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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Obama's Tax Challenge to Republicans; Deadly Illness Striking Children; Crime at Sea; Shark Scare

Aired July 9, 2012 - 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: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And there's a lot happening tonight, including a campaign showdown over your taxes; 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta on a mysterious and deadly illness that is striking young children. He's on the case.

First, though, a story you will not see anywhere else about an experience taking an ocean cruise that you probably think is safe. It may not be, at least not always. And we're not talking about something going wrong with the ship.

This is the story, a 360 exclusive, about crime at sea, about how much more common it is than you may realize, how little protection the victims may have from it, and in the end how little justice some may be getting.

More now from Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the cruise of a lifetime, a family spending New Year's rounding the volcanic White Island off New Zealand's coast on board Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas. January 1, 2010. This girl, then 15, decided to spend the morning alone in her cabin. And the trip of a lifetime turned to terror as her locked door to Cabin 3073 suddenly clicked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't hear the card key go in but I did hear like the door open and like the lock like -- yes. And I thought it was my brother or sister at first. And then when I saw the guy come in, I didn't recognize the bartender uniform. I just -- it was someone working on the ship so then I thought it was a room attendant that was going to clean my room because I didn't put the sign like, oh, don't disturb or whatever.

GRIFFIN: It wasn't a attendant. It was a crew member dressed in a bartender's uniform. Threatening the girl not to say a word, she says, as he forced the teen to perform oral sex. At her family's request, we are not showing her face.

(on camera): You were 15.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. GRIFFIN: Scared. You didn't tell you family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I -- at the time on the cruise I didn't want to ruin the vacation for them because I -- it had already been ruined for me.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Up on deck, her mother says the girl's demeanor instantly changed. She was clingy. Never left her side for the rest of the cruise. It wasn't until two months later the secret broke.

(on camera): Do you feel the person who attacked you, that this was the first time he attacked anybody?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because the way he did it, he walked in like he already knew what he was doing.

GRIFFIN: Do you feel he was a predator?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Randy Jacques has a very strong opinion about the likelihood of criminals on board.

RANDY JACQUES, FORMER SHIP SECURITY OFFICER: Every single cruise that leaves the Port of Miami, Port Everglades, Cape Canaveral, Port Canaveral, here in the state of Florida, has a minimum of one perpetrator whether it'd be passenger or crew on board its vessel each week.

GRIFFIN: Jacques is a former ships security officer. He now investigates on-board crimes for victims and lawyers who may want to file civil lawsuits. He says there is no doubt cruise ships have become magnets for predators who feel safe at sea, far from police jurisdictions. And given the nature of cruises with lots of alcohol, parents who leave children unattended, the predator passengers and, yes, predator crew members, he says, feel they can get away with almost anything.

JACQUES: Yes, this is true, the -- there are a considerable amount of male perpetrators out there that are passengers and crew that get on board these vessels with the -- only one thing in mind, and that is to accost as many female passengers as they can. Whether by getting them overly intoxicated or by using date rape drugs.

GRIFFIN (on camera): They're rapists?

JACQUES: Yes, they're rapists.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And according to Jacques, who worked for two major cruise lines, crew members are often complicit, even using on-board computers, passenger manifests, to spot their prey.

(on camera): You know this.

JACQUES: Yes, I know this for a fact. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Hard to believe? We thought so, too, until we met Laura Hains who worked for 17 years as an agent with Customs and Border Protection. Her main job, she says, was dealing with passengers and staff on cruise ships. And she shares the same opinion and concerns as Jacques.

(on camera): So your estimate of ships that go out to sea, loaded with passengers, that may have at least one predator on board...

LAURA HAINS, FORMER CUSTOMS OFFICER: Yes.

GRIFFIN: Is?

HAINS: Eighty-five percent.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): You heard right, 85 percent. Crimes are rarely reported. And in many instances, even if caught, crew members could still end up on another ship.

HAINS: And the cruise lines say that doesn't happen and I know for a fact it does because I have -- I have seen it.

GRIFFIN: The Cruise Line International Association disputes her assertion. In an e-mail to CNN, a spokesman told us, "It is disconcerting that this individual would irresponsibly offer such inflammatory and unfounded accusations. The safety of passengers and crew are the cruise industry's number one priority and no one is served when broad and alarming statements are made that have no basis in fact."

The cruise industry points to a law passed by Congress as recently as 2010 that, for the first time, called for the public reporting of all crimes on board American cruise ships at sea. And cites only a handful of the millions of passengers were the victims of any kind of crime. Critics say that's because most crimes aren't even reported. And even fewer, especially sexual assaults, says Randy Jacques, are ever solved.

(on camera): The criminals know this, don't they?

JACQUES: The criminals know this, the passengers -- the passengers that are criminals know this. The crew members that are criminals know this.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And now this teenager knows this, too. When she finally reported her crime to the FBI, two months after the event took place, an FBI agent in Riverside, California, took the report, found her story to be credible, and forwarded the information to police in Australia and New Zealand, "In an attempt," he wrote in this report, "to identify a possible child predator on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise Liner." The girl's family sued the cruise line, which settled the case. But the family says it never heard from police in Australia or New Zealand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had no one to contact over there that was getting our report. It was just sent over there and then it kind of disappeared.

GRIFFIN: In a statement, Royal Caribbean said once it was informed of the assault, it notified the FBI, New Zealand authorities and Interpol. It also said it provided the FBI with 50 to 60 pictures of crew members but -- quote -- "unfortunately, the guest was unable to identify the crew member in question."

"Royal Caribbean insisted it continuously supported law enforcement during the investigation of this incident. Additionally, the cruise line says, "its security personnel have been trained by the FBI and use FBI procedures."

It's been more than two years. There has been no arrest.

(on camera): In effect, the person that assaulted you did get away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GRIFFIN: And could very well still be floating around somewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Drew, I find this report amazing. I really had no idea. Where are the police in all of this?

GRIFFIN: You know, Anderson, these cruise ships are floating cities. Everything both good and bad goes on in a small city can happen at sea. Outside the 12-mile limit it's the FBI that has the official jurisdiction. But of course the FBI isn't on board. So the answer is there are no cops to call, which is why this former on-board ship security officer tells us it's so hard to both retain evidence and investigate any crime on board a ship.

COOPER: The cruise line industry says that incidents like the one you described, though, are extremely rare. I mean, out of all the millions of passengers who sailed, it is a tiny fraction who run into problems like this, right?

GRIFFIN: And with the records they have, that is true. But we don't know what is and is not reported. We don't know if what is reported to a cabin boy, a bartender or somebody else on that ship eventually goes into the data file of the criminal records. It's -- the experts tell us, look, we're not trying to frighten anybody, Anderson, but think of it this way. If you went to the mall with 4,000 people or if you took your family to a huge hotel with an amusement park, what kind of safety efforts would you take? A lot of that breaks down on these cruises. And that is what makes predators so tempted to get on these ships, along with all these other people who let their guard down, have a party atmosphere and know that in many cases they can get away with it.

COOPER: Yes. It's really a shocking report.

Drew, appreciate it. Thanks very much. We need to follow on it.

Let us know what you think. You can follow me at Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I have been tweeting about this now.

A lot of people are talking about President Obama's new push to extend tax cuts for most Americans, illuminate them for a high earners, above $250,000. Some, though, are calling it a political ploy. Others say he's just trying to keep a promise he made during his first campaign. We've got the "Raw Politics" and a debate between Cornell Belcher and Bay Buchanan.

Join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, presidential elections happen every four years, but deja vu is forever. Keep that in mind as you listened to President Obama's announcement say that he's seeking to extend the Bush era tax cuts for incomes of $250,000 or less.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not proposing anything radical here. I just believe that anybody making over $250,000 a year should go back to the income tax rates we were paying under Bill Clinton. Back when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs. The biggest budget surplus in history. And plenty of millionaires to boot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, if it sounds familiar to you it should. Here's Senator Obama four years ago on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I can make a firm pledge under my plan no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that promise to end the Bush tax cuts except for higher earners -- excuse me, to end them for people under $250 -- to not end them for people under $250,000 helped sweep him into office.

"Keeping Them Honest," he could not fulfill despite Democrats controlling both the House and the Senate. Republicans opposed letting any of the cuts expire. So did a number of Democrats. The process obviously dragged on, as you know. Then, the 2010 election came along, the Tea Party election, as a lot of people called it. Republicans took over the House. President Obama settled for passing a two-year extension to all the tax cuts during the lame-duck session.

In exchange, he got additional jobless benefits and payroll tax cuts. But now that two-year extension is nearly up. And once again, Republicans are calling any tax increases economic poison and politically motivated.

Mitt Romney didn't make any appearances today. His spokeswoman did say this -- quote -- "President Obama's response to even more bad economic news is a massive tax increase." She goes on, "It just proves again that the president doesn't have a clue how to get Americans working again and help the middle class." And quote, "The president's latest bad idea is to raise taxes on families, job creators and small businesses."

Now "Keeping Them Honest." A lot of -- a lot of policy wonks are fighting over all that. The bottom line, just like last time, this may not be settled until after the election. Until then for both sides it's a campaign issue. The question is, who exactly benefits?

"Raw Politics" now with Democratic strategist and Obama 2012 pollster Cornell Belcher, also Republican strategist and senior Romney adviser Bay Buchanan, whose new book out is called "Bay and Her Boys," about her raising boys as a single mom.

So, Cornell, Republicans say this is all about politics and the president is just trying to call them on the carpet while diverting attention from Friday's poor jobs report. Are they wrong?

(LAUGHTER)

Yes, I think they are wrong. I think what you see here is the president doing something what the vast majority of Americans want to do.

CORNELL BELCHER, POLLSTER, OBAMA 2012: Look, the poll after poll show that -- the National Journal Poll had two-thirds of Americans wanting to extend the Bush tax breaks only for those under $250,000.

COOPER: But by a lot of accounts, this proposal stands virtually no chance of passing Congress. Some Democrats may even vote against it. If that's the case, if it's about politics or not, why -- I mean, why push it now?

BELCHER: Well, I think it does set up a nice contrast. Look, I'm not going to sit here in Washington as a political consultant and say that, you know, politics doesn't play into what happens here in Washington. But it does set up a nice contrast. I mean, the contrast, you know, Obama sort of fighting for the 98 percent of Americans who would benefit from this tax cut. And the pivot is, you know, why do Republicans continue to sort of hold the 98 percent, hold the middle class hostage, to the wealthiest 1 or 2 percent?

Particularly when, again, two-thirds of Americans want this extended only for those making under $250,000 a year.

COOPER: Well, Bay, what about it? I mean, Cornell just said it. You look at these polls. Most Americans do support letting tax cuts expire on the wealthiest Americans. Why not make that deal as a Republican? BAY BUCHANAN, SENIOR ADVISER, MITT ROMNEY 2012: The key is, it is increasing taxes on a million, about a million small businesses. That's the engine that drives the economy. That's who creates jobs in this country, is small businesses.

The president himself said a little over a year ago that -- or this was even a little bit further back than then. He made it very clear that you never raise taxes on businesses in a recession. Because it's harmful to the economy.

COOPER: Bay, over the weekend, Democrats turned up the volume of their attacks on Romney's tenure at Bain Capital."The Washington Post," as you know, reporter he was a major outsourcer of jobs when he was running it. FactCheck.org said recently it found no evidence that that was not true. Today it's being reported that in light of that the Romney campaign is saying surrogates like yourself would stop shying away from the word -- using the word "lie" in responding to attacks, time to go on TV to call Obama a liar.

Are you, in fact, prepared to call the president a liar?

BUCHANAN: I find it an outrage, just an absolutely outrage that you have a president of the United States who's been there 3 1/2 years, 8 percent, over 8 percent, unemployment, for 41 straight months. And what's he doing? What's he running on? Is he's trying to destroy the reputation of a good and decent American who just happens to have a different plan for America than he does. That's all. And so his attack on Bain is unjust.

COOPER: But aren't both sides doing that to each other? I mean, isn't that what politics has become?

BUCHANAN: Well, you know, no, if you look -- we have -- if you had noted, the Romney campaign, we're focused on the economy, on this man's record, on decisions he's made about policy, regulatory, fiscal. Whatever it be. We take him on his positions and on his record. We he call him out on it. What's he calling us? He's making stuff up, Anderson. He's sending out innuendoes and kind of suggestions that there's something wrong with the -- with Romney's reputation.

His reputation is stellar. And so is Bain. Bain is the most respected private equity firm in the country.

BELCHER: I don't think those factory workers who lost their job think that Bain's reputation is stellar. Look, the fact of the matter is, you know, Bain did come in. They have leveraged companies. They have cut jobs. They have cut benefits. And they have walked away -- even with those companies, you know, going bankrupt, they have walked away with a lot money.

COOPER: What about the outsourcing report? FactCheck.org says it's basically false.

BELCHER: Well, look, I think when you look at sort of some of the companies that he invested in were at the very vanguard of outsourcing. Now that's a fact. I mean, so we can't remove that from the fact. And again, we shouldn't be surprised that, quite frankly, Mitt Romney's, some of the companies that he was involved with at vanguard of outsourcing. This is a guy who, by the way, he's got all these accounts overseas. This is a guy who's got Swiss bank accounts, this is a guy who's got companies in Bermuda.

BUCHANAN: No. You know...

BELCHER: You know, the outsourcing thing shouldn't be a surprise to any of us.

BUCHANAN: You know it just goes to show, Anderson, the lack of understanding of the business world by Cornell and by the president and his friends. There are no foreign accounts. What he has is foreign investments. Just as if you owned some stock in Toyota, you would be -- have a foreign investment. These are not accounts. And the governor has paid every dime. As if these investments were U.S. investments. He's paid every single dime. So -- and he doesn't have a Swiss account. That's been closed for years.

So, you know, let's get to the truth of the matter. Mitt Romney has invested wisely. He was a terrific businessman. He's done well. And he has paid every bit of his taxes. There is a man who's living by the law. That is it. And you should not ever suggest otherwise.

COOPER: All right, we got to leave there. Cornell Belcher, appreciate it. Bay Buchanan, thank you very much.

BELCHER: Thank you.

BUCHANAN: Sure.

COOPER: Well, some of what Bay and Cornell were debating out of Mitt Romney's personal finances led us out of fairness to reach out to the Romney campaign and get their take on the controversy. Just a moment ago we got this statement -- quote -- "Governor Romney's assets are managed on a blind basis, so a trustee, not Governor Romney, makes investment decisions."

The statement went on to say, "Furthermore, the trustee does not decide where funds he invests in are domiciled, the sponsors of the funds do. When the sponsor of a fund organizers overseas it's the same tax result. The difference is like if they choose to write the document in Times New Roman or Ariel. Mitt Romney has paid every dime of taxes he owes."

Well, tonight, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta reports on a desperate race right now to solve a deadly medical mystery. Dozens of kids have already died. Doctors don't know what is killing these little children. His report just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Picture this. You're in a kayak for the very first time. You've just figured out how to paddle. You turn around and see a shark's dorsal fin -- an amazing picture of a terrifying moment. What happened next and how common is it? Ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back.

"Up Close" tonight: a desperate race to figure out what is killing young children in Cambodia with the speed and efficiency of an assassin. Since April dozens of children have died from an unknown illness that ravages their bodies. And without knowing what the killer is, it's hard to save the sick or prevent new cases. The World Health Organization is on the case. And so is CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He flew to Cambodia. Tonight he reports on the latest from there.

We want to warn you that some of the images in his report are hard to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. PIETER VAN MAAREN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: By no means that the conclusion of our investigation.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An investigation into the mystery of what's killing some of Cambodia's children at a frightening pace.

VAN MAAREN: The majority of these cases, and mostly under the age of 3, were seriously ill and many of them had died within 24 hours of admission.

GUPTA (on camera): I mean, that's -- I mean, that's pretty frightening I think for people to hear.

VAN MAAREN: Absolutely.

GUPTA: I mean, there's a lot of diseases in this part of the world. Many parts of the world. But to kill that quickly.

(voice-over): The backdrop is important here. Kantha Bopha Hospital treats thousands of children suffering from dengue fever, malaria and tuberculosis. Every week. And remember this is a part of a rural, where bird flu and SARS originated. Still, right away, Dr. Beat Richner knew this was different.

DR. BEAT RICHNER, KANTHA BOPHA CHILDREN'S HOSPITALS: It's a new picture for us. We never seen this in Cambodia before.

GUPTA: He is the head of the hospital. And he allowed us into the ICU where the patients are treated.

(on camera): To give you an idea of how busy this is, even as we were talking, there's another child in shock. That's the emergency right now.

(voice-over): After Richner says 66 children came to this hospital with the mystery illness. For 64 of them, it was 24 hours of hell before they died. You heard right. All but two died.

(on camera): And many of these children, it started off rather mild. A mild fever. But then things progressed quickly from there.

For example, in Rathanan's (ph) case, who's 2 years old, we don't know what's causing his encephalitis but this is typically what happens. The fontanel over here starts to bulge. And the eyes, as you can see over here, it become disconjugate as well. From there it just becomes merciless. It's goes from the head to the brain to the lungs.

RICHNER: You see this lungs, 8: 42, and five hours later, you see the lungs.

GUPTA (voice-over): In the last few hours of life, this unknown illness completely destroyed the child's lungs. And there was no way to stop it.

(on camera): You've never seen anything like this before.

RICHNER: No, this is the first time at the end of April. And this make us worry.

GUPTA (voice-over): Something called Enterovirus 71 typically associated with hand, foot and mouth disease, was found in more than a dozen patients. But that's only adding to the mystery.

(on camera): Would the Enterovirus lead to this?

RICHNER: Never, never, never, never. Never.

GUPTA: So it has to be something else?

RICHNER: I think so. That we cannot prove. But we must look for.

GUPTA (voice-over): And that's where the investigation goes next. Cambodian health officials and the WHO say they're now looking into whether expired medication, the wrong medication or inappropriate medication such as steroids could be to blame.

(on camera): And steroids can also make a relatively harmless infection suddenly much more severe.

VAN MAAREN: Yes, that is a -- that is definitely a possibility.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay joins us now live.

So, Sanjay, the next batch of tests that they're doing is to see if certain drugs may have caused this. How hard is that to figure out?

GUPTA: It's pretty challenging, Anderson. First of all, even in all these patients, 66 of them, they don't even have samples or access to samples on many of them. What you just heard about with regard to the Enterovirus was based on 24 patients. So what they typically do in a situation like this, is start looking at the history of the patient. What medications did they receive? Is there something in common between all these patients and trying to piece it together that way. It's really, you know, a true investigation, true medical investigation, Anderson.

COOPER: And do we know if this is contagious? I mean, how worried should people in Cambodia be or people traveling to Cambodia be?

GUPTA: Well, you know, this is another piece of the puzzle in a way, Anderson, because Enterovirus 71, which you just learned about there, typically is contagious. This is a virus that you've seen in many parts of the world. And if a child has it, for example, in their household, you'd expect another child in that same household or a sibling to get it or certainly in the community. That's called clustering.

But they haven't seen that here, Anderson. And that's a bit of a mystery. Why wouldn't you see that sort of transmissibility? So in a way it's good news that it's not contagious the way that we'd expect but it also leads to more questions, Anderson.

COOPER: That's foot and mouth disease, the number you were talking about. There are a lot of diseases there in Cambodia. So how do they figure out what this is compared to others?

GUPTA: Yes, it's a great point. Because, you know, you just saw that hospital there, Kantha Bopha Hospital. Just to give you a little bit of context there were over 4,000 children seen in that hospital last week. And so we're talking about 66 patients in particular, over three months, with this unknown mysterious illness. So it can be hard to parse out.

The way it often works in medicine is that you exclude things first. Common things being common. You'd exclude them first. But you also look at things like H5N1, Avian flu, SARS, for example, dengue, which is endemic at this time of year, the monsoon season behind me. You look at those things and try to rule them out. And then oftentimes, you're left with no particular answer. And that's -- that's precisely how this unknown illness started to emerge, Anderson.

COOPER: It's got to be so terrifying for parents there whose child gets sick and not, you know, knowing right away what it is, and having to line up outside that hospital and try to get medical attention.

Sanjay, I'm glad you're there. Appreciate your report. Thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Want to check -- we want to check this out now, a frightening photo of a great white shark trailing a kayaker off Cape Cod this weekend.

This has gotten a lot of attention. You may have seen this picture throughout the day. We're going to tell you how the kayaker got away and talk to a shark expert about what you should do if you come face-to-face with a deadly predator like this, and really who has more to fear, sharks from humans or humans from sharks? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes calling quits and reaching a divorce settlement. A former member of the Church of Scientology talks about her own divorce within the church, and what it did to her family, and how difficult it is to leave the church when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: On opposite coasts of the U.S., two kayakers had the same terrifying experience this past weekend, a brush with a Great White Shark.

The shark off the coast of Santa Cruz, California, took a bite out of a kayak, but the kayaker luckily got away and wasn't hurt. The other close call off Cape Cod was actually caught on camera. You can see the Great White's dorsal fin just several feet behind the kayaker. Imagine seeing that behind you.

The shark was estimated to be between 12 and 14 feet long. Other people in the water and on the beach were screaming at him just like in the movie "Jaws," basically saying, "Look behind you." It was his first time kayaking. Here's Brian Todd with how the real-life scare played out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was Walter Szulc's first time kayaking. Take a look at the size of the dorsal fin lurking just a few feet behind him. He says he didn't hear people screaming at him from the shore but made it back to the beach safely.

WALTER SZULC, OUT-PADDLED SHARK: I just figured, this is it. This is it, or I'm going to make it. I don't know. I mean, but it was out of my hands.

TODD: That close call on Saturday led authorities to close Nauset Beach on Cape Cod.

On Sunday, the group Cape Cod Shark Hunters spotted three Great Whites in the area near Nauset Beach and Chatham. The largest, they say, estimated at about 18 feet. Watch from the air as they use a fast-moving boat to try to catch up to Great Whites and tag them on Monday, along with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

GREG SKOMAL, MASSACHUSETTS DIVISION OF MARINE FISHERIES: We have a tagger place the tag at the base of the dorsal fin using a harpoon method. So it's a very effective method for tagging these fish, and it doesn't necessarily handle them or stress them to any great degree.

TODD: Then they monitor the migration patterns of these apex predators with other devices.

We were with John Chisholm of the Marine Fisheries group when he deployed them.

(on camera) These may look like harpoons. But, actually, they're listening stations. These are buoys that have acoustic receivers in them to receive the transmissions from tagged sharks.

John says there are a lot of Great Whites in this area that have not been tagged.

(voice-over) Among the 20-odd Great Whites they have tagged here, Chisholm says they've tracked some as far away as Florida. It's not much of a mystery what draws them back to Cape Cod.

SKOMAL: As we've allowed seal populations to rebound over the course of the last four decades, I believe that they've now hit threshold levels that are drawing these sharks close to shore and, in essence, they've become a viable food resource for them.

TODD: Rick Skomal says they're observing more Great Whites each year off Cape Cod, but as menacing as they seem, Great White sharks have had to be placed on the protected species list. I asked Andy DeHart, an expert at the National Aquarium, about the recent encounters.

(on camera) What can experts do to keep humans and sharks apart from each other?

ANDY DEHART, NATIONAL AQUARIUM: Well, what they're doing up in Massachusetts right now is a great strategy. A lot of folks are kind of pointing to, well, maybe we need nets at the beaches. That's a strategy that's been used in Australia.

And what scientists have found is that those nets are actually doing a lot of environmental damage. They're killing sea turtles; they're killing whales.

TODD: DeHart says the strategy in Massachusetts of monitoring the sharks and pulling people out of the water when the sharks get too close is what should be done everywhere.

He says there's no question which of the two species is the dominant killer. DeHart says 73 million sharks are killed by humans every year. That's compared to six fatalities among humans from shark bites every year.

Brian Todd, CNN, Chatham, Massachusetts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: There's a lot of hype and hysteria over this. I want to put this in perspective. We're joined by George Burgess on the phone. He's director of the Florida program for shark research and oversees the International Shark Attack File.

George, thanks for being with us. So a Great White spotting off Cape Cod, how unusual is that?

GEORGE BURGESS, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA PROGRAM FOR SHARK RESEARCH (via phone): Actually, not uncommon these days. Recent years, this has been fairly predictable in July and August.

COOPER: There's obviously a huge amount of fear and hysteria about Great Whites. I used to be incredibly scared of them. I've gone diving with them now, scuba diving off the coast of Capetown, and I've seen them up close underwater. It's important to point out humans are not on their food chain, right?

BURGESS: No, of course we're not a normal part of the marine environment. We're not evolutionarily made to be out there. So as such, we're not a normal part of their food chain.

COOPER: And given the huge numbers of people who swim all around the world each year, the number of shark attacks and shark fatalities of humans is actually pretty low?

BURGESS: Yes. In recent years, we've been averaging about five deaths per year worldwide. And as was indicated in the earlier part of the piece, we're killing between 40 and 70 million or so sharks a year. So it's pretty obvious which one's the aggressor in the relationship.

COOPER: And my understanding is that a lot of these shark attacks on humans are basically more out of curiosity of the sharks. And unfortunately, the way that sharks express curiosity is by biting.

But it's not as if they are devouring people whole. It's just that sometimes the bites cause, you know, blood loss, and people can't get to the hospital in time?

BURGESS: Sure. The white shark in particular is a pretty inquisitive species. It's very much attracted to any floating object. Hence its interest in grabbing kayaks and things like that. But as you properly indicated, of course, seeing as they do have large teeth, the injuries, whether intentional or not, can be quite severe.

COOPER: So if somebody is in the water and they see a Great White, another kind of shark what should they do?

BURGESS: Well, the obvious answer is get out of the water. And that's a no brainer. But a lot of people think that they're swimming with, you know, with puppy dogs or something like that. So we need to remember they are wild animals and so we need to be smart about it.

That said, if the shark is really making a move on you, really trying to attack you, it makes sense to be aggressive. Don't be passive about it. Try to bop it on its nose, which is a sensitive area. Which might give you a little bit of time as it veers off to get out of the water. COOPER: And in terms of why they're so close to shore, I mean, do you believe it is the seal populations, the growth of seal populations that has brought them in?

BURGESS: Oh, no doubt about it. Seals, and on the West Coast, sea lions are very, very, very popular foods for white sharks. They love them to death. And so the increase in seals and sea lion populations as a result of Endangered Species Act has allowed us -- has allowed those populations to return to semi-normal stages. And of course with them, the white sharks are returning probably in abundance the same way.

COOPER: You found most shark attacks are likely to occur on a Sunday in less than six feet of water during a new moon. Why is that?

BURGESS: That's human demographics. Most shark attacks, of course, are a direct result of the human activity. And if you look at the number of shark attacks that have occurred anywhere in the world, we can tie it very positively to increase in human abundance. So those are just artifacts of human activity. That's where you're most likely to find people in the water.

COOPER: And obviously, if they're drawn in by seals, another recommendation would be don't be swimming in areas where there's seals.

BURGESS: Again, a no-brainer, common-sense kind of thing. Avoid those areas where the white shark's food is going to be most common, and you're less likely to be taken in a mistaken grab.

COOPER: George Burgess, I appreciate your expertise. Thank you very much.

BURGESS: Good to be with you, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes are officially divorced. Going to hear from a former Scientologist who got a divorce while in the church about what can happen to families when a couple splits for good.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Less than two weeks after Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, their split is final, and their five-and-a-half year marriage is over. A lawyer for Holmes said the divorce was settled amicably. The agreement is confidential, but Cruise and Holmes released a joint statement saying they're committed to working together in the best interests of their 6-year-old daughter, Suri.

Now, what that statement does not reveal is who gets custody of her. In her June 28 divorce filing, Holmes sought sole custody.

Now, it's unknown if Holmes ever had joined the church. Or if Scientology was even a factor in the divorce, though many reported it was. One woman you're about to hear from says that when a Scientologist divorces, families can be torn apart if one member of the family leaves the church.

Astra Woodcraft told her story to the Daily Beast. I spoke to her a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So Astra, when it comes to divorce, I had read about the difficulty or the process of divorce in the Church of Scientology. How does that actually work?

ASTRA WOODCRAFT, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: Well, when I was in the Church of Scientology, I was in what's called the Sea Organization, which is their military-like organization that runs all the day-to-day operations.

I left when I was 19, and I was actually pregnant with my daughter. And my husband wanted to remain in the Sea Org, so we were ordered to get a divorce. I was told that if I wanted to leave, that I was to file for divorce, because they wanted to keep him in the Sea Org. And you can't really have people who are in the Sea Org married to people who are not in the Sea Org so...

COOPER: There's a term that -- in the church that they use called -- they label some people as a suppressive person, an SP?

WOODCRAFT: Yes.

COOPER: What does that mean?

WOODCRAFT: Well, anyone who speaks out publicly in a negative way about Scientology would be labeled a suppressive person. And they also label people that for various other reasons. But that would be one of the main reasons. Or if you're just known to be critical of Scientology, they would label you a suppressive person, in which case, any family members, friends, or spouse that you have who's a Scientologist would be told to disconnect from you, not have anything...

COOPER: When you left the church, your mom was still in the church. So you didn't have contact with her for a long period of time.

WOODCRAFT: My mom, my grandma, my brother are all still in the church, and I haven't had contact with them in years. In fact, I haven't -- I've seen my mom once in about 12 years.

COOPER: I mean, that's got to be so difficult. That's because you're considered a suppressive person?

WOODCRAFT: Yes, it's because of that. I knew it would happen the first time I spoke out publicly about my experiences growing up in the Sea Org and about some of the abuses that went on. I knew it was going to happen, because that's what happened to anyone who did something like that. So I expected it.

But, you know, it's sad, and it's sad, I think for my mom, that she's been forced to not have anything to do with her daughters and with her granddaughter.

COOPER: You got married when you were 15. Was it common in the Sea Organization to get married that young?

WOODCRAFT: It was very common, yes. Girls would go to Las Vegas all the time to get married, because in California you couldn't get married under the age of 16.

COOPER: When you were 19, you got pregnant. And I know you say you actually got pregnant in an attempt to be able to leave the Sea Organization. I don't -- how did that work?

WOODCRAFT: It's a little -- it sounds a little confusing. But they came out with a rule about a year before I left. They said if you're in the Sea Org, you can't have children. Women who got pregnant were put under a lot of pressure to have abortions. They decided that children were a distraction, that they didn't want to have to financially support them. So they said that's it, no more children. So you were expected to have an abortion if you got pregnant. The few women who refused would be thrown out.

So I was -- I wanted to leave very badly. I was desperate to leave, but I was afraid to, because if I left, I would be disconnected from all my family. And like I said, my mother, my brother, my grandma, my sister, everyone was still in the church.

So I got pregnant and refused to have an abortion. And after about a month of pressure and interrogation, they finally let me leave.

COOPER: We reached out to the church for comment about some of your experiences. They didn't respond. In a piece that "Glamour" magazine did about you, the church did respond, saying that they were not -- you were not a reliable source, that your allegations were untrue, that you were happy in the church and are now, quote, "being used by someone who doesn't like the church."

How do you respond to that?

WOODCRAFT: Well, it's just not true. I mean, I only spoke out about my experiences to educate people and because the whole point in Scientology is they suppress the freedom of speech. They don't let you talk about anything.

I kind of felt for my own well-being, my own form of therapy, that it was important to talk about what happened. I mean, they can say I'm not a reliable source, but I worked there for five years and I knew exactly what went on. And I also have a lot of documentation.

So I think it's a bit of a weak response for them, because they don't really know how to respond to what I've said because it's true. And I'm not saying it for any other reason than it's what happened. And I don't really want it to happen to other children.

COOPER: Astra Woodcraft, appreciate you being on. Thank you.

WOODCRAFT: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Astra left the church 14 years ago. As we mentioned, we asked the Church of Scientology to respond to her allegations. At the time I did that interview, about an hour or two ago, they had not responded directly to Aster's allegations.

Late tonight, we got a statement which reads in part, quote, "The Church regrets that excommunicated self-serving apostates are sadly exploiting private family matters to further their hate-filled agendas against their former faith. Having left the church many years ago, these sources have no current knowledge about their church and their recollections are distorted by their animosity." We're following several other stories tonight. Isha Sesay is hear with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: Anderson, NATO's command in Afghanistan has offered to help in the manhunt for Taliban members who publicly executed a woman accused of adultery. It was caught on videotape, and President Karzai has ordered the arrests of those responsible. Officials say two Taliban commanders fought over the woman and murdered her to save face.

Five men have been indicted in the shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010. That incident led to the discovery of the government's failed operation known as Fast and Furious."

The Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal has not hurt Penn State financially. The university reports that in the latest fiscal year, alumni and supporters donated nearly $209 million, the second highest annual amount in school history.

And pandemonium inside a Florida courthouse. A brawl broke out of a "stand your ground" case in Osceola County. Emotions were high, as families of the victims and the defendant squared off. Officials said one brawler suffered a possible broken jaw. Those involved in the fight were arrested -- Anderson.

COOPER: Time for "The Shot." A Chinese aerialist, blindfolded, walking backwards, loses his footing. Keep in mind, he's 650 feet in the air. Somewhere in the middle of a 2,200 foot stretch of tightrope. Can you imagine this?

Watch this. Takes him a bit of time to find his balance, get back on his feet, which amazingly he does. There's also a camera strapped to his chest pointing at his feet. Backward he walks. This is the camera pointing at his feet. As he's walking backward. Not giving up. But he falls. Let's look at that again in slow motion. He later is -- unbelievable.

SESAY: There he goes.

COOPER: Now, he later fell, he said, because of the wind and from feeling faint before the walking. We should point out he only suffered minor injuries, thankfully.

SESAY: Thankfully.

COOPER: It could have been a whole lot worse.

SESAY: I'm going to -- I'm going to channel my mother now. She would say this is what happens when people have too much time on their hands.

COOPER: Well, it's -- I don't know.

SESAY: I'm just saying.

COOPER: You're just saying.

SESAY: I'm just quoting my mama.

COOPER: All right. A wise woman.

Proof tonight everyone wants a piece of the limelight, a cat crashes a reporter's live shot and lands on "The RidicuList."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time for "The RidicuList." And tonight, we're adding attention-seeking cats. You heard me, all you cats who love the spotlight.

So here's what happened. I'm sure you've seen the video. A reporter in Michigan was doing what we in the TV biz call a live tease. That's right, we have our own lingo. You can ask Wolf Blitzer about it. Anyway, everything was going fine until an unexpected visitor showed up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLE DIDONATO, REPORTER: In a very appropriate fashion later today, I'm Nicole DiDonato, live in Eastown. And those details coming up. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my goodness. That's a way to start a Thursday, Nicole.

Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard that cat in the background.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were doing a mike check with Nicole for her live shot and we heard that "rowr, rowr." And we're like, what's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hope she's OK. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: First of all, I think the reporter deserves a lot of credit for not freaking out.

Also, I love how her colleagues are just laughing it up. If that was CNN, we would have already dispatched Gary Tuchman to interview both the cat and the cat's neighbors.

I will say, though, the cat was kind of adorable. Let's see this again. See, right there, there's your winning anchor team. A lady with a cat on her shoulder. Time to add another hour to "The Today Show." Call up Hoda and Kathie Lee.

The cat actually showed up while the reporter was finishing her story, but as strange as it was, it doesn't compare to what happened a few years ago in Ohio. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the couple is accused of throwing two cats like this one here out of their car and killing them. Now, as part of their -- this little guy's having fun. But now as part of their sentence, the couple is going to have...

(CAT MEOWING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ooh!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, before you get upset and tweet me, I should point out, the reporter said she was fine. She even went on the air the next night to say she thought it was kind of funny.

But here's the thing, this attention seeking, it's not limited to cats that honk in on live shots or maul reporters. Remember Sal Esposito? How could you forget Sal Esposito, that rascal? Sal liked the spotlight so much he weaseled his way into jury duty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I read the whole thing. And I thought, how could he -- how could he go? He's a cat."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, "Sal, what, what's this?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: "I said, 'Sal, what is this?'"

It's not just Sal Esposito. It's not even the cats who want to be local TV stars. Some cats have their sights set on the big time. Remember this guy, the cat who looks like me? Damn, as much as I want to hate him, that cat is just too good looking. Wait. I'm being told something in my ear. The monkey who looks like Larry King wants some face time. See, cats, look what you've started. Now everyone wants to be a star. We'll use any excuse to show that monkey shot. Can we see it again? Do we have it again? I love it.

As for the cat in Michigan, the reporter whose live shot he interrupted tweeted that she thinks his owner might have come forward. If not, don't worry, cat. You'll always have a home and nine lives of fame on "The RidicuList."

OK. That's it for us, thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.