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Chilean Miners Send Video Messages to Families; Glenn Beck's Rally Stirs Controversy

Aired August 27, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again from New Orleans.

Tonight: simply remarkable pictures from deep underground -- 33 Chilean miners alive, but now, for the first time, they're also fully aware that they could be down there until Christmas. How will they stay sane? How will they stay healthy? We will tell you about that, about new plans to get them out quicker, how safety problems possibly led to this problem and how problems here in the United States in mines are not being addressed. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also tonight, Glenn Beck gets ready to hold a rally on the day and site where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke the words, "I have a dream." So, would this be Dr. King's nightmare? We are joined by his niece, whose position will surprise you, and the Reverend Al Sharpton.

And we're here in New Orleans, where the folks for Habitat for Humanity are building houses for five families. They started on Tuesday. They will finish tomorrow, 200 people swinging hammers. We will show you their very good work on this, coming up to the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

We get to all of that shortly and of course that remarkable -- remarkable video from deep inside the Chilean mine.

But, first, in light of alleged safety problems there, we wanted to update you quickly on America's worst mining disaster in decades. You will remember 29 coal miners were killed earlier this year in West Virginia's Upper Big Branch Mine, a facility with one of the worst safety records in the country.

A lot of people made a lot of promises back then to make sure nothing like this happens again. "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, we uncovered some very big warning signs, mining companies apparently gaming the system to keep unsafe mines open and regulators not holding the worst mines accountable.

Here is what West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller said back then.


SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Mining is not a safe business, but it can be made safer by people who want to make it safer. And that either comes down to the company trying to do the right thing or it comes down to the federal government toughening up our laws.


COOPER: Well, since then, Senator Rockefeller and others on the House side have introduced new legislation giving federal mine regulators, MSHA -- that's the organization -- more authority to close unsafe mines. The House and Senate, though, have yet to vote on it.

Now, here is MSHA's top coal mine safety official back in April. Listen.


KEVIN STRICKLIN, ADMINISTRATOR FOR COAL MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH, U.S. MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION: I can assure you that no stone will be left unturned. And we will find out the cause of this explosion.

And, quite frankly, the only thing good that can come out of this is to educate everyone, put regulations in place, if needed, to make sure that this doesn't happen again.


COOPER: Well, that was Kevin Stricklin from MSHA. Enforcement has gone up. It's gotten tougher.

But we also uncovered two reports, one of them from a House committee overseeing mine safety detailing 48 mines, Upper Big Branch among them, that it says are avoiding sanctions because MSHA's system for reviewing violations is backlogged.

And knowing this, the report alleges that these companies are challenging every citation they can. The other report from the Labor Department's inspector general says agency inspectors may have overlooked unsafe mines because it lacked the manpower.

In fact, there were orders at MSHA to scrutinize no more than three mines in each local district. And they came from the top, from that same man, Kevin Stricklin. That rule was abandoned several weeks ago. We tried to get in touch with MSHA to see if new procedures are now in place, but have yet to hear back from them. We will keep you posted on that.

Now the view from deep underground in Chile, from a gold and copper mine that Chilean government officials tell us how no -- had no alternate escape route, not even a ladder in the ventilation shaft that 33 miners might have used to reach safety. Instead, they are trapped and may be trapped for months. But they're alive, remarkably, for their wives and children and the whole world to see.

Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Order instead of chaos, humor amidst the horror -- this remarkable new video of the 33 miners trapped in a cramp, sweltering space reveals not only their daily life underground, but the strength of their spirits.

To get the footage, a mini camera was lowered 2,300 feet through a three-inch drill shaft. It's the only way to reach these men and the only way for them to connect to the world above.

One miner narrates the recording. His name is Mario Sepulveda.

"How is everything going? All right?" he asks one man.

"Little by little, we're improving," he replies, "so that the situation becomes more normal, to stand as many days as necessary until they can rescue us."

In the three weeks since they were buried alive, the miners have turned their dungeon of roughly 500 square feet into a makeshift home. There's what the miners call the administration sector.

"Here, we have two guys that are very important people now," he says, "paying attention to organizing our things into this drawer."

In another section, a cabinet area for supplies.

"The electrician took care of everything and has everything well- organized," he says, "getting ready for anything with first-aid kit, alcohol, medicines, deodorant, toothpaste."

We're also shown a picture on a wall of a topless woman nearby a crate where the men play dominoes. The miners have given this area a name.

"This is our casino," he says. "We made up a domino. We have fun at night playing domino."

With the greetings, some lighthearted jokes about what they can't do.

"This guy doesn't want to get out of here," he says, "because then he will have to take a shower."


COOPER: "And this one hasn't taken a shower."

The men rest and sleep here on cots that are in the driest area and where the narrator hints at their suffering.

"Here is my colleague, Galig Guito (ph)," he says. "He's resting comfortably here. We had to put him on this wooden platform because he was having complications. Thank God he is doing much better now."

We see some of the miners are lying down. All the men are shirtless and, as the thermometer shows, are living in 29.5-degree Celsius heat, which is about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In the video, we also learn a diary is being kept. "This is our great writer. He's taking time to write down everything that we have been doing since the moment this situation happened until today."

Work duties are divided and there are different leadership positions, including spiritual leader, given to the oldest of the miners, 63-year-old Mario Gomez. Throughout the video, messages to loved ones, along with a plea to be saved.

"I would like to say hi to my family," this man says. "We're fine. I'm staying calm. Get us out of here, please."

"God bless all of our friends outside working to rescue us," he says. "I send them a big hug and in the name of Jesus Christ, God bless them today and always."

"We want to get out of here," he says. "We're not going to stay down here. We're going to get out of here. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."



COOPER: Trapped together, longing to be free, the miners sing the Chilean national anthem.


COOPER: "Sweet fatherland, accept the vows," they say, "with which Chile swore at your altars. Either the tomb of the free you will be or the refuge against oppression."



COOPER: As we mentioned at the top of the program, since the 33 men were discovered alive six days ago, Chilean officials had decided not to tell the trapped men how long it might take to rescue them. That changed today, when they were told it could take four months.

Hard to believe they would be down there for that long. We're now getting late word this evening that officials are considering what they're calling a plan B to speed up the rescue.

Karl Penhaul is the rescue site in Copiapo, Chile.

Karl, what do you know about this -- this possible change in the rescue timetable?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was the chief of operations that brought up this idea of a plan B. And he said that there was a possibility that they could use one of the bore holes, one of those four-inch holes that is currently being used to drop food, communications and water down to the miners, that that could be the basis, he said, of what would be plan B.

But then, from then on, he declined to give any further details. I talked to another government official. And she said, yes, of course, the idea behind plan B would be to get these men out much quicker than the initial plan.

But, so far, she said, the technicians, the experts are still working on it, and the government is not prepared to give any more details about it just yet, Anderson.

COOPER: Do we know how the miners reacted when they got word that it, you know, could be four months?

PENHAUL: Well, again, the head of rescue operations, a guy called Andre Sougarret, he said that he has explained to them first the details of the rescue operation. He said that, as miners, they fully understood what was going on.

And so, at that point, he said, guys, it could take three or four months before we can get you out. He said that they took it very well. He said that they promised that they would hang on, try and stay strong.

And, in addition to that, they also promised that they would do everything that they could from seven -- from the bowels of the earth there to help with this rescue operation, because, obviously, as the drill goes down, there's going to be a lot of debris around.

And these miners, who have really had almost nothing to eat for the last three weeks, are saying that they are strong enough, they feel strong enough to help with their own rescue -- Anderson.

COOPER: What about the company that -- that owns and operates this -- this mine? I mean, are they paying for this? Why -- weren't -- weren't they supposed to have some rescue equipment? Weren't they supposed to have made some changes to the mine that they didn't do?

PENHAUL: Those kind of debates, in some sense, are on hold, because the lead agency in this rescue operation is quite firmly the government and also its state mining agency, drawing also on -- on a lot of cooperation, a lot of help from other private mining companies.

What we do know about the San Esteban mining company that runs this San Jose mine is that it is in problems. Yesterday, two lawsuits were filed on behalf of 28 of the families against that mining company. Some of the accusations even include attempted murder of the miners.

Why? Because lawyers say that this mine was closed down in 2008. And when the mining company reopened it, they knew it didn't fulfill the basic safety requirements. And government officials also agree. They say that the mine was reopened without applying basic safety aspects, including the two escape routes.

They say that this tragedy could have been avoided and that, really, the courts will decide on the fate for that mining company, Anderson.

COOPER: Karl, stick around. We are going to check in back with you after the break.

We are also going to hear from one of the only people who at least has some idea of what these miners are going to be going through. He is an astronaut who was stranded for months in space in brutal conditions.

Let us know what you think about all this. Join the live chat. It's up and running now at You can talk to viewers around the country and around the world tonight watching right now.

Also tonight, Glenn Beck taking the same stage as Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day 47 years later as the "I Have a Dream" speech. He says it was a coincidence and he is not exactly on the same step as Martin Luther King Jr. was. He says he's anticipating divine guidance. He says the day will be nonpolitical. We will what Al Sharpton, who has -- also has a demonstration or a -- an event in Washington that same day.

And we will talk to Dr. King's niece Alveda, who is actually speaking at Glenn Beck's rally, to have -- to hear her thoughts.

We are going to take you to break with more than just the sounds of Habitat for Humanity volunteers building homes behind me, another joyful noise, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, Kermit Ruffins on the horn, Kevin Morris at the bass, Dewon Scott on drums, Richard Knox on keys.



COOPER: The 33 miners trapped underground in Chile -- the images are just startling from a 25-minute video that they made. It was released on Thursday. It will give us a look of the dark 540-square- foot area that they have been living in.

Chilean authorities have been in contact with NASA officials, who are apparently sending a team, a team of specialists, next week to the rescue site, including doctors, to try to help the trapped men adjust to the -- to the living conditions that they're in.

Joining us now is Jerry Linenger, a former astronaut who knows what that is like. He was trapped for some five months aboard the Russian space station Mir. And back with us also in Chile is Karl Penhaul.

Jerry, you were at the Mir space station when a fire broke out, left you guys stranded, isolated. You were with Russian-speaking astronauts. You had a broken oxygen system for four months.

Take us through what it was like for you and what -- what these miners must be going through just psychologically.

JERRY LINENGER, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: You know, it's interesting, Anderson.

We were up in the heavens there, but, at the one month point, with that big fire, and then from thereafter low oxygen, high carbon dioxide, rationing our water, rationing our food, low power, it almost looked like the photos that I just saw in some of that video of the miners down there, sort of a dark, dingy place at that point.

But we -- you know, up in space, I had the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing the space shuttle was coming at the four-month point. The miners know that the people above are, you know, ground control, if you will, same thing that I was talking to down in mission control. Ground control has them, you know, their best interests in mind. They're working hard.

I'll tell you, after 17 days and that bore hole coming through, that had to be a glorious moment for those people, because, up to that point, they are just in survival mode, scraping along, trying to stay alive, and just hoping the people on the outside are doing everything that they can do to get down to them.

COOPER: Karl, I read some reports that a few of the miners -- I think it was five, I heard -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- seemed depressed, that they didn't want to appear on camera in that video, that they were laying down.

What do you know about that?

PENHAUL: The -- the figure that the health minister has given, according to psychological surveys that are being sent down to the miners, is that three or four of them are showing signs that they're going through a real rough patch, anxiety and signs of depression.

I'm not convinced, though, that that's the reason why some of them didn't wish to talk on camera. I have been talking to some of the family members today. And they say, incredibly, hey, my husband, my brother, my boyfriend is a shy guy, and, when the camera was turned on him, he just kind of shrunk away.

It could be a little bit to do, also, with kind of mining culture here. These are kind of craggy, tough guys, and not used to exposing their emotions too much, either on camera or on paper in messages to their families -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jerry, you talked about the knowledge that the space shuttle was coming four months from -- from -- you know, from the date that you had a lot of these problems.

Obviously, they -- these miners -- these are experienced miners. They know now it's going to -- it can take up to four months. They know the difficulties that they're in.

But the fact that they are experienced and that they are together, that is certainly a good thing. I mean, it's easier having...

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: ... 33 people around you, I'm assuming, than being with just one or two people.

LINENGER: It makes all the difference in the world.

In my case, I'm with two Russians. They speak no English, broken-down communication system. And, Anderson, I'm an old Naval officer, been out in submarine, aircraft carriers, but I have never felt so cut off, isolated, you know, removed from mankind, as I did during that five-month mission on Mir.

These guys have -- you know, each miner has 32 other miners around them. That's -- that's a big bonus. The other big bonus is, they have already gone through that 17 days of survival, and, you know, using backhoes to scrape some water out, rationing the food, working methodically to stay alive.

And, so, you -- you earn the trust of the other people down there. They know they can depend upon each other. Earlier, you were talking about possibly speeding this up with a plan B. I will tell you, the key thing is to tell them the worst-case scenario, which they did -- it looks like about four months -- because, psychologically, you can dig yourself out of that hole, and say, man, I thought they were coming next week, but it's going to be four months, you can do that maybe once, but trying to do that repeatedly is very, very difficult.

COOPER: And, Karl, very briefly, they're in a very small, confined space. But do they have access -- I mean, I read that there are, you know, miles of tunnel. Do they have access to -- to more tunnel if they want to, you know -- I mean, it sounds ridiculous -- but go for a walk or, you know, kind of get out of the immediate area that they're living in?

PENHAUL: Yes. I think that's one of the pieces of good news that we can glean from that video that came out of that hole yesterday, that, yes, the shelter, which is -- is the hardest, most safe part of that tunnel, is only 500 square feet, about the size of a living room.

But, quite clearly, they have access to tens of yards, if not possibly hundreds of yards of -- of wider tunnel. And that tunnel is big. Make no mistake about it, because at one point, we see either a truck or backhoe coming up through that tunnel. It looks to be about four or five yards wide. And it's as high as well.

So, yes, they do have more area to do other activities, whether it's leisure activities or work activities. They also have that area for sanitary facilities and also, as you say, to exercise and literally stretch their legs, Anderson.

COOPER: Karl Penhaul, appreciate the reporting. We will continue to check in with you.

And, Jerry Linenger, appreciate it as well for your -- telling us your experiences in space. Thanks. LINENGER: Pleasure.

COOPER: Want to bring in Chad Myers now, who has been looking into two things for us, one, the mechanics of rescuing these men, and the mechanics of 33 people living month after month in this 535- square-foot area.

Chad, you know, earlier today, you -- you set up a -- a demonstration earlier, but, before we get that, just show us a little bit of -- of -- of where this mine is.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This mine is 2,300 feet below the surface.

And, Anderson, I remember your reporting of the coal mine disasters in -- in Pennsylvania and -- and West Virginia and the like. This is different. This is a deep mine.

Coal mines, anthracite coal mines in Pennsylvania 200 to 300 feet down, maybe up to 1,000, really, if you're really getting down there. This mine is 2,300 feet below the surface.

What I have noticed, though, in the pictures, the men have room to stand. In an anthracite coal, in a coal seam mine, this would be only three or four feet high. There would be no way that these men could even stand up, could exercise. Their -- their muscles would be just complete in atrophy by the time this was done.

So, this room literally will save their life. This room will save their sanity, for another thing. This is the size -- 3.2 inches, that's the size of the hole that they have drilled. And people are saying, why they just can't build -- get a bigger one. Why -- well, they drilled that in a couple of days. What's going to take so long to get 24 inches?

You have to understand the amount of rock that's going to come out of a hole that's this big, compared to a hole that's only this big. Plus, this is not some old piece of dirt that they're drilling through. This is stone. This is stone, part of the Andes mountain range that would go up like this because of the plates crashing from the Pacific and into the Andes plate.

So, this rock is much more unstable than the land and the rock that would be in the Appalachian coal seam. They have to be very careful not to collapse this room on the men. And I believe they're going to do that. They're going to be very careful, even though the original pipes went into this room, I believe the rescue pipe may not be, may be removed a little bit. In case there is a slight cave-in, it won't be caving in on the men that are in that room -- Anderson.

COOPER: And -- and -- and this room is really the safest part, even though there's other areas of the tunnel that they could go to or walk to, perhaps.

Earlier today, I know you set up the demonstration to show us roughly what 33 people in an area that size might feel like. MYERS: Well, you know -- OK. You put 33 people in an air- conditioned room with water and food and television, that may not be so bad.

But, all of a sudden, you put the men into a room that is no bigger than really a very large living room, 500 square feet -- there you go -- you put all these men in the same place. They're not bathing. They're not showering. They're getting irritated. They haven't had enough water. Now they do, thank goodness.

But this is a living condition problem, especially in 85 degrees. Now, they have been pumping fresh air down. Yesterday, this room was 95 degrees. So, they have been able to take and get cooler air down to the men. And that's helped out significantly.

But there you go. That's what 33 people look like in a large living room, not much room to stretch out, but at least they have these shafts to walk around in. And when they get some light to these guys down there, that's going to make it feel less like this dungeon, but more like a space they're just going to have to live with.

COOPER: Yes. They're also talking about sending movies and -- and stuff down.


COOPER: But, again, even sending stuff down, they have to be very careful. And it is that small hole they can always send stuff to.

Chad, I appreciate it. Interesting to visualize it like that. Thank you.

Coming up tonight: Glenn Beck says his rally tomorrow at the Lincoln Memorial will reclaim the civil rights movement. We will talk to the Reverend Al Sharpton, who disagrees, as well as Dr. King's niece Alveda, who is speaking at Glenn Beck's rally.

Also tonight: the incredible Habitat for Humanity volunteers behind me making dreams come true down here, rebuilding New Orleans one home at a time, and the music of Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers.

We will be right back.



COOPER: Here in New Orleans' Seventh Ward, five years after Katrina, Habitat for Humanity is holding a build-a-thon. Over five days, more than 200 volunteers are building five new homes for five families. Two of them are right behind me. Work started on Tuesday.

This is time-lapse video of the progress that they have made so far. They have built more than 300 homes so far in New Orleans over the last five years.

I want to introduce you to the foreman of this job.



COOPER: Hey, Scott, how are you?

POINTER: Hi. Nice to meet you.

COOPER: Nice to meet you. Thanks so much for -- for doing this.

POINTER: No problem.

COOPER: So, you have been a foreman for how long?

POINTER: About a year-and-a-half now.

COOPER: OK. And how many homes have you built?

POINTER: Since I have been with New Orleans, about 100 homes.

COOPER: Wow. But, overall in, the last five years, Habitat has built some 300 homes here.

POINTER: Just at this affiliate, yes, we have built over 300 homes since the storm.

COOPER: That's amazing.

So, how -- how quickly can you put up the house? I mean...

POINTER: On average, it takes us about three weeks. This weeks, we're putting in a lot of more effort, so -- a lot more effort -- so, it looks like it's going to take us about a month-and-a-half to finish the five homes that we have under construction this week.

COOPER: So, when did this home get started?

POINTER: We started with the floor system on Tuesday morning.

COOPER: Wow. On Tuesday morning?

POINTER: Tuesday morning.


And how many volunteers -- here are some of the volunteers over here.


POINTER: Here's some of our great AmeriCorps volunteers.

COOPER: From AmeriCorps. POINTER: On average, we're about 40 volunteers per house, 200, to 250 volunteers on the five houses that we're working on.

COOPER: Uh-huh. It's got to be remarkable feeling to, I mean, see the progress that you make.

POINTER: Oh, it's immensely rewarding and enjoyable, especially working with the volunteers, them coming down, giving their time and their energy to an organization and to a city and homeowners that they have never met.

COOPER: And how do you -- I mean, people don't need to have construction experience to volunteer, do they?

POINTER: No, not at all. Most of our volunteers actually have no construction experience whatsoever, never swung a hammer before in their life.


COOPER: Uh-huh.

POINTER: And we have some great site supervisors out here that are able to teach the volunteers the different projects and tasks that we're doing.

COOPER: Can you walk us through a little bit of the house? What -- this will be the living room, obviously.

POINTER: Yes. We have roughly 15 different house plans. Most of them are three-bedroom, one bath. This is our living room. Over here, it's going to be our dining room, kitchen area.

COOPER: Uh-huh.

POINTER: And then back here, as we go, we have the three different bedrooms with the bathroom, laundry room and washroom.

COOPER: And do you -- is the family already selected who is going to be living here?

POINTER: Yes, they are.

COOPER: Uh-huh.


COOPER: And do you actually -- do you meet them? Do you get to -- do you work with them?

POINTER: Yes. They're actually required -- they're our partner families. They are required to do 350 hours of sweat equity...

COOPER: Uh-huh.

POINTER: So, coming out here, working on their house, working on their neighbors' houses, so, that way, they can learn more about their house and how it's constructed, so, down the road, if they have any problems, they're able to hopefully fix some of the problems that they have with their house.

COOPER: And if somebody is watching us and wanted to volunteer, how do they go -- I mean, how -- what -- what is the commitment, the time commitment?

POINTER: A lot of our volunteers come for a day or a week. We have had some great volunteers that have been down here for months at a time. But we have a lot of volunteers that will just come for a day.

And, so, if they want to volunteer, just contact Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, and we can get them in touch and get them out here.

COOPER: Scott, appreciate it.

POINTER: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Nice job.

Let's check in with Alina Cho, who's got "360 Bulletin" with some of the other headlines we're following -- Alina.


As you take a look back at Hurricane Katrina, forecasters are keeping a close watch on Hurricane Danielle. It is now a powerful Category 4 storm with winds approaching 135 miles per hour. Right now, the storm is in the middle of the Atlantic. It's expected to pass east of Bermuda tomorrow night.

A homecoming in Boston today for the American released from North Korea. Former president, Jimmy Carter, traveled to North Korea to negotiate the man's freedom. The man was sentenced to eight years hard labor for illegally crossing over into North Korea from China.

On Wall Street, a Friday rally sends the Dow up 165 points. That's even after Fed Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke bluntly acknowledged the U.S. economic recovery has lost steam. But he said the central bank has policies in place to support continued growth.

And at the Bangkok airport, take a look at this. Smuggling an endangered animal, something you really have to see to believe. A baggage scan apparently detected that two-month-old tiger cub inside a suitcase, Anderson. The tiger, no surprise, was found sedated. Officials are trying to figure out exactly where that cub came from.


CHO: That's one way to avoid that extra baggage fee.

COOPER: Thank goodness they found it.

CHO: Exactly.

COOPER: Thank goodness they found the little -- little baby. All right. Alina, thanks.

Still ahead, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta in Pakistan, getting a firsthand look at the aftermath of a devastating flood: millions of people suffering from hunger, disease. And now the Taliban is threatening foreign aid workers.

Also ahead tonight, Glenn Beck says it's a coincidence his massive rally at the Lincoln Memorial is happening on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. He's also saying he wants to reclaim the civil rights movement. We'll talk to Reverend Al Sharpton about that and also Dr. King's niece, who's speaking at the rally tomorrow. She joins us, along with the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Stay tuned. A lot more ahead.


COOPER: Well, as you probably know, Glenn Beck is holding what he calls a Restoring Honor rally tomorrow. He says it's nonpolitical and honors America's service -- service members. It's being held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Beck said he picked the date without initially knowing it's the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

He's since drawn a link between King's legacy and the rally. Listen to what he said on his radio show back in May.


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This is a moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement. It has been distorted and so turned upside down, because we must repair honor and integrity and honesty first. I tell you right now.

We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and, damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place.


COOPER: Well, Beck saying he wants to reclaim the civil rights movement. That's obviously caused a lot of controversy. Sarah Palin will be speaking at the event tomorrow. So will -- so will Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She joined me earlier along with the Reverend Al Sharpton.


COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, Glenn Beck says that he is reclaiming the civil right's movement, saying, "Look, African-Americans don't own Martin Luther King Jr." What's wrong with that? REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: There's nothing wrong with saying that. I don't think anybody owns Martin Luther King: blacks, whites, anything. I think he's a universal figure.

I think that what I have said to Mr. Beck is that, if he's saying he's reclaiming it, then reclaiming it in what way? Clearly, when you deal with the inequalities that exist, and we need to bring the country together, then to say you're going to reclaim it, you cannot do that by saying, "We don't need government. We need to go back to states' rights," because the original March on Washington was to call on government to protect people's civil rights. That's why it was in Washington, and that's why most of the speech Dr. King gave that day and other speeches were appealing the government to do the exact opposite of what is being said today by Ms. Palin and Mr. Beck in that area.

COOPER: Ms. King, what about that? Do you believe that Glenn Beck is reclaiming the civil rights movement?

ALVEDA KING, REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.'S NIECE": Anderson, I've heard Glenn say that he's reclaiming America. I've not heard him say that he's reclaiming...

COOPER: Well, if you watched this show you would -- well, he said that on his program.

KING: OK. Well, he told me the name of the rally. We're reclaiming America and restoring honor. And I believe that we do that with faith, with hope, with charity, and honoring our brothers and our sisters as we honor each other.

COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, I mean, what's wrong with -- you support Glenn Beck's right to hold this rally, don't you?

SHARPTON: I don't see anything wrong if they want to honor America and the virtues that were set. But I think that very clearly, Glenn Beck has now said he was reclaiming civil rights, which is a different set of defining terms.

And I think that if, in fact, he's saying that he's going to reclaim the civil rights movement and, in fact, use civil rights, then I think we have the right and those of us that are in the civil rights movement today, to say what does that mean when what you and others that are speaking -- I'm talking about Ms. Palin, what does that mean? Because when you've advocated states' rights, that seems the opposite.

Now, you know, let me say this. Dr. King and I, we know each other. I have a lot of respect for her. She's done my radio show. I have no conflict with that at all.

KING: Same here.

SHARPTON: And I think she and I can always have a family discussion where we agree or disagree.

KING: That's true. SHARPTON: I'm just raising the point of what Mr. Beck said about civil rights. And Martin III and all of us that will be marching tomorrow are not marching against Glenn Beck. We're marching about -- blacks, whites and others will be marching tomorrow about civil rights and disparities today. That's not what Alveda is saying they're doing.

KING: And you know what? I don't have to reclaim the civil rights movement. I'm part of the civil rights movement. I marched in the '60s. I went to jail. My dad, Reverend A.V. King's home, our home was bombed. Daddy's church was bombed. And so, you know, I've been accused of hijacking the dream. Well, the dream is in my genes.

COOPER: Well, Reverend Sharpton, do you believe that Ms. King is being used?

KING: I don't think that Mrs. King -- first of all, Mrs. King has very passionately talked about a lot of issues that I'm sure she'll talk about tomorrow. And that's -- and she'll do it on my platform or anyone else's platform. And it would be arrogant of me to talk about her being used. I think she speaks for herself.

I am very clearly questioning a partner she says she's not dealing with the politics of the civil rights aspect that Beck and Ms. Palin is raising. So I'm not going any further than that, because that's the only thing that I've raised.

COOPER: Well, Ms. King, the event that your uncle spoke at 47 years ago, I mean, it was called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. That does sound kind of like, you know, a desire for some form of big government intervention that clearly Glenn Beck is opposed to.

KING: Well, the greatest intervention will not come from government. It will still come from God. And I put my confidence in God and not government. And so that is my position.

We have to look to God and hope that the hearts and the compassion of the people who govern will line up and that we will care about each other and about the least of these. And we do that with faith, with hope, with love or charity. And do it with honor.

COOPER: Reverend Sharpton and Alveda King, as well, thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

KING: Thank you so much.


COOPER: Coming up next on the program, sea of suffering, growing fears in the aftermath of the deadly flooding in Pakistan. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on one of the hardest-hit areas tonight. His report ahead.

And later, thankfully on a very different note: saving New Orleans, how the restaurant industry is growing here five years after Katrina. We'll talk to the great chef John Besh.

But first more from Kermit Ruffin's The Barbecue Swingers.



COOPER: In Pakistan, many fear the situation after epic flooding could be getting worse. According to the U.N., an area larger than England has been swallowed up by the rising waters. More than 17 million people are now affected. Hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings damaged or destroyed, and about a million men, women and children have been displaced by the flooding.

Now, earlier today, we learned all of this. And there appears to be no end to the suffering. A canal that supplies drinking water to the city of Karachi has apparently been breached earlier today. This happened near Thatta city. We're told the national highway has been flooded.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in the region -- in that region tonight. He's going to join us shortly. First, here's a report on the disaster.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fighting chance here in Sinth (ph), Pakistan. It is all they could hope for. Ray Machacha (ph), a farmer, didn't get any warnings until the floods came.


(voice-over) "We just ran," he says. He grabbed his wife. He grabbed his kids. He ran. They took all they could. You're looking at it here. You see, they are staggeringly poor, but they wanted a fighting chance, and escaping the flood, they thought they made it.

"She started to get a fever. She couldn't keep anything down. She had lots of belly pain." She's talking about her 3-month-old daughter, Benazir. A few days later, she describes the same exact thing happening to her son, 2-year-old Wazira (ph).

(on camera) They brought both Benazir and Wazira (ph) here to Civil Hospital. Doctors right away knew that these children were sick. With such limited resources, there's only so much they could do. Let's take a look.

Two to three patients per bed in this hospital. Do you have enough beds? Do you have enough resources?

DR. G.R. BOUK, PAKISTAN CIVIL HOSPITAL: No. There is no resources because of the huge population in Sukkur and there are some populations around other areas all coming to this hospital.

GUPTA (voice-over): The problem: bad water everywhere. With not enough good, clean water to go around -- well, many, too many have started to drink this. Millions of people. Diarrheal illness, cholera, dysentery, typhoid.

(on camera) What are the chances this child is going to survive?

BOUK: I think 50. Fifty percent chance.

GUPTA: Fifty-fifty?

BOUK: Fifty-fifty.

GUPTA (voice-over): Wazira (ph) and Benazir wouldn't get that fighting chance. This is their obituary. They didn't even make it to the hospital. Both children died on the way there. Two-year-old Wazira (ph) weighed just eight pounds and 3-month-old Benazir just two pounds.

(on camera) I don't want her to cry. It's OK. See, her belly is very distended. That's the problem. It's hard. It doesn't really push in.

I've given some formula so she can keep some calories down. And they give her medicine as well, mainly for nausea but, really, no antibiotics, which is concerning. Because that's one of the biggest problem here: people are getting infections.

Ola (ph) and Ranik (ph) are just two of the millions affected by the floods. This is their new normal: living among dozens of strangers on mats. Incredible, unimaginable loss. Two children dead in just one week. But now their mission, to not lose another child, to save this child, Gudi (ph). She is already sick. And she wants to give Gudi (ph) a fighting chance.


COOPER: Sanjay, you're in a region where a million people are being evacuated due to new flooding. How bad is the situation? I mean, I can't imagine anything worse.

GUPTA: Yes. It is really hard to describe. I think the pictures really tell the story here, Anderson, as you know.

The area we're in is hard to get to. It is just outside Karachi, an area called Thatta, where you're absolutely right. Hundreds of thousands of people are evacuating this area over time.

You can see behind me -- I don't know, Anderson, how well you can make this out, but those are people's homes literally submerged in water. And all the water that you see out there, it might look like a lake, even the ocean to some people. None of that water is supposed to be there, Anderson. That gives you an idea. That was farm land. That was people's homes. That was people's livelihoods. All of that is gone.

In this particular area that we are in now, there's about 350 families that just refuse to leave. They're trying to find the highest ground around this area, and they're staying. Why? Because they really have nowhere to go. That's their farmland. They still have livestock here, as well. If they leave -- they leave that, they essentially left everything. So, they're staying. and they say it could be up to two years before they can get back in this area and start their lives again, Anderson.

COOPER: And stunning to think that Pakistan Taliban is now threatening to kill foreign aid workers who are there, trying to help.

Sanjay, stay safe. Appreciate the reporting. We'll have more from Sanjay over the weekend.

Of course, more from New Orleans tonight. Something to make you smile after a short break. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Looking there at some home-building volunteers from Habitat for Humanity hard at work. Now some home cooking.

Just wouldn't be fair to talk about the incredible rebirth of New Orleans without mentioning the food. The city is a Mecca for the best chefs in the country. Restaurant workers endured Katrina, the BP spill, and have continued to serve up some of the finest food on earth.

John Besh is one of the best, a star chef who owns six restaurants in New Orleans, including the great restaurant August, Besh Steak, and American Sector. He joins me now.

Thank you so much for being with us. You were in New Orleans when the storm hit. You saw the devastation.

JOHN BESH, CHEF: Thanks for calling me...

COOPER: And you started -- yes. Well, it's pretty cool outside. So, you saw the impact and you started working, feeding rescue workers in the wake of the storm when the restaurant itself was closed down.

BESH: Right. I think that, you know, all of us across the country saw a need. We thought to ourselves, what can we do to help? And well, we were here, and my restaurant did not flood. And so we had the ability just to get out there earlier and help people. And that's what we did.

This really turned out to be a blessing, because it -- that enabled us to really basically rebuild our restaurant as a cornerstone of this little community. And then from there we kind of went out, ventured into the Treme (ph) and other neighborhoods and worked with Habitat on many, many projects. And it's really been a blessing to see the country and see the city really come together to basically give a rebirth to New Orleans.

COOPER: And how is business now? I mean, you know, we've been trying to get across to people, A, that the seafood is safe to eat and, B, that New Orleans is more than open for business in the wake of the oil spill, that there's more restaurants, in fact, than before the storm. How is business now?

BESH: You know, we're so blessed to be a very resilient city. We've gone through all this. I don't need any more trauma. We really don't.

But we're doing great. This has been the best summer that we've had in a long, long time. And I feel guilty almost saying that.

We've had our challenges. This oil spill is still very ambiguous. We don't know what these long long-term effects are. But it's important right now to realize that that seafood is highly scrutinized right now at the dock level. So, whatever makes it to the market is perfectly safe to eat. We need to support our domestic fisheries, big time.

COOPER: Yes. I've been out to the places where the shrimpers actually bring in the shrimp to the distributors, and I mean, they soak it in water, see if there's any oil. There are smell tests that are done. They're very, very careful. No one wants, you know, to make sure it's safer more than the people who are actually fishing it in these waters every day.

Why is New Orleans such an amazing place for food? I mean, it's -- is it the mix of cultures that are here? I mean, the food here is unlike anywhere else. And it's just -- I feel like block for block, there are more amazing restaurants than in any other city I've ever seen.

BESH: You know what's really special, Anderson, is that this is an indigenous culture, and the expression of that culture is found in both its music and its cooking. And you can't find that anywhere else. It really doesn't transport well to other areas. What you have here is really special.

And a lot of it has to do with these coastal communities that have supplied us for years with the most incredible seafood. But it's just not that. It's like all these cultures coming together in this virtual gumbo pot of -- of culture that we have today as this Creole, New Orleans culture. Love it.

COOPER: Well, John, August and, I mean, all your restaurants are amazing. I appreciate you being with us tonight. And hopefully, folks who are here will, you know, try to get a table. I'm not sure. It might be tough. But it's well worth the effort or the wait, if they've got to wait.

John, thank you so much.

BECK: Hey, Anderson, thank you so much. Y'all have a -- you're doing a great thing. Thanks for being in my city. We appreciate it.

COOPER: Well, it's great to be here. There's so many great restaurants here. I mean, John's restaurants are really extraordinary. Some of my other favorites: Stella! Bryson's (ph), kind of a family-run place. Not a lot of people know about it. A lot of locals known about it, for po-boys. You've got to go to Domalise's for lunch. It's -- it's one of the best places around. Stella's, Stanley's, so many great places. K-Paul's.

CNN's special report, "Sudden Fury: Katrina's Deadly Wake," is next. We want to leave you tonight, though, with more of the sound of New Orleans, the hammering from Habitat for Humanity and also the music. Trumpeter extraordinaire Kermit Ruffins and The Barbecue Swingers. Drummer Dalon (ph) Scott; Richard Knox on keyboards; Kevin Morris on bass. Take it away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hurricane Katrina is aiming our way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have about 36 hours now to understand how serious this storm is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, Earl! Come on.