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Pakistani Family's Fight for Survival; Glenn Beck Rally Controversy; Return to St. Marie Street

Aired August 27, 2010 - 06:30   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's Friday, the 27th of August. Thanks so much for being with us.

Welcome to a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm John Roberts, we're in the lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans this morning.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CNAHCOR: Good morning, John. I'm Carol Costello, in for Kyra today.

It's nice to see you, John, standing there in the lower Ninth Ward with lights on behind you.

ROBERTS: There are lights on in a lot of areas here in the Ninth Ward, Carol, but there are still a lot of homes that the lights haven't shone in so long.

It was five years ago Sunday that Hurricane Katrina roared ashore here in Louisiana -- winds of 125 to 130 miles an hour. It was a Category Three storm. By the time it was all said and done, 1800 people had been killed, more than a million --- almost one and a half million -- had been displaced, And as you can by these pictures from five years ago, vast areas of the city were submerged under ten feet of water. Where I'm standing now in the lower Ninth Ward was as much as 15 feet under water in some places.

At the time people were wondering how could the city ever come back from a near-fatal blow like this? Well, it has been a monumental effort. Over the past five years, billions upon billions of dollars spent.

And now, after all is said and done, much of the city is back. In some areas it's back better than ever, but places like here in the Ninth Ward, the lower Seventh Ward, there are areas where it was like yesterday that Hurricane Katrina came through.

There's been a lot of progress. No question. Here in Louisiana, Mississippi, other areas that were so devastated by Hurricane Katrina. But there still remain a lot of problems, even charges of discrimination in the recovery effort.

We're going to get to all of that this morning as we mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina roaring into Louisiana. All of that coming up in the next three hours, but first, let's go back to Carol in New York.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I can't believe it's been five years. Thanks, John.

Here's a quick look at what else is new this morning. New video released of the 33 miners in Chile trapped half a mile underground. We're getting a first look at their survival shelter.

You can clearly see, it is dark and cramped and it's hot down there. Dirty and the 25-minute video, we see where the men sleep, where they play cards, where they brush their teeth. The men each sent a message to their families. We'll have much more on this later.

Former President Jimmy Carter is on his way back to the United States this morning and in tow, an American who has been in a North Korean prison since January. Aijalon Mahli Gomes was granted amnesty after he was sentenced to eight years of hard labor for illegally crossing into the country. The State Department welcomed his release.

Contaminated chicken feed is one of the likely sources of a salmonella outbreak that sparked a massive egg recall. According to the FDA, samples of the feed given to hens at two Iowa farms tested positive. The bacteria was apparently also found in the farm's barns and walkways. So far nearly 2,500 people have gotten sick.

And choppers trying to (enter) a wall of fire in Washington State. Homeowners in the area say the wildfires started when winds snapped a pine tree and it hit a power line. Forty mile per hour wind gust have the sent the flames across at least 1,200 acres burning two homes with dozens more in its path.

With that, let's get a quick check of this morning's weather headlines. Two major storms churning in the Atlantic and of course, high winds out there. Reynolds Wolf is in for Rob Marciano this morning. Good morning.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. We are really following these two big storms, one of which happens to be the strongest storm on the planet. We're talking about Danielle. Let's show you the latest stats.

This is now a Category 4 storm, a major hurricane with maximum sustained winds right at 135 miles per hour, but some gusts have been going up to 160.

As you take a look the map here, it is expected to pass to the east of Bermuda, but, again, as a major hurricane. Then it is expected to veer as we get into the weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Beginning to weaken a little bit as it drifts into the northern Atlantic and then dying out as we get into Tuesday.

But again, that's not the only storm we're following. We also have Earl out there. Earl for the time being happens to be a tropical storm, but it is also expected to intensify as we fast forward into Sunday, Monday and possibly Tuesday. The storm just south of Bermuda and this could also become a major hurricane. At least forecast to have that intensity into Tuesday. We're going to tackle those storms coming up in just a few moments plus we're going to give you a look at what to expect nationwide weather wise. Let's head back to you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Reynolds. I appreciate it. Let's head back to New Orleans now and John Roberts.

John, you're right, it is strange to drive through the streets of New Orleans. There are even some of those red "Xs" that we saw so often right after the floodwaters came into the city of New Orleans, you know, indicating that this house was going to be torn down. There are still homes with those marks on them today.

ROBERTS: Well, they're not just homes with those marks on them. There are thousands upon thousands of structures, Carol, that are like they were five years ago. Like time has just sort of frozen them the way they were right after the storm.

Just want to let you know where we are. We're live this morning in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. It's the ward that was hit so hard by Hurricane Katrina. To show you a tale of two cities, of two recoveries this morning.

Five years after Katrina, there are plenty of glimmers of hope. But as can you see all around me -- I know it is a little bit dark -- many places are like they're frozen in time. There is a church behind me used as a nursery prior to Hurricane Katrina.

It is still as it was five years ago. There are a couple of houses that had been rebuilt. There are other houses waiting to be rebuilt and there's some that probably will never be rebuilt. Of all of the places in New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina, none suffered more than the lower Ninth Ward.

It's also one of the poorest areas of the city where people ran to their rooftops desperately waved their hands for help as water poured over the top of the levee along the industrial canal just a little bit west of us here.

For many, the hurricane could have been last week, the emotion still so strong in this area, the road back so very slow. But for others across the greater New Orleans area, the hurricane was just a distant memory.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Five years after Katrina, there are signs of rebuilding and new growth in New Orleans, a research and development center downtown, a shopping center mid city, town houses in Gentilly where a public housing project once stood.

The gleaming renovation of the super dome where the champion New Orleans Saints play a preseason game tonight. A world away from the festering squalor in the days after Katrina. When you're here, you get the real story, but looking in from the outside, it can be seen quite differently.

(on camera): For many people across the country, the image of New Orleans is one of two things -- the city is either still in a lot of trouble with damaged infrastructure and many buildings uninhabited, or it is totally back to normal and there are no more problems.

In truth, it is actually a little bit of both. If you're here in the French quarter or in the downtown section, things are, if not back to normal, in many cases better than they ever were. But all you have to do is go a little east of here to the lower seventh, lower Ninth Ward to find that New Orleans still does have a whole lot of problems.

(voice-over): In New Orleans' upper Ninth Ward, Musicians Village is one bright spot amid the lingering devastation. But Mark Greene who lives blocks away is still rebuilding his home and is frustrated that more hasn't been done to help.

MARK GREENE: We still are struggling. Having problems with red tape or getting paperwork filed. Politicians coming down, actually walking through the neighborhood like they were doing before. Right now, they kind of like walked away, just go home.

ROBERTS: Greene took us on a tour driving us from his house to his mother's in the lower Ninth Ward.

GREENE: You see the trees, the grass is high. There used to be houses on these streets. All you see is foundation. People done gave up or in some cases money never came on time and they just done gave up. This is on the way to mom's house.

I have to worry about her being out here by myself because she won't come over to my house. Guess what? Ma still runs things. That's my mom's house on the left right here. She's the only house on this side street of the block. That's her house right there.

ROBERTS: It's a bit of the classic vicious circle here. People are trying to come back, but there is not enough housing or services. Businesses are trying to get off the ground to provide local services and spur new growth, but the customer base is too small to survive so what to do. Allen Jenkins is executive director of the opportunity agenda.

(on camera): So how do you even out that recovery?

ALLEN JENKINS: Any time public funds are used, let's have as a filter, is it creating greater and more equal opportunity, is it really making sure that everybody is moving forward?

ROBERTS (voice-over): Ironically, some businesses are making money in the struggling wards, tour companies who run sightseeing buses through the neighborhoods. When it might seem a little macabre, Mark Greene welcome the tours, welcomes the chance for tourists to see first-hand this tale of two cities.

GREENE: Come see it for yourself. Don't stop on Bourbon and that's the only place. Stop on canal. Come on down to the Ninth Ward where everybody caught hell -- if I can say that -- but we still got hell going on down here.


ROBERTS: There is still so much work to do, but, you know, when you drive through these neighborhoods and you remember what they looked like five years ago, as much as 15 feet of water in places like where we are right now, it is remarkable in many ways that they've been able to come back at all.

Carol, we've got a lot of coverage coming to you from New Orleans this morning. We're here in the lower Ninth Ward. Soledad O'Brien is going to joining us, along with Anderson Cooper.

Our Jeanne Meserve will be here. We're going to speak with Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the head of the New Orleans Police Department Ronal Serpas will be joining us. We'll be talking with a lot of other folks here from the New Orleans area about whether or not this recovery has really been what they thought it was going to be or whether it has actually maybe surpassed their expectations. A lot of different opinions as do you when you talk to folks from Louisiana.

COSTELLO: All fascinating. Thank you, John.

The former head of the Republican National Committee is making a big statement. Up next, mixed reaction to the announcement Ken Mehlman says he was 43 years in the making.


COSTELLO: The former chairman of the Republican National Committee says he understands the anger towards him. In an interview with CNN's John King, Ken Mehlman talked about criticism he's faced since announcing that he's gay.

He says he regrets backing a Bush ban on same-sex marriage and should have done more to reach out to gay Republicans. Mehlman is now working on a California ballot initiative against Prop 8.

Here's one way to prove you're a family-friendly candidate, propose to your girlfriend during a debate. That is exactly what Christopher Young did, the Democrats' perennial candidate for mayor of Providence, Rhode Island. Reaction in the blogosphere has been mixed. Some headlines calling it sweet, others awkward. You decide.


CHRISTOPHER YOUNG, (D) PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND MAYORAL CANDIDATE: What I want to say is that now is time to rebuild a new. Now is the time to reach our potential. Now is the time for me as well to start anew and thank those who have helped me throughout my life and loved those who have helped me throughout my life. I want to say to Carol, will you please marry me?

COSTELLO: What? I'm glad Poppy Harlow's with me now. We just have to talk about this. He was proposing to his long-time girlfriend. He is his long-time campaign manager. She said yes. POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: I would hope so!

COSTELLO: Do you think they planned it though?

HARLOW: I think he probably talk it over with his advisor.

COSTELLO: She's his campaign manager. It was so romantic, wasn't it? Anyway, Poppy Harlow's here to tease one of the big business stories of the day.

HARLOW: One of the big business stories today, not romantic at all folks. American Airlines slapped with a record fine $24.2 million. They're obviously fighting that, but it is all about safety violations that could really have affected all of us.

We're going to tell you what American has to say for itself coming up after the break.


COSTELLO: Well, this would make me feel extra safe when you fly. American Airlines has been slapped with one of the largest fines in history for safety violations.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Safety violations. This is the biggest fine ever, $24.2 million. The FAA - it just came out late yesterday. The FAA says this is what American did. They, quote, "Failed to properly inspect wire bundles in the wheels of their MD-80s." These MD-80s are their older aircraft. They're phasing them out anyways.

But look, it's serious. The FAA said this could have led to fires, fuel tank explosions. It caused American - you know, you'll probably remember this if you were one of the flyers - to ground their planes in 2008, about 1,000 flights.

But if they're fined this amount - look at what American has gone through. They lost $1.5 billion last year, they lost $10.7 million last quarter. This would be a massive hit for the airline. The airline says, look, there were no safety violations and they have 30 days to respond to this, so they will try, like other airlines, Carol, to negotiate down this fine.

But I want to be very clear here and show everyone out there exactly what American said, because they're adamant that there was never a flight safety issue. They said we will challenge any proposed civil penalty. We're confident we have a strong case and that the facts will bear this out.

But I think, you know, the real question here is we've seen airline after airline fined for these safety issues, and people just have to look at the history. Look at 1987, Eastern Airlines paid a $9.5 million - were fined $9.5 million. They ended up negotiating that all the way down to just $1 million. 2008, we'll remember Southwest Airlines. Remember that one?

COSTELLO: Oh, yes. I do remember that one. HARLOW: That was a big one for Southwest because they had to sort of sell a reputation. That was a $10 million fine. They negotiated that down to $7.5 million. And then, American again, for maintenance issues, paid $787,000 in fines.

So this would be huge. This would be double the biggest fine ever levied against an airline. This is - this is a huge deal for American. They're fighting it. But the bottom line is they're trying to phase out these airlines. A lot of maintenance issues with them.

COSTELLO: Poppy Harlow, thanks. You'll be back later?

HARLOW: Be back later.


Let's head back to New Orleans and John Roberts. And, John, I hope you're having fun down there, too because, you know, in visiting New Orleans, it's a great, fun town.

ROBERTS: Well, you know, when you work the hours, Carol, that we work, it's a little difficult to have fun in a place like New Orleans which really doesn't get going -

COSTELLO: Oh, no. I find - I find my fun -

ROBERTS: -- until about 10:00 at night.

COSTELLO: I find my fun time anywhere I am, no matter what.

ROBERTS: Let me tell you, it is about 5:20 in the morning and there are places in this town where people are still lighting it up. So, yes, it's going. No question about that.

In terms of the recovery, it's been a long and taxing five years here in New Orleans. Katrina was just the beginning of a long series of storms that battered the Gulf Coast. Rita, Gustav came after that. On top of that, the BP oil spill. It's handed New Orleans a whole new set of challenges.

Well, how are residents doing in trying to prove that they're not down and out by this whole thing?

"Treme" writer Lolis Eric Elie and "Newsweek's" Julia Reed join me, coming up next to talk about whether this has been an equal or unequal type of recovery. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Amazing pictures of then, 2005, and now. The same neighborhood.

It's been a grueling five years here in New Orleans - Katrina, then a barrage of other storms, the recession, now the oil spill has also taken its toll. Where do things stand now for the Big Easy, the Crescent City? Joining me now to talk about this, two of the city's most vocal champions, "Newsweek" contributing editor Julia Reed. She's the author of "The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story." And Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans-based filmmaker and writer for the HBO series, "Treme". The show tells the post-Katrina story of the New Orleans neighborhood of the same name, and it's a fabulous, fabulous show, we should - we should point out.


ROBERTS: Thanks so much for getting up early because I know you were at a film premier last night. How was the film, first of all?

ELIE: Oh, it was great.


ELIE: And (INAUDIBLE) the film called "The Big Uneasy", laying to bed the myth that Hurricane Katrina did New Orleans in. It was a failure of the federal levees, the same levees in flood systems that endanger much of America, and no one's paying attention to that.

ROBERTS: Yes. Well certainly there's been a lot of reconstruction, as we saw just there at the levees. The question is, though, do people trust that they're going to hold?

Let's - let's get your perspectives, first of all, because I know you differ somewhat on this. Your perspective on the recovery so far, Julia?

REED: Well, I mean, certainly five years into it we are - I mean, it's a whole - it's a different planet. I mean, it's not just a different city, it's - it's like another universe. I mean, you've - you all have been showing footage what it was like for - for days now, but, you know -

I mean, I would say that - that for the most part this is a better place in - in a lot of ways than it was pre-Katrina. I mean, we got a hell of a wake-up call.

ROBERTS: Lolis, you agree?

ELIE: Well, the spirit here is incredible. We got to remember that we were left for dead five years ago. The truth is 25 percent of our people have not returned, so we can celebrate the fact that 75 percent of us are here. We got a whole lot of new people come in, but what happened to those people? And why is there less concern about them? And that - that bothers me still.

REED: Well, I don't think there's less concern. I mean, Lord knows, we're all - I mean, anybody who calls this place home is - is totally concerned about that.

But I do think you have to take - I mean, we - we're pros at this point in taking your silver linings where you can find them, because we didn't have much of a choice. And so, you know, you've got a - you've got a school system that pretty much didn't exist before Katrina. I mean, people all across the country wished that they had - just could blow up a dysfunctional school system and start over.

ROBERTS: The school system was singularly horrible.

REED: You wish that a biblical, you know, proportion flood, it would not have been the thing to take it out, except it's the only thing politically that you could have done. So, you know, the people - for the people who are here, you've got a functioning school system. At this point, we've got a functional mayor, which is - which is a new twist. You've got a chance at a - at a police -

ROBERTS: You know, they're trying to get a functional police - police force as well.

REED: Right. I mean, right now we're kind of look like in Mexico but (ph) -

ROBERTS: But, you know, there's - there's this talk that there were - there were two recoveries here, that this is a tale of two cities. There's a downtown area of New Orleans, which is back and brighter than ever. They're even polishing up the Super Dome. It looks terrific. And then you come to places like the Ninth Ward and you see, you know, almost 50 percent of the homes here are very much like they were five years ago.

ELIE: Well, there were some priorities set from the very beginning. Getting the Super Dome ready became a priority. No one was asked whether or not we wanted to spend our energy to make that the priority.

When you talk about the new school system - I'll give you a classic example. Luxury (ph) Elementary School, where my mother was once principal, they are a great school. They got to take over Fortier (ph) Senior High and make it into a great school. Nobody asked whether or not the Fortier (ph) kids wanted to come back. It was assumed that these poor kids, these black kids, were either not coming back or simply didn't matter.

When we talk about an improved school system, one-quarter of our students, many of them our lowest performing students, are not here. If you gave me a school and took away 25 percent of the worst- performing students, I could make it look better as well.

REED: Well, I think, I mean, it's a little bit unfair. Listen, I agree with everything you're saying except that what - what school system - I mean, we had a school system that didn't function, period, across the board. I mean, it had been looted by the school board. I mean, you know, I remember asking a kid who had gone to - to school in Baton Rouge briefly who had been a student in the school system here, which one did you like best? And she said, oh, Baton Rouge. They had toilet paper. I mean, that's how low -

ROBERTS: Right, right, right.

REED: -- the bar was.

ROBERTS: So you're - so you -

REED: So the fact that we've got "a" school anywhere, forget about Fortier or Luxury (ph), anywhere functioning. I mean, I went out with the National Guard when it was still flooded and they were looking at - at buildings and saying, wow, that school really got a lot. I'm like, no, no, no. That's what it looked like before Katrina.


ROBERTS: But you're suggesting is things - things are much better now than they were pre-Katrina to some degree and you're saying -


ROBERTS: -- but still a lot of work to do.

ELIE: There's definitely a lot of work to do. And I think in addition to the legitimate progress that's been made, some of which Julia has pointed out, there is this effort to assume that everything - that was - that was existed before was so terrible that it had to be totally - totally redone.

As an example, we fired all - all of the public schoolteachers. Well, come fall of 2006, we didn't have enough teachers to teach the kids. These kids in this new school system found themselves crowded and eating lunches that were still frozen. These kinds of things get less reported in our effort to say that charter schools are the answer.

ROBERTS: Now, obviously, you've always got problems in a big city. Even - even one that's had as much focus as - as New Orleans. You're always going to have problems here. But how long before the problems of New Orleans become sort of what we're used to on a - on a regular basis across the country and major urban centers?

REED: Oh, I mean, you know, I can't answer that. But what I'm -

ROBERTS: Are we talking five years?

REED: Yes.

ROBERTS: Ten years? Will it ever fully come back?

REED: Well, I mean, there's not going to be a perfect urban America.

ROBERTS: No. That's what it said (ph).

REED: There's no such thing. Exactly. So, I mean -

ROBERTS: But how long do you get back to a normal level of dysfunction, is what I'm saying?

REED: We've never been normal on any level, dysfunctional or not. But, I mean, you know, I mean, all I'm saying is that the - that the good things have happened since Katrina to me are an improved school system. I don't think that you can argue that, but we also more of a city backbone.

I mean, you know, Lolis will tell you that pre-Katrina, this city was truly the Big Easy. Oh, whatever. You know, I mean, people did not really - I mean, did not take responsibility for themselves in a lot of ways.

ROBERTS: But there seems to be a new focus on responsibility now.

REED: You know, people I think after the storm realized you get the government you deserve, you get the city you deserve, and it really was a wake-up call. I think there's a level of involvement that I'd never saw before.

ROBERTS: Well, it's great to talk to you folks this morning. Thanks so much for dropping by and we'll let you go back home and go to sleep.

ELIE: All right. My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

REED: My pleasure (ph).


COSTELLO: But they were pretty perky though, I must say.

Checking this morning's top stories, new video is giving us -

ROBERTS: Perkier.

COSTELLO: -- an amazing look at the horrible conditions, 33 Chilean miners are enduring deep below the ground. And the 25-minute video we see where they sleep, play cards and brush their teeth. The men each sent a message to their families. They also give a tour of the cramped, dark and dirty shelter that they will be trapped in for months.

And headed home. Former President Jimmy Carter securing a special pardon for an American being held in a North Korean prison for nearly eight months. Aijalon Mahli Gomes was sentenced to eight years of hard labor for illegal - for illegally crossing into the country. The state department welcomed his release.

The man accused of stabbing 18 people in a three-state spree will be evaluated by a psychiatrist today. Officials in Michigan say they're worried Elias Abuelazam could hurt himself. You may remember he was arrested 16 days ago in Atlanta trying to board a flight to Tel Aviv. Officials say everything in his cell is break-away so he can't hang himself and he will be checked every 15 minutes.

And, John, we wish we could tell folks good news coming out of Pakistan, but sadly, we can't this morning.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. You know, we're talking about New Orleans recovering from the flood this morning five years later, but when you turn to the desperate fight for survival in Pakistan, it's just terrible. The situation is not getting any better. A senior U.S. official tells "Reuters" there's evidence that Pakistani militants and affiliated charities are exploiting victims of the floods to try to win public support for their cause.

The State Department is also issuing a warning to aid workers that militants could attack now that the government has been substantially weakened. And to make matters worse, even more rain is expected over the next 24 hours.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is in Sindh, Pakistan, with one story after family's struggle in this CNN exclusive.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fighting chance, here in Sindh, Pakistan. It is all they can hope for.

(INAUDIBLE), a farmer, didn't get any warning when the floods came.


GUPTA: "We just ran," he says. He grabbed his wife, his kids, and he ran. And they took all they could.

You're looking at it here. They are staggeringly poor. But they wanted a fighting chance. Escaping the flood, they thought they made it.

"She started to get a fever. She couldn't keep anything down. She had lots of belly pain." She's talking about her 3-month-old daughter, Benazir (ph). A few days later, she described the same exact thing happening to her son, 2-year-old Wazira (ph).

(on camera): They brought both Benazir and Wazira here, to civil hospital. And doctors right away knew that these children were sick. But with such limited resources, there is only so much they can do. Let's take a look.

You have two to three patients per bed in this hospital. Do you have enough beds? Do you have enough resources?

DR. G.R. BOUK, PAKISTAN CIVIL HOSPITAL: No. Because of this, there is no resources, because of the huge (INAUDIBLE) population and there is some population from (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA (voice-over): The problem -- bad water, everywhere. With not enough good, clean water to go around, well, many -- too many -- have started to drink this, millions. Diarrheal illness, cholera, dysentery, typhoid.

(on camera): And some of the children around here look very sick. And you have two, at least two children per bed, some on the floor. Are you going to run out of space eventually? I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there. BOUK: Yes.

GUPTA: What happens to them?

BOUK: At the moment, we can't do anything.

GUPTA: What are the chances this child is going to survive?

BOUK: I think 50 percent chance to survive.

GUPTA: Fifty-fifty?

BOUK: Fifty.

GUPTA: Wazira and Benazir wouldn't get that fighting chance. This is their obituary. They didn't even make it to the hospital. Both children died on the way there.

The two-year-old Wazira weighed just eight pounds. And the three- month-old Benazir just two pounds.

I don't want her to cry. It's OK. See, her belly is very distended. That's the problem. And it's hard. It doesn't really push in.

Give her some formula so she can keep some calories down and they give us medicine as well, mainly for nausea. But really, no antibiotics -- which is just concerning because that's one of the biggest problems here, people getting infections.

(voice-over): Ola and Ramat (ph) are just two of the millions affected by these floods. This is their new normal. Living among dozens of strangers on mats, incredible, unimaginable loss. Two children dead in just one week.

But now their mission: to not lose another child. To save this child, Godi (ph), who is already sick. And she wants to give Godi a fighting chance.


GUPTA: It is safe to say, John, that so many children here are already living on the edge before these floods ever occurred. You heard the unbelievably low weights that these children have. You know, they're malnourished to start with and this flood just pushes them over the edge.

John, we're at one of the narrowest parts of the Indus River here in the Sindh Province. This was an area that was particularly hard hit. Water from this area is coming over the banks all around this particular region. And that is problem that you just saw -- those images were caused by this water right over here behind me.

We hear, as you might have heard as well, it is continuing to get worse and in many areas even south of here, near an area called Tatat (ph) for example, where now they're ordering evacuations up to 1 million more people because these same problems are still occurring, the rain is still falling down in many places and the flooding and all the consequences that you just saw.

So, it is ongoing, John. And that's just one small example of the impact that it's having.

ROBERTS: So, Sanjay, people continue to be displaced, and at the same time, as you experienced, getting to where you are, just getting around the country is so amazingly difficult that it's almost impossible to get supplies to them.

GUPTA: That's the real issue here, getting aid supplies to people who need it. You know, it's amazing thing about Pakistan, is that there probably is enough food within the country and there is lots of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in this country. So, actually, medicines are within country already.

The hardest part is getting those things to the people who need it. And when it comes to water, there is bad water and there is good water. Bad water is plentiful right now, but good water is hard to come by. Getting bottled water, for example, to people just may be too cumbersome. But water purification tablets, water purification facilities, things like that, that's where they're sort of headed next.

But, you know, we're still very in the acute stage of things. Again, John, 1 million people are going to be asked to leave their homes over the next day or so in an area just south of here. That's where we're headed next.

ROBERTS: Wow, that's amazing to see those pictures.

Sanjay Gupta for us this morning in Sindh, Pakistan -- Sanjay, thanks so much.

Sanjay is going to have more reporting on the disaster this weekend in a live edition of "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." Don't miss it. It airs at 7:30 Eastern Saturday morning, and then replays at the same time on Sunday morning, right here only on CNN -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Thanks, John.

Glenn Beck is no stranger to controversy. And this morning, he's under fire for holding a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the very same day Martin Luther King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. Is it an honor or dishonor? We've got both sides of the debate -- next.



COSTELLO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

The stage is being set for Glenn Beck's rally in Washington. The event will be held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial tomorrow, the exact site and date where Martin Luther King made his historic address 47 years ago. The gathering is intended to restore honor to America, but opponents say it dishonors King's legacy.

Joining me now to talk about it, Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for the TEA Party Patriots; and Michael Fauntroy, George Mason University professor and author of "Republicans and the Black Vote."

Welcome to you both.



COSTELLO: Jenny Beth, let's start with you. You're going to the rally tomorrow and you're going to bring 400 tea partiers along with you. The theme of the rally is to restore honor. Why are you going?

MARTIN: Well, TEA Party Patriots, our national coordinators, are going because our supporters from around the country by the thousands are going to be there tomorrow for this event. And we're there to support them. This event is about restoring honor. And TEA Party Patriots, we have three core values: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets. And t hat's why we'll be there.

COSTELLO: And that's the restoring honor part. That's what -- that you guys are going there to reinforce those things.

MARTIN: That's what we are there for, yes.

COSTELLO: Michael, let's talk about the timing of this event, because Glenn Beck said he didn't really realize he had scheduled this event on this particular anniversary. But when he realized it, he called it Divine Providence. And I want to read a quote of what he said about that on his radio show.

He said, "We are on the right side of history, we're on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and, dammit, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement because we were the people who did it in the first place."

We talked earlier, and you said you found that downright offensive. Why?

FAUNTROY: Well, it's offensive because it's out of line with the facts. It's out of line with the truth. The reality is that conservative movement in America historically has always opposed expansion of civil rights for all kinds of people. Going back to Reconstruction and even beyond with regard to the slavery movement, and then, as we see during the 1960s with the civil rights movement.

So, from my perspective, there's no real -- there's no real evidence that Glenn Beck is serious about trying to bring people together. And to reclaim the civil rights movement, in my opinion, is really about trying to confuse the civil rights movement and to delegitimize it and in fact dishonor it. COSTELLO: And, Jenny Beth, can you understand why some might think that this is insensitive, especially when Glenn Beck has called President Obama a racist. And I know Sarah Palin is going to speak at the rally, too. And, you know, she recently stood up for Dr. Laura -- Dr. Laura's repeated use of the N-word.

I mean, do you understand why this is offensive to some people.

MARTIN: I do not think that this is offensive. It's about Americans who care about this country regardless of political affiliation, regardless of skin color, who care about the country and want to restore honor to it. It's not about the color of the skin. It's about the content of the character.

COSTELLO: Do you expect many African-Americans to be in the rally, Jenny Beth?


Last night when I was driving down the streets of Washington, D.C., I saw a car with some bumper stickers on it that kind of agreed with my philosophies and I hopped out to give the person my lapel pin and my business card. As it turned out, it was an African-American man. I had no idea when I hopped out the color of his skin. I just was saying, "Hey, I'm glad you're here." And there are people of all colors who will be here.

COSTELLO: If there aren't many African-Americans in the crowd, what will that say to you, Jenny Beth?

MARTIN: It will say to me that we just need to make sure that African-Americans understand, at least from TEA Party Patriots' perspective, what we stand for and that we continue to need -- we continue to need to make sure they understand we stand for three things and three things only: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally- limited government and free markets.


COSTELLO: And, Michael, I just want to read this to you because I know that Dr. King's niece is going to be speaking, Alveda King. And she wrote an op-ed in the "Christian Science Monitor." I want to read you a quote and then I'd like you to respond, Michael.

She said, "Beck's rally is not a political event per se. Instead, it's designed to be a refreshing exercise of freedom of speech. It's a chance to think about character, both our character as a nation and our character as individuals."

So, go ahead, Michael. Respond to that and what Jenny Beth has said.

FAUNTROY: Yes. You know, those are just talking points. I've had the occasion to sit on a panel with Mrs. King, and I can assure you that she is just as likely to get conservative talking points as anyone else. You know, the rally is ostensibly about restoring honor. You know, I'd like to know when was the honor lost and why. And with regard to whether or not there will be a number of African-Americans there, you know, there are roughly close to 1 million African-Americans in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, who certainly could get to the mall quite easily. And my prediction is almost all of them will stay home.

The University of Washington's Institute for the study of race, ethnicity and text sexuality did a poll of TEA Party supporters have found that it's overwhelmingly wide of less than 2 percent black support and is comprised just disproportionately. So, people who are visually resentful to all blacks and Latinos. And that's not everyone. I don't want to suggest that everyone in a TEA Party movement is not.

But is certainly is disproportion with some, and so for me, that seems like the kind of thing that would turn off African-Americans and other minorities and not see them flowing on to the grounds of the Washington -- Lincoln Memorial.

COSTELLO: So, Mike, what do you think this rally is really about?

FAUNTROY: I think it's about a few things. I think, at some level, it's about Glenn Beck's personal marketing. He has a book that's coming out and certainly will be prominently featured aspect at least this coming weekend. Also, marketing in that, it's the week -- the date that was chosen. I doubt seriously that this rally would get under the same level of support if it were held a week ago or a week from now, for example. So, that's part of it.

The other part I really do believe in an attempt to confuse the country on what Dr. Martin Luther king was really all about. King's life was given in the cause of trying to bring people together and trying to fight the wrongs that were going on in our society. And I'm not necessarily sure that a movement that is comprised so disproportionately of people that don't reflect the overall tenor of the country will certainly be -- will certainly do that and certainly live up to king's legacy.

COSTELLO: And Jenny Beth, we have to wrap it up, but quickly, a last word from you on what you hope this will accomplish.

JENNY BETH MARTIN, NATIONAL COORDINATOR, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: I hope that the African-Americans who are watching, who are within driving distance of D.C. come and see what we're really about and come to the event and see for themselves and judge for themselves.

COSTELLO: So, we'll be covering it tomorrow, and we'll see what happens. Thanks to you both. Jenny Beth Martin and Michael Fauntroy.

MARTIN: Thank you.

COSTELLO: It's 47 minutes past the hour. Still to come on the Most News in the Morning, Reynolds Wolf in for Rob this morning. He'll have this morning's travel forecast right after the break. And Katrina destroyed almost every home, school and hospital in St. Bernard Parish. What does it look like now? Soledad O'Brien retraces her footsteps from five years ago.


REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Welcome back to CNN AMERICAN MORNING. If you're headed out to the airport, about to make that trip, maybe across the country or maybe just down the street, take a look, what you're going to be dealing with are possibly some delays especially in Atlanta, due to thunderstorms, anywhere from a half-hour to a full-hour wait, possibly over an hour in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City due to thunderstorms.

The Haze in Los Angeles may keep you grounded for about an hour, perhaps less and then Miami, Orlando, even Ft. Lauderdale, splash-and- dash storms may pop up. Some thunderstorms may be intense especially by afternoon hours. Something else you can anticipate is through much of the southeast you're making that drive on parts of I-10, the stationary front is going to keep those thunderstorms booming especially into the afternoon, possibly some scattered showers in the Four Corner is very dry and breezy across parts of the northern plains.

Great low humidity means the fire danger will be in effect for parts of the northern plains. We're also watching some big wind from hurricane Danielle, a major hurricane, category 4 storm expected to stay east of Bermuda. As we wrap things up, the next storm we're going to watch is tropical storm Earl also expected to intensify.

We're going to talk about both of these storms in greater detail coming up to the top of the hour. You're watching CNN AMERICAN MORNING, the Most News in the Morning.


ROBERTS: Although, it doesn't get as much attention as New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward where we are this morning, St. Bernard Parish was almost completely leveled by hurricane Katrina. Water came in from almost every direction. Soledad O'Brien went back to see what St. Bernard's looks like now, and she joins us this morning.


ROBERTS: So, what does it look like?

O'BRIEN: It looks better. Like a lot of places in New Orleans, some of it is better, some of it is not. We were one of the first reporting teams that was in to St. Bernard Parish right after the storm, and we went through, we saw a lot of the damage. Take a look at what we saw.


O'BRIEN: We're coming to you this morning from St. Bernard Parish. This is actually one of the newer subdivisions there. It's called Lexington Place. If you're a homeowner coming back today, what do you grab? You got your furniture, but it's destroyed. It gives you a sense of the power of this storm where obviously the wind and the storm surge and the water just blew this storm right off its foundation. This is Lexington's subdivision in St. Bernard Parish.

There's been some progress, I guess, because now, it looks like an open field. These were home, and the slabs have been pulled up. I walked across these slabs many times in the last five years with the sheriff, and this Sheriff Jack Steven, really showing the devastation. That lump right there is ready to get that shot is the levee system and on the other side is the canal.

What happened here in St. Bernard Parish in this part is the water was forced up at such a high velocity, it really behaved more like a tsunami than a hurricane. So, some progress, of course, but because of the speed of the water and because of the height of the water, some of the houses, they've really struggled a little bit to get back. The damage on St. Marie Street was very significant back five years ago.

In fact, Jackie Grosher's (ph) house was one of the places that we stopped at because the house was just devastated. There are other questions about just how much of their house is worth saving. You look at something like this and you have to think, well, maybe not very much. Jackie says that she spent the last five years rebuilding her home at a cost about a quarter of a million dollars, and she says she's not quite done yet.

She was among the very first back in her neighborhood on St. Marie Street. The street itself is well populated, but the neighborhood, this subdivision as a whole, is really only back about 40 percent.


And 40 percent. So, you know, you look inside of her house which is absolutely beautiful and stunning and pristine, and then you look down the street and you see slab, not back, half back, still building, it's a mixed bag. And I think that really is a metaphor for the entire city of New Orleans.

ROBERTS: Yes. Very much the same as it is here. If not back, we have probably not coming back, maybe, yes back, no. Although here, its probably 75 percent not back.

O'BRIEN: Yes. It's been a real struggle. And I think that they've struggled with everything that everybody else in the city has struggled with which is insurance, road-home money, how do you pay for improvements you need at a time when everything costs five times at least more than it did when you're building your house the first time as well.

ROBERTS: At least, they are back. Soledad, great to see you this morning.

O'BRIEN: Likewise, thank you.

ROBERTS: Thanks.

Top stories coming your way right after the break. Stay with us, we'll be right back.