Return to Transcripts main page
Coast Guard Pilot Remembers Katrina; Glenn Beck Speaks at Rally; What Motivated People to Attend the Freedom Works Rally?; Top Legal Cases of the Week Examined; Katrina's Political Aftermath
Aired August 28, 2010 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks so much, Brooke.
We've got lots straight ahead.
Of course, this is the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, two words forever etched into the history of the Gulf Coast. This weekend, this anniversary is being marked by many different ways. It is a storm being remembered for killing more than 1,700 Americans, and now two more powerful storms in the Atlantic that bear watching.
Reynolds Wolf is tracking them for us right now -- Reynolds.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely.
Let me show you what we got here. It's going to be a busy time here for just the next couple of minutes. We've got, let's see, here's one, two, three, actually four areas. We're going to show you the forth area we're watching, coming up in just a few moments.
So let's get started with the biggest and baddest. That happens to be Danielle, right there. Take a look at this shot. This is the forecast path from the National Hurricane Center. The winds currently 110 miles-per-hour, gusting to 135. The latest forecast we have from the National Hurricane Center brings the storm to the north, then veering to the northeast as we go from tomorrow into Monday into Tuesday. It should remain just to the east of Bermuda, but still some heavy surf action can be expected for that island and back on parts of the eastern seaboard.
OK, that's Danielle, let's move on to Earl. Earl is a tropical storm. Winds of 60, gusting to 70. It's expected to do two things. One it is expected to intensify, possibly to a Category 2, then a Category 3 storm as we get into Wednesday. That's the latest we have in terms of that forecast. But, follow not just that line, but also the cone of uncertainty. It does cover part of Bermuda, so there's a chance the storm could actually come closer to Bermuda or maybe even closer to the eastern seaboard. There's a lot that can change, that can take place over the next couple of days. So, all of this bears watching.
And the next area we're watching, of course, is this area development that is right off the coast of African. This may be a named storm in the coming days, perhaps Fiona. OK, so, we've got three, but I mentioned four, didn't I? Well, the fourth area we're watching, believe it or not, is right here off the southern coast of Louisiana. Let's zoom in so you can see, a little bit of rotation, with these storms coming onshore. This has about a 10 percent chance of becoming something stronger, maybe a tropical depression, maybe something bigger than that. But again, the possibility is only 10 percent from the National Hurricane Center. But, what I can tell you is that this is going to provide some very heavy rainfall for places like New Orleans, especially through the afternoon and evening. That's a wrap on your forecast. Let's send it back to you -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Reynolds, appreciate that. Well, throughout the Gulf Coast, anyone who lived through the storm will tell you the memory are so very vivid, from survival to evacuations to recovery. And all throughout, helicopters played a vital role in evacuations. Our Jeanne Meserve looks back at that mission with one of the pilots.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From his Coast Guard helicopter, Roberto Torres surveys what has happened in New Orleans and what has not.
ROBERTO TORRES, COAST GUARD: All this green was not green before. It was filled with all houses.
MESERVE: He has also seen it all water. Torres was one of the very first to get up in the air and actually comprehend the scale of the disaster.
TORRES: If you can believe it, it looked like a lake.
MESERVE: Just hours after the storm some of the first photos of the damage were taken from his helicopter. He calls the scene then, "surreal."
TORRES: It's almost like we were missing the camera crews and the lights and stuff. We -- it looked like the movie set of an Armageddon scene.
MESERVE: Torres and his crew flew like they never had before, testing their limits and their machines, dodging power lines, trees, buildings, even other helicopters to hoist as many survivors as they could to safety.
TORRES: I had a huge piece of cardboard come into the rudder blade and kind of scare the heck out of us, one time. You know, a lot of scary moments.
MESERVE: Eventually other choppers from other agencies came to help.
TORRES: You could tell that they were kind of new to this. They would get on the radio, oh, my gosh, we have 50 people that needs picked up over here. And they were very panicky in their voice and we were not trying to blow them off. We were like, yeah, there's people everywhere.
MESERVE: As he flies over the city now, he wonders what happened to all those people he saved. Did they reunite with their families? Did they come back home? And at the oddest times he imagines what they went through while they waited for them in their hot attics without food or water.
TORRES: But, imagined that all the critters that they're trying to stay out of the water, too. So roaches, rats, whatever, up in the attic. So, every time I go get a suitcase nowadays from my attic at home, I always -- that's the first thing I always think of is like, wow, imagine being in that condition for three or four days.
MESERVE: Torres believes he saw the worst and best of human nature. But now, five years later most of his memories are good. He says God helped him forget the bad.
WHITFIELD: And Jeanne Meserve now joins us live and a very rainy New Orleans.
So Jeanne, the pilot, you know, said he saw the best, the worst of human nature. What more did he reveal about what he witnessed?
MESERVE: Well two stories stuck out to me on the worst side. He saw people who would grab other people's children in order to move up in line so they'd be evacuated first. Very distasteful to him.
And the second thing he said he saw was so many people helping one another and helping them do their jobs. In one instance, he told about a guy who was on a rooftop, they went down to rescue him and he kept motioning to the house next door. And they finally realized there was someone in that attic.
They went in, it was a elderly woman who had been in the water for days and she was blind. They took them both up in the helicopter. When they put then down on a highway, the man looks back at them and assured the helicopter crew that he'd take care of this elderly woman who he'd never met before because of the situation they were in. So, those were the good memories for him.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jeanne Meserve, thanks so much for bringing us his reflection on five years ago. Appreciate that.
All right, overseas, Americans are helping millions of people in Pakistan who are still in desperate need of food, water and medical aid as that country copes with its flooding catastrophe. And then there's the threat of more flooding, this weekend.
CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, is in one area with new warnings.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Here's how it works. You see police vehicles like this actually coming through the streets telling people to leave. They say that this particular area, this town of Bala will be under water in the next several hours, certainly by tomorrow.
People are listening. This town would normally be bustling. Thousands of people milling around, shops open. None of this is happening now.
But, most people actually are leaving like this, by foot in the hot sun walking for kilometers with no real idea of where exactly they're going or what they're going to find there.
It is easy to see why they are leaving. We are literally surrounded by water and they are worried that that water is just going to get higher and higher. So, they're fleeing the floods with the thing, the priority that they value the most, their livestock and just starting to walk.
This is where so many of them ended up. They were just walking for kilometers and kilometers down that hot road looking for high land -- anything that could protect them from the floodwaters.
And look at what their lives are like now. I mean, thousands of people literally, they have this little barrier here. It is so hot outside, anything to try to keep themselves cool. But this is the new normal life for lots of folks over here.
This family, for example --
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GUPTA: He says about 15 miles, 15 kilometers, they're saying. And look, small children. They walked here, again, in this very hot weather. Very, very difficult. He's telling me they really haven't received any kind of help at all.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GUPTA: They are saying they really have no food at all. All they have is this bag of sugar here which they use to make tea.
This is how it is. This is what's happening here in the middle of this evacuation. There's also been no water here they tell me for three days. In fact, a woman died in this area from dehydration just last night.
There's no question that relief is slow coming her, but even as we're filming today at the camp, this Pakistani army helicopter comes over and drops some parcels of food.
But this is just one camp. There are thousands of camps like this. There are more than 20 million people displaced, a fifth of this country is underwater.
WHITFIELD: And we saw some relief supplies arriving at that camp, today. The U.S. announced it is deploying 18 more helicopters to help deliver aid. The United Nations says more than $1 million was given or pledged for flooding relief.
And back in this country, thousands of people are gathering in the nation's capitol right now for two very different rallies. You're seeing live pictures from both of those gatherings on this 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. We'll have live reports from both events, up next.
WHITFIELD: All right, in the nation's capital, two groups are holding rallies at this hour, each advocating different visions of America. Conservatives are gathered on the National Mall and civil rights activists are holding a rally in a different part of town. We have live reports from both locations.
We're going to begin at the National Mall, there, and you're seeing conservative talk show host, Glenn Beck, who has hosted this rally. He's talking live. Let's listen to him.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR: We have a choice today. We have a choice. We can either look at our scars, look at the scars of the nation, let's be honest, if you look at history, America has been both terribly good, and terribly bad. It has been both, but we concentrate on the bad instead of learning from the bad and repairing the bad, and then looking to the good that is still out in front of us within our reach.
We have a choice today, to either let those scars crush us, or redeem us. We are gathered here today, in a hallowed spot. Here, Abraham Lincoln, a giant of an American, casting a shadow on all of us. We look, to a giant for answers behind you in front of me, the Washington Monument -- alone, tall, straight -- if you look at the Washington monument, you might notice its scars. But nobody talks about that. Nobody says, look to it now, nobody says, yeah, I don't know, but a quarter of the way up it changes color. Did you know that it did? Look at it. Look at its scars.
How did the scar get there? They stopped building it in the Civil War. And when the war was over, they began again. No one sees the scars of the Washington Memorial, the Washington Monument; we see what it stands for. No one also talks about what's on top, facing east. Just two words, "Laus Deo," "Praise be to God".
WHITFIELD: All right Glenn Beck, there, he's hosted this rally and our Kate Bolduan is there in the crowd. Initially, Glenn Beck was boasting that upwards of 100,000 people would be in attendance at this rally. There, at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.
So, Kate, what has the turnout been like and what's been the message?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fredricka.
Well you're hearing there from Glenn Beck as you were listening in. one thing that Behind me the crowd is quite large reaching from the Lincoln Memorial over, spanning the reflecting pool, reaching all the way to the World War II Memorial. But one thing that you do hear, and heard from Glenn Beck more than once, you also heard from former Alaska governor, Republican, Sarah Palin, the message of restoring America, restoring honor.
"Restoring Honor" is the name of this rally, Fredricka, but it seems that some people are interpreting that message differently. Glenn Beck, as well as the speakers that have been taking the podium, make a very strong point to say that their message is not political, but what this rally is about is supporting our troops and raising money for military families. But, when we went into the crowd and spoke to people in attendance, the people we spoke to very specifically talked about politics. When I asked them about what motivated them to come out here today. Listen here to a couple of people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the last year and a half, I believe that our kind of people have been totally neglected our leadership, by this government, overall. I believe that we are dysfunctional as a country, I believe it's hopeless unless we get back to our roots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people want to show, you know, solidarity and let people know there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, with what the path that the country has been put on and we want to change it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: What you are hearing there are many of the big themes that you hear from the Tea Party movement and we do understand that the Tea Party, bus loads of people that associate with the Tea Party movement, they came out here and have turned out in force here today. So albeit, they say that political speech isn't happening from the podium, we're definitely hearing a lot of political talk down in the crowd. I think it's very interesting and we should point out, Fredricka, that some of the loudest applause this afternoon, came when Glenn Beck introduced Martin Luther King, Jr.'s niece, Alveda King, when she took the podium, just a short time ago. Listen here to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR ALVEDA KING, MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.'S NIECE: I have a dream, that America will repent a percent of racism and return to honor. I have a dream. Yes, I have a dream, that white privilege will become human privilege and that people of every ethnic blend will receive everyone as brothers and sisters in the love of God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So, amongst this large rally where we talk about the politics, the non-politics of it all, Fredricka, it also comes with a lot of controversy. Glenn Beck has been faced a lot of criticism, especially from civil rights leaders that he is, some people are saying, high jacking the day, this being the anniversary of Martin Luther King's, "I have a dream" speech, that iconic speech. So there is a lot going on here, but so far, we're hearing a strong message from the podium, also hearing some different messages from people in the crowd, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so Kate, you know, I'm wondering since you ended on that with Alveda King, do you know about the conversations that may have taken place within that family, the King family giving Martin Luther King, III is going to be part of the rally that's taking place that's at Dunbar high school not far from that location before they march through the city and end up a few blocks away from where you are?
BOLDUAN: No word on the conversations within the King family. Really, how it's being received that Alveda is speaking at this event while other family members are at other events. We do know that Alveda has been very outspoken to say she even spoke to CNN last night saying that this event isn't high jacking the legacy of Martin Luther King and his iconic speech. This event here, she says, this Glenn Beck rally, is -- fits right in line with it, talking about the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression. She says judging people on the context of character which people at the podium are saying that's really what this rally is about, restoring honor, restoring America and that's what she is saying in defending this event, today.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kate Bolduan, thanks so much on the National Mall there in Washington. Let's go to another, I guess, vantage point of that same rally and there we have CNN political producer, Shannon Travis.
So Shannon, I want to ask you about the makeup of the crowd, the intent, here. While Kate was reporting for us what Glenn Beck has said that this is not a political event however, there are a lot of Tea Party members who are there. That has been made very public. Is this indeed, a Tea Party movement event?
SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's not being billed as a Tea Party event, by any means, but there obviously are a number of Tea Party activists, a number of supporters of the movement who are out here. We just kind of combed through the crowd, we see people with Tea Party signs, with Tea Party t-shirts, whatnot. They are not overtly talking about political messages, making political statements, but they are doing it with some of their t-shirts and in private one- on-one conversations that we've been having with them, definitely.
WHITFIELD: So, what are you making of the crowd? We're looking at the, kind of a panning view there, which is quite significant, there, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial along the reflection pool and all the down to the World War II Memorial, what does this say about how politics is being shaped or influenced by this television personality?
TRAVIS: Well, I think it says a few things. First of all, the fact that they are using this site, the site, obviously where 47 years ago, today, that Martin Luther King held his "I have a Dream" speech, Glenn Beck is, as my colleague Kate just mentioned, is using snippets of writings that Martin Luther King actually, he wrote about and snippets of the speech. So, I think it says that with the conservative movement, at least, they feel like that there needs to be a reclaiming of a path towards civil rights.
So, that's one thing it says. Another thing it says that clearly the conservative movement is trying to flex its muscle. Again, they're saying that this is not a political event, but there are other political events that are going on today, you have some conservative members of Congress who are holding a town hall. Yesterday, Freedom Works, which is a big backer of the Tea Party movement, held a convention. Americans for Prosperity another Tea Party backed group is holding a convention between yesterday and today. So there are definitely political overtones. Democrats are obviously saying that it's a blatant attempt at trolling for votes and firing people up before the midterm elections.
WHITFIELD: Are we talking in the form of video or is he kind of paraphrasing or reading transcriptions of this speech? And aside from that question, initially, Glenn Beck said this was not going to be an MLA type event because it was purely coincidence in his view that this event would fall on this 47th anniversary. So has he now kind of brought these two moments together?
TRAVIS: Well, remember, he says that the picking of the date is a total coincidence, I think his quote was it was "divine intervention" that they picked the date, the anniversary of this speech.
WHITFIELD: Divine providence
TRAVIS: Divine providence - exactly, divine providence. I don't think that they ever said that they wouldn't embrace the ideals of Martin Luther King if it was today or on any other day. But they certainly aren't shying away from the controversy as Kate just explained. Critics are saying that they are high jacking the movement, they don't feel that way. And in fact, they are overtly using, again, snippets from this speech. Alveda King is here even though, as you just noted, a few moments ago, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s eldest son will be at the Sharpton rally that's a little bit later today. So they're definitely not shying away from that controversy.
WHITFIELD: OK, Shannon, thanks so much, joining us there from the gathering there at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. Thanks so much. As we mentioned, there is yet another rally that's taking place that's commemorating Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech 47 years ago, and that's taking place Dunbar high school which is in northeast Washington not too far away from his location. Our Sarah Lee is there.
So Sara, give me an idea of what the gathering there is, what the tone is and if there is much rhetoric about what's take taking placement blocks away.
SARAH LEE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: OK, just to set the scene for you here, I apologize it is kind of loud here everything that you say to me. You can see behind me, standing shoulder to shoulder here on the football field at Dunbar senior high school, here for the National Action Network annual observance of the Martin Luther King, "I have a Dream" speech. This is an organization that, as you know, is headed up by the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Now, outside the gates, there is still a line people trying to file in and this rally started at about 11:00 this morning. The National Action Network has been bussing people in from as many as two different states as far away as Wisconsin, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, of course. And this football field stadium is pretty much full at this time. again, people are standing shoulder to shoulder, here.
It is important to note that Dunbar senior high school actually is a historically segregated black high school for high achieving African-American students. It has been here since late 1800s actually when it was first established as the first high school for African- Americans here in the District of Columbia. We are not very far from the Lincoln Memorial, here in northwest Washington.
Now, so far, since 11:00 this morning, we have been hearing from members of the clergy, labor leaders, civil rights leaders as well as educators. They have been talking about education standards, mentorships, civil rights issues, even Shirley Sherrod. But really, the only specific acknowledgement they have made of the Glenn Beck rally that is going on not far from here was when the president of Morehouse College, the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he did say, specifically that he is glad to hear that Glenn Beck has read the "I have a Dream" speech.
Still on deck, this morning, of course, the Reverend Al Sharpton, himself, and also the U.S. education secretary, Arnie Duncan. Again, they are really trying to reclaim the dream, they say here, of the education standards in the United States.
At 1:00, they plan to march to the future site of the Martin Luther King memorial, that will take them down past the backside of the White House, past the (INAUDIBLE), take them also on the edge of the reflecting pool where the Glenn Beck rally is going on right now, down Independence Avenue, so they will be very close to the restoring honor rally. But however, of course there is no scheduled interaction that is supposed to go on, but of course we will be marching with them and we will keep you posted.
WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Lee, thanks so much.
And it sounds as though Reverend Al Sharpton, who was speaking behind you has a since ended his talk there and of course, if he takes to the stage one more time we'll get an opportunity to hear what he has to say on this rally taking place, as well. Thanks so much, Sarah.
All right, meantime, we're going to talk again about this weekend marking Hurricane Katrina, that anniversary. Five years, by the way, it also changed some political careers as well as changing so many other people's lives. But some of the biggest headline makers of 2005 have simply kind of slipped out of the public eye. Where are they now?
And the world's largest retailer versus 1.5 million women. Our legal guys look into what may be the biggest class action lawsuit in U.S. history. There they are, we're going to talk with them momentarily.
WHITFIELD: All right some legal stories making headlines including a freeze on federal funding for stem cell research. Let's check in with our legal guys to see what they think about all this. Per usual, we've got civil rights attorney, Avery Friedman, he's joining us from Cleveland, and of course, criminal defense attorney, Richard Herman joining us in Las Vegas.
You just like to keep us guessing don't you Richard?
Let's talk about stem cell research. The president of the United States wants this research expanded, but the court said no. Richard, what happened?
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There is a federal statute, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, that is out there that strictly construed prohibits federal funding for this type of research. This judge in the District of Columbia ruled that that statute is entitled to strict interpretation and therefore, he basically annihilated President Obama's overruling and even President Bush's limited overruling of the statute.
Congress must act and amend the terms of the statute. This is a quagmire, this is going to delay funding, it's going to delay research. It's really -- it's just a horrible situation right now.
WHITFIELD: And so, Avery, the Obama administration says it will appeal. On what grounds?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, they're going to say that Royce Lamberth, who was the chief judge at the federal court, abused his discretion.
But take heart, as soon as Congress returns from summer break on the 16th of September, they're going to reconsider Dickey-Wicker -- what an awful name -- Dickey-Wicker, and that laws is likely to be changed. I think what we're going to see is a reestablishment, a reaffirmation of embryonic stem cell research. Important for science, so many people are -- the majority of Americans actually, support this thing. While the appeal is pending, look for Congress to change the law back so the administration gets what it wants.
WHITFIELD: OK. Meantime, let's talk about Joran van der Sloot and what is going with him. A couple different things beyond that there are some photographs that have been circulated that show him kind of cozying up with other inmates when he is supposed to be in isolation. But that's not really, I guess, what has caught a lot of people's attention.
He is saying he wants to recant his confession in the killing of the Peruvian girl, which is why he is being held. Avery, why and under what conditions does he want to recant?
FRIEDMAN: He's got two issues, Fredricka. Number one, he said that the translator that is translating from Spanish to Dutch wasn't official. Therefore, it doesn't count. He didn't understand.
And secondly, he argues that the lawyer that he used needed an accreditation document. Well, it was a competent lawyer, but because she didn't have a particular document, that doesn't count either.
He's trying to use both arguments. Fredricka, it is going to go up in smoke. It's never going to work.
WHITFIELD: Oh really? Richard, you see this as, forget it, a pipe dream? Just his last ditch effort?
HERMAN: Oh, no. I don't think it is going to go up in smoke. I think those a pretty substantial argument to make in order --
WHITFIELD: Oh, you do?
HERMAN: Yes, in order to get this confession thrown out. Except, Fred, this is not going to be a jury trial over there. There will be three judges who are going to make the decision. They have already heard his confession, it's been published and plastered all over the world. So they already know he confessed.
But there is enough circumstantial evidence. That video of him walking in the room with her, then him leaves and nobody else going in the room and then a dead body -- it's over. Whether this confession is in or out, this guy is going to be convicted of murder.
WHITFIELD: OK. And then quickly, let's talk about the number one retailer in this country, Wal-Mart, and how six women initially said we are filing suit for discrimination, we weren't promoted like others were. Next thing you know, it's a huge class-action suit, there are hundreds of plaintiffs involved.
Now the Supreme Court has to decide, Richard, whether you can have too many people involved in a class-action suit.
HERMAN: Right. Wal-Mart -- who are not sleeping well these nights, Fred, I guarantee you -- claims that because the class right now is larger than all four branches of the military plus the Coast Guard, that's how big this class is right now, and Wal-Mart says it's unmanageable, we can't do it, judge, so we shouldn't allow this case to go.
That is not going to hold up. The Supreme Court is going to make precedent here in establishing classes. It's going to go.
WHITFIELD: Avery, real quick? You disagree?
AVERY: The Supreme Court's not -- no, they are not going to take the case. This is not about sex, this is what the case is about class --
WHITFIELD: They are not going to take the case you say?
AVERY: No, they're not going to grant -- they're attempting -- Wal-Mart is attempting to convince the Supreme Court to take the case. The earliest it's going to will be held, decided by the Supreme Court will be 2011. The trial court may very well proceed with this.
Yes, I agree it is unmanageable in terms of money, but it's certainly not unmanageable in terms of the injunctive relief that is necessary. I don't think the court is going to take the case.
WHITFIELD: OK, well we're going to talk about --
HERMAN: The issue is class size.
FRIEDMAN: One million. One million.
WHITFIELD: OK, all right, we'll see what happens won't we.
We are going to talk about some other figures. One hundred million divorce settlement, that's in the case of the Tiger Woods/Elin Nordegren case. And then there's also a very interesting divorce case, I can't wait to hear your take on it. We're talking about the Dodger's owners. Who gets the team?
We'll see you guys in a few minutes.
All right Michael Brown, Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin, you remember those names. They all became household names when Katrina hit New Orleans five years ago. So where are they now? We'll take a look.
TEXT: One third of New Orleans residents say their lives are still disrupted by the storm.
WHITFIELD: When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, it turned Michael Brown, Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin into household names. So what are they doing today? We decided to take a look.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Five years ago they were at the center of the response to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Today, they're all out of office and largely out of the public eye.
As director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown lead Washington's initial response to the disaster.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Brownie, you are doing a heck of a job.
WHITFIELD: President George W. Bush's praise for Brownie became a punch line for critics of FEMA's performance. Brown resigned just 10 days later and now hosts a talk show on a Denver radio station.
MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: One of the fatal mistakes that I made was not making it clear that indeed, things aren't moving as quickly as they need to move. When I'm executing mission assignments to ask the Department of Defense to go do something, that shouldn't take three or four days, it should take three or four hours.
WHITFIELD: Louisiana officials took flack for the disaster response too. Much of it was directed at then Governor Kathleen Blanco.
KATHLEEN BLANCO (D), 54TH GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA: We had talking heads from all over the country, you know, beating on me personally when our people were drowning. And I told my press people, we don't have time to play silly party political games.
WHITFIELD: Blanco did not seek reelection in 2011.
BLANCO: I will focus my time and my energy for the next nine months on the people's work, not on politics.
WHITFIELD: Ray Nagin was the mayor of New Orleans when Katrina struck. He was a strong critic of the federal response to the crisis, but he also faced criticism himself and now admits he should have issued evacuation orders earlier.
Nagin also sparked controversy early in the rebuilding process when he vowed that New Orleans would retain its majority black population.
RAY NAGIN, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: It is time for us to rebuild a New Orleans the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don't care what people are saying, uptown or wherever they are, this city will be chocolate at the end of the day.
WHITFIELD: Nagin managed to win reelection nine months after Katrina hit, but during his second term of office, critics said his efforts to rebuild the city were moving too slowly.
NAGIN What I find is that citizens wanted immediate fixes when there was no immediate fix, so I took the brunt for that.
WHITFIELD: Term limits prevented Nagin from seeking a third term this year. He is now on the lecture circuit where his topics include "New Orleans Revival," Rainbow After the Storm" and "Revitalizing a City: The Keys to Successful Urban Renewal." (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: And Ray Nagin says he is through with politics and will not seek public office again. In an interview with CNN's John King just last night, Nagin declared quote, "I have kind of given my pound of flesh, my pint of blood," unquote.
All right a major league divorce drama taking place in California. The gloves are off and the fate of the L.A. Dodgers now hangs in the balance.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back to the NEWSROOM.
We want to take you straight to Washington, D.C., and that is NAACP's Ben Jealous who is now speaking at the "Reclaiming the Dream" rally taking place in Washington commemorating the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
BEN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: And there I was about 12 rows behind the president with my NAACP skull cap pulled down looking up going, granddad, you were right. It is a cold day and Barack Hussein Obama is president.
You know, I remind us of that day because it was a day when the entire country felt united. It was a day when we felt our country was a place of big hearts and big minds. And for a year and a half we have been subjected to small hearts and small minds on our small screens.
And starting with this day, we will remind the country that the majority of the people in this country, believe in hope, believe in progress, believe in unity, believe in universal human dignity for all people. And that is what Dr. King talked about.
I hope the media here sees the signs at our rally, cause across town they told them not to bring any signs to their rally. Imagine that, imagine Dr. King having to say, well guess what. It just wouldn't have happened.
Number one on their list is don't bring your sign. Number two on their list is don't bring your gun. What is our country coming to?
And that is why we all have to stand together and say we have come too far past healthcare reform, we have come too far narrow the sentencing disparity between crack and power 80 percent, we have come too far saved 160,000 teacher's jobs. We have come too far to turn back now. We will not sit down, we will not be counted out, we will be there on 11/2/10 and that is why we need you.
That is right. We will be there on 11/2/10 and we need you back here on 10/2/10 on October 2nd for the "One Nation" rally that Reverend Sharpton and Mark Morial and National Council of La Raza and the U.S. Student's Association and clergy across this country are helping us to organize.
It is time to make sure that our country, when they turn on the TV, sees itself reflected back, sees the hope reflected back, sees the unity reflected back and the urgency to put our country back to work and pull our country back together.
WHITFIELD: All right, NAACP's Ben Jealous there. And after this rally -- at this "Reclaiming the Dream" rally taking place in Dunbar High School in northeast Washington, they will be marching towards downtown where they will end up at the sight of the Martin Luther King statue and memorial that at one point will be completely erected.
All right, let's now turn to our legal guys. We've got a lot of interesting legal cases to turn to, including Tiger Woods/Elin Nordegren divorce settlement. We'll have that straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: All right lots more of legal cases to entertain and we're going to be entertained by Avery Friedman and Richard Herman, who are back, our legal minds who kind of sink their teeth in this -- and their claws.
Let's begin with the Tiger Woods and Elin divorce settlement, $100 million reportedly, but what comes with this settlement are other agreements to, A, not talk about it publically, right, not be able to profit, write a book about it, et cetera.
Richard, what else would be in an agreement between these two?
HERMAN: Aw, Fred, she got $100 million. I mean, come on, $100 million. I don't know, what else could be in there? I'm surprised she was able to do that "People" story. I don't know how she did that.
WHITFIELD: Because apparently she just spoke about her emotions, she didn't talk about his emotions, she didn't talk about other women et cetera, but I believe that -- those were the parameters.
HERMAN: For $100 million, she couldn't have kept those to herself?
FRIEDMAN: Some parameters.
HERMAN: I mean, I don't -- maybe $200 million if she kept those to herself. It's ridiculous. The whole thing is ridiculous. It's just preposterous.
FRIEDMAN: Well, no.
WHITFIELD Do you see it as ridiculous too, Avery? I mean, even in this agreement apparently, it talks about the children and who they could potentially be exposed to. And apparently the agreement says these children could not be exposed to another woman in Tiger Woods' life unless we were to remarry.
FRIEDMAN: Well, that is right. I mean, I don't think it's ridiculous. This a story of a purely innocent wife who suffered greatly. A hundred million dollars, when you look at Michael Jordan and some of the other cases, it isn't really all that out of line.
The only surprising thing to me, honestly, is there is a gag, there is a limitation, but 19 straight hours including "People" and even --
WHITFIELD: That's a lot of emotion to talk about.
FRIEDMAN: An awful lot of emotion to talk about, exactly right. And frankly, it sounds just --
WHITFIELD: They should have billed her. Right? I'm kidding, kidding, kidding, kidding.
HERMAN: That provision is not enforceable that he can't bring them around other people. That's not enforceable by any courts.
WHITFIELD: It's not?
FRIEDMAN: I'm not sure. I don't agree with that.
HERMAN: Oh please, oh come on. It is completely against public policy.
FRIEDMAN: I -- I don't agree.
WHITFIELD: OK, well let's talk about another divorce case in the making. We're talking about Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie McCourt. They are equal owners of the L.A. Dodgers, but now they're splitsville, so who gets to walk away with ownership of the team? How in the world do you reconcile this one, Avery?
FRIEDMAN: Well , actually, let me make it real simple. Frank says to Jamie, look, we bought the Dodgers in 2004, here is millions of dollars, all seven of our homes, even split. She goes, yes and then she says, you know what? I have a law degree, I got my business degree from MIT, but I really didn't quite understand what you meant, therefore it is now heading to court.
What could result is they bought it for $430 million, it's easily doubled that easy double that, it may actually force an issue, unless these guys get their act together, of selling the Dodgers. Unbelievable.
WHITFIELD: So, Richard, would it ever boil it down to -- wait a minute -- Jamie could say, you know what, I did more to manage, to lead this team, Frank could argue no, I did, I gave more direction? Could have come down to kind of documenting who was the bigger owner in this, you know arrangement? HERMAN: No. It comes down to this, Fred, even though California is a community property state, which means all marital property gets split 50/50, parties are able to contract and are able to agree to divvy up certain properties that won't be community property for tax purposes or state purposes.
Here what he's claiming is she agreed to put ownership, the title ownership of the Dodgers in his name. So he was the 100 percent owner, not her.
WHITFIELD: Yes, that was the mistake.
HERMAN: Now she's claiming, I didn't know what I did. I didn't mean that. I never would have given up my right to the Dodgers.
FRIEDMAN: Yes, sure. Terrible argument.
HERMAN: So that's going to be the issue for the court.
WHITFIELD: Wow. All right --
FRIEDMAN: I don't think so.
WHITFIELD: Moral of the story, you know, both put your names on it if you both want to be able to claim it in the end. But of course, it's still underway, but I'm listening to both your arguing points here and they're both good and sound.
HERMAN: He has witnesses, he's got witnesses who will show -- they left Brooklyn. Who cares anyway, Fred, about the Dodgers, really? Who cares, they left Brooklyn.
FRIEDMAN: Aw, look at these New York guys. We can never get over it.
WHITFIELD: I know, it's all about New York.
All right, Richard, Avery, thanks so much. Good to see you guys. Thank you for rolling with it, cause I know we've had a very tight hour here and you all are great at going with the flow with us. I like it.
FRIEDMAN: It's a wild one.
HERMAN: OK, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Just rolling that dice in Vegas, right, Richard?
HERMAN: Yes, no dice.
WHITFIELD: OK, no dice. OK, good. All right, you all have a great one.
And, of course, we will be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories right now.
We are closely monitoring a trio of tropical weather systems in the Atlantic Ocean. Here's the latest radar, take a look. Hurricane Danielle weakened down to a category two hurricane, Tropical Storm Earl right behind it and expected to intensify, and then a third tropical wave off the African coast. If it strengthens, it could become Tropical Storm Fiona.
Five years ago this weekend, Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast killing more than 1,700 people and damaging tens of thousands of homes and businesses. All weekend long we'll be revisiting places and people that we encountered in those terrifying, confusing days after the storm.
Guards at Folsom State Prison in California say they have restored order after a riot involving an estimated 200 inmates. It is still unclear what caused the melee last night. Seven prisoners were hurt, we're told none of the prison staff was injured.
And I will see you again at the 2:00 Eastern hour for more NEWSROOM, and we'll be talking to a guest that says you should get financially naked with your partner, just lay it all out there and reveal your financial secrets.
And in the 3:00 p.m. Eastern hour, we'll be talking to Kathleen Koch, a former CNN correspondent. She'll be reflecting on Mississippi's remarkable recovery from Katrina's destruction. That along with her book that she writes about.
Meantime, "YOUR $$$$$" starts right now.