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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Unanswered Questions At University Of Texas After Ricin Scare; Al Qaeda Claim Responsibility For Saudi Oil Refinery Attack; More Deadly Attacks In Iraq As Some Fear Civil War; Tavis Smiley Addresses Concerns About Health, Housing And Economic Equality; Olympics Update; Mixed Feelings On Mardi Gras; Man Runs Cross U.S. For Charity

Aired February 25, 2006 - 07:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone.
Now in the news, live pictures now from Austin, Texas. Where did it come from? That's what investigators in Texas are asking this morning. Early tests show a powder found in a dorm at the University of Texas Austin is ricin, a powerful and deadly poison. A student found the powder. No reports of anyone getting sick. We will bring you more on this developing story straight ahead.

Al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for yesterday's foiled attack on a Saudi Arabian oil facility. The claim was made on an Arabic language Web site. The Internet posting said the attack is part of a large scale plan to stop the theft of wealth and oil from Muslims.

More details coming up.

For the second straight day, a daytime curfew was in effect in Baghdad and three other Iraqi provinces. Authorities are trying to prevent more sectarian violence after Wednesday's bombing of a Shiite mosque. The curfew includes a ban on cars entering or leaving Baghdad. The curfew ends in just under an hour.

Almost six months after Hurricane Katrina, Bourbon Street and the rest of The Big Easy are back in party mode. The annual Mardi Gras celebration is underway. Merchants are hoping the party will help the local economy recover. Crowds so far appear to be about half their usual size.

NGUYEN: And this early in the morning they're still on the streets.

HARRIS: Yes.

NGUYEN: Hey, it's Mardi Gras. That's what you do, right? Even at six in the morning their time.

Well, talks do resume today between Venezuelan authorities and select U.S. airlines after Venezuela said it would suspend inbound U.S. flights to its capital starting Wednesday. The ban affects Delta, Continental and American Airlines. The State Department says the restriction would violate the 1953 Air Transport Agreement.

Now to Bangladesh. The search is on for survivors of a six story building collapse. Look at those pictures. At least 18 people are dead, 50 more seriously injured. Another 300 people may still be trapped underneath that rubble.

Sheryl Crow's publicist says the Grammy winning singer is recovering from breast cancer surgery. The 44-year-old's prognosis is said to be excellent. Crow underwent the procedure Wednesday. Her record label says she'll undergo radiation therapy as a precaution.

Good morning.

Good morning.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

HARRIS: Well done.

NGUYEN: Good morning, Tony.

Whoa, it's been busy already.

HARRIS: Already.

NGUYEN: It's 7:00 a.m. right here in Atlanta, 6:00 a.m. in New Orleans and 3:00 p.m. in Baghdad.

Good morning, everybody.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone.

I'm Tony Harris.

Thank you for being with us.

Coming up on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, run Jonathan run. Inspiring hope and raising money for Katrina victims, Jonathon Prince has traveled thousands of miles and he has worn out five pairs of shoes. The final leg of his run for relief brings him right here to Atlanta and we will talk to him live.

Also, did the government abandon black people in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?

In two hours, broadcaster Tavis Smiley talks about defining the African-American agenda.

And last but not least, Olympic snowboard champ Shaun White conquers the slopes of Italy, captures the hearts of headline news. And now the Flying Tomato hot dogs it into the business world.

But first this morning, a lot of unanswered questions at the University of Texas Austin following a ricin scare. In a still developing story, preliminary tests confirm a powder found in the dorm is the powerful poison ricin. We're still on the trail of where it came from. A student found the substance Thursday in Moore-Hill Dormitory. The school says there are no reports of symptoms among anyone who might have been exposed to the powder. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if inhaled -- listen to this -- ricin would cause difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea and chest tightness within a few hours. Heavy sweating might follow and fluid could build up in the lungs.

If swallowed, ricin could cause vomiting, low blood pressure and bloody diarrhea. An adult could be killed by as little as 500 milligrams -- make that micrograms -- of ricin, about the size of the head of a pin.

Now, we are making calls this morning to bring you more information out of Austin.

Stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

NGUYEN: We want to talk about Saudi Arabia right now, where al Qaeda terrorists claim to have targeted one of the kingdom's largest oil facilities. Even though yesterday's attack failed, it still caused a $2 spike in oil prices.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It didn't turn out to be the nightmare scenario, but al Qaeda's attack on the Abqaiq oil processing terminal was the first direct attack on a Saudi oil facility, one that processes two thirds of the country's petroleum exports.

ADRIAN BRINKS, PETROLEUM ANALYST: If they had gone to the right place, they could have done very significant damage and badly affected Saudi oil production.

ROBERTSON: At least two explosive packed cars cleared the outer ring of the plant's defenses, possibly disguised as company vehicles. But before the attackers could go further, the Saudis say, they were confronted by special forces troops that guard every major petroleum facility. Their vehicles, said to be packed with explosives for a suicide attack exploded a mile-and-a-half from the main gate.

NAWAF OBAID, SAUDI NATIONAL SECURITY CONSULTANT: His is a complete vindication of what the Saudi security forces and the authorities have been saying over the last three years, that if you're going to attack the Saudi oil industry, the main facilities are so well protected that the would-be attackers would not come close to the main facility.

ROBERTSON: When we visited what could be another prime target, the Saudi oil refinery in port of Ras Tanura 18 months ago, we saw some of the security arrangements in place -- multiple checkpoints, double fencing, some of the 5,000 police that patrol, along with the army, refineries spread out over vast amounts of open ground.

But despite the defenses, one analyst worries that the billions the Saudis say they're spending upgrading security might not stop the next attack.

BRINKS: They're attacking these -- this very important facility, it's going to make the oil market extremely nervous.

ROBERTSON: The attack didn't succeed and the oil kept flowing. But oil prices still jumped more than $2 a barrel, the biggest increase in months.

With al Qaeda's leaders still calling for attacks on Saudi oil, the nightmare scenario remains a frightening possibility.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Belgrade, Serbia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Octavia Nasr is CNN's senior editor for Arab affairs and she joins us now with more perspective on al Qaeda's claim that it was behind yesterday's suicide attack -- good morning to you, Octavia Nasr.

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Betty.

NGUYEN: The first thing, let's talk about this attack, the first time that a Saudi facility has been targeted. I want to talk a little bit more about the security at this facility, because it was pretty top notch here.

And what does that say about the fact that others could be targeted, as well?

NASR: Well, this is definitely good news for the Saudis. They are very proud of themselves and what they achieved yesterday in foiling this attack.

These facilities are so large and they are so important and strategic, so they are well defended and secured, basically, as you heard there from Nic, double security. You have the Saudi security and then you have the private security that the company provides.

So suicide bombers or any attackers will have to go through really tough fences and security and guards before they get to the actual facility and make the damage that they hope to make.

Now, in this case, it was interesting because we heard from the Saudi forces saying they killed at least three of the would-be suicide bombers. They also talked about possibly three cars, at least two explosive-laden.

In the claim that you're talking about, the al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia claimed that there were only two cars and two men driving those cars. So it's going to be interesting to see, you know, what kind of information we get at the end of the day, to see if the claim matches what the Saudi forces find out or not.

NGUYEN: That is interesting, especially because, according to this Web site where al Qaeda is claiming responsibility, it also claims that this was part of a larger plan, a bigger attack.

NASR: Right. You know, this is very consistent with the rhetoric of al Qaeda. I mean when you hear Osama bin Laden or his number two man in al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, they focus a lot on attacking oil refineries, oil processing facilities.

And they do say that the reason for attacking these facilities is to attack the crusaders and the Jews. They claim that the crusaders -- I mean, meaning the Americans, meaning the Westerners -- they claim that they steal the Muslim money and they're standing on Muslim land and they should leave.

So basically this is part of the bigger scheme to attack the Westerners who are in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world. They want them out and basically they want them to stop taking advantage of the oil and its production.

Of course, that is their claim and that claim, again, is repeated in that statement that was posted on a Web site yesterday, saying that the reason for the attack is simply that, and that this is not going to be the first one or the last one.

Definitely this is...

NGUYEN: Which leads me to wonder how this is playing out, that message being sent.

How is the Arab world receiving that message and how are they reacting to the attack?

NASR: You know, the attack itself was reported on pretty extensively. It seems that everybody sighed a sigh of relief that the plot was thwarted. This could have been devastating, not just to Saudi Arabia, but the entire region and perhaps the whole world, as you saw with the prices of oil acting to the attack.

NGUYEN: Well, this plant processes two thirds of Saudi Arabia's oil exports, so it is a huge player in the world of oil and exports. So obviously it could have been very devastating had this thing been carried out as planned.

Octavia Nasr, we're going to have to run right now.

But, of course, we'll be speaking with you throughout the day.

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: Yes.

Thank you.

We'll talk to you soon. HARRIS: Another day of civil unrest in parts of Iraq following the bombing of a Shiite shrine Wednesday. This morning there's been a series of deadly attacks and there are fears the country is on the brink of an all-out civil war.

CNN international correspondent Aneesh Raman joins us now from Baghdad, where the city is under a mandatory daylight curfew at this hour -- Aneesh, good morning.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, good morning.

A serious situation continues in Iraq despite a second despite a second daytime curfew put in place by Iraq's government for Baghdad and neighboring provinces. The violence does persist. Eleven bodies found in the capital alone today, that after 26 were discovered yesterday.

South of the city of Baqubah, a Shia family came under attack. Eleven members of the family killed after gunmen stormed their house.

Also, within the capital, political talks have hit a stalemate. The Sunni and the Shia political leaders are not speaking officially at this moment, that, as they deal with what is the biggest issue here, these Shia militias, enraged after Wednesday's attack, exacting revenge despite calls for calm from the Shia leadership, essentially taking these matters into their own hands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAMAN (voice-over): Living in a land unto themselves, clad in black, guns raised, they are an army of followers of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a key figure with enough power to influence whether Iraq descends into civil war.

The Mehdi militia is one of two main Shia militias here, the other, the Iran-linked Badr Brigade. Restraint from both has been a big part in keeping civil war at bay.

But events over the past few days have changed everything. In the aftermath of Wednesday's attack on the sacred Shia mosque, sectarian violence has torn through the country. Shia militias exacting revenge against Sunnis. And what's been key is that Shia religious leaders, who hold enormous influence over the actions of the Shia militias, who have long called for complete restraint, are now, according to analysts, moving the line.

JUAN COLE, SHIA ISLAM EXPERT: Although they are, the Shiite leaders are calling for calm, they're calling for no reprisals against the Sunni Arabs in general, they're also now talking about deploying Shiite militias. They're calling for demonstrations at a time when the country is very tense.

RAMAN: Iraq's Shia majority suffered for decades under Saddam Hussein. Since his fall, they've suffered almost daily attacks by the Sunni-dominated insurgency. And with the country's fledgling security forces still unable to reign them in, if the militias decide that enough is enough, experts believe civil war would be near impossible to avert, that is, if it hasn't already begun.

COLE: There's kind of an unconventional or low intensity civil war going on already. And the real question is how high does that get ratcheted up? If you 38, 40, 50 people being killed a day, does it go to 500 a day? Does it go to 1,000 a day? That's really what a civil war is. It's enormous numbers of small incidents.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAMAN: So, Tony, militias on the attack; the insurgency, as well. A car bomb detonating in the city of Karbala on a busy street. Early casualty numbers say that at least five people were killed, some 31 others wounded.

Meantime, a funeral procession coming under attack in the capital. You may remember that on Wednesday --Thursday, actually -- the discovery of the body of a well known reporter for Al Arabiya Television, Atwar Bahjat. Her funeral took place today. The procession leaving the burial site coming under attack.

They were escorted by Iraqi police. That might be what instigated the incident. Gunmen opening fire, killing one security officer. A roadside bomb detonating, as well. In the aftermath, there was chaos. The reporters were calling into the station, Al Arabiya, calling on Iraqi police to come help them secure the location.

It seems things might be under control at this point. But the tensions here remain incredibly high. This is an incredibly serious situation that Iraq now faces and Tony.

HARRIS: Aneesh Raman, we say it every week, it's a real mess where you are, but it's redundant because we say it every week.

Aneesh Raman for us in Baghdad.

Aneesh, thank you.

NGUYEN: And coming up later this morning, we will get back to this week's biggest story -- an Arab-based company wanting to buy some of the nation's U.S. ports.

But first, though, we want to know what you think about this whole deal.

Would selling six U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates weaken U.S. security?

There's been a lot of talk. What do you think?

E-mail us, weekends@cnn.com.

We're going to read some of those responses a little bit later in the show.

HARRIS: And stay with us this morning. We'll bring you more information on the developing story out of Austin, Texas. Ricin found in one of the dorms at the University of Texas. We will talk to a toxicologist from Emory University here in Atlanta at 7:30.

And CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen will join us at 8:00 a.m.

NGUYEN: Plus, Hurricane Katrina, poverty, race, class and Medicare -- it is on the minds of most Americans. And in just under two hours, the black State of the Union will address these pivotal issues.

Coming up, as well, we will talk to talk show host Tavis Smiley about the black America covenant that he's introducing to the world.

HARRIS: Plus, poor taste or financial responsibility? We're going to take you there.

I guess we'll take you to Mardi Gras and break down the dollars and the cents behind all of the festivivities. That's coming up.

NGUYEN: Festivivities?

HARRIS: Yes.

NGUYEN: You've had a little too much already, and it's only seven in the morning.

HARRIS: It could be.

NGUYEN: We'll be back, folks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger travels to Washington today after declaring a state of emergency over the state's levee system. Officials said the declaration is an administrative step meant to speed up repairs to 24 flood prone sites.

Well, a Texas jury today continues deliberating the fate of a mother accused of killing her baby by cutting off her arms. The woman has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity in the death of her 10- month-old daughter. Jurors said they were deadlocked Thursday, but the judge ordered them to continue deliberating.

South Dakota's governor is expected to sign a new abortion bill approved by the state legislature. The bill bans all abortions except those to save a woman's life.

South Dakota lawmakers think the bill will prompt the Supreme Court to reverse itself on abortion now that there are two new conservative justices.

HARRIS: Black leaders will unveil a national plan of action today at the Seventh Annual State of the Black Union in Houston.

Broadcaster Tavis Smiley will present his convention with black America, which addresses concerns about health, housing and economic equality, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I spoke with Smiley yesterday and he answered critics who say the victims of Hurricane Katrina aren't doing enough to help themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAVIS SMILEY, CO-HOST, STATE OF BLACK UNION: They certainly have not experienced what the victims of Hurricane Katrina experienced, where you are in a situation having nothing to do with anything in your control and you hope that because you're living in America, that's supposed to be as good as its promise, that your government ain't going to abandon you.

Anyone in that situation, black or white, I suspect, would have a much more critical, and, quite frankly, realistic view of what it means to live in this country called America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: You can hear more of what Tavis Smiley has to say coming up in our 9:00 a.m. Eastern hour.

NGUYEN: I'm looking forward to that.

HARRIS: That's just up, yes.

NGUYEN: Also, we're looking forward to some nice weather for a change.

Bonnie Schneider is here to tell us if that's ever going to happen any time soon -- Bonnie.

(WEATHER REPORT)

NGUYEN: Well, the Torino Olympics are almost over.

Can you believe it?

Some athletes, though, will be coming home with those medals and memories of a lifetime. But will their success...

HARRIS: And tomatoes!

NGUYEN: ... get played into big endorsements?

NGUYEN: I kind of have a hint it will for him.

HARRIS: The Tomato!

NGUYEN: The Flying Tomato.

We'll take a look in our "Beyond The Game" segment.

That's up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBIN MEADE, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: We just wanted to say thank you so much to our Olympic gold medallist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: From the slopes of Torino to the studios of CNN "HEADLINE NEWS," gold medal Olympian Shaun White, also known as the Flying Tomato, is certainly one of the big winners of the Winter Games, in more ways than one.

White is expected to cash in big when it comes to the post- Olympic endorsements.

But the story is going to be a bit different for some of the other Olympians.

Let's go "Beyond The Game" this morning, all the way to Torino, Italy -- what am I doing here -- where CNN sports business analyst Rick Horrow is braving the cold -- Rick, good to see you, doctor.

Wow!

RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Hey, man, hey, let me tell you something, in 776 B.C. when the Athens organizers decided to put on games...

HARRIS: Yes?

HORROW: They didn't think about a $1.6 billion budget and 81 events. This is astronomical, my friend.

HARRIS: Yes.

It's good to see you there.

You look good there in Italy.

We're worried about ports here in the U.S.

HORROW: Yes?

HARRIS: And you -- we should be worrying about you in Italy.

All right...

HORROW: I'm 2,000 miles away from u.

It's a great place.

Thanks.

HARRIS: There you go.

All right, so let me ask you, we're talking about these athletes and who's going to cash in when they get back Stateside.

Let's start with -- what are your thoughts on Hannah Teter?

HORROW: Hannah Teter, the endorsement darling of the first week. In fact, NASA signed a deal with her to do 30 second spots on the aerodynamics of the half pipe, a $6 million snowboarding industry; six million people, as well.

I am even thinking of taking up snowboarding.

HARRIS: Yes.

How about Sasha Cohen?

HORROW: Sasha Cohen fell, but she didn't fall from grace. She'll save her Citizen Watch endorsement and some of her others, as well, as long as she decides to skate for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and do well there, also.

HARRIS: Got you.

How about speed skater Shani Davis?

HORROW: Well, Shani Davis, as you know, the first African- American Winter Olympic gold medal winner. The sky is the limit, especially in an industry that's basically 84 percent white, notwithstanding his spat with speed skater Chad Hedrick.

HARRIS: Michelle Kwan?

HORROW: Michelle Kwan was the endorsement darling and the most marketable athlete coming into these Games, by the way. She was the centerpiece of Coke's campaign. She withdrew early, but not so early that it affected her image -- $20 million a year in annual endorsements. She's going to transcend the Olympics even after the snow melts.

HARRIS: Boy, you're absolutely right about that.

And our guy Bode Miller?

HORROW: Here we go, man. Coming into the deal with Visa and Charles Schwab and Nike and high expectations. In the space of two weeks, he skied off the gate, out of the course...

HARRIS: Oh, boy.

HORROW: ... and out of our hearts forever.

And that's the deal.

And, by the way, the other thing, though, is there are a million people passing through here all the time...

HARRIS: Right.

HORROW: ... and only about 4 percent American. So I'm interested in your perspective across the pond.

Who is your most marketable pick?

HARRIS: Well, from our perspective, at least my perspective watching these games, two -- two names.

Shaun White, the Flying Tomato. I mean this guy came into CNN, had a great time with Kyra on the air, went over to "HEADLINE NEWS." Now he's down there in the lobby there and he just had a great time, a wonderful personality.

But I tell you what, also, it seems to me -- and I think you were on to this, as well -- Michelle Kwan is still going to do really well. She may have pulled out because of injury, but she didn't go there and flop, OK?

So it seems to me that she's going to do really well post- Olympics here.

Am I close?

HORROW: She's not an Olympic athlete, she is a personality at this point.

HARRIS: Yes.

HORROW: So, and that impacts television.

So let's go to TV if we can...

HARRIS: You want to talk about TV?

HORROW: ... and the ratings here.

HARRIS: OK. Yes.

HORROW: Yes, let's talk about TV...

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: Well, it was difficult. I'm gathering is was difficult. You know, the Olympics were up against "American Idol," "Grey's Anatomy," some tough competition. The other networks rolled out some of its better shows to take on the Olympics this time around.

Is NBC getting its money's worth here?

HORROW: Well, they spent $613 million, so they better have. A 30 percent decrease or so in Olympic ratings compared to Salt Lake. About 25 percent compared to Nagano a few years earlier. And we understand why. There's nobody in the country that didn't know the results the afternoon before they happened. We also have no cold war tensions against that Eastern bloc. There isn't one now. And the bottom line also is we don't have those household names, like we talked about earlier. But NBC's prime time ratings increased 150 percent over January. Their cable networks, MSNBC and CNBC, went up about 40 percent. And 50 million hits Internet wide a day. This has become the Internet Olympics.

And lest we think NBC isn't happy, they're spending nearly $2.5 billion for the next three Olympics, as well. So they did get their money's worth.

And I've gotten my money's worth out of here. This is a gorgeous place...

HARRIS: I love that.

HORROW: ... and you should be here.

HARRIS: All right, so you're going to take in the closing ceremonies, I gather.

HORROW: The gold medal hockey game tomorrow, the closing ceremonies after that. The speed skating tonight. The curling -- last night I had my curling tickets and everybody was excited about it.

HARRIS: Really?

HORROW: I now figured out what happened, but only after the events are over.

So now I'll be a curling expert.

You and I are going to curl for dollars the next time I see you.

HARRIS: Rick Horrow, Torino, Italy for us.

Good to see you, my friend.

See you next week.

HORROW: I'll see you next week.

HARRIS: All right, man.

Well, the Winter Games may be over for Shaun White, but the Flying Tomato is still in constant motion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEADE: My name is Robin.

(CROSSTALK)

MEADE: Thanks, Shaun.

Thanks for dropping by.

(CROSSTALK)

MEADE: You've already got your...

(CROSSTALK)

MEADE: You've got your makeup?

WHITE: I'm ready to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: How about that?

The Flying Tomato with Robin Meade, "CNN HEADLINE NEWS" and Robin's great morning show.

He stuck to landing.

Shaun's Big Day Out, coming up in the 10:00 a.m. Eastern hour.

NGUYEN: He is full of surprises, that Shaun White. A funny guy, and talented on top of that.

We have some serious business that we want to talk about, as well this morning. Ricin found in a dormitory at the University of Texas Austin. Tests are still being done. Preliminary tests, though, show that it is, indeed, ricin. More tests are still being done.

But we're going to talk to a toxicologist coming up next about ricin, how it's made, what it does and how dangerous it really is.

Stay with us for that. It's 7:30 Eastern.

You're watching CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Ah, the Mardi Gras festival.

Oh, live pictures! I didn't know we'd see those.

NGUYEN: Yes, we were looking at them a little bit earlier.

HARRIS: This morning?

NGUYEN: There's still people on the streets...

HARRIS: How did I miss that?

NGUYEN: At 6:30 in the morning. They probably haven't gone to sleep.

HARRIS: Look at all the trash trucks there in the middle of the show.

NGUYEN: They're trying to get business done... HARRIS: And there needs to be...

NGUYEN: ... among the partiers.

HARRIS: We will take you to New Orleans a little bit later, perhaps. We'll see.

Welcome, everyone, to CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

Welcome back.

I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen.

We'll have that story in just a moment.

But first, we want to take you to see what the morning's headlines are all about this morning, because we have a lot to tell you about -- Tony.

HARRIS: Here's what's happening right now in the news.

Early tests show the deadly poison ricin has been found inside a dormitory at the University of Texas Austin. A student found the powder and a preliminary investigation is underway. Police say the dorm was sanitized and the students were evacuated. The "Daily Texan" newspaper reports a student discovered the powder after opening a roll of quarters from an out of town bank, the school says.

There have been no reports of symptoms among the dorm's 390 students.

NGUYEN: An al Qaeda group claims responsibility for yesterday's failed attack on a major oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia. Now, the claim was posted on an Arabic language Web site.

Saudi authorities say they repelled the attempted car bombing by firing on two cars packed with explosives.

In Bangladesh, authorities say at least 18 people are dead, 50 seriously injured and hundreds are trapped after a six story building collapsed. The building housed a garment factory. The army is leading the rescue effort there.

And in Iraq, attacks on a funeral procession leave at least one security officer dead. It is one in the series of violent episodes since Wednesday's bombing of a Shiite mosque near Samarra. Eleven bodies have been found to date in Baghdad. In Abara, 11 family members believed to be Shia were killed when gunmen stormed the home.

HARRIS: Filipino authorities are trying to restore calm today, with a state of emergency order. This after security forces say they stopped a plot yesterday to overthrow President Gloria Arroyo. The alleged coup was timed to coincide with demonstrations marking the 20th anniversary of a revolution that ousted former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Grammy award winning singer Sheryl Crow is recovering from breast cancer surgery and her planned North American tour set for next month is on hold. The 44-year-old underwent breast cancer surgery on Wednesday. Doctors say her prognosis is excellent.

NGUYEN: Well, we are in hot pursuit this morning of a developing story out of Austin, Texas.

Powder believed to be the poison ricin found in a dorm at the University of Texas.

Dr. Robert Geller is a toxicologist at Emory University right here in Atlanta.

He joins us by phone to explain just how dangerous ricin is.

Good morning to you, doctor.

DR. ROBERT GELLER, TOXICOLOGIST, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Good morning.

NGUYEN: First of all, we want to talk about how ricin is formed.

Now, this is something that you have to make, correct?

GELLER: Ricin is made from castor beans, that are used for many other purposes. We usually think of castor beans as a source of castor oil, but which does not contain toxin, just to reassure your listeners and viewers. But one of the other things you can get from them is the product ricin.

NGUYEN: But this is not a substance that you could just happen to come in contact with? This has to be made?

GELLER: Correct.

NGUYEN: Got you.

All right, now let's move on to what we know about the situation and maybe you could shed some light on how dangerous this is to the people who might have been exposed to it.

What we know from the "Daily Texan," which is a newspaper there at the University of Texas Austin, is that this powder was discovered by two students after opening a roll of quarters.

Now, the powder fell out onto the student's hands, which were washed immediately after that.

So, that being the case, I mean with this being so deadly, powder falling onto someone's hands, is that enough to do the trick? Or does it have to be something that has to penetrate the skin for it to be deadly?

GELLER: Ricin does not cross the skin by itself. It has to either be inhaled or swallowed or get in your eyes or be injected. NGUYEN: I see.

OK.

So -- and let's talk about the dangers of ricin, because should this have been inhaled by chance -- well, let me ask you this.

What are the chances of it being inhaled if it fell out on the hands?

Is that a possibility?

GELLER: It's possible, but unlikely.

Also, Betty, remember that the particles have to be small enough to get into the lungs. Just getting into your -- becoming airborne isn't enough, because if the particles are very large, they'll be filtered out, the same way that we don't inhale popcorn, because the popcorns, the pieces of popcorn are much too big to get past your nose. Big particles don't get past your nose.

NGUYEN: So what we really need to understand is really how big of chunks of this ricin these were that was discovered in that dorm.

OK, so that being the case, let's get to the worst case scenario, though.

Should these two students have come in contact with it and it had penetrated in some way, what are the symptoms?

GELLER: Symptoms initially show up in the digestive system. You get vomiting and diarrhea and abdominal cramps. And then if the poisoning is severe, symptoms can include the lungs, the heart, the liver and the kidneys. And ultimately people have died from ricin.

NGUYEN: How quickly do they show up?

GELLER: The symptoms usually show up within eight to 12 hours. They're usually delayed a little bit. And given the high risk, if a life-threatening dose is inhaled, obviously people would rather be safe than be sorry. And...

NGUYEN: So this was found on Thursday.

At this point, someone should know, right, if, indeed, they have the symptoms?

GELLER: I think if anyone had -- if this happened on Thursday and this is Saturday morning, I would expect that anyone who is going to get sick probably already has from that exposure.

NGUYEN: All right, and, quickly, one last thing. And this is something that drew a question with me.

Preliminary tests show that it's ricin.

But, again, those are preliminary tests.

Will final tests perhaps show something different?

GELLER: Absolutely. It's very likely, as a matter of fact, that the...

NGUYEN: Why is that?

GELLER: The reason for having preliminary tests is you do something that is not totally specific but it gets done faster, the need to try to help people and to act cautiously and to be sure that we have done the right thing. I think that most people would rather be safe than be sorry.

And so the question of well, is it consistent with ricin is a different question than is it really ricin?

NGUYEN: Well, we will be following it and see what those final test results show. But that is a very good point.

Dr. Geller, a toxicologist at Emory's School of Medicine, we appreciate your time this morning.

Thank you.

GELLER: Thank you.

HARRIS: Still to come, six months after Hurricane Katrina, people on the Gulf Coast are still trying to rebuild their lives.

This weekend, though, it's party time. There's live pictures again, Betty.

NGUYEN: The party keeps going and going and going, until Tuesday.

HARRIS: Yes.

We're talking about Mardi Gras in New Orleans all morning long, as the biggest street party rages on.

We'll look at what this year's Fat Tuesday means to the city and its people.

We're back with more CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Hope springs eternal for Mardi Gras revelers in New Orleans. A live shot, Bourbon Street, New Orleans. No bellowing for beads at this hour, but from the looks of things, a lot of trash. A lot of hardy partying last night.

Here's a question, though, is Mardi Gras this year a good idea?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS (voice-over): In a normal year, Mardi Gras brings more than one million revelers to the streets of New Orleans and $1 billion to the area economy. This is not a normal year.

Six months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still a devastated city. While the French Quarter is back in business, large parts of the rest of New Orleans look like a war zone and two thirds of the pre-Katrina population is still living somewhere else.

After the storm, some people said New Orleans should forget about Mardi Gras this year.

But perhaps drawing inspiration from its gambling casinos, New Orleans decided to take a chance.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: And we are here today to announce the start of the Mardi Gras season.

HARRIS: It placed its bets on a smaller celebration, downsized from the usual 12 or so days. But some say even the pared down celebration may be too much too soon. There's still not much travel to New Orleans and the number of planes landing at Louis Armstrong International Airport is only about half of what it was before the storm.

As of early this month, only 22,000 of the area's 38,000 hotel and motel rooms were usable and thousands of those rooms were still being occupied by evacuees and disaster workers.

About one third of the restaurants are reopened, but many are having trouble finding staff.

Medical emergencies can spike during Mardi Gras, but the city has only two working full service emergency rooms.

So why not wait until next year?

Well, it's more than just tradition. Many city leaders see this year's celebration as a vote of confidence in the future, not to mention a desperately needed cash infusion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are folks who feel that it's an indication that the city is coming back and that we are getting back to some sense of normalcy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about our economics, because it sets us back on the path to economic revitalization.

HARRIS: While no one is expecting the usual billion dollar economic boost, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau is predicting a $400 million benefit -- at least that's the hope.

So what's it going to be -- Fat Tuesday or lean Tuesday? For the City of New Orleans, the future may ride on that answer.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: Well, no one knows the Mardi Gras celebration better than Arthur Hardy, publisher of "The Mardi Gras Guide."

We'll talk to the eyes, the ears and the voice of Mardi Gras in New Orleans in our eleven o'clock Eastern hour this morning.

Will this first Mardi Gras since the storm be one to remember?

While Monday CNN's Anderson Cooper and AMERICAN MORNING will be live from the Crescent City until the last float rolls through Tuesday night.

So that's AMERICAN MORNING on Monday morning and "ANDERSON COOPER 360" Monday evening, coverage you'll find only on CNN.

Stay with us.

CNN SATURDAY MORNING returns in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: There is turmoil in the Philippines. Protesters are calling for the president to resign.

With more on this, we're joined by Danielle Elias at the International Desk -- Danielle, what's the latest?

DANIELLE ELIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, security is tight in the Philippines as they mark the 20th anniversary of the end of dictatorship. This comes one day after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a state of emergency after security forces said they stopped an attempted coup. A former president has said it was time for Arroyo to step down.

Meantime, on the Philippine island of Leyte, mourners held a memorial service for the victims of a mud slide that engulfed an entire village. Officials called off the search for survivors on Friday.

Bird flu has spread to France. Agriculture officials say they've found the European Union's first case of the deadly H5N1 virus at a commercial poultry farm. France is the E.U.'s largest poultry producer. But President Jacques Chirac says he's trying to calm fears. He says there is no danger in eating poultry and there's no need for consumers to worry.

We have new pictures of international oil workers who were kidnapped in Nigeria over the weekend. You'll take a look. See these photographers here?

These photographs, they were released to Reuters News Agency by their abductors.

Nine workers for Shell Oil, including three Americans, were kidnapped in the West African country's oil rich delta region. Shell says it's working with Nigerian authorities for a safe release of the hostages. Of course, we'll have more details for you in the next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING -- Betty.

NGUYEN: We'll be watching.

Thank you, Danielle.

We're going to talk about weather right now -- Bonnie Schneider, snow headed to New York?

SCHNEIDER: Well, we are going to see some snow. Snow showers for the city. It's certainly cold enough. Look at our current temperatures, right in the 20s.

But where we're watching for the heaviest snow, where it will stick, and, unfortunately, where you'll have to take out the shovels, north of the city, in parts of Upstate New York toward Vermont and into New Hampshire.

Watch out for heavy snow today north of Boston.

I'll tell you all about that, coming up next on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, Tony, you know it pays to clean house.

HARRIS: Yes, Betty. Hi. Hi. How are you? Good morning.

NGUYEN: It pays to clean house.

HARRIS: Oh, OK.

NGUYEN: Do you do that very much?

HARRIS: I pay...

NGUYEN: Yes, that's what I thought.

HARRIS: ... to clean house, yes.

NGUYEN: Here's why it pays to clean house, because a man in Baton Rouge was rounding up dust bunnies last week when he found...

HARRIS: Dust bunnies.

NGUYEN: ... Powerball tickets under the bed.

And guess what?

One of them was worth $850,000.

HARRIS: Nice.

NGUYEN: Yes.

HARRIS: Well, that's a story people are talking about. We call it -- this next section of the show -- Water Cooler Talk.

For more, here's CNN's Fredricka Whitfield.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): If you didn't make it to the Winter Olympics, the rural games in India are the next best thing. You could call this wild event the battle of bull runs. There's also the bovine high hurdles. And, of course, the ever popular farm tractor pelvic crush.

Tada!

Speaking of going for the gold, San Francisco is considering mining nuggets of another kind. There's a proposal to fetch tons of doggie doo around the city and turn it into electricity. That extra doo could be used to power this anti-loitering device.

The black box is the high tech equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard.

HOWARD STAPLETON, INVENTOR: Once it gets in your head, it's very difficult to shake off. And the only way of shaking it off is to move away.

WHITFIELD: If you don't hear much, that's normal. The annoying screech is at a frequency heard mostly by teenagers.

If that doesn't float your boat, how about an aircraft carrier?

The biggest Soviet warship, Minsk, now an amusement park in China, is for sale. Bidding starts at $16 million.

And, finally, proof that some people are born to boogie. Scientists have found two genes that appear to be unique in people who love to dance. And if you have two left feet despite years of ballet and tap, at least now you know it's not your fault.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: I like that little gizmo that beeps for the kids.

NGUYEN: The tchu (ph), tchu, tchu, tchu, tchu, tchu.

HARRIS: I like that one.

NGUYEN: It was annoying me already.

HARRIS: Keep my kids away from the doggoned refrigerator.

One more. Mitsubishi recently did a Web poll of the oddest streets...

NGUYEN: Oddest streets?

HARRIS: Street names.

NGUYEN: OK.

HARRIS: Street names in America.

You want to take a guess at number one?

NGUYEN: I don't even want to go there, but go ahead.

HARRIS: OK.

NGUYEN: Do it.

HARRIS: OK. It was Psycho Path.

NGUYEN: Psycho Path, that is.

HARRIS: Psycho Path in Traverse City, Michigan.

NGUYEN: I like this one.

HARRIS: Divorce Court -- Divorce Court...

NGUYEN: Did you just say ...

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: I'm not reading it the right way.

It's Divorce Court and you can find it in Heather Highlands, Pennsylvania.

That's the story.

NGUYEN: So you did see that?

HARRIS: Yes, I can see it.

NGUYEN: It said 1, 2, 3 Divorce Court.

HARRIS: I see it. Right.

NGUYEN: That's where I live.

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: I mean not me, but, yes.

HARRIS: You want to get a check of the weather?

NGUYEN: Let's do that, shall we?

HARRIS: Bonnie Schneider upstairs in the CNN Weather Center -- good morning.

(WEATHER REPORT) NGUYEN: The next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING begins right now.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone.

Early tests show the deadly poison ricin has been found inside a dorm at the University of Texas Austin. An investigation is underway to trace the source. Police say the dorm was sanitized and the students are being moved. There have been no reports of sickness.

NGUYEN: A curfew put in place to calm the violence in Iraq is set to end right about now. But despite that effort, attacks continued today. A security guard was killed when shots were fired during a funeral procession out of Baghdad, and a bomb exploded along a busy road near Karbala, killing four people.

HARRIS: Al Qaeda claims responsibility for a failed attack on a Saudi oil plant. This is the first time a Saudi oil facility has been targeted. Security forces say they stopped two cars packed with explosives before they could get into the inner gate. Now, the cars exploded, killing the would-be attackers and critically injuring two guards.

More details on this story coming up.

NGUYEN: In the capital of Bangladesh, a frantic search is on right now for people still trapped under a collapsed building. At least 18 people have been killed, and dozens more are missing. There's no word on what caused the six-story building to fall.

HARRIS: It's early, but Mardi Gras revelers are beginning to fill the streets of the French Quarter today. Those holdovers from last night are new folks today. What is ...

NGUYEN: That's what they are. You know they have not been to sleep at all. They've been partying...

HARRIS: Yes.

NGUYEN: ... 24/7. That's what you do at the Mardi Gras.

HARRIS: Well, here's the thing, Betty. The partying isn't as widespread as it was before Hurricane Katrina. Today, three parades will wing their way, wind their way down the streets of New Orleans.

NGUYEN: Sheryl Crow is recovering from surgery from breast cancer. Her publicist says the Grammy-winning performer will receive radiation treatment as a precaution, but her doctors are optimistic. We know that Crow will postpone her North American spring tour. Wish her the best.

HARRIS: From the CNN center, CNN SATURDAY MORNING, February 25, 8:00 a.m. here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, 7:00 a.m. in Austin, Texas.

Good morning everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. We want to thank you for being with us today.

HARRIS: That be coming up, pounding the pavement, he's been running for a long time now.

NGUYEN: Months.

HARRIS: Yes.

NGUYEN: All the way from Los Angeles.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: His running shoes slap the asphalt from California to Georgia. Coming up, Jonathan Prince has reached the finish line, and we will talk to him live.

Plus, the plight of New Orleans residents will top the discussion of today's State of Black America address, broadcast Tavis Smiley talks about his African-American agenda.

And some very special guests travel across the pond to march in Tuesday's Big Easy parades. We will take you to Mardi Gras.

NGUYEN: There's a lot of unanswered questions at the University of Texas at Austin following a ricin scare. In a still-developing story, preliminary tests confirm a powder found in a dorm is the powerful poison ricin. Now, we're still on the trail of where it came from. A lot of details are sorting out.

A student found the substance Thursday in Moore-Hill dormitory. Now, the school says there are no reports of symptoms among anyone who might have been exposed to the powder. And according to the Centers for Disease in -- Control and Prevention, if inhaled, ricin would cause difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea, and chest tightness within just a few hours. Heavy sweating might follow, and fluid could build up in the lungs.

Now, if swallowed, ricin could cause a vomiting, low blood pressure, and bloody diarrhea. An adult could be killed by as little as 500 micrograms of ricin. That's about the size of the head of a pin. So we're talking just a little bit could be very, very deadly.

We are making the calls this morning to bring you more information out of Austin. And at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, we're going to speak to CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

So as you want to stay tuned to CNN both day and night for most reliable news about your security.

HARRIS: In Saudi Arabia, a suicide bomb attack on a major oil processing plant is foiled. Al Qaeda is reportedly claiming responsibility for it, saying the attack was supposed to be part of a bigger plan.

CNN's senior editor for Arab affairs, Octavia Nasr, is on the phone with us. Octavia, good morning. Good to talk to you, as always.

NASR: Good morning, Tony.

HARRIS: Octavia, how do we view this, sitting at home here stateside? This is clearly an attack that was foiled, but just the mere thought of an attack, and an unsuccessful attack, in this case was enough to send oil prices not through the roof, but there was certainly a spike. So what are we to think of this foiled attack in Saudi Arabia?

NASR: Well, it is, of course, a very dangerous precedent. This is the first time an actual attack on an oil processing plant is attempted, at least. The statement that was posted on a Web site yesterday, the claim of responsibility, says clearly that this is not going to be the only one. As a matter of fact, they say that people are lining up, begging to be sent on suicide missions such as this one.

So in the world of al Qaeda, you know, blowing yourself up is a good thing. It takes you straight to martyrdom. And basically, even when an attack like this one is foiled and thwarted, they see it as a victory. They see it as, you know, creating instability and creating chaos, and they take credit for that.

So you're right, they are saying that this is part of a bigger attack. And also, the al Qaeda leader in the past have always talked about oil facilities being a good target, telling their supporters and followers that attacking oil facilities is a good attack on the crusaders, on the Westerners, and a good way to get them out of the Arabian Peninsula.

HARRIS: Octavia, as a matter of fact, to that point -- Katie, do we have this full screen? All right, let's put this up -- I forgot my notes. So let me just read this full screen. This is from Osama bin Laden, Octavia, from December of '04. "Do everything you can to stop the biggest plundering operation in history. Be active and prevent them from reaching the oil, and mount your operations accordingly, particularly in Iraq and the Gulf."

This was a message, clearly, to followers. But it was also a heads-up, it seems to me, to Saudi officials to do everything you can to fortify those facilities.

NASR: Indeed, and that's exactly what they did. I mean, they've always done that. Saudis are very -- you know, they secure their facilities pretty much. But now more so, because of those direct threats.

Also, the number two man in al Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri, as early as this year, actually in January, he also mentioned the oil facilities and called for their supporters to go ahead and attack them.

What experts are saying is that it's very important to secure these facilities, and that's exactly what Saudi did, and they say the double security that they follow, and perhaps now they'll come up with something even more secure to thwart these attacks, even way before they get near these facilities.

But you know, Tony, to talk about the statement again, something very interesting happened, you know, not long ago. The Saudis initially said that there were three suicide bombers. Now they're saying only two. That is very consistent with what that statement said yesterday, that two car bombs with two drivers is what was sent to that mission.

So now the numbers are starting to become consistent, and we know more about what really happened than we did yesterday.

HARRIS: And it's interesting, just the notion, now, of attacks, even though this was a foiled attack, the idea of attacks on the Saudi oil infrastructure, enough to send us -- send prices for oil, you know, if not through the roof, at least a serious spike.

Octavia Nasr, good to talk to you, as always.

NASR: Thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: OK.

NGUYEN: Bringing you up to date now on the violence across Iraq. Dozens of deaths have been reported, despite a daytime curfew that ended just minutes ago. Eleven people were killed when gunmen stormed a house in Baqubah, and 11 bodies were discovered today in Baghdad.

Deadly violence also broke out during the funeral of an Al- Arabiya reporter who was gunned down this week. A security officer was killed, and gunmen opened fire on a procession.

And as we just mentioned, that daytime curfew has ended. It was imposed to quell the cycle of deadly revenge between Sunnis and Shiites since the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra on Wednesday.

In Karbala, police say five people have died in a car bomb attack, 31 others wounded.

And on top of all of this, there are growing doubts about whether Iraqi security forces can do the job. The only unit that had been deemed capable of operating without U.S. assistance has been downgraded by the Pentagon in a recent review.

HARRIS: Pounding the pavement, California to Georgia, he is here.

NGUYEN: Long way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN PRICE, RUN4RELIEF: Forrest Gump ain't got nothing on me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER) NGUYEN: Run, Jonathan, run.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: Coming up, our prince, our prince has reached his goal. Well, boy, it wasn't easy.

NGUYEN: No, it wasn't. Want to say good morning to New York City. Show that picture up.

HARRIS: Oh, yes.

NGUYEN: Oh, it looks a little chilly there, doesn't it? You can just tell by looking at this picture. We're going to have your complete weather forecast in about four minutes.

CNN SATURDAY MORNING continues in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm CNN meteorologist Bonnie Schneider with a look at your cold and flu report for Saturday.

As we take a look at the map, we can show you places across the country that are reporting outbreaks of the flu so far this season. You'll find widespread activity in Texas and Florida, across much of the Southeast, some regional outbreaks across the Midwest, and local activity into California and parts of the Southwest.

That's a look at your cold and flu report for Saturday. I'm meteorologist Bonnie Schneider. Have a great weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Where's Jim LeMay (ph) when we need him? We need to get a little Harry Connick, Jr. ...

NGUYEN: Yes ...

HARRIS: ... in the program this morning.

NGUYEN: ... we need something from New Orleans.

HARRIS: Yes, little, little...

NGUYEN: The spirit of Mardi Gras down there.

HARRIS: H.C.J. in the programming this morning.

NGUYEN: Look at those people walking on the sides of the street. That's spirit is still alive...

HARRIS: It's good. It's good.

NGUYEN: ... as early as it is.

HARRIS: Live pictures now, Bourbon Street, waking up early, or perhaps it never went...

NGUYEN: Never went to sleep.

HARRIS: ... to sleep...

NGUYEN: I can tell you that.

HARRIS: ... in the beginning.

NGUYEN: Yes.

HARRIS: Yes.

Early Mardi Gras celebrations under way in the French Quarter. The parades begin at noon Eastern time. The Krewe of Iris will kick things off. That's an all-female group originally founded by Loyola University students.

The crowds are I guess a bit lighter than before Hurricane Katrina. To be expected.

Credible season began January 6 and builds to its natural crescendo, Fat Tuesday. Join us live. Mardi Gras coverage beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern on Monday, with CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."

Also, "ANDERSON COOPER 360" goes inside Fat Tuesday parade preps, that at 10:0 p.m. Eastern, six months after the levee disaster in New Orleans.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is thinking ahead. He's declared a state of emergency for California's levee system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I don't want to be in a situation as they were in New Orleans, where they talk and talk and talk, and then, all of a sudden, something happens, and you wipe out an entire city and thousands and thousands of people, or hundreds of thousands of people get affected by that. So I just don't want to wait around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: OK, makes sense. Schwarzenegger is hoping his announcement will speed up repairs to 24 of the state's flood-prone sites.

NGUYEN: Well, a decision had to be made, but today people are deciding to participate in Mardi Gras. Look, we have our own beads.

HARRIS: Oh, I'm a little slow...

NGUYEN: CNN Mardi Gras beads.

HARRIS: ... with -- yes, I'm a little...

NGUYEN: You need to put those on.

HARRIS: ... slow with the beads.

Hi, Bonnie...

NGUYEN: Bonnie, good morning.

HARRIS: ... good morning to you.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Thank you, Bonnie. OK.

NGUYEN: All right.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

NGUYEN: Traveling across the country is no small trip. But imagine making the journey on foot. Coming up, one man's race for relief and his incredible finish.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, after running almost 3,000 miles, Jonathan Prince has finally accomplished his goal, inspiring hope and raising money all the way.

We've been following Jonathan every step of that way on his Run 4 Relief to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

His journey started back in October. And we caught up with him during the final leg of his trip, right here in Atlanta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRINCE: This is the greatest feeling in the world.

It all comes down to this. Forrest Gump ain't got nothing on me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Run, Jonathan, run.

Joining me now is Jonathan Prince, along with Chris Clarke, his vice president of communications for Habitat for Humanity. Want to thank you both for being here.

Jonathan, finally, you're sitting, not running, you're sitting down. How does it feel?

PRINCE: Man, it feels good, absolutely for it. You know, the last leg, the last stretch, I was dizzy, lightheaded, so many emotions and adrenaline. I was about to pass out. But at the same time, the people, my sponsors, everybody came in, came through and supported and ...

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: You were about to pass out. You've been on the run for months. And so you finally almost get there. And what, you're thinking about passing out?

PRINCE: I got dizzy. It was ridiculous. You know, I -- there was just so much going on, and just running in that last leg, I just wanted to give it my all. I'm just, oh, oh, oh. Oh, and at the end, it was just like -- woo, woo.

NGUYEN: Little too much?

PRINCE: I didn't stop like the movie. Forrest Gump was just a movie. That totally was a production. But, you know, I was able to hold it down.

NGUYEN: Well, we are glad that you were able to do -- I mean, this is quite an accomplishment.

PRINCE: Oh, yes.

NGUYEN: A lot of people talk about doing great things. You actually did it. And you did it one step at a time.

PRINCE: Step at a time.

NGUYEN: What has that done to your life? What has that done to you?

PRINCE: It totally changed my disposition, you know. I've got a firsthand look at how people view -- Excuse me.

NGUYEN: All choked up about it, apparently.

PRINCE: I'm very choked up.

I got a firsthand view about how people look at, you know, the unfortunate. You know, I'm walking in different cities, and pushing a jogger, as you can tell. And people kind of, you know, give you those stares, as if ...

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: Because they don't know what you're doing.

PRINCE: Exactly. So, you know, but, you know, at the same time, you know, we're only here for so long, as the hurricane just proved, and, you know, you've got to live out loud and chase your dreams, do whatever makes you happy.

NGUYEN: You get one chance at this thing called life. So, step by step, for months on end, how much did you raise?

PRINCE: Thursday afternoon, I raised $13,000 proceeds to the Habitat for Humanity here.

NGUYEN: That is great, because your goal was $10,000, right?

PRINCE: My goal was...

NGUYEN: You bet the goal.

PRINCE: ... $10,000. The country responded well. You know, we're at $13,000. We're actually reaching $15,000. You know, I'm, I...

NGUYEN: So it keeps going.

PRINCE: It keeps on going. I'm encouraging as many more people as possible to keep donating, because it's not going to stop. So hopefully, after today, $25,000.

NGUYEN: And it's such a good cause. Chris, when you saw this gentlemen come to Atlanta, finally make his goal and get here, with this money, that's got to mean a lot to Habitat. I know you come across a lot of people in your business, but for someone to do this on their own, step by step, it's got to mean a lot to you.

CHRIS CLARKE, VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY: Oh, it's a testament of a real commitment by Jonathan. And it's the sort of thing we see Habitat draw out of people every day. It's just inspiring place to work, and it's inspiring to meet people like Jonathan, who are giving so much of their lives for others.

NGUYEN: And he gave sweat labor. That's a lot of what Habitat for Humanity does. It gives sweat labor, because you go in, you build these homes. How many homes will, say, $13,000 to $15,000 build?

CLARKE: It'll make a great down payment on a house. Right now, with destruction in the community, houses are a little bit more expensive. And so they're about $75,000 to sponsor a house. But he's in such great shape now, we're going to get him out there and put to work.

PRINCE: Oh, that's obvious.

NGUYEN: Oh, yes, see, that's the deal. You need to be there, Jonathan, when they start breaking ground on that house that you helped build.

PRINCE: Oh, yes, totally, I'm all about it. You know, Operation Home Delivery is a program that they've organized strictly for hurricane victims. And so I'm all about, you know, going and lending a helping hand and doing my part.

NGUYEN: What was the most memorable part of this for you? I mean, when you look back at this, say a year from now, what do you think's going to stick out in your mind?

PRINCE: The voyage, completely. The voyage, the destination is, you know, is beautiful thing, but at the same time, all of the experiences in between just totally changed me as a person. I'm going to devote my... NGUYEN: What was the hardest part?

PRINCE: The hardest part was probably the stairs, and getting out of my own way. You know, I had a lot of things to just get off of my chest, and, you know, this run really helped shed clarity in my spiritual purpose. And now I know why I'm here. I'm devoting my life to humanity, totally.

NGUYEN: That is a very, very wonderful thing to hear. And I have to ask you, Chris, when we talk about these homes that are being built in the Gulf region, Habitat has been there from the beginning. How many have you built so far?

CLARKE: We've got more than a 100 under construction. And over the next 18 months, we expect to have more than 1,000...

NGUYEN: Really?

CLARKE: ... back in homes. And we want to get Jonathan. We want his best memory to be the family that he meets whose home he helped pay for.

PRINCE: Oh, man, that's ...

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: Because you're going to add this money, you're going to pull it together. And so maybe if he splits it up just right, you can help several families. You know, put a little $5,000 here, another $5,000 there, and you can help, say, three families go into homes.

PRINCE: All right, that would, that would, man, that's the best feeling of this thing, just knowing that I did my part, you know?

NGUYEN: Yes.

PRINCE: Just something, on whatever level I was able to do it. You know, at the same time, someone's going to benefit...

NGUYEN: Exactly.

PRINCE: ... from running across the country.

NGUYEN: Would you do it again?

PRINCE: Never. I would never...

NGUYEN: Why not? Why not?

PRINCE: I would never do it again, just because, I mean, not doing it, I would, but doing it, never. It just -- it's -- I mean, the experience was euphoric, but it was totally humbling, and just...

NGUYEN: It was those once in a lifetime experiences.

PRINCE: Totally once in a lifetime, and it's a... NGUYEN: But you're going to carry these good deeds off into other areas of your life. You may not be running every step of the way in it, but...

PRINCE: I'm done running. I'm ...

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: Well, we have enjoyed it. We've enjoyed the journey. We've been following you. And we appreciate the journey that you have embarked upon, and Habitat continues to help with, all those who are in need, not just only in the Gulf Coast region.

But we thank you both for your time and what you're doing to help others.

CLARKE: Thank you.

PRINCE: Thank you so much. You know, if it wasn't for, you know, my sponsors that came to the table, you know, I wouldn't have been able to make it through. You know, Drinkables, and Larry, Main and Tell (ph)...

NGUYEN: Oh, you got to get those sponsors out.

NGUYEN: That's right, I hear you ...

(CROSSTALK)

PRINCE: ... put together an excellent finale.

NGUYEN: Check out his Web site. One more time, Jonathan, what is it?

PRINCE: Run4relief.org. It's "run," the number four, "relief"...

HARRIS: All right, all right...

NGUYEN: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: Yes, because...

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: ... this is important, Tony, because people can still donate money. And it will continue to go to Habitat for Humanity.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Jonathan.

HARRIS: Good to see you man, good to see you.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: I'll be here trying to make a love connection for you over here, all right?

NGUYEN: Women have been calling in about you.

HARRIS: Working his magic.

NGUYEN: Jonathan.

PRINCE: Are you serious?

NGUYEN: You got some prospects.

PRINCE: Are you serious?

NGUYEN: Yes.

PRINCE: Oh, I don't know about that.

NGUYEN: Oh, come on, don't act surprised, Tony.

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: He's going to be modest.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: We got to, we got to, we got to go, we got to go. Got to go.

Coming up, the state of black America in 2006, Hurricane Katrina put a spotlight on the twin evils of race and class. At 9:00 a.m. Eastern, talk show host Tavis Smiley unveils a plan of action for the African-American community.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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