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Floods and Wildfires; Miners' Final Moments; Sliced Texas Stays; Dems' Spiritual Awakening; Cruise Control?; Lost at Sea; Fallen Star; Anchors Away

Aired June 28, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. We start the hour with stories from the flood. Flooding that has taken at least nine lives already in the Northeast and is forcing evacuation orders for more than 200,000 people.

An incredible picture tonight, especially along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Estimates are that nearly 2 million gallons of water have been flowing in the wake of days of rain -- 2 million gallons every second, flowing and overflowing.

CNN's Allan Chernoff is knee-deep in the flood waters in Binghamton, New York.

CNN's Jason Carroll is downstream in northeastern Pennsylvania, which is where we begin tonight -- Jason.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rivers overflowing here are flooding streets and homes; 200,000 have been ordered to evacuate from the region. But Loretta Stakakis (ph) hasn't left. Not yet.

LORETTA STAKAKIS (ph), ORDERED TO EVACUATE: She protects our house. To a certain extent, she does it.

CARROLL: And do you think she's going to protect you this time?

STAKAKIS: I hope so. I hope so.

CARROLL: Her son hasn't evacuated either. He lives next door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've lifted everything, fearing for the worst case scenario, brought everything to the highest point possible.

CARROLL: The water in his home is already rising in the basement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water right now, if I was to get down there, I would say probably at my mid waist. And you're probably talking at least four feet, maybe a little over four feet in that basement right now.

CARROLL: The Susquehanna River in the northeastern part of the state is expected to crest at 35 feet, 13 feet above flood stage, just shy of the 41-foot levee protecting it.

But its swollen waters have reached Loretta's Stakakis's home just outside Wilkes-Barre. Still she has faith the water will not rise any higher.

It's not clear how many of the 200,000 people ordered to evacuate have actually left the area. At least three people have died and that number could rise.

Rescue crews in Bear Creek Mountain responded to reports of two children swept away by floodwaters as they played near the river's edge. Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell has declared a disaster emergency in 46 of the state's 67 counties.

GOV. ED RENDELL, PENNSYLVANIA: We are still bracing for what may come. The National Weather Service has downgraded where they think the flood crest will be almost everywhere.

CARROLL: In the Manniock (ph) neighborhood of Philadelphia, several children were rescued Friday one flooded area. And in Westfall Township in Pike County, floodwaters there surrounded homes, forcing evacuations.

Residents along the Schuylkill River in southern Pennsylvania were also asked to evacuate. Back north, near Wilkes-Barre, emergency crews continue keeping watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been pretty bad. A lot of roads shut down in the area. And it's only going to get worse over the next couple of hours.


COOPER: Jason, you talked about two young boys swept away, rescue efforts under way. Any update on that?

CARROLL (on camera): Absolutely, Anderson. We spoke to emergency crews who tell us that unfortunately, they did recover the bodies of one of those young boys. They are still searching for the other one, but definitely some grim news for people down here in this region of Pennsylvania.

COOPER: Oh, that is the worst news possible. Jason, appreciate it, thank you.

This area of Pennsylvania has seen the rivers overflow before. Here's the raw data. About 34 years ago to the day, on June 22, 1972, it was Hurricane Agnes which hit the state, forcing the evacuation of more than 100,000 people in the Wilkes-Barre area. Forty-eight deaths were reported in the state. The damages estimated then at $2.1 billion. Tonight, 46 counties in Pennsylvania are under a state of emergency, including counties in and around Philadelphia. And as Jason just reported, they are worried about the Schuylkill and the Delaware Rivers as well. Some parts of New Jersey are on the alert as well. And farther up the Susquehanna, in Binghamton, New York, levees are nearly at the breaking point.

That's where we find CNN's Allan Chernoff -- Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, an incredible illustration of the power of Mother Nature tonight. Normally, the bank of the Susquehanna River is about 120 yards from where I'm standing. But as you can see, the river has redefined itself and is flowing rapidly just behind me.

The house in the distance, that blue home with the American flag, well, the basement, totally underwater. The first floor, a good majority of it also underwater. This house over here we showed you earlier in the program, seven feet of water in the basement over there.

But tonight, the owner and friends and family are still in the house. And the owner and some of his family members are planning to actually sleep there. He was ordered to evacuate. He refused. That other house, they did evacuate last night at about 3:00 in the morning.

Now, we visited a motorcycle building shop earlier today. The basement there, also entirely flooded. They have three pumps, but nonetheless, the water was just going up and up and up, and a tremendous amount of damage. The owner there said he probably lost $200,000 to $300,000. That's how much he makes perhaps in six months. So he said it's going to set him back terribly.

None of these people have told us they have flood insurance because it's simply so expensive.

But the situation here in Binghamton could have been far worse because of the flood walls that were built here in the 1940s after a horrific flood in 1932. Those flood walls generally held. Of course, there were areas where the water was flowing right over those walls. There were some areas where the water was flowing through cracks. But generally, those walls saved the city of Binghamton today.

And particularly interesting is the fact that we had a warm, sunny day today. No rain at all. But all this water is from the three prior days. About 3,000 people evacuated in this immediate region, including some folks from Lourdes Hospital, approximately 100 patients.

But tonight we can at least report some good news to you because as you can see over here, the water actually has begun to recede. Earlier this evening, it was all the way up here. And you can see the debris. And we step back, we've got a good two yards between the high tide, essentially, and where the water stands right now.

So Anderson, at least it appears there's some good news here right now.

COOPER: It certainly seems like that, thank you. Allan, thank you.

Too much water in the Northeast, too little in the Southwest. Large fires burning in California, Nevada, and Arizona, including a big one that has forced the evacuation of parts of the Grand Canyon.

CNN's Dan Simon is there.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nature ignited this massive wildfire with a lightning strike. More than 58,000 acres have burned in this Arizona forest, only miles from the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. The view from above showed it is far from under control, as smoke filled the sky from all directions.

Helicopters have been dumping water on the flames, but it's done little to help.

(On camera): From this vantage point, seeing all these trees killed off by the fire looks to be devastating. But forestry experts don't look at it that way. They're thinking long-term, very long- term.

BRIAN STEINHARDT, NATIONAL FOREST SERVICE: It's an OK thing. It really is. It will regenerate itself. Not in my lifetime, not in my kids' lifetime. But forests have been around for thousands of years and they're still here.

SIMON (voice-over): The National Forest Service was content letting this fire burn, saying fires like this help keep forests in good shape.

The problem with this blaze, it took an unexpected turn. And fire crews say they needed to get aggressive with it to prevent any kind of threat to homes or property.

The biggest headache so far has been for tourists who are unable to see the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Carol Lavanoff and her family made their reservations more than a year ago and drove all the way from Cleveland.

And you were to go stay in your cabin on the north rim and look at the views?

CAROL LEVANOFF, TOURIST: Look at the views, do hiking, have picnic lunches. You know, the whole nine yards. And that didn't happen.

SIMON: It's even more frustrating for people living here. Tim Balsemo works as a waiter at a Grand Canyon restaurant, and is paying money out of his own pocket to stay at a motel.

TIM BALSEMO, RESIDENT: This is my first time actually having to deal with anything even close to this. I mean, they've had smaller fires and things like that, but never anything to this kind of extreme where they've actually shut down and had to evacuate everyone.

SIMON: With only a fraction of the fire contained, it's not clear when the north rim will reopen. Instead, tourists and residents alike will have to settle for a different kind of wonder from Mother Nature.


COOPER: So then how did the crews do battling the fires today?

SIMON (on camera): Well, Anderson, this is the largest wildfire being fought in the U.S. right now. But crews today say they actually made good progress. The weather conditions were ideal. The temperatures were cooler. Humidity a bit higher. Not much wind really to speak of.

But given these bone dry conditions here and everywhere else in the Southwest, it's going to remain a challenge -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dan, appreciate it.

Moving on, new information tonight about the Sago Mine disaster. The young miner who defied all odds and survived, he describes his friends' final desperate moments underground. Coming up, what he told investigators about the air packs that were supposed to work.

Also, more proof perhaps that politics really does make strange bed fellows. Some high profile Democrats embracing religion. We'll look at why they are taking a page perhaps from Republicans. They say they've embraced religion all along.

Plus this...


CAROL CARVER, MERRIAN CARVER'S MOTHER: Every time we turned a corner trying to find a piece of our puzzle, trying to find our daughter, we -- we were the only ones interested.


COOPER: Their daughter boarded a cruise ship and never came home. Now they are suing the cruise line and Congress is considering tougher rules for reporting crimes on cruise ships.

Those stories and more when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, new information on exactly what happened in Sago. The families of the 12 Sago Miners who died nearly six months ago are slowly getting some answers to the questions that still remain.

The one miner, who against all odds survived, Miner Randy McCloy, is filling in many of the blanks. And today we learn some more.


COOPER (voice-over): So far, in public, Randal McCloy has been a man of few words.

RANDAL MCCLOY, SOLE SURVIVOR, SAGO MINE DISASTER: I'd just like to thank everybody for their thoughts and prayers. I believe that's it.

COOPER: But he has been talking to investigators. Just last week he gave an interview to state and federal officials; and his words, made public today, shed new light on the final moments of the doomed Sago Mine crew.

McCloy told investigators that after the blast, Foreman Martin Junior Toller took control and told his men to put on their oxygen packs. But four of the packs wouldn't work, something mine safety officials have disputed after testing the packs.

McCloy said he tried all four, including one that seemed to have a broken valve. "You put air into it," he told investigators, "you moved it, but there was nothing going on with it. That's what told me right there it was broken."

McCloy told investigators he shared his oxygen with the others. He also said that the men hung a cloth barrier to block smoke and debris.

Then Foreman Toller and Thomas Anderson went exploring for a way out. They were chased back by thick smoke.

The men huddled together, believing that a seismographic machine used to detect motion was above them, waiting for a signal. "I figured they'd bring that machine down and would have found us, would have drilled the hole in the right spot and would have took us out of there," McCloy said to investigators. "That's what I expected. I was expecting to hear shots fired on the roof...and didn't hear nothing. We banged and banged and banged, everyone did."

The banging was in vain. A Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesman said today that seismographic equipment wasn't used because rescuers thought they knew where the miners were.

McCloy told investigators that when all these efforts had failed, he felt as if "all of our options were diminished to nothing."

Twelve men died in the Sago Mine. One of the mysteries that investigators and doctors are still trying to answer is exactly how Randal McCloy miraculously survived to tell about it.


COOPER (on camera): Well, Randy McCloy spent 21 days in a coma and is undergoing extensive physical and neurological rehabilitation.

Earlier this month, McCloy and his wife, Anna, met with President Bush in Washington just before Mr. Bush signed the Mining Improvement and New Emergency Response Act.

Turning now to Washington politics and the race for control of the Congress, tonight Democrats are working on a new strategy to gain the upper hand. And they're seeking the blessing of churchgoers. We'll show you how they're doing it.

Mysterious disappearances, as well tonight, on cruise ships, raising questions as to how safe they really are. One lawmaker is in Washington now taking on the industry. We'll hear from him.

And star wars -- Star Jones, Barbara Walters, betrayal, a multimillion dollar cat fight in "The View" today. Well, at least the latest chapter of it, ahead on 360. It's only going to get nastier we think.


COOPER: Apparently, it's A-OK to carve up a state like a Thanksgiving turkey. Today the Supreme Court stood behind most of the Texas redistricting plan that essentially gave Republicans extra seats in Washington. It's a big victory, of course, for a man who was pressured to give up his own Congressional seat.

CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley reports.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six different opinions from nine justices on three related issues will keep judicial watchers busy for years. But politicos cut to the chase -- advantage Tom DeLay.

CHARLIE STENHOLM, FORMER TEXAS CONGRESSMAN: Oh, you'd be very foolish if you didn't say that. I mean, obviously he was very successful in getting rid of Democrats and replacing us with Republicans. And you've got to give him credit for that.

CROWLEY: Basically, the Supreme Court upheld the bulk of a Texas redistricting plan, a Republican-friendly political map driven and largely written by Tom DeLay. The justices rejected Democratic arguments that redistricting violated the law because it was not done in conjunction with the 10-year census cycle.

State legislators, the high court said, can redistrict when they want.

REP. RAHM EMMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: All map drawings are political processes with a partisan tinge. But if you thought before you need a veneer for it, the Supreme Court just ripped that off.

CROWLEY: In a partial victory for critics the high court did rule that the lines drawn around one southwest district diluted the Hispanic vote, thus violating the Voting Rights Act. That district will have to be redrawn.

Still, the bulk of what happened in Texas remains intact, as designed by DeLay, who first raised buckets of money to help put Republicans in the Texas legislature, then used the new majority to pass a new Congressional map to favor Republican elections to the U.S. Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There being 17 ayes and 14 nays...

CROWLEY: Democrats went bats.

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: In Washington, we know him as Tom the Hammer. But here, it's Tom the Knife, who would carve up our state and split and divide our communities.

CROWLEY: Despite the hew and cry, it worked. In 2004, with newly drawn Texas districts, four Texas Democrats lost their seats, including 26-year veteran Charlie Stenholm.

STENHOLM: The result in Texas has been chaos, the bitterness and the anger. You know, it may be legal, but being legal doesn't always make it right.

CROWLEY: In one of those twists only politics can produce, DeLay may have won this battle after losing the war. He is out of office in large part because he's been indicted for violating Texas campaign law, while funding Republican races to win the majority in the Texas legislature so they could redraw congressional districts to win more Republican seats in Washington.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Although Texas may be a barrier, Democrats are still hoping they can win enough seats to take over Congress this fall. Tonight they're working on a new strategy to get the faithful to believe in them.

CNN's John Roberts reports.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside this Washington, D.C., church, a revival of sorts is underway. A rebirth of religion in the Democratic Party.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people's lives.

ROBERTS: Leading the reawakening is Barack Obama, the superstar senator from Illinois, worried that the Democrats have so avoided religion for so long that many Americans view them as a party of secular snobs.

OBAMA: If we're not talking about how our values inform our public policies, then we are going to be vulnerable to the accusation that we are secular and can't speak to the things that are important to people. ROBERTS: At stake is a huge swathe of voters across the Midwest and through the South -- white evangelicals. They count for nearly one in four people who voted in 2004, and they went overwhelmingly for President Bush.

Jim Wallis is author of the book, "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It."

REV. JIM WALLIS, EVANGELICAL ACTIVIST: It's the biggest mistake Democrats have made. To cede the entire territory of religion and values to a religious and political right, who then narrow the issues only to abortion, gay marriage, then manipulate them politically.

ROBERTS (on camera): A large chunk of those Christian voters are religious conservatives and would likely never go Democratic. The rest could be up for grabs and there are enough of them that they could make the difference, particularly in a presidential election.

(Voice-over): Democrats are making extra effort to build trust with moderate evangelicals, calling on a religious anti-abortion governor, Virginia's Tim Kaine, to give this year's state of the union response, creating a congressional working group to promote and share faith-based values, rolling out the party's big guns to drive the message home.

REP. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: It's really important that we as people of faith enlarge the debate in this country. It's been too narrow for too long now.

ROBERTS: Enlarging the debate means expanding the pot of so- called moral and values issues beyond abortion and same-sex marriage to include poverty, hunger, human rights, and creation care, a new name for environmentalism. It's a way, Democrats hope, to get in the door with religious voters and entice them to listen.

AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: It's about saying, I am not so different from you. I understand where you're coming from. And, let's get that out of the way and now let's talk about issues.

ROBERTS: So does the Democratic Party understand where religious voters are coming from? A Pew poll conducted last year suggests, no. Only 29 percent of Americans describe Democrats as religion-friendly, compared to 55 percent who thought Republicans were.

Senator Obama believes his party is beginning to do better, but he warns colleagues any demonstrations of faith had better be authentic.

OBAMA: The politicians have come, and they're clapping kind of off rhythm. To the choir. We don't need that.

ROBERTS: Jim Wallis also believes Democrats are reconnecting with faith. And while it may not have much impact in this election year, by 2008, Wallis expects healthy competition for values voters.

WALLIS: In 2008 the perception will no longer be that God is a Republican.

ROBERTS: A gospel, Democrats hope, leads all the way to the White House.

John Roberts, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Something else in Washington today will be of great interest to millions of cruise ship passengers. Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays wants cruise lines to have to report crimes and passenger disappearances in a timely manner. We'll talk with him and we'll look at exactly why cruise ships aren't already doing that. We'll also explore the mysterious disappearance of a woman who went to sea and never came back.

And it's the talk of the talk shows. That's right, not the cruise ships. But do we have a picture? Star Jones and Barbara Walters, there they are, parting ways after butting heads. We'll check out their respective points of view. And yes, it got nastier today. Just when you think it couldn't get any nastier, it has.


COOPER: In Washington today Congressman Christopher Shays introduced a bill that he hopes will make one of the most popular vacations safer. The bill would require tighter rules for reporting crimes on cruise ships.

The disappearance of a Connecticut man, George Allen Smith, IV, last July during a honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean focused Shay's attention on the issue. But of course, there are a lot of other cases as well.

I spoke to Congressman Shays earlier.


COOPER: Congressman Shays, have you been surprised by some of the testimony the family members of these people who have gone missing on sea? I mean, they all say that these cruise lines basically make it impossible for them to find out any information.

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Well, they clearly don't cooperate. And what that tells you is the cruise line industry is more interested in just kind of getting rid of it instead of dealing with it.

Sadly, if you want to commit the perfect crime, it may be that's where you do it, on a ship. If you're able to dispose of the evidence and throw them overboard, that's part of it. And then if the cruise line industry has this vested interest in saying someone is missing, rather than someone has been brutalized or killed, that's another.

And then if they don't have the capability to properly investigate, and then if they can kind of deal with, say, a Turkish government or another government instead of the United States government, that's another issue.

COOPER: Today you introduced the Cruise Line Accurate Safety Statistic Act. What exactly will that do?

SHAYS: Well, first it will make sure we have the statistics because all the statistics now are voluntarily produced. So we want them to be required by law to provide accurate statistics on the number of missing people, the number of potential deaths, the number of assaults, the number of rapes.

COOPER: I just want to quickly read the statistics of what they have released so far. From 15 cruise lines from 2003 to 2005, they say there were 178 complaints of sexual assault, four robberies and 24 missing persons. They say that's out of, you know, some 31 million passengers.

Do you believe those statistics?

SHAYS: Well, first, I don't believe the statistics. They say, you know, we're a hotel, so we shouldn't have to report. But then they say, you know, we're like a small city. Well, they are like a small city. But they don't have a police force. They don't have investigative forces. And they don't alert folks soon enough about the case.

COOPER: So your bill will make them keep proper statistics?

SHAYS: Keep proper statistics, make sure that they have someone capable to investigate a crime, require that the Department of Homeland Security determine the quality of their equipment and their personnel to investigate crime.

COOPER: It was I guess the disappearance really of George Smith from the Royal Caribbean Ship that drew you to this cause.

SHAYS: What his case did was alert us to the insensitivity of the cruise line industry that really wanted to dismiss this. And then in the process of having hearings, we started having families who had been victimized by the cruise industry.

One man whose daughter was missing, they knew his daughter was missing, they never told the family. They just collected her stuff and ultimately disposed of it. And he had to get a special investigator to find out where his daughter was.

COOPER: Yes, the Carver family. You know, the cruise industry and the group that represents them say that cruises are an exceptionally safe vacation. Do you think that's true? And if so, why is the law necessary?

SHAYS: Well, let me tell you, it may be. Maybe overall it's safe. Maybe their statistics are totally accurate. But their conduct with people who have been victimized suggests differently. There have been a number of rapes, a number of assaults. There have been young children who become drunk and gone overboard. There just is a lot more to this story than first met my eye when we started out looking at Mr. Smith.

COOPER: We'll continue to follow it, Christopher Shays, Congressman, appreciate it. Thank you.

SHAYS: Thank you.


COOPER: So the issue has been around for years, but it took repeated tragedies and the passionate efforts of grieving families to really connect the dots. They started a group. Their Web page is One of their founding members is Ken Carver, the father Congressman Shays just referred to.

Carver's grown daughter went on a cruise and she has never come home.


COOPER (voice-over): She was, her father says, vivacious; and at 41, financially independent. Merrian Carver loved to take cruises.

KENDALL CARVER, MERRIAN CARVER'S FATHER: I would say cruises were probably Merrian's most favorite activity. I mean, she was very sophisticated, loved to get dressed up. And she really liked to take cruises, and that's something that she did probably maybe once a year.

COOPER: In August 2004, Merrian Carver, divorced and the mother of a teenager, boarded the cruise ship Mercury in Seattle, bound for a seven-day cruise to Alaska and back. It was the last time her parents, her ex-husband and her daughter ever saw her again.

K. CARVER: She did not tell me she was booked on a cruise. And she didn't necessarily -- Merrian was a private person who wouldn't necessarily share everything she did. I have four daughters. They don't share what they're doing. Merrian did not share that with me.

COOPER: This grainy black and white photograph from a security camera is the last known image of Merrian, taken as she boarded the ship.

Only one day out of Seattle, the cruise line says the steward assigned to her cabin reported her missing to his supervisor.

Each day, the steward later said in a deposition, he reported her missing. And each day, he said the supervisor's response was the same, quote, "you do your job. You continue to do your job."

For its part, the cruise line says they do not monitor guests, and it's not uncommon for people to stay in rooms not belonging to them.

CAROL CARVER, MERRIAN CARVER'S MOTHER: We had no idea where she was. Whether she was -- where she was. I mean, it's just unbelievable that, you know, you could lose somebody. COOPER: Her father says Merrian Carver had been emotionally distraught because of her divorce. And at first, they didn't even know she was missing because she hadn't told them of her plans. The first they say they knew of her disappearance was when their granddaughter phoned.

K. CARVER: Their daughter called me and said that she'd tried to call her mother, they talked, I don't know, every day or every other day, and didn't get an answer. She said, do you know where mother is?

COOPER: They did not. But they ultimately filed a missing persons report with police here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Merrian lived in this apartment building.

The police, checking her credit card purchases, learned about the trip on board the Mercury. Purchased, said the cruise line, only two days before departure. The first time anyone knew for sure she was missing.

K. CARVER: So I called the cruise line. And said, gee, you know, our daughter's bought a ticket on your ship, was she on your ship? And about three, roughly three days later, we're now 27 days into the time this had started, they called back and said, yes, we've got her bag in storage, we found it in storage. It's got her name, her social security number, it's got some computer disks in it, and we'll mail it to you.

COOPER: Not until September 30, more than a month after the disappearance, did the cruise line file this report with the FBI. A disappearance the company says it was not aware of until the family intervened.

C. CARVER: The whole story is the Royal Caribbean cruise line just absolutely -- every time we turned a corner, trying to find a piece of our puzzle, trying to find our daughter, we -- we were the only ones interested.


COOPER (on camera): Well, there's more to the Carver story coming up. Ken has fought through his grief. We'll have the latest on his battle with the cruise line and tell you what he's learned so far about his daughter's fate, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Before the break we told you about the mysterious disappearance of cruise ship passenger Merrian Carver. Her apparent death, part of the emerging issue of cruise ship passengers who never returned.

As we mentioned earlier, a bill proposed on Capitol Hill would require tighter rules for reporting crimes on cruise ships. Merrian's father accuses cruise line employees of being uninterested in determining her fate. Still he persists.


K. CARVER: There are other people involved in that corporation. There's a board of directors who has some responsibility to the passengers. And I would hope they would say, gee, we've got to make sure this doesn't happen to some other family in the future.

COOPER (voice-over): For Ken and Carol Carver, the disappearance of their 41-year-old daughter, Merrian, on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Mercury, has been both emotionally and financially devastating.

They say they've spent $75,000 in fees for attorneys and private investigators in the 15 months since she disappeared. The Royal Caribbean ship she sailed on was crowded, 2,000 passengers, a floating small town.

KRISTOFFER GARIN, AUTHOR, "DEVILS OF THE DEEP BLUE SEA": There's one thing you have in every small town in the country which you will never see on a cruise ship, and that's the police, an impartial third party whose job is to investigate and solve crimes with no financial conflict of interest.

COOPER: Kristoffer Garin is the author of a book on the cruise lines.

GARIN: This is not something they like to see. It can cost their cruise line hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars an hour, a day, when they have to stop these cruises for an investigation.

COOPER: The Carvers have filed a lawsuit alleging negligence against Royal Caribbean. And because of it, the company said in a statement to CNN that it was, quote, "somewhat limited in what it could say in response." And said the Carvers have suffered, quote "an inconsolable loss," but added cruise line authorities believe that Merrian Carver, quote, "appears to have committed suicide on our ship."

Her parents say that even if Merrian did jump overboard and Carol Carver, for one, does not believe it, it is immaterial. Authorities on the ship, they say, should have quickly informed them of her disappearance.

C. CARVER: We are hoping that maybe some people that were on this ship, maybe someone's out there seeing this program, that maybe they saw something that might tell us, you know, of what happened to Merrian. Did they see her get off at one of the ports? You know, was she maybe -- you know, you'd think in the middle of the night, you know, was she drugged? Someone could drug her and literally walk her off the ship.

COOPER: Royal Caribbean fired the supervisor who failed to report Merrian Carver's disappearance, but added, sadly, "even if he had shown better judgment -- which we wish he had -- there is no reason to believe we could have averted the tragic outcome." She is not the first American to disappear at sea on a cruise ship. According to a magazine, the "Business Journal of Jacksonville," eight other passengers have disappeared in the past five and a half years, a small number among the millions who have taken vacations at sea, say cruise ship operators, who insist they can't monitor the comings and goings of their passengers.

GARIN: The cruise lines do not take responsibility for their individual guests. They check in as adults, they behave themselves as they behave themselves.


COOPER (on camera): It is a terribly sad story.

Earlier tonight I spoke with Ken Carver.


COOPER: Mr. Carver, it's hard to describe what you and your family have been through in just trying to get answers from this cruise line. I mean, after Merrian disappeared, it took the ship about a month or so to even report your daughter's disappearance to the authorities?

K. CARVER: Well, they didn't report Merrian until we contacted them, Anderson. In effect, if we'd never contacted them, they never would have reported Merrian missing.

COOPER: And you were able to discover by basically paying tens of thousands of dollars in bills to attorneys and private investigators that a steward was reporting her missing every day to his superior, but nothing was done?

K. CARVER: That's exactly right. It took us four and a half months, two court orders, two subpoenas to determine that they knew from the beginning what happened to our daughter.

COOPER: Do you think that Representative Shay's new bill will improve anything, improve the way missing persons cases are handled at sea?

K. CARVER: We are really excited, Anderson, about the support of Congressman Shay and this new bill. It will require the cruise line to report an incident like Merrian in four hours.

In this case, the cruise line didn't go to the FBI for five weeks after she disappeared. They were also advised to go to the Vancouver police in the fourth week, and they chose not to take that action.

COOPER: Why do you think they have taken the actions that they have or not taken the actions? I mean, why do you think they have, in your words, impeded your investigation?

K. CARVER: I think Merrian's case is well documented. There's no question on the facts. I mean, they did everything they could do to mislead us, to delay us. They didn't keep -- her items were to be kept 90 days, they kept them -- they got rid of them immediately. We asked for videos. They said there is no videos. In fact, there should have been. So my conclusion is, Anderson, either they were totally incompetent in following their own protocol, or they were covering something up. That's the only conclusion I can come to.

COOPER: Your daughter's been missing now for almost two years. Do you think you're any closer to finding out what happened to her?

K. CARVER: The answer is, possibly yes, Anderson. As a result of someone seeing your show, in the last two weeks we've been contacted. And it took the person a lot of effort to find us -- concerning new information concerning Merrian.

COOPER: This is someone who was aboard the ship?

K. CARVER: This was a crew member on the ship -- a former crew member on the ship. And he has referred us to additional crew members on the ship, one of which we've been in communication with, and one of which has indicated that the story among the crew is that one of the individuals on that ship, one of the crew members, was involved with Merrian.

COOPER: And to you, that is new information and may be significant?

K. CARVER: Oh, it's highly significant because it starts to answer all the questions that we've had on Merrian. Why she wasn't reported missing. Why her items were, at the end of the trip, just put in storage or thrown away. If it's true -- at this point, it's hearsay. But it's the story coming from crew members.

COOPER: Well, again, I can't imagine what you and your family have been through just searching for answers. I mean, there's nothing worse than not knowing, I guess. And I appreciate you coming on today to talk about this bill and also to talk about Merrian.

Thank you very much, Mr. Carver.

K. CARVER: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Now, Royal Caribbean side. Earlier I spoke with an attorney for the cruise line, Jeffrey Maltzman.


COOPER: Jeffrey Maltzman, in the case of Merrian Carver's disappearance, why did it take the cruise line so long to report it?

JEFFREY MALTZMAN, ATTORNEY FOR ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE: Anderson, I think it's important to realize that the cruise line reported her disappearance immediately to the FBI once they realized she was missing. But cruise lines don't follow their passengers around 24 hours a day. She wasn't traveling with anybody. And therefore, nobody reported her missing during the course of the cruise, other than a cabin attendant who'd noticed she wasn't sleeping in her room.

COOPER: Well, I mean, that seems to be significant, that cabin attendant every day reporting her missing to his supervisor. And was told to just keep doing your job.

MALTZMAN: Well, the cabin attendant noticed she wasn't sleeping in her room, which isn't unusual on a cruise ship. Many guests will be traveling with other friends, traveling with other people, may book a room, but arrange to stay in another room with somebody else that they're traveling. The cabin attendant himself wasn't particularly distressed, but he did follow the company's protocol, reported it to his supervisor.

Unfortunately, the supervisor didn't do what we wish in hindsight he could have done, which is reported it to management, at least by the end of the cruise.

COOPER: But when the cruise was over and her room was still empty, except for her clothes, it would appear that the cruise just boxed up her clothes and put them in storage and never reported her missing.

MALTZMAN: I absolutely agree that the chief steward, the chief housekeeper should have reported that to the company. He was fired for failing to do so. This is a company with 40,000 to 50,000 employees and unfortunately a company's procedures are only as strong as the weakest employee in that chain.

COOPER: Why, though, did it take some four months in order for the members of the Carver family to be able to depose actual crew members?

MALTZMAN: The first time that the Carver family asked to depose a crew member, the company said they were more than happy to allow them to do that. There was never a resistance to allowing them to do that. They simply didn't get around to asking us until they had figured out that she was in fact missing.

COOPER: Kendall Carver now says that a former crew member recently contacted him and indicated that the story among the crew on that ship was that one of the members of the ship was involved with Merrian Carver. Do you know anything about that?

MALTZMAN: I've heard no such substantiation of that. I know that the FBI has looked into this and found no evidence of foul play and has confirmed that to Mr. Carver in e-mail correspondence.

COOPER: Congressman Shay says that for cruise ships, one, he doesn't necessarily believe or doesn't frankly know whether the statistics so far provided by cruise ships in general are accurate, and says that basically, that the government, that citizens shouldn't have to rely on self-reporting by cruise lines, that there should be some standards about how crimes or missing people or people overboard or any incidents at sea are reported. Should there be some set standards?

MALTZMAN: Well you know, I'll tell you, I've had the privilege of representing Royal Caribbean for over a decade. And from what I've seen throughout all those years, they've always reached out to law enforcement every time and any time they had any indication of even a potential crime.

I don't know of any other private entities anywhere in America that have a policy of reporting an alleged or possible crime, even when the victim says I don't want it reported.

COOPER: Appreciate you joining us for your perspective. Thank you.

MALTZMAN: Anderson, thank you for having me on.


COOPER: Well, just ahead, the war of words on TV. Star Jones Reynolds versus Barbara Walters. What they said, what she said, and then what she said back, and how it got nastier today, and the blow by blow.

Oh, there's so much to talk about. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, yesterday, as many of you know, was a sad, sad day in television. It was the day we all learned that the rumors were, yes, in fact true, that come this fall we're going to have to learn how to survive, somehow, without Star Jones Reynolds.


STAR JONES, TV HOST: Something's been on my heart for a little bit. And after much prayer and counsel, I feel like this is the right time to tell you that the show's moving in another direction for its 10th season and I will not be returning as co-host next year.


COOPER: Yes. Well, apparently the others didn't know she was going to do that. Reynolds is leaving ABC's "The View." She told "People" magazine that she felt like she was being fired.

The news hit us hard, pretty well around here. There were a lot of tears here, I don't mind saying. Before we were able to wipe off the tears, we got whacked again. This morning Star was completely erased from the show. She wasn't even in the opening credits.

Today Barbara Walters explained why.


BARBARA WALTERS, TV HOST: We didn't expect her to make the statement yesterday. She gave us no warning. And we were taken by surprise.

But the truth is that Star has known for months that ABC did not want to renew her contract, and that she would not be asked back in the fall.

The network made this decision based on a variety of reasons, which I won't go into now.


COOPER: Mighty cold in this room, isn't it? The lesson? Do not mess with Barbara Walters.

This little spat brought a new twist to something we've been seeing a lot of lately, a lot of anchor goodbyes.

Just this morning Charles Gibson said adios to "Good Morning America." The list has gotten so long, it's getting hard to keep track of who's leaving what.

As CNN's Jeanne Moos reports, it's enough -- well, it's enough to make you kind of tired. Watch.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Toast after toast after toast. We've had one too many farewell broadcasts. Goodbye Meredith.


MOOS: Just leave, already. Kiss after kiss. Tear after tear. We're suffering from goodbye fatigue, exhausted from trying to catch the departing host with a catch in his voice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, America. For 19 years, my mornings have -- almost made it.

MOOS: And please, no more dancing hosts. And hostesses. And no more singing.

Connie's goodbye was campy. Katie's was syrupy sweet. And Meredith's a risky roast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would Rosie O'Donnell do?

MOOS: And please, no more montages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The highlights. The laughter.

MOOS (on camera): I have an announcement of my own to make. I am not leaving CNN. I am not saying goodbye. You're going to have to suffer through a lot more of these pieces.

(Voice-over): Our favorite goodbye turned into a cat fight. What was supposed to be a segment of "The View" on air conditioning was interrupted by Star Jones.

STAR JONES, "THE VIEW": I apologize for interrupting you. Something's been on my heart for a little bit. The show's moving in another direction for its 10th season. And I will not be returning as co-host next year.

MOOS: The four co-hosts held hands, they sang each other's praises. But overnight, the graphics department changed this -- to this.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": And then there were three. But the truth is that Star has known for months that ABC did not want to renew her contract.

MOOS: Star told "People" magazine she felt like she'd been fired, and Barbara said she felt she'd been betrayed.

WALTERS: So it is becoming uncomfortable for us to pretend that everything is the same at this table. And therefore, regrettably, Star will no longer be in this program.

MOOS: Sort of makes Dan Rather's cold departure from CBS seem cheery.

Watching all these goodbyes takes...


MOOS: And a goodbye gesture can back fire in hindsight -- make that behind sight.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, FORMER CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I will always keep you near and dear to me. Always.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Man. It's tough. It's a tough, tough business, I tell you. I don't think I'm going anywhere. At least I haven't been told yet. Hmm. More of 360 in a moment -- I think.


COOPER: Still here.

Big day tomorrow on, "AMERICAN MORNING." Here's Soledad O'Brien with details.


Coming up tomorrow, my exclusive interview with Singer and Activist Bono. One year after the Live Aid concerts, did the promise of aid to Africa live up to reality? What do they need now?

U2's Bono is coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING." We begin at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Thanks, Soledad.

"LARRY KING" is next, with more on the flooding troubles across parts of the Northeast.

See you tomorrow.


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