall behind anybody. The president leads at all time. It's a rule he has set and that is generally respected. There's a Secret Service contingent riding along with him, also quite a group that trails in vehicles, and you abide by the rules.

KAGAN: From what I understand, from the kind of shape the president is in, this is not that big of a problem to keep up with that rule, to stay behind the president?

HERMAN: Right. Clearly in the group this weekend, I would be considered, shall we say, the least competitive. There were others in the group who were more competitive and could stay up with him, but it is a rigorous activity as I've said. I ride a road bike. I've ridden about 4,600 miles in the past year and a half, generally calculated to avoid hills and try to have the wind at my back. This is a totally different activity.

KAGAN: Is drafting allowed?

HERMAN: It happens. You can draft behind the president and some of the other riders in (inaudible) as it's called, but it's recreational but it's also serious exercise, and the president has figured it's a way now that he can't run anymore, now that his knees have said no more, to get out for a couple of hours and get in a pretty good workout.

KAGAN: Much has been made of the president's physical fitness and his shape. But does that even come home more when you're riding alongside him?

HERMAN: Yes. You realize it when you're trying to ask questions, you realize you're huffing and puffing, and he's going pretty strong and he's an older fellow than myself.

But he takes his riding seriously. He takes the physical fitness seriously, and it's a message, you know, he would like to get out as we saw in the story just before on obesity in America. It's a major problem and one most of us can do something about ourselves without much help if we try. And it's a message he tries to get across.

Plus, he acknowledges he enjoys the adrenaline rush, he enjoys the adventure, he enjoys going fast. He doesn't seem to be doing anything too dangerous out there, but he does fall. And some of us on the ride figure some day this man is going over the handlebars and breaking his collar bone the way he rides out there.

KAGAN: Well, let's hope that it doesn't happen too soon. Is that considered fair play to ask legitimate questions ride or is this considered recreation and off the record?

HERMAN: No, we were told it's all on the record, but we were told in advance it would be about his cycling, his physical fitness. I felt duty-bound to slip in a question about the protesters who were outside of the ranch that day and what they might think of him riding his bike while they were out there. And he answered it saying that he's sympathetic, he understands their point, but he feels like he has to continue trying to lead a balanced life and for him, fitness, in his words, helps him stay on top of his game and make crisp decisions. And he was unapologetic about getting some recreation and exercise.

KAGAN: Which brings me to this question, Ken. Depending on one's political persuasion, people either think that the media is too tough or too easy on President Bush. What about -- is a line crossed as a White House correspondent when you're out there buddy-buddying and doing recreation with the president?

KAGAN: Sure. That's a good question. It is hard and probably foolhardy to turn down access to the president of the United States for almost any purpose. This was a legitimate story about a part of the president's life. I had ridden with him last year and written a story last year about his mountain bike riding and Senator Kerry's road bike riding and what that tells about people about them and the activities they choose.

And I think most journalists would think any exposure you can get to the president, you're going to learn something about him or her and that's the name of the game, is learning about these people and what makes them tick.

I've covered President Bush since his days as governor in Texas for more than 12 years now in various settings and scenarios, serious, some recreational like this. It's all part of learning who the person is.

KAGAN: You get your access when you can. Ken Herman, thank you for dropping by to see us.

HERMAN: Sure. Thank you very much.

KAGAN: We appreciate that.

Still to come on CNN LIVE TODAY, it is back to schooltime. For some girls, though, school can be a threatening place, and we're going to have some tips on how girls can get respect at school.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: In schools across America, bullies are a fact of life, and they don't just target boys. Girls face harassment, too. But there's a new book out offering some tips to teenage girls on how to get respect and how to fight for their rights at school. The coauthor is Courtney Macavinta, and she joins us now from San Francisco.

Courtney, good morning.

COURTNEY, MACAVINTA, COAUTHOR, "RESPECT": Good morning.

KAGAN: Can't get respect from somebody else if you don't respect yourself. That's the first place it has to start.

MACAVINTA: That's right. One of the things we talk about in our book is the fact that if girls respect themselves, they will be more able to get respect from their world and other people.

KAGAN: Other tips in there on the list, setting boundaries. How do you do that?

MACAVINTA: Correct. One of the things that girls really need to do is trust their gut about how they want to be treated and whether or not they feel safe, and one of the ways to do this is to set boundaries for how you want to be treated, and that could be telling someone your feelings, I don't really like that, or just knowing your values and beliefs and standing up for them. KAGAN: You also talk about speaking up, as you were getting to there. But if you speak up, I think a lot of girls might be afraid they're going to become a target.

MACAVINTA: Yes, that's -- it can feel like a double-edged sword, but really you want to speak up in a confident, courageous and assertive way. And oftentimes with girls, with the harassment that's going on at schools or the rumor mill that's going on, it's usually people they know, are friends. So they should feel a little comfort level in going up to their friend outside a group and saying, you know, what you're doing is hurting me. You know, I thought we were friends. I really want this to stop. And I think that, you know, the more you speak up, just in general, the more valuable you'll feel about yourself and the more courageous you will feel about being yourself.

KAGAN: Which can lead to the tip about fighting for equality. It might be easier for some girls if they fought they were fighting for others, and not just for themselves, just kind of the way that we're wired.

MACAVINTA: Correct. Studies actually show that girls are stronger and actually get over things like eating disorders when they're advocate for other girls. So it's really important that girls view their world as part of being a part of a sisterhood for other girls, and that standing up for and protecting other girls is the same for standing up for yourself.

KAGAN: And finally, getting help. When do you know it's time to go to an adult?

MACAVINTA: You have to trust your gut on that one, but I think especially in the case of harassment, which can really derail your education, make you afraid, anxious and depressed, that getting help is part of taking care of yourself. It's part of respecting yourself. And you just want to go to an adult and discuss your options for the steps that you can take.

KAGAN: And finally, the reason for this book, just how bad is it out there, Courtney, how different than when we were going through school?

MACAVINTA: Well, I think the sad fact is that one in three girls worldwide is still suffering from some form of abuse. But the difference is, is girls are really starting to find that they can empower themselves to take action to spread respect in their world. So I think the change is really going to come from the girls themselves.

KAGAN: And hopefully with books like yours, girl power.

MACAVINTA: Thank you.

KAGAN: Thank you, Courtney Macavinta. The book is called "Respect: A Girl's Guide to Getting Respect and Dealing When Your Line is Crossed." Thank you, Courtney. MACAVINTA: Thank you.

KAGAN: Still ahead, ovarian cancer kills 16,000 women a year. Can it be caught earlier? We're going to tell you how to spot the warning signs.

And later, choosing a college can be a tough decision. From the best cafeteria school to the biggest party school, these are important factors, of course. We're going to tell you how your favorite college ranks.

The second hour of CNN LIVE TODAY begins after a quick break.

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