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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
U.N. Security Council Calls For Gaza Cease-fire; Obama's Economic Pitch
Aired January 8, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news: a new call to end the war in Gaza, along with a new sign the war could be widening, and a major new development in the war in al Qaeda in Pakistan. The U.S. kills a pair of terrorists on the FBI's most- wanted list.
We begin with Gaza -- the U.N. Security Council tonight just a short time ago agreeing on a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire, the measure passing without a no-vote. The U.S. abstained. More than 750 Palestinians and at least 13 Israelis have died in the Israeli incursion and Hamas rocket attacks.
But with tonight's vote, there was another troubling development. For the first time, a rocket attack on Israel, not from Gaza in the south, but from Lebanon in the north.
More now from the border from Nic Robertson.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The rockets hit a retirement home in Nahariya, two civilians slightly wounded. But the implications go beyond their injuries, now, potentially, a two-front war complicating the fight in Gaza.
For now, Israel is playing it down.
ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI SECURITY CABINET: We are looking at coolly and kind of somewhat in a lower-level attitude.
ROBERTSON: In the south, more Israeli civilians wounded, four in a kibbutz hit by mortars near the border with Gaza.
Rocket attacks also hit a school, but Israeli officials say their almost two-week offensive is making gains.
HERZOG: The launching sites from where about 75 percent of the missiles so far were launched are conquered now by Israel, by Israeli ground forces. However, in the main big city, which we haven't conquered, for example, from the heart of Gaza, missiles are launched.
ROBERTSON: And this is where Israel stands, on the verge of a potential deadly urban conflict, where soldiers are discovering stockpiles of weapons hidden inside houses.
As they push ever closer to street battles, they risk giving Hamas a military advantage. But it is the rising civilian death toll that Israel is struggling to explain in the public-relations war.
As the battles rage, Red Cross workers are heaping criticism on Israeli troops for failing to help civilians, in some cases children only yards from soldiers.
KATARINA RITZ, HEAD OF MISSION, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS JERUSALEM: (INAUDIBLE) are people alive next to dead bodies without assistance, without water, without food, wounded, no medical treatment, nowhere to be or nobody attended to them.
MAJOR AVITAL LEIBOVICH, SPOKESWOMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: We have no intention of targeting civilians. However, when we're talking about urban warfare, and Hamas is using those civilians as human shields many times, then it's very, very difficult.
ROBERTSON: Israel is also coming under fire from the U.N., after two of its workers were reported killed in tank and gun fire by Israeli troops as they were helping deliver much-needed aid during a three-hour cease-fire.
CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS, UNITED NATIONS SPOKESMAN; There is simply no excuse. So, the operations are suspended until the Israeli army can guarantee the safety and security of a neutral United Nations Human Development Agency.
ROBERTSON: Israeli officials have agreed to go to Cairo to help advance peace talks, but are insisting upon an immediate and guaranteed end to Hamas attacks.
HERZOG: If not, we will opt for an enlarged and -- and escalated military operation.
COOPER: So, Nic, the U.N. wants a cease-fire. Is there any break in the fighting?
ROBERTSON: There isn't, Anderson.
Within -- I would say five minutes of the U.N. Security Council announce -- making that announcement, we saw a heavy barrage of tracer fire behind me. We have been hearing tanks maneuvering just down behind me for the past couple of hours, a lot of drone surveillance aircraft activity.
And Ramadan television studios in Gaza City say that, in the town behind me, Beit Lahia, they say a house has been hit and six people -- and six people killed in that house. Israeli Defense Forces say that they are operating in that area, but they can't confirm that information -- Anderson.
COOPER: Nic, let's talk about what happened in Pakistan, top al Qaeda leaders apparently killed, two of them. These guys were on the FBI's most-wanted list.
What -- what do you know? ROBERTSON: Well, they're both -- both Kenyans. Usama al-Kini was believed to be the al Qaeda operations chief for Pakistan. And Sheikh Ahmed Swedan, both men on the FBI's most-wanted list, both men believed to be behind the -- the attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad just a few months ago that killed more than 50 people.
And both men, as well, wanted for their involvement in the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed over 200 people -- it's believed that a pilot -- pilotless drone aircraft fitted with missiles struck a house on New Year's Day in the north part of Pakistan, destroying the house and killing both of them.
This type of attack has been going on a lot over the past few months, and from sources that I have been talking to, they say they're very satisfied with the amount of damage it's inflicting on al Qaeda. This appears to be another indication of just that -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Nic Robertson live from the border, where you can hear a pilotless drone overhead -- Nic, thanks. We will check in with you throughout this hour.
Next: the economy and what Barack Obama himself might call the fierce urgency of now -- the president-elect today demanding that lawmakers move -- and move quickly -- on a massive collection of government spending and tax cuts designed to jump-start the economy, warning of prolonged misery if they do not move, laying blame for how he got into this mess less than two weeks before his inauguration, already sounding like a president, a president in a hurry.
On the 360 transition team tonight, here's Candy Crowley.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His inspirational campaign redirect has turned into an apocalypse sales job.
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs, and our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that at some point we may not be able to reverse.
CROWLEY: Barack Obama pushed Congress to move fast on his massive stimulus package in a stark speech -- dire, urgent.
OBAMA: If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years; the unemployment rate could reach double digits.
CROWLEY: But, on Capitol Hill, the problem isn't urgency. It's the specifics -- a payroll tax cut.
OBAMA: To get people spending again, 95 percent of working families will receive a $1,000 tax cut. SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: We have an example with the first stimulus that indicated just giving people $500 and $600, while certainly welcome, when there's all this economic hurt, may not be the best use of stimulus.
CROWLEY: That $3,000 tax credit to businesses for every new hire.
OBAMA: This plan must begin today, a plan I'm confident will save or create at least three million jobs over the next few years.
SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA: If you think about it, business people are not going to hire people to produce products that are not selling. I mean, who is going to hire in the automobile industry if you give them a $3,000 credit to make cars that people are not buying?
CROWLEY: And there's what's missing, that campaign talk of rolling back Bush tax breaks for the wealthy. Seen as a bad idea now during a recession, the president-elect no longer talks about it, but Nancy Pelosi does.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Put me down as clearly as you possibly can as one who wants to have those tax cuts for the wealthiest in America repealed.
CROWLEY: Think about it. Those are just the Democrats objecting. Minority Republicans, though pleased Obama agreed to business tax cuts, are appalled at the price tag.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Well, given the deficit numbers, it -- it really ought not to be a $1 trillion spending bill. I think we can start by saying that.
CROWLEY: For the incoming president, the opening volleys in the stimulus debate are a lesson in the limits of presidential power. He will not get everything he wants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The certificate of the electoral vote...
CROWLEY: But it also came on the same day his election became official with a congressional count of electoral votes.
RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Barack Obama, of the state of Illinois, has received, for president of the United States, 365 votes.
CROWLEY: And therein is a lesson for Congress. Barack Obama does not hold all the cards, but he sure owns the poll numbers. He will get most of what he wants.
COOPER: Candy joins us now. Candy, on another subject -- I have got to ask you about this -- there's a report in the British paper "The Guardian" that the Obama team, on some level, some low level, perhaps through intelligence sources, is prepared to talk or have some sort of dealings with Hamas.
What are you hearing about that?
CROWLEY: I'm hearing, along with Ed Henry, flat-out and vehement denials that that is so, and, also, people pointing out, listen, if you were going to start, as a U.S. president, when you take office, these low-level talks with Hamas, would you leak that out there in the middle of a fight in Gaza between Israel and Hamas?
And the answer is, no, you wouldn't. Barack Obama has always said he would not talk to Hamas until it renounced terrorism as a tool, and recognize Israel's right to exist. Neither one of those things have happened, so, flat-out denials about that.
COOPER: All right, just wanted to get on top of that.
Candy Crowley, appreciate it. Thanks.
Tell us what you think of the Obama plan for the economy or the situation in Gaza. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. I already logged on. Check out also Erica Hill's live Webcast during the break.
After the break, David Gergen is back with us, along with Joe Johns and "Fortune" magazine's Andy Serwer, to talk money and politics.
We will also take a look at the possibility of Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN being named surgeon general, some opposition building on Capitol Hill. We will look at the "Raw Politics."
And, later, Sarah Palin lashing out about her dismal interviews with Katie Couric, and saying the media will treat Caroline Kennedy differently because of class issues. Is she talking sense of making excuses? Hear for yourself.
And Tom Cruise speaking out about the death of Jett Travolta and the Church of Scientology's stand on medication. His emotional words -- when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth. But, at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President-elect Obama today, officially the president- elect, now that the electoral votes have been counted, taking early advantage of the bully pulpit, using his power of persuasion to push speedy action by Congress, even as members of his own party raise objections to portions of the economic plan, namely the tax cuts.
Let's talk strategy now with senior political analyst David Gergen, correspondent Joe Johns, and "Fortune" magazine managing editor Andy Serwer.
David, I don't recall a president-elect being so active, I guess, before an inauguration. What was Obama trying to do today by speaking out on the economy?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You're absolutely right, Anderson, about how active he is. We haven't had a president who really has assumed the office, the mantle of the office, this way at pushing a plan during his transition.
And I think he's doing this because he honestly believes, as do many economists now, both conservative and liberal stripes, that 2009, whatever he does, is going to be the worst economic year -- year for the United States since the Depression. And he wants to make sure it doesn't go any deeper and it doesn't extend into 2010, 2011, as it might.
So, he's trying to throw everything he can at this. And he's going to get opposition, but I think that he's got the public with him and the facts are with him. The dynamics of this are with him. International investors want to see the United States take action like this. If China is going to lend us a lot more money, as we need it, they need to see that we're aggressively tackling this, trying to get our economy back on the road, so that other economies will grow, too.
COOPER: Joe, you know Capitol Hill well. Is -- is having the public with you enough? I mean, John Kerry, Senator Kent Conrad are critical already, some Republicans already saying the deficits are too big.
How big a battle does this plan face?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, sure, it is a big battle.
And -- and when you listen to what both sides are saying, there's some stuff in it that they both like. Now, for the Republicans, of course, $300 billion in tax cuts might be OK. But the Democrats were expecting a lot more money invested in infrastructure, you know, in buildings, in bridges, in roads, perhaps even in energy, a variety of other areas.
So, they don't like that piece of it. Nonetheless, if you see what Obama is doing here, he's essentially reaching out to the Republicans. He doesn't want to get into a position where people are taking walk-the-plank, squeaker votes on the House and Senate floors, in order to try to get this passed.
He wants broad majorities. He's also pointed out to everybody that this thing is going to take time. We're not going to silver- bullet this economy. So, let's just be patient here and -- and start out with some things we can agree on.
COOPER: Andy, though, how -- how is this plan going to work? I mean, I think one of the things, the big things, is this tax credit. But it -- but I -- it probably won't amount to much more than $10 or $20 a paycheck. How is it going to work?
ANDY SERWER, MANAGING EDITOR, "FORTUNE": Well, that part is a little mystifying to me, the tax credit, because, if you think about it, if someone's making $50,000 a year, Anderson, taking $1,000 home a paycheck a week, that's only 1 percent or 2 percent. It's really not that much money.
And I sort of feel like that's sort of throwing people a bone who want a tax cut. To me, things need to be a lot bigger than that. I -- I agree with the president-elect that, you know, this is a huge problem, and we're going to need huge solutions to make it work. That seems to be kind of piecemeal.
COOPER: He's also talking about doubling the -- the production of alternative energy in three years.
SERWER: Yes. I mean, I think he's focusing on a lot of things that have -- where we have fallen behind in this country.
We're talking about infrastructure, broadband, putting medical records onto digital files, digitizing medical records, education, things like that. These are giant public works programs. And -- and I think a lot of these things are -- are on target. I mean, when you're talking about alternative energy, look at what we have done over the past decade or so in terms of energy policy in this country. We don't have one.
The auto industry obviously is in disarray. I think this is a great place for government to step in.
COOPER: David, it's interesting to hear Republicans complain about deficit spending now. I mean, this is probably the first time in like eight years that they have seemed to think that this is a problem.
And Obama's basically saying, look, this recession could linger for so long, and only the government can lift this country out of it. Do you think he's right?
GERGEN: Listen, I think everybody -- all the economists agree that only the government can now do this, that the Federal Reserve has exhausted its remedies. It can't do very much. It's -- it's working, but it can't lower interest rates very much, when they're down so low already.
And -- and government -- business is not doing it. Consumers aren't doing it. The government is the only -- the federal government and spending and tax cuts are the only -- only solution you have left. So, he's going to push this hard, but he's going to run into a lot of difficulty if he tries to incorporate into this sort of permanent spending changes. That's where the Republicans will rebel and get off -- get off the train.
If, in other words, he -- they -- they want to use this all for quick things that you have an exit strategy, and you stop it, and the deficits don't keep ballooning year after year after year.
Obama has got to convince people this is short-term, it's temporary, it's very targeted, but it's going to make a difference in a -- in a short term, and really -- and really prevent us from going too deep.
The issue here is not whether we can stop a recession. The issue is whether we can stop a recession from going much deeper and much longer. That's the key.
COOPER: Andy, you agree with that?
SERWER: Yes. I mean, the point here is that this is a situation where government needs to run a deficit, I think.
I mean, what are deficits for, except to borrow in times that were -- really, you know, need it and warrant it? But we cannot have tax cuts and a war in Iraq and fix the economy at the same time. So, choices are going to have to be made. And -- and, you know, you have to wonder if taxes are not going to get raised at some point.
GERGEN: Yes, Anderson?
COOPER: Oh, sorry. Go ahead, David.
GERGEN: I was just going to say, the casualty out of all of this really may be his other plans.
I don't know where he -- when this -- when he gets this done, as I think he will, how does he then pay for health care reform long- term? How does he pay for big energy plans that he has in mind? How does he play -- pay for some of the other big initiatives he has in mind?
Those are the ones that may really take a hit from this, because they're -- the Republicans and Democrats, after this is passed, are going to say, we can't afford to do anything else.
COOPER: Joe, on this other subject, Representative John Conyers is urging Democrats to block the nomination of CNN's Sanjay Gupta to be the surgeon general, basically saying -- citing a lack of necessary experience.
Conyers is in the House. The confirmation is in the Senate. Does -- does what Conyers say matter?
JOHNS: Not that much. Conyers speaks out on a lot of things that people listen to or don't listen to over on the Senate side.
The -- it is the Senate that matters. And, quite frankly, we have had from time to time some fights over in the Senate over various nominees, including the surgeon general. Nonetheless, John Conyers talks all the time on Capitol Hill about things he believes in very strongly. I'm not discounting that at all. Just the same, it doesn't matter that much to senators when they're actually...
COOPER: Do you know -- do you know what his opposition really is based on? I mean, he says it's a lack of experience. Does this go back to the -- sort of the disagreement between Michael Moore and Sanjay Gupta that -- that I guess Conyers supports Michael Moore's position, or his position on...
JOHNS: Well, what it -- what...
COOPER: Go ahead.
JOHNS: What he says is that it's about the fact that Sanjay Gupta was not in, if I remember correctly, the National Health Corps, that he didn't serve in any capacity in this agency that he's now being tasked to run.
That is sometimes a fair analysis of the situation. Nonetheless, Barack Obama has shown this propensity to try to get outsiders in certain positions in the government, perhaps to shake things up, perhaps to take a high profile, and give it a little different look. So, you can argue that thing both ways.
COOPER: We're going to leave it there.
David Gergen, Joe Johns, Andy Serwer, thanks very much.
Up next: outrage over Bernie Madoff. He's been living in his multimillion-dollar apartment this whole time. How come he's not in jail awaiting trial? Well, he may be sent to jail in a few hours. Prosecutors say he's been violating bail by sending jewelry and gifts to friends.
Meanwhile, at least one of his victims has killed himself -- details on the suicides of the super-rich and the no-longer rich ahead.
Later, Oakland erupts after police shoot a man who was face-down on the floor. Shot in the back, he was. More demonstrations planned tonight -- a live report ahead.
That and more. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Bernie Madoff's days of public shoving may be over in a matter of hours. The man suspected of scamming investors out of $50 billion has a bail hearing tomorrow.
He's been allowed to live in his multimillion-dollar apartment until now, but, tomorrow, prosecutors are going to argue he should be put behind bars until trial. It turns out, when he was arrested -- after he was arrested, Madoff had checks totaling $173 million in his desk -- or they found those after he was arrested -- part of the $300 million stash he was allegedly trying to conceal from the government. They also say he's been mailing more than $1 million in watches and jewelry to his relatives.
The misery Madoff is accused of masterminding has destroyed lives, not just financial destruction. A businessman who lost a fortune in the alleged Ponzi scheme has killed himself already. In recent days, there have been reports of other suicides tied to the economic crisis -- crisis.
And, as the hard times linger, suicides by the super-rich and by the not-so-rich may continue.
Up close tonight, here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A German billionaire leaps in front of a train. A Chicago real estate mogul apparently shoots himself. A French investor takes his own life, too. The crashing economy, even for the uber-wealthy, is taking a terrible toll. Each of the victims was still worth a fortune when he died.
But James Gottfurcht, who studies the psychology of money, says our wealth often defines who we are.
DR. JAMES GOTTFURCHT, PRESIDENT, PSYCHOLOGY OF MONEY CONSULTANTS: So, if you're used to having $1 billion, and you have your charities, and you have your lifestyle and your retirement and your foundation built on a billion, and then, suddenly, in a few months, it goes to $500 million, psychologically, the amount of loss is huge, even though 99 percent of us-plus would be very happy with what's left.
FOREMAN: Police in Chicago don't know if monetary losses led to Steven Good's apparent suicide. He was one of the city's most successful realtors, before he drove his Jaguar into a wildlife reserve, where police believe he shot himself.
But, recently, he was talking about the awful economy, and he's not alone. The hot lines at CrisisLink in Virginia are ringing constantly with people under financial stress, including, they say, plenty of millionaires. Potential suicide calls have risen 124 percent, according to Marshall Ellis.
(on camera): Are you hearing mainly from people who are -- who are very poor and struggling, or mainly from middle-class people? Are you hearing from rich people? Who?
MARSHALL ELLIS, CRISISLINK: It's affecting people across spectrums and income ranges.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Across continents, too. Though he was still worth a fortune himself, that French investment manager took his life after he steered more than $1 billion into the alleged fraud scheme of Bernie Madoff. An associate told a French paper the man could not bear the scandal.
Sometimes, that's just the way it is for the very rich, says Gottfurcht.
GOTTFURCHT: And their self-esteem or identity would be more wrapped into being highly wealthy.
FOREMAN (on camera): Being hopeful is hard, but both psychologists and economists say everyone must try. After all, that German billionaire who jumped into the train, despite his billions in losses, he was still one of the hundred richest men on the planet, still worth billions.
And there is this. Two days later, banks bailed out his failing companies.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, this weekend, inside the alleged scam of the century, the Ponzi scheme that shook Wall Street. How did Madoff allegedly pull it off? "Secrets of a Scandal," the CNN/"Fortune" magazine special investigation, airs this Saturday and Sunday 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
I'm definitely going to watch that.
A deadly police shooting sparks violent riots in Oakland, the city being torn apart by anger and outrage -- that after a cop kills an unarmed African-American man who was lying face-down when he shot him in the back -- the story, the shocking video of the incident next.
Also tonight, Sarah Palin blaming the media, Katie Couric, Tina Fey -- her words, her accusations coming up.
COOPER: Mass violence, arrests in Oakland, California, right after a funeral last night for a 22-year-old man who was shot and killed by a police officer.
This afternoon, the victim's mother called on people to stop the rioting, saying -- quote -- "You're hurting people who have nothing to do with the situation."
The shooting on New Year's Day was caught on cell phone and surveillance cameras. This is some of the -- the cameras. It shows Oscar Grant pleading with officers not to Taser him right before he was shot in the back.
The deadly confrontation has sparked nationwide outrage. Some are even calling it a brutal execution. Police are out in force again tonight to make sure any new protests are orderly.
Dan Simon has more.
Obviously, we're having -- obviously, we're having some technical problems. We'll get that story on to you next.
Coming up, breaking news from the U.N. on the war in the Mideast. Is the deadly battle between Israel and Hamas coming to an end? Christiane Amanpour joins us from Jerusalem with the latest details on a peace proposal.
Also tonight, look out Katie Couric. Sarah Palin says she wants to set the record straight about that infamous interview. Her surprising take on it, ahead.
And later the Travolta tragedy. The actor holds a memorial service for his son today as Tom Cruise chokes up, talking about the death. He also takes on the critics of Scientology. Hear what he has to say, coming up on 360.
COOPER: Police are on guard again tonight in Oakland, California, in case more violence breaks out in the wake of a shooting of a 22-year-old unarmed man by police. We had a technical problem before the break. Let's show you the piece we were going to run.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was senseless and all caught on camera. Rioters busted windows, set fires, and pounced on police cars. One woman tried to defend the violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We live a life of fear, and we want them to be afraid tonight. We want them to understand we will mobilize. We are a community, and we are a voice.
SIMON: The tension had been building for days. The aftermath of a New Year's Day police shooting in an Oakland subway station that left an unarmed man dead.
The shooting may not have received national attention, except it was captured on video by several bystanders with cell phones. The disturbing images appear to show a man lying face down with two police officers over him, while a third officer stands up, pulls his gun, and fires a shot.
Twenty-two-year-old Oscar Grant died several hours later. Transit police say he'd been involved in a fight aboard a train, and that's why they wanted to arrest him. The victim's family has already hired a lawyer and filed a $25 million death claim against the city.
JOHN BURRIS, GRANT FAMILY ATTORNEY: It is without a doubt the most unconscionable shooting I have seen ever.
SIMON: Some law enforcement experts have speculated the officer intended to reach for his taser but accidentally grabbed his gun. But the officer, 27-year-old Johannes Mehserle, on the job for two years, won't agree to be interviewed by investigators or make any public statements under the advice of his lawyer. He has since resigned and also has been the target of multiple death threats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want justice now.
SIMON: Many in the Oakland community are pressing the district attorney to file criminal charges and marched to his office.
DESLEY BROOKS, OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: We are a community that will not tolerate -- will not tolerate -- those who are charged with protecting us executing our children in broad view for the world.
SIMON: But what started as a peaceful protest turned ugly. Police responded to the violence in riot gear, fired tear gas and arrested more than 100 people.
(on camera) No word when the D.A. may decide whether or not to file charges against the officer. Meanwhile, people have been dropping off flowers, cards, and candles at the subway station where the victim was shot.
Dan Simon, CNN, Oakland, California.
COOPER: We'll continue to follow this story.
More now, though, on the breaking story in New York and in Gaza tonight. U.N. Security Council voting. Nic Robertson hearing new explosions from the Israeli-Gaza border.
Nic, let's go to you before we go to Christiane Amanpour. What are you hearing?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing and seeing tanks firing into the Gaza Strip. We've been hearing the tanks moving around, hearing their heavy engines. We've been able to see their muzzle flashes as they fire shells into the northern end of the Gaza Strip.
We're also hearing very heavy artillery firing going in the same directions, very heavy detonations, certainly no cease-fire here behind me right now, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Nic. Thanks. As we mentioned the U.N. Security Council has just passed a cease-fire resolution. Let's go to chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour in Jerusalem.
Christiane, so the Security Council passed this resolution for immediate cease-fire. The U.S. is the only one who abstained from the vote. Does this make any difference on the ground? Will Israel or Hamas heed this?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It will make some difference, because it will provide the momentum. And you saw Condoleezza Rice, in abstaining from that resolution, talked about the efforts that are going on on the ground and wanted to see results from those.
The most important cease-fire efforts are going on on the ground in Egypt, with Israeli officials, with Hamas representatives. That's where the real action is.
The Security Council is just a welcome sort of push towards that. Israel waited to see whether they get some kind of real tangible result in terms of stopping the smuggling from Gaza or rather from Egypt into Gaza. That's what it centers on.
COOPER: Some devastating criticism from the International Red Cross today. They sharply criticize Israel for blocking access to wounded civilians in Gaza. And the U.N. suspended food aid after one of its own drivers was killed by Israeli fire.
Has Israel responded to both these -- these criticisms?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think it's responding. I mean, the pressure is really mounting very, very high on Israel right now. Precisely because of what you've just mentioned and precisely because of the rapidly rising civilian death toll. The nearly 600 -- rather 760 people have been killed, and many of those are civilians.
The ICRC has sent out a very stiff and unusual complaint that it's not being allowed by Israeli forces to reach the dead and wounded. The U.N. today had to cancel its humanitarian supplies, because it says Israeli troops fired on their convoys. And this despite close negotiation and liaison on getting that humanitarian aid in, which Israel did a bombing force (ph) to allow in.
So the situation, as often happens on the ground, is moving rapidly ahead, and they're trying to get this cease-fire to work. But of course, as you know, it's still going on. And Israel is either going to ratchet up its military or get to the cease-fire. That's what the officials are saying right now.
COOPER: Yes, really, they're poised at a turning point. Either they enter the cities, you know, like Gaza City, and if they do that, the violence will only increase.
AMANPOUR: Yes, they want to put as much pain on Hamas as possible. They say, an official said, that they've reached about 75 percent of the Hamas rocket launchers, but the rest of it is in the urban areas.
And we know that. We know that from Jabalia, from Gaza City, from elsewhere, they've fired rockets out. The question is, the price of silencing those rockets in an urban environment.
And that urban environment does not favor the -- the conventional army. And so it's a real -- it's a real sort of turning point. They have to decide whether they're going to get dragged in, into the cities, or whether they're going to go for the cease-fire. And they're really working on the Egyptian plan.
COOPER: Also briefly, today for the first time, rockets were fired from -- into Israel from Lebanon. Some have feared this is now a sign that Hezbollah has entered the fray. Do we know for a fact it was Hezbollah rockets? What do we know?
AMANPOUR: We know exactly the opposite. According to Hezbollah, it wasn't. They immediately issued a denial to the Lebanese government of which they are a part, that they did this.
The Israelis are not calling this a second front. There were four rockets. Two people were slightly injured. They believe it's probably some Palestinian group, because there are Palestinian renegade groups in Southern Lebanon, like the PFLP (ph) and others, which also do have some rockets. The U.N. and Lebanese forces trying to root those out in Southern Lebanon right now.
COOPER: All right. Christiane Amanpour, live from Jerusalem. Christiane, thank you.
Still ahead, an emotional Tom Cruise in his own words. What he said about the death of John Travolta's teenage son and the Scientology beliefs he shares with the Travolta family.
And Sarah Palin speaking out on everything from nasty campaign rumors to Katie Couric. Is she actually setting the record straight or trying to rewrite history? Her own words ahead. You can judge for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA FEY, COMEDIAN/WRITER: And I can see Russia from my house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS: What specifically? I'm curious. That you...
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: All of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years. I have a -- I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news. Alaska isn't a foreign country. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin raised a lot of eyebrows across the country. And now the former Republican vice- presidential nominee speaking out. It's her most critical comments yet on the media. Here now in her own words is Sarah Palin, from an interview with conservative filmmaker, John Ziegler.
PALIN: Quite absurd is -- was my interpretation of what was being said. Especially about my own pregnancy, having given birth to Trig four months prior, once the candidacy was announced there in August.
And frustrated, I guess, that I wasn't believed that, yes, Trig was really my son. You know, that rumor persists today even. We're still receiving calls in our state press office regarding Trig and who is the real mother of this child.
When I heard Barack Obama state in one of his interviews on national television that his wife was off limits, meaning family's off limits, you know, "Attack me. I'm the public official. Come after me. I can handle it and we'll duke it out, if need be. But family's off limits." I naively believed, OK, they respected that in him in his demand for that to be adhered to, naively believing that must apply to all of us, right? But it didn't apply.
This report that Bristol and Levy, they're high school dropouts and they're going to just look for government handouts to raise their child and stuff, nothing could be further from the truth. And I've asked some in the media to correct that. And they haven't corrected it, and that gets frustrating.
GRAPHIC: Why didn't she tell Katie Couric what she reads?
COURIC: You know, even in the post-election interviews, Dave, that she's done, nobody's really asked her, "Why didn't you answer that question?"
PALIN: Because, Katie, you're not the center of everybody's universe. Maybe that's why they didn't think to ask that question and so many other things to be asked.
JOHN ZIEGLER, CONSERVATIVE FILMMAKER: It seems to me as if Tina Fey and Katie Couric have been treated as almost heroes or heroines among the media elite for what they -- the perception of what they did to you. Do you feel the same way?
PALIN: Oh, job security's important in my agenda here in the state of just helping those outside of my state also keep their jobs secure.
But yes, I did see Tina Fey was named entertainer of the year, and Katie Couric's ratings have risen.
GRAPHIC: Did media "class bias" cause a Sarah Palin/Caroline Kennedy double standard?
PALIN: I've been interested also to see how Caroline Kennedy will be handled and if she'll be handled with kid gloves or if she will be under such a microscope also. It's going to be interesting to see how that plays out.
And I think that as we watch that, we will, perhaps be able to prove that there is a class issue here, also, that was such a factor in the scrutiny of my candidacy versus, say, the scrutiny of what her candidacy, maybe.
COOPER: Sarah Palin in her own words.
Still ahead tonight, Tom Cruise gets emotional talking about the tragedy in the John Travolta tragedy.
First, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, Roland Burris today told an impeachment committee he never gave anything to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for his appointment to the U.S. Senate. That same committee later wrote unanimously to recommend the Illinois House of Representatives impeach Blagojevich.
The embattled Illinois governor was arrested last month for a number of offenses, including he is accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's old Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her 2-year- old daughter, Caylee, ordered to appear in court today for a preliminary hearing.
The case has drawn national attention since little Caylee was reported missing last summer. Her mother was arrested in October and charged with first-degree murder. Caylee's skeletal remains were found last month.
Seven years ago, this New York doctor donated a kidney to his wife. Well, now the two are involved in a very messy divorce, and he wants the kidney back. His attorney says the organ is worth $1.5 million, which he would take, instead of the kidney.
And the White House, up for sale. All right, fine, it's a replica of the White House, and it's in Atlanta, not D.C. But, hey, for just under $10 million, it can be yours. The owner says the economy has forced him to put the home on the market.
COOPER: How much?
HILL: Just under $10 million. I think we can go in on it together, if you want.
COOPER: Yes. I don't think that's going to happen.
HILL: Probably not.
COOPER: Time now for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can think of.
So let's take a look at the photo. It's the one we had on our blog. A group of what are called oriental small-clawed otters line up on a rock at the London Zoo during the annual winter census.
Our staff winner tonight is Gabe. His caption: "Guess which one takes Viagra."
(SOUND EFFECT: BOING)
COOPER: I don't get it.
Our viewer is Gayle McCauley (ph) from Massachusetts. Her caption: "If you stand on your tippy toes and squint, you can see Russia, too."
(SOUND EFFECT: LAUGHTER)
HILL: And timely.
COOPER: Timely, indeed. A person on our staff had a very similar one.
Gayle, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
HILL: Not that you're saying Gayle stole it or anything.
COOPER: No, no, no, no. No. Just -- completely just great minds think alike.
HILL: OK, clarifying.
COOPER: Up next, Tom Cruise, opening up about the death of Jett Travolta, his good friends John Travolta and Kelly Preston, and discusses Scientology's opinion of medicine.
Also, ahead, Kathy Griffin talking about her New Year's Eve show, and as you might expect, she's not holding back. It's our "Shot of the Day," coming up.
COOPER: John Travolta described him as the most wonderful son who lit up the lives of everyone. Sixteen-year-old Jett Travolta died of a seizure last week. Today, the final farewell from his family.
The private memorial service was held this afternoon at Jumbolair Estates, where the Travolta family lives in Ocala -- Ocala, Florida. There are reports a minister from the Church of Scientology was present at the ceremony. Earlier today Tom Cruise gave an emotional interview about this heartbreaking story. Cruise is a friend of John Travolta. Both are Scientologists. In the taped interview with ABC's "The View," Cruise spoke about the faith's policy on medication and on the loss of Jett Travolta.
BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": Tom, I do want to ask you something that's very sensitive. We were -- we've been talking earlier and a lot of people are about John Travolta and the terrible tragedy with his son, Jett. You're very close to John.
TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: Kelly and I did...
WALTERS: John and Kelly. What are your thoughts?
CRUISE: You know, I -- it's horrific. You know, you have -- it's just horrific. I mean, here's a man who is -- both of them doting parents. You know, just wonderful people. And they -- you know, it's just...
WALTERS: Let me ask you something more specific, then, because there has been criticism. And there's -- there's so much misinformation.
And one of the things that was said -- I mean, it's enough to have to bear the grief of losing a child. But one of the things that was said is that, in your religion, there is not a medication, and you don't unnecessarily take a member of your family or anyone to a doctor. Is that the case?
CRUISE: That's not true. It's actually -- that's just not true. It's actually the opposite where you, you know, they say, look, get your physical, you know, get medication. Get your physical illnesses handled. It's actually the exact opposite.
WALTERS: Go to a doctor if you need.
CRUISE: And these people are, I have to tell you, you know him and you see him and Kelly and they're -- no one. No one. You know, I -- it's horrible. Here's people that are -- they -- I remember Jett when he was born. And, you know, I saw him when he was, I guess, a few months old. And John just adored him. And he -- both of his children, and Kelly. So it's something that, you know, I don't have the words for. And I think...
WALTERS: Well, you know, we appreciate what you're saying to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And the memorial service, as we said, was earlier today.
Up next, well, Kathy Griffin on what happened on New Year's Eve. We'll be right back.
COOPER: All right. Time for "The Shot," Erica, secrets from our New Year's Eve special, sort of.
In case you missed it, after the ball dropped and the crowds cleared, my co-host for the evening, comedian Kathy Griffin, got into, well, I guess you might say a well-known exchange now with a heckler. Words were exchanged. Microphones were on when we thought they were off. Things were said; lessons were learned.
A couple days ago Kathy Griffin talked to Jimmy Kimmel about the fuss and revealed what it's done to her relationship with her mom. Take a look.
KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: And now my mother's not speaking to me.
JIMMY KIMMEL, TALK SHOW HOST: What? Your own mother?
GRIFFIN: My mom cried for three days solid.
KIMMEL: No, she didn't.
GRIFFIN: Yes. She calls me.
GRIFFIN: Yes, and she says, "I've been crying for three days solid. How could you do that to" -- are you ready? -- "my Anderson." She doesn't know him. She's never met him. How could you do that to my Anderson? He's a Vanderbilt, for God's sakes.
And then I love when she does this, that I've shamed the family. Like we're the Rockefellers. It's all, like, drunken Irish people, my family. You've shamed the family again, Kathleen.
COOPER: So Mrs. Griffin, if you're watching, no shame involved. Don't worry. Don't blame Kathy. It's all OK.
HILL: Good of you to put her mind at ease.
COOPER: Because she does watch the show. She likes to have a box of wine and watch the show.
HILL: I love it. Who doesn't love a box of wine with a little AC 360? Come on.
COOPER: Really, the show gets better and better as long as the box is out.
HILL: It's true. You want to keep it in the fridge, though. COOPER: Yes.
HILL: Let's be honest. You don't want to drink it warm.
COOPER: Should be refrigerated, please.
You can see all the most recent "Shots" at AC360.com.
Coming up at the top of the hour, we're going to have the latest on the fighting in the Gaza, as well as the latest in the United Nations Security Council. A new call to end the fighting.
Also, President-elect Obama calling for action on the economy and warning the consequences if lawmakers drag their feet.
COOPER: Tonight, breaking news. A new call to end the war in Gaza, along with a new sign the war could be widening.
And a major new development in the war on al Qaeda in Pakistan. The U.S. kills a pair of terrorists on the FBI's most wanted list.
We begin with Gaza. The U.N. Security Council tonight just a short time ago agreeing on a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire. The measure passing without a no-vote. The U.S. abstained.
More than 750 Palestinians and at least 13 Israelis have died in the Israeli incursion and Hamas rocket attacks.