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New Orleans Hospital Murders?; New York Transit Worker Strike Devastates Local Businesses; Navy Reservist Murdered After Returning Home

Aired December 21, 2005 - 22:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, a CNN exclusive -- from an act of God, to playing God, accusations of intentional killings in the wake of Katrina, as one doctor is worried a colleague may have done the unthinkable.


ANNOUNCER: In the chaotic wake of Hurricane Katrina, accusations of killings of patients at Memorial Hospital. Tonight, the investigation continues, with shocking new details. Was it a final act of desperation? What really happened and why?

You are looking at a sucker-punch, a giant brought to its knees -- day two of the New York transit strike -- the economic impact, staggering, already, hundreds of millions of dollars loss. No one can escape the pain.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The people that get hurt the most are those that can least afford it. And, if they don't get paid, they can't eat.

ANNOUNCER: What really happens when a city is shut down?

And a Navy man home from the Middle East, shot in cold blood. Police say it was his wife, with the help of her teenage lover. Tonight, he survived the Middle East, but not the homecoming.



Live from the CNN studios in New York, tonight, filling in for Anderson, John King.

J. KING: We will get to the exclusive New Orleans story shortly. But, first, here's a look at what else is making news at this moment.

Baghdad: As his trial resumed Wednesday, Saddam Hussein claimed he has been tortured by Americans and been beaten -- quote -- "everywhere on my body." The chief prosecutor, though, says he visited the defendants in prison and saw no signs of torture. The U.S. State Department says it has no evidence to substantiate Hussein's claim.

Miami: Investigators say they have found evidence of metal fatigue in the aluminum wing in that seaplane involved in Monday's fatal accident. The plane's owner says it has voluntarily grounded its remaining fleet of similar planes. All 20 persons on board died in the crash.

Washington: Republicans are joyous tonight, after Vice President Dick Cheney broke a Senate tie and voted to reduce spending by over $39 billion. Medicaid, Medicare and student loans will take a hit. And the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, says the cuts come at the expense of middle-class Americans.

Two New Orleans police officers were fired Wednesday for their roles in the videotaped beating of a 64-year-old man while he was being arrested in the French Quarter back in October. Robert Evangelist and Lance Schilling were seen on videotaping striking Robert Davis during that arrest. A third officer, Stuart Smith, was suspended without pay. An attorney for the police says the department rushed those firings.

We begin now with new details, new allegations in CNN's continuing investigation into whether medical professionals may have resorted to euthanasia at a New Orleans hospital in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

If you recall, just after the storm, there were hundreds of deaths at hospitals and nursing homes. All of these are being investigated by Louisiana authorities. Among those, one investigation has focused on allegations patients were intentionally killed at Memorial Hospital. And now CNN has learned more than one medical professional is under scrutiny as a possible person of interest in that investigation.

Drew Griffin has the exclusive report.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Memorial Hospital had been a storm refuge for up to 2,000 people. Patients, staff and their families rode out the storm inside.

But, by Thursday, four days after Katrina, despair was setting in. The hospital was surrounded by floodwater. There was no power, no water. And the heat was stifling. Nurses had to fan patients by hand. And, outside the hospital windows, nurses tell CNN they saw looters breaking into this credit union.

Up on the seventh floor, Angela McManus was with her critically ill mother. Thursday, she noticed a change, too. Nurses, she says, were now discussing, for the first time, which patients would have to stay behind.

ANGELA MCMANUS, MOTHER DIED AT MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: I mean, these were grown men that were buckling down to their knees, because they were like, they couldn't believe that FEMA was making them stay there and watch the people die. They had decided not to evacuate the DNR patients.

GRIFFIN (on camera): That's when you heard for the first time...


GRIFFIN: ... your mom was not going to get out.

MCMANUS: The first time.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Angela McManus's had a DNR, a do-not- resuscitate order, but was alert. Her daughter says Wilda (ph) McManus did not make it out. She wants to believe her mother died peacefully from her illness, but now doesn't know.

On her death certificate, it lists the first cause of death merely as hurricane-related.

MCMANUS: I think she died from the infection. I don't know. I really don't know. And, you know, hearing -- this doctor was saying about euthanasia -- euthanasia at the hospital, I just don't know where to go.

GRIFFIN: The Louisiana Attorney General's Office is looking into what did happen to the patients at Memorial Hospital. Attorney General Charles Foti has told CNN that allegations of possible euthanasia there are -- quote -- "credible and worth investigating" -- end quote -- but that is all he will say.

While Foti will not provide any details of his investigation, a source familiar with it who did not want to be identified, told CNN that more than one person is being actively looked at as a possible person of interest for crimes related to euthanasia there.

Dr. Bryant King, who has since left Memorial, was working as a contract physician at the hospital in the days after Katrina. This is what he saw in the triage area Thursday, September 1.

DR. BRYANT KING, FORMER CONTRACT PHYSICIAN AT MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: ... and realized, there were no more fanners; there were no more nurses admins -- checking blood sugars or blood pressures. They were all pushed out.

And then there were -- there were people standing at the -- the -- the ramp at the Claire (ph) garage. There were people standing over by where the morgue were -- the chapel that we were using as the morgue. There were people standing at the entranceway to where the -- the -- the emergency room led up to the second-floor area.

So, it was kind of just being blocked off. And that didn't make sense to me. It didn't make sense why would we stop what we had been doing, especially given the fact that we are evacuating patients.

GRIFFIN: Dr. King said another hospital administrator asked if he and two other remaining doctors should pray. King says, one of those doctors, Dr. Anna Pou, had a handful of syringes.

B. J. KING: This is on the second floor in the lobby. This -- and across that walkway, there's a group of patients. And Anna is standing over there with a handful of syringes.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Dr. Anna Pou.

B. J. KING: Talking to a patient. And the -- the words that I heard her say were, "I'm going to give you something to make you feel better."

And she had a handful of syringes. I don't -- and that was strange on a lot of -- on a lot of different levels. For one, we don't give medications. The nurses give medications. We almost never give medications ourselves, unless it's something critical. It's in the middle of a code or -- even in the middle of a code, the nurses give medications.

Nobody -- nobody walks around with a handful of syringes and goes and gives the same thing to each patient. That -- that's just not how we do it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Dr. King had no way of knowing what was in those syringes. He left the hospital. He says he personally did not witness any acts of euthanasia.

Right after evacuating Memorial Hospital, Dr. Anna Pou had this to say to a Baton Rouge television station.

DR. ANNA POU, MEMORIAL HOSPITAL PHYSICIAN: There were some patients there that -- who were critically ill, and, regardless of the storm, were -- had the orders of, do not resuscitate, in other words, that if they died, to allow them to die naturally and not to use any heroic methods to resuscitate them.

We all did everything within our power to give the best treatment that we could to the patients in the hospital, to make them comfortable.

GRIFFIN: Dr. Pou talked to CNN in several phone calls in the days after the evacuation. She would not comment on the euthanasia allegations and has since hired an attorney.

Dr. Pou's attorney, Rick Simmons (ph), sent this statement to CNN on behalf of his client.

It reads: "The physicians and staff responsible for the care of patients, many of whom were gravely ill, faced loss of generator power, the absence of routine medical equipment to sustain life, lack of water and sanitation facilities, extreme heat, in excess of 100 degrees, all occurring," says the statement, "in an environment of deteriorating security, apparent social unrest, and the absence of governmental authority. Dr. Pou and other medical personnel," it reads, "at Memorial Hospital worked tirelessly for five days to save and evacuate patients, none of whom were abandoned. We feel confident that the facts will reveal heroic efforts by the physicians and the staff in a desperate situation."


GRIFFIN: How many deaths might be involved is still under investigation. And no charges have been filed.

There are two companies involved with patient care at Memorial Hospital. Tenet Healthcare runs the hospital. LifeCare of New Orleans leases space to care for long-term patients on the seventh floor. Both companies have declined to be interviewed, citing the ongoing investigation. But both say their employees acted heroically under difficult conditions.

And, John, they both say they're cooperating with the attorney general's investigation.

J. KING: Well, Drew, take us inside that investigation. It is highly emotional, incredibly sensitive. What, specifically, are the investigators looking for as they analyze the victims?

GRIFFIN: Well, 73 people have been sent subpoenas. They are being investigated.

In the meantime, we have learned the attorney general's office has sent tissue samples from the bodies recovered inside Memorial to a private lab for testing. What are they testing for? The Orleans Parish coroner, Frank Minyard, confirms to CNN, they are looking for, among other things, morphine in excessive amounts. That painkiller, in large doses, can kill. That is what they're looking for.


J. KING: Drew Griffin, more remarkable work on a very difficult story. Thank you, Drew.

The millions of New Yorkers who are being left to their own devices on the second day of the city's first transit strike in 25 years aren't just commuters, not just employees struggling to make it to work and then back home. They are also shoppers, customers, the life's blood of a place that is as much devoted to big business, both big-time, and mom-and-pop shops.

And, so, on the week before Christmas, a transit strike is the last thing New York needs.

CNN's Adaora Udoji reports.


MARTY SHAPIRO, TRIBECA GRILL: In one word, it is devastating.

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marty Shapiro's devastating feeling is blasting through businesses all over New York City, not just at upscale restaurant Tribeca Grill, co-owned by actor Robert De Niro.

The transit strike is like a plague, keeping their regular customers and the tourists away, not to mention preventing their employees from getting to work. How did the sous-chef get in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walking. SHAPIRO: Crippling. You know, this is the busiest time of year. December is when most restaurants make most of their money.

UDOJI: Stores are also feeling the brunt of the strike. Fifth Avenue is one of the most expensive and famous streets in the world. It's busy, but not as busy as store owners hoped it would be during this all-important pre-holiday week. Analysts predict the luxury icon Tiffany stands to lose a bundle.

Some smaller businesses have been forced to hang a shingle announcing limited hours. Hotels are facing unheard-of cancellations. And they, like restaurants, are taking hits as high-rolling Wall Street bankers and others cancel expensive holiday parties.

SHAPIRO: I would say we probably lost, you know, 80 percent of our business.

UDOJI: This cleaners has seen a 50 percent drop, because the clothes party-goers would have worn are still in their closets.

PETER LEE, GREEN CLEANERS: And I don't think -- it's hard to make up. How can you make that up, you know? It's -- done is done.

UDOJI: Businesses stand to lose anywhere from $200 million to $400 million a day, according to many estimates, huge losses at time of expected big profits. Marty Shapiro says the show will go on.

SHAPIRO: Trying to -- you know, try and make the best of a bad situation.

UDOJI: That means, right now, part of his job description is helping his employees get to work and get home, so the roasted red snapper will be served to whomever shows up.


UDOJI: And the weather is not helping at all. There have been below-freezing temperatures all week, of course, keeping people inside.

And, John, just another really quick note. We are actually at Penn Station, which is a major hub, and also home to Madison Square Garden. And there are hundreds of businesses around here. And we spoke to some business owners who have said, essentially, the Garden has helped insulate them from the strike, because it draws in crowds. Tonight, it was the Knicks playing San Antonio.

And, sadly, for all of those Knicks fans who braved the strike and the weather, their team lost big.


J. KING: OK, Adaora, we are going to put you on the spot, as we did last night. Day three on the horizon -- any end in sight?

UDOJI: Oh, I wish I had a crystal ball. What we -- what I can say is that the union leader, Roger Toussaint, came out today and said that they had been meeting with state mediators, who are trying to find common ground between the two sides, and decide whether or not they're at an impasse, and, if they are at an impasse, whether there should be suggested binded -- binding arbitration, which the union has said they're not interested in.

So, it's very hard to tell. Still a lot of rhetoric from both sides.


J. KING: Adaora Udoji, thank you very much.

And still to come tonight on 360, an escape from prison of a man awaiting trial on not just one, but a long series of rape charges. How can such a thing happen?

And a Navy reservist, the wife and the boyfriend -- a North Carolina love triangle -- triangle -- turned deadly.

Tonight on 360.


J. KING: Tonight, the desperate search for an accused rapist. Police say his victims include children as young as 11. And after a brazen jail cell escape in Miami, authorities fear this alleged predator may strike again.

Here's CNN's Chris King.


CHRISTOPHER KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this moment, a massive manhunt for the man Miami police call the Shenandoah rapist, Reynaldo Elias Rapalo.

Last night, Rapalo escaped from his jail in a maximum-security wing of a county jail just outside Miami. Police say the five foot- four Rapalo tied together bed sheets and repelled to the ground, after crawling through an air duct to get outside.

Rapalo was facing charges for raping seven girls and women, ages 11 to 79, from over a period of months, starting three years ago in Miami's Shenandoah community. He was awaiting trial, scheduled for February, when he made his break.

VICTORIA SHAW, RESIDENT OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: That should not be happening. I mean, I'm absolutely shocked. What -- what are these people doing? Where are they? I mean, I'm appalled.

C. KING: Police believe he is armed with a handgun.

Dade County Prosecutor Katherine Fernandez-Rundle is outraged.

KATHERINE FERNANDEZ-RUNDLE, MIAMI-DADE STATE ATTORNEY: We're all so angry. This is a person that avoided the police and justice, did not want to face his victims, did not want to be held accountable for his vicious and vile crimes.

C. KING: Police are combing the streets, handing out fliers, and watching airports and bus terminals. Outside the homes of Rapalo's alleged victims, they have also posted officers.

Chief John Timoney says someone must be helping Rapalo.

JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE CHIEF: I am convinced -- I am convinced at least a person, and probably persons, know where he is and what he's up to.

C. KING: At a news conference, Corrections Chief Charles McRay was asked, how could a suspect escape a maximum-security facility?

CHARLES MCRAY, MIAMI-DADE CORRECTION DEPARTMENT CHIEF: Believe me, we are looking at every avenue of how we can fix this problem. This inmate was able to manipulate the system and was able to actually escape. But it's not as simple as just somebody tying sheets and climbing down the building.

C. KING: McRay says a guard stands watch over the 48 prisoners in the wing where Rapalo was held. But even though it's supposed to be maximum security, the cells in this wing are dormitory style, with no bars. So, now, in Shenandoah, the rapist's hunting grounds, people are worried.

CONNIE ESCALLON, RESIDENT OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: It's very difficult to walk around your own neighborhood. It's very unsettling.

C. KING: Christopher King, CNN, Miami.


J. KING: And Erica Hill joins us now with some of the other stories we are following tonight. Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNNHN ANCHOR: Hey, John. Good to see you. You know, no one doubts Hurricane Katrina did a number on the Gulf Coast, but researchers are now saying they got Katrina's number wrong. The National Hurricane Center reports Katrina was a Category 3 storm, not a Category 4, when it made landfall in August. In New Orleans, the levees were supposedly built to withstand a Category 3 storm.

In Los Angeles, police decided a blaze better than a blast in this case. In an industrial building near the San Diego freeway, they discovered 70 sticks of dynamite. So, after evacuating the area and briefly shutting down the freeway, the LAPD burned the dynamite because it was just too old to be safely removed without detonating.

And it turns out not just traditional here, but practical -- in a nutshell, that's how Pope Benedict explained the red hat trimmed with white fur that he wore during his weekly attendance audience at the Vatican today. The 78-year-old pontiff had a cold last week. And the camauro, which I'm probably mispronouncing, was last seen on a pope in the early 1960s, but it is not a nod to Santa Claus and the Christmas season. It's actually a medieval head warmer, in case you were wondering.

And just who were all those people walking around Australia during the last ice age? If only I had the answer, I would be a very rich woman. Archaeologists working in the Outback have found 457 footprints that date back some 19,000 to 23,000 years. Kind of cool.

J. KING: Kind of cool. Kind of old.

Erica Hill...


HILL: A little old, yes.


J. KING: Erica Hill, thank you very much.

A Navy reservist returns home, only to be shot dead. Police say he was the victim of a fatal attraction between his wife and her teenage lover -- the story coming up.

This is 360.


J. KING: A crime of passion, an act of murder -- a Navy reservist is dead, and his wife and her teenage lover stand accused of the crime. 360 next.


J. KING: Welcome back. This next story comes right out of the too-bizarre-to-be-believed file. But try telling that to police in Raleigh, North Carolina. That's where a man was murdered this weekend. The suspects are his wife and two teenage boys, one of whom was allegedly her lover -- the victim, a man home from Christmas, after serving his country in the MidEast for almost a year.

We must warn our viewers, the audiotapes you're about to hear may be disturbing to some.

CNN's Mary Snow reports.



MONIQUE BERKLEY, WIFE OF NAVY RESERVIST PAUL BERKLEY: I have been shot. And my husband, he's...


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-six-year-old Monique Berkley made a frantic call to 911 for help early Sunday.


911 DISPATCHER: Who is that I hear in the background?

BERKLEY: My husband.

911 DISPATCHER: What is he -- has he been shot?


911 DISPATCHER: Who shot him?

BERKLEY: I don't know.


SNOW: Police now believe she did know, and they've released the 911 tapes. Monique's husband, 46-year-old Navy Reservist Paul Berkley, had just returned home to North Carolina after an eight-month tour of duty in Bahrain.

The day before he was murdered, an unsuspecting Berkley wrote about the comforts of home on his blog: "I have been home a few days now, shopping and hanging out with the family."

But family life appeared to have changed while he was away. His young wife, Monique, had allegedly become romantically involved with 18-year-old Andrew Canty. Andrew had a friend, 18-year-old Latwon Johnson.

All three have been charged with murder. They made a brief appearance in court and were appointed public defense lawyers, who had no comment on the case. Also tight-lipped are police from Raleigh, North Carolina, who responded to Monique Berkley's call early Sunday morning from a park, where she said someone fired on her and her husband.


911 DISPATCHER: Did you see them?

BERKLEY: No. There was -- there was two people, though.

911 DISPATCHER: There was two people.

How old are you?

BERKLEY: I'm 26.


SNOW: The call went on for several minutes, until police finally found the husband and wife.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which way did they go? Are they still near here?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did they go?

BERKLEY: No. I think they left. They're not here.


BERKLEY: Uh-huh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you shot? Where are you shot at?

BERKLEY: The shoulder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shoulder. All right. Hold tight.


SNOW: Police say Paul Berkley was shot in the head and died about 15 hours later. Monique was shot in the shoulder and taken to the hospital. Exactly what happened is still unknown.

Police would not comment on whether Paul Berkley was conscious and speaking before he died. By Sunday afternoon, police started putting together more of the story, arresting the two teens. And, a day later, Monique Berkley was taken from the hospital and charged. She's been held without bail.

As for Paul Berkley, the Navy will hold a memorial service in Bahrain.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


J. KING: Washington is once again buzzing about the power and influence of Dick Cheney. Is the vice president a driving force behind the president's domestic spying program?

Also ahead, New Orleans, a shrinking city -- what should be rebuilt and what should be let go for good? A battle between residents and city hall.

Across America and around the world, this is 360.


J. KING: Stepping back into the ring, Vice President Dick Cheney, an always interesting contender who has been laying low for a while, but not anymore -- that's coming up.

First, here's a look at what's happening at this moment. Saddam Hussein was back in court in Baghdad today, this time making the claim, in a long speech, that he and all his co-defendants had been beaten by their American captors. "We were tortured," Saddam said, "every one of us." A spokesperson for the American Embassy called the charge bogus.

New Yorkers continue to be troopers this evening, trooping everywhere on day two of a strike that has left them without subways or buses. The union behind the strike went to court today to fight the $1-million-a-day fine it has been ordered to pay.

And in Washington today, the president signed into law an $8 billion tax incentive package to help rebuild the hurricane- devastated Gulf Coast. Mr. Bush also pledged to ensure that local workers will be trained to get the reconstruction work being funded.

A federal judge today resigned without explanation from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a panel that reviews government requests to secretly gather intelligence here in the United States. James Robertson leaves five months short of his term with the court whose members are appointed by the chief justice of the United States.

Tonight, the new New Orleans. Nearly four months after Katrina, the city is still slowly emerging from the disaster. The rebuilding process could take years to complete, but some changes may last forever, including the possibility of a much smaller Big Easy.


J. KING (voice-over): Jean Anderson (ph) inherited this house from her mother, was raised here with two brothers, and isn't about to let the mayor or anyone else tell her she can't rebuild.

JEAN ANDERSON, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: I'm not going to take your home, so don't try to take mine. That's not fair, and that's not right.

J. KING: 1928 Tupelo Street is in the devastated lower Ninth Ward, ground zero first for Katrina's wrath, and now for the emotional debate over whether some New Orleans neighborhoods should be bulldozed, deemed too risky to rebuild.

The leading proposal to a city task force would make parkland -- a hurricane-flooding buffer zone -- out of big chunks of the lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans East, and the Gentilly neighborhood.

The mayor calls it just a starting point. And efforts at compromise accelerated after this city council hearing last week at which the mayor was accused of breaking his promise to rebuild all of New Orleans and at which Harvey Bender (ph) and other African-American residents angrily suggested rich developers were being allowed to draw the post-hurricane maps.

HARVEY BENDER, NEW ORLEANDS RESIDENT: All these people out here want to rebuild. You want to take our land. The council's not going to tell you. I'm going to tell you: That's not going to happen.

J. KING: Anderson is equally emphatic.

MORRIS: Because we're going to do what we have to do to stay here. And that's just the way that is. This is where we live.

J. KING (on-screen): Jean Anderson's house is about a half-mile that way. The blocks in between, still littered with depressing reminders of Katrina's devastation. That destruction alone is proof to some that no one should ever be allowed to return here.

But the residents say this is their home, that they have a right to return, even those who lived this close to the canal and the levee that gave way.

(voice-over): New Orleans attorney Walter LeJer (ph) is a member of the state's post-Katrina redevelopment commission and says it would be best, at least initially, to leave some areas of New Orleans vulnerable to major hurricanes undeveloped.

WALTER LEJER, NEW ORLEANS ATTORNEY: In six or seven months, we'll be facing a hurricane season again. Do you really want to rebuild your home now, with no real assurance that the levees that the federal government provided to us, you know, over the years will be any stronger now?

J. KING: City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis says the faster residents return home, the harder it will be to advance any plan that wipes away neighborhoods.

Water and gas are back here, but there is no electricity and no schools. Vicki Davenport (ph) returned this day to retrieve a few Christmas decorations.

(on-screen): Forcing yourself to be in the spirit or...

VICKI DAVENPORT, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: No, not this year. No. I think I need it. I think, deep down in my heart, I just need to be happy.

J. KING (voice-over): Just talk of bulldozing, she says, makes it harder to get new insurance.

DAVENPORT: We are all right now in just a holding pattern. We can't do anything until some decisions are made, and they need to be made quick.

J. KING: Davenport worries the mayor is listening less to city residents and more to the outside consultants who want her house razed, and she suspects that's one of the reasons the power is still out.


J. KING: Two days after a seaplane's deadly descent that killed 20 people, crews pulled one of the plane's wings from the waters off Miami Beach. Investigators say the main support beam connecting the wing to the fuselage had cracks in it. Now, the plane's operator, Chalk's Ocean Airways, is voluntarily grounding its fleet for inspection.

To assess the likelihood for survival, here's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To assess the likelihood of survival in these types of accidents, we brought in Robert Francis, a former vice chairman for the National Transportation Safety Board, and asked him to review two different crashes with very different results.

First, the Miami Beach crash, where the wing fell off.

(on-screen): Is it the angle of the crash, the speed, or both that is causing the fatality?

ROBERT FRANCIS, FORMER VICE-CHAIRMAN, NTSB: Well, it's both. I mean, if you had been at that speed and the angle had been flat, maybe it would be survivable. But the combination of totally out of control airplane and the crash is not survivable.

But the real issue is that the plane was totally out of control and went, you know, almost straight into the water. And that's, you know -- aircraft are built strong, but they're not built that strong.

TODD (voice-over): We also reviewed this November 1996 crash in the Indian Ocean with at least 48 survivors. The Ethiopian Airlines pilots decided to ditch the hijacked plane into the sea after it ran out of fuel to save lives.

(on-screen): Why do people survive this one?

FRANCIS: You'll see the difference here. The aircraft has come in -- it's under control until the very end there. And it loses a lot of momentum. And more control equals more survivability.

TODD (voice-over): Francis also said where you sit on a plane makes a difference.

FRANCIS: They were near an emergency exit. If, when the aircraft broke up -- and this happens quite frequently when the aircraft breaks up -- if you're near the break, you're more likely to get out than if you're not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Individual life vests are located underneath each passenger's seat.

TODD: And on using the plane's flotation devices, Francis says they can hinder your chance of escape if inflated inside the aircraft.

FRANCIS: One accident where they landed in the water, and the problem was that a life raft was inflated and blocked the door so that passengers couldn't get out. TODD: The advice from Francis, if you're in a plane about to be ditched in the water, do what the flight attendants tell you to do.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


J. KING: And now to Washington. Call it the reemergence of Dick Cheney. For much of 2005, the vice president has been more seen than heard. Yet, in the past 24 hours, he has made international headlines with his no-apologies defense of President Bush's secret domestic spying program.

Mr. Cheney credits the president's use of executive power for perhaps preventing a repeat of 9/11, but it turns out that it may be Cheney himself who is the force behind the president's actions.

CNN's White House correspondent Dana Bash reports.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He raced back from the MidEast to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The yeas are 50. The nays are 50. The Senate, being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the motion...

BASH: It is a unique power the Constitution gives the vice president, but not the constitutional power that Mr. Cheney has made his personal mission to defend and expand: the presidency.

The domestic spying controversy is the latest test case. In an interview with CNN, while touring an earthquake recovery site in Pakistan, the vice president unapologetically defended the executive order allowing secret wiretapping without congressional or court approval.

CHENEY: Article II, that specifically indicates, spells out, the president's the commander-in-chief. And he is sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, but defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

BASH: His zeal for the cause dates back to mid-1970s, when he was President Ford's chief of staff. After Watergate and Vietnam, Congress was enacting the War Powers Act and other measures to curb presidential prerogatives. Dick Cheney thought it went too far and is determined to reverse it now that he is vice president, arguing the president should be unimpaired in his duties as commander in chief and criticizing attempts to get White House records from his Energy Task Force sought by Congress in 2001 and later by the 9/11 Commission, as efforts to erode the power of the presidency.

He explained it this way in a 2002 interview with John King.

CHENEY: I've been in town now for, off and on, for 34 years. And during that period of time, there's been a constant steady erosion of the prerogatives and the power of the Oval Office.

BASH: We asked Mr. Cheney about the NSA wiretapping case and to look beyond the Bush presidency.

(on-screen): Does it concern you that maybe somebody, if you met, you wouldn't even necessarily trust with that kind of power?

CHENEY: Well, the fact is: The law is the law. The Constitution's there. It's been adhered to and followed in this case.

BRUCE FEIN, FORMER ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The idea of an unimpaired or omnipotent president is a little frightening prospect.

BASH (voice-over): Bruce Fein actually worked with then- Congressman Cheney on a Republican Iran-Contra report that argued for robust presidential powers, but now Fein calls Mr. Cheney's goals dangerous.

FEIN: What the vice president's basically saying is, no, the founding fathers got it wrong, that, in times of warfare, we just need one individual -- and now it's going to be permanent, since we're going to be in a state of fighting terrorism for our lifetimes and beyond.

BASH: That's why a handle of Republican senators are helping to block the renewal of the Patriot Act, looking to pull back some broad surveillance and other post-9/11 executive powers. The unflappable, critics say, inflexible vice president voices little patience for such arguments, defending a more powerful presidency regardless of the politics. It is, he says, a matter of principle. It is vintage Cheney.


J. KING: Dana Bash joins us now from Washington. Dana, the vice president can be a tough interview. There are some things he doesn't like to talk about, some things he simply refuses to talk about. But on this issue, expanding presidential power, he likes to talk about it.

BASH: You know, you're exactly right, John. You can tell when it's the former, not the latter. Most times, you're right, it is the former.

But on this particular issue, both in the interview that I had with him and, frankly, more expansively in the comfort of his own cabin aboard Air Force Two, it was very clear he wanted to talk about this. He is not shy and, frankly, not embarrassed about the fact that this is something that absolutely drives him and, as I mentioned, really has for about three decades.

Expanding presidential power is absolutely crucial and one of the top priorities for him. And when I use the word embarrass, I use that because it is very politically controversial, very, especially now with this NSA story out there. But he's unabashed about it. He's still promoting it, very much so. J. KING: And, Dana, one would think a defeat for the president tonight in the Senate, an agreement to extend the Patriot Act, those post-9/11 powers, for six months. But the president has been adamant he didn't want an extension; he wants a renewal.

BASH: Absolutely. And he's been out there -- even today, the president got out there to really push for it.

But, you know, what we've been seeing is a game of chicken here, an intense game of chicken, because the White House and the Republican leadership, as I mentioned, they didn't want these short-term extensions.

Why? Because they wanted to force the hand of those opposing it. They wanted to make it so that they had no choice but to actually switch sides. There were four Republicans and all of the Democrats who have been holding off on this.

But it's 10 days away from some of the key provisions expiring. It got way too close for comfort, so Democrats, who had wanted a three-month extension, got together with the White House and Republicans on the Hill. They said, OK, fine, we'll go for a six months.

Now, tonight, as you mentioned, the White House says they're pleased, but this is not an outcome that they wanted at all. As a matter of fact, one senior official I talked to tonight said, I would predict that, six months from now, there will be another extension, because there won't be any movement. They really wanted to end this now, but it didn't happen.

J. KING: Dana Bash for us tonight in Washington after a long trip home from the Middle East. Thank you, Dana, very much.

BASH: Thank you.

J. KING: Sometimes even the worst luck can lead to something positive and positively unexpected. Just ahead, a boy fighting to fend off illness, a family without a home due to Katrina, and a group of strangers determined to help.

At the other end of the spectrum, marriages made in Hollywood. Famous twosomes who turn out to be much more concerned with looking out for number one. Celebrities and their pre-nups: What will they think of next? Ahead on 360.


J. KING: As much as Hurricane Katrina has devastated communities and disrupted lives, it's also created connections between people who otherwise might never have crossed paths. After the storm hit, we told the story of a young Louisiana boy.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen brings us up-to-date.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When we first told the story of Tony Nata, a 6-year-old from Slidell, Louisiana, who's battling leukemia, we had no idea what an impact it would have on this man, Jeff Parness, who lives more than a thousand miles away in New York City.

JEFF PARNESS, NEWYORKSAYSTHANKYOU.ORG: We saw a wonderful story on CNN about the family. My wife and I watched the video, and we just kind of looked at each other and said, how can we not do something to help?

COHEN: Tony has a 50/50 chance of survival.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take a big breath. You have a chocolate face, man.

COHEN: He needs more chemo, plus radiation, and a bone marrow transplant. He's getting the medical attention he needs...


COHEN: ... but he's doing it without a home. Hurricane Katrina devastated Slidell, including Tony's house and his fishing deck. Fishing is Tony's passion. And, at this point, it's the only sport he can do. But now, Tony's living in a FEMA trailer far away from his fishing spot.

That's where Jeff Parness comes in. Jeff lost one of his best friends on September 11. To say thank you for all the kindness he and other New Yorkers received, Jeff founded They travel around the U.S. helping other devastated communities. After seeing our story...

ROBIN NATA, MOTHER: Jeff flew down with his organization and a group of guys and decided to rebuild our decks for us.

COHEN: And he didn't come alone. He brought New York City Firefighters with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to meet you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glad to meet you.

COHEN: And residents from Utica, Illinois, came, too. Jeff's group helped their community after they were hit with tornadoes.

And this couple from San Diego. Jeff's foundation rebuilt their house after it was destroyed in the wild fires of 2003. And locals here in Slidell helped, too.

PARNESS: We had Slidell Lions Club, a whole bunch of 70-year-old men who unpacked this 18-wheeler yesterday, 750 pieces of lumber.

COHEN: They all gathered one freezing cold Friday morning tearing up what was left of the old deck and laying down the new. And then, Jeff had a surprise for Tony: His fishing idol, ESPN's Jimmy Houston...


COHEN: ... best known for kissing the fish.

HOUSTON: The biggest speckled trout. Show me about how long it is. Yes.

TONY NATA, FATHER: Jimmy was great. He was a class act. Tony doesn't speak to everybody. He's in his own little world.

COHEN: In just two days, they finished the deck. Tony drove in one of the last nails and then cast his line.

J. NATA: All of my heart, from all of our hearts.

R. NATA: Yes.

J. NATA: You know, this has been special. This is...

R. NATA: To Jeff, you know, we couldn't thank you more.

J. NATA: It's powerful.

R. NATA: Yes. Yep. J. NATA: We're on our way. We're on our way back. You know, we're going to get back. That's special.

COHEN: Now, finally, Tony has his fishing spot back.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Let's go fishing!

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Slidell, Louisiana.


J. KING: In Hollywood, it may be more valuable than an Academy Awards, the pre-nup. A lot of stars have them, like the Donald and others. They used to be about money. Now they involve just about everything,

360 next.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana to Alabama, killing at least 1,300 people. But it was the devastating flooding from New Orleans to Mobile that displaced thousands of families from their homes and each other.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And where is she now?

JACKSON: Can't find her body. She gone. I hold her hand tight as I could. And she told me, you can't hold me.

ZARRELLA: That was Hardy Jackson three months ago. Now, the Biloxi native, his three children and three grandchildren, have resettled far away from the devastation in Mississippi. R&B singer Frankie Beverly purchased a home for the Jackson family near his sister's house outside Atlanta, Georgia.

JACKSON: It's America, really. And I thank him, and that's a blessing.

ZARRELLA: Despite a fresh start, Jackson is haunted by his wife's last words as Katrina's raging waters ripped her from his grasp.

JACKSON: She said, "Take care of them kids, and take care of them grandkids."

ZARRELLA: That promise to his wife of 28 years keeps him going despite the grief.

JACKSON: Just got to be strong. But it's hard. But I can do it.



J. KING: In England today, a royal wedding of sorts, for Sir Elton John. John and his long-time companion, David Furnish, entered into a civil partnership. They are one of many British gay couples who are making their union legal.

Celebrities seem to be always taking a trip down the aisle, but the only thing more popular than getting married may be getting divorce. And for Hollywood couples, the most cherished token of their union isn't always the ring; it's the pre-nup.

CNN's Randi Kaye has more.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jessica Simpson's boots are walking, all right, right out the door. So the 25-year-old famous for her barely-there Daisy Dukes has filed for divorce from husband Nick Lachey after just three years of marriage.

That's not a shock to anybody who reads the tabs, but what is surprising in this celebrity world of love 'em, leave 'em, and milk 'em dry, this newlywed, who earned $30 million last year, didn't sign a pre-nup. And celebrity attorney Scott Weston says she'll pay for that.

SCOTT WESTON, CELEBRITY ATTORNEY: She's going to be burned along the way. She's going to end up having to pay part of that money in property, probably future royalties on that money, and, in addition, some spousal support on that money.

KAYE: It's no secret when celebrities split it can be a real kick in the assets. Roseanne and Tom Arnold didn't have a pre-nup. The divorce cost her half her fortune. Celebrity attorneys estimate some 50 to 70 percent of Hollywood celebrities do sign prenuptial agreements.

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas had one. The Donald, pre-nup, pre-nup, pre-nup. Even Britney Spears reluctantly signed a pre-nup. But these days, the celebrity pre-nup is about a lot more than protecting your cash.

WESTON: We end up with people that are basically setting up their road map for what's important to them in the marriage. If you commit adultery, it's going to cost you a million dollars. This is a strong one, one that goes in a lot of celebrity agreements.

KAYE: Making a spouse pay to stray isn't the only quirky clause found in recent confidential celebrity pre-nups. Some of the most outrageous: the weight clause. One pre-nup stipulates, "If the wife's weight goes over 120, she loses 100 grand."

Some mates mandate a drug clause. One pre-nup requires random drug tests. There's even an in-laws clause. One husband is fined whenever he's rude to his wife's parents. Another forbids vacationing with the mother-in-law, ever. You're asking, will this really hold up in court?

WESTON: Well, likely, not. But better to have it in, better to have a statement about what's important to you in these agreements.

KAYE: Celebrity lawyers say what it's really about is control. And all newlyweds, even Jess and Nick, would benefit from letting their partner know where they stand upfront, just in case they don't quite make it to until death do us part.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


KING: OK. 360 next, an hour-long look at how other nations are handling the threat of terrorism, Ireland, France, Spain, Israel, and what we are doing.



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