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Olympic Highlights; Tropical Storm Fay; Faith and Politics

Aired August 17, 2008 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Batteries, generators, bottled water. Floridians know the drill. They stock up and batten down as tropical storm Fay heads their way.
Precious memories of golden times. Olympians of yesteryear reunite for the Beijing games.

And faith, religion and politics. The presidential candidates are quizzed by one of the nation's most prominent pastors.

Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield and are you in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Winds are picking up and that means it is time to tie things down in south Florida key west and the rest of the state are preparing for tropical storm Fay. It is already a killer storm. Not a hurricane yet. But both forecasters and residents are expecting that it will be. Florida's governor has already declared a state of emergency.


VOICE OF GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, FLORIDA: It's important that as people start to migrate north and out of the Florida keys, that they stay calm, that they stay relaxed. But be vigilant and listen to the local officials, which is another important thing I think for all Floridians, as the storm continues to approach us, pay attention to your local news. Make sure you have a battery-operated radio. Make sure that you have three days of water and again, go to and get all the tips and information that you might need.


WHITFIELD: So, right now let's look at the storm's location. Cuba. Knocking on Havana's door is what Fay is doing. Likely tracking northward towards the Florida keys. CNN is your hurricane headquarters. Before, during and after the storm, meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is on top of all of it in the severe weather center. Again it is tropical storm right now but it threatens to build that kind of hurricane strength. Right?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it does. I don't think it is going to happen until it makes its way across Cuba though. It is offshore. The center of circulation is somewhere down here, real tough to pick it out on satellite because it is really kind of sort of disorganized, believe it or not. It is not a real symmetrical storm. You know, a lot of times tropical storms will see that perfectly kind of round structure with all the intensity right in middle. We're starting to see more of that center building a little bit so we may get some strengthening here, but I don't think there is necessarily enough time before it crosses over the island of Cuba. It is probably in these real warm bath waters in the mid to upper 80s where we'll start to see more of that intensification and see this become a hurricane.

In the meantime, check out these pictures that we got out of Cuba where some of the heaviest rain has fallen. This is Santa Cruz Del Sur, not too far away from the center of the storm. Right now, just torrential downpours. There you can see the wind there whipping the water, whipping the trees as well. Those maximum winds around 50 miles per hour but we're getting some pretty hefty gusts now up to 65 miles per hour. So you don' want to see these people out and about. Hopefully everybody is inside in a safe location at this time.

Now, where is the storm going? I'll tell you, that is the money question, isn't it? We are feeling the impacts already across the Florida keys. We could have impact here. We're especially looking at the western keys, over towards the () for a potential landfall but we just can't tell because when things move over land, there's so much uncertainty and so many different things really that count for interactions. Here is some of the stronger storms moving into the northern and central keys. We have a quick shot out of Key Largo where we see some ominous looking clouds in the distance. There you see the flags flapping in the wind. We've had wind gusts around 20 miles per hour or so. Probably not going to see a direct impact here but tropical storm force wind gusts could be affecting you as early as midday tomorrow.

So, Fredricka, really everybody in the south Florida area, along the western coast, including the panhandle, needs to be watching Fay. We'll have a much better handle I think on where the storm will be hitting Florida exactly once we get off the coast of Cuba. We think that will happen some time tomorrow morning.

WHITFIELD: Yes because anything can happen. I guess that water is only about 90 miles between Cuba and South Florida, the tip of South Florida there. So that is kind of warm water. It's kind of where everything converges so it can redirect where this storm goes. Right?

JERAS: We'll be watching. Yes, we got a little system that could come in that we think is going to help drive it north, and that's going to be coming in from the U.S. actually. And I think that's what's going to drive it more northerly rather than west-northwesterly like it is right now.

WHITFIELD: OK, Jacqui. Thanks so much.

All right. Take a look right now what it looks like in the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo. Yes, a lot of water there. Tropical storm Fay roared ashore yesterday. We have reports of at least four people now dying in the floodwaters. All that water just having no place to go.

Well, when the weather becomes the news remember to send us your i- reports. Just go to, or type into your cell phone. But remember we want you to stay safe.

Well, those in the crosshairs of Fay are doing one of two things right now, preparing to ride out the storm, or getting out of town. Let's take a look at U.S. 1, well, behind our John Zarrella there in South Florida, Monroe County, a lot of the visitors are being asked or I guess told to leave, aren't they?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Fredricka. A mandatory evacuation for nonresidents of the Florida keys. This is U.S. 1. Of course, it is the only road in and out of the keys. Can you see the heavy line of traffic streaming north here. And you know, we just a little while ago talked to a couple of guys who had made their way up from key west. We are literally at mile marker 100. So, 100 miles from here to key west. It took them four hours to get here. 100 miles.

Now further up the road as you leave Key Largo and head towards the mainland, another 20 miles of absolutely bumper-to-bumper traffic. It is backed up as people are trying to make their way, the none residents, out of the keys. Hotels are closing down. People are being told to evacuate, leave the keys if you don't live there. They're also opening up four shelters in the Florida keys for people who are living in low-lying areas, in mobile homes, people who live on boats that are not safe.

So they're telling them to go to these shelters, if they can. There are also school closings, of course government buildings closed, everybody closed here tomorrow and Tuesday. And the gas stations, of course, as you might expect filled with cars, lots of traffic coming in and out of here as people try to gas up to finish their trek northward out of the Florida keys. If power goes out, of course, we will likely see some of these stations won't be able to pump the gasoline.

Now, because this is a south-to-north moving storm when it moves across and heads toward Florida, people all over the state are preparing. In West Palm Beach, about 100 miles north of here, people were crowding the grocery stores, flocking there, picking up their water, their batteries, their bread, their last-minute supplies, an even across into Orlando. All across the state, people making preparations for what is now tropical storm Fay, but, Fredricka, could become hurricane Fay by the time it gets here. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: It's best to be prepared and a lot of folks there have a lot of practice about that. John Zarrella, you included, be safe and keep us posted. Appreciate it.

ZARRELLA: Will do. Will do.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk presidential politics now. The campaign went to church last night. One of the nation's best known pastors hosted John McCain and Barack Obama. The result - a revealing view at what makes the candidates tick and how faith might guide them in the White House. Here now is CNN's senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In a sometimes uncivil campaign, the civil forum brought us this moment.


SCHNEIDER: Their first appearance together lasted just seconds. In the middle of the forum that lived up to its name. Same questions, different styles and substance.

WARREN: What does it mean to you to trust in Christ?

SCHNEIDER: Some questions, of course, centered on religion.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a starting point, it means I believe in that Jesus Christ died for my sins.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It means I'm saved and forgiven.

SCHNEIDER: Others, more politically pointed.

WARREN: At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?

MCCAIN: At the moment of conception.

OBAMA: If you believe that life begins at conception, then and you are consistent in that belief, then I can't argue with you on that. What I can do is say, are there ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies?

SCHNEIDER: Obama tried to convince religious voters he's not a threat, even when they disagree. McCain reached out to social conservatives trying to answer lingering doubts for some. The unique questions from Warren brought answers not always heard on the trail. Obama on which Supreme Court justice he wouldn't have appointed.

OBAMA: I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker.

SCHNEIDER: McCain surprised the room with his answer on this biggest moral failing.

MCCAIN: My greatest moral failing and I have been a very imperfect person is the failure of my first marriage.

SCHNEIDER: McCain's lasting impression on the audience - sharing personal stories to highlight the sacrifices he's made.

MCCAIN: In a prison camp in North Vietnam, my father was a high- ranking admiral. The Vietnamese came and said that I could leave prison early. But I said, no. And I'll never forget sitting my last answer and the high-ranking officer who offered it, slammed the door and the interrogator said, go back to your cell. It's going to very tough on you now.

SCHNEIDER: For Obama, thoughtfulness may have been his theme with his answers often more complex.

OBAMA: Solving big problems, like for example, energy, is not going to be easy. If we pretend like everything free, and there's no sacrifice involved, then we are betraying the tradition of America.

SCHNEIDER: No ties for the candidates this Saturday night. The next time they meet in the fall debates, the questions and the setting will be a little more formal.

OBAMA: Go get them.

SCHNEIDER: Bill Schneider, CNN.


WHITFIELD: And if you missed it, we'll replay the forum in its entirety tonight at 8:00 Eastern. Pastor Rick Warren will visit with Rick Sanchez this evening as well. That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. He is Larry King's guest tomorrow night on "Larry King Live." We're talking about Rick Warren, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific right here on CNN.

Overseas, cease-fire or no? Russian troops still not rushing to leave Georgia.

And smiling through their years. Thousands gather to mourn and celebrate comedian Bernie Mac.


WHITFIELD: Well, they say they're going to pull out of the war zone, but just how far? Russian troops are set to begin withdrawing tomorrow but Russian president Dmitry Medvedev says his forces could remain in the break-away regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Under the cease-fire agreement brokered by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, Russian troops are expected to move to a buffer zone. Russian tanks and troops continue to roam across parts of Georgia today. They're controlling a major highway and strategic positions near major cities as well as an air base.

Western leaders and President Bush are pushing for Russia to pull out completely from Georgia. Our Kathleen Koch now is now in Crawford, Texas where President Bush is vacationing this weekend.


CONDOLEEZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Good morning, how are you?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Texas to brief President Bush on the crisis, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was skeptical about Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's pledge to start pulling troops out of Georgia on Monday.

RICE: The Russian president told President Sarkozy that the minute that cease-fire was signed by President Saakashvili, Russian forces would begin to withdraw. They didn't. Now he has said that tomorrow midday Russian forces will withdraw and withdraw to their pre-August 6-7 lines. This time I hope he means it.

KOCH: Caution perhaps well founded as a Russian leader hedged on when his country's forces would leave.

KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV, CHMN, FOREIGN AFFAIR CMTE., RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT: Sooner or later, yes. But how much time it will take, it depends definitely on how Georgians will continue to behave.

KOCH: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. is rethinking future dealings with Moscow.

ROBERT GATES, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think that it has prompted a fairly serious re-evaluation in the United States about the breadth of the kind of strategic relationship and cooperation that we might be able to have with the Russians going forward.

KOCH: But the Bush administration will yet commit to specific consequences if Russia doesn't withdraw. Foreign policy veterans say that's because there's little the U.S. can do.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: The issue is what leverage do we have over Russia. My view is that because of our intensive preoccupation with Iraq, we've neglected the relationship with Russia. It is at an all-time low.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: We are preoccupied and stretched elsewhere that we do have problems with our allies. It was an opportune moment to make a statement, to make it boldly and brutally.

KOCH (on-camera): President Bush sends Secretary Rice back to Europe this week, this time to Brussels to consult with allies on what to do next. That will depend on whether the cease-fire holds and Russian troops leave. Kathleen Koch, CNN, Crawford, Texas.


WHITFIELD: And tonight at 10:00 Eastern, we're going to take a special look at the conflict in Georgia. Is the powerful Russian bear back? That's only on CNN tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Praise for the late comedian Bernie Mac in Chicago. Thousands lined up outside the House of Hope Mega Church to pay tribute yesterday. Fellow comedians said even in debt, Mac was the hottest ticket in town.


STEVE HARVEY, COMEDIAN: It's tough right now. You know? I isn't really good at this part of it right here. I wish I didn't have to say nothing today. I wish I didn't have to speak today. You know, I'm better at just telling jokes. Really. But I'm going to miss my brother, for sure. And heaven ought to be a little bit funnier.

MAYOR RICHARD DALEY, CHICAGO: It's amazing. He came in couple weeks ago. He wanted to see me this week, doing a sports center for kids for the Olympics, alternative for kids on drugs. He never forgot where he came from. He talked about his life with his comedy. He made people enjoy life and at the same time he understood people.


WHITFIELD: And actor Samuel L. Jackson was among those paying respects. Jackson, Mac and Isaac Hayes all starred in the upcoming movie "Soul Men." Well, Hayes died last weekend. His music was played during Mac's service.

Well, more than a half a century ago, they ruled the pool and they tore up the tracks. Olympic champions share their golden memories against the backdrop of Beijing's games.


WHITFIELD: Well, every Olympian will tell you their journey to the Beijing games has meant a lot of sacrifices and sweat. But the determination of one generation of American Olympians remains unmatched. Let me introduce you to some champions from the '40s and '50s. Incredible athletes. I grew up knowing.


WHITFIELD: Well before Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis, and Greg Louganis.

SAMMY LEE, OLYMPIC CHAMPION DIVER: In my day, I was the first one to go forward 3 1/2 somersaults.

WHITFIELD: Three-time medallist diver, Dr. Sammy Lee. Double gold medallist Pat McCormick doing dives outlawed for women in international competition until 1952. Mid distance runners, Reggie Pearman. Bronze at 800 meters.

Well, these are some of the reminders you mentioned. There are lots of reminders of your Olympic years.


WHITFIELD: Your trophies and these beautiful pictures.

PEARMAN: I don't intend to forget it. I appreciate it more 110 percent. But don't want to repeat it.

WHITFIELD: Charles Jenkins. Golden in 400 and 4x400 relay.

CHARLES JENKINS, OLYMPIC CHAMPION RUNNER: We were motivated because we really loved the sport. There was no money involved.

WHITFIELD: And my dad, Mal Whitfield. Five-time medallist.


WHITFIELD: Proved their medal-to-medal like no other generation of American Olympians.

MAL WHITFIELD: I'm just glad to be here because I just about used up my body. But it was all worth it. WHITFIELD: And now, with the Beijing games underway, 60 years after the first medals won in this close group, honored by presidents and heads of state many times over.

MAL WHITFIELD: That's what the Olympic dream is partly about. The word is unity.

WHITFIELD: I wanted to know their thoughts about this historic marker as new records are made.

JENKINS: So I'm going to really be jumping up and down.

WHITFIELD: I had lots of questions, beginning with how did they do it?

LEE: I look at our generation that we were - we broke the glass ceiling. So our grandchildren had a better, easier life. But I think some hardships are good for you, because it makes you tougher.

WHITFIELD: Why didn't obstacles, like the depression, segregation, and military draft during World War II derail their Olympic dreams?

PEARMAN: The "C" word -- competition. You're a competitor. And so if you're not competing against Jim (Crow Lewis) or biased officials or any of those kind of things, you competed against some other guy who's out there to run your brains out.

WHITFIELD: Their inspiration.

JENKINS: We got there because of other people, because of coaches, because of teachers. I had an aunt that took me in for example, my mother died when I was 10 years old.

WHITFIELD: And did nerves ever play a role?

PEARMAN: Sometimes I thought I was going to faint. Because of the anticipation of what was going to happen to me and this guy.

LEE: And they keep their eyes open. Obviously, I was scared. I kept my eyes closed.

WHITFIELD: Because of these athletes now in their 70s and 80s, the Olympic spirit has been passed down at least two generations. Each of us, including my sister, my brother seen here with me, the late Flo-Jo and her coach are in what I consider to be a special extended family and all of us are really into the games. As my son has little choice but to understand.

Of all the kids, we may have all tried to run, but you actually followed your dad's footsteps and became an Olympian. That's pretty big. Chip Jenkins, Dr. Jenkins' only son, won gold in the 4x400 relay in the 1992 Barcelona Games. For as long as I can remember this was a familiar and regular scene, our families coming together in living rooms and basements, talking about life changes, dreams and, of course, sports.

CHIP JENKINS, OLYMPIAN: We'll go fishing and it is a competition.

WHITFIELD: Their achievements can't be overstated.

MAL WHITIFIELD: His foot just cross the line. Mine was just about to cross the line.

WHITFIELD: They moved more gingerly, hair gray, speech slower, but their life lessons of sacrifice and fortitude hardly in the shadows.

PEARMAN: I'm in my mid 80s, and all the things I got away with when I was teens and 20s and 30s, and 40s, have now come home and they demand payment. And I'm paying it.

WHITFIELD: The thrill in watching Olympic history unfold again rejuvenating.

MAL WHITFIELD: And I'm very excited about it and excited about going.

JENKINS: I wish I had really made plans to go to Beijing and I didn't do that. Now I'm suffering for it because my friends are all going.

WHITFIELD: While all won't make it to Beijing, six decades after his first Olympic medals I wanted to make sure that "Marvelous Mal" is there to relive his Olympic experience, reunite with old friends and help keep that Olympic flame burning bright.

For these Olympians in their golden years, there are many reasons to celebrate these games. Promising one world, one dream, and, now, one incredible reunion.


WHITFIELD: And since these pieces on my dad and the other fellow Olympians aired a week ago I've heard from quite a few of you, may of whom actually knew my dad years ago and you've shared stories about my dad that I had actually never heard before. So later on I'll share with you a little bit of what others and you are saying. Next hour.

Meantime they're on tropical storm Fay watch in southern Florida. Jacqui's following things in the weather center. And here she is.

JERAS: Hey, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: What's new with the storm now?

JERAS: You know, things get more interesting by the minute with Fay. Doesn't it? This is fickle Fay, the storm that doesn't want to make up its mind on how strong it is going to be or where it is going. There's been a shift again in some of the computer model forecasts. We'll tell what you that means, coming up, in just a minute.

WHITFIELD: We look forward to that. I like that Fickle Fay. Just like a tropical storm or hurricane. Right? All right. Thanks, Jacqui.

Plus, forever under the microscope. The suspicions and misconceptions faced by many young Arab-Americans. The author of a very interesting new book joining us live.


WHITFIELD: All right. Fay is now the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. It's already left a deadly mark as well in the Caribbean. At least four people are dead on the island of Hispaniola.

And Floridians like these folks right here in Tampa know the drill. They're getting ready for the worst. Forecasts have Fay tracking their way and strengthening to near-hurricane status within the next few hours. That's prompting flooding of a different sort a flood of evacuees. Let's take a look at the line of cars on U.S. Highway 1, the only thoroughfare out of the Keys, all heading north. Visitors were told to evacuate starting at 8:00 this morning.

The city of Key West, Florida well it is closed tomorrow for tropical storm Fay and everyone there who has decided to stay, meaning some of the residents; it is still an elective for residents even though there is a mandatory evacuation in order. Isn't that right Jacque?

JERAS: It was mandatory for visitors, I believe. Yeah, things are closed tomorrow. I think tomorrow might be the first day of school, so that's going to be delayed for two days for those kids. They're probably a little bit happy and excited about that, but it is not a sure thing for the Keys in terms of getting a direct hit from this storm but I do think they should certainly see tropical storm force winds sustained. That could happen as early as tomorrow. Now here's the problem. Here' the big question mark.

The computer models, we talk about these all the time. They're basically crunching a whole bunch of numbers to come out with the solution of your track and intensity. There are more than a dozen of them. We look at those models, us meteorologists, and we try to figure out which is right, which is wrong, why is it right, why is it wrong. We also look at the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center. This is what it is as of 11:00 today.

We get an update from them at 5:00 today. And we think potentially there could be a change in the shift -- in the track, rather. That's because the computer models have shifted yet again, believe it or not. They've consistently been inconsistent. This should be no shock to us at all. Earlier today computer models were bringing it up over Florida, bringing it up over this way. Now pretty much everything has shifted definitely into the eastern Gulf. A couple of these out to lunch bringing it all the way over towards parts of Louisiana.

I don't want everybody to get all worried if you're in the central Gulf yet. I still have a fair amount of confidence we'll be looking at still probably a Florida storm so we'll wait to hear what the National Hurricane Center has to say with our new advisory. As we get that we'll bring it to you and let you know what kind, if any changes, we'll have yet again.

WHITFIELD: The shifting paths essentially means just about everybody just about in the Gulf just be prepared. JERAS: That's a good idea. You should be prepared for a hurricane no matter what this time of year.

WHITFIELD: That's very true. All right, thanks Jacque. We'll check back with you.

Call it a rare sight on the campaign trail. The candidates embracing kind of right there. Like you just saw. Then they talk of life- changing events. Moral failures and the role of faith in politics and in their lives. We've heard Bill Schneider's take on last night's faith forum hosted by Pastor Rick Warren. Here now is more from that event from the candidates themselves.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had a difficult youth. My father wasn't in the house. I've written about this. There were times where I experimented with drugs, and I drank in my teenage years. And what I trace this to is certain selfishness on my part. I was so obsessed with me and the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn't focus on other people. And I think the process for me of growing up was to recognize that it's not about me.

The question that I think we have to ask ourselves is, if we believe in good schools, if we believe in good roads, if we want to make sure that kids can go to college, if we don't want to leave a mountain of debt for the next generation, then we've got to pay for these things. They don't come for free. And it is irresponsible -- I believe it is irresponsible intergeneration ally for us to invest or for us to spend $10 billion a month on a war and not have a way of paying for it. I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now for me as a Christian -- for me as a Christian, it's also a sacred union. God's in the mix. But --

RICK WARREN, PASTOR, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: Would you support a constitutional amendment with that definition?

OBAMA: No, I would not.

WARREN: Why not?

OBAMA: Because -- because historically, because historically we have not defined marriage in our constitution. It's been a matter of state law that has been our tradition. I do believe in civil unions. I do believe that we should not -- that for gay partners to want to visit each other in the hospital, for the state to say, you know what? That's all right, I don't think in any way inhibits my core beliefs about what marriage are. I think my faith is strong enough and my marriage is strong enough that I can afford those civil rights to others, even if I have a different perspective or different view.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was long ago and far away in a prison camp in North Vietnam, my father was a high-ranking admiral. The Vietnamese came and said that I could leave prison early. And we had a code of conduct that said you only leave by order of capture. I also had a dear and beloved friend who is from California, name of Alvarez who had been shot down and captured a couple years before me.

But I wasn't in good physical shape. In fact, I was in rather bad physical shape. And so I said, no. Now, in interest of full disclosure, I'm very happy I didn't know the war was going to last for another three years or so. But I said, no, and I'll never forget sitting, and my last answer, and the high-ranking officer offered it, slammed the door and the interrogator said, go back to your cell, it's going to be very tough on you now.

And it was but I not only the toughest decision I ever made, but I'm most happy about that decision, that any decision I ever made in my life. We should not, and can't, raise taxes in tough economic times. So it doesn't matter really what my definition of rich is, because I don't want to raise anybody's taxes. I really don't. In fact, I want to give working Americans a better shot at having a better life.

WARREN: Define marriage.

MCCAIN: Union -- a union between man and woman, between one man and one woman. That's my definition of marriage. I am a federalist. I believe in that states should make those decisions. In my state I'd hope we will make that decision, and other states they have, to recognize unique status of marriage between man and woman. And that means that -- that doesn't mean that people can't enter into legal agreements, that don't mean that they don't have the rights of all citizens.

I'm not saying that. I am saying that we should preserve the unique status of marriage between one man and one woman, and if a federal court -- if a federal court decided that my state of Arizona had to observe what the state of Massachusetts decided, then I would favor a constitutional amendment. Until then, I believe the states should make the decisions within their own states.


WHITFIELD: If you missed it, we will replay "The Forum" in its entirety tonight at 8:00 Eastern. Pastor Rick Warren will visit with Rick Sanchez as well this evening at 10:00 p.m.

All right. Let's check in again with Jacque Jeras, because Jacque you dubbed her properly before -- you called Fay fickle. Yet she's being fickle again.

JERAS: She is. The track has officially shifted from the National Hurricane Center. They updated this advisory at 5:00 Eastern Time, came in 20 minutes early. We want to bring this to you because this is a really important change in terms of impacting you. Here you can see that the forecast now brings it further to the west over Cuba, almost directly over Havana, and it kind of has it near the Keys, or west of the Keys. You can see the cone of uncertainty; Key West is maybe just on the edge of this.

The hurricane watches which were in effect here across parts of southwestern Florida and into the Keys, that's been extended northward now all the way up to Tarpon Springs. We don't want you to focus on the line because it could go on either side of this, but look where that goes right into the big bend area. The longer it stays over water, Fredricka, the stronger the storm is going to be.

So you can see the intensity forecast changing as well. We're going to look at a few more things and bring you up to date with the complete advisory coming up around the top of the hour. We wanted to bring you that change in the forecast track because it is quite significant.

WHITFIELD: OK, 20 minutes away we'll check back with you. Thanks so much Jacque appreciate it.

Seven years after 9/11, and it can still be very hard to be an Arab in America. We'll talk to the author of a new book looking into that very experience.

And in a league of his own, Michael Phelps blowing competitors, and that record, out of the water!


WHITFIELD: Suspicions, misconceptions and blatant discrimination. Those are challenges many Arab-Americans face every day. It's the backlash of 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Personal stories detailing these struggles are part of a new book "How Does it Feel to be a Problem, Being Young and Arab in America." The author Moustafa Bayoumi writes, "I know what it is like to be Arab and Muslim today, but what is it like, I wondered, to be young, Arab, and Muslim in the age of terror?" Mr. Bayoumi joins us now from New York. Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: Well, as you went to find the answers to that question, you talked to a lot of young people. How different are their experiences being young and Arab in America? How different were they from your experiences as an Arab-American?

BAYOUMI: I think they are quite different.


BAYOUMI: Well, I think there is a lot more generalized hostility today to being Arab or Muslim. I think that what actually happens is that a lot of the Arab and Muslim people that I talk to, young people, they actual felt a lot more empowered in their own identity. They wanted to be able to define themselves now in a culture that was increasingly trying to define them.

WHITFIELD: It is an interesting question that you pose on the front cover of your book, how does it feel to be a problem? Because this is a question made famous by the black experience in America. So as you sought to get this I guess question answered, were there really any surprises to you based on the younger people that you talked to?

BAYOUMI: There are several surprises. One of the biggest surprises that I think that I had was the enormous amount of maturity that these young people brought to the problems that they faced. They knew exactly what they were confronting and they were really trying to marshal all of the resources that they had to overcome their situations. The other big surprise that I saw was that they really understood how their role in American history was being played out. So they made -- they made the connections really to the African-American experience, to the Jewish-American experience, to the Catholic- American experience. I was really heartened and optimistic by that.

WHITFIELD: Was there sort of a feeling by these young people, like, OK, this has happened to Native Americans, this is happening to black- Americans, Japanese. It's our turn now?

BAYOUMI: Yes, there really was a lot of that. Yeah. Yeah.

WHITFIELD: So how were they dealing with it? Because one can have these experiences, try to endure these experiences and become very angry and almost sort of self-destructive, or one can have these kinds of experiences and figure out how I can grow from this, how can I help others grow from it?

BAYOUMI: Right. I think what I was really looking for in my book was to see what the real human dimensions were across the spectrum. I don't want to say that there's really one response to that question. There were really multiple responses. Some people felt more frustrated than others. Some people felt more empowered than others to really take on what's going on in the culture at large.

WHITFIELD: What's interesting, some of the people that you talked with, there was one young man who decided to pass as Hispanic because he felt like his experience was going to be better than being identified as an Arab-American. Then there was a young lady who talked about her entire family nearly, including herself, being detained under suspicion. There really was no other reason. They were eventually released but she continues to be very angry about that experience.

BAYOUMI: That's right. And her experience is very traumatic. I think it really gave her a kind of political education about human rights in general and about the United States in particular. And when it comes to the other story that you mentioned, that was actually quite common. It was quite common that a lot of young Arab-Americans would at certain points identify with Latino-Americans and try to pass at Latino-Americans.

One friend of mine who is a young Yemeni was saying right after 9/11 he would just tell everybody he was Latino-American but he said the Palestinians, they had it even more specific. They were like Venezuelan-American.

WHITFIELD: What provoked you, what sent you on this journey to measure these responses and these feelings of young Arab-Americans?

BAYOUMI: I really wanted to access the kind of human stories that were being left out behind the headlines. You know? After 9/11, I had been responding by writing op-eds, I had been giving lectures at various campuses across the country. But I always felt like I was reacting to the news and it felt like there were all of these human stories that I was hearing about but I wasn't reading about that I wanted to be able to find and see if I could find them.

WHITFIELD: It sounds like it was all sort of cathartic for you.


WHITFIELD: Thanks so much for your time, we really appreciate it. Fascinating book "How does it feel to be a Problem?" That's the book out on book stands now. Thanks so much, nice to meet you.

BAYOUMI: Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: Well, this may be a familiar image. Hard to watch, but something was growing inside this little boy, but great help came for this Iraqi boy. We'll tell you about his story.


WHITFIELD: As this little Iraqi boy's tumor was growing, his family's options were shrinking. But just when they feared he had no chance at life, some long distance help arrived. CNN's Arwa Damon picks up the story.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two year-old Safa is about to undergo surgery he may not survive. Frankly, we are afraid, his father says. It's a major operation and his tumor is a big one. Doctors at the King Hussein Cancer Center in Jordan had never seen anything like it.

DR. IYAD SULTAN, KING HUSSEIN CANCER CENTER: We really don't know what will happen when we open his abdomen and get this tumor out. Safa has a chance of survival, so it is very critical.

DAMON: His parents give their child what they fear could be a final good-bye. We first met Safa and his family in Baghdad. His tumor was among the most treatable in children. But despite a year of chemotherapy, it kept growing and doctors in Iraq said there was nothing more that they could do. Iraq's decrepit medical institutions and immigration of self medical professional means that many curable diseases end in death.

Safa's story came to the attention of the medical foundation in Boston. It offered to help, whether to provide money for treatment or just to help the little Safa to die in peace. So Safa and his family made the journey to Jordan for what would literally be life or death surgery. His tumor was almost as much as his tiny frail body about five kilograms or 12 pounds. His doctors began the operation, his parents waited, praying for a miracle but fearing the worst.

The surgery lasted five hours and it was a success. His mother can barely express her happiness. Safa still has a lengthy recovery ahead of him, but his parents know he is lucky just to have the chance of life. They will always be grateful that the kindness of strangers saved their son. An opportunity denied to so many other Iraqi children. Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


WHITFIELD: We certainly want to hear more about Safa's story and how you can help kids get the kind of medical treatment that they need. Check out our Impact Your World page,

Getting ready for tropical storm Fay. We're tracking the system minute by minute in the CNN Severe Weather Center.


WHITFIELD: American Michael Phelps swimming his way right into the history books. Is he awesome or what? He has won his eighth gold medal of these Beijing games. Breaking Mark Spitz' record of seven gold's in Munich. Here is today's history making performance. The 400 medley relay with Phelps and three teammates, the swimmer also smashed seven world records while in Beijing. He says now he'll take a long vacation much deserved.

Then try to take the sport of swimming to a whole new level, he says. Can it get any better than that? will be talking to Michael Phelps this week, and you can, too. Go to right now and submit your own video question for him. Then don't miss Michael Phelps Tuesday 8:30 am Eastern only at

Another golden moment for the U.S. today, this one on the tennis court. Venus and Serena Williams's winning women's doubles. The sisters soundly beat the Spanish team 6-2 to 6-0. It is their second Olympic doubles gold in two tries. They captured their first at the Sydney games in 2000.

Pretty good day for team USA. The Americans are back on top of the medal board with 65 overall. But China still leads the gold rush. The host has snagged 35 of them. Russia and Australia round out the top four with 31 and 29 medals respectively.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.