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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Unmarried Adults Outnumber Married; Safe Landing in Boston; Keepin Secrets; Intelligent Design "Breathtaking Inanity" Says Judge; Warrantless Spying

Aired December 20, 2005 - 23:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 15 minutes out, the pilot came on and told us that he experienced a problem -- the landing gear indicator light was going on. They were radioing in, I guess to try to figure out what to do. And came back on about 15 minutes later and said we were going to stay in Boston and try to reland here. And (they) never really indicated there would be a problem with it but we were going to have to burn off about an hour and a half worth's of fuel. So that's what we did for the better part of two hours, then.
When we came in, we didn't assume any emergency positions. They felt everything would be fine. But it came in fairly routine. But he said they would expect to see some sparks and -- but they felt that the landing gear was down and safely locked.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Those passengers remarkably calm and grateful after what had to be a harrowing experience, their plane circling in the dark for some two hours, then making an emergency landing at Boston's Logan International Airport. Midwest Airlines Flight 210.

Joining us now on the telephone is Scott Dixon. He's the spokesman for the airline. Scott, I want you to take us back to the beginning of this, the pilot takes off from Boston, he believe he's heading to Milwaukee. But has an indicator light. He tells the tower and he also calls the company. What did he say?

SCOTT DIXON, MIDWEST AIRLINES SPOKESMAN: I don't know the specific transcript of the conversation but I'm sure he described the problem to them and our maintenance and flight dispatch people researched the problem and came back to him with possible ways to mitigate the situation.

J. KING: It's a Boeing 717-200. Your airline has quite a few of them. In your recollection, any problem like this in the past?

DIXON: No, I don't recall any. We have 22 in our fleet. The aircraft has been a very reliable and safe airplane.

J. KING: Eighty-six passengers on board -- the landing tonight -- all them complimenting the professionalism of the crew. We should make that quite clear. And again we'll show this to our viewers, the Boeing 717-200 coming down right on the stripe. Runway 33 left, I believe at Boston's Logan International Airport. Emergency crews standing by, not needed in this case because the pilot brought it to a very safe landing. They inspected the plane, they brought it in to the terminal -- they towed it in to the terminal after it came to a stop. And those inspections -- you see it here, a picture of it -- our apologies for that camera moving, trying to see something at the airport, there.

Scott Dixon, what happens now in terms of the investigation into what happened on this plane?

DIXON: We'll get together with the FAA and all of the appropriate officials. We'll be sending one of our own maintenance teams out there to take a look at the aircraft and we'll draw our conclusions and fix the problem as quickly as we can.

J. KING: Scott Dixon of Midwest Airlines, we thank you for your time, sir, on what we know is a busy night. Remarkable landing, professionalism of your crew tonight. We will check in in the days ahead to find out exactly what happened on this plane. But a remarkable landing -- all 86 passengers safe tonight, and complimenting the crew on their professionalism during this experience.

We want to offer you now the vantage point of someone who's been in that pilot seat during experiences like this. Former American Airlines pilot Jim Tilmon -- he flew for more than 29 years, he's quite familiar with the Boeing 717 aircraft.

Jim Tilmon, we have been showing our view this video. Walk us through it from the pilots perspective.

JIM TILMON, FORMER AMERICAN AIRLINES PILOT (by telephone): There wasn't anything about this landing that was unusual except for one thing. And that was he had a mystery about exactly what was happening on the right landing gear. But the more I hear about this, it sounds like he had that mystery solved to a large extent. I do believe that before he actually start his approach, he actually was able to exercise that gear and get a green light on it. And as you know, you -- once you have a green light on the gear, you know that it should be locked and down.

And you want three green lights, so all the gear on the airplane will be in the proper position for landing. Once he knows that, he knows it might be a little bit different in terms of maybe there was a gear door that was dragging, maybe there's a brake that was malfunctioning, maybe something else is going on, but he was going to be able to land that airplane without incident in terms of anything that would be catastrophic.

J. KING: And Jim -- I'm sorry for interrupting -- the passengers as they got off the plane have told us that the pilot told them that he expected a safe landing, that there could be some sparks, and that they might see the door of that landing gear break off. What would tell the pilot that?

TILMON: If the landing gear door is -- normally, the gear comes down, then the gear door comes back up, to give you the least amount of drag. If that door did not come back up, he probably had an unsafe gear door light, but had a green light for the landing gear. That sounds like what happened. Of course, I wasn't there, So I don't know. But it sounded like that's the configuration he had. Once he had that, he says, Okay, I may lose the gear door, hey, that's okay. If the gear is down and is locked, we'll be able to land.

J. KING: Veteran American Airlines pilot, Jim Tilmon. We thank you, sir, for your thoughts tonight -- someone who has sat in the pilot's seat, helping us get through what had to be a harrowing experience. But tonight it's a safe experience for the passengers aboard Midwest Airlines Flight 210. They're now safe, spending the night in Boston.

Here's what else is happening at this moment. Southwest Airlines is being sued for the deadly plane accident in Chicago. Two passengers are going to court accusing Southwest of negligence. The 737 skidded off the runway during a snowstorm back on December 8th. The jet crushed two cars on a city street, killing a 6-year-old boy.

Still on the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Today the Defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said capturing the terror mastermind remains a priority. Rumsfeld suspects bin Laden is alive, probably in hiding. But the secretary says he has a hard time believing bin Laden is in day-to-day command of al Qaeda, but was quick to point out, he could be wrong.

A major setback for supporters of intelligent design. Today, a federal judge ruled a Pennsylvania public school district could not include intelligent design in its science curriculum. Unlike evolution, the theory raises the notion that living organisms were created by a higher force. But the judge strongly disagreed, saying it is creationism in disguise.

Tonight here in New York City, thousands of people are right now struggling through the frigid weather just to get home, even at this late hour. Train stations are overflowing with massive crowds, while many other commuters are walking miles, down long streets and over bridges just to get back. That's because the city's buses and subways are parked. They've been out of service since the transport workers union declared a city-wide strike around 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time today, after it couldn't reach an agreement with transit officials over wages and pensions.

This is no small picket -- 30,000 workers walked off, halting the country's largest public transportation system in the busy shopping days just before Christmas. About 7 million people rely on the New York City Transit every day, more than four times the amount of daily passengers on the nation's airlines.

The strike is already causing a strain on shops, restaurants, hotels and other businesses. By some estimates, 20 to 50 percent of the city's workforce couldn't make it in today, or came in late. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who walked to City Hall today, says New York is losing more than $400 million a day. And considering the city's role as a financial hub, there is no doubt the drain will have an impact on the national economy.

In fact, the floors on Wall Street were lighter than usual today, though stock experts say it is hard to determine whether the strike was the cause or the pre-Christmas lull.

Of course, economics was last thing on the mind of many commuters today. As CNN's Adaora Udoji reports, just getting to work was stressful enough.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New Yorkers, like newlyweds Jessica and Connor Coyne, woke up expecting mayhem.

JESSICA COYNE, NEW YORK COMMUTER: I can't walk all the way to Port Authority.

CONNOR COYNE, NEW YORK COMMUTER: I could walk to Port Authority you, and then I could just walk...

J. COYNE: That's a really long walk. How long is it? How long would it take?

C. COYNE: Probably a little bit less than two hours.

UDOJI: They live in Brooklyn, across the river from Manhattan, and, like seven million people, who usually ride buses and trains, found themselves stranded.

With bus drivers and subway conductors on strike, thousands of their neighbors decided to walk, trekking across the Brooklyn Bridge in frigid 20-degree temperatures. They were joined by the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Around the rest of the city, commuters were forced to get creative to make it to work or anywhere else.

Cars filled to capacity rolled slowly through the morning rush hour gridlock. Taxis turned into carpools, as police enforced rules that each car carry at least four people going into Manhattan this morning.

As for our stranded newlyweds, a research assistant and graduate student, the Coynes, like many, could not afford for both of them to take a cab. So, Jessica left Connor behind. She had further to go.

J. COYNE: I guess that's one of the big positives about living in a big city like New York, is that you're always going through the hard times with -- with everybody else.

(LAUGHTER)

C. COYNE: In -- in good -- in good company.

UDOJI: At it turned out, very good company -- Connor soon ran into a driver, who offered him a ride. Many people stayed home, though. And retailers are afraid shoppers will, too, with estimates of lost business ranging from $250 million to $400 million a day, a big blow five days before the holidays.

It usually takes Jessica two hours and a two dollar subway fare to get to work. Today, it was three hours and $22. And there's no end in sight.

(on camera): Here at Penn Station, even this late at night, John, it's usually bustling with people getting off and on the subway, but not tonight. What we have seen a lot of, of course, is people walking, walking to where they need to go. Again a very long and cold day for everyone in New York trying to get anywhere. John?

J. KING: And Adaora, at the end of this long, cold day, I'm sure many commuters are asking how long will this go on? Are the two sides back at the bargaining table?

UDOJI: That's exactly right. That's the big question for everyone. What we did learn late tonight is that an arbitrator has met separately with each side. Now this would be to try and see if there is any common ground, and it would be a first step to getting them back to the negotiating table. John?

J. KING: Adaora, thank you very much. A very long day for you. Keep track of this strike, see how long it goes.

Tempers also boiling tonight in Washington, but not over transit contracts or commutes. There as always, the fight is political. And today lawmakers battled over recent revelations that the president okayed the spying of Americans without a warrant. It is a fight that has put some Republicans and Democrats on the same side. CNN's Ed Henry with the latest.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two Republican senators, Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe, joined three Democrats in signing a letter expressing profound concern about domestic spying. The letter demands an immediate joint investigation by the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. The bipartisan pressure on President Bush comes amid a heated dispute over whether Democrats privately endorsed the classified eavesdropping.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D) MINORITY WHIP: Whenever the administration is caught in a situation where the intelligence is flawed or controversial, whether it was the invasion of Iraq or this spying on American citizens, their first line of defense is, well, the Democrats were in on this, they knew all about it. And that's just not true.

HENRY: Two Democrats, Senator Jay Rockefeller and former Senator Tom Daschle, say they got limited briefings and voiced private concerns to Vice President Cheney about the program.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D) CALIFORNIA: Dick Cheney said, "Everyone who was briefed just went along with this, They were told; no one complained." That is a falsehood on its face; it's absolutely a falsehood.

HENRY: But Republican Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, fired back that during several classified briefings, "Senator Rockefeller expressed to the vice president his vocal support for the program. His most recent expression of support was only two weeks ago." Spokesman Scott McClellan denied that the White House ignored concerns about the program, but did not sound ready to cooperate with a congressional probe.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: This is still a highly- classified program, and there are details that it's important not be disclosed. This program, the disclosure of this program has damaged our national security and put us at greater risk, because the enemy wants to know what we're doing.

HENRY (on camera): Senator Boxer has raised the specter of impeachment, asking a group of scholars to examine whether the president violated the law. But since the facts are still murky, Democratic leaders are steering clear of Boxer's move, fearful that overreaching could backfire politically.

Ed Henry, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

J. KING: Vice President Cheney is forcefully defending that domestic spy program. He says in any event, and especially in today's post-9/11 world, the United States needs "strong, robust executive authority." During an interview today with Dana Bash in Pakistan, the vice president dismissed accusations that laws may have been broken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact, is the law is the law. The Constitution is there. It has been adhered to and followed in this case. And when you go to war, when you're attacked in your home land, you lose 3,000 people in a couple of hours one morning, and you're faced with the possibility that that same organization might try to attack the United States with an even deadlier weapon, perhaps a nuclear weapon if they could get their hands on it, or a biological agent, you have to actively and aggressively go after the terrorists.

Now after 9/11, the 9/11 Commission had criticized everybody, the government, because we couldn't connect the dots. Now we're connecting the dots and they're still complaining. So it seems to me you can't have it both ways.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

J. KING: A helicopter overhead during that interview. Still to come on 360, imagine losing 11 members of your family in one tragic accident. That's exactly what happened to one man yesterday when this plane crashed off the coast of Miami Beach. We'll have that story and the latest on the investigation.

Plus, what kind of secrets do you keep? An unusual collection of personal confessions now on display. We'll show it to you when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) J. KING: Relief at Logan Airport tonight, but heartache in Miami. And heartache many times over for a man who lost 11 relatives. They died yesterday along with at least 8 other people when a seaplane on the way to the island of Bimini in the Bahamas exploded and fell into the ocean just off Miami Beach, the last horrible seconds caught on tape. Tonight investigators are confirming what millions of people saw: A piece of the wing coming off.

And out at sea today, a different picture. Not as terrifying, but just as grim. Reporting for us tonight, Chris King.

CHRIS KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A crane-mounted barge lifted from the water what appeared to be one of the plane's wings.

MARK ROSENKER, ACTING CHAIRMAN, NTSB: You must do it in a very scientific and a very slow way, otherwise you'll break things apart. So that's why it is not just the kind of thing you pick up a part and move it up. There is a great deal of science to this type of recovery, I assure you.

C. KING: Once most or all of the pieces are removed from the water, NTSB will be able to comb the wreckage for clues to what caused the plane to break apart and crash in flames into the sea. Divers were unable to reach the voice recorder today in the mangled tail. They'll try again tomorrow.

ROSENKER: It's very important to find that so we can begin the process of assessing that, reading it out and understanding what happened just moments before that plane crashed.

C. KING: Investigators will also have this amateur video, shot by German tourists, which captures the plane's last moments.

ROSENKER: It is very rare that we have the opportunity to get video of the actual accident. So we'll be taking that back to Washington. We have some security video from the United States Coast Guard. We'll be doing some analysis of that as well.

C. KING: Investigators have also obtained maintenance and flight records from the seaplane's owner, Chalk Ocean Airways. Officials say they're not ruling out any possibility on what caused the seaplane, which was en route to Bimini Island in the Bahamas, to go down.

ROSENKER: We'll be looking operations, we'll be looking at human factors, we'll be looking at structures, power plants. We'll also look at survival factors, as well as bringing in a Transportation Disaster Assistance Team.

C. KING: Nineteen bodies have been recovered, however, a flight manifest shows the plane having 20 people aboard. Eleven were related to this man, Leonard Stuart. They were going home from a niece's graduation in North Carolina.

LEONARD STUART, LOST 11 FAMILY MEMBERS: (INAUDIBLE) people that was on board that flight, I was related to them. I loved them with all my heart. C. KING: Now, 17 people have been identified. The NTSB says among the dead is a standby passenger who had gotten a spot on the flight after a woman had given up her seat.

As for the actual plane itself, the NTSB says the right wing broke off the plane. They say that's what caused the plane to go down. And the NTSB says it could take up to a year to find out why that wing broke off in the first place. John?

J. KING: And Chris, you note the urgent priority is to find the cockpit voice recorder. They resume the search at day break I assume. Do they have a good lead?

C. KING: That's the top priority, of course. That's what they're looking into. They want to get that voice recorder to find out -- to get more clues as to exactly why the plane went down.

J. KING: Chris King reporting for us; a great job today in Miami Beach. Thank you, Chris.

An ugly battle raging over millions of acres near the top of the world.

But first, Erica Hill from Headline News joins with us some of the other stories we're following tonight. Hey, Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS: Hey, John, good to see you tonight.

When Saddam Hussein's trial resumes tomorrow, he's expected to be back in the courtroom now. That's according to his defense lawyers and the chief prosecutor in the case. The former Iraqi leader, you may recall, boycotted a previous hearing after calling the proceedings a sham, and complaining about the conditions of his detention. He also told the judges to "go to hell."

As many as five prosecution witnesses are expected to testify tomorrow.

A hijacker in a terrorist attack that riveted America 20 years ago is now home in Lebanon after serving just 19 years of a life sentence in Germany. Muhammad Ali Hamadi was one of four Shiite Muslim militants who attacked TWA Flight 847 as it flew from Athens to Rome. The ordeal lasted 17 days, one American was killed. The U.S. State Department is now pressing Lebanon to turn Hamadi over for trial in the U.S. The two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

In Kansas city, a dramatic ending to a police standoff. A man taken into custody after trying to escape through a window in his fourth floor hotel room. Hours earlier, he had called police claiming someone was trying to kill him. But when officers arrived at the hotel, he shut himself in his room, saying he had a weapon. Police said that they did find a semiautomatic rifle.

Finally, the fate of Togo -- this little 3-month-old penguin -- hanging in the balance tonight. The baby bird was stolen from a zoo in southern England on Saturday. His keepers say it is unlikely the little guy will survive unless he is returned in the next two days. They're worried that in the wake of the popular movie, "March of the Penguins," someone thought Togo would make a perfect Christmas gift. Probably better to get a stuffed Togo, John.

J. KING: Who would steal a penguin. Erica Hill, thank you. Talk to you a bit later.

In Washington, the fight after Arctic oil heats up again. Next on 360, what is actually at stake on the ground and deep under the Alaskan ice and tundra -- a battle between preservation and progress in one of the world's last great wild places.

And American couples: why are more and more of them making a life together without bothering to get a license? The marriage contract with America: Is it out of date? That's ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

J. KING: The Senate is bracing for another ugly battle tomorrow, a fight that could derail an enormous Defense spending bill. The sticking point, oil. The Defense bill contains a measure that would allow drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge that President Bush has made a top priority and lawmakers have fought over for decades. Here is CNN's Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pristine wilderness or oil rich wasteland -- depends on who you talk to. Advocates of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge say the vast expanse of tundra at the top of the world could help cut America's dependence on foreign oil.

SEN. TED STEVENS (R) ALASKA: This is a matter of national security that I have 25 years tried to support the position taken by the senator of Washington and the senator from Massachusetts that this area should be open to oil and gas exploration.

JOHNS: And for just about as long, opponents of opening the refuge to oil exploration have fought Stevens tooth and nail. They say it is the last untouched wilderness, and to some of the Native Alaskans who live nearby, sacred breeding ground for the caribou.

Lucy Beach represents the Gwichin Nation. They live in villages just south of the refuge, 7,000 strong, subsisting off the land.

(on camera): What does the Gwichin Nation think of the plans to develop ANWR?

LUCY BEACH, GWICHIN NATION: We're extremely concerned, and this has been some of the hardest times that we have ever had in our nation's history. Mostly we're concerned about what this would do to our human rights as a people, that we would not be allowed to continue our way of life that we have known since time immemorial, which is similar to what's happened in the lower 48 with the tribes.

JOHNS: Allied with the Native Alaskans, the state's powerful environmental movement.

ELEANOR HUFFINES, WILDERNESS SOCIETY: What's interesting is, the Department of Energy -- the government's own scientists had said just this July that, if you drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, that your gas prices will only go down by about a penny in 20 years. Most Americans know that that is not worth the risk.

JOHNS: But there is another side. Mike Fell, a helicopter pilot from Homer, Alaska, who shuttles oil explorers around the north slope of the state. He says the area is a vast barren expanse of tundra, bigger than New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland combined, with easily enough room for the wildlife and responsible exploration.

MIKE FELL, HELICOPTER PILOT: It is not the -- in my estimation, the pristine mountainous wildlife preserve that the people of America would think it to be, or it has been made out to be. Most of Alaskans' take on the oil companies that are up there, they have been taking very good care of the North Slope.

JOHNS: It is a classic confrontation. This huge frontier state still figuring out what it wants to be.

(on camera): In Alaska, there is a constant tug of war between nature and progress. There are cities here, but it is still basically a wilderness. Even here in built up Anchorage, it is not uncommon to find yourself standing next it a Moose.

(voice-over): Beyond the culture clash in the competing visions for Alaska's future, there is the science. ANWR is a crucial breeding ground for the Porcupine Caribou herd -- 40,000 to 50,000 calves are born every year on the coastal plain where the oil companies would drill. And there are migratory birds, polar bears and musk oxen all above the ground.

Below it? The government says the coastal plane could produce more oil in a single day than the entire state of Texas. But that is still just a drop in the bucket compared to global oil production. As for the oil companies, after two decades of a bruising debate over drilling in the wilderness, the public line --

DAREN BEAUDO, BP ALASKA: Americans really have to come to a conclusion whether or not they want development in ANWR. If they decide they do, then we'll take a look at it and see what the next step might be.

JOHNS: In other words, on the eve of what promises to be a wild political battle, they're leaving it up to the Senate to lead them into the wilderness. Joe Johns, CNN, Anchorage.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

J. KING: A terrifying end to a flight that had barely begun. What every pilot dreads, an emergency landing and sparks in the night.

And should single Americans have the same rights as married Americans? Many unmarried people say they're being discriminated against. That's next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not really -- the captain did a great job of keeping everyone very calm. We didn't feel a sense of urgency at all on the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did they tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They said -- BASICALLY, they didn't say a whole lot -- said that we were going to fly around and use up some of the fuel, and that we may see some sparks, but we may not, and they don't expect anything wrong to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You knew that you guys were in a little bit of trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 15 minutes out, the pilot came on and told us that he had experienced a problem -- a landing gear indicator light was going on and they were radioing in, I guess, to try to figure out what to do. And came back on about 15 minutes later and said that we were going stay in Boston, try to reland here. And never really indicated that there was going to be a problem with it, but we were going to have to burn off about an hour and a half worth's of fuel. That's what we did for the better part two of hours then.

When we came in, we didn't assume any emergency positions. They felt everything would be fine. But it came in fairly routine. He said they would expect to see some sparks, but they felt that the landing gear was down and safely locked.

J. KING: Returning now to our breaking news, an emergency landing at Boston's Logan Airport. Here is how it all unfolded just a couple of hours ago. After report a landing gear problem and then burning off fuel for a couple of hours, the pilot of Midwest Airlines Flight 210 landed the plane safely -- just a few sparks flew at the rear of the plane from the right landing gear. The Midwest flight was bound for Milwaukee and returned to Boston for that landing after reporting the problem.

For some perspective on what it's like to make an emergency landing, joining me on the phone again, Jim Tilmon, a former American Airlines pilot.

Jim Tilmon, you take off from Boston's Logan Airport, an indicator light tells you a problem with the right landing gear. Walk us through what the pilot does from that point on.

TILMON (by telephone): There are certain things that are routine, and there are certain things that are unique to the situation. One of the things that is unique is that we don't know what the problem is. He has no way of -- certainly of seeing it and at night you can't do a fly-by by the tower so they can check it to see where that landing gear is. All he has is some lights on the panel of the cockpit, lights that should show him either three greens if all the lighting gears are down and locked, or that there is no indication whatsoever if they're up. He didn't get that. What he got was a light saying that there was a gear door problem and an unsafe gear problem. Those are two different lights.

Apparently what he landed with was a door problem and a green light for the landing gear. That's why he didn't have the passengers go into a braced position, because he felt that he was in good shape in terms of having a gear that was going to hold the airplane without any difficulty. But the gear door, on the other hand, may have been a problem.

So it sounds like, from what we are able to determine so far, that that was the situation, that's why he didn't have them go into a brace. And that's probably part of the reason that there was no reason for any concern other than just watching this as a routine beautiful landing. I wish that somehow, during my best landings, I'd had a video crew out there to shoot mine.

J. KING: On the center stripe, a best case scenario tonight, all 86 passengers on that plane now safe, spending the night in Boston. The airline says it will send in an aircraft to get them to their destination in the morning.

But Jim Tilmon, take me through the worst case scenario that is going through that pilot's mind when he sees that indicator light on, when he does not know if that landing gear is going to stick when he lands.

TILMON: If he had not gotten a green light, this would have been a different scenario. First of all, I think he would have had the passengers brace. He would have been prepared for evacuating the passengers. He would have been concerned about whether or not that gear would fail on touchdown and allow his right wing to dip far enough to touch the runway.

That's not a good situation. That's a very bad situation. And that is a completely different thing than what we had tonight. So that would have gone through his mind, but I don't think he had that to worry about. He had a lot of people working with him. He talked with everybody there was to talk with. They gave him all kinds of information. He had a chance to check through all of that. He had the time to deal with it.

And remember, you slow down as an airline captain. You don't do anything too fast. You take your time, you analyze things very carefully, you listen to all the advice you can get, you take all that under consideration, and you make good, solid decisions. Because you know very well your decisions have something to do with the lives and the health, and everything else, of all those people.

So you make very sure that you don't make any mistakes here, and he didn't. He was absolutely right on the money.

J. KING: But Jim, let's end on that point. I want your observations on how the pilot handles that. He is dealing with all of this information -- from the tower, from his operations center back in Milwaukee, from his co-pilot, from all the instruments on the aircraft. And at the same time he has 86 people circling in the dark, who have to be quite nervous. You can't train for that, to try to keep those people calm while you're trying to figure out, What's wrong with my plane.

TILMON: I don't want to make light of this, but I can tell you this: I can remember a time when I first started flying, and I was flying co-pilot and a lady came up to the captain and said, Does it bother you to have all these people -- their lives in your hands? He says, Ma'am, I just land the cockpit and the airplane normally follows.

I can tell you that the significance of that is, you are working in conjunction with a machine that you're married to. And it doesn't make any difference whether you have three people back there or 300. You fly the airplane the same way. And your marriage with that mechanical beast is so intimate that you don't ever get any of that into the equation. You allow yourself to be part of this thing, you're man and machine together. You make it happen every time.

JOHNS: Veteran American Airlines pilot Jim Tilmon. We thank you for your observations. We're grateful for your help tonight, Jim, on this breaking story.

To recap quickly, Midwest Airlines Flight 210 left Boston airport, then had to return, circling for two hours, landing safely, 86 passengers aboard.

And here is what else is happening at this moment. In Italy, a train crash investigation. One train rammed into another from behind at a station south of Rome -- about 50 passengers were injured. Any passengers who were trapped in the wreckage have now been rescued. Among the more seriously hurt was an 8-year-old girl who was flown to a hospital in Rome.

It may not be Everest this man is conquering, but notice he's not using ropes or wearing gloves. Alain Robert, better known as the French Spiderman, climbed a glass tower in Paris today, making 30 floors in 20 minutes. Not much of a challenge for someone who has already shimmied up skyscrapers like the Sears Tower and Taipei 101, the world's tallest building.

On New Zealand's South Island, more than 100 pilot whales have been stranded on the beach. At least 19 have died, despite efforts by conservation workers to keep the whales wet and cool until the next high tide, it is hoped, can carry them out to sea and safety.

The silent majority has give way to the single majority. For the first time ever there are now more unmarried households in the United States than married households. It is a seismic shift for the single set, but it comes at a price. Many unattached American say they're becoming the targets of discrimination. CNN's Randy Kaye reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Blythe Collier and Bob Simpson have been together for 18 years. They live together, own a business together and are blissfully in love.

BOB SIMPSON, BLYTHE'S "SWEETIE": I met Collie (ph); she is someone I wanted to spend my life with.

KAYE: But Bob and Blythe aren't married. Nor do they have any plans to ever get married.

BLYTHE COLLIER, BOB'S "SWEETIE": Have you priced wedding dresses lately? Oh my god, it's like, why would you want to spend that kind of money.

KAYE (on camera): Is this at all somewhat of a protest, this not getting married business?

COLLIER: For me, it is a little. I'm nobody's property. I belong to me.

KAYE: Don't you belong, somewhat?

COLLIER: I belong to me.

SIMPSON: There are a lot of people that say they're committed because they're married. And then they're divorced in two years or five years or ten.

KAYE: Bob and Blythe are part of the 86 million single adults beginning to define the new majority in America. Already unmarrieds make up 42 percent of the workforce, 40 percent of homebuyers, 35 percent of voters, and are one of the most potent consumer groups out there. Yet they say they face mass discrimination in almost every one of those areas.

(voice-over): When Bob Simpson lost his job, Blythe Collier lost her health benefits, because they are unmarried, she would no longer be covered under Bob's supplemental insurance.

Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller, founders of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, hear stories like that every day.

DORIAN SOLOT, CO-FOUNDER, ALTERNATIVES TO MARRIAGE PROJECT: People who have lost their jobs or been refused promotions because they're not married.

KAYE: Solot and Miller founded the group after they say they experienced discrimination.

SOLOT: Not being able to get joint health insurance, to having trouble renting an apartment together, to being charged twice as much for tenants insurance.

KAYE: Singles don't just feel discriminated against in the private sector, but at the federal level, too.

MARSHALL MILLER, CO-FOUNDER, ALTERNATIVES TO MARRIAGE PROJECT: I don't think married couples should get tax breaks. I don't think unmarried people should get tax breaks. I think the tax code should have nothing do with marital status.

KAYE: But it does. Marital status can also impact getting a gym membership, renters insurance, even mortgages. Unmarried workers pay the same Social Security as married workers. Yet their partners won't receive survivor benefits. Insurance companies charge higher rates to unmarrieds because most states allow marital status to be used as a rating for setting premiums. And unmarried people are not eligible for family health coverage for their partners or families.

TOM COLEMAN, EXEC. DIRECTOR, UNMARRIED AMERICA: Private sector employers, wake up and smell the roses. Unmarried America is here.

KAYE: Tom Coleman is the executive director of Unmarried America, a lobby group that fights for rights for singles.

COLEMAN: Federal law does not prohibit marital status discrimination in employment or housing. So when we go knocking on the doors of these federal agencies, they can't help us.

DAVID POPENOE, THE NATIONAL MARRIAGE PROJECT: Married couples raise children, and society is very interested in having children raised well, because they're our future.

KAYE: Dr. David Popenoe of the National Marriage Institute promotes marriage, and studies how its perceived imbalance is affecting society. Popenoe argues that married people are in effect being discriminated against.

POPENOE: The single people are getting away scot free. They're going to, when they're 70, benefit from somebody else's kids paying their Social Security benefits. And probably they ought to have to pay, you know, double.

KAYE: But Tom Coleman disagrees.

COLEMAN: A single person who dies a month before they retire, everything that they have paid into Social Security evaporates. They cannot leave anything to a survivor or beneficiary.

KAYE: Social discrimination also exists, even among family members. Blythe and Bob, after nearly two decades together, are still treated like teenagers.

COLLIER: There were a couple of visits where I think my father made sure that we slept in different rooms. But he got over it after a while, and a couple of years later when we came back for another visit, we were in the same room with twin beds. And we looked at it and looked at each other and said, Shut the door, and we just pushed the beds together.

SIMPSON: Pushed the beds together.

KAYE: Some things, you find a way to change. Some things, you find a way around. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

J. KING: A federal judge blasts the Pennsylvania school board that pushed teaching intelligent design in public schools. Is it the end of trying to put God back in the classroom? What could it mean for America's culture wars?

Also ahead, a man who collects true confessions. Why do strangers share intensely personal secrets? Would you share yours?

Across America and the world, this is 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

J. KING: Intelligent design maintains that human life is so complex, that it must be the work of a supernatural being. But today, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed that policy as "breathtaking inanity." Here is CNN's faith and values correspondent, Delia Gallagher.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For some in the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania, the judge's harsh wording came as a surprise. In a 139-page ruling, Judge Johnny Jones bluntly criticized the school board for mandating that a statement be read to students that questioned the theory of evolution. In his ruling, Judge Jones said, "The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the board who voted for the ID policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover up their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID policy."

The real purpose, the judge said, was to promote religion in the classroom. During the 6-week trial, attorneys for the Dover School Board said they were not promoting religion, but only looking for ways to further explain Darwin's theory of evolution.

Last year, the school board, whose members then were mostly conservative Christians, voted to read a statement to ninth grade science students that said, "Because Darwin's theory is a theory it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not fact."

The statement also refers students to the book, "Of Pandas and People," which advocates the concept of intelligent design. It says the world is too complex to have developed without divine influence. Several Dover parents sued, because they felt the school board policy was a veiled attempt to teach religion in the public classroom.

Today, those parents feel vindicated.

TAMMY KITZMILLER, PARENT: Knowing that 11 ordinary citizens stepped forward and made a difference, it is just a great feeling. ID is not science. Intelligent design is about religion. This ruling makes it very clear.

GALLAGHER: Attorneys representing the school board said the decision was troubling.

RICHARD THOMPSON, THOMAS MOORE LAW CENTER: This is censorship. This is not education. It is indoctrination.

GALLAGHER: Some parents agree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not happy. I don't understand why they can teach evolution, but they can't just read a statement that says that there are other ideas of the creation of the earth. I just think it is limiting the children.

GALLAGHER: The case deeply divided the rural Pennsylvania community, and in November, most members of the pro-intelligent design school board lost re-election.

The newly elected board has said it would abide by the federal court decision, and at least one parent said the decision should be a warning for the rest of the country.

ARALENE CALLAHAN, PARENT: Watch what is happening in your school districts. Watch what kind of decisions the people you're electing are making. And try to stop it before it it gets to this level.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

J. KING: A collection of confessions, an exhibit where secrets are secret no more. We'll reveal them to you next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

J. KING: Secrets are easy to keep, easier to tell, and with the Internet, often just a click away. We found that out ourselves, thanks to a popular website where confession once private are now posted for the world to see. Here is CNN's Tom Foreman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm afraid I'm turning in my mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate people who remind me of myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't spoken to my dad in ten years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm afraid no one will ever love me as much as my dog does.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I post nude pictures of myself online.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'm ugly because I'm half black.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a warehouse in Washington, a celebration of secrets. And Frank Warren is their keeper.

FRANK WARREN, POST SECRET: Sometimes we think that we're keeping a secret but that secret is keeping us.

FOREMAN: This exhibit is his collection. One year ago, he was a businessman with an unexpected urge. He printed 3,000 self-addressed postcards and gave them to strangers asking for secrets. WARREN: Here's one from Texas.

FOREMAN: Thirteen thousand have come back. Simple messages. Heart breaking pleas, works of art.

WARREN: "I'm 25 and I've never been kissed. It is not that I don't want to. It is just that no one else does."

Some are funny, some are sexual. Some are philosophical. Some sound like a person trying to understand their own secret better. And I think some are used by people as a first step in addressing their secret or taking action on their secret.

FOREMAN: Religions have long recognized the human urge to admit secrets. We set up a video confessional at Frank Warren's exhibits and got this in an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were a couple of guys that I couldn't get over even though I'm in a steady relationship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brother thinks I hate him. But I really love him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My fear is what if I never meet my soul mate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got in touch with those guys, really just one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have my buttocks waxed but my wife doesn't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a crush on someone who is here tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we did is, we went to his house, which is sort of still under construction. And we had sex.

FOREMAN: Still, religious leaders say confession is about so much more -- introspection, interaction, forgiveness. And Monsignor Kevin Irwin says these drive-by confessions skip the whole process.

MSGR. KEVIN IRWIN, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: I think that short circuits it because you don't have the response to that and someone helping you feel better about yourself, and responding in a positive way, that encourages you to be your best self.

FOREMAN: If people are just writing postcards, then there is none of that.

IRWIN: There is none of that and there is no one to help them objectify it and help them really deal with it.

WARREN: At the same time, if you have a secret about your friends or family, you might feel trapped about who you can share it with. What I've tried to do with this project is create a safe, nonjudgmental place where people can share their secrets.

FOREMAN: Frank Warren's collection is now a book and a website. Are his own secrets included?

WARREN: I think it is healthy to share secrets, but I think it is healthy to keep one or two to yourself.

FOREMAN: Or maybe 13,000 and counting. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

J. KING: Now a quick look at what is "On the Radar" for tomorrow. A new report expected on a problem we're all coming to grips with -- skyrocketing drug prices. Families USA will release a survey of the 20 best-selling drugs and the very, very different prices they go for, depending on where you shop.

And tomorrow is the busiest day of the year for, you guessed it, the postal service. Add in bad weather out West and the transit strike here in New York, and it could get dicey.

In the headlines tomorrow, and "On the Radar" tonight. That's all for this edition of 360. I'm John King, in for Anderson Cooper. Larry King is next.

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