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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
In Katrina's Wake; Sarah Palin's Power; Pakistan Flooding Crisis Worsens
Aired August 25, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone.
We're back in New Orleans tonight. We're going to be here for the next several nights, showing you what five years later looks like up close, five years after Katrina destroyed much of this area, five years into a -- a reawakening, a rebirth that is as encouraging as it is for now incomplete. James Carville joins us in a moment to talk about that.
Also ahead tonight: 17 states taking action against online sex ads, ads on Craigslist. The company says its monitor them closely. Our investigation shows otherwise. And now 17 states are putting Craigslist on notice, crediting our reporting for their awareness of a problem that is close as a mouse click away.
Plus, the latest on last night's primaries and Sarah Palin's political power. Potentially five for five in endorsements last tonight, is she now the Republican force to be reckoned with? And will she cash in all those IOUs for a 2012 presidential run?
We have a lot to cover tonight. We are live tonight from a place they call the Ninth Ward Field of Dreams, a planned community track and football field on the grounds of George Washington Carver High, a school that was destroyed by Katrina.
The folks I'm with have raised nearly $1.5 million so far to build this Field of Dreams. And when it's done, they will provide after-school activities for kids who right now have none.
We're going to tell you more about the field of dreams later in this hour. It's been a long road back for many here in this crowd and in this city.
Five years ago today, Katrina made landfall in Florida, on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, where it would grow into the city-killer it became. Four days later, of course, the storm hit here, the levees failed, and so did our response to it. People died who otherwise might have lived.
That was five years ago. The city of New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast have come back, of course. New people have moved here. Some who wanted to return have not been able to. About 140,000 fewer people live here than -- than lived here in New Orleans pre-Katrina. Unemployment has been better than the national average because billions have been spent by the federal government to rebuild the flood protection system.
Crime is still a major problem, yes. And many city-owned properties are still in ruins. But there's new life here. Local restaurants are rebounding, tourists are coming, and the schools here are improving. A lot of people are working very, very hard.
Human spirit here is something they have never been short of. But what struck anyone who watched the disaster unfold five years ago was and still is how sorely that spirit was tested, how bad -- badly it was either neglected or taken advantage of by people elected or appointed to positions of responsibility. Anyone who needs a reminder need only look at this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 100 miles off of the coast of Key West heading west-southwest into the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It is forecast...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Katrina slams into the Gulf Coast.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Wind gusts up to 120 miles per hour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Projectiles that can kill you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stucco literally ripped off the side of this building.
BLITZER: ... shred part of the roof covering the Superdome, where some 10,000 people had sought shelter.
COOPER: This gas station, which is basically where we have sought safety, it's slowly being ripped apart before our eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're talking about a potential storm surge of some 22 feet, which could cause enormous flooding.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the storm passes, the federal government has got assets and resources that we will be deploying to help you.
COOPER: I don't think, initially, I had a real sense of the size of the disaster. It really wasn't until Tuesday afternoon, when I got to Gulfport, Mississippi, that I realized just the -- the -- the devastation that -- that -- that this storm had done.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: How many people are in there?
We went down to the Superdome and we linked up with a man who at that time was the head of the city council in New Orleans. He turned to us and he said, my city is drowning.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The devastation of Katrina catastrophic, and it may be getting worse. In New Orleans, Louisiana, a levee holding back Lake Pontchartrain breaks. MESERVE: When night fell, and it was quiet, and almost everyone left, and I could hear those voices and I could hear those sounds, I'm still speechless. I'm still speechless, because I knew no one was there to get them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can hear people yelling for help. You can hear the dogs yelping, all of them stranded, all of them hoping someone will come.
COOPER: The smell, it's -- it's overwhelming.
I remember we came to a family's house and they found four members of the family inside. And the neighbors had said that the family didn't want to leave because they worried about looters taking their property. Their bodies were swollen beyond recognition. That's certainly something I will never forget, that sight and -- and that smell.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: ... landed on a parking deck that was right between Charity Hospital and Tulane Hospital. And I started walking down that first level.
And, then, literally, it just opened up into a sea of several hundred people, patients, many of them on stretchers, doctors and nurses and health care professionals pumping air into their lungs with these (INAUDIBLE) bags.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I remember, at one point, we were standing up on a roof and we were doing an interview, and someone shot like right above us. And I -- I -- still to this day, I don't know if they were necessarily shooting at us, shooting a warning shot at someone else, shooting to get out of a roof. I mean, it's hard to tell in retrospect. But I do -- I remember that bullet coming right over us and all the cops, everybody just hitting the ground.
BUSH: Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.
COOPER: Katrina was a -- was a -- was a natural disaster that, very quickly, it became a manmade one.
CROWD: We want help! We want help! We want help!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No food, no water, helicopters flying over our head, it's ridiculous.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama to our help and rescue. Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA...
COOPER: Excuse me, Senator?
LANDRIEU: ... and the Red Cross up and operating. COOPER: Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting.
I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I have been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.
And when they hear politicians slap -- you know, thanking one another, it just -- you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because, literally, there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for -- for 48 hours. And -- and there's not enough facilities to take her up.
There was a woman named Ethel Freeman who -- who died at the Convention Center. She survived the storm. She didn't survive the Convention Center.
LAWRENCE: Like, I just remember thinking like, man, that's somebody's grandmother. You know, that's somebody's grandma, and her body is just sitting on the side of the Convention Center. Everything you had come to think about society and structure and what governments do and how cities function, it just kind of all dissipated with that image.
COOPER: There are snipers taking shots at medevac helicopters trying to rescue wounded people and evacuate people in the city of New Orleans.
The mayor at one point has just told people there are no more buses to evacuate them out. Just get to the highway and start walking out of the city. We have never seen anything like this in the United States of America.
BLITZER: Some 51,000 active-duty and National Guard personnel are now on the ground helping to restore and provide security along the Gulf Coast.
LAWRENCE: And I remember seeing those convoys of trucks, troops, and National Guard, the food and the water coming down to the city. And it was like, wow, here they are. Yes, it was happy and, somewhat, people were happy. But I think the question in everybody's mind was always like, what the hell took so long?
COOPER: There are people who stayed behind and then -- to protect their homes, and then went out to -- to try to rescue others and went around in boats or went around, you know, looking for neighbors, trying to bring -- get help to people. And, you know, you can't help but be inspired by -- by people like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will survive, I know that, but we need to do more than that. We need to go to back to -- to living with faith and with hope, and even with compassion for some of the people who didn't have any for us.
COOPER: Well, joining me now, two of the city's loudest champions, "Newsweek" contributing editor Julia Reed, author of "The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story," and political contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville.
Five years, I mean, does it -- where do -- where do things stand now?
JULIA REED, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NEWSWEEK": Well, looking at these horrific images, you know, obviously, everything is better than those days. But I -- the city as a whole has really rebounded and, in a lot of ways, is a better place than it was pre-Katrina.
I mean, James and I were talking about that before we went on.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, look, it was -- it's true to say some things have gone right, some things have gone wrong. However, a lot more things have gone right than gone wrong.
REED: Have gone right.
CARVILLE: But, yes, of course, we have problems. We have crime problems. We have got a great new police chief. We're really dealing with that aggressively.
Just think of all of the things that have gone right. We have had unbelievable political reform here. We have gone down from seven assessors to one. We have reformed and streamlined the levee boards.
We have got new -- new leadership here. Everybody says -- I mean, literally, everybody says the levees today are much better than they were pre-Katrina.
REED: What James is talking about is -- is a result of the civic backbone that the city never had, or not in my lifetime.
COOPER: It's been real grassroots movement.
COOPER: A lot of this has come from the ground up.
CARVILLE: Let me tell you that the...
REED: We didn't have any civic city leadership until just recently, when -- when Mayor Nagin departed. Most of the great stuff that's happened here has been because the electorate came back, the citizens came back and thought, OK, you know, we really do get the city we deserve. We get the government we deserve. We better get on it.
And -- and that is -- was a hard lesson, obviously, but it's -- there's a grassroots and just a civic involvement that never exist in this town that has changed the world.
COOPER: Do you think the federal government -- do you think politicians have learned the lessons of Katrina in terms of -- I mean, are we ready for the next big storm that comes, the next big...
CARVILLE: Probably more. We will respond just like...
REED: It has to be better than it was.
CARVILLE: But I do think that we ought to pause. And after -- the federal government has put some real skin in the game here. They have rebuilt some things here. Some of it has gone well.
COOPER: Tens of billions of dollars.
CARVILLE: Yes. And some of it has gone really well.
But the thing for our -- to remember, this is a city of neighborhoods, maybe more than any city that you ever been in.
CARVILLE: And these neighborhood associations are very, very influential. They're very protective of neighborhoods, if you look at people out here tonight.
And, you know, some obviously -- the more prosperous neighborhoods tend to be a little bit more vocal. But the people that live in even the poor neighborhoods are very proud of their neighborhoods, and they're very, very protective of what goes on there.
And Julia would agree with me. It's not just that New Orleans survives or comes back. The really encouraging thing is, we have survived and come back as New Orleans. We're not coming back with strip malls and that kind of foolishness. REED: I remember being, yes, in a -- one of those millions of panels that we were all three on right after Katrina. Will the neighborhoods survive? Music came from Treme, from the Ninth Ward, all this stuff. Or are we going to rebuilt as Disney World?
Well, that would have been the good news. We didn't get rebuilt that fast or that efficiently.
REED: But the neighborhoods and the culture has survived and come back stronger than ever. I mean, we have more restaurants post- Katrina, if that's possible. We had plenty of restaurants pre- Katrina.
REED: The music, the arts, everything has not just survived, but thrived.
CARVILLE: There was 800 restaurants here pre-Katrina. There's 1,111 now. There's 301 more.
REED: That's astonishing.
CARVILLE: There's a food critic, a guy named...
CARVILLE: ... keeps track of it. He's got a daily kind of chart...
COOPER: Uh-huh. Right.
CARVILLE: ... if you will.
And so -- and music is back. We had two Grammy Award winners, because, if it's not New Orleans, it doesn't...
COOPER: And we're going to have some of that music in just a moment.
Julia Reed, appreciate it.
REED: Thank you.
COOPER: James Carville as well.
CARVILLE: Thank you.
COOPER: We are going to have more with James on politics a little bit later on with Ed Rollins.
A lot more from here tonight. Let us know what you think about the rebirth of New Orleans. Join the live chat now at AC360.com.
Up ahead: holding Craigslist accountable for promises to keep ads off -- sex ads off their site getting results. We will show you what happened when we confronted Craig Newmark and what happened when law enforcement saw our reports, some big action on that.
And next: the Sarah Palin effect, how her endorsement power did last night and what it says about her clout going forward.
We will be right back from New Orleans.
COOPER: Well, Sarah Palin had a big night in last night's primary, potentially five for five in endorsements. Two candidates in Florida she backed won, two others in Arizona. The one race still in limbo is in her home state of Alaska, where the candidate she supports for the U.S. Senate, Joe Miller, holds just a 1,500-vote lead over incumbent Lisa Murkowski.
Absentee and obviously mail-in ballots still need to be counted. And Senator Murkowski said today, it ain't over.
Still, Joe Miller was a virtual unknown before the contest, but with Sarah Palin's support and her growing fame, that's all changed.
Gary Tuchman tonight with the "Raw Politics."
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's not a lot of gray area when it comes to opinions of Sarah Palin. You're either with her...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She talks to the normal person. I can understand where she's coming from.
TUCHMAN: ... or against her.
Polling has shown an increasing number of Alaskans feel the former governor is famous for the wrong reasons. Look at this video posted on YouTube from last week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You swore on your precious Bible that you would uphold the interests of this state.
TUCHMAN: Sarah Palin was in Homer, Alaska, to tape her new television show. A schoolteacher showed up with a banner that said "Worst Governor Ever."
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I'm honored. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Well, I wanted you to honor your responsibilities.
TUCHMAN: When Sarah Palin came back to Alaska after Barack Obama won the presidency...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am voting for you in 2012. You have to run, Sarah. We need you.
TUCHMAN: ... the governor was greeted as a hero by many. And she declared:
PALIN: This is the best job in the world, is being the governor.
TUCHMAN: But less than a half-year into Obama's presidency:
PALIN: So I choose, for my state and for my family, more freedom to progress all the way around. So that Alaska may progress, I will not seek reelection as governor.
TUCHMAN: Not only would she not seek reelection. She quit in the middle of term. It still rubs many the wrong way.
In fact, one of the Republican candidates for governor of Alaska made it part of his campaign, pledging he wouldn't quit if he won the job. But Sarah Palin's fame only continues to soar. She became rich from her biography and is now a paid talking head on TV.
Michael Carey is the former editorial page director of "The Anchorage Daily News."
MICHAEL CAREY, FORMER EDITORIAL PAGE DIRECTOR, "THE ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS": She's popular with certain groups. But there are -- there is a group of people here who are -- are -- are weary of the Palin story. They sort of feel that she's gone on to a bigger stage. She's -- where she is making a lot of money, getting a lot of popularity, dresses like $8 billion. And they would like to go back to just living their life in Alaska.
TUCHMAN: That might be true. But her influence was felt last night. Joe Miller's strong showing against Palin rival Lisa Murkowski in the Republican Senate primary at the very least is partly and maybe mostly due to Palin's endorsement -- ironic, perhaps, because to some Alaskans, she's not one of them anymore.
CAREY: She's much more on the national radar than she is on the radar of everyday Alaskans. It may be hard for people to accept that elsewhere or fathom it, but it's really true.
TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, earlier, I talked about Palin's growing power both in Alaska and beyond with political contributors James Carville and Ed Rollins.
COOPER: So, James, coming into last night, I mean, there was some question about Sarah Palin's endorsement power. She was about 50 percent. Did she answer all the questions last night?
CARVILLE: She did start the cycle. And you have got to give her credit. She has some guts. She took on an incumbent senator in Alaska. And, right now, it looks like that the guy's ahead. They have got to count some ballots and stuff like that.
And, remember, she came into the South Carolina race and she came in a lot of different races. And the Tea Party -- and the Tea Party people, these are not some fringe group in the Republican Party. They are the Republican Party, by and large.
COOPER: Ed, is that true? Do you believe that, that they are the Republican Party, by and large?
ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: What I will say is that they're knocking the daylights out of the Republican Party. This is the sixth or seventh race that they have been involved in and she's been involved in which they have beat the handpicked candidate.
McCollum was endorsed by everybody, everybody in Washington, everybody in Tallahassee, everybody in Florida, from the Chamber of Commerce to everybody else. And, you know, this guy came in and obviously with $50 million. And he was not a Tea Party candidate, but he was certainly one that they favored, changed the dynamics. Alaska obviously was Tea Party.
CARVILLE: You know, Democracy Corps, my polling firm, we polled -- 46 percent of Republicans identify themselves with the Tea Party. That is far more than combined organized labor and African-Americans are in the Democratic Party.
So, people say, gee, labor is very popular in the Democratic Party. African-Americans are a big part of our constituency. You combine the two together, they don't amount to what the Tea Party amounts to in the Republican Party. And you are seeing them in these primaries doing it again and again and again. It's the -- you have got to like tip your hat to their sort of political prowess right now.
COOPER: Ed, though, Palin is the first to say that an endorsement, though, from her is a double-edged sword.
And as we look ahead to the general election, where obviously you have got Democrats and independents get to weigh in, too, how does that play? I mean, does she hurt as much as hell?
ROLLINS: Well, I -- she certainly hurts among Democrats. The whole thing here is, our side -- and, as James said about the Tea Party -- they're intense. They're going to be out there.
As I called around yesterday to see how Florida was, the only concern people had is pouring rain. Well, obviously, they turned out in the pouring rain. The traditional Republicans weren't quite as enthusiastic.
My sense is, she's a big player. She's not a declared candidate for president. But she's certainly acting like one, and having far more effect than Romney or Gingrich or anybody else. So, she can -- it's her game to play anyway she wants to play it. And we and everybody else in our party better respect her.
COOPER: Do you actually think she might run for president?
CARVILLE: Oh, yes. I mean, I hope she does.
COOPER: Well, I know you hope.
CARVILLE: But, just as a Democrat, but just as somebody on cable TV, I mean, it's just there's nobody more compelling than she is in politics.
I mean, forget the politics of it. But she's a force. And she -- she keeps doing it. And she's gutsy. She goes out and she gets involved in races. And, you know, usually, people go, oh, no, you have got to keep your powder dry. You don't do anything. Let's play it smart. Wait for this.
She doesn't do that.
COOPER: Ed, do you think she's going to run?
ROLLINS: I think she will end up running.
I think what's -- and I think, Anderson, you and I will spend our time at New York dinner parties arguing with the Manhattanites. And there's far more people who relate to her than relate to our friends here in New York.
But I think, at the end of the day, there's certain steps being taken. I think she will be encouraged. She will raise money. At the end of the day, I think she probably does.
COOPER: I can't tell you the last time I was actually invited to a dinner party.
But I digress.
COOPER: Ed Rollins, thank you very much, James Carville as well.
CARVILLE: Well, come to the house and have dinner with...
COOPER: All right.
COOPER: That, I would do.
ROLLINS: Great. Thanks. Enjoy -- enjoy your nights, guys.
COOPER: Up next tonight, we're going to -- up next tonight, we're going to check in with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta, who is in Pakistan right now. Floodwaters are just about everywhere. Badly needed help is not. We will have a report from him.
Also tonight, "Keeping Them Honest" -- new developments since our confrontation over online sex ads with the founder of Craigslist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys say in the blog that you will remove any ad that looks like the person might be suggesting they're going to offer sex.
Look at this ad. It says "Young, sexy, sweet and bubbly." Clearly, here, she writes $250 an hour. I mean, what do you think she's selling in her bra and underwear? A dinner date? And she's in her bra and underwear.
What are you guys doing?
CRAIG NEWMARK, CRAIGSLIST FOUNDER: Have you reported this to us?
LYON: But you guys say you screen all these ads manually in your blog.
NEWMARK: Have you -- I have never -- I don't know what this is.
LYON: But in Jim Buckmaster's blog, he says these are being screened...
NEWMARK: Have you reported -- have you reported this to us?
LYON: Why do I have the responsibility to report this to you, when it's your Web site? You're the one posting this online. I just want to know -- I mean -- OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, five years after Katrina, there's another disaster unfolding before our eyes tonight, a catastrophe on an enormous scale. We're talking about flooding in Pakistan, the worst in the country's history.
The images touch on the massive tragedy, the numbers staggering, at least 1,600 people dead, more than 17 million lives disrupted, among them, four million people now homeless.
It's only getting worse. It's a slow-burn disaster. That's how one former government official described the situation.
At least 23 U.S. helicopters are going to be in Pakistan next week to try to help in the relief and the rescue efforts.
Tonight, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is Islamabad. He's soon going to be heading to the flood join -- flood zone. He joins us now with a 360 dispatch.
Sanjay, you just landed. Give us a sense of just the scale of this thing.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, those helicopters you were just talking about so necessary, Anderson, because, as you know, this part of the world, it's tough to get around even under normal circumstances.
And now you have just unbelievable amounts of water. This has been going on for some time, really almost a month now. But the amount of water now covering really the south, the southeastern part of the country, it's 20 percent of the country, Anderson, under -- underwater, three to five feet.
Give you a little bit of perspective. We were thinking about this. If you take a look at couple maps here, it's like the size of Florida, Anderson, like, as if the entire state was suddenly underwater, schools, roads, entire communities, hospitals. It's just -- it's remarkable to think about the numbers you said, 1,600 dead.
But, Anderson, as you know, having covered natural disasters like this, that number right now really doesn't mean anything. I don't even know how they begin to count the overall mortality impact from -- from this particular amount of water.
They talk about, you know, at least 800,000 people right now stranded, meaning that nobody can get to them. And, again, this has been going on for close to a month now, getting them the most basic supplies. They're surrounded by water, but it is contaminated water. And they're at real risk for a significant disease, Anderson.
So, that second wave of -- of disaster, we talk about it so often, but it's a reality going on right now here, Anderson. COOPER: And -- and just to get anywhere, I mean, are you going to be traveling by helicopter? How do you even get to the areas where the -- the flooding is?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, that part -- partly, we're going to have to get -- take helicopters or planes as close as we can get to these particular areas. And then, you know, sometimes, you have got to go by boat, sometimes by these big tractors, any way you can sort of get there.
But, you know, even -- even right before your show tonight, we're getting reports that there are entire communities that are still underwater. There are people literally standing on their rooftops. And this has been going on for some time.
You know, it's interesting what you mention. It has been sort of a slow burn. You know, there wasn't this pyrotechnic event of a tsunami or of an earthquake. And I think as a result, people haven't been as focused on this. It's not to say that there aren't very good aid organizations here in Pakistan trying to do the best job they can.
But I think everyone seems to agree that this really got bad, you know, over a period of time, as opposed to some sudden, snap-of-a- finger event. So, you know, I think that's in part what we're seeing are the ramifications of that, Anderson.
COOPER: Which makes it harder to cover and all of the more important to cover. Sanjay, I'm glad you're there. We'll continue to follow you throughout these next couple of days.
Alina Cho is following some other important stories for us right now. She joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Alina.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Anderson.
A gruesome discovery in northeast Mexico. The bodies of 72 people, 58 men and 14 women, were found at a ranch near the border with Texas. Officials said the victims were illegal immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil, and Ecuador.
The whistleblower Web site Wikileaks has posted yet another classified document, this time a three-page CIA report on the perception that the United States exports terrorism. The report, by the way, was labeled "secret." That's the lowest level of classification.
And Lindsay Lohan is out of rehab early, but she's going to be busy. As part of her probation, LiLo will undergo outpatient therapy four times a week for the next three months. She'll also meet with counselors five times a week and be subject to random drug testing. Her lawyer says that she is serious about sobriety. Anderson, I believe her.
COOPER: Alina, let's hope so.
Next on 360, the efforts to ban sex ads on Craigslist. New steps to make it happen and how our special investigations played a part in putting the Web site on notice, coming up.
Also, "New Orleans Rising." Here in the city's Ninth Ward, or G.W. Carver High, folks here need your help. We're going to talk with some of the teachers here whose mission is to create a field of dreams. That mission is closer to reality.
And of course, more from the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio.
COOPER: Tonight, top law-enforcement officials in 17 states are taking action. This is a letter that they've sent to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and CEO and founder Craig Newmark, demanding that they take down the adult services section on that Web site.
The company says it monitors them closely for ads soliciting sex. But as the letter goes on to say, quote, "CNN correspondent Amber Lyon posted a fictional prostitution advertisement on the adult services section and received 15 telephone calls soliciting sex in a three-hour period."
Here's how it looked and what Craig Newmark had to say about it in Amber's report.
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I want to show how easy it is for these pimps to use Craigslist to sell their girls. So we're actually going to post an ad for a fictional prostitute right now. Don't try this at home, OK?
It says right now that it will cost $10 per ad, five bucks to repost. One of the big things going on with Craigslist right now is they're saying that they're monitoring all these ads that come through on adult services to check to see if any of these girls are underage or young.
So we put some words in here, "sweet," "innocent," "new girl." And we're going to see what happens. We'll see if Craigslist is going to let our ad post. We'll also see what kind of calls we get.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw your ad on Craigslist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. What's your donation for an hour in- call?
LYON: What are you looking for? What type?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just half an hour. Just a quick, you know, half an hour get together.
LYON: What's your name? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John.
LYON: So what is that now? We've had 15 calls, and the ad has only been up for three hours. Fifteen calls in three hours.
We're on the main page of the Washington, D.C., Craigslist section right now. And to get down to the adult services section, you scroll past the "for sale" section. Right underneath pet services is adult services.
(voice-over) Craigslist says its staff manually screens all of these adult services ads and will reject any that make it look or sound like you're selling sex. That may not be easy, but when we looked through the ads, most of them were pretty blatant.
(on camera) Look at that. She's sitting here in her underwear.
(voice-over) On a single day last week, we counted 7,000 adult services ads in the major metropolitan areas where Craigslist is most active. Dozens had photos with young-looking females. Dozens more had words that used youth as a selling point.
The Fair Fund investigates juvenile trafficking.
ANDREA POWELL, FAIR FUND: And most of the young people that we've worked with who have been exploited online talk about Craigslist. They don't talk about the other sites. Craigslist is like the Wal-Mart of online sex trafficking right now in this country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We post ads around like 4 or 5 and wait for you to get a call, wait to get a call.
POWELL: From everything that we understand, when they are being exploited by a pimp or a trafficker, more accurately described, the trafficker is keeping the money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if I didn't get it -- yes, he would beat me.
LYON (on camera): So we're here at George Washington University, and we just found out that Craig Newmark, he's the founder of Craigslist, he's going to be speaking here today at a tech conference. He doesn't know we're coming. He's been very media shy lately about all of these allegations against him.
This guy is the Craig in Craigslist. It's his list.
So can people trust that children are not being sex trafficked on Craigslist?
CRAIG NEWMARK, FOUNDER, CRAIGSLIST: I think we explained that pretty thoroughly in our blog. LYON: That's where Jim Buckmaster says that you will...
LYON: ... immediately contact law enforcement if you suspect any ad...
NEWMARK: Jim does a great job showing that we do more than anyone in this area. Pretty good for a community of 50 million people.
LYON: This is inspector Brian Bray with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. He's also in charge of the prostitution enforcement unit.
In Craigslist's blog they say that they're going to immediately contact law enforcement any time they see a suspicious ad. And you say you've never been contacted by them?
BRIAN BRAY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: That's correct. I -- It does bother us from a law enforcement perspective, because the problem is so rampant that, you know, to get a handle on it, we need all the assistance we can get. And if they're -- if they're notifying, I'm not sure if they're notifying the right people because we're not getting the call.
LYON: What are you guys doing to protect these girls?
You guys say in the blog that you will remove any ad that looks like the person might be suggesting they're going to offer sex. Look at this ad. It says, "Young, sexy, sweet and bubbly." Clearly here, she writes "$250 an hour." I mean, what do you think she's selling in her bra and underwear, a dinner date? And she's in her bra and underwear.
What are you guys doing? But you guys say you screen all these ads manually on your blog.
NEWMARK: I've never -- I don't know what this is.
LYON: But in Jim Buckmaster's blog, he says these are being screened.
NEWMARK: Have you reported this to us?
LYON: Why do I have the responsibility to report this to you when it's your Web site? You're the one posting this online. I just want to know -- I mean -- OK. It's just that we've run into a lot of victims and a lot of advocates that pretty much call your site the Wal-Mart of child sex trafficking.
(voice-over) In 2008, Craigslist agreed to report any suspicious ads to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which works with police to find and rescue trafficking victims. Two years and hundreds of thousands of sketchy ads later, the center says Craigslist has reported fewer than 100. (on camera) Thank you for your time, Craig.
COOPER: So, is Craigslist going to shut down the adult services section? Because I mean, it's one thing to have it -- what they had been saying -- and I think the point of the reporting is that they say they're monitoring these ads, and clearly, it doesn't seem like they're living up to that. What's their response to the attorney general's letter?
LYON: Well, right now, Anderson, they are not saying anything about intentions to shut down this adult services section.
They also are continuing to release this generic response where they say they will continue to work with law enforcement and nonprofits to come up with a solution. That's the response they gave us and they've given any investigation in this matter.
And it just turns out that, you know, we've been investigating this, Anderson, for about three months now. And we have yet to find one nonprofit that's working to fight child sex trafficking that is looking at Craigslist in a favorable light right now.
COOPER: Interesting. Amber, appreciate the reporting. Thanks very much.
Still ahead, if you build it, they will come and thrive. A 24- year-old history teacher and a lot of teachers here in the Ninth Ward are convinced of that. Talking about a state-of-the-art track and football field for New Orleans' youth. We'll talk to some of the teachers behind it, coming up, at the school that was destroyed by Katrina.
In the meantime, take another listen to Washboard Chaz Leary, Andy J. Forest on blues harp and vocals, and Luke Winslow King on guitar and vocals. Ladies and gentlemen, the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio.
COOPER: Right now in New Orleans, there are tens of thousands of people stuck in the Superdome.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vast and iconic Superdome was the last refuge for up to 30,000 New Orleanians who could not flee before the storm. And what they witnessed here was horrifying. Great holes ripped in the roof, water pouring in. And days in darkness and squalor, waiting to be evacuated.
But then came the $250 million makeover. Working seven days a week, laborers dried it out. They removed the debris. They patched up that nearly 10-acre roof. Then they repaired seats, concession stands, luxury boxes. Even now they're putting a brand-new shiny aluminum skin on the outside of the dome.
It is the largest stadium reconstruction project ever attempted in this country. And as the many, many fans of the Super Bowl champion Saints will tell you, well worth it.
COOPER: Indeed. Tom Foreman with the look at the Superdome then and now.
There are other amazing transformations in the works here in New Orleans. The Ninth Ward Field of Dreams, where we are tonight, is a great example. It may not look like much right now in the darkness here, but it's the future home of a state-of-the-art community track and football field on the grounds of a school which had been destroyed by Katrina. It's going to cost nearly $2 million to build. The driving force behind it is a 24-year-old history teacher with dreams not just big, but huge.
COOPER: So what did this used to be?
BRIAN BORDAINICK, ATHLETIC DIRECTOR, G.W. CARVER HIGH SCHOOL: This was a K through 12 campus that was built in 1958. So basically, if you lived east of the downtown area here in New Orleans and you were an African-American until segregation ended, this was where you went. This school has such a rich history in this area. You meet so many people who went here in the '60s and '70s who just, like, hold this place in such high regard. It's fantastic.
COOPER: But the school got destroyed during the storm?
BORDAINICK: Yes. Completely. You know, took about 10, 12 feet of water down here and, you know, still looks this way about five years later. So...
COOPER: I heard there was water all the way up...
COOPER: ... past the doors.
BORDAINICK: Up to where you see over there, up to the air conditioner vent over there. So pretty high.
COOPER: And what are you hoping to create here?
BORDAINICK: So what happened is that FEMA finally got everything together on the school. So they're rebuilding the school. And what we want to do is we want to rebuild kind of bigger and better. And we want to create kind of the first public space of its kind in New Orleans, which is a public football field, track, stadium seating and lighting. COOPER: But why -- I mean, why sports? Why, given all the academic challenges that kids in New Orleans have? Why do you focus on sports?
BORDAINICK: I think, you know, if you really look at the time that a lot of these issues we're having -- you know, 4 to 6 p.m. is when all these young violent crimes are happening. If we can capture them and take -- not capture them, but we can take them and we can bring them here during that time and engage them...
COOPER: There's just nothing for a lot of kids here to do after school.
BORDAINICK: The public recreation in the city. You know, the schools -- you see, like, what the schools look like here, or some of the schools look like here. Public recreation is the same way.
And we kept asking when we started, you know, we don't have a gym here to use in our modulars. We don't have a field. We don't really have anything. So when we started asking what's going on? When are we going to rebuild? People kept saying, "Soon, soon, soon." So we just got tired of hearing that and took matters into our own hands and started our own project.
COOPER: Well, Brian Bordainick is close to making his dream a reality. He's raised $1.4 million so far and needs just $250,000 more. Hint, hint. He joins me now, along with the school's principle, Lee Green.
Thanks. First of all, thanks very much for letting us be here after school. How do you -- the kids right now -- these buildings are closed. The kids have been in trailers for years. How do you keep them focused academically when they're, you know, studying in trailers?
LEE GREEN, PRINCIPAL, G.W. CARVER HIGH SCHOOL: Just the whole idea of focus on the cultural structure of a school. Develop an attitude and a focus that kids must learn. And...
COOPER: No excuses. Kids...
GREEN: No excuses. No excuses. Success will come. You know, the part that Brian is doing is outstanding in his excellent work. But right now, we have to focus on the academic growth of students. But the pathways that are coming with RSD and what I've learned through our (ph) charter, I think it will make it happen.
COOPER: There's a lot of great developments happening in the education system here in New Orleans.
I mean, I asked you this before, but the importance of getting kids something to do after school, I mean, it's for their own safety as much as just their own education? BORDAINICK: Absolutely. I mean, if you look at when crime that's happening in the city, especially amongst youth, it's between 4 and 6 p.m. So if we're able to capture more kids during this time, which this facility will do, we'll be able to dramatically lower the crime rate.
And I think that, you know, we're not asking for a donation. We're asking for the investment. And our guarantee is that we will be able to lower the crime rate by putting this in. So people can check out our Web site: NinthWardFieldOfDreams.com and hopefully help us make...
COOPER: And you've really been able to help mobilize the community. You've got a lot of teachers, a lot of teachers behind you. A lot of folks who have been here for a long time, really trying to make this happen. Do you think it's going to -- I mean, you need a quarter of a million dollars. It's a lot of money.
BORDAINICK: I think people are pretty confident. And I think it's an idea. And I think people have been really able to rally behind that, and it's something that we've put our energy towards. And we've come this far. I think we're going to be able to...
COOPER: And when people ask -- you came here in 2007 to New Orleans. When people ask you, you know, how is the city now, compared to when you first came? What did you say?
BORDAINICK: We're hitting critical mass. I believe we're being able to turn the tide. You know, I think it's a house-by-house, block-by-block. And it's a student in the classroom by a student in the classroom. And I think that we're at a spot now in the city where we're really hitting that critical mass, where we're really moving forward. I think, you know, this school is a perfect example of that, if you look at what's happening here. There's hope for the future, and I think that's a beautiful thing for a city.
COOPER: How exciting are you going to be when this thing is done?
GREEN: Very excited. Focus on the instructional part. And that's the key part of it. And the alumni here, they're doing a great job of getting us back into that focus of the instructional part of the educational process.
COOPER: The whole community is really committed to this project and to the school. So I wish you luck.
BORDAINICK: Thank you.
COOPER: Thanks for letting us be here tonight.
More from New Orleans ahead. Plus, a lot of new violence in Iraq. Insurgents step up attacks as U.S. troops leave the country.
And Tiger Woods' ex-wife speaking up for the first time about the hell she says she has been through in the past nine months. The interview next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICIA CLARKSON, ACTRESS: Hi, I'm Patricia Clarkson. Five years after Katrina, I've never been more proud to be a native New Orleanian. I love this city: the music, the food, the culture, all of it. But most of all, the people. It's the great, great people of this fair city who saved it. To all of you, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's one of my favorite actresses, Patricia Clarkson. More from New Orleans in just a moment. But first, Alina Cho joins us again with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Alina.
CHO: Hey, there, Anderson.
A bloody day across Iraq. Militants attacked security forces in 13 cities, killing at least 48 people and wounding nearly 300 others. The violence comes as the U.S. ends its combat mission in Iraq and cuts troop levels to fewer than 50,000.
A reminder: President Obama will deliver a major address on Iraq next Tuesday night in the Oval Office. CNN's special coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
Another disappointing report on home sales. A report showing new home sales falling last month, 12.4 percent to their lowest level in nearly 50 years. That's one day after another report showed existing home sales sank more than 27 percent in the same time period.
And Tiger Woods' ex-wife is speaking out about their divorce. She says the word "betrayal" isn't strong enough in the cover story of this week's "People" magazine. He's also speaking out, admitting his actions led to their split. The golf superstar also told reporters today, "This is a sad time" and that he wishes her, quote, "the very best in everything."
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Alina, thanks very much.
Again, if you want to help the folks here build their Field of Dreams, the Web address is NinthWardFieldOfDreams.com. A lot more from here at the top of the hour and the next couple of days here in New Orleans.
Let's have good Dr. Chaz and Andy J. Forest and Luke Winslow King play us to break. The Washboard Chaz Blues Trio. See you tomorrow night.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: And good evening. We are live in New Orleans. We're going to be here for the next several days, showing you what five years later looks like up close.
Five years after Katrina destroyed this area. Five years into a reawakening, a rebirth that is as encouraging as it is, for now, incomplete. James Carville is going to join us in a moment for that.
Also tonight, 17 states taking action against online sex ads, ads on Craigslist. The company says they monitor them closely. Our investigation shows otherwise. And now 17 states are putting Craigslist on notice, crediting our reporting for their awareness of s problem that's as close as a mouse click away.
Plus, the latest on last night's primaries and Sarah Palin's political power. Potentially five for five in endorsements last night. Is she now the Republican force to be reckoned with? And will she cash in all those IOUs for a 2012 presidential run?