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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Terror in the Minel Protecting the Miners; Randy McCloy Upgraded to Fair Condition; Rear Crash Fires; All that Jazz; What's Cute?

Aired January 23, 2006 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In less than three weeks, we have watched virtually the same tragedy unfold twice in West Virginia. Two towns, 14 families devastated by deadly mining accidents. In each case, rescuers working around the clock to save the trapped men, but arriving too late. First, Sago, where 12 men died; then Aracoma, where on Saturday the bodies of two miners were recovered. Ten of their fellow miners made it out safely and we're finally getting a clearer picture of the terror that they experienced. One of the men agreed to tell a story to us. Here's CNN's Chris Huntington.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This West Virginia miner is still trying to come to grips with the tragedy in the Aracoma Mine, the fire that he escaped, but that killed his friends Don Bragg and Elvis Hatfield. He has asked us not to reveal his identity out of respect for them and their families.

Shortly after 5:30 this last Thursday afternoon, his group of 12 miners learned that a conveyor belt had caught fire. They immediately began their escape, but it was more than two miles to the nearest mine exit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, MINER: We started just smelling the fire a little bit and then we started running into some hot smoke; and at that time nobody had their apparatuses on. You know, we was all just kind of covering our faces and were covering our mouth with our jacket.

HUNTINGTON: Were you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh definitely. And I faced death right now. I really did. I thought -- I didn't think I was coming home to see my family.

HUNTINGTON: But then the smoke turned black and choking and they had to put on their emergency breathing gear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We was trying to put the apparatus on and the smoke was so bad that I was -- myself and I can vouch to others around me -- was gagging, gasping for air or suffocating and throwing up. I was throwing up and I know a couple of my buddies was throwing up as well.

HUNTINGTON: This miner dropped his goggles and he said others did too. The smoke was so thick they couldn't even see their miner lights. Moving single file with each man holding onto the man in front, they felt their way blindly along a coal shaft for nearly the length of a football field, searching for an escape door they believed would lead to fresh air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we worked our way, you know, to the door, the guy in the back, which was the boss, you know, he assumed that there was 11 miners in front of him and you know the guy in the front assumed that 11 miners was behind him. As soon as we got through the door, we realized two was missing and we didn't know, couldn't figure out how they got separated from us and we finally realized we could not find them. So all of the team that made it got together --

HUNTINGTON: At that point did you know it was Don and Elvis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew who was missing, yes we knew exactly when we got through the door who was missing.

HUNTINGTON: We yelled back through the door. As a couple of them made two trips back into the smoke to search for Bragg and Hatfield.

What was your first feeling when you knew were 10, not 12.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get a real sickening feeling to your stomach, you know, just wondering where could they have gone, you know, where could they be.

HUNTINGTON: After 15 frightening minutes of trying to find the other two, the 10 had no choice, but to save themselves and pray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hear a lot of stories about, you know, what people say what I would have done and this one would have done and in a situation like that, I can honestly say now there's not much you can do.

HUNTINGTON: Do you think this could have been prevented?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was pure accident. I mean, the only way this could have been prevented is if you would have had five or six guys at that one area when the fire started.

HUNTINGTON: But he is upset that there was not a mine rescue team on site, familiar with the huge labyrinth of the Aracoma Mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the guys on the mine rescue teams have never been under that hill right there specifically.

HUNTINGTON: Given what you've been through, will you go back into the mines?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me personally, I probably won't go back under the hill.

HUNTINGTON: But while he was under that hill, he knew he would make every effort to get out. What gave you the determination to keep your head together to get out of there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably my kids. I mean, that's all I -- I mean, I've got two young kids and I knew, you know, that's all that kept going through my head, you know, I've got to see them. All I kept thinking about was my kids and my wife and you know, praying to God that you know, to bring us out.

And I had told my wife when the incident happened at the other mine, the explosion where the 12 men got killed, I told my wife after that happened, I said if, you know, God forbid something happens at our mines, I said I will not barricade myself. I said if they cannot find me, I said you tell them I'm on my way outside.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUNTINGTON: Now, he told me that the two men who died, Don Bragg and Elvis Hatfield, were like family to him. He said that he spent as much time with those guys in the mine as he did at home.

As for going back into mining, you heard him say that he didn't think he'd go back in the mine, but the money's too good and he's going to ask for a transfer for a surface job -- Anderson.

COOPER: Chris, the miner in the piece said he was concerned there wasn't a fully prepared rescue team at the mine. That's really not a big surprise. Often they just come in from other parts of the state or other parts of the country. Did local officials respond to the emergency?

HUNTINGTON: Yes, Anderson. In fact, the first responders on site were the local fire department from Logan, which is only about three miles away from the mine. A fully trained firefighting squad of 25 guys showed up. They were not allowed into the mine. Federal regulations do not permit firefighters that are not certified to go into the mines entry at that point.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) is that he felt that the mine rescue squads, and he had great praise for their efforts, but he felt that they were not adequately equipped and frankly trained for firefighting. They had very sophisticated breathing apparatus for searching, but the firefighter said that he had to give them 13 sets of high-heat clothing and face shields as well as thermal imaging cameras that can see through smoke and specialized nozzles and hoses to deal with the foam in trying to suppress the fire underneath, so that was a criticism from a frontline responder -- Anderson.

COOPER: And the legislation passed today will not address that specifically. Chris Huntington, thanks.

The deaths at the Sago Mine and the Aracoma Mines have ignited a fierce debate over mine safety. West Virginia's Governor Joe Manchin, who's had to console 14 miners' families in less than three weeks, called for urgent action today and he got it. Both Houses of West Virginia's Congress passed a bill to help keep miners safer. The new law requires miners to wear wireless communication and tracking devices, sets up a 24-hour emergency hotline with a $100,000 fine if mine officials do not call the hotline within 15 minutes of an accident, and the law will require extra oxygen supplies to be stored in the mine. Significant, but relatively simple changes. I spoke to the governor a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Governor, your proposal is tracking devices, reserve oxygen, faster response time to an accident -- they all seem incredibly logical. Why weren't they already mandatory?

GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Anderson, I can't tell you that and I'm not here to blame anybody. I really am not. I don't know what happened. I don't know why the concerns and the safety for the men has not advanced as much as the manufacturing of equipment. The mines coal more faster and more efficiently. I can't stand here and tell you that. I don't know why, but I can tell you, as of today, West Virginia's made a commitment and we are changing things and the mines will be the safest in the nation in this state.

COOPER: It's incredible, though, when you start looking at this stuff, that you know the last real changes were some 40 years ago in response to the mining accident that your uncle died in and that your friends died in.

MANCHIN: You're right.

COOPER: And there are some people who say, you know, even more could be done. Canada, Australia have these portable refuge stations inside mines that have oxygen and water, can keep miners alive for days. Why not insist on those?

MANCHIN: Oh, we're moving. We will move, Anderson. I'm going to Washington tomorrow. I'm taking what we've done in this historic first step. We did it in one day. You know it's three weeks to today when we had the Sago tragedy. And you know something, whether it's done or not on the national level, we're going to do it here. I'm not going to wait and we're committed.

COOPER: Senator Byrd today said that when the president called him to say is there anything I can do, that Robert Byrd said he told the president, stop cutting the enforcement budget for MSHA.

United Mine Workers of America says legislation needs to go further, putting pressure on these companies, these big powerful coal companies, by actually raising the fines.

I read that a citation for coal flow dust, which admittedly I don't even know what that means, but that fine is like $20, which seems just for a big company, that's nothing.

MANCHIN: Right, but let me just tell you today what we did. If you don't call us within 15 minutes so that we can get the proper equipment, the proper people on the road, a $100,000 fine. I don't know how more serious you can be than that. COOPER: There are going to be some people out there say, well of course they're going to call immediately, but as we learned from Sago, I mean it took -- that was around 6:40 they got the first indication of an explosion. The call wasn't made to authorities until around 7:40. A whole hour went by.

Do you think you need to re-look at, whether it's at the state or federal level, at the penalties to these companies?

MANCHIN: Oh absolutely. I think you're going to have all -- we're looking at all of our state regulations and rules right now. We're going through that also with the investigation that's going on. We're reviewing everything. We're not leaving any stone unturned.

COOPER: There are some critics out there, and I want to put to you some of what they have said. In West Virginia, you know coal companies have a lot of power, they give a lot of money to politicians, including yourself. How resistant do you think are these companies to even great safety requirements? And they're going to fight this when it starts really hitting their pocketbook, aren't they?

MANCHIN: I don't think so. I really don't. I've not had that at all. There's been total cooperation through this thing that we did. And without the cooperation, we couldn't have made this historic move that we made today. West Virginians, the miners, their life, their family and the dedication commitment, there's not a price tag you can put on that.

COOPER: We'll see how long the cooperation lasts for. Mine safety is also a hot topic on Capitol Hill. We'll have that coming up.

Plus, in a month of despair in a town that lost so much, a bright spot, well, just got a little bit brighter. New progress for the only survivor of the Sago Mine tragedy.

Plus, after a series of fiery collisions in Ford cop cars, steps were taken to make them safer. So why haven't owners of similar cars been told about a fix that could save lives? It's a story you'll only see on CNN when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

1.1 billion tons of coal are mined annually in the U.S.

(END GRAPHIC)

COOPER: Imagine those working conditions. After the mine tragedies at the Sago and Aracoma Mines in West Virginia, it's not just state officials looking to mine safety right now. Today, a Senate panel opened a hearing on the issues. CNN Joe Johns has that piece of the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When 14 miners die in two separate mining accidents in one state in one month, the question is, could they have been saved? And could they have saved themselves with the right equipment.

DAVITT MCATEER, FORMER FEDERAL MINING OFFICIAL: You then have a transponder set up in the mine itself and we can track each individual.

JOHNS: Davitt McAteer, the man leading West Virginia's investigation into the Sago Mine disaster says this little $20 tacking device could increase a miner's chances of survival by helping rescue workers pinpoint his location.

MCATEER: The knowledge of where people are is critical to making mine safe and making rescues work, and that's what we haven't been able to do in the past.

JOHNS: But right now, American miners don't have that device. And few have this one, which lets teams on the surface communicate with miners deep within the earth. This device costs an estimated $100,000 per mine to install.

Today, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, himself the son of a coal miner, was asking questions about it.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: With this, you know where they are. With this, you can tell them what do. And those are available. Now, how many miners have this available to them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe we've checked with the manufacturer, and 14 mines in this country are using those.

HARKIN: Fourteen mines --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

HARKIN: -- are using these. Out of how many? Out of how many mines?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifteen thousand.

JOHNS: Cecil Roberts heads the United Mine Workers and blames MSHA, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, for the technology log jam.

CECIL ROBERTS, UNITED MINE WORKERS: It takes about seven years to get a rule pass through MSHA. That's absurd. It's ridiculous.

JOHNS: The mining industry argues it's not just a matter of unresponsive bureaucracy. There's also a major question about whether these gizmos actually do what they're supposed to do.

(On camera): Is it really that hard for the government to just say this could save lives, let's do it, without you know, being pushed and prodded?

BRUCE WATZMAN, NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION: We're looking into that technology. There are limitations, despite what was said at the hearing.

JOHNS (voice-over): Still, critics say the Bush administration has been lax on coal mining safety, cutting MSHA's budget and staff.

West Virginia's senior senator says he personally raised the issue in a telephone call with the president.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Stop cutting the Coal Health and Safety Enforcement budget.

JOHNS: But it may go deeper than that. McAteer used to run MSHA in the Clinton administration, and he says his successors rejected new rules to beef up mine rescue teams.

MCATEER: It was a step forward. It was the right step, it was a step recommended by industry, labor and government combined.

JOHNS: But it was killed. MSHA's solution, quote, "non- regulatory alternatives." Translation: Let the billion dollar industry police itself. Unfortunately, nothing pushes politicians into action like a tragedy. Now, some are calling for stiffer fines for mining company infractions and stepped up oversight of their operations.

But in West Virginia, one congressman says the cost of reform is always too high.

REP. NICK RAHALL (D), WEST VIRGINIA: That every coal mine health and safety law on the books today is written with the blood of coal miners.

JOHNS: The dead in West Virginia alone this month could lead to changes affecting the entire industry before the year is over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Now, the administration for its part says it has actually stepped up enforcement in recent years and dramatically reduced injury and fatality rates. They say the Sago Mine is a good example of tough enforcement. MSHA issued scores of citations, including withdrawal orders that shut down the mine temporarily on 18 different occasions. They say managers and supervisors of the federal government met with the mine operators 21 times in the last seven months of 2005 -- Anderson.

COOPER: Joe, it is just amazing that it takes, you know, this many people to die for all of a sudden legislation to get passed. You know, in West Virginia, it was passed in a day. All of a sudden, boom, that's no problem, they can pass it. For the last 40 years, there have been virtually no legislation passed on mine safety. It sort of -- you're just left kind of scratching your head, like why hasn't anything been done by all these folks? JOHNS: You really are left scratching your head, Anderson, but I think it's very true that government responds to crisis a lot better than it responds perhaps to inertia, and that's what we saw here in this situation. The government realized that they've had a number of accidents that didn't get as much publicity as this one did and when it did, they decided, look, maybe it's time we start doing something.

COOPER: All right, Joe, appreciate it. Thanks, and we're keeping them honest, from Washington. Thanks.

Erica Hill from "HEADLINE NEWS" joins us with some of the other stories we're following tonight. Hi Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson.

Speaking by telephone from Manhattan, Kansas, today, President Bush told thousands of anti-abortion marchers at a rally in Washington, that their cause is quote, "a noble one," and that they will prevail. The rally helped mark the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. The president was in Kansas to make a speech on terrorism.

Ashley Smith is also in Washington today. She was there to meet with a group of senators. She is the woman celebrated for convincing the man accused of shooting a number of people at the Atlanta Courthouse last year to turn himself in after he took her hostage. That was back in March, of course. Smith spoke today about her addiction to methamphetamine and how her ordeal helped her put an end to it.

An upstate New York, Senator Hillary Clinton today accused the Bush administration of deliberately neglecting healthcare. She was speaking to healthcare and business professionals at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and went on to say quote, "The status quo is not sustainable." Senator Clinton is running for reelection. She has long been closely associated with the healthcare issue.

And its imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Anderson. Well, this weekend, my friend, "Saturday Night Live," kicking off the show with a little spoof of oh a certain silver-haired anchor. You may be familiar with him, let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mayor of New Orleans and a senator from New York, both defending racially charged statements. I'm Anderson Cooper. See the news reflected in the shimmering blue pools that are my eyes. 360 starts now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: How about that?

COOPER: Wow, yes. HILL: Yes, a success. Not as good as the people that we met on New Year's Eve, who named their child after you. That was really imitation as a sincerest form of flattery.

COOPER: Yes, it was a guy, an MP who works over at West Point.

Erica, thank you very much -- I guess.

HILL: My pleasure, as always.

COOPER: I'll get you.

So, coming up, the latest on the condition of Randy McCloy, Jr., the sole survivor of the Sago Mine tragedy. We're going to tell you how he is doing and how his doctors think the road ahead will be for him.

Also tonight, they reduce the risk of police cars catching fire, so why isn't one carmaker letting you know about it? A CNN investigation, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

The average coal miner is 45 years old.

(END GRAPHIC)

COOPER: In everyday life, if people ask you how you are, and the answer is fair, well that isn't saying much. But in official medical talk, when a patient has been listed as critical and upgraded to fair, is very good news indeed. We're taking, of course, about Randy McCloy, Jr., the only survivor of the Sago Mine tragedy 22 days ago, is now official said to be in fair condition.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Doctors say Randy McCloy is showing slight improvements every day. He's breathing on his own, responding to family and friends by moving a little bit or turning in their direction. He still can't speak or smile and he depends on a feeding tube, but on Friday, he ate his first piece of solid food since his rescue. He chewed and swallowed a cracker. And his kidneys also began functioning a little better over the weekend.

DR. RICHARD MOON, DUKE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: That's a fantastic sign because eating and interacting with people in a meaningful way, they're all higher cognitive functions that must mean that his brain is recovering.

COOPER: Dr. Richard Moon doesn't treat McCloy, but is an expert on carbon monoxide poisoning.

MOON: It is indeed very surprising that he has made these apparently major steps several days or a couple of weeks after his poisoning.

COOPER: When he was pulled out of the Sago Mine after more than 41 hours, McCloy was severely dehydrated with a low body temperature and a collapsed lung. He was near death from inhaling high doses of carbon monoxide.

Doctors say the fact that he's just 26 years old has helped him survive and recover more quickly than expected. It's unclear, however, whether he'll make a full recovery.

MOON: I think at this point it's impossible to say how much better he will get, but his young age is in his favor and the fact that he has recovered to some degree up until now is also a good sign.

COOPER: Although doctors are unsure what the future holds for Randy McCloy, his recovery so far, unprecedented for a victim of severe carbon monoxide poisoning, has given plenty of people in West Virginia hope.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): And that is a very good thing indeed.

Well, are millions of cars on the road in danger of catching fire after a rear-end crash? Tonight, a 360 investigation. The risk of a fuel tank rupturing and how a simple fix may reduce the chances of a deadly accident.

And later, bringing the music back to the Big Easy. How some stars are making sure the city's rebirth includes the sweet sounds of jazz.

Across America and around the world, this is 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, tonight there are new questions about three popular cars made by Ford. They are the only American-made automobiles with the fuel tank right behind the rear axle. After the deaths of a dozen police officers, Ford made changes to the cars, but only those cars used by law enforcement. The question is why? CNN's Susan Candiotti has more on an investigation you'll only here on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENDA HOWELL, DAUGHTERS KILLED IN CAR FIRE : They had a glow about them. They were beautiful.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three sisters, all young, two of them new mothers, left in a limousine for a rock concert at Greensboro, North Carolina. They never got home.

Caught in a traffic jam, their limo was rammed from behind by a pickup truck going well over the speed limit.

JAMES CANADY, LIMOUSINE DRIVER: I saw flames shooting past my window, and I said, oh my God, we're on fire.

CANDIOTTI: Limo Driver James Canady had to kick his door open.

CANADY: The whole vehicle was on fire. As soon as I jumped out of the car, I heard one of the ladies scream, oh my God. And that's all I heard. And that was it.

CANDIOTTI: The sisters were trapped in the back. The fire too fierce for anyone to reach them.

CANADY: You could see the fire just like gasoline just keep blowing up.

CANDIOTTI: The medical examiner ruled all three sisters burned to death. Even though only one was injured by the crash impact. Yet, the fire might have been avoided. Why? Ford, which designed their vehicle, already had made fixes around the gas tanks in its police cars. The stretch limo was a Lincoln Town Car.

(On camera): As in Canady's own Town Car, you can see where the fuel tank sticks up in the trunk. Only three American automobiles, all made by Ford, the Crown Victoria, Lincoln Town Car and Mercury Marquis, still have their gas tanks this far back behind the rear axle, in the trunk area, touching off a safety debate that started long before the sisters died.

(Voice-over): Since the early '90s, at least a dozen police officers, among them, this Arizona highway patrolman, were burned to death when the Crown Victoria cruisers were hit from behind and the gas tanks went up in flames.

Three years ago, under pressure by several police departments --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've shielded some components that are mounted on the axle.

CANDIOTTI: Ford made safety changes to put rubber and plastic shields on sharp parts around the tank in the patrol cars. They're now standard equipment when the police cars come off the assembly line.

Watch this. A cop car crash in Chicago. This is a success story. The shields worked. The officer lived. Look again. Since the changes to vehicles like this, no one has burned to death because of a puncture in a police car with the new gas tank shields.

Yet, back in 2002, when Ford was asked if everyday drivers would get the same protection, Ford said their cars were already safe.

This at a news conference announcing the shields for police.

SUSAN CISCHKE, FORD VICE PRESIDENT FOR SAFETY: It's not necessary for the civilians because they don't use their vehicles like the police do.

CANDIOTTI: The explanation. Police cars are stopped alongside the road and thus exposed to onrushing traffic far more often than the rest of us.

CISCHKE: If there's anybody that feels that they use their vehicle like the police, we can make the kit available to them at their cost, but we don't think it's necessary.

CANDIOTTI: So Ford never notified its car owners they could ask for the shields at a cost of only $100 or so if they went to their dealers.

Ricky and Brenda Howell's daughters died one year after that Ford decision.

RICKY HOWELL, DAUGHTERS KILLED IN CAR FIRE: They're set in steel, just like a patrol car sitting in traffic.

CANDIOTTI: Under oath this past fall, Ford acknowledged the limo's gas tank was pierced by a bolt that would have been covered if the limo had the rubber shields.

B. HOWELL: They could fix the cars. They just didn't see why it needed to be done. I mean, and in our case it proves it did need to be done.

CANDIOTTI: Last fall, Ford offered limousine makers the shields without charge. No such offer, though, was made for the regular car models. Ford says its cars, some three million of these Crown Vic, Town Car and Mercury Marquis models already meet all the highest federal safety standards in 50 mile an hour crash tests like this.

In 2002 the Federal Highway Safety Agency did find in fatal crashes from all angles these Ford vehicles did have a lower rate of fire than other sedans in general. But in fires in rear-end crashes only, it said Ford did not fare as well as similar sized GM models.

Ford blamed the sisters deaths in North Carolina on the pickup driver who was drunk and is now in prison. Even so, Ford did decide to settle with the victims' families last week before trial. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Ford went to trial last spring in another Town Car crash and lost in a big way. this fire killed an elderly man whose regular Lincoln sedan was hit from behind at 60 miles an hour in a traffic backup on a bypass east of St. Louis.

Lawyer Brad Lakin cut a Town Car open to show the jury what happened.

BRADLEY LAKIN, VICTIM'S LAWYER: Right here is the fuel tank, which is right here behind what they call the deep well trunk.

CANDIOTTI: Lakin said the crash hurled a large wrench in that trunk trough the gas tank.

LAKIN: There's a very thin, as you can see, back wall to the trunk and this padding and that's the only protection in terms of any items coming through and actually puncturing the fuel tank itself. CANDIOTTI: The drier, John Jablonski (ph), died from burns in a hospital the next night. His widow, Dora, survived the fire at a terrible price. The jury was shown this video of her, now in a nursing home.

EDWARD FRIEDEL, JURY FOREMAN: Her ears were pretty well gone, her nose, and it took a lot of courage for her to come into the courtroom, because the first words out of her mouth was that she knows she looks hideous.

CANDIOTTI: Back when Ford offered police the shields, it also came up with a special trunk pack to store objects that could puncture a gas tank. As for everyday drivers, again Ford sent them no information.

FRIEDEL: I felt that Ford could have prevented most all of this with a 37-cent stamp.

CANDIOTTI: As in the North Carolina fire, Ford said the other driver was at fault. She was ticketed for failure to slow down before the crash.

Edward Friedel, a delivery driver, became the jury foreman. He said when the jury went out, at first it was slow going. Then --

FRIEDEL: One juror just blurted out, does anybody feel that Ford did something wrong? And that's when unanimously everybody said, yes, they withheld the truth.

CANDIOTTI: The verdict against Ford, almost $44 million in damages for Mrs. Jablonski. Ford is a appealing, arguing it did not get a fair trial. The company declined to be interviewed on camera for this story.

But last fall, again under oath, Ford's top safety official did say nothing has changed in her thinking. She still does not recommend the police car safety fixes for the everyday driver.

R. HOWELL: She don't know the pain we feel right now. This could have been prevented and we know that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: The pickup speed at impact in the North Carolina limousine crash was at least 60 miles an hour. The federal government requires that cars only withstand a 50 mile an hour rear end crash with a fuel tank intact. But when Ford developed these protective shields for the police cars, they crash tested them in 75 mile an hour impacts and with the shields, the tanks held up. They do work on the test track and in real life -- Anderson.

COOPER: Susan Candiotti, thanks. Brenda and Ricky Howell's three daughters died when the Lincoln Town Car limo they were riding in caught fire. They sued Ford. That lawsuit was settled last week, as Susan Mentioned.

The Howells join me now from Winston-Salem in North Carolina.

I'm so sorry for your loss and sorry that we're meeting under these conditions.

R. HOWELL: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

B. HOWELL: Thank you.

COOPER: Had you heard at all about this problem?

R. HOWELL: No, not before that night. We hadn't heard anything about it.

COOPER: And how long was it after your daughters were killed that night that you started to hear about this rear fuel tank?

R. HOWELL: Just the best I can remember, a few days, you know, we started hearing and looking on the Internet and found it and someone came to us and talked to us about it.

COOPER: What has this process been like for you, Brenda? I mean, not only losing your three daughters, but then going through this legal fight to try to get this changed?

B. HOWELL: It's been like a roller coaster, up and down, up and down. It's been horrible. It's been like a nightmare from the very beginning.

COOPER: How long has it taken, Ricky?

R. HOWELL: Excuse me?

COOPER: How long has this taken?

R. HOWELL: Since --

COOPER: Since your daughters were killed?

R. HOWELL: It's been two and a half years ago and it seems like it was about two weeks ago, and that's getting this last hurdle over. We can start healing maybe. I don't know that we'll ever completely, but getting this behind us.

COOPER: What do you want people to know, Brenda, most of all right now?

B. HOWELL: People need to know that there are safety shields available for these vehicles. They need to go to the dealership if they own one of these cars and ask for the shield so they can protect themselves and their families, so what happened to us won't happen to them.

COOPER: And your youngest daughter, Megan, she was just a junior when the accident happened last spring. On the day she would have graduated high school, they honored her. Tell me about that. How did they do that? B. HOWELL: Well, they had an empty chair where she would have been seated and they had a rose laid in her chair, and they sent that to me later.

COOPER: Ricky, when you hear that Ford says they don't think these shields are necessary for everyday vehicles, they say they're necessary -- they put them on police cars and on limos, but not on everyday vehicles, what do you think?

R. HOWELL: I don't know what they're thinking. This car is stopped in traffic. I mean about everywhere you go, you've got construction and you're sitting there. I mean, I think we ought to protect our police officers and patrolmen, but civilians too. They deserve the same kind of protection that they do and you know, it's just a common thing that you sit in traffic and you take this chance of getting hit in the rear, and these shields will protect the car.

COOPER: Is it, you know often, Brenda, I think when you lose someone you love, it's sometimes, especially in such a violent way, it's hard to remember how they lived their lives. You sort of get stuck on how their lives ended. Can you remember the good times with your daughters?

B. HOWELL: Oh, of course. I have to be able to remember the good times and try not to focus on the horrible accident. I wouldn't be able to make it each day if I didn't have the great memories to recall.

COOPER: We mentioned earlier, we called six dealers, asking them about these kits. Only three of them seemed to know what we were talking about. So, you know, there's certainly a lot of education out there to be done and we appreciate you coming out and talking about it. Thank you so much, and again, I'm sorry for your losses.

R. HOWELL: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

B. HOWELL: Thank you.

COOPER: We asked Ford, of course, if they'd like to have a spokesman from their company appear on tonight's program. They declined, however.

Coming up next on the program, in New Orleans, Katrina not only damaged homes and lives, there's also a shortage of the city's infamous jazz music. Some big names on the case. That story, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Visit New Orleans, these days, and you can't help but wonder what happened to all that jazz. Nearly five months after Katrina, many of the city's music makers remain thrown to the winds. Fortunately, folks who are still there know they need a plan to get the magic back. CNN's Sean Callebs shows us what they're thinking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Orleans is searching for its soul. Swept away with the homes, neighborhoods and the thousands and thousands who fled were some of the most talented and unique artists in the world.

Who better to lead the effort to restore music and culture than New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis, a jazz genius with enough Grammies, nine, to use them as door stops.

WYNTON MARSALIS, JAZZ MUSICIAN: I feel that no other city on earth has the range of culture that we have.

CALLEBS: Marsalis is on the commission to bring New Orleans back. Among the panel's goals, bringing back jobs, establishing a jazz center and teaching children here about the city's artistic history.

MARSALIS: So that we know who we are. Many times in the United States, that's the problem we have as a country. We don't know who we are because our thoughts are all kind of jumbled up and our arts exist to tell us we are teachers in a benign way.

CALLEBS (on camera): Among those who scattered in the wind following Katrina, 11,000 of the city's artists. The commission says only about 10 percent of the musicians in New Orleans remain.

MARSALIS: I feel bad because our people are spread out around the country and we're being told that the most important thing is to build a levee. That's important, but that's not the most important thing. The most important thing is to figure out how to take care of our people wherever they are.

(MUSIC)

CALLEBS (voice-over): Among those in need of help, Jeff Chaz, who bills himself as the Bourbon Street Bluesman. Like thousands, Chaz fled as the storm approached. He came back to devastation. Lots of his friends still haven't.

JEFF CHAZ, NEW ORLEANS MUSICIAN: I don't see hardly any of them. Most of them are gone and if you do see any of them, they don't have time to talk, you know. you know, because they got to get up in the morning and work on their house or something.

CALLEBS: For a decade, the 55-year-old made a living here. But in the wake of the storm, a vicious cycle. Tourists aren't here. Because of that, many Blues bars are still closed. With no audience, he doesn't have steady work.

(MUSIC)

CALLEBS: Chaz goes through wild emotional swings, from deep depression to moments of elation, especially when crowing about bringing New Orleans back.

CHAZ: Hell, yes, it's worth rebuilding. My God, we are the cradle of a music civilization here in the United States.

MARSALIS: Yes, we want our artists, we want our whole culture community back and we want that to be a priority.

CALLEBS: And that, he says, will help recharge the city's pulse and make New Orleans feel alive again. Sean Callebs, CNN, in New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us with some of the other business stories we're following tonight.

Hi Erica.

HILL: Hi Anderson.

Talk about big changes out of Detroit today, changes felt across the country. Ford, which many would say created the auto age, announced plans today to cut up to 30,000 jobs and close 14 plants over the next six years. Sites in Georgia, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio will be affected. The moves are part of Ford's efforts to return its North American operations to profitability by 2008.

A low does version of the prescription weight loss drug Xenical could be approved for over-the-counter sales. Today, an advisory panel recommended the FDA give it the go ahead. The drug prevents some fat from being absorbed by the body.

Nike Chief Executive William Perez, out. After 13 months on the job, he resigned after reportedly disagreeing with Nike Founder and Chairman Phil Knight. According to the company, Perez will walk with a severance package worth more than $8 million.

And the Canadian company that makes the popular BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, lost another round in the legal battle after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on whether the BlackBerry violates a Virginia company's patent rights. Now that means a lower court judge could impose an injunction and block BlackBerry use in the U.S. Anderson, many analysts are saying we could see some sort of an agreement coming before that happens.

COOPER: The very thought just sends shivers for news organizations everywhere.

HILL: I know, it's going to kill you, isn't it?

COOPER: All right, Erica, thanks.

Scientists measure everything else, so why not the quality that makes people go a little goofy when they see puppies and kittens and babies and such? The adorability quotient, a scientific explanation of what makes cute well, cute. When 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: So there's a certain sound, the one we make almost involuntarily when looking to a stroller or a pet shop window. A sound reserved absolutely and exclusively for one particular quality because only that one quality elicits it. We don't even have to say the name of the quality, we only have to make the sounds itself, awe, and everyone knows what we're talking about. We're talking about, well, let's let CNN's Tom Foreman say it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cute, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute is cornering the market in this age of ads on every cyber site and cell phone. The demand for cute cars, cute haircuts, cute characters, cute cuticles is steaming. And so scientists are scheming to find out why cute counts so much.

MARC BEKOFF: I love dogs, just because they're cute.

FOREMAN (on camera): In the Colorado Hills, Marc Bekoff is an author on animal behavior.

BEKOFF: Cute's a loaded term. I mean, I might think someone's cute and you might think they're not cute. But I also think it's hardwired so there's an innate attraction, if you will, to certain queues.

FOREMAN: Bekoff has noted time and again how dogs differ to puppies in their packs, instinctively tolerating bad behavior, caring for them and ensuring survival of the species. And he believes cuteness queues, genetic triggers for parenting, are at work.

BEKOFF: It's because their heads are rounded, their eyes are deep, they've got a shorter snap and they're walking, you know, just they're walking like they're put together with rubber bands.

FOREMAN: Other researchers have found those same cuteness queues work between species too. That's why humans love pandas, piglets, kittens, even some cartoons. We see in round heads and big eyes the same things that make us care for our kids.

The rewards are mutual. University of Wisconsin researchers scanned the brains of mothers looking at their babies and found the pleasure centers lit up. So it's no wonder that in virtually all mammals, including people, some adults that look cute also act a little young.

BEKOFF: You look cute, you attract a certain type of behavior from another animal and that becomes part of your MO, who you are and how you behave.

FOREMAN: Mathematicians long ago established that specific mathematical ratios dominate the faces of people we call pretty. And some suspect cute can be measured too. We know this, we respond so surely to even subtle cuteness. Scientists suggest we automatically trust the cute among us. Look at this, Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff may be smart, strong, assertive, not so much cute. But, make his head a little larger, his nose and mouth a little smaller, widen his eyes and now ask yourself, who could even question the performance of Secretary Brad Pitt? That's the trick and the trap of cuteness.

BEKOFF: I think the downside is attributing cuteness to someone who's not.

FOREMAN: So the problem can be that someone can look cute, but really be very aggressive or very dangerous.

BEKOFF: Exactly. They would look cute and that I would treat them in a way and they would be assertive or aggressive to me.

FOREMAN: So, we want to march with the penguins even though they peck. We'd like to cuddle a koala, ignoring its nasty bite. And, we tuck our kids in with facsimiles of the continent's largest carnivores. Call it foolish, call it instinct, but survival of the cutest goes on.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Boulder, Colorado.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Man, but they are so cute.

Coming up next on 360, a lot more. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Thanks for watching 360.

"LARRY KING" is next. Former President Bush and his fight to save Pakistan's quake victims. Plus an exclusive interview with Robert H. Schuller, the televangelist who's handed over leadership to his son.

See you tomorrow.

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