Return to Transcripts main page
PAULA ZAHN NOW
Hurricane Katrina Gathers Force For Second Assault; Living Past 100
Aired August 26, 2005 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Thanks so much for joining us.
Tonight, it is not over yet. Hurricane Katrina gathers force to make a second, even more powerful assault.
ZAHN (voice-over): In Katrina's deadly path, shock and destruction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounded like a train coming through the house.
ZAHN: Tonight, a killer storm grows even stronger by the minute and locks onto its next target.
ZAHN: The Fearsome 50, it's the most powerful rifle you can buy legally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, right through it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right through it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right through it, baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One-inch steel plate.
ZAHN: Just a few clicks and some cold, hard cash, no background checks, no registration. We bought one. In this age of terror, who else is in the market?
And science fact. You might live to be 100 or 110 or 120, an astonishing new breakthrough. Can it work?
ZAHN: We start tonight with Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, it looks like Florida was just a warm-up. The storm rated now a Category 1 hit South Florida last night with 80-mile-an-hour winds and just drenched the area.
Look at these pictures. Katrina then eventually moved into the Gulf of Mexico. And late today, forecasters said its next likely target is farther west, Louisiana and Mississippi. And, by the time it gets there, it could be a Category 4 storm, with winds of at least 131 miles an hour. And to give you an idea of just how powerful that is, take a look at these pictures of Hurricane Charlie last year.
That storm did billions of dollars in damage.
Let's find out a little more about Katrina's path from CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras, with the map that tells the pictures.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Paula.
Yes, we have really taken a turn for the worse today with Katrina. We're seeing strengthening with this storm. And the forecast intensity has increased and the forecast track has changed, this all within the last couple of hours. Right now, Katrina is a Category 2 hurricane. It's packing wind of 100 miles per hour.
And it's also about 100 miles away from Key West. You can see the satellite imagery, very impressive, and the inner core looking very good and very tight, so some more signs that additional strengthening can be expected, the Florida Keys still getting hammered at this time, believe it or not, with very heavy rainfall.
And they're also continuing to see some strong, gusty winds, up to tropical storm force at times. There you can see the center of circulation, or the eye of the hurricane, on the map. Where is it going? Well, right now it is moving west-southwest. And that was a bad turn to take today. The reason why is because it keeps it over water a little bit longer. The longer it stays over the water, the more time it has to strengthen.
This is the forecast track, where we're expecting it to go, continuing westward for a time. But then it's going to take that turn up toward the north. We always thought it would turn northerly, but it's just going to take a little longer in doing so. And that also changes the timing for landfall. We're now looking at likely Monday afternoon before this hits shore as a Category 4 storm.
And the forecast track has shifted significantly west, used to be somewhere in this area. You're still not out of the woods yet, the Florida Panhandle. You still need to be on high alert. But the likelihood is much less that it will be hitting there, much more likely right here around Mississippi or Alabama, an area way too familiar with hurricanes making landfall over the last two years -- Paula.
ZAHN: And, Jacqui, given that track, what are the chances that it could stall, that it could fall apart, that it might not be a Category 4 after all?
JERAS: Well, pretty minimal.
Intensity forecasts, we have a much harder time with intensity forecasts, compared to the forecast track. But at this time, there is nothing, we don't think, to prevent it from strengthening. What we base some of our information, our computer model forecast, and this one courtesy of wright-weather.com. This is what the models looked like this morning, some going this way, some going this way.
But the consensus was near the Florida Panhandle. Now take a look at what the models are doing at this time, nothing really going over in this direction. And the closer these lines are together -- we call them spaghetti models because it looks like pieces of spaghetti there -- the closer they are together, the more confidence we have on where that hurricane is going -- Paula.
ZAHN: Jacqui Jeras, thank you for keeping us up to date on where Katrina might go next.
Now it's time to see what Katrina already did to Florida.
Joining me now from southwest Miami-Dade County is David Mattingly.
David, we have heard so much about the major flooding that the poor Floridians have seen down there. But were you kind of surprised, given how frequent hurricanes are in this part of the world, that folks were there when Katrina made landfall?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, today a state meteorologist recommended that they just get rid of that term minimal hurricane that they were using yesterday, because Katrina proved that there's no such thing as a good hurricane.
All hurricanes are bad, Katrina dumping 15 inches of rain in some places of southwestern Dade County, thousands of people this morning waking up to find themselves trapped in their neighborhoods, floodwaters filling the streets, in some cases, filling homes as well. There were cases of cars out all over the place, people trying to get out and drive in these waters, getting flooded out, others trying to make the best of it, pulling out canoes and kayaks.
We actually saw one person on a jet ski zipping up and down his flooded street in his neighborhood. It looked like a lot of fun, but this was a very serious situation. A million people are still in the dark tonight. About 400,000 people saw their electricity restored today, this storm doing a lot of damage by pushing over trees. The rain just saturated the ground. The tree roots had nothing to hold on to. So, when the trees went over, they knocked down power lines.
Six people were killed in this storm, many of them killed by those falling trees. And, Paula, you can see an example where I'm standing. This is about a mile away from the ocean and about 11 or 12 blocks away from the nearest canal. There is still a great deal of standing water in this neighborhood behind me. It literally has no place to go because the ground is still so saturated.
ZAHN: I know a lot of people are going to be working round the clock to continue with the clean-up. Is there any idea how much damage was caused by Katrina?
MATTINGLY: It's so widespread, it's really hard to put a dollar figure on it. We saw lines and lines of pickup trucks just full of debris from trees and people bringing things out of their houses today, going off to dump that. They're still assessing this.
It was happening one house at a time, the floodwaters coming in, doing their damage. There were so many cars that were towed away today that it is going to require some major repair because of the damage done to them. It is going to be some time before we really figure out exactly what Katrina did to South Florida.
ZAHN: I will tell you, those pictures are difficult to digest, given what we thought was going to be the impact of that storm.
David Mattingly, thanks so much.
John Zarrella now joins us from Ft. Lauderdale. Let's go to him and find out what he is witnessing there tonight.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Paula.
We're here at Ft. Lauderdale Fire Department. We have been here all day with the firefighters here. And to say that, on the day after Katrina, it was busy here would be an understatement. There has been one call after another. But the men and women here are used to it.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): Lieutenant T.J. Quinn (ph) knew it was going to be this kind of day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that it?
ZARRELLA: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Quinn, Lieutenant Mike Bloomberg (ph) and Danny Oatmeyer (ph), the men on Engine 2 out of the city's main fire station, knew most of their runs would be for downed power lines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're at Rose and Second. We have got one line down, but the power is dead. It's been dead, the whole area.
ZARRELLA: The first call of the day, a huge ficus tree had been uprooted and fell, taking power lines with it. There was nothing they could do here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Engine 2 dispatch. How did we get this call?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got it from somebody who wasn't sure of the exact location.
ZARRELLA: Had the wires been live, Quinn and his team would not have been able to leave until the power company arrived.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hazards like that, it's -- we're actually committed and we are to stand by. The last storm that we had here, I was eight hours wires down.
ZARRELLA: Katrina has heaped more work on what is already one of the busiest fire stations in the country. They average nearly 25,000 runs a year. Engine 2's second run came minutes after clearing from the first, again, wires down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wires on the pole are sparking and smoke is coming from the pole.
ZARRELLA: Quinn says, even after 26 years, he never gets tired of the constant running and never takes any run lightly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to be prepared for the worst, worst scenario, I mean, a wire just laying on the road or a wire dancing in the road, popping from one side to the other. But, you know, kind of expect the worst and then you can downplay it when you get there.
ZARRELLA: But Quinn admits chasing down power lines doesn't get the blood pumping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come here. Come here. OK, come here. What is the problem? I don't want you walking back into it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. Two trees, that tree over there and this tree right here, have fallen down on the lines.
ZARRELLA: Minutes later, a Florida Power & Light truck pulls up. Quinn passes on what he knows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tree is leaning over on the wires.
ZARRELLA: Engine 2 is clear to head back to the station. But the break doesn't last long.
First, a fire alarm has gone off at a warehouse. It turns out to be nothing. From there, driving through a passing rain squall, it's on to a condominium, where Quinn, Bloomberg and Oatmeyer pry open a door. Residents were concerned something might have happened to their neighbor, who they hadn't seen in days. It turned out no one was home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need us for anything else?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which unit is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Engine 2.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Engine 2 clear.
ZARRELLA: But Quinn, Bloomberg and Oatmeyer know that won't last for long. It never does, and certainly not today.
ZARRELLA: And it did not last for long.
Most of these engines you see behind me now just returned. Some of them are still out. They had to respond late this afternoon to a major three-alarm fire at a personal belongings warehouse. Quinn, Oatmeyer and Bloomberg are still out there. They've been there since 4:00 this afternoon. And chances are, Paula, that they will be out there all night. The fire is under control, but they are still spraying water on the hot spots -- Paula.
ZAHN: I guess that doesn't surprise me, given the level of commitment you've shown us they have tonight. But what kind of hours do these guys work?
ZARRELLA: Well, they work 24 hours on and 48 hours off. But in hurricane circumstances, disaster circumstances, all bets are off. Nearly everybody here is already on overtime this week -- Paula.
ZAHN: We might even let you go to sleep, John, sometime next week, maybe Wednesday or Thursday...
ZARRELLA: Yes, maybe.
ZAHN: ... given what Katrina is expected to do after it works its way through the Gulf.
John Zarrella, thanks so much.
ZAHN: And we want to make your pictures part of our coverage of Hurricane Katrina. If you live in an area affected by the storm, e- mail your photos. You can do that by logging on to CNN.com/stories. Please include your name, location and phone number.
Coming up, you have to strap your baby into a safety seat in the car, so why not in planes? Coming up next, a controversial decision about your children's safety when you fly.
Also, are scientists on the verge of finding a genetic fountain of youth? We're going to find out what they've done to make these guys live to 120 in mouse years.
ZAHN: As a parent, there's probably nothing scarier for any of us than the thought that our children might not be safe. Well, the government has just made a decision that could actually, according to some, put your child at risk. It has decided against a change in airline safety, a change that it admits could save the lives of young children in the event of a crash.
But, as our Kathleen Koch found out, the government also says it has good reason for not making that change. See if you agree.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Retired flight attendant Jan Lohr will always remember that moment in 1989 when she told parents aboard Flight 232 to cushion their babies with blankets and hold them on the floor as the crippled plane tried to land in Sioux City, Iowa. Then on the ground are the words of the mother of 22-month-old Evan Touthe (ph), who slipped from her grip and was killed.
JAN BROWN-LOHR, FORMER FLIGHT ATTENDANT: And she just looked at me and said, I had told her to put him on the floor, that it would be all right. And it wasn't. He was gone. And that was -- that was a defining moment for me.
KOCH: Lohr became an instant advocate for buckling every child under two into their own seat. It's something the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended for more than 15 years. Its acting chairman insists unrestrained remains unsafe.
MARK ROSENKER, ACTING CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: I believe it's very dangerous. The studies have indicated that, when you get into these accident situations and children are released from their parents, they become missiles. They can be crushed by the parents moving forward into the seat in front of them.
KOCH: The Federal Aviation Administration agrees and encourages parents to buy seats for their babies. So why, then, on Thursday, did the FAA decide not to require youngsters to have their own seat? The agency declined an on-camera interview. Its rationale for the decision, the same it has voiced since the 1990s, that such a requirement would prompt cost-conscious parents to drive.
PEGGY GILLIGAN, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: That the cost of an additional ticket would cause some family units to decide to drive, rather than to fly, and that that would cause an increase in deaths and injuries.
KOCH: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration agrees, but a recent study suggests they may be wrong. The NTSB examined the post-9/11 period, when air travel dropped and more families drove. It found traffic deaths and injuries to babies and toddlers did not increase.
(on camera): Since 1978, 22 infants have suffered injuries they might have avoided had they been restrained. Nine of them died in these aircraft incidents that experts say were otherwise survivable.
(voice-over): It's a danger few parents understand or believe they can do much about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess just holding her, it just makes her -- to me, it makes me feel that she's more secure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's say, God forbid, something happens and I am crashed. How am I going to protect him?
KOCH: Jan Lohr is disappointed by the FAA decision.
BROWN-LOHR: These are our most vulnerable passengers. We should be doing our very best for them. KOCH: She says she'll keep trying to convince parents that, when it comes to babies, flying free isn't risk free.
BROWN-LOHR: As long as I'm alive, I will keep speaking out. Somebody has to speak for Evan.
KOCH: And, Paula, what Jan Lohr says is, she's going to keep pushing.
And safety advocates say what they would like to see is for parents to do the right thing on their own, to go ahead and buy seats for their children under 2. There are many major airlines that offer those at half-price.
ZAHN: I guess that's going to become the latest front in the competitive wars out there.
But let's talk specifically about some of these numbers that you've seen. They seem to back this decision that's been made. While 13 Americans died in airline accidents last year, some 43,000 died on the highways.
KOCH: Quite so, Paula. And that's one of the points that the FAA makes. They say that that is a huge difference and that you are much, much safer, obviously, when you're flying on an aircraft than when driving in a car.
Even in the case of an accident, they say that 96 percent of aircraft accidents are survivable. But then the NTSB keeps coming back to their study. They said, we looked at just one of those time periods where people were flying much less, driving much more, right after 9/11, and those -- the deaths and injuries to infants and toddlers did not go up.
ZAHN: Well, no matter how you look at this issue, Kathleen, as parents, I know you feel as I do. It's pretty scary to think about any of these prospects. Thanks.
KOCH: You bet.
ZAHN: Still ahead, it's the most powerful guy (sic) you can buy and it's perfectly legal. Could a terrorist use it to attack an airliner?
And how does living to 120 sound to you? Scientists have broken the barrier in mouse years. Are they close to doing it for us, too?
But first, just about 21 minutes past the hour, time to check in with Erica Hill of Headline News -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, 11 days past their deadline, Iraqi leaders deadlocked again over a new constitution. Today, they delayed a final vote until Sunday, with Sunni lawmakers still wary about several issues, including how much power to allow former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
The CIA may have to decide -- may decide, rather, to discipline some high-level officials who were in charge during the 9/11 attacks. This comes after a two-year CIA investigation which is said to conclude that former Director George Tenet and other senior officials may have dropped the ball with faulty intelligence reports on al Qaeda.
Investigators in Aruba say some new facts and circumstances led them to re-arrest two brothers in connection with the Natalee Holloway investigation. Police say Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, as well as other unnamed persons, are suspects in the rape and murder of the Alabama teen, who disappeared May 30.
And the FDA has a decision -- does not have a decision, rather, yet, on whether to allow over-the-counter sales of the so-called plan- B birth control. Instead, it wants to hear what the public has to say about making the pill available to women 17 and older without a prescription. The pill uses a massive dose of hormones to prevent pregnancy within three days of unprotected sex.
And the computer worm has turned. The FBI now says two men have been arrested for launching an attack earlier this month that temporarily disabled computers here at CNN, as well as other organizations. The suspects are said to be in Turkey and Morocco. They will be tried there, Paula. And that's the latest from Headline News at this hour. We will hand it back over to you.
ZAHN: And, boy, did those guys make a mess of our newsrooms over the last couple of weeks. Erica Hill, thanks. See you again at the back end of the hour.
Coming up next, would you take a pill to live to be 120 years old?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. KEVIN ROSENBLATT, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: We did not think it would work quite this strikingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Scientists are working on it, and they have made a major breakthrough.
Also, should you have to pass a beauty test before they let you into a dating Web site?
ZAHN: Today, we learned about an amazing new breakthrough, a scientific discovery so incredible, it holds the promise of making our lives stronger and much, much longer, perhaps even past 100.
Now, while it might be a bit early to start stocking up on birthday candles, as Elizabeth Cohen found out, if you're a mouse, the future is already here.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In human years, this mouse is 120 years old. That's because these scientists made him 120. They cranked up one of his genes that regulates aging. Mice get bigger as they get older. Take a look. The genetically engineered older mouse, the one on the left, is much bigger than the younger one on the right.
Dr. Kevin Rosenblatt, one of the researchers, says even his team was surprised at what happened when they manipulated the gene.
ROSENBLATT: We did not think it would work quite this strikingly.
COHEN: Humans and mice have this particular aging gene in common. So, the question is, given our society's obsession with youth, could scientists manipulate our genes to make us live longer?
ROSENBLATT: The possibility of a sort of age -- an anti-aging hormone or vaccine, so to speak, that could prolong life or actually protect humans against particular diseases is quite possible.
COHEN: And even better, this mouse isn't old and decrepit. He's old and quite healthy, without the usual diseases of aging.
ROSENBLATT: It would be sort of like a 70-year-old man or woman living closer to be 100 years old, but not just living longer, but perhaps healthier, without many of the age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or atherosclerosis or certain lung diseases that are more common in the elderly.
COHEN: The researchers think, in about 10 years, their mouse research could translate into medical advances for humans. But they warn, it might not pan out at all. Over the years, scientists have waved their magic wands to made fat mice skinny. They have made paralyzed mice walk again. They have made brain tumors in mice disappear in a matter of days.
But none of these advances has ever translated into breakthroughs for humans. So, this aging discovery is great news for...
ZAHN: So, Elizabeth, based on what you just reported, are we really talking about a potential fountain of youth here?
COHEN: You know, Paula, there's probably not going to be one fountain of youth. There are probably going to be several, because there are several genes that regulate aging. And maybe manipulating this one maybe will work for some people or developing a drug based on this gene will work on some people.
But for other people, you would want to develop a drug based on a different gene. So, there's not going to be one fountain of youth. ZAHN: And what I'm trying to better understand, if this ultimately works on humans, if you turn 100 if you're just a healthier 100, are you really 40 at 100?
COHEN: Well, these doctors say that their mice are like 40, the equivalent of 40-year-old mice, in human years. They say that they don't have the illnesses that a 100-year-old would have. And the reason why is that, by manipulating this gene, what they have managed to do is to slow the aging process. So, the heart is slowing -- is aging much more slowly. All the other cells are aging much more slowly. So, you don't have as many of those diseases that are associated with aging.
ZAHN: I'm just trying to imagine what we would all look like at 120, even if our hearts are the hearts of 80-year-olds.
COHEN: That's right.
ZAHN: Might not be a very pretty sight.
COHEN: It might not. We might still need face-lifts.
ZAHN: I think so, some of us more than others.
Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Have a good weekend.
Coming up next, you want to buy the military's most powerful sniper rifle, go right ahead, because it happens to be perfectly legal and lethal. The controversy over the .50-caliber rifle, could it really bring down an airliner?
ZAHN: So who outside the military needs a gun so powerful it can pierce armor from more than a mile away? The New York Police Department, for one, which we learned this week has spent about $20,000 on two 50 caliber rifles. And guess what? If you have the cash, you can get one, too. Yes, it's perfectly legal to buy a rifle that fires with such force that some people fear it could actually bring down a plane. Don't even think about what it can do to a person. Investigative reporter Drew Griffin looked into it for us recently.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To buy a gun, even a .50 caliber gun, this huge gun, you just need to go to your computer and click on one of the biggest classified gun sites, which in our case is GunsAmerica.com. AK 47s, shotguns, pistols, all kinds of rifles. But what we wanted to buy was the biggest caliber rifle you could possibly buy, and that's this category right here, big .50 caliber rifles. This is the gun that is now banned in California, and on this Web site we have about three dozen of them for sale
But what we're looking for is one that is not being sold by a dealer. See where it says federal licensed firearm dealer? We're trying to find one that's being sold by just a private citizen. This is actually the gun we bought. When you finally find the gun you want on this Web site and you're dealing with a private party, you just give him your e-mail and you send him a note. Let's set up a meeting. I'm paying cash. And the next thing you know, we're going to buy our gun.
(voice over): But before I shelled out $2,500 to buy this gun, I wanted to make sure I could buy ammunition. That turned out to be as easy as ordering flowers. With just a couple of clicks on my computer, I ordered and paid by credit card for 50 .50 caliber armor- piercing rounds. They were delivered in a week, shells as long as my hand, delivered no questions asked by UPS. I could have even ordered tracer rounds if I'd wanted. Now it was time to get the gun.
(on camera): What we're about to do is perfectly legal in dozens of states where cash and carry is the rule. A private seller, a private buyer. There will be no background check, no government waiting period, no government paperwork at all. In fact, the only paper that will change hands is the money we used to buy our .50 caliber rifle.
(voice over): The transaction at a house in suburban Houston took about 20 minutes. We walked out with a case holding the gun critics say is the perfect terrorist weapon. A brand new .50 caliber with scope, bipod and directions. We flew home. Guns are checked as baggage. And when the bags arrived for our flight, I simply picked it up and left. Ronnie Barrett, who manufactures .50 caliber rifles believes as an American it is your right to own one.
Isn't that particular gun in the hands of a terrorist dangerous?
RONNIE BARRETT, BARRETT MANUFACTURING: We're not talking about terrorists. We're disarming here civilians. These laws have nothing to do with terrorism.
GRIFFIN: Barrett's company makes one of the most popular and top of the line .50 caliber rifles on the market. A semi-automatic favored by armies around the world. But Barrett says his company couldn't survive on military orders alone and what keeps all these workers busy is its popularity among recreational shooters. Barrett says it may be effective on the battlefield, but on the target range, it's just plain fun.
Should there be any regulations on your guns?
BARRETT: There should be regulations on criminals.
GRIFFIN: Gun control advocates want a federal ban on this weapon. Their reasoning? Anything that can hit a target at 1,000 yards with the bullet the size of a small artillery shell could certainly pose a major threat to aircraft.
(on camera): But the question at most of the nation's airports is not what you could do with a .50 caliber gun at 1,000 yards. Here at LAX, a would-be terrorist could get within less than 1,000 feet. (voice over): This week at a police gun range, I found out what this gun could do to the emergency exit door of a Boeing 727 fired from 1,000 feet away. The gun is very heavy, not easy to maneuver, but took only a few moments to set up. The first time I fired it, I missed. After adjusting for the site, round after armor-piercing round went straight through the door. But just about any gun could pierce the thin aluminum skin of an airplane. What scares law enforcement is what else this round can do when fired from this gun. This is a one inch thick piece of steel plate. More protection than almost any armored car. The .50 caliber goes right through the aircraft door and right through one inch steel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Right through it, baby.
GRIFFIN (on camera): That's where it came out. That's where it went in. One inch steel plate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My goodness.
ZAHN: Force, amazing. Drew Griffin reporting for us. So the question we all had is, could a bullet from a .50 caliber rifle actually bring down a commercial airliner? Probably not. But it could be enough to cripple one. And that was enough of a threat for California to ban sales of .50 caliber rifles.
Coming up next, if you've ever worried about your college age kids going off on a journey to some far-away place, this next story may terrify you. The nightmare of a dozen young people facing prison or even execution in Indonesia. Could it happen to your child?
ZAHN: A beautiful summer night out there in New York City tonight.
Imagine sending off your college-age kid for a vacation in some exotic far-away place and then hearing your kid is actually facing execution, or decades in prison for being caught with drugs. Well, a dozen young people from Australia are starting at that grim future -- or staring, that is, as they face justice in Indonesia. The latest, a 24-year-old model. Here is Zain Verjee.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She makes her living posing for cameras, but Michelle Leslie, who models under the name Michele Lee, did not want to show her face this time. She was arrested on the resort island of Bali on Saturday night.
Officials say they found two ecstasy tablets in her Gucci bag. While she first denied the allegations, Australia's channel 7 news obtained a transcript of Leslie's interview with Bali's anti-narcotics police. The transcript quotes her as saying she started using ecstasy about a year ago. She added, and I've been having treatment in Australia.
Under further questioning, she claimed to be addicted to it saying, "I can't enjoy parties if I don't have ecstasy." If convicted, the 24-year-old Australian could face up to 15 years in prison.
BAN BANG SUGIARTO, BALI DRUG SQUAD CHIEF: She's sad. She's very sad.
QUESTION: Is she crying a lot?
SUGIARTO: Crying. Yes, crying every time.
VERJEE: One after another, young Australians traveling in Indonesia recently have been nabbed by police and accused of drug possession. 21-year-old teacher Graham Payne was arrested on Saturday also for allegedly having more than 2,000 ecstasy pills on him.
GRAHAM PAYNE, ARRESTED AUSTRALIAN: When I got arrested, I was actually kind of happy because I had just run out of cigarettes. So I didn't have any money. But the guards couldn't stop giving me enough of their own.
VERJEE: He could sentenced to death by firing squad if convicted. But it's more likely he'll only serve prison time.
PAYNE: To my friends and family, I'll see you in a year or two and hopefully not seven.
VERJEE: Eight Australian man and one woman, known as the Bali nine, are set to go on trial next month for allegedly trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia. In a case that got enormous attention, Australian Chapelle Corby was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May for smuggling marijuana into Bali. She maintains her innocence.
Indonesian police insist they're not just targeting Australians in their drug raids. Australian officials acknowledge that tough Indonesian drug laws and a warning message to citizens.
JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We have told Australians, young Australians again and again don't take drugs out of this country. Don't take them into Asian countries, because you can't expect any mercy.
VERJEE (on camera): Under Indonesian law, there's no provision for bail. So everyone is held in police cells until the investigation is complete and those accused are either charged or released.
Zain Verjee, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: And to reinforce that message you heard, Australia's government actually sent e-mails this week to 3,000 Australians living in Indonesia warning them against using or trafficking drugs. And as you can see tonight, for a very good reason.
Coming up, the latest wrinkle in the dating game. A Web site that says it's for beautiful people only. Have you got what it takes to join?
ZAHN: Moving up at 12 minutes before the hour, countdown is on, "LARRY KING LIVE" starts his show. But he going to give us a little preview right now.
Hi, Larry. What do you have tonight?
LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Paula, Paula.
ZAHN: Yes, Yes. Larry, Larry. Talk to me.
KING: Did you say Larry Kind?
ZAHN: I can't talk like you, Larry. I didn't come from Brooklyn. I don't know how to do that.
KING: OK. I'll take that as a compliment.
ZAHN: I know you love your hometown. I love your hometown, too. But I can't do those accents the way you do them.
KING: OK. Hey, we'll do a follow-up on Katrina, we'll see what's happening with Katrina -- Kat -- and also check on the latest developments in Aruba with -- what did they call them, arrests or detainments today. And get the reaction of the family to that.
And also over the weekend we'll repeat the interview on Sunday night with Lance Armstrong.
Paula, have a great weekend.
ZAHN: That you. And that was an amazing interview last night.
KING: Thank you.
ZAHN: For him to have the opportunity to respond to those charges when they were brand new.
But you're the guy that likes to make news, so we wouldn't be surprised. Have a good show tonight.
KING: Thanks, Paula.
ZAHN: Coming up, we have found a Web site you've just got to see to believe. It's a dating service, but it's exclusively for the most beautiful people in the country. Do you qualify? Jeanne Moos wanted to see if she would -- now that's not Jeanne. No, that wasn't Jeanne.
Ten minutes before the hour now. Time for the latest look at the headlines with Erica Hill of Headline News.
HILL: Thanks, Paula. An Iranian dissident is claiming Iran now has cruise missile technology that can deliver a nuclear warhead. And while that claim was being made in Washington, Iran's top negotiator told reporters in Vienna Iran has a need and a right to nuclear technology. But he says talks in Vienna aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear development will continue.
The terrorist group al-Qaeda in Iraq has posted a blistering manifesto on the Internet claiming the insurgency is stronger than ever. It asks Americans to please leave, but vows to destroy what it calls the American Empire. Also posted are dozens of pages defending beheadings and attacks of foreign forces in Iraq.
An independent commission rejects plans to close more military bases. Cannon Air Force base was among those making the cut as the commission asked the military to keep bases in New Mexico and South Dakota in use. Another blow to the Pentagon's plan to reduce military bases.
Doctors in Atlanta say Coretta Scott King is making some progress, but she'll stay hospitalized for at least a month. The widow of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. suffered a heart attack and stroke ten days ago. She is 78.
And the Danube is anything but blue in Germany these days. Rivers in Europe still swollen with mud and debris and no sign of relief yet. The death toll from the floods rose to 43 today.
Meantime at the London Zoo, human beings are the latest to go on exhibit. The humans are all volunteers, wearing fig leaves and doing some of the things humans usually do in the course of a day. Not sure what kind of snacks you're allowed to feed or not feed them, Paula, but we do know that pandas -- they may still win in the cuteness factor, along with the kangaroo. I don't know. Have a great weekend.
ZAHN: I don't know about that, Erica. Close contest. Thanks.
Coming up next, an ugly problem for online daters. The dating Web site that won't let you join if you're not beautiful enough. Stay with us.
ZAHN: So if you're looking for love, listen up. There's a brand new Web site that promises to match you up with only the most beautiful people in the country. In fact, they won't even let you in, if you aren't beautiful enough. So of course our Jeanne Moos took that as a challenge.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): All you beautiful people, you probably think this Web site is about you. Maybe both eyes, if you think you belong on an Internet dating service called BeautifulPeople.net.
(on camera): Look at that. How am I supposed to compete with that.
MOOS (voice over): Only beautiful people are allowed on, chosen by the beautiful people who are already members, some so perfect, their wash board abs inspire laughter. Only one in ten get in. We wondered what does it take to join the beautiful people.
(on camera): What we need is a guinea pig. Not him, me.
(voice over): In a fit of journalistic excess, I volunteer. First stop, the makeup room where they sprayed every pore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And maybe some false eye lashes?
MOOS (on camera): No, we're not going that far.
(voice over): A beautiful photo is a must if you want to be among the beautiful people. DatingHeadshots.com specializes in taking pictures that look good on Internet sites. Photo finished it was time to fill in the application with a little help from my colleagues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to lie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to lie on this one, too.
MOOS: Select body type. Slim, average, toned, athletic, muscular, cuddly or ample. Next we had to write a profile. Outgoing but reclusive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No that's not going to work.
MOOS: We opted for over the top. Basically, I'm here because I'm hot. Take my temperature.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
MOOS: We then had to choose from dozens of photos.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's too nice.
MOOS: I'm too sexy for my whatever.
Into cyberspace I went stacked up against cleavage and chiseled bodies and exposed, exposed, exposed flesh. Guys vote on female applicants. Women vote on men.
GREG HODGE, WWW.BEAUTIFULPEOPLE.NET: Is it elitist? Yes it is, because our members want it to be. Is it lookers? Yes, it is, because our members want it to be. Is it PC? No, it's not, but it's honest.
MOOS: And did I mention you have to pick a user name? Mine was feastyoureyes. For three days they feasted. You can check out your rating in progress on a bar graph. Remember take my temperature ?
(on camera): Temperature is plummeting.
(voice over): Though nine out of ten are rejects, that didn't soften the sting of the final e-mail. The members of Beautiful People did not find your profile attractive enough. But a producer up in Showbiz got in.
AMY SCHULMAN, CNN SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: I do think it's kind of rude. It's mean. It's mean. And I do feel bad.
MOOS: Beautiful people have feelings, too.
(on camera): How old are you?
SCHULMAN: I'm 27-and-a-half.
MOOS (voice over): She's gotten e-mails from two guys and even a woman, who called her absolutely stunning and offered to exchange numbers. So what's a rejected guinea pig to do? Maybe start my own Web site BeautifulGuineaPigs.com. Dark-haired beauty, with chestnut highlights, soft brown eyes, loves heavy petting.
ZAHN: Jeanne Moos reporting. And she really doesn't need to feel too badly. And Denmark's version of the Web site, one woman applied 50 times before she finally was accepted. That's it for all of us here. We hope to see you back here on Monday. Please stay with CNN throughout the weekend for the very latest on Hurricane Katrina. Once again, if the storm continues to track on its present course, it will make landfall probably Monday afternoon at some point. They're looking at Louisiana for landfall, Possibly Mississippi. Again, CNN will be your Hurricane Headquarters. Thanks again for being with us tonight. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com