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No Loss of Life From Hurricane Dean in Mexico; What if Dean Were Headed to America?; Michael Vick Plea Bargain

Aired August 21, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. If miracles do happen, enduring a category five hurricane, the worst there is, with no fatalities would certainly qualify. Winds gusting to nearly 200 miles an hour, some of the lowest atmospheric pressures every recorded, a wall of rain. Amazingly, there was no loss of life when Hurricane Dean came ashore this morning in Mexico.
It is not done yet, however, so we'll have the latest updates on where the storm, still massive, will likely go next.

Also, what if Dean were headed to America? The country's early warning satellite may be on the brink of failing. Yet some say the government seems more bent on silencing critics than fixing the problem. We're keeping them honest.

And later, Michael Vick, the latest on his plea bargain. Find out which big name professional athlete actually thinks Vick is getting a raw deal. And get this, he also thinks dog fighting isn't so bad. He claims it's just another sport. Who is this athlete? Find out ahead.

We'll also be taking your calls on the Michael Vick plea deal.

First, the hurricane, which came ashore early this morning near Chetumal, Mexico as a category five storm and is now heading back to sea a category one. You would expect near total devastation and a great loss of life. Instead, amazingly, thankfully, there is yet to be a single fatality reported there from one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to make land fall.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is in Tulum on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and explains why the worst storm possible caused the least destruction imaginable.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rare category five hurricane, by definition a potentially catastrophic storm, moving into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in the dark of the overnight and mercifully losing its strength in the morning hours. While the storm was huge, the strongest part of it hit a relatively unpopulated area and that has led to this initial report.


TUCHMAN: What about hurt? SMITH: One injury, a mine injury in Chetumal. That's the only thing that happened.

TUCHMAN: But the search continues for other potential victims. Authorities closed off roads, even to returning residents, because the streets were considered unsafe. But while we were there, they were reopened and people were allowed to return to their homes to see what had happened while they stayed in shelters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going home to find out.

TUCHMAN: They found out good news at this modest home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have 13 people here.

TUCHMAN: Jelovia Champez (ph) stayed in his home in Umay (ph), Mexico during the hurricane, along with his mother. The other 11 members of the family had just come through the checkpoint and found out the reassuring news they were both OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was worried about my children. I thought I would never see them again.

TUCHMAN: The grandmother doesn't speak Spanish, only Mayan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The wind was strong and I thought the house was going to fall over me.

TUCHMAN: The family is very poor. And holes in the now leaky thatched roof will take some money to repair. But they are all relieved. A category five hurricane came but did not conquer.


COOPER: Gary, what do authorities attribute to the apparently low casualty toll?

TUCHMAN: Anderson, I think they believe that there's a lot of luck and some skill involved. The luck is where the eye of this hurricane came ashore, a wildlife sanctuary, as we said, very unpopulated. But the skill is a very active education and evacuation program in this Mexican state of Quintana Roo. They've had lots of hurricanes before.

Television, radio, newspapers, everybody was talking about this hurricane. They say in the little communities along the Gulf of Mexico, where this hurricane came ashore, almost everybody was gone.

COOPER: Gary, appreciate the reporting. We've just gotten another update from the National Hurricane Center. Crunching the numbers, working all the rest of his storm track models again for us tonight, CNN's severe weather expert Chad Myers. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, the model track has now moved to the north by about 20 to 30 miles from what it was at 5:00. In fact, the old 5:00 position for land fall is not even in the cone of uncertainty anymore. So this can change, because as it rolled off the Yucatan Peninsula, it was very hard for the National Hurricane Center to find the center for a while. It really did wobble to the north more than they thought.

There's the storm right there, about an 80 miles-an-hour storm. It is forecast to become a category two before it makes land fall south of Tampico. Now, how did this all happen? Here are the two land falls. This is the one at 5:00. This is the one now at 11:00.

We'll take off the 5:00 one, because that's no longer valid. We'll zoom you right in. We're talking Tuspan (ph), Posarica (ph). These areas here, 85,000 or 150,000 people here, as this land fall comes right across. Now, Tampico is still north of here, but our Ed Lavandera is right under that little dot. Also, our Harris Whitbeck is down a little farther to the south of there. And this storm is going to move into a mountainous region.

That's going to be the problem. Sure, there's going to be wind of 150, but this (INAUDIBLE) these are both little fishing villages, 100,000 people, but fishing villages. They have sport fishing competitions there throughout the year and so on and so on, basically port cities along the eastern coast of Mexico.

When this storm moves onshore and into the mountain areas, that's when the rain is going to get squeezed out like a bad sponge. The rain is going to come down, get into this mountain. The mountain is going to turn to mud. Then the mud is going to roll downhill. Now the only great news from where this is now, compared to where the old track was, that's about 50 miles farther north of Mexico City. So we're not expecting that big-time flooding in a city that has -- what -- 12 million people? Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: All right, Chad, we'll check in with you a little bit later on in this hour just to track the progress of the storm. Right now, let's go to CNN's Karl Penhaul, who is in Nautla, about 100 miles north of Veracruz, expected where this storm is to come, Karl?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The civil protection authorities this night fell were going down the coast from beach to beach and bay to bay, urging any straggling tourists and surfers to go home and to make preparations for this storm. It's not going to hit as hard as it did in Yucatan. But there, as Chad was saying, there's a mountain range about five, six, seven miles inland.

And as the hurricane hits that, we could see a lot of this water coming down. Civil protection authorities say this area is very prone to flooding. There's a lot of rivers coming down from the Sierra Madre Mountains. And if there's a lot of wave action, then some of those rivers won't flow into the sea, but could cause flooding there.

There's another problem as well, Anderson. A few miles down the coast, there's a nuclear power plant that supplies energy to a lot of northern Mexico. Now officials there say that six hours before the hurricane strikes, that power plant will shut down. There will be an emergency crew that goes out and secures the perimeter to make sure no intruders come in during the hurricane. But the problem there, although they say the building is safe, then there's a lot of power pylons up along the hills. And if those come down, that could interrupt some of the electricity supplied to northern Columbia, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, watching the storm for us, Karl Penhaul, appreciate it. We'll check back in with you if the storm develops more. Looking at the lack of damage caused by Dean. It would be easy to think well, a category five storm is not so bad. That however would be a tragic mistake. We thought we would take a moment to show you some other category five storms that have come ashore. They have a killer reputation for a reason. Let's see.


COOPER (voice-over): It's the highest level a hurricane can reach, Category Five, the most intense winds, the worst flooding, usually massive amounts of property damage wherever the storm makes land fall. If there is a silver lining, it's that cat five hurricanes, ones that actually hit land, don't happen very often.

In fact, only three category five storms have hit U.S. shores in more than 100 years. The first on record happened in September 1935 before hurricanes had names. It hit the Florida Keys with a vengeance. The Labor Day hurricane, as it became known, came ashore with 160 mile-an-hour winds, destroying everything in its path. A rescue train was washed right off the rails. More than 400 people died, including hundreds of World War I veterans.

In August of 1969, Hurricane Camille battered the Mississippi coast, with top wind speeds estimated at 200 miles-an-hour. Estimated because Camille destroyed the equipment that measures wind speeds. The storm surge reached 25 feet in some areas. Still considered the second most intense storm in U.S. history, Camille reduced hundreds of homes to rubble, causing 1.4 billion dollars worth of damage, taking more than 250 lives.

The last category five hurricane to hit the U.S. was Andrew in August of 1992. The monster storm slammed into the south Florida coast. But the destruction spread all the way to Louisiana. Entire neighborhoods were leveled by Andrew's powerful winds. At the time, Andrew was called a category four. It took ten years for an upgrade to five. More than 26 billion dollars in damages was left in Andrew's wake; 23 people died.

But people on the Yucatan have seen and heard the sheer terror of a category five hurricane before. In 1988, when Gilbert blasted the peninsula leaving the resort area in shamble. The storm was blamed for hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in damage. We're just beginning to see the extent of the destruction Dean has left in its wake.


COOPER: As for Hurricane Katrina, it was a category three storm when it came ashore along the Louisiana Gulf nearly two years ago, killing 1,836 people in seven states. Here's some more raw data on hurricanes. On average, they have a life span of about nine days. For most storms, the eye has a diameter of roughly 20 miles. The deadliest hurricane on record in the U.S. was the one that annihilated Galveston, Texas in 1900, killing more than 8,000 people.

As we look at Dean heading back over water, regaining strength, a reminder, we're going to be bringing you updates around the clock on where it's is going. Coming up next, however, what you need to know about a life-saving early hurricane warning system that is literally falling apart.

America's eye on hurricanes on the verge of going blind. Without it, people may die. So what happened when this man blew the whistle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted me to be quiet about it.




COOPER: He lost his job. We're keeping them honest, only on 360.

Also more dog days for Michael Vick.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in a desperately bad situation.


COOPER: How his guilty plea could sack his career. But also why so many athletes can misbehave and get away with it, tonight on 360.

And we want know what you think about Michael Vick. We're taking your calls and e-mails tonight. CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin will join us. So will ESPN's Steven Smith. Call us toll free 877-648-3639, or go to Click on the instant feedback link.


COOPER: That's a live satellite image of Hurricane Dean downgraded now from a category five to a category one. There's a chance the storm could regain strength to a category two before land fall again in Mexico. Chad Myers is tracking Dean. We're going to have an update from him a little bit later on.

We're not the only ones watching Dean. The U.S. government has an eye in the sky following the hurricane as well. It's called Quick- Sat -- excuse me, Quick-Scat. And for communities in harm's way, the information it supplies can be life saving. The problem is it's getting old. When the man in charge began to complain about that, he got fired.

CNN's John Zarrella tonight is keeping them honest.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: August, 2004, category four hurricane Charlie suddenly shifts course, slamming into Charlotte County, Florida, killing four people. But emergency manager Wayne Sallade says it would have been much worse if Charlotte County hadn't been in the emergency warning area.

WAYNE SALLADE, EMERGENCY MANGER: Our loss of life would have been significantly higher.

ZARRELLA: Sallade worries next time he may not get similar warnings. The reason, a satellite called Quick-Scat. It's used by forecasters to help predict the path and intensity of storms. Designed to last three to five years, Quick-Scat is now in its eighth, working with a backup data transmitter. And no replacement satellite is planned until 2013.

BILL PROENZA, FMR DIRECTOR NATL HURRICANE CENTER: It's going down the road without a spare tire.

ZARRELLA: That was Bill Proenza when he led the National Hurricane Center. He lost the job last month when he warned publicly that if Quick-Scat fail, it would be a lot harder to predict the storm's path.

PROENZA: Bottom line is the protection of life. We're able to protect life so much better. Quick-Scat has essentially revolutionized the amount of data we can work with.

ZARRELLA: Take a look at this satellite view of the Pacific, just off the coast of Mexico, images taken without Quick-Scat during tropical storm Barbara.

PROENZA: Here we have one ship report, a second ship report and a third ship report. That's it.

ZARRELLA: Now the image following a Quick-Scat pass, an 1,100 mile swathe filled with data, intensity, direction, the wind field.

PROENZA: All of a sudden, the whole ocean is filled with data around Tropical Storm Barbara.

ZARRELLA: But Proenza's bosses aren't happy that he went public. They said he had caused anxiety and disruption, and put him on indefinite paid leave.

PROENZA: They wanted me to be quiet about it.

ZARRELLA: Muzzle you?

PROENZA: Essentially. ZARRELLA: Proenza's employees weren't happy with him either. Half of the hurricane center's staff signed a letter calling for his ouster. Proenza says they were intimidated into signing the letter and he's fighting for his job, saying his bosses violated the federal Whistle Blower Protection Act. Still, the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, don't share Proenza's concerns about Quick-Scat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're beyond the warranty here. But there's no reason to think we're not going to get good service out of this spacecraft.

ZARRELLA: Mary Glacken (ph) says if Quick-Scat fails, forecasters have other tools, satellites, hurricane hunter aircraft and weather buoys. But this recent study, published by, you guessed it, NOAA itself, tells a very different story, quote, when Quick-Scat is gone, it will be like going back to seven years in tropical cyclone analysis, end quote.

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida charges NOAA just doesn't want to pressure the White House Budget Office for the 400 million dollars a new satellite would cost.

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: I just hope and pray we don't have to go through a major hurricane strike and damage.

ZARRELLA: If Quick-Scat fails, Charlotte County Emergency Manager Wayne Sallade says he would be forced to protectively move more people sooner and sometimes unnecessarily.

SALLADE: Leading down the road to an ambivalence by a population that will say, been there, done that, didn't happen, not going.

ZARRELLA: A jaded population that won't evacuate is a frightening proposition.

John Zarrella, CNN, Punta Gorda, Florida.


COOPER: We just want to take a moment to mention how much of our reporting on Hurricane Dean has in fact been your reporting. We've received more than 100 I-Reports since this morning from viewers up and down the Yucatan peninsula. Here's one from Hary Greenstreet (ph) of Dixon, California, who caught dolphins swimming out the storm in a hotel pool. The aquariums on the water, apparently. The hotel is on higher ground. The pool, as you can see, is apparently dolphin safe.

If you're looking for a way to help the people hit by Hurricane Dean, you can go to Click on natural disasters to learn how you can make a difference.

Up next on the program, it never even was a hurricane, but Erin is still causing major problems. Tonight in Ohio, the worst flooding they have seen in decades. And we want to know what you think about Michael Vick's plea deal. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and ESPN's Stephen Smith will be taking your calls. Call us toll free 877-648-3636, or go to and click on the instant feedback link.


COOPER: Well the days of keeping a low profile ended a long time ago for Michelle Obama. The wife of Barack Obama continues to expand her role as the presidential candidate's chief supporter and toughest defender. She also may have taken a shot at the Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton. On a recent campaign stop, Michelle Obama spoke of family values, saying, quote, if you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House.

Was it a shot against Clinton? Well, we'll see what the Clinton camp has to say about it. In the meantime, her husband is making room in the race for Fidel Castro. CNN's Tom Foreman explains in tonight's Raw Politics.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, 90 miles of water separate the United States from Cuba and they are boiling, because Barack Obama wants to ease 40-plus years of embargoes against Fidel- land.


FOREMAN (voice-over): The Obama-rama says Cuban Americans should be free to visit Cuba much more often and send a lot more money there. It's a slap at President Bush, who has tightened sanctions and old- line anti-Castro forces will certainly call Obama's idea another foolish foreign policy plan. But the raw read, he's gambling, betting that enough younger Cuban-Americans may like it to tilt the huge Florida vote his way.

Spoiling for a fight, Republican Mitt Romney is smacking New York like Paulie Walnuts with a ball bat, continuing his attack on cities that offer a degree of sanctuary from federal immigration laws.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sanctuary cities become magnets that encourage illegal immigration and undermine borders.

FOREMAN: The real target, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. So Camp Rudy points to reports that Romney used a landscaper at his house that hired illegal workers. Let's hope, they say, his plan to secure the border is more effective than that.

Candidates are not marching, but tip-toeing to the VFW convention in Kansas City, trying to secure the military vote, while not seeming too hawkish or dove tailed about Iraq. Not Fred Thompson though.

FRED THOMPSON (R), FORMER SENATOR: The big squabble in the Congress still is not how do we achieve success there, but what are the terms of our defeat?

FOREMAN: Of course he's still not running -- yet. And she's steamy. She's sexy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a crush on Obama.

FOREMAN: But Obama Girl, the Youtube sensation, apparently is not so welcome in the senator's home. He says his six-year-old daughter has been asking who's that woman flirting with dad?


FOREMAN: And it seems pretty clear, she's not talking about Hillary Clinton. Anderson?

COOPER: Tom, thanks. You can also get a dose of Raw Politics every morning on American morning. here's Kiran Chetry with a preview.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Anderson. Tomorrow, we bring you the most news in the morning, including a visit with the increasingly outspoken Elizabeth Edwards. She's been coming out swinging in recent weeks, taking on her husband's Democratic rivals and sometimes speaking out in favor of issues he's opposed to.

We're going to talk with her about all of it. Elizabeth Edwards joining us in studio tomorrow on "American Morning." It all begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Let's check some other headlines right now. Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin. Erica?


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight's, what were they thinking? A rather bizarre robbery in Kansas City, Missouri caught on tape. Two gunmen held up the convenience store. But you got to help the customer while you're robbing the store, right? So one stops the robbery to wait on a woman and then on a man who seemed pretty happy to get a pack of smokes and some other items for free. Oddly enough, the customer is not shocked to see a guy holding a shotgun and emptying the register. Not sure why. The cops suspect the couple may have ties to the gunman.

COOPER: You think?

HILL: I don't know. Me, if I'm at the counter and there's a guy emptying the cash register with a shotgun, I'm thinking there's something not kosher here.

COOPER: Have you seen "Superbad," by the way?

HILL: I haven't. Is there a scene like that in there?

COOPER: There is a robbery scene. It's a great movie. Erica, thanks. Still to come tonight, we're taking your calls on Michael Vick. What should happen to him after he pleads guilty to dog fighting charges. We'll also tell you the name of the other star athlete who supports Vick, and says -- get this- that dog fighting is not so bad.

More dog days for Michael Vick.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in a desperately bad situation.


COOPER: How his guilty plea could sack his career, but also why so many athletes can misbehave and get away with it.

And Hurricane Dean regroups. The latest on where it's going now and why the danger isn't over yet, ahead on 360.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, this is Liz from Dallas, Texas. I'm here with my doggies Sophie and Millie and we just wanted to say that we don't think that Michael Vick should play football again in the NFL. What he did is not only cruel and inhumane, but also very un- American.


COPPER: Well, that was Liz from Dallas. A viewer sends us a v- mail on Michael Vick. I've got to say I like these v-mails.

Michael Vick is obviously the NFL star who is about to become a convicted felon, he is charged in connection with a dog fighting operation. He struck a plea agreement yesterday and sources tell CNN that prosecutors want him to spend 18 to 36 months behind bars. He could get out earlier, but the question is will he have a job waiting pour him in the NFL and should he, frankly? We're going to talk about that with our guests in a moment. But first the latest in the case and another big name athlete who says that dog fighting is actually not so bad.


COOPER (voice-over): Accepting the plea deal will likely cost Michael Vick his freedom, still the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback can count on his teammates for respect.

KEITH BROOKING, VICK'S TEAMMATE: Michael is a young man, I think he's taking a step as far as being accountable for this and I think that he's got to look at himself in the mirror and move forward and realize that his life is not over.

COOPER: His life may not be over but it will never be the same. Next Monday, Vick is expected to admit in court to bank rolling a dog fighting ring in which pit bulls were bought and sold to battle each other, all while bets were waged. Animals considered unworthy for competition were killed. Some shot to death, others strangled, hanged, drowned, even electrocuted.

Given that three of his co-defendants were probably going to testify against him, the legal experts say Vick had no choice but to plead out.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This was an entirely predictable result because Michael Vick was looking at a virtual certainty of conviction after trial, a much longer sentence, and the probable end of his football career.

COOPER: Will Vick ever play football again? If so, when? That remains to be seen for a 27-year-old star athlete who was in the middle of a contract worth $130 million. While Vick's future is uncertain, there's no doubting the support he's getting from another star athlete, the New York Knicks Stephon Marbury.

STEPHON MARBURY, NEW YORK KNICKS: We don't say anything about people who shoot deers and shoot other animals. From what I hear, dog fighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors. And I think it's tough that, you know, you build Michael Vick up and then we break him down and he's a human being, and I just think he fell into a bad situation.


COOPER (on camera): Stephon Marbury thinks dog fighting is a sport. The charges and the guilty plea have stirred up a lot of emotions and a lot of talk. We can hear what you have to say. You can call us toll free at 877-648-3639 or go to, click on the instant feedback link. Joining me now to discuss the Vick case is CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and ESPN analyst and radio host Stephen A. Smith. Thanks, guys, for being with us.

We got a call from Sally in California. Sally, what's your question?

CALLER: I don't have a question. I have a comment.

COOPER: Go ahead.

CALLER: My comment is that I hope Michael Vick never sets foot on a playing field for the National Football League ever again. I know that many of his supporters feel that he should have a second chance, but none of the dogs that he so brutally abused or killed or tortured or whatever, they aren't having a second chance. So why should he?

COOPER: Stephen, what do you think about that?

STEPHEN A. SMITH, ESPN ANALYST: I sincerely hope people maintain that same level of thinking when people are getting shot in the middle of streets or what have you. You have a lot of people who look at this particular situation and say although they know what Michael Vick is pleading guilty to was heinous and definitely he deserves to pay a price for it, at the same time it seems like animals are being pushed to a level above human beings. Because when you consider some of the catastrophic things that have taken place within this society, it's amazing how steadfast people are in this particular position.

There's no question that Michael Vick deserves to pay it and deserves to go to prison, but you're talking about murderers and other people of that like coming out and getting another chance at society. I just find it amazing that people feel that he doesn't deserve a second chance even after he serves his time in jail.

COOPER: I guess the difference between a second chance and getting $130 million in a football contract.

SMITH: Well, he's not going to get $130 million. When he comes back, he'll be lucky to make the veteran minimum, he's got it go back in and he's got to prove himself and because he would be an absolute public relations nightmare, the reality is that he's never going to recoup the dollars that he's lost, he's never going to come close to that and we know that.

COOPER: Michael in Texas with a call. Michael?

CALLER: Yes, I have eight pit bulls, I have six that live in the house with me. Yes, I think he needed another second chance, but after he do his time. In some cultures, that is a sport. So he was brought up in that. He didn't probably, he probably knew it was wrong, and then he probably didn't know it was wrong.

COOPER: Jeffrey, is the fact that in believe this a sport, although it's not legal in the United States make any difference?

TOOBIN: I mean no. It's a crime. That's all it is. It's a crime. Just because you don't know or you have some willful indifference to the fact that it's a crime, doesn't mean it's that not a crime. You cannot excuse this because he got away with being involved with dog fighting in the past. I'm sorry, I just don't think he deserves any credit for the fact that he's, you know, he did it in the past and got away with it.

COOPER: Stephen, should cultural differences play into this at all? I mean the caller is basically saying, well, look, in some communities, it's acceptable to have dog fighting behind closed doors?

SMITH: Not in my opinion, no. I don't think it should play a factor into it. The bottom line if you're breaking law and you're fully aware that it's a felony, it's a crime, you choose to do so anyway, you have to pay the price. Excuse me?

COOPER: I'm sorry, Stephen, I didn't mean to interrupt. Go ahead.

SMITH: I'm saying, the fact is he definitely committed a crime, he knew he was committing a crime and he apparently elected to do so anyway, so when you do the crime, you got it do the time. Nobody is going to deny that.

TOOBIN: Remember, also, the house behind the dog fighting place was painted black so people wouldn't see it. He was hiding it. He knew it was wrong. It would be one thing if he said look, I was doing it out in the open. I didn't think it was wrong. He was hiding this because he knew it was a crime. That's how criminals act, that's why he got caught.

SMITH: One of the other points I would like to make is that although I agree with Jeffrey and a plethora of other individual who call in and obviously feel that Michael Vick should be punished. There's no question that there's a majority of the black community from the people that I've spoken to who feel the entirely the same way that he should pay a price. But when you talk about cultural differences, understand the reason that is brought up on far too many occasion than we would prefer because people recognize the schism that exists or the inequities in punishment. Sometimes you look at certain individuals and you're saying to yourself, excuse me, Michael Vick is the first person to be involved in dog fighting? How come no one else has gotten caught? How come he's the guy that's being used as the poster child for this particular situation?

I'm not saying it's right but you have a large segment of the African American population who believe in trying to support Michael Vick, that would be the reason why. Not because they believe that it was OK for him to do what he did, but sometimes again, they point to America and they point to fact that African-Americans are usually the ones who're the posterchilds when it comes to suffering for a particular crime.

COOPER: But just factually speaking, I mean, the SPCA goes out trying to raid dog fighting rings all the time. He's clearly the most high profile person who so far has been netted in a sting.

SMITH: Not talking about the animal rights activists. Not talking about them. I'm talking about the public at large. Those people not people involved with the ASPCA, the Humane Society, PETA, I'm talking about the average Joe out there who is calling for his punishment, a lot of times people are hearing those things an that's what they're oppose, as opposed to the animal rights activists who if nothing else, are clearly consistent in their positions.

COOPER: Got a lot of e-mails from viewers on this one. This one the blog "On the Radar" from B. Hill in San Leandro, California. "I think the Michael Vick story is way overblown. Although this is an extreme case of animal abuse, people seem more upset with him than with the child predators that prevent our children from having normal lives."

Do you think this case has been overblown?

TOOBIN: I would like to make a somewhat different point. One of the things that bothers me about this case, there have been many athletes who have been arrested and pleaded guilty to abusing women. Not so much child predators. I don't think there is any sympathy for child predators.

But we don't pay as much attention to athlete who abuse their wives, their girlfriends, as we have to this case and I think that's kind of a disturbing commentary. SMITH: Let me answer that as well. You might have a point there, but you also have to understand that some people believe it to be a microcosm of what actually exists in society. You could have five or six athletes that get arrested, for example, in the NBA. There's 400-plus players in the NBA. You can have 15 athletes that get arrested in the NFL. There's in excess of 1,000 players in the NFL. It's the hypocrisy that people have a problem with where society acts like it's more prevalent in athletics as opposed to being it mirroring society. That's where people would argue with that.

TOOBIN: I don't disagree with that exactly. But my point is somewhat different. If we're going to be outraged about crime, let's be outraged about crimes against human beings.

SMITH: I agree with that.

TOOBIN: As well as about dogs. And I'm a dog lover, I'm a dog owner, but I think we should be outraged about men beating up women, too.

SMITH: Completely agree.

COOPER: You made that point last night on the program. We got a lot of e-mails from viewers who said we disagree with you and were outraged by it.

TOOBIN: And I love our viewers but some of them are out of their minds.

SMITH: Exactly what I was going to say.

COOPER: One e-mail in particular said, well, look, women in an abusive relationship can leave, dogs have no power to.

TOOBIN: That is deranged. Women who are victims of abuse are victims. Yes, theoretically sometimes they can leave, sometimes they can't. I don't draw any analogy between the two. People are more important than dogs.

COOPER: Teresa in Ohio is on the line. Theresa?

CALLER: Hi. I have two comments about Michael Vick.

COOPER: Go ahead.

COOPER: And the two comments are first of all, this heinous crime, it's a federal offense and if Michael Vick plays football again I will never watch football again I certainly won't buy a ticket. And my other comment is these guys, all of these athletes are getting away with breaking all kinds of laws and they're getting away with it and they're supposed to be role models for young children across the country. I have a huge problem with people making millions of dollars and breaking laws when they're supposed to be setting a good example for our kids.

SMITH: Anderson, I would love to answer that question. First of all, let's take her initial point. When she talks about not watching NFL. First of all, you're probably not an NFL fan to begin with. I'm here to tell you right now, people who love the National Football League are not going to stop watching the National Football League because one particular player is involved and getting ready to plead guilty to a federal crime. I can assure you of that. In regards to the other point she made. Understand this is exactly what I was pointing to when I alluded to it earlier. You have a segment of our population, they engage in hypocrisy and not only that, they're looking at it and saying these athlete, for example, I'm sick and tired. They bring up the money that they earn or what have you as if they're so privileged. Well, if they're so privileged, why are they getting paid? Because they have a skill and worked hard to where they are today.

Certainly people that act up, deserve to be punished. But it amazes me, I cover sports, I cover these athletes, and I'm telling you whether it's the NFL or NBA or Major League Baseball or whatever, a vast majority of the athletes know how to act like they have common sense. The few should not taint the whole.

COOPER: Stephen A. Smith, we appreciate your perspective. Jeffrey Toobin as well. Guys, thanks very much.

Up next on the program, a remarkable young man. He went public with his person battle with a terminal illness, blogging about his valiant fight against cancer. Now his words and his courage live on for thousands. We remember Miles Levin next on 360.


COOPER: Blocker Miles Levin who attended his high school prom earlier this year. As we mentioned last night, he died of cancer over the weekend. We got to know Miles this summer just as tens of thousands of people all around the world were discovering just how much they were going to miss him. That's because if Miles could tells us, we think he'd say he lived a very full life. A look at some of that life now with from CNN's Carol Costello and producer Rose Arcy (ph).


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were many ways to handle the sad news Miles Levin was given at the age 16.

MILES LEVIN, RECENTLY DIED OF CANCER: I'm 16, I have cancer. There's been some sort of cosmic mix-up here. You've got the wrong guy.

COSTELLO: But this ordinary teenager from Bloomfield, Michigan, saw cancer of all things as an enormous opportunity.

LEVIN: Before cancer I wasn't really outstanding in any way, a nice guy perhaps but I didn't have my act together at all.

COSTELLO: He launched a blog full of wit and wisdom well beyond his years. Thousands of readers around the world responded. Would you say that you've lived a full life then?

LEVIN: Yeah, I'm in a place now that a lot of 78-year-old men find themselves and that is looking at their life retrospectively.

COSTELLO: is view was life was lovely, no matter how long or short, that it deserved to be live with grace.

LEVIN: I have come to believe to God put me on earth to get stage four alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Why? So that I could show the world how to have stage four alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Or rather, how to handle what is close to the worst thing that could possibly happen to me with as much strength and grace as I could manage.

COSTELLO: Miles' form of cancer, sarcoma, attacks connective tissue, killing about 5,000 people each year. The Sarcoma Foundation gave him an award for his courage. And he videotaped this message.

LEVIN: To be able to find yourself in the center of hell and still smile at the flame, that's a miracle, if I've ever seen one.

COSTELLO: He lived long enough to enjoy some simple pleasures, the thrill of love, prom, graduation, he believed he made an impact on others by teaching them to enjoy life, however brief.

His final entries glowed with appreciation for his family and fans. And of his passing, hi said this ...


COOPER: I met Miles all too briefly, but I feel honored to have spent some time with him and his remarkable mother Nancy. There's a line in my favorite movie "Lawrence of Arabia." And the line is, "Nothing is written."

And I thought about that when I heard about how Miles had passed away this weekend. "Nothing is written." Faced with a terrible diagnosis, Miles decided to write his own response to it. He chose how he would live his life and how he would die. He was facing what all of us will one day face, he was facing it far too early, of course, be but he faced it with such grace and such openness.

When I met this summer, his body was gravely weakened by cancer but looking into his clear and honest eyes, you knew that he, Miles Levin, was stronger than most of us can ever hope to be.

Miles' mom Nancy has posted a tribute to her son on her Web site, and I hope you'll read it by going to

We'll be right back.


COOPER: We've been reporting tonight on Mexico's remarkable brush with Hurricane Dean's Category 5 winds. Amazingly there has been no loss of life reported. The storm is weaker now. There's no guarantee, however, that it is going to turn out quite so well next time it makes landfall. And it is going to make landfall again. Let's check in at th weather center with CNN's Chad Myers.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, what we're going to see overnight is this eye, very large eye, that must be almost 100 miles across, get smaller. The smaller the eye gets, it's like ice skater bringing the arms in and they start to spin a lot faster. There's still a lot of potential energy still with this storm, but the potential energy not being used by an eye wall right now. Still have about 14 hours before storm this crashes back onshore south of Tampico, Mexico. Really close to Posarica (ph) at about 100, maybe 110 miles-an-hour storm. And that happens about noon or maybe just a little bit thereafter.

About six hours ago, the landfall was 40 miles farther to the south along the coast. Well, if you do the hypotenuse, it's a longer trip to go here than it is to go here. So that landfall is delayed by an hour or two. Right now, here are your numbers, 19.9 and 93.0 the wins are 80 miles-an-hour and it certainly will make landfall tomorrow right around noon or thereafter.

COOPER: We'll keep tracking it. Chad, thanks.

The shot of the day is coming up, an emotional dog rescue. Its owners and others worked for days. Look at this.




COOPER: He got his dog back. Bringing some big equipment to get the job done. We'll have that after that but first Erica Hill with some of the day's headlines and a 360 bulletin. Erica?

HILL: Anderson, we begin in New York where prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the fire next to Ground Zero that left two firefighters dead. The building was damaged on 9/11 and condemned. It was in the process of being dismantled when it caught fire on Saturday. Prosecutors will now determine whether any criminal violations are connected to the fire. It's still unclear what caused the blaze but officials say the sprinkler system and other water supply systems were not working.

A former federal prosecutor has been appointed by the NBA to lead review of its policies and relating to gambling and officiating in the wake of the Tim Donaghy scandal. The former NBA ref Donaghy pleading guilty to two felony charges earlier this month and he also admitted to provided tips on games he officiated to professional gamblers.

On Wall Street this Tuesday, a bit of a mixed day, the Dow losing 30 points to close at 13,090. The NASDAQ tacked on 12 to finish at 2,521 while the S&P also rose slightly.

And in Memphis, a nine millimeter Smith and Wesson pistol stolen from the Elvis Presley museum was recovered. The crime as you can see, caught tape. A man cleaning portable toilets found the gun in the muck. The muck in the toilet. He said he didn't know it was stolen. He brought it home, cleaned it. Saw the TV coverage on the heist and then turned it over to the cops.

COOPER: Interesting.

HILL: Yeah.

COOPER: Elvis would be proud. Time for the shot today. Have you seen this dog rescue.

HILL: I love this dog rescue.

COOPER: Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got my dog. I got my dog.


COOPER: Oh, it's a happy ending for the pooch, its owner in West Virginia. "I got my dog," he said. Alex the Dalmatian was trapped for four days 15 feet underground in a storm drain, he crawled in there to cool off and got stuck.

HILL: Isn't that sweet. I actually had Alex and Larry his dad, and Mary his mom on the show earlier and Alex looked great, he's a little banged up but he's doing all right. He's going to be 14 in November. And they say he's really a member of the family.

COOPER: Wow. He's going to be 14?

HILL: He's going to be 14. Looks fantastic for a 14 year old.

COOPER: Yeah. Wow. That's amazing.

HILL: By the way, the backhoe was bore reed from Larry's cousin.

COOPER: Is that right? Well, thank you to Larry's cousin.

HILL: There you go.

Well, from one amazing bit of animal video to -- how about this? Duhduhduhduhdaduhhhh, more "Dramatic Animal Video."

How about this. A Rottweiler adopted a kitten. Look at that. Isn't that sweet? Yeah, the Rottweiler actually nursing kittens in Buffalo, New York. It doesn't get much cuter than that.

COOPER: He's actually nursing the kittens?

HILL: Well, it would be she.

COOPER: I'm sorry, she. It's like a intraspecies. Is that's possible? Does that happen?

HILL: Apparently yes. I mean the kitten seems to think it's happening. It's very sweet. We love good animals, don't we?

COOPER: You can't get enough of the animals. We want you to send us your shot ideas if you see remarkable animal, some kittens nursing something, tell us about it or some dogs nursing something, or some dogs nursing kittens, really anything, send it to us at We may put some of your best clips on the air.

Coming up "God's Warriors", the collision of religion and politics. A special report by CNN's Christiane Amanpour.