CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Baseball Owners, Players Make Significant Steps Toward Compromise; Skakel Gets 20 To Life; Loved Ones Say Goodbye to Pond, Gaddis
Aired August 29, 2002 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, GUEST HOST: Good evening again. I'm Anderson Cooper sitting in for Aaron Brown. It is Thursday before Labor Day, and it seemed to us that, in two different stories tonight, some of the great traditions late summer have, in a sense, been turned upside- down. The first is about the boys of summer behaving badly, the epic fight going on between the millionaires versus the billionaires of major league baseball, the players and the owners who brought us to the edge of a strike just days before September 11th, days when we could all use something as American and as comforting as baseball. We'll have a report on strike talks tonight in a talk with Keith Oberman, who's been working his sources all day. That coming up very shortly.
The second story is smaller than the first, but profoundly more upsetting. It is back to school time, of course. Teenagers grumbling about the end of summer and getting ready for the first day back. Schools are already humming in many parts of the country, teacher meetings, janitors getting the classrooms and the grounds ready for kids to plow back in. But, tonight in Oregon City, the high school gym will be occupied with something else: thousands of people mourning the loss of two young girls, Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis, kidnapped and killed, their remains found last weekend. For them, there will be no last-minute trips to the mall, no school supplies to pick up, no new clothes to try on. For them, an endless summer in the worst possible sense. We'll bring you some of their memorial service tonight.
We begin "The Whip" tonight with the baseball and Keith Oberman. Keith, the headline, please.
KEITH OBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the players make significant steps to fulfill the owner's desire to put brakes on salary escalation in baseball. But, will those steps be enough to prevent a broken season?
COOPER: Sentencing day for Michael Skakel, a quarter-century after the crime. Deborah Feyerick is on that tonight. Deborah, your headline?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as friends and family pleaded with the judge, saying Michael Skakel had a positive impact on dozens of lives, still it wasn't enough to save him from a long prison sentence. COOPER: We go now to that memorial service for two Oregon girls. Rusty Dornin is there. Rusty?
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Oregon City High School Gym, Anderson, is overflowing as thousands gather for a final farewell to two young girls kidnapped and murdered. We'll bring you some of that emotional tribute to Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.
COOPER: And our Guilty Pleasure tonight, Kendis Gibson got a scoop tonight with two lovely young ladies. Kendis, the headline?
KENDIS GIBSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, we're at the MTV Video Music Awards, where it's all about the former couples. Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Lisa Marie Presley. But, a current couple, or twosome, should I say, Ashley and Mary Kate Olson are here, and they had one person on their mind: Anderson Cooper. How's that for a tease?
COOPER: Yes, I'm sure that's true. Thanks very much, Kendis. We'll be back with all of you in a moment. Also coming up tonight, what we have to fear from fear itself? The answer is that fear itself may not be as big a concern as we thought it was. Jean Meserve looks at why the conventional wisdom on panic may not be on target. Also tonight, why a comic book artist is in a fight with one of America's most prestigious universities. We'll talk with Ray Lai about whether MIT's Soldier Of The Future is really his comic book heroine. All that to come in the hour ahead.
We begin tonight with baseball. Right now, you've certainly heard all the cliche's about talks in the bottom of the ninth and owners playing hardball, and how there's no crying in baseball, only a lot of gnashing of teeth over money. We'll leave the verbiage to others tonight and just try to paint the best picture we can of what's at stake and where things stand now. This is the first picture we want to show you. It comes from Anaheim in southern California, the Angels versus Tampa Bay, the last game of the night and potentially of the season. That's the audience right there. The next game of the season comes tomorrow afternoon in Chicago if -- and I say only if -- players and owners can hammer things out between now and 2:20 p.m. Wrigley Standard Time.
And the talking goes on tonight in New York, so we begin by going back to Josie Karp.
JOSIE KARP: Good evening, Anderson. Talks are very much in progress. Behind me is the headquarters of major league baseball, and just about an hour ago we had probably the most dramatic picture of the day, when union chief Donald Fehr led his six-person negotiating team from his office to this office. That negotiating team included two players from the Atlanta Braves, Tom Glavine and also B.J. Surhoff. The two sides have been going back and forth all day and all night long. This is actually the fifth face-to-face meeting that is taking place today. Earlier, we had the union number two man, Gene Orza, come out and say, "We're close. I just don't know if we're close enough to appease the owners." Again, that's an example of some of the rhetoric you have to weed through to try to figure out what exactly is going on.
An 11:00 conference call was scheduled for players tonight. They had one earlier. They were told to be prepared for another one if, at that time, they're supposed to be apprised of things like what to do and where to go tomorrow. So, again, talks in progress. They've met five times and, clearly, they still have things to talk about, and you can take that however you want. But, the fact is, back in 1994 at this time, they hadn't had a single substantive discussion about any of the issues, and now we're getting two hours and counting until the actual day of the strike, and they're still talking. Anderson?
COOPER: All right Thanks very much, Josie. We promise no cliche's tonight, but Keith Oberman is here to read the tea leaves. Welcome back. So, you've been working your sources all day. What did you hear about what went on in the meetings today?
OBERMAN: What went on in the meetings today is exactly that word that Josie used, which was appease. The owners had a series of things they wanted to come out of these negotiations with. They wanted to have brakes on escalating salaries by this luxury tax methodology. The union didn't want to do it. They've agreed to it. They have agreed to it, and increased the beneficence (ph) of their offer to the owners on it repeatedly, and did so again today. They wanted to reserve no tax for the fourth year of a four-year agreement. They gave in on that today. They also have given in on drug testing. They've given in on revenue sharing. They have, at every point, said to the owners, "OK, you want this. Here's what we have to do." This is how they've changed it from just Tuesday when last we spoke. They were asking that no team be taxed until they reach $125 million in payroll. Now, they've changed that down, remembering less is more in this bargaining, down to 118.
The numbers have slid in each of those four subsequent years, and the big one at the end, they wanted no tax as of Tuesday. And now, they've gone into the owners and said 135, 140 million in that last year. So, there has been repeated attempts by the players to do what the owners wanted, to actually give back significantly in ways certainly they've never done before, and probably no sports union has ever done before. They were met early today by a lot of resistance by the owners who thought well, maybe we can really break them at this point and say, you know, let's see you go on strike and ruin the game. In other words, get out those nuclear weapons and see what happens. And that hard-line thing on the part of the owners seems to have been fading throughout the day. They'll probably be talking throughout the night, and we -- and for a settlement to occur, it has to fade completely.
COOPER: Some rumblings, though, about possibly delaying a strike deadline?
OBERMAN: Only in an informal sense. A lot of the owners were saying, in fact, they did not think the players would go on strike. And the last time they said that, which was in 1981, the players went on strike for 50 days. So, they were wrong that time, and I think they're wrong this time, too. However, in previous negotiations, as Josie pointed out, by this time in the process we knew there'd be a strike. The players knew there'd be a strike. The players were already given up to that idea. Now, this thing could conceivably go till late morning Friday, and the players would just have to wait, and the teams would just have to wait, and the fans would just have to wait, the idea being it's better to negotiate as late as you possibly can rather than say, OK, we're not close. We're not going to budge on this. We're going to give up now. So, that by itself is a unique occurrence in the history of baseball labor.
COOPER: I've got actually a couple of friends going to this Chicago Cubs game in Chicago, at -- the Cardinals are playing, and they really don't know what to do. I mean, a lot of people travel to this game, and they don't know whether they should go or not.
OBERMAN: Yes. It's entirely consistent, though, throughout the stadium. The fans don't know. The players don't know. The owners don't know, and it may, in fact, be sunrise before we find out. But, in terms of baseball negotiations, that's a really good sign, and I think they will be using all that time well into the night to try to hammer out an agreement and really, at this point, with what's on the table, the owners can take it and declare victory, and the players can say look at the concessions we made for the benefit of the financial future of the game, and it's a win-win in that situation.
COOPER: And in now -- I mean, different teams are affected, and are going to be affected by this in different ways.
OBERMAN: Right. Well, the way the union started out with their proposal on luxury tax, which is essentially what this is all about right now -- almost everything else has been almost solved and can be resolved in a matter of minutes. Originally, the only team that would be taxed under the union proposition -- the only team that would be hindered in any way from spending more money on players -- would be the New York Yankees, and the owners wanted six teams, originally eight teams, and then they went down to six. The players have come up to three, so this would now also affect Texas and Los Angeles in the player proposal. And if they can finesse this a little bit further and add maybe one more on that player's list -- so, that'd be Los Angeles, New York, Texas, and maybe the Boston Red Sox as the fourth team -- that's probably the doable deal. That's probably the solution. And if they -- the owners go along with it, we will play baseball tomorrow. And if the owners don't, there'll be a strike. People will perceive it as the player's strike, but it will ultimately have been caused by the owners and transigents (ph), if that's the way it ends up.
COOPER: So, forseeably, we could wake up tomorrow morning and still not know?
OBERMAN: Correct. You know, we can have negotiating at sunrise.
COOPER: All right. Keith Oberman, thanks. I hope you don't have to work all night long.
OBERMAN: Well, if you call it work.
COOPER: That's true. All right. Thanks, Keith. We go to Oregon now. The remembrance tonight for two teenage girls. They were said to be on-again, off-again friends. Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis, two names we have come to know very well. They will now be linked together forever. Kidnapped, killed and found on the same property less than a week ago. We go back now to CNN's Rusty Dornin.
DORNIN: Well, Anderson, it's expected to be a very emotional tribute here at the Oregon City High School. About 3,200 people are in the gymnasium. The memorial service is just getting underway. If you want to take a look now, I think we have a few of the singers, Christian group of singers by the name of Rescue, that is starting off the services. They will be starting. There will be speakers from the high school, family, friends, the little sister, mother, grandfather. This entire community has really come out.
This has been a very, very difficult time for people. It's been going on for six to eight months. Ashley Pond disappeared in January. Miranda Gaddis disappeared in March, and this community has been struggling with their disappearance ever since. And then, of course now, the horrific news that, indeed, they were murdered -- kidnapped and murdered by someone that both of the girls -- you know, who may have known both of the girls. We don't know. Let's take a listen.
COOPER: Rusty, we're going to...
DORNIN: A haunting beginning here -- a haunting beginning here to this emotional tribute to Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis. What's interesting is the collection of speakers here, not only the teachers and relatives and friends, but actually the Chief of Police in Oregon City is going to speak, which is very interesting because they have -- there has been some controversy, of course, about the fact that there was not a search of the property where the girls' bodies were discovered months ago. Ward Weaver was under suspicion months ago, and there was no search them. But, the families apparently feel very good about the Police Department. They are happy with what has happened, and they are just glad that there has been some closure in this. Anderson?
COOPER: Rusty, thanks. We'll probably be coming back to you throughout the program. A memorial service going on right now at this hour for Miranda Gaddis and Ashley Pond, two young girls killed in Oregon.
The coda now to another tragic story of another young girl lost. Martha Moxley was 15 years old when Michael Skakel beat her to death. A jury said he did it. He denies it to this day. He's had nearly 25 years of freedom to think about it. Today, a judge gave him 20 years to life to think some more.
Here again, CNN's Deborah Feyerick.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FEYERICK (voice-over): Michael Skakel came to court ready to speak, but his words were not the words Martha Moxley's family wanted to hear.
DOROTHY MOXLEY, VICTIM'S MOTHER: He didn't say he was sorry to us. I mean, I have no doubt that he's the one that killed Martha.
FEYERICK: Skakel's voice choked with tears as he appealed to the judge. Referring often to God and religion, Skakel said, quote, "I've been accused of a crime, and I'd love to be able to say I did it so it would give the Moxley's some rest. But, I can't do that," he said, "I can't bear false witness against myself." He then told the judge, "Whatever sentence you impose on me, I accept in God's name." That sentence: 20 years to life. Not the maximum, but not the minimum, either.
FEYERICK (on camera): Was there some sense of relief?
HOPE SEELEY, SKAKEL'S ATTORNEY: I think the relief for Michael was the fact that he finally got to be able to speak, and I certainly saw in his face a sense of relief for him being able to say that "I am innocent today."
DORNIN (voice-over): Skakel waived his right to testify at trial, and his lawyers are aggressively preparing an appeal. When the sentence was read, both the Skakel and Moxley families cried.
JOHN MOXLEY, VICTIM'S BROTHER: Twenty years to life -- just difficult to compare that to what life would have been like without -- with Martha. There's no such thing as fair here. You know, there's no celebration. There's no party to go to.
FEYERICK: The judge denied Skakel bail pending the appeal. If he stays out of trouble, Skakel will be eligible for parole in late April 2013. Experts say the sentence sends a message.
STAN TWARDY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think there may be a signal that's being sent here by the judge, that you don't need to keep him in prison forever. There are some mitigating circumstances.
FEYERICK: Skakel will serve his sentence here in Connecticut at a high-security prison. His lawyer says that arrangements are being made so that, in the future, his 3-year old son will be able to visit. The lawyer is saying Skakel misses him desperately. Anderson?
COOPER: Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much tonight.
Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, we'll tell you about how disaster planners deal with public panic and if it's the right way. Up next, attacking terror from the bottom up.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS) COOPER: ... as anything else. Here's CNN's Kelli Arena.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These men in Detroit are described as a terrorist sleeper cell. Their mission, according to prosecutors, to provide weapons, fake identification and safe houses for others who would come to the U.S. and carry out an attack, part of what investigators say is an infrastructure of terror inside the United States.
BOB BLITZER, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM DIRECTOR: It's just terribly important to break up the infrastructure, because not only do we interdict probable planned attacks, but it also -- there are just thousands of leads that come out of these kinds of cases, which tend to identify other people, both here and abroad, who are involved in various plots.
ARENA: Sometimes the support team is located overseas, as was the case with the September 11 hijackers. But, for terrorists, getting support in the U.S. can be crucial.
DAVID ISBY, INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: They lack even a degree of sophistication in dealing with the West, many of these people, and this is something which people who have been born here or spent here for a number of years, these can provide them with it, so they aren't picked up early on.
ARENA: In the first assault on the World Trade Center in 1993, investigators say the network provided not only contacts for buying explosives, but places to store and mix the materials.
In the Detroit case, investigators conducting an unrelated raid on this house discovered a new support group and possible reconnaissance, videos which prosecutors say suggest the men were casing Disney Land in California, among other targets. Investigators later found out some of the men now in custody worked at the Detroit Airport, and believe they were looking for security weaknesses. Prosecutors say the men belonged to the Algerian terrorist group Salafia (ph), which is loosely connected to al Qaeda.
BLITZER: Finding them is difficult if you don't have some kind of predicate, or some kind of piece of information, that's going to put you onto one or more of these conspirators.
ARENA (on camera): Even so, officials say they do expect more indictments of so-called support personnel as bits of intelligence come in and are pieced together.
Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Some other items from around the nation, starting with one more call to action against Iraq from Vice President Cheney. Speaking to Korean War veterans in San Antonio, the vice president once again accused Saddam Hussein of building weapons of mass destruction. He raised doubts, as well, about any future program of weapons inspection, saying Saddam has made a science out of deceiving inspectors in the past.
From the bottom of the Pacific off Pearl Harbor, evidence of the first battle of the war with Japan, a sunken Japanese mini-submarine discovered by researchers on a routine training mission. The sub was on its way to sink a U.S. warship, but was sunk first by the U.S.S. Ward at 6:45 a.m. December 7, 1941, one hour before the Japanese air strike began.
Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, the comic book heroes who are taking on the eggheads and, up next, the myth of panic.
COOPER: We dredged up a quote from the peak of the anthrax scare last year, a woman who said this: she said, "I see it in the toothpaste, the orange juice, the sugar. They're going to kill me with a heart attack before they kill me with anthrax." She seemed to have it exactly right. For many, the fear was always more exaggerated than the actual threat. Luckily, the anthrax scare never turned into a full-fledged panic, something that every public policy type dreads the most: the bedlam, the mayhem that causes all the vital stuff to break down for no other reason that individual fear run amok.
But, what if a fear of panic itself is actually exaggerated? Some experts now think we all may be a little more level-headed than we think we are.
The story from Jeanne Meserve.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Panic: an ingredient in almost every Hollywood disaster film. Stampeding, rioting, looting. An irrational public is part of the picture from "The War Of The Worlds" to "Titanic." But the movies have things exactly wrong, say some experts.
THOMAS GLASS, DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Really, Hollywood is the only place where you can go and find panic. If you look at what goes on in disasters, in mass emergencies, panic is actually very, very rare.
MESERVE: Example number one, September 11, when many endangered their own lives to save total strangers, and tens of thousands chipped in with donations of blood, time and money.
MONICA SCHOCH-SPANA, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: In periods of grave uncertainty and a sense of danger, helping others helps give us a sense of purpose, direction, and a sense of control.
MESERVE: Cooperation in the wreckage wrought by hurricane Andrew, another example of crisis bringing out our best instincts, not our worst. But, despite 60 years of sociological research, our worst is often what's expected by those who plan for disasters.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And we have reports of vigilantes at the Texas border trying to stop people from coming over. I don't know if you just heard that. That was a shot fired. We've heard -- there's another one.
MESERVE: Dark Winter, an exercise in which officials dealt with a fictional smallpox epidemic, included elements of public mayhem, as do most drills. Sociologists find emergency planner's assumption that there will be public panic frightening.
HENRY FISCHER, MILLERSVILLE, UNIVERSITY OF PA: Decisions are being made and will be made that may be based upon fiction more than fact, and our lives and survival may depend on this outcome.
MESERVE (on camera): For instance, could officials be too slow to impose a quarantine? Too fast to impose martial law? One example: in a planning exercise involving the detonation of a dirty bomb here in front of the Air and Space Museum, officials decided against evacuating federal workers because of the potential for mass hysteria.
(voice-over): Panic can and does occur. We've seen it at soccer matches, for instance. And if, in a biological weapons attack, for example, there isn't enough medicine or it is not fairly distributed, panic could ensue. The best preventative: proper preparation and education before a crisis, and forthright communication during a crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to vaccinate people against panic on a large-scale basis. We've got to give them tools. We've got to tell them what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones.
MESERVE: Meanwhile, sociologists say, emergency planners should be exploring ways to harness people's instinct to help in a crisis, viewing and using the public as an asset, not a liability, in times of calamity.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, my guest now says the public can be an asset in times of calamity, as Jeanne put it, but only if the government does a better job at how it handles things, especially getting information out to the public faster. David McIntyre is a terrorism expert and former Dean of the National War College, and we're pleased that he joins us now from Washington.
Thanks very much for being with us, David.
DAVID MCINTYRE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ANSER INSTITUTE FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Glad to.
COOPER: What exactly are we talking about when we speak of panic?
MCINTYRE: Well, frequently, what -- when you see it on television or you see it in a movie, what you're talking about is unreasoning flight, where people just don't know what they're afraid of, but they're afraid of something. And I agree with your analysis that that probably doesn't happen much. And when it does happen, it's limited to a short period of time. A bigger concern, though, is when people have reason for concern, when there is intelligent concern, and then they may act as a group or a large number of people and do something you don't want to happen as a government official.
COOPER: So, you -- the distinction between panic and intelligent concern is what? Panic, they feel there's no way out of a situation?
MCINTYRE: I think the big difference is information. Here's an example of intelligent concern. When the Pentagon was attacked here in Washington, D.C. on the 11th of September, a number of people went straight to school to pick up their children and, as a result, our roads were clogged and there were some problems with emergency vehicles trying to get to the emergency. If the people had had information quickly -- what do we need to do, the schools are safe, the kids are better off there than they are on the road -- we might have been able to keep the crowds at home and keep the streets empty. It's a matter of knowing instinctively, government officials recognizing instinctively they have to get some information out.
COOPER: Well, what is the danger? I mean, if government officials are making, you know, emergency plans based on the notion that the public will panic and, in fact, the public's not panicking -- they're just intelligently concerned, to use your term -- I mean, what is the danger in that? What do government officials need to know that they don't right now know?
MCINTYRE: Well, it's a matter of instinct in getting information out. We were all raised in an age when information could be controlled. That is, you could say, look; we're going to have a press conference at 5:00. I'll tell you then. But now, everybody's wired with television programs like this, with cell phones, with Blackberry. And so, people are communicating whether the government's ready for that or not. So, the issue is can we tell them early that somebody's in control, we might not have all of the answers, but we can give you some advice. Can we control the exodus? Can we tell people who needs to leave and who doesn't need to leave? It's a matter of trying to prepare for that instinctively, and not being worried that -- simply that people will run because we have -- don't have any way to communicate with them. That's the danger.
COOPER: So, essentially what you're saying is, in fact, that the danger's not so much that people will get no information. You're in a sense saying that that's impossible today, given the Internet and all these devices.
COOPER: It's that they get the wrong information, and they will get the wrong information on that unless government leaders come forward with the correct information.
MCINTYRE: Or, they'll get no information Look, I was in an airline terminal not too long ago when, unfortunately, an aircraft was lost in another city. You know, the passengers around me, the first they knew something was wrong was when people came to the terminal and turned off CNN. Well, that alarmed everybody. Then, all the cell phones began to ring telling people that there'd been an aircraft lost. We'd have been much better off if the employees had simply let us have the information. Give us access to know what's going on. People then aren't afraid. They have some idea of what to do. We've got to communicate with people. That's how you control their actions.
COOPER: So, the lesson not just to business people or airlines, but to government leaders who are making these plans, is be proactive with the information?
MCINTYRE: Absolutely. If something went wrong, every Mayor in this city -- every Mayor in this nation ought to be prepared instinctively to communicate with his local media folks and not say I'll have an announcement for you tomorrow. We're going to tell you tonight at 10. You know, news at five, but say I'll get an open line. I don't have all the facts. I'll get them to you right away. Keep this line open, and I'll provide you the information as I get it. And, by the way, I don't have all the information, but I'll be straight up and honest with you. That's how to keep people cooperating with their government in time of emergency.
COOPER: Were you surprised by the reaction of people on September 11 in New York City and elsewhere throughout the country?
MCINTYRE: No. No, I guess not. I wasn't surprised that people helped. I wasn't surprised that they were a bit stunned, either one of those two things. I was gratified at the outpouring of support. It really was the next day or two that I found most interesting and most influential, not that first hour or two hours. I expect that there will always be heroes that step forward in an emergency. It was the reaction of the next -- the American people the next two days that I found most interesting and most gratifying.
COOPER: And if it is true that panic does not occur -- that panic only occurs very rarely, I mean, in those rare instances when a ship is sinking or people are trapped somewhere and feel they can't get out, I mean, those are the times when people panic, I suppose.
MCINTYRE: That's true. But, you can extrapolate that. Now, it is absolutely a fact that if there were -- I think that if there were a biological attack in the United States, and people in that area thought there wasn't going to be enough medicine or thought their officials didn't have this under control, they would leave that area. They would try to get out of that area. And that's why it's important for the officials to get ahead of that and say, look, we do have medicine. We are going to get it to you. It's going to be provided near where you live. The worst thing you could do is run somewhere else where they don't have the medicines to offer to you. This is what I mean by saying getting ahead of the problem by providing information. COOPER: All right. David McIntyre, thanks. That's very encouraging. Good news. Thanks very much, David.
MCINTYRE: You bet, sir.
COOPER: Still ahead on NEWSNIGHT, a sighting of the Olson twins and, up next, the superheroes who went to MIT.
COOPER: Well, it's the tale of two pictures. We're going to show them both to you now. The one on the left is Valerie Fiorez (ph), heroine of the comic book Radix. The one on the right is MIT's idea of the soldier of the future. You notice something?
MIT used that image on the right to win a $50 million research grant from the Pentagon. The two comic book creators, Ray and Ben Lai, are not pleased. MIT has taken down the image from its Web site. The brothers are considering a lawsuit.
Joining me from Montreal, Ray Lai.
Thanks for being with us, Ray.
RAY LAI, CO-CREATOR, RADIX: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: How did you hear that MIT had basically used your comic book idea for their $50 million proposal?
LAI: We have fans from California calling us saying that when, you know, they saw it in the newspaper. So, basically, that's what -- that's how we found out about it.
COOPER: The -- MIT has said that they did, in fact, copy it, though innocently. They said they did not intentionally do it. They were unaware of it. Is that good enough for you?
LAI: You know, of course they're saying it now, but -- you know, I don't know what really happened, but they put somebody else's name on it. So -- and it's not as simple as just taking it off the Web site. They actually scanned it off the books.
COOPER: Now, the idea of your comic -- and, I mean, the heroine in your comic basically has -- I mean, this suit and sort of supernatural powers, as I guess a lot of comic characters do, and that's sort of what MIT was selling to the Pentagon. They were talking about developing technologies with suits that would heal soldiers, would make them able to leap 20 feet. I mean, do you see similarities in the idea that MIT is proposing to your comic books?
LAI: Well, there's definitely some similarities, especially when they use the image to describe what they're doing -- they're trying to do. So, I don't know how much of it is from the comic book. I don't know if they really know about it. All I know is they published the image without our permission, and they did it with -- by putting somebody else's name on it. COOPER: Besides your obvious anger over this, I mean, does it kind of scare you that, you know, the Pentagon is giving $50 million to folks to develop ideas based on a comic book, or at least develop images based on a comic book?
LAI: Well, I mean, that's up to the public to decide. I mean, you know, it's scary that if they actually make it into reality, I don't know what kind of world we'll be living in.
COOPER: Are you going to sue? I mean, I know you sent a cease- and-desist order, or your lawyers did, to MIT to take it off their Web site. They've sort of apologized. Is there another step? I mean, I suppose you could sue for copyright infringement or something.
LAI: Well, some think that, but I'm leaving that to our lawyers. So, we're weighing our options right now.
COOPER: Always an ominous sentence, weighing options and leaving it to the lawyers. What -- just to inform some viewers, this -- MIT is basically going to start an institute for soldier nanotechnologies, so that's what this $50 million is going to. What -- when you look at the image that MIT sent into the Pentagon, I mean, what do you see from your comic book? We're showing both images side- by-side right now.
LAI: Well, they actually took more than just the main character. They took the background off another page inside the book, and they took the helmet off another page inside the book. So, you know, the entire image is piece and bits from different parts of the book.
COOPER: There are some who say, you know, this is really a plus for you and your brother, that, you know, this is getting your comic book a lot of publicity, a lot of notoriety. A lot of people probably talking about it who wouldn't before. Do you agree?
LAI: Well, of course -- I mean, we're getting a lot more coverage than if this didn't happen. But, I think the important thing is for the other universities to know about it, what MIT did, and let them judge whether the competition was fair or not, because it is -- it was an open competition.
COOPER: You're saying that because other universities were also applying for this Pentagon, and MIT is the one who won. Just, you know, for the record, the Pentagon has said that it wasn't just the illustrations in the pentagon -- in the MIT proposal that won then that day was their ideas, as well. So -- but, Mr. Lai, we appreciate you coming in and appreciate you talking with us, and good luck with your comic...
LAI: All right.
COOPER: We'll follow the story as it develops.
LAI: OK, thank you.
COOPER: Thanks a lot. A few quick stories from around the world tonight. Pretty rare. We can combine shameless pandering and a shameless pun at the same time. It's a rare day. Yes, it's a panda story. Even better, a baby panda story. Nielson families, take note: two Chinese Pandas, Bean-Bean and Shu-Lan, are the proud mothers of two male pandas. Oh, yes. No names yet. This is the 14th panda Bean-Bean has had, or should we say the 14th baby Bean-Bean will admit to. That's right, Bean-Bean gets around. That's what I heard, anyway. People are talking. That's what the other girls in the restroom are saying.
They call him "Crocodile Boy." Actually, that's what we call him. He's a 10-year old Thai boy who allegedly adopted a crocodile as a pet. It's one of those things, like, the video pops up. Who knows if it's real? I don't know. Seems we get along well with this croc, too. His favorite pastime is watching TV and, apparently, brushing the teeth there. I don't know. I'm not sure I buy it.
From Japan, a story that needs no commentary, and please, no commentary or e-mail. Such a dumb idea, it speaks for itself: a bra made of glass. For the time being, the company is, mercifully, not selling any to the public. Yeah. Ahead on NEWSNIGHT: Remembering.
COOPER: We've been taking your proposals for what to do with those 16 acres down at Ground Zero for several weeks now. We've gotten thousands of them. We'd still like to get some more. Go to cnn.com/newsnight. You can follow the links, and you'll see how to send your ideas in.
This idea came from Marty in Milwaukee. It's a sphere held up by two twin towers. The upper half of the sphere would house a memorial. Daniel in New Jersey sent us this, sort of a space needle theme. It would be called the Memorial Tower and would be the world's tallest building. This one from Matt in Virginia. No indication that McDonald's is the actual sponsor behind this one. Matt thinks the arches will restore the skyline, but also allow for a big memorial park. And this from Patrick in New York, basically a re-design of the old towers with a more modern look, he says. We appreciate the ideas. Keep them coming.
Also, keep an eye out for CNN Presents 16 Acres. Aaron Brown is hosting the hour all about the debate over how to re-build the Ground Zero. We'll hear from the families of the victims, area residents, politicians, who like all of us, have a stake in what is built there. You can see 16 Acres on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN and Sunday at 7:00 p.m. And Monday, 16 Acres will appear as a special NEWSNIGHT at the usual time, 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. Eastern.
We think of lower Manhattan as a sort of a stagnant place just waiting patiently until we decide just want to do there. But, things are still being discovered close to Ground Zero. Less than two weeks ago, for instance, workers found a pelvic bone on top of a building at the Southwest edge of the site. And today, bone fragments were found on another rooftop. It's another example that, while there was a ceremony earlier this summer, the recovery effort has not ended, and it may never end for the people who lost someone on that day. Remembering is all they have and, tonight, Jasmine remembers her mother, Celeste Victoria (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, to me, she was always like a Super Mom. I thought she could do anything that she wanted to and, you know, she was that kind of person. Anything she put her mind to, she could get done, you know, in terms of her career or her personal life, or just anything, that she could get anything done if she wanted. She went back to college when I was probably about nine or 10. So, she was, you know, a single mom raising me as she went through college and, you know, that's something incredible. You know, college is hard for me. I don't have any kids or anything, so I can't imagine how she was able to do that, and she was taking a full course load, plus raising me and, you know, putting me through -- always getting me into the best schools and the best classes and the best after-school programs and, you know, still being active in her personal life.
My mom was a beautiful person, and she had a wonderful smile, a wonderful spirit. I have to say, the one thing that I think I have from her now, especially going through this time, the most important thing is her strength. She's an incredibly strong woman. She was an incredible spirit, you know. She was full of happiness, full of life. So, if I could take anything from her, those would be the attributes I would take.
COOPER: Finally from us tonight, Manhattan is an absolute madhouse tonight. Traffic jams, cops everywhere, celebrity sightings like you wouldn't believe. All, as best as I can tell, for one thing and one thing only -- well, actually two things, and two things only -- the Olson twins. That's right, Mary Kate and Ashley were at Radio City Music Hall tonight surrounded by thousands of their closest friends, but I'm told they had just one thing on their minds: that's right, me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON: I have a question for you. What do you guys think of Anderson Cooper?
UNIDENTIFIED OLSEN: Who?
GIBSON: Anderson Cooper. He's an anchor on CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED OLSEN: I don't know him. Sorry.
GIBSON: He's a big -- I thought you guys knew him. He's a big fan of yours.
UNIDENTIFIED OLSEN: Oh, thank you.
GIBSON: No? All right. But, congratulations and happy birthday.
UNIDENTIFIED OLSEN: Thank you.
GIBSON: And it was a pleasure meeting you.
UNIDENTIFIED OLSEN: It was nice meeting you.
GIBSON: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They could not have been less interested. I mean, something must have got lost in the translation. Kendis Gibson, who was actually in the presence of the Olsens, joins us right now. Kendis, what was that about? They didn't know me?
GIBSON: Andy (ph), I'm still scratching my head about it. I showed them a photo. I had, like, all 28 episodes of The Mole one and two, and it didn't work.
COOPER: Oh, yes?
GIBSON: I don't know.
COOPER: All right. You want to play there, Kendis? I got something to play with. Do we have that tape ready? Kendis, you -- a little earlier in the day you spoke with Wolf Blitzer, and there was really good -- really good repartee between you. I just want to roll that tape for a moment here -- right here.
GIBSON: Oh, I told you -- yes, a couple weeks ago, she was in Atlanta and showed me some moves. I dare not try to do it right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER: Go ahead, let's see. Go ahead. Let's see a few of those moves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wolf Blitzer asking you to dance, and that's what you did? Man, it was -- don't go moling (ph) on me because I'll -- I can take you.
GIBSON: I've now learned the cabbage patch since that, so I'm sure you're -- you'll be happy to know that, right?
COOPER: All right. So, I know -- just so we let viewers know, this was not actually all about the Olsens tonight. It was actually the MTV Music Awards, I'm told, and there were a couple other people there besides the Olsens. Is that right?
GIBSON: Yes, there were a few other -- couple other people that people might know about. Justin Timberlake performing, Britney Spears also here. I'm told, Anderson -- this was interesting, that Britney sat at one end of the hall and Justin at the opposite end. They tried to keep most of the celebrity ex-couples apart. Lisa Marie Presley and also Michael Jackson were also here in the same room. So, just imagine being a fly on the wall in the Green Room for that.
COOPER: Well, also, there was, like, Puff Diddy or Puff Daddy -- Diddy -- Piddy -- and Jennifer Lopez was there, and they weren't together, right? The tension -- the tension in that room must have just been extraordinary, wasn't it?
GIBSON: It absolutely was, and just with their bodyguards, the tension must have been incredible. Yes -- but P. Diddy was here, and J.Lo here also. We're told that Ben Affleck, her presumed new beau, was not here with her. But, they also stayed apart. Lots of couples here -- former couples who didn't want anything to do with each other.
COOPER: Well, Kendis, you know, I would quiz you about who won and who lost but, frankly, I don't think I would recognize any of the names if you told me, and probably our viewers wouldn't, either. So, I don't even think it's worth it. But, we do appreciate you joining us tonight, and I appreciate -- just stay on those Olsen's all night. Go to the after-parties. Just keep after them. If you just keep mentioning my name, and I'm sure they'll come around, Kendis.
GIBSON: We have them in the -- we have them in the one-on-one room, or the one-and-two room. We'll talk to them.
COOPER: All right. Thanks a lot, Kendis.
And that is NEWSNIGHT for tonight. Thanks for watching. Don't forget, we're hot on the trail of this wanted man. That's right, Charles Nelson Reilly, where are you? He was not at the Music Awards. We're told Kendis was looking. We've been trying to find him since Monday when in the Wall Street Journal article he complained he couldn't get on TV. We want him on TV. Call us, Mr. Reilly.
I'm Anderson Cooper. See you tomorrow.
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Compromise; Skakel Gets 20 To Life; Loved Ones Say Goodbye to Pond, Gaddis>