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Tourists Hunker Down to Ride out Hurricane; Bush Raises Bar on CIA Leak Controversy; Doctors Debate Safety of Ritalin; Entertainment Highlights: Charlie and the Chocolate Factor, Harry Potter, Gretchen Wilson, Sandra Bullock; Landscapers Donate Time to Beautiful National Cemetery

Aired July 18, 2005 - 15:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is tracking the storm from the weather center.
Hi, Jacqui.


Well, the latest is that the storm has weakened very dramatically. In fact, it's barely holding on to hurricane strength at this time. Seventy-five-mile-per-hour winds. You have to have 74 for it to be considered a hurricane.

But don't breathe a big sigh of relief just yet, because strengthening is expected within the next 24 to 36 hours. And this will likely become a major hurricane again before it makes that second landfall that you just mentioned.

There you can see on the satellite imagery, see all those bright colors. Those indicate the high cloud tops, and the higher the cloud tops means the stronger the thunderstorm. And you can see that the colors have really gone down very significantly.

But take note that eye right there becoming more well-defined. And that is a good sign that some strengthening could be taking place here. So we'll watch, likely, for the wind speeds to be increasing later on today or tonight.

By Tuesday we're looking at a Category 3 again, 115-mile-per-hour winds possible before making landfall. We still have a cone of uncertainty here, and that does include southern parts of Texas. There are hurricane watches which are in effect now from Baffin Bay all the way down to Cabo Rojo. That means that hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours. So we'll be watching, likely, late on Tuesday, possibly early Wednesday morning -- Tony.

HARRIS: Jacqui, thank you.

Mexican authorities asked 130,000 tourists in Cancun to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Emily. Those who didn't spent the nights in hotels that were turned into officially evacuation shelters, including a Marriott. Earlier on LIVE FROM, I spoke with manager Chris Calabrese.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS CALABRESE, MARRIOTT HOTELS: We walked the beach and we walked the area, just to make sure that there was nothing flying around that could break any windows. And we all had a very difficult time standing straight. It feels like you're trying to push against a car that's moving against you. And it's pretty intense.

HARRIS: Did you get mandatory evacuation orders?

CALABRESE: Well, the rest of the city did, but since we have been designated as a shelter, the only thing we needed to do was to move our -- make sure that our guests were secure. We even -- we provided several places for them in the ball room, which is a protected area, with beds. We have movies. We put a buffet out there so that they were well-taken care of.

HARRIS: How many people?

CALABRESE: Well, unfortunately, it's July, and we don't normally get hit with big hurricanes this early in the season, so we had about 600 guests in the Casa Magna Marriott Hotel, and 500 guests in the J.W. Marriott Resort and Spa.

HARRIS: My goodness. And everybody came through it OK?

CALABRESE: Everybody came through it. All the employees are fine. All the guests are fine, and they were very grateful for what we were able to do for them without having to move them downtown to a school that maybe has one bathroom in it.

HARRIS: And Chris, I'm curious. What do you do for vacationers who come there, certainly in a month when they're not anticipating getting hit with a major hurricane? What can you do to help them salvage their trips?

CALABRESE: Well, one thing is to keep them in the hotel so they're not forced to go downtown in a very inconvenient place, try to make it as pleasant as possible. Like I said, we were showing movies in the ballroom. We had a dinner buffet. And basically, it affected 18 hours of their vacation in preparation.

Now, we did have -- we were very surprised to see that on Saturday late afternoon, with everybody knowing that the hurricane was going to hit, that the planes were full coming in with new visitors.

HARRIS: Wow. You don't offer any refunds for the time that folks had their trip impacted by this, do you?

CALABRESE: No, it's really, you know, one of those Mother Nature things. If somebody wants to cancel their trip, and they've got a paid in advance sort of situation, we'll waive that expense.

But most people who are here rode out the storm very, very well. We were very impressed with their attitudes and the way that our guests behaved. And really, it's over now. It's passed. People are going about their business. We've opened up all of our areas again at both properties, and they'd here to enjoy the rest of the vacation. Hopefully, the sun comes out tomorrow.

HARRIS: All right. Let's have some fun. Chris, we appreciate it.


HARRIS: Chris Calabrese in Cancun for us.


HARRIS: Many people in south Texas are going through a routine familiar to Florida residents. They're boarding up windows and loading up with water and batteries ahead of Hurricane Emily. And many tourists are packing up and leaving South Padre Island, everywhere except where we find our Chris Lawrence, who is there -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, single me out, Tony, right, like I found the one spot on the whole beach.

Yes, you know, it is hard to believe that we're under a hurricane watch here. But remember, you don't want to be in the eye of a hurricane. Best case scenario, it misses you altogether. That's probably not going to be the case here. We are going to get the fringe.

But a lot of people here, you know, they feel pretty lucky just to get that. They say if we just catch the fringe of it, if we get some high winds, some rain it's enough that they may be able to just stay here and ride it out.

Others aren't so sure. We have seen people taking it fairly seriously in certain parts of the area. You can see people boarding up their businesses, a lot of people very worried about not only the winds but the water that's going to come with that.

So in addition to boarding up a lot of the windows and like that, the counties have stockpiled just thousands and thousands of sandbags that they're going to be passing out to a lot of the homeowners here, eight to 10 each for right now, possibly more if needed, but allow them to kind of wall up around their home a little bit, protect as much as they can.

Because even if we don't get the major brunt of the storm, the eye, we could still get a lot of water with this storm and there is the possibility of flooding in certain areas.

Also here, a very big concern for some of the farmers. Cotton is a very big industry. Some of the farmers here are literally worried about losing millions of dollars of their crops. They're really in a race against time now to harvest what they can, because even those torrential rains and winds are enough to strip the cotton right off the stalk.

HARRIS: Chris Lawrence, South Padre Island, Texas, for us. Thank you. And as always, you can go directly to for the latest information on Emily, plus hurricane history, videos, photos and plenty of background on the 2005 hurricane season. And stay tuned to CNN, your hurricane headquarters, for the latest on the storm day and night.

President Bush today added some nuance to his stance concerning his aide Karl Rove and the criminal investigation into a highly sensitive leak.

After months of official denials there is growing evidence now that Rove played a role in blowing the cover of a U.S. intelligence operative back in 2003 during efforts to justify invading Iraq. In an unusual move, "TIME" magazine's Matthew Cooper went public over the weekend with what he told a grand jury investigating the leak. Cooper says Rove was the first person he heard to say the wife of war opponent Joseph Wilson worked for the CIA.

Whether Rove committed a crime is open to question, and so is the matter of his future at the White House. Apparently, the two are connected. Joining us now from the White House, CNN's Bob Franken.

Bob, what's changed today?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, let me just add Scooter Libby to that -- the names that were mentioned by Cooper. Libby is the chief of staff for Vice President Cheney. Again, as Cooper described it, the comments were kind of vague and the question about whether the law was violated are very much an open question.

But what is new today is nuance. Now we don't usually deal in nuance. This is television. But this was important. President Bush and his press secretary have said in the past if anybody is involved in this leak, he or she will be dismissed from the White House, but today at his news conference the president raised the bar quite a bit.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. I will do so, as well. I don't know all the facts, and I want to know all the facts. The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who's spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts. And if someone committed crime, they will no longer work in my administration.


FRANKEN: And of course, the somebody committing a crime would require an indictment, would possibly require a conviction. That, as I said, does raise the bar a little bit, Tony.

HARRIS: And Bob, what's the evidence right now? Is there anything to suggest that a crime has been committed? FRANKEN: Well, you know, the standards for a crime in this particular case are fairly high. It has to be proven to violate the particular law we're talking about, that somebody intentionally identified somebody he or she knew to be an undercover agent that the government was very, very obviously working to keep under cover. That's a really tough standard.

What we've seen so far calls into question whether there's been a crime. We should also point out, however, that grand juries are secret. The word has gotten out, however, at some points that maybe there investigations not only into a violation of that law, but into -- an investigation into obstruction of justice or perjury. So the short answer is, don't really know.

HARRIS: Short answers are hard to come by on a confusing story.


HARRIS: OK. Bob Franken at the White House, thank you, Bob. We'll continue to follow this story. It goes without saying it will be a major focus of "INSIDE POLITICS," coming up live at the bottom of the other, and later today on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." That's 5 p.m., 2 Pacific.

The Ritalin riddle.


LAWRENCE DILLER, PEDIATRICIAN: Ritalin is the best thing since sliced white bread or Ritalin is the devil's drug. It's neither.


HARRIS: Up next we'll weigh the pros and cons of the attention deficit disorder drug that is literally flying off pharmacy shelves.

Plugs did Hollywood's weekend box office satisfy America's sweet tooth? We'll be right back.


HARRIS: Medical news now, the subject Ritalin. The drug has been the source of major controversy and recently has come under fire by many Scientologists, most notably Tom Cruise, as being highly addictive and over-prescribed. So are too many kids on Ritalin and is it dangerous? CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a reality check.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been around for nearly 50 years, heralded for decades as a cure for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. And the life of popular prescription drug Ritalin so far can be summed up in one word: controversial. DR. PETER JENSEN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: When people think about hyperactivity and attention deficit problems and think about medicine they think, oh, my goodness, you're drugging your child. Do we say that to parents whose kids have seizures, you're drugging your child?

GUPTA: So how does one little pill draw the ire of so many? Part of it may have to do with numbers. In 1980 between 270,000 and 540,000 people in this country were prescribed Ritalin. That figure doubled 10 years later to around 900,000.

Then a fivefold leap. Nearly five million Americans in 1997 were prescribed Ritalin. For critics, that's too many millions of people, most of them children, taking a controlled stimulant.

Pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Diller is the author of "Running on Ritalin."

LAWRENCE DILLER, PEDIATRICIAN: Many children who are minimally affected but whose parents are worried are now flocking to the doctor, often pushed by the teacher to get a diagnosis and the drug.

GUPTA: And as the number of children and adults prescribed Ritalin mount, so do the questions about its safety. In fact, the FDA has been weighing those concerns, particularly reports from some people of suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and violent behavior, trying to determine whether Ritalin should carry stronger warning labels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With any medication, and Ritalin is no exception, there are case reports of things like suicidal ideation, but by and large these are exceptionally rare.

GUPTA: Studies say Ritalin is safe, but few of the thousands that have been conducted have followed patients over a long term.

And what about abuse of the drug? The most recent Partnership for a Drug-Free America survey found that one in 10 teens had tried the stimulants Ritalin or Adderal without a doctor's prescription.

DILLER: There is a divide between age, I'd say, 13 to 15. If you're younger Ritalin is basically a safe medicine. But over the age of 15, the risks of abuse are actually quite reasonable and high.

GUPTA: So what is the truth about Ritalin? Is it safe? Is it abused? Is it a drug saddled with too many problems?

DILLER: Ritalin is, you know, the best thing since sliced white bread or Ritalin is the devil's drug. It's neither. I would tell you in general if the parents have, you know, gone through an effort to find out what's troubling this child both in terms of behavior and learning problems, go ahead and use Ritalin.

GUPTA: The key, an open dialogue with your child's doctor about whether medication is, indeed, the best path.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And don't forget we have a doctor in the house even on the weekends. Watch CNN Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8:30 Eastern for all the latest medical news on "HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA."

And score one for Darwin and his theory of natural selection. Chinese elephants appear to be adapting to survive rampant poaching in the region. Researchers at a Beijing university say that five percent to 10 percent of Asian elephants in China now have a gene that prevents the development of the ivory tusks that poachers seek. Just two to five percent of Asian elephants were previously shown to have that gene.

Hollywood, sweet success.


JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: Enjoy. Go on. Scoot.


HARRIS: Johnny Depp clobbers the competition at the box office, and Harry Potter captures another milestone. We'll round up the day's top entertainment stories when CNN LIVE FROM continues.


HARRIS: One man, and one hula hoop. That's the way it was meant to be. And that's the way it was Friday in Queens, New York. Look at this, when this Ashrikta Furman broke the Guinness world record for the world's largest hula hoop swung around an individual's waist, sound effects included.

Sixteen pounds worth of aluminum measuring almost 15 feet in diameter -- can you keep it down -- can put the hurt on even the strongest record breakers. So a little foam padding kept Furman from getting bruised up during his 97th record-breaking stunt. One more for good measure.

That's good, huh? Mom is proud.

A candy maker whips up the box office. A boy wizard is whipping up a frenzy. A country music wants to whip up your cell phone? What's that about? And a cinema cutie is off the market? Where is she? Sibila Vargas has all the latest from Hollywood.

Sibila, good to see you.


A lot of sweet things today. After months of anticipation, Johnny Depp and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" finally hit theaters over the weekend, and audiences found it oh, so sweet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEPP: It's a stick of the most amazing and sensational gum in the whole universe. This piece of gum happens to be tomato soup, roast beef and blueberry pie.

DAVID KELLY, ACTOR: It sounds great.

JULIA WINTER, ACTRESS: It sounds weird.

ANNASOPHIA ROBB, ACTRESS: Sound like my kind of gum.

DEPP: I'd rather you didn't. There's still one or two things that are a little.

ROBB: I'm the world record holder in chewing gum. I'm not afraid of anything.


VARGAS: The chocolate covered remake cranked out a sugary 55.4 million bucks, debuting at the top spot at the box office. That's good news for Depp and the struggling film industry. "Charlie's" golden ticket sales helped movie revenues show an overall increase of eight percent over last weekend, a seven percent jump from the last -- last year.

Well, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" wasn't the only big hit over the weekend. J.K. Rowling's latest Potter edition, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," had muggles clamoring to get their hands on a copy. The 600-plus page novel sold a record-breaking 6.9 million copies in -- get this -- the first 24 hours, while more than 5,000 midnight parties were held at bookstores across the country Friday night.

It has estimated that the book has already generated more than $100 million.

Well, she is here for the party.


GRETCHEN WILSON, SINGER: You just -- everything kind of races through your mind and you just feel just really proud and really accepted.

It's show time.


VARGAS: That's right, country music star Gretchen Wilson will soon be bringing the party to your cell phone. Self proclaimed redneck woman, along with Cingular Wireless, have announced plans to make Wilson's single, "All Jacked Up," available as a ring tone before radio and retailers get it. The 30-second song clip is part of the wireless company's Cingular Sounds initiative and will cost customers, $2.49. Wilson's "South Borders" (ph) will hit stores later this fall. And the wait is finally over for a Hollywood sweetheart, Sandra bullock. The 40-year-old actress tied the knot to mechanic and reality TV star Jesse James over the weekend before several hundred guests at a ranch in Santa Barbara. The couple met just over a year ago on the set of his Monster Garage series. It's first marriage for the "Miss Congeniality" star and a third for James. We wish the couple all the best.

So that's the very, very sweet news from Hollywood.

HARRIS: That's a full slate of stuff, there, Sibila.

VARGAS: You got a cavity, yet?

HARRIS: Yes and an appointment to see the dentist. Sibila, thank you.

VARGAS: All right.

HARRIS: Well, it is the final resting place for more than a quarter of a million men and women who served in the U.S. military from veterans who fought in the revolutionary war to soldiers killed in Iraq. Today Arlington National Cemetery today is getting the loving attention of thousands of landscape professionals, who have taken the day off of their regular businesses to restore and refurbish this hallowed ground.


SCOTT MORETZ, ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA: Once you served in the military, there's a sense of brotherhood that you can't explain. I did serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, both, with the is 101st. And this is just an opportunity for me to give back some of my time to those fallen comrades before me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So when we're out here helping out, it's one thing to be able to give back and then drive around and look at the history that's here and the people that gave their lives for everything. It's amazing.

MAJ. MIKE SCHMIDT, USMC RESERVE: In the time that I'm in, we lost is 2 Marines. For me it's just more of a personal way of remembrance, a personal way of giving back, a way to show honor and respect for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a good feeling for us to be out to the cemetery for the first time and again, just giving back a little for those who gave all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? It touches me a little bit so that -- for me to do this, because I'm kind of contributing towards the military.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're volunteering our time and we're coming out here to work and hopefully give a little back to the military folks. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A good feeling for helping my country and, you know, the people that gave us, like I said earlier, the freedom to live here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is hallowed ground. The greatest honor we can bestow to this national treasure and to family members of these heroes of this park is to come in and beautify it. I know I speak on behalf of thousands of American soldiers who wish they could be doing this today.


HARRIS: Here, here. And that wraps up this Monday edition of LIVE FROM. And now here's Dana Bash with a preview of what's ahead on "INSIDE POLITICS."

Hi, Dana.

DANA BASH, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Hi, Tony. Thank you very much.

Well, President Bush speaks out on the CIA leak controversy, but what the Bush administration is saying away from the cameras may be more telling. We'll spotlight the White House strategy in the fight over Karl Rove.

Plus, this is something you rarely see, the president suiting up in a tux. Does Mr. Bush have an aversion to formal dinners in the White House?

All this and much more when we go "INSIDE POLITICS," in two minutes.