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President Obama Vacationing in The Gulf; 20 Million People Affected by Pakistani Floods; From Refugee Camps to the U.S. Classrooms; How to Rebuild the New Orleans Police; Desiree Rogers Talks of New Job, Former Job as WH Social Secretary
Aired August 14, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Right now on CNN the president speaks only to us about his vacation on the Gulf Coast and explains why he thinks the so-called ground zero mosque can go ahead as planned. It's a CNN exclusive.
Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to conduct your next doctor's visit? Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here with the secrets your doctor won't tell you. She is here to empower you this hour.
And arguably the most well-known White House social secretary in history, talking about Desiree Rogers, she joins in just a few minutes to talk about her new high profile job. Her old one with the Obama's and the state dinner everyone remembers, and she, probably wants to forget.
Hello everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Clean, safe, and open for business, that is what President Obama is saying about beaches on the gulf coast after months of oil leaking into the water. And to prove it, he is there right now with the first lady and daughter Sasha on a short vacation. But in an exclusive interview with CNN, the president explains why he supports the right of Muslims to build a mosque and community center near Ground Zero.
Our senior White House correspondent Mr. Ed Henry is in Panama City, Florida right now where it looks to be pretty nice weather there. Ed, you got the one-on-one with the president. What did he tell you?
ED HENRY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it's interesting, you're right. He wanted to send a message that he's coming to the gulf because it's open for business and it's clean and safe but also that the administration has not forgotten about this region and that while the oil has stopped flowing the crisis still continues and that the administration is committed to make sure they've finished the job. But you're right, the president's comments last night at the White House basically in favor of religious freedom and suggesting that he's in favor of this mosque opening up right near Ground Zero has caused such a fire storm that I decided to ask him about it when I caught up with him after he made some remarks here. We started on the lighter stuff about whether he'll get into the water. He said he will with a caveat. Then we pressed him on exactly why he got behind that mosque.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: You going for a swim?
BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely.
HENRY: You're getting on the water today or tomorrow?
OBAMA: I think we're going to go tomorrow and as I just said, Ed, I'm not going to let you guys take a picture of me without my shirt on but there will be proof. Because you guys will tease me just like the last time. I was on the front page of every -- people commenting.
HENRY: What do you think about the reaction to your speech about the mosque?
OBAMA: Well, the, you know, my intention was to simply let people know what I thought, which was that in this country, we treat everybody equally in accordance with the law regardless of race, regardless of religion. I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country is about. And I think it's very important that, you know, as difficult as some of these issues are, we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now, a lot of buzz about the president's comments as you can imagine largely on that one line about him saying that he was not endorsing the wisdom of this particular project. A lot of the president's critics wondering whether he was trying to walk back what he said last night. What I think officials are suggesting is that the president is trying to make a distinction there. He is not walking back what he said last night. He still stands behind the idea of religious freedom but was trying to say that he wasn't specifically endorsing this project but essentially saying that because of the principle of supporting religious freedom, sometimes that means going along with projects that you personally disagree with but supporting that principle. Clearly, some of the critics are not buying that distinction. We've heard republicans like Congressman Peter King of New York saying, it's just downright insensitive to have a mosque and a community center right there by Ground Zero -- Don.
LEMON: And he's getting even more bashing from republicans, one former republican says that it's a right decision though, Ed.
HENRY: Yes. It's interesting. Former Republican Charlie Crist, this state's governor, was elected as a republican, he is now running for U.S. Senate as an independent. I caught up with him as well and I asked the governor whether he thought the president had a good idea here. And basically, Governor Crist said yes. He said, he was completely behind the president. He said you have to support religious freedom. Again, even if there are specific projects that you don't like you've got to stand behind it. Now, Charlie Crist is somebody who is in a weird political predicament right now, sort of former republican now running as an independent.
If he wins, there are a lot of people who think he'll actually go behind closed doors and caucus with Senate democrats. He has taken a lot of heat for supporting the president on the stimulus last year. So, this is only going to add more fuel to the fire with republicans who are upset with Charlie Crist. But I think his comments do reflect that it's not just criticism out there for the president. There are some people in the middle of the road saying, look, this is not maybe the best project in the world but you maybe need to support that principle. And so, that's the message the president is trying to send. Not everyone is buying it though -- Don.
LEMON: A distinction not a clarification. Thanks. White House correspondent Ed Henry on the gulf coast with the president tonight. Thank you, Ed.
The president's original comments came late last night during a White House dinner honoring the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Ground Zero is indeed hallowed ground. But let me be clear. As a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship in a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Most Americans do not agree with the president on this particular issue. In a recent CNN opinion research corporation poll, more than 2/3 of the people were against the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Only 29 percent surveyed of those surveyed supported that plan.
Returning now to the gulf coast which is still days away from seeing that blown out oil finally plugged for good, the government's point man on this disaster, former Admiral Thad Allen is ordering BP to do more pressure tests before it can finish its relief well. If the results are good, it will take at least another four days to intercept the damaged oil line. The crews can carry out the bottom kill by pumping in mud and cement to block the leak permanently.
As our Reynolds Wolf tells us, the president isn't the only tourist back on the beach now that the end of this leak is in sight.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm coming from Gulf Shores, Alabama where we have the wind and the waves and thankfully we've got the tourists, out and about enjoying all that nature can provide on a day like today. Although things are sunny from this point, the long- term ramifications of what the oil spill has meant to tourism has not been good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR ROBERT CRAFT, GULF SHORES, ALABAMA: It's been a rough year obviously from start to finish. It was really tough. But it is getting better and once the well was capped, the confidence came back, we started seeing more people show up. But the big event was a couple weekends ago when the Health Department, State Health Department lifted the swimming advisory and people could get back in the water. That was a big deal. Because now it sent an all clear signal to our visitors that it is safe to come back and that was the big concern I think people have the safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF: The mayor says the long-term strategies to bring in a lot of the snow birds, people from up north in the Midwest, by special rates and hotels, discounts at restaurants, of course festivals here in Gulf Shores. Reynolds Wolf, CNN, Gulf Shores, Alabama.
LEMON: All right. Reynolds, thank you very much.
To Buffalo, New York now where police are trying to learn if more than one suspect was involved in the late night shooting that left four people dead. Police say, there was an altercation in a bar called the City Grill just before that shooting. In addition to those killed, four other people were wounded by gun fire, one of them seriously. Police aren't saying whether they have a suspect in custody. With the investigation under way Buffalo's police commissioner made his own appeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL DERENDA, BUFFALO POLICE COMMISSIONER: We need people to come forward. We cannot go into a lot of detail of what we don't know but again, we do know that there were many witnesses out there and we need people to come forward immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
One victim of the shooting was a man who was celebrating his wedding anniversary.
More than a thousand people dead, nearly a million homes washed away. And today even more bad news. Imagine if it was happening right here in the U.S. but it is Pakistan and the flooding is devastating. A crash course in the classroom. A program that helps refugees from abroad adjusts to life in American schools. We're talking to recent graduates from that program.
And later this hour, Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary at the center of that unforgettable party crasher incident, she joins me live to talk about that and also her new job. And don't just sit there. Become part of the conversation, part of our show. Send me a message on Twitter and Facebook and check out my blogs, cnn.com/don and look for me on Foursquare as well.
LEMON: There is no end insight to the misery afflicting Pakistan as more rain fell across the saturated country today. Independence Day passed without much fanfare. An area the size of Florida is now under water. And as Reza Sayah tells us, many flood victims feel their government has failed them.
REZA SAYAH, CNN'S PAKISTAN-BASED INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Independence Day celebrations canceled by the Pakistani government, senior government leaders saying they'll going to take the money saved from those celebrations and contribute it to flood relief and recovery efforts. In the meantime the death toll from these floods is now up to 1400. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gillani also saying the number of people affected is now 20 million. That's up from 15 million. What's incredible is that these floods hit about 15 days ago. The Pakistan navy still launching rescue and recovery missions for thousands of people still stranded in central Pakistan.
In the meantime, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari continues his pr blitz to make up for what was a sharply criticized absence here in Pakistan when the floods hit. He visited northwest Pakistan, talked to some flood victims, passed out some care packages. Of course, he was criticized widely for leaving Pakistan for Europe a couple of weeks ago. Pakistan's interior minister says that criticism is unfounded. And he called it politics. In parts of Pakistan, heavy rains came down once again and those rains are going to continue off and on for the next few weeks. Remember, monsoon season here in south Asia not scheduled to end until September. Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.
LEMON: All right. And from Reza, we go to our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. I said, imagine if it was happening here, obviously this would be the lead story and we'd be doing breaking news coverage continuing. This is devastating.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It really is. You know, imagine like the Mississippi River swollen about 25 times its normal size. That's kind of the equivalent of what's been taking place here in Pakistan along the Indus River. And we've them before and after pictures how we want to share with you. And this is what it looks like, normally in the before and then the after you will see that it swells. There you go. We'll watch the swell. There you can see how wide that becomes, so that's about ten miles on either side of all of this water. Now, some cresting has taken place but down here near Sukkur is where some of the worst of its now, and there some type of a dam there that has been blocking it up a little bit. And so, a secondary crest is going to be very, very possible.
This has just been weeks and weeks of very heavy rain. We heard the mention of the monsoonal rains and what happens is this time of the year, we get those winds coming in more out of the south and that brings showers and thunderstorms and torrential downpours. Here is India. And there you can see Pakistan and all of that white is the cloud cover. Northern and East central parts of that country are going to continue to see these heavy rains and we could see this literally ongoing for another couple of days at a minimum but potentially the monsoon season goes until the end of September and in the early October. So just a terrible situation. That water continues to stay very high and it's just holding, Don, and of course disease will be a big concern in the upcoming weeks as well.
LEMON: We'll continue to watch it. Jacqui, thank you very much. And there is a second wave of flood waters rushing down the Indus in Pakistan, hundreds of thousands are expected to be stranded over there for the next few days. To find out how you can make a difference and help provide relief for the flood victims in Pakistan, visit our Impact Your World page. Just go on cnn.com/impact.
And for the second weekend in a row, dangerous weather in the Upper Midwest. We'll show you more of the damage caused by this tornado.
And taking control of your doctor visits. This is something you need to know. Our CNN Senior Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains why it's OK to be a bad patient sometimes.
LEMON: This just in. We begin this broadcast by saying, open for business, clean and safe to go down to the Gulf of Mexico and swim in the water and the president is there for that reason. This just in. There you see the president and his daughter Sasha swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. This just came in to CNN just moments ago. Of course you heard our Ed Henry talking to the president. The president said he wasn't going to get any pictures of him. He didn't want the media to get him with his shirt off because they did that in Hawaii and it was splashed all over the place and he was concerned about that. But again, this president there is for a mission we know and that is to show people that it is safe to go down to the gulf and swim and eat as well and that's why he's there. These pictures just in to CNN, the president and his daughter having a great time down at Alligator Point in Panama City Beach, Florida.
We'll going to take a look at your top stories right now. Nearly 500 Sri Lankan migrants are in Canadian history, they were seized aboard a ship suspected of smuggling people into Canada. A large number of them were children. The ship was also believed to be carrying members of the Tamil Tigers, a militant separatist group accused of war crimes in the Sri Lankan civil war. China has called for a national day of mourning tomorrow in memory of flooding and mud slide victims. Recent mudslides have killed more than 1,000 people and that number is expected to rise, 10,000 people have been evacuated. Several thousand are still stranded in the country's Sichuan province. China has been drenched by heavy rains and floods since the end of May.
And a new round of brutal storms spawned tornadoes in Minnesota. Just look at this video, the storm whipped up a twister in the town of Hayfield, Minnesota which is in the southeastern part of the state. One tornado destroyed some barns and took down trees and power lines. And despite the intensity of the storms, homes were spared however. And there are no reports of any injuries. Lucky there.
Adjusting to life in America can be challenging for many refugees and getting comfortable in our schools can be even tougher. Up next, a program that helps ease the transition. We're talking to two of the newest graduates.
And rare coins discovered fairly often, aren't they? But you probably never have seen one like this.
LEMON: Summer is over for millions of kids now that school is starting back up. Sorry, kids. Except for the ones who like going to school. Getting used to the homework again, it's going to be tough enough. But imagine stepping into an American classroom for the very first time after living a world away in a refugee camp. For those kids, the Refugee Youth Summer Academy is really a true gift. It is a six-week program in New York run by the International Rescue Committee. And it gets refugee kids ready for the challenges of American schools.
A new group just graduated from the program including 15-year-old Anita Sharma from Nepal who is joining us now. Hi, Anita. Also with us is Helen Samuels, a 17-year-old refugee from Thailand who has been through the program and is now a peer counselor. And James Lenton, the youth director for the academy. Thanks to all of you. How are you guys doing?
JAMES LENTON: Great.
LEMON: Everybody is doing well. Good. James, I'm going to start with you, tell us how this all works.
JAMES LENTON, DIRECTOR, REFUGEE YOUTH PROGRAM: Well, the main aim of the International Rescue Committee's Summer Academy is to prepare newly arrived refugee students to enter the New York City school system in the fall. And we work with students who come from all over the world, from countries like Iraq, Burma, Nepal, and the Ivory Coast, and all of our students have suffered tremendously and made great sacrifices to come here. Many of them have witnessed war or lived in refugee camps for an extended period of time and during that time their education was often interrupted or characterized by poor instruction, crowded and chaotic classrooms, and often corporal punishment, violence, and abuse. So this really exacerbates the challenge that any student would face adapting to a new school system in a new country and in a new language.
LEMON: Go to Anita now, Anita, this is your second year in the program. Obviously you like it. Explain to our viewers what it was like in Nepal schools.
ANITA SHARMA, NEPALESE REFUGEE: All right. In Nepal the schools was very miserable. We cannot speak English there. They are Nepali teachers. And when I came here, it was my pleasure to be here. I feel blessed to be here. And in Nepal, my life was miserable. My parents had trouble living there with my education but here I feel blessed to be here. All this happened all because of the IRC.
LEMON: Yes. And we're so glad that you enjoyed it. Were you nervous at all about going to school in America? And did it help you? Did the academy help you? SHARMA: Yes, of course. The academy helped me a lot. Like, when I came here I was very nervous. My father was very anxiety. And when I came to the summer academy, it was my pleasure to be there and I felt confident. It actually has empowered me a lot, plus my family. It helped me get my confidence back. They empowered me that I have some abilities to be in the U.S. students. And thank you. I really thank International Committee for this.
LEMON: Oh, very nice, very nice. Helen, you returned to be a peer counselor. I wonder what made you want to do that.
HELEN SAMUELS, PEER COUNSELOR: Because I started IRC as a student in 2008 and I saw how IRC helped me and other students who have come to the U.S. and deal with all the emotion and culture shock. And for myself to go back and help other fellow students, that will be very great opportunity and to see them, to show them how to adjust to the U.S. education system is something that I feel very happy and enjoy to help someone who comes from the same breakdown and to deal with the problems and new issues in life.
LEMON: Helen, Anita, James, thank you all. And best of luck to you.
SHARMA: Thank you so much.
LEMON: Let's talk again about empowering people. Americans schedule more than 900 million doctors' visits each year but the average face time you get with your physician is only about 13 minutes. That's according to some estimates. Now, how can you be sure you're getting the best care at every appointment? Well, there is a new book right now. It's called the "Empowered Patient" and has some answers for you. The book is written by our very own senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, it is based on her weekly column "Empowered Patient." She joins me now. It's so good to see you. Congratulations by the way.
ELIZABETH COHEN, SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
LEMON: Let's see the book. Here it is right here. I haven't read it yet.
COHEN: I got to sign one for you.
LEMON: You know, this is quite an issue to tackle because there are so many questions. We've been dealing with health care. What made you want to take on this issue?
COHEN: You know a couple experiences in my family. And I'll tell you about one of them. My mother when she was about 60 went from being very healthy and feeling great to not feeling very well at all and her blood pressure started sort of doing strange things. And she went to her doctor and said, this is very odd for me. And he basically patted her on the head and said, you just need to stop working so hard and didn't really investigate the cause. There's my mom. Hi mom. And didn't really investigate the cause of what was going on. And to make a long story short, it turned out that she had very serious kidney disease and that she eventually needed a kidney transplant. LEMON: Oh, my gosh.
COHEN: And she could have avoided the kidney transplant if she had been correctly diagnosed at the beginning because it took years to get the correct diagnosis.
LEMON: And that's a big issue, the wrong diagnosis, people being misdiagnosed. And I hear you talk about it all the time. You even talked to me about it personally.
COHEN: That's right. Because people think oh, the doctor said "x" this must be true. For example, I told the story of another woman in the book named Trisha Torrey who had this lump in her side about the size of a golf ball. The doctor said, it's lymphoma. You will be dead in four months if you don't start chemotherapy. And she went home and looked up the diagnosis and she thought, this just doesn't sound what I'm reading on the internet, it doesn't sound like -- I don't have these symptoms. And she didn't have cancer. And she was this close to starting chemo and she didn't have cancer because she took it the second and third steps. Now, I want to back up for a second and just do a little shout out to someone. And this is when my mom got her kidney transplant, the kidney came from her cousin retired Colonel David Cantor. Both of them are 71 and I just have to do a little shout out.
LEMON: Retired Colonel David Cantor. I don't mean to interrupt you but there is a picture of him coming and you said, he's amazing.
COHEN: There he is. An amazing guy. And he gave my mother the gift of life.
LEMON: Oh, my gosh. This is very personal to you. Not only your mom and her cousin, right? But I met your daughters. Sheer (ph) and then you have another...
COHEN: Right. I have four daughters and Sheer who you've meet.
LEMON: There was an issue with Sheer when she was born, correct?
COHEN: That's right. There she is. She is now 6-years-old and she had seizures when she was born and she had to have some spinal taps to figure out if she had an infection. Well, one night a couple days after the seizures the doctor said, OK, she doesn't have an infection. No more spinal taps. And then we found out that the next morning, she still received a spinal tap even though the doctor had ordered them to stop and she was about to get another one. And we had to act to stop more unnecessary spinal taps. Then I just get the thought that needle went into her back when she didn't need it, and it really taught me that hospitals, you know, it's their world and you're visiting in it and they have their own rules and their own rhythms and their own way of doing things and they don't always get things right. And you have to be an empowered patient and take care of the people you love when they're in the hospital.
LEMON: All right. You say, you have to be an empowered patient. By the way, I'm looking through in this good stuff like going beyond Google. Taking on the insurance companies, e-mailing doctors. It is really good, practical information. But why do you say it's important to be a bad patient at least sometimes?
COHEN: ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, at least sometimes. The reason I say that is I think that it's human nature to want to be liked. I think especially -- I know I'm generalizing here -- women want to be liked and they want to be sort of nice and not make people angry.
COHEN: When you go to the doctor, if the doctor says something you don't understand or if the doctor clearly wants to get out of the room and get on to the next patient, because he's so swamped, it's tough to be demanding. It's tough to say, whoa, hold on a second here. I don't understand something.
LEMON: Most people are afraid when they go to the doctor.
LEMON: You know --
COHEN: It's intimidating. And you're a tough guy.
LEMON: Because I don't want to hear any bad news.
COHEN: It is an uncomfortable situation to begin with. Exactly. What I say is that you need to sometimes be a bad patient. You need to sometimes say to a doctor, you know what, sit down, I have more questions for you. Or I read something on the Internet. I know a lot of doctors don't like hearing from patients who spend time on the Internet, but I have these questions for you. Or I want a second opinion. And I think sometimes people are afraid to tell their doctors they want a second opinion.
LEMON: Ah, when things go wrong, long waits, rushed doctor, special instructions for complicated problems, just really good practical stuff.
COHEN: Thank you.
LEMON: When you go to the doctor, if something happens, you just -- it's a good reference book.
COHEN: Or to prevent something from happening.
LEMON: I'll put this right here.
COHEN: There you go.
LEMON: Thank you, Elizabeth Cohen.
COHEN: Thank you. LEMON: It's out now?
COHEN: It's out now. Just came out on Tuesday.
LEMON: Make sure you tune in to Elizabeth's special report, called "The Empowered Patient, Taking Control of Your Health Care," airing September 25th, 8:00 p.m. eastern. To learn more, log on to CNN.com/empoweredpatient, and click on Elizabeth's picture. And e- mail her your top tips on how to be an empowered patient, and you could win a copy of this. Her new book right here called "The Empowered Patient."
Good luck. I'm keeping this one.
COHEN: Thank you. Absolutely.
LEMON: Don't try to grab it.
LEMON: A party turns violent in Buffalo, New York. Four people are dead. We'll tell you what happened and the update on the search for a suspect.
And it was an incident in the middle of Hurricane Katrina that cast a negative light on the New Orleans Police Department. A shooting on a bridge that killed two and wounded four more. Up next, a CNN special investigation, did some over-stressed police officers take their orders too far?
Just ahead, Desiree Rogers, the former White House social secretary, on her new job and the party she probably would like to forget.
LEMON: The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall is just two weeks away and the storm scars have been slow to heal in New Orleans. In the chaotic days after the storm, the dysfunction of the city's police department was laid bare.
Drew Griffin, of CNN's "Special Investigations Unit," has more for us now on New Orleans' attempt to rebuild the New Orleans Police Department.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Hold it. Hey.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPODNENT (voice-over): On this summer evening, not yet three months in office as New Orleans's new mayor, Mitch Landrieu is getting to know the city's poorer neighborhoods.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tackled me. He tackled me. Did you see that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He almost tackled the mayor.
MITCH LANDRIEU, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: What you tackling me for? You think you're funny, huh? You think you're funny, don't you?
GRIFFIN: Landrieu and his new police chief are leading a walk in a show of police presence and support on this crime-riddled street.
This woman appeals for help to stop gunfire in a nearby park so children can play in safety.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Big old boom, boom, boom. I was down there one day last week with my granddaughter. I had to lay on top of her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is 5 years old.
GRIFFIN: On this street, guard dogs are no protection against gunshots in the middle of the night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saturday night, between 11:00 and 11:30, my mother's house got shot up. There's the bullet holes right there. A drive by.
Come on. I'll show you. Let's go.
The bullet went through that window and went through the third window of my mother's house. Come on in. The bullet went through here.
GRIFFIN: The new mayor concedes people are reluctant to trust police, with 16 officers now under indictment or pleading guilty in shooting deaths in the week after Hurricane Katrina. Two of the victims killed on this bridge.
(on camera): When you read the revelations in the Danziger Bridge case, not just the crime, itself, but the cover-up, can people in this city right now have faith in their police department?
LANDRIEU: No. I don't think so. The department is supposed to protect and serve. And right now, it's not doing either of those things well. My top priority as mayor is to make this city safe. It can't be safe without a police department that people trust.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Civil rights attorney, Mary Howell, says police failures have not only fed mistrust but have encouraged crime.
MARY HOWELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: At the same time that we're having these terrible problems with corruption and brutality in the department, we also lead the nation in crime and in homicides and in violent crime.
GRIFFIN: In this first year in office for Mayor Landrieu, New Orleans has been averaging a murder every other day.
Landrieu asked the Justice Department to come in and help reform his police force.
LANDRIEU: As a kid that grew up in the city of New Orleans, you know, you get very frustrated that things have been allowed to get this bad. But you have to acknowledge that and then you have to right the ship. and you have to turn it around and force it to go in the right direction. That's what we're intent on doing.
GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, New Orleans.
LEMON: Tonight on CNN, a look at the actions of the New Orleans police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Did innocent people die at the hands of police officers? CNN investigates whether some over- stressed New Orleans police officers took orders too far. "Shoot to Kill" premieres tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern. here on CNN.
And a programming note for you, on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall, five-year anniversary, I'll be there for the entire week. We will anchor this show from there as well. Make sure you stay tuned to CNN.
Police in Buffalo, New York, are asking witnesses of a late-night shooting to come forward. Four people were killed when gunfire erupted outside a crowded downtown restaurant. One victim was a man celebrating his wedding anniversary. Four more people were wounded, one of them critically. Police aren't saying whether they have any suspects in custody right now.
Pakistan's president spent his country's Independence Day handing out rations to flood victims. The President Asif Ali Zardari has been criticized for his government's failure to reach many victims. Independence Day Celebrations were canceled as Pakistan copes with its biggest natural disaster ever. One-fifth of Pakistan, an area the size of Florida, has flooded in the past two weeks.
Zsa Zsa Gabor is back in the hospital, her second health emergency in less than a month. Gabor, who is 93 years old, underwent surgery to last night to remove a blood clot, a complication from hip replacement surgery three weeks ago. Gabor, a starlet from the 1950s and '60s, is also known for her nine marriages.
Let's talk heroes now. From a pint in the pub to the poorest places on earth, this week's "CNN Hero" turned a beer-fueled brain storm into a feeding program for hundreds of thousands of school children. Magnus McFarland Barrow is serving a meal a day to some of the world's hungriest kids. Take a look at how a single act of kindness took on a life of its own.
LEMON: More than 400,000 kids in 15 countries are getting nutritious meals thanks to Magnus. And to see how he is helping in Haiti or to help him deliver more meals, go to CNNheroes.com.
She is arguably the most famous White House social secretary in history, the official White House planner. And now she is running some of the most influential magazines in the country, influential magazines among African-Americans. There she is. Desiree Rogers joins me live after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: All right, everybody, this will put an end to all the wondering about what happened with Desiree Rogers. From the White House to the publishing house, Desiree Rogers has a new job. She was a social secretary for President Obama until she resigned in February. Her office grabbed headlines a couple months before that when two people crashed a White House state dinner, getting past the Secret Service without an invitation. Now Desiree Rogers, who has an MBA from Harvard, will lead the firm that publishes two icons in black publishing, "Ebony" and "Jet" magazines.
Desiree Rogers joins us live from Chicago.
Thanks for being here, Desiree. How are you doing?
DESIREE ROGERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL SECRETARY: I am doing well. Happy to be talking to you.
LEMON: It's good to see you again. I have to say, Desiree, I remember first meeting you as the lottery lady in Chicago, and then following you -- and on and on, and then you became the White House social secretary. We'll talk about your new job, which is a very prestigious job, but let's clear up what happened. People say you left because of what happened with the Salahis. Can you talk about that?
ROGERS: Well, you know what? That really is the past. As I've said before, it's important for Washington to be focused on those things that are so important to running our country. I felt that it was time for me to move on. The president and first lady had asked me really to build the foundation for what they wanted the White House to be, which is the people's house, and I think that I did that. And I think that the group that's there now are certainly executing on that foundation.
LEMON: Would you do it again?
ROGERS: Absolutely. I mean, who would not be honored to serve the president and first lady of the United States? It was a fabulous opportunity and I was really happy to be in a position to serve my country, and also dear friends, the president and the first lady.
LEMON: OK. We'll move on, trust me. But no regrets, right?
ROGERS: Absolutely, not.
LEMON: What do you think of them being reality stars and to find out a lot of this was based on doing a reality show?
ROGERS: You know what? I really have no comment. None at all. None at all.
LEMON: OK. Let's move on. We want to talk -- thank you, Desiree. Let's talk about --
ROGERS: Yes. Let's move on.
LEMON: Let's talk about your new job now. The publishing industry, especially magazines, are really hurting right now, especially with the economy, ad revenue is down. How are you planning on improving the Johnson situation, "Ebony" and "Jet" magazines?
ROGERS: I think a couple things. The first thing is, these are iconic brands. They are brands that have a following and certainly are loved in the African-American community. so I believe the first thing we have to focus on is our content and making certain that we're modern, energized, that we're providing our readers with information and topics that they are interested in. and I also think that we need to improve our digital platforms as well. I believe that, you know, if we can do that, if we can show our advertisers that, in fact, we do have those markets covered, the advertising revenue will be there. I was just looking at another competitor's ads for September, and they're huge.
LEMON: Are you talking about "Essence?"
You're not going to reveal it?
ROGERS: I'm not going to say the word.
OK. You're talking about another magazine.
ROGERS: Another magazine.
LEMON: Listen, people talk a lot about the old boys' network, but you have been able to take advantage of a really powerful group of women, black women, a network in Chicago, which includes your boss, Linda Johnson Rice, the owner of the company, First Lady Michelle Obama, also Valerie Jarrett, who is an adviser to the president. Talk to us about the girls club.
ROGERS: Well, I think, you know, there's women power. I think that women continue to advance in the United States. I think that there is a women's network. Many of the reporters that I've done interviews with -- you might be the first male, Don -- that I have done interviews with, have been women and women that I've come across in your business. And so I really do believe that there is an opportunity to really have women pull together. and people have been very helpful to me in the publishing industry. Anna Winture (ph) has been fabulous in opening up her rolodex to me and helping me get a little bit of the lay of the land.
LEMON: Listen, I appreciate you being so candid and that you're stepping out front and talking about all of the issues and not avoiding them. On the September issue of "Ebony" magazine, President Obama. I'm not going to wonder how you got that interview. You probably just made -- you probably just made a phone call.
Desiree, thank you. Best of luck to you.
ROGERS: Thank you so much. And I hope that you have your September issue.
LEMON: I do.
All right, thank you.
LEMON: All right, adding the pounds could subtract years from your life. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will have the latest from "Fit Nation."
And there is no excuse to be late to school if you ride that bus. Wait until you hear how fast it goes and the motivation behind it.
LEMON: Most people who are overweight realize they probably ought to lose a few pounds. But it could be worse than you think. That extra weight could be shortening your lives. Here's CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
LEMON: All right, Sanjay, thank you very much.
No one likes to be hit with an unexpected bill, right? One taxpayer decided to get back at city hall by paying his delinquent bill with more than 30,000 pennies.
And in Israel, archaeologists were hoping to find something good, but it was solid gold.
LEMON: Every weekend, we like to bring you interesting news items you might have missed during the week. For all you parents who can't get your kids back to school fast enough, here's the bus you want here, probably without the fire. It never leaves the ground. But it can really fly. A jet engine pushes a bus beyond 350 miles per hour. It goes faster than 350 miles per hour. It's billed as the largest jet- powered vehicle in the world. The man who made it says it was revenge for all of the years he was stuck riding on a slow bus back and forth to school. I remember that. It was hot, cold. The bus took forever.
The start of school signals the annual Bud Billiken parade -- there it is right there -- the largest African-American parade in the country. It's been marching through the city every August for 81 years to mark the new school year. It was started back in 1929 by the publisher of "The Chicago Defender" newspaper. This year's grand marshal was senior White House advisor, Valarie Jarrett. There she is right there.
Ever feel you're being nickled and dimed by the tax man. One man fought back by paying his $300 bill, his tax bill, with pennies. The bill was for an old license plate that he forgot to turn in when he moved out of state. The tax collector happily accepted the pennies to settle the bill. As long as you can spend it, right?
In Israel, a rare gold coin is being hailed as one of the greatest finds in the country's history. It was recently discovered wedged in an ancient stone wall where it had been -- probably hidden for 2,000 years, 2,000 years ago. Archaeologists were shocked at how big it is -- five times heavier than most other ancient gold coins. The gold portrays an Egyptian queen and dates to the year 191 B.C. Wow.
I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. See you back here at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now.