Skip to main content
U.S. Edition
Search
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

JonBenet: True Confession?; Parked Karr; Karr's Past; In Her Own Words; Is Karr a Killer?; Life Inside War; Iran's Role in Iraq; Tiny Pill, Big Debate; Bruised Cruise, Mysterious Vault; Tropical Trouble; Tornado Touchdown; Pluto's Not

Aired August 24, 2006 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us in this hour of 360. As strange and twisted new details keep coming to light, John Karr arrives in Boulder, perhaps to face murder charges.
ANNOUNCER: In Boulder, in handcuffs, John Karr arrives in Colorado, accused of murdering JonBenet Ramsey. So now he's there, where's the evidence?

The Iraq you don't see. Children without schools, families without food and people risking their lives just to get electricity. Tonight an exclusive look at refugees inside their own country.

And the universe as we know it is changing. Tonight, how a little planet named Pluto fell from grace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're small and unusual, you have to fight for your life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

Thanks for joining us. We begin with John Karr from Bangkok to Boulder. His strange and disturbing odyssey took him tonight to a county jail cell and within days to face charges, we expect, of kidnapping, sexual assault and capital murder. That is the new mugshot that we just got about an hour and a half ago, taken in Boulder.

JonBenet Ramsey was murdered now nearly 10 years ago. John Karr's self-professed confession, real or imagined -- or connection, I should say, came to light only days ago.

Since then we have learned an awful lot about who he is and in the coming days and weeks, perhaps even months, we'll learn whether or not he is a murder.

Several reports tonight, starting in Boulder with CNN's Susan Candiotti.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Karr's latest mugshot, taken at the Boulder County Jail. His three-hour flight from California to Colorado aboard a state police plane shrouded in mystery.

Authorities said they were worried about his safety. His new home, one of these cells after being fingerprinted and checked out by a psychiatrist.

Next stop, court, within three days. The Boulder district attorney says JonBenet Ramsey's suspected killer will be charged with one count each of felony murder, premeditated murder, first and second degree kidnapping and sexual assault of a child. Karr will be advised of his rights, including a right to remain silent, something he hasn't been so far.

JOHN MARK KARR, SUSPECTED OF KILLING JONBENET RAMSEY: No. Her death was, was an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said you were in the basement?

KARR: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: He's expected to be held without bond, but can ask for a hearing to challenge it. After that he could be back in court in another two to three days when charges are formally filed and face a longer preliminary hearing about a month later.

That's when the D.A. has to show just enough evidence to try to prove to a judge that Karr murdered the 6-year-old beauty queen.

It's expected prosecutors may ask for a DNA sample.

CRAIG SILVERMAN, FORMER DENVER PROSECUTOR: Can somebody have picked up chewing gum or a cigarette or a glass of water he had sipped from. There are lots of ways to get a person's DNA, surreptitiously or through court order. Once he gets to Colorado, of course, they're going to go through the legal process, but you would expect they already have had chances to get his DNA.

CANDIOTTI: Despite reports the little girl's DNA sample was contaminated, experts familiar with the case insist it was properly stored and will not present any comparison problems.

Attorneys who have worked on the investigation say if Karr can't be linked to a spot of blood found on the child's underwear, the case against him may collapse.

Meantime, prosecutors are trying to keep a secret, what evidence they have, including what is contained in e-mails and letters Karr wrote to Colorado Journalist and Professor Michael Tracey that led police to the pale thin teacher in Thailand.

John Karr may finally get his wish, allegedly made to cops while he was moved from Thailand this week, to prove he was able to slip into the Ramsey home Christmas night 1996 and explain the death of a blonde hair beauty unsolved for nearly a decade.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (on camera): And when it comes time to enter a guilty plea, will the talkative teacher who claims he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died say he's guilty or say he's not guilty, like his legal advisors have suggested -- Anderson.

COOPER: Susan, are you expecting any rulings out of the court regarding the arrest warrant?

CANDIOTTI: We are. The judge has before him a motion to unseal that arrest warrant that was filed by the news media. Now, the court papers, those court papers should tell us what kind of evidence led authorities all the way to Thailand to pick up John Karr.

Prosecutors, in court papers, have said they don't want to unseal that because they want to interview more people. But, they have told the court, in written papers, that if they must release it, if the judge must release it, to please wait at least another two weeks -- Anderson.

COOPER: The big question, of course, is whether or not the prosecutors really had anything more than the e-mail exchange between Mr. Karr and the professor, if there was actual some other form of evidence. That is what, of course, reporters are anxious to see. Susan Candiotti, thanks for that report.

This is not John Karr's not first brush with a child murder case, nor with allegations of harboring unhealthy obsessions about young girls in general or JonBenet in particular. It bears repeating, of course, that none of that makes Mr. Karr a murderer. It does, however, add to our understanding the man now in custody.

The report now from CNN's Dan Simon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office in northern California says it once looked at Karr as a potential suspect in the death of a 12-year-old girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was a great kid.

SIMON: Georgia Moses was killed in 1997. Her body found in Petaluma, where Karr later lived. The crime remains unsolved, but authorities have ruled out Karr as a suspect.

During the course of that investigation, the sheriff's department says it was given e-mails believed to be from Karr that revealed a fascination with JonBenet Ramsey. They said the writer quote, "made uncertain allusions placing himself in the killer's role." The sheriff's office says it forwarded its finding to the Boulder authorities, who haven't commented.

WENDY HUTCHENS, CLAIMS CONTACT WITH JOHN KARR: I had to do everything possible to try to get this guy off the street.

SIMON: The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department also acknowledged that this woman, Wendy Hutchens, who appeared earlier on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE," supplied investigators with tapes of conversations she says she had with Karr.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Wasn't it kooky for you to talk to a guy like this?

HUTCHENS: It was really difficult. It was really difficult. I would cry for hours after our conversation.

SIMON: CNN has not been able to verify that it's Karr speaking on the tape. However, the voice indicates a clear infatuation with JonBenet.

CALLER: "JonBenet. God, what a powerful thing, to just be alone with that little girl. That doll face. You know she was just, so incredible in mind, and so unreal in death. She's just so alive. She's so alive. She's so alive. She's so alive. I mean, she's wonderful."

SIMON: One of Karr's former wives said he had a fascination with little girls. On ABC's "Good Morning America," a seemingly traumatized Quintata Ray (ph) says she married Karr when she was only 13 years old. Ray's parents also told GMA they remembered letters he wrote to their daughter were signed S.B.T.C., the same initials found on the JonBenet ransom note. The letters were not provided.

KARR: I love JonBenet and she died accidentally.

SIMON: Despite admissions like this, Karr's attorneys say they don't believe he's actually confessed, arguing that the media have taken his words out of context. They have advised him not to say anything further.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Dan, you're reporting that he at one point had a license to operate a sort of a child care facility, were there actually kids there? Did he ever actually do that?

SIMON (on camera): Well, again, in 1997, we are told that John Karr did apply to get a license to operate a day care facility out of his home. That license was granted. What we didn't know is whether or not he actually had children in that home. Well, today, Alabama authorities are telling us at one point there were children at that facility. They could not offer any more specific details than that. They tell us they're going over their records and hope to provide us a bit more information -- Anderson.

COOPER: Hmm, all right, Dan, appreciate it. Thanks.

More now on Wendy Hutchens, who you just saw in Dan's report. She says she has recorded conversations of John Karr. Earlier tonight she appeared on "LARRY KING LIVE." Here's Wendy Hutchens, in her own words.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUTCHENS: From the e-mails he seemed to be honest in what he was saying and I agreed to talk to him on the phone and we talked the first time for almost 3 1/2 hours. And at the end of that conversation I realized that he was a very disturbed individual and that I needed to alert the authorities.

KING: In 2001, did you start to think he hurt JonBenet?

HUTCHENS: Yes, I did. I tried very hard to get the Boulder authorities to come down, at least talk to him. I called there and sent e-mails and stuff. So, at least I was hoping that they'd come down and maybe hold him longer where we could see what other things he might have done.

KING: When did you start taping him?

HUTCHENS: Well, I knew from past experiences that if I wanted anybody to believe my conversations with this man, that I needed to have them on tape and I knew I needed, if I wanted to use them against him in a court of law, I needed law enforcement's help. So, I contacted them. Immediately they began an investigation.

KING: How did JonBenet Ramsey come up?

HUTCHENS: Well, we, when I started talking to him and the detectives we realized there was something wrong with him. And so the detectives asked me to try to get him to talk about do you have any specifics of a crime he had committed and so that they could tie him to something and they were frantically trying to connect things. And so when I finally got him to give a name, when he said JonBenet, that was the last name in the world I expected him to say.

KING: Wendy, the guy sounds pretty creepy, right?

HUTCHENS: Very creepy.

KING: Why did you continue talking to him?

HUTCHENS: Because I knew he -- there's not a doubt in my mind that he's hurt little girls.

KING: Other little girls, too?

HUTCHENS: Yes. Whether or not it's been JonBenet. But the police can't -- you can't arrest somebody just for saying these things or even writing these things. You have to have evidence against them, so. And the fact that he was an elementary schoolteacher working with our children and talking about different little girls in his class, I mean that was really unsettling. So, I would cry for hours after our conversations and it was really hard. But, you know, I had to do everything possible to try to get this guy off the street.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: You can watch "LARRY KING," of course, every night, 9:00 p.m., Eastern.

John Karr has not been convicted of sexually assaulting any child. But to some experts, his reported obsessions with children certainly raise the question of possible pedophilia. Here's the raw data about the incidents of it.

Some estimates say pedophiles make up up to 4 percent of the U.S. population. Only one-third of pedophiles say they were abused as children. As for the likelihood of relapse, researchers mixed. Some studies have found that 58 percent of pedophiles who refuse treatment relapse and abuse again.

Well, building the case against John Karr, what is next in this bizarre case now that he's in Colorado? We'll talk to a former Denver prosecutor.

Plus, what is the Church of Scientology keeping inside a top secret vault? And what are those markings on the ground? And what do they have to do with it?

Tom Cruise's contract with a movie studio was terminated this week, focusing new attention on his relationship with the church.

We'll have all that ahead.

And, oh, say it ain't so. Bye-bye, Pluto. We hardly knew you. The planet no more. Why the ninth planet has been demoted and now it's just a little teeny tiny planet, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, the Boulder County prosecutors refuse to discuss any evidence they might have against John Karr. Court documents filed this week are telling. They point to suspect not on the radar until just a couple weeks ago, to an arrest made more out of an abundance of caution, as they say, than anything else; and to a case being put together for better or worse on the fly.

Once again, for some perspective, we turn to Former Prosecutor Craig Silverman in Denver.

What does that tell you? I mean, the fact that it does seem that this case is sort of being putting together as the days past?

CRAIG SILVERMAN, FORMER DENVER CHIEF DEPUTY D.A.: I don't think so, Anderson. You know, I've thought a lot about this case. Let me run this one by you.

As you reported, Michael Tracey received a hard mail, an envelope from Bangkok. Indeed, that's how they tracked down John Mark Karr.

The police would have been derelict in their duty, had they not tested that envelope for DNA. I believe they did. They've checked it for fingerprints and other forms of forensic evidence. And something made them so alert that they sent an investigator to Bangkok, Thailand, to surveil this guy.

Now, I spoke with Jeff in your last segment about the possibility of following him around Bangkok and picking up a discarded napkin or whatever, that's not CSI stuff, that's modern criminology. And we're not talking about a run of the mill burglary, we're talking about the JonBenet Ramsey case. I believe that -- I don't know, and Mary Lacy is ethically constrained from saying whether she has a DNA match. But you can be certain that they tried to get a DNA match and they may have it had even before the arrest in Bangkok. And insofar as putting it together on the fly, once they had the evidence, we know they didn't get to talk to John Mark Karr's family members. They predictably might provide an alibi around Christmas. People tend to be with their families on Christmas.

We know that's something that wasn't done before the arrest occurred. And that may have been the exigent circumstances Mary Lacy was talking about at her brief press conference the other day.

COOPER: There's been quite a lot of speculation in the last couple of days about the condition of the DNA that was found at the crime scene, and particularly the DNA found not just underneath the fingernails of JonBenet Ramsey, but in her underwear.

CNN spoke to John Ramsey's attorney, Lin Wood, tonight and he says the DNA from JonBenet's underwear is strong and is reliable. How crucial do you think that is?

SILVERMAN: I believe it is strong and reliable. And understand that that advanced testing in 2003 probably led Mary Lacy to the startling statement, I'm clearing the Ramseys. We know it's white male DNA, we know it doesn't match John Ramsey, it couldn't be Patsy Ramsey. It was strong enough and enough of a profile that they could submit it to the FBI database. So it's just nonsense that this DNA is not quality DNA.

They might be talking about the fingernail DNA, which might have been contaminated. It was very slight. But they've got a mixed stain and they've been saying it was a cough or a sneeze, or God forbid, this man put her panties to his face.

COOPER: What do you make of the statements that Karr's first wife made to "Good Morning America," that he fantasized back then about little girls?

SILVERMAN: Well, that's not surprising. He has kind of given himself up in that regard. I'd take much more...

COOPER: Would that make it into court ever, if it went that far?

SILVERMAN: Maybe. I don't think that that's going to be the linchpin, but I'll tell you this. If they have letters where he signed off S.B.T.C., before the ransom note was written, that is a remarkable piece of evidence.

COOPER: It certainly has caught a lot of people's attention. Craig Silverman, again, always good to talk to you for your expertise. Thanks.

SILVERMAN: Nice to talk to you.

COOPER: Turning now to the war in Iraq and what is really happening on the ground. People caught in the crossfire, forced to be refugees in their own country, internally displaced. We'll give you a rare inside look, coming up.

Plus in the Atlantic the tropics are threatening two major storms that could become the season's first hurricane. Where are they heading? We'll get the latest when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In Iraq, two American soldiers were killed today in a pair of attacks around Baghdad. Other shootings and explosions rattled the country as they do just about every day. Today, more than a dozen Iraqis lost their lives.

That is the reality in Iraq and all too often it doesn't get as much attention as it should. However, there's another story that gets almost no attention at all. The story of those caught in the middle of the war. Here now with a rare, inside look, CNN's Michael Holmes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a dusty scrap of dirt in an outer suburb of Baghdad, a temporary home is vast becoming a permanent one for hundreds of Iraqis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I used to have a house in Haswa and have a good life. And now I live in this place like animals live in a cage.

HOLMES: They are Iraq's internally displaced refugees in their own country, forced to flee their homes and old lives by increasingly deadly sectarian violence.

Around the country there are 19 camps like this one, Chircook (ph). Some contain Sunnis forced to flee Shia neighborhoods, some, this one included, contain Shias, forced to escape death threats and killings in Sunni neighborhoods.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They force us to leave our house. They told us to leave the house or we will kill you. I moved to where my family lived, but they threatened us there, too.

HOLMES (on camera): The government here estimates nearly a quarter of a million Iraqis live in camps like Chricook, all of them displaced since February of this year. And the number grows every day.

SALIMA KHAMIS, REFUGEE (through translator): We used to live in Al-Amaria, but then we decided to leave because it became unsafe for us. And because of the threats, we decided to escape. HOLMES: Here in Chircook, 800 people live in an area about the size of two soccer fields. Tents still dominate the dusty landscape, showcasing the pessimism of ever moving home, many make their own cement blocks and begin to build something more permanent.

KARIMA JASIM, REFUGEE (through translator): We live such a miserable life here and now we are building a small house. One day we eat and the next day we have nothing to eat.

HOLMES: Karima Jasim helps build that house, collecting dirt and stones to mix with Spartan supplies of low-quality cement. Everyone pitches in, there are few tools here. Cement often mixed by hand. Nearby a man scales an electricity pole, stealing electricity for his family. A dangerous job by an unqualified, but desperate man.

Local aid agencies try to help out, building community toilets, providing water, but even that sometimes runs out.

Under a summer sun, some children pitch in, others amuse themselves as best they can. No school for these kids, although the government says it is working on it. For now, a game of marbles; others just wander, avoiding the pools of sewage, some simply sit and stare ahead into an uncertain future.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, the U.S. believes that Iran may be fueling some of the sectarian violence that has turned so many people into refugees. And as tensions between Washington and Tehran grow stronger, so do the accusations.

CNN's Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): While the Pentagon still blames al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents for most of the violence in Iraq, the U.S. military is increasingly pointing the finger at Iran for behind the scenes meddling that is destabilizing Iraq.

BRIG. GEN. MICHAEL BARBERO, JOINT STAFF DEPUTY DIRECTOR: I think it's irrefutable that Iran is responsible for training, funding and equipping some of these Shia extremist groups and also providing advanced IED technology to them. And there's clear evidence of that.

MCINTYRE: A report issued by the House Intelligence Committee concludes Iranian involvement in Iraq is extensive and poses a serious threat to U.S. national interest and U.S. troops. The report, written mostly by a Republican staffer, is based on unclassified sources, including public testimony by top U.S. intelligence and military officials, as well as media accounts.

For example, it cites a 2005 Knight Ridder newspaper report that the 20,000 strong Badr Organization had infiltrated elite commando units in the Iraqi Interior Ministry and become what amounted to an Iranian fifth column inside the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

Outside, experts say while it's clear Iran is buying influence in Iraq, it's harder to prove Iran's government is directing the attacks.

KEN POLLACK, SABAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY: It's much less clear that they actually are deliberately trying to have these groups go after the United States because, in fact, the groups they have the closest ties have actually been the ones that have been most restrained and least active in targeting coalition personnel.

MCINTYRE: Analysts say Iran is hedging its bets, hoping to wield influence no matter who ends up in power in Iraq. And they say, while it's not the sole source of U.S. problems in the Middle East, Iran is seeking to become the major player.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It wants to be, essentially, the capital of Islam in the Middle East, but it also wants a major political influence throughout the region.

MCINTYRE: So, basically it wants to be the super power of the Middle East.

(ON CAMERA): The House Intelligence Committee report expresses frustration that the U.S. doesn't have a clearer picture of Iran's activities in Iraq and calls for better intelligence, collection and analysis to determine the extent and nature of Iranian ties to Iraqi insurgents.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, big medical news tonight. A little pill and the big controversy. The so-called morning-after pill approved for over- the-counter sales with some restrictions. We'll talk to 360 M.C. Sanjay Gupta about that.

And Tom Cruise dumped by a major movie studio partly because of ties to the church of scientology. Coming up, why is the church so secretive and what's it hiding in a vault? Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The so-called morning after pill will soon be available without a prescription. Today the FDA approved over the counter sales of the emergency contraceptive Plan B. There is an age restriction, however, as 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These two little pills contain a high dose of what's in a traditional birth control pill. It's called Plan B. And when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it can reduce the chance a woman will get pregnant by nearly 90 percent.

Now, women can already get it by prescription. Today, the FDA gave approval to sell it over the counter without one.

DR. STEVEN GALSON, FDA: They'll be able to get the product behind the counter, which means from the pharmacist without a prescription. Younger women will hand the prescription to the pharmacist and get the product.

GUPTA: So what took so long? Well, there have been several contentious issues including how the pill works.

The drug prevents the ovary from releasing an egg. If that's already happened, it might keep the egg from getting fertilized or from attaching to the wall of the uterus. Critics say it's abortion.

DAVID BEREIT, AMERICAN LIFE LEAGUE: It destroys the lives of innocent human beings. Tiny children that have been formed in the womb, sperm and egg unite, and new human life with unique DNA is created. And many of these children are being killed as a result of Plan B, the morning after pill.

GUPTA: But advocates and now the government disagree, saying if a woman is already pregnant, the pills have no effect.

GALSON: It does not cause abortions. If there is a fertilized egg implanted in the uterus, taking Plan B won't have any impact on there.

GUPTA: Another hot button? What happens if teenagers have quick access to this medicine?

BEREIT: Well, if people are engaged in risky sexual activities with absolutely no protection, thinking well, I've got this backup option, you will see more risky sexual behavior and you will definitely see an increased prevalence of STDs.

GUPTA: That's medical speak for sexually transmitted diseases. But in large studies of older women, the FDA says that didn't happen.

So, the FDA says those under the age of 18 will still need a prescription to get this medication. Those over 18 must show proof of age to the pharmacist, who will keep the medicine behind the counter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay, what's the difference between this drug, Plan B, and the abortion pill RU-486?

GUPTA: You know, they work in completely opposite ways, Anderson. With the Plan B, you're actually increasing the progesterone levels. And that's significant because it prevents the egg from getting fertilized in the first place, or from implanting in the uterus.

RU-486, the other one you mentioned, actually causes a woman to shed the lining of her uterus and that's why it's sort of achieved the moniker of the abortion pill, as well.

With Plan B that doesn't happen. If the egg actually implants in the uterus, nothing will happen. So, that's an important distinction.

COOPER: This has been on the market since 1999 by prescription only. Why now is it going over the counter?

GUPTA: Well, there's really two reasons. One is, as you mentioned, since 1999. So, you now have seven years of data that show that it's safe, it's effective, there are very few side effects. And the scientists and the medical professionals will certainly look at that data.

The other thing really has to do more with timeframe, Anderson -- 72 hours. You have to take this pill within 72 hours for it to be effective. Sometimes it's hard to get a prescription in 72 hours. It's hard to get a hold of your doctor sometimes in 72 hours and that was one of the other key factors in making it over the counter.

COOPER: When does it become available and how much is this going to cost?

GUPTA: About November, I think is when it's going to become available, again over the counter. Until then, you can still get it by prescription. About $35. We talked to the manufacturers today and they said they're hovering around $35 for the cost of this.

COOPER: Sanjay Gupta, always interesting. Thanks, Sanjay.

Coming up, tough days for an actor and a former planet. First, Tom Cruise gets dumped by the company that made so many of his hit movies. AT least that's what we heard yesterday. Tonight we get his side of the story.

And then, we look at what happened to poor little Pluto. Not the Disney character, the planet. Well, what we thought was a planet. What did it do to deserve such a demotion? Everything you thought you knew about the solar system is changing. Man, coming up next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Oh, the video of Tom Cruise in happier times with Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone. Earlier this week, the actor's production company was dumped by Viacom's Paramont Pictures division. Cruise, who in the past -- that's Sumner Redstone on the left. Yes. Cruise, who in the past has enjoyed tremendous popularity with audiences and has been a powerhouse, of course, at the box office, seems to be kind of losing at least some of his appeal. One of the issues, his ties to the Church of Scientology.

CNN's Brooke Anderson takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the smack heard across America. Tom Cruise swatted with the newspaper. In this case, "The Wall Street Journal."

Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone used his interview with the paper to bash the actor as he announced his Paramount Pictures division was giving Cruise's production company the boot. He blamed the decision to part ways on the star's promotion of scientology and other behavior which he said was unacceptable.

GREGG KILDAY, FILM EDITOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Sumner Redstone did commit a major breach of Hollywood etiquette. Normal behavior in this situation would be for the studio to say, we appreciate your past efforts, we wish you well in the future.

ANDERSON: Cruise's Q ratings, which measure a star's popularity, have gone down after a stretch in which he jumped on Oprah's couch, widely proclaimed his love for Fiancee Katie Holmes, and also engaged in a verbal battle with NBC's Matt Lauer over scientology and psychiatry.

Redstone charged that conduct soured the box office returns for Cruise's summer movie "Mission: Impossible III" by up to $150 million.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III": Thank you for coming.

LEA GOLDMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, FORBES: What Redstone is saying is basically, he can't deliver any more. He contends that Cruise has lost his box office appeal.

ANDERSON, (on camera): Cruise's producing partner, Paula Wagner, told me she found Redstone's comments shocking and graceless. She maintains she and Cruise walked away from negotiations on a new deal with Paramont well before Redstone's announcement and that they have secured private financing to turn their company into an independent player.

GOLDMAN: He is getting together a pool of at least $100 million in hedge fund money.

ANDERSON: Wagner also denied Cruise's behavior had any impact on the box office fortunes of "Mission: Impossible III." Others agree the spat between Paramont and Cruise is less about his behavior and more about profit margins.

In an era of slumping DVD sales, studios no longer have the leeway to offer stars' deals that are as lucrative as they used to be.

KILDAY: We're at a moment right now where Hollywood, all the studios are trying to rein in some of the money that they're committing to the biggest stars.

ANDERSON: Cruise's sudden departure from Paramont adds to what has become a summer of falling stars.

Mel Gibson is seeking rehabilitation and forgiveness after he made anti-Semitic remarks during a drunken driving arrest.

And Lindsay Lohan was stung by criticism from a studio chief who berated her for acting like a spoiled child.

Now Cruise is facing his own public humiliation. It's enough to drive someone to therapy, but we know how he feels about that.

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I've never agreed with psychiatry, ever.

ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Cruise's promotion of scientology may have gotten him into trouble. But it's also raised a lot of curiosity about the mysterious religion.

Two big questions -- why did scientologists construct a massive vault to the Rockies? And why are they so protective about it?

CNN's Gary Tuchman recently went there to try to get some answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The land is rugged on the south end of the Rocky Mountain range. A panoramic view of north eastern New Mexico under clear skies which makes it easier to see an unusual site. Two huge interlocking circles, markings on the desert soil that cannot be seen from the ground, but can be seen from the heavens.

MICHAEL PATTINSON, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: I think they're not designed to be seen by human beings, but by alien beings.

TUCHMAN: Michael Pattinson says he was a member of the Church of Scientology for 23 years. Now he's a disgruntled ex-member who says the circles are sign posts for reincarnated scientologists who come from outer space.

PATTINSON: They are markings to show the location of one of the vaults which Scientology has prepared to safeguard the technology of Elron Hubbard.

TUCHMAN: Hubbard, who died in 1986, was a science fiction writer who started the Church of Scientology. And indeed, next to the circles in a private runway, is a building with a vault built into the mountain. Current scientologists so say archives are held in the vaults, just as other religions safeguard the sacred texts.

They say the vault is overseen by a scientology corporation called the Church of Spiritual Technology.

(On camera): The Church of Scientology officials denied CNN's request for a tour of the compound. They say the markings are simply a logo of the church of spiritual technology and that this is a non story. But from what we've experienced, church officials are extremely sensitive about this non story.

(Voice-over): A pilot we hired to fly us over the compound backed out saying he got a call from scientologists, asking him not to go with us. Other pilots said they would not fly us because they didn't want to make the scientologists angry. But we did finally get a pilot.

(On camera): What do those circles look like to you from here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They look like a ranching symbol a rancher might have put out there.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The closest town to the desert etchings is Las Vegas, New Mexico. The county sheriff there is one of few non- scientologists who have visited the compound.

SHERIFF CHRIS NAJAR, SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, NEW MEXICO: Every time that there an incident happens, that there's a, say for instance, Waco or the World Trade Center incident, every time something like this happens there seems to be some rumblings that it's a training ground for militia or terrorist training ground. That kind of thing. So, they've been inviting me out there so we can go out and try to dispel those rumors.

TUCHMAN: Have you dispelled those rumors?

NAJAR: Well, we went out there. I didn't see anything of the sort.

TUCHMAN: The sheriff says the scientologists told him this is where Elron Hubbard's writings, saved on titanium plates, will be preserved for thousands of years. He says many people were there, lots of farm animals and a large cash of food supplies.

(On camera): Did it strike you as a place for survivalists?

NAJAR: Quite possibly. Yes. I definitely want to go there if they hit the fan.

TUCHMAN: The sheriff says the notion of spacecraft returning here was not discussed with him, but former members say that's part of scientology teachings.

PATTINSON: I know it sounds very, very bizarre, but this is where reality is stranger than fiction.

TUCHMAN: So are the circles a landing pad for extraterrestrial vehicles? The church is not commenting to us.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Well, today's shot is coming up, but first Tom Foreman joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Hi Anderson.

France is sending more troops to Lebanon as part of the United Nations international peacekeeping force. France now says it is committing to a total of 2,000 troops, up from 200 previously promised. Troops are part of the cease-fire deal that ended the hostilities between Israel and Lebanon. In Minnesota, thunderstorms have spawned several tornadoes in the southern part of the state. There is damage, but so far no injuries have been reported.

Sales of new homes are on the decline, falling more than 4 percent last month and the inventory of unsold homes climbed to a record high. Experts warn that the slowing housing market could hurt the consumer spending all across the board.

And Apple computers is recalling more than a million batteries used in its laptops. Apple says it has received several reports of battery packs overheating, including two cases in which users suffered minor burns. The move comes just 10 days after Dell computers recalled millions of laptop batteries also made by Sony -- Anderson.

COOPER: Go figure. Tom, check out the shot now. I know you know about sport stacking.

FOREMAN: Oh, I'm the master of sport stacking.

COOPER: Yes, I know you are.

FOREMAN: What is this?

COOPER: Apparently, a new competitive game that the kids just love. The goal, to build a pyramid with 12 cups and then take it down as fast as you can. There's a Sacramento, California, sixth grader competed in the 2006 world sport stacking championship. Oh yes, this is a global sport. The competition even aired on ESPN. She placed in the top 10 in three events. Her new target, beat the world record for 11 year olds of 7.42 seconds to complete at cup cycle. Kids today. Whatever happened to a game of monopoly?

FOREMAN: Yes, I think I've seen you do that in a bar, but only when it's really late.

COOPER: Maybe not so fast.

FOREMAN: Not nearly as well, either.

COOPER: Yes, Tom, thanks.

Weather next, heavy weather. Hurricane season, there are hurricanes in the making. The latest bulletin just out when 360 comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The images, of course, unforgettable. Winds and rains pounding the Gulf Coast, part of the brutal 2005 hurricane season. This point last year was in full force. Ten named storms had already formed, including four hurricanes. There was Cindy and then Dennis and then Category Five Storm Emily followed by Irene and then, of course, the monsters, Rita and Katrina -- or Katrina and then Rita, just around the corner.

One year later, we've already seen just four named storms. Not a single hurricane, however, but that could soon change.

Joining me now is CNN Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf with the latest on a new update just in from the National Hurricane Center. Where's the storm now?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, right now, Anderson, we're seeing this one particular depression, depression number five, if you're keeping count, now moving deeper into the Caribbean.

It is expected to strengthen as we make our way over the next 12 to 24 hours, going from a tropical depression to a tropical storm. It will be Ernesto by the time we get to tomorrow.

Now, here's the latest that we have. The latest path we have from the National Hurricane Center, which brings the storm more to the west and by the time we get to 8:00 p.m. Friday, maximum sustained winds will be at 45. So, we'll beat Tropical Storm Ernesto again, according to this forecast. It will then continue more to the west, moving so at a rate of about 20 miles per hour.

By 8:00 p.m. Saturday, maximum sustained winds at 65. So that is a rapid intensification in a very short time. We've got a lot of warm water in the Caribbean, very minimal sheer environment, meaning we don't have strong upper level winds which could tear the system apart. Then the storm continues on its way right near Jamaica. And notice again the winds, up to 75 miles per hour. A Category 1 hurricane. So again, this is forecast to be a hurricane by the time we get to 8:00 p.m. Saturday. Then it continues its path. Again, the forecast that we have from the National Hurricane Center, due south of Cuba.

By 8:00 p.m. on Monday, still winds around 75 miles per hour, and then as we get into Tuesday, getting into the Gulf of Mexico. This is the thing that really concerns us because if it gets into the Gulf, Anderson, we're talking about a body of very warm water, temperatures mainly into the low to mid 80s. We're talking high octane fuel for a storm like this. Again, minimal sheer environment. Very little in terms of upper level winds, so this storm could really strengthen and it is something we have to watch for you very carefully.

One thing we do have in our favor, though, is you don't look just at that particular path, you have to look at the wide cone of probability. There is a margin of error with these storms. They don't move from point to point. They tend to wobble a little bit. And if this storm were to move farther inland, say into Cuba, into the higher elevations on the eastern end of the Island, that could be enough just to rip this storm apart.

So there's a lot that can happen between now and certainly between now and Tuesday. But, still, it is a time when we really have to be cautious when you make those preparations, get those hurricane preparedness kits. And we've been telling people buy it for -- gosh, since the season began. And just observe this thing. Just be on our toes. It's the best thing we can do.

COOPER: Yes, is a time we need to be cautious and make those preparations and get the hurricane preparedness kits that we have been telling people about since the season began and just observe this thing. Just be on our toes. Best thing we can do.

Yes, Reynolds, I understand we just got some video in from our affiliate KELO. I think it's from Miller, South Dakota, of some tornadoes. Do you know anything about where they touched down or how powerful they were?

REYNOLDS: Absolutely. In terms of how powerful they were, it is really, really hard to pinpoint that at this time. What's going to happen, Anderson, tomorrow, they're going to have crews go out there, they're going to survey the damage. And only at that point will they be able to classify how -- what kind of storms these would be on the fugesus (ph) scale, being an F0 to an F5. F5, being the strongest.

What I can tell you is earlier in the day Meteorologist Chad Myers was here in the Storm Center tracking these storms and Anderson, there were hail stones with these associated storms that were up to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. That gives you a great idea of just how powerful these things were. Really strong updrafts to create that kind of a hail stone and that is just, again, a small sample of what we've seen through parts of the northern plains and into parts of the Midwest today.

Could see that happen again tomorrow, maybe even in places like St. Louis, Chicago, perhaps even Milwaukee, once again. So, it is that time of year. We could see that happen, of course, in the U.S. and, of course, you can see the tropics act up, as well. So it's a busy time, to say the least.

COOPER: Pretty stunning pictures of the funnel cloud right there. We're getting no reports of serious injuries at this time -- this time. We'll obviously be checking on that more tomorrow.

Reynolds, appreciate the update on both tornadoes and the possible hurricane, as well.

Turning now to Pluto. We call that a transition. Pluto, you'll remember, is the ninth planet. Well, forget what you remember. As of today, by a vote of distinguished astronomers, it is not, not a planet. It's a tough crowd, it's a tough solar system.

But as CNN's Tom Foreman reports, see if Pluto cares.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Pluto is not welcoming. Covered with poisonous gas, dark as a tomb and so cold a human there would be instantly frozen solid. No wonder some scientists seemed delighted to see it cast from the league of planets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a good thing.

FOREMAN: Lee Mundy (ph) is an astronomer at the University of Maryland.

LEE MUNDY (ph): It's very unlike the neighboring planets such as Neptune, in that it's not gaseous. And it's very different in the sense that it has beyond it a lot of other small bodies that are similar in size.

FOREMAN: In 1930, Pluto's discovery by American Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, just 24, was enormous news. Scientists had always believed another planet was lurking at the edge of our solar system. Disney rolled out a new character...

MICKEY MOUSE: Pluto! Hey, Pluto!

FOREMAN: But like its cartoon namesake, Pluto was immediately in trouble. It just didn't seem like a planet. Pluto's path around the sun which takes 248 years is oblong and crosses Neptune's orbit. Pluto is smaller than our moon. And over the past 10 years, the stars have really aligned against it. More than a dozen similar bodies have been found flying in the same area.

SUN KWOK, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY: From our point of view, it is quite simple. If we have to do it over again, we would, knowing what we now know today, we would never have called Pluto a planet.

FOREMAN: Now, of course, scientists are researching new catchy phrases to teach kids the order of the planets.

J. KELLY BEATTY, SKY AND TELESCOPE MAGAZINE: The one I learned was, my very educated mother just served us nine pizzas. And I think it's easy. It's now my very educated mother just served us nachos.

FOREMAN: Clyde Tombaugh passed away a few years ago. But he already know Pluto was under fire and now it's definitely out.

(On camera): So, the message is basically, if you're small and unusual, you don't belong.

MUNDY: If you're small and unusual, you have to fight for your life.

FOREMAN: It is a cold, cruel world out there, even way out there.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Earth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We just, apparently, heard a statement from Patricia Tombaugh, the widow of the discoverer of Pluto, who is 93 years old who said, I'm not heart broken, I'm just shook up. I understand that.

More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "LARRY KING" is coming up next with more of the John Karr investigation.

Thanks for watching 360. I'll see you tomorrow.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

CNN U.S.
CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines