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Is Anti-Obama Political Rhetoric Dangerous?; Chicago's Deadly Streets

Aired September 30, 2009 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, we begin breaking news: two disasters, one after the other, unfolding as we speak, a massive earthquake scores dead, thousands trapped, right after another earthquake and wall of water levels a South Pacific island paradise. We have reports on both tonight.

Also, why can't the killing be stopped? Chicago's murder epidemic taking one young life after another year after year. And now, after millions of your tax dollars spent to help, the killings continue. Who's dropping the ball? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And, later, "Raw Politics," raw and ugly -- a conservative blogger outlines a coup against President Obama. Somebody puts a poll on Facebook asking if the president should be killed. Liberals are saying the rhetoric may lead to violence. Conservatives say they are trying to stifle honest dissent -- both of those sides represented as James Carville and Bill Bennett square off tonight.

We begin, though, with the breaking news, the second major earthquake to hit the South Pacific in two days, this one magnitude 7.6. You're looking at people on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The city is called Padang, the coastal capital of western Sumatra. Nearly a million people live there. Thousands now may be trapped beneath the rubble of buildings, including two hospitals.

There is significant uncertainty. Phone lines are down. Power is out. Rescue workers are rushing to the scene, including Red Cross disaster management coordinator Wayne Ulrich.


COOPER: Wayne, what are you hearing from your people on the ground? What is the situation, as best you know?

WAYNE ULRICH, RED CROSS DISASTER MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR: The situation on the ground is -- is not good.

The Red Cross, along with the government, have been working through the night in heavy rain, trying to evacuate and move people out of broken buildings to safer areas, which has not been an easy task, because a lot of electricity is down. Communication is down. And, actually, moving people in heavy torrential rain is -- is one -- is a difficult feat in itself. But trying to move them out of buildings is -- is certainly not -- not -- not easy. COOPER: Do you have any sense of what the real death toll may be? The government official in Indonesia had 75 confirmed dead, but said it could go into the -- the thousands, that an unknown number of people may be trapped beneath rubble.

ULRICH: I would certainly -- I would certainly believe that there are, you know, maybe -- maybe more than 100 people dead. But, again, we don't have -- we aren't able to confirm that now.

The sun is just rising. And, as the sun rises, so does the -- the -- the kind of awareness of -- of the size and the magnitude of the situation.

COOPER: The reports we have been getting are -- are people trying to dig through rubble to -- to look for loved ones, I mean, literally using their hands, not even heavy equipment, because it's simply just not around.

ULRICH: Well, indeed, the -- the -- the area that was affected, it's very large. Getting into those areas is not easy, even on -- when there is no problem.

So, moving heavy equipment, moving people, moving vehicles into those areas does take a lot of time anyway. And now the problem is complicated and -- magnitude because of frightened people on the streets.

COOPER: In the wake of the tsunami, you prepositioned equipment in this area, and people are far more informed than they used to be. I understand a number of people, you know, immediately went to try to seek higher ground.

ULRICH: Well, yes.

We're now coming up to the fifth anniversary, the fifth-year anniversary of the -- the tremendous tsunami. And, in those five years, there's been an intensive amount of energy to train. So, certainly, when this earthquake happened, many people fled their homes, went to higher ground. Fortunately, a tsunami did not come.

I do believe that we have -- have prevented the -- the death toll from even being more.

COOPER: We have also heard reports that some of the hospitals themselves may have been damaged.

ULRICH: Correct. We -- we -- we have also confirmed that, indeed, one of the district hospitals has been badly damaged. We have made a -- a makeshift evacuation center at that place.

COOPER: If -- if the death toll continues to rise as daylight comes and -- and more people are discovered and more wreckage is gone through, it -- it seems like you're looking at a very difficult situation.

I mean, a city of 800,000 people or so, an area with more people than that cut off, difficult to get to, as you said, in the best of times, torrential rains happening, no electricity. For people stuck on the ground who are still alive and searching for loved ones, it -- it is going to be a very difficult several days.

ULRICH: Oh, absolutely.

For the Red Cross alone, we have more than 90 people -- 90 people out in -- in these areas all through the night. And 90 -- 90 people is just a touch, just a small part of what will be needed indeed to really reach -- reach these areas.

COOPER: Wayne, I -- I wish you the best, and we will be talking to you in the days ahead. Thank you.

ULRICH: I'm sure.



COOPER: Some of our people just landed on the ground there. We're trying to establish contact with them to get a sense of what they are seeing -- reports very sketchy right now.

The Java quake came the day after an even bigger one struck between the Pacific Samoa and American Samoa. Not long after the earth stopped moving, killer waves came ashore, leveling entire coastal towns. Take a look at that. This is one of them. Water lifted massive boulders from a protective jetty, turned them into rolling weapons hundreds of yards inland.


PAUL DAVIES, ITV REPORTER (voice-over): Small wonder the couple who filmed the ocean surging over American Samoa, carrying vehicle and trees before it, started to pray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lord, Jesus Christ, please give us the power to...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, give us the power to...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... accept the things that are going on here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We understand that this is the power of nature.

DAVIES: Radio host Joey Cummings was on air as it happened.

JOEY CUMMINGS, GENERAL MANAGER, SOUTH SEAS BROADCASTING: At this point, trees, boats, cars, trucks were all floating past my second- story window. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was a report from correspondent Paul Davies of ITN.

More than 100 dead in American Samoa. President Obama has declared it a major disaster area. Supplies, relief workers are being flown into the island right now -- the first C-130 arriving this evening from Hawaii. A Navy frigate in the area is on the way.

Just for perspective, American Samoa is about 2,500 miles from Hawaii and 4,500 miles from the West Coast.

As always, a lot more online on this and other stories at You can also join the live chat now under way.

Up next: kids killing kids in Chicago. You know the story. You have heard police and politicians promise to do something. There's even federal stimulus money flowing into help, but the killings go on. Why? We're trying to keep them honest.

Later, "Raw Politics": new warnings that over-the-top rhetoric is creating a climate for violence against the president.


JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There are a lot of people on -- on -- on that can't control their emotions. And for -- if it does -- if something does happen, it's -- it's going to be -- the consequences of this would be pretty dramatic.



COOPER: "Raw Politics" now and a question: Is President Obama at risk, not politically, but physically? Has the political heat over issues big and small gotten so hot, it threatens the president's life?

We should by pointing out that most people on all sides are law- abiding and reasonable. A lot of the people bringing guns are doing it for publicity. Some of the actions, though, and some of the rhetoric is simply not.

In a column published in the NewsMax Web site, John L. Perry said -- quote -- "Military intervention is what Obama's agenda for fundamental change toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America" -- in other words, a coup. They have now since removed that article.

Congressman Patrick Kennedy, whose uncles John and Bobby were assassinated, warns that angry opposition to health care reform could lead to violence. There are consequences, he said, to angry rhetoric.

Today, Thomas Sowell in "The National Review" compared the president to a banana republic despot, asking -- and I quote -- "Do we want to become the world's largest banana republic?" And, in "The New York Times," columnist Thomas Friedman compared the atmosphere now to how it felt shortly before a gunman murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He wrote, "I have seen this play before," drawing a sharp response from GOP Chairman Michael Steele.



MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Where do these nut jobs come from? I mean, come on, stop this. I mean, wait a minute.

JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": So, wait a minute. Tom Friedman is a nut job?

STEELE: Well, but I'm just saying, to make those kinds of equations, you know, examples, and put that out there that way, to me, is just crazy.

And, yes, I mean, I'm sorry, but you -- if you're -- if you're going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position.



The "Raw Politics" now and the question: Are they dangerously raw politics?

With political contributors, left and right, James Carville and Bill Bennett.

Bill, as you know, Tom Friedman of "The New York Times" basically said that anger from the right wing of the Republican Party is putting President Obama's life in danger.

He writes -- quote -- "Something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination."

Is that a valid concern?


There are always nuts, of course, in the country. There are nuts in both parties. But to talk about conservative opposition to health care at these town hall meetings as, in general, going in that direction is just crazy.

I have been to those meetings. I'm sponsoring one next week, having a tea party in New York. Maybe you can come, Anderson. It's -- it's not a bunch of crazy people. It's people who are concerned about what's going on, about the direction of government.

The middle West is not the Middle East. To draw the analogy with Rabin, I think, is -- is stretched. By the way, the last two presidents who were shot at were Republicans, Ronald Reagan, almost successfully, and -- and Gerald Ford, by -- by people who were not conservatives.

COOPER: James, are you concerned about the -- the possibility of violence against President Obama?

CARVILLE: A little. I am a little bit concerned, be it President Obama or -- or -- or sort of political figures in general. I think it's pretty -- pretty raw out there.

And, look, you had this thing in Tennessee where this right-wing extremist went into a Unitarian church and killed a bunch of people, same thing you saw in Pittsburgh. And we saw what happened to this doctor in -- in -- in Kansas. We saw what happened at the Holocaust Museum.

All these people, you know, were pretty far out there and had a lot of this literature. I don't think that the mainstream conservative or somebody like -- like Secretary Bennett is -- is -- is doing this. But, yes, it is -- it is a little queasy out there. And -- and -- and...

BENNETT: Well, thanks.

CARVILLE: ... it -- there's a pretty rough atmosphere.

Yes, well...


CARVILLE: But it -- it -- some of this stuff is getting pretty rough out there.

BENNETT: Thanks for the compliment.

I would have more impressed with Friedman if he had pointed out at all the Bush protests all the signs that said, kill Bush, blow up his F-ing house, bomb him. We never hear about this from our distinguished columnist at "The New York Times." And I just think a little even-handedness would be fair.

Let's remember the Kennedys, you know, were shot, one by a Palestinian terrorist, and -- and -- and the other by a -- by a communist. So, you know, if we want to start doing the politics of this, I -- I don't say the left is crazy. I say they're mistaken. I just -- I just don't like this kind of argument.

COOPER: James, Patrick Kennedy, obviously, who had two uncles assassinated, says he's concerned about political violence.

He says -- quote -- "There are consequences to violent rhetoric. Some people can see through TV ratings and right-wing talk show hosts that just try to create some theater, but, unfortunately, there are some that can't see through it. And that's the danger in it."

COOPER: I mean, to Bill's point, there's always people out there who are saying things which are beyond the pale about any politician. Do you think it's really different or worse against President Obama?

CARVILLE: You know, it -- it -- it -- it does seem you got people talking about and NewsMax talking about a coup. And you got some of this.

It -- it -- you know, I'm sure that we can go sort of back and forth on this. Just my own impression is that -- that it's a little rawer than -- than I can remember it.

But I'm sure that we're going to get a lot of thing -- and Tom Friedman has got a big column. And he's a smart guy. And he can defend himself pretty good.

But, you know, these four things -- instances that I cited of, you know, people -- I think that some of this stuff gets out there, and there are a lot of people on -- on -- on that can't control their emotions. And for -- if it does -- if something does happen, it's -- it's going to be -- the consequences of this would be pretty dramatic. I wouldn't want to think about it.

COOPER: James -- James, what do you make of Bill Clinton saying -- former President Clinton saying that the vast right-wing conspiracy which he believes was against him is still out there and is now working against President Obama?

CARVILLE: Well, the difference is, is that, of course, we now know there was a vast right-wing conspiracy. You had tobacco companies paying people to publish stuff in "The New Republic."


CARVILLE: I mean, we have documented that.

The difference now is, it's not a conspiracy. It's out in the open.


CARVILLE: They're not even trying -- they're not even trying to hide it anymore. I mean, back then, they were -- you know, they were trying to pass cash under the table.


CARVILLE: But, now, it's all out in the open.


BENNETT: James...

CARVILLE: ... I mean, look, our own Jeff Toobin documented all of this. And everybody knows that there was. It's not a -- that's not a -- it's a historical fact.

But I would say it's less conspiracy now and it's more out in the open.


BENNETT: I wonder if I'm part of this vast right-wing conspiracy.

And why the heck Bill Clinton would want to bring us back to those days -- let's remember why the phrase vast right-wing conspiracy was hatched, in order to cover up his incredible felonious behavior and his behavior with an intern, totally inappropriate. Why he wants to hearken back to that, I don't know.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there.

James Carville, Bill Bennett, appreciate you time. Thanks, guys.

BENNETT: Thank you.

CARVILLE: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, we have more breaking news out of Indonesia: yet another earthquake rocking the island of Sumatra, another one, a 6.8- magnitude quake this year, hard on the heels of the 7.6 tremors that killed scores and may have trapped thousands in the rubble of Sumatra in the city of Padang.

We have a photojournalist who has just arrived on the scene. We're trying now to establish contact with him about this new quake. We will get you information from the ground as soon as we can.

Just ahead tonight: kids killing kids -- Chicago mourning the murder of another student. Why is it happening? Why is it still happening? What are school officials and police doing to stop it? We will hear from them. We will keep up on -- "Keeping Them Honest."

And later, "Crime & Punishment" and Roman Polanski. Supporters say he fled the country because the judge went back on a plea deal. Randi Kaye investigates the circumstances of that deal, how it came apart and how it came to be.


COOPER: Well, as we continue to follow the breaking news out of Indonesia, let's get caught up on tonight's other top stories.

Erica Hill has a 360 news and business bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Environmental Protection Agency now going after big polluters, proposing new rules which will require new large power plants and factories to install technology that captures greenhouse gases. An ambitious program to regulate emissions from trucks and cars will take effect early next year.

You can say goodbye to Saturn -- General McChrystal shutting down the 19-year-old brand after failing to reach a deal to spin off the division. More than 13,000 people at some 350 Saturn dealerships -- dealerships -- across the country are expected to lose their jobs. Saturn owners will be able to get their vehicles serviced at GM dealerships.

And Ken Lewis the latest casualty in the massive financial meltdown, which, of course, erupted just over a year ago. He is announcing he will step down as Bank of America's CEO by the end of the year. He was stripped of his chairman title already earlier this year.

And some new rules for the dorms at Tufts University: no sex while your roommate is home. That's right.


HILL: Also a no-no, according to this 2009-2010 handbook, so- called sexiling, exiling, or...

COOPER: Sexiling?

HILL: Yes. It's like exiling with sex involved.

COOPER: What will these kids think of next?

HILL: These crazy kids. And it was -- well, actually, it's the university that thought of it, apparently. You can't banish your roommate somewhere else if you need to create more privacy.

One student said they thought it was kind of funny there was a rule about it. A university spokeswoman told one of our local affiliates they wouldn't comment on disciplinary action if the rules were broken.

COOPER: I have never heard that term.

HILL: Sexiling. I think it's -- it's new. It's like sexting.

COOPER: I think it must be. These kids, they think of -- they think of everything.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: It's like the sexting, the sexiling.

HILL: I'm sure the parents are really excited about this, too. "Oh, good, they're setting up ground rules."

COOPER: What -- what will they think of next?

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Up next, we're looking for answers in Chicago -- another kid killed. What is the city doing to actually stop the violence?

Also tonight, Polanski's plea deal -- the agreement he made with prosecutors after raping a girl more than 30 years ago. Did the court break its promise with the filmmaker? That's what a lot of his supporters say. Randi Kaye looks into the details ahead.


COOPER: On Friday, President Obama will be in Denmark to make a personal pitch for his adopted hometown of Chicago to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The city's dream of getting the Games is being overshadowed by the wave of violence that's taken scores of young Chicago lives for years now.

The latest victim, Derrion Albert, the honor student savagely beaten to death, the killing recorded on videotape. Four teenagers have been charged with his murder.

Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president is deeply concerned about the situation in Chicago.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is something that the administration has been working on. This is not just a Chicago-specific problem. Obviously, youth crime and gang violence are something that this administration takes seriously. And -- and we will have more on that soon.


COOPER: 360 has been covering the city's violence for a long time -- too long, frankly. We have traveled to Chicago. We have done programs there. We have met with officials.

But, for all the answers, all the talk, kids are still killing kids. The question is, why? Why is it happening, and why can't it be stopped? It's gotten so bad that U.S. Senate candidate Andy Martin wants to impose martial law on the city.

I will talk live with Chicago's top cop in just a moment, but, first, Gary Tuchman tonight "Keeping Them Honest."


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's become an agonizing ritual in Chicago, the makeshift memorials to young people killed, angry town halls, this time gathering because of what we're seeing on this cell phone video camera, 16-year-old Derrion Albert beaten to death by other kids. Four youths have been arrested.

Dr. Steven Salzman knows all about it firsthand.

Since we first met him three months ago:

STEVEN SALZMAN, TRAUMA SURGEON, ADVOCATE CHRIST MEDICAL CENTER: There have been 268 shootings. And of the 268 shootings, 100 of them have been teenagers.

TUCHMAN: And that's just one hospital. Thirty-seven public school students were killed in Chicago during the last school year. That compares with 23 in Los Angeles, which is a much larger city. This has been going on for years.

So, "Keeping Them Honest," we ask, why can't Chicago fix this murderous problem?

RON HUBERMAN, CEO, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: I think there are lots of things that have gone terribly wrong.

TUCHMAN: Ron Huberman is the CEO of Chicago's public schools, the boss. He says the schools are about to start spending $30 million in stimulus money for programs that will target at-risk teens. But that's certainly not a quick fix.

(on camera): When you talk to parents whose kids go to some of these schools that have the highest activity...


TUCHMAN: ... could you tell these parents, with the -- look in their eyes honestly, that it's safe for their kids to walk home by themselves?

HUBERMAN: Well, I can tell them that we're certainly doing everything in our power that we can to make them safe.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): City Alderman Carrie Austin represents the neighborhood where Derrion Albert was killed.

(on camera): How come this is happening in your ward?

CARRIE AUSTIN, CHICAGO CITY ALDERMAN: Well, I don't -- I don't have a how come, because, if I had a how come, I would have a solution.

TUCHMAN: Alderman Austin has represented her ward, one of 50 districts in the city, for 15 years. And she has a most pitifully unique vantage point of this crisis. Of the 37 public school students killed in Chicago during the last school year, she says 13, more than one-third, were killed in her district.

What do you do here? You have so many young people killed in your area, in your ward.

AUSTIN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

TUCHMAN: What are you doing about it?

AUSTIN: Well, I think that I'm trying to provide as many social services as possible. I think that there's much more that -- I think it needs to be a collaborative effort.

TUCHMAN: But doesn't it more than social services and collaboration? I mean, we need to take really stringent action here. I mean, these are people being -- children being killed.

AUSTIN: Stringent actions such as what?

TUCHMAN: Well, I'm asking you. I'm the journalist here. And you're the...

AUSTIN: That's what I'm saying.

TUCHMAN: You're the -- you're the leader.

AUSTIN: But that's what I'm saying. You say stringent actions. I think that the stringent actions should be more social services, so we could reach the children. I...


TUCHMAN: Are there not enough social services now?

AUSTIN: Do we -- do we need -- I don't believe so.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The alderman does say there simply aren't enough cops in her neighborhood.

(on camera): Have you stood up in the city council and said, we need more police...

AUSTIN: Oh, yes.

TUCHMAN: ... in my ward?

AUSTIN: We do that every year.

TUCHMAN: And what happens?

AUSTIN: And -- every year in our council.

But we are -- are -- are about getting more police officers. But we are losing also police officers to attrition. We have also addressed this with...


TUCHMAN: So, why don't you say, we need X-number more?

AUSTIN: Oh, we say that. But that's what I'm saying.


TUCHMAN: So, what happens? So, what happens? Why...


AUSTIN: More, more, more. We say that.

TUCHMAN: Well, why doesn't it happen? That's what I'm getting at. AUSTIN: Then I will have you -- that would need to be addressed to my superintendent.


COOPER: That was Gary Tuchman from Chicago.

Let's talk with the superintendent. The alderman is referring to the city's top cop, Police Superintendent Jody Weis, who now joins me from Chicago.

Superintendent, you hear the complaints: There are not enough cops.

What are you doing about it?

JODY WEIS, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: We base all of our deployments on intelligence-led policing. We look at the facts. We gather information. We try to analyze that. And we try and put the cops on the dots at the right time of the day.

There's -- there's never going to be enough police officers to just randomly saturate a city, so we do it based upon information that we receive, based upon an intelligence that we derive. And then we try to put the officers in the key spots to make sure that these kids are safe.

COOPER: Why are things seemingly worse in Chicago for young people going to school than in other cities with bigger populations? I mean, do you have a sense of what the problem is?

WEIS: Well, I think you have to look at this recent tragedy.

Here, a -- a young boy, an honor student, a top-notch kid, he's killed by a mob of his peers, who are filled with such hatred and such violence that they're willing to just snuff out his life.

That -- that's so hard to understand. Anyone watching that tape had to be horrified at the violence and -- and just the anger in which he was struck down, at the prime of his life. And I think we have to ask, how did it get like that?

I think...

COOPER: Are you saying that it's parents, it's families?

WEIS: No, what I'm saying is, I think it's society. I think the White House hit it on the head when -- it's going to take community involvement.

We have to attack this problem with every resource we have. I think Ron Huberman is right on target. The key to -- to changing this attitude, keep the kids in school. They're safe in the schools. Teach them conflict resolution.

You know, we have got kids getting spun up over minor, minor differences and reaching out and engaging in violence right away.

COOPER: A number...

WEIS: They have to learn conflict resolution. I think that's critical, so that they can deal with life.

COOPER: A number of people have complained that the first police officers arriving on the scene of -- of this brawl, of the brawl that killed this young man on Thursday, did not intervene. How could that happen?

WEIS: Well, we have heard that allegation, and we have opened up an internal investigation. And we will certainly look at that.

But -- but let me share what I do know. At 2:53, the first 911 call came in. At 2:55, a car was dispatched. Within a minute, that car was calling for an ambulance. That car was calling for additional units.

I think what we have to ask is, why didn't the person filming this incident, this horrific incident call 911?

COOPER: Well...


WEIS: Why did this person then shop this video around to various news stations, rather than turning it over to the police department?

Those are -- those are questions I think we really have to ask. How did it get like that?

COOPER: The other question I have about watching this video is, there are probably more than a dozen folks, maybe two dozen folks who seem to be watching. Some are kind of just shouting. Some are horrified, but just watching what is happening.

You charged four -- the authorities have charged four people in this beating. You're still looking for three more, and there's a lot of people out there who would watch this tape and know who these kids are, but are they coming forward? I mean, has any -- have people come forward?

WEIS: Anderson, that is what deeply saddens me. This young man was killed. The entire city is outraged. And yet we have gotten no tips, no calls.

COOPER: Are you serious, no one?

WEIS: No one has called in, that I'm aware of from talking to the detectives, and provided us with any information. That is unbelievable to me when the offenders are teenagers, they're involved with other teenagers that go to the same school and no one calls in. We are literally getting killed by this code of silence, this no- snitching rule. We've worked hard to overcome it. COOPER: This is something -- this is something we focused on a lot on this program over the years. I did a piece on "60 Minutes" about it, as well, this whole "stop snitching" effort. Rappers are telling people, "Don't be a snitch." And now the definition of a snitch is not just somebody who is involved in a crime, doesn't want -- and tries to rat out someone else they were involved with.

It -- now there's this horrible definition of being a snitch is anybody who comes forward and talks about a crime they've seen. That's -- that's just the mentality that cannot be tolerated.

WEIS: Absolutely. And that's why we've got to work as a community. As Alderman Austin (ph) said, it needs a collaboration. We've got to get these young folks realizing that, if they don't say something, it's going to be a circle of violence. And today's offenders is going to be tomorrow's victims. And it's a -- it's a circle that will not end.

And we've got to work together to change that. We're committed to work with that. We've got great partners with the Chicago -- Chicago public schools. We've got a collaboration with them. We're sharing information. We are committed to changing this. Unfortunately, I think it might take a little more time, but we will not waiver from this mission.

COOPER: All right. Superintendent Jody Weis, appreciate you being on the program. Thank you.

WEIS: Thank you. My pleasure.

COOPER: Rapper Naz has written what he calls an open letter to Chicago's young warriors. We posted it on our blog. Go to to read it.

Up next, fireworks over Roman Polanski's fate. Big-name celebrities coming to the filmmaker's defense. That is -- new details of his decades-old plea deal surface. We'll talk to Joy Behar and Lisa Bloom about the case.


JOY BEHAR, HLN HOST: The Hollywood community always circles the wagons for one of their own. Don't they? And, you know, Woody Allen at the top of the list. Please.


COOPER: Also tonight, the paperwork jungle from insurance companies. Is it just part of the health-care process, or is it an attempt to deny you coverage? We're "Keeping Them Honest," tonight on 360.


COOPER: Tonight, more Hollywood heavyweights are rallying behind Roman Polanski who remains under arrest in Switzerland for raping a 13-year-old girl in California more than 30 years ago.

In a scathing op-ed today in London's "The Independent" newspaper, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein said, Polanski is being treated as a scapegoat and called him the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Then there were the comments from Whoopi Goldberg on "The View" on Monday. She said Polanski's crime wasn't, quote, "rape, rape." Today she clarified those remarks.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": All of these charges were dismissed except for the one he pled guilty to. It's the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, not rape, which was my point.


COOPER: To be clear, by definition, unlawful sex with a minor is considered statutory rape.

"The View's" Joy Behar joins us in a moment to talk about the case. But first, Randi Kaye has the details of the plea deal the director had struck with prosecutors more than 30 years ago. Here's Randi's report.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's good to have friends in high places. Big-shot Hollywood directors Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen have signed this petition to free Roman Polanski.

And it's not just those behind the camera coming to the defense of the Academy-Award-winning director. Actress Debra Winger.

DEBRA WINGER, ACTRESS: It is based on a three-decade-old case that is all but dead.

KAYE: Perhaps, though, it's studio head Harvey Weinstein who makes the strongest case. In this op-ed, he wrote, "A deal was made with the judge, and the deal is not being honored." That so-called deal is what most of Polanski's defenders consistently refer to. But what was it, and why did it fall apart?

The question is at the heart of this HBO documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired."

ROMAN POLANSKI, FILM DIRECTOR: I ran away, because I think that I was very unfortunate to have a judge who misused (ph) justice.

KAYE: The judge is Laurence J. Rittenband, well known at the time for craving publicity and seeking celebrity cases. Polanski was accused of giving a 13-year-old girl champagne and a sliver of a Quaalude tablet and performing various sex acts, including intercourse with her. He agreed to plea to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and, according to the documentary, the only time he would spend behind bars would be for a psychological evaluation.

(on camera) What happened between the time that plea deal was reached and the time Polanski fled the U.S. to this day remains in dispute. The judge died years ago. And in the HBO documentary, both the prosecution and the defense agree the judge was simply trying to protect his reputation in the press.

(voice-over) Here's how the plea deal allegedly broke down.

After Polanski's plea, the judge ordered he be psychologically evaluated at a state prison but granted him a stay so he could finish a film. Polanski was free to travel for work outside the U.S.

But the HBO documentary shows this photo taken in Germany of Polanski and two young women, which at the time many say proved a major embarrassment for the judge. He ordered Polanski begin his 90- day prison evaluation immediately. Polanski did so but was released early. It took doctors just 42 days to recommend probation.

Polanski's defense attorney says that's when everything fell apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge Rittenband said that he wasn't going to honor the promise that he had made about releasing Polanski upon completion of the diagnostic study.

KAYE: Polanski was scheduled in court the next day but never showed. He was gone. The judge held a press conference, promising that Polanski would serve his time. And that may happen yet.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.



COOPER: So did prosecutors renege on a plea deal with Polanski, and should he pay for his crime? The debate's touched off a firestorm of opinions. If you watched "The View" this morning, you got a sense of how charged the debate is.

Joy Behar was in the middle of that heated discussion. She's also part of our family now, as the host of "The Joy Behar Show" on HLN at 9 p.m. Eastern Joy joins us now, along with our legal analyst, Lisa Bloom.

So Joy, what do you make of this outpouring of support for Polanski from Hollywood? We heard Whoopi Goldberg earlier in our piece. Why do you think a lot of folks in Hollywood don't see this as kind of a cut-and-dry case?

BEHAR: Well, let me tell you something about Whoopi. She's not exactly saying that she's behind Roman Polanski on this. She just wanted to clarify the charges, and she sort of cleared that up today on the show, I thought.

COOPER: But does it surprise you that so many big names in Hollywood are coming out and saying, "Look, this is an outrage?"

BEHAR: No. The Hollywood community always circles the wagons for one of their own, don't they? And you know, Woody Allen at the top of the list? Please.

COOPER: What do you mean?

BEHAR: Talk about the pot calling the kettle black here. You know, of course he's going to back Roman Polanski, because she did something similar. Only in that case it was his daughter. I mean, this is not exactly, you know, an open-and-shut case when Woody Allen is involved in it.

COOPER: Lisa, a lot of folks say Polanski was not facing a just judge 32 years ago.


COOPER: Was he promised a deal that the justice system then backed away from? It certainly seems like it now.

BEHAR: Well, Lisa knows the answer to that.

BLOOM: Please. Let me clear this up, OK? Roman Polanski got a very sweet plea deal back in 1978 from this judge that he's now attacking. He was charged with six felonies, and there was substantial physical evidence to corroborate the crimes that he was accused of, namely drugging, raping and sodomizing this poor girl. There was his semen on her underpants. There were the photos that corroborated her story. And there was a witness in the house as to everything that she said. OK?

He got a very sweet deal, getting it all pleaded down to one count. A judge is not a party to a plea deal. It is not correct to say that the judge reneged on the plea deal. The plea deal is between the prosecution and the defense. The judge is not there to rubber- stamp it. He always has his own discretion.

Now, he was inclined to let Polanski serve 90 days for the diagnostic evaluation. Polanski served 42 days. He got out early. Then the judge bent over backwards again in Polanski's favor, let him go to Europe, ostensibly to work on a movie. Instead, he's photographed in a German beer hall, flanked by two apparently young women. That irritated the judge, as it would have irritated any judge faced with a crime like this.

The judge then suggested that Polanski might have gotten a tougher sentence. Polanski fled; the judge never imposed the tougher sentence.

So I think all of these allegations of wrongdoing by the judge are really misplaced. This judge bent over backwards, I think, to accommodate Polanski.

COOPER: Joy, do you think he should come back and face justice?

BEHAR: Yes, I think he should. I don't really believe that, just because he's an old man now, that he should get away with this. Just -- just like war criminals don't get away with it after -- they're 95 years old. They're hiding out in Paraguay or Argentina. You know, the Wiesenthal Center after them. They catch them; they send them to Israel, done.

And that's the same with this guy. It's like so what? He's 75. He still should be prosecuted, I think.

I'm not really sympathetic to him, because it was -- it was a child. Even though Sharon Tate's sister says -- refers to the girl as a young woman, a young girl. She was not a young woman. She was a kid. She was a child. She was only 13 years old. It's really not right.

COOPER: Lisa, what do you make of kind of the revisionist history on the part of some folks in Hollywood?

BLOOM: You know, I've been covering rape cases for a long time. And it never ceases to amaze me how the rich and famous don't think the laws apply to them or to their friends.

And also, there are always apologists for rape out there. I've heard people say in this case she was a couple of weeks away from her 14th birthday. I mean, the arguments are appalling. When you read the allegations of what actually happened. She's accusing him of an actual rape, not just a statutory rape.

BEHAR: Lisa, listen to this. "He's a brilliant guy," says this Swiss film maker, "and he made a little mistake 32 years ago. What a shame for Switzerland."

How did Switzerland get in the middle of this as the victim all of a sudden? Now we're supposed to feel sorry for Switzerland?

BLOOM: Yes, and let me tell you something, 70 percent of the people in France, according to a survey yesterday...


BLOOM: ... are behind incarcerating Polanski. It's only the elites who are lining up behind him.

BEHAR: Well, why are they lining up? BLOOM: This is a man who's been a fugitive from the law for 30 years, by the way. That's an independent crime. The irony is, if he'd done his time back in the '70s, it probably would have been a couple of weeks or a couple of months. It would all be over now. He's going to end up, in my opinion, serving more time in Switzerland awaiting extradition than he probably would have served back in the '70s, if he'd just had his sentence imposed then.

COOPER: Lisa Bloom out in Los Angeles. Lisa, thank you. Joy Behar, as well.

BEHAR: Thanks, Anderson.

BLOOM: Thank you.


COOPER: Joy Behar with us.

Up next tonight, the breaking news, a powerful aftershock hitting Indonesia just moments ago and hours after another deadly quake hit. We'll have the latest.

And an insurance nightmare. Mounds of paperwork as many people give up on their claims. Do insurance companies intentionally bury people in the process to save and even make money? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.


COOPER: Updating our breaking news. Shock on top of tragedy. Another earthquake has just hit Indonesia, this one magnitude 6.8, striking southern Sumatra about 150 miles from Padang, a city of nearly a million people, hit earlier by a magnitude 7.6 quake and did epic damage.

More than 100 people known dead, but those are very early reports. A lot more people believed trapped in the rubble. Power out, communications out, rescue/recovery teams rushing in to help.

Here at home, new developments in the fight for health-care reform. A new push to bring back the public option. Today, the White House shrugged off yesterday's rejection of it by the Senate Finance Committee. Press secretary Robert Gibbs said four other bills working their way through Congress have included the public option.

More than 250 million Americans have health insurance. For them, for you, the battle over reforming the system may not solve the confusion from the insurance companies. We've seen it all the time: an avalanche of paperwork, endless phone calls and the frustration, sometimes impossible, knowing exactly what's covered and what is not.

So why does it have to be so complicated? Truth is, it doesn't. We're "Keeping Them Honest." Here's Tom Foreman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One thousand, two hundred and fifty.


(voice-over) Yogi Yogan is fighting mountains of insurance paperwork.

YOGI YOGAN, PATIENT: Eleven thousand.

FOREMAN (on camera): Yes, 11,000. Twelve hundred over here.

(voice-over) And a nagging suspicion.

YOGAN: Twenty thousand.

FOREMAN: Ever since she broke her wrist ice skating and says she was told by an insurance company rep it was not covered.

YOGAN: Do you really mean to be telling me that I had -- you're calling this a preexisting condition? And she said yes.

FOREMAN: A broken wrist they called a preexisting condition?

YOGAN: They absolutely did.

FOREMAN: She eventually convinced them otherwise, and the company paid. But Yogan is certain without her dogged persistence, her claim would have been forever lost in the paperwork jungle of the insurance trade.

YOGAN: There's a reason for this. It's called money. Other people's money.

FOREMAN: Doctors, too, accuse insurance companies of boosting their profits through a baffling claims process that often allows them to keep money that should go to patients.

Dr. Val Jones (ph) is part of an innovative practice that doesn't even take insurance. It's straight fee for service. Why? Because she grew weary of seeing patients struggle with their health and wealth on the line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't know why they're getting these questions asked. They don't know what the forms mean. And they're getting compensated is dependent upon it.

FOREMAN (on camera): "Keeping Them Honest," we wanted to know just how much money insurance companies are keeping because people don't know how to collect it or because they get tired of trying and just give up. The answer: no one knows. These are private companies with private records, and they say they pay all appropriate claims.

(voice-over) But some estimate it could be billions. Among them, Wendell Potter (ph), a former insurance executive turned crusader, who says just think of the thousands of doctors and hospitals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The millions of individuals who are insured in these private plans, that money adds up quickly.

YOGAN: And you know, ka-ching.

FOREMAN: The insurance industry says it's not true.


FOREMAN: Robert Zirkelbach is with the National Insurance Trade Association. He says there's a lot of paperwork because laws require it, and insurance companies are just as concerned as consumers about the confusion.

ZIRKELBACH: We agree that reform is needed. In fact, that's why we've been working very hard to develop reforms to make the system more efficient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't buy that. They've not made it a priority.

FOREMAN: We contacted Yogan's insurer today, and they said they could not comment without her permission and more time to study her case. However, "we work diligently with our members to ensure they understand and receive fully the benefits to which they are entitled."

But back in the paperwork jungle...

(on camera) When you look at all of this, what do you think about the insurance industry in this country?

YOGAN: They're not here to help.

I better stop going through these; this is depressing.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Depressing and maybe more costly than consumers know.

Tom foreman, CNN, McLean, Virginia.


COOPER: With health care, it's not just the confusion that's a problem. It's the cost. We've teamed up with to take a close look at the dollars and cents behind insurance coverage. Check it out at tonight.

Tomorrow, health-care limbo. One woman says she's trapped by the system and basically denied coverage by insurance companies who say she is too sick. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: You're in a real predicament, because you can't work full time, so you can't get health insurance covered by your job. Yet, you can't get individual full coverage health insurance, because you have this so-called preexisting condition. So where does that leave you?

NANCY PESSLER, HAS TROUBLE GETTING INSURANCE: That leaves me with little options. I feel the system has failed me. It leaves me hopeless. I feel like there's no solution for my situation.


COOPER: She's not the only one. We'll bring you the "Keeping Them Honest" report on the health-care industry tomorrow night.

Coming up right now, John Travolta's heartache. The actor goes back in court in the Bahamas, testifying about the alleged plot to extort $25 million from him after his son's death.

Plus, don't mess with this 5-year-old. How he took down an 800- pound gator 20 times his size.


COOPER: Let's check some of the other headlines with Erica Hill and a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, in the Bahamas, John Travolta back in court today, the actor testifying that a man wanted $25 million or was threatening to sell stories to the press about how Travolta was culpable in his son's death. The trial of two people accused of extortion centers around a document Travolta signed, releasing the ambulance company of any liability after Travolta said he wanted to fly his son to Florida, rather than have him treated in a local hospital.

His son, though, was in fact brought to a Bahamian hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Sarah Palin's new book, already a best seller six weeks before it hits book stores. Due to preorders, the book is No. 1 on and

And don't mess with this kid. A 5-year-old from Texas shoots and kills an 800-pound gator while out hunting with his dad. Simon Hughes says he wasn't afraid, and he's going to kill an even bigger gator next year. Apparently, Dad was like, "Come back, come back."

And he said, "No, don't worry. Spring loaded."

COOPER: Wow. Watch out for him.

Coming up next -- if you're a gator. Next, "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers. A chance to show off our staffers by coming up with a bitter caption for the photo that we put on the blog every day.

Tonight's picture, President Barack Obama touring the National Institutes of Health, looking through a microscope at brain cells.

Our staff winner tonight, Tom Foreman. His caption: "So that's all that's left of hope for the government option, huh?"


COOPER: The viewer winner is Jennifer from New York City. Her caption: "Obama's new health plan: he will do all your lab work himself, for free."


COOPER: Jennifer, congratulation. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

And for tonight's "Shot," Erica, it is elephants gone wild. That's right. This baby pachyderm ran amuck during a ceremonial procession in India. The elephant apparently got scared when bells rang loudly and the crowd started shouting. It does it for me every time.

HILL: Poor guy.

COOPER: Miraculously, just six people were injured, only lightly. Could have been much worse. No doubt.

HILL: You know, that reminds me of another elephant gone wild.


HILL: Remember that classic? I know our "Dramatic Animal Video" does. South Korea, it was 2005.

COOPER: Oh, yes, I remember it well.

HILL: Yes, a bunch of elephants...

COOPER: The elephant wore aqua.

HILL: The elephant did wear aqua. And it has a little...

COOPER: Maybe the handlers did.

HILL: ... chartreuse in the back, too. Yes, hats, costumes. They actually broke out of a traveling zoo. Can't really blame them. They decided it was time to eat, where else, at a restaurant. But there are already people there, so maybe just going to wait until it clears out.

People who saw them (ph) just froze, of course.

COOPER: I just like all the uniforms, little costumes.

HILL: I'd run from those outfits too.

COOPER: Yes. All right. You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site at

Breaking news at the top of the hour. This is serious stuff. We've got reports from two disaster areas tonight. Two deadly quakes, one on American territory, when "360" continues.


COOPER: Good evening, everyone. Tonight, we begin with breaking news. Two disasters, one after the other, unfolding as we speak. A massive earthquake, scores dead, thousands trapped, right after another earthquake and a wall of water levels a South Pacific island paradise. We have reports on both tonight.

Also, why can't the killing be stopped? Chicago's murder epidemic taking one young life after another year after year. And now after millions of your tax dollars spent to help, the killings continue. Who's dropping the ball? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And later, "Raw Politics." Raw and ugly. Conservative blogger outlines a coup against President Obama. Somebody puts a poll on Facebook asking if the president should be killed. Liberals are saying the rhetoric may lead to violence. Conservatives say they are trying to stifle honest dissent.

Both of those sides represented as James Carville and Bill Bennett square off tonight.

We begin, though, with breaking news. The second major earthquake to hit the South Pacific in two days. This one, magnitude 7.6. You're looking at people on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The city is called Padang, the coastal capital of Western Sumatra.

Nearly a million people live there. Thousands now may be trapped beneath the rubble of buildings, including two hospitals.

There is significant uncertainty. Phone lines are down; power is out. Rescue workers are rushing to the scene, including Red Cross disaster management coordinator Wayne Allred (ph).

Wayne, what are you hearing from your people on the ground? What is the situation as best you know?