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More Than a Dozen Injured in Chicago Railroad Accident; Interview With Reverend Jerry Falwell; Iraq War Making Terrorism Harder to Fight?

Aired November 23, 2005 - 22:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everybody. Anderson is off tonight. I'm Heidi Collins.
And consider yourself lucky you're not on the road tonight.


ANNOUNCER: Snow, rain and fire plague holiday travelers across the country. More weather woes on the way -- what you need to know to travel this Thanksgiving.

How are you cooking your turkey tomorrow? Find out why one of the most popular ways is considered a serious fire hazard. Tonight, are you at risk? What you need to know to keep your family safe.

Plus, a happy ending to a horrific story -- owners forced to abandon these dogs by authorities after Katrina and return to find them shot -- how one hearty pooch escaped hurricane destruction and a hail of bullets.


ANNOUNCER: This is ANDERSON COOPER 360, live from the CNN studios in New York.

COLLINS: The latest on the commuter train crash near Chicago in just a moment.

But, first, here are some of the other headlines at this moment. From the Pentagon, a proposal to downsize the troops in Iraq. Today, defense officials confirmed a plan that would reduce the U.S. presence from 155,000 to roughly 130,000 after the Iraqi elections on December 15. And the number could dip to 100,000 by next summer.

In Baghdad today, word the trial of Saddam Hussein will resume this Monday -- the toppled dictator's lawyers threatened to boycott the hearing because of security concerns. But their protest ended today after they made a deal. Hussein and seven co-defendants are accused of killing 148 men and boys in 1982.

In New York, Verizon wants to cut the service of an alleged spammer. The phone company says a Florida firm sent thousands of unwanted text messages to its mobile phone customers. Verizon is asking a judge for an injunction banning the company from sending unwanted solicitations. And, here in New York, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade officials are watching wind speeds. The balloons won't fly if steady winds reach 23 miles per hour or gusts topping 34 miles an hour. And that forecast calls for speeds coming close to those numbers.

Well, food and fun in the hour ahead, but we begin tonight with the dark side of a holiday that put so many people on the road, where quite a few get into trouble. There will be hundreds of accidents this weekend.

The one tonight along the railroad tracks in a suburb -- suburb east of Chicago has left more than a dozen people injured, three seriously.

CNN's Sean Callebs has been following the story. He's just arrived at the scene now to tell us more from Elmwood Park -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, if you can just look over my shoulder, you can just see some of the cars simply devastated by this commuter train that came roaring through this suburban neighborhood about 55 miles an hour.

Now, that is a normal speed for this commuter train at this time of the day. But what is really amazing, what is hard to really fathom, if you look at the tracks, the train shares the same real estate with the road. This is also Grand Avenue. So, what happened around 4:30 local time, there was a traffic jam, height of rush hour. Cars were trapped on this road.

And, apparently, the gate then came down. But, at that time, there was nowhere for the traffic to go. So, the train actually came -- coming from the west. If you look down this area, this way, you can see the train came roaring through here, about 55 miles per hour, simply plowing in to five cars, then sending those careening into other cars, some exploding in flames -- as you mentioned, 13 people hurt, three critically. It is amazing more people weren't hurt.

But what's more amazing is to talk to the local residents. They say they are simply stunned that this doesn't happen more often. They say they have complained about the danger, the fact that this is the road and, also, the railway, the -- the tracks as well.

Now, a -- a spokesman for the commuter service did come out earlier, because there was some confusion: Did the gate go down? Was it up? This is what she had to say about it.


JUDY PARDONNET, METRA SPOKESWOMAN: When the train went through, it appeared the signals were working properly. That is still something that is going to have to be investigated.

Now, some people reported the gates being up after they arrived at the incident. And the reason for that is, the train had already cleared the area after it struck the vehicles. And the sensor would have allowed the gate to resume back into the up position, despite the fact that, obviously, there was a lot going on.


CALLEBS: And, if you talk to eyewitnesses, those cars simply didn't have a chance.

The train was coming through at the speed that it normally does. It is an express train, so it didn't stop here in this section, just about 15 miles to the west of the city.

Now, a number of people we have talked to, including a school bus driver, say they have complained this and other intersections sim -- that are like this as well. But they say this is something that had been -- has been set up years and years ago. And drivers tell us that they're simply terrified coming through this intersection at times.

Now, Heidi, put yourself in this position, this, the busiest travel day of the year. You're going through, 4:30, simply stopped on the tracks, and then the train coming virtually out of nowhere, racing through here, simply a horrific, horrific start to the holiday weekend for people here in this suburb of Chicago.

COLLINS: Sean, it -- it is a little bit different to see the proximity of the road and the train tracks from where we are, you know, in the studio. We are getting those live pictures from you, of course.

But tell me what you thought when you first came upon the scene. I mean, have you ever seen anything like this before?

CALLEBS: No. I -- I -- I was asking people, where's the road and where are the railroad tracks? I asked these three officers down here. And they said, we can't answer any questions? You can't tell me where the road is? No, we can't answer any questions.

Well, simply put, this is the road. The road and the tracks share the same real estate for about 75 to 100 feet. So, while it looks simply like the railroad tracks, this is also Grand Avenue as well. So, I hope that explains it. It is simply hard to fathom, even sitting looking at it for an hour.

And a lot of residents say they have worried about this for a long time. And their worst fears came true several hours ago.

COLLINS: Obviously, a lot more questions to be answered on this one.

Sean Callebs, thanks so much. We will check back with you, should anything change.

Sadly, though, these won't be the last such pictures. The National Safety Council estimates, more than 600 people -- excuse me -- will lose their lives during the long weekend ahead. The culprits include booze, unfamiliar roads, traffic, and the weather.

And for the latest on traffic and weather, we turn now to CNN's Rob Marciano in the Weather Center in Atlanta.

How do things look out there now?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The Northeast the problem spot again, Heidi, tonight -- where you see these clouds racing to the east, that's where the areas are -- of concern are tonight, mostly in the form of rain and snow.

It's a quick mover, though. And that's the good news with this system. We have seen some rain and snow mixed across parts of Virginia, in through Richmond is where it turns over to snow, in through Washington, D.C., has been snowing on and off for the past several hours. Outside the beltway in some of the suburbs to the west, we have seen a couple of areas -- inches of snow on the grassy surfaces, and a pretty good pulse coming through right now.

But, you can see, behind this is where we start to see the snows taper off, so, no major snowstorm expected for the Washington, D.C., area. But you go through Pittsburgh, up Highway 70 and 76, up through Youngstown, Ohio, and through Cleveland, Ohio, snows feeling again tonight. And this isn't even lake-effect snow.

Tomorrow, when the real cold air comes in and the winds go off the lakes, off Erie, off Ontario, off Michigan, that's when the lake- effect snows will kick in.

Started to do that across the upper part of the lower hand of Michigan. Chicago to, say, Grand Rapids tomorrow could -- could be some problems, if you're driving in that general area. That's because real cold winds come across those Great Lakes. And that's where we are going to see some problems. West of the Mississippi is where the problems will be less, and you will see more in the way of sunshine.

As far as the problem interstates are concerned, 94 and 90, Albany to Buffalo, Cleveland to Chicago, is where we will see on-and- off lake-effect snow bands, at times, whiteout conditions, Indiana to New Jersey, western New Jersey, could see some snow in spots -- and Boston to Maine, maybe some wet snow, Heidi, just to top off some of the holiday travel tomorrow.

A lot of people traveling by car -- and take it easy, if it does start to snow where you're driving. It gets slick real quick.

COLLINS: Yes. Boy, no kidding.

All right, Rob Marciano, Thank you.

MARCIANO: You bet.

COLLINS: And now, just in time for the holiday season, two words: Merry Christmas. The Reverend Jerry Falwell says you won't be hearing them at Target stores, just happy holidays. Target, though, says otherwise. There's no such company policy, according to a spokeswoman.

In any case, Reverend Falwell and others are calling for a boycott. It's part of a campaign called Christmas: Friend or Foe? and reflects a larger concern that Christianity itself is under fire in this overwhelmingly religious and overwhelmingly Christian country.


RABBI ABRAHAM FOXMAN, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: This is a make-believe war. Nobody's at war with Christmas. Nobody's at war with Christianity. This country is -- is the most free, the most open, the most respectful.


COLLINS: Rabbi Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League.

Now Reverend Falwell. We spoke earlier tonight.


COLLINS: Reverend Falwell, tell me exactly what this friend-or- foe Christmas campaign is all about, just for people who may not have heard of it yet.

JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Well, Heidi, Jerry Falwell Ministries and Liberty University have joined forces with the Liberty Council, a group of 700 constitutional attorneys nationwide, to guarantee to Americans, young and old, everywhere that, this Christmas, the Grinches will not steal Christmas.

There's a concerted effort, particularly in the schools and the public square, to dismiss Christmas, eliminate the word Christmas itself, to, in schools, disallow the singing of Christmas carols, like "Joy to the World" or "Silent Night."

The idea is that the courts have never intended that free expression regarding one's religious beliefs be denied. And -- and we're not saying there should not be an acknowledgment of Kwanzaa or -- or the Muslim holidays, or to have menorahs and, etcetera, etcetera.

We are simply saying that the abolition of Christianity and the mention of Christ on his very birthday -- and that's what it's all about -- should not be allowed.

COLLINS: Are these private schools that you're hearing from, or are they public schools?

FALWELL: Oh, they're public schools, totally.

COLLINS: And you -- you would understand the argument, if you will, between people saying that, well, there's a separation between church and state, and these are public institutions?

FALWELL: We would say that there should be free speech for all faiths and all beliefs. And because one is a Christian, he or she should not be penalized.

And the courts have upheld that. So, a letter to educate usually goes, and that's the end of it.

COLLINS: Are there actually...

FALWELL: But whenever...

COLLINS: ... any lawsuits that have been filed, or have you had to organize boycotts?

FALWELL: Well, boycotts are the last resort, but they -- they would be forthcoming.

But the fact is, whenever we file suit, whenever it goes -- and, yes, there are lawsuits right now. And some have already been won. None of them lost. Whenever we can't educate, we litigate.

You mentioned the Grinch a little bit earlier. Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United For the Separation of Church and State says that your campaign is just -- quote -- "A Grinch-like effort to create a problem, raise money for a problem that really does not exist."

FALWELL: He wants to drive God from the public square. We don't agree with him. We respect him. We don't agree with him.

And -- and we think we have let it go too far, really. The ADF, the Alliance Defense Fund, has joined the effort on their own as well, with another 750 attorneys. So, there are about 1,500 attorneys now, constitutional attorneys, involved in this Friend or Foe effort.

And I really will believe that, by the time Christmas is over, this problem will be solved in America.

COLLINS: Why now? Why this Christmas? Is there something different about this year?

FALWELL: It has progressively gotten worse year after year over the last 10 years.

This year, with great boldness, organizations like Target, department stores, decided no mention of Christmas, no mention of Christ, no religious inferences, whatever. Even Wal-Mart was accused of -- of doing that. They have to their credit, of course, backed up on that. but Target has not.

And all the schools suddenly began getting letters from ACLU, from Americans United, warning them, on false basis, on no legal grounds, that they, in the schools, could not allow Christmas to be observed. The answer is, that's wrong, as long as all others are respected and the secular holiday is likewise allowed to be practiced.

COLLINS: Reverend Jerry Falwell, thanks for your time.

FALWELL: Thank you.


COLLINS: 360 next, the bitter debate over an exit strategy in Iraq; 6,000 miles from Washington, what do American troops have to say?

And could Thanksgiving dinner be your last supper? Not if we can help it. We will tell you about a popular and dangerous way of cooking turkeys and how you can keep your family safe.

Plus, a man and his dog separated by Katrina, they could have lost each other forever, but sheer luck brought them together again.


COLLINS: Tomorrow, American troops in Iraq will mark another Thanksgiving 6,000 miles from home. For some, it will be their third Thanksgiving in Iraq. What's different this year? Growing pressure to begin bringing troops home for good.

The debate reached a boiling point in Congress last week. And now the White House seems to be trying to cool things down. For the troops on the ground, the debate in Washington is unfolding a world away, but it's also as close as the nearest insurgent or IED.

Here's CNN's Aneesh Raman.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The best days in Iraq are the slow ones, when there's no engagement with the enemy, when there's a chance to get some downtime, killing time, killing flies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not even flying.

RAMAN: And, for us, it's a chance to talk to soldiers about the war raging here and the debate about it raging back home.

CORPORAL JAMES PARSLEY, U.S. ARMY: Whatever they're fighting for over there, this is our fight. You know, we're trying our best. And pretty much soldiers, whether they want to be here or not, this is our focus.

CORPORAL CHARLES JOHNSON, U.S. ARMY: I think it's right for people to argue, in college, and, you know, regular office days, argue what we're doing over here. Hey, it might help our benefits get higher or something, you know? I don't know. They just -- they just don't understand what it's like over here, what it's like driving down a road full of VBIEDs or IEDs or something.

RAMAN: The fight in this part of Iraq, just south of the capital, remains a tough one, roadside bombs found on a near daily basis, car bombs detonated, insurgent groups operating among the civilian population. The soldiers are trained, though, to confront these dangers, but not the risks they can face back in the U.S.

JOHNSON: When I went home, you mentioned you were from Iraq and stuff, that's not the greatest thing to mention to a girl when you're at the club. It -- it doesn't work. If someone asks me what I do, I'm like, I'm in the Army infantry in Iraq, you know? But it's something I try to avoid from saying, just because it starts a whole conflict.

RAMAN (on camera): When you're out on patrols like this and you talk to soldiers about the fight here, it's less about the war on terror or building a democracy in Iraq. It's much more about getting home.

(voice-over): Over the past nine months, this squadron has lost 18 men. They know that number may rise every time they go out.

JOHNSON: You don't know when you're going to get shot at. It's very unexpected. Firefights come from across canals, across open city areas and stuff, where you can't get to.

RAMAN: But, on slow days, it's rarely politics and strategy that pass the time. Sometimes, the conversation turns the worst of Army rations.

JOHNSON: Oh, I don't like the chicken breasts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love the jambalaya, because I'm from Texas.

RAMAN: While, in Washington, the arguments rage over whether America's soldiers are risking their lives for a noble goal or a hopeless cause, the distinction means little on the front line.

PARSLEY: Most of the people out here probably wouldn't even want to say anything.

RAMAN (on camera): Why?

PARSLEY: Just -- you want to just do your job.


PARSLEY: The true story is not what happens behind a desk. It's out here every day.


RAMAN: And, Heidi, it's 6:00 a.m. Thanksgiving Day out here for U.S. troops in Iraq -- not a day off, though. They will be going out on patrols, as they do every day. For those who are on the base, there will be Thanksgiving lunch and dinner. For those who out on patrol all day, they will bring the meal to them. They say these are the days that they miss home the most -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Well, we certainly wish them all a very happy Thanksgiving.

Aneesh Raman, thank you.

Coming up, how the war in Iraq may be impacting the U.S. war on terror.

But, first, Sophia Choi from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we are following tonight.

Hi, Sophia.


Well, in the Middle East, another clash between Hezbollah and Israeli forces -- it all started on Monday when Hezbollah rockets hit an Israeli military post on the border between Lebanon and Israel. Four Hezbollah militants were killed and several Israeli soldiers wounded, while dozens of Israeli civilians ran for cover in bomb shelters.

And, then, today, this man on the left crashed his hang glider just inside Lebanon, and bullets started to fly. Officials say Israeli troops opened fire on guerrillas and opened a gate in the border fence to allow the pilot to run back into Israel. Even so, there were no reports of injuries.

In Boston, Senator John Kerry wins an election as jury foreman. The jury rejected a claim by two men who sued the city over injuries in a car crash involving a school principal. As for Kerry, fellow jurors said he is a natural leader.

In the Atlantic, with just one week left of the record-breaking hurricane season, Tropical Storm Delta is on the move. Forecasters say, right now, Delta is only a threat to ships and not to land. Delta is the 25th named storm this year.

And, in the South Atlantic, near Antarctica, a rare volcanic eruption is causing an island to grow. New satellite images show that Montagu Island in the South Sandwich Islands has expanded by 50 acres in one month.

And that's roughly the size, Heidi, of downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pretty amazing.

COLLINS: The Sandwich is getting bigger.

CHOI: Yes.


COLLINS: All right. Sophia, thank you.

360 next, now more on Iraq -- is the war there making terrorism worse around the world?

Also ahead, if you think the most dangerous think about deep- frying a turkey is the heart attack it might cause, think again. Look at that, fire hazard. We are going to tell you how to stay safe this Thanksgiving.

Plus, they lost their son, but gave six others the gift of life -- one family's generosity and the difference it made.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: The debate over withdrawing troops from Iraq is made up of many arguments on both sides, including this one: The war in Iraq has led to more terrorist attacks and actually made the war on terrorism harder to fight -- not a view that everyone agrees with, to say the least, including the White House.

Daniel Benjamin, though, is a senior fellow in the international security program at the Center For Strategic and International Studies. He's also author of "The Next Attack."

I talked with him a little bit earlier.


COLLINS: You open your book by saying that the U.S. is losing the war against terrorism. But we haven't been attacked since September 11. How are we losing it exactly?

DANIEL BENJAMIN, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM: Well, we are losing it over the long term, because the ideology is spreading. More people are attracted to the arguments of bin Laden. We see lots of people taking up arms without even having any connection to the al Qaeda organization. And, of course, there's a major jihadist struggle going on in Iraq, where lots of Americans are being killed, which is exactly what jihadists want.

COLLINS: But there are also lots of Iraqis being killed.

And I want to point out a couple of successes that I think you will agree with me that -- that exist. And that is, President Bush recently pointed out that we have captured or killed several of bin Laden's most serious deputies, the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, a mastermind of the bombings in Bali, a senior Zarqawi terrorist planning attacks in Turkey, many other senior leaders in Saudi Arabia, along with 100,000 Iraqi troops now. That's progress.

BENJAMIN: Well, we don't dispute that.

And, in fact, we think that the intelligence community, with its partners abroad, has done a terrific job, in terms of getting the individual terrorists. I don't agree with the figure about 100,000 Iraqi -- 100,000 Iraqi troops. In fact, James Fallows reports it's something like 700 that are really capable.

But the other thing is, it's really mistake to do this kind of body count counterterrorism, because, as Secretary Rumsfeld himself said, is this a case where, the harder we work, the behinder we get? Well, because we have inspired so many others to take up terror, the answer to that is yes.

COLLINS: Well, let's take your number, then, of mission-ready, if you will, Iraqi troops, 700. If there are only 700 Iraqi troops ready, and Iraqis are still dying at the hands of insurgents, who is going to protect them if the United States pulls out?

BENJAMIN: Well, first of all, it is not clear the United States is protecting them.

Something between 25,000 and over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed. We don't have anything like the manpower there to protect Iraqis. I'm not arguing for a hasty pullout, by any means, but I don't think we should be deluded about what it is we're accomplishing there.

COLLINS: I think there's been quite a bit of discussion about the Sunnis and how they're not really part of Iraq's government. What do you think about civil war and the potential for it?

BENJAMIN: Well, it is very -- it is very real and it's growing.

I mean, it has been said that we have a low-grade civil war already. We have seen a -- a kind of ethnic cleansing going on, as Sunnis leave Shia areas and -- and vice-versa. It seems to me that, if there is not better inclusion of Sunnis, if there isn't some way to ameliorate their grievances, then a civil war is inevitable. And it will be very, very ugly.

COLLINS: So, then how do we win the war against terrorism?

BENJAMIN: We need to get out of Iraq, because, until we are out of Iraq, we can't start coming up with the arguments that moderate Muslims will appreciate, because, right now, we're an argument for the bin Laden view of the world, that is, that the United States wants to occupy Muslim countries, and destroy Islam, and steal the wealth in those countries.

We have get out sooner, rather than later. We have to start putting a higher priority on the Middle East peace process, because that is a major grievance of Muslims around the world. And when they see the United States not working hard, they tend also to believe the bin Laden view.

We need to work hard to actually tamp down and wind down, to the extent possible, some of the local jihads in Chechnya, in Kashmir, in Southeast Asia. And we do really need to push a reform agenda in the Muslim world. That means democratization. Right not, we only have a rhetorical policy of democratization, and it's not working.


COLLINS: Next on 360, must-see viewing if you will be frying your turkey -- the risk of fire is very real. Find out how to avoid a tragedy.

And home for the holidays -- how this pooch, a victim of Katrina, was reunited with her owner.


ZACK PHILLIPS (ph), OWNER, KINK BIKES: I'm Zack Phillips (ph). I'm the owner of Kink Bicycles. We make and produce high end BMX parts for your ride. At the age of 12 started biking. I had a blast. The funny thing was I breaking my bike parts a lot. At the age of 16, I decided, hey this stuff stinks. Let's make some better stuff. And from there, we went to axles and pegs and now we make just about everything you need to put a whole bike together.

What the definition of BMX is, it really just means the little bikes when you had when you were 10-years-old.

I'd say about 75 percent of our parts are made right here in Rochester.

You can buy Kink parts at over 1,200 bike shops in the U.S. And then, in each country such as Canada, Australia, England, we have bike shops in all those other countries, too.

Hi, Dave. This is Zack over at Kink Bikes.

Our sales have increased every single year. We sell over $1 million worth of stuff, and we've done that over the last, like, three years. So we're growing every -- every year.

I think the best part is not having an alarm clock in the morning. I wake up and come into work and I enjoy my day. I never thought Kink would be this large. It still amazes me that we have six employees. And it is just hard to imagine that something that started out of my backpack is now paying people's mortgages and car payments. It's kind of amazing, when you think about it, but it's what we love to do, so it worked out very nice.


COLLINS: Coming up, a warning for those of you who are deep frying that Thanksgiving turkey.

But first, here are some of the other stories we're following at this moment.

New York City: a federal grand jury has found a Pakistani man guilty of charges that he tried to help sneak an al Qaeda operative into the United States. The man who faces 75 years says authorities forced a false confession out of him.

Crawford, Texas: Iraq war protesters challenged a new law that bans parking within seven miles of President Bush's ranch. A dozen were arrested for criminal trespassing. The ban is being challenged now in federal court. But maybe they wanted to have Thanksgiving with the first family.

Former President and Barbara Bush will be there, alongside the president's mother-in-law. They will enjoy a free-range turkey, green bean supreme -- what's that -- and Texas pecan pie.

And talk about fast food. A Virginia woman wolfed down an entire roast turkey in 12 minutes flat in New York. Sonya Thomas weighs 105 pounds. The bird weighed 10 pounds. So I guess she weighs 115 now. For winning the eating contest, Thomas got $2,500 in prize money and we hope a lifetime supply of antacid.

Well, while most Americans roast their turkey for Thanksgiving, a growing number of families, millions of families, in fact, are turning to the deep fryer. They say it leads to a tastier dinner. But it could also lead to an inferno.

CNN's Greg Hunter investigates.


GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At an apartment complex in Tucson, Arizona, Christmas Eve 2002 ended with this fire investigators say was caused by a turkey fryer.

K.D. PREBLE, HOMEOWNER: My dad and two sisters ran out the door. And I had to jump out my bedroom window.

HUNTER: Incidents of fires or burns have happened at least 112 times in the last seven years, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, attributed to people around the country improperly using turkey fryers.

One industry group estimates there are 10 million propane fryers in use today. People who cook with them say they work fast and the turkey is delicious. Most of the time.

Thanksgiving Day, 2003, at the Moon home in Aloha, Oregon, described by a couple of terrified neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a house on fire.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. Sarala, up 170th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The flames are 20 feet high. There's black smoke in the air. It's the whole back side. It started on the deck.

HUNTER: Dr. Stephen Moon says he had been cooking the family feast with a turkey fryer.

DR. STEPHEN MOON, HOMEOWNER: And I thought, well, you know, if something happens, I've got a fire extinguisher, that it will take care of it. And it was like spitting in the wind. It was nothing compared to this fire that was going on.

HUNTER: The fire raged on. And eventually, the fire department had to come put it out, but not before it caused more than $100,000 in damages.

Underwriters Laboratories in Northbrook, Illinois, a world recognized product testing organization, says frying a turkey can be hazardous. Spokesman John Drengenberg says that's why UL will not put its seal of approval on any turkey fryer.

JOHN DRENGENBERG, UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES: here have been safety improvements on turkey fryers, but it's still not at that point where UL will authorize the use of its mark.

HUNTER (on camera): It's not safe?

DRENGENBERG: Because we don't believe it's safe enough for people to use.

HUNTER (voice over): UL has been testing turkey fryers for the past three years. In this company video, they show how easily fires can get out of control when typical consumer mistakes are made, like dropping a partially frozen bird into a pot of overheated oil.

The industry says over the last few years they've corrected many problems. In 2002, the Canadian Standards Association, a UL consumer testing competitor, began certifying some turkey fryers as safe. "The stands are sturdier and the tanks are better marked, so consumers won't overfill."

Manufacturers have also decreased the intensity of the flame so the oil won't overheat as quickly. And fryers come with pages of explicit cautions. One booklet contains at least 15 specific warnings on the dangers of frying a turkey.

Industry group the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association suggested we talk to Don and John McLemore, who own Masterbuilt, one of the biggest makers of turkey fryers.

JOHN MCLEMORE, CO-OWNER, MASTERBUILT: If you don't drive your car attentive and like you should, automobiles can be dangerous. So, turkey frying is the same way. If you use it, follow the instructions, and do what we say in our instructions. No, it's a perfectly safe product to use.

HUNTER: Simple instructions like making sure the fryer is outside, away from all buildings, on level ground, and is watched at all times.

(on camera): The industry has warnings on their products. Isn't it the consumers' fault that they don't listen to the warnings?

DRENGENBERG: Well, the industry has added a lot of warnings to these turkey fryers. But the fact is, the construction has to be improved to the level of safety that UL would demand for such a product.

HUNTER (voice over): UL says it wants a device that will automatically limit the temperature of the oil in a gas turkey fryer, because it's not practical to expect consumers to watch a turkey fryer every minute, especially around the holidays.

The McLemore brothers point out they already make an electric fryer with a control to keep the oil at the correct temperature, but it will take time to develop one for their gas fryer that's safe. DON MCLEMORE, CO-OWNER, MASTERBUILT: It's got to be done right. It can't be just done overnight and thrown in the marketplace. That could be a worse mistake than not having one at all.

HUNTER: Until a thermostat is developed, overheating oil is Underwriters Laboratories' main concern. UL set up a demonstration for CNN.

(on camera): One thing you need to be careful of when using a turkey fryer is something called the oil flash point. That's where if you leave this unattended too long, and the oil gets too hot, it can ignite without even touching a flame.


(voice over): As you can see, even putting the lid on doesn't stop the fire. And within seconds, flames are leaping four feet over the fryer. Within two and a half minutes, the demonstration wall catches fire. This shows how quickly one of these fires can get out of control.

And when UL's firefighters take the lid off to extinguish the fire, watch what happens. They spray foam on the fire. But even in this controlled situation, it's not easy to put out.

To see how it works in the real world, we went to this house waiting demolition near Chicago. With the help of Frankfurt, Illinois, firefighters, we set up a turkey fryer with the kind of mistakes Assistant Chief Larry Rowk (ph) says he sees all the time.

(on camera): This looks like kind of a dangerous setup. It's by the back door, you've got the leaves around there, it might be a little bit above the full line. Is that how some people would treat this?


HUNTER: Not surprising?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not surprising at all.

HUNTER: Homeowners often make mistakes when using a turkey fryer. For example, this one's way too close to the house, it's too full of oil, and too hot. On top of that, we're going to put a semi- frozen bird right into the fryer to show you what can happen.

It started.

(voice over): We had firefighters standing by to make sure this didn't get out of control. Because as Dr. Stephen Moon will tell you, turkey fryer fires can get out of control in a hurry.

(on camera): Would you fry one here at your house again?

MOON: Not at my house, no.

HUNTER (voice over): For those who will, follow the instructions carefully, or risk a holiday dinner tragedy.

Greg Hunter, CNN, New York.


COLLINS: 370 next, a dog left for dead in the days after Katrina, but the story didn't end there.

Also tonight...


When you have the gun in your possession how do you feel? How does the gun make you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all want to show me how it feels?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Popping the hammer (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Lucky it wasn't loaded.


COLLINS: That teenager was shot dead by a police officer. Now his best friend has turned the circumstances around, that shooting into an award-winning documentary. The story coming up.


COLLINS: Tonight, Louisiana's attorney general continues to investigate accusations of mass killings in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In this case, the victims were dogs, allegedly shot to death, some say, by the people who were supposed to protect them, local police.

It is a very sad story with very serious charges. But in the end, one very good thing came out of it.

CNN's Ed Lavandera now.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When Katrina hit, residents of St. Bernard Parish fled for cover to Beauregard Middle School.

KIT BAUER, EVACUEE: A lot of people, about 50, 60 people, evacuated to that point and brought their animals with us, because they told us we could bring our animals.

LAVANDERA: But when it came time to evacuate, they had to leave their dogs behind.

BAUER: They up and told us then that we couldn't take any of the animals with us. which everybody went ballistic on, you know, because nobody -- that was like leaving your kids behind. LAVANDERA: They left messages for rescuers, begging them to save the dogs they were forced to abandon, but their pleas were ignored and dogs were shot to death.

KIM DAVIS, ANIMAL RESCUER: Three dogs, a large one and two smaller ones, all lying in a pool of blood. It looks like they may have all been gathered together and shot together.

This is hard. When dogs are shot like this, too, they don't die instantly, as you can see from the large amount of blood. They bleed to death.

LAVANDERA: No one knows for sure who killed the dogs. Animal rescuers say St. Bernard Parish sheriff's deputies did it. Sheriff Jack Stevens said he didn't order anyone to kill the dogs but admitted it was possible his deputies might have done it. He's referred the case to prosecutors.

JACK STEPHENS, SHERIFF OF SAINT BERNARD PARISH: Certainly not prepared to say without reservation that it wasn't one of our officers that did it. But what I do know is that it's a despicable act.

LAVANDERA: Christopher Acosta left his pitbull Mercedes at the school.

CHRISTOPHER ACOSTA, MERCEDES' OWNER: After I find out they shot these animals, I come back about three, four weeks later. I said, well, man -- you know, I was just going to get some closure. I'm going to go see my dog, you know.

And when I got here, I checked every single animal. Every single one.

LAVANDERA: He didn't find her body, but on October 27, in a building about 20 feet away from where those dogs were killed two months earlier, there was barking. It was Mercedes.

KELLE DAVIS, RESCUED MERCEDES: This is the building I found her in. Right here.

I started throwing her wet food, went up to her. She did eat out of my hand. And by this time, she was just very -- extremely trembling and very scared. Very scared.

LAVANDERA: They got to her just in time.

DAVIS: It was extremely emaciated. She just -- you could tell she had not had food for weeks.

ACOSTA: Come here, my girl. Come here, my girl.

LAVANDERA: Today, almost three months after he left her, Chris Acosta was reunited with Mercedes.

ACOSTA: Thank you so much.

DAVIS: Oh, you're welcome.

LAVANDERA: He doesn't know how or even when she escaped. He just knows he's happy to have her back.

ACOSTA: I love this animal with all my heart. And I'm just grateful to get her back. And if it wasn't for these people, maybe that would have never, ever been possible.


LAVANDERA: The Louisiana attorney general's office is investigating these cases, but so far, they are not commenting on any of the specifics. And I spoke with the sheriff of St. Bernard Parish recently about any of the updates. We've been following this story for several weeks now. And he says that so far, he hasn't heard any evidence to suggest whether or not his deputies might have been involved in these shootings -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, I know you've been following it for a long time, Ed. And a nice way to end this one anyway. Thank you.

Next on 360, life after death. How the death of this Washington, D.C., police officer changed more lives than he could have ever imagined.

And the secret to healthy aging, according to Dr. Andrew Weil. I spoke with the man many consider to be the top authority on alternative medicine.


COLLINS: This Thanksgiving will bring very mixed feelings to a Massachusetts family. What happened spotlights an issue that affects countless Americans every day: the endless need for organ donors.

According to the American Kidney Fund, 17 people die each day waiting for an organ. But sometimes, one person's life can save many lives, and also help hearts to heal.

Here's CNN's Elizabeth Cohen.



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Annettor Murphy traveled 400 miles to thank the parents of the man who saved her life. She will never be able to thank their son.

Craig McBride, a police officer, died in August. Just two years on the force, he'd been voted rookie of the year at his precinct in Washington, D.C. His parents had never seen him happier. He would have been married soon. He would have turned 26 today.

Now, Annettor Murphy has his liver.

(on camera): There's several others out there like you...

MURPHY: Sure there are.

COHEN: ... who have a part of Craig inside them.

MURPHY: Yes, yes. But I think I got the best part. And I'm so happy.

COHEN (voice over): On August 9, Ken and Jeanne McBride were at home in Massachusetts when their phone rang. Their son was being taken to Washington Hospital Center.

JEANNE MCBRIDE, PARENT OF LIVER DONOR: What I asked the doctor was, is this the kind of situation where we needed to be there yesterday? And he said yes. That's all he needed to say.

COHEN: The next day, with his parents and dozens of police officers by his side, Craig died. The reason so shocking it was hard for them to believe it at first. He drunk too much water on a bike patrol training ride. It led to a lethal sodium imbalance.

When the hospital asked his parents if they'd like to denate Craig's organs, they didn't hesitate.

KEN MCBRIDE, PARENT OF LIVER DONOR: It's consistent with who he was, the way he lived, helping people.

COHEN: Craig's heart saved a life. His lungs two more. And another two people are alive today because of his kidneys and pancreas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gift you unselfishly gave to others when you decided to donate Craig's organs was truly heroic.

COHEN: According to the Washington Regional Transplant Consortium, Craig saved six lives. Through tissue donation, he improved countless overs.

(on camera): Without Craig's liver, what would have happened to you?

MURPHY: I would have died. Simply died.

COHEN (voice over): Of the six, only Annettor Murphy knows that she owes her life to Craig. The hospital didn't tell her. For privacy reasons they don't reveal the identity of an organ donor.

Kim Taylor is the reason Annettor can thank Craig's family. She worked with Craig on the D.C. police force and she's Annettor's niece.

Kim put it all together. Her aunt received a liver the day after Craig died, and her family had been told the liver was coming from a young person.

KIMBERLY TAYLOR, NIECE OF LIVER TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT: And I just ran into my commander's office and I'm like, "My auntie, my auntie. Officer McBride!" And that's all I could get out was "My auntie, Officer McBride," and "save my aunt's life."

COHEN: A few weeks ago, Annettor and her family flew from Baltimore to Boston.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. How about you?

COHEN: She wanted to learn more about the man who gave her a new lease on life. The McBrides shared family photos and stories.

J. MCBRIDE: Just pictures growing up. He was an entrepreneur very early.

COHEN: And together they celebrated Annettor's 62nd birthday.

J. MCBRIDE (SINGING): Happy birthday to you.

K. MCBRIDE (SINGING): Happy birthday to you.

COHEN: A birthday her doctors never thought she'd reach.

TAYLOR: Craig was a hero. He's allowed life to continue in someone else, and that's my aunt. He's just an awesome guy.

COHEN (on camera): How was it to meet the parents of the man who gave you your liver?

MURPHY: I love them. I love them. They're angels. And he was an angel to give me his liver.

COHEN (voice over): The McBrides gave Annettor this quilt.

J. MCBRIDE: The organ transplant symbol, butterflies. So I put butterfly fabric in each corner.

COHEN: To symbolize that forever...

J. MCBRIDE: Our hearts to your heart.

COHEN: Because of Craig, they're family.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Framingham, Massachusetts.


COLLINS: Great story.

On the radar for tomorrow, another kind of gift of life. What if you could live to be 100 or even older?. What's the secret? It turns out there are many. We traveled the globe in search of them from the Mediterranean to Okinawa to Loma Linda, California. Tips that can extend your life and make it better.

And from living longer to driving faster, we take you inside the cockpit and the lives of the fastest drivers in NASCAR. That and the Macy's parade and the forecast for this year's holiday shopping season, it's all on track for tomorrow. And on the radar tonight.

And straight ahead, what investigators are discovering at the scene of a terrifying train wreck this afternoon outside of Chicago. There's a live shot there you're looking at, and we're going to take you to those train tracks in just a moment.

Also, what would happen if the most influential woman in America endorses the most recognizable woman in politics? Could we be talking about President Hillary Clinton?

And what happens when a family heads north from Katrina, way north?

A break first. From New Orleans to Cape Cod to New York, this is 360.



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