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Isaac Heads For Cuba, Florida; New York Shooting Victims; Office Grudge At Center Of NYC Shooting; GOP Convention Just Two Days Away; Anarchists May Disrupt RNC; Biden's Tampa Campaign Events Delayed

Aired August 25, 2012 - 14:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Tropical Storm Isaac has already delivered a battering blow to Haiti and it's lashing Cuba right now and by the time this storm reaches Florida, Isaac is expected to be a hurricane.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM, where the news unfolds this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. A look at our top stories right now.

We're keeping a close watch on now Tropical Storm Isaac. We have correspondents across the region from Haiti, to Cuba to the gulf coast of the U.S. Isaac already thrashed Haiti earlier today.

High wind and rain slammed Haiti's tent cities where about 300,000 people still live following that 2010 earthquake. Isaac is now turning the force of its wind and rain on Cuba.

And that's where CNN's Patrick Oppman is. He's live from Havana. So give us an idea of what that city of Havana is experiencing right now, Patrick?

PATRICK OPPMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's been on and off all day, Fredricka. Right now, the rain has gone away for the meantime and people are in Cuba, in August, as you can believe, just enjoying the breeze.

It's a brutally hot month and all of a sudden it's gotten a lot cooler and you're seeing people coming out and sort of enjoying the windy, breezy day. That battering blow that Isaac delivered to Haiti is really more of a glancing blow here.

Officials are saying that while there's been some storm surge and some flooding east of Cuba, really so far there hasn't been much damage reported. You know, where I am right now in the center of Havana, behind me is the bay, the entrance to Havana Harbor.

And in times past where there have been serious hurricanes, this whole area where I'm standing has been completely flooded and it seems Isaac is moving away from Cuba and it hasn't gotten caught up in the mountains of Cuba.

It could have stalled out and been much more of a flooding event and that's really good news for Cuba and that's bad news for the United States as Isaac moves into the warm waters behind me there the Straits of Florida.

Where they're expected to pick up steam and head to Florida later -- later in the week or early next week. So, Cuba, it seems will make out well with this, Fredricka. Florida, we'll just have to wait and see.

WHITFIELD: We'll, indeed. All right, thanks so much, Patrick Oppman from Havana.

All right, so the big question about Isaac. How strong will it get, potentially and where will it hit next. I want to bring in meteorologist, Jennifer Delgado in the CNN Weather Center.

So, Jennifer, Isaac now brushing as you say, kind of hugging the coast of Cuba right now, but then what?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, it is hugging the coastline. You know, yesterday we were worried about Isaac actually moving right across land. Now if it did that we would see actually, possibly a weaker storm, but right now it's hugging the coastline.

The center of circulation located just to the east, about 40 miles east of Guantanamo Bay. You can see a lot of the rain and I know Patrick is coming out of Havana. That is actually just another low that's been bringing heavier rainfall.

But all of this moisture has to go up toward the north and as it does, of course, you'll see some strengthening and right now the winds at 60 miles per hour. I want to point out to you, we still have a warming in place.

You can see for Key West as well as Southern Florida. Anywhere you're seeing in the pink shading and notice from Miami up towards Sebastian, we're talking a tropical storm warning and that means as we go through tomorrow morning conditions will start to get worse down toward southern parts of Florida.

And of course, we're expecting potentially hurricane conditions as we go later into the day. Now as we track this for you, this is Sunday 8:00 a.m., notice by the evening of Sunday, winds 75 miles per hour just at really won over hurricane strength.

And then it moves on towards the northwest and as it does moves through the Florida Straits and into the Gulf of Mexico and very warm water. We're talking temperatures roughly in the 80s and the bad news is this will allow it to get stronger.

You could see for yourself, forecasting potentially a Category 2 and with the Category 2, of course, we're talking winds of 100 miles per hour and then moving up towards the north and then weakening eventually into an area of low pressure. But if you notice with that cone, there is still that bit of uncertainty there.

This could potentially go as far west say towards New Orleans and of course, the western coastline of Florida, so everybody needs to be paying close attention to the potential track of Tropical Storm Isaac as we go through the next couple of days.

I also want to point out to you, Fredricka, we are hearing reports that Key West is the international airport is offering extra flights out with AirTran and Delta to get residents out of the area.

And that's certainly a good idea because weather conditions will be going down very quickly across that region.

WHITFIELD: And that's really less than 24 hours after the governor had said he was not going to order evacuations out of the Keys, but now it looks like a change of pace.

All right, so as we look at that spaghetti of tracks there, you know, what is glaringly obvious, too, is that Tampa while that Republican National Convention about to begin on Monday, big concerns about whether wind and rain --

DELGADO: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Diminish things -- we are. Now they'll get the outer bands?

DELGADO: Yes, right now, it looks like it, but still the track is still very uncertain. I can tell you this. We'll be dealing with storm surge as well as potentially tropical storm-force winds and of course, very heavy rainfall could lead to some flooding.

And we all know if we get in some of those areas along the western parts of Florida, we could be looking at some serious problems, 10 to 20 inches in some locations.

WHITFIELD: That's pretty significant. All right, thanks so much. Jennifer Delgado, appreciate it. I know you'll keep us posted later on as well.

So right now, let's try and zero in if we can on Haiti and any damage assessments. Just take a look at the damage Isaac has already done to Haiti.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in the city of Jacmel where trees are down, power is out and hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors braving the storm just like that, in tent cities.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, there's a little bit of improvement. At least the winds have begun to subside here in the southern part of Haiti, but the rain continues to come down and it was always been feared the rain was a little danger.

Last night, the winds picked up around 11:00 last night and they continued that way until about 10:00 this morning, whipping the trees into a frenzy, bringing down branches, in some cases bringing down full trees.

Power lines have been brought down in certain areas and there is no power here except that which is being produced by a generator. Cell phone communication has been in and out, but it's the flooding that is the real concern and always has been for Haiti.

Haiti is very mountainous. A lot of the trees and brush have been cleared from those mountains by people burning it or using it for construction. So the truth is that water and it depends how much water.

But it's been projected anywhere from a foot or more could come crashing down and that triggers one or two events and one flash flooding, which in Jacmel is a very real possibility and the other are landslides and those are dangerous, whether it's here or Port-Au- Prince.

We have not heard of that happening and you have to remember, emergency communication and emergency response in this particular country is weak, at best and probably almost nonexistent. We have not seen traffic in the streets.

We've seen some people out and about, but we do know just around the corner, there is structural damage or tree damage. So it is hard to really give you an estimate as to whether there had been injuries. Hopefully no fatalities and how extensive the damage is.

But one thing is certain Isaac delivered a battering blow to at least the southern part of Haiti. Port-Au-Prince appears to have been spared somewhat, but the reality is we probably won't know for some time. Meanwhile, the rain continues to fall -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Martin Savidge there. We're going to check in with the National Hurricane Center coming up to get the latest update on the track of that storm.

All right, we are now learning a bit more about that shooting near the Empire State Building. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says all nine people injured in yesterday's shooting were wounded by police gun fire.


COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: We have recovered bullets, whole bullets from two of the -- two of the victims. Actually, we think a total of three out of the nine victims were struck with bullets. The rest were struck with fragments of some sort.


WHITFIELD: Police say it all started when gunman, 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson shot and killed former co-worker, 41-year-old Steven Ercolino and then Johnson confronted two officers as you see in surveillance tape and then police opened fire when he revealed his weapon.

He was killed on the spot. Johnson was laid off from his job at Hazan Imports last year. Police say Ercolino had apparently filed a prior complaint claiming that he thought Johnson would try to kill him.

All right, a major storm and the possibility of violent protests, both significant concerns for organizers of the Republican National Convention.


WHITFIELD: All right, I want to remind you of this programming note for the Republican National Convention, our live coverage beginning Monday night 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

All right, a major tropical storm and anarchist extremist both threatening to disrupt the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week. CNN's Brian Todd is at the convention site.

So Brian, let's begin with the storm threat right now. It looks beautiful where you are, but everyone knows that this Tropical Storm Isaac could wobble any which way, direction. So meantime, what do are event organizers doing to prepare for the worst?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, communication is key. The way they're preparing is they're trying to get word out to the delegates and all of the out-of-town visitors trying to hit home a couple of points to them.

Number one, know where you'll need to be if this town needs to be evacuated or parts of it need to be evacuated. They're going to coordinate that with, of course, city officials and Emergency Management officials and party officials to get the word to the delegates to know where they need to be.

The city officials do have specific plans in place to move the delegates by bus and by other means to higher ground or have them shelter in place. They're not giving a lot of specifics about their plans because of security concerns, but they do have those plans in place.

And they're trying to communicate to the delegates themselves and to the visitors, you know, where you need to go, if that call has to be made. They do not anticipate having to make that call right now, but they're trying to get that communication out to the out of town visitors.

Second thing they're trying to communicate to them is know how to essentially behave during a tropical storm or storm surge. A lot of people come from out of town haven't been to Florida possibly before, and haven't experienced a tropical storm or hurricane before.

They're putting pamphlets in their rooms. They're communicating through them. You know, don't go necessarily near the waterfront areas and if you're curious about the storm and you want to look at it.

It may be a better idea to stay away because it could be deceiving just how quickly the storm surge can move in. So they're trying to promote some awareness as well.

WHITFIELD: All right, and that's the unexpected or planning for the unexpected and now there's another kind of planning under way for what is expected, but they're not quite sure how it will go. And we're talking about some protesters that are planning to converge there at the convention. What can law enforcement officials actually prepare for?

TODD: Well, you know, that's almost as unpredictable as the storm.


TODD: What they're concerned about, Fredricka, are these anarchists. The anarchist groups converged on the Republican convention in St. Paul in 2008 and there were a lot of clashes in the streets. They disrupted some things and events there and they're concerned they could try to do that again.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security put out an intelligence bulletin that CNN obtained, which has officials expressing concern that the anarchists might try to disrupt traffic on bridges and might even use improvised explosive devices.

They are quick to point out there is no specific threat of anarchist activity, but they could try to do those things and the mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn told me a couple of days ago, they have information that anarchist groups are on the ground here.

They're monitoring them so they know they're here. It's a matter of tracking them. Trying to figure out who they are because they often blend in and then they create their own havoc once they're within these crowds. So that's the unpredictable factor here.

WHITFIELD: Interesting stuff. All right, thanks so much. Brian Todd, keep us posted throughout the weekend. Again, convention is beginning on Monday.

Meantime, Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, she is scheduled to speak at the convention on Tuesday now instead of Monday. The Romney camp decided to delay her speech by a day after discovering the broadcast networks would not be carrying the first night of the convention live.

Ann Romney has turned to be a pretty strong asset for her husband in this campaign and moving her to Tuesday night will ensure a larger audience for her prime time speech.

Vice President Joe Biden is also making a schedule change. He has canceled events in Tampa, Florida, on Monday because of Tropical Storm Isaac. Campaign officials say local law enforcement should stay focused on ensuring the public's safety during the storm.

All right, now to something a lot of people are worrying about even though it's the end of summer, you still kind of want to stay in shape. How about trying to keep those triceps in shape?

I get some tips from a workout queen and then advice on how you need to be eating as a follow-up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: Tobacco companies get a big win in a federal appeals court. The court says the companies do not have to place graphic images on packages warning people of the dangers of smoking.

A government mandate required tobacco companies to include the warnings, but now the Food and Drug Administration has been ordered to immediately revise those rules.

All right, in today's "Health For Her," getting your body and diet into shape. Recently, I teamed up with fitness expert and dietician -- dietitic technician that is Desiree Nathanson to find a cool way to kind of tighten up those triceps and to make sure that your diet gives you the energy for your workouts.


DESIREE NATHANSON, FITNESS EXPERT: I will start you off with doing a simple exercise to work the back of your arms. Yes. Yes. The back of our arms right there, the triceps and let me tell you, you're not going to get away from that jiggle.

That's just going to happen. That's your muscle. So let's build that muscle by doing what is called dips and so you're going to sit down on the edge of the bench, fingers facing away from the back of the bench right next to your hips is where you want them.

Scoot your butt of and you can kind of walk your feet out to get your hips away from the bench and this is a good starting position. Some people starting off may only get down an inch, which is fine and as you progress you can go down lower.

You look like that's a little easy for you and put your leg up and that makes it a little harder.


WHITFIELD: All right, now we're in from outside that workout. My arms are already feeling it just a little bit. Desiree is with me now. All right, let's talk about after you've done that workout, and once you've committed to the workout, a lot of people feel like, you know what?

I want to tone. I want to lose weight. So that means I want to cut back on what I'm eating. You say it's really just the opposite.

NATHANSON: Correct. You want to be fueling the body throughout the day. So from the moment you wake up, you know, give or take whatever you need to do in the morning, but from the moment you wake up, you want to have breakfast. You want to break the fast and then from then on you want to be eating every three hours throughout the day.

WHITFIELD: All right, now a lot of folks sometimes have a hard time figuring out how do I break down the caloric intake? If I'm taking in about 2,000 calories a day, what should be the proportion of carbs to protein to fat? How do I do that? NATHANSON: As far as a general recommendation, 45 percent to 65 percent of your calories should be from carbohydrates and then about 10 percent to 35 percent of your calories should be from protein and then 20 percent to 35 percent should be from fat.

WHITFIELD: And you should feel like your appetite is increased if you're working out more, if you're doing some of the exercises we did whether it be at the bench or whether it be just walking and you need to respond to that as opposed to trying to suppress your appetite.

NATHANSON: Exactly, because your calories need to increase as you do your activity.

WHITFIELD: Desiree Nathanson, thanks so much.

NATHANSON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Look forward to the next workout.

NATHANSON: Yes! I'm excited, too.

WHITFIELD: She's good. All right, find out a lot more about exercises and other fitness tips on Desiree's web site. It's

All right, storm-ravaged Haiti was dealing with flooding and the troubles that come with that in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac.

And a woman who is leading relief efforts in that nation tells us her concerns now.


WHITFIELD: All right, Lance Armstrong, facing the loss of his seven Tour De France titles, but his Live Strong Foundation to fight cancer is still intact.

An event happening today benefits his foundation. It's actually in Columbia, Maryland and our Athena Jones is there. So, Athena, what kind of reaction are you getting from people who are participating in the fact that he'll be banned from cycling and banned from triathlons worldwide?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. This 24-Hour bike ride where people are coming out to raise money for cancer research, we've talked to organizers and riders. They all say they support Lance Armstrong's decision to stop fighting the illegal doping charges, but they also believe him.

They say that he's been tested multiple times and they believe he's been clean the entire time. They believe all of this is a distraction from the important thing, which is the cancer research.

One question we had was whether or not all of this news would affect the amount of money that they're able to raise. Let's listen to what one of the organizers had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASIL LYBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, 24 HOURS OF BOOTY: Once we heard the news, we received so many messages from people that the resolve to fight was even greater to fight cancer and that's what he's inspired people to do, to get on a bike and raise funds to help those who need it, who need the advocacy and the patient services.

So I think it's something that on our end we'll see people getting more engaged. Over the last 24 hours, there has been $25,000 in donations that we've received.


JONES: And so you heard the organizer speak about $25,000 just here at this event. Lance Armstrong himself tweeted yesterday that between Thursday and Friday donations had gone up 25 times since the news.

So certainly it would appear that they're not too concerned that this is going to affect their fundraising. Certainly, there are people here who plan to ride, maybe not for all 24 hours, but certainly 22 of them, some of them will cover 300 miles -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, OK, that's pretty impressive. All right, thanks so much, Athena Jones. Lance Armstrong saying while he may be giving up his fight against USADA, the doping agency says he's still in the fight for his children, for his family. And still wants to become the most fit 40-year-old on the planet, he says.

All right, stories that we're watching right now. The coast guard is trying to figure out why a ferry ran aground in Boston Harbor this morning.

The ferry was headed to Province Town on Cape Cod. Well, it didn't take on water and there weren't any leaks. The passengers were transferred safely to another ferry. No injuries have been reported.

All right, you know that cool finger scrolling feature on your iPhone or perhaps you have a Samsung Fascinate or Galaxy. Well, Apple wins a major victory in federal court. It's their patent and Samsung shouldn't be free to use it.

A federal jury in the copyright infringement case ruled that Samsung has to now pay Apple more than $1 billion in damages. The ruling says Samsung wilfully violated Apple's patent in developing mobile products. Samsung says it will appeal.

We're going to get an update now on what is now TROPICAL STORM ISAAC. It has made its way past Haiti dumping an awful lot of rain and stirring up winds.

Now kind of hugging the Cuban coast and the feeling is it will cross over the Florida Straits and then make its way possibly into the Gulf of Mexico where we'll be threatening a number of coastline destinations there. Here with the latest is Dr. Rick Knabb of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. So Dr. Knabb, what can you tell us about the intensity or lack thereof of Isaac? Is it losing steam? It doesn't seem that it's on track to pick up steam.

DR. RICK KNABB, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, a little bit of both. It has been losing some of its strength last night and during the day today because of the interaction with Hispaniola and Cuba. I want to point out that it's still dumping some heavy rains in Hispaniola even though the center of circulation here is off the northern coast of Eastern Cuba, the rains behind that are still funnelling into Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

So still very concerned about the potential for flash floods and mudslides down there and it is a large circulation. We have tropical storm warnings in effect for much of the -- for all of the Bahamas and still down in Hispaniola and for the eastern two-thirds of Cuba, but the center of circulation is still pretty close to land.

It's a matter of how much it can get clear from Cuba over the next day or so and tap into the warm waters as it approaches the Florida Straits. We think gradual strengthening is what we're going to see.

But we can't guarantee that it's going to reach hurricane strength by the time it reaches Southern Florida or the Florida Keys, but that's what we're forecasting and what we want people to prepare for in the hurricane warning down there.

WHITFIELD: Of course, folks would love if it were to remain tropical storm and weaken, but because of those warm waters traditionally in the Gulf of Mexico that really can help churn things up and would most likely turn that tropical storm into a hurricane, wouldn't it?

KNABB: Sure. A lot of the models that we're looking at, even if they suggest to us that it's not going to strengthen rapidly between now and South Florida, Florida Keys, the environment that it would get into in the eastern Gulf of Mexico appears to be very supportive over warm waters.

Such that we could have a very significant hurricane in the eastern gulf early to mid next week and we're forecasting Category 2 here by Tuesday morning. Of course, that has uncertainties when you're talking three days out.

But something even stronger than Cat 2 not out of the question and tremendous amount of wind and storm surge. It's not just a wind machine, but a storm surge from the ocean can impact the Gulf of Mexico, everybody at Louisiana over to Florida needs to be preparing preliminarily for what we could see early next week.

WHITFIELD: Great and even three days out, it would give people that kind of opportunity to indeed prepare and get a plan in place. Dr. Rich Knabb, thanks so much. Appreciate that.

KNABB: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right, so let's talk about what that storm has done thus far. Early assessments are coming out of Haiti showing that there has been widespread damage because of what was Tropical Storm Isaac when it hit land there.

Tent camps as you're seeing right here, home to hundreds of thousands of people and still left homeless by that earthquake two years ago and now there are big concerns over the threat of waterborne illnesses and other troubles.

All of that have resulted from this tropical storm. Miriam Castenada is Haiti's director for the International Rescue Committee. She's joining us on the phone right now from Port-Au-Prince.

So first of all, Miriam, I understand you have had a chance to survey some of the damage and some of those tent cities and what have you seen?

MIRIAM CASTENADA, HAITI COUNTRY DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE (via telephone): Yes. We needed to go this morning to do some assessment for the damage and unfortunately, they're not very pretty. There is considerable damage done on tents.

There are some tents that were completely flattened. Some sanitation facilities disappeared. So we're working on the response that we're going to give to the people in the camp.

WHITFIELD: And so talk to me about the standing water. You said some tanks were flattened. The standing water can really help produce other illnesses and then at the same time, I guess more immediately, have you seen any injuries of people? How are people doing after all of this?

CASTENADA: For the moment, we only have the report of one person who died in this department. For the rest, one of the things that has to be commented on is people have remained calm. It's a shelter that's available and the people who have lost their tents are in the main provisionary or temporary emergency shelters that have become available in the last 24 hours.

WHITFIELD: OK, tell me about the concerns about the standing water and what kind of illnesses or diseases that you're now fearful of now that the brunt of the storm has passed.

CASTENADA: That was one of the concerns and we were providing people with the sanitation facilities and we have a hygiene promotion messages so they continue to practice good hygiene so that there is no risk of disease.

Unfortunately, these are large concentrations of people and it's difficult to maintain. However, we are going to be providing the services and we're trying to maintain the services that the people need.

WHITFIELD: Miriam Castenada, thanks so much with the International Rescue Committee joining us from Port-Au-Prince. All of the best and good luck in your rescue and assistance efforts.

All right, just two days before the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan try to get the campaign back on message.


WHITFIELD: You want to stay with CNN Sunday night for "Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and The Road to Power." A profile of the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time and on Monday live coverage of the GOP convention beginning at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

And ahead of the convention in Tampa, Florida, there's a whole lot of campaigning to be done. Mitt Romney and running mate, Paul Ryan fired up supporters today in Ohio by hammering their opponent on the economy. CNN's political editor, Paul Steinhauser, was there.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hi, Fred. You know, I guess the theme today was getting back on message for the Romney-Ryan campaign.

After a week of distractions, first the controversial comments from Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri who is the Senate nominee there on the Republican Side.

And then Mitt Romney himself making a joke yesterday in Michigan that brought back talk about the birther issue. Today, it was all about talking about the economy and taking the attack to President Obama.

Take a listen to Mitt Romney talk about the president and what he may say at his own convention in Charlotte.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He lays out all these wonderful things he's going to do. People are going to stop and say, but how will you do something different than last time?

They've experienced the last four years. They know if they'll re- elect him they'll get four more years of the same. It is not his words that people have to listen to.

It is his action and his record and if they look at that, they'll take him out of the office and put people into the office that will actually get America going again.


STEINHAUSER: Outside of the rally about 20 or 25 protesters going after Paul Ryan. They were chanting hands off our Medicare in reference to Paul Ryan's controversial plans to partially privatize Medicare. They also said Ryan go home.

Mitt Romney did make a joke at their expense in front of the crowd and they loved it. There was no talk, as you can imagine of the birther issue followed by yesterday's comments in Michigan about the birth certificate, which sparked a lot of uproar in the media.

This is probably the last time we're going to see Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on the same stage until Thursday night when they team up in Tampa, Florida at the Republican convention when Mitt Romney is nominated as the GOP presidential nominee -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Paul Steinhauser there in Ohio.

All right, remember the upstate New York bus monitor who was bullied by students. The 68-year-old Karen Klein is now making her mark by donating about $100,000 to the Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation, which she founded. The money will be used to fund various organizations and charities that focused on anti-bullying causes.

All right, you've heard of jet skiing, but how about jet boating? Yes. Right there on the river. You can do this in New Zealand. We'll take you there.


WHITFIELD: It's a beautiful place with tons of cool stuff to do from serene to adventurous even it does takes you roughly 20 hours or so to get there.

New Zealand, let's go right now with Rob Deeming of beginning with a lake that's not too far from Auckland.

ROB DEEMING, JETSETTER.COM: Lake Rotorua is a beautiful area around three hours south of Auckland. I definitely recommend taking the scenic route on your way there and stopping off at the wonderful cave system.

It's an underground system of caves. It's permanently illuminated by glow worms that live in the roof of the ceiling, which is always wonderful to see.

When you get to Rotorua itself, you will find yourself in the middle of New Zealand's geothermal area, which means that the temperature of the lake itself is warm and it's full of mud pools, spas and naturally occurring springs and so on.

It also means that one of the great things to do in the region is visit one of the great spas that you'll find there. I recommend the Polynesian spa, which is a collection of 27 naturally occurring geothermal pools.

As well as a wonderful selection of treatments available, which means that Polynesian spa is often voted as one of the world's very best spas in the world to visit.

WHITFIELD: Wow, and then there's Lake Okaricka Lodge at Labua.

DEEMING: That's right. That's definitely a place I would recommend staying. It feels much more like a private lakeside retreat for you, yourself and your family than it does feel like a hotel. It's a wonderful base for lots of water-based activities. It has its own private jetty as well as having a boat house and it's a wonderful place to explore the local surrounding lake whether by boat or fishing. A great place to sort of recover and relax alongside some of the spa treatments.

WHITFIELD: And those are beautiful surprises because I think New Zealand and adventure. A lot of people love to white water raft and this is apparently an incredible place in which to do so at the Kytuna River in particular. Why?

DEEMING: That's exactly right. So in New Zealand really is one of the great adventure capitals in the world. And white water rafting does particularly well there. In Kytuna itself, I took a wonderful trip there with the local operator, Kytuna Cascades, who took me on a great adventure down the river there.

The great thing about rafting is you don't need any experience to be able to take part. You just need to be enthusiastic. You have the ability to swim and the ability to pull on a life jacket and away you go.

WHITFIELD: OK, and then you're all drenched and wet from white water rafting and then you want to do mountain biking and hiking, too. Is it Talpo, is that the place to do that?

DEEMING: That's exactly right. So Lake Talpo is about an hour's drive away and it's a great place for the activities you talk about. I like to mountain bike when I'm there in the nearby Redwood National Park, which features around 160 kilometers of different trails ranging from the sedate and sedentary right through to the New Zealand national downhill track.

For those people with experience, bravado and really strong helmets so that's on the mountain biking side. There's also a great opportunity there to get involved with jet boating, which is fast becoming New Zealand's tourist attraction.

WHITFIELD: So not to be confused with jet skiing, what is jet boating?

DEEMING: That's exactly right. The super high-powered, high-speed boats that zoom around the network of lakes and rivers that you'll find in the area giving you an adrenaline rush, which is quite unlike any other.

I took my trip in the rapid jets in the local area who combine the adrenaline rush with also a more scenic approach to exploring the local landscape including the opportunity to see two or three different film sets from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy as well as the upcoming hobbit film, which is quite the thrill.

WHITFIELD: Doesn't that look so cool? Remember, you can get all kinds of travel tips and ideas from the folks at Jetsetter. Just head to Sign me up.

All right, a crooked cop, a bike messenger and a dangerous package all are ingredients for a movie, it's not real life.

A movie blockbuster perhaps, our movie critic tells us if "Premium Rush" lives up to the hype.


WHITFIELD: All right, whether you want to go out or stay in this weekend, there are pretty great movie options for you. "Premium Rush" is opening in theatres and it stars a young bike messenger who picks up a very dangerous package.

But perhaps you'd rather curl up on the couch with a good movie say "Bernie," a movie about a very unusual friendship, that's out on DVD. So here to help you decide is Grae Drake, senior editor at

Good to see you, back in L.A. We had the pleasure of having you in studio last weekend. So we're having grey withdrawals, but here you're back by way of satellite so we're happy about that.

All right, so let's begin with "Premium Rush" and it is about this bike messenger and it's kind of adventurous and it's fast and the editing is really cool so let's take a quick peek.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me the envelope!




WHITFIELD: Yes. That's the young guy that was in "Third Rock From The Sun," right? All right, so Grae, who was after him? What's going on here?

GRAE DRAKE, SENIOR EDITOR, ROTTENTOMATOES.COM: Well, when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought that Joseph Gordon Lovett signed on to do it just because he wanted to ride his bike around for a month and get paid for it.

But this movie is filled with such a crazy kinetic energy that you barely have time to realize that it is so random and weird that it almost makes no sense. It is so much fun, I was so shocked.

WHITFIELD: Really? The editing was interesting. The digitization, you know what I mean. It looked pretty funky and cool.

DRAKE: It is. Everything about it is funky and cool. It is so surprising. Now my favorite part about this is the Chinese gaming is recognized for the first time since the "Joy Luck Club."

Because Michael Shannon plays a crooked cop that has a mah-jong gambling problem and it makes next to no sense, but I loved it. I couldn't believe how all of these things added up to such a fantastic mess. It was great.

WHITFIELD: It's reminded me of the Will Smith movie way back in the day, but it's different. Not to get the producers upset with me, but anyway, what did you rate it on your tomato meter?

DRAKE: Well, critics are loving this movie and it is absolutely doing well, 75 percent on the tomato meter. That is a crazy high number for a movie that kind of came out of nowhere.

WHITFIELD: Really? OK, all right, we're going to be looking for that one. You can check it out this weekend in fact.

OK, so say you want to stay at home and have your little staycation movie event. You can get a DVD and the latest one is "Bernie." What's "Bernie" about?

DRAKE: Jack Black plays Bernie who is a much-loved man in his small town in Texas and he develops a friendship with the lady in town that everybody hates.

Not Bernie, though. He takes a chance and he befriends her and then this movie takes a sharp left turn and becomes a murder mystery.

WHITFIELD: Hence that blood spat on that first page. Was that Matthew McConaughey and Shirley Mclane?

DRAKE: Yes. What's great about this film is that --

WHITFIELD: Matthew has his shirt on -- just saying. Go ahead.

DRAKE: You know, Matthew McConaughey has left his shirt on in the past couple of movies and I'm not even angry about him because he's so darn good.


DRAKE: There's so much to love in this movie and Jack Black is spectacular. Now Richard Link Letter directed it and it's a great mix of re-enactment versus actual documentary and the best part about "Bernie" is that people telling this real-life story are the actual people from Texas.

Now I'm from Texas, and let me tell you that we love to gossip, y'all, and so this is the best movie. It is so much fun and Jack Black is as good as you have never seen him. He's amazing.

WHITFIELD: And McConaughey lives in Austin, Texas, so there it goes another Texan connection. OK, so fresh or rotten on your meter?

DRAKE: So fresh. This movie is so fresh it is at 91 percent, which means everyone has to see it not only for the great performances by the actors, but by Matthew Mcconaughey's real-life mom and he gets his personality from somewhere.

WHITFIELD: So maybe this is one of the cases of, you know, some of these do better on DVD than they actually do out in the theatre. So with that 91 percent fresh rating, it's bound to do really well. All right, thanks so much.

Grae Drake, thanks so much. Good to see you. Always, remember you can get all of Grae's movie grades at

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