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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Conflict in Lebanon; New Poll; Hurricane Warning; Congressional Crooks; Reagan Diaries; Global Warming

Aired May 22, 2007 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin, though, with fast-moving developments in Lebanon. The Lebanese army, taking on a radical Muslim militia with links to al Qaeda. Three days of street fighting, with thousands of innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. And as always, the potential for triggering a wider conflict in the region.
CNN's Nic Robertson is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A tense standoff. Soldiers, police and elite forces crowd outside a bullet-pocked burning apartment building.

Inside, a militant from Fatah al-Islam, a radical Islamist group with links to al Qaeda.

Running gun, rocket and tank battles erupted on Sunday in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city.

As the army moved it to arrest Fatah al-Islam's gunmen for allegedly robbing a bank, they were quickly overwhelmed by the militants firing from rooftops and windows.

(on camera): The standoff has been going on all day in the building of the bank here is where one of the militants has been holding out. The army right now are trying to get in. There's a lot of smoke coming from the building. They say that they think one of the militants may still be in there. They also say that perhaps he's just blown himself up.

(voice-over): When they hear the news, the militant is dead, local resident swarm the streets praising the army.

Outside the refugee camp, where other members of Fatah al-Islam are holed up, the standoff simmered. Sporadic gunfire and explosions, but not as intense as the past two days.

A U.N. convoy, used a lull in the fighting to drive in medical and food supplies, only to come under attack by unknown gunmen.

At the sprawling camp these first pictures, since the standoff began, showing hundreds of Palestinian refugees, most of them women and children, getting ready to flee.

And with the easing of clashes, the first Palestinian casualties began arriving at a clinic just outside the camp.

This heavily sedated 17-year-old, shot in the back, according to doctors, told us conditions in the camp are bad -- no water, no electricity, no bread. He said the army were destroying houses.

Doctors here expect dozens more casualties.

DR. AHMAD EL KHEIR, EL KHEIR HOSPITAL: There are so many injured people and some persons who are dead also. But they couldn't do anything to them.

ROBERTSON: Why not? Why couldn't do anything for them?

KHEIR: Because there are small medical centers at the camp. There are no hospitals.

ROBERTSON: As night fell, some 2,000 refugees began leaving the camp in a deal agreed to by the army, that will see them resettled in another Palestinian refugee camp not far away.

In Beirut, Lebanon's prime minister and Palestinian leaders, agreed to work to end the bloodshed. Both condemn the militants who want to radicalize Palestinians with the ultimate aim of attacking Israel and U.S. interests in the Middle East.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Nic joins us now back in Beirut.

Nic, you mentioned there are some 2,000 Palestinian refugees were allowed to leave the camp by the Lebanese government. Do we know how many Palestinian civilians are still in that camp and how many militants there are?

ROBERTSON: Potentially about 28,000 refugees are still left in the camp and potentially as many as almost 200 militants are still there. We don't know yet today if the government here is going to allow more of the refugees to come out of the camp, but that was the indication late last night -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, reporting from Beirut.

Nic, thanks very much.

With all the trouble in the Middle East and religious tension elsewhere, a new polling of Muslims here in America is getting especially close attention.

The massive study by the Pew Research Center shows Muslims here are better assimilated than Europe and Britain, for example. They're wealthier and happier with this country.

But there are some troubling items as well -- 13 percent believe that suicide bombings are sometimes or often justified. And among Muslims in America, younger than 30, that percentage hits 26 percent, which means one in four young American Muslims believe suicide bombings can be justified.

We're getting reaction to that and the rest of the survey from as many angles as we can tonight, starting with CNN's Glenn Beck, who also hosts a nationally syndicated radio program.

We spoke earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Glenn, what do you make of this study, this Pew study, one in four younger Muslims living here in America think that suicide bombings under some conditions are OK?

GLENN BECK, CNN HOST, "HEADLINE PRIME": It doesn't unfortunately come as a surprise to me. It is exactly what happened in Europe. It's what's happened in England. And we're a country in denial.

The good part of the study is that, when you look at the community overall, also what people like me have been saying now since September 11th, that about 90 percent of Islam is good and peaceful here in America. I have always been saying that it's 10 percent that has turned extremist.

This Pew Research study shows that it's about 13, but my gut apparently has a margin of error of three percentage points.

COOPER: Well, I mean, it's 82 percent Muslims who are 30 and older say suicide attacks are never warranted. There is a lot of good in the study, as you point out.

BECK: Sure.

COOPER: I mean, the level of assimilation, the desire, the buying into the American dream is very much alive in the Muslim community. But there does seem to be this difference between an older generation and a younger generation, and that's troubling.

BECK: Here's where -- here's where it gets tricky, Anderson, because there's a couple of solutions as I see it.

The first solution has to be -- if you look at the same survey, it shows that about 40 percent of the entire Muslim community here in the United States says that Arabs were not involved in the 9/11 hijacking.

COOPER: I found that fascinating.

BECK: Oh, that is spooky. Because that's where it begins. That is the water that waters these seeds that are going to grow into giant trees.

The Muslim community must face reality and they must teach their children.

COOPER: Are you saying what's happening in -- that what we're seeing happening in Western Europe is a harbinger of things to come here?

BECK: Absolutely. We are so fortunate to be protected by our oceans and also to not be protected by this giant state that was living in denial for so long.

We have a great country and people can come here from other places and change their life. And a lot of immigrants of all faiths have done that. Many Muslims have done that and they've lived here and they've assimilated.

Over in Europe, what they did is they allowed the separation of these communities. They have no-go zones where the police don't even patrol in some of these Muslim communities. And they have Sharia law -- at least the beginnings in most of these no-go zones. But they have full Sharia law in some areas in Europe and that's going to lead to the destruction. You've got to assimilate and you've got to be based in reality on what's happening on things like September 11th.

COOPER: Five percent of Muslims here in America have a favorable view of al Qaeda. One-quarter surveyed really had no opinion whatsoever. How do you go about changing that? And a lot of the ones who have a favorable view of al Qaeda were actually black Muslims, African-Americans.

BECK: Yes.

I don't -- I don't believe that 25 percent number. How do you not have an opinion on one of the biggest events of our -- or movements of our day? I think that shows fear. I don't know if that shows fear of the pollster, fear of I don't know who's in my community, fear of the United States government, but that 25 percent number, I don't buy.

COOPER: Glenn Beck, appreciate it.

BECK: Thanks, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Different perspectives. Now joining me is Ahmed Younis. He's the author of "American Muslims: Speak the Truth." Also with us is Asma Hasan, author of "Why I am a Muslim: An American Odyssey."

Appreciate both of you taking the time to be on the program.

Asma, let me start with you. One in four younger American Muslims think that suicide bombings, under some conditions are OK. How can that be?

ASMA HASAN, AUTHOR, "WHY I AM A MUSLIM": I know, and that's definitely a troubling thing to hear, especially for me as a Muslim.

I think that we shouldn't overstate -- again, remember that the vast majority of American-Muslims don't ever think that it's justified. And I would offer that, among all American young people, Muslim or non-Muslim, there is a fascination about violence. We are the video game generation. We grew up with violent video games and violent movies. So I can only offer that that plays a role.

I mean, obviously, you know, we see it in the larger American community and I think a lot of these questions that are controversial to us, if you went out into the larger American community and asked the same questions, you would probably get similar numbers, is my guess.

COOPER: Ahmed, do you agree with that?

AHMED YOUNIS, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN MUSLIMS: SPEAK THE TRUTH": Absolutely.

In an Ohio state April poll 2006, Americans were asked whether the United States government had a role to play in 9/11, 40 percent of respondents answered affirmatively.

I don't agree with them. But the proposition that conspiracy theories, as they relate to 9/11, which has become a very confusing issue for Americans generally -- 9/11, the act, its relationship to the invasion of Afghanistan, its relationship to the war in Iraq, its relationship to the global war on terror, to the extent that the Department of State has issued a number of reports attempting to counter the conspiracy theories that exist.

So what astonishes me is the similarity between the perspectives of young Muslims. For example, the percentage of young people that say that they are Muslim first and American second, compared to the percentage of young evangelicals that say they are Christian first, and American second -- young, black Muslim men saying they are disenfranchised. They can't find equal opportunities for achievement in America compared to young black men in America per se that have the same perspective. So to me, the similarities are quite astonishing.

COOPER: Without a doubt there is cause for good -- I mean, there is certainly good news in this study in the level of assimilation, the buy in to the American dream, among the Muslim population. It's probably the best assimilated, best integrated Muslim population of any country in the world. And yet, Asma, 5 percent of Muslims here have favorable view of al Qaeda.

HASAN: I know, and again, another troubling number. But let's also not overstate this and remember that majority do not have a favorable view.

And I, as a Muslim, I can tell you that al Qaeda has not been good for Muslims around the world, that al Qaeda's actually hurt Muslims.

But I think what we're seeing here with that 5 percent -- there is a frustration among American Muslims. How can we help our Muslim brothers and sisters around the world? What can we do? Giving to Muslim charities is basically impossible. Most Muslim organizations are -- it's illegal to give to them from the American government. If there was a way that we could reach out and help, I think that would help this 5 percent, because basically what they're feeling is al Qaeda is the only person, the only organization doing anything about this problem and trying to help Muslims.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But that, I mean, that is just completely false, though. I mean, I understand that may be the belief of this 5 percent, but I mean, as you, yourself, stated, al Qaeda is anti-Muslim. I mean, they -- they hate moderate Muslims more than they probably hate America. So the notion that they, you know, I mean, the people they are killing, by and large in Afghanistan and Iraq, are Muslims.

HASAN: And I agree with you. I think what -- I mean, I think what you're hearing from this 5 percent, I mean some of it is going to be, in any survey, you're going to have a fringe. You're definitely going to have young people who are going to show some bravado. You know, it's a phone survey and it can't be the most comprehensive.

I think if you ask these people one-on-one, I don't know how many would stick with that view. And again, I can only say that, outside in the American community, the larger American community, I don't know that we wouldn't necessarily have similar views.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Ahmed,...

YOUNIS: Two things....

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Go ahead.

YOUNIS: Real quickly, Anderson. Symbolism always trumps substance when we talk about young Muslims. And one of the things that Muslims always say in America is we need an organic cadre of homegrown religious leaders that can counter the religious ideology that's being propagated by extremists around the world.

Those religious leaders, those imams, being organic to America and the American experience, and allowing them to be relevant to these young Muslims that have these very serious concerns.

COOPER: And does that not exist?

YOUNIS: It absolutely exists, but it needs to exist at a much more proliferated extent.

For example, there's a tuna (ph) institute in San Francisco, run by Sheikh Hans Yousif (ph), is putting together a very impressive seminary that is perceived by the global Muslim community of scholars as being authentic and traditional and legitimate.

COOPER: You had a second point which you wanted to make. And we're almost out of time.

YOUNIS: Sure. I think we see that assimilation, multiculturalism, the European model of integration has failed and pluralism and diversity and the American model of identities that come together on a founding core of principles has clearly succeeded.

And what we're seeing in the polls is what we were expecting and inclined to believe and is very, very positive. That American Muslims, for the most part, are socially and economically integrated. They believe that there is a bit more to go in terms of a full economic integration. And we're moving on the right path and we need a bit more analysis.

COOPER: Well, let's hope that the positive message coming to of this Pew Research study gets out to the wider Muslim world to show the situation in the United States, the assimilation, the success that Muslims have had here.

Ahmed Younis, we'd love to have you back on.

And Asma Hasan, as well.

Thank you very much.

YOUNIS: Thank you.

HASAN: Thank you.

COOPER: A sad day for Christian evangelicals in America, at least for those who subscribe to Reverend Jerry Falwell 's brand of socially conservative, politically active faith.

He was remembered today at the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. The church he built and the scene of a media political educational empire.

Pat Robertson attended, so did Franklin Graham. The White House sent a junior aide.

When Reverend Falwell died last week, his clout was already somewhat diminished from its peak during the Reagan years, but he leaves a void just the same. The question now, who fills that void?

CNN's Randi Kaye takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For decades, Jerry Falwell set the tone of the evangelical agenda; now, the changing of the guard.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, BILLY GRAHAM'S SON: The "New York Times" this week called him one of the old lions, replaced by a new breed of evangelicals. I pray to God that these new leaders will be the champions of these same values that made him controversial. KAYE: Controversial, polarizing, even, some say, bigoted against gays and others. Already, a kinder, gentler, broader, evangelical agenda is emerging.

JOHN C. GREEN, PEW CENTER: The older generation of leaders from the 1980s and 1990s really don't fit the younger group of evangelicals particularly well. The style has changed. The issues have changed.

KAYE (on camera): The Pew Center's John Green sees a metamorphosis of sorts, a clear division between traditionalist evangelicals who Green labels as Christian right, and more centrists, those represented by the newer breed of evangelical leaders. Socially and theologically conservative, less likely to be get political and alienate other congregations.

(voice-over): Leaders like Orlando Reverend Joel Hunter.

REVEREND JOEL C. HUNTER, SENIOR PSTOR, NORTHLAND CHURCH: We still care very much for the vulnerable inside the womb, but now it's time to also emphasize the vulnerable outside the womb.

KAYE: Hunter is on a short list of possible, new generation successors. Others include Pastor Rick Warren, author of the bestselling "A Purpose-Driven Life," and Reverend William Hybels, who has joined Warren in the fight against AIDS in Africa.

All are expected to help steer the religious right beyond abortion and school prayer, toward what they call a more compassionate agenda -- Immigration, AIDS, global warming.

REVEREND JERRY FALWELL: It is Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus.

KAYE: That was Falwell on global warming.

This is Hunter in a TV ad on the same issue.

HUNTER: The good news is that with God's help, we can stop global warming.

GREEN: A younger evangelicals like younger people generally are much more concerned about the environment and things like climate change. But even on the hot button issues like homosexuality, the younger generation is more tolerant and more accepting.

KAYE: Hunter and others haven't abandoned basic evangelical values. Abortion still unifies the group. They just want to expand them, and that might attract some evangelicals to Democrats.

HUNTER: Unless there is a real response out of either party to the real needs of people, they're going to hurt themselves on Election Day.

KAYE: For now, evangelicals are still searching for a Republican presidential candidate to energize their ranks, like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did. Someone two hang their hopes on as the movement matures.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Why haven't they been able to fiend a candidate up to now? Is it that there are too many candidates?

KAYE (on camera): The problem, Anderson, seems to be that none of the candidates line up with the evangelicals' values.

If you look at some of the candidates, you have Rudy Giuliani who has been married three times. He supports abortion rights. You look at John McCain, he has voted conservatively, his record is very conservative, but he is not considered a strong supporter of the federal marriage amendment.

Mitt Romney is Mormon, so he clearly has some very philosophical differences with the evangelicals.

The question is, what does all of this mean? And religious experts that we spoke with today said you might actually see a marriage, a new relationship between the evangelicals and the Democrats, because both now share this broader agenda.

And what might happen also, they say, is that you might see a fracturing of the evangelical movement because there are so many different hands in the pot, so many different directions that they're trying to go, and no clear leader. So it will be interesting to see.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Also an expansion of the issues under which they may vote, get motivated to vote.

Randi Kaye, appreciate it. Thanks.

One other note, a student at Falwell's Liberty University is in custody tonight. Police say a freshman, David Uhl was planning to set off explosives today.

They say they found a number of homemade bombs is in his car.

"ABC News" is reporting that Uhl says he was planning to use them to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral.

He's being held without bail. He was going to use bombs to make sure people didn't disrupt the funeral.

Up next, a warning. It could be a bad hurricane season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): The punishing winds, flooding, and property left in ruins. Is this what we'll face this hurricane season? The forecast is out, along with this reminder:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just takes one hurricane to make it a bad year.

COOPER: The experts plot Mother Nature's wrath. What you need to know.

Also, this is what we were told on Capitol Hill:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year, we're going to try to do our best to pass the amendment to take pensions away from Senators and Congressman who have been convicted of public corruption while they're in office.

COOPER: So is it finally happening or are we still paying these crooks? We're keeping them honest, ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is unacceptable in the United States of America for a major city to be left stranded after a disaster for 21 months. It looks like -- parts of it look like a war zone 21 months later. It is completely unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (on camera): That was Former Vice President Al Gore a short time ago on "LARRY KING LIVE," talking about the broken city of New Orleans.

With hurricane season just nine days away, some experts say New Orleans remains woefully ill-equipped to weather a major storm. It is chilling, considering the hurricane forecast that the government released today.

As many as 17 named storms are expected, including up to 10 major hurricanes, meaning as fierce as Katrina or even worse.

CNN's Susan Roesgen has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before satellites and radar, no one could see a hurricane on the horizon or predict how many might be coming. But now the coastal U.S. has come to depend on and dread the yearly hurricane prediction.

CONRAD LAUTENBACHER, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: We are forecasting 13 to 17 named storms, of which seven to 10 will become hurricanes, and three to five of those hurricanes will be in the major category, or Category 3 strength and higher.

ROESGEN: That's an above-average season, part of a cycle forecasters say started back in 1995. But last year's dire prediction didn't pan out. NOAA initially predicted as many as 10 hurricanes, but there were only five, and no major hurricane hit the U.S. last year. An unexpected El Nino stopped most hurricane development.

But don't be lulled into thinking we will get off easy this year.

GERRY BELL, LEAD FORECASTER, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: All of the conditions associated with the current active era were still in place last year, as we had expected. Therefore, last year's activity should not be considered an indicator that this active era has ended. There is no indication that this active hurricane era has ended.

ROESGEN: In the end, no matter how many are predicted, one is all it takes to spell disaster.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: As you said in the piece, last year they predicted a really bad season. That didn't come to pass. The 2005 season, the season that had Katrina, was the prediction accurate?

ROESGEN (on camera): Actually, Anderson, that year the prediction was for another very active hurricane season, but the prediction turned out to be too low. They had predicted 15 named storms that year. That turned out to be 28-named storms, the most ever on record -- and of course, the worst being Hurricane Katrina.

COOPER: And last year, though they had predicted a busy one, they say they got it wrong, why, because of El Nino?

ROESGEN: Because of El Nino that came up, something that couldn't be predicted with a normal weather patterns. That saved us last year. They don't think we're going to have El Nino again this year.

COOPER: Susan Roesgen, appreciate it. Susan, thanks.

Erica Hill joins us now with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at least five people are killed, 60 others injured in a blast in Turkey. The bombing took place at a busy shopping area in the capital city of Ankara. At first investigators thought it was an accident, but now it is a terrorism investigation. Police found traces of plastic explosives.

In Chicago, a deadly bank robbery. Police say three masked gunmen stormed a community bank, killing the teller and wounding two others. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for any information leading to the robber's capture.

And a new study suggests President Abraham Lincoln was suffering from a severe case of smallpox when he delivered the famous Gettysburg Address. The diagnosis by two Texas researchers is based on reports of Lincoln's ailments in late 1863. Just add it to the list of ailments modern day doctors have investigated when it comes to the 16th president -- depression, a possible genetic nerve disorder, and more.

A lot going on there apparently with Abe Lincoln -- Anderson.

COOPER: And his wife, as well, certainly.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Yes. But still, a remarkable president.

Erica, thanks.

Yes, indeed.

Next, a 360 update. Lawmakers said they'd stop giving your money to capital crooks, but have they really? Congressmen who committed crimes, still getting pensions. You're paying for it. We're keeping them honest.

Plus, Ronald Reagan, as you've never seen him or heard him before. The president's personal diaries, what they reveal, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: House Democrats blinked today, dropping their calls for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq from a new war spending bill -- a timetable, I should say.

Instead, the legislation will include political benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet. Democrats reportedly agreed to the compromise and the timetables in order to move the bill by Memorial Day.

As they say, where there is a will, there is a way. But so far, Congress has not found the will to close a loophole we've been reporting on for months. It allows lawmakers, convicted of crimes, to keep their fat pensions, paid for, of course, with your tax dollars.

Tonight, an update on a bill that would close that loophole.

CNN's Drew Griffin is keeping them honest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Congressman Randall Duke Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting more than $2 million in bribes, but he still gets his Congressional pension of an estimated $64,000 a year.

Convicted Congressman James Traficant gets an estimated $40,000 a year.

Both of them are still in prison. Why hasn't anyone stopped it? Senate Bill 2268 was introduced last year to do just that. The bill would have banned the pensions of lawmakers convicted of what its co- sponsor called the really bad crimes -- stealing, bribery, public corruption.

SENATOR KEN SALAZAR (D), COLORADO: It's really that white collar crime, where people instead of representing the public interest of the people of the country, instead are representing their own personal interest. And so that's why we went after the white collar crime.

GRIFFIN: But even as good as it sounds, the bill never even got a vote.

Tuesday night we reported it got to this Senate subcommittee and died. The chairman of last session's committee was Republican George Voinovich of Ohio. His staff told us he was just too busy. The ranking Democrat was Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii. He emerged from a vote in the Senate and says he doesn't know why there was no vote last year.

(on camera): You support it and you will support it?

SENATOR DANIEL AKAKA (D), HAWAII: I -- I will. Yes.

GRIFFIN: But I'm still -- I spent two days trying to figure out why nobody supported it last year.

AKAKA: Yes, that's right. I didn't. But this year is different.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Two more Senators on the subcommittee, one Democrat, one Republican, also had no explanation for last year's failure. In fact, they couldn't remember what happened.

SENATOR TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: The question is, is what happened to it last year? I don't know the answer to that question.

SENATOR MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: I can't remember all of the specifics. We had a lot of amendments last year.

GRIFFIN: If their memories are a little weak on the subject of getting crooks a pension, it's because they say last year ethics weren't a big issue. Now they are.

PRYOR: This year, we're going to try to do our dead level best to pass the amendment to take pensions away from Senators and Congressmen who have been convicted of public corruption while they're in office.

GRIFFIN: But critics are telling us nothing will change. And if we want to find out why, just go into the House Ways and Means Committee hearing room and see how Congress has treated one of its own who was caught and convicted, but certainly not forgotten.

(on camera): That is convicted Congressman Dan Rostenkowski's picture up there. The former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee went to prison for stealing public money. He got a pardon from Bill Clinton. He got a spot on the wall. And he gets, from you and me, the federal taxpayers, an estimated $126,000 a year pension.

MELANIE SLOAN: This is money they don't want to take away from their colleagues and their colleagues' families. These are their friends we're talking.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You know, Drew, you started reporting on this January 12th. Both the House and the Senate, people you talked to, said they were going to ban pensions for felons. What happened?

GRIFFIN: You know, a lot, Anderson. Within two weeks after that very story, the House passed its Pension Forfeiture Act and sent it to the Senate. The Senate passed a similar bill and sent it to the House. And then nothing. They are sitting in opposite houses, staring at each other, waiting for some magical conference committee to come along and actually pass them out of the House and make them a law. But they're not moving.

Congressman Nancy Boyd, a freshman Democrat who pushed through that Pension Forfeiture Act, said she's very frustrated how slowly anything ethics reform involving is moving up here in Washington.

COOPER: And it could just die there. I mean, this is the kind of thing it could just die and there would be no fingerprints on it.

GRIFFIN: Easy. Easy. These things just don't get assigned to a conference committee and then they just flop, just like they did last year. Despite how hard these Senators told us they were going to fight for this.

COOPER: It's amazing how stuff works or doesn't work in Washington. We'll keep them honest.

Drew Griffin, thanks for reporting.

Up next, the writings of Ronald Reagan, writings that none of us have ever seen before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): The assassination attempt and those infamous words.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

COOPER: And his love for Nancy.

We paged through the Reagan Diaries for the first time ever. Get his personal thoughts on the events that changed our world and his, when 360 continues.

Also, it's called Greenland, but it's covered in ice. See why that ice could be the key to explaining and predicting the effects of global warming on hundreds of millions of people. We'll take you there, ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hard to forget that day -- March 30th, 1981, the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

(on camera): The most vivid and personal account of the shooting is finally being shared, and it comes from the president himself.

During his two terms in office, President Reagan kept a daily diary. It was private until now. In the new book, the Reagan Diaries, Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley edits the hundreds of pages and thousands of words put on paper by the great communicator. And it's a remarkable book.

Douglas Brinkley joins me now.

It's good to have on the program.

I want to start with Reagan's thoughts after that assassination attempt. He wrote, "...suddenly there was a burst of gunfire from the left. SS (secret service) agent pushed me onto the floor of the car and jumped on top. I sat up on the edge of the seat almost paralyzed by pain. Then I began coughing up blood...Getting shot hurts." That was March 30th, 1981.

Initially, he didn't realize he'd been shot.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: That's right. He wasn't sure at all what happened, and thought he, you know, maybe just he broke a rib for falling so hard when he had to fly into the limousine.

They quickly turned the car -- instead of going to the White House, to George Washington Hospital.

There he was on the gurney. And it was a very real near-death experience for him. He writes in the diary how close he felt to death, how much pain he was in. And then, afterwards he fills in the diary and said, you know, for now on my whole presidency is going to be devoted to God, in the sense that He gave me my life back and I've got to do the right things by God.

And lot of -- there are a lot of entries dealing with Ronald Reagan and faith. And I think that was obviously such a traumatic experience for him.

Also, Anderson, he wrote that he had took his best wristwatch which he always wore that morning. And for some reason he had it on and took it off and put on a beat-up old one. He kind of -- insinuating that it was a premonition of sorts.

COOPER: The other thing that comes in the book is just his incredible relationship with the first lady, with Nancy Reagan. I mean, this love affair that they had their entire lives. He called her Mommy. In one excerpt, he wrote, Mommy off for London and the royal wedding. I worry when she's out of sight six minutes. How am I going to hold out for six days. The lights just don't seem as warm and bright without her. That was back in July of 1981. Just an incredible relationship.

BRINKLYE: It was. You know, the White House is a bit of a cold and lonely place in many ways. And Ronald Reagan's best friend and co-partner was Nancy for a long time. And then when she would leave, he constantly would mope. I think he had free nights when she was away from the White house, so he'd write a little longer in the diary because she wasn't there to entertain him or be with him.

And there are even a couple of scenes, Anderson, in it where they're away from each other just, you know, one time at Camp David, one time at the ranch and one time up in Canada, where he's really upset that he's not able to spend the night with her. And so she's a big part of the entire diary. She crops up all the time, as do all of the kids.

You know, beyond being president, you have to be dad and that can be a struggle with your demands of time. And all of that's covered in these pages also.

COOPER: What surprised you most? I mean, you read all five volumes of the diary, you know, thousands of pages. What -- was there something that surprised you?

BRINKLEY: How one voice he is. He really knew who he was. This was not a person who didn't have a real understanding of where he wanted to take the country. And also, how the humor constantly crops up. It's almost -- you can't turn a page without there being a little Reagan, you know, joke line.

The whole reputation of being a staunch anti-communist is there. And, you know, really early in his presidency, he wrote a line about Fidel Castro, which said the intelligence community's telling me Castro is worried about me as president. I'm worried I can't give Castro something to worry about.

Also, I would say, the fact that he's focused on Eastern Europe a lot. And what -- he really felt the plight of the people of Poland and Czechoslovakia, Romania, Soviet Union, the fact that they didn't have Franklin Roosevelt's four freedoms. And he invokes FDR quite a bit in there. It seems to be the president that he admired the most. That's been reported before, but it comes out very clearly in diaries.

COOPER: I just started the diaries. It's an incredible read for anyone who is interested in presidential history, and particularly Ronald Reagan.

Douglas Brinkley, great work. Thank you for being with us.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead, meet a woman who has made it her mission to protect other women from abuse. She is our CNN hero tonight, and she has got a remarkable story. But first, our journey to a part of the world that is covered in ice -- ice that is melting. We'll take you to Greenland for a chilling look at our "Planet in Peril," next, on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, as part of our "Planet in Peril" series, we take you to Greenland, a vast and vital island covered in ice, and it's melting at a rate of 80 cubic miles of ice per year.

We began our "Planet in Peril" reports in the Amazon rain forests of Brazil. We headed to Southeast Asia, and Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia. Next it was Alaska. Now, Greenland.

Wildlife Biologist Jeff Corwin is already there. We're going to hear from him in a moment.

But first, why you should care about what's happening now in Greenland.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): You're looking at the climate change X- factor, the Greenland ice sheet. It blankets the largest island in the world and holds around 630,000 miles of ice. It's a magnificent place. Rumbling, shifting, always changing. But it's also recently revealed something alarming, it's disappearing.

ERIC RIGNOT, NASA: We estimated in 2005 that the ice sheet was losing about 200 gigatons per year. To put that in perspective -- I always use this comparison -- that the city of Los Angeles uses one gigaton of water per year. So this is enough water to supply 200 cities like Los Angeles every year.

COOPER: The reason that's happening is simple -- it's getting warmer, and we're the primary cause. Human activity, like driving cars and burning fossil fuels, is pumping hundreds of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day. That excess CO2 traps heat that would otherwise escape into space, and the world gets warmer.

In Greenland, a research camp on the ice sheet we'll visit this week says temperatures are up nine degrees Fahrenheit since 1993.

So Greenland's ice sheet is melting. Why should you care? Try this. If the entire ice sheet were to melt, sea levels would rise by more than 20 feet. You've seen the graphics -- parts of Florida gone. Lower Manhattan under water. Southern China and parts of Bangladesh submerged.

Literally hundreds of millions of people would be displaced. Although no one expects that kind of sea level rise to happen overnight or even in the next 100 years, every little inch counts.

Low-lying islands in the South Pacific are already being evacuated. RIGNOT: I think we should clearly take climate warming seriously and realize that we need to think about this now and not wait for something major happening to these ice sheets in the future, because by that time it will be quite late to reverse the process.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): Earlier, I spoke with Wildlife Biologist and "Animal Planet" Host Jeff Corwin, who is now in Greenland.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Jeff, this place where you are, Disco Bay, used to be filled with sea ice every winter. I understand it hasn't frozen over now for at least a decade. What did you see? You went out there today.

JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: It's absolutely incredible. It's almost like an otherworldly landscape. You can see behind me, Anderson, we've got this endless horizon of ice. We're in this little village called Luluset (ph). We're in western Greenland. We're about 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and we are in the land of the midnight sun.

And what's famous about Greenland is that, while this is the largest island on the planet at around 840,000 square miles in size, 700,000 miles of it is ice. But that ice is melting.

COOPER: And why -- I mean, it's maybe a dumb question, but why should anyone care if Greenland's ice is melting? It's a far away place. Most of us will never ever go there. What impact does it have?

CORWIN: Excellent question. Why should we care? Well, if we followed this fjord up east, it ends at one of the largest glaciers in Greenland, Jakobshavn Glacier. It's absolutely gigantic in size. It contains 10 percent of Greenland's ice.

Greenland itself contains 10 percent of our planet's fresh water. And as this glacier continues to melt, it dumps that ice and the water locked within it into the ocean and the surrounding waters in these fjords.

Every day on average, it's losing about 20 million tons of ice. That's incredible. Historically, this glacier was flowing. You know, you look at the ice behind me, it looks rather static. But this is a very dynamic landscape. The ice is constantly ebbing and flowing.

And historically, it was moving about 4.4 miles per year. Today, it's moving at a rapid pace of about 5.6 miles a year as the ice sheet making up Greenland begins to melt.

And if it does melt, the great -- the great tragedy will be a dramatic rise in coastline. We could easily see the coastline over the next century or perhaps a little bit more rise upwards 20 feet plus. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was Jeff Corwin in Greenland.

Still to come on 360, our CNN hero -- a woman who has gone above and beyond to rescue those suffering from abuse. Her story and the many lives she's touched is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It's worth reminding ourselves that heroes aren't just in comic books and the big screen. They're neighbors, our friends, real-life people. And we're bringing them to you very day. We call it "CNN Heroes: Remarkable Stories of Extraordinary Lives." We hope you'll share some of them with us.

Tonight, we take you to Cancun, Mexico, and introduce you to a woman who is fighting a problem that few tourists ever see.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LYDIA CACHO RIBERIO, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATOR: If you understand that, then you understand everything else.

It's a cultural thing. Owning your wife and your kids is a cultural issue. And we are working on changing cultural views. And that takes a long, long time.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

One out of five women in Mexico is a victim of violence by her partner.

(END GRAPHIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'd come home from work and he'd say, didn't I tell you to come at a certain time? And he would slap me or kick me. He even did it in front of the children.

CACHO RIBERIO: The network that is helping women be rescued from violence and even from death, it's Siem (ph) Cancun. It's our institution.

We are their friends, their sisters, their mothers. We are here to tell them that they are not alone.

My name is Lydia Cacho Riberio. I am a human rights advocate. We created a shelter for battered women, and this shelter is a high- security shelter.

When a woman comes to a center, we give them free services -- social work, medical services, psychological help. They get trained for work. And the kids go to school. They are rebuilding their own lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They rescued me from where I was living. She has done so much for me -- after I had given up on myself.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Last year, Lydia's organization provided services and protection for 529 women.

(END GRAPHIC)

CACHO RIBERIO: We just decided that there was something needed that was far beyond talking about violence and all of the things. We had to do something about it.

We have success last year. The local Congress passed a law in which violence against women is a crime.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Lydia Cacho Riberio

"Fighting for Justice"

(END GRAPHIC)

CACHO RIBERIO: It saddens me it's seen as an extraordinary task. Because I believe that everybody else could do the same thing and Mexico would be very different.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Do you know a hero? There's a lot more about Lydia and her organization on our Web site, where you can also nominate your hero for special recognition later this year. All the details are at CNN.com/heros.

Just ahead, Erica Hill joins us with the latest headlines, including the latest on those whales stuck in a river in California. We'll tell you what's holding up their rescue, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Erica Hill joins us again with a 360 business and news bulletin -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, the Russian government is refusing to hand over a man the British accuse of killing a former Russian spy while he was in London. The suspicious poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko gained worldwide attention last year. British authorities say they have enough evidence to file murder charges against former KGB Agent Andrei Lugovoy, who met with Litvinenko just hours before becoming ill. But he says he is innocent.

At a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli, Lebanon, a mass exodus as thousands of people are fleeing that camp because of the three days of fighting between Lebanese soldiers and militants of Fatah al-Islam. Many of those leaving carried makeshift white flags with them. And adding to the tension, the U.N. now says one of its convoys is trying to deliver relief supplies to the camp, but it was caught in the crossfire. No U.N. workers were hurt, though.

In medical news, the FDA today approving the first oral birth control pill meant to put an end to monthly periods. It is called Lybrel. It's scheduled to go on sale in July. Unlike other contraceptives, this pill does not use placebos and remains active every day, completely stopping the menstrual cycle, while preventing pregnancy.

And up update for you on those whales stuck in California's Sacramento River. Yesterday we told you they had made it 20 miles back toward the ocean before swimming in circles by a bridge. Well, it turns out those whales have been spooked by vibrations from the traffic. Scientists and Coast Guard crews working hard now to coax the whales to get over their fears and get closer to the San Francisco Bay and finally out to the Pacific Ocean -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wow. Free Willy. And Baby Willy.

HILL: And -- and Baby Willy too.

COOPER: Erica, Thanks.

It's getting late.

Don't miss the day's headlines or the 360 daily podcast. You don't need an iPod, you can watch it on your computer at CNN.com/AC360podcast or go to iTunes.

And a reminder, be sure to catch "AMERICAN MORNING" for the most news in the morning. That's tomorrow, beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern time.

For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is next.

Here in the States, "LARRY KING" is coming up.

Thanks very much for watching. See you tomorrow.

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