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When Will Northeast Dry Out?; New Orleans Struggling to Maintain Order; United States Prepared For Potential Bird Flu Pandemic?

Aired October 14, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. Glad to have you with us, as we wrap up the week here tonight.
A once great city fights for its life. The Big Easy is anything but.


ZAHN (voice-over): A city on edge, a justice system in shambles, police reeling from disaster, natural and manmade. New Orleans struggles to maintain order.

In our fight against the deadly avian flu, a crack in our main line of defense, in a drug we thought could defeat the virus. Where can we turn next?

And "My New Life," stories of success. All week long, you have reached out to hurricane victims desperate for new jobs. Now, wait until you see where they're heading.


ZAHN: And we are going to get to all of that in just a minute.

But we are following an important developing story in Iraq. For the past several hours, Baghdad has been blacked out after an insurgent attack on power lines coming into the city. Now, that blackout comes on the eve of a very important vote, both for the Iraqi people and for U.S. efforts to rebuild the country.

Let's get straight to chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour for the latest details -- Christiane Amanpour.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, the officials here say they're working on restoring that electricity. And it is slowly coming back. But the electricity minister said that, in the early hours of the morning, shortly after midnight, there was an attack on a main power plant, and that did cause most of this city to be blacked out, and affected a couple of other cities as well, as, of course, some water as well, because, without electricity, you can't pump water.

Now, this does come on the even of the vote for the referendum, the -- rather, the referendum for the constitution. And it is important, because it will help to clarify which way this country is going. It will provide, hopefully, America with a further aim towards its exit strategy. Some people are concerned, though, because, if the Sunnis, the minority, but powerful group, feel that they are still disenfranchised, it could further spin this country into fragmentation, some already saying that it's in a low-level civil war, Paula.

ZAHN: So, Christiane, what has been the reaction of the Iraqi people to this blackout tonight?

AMANPOUR: Well, not a whole lot. You know, it happened overnight.

There's a massive curfew, a massive clampdown, imposed by Iraqi and U.S. security forces all over this country. Nobody, really, was on the streets. There aren't any cars going around in -- in preparation for this referendum. So, we haven't been able to really gauge what it means for them. Of course, it is overnight, so, perhaps, many people would have been asleep anyway.

But -- but, you know, it's just yet another big psychological blow, electricity being very important, and yet another demonstration that the back of this insurgency has not yet been broken.

ZAHN: Christian Amanpour, thank you very much for that late update.

And we will stay on that story throughout the night and, of course, throughout the weekend.

Now on to New Orleans, and the battle to try to get the justice system there functioning once again. It has been a bad week -- no way around that -- starting with the police beating Saturday night that was caught on tape. But it's tough to get back to normal when things like that happen, and when there's an unpopular curfew in the French Quarter, and when your train station is a temporary courthouse, and when much of your criminal evidence has been washed away in the flood.

Here's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The New Orleans Police Department is reeling, not only from the hurricane, but also from its own internal disasters. No doubt, you have seen this one, the videotape of New Orleans police officers pummeling a 64-year-old man -- the three officers, charged with battery, appearing this week in court -- that is, if you can call this place a court.

This is the New Orleans Amtrak station. The main courthouse is in ruins. A criminal justice system struggles to function.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Court is called to order.


SIMON: No gavels here. The judge uses a pen. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At -- at this time, all filming must cease.

SIMON: These run-of-the-mill misdemeanor defendants line up to have their cases heard. The public defender tells them their rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would not have to testify if you went to trial.

SIMON: Most of the charges, curfew violations and public drunkenness. Nearly all plead guilty and are sentenced to community service.

MAJOR TROY PERET, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Right now, you're looking at homemade cells.

SIMON: It's a one-stop criminal justice complex. This is the jail, next to the train tracks.

(on camera): Is anybody able to sleep in here?

PERET: Yes. Sure. You can come in here midnight, and they will have a water bottle under their head as a pillow and they are sleeping happy-go-lucky.

KIMBERLY BUTLER, CLERK OF COURT: The waterline here that is, you know, five feet.

SIMON (voice-over): Here, at the main courthouse, it will obviously take a long time to get the place up and running again. It's clear, much of the evidence has been destroyed.

(on camera): As the clerk, you're in charge of the evidence.

BUTLER: I'm -- I'm the custodian, yes.

SIMON: Don't let Kimberly Butler's smile fool you. She feels enormous pressure. It's her job to oversee the massive recovery effort that can determine whether a defendant walks free or goes to prison.

SIMON (on camera): The question everybody has is...

BUTLER: Right.

SIMON: ... how much evidence did you lose?

BUTLER: Well, you know, that's -- that's -- that's really impossible to determine right now.

SIMON: Forensic specialists have been hired to comb through this mess to figure out what evidence, if any, they can salvage.

BUTLER: Katrina was such an incredible disaster that, you know, I think it would be inconceivable to think that we had saved everything.

SIMON: There's a lot riding on what you're doing here.

BUTLER: Well, there -- there is. There's no question about that.

SIMON (voice-over): Meanwhile, at the train station, as inmates chow down on MREs, Louisiana State Police show up with thousands of dollars worth of what they say is looted merchandise -- the suspect already in custody.


SIMON: Just one of many loads -- a criminal justice system, stung by scandal, barely getting by, and trying to do it in the midst of unprecedented national attention.


SIMON: A trial date has already been scheduled for these officers. It will occur some time in January. It will be handled by a judge.

And, if these officers are found guilty, they're each looking at about six months in prison -- Paula.

ZAHN: Dan Simon, thank you, for the very latest out of New Orleans.

Now, some people there see a connection between that taped beating and the stepped-up enforcement of a midnight curfew in the French Quarter. And, if you know anything about life on Bourbon Street, even after Katrina, you know no one likes to call it a night that early. Well, after a lot of complaints from bar owners and patrons, the police have finally come up with a compromise.

And Ed Lavandera joins us now with the details.

Hi, Ed.


Well, earlier this week, and in the few days after that videotaped beating, as you mentioned, this curfew had been in place for the last six or so weeks. And, all of the sudden, the police here in New Orleans started strictly enforcing that and, essentially, Bourbon Street and the French Quarter had started kind of coming back to life and everything. And, here, at midnight, over the last couple of nights, this street has completely emptied out.

But it's 2:00 a.m. now. And the bar owners and -- and French Quarter residents who we have spoken with today say, they're happy with that for now. They do under -- you know, no one here likes a curfew, but they're willing to compromise, for now. But they're -- many of the bar owners down here say, look, we make our money between 10:00 at night and 6:00 in the morning. So, you're cutting into half of our business.

So, they're hoping this is only temporary.

ZAHN: Well, they -- they may hope it's temporary, but, when you got the mayor coming out with a statement, like he did today, basically saying that bar owners should be very concerned about serving drinks in glass containers, because the glass could potentially be used as weapons, they have to be a little bit realistic here. Has nasty has it been getting?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, it -- it -- to -- to kind of give you a sense of what it's been down like in the French Quarter, for the last month and-a-half or so, you know, down here, it's been populated basically by relief workers and -- and people who have been involved with the recovery and the rebuilding process.

And it's 90 percent male, to be completely honest. And there are a lot of people who have been working 10, 14 hours a day, so, there's been a lot of tension. I haven't seen (AUDIO GAP) hit over the head with a -- with an empty beer bottle or anything like that. But police are definitely concerned. And there have been scuffles that we have seen from time to time.

ZAHN: Well, I'm happy to hear that the majority of the rabble- rousers are -- are men, Ed.


ZAHN: Thank you for that fun little factoid we can get some...

LAVANDERA: There you go.

ZAHN: ... some mileage out of.

Tonight, we move on to another story, and that is the threat of bird flu, which seems to get closer and closer, seems to get more chilling every day. European leaders held emergency meetings today to come up with ways to stop the killer disease from spreading. It has already turned up now in birds in Turkey, possibly in Rumania. In both countries, thousands of birds have been killed to stop the spread.

And, today, in Vietnam, U.S. Health Secretary Michael Leavitt said, the spread of bird flu from Asia to Europe is a troubling sign. And he says, migrating birds are likely to carry the disease even farther. There are reports tonight of people in Europe lining up to buy Tamiflu, almost a run on the stuff, the drug actually used to treat the disease.

And today, though, there's a new twist to this story. There is a worrying report that indicates, the bird flu virus might be developing resistance to that drug.

Now, with more on the situation, here is our senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the bad guy, a tiny bird flu virus with an innocuous name, H5N1.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

GUPTA: So far, 140 million birds have died, either directly from the virus, or have been killed to stop the virus from spreading. H5N1 has infected more than 100 in Asia and killed more than 60 of them.

And the worst-case scenario is that this H5N1 virus learns how to spread from human to human, just like the regular flu. That, experts fear, could kill millions of people.

And without a proven vaccine to make you immune from bird flu, the best that modern medicine can offer is a couple of antivirals. Antivirals fight the flu virus and prevent it from making you sick. They're made to protect you from the regular flu.

Tamiflu is the antiviral everyone has been talking about. Public health officials think it can provide good protection if taken as soon as symptoms show. But they're basing this on a few studies done in mice and only a few dozen human cases.

IRA LONGINI, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Tamiflu appears to be the only good antiviral available.

GUPTA (on camera): Now, isn't that a drug you're supposed to give after somebody gets sick?

LONGINI: No. It's recommended for treatment, but it's -- it's also extremely effective prophylactically.

GUPTA (voice-over): For adults, Tamiflu comes in a pill. But you don't need to take just one pill. Every person needs to take 10 pills, two per day for five days.

But public health experts believe, to protect yourself from bird flu, you need to double the daily dose. That's four pills a day. And you need to take it for twice as long, 10 days. So, now, you're up to 40 pills per person. And some of our leaders realize, the numbers just aren't adding up.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: Right now, we have enough Tamiflu to cover maybe 1 percent of the population, maybe 2 percent. We need 25 percent to 40 percent coverage. And, so, we are way short of where we need to be.

GUPTA: That's because, today, the U.S. government's national stockpile only has enough Tamiflu for 2.3 million Americans. Health officials want to have enough Tamiflu for eight million people within a year and eventually enough for 20 million Americans.

But the World Health Organization thinks that each country should have enough antivirals to protect a quarter of its population, to prevent a mass spread of a deadly flu virus. So, 25 percent of the U.S. population is 68 million people. Multiply that by the 40 pills each person needs, and now we're talking about needing nearly three billion pills.

But the government can't get anywhere near that, because only one company makes Tamiflu, Roche. And that company can't keep up with demand, because the United States isn't the only country ordering more Tamiflu. So are dozens of other countries. And they got in line first.

So, what do you do now? There's no deadly H5N1 bird flu here -- yet. Should you go out and get your own supply of antivirals?

Doctors we spoke with said no.

DR. JAY STEINBERG, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Not everybody can stock this medication. There's not enough. In addition, there are already reports of some of the avian influenza strains developing resistance to Tamiflu.

GUPTA: In a new study, scientists in Vietnam found that an infected 14-year-old girl developed a partial resistance to Tamiflu. She was treated in a hospital and survived. But the case is causing concern about the drug. There is another antiviral that works against H5N1. It's called Relenza. But, it's got its own problems.

WILLIAM CHUI, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: We suggest other alternatives, like injectable Relenza, for the treatment for -- especially for emergency cases, because, now, in Vietnam, they are using oral Tamiflu for the treatment. But it shows that the clinical efficacy is very slight. So, that's why we suggest to use injectable Relenzas, which, although is -- which is not available in the market yet.

GUPTA: Right now, Relenza only comes in powder form, which has to be inhaled, which is harder to take. And if we don't have enough Tamiflu, we really don't have enough Relenza.

The U.S. Department and Health and Human Services only ordered 84,000 doses. That's all the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, had left. Antivirals, with all of their problems, are only part of the fight against H5N1. Researchers are working on a good vaccine and early detection around the world. With those, and with antivirals, we might be able to defeat the microscopic enemy that has threatened so many millions of lives.


GUPTA: And, Paula, you know, we are talking about two different antivirals here. Again, both of those, we don't know how well they actually work in people who have the avian flu.

These have only been studied in laboratories and only in mice so far. So, all of this is somewhat speculative, still, Paula.

ZAHN: But you also made it clear, Doctor, they aren't entirely the answer either. You mentioned the prospect of a vaccine. How long a -- away is that?

GUPTA: You know, it's -- that's kind of a frustrating thing, Paula. I have got to tell you, you know, when it comes to a vaccine, it actually takes about six months to actually make a vaccine.

Now, we keep talking about the virus changing. And, maybe, you can already see what problem is here. If the virus changes, and you have already started making the vaccine, well, then you have got to -- all that vaccine is no good. You have got to start over again. There is a vaccine out there right now. It is not FDA-approved. It's still has to be tested. That could be several months away.

The concern is that that might just take too long. We need to develop a better way, a faster way, more importantly, of creating a vaccine -- Paula.

ZAHN: And is there any way to prevent it altogether, anything you can do ahead of time?

GUPTA: You know, this seems like a natural, random mutation of human nature. So, it's hard to prevent this from happening.

This has happened throughout history. It happened in 1918, killed lots of people then. It's probably something that's going to happen at some point again. Preparation is the key. A vaccine, as we have been talking about, this Tamiflu medication, the president has been talking about quarantines. We're better at taking care of people in hospitals, as well, nowadays. We have got to make sure there's enough hospital beds and enough resources available if this thing happens, Paula.

ZAHN: Are you still as worried about this as you were a couple weeks ago, when I last spoke with you about it?


You know, I think -- you know, again, the right answer is, we don't know if this is going to happen. That has got to be the right answer. People who say for sure it's going to happen and people who say for sure it's not going to happen, both of them, they can't know.

I'm actually going to go to Southeast Asia, Paula, and see what's going on, on the ground there, and see how worried they are about it, and see how they're containing it over there. That will give me a better sense. I will come back and tell you about it, Paula.

ZAHN: All right. Stop here first, please.

GUPTA: All right.

ZAHN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ZAHN: We move on now. A battle over babies is raising some disturbing questions about who's right and who's wrong. Check this one out. Is it the couple who wanted a child through artificial insemination, or the doctors who refused because the couple is lesbian?

And, after one of the wettest months on record, when will the Northeast finally dry out?


ZAHN: All right. I want you to check out this weather map of the United States tonight.

As you can see here, it looks pretty clear, except for one big blob, which finds itself hovering over the Northeast, where we are being deluged with rain that just won't seem to go away. We have just learned that the acting New Jersey governor has declared a state of emergency in parts of his state, along the Passaic River, because of the dangerous coastal flooding caused by this nonstop rain over the last week or so.

And another example of just how bad it has been is, more than a foot of rain has fallen this week in parts of Connecticut as well.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano joins me tonight from Greenwich, Connecticut.

And we can actually see him through that rain that doesn't seem to be stopping.

How awful has it been out there?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's actually -- this -- this is the one spot where it's really rained the hardest in the three days we have been covering this flooding situation, which has really been going on for eight days -- eight days of rain.

And those big green blobs on the radar scope, they will get you every time. And there's one parked right over the Northeast. We are situated in extreme southwestern Connecticut, along western Greenwich, where the Byram River slices there through the community of Glenville. This dam, built back in 1917, has been shored up this past summer, so, in no danger of breaking.

But, it is rarely like this. And the water has never been this high. Nineteen fifty-five comes to mind as the last time they saw any sort of flooding this bad -- problems in Connecticut, problems in New York and even bigger problems in New Jersey.

We take you to Spring Lake, where the water is up there as well. People are dealing with it. Some folks had to evacuate from their homes -- some folks getting by on canoes. And, certainly, a travel -- travel problems, as -- if you're trying to get around by car -- and a similar situation in Loch Arbour, New Jersey.

And we mentioned, there are spots where the -- there is a state of emergency out -- Fairfield also another town along the Passaic, which is seeing some big problems. Here, in Connecticut, we have a number of rivers, actually, about -- over 4,000 of these type of dams, none of which have broken. That's good news. But, some hillsides have come down.

In Montville, Connecticut, there was a mudslide. And there have been problems like that across much of this state -- south of New Hampshire, which is where this all started, the big problems earlier -- earlier this week -- raining very hard now, Paula. It's supposed to let up at some point, but it shows no signs of doing that tonight -- back to you.

ZAHN: You're allowed to bring out the umbrella every now and then, Rob.




ZAHN: And I don't want you to think I'm trying to steal your job, because it's enough to try to work in a driving rain.

But we are told -- and tell me if I have got this right, Rob, because this is your territory -- that there's a big high-pressure system from the Midwest that actually is going to push this rain out of the region some time this weekend.

MARCIANO: Paula, that -- that sounds very sweet coming out of your mouth.

And you're not stealing my job. And the folks across the Northeast are -- are excited to hear that. Yes, right now, the big green blob on the radar scope over the Northeast.

But it will slowly be pushed out by a front, followed by that high pressure, followed by dry weather, some time tomorrow, or at least Sunday, Monday. And it could last for four or five days. And that will be a welcome relief from a very, very soggy Northeast -- back to you.

ZAHN: And, to be perfectly honest, Rob, I actually stole your reporting from earlier on in the day. So, thanks for the assist. And we are anxious to get the moss that we all feel is growing on us, after this week of darkness.

In a few minutes, we are going to wrap up our series "My New Life."

Right now, it's time for a look at the hour's top stories with Christi Paul at Headline News -- Christi.


Another grand jury grilling for the president's top adviser. Karl Rove spent four hours being questioned -- all part of an investigation into a leak that revealed the identity of a CIA operative. It was the fourth time Rove has been questioned in the case.

Four people died and there were no survivors when two small planes collided in the air east of Akron, Ohio, today. Investigators are looking into the cause.

NASA says it wants to resume space shuttle flights by next may. Meanwhile, teams of engineers continue to work on why the orange foam on the shuttle's giant fuel tank has a tendency to break loose during takeoff.

And, if there's too much rain in the east, too much sun is the problem in California. The Los Angeles power grid declared a stage- one emergency today, after consumers -- asking consumers to save power because of high demand.

And those are the headlines, Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Christi. Appreciate it.

Meanwhile, the number of people out of work because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita keeps going higher and higher every day. But, this week, thanks to you, some of them have been offered the chance for a brand new life.

In a minute, we are going to meet two more storm victims and see if someone out there in our audience has a job opening that's just right for them.

And, a little bit later on, can a doctor refuse to help a couple have a baby because the couple is gay?


ZAHN: There are still so many things that we're all trying to get a handle on in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Experts predicted that some 400,000 people would lose their jobs because of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Well, the latest numbers are out. And the predictions, unfortunately, have come true. At least 438,000 people are now out of work because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That's why we came up with the idea for our series "My New Life."

And, this week, we have been profiling storm victims who are looking for work, desperately looking for work. They tell us their stories. We put their resumes on the screen.

And, once again, if you're an employer or you hire people and you like what you're about to see, please give us a call at 1-877-HIRE- ME5. You can also e-mail us at this address, Mynewlife is all one word. Or go on to our Web site at

I am going to leave it up to all of you to see if the match works. CNN has not verified the information provided by potential employees. And we have no opinion about the qualifications of any particular employee or the merit of any employer. Employers should follow their own best hiring practices in determining whether to hire any of the folks we are featuring here this week.

We are going to get an update now from some of this week's job seekers in just a little bit. We are going to hear from marketing expert Tanga Winstead, who lost her job at a New Orleans ad agency because no one is advertising, also Jerry Blake, whose motorcycle franchise was washed away by Hurricane Katrina.

And then we also introduced you to welder Raymer -- or, that is, Raymond Washington, who has been raising his three grandchildren, ever since his daughter died from breast cancer. So, he lost his daughter, his job and his home.

But, right now, I want you to meet an aspiring teacher who can't wait to get back into the classroom full-time.


LATRINA PETERS GIBSON, TEACHER'S ASSISTANT: I have my good days and I have my bad days.

I had a very busy life, where I was always on the run and going. And I enjoyed doing it. So, actually, these last three weeks of not doing hardly anything has been really stressful.

I have an associate's degree in early childhood education. I love working with kids. I have been working with kids since 1999. I'm over cheerleaders, where that's volunteer work. I'm over brownies, where that's volunteer work.

So, in the school system, I know it's not all about work. You have to actively be involved with children.

I did start looking for a job. But I was informed that, because of the influx of students and stuff they got, it may be Until October before they can start looking through applications.

I am a confident person. So, I know that I am going to have a new start somewhere. It's just going to take time.


ZAHN: And, unfortunately I guess you all have to have an awful lot of patients.

Latrina Gibson joins me now from Baton Rouge.

If you're in a position to hire people, the contact information is right at the bottom of our screen.

I guess we have permission to call you Trina.

And it -- it is so clear that you have such a great passion for teaching. What do you love about it? GIBSON: I love working with children of all ages, no matter of their developmental skills. Children are just have -- they just have a deep place in my heart.

ZAHN: And I know you a hole in your heart right now, because you haven't been teaching full-time.

You basically have been going from substitute job to substitute job, part-time to part-time job. How hopeful are you? And how important is to you to find a full-time job to teach?

GIBSON: It's very important for me, because I have been teaching since 1999. And that is my life. I'm also in school, working on a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. So, teaching is my life. So, it's very important to my welfare.

ZAHN: And how challenging have the last couple of months been for you -- actually seven weeks now, plus a day or two?

GIBSON: It's been very challenging. I have, like I said before, good days and I have bad days, and it's just unrealistic. It's unexplainable the days I've been going through.

ZAHN: And particularly when you try to understand that so many others have gone through it with you. Latrina, thanks so much. We're going to keep our fingers crossed for you. If you have a job, for Latrina Gibson, please contact us. The information will stay at the bottom of the screen.

And we're going to meet another job seeker in just a few minutes, but since the need is so great and we can't reach everyone, we asked CNN business anchor Ali Velshi to come up with a list of top five careers worth training for, jobs that in growing demand and pay some good salaries. He has been crunching the numbers for us.


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Crunching numbers is exactly what you'll need to do for number five on our list. Remember all those Wall Street scandals? The new rules and regulations created to deal with them mean huge demand for accountants and auditors.

The U.S. government says that in the 10 year period between 2002 and 2012, 200,000 accounting and auditing jobs will have been created. Median earnings for the profession are $50,800. You'll need a Bachelor's degree in accounting or related field.

And if you really like school, check out number four, elementary school teachers. The government says we'll need 665,000 of them. Median pay is about $43,000, and you'll need a Bachelor's degree and additional specific teacher training.

Climb on board for job number three on our list and become one of 590,000 new truck drivers this country needs. You'll make about $33,500 a year, but you won't need a degree or a diploma, just a commercial driver's license. And it's back to school again for job number two on our list, 602,000 new post-secondary teachers. Median salary, $51,800. And requirements vary depending on what and where you'll teach. You'll need anything from expertise in a particular field to a Ph.D.

And at number one, it might seem thankless, but registered nurses are in big demand and it looks like it's going to stay that way -- 623,000 new jobs at a median salary of $52,300 a year. And you'll need a Bachelor's degree or an Associate degree and a diploma.


ZAHN: And I want to thank Ali Velshi for that list and for being part of our series all week long. His information has been very helpful.

In a minute we're going to meet a retailer whose clothing store was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. Then after that loss, it was hit by looters. Bit first, here are some of the offers being weighed by the cook we met this week, Michael Addison.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is Mike Vadamo (ph) with NCL America. I'm calling concerning Michael Addison, a featured employee looking for work in the -- from the Katrina area. We are a cruise ship in the Hawaiian islands. We will provide room and board, Michael Addison, as we do all of our employees who work on board the cruise ship.



ZAHN: Hi, we wanted to welcome you back to "My New Life" on this Friday night where we try to connect victims of Katrina to jobs. Once again, if you're an employer or you hire people of any kind and you like what you're about to see, please give us a call at 1-877-hire- me5. You can also e-mail us at this address, -- mynewlife is all one word -- or go to our Web site Lots of choices for you out there tonight. No excuses.

Now I want to introduce you to another job seeker. He happens to be a retailer whose shop was hit twice, first by Hurricane Katrina and then by the looters.


ALPHONSO SMITH, RETAILER: Me and people have a vibe. It's just that we connect and it was like a God given thing like this is your calling -- this, you know, products. And from that moment on, that's all I've been doing is selling. We sold like costume jewelry, designer, urban wear, shoes. Our boutique shop, when what we did go back to see, my first thought was, it's over. You're ruined. Nothing. You have nothing. I want to get my family back together and rebuild our life because my heart and soul is in selling. Sales is my heart and soul. And I want to relocate. It's a challenge and I'm willing to take on the challenge. And if it's in my power, with the help of God, I'm going to be successful again.


ZAHN: And Alphonso Smith joins me from Baton Rouge. If you're in a position to hire people, the contact information is right at the bottom of your screen. Alphonso, great to see you. I know that you would like to open up your own shop again, but you're going to have to get a job before you have a foundation to do that. What are you hoping to find?

SMITH: I hope I can get off into sales, doing something I'm very familiar with and have a good skill at.

ZAHN: It's got to be pretty discouraging out there right now because you have so much company, so many people are looking for that kind of work. What's it been like for you?

SMITH: Well, it's very discouraging for me because me and my family, we're still in a shelter and we're homeless and we have nothing, no assets to fall back on. And our basic goal was our assets because our material was what we come up on. And we just through. We're through.

ZAHN: Yes, it is so sad, but I know you have the opportunity tonight to potentially reach someone out there that might be able to help you. What would you want to a prospective employer to know about you and your skills?

SMITH: I want to expect an employer to know, my skills, with anyone I get with, I can bring you business to a higher level.

ZAHN: That sounds like a ...

SMITH: I can be a great asset to any business.

ZAHN: A salesman through and through. Well, Alphonso, we are going to stay in touch with you and hopefully you'll get a phone call or two generated or an e-mail or a hundred generated tonight. I wanted to give you a very special thanks for joining us and sharing your story with us. Good luck to you. Alphonso Smith and before him, Latrina Gibson.

And I really want to thank all you and our viewing audience who have contacted us with inquiries about all of the job seekers we've met this week. We have been blown away by your generosity.

And three of them join me now from New Orleans: Welder Raymond Washington, marketing expert Tanga Winstead, and Jerry Blake whose motorcycle franchise was washed away. Great to see all three of you.

Tanga, I'm going to get started with you tonight. I know that you've wanted to use your marketing skills. You also want to stay in New Orleans. How's your job search going? Has lightning struck yet? We know you got a lot of interest from appearing on the show earlier this week.

TANGA WINSTEAD, MARKETING DIRECTOR: I'm still searching, but I've certainly had an exciting few days. It's very encouraging. It's not every day that you get a call from the former director of FEMA, so that's pretty exciting. So, we're still trying to connect.

And, also another exciting opportunity for a speaking engagement on the 26th of October in Washington, D.C., for the Katrina relief effort, for a whole series with the disaster relief company. So, we're talking and hopefully I'll be in Washington pretty soon and on my way to being the spokesperson for the summit series.

ZAHN: That is fantastic. You've been launched, Tanga. Good luck to you.

And Jerry, I want to talk to you. You talked so much the other night about your expertise in sales, you sold motorcycles, you lost your whole shop, and you say you still got the sales blood in you.

And we know you got a bunch of calls that night you were on the air to potentially move and continue with those sales skills. What looks interesting to you so far?

JERRY BLAKE, BUSINESS OWNER: Paula, thanks to you and your staff I've been in communication with a very high profile investor that's looking to get back in and recoup and to expand my turbine motorcycle and boat projects, as well as with that gentleman, Mr. Burt Naylor (ph) from Naples, Florida, that has those luxury automobiles about possibly a management position.

So,I'm traveling to Naples next week for a couple days and dealing with this investor and trying to see what deals I can work out.

ZAHN: So, you're pretty optimistic, aren't you Jerry? That you're going to find something that's going to make you happy and make your family happy?

BLAKE: Absolutely, I will find a way to make this work.

ZAHN: Yes, because right now you have to live with your parents, right? And raise your twins there while you try to start all over again.

BLAKE: That's correct, but, you know, we're all safe, we're all healthy, we're all alive and we're all thankful for everything that everyone has done for us.

ZAHN: Well, that's a great attitude, we all could learn from that.

Now, Raymond a lot of people who didn't hear your story would be amazed by what you've had to endure, not only losing your house, not only losing your job, but it wasn't too long ago that you lost your daughter to breast cancer and now you're raising her children. Have you gotten any offers for some welding jobs that are really look like they're for good, for real?

RAYMOND WASHINGTON, WELDER: Yes, ma'am. South Carolina, I've been offered a job with Aerospace Industry. And I'm going to take a trip out there on Monday to see what they're talking about.

ZAHN: And we know a man made a very direct offer to you to perhaps go to Utah to work for him. Did that pan out?

WASHINGTON: I talked to him and he said if it don't work out in South Carolina, come and check him out over in Utah. I'm on that mission to do what I got to do now, ma'am.

ZAHN: Well, I know you, too, have remained very positive throughout all of this and hopefully you'll be rewarded for that. Raymond Washington, thank you so much.

Jerry Blake and Tanga Winstead we hope to hear that you're gainfully employed very soon. Again, thank you for sharing your stories with us. Good luck to families as well.

We have a lot more ahead, including a controversial story that one side claims is a clear-cut case of discrimination. Or is it a clear-cut case of doctors sticking to their conscience?

And a little bit later on, it isn't brain surgery, which is what Dr. Sanjay Gupta's specialty is, but he's up to a few laps around the NASCAR track. Let's see what he found out.


ZAHN: And we're moving up on just about 14 minutes before the hour now and that means it's time for "Headline News Business Break." Here's Christi Paul.

PAUL: We have just gone through the biggest surge in inflation in a quarter century. The government says the prices consumer paid jumped 1.2 percent in September and 90 percent of that increase came from record energy prices as oil and gasoline spiked adding to the cost of nearly everything else.

American airlines says it will extend a reduction in scheduled flights until at least January because of higher jet fuel prices. The cutbacks are fewer than 1 percent of American's daily flights.

Toyota is recalling its hi-tech hybrid into the shop. 150,000 Prius models which use a gas and electric motor will have their computer software tweaked to avoid a possible stalling problem.

And hundreds of thousands of Americans race to file for bankruptcy this week before a new law takes effect. This happens on Monday. More consumers will have to pay back what they owe, rather than have their debts erased.

Those are the business break headlines. Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Christi Paul, thanks so much.

And in just a minute we're going to go to change some gears here. Actually, the gear shifting is going to be done by our senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I know the guy can handle it, but how fast will he go on a NASCAR track? Stay tuned.


ZAHN: Welcome back. All this week, we've been getting an inside look at one of America's most popular sports, NASCAR, and the physical and mental demands it puts on drivers. Well, tonight, senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who looks look he's 20 years old, gets a taste of what it looks like to take the wheel and race out there on a NASCAR track.


GUPTA (on camera): How do the g forces affect you?

WALLY DALLENBACH, TNT COMMENTATOR: Well, the g forces here aren't so bad. You can feel it get thrown into the right side of the car. This place is very physical because you're really driving the car hard. You're on the brakes, you're on the gas. Don't forget, we got 42 other guys here too. So that makes it a lot more stressful and a lot more difficult.

GUPTA (voice-over): Riding shotgun with NASCAR driver turned TV commentator Wally Dallenbach was a thrill.

(on camera): That gives me a taste of what it's like to be a NASCAR driver, but now I want to find out what's actually happening to my body at high speeds.

(voice-over): I signed up for the Richard Petty driving experience. Unlike the other drivers, though, I had a little something extra under my fire suit.

(on camera): Look at this. I got one of these life shirts on. It's going to be measuring all these different things in my body, including what's happening to my heart, what's happening to my lungs, whether or not I'm feeling frightened. I put this little thing in my ear, it actually even measures what's happening inside my blood.

(voice-over): Finally, I'm off for my first eight laps.

By the second minute of driving, my heart rate has jumped from 88 to 130 beats a minute. Then, after a short break, eight more laps. This time, I've added one more piece of equipment: A mask measuring metabolic activity, how much oxygen is consumed. That will tell us more about what kind of stresses my body is undergoing.

Since most people don't ride in stock cars, I decided to compare it to something people are more familiar with -- running. Turns out running was more strenuous on my heart, but my breathing was more rapid on the speedway. Still, my heart rate in the race car is about the same as a brisk walk. But remember, I wasn't racing against 42 other drivers for three hours at 180 miles per hour.


ZAHN: That may be true, but he also got up, as you can see on the screen, to 135 miles per hour. Not bad for a brain surgeon.

For more about NASCAR behind the scenes, please join Sanjay at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for "NASCAR: Driven to Extremes."

We're going to take a short break here. When we come back, we're going to hear from a bunch of you out there who might have some opportunities in mind for some of the victims of Katrina who you met a little bit early on tonight. Keeping our fingers crossed for both of you. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: And we continue our "My New Life" series. We're getting a bunch of phone calls for tonight's job seekers. Donna Dunson is on the phone from Florida. She's the principal and assistant superintendent of a charter school in Lakeville there, and wants to talk with teacher's assistant Trina Gibson, who we introduced our audience to a little bit earlier on tonight. So Donna, do you have a job for Trina?

DONNA DUNSON, CHARTER SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: I hope so. We have two jobs. We have a kindergarten assistant, and a third grade assistant. And we would -- I just immediately when she came on, she has a killer smile, seems to have a lot of passion too for education.

ZAHN: And I'm sure you had to be very moved by what she has gone through as she's trying to rebuild her life here.

DUNSON: Absolutely. And as I told your assistant, Lake Whales was hit by four storms last year, and Charley did the most damage, so even a lot of our students lost their homes during that time. So we definitely understand what people are going through there.

ZAHN: and you personally have been affected by storm loss as well, haven't you?

DUNSON: Well, just more the students. I mean, I had to move from my home four times, but, you know, that was nothing compared to what they're going through there. I just had to move things out and back in because I live on a lake. But a lot of the students lost a lot.

ZAHN: Well, let's go back to the woman with the killer smile, Latrina Gibson. I don't know if you heard exactly what Donna just said she has in mind for you -- a kindergarten assistance job and perhaps a third grade assistant job. How does it sound to you?

GIBSON: That sounds really good.

ZAHN: And you're willing to move to Florida?

GIBSON: Yes, I am.

ZAHN: And do you have a preference for the younger kids or the older kids?

GIBSON: It really does not matter, because I love all kids.

ZAHN: Well, they are going to be very lucky to get any of your time, so Donna and Latrina, we will connect the two of you during a break, and we are so delighted, Donna, that you were touched by Latrina's story. And Latrina, we're rooting for you. Good luck to you.

And right now, we have another caller on the line. This one for retailer Alphonso Smith. His clothing shop was hit by Katrina and then hit again by looters. He is now raising his family in a shelter. And on the phone now is Otto Meier, who happens to own a store in Atlanta called Horsetown.

Hi, Otto. Thanks for calling in. What about Alphonso's story touched you?

OTTO MEIER, ATLANTA STORE OWNER: Yeah, kind of touched me, yeah.

ZAHN: And you've got something that might be able to help Alphonso out and his family?

MEIER: Yeah, we actually have -- we have four stores in the Atlanta area, and we probably could use a good man like him.

ZAHN: He sounds like he has a pretty good touch for sales, doesn't he, Otto?

MEIER: Right.

ZAHN: And I know you...

MEIER: And we probably could help him with relocating too.

ZAHN: Well, that sounds even better, because he has kids he has to worry about relocating.

Alphonso, Otto just mentioned that he has four stores, and he might have work for you at one of those four stores. How does that sound to you?

SMITH: That sounds wonderful to me.

ZAHN: And you have no problem with uprooting your family and moving to Atlanta?

SMITH: Well, if he can help us with housing, and depending on what my family wants, I'll discuss it with them, no, I have no problem. ZAHN: No, he sounded like he might be open to that. So I'll let the two of you talk with each other. And Alphonso, I hope this works out for you. And Otto Meier, thank you very much for listening to our series tonight, "Our New Life," and we hope by this time next week we have some positive stories to tell you about, both of the candidates you met here tonight.

That's it for all of us here. We appreciate you joining us. We hope you have a really nice weekend. We'll be back same time, same place Monday night. In the meantime, "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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