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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Short Supplies Increase Frustrations In Florida After Wilma; Insurers Pull Out Of Florida. White House Awaits Possible Indictments; Man Searches For The Average American; Damage Estimate For Wilma $10 Billion

Aired October 26, 2005 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins, in for Anderson Cooper.
In Florida Hurricane Wilma is long gone, but recovery is just beginning. 360 starts now.

Two days after Wilma blew through south Florida, there is much to be done and many obstacles to doing it. At this moment, Florida Power & Light says they have reconnected more than 600,000 customers, but have some three million customer still to go. For many it could be two weeks before power is restored, in some counties, nearly a month.

It was another day of long lines and short tempers. People waiting for hours to pick up food, water, ice and other supplies.

And ten deaths are now being blamed on Wilma, double the number yesterday.

And 17,000 people remain in shelters tonight across south Florida. Nearly 10,000 Americans still stranded in Mexico, where they were vacationing when Wilma hit.

Two days after Hurricane Wilma roared across Florida, supplies, food, water, electricity are all now running low. Lines are getting long, and frustration levels are running high. It's easy to focus on the big picture, major floods and damage. But for thousands of ordinary people, out of the spotlight, their whole life has become a long, difficult struggle. But there are those that don't just cope; they rise above it, sometimes with surprising grace. CNN's David Mattingly reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Day two after Hurricane Wilma, and Marilyn Cramer (ph) of Hollywood, Florida, is shopping like her life depends on it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take it while they've got it.

MATTINGLY: Maneuvering through one of the few supermarkets open with generator power, the aisles are dark, more hectic than before a holiday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody took my cart. MATTINGLY: Some things like fresh produce are in short supply.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No bananas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No bananas.

MATTINGLY: A half hour later, four cans of low sodium soup and two packs of water will have to do. She wishes she could find more, but that's all she'll be able to carry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't grow old. That's my advice to you.

MATTINGLY: Because of no electricity, the elevator's out in her high-rise building, and 74-year-old Marilyn Cramer lives alone on the 11th floor.

MATTINGLY (on camera): How are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to rest just a little bit.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): With nothing more than a flashlight and determination, she makes it up the 160 steps.

(on camera): Where would you like me to put the water?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, maybe on the floor would be good.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): There's no damage to the condo itself, but it's comfort is compromised. No lights, no air conditioning, and sometimes no water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the water is on, I either take a shower or flush the toilets or wash the dishes.

MATTINGLY: Cramer considers herself among the lucky. Trying to be self-sufficient during a time marked by long lines, confusion, and growing impatience. For the second straight day on Hollywood, trucks loaded with ice and water kept people waiting. And the line for cold lunches at the Salvation Army grew longer, as residents ran out of supplies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have three children. We have absolutely nothing. We have no water left, no ice left, no food.

MATTINGLY: But like millions of others in the dark since Wilma hit, Marilyn Cramer is managing to get buy with little more than a good attitude to keep her going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In life, as in the dance, grace glides on bandaged feet. So, what's the point of pissing and moaning. Like, sure, my heart's pounding. Sure my knees were feeling -- so, what else is new? You know, you just do it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: Words we could probably all live by in these, what could be many post-hurricane days -- Heidi (sic).

COLLINS: Well, David, you found an extraordinary woman there. All right, thanks so much for that tonight.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, it's become the magic word in Florida: patience. Governor Jeb Bush and other local leaders have been surging residents struggling after the storm to take it easy. Help, they say, is on the way. But two days after Wilma hit, patience is a little hard to come by, especially when the cause of a lot of people's frustrations is the federal government. CNN's Jeanne Meserve looks at the latest round of FEMA troubles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At one distribution point, there was nothing to distribute. Demand had far outstripped supply.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No ice. No water. So, I'm still left with less gas than I came over here with, and still no ice and no water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you frustrated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm beyond that point.

MESERVE: The mayor of Miami-Dade said he was frustrated, angered and disappointed.

MAYOR CARLOS ALVAREZ, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: It's the process and how it's structured. And it's flawed.

MESERVE: Governor Jeb Bush tried to shush the criticism, particularly of FEMA.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I'm going to have a no criticize zone established as we focus on recovery. And if anybody wants to blame anybody, let them blame me. Don't blame FEMA. This is our responsibility, and we are doing a good job.

MESERVE: Plenty of Floridians disagree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People get aggravated because they -- nobody knows what's going on. They was confused.

MESERVE: Officials blame a shortage of fuel for trucks, debris in the road, unexpectedly large demand, and a storm that defied predictions.

CRAIG FUGATE, DIR., FLORIDA DIV. OF EMER. MGMNT: For the life of me, I always thought the hurricane hit on one coast, weakened when it got to the other coast. This one doesn't.

MESERVE: The secretary of Homeland Security promised things will get better.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There are large aircraft, C-130s, C-17s, that currently are on stand-by. They are going to go to other places in the country where we can get water and ice, load them up and fly them out here overnight.

MESERVE: On Thursday, more than 500 trucks are expected to disperse more supplies to distribution points.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Officials at all levels of government turned some of the criticism back on citizens, saying they had ample time to stock up on supplies and should have -- Heidi.

COLLINS: In Miami-Dade County tonight, Jeanne Meserve, thank you.

A different kind of storm surge is headed for Florida, a flood of insurance rates hikes. The numbers Wilma left behind are staggering enough. Damage estimates run from six to $10 billion for a hurricane that raced across the state in just seven hours.

Insurance companies say rebuilding costs are too high and insurance rates too low. Somebody is going to have to pay, and you can guess who. CNN's Gerri Willis reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Battered by hurricanes and by losses totaling billions of dollars, insurers are pulling out of Florida in droves. It wasn't supposed to be this way. After Hurricane Andrew 13 years ago, insurance companies threatened to leave Florida.

They persuaded the state to guarantee insurance for homes on Florida's volatile coastline, protecting the private insurance companies from the riskiest policies. The state created Citizens Property as an insurer of last resort, backed by payments on everyone else's policies around the state. But now insurers are again refusing to write policies in Florida, saying state law keeps premiums too low, and losses to high. They say Florida hasn't held up its side of the bargain.

ROB HARTWIG, INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE: What is fair to Floridians is if Floridians pay a premium that is commensurate with the risk that is being assumed by insurance companies, and that's not happening today. Whether we're talking about private insurers or the state-run insurance company, everybody is losing catastrophic amounts of money. That means premiums are woefully inadequate in the state.

WILLIS: Florida officials agree premiums have to rise, but they say for every insurance company that leaves, another will come in.

TOM GALLAGHER, FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER: We're encouraging people to be in the insurance business in Florida. Would we like to have more insurers writing more? Absolutely. We sure would. WILLIS: But it remains to be seen whether the insurance system in Florida will work or will it have to find another way to cover losses that continue to run in the billions of dollars? Gerri Willis, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Still to come on 360, you've seen the lines, you've heard the frustration. Is any relief in sight for the hurricane victims? We will talk to the mayor of Broward County about the progress there.

Plus, Halloween comes early in Washington. Why this man has made some powerful people a bit scared tonight. The latest on the CIA leak investigation.

And ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know this person. I want to know the myth that's out there the average American. I want to know the real person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: A nationwide search for the average American ends with a guy named Bob. There he is. His story and every man's sort of tale, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Before the break, we heard a lot about the struggles going on in Florida right now. Two days after Hurricane Wilma struck, many people still without electricity and many have waited hours in line for the basic necessities.

Joining me now by phone to discuss the recovery's progress is Kristin Jacobs. She's the mayor of Broward County.

Mayor, thanks for being with us again tonight. It was nice speaking with you last night, too, but we'd like an update. What's the situation in Broward County tonight?

KRISTIN JACOBS, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, there is some good news coming out of Broward County tonight, and that is we have had many, many deliveries of water and ice to our individual points of distribution. We have 17 of them scattered throughout the county and more is arriving as we speak throughout the night. And we will be up with those distribution centers tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock.

So that's good news for residents who have been waiting in line.

The other good news is that the Broward County Airport opens up tomorrow morning, and that is good news for those who are here, tourists that were stuck here and could not get out as a result of the storm as well as homeowners that are anxiously awaiting their opportunity to fly back home and find out about the damage to their homes.

COLLINS: OK. That is good news. But what about the roads? We talked about that last night as well. And also without power, you are dealing with a lot of traffic lights downed. Are they still down? And how's the debris looking that might be blocking those roads?

JACOBS: They are down, and 95 percent of the county is without power right now. That equates to about 850,000 people. Also without -- I would say about the same amount of people without phone service, by the way.

120-mile-an-hour winds did quite a number to our signalization system. It didn't just put it into a position where we flip a switch when we get power and the signals will come back. In most cases they were just completely demolished.

And we have quite a lot of construction in place that's going to go on in order to bring those systems back up. We estimate it's going to be a very, very long process.

Most of the water mains that were broken from falling trees yesterday are being brought back on-line. The "boil water" order for many of our cities was lifted today, and that's a good sign as well. That should also reduce the demand by the public to wait in line to get water.

COLLINS: Well, it sounds like things have certainly improved.

Mayor Kristin Jacobs, thanks so much for your time tonight. We hope you don't see anymore video of folks having to wait around too much longer. Thank you again.

Erica Hill from Headline News joining us now with some of the other stories we're following tonight.

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, Heidi. We start off with a major ruling today in New York. This concerns the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. A jury has ruled the Port Authority which built and operated the World Trade Center was negligent in the 1993 parking garage bombing that killed six people. The jury found improper maintenance of the garage was a, quote, "substantial factor in allowing the bombing to happen." Now a second trial will determine damages. The Port Authority, we should mention, does plan to appeal.

A federal judge is ordering the U.S. government to provide medical records to the lawyers of detainees at Guantanamo Bay who were force-fed during a hunger strike. The judge also says lawyers for hunger striking detainees must be notified before any of their clients are fed against their will.

Deja vu in Washington. Today, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers had to, once again, turn in her questionnaire answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee rejected her first, as you may recall.

Meantime, Republican Senator David Vitter is asking for more information on the nominee. He wants the White House to provide evidence that Miers is a conservative.

And meet the new top dog. A three-year-old Harlequin Great Dane from Grass Valley, California, has been declared the tallest dog in the world. He goes by Gibson. He measures more than 3 1/2 feet from paw to shoulder. But he stands upright, he's more than seven feet tall. He'll be in the next edition of the "Guinness Book of World Records."

Isn't that insane? I thought my dog was tall when he stood up and he's only, like, four feet when he stands up.

COLLINS: He's got quite a lick on him, too, there.

He does.

COLLINS: All right. Erica, thanks a lot. We'll see you again in about 30 minutes.

Thanksgiving ought to be an interesting holiday at the White House this year. There will be either relief and extra blessings to count or consternation and new wounds to lick. It will be clear which in just a day or two. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush and his top aides look busy as Washington anxiously waits for possible indictments out of the CIA leak investigation. The two senior officials who may face charges, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, seen shuttling between the White House and the offices next door, both present for Mr. Bush's 7:30 daily morning meeting.

Across town, cameras chased special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to try to capture his next move. One White House insider said, "the deeper we get, the more nervous we become." While the investigation is very much on everyone's minds, no one is talking about it. The White House strategy now is to focus on what the administration can do as it waits for the next shoe to drop.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So we're continuing to focus on what the American people care most about, those are the things that we can do something about. We obviously continue to follow developments in the news.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush's schedule is packed and on a normal day, probably would have made news. In the morning, a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, a strategy session with congressional leaders and a bill signing.

Later, a courtesy call with the prime minister of Macedonia and a speech on the economy.

Behind all this public animation, insiders say the White House is ready for the investigation's outcome.

Should officials be indicted, insiders say it is widely assumed they will resign immediately and trusted aides will move in to fill the void. The president will make a brief statement citing a legal process that is ongoing, and then he will continue with his schedule moving forward.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: He's got three long years ahead of him as president of the United States. This is not some sort of TV show that runs out of its ratings and suddenly is canceled. You can't cancel the presidency. You have to go on.

MALVEAUX (on camera): But one snag is how the president will win back his conservative base, torn over the Harriet Miers nomination which is currently being bogged down in a fight over documents.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Coming up, a secret Wal-Mart memo comes to light. What does it reveal about the world's largest retailer?

Also tonight...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): The black athletes seem to have, you know, statistically -- program, program, program -- you know, seems to have an edge, as far as the speed is concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: We talk to a man who says the unsayable about black athletes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: In tonight's "World in 360," a suicide bombing strikes a crowded marketplace in northern Israel. At least five people were killed, 28 wounded when the bomb went off in the coastal town of Hadera. The militant group Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility.

The attack came hours after Iran's president reportedly called for Israel to be, quote, "wiped off the map." Israel has condemned the comments, which appeared in Iran's state-run media. The White House says it's taking the remarks seriously, and France, Spain and Britain say their foreign ministries will demand an explanation from Iranian envoys.

And in Russia, remembering a deadly siege on a theater in Moscow. Today, several hundred mourners paid tribute to the 132 hostages killed by Chechen suicide bombers three years ago. On Tuesday, a monument was unveiled as a tribute to those who died.

There are an awful lot of people in this country -- politicians, TV programmers, marketers, moviegoers, those who sell everything from cereal to cell phones, cars to colas, who would dearly like to meet the average American. After all, it is the average American they are all hoping to appeal to.

Well, come meet someone who's done more than just dream; he's actually gone out to search for him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): This is the average American -- and we mean this guy right here. Who says so? This guy.

Kevin O'Keefe has written a book about his year and a half long search to find the average American. For Kevin, it was personal.

KEVIN O'KEEFE, AUTHOR, "THE AVERAGE AMERICAN": I really had a need to go out there and find the most average American, because to be honest, I was scared of being ordinary myself and it was really to face a fear.

COLLINS: Kevin scoured Census data, stared at demographic maps and traveled the country.

His target? One out of 280 million Americans.

O'KEEFE: I want to know this person. I don't want to know the myth that's out there about the average American, I want to know the real person.

COLLINS: Over time, he developed a list of 140 criteria this real person would have to meet like, attends church at least once a month, is regularly in bed before midnight, lives within three miles of a McDonald's.

In Connecticut's so-called quiet corner, the town of Windham, population 23,000, most closely matched Kevin's statistics as America's average community. Turns out, it's just 10 miles from where Kevin grew up. Now he just had to find Windham's most average person.

O'KEEFE: I knew so much about this person before I ever met them. I knew somebody I didn't know.

COLLINS: But -- and this is really weird -- he did know him. He was Kevin's high school custodian, the guy all the kids have called Zooman (ph) 25 years before.

BOB BURNS, AVERAGE AMERICAN: He looked at me, he said, "Bob?" I said, "Kevin?" He says, "Zooman." And we shook hands. I said, "What are you doing here?"

COLLINS: Bob Burns lives in his own home, has at least one pet, and can name The Three Stooges.

BURNS: Moe, Larry and Curly, and we can't forget Joe.

(LAUGHTER) COLLINS: Bob is married for 32 years to Sue. He has at least one offspring -- three, in fact, all grown and on their own.

On the Fourth of July, after Bob finished driving his float in Windham's annual parade, Kevin gave Bob the news.

BURNS: He says, "Through all the surveys I have, and the criterias that you have met, I have selected you as the average American."

O'KEEFE: The first words out of his mouth were, "What an honor."

BURNS: It was really awesome. It was really emotional. I felt great, great. It was a great feeling.

COLLINS: Bob Burns even prefers his peanut butter smooth, not crunchy.

But notice that unlike most Americans, Bob's left-handed.

Don't worry, though. That's not on the list.

Just one question: If Bob Burns is the only American who meets all 140 criteria, doesn't that make him above average?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: African-American kids can run very, very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Coming up, hospitals under siege because of Hurricane Wilma.

We're covering all the angles.

360 next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Damage estimates for Hurricane Wilma are as high as $10 billion. The storm that came ashore Monday on Florida's West Coast has turned daily living into a mess for millions of people.

At this moment, Florida Power & Light says they have reconnected more than 600,000 customers, but have some three million locations still to go. For many, it could be two weeks before power is restored, and in some counties, nearly a month.

It was another day of long lines and frustration. People waiting for hours to pick up food, water, ice and other basic supplies.

And 10 deaths are now being blamed on Wilma, double the number yesterday.

And while thousands of people remained in shelters tonight across south Florida, nearly 10,000 Americans are still stranded in Mexico, where they were vacationing when Wilma hit.

As you heard earlier in the program, basic necessities are in short supply in the counties hardest hit by Hurricane Wilma, and lacking things like electricity and clean water can mean big problems for hospitals.

Will Trower is president and CEO of the North Broward hospital district. He's joining us now from Ft. Lauderdale. Thanks for being us with us, Mr. Trower.

Tell me, when you don't have enough basic necessities, like water and gas, what is the impact on your patients?

WILL TROWER, CEO, NORTH BROWARD HOSPITAL DISTRICT: We've been fortunate in the past couple of days to be able to restore power and water to two of our four hospitals here in Ft. Lauderdale.

But, it does have an impact. It causes patients to seek shelter in the hospitals, to look to come into the hospital to receive care, and we've been able to cope with that. We've had emergency rooms full for the past several days.

COLLINS: But, what about people on ventilators, dialysis, I'm thinking about premature babies, perhaps? I mean, they all need very special attention. Are those individuals doing okay? Are they safe?

TROWER: Yes, they are safe. We've been able to, through the county, Broward County, to work with all the hospitals in Broward County in order to make sure if there's special needs for some of the patients, whether they're dialysis or neonatal patients, that those patients are transferred to hospitals that have water and electricity. It's worked out very well for us, although it is putting a lot of pressure on the health care employees, and they are doing a fantastic job.

COLLINS: Yes, you mention the employees. We are hearing a lot about the difficulty of getting gas in your area. How do the doctors and nurses get to work?

TROWER: Well, right now, I think most people fill up before hurricanes. That's a standard precaution. But, we are seeing some people, because of the distance they are driving, having to search for gasoline. We're working with the various emergency agencies to work on trying to provide some gasoline to those health care workers that are in critical need.

COLLINS: I understand there's sort of a makeshift area you have set up at the hospital. Can you tell us a little bit about that, how it runs?

TROWER: Yes, one of the things that we've needed to do is bring in staff, not only during the hurricane, but also for the after-care of the patients.

And some of the employees, the nurses and others -- we're actually providing accommodations for them, so, that after their shift, rather than traveling a distance to their homes, they can come in and stay within the hospital to be ready for the shift the following day. And that's helped out quite a bit. We're also providing cash advance for some of our employees because a lot of the ATMs are down, so they need to buy gas and groceries.

COLLINS: How full are the hospitals?

TROWER: Our four hospitals are all pretty full right now. We've seen, you know, as I said earlier, a lot of patients coming in with medical needs because there's no electricity in many areas of the county -- people with respiratory problems and dialysis problems are seeking shelter and care.

COLLINS: Will Trower, we appreciate your time here tonight and as always, we wish you the best of luck throughout the rest of this disaster.

Still to come on AC 360, is Wal-Mart trying to maintain a healthy bottom line by rejecting workers who aren't in tip-top shape? If so, doesn't that amount to discrimination? We'll talk about it.

Also tonight, New Orleans mayor invites his people to a town meeting and gets an earful of tough questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: It was one of those moments that kind of makes you scratch your head and say, did I hear that right? When the Air Force Academy football team lost this past weekend, there were reports that its coach blamed the defeat on race. Surely, those reports can't be right. But, as CNN's Brian Todd explains, they were.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Faced with the possibility of a second consecutive losing season, frustrated by a drubbing by Texas Christian University of Saturday, Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry was quoted as saying the loss was due, in part, to his opponent having more African-American players who could run well.

Here's what he said when asked on Tuesday to elaborate.

FISHER DEBERRY, FOOTBALL COACH, AIR FORCE ACADEMY: Afro-American kids can run - very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well.

I just want to recruit speed. We need to find speed as much as anything. The black athlete seems to have, you know, statistically, program, program, program. You know, seems to have an edge, as far as the speed is concerned. TODD: Late Wednesday, the coach issued this apology.

DEBERRY: I have made a mistake and I ask for everyone's forgiveness. I regret these statements and I sincerely hope that they will not reflect negatively toward the Academy or our coaches or our players.

TODD: In more than 20 years at Air Force, Fisher DeBerry has been hugely successful -- 17 winning seasons, 12 bowl victories. With that, he said to have acquired enormous influence at the Academy. One former player told CNN that DeBerry, a civilian, has the nickname five-star. As for DeBerry's future...

DEBERRY: There has been no consideration for stepping down from my job.

TODD: But DeBerry does not escape off-campus criticism. We asked sports sociologist Richard Zamoff of George Washington University, if he could make any interpretation other than racial stereotyping.

RICHARD ZAMOFF, PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think it borders on racism. It certainly is an insensitive comment. I would put it in a sort of historical perspective. He's certainly not the first coach and certainly not the first commentator to make stereotypical, insensitive, racist comments about the connection between African-Americans and sport.

TODD: But Air Force Academy officials continue to voice support for the coach and refuse to ask him to resign. Brian Todd, CNN Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Our next guest though does not believe DeBerry's comments are racist. He says, it is a biological fact that African- Americans are better athletes. John Entine is the author of, "Taboo: Why black athletes dominate sports and why we're afraid to talk about it." He joins me from Cincinnati, Ohio tonight. Thanks for being with us. Are we afraid to talk about it?

JON ENTINE, AUTHOR, "TABOO": Well, we are afraid to talk about it, if you are going to be called racist or insensitive for saying something that is hardly controversial in the science World. I find kind of the apology and the attack by the sociologists not only scientifically illiterate but appalling.

COLLINS: Well, tell me why -- I mean, what is your research back up? Tell me what sort of claims you are making about the physiology of African-American athletes.

ENTINE: Well, African-Americans are of west African ancestry. This is now a black/white issue. This is about how population genetics. This is about how populations in various parts of the world have developed a certain body type and physiology that might help them in certain sports. Whites tend to be better in weight lifting and in the field events that you see in track and field. East African athletes, like the Kenyans, tend to dominate in middle and long distance running. They are terrible at the sprints, by the way, so this is not a black/white issue .

But people of west African ancestry, because of their lung capacity, their muscle fiber makeup, tend dominate in sports that require the skills that are linked to those kinds of physiological and physical differences. It is really -- again, it's not a question in the science or anthropological community. It might be a little bit touchy because of our history of racism in the United States, of course.

COLLINS: But, Mr. Entine, there have to be some African-American athletes who would say to you, now, wait a minute. This is about blood, sweat and tears, and I work really hard to be as successful as I am on that athletic field.

ENTINE: Yes, well, that's exactly true. All biology does is circumscribe possibility. It doesn't create great athletes. Great athletes are individually created by intelligence and desire. Individuals make great athletes. So ...

COLLINS: But you do say they have an advantage.

ENTINE: Well, no, again, this is not a black/white issue. All I'm saying is that different populations, on average, will have certain characteristics that will allow more opportunities to do better. Look, men are taller than women. It doesn't mean you can't find an individual woman who's taller than a man. On average, people of west African ancestry are faster.

Could you find a terrific white sprinter? There are a few in the world. There are a number of white running backs and defensive backs who are NFL caliber, but relative to the number of blacks -- and they're a far smaller percentage of the population -- there are just fewer.

And so what he was saying was not only statistically accurate, but scientifically accurate. The fact he has to apologize -- I just -- it encourages this taboo and this kind of paranoia about talking openly about human differences which shouldn't be a racist subject at all, actually.

COLLINS: Coach DeBerry did apologize, I'm sure you heard you in the piece preceding this, saying his comments were hurtful, but that he never intended to offend anyone.

ENTINE: And who did he hurt or who did he offend? That's a little curious to me.

COLLINS: Well, he was reprimanded but, of course, not suspended or fired from the Air Force Academy. Has he done enough to respond to any possible hurt that may be out there? ENTINE: Well, I think he's responded in a way that's sad, but probably expected in the environment where people are not allowed to talk about these things openly. But I mean, my book was very well- received by "Scientific American" and other publications.

These are, again, not controversial issues in the science community. You might have sociologist who are afraid to talk about it and want to perpetuate the fact that oh, there are no differences between populations. But we know that there are. We know that Asians are smaller than whites, we know that Jews are more likely to get Tay- Sachs Disease. This is all out population genetics. It's not about race, and the sooner we can talk about it this, the better I think.

COLLINS: All right. Jon Entine, the author of "Taboo." Thanks for your time tonight.

ENTINE: Thank you, very much.

COLLINS: Ahead tonight on 360, will Wal-Mart try to cut its health care costs by hiring only younger, healthier workers? What does that say about the law on that?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: In just a moment the Wal-Mart memo that's causing a commotion. But first, I want to get to Erica Hill from Headline News joining us with some of the day's top business stories. Hi, Erica.

(BUSINESS BREAK)

COLLINS: A memo written by one of Wal-Mart's senior executives has proposed the company discourage those not in good health from applying for jobs, and hire more part-time workers. The world's largest retailer, which has been attacked by critics for shortchanging its staff on wages and benefits, is looking for new ways to reduce costs. Here's CNN's Adaora Udoji.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sometimes controversial megastore chain Wal-Mart prides itself on family values. But critics charge an internal company memo, one you were never meant to see, shows the nation's largest private employer caring more about profits than its one million plus employees.

TRACY SEFL, WAL-MART WATCH: What this memo reveals is that essentially there is nothing more than rampant corporate greed that rules their every move.

UDOJI: The health care costs and other benefits memo, which the company says was a draft, was leaked to a watchdog group critical of Wal-Mart. In the memo, a Wal-Mart executive says, quote, "our workers are getting sicker than the national population, particularly in obesity-related diseases. Health care," it says, "makes up the bulk of rapidly rising benefit costs to the tune of $1.5 billion over the past three years.

Among five solutions proposed to hold them down, the executive says, quote, "given the significant savings from even a small improvement in the health of our associate base, Wal-Mart should seek to attract a healthier workforce to design all jobs to include some physical activity as well as better informing their workforce."

Does that mean Wal-Mart wants younger and more able-bodied employees? The memo's author says no.

SUSAN CHAMBERS, EXEC. VICE PRESIDENT WAL-MART: We are very interested in encouraging more healthy lifestyle choices, if you will. As an employer, we believe the way we can best do that is providing better information, raising awareness and certainly offering choices that make for healthy life style.

UDOJI: Wal-Mart benefits executive Susan Chambers says the company already offers roughly 18 different health plans to employees across the country in 3600 stores which they are trying to improve. Following the leak, the company released its own official copy of the memo.

Critics say Wal-Mart pulled in over $10 billion in profits last year. And can do more for its employees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We talk about the world's largest corporation, the world's largest employer. They can stand to pay more for their health benefits. But instead, they are trying to cut corners. And they doing it on the backs of the lowest paid workers.

UDOJI: The company says, like many in the industry and the country, it's grappling with complex issues with the interest of both their employees and the company in mind. But some are not convinced.

Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: 360 next, millions of customers without power in south Florida. When will they get it back? We'll talk to someone who knows.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: As we've been reporting, hospitals in south Florida are struggling without power tonight, and so are millions of other customers, including more than 800,000 people in Broward County, and about the same number in Miami-Dade County. In Palm Beach County, more than 600,000 people are waiting for power. On the west coast in Lee County, more than 90,000 people are without power. And in Collier County, more than 85,000.

CNN's David Mattingly is standing by now in Oakland, Florida. With him is Maggie Duque, a spokesperson for Florida Power & Light, the largest supplier of electricity in Florida.

David, lots of questions tonight.

MATTINGLY: That's right Holly (sic). If we turned -- Heidi -- if we turned off our lights right now and our generator, we'd be standing in the dark right now with millions of other Floridians right now. But there's a very strong priority list. There are some things that are going to have to come first, correct?

MAGGIE DUQUE, FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT: That's right. And this is a process that's been worked for many years. Hospitals, police stations, fire stations, critical infrastructure are first. They come first.

MATTINGLY: And once you take care of those, I guess if people are on the same grid, they let their lights on first. But after that, where do you move?

DUQUE: After that, we really do it based on volume. We try to get -- and what we do is we divide the grids into areas. So, all the areas are being represented. And each area is working on getting the highest number of customers on as quickly as possible.

MATTINGLY: Some hurricanes knock down power lines with trees, this took out dozens of substations with took out tens of thousands of people at a time.

DUQUE: Of transmission.

MATTINGLY: How is this making your job more difficult?

DUQUE: This time, it's much more difficult. First of all, the damage was devastating. And secondly, it was a very wide area. Over 22,000 square miles were affected in the most congested areas in Florida: Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. By having so many substations without power, virtually some of the cities were all without power.

MATTINGLY: Recovery in this case is being measured in weeks, not days as you had in some past hurricanes. How long is it going to get everybody back online?

DUQUE: Everybody back on is November 22. And that would be worst case scenario. We don't want to give inaccurate information. We are doing everything we can do it quickly. We are predicting that by November 8, however, the majority will be on. And by November 15, we should have at least 95 percent of all the customers back on.

MATTINGLY: This storm took out the substations. This storm broke power lines. It broke power poles in half. You are rebuilding from scratch in some areas.

DUQUE: In some areas, we are. And it's very time consuming. We will have almost 11,000 employees working 16 hours, and this is line field workers, 16 hours a day, 15 days, every two weeks.

MATTINGLY: Maggie Duque, Florida Power & Light, thank you very much for joining us.

Heidi, back to you.

COLLINS: David, thanks a lot, and Maggie as well.

Two years ago next week, in the middle of a bizarre event, the trial of actor Robert Blake for the murder of his wife, there came another even more bizarre event a shooting, unrelated to the trial, outside the courthouse at which it was being held. Here's a look at those involved THEN AND NOW.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It was a shocking side show captured by TV crews gathered at the L.A. County Courthouse to cover the Robert Blake hearing in 2003. Attorney Gerald Curry was at the courthouse for an unrelated case when William Stier approached him, asked his name and opened fired. Stier then calmly walked away.

He was apparently angry that Curry was representing Stier's sister in a dispute over a trust fund. Curry was shot in the neck, both arms and shoulder, and taken from the scene by paramedics. Curry survived, recovered completely, and still lives and practices law in Southern California.

GERALD CURRY, ATTORNEY: When I leave the office, when I go to court, when I go to the parking structure, I tend to, you know, keep my eyes open, look around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the gun?

COOPER: Curry's shooter, William Stier, was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial and remains in a state hospital. But Curry says he doesn't harbor any bad feelings for Stier.

CURRY: The odds of this happening were probably one in a million. So, therefore, I try not to let I affect my life or not have any bitterness. I try to maintain a positive and optimistic outlook.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: I will never forget those images.

Thanks for watching everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. CNN's prime- time coverage continues now with Paula Zahn. Hi, Paula.

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