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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Information About Jackson's Drug Use Revealed; Taliban Breakthrough; Polygamist Sect Vs. Cartels; Protests Reignited in Iran; President Obama's Mixed Reviews
Aired July 9, 2009 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Tonight, breaking news in the Michael Jackson investigation. A source close to the Jackson family telling us they are aware it could turn into a criminal probe. And 360 has learned the scope of that probe is widening.
In fact, a picture coming into focus of a multi-doctor, multi- state, multi-faceted human conveyor belt used to provide Michael Jackson exactly what he wanted and apparently what he wanted in great quantities, powerful prescription drugs.
Randi Kaye has been breaking stories all week long. She joins us tonight with this "360 Exclusive" live from Los Angeles.
So Randi, I know you're learning easily described as some very disturbing details into Michael Jackson's alleged drug history. What are you finding?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, I have right here actually a confidential police document. Now, this is from the Santa Barbara County sheriff's office. It is from 2004.
It contains confidential interviews done with two of Michael Jackson's former security guards, interviews done in preparation for the child molestation case against Jackson.
He was acquitted in that case, you may recall, but there is plenty right here that really paints a very dark picture of Jackson's apparent drug habit and the sophisticated operation that was in place to apparently help him get the drugs and the doctors he may have been getting those drugs from.
We are not naming the security guards, but according to this document that we have, one of them told investigators Jackson was taking, quote, "ten plus Xanax pills a night." And he said that he expressed concerns about that to other Jackson employees and was told by one, quote, "Jackson was doing better because he was down from 30 to 40 Xanax pills a night."
Down from that, so 30 to 40 Xanax pills a night. This is information, Erica, coming right from his own security guards.
HILL: And those numbers are just -- they're almost unfathomable, Randi. What is there in that document, if anything, that's a little bit more specific about how Jackson supposedly got his hands on all of those drugs?
KAYE: One of the security guards told investigators that he would get Xanax prescriptions at pharmacies for Jackson under, quote, "fictitious names, including the security guard's own name." He named three other employees who said -- who he said were also getting prescriptions for the pop star under their names.
Now, the other security guard questioned actually backed that up according to the document. He also said he had picked up prescriptions for Jackson that were in other people's names.
HILL: So, what about the doctors then, Randi? What do security guards say about the doctors that Jackson is apparently getting the drugs and the prescriptions from?
KAYE: Well, we're not going to name the doctors, but one of the security guards actually named five doctors that he said were writing prescriptions for Michael Jackson. Again, not all of those prescriptions were in Michael Jackson's name.
This security guard said in several states across the country -- New York, Florida, California just to name a few -- he personally drove Jackson to different doctors' offices, which really paints a picture of doctor shopping.
And that is in line with what our source close to the investigation is telling us. He told us that investigators want to interview every doctor who ever treated Jackson. So if he was going around the country getting prescriptions, you can see how wide the net really seems to be getting in this investigation.
HILL: It's amazing to think about that. Any of these former employees ever use the word "addiction"?
KAYE: Well, one of the security guards described Jackson as sharp and, quote, "in tune" before the doctors' visits and then afterwards he said he would be, quote, "out of it and sedated."
Now, that same guard said that he talked to one of the doctors, he told investigators that the doctor told him, quote, "Jackson was addicted to Demerol but said he was giving Jackson a placebo to wean him off of it."
Now, according to the document that we have, the security guard who really provided most of the information here quit his job with Jackson after he says, quote, "Jackson fell on his face in a hotel room and hurt himself." This employee told investigators that he told Jackson he was just not comfortable getting prescriptions for him, and he left the job.
Incredible information there, and I know you also spoke with a friend of Jackson's, the guy who apparently tried to jumpstart his career in Las Vegas after the child molestation trial. Did he have any insight for you? KAYE: He sure did. We spoke with a man named Jack Wishnunn (ph). He's known as sort of an international deal maker, and he knew Jackson for 10 years, he told us. He said that when they were trying to get his show started in Vegas back in 2006 he often appeared, quote, "drugged up and incoherent." That's how he described Michael Jackson.
He said sometimes he was so weak, that's his words, so emaciated and thin that he had to use a wheelchair. That Michael Jackson was getting around Las Vegas in a wheelchair. Now, eventually the stage show and the comeback was canceled because this man told me that he just said he just wasn't up to it.
HILL: It's incredible to picture Michael Jackson getting around in a wheelchair in that state. He mentioned that he was drugged up -- appeared drugged up. Did he ever witness Jackson taking any drugs? And if so, what were they?
KAYE: Well, he says that Michael Jackson would never use drugs in front of anyone. He just said that's something that he never did. But he said the general attitude among Jackson's employees and his doctor who hung around him all the time was, quote, "Let's keep the golden goose going and let's just keep him happy."
He said nobody really tried to stop Jackson from taking all the drugs and from harming himself. He said that he was taking all kinds of drugs, including the Xanax that I mentioned earlier, 30 or 40 pills a night at one point. It's just really hard to believe.
HILL: And it's a sad picture on so many levels. Randi Kaye, thank you.
"Digging Deeper" now into not only the sheer magnitude of these drugs, but also the type and how anyone could get to this point, we want to bring in 360 MD Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, when you listen to some of that information that Randi just gave us, as many as 10 Xanax a night down from 30 or 40, how is that possible that someone could actually take that much of this drug?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you nothing about this has been normal or usual. So the first thing that struck me as a doctor is I want to know what the dosage of these pills were. Well, leaving that aside, no matter how you cut it, this is an extremely high dose of Xanax.
Typically what happens, Erica, in situations like this is that people start off taking a few, and they take more and more and they build up tolerance. That's something that people are familiar with. You just eventually get to a point where you're taking more and more.
When we were studying addiction, for example, for a CNN special, one of the pain doctors told me that he had a patient that took 80 Vicodin a day, 80 Vicodin a night. So you can get to that point. It is very, very rare, but it can happen.
HILL: And you mention addiction. Xanax is actually highly addictive, correct?
GUPTA: It is very highly addictive, and that's determined by a couple of things. One is that if you stop taking it, the withdrawal is just awful. People can have tremors, they can even have seizures, they get the shakes, they can have sweats. It's a really, really awful process. And that usually is what dictates addiction.
HILL: One other person you mentioned an addiction to Demerol, which was reportedly, according to this person, being treated that time by a doctor with placebos. Would there be any connection between the treatment perhaps for an addiction to Demerol and this seeming addiction to Xanax?
GUPTA: These are two entirely different classes of drugs. When you're talking about pain pill or pain medications like Demerol and the Xanax falls into what some of the benzodiazepine, big name but a different class of drugs.
There are various medications you use to sort of wean people-off narcotics or wean people off benzos but you don't usually interchange them. So to say that they were giving Demerol to wean off Xanax or something like that or vise versa it seems -- it seems very unlikely.
HILL: Is the Demerol any sort of a red flag to you? I mean, that's a pretty big pain medicine, isn't it?
GUPTA: I'll tell you what -- I mean, absolutely I think it's a red flag. And when you're start mixing these types of medications at the doses that were talking about -- you're talking about something catastrophic potentially happening here, specifically you start to shut down one's ability to drive their own breathing.
So they're just simply not able to breathe on their own, and they can lapse into coma obviously as a result of that. So yes, it's a huge red flag, even with the tolerance that I was just talking about. These doses are just exceedingly high for any human being.
HILL: It's amazing that a body or a person could withstand any of that.
As we've heard from Randi, it almost sounded like there was a lot of -- or there was a lot of visiting of doctors around the country, what a lot of people might call doctor shopping.
GUPTA: You'd also - yes, there was. And I saw some of that same stuff.
You know, what's interesting as we've been investigating this, Erica, over the last couple of weeks now is that how little regulation there is towards preventing that very thing.
I mean, doctor shopping does occur, 100 percent. I can tell you it occurs. I have patients in my neurosurgical practice who I know have doctor shopped in the past. You go from one pharmacy to the next, you can forge names and you get medications in all sorts of different ways, and it is very hard to stop. What we really need and what this speaks to, I think, Erica, is some sort of national registry that can minute-by-minute track the people who are obtaining this level of medication, narcotics, benzodiazepines and other drugs that are potentially dangerous in these doses.
So we don't have it. And it's remarkable how much this sort of thing happens.
HILL: I only have time for a quick yes or no. But do you think that's something that could actually change just based on the celebrity of this case in particular?
GUPTA: I think people are talking about this more than ever before. They're talking about substances being controlled. The answer -- you said a quick answer -- and the answer is yes.
HILL: All right, good. I'll take it.
GUPTA: All right.
HILL: Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Always good to have you with us, thanks.
GUPTA: Thanks, Erica.
HILL: Well, let us know what you think of all this. Join the live chat happening right now at AC360.com. I'm on there and along with some of the staff here at AC360.
As you may have noticed though, Anderson is not with us tonight. That's because he's on his way to Africa for an exclusive interview with President Obama.
Up next, though, it is another "360 Exclusive" tonight.
Michael Ware. Uncovering the outlines of a potential deal to end the fighting in Afghanistan. Learn who's pitching it, how it would work and a big gossip here, a sit-down with the Taliban leader who right now has a $10 million American bounty on his head.
And a little bit later, a look at the lives of the Jackson brothers and sisters; some famous and some forgotten.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LATOYA JACKSON, SISTER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: He always said that his family is first and his fans are second. I know he'd be so happy that you're here supporting him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Latoya, Marlon, Tito, Rebbie. What they're doing today when 360 continues.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HILL: Tonight a "360 Exclusive" about a possible opportunity to end the fighting in Afghanistan. What used to be called American's forgotten war is now America's fastest growing war and President Obama's top priority.
At least 635 Americans have died in combat there since the fighting began. There is a massive American offensive under way right now and no one expect it to be the last one.
But what if it could be?
Tonight in a "360 Exclusive" Michael Ware has learned about talks involving Pakistan and the Taliban and how a deal to end attacks on western forces just might -- might be reached.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I came to these mountains to unravel how the Taliban in Afghanistan are based from here across the border in Pakistan.
In these remote mountain valleys of Pakistan's northwest frontier province, the Taliban can hide, train, smuggle weapons and launch military strikes against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
For generations the border here has been little more than a vague blur among the peaks. And that is what is crippling the American effort in Afghanistan.
(on camera): To put it simply America cannot win the war in Afghanistan. Certainly can't win it with bombs and bullets and it can't win it in Afghanistan alone.
So part of the answer lies here where I'm standing in these mountain valleys in Pakistan on the Afghan border, because this is Al Qaeda and Taliban territory.
Right now there's as many as 100 Taliban on that mountain top between the snow-capped peaks and amid those trees. They're currently under siege from local villages who are driving them from their bunkers. But at the end of the day it's the Pakistani military who tolerates the presence of groups like the Taliban.
And it's not until America can start cutting deals with these people that there's any hope of the attacks on American troops coming to an end.
(voice-over): The key leader the U.S. may have to deal with is this man, Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed cleric who actually created the Taliban and led its regime. The man, who after the 9/11 attacks, sheltered Osama Bin Laden, choosing war with the U.S. rather than surrender Bin Laden.
Even with a $10 million reward on his head, Mullah Omar has defied all American attempts to capture or kill him. He still commands the Afghan Taliban as they continue killing U.S. and NATO troops. He and other top commanders do all of this according to U.S. intelligence from sanctuaries here in Pakistan.
It was the Pakistan military who helped create the Taliban. When the CIA was funding many of these same Afghan groups in the 1980s in their war against the Soviets, it was the Pakistan military that delivered the money, expertise and weapons like stinger missiles.
Now for the first time in this CNN interview, the Pakistan military concedes it still maintains contact with the Taliban.
At the military headquarters, we met Major General Athar Abbas who concedes the army's links with the Taliban were toned down after 9/11, but...
MAJOR GENERAL ATHAR ABBAS, PAKISTAN ARMY SPOKESMAN: But having said that, if more intelligence organization in the world shuts its last door on any other organization.
WARE: And more than talking to the Taliban, the general says the Pakistan military can actually get the Taliban to sit down with the United States and broker a ceasefire.
(on camera): And that's where Pakistan can perhaps provide valuable assistance to the American mission?
ABBAS: I think, yes, that can be worked out. That's possible.
WARE: And this is one of the men who says he can help work that deal.
GENERAL HAMID GUL (RET.) FORMER ISI DIRECTOR GENERAL: People like me who serve the cause of the freedom of Afghanistan.
WARE (voice-over): Former CIA ally General Hamid Gul, once the head of Pakistan's equivalent of the CIA known as the ISI, he is famed as the "Godfather" of the Taliban.
GUL: The guarantees can be given, no problem.
WARE (on camera): How, in terms of American national interests, who does America need to dialogue with?
GUL: Mullah Omar. Nobody else.
WARE (voice-over): Mullah Omar, the most important Taliban leader. But to get him and the other Taliban to the table, Pakistan wants something in return. It wants the United States to use its influence to rein in Pakistan's number one military rival, India.
WARE: India's close association with the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan worries the Pakistanis and the Pakistanis accuse India of supporting armed separatists in one of Pakistan's provinces.
Senior U.S. officials tell CNN the Obama administration is willing to raise those concerns with India and that the U.S. is willing to talk with Mullah Omar and other Taliban commanders -- Erica.
HILL: It's interesting to see if those talks ever actually happen.
Michael Ware, live for us in Baghdad with that exclusive. Thanks.
Just ahead tonight: one of the least likely stories imaginable, a brutal war erupting between a polygamist sect and Mexican drug cartels.
And the latest from Iran where nighttime chants of "God is Great" are now giving way to daytime battle cries of "Death to the Dictator; and a brutal response from the government. All that and more, ahead on 360.
HILL: Coming up, a polygamist sect in Mexico takes on the drug cartels with deadly consequences.
But first, Randi Kaye joining us again with the "360 Bulletin." Hey, Randi.
KAYE: Hi there, Erica.
We begin with the deadliest day in Iraq since American forces pulled out of Iraqi cities. At least 60 killed today in bombings throughout the country. The worst attack was in a northern city of Tal Afar (ph).
The U.S. government is warning that the swine flu may be back, and be back stronger by fall. At a flu summit today, officials said a vaccine should be ready by mid-October. Underscoring the urgency, President Obama interrupted his work at the G-8 Summit to address the conference by phone.
Recent studies show that Americans still are not inclined to splurge at the mall. Sales tracker Thompson Reuters says retail sales for June fell 4.9 percent, compared to a gain of 1.9 percent the year before. This was the tenth straight monthly sales decline.
And are you interested in a green collar job? Do you keep track of your frenemies, are you planning a frugal staycation. Do you even know what I'm talking about?
If not, you can look it up. They are three of about 100 new words added to the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Check it out. The green collar is an adjective used to describe people who work with the environment.
A frenemy, in case you want to know, is essentially a fake friend.
And a staycation is a vacation spent at home or nearby.
I like the staycation, I tried it recently and I've got to tell you, it was very relaxing.
HILL: It's quite good. I remember hearing very positive reports on it. Because Randi, we're really friends and not frenemies.
KAYE: That's right. So, you know, I staycation.
HILL: I do.
Just ahead on 360, American polygamists battling Mexican drug cartels. It is a fight that has now turned deadly. The story and the secrets behind a compound full of U.S. citizens just ahead.
And a bit later, his brothers and sisters: Michael Jackson's siblings, their sorrows and their struggles. Tonight an "Up Close" look at all of them when 360 continues.
HILL: Two more Americans dead as a result of the violence in Mexico. Those victims gunned down this week by drug cartel killers. Now, in addition to being U.S. citizens they were also members of a large polygamist sect with roots on this side of the border.
Gary Tuchman has been following this story. He joins us now live from El Paso, Texas. Gary kind of an odd entwine here of two stories that 360 has been following very closely.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well that's right, Erica. Over the last several months and several years for that matter we've done a lot of stories about polygamy and a lot of stories about Mexican drug cartel violence. But we never imagined the two topics would mesh like this in a very tragic way.
We are in El Paso, Texas just to our south of the Mexican State of Chihuahua. In Chihuahua there's a small town that was founded about 80 years ago by American Mormons from Utah who went down there because they were angry the Mormon Church decided to make polygamy against the religion.
So, they settled there. Eighty years later, not all of the people are polygamist but they are all very vocal against drug cartel violence. Well, apparently they made members of the drug cartel very mad.
This week, about 15 gunmen went inside one of the homes, dragged two men out of the homes who are both American citizens with ten children between them and killed them in a very violent way.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): How did hundreds and hundreds of American polygamists end up living in Mexico for the last eight decades? After the mainstream Mormon Church abandoned the practice of polygamy in the 1890s not all Mormons were happy about it. Some groups that wanted to continue the practice of plural marriage broke off from the church. Some settled here on the Arizona/Utah border. Others who do not want interference from U.S. law enforcement moved north to British Columbia, Canada.
And in 1924, the LeBaron family moved south to Mexico, went into 30 miles from El Paso, Texas from the town of Galiana, in a State of Chihuahua. That's where community members started the Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times. They've lived here for a good part of a century.
About a thousand of them working as farmers and though illegal in Mexico like the U.S., some still practice polygamy.
Today, members of the LeBaron family are very well-known in the local community for their opposition to the drug cartels and their kidnappings.
BENJAMIN LEBARON, COLONIA LEBARON: We want to be an inspiration and the conscience of all afflicted people from kidnapping.
TUCHMAN: This man, 32-year-old Benjamin LeBaron, would not back down to the cartels after his 16-year-old brother Eric was kidnapped this past May. He refused to pay a $1 million ransom, but Eric was eventually released.
Benjamin LeBaron held rallies and marched on the state capital when another church member was kidnapped. But earlier this week the man you seen in the video, Benjamin LeBaron, was killed; dragged from his home and shot gangland style. The LeBaron's has been part of this Mexican community for decades and with the recent drug violence crippling the country, they suffer along with them.
HILL: Gary, it seems pretty obvious that this killing was some sort of message to this community that really had been fighting back. So what's the reaction been in the community? Are they essentially backing down?
TUCHMAN: Well, you're right, it was a message. There was a note found near the bodies that said, "We are very angry that 25 of our people were arrested following these killings arrested for drug violations." They said "Don't ever do it again." And that was the note, it was a warning clearly.
But the members of this town Colonia LeBaron, said they will not back down. They admit they're scared, they say, they don't have arms. Mexican weapons laws are very strict, so they don't have guns to protect themselves; that worries them.
But they say they will continue to fight, they will continue to make an issue about this. At the very least they want more protection from the state government of Chihuahua and the national government out of Mexico City.
HILL: All right, Gary, thanks.
Tell us what you think about this story. You can join the live chat -- it's happening right now at AC360.com. And we're going to keep Gary Tuchman around because we're going to dig a little deeper on this battle between the polygamists and the Mexican drug cartels.
We'll take a look at what's at stake here and what this means for America. We're going to take you inside that war next door.
Plus, there are allegations of racism at a Philadelphia area pool. Dozens of children say they were kicked out simply because of their race. The swim club denies it. We have the details.
HILL: Before the break, we told you about a polygamist community, a breakaway sect from the Mormon Church which calls Mexico home. Hundreds of Americans belong to this polygamist group, and this week two of its members were killed by a drug cartel. They were described as crime fighters who stood up to the cartels and who died defending what they believe in.
Fred Burton is a counterterrorism expert joining us tonight from Austin, Texas. Also with us, Gary Tuchman, who is in El Paso tonight.
Fred, Americans, as we learned from Gary, beaten, dragged out of their homes and murdered in cold blood. It seems pretty brazen, but in some respects is this really just another day sadly in Mexico?
FRED BURTON, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: Erica, I'm afraid you're right. The area where this took place is a disputed territory. You have the Juarez and the Sinaloa cartel fighting over this geography. What I find more troubling is that this location has the largest concentration of Mexican federal law enforcement and military than any place we have ever seen here at STRAFOR in following Mexico for the past two or three years.
I look at this more as a failure on the part of the Mexican authorities to protect Mr. LeBaron and his family after the abduction of his brother.
HILL: What do you think that failure stems from? Is the fact that the government simply can't control these drug cartels or is it more about corruption?
BURTON: I think it's a combination of both. I think that you're looking at the inability to secure and hold territory. I think you're looking at intelligence gaps here as to what this group may do. And it's really unclear as to who may have murdered him, although the leading suspects are clearly probably El Chapo who leads the Sinaloa cartel.
HILL: Gary, we talked -- you talked a little bit before the break about the residents there, how they're not backing down although they are afraid. Have they talked at all about whether or not they feel they're getting support from the local law enforcement? And this was essentially -- we're told there was an anonymous tip and then two guys end up dead.
TUCHMAN: They have had troops move into their town right now so they take relief about that. But they are absolutely still scared, as are many people throughout the entire nation of Mexico.
My team and I were in Tijuana a couple of months ago and we talked to a family with small children. The small children never leave their house anymore. The parents talked about how they were out all hours of the night when they were kids. It was perfectly safe.
Mexico is a very difficult place to live right now because there's so much terror and people are just very frightened everywhere, particularly in this little town, Colonia LeBaron.
HILL: One thing that was surprising, though -- and Fred, I want to pose this to you, a point that Gary brought up earlier -- was the fact that Eric, the little brother, 16-year-old brother of Benjamin LeBaron -- one of the victims Gary told us about -- was kidnapped recently, held for ransom and they wanted $1 million.
The family didn't pay, and they returned this young boy. That sounds like it's rather out of character.
BURTON: It is. It's very odd that no ransom was exchanged. I find that very odd.
Now, of course, this could be a new tactic, meaning if no money was paid to release this child, that may be a new public relations kind of move that the kidnap and ransom negotiators may have taken. Just don't announce that a ransom was actually paid.
HILL: OK. So they made that announcement.
Moving forward, basically, in fact, I have to say it doesn't paint a real -- it doesn't give a lot of confidence, the picture you paint, of how things are run in Mexico. But do you think that they are starting to make effective changes?
BURTON: We see no stop or slowdown this year of the violence. In fact, we're trending on the same kind of body count stats from last year. There's no segment, as Gary said, of the country that's not touched by this cartel violence.
Again, I hate to say it, but this is just another day in Mexico.
HILL: Well, we hope that something will change soon, but it certainly makes you wonder when.
Fred Burton, good to have you with us. And Gary Tuchman, thank you.
Fred Burton, by the way, writing about America's role in Mexico, "Surging Gun Tree." It's a fascinating read. You can check it out at AC360.com. He also clarifies some of the numbers that have been out there in terms of how many guns are actually coming to Mexico from the U.S. A great read there.
Tomorrow night we have a 360 investigation with some help from Erin Brockovich, a crusader, a champion for people's rights. We actually teamed up with her on a story -- you won't believe this -- about the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. It is not over yet.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Desperation is mounting here. Families are terrified about their health.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Death, cancer. Everyone here deserves a future.
GUPTA: This is the largest environmental disaster ever.
ERIN BROCKOVICH, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: We have to convince someone that inhaling cancer-causing chemicals is bad for you. It just doesn't make any sense to me at all. Somebody has to protect these people because they're going to find out ten years too late. It will be the "oh, oops" moment. "I do have cancer. I am sick." And then there will no recourse for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Everyone deserves a future, and they also deserve answers. That story, "The Search for Justice," tomorrow night here on 360.
Coming up tonight on 360, new protests erupting in Iran. Thousands take to the street and not just demonstrators.
And later, family tragedy: a look at the Jackson siblings from their very public grief to their private lives; an up-close look just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARLON JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S BROTHER: Michael, when you left us, a part of me went with you. A part of you will live forever within me.
HILL: In Iran, an anniversary sparking new protests today: an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people filling the streets of Tehran on the tenth anniversary of a major student uprising there against the Islamic Regime. Protestors using this occasion to resume demonstrations against the outcome of last month's presidential election. Police armed with batons dispersed crowds with teargas. The new demonstrations come after a relative lull following last month's bloody crackdown.
Joining me now, Reza Aslan; he's the author of "How to Win a Cosmic War" and a contributor to "The Daily Beast." Reza, always good to have you with us.
REZA ASLAN, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Thanks, Erica.
HILL: As we mentioned, today, of course marks the tenth anniversary of that uprising at Tehran University. But how are both the protests of today and even the pro-democracy movement of today different from a decade ago?
ASLAN: They're very different in a lot of ways. I think most importantly they're more experienced now than they were a decade ago.
The uprising at Tehran University often referred to as the 18- tier massacre, that was the date that the massacre occurred, which is today, of course, July 9th, was primarily university students calling for greater rights, greater freedoms. And it was very easy for the government at that time to say that this was a threat to the stability of the state and then to crush the protestors without any kind of response, any kind of reaction or consequences.
Ten years later the protestors now are a little bit more sophisticated. They understand that the way to change this regime is by using the legal means that the regime gives you, limited as they are, to your advantage to in a sense shame the regime, to say that what you stand for is not what you are actually doing in practice.
In a way it makes it much harder to just stamp out a movement by just opening fire on protestors like they did ten years ago.
HILL: Well, and it's also easier to get that message out because of the technology that's available to them today.
ASLAN: You're absolutely right.
Ten years ago, there was this incredibly iconic moment that I wrote about on "The Daily Beast" today when a young protestor by the name of Ahmed Batebi took a shirt stained with blood and held it aloft. And that picture which was flashed on the cover of the "Economist" the next day became really the symbol for that student uprising.
Now multiply that by 100, by 1,000. You think of the image of that poor woman, Neda Agha Soltan, who was shot by a Basij member and watching her slowly pass away; that image was seen millions of times around the world. So it's a whole new world that these protestors are dealing with as well.
HILL: And you mentioned, too, using that to their advantage, not just in the way they protest but the technology to essentially shame the regime into showing that they're not what they say they are.
At this point, though, is there any way for the Iranian government to basically regain its religious reason, its electoral legitimacy or is that irreparably tarnished?
ASLAN: It is irreparably tarnished. That's the perfect way of putting it, Erica. Unless this government figures out some way to at least address some of the grievances and demands of this massive protest movement, which is not really a pro-reform movement, it's really an anti-Ahmadinejad movement that has swept up at least half of the population if not more. It's going to have a real legitimacy problem moving forward.
HILL: But in terms that there's that problem but then there's also the reality, Reza, which sometimes is tough to understand in a country like the U.S.
We're a little tight on time -- but I mean what is -- what are the chances that we're going to see real regime change in Iran or even democracy one day?
ASLAN: Well, you're definitely going to see democracy one day. I mean, the Iran of 2009 bears no resemblance to the Iran of 1979 or '89 or for that matter '99; 70 percent of the population under 30, 50 percent under 24. Democracy is coming to this country, but it's going to be a long, slow process.
Right now, the real issue is that the revolutionary guard, the military intelligence apparatus is becoming much more politicized; they're gaining control over the state. And this has really galvanized some of the major factors within the regime itself to join the protest movement.
HILL: Truly just the beginning of the story. Reza Aslan, always great to have you, thanks.
ASLAN: Thanks, Erica.
HILL: At the G-8 Summit in Italy, President Obama said G-8 members and their partners in the world's major emerging economies have made important strides in combating climate change. The critics were quick to point out the meeting didn't produce specific targets for reducing greenhouse emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, that is.
Tomorrow Mr. Obama will meet with the Pope and then it is on to Ghana where he'll sit down with Anderson for an exclusive interview.
Back at home, President Obama has a lot on his plate.
And there are new poll numbers that suggest some of his supporters are growing impatient. Tom Foreman has the "Raw Politics."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost six months after taking office, President Obama is still taking the world by storm, highly popular overseas and at home, too. However, the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll found a Jekyll-and-Hyde side to his support. Seventy percent of those surveyed say he's a strong leader, almost as many say he is tough enough, but just 53 percent say he has a clear plan for solving the country's problems. All three measures are way down from February.
At "The Washington Post," Chris Cillizza is watching the shifting tides. He says Democrats are holding firm. It's the independents who are restless.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": People are saying, "Wait a minute. We elected this guy to fix the economy." Is it unfair to expect the president to fix the economy in six months? Yes. Does that mean it doesn't matter in terms of politics? No. The key to Democratic successes in both 2006 as well as President Obama's win in 2008 are that independents largely voted like Democrats.
FOREMAN: On the recession, health care, and the wars, the president wants patience.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Change doesn't happen overnight.
FOREMAN: But even overseas reviews are now mixed.
(on camera): A new international study found that in many nations, including China, Mexico, and Indonesia, people believe President Obama will push America's relations with their countries in the right direction eventually.
(voice-over): But so far they find those policies still lacking on military power, respecting international law, global warming.
Steven Cole runs the nonpartisan worldpublicopinion.org.
STEVEN COLE, WORLDPUBLICOPINION.ORG : There's a perception still that the U.S. is kind of a bully, that it pushes countries around. They're saying we're looking for some real changes, some fundamental changes in U.S. foreign policy and we don't see those changes yet.
FOREMAN: And that's changing numbers abroad and at home for President Obama.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
HILL: Up next, kicked out for being black? A day care center says dozens of children were forced from a pool because of their race. The swim club denies it. We have the details. We'll let you decide.
And back in the spotlight since their brother's death. We take an up-close look at Michael Jackson's eight brothers and sisters, their lives and their relationships with the pop star. That's ahead.
HILL: The world lost a star, but they lost a brother. Tonight, as the Jacksons mourn the death of the "King of Pop," we're learning much more about this famous and understandably heartbroken family. Here now, the Jacksons "Up Close."
HILL (voice-over): They started this journey together. And now the Jackson family grieves together; mourning the brother whose star shined the brightest.
M. JACKSON: I would like for you to give our brother, my twin brother, Brandon, a hug from me. I love you, Michael, and I'll miss you.
HILL: Marlon Jackson, barely a year and a half older than Michael, speaking of his twin, who died at birth.
The closeness of this family has been well-documented and increasingly public. Speaking at the B.E.T. Awards, Janet spoke of their Michael.
JANET JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S SISTER: To you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family. And he will forever live in all of our hearts.
HILL: While the Jacksons may be the most famous family in music history, only a few of the nine children raised by Joe and Katherine Jackson managed to make a career of their talent.
Forty-three-year-old Janet is perhaps the most well-known after Michael. The actress and singer was on a film set when she learned about her brother's death.
Fifty-nine-year-old Rebbie Jackson, the oldest of the siblings. She had a hit single in the mid-'80s, is married with three children and calls Las Vegas home.
LaToya, 53, made headlines when she posed for Playboy and again for a tell-all book. She is now divorced, living in Beverly Hills.
Shortly after the memorial, the three sisters addressed their brother's fans.
LATOYA JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S SISTER: I just want to thank you all for being here for him. He loves you very, very much. Thank you.
HILL: As for the surviving members of "The Jackson 5" Jackie is a divorced 58-year-old dad of two who promotes his son's music career.
Fifty-five-year-old Tito, the guitarist for the group, is also divorced. He was recently a celebrity judge on a British reality show.
Marlon is married with 3 children. There were reports the 52- year-old was working at a San Diego department store last year. Perhaps not the life their parents imagined, but the lesser known siblings may have been the lucky ones.
M. JACKSON: We would never, never understand what he endured, not being able to walk across the street without a crowd gathering around him. Being judged, ridiculed, how much pain can one take?
HILL: 54-year-old Jermaine, the original lead singer of the group, has been married and divorced three times. JERMAINE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S BROTHER: I said, "Michael, why did you go? Why did you leave? Why did you leave me?" I -- what was going through my mind, Larry, I wish it was me there instead of him.
HILL: Log on to AC360.com to trace the family tree of the Jacksons. You can also read part of LaToya's controversial book there.
Let's get a check now on some of the other headlines with Randi Kaye in this "360 Bulletin." Hello again. The hardest working woman at this network, I think, Randi.
KAYE: Thanks Erica.
Four workers at a historic black cemetery near Chicago are facing felony charges in a grisly grave-digging scheme. They're accused of digging up hundreds of corpses and reselling the plots. The suspects allegedly dumped the remains in a remote part of the graveyard or reburied them with other bodies.
In Pennsylvania, a day care center that paid to use a private swim club's pool on a weekly basis is alleging racial discrimination, a charge the club denies. Day care officials say swim club members made racist comments about the black and Hispanic children who came to the pool and then canceled their swimming privileges.
New details in that deadly monorail accident at Disney World: the local television station reporting that the workers in charge of monitoring the tracks were actually outside the park at a nearby Denny's restaurant at the time of the crash leaving a maintenance worker in charge. A 21-year-old train operator was killed. Disney says it has suspended three employees pending an investigation but gave no other details.
And an unusual request from a California animal shelter, it's looking for television sets for its cats. Workers noticed rescued felines were actually drawn to the shelter's only television, not just for the warmth but they allegedly liked watching TV. The shelter says being a couch potato can help these abused or neglected animals get used to being around people again.
I don't know about you, but I do have a cat. I do have a cat and he does tend to watch a movie with me when I'm watching TV.
HILL: You know, sometimes Lulu does like to jump at the TV, every now and then. I'm going to have to watch her a little bit more closely now. I'll report back.
KAYE: My cat actually once went behind the TV to see what was going on there. He couldn't understand how the animals on the TV were there.
HILL: Oh, see, that's good. You could have won money with that on one of those shows, stupid pet tricks or something.
HILL: Right now, somebody's chance to win a T-shirt. On to our "Beat 360" winners: our daily challenge to viewers, of course; a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture we post on the blog everyday.
Tonight's picture: actor George Clooney attending the opening ceremony at the Nobel for Peace Hall in San Dimitri of Italy.
Our staff winner, Chuck, his caption: "Sure, Anderson Cooper is considered king of the Silver Foxes, but can he do jazz hands?" We know he can't because he refuses to dance. We're lost, A.C.
Our viewer winner, RJ, with this caption, which I love: "Ten times. Ten times, Erica Hill has turned me down."
HILL: You know...
KAYE: Is it true?
HILL: Randi, we're friends. If I ever heard from George Clooney, don't you think you'd know?
KAYE: Yes. I do.
HILL: I'd tell you.
KAYE: I don't think you'd be turning him down.
HILL: You know, George, if you want to drop an e-mail, go for it. I could get you a "Beat 360" T-shirt, George Clooney. I'm just saying.
RJ, yours is on the way.
Still ahead, on the New York subway train, a spirited tribute to Michael Jackson. The music was blaring, the riders grooving. It was all good. It's also tonight's "Shot."
HILL: Randi, tonight's "Shot," a dance vigil for Michael Jackson. It actually happened the day after he died on New York's subway in the last car of the Brooklyn-bound "L" train to be exact. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: Apparently a Jackson fan used Twitter to spread the word about the celebration as the train raced toward Brooklyn. The party really heated up.
Just another day in the New York City subway, Randi. That's what it's like every day on my way to work.
KAYE: I've never seen people having such a good time on the subway or getting that close to each other.
HILL: Me, either. I think I live on the wrong subway line.
KAYE: Nice way to honor him though, I will say.
HILL: It is. It really was.
That does it for this edition of 360. Thank for watching.
Anderson is on his way to Africa for an exclusive interview with President Obama.
"LARRY KING" starts right now.