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California Death Row Inmate's Execution Postponed; Political Battle Rages Over Port Security Deal; Abortion Now on Supreme Court's Agenda

Aired February 21, 2006 - 22:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John King, in for Anderson tonight.
We begin with breaking news out of California, where the execution of a condemned killer has been postponed. It was supposed to take place 30 minutes from now, inside San Quentin's death chamber. But, just a short time ago, the state said it could not carry out the execution that would have involved an experimental type of lethal injection.

CNN's Peter Viles is live for us outside of San Quentin, and joins us with the latest -- Pete.

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this is a strange and developing story here in San Quentin.

Essentially, what is happening is, a federal judge is micromanaging this execution process. Last night, he set out certain conditions for the execution, involving anesthesiologists in the execution chamber. The state could not meet those conditions. Again tonight, he laid out different conditions, requiring that a medical professional be in the room. Again, the state said they couldn't comply with this last-minute request -- or, demand, rather, from this federal judge.

The bottom line: Michael Morales, on death row for 23 years, will live to see another day.


VILES (voice-over): Terri Winchell was 17-years-old when she was beaten, raped, stabbed, and left to die in a remote vineyard in central California. Her family has waited 25 years for justice for the man who confessed to the killing, to be put to death.

MACK WINCHELL, FATHER OF TERRI WINCHELL: It would give us closure, yes, because then we would know that justice has been served, even if it took this long.

VILES: But, last night, inside San Quentin Prison, a final shock to the Winchell family -- the execution of Michael Morales was delayed because of an effort to make certain he does not feel any pain when he dies.

WINCHELL: I just think the whole judicial system has went to hell, in my book. I can't understand it. VILES: California uses a three-drug cocktail for lethal injection -- first, a powerful sedative, then, drugs that cause paralysis and heart attack. Lawyers for Morales argue the second and third drugs are painful, and some inmates feel that pain.

To make sure there was no pain, a federal judge ordered that an anesthesiologists be in the death chamber to make sure the sedative worked before and during the lethal injections. But, at the last minute, the anesthesiologist refused to take part.

VERNELL CRITTENDON, SPOKESMAN, SAN QUENTIN PRISON: Any such intervention would clearly be medically unethical. As a result, we have withdrawn from participation in the current process.


VILES: And just moments ago here in Northern California, a statement from the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger -- quote -- "The federal court has interjected itself into the details of the state's execution process. I am confident that the convictions and sentence were appropriate in this case" -- that sentence -- that statement, rather, from the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, in this case, denied a request for clemency for this inmate, John, Michael Morales.

KING: Well, Pete, the governor...

VILES: John.

KING: Pete, the governor is obviously upset. But any indication from the state tonight as to when it might be able to meet the court's standards, and when would this execution, then, go forward?

VILES: The judge gave the state three options. It struck out last night on option one. It struck out tonight on option two. Option three is a full evidentiary hearing, back to court with lawyers and evidence.

And that hearing, we're told, will not take place until May. So, this whole thing, John, has been delayed quite a bit by this, which could be a precedent-setting case now on this issue of, is lethal injection cruel and unusual?

KING: Well, Pete...

VILES: John.

KING: ... stand by for us.

You mentioned a precedent-setting case, perhaps.

Let's bring in our CNN legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, to discuss that very point.

Pete says this goes back to court now. What does it mean? JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it means that this case -- this execution will not take place for months, and -- and maybe years.

And what it means, in a larger sense, is that it is part of a national conversation in the courts going on now about whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual. And the heart of debate is about a drug called Pavulon.

Pavulon is banned. Veterinarians are not allowed to use it to execute -- to -- to put animals to sleep. The -- the defense lawyers are going to court, including the Supreme Court -- the Supreme Court may get this case, even before this is resolved -- and saying, look, if it is too -- if it is too painful for animals, you can't use it on people.

And that's an argument courts are starting to take seriously.

KING: Well, you mentioned the Supreme Court could get this. Is there a discrepancy among the circuit courts, if you will? Is California different than this might, if the same case were unfolding in Oklahoma?

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

This three-drug cocktail is used in most -- in most states that have lethal injection. And lethal injection is, by far, the most -- most common method. But, in state after state -- it is a big issue in Tennessee now -- this Pavulon, this one drug, is -- is being questioned.

And judges, you know, who are -- are saying, you know, we're not doctors. We don't know if -- if this is true. But the evidence is -- is pretty good that there -- there may be pain involved here. And that's why we got rid of hanging. That's why we got rid of electrocution. That's why we got rid of the gas chamber. Now it appears lethal injection may be in jeopardy as a method.

KING: Well, let's go back to Pete Viles on that point.

Peter, if you're still with us, you mentioned, the state now has to go forward with this evidentiary hearing. I know it just -- this decision just happened a short time ago. But is the state prepared to do that, or this the fight -- a fight maybe that the state wants to wait for another case?

VILES: No, I think they will go forward with this, because they already -- already has been some evidence here.

And just to be clear about the three drugs, John, the first drug is a sedative that is supposed to render the inmate unconscious, so he won't feel pain. What the -- what the lawyers for inmates have argued is, the sedative sometimes doesn't work quickly enough.

The second drug causes paralysis. The third drug is the one that is supposed to be excruciatingly painful, which causes a heart attack. Now, the -- the corrections system in the state will say, well, the prisoner is already unconscious. What evidence has shown from past executions is, is that's an open question.

It looks like some of these death row inmates are still breathing several minutes after they are supposed to have stopped breathing, before these painful paralysis and heart attack drugs come into play. So, there is already some evidence. And it comes from the execution logs. And those logs will form part of the evidence at this hearing.

Exactly what happens, what is the process, when someone is executed using these three different drugs? What do we know about what happens? The death row inmates, the defense attorneys for them really want to have this argument. As I'm sure Jeff knows, lawyers around the country do, too.

Exactly what happens? Why does it take five minutes with one inmate and 20 minutes with another to kill them? Exactly how do they die? And do they feel any pain?


KING: And do the legal and medical communities agree on this?

TOOBIN: Well, the -- the medical communities -- what was so interesting about what happened yesterday is that the -- what the -- what the judge tried to do is say to the doctors, you keep an eye on this. Make sure this process goes as planned.

And the doctor says, no, that's not what we do. We do -- we -- it -- it is difficult enough to be involved in an execution as a doctor, but we are not going to monitor the patient and participate in this process. That's a violation of the Hippocratic oath.

And, keep in mind, that hearing that Pete described, which will start in May, that can be appealed. And that will be a whole separate appeal. So, even if it starts in May, which I, frankly, doubt, given the way the California legal system works, it will be a -- a substantial length in -- in itself. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will get it. Then, the Supreme Court may -- may hear it.

This execution, after -- can you imagine what it is like for the families? Twenty-five years after the murder of their daughter, many, many months at the least to keep going.

KING: Fascinating case. We will keep tracking it.

Jeff Toobin, here with us, thank you very much.

And Peter Viles out in California, on this breaking story -- thank you, Pete.

And now the ports -- the political dust-up over who runs them, your security, and some facts. To begin with, most of the shipping containers that enter this country already travel through ports run by foreign companies. Whoever runs them, experts say, none is especially secure. And although the company from the United Arab Emirates that wants to operate six big ports on the East Coast is owned by a government with a spotty record on terrorism, that same company also services American warships when they visit the UAE -- those, some of the facts.

Now the dust-up, which has top Republican lawmakers pushing for legislation to block this deal, and the president promising a fight.

Here is CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flying home on Air Force One, a defiant president summoned reporters, threatened his first veto ever, then stopped for the cameras outside the White House to hammer his point home.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there was any question as to whether or not this country would be less safe as a result of the transaction, it wouldn't go forward.

BASH: It is hard to overstate the drama. The president is now under attack by leaders of his party on his defining issue, homeland security, because of outrage over the administration's approval of a deal to give an Arab company management of six major U.S. ports.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist surprised the White House by issuing this statement, saying, "I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold, until this decision gets a more thorough review."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert also said he was concerned about the national security implications of the deal and called for an immediate moratorium -- that on top of mounting criticism from leaders in all the home states of those ports, like GOP Governors George Pataki of New York and Robert Ehrlich of Maryland.

A top aide says, Mr. Bush was not aware of the deal until lawmakers publicly complained. It was approved after a 30-day secret review process by a 12-agency committee, which includes representatives from the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Treasury.

In the face of what amounted to a GOP revolt that took the White House by surprise, a senior official said, Mr. Bush was assured by his staff it was handled properly, and decided to personally return fire.

He said, fear about U.S. security is misplaced.

BUSH: The company will not manage port security. The security of our ports will be -- continue to be managed by the Coast Guard and the Customs.

BASH: And Mr. Bush took on a major White House concern. Because the ports are already run by an overseas firm, a British company, objecting now to a deal with a company owned by the United Arab Emirates could be labeled discriminatory and risk alienating much- needed friends in the Arab world.

BUSH: This is a company that has played by the rules, that has been cooperative with the United States, from a country that's an ally on the war on terror. And it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies, not to let this transaction go through.


BASH: Now, we do have a -- the first statement tonight from the company at the heart of all this.

That is D.P. World. Its chief operating officer, a Ted Bilkey, said the follow, said: "We -- we followed U.S. law and actually approached the U.S. government for approval of our security arrangement weeks prior to the formal review. We will continue to work with the U.S. government in maintaining the highest standards of security at U.S. ports, and will fully cooperate in putting into whatever is necessary to protect the terminals."

Now, despite, John, the fact that this review panel didn't take an extra time, which they could have, to review this process, we are hearing more about how -- what went into this and, perhaps, the extra scrutiny that they gave this process because of -- of the facts, the fact this company -- country and company is from an Arab -- Arab country.

KING: Dana Bash for us at the White House tonight -- thank you, Dana, very much.

And a busy night on the "Security Watch" -- on now to Ohio, where three men are in jail. They pleaded not guilty today in federal court to a string of charges. They are suspected, in so many words, of training for a holy war.

Reporting for us tonight, CNN's Kelli Arena.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The plot allegedly began in Ohio in late 2004 -- the plan, to attack U.S. forces in Iraq.

One of the men, Mohammad Zaki Amawi, is also accused of threatening to kill or inflict bodily harm upon President Bush.

ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The three carried out their own jihad military training exercises, which included the use of firearms and the shooting of weapons. One sought mortar training.

ARENA: Amawi's brother, who would only talk in shadow, admits his brother was against the war in Iraq, but says he wouldn't hurt anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I mean, like, when I saw his picture, like, in the news, I was so shocked. ARENA: But the indictment says, Amawi and two other men planned to recruit and train others to join them in violent jihad against the United States. And they allegedly took pains to conceal their mission, sending coded e-mails to a contact in the Middle East, inquiring about "pillows," their code word for chemical explosives.

To prepare for their jihad, the indictment alleges, the men studied how to build improvised explosive devices, and that they downloaded a video like this one, to learn how to construct a suicide bomber's vest.

But the indictment does not specify how far along the plot was or if any attack was imminent.

GONZALES: But, clearly, they -- the -- the folks had the motivation. And I think that they demonstrated that they had the means.

ARENA: All three men had ties to the community in Toledo, Ohio. One, Wassim Mazloum, operated a car business there. He allegedly planned to use that business as a cover to travel to Iraq.

When asked if law enforcement was helped in this case by the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, officials seemed to indicate it was not.

GREG WHITE, U.S. ATTORNEY: Information came to the bureau in the -- in -- and to the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Toledo from the community prior to this investigation being started.

ARENA: For example, the indictment says, a U.S. citizen with a military background acted as an informant.

(on camera): All three men pleaded not guilty in federal court. If they are convicted, they face life in prison.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


KING: Remember those mobile homes that never made it to Katrina victims who needed them? Well, tonight, a step in the right direction -- we will tell you why we're "Keeping Them Honest."

And red-meat deception -- you won't believe what companies are doing to make the meats you buy look fresher than they really are.

And, a little later, Anderson's exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey on her extraordinary efforts to build homes for Katrina's homeless -- when 360 continues.


KING: Two stories tonight in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, one of them incredibly painful -- this one perhaps a sign that Hope, Arkansas, might finally be living up to its name. Hope is where nearly 11,000 mobile homes have been sitting for months, and not going where people desperately need them. Tonight, though, there is hope for -- some of those mobile homes are finally mobile homes.

CNN's Susan Roesgen is "Keeping Them Honest" with the latest -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: John, this is the first time that any of those mobile homes have moved anywhere.

And it is not a lot of them. It's just 300 out of the nearly 11,000. But FEMA told me tonight that it plans to move 300 of those mobile homes down to Baton Rouge -- that's about 80 miles away from New Orleans -- to another staging area to replace 300 mobile homes that they say have been sent to the New Orleans area, including Saint Bernard Parish, which, you know, John, we have done a lot of stories down there.

Folks have been waiting nearly six months now for temporary housing. The Saint Bernard officials I talked to tonight say they're expecting, they're hoping to get between 80 and 100 of those mobile homes, and they want to put them on what used to be a commercial mobile home lot -- John.

KING: But, Susan, hasn't the hangup there been that Saint Bernard Parish is in a floodplain? Is there a breakthrough on that front?

ROESGEN: It is still a floodplain. The entire parish is a floodplain, John.

But what the Saint Bernard Parish officials told me is that it is their understanding that, because these mobile homes will go on to what used to be a commercial mobile home lot, that they are going to be able to raise them up above the flood level, and then tie them down with hurricane straps to secure them.

But, you know, John, the reason that they're able to use this commercial mobile home park is because it is empty. Hurricane Katrina destroyed all the mobile homes that were there before, which begs the question: How secure will these mobile homes be, if they do get there, in the next hurricane season?

KING: Modest progress. Susan, we will continue to track that one as it unfolds. Thank you very much.

The other story out of New Orleans has to do with something just as elemental as where to live. It deals with what people might have done with the water rising and help so slow in coming. Did staffers at a local hospital administer lethal injections to patients too ill or too fragile to evacuate? There's a state criminal investigation under way.

Today, we learned, the investigation has turned up a name, a doctor's name. The story now from CNN's Sean Callebs.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Documents filed in the Louisiana State Supreme Court and obtained by CNN show that Dr. Anna Pou is part of an investigation into whether patients were killed by the staff at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans.

Pou's lawyer, Rick Simmons writes -- quoting here -- "She is currently under investigation by the attorney general's office for the alleged euthanasia of patients during this horrific time."

In the document, Simmons is asking a judge to keep Dr. Pou's words secret, saying she thought she was protected by attorney-client privilege.

Just weeks after the storm, on September 19, Pou spoke by phone with a lawyer for Tenet Healthcare, the company that owns the hospital, attorney Audrey Andrews, and company media relations director Steve Campanini.

The court documents show Pou was asking how she should respond to CNN question on alleged euthanasia, and said in a closed hearing later that Tenet's attorney told her on that call, "We're going help you. You need to speak with us." Eventually, the Tenet attorney said she represented the company and not Pou.

In response, Pou said -- quote -- "I became very upset, because I was under the impression, as they were well aware, that I thought what was said at that time was privileged. And Ms. Andrews told me, 'No. I am Tenet Corporation,'" meaning, "'I do not represent you individually. And I would suggest you get an attorney.'"

Pou's lawyer is asking the court to keep her comments confidential, saying they should be protected by the attorney-client relationship. But the Louisiana Attorney General's Office disagrees and wants to interview Tenet's lawyer and media relations head about Pou's comments.

Attorney General Charles Foti has said his five-month investigation has been slowed by behind-the-scenes legal wrangling.

CHARLES FOTI, LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Like any investigation, you -- you -- you run into roadblocks. You run into dead ends. And this is -- this is more just of a roadblock.

CALLEBS: In the days immediately after Katrina, flooding threatened much of the city. Hospital staff worried about whether all patients could be evacuated.

Dr. Bryant King said he heard other doctors and nurses openly discussing killing patients. He also says he saw Dr. Anna Pou with a handful of syringes, telling patients -- quoting here -- "I'm going give you something to make you feel better."

Dr. King says he left the hospital shortly after that, and he did not witness any acts of euthanasia.


CALLEBS: And we have reaction from a number of the principals involved.

We will begin with Steve Campanini, the media relations director for Tenet. He says, until the Louisiana Supreme Court makes a decision, it would be inappropriate for him to comment.

Next to Rick Simmons, who is Dr. Pou's attorney -- he says that Dr. Pou is trying to guarantee that her attorney-client privilege is protected. And he goes on to say that once all the facts surrounding this case are made clear, it will be clear that Dr. Pou and other health care professionals did everything they could for five days to save and evacuate patients, and did not engage in any criminal misconduct.

And, finally, Harry Anderson, who is the spokesman for Tenet Healthcare, he says, simply, Tenet is not a party to the issues before the state Supreme Court, and Tenet will abide by any decision the court makes -- John.

KING: And, Sean, any indication -- you noted this is a five- month-old investigation now -- any indication that this revelation today brings us any closer to the point where the attorney general will know whether or not he's going come forward with charges?

CALLEBS: Well, all we can do is tell you, we talked with the attorney general last week. And he has made it clear that he believes that there has been some behind-the-scenes wrangling that has -- in his words, have -- have kind of held up the investigation, that it has gone on five months.

And he told us, once that played out, he thought the case would move ahead pretty quickly. So, once the high court does decide on this, one can presume that this case is going to move forward rapidly.

KING: We will keep an eye on it.

Sean Callebs live for us tonight in New Orleans -- thank you, Sean.

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

Hi, Erica.


We start off today in Baghdad, with the city's deadliest attack in a month -- 22 people killed, another 28 injured when a car bomb exploded at a crowded shopping area. The attack happened in one of the most dangerous parts of the city. Police say the bomb was detonated by remote control, and they have arrested a suspect. In Jakarta, Indonesia, a 27-year-old woman reportedly dies from the bird flu. A senior Health Ministry official says the victim had a history of contact with chickens infected with the deadly virus. Samples from the woman have been sent to the World Health Organization for confirmation. So far, at least 92 people are known to have died of bird flu.

In Northern Mexico, a slow-going search for 65 miners trapped underground since a gas explosion there more than two days ago -- today, angry relatives threatened to push guards aside and rush into the pit where rescuers are digging with picks and shovels. So far, there has been no sign as to whether the miners are dead or alive.

And, out of San Francisco, a rather unusual story -- the city's garbage company now planning to launch a program that would transform doggie waste into energy used to make electricity or even heat homes. It's all part of an effort to cut down the amount of trash going into the city's landfill.

San Francisco, by the way, had a -- by the way, has an estimated 120,000 dogs -- so, John, a fair amount of potential energy there.

KING: Well, you know, the president has been on the road for a couple of days, talking about alternative energy. I have a funny feeling that's not what he had in mind.

HILL: It may not be, but may -- hey, maybe they're the answer.

KING: Maybe.


KING: Thanks, Erica. We will see you a bit later.

The new Supreme Court announced today that it will weigh in on perhaps the most contentious issue of our time. Abortion is on the agenda. What is at stake this time around? Which direction might this court go? We will examine all the possibilities.

Plus, the horror in the Philippines -- possibly thousands buried under the mud, and only 19 known survivors. Some of them are telling their story, sharing how they escaped the mud -- when 360 continues.


KING: It is something abortion-right supporters have feared and abortion foes have longed for.

Today, the new Supreme Court, reshaped by President Bush, announced it will take on the abortion issue. It plans to weigh in on a case concerning a federal ban on a certain type of abortion dubbed by critics as partial-birth abortion. That ban was signed into law more than two years ago, but it was blocked in the courts before it could take effect.

Joining me now to discuss the Supreme Court's involvement, once again, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

This is about late-term or what the critics call partial-birth abortions, but it could be about a lot more than that.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

And -- and you need a little history to understand why this is such a significant decision to take this case by the Supreme Court. In 2000, six years ago, the state of Nebraska had passed a very similar law regulating these abortions that are after the first trimester, how late in -- in -- how late-term is a matter of some controversy, but they are later-term abortions.

The Supreme Court, by a vote of 5-4, with Sandra Day O'Connor in the majority, said, that was an unconstitutional violation of women's rights. You can't deprive women of the choice to have that medical procedure.

Two thousand three, the United States Congress passes a bill very similar to the Nebraska law. President Bush signs it. The courts have said, just like the 2000 decision, unconstitutional. Now the Supreme Court essentially is reevaluating its own decision from 2000, except with a different cast of characters on the court.

KING: And -- and one of the different cast of characters is Justice Samuel Alito, who, while on the federal appeals court bench, seemed to be more open-minded than Sandra Day O'Connor to letting there be more restrictions on abortion.

TOOBIN: And, certainly, in his now famous memorandum that he wrote when he was in the Justice Department in 1985, said he didn't believe that the Constitution protected any kind of right of -- of a woman to have an abortion.

So, the O'Connor-out/Alito-in switch is absolutely pivotal in this case. And it -- it suggests, doesn't guarantee, that this decision will approve the congressional law, which, as the graphics show, doesn't -- doesn't affect that many abortions -- we don't know precisely how many -- but is a -- certainly a signal of where the court may be going.

KING: It suggests, so long as Chief Justice John Roberts votes the same way former Chief Justice Bill Rehnquist voted.

TOOBIN: Correct.

And, again, we don't know. So far, Judge -- Chief Justice Roberts doesn't have much of an extensive record so far. But he has been pretty conservative, when there has been the opportunity.

It -- the -- the Rehnquist-for-Roberts switch doesn't suggest that much of a -- a change in the court. But we don't know. Neither one of them had spoken out that directly in recent years about abortion.

KING: Is this a test of Roe v. Wade, or is it more a test of more restrictions, whether it's parental consent, parental notification, banning abortions earlier in the term?

TOOBIN: It's really inconceivable to me that the Supreme Court could use this case to overturn Roe v. Wade. This case doesn't really address the issue of the vast, vast majority of abortions in this country which is in the first trimester. And that the court has said very clearly in the Roe case and then more importantly in the Casey case in 1992, that that's the core right.

This is part of a strategy that the pro-life forces have followed for many years, which is that chip away at the right, parental consent laws, later-term abortion restrictions. That's been effective and the court has -- it is also politically much more popular than regulating early-term abortions. These laws, like later-term abortion restrictions, are pretty popular with the public. That always has an effect on the...

KING: A fascinating case on the docket next year. The way the court works, it's likely to be a political issue beyond a legal issue come 2008.

Jeffrey Toobin...

TOOBIN: You can bet on that.

KING: You can bet on that. Thank you very much, Jeffrey Toobin.

A truth in packaging controversy is erupting. How fresh is the beef you're buying? Thanks to an artificial process, steaks that look like fresh cuts may actually be weeks old. We'll tell you if you need to check your fridge.

Plus, you're looking at one of the luckiest people on earth. She survived where countless others died. Are there others praying to be rescued? The latest on the mudslide in the Philippines when 360 continues.


KING: Here's a question for you. You're at the meat case in the supermarket. Which one of these steaks would you buy? This one, so red the butcher probably cut it today. Or this one, that seems to be wilting before your eyes?

Before you decide, watch this report, because while your eyes aren't deceiving you, maybe your grocer is.

Here's CNN's Rob Marciano.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There's something new in the meat section of grocery stores nationwide and it has some people seeing red.

DONNA ROSENBAUM, SAFE TABLES OUR PRIORITY: Meat which would normally brown in three to five days is staying a bright red cherry color for five to 40 days. So their consumers have no idea what they're purchasing.

MARCIANO: What many consumers are purchasing is meat that has been spiked with carbon monoxide in order to keep its color. Before this form of modified atmosphere packaging, as the industry likes to call it, retailers were losing at least $1 billion a year as perfectly edible meat changed color from red to brown. It's a process the meat industry has been using for several years unbeknownst to most shoppers.

KITTY, GROCERY SHOPPER: We don't really know unless we go to a butcher, I don't think. We don't know what's in the packages.

MARCIANO: Randall Huffman of the American Meat Institution Foundation, an industry trade group, says that you can still trust the meat, even with this new process.

RANDALL HUFFMAN, AMERICAN MEAT INSTITUTE FOUNDATION: Consumers would still have all the typical indicators of spoilage if in the unlikely event that a package does spoil. Indicators such as the smell, it's going to have an off odor if it's spoiled. It's going to have a slippery or slimy texture if it's spoiled. It's going to have an off flavor if it's spoiled.

So those indicators are still evident to the consumer.

MARCIANO: And he points out that the expiration date is right on the package of the meat, telling the consumer when the meat has passed its freshness.

But according to Donna Rosenbaum from a consumer advocacy group, most consumers buy meat not by labels, but by how it looks. She believes counting on the expiration date alone could put people at risk.

ROSENBAUM: We're concerned. There's two types of bacteria. There's spoilage bacteria and then there's the pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that you hear about. These pathogens are masked by the false red color of the meat and consumers are lured into thinking it's safe when it actually might not be.

MARCIANO: John Catsimatidis is chairman and chief executive officer of Gristedes. His grocery store chain recently begun selling different cuts of meat using carbon monoxide because he can keep them on the shelves longer.

JOHN CATSIMATIDIS, CHAIRMAN & CEO, GRISTEDES: We've had increased sales in products that we never sold before. And that's a plus, plus, plus for the customer and for us.

MARCIANO: There are no numbers on how many stores sell this type of meat or even how much meat is treated with carbon monoxide, which, by the way, does not make the meat dangerous.

In a conference call today, the FDA said, "The color is not the major or even good indicator of meat," and that "Neither they nor the USDA find that using carbon monoxide in this way would mislead the consumer."

So the next time you buy your meat, don't just look at the color of it, smell it, feel it, and check the expiration date.

Rob Marciano, CNN, New York.


KING: I think I'm glad I had the salad tonight.

When the mudslide hit the village, only a handful made it out alive. Tonight, stories of survival from a disaster that may have claimed more than 1,000 people.

In the next hour, a special 360, "Saving My Town." CNN's Kathleen Koch and her emotional return to the community nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.


KING: In the Philippines, hope is fading fast that any more survivors will be found following Friday's catastrophic mudslide. The disaster wiped out an entire village, burying perhaps thousands of people. Tonight, officials say only 19 made it out alive.

CNN's Hugh Riminton has some of their stories of survival.


HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): She was the rag doll, the tiny girl plucked from the Philippines landslide. It looked like a miracle. If this 6 year old could make it, surely other children could survive. But little Rosemary Subunga (ph), now sits in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of her village school.

She had taken the day off sick and was at home. Her 250 classmates and teachers have never been seen again.

"She's hardly spoken about it," says her father, Ricardo. "She's just traumatized."

He was in the fields. He says, "I heard a huge blast. I saw it all, and I just cried. I knew my wife and children were gone."

Now there's just the two of them. Rosemary's (ph) mother, three bothers and sisters, all her friends, her home, all the life she has ever known, were wiped away. All they have now fits on to a hospital bed.

She shares the wards and corridors with the rest of the survivors who were there on the day, just 19 of them. In this devoutly Catholic country, what does it mean to be chosen to live?

(on camera): The survivor stories here are a testament to randomness, to pure chance. There is no pattern. They didn't come from any particular part of the village. Some of them were physically strong and fit, but there were also the elderly and children, frail and vulnerable.

(voice over): The oldest is 72. The youngest just 1. No one knows how Anthony Ezno (ph) rode the maelstrom down. It's a miracle he'll never remember nor ever understand.

Irinia Valasco (ph) was another one rescued. Surviving the boulders, she almost drowned in the mud. The first warning she said was seeing coconut palms seeming to walk across the ground before everything broke up and collapsed.

"I dived under a billiard table," she said. "That saved me as the rocks hit. And then I was being carried, sinking in the mud for five hours. I was trapped."

In these remnants of families, the old roles are changed. A boy sings his mother to sleep. A father learns more tender caresses. Just 19 out of 1,900, a small precious group drenched in pain.

"I don't feel lucky," says Irinia Valasco (ph). "I would rather be dead and have my seven grandchildren alive."


RIMINTON: Now, all of those survivors say, no matter what happens to them now, they want to stick together. They are all each of them have.

Now, John, a case of dueling VIPs here. The Philippine president, Gloria Arroyo, is on the site now making an inspection. But also, Imelda Marcos.

Remember her, the widow of the former dictator of the Philippines deposed from power 20 years ago? She had the shoe collection. Well, she is a local girl from Leyte Province. She's still revered by many people down in this part of the world.

She is on her way, we're told, in a Mercedes-Benz. She's coming to comfort the afflicted as only she can during the course of this day.

John, back to you.

KING: Hugh Riminton on the scene for us in the Philippines.

Thanks for sharing those miracles amid all that horror.

Thank you very much, Hugh.

And coming up, Anderson's exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey on her special project for some Katrina evacuees.

But first, Erica Hill from "Headline News" joins us with some of the business stories we're following tonight.

Hi, Erica.

HILL: Hi again, John.

Did Microsoft goof, or could this just be a little slick marketing? On its Web site, the software giant posted secret details of its yet to be released operating system, Windows Vista.

Now, the posting describes eight separate editions of Vista, each one tailored to a specific market. Today, Microsoft said the posting was premature and has removed it, but also said there's going to be more information soon. Vista is expected in the second half of this year.

On now to Houston, Texas, where today the Enron jury heard the strongest testimony yet against former CEO Ken Lay. According to a former Enron executive, Lay misled employees about the company's financial health. Paula Rieker testified even after Lay had been warned that Enron was facing a cash crunch, he told Enron's entire staff just the opposite, saying the company was liquid, that it had cash, and that in fact liquidity was strong.

Well, just eight weeks later, Enron filed for bankruptcy, wiping out many employees' retirement funds.

And have you filed your taxes yet? And we're not talking about 2005. We mean for 2002. The IRS owes more than $2 billion to some two million people who never filed for '02, and half are owed checks worth more than $570. The IRS says filers who get cash back face no penalties for filing a late return. But after three years, you're out of luck because that cash belongs to Uncle Sam.

I can't imagine not filing if I was getting money back. But that's just me.

KING: You're one of those neat freaks? You keep all your receipts -- you already spent your refund this year, I bet.

HILL: Well, you know, my father-in-law is an accountant. So I let him do most of the work.

KING: Wise move. Wise move.

HILL: You know.

KING: Thank you very much.

Six months after Katrina, permanent homes for 65 lucky families. We'll bring you an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey about an exclusive community, Angel Lane, only for those who lost everything.

And CNN's Kathleen Koch in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, a town still waiting for help, refusing to be forgotten. "Saving My Town," a special report when 360 continues.


KING: Next week it will be six months since Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. It's not a happy benchmark, though the happy sounds of Mardi Gras may suggest otherwise.

360 will, of course, be back in the Gulf to bring you the latest. But we've always said we consider Katrina an everyday story, not one just to revisit when the calendar dictates.

So this past weekend, Anderson visited Angel Lane. It's a brand new subdivision in Houston, Texas, built by Oprah Winfrey for Katrina evacuees.

Anderson talked to Oprah about the project and the lingering housing problem.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Does it surprise you seeing those images that, you know, nearly six months now after the storm that people's possessions are still laying around in the Lower Ninth Ward?

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Yes. Not only does it surprise me, but I'm -- I feel really disappointed as an American, because I would not have expected this to happen in America. We all said this right after the hurricane.

COOPER: Right.

WINFREY: Oh, we can't believe that the response wasn't great and the people didn't do -- and it was four days and people were -- we couldn't believe that as Americans people were treated that way. So now, almost six months later, I am surprised and disappointed that in our country -- because just like you, I travel to different places in the world, and you see refugee camps and you see squatter camps in Zuado (ph) and other parts of Africa and India. You don't expect people in America to be living in tents and huts six months later.

COOPER: And they still are.

WINFREY: And they still are.

COOPER: And you built -- all these houses behind us you built, and you're building more here. What are you doing?

WINFREY: Yes. Well, I'm -- you know, this is the thing, I think everybody has to do what they're -- I think everybody has to do what they can. And this is something I could do.

Some people can build a house or volunteer for a weekend or, you know, go to our registry. I have a whole -- I set up a whole registry where people could buy a chair or a toaster or an oven or a refrigerator and help a family.

But I can build a neighborhood. So I think that here is -- here is an opportunity for those of us who call ourselves Americans and everything that that stands for, meaning having as much concern for your welfare and your well being as you do for the people who live around you. That this is the time you step up and you show what that really means for you. So for me it was building this neighborhood. I have a public charity called Angel Network. I love the idea that we called this Angel Lane. And I'm hoping that everybody -- I'm going to move 65 families in here eventually.

And tomorrow, 12 families move into their homes. They get to see them for the first time.

But, you know, compared to what needs to be done, I am just one person. We have a whole government, a whole nation of people.

What I want is to have what we do on the show be a model for what can be done. And so I'm just one person. You have an entire government that can step up and show some leadership and get these people into -- into homes.


KING: And a reminder. Anderson and the entire 360 staff will be revisiting the Gulf region beginning at the end of this week and into next week to continue our coverage six months now since the hurricane ravaged the Gulf region.

On the radar tonight, our story on the ports, the state-owned Arab company that wants to run six of them in the United States and the political mess over the entire affair. A lot of people writing into our blog.

Nina in Honolulu says, "Why not sell the lucrative port deal to a U.S. based company, which would also help the economy?"

And this from Judy in Brooklyn, Michigan. "The administration of this country has truly 'outsourced' the soul of America and now they are selling ports to a country that is very much connected to terrorists. I hope America wakes up and fights back with its voting power starting this year. I am outraged."

Asif in Detroit sees it differently. "If the sale is blocked," he writes, "this will be a prime example of national discrimination and is totally unacceptable. We will isolate ourselves out of the world business theater."

And Betty in Aptos, California, has this to say, "Actually, we, the public, are just finding out that companies based in other countries have had control of operations in our ports. It doesn't make sense for companies based in any other country to have such control. Period."

And if you've got something to say, blog it. Just go to Click on the link to our blog and speak your peace.

We want to thank our international viewer for watching.

And coming up, a special edition of 360. CNN's Kathleen Koch returns to her hometown, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, a town that bore the brunt of Katrina and is still paying the toll. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, or what's left of it. My hometown, it's where I grew up. I'm Kathleen Koch.

For the past six months, ever since Hurricane Katrina, I've been coming back to see how it's doing. In so many places there has been so little progress. It's as if the recovery has barely begun. And it's painful to see how life has stalled for many of those still here.

But at the same time, I have hope, because the people of Bay St. Louis are like a family with a strong sense of community and pride. They have huge hearts and they won't give up.

(voice over): Bay St. Louis was unique.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bay St. Louis was a beautiful community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a lot of arts and crafts kind of town, real laid back. Great restaurants. Really good fishing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody knew each other. You know, you'd meet up on Sunday at church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People had time for each other. People could sit out on their front porch and swing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course the easiest word I could use to describe it is it was home.

KOCH: Along with the charm came a rock-solid resilience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eye of the hurricane crosses east of Bay St. Louis.

KOCH: It was forged in 1969, when the town was battered by Hurricane Camille, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the United States.


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