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Hurricane Earl to Impact East Coast?; Man Holds Hostages in Discovery Channel Building

Aired September 1, 2010 - 22:00   ET



We begin tonight with breaking news which will affect millions of people on the East Coast of the United States this holiday weekend: Hurricane Earl upgraded to a Category 4 storm, fast approaching the East Coast.

The National Hurricane Center says its direction is relentless -- those were their words -- with sustained winds nearly 135 miles an hour. Look at that storm, the strength of that eye.

A hurricane hunter, though, recorded a wind gust above storm surface at 199 miles per hour. We're going to bring in Chad Myers in a moment. But take a look at this other image that we have gotten from -- of Earl from the International Space Station. You can see the eye there in the center. It's right now about 500 miles south- southeast off North Carolina.

There are warnings and watches up and down the East Coast of the United States. In North Carolina, mandatory evacuations have now been ordered in several communities, including Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks, a popular destination for the -- obviously for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Concern by local officials, though, is that people will not heed the warnings because they think it's not going to be a direct hit.

Let's bring in Chad Myers, who is closely tracking the storm.

Chad, wind gusts of 199 miles per hour, that's unbelievable.


There's hurricane hunter aircraft in there called Miss Piggy. They're kind of all named by the Muppets. But, anyway, so it's been flying back and forth. And, at one point, just about 10 minutes ago, it flew right through the eye. As it flew through the eye, it dropped what is called a dropsonde, which is basically weather balloon, but it doesn't go up. It goes down, because it has to drop down, because it's -- they're flying.

It found a gust on the way down to 199 miles per hour. That's literally like NASCAR at its fastest racetrack going around in a circle right there in the center of the eye, the storm -- and it's the word you used and so did the Hurricane Center -- relentless, because it hasn't stopped moving from east to the northwest.

It has been doing the same thing for days. It's forecast to be turning this way, turning this way. It just hasn't done it. All the models are saying turn, turn, turn. It's saying, I'm not turning yet. But, finally, tonight, finally, we begin to see a slight edge, a slight turn to the north.

Is it soon enough? At this point, we really don't know. If it's not soon enough, a Category 3, 115-mile-per-hour or stronger storm will slam into the Outer Banks of North Carolina right through here somewhere. If it does turn in time, it will stay out to sea.

The difference is, OK, it's still 120 miles per hour, 150 miles per hour. If it's a 15-, 20-mile miss, that's still a hit. You're still going to get damage. You're still going to get overwash. Those outer bands -- those Outer Banks are going to get overwashed with rain and surge, and the -- the rip currents all along the East Coast will be absolutely deadly.

And what is this weekend? Labor Day. People are going to want to be in the water. It's going to be dangerous.

COOPER: So, you're looking at an impact basically all along the East Coast over the course of -- of, what, we're talking from Thursday late night to...


COOPER: ... through Friday?

MYERS: Yes, OK. Here's Thursday tomorrow 2:00. Here is Friday morning late. After midnight Thursday night into Friday morning, its closest approach to North Carolina or right onshore North Carolina, if it moves a little bit to the left. Here is Friday afternoon and then there is Saturday afternoon.

So, it really picks up speed as it moves to the north. Cape Cod right there, that will be some time Friday afternoon, your closest approach to maybe, let's say, Nantucket or so. It starts to really pick up forward speed by Tuesday afternoon.

But the winds, I think we're going to get this -- we're going to get an update, so I -- I don't want to get ahead of myself. But probably around 10:45 to 10:50, I will be back here. I think they will upgrade this thing even higher, not to Cat 5, but above 135. With the winds they're finding right now with that hurricane hunter aircraft, it's a big storm.

COOPER: I want to -- Chad, we will check back in with you as soon as you get the update. Thanks.

We told you several North Carolina communities have ordered already mandatory evacuations, including Morehead City.

Gerald Jones Jr. is the mayor there. I want to put up the radar picture, just so you get a -- look at -- at this storm again, as we talk to -- to Mayor Jones. He joins us on the phone.

How concerned are you, you know, that people have heard, well, look, this thing is going to veer off and, therefore, they're not going to heed mandatory evacuations?


COOPER: Yes. Yes. I'm sorry. Sorry, Mr. Mayor.

JONES: Yes, this is Mayor Jerry Jones, Morehead City.

Yes, we have ordered mandatory evacuations for -- for areas, the low-lying areas of Carteret County and our -- and our Outer Bank islands, our -- our (INAUDIBLE) banks.

And -- and we hope people heed our orders. You know, this -- even though we declare mandatory evacuations, it is still totally voluntary to the residents whether they leave or not.

What is more important to us -- and, as you mentioned, this is Labor Day weekend, which is a -- a very large tourism weekend for us. But we have to err on the side of safety now and make sure that our tourists understand the -- the impact, the dangers of this -- this hurricane, and -- and -- and encourage them to go back home or not to come until the -- the evacuation is lifted.

COOPER: Well, you know, I mean, this was the exact situation -- and, obviously, it's a different kind of storm -- that -- that New Orleans was facing before Hurricane Katrina. And -- and the mayor there, you know, delayed a mandatory evacuation for that very reason. He was concerned about affecting tourism.

You have made the decision, though -- and it's a tough decision, because it -- it can impact on tourist dollars and also obviously on residents' lives.

How many people are in your city?

JONES: Oh, in -- in my city is about 10,000 people. In Carteret County, we have about 60,000, but, during the tourism season, we have about 180,000.

COOPER: And when are you -- how bad are you expecting it to get? I mean, what have you been told by -- by your folks?

JONES: Well, we -- we have been -- we have a control group, which is all the mayors of the county, plus the -- the chairman and the county commissioner, plus our -- our emergency management teams.

And we also have had representatives from the National Hurricane Center here. And -- and, just like you, we -- we -- we keep watching the updates and -- and trying to make decisions based on the information given to us.

But the last update that we had, around 7:00, they still expect the storm, even if -- it might jog and make landfall, but we really expect it to stay offshore about 60 miles. But keep in mind this storm is about 300 miles across. So, we're -- we're definitely going to feel tropical storm winds, no -- no doubt. But there -- there's a -- there's a strong chance we will feel hurricane-force winds.

COOPER: Well, Mr. Mayor, I wish your community the best and I appreciate you talking with us.

We are going to -- we will have an update, as I said, just probably in the next 30 or -- or 40 minutes or so, bring that to you when we can.

Gerald Jones Jr., thank you very much. Appreciate it, Mr. Mayor. Stay safe.

We are going to continue to track the storm tonight and check back with Chad Myers a little later.

A quick reminder: The live chat is up and running, as always, at You can log in, talk to viewers around the world right now or around the United States watching.

We have more breaking news tonight -- people right now still searching the Discovery -- the -- the headquarters for Discovery television, sweeping, looking for explosives. A man who had the beef -- a beef against the Discovery Channel and basically humankind itself held three people hostage today, until police shot him dead. His name was James Lee.

We're going to take a look at what made him tick. I mean, his -- his rants online are just bizarre. We will also hear his voice when -- when he was called, actually, inside the headquarters. We have the tape of that, some early answers about why he did what he did.

Also ahead, "Keeping Them Honest": Why would anyone be against some efforts to stop schoolyard bullying? Well, you are going to hear one group's explanation. We will talk about that with people on all sides of the issue. We will have a -- a lot more ahead.

Stay tuned on 360.


COOPER: Breaking news also tonight in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., where police are still scouring the headquarters of the Discovery Channel building, looking for bombs or explosive devices.

That's because it was the scene today of a hostage drama for several hours, the building stormed by an armed man who held three people at gunpoint. His name, we now know, is James Lee. He's linked to a rant posted on the Internet in which he called civilization filthy and demanded that all programs on Discovery stop encouraging what he called -- and I quote -- "the birth of any more parasitic human infants."

In a bizarre moment, a chilling moment, while the standoff was -- with police was under way, a producer at NBC News called the Discovery Channel. And, incredibly, Mr. Lee picked up the phone and calmly issued a deadly threat. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a gun?

JAMES LEE, ALLEGED GUNMAN: I have a gun and I have a bomb. I have several bombs strapped to my body, ready to go off.


COOPER: Well, in the end, Lee was killed by police. The hostages were freed, unharmed.

Tom Foreman takes a look at how it all unfolded.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 1:00 p.m., seven miles from Capitol Hill in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, police say a man walks into the lobby of the Discovery Channel, waving a pistol, metallic canisters strapped to his body, telling everyone not to move.

One witness says she hears a shot. Another calls police. Workers begin sounding the alarm throughout the building.

1:21: Company officials send an e-mail, urging employees to -- quote -- "seek protection in a locked office." Some do, but most of the 1,900 workers evacuate, slipping out through passageways that bypass the lobby. Children from a day care center inside the building also are hustled away.

But some people are trapped in the lobby with the gunman. Police surround the building. The standoff begins.

MICHELLE FORMAN, SENIOR MEDIA SPECIALIST, ASSOCIATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORIES: There are heavily armed police officers surrounding the building, police cars. I see an armored vehicle.

FOREMAN: 2:20, an hour and 20 minutes after the gunman entered the building, police confirm their tactical team has him in their sights and will later say they were also watching him through security cameras, while other officers are trying to negotiate with him by cell phone. Much remains unclear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There may be some other potential devices with -- with him.

FOREMAN: A short while later, a law enforcement source identifies the man as James Lee, who has clashed with the Discovery Channel before, demanding attention for his ideas about humans and nature. Negotiators keep talking, but will later say he has wild mood swings during their conversation.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: During this past hour, the negotiators would be trying to calm him down emotionally to try to de- escalate the -- the potential for violence, to try to convince him that there's a way to resolve this with nobody else being hurt or nobody being hurt at all, and -- and to end this peacefully.

FOREMAN: It does not work. Police say, at approximately 4:50 p.m., nearly four hours after Lee entered the building, a sniper shoots.

THOMAS MANGER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND, POLICE CHIEF: The suspect was shot by police officers. The -- a device appeared to go off.

FOREMAN: Three hostages -- that's all there were -- are rushed to safety, while police secure the building and deal with what they believe are other possible explosives the suspect brought in backpacks. In the whole ordeal, no one other than the gunman is hurt. But, just before 6:00 p.m., police confirm he is dead.


COOPER: Tom, what's the latest on the search at the Discovery building? And, also, I understand you have new information about the actual shooting.

FOREMAN: Yes. Let's talk about the search first, Anderson.

As you mentioned, it's still going on. Our crews are on the scene there. And police are still securing this building, making sure there are no other problems. We did hear a couple of booms a little while ago. We don't know what those are. It would be in keeping with this sort of operation that that might be the destruction of suspicious packages. And there are backpacks as he brought inside.

Police were quite concerned about that, they made it clear. Also, Anderson, though, the actual moment in which this man was shot by police has had a little confusion about it. Initially, police said one of the hostages tried to move or moved in some fashion and that this man pulled his pistol and pointed it at the hostage. That's when they shot him.

A later version of the story from the police said that some of the tactical people around heard some sharp pops like explosions or gunshots and felt they had to move in. That's when they moved in and shot him. It seems like there's simply some confusion over that right now, Anderson, although, of course, there will be a lot of questions to make sure that's cleared up to see what really happened.

COOPER: Yes, it was a lot of scary moments today, just watching this thing unfold.

Tom, appreciate the reporting.

As -- as Tom mentioned, you heard in that clip James Lee talking on the phone. Hostage negotiators discovered they were dealing with a really volatile guy. Beyond that, though, we wanted to find out what we could about this guy Lee.

Amber Lyon has been working that -- that angle.

Amber, tell us what you have -- what you have learned.

AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Anderson.

Before we get into 43-year-old James Lee, I just want to mention that, in the past hour, we have heard four loud pops coming from the -- the direction of the Discovery Communications building, which is a couple blocks over my shoulder.

We don't quite know yet what they were, but they did sound like explosions going off.

But now let's get into 43-year-old James Lee. We spoke with a forensic psychologist earlier today, Dr. Helen Morrison (ph). And she says she compares Lee's behavior to that of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. She says, based on his writings and his attitude, it seems like he had some type of paranoid disorder accompanied with rage, and that rage was definitely directed at Discovery Communications.

Apparently, Lee felt that this network wasn't doing enough to save the planet. He even wrote an online manifesto. In that manifesto, Lee called for the network to completely overhaul its programming and change it to shows that do not promote or glorify human birth.

He even called human babies at one point disgusting in the manifesto. And Lee seemed to be very, very concerned with overpopulation. He also was very concerned with wildlife.

I want to read you a quote from this manifesto. It says: "Nothing is more important than saving them, the lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants, froggies, turtles, apes, raccoons, beetles, ants, sharks, bears, and, of course, the squirrels."

We spoke with some people that hung out at a coffee shop near the Discovery Communications building. They say Lee would often come in there wearing green-colored military-style clothing, as if he was ready to go to battle. He would wear that type of garb every single day.

They also say one thing was for sure. He would always be ranting and raving about that network.


LYON: So, what do you mean when you say you knew something wasn't right?

FEKRA BOWEN, KNEW JAMES LEE: Well, his opinions about things. We couldn't understand what he -- why he hated the Discovery Channel. We just couldn't figure that out. LYON: Every single day, he was talking about how much he hated the Discovery Channel?

BOWEN: Yes, every day, and something about children, having overpopulation of children. He had a problem with that as well.

LYON: Did anyone at Borders say, what the heck are you doing, Mr. Lee, and start arguing with him?

BOWEN: Oh, there were discussions, yes. There were a lot of people that just said, well, he's just crazy and just blew it off.


COOPER: Yes, that certainly seems crazy.

He -- he has been arrested before outside Discovery, right? Didn't he protest there?

LYON: yes. He had a protest, Anderson. It was quite strange for police.

They say that Lee was throwing thousands of dollars of cash into the air, and it created quite a bit of ruckus, and they charged him with disorderly conduct. And he was ordered to stay away from that Discovery Communications building.


LYON: Anderson.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Amber Lyon, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

Up next, "Keeping Them Honest": The group Focus on the Family says anti-bullying efforts in schools are being used to push what they call a pro-gay agenda on kids. You're going to hear from the woman making that charge, from the organization she says is behind it, and a nationally acclaimed expert on school bullying.

Later: new video from down in the mine where 33 men trapped in Chile -- new efforts to make a hole underground feel more like home.

We will be right back.


COOPER: Well, we have talked a lots on this program about the problem of bullying in schools. We have covered the deaths of a number of kids who have actually taken their own lives after being relentlessly bullied.

You may remember Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. He's there on the left. He was in the sixth grade. Students taunted him, saying he acted gay. He hanged himself. He was just 11 years old. Jaheem Herrera, also age 11, same kind of taunts, he also hanged himself. So did Ryan Halligan, bullied, taunted by the girls, called a loser. Eric Mohat bullied again and again until day he took a gun from his father's dresser drawer and turned it on himself.

All too often, as we have seen, parents of kids who have been bullied find that schools don't take the problem seriously enough.

Here is what Carl's mother said recently on Capitol Hill.


SIRDEANER WALKER, MOTHER OF CARL JOSEPH WALKER-HOOVER: I did everything that a parent is supposed to do. I chose a good school. I joined the PTO. I went to every parent-teacher conference. I called the school regularly, and I brought the bullying problem to their staff's attention. The school did not act. The teachers did not know how to respond.


COOPER: Well, right now, there's legislation making its way through Congress, the Safe Schools Improvement Act. It defines bullying as conduct placing students in reasonable fear of physical harm, conduct based on race, color, national origin, disability, religion, sex, or sexual orientation, all standard characteristics for civil rights legislation.

But a conservative group, Focus on the Family, is objecting to the bill and other efforts to fight bullying, saying that gay activists are using the bullying issue to push their agenda in the schools.

Joining us tonight is Candi Cushman of Focus on the Family, Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and Rosalind Wiseman. She works with schools across the country on bullying issues. She's also the author of "Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Girl World."

Appreciate all of you being with us.

Candi, let me start with you.

You say that gay groups are using anti-bullying efforts to push what you say is a gay agenda, teaching kids about gay marriage and gays and lesbians and homosexuality.

My question, I guess, is, if there are gay kids in schools being bullied, and even if there are kids who aren't gay, but are perceived as that or just being called the F-word and harassed, how do you suggest stopping that if you can't mention anything about gays and lesbians?

CANDI CUSHMAN, EDUCATION ANALYST, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: Well, first, just let me just say that we absolutely think every child should be protected from bullying. We know that bullies target children for a myriad of reasons. It could be that they're a little overweight. They wear glasses. Maybe they're a special needs child. Maybe they do identify as gay or lesbian. And we believe that all of those kids, without exception, should be protected from bullying.

And I just want to say that...

COOPER: So, how do you do that, though, without -- without mentioning gays or lesbians or mentioning, you know, race or -- or any of those other things, when you're trying to combat it?

CUSHMAN: Well, we think that bullying policies would -- bullying-prevention policies would be most effective if they addressed the far-reaching nature of this problem, which is, so many kids, 30 percent of American children, are dealing with this.

So, we really feel like the most effective policies and initiatives would be ones that protect any child against bullying for any reason. In other words...


COOPER: But what does that mean? I mean, how -- how -- specifically, how do you do that?

CUSHMAN: Well, the correct focus would be preventing the wrong actions of the bully, not focusing on the characteristics of the victims, because it doesn't matter why the victim was targeted. What matters is that -- their harm. Harming them was wrong for any reason.

COOPER: OK, let me -- Eliza, your group, GLSEN, has been accused by Focus on the Family of -- of spreading what they call a -- a gay agenda in schools. Why do you need to talk about or mention gays and lesbians in -- in anti-bullying efforts?

ELIZA BYARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GAY, LESBIAN AND STRAIGHT EDUCATION NETWORK: Well, Candi and I absolutely agree that all students need to be protected.

The fact is -- and the data bears out -- if you don't mention the specific problems, teachers don't act and students don't have a better experience. Our bill would cover all students, but indicate specifically that you must also include attention to these characteristics.

And, when you do, our data shows rates of harassment and victimization of LGBT, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, students goes down. If you don't mention that, there is no effect.

COOPER: Candi ,are you opposed to mentioning, you know, issues of race or opposed to mentioning issues of, I don't know, disability or a myriad of other reasons kids could be taunted that you mentioned? I mean, are you OK with mentioning those things in stopping anti -- in trying to address anti-bullying? CUSHMAN: Well, what we're in favor of -- well, what we're in favor of are objective bullying policies that prevent bullying for any reason against any child.

You know, I would be concerned, if you start listing out too many categories, you're going to leave some kids off the list. What about overweight? What about kids that wear glasses? That's why I think we should be protecting...

COOPER: But can a teacher talk about that to a student, to a classroom? Can a teacher say, well, you know, some people are taunted because of race, and let's talk about that, or let's talk about being overweight, and let's talk about that? Is that -- that -- is that OK for you?


CUSHMAN: Well, what we're responding to through our Web site,, which I think spurred some of this discussion, is that we're hearing from parents that are having homosexuality lessons presented to their kindergartners in the name of anti-bullying.

And we just don't feel like that's necessary and even the most effective way to prevent bullying. You know...


COOPER: Let me -- let me bring in Rosalind on that just to address that point.


COOPER: Actually, Rosalind, let me come to you in a second.

Eliza, your -- is that true? Are you guys addressing...

BYARD: Well, listen, I think the first thing I want to say is that Focus on the Family has chosen and, Candi, you have chosen to attack the Safe Schools Improvement Act. What we find is that when school-level policies actually mention sexual orientation and gender identity, rates of bullying and harassment go down.

And this is for all students. In 2005, students of all sexual orientations, races, religions told us, when their school had this kind of policy in place, those students were less likely to say that bullying was a serious problem in their school.

COOPER: Rosalind, you work with schools all the time.


COOPER: You travel around the country. What do you actually see? I mean, A, do you see an agenda being spread?


COOPER: And can you address bullying? I mean, basically, Focus on the Family is saying focus on the bully. Can you -- is that an effective program?

WISEMAN: Well, two things. One is that, as a counselor who is actually going to be administrating this program, you have so many things to do that, usually, what happens is, even with all these mandates, the best you are going to get is a 45-minute presentation with like 500 kids, because a lot of our programs in schools are at big schools, 3,000 kids, 2,500 kids.

So, the logistics of this make this pretty much impossible to be able to do. That's the first thing. The second thing is, this is not just about the gay kids in school. It's about everybody, because bullying does not exist without homophobia.

Kids are proving, they have to prove that they belong to be men. They have to prove that -- you know, you're in seventh grade, and you say something, you're speaking out about something being cruel, then someone is going to say to you, don't be gay. And that stops you from being able to say what you really want to say, which is, don't do it.

And so that's literally teaching you to be paralyzed and to be silent in the face of cruelty. And so it's not just about the gay kids being safe, which I believe 100 percent they have the right to be.

It is also about everybody in the school feeling that they have the right to speak out. And if we don't name this behavior, then we are going to lose it, and it's going to go back to bullying in the playground is the problem, and we're going to lose all of the improvements that we have made.

COOPER: Candi, the idea of naming that behavior, you're opposed to, yes?

CUSHMAN: Well, I would be in favor of a teacher directly confronting a child bullying another child that's identified as gay. I think that should be stopped.

But our viewpoint comes from the belief that all human beings, all students are created in God's image, and they deserve to be protected because they are a human being, uniquely created by God, with innate dignity and worth, and not because of the political subgroup they -- they identify with or how they identify sexually.

That's how we think these bullying policies should be based: widespread, neutral protection.

WISEMAN: Anderson, can I say, but in all respect -- in all respect, it does not in any way reflect the reality of what schools are like. So we can have policies that are about ideal reality or we can have policies that are about concrete reality and reflect what children are experiencing. And that's when we become relevant to young people. If you don't, it doesn't work. COOPER: So why doesn't it work to just focus on the bully? I mean, basically, you know, if you read the Focus on the Family...

WISEMAN: You have to do both.

COOPER: ... what they are saying is, you know, they have basically a three-page thing saying, you know, bullying is bad. You should, you know, punish the bullies, not tolerate it, you know, not tolerate people, you know, attacking anybody who's come forward to speak. What's wrong with just that?

WISEMAN: Because when you do that, it becomes a gray area, and it becomes a "he said, she said" or "he said, he said" thing. And it becomes a way of it's on the -- the onus is on the victim to be able to prove, without a shadow of the doubt, that what has happened to him or what's happened to her is so difficult that it's impossible for them to be able to go to school. Right? That's what -- that's what we're doing. That's what we're talking about.

Well, if you take out that language of naming the behavior, then it becomes so amorphous there's nothing to talk about. There's no place to talk. There's no place for that kid to define what is happening to them. And they also feel like they're so ashamed that this is -- you know, they can't talk about it. These words are not allowed to be talked about. And so then they lose the whole process and the whole ability to have the conversation, and they become silent.

COOPER: But you know, there's certainly a lot of parents who, you know, don't believe that being gay or being lesbian is OK and don't want their kids, especially very young kids, exposed to that. Do you think that this should be mandatory for everybody?

BYARD: The Safe Schools Improvement Act is about behavior, not beliefs. And as a common ground issue, apart from any other kind of diversity curriculum or the importance of respect in a diverse society, just looking at the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the problem of bullying, when you name the problem, people act.

Teachers in schools that have these policies are more likely to stop this, and kids are less likely to be harassed and victimized.

And essentially, also, as Rosalind is referring to, bullying is a dynamic in a classroom. Bullies need our help. Victims need our help. And bystanders need our help. They need adults to act, to take care of the culture of that classroom, and build a culture of respect.

COOPER: Candi, I want to give you the final thought.

CUSHMAN: Well, what we're concerned about are the parents that we're getting phone calls from that don't want controversial sexual topics introduced to their kids without their permission, especially at the kindergarten level. And that's why we wanted to say that this issue doesn't need to be politicized. We don't need to bring adult political agendas into it. We want all kids to be protected from bullying for any reason, regardless of how they identify. COOPER: All right. Candi Cushman, I appreciate you being on. Eliza Byard, as well.


COOPER: And Rosalind Wiseman, thanks very much.

WISEMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Next up, we're going to continue, obviously, the issue of bullies. Going to do a lot more in the weeks ahead.

Update on Hurricane Earl coming up. The breaking news: the massive now Category 4 storm, Chad Myers has the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.

Also tonight, 33 miners trapped. From hot meals to MP3 players, their life has changed a lot underground just in the last few days. We'll show you a new video ahead. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Imagine not having a hot meal for about a month. Well, for the first time since being trapped underground, which is more than three weeks ago, the 33 miners in Chile tonight are having a hot dinner. It's a milestone in their ordeal, and it comes as rescue workers have finally begun to drill to free them.

Now you remember the first video that we showed you Friday night of their situation underground. Well, we have a new video tonight. It seems their situation has improved a lot. It's tonight's "360 Dispatch." Take a look.


COOPER: For the 33 men, this is their lifeline, one of three narrow tubes that brings them bottles of water, food and medicine, supplies needed to sustain them for months underground.

The latest video taken by the miners offers encouraging new details about their subterranean existence.

"There's nothing that's done without order," says Mario Sepulveda, who's become the spokesman for the men. "Everything that's here is at hand," he says, "And everything that you need you see."

Unlike last week's footage, the new video shows several of the men in shirts, clean shaven and apparently in better health.

When the ordeal began, the men were given only liquid vitamins and protein. Now they're being sent sandwiches, yogurt and cereal. For dinner Wednesday night, they're having meatballs and rice.

"We've been eating according to the diet you sent us," Mario Sepulveda says. Beds have also arrived piece by piece through the pipe, although not enough for all. "Beds are given to those who need them the most," he says.

Here, the phone they use to communicate with officials and loved ones and to show us that their sense of humor is intact, "We put the phone over here so each one can have some privacy," he says. "Chilean men are very macho, so they don't like people to see us cry."

Joking despite the disaster, another promising sign for the men who now have MP3 players. "Music has arrived. We are organizing today's party," he says. "We're super happy. We've been dancing to all the songs."

Twenty-three hundred feet above, a drill cuts into the earth, the beginning of what everyone prays is the end. The families of the miners are nearby in tents. They call it Camp Hope.

"We're happy because the drill has arrived," the wife of one miner says. "We're happy because we know they'll rescue them."

Back in the mine, a strange sight. A white pickup truck once used to ferry the men to work is now a place to sleep for one of the miners. The truck is in an area they'll move to as rescue crews draw closer.

The video ends with a chant for their country with the message of unity and patriotism. "To all of Chile," he says. "If we felt proud about our country and Chilean mining before, we feel even more proud today because of what's being done."


COOPER: Well, we're following several other important stories tonight. Isha Sesay joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.


The Dutch government has freed the two men who were arrested Monday on suspicion of terrorism after flight from Chicago. They are citizens of Yemen and were in the U.S. legally. Alarms were raised by suspicious items in their checked luggage, but an investigation turned up no evidence of terrorist activity.

The imam who wants to build an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero returns to New York tomorrow. Feisal Abdul Rauf has been in the Middle East for two weeks on an outreach mission for the State Department. His planned center sparked a national debate over religious freedom the sensitivities of 9/11 families.

And Apple is reintroducing a new and much smaller version of Apple TV and slashing the price to $99 from $299. One new feature, Anderson, TV shows can be rented for just 99 cents.

COOPER: That's cool.

SESAY: I have to tell you, I'm thinking about relocating to my surfer, changing my cell phone message saying, "Isha can't be reached right now. She's watching every episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' ever made." That's what I'm thinking.

COOPER: Are you a "Grey's Anatomy" fan?

SESAY: I am.

COOPER: Really?

SESAY: Aren't you?

COOPER: I've never actually watched it.

SESAY: What would you disappear to or watch (ph)?

COOPER: I like "Breaking Bad" on AMC.

SESAY: Good choice, Anderson. Good choice.

COOPER: All right. Just ahead, a big night at the White House tomorrow. Peace talks open between Israelis and Palestinians. Just a few hours ago, optimistic remarks made by both sides. David Gergen joins us tonight to go over what was said and what needs to be done next.

And more on the breaking news. We're waiting an update, as we talked about, from the National Hurricane Center on Earl as it nears North Carolina. The hope is that it's going to start jogging to the right. We'll see if that's actually going to happen. The latest on the storm, coming up.


COOPER: Mideast leaders have been trying and failing to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with U.S. presidents caught in the middle for generations. Tonight, after a preliminary discussion in advance of formal talks tomorrow between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, President Obama said the two sides had made progress.

Here's Prime Minister Netanyahu.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: President Abbas, you are my partner in peace. And it is up to us, with the help of our friends, to conclude the agonizing conflict between our peoples and to afford them a new beginning.


COOPER: So, is this a new beginning or is this like so many beginnings that we've seen before in years past? Joining us now is senior political analyst David Gergen.

David, thanks very much for being with us. You know, what do you make of the statement made tonight by Benjamin Netanyahu. I mean, a perennial skeptic when it comes to Palestinian statehood. You know, often referred to U.S.-backed peace talks as a waste of time. Today he said, and I quote, "We seek a peace that will end the conflict between us once and for all."

Is this a big deal?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, there are signs of hope, tempered hope, to be sure. The fact that two sides are sitting down, talking to each other directly for the first time in almost two years, that's progress. The fact that, after intense provocation with Hamas shooting Israelis on the West Bank, both leaders vowed tonight, Palestinian and Israeli leaders, vowed tonight they wouldn't let terrorists derail these talks.

The fact that President Obama got Egyptian president and King Abdullah of Jordan to come there, giving Arab backing to this. That helps the Palestinian cause. So those things are there.

But anybody who has watched this, as you have over the years, knows that the odds are still long. We've got something coming up September 26. Netanyahu has got to decide if he's going to extend the freeze on settlements. And that's -- whole talks could collapse very shortly if he decides to go forward. But there's a lot of pressure in Israel to have some kind of settlement.

COOPER: How much rides on President Obama for this? I mean, is it -- is it -- is there a lot riding on it for him? I mean, obviously, if there's progress, that reflects well on him. But if there's not, I mean, is there any blowback for that?

GERGEN: Well, we have seen in the past when President Clinton got deeply involved and President Bush got deeply involved, they came -- they made progress, and then things failed and there was renewed violence. You know, so, you can go backwards if you try too hard.

But you know, what's interesting here, Anderson, is that King Abdullah of Jordan called directly on President Obama tonight to inject himself to be the leader in these talks.

And just last night, of course, President Obama gave a speech to this country, saying, "We're pivoting. We're going to make jobs and the economy here at home my central concern of this administration."

Within -- within 24 hours he's off launching this critical new phase in the Middle East, which is going to demand his time. I think a lot of Americans would get whiplash watching this.

So from my perspective, Anderson, I think it's going to be really important that he give Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell, her negotiator, a lot of responsibility in these early months while he focuses on the economy. I just don't see how he can go off and spend sort of Kissingerian time on the Middle East. I just don't think that's going to -- I don't think that serves the country's interest, and I just don't think that he's going to want to do that right now.

COOPER: David Gergen, we'll continue to watch it tomorrow. Thanks, David. Up next, breaking news. New data coming out tonight from the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Earl now a Cat 4 storm approaching the U.S. Chad Myers is crunching the very latest info. We'll join him for that.

And actor Michael Douglas speaking out about his battle against stage four throat cancer. We'll hear from him ahead.


COOPER: Want to update you now on our breaking news. Hurricane Earl, Category 4 storm, winds nearly 135 miles an hour, approaching the coast of North Carolina, threatening much of the eastern shore this weekend, mainly Friday, Saturday. As we told you, mandatory evacuations already under way in some areas. Chad Myers has the latest.

Chad, what have you learned?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A very big storm, literally. It could even be bigger here at the 11 p.m. update.

There is Earl. There's Fiona and now Gaston. Gaston did a lot of damage near around Richmond, Virginia, about six years ago. Remember, they do recycle the names. It's not a new name every year. If it's not a damaging storm that caused a lot of damage and a lot of deaths, they just reuse the name rather than retire it.

Earl, though, may be one of the things that we're going to have to get rid of. The East storm here very large. We had a wind gust. For a while now, we had a plane that was kind of flying through it, but it was hurricane hunter aircrafts flew through it, put down basically a weather balloon, although it wasn't a balloon. It was on a parachute, because it's already in the sky.

So as it falls down through, it found a wind gust of 199 miles per hour. No, not at the surface. A couple thousand feet up, but it still counts. It's still a wind gust. And so as this storm continues to try to turn away from the shore -- boy, we sure hope that that happens in the overnight hours.

Still, the 5 p.m. update here still has it offshore. The 11 p.m. update will be coming on soon. You can always go to for the very latest.

COOPER: All right. We have a "Text 360" question from Lilibeth in Edmonds, Washington. She asked, "What's your advice to people who planned a vacation to the East Coast for the coming weekend? Should they cancel?"

MYERS: Well, this will be over by the weekend. This is -- here is 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. That's Newfoundland, Nova Scotia. So it will be settling down. But if you are going to be there on Friday, all the way along the East Coast, there will be rip currents that will be tearing people away from the shore right into the ocean. Those rip currents, it's water that washes over a sand bar that you can't even see just out in the ocean. Then that sand bar breaks because of all the erosion. And right where that break is, is where all the water rushes back out. If you're right there, you're rushing out with it. So, this is going to be one of those weekends to just...

COOPER: Is it going to be rain -- is it going to be rain all along the East Coast?

MYERS: No. It will be over, completely over by Friday afternoon. It will be beautiful for the weekend.

COOPER: OK. Well, that's good.

MYERS: Right now it's just a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday event.

COOPER: Chad, thanks very much. We'll continue to follow it. Appreciate it.

We're following a lot more news tonight. Isha Sesay is back with the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Thanks, Anderson.

Actor Michael Douglas says he's battling stage four throat cancer. He discussed his grueling treatment yesterday on "The Late Night [SIC] Show with David Letterman."


MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: Let's put it this way. This is the first week, and the progression goes...


DOUGLAS: Goes down.

LETTERMAN: Still, in all, I think it says a great deal to the hopeful outcome of this that you're just taking it head on, for God's sakes.

DOUGLAS: You have to. But this is the first week, and the chemo and the radiation. The radiation continues to burn your mouth, and it becomes more difficult to swallow. You can't take solids. So, the whole trip is not a...

LETTERMAN: Now, did they find it early enough for their liking?




SESAY: On Wall Street, stocks surged in September, the Dow climbing 254 points, the NASDAQ jumping 62 and the S&P adding 30 points. A positive manufacturing report fueling the gain.

And this from Conan O'Brien revealing the name of his new late-night show coming to our sister network TBS November 8. The new show named "Conan."

Though Conan writes on his Web site, Anderson, listen up, he was really pushing for "360 with Anderson Cooper Featuring Conan O'Brien."

COOPER: I saw that.

SESAY: But that was -- no one had his back. Anderson, what do you think? See your graphic scene came up with a potential show look...

COOPER: Wow. I didn't notice me with the red hair there. That's even creepier than me with silver hair.

SESAY: I'm loving the head hair.


SESAY: Dreamy. Just dreamy.

COOPER: I wish I could grow a beard like Conan does. You know, maybe some day.

SESAY: Not such a good look.

COOPER: Yes. You don't like the beard? I think it's kind of cool.

SESAY: No, uh-uh. Not so much.

COOPER: Wow, tough crowd. All right. Isha, thanks very much.

For tonight's "Shot," pretty much the reason I think the Internet was invented, Isha. After a heavy night, nothing like a dog in a dress dancing the meringue. We found this, of course, on YouTube. Where else would we find this?

That's right. Just watch and enjoy.




COOPER: Oh, hey. Gets lonely out on the farm. I mean, no one to dance with. There we go. There's a little dress. Learned to dress himself. I made that up. I don't know if that's true.

SESAY: That is so troubling. But you know.

COOPER: It's troubling? SESAY: It is troubling. And you know, I like the whole thing about, you know, if the dog had been doing hip-hop, it would have been a hip-hop dancing dog.

COOPER: Yes, it would have been.

Also, we obviously want to wish Michael Douglas the best.

SESAY: Absolutely. We all do.

COOPER: Yes. Isha, thanks very much for being with us. A lot more ahead at the top of the hour. Serious stuff. Hurricane Earl growing stronger, getting closer to the East Coast. Details ahead.


COOPER: Good evening. We begin tonight with breaking news which will affect millions of people on the East Coast of the United States this holiday weekend. Hurricane Earl upgraded to a Category 4 storm, fast approaching the East Coast. The National Hurricane Center says its direction is relentless -- those were their words -- with sustained winds nearly 135 miles an hour. Look at that storm. The strength of that eye.

A hurricane hunter, though, recorded a wind gust above storm surface at 199 miles per hour.

We're going to bring in Chad Myers in a moment. But take a look at this other image that we've gotten of Earl from the International Space Station. You can see the eye there in the center. It's right now about 500 miles south-southeast off North Carolina.

There are warnings and watches up and down the East Coast of the United States. In North Carolina, mandatory evacuations have now been ordered in several communities, including Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks, a popular destination, obviously, for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.