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Severe Weather Throughout Parts of the United States; New video Out of Myanmar; Obama Already Sounds Like Nominee in Oregon Speech; Police Become Friends on Social Networks; Flower Advice for Mother's Day

Aired May 10, 2008 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: All right, at this hour, we're keeping our eyes out for bouts of severe weather. You're looking at live pictures from Atlanta, Little Rock, Arkansas, as the afternoon and evening progresses. Dangerous storms could rattle parts of the south. That has been the threat all day long.
Jackie has been watching developments because not only are we talking about threats, there have been warnings and watches in place in various parts of the south.


So far just one tornado warning. That was earlier near Fayetteville and Arkansas Doppler radar indicated. But we've had no reports on the ground yet today. But we had a lot of reports of large hail, couple of inches in diameter. That can cause a lot of damage.

Now we think the threat will be increasing through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. The threat is very real and it's going to be ongoing. This is going to be affecting millions of people.

There you can see the radar picture and you can see the tornado watches. A watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop or for tornadoes to occur. And there you can see the watches we're talking about covering down here from Louisiana extending all the way up into parts of the Missouri.

Now, one area we're real concerned about here is north western Arkansas and eastern parts of Oklahoma. We have a line of storms beginning to develop. Some of these are severe. Severe thunderstorm warnings in effect including Fort Smith. And these are primarily hail makers. As they cross the state line and move into Arkansas, the atmosphere here is more unstable. We could see the storms strengthen as they head off to the east. Little Rock, you're doing OK right now, but in a couple of hours from now, you could be seeing extremely nasty storms.

We also have a tornado watch in effect across central parts of Georgia on into South Carolina. Notice the Atlanta metro area. You're included. Maybe the northern fringe is not in it. Keep in mind that storms aren't always confined to a perfect little square box. It could possibly stretch farther up to the north. We'll be monitoring that throughout the day today. Here we go. This is the big threat area as we continue throughout the day today. This will be ongoing through the afternoon of the make sure you've got your NOAA weather radio handy. It will be your best friend tonight. It will wake you up when the sirens go off and get you to an interior room and get to the basement if you can.

Storms continue overnight into tomorrow morning into tomorrow afternoon. And we'll be watching places like eastern Alabama and Georgia again, South Carolina again, on up into eastern parts of North Carolina for tomorrow.

So a very large storm system. Lots of different pieces of energy coming out this with this one, Fredericka. We'll be on top of it here and bring you up to date.

If we get anything on the ground, Fredricka, we'll break in and give you the information.

WHITFIELD: Jacqui, is it just me or has this been a particularly aggressive spring season?

JERAS: This is the time of year. Not really. I don't think our numbers have been anywhere out of the ordinary. We have a lot of deadly storms, maybe a number of fatalities have been up a little bit. In May, we see more tornadoes than any other month across the U.S.

WHITFIELD: It just seems like it's one after the next as each day passes. Jacqui, thanks so much.

JERAS: Sure.

WHITFIELD: Of course, it has been indeed very rocky for many parts of Arkansas. More than 10,000 people there have filled out forms for storm-related disaster assistance.

Susan Candiotti is live for us now in Little Rock where another storm could possible hit again -- Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. You could say that folks in Arkansas are saying enough is enough already. It has been just a dreadful winter and spring between rain, flooding and a series of tornadoes that have hit this state hard. $24 million in federal aid so far has been received by the state of Arkansas and probably more will be coming this way.

For the second weekend in a row, several parts of the state, as Jacqui explained, are once again under a tornado watch. Here in Little Rock this day, along the Arkansas River, it is overcast and dreary and people are bracing for the possibility of more.

Just last weekend, as we indicated, seven people were killed throughout the state and businesses and homes and churches destroyed. You might have seen some of it when we were earlier this day in the central part of Arkansas in the town of Damascus on the south side. They have months and months of repairs that are just under way now and they have a lot of work ahead of them. They have applied for aid to fix up from that storm last weekend and still have not yet received word from the federal government about whether they will get it.

So the rest of this day, late afternoon into the evening, people here are prepared for the possibility of severe thunderstorms, hail and again, more tornadoes. and they are pleading, please, enough is enough.

Back to you, Fredericka.

WHITFIELD: Definitely want it to all cease so folks can piece their lives back together again.

Susan Candiotti, thank you so much.

Remember, you can also send us your weather pictures or video perhaps go to Or you can type into your cell phone. Don't put your life in jeopardy to get images to send our way.

Meantime, as tens of thousands of cyclone survivors in Myanmar still wait for relief, the country's military junta is focused on preserving its power. That's the junta's leader, General Tonshway (ph). Voting today for a new constitution that could cement his leadership role.

The referendum success is a foregone conclusion. It has been a week since Cyclone Nargis struck, killing untold thousands and leaving countless of people in horrifying states of depression, depression and desperation.

After blocking international aid, the junta finally allowed relief flights to land today. Even though it lacks expertise, the military is taking the lead in getting the aid supposedly where it is need.

CNN has a reporter in Myanmar. He just filed a report that shows in graphic detail what parts of the country are facing and it's not for the faint of heart. Some of the images you're about to see are disturbing.


UNDERCOVER CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the kinds of images the military rulers in Myanmar don't want you to see, dead bodies decomposing in the water days after Cyclone Nargis ravaged this southern Irrawaddy Delta region of this country.

This video was obtained by CNN from a villager refused to disclose his name or the name of his village out of fear for government repression. This was particular segment was filmed on May 5th, three days after the storm.

Other parts are one of the few firsthand accounts of the cyclone and its aftermath. And they show the absence of government troops and lack of aid as the villagers take matters into their own hands, struggling to get on one of the few boats taking them out of the area ravaged by the storm. These pictures were also taken on May 5th, three days after the cyclone. As Nargis made landfall, those filming this video comment on the force of the winds.

The utter destruction becomes evident in the immediate aftermath. The villager who provided this video said he doesn't know exactly how many people were killed but scores died in his town alone.

As the people begin cleaning up, it doesn't take them long to find some of the dead buried under collapsed houses or drowned by flood water brought on by the storm.

The villager who shot this video says so far the people here received no aid from Myanmar's military government and that some started private initiatives to bring food and water and medicine into the disaster area.

CNN has no way of independently verifying those claims. But international aid groups are heavily criticizing Myanmar rulers who they say are dragging feet while people in villages like this one are dying.


WHITFIELD: That story, just filed from our reporter who is in an undisclosed location in Myanmar.

With more on the story now CNN's Josh Levs is here in the Atlanta headquarters and at the international desk where we continue to work all kinds of sources to get as much information as we can, given that it is difficult for any Western correspondent to get in and out of Myanmar and to really get the truth.

JOSH LEVS, CNN NEW CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And our folks are doing a great job over there.

And here at the international desk, we're worker 24/7 on this story and have been since it happened. We have new satellite images. We'll start with this screen and take you on a little trip. Let's get this video going in the control room. We're going to take you into Myanmar. I want everyone to understand where it is.

You have the Bay of Bengal here. The part in red is the worst hit area by this cyclone. It's right there. We're going way in. You can see the devastation from the satellite image. We'll pull out. You can get a broader sense in Asia. Up here, India and over here Vietnam, Laos, Thailand. This right here is the worst hit area in Myanmar.

Now, a brand-new image we just unveiled today. I want to take you to next image that shows a village and shows the destruction. Let's look at this. It's a satellite view of a village. What I'm going to do is mark for you where the river was. This is before- picture. I put my finger alone the river. That was the river before the cyclone came along. As we keep watching, look at that. This entire thing is water. That is the river. What actually happened is all of this was washed out and even after it receded all of that. , I'm leaving the line up there. I want you to see the stark difference. That was the river. This is all water now. This is a village that's been washed out, a lot of vegetation gone, much of it destroyed in general.

We also have video from the ground that we're going to show you. A lot of this was originally mangrove forest. What a lot of environmental authorities say is the mangrove forest was in a position to help push back some of this water once upon a time. A lot of it though, Fred, has been replaced with farming, particularly rice farming.

So what we're seeing, the kind of devastation we've got going on right there, a very poor area that doesn't have the kind of national natural environmental protections that might have helped protect it to some extent. And it's an area where people weren't even living a while back. There are a lot of people out there, Fred, who should not be living out there because it is particularly in danger. There you go.

WHITFIELD: You touched on the whole rice farming. It's a major, a major commodity there. Now, after this?

LEVS: Well, because we've been talking about the food shortage in general around the world. Right?


LEVS: You want to hear something depressing? U.N. authorities are saying they don't think the cyclone in Myanmar will have a big effect on rice shortages worldwide. But it's for a very depressing reason. The reason is they are saying that over several decades that the junta has had control of Myanmar, they have already done so much damage to that country's rice supply that losing about two-thirds of the rice farm inside Myanmar won't be enough to do major damage to the world. They've already lost so much over recent years.

You can see in the picture and what we've got right here behind me, such a devastated area. It's bad for Myanmar. And it's bad the world. Not a massive rice supply though lost, Fred

WHITFIELD: Wow, that is incredible.

LEVS: It's incredible.

WHITFIELD: It's devastating on so many levels.

LEVS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right, Josh Levs, thank you.

LEVS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, hot on the campaign trail in this country, the Democratic candidates push towards Tuesday when voters go to the polls in West Virginia. Obama closing in on Clinton's superdelegate lead.

And North Korea and the controversy over nuclear weapons. We'll get an exclusive look inside one of North Korea's nuclear facility.

Plus, from Texas, the president and first lady gear up for a Texas-size wedding. About three hours from now president Bush will be walking his daughter, Jenna, down the aisle. We'll have details.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back to the "NEWSROOM." We're watching severe weather and potentially severe weather in the Severe Weather Center. There's Jacqui Jeras to the left of your screen. She's working hard checking out the sources trying to determine where the tornado watches and warnings might be now. We know there are reports of hail in some parts of the country and then, look at this. Live tower shots out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Parts of Arkansas have already been hit hard earlier in the week by tornadoes and they are on radar again today.

Also on radar, politics. Barack Obama is campaigning today in Oregon. The state's primaries are a week from Tuesday. He has one eye on primary voters and another on superdelegates. He is now within two superdelegates of Clinton now.

At a town hall meeting in Bend, Oregon, Obama was already sounding like the Democrat's chosen candidate.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that the American people were tired of a politics that was about tearing each other down. They wanted a politics that was about lifting the country up. That I was convinced that the American people were tired of spin and P.R. They wanted someone to talk straight to them about how we were going to solve problems.

And most of all, most of all, I was convinced the American people wanted to be able to come together and be reminded of what we hope we hold in common, that we're not just a collection of red states and blue states, that we're not just black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor. That we are Americans. When we can unify, when we come together and recognize those common hopes and common dreams and common struggles that we have, there's nothing that can stop us.


WHITFIELD: As for her part, Senator Hillary Clinton is appealing to home state voters for a more campaign cash. She told supporters in New York the race is far from over.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because what I hear and what I see is all about how we're going to finish this nominating contest, which we will do. Then we will have a nominee and we will have a unified Democratic party and we will stand together and we will defeat John McCain in November and go onto the White House.


WHITFIELD: But first things first. West Virginia is the next battle ground on the primary calendar. Voters there head to the poll on Tuesday. Obama has the momentum right now, but West Virginia could send a sobering message.

CNN's senior political analyst, William Schneider, Bill Schneider, joins us live from New York.

It almost sounds like it's a shoe-in, West Virginia for Clinton, yes?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Some of the polls indicate she's going to win West Virginia easily. The latest polls have her winning by two-thirds of the vote with Obama 23 percent of the vote. Sounds like if he's about to wrap up the nomination Democrats should be falling in line behind him.

Look at the polls. She's winning nearly three to one in West Virginia. It's the kind of state that has the kinds of voters, the kinds of Democrats that have been supporting Hillary Clinton throughout this primary campaign, older more rural Democrats. It's a state with very few African-American voters. She's been ahead there for a long time.

It'll be interesting to see now that in the past few days the talk has been how he has the nomination all but wrapped up, whether we're going to see more West Virginia Democrats get on board.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Well, interesting. Even as Senator Obama said earlier in the week, West Virginia and Kentucky, Senator Clinton is likely to grab those. But then there's Oregon. He seems to be putting a lot of stock in Oregon. Why?

SCHNEIDER: Because Oregon has the kind of voters that he usually gets. I'm not talking about African-Americans. It has a small African-American population and affluent voters and well-educated voters and high-tech Democratic voters and they have been voting in large numbers for Barack Obama. And they are mostly white voters. It is a state somewhat like Maryland and other states where he has done very well.

I should point something else unusual about Oregon. Oregon doesn't have any polling places. He's campaigning there. But he had to stop and remind voters, when he said, when you go to the polls Tuesday. Then he stopped and said wait a minute, when you mail in your ballots which have to be mailed in by Tuesday. It's a state in which elections are held entirely by mail.

That raises some question like what about the security and secrecy of the ballot. What if you mail in your ballot a week beforehand and something dramatic happens in the campaign, you can't get the ballot back? Those are the rules there.

FREDRICK: Oh, my gosh. Yes. And of course, it may take a week before they are able to count everything.

Let's talk about the super delegates and help us understand the math. Apparently, there are a lot of defections going on. I mean, a lot of once-Clinton supporters are now saying Obama has got my vote. This happened again today.

Now apparently Obama is, what, within two, I guess, superdelegates --striking distance from Hillary Clinton. In the end, as we talk about the nomination, how important is this superdelegate vote going to be?

SCHNEIDER: The superdelegates are there to ratify the decision of the primary voters. Technically, they could reverse the decision. Hillary Clinton has been arguing for months now, the superdelegates can vote any way they please.

What we're seeing happen is superdelegates were undecided and some superdelegates who were supporting Hillary Clinton are now moving towards Barack Obama because they feel, in a Democratic process, their obligation is to ratify the decision of the primary voters unless they have a reason, in good conscience, why they cannot. And they are going to have to explain that reason to the voters of their state or district. And at the moment they don't seem to have that.

So they're saying, if the primary voters want Barack Obama, we're there to make sure he gets the nomination.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ratification. The first time I'm hearing that. That's why I count on you, Bill.


WHITFIELD: You help us all get so much smarter on this.

All right, thanks so much. Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: All right, staking out their space on MySpace. Police departments are joining popular social sites to protect their new friends from predators.


WHITFIELD: This hurts everybody. More pain at the pump as the price of gas goes up once again. AAA says the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is now -- drum roll, please -- $3.69. Another new record. It's two cents over the previous high of $3.67 a gallon.

The FBI has released surveillance video of last Sunday's pipe bombing at the Federal courthouse in San Diego. No one was wounded but the blast was so powerful that it scattered nails and shrapnel two blocks away. Investigators hope the images will prompt anyone with information to come forward. They think it may be linked to a blast last month at the San Diego FedEx building.

Internet predators beware. That's the message police departments around the country are trying to send as they add to their online arsenal.

CNN's Brianna Keeler reports.


BRIANNA KEELER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On any given day, you can find Kelly Evans on, one of the Internet's most popular social networking sites. But online predators are also on sites like this.

KELLY EVANS, MYSPACE.COM USER: I'd say I get about two to three requests each day from random people. They'll send you a message. You're really pretty. Do you want to chat? I think they seem very creepy. They are old, often in their 40s.

KEELER: A student at Virginia's George Mason University, Kelly ignores the solicitations. But she worries young people don't, and could unknowingly let pedophiles into the network.

EVANS: It's almost a popularity thing of how much friends you can have in your friends network. I think that people are a lot more willing to add random people to have as many friends as possible.

KEELER: That's why Kelly gave the coveted title of number one friend on her MySpace page to the Arlington County Police Department. She urged friends, including teenagers she used to baby sit, to do the thing.

BRETT BUTLER, LIEUTENANT, ARLINGTON COUNTY, VA. POLICE: They'll see the Arlington Police patch and what we're hoping is it is almost a beware of the dog sign.

KEELER (on camera): Through MySpace, kids can contact the Arlington County police anonymously to report concerns. And officers check the e-mails daily. It is catching on in police departments across the country.

(voice-over): All 50 states are partnered with MySpace and Facebook to flag users who change their listed ages, raising suspicions of online predators posing as kids. The sites also agree to sends warnings when the child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult.

On MySpace, Kelly Evans feels her new friend is protecting her.

Remember how she was getting two or three friend requests from strangers each day? Since she added the police department as her number one friend a week ago...

EVANS: I haven't had any random friend requests in the past week.

KEELER: Brianna Keeler, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.


WHITFIELD: In the meantime, we're on the severe weather watch. Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is coming back with the latest on a very stormy Saturday.

JERAS: Things are really popping right now too, Fredricka, especially in eastern Oklahoma and north western parts of the Arkansas. We'll show you the live Doppler radar and where the greatest threat will be ongoing overnight and into tomorrow. Your forecast is coming up.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much Jacqui.

Meantime, if you're getting mom a bouquet, make sure any tears you see are tears of joy and not something else.

Medical correspondent, Judy Fortin, has more on flowers and allergies and Mother's Day.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Worried your mother's day flowers will wreak havoc on her allergies? If it's pollen that has you concerned, don't be.

DR. CAROL WIGGINS, ALLERGIST: Most are decorative flowers that are used in cut flowers are not very allergic. Their pollens are very heavy and sticky and they are not windborne. Their pollens tend to be born by insects.

FORTIN: While pollen might not be the culprit there are some health risks when giving the gift of flowers.

WIGGINS: People who have underlying allergies may find the scent from flowers is an irritant to their underlying allergies. So in some people, the scent from flowers may trigger sneezing or runny nose.

FORTIN: That's a condition this florist, Patricia Moscoso, works hard to avoid.

PATRICIA MOSCOSO, FLORIST, BUCKHEAD BLOOMS: We offer different options like orchids and calla lilies, hydrandrias. And they are non- scented flowers. So we'll make arrangements according to the clients' needs.

FORTIN: And shies away from?

MOSCOSO: Peonies. They're beautiful but they're very fragrant. And the lilacs are also scented. So that's something you want to stay away from.

FORTIN: Just a few flower facts to ensure the only tears you're Mother's Day bouquet is creating are tears of joy.

Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.



WHITFIELD: Still not convinced? Well here's another look at a vivid example of the power of a tornado. This surveillance tape shot two days ago when a twister roared through northern Alabama caught these images. Those cars being tossed around like they are nothing. Pretty dangerous place to be as well. So now you know how powerful a tornado could be just in case you weren't so sure. Jacqui Jeras has been following all of this very severe weather over the past few weeks, it seems. Kind of losing count of how many weeks it seems some type of tornado or hail has been sweeping through the south and midsection.


WHITFIELD: Meantime, we're in the international desk area here in the NEWSROOM. We want to update you on the cyclone and what now seven days after that cyclone hit Myanmar, the devastation is still ongoing. It has been a week killing untold thousands and leaving countless people in horrifying states of desperation. After blocking international aid, the country's military junta allowed relief flights to land today. The military insists on taking a lead in getting the help where it is needed even though it seems to lack the expertise. Also today the Junta went through with it's planned referendum on a new constitution meant to bolster its leadership role.

Well western reporters are not welcome in Myanmar. But CNN's Dan Rivers managed to slip into Myanmar. He was able to do some reporting. Now he's out of the country which is why he's able to bring us this report on exactly what he experienced while trying to show the world what the people are enduring.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The furious winds of a cyclone have ripped apart towns and villages. Tens of thousands were dead and the airport had been shut for two days. We were on the first flight in when it reopened and we were shocked at what we saw. Yangon was choked with fallen trees. There were plenty of soldiers, but many seemed to be standing doing nothing. Then there were the lines for fuel. Finding fuel for our car was also a nightmare and all the while we had to careful we weren't being followed by the authorities.

(on camera): It just goes on and on and on for miles really.

(voice-over): There was limited electricity and communications were fraught, but we were able to report on what's happening. We had to change hotels every day. Now my reports were on air, I was a marked man. (on camera): Having to sneak in and out of the hotels really backstairs so that they don't know we're here. We understand the authorities are now looking for me specifically. Someone's coming. There were two guys basically sitting in a car outside our hotel. Looked like they could have been sitting, waiting and watching. It's difficult not to get completely paranoid and ridiculous because you feel like everyone is potentially military intelligence and they're all looking for you.

(voice-over): We spent more than eight hours driving to the worst affected area through torrential rain which was compounding the misery of survivors huddled in the debris of their own home. The roads are terrible. There are also numerous check points, we're forced to find another way in. We finally manage to get to the hard of the delta where the devastation was appalling. We narrowly avoided being arrested and we were effectively on the run.

(on camera): I almost got caught in the last town. The police have my photo and they took the rest of my team in and were questioning them and showing them my photo and they were let go. And I caught up with them afterward. We then drove down, we hit check points, we got turned around. We decided basically that we were going to get caught so we pulled off the road and we've taken a boat up here and we're now stuck in the middle of the Irrawaddy delta with about two Snickers bars and a fuel to last us.

(voice-over): We tried to push further into the delta. Just after this video was shot, we're detained by the police. Somehow, we talk our way out and decide it's time for me to leave. I'm left feeling angry that Junta spent so much time hunting us when the bodies of tens of thousands are decomposing. We even filed bodies being carried and unceremoniously dumped in the river. Perhaps this is why the regime is so keen to keep us out. Dan Rivers, CNN, Myanmar.


WHITFIELD: Harrowing moments there for Dan Rivers. Meantime the suffering continues there in Myanmar. Well earlier in the week, I spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. His top priority is Myanmar, but he's also concerned about a number of other trouble spots around the world.


BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Core members of the U.N. assessment coordination team have already been issued a visa and they are there.

WHITFIELD: Have they actually been able to deliver?

KI-MOON: Our team are already walking in Myanmar.

WHITFIELD: But have they been able to put food in the mouths of anyone?

KI-MOON: Yes, they have been walking to deliver as much as they can.

WHITFIELD: How frustrating is this for you personally that this is a great humanitarian crisis and there are others that the World Food Programme is committed to serving, whether it be Haiti where people are living off a dollar of day and they complain of feeling Clorox hunger, which is being so hungry that it feels as though they are ingesting Clorox. Or whether it's Somalia, people dying over the struggle of access to food. Can the U.N. meet all of these needs?

KI-MOON: There is some limitations in practical terms. However, we will continue to urge the country's concern in this case the Myanmar authorities to take care of their own people. Myanmar is one of the poor countries and they do not have much capacity to handle this crisis cases by themselves. That is why United Nations and all international community are willing to provide assistance. Now the Myanmese government to be flexible and be ready to receive all of this outpouring aid from the international community.

WHITFIELD: As secretary general, I know you have committed to make security a priority in Africa. When we talk about Zimbabwe and still uncertain is who is president, who won that election, how involved is the U.N. willing to be? How much pressure do you want to put on the African union for instance to say, all right, let's get to the bottom of who is president of this country. Because there too, you also have food crisis, continued turmoil and violence.

KI-MOON: I have been monitoring and involving in this situation very closely. I have been talking over the phone with the many African leaders here in Atlanta to urge them to take necessary measures. First of all, I'm deeply concerned about the political motivated violence taking place in Zimbabwe, which make political situations very worrisome. And there are many displaced persons and there is a very serious humanitarian situations taking place there. I've been talking to African Union president and African Union chair person as well as --

WHITFIELD: Do you have confidence the African Union would do something? If they could, wouldn't they have already?

KI-MOON: They are doing their best efforts. As far as I understand that I was told that the president of the South Africa is going to visit the southern African development community is going to dispatch approval for experts to talk with Zimbabwe government. And I'm mobilizing all possible influence as well as a political influence.

WHITFIELD: Last question, back to Myanmar, real quick. At what point or what timetable have you personally set or the U.N. set that if we're unable to get food to these people by XYZ date, we will consider this a grave failure?

KI-MOON: We have lost several very vital few days at the outbreak of this cyclone. So this is already very late for the international community to take urgent first actions. Now before it is too late, I would again urge and appeal to the Myanmese authorities to be flexible in dealing with this humanitarian issue with a strong sense of urgency.

WHITFIELD: And just so I'm clear, what is the urgent action? Just so I'm clear, what is urgent action? What does that mean?

KI-MOON: First I talk to senior general of Myanmar and I'll try to talk with whoever influential leaders in the region and then mobilizing all possible --

WHITFIELD: If talking doesn't work then --

KI-MOON: We'll have to continue on this talk with the Myanmese government.


WHITFIELD: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon there. Meantime, we know you may want to help. So at, we have a special page on the devastation in Myanmar, complete with links to agencies organizing help for the region. It's a chance for you to help impact your world. Meantime, until now it has been North Korea's shadowy underbelly.


WHITFIELD: All right, we want to check in with Jacqui Jeras because of a new dangerous weather watch that you've got to tell us about.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we told you things were going to get worse as we progress throughout the afternoon and into the evening. And now we have a new watch. Now this is an area that has already been under a watch over the last couple of hours in southern parts of Arkansas. But they canceled this watch.

If we could our switcher, actually, over to what is it GR111 please? It will show you the watch that I'm talking about. So if control room could please take GR111. There you can see it. See the Little Rock area down there? And extending down into really the southern two thirds of the state? There it is there, thank you. This is what we call a PDS watch, or a particularly dangerous situation. This includes Texarkana, over towards the Greenville area, corner cuts the Memphis area as well, including Little Rock.

A PDS watch is worse than just a regular old tornado watch. What it means is that not only do we expect the threat of tornadoes, but we expect very destructive supercell types of tornadoes, the ones that stand out alone all ahead of everything else, take all of the energy. The EF threes, fours and fives that stay on the ground for a very long period of time.

So a dangerous situation developing and continuing to get worse as we head through the afternoon. So a PDS watch, Fredricka, for about the southern half or two thirds of Arkansas, including the Little Rock area. And of course, we've got our Susan Candiotti there as well, so she'll be helping us track these storms. WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much for that update. And of course we'll get more as it happens from you, Jacqui. Thank you so much.

Meantime straight ahead, the first family getting ready to welcome their first son-in-law.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had to face some very difficult spending decisions and I've had to conduct sensitive diplomacy. That's called planning for a wedding


WHITFIELD: All that planning certainly pays off, doesn't it? As the president's daughter gets ready to tie the knot on the ranch. The gown, the guests, the groom. We've got details for you, straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: All right, so the first family wants to keep the event low-key. Is that possible? But a severe case of wedding fever is certainly sweeping Crawford, Texas. That's where President Bush's daughter Jenna ties the knot tonight at the family ranch.

Elaine Quijano is there. Not inside where the wedding is taking place, but she's in Crawford.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is the daughter of the president. He, the son of a well-connected Virginia Republican. After meeting in 2004 while working on her father's re- election bid, Jenna Bush and Henry Hager say "I do" in Crawford this weekend on the president's 1600-acre ranch.

BUSH: I had to face some very difficult spending decisions and I've had to conduct sensitive diplomacy. That's called planning for a wedding, la boda.

QUIJANO: The plans are largely under wraps, but they call for gathering by a lake in front of an altar and a four-foot high cross hewn from Texas limestone.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: This is the time when wild flowers are all blooming and I think it will be a very, very lovely wedding and it'll be very like Jenna and Henry.

QUIJANO: More than 200 guests are expected.

JENNA BUSH, BRIDE-TO-BE: All relatives, our families are really kind of big. Half family and then half very close friends.

QUIJANO: Not all of Jenna Bush's friends will be on hand, though. DOUG WEAD, AUTHOR, "ALL THE PRESIDENT'S CHILDREN": Because, according to them, she would be afraid of their behavior.

QUIJANO: Doug Wead is a former aid to George H.W. Bush and author of "All the President's Children." He says unlike the pageantry of White House weddings past, like that of Tricia Nixon's in 1971, the Texas ceremony will take place away from the glare of the media spotlight.

WEAD: The Bushes are very private. It's a time of war. It's a time of economic struggle. This president has high negatives right now. It's much more of a low-key event.

QUIJANO: And for the couple, another consideration.

WEAD: They know that they don't own the White House, that they can't go back, but Crawford, Jenna and Henry can walk through the moonlight and hold hands and say this is where we were married and it will always be theirs.

QUIJANO: The first lady's office is keeping a tight lid on specifics, but the bride did reveal dress details to "Vogue" magazine, describing her gown as an Oscar de la Renta creation made of organza with embroidery and matte beading.

L. BUSH: I'm very, very excited. It is a very interesting passage of life when you get to that time in your life when your first child is getting married and we're getting for us, our first son.

QUIJANO: And already the first lady is joking about names for possible grandchildren down the road.

L. BUSH: George, Georgia, Georgina, Georgette.


QUIJANO: Now as for the ceremony itself, it's likely we are not going to get any kind of readout until tomorrow. That is when President Bush and the first lady are going to be leaving for Washington. But before they do at the airport, they are expected some remarks on camera to reporters. And we are told as well at some point tomorrow, Fredricka, we don't have a time, but at some point the White House is planning to release at least one, we're hoping for more, photos of the actual ceremony.

WHITIFELD: At least one? Good golly, this is secretive. Well I understand that Henry Hager may never forget his wedding day, because isn't he also celebrating his 30th birthday this weekend?

QUIJANO: It was last night in fact. This was all part of the really official start of the wedding weekend. There was a bridal lunch yesterday in a town nearby about an hour or so, hour and a half or so away from Crawford called Salado. That is where Mrs. Bush, where Jenna and Barbara, the twins, and members, the female members of the wedding party gathered. And there was a rehearsal dinner after that. Essentially, a big party where all 200 plus guests were invited. It was a very big event. We don't have any pictures of that either though.

WHITFIELD: Very big and still very private. All right, Elaine Quijano, thanks so much from Crawford.

All right, thanks for joining us in the NEWSROOM. The "BALLOT BOWL" is next.