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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Houston Under Water; Arizona Wildfire; Al Gore's Global Warning; Global Warming Fact Check; Child Soldiers; New Orleans Murders; Backyard Border Battle; Losing the Wheels

Aired June 19, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we begin tonight in Houston, Texas, where National Guard troops are standing by with trucks and helicopters and boats, ready to help if more rain -- heavy rain, I should say, hits the city overnight.
Forecasters say that is a very real possibility. Folks there have seen enough already. Intense storms today -- I don't know if you've seen these pictures today. Unbelievable -- dumped nearly a foot of water on Houston. Southern part of the city got the worst of it. There was a state of emergency there.

The mayor surveyed the area by helicopter, says he saw "block after block after block flooded." That's a quote.

CNN's Jonathan Freed now reports from Houston.


JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was enough to close freeways, submerge cars, even police cruisers and cut off access to Hobby Airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The good news is that the heavy flooding was localized. You saw the weather pattern. There's some neighborhoods that got hit hard. But other neighborhoods are safe and dry.

FREED: Firefighters fought this fire at an abandoned oil refinery, caused by the flooding. And they rescued more than 400 people. Many drove into water, thinking they could make it through, but were stranded.

Some were stranded on the roof of the YMCA. Authorities used dump trucks to move some people to safety. Water stood three to four feet deep in some areas, entering some homes.

(On camera): Just east of downtown Houston, in a part of town called White Oak, the area behind me is normally swampy. But take a look at what it looks like now. It looks like a river. We've been watching debris floating down here. We're estimating that the current is moving between five and seven knots.

And if you look over there at the supports of that roadway, you can get a sense of the strength of the current. And you can see that the high watermark at one point was clearly several feet above where it is now. (Voice-over): Medical experts on local radio stations urged people to stay out of the flood water, warning it could make them sick.

After about four hours, the water receded from hard-hit areas, reopening freeways and allowing access to the airport.

But as the day ended, concern that any rain overnight could cause more problems.

Jonathan Freed, CNN, Houston, Texas.


COOPER: It is a mess. Joining me now from Houston with the latest on the storm is Mary Benton of Affiliate KPRC.

Good evening.

MARY BENTON, KPRC CORRESPONDENT: Well good evening, Anderson. The rain has stopped for several hours now. But as you can see behind me, there are still intersections just like this one all over Houston that remain flooded.

Earlier today, it was very chaotic. It was just plain crazy as the rain was coming down. There were cars stalled, trucks stalled all over town in that rising water. Intersections where people literally could not get through. They took their chances. Some of them, the big trucks were able to get through, but for the most part, some of the cars and even some of those trucks did stall out.

It seems like the only people who could get any joy out of this, of course, were usually the kids who were playing in some of that water. Other people, who were on rafts, if they were not getting joy out of it, they were using those rafts to sort of navigate their way through neighborhoods because once the rain started falling and the water started rising on these streets and intersections became flooded, for the most part that was the only way that people could get around.

As you probably know now, schools were closed. The mayor urged people not to go to work if they were sort of the nonessential personnel. We are hoping though that schools will open tomorrow and people will be able to get to work tomorrow as well.

Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the day happened at a facility that we call the Cossaboom YMCA here in Houston. It's a facility that does provide shelter for men in need. But it was early this morning as the water started rising on the nearby freeway, that many of those men left their dorm rooms and sought refuge on the rooftop. They were concerned that the water would get that high because it already flooded out the basement, it flooded out the first floor, destroying furniture, destroying computers. In the basement they have all of their exercise equipment. And it was completely covered. You could take about three steps and then you couldn't go any further because of the high water. The YMCA officials are telling us that there was probably about $2.2 million worth of damage in that one building alone.

They are comparing this to Tropical Storm Allison. They say that five years ago when Tropical Storm Allison hit this city really hard, things were really bad. But this time, it was even worse. The good news, though, is that those people on the rooftop were saved, they were rescued.

COOPER: And at least for now the rain has stopped.

Mary Benton, appreciate your report. Thanks very much.

They could use the rain, though, in Arizona. Wildfire there has scorched more than 1,100 acres just north of Sedona. Take a look at some of those images. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been under a mandatory evacuation as high winds and hot temperatures are actually fueling the flames.

Michael Watkiss from Affiliate KTVK joins us now from Sedona with the latest there.

Michael, what are you seeing?

MICHAEL WATKISS, KTVK CORRESPONDENT: Well, all eyes on the mountains at this moment, Anderson. There's an old Grateful Dead song, "Fire on the Mountain." That would certainly be appropriate theme music for our setting here.

As the number one priority fire in this country, the 1,100 acre Brins fire continues to burn atop Wilson Mountain, just on the outskirts of the well-known tourist destination Sedona, Arizona.

This is a fire literally burning among some of Arizona's scenic crown jewels. Of course, the Red Rocks of Sedona, known worldwide. Also threatening a beautiful secluded little area known as Oak Creek Canyon.

Four hundred homes and businesses in Oak Creek Canyon evacuated. Another 100 homes here in Sedona evacuated. About 1,000 people involved all day long.

Because of the rugged terrain, this has been an aerial assault. Primarily fixed wing and helicopters dumping water and slurry atop this mountain, trying to keep this fire from slopping over here into Sedona or over into the Oak Creek area.

And again, this is really one of the most beautiful scenic areas in this entire beautiful state of ours, so everybody's very nervous. Big-time fire crews now on the scene, almost 500 personnel battling this fire.

And sort of a bitter piece of information today. Confirmed that this was human caused. Apparently some transients camping in the forest, there have been fire restrictions for several weeks now. But apparently some guys burning a fire set all of this. A lot of people still evacuated hoping to get some containment by tomorrow.

COOPER: Michael, any sense of how many people are fighting this fire right now or how many have actually been evacuated?

WATKISS: Well, we've got 1,000 evacuated, Anderson. Last we understood -- we're about to get another briefing. And about 400 and change fire personnel fighting this. Again, primarily from the air, but they do have hot shot crews up on top of that mountain. I don't know if you can see it, but it's on fire as we speak.

So, still another tense night here in Sedona, Arizona.

COOPER: And do they feel they have it contained, or are they still sort of responding to it?

WATKISS: Still coughing from some smoke, Anderson. I can tell you that really we've heard nothing about containment today. It worked pretty well, it was a good day for firefighters, really got hung up on top of that mountain. But if it goes on either side, here it's going to come down to Sedona; it goes on the other side, it goes into Oak Creek. So, it's trouble either way.

COOPER: Michael Watkiss, appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much. And quoting the Grateful Dead, what more can you ask for?

Wildfires burn an average of 5 million acres every year in the United States. They're a disaster that by design move very quickly. Here's the raw data.

Once a wildfire begins it can spread as fast as 14 miles an hour. Unlike humans, wildfires usually travel uphill much faster than actually downhill. That's interesting. The steeper the slope, the faster the fire travels. Wood will burst into flames when it reaches 572 degrees Fahrenheit, no sparks need.

Extreme weather is often pointed to as evidence of global warming. Whether or not human activity is causing global warming, this much is certain -- Al Gore believes it is and he has been sounding the alarm since at least 1982. Back then he was a congressman. Today the former presidential candidate is the force behind a new documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

His film maintains that global warming is happening. And like Greenland, the time to act is melting away.


COOPER (voice-over): Six years ago, who would have guessed that Al Gore would become a movie star. But losing an election has allowed him to focus on what he calls the greatest crisis we've ever faced -- global warming. A problem he says that transcends politics.

(On camera): You term this a moral issue, not a political issue, not a national security issue, a moral issue. Why moral?

AL GORE (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: If we in this generation, alive right now, decide to continue dumping these enormous quantities of global warming pollution into the earth's atmosphere, in spite of the clear scientific consensus that it is causing a process of destruction and degrading the earth's ecological system in a way that could eventually end human civilization if we didn't rein it in, then that is a moral issue.

It's not Republican or Democratic, conservative or liberal. It's a question of survival.

COOPER (voice-over): His new documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," has grossed $6.4 million since it debuted less than a month ago. The message he delivers is sobering.

(On camera): I want to play a clip from the film and talk about it.

GORE: The Arctic is experiencing faster melting. If this were to go, sea level worldwide would go up 20 feet. This is what would happen in Florida. Around Shanghai, home to 40 million people. The area around Calcutta, 60 million. Here's Manhattan. The World Trade Center Memorial would be underwater. Think of the impact of a couple hundred thousand refugees. And then imagine 100 million.

COOPER: Is that just alarmist? Is that just to wake feel up? Or is that for real? I mean, how long are you talking about, that, being the worst-case scenario?

GORE: The scientific community can't put a day on it. They know that it is speeding up. But the big risk from the large flooding would come from one or both of the wild cards -- Greenland or West Antarctica. Both are in a process of being destabilized now by the continued warming pressure from manmade global warming pollution.

And the melting rate in Greenland has accelerated fairly rapidly. The West Antarctic ice sheet, which is almost exactly the same size as Greenland -- either one of them would raise sea level 20 feet worldwide.

COOPER (voice-over): The evidence is so strong. Gore finds it amusing that some scientists still question global warming.

(On camera): There are some scientists, though, out there who say, you know, this is a hoax. Yes, the climate is getting warmer. They disagree that -- why this is happening. They say maybe this is part of a natural cycle. That, in fact, in a couple of years the earth is going to start to cool again.

GORE: There are no longer any serious scientists producing peer reviewed scientific journal articles that make that case. The real scientific debate is over.

The people who say global warming isn't real, they must get together on Saturday nights and party with the ones who think the moon landing was staged on a movie lot in Arizona.

COOPER (voice-over): Despite the scientific evidence, Gore says the Bush White House is still dragging its feet.

(On camera): How do you think this administration, the Bush administration, has done? What kind of a grade would you give them on the environment?

GORE: Well, they've been terrible. Now, I have to preface this by telling you, I'm a little worried I'm beginning to lose my objectivity on George Bush.

COOPER: Is that right? Were you ever?

GORE: And Dick Cheney.

COOPER: I see. OK.

GORE: But the worst thing is that every significant position in the government that has an effect on global warming, he has filled virtually every one of them with someone who is -- has been selected by Exxon Mobil or one of the other small group...

COOPER: You're talking particularly, I guess about Philip Cooney?

GORE: That's one example that he also lobbied...

COOPER: He was a man, he worked for the -- he was a lobbyist for the petroleum industry.

GORE: He's in charge of the disinformation campaign to try to confuse people into thinking that global warming is not real.

COOPER (voice-over): The issue may be mired in politics and our fossil fuel economy, but it's an issue Al Gore promises he will not let melt away.

GORE: Global warming is real. We human beings are responsible for the vast majority of it. The results are bad, headed toward catastrophic. We need to fix it. It is not too late.


COOPER: Well, in a moment a fact check on what Vice President Gore believes so passionately and in what some Republicans say is in dispute. Is it? We're going to get to the bottom of that.

Also, North Korea, on the verge of testing a missile that can hit the U.S. A rare look inside a country practically unknown to the outside world, and a shocking look at that.

Also, a deadly weekend in New Orleans -- six killings. See what's being done to keep the city from turning into "Murder City."

All ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: When discussing global warming with Al Gore, he seems especially optimistic when he discusses the notion of a tipping point, a sea change in public awareness that will translate into tougher environmental laws and save the planet.

Politically, that would be a historic shift because for decades now, Congress has been stuck in a different mode -- kind of a wait and see mode.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite almost 20 years of broad public debate, much more has been said than done about global warming.

And at the capitol, the head of the congressional Science Committee, Republican Sherwood Boehlert, says the lack of action is unreasonable.

REP. SHERWOOD BOEHLERT (R), NEW YORK: Because you've got sort of inertia on Capitol Hill. You've got some people still thinking the same old way. Some people refusing to be confused by the facts. Not theories. Not opinions. The facts.

FOREMAN: Such advocates for action on global warming have long said the facts warrant an overhaul of emissions standards for coal plants and automobiles. Both are big sources of carbon dioxide, which is believed to be partially responsible for trapping the sun's heat and making the world warmer.

Dozens of government-funded studies have spurred modest tightening of emissions standards. But advocates for change believe those studies show much more is needed.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: We better do something about it soon, or we could come to a tipping point where it will be hard to fix it without disastrous consequences.

FOREMAN: Skeptics have persistently said doomsday predictions of terrible storms and nature gone berserk as a result of warming are pure scare tactics and ignore other important considerations.

For example, radically cutting carbon dioxide emissions, they say, would push the cost of manufacturing, shipping, and travel way up, putting the United States at a competitive disadvantage with growing industrial powers like China, which use different standards for emissions.

PEYTON KNIGHT, NATIONAL CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH: Studying is the appropriate thing. More research is the appropriate thing. Cutting and capping carbon dioxide emissions would have absolutely devastating effects on our economy and the economy of other nations as well. FOREMAN: People who want action on global warming are clearly gaining political traction. But it's just as clear, all the talk is not over yet.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Coming up, North Korea puts the world on edge. It is about to test a missile that might be able to reach the U.S.

Tonight, we're going to give you a rare look inside the iron fisted rule of Kim Jong-il.

And a documentary that offers fresh insights on the battle on the border. A woman who moved to Arizona for a peaceful retirement, her camera caught something entirely different happening right in her own backyard. We'll show you when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today warned North Korea not to test fire a missile with range enough to hit the West Coast. So have diplomats from other countries in the area as well.

The missile is reported to be fueled and ready to go, and North Korea, which says it has nuclear weapons, shows no sign of backing down. As for what the country's really up to? Well, frankly, it's hard to say. In fact, just about everything about the secretive and oppressive regime is pretty much hard to say.

Recently, though, CNN did air a special documentary. Correspondent Frank Sense got a rare inside look at North Korea. Here's a portion of his report. And we want to warn you first, some of the video that you're going to see is shocking, but it is very real.


FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea, March 2005. A crowd has been ordered to gather in an open field. A party official makes an announcement. Children have been brought to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD (through translator): Mum. I want to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Just hold on, and let's watch, then go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It looks scary.

SESNO: The sentence is about to be passed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All the workers who came here today and the inhabitants of the nearby village are about to learn the punishment for these crimes. SESNO: Three men are about to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): How stupid these criminals are. Kim Jong-il is great in comparison to these worthless criminals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Carry out the death sentence immediately!

SESNO: These people have committed the crime most damaging to North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il. They made contact with the outside world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They have been involved in the illegal act of aiding people to defect the country. They trafficked women across the border to China. We have to protect North Korea from the outside influence and build up a strong guard to keep these influences out .

SESNO: Three policemen step forward and raise their rifles. On the left, a prisoner is tied to a pole.


SESNO: The next day, a different town, another public execution for the same crimes, helping people escape to the outside world.


SESNO: The man with the secret camera walks into a vacant building and talks to his audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I witnessed soldiers executing people by firing squad. They were accused of human trafficking offenses. Men, women, and children came to watch.

SESNO: This video was passed from person to person along a secret underground network. Powerful evidence of public executions under the regime of Kim Jong-il.

North Korea is the last Stalinist regime, a closed one-party state founded on a personality cult, a rogue regime known for repression of its people and a menacing nuclear arms program.

A nearly bankrupt nation where in the 1990s the U.S. government says more than 2 million men, women, and children starved to death during a famine. Kim Jong-il denied the famine even existed.

Kim Jong-il's absolute power depends on his people remaining oblivious to life outside the secret state, believing, as he says, that North Korea is paradise. But now his control is being challenged by his own people and word is getting out.

Dissidents are using technology to show the world images of the secret state that have never been seen before. They are also giving North Koreans their first views of what life is like on the outside. COOPER: So creepy. That was Frank Sesno reporting. More on North Korea, more stories you won't see anywhere else. You can see it all this weekend. The name of the program is "CNN Presents: Undercover in the Secret State." It airs Saturday at 2:00 p.m., Eastern, and Sunday afternoon at 3:00. And if you haven't seen it, it is really worthwhile. It's just such a fascinating subject.

A preview of tomorrow night's exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie is coming up next. We're going to talk about her work with United Nations High Commission for Refugees and take a look at one of the issues that she cares deeply about, the terrible plight of child soldiers in northern Uganda.

Also tonight, more trouble in New Orleans, if you can believe it. Six murders this weekend alone. We'll look at what it means for a city still struggling in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They're talking about sending in the National Guard now.

All that when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, now look at what's on the radar. Tomorrow night, don't miss my exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie. She's going to be talking about a lot of things, including what it's like to be a new mom. She's also going to be talking about her passion for helping the disadvantaged kids around the world as a UNHCR good will ambassador. Take a look.


ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS AND ACTIVIST: You start to think, you know, how do you deal with trafficking? How do you deal with civil wars? How do you deal with -- and then you start to realize it's all that so many of these people -- and it happens in countries where people are vulnerable and desperate and don't have the resources and don't have any option for any another kind of life and probably don't have an education.

So you start to realize, like this is where we need to invest our money, which we all kind of know that. We need people not fighting over resources. We need them all to have enough. We need there to be basic education for everybody so -- because there are proven statistics of how that changes your life, you know, your chances of getting AIDS, your chances of everything, you know. As a woman or as a man, even getting, you know, the child soldiers -- just your chances of having a more solid life...

COOPER: The education is key.

JOLIE: ...if you're educated. So for that, and then just basic resources that people need to survive. Like food and shelter. There would be less violence, there would be less of all the things.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, one of the places, of course, that has seen tremendous violence and continues to is Uganda in Central Africa. After a brutal dictatorship, the country is slowly rebuilding. It's made real progress in fighting AIDS and its economy is improving. But the northern part of the country is still terrorized by a militant rebel group called the Lord's Resistance Army. And it is the children who have the most to fear there.

CNN's Jeff Koinange explains why.


JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's night time in Gulu, in northern Uganda. And the dusty roads leading into the town are busy with the patter of tiny feet rushing as if to beat the darkness.

They are coming from small villages far and wide, running from a man they've never seen, but they are running from real terrors in the night.

His name is Joseph Kony, and he leads a violent rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, which claims to base its principles on the 10 Commandments.

The LRA has forced more than 2 million civilians to flee their homes. And now, after 20 years on the run, Kony recently came out of hiding for the first time, claiming he wants to talk peace with the Ugandan government.


KOINANGE: But until that happens, these children will continue to run.

(On camera): They wait for the sun to go down. And every night, under the cover of darkness, these children, ages between 5 and 16 years old, make the long commute from their villages to the comfort of the big towns.

In fact, locals here have coined a phrase for them -- they call them the night commuters.

(Voice-over): Poor, frightened, and hungry. All with one daily goal in mind -- just to make it through another night. They know and will soon hear of the sadistic horrors that await them if they are kidnapped.

They arrive at one of several shelter in Gulu, exhausted but exhilarated. This one is appropriately named Noah's Ark. And like the biblical sanctuary, they enter in twos, escaping what they call the madness outside.

I asked the children how many of them know of someone who's been abducted. Almost every hand is raised. I asked them how many have family members who have been abducted. Just as many hands are raced. JACKLYN AKELLO, NIGHT COMMUTER: The rebels come and kill people.

INNOCENT OUMA, NIGHT COMMUTER: They arrest people. And they kill and they destroy our homes.

KOINANGE: Despite the monotony of coming here every night for the past three years, the children know this is the only place they can become kids again, if only for a few hours.

But the center is both ill-equipped and under-funded. The only comfort the children get is a canvas roof, a cold, hard floor, and if they are lucky, a blanket. But all they are looking for, it seems, is a place to lie down without having to worry about becoming the next group of child slaves.

And in the morning, they are up early, ready to take the long walk back home to their villages. No breakfast. No shower. No change of clothes.

At a rehabilitation center for escapees not far from Noah's Ark, former kidnap victims gather for a morning therapy session.

Many of these girls, bearing the physical scars of rape; and the boys, the mental scars of torture.

Among them, 19-year-old Alice Abalo, who recently escaped from the LRA with her 4-year-old daughter, Nancy, a product of rape. Alice shows us the physical scars of her eight years in captivity. Bullet wounds on her leg. Shrapnel scars on her chest. Years as a sex slave have left Alice traumatized.

But after a while she warms up, telling us bone-chilling stories of her past, of meeting the elusive Joseph Kony, of how at 12 years old she was forced to become the 12th wife of one of Kony's aides, old enough to be her father. And of how child victims were often forced to do horrible thing by Kony's commanders.

ALICE ABALO, FORMER KIDNAP VICTIM (through translator): One day the group we were in had just killed about six people and proceeded to decapitate them. Then, I was asked to light a wood fire, using the victims' heads as support, the same way one would use three stones. I still have nightmares of their burning hair and brains oozing out of the burning heads. It was horrible.

KOINANGE: Florence Lakor is responsible for twice a day counseling sessions for the escapees. Her own daughter was kidnapped and held in captivity for nearly nine years before she too escaped and eventually returned home. She says the physical scars will heal after some time, but the psychological damage will last a life time.

FLORENCE LAKOR, WORLD VISION, UGANDA: Their stories are really horrible. We have heard cases of children who were ordered to cook human beings, said to cut the body into pieces and cook it up. Then they will blaze the village. The government eats the cooked body.

KOINANGE: Alice and the other kidnapped victims are allowed to stay here for 45 days, a brief period to adjust, before going home. That is, if their home has survived the rebels.

As for the others who so far managed to evade the Lord's Resistance Army, the tiny feet of the night commuters remain on the move.

Jeff Koinange, CNN, Gulu in northern Uganda.


COOPER: Well, Angelina Jolie will be talking about the trouble in central Africa and in other hot spots around the world. Tomorrow night, a special edition of 360, starting at 10:00 p.m., Eastern. It's going to span the whole two hours. I hope you join me.

Disturbing news tonight from New Orleans, as if it doesn't have enough worries. Six people murdered over this weekend alone. What's happening to law and order in the city that is still reeling from Hurricane Katrina? And will the National Guard really be able to help?

And the question of illegal immigration up close and very personal. What one woman did as she watched illegal immigrants crossing literally through her backyard, night after night, next on 360.


COOPER: Well, as if New Orleans didn't have enough to cope with this weekend, five teenagers were shot to death and a man was stabbed to death. Beyond the personal tragedy, of course, it's a potential law and order crisis for the city. Today Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco agreed to a request by Mayor Ray Nagin to send in additional law enforcement, including the National Guard.

CNN's Sean Callebs has more.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Orleans police say one of the teens was the target in a drug related revenge killing. The other four died because they were with him at 4:00 a.m., Saturday.

Reflecting the cycle of violence here, Bennie Radcliff, himself shot and paralyzed from the neck down in a drug deal gone bad 17 years ago, is the father of one of them.

BENNIE RADCLIFF, VICTIM'S FATHER: I just wanted him to have a better life and go to school and do some of the things that I didn't get a chance to do.

CALLEBS: The mayor said the slaughter was too much for this city to bear.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: The things that happened pre- Katrina are definitely no longer acceptable. CALLEBS: Now, Governor Blanco is heeding the city's plea, rushing 300 National Guard troops and up to 60 state troopers to New Orleans. The first time troops will be deployed since the weeks after the storm.

GOVERNOR KATHLEEN BLANCO LOUISIANA: There must be law and order in New Orleans. And we are going to work to bring it about.

SUPERINTENDENT WARREN RILEY, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: New Orleans, I am sure is safer than a lot of other urban cities right now. I'm sure we are.

CALLEBS: The city's police superintendent says his force has crime under control. But there were 16 murders from January through March, and 40 since then.

RILEY: It's not a crime spree. It's not denial. It's a strategy.

CALLEBS: Riley says he asked for the National Guard back in March. Most of them will patrol flooded-out, abandoned neighborhoods in east New Orleans, freeing up city cops for other jobs.

NAGIN: We will take our NOPD officers and increase their visibility in our heavily populated areas, to where you will see a police officer almost on every corner.

CALLEBS: Frustrated residents say, even a cop on every corner wouldn't fix New Orleans.

ZONTHIA DAVENPORT, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: You could do something about crime, but you have to have something for people to do. You know, they have these 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds outside, late at night. They're supposed to be inside.

CALLEBS: The city has been struggling to bring people, jobs and business back. But at this point, there's a growing concern that drug dealers and thugs are the ones gaining a toe hold.

Sean Callebs, CNN, New Orleans.


COOPER: Well, we're joined now by our frequent guest on this program, New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas. He's in New Orleans.

Thanks so much for being with us. Is this just drugs? I mean, you know, the woman is talking about needing jobs. But I mean, there are a lot of help wanted signs down in New Orleans.

OLIVER THOMAS, NEW ORLEANS COUNCILMAN: Look, there are a lot of jobs here. We can't play the excuse game anymore. You know, I'm just glad I was able to initiate that press conference today and call out for some help. You know, had we not done that, you know, I think people would have thought that the leadership was lackadaisical about the criminal element out there. So I'm just glad that my press conference today got some action.

COOPER: To outsiders when you hear the National Guard being called in to deal with crime on the streets of New Orleans, that sounds extreme, to say the least. Are the NOPD just not up to it?

THOMAS: Well, let me say this. There's nothing too extreme to protect an American citizen's life. If we can send airborne and Guardsmen to protect Iraqi lives or Afghani lives or other lives around the country, why can't they protect American taxpayers' lives?

So, I mean, you know, look, we're still in a rebuilding stage right now. Much of our police department is still dealing with post- Katrina issues. You know, why not have the National Guard help us in some of those areas that are not heavily populated? Why not have the combined efforts of law enforcement agencies like we had for the few months after Katrina? And that seemed to work. We were pretty safe back then, even as people were starting to repopulate the city.

I think that, Anderson, we need to send the message out that New Orleans is a safe city. Our reputation pre-Katrina wasn't good enough, and we don't need to regain that reputation by allowing crime to get out of hand.

Any amount of crime is too much. But we have a history to deal with and we need to make sure that people know that we're doing whatever it takes to make the city safe for them to come back.

COOPER: Let's talk briefly about rebuilding, because, I mean, every person, every friend of mine, everyone I know who goes down to New Orleans -- and I try to send as many people down there on vacation for whatever reason, just to help rebuild, they all come away saying, I cannot believe that there's still no real plan. That there's no -- you know, it's not clear what gets rebuilt where, when. It's been nine-plus months. You must hear that. Does it frustrate you?

THOMAS: Well, of course, you know I'm frustrated, you read my remarks in the "New York Times" article that was written. Yes, we need some clear definition from the commissions and authorities that have been set up as to what neighborhoods are important, which neighborhoods are kind of important, and which neighborhoods that we need to think about maybe doing something different.

You know, the city council thought that the rebuilding process was important. That's why we found some funds and hired some planners and some experts to work with neighborhoods that didn't have the resources.

You know, now we're talking about working with the LRA and with the mayor to try to have an umbrella organization that does planning, that plugs in the plans of the other communities.

But you're right, Anderson. We still need to know which communities are we going to have to say, hey look, we need to do something drastically different there? We still don't know that.

COOPER: Right. THOMAS: And that information needs to happen.

COOPER: Well, the last thing New Orleans needs is more crime. So let's hope this solution works. Oliver Thomas, appreciate you joining us.

THOMAS: Anderson, thank you very much as always.

COOPER: All right, take care.

In a moment, the battle on the border that Oliver Thomas referred to, but through the eyes of one woman, in her backyard, literally, what she sees every night.

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

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, stocks fell on Wall Street today because of renewed worries about inflation and higher interest rates. The Dow lost 72 points. The NASDAQ dropped 18. The S&P fell 11.

The price of oil also dropped today, responding to political developments in the Middle East. Iran's foreign minister said there was quote, "a positive atmosphere" surrounding the dispute over its nuclear program. His conciliatory comments meant U.S. light sweet crude finished 90 cents lower, at $68.98 a barrel.

And Americans gave away more money last year than any time since 2000. A new study by Giving USA shows Americans donated more than $260 billion in 2005. More than $7 billion of that aid was collected after the three big natural disasters -- the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Pakistan -- Anderson.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

Well, coming up, meet the retired schoolteacher who moved to Arizona. She thought she was going to have this nice, quiet life. What she found when she got there was anything but. Her home, literally stampeded by illegal aliens.

A very personal account of the struggle going on every day in neighborhoods along the U.S.-Mexico border, next on 360.


COOPER: Well, a lot of times the immigration issue is reduced to faceless statistics and advocacy papers. And lost in the screaming match is the pass for debate on cable TV, the probability, the one thing that people can agree on. In the end it is really all about individual struggles to achieve better lives. A new documentary brings that story very much home.

Here's CNN's Ted Rowlands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 63-year-old retired schoolteacher Mercedes Maharis moved to Cochise County, Arizona, with her husband five years ago.

MERCEDES MAHARIS, MOVED TO ARIZONA: We came here to spend the last years of our life, hopefully in peace.

ROWLANDS: Mercedes says this is her dream home. It's quiet, safe, and peaceful here. At least, that's what she thought until one night shortly after they moved in.

MAHARIS: I actually thought I was going to have a heart attack that night.

This terrible, giant helicopter was just coming right up our drive. It hovered right here, and was flashing lights around.

ROWLANDS: This is home video from that night.

MAHARIS: I ran back in, got my camera, came out and I was in my night gown and I just started shooting.

ROWLANDS: Mercedes says about a dozen people were rounded up by the Border Patrol, and she got it all on tape.

MAHARIS: I didn't think anybody would believe it unless they could see it.

ROWLANDS (on camera): This trail is how the people that Mercedes filmed that night got across the border. The border is just over this mountainside about two miles away. Mercedes that night thought she was filming something special, but she would later find out that what she saw that night was actually an almost everyday occurrence.

(Voice-over): Almost every night, Mercedes says people coming across the border walk right by her house, leaving behind trash and objects like this backpack.

MAHARIS: This was at the bottom of our drive Monday evening.

ROWLANDS: And you haven't opened it yet?


ROWLANDS: Inside, dirt-covered clothes, a toothbrush, some medication and deodorant. Mercedes decided to use her video camera to document what was happening, not only to her, but to other residents in Cochise County. So, she started interviewing people.

MAHARIS: I talked to ranchers, activists, pacifists, Border Patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say it's about as close as about 98 percent that are Mexican nationals.

ROWLANDS: Mercedes also gathered photos and video from the sheriff and Border Patrol.

MAHARIS: I wasn't going to make a huge production of it. I was just making a record of life and death on the border.

ROWLANDS: But five years and more than 24 hours of videotape later, Mercedes has created a 70-minute documentary. Publicists say more than 20,000 copies of her DVD sold in the first month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're here illegally. And something's got to be done.

ROWLANDS: It's a compilation of interviews, video and photos she's collected. Mercedes even helped write the original music.


ROWLANDS: And Mercedes set out to document the negative effects illegal immigration is having on her and her neighbors.

But she's also been touched by those people she's met who risked their lives to get here.

MAHARIS: To me, it's very dehumanizing, you know, to have to go to the bathroom in the desert and to not have enough water, you know. And ultimately, to give your life because you have the hope that you might send some money back home.

ROWLANDS: She ends her documentary singing a song in Spanish with some very graphic photos, showing people who died trying to cross the border.

MAHARIS: I just have a really difficult time understanding how it's gotten to this point. I don't know why there's no energy that's been put into this particular problem.

ROWLANDS: Mercedes Maharis has put her energy into her documentary. And with the current attention on the immigration issue, she hopes it might play a small part in solving the problem. So she can finally start enjoying her dream home.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Cochise County, Arizona.


COOPER: Ted's story first ran on "PAULA ZAHN NOW," which you can see weeknights at 8:00 right here on CNN.

One response to the problem with global warming, coming up. Meet the Seattle family that's made what many of us might consider a big sacrifice for the sake of the planet.


COOPER: As we showed you earlier, Former Vice President Al Gore has a movie out on global warming. It is a scary issue that raises the question, what do we know about it? And also, what should we do about it?

CNN's Randi Kaye reports on a family in Seattle that has come up with one answer.


ALAN DURNING, DAD, CAR-LESS FAMILY: Well, I'll see you guys.


DURNING: See you.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alan Durning is on his way to work. No suit, just spandex. Three months ago the Durning family of Seattle gave up their wheels to help save the planet.

(On camera): As one family having given up one car, do you really believe that you can make a difference?

DURNING: Absolutely. I mean, we're making a quantifiable difference because we're not burning anywhere near as many gallons of gasoline.

KAYE (voice-over): If Alan's math is correct, and in one year, cars emit their own weight in pollution, then he's saving the environment about 4,000 pounds of pollution.

DURNING: A snow pack can last 50 years in the Cascade Mountains just to the east of us here in Seattle has diminished by about 50 percent.

KAYE: As temperatures rise in this part of the country, more precipitation falls as rain instead of snow, which would last longer. And if the warming trend continues, a lack of water could, in theory, leave much of Seattle in the dark, since about 90 percent of its power comes from hydro-powered dams.

So after the Durnings' oldest son, Gary, totaled the family car, they decided to stop spewing greenhouse gases and cut a deal with the kids.

KATHRYN DURNING, DAUGHTER, CAR-LESS FAMILY: If we didn't get a car, then we would get cell phones. And for me, that was just like, oh my gosh, that's so awesome.

KAYE: But given Seattle weather, Alan's car-less commutes aren't always easy.

DURNING: Driver, I'm going to use the rack, all right?

KAYE: Amy walks most places. And a few hours a month, she rents a hybrid car.

(On camera): A lot of people would say, you're crazy with three kids to give up your car. Do you feel like you're crazy?


KAYE (voice-over): One advantage, Amy says, the kids argue less.

GARY DURNING, SON, CAR-LESS FAMILY: The arguing hasn't stopped since we got rid of the back seat.

K. DURNING: We got rid of the whole car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we didn't just get rid of the back seat.

KAYE: The Durnings call this baby stroller their minivan. It's carried groceries, even their son, Peter, to the doctor.

(On camera): Without a car, Alan and Amy figure they now walk about a mile and a half every day. Not only is that good for the planet, but it seems to be benefiting them too. Together, they believe they've lost nearly 10 pounds.

(Voice-over): And they've gained more of what they call walking around money. The car-less lifestyle saves them $200 a month. Not much compared to what they hope to be saving the planet. But they'll take it.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Seattle.


COOPER: Tomorrow, CNN will have special coverage of World Refugee Day.