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Unlikely Leader of Peace; Katrina Survivors Facing Eviction; Jill Carroll Alive?; Katrina: Six Months Later; Hiding in Plain Sight; The Da Vinci Flap; Unwitting Victims

Aired February 27, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: 40 million copies in print. And now, allegations that the author stole his ideas. 360 investigates.
This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from New Orleans, here's Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. We come to you tonight from St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana on the eve of Mardi Gras, almost six months after Hurricane Katrina struck. As you can see around me, there is still so much to be done, so much that still remains in shambles. You're looking at a boat -- a shrimp boat that was picked up by the storm, deposited right here on a street in St. Bernard Parish. They're not sure how they're going to get this boat back in the water. They're not even sure if they will be able to do that ever again.

We're going to show you around here in just a moment, but first, we begin in Iraq tonight, where today a day time curfew has been lifted. And the sectarian violence that's plagued the company the past five days has declined sharply, though it's not disappeared.

There was a mortar attack today and even a bombing outside a Sunni mosque, but the U.S. ambassador to Iraq says the risk of a civil war erupting is no longer there.

If that is the case, the one person who may be responsible the most for the peace is someone who's not exactly in favor with the U.S. CNN's Aneesh Raman explains.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After days of bloody Shia and Sunni violence, worries about an all out civil war here only grew. But tensions have eased a bit and it is largely because of this man, Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

I call for unified prayers, he said on Sunday, among Sunni and Shiites, to include mosques that have been targeted and the ones that haven't.

For al-Sadr, the white hot situation is not only about faith and politics, but it's also personal. After all, the rage began after the Shia's golden mosque was attacked. Not only one of the holiest places for Shia Muslims, worldwide, it is also the sacred burial place of the grandfather and father of the Imam al-Sadr named his militia after. And that's why his call for peace is surprising good news.

JUAN COLE, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Muqtada has a kind of sectarian authority; and among a certain class of Iraqis, especially to get a youth, you know, they would die for him.

RAMAN: Though al-Sadr never completed his religious training and though he's never been elected to office, he's built a populous following among the country's impoverished.

Rooted in the slums of Sadr City, his militia is an army that some say numbers 10,000, with thousands more fighters ready to follow his orders if necessary. A militia better equipped, says a senior Iraqi military officer, than Iraqi Security Forces.

Sadr has long been the country's loudest voice of opposition, speaking, many Iraqis say, for them. But if this all plays well in Baghdad, it is hardly what Washington wants.

From the start of the war, Sadr blasted the U.S., calling it an occupying enemy. In 2004 his fighters left around a dozen American troops dead.

So with his single-minded anti-Western ferocity, Sadr has won credibility -- not only among Shia, but also among some Sunnis. In other words, he's about the last person the White House wants to see as the key to peace in Iraq.

To be sure, the White House says when President Bush made calls to Iraqi leaders to stem tensions, Muqtada al-Sadr wasn't on the call list, because more than anything, he says the key to peace in Iraq is to get the U.S. to get out.

Cut off the head of the snake, he said. That's how to end all evil. We want the occupation forces to leave Iraq. And that's why even with easing tensions, militia leader and to some of his followers, holy leader, Muqtada al-Sadr is at best an unholy alliance for the U.S.


COOPER: Well back here, in the United States, one of the reasons we're here in St. Bernard Parish six months after Katrina, the night before Mardi Gras and still a long way from normal for hundreds of thousands of people, we wanted to come here to show what it is really like here throughout much of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.

Behind me there's a shrimp boat, dropped here by the storm, stuck here since then. It is a bizarre sight, to say the least here. In this community -- a bedroom community, of New Orleans, 45,000 homes in St. Bernard Parish before the storm. There's only about 50 habitable homes here now, say officials. And this shrimp boat is perhaps the starkest reminder of the power of this storm and the devastation that it has left behind.

Not far from where we're standing, there is a cruise ship with evacuees on it, waiting for FEMA housing. Now, they're supposed to be gone tomorrow. The problem is, many have no place to go who are aboard that ship right now.

And as CNN Susan Roesgen reports, they're not going without a fight.


KEVIN CAMPO, ST. BERNARD PARISH RESIDENT: Yes, I had a car port and a deck built out there where we parked, for raining and stuff like that, you know, when it would rain, things like that. And it's blown away.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kevin Campo can't seem to keep a roof over his head these days. First, the hurricane sent six feet of water into his mobile home. Then, he got a room on this FEMA-paid cruise ship. Now the ship is about to sail away and St. Bernard Parish officials can't convince FEMA to let it stay.

MIKE HUNNICUTT, ST. BERNARD PARISH OFFICIAL: I wish there could be something we could do. If we had, you know, a fairy godmother that could pay the bill, you know, that would be wonderful. But I just see no alternative other than to beg to FEMA to keep it here, you know, for the need of the people.

ROESGEN: Parish officials told me they heard FEMA is paying the private owner of this ship extra money to get it out of St. Bernard Parish this week, even though the ship doesn't have any scheduled cruises for three months. The ship's owner didn't return my call, but FEMA denies that charge.

Now, less than 24 hours before they must be off the ship, some of the passengers aren't waiting for a fairy godmother, they filed a federal lawsuit.

MIKE GINART, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: FEMA needs to just go ahead and leave this boat here. It's not a cost problem. It's providing meals, it's providing housing, it's providing computer services, phones. You know, it's a good thing FEMA has done and it seems like all the bad press they get, well this is something good. Let's keep this up. I don't understand what the problem is.

ROESGEN: The lawsuit will get a hearing on Wednesday, but until then, FEMA workers on the ship are trying to find the passengers someplace else to live.

Julius Gibbons helped Wynette Miller (ph) and her two children get into a trailer park.

JULIUS GIBBONS, FEMA REPRESENTATIVE: The most important thing is making sure that everyone has a mobile home or travel trailer. That's the most important thing, And making sure that they're comfortable in that setting.

ROESGEN: Gibbons says that of the 653 people on this ship initially, fewer than 60 still have no place else to go. That includes Kevin Campo, who's been waiting months for a FEMA trailer. He says when the ship leaves, he might have to spend the night in his truck.

KEVIN CAMPO, ST. BERNARD PARISH RESIDENT: I wish it would stay for some more time so we could get straight again, you know, try to get going. But if it doesn't stay, I guess we're on our own and we have to do what we got to do, you know, to survive this.


COOPER: With us now, is Mike Ginart, plaintiffs' attorney, who you just saw in Susan's report.

So you have filed suit. What happens now?

GINART: Well, we'll have a hearing on Wednesday. Unless FEMA decides to give us a call, which we're hoping we might be able to work something out, but I think we'll just be going to court on Wednesday, hoping that the judge will keep FEMA doing something good that they've been doing. And we want to make sure they keep doing it.

COOPER: Well, you know, there are some who are saying, look, you know, it's been nearly six months. There's only -- at a certain point, so much FEMA can do. At a certain point, FEMA has to, you know, pull the plug, try to get these people into more permanent housing.

GINART: Well, this is the poor of the poor mostly and they don't have any other options. We've asked for 9,000 trailers. Six months later, we've gotten a little over 2,000. And now they're going to take the boat away? It just doesn't make any sense.

COOPER: And you said that they didn't even know this was Mardi Gras weekend?

GINART: They had no idea that this was going to be Ash Wednesday that they're going to be kicking everybody out. This boat has a computer for people, it has phones, it has laundry, it has (unintelligible) services, not otherwise available. I mean...

COOPER: So, it's not just a place to live, it's, I mean it's life.

GINART: That's it. And there's no phone system. The government complex has phones and the courthouse has phones. Nobody else has phones. So unless you have a cell phone.

COOPER: You know, I talked to a lot of officials here and they all say the same thing about FEMA. Look, the individuals you meet are nice people, they're trying to do good, the right thing, but they don't have decision-making power on the ground and they keep rotating them, so you're dealing with different people all the time. Is that what you're finding?

GINART: That's exactly what happens. And the people that are making decisions just aren't here. Unless you come here, people in America that think six months, wow, things should be going pretty well, well, it just isn't. I mean, you can see this, there's houses in the middle of the streets. They had a debris contract, but now they won't -- that they approved, and now they're not paying the debris contractor. So, for the last month, there hasn't been a whole lot of debris being picked up because FEMA hasn't paid them.

COOPER: And the debris is all around us right now as we speak here in St. Bernard Parish.

Mike, appreciate you joining us. Thanks.

GINART: Thank you very much.

COOPER: We'll be following that story.

There's a lot more happening around the world. Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for "The Christian Science Monitor," was taken hostage in Baghdad on January 7. Her captors have threatened several times that she would die, but is she now about to be set free? An update on her case, coming up.

Also, New Orleans used to be the biggest city in Louisiana; now, Baton Rouge has that distinction and all the troubles that come with it. We'll visit a place that is filled to bursting.

Also tonight, another piece filled to bursting -- another place, I should say. An animal shelter at capacity and scheduled to close.

From the Gulf Coast, you're watching 360.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (voice-over): Many of these Americans who now are struggling to survive are Americans of color. Their cries for assistance, confront America with a test of our moral compass as a nation.


COOPER: There was a big debate here in New Orleans and in St. Bernard parish, whether or not to have Mardi Gras. Some felt it might be inappropriate or it might send the wrong message to people who are watching around the world, the message being that everything is back to normal. We made sure that we talked to people today, that we would let the world know and America know that things are not back to normal here. So that's why we came to St. Bernard Parish, rather than just broadcasting from Bourbon Street.

And when you go around St. Bernard Parish, I mean, it is so clear that things are not normal. There's virtually no one living here any longer. Thousands of people living in trailers, many more are trying to get trailers. But you can see why. I mean, peoples' homes are still destroyed. Their possessions are laying all around, a little child's guitar, a Santa lawn ornament. And then take a look just inside this house. I mean, this is what just about every house in St. Bernard Parish looks like. You know, and can you imagine coming back to this, I mean, how do you even start to rebuild this? Do you just bulldoze the whole thing?

And then right outside this house, there is this enormous shrimp boat, 63 feet long. It was deposited here by the wind and the water. And when the water left, the boat is just left here, sitting here.

We just got word from a local official, their Army Corps of Engineers is going to try to send down some boat moving equipment from Alaska, maybe try to lift this up and get it back into the water. They think the hull is still viable. It might be able to be saved.

One of the ironies here, though, is while the population in New Orleans has dwindled and nearly evaporated, the population of nearby Baton Rouge has exploded, and that's brought a lot of problems with it.

Candy Crowley reports.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Katrina left this city virtually untouched. Then everything changed -- everything.

How has this new population in Baton Rouge impacted your job on the road?

CRAIG STEWART, ALLIED WASTE: Wow, I tell you, more people -- guess what? You can expect more garbage. So, we are having to put out more trucks, hire more drivers.

CROWLEY: Eighty miles up the Mississippi from New Orleans, lies Baton Rouge, the first port of call for an estimated quarter-million people who fled Katrina. The new hometown for maybe as many as 100,000.

BRENT SEVARIO, MANAGER, PINES MOTEL AND LODGE: I can't keep an empty room long enough to close the door and it's rented.

CROWLEY: Baton Rouge is so full of New Orleanians, it's been called New Rouge, a fusion city, with the good, the bad and the expensive.

MELVIN "KIP" HOLDEN, MAYOR-PRES., EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH: We're having to pick up the additional cost of overtime that's due for firefighters and police officers. We have emergency medical services. All of these agencies are receiving more calls now because of the volume of people.

CROWLEY: Freeways look like parking lots, parking lots are a nightmare, restaurants are check to jowl.

BERNARD RAWLIS, PINES MOTEL AND LODGE: We're supposed to be a family here. So, however long everybody's stressing, I'm stressing with them.

CROWLEY: There are new businesses too, new neighbors, a flavor of New Orleans that makes life look richer and more difficult.

MARGARET SAIZAN, BATON ROUGE RESIDENT: I just want to get back to normal and get back on with their lives. And I think that we also feel bad that we feel that way.


CROWLEY: The Bethany World Prayer Center is reopening for evacuees being evicted from motels, even as the pastor recognizes a community that needs higher power to keep going.

STOCKSTILL: You know grace is what we need when we run out the end of ourselves. It's grace. And people have to ask for grace from the Lord and then from their neighbors.

CROWLEY: That and some more money. Despite double-digit increases in revenues from sales taxes, the strain is enormous.

HOLDEN: At some point we have to come to the realistic thing of just basically saying, well, look, I'm sorry. You know, that's all that we can handle. We are tapped out.

CROWLEY: At its peak, Baton Rouge population 720,000 exploded to close to a million. The area absorbed 1,555 FEMA trailers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day the goose got...


CROWLEY: They reopened two schools and added 78 classrooms throughout the system.

CHARLOTTE PLACIDE, SUPERINTENDENT, EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH SCHOOLS: Six thousand students registered. Assign to classes, ordering textbooks for them, finding (INAUDIBLE) for them, finding pens, pencils, paper, book sacks, uniforms.

CROWLEY: But it is not just that Baton Rouge got more evacuees than any other city, it also got the neediest. Hospitals see a huge increase in underinsured and uninsured patients. Demand for social services has doubled. Staffing has stayed the same.

JACQUELINE MIMS, DOCTOR, BATON ROUGE SOCIAL SERVICES: We're in the social service industry. And so it's not much we can do about it. We service whoever comes through our doors.

CROWLEY: It is enough to keep his honor awake at nights.

What's your biggest nightmare?

HOLDEN: My biggest nightmare is that people living in these renaissance villages or the trailer parks may get to the point whereby they are so frustrated with the system that they will act out. And if they act out and then there's a riot of some sort, then I don't know whether we are prepared to handle that. CROWLEY: There's no play book for this, but the mayor spends far less time on nightmares than daydreams. Baton Rouge will never be the city he was elected to serve a year ago.

HOLDEN: That little sleepy town that was on the Mississippi River will not be that sleepy town any more. We'll be bustling and thriving.

CROWLEY: With a little grace and a lot of money, there is a way to make that work.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Baton Rouge.


COOPER: Well there is encouraging news tonight about an American journalist being held captive in Iraq. There is word today that an Iraqi minister might know where she is. We'll bring you the latest on her case.

Plus, life goes on amid the destruction. How people can celebrate, with the scars of Katrina all around. That and more when 360 continues.




COOPER: Mary Mahoney's, a restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi, drenched by the storm, but rich with personal memories from my own childhood.

BOB MAHONEY, MARY MAHONEY'S SON: I still remember you walking up there, you had a -- you just came from the water park and you had your bathing suit on and a towel around you...

COOPER: I remember that.

MAHONEY: ... and your daddy was sitting right in here, had a...

COOPER: This is the room we ate in.

MAHONEY: Yes, this is the room you ate in.

COOPER (voice-over): At Mary Mahoney's now, dinner is once again being served.

MAHONEY: We opened up November 3, 60 days after the storm. Which was quite a feat when you stop back and think about it.

COOPER: The table where I sat 30 years ago, occupied again.

MAHONEY: This table did -- it did well. We had to clean it up and you know, clean the chairs up, and all the windows blew out and, you know, but it survived. Business is booming and I think Biloxi is on the way back.


COOPER: That was Bob Mahoney, the original owner's son. Mary Mahoney was the original.

Here along the Gulf, where there is so much devastation, it is encouraging to see stories of recovery like that one.

Out of Iraq today, there was an encouraging story of a different kind. One concerning Jill Carroll, an American freelance journalist abducted in Baghdad last month. Her abductors have threatened to kill her. But today we are hearing that the Iraqi government has reason to believe that she is still alive.


COOPER (voice-over): Jill Carroll is by no means safe and by no means free. But now, there's word that she might soon be both.

Though the State Department says there has been no breakthrough in finding the 28-year-old freelance writer, today on CNN, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq says there's reason to be optimistic.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: The Minister of Interior reported perhaps that he knows where she is and that she's alive. And it was also reported that he said that she will be released soon.

COOPER: It's been 51 days since Carroll was abducted and her translator killed on a Baghdad street, as she was working on a story for "The Christian Science Monitor." Three times her kidnappers released videos of Carroll and threatened to kill her if the U.S. does not release all female prisoners in its custody in Iraq.

Late last month, U.S. authorities released five of the nine female prisoners they had in custody, but said the move had nothing to do with the kidnappers' demands. U.S. policy is to not negotiate with hostage takers.

The kidnappers have told Kuwaiti television that Carroll is being held in a safe house in central Baghdad, but her exact location in the congested city and the identity of her abductors are not known.

Iraqi and U.S. officials say if they had specifics, they would have rescued her.

ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPARTMETN SPOKESMAN: This is a case that we care very, very deeply about. This is a case in which no effort is being spared to locate her.

COOPER: Her family is also trying to reach out to Jill's captors, having appeared on Arabic television several times. Many others have appealed for her release, including the Iraqi politician Carroll was planning to meet when she was abducted. Even groups that have been at odds with U.S. policy, including Muslim leaders and the Islamic militant group, Hammas, have called for Carroll's safe return home.

"The Christian Science Monitor" has also been actively working for her release. Today after receiving the report that Carroll is still alive, the newspaper issued a statement, saying quote, "We appreciate the wide ranging efforts being made by Iraqi and U.S. officials to secure Jill's release. We hope that today's encouraging statements about Jill's condition and prospects for safe return are proved correct."

We can now only wait to see if this latest development is a prelude to Jill Carroll's freedom.


COOPER: Ahead tonight on 360, a lawsuit with as many twists as "The Da Vinci Code" itself. How Author Dan Brown ended up in court accused of stealing the ideas behind his mega bestseller.

Also, life in New Orleans six months after Katrina, how things look on the ground and why in spite of it, so many people still want to celebrate Mardi Gras, next on 360.


Dead and Missing

Katrina related deaths in Louisiana: 1,103

Missing people: 1,902




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're hurting bad down here, but we're a resilient people. We're going to come back and we're going to come back just as strong as ever.


COOPER: While no one doubts that people here in New Orleans and here in St. Bernard Parish are resilient people, but resiliency can only get you through so much. Help is what's needed still. A lot of money has come in and there's still a lot -- a lot needs to be done. You get a real sense of that here in St. Bernard Parish.

Take a look where I'm standing on this shrimp boat, which has been brought about four miles by the water and the wind and just plunked down right here in a residential community -- or I should say what used to be a residential community here in St. Bernard Parish. There really aren't that many residents left in St. Bernard Parish -- 45,000 homes before the storm; there's only about 50 habitable homes right now. And this shrimp boat, they're not sure how they're going to get it out of here. I mean it is just sitting here on dry land. They're bringing down some boat movement equipment from Alaska. The hope is that they can maybe get it back in the water, get it working again. I mean, all the equipment is here, as you can see, even behind us, even the shrimp nets are all still in place. There's even a little statue of the Virgin Mary on the dashboard in the captain's room, but the boat is just high and dry here on the land. It is truly a surreal sight here.

There are many surreal sights this week during Mardi Gras celebrations. Some people thought it might be inappropriate to have Mardi Gras, but for the residents here, it's a party they have always thrown for themselves. I asked someone why do you do it, and they say it's just what we do. We didn't forget about Christmas. The celebration is -- they haven't forgotten about what happened here. It's a celebration in spite of everything. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): New Orleans has always been a complex city, gritty, gumbo town, not quite here, not quite there. These days, it's working, but wounded. Bourbon Street is busy, but there's still miles of mud, acres of ruin, no clear plan when or how to rebuild.

(On camera): This warehouse was badly damaged during the storm and it's where a lot of the Mardi Gras floats have been built over the years. It's really eerie, though, coming back here. They're all still just kind of sitting out, memories of Mardi Gras past.

(Voice-over): It's a strange time, perhaps for a party, but New Orleans needs money and its residents need hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thinks are really bad here. People think just because we're having Mardi Gras, that everything's great; and it's been six months, so things must be fine. Things are in a huge mess. Mardi Gras, we're just making believe everything's OK.

COOPER: Make believe is what Mardi Gras has always been about. On Bourbon Street, crowds of college-age kids and those still wishing they were, take part in a raunchy around the clock carnival of chaos, reveling amid piles of trash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm collecting donations.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm collecting donations. It's beer. It's a beer fun!

COOPER: Bourbon Street is mostly tourists, of course. The locals do occasionally stop by.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm currently wearing a tarp that's usually used for a blue roof, and you can make a very nice outfit out of it, as long as you have strategically placed duct tape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) because the time is short. You see, God, Jesus is coming back. COOPER: To Bourbon Street they come. Some, just to make a point; others just want their kids to catch some beads.

Bourbon Street, however, is not what Mardi Gras is really about. At heart, it's a family affair. Sunday night I ride in a parade with Endymion, one of the major carnival organizations. It's Dan Akroyd's float. And I arrived with a half-dozen first responders -- police officers and firefighters, heroes of the storm. It's an experience almost impossible to describe. Tens of thousands of people lined the parade route. Many haven't seen each other since the storm. In the crowd you see young and old, black and white, thousands of faces, a sea of smiles.

(On camera): It's impossible not to keep smiling. You know, you intellectualize what it will be like but until you're actually on the float and you see all these people smiling and screaming, and just so happy. It's a pretty amazing thing.

On the float, your job is to throw out beads, thousands of them, to those screaming out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to throw them up high so they have time to catch it and it doesn't hit them in the face, the eyes. And I love these (unintelligible), these baseball like catches that people do. Like this.

COOPER (voice-over): The only beads people really want are the ones they catch themselves. I find that really telling. The beads that fall on the ground are rarely picked up. They lack the connection, the bond has been broken. After a while, the screaming disappears. So do the crowds. All you see are the faces. You make eye contact with someone, throw them a bead. They say thank you, and you roll on.

Riding on the float late into the night, I realized Mardi Gras is not about the beads or about Bourbon Street. It's about making a connection, one person to another, the present to the past. Like catching the beads, Mardi Gras is an act of luck, a grab of faith, a fleeting moment that lets us all reach out and hope for a better day.


COOPER (on camera): Well, for six months now, life in the Big Easy has been excruciatingly hard. A new CNN/USA Today Gallup Poll tells part of the story. We contacted residents in New Orleans and asked if they are living in the same house as before the hurricane. 55 percent say they are currently living in their former homes; 23 percent who are not back in their homes said they will be able to move back eventually; and more than a fifth, 21 percent say they can never move back.

Those numbers, don't of course, tell the whole story. There are also people in this city, six months after the storm, who are hiding in plain sight.

CNN's Gary Tuchman has found them. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most people go elsewhere when their house is severely damaged in a hurricane. But there are those like 75-year-old Mary Parker, who in essence, are trapped because they don't have the means to leave.

(On camera): So you get $535 a month Social Security, which is about $135 a week and that's all the money you have to live on?


TUCHMAN: Nothing else?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): When Hurricane Katrina walloped her hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi, 130 mile per hour winds tore through her house, ripping holes in the roof, in the walls, underneath; seemingly making it uninhabitable.

(On camera): So this is your bedroom?

PARKER: Yes, it was mine.

TUCHMAN: now, it feels like the house is slanted.

PARKER: Yes, it is.

TUCHMAN: But so it's off the foundation?


TUCHMAN: And you were living in here anyway?


TUCHMAN: And how come you were living in here anyway?

PARKER: Well, we didn't have no other place to go.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): After living in her damaged home for six months, Mary this week has started sleeping in a relative's house. But it's only temporary and she's realizing with no home insurance, her options are extremely limited.

Did you ask the government for help, for a FEMA trailer?

PARKER: Well, they turned us down because we didn't have no flood damage and stuff.

TUCHMAN: To make matters worse, Mary's niece and nephew, who lived nearby, died in the hurricane.

PARKER: They drowned in their home. It was a awful death, they say. TUCHMAN: A despondent Mary called a church group that's helping to fix homes devastated by the hurricane. But after cleaning her home of black mold, the director of the group sadly told her the house would have to be completely rebuilt and the group can't afford to do that


TUCHMAN: Director Judy Bultman says Mary's situation is not unusual in storm-ravaged Mississippi.

BULTMAN: This is very common. Our elderly population are the people that are really suffering. This has been something that has been on my mind.

TUCHMAN: Mary Parker lived in her damaged house with her son and daughter-in-law, who have also now found temporary shelter. They're all aware they've been pressing their luck by staying here.

Were you afraid something bad would happen?


TUCHMAN: What did you think could happen?

PARKER: That if they fall, we'd all be dead.

TUCHMAN: You're afraid the house could fall on you...


TUCHMAN: ... while you were inside of it?


TUCHMAN: Mary's lifelong belongings are now in sheds behind her damaged home. When and if they are put in a new place she can call home, is for now out of her control.


TUCHMAN (on camera): It's hard enough to deal with the federal bureaucracy when you have money and when you have influence, but Mary Parker has neither.

We talked to a FEMA spokeswoman today. She told us she doesn't know who told Mary Parker that because her house wasn't flooded, she couldn't get a trailer; but nevertheless, Mary Parker has not gotten a trailer from FEMA. FEMA tell us they will rigorously investigate the situation.

COOPER: Well, let's keep following up on that one. Because as we know, you know, television coverage does tend to help move things along a little bit. Let's hope it does in this case. You know, you talked to a person from a church group. And, I mean, those people have done so much in Mississippi and here. I don't think they get nearly enough coverage. I mean, just the hundreds of volunteers who on their own dime have come down here and I mean, they've literally saved lives.

TUCHMAN: On any given day, you can see people from all over the country cleaning and helping to fix up homes all over Mississippi and Louisiana.

COOPER: And if you're watching at home, and a lot of people are wondering, you know, if there's anything that you can do, if you can't donate money, you know, you can donate time and come down here. God knows there's enough work to be done. A lot of cleanup work here or in New Orleans. A lot of people are still very much in need. Gary, thanks very much.

Now, we're going go shift gears a little bit now. Coming up, a story about "The Da Vinci Code." The author was in court today. A dispute is flaring over whether a book written decades ago influenced Dan Brown's blockbuster. But even if it did, at what point, if any, does borrowing ideas -- when does that become a question for a judge or jury to decide?

Plus, their owners are gone and their shelter's days are numbered. What happens next to the pets of Katrina? Hundreds of animals looking for a home, even a lizard, when 360 continues.



COOPER: Well Dan Brown, the author of "The Da Vinci Code," was in a London courtroom today. At issue, did he leave something out of the equation? Will he end up sharing credit and compensation for authors' whose work preceded his? With Brown's reputation at stake, we'll get some legal expertise in a bit.

First, from CNN's Tom Foreman, what the case is all about.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three years after "The Da Vinci Code" begin flying off of shelves, and with a movie version coming out this spring, it remains a publishing juggernaut.

The thriller's twisting tale of secret messages, puzzles and hidden religious rites, has captured readers, sold 40 million copies, and made Author Dan Brown famous.

But now, some other authors say they have one more secret to reveal. They say parts of "The Da Vinci Code" were taken from them, and they want Brown to answer for it.

MATTHEW HARRIS, COPYRIGHT LAWYER: The author's involvement is going to be crucial in this particular case because one of the key issues is going to be what he actually did at the time he was writing this particular book. To what extent he did rely or did not rely on the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.

FOREMAN: That is a non-fiction book by Richard Leigh, Michael Baigent and Henry Lincoln, published in 1982. It is mentioned in the "The Da Vinci Code," and the books undeniably share religious themes. But a lawyer for Leigh and Baigent says the relationship is more than casual, that Dan Brown took their research instead of doing his own.

(On camera): Consider this, "The Da Vinci Code" features a great many anagrams, those puzzles where you mix up the letters of one word to form another. Well, a lead character in this novel is Sir Leigh Teabing, a researcher. The two researchers, who say their ideas were stolen, Leigh and Baigent. Mix around the letters of Teabing, and you get Baigent.

And attorney for "The Da Vinci Code" publisher says allegations that Dan Brown stole ideas are completely unsupported by any facts, and scandalous. And big money-making books are often targets for lawsuits. Which, if the author is vindicated, can make them even bigger.

MICHAEL GUBBINS, SCREEN MAGAZINE: This can only sustain the whole Dan Brown myth and he'd want controvacy. If you're an author and you're in the bestselling or blockbuster film business, controvacy is massively important.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And this controversy, less than three months from the movie's premiere, is coming just like it should, in a good thriller, in the nick of time.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: More publicity for "The Da Vinci Code," and for the book, which probably a lot of people never heard of before that other book, published years ago.

So is there really a case here or not? Earlier, we spoke with CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.


COOPER: So, Jeffrey, what about this suit? I mean, Dan Brown has openly admitted to using this book, the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, as a source for inspiration. He's even talked about it in the book. Is it illegal to use someone else's idea?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not at all. You can't copyright an idea. You can't copyright a fact. The only thing you can copyright is expression. So unless this was some kind of plagiarism, which it clearly was not, I don't see how this lawsuit can succeed.

COOPER: There's a, you know, a quote that goes something like, you know, if you steal from one author, it's plagiarism, or if you steal from three, it's research. To what extent can an author use another person's research, as long as they don't use the exact same words, without breaching copyright laws?

TOOBIN: I think they have pretty much a free hand. You know, there's an old saying in literature, good poets borrow, great poets steal. You know, the business of relying on previous sources is a key part of literature. And if we wanted to create litigation, every time authors used the ideas of others, not only would we be swamping the courts, we'd be stifling creativity, because that's what authors do. They get ideas from other authors.

COOPER: I mean, he's also using it in a work of fiction. It's not as if he is passing someone else's research off as his own research. According to the plaintiffs' lawyer, Dan Brown's wife scoured historical texts on his behalf and the lawyer says that, you know, she highlighted markings in a copy of the Holy Blood, that showed that it wasn't, in his words, merely consulted as an incidental reference source. Is there anything to that?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, you know, when Dan Brown admits that he relied on it and looked at it, how much underlining on it, you know, seems irrelevant. The core issue here, it seems, is Dan Brown is accused of stealing the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were actually married and had children. That is not a copyrightable idea.

First of all, it's been an idea that's been in circulation for centuries. And second, even if Dan Brown completely got the idea from this book, that is not something you can sue on. You know, I mean, this just happens all the time. Joe Klein's wonderful book, "Primary Colors," that's based on ideas in Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men." There's nothing wrong with that. That doesn't make Joe Klein a bad author, much less, you know, someone who you can sue. That's what authors do and it's what Dan Brown did here.

COOPER: If Random House were to lose the case, I mean if this thing does go forward, what would happen? I mean, would they actually have to pull this book, "The Da Vinci Code" from store shelves? Would it affect the movie coming out?

TOOBIN: Well, I think basically what would happen is a great deal of money would change hands. This isn't really about pulling the book or pulling the movie. What they want, as most people want in lawsuits is money.

But the precedent is far more disturbing if it were to be brought forward, because every time you had a successful work, anyone who wrote in the same area previously would say, you know, I see my work here. And it would discourage creativity. I mean, the whole idea of copyright, is that it's to promote creativity, not to stifle it. So, that's why I think this lawsuit is basically they're looking at a deep pocket. Random House and Dan Brown have made a fortune off "The Da Vinci Code." And they're looking for a piece of the action, but it certainly doesn't seem like there's any merit to this case based on what I've seen.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, you are so cynical. Thanks very much.

TOOBIN: All right. See you, Anderson.


COOPER: Here in the Gulf, there are still so many pets in need. That story is coming up.

First, Erica Hill, from "HEADINE NEWS," has some of the business stories we're following -- Erica.


A pretty good day on Wall Street, so a good start to the week. Falling oil prices helped to spark a broad stock rally, with the S&P 500 closing just below its 4-1/2 year high. And stronger than expected earnings at several major companies, helped to boost prices as well. Both the Dow and the NASDAQ ending the day in the positive.

The number of unsold homes hit a record high last month. That's according to the Commerce Department. Sales of new single-family homes dropped by 5 percent, leaving 528,000 homes with for sale signs on their front lawns. Now, some analysts say it's a sign the housing bubble is about to burst. Others, not so convinced.

And the former top accountant for Enron's trading division testified today he improperly raided reserves to increase the company's earnings in order to impress Wall Street. And that testimony came in the fifth week of the fraud and conspiracy trial of Former Enron Chief Exec Jeffrey Skilling and Enron Founder Kenneth Lay. The accountant did not say that he was ordered to raid the reserves, Anderson.

Those are your business headlines.

COOPER: All right, Erica, thanks.

Katrina turned an awful lot of people here into victims, of course, and an awful lot of pets into strays. Their owners disappeared in the days after the flood six months ago. Now, what will become of them? That story next on 360.


COOPER: Now, welcome back to the surreal scene in St. Bernard Parish. This shrimp boat which has been deposited by the storm here in a residential community, or what remains of a residential community.

Human beings can usually help themselves and one another as well, but as we saw as the waters rose after Katrina, animals can do neither of those things. They're entirely dependent on people.

Those were some of the scenes that we saw in those terrible days after Katrina. That picture I took myself, that dog in a tree. So many dogs on the roofs of homes, floating on debris, not sure what would happen to them.

They have been taken care of by hundreds of volunteers over these last several months. One of the shelters in particular that we found here in New Orleans is about to shut down, and there are hundreds of animals there, still in need. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Cassie (ph) is one of Katrina's littlest victims. For the last several months, she's lived in a makeshift shelter, along with hundreds of other abandoned animals. Dogs and cats, birds, there's even a monitor lizard.

On Tuesday, however, this shelter is closing. And the volunteers from Best Friends Animal Society, who run it, are desperate to find homes for all the pets.

COOPER (on camera): Is it hard getting these animals adopted?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes. Sometimes it's hard with the pit bulls, sometimes it's hard with the animals that don't look, you know, so pretty.

COOPER: Some animals are particularly difficult to find homes for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Red, and Red is really fabulous.

COOPER: Red was partially paralyzed when he was hit by a car while wandering the streets. He's now in a wheel chair, but it doesn't slow him down. He still loves to play catch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This guy is -- he's friendly to people, he's great with kids. He's great with other dogs, I mean, even with little dogs. This skin condition makes him look a bit funny. And he got that from the water here in New Orleans and all the chemicals.

COOPER: Polluted flood water, lack of food, Katrina was tough on so many of the animals here. Some are still scared from their experiences.

(On camera): So these two don't like to be separated?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, they don't. This is Bobby and that's Bobby and they were found on a construction site...

COOPER: So they're both Bobby?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're both Bobbys.

COOPER (voice-over): Bobby the cat is blind, and follows Bobby the dog by listening for the sound of her collar tags. Juliet (ph), one of the managers of this shelter believes they must have come from the same house. She's hoping to keep them together. Juliet (ph) says the animals who aren't adopted, will be taken in by other shelters across the country or brought back to Best Friends headquarters in Utah. She promises none of the animals here will be put to sleep.

As for Cassie, she's already spoken for.

(On camera): What's going to happen to her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want her -- trust me.

COOPER: And a lot of people want her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she lives with me. She's my little girl and I got her after I had been down here for two days and I took her off the truck myself and she now basically runs my life and I just pay for it. And she's awesome. She has an incredible little spirit. And she is actually a beagle/datsun mix, but we don't say that loudly.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she likes to be known as a pit bull/rottweiler.

COOPER: A happy ending for one little dog. An uncertain future for many others.


COOPER: Well, we wouldn't tell you such a story without also telling you how you can help. In this case to see what you can do about the needy pets in New Orleans, you can visit

"On the Radar" tonight, our story about the two schools, one mostly African American, the other largely white, brought together by the storm. A lot of people writing into the blog.

Frank in Tustin, California, says, "It is a bit sad that in the 21st century it took a disaster to bring these children together. But it is a VERY happy thing that they are finally getting to be in school together and make friends. We can but hope that their children won't have to think about that at all."

And Stan in Baton Rouge, put it this way, "You want to solve the race problems in American then just turn the matter over to our kids and watch them work. Race problems only occur when adults intervene and impose their adult feelings. It's a shame that so many adults pass their hatred on to their children."

Well put.

A lot more ahead, stay with us.


COOPER: Thanks for watching. Join us for a Mardi Gras to remember tomorrow night.

"LARRY KING" is next.


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