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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Congress Criticizes Hurricane Katrina Response; Interview With Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays; Texas Police Release Report on Cheney Shooting Accident; Mind Over Body

Aired February 16, 2006 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. And thank you all for joining us.
Tonight, the final word: Who is at fault for leaving millions at the mercy of nature?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): The Katrina report, all the details of what went wrong in the response to Hurricane Katrina -- and it's even worse than you thought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House was really in a fog. Mr. Chertoff and his agency were -- were basically very detached.

ZAHN: There is blame for nearly everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had a mayor who was helping to spread rumors that simply weren't true, inciting people's panic.

ZAHN: Tonight, we go "Beyond the Headlines."

The "Eye Opener" -- standing danger, amazing police videos of deadly roadside accidents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You OK, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call 911!

ZAHN: You won't believe how quickly it happens and how awful.

And "Mysteries of the Mind" -- secrets of the Sufi -- inside a ceremony that few outsiders have ever seen. Who can stand so much pain?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, we are seeing mind-body effects that traditional medicine does not teach us.

ZAHN: And what can they teach us about the power of the mind?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So, the question tonight, what exactly went wrong during Hurricane Katrina? You have probably heard there is a scathing, brand new report from the House of Representatives, but you probably haven't heard exactly how devastating it is.

Almost everything went wrong, and it is probably a whole lot worse than you thought.

Tonight, we go "Beyond the Headlines" to ask what happened and why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): When Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines on Monday morning, August 29, no one was surprised. The Katrina report indicates that the National Weather Service had been issuing dire predictions for 56 hours before the storm hit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 28, 2005)

MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Everything has come together, and this is one of the most powerful hurricanes on record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: The report finds, "The accuracy and timeliness of National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center forecasts prevented further loss of life."

But that kind of praise is rare in the nearly 400-page report. Most of it is devastating, starting with criticism of the president: "Earlier presidential involvement might have resulted in a more effective response."

The Saturday before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, President Bush was at his ranch in Texas. He didn't return to the White House until two days after Katrina struck. Air Force One flew low over the area on the way to Washington. The president didn't visit the region until four days after the storm.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is even more harshly criticized: "Given the well-known consequences of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans, the secretary should have designated an incident of national significance no later than Saturday, two days prior to landfall."

The government has complex and complicated plans for how its agencies work together in a national emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The words that we got...

ZAHN: On the Saturday before Katrina hit, despite dire predictions from weather services, Chertoff was working from home.

The report says, even with pressure from the White House, he did not put the wheels in motion that Saturday, when Katrina was 48 hours out, or when the storm was 24 hours away, or even on the day the storm hit. It wasn't until 36 hours after Katrina made landfall and much of New Orleans was already under water.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin -- despite early warnings of Katrina's potential destruction, Nagin waited too long to order a mandatory evacuation of the city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 28, 2005)

RAY NAGIN (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: I am this morning declaring that we will be doing a mandatory evacuation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: By the time Mayor Nagin made his announcement, the National Weather Service was already predicting, the storm's impact on Louisiana would be -- quote -- "human suffering incredible by modern standards."

The report says, "Despite adequate warning, 56 hours before landfall, Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin delayed ordering a mandatory evacuation in New Orleans until 19 hours before landfall."

August 29, landfall -- the Katrina report does not pinpoint the exact cause of the levee failures around New Orleans. But they happened early. The first report of flooding was at 6:00 a.m., during the hurricane, from a breach in a levee on the Intercostal Waterway. More reports came throughout the morning, including one from a FEMA staff member who learned that a major section of the 17th Street Canal levee had collapsed.

Yet, it wasn't until the next day, when the flooding was shown on TV, that the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the levees were breached. The report goes on to say, "The readiness of FEMA's national emergency response teams was inadequate and reduced the effectiveness of the federal response."

On Tuesday, while images of New Orleans residents clinging to rooftops were being shown on TV, second Chertoff traveled to Atlanta for a conference on bird flu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 31, 2005)

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are extremely pleased with the response that every element of the federal government, all of our federal partners, have made to this terrible tragedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Secretary Chertoff finally activated the national response plan and appointed Michael Brown to lead the federal response, even though the report says Brown was not trained to take on that role.

In a CNN interview that night, Mr. Brown said he was surprised by the magnitude of the disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 31, 2005) MICHAEL BROWN, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY DIRECTOR: I must say, this storm is much, much bigger than anyone expected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supplies coming in.

ZAHN: As we all know, things began to turn around once the Army and the Coast Guard got involved in the rescue and evacuation efforts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Joining me now is a member of the committee that produced the Katrina report, Republican Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut.

Always good to see you. Welcome, sir.

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Nice to be with you.

ZAHN: So, we saw the beating that Secretary Chertoff took from Senate Republicans and Democrats. Here is what he had to say for himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHERTOFF: I am responsible for the Department of Homeland Security. And I am accountable and accept responsibility for the performance of the entire department, the bad and the good. I also have the responsibility to fix what is wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Would you like to see Secretary Chertoff resign?

SHAYS: No.

But -- but I will tell you that, during the course of our hearing, when he came before us, I think his testimony was the most stunning, because he was simply -- he was just basically totally and completely disengaged. He didn't engage himself until, really, Wednesday, as far as we're concerned.

But the reason why I'm not advocating that he step down is, with Mr. Brown, he failed to act, but we didn't have any confidence he could act after the storm to deal with it. We began to feel that Mr. Chertoff was starting to take action.

His problem was, he was disengaged in the beginning.

ZAHN: But even he conceded yesterday that, in his words, he has miles to go to be ready for this year's hurricane season. That's pretty frightening.

SHAYS: Well...

ZAHN: What -- what do you think is going to happen...

SHAYS: Well, whoever...

ZAHN: ... when the first one hits?

SHAYS: Well, whoever is the secretary has miles to go.

I just want to say that your introduction of this -- of this report is excellent. I mean, you basically said all the things I was prepared to say in this program. So, you have nailed it. Everywhere along the line, there was a breakdown.

I -- I guess what I would want to add, in the positive side, was, thank God people had the good sense in the low-lying areas to leave voluntarily, in spite of the fact they didn't have a mandatory order. And thank goodness the weather service -- I wish they had been paid more attention to. They didn't break down. They, by Saturday, had called the governors, had called the mayor, had called the White House, and said, this is a storm of biblical proportion.

ZAHN: You have called the former FEMA Director Michael Brown clueless and negligent. And, in an interview, he himself had grades to give around for other key players in the disaster.

He gave President Bush an A-minus, Michael Chertoff a C-minus, Governor Blanco a C-plus, Mayor Nagin a D.

Your thoughts?

SHAYS: Well, I -- I think we gave everyone basically an F, frankly, except the weather service, that got an A.

And I think the governor of Mississippi in particular had alerted people to get -- get out. I mean, in Mississippi, they had flooding that was 20 feet high 10 miles inland. And it is remarkable they didn't have more deaths.

But -- but, in the end, every level of government broke down.

ZAHN: And a final brief thought on how Americans should view our preparedness for any disaster, given what happened during Katrina.

SHAYS: Well, if we have a storm of biblical proportion, we will do better than the last time. We won't be disengaged. You will see better coordination. The communication will be better. But it will still be a horrible circumstance.

If it is something less than that, we probably can deal with it.

ZAHN: Congressman Christopher Shays, thank you so much for weighing in for us tonight.

SHAYS: Thank you.

ZAHN: Appreciate it.

President Bush is finally talking about Vice President Cheney's shooting accident, but have all the questions really been answered?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jason Carroll.

It is one of the leading causes of death for police officers, and it is happening right out here on roadways like this one. I will have the complete story and the compelling video -- coming up on PAULA ZAHN NOW.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So, how low is your pain threshold? You're not going to believe what some people can stand.

Yes, that light is going down that guy's throat.

First, our countdown of the top 10 most popular stories on CNN.com -- more than 19 million of you logging on today.

At number 10, France accused Iran today of secretly making nuclear weapons, echoing the tough U.S. stance on Iran's nuclear program. Iran is denying that charge.

Number nine, Egyptian officials say they have found the wreck of that ferry that sank in the Red Sea two weeks ago. More than 1,000 people were killed in that tragedy -- numbers eight and seven right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: You can't see them. They can't see you. How do you avoid a terrible accident on the side of a road? Find out what the cops want you to know. It could save your life.

Well, today, President Bush spoke out publicly for first time about the vice president's weekend hunting accident that seriously injured a friend. Here is part of what he had to say in a brief encounter with White House reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I thought his explanation yesterday was a very strong and powerful explanation. And I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave.

QUESTION: But are you satisfied with the timing?

BUSH: I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Also today, the local authorities in Texas issued their official report about the accident.

And Jonathan Freed now has more on that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five days after Vice President Cheney shot Harry Whittington at the Armstrong ranch, the chief deputy who interviewed Mr. Cheney about the incident says the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department is done with the case.

CHIEF DEPUTY GILBERTO SAN MIGUEL, KENEDY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: At this time, you know, through our investigation, it is over. No, there is going to be no criminal charges filed. This was just a mere hunting accident.

FREED: A written report by Sheriff Ramon Salinas has now been made public. The sheriff says he was at home last Saturday, when he received a call around 5:30 p.m. from an officer, Captain Charles Kirk. Kirk said he was heading to the Armstrong ranch to investigate word of a possible hunting accident there.

About 10 minutes later, the sheriff received a call from a Secret Service agent, officially informing him there had been a hunting accident and that it involved the vice president.

(on camera): That's when the sheriff's phone rang again. It was Kirk calling back, saying that he had made contact with a Border Patrol agent at a gate here at the Armstrong ranch. Kirk says the agent told him that he didn't know anything about the accident. And the sheriff told Kirk -- quote -- "It was fine" and that he would contact someone on the ranch.

(voice-over): That someone was a local constable, Ramiro Medallin (ph), an elected peace officer whose precincts includes the ranch. He also lives on the 50,000-acre property.

When Medallin (ph) called the sheriff back, he said he had talked to some eyewitnesses and all of them called it an accident. The sheriff says yet another eyewitness also told him it was an accident. And that's when the sheriff says he decided to send his chief deputy to interview Mr. Cheney, first thing the next morning, on Sunday.

The only mention of alcohol use in a police report is on Monday, when the chief deputy says he spoke to Harry Whittington in the hospital. Whittington says there was no alcohol during the hunt. When asked by reporters if the vice president was questioned about alcohol, the answer from police was not clear.

RAMON SALINAS, KENEDY COUNTY, TEXAS, SHERIFF: ... witnesses there. We talked to the witnesses.

FREED: As Sheriff Salinas closed the case, he insisted none of his people were ever denied access to the Armstrong ranch.

Jonathan Freed, CNN, Sarita, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Meanwhile, doctors are telling us tonight that Harry Whittington's condition is stable, and they are very confident he will be out of the hospital within a few days.

Do you happen to be a "Sopranos" fan? Well, a Florida widow says the hit show must be based on her family, and her late husband was a hit man. Would you argue with her?

And all sorts of things get lost at the airport. But have you seen a $20,000 wispy dog lately that looks like this?

Right now, though, 17 minutes past the hour, time to check in with Erica Hill at Headline News with this hour's top stories.

That dog can move pretty fast -- no sightings of him in Atlanta yet tonight?

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: No. We haven't seen the dog in Atlanta, but I will keep an eye on it.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: They're actually very worried about him, because he's very skinny, and...

HILL: And with the weather getting cold, too. The whippets don't have a lot of fur. So...

ZAHN: Yes.

HILL: So, hopefully...

ZAHN: Keeping our fingers crossed.

HILL: ... he will be found soon.

Paula, a possible deal could mean the Senate will not investigate a highly controversial issue. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kansas Republican Pat Roberts says he and the White House are working on a deal.

And, if it goes through, the committee won't look into the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. Now, in exchange, the law will be modified and Congress will start getting more extensive briefings.

Meantime, in a brief Supreme Court ceremony, Judge Samuel Alito -- Justice Samuel Alito, that is -- welcomed by his fellow justices. Tomorrow, Alito will attend his first court conference to decide which cases to review. Among them is a high-profile abortion case.

Some newly discovered video of Saddam Hussein with his advisers in the 1990s, and weapons of mass destruction were on the agenda. Intelligence experts, though, say nothing on the tapes changes what we know about Iraq's weapons program.

And at Madame Tussaud's wax museum in New York, it's New York Senator Hillary Clinton, or at least her brand new statue, getting treated like a future presidential candidate, Paula, her own poll and everything.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Oh, yes. And, of course, you had columnists all over that today, with strikingly different reactions to the wax figure, as you can imagine.

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: Absolutely.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. See you a little bit later on.

We have some absolutely amazing pictures, the story that could save your life. How do you keep someone from hitting someone else who is stopped by the side of the road? Well, you will get your best advice tonight from the cops who put up with this time and time again.

Plus, how much pain can you stand? It certainly won't measure up to what these religious mystics do. The question tonight is, how do they endure it?

First, though, coming in at number eight on our CNN.com countdown, a U.N. report just out today calls for the U.S. to shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and either try the more than 500 detainees or free them.

Number seven, the White House has refused Republican and Democratic lawmakers' demands to review a sale that gives a company in the united Arab Emirates control of operations of six major U.S. ports -- number five and six straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: In tonight's "Eye Opener," you would think that armed criminals -- criminals -- I'm having a tough time talking tonight -- would be the top danger for police officers. But, amazingly, routine traffic stops can be even deadlier.

And that was proven again last night, when a sheriff's deputy in Broward County, Florida, was killed during a traffic stop. A driver actually drifted into the emergency lane, striking him, for no apparent reason. And it happens a lot more often than you might think.

And you're about to see some startling police video that many officers hope will help limit the tragic results of these roadside accidents.

Here is Jason Carroll with tonight's "Eye Opener."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dashboard cameras in police cruisers dramatically capture the growing danger for officers on patrol. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy crap.

CARROLL: This officer didn't see the car coming. Neither does this officer, who is about to give a ticket when:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. Ma'am, are you OK? You OK, ma'am?

CARROLL: Safety groups say, accidents like this happen more often and are more deadly than most people realize. Police statistics show the number-one killer of officers isn't gunfire. It is car accidents. The number-two killer is officers being struck outside their cars during routine traffic stops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You OK?

CARROLL: The statistics are not surprising to Cincinnati policeman Jerry Enneking. He says that, in his 16 years on the force, he made more traffic stops than he can remember. But, some, he will never forget.

JERRY ENNEKING, CINCINNATI POLICE DEPARTMENT: As I put the car in park, I was struck from behind.

CARROLL: Enneking says, the driver who hit his cruiser wasn't paying attention. Fortunately, Enneking wasn't badly hurt during the initial crash, so he got out of his patrol car to check the scene. That's when he says another driver, also not paying attention, came out of nowhere.

ENNEKING: As I got to the front of the -- of my cruiser to get away, I was struck from behind. It was like a white blur. And the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. I kind of sat there stunned for a minute, kind of checked, make sure everything was still attached.

CARROLL: Enneking spent a year-and-a-half on light duty because of his injuries. His kneecap was knocked off during the accident.

Then, two years later, on November 15, 2005, Enneking was hit again during a traffic stop. He suffered two lacerated disks in his neck in that accident.

ENNEKING: I did everything I could, as far as turning on the emergency lights to warn people behind me.

CARROLL (on camera): The problem has become a major concern for the International Association of Police Chiefs, so much so, the organization put together its own training video to show officers how to be safer on roadways like this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Your patrol vehicle is most likely to be struck while parked at the scene of a traffic stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL (voice-over): The DVD reminds officers to avoid pulling people over in obscure locations, if possible, to try and wear reflective gear when it is dark, and to keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.

MARY ANN VIVERETTE, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE: There is no routine traffic stop. At any time, someone can pull a weapon on us, but, then, as this video shows, that it is not just the offender that we're pulling over in traffic that can be a hazard to us. We also have to be very aware of what is going on behind us.

CARROLL: The training video shows, even when officers take precautions, it sometimes isn't enough. Listen to this patrolman, who advises a woman he pulled over to step away from the roadway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're up here ,and anybody hits the back of my patrol car, there's a good chance you are going to get somewhere in between that car and your car.

Just like that. See? Just like that.

LARA FEINBERG, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, FAMILIES FOR ROADSIDE SAFETY: Pay attention. Slow down.

CARROLL: Lara Feinberg is working to make drivers more accountable. Her husband is a North Carolina State Trooper. After two of his partners were killed in separate accidents by passing cars while writing citations, she helped drafted the move-over law. It requires drivers to slow down and move away from officers stopped on roadways. Thirty-eight states have adopted it.

FEINBERG: Reducing your speed could be a matter of life and death for them. Whether they get hit at 80 miles an hour vs. 40 miles an hour, the 40 miles an hour might get them a chance to still make it home at end of the day.

CARROLL: Officers like Jerry Enneking say, drivers need to remember a few simple rules.

ENNEKING: Slow down and just to pay attention, I mean, that's -- that's the main thing, is just pay attention and -- and to use common sense.

CARROLL: That, he says, is the best way to avoid more scenes like this.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: It's scary to watch that stuff.

One more thing. Even if your state doesn't have a move-over law, it is a good idea to move to the left when you see a police car on the shoulder ahead, and, of course, slow down.

Everybody wants to try to avoid pain, right? Well, meet some members of one religious sect who inflict pain on purpose. Why do they do it? And how do they put up with it?

Also, Jeanne Moos heads for the airport, but not to catch a plane. Is a very, very expensive lost dog from the Westminster dog show still out there somewhere?

First, though, on to numbers six and five on our CNN.com countdown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Coming up in this half hour, she says she's the widow of a mafia hit man. Could she really know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa? And there is a major search on tonight for a championship dog. How did he get loose at an airport? We'll take you on the search. And at the top of the hour, is he going to win gold? George Clooney talks about his three Oscar nominations on "LARRY KING LIVE."

Now on to our "Mysteries of the Mind," an amazing display of mind over body. In fact, you're probably not going to believe what you're seeing at first. Senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is about to take you to the other side of the world where a group of mystics hold a mysterious ceremony. As you watch, ask yourself if there's anything you might learn from one that may be true "Mysteries of the Mind."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's after midnight in a mosque in Sunanda. Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, a plastic surgeon from New York, is here, among the Suni sect of Sufis.

He came to Kurdistan to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries.

But a Kurdish colleague has brought him to see a secret ritual that Westerners rarely, if ever, are allowed to see.

Inside the mosque, it's all men and boys. Women aren't allowed here. By day, these men hold jobs and have families. But once a month, they gather to do something only extreme Sufi Sects do -- mutilate themselves. Their ritual begins with a driving drumbeat and chanting to Allah.

DR. KAVEH ALIZADEH, PLASTIC SURGEON: They started mentioning lines from the Koran, which essentially, as it relates to Mohammad being the prophet of God and there's no god but God. So they started taking those sequences of the Koran and essentially making it shorter and shorter as they started increasing the pace of the chants, and as they started getting the trance itself.

GUPTA: It's rare to even see a Muslim man's hair, but during this ritual, they remove their turbans. The spell deepens. And they begin their journey to show their God the power of their faith. Their minds over their bodies.

ALIZADEH (voice-over): It was almost as if they wanted to be more liberated. So, in this sense of taking their turban off and losing that sense of identity that they have and becoming who they are -- really are.

(On camera): As we were standing there, we felt drawn into this, the passion of what was going on there. It's pretty intoxicating.

GUPTA: Dr. Alizadeh is transfixed as the ritual takes a shocking turn. The self-mutilation begins. This man bites into a fluorescent light bulb. Outwardly, showing no pain.

ALIZADEH (voice-over): He walked towards us, sort of almost an act of defiance to say look at me and look at what I can do to myself. And that's when he broke the fluorescent light bulb and he started chewing it in front of us. And he very much wanted us to know that he doesn't feel anything.

GUPTA: The men are in a frenzy. Several have taken these skewers and thrust them right through their face. In one side, out the other. No hesitation and no apparent pain. Of course, I was left wondering why? Why do this?

Dr. Alizadeh says this is how they explained it to him.

ALIZADEH: The idea behind -- at least this sect of Sufis -- or as to show that by proving to themselves that they don't feel pain, to prove that they don't have the human experience at that moment and they have detached themselves from the sense of the self. And therefore, they can enter their spiritual self.

GUPTA: Now, the chief appears. He deftly pulls skewers from this man's face. There is no blood.

And this old man barely flinches as two skewers pierce his chest. Remarkably, he doesn't bleed as the chief pulls them out.

After the ritual, we spot this man again, with only drops of blood dotting his white shirt.

ALIZADEH: From a medical perspective, I was constantly trying to understand. How can you actually train yourself to within minutes, to be able to be in a phase where you don't feel pain as much and you don't have as much bleeding.

GUPTA (on camera): We wanted to show you this incredible footage, not because it's something you should ever try yourself, but to understand whether we as humans can control the way we feel pain.

For some answers, we turn to Dr. Herbert Benson, one of the country's top researchers in the mind body connection.

This is some of the most remarkable, dramatic stuff.

DR. HERBERT BENSON, PRESIDENT, THE MIND BODY INSTITUTE (voice- over): Isn't that painful, just to imagine what that's like.

(On camera): Our mind is an incredibly important medical tool that can certainly counteract the harmful effects of stress, but often extend itself into these remarkable feats, such as we're viewing here.

GUPTA (voice-over): Our first question, how do the Sufi mystics control pain?

BENSON (voice-over): The peripheral nerves are, of course, transmitting painful stimuli, but the interpretation aspects of the brain are shut off. So you feel no pain.

(On camera): You see this in athletes. Often they can perform under what would be tremendously painful stimuli for others. They just ignore it and keep on going, often injuring themselves in the process.

GUPTA: So the mind can turn off, not registering pain. But explaining the lack of bleeding is harder to do. It could be all the adrenaline surging through their bodies. Or it could be that they willed themselves not to bleed.

(On camera): I mean, to a lot of people listening, this sounds outrageous. This sounds like quackery. How can your mind not only control pain, but control bleeding?

BENSON: I don't know that. But clearly we are seeing mind body affects that traditional medicine does not teach us.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Benson has spent 40 years looking beyond traditional medicine, to the mind for answers. He conducted landmark research, showing Tibetan monks who while in frigid conditions, could generate enough body heat to dry wet bed sheets, just by using their minds.

Benson says this is something the rest of us can learn to do as well, through meditation.

New neuroscience research shows brain scans of people who meditate actually show less aging than people who don't.

BENSON (on camera): I would approach a patient.

GUPTA: Meditating, as Dr. Benson showed me, is something we can all learn to do.

(On camera): Choose a word or phrase you're comfortable with. I chose the word, gentle.

BENSON: Gentle. OK, let me show you how to do this.

GUPTA: Each time you exhale, repeat this word to yourself. Try not to think of anything else. After about three minutes, Dr. Benson observed my facial muscles were far more relaxed.

(Voice-over): Given 60 percent of all trips to the doctors are stress-related, Dr. Benson insists shutting off the mind like this helps the body revert to its innate healing state.

ALIZADEH (on camera): We're realizing as doctors that not only can we control the body, in terms of the process of the bodies, where we can actually help our patients mentally to control the physical and physiological aspects of the body.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: An amazing thing to see. And there's this. Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us that although meditating may have its benefits, there are obviously conditions only medicine can help. Of course, always check with your doctor if you have any questions about that.

Our next question, how did a championship dog known for its speed get loose at the airport? Did she just take off? And in a little bit, Jeanne Moos joins the hunt.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm John Zarrella. Is the HBO hit "The Sopranos" really a work of fiction? One real life mobster widow says no way and claims one of the characters is based on her. That story coming up later on PAULA ZAHN NOW.

ZAHN: I don't think I'm going to mess with her. First, No. 4 on our CNN.com countdown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So you think that a dog that just did pretty well at the Westminster Dog Show would want to get home and enjoy all that acclaim. But for a day and a half now, a very valuable little canine has been missing ever since she got loose at John F. Kennedy Airport and simply disappeared. Jeanne Moos has more on the hunt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Among the Whippets of Westminster, she was a runner up. Now she's a runaway.

JIL WALTON, DOG OWNER: I just want my dog back.

MOOS: Her name is c'est la vie, that's life. But her co-owners call her Vivi. Vivi somehow got out of her cage at JFK as she was being transported to a Delta plane for the flight home to California. Airport workers chased her in a vehicle. What was she doing?

WALTON: Twenty five.

PAUL LEPIANE, DOG OWNER: Miles an hour.

WALTON: Miles an hour.

MOOS: Whippets are known for their speed. Vivi apparently panicked and though one worker got within a few feet of her, she escaped through a fence headed into the marshlands surrounding the airport. By foot, then by chopper, they searched.

Co-owner Jil Walton confessed to fibbing out of desperation about the show dog's worth.

WALTON: I said she was worth $150,000 because I needed that helicopter in the air.

MOOS (on camera): Its not really worth it?

WALTON: No, but...

MOOS: ... I heard $175,000. It's going up by the minute.

(voice-over): The real number is around $20,000. Vivi's co- owners are worried she'll get run over, worried she'll drown in the marsh. They posted the Whippet's picture in neighborhoods next to the nearly 5,000-acre airport.

(on camera): You seen this dog? Gentlemen, have you seen this dog? He's wearing a brown sweater coat.

(voice-over): Hard to miss a Whippet in a sweater. But her co- owners fear the sweater could weigh her down in the marsh waters.

(on camera): You just call it, you know? Here doggy. It won't bite or anything if you see it.

(voice-over): Vivi is described as an extra-friendly dog.

LEPIANE: She thought Westminster was put on for her enjoyment, you know? And she loves the crowd.

MOOS: Vivi is a dog who's obsessed with squirrels, who can tell left from right, likes to sleep under the covers.

(on camera): She sleeps in your bed.

WALTON: In my bed between me and my fiancee. She's part of my family.

MOOS (voice-over): Driving around, we saw a stray or two. But folks here are probably more familiar with "Whip It" the song.

(SINGING)

MOOS: Than with Whippet the breed.

(on camera): Hey guys, have you seen Vivi? Vivi. They haven't see her.

(voice-over): If only this show dog would show up, you can bet her owners wouldn't whip it. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: And earlier today the Port Authority, that's the folks involved with these kind of searches, called off its search for Vivi, though they will keep an eye out as they patrol. So far no sightings of her tonight.

Now if you really like working with dogs, but don't think you can give up your day job just yet, think again. Jennifer Westhoven has a story of a woman who completely switched gears and is really happy with her life after work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN WATTS, DOG TRAINER: You just feel like...

JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... Susan Watts left the corporate world and started a home business training dogs.

WATTS: We opened a little place in the basement and I immediately started getting some clients, just pet people and pets, nothing big. And got really busy. What do you think about that, huh?

WESTHOVEN: Her dog started winning awards and she started spending almost every weekend showing off her champion canines. This week she was at Madison Square Garden where her dachshund Simone made it all the way to Westminster Dog Show.

WATTS: It's like goosebumply. You know, you're really excited. I wasn't -- I had to say I was not nervous until I stepped out onto the green carpet when I went to get my arm band this morning. And then it really hit me, that it's like, oh my gosh, I'm really at Westminster.

If you're nervous, it goes right down the read, and she knew right then, all I have to do is just misbehave a little and mom will give me bait. And she's right. I broke down and gave her the bait, which got her to stand nicely and helped us make the first cut. So I was glad of that.

WESTHOVEN: Simone didn't make it to the final ring, but her owner says they'll both be back next year.

WATTS: I'll keep at it. I don't know if I'll ever get a best in show at Westminster, but I'm sure, you know, know in the next 10 years if I keep going, I'll eventually end up with a best in show, I'm certain of that.

It is just a big family. And when you come here, it is hard not to root for your friends. We're very, very competitive with each other but it's also a very supportive area. And as you just make the best friends.

WESTHOVEN: Jennifer Westhoven, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: And "The Sopranos" is one of the hottest dramas on cable T.V. But is Tony Soprano's mob family based on a Florida woman's real story? And she has some hair raising ones at that. Coming up next.

First though onto No. 3 on our CNN.com countdown, country star John Michael Montgomery was arrested this morning in Lexington, Kentucky, for driving under the influence. Stay right there, No. 2 is straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: A very spoiled tonight. Spring-like night out there on Columbus Circle. Question for you right now is what would you do if one night you turn on the T.V. and there unfolding on the screen is a not so fictionalized version of your life? And what a life it is. A woman in Florida is convinced her family has been re-created on one of the most acclaimed shows ever to air on T.V. She is also convinced her family should get something in return. And as John Zarrella tells us, hers is no ordinary family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LYNDA MILITO, WIDOW: Every day of my life, this is hitting me in the head.

ZARRELLA: Lynda Milito has a problem.

MILITO: When I see "The Sopranos," I get sick.

ZARRELLA: The petite 59-year-old is the widow of New York mobster Louie Milito, who mob experts say was a killer, the real deal, a bona fide tough guy. Milito himself is said to have taken two bullets to the head in 1988. His body was never found.

MILITO: He was hit here and hit here.

ZARRELLA: Lynda Milito convinced HBO's "Sopranos" is based on her family. There are too many similarities, she says, to be coincidence. Right down to the ducks in Tony Soprano's pool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, if you don't like that ramp, I'll build you another one.

MILITO: How did Tony have ducks? I mean, no member in the world has ducks. Well Louie did, OK? Louie did.

ZARRELLA: In response to Milito's accusations, HBO which like CNN is owned by Time Warner, issued this statement, quote, "The Sopranos is wholly the creation of David Chase and his team of writers. Any claims to the contrary are simply ridiculous," end quote.

Lynda Milito insists it;s true and because dead men don't talk, it's just her word against theirs. This mobster's widow who once helped Louie Milito turn back odometers... MILITO: ... I did the paperwork.

ZARRELLA: You did the paperwork?

MILITO: I did the forgery.

ZARRELLA: Says even Carmela is a dead wringer, so to speak.

MILITO: If you look at her, you'll swear you're talking to me.

ZARRELLA: And Lynda Milito argues the children are carbon copies.

MILITO: They're identical. The children age bracket is the same age. They went to private schools. Well my children went to private schools.

ZARRELLA: Wearing widow's black, Milito has gone public to demand HBO and others make her an offer she can't refuse.

MILITO: What do I want from them? Fair compensation. I don't know in this which way, I don't know how.

ZARRELLA: Robert Castelli was with the New York state organized crime task force. He says "The Sopranos" could be the Militos or just about any mob family.

ROBERT CASTELLI, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: You could take any of these stories that you see in "The Sopranos." Replace the names, replace the faces, replaces the cities, and it would play out over and over again every day, every year. That's the nature of wise guys.

ZARRELLA: Milito acknowledges differences between HBO's Tony and her Louie. Tony Soprano never claimed he killed teamster's president Jimmy Hoffa. Milito says her husband told her he did just that and buried the remains in a column of New York's Verrazano Bridge.

MILITO: He said well he's in that stanchion over there. He said I killed him.

ZARRELLA: And unlike Tony, Louie, she says, was no cheat.

MILITO: First of all, I'm a lot of woman. I mean, how could he cheat on me? I mean, he's afraid I'll be going somewhere.

ZARRELLA: Milito says she didn't act sooner because she was busy with her first book. Now the mafia wife says she's ready.

MILITO: I love a challenge. I married Louie.

ZARRELLA: Next month, "The Sopranos" begins its sixth season. Milito says she won't be watching. John Zarrella, CNN, Boca Raton, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: And Lynda Milito also says she's told the FBI that her husband claimed, as you just heard in that piece, to have killed teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. Their response, yes, him and everybody else.

Right now time for Erica Hill and the "Headline News Business Break" and we move up on the top of the hour.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

ZAHN: And there's no shortage of that stuff is there, Erica. Thanks so much. At the top of the hour, actor and multiple Oscar nominee George Clooney joins "LARRY KING LIVE."

But before that, No. 2 on our CNN.com countdown. Michael Jackson may be facing a new legal fight, this time over his two children with ex-wife Debbie Rowe, after a court rules that her parental rights were never properly terminated. No. 1, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: No. 1 on our CNN.com countdown, the story Jeanne Moos just told us about. The prize-winning dog that escaped at New York's Kennedy airport. Major search underway for her tonight.

And tomorrow night, we're going to take a look at a new movement called unschooling, where parents decide simply not to send their kids to school at all. They'll explain why.

But coming up next, George Clooney joins "LARRY KING LIVE." Thanks so much for joining us tonight. Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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