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As Deadline Passes For Death Of Western Hostages In Iraq, Muslim Clerics From Around The World Call For Their Release; Tensions Between New Orleans And Houston Students Erupts Into Violence At Many Schools; It Is Legal For Michigan Employer To Say Workers Either Quit Smoking Or They're Fired. Bronx Zoo Primates Give "King Kong" Four Licks; But Is That A Good Or Bad Review?

Aired December 10, 2005 - 17:00   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: A comedic genius is dead tonight at the age of 65. We are going to look back at the life and career of Richard Pryor.
And we are live in Chicago, where investigators are moving a plane from its crash site as they try to determine what went wrong.

Plus, there are no ifs, and or buts about this one -- if you light up, you're going to be fired. But is it legal? I'm going to ask a workers' rights expert.

Hello and welcome to CNN LIVE SATURDAY.

I'm Carol Lin.

All that and more after this quick check of the headlines.

The deadline's passed and we still don't know if four Western hostages are alive in Iraq. Their kidnappers have threatened to kill them today if Iraqi prisoners were not released. We are going to have a full report from Baghdad.

And the United Auto Workers union says it's reached a tentative agreement with Ford on health care costs. Details will be released in a meeting next week in Detroit. But the UAW says workers will have to sacrifice to make the deal work. Union members still have to vote on it.

And this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner is calling for a world without nuclear weapons. Mohamed ElBaradei is sharing the Nobel Peace Prize with the International Atomic Energy Agency. At a ceremony in Oslo, Norway today, he said the world is in a race against time to keep nuclear weapons out of terrorists' hands.

To our top story now.

The entertainment world is mourning the loss of a comedic icon. Richard Pryor died today of a heart attack at the age of 65.

Now, in the next few minutes, we are going to bring you a look back at his legendary career. And you are going to hear from those who knew him well.

Right now, we are going to begin with his widow.

Jennifer Pryor spoke with CNN about her most treasured memories.


JENNIFER PRYOR, WIFE OF LATE RICHARD PRYOR: Richard died of cardiac arrest at 7:58 this morning at Encino Hospital. I tried to revive him. I performed CPR, chest compressions and the paramedics got there and went to work on him. And when we got to the hospital, they continued to work on him. And he didn't come back.

And, you know, he's been so strong for so many years. He's had this disease since 1986 and Richard is such a fighter. I mean he's had beyond nine lives. We used to joke if he was going to outlive everybody, because he just had his 65th birthday December 1st and, you know, he was an extraordinary man, as you know, and wanted to be here and he enjoyed life right up until the end.

He did not suffer. He went quickly. And at the end, there was a smile on his face. And I'm just -- I'm honored now that I have an opportunity to protect and continue his legacy, because he's a very, very, very amazing man.


LIN: Our Sibila Vargas has more now on the late comedian's career.


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Late in his life, Richard Pryor found a wealth of new material from the main source of his comedy -- his own life. The comedian was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986. At an appearance at the Los Angeles Comedy Store in late 1992, he turned his tragedy into comedy.


RICHARD PRYOR: Because I found out I had it on a movie set. I found out something was wrong. I didn't know what it was. Because the director said, "Come this way." Oh, yes. And my body would go --


PRYOR: Cut! Wait! Richard, stop kidding. I'm not kidding!


VARGAS: He was rarely kidding. Pryor became a legend of comedy by tapping his rage and agonies for laughs. He was the biggest name in stand-up comedy in the '70s, won Grammies for his comedy albums and was part of the team that created the script for "Blazing Saddles."

He appeared in nearly 40 films and was nominated for an Academy Award for his dramatic acting in "Lady Sings The Blues."


PRYOR: Let's team up. We'd be great together, right? I'll be like Valentino, you be like -- we'll be like Valentino and what's her name? You know, you and me, baby. It's gonna be all right.


VARGAS: Yet Pryor was remembered more for the incident in which he was horribly burned while free-basing cocaine, an incident he later described as a suicide attempt, an incident that also found its way into his comedy.

Pryor directed himself in a semi-autobiographical film, "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling" in the mid-'80s, a film he says refused to be written as a comedy.

Pryor had long been in fragile health. He suffered a massive heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery in 1990. His colleagues in comedy didn't wait to honor Pryor after his passing. At a Friar's Club roast and a special television tribute to Pryor in 1991, Hollywood told Pryor how they felt about him.

ROBIN WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN: To use Chuck Yeager's line, he broke the envelope. He pushed it beyond anything anyone could dream of. And it's deep stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very savage kind of humor and it comes out of a great deal of pain. And that's something I think that's remarkable and inspiring.

VARGAS: Also remarkable was Pryor's determination to keep working as his disease progressed. He continued to make appearances doing stand-up comedy, sitting down. In late 1995, he performed on an episode of "Chicago Hope." He received an Emmy nomination playing a multiple sclerosis victim fighting off the frustrations of his illness.

PRYOR: Sometimes I lay in bed and think about get up and go and -- but I can't. My energy won't allow me to, because I try to get up and my legs say what are you doing? You know, they look at me like I'm crazy. They say come on buddy, you know you can't do that. Just freeze, you know, smell the roses.


LIN: And he did.

You are going to hear more throughout the night from friends of Richard Pryor.

Now, another notable passing today. Former senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy has died. He was 89 years old. McCarthy's son says he died in his sleep at his retirement home in Washington. The Minnesota Democrat ran for president five times. In 1968, McCarthy challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic nomination amid a growing debate over the Vietnam War. Now, the challenge led to Johnson's withdrawal from the race.

And now, we move on to Chicago and the investigation into the crash of a Southwest Airlines jet. The damaged jet was dragged into a hangar at Chicago's Midway Airport today. Federal investigators are trying to determine why it skidded off an icy runway Thursday night. A small boy was killed and 13 people were injured.

Ceci Rodgers is in Chicago -- Ceci, what have you learned?


Well, investigators have been working very hard all day and, in fact, behind me now, you can see the street where the airplane skidded to a landing, finally skidded to a stop out in the street at 55th Street and Central Avenue, on the edge of Midway Airport. And now the plane is gone, as you mentioned. It's been pulled back into Midway Airport property.

And what they're doing now -- as you can see, the crane is still there that helped move the plane onto a truck bed that moved it back onto their property. Now there's a big cleanup job going on and police who have been down there tell me that there's jet fuel still on the ground and they're cleaning that up. There's still a lot of work to be done before they can reopen these streets to Chicagoans.

Meanwhile, the plane was removed earlier today. It was quite a lengthy process. But now it's been gone now from this intersection for about three hours. And what's going to happen next is the National Transportation Safety Board will brief reporters again on what's going on.

They were to interview pilots today and try to decide what could have happened that prevented this plane from stopping in time at the end of that runway during that blinding snowstorm. Of course, the end result of that was the death of a 6-year-old, a little boy from Indiana. And today we heard from neighbors of that little boy as to how his death is impacting the neighborhood.


SUSAN MULLINS, NEIGHBOR OF JOSHUA WOODS: Being a mother, obviously it affects me because, you know, it could have been my own child. But as a sense of loss to the community, I think it's strike -- I think it strikes home in everybody's hearts or families or -- it could have been us or, you know, the fact that it's so close to home, that they just did live right down the street from me.


RODGERS: Joshua Woods was singing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" with his family in the car when the plane came barreling down on them.

We'll have more from the National Transportation Safety Board, as I said, later tonight. And when we have more details on the investigation, we'll bring it to you -- Carol.

LIN: All right, we'll be waiting for it, Ceci, and our hearts go out to that little boy's family. Just a terrible, terrible tragedy.

Now, dozens of schoolchildren died in a plane crash in southern Nigeria today. More than 100 people died when a Nigerian jetliner crashed while trying to land during a storm in Port Harcourt. Many were schoolchildren heading home for Christmas. Only seven people survived. It is the second plane accident in Nigeria in the past seven weeks, more evidence that Africa has problems with air safety.

Now, in California, a high stakes waiting game right now. Convicted killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams wants to stay alive. But he is scheduled to die Tuesday unless California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger grants him clemency. That decision, though, expected very soon.

Our Kareen Wynter in Los Angeles with the very latest on this -- Kareen, how will the lawyers and "Tookie" Williams' family be notified?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're told that the attorneys will first get this notification from the governor's press office and then they will, in turn, contact family members, Carol.

But in the meantime, we are definitely keeping our eyes on the clock. And less than an hour from now, we could learn if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has, indeed, reached a decision in this case.

Now, here's what you can expect.

At the top of the hour there's a news line that's been set up. We'll call into that number and there will be a recording. We'll either hear, A, that, yes, the governor has, indeed, reached a decision; or, B, a decision has not yet been made.

If a decision is reached, those who've subscribed to an e-mail list, again, provided by the governor's office, will be contacted via e-mail.

And it won't be an elaborate statement. It won't be anything in depth in nature. It will simply say what the governor's ruling is.

Now, all this weekend -- in fact, for the past several days -- there's been intense pressure on the governor to, in fact, grant a reprieve in this case. Now, the governor saying just on Friday that this is "a tough decision." A very heavy responsibility here because you're, in essence, dealing with a man's life, a life or death decision.

Today around noon time local time, there was even a protest held outside Governor Schwarzenegger's Brentwood home here for people really pushing for clemency in this case.

Carol, I also just wrapped up an interview with one of Williams' attorneys and he described "Tookie" Williams' state of mind. He says he's very hopeful, very optimistic.

But we have to face the reality here that the odds are pretty much stacked against him because not since 1957 has the California governor granted clemency. So it's not something you see often.

But, again, things could turn in just about 50 minutes from now -- Carol.

LIN: You bet.

All right, you'll be calling into that line and we'll be hearing from you shortly after the top of the hour to see if there's any word from the governor.

Kareen, thank you.

All right, as we've been reporting earlier, former Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy has died at the age of 89. With me on the telephone right now, his son, Michael McCarthy.

Michael, our condolences to your family.

How are you feeling and dealing with this right now?

MICHAEL MCCARTHY, SON OF THE LATE EUGENE MCCARTHY: Well, we're doing fine. You know, he was 89. He had a good long productive life and he did well and really felt ill quite suddenly last night and passed early this morning.

LIN: Michael, this is -- your father was a persistent man and a deep believer in the political process.

But what made him run for president so many times?

MCCARTHY: Well, I think he wanted to make his point. I don't think, you know, he expected to win in probably any of his attempts. Even in 1968 I don't think he thought he was going to win. But he thought the issues were important enough and it was a way to bring them out into the open and to have them debated.

LIN: You know, he was elected to the House in 1948. Ten years later, he was elected to the Senate and then reelected in 1964.

What would you say was your father's appeal to his constituents?

MCCARTHY: Well, I think he was -- he, you know, he had been a professor. He was thoughtful. I think he challenged people. He didn't serve up the issues simply, but would try to get into their complexity. And he was, you know, he was good at explaining the ideas and exploring them. And I think people just appreciated that.

LIN: He was so active during the Vietnam War effort and very concerned about the increased involvement of America in Vietnam.

Did your father have any opinions about what was happening in Iraq and the direction of the country today? MCCARTHY: Well, he was concerned with Iraq from the start. He didn't think the justification for war had been made and had opposed it at the outset.

LIN: And opposed it at the outset.

His survivors, yourself; also, your sister Ellen and Margaret...

MCCARTHY: That's correct.

LIN: ... and six grandchildren.

Was -- did your father find time to be a family man?

MCCARTHY: Oh, yes, he did. He was a good dad.

LIN: What do you think he wants his legacy to be?

MCCARTHY: Well, you know, he hits -- he's obviously going to be remembered for the campaign in 1968. But I think he would also want to be remembered for a lot of the work he did in the early years of the Civil Rights Act, helping formulate that legislation; his work on women's rights; and very early environmental legislation; and work for -- legislation to protect farm workers.

LIN: Do you think he'd want to be remembered as a contrarian? I mean here he was, back in 1980 he endorsed Republican Ronald Reagan with the argument that anyone was better than the incumbent, Jimmy Carter.

MCCARTHY: I think he would enjoy being remembered as a contrarian.

LIN: So what do you think, if he had a last wish for this country, Michael, what would it be?

MCCARTHY: I think he would want a return to civil dialogue in politics, where if you're...

LIN: What does that mean?

MCCARTHY: Well, he participated in some of the probably most contentious debates of his times -- civil rights, the institution of Medicare and Medicaid and, of course, the Vietnam War. And in that time there was -- it was arguments over ideas and it wasn't a personality and it wasn't even as partisan as it is today.

And I think he would want to see a return of debate on ideas and not personality.

LIN: Michael McCarthy, thank you very much for sharing your memories and your thoughts and the legacy of your great father.

MCCARTHY: Well, thank you for calling.

LIN: Senator Eugene McCarthy dead at the age of 89. We have much more news.

A lot of breaking news today right here at CNN, so stay with us.

We'll be right back.


LIN: These pictures just in of the plane crash scene in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, where a plane has crashed, killing more than 100 people. The plane is believed to have overshot the runway when trying to land during an electrical storm. So preliminary estimations are that this was weather related. But, sadly, most of the people, many of the people on that airplane, were schoolchildren returning home for the holidays.


LIN: Obviously distraught people responding to the news of the crash.

We are staying on top of this story and we'll be bringing you fresh pictures of all the breaking news that's happening today as it comes in.

In the meantime, also breaking news today that the comedian, Richard Pryor, has died at the age of 65. He has battled multiple sclerosis since 1986. He survived a quadruple bypass and money problems and fought to come back, continuing to perform through all of these difficulties.

Joining me right now is music producer Russell Simmons on the telephone.

Russell, it had to have been hard news, but certainly perhaps not a surprise, he had been sick for so long.

Russell Simmons?

Russell Simmons?

JOLIE: Russ, are you there?




LIN: All right, we're just...

JOLIE: We're watching CNN. It's -- they're in the story right now, so they're going to go to you probably any second.

LIN: Yes, we're coming to you right now.



LIN: Russell Simmons, can you hear me?

JOLIE: I'm watching it right here.

LIN: You know, let's clarify the connection with Russell Simmons, because he doesn't know that he's on the air right now. But we want to hear from the people who are nearest and dearest to Richard Pryor.

What a legacy this man had. He made us laugh, he made us cry and he impressed us with the courage that he had to continue on after so much illness and hardship.

All right, in the meantime, if you are in New Jersey today, you want to steer clear from honey and perhaps wear an orange vest if you're headed for the woods. That is because authorities have declared open season on bears. Why some want to kill the hunt, next.


LIN: Well, the northeastern U.S. is slowly digging out after getting socked by the season's first big snowstorm. More than foot of snow fell in parts of New Hampshire. The wintry weather delayed some airline flights today and the bad weather is being blamed for several fatal car crashes.

It's also slow going in Massachusetts. Workers are scrambling to restore power to about 50,000 people there.

Now, it's not just snow that's packed a punch. Who can forget the destruction caused by, well, hurricane Katrina? And the devastating tsunami in South Asia?

That's how this year began.

Now, so far this is a sign of things to come -- or maybe not. But a Red Cross report just came out. For example, from 1994 to 1998, there were 428 natural disasters a year, on average, according to the Red Cross. Now that number jumped to 707 from 1999 to 2003, a 66 percent increase.

Ken Reeves joins me now.

He's the senior expert meteorologist with AccuWeather.

Ken, what do you make of all this?

Is this weird weather?

Are we in a slippery slope to more natural catastrophes?

KEN REEVES, ACCUWEATHER, METEOROLOGIST: Well, unfortunately the natural catastrophes happen all the time around the world and that's, you know, part of what governments actually out there are doing, trying to prepare everyone for those. But the real question I get asked a lot of times is whether or not we're in a cycle toward that or a trend toward that.

And the difference would be a trend would be a permanent change toward a more, really, dangerous type of weather scenario that we're in. A cycle might just be an up and down kind of situation. And right now you have to kind of put in perspective, perhaps, it's not just the weather that's causing the problem, but also how we are living our lives and where we are at.

If you look at the population increase in Florida from 1990 to 2000, you saw nearly a 25 percent increase in the number of people living in Florida. And with that state being so prone to hurricane strikes, you have to realize that that's just going to be an increased factor if you put more people in harm's way.

LIN: Right.

All right, well, I'm not talking about development. I mean take at look at -- there's not much development in South Asia...


LIN: ... and if you look at the phenomenon of the tsunami and, you know, hundreds of thousands of people died in that.

What do you think we can expect in 2006?

REEVES: Well, I mean a tsunami is a situation where you get a displacement of the bottom of the ocean, causing a huge tidal wave; really not necessarily tied into the weather phenomenon at any sort. But really it still remains to be seen what comes up.

I mean from the predictable areas, we can look at, perhaps, what's going on in the hurricane season. And we just came off of a year where we had 26 named storms in the Atlantic Basin.

LIN: Historic. Never seen this before.

REEVES: No, never before, ever. In fact, you know, by far the most number before that was 21. So -- but that was also in an era where there weren't satellites, either. So there may have been years that have been very close. But certainly we're talking about the top five year, this past year.

Coming up in 2006, you'd have to expect that it's still going to be -- we're in that cycle where we are going to be in an above normal pattern.

But to see another 26 storms would just be pretty much an amazing forecast, if that were to happen. It's like...

LIN: Well, what about the strengths of the hurricane for next year? Are you planning on or anticipating seeing more category four, five storms? REEVES: Well, you know, at, we make forecasts of landfall when we get a little closer to the season, in April and May, as to where we think the greatest area would happen to be. And we did identify the upper Gulf Coast as a primary this past season.

And certainly when you look at those number of storms it's kind of a misleading factor. In fact, in 1992, you had Andrew, which was, by far, the most damaging storm until we had some of these in the last year or two. But that year there were only five, six, seven storms.

And so, as a result, it's where they make landfall which really ends up determining how much damage they actually cause.

LIN: All right, so basically it's a year of chance that we can look forward to. We don't know what we're going to get, but let's hope we'll be ready.

REEVES: That's correct.

LIN: All right, Ken.

Ken Reeves, thank you very much, from AccuWeather.

Well, I kid you not, in New Jersey this week hunters hoisted their rifles and trudged out into the woods loaded for bear. For the second time in the past three years, the state declared open season on a species you wouldn't expect.

And as CNN's Chris Huntington reports, the idea has given a lot of folks pause.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Head circumference, 52.

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A freshly killed black bear brought in from the woods of New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rear paw width, 9-1/2.

HUNTINGTON: This one is a female, four-and-a-half feet long, 170 pounds, estimated to be about three years old. Hunters taking part in only the second bear hunt in New Jersey in the last 30 years are expected to kill about 300 bears.

Wildlife experts say New Jersey has too many of them and the state's director of fish and wildlife says the hunt is part of a broad strategy to manage and preserve his state's bear population.

MARTIN MCHUGH, NEW JERSEY FISH AND WILDLIFE DIRECTOR: The bears that have been taken in the hunt show that we have a very healthy population of bears and we're pretty much on in terms of the numbers that we expected. And, you know, we think it was a really good conservation management action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the slaughter! HUNTINGTON: Not everyone in New Jersey agrees.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Stop the slaughter! Stop the slaughter!

HUNTINGTON (on camera): These protesters don't buy for one second the notion that an authorized bear hunt is a means to conservation management. They simply see it as cruel and unnecessary and they're going to do everything they can, they say, to prevent it from becoming an annual occurrence here in New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is just so wrong. It is not right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) no matter how many bears are out there.

HUNTINGTON (voice-over): The numbers on New Jersey's bear population are fuzzy. McHugh estimates there are 2,000 to 3,000 statewide and in a state with the densest human population, the bears are increasingly running into trouble. This one found its way onto a golf course earlier this morning, but managed to make its way back into the woods. Bear maulings in New Jersey are uncommon, with only one recorded this year when a camper was bitten on the leg. But officials are concerned by the growing number of bears roaming into suburban areas.

EUNICE BIRD, BEAR HUNT PROTESTER: We've had some serious incidents with home break-ins, home entries. We had one human contact situation with a bear. And when you get to that point, it's time to take a little bit more aggressive action.

HUNTINGTON: McHugh says attempts to relocate bears to remote areas in the state have failed, with many of them reemerging from the woods, which is why officials turn to hunters.

SKIP MCLAUGHLIN, BEAR HUNTER: I myself hunt for the sport. If there's a fringe benefit by culling the population and it being environmentally correct.

HUNTINGTON: Whether for sport or wildlife conservation, New Jersey officials say there is likely to be another bear hunt next year. Which means you can expect to see more of this.

Chris Huntington, CNN, Hewitt, New Jersey.


LIN: Well it's never easy to be the new kid in school. And in Houston, it got a lot harder for Katrina evacuees where fights like this -- well, they're breaking out in more than half a dozen schools. What is causing the problem?

And as deadline passes for hostages in Iraq. An update on their fate next from Baghdad.


LIN: Here's what's happening right "Now in the News": Comedian Richard Pryor has died in Los Angeles. Pryor died of a heart attack after struggling for years with multiple sclerosis. His caustic brand of comedy was considered out of the norm, you might say, when he first burst onto the scene. But he served as an inspiration to a generation of comics including Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Robin Williams. Richard Pryor was 65 years old.

And Eugene McCarthy has died. The one-time senator from Minnesota turned the political world upside down when he mounted a primary challenge to President Lyndon Johnson over the war in Vietnam. After McCarthy seized surprising support, Johnson announced he would not seek a second term in office. McCarthy died in his sleep today, he was in Washington. He was 89 years old.

Violence is escalating in Iraq with deadly consequences. Four American soldiers were killed in separate incidents in and around Baghdad today. And an election worker was shot dead in Mosul days before Iraq's parliamentary election. Today is also the execution deadline for four Western peace activists taken hostage. CNN's Aneesh Raman has the very latest on that.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): A deadline has come and gone and the fate is unknown for four Western aid workers kidnapped in the capital, two weeks ago today. The American, the British and two Canadians part of a group called Christian Peacekeepers Team. They are being held by a previously unknown insurgent group, calling itself Swords of Justice.

The original deadline had been Thursday, that deadline extended until Saturday. The demands, the release of thousands of Iraqi prisoners and the withdrawal of U.S. and British troops. The last we saw of the hostages was on Wednesday. Video released of two of them, American Tom Fox and British national Norman Cember (ph), both of them in orange jumpsuits, blindfolded.

This kidnapping prompted an outpouring of support around the world, especially from the Muslim community. Clerics worldwide calling for the safe release of the four hostages. And in Baghdad at Friday prayers, clerics here also saying that the release of these hostages is the best thing for the Muslim cause throughout world. But again, no word yet on the fate, as this deadline has come. We tend to find out about -- in instances like this on extremist Islamic websites. No postings yet.

The U.S. military also today announcing an encouraging sign. It happened in the city of Ramadi, west of the capital, an area with a strong insurgent presence, there. Civilians captured and turned in a high-ranking Al Qaeda in Iraq leader. The number three in terms of the most wanted on the list of the U.S. military group that patrols the area.

The civilians had called in to the 2nd Brigade. They told them they wanted this man taken into custody and they did it themselves, and brought him to U.S. and Iraqi security forces. It's seen as an encouraging sign.

The key of course to getting civilians to do acts like this, to give better intelligence, is to set up Iraqi security forces on a permanent basis throughout Iraq. Iraqi security forces that are efficient and can guarantee security, so the U.S. military seeing this as a good step forward. Aneesh Raman, CNN, Baghdad.


LIN: Recovery is going slow in hurricane ravaged New Orleans. More than three months after Katrina struck, 36 percent of the residents still do not have electricity. And in a city known for its Cajun cuisine, only one in three New Orleans restaurants are open.

Now, when it comes to public schools only one out 116 schools is open. Public schools in Houston, Texas are full, though, of New Orleans evacuees. And that has caused big tension and even arrests at one school. CNN's Susan Rosten explains.


SUSAN ROSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A report of a fight in the school cafeteria between hometown students and New Orleans evacuees sent an army of police to Houston's Westbury High School. And as the officers arrived, the fighting went on.

Watch what happens as students start to run outside, chasing each other across the track field. Half a dozen boys go at it, wailing away at each other. One boy even loses his shirt before a school coach rushes into break it up. But it didn't stop there. Less than a minute later, more running, more trouble, and then the police tackled at least one student and handcuffed several more. Including one girl who didn't go quietly. Eventually some of the students were carted off to jail.

TERRY ABBOTT, SCHOOL SPOKESMAN: One child got a laceration under the eye. And I'm not aware of any other injuries at this point. There will be a number of kids arrested.

ROSTEN: The police arrested 27 students, 15 from New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every day it's something at Westbury High School. Every day it's something. If it was an argument or rumor, it's something, a fight, it's something.

ROSTEN: Trouble between New Orleans students and Houston students has been going on for weeks. The billboard says welcome to Westbury High School but graffiti near the door says New Orleans girls are trash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So the girl pushed me. And I'm like I'm not just going to let you push me like that. You know what I'm saying?

ROSTEN: Three hundred of the schools 2,500 students are New Orleans evacuees. New Orleans kids complain the Houston kids pick on them. While the Houston kids say the New Orleans kids don't fit in. And it isn't just here. School officials say the fighting at Westbury was one of a dozen clashes at schools since 5,000 New Orleans students start enrolling in September.

In other cities people who initially welcomed New Orleans evacuees now blame them for everything from more traffic to more crime. Robin Smith, a New Orleans mother says no one should blame children.

ROBIN SMITH, MOTHER: Every other day it's something with New Orleans. These children are not bad children. They didn't ask to come here, you know what I'm saying?

ROSTEN: More difficulties for some New Orleans evacuees and for those who once welcomed them. Susan Rosten, CNN, New Orleans.


LIN: Coming up, smokers be warned. Your habit may soon cost you a whole lot more, your job. It's private life versus public profile, next.


LIN: More than 6,000 companies say they will fire workers for smoking. Now one in particular will fire you even if you're smoke at home! And I'm going to take a closer look at how far your company can go to get rid of you. First, here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): His personal life mirrors his professional life. Howard Weyers likes to keep himself in shape, and is quite adamant about his employees doing the same.

(On camera): Why is that important?

HOWARD WEYERS, PRESIDENT, WYECO INC.: Well, they're going to be more productive.

TUCHMAN (voice over): And he adds, it lowers health insurance rates. That being said, it caused quite a stir when the 71-year-old owner of a company that administers employee benefit plans, told his workers they're not allowed to use tobacco, even at home.

(on camera): Some people might say this is lifestyle discrimination.

WEYERS: Lifestyle assistance.

TUCHMAN: At Howard Weyers' Weyco Company in East Lansing, Michigan, smoking has serious career consequences. Failing random breathalyzer and urine tobacco tests leaves you suspended for a month. Fail again, you're gone forever.

WEYERS: I think it's good for people. They eliminate that habit, because eventually it's going to kill them.

TUCHMAN: New Weyco employees are told about the policy before they start. Workers hired before it began were given 15 months to quit smoking. Veteran employees Cara Stiffler and Anita Epilito (ph) and Angie Curvits (ph) learned Weyers meant business. All three lost their jobs.

(On camera): How angry were you when you found out you were gone?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Incredibly. I felt violated.


TUCHMAN: Do you believe it happened?


TUCHMAN: Did Howard Weyers do anything illegal? Not in Michigan, nor in 19 other states where there is no law preventing an employer from firing employees who smoke, even when they're off the job. Cara Stiffler has smoked for 20 years and wants to quit, but as much as she liked working at Weyco, she wasn't willing to quit under force.

STIFFLER: I was called into the HR manager's office, and I had to sign a paper admitting that I was a smoker. I refused to be tested. I sign it. And at that time was terminated.

TUCHMAN (on camera): There are companies that have similar policies but the rules are often not enforced. Case in point, my employer Turner Broadcasting, which years ago had a widely ignored no smoking policy. But here at Weyco similar ignorance comes at your professional peril.

(Voice over): Many believe such a policy is the slippery slope.

JEREMY GRUBER, NAT'L. WORK RIGHTS INSTITUTE: I'm sure an employer could make a very good argument -- and has made a very good argument about not hiring someone who is disabled, because they may cost them money.

TUCHMAN: Michigan state senator says the policy is ridiculous. He's drafted a bill that has so far gone no where, which would protect employees who want to participate in any legal activity on the job.

VIRG BERNERO, MICHIGAN STATE SENATOR: I think it's a basic American right when you leave the workplace, when you punch out, you're on your own time.

TUCHMAN: Howard Weyers and many other employers say they have the basic American right not to be told how to run their businesses.

WEYERS: Smokers are discriminating against the other employees, because whatever health problems it creates, we all have to pay for it.

TUCHMAN: Weyers says at least 20 employees quit smoking rather than leave his 190-employee company. One of them is Chris Boyd, who had smoked for 10 years when she learned of the new policy.

CHRIS BOYD, FORMER SMOKER: I was very emotional when I first heard about the policy. Then after things sank in, I thought about it. My job? Smoking? Not a real tough decision.

TUCHMAN (on camera): So how did you quit?

BOYD: Weyco offered smoking cessation programs.

TUCHMAN: Weyco also gives money to employees who reach physical fitness goals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready, touch the beat, and go. Up, up, down, down.

TUCHMAN: A lifestyle challenge director is on staff, who leads an on-site exercise program.

PAM HARB, WEYCO LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE COORDINATOR: When they go through the Lifestyle Challenge, they can earn up to $110 per month by testing on a six-month basis.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Howard Weyers says he won't fire users of alcohol, overweight people, or others who can potentially spend a lot of time at the doctor, but --

(on camera): If you're worried about health care costs, why don't you test the spouses of your employees for tobacco?

HOWARD: We will. We will in December.

TUCHMAN: You're actually going to do that?


TUCHMAN: Test the spouses, people who don't even work for you?


TUCHMAN: What happens if they smoke?

HOWARD: They can continue, but it's going cost their spouse $1,000 a year.

TUCHMAN: Spoken by the man who won't accept any if's, and's or butt's.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, East Lansing, Michigan.


LIN: Well, no, butts about it. This is a serious issue effecting a lot of people who are forbidden by their bosses from smoking. Is it right? Is it legal? Louis Maltby says no. He is the founder and president of the National Work Rights Institute.

Louis, good to have you. I did a little ad-libbing there, is it legal?

LOUIS MALTBY, NATIONAL WORK RIGHTS INSTITUTE: It's legal in Michigan and 19 other states. Fortunately, there are 30 states that have had the good judgment to say that your boss can't tell you what to do in your own home.

LIN: Really, well, the piece said it's a basic American right to do whatever we want in our private time. Would you agree with that?

MALTBY: I would, and unless there are rare cases where it would adversely affect your ability to do your job. But if you can still do your job in the morning, what you did the night before is really none of your boss' business.

LIN: But, Louis, lung cancer would inhibit your ability to do your job, right?

MALTBY: If you have lung cancer and you can't do your job. But you can't fire people -- at least, you shouldn't, for doing something that might make them sick someday. We all do things in our private life that could adversely affect our health.

It could be smoking, it could be drinking, it could be junk food, it could be riding a motorcycle, could be practicing unsafe sex, could be having too many children. If we let our employers start telling us what to do in our private lives, because it effects our health care costs, we can all kiss our private lives good-bye.

LIN: Well, Howard Weyers, I mean, the point that he's making, is that smokers not only jeopardize their own life, they jeopardize the condition of the people around them. And it's seems like some of the evidence bears that out.

Smoking is detrimental. Smokers who want to sell their house, they get an average of $1,000 less because of the smell that's got to be cleaned up. Or cars traded in are worth $1,000 less, because the car company had to clean it up. Smoking is a negative for a lot of companies from a business standpoint.

MALTBY: Well, if Mr. Weyers wants to tell his smoking employees they cannot smoke around the other employees, more power to him. No one has the right to smoke when they're going to be poisoning other people. But if you're going to smoke in your own home, where you're only affecting yourself, everyone else should just -- pardon the expression -- butt out.

LIN: All right. But these employees, they're not suing him and they're not quitting the job. In fact, you saw one that voluntarily quit because that was her choice, smoking or her job?

MALTBY: Well, you could force people to do almost anything to keep their jobs. We've seen women forced to have sex with their boss, so they wouldn't lose their job. But that doesn't make it right.

LIN: So, can these employees sue?

MALTBY: Not in Michigan, they can't. But in 30 other states they could. And we're working on Michigan.

LIN: Do you think this is a trend, then?

MALTBY: Fortunately no. There is always an occasional boss like Howard Weyers who forgets the limits of legitimate power. But, fortunately, they're rare.

LIN: Louis Maltby, all right. We'll hang onto our jobs, if not our cigarette butts. Thank you very much.

MALTBY: My pleasure.

LIN: Straight ahead, we're going to offer a little levity. Jeanne Moos heads to the Bronx Zoo to give some experts a sneak peek of the movie "King Kong. The review from the real thing, next.


LIN: This just in, we have learned that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says that he will not be making a decision today on whether to offer Stanley Tookie Williams clemency. Supporters of Williams say that he should not be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday. Instead, the governor should give him life in prison for the murders of four people, because Stanley Tookie Williams can still help children stay away from the gang life. He's written some best-selling books.

All right, the levity that we have promised you has been a serious day, but hey, "King Kong", consider this, one of the most anticipated movies coming out this holiday season. Well, it opened this Wednesday and we wanted to find out what some -- well, you might say real experts think about the movie. CNN's Jeanne Moos did some monkeying around.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These days, King Kong can do no wrong. There is the remake, the video game, the Lotto named after him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The King Kong Millions Jackpot --

MOOS: There is the King Kong costume, that even dogs like. The giant ape's popularity has rubbed off on chimps. Sharper Image is selling a $150 interactive chimp. But it's the movie that is generating the buzz. Who better to review it?

(On camera): Come on, movie time, "King Kong".

(voice over): Who better than the Siskel & Ebert of gorillas, well, Siskel may be gone, but Layla and Kiosha are alive and well thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo.

King Kong seemed to be a real nail biter, though it's tough to trust movie critics that seem to enjoy the film just as much in rewind. Since there was no concession stand, they made do with regurgitating and re-eating past meals.

(On camera): Not exactly popcorn.

JASON ROWE, SR. KEEPER, BRONX ZOO: Bringing it back to enjoy it all over again.

MOOS (voice over): What does it mean when your movie critic starts licking the glass during pivotal scenes?

Our visit coincided with one by the actor who played King Kong, sort of. Andy Serkis also did expressions in motion capture for Gollum in "Lord of the Rings".

For Kong, Serkis studied the gorillas at the London Zoo. One female got so attached to him that when Serkis' real wife showed up the jealous ape tossed a plastic bottle.

LORRAINE ASHBOURNE, ANDY SERKIS' WIFE: She just leapt and went, and squished all this juice all over us.

MOOS: No wonder the ape fell for him, listen to how he speaks.

(On camera): It's in gorilla, though.

ANDY SERKIS, ACTOR: In gorilla, yes.

MOOS: How's it go?

SERKIS: It goes, haa! Like that.

MOOS: He's a beast.

(Voice over): Our critic's interest in "King Kong" tended to wander.

(On camera): And what do gestures like this mean? Yoo-hoo? Thumbs up, thumbs down? Thumbs up, thumbs down?

(Voice over): Was Layla literally trying to knock the film?

These aren't the first apes to watch videos. Casey at the New Orleans Zoo is famous for watching gorilla porn. The inexperienced bachelor was shown tapes of gorilla courtship and mating in hopes he'd catch on. Zoo if officials don't know if it helped. After watching the tapes over and over for a couple of weeks, Casey got bored.

As for "King Kong", maybe it didn't get two thumbs up or four stars, but it did get four licks.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


LIN: There is still much more ahead on CNN. Including the debate over allowing cameras inside the Supreme Court. And in our "Fountain of Youth" segment, botox, but for tennis elbows and migraines. More of CNN LIVE SATURDAY after this.


LIN: This is CNN LIVE SATURDAY. I'm Carol Lin. Straight ahead this hour: A deadline loomed for the four aid workers held hostage in Iraq. The family of the American hostage makes a plea for his life on our air.

And the Tookie Williams case. Will Governor Schwarzenegger grant the convicted killer clemency? We just heard. Or will the countdown continue in his execution?

And America's plan to fight bird flu, today the nation's the top doctors gather at the White House with an action plan to fight the deadly bird flu.

Making news this hour, though, the fate of four Western hostages in Iraq. One of them is an American. Their captors set a deadline to kill them. And that deadline has past. No word on the hostages' condition just yet.

Legendary comedian and actor Richard Pryor is dead. HE suffered from multiple sclerosis since 1986. But his wife tells CNN he had a heart attack and died today. He was at a southern California hospital.


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