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America and the Afterlife; New Test of Will in Iraq

Aired November 3, 2003 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: "In Focus" tonight: new explosions in Iraq on the heels of the deadliest day for Americans in seven months. How will the U.S. respond to the new test of will in Iraq?
America's colleges, the rising conservative stronghold. The day before the "Rock the Vote" presidential debate, we'll look at where the nation's nine million campus voters are headed.

Americans and the afterlife, the surprising results of a survey on where Americans think they're going.

Good evening. Welcome. Thanks for starting the week off with us.

Also ahead tonight: the latest information from the D.C. area sniper trial. A federal agent recounts the arrest of suspect John Allen Muhammad.

And our debate tonight: As President Bush gets ready to sign a law banning some late-term abortions, is it the first step towards a larger rollback of legal abortion?

Plus, osteoporosis threatens 44 million Americans. Now a medical breakthrough could lead to tests to tell if you're at risk.

Also, the pet that could bridge the universal divide between cat people and dog people.

First, though, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now. California fires officials expect all of the state's wildfires to be contained by tomorrow afternoon. Also, on Tuesday, President Bush expected to tour some of the devastated areas. The fires have burned 750,000 acres, destroyed 3,500 structures.

On a voice vote this afternoon, the Senate approved President Bush's request for $87.5 billion for the military, plus reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure passed the House on Friday.

The Defense Department will pay Linda Tripp about $600,000 to settle a lawsuit over the release of confidential information. Tripp is the woman whose secretly taped conversation with Monica Lewinsky helped to lead to the impeachment of President Clinton. She claimed the Clinton administration leaked personal information about her to the press in retaliation.

"In Focus" tonight: the battleground that is still Iraq and some battles at home over America's willingness to keep on fighting. Iraqi rebels are keeping up their barrage of attacks the day after 19 Americans died helping maintain the U.S.-led occupation in that country. Let's turn to senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre, who joins us on another grim day of postwar turmoil.

Good evening, Jamie.


And on this day, the U.S. military is still reeling from the aftermath of yesterday's deadly helicopter attack which killed 16 U.S. soldiers. Today, at Ramstein, Germany, we could see 16 of the 20 survivors being taken off a plane and taken into a U.S. medical facility in Ramstein for medical treatment. The investigation of this accident is increasingly pointing to the idea that the crew had very little time to react.

The helicopter was flying at a low level, pentagon sources say a couple of hundred feet over the ground, when, apparently, one of them was hit by a surface-to-air missile, shoulder-fired, that may not have exploded, but hit the rear engine part of the helicopter, causing it to create a chain of events in which it crashed into a spiral on the ground.

The Pentagon says it could operate these helicopters at night, and that would reduce the rink, but they have no plans to do that. They still think helicopters are the safest and fastest way to get troops around Iraq.

ZAHN: Jamie McIntyre, thanks for the update.

The high loss of American lives in the past two days comes as polls show public approval slipping for the Bush administration's Iraq policy. How long will support last for the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq?

Joins us is from Washington are CNN contributor and Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke and "Newsweek" senior editor Michael Hirsh, author of "At War With Ourselves."

Welcome to both of you.



ZAHN: Mike, I'd like to start with you this evening.

In terms of public perception, what's the tipping point here?

MICHAEL HIRSH, AUTHOR, "AT WAR WITH OURSELVES": That's going to be the big question for Bush going into 2004, how many grim stories of dead and wounded coming back to their hometowns, how many local newspaper stories, local TV headlines, about families grieving.

When does that point get reached when he starts to precipitously fall in terms of support for a prolonged U.S. presence there, particularly with it being as open-ended as it is now and no apparent plan on the table?

ZAHN: Well, Torie, let's look at some poll numbers here. For the first time, public polls show support for the effort in Iraq has fallen for the first time to less than 50 percent, according to a "Washington Post"/ABC News poll.

Look at these numbers: 47 percent approve of the president's handling of Iraq. Well, actually, you can't see the numbers right now.

CLARKE: Right.

ZAHN: Do you see this erosion stopping?

CLARKE: I think I do.

And I try never to read too much into a poll, whether it's a positive poll or a negative poll. It's more important to look at trends. And I think the American people have got a tougher gut and can stick this out longer than some people give them credit for. I think what will make a big difference going forward is if the president and the secretaries of state and defense continue to get out there and be very clear and very direct with the American people about what's at stake and how hard this will be.

And, as Secretary Rumsfeld said yesterday, it was a tragic, tragic day, and bad things will happen, and people will die, which is awful. Your heart just breaks for those kids and their families. But it is important to stick it out, probably more now than ever.

ZAHN: Victoria and Michael, we have a rather unscientific sampling of public opinion that our own Deborah Feyerick took to the streets and tried to gauge public's reaction since yesterday's downing of that Chinook helicopter.

Let's all listen together.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wherever you go, talk turns to war and American soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to see more deaths and more deaths and more deaths.

FEYERICK: Shauna Lynch's (ph) 19-year-old niece is in the Navy, serving in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to know when they're coming home. When is it going to over?

FEYERICK: Actress Karen Elliott (ph) is touring the country with the Broadway musical "Les Miserables".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the American people are being given a song and a dance as to why we're really there.

FEYERICK: Brian Kelly (ph) always opposed the war. His resolve against it is even stronger now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were lying to us and our children are dying.

FEYERICK: But so is Lawrence Kaza's (ph) resolve supporting it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this particular case, we had to take military action. We took it. It was swift. And now comes the tough job.

FEYERICK: Casualties is the cost of democracy for this Atlanta man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's just part of the price we're going to pay securing Iraqi freedom.

FEYERICK: California student Trini Pie (ph) is still wondering what happened to those weapons of mass destruction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe that there's any confirmation that any of the evidence really showed that it was necessary and that Iraq in any way posed an immediate threat.


ZAHN: That was Deborah Feyerick region for us.

And we turn back now to Victoria Clarke and Michael Hirsh.

Michael, there's one image that we are not going to see, U.S. soldiers coming home to Dover. Help our audience understand why we won't see those images.

HIRSH: Well, the Pentagon is basically suppressing images, I think fearful of the negative impact, again, the drumbeat of returning bodies. And it's part of the credibility gap that this administration faces.

I think it really comes down to that. The good story leading up to the war, how quick liberation was going to be and how the Iraqis would welcome it, how we would find WMD, none of that has panned out. And I think you hear that in some of the comments that we just heard just now, a sense that the American people are not getting the straight story.

ZAHN: Victoria, is allowing coverage of the bodies coming home simply too risky for this administration?

CLARKE: Well, a small correction.

My understanding is that the decision about whether or not you allow coverage of bodies returning actually goes back to legal battles that were fought out during the Clinton administration. It did not come up as an issue on my watch. I happen to believe that people should be allowed to cover those events.

I think, if you're going to sign pieces of paper saying young people are going to put their lives at risk and young people are going to die for important causes, then we should be willing to let people see what happens and the kinds of terrible things that can happen in conflicts. And I think that is being very straight with the American people.

ZAHN: So how manipulative do you think, Michael, the administration is?

HIRSH: Well, I think, up until now, clearly they have been selling a story that is rosier in rhetoric than it is in reality. And that's the big problem.

That's why you hear the comparisons to Vietnam these days, not so much because it's like Vietnam there, though you can certainly make analogies to problems of winning hearts and minds, but because of the difference between what is heard at the podium and what seems to be happening on the ground, the kind of things our reporters are finding out about back there, and the kind of negative commentary that you hear from families of the dead and the maimed, who are wondering what is the plan and how long are we going to be there.

There doesn't seem to be any kind of an exit strategy that the American people can understand. I think that's going to be a huge problem for Bush in campaign 2004.

ZAHN: Of course, Deborah Feyerick's reporting showing us just how divided public opinion is at this juncture.

Michael Hirsh, and Victoria Clarke, thanks for your time tonight.

CLARKE: Thank you.

HIRSH: Sure.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm dying to know, is it boxers or briefs?




ZAHN: Oh, ouch. The president certainly remembers that moment. We all remember it, if we were watching the debate last night. That famous moment with Bill Clinton changed the way politicians relate to America's youth.

Well, tomorrow night, "America Rocks the Vote." Beginning at 7:00 Eastern, Anderson Cooper will host a live, unscripted, uncensored town hall meeting in Boston between Democratic presidential candidates and young voters.

And tonight, we're going to look at politics on campus. Anderson joins us from Boston.

Hi, Anderson.


ZAHN: Here in our studio is "TIME" magazine columnist and our regular contributor Joe Klein.


ZAHN: So, Anderson, we've had four debates now. We're a year away from the election. What are we going to hear tomorrow night that we haven't heard so far?

COOPER: I think the big difference is going to come from the audience. And you're going to hear questions that -- they're not from professional journalists. They're from 18- to 29-year-olds.

And their concerns, I think, are different than a lot of the concerns you've been hearing voiced before, and the energy that they bring to it. You've also got to remember, this is a TV-savvy generation. They have grown up seeing politicians on TV. And they know what talking points are. They know what sound bites are. They want to go beyond that.

And I think they want to hear not just what's in a candidate's head or what's in the prepared text. They want to hear what's in a candidate's heart. They want the candidate to be real.

ZAHN: Well, there are a lot of poll numbers that we need to address to figure whether these folks will ever up at the polls. A CNN/"USA Today" poll from last week has 89 percent of 18-to-29ers saying they are planning to vote in 2004.But only 36 percent of the same age group actually did vote in the year 2000.

Joe, do you believe you've going to see a surge of young voters in this upcoming election?

KLEIN: Boy, I certainly hope so.

We can have this election without having any young people vote, but I don't know that we can continue to have a democracy without young people voting. We've been able to get away for the last 30 or 40 years with low turnouts, because there weren't big decisions to make. It was essentially a peaceful, placid period. But now there are huge decisions that are going to be made about the war, about the economy, about how they're going to pay for my retirement.

And I think -- I'm very hopeful that you'll get somewhere between that 36 percent and the 89 percent.


ZAHN: Oh, go ahead, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, if I could just jump in.

I think, traditionally, when people answer polls, they say, oh, yes, of course I'm going to go vote. Often, they don't vote, as numbers, though, show. But if you look at past voting records, 1972 and 1992 were the big years for young voter turnout. In 1972, the first presidential election after the voting age was lowered to 18, the war a huge issue in that year. In 1992, the aftermath of the Gulf War, but also the economy, huge issues.

Both those issues are polling very high these days. So that could indicate some sort of high youth voter turnout. We're just going to have to wait and see.

ZAHN: Which of the Democratic candidates has an edge with this audience tomorrow night?

KLEIN: Well, so far, Howard Dean has, mostly because he took a very strong position against the war early on. And that attracted a certain group of young people.

But, in a broader sense, he doesn't sound like a politician. He's an angry guy. He blows off steam. He makes a fool of himself sometimes. And that seems real to young voters.

ZAHN: And what do you think the degree of success will be tomorrow night, Anderson, with these students getting these candidates off their talking points?

COOPER: I think, if anybody can do it, this group right here can do it. As I said, they know about talking points. And it's a very intimate setting here in Faneuil Hall. It's a historic, beautiful hall. It may look huge on TV. It's actually quite intimate. I think there is going to be an energy here and an excitement and a desire to push the candidates more than what we have seen thus far.

COOPER: Well, we will be watching you. You look very lonely in that intimate room tonight. But it looks like it's a nice backdrop for the work you have got to get done. And we want to remind everybody to join us right at the end of Anderson's debate, where we will try to cut through the spin and have some post-debate analysis with Joe Klein as well.

Thanks, Anderson. Thanks, Joe.


ZAHN: See you tomorrow night, Anderson.

And we're going to take a short break here. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Testimony today at the D.C. area sniper trial concentrated on the final shooting and then the events surrounding the arrest of defendant John Allen Muhammad.

Jeanne Meserve is covering the trial and joins us from Virginia Beach this evening.

Good evening, Jeanne.


Denise Johnson fought back tears as she describes her final conversation with her husband, Conrad Johnson, who was a bus driver and a sniper victim. Investigators talked about the evidence they found at the scene, including a note with the words, "Do not play these childish games with us." On the note, there were 12 red stars and then a 13th, a different color, with an arrow and the words "Next person your choice."

Today, the prosecution began weaving together a lot of the evidence that was found in the Chevy Caprice in which Muhammad and Malvo were arrested, including the Bushmaster rifle which was found hidden under the backseat, loaded, with live ammunition in the chamber. Also, they talked about two gloves, one of them found stuffed in to porthole in the trunk, the other apparently a match found at the scene of the Conrad Johnson shooting.

There was one bump in the road for the prosecution. Una James, who is the mother of Lee Malvo, had been expected to take the stand for the prosecution later this week, apparently to testify about what she said was the negative influence that John Muhammad had on her son. But when she got to the airport in Jamaica last night, she was very upset, apparently, that she had been corralled into this country to testify against Muhammad, but not in defense of her son.

In the end, she decided to not get on the airplane. It's unclear whether she will ever take the witness stand here -- Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Jeanne, thanks so much.

There are developments today in another high-profile case. At Scott Peterson's preliminary hearing, experts testified about the reliability of a DNA test. Prosecutors believe the test shows hair found on some pliers in Peterson's boat came from his dead wife, Laci.

Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us from Modesto on that and some other legal matters.

Hi, Jeffrey. How you doing tonight?


ZAHN: So it was all about DNA in court today, wasn't it? What did we learn?

TOOBIN: It was all about a single strand of hair that's been the focus of this entire preliminary hearing. Does this hair belong to Laci Peterson? The government, using a test called mitochondrial DNA, a less reliable kind of DNA test, some says, yes, it's a match to Laci Peterson

The defense put on an expert today, saying, this is unreliable technology. Clearly, I think this will be admitted into evidence. But like a lot of things in the government's case, it is not quite proof that Scott Peterson killed anybody, because Scott Peterson was married to Laci Peterson. The fact that her hair turns up in his boat could have come off his clothing. It is incriminating, but it's not quite totally incriminating. And that seems to be what's missing from the government's case so far.

ZAHN: When can we expect, too, the long-anticipated appearance of Scott Peterson's girlfriend Amber Frey in the courtroom?

TOOBIN: Boy, this preliminary hearing is moving slowly. I don't think it will be tomorrow. There's no court on Friday. I think perhaps Wednesday or Thursday, we'll see Amber Frey, but also quite possible next week. Also possible, we won't see her at all. The government may decide to go to make their case in the preliminary hearing, at least, without exposing her to cross-examination.

ZAHN: And then quickly moving on to some Supreme Court reaction and a case involving HMOs. What's that all about?

TOOBIN: This is a case that millions of people can relate to, is, can you sue an insurance company when you're denied coverage for a procedure? The issue is kind of technical. Does state law apply, which tends to be more sympathetic to patients, or does federal law apply, which is better for insurance companies?

But it's a huge issue with enormous stakes for lots of people who are dealing with these problems.

ZAHN: And finally tonight, we close with Linda Tripp, only fitting in the same segment where we heard the former president talking about wearing briefs a little bit earlier in the hour. Linda Tripp, of course, now getting, what, a $600,000 settlement from the U.S. government.

TOOBIN: You know what they call that? A lot of money.

ZAHN: Yes. How did this happen?

TOOBIN: I don't want to be too cynical, but I would like to know whether Republican political appointees signed off on this, because she had no friends at all in the Democratic Defense Department and she had lots of friends in the Republican Defense Department. That's who signed off on the money. This is a lot of money for a violation of the Privacy Act, without a trial. It's, let's say, unusual good fortune for someone in Linda Tripp's position. And she should spend it wisely.

ZAHN: So let's see what she does with it. But, so, basically her argument was, that she was -- a lot of really bad information about her personal life was leaked to the press. TOOBIN: Well, she says a lot. It's not clear that it was a lot. It was apparently some information about her personal life was leaked to the press. But, as I understand it, in violations of the Privacy Act, there has never been even a jury award of this much. So she did awfully well for a claim that other people have not done so well on.

ZAHN: Jeffrey Toobin, handling a lot of legal matters for us this evening, thanks so much.

Maybe by the end of hour, I'll be able to talk.

The surprising answers on what Americans think happens after they die, a survey on heaven and hell.

And a moving gathering of survivors, the last generation of those who escaped the Holocaust.


ZAHN: It is one of darkest eras in humankind, the slaughter of millions of men, women and children, for no other reason than their heritage. But some survived the Holocaust during World War II.

And this past weekend, as Bruce Morton shows us, thousands of them were reunited with people who worked to save them.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands came. They had a bulletin board, information region by region, camp by camp. Bela Clamage had just put up the name of her father's hometown when she heard a stranger repeat it.

BELA CLAMAGE, DAUGHTER OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: So I said, did you just say (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? And he said, yes, who do you know? So then we started talking. And then I called my dad.

MORTON: Seconds later, Jack Sarna (ph) and Bela's dad are talking about people they haven't seen for years. It made Bela's day.

CLAMAGE: Hi, daddy.

MORTON: People dance. People cry. Survivors, some with the concentration camp number still tattooed on their arms, and the kids, maybe grandchildren. Sally Sax Sachs had eight brothers and sisters. They died. She lived.

SALLY SACHS, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: And I cannot forget. I live with it every single day of the minute. I cannot forget their faces. They were very young. They kill them just because they were Jewish.

MORTON: Bernie Frydenberg remembers a train and his mother saying, "Run." He did.

BERNIE FRYDENBERG, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: I slipped under the railway and ran into a village nearby. And that's the last time I saw my mother and my oldest sister.

MORTON: Yap Penrat (ph), Dutch, not Jewish, helped some 400 Jews escape to France. That was dangerous, of course. He's not sure why he risked it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do things or you don't.

MORTON: They had a ceremony, buried a time capsule, a way of saying the survivors are old now. This is probably their last reunion. Keeping the memories alive is up to the next generation.

ELIE WIESEL, NOBEL LAUREATE: Our presence here today is our answer to their silent question. We have kept our promise. We have not forgotten you.

MORTON: So much hate, so much killing, all those years ago. Hate lives on, of course. Just think of the Middle East. Nesse Godin survived concentration camps, labor camps, a death march. She wanted to die, but the women with her said no.

NESSE GODIN, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: "Little girl, don't pray to die. Pray to live. If you survive, don't let us be forgotten. Tell the world what hatred and indifference can do."

MORTON: We are still learning that hard lesson.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: Keeping the memories alive in a very powerful way.

Changing our focus now, it is one of the most polarizing debates in the nation, abortion rights. What will be the effect of the new ban on some late-term abortions?

And will your children be at risk for brittle bones? New hope for a test to predict osteoporosis, a disorder that affects 44 million Americans

Also, the cat that just might turns the heads of dog people and become the next big pet.


ZAHN: And welcome back.

Here are some of the headlines you need to know here at the bottom of the hour.

Senator Bob Graham of Florida will not run for another term next year. Graham, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race last month, is the fourth Democratic senator from the South who has decided it's time to leave Congress after 2004.

The U.S. Supreme Court today turned appeals of the Ten Commandments case in Alabama. Lower courts had ordered the chief justice of Alabama's State Supreme Court to remove the granite monument from the state's judicial center. He did, but he also appealed. Well, the high court rejected the case without comment.

Some new research shows that TV sitcoms like "Friends" are an effective means for sex education for teenagers. A Rand Corporation study found that teens actually remembered information a month later about condom failure after one of the characters got pregnant.

On Wednesday, anti-abortion activists will claim victory in a battle that has lasted for years. President Bush plans to sign a bill that will either outlaw a specific abortion procedure or second trimester abortions in general, depending on whom you talk to.

We are now talking to Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in Washington, and Republican Congresswoman Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania. She joins us from Pittsburgh tonight.

Good to see you both of you.

ZAHN: So, Gloria, what makes this week so pivotal in the history of this issue?

GLORIA FELDT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: This is the first time that the White House and both houses of Congress and, increasingly, the federal courts have been aligned in lock step and ready to take away a woman's right to choose. I think that's what the American people are now seeing.

And this campaign of lies and distortions that has been carried on about this abortion ban procedure has now reached its culmination. And before the ink is dry on President Bush's signature, you may be sure that Planned Parenthood will be filing suit on behalf of our physicians and our patients.

ZAHN: Representative Hart, you heard what Gloria had to say. She believes this is all an effort to ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. Is that what -- the way you see it?


This is a very narrowly drawn ban. It is a ban that was supported by pro-life and pro-choice members of Congress. It is a ban that -- on a procedure that the late Senator Pat Moynihan called infanticide..

This is not anything but simply a ban on a gruesome, barbaric procedure that...


HART: ....kills a child in the process of that child basically being born.

FELDT: You're just wrong. You're just wrong. You're just wrong.


ZAHN: Hang on. Let's go one at a time here. Gloria, react to that, and then let's give the representative a chance.

FELDT: This bill would outlaw the safest and best procedures that a physician can provide to a woman, and it should be up to the physician to decide what is the best procedure in the interest of the patient, not Congress, not -- not the federal government, but the physician and the woman should decide what's the most effective and most -- best procedure to preserve her health and her life.

ZAHN: Representative Hart?

HART: Well, I serve on the Judiciary Committee, and I sat through a lot of hearings with physicians' testimony telling us that this procedure is never necessary to preserve the life or the health of a mother. It is a procedure that is no longer endorsed by the gentleman who invented it, Dr. Haskell from Ohio. It is a procedure that, fortunately, the obstetricians and gynecologists do not endorse. It is not taught in medical schools. This is a very narrow law.


ZAHN: Let me move both of you on to this issue.

Gloria, I want you to react to something the president said last week, and I guess my question to you're not -- you don't think he's telling the truth when he said that. Let's listen together.


BUSH: I don't think the culture has changed to the extent that the American people or the Congress would totally ban abortions.


ZAHN: Doesn't that end the debate for now, Gloria?

FELDT: Oh, absolutely not. The point is that President Bush and Congresswoman Hart, and others who are anti-choice and who have supported this legislation, their goal is to outlaw not only all abortions, but they're also defunding family planning. Congresswoman Hart has also opposed even emergency contraception that would prevent half of all unintended pregnancies and half of all abortions in this country.


FELDT: She has not supported contraceptive equity legislation legislation....


ZAHN: Representative Hart, why don't you answer the very narrow question that Gloria just raised?


ZAHN: The one issue -- she's saying partial birth abortion is one issue. The other issue is, you know, education programs don't promote the use of condoms, that don't promote the use of other techniques that would save young people from having unwanted pregnancies.

HART: Well, first, the issue that we have been talking about -- and she keeps denying what the bill actually does. And what it simply does is outlaw this particular late abortion procedure, that basically kills a child -- the physician begins to bring the child through the birth canal, and when the child is partial out of the birth canal, the child is killed with scissors or some kind of sharp instrument. That's this procedure. So to...

FELDT: It's not just one procedure, and you know it.


HART: It's not a distortion. We've had incredible amounts of testimony from physicians, from the AMA, from obstetricians and gynecologists, you name it.


ZAHN: All right. I'm going to have to cut you off. Gloria, you get the last word, and I can only give you about 20 seconds to make a final thought.

FELDT: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have opposed this measure...

HART: Well, that's untrue.

FELDT: Because Congress should not be practicing medicine...


FELDT: ....decide the best procedure to provide to preserve the health of the patients.

HART: We are simply outlawing a barbaric procedure that kills a baby during the process of birth.

ZAHN: Well, our audience no doubt can make their own judgments based on the fierce opposition you all had to each other and each other's points of views.

Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Representative Melissa Hart on Pennsylvania, thank you both for dropping by.

New research today on the prominent effects (ph) on 44 million Americans and how it may help you find out if you and your children are at risk for osteoporosis.

And heaven and hell. We're going to look at what's behind a survey on where Americans believe they'll go after they die.


ZAHN: Some important health news now. Accord to the national osteoporosis foundation, severe weakening of the bones is a threat to some 44 million Americans, including children who skip milk in favor of soda and juice. So now some researchers in Iceland say they have pinned do you think the gene that signals a three fold increase in the risk of developing the problem. Joining us now to tell us a little bit more about what this all means in plain English, let's go to Nancy Snyderman, vice president of Johnson and Johnson who had 18 years of experience as a medical journalist.

Good to see you, Nancy.


Talk about flying in the face of conventional wisdom. We've always paid attention to the risk that older people face when it comes to osteoporosis. We now know that children are at great risk of developing this.

Yes, we always think about the little old lady who falls down the steps, but in fact her bone breaks first. And it's important for women to know their chance of having osteoporosis is as great as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer combined. But if you put older people aside. You have to look at our kids because their bone mass really peaks during adolescence. And unless you really take care of yourself, you run the risk of having your bones become more mottled. And you very wisely brought up the juice versus milk aspect. I am a big believer that kids should drink there milk, albeit non-fat milk. We now have a nation of kids who love their juice and love lemonade, and love their water, and they're sort of dairy-deficient. And know we are looking at a new generation of kids who look fit, but in fact they're somewhat malnourished as far as calcium scores. And their bones are at risk.

ZAHN: Any chance you can come to my house and impose that milk rule. Good luck. Let's talk about this gene, though. And what that will enable doctors to do. Does that mean then you can take a young child and predict with pretty good degree of accuracy whether that child will be at great risk for osteoporosis down the road?

SNYDERMAN: That's exactly what you'll be able to do. This test is not available to the public yet. It will raise questions as to whether it's too costly, whether it's a good screening tool, the things that always happen when science breaks through to new frontiers. But nonetheless as we decode the human genome, and we figure out what gene's are where and what they do.

The glimpse into our future is that we will be able when a woman is pregnant to take a little fluid, look at the entire genetic makeup of a fetus and say, guess what? You're at risk for this and this. And the importance of knowing whether you're at risk for osteoporosis or not, is some medication really can weaken your bones. Certain types of chemo therapy, steroids, some anti-seizure medication can all weaken bones. So if I'm a doctor and I have to put you on medicine, I can say, hey, Paula, we know you're geneticly your at risk, you have to take this medicine, so let's take precautions now to make sure you don't come down with a fracture. Absolutely, genetic testing is going to be a screening tool.

ZAHN: So you have the gene. How long before you have a screening test that would be widely available to everyone?

SNYDERMAN: Probably the next couple of years. The big race will always be towards new science. And science and technology will always win. The real question, though, since we with do bone density tests that are inexpensive and easy to screen, that will still stay the norm. But in the next couple years, you'll be able to go in for a gene test. However, I should say, for the average American, for Asians and Caucasians where this is a bigger problem, don't wait for you genetic testing. You should do weight-bearing exercise like walking, lifting weights, running. You should be eating calcium-rich foods, don't drink don't smoke, all the things that keep your bones healthy. Then if you have a family history or you're worried, you can get the genetic test on top of it. But don't wait until it's too late and you already find your bones have little holes in them.

ZAHN: Nancy, I want to asks you this. Do you think in our lifetime we will see a scientist come up with a blueprint for a child at birth?

SNYDERMAN: Absolutely. I have no doubt about that. While everyone's squawking about the morality, the ethical issues of how we can do this, I will tell you right now there are scientists in foreign countries just plugging ahead. And you bet your bottom dollar, you'll be able to do that.

ZAHN: Dr. Nancy Synderman as always, thanks for the education.

SNYDERMAN: You, bet Paula.

ZAHN: And Americans in the afterlife, we all know where we'd like to go. Where do you think we will actually end up. We'll look at the results of a thought-provoking survey.

And not your average kitty. The big cats that could become the next big pet.


ZAHN: Welcome back. An overwhelming majority of Americans think there is life after death. A recent survey by the Barnard Research Group show nearly two-thirds think they're going to heaven. Only one half of one percent assume they're going to the other place. You know where that is. Are they right? And what about everybody else.

Well, joining me our co-host to "The God Squad," Rabbi Mark Gellman and Monsignor Tom Hartman.

Always agreed to be with you two. So what is the deal war are we delusional?

MSGR. TOM HARTMAN, CO-HOST, "THE GOD SQUAD": I for most people am making it, enjoying it, and going in the next world, even more than this than this world.

RABBI MARC GELLMAN, CO-HOST, "THE GOD SQUAD": That's because you're a living saint. There's a lot to be said when you enter the Triboro Bridge from Long Island and there's a long waiting line to get into that lane. The people who skip ahead, they must, if there's a God in the universe, they are going to hell. If there's a God in the universe they are going to hell.

HARTMAN: You know, he's for capital punishment for jay walkers.

GELLMAN: Well, I am just saying. No, I think really...

HARTMAN: If you read the second half of the book.

ZAHN: Have you ever gotten to the second half of the book, Rabbi?

GELLMAN: I like the original. OK, I like the original.

ZAHN: He likes the old book. He likes the new book. All right. We're not going to settle that this evening.

But what has informed the majority of Americans to think this way?

GELLMAN: Well, I think the most primal engine of religious belief, which is the fear of death, and the idea that religion gives people sincere, deep and powerful hope that death is not the end of us.

HARTMAN: Yes, we trust that God has a plan and a purpose for us, and God is with us as we go through the different activities of life. When a person has the instinct I'd like to go to heaven, that's the beginning. Then the second level is taking a look at some of the strictures in the Bible and the Koran, and seeing how one's life measures up to those things.

GELLMAN: So that's the first thing. You know, that personally we need hope in facing death. But the second thing that's driven all this forever, and in religions as disparate as the tewee (ph) of North Australia and the Amazon, river delta pygmies and Jews and Christians, and Muslims, and everybody, the thing that's driven this also is the idea that there must be some place where the scales of justice are evened out, where people who have lived evil and cruel lives are in some way treated to their just desserts, and people who have lived lives of exemplary compassion and kindness are finally, finally rewarded.

HARTMAN: Isaiah says that God is going to wipe away the tears, he's going to right the wrongs, and we both believe in that, that God is not only a God of the almighty, but God is a God of mercy.

ZAHN: Let me move on to another statistic that I was absolutely fascinated by, that 18 percent of the people surveyed also believed in reincarnation, 34 percent believe it is possible to communicate with someone after death. What has sparked these beliefs?

GELLMAN: Well, a lot of it is contact with eastern religions, Hinduism for example, which has the idea of reincarnation. And there's mystical traditions in Judaism, and kabbalah that believe in reincarnation, and so I think some of that is -- Brian Wise's (ph) work on many lives, many masters, that idea that he -- here's a Yale psychiatrist who has discovered, he thinks, evidence of prior life. So there's a lot of cultural tributaries to this idea, and really there's only two opportunities. One is this is all we get, and the other is God recycles our souls, and we keep on with a spiritual journey that goes through many lives.

ZAHN: Are the perceptions still pretty much intact the way Americans view heaven, the pearly gates, and hell, the raging inferno?

HARTMAN: I think that so many of us looked upon heaven as a place. Today, people are looking at it as a relationship. They don't know as much about what the place looks like. I don't think people use the pitchfork and the fire example, but they would use something like a loss of relationship with God, a lack of contact with God. And heaven, instead of it being, you know, like angels blowing horns and people sitting on clouds, I think they're talking more about the ability in the next world to get to know God deeper and to get to know people, and to meet new people, and to move faster, and to look at life in an eternal perspective rather than just a temporary perspective.

ZAHN: Rabbi?

GELLMAN: This week I got the best definition of it. A kid -- a little kid who had lost his grandpa, and as almost always is the case, he asked his mom on the way to the store, is grandpa in heaven? And she said, turned the car around, we've got to go see Rabbi Gellman. And they come in...

ZAHN: He's got the answers.

GELLMAN: I got the answers.

ZAHN: Tough questions, go to the rabbi.

GELLMAN: So I said, grandpa's soul is in heaven, and we call it the world to come, and he's OK. He's OK. A part of your grandpa is OK. A part of him is in the ground, but a part of him is OK. And you could see the little boy's face light up, and that is what heaven is. A place where a part of grandpa is OK.

ZAHN: A lovely way to put it.

GELLMAN: That's what I said. That's what I believe.

ZAHN: Rabbi, thanks for coming in, and monsignor, always good to see you.

HARTMAN: Thank you.

GELLMAN: Great to see you, Paula.

ZAHN: We always feel pure after you two drop by.

GELLMAN: Well, the feeling will pass.

ZAHN: Yeah, four minutes from now when we're off the air. Thank you.

We all know there are cat people, there are dog people, but we're about to see the cat that may finally convert dog lovers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I never hear them meow. They never attack -- they never attack or scratch. They're just so loving.



ZAHN: A follow-up now on a story we brought you on Friday about Hillary Trish Merritt (ph), a remarkable woman who was getting ready to run in Sunday's New York marathon. She worked for months training to run the race after spending years recovering from a devastating mountain climbing accident, a 400-foot fall that broke bones and her back, neck, hips and skull. We talked with her today. She ran the marathon with her two sisters and her brother-in-law, and she finished the race in just over five hours. She said it felt fantastic, a good day for everyone in the family. Congratulations.

Dog lovers and cat lovers unite. Breeders claim they have come up with a cat capable of seducing dog lovers. Jeanne Moos reports.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here kitty, kitty. Here's what you get when you take this wildcat and breed it with your average feline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, this is going to be the next big pet.

MOOS: A cat they say even dog lovers will love, a big cat men might fall for, just like these puppies have.

(on camera): That's not a regular cat, is it?

(voice-over): Able to leap tall fences in a single bound, her name is Uma, as in Uma Thurman, and like her namesake, Uma has been turning heads, at Le Petite Puppy pet shop in Greenwich Village.

Uma is a new breed known as the Savannah. Breeders use native African wildcats, called servals, like the one of the left, to produce the house cat on your right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really cool-looking.

MOOS: And then there's the Savannah's personality, frisky but sweet, not savage.

(on camera): So you're saying Uma kind of acts like a dog?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly, or the dogs think they're cats. I don't know. They're more dog like, and they're so intelligent.

MOOS: Savannahs are ranked by how close they are to a wildcat. An F-1 is half-wild. Uma is an F-2.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll get the F-3 without all the options.

MOOS: An F-3 might cost you $2,000, through breeders like But watch your spelling, or you'll end up in a Web site for porn, rather than pussycats.

Believe it our not, Uma is only three months old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would never have a cat like that in the house. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MOOS: Ming is that tiger recently removed from a Harlem apartment, but Savannahs only grow to be two and a half times the size of a normal cat. Chew on that.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: We'll see how far the craze goes. Tomorrow, it is not your parents' presidential debate. Anderson Cooper is in Boston, with an unscripted town hall, where young voters ask their own questions of the Democrats running for the White House. It's live at 7:00 p.m., and we will hear from the candidates in a wrap-up at 8:30. We hope you'll join us then. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. LARRY KING LIVE is next. Tonight, the Laci Peterson story, and a few minutes with Andy Rooney.

Thanks for dropping by here tonight. Have a good night.


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