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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

China Earthquake Death Toll Rises; Wall Street Reform Battle

Aired April 14, 2010 - 22:00   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 with breaking news tonight, new details out of China, the death roll rising after strong multiple earthquakes devastated a remote region. The race to find survivors is on.

Now, we have just established a connection with our correspondent on the ground. We're going to take you to ground zero in just a moment.

Also ahead in this, "Keeping Them Honest": The battle over reforming Wall Street turns ugly, a top Republican saying proposed reforms will result in more bailouts of big banks. A top -- a top Democrat calls him a liar. We test the claims against the facts tonight.

And, later, how to stop child slavery in Haiti. I will to Demi Moore, who just returned from Port-au-Prince, her mission, to help save kids' lives and free them from servitude.

We begin, though, with the breaking news out of China tonight, new information, and the news is devastating. According to state-run media, at least 589 people were killed, more than 10,000 injured in a series of strong earthquakes that hit Qinghai Province early Wednesday. It's a remote, poor region. Many victims, including schoolkids, are reportedly buried under debris at this hour, and rescuers trying frantically digging to try to get them out.

CNN's John Vause spent 14 hours traveling from Beijing to this remote region in China. He joins us from in front of a hotel where about 1,000 people have so far been evacuated.

John, what are you seeing? What's the latest?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi, Anderson.

Behind me right now is all that's left of, in fact, two adjoining hotels. Both of these buildings were pancaked by the tremor. And, right now, you can see some residents and Buddhist monks, they are on top of the debris. They're using their hands, ropes and shovels to try and move these piles of twisted steel and concrete to see if there are any survivors underneath.

Most of the people -- or many people, rather, who died in this quake died when these two buildings collapsed. Others are here looking for anything of value. Now, we also have a situation across town, which is a residential area. Now, that's where we're told there is a lot of damage as well. Keep in mind, this is a very poor part of China, home to mostly ethnic Tibetans. They live in simple homes made of wood and earth, and many of those collapsed when the earthquake struck -- Anderson.

COOPER: John, it's -- as we said, it's a very remote region. It took you some 14 hours just to get there. I imagine that has got to be hampering these rescue efforts. If you were able to get there that quickly, there can't be a lot of heavy machinery there.

VAUSE: You can see the digger behind me. That's pretty rare here right now. We have seen some heavy machinery come in.

It took us 14 hours just to get here from the provincial capital of Xining. So, that gives you an idea. It's a long winding road in up this mountain. We're essentially in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains on the Tibetan Plateau. The Tibet Autonomous Region is next door.

We're at an altitude of around 12,000 feet. So, that is one of the difficulties of just getting here. There is a nearby airport. But when the earthquake happened, it knocked out the hydroelectricity plant, which meant there was no electricity, which meant that airport was not operational.

So, emergency generators have been brought in. That airport is now up and running, and some relief flights are now starting to arrive -- Anderson.

COOPER: John, you were in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Can you compare, in terms of the level of devastation you're seeing? Obviously, Port-au-Prince is a far more populated area, a major city. But how do you compare the two?

VAUSE: Yes, they're -- they're similar earthquakes, similar magnitude, similar in the sense they were fairly shallow earthquakes.

This one was about 10 kilometers beneath the surface. What I have seen so far, though, the damage here doesn't seem as bad as the damage that we saw in Port-au-Prince, because, in Port-au-Prince, it was three million people compacted into that -- into that city. So, it was built up, a lot of ramshackle buildings. This is spread out across a very wide region.

And, so, the damage here is fairly substantial, but it's -- at least on a first glance, since we have got here, the damage doesn't seem to be as bad. Also, the population, only about 100,000 people live here, compared to that -- you know, the couple of million who live in Port-au-Prince, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, obviously, still just trying to figure out the scope of this thing. John, we're going to be checking back with you later on in this program in this next hour.

Our "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight, though, is about financial reform. In the last 18 months, since your 401(k) balance took a nosedive, the economy tanked, and big banks got bailed out, we have heard an awful lot of promises from Washington about cracking down on Wall Street greed, making sure that big banks and other financial companies could never again push the economy to the brink of collapse.

We heard that over and over. Those promises came from Democrats and from Republicans. And even though, today, your 401(k) is probably in much better shape than the fall of 2008, those promised reform are still just talk.

Now, the push to pass a bill is splitting along partisan lines. And the truth about what is in the bill?, well, that seems to be the first victim.

So, who is telling the truth? Here's Tom Foreman tonight "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Democratic head of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, is accusing Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of spreading lies about financial reform legislation. At issue is a floor speech this week by McConnell. Listen.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We cannot allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts for big Wall Street banks. That's why we must not pass the financial reform bill that's about to hit the floor.

This bill not only allows for taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street banks; it institutionalizes them.

FOREMAN: "Keeping Them Honest," that's not so.

Look at this from the act. There is established in the Treasury of the United States a separate fund to be known as the Orderly Liquidation Fund. This is a new $50 billion account funded by Wall Street corporations precisely to be used instead of taxpayer money, if one of them fails and has to be broken into pieces and sold off.

McConnell is saying, when the $50 billion is used up, taxpayers might get just tapped at that point. But Dodd is furious over this idea of the bill being portrayed as protection for Wall Street.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: But to castigate it and label it is nothing more than a partisan debate and suggests that, somehow, what we have done here is perpetuate too big to fail, is just poppycock.

FOREMAN: Now, here is more from McConnell:

MCCONNELL: This bill would provide endless protection, endless protection for the biggest banks on Wall Street. In other words, it gives the government a backdoor mechanism for propping up failing or failed institutions.

FOREMAN: Yes, the bill addresses some ways to keep some companies afloat sometimes. And a lot of Republicans don't like the idea of that degree of government involvement.

But it spends a lot more space talking about how to shut down troubled firms before they threaten the wider economy. Dodd's summary talks about the Federal Reserve imposing increasingly strict rules for capital leverage liquidity, risk management, and other requirements as companies grow in size and complexity.

So, Dodd is saying that McConnell is just trying to protect big- money players.

DODD: Mr. President, it's straight from the Wall Street special interest talking points. That's what they're determined to do, defeat this bill by suggesting somehow that there's a bailout provision in this bill. Nothing could be further from the truth.

FOREMAN: Dodd and some other Dems are pointing to a copy of some talking points they found from a Republican strategist which are quite similar to McConnell's words, spurring even more accusations that this is pure politics trumping policy -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we should point out, we called Senator McConnell's office several times for comment. We didn't get a response.

Let's talk "Raw Politics" with CNN political contributor Democrat Paul Begala and Republican Alex Castellanos.

Paul, is Mitch McConnell just regurgitating talking points from party strategists?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he is. He's -- he's regurgitating talking points that are false.

The talking points in question that Foreman just referred to by a guy named Frank Luntz. Now, I know Luntz and Alex knows Luntz. And he's a very gifted wordsmith and sort of manipulator, sort of Orwellian.

Luntz wrote this memo.

COOPER: He's a pollster, right?

BEGALA: He's a pollster and does focus groups.

And he wrote this memo in January. He wrote it over three months ago, before Dodd's bill was even released. And he said call any bill that comes out a bailout. That's how you will kill it.

Now, for -- for McConnell then to take a bill which -- which prohibits bailouts, doesn't allow bailouts, in fact, makes Wall Street pay, and then say that that's a bailout bill, that is deeply dishonest.

And this is where I'm -- I'm glad to see what Foreman is doing to keep them honest. I mean, I'm all for debates about opinions. Should government guarantee health insurance? Well, it's a matter of opinion.

This is a matter of fact. This is a bill that would prevent bailouts. And McConnell can other reasons for opposing it.

I will point out that, while he's saying it's -- it's a Wall Street bailout bill, why does Wall Street then oppose the bill? Why does Wall Street give McConnell over a million dollars in campaign donations for McConnell to carry Wall Street's water here?

It really is Orwellian for him to be saying that, somehow, this is a pro-Wall Street bill, when he knows that that's not true.

COOPER: Alex, is George Orwell smiling somewhere?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm smiling. I don't know about Orwell.

Look, here's what's -- what has happened in this bill. And I think Senator McConnell has a point. We have all seem to have accepted in this country that, oh, my gosh, if we let some banks fail, it could injure our entire economy and it could injury injure all of us.

And that's why this bill, I think, with the best of intentions, creates a process for the orderly liquidations of some banks and funds that with billions of dollars.

Now, some people say, hey, that's a bailout. What this bill really does...

COOPER: But the money comes from -- from Wall Street, from investment firms.

CASTELLANOS: Well, but the money -- you know, it's like tax money. At the end of the day, it all comes from, guess who, us. There is no other money. At the end of the day, whether you get it through Wall Street or through taxes, it all comes from us.

What this bill really does -- and Senator Dodd alluded to this -- and that is, it creates a $410 billion federal structure to regulate how money moves in this country, to regulate almost everything.

For the first time, for example, it lets state attorneys generals hire lawyers on contingency to go headhunting and chase after businesses that it thinks are doing the wrong things. So...

COOPER: You're using a lot of buzz words, regulate, lawyers, which people don't like.

But, I mean, some level...

CASTELLANOS: Well, it's in the bill.

COOPER: Do you -- do you think some level of regulation is necessary?

CASTELLANOS: I think everyone understands some level of regulation is necessary.

But what this bill does is create a backdoor way to get troubled banks, you know, out of the political process, so it doesn't -- allegedly, trying not to harm the economy, but it creates, again, this huge half-a-billion regulatory structure that a lot of folks are concerned is going to tighten up credit, tighten up our ability to grow economically.

COOPER: Paul is both rolling his eyes and shaking his head and smiling nervously.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: But I have got to take a quick break. We will let him respond just on the other side of this, more "Raw Politics."

You can join the live chat at AC360.com.

Sarah Palin was the headliner today at a big Tea Party protest in Boston. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown was invited, but was a no- show. We will talk about that with our panel also.

Plus, the "Big 360 Interview": Demi Moore just back from Port-au- Prince in Haiti.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's incredible that this is only three hours away from New York City by plane.

DEMI MOORE, ACTRESS: I arrived last night, and I felt like I was in culture shock, that this is the same planet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: She talked to first lady -- the first lady of Haiti while she was there, also, her efforts to end child slavery in Haiti.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In Boston today, thousands of Tea Party activists turned out for a rally featuring a long list of speakers who railed against the Obama -- Obama administration's policies.

Here's a bit of what Sarah Palin said at the rally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I'm not calling anyone un-American, but the unintended consequence of these actions, the results are un-American.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Is -- is that what Barack Obama meant when he promised the nation that they would fundamentally transform America?

He warned us. He warned us with a playbook that sure seems to me that it's all Alinsky all the time.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Is this what their change is all about? I want to tell them, nah, you know, we -- we will keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion, and you can keep the change.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining us again, Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos.

By the way, today's event in Boston, it was the last stop, I guess, on the Tea Party Express. Their tour ends up in Washington tomorrow on tax day. A notable no-show at the rally was -- was Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.

Paul and Alex join me again.

Paul, I just want you to be able to respond to what Alex said before the break...

BEGALA: Yes.

COOPER: ... essentially supporting what Mitch McConnell -- some of what Mitch McConnell said.

BEGALA: Well, let me get back to that. Mitch McConnell says that this -- that the bill to regulate Wall Street is somehow a Wall Street bailout, even though the plain language of the bill says it's not.

So, I want to try this. I have a thick and full and lustrous head full of hair. Pay no attention to the fact that, on your high-def screens, America, you can see that I am about half-bald, and that we could even rent out ad space on my forehead.

I actually have a thick and lustrous ahead of hair. So, the question is, what are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? There's a technical term for what McConnell is doing. It's called lying. So, when he says it's a bailout, he's just flat-out lying.

Maybe I should put that on my forehead. This is not a bailout, Mitch. I'm sorry, but it's just -- it's -- that's the only way to deal with this kind of thing is -- is with ridicule, because he's insulting our intelligence.

CASTELLANOS: Paul, Paul, I think some of those hairs on your head, I think you have one for every dollar that Chris Dodd has received from Wall Street. No one has received more cash than Chris Dodd.

BEGALA: Except Mitch McConnell, $1.4 million...

CASTELLANOS: Oh...

BEGALA: ... according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the number-one recipient of Wall Street money.

CASTELLANOS: Over the years, no one has gotten more than Dodd, Paul.

BEGALA: ... who is trying to kill the bill that Wall Street -- that Wall Street hates. I mean, who is carrying Wall Street's water? That's the question. Who benefits? Well, when Wall Street gives you a million bucks, and you're killing the bill that Wall Street wants killed, I -- you know, I think maybe there's a connection.

But I do have a thick, full, and lustrous head of hair, and am available to do advertising for any of the shampoo and conditioning products that -- that you might need.

COOPER: Alex, let's move on and talk about the Tea Party a little bit.

The new CNN poll today, about seven in 10 members of the Tea Party call themselves conservatives. About eight in 10 say they would support the Republican candidate in their district, pretty much the percentage who voted for John McCain two years ago.

I mean, when you hear those results, some will say, well, look, this sounds like they're basically just Republican voters who don't want to be associated with the Republican brand.

CASTELLANOS: Well, there are a lot of voters out there. The Tea Party, I think, is the -- almost the tip of an iceberg. It's certainly the most visible part. And that is, there are a lot of voters, whether in the Tea Party or independents, and certainly Republicans, who have a common bond.

And that is: Washington is not listening to me. They think they can spend anything, say anything, do anything they want, and they don't care what I think. Certainly, the most active part of that are the Tea Party members.

But, you know, I -- I -- I don't play for the Washington Redskins, but I root for the team. I want them to win. And that's the same thing you see. I think there are a lot of independents and Republicans who have the same political goals, and that is stop some of this spending in Washington, as the Tea Party.

COOPER: Paul, do you -- do you buy it, that the Tea Party is this tip of the iceberg, or do you think they are essentially the folks who voted for John McCain?

BEGALA: Well, I -- I -- there's been some research on this. They tend to be obviously conservative, and they tended to have voted Republican in the last election.

But here's where they're different. You notice, when Governor Palin in that clip, and the speeches I have seen her give there, she doesn't go on the religious right talking points in front of the Tea Party. Why? Because she's a good politician.

Tea Party activists tend to be a lot more secular. They're not interested in the gay-bashing that some Republicans do, or the arguments about abortion rights that some Republicans engage in. They're -- they're smart, the Republicans are.

When they speak to the Tea Party groups, they keep it secular and they focus it on the debt and spending. Now, here's the deal. None of those Tea Party activists like the idea of a Republican Party carrying water for Wall Street.

So, there is some -- they're most conservative. But, as a Democratic strategist, I wouldn't give up on them. There's a lot of those folks who don't like the fact that it was the Republicans that bailed out Wall Street, and now it's the Republicans who are trying to kill the Wall Street reform.

I bet a lot of those Tea Party activists would like the fact that Democrats are cracking down on Wall Street.

CASTELLANOS: Paul -- Paul, if you will correct me, I thought the president of the United States, who gave all the AIG guys their bonuses, was Barack Obama, and then was shocked when they took them.

So, you know, clearly, I mean, the Larry Summers of the world and the Geithners, where do they come from?

BEGALA: No, but don't you...

CASTELLANOS: They're all for Wall Street all the time.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: But that's for the Democrats, I guess, to explain, Paul.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Just saying, talking point aside, Obama did that. I wasn't for it. I'm not going to try to like flack for Barack Obama. I'm interested, though, because I think those Tea Party activists are populists, mostly anti-government, yes, but I think they're also anti- Wall Street, Alex.

And I think my party ought to get in the game, too, and get some of those guys and gals, because I think they're just as upset with Wall Street, and they ought to be, as they are with Washington. CASTELLANOS: Well, if -- if that's the case, they certainly haven't been voting for Democrats in -- certainly in Massachusetts, in New Jersey and Virginia.

But, you know, I -- one point about Sarah Palin is, I think she's doing something very smart here. I think Sarah Palin's decided that it's more important for her to be the power behind 1,000 thrones than to sit on the throne herself. And, so, she's out there now supporting candidates, Republicans, conservatives, all over the place, and uniting that populist anger that -- that -- that Paul is talking about.

And I think she's becoming an even more powerful political force.

COOPER: You know, Paul, everyone says they don't like partisanship. And Democrats certainly bash the Republicans on partisanship.

But, I mean, there's this -- now there's a new liberal group called Crash the Party that says it's going to try to go to Tea Party rallies and blend in and be outrageous as they can. I mean, doesn't that just kind of add to the kind of fractured nature of politics in America today? I mean, is that really a good, smart thing for -- for this group to be doing?

BEGALA: It's not something I would do. It's not something I'm encouraging. OK?

In fact, if I were crashing the party, I would bring a sign that said: tax cuts for the middle class, not for millionaires. That's what the Democrats are actually for. That's not trying to make mischief. That's trying to give the Democratic message to these folks who I think some of whom could be open to it.

I would carry a sign that says, you know, toughen up and regulate Wall Street and throw the -- throw the crooks in jail on Wall Street, something Democrats are for and Republicans are against.

I think you're right. I don't like the idea, if it's true, of some liberals going there and saying even more crazy and extreme things.

COOPER: Because, certainly, Alex, I mean, liberals wouldn't like it if Republicans came to their rallies and tried to make mischief and make them look, you know, silly.

CASTELLANOS: It's -- I think that's exactly right, Anderson.

But what you're seeing here is kind of political strategy 101. And that is, when you're in a tough political situation, as I think President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are this year, and when it's very difficult to -- to run on your own record, when voters are very disenchanted with that, what do you do? You need a villain. You need an enemy.

And the Democrats have tried, you know, with insurance companies. They're trying now with Wall Street. Unfortunately, for them, I think, what the American people are really looking for is, how are we going to get out of this mess? How are we going to grow the economy?

And the Democrats are in this divisive argument: This person has too much. This one has too little. It's all someone else's fault. Obama's real strength is optimism and vision. He ought to get rid -- stop fighting this class warfare with Wall Street that Paul is recommending, and say: Look, I'm going to lead us to a better place, all of us together, not divided.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We already have a class warfare. As Warren Buffett said, we already have class warfare in this country, and my class is winning.

I just want to see...

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: ... the other side get in the game a little bit and some sensible regulation on Wall Street. That's what I want to see.

CASTELLANOS: Well, you know, that's -- that's the argument, Paul.

BEGALA: If it's good enough for Warren Buffett, my goodness, is he a class warrior, too, now? He's the second richest man in the world.

COOPER: We have got to go.

Alex, thanks very much.

Alex Castellanos, Paul Begala, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Still ahead, tonight's interview, actress Demi Moore on the serious challenges surrounding the recovery effort in Haiti.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOORE: How is organization going to be possible? Even if there is a lot of money, how are they going to actually get in there physically with equipment? I saw one crane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Just back from Haiti yesterday.

Later, a massive manhunt for a baby-faced fugitive with a Facebook following in the thousands.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're following a number of other stories tonight.

Joe Johns joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has ordered the immediate inspection of all underground coal mines. Manchin also asked the state's more than 200 underground coal mines to cease production tomorrow to honor the 29 miners killed last week at Massey Energy Company's Upper Big Branch Mine.

First lady Michelle Obama spent the day with schoolchildren in Mexico. She also visited an elementary school, and then spoke to high school and college students about everything from poverty to climate change. She also sat down with CNN en Espanol's Juan Carlos Lopez, and told him about the strict rules the first daughters must follow when it comes to technology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: You know, we try to establish a set of guidelines and -- and rules that make sense: no computers, phones, television during the week. We talk a lot with them about the dangers of Facebook and sort of getting into that social networking kind of gossip mill or -- you know, that comes from those activities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: A new report by the Federal Reserve finds that economic recovery is spreading to most parts of the country. Merchants are seeing better sales, and factories are boosting production, but many companies are still wary of ramping up hiring.

And a new study confirms what you probably suspected: Those mandatory password changes many I.T. departments require just don't do any good. Researchers say cyber-crooks who steal your password use it right away. So, by the time you change it, it's too late.

COOPER: Wow.

JOHNS: And I could have figured that one out.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Yes.

So, Sasha and Malia don't get to have a phone during the week. Pretty strict.

JOHNS: Yes, I know. They're -- they're not playing around.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNS: I wish we had those rules at my house.

COOPER: I -- for...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: You know, for a young teenage girl, that has got to be really tough.

Still ahead tonight: some new questions about a group that has been around for more than 100 years, the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Of course, they pushed for Virginia's governor to establish Confederate Day, but who really is in this group? It might surprise you. We will take you "Up Close."

Also ahead, Demi Moore's new mission to help the kids of Haiti.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOORE: Who they are as people has so much, enormous potential.

COOPER: Yes.

MOORE: And with just a little opportunity to empower them, I think that they would rebuild a better Haiti.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The "Big 360 Interview" -- coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, some new insights on the Sons of Confederate Veterans. That's the group that lobbied Virginia's governor to name April "Confederate History Month" in the state. They are known for Civil War reenactments and cleaning up Confederate gravesites across the South, but in recent years, critics say they're been taken over by extremists, some of whom are aligned with racist groups. In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center says the Sons of Confederate Veterans has been infiltrated by members of hate groups.

Joe Johns has an up-close look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Sons of Confederate Veterans claims about 30,000 members, some of whom celebrate the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and salute the Confederate battle flag at meetings. And while many, especially African-Americans, view the pre-Civil War era as a time of strife and servitude, Sons of Confederate Veterans focus more on "Gone with the Wind" aspects of the story. Its members view the Civil War as the Lost Cause.

HEIDI BEIRICH, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: The Lost Cause is a mythology created by white southerners in the aftermath of the Civil War after they lost to rewrite the idea that slavery wasn't the main cause of the war.

JOHNS: In fact, on its Web site, the group describes its mission as "defending the heroes who fought for liberty and freedom in what it called the second American Revolution."

In recent years, they've gotten more politically active. In the last election, a writer in the group's magazine sized up Barack Obama: "I believe that his rhetoric and anti-white legislative proposals would stir up racial riots that would seriously damage race relations in America."

Still, they have not been implicated in any acts of violence or terrorism. So is Sons of Confederate Veterans a hate group? The answer is no. Even its biggest critic, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which closely watches hate groups, says no.

BEIRICH: We have been monitoring the group for a very long time because the organization is shot through with members of hate groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens and the League of the South, which are white supremacist groups.

JOHNS: Gilbert Jones can speak to that. He says the group is going through its own civil war, between moderates and extremists. Jones was a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans but left, because he says it got too political.

GILBERT JONES, FORMER MEMBER, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS: I don't believe that it's a hate group at this point. I believe there are people in there who qualify as members of a hate group. I've met some fine people in the SCV, and I've met some scum. Unfortunately, the scum, like, I said, tends to be more active in the group.

JOHNS: Among the group's most prominent members is this man, Kirk Lyons, a lawyer who got married in the Aryan Nation's compound and who has defended racists and white supremacists. He told us in a statement he no longer defends extremists, that his "work for the last 15 years has been thoroughly conventional and mainstream." But the Southern Poverty Law Center disagrees.

BEIRICH: He's on record being against things like race mixing. So you know, we'll quite calling Lyons a white supremacist when he stops being a white supremacist.

JOHNS: That's a charge Lyons denies. But if Sons of Confederate Veterans isn't a hate group, what is it?

FRANK EARNEST, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS: We're a veterans organization, much like any other veterans organization, the difference being that with the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars, new -- there's always going to be a new generation of veterans coming along to take care of the older veterans. There wouldn't -- there would never again be any Confederate veterans, so the Confederate veterans turned over to their sons.

JOHNS: And now, by helping stir racial controversy in Virginia, the group has crossed the line from caretaker of the Confederate legacy to cultural warrior.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Interesting. Let us know what you think. Join the live chat at AC360.com.

Still ahead, the latest in our breaking news, the frantic effort to find victims buried in rubble after the devastating earthquake in China.

Also, Demi Moore's mission to survivors in Haiti, her fight to try to end child slavery there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEMI MOORE, ACTRESS: You know, buildings completely collapsed, but then the life of people selling their wares on the street and, you know, really showing the spirit of -- that life goes on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: She joins us for the big 360 interview.

Also ahead tonight, take a look at this picture. Have you seen this kid? He's been on the run for years, accused of stealing planes, boats, just about anything. We'll have the latest on the search for the more wanted teen bandit in America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: I want to update the breaking news out of China. Close to 600 people now confirmed dead, thousands more injured after a series of strong earthquakes struck a poor, mountainous area in China. Most of the people living there are Tibetan, and most of their homes are made of wood, not strong enough to withstand an earthquake.

CNN's John Voise -- John Vause joins us Jie Gu, where workers are working to pull victims from the rubble -- John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're getting word from government officials that at least 56 students have died here when their schools collapsed. You may recall during the 2008 Szechuan earthquake, more than 5,000 students died because their schools were, in fact, poorly constructed. There will be questions asked why these schools collapsed, as well.

We've seen a number of dead bodies being pulled from the rubble so far today. Despite that, the official death toll remains at 589, around 10,000 people being injured.

The government continuing to send relief workers and rescuers and emergency supplies to this quake area. We're also being told that three commercial flights are coming, as well, including one plane which has been especially modified to land at a high altitude airport in neighboring Tibet -- Anderson.

COOPER: John, what's the medical attention like in the area? VAUSE: Well, at the best of times, it's pretty bad. What we're being told is that there is a shortage of medical supplies. There's a shortage of health workers. There's not enough doctors; there's not enough nurses. Essentially, they're working with bandages and very little else. They're having to set up medical crews with those relief workers who are on their way and again, they're setting up a medical team which has been specialized dealing in a high-altitude environment like this, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. John Vause, reporting from the scene. John, thank you very much.

It's been more than three months since the earthquake in Haiti, but as we've been reporting, the situation there continues to be desperate for hundreds of thousands of survivors living in camp cities. A lot of people have traveled to Haiti to help. Demi Moore is one of them. She just returned from there, seeking ways to try to end child slavery in Haiti and around the world.

Demi Moore joined me earlier for the big 360 interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You just got back from Haiti. You were there yesterday. What was it like? I mean, it was your first time there.

MOORE: My first time, I -- it's a really powerful experience, because one -- to try to really take in the scope of the devastation is -- it's kind of beyond any of the pictures you can see.

And -- and yet from the beginning, like seeing life go on, you know, buildings completely collapsed but then the life of people selling their ware on the street and -- and, you know, really showing the spirit of life goes on.

COOPER: People are literally living in the rubble of their former homes?

MOORE: Some streets have been blocked off because their tents have been put right in front of their homes. And obviously, there's many, many of these tent cities and some in, you know, greater states than others.

COOPER: Why did you want to go?

MOORE: Well, you know, Ashton and I started this foundation.

COOPER: The DNA Foundation.

MOORE: The DNA Foundation. And our focus is to end sex slavery, which is a global issue. This is not exclusive to Haiti. But, you know, we became aware of the rest of the system, which you know, has about 300,000 children who are enslaved, who do all the work, who sleep on the floor and, in most cases, it's -- it's the young girls are sexually exploited.

COOPER: And this is the system that's been in Haiti for a long, long time?

MOORE: Yes. And in a certain way, I feel like it's kind of in their perception, their version of our foster-care system. But at the same time, it's, you know, it is really fraudulent, and these children are enslaved.

COOPER: It is literally a modern form of slavery?

MOORE: Without -- without a doubt.

COOPER: And essentially, a poor family will give their child to -- not even to a rich family, just to a family...

MOORE: No, sometimes it's just a slightly...

COOPER: Less poor.

MOORE: ... less poor, and I think that there is this idea that...

COOPER: And that family can pretty much do whatever they want with that child.

MOORE: Whatever they want.

COOPER: Manual labor.

MOORE: And they care -- they care for the children. They will dress and walk their children to school. And I think the thing that I didn't understand before I went is that, in some cases, this is another family member. And -- or if a mother dies and a stepmother enters into the picture, the child from the former, you know, family is viewed as somebody staying with, which is what that "restavec" means and are treated less than. And really less than even an animal.

COOPER: You went to St. Damien's Children's Hospital, which is a famous institution there. I think we have one of your pictures from Twitter. You met a little boy named David.

MOORE: Yes. It was extraordinary. First of all, that hospital, in comparison to what is existing in Haiti, is remarkable. And his spirit was such a reflection of what I saw with all of the people. I mean, here he is. He was burned over quite a bit of his body. He's lost three of his fingers. And the joy that he expressed, even throughout the entire ward, was just beautiful. And really uplifting.

But this whole hospital, you know, one of the interesting things that the earthquake created a lot of premature labor. So there were nine premature babies, and they just received all of this equipment to allow for it to have a proper NICU unit.

COOPER: So -- are you less hopeful, more hopeful now that you've actually been there and seen it for yourself. Because I mean, it's not -- there's the earthquake, the damage of that to recover from. There's generations of corruption of governments there. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome. MOORE: I think I feel extremely conflicted, because I -- I think it's overwhelming to look and say, how is organization going to be possible, even if there's a lot of money? How are they actually going to get in there physically with equipment? I saw one crane among streets that were just leveled, starting to, you know, dismantle and get some of this rubble out.

But one of the things I feel is that the vessel -- if I look at this as a vessel of opportunity, I feel like the people have been reinforced, that that's very limited. And yet who they are as people has so much enormous potential, and with just a little bit of opportunity to empower them, I think that they would rebuild a better Haiti.

And what I hope is that that will include the banning of this "restavec" system. Because I -- I think it's absolutely possible. And one of the things seeing in Sean's camp that was really inspiring is, with just some clear leadership, that it ran with no chaos.

COOPER: Sean Penn's running a campus of some 60,000 people.

MOORE: And they're in the middle of moving, you know, them to safer ground and -- at Korai (ph), which you know, is a couple of hours away. And people aren't so open to it. But the general sense of calm at their being a leadership was night and day. And I feel like, that if they can get that in place, this is going -- this is not a quick fix. That's for sure.

COOPER: I mean, the thing that keeps coming back to me, and I keep thinking about it, is the Haitian people themselves are giants. I mean, what they've been able to overcome for decades and generations is extraordinary. You know, they need some support, and they need a government that works in their favor. But when it gets down to it, I mean, their hearts are so strong, as are, you know, their mind.

MOORE: And -- you know, and people say this, but I really felt it. I felt a genuine joy and strength. What I don't know is if they just know what the potential is, where they can go, because I don't think it's being offered. And I think if they're give a greater opportunity of vocational skills, at creating assets beyond just what is, that we'll see a greater Haiti.

And I think that we have to, in a sense, as it relates to -- to slavery, we as Americans have to carry out, you know, Lincoln's promise and bring about freedom. I mean, we are the land of the free, and I think that we need to show that.

COOPER: And it's incredible. This is only three hours away from New York City by plane.

MOORE: I arrived last night, and I felt like I was in culture shock that this is the same planet.

COOPER: Demi Moore, thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: She's using her Twitter account to urge lawmakers to fight childhood slavery. You can read about it at AC -- at AC360.com.

We also have this programming note. Next month, Soledad O'Brien introduces us to Haiti's orphans, the kids at risk and the people who came to their rescue. It's a special report, Saturday, May 8, on CNN.

Coming up next, meet a modern-day outlaw. He's the subject of a massive manhunt. He's apparently 18 years old, and this kid has a fan base in the thousands online. A "Crime and Punishment" report ahead.

Also tonight, an unbelievable story: an 8-year-old boy suspected of handing out packets of heroin to his classmates. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Crime and Punishment," a teenage bandit suspected of stealing planes and worshiped by thousands on Facebook -- maybe not exactly worshiped -- but has dodged his pursuers again. His story's pretty wild. It may soon be heading to Hollywood, even if the young fugitive is nowhere to be found.

Randi Kaye reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Baby faced and barely 18, meet Colton Harris-Moore, a fugitive with a Facebook following in the thousands. To some, he's a folk hero and a kid outlaw. But for cops, Harris-Moore is an elusive bandit, a troubled youth suspected of stealing planes, cars, boats, while growing, authorities say, increasingly daring and dangerous.

Last month, an army of police officers and federal agents descended on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington state, where Harris-Moore was believed to be hiding out in rugged terrain. The search turned up empty.

Harris-Moore was first accused of breaking into homes in Washington state at the age of 12 and earned the name "Barefoot Burglar" because he never wore shoes.

Since then, he's been brought up on at least 11 felony charges, but police can't find him to make the arrest. Authorities believe he stole a plane in February, flying it to the San Juan Islands. And he's also suspected of stealing at least three other planes, including one pirated in Idaho and crash-landed in Washington state. He doesn't have a pilot's license.

His mother says, it's impossible he's responsible for so many crimes.

PAM KOHLER, HARRIS-MOORE'S MOTHER: If he did everything they say he did, he'd have to be 60 years old. Nobody has that many hours in a day to do everything they say he did. KAYE (on camera): The cops can't find him, but Harris-Moore may soon be coming to a theater near you. 20th Century FOX has bought the rights to his unfinished story and hopes it means box-office gold.

SHARON WAXMAN, THEWARP.COM: This kid is made for Hollywood. He's straight out of central casting. He's this -- he's a teenaged kid who's a rebel, who's bucking authority, who's stealing boats and cars and going barefoot. I mean, you couldn't make up a character more colorful than this. So I mean, it's an absolute natural for Hollywood to grab his story and make a movie out of it.

KAYE (voice-over): The teen fugitive isn't just wanted. He's admired by tens of thousands of people who follow him on a fan Facebook page. One comment tells him to "run like the wind." Another says, "You're living the dream."

The police, however, have another message for him. As one sheriff put it...

SHERIFF MARK BROWN, ISLAND COUNTY, WASHINGTON: It should be more about apprehension of an adult felon criminal at this point and not so much about -- about everything else, making this person some kind of cult hero or a Robin Hood.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up next, a school district ordered to stop practices promoting racial segregation. We've got the details on that.

And a high-tech game of cat and mouse, our "Shot of the Day."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Following a number of stories, Joe Johns is back with the "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOHNS: Anderson, police in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, believe a third grader brought 60 packets of heroin to school, each stamped with the words "Trust me."

In Mississippi, a judge there has ordered the small school district to stop allowing hundreds of white students to transfer out of a majority black school, calling the practice a violation of a decades-old federal desegregation order.

And "Jon & Kate Plus 8" violated Pennsylvania's child labor law by not getting work permits for the Gosselin's eight children. But state officials say they will not file charges against the reality TV show, as long as Kate Gosselin and producers get permits for their future show called "A Twist of Kate."

COOPER: There's a new show? Ay, yi, yi.

JOHNS: You didn't even know.

COOPER: No. I won't be setting the TiVo for that one.

Let's check out "The Shot" tonight. Well, last night's "Shot," we had this dog basically chasing its own shadow. Kind of freaked out by its own shadow. We found it on Break.com.

And it's only fair that if we show dogs, we show cats, as well. It's the right thing to do, we think. It brings us to tonight's "Shot." This is from YouTube. It's the newest use for the iPad, perhaps. It's called the cat app. We don't know if this is what Steve Jobs had in mind exactly.

JOHNS: Is it a worm?

COOPER: I guess, some sort of worm that the cat's just kind of freaked-out by. Moves the pad, and there you go.

JOHNS: Very strange.

COOPER: Very strange, indeed. Joe, thanks for being on the program tonight.

Coming up at the top of the hour, the breaking news, the latest on the situation in China. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We begin with breaking news tonight. New details out of China, the death toll rising after multiple strong earthquakes devastated a remote region. The race to find survivors is on. You know, we've just established with our correspondent on the ground. We're going to take you to ground zero in just a moment.

Also ahead in this hour, "Keeping Them Honest." The battle over reforming Wall Street turns ugly. A top Republican saying proposed reforms will result in more bailouts of big banks. A top Democrat calls him a liar. We test the claims against the facts tonight.

And later, how to stop child slavery in Haiti. I'll talk to Demi Moore, who just returned from Port-au-Prince, her mission to help save kids' lives and free them from servitude.

We begin, though, with breaking news out of China. Tonight, new information, and the news is devastating. According to state-run media, at least 589 people were killed, more than 10,000 injured in a series of strong earthquakes that hit Qinghai province early Wednesday. It's a remote, poor region.