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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Line of Dangerous Storms Blanketing a Big Chunk of the Country; Tough Words From President Bush About Iran and Russia and Nuclear Weapons; 'Keeping Them Honest'

Aired October 17, 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 HOST: We have breaking news tonight. We are following a line of dangerous and potentially deadly storms, including tornadoes, now blanketing a big chunk of the country. You see it right there. We are going to check in momentarily with CNN's Chad Myers in the weather center. He's got the latest.
Also in the hour ahead, the rise of a superbug. A dangerous germ that is spreading across the country, it's taking lives. Young and old, killing more people than HIV. We will look at where you can catch it and how to stop it before it spreads even further.

Also, airport hell. Delays at O'Hare, overcrowding in Orlando, chaos in La Guardia. So what are some politicians doing about it? Well, they are spending your money, tax dollars on dinky little airports near their vacation getaways. You are not going to believe this. We are keeping them honest.

We begin with the breaking news. A storm system that is already hammering the center of the country causing injuries and threatening to get even worse. Damage from at least one tornado so far tonight. Chad Myers, our severe weather expert, warned us about it this afternoon and he's tracking it now. Chad, what are we looking at?

CHAD MYERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, so far 11 different reports of tornado damage. Now, that doesn't mean there were 11 tornadoes. Because sometimes one guy's looking at it from the north and one guy from the west and they see the same damage but they report it two times.

So I'm going to go to a couple different spots, Springfield, Missouri, especially to your west. Eight tornado reports for you. Up to Kansas City, one report but this storm might have been on the ground for almost 30 miles at the same time. Not a wide tornado, not an F-4 or F-5 but certainly enough to cause damage and enough to cause a lot of people to be on edge tonight.

The first tornado of the day was down near Beaumont, Texas, and we had a couple of them down and just to the north of Louisiana and New Orleans proper later on, earlier on this afternoon.

Here's what we have going for you right now. A couple of spots where you see those red boxes. Those are tornado watch boxes. That means there's still the potential for storms tonight. And we have them all the way from about Tulsa, Oklahoma, through Okmulgee and up into Kansas City. Farther to the north to about the Quad Cities. You guys are still in it. This is going to go on all night tonight, and it will continue until tomorrow. Now, we are going to get to the warnings here. A couple still big storms there that are rotating, that's Smith and Jasper counties with tornado warnings, and there is Warren County. That's Mississippi right there, that's the area now that are seeing tornado warnings.

We have damage reported from earlier. Here are the pictures from Tulsa, Oklahoma. These are live pictures of what happened at Oktoberfest. This is KTUL. We believe that the rain and the wind got these tents, picked them up and threw them onto the people into this Oktoberfest Festival, injuring 40 people this evening from our affiliate there live. You see it there, Anderson, KTUL, Tulsa, Oklahoma. A violent night tonight. Overnight tonight and another one tomorrow.

COOPER: So at this point how many storms, how many possible tornadoes are you tracking?

MYERS: There are six different tornado warnings so far for six different counties but we do know there have been 11 on the ground that have caused damage. Sometimes, Anderson, one will skip along and so it's counted four times but it's really the same tornado. We won't know that until tomorrow when the weather service goes out there in their helicopters and they look.

COOPER: All right, Chad, appreciate the update. We will keep you updated throughout this hour.

Now three very tough words from president Bush about Iran and Russia and nuclear weapons. World War III. He said them with a smile, those words, kind of at a news conference aimed at reminding Congress that he's still relevant. And if relevant means being able to raise a cold war chill or make Iran not Iraq a big issue in campaign '08, you can bet he's relevant tonight. For more on the words, the chill and the politics, we turn to CNN's Ed Henry. Ed, what happened?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as he moves closer and closer to lame duck status, it's easy to be lulled into thinking maybe Mr. Bush is not so relevant anymore. But obviously, he's still commander in chief, he's prosecuting two wars right now. He still has the power to start a third war if he wants and that's why so many ears perked up all around the world when Mr. Bush really ratcheted up the rhetoric to a whole new level.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: I told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HENRY: Now, the president insists he still hopes to solve this crisis with Iran diplomatically. But if you will remember, that's what he said before launching a war in Iraq. And so that's also why his words carry so much meaning tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, Ed, also the diplomatic fronts got a whole lot more confusing. Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has been meeting with the Iranian president. Putin, he seems to be picking sides here.

HENRY: Absolutely. He's taking swipes at the United States. Mr. Bush obviously thought Mr. Putin was an ally, but for various reasons he's not looking like one these days. Especially because of this meeting over last few days with President Ahmadinejad. Putin looking like he's cozying up to him. And Putin also directly contradicted Mr. Bush by saying he doesn't believe Iran has nuclear ambitions and also basically warning that the U.S. should not launch any attack against Iran, Anderson.

COOPER: So much for the president looking into his eyes, I guess, and seeing his soul, as he once about Vladimir Putin.

HENRY: Yeah.

COOPER: Today in Washington the president was shown with the Dalai Lama. You say that also could come back to have implications for Iran's nuclear ambitions. How so?

HENRY: Absolutely. I mean, Mr. Bush got plaudits today from even some Democrats on the Hill by standing up and being seen publicly with the Dalai Lama but obviously that makes China irate and China is key here. Because you can't get any tough sanctions passed in the United Nations Security Council without China on board.

So if they are angry, that is not good. And if you don't get tough sanctions, sanctions actually with some teeth, that takes a big weapon off the table and makes the possibility -- I stress possibility -- of war more likely, Anderson.

COOPER: Ed from the White House, thanks, Ed.

Now, to a headache that is not going away any time soon. Air travel. And this one involves politics. In August the federal government says about 71 percent of all flights were on time. And for millions of passengers the lines, aggravation, the waiting, it is all reaching a boiling point. Congress says they are trying to fix it but we did a little digging and found that some senators are using your money to help airports that cater to the few and the privileged. "Keeping Them Honest" for us tonight, here's CNN's Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For airline passengers, this was the summer of sitting, sitting on the tarmac in Atlanta where the average flight delay was 43 minutes. In Philadelphia, nearly 50 minutes. And if you got stuck in Newark, your average sitting time was an hour. Newark had the worst summer, 12,885 flights delayed in just two months. Flight delays in the U.S. are the worst they have been since they started keeping records. The FAA says weather played a big part but mainly because the skies and airports are so congested, any storm can spread a hurricane of flight delays across the country.

So what is the Senate doing in its Senate Transportation Bill to fix the major airports? "Keeping Them Honest," we found the senators from Massachusetts fixing the airports important to them. Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry asked for and got $8 million earmarks to replace control towers at their airports. The tiny Nantucket Airport near the summer home of -- remember this moment -- wind surfing John Kerry and the small Barnstable Airport near the famous Kennedy compound in Hyannis.

Can you make the case for some taxpayer sitting down in Philadelphia or out in California that this airport here in basically Hyannis Port in Kennedy's backyard needs federal money?

QUINCY "DOC" MOSBY, BARNSTABLE AIRPORT MANAGER: And it does need federal money.

GRIFFIN: Quincy "Doc" Mosby is the airport manager at Barnstable. He said the control tower is old, has been a safety concern and needs federal help. So does Nantucket's, he says.

MOSBY: We are a part of the national transportation system. And non hub airports do play a very vital role in the air travel across the United States.

GRIFFIN: We asked the FAA if the tiny airports of Barnstable and Nantucket were on any priority list. We were told no, because the two largely vacation destinations are simply not vital to air traffic across the United States.

MOSBY: People think just because when you mention Nantucket, you mention Hyannis and you mention going across to Nantucket to Martha's Vineyard, you're an airport for rich people but that's not the case.

GRIFFIN: But we were also told earmarks for Barnstable and Nantucket actually cut down on priority needs elsewhere. So keeping them honest, we went into the Senate office buildings, on a hunt for answers.

Why is so much money being wasted on low or no priority airports? The chair of the Senate's Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Patty Murray, said she would tell us. Then abruptly canceled our interview.

Senator Kerry's press secretary told us, "We just couldn't make this work with scheduling this week." That was actually weeks ago. We asked again, and again Senator Kerry turned us down. Our last hope, Senator Ted Kennedy, was "totally booked," according to his staff.

Which was why we were caught off guard when the senator and his two dogs suddenly rounded a corner in the Russell Senate Building. Senate rules say cameras cannot change senators inside these hallways but reporters can. I asked why he was wasting federal money on low- priority airports like Barnstable and Nantucket?

SEN. EDWARD M. MENNEDY, (D) MA: There are security issues in terms of both of those airports and very inclement kind of weather. They were on the list. And I think they are well deserved.

GRIFFIN: What list are they on?

KENNEDY: On the comprehensive list in terms of improvements.

GRIFFIN: They're certainly not on any kind of priority list.

KENNEDY: We're telling you we are dealing with safety. Air transportation safety. And they seemed to be justified. They made a very good case on it. I'm glad they got it.

GRIFFIN: The airports made a case on it, sir?

Three weeks after this hallway conversation, the senator's office decided to give us a statement, repeating the senator's concern that "both towers are more than 40 years old, outdated and need to be replaced."

The statement made no mention of the list the senator insists the two airports are on.

(on camera): I have got no idea what list the senator is talking about, but, remember, the list they make up in this building at the Federal Aviation Administration show no priorities for the Barnstable, Nantucket or Akutan Airport. They're just not on the list.

Akutan Airport? Oh, I forgot to tell you about Alaska's Akutan Airport, out on the Aleutian Islands. You see, even though the Democrats are in charge, airport pork in the Senate flies on both sides of the aisle. We keep Republicans honest, too, when we come back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Before the break we showed you how Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry were earmarking airports for small airports in their own state where they have vacation homes. It's not just the Democrats who are under fire for questionable airport spending. CNN's Drew Griffin continues his "Keeping them Honest" report with a familiar face from way up north.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is under federal investigation for allegedly steering federal earmark money, your tax dollars, to business colleagues, friends and campaign donors. A subject he does not want to discuss. SEN. TED STEVENS, (R) AK: It's a nice day outside.

GRIFFIN: So you'd think he would be careful about what he's now asking for in the Senate. Think again. The senior senator from Alaska asked for and got $3.5 million of your tax money to build an airport here, Akutan, Alaska, a remote island in the Aleutians where only a few hundred live year round.

But the island has one of the world's largest seafood processing plants owned by Seattle-based Trident Seafoods and according to congressional records, Trident's owners have been generous donors year after year to Senator Stevens.

The senator said no to an interview with CNN but did send a statement saying in part -- because 70 percent of Alaska's communities can be reached year round only by air, the funding for aviation projects in particular is an absolute necessity.

Notice he doesn't say who the project would benefit, his campaign contributors.

Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, he doesn't ask for earmarks. He rails against them on the Senate floor and says the Akutan, Barnstable and Nantucket Airport earmarks are not only a waste of your money, but they represent the exact opposite of how a U.S. senator should conduct business.

SEN. TOM COBURN, (R) OK: Anybody who puts a priority for a local project ahead of the best interest of this country, I believe is not fulfilling their oath to the office. And that's whether they are Republican or Democrat.

GRIFFIN: With flight delays at their worst in 13 years, there's still a chance the three tiny airports won't get their funding. But chances are the way most senators support one another's pet projects, you will probably end up paying for a lot more unnecessary control towers and runways to nowhere, while the crowded, major airport you're stuck in goes begging.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Imagine someone sitting in the airport right now waiting for their flight, which is delayed, watching this story. They must be pretty annoyed.

Just ahead -- a superbug that can rip through your body and kill you. It's more widespread than anyone had thought. We're going to take a look what's being done to stop it. What you need to know in 60 seconds. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There's important news tonight about a powerful germ that common antibiotics cannot stop. Experts say the potentially deadly superbug is more widespread than they previously thought and may be killing more Americans every year than HIV. Here's what's really scary about this. The germ has spread far beyond hospitals and settings where it's usually found and maybe even your child's classroom. More on that from CNN's Jason Carroll.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cleaning crews descended on 22 schools in Bedford, Virginia. Disinfecting locker rooms and desks, trying to prevent a deadly superbug from spreading. This after it claimed a casualty, Ashton Bonds, a 17-year-old senior at Stanton River High School.

VERONICA BONDS, MOTHER: I was standing beside his bed and I asked him, baby, we're supposed to be having a graduation this year. And I said you've got to come up out of this and get better.

CARROLL: Bonds struggled for a week before dying from the infection called methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, a mutated strain of a staph infection. Bonds' school had sent a letter to parents warning about the dangers of MRSA.

RYAN EDWARDS, BEDFORD COUNTY SCHOOLS SPOKESMAN: We have been dealing with MRSA for the better part of the last month and we have had cases that appeared steadily since then. We have six confirmed cases and possibly seven within the county.

CARROLL: Late today, Westin High School in Connecticut confirmed one of their students was just diagnosed with MRSA. And officials at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland announced the same. A new government study shows the infections are more widespread than once thought. The study says MRSA may have contributed to nearly 19,000 deaths in 2005, more casualties than those who died from AIDS that year.

(on camera): The study shows the majority of infections, 85 percent, occurred in hospitals and in medical clinics. But doctors are seeing more and more cases outside medical facilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The communities where the epicenter is now, it's shifted from the hospital.

CARROLL (voice-over): For example, athletes involved in contact sports seem to be susceptible. But some cases seem to defy explanation, like the one involving Simon Marcario.

EVERLY MARCARIO, SON DIED OF MRSA: I remember when he turned one, I told my husband that I couldn't believe he had passed an entire year without having a sniffle.

CARROLL: But on an April morning in 2004, everything changed. His parents thought he had the flu. Doctors said he was fine and sent him home. Hours later, the one and a half year-old's breathing sounded odd. His mother called the emergency room pediatrician.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had her hear his breathing, she said, hang up the phone. Call 911.

CARROLL: Doctors pronounced Simon dead early the next day. An autopsy later confirmed MRSA had infected his organs. Doctors still are not sure how he was infected. Ashton Bonds' mother also waits for an explanation but she may never get one. There's still much doctors don't know about MRSA. Only that for now the cases keep coming. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: This is scary stuff. The question is, who is most at risk? We are going to look at that ahead. And also how you can protect yourself and family from the superbug. We will get the facts from 360 MD Sanjay Gupta after this very short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Before the break, we told you about the potentially deadly superbug that's more widespread than anyone thought. It causes staph infections that can kill. This drug-resistant germ used to be found almost exclusively in hospitals but now it is showing up in the general populations, including schools. One doctor told CNN it has the potential to become a perfect storm of infectious disease. Joining me now is 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, why are so many experts alarmed by this germ, this so-called superbug?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think there are really a few different reasons. One is that clearly this particular bacteria has become so much more aggressive and more resistant when you say MRSA, you mean methicillin resistant staphylococcus. And this is a type of bacteria that does not respond well to antibiotics.

The second reason, just what you mentioned, Anderson, used to be found solely in hospitals because that's where sick people were, and that's where a lot of antibiotics were being used. The third reason are just some of the numbers that came out as you saw, Anderson, 94,000 cases of this, this used to be a relatively rare thing, still rare, but the number is much higher than people expected.

And take a look at how many more people died as a result. Almost 19,000. So it can kill, and it's becoming more common than ever.

COOPER: So what are the warning signs? What are the symptoms? How do you know you have it?

GUPTA: Well, it can start off as just a simple wound anywhere on your body. Some people have described it as a spider bite, just a little open sore. The biggest sort of cardinal symptoms, it does not seem to get better, and may get worse, even with antibiotic treatment. That's one of the biggest things.

Also if you have a fever and the wound itself starts looking redder as a result or if it's infected, those are some warning signs as well.

COOPER: How does it spread? How do you protect yourself from it?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's not spread through the air. That's a misconception. A lot of people believe that. It's actually spread by skin-to-skin contact. So if you had this methicillin resistant organism on your skin, you can actually spread it that way. Usually it's through a wound or something like that, but it could also be used by sharing sports equipment, for example. That could be another way. Just close contact. More common in urban centers and more common in people living in closer quarters.

COOPER: So in order to prevent it, what's the best thing, keep washing your hands, cover up your cuts?

GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, look, I think the common sense things still apply here. You almost sound a little silly saying it but it works. You're talk about washing your hands and you're talking about, if you're in the hospital, for example, making sure that all of the equipment is sterilized.

Catheters, for example, that are used in hospitals, making sure those are clean as well. You have got to stop this in the hospitals. Even though it's spreading in the community, to really stop the spread, you've got to attack the hospitals.

In the community, yeah, washing your hands, not sharing certain equipment. Those things do seem to make a difference, Anderson.

COOPER: And the cure rate, 19,000 people dying out of 94,000, I don't know other cure rates, that's bad?

GUPTA: Yeah. That's much higher I think than anybody expected. But keep in mind, you have three football players in this particular story, one who died and two that actually went back to school. So you get the sense of what the cure rate is there.

If you catch it early, this is something that can be treated. While it is resistant to a certain generation of antibiotics, there are other antibiotics that work. You just have to make sure you have got the right diagnosis and make sure you start those antibiotics early.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next tonight, the president of Oral Roberts University accused of lavishly spending school cash on personal trips and other stuff. Now he won't be going to work and we're going to tell you why.

Also tonight this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: Those people went and took that dog out of their home and took it away from those kids, and I feel totally responsible for it, and I'm so sorry. And I'm begging them to give that dog back to that family. I just want them -- the family to have the dog. It's not their fault. It's my fault.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Oh, the drama. What led to Ellen's tearful moment and what's happening with it now when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It's time to check some of the day's headlines. Erica Hill joins us with our 360 bulletin. Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, in a Las Vegas courtroom today, Chester Arthur Stiles, the man accused of the videotaped rape of a two-year-old girl several years ago, he's facing 22 felony accounts. The mother of that little girl said she's relieved Stiles was arrested but she also told the Dr. Phil show today she thought it would be better if they found him dead.

The president of Oral Roberts University granted a temporary leave of absence. Richard Roberts' request approved as he and his wife face accusations of misconduct. Three former professors have filed a lawsuit accusing the couple of lavishly spending school money and they also accuse Roberts of illegal involvement in a local mayor's race. Roberts denies those allegations.

And in New York, fallout from this summer's steam pipe explosion. Utility company Con Edison has filed papers claiming the city may be to blame for the accident. The blast is linked to the death of a woman that suffered a heart attack. Twenty six others were injured and more 200 businesses and residents have filed claims against the city seeking at least $600 million to pay for damages. A lovely mess there.

COOPER: Yeah. Such a mess.

HILL: Checking in now on the "What Were They Thinking?" for tonight. This one really hitting a lot of people in the heart directly, me included, I have to say. A dog, some cats and comedian breaking down on air. This is Ellen Degeneres from a little earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEGENERES: Those people went and took that dog out of their homes and took it away from those kids and I feel totally responsible for it. And I'm so sorry. I'm begging them to give the dog back to the family. I just want the family to have the dog. It's not their fault. It's my fault. I should not have given the dog away. Just, please, give them the dog back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: This is all about Iggy, a dog she adopted from a pet rescue. But the dog wasn't getting along with her cat, so Ellen ended up giving the dog to her hairdresser's family but she didn't tell the adoption agency. The agency said that violated their agreement. So they took the dog back. So Ellen there pleading for the family to be reunited with the Iggy saying, don't blame her, or blame her. Don't blame the dog. But Anderson, earlier tonight, I learned that Iggy, apparently, has now been adopted to a third family. This poor dog.

COOPER: I don't quite understand. Why would the adoption agency take the dog away from this person? It violated some rules?

HILL: Yeah, apparently what Ellen -- the documents that Ellen had to sign as part of the rescue, was that if for some reason she couldn't take care of the dog or she needed to get rid of it, she was to return it to the rescue group as opposed doing this herself. But she had found a great family. They loved the dog. The dog loved them. But the rescue group said no, this isn't the way we do business and took the dog back and now it's at a new family.

COOPER: That doesn't make any sense to me what the rescue group is doing.

HILL: No, it's a little crazy.

COOPER: What were they thinking?

HILL: What were they thinking?

What was that?

COOPER: People just walking across. It's all right. You go.

HILL: Are we doing a TV show here?

COOPER: Erica, thanks very much.

I don't know what's going on. People walking across. What can you do?

Up next -- a rare look inside the Iraqi insurgency. We're going to explore this new film called "Meeting Resistance" that the army is looking at as well. We will also talk to Michael Ware about who the real enemy in Iraq is right now after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Insurgents today hit an Iraqi police controls south of Baghdad, they set off a roadside bomb killing seven officers. No Americans died in Iraq today. The last deadly insurgent attack took place two days ago. They still happen, of course. And successful or not, insurgents still try to kill Americans dozens of times each and every day.

So why do they fight? That's a new question documentary tries to answer. Two journalists spent 10 months in 2003 in the earliest days of the insurgency doing something that few others have been able to. They talked with Iraqis fighting U.S. forces in the streets of Iraq.

Now the film they made is now being screened by the U.S. military to help inform soldiers about their enemy's perspective. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): "Suppose Iraq invaded America, an Iraqi soldier was on a tank passing through an American street, waving his gun at the people, threatening them, raiding and trashing houses. Would you accept that?"

That's how a Muslim cleric interviewed in the new film "Meeting Resistance" explained why some in Iraq were taking up arms.

In 2003, the picture painted by the Bush administration of the insurgents was that they were dead-enders, supporters of Saddam, unwilling to give up.

But that's not the picture that emerges in the interviews with early insurgent supporters whose identities were obscured by the filmmakers. This fighter was tortured under Saddam but now sees himself as a defender of his family and his home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they occupied Iraq, they subjugated me. Subjugated my sister. Subjugated my mother. Subjugated my honor. My homeland.

COOPER: Before the U.S. invasion, this man was a teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If someone comes and occupies another man's home and takes away his food, money and property, how can he not defend himself? A person who doesn't fight for himself or his country shouldn't be called a human being.

COOPER: Molly Bingham co-directed the film.

MOLLY BINGHAM, CO-DIRECTOR, "MEETING RESISTANCE": It's about not wanting to be occupied. And I think people all over the world, all throughout history, have been occupied and resisting occupation is not an abnormal response to that.

COOPER: For some, the motivation is nationalism. For others, religion. A desire to expel a non-Muslim-occupying force. This woman smuggles weapons under her robes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This country is precious. My children aren't more precious. My soul isn't more precious.

COOPER: In 2003, foreign fighters had already begun coming to Iraq. This man came from Syria for jihad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother told me I don't want you to come back alive. I want you to return as a martyr.

COOPER: While the filmmakers were interviewing all of these people, the U.S. military found itself unprepared for the strength of the insurgency.

STEVE CONNORS, CO-DIRECTOR, "MEETING RESISTANCE": It was denied by the administration. The Iraqis were known throughout the Middle East for their aggressive stance on something like this. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise.

COOPER: Now the U.S. military has actually embraced this new film, and invited the directors to Baghdad. At this screening in one of Saddam's old palaces, American troops said it was difficult but valuable to hear from the enemy.

STAFF SGT. JASON PRIVITERA, U.S. ARMY: It talks a lot about the culture and how they pretty much feel about us, not the entire Iraqi culture, but just the insurgents and how pretty much their faith is pretty strong.

MAJOR IRENE HUGGINS, U.S. ARMY: People make choices. They decide what they want to do and why they do it and the reasons had he do certain things, but it's hard for me as a soldier for me to sympathize with what they are doing.

COOPER: Sympathy is not what the filmmakers are trying to get anyone feel. What they hope these soldiers take away is a fuller understanding of how this insurgency was created, and why it's been so hard to stamp it out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): Well, the film opens in New York and Washington on Friday, nationwide later this month. CNN's Michael Ware had the remarkable access to all sides in this war since the earliest days, as well as some observations about why the insurgency got started in the first place. We are going to hear from him after a very short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Why do the insurgents fight? The question is being explored in a new film called "Meeting Resistance." It's also something CNN's Michael Ware has risked his life to do. We spoke to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Michael, what we see in these interviews with early insurgents is clearly that the presence of U.S. forces was a motivating factor in getting a lot of these people to fight against the U.S. How much of the insurgency is now is being driven by just the mere presence of U.S. forces?

MICHAEL WARE, BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: From day one, Anderson, that's been one of the primary motivations. Certainly for the nationalist insurgency, if that's what you would like to call it, both on the Sunni side and the Shia side. Sure, there's lots of agendas and factions within factions.

But at the end of the day, what was grossly underestimated from the very beginning was the sense of Iraqi nationalism. The sense of Iraqi national pride. I remember in 2003 meeting so many professional military officers. Iraq's equivalent to West Pointers, who were simply aggrieved at the dishonor of firstly having a foreign force, be it western or any other kind, occupying their country, tanks in their streets, invading their homes, searching their cupboards, touching their women, be it just for the purposes of an ordinary military search, then you add to that the egregious shame of the disbanding of the Iraqi military and everything that it stood for and the status that went with it for these men, which most in the administration now admit was a terrible blunder, and that goes a long way to explaining the heart of the Sunni and even the Shia insurgency in Iraq.

COOPER: This month we have seen suicide attacks down some 50 percent since January, I believe it is. Civilian death toll down, although still some 800, I think, last month killed Iraqis. The U.S. military death toll down as well. Who is still fighting?

I mean, if al Qaeda is badly damaged, al Qaeda in Iraq is badly damaged as some in the U.S. are saying, "The Washington Post" is reporting, that's a belief many commanders have. If the Sunnis have awoken and have turned against al Qaeda in al Anbar and elsewhere, who is it now who's still fighting?

WARE: Well, the real enemy America has had since the moment it invaded, ignored for years and only woke up to perhaps a year or so ago. And it's the real winner of all of the wars since 9/11. And that's Iran, Anderson.

Al Qaeda is under pressure. But it was never going to be the big winner of the Iraq theater. It was never welcomed. It was only ever tolerated. And the way that al Qaeda has been put under the pressure it's under is because America finally accepted the deal that the Sunni former military officers offered them four or five years ago.

And think about it. Al Qaeda is crippled. We herald this in headlines, because it's only down to 30 bomb attacks a month. Can you imagine if there were 30 attacks in Israel every month or America or Australia?

Yet we still call that a victory. So al Qaeda is far from gone. It will always persist but the great enemy, the one that's fomenting most of the violence and owns the political stage, continues to be Iran, Anderson.

COOPER: Michael Ware, appreciate the reporting. Thanks, Michael.

WARE: Thank you, mate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Still to come this hour -- a beloved animal on the brink. Polar bears suffering through massive climate change and tonight some scientists see extinction in their future. We are going to take you to the Arctic after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Remarkable animal there. The government might put polar bears on the endangered species list by year's end. And the U.S. Geological Survey says they could be on the verge of extinction this century. A report out today on state of the Arctic says warming temperatures are putting a stress on all of the wildlife there as sea ice falls well below previous records.

Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin went to the Arctic for us for next week's "Planet in Peril" special. Here's some of what he found.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF CORWIN, ANIMAL PLANET (voice-over): We're on the heels of a mother polar bear and her two cubs. U.S. Geological survey scientist Steve Amstrup (ph) loads his tranquilizer gun. The helicopter lowers just over the running sow. Amstrup aims and fires the dart.

(on camera): Did you get her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Top of the shoulder.

CORWIN: Top of the shoulder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now let's get the bears back together.

CORWIN (on camera): Steve had a beautiful shot. He landed that anesthetic dart right in the shoulder about a minute ago. We need to give it some time to work. It should work rather quickly. But we don't want mom and cub to separate. We'll lower the helicopter and capture these cubs and gather the data.

(voice-over): That data is part of Amstrup's annual field study. He's exploring how a warming planet is impacting the polar bear and what he's discovered is startling. Armed with a pistol, just in case, Amstrup and I move in to secure the cubs.

With the bear safely sedated, Amstrup gets to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the female cub. Polar bears are probably the most important symbol of the Arctic from the standpoint of a measure of the health of the arctic ecosystem. Because they are entirely dependent on the surface of the sea ice for catching all of their food. And the food they eat, sea mammals and other mammals are entirely dependent on the ecosystem below them. So as the apex or top predator in the ecosystem, polar bears sort of integrate everything that's going on in the ecosystem underneath them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Up next on the program -- another candidate enters the presidential race. Will his fake campaign have a real impact? The "Raw Read" coming up after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, saying it's clear that voters are desperate for white male, middle age, Jesus-trumpeting alternative, Stephen Colbert has finally decided it's time to run for president. That's right, the bombastic host of the satirical Comedy Central show made it officially earlier. He did it with flair and, as usual, and for fun.

We get to that in a moment but we begin with tonight's "Raw Politics" and some serious news. Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His approval ratings are awful, the public doesn't trust him on the war, Democrats won't even let him kiss their babies. But President Bush came off the ropes swinging.

(voice-over): He's accusing Democratic leaders in Congress of being more interested in picking fights than making progress, of stalling on key legislation.

BUSH: Congress needs to move forward, not backward. Forward, not backward.

FOREMAN: How is this happening? Aren't the Republicans on the ropes? Yes, they are. But Democrats at several levels of government are stumbling. The raw read -- they did not change the course in Iraq when the public was begging for action and the polls are now showing a slight shift in the Republicans' favor.

More people saying the war is going well. Dem leaders are openly sniping over what happened to Armenians almost a century ago. New York's Democratic governor is backing a wildly unpopular plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. And the party's primary schedule looks like free doughnut day at the union hall -- or whatever this is.

Lawmakers are chatting up the new attorney general designee Michael Mukasey. He will get the job but it's pretty much temp work now.

(on camera): Speaking of the primary schedule, and heaven knows we have been doing a lot of that, it is still shifting. Here is what you need to know.

(voice-over): Last time the party's picks were clear by mid- March. Now we will probably know the nominees by the first week in February.

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": I am doing it!

FOREMAN: And Stephen Colbert has jumped into the race.

COLBERT: And I defy any other candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina.

FOREMAN (on camera): His campaign is just for laughs, of course, but so was Tommy Thompson's, so, Stephen, welcome to the world of "Raw Politics."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I think I'm going to be on "The Colbert Report" tomorrow. So, you know, we will see what happens.

Still to come -- dangerous storms hitting a large part of the country tonight with tornadoes. We are going to talk with our severe weather expert. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Just ahead - "The Shot of the Day." This is it. Some people say these are holy flames. Do you see an image in these flames? We will explain ahead.

First Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with the 360 news and business bulletin. Erica?

Anderson, President Bush's pick for attorney general is promising to be independent of the White House and of politics. Today at his confirmation hearing, Michael Mukasey said even the president does not have the legal authority to approve torture on terror suspects and that is something the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had refused to say.

Police in Thailand on the hunt for a Canadian man who is suspected of sexually abusing young boys. Authorities say the man's face was digitally altered in some 200 Internet photographs showing the abuse. German investigators, though, were able to reverse that process and identify him.

A mixed day on Wall Street. The Dow lost 20 points to close at 13,892, but the NASDAQ managed to finished the day up 28 points, the S&P basically flat, did tack on two.

And remember Baby Jessica, the 18-month-old who fell down the backyard well? It's tough to believe but it's actually been two decades since her much publicized rescue, and now she's poised to become a rich woman. All of the money strangers sent in the crisis and the rescue is in a trust fund that the now 21 year old Jessica McClure will have access to when she turns 25. By then it could be worth more than a million dollars. Her family said she plans to put it in a fund for her year-old son, Anderson.

COOPER: That's a good use of money.

HILL: Yeah.

COOPER: You always hear about people who suddenly gets a big windfall and go out and buy a bunch of cars. Nice to see something sensible.

HILL: Yeah. Exactly.

COOPER: Time for the shot of the day. You've likely heard the biblical story of the burning bush. Of course we all know that one. What about the burning pope? Have you seen this? Take a look at this picture. Some say this oddly-shaped flame could be Pope John Paul II waving from the grave. That's the picture to the left. It just so happens the bonfire was at a ceremony in Poland marking the second anniversary of John Paul's death. There are many believers and this image has been shown all over the world as different media outlets reported the story. While the pictures are being broadcast continuously on Italian television.

HILL: How about that. It is kind -- you see the two pictures side by side, there's something there. But I got a little something for you in your burning pope. I have a Mother Teresa in a cinnamon bun. Perhaps you recall it was spotted in a coffee shop in Nashville back in '96. Yeah. There we go. Back to the bun.

COOPER: I don't see the -- oh, there's the bun. Oh, I see.

HILL: Yeah, it took me a while too.

COOPER: I wonder what's happened to the bun since then? I wonder if the bun is still in existence?

HILL: I don't know. I wonder if the bun has ever spent any time on eBay.

COOPER: I don't know. As always, send us your shot ideas. It's easy, go to our Web site, cnn.com/360.

Up next, Latin pop singer Gloria Estefan's special mission to find a cure for paralysis. She beat a spinal cord injury years ago. Now she's teaming with a patient to help millions of others. Meet the CNN Hero when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Seventeen years ago a near fatal bus accident left Latin pop superstar Gloria Estefan the temporarily paralyzed.

Now following her grueling recovery she became involved with the Miami organization working hard to find a cure for paralysis. As our "CNN Hero" sharing the spotlight series continues, Estefan introduces her hero, a man fighting to help himself and millions who have spinal cord injuries.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLORIA ESTEFAN, SINGER: As a human being, that's all we ever want is to somehow be effective, be positive in other people's lives but for the community that is paralyzed, you're dependent on everyone else around you.

I'm Gloria Estefan, and my hero is Marc Buoniconti. Because despite being quadraplegic, he's on his way to find a cure for paralysis.

MARC BUONICONTI, MIAMI PROJECT TO CURE PARALYSIS: In 1985 I was playing football for the Citadel, my father was NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti.

ESTEFAN: He was trying to follow in his father's footsteps and in one fell swoop everything came crashing down.

BUONICONTI: I made a tackle and next thing I know I fell to the turf like a ton of bricks. And I knew right away that I was paralyzed. In a split second. Dr. Barth Green and my father and myself vowed that we would do everything in our power to raise money and awareness to find a cure. That's how the Miami Project began.

We bring together all different experts from all different fields under one roof all studying spinal cord injury.

ESTEFAN: He is spearheading that cause. He goes out there and talks about it and educates people as to what's going on.

BUONICONTI: Don't the astrocytes (ph) multiply, too?

I interact with patients and doctors and donors, putting together events and making those important phone calls. And there's not a week that goes by that I don't hear from families of someone who's been paralyzed and they have nowhere to turn except for the Miami Project.

I've seen the science. I've seen ignorance crumble. It just motivates me more. We are so close. And we're not going to stop until we help everyone get out of these chairs.

ESTEFAN: His spirit is what really draws me to him because he has purpose. And he doesn't allow anything negative to bring him down. I think we are going to see a cure thanks to the efforts of Marc and his family. He took the bull by the horns, and he really has made a difference.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Go to cnn.com/heroes for more on Marc and Gloria's story. And while you're there, you can also vote for the CNN Hero who's most inspired you. The viewer's choice will be aired during a special live global broadcast on December 6.

For our international viewers, CNN TODAY is coming up next. Here in America, LARRY KING is coming up, and I'll see you tomorrow night. Thanks for watching.

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