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East Coast Braces for Hurricane; Gadhafi Forces Continue Fighting; Revelations from Gadhafi's Personal Effects; Cook Takes Over as Apple CEO; New York Prepares for Irene's Worst-Case Scenario

Aired August 25, 2011 - 18:00   ET

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


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: Fight and destroy the rats.

Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi purportedly issuing a defiant call to followers, as the fierce battle with rebels escalates around Tripoli.

Plus, a new warning, states of emergency and mandatory evacuations issued up and down the U.S. Eastern Seaboard ahead of an imminent hurricane one governor is calling a 100-year event. We are tracking Irene's path and what you should be doing to prepare.

It may be one of the largest, most powerful cities in the world. But when it comes to a monster hurricane, New York City could be in serious danger.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Joe Johns, and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

First, to the wrath of Irene, growing more threatening as we speak. The first hurricane warning has just been issued for the United States, where the monster storm is expected to slam into the East Coast just days from now. Emergency decrees are already in effect in a number of states and residents are being urged to heed evacuation orders.

Meanwhile, this hour, a vicious scene in the Bahamas as Irene's eye tears across the islands with winds of up to 115 miles an hour.

Let's go straight to our meteorologist Chad Myers in the CNN Hurricane Center -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Joe, the eye is visible not only on satellite, but on radar out of Miami. There it is right there. The good news, it's not over Florida.

But outer bands are coming on to Florida with very gusty winds and heavy rain. Over 100 airplanes canceled out of Miami today due to that. American Airlines canceling a bunch, even Delta canceling a few. There is the storm. Remember yesterday at this time, we were saying, when is it going to turn? Is it going to turn?

Finally, in the overnight hours, we had a little turn to the north. And that will spare Florida. It may not be in time, though, time enough to spare North Carolina. It appears now that the models coming together. Hurricane warnings have been posted all the way from Little River Inlet all the way up to about Virginia Beach, 120- to 110-mile- per-hour storm, getting a little bit slower.

It's not going to be -- it's not forecast to be a Category 4 anymore, still at a Category 3, Category 4 and 3 separated by 131 miles per hour. So not forecast to get higher than 131, but still a very strong storm and maybe 120 miles per hour. Close to Morehead City and then over the Outer Banks. The bigger problem is after that, then it tracks along all of the shoreline of the Eastern U.S., from the Maryland shore through the Virginia and the Delaware shore all the way up the New Jersey shore into New York City.

That's the center of the line and we always tell you not to pay attention to it, but it's still the forecast. Here's the error this way, the error this way, but the forecast is still to drive that 85- mile-per-hour storm right into New York Harbor, right through the weekend on Sunday afternoon.

And that could be a very big deal. Now, warnings are not posted yet, watches are not posted yet because it's not close enough to arrival time. You wait until -- the Hurricane Center waits for about 36 hours before arrival to issue those watches and the warnings. And it's more than that now. That means that the banner, the big side from left to right is still very big on the cone, Joe.

JOHNS: Chad, one of the things I seem to remember simply because I used to live in the Carolinas years and years ago is that hurricanes more than once seem to have just gotten tied up around the Outer Banks in that part. Is that the kind of scenario we are likely to see here? It might slow down around the Outer Banks and all those islands and things?

MYERS: Well, hurricanes slow down when they hit land. And there is very little land if you get inside the Outer Banks.

This is all sound, the Albemarle Sound, the Pamlico Sound. That is all in here. So this is all water. As the hurricane travels across that, it is not going to slow down. It's like saying the hurricane will slow down over the Everglades.

That doesn't happen either. The Everglades are wet. The Everglades are warm water. So is the water right here inside the sound. So, no, I don't believe that will happen. That's why the hurricane warnings in this entire purple area are posted for the Carolinas. Not only that, but there will be so much significant rainfall from all the way from the Poconos and Adirondacks and all the way even into Maryland.

Some spots could pick up 10 inches of rain. And that could cause inland flooding, nothing to do really with the coastal lows or the ocean or the waves, but just flooding in the rivers itself.

JOHNS: So there's basically nothing you can do right now if you're on the East Coast but just get ready because it's probably going to be bad. MYERS: People have asked me all day on Twitter, what's the best-case scenario? And we are losing the best-case scenario as we speak. Best-case scenario would be over here missing the U.S. There is not one single computer model that ran this morning and into this afternoon that predicts that now.

All of the models are here right through New York City.

JOHNS: Wow.

MYERS: And so now they are all agreeing. And that is what is getting concerning, that they are all agreeing on probably the worst possible landfall.

JOHNS: Well, that's what we would not call good news right now. Thanks so much for that, Chad Myers.

MYERS: Sure, Joe.

JOHNS: We will check in back with you.

What should we be doing to get ready for this giant storm?

CNN's John Zarrella has lived through lots -- I would say lots and lots of hurricanes. He joins us now from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.

And so what would you do if you were people along the East Coast looking at what we just saw from Chad Myers? What would you be thinking about and what's the first thing you do? Sort of prioritize it for us, would you, John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, yes, the first thing you have got to do, Joe, is you have got to go out and you have got to make sure you have got water, enough water for four days for each member of your family.

You have to make sure you have a medical handy. You have got to make sure that you have medicines that you might need bagged up and ready to go in case you have to evacuate. You have to have an evacuation plan, know where you are going to go and what roads you will take to get there. Make sure they are not impassable and underwater by the time you make the decision.

And if you do decide to leave or are told by your emergency managers to leave, do it when they tell you to do it. Don't wait, because that is when you start to run into trouble. Here on Atlantic Beach, Joe, we are -- you can see right here one of the things they have done, Bert's Surf Shop, they have started to board up. They have boarded up most all the entire building, except for the front door.

There was one other building right across the street here. You can see they are all boarded up. But our cameraman, one of our cameramen, Mike Miller (ph), took a ride up and down and so far we haven't seen much else boarded up here. Atlantic City is right across the bridge literally on the water from Morehead City. And all this area right now as Chad was pointing out could very well take the center of the storm some time on Saturday as it starts moving up the East Coast.

If you are up along the East Coast, Joe, in the Middle Atlantic states, in the Northeast, the time is now to start preparing. Don't wait until tomorrow afternoon when the stores are wiped out. If you can get out tonight, while it's still calm, go out and do what you need to do. Get the things you need to get, so that you are safe at home with your family.

And also, Joe, one thing important, make sure you find what you consider a safe room in your house, the safest room away from windows preferably where you can ride it out in the eventuality that it really does get bad -- Joe.

JOHNS: Yes. So we saw the pictures there, batteries. You're going to get some water, plenty of water. A lot of people don't think about this, but you really should gas up your car, too, because you can use that car to...

ZARRELLA: Full tank.

JOHNS: Yes, full tank. You can, what, charge -- you can charge your BlackBerry, you can charge your -- whatever you want to charge and you have air conditioning once the -- if your electricity is out.

ZARRELLA: Yes, if you have got a generator. Now, did you go out and buy a generator?

JOHNS: I did buy a generator, in fact.

(CROSSTALK)

ZARRELLA: A couple of points there. Absolutely smart, but not only do you need to have gasoline. Make sure you have plenty of oil.

I can tell you from experience, they go through oil quickly. And one of the things we always see in the aftermath of hurricanes tragically are people who die of carbon monoxide, because what they do is they put the generator in their garage or someplace right near a window. And all those fumes go into the house.

And inevitably we see people who end up dying in the aftermath of storms because of the carbon monoxide from the generators they have got running. So, folks out there, make sure the generator, if you have got one, is in a well-ventilated area -- Joe.

JOHNS: Well, this is all really good advice, John Zarrella. And thanks. I guess you had to go out and do this yourself, did you not?

ZARRELLA: Yes. And I did it. In fact, this past Sunday, I went out and picked up some extra water, picked up some extra gas cans so I could fill them for my generator. The last time I had to use the generator was during Hurricane Wilma back the same year, what, '05, the same year as Katrina and Rita, the last big storm of the season, a Cat 3 that came over South Florida.

And we were without power for eight days. We got power back on Halloween afternoon. So, we were out for eight days.

JOHNS: Yes. You always remember the name of the storm that really gets you.

The one that really got me last time was Isabel. Yes.

Great. Thanks so much, all good information. John, we will be checking back with you.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNS: To Libya now and intensifying the manhunt for Moammar Gadhafi.

Just days after rebels seized control of the fugitive dictator's compound, today, an apartment complex was surrounded on a tip he was inside. Meanwhile, dozens are getting caught in the bloody crossfire.

CNN senior international correspondent Dan Rivers joins us now from Tripoli. And we want to warn you that what you are about to see in this report may be disturbing.

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're here in Tripoli, seeing a lot of anti-aircraft fire again this evening.

It's difficult to tell what's going on. I think it's just kids with itchy trigger fingers, to be honest, getting bored and shooting huge amounts of large-caliber ammunition into the sky. Meanwhile, further to the south, the real battle is continuing. As you mentioned, Colonel Gadhafi, according to the rebels, is surrounded and is on the back foot.

They haven't produced anything else other than their say-so for that. There's no actual evidence that they have cornered Colonel Gadhafi. Meanwhile, Tripoli itself continues to be in many parts a city in crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIVERS (voice-over): This was the very heart of the regime. A potent symbol of Gadhafi's resistance against the West, now overrun by his enemies. So is the writing on the wall for the colonel, the rebels would like to think so and they are determined to flush him out with minimal collateral damage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't like to spend a lot of blood, you know, because they are -- even they are our brothers.

RIVERS: We've got to be careful at every coroner this part of the city that Gadhafi's compound.

We're not sure if they're shooting at us, but we don't stay to find out.

The streets are awash with guns, all toted by the rebels. So far we haven't seen a single Gadhafi loyalist here. Among the fighters, Ziyha Tariq (ph), who was held in prison for political dissent. He says he can't remember for how long, but he does remember the torture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been beaten. We've been put electricity in our foot. We've been held with our hands tied up like this.

RIVERS: We visit the Matiqua (ph) military hospital, now echoing with the screams of children caught up in this mayhem.

Kristie Campbell (ph) works for an aid agency and has been watching hundreds of injured citizens being rushed in for treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women who have been killed, they're basically hiding from snipers into the houses, from mortars into the houses, not even in the streets, in their homes.

RIVERS (on camera): It's pretty sickening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have worked for 10 years in war zones and this one was bad. RIVERS (voice-over): I meet Uday Idominer (ph), a 27- year-old fighter shot twice by a sniper yesterday. This is near to where he was shot. Hardly a surface that's not punctuated by the ferocious firefight.

And at the end of this folk filled street an intersection littered with bodies. I count a dozen, a grizzly tableau of urban warfare, the victims' hands bound behind them.

The rebels say they were execute by Gadhafi's men, but these bodies appear to be black Africans. Black Africans make up a large portion of Gadhafi's army, raising questions about whether the men were executed by the rebels.

(on camera): These terrible scenes sum up the horror of parts of Tripoli now. Bodies strewn across the street, gunfire echoing through the sky, and large parts of the city remaining a no-go zone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIVERS: Well, the Transitional National Council has held a press conference this evening, saying they are relocating now to Tripoli. But it is, as you can hear, a city that is still very volatile and a city that is far from being at peace with itself, and very far at the moment from having secured the capture or killing of Colonel Gadhafi.

JOHNS: Dan Rivers, thanks so much for that. It doesn't sound secure at all with all that shooting going on behind you. Stay safe.

And a major step in the formation of a new Libya today. The National Transitional Council, now the internationally recognized government in the country, announced it has officially moved from Benghazi to the capital city of Tripoli.

Much more ahead on Libya tonight. Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, has been chasing reports of Gadhafi's whereabouts all day. He joins us with a live report coming up next.

Meanwhile, New York City bracing for Irene -- why many say it could still be in danger even if it is spared a direct hit.

And the man charged with filling the shoes of a tech giant. Just who is the next Steve Jobs?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Joe, city of Camden, New Jersey, is going to pay high school students $100 each not to skip school. Say what?

"The Philadelphia Inquirer" reports it is part of an effort to end truancy. It will focus on conflict resolution and anger management workshops during the first month of school.

The program, called I Can End Truancy, or ICE-T for short, is being funded by a grant from New Jersey's Department of Criminal Justice. The money needs to be used up by September 30, or they won't have a shot at getting the money next year.

That means that the participating students are going to be paid $100 each on September 30 if they attend most of the anti-truancy sessions and school days.

The students and their parents have to sign a pledge that they won't skip classes later in the year.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: You can't do this with a straight face.

Officials say they are going to track the students' attendance.

They say that absences will be assessed case by case because many of the young people in Camden face -- quote -- "extraordinary things." For example, one of the ninth-graders in the program can't read, and several of the students go hungry at home.

Not everybody thinks paying kids to attend school is a good idea.

I would be one of those.

One former school board member calls the plan "outrageous." He says it sends the wrong message to students and that the schools need fundamental change to keep the students interested.

Supporters point out that other cities have used similar programs.

Camden's mayor hopes to continue the anti-truancy program with other grants, so that more troubled students can participate.

Here's the question: Should students be paid to go to school? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog, or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. I would answer the question for you, but the rules of CNN preclude me using the kind of language I would need to express my feelings on the subject -- Joe, back to you.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNS: Jack, I'm with you. If I had looked at my mother and said I want to be paid to go to school, she would look at me and say, boy, are you crazy?

CAFFERTY: Yes, you can use the money to get your teeth fixed because I'm going to knock them all out.

JOHNS: I know.

CAFFERTY: That's the answer I would have gotten, too.

JOHNS: That's right. Oh, my gosh.

Thanks so much for that, Jack.

CAFFERTY: OK.

JOHNS: There are disturbing new revelations about the communications meltdown during this week's historic earthquake on the East Coast. Now that's raising new concerns ahead of what is forecast to be the monster storm in the very same area.

Our Brian Todd is here with details.

This is a real one-two punch we're getting here.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, extraordinary for one week.

But back to the communications, Joe, in those minutes right after the earthquake, you were here. We could go on the street with smartphones like this one, make video reports on what was going on, send them out to almost anywhere in the world.

But even with mechanisms like this, we couldn't make basic cell phone calls. And that's a big problem. It's a flaw in the technology and its networks that could end up costing lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): We came streaming out of our offices and homes, crowding the streets, trying frantically to reach loved ones or to call 911. But in those minutes right after Tuesday's earthquake, most of us got this.

COMPUTER VOICE: Your call cannot be completed as dialled.

TODD: Many of us couldn't get through for more than an hour. The cell phone networks completely jammed. (on camera): It really didn't matter what you had, standard cell phone, BlackBerry, smartphone. For mobile phone service, we are all tied to the major carriers.

And 10 years after September 11, when we needed them the most, their networks were overwhelmed and couldn't handle the spike in volume. It has exposed a major shortcoming in this technology during emergencies.

(voice-over): A shortcoming that could cause huge problems again as Hurricane Irene bears down on the U.S. Now the Federal Communications Commission is contacting the wireless carriers and public safety call centers to determine the cause of the outages after the earthquake and how to address them.

JAMIE BARNETT, PUBLIC SAFETY CHIEF, FCC: Most importantly, we were very concerned about the fact that 911 calls were also congested. And we want to make sure that people who need emergency help are able to get it.

TODD: Right now, there is no technology in common use to make sure 911 calls from wireless phones go to the top of the queue when there is heavy volume, like there was after the quake.

The FCC is working with phone companies to improve that technology, get it in place on a wide scale and regulate it. As for all the cell phone outages, our question to the major carriers was simple. Why couldn't your networks handle that kind of volume when people needed it the most?

Spokespeople for Verizon, AT&T and Sprint would only acknowledge there was congestion, said their networks didn't experience any damage, but never said why they couldn't handle the volume.

I spoke with technology expert Ashok Agrawala.

(on camera): Couldn't the companies build more volume capability into their systems?

ASHOK AGRAWALA, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Of course they can.

TODD: Why don't they?

AGRAWALA: But no matter how much they build, it will still be finite. There can be situations in which that will get overloaded, number one.

Number two, if they build a capacity that can handle the peak load that we had on the -- at the time of the earthquake, most of the time, most of that system will remain idle. And that will be expensive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: That's not necessarily an indictment of the phone carriers, though. While that would be expensive for them, it would also make our phones more expensive and our bills higher.

Experts say the government also needs to create more spectrum for cell phone volume, like building more lanes on congested highways. The government hasn't done that yet, and the FCC is looking at ways to do that now, too, Joe.

JOHNS: I was here during the earthquake and I was here during 9/11. As far as the cell phone goes, it was exactly the same. You just couldn't get through. So the question is, what do you do? Do you just not use your phone if there is a big emergency like this hurricane coming up?

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: Well, experts say try your cell phone, but also try texting.

Apparently, it uses a lot less bandwidth and a lot less time. And it's been more successful. After the earthquake, texts went through with a lot more success more than cell phone use did. However, there is no technology in place now to text 911. That's something they are working on as well.

Ten years after 9/11, we can't text to 911.

JOHNS: Yes, that was really fascinating, because you are right. I was able to post on Facebook or send an e-mail, but I couldn't use my phone to call anybody.

TODD: Yes, unbelievable. That's right. You can do all those things. You can't -- your phone gets jammed. Texting works a little bit, but you can't text 911.

JOHNS: Brian Todd, thanks so much. Really interesting information.

TODD: Thank you.

JOHNS: As rebels scramble to find Moammar Gadhafi, an audiotape purportedly from the Libyan leader surfaces. We will tell you what it said.

And a fascinating discovery inside Gadhafi's compound, picture after picture of a woman he professed to love. You are never going to guess who this is.

You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Continuing here our discussion here on the developments in Libya, let's now bring in Fouad Ajami, a noted Middle East expert, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

And, Fouad, you have been watching the developments today. Everybody is tracking where Moammar Gadhafi might be, where he might not be, rumors about where he is. He has said he will die a martyr. Do you believe him, or do you think there is a possibility he actually might surrender?

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Joe, these people promise to die as martyrs on the soil of their country, then, when the time comes, they run.

And they run away to unite with their bank accounts. They run away to begin new lives. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia right next door to Moammar Gadhafi made such statements.

I don't take these statements very seriously. I think we know that Moammar Gadhafi is a very deranged man. We know he is homicidal. We don't think he is suicidal. He values his life. He values the life of his family and of his children. And that's about all he cares about.

JOHNS: One of the strangest things I think we have heard at least today is that, going through the personal effects of Gadhafi, we're told there was found some type of a photo album with many pictures of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Is this unusual to you? What do you think of this? What do you make of it?

AJAMI: Well, Secretary Rice is an esteemed colleague, by the way, at Hoover and a friend, something of a friend. So I don't think she's flattered by this.

He is a very, very strange man. There's only -- there's only one person possibly on the world stage more weird than Moammar Gadhafi. And that's Kim Jung-Il of North Korea, who bears enormous comparison to this man.

We do know that Secretary Rice did go to Libya in 2007. Because you will remember that the Bush administration had bet that Moammar Gadhafi changed his spots that he had become the reform and altered man. That he turned in his weapons of mass destruction. He was visited by Secretary Rice, and he developed -- you know, he was a very odd man with very odd fixations.

JOHNS: We did reach out to former Secretary Rice to ask her for some type of a comment. She said through her office that she will reserve comment until the release of her book on November 1, at which time she'll actually talk about her meeting Moammar Gadhafi.

But it's clear that he had some type of obsession or fascination with her. A good example of that is a statement he made regarding her. And we can put it up and show you a graphic. He said, "I support my darling black African woman. I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. I love her very much. I admire her, and I'm proud of her, because she's a black woman of African origin."

Does this sound like an obsession to you, almost?

AJAMI: I think so, but see, remember one thing. This -- I mean, again, we're talking about a very, very odd man. And he also fancied himself at one point as something of an African. He basically said at one point that Libya is an African country; it has nothing to do with the Arabs. And he dubbed himself King of the Kings of Africa, and he turned his back on the Arabs. By the way, Joe, that's why the Arabs gave the green light to the NATO war against Moammar Gadhafi.

So again, part of this obsession and part of this fixation, part of his own self-definition was this, you know, new discovery of himself as an African, if you will.

JOHNS: Now, as we watch everything in Libya, the question is what happens next in the Middle East? And all eyes, of course, are on Syria. How do you see what's happening in Libya affecting the situation in Syria?

AJAMI: That's a very, very good question, Joe. I think it's very interesting. The people in Syria were carrying placards saying, "Bye, Gadhafi. Bashar next." Bashar Assad next.

And you will remember one thing: at one point, the dictator in Syria called his people germs, while Gadhafi loves to call his opponents rats. And there was a placard which I liked, which was seen in Syria. It says, "The germs of Syria salute the rats of Libya," to mock both Moammar Gadhafi and Bashar al-Assad.

I think for Bashar, it's a mixed thing, this struggle in Libya. On the one hand the attention of the world is off of him. But on the other, he can witness for himself what happens when a man goes to war against his country and when his country doesn't want him any more.

JOHNS: So when you look at these two men, Assad and Moammar Gadhafi, there are obviously similarities. There are obviously differences. Which would you say? Are they more similar or are they more different?

AJAMI: I think there is -- there are deep differences. There are deep differences. For one, Moammar Gadhafi is a lone hunter. He is really a man alone. I mean, he is a man -- when we see the tunnels he has dug, we understand why he keeps using the word "rats." It seems to describe, possibly, his own condition.

Now, he doesn't really have very many people attached to him. In the case in Bashar al-Assad in Syria, he has his own community, the Alawites, people who came from the mountains to the coast and to Damascus and who conquered power and imposed their well on a Sunni society. They will fight for him. Because in fighting for Bashar, they fight for themselves. That is very, very different from Moammar Gadhafi with his even sons and terrible one daughter and just his family. The house of Gadhafi is really basically people who just were in it for themselves.

JOHNS: Fouad Ajami, thanks so much. It's always a real pleasure to hear your insights, and certainly, as we watch Libya and continue to watch Syria, we'll be back in touch with you.

AJAMI: Thank you, Joe.

JOHNS: A monster hurricane is heading toward the Eastern Seaboard, including New York City. But is the big Apple prepared for what some are calling the storm of the century? We'll find out. And we'll take a closer look at the man who's following a legendary act: Apple's CEO, Tim Cook. Find out why some are saying he's the right man for the job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: A surprising new report on unemployment. Mary Snow is monitoring that and other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Mary, what do you have?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Joe.

Well, a key reading on unemployment claims rose unexpectedly last week. The number of first time filings for unemployment benefits jumped by 5,000 to 417,000. The reason for the boost, the Verizon strike. Thousands of strikers applied for benefits before the walkout ended, even though in most states, the strikers are not eligible for benefits.

Overseas, North Korean leader Kim Jung-Il is visiting China. China's state-run news agency offers no details on the focus of his trip or who he's meeting. Earlier this week, Kim visited Russia for talks with Russians -- Russia's president. Russian officials say Kim agreed to return to six-party nuclear talks without preconditions. No reaction yet from the U.S. or South Korea. The last round of six- party negotiations ended in 2008.

Billionaire Warren Buffett is hosting a fund-raiser for President Obama next month in New York. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO will speak in an economic forum dinner moderated by the president's former economic adviser Austan Goolsbee. The nice should be a big boost for Obama's reelection campaign. The base price for a ticket is $10,000. And attending a VIP reception with Buffett requires a donation of $35,800.

Britain's Prince Harry will be in the United States for two months this fall. The third in line to the British throne will be training to fly Boeing Apache attack helicopters with the British Army Air Corps. The training starts in Britain and wraps up in California and Arizona. The U.S. portion will include environmental training, live firing, and tactical exercises.

And if you have a Cadillac Escalade, keep your eyes peeled. A new report shows, percentage-wise, more Escalades are stolen than any other vehicle. It says about 10 out of every 8 -- sorry, out of every 1,000 of the SUVs are targeted by thieves. It's the fourth year in a row the Escalade has topped that list. But if you're talking sheer volume, statistics show the 1994 Honda Accord is stolen most often.

Another reason, Joe, I'm glad I take the subway.

JOHNS: Ye, I wish I could. I have to remember that. You know, that's rough for people with Escalades.

SNOW: Yes. JOHNS: And they're expensive, too. So you know.

SNOW: Even harder.

JOHNS: All right. Thanks, Mary.

SNOW: Watch your back

JOHNS: You bet.

He's charged with being the next Steve Jobs, but does he have what it takes to fill the shoes of a technology genius?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Steve Jobs, shoes impossible to fill. But Tim Cook is stepping into them nonetheless, taking over as Apple's CEO, following Jobs' resignation yesterday. So who is Cook? And will Apple be the same with him at the helm?

Joining us now with some insight, CNN's Silicon Valley correspondent, Dan Simon.

What do you think, Dan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, even though Steve Jobs has been sick for sometime, I think the news caught many people off guard. But if you're going to make a change, now is really the perfect time to do so, given Apple's astounding success.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIM COOK, APPLE CEO: If you look at Apple's revenue, the Mac made up 33 percent or a third of the revenue for last year.

SIMON: As chief operating officer, Tim Cook handled the company's envious balance sheets. He oversaw the supply chain, making sure Apple acquired all the necessary components to make its devices and meet the public's fierce appetite. Silicon Valley insiders say what made him so effective in the role: he negotiated deals that undercut the competition.

DIETER BOHN, TECHNOLOGY WRITER: He is one of the people that made sure that they had, you know, high profit margin. But he's also one of the people that made sure that their product supply chain has been running really well. And so Apple has been able to get parts for the iPhone and the iPad before anybody else, and they've been able to get it at lower prices. And that's giving them a very significant advantage.

SIMON: Cook joined the company in 1998, brought on shortly after Apple was teetering on bankruptcy.

Bill Gurley is a well-respected venture capitalist. Like many, he wonders what Apple will look like without its legendary CEO. BILL GURLEY, VENTURE CAPITALIST: The real test, where the company's going to come four or five years down the road, when the question of his design instincts and his attention to detail will start to -- new products will start to come out that may not have had as much of that as they have as the past. And that will be the real test of the organization.

SIMON: At 50, Cook has been known as a workaholic and fitness buff.

COOK: All of Apple is very, very excited to bring the iPhone to Verizon's 93 million customers.

SIMON: He's been more visible in recent months, though it's not clear he'll be the one to fill Steve Jobs' shoes for product introductions on stage, which are important to the Apple brand. In the past that role has gone to Phil Schiller, Apple's chief marketing officer.

Cook is not known to be a product visionary like Steve Jobs, but a hard-nosed executive whose real strength lies behind the scenes. In a statement to company employees, Cook writes, "I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple's unique principals and values. Steve built a company culture that is unlike any other in the world, and we are going to stay true to that. It is in our DNA."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: Well, let's not forget that Steve Jobs will stay on as chainman, but only he and his inner circle know his current state of health. In any event, people here on campus are really welcoming -- welcoming the fact that Tim Cook is the one to succeed Steve Jobs. He has done very well in the role, filling in for Steve Jobs while he has been on this medical leave.

But the ultimate question, Joe, is what's going to look like -- what are things going to look like in, say, five years from now once the current product cycle goes through. Who's going to be the visionary at the top? And that's really the open question.

JOHNS: And we know from your pea (ph) stand that design instincts certainly is going to be one of the question marks, if you will. But what else do we think Apple might miss with Steve Jobs being outside of the job?

SIMON: Well, he is the one who has this incredible attention for detail, the eye. And I've been kind of showing this prop throughout the day. These are just simple iPhone head phones. But I read in the "New York Times" that Steve Jobs actually wanted to make sure that there was a clasp here on the headphones to keep these -- these cords in check.

Tim Cook it not that person. He's a dollars and cents guy. Now, let's remember that Apple has a great product chief in Jonathan Ive. He's probably the best in the world at what he does when it comes to design. But you missed that at the top somebody who can go in and veto and make sure that certain features are incorporated. JOHNS: Dan Simon, thanks for that reporting. Interesting, and it will be very interesting for everybody who's been touched by Apple to see what happens next.

It may be one of the most powerful cities in the world, but when it comes to severe hurricanes, find out why ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: It's one of the most powerful cities in the world, but in the case of a mass hurricane like Irene, New York City could be in serious trouble. Our Mary Snow is working this part of the story -- Mary.

SNOW: Well, Joe, you know, hurricanes are not common here in New York. And that's what worries some who follow hurricanes closely who say it won't take a major hurricane to cause some serious flooding in some parts of the city.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): If anyone is worried about a hurricane hitting New York, it's coastal geology professor Nicholas Coch. And to understand why, he took us to South Hampton, New York.

NICHOLAS COCH, COASTAL GEOLOGY PROFESSOR: This is actually where the 1938 hurricane broke through and made the bay a branch of the ocean.

SNOW: Coch says most New Yorkers forget that it was here that a powerful Category 3 hurricane made landfall in 1938. It was called the Long Island Express, and it caused widespread damage, even in New York City, some 70 miles away.

(on camera) Even if New York city is spared a direct hit...

COCH: It's going to have massive flooding. Yes.

SNOW (voice-over): For years Coch has been sounding the alarm about how vulnerable New York City is, because of its topography. He says storm surges could trigger massive flooding in low-lying areas, particularly Lower Manhattan.

Consider this simulation done by Noah, showing what a Category 2 hurricane could do to a tunnel linking Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Donny Cresitello, with the Army Corps of Engineers, mapped out some worst-case scenarios. A Category 1 hurricane, for example, could flood the subway station at the southern tip of Manhattan with 3 1/2 feet of water. A Category 2 storm, he says, could put JFK Airport under 5 and a half feet of water.

DONNY CRESITELLO, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: If a storm were to occur, it could be catastrophic, given the population density in -- in the northeast.

SNOW: High winds are also a big concern. And city officials have evacuation plans at the ready. Despite all the preparations, Coch says it's not the hurricane he's most worried about.

(on camera) What's your biggest concern?

COCH: The New Yorker.

SNOW: Why?

COCH: Because they don't listen. You can always tell a New Yorker, but you can't tell them very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: ... New Yorker, Joe, I can attest to that.

But you know what? It's still too early to know the impact of the hurricane on New York City. City officials say they are assuming the worst. City officials right now are holding a news conference about plans for evacuations. And the mayor just a short time ago said that a certain group of people will be evacuated, starting tomorrow. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: So notifying the other hospitals in these Zone A low-lying areas, as well as nursing homes and senior centers in these low-lying Zone A areas, that they must -- I repeat the word "must" -- evacuate beginning tomorrow and complete the process by 8 p.m. tomorrow night unless -- unless they get permission to stay in place, based on the ability of the particular facility to keep -- to keep operating during hurricane conditions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: So Mayor Michael Bloomberg there talking about evacuations for nursing homes and hospitals. But also, he's saying on Saturday morning he will make a determination if residents in low-lying areas should evacuate. Another big question, Joe, is mass transit and the impact it could have on mass transit.

JOHNS: Mary Snow, thanks so much for that.

Jack Cafferty is asking should students be paid to attend school? Your e-mails next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Time now to check back with Jack Cafferty -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Joe, the question this hour: "Should students be paid to attend school?" Paid to attend school.

Bill in New Mexico: "Where only the troublesome students get paid, how is this going to make a student feel that has a good attendance record? No, there are 101 things we ought to be doing to our public schools. Paying kids to go there is No. 102."

Chris in Arizona writes, "Any reason to get kids in school and staying there isn't a bad one. More specifications need to be put into place for this, however: a certain GPA, etc."

Cat writes, "I think we ought to spend money on implantable birth control so we don't have 12-year-olds having babies. Schools are filled with children who have parents who are children.

Grant writes, "No. We ought to be fining parents whose kids are skipping school."

Raphael on Facebook: "Why don't we just send them a diploma and pay them to stay home for the rest of their lives?"

John in New Jersey, "Mr. Cafferty, you would pay $100 to a student from Camden, New Jersey, if that student was 100 times more likely than any other school district in the nation to land in a correctional institution, costing you $45,000 a year, wouldn't you?"

And Dee writes, "Why not? We pay people not to work. Let the kids learn the handout routine early in life so they'll be better equipped to milk the system. The only problem that we're seeing is that the cow is going dry. What a country."

If you want to read more on this, you go to my blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile, or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Joe.

JOHNS: You know, Jack, people -- my folks used to pay me to go and start a company or whatever. You know, they -- I would go and shovel snow. They'd pay me to go shovel snow. So...

CAFFERTY: Yes.

JOHNS: Kind of an incentive, right?

CAFFERTY: Well, I don't know, I was sort of raised that education was a privilege. There are a lot of people in this world that would love the opportunity to go to school. We have free public schools for these kids, and some of them don't want to go.

Granted, some of them come from troubled homes, and I understand all that part, but I just remember when I was a kid. If I said to my folks, as we alluded to earlier, "I'm not going to school unless you pay me," my dad would have said, "Well, here's money to get your teeth fixed, because I'm going to knock them all right out of your face."

JOHNS: Yes. My folks really just -- they wouldn't go for that at all. I wonder what my mother would say if I told her? Well, anyway, thanks so much.

CAFFERTY: You know what she'd say. You know exactly what she'd say.

JOHNS: Yes. All right, Jack. Thanks so much. See you tomorrow. And that's it for us. I'm Joe Johns in THE SITUATION ROOM. For our international viewers, "WORLD REPORT" is next. In North America, "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.