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President Obama's Nobel Surprise; Swine Flu and Children

Aired October 9, 2009 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and outrage express by conservatives about it. They say he doesn't deserve it, that he should give it back.

Tonight, what the prize says about how the world sees President Obama and what it says about the state of partisan politics in America. Smart talk with Fareed Zakaria, David Gergen, Paul Begala, and Nile Gardiner.

Also tonight, swine flu and kids -- some frankly stunning new facts about how deadly the H1N1 virus is -- 19 kids in America dead this past week alone. Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the vaccine. Is it safe? Should you get your kids inoculated? We're "Digging Deeper."

And how easy it for criminals to buy guns without a background check? Some hidden camera video reveals the truth. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

First up, President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and reaction to it. It began with a gasp in Oslo, Norway, when the prize was announced.






COOPER: When news spread in America, there was surprise and joy, and especially among conservative TV and radio talkers, there was outrage.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Liberal sellouts get this prize. George Bush liberates 50 million Muslims. Ronald Reagan liberates hundreds of millions of Europeans, saves parts of Latin America. Any awards? No, just derision.

Obama gives speeches trashing his own country, and he gets a prize for it. And this fully exposes, folks, the illusion that is Obama. This is a greater embarrassment than losing the Olympics bid was. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: There is more from where that came from, also plenty of legitimately tough questions from the right and left.

Now, we don't take sides on this program. You can make up your own mind about what you think about the president getting the award. We will have the a four-way discussion in a moment to debate the case.

But, first up, President Obama's reaction today.

Tom Foreman has more.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as he negotiates a new plan for Afghanistan, grapples with the nuclear ambitions of Iran, and stares down the North Koreans, President Obama is playing down his new title of top peacemaker, and fast.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize.

FOREMAN: He's not alone.

LIMBAUGH: I don't believe this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mahatma Gandhi never got a Nobel Peace Prize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It such a joke.

FOREMAN: The airwaves and Internet are in open battle over how he made it on to the nomination list 11 days after inauguration, then was picked over 200 others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has he ended a war? No. He's only made matters worse.

FOREMAN: From the head of the Republican National Committee: "What has President Obama actually accomplished?"

And there was this refrain.


GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK": You got to turn it down. You got to turn it down. You got it turn it down.


FOREMAN: Democrats hit back, comparing the RNC to Hamas and the Taliban, which also criticized the Nobel choice.

And the president's fans rallied, too. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the day, I think part of the reason was because he inspired many people around the world to want to make change and make peace.

FOREMAN: The Nobel Committee says, that is precisely it. The president has given hope to the world for better relations and fewer nuclear arms, and he's gone beyond some of his recent predecessors in reaching out to Muslim countries.

OBAMA: I have come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a good start, really? I think he deserves it.

FOREMAN: But the award is still a shocker for many, in the United Kingdom, for example.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bit early, isn't it, to be giving him a Nobel Peace Prize?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's -- that's just ridiculous. I don't think he deserves that.

FOREMAN (on camera): Despite all the opinions, there is genuine danger lurking here. The president has launched such ambitious plans for improving world relations, even some supporters fear that this raises expectations far too high.

(voice-over): Aaron David Miller is a former adviser to six secretaries of state, now an author at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

AARON DAVID MILLER, PUBLIC POLICY SCHOLAR, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: If the Europeans really wanted to help him, they would put more troops in Afghanistan. The Chinese and Russian would help us deliver a series set of sanctions against Iran. I'm not sure they helped him here.

FOREMAN: They fear the trophy he's been given may prove a heavy burden in a long, hard run to better days -- Anderson.



COOPER: As you saw a moment ago, the announcement briefly left people at a loss for words, but not for long.

Continuing the conversation with us tonight, Fareed Zakaria, host of "GPS" Sundays on CNN, also political contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala, Nile Gardiner of the conservative Heritage Foundation, and senior political analyst David Gergen.

David Gergen, let me start off with you. Does this make sense, President Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize now?



GERGEN: ... it was a stunner, wasn't it, even in the White House.

It -- it seems premature, Anderson. They clearly are -- are -- are betting on the -- on expectations, rather than realization, on ideals, rather than realization. I do think it's going to have a fallout for the president and complicate his foreign-policy-making.

And I worry after the 12 hours of commentary in this country, it points toward a deeper polarization in the United States about America's role in the world and what Obama may do. And I have some concerns about that tonight.

COOPER: Paul Begala, what about that? I mean, conservatives, on the radio, on television, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others have gone ballistic over this.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and that's kind of a shame. I don't expect much from those guys.

But this is like -- it's, even for me, a little surprising. And Mr. Limbaugh said today -- and I wrote it down -- "I'm on the same side as the Taliban."

Well, OK, if you want to be, Rush. But I don't, and most Americans don't. I think David is right. I think a lot of people are very surprised. I think most Americans, frankly, might -- would have rather had their president win the Nobel Prize for economics, rather than Peace.


BEGALA: I think it actually -- as a political matter, frankly, I think it kind of complicates his work here at home, makes it a little harder, because expectations will be all that much higher.

But I think it might actually help around the world a good bit, because anything that boosts America's stature in the world is a good thing. But, actually, just as a political consultant, I think it can be a complicating factor here at home.


COOPER: We're going to have more with our panel in just a moment.

You can join the debate. Let us know what you think at, the live chat happening now.

Also ahead, "Keeping Them Honest": Think you can't buy a gun these days without a background check? Well, you won't after seeing the story and the legal loophole behind this hidden camera video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's good about the background check because I probably couldn't pass one.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All's I got to do is demand you show me your license.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't care about the background check, right?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I wouldn't pass either, bud.


COOPER: And that's how criminals get guns.

Later: The H1N1 flu is here. Kids are dying of it in growing numbers. How to keep them safe -- whether to vaccinate or not. You need answers. We're "Digging Deeper" with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.



COOPER: We're back, talking about today's big surprise for President Obama and, frankly, all of us, Nobel Prize. Don't think anybody saw this coming, least of all the president.

It was controversial, to say the least. Then, again, it's always been. Yasser Arafat was honored with a Peace Prize. Gandhi never was.

The controversy this time over the president's slim accomplishments, say some, something he acknowledged today.


OBAMA: And I know that, throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.


COOPER: We're back with our panel, Fareed Zakaria, host of "GPS," Democratic strategist Paul Begala, Nile Gardiner of the conservative Heritage Foundation, and senior political analyst David Gergen.

Nile, I want to get your take. You don't think he deserves it or should get it?

NILE GARDINER, MARGARET THATCHER CENTER FOR FREEDOM DIRECTOR, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, for once, I mean, I agree actually with President Obama. He said earlier this morning that did he not deserve the award.

And this was a highly political award from the committee in Oslo. And I don't think that the president deserved to receive this award at this time, just nine months into his term of office. And I think this decision really cheapens the Nobel Prize process.

And there are, frankly, many people out there who would have been far better, I think, recipients of this award, those would are truly advancing the cause of freedom and liberty on the world stage at this time.

COOPER: Fareed, it's interesting. Internationally, people aren't -- don't seem so surprised. But, here in the United States, a lot more people seem surprised.

Do -- do -- are Americans underestimating the impact President Obama has had internationally?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think so. And I think, in a sense, it's an award to the United States, more than it is to Obama personally. It's an award to the United States for reengaging with the world, for casting away, if you will, eight years of George Bush, and -- and really for -- to Obama, personally, for sticking with what he campaigned on, which was a new start in the war on terror on issues like torture, the Geneva Conventions, winding down the Iraq war, reaching out to the Muslim world.

COOPER: It is political in the sense of it being a -- you said a repudiation of the eight years of -- under President Bush. Is it political in that sense?

ZAKARIA: Absolutely.

COOPER: Do you think this is a slap in the face of President Bush?

ZAKARIA: Absolutely.

Anderson, to your original point, in 2008, the president of the United States' approval rating in Great Britain, our closest ally, very tough country, fights with us in every war, was 17 percent. It is currently 82 percent. It's actually higher in -- in France and Germany.

So, there is a sea change. And some of it is Obama and his star power. But a lot of it is that I think there is a real yearning in the world for a United States that is more willing to engage with the world that doesn't bully, that doesn't think it's -- you know, it has the -- the answer to every problem in the world.

And the fact that Obama represents this means he becomes the repository of this view.

COOPER: Let's talk about the impact internationally.

Nile, I mean, do you not believe this will have any positive impact for the United States or for President Obama in his ability to get things done internationally?

GARDINER: I don't think it will make a huge difference.

For example, you can look closely today at the British press. They widely mocked, actually, the award to President Obama today. They were extremely critical of this decision. And I don't think...


COOPER: Is there a time the British press, though, doesn't mock things?


COOPER: I mean, the British press pretty much mocks just about everything.

GARDINER: Well, they certainly are masters at -- at doing that.

But I think that, you know, global leadership is not about popularity. And I think the Obama administration treats the world as though it were an extension of the stage of "American Idol." It's not. It's an extremely dangerous environment.

And I think that this administration basically confuses popularity with real leadership on the world stage.

COOPER: Paul, what about that? Does this help internationally?

BEGALA: I do -- I think it does. And, frankly, it's kind of a cheap shot to say, it's "American Idol." No.

Actually, this president -- and he said it today. He said some very tough things today, took very thinly veiled shots at the Burmese dictatorship in Myanmar, took a very thinly veiled shot at the Iranian dictatorship in Tehran. He has used deadly force and is stepping it up in the tribal regions in Pakistan and, of course, in Afghanistan, where he is pondering a major troop increase, after already sending 17,000 more.

He's done some very tough things. And it's not about popularity, I don't think, at all. I think it's about respect. And George W. Bush was not respected in the world.

COOPER: David, internationally, do you think this helps the president moving forward? There's other -- David Frum is saying, look, this is a way to weaken Obama internationally as president, that it will then inhibit him from going into Iran, per se, or taking military action. It will make him less aggressive.

GERGEN: Anderson, all my experience in the White House points to the idea that, if an American president is popular in publics overseas, it strengthens his hand in negotiation and diplomacy.

But let me say this. It complicates it back home, in this sense. On Afghanistan, if he makes a decision now not to exercise the robust option, not to go for a big troop increase, he will immediately be attacked for playing -- playing to the European audience, for playing to a peace-at-any-price crowd in Europe.

And that's going to further polarize and make -- make the -- the building a consensus here in this country on issues as tough as Afghanistan and Iran, I think, more complicated. In that sense, this -- this is a great boon to the president, but it is also a burden for him here at home.

COOPER: Do you agree with that, Fareed?

ZAKARIA: Well, I think David Gergen points out something very crucial and something that's very dysfunctional in the American political system right now.

But I think these people would criticize Obama, no matter what he did. I mean, the idea that Rush Limbaugh is going to criticize this -- this award and that this should come as a surprise is absurd. I mean, these are outrage machines. They're sitting there every day praying, you know, for something that they can get worked up about and rile up this small audience. This is -- you know, this is like manna from heaven for them.

COOPER: David, I mean, it is sign of the times, though, just of how polarized this country has become, or perhaps how polarized those who have access to cable shows and radio have become, that -- that this is not seen as something that is good for America.

GERGEN: I -- we -- we have been deeply polarized on domestic issues.

But I think this threatens a deeper level of polarization on international affairs. It was only just a few days ago that the president had Republican and Democratic leaders in the White House to talk about Afghanistan.

It's going to be hugely important for him to build some sort of consensus. Let's say he goes for the low level of troop increase or no level of troop increase. He's got to bring some Republican moderates along. You -- he does not want a Democratic-only kind of foreign policy.

I -- I just think that that's very dangerous for him. He doesn't -- and thank -- and let's -- a salute John McCain today for being as gracious as he was, saying he disagrees with some of the policies, but this is a day to celebrate.

That's the kind of crossing of bridges that we desperately need in foreign policy.

COOPER: Nile, do you see this as something which is just a one- or two-day story, or do you think this is something which really causes serious problems for President Obama here at home?

GARDINER: Many on the left here are turning this into an opportunity to try and bash the right, instead of talking about the real issues here.

And I think a central issue that has to be addressed is that Nobel Prize Committee gave this award to President Obama not because he is a strong American leader, but, frankly, because he is a weak leader, and he appeals, I think, to many in Europe who would like to see U.S. global power considerably constrained.

And that's what this award is all about. So, let's stick to the -- the issues and the actual policies at hand here.

ZAKARIA: I think that there is actually something to what Nile is saying, in the sense that Obama...

COOPER: You agree that he is a weak leader?

ZAKARIA: No, no, that the award was given because he's a different kind of leader.

Obama is making a pretty bold gamble here, which is that it is possible for an American president to talk about cooperation, multilateralism, engaging with the world, and show Americans that this is a sign of strength, that it is a way to solve common international problems.

For 30 years, roughly since Vietnam, it has been political suicide to do that. And that's why Democrats have tended to always pretend to be very tough, or be very tough, or, you know, sound very tough. It has always been a hawkish definition of what it meant to be a strong international leader.

Obama is trying to change the terms of that debate. And, in doing that, the Nobel Committee is, I think, rewarding him. I happen to think that you can't solve most of the global problems we face right now without a lot of international cooperation. We're in a different world.

But it's a bet. And Obama -- And it may turn out that, you know, the American public is -- is turned off by it.

COOPER: It's a risky bet, David.

ZAKARIA: It's never -- it's never great to be popular in France.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there, I'm afraid.

Nile Gardiner, appreciate you being on the program.

Fareed Zakaria, as well...

ZAKARIA: Thank you.

COOPER: ... Paul Begala, and David Gergen, thanks.


COOPER: Well, you might be wondering why, no matter who gets it and why, you might be wondering how they get it. How does the process for a Nobel Peace Prize actually work?

Well, here is the "Raw Data." First, you have been to be nominated. Deadline this year, February 1, is 12 days after President Obama took office. No one can self-nominate. Instead, the nominations can only be made by a set group of people that includes members of national governments, academia, and previous laureates.

This year, the committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, received a record 205 nominations, 172 people, 33 organizations. The committee met six or seven times to narrow that list down, did not make its final choice until this past Monday.

As for the other nominees, their names will be kept secret until 2059.

As always, there is extensive coverage on Check out reaction to President Obama's win from Al Gore, Senator John McCain, and the Iraqi government, and many others.

Up next tonight: a picture, a hidden-camera picture of a legal loophole that makes it easy for criminals to buy guns, no questions asked. Randi Kaye tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."

And, later, the crater-crashing moon shot in search of water -- millions watched. What did they see? And was the mission crashing into the lunar surface a success?

Answers when we continue.


COOPER: Still ahead, dramatic new video of the tsunami hitting American Samoa, the FBI's parking lot underwater in a matter of seconds. We will show that to you.

But, first, Erica Hill has a 360 bulletin.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the deadliest suicide attack to ever hit one major Pakistani city kills at least 49. The car bomb blew up near a crowded in Peshawar this afternoon. Another 135 people were injured in that attack.

In Haiti, 11 people are dead after the U.N. plane they were traveling on crashed into a mountain. The surveillance plane went down in rugged terrain near the border with the Dominican Republic.

A Pennsylvania mother who gained notoriety for carrying a loaded pistol to her daughter's soccer game last year was shot and killed by her husband. Meleanie Hain was Webcam chatting with a friend when it happened. Police say, after her husband shot her, he then killed himself. It is unclear whether the couple's three young children were home during the murder/suicide.

And General Motors one step closer to selling its Hummer brand -- GM announcing today it signed a definitive agreement with a Chinese manufacturer. The Chinese government, though, still must approve that deal.

And the much-anticipated smash into the moon early this morning was a success, according to NASA -- the goal of the $79 million mission, to prove there is water on the moon. But, for many of the people watching, it, frankly, looked more like a dud. There really wasn't very much to see in the end.

But, hey, if NASA said all went well, I'm trusting them, because they're far smarter than I am.

COOPER: We will have to take their word for it.

Up next: stunning undercover video showing just how easy it is for anyone to get their hands on a gun, no matter what their background.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No background check?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing. Just show me that you're from Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Well, that's good about the background check because I probably couldn't pass one.



COOPER: Also ahead, new information about swine flu and kids. Nineteen kids in America have died in the United States this past week alone. Many parents want to know if the vaccine is safe. We will ask 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta if he plans to give it to his own kids -- coming up.


COOPER: This weekend, thousands of Americans will go to gun shows. And there's nothing new about that.

What is new, though, and, frankly, stunning, is the video you're about to see. It was shot by hidden cameras during a four-month investigation ordered by New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He commissioned the sting because many of the guns that turn up in New York crimes come from out of state. How did they get here?

Well, you're about to see how criminals easily can get their hands on guns, even without a background check.

Randi Kaye tonight "Keeping Them Honest."


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What you're looking at is a federal crime. This is a gun show. And that man is selling a gun, no questions asked, no background check.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's good about the background check because I probably couldn't pass one.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All's I got to do is demand you show me your license.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't care about the background check, right?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I wouldn't pass either, bud.



KAYE: This is undercover video from Sharonville, Ohio, part of a nationwide investigation to expose what's wrong with what's known as the gun show loophole.

(on camera): Unlike licensed dealers, the so-called gun show loophole allows unlicensed private sellers to sell guns without doing background checks on buyers. They're viewed as collectors who are occasional sellers, so they fly under the radar. But -- and this is key -- while they're exempt from background checks...

(voice-over): ... it is still illegal for private sellers to sell guns to anyone they know or have reason to believe would not pass a background check, which is exactly what some are caught doing on this video.

Why should you care? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says one in every three guns used in illegal gun trafficking is connected to a gun show.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: This is real. This translates into people getting killed, children, adults, police officers, civilians.

KAYE: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for the investigation to get Congress to act on two bills he says Congress is sitting on that would force a background check on every single gun show purchase.

The National Rifle Association has sold us they "have always supported strict enforcement of existing laws," though it would not comment when asked if the so-called gun show loophole should be closed.

Bloomberg says nine states and the District of Columbia require that now. This is a gun show in Reno, Nevada. More than 40 undercover agents working for the mayor's office visited gun shows in other states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No background check?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No tax, no charges, nothing. Just $500, and it's yours, and out the door you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, because I couldn't pass one. How much is it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You sure no background check? Because I don't think I can pass one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will give you a green tag to get it out the door, and it's yours.

KAYE: This is Columbus, Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No background check, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, because I couldn't pass one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you do that? Have you been bad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have I been bad? I'd rather not go there.

Do you take -- what did you say, four...?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four eighty. Cash money.

KAYE: Without a background check, private sellers have no way of knowing if the buyer has a record that would stop him from buying a gun. Private sellers don't have to keep sales records either. In other words, there's no record of the buyer.

(on camera) In all, this undercover investigation found 19 of 30 private sellers did sell guns illegally. That's more than 60 percent. And about those occasional sales that private sellers are supposedly limited to, the investigation found one man sold 348 guns in less than a year, 348 guns that can't be tracked because the buyer has no fingerprint on his new gun.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: So without sales records, it's impossible to know how big the business of gun sales really is. That said, the National Association of Arms Sales calls it a multibillion-dollar industry.

John Feinblatt is the criminal justice coordinator for Mayor Bloomberg here in New York. We should mention the mayor is in the middle of a re-election campaign.

So I mean, technically, these guys are violating the law, or they're not technically. These guys are violating the law, because the person in this video said, "I couldn't pass a background check." Acknowledged that to them.

JOHN FEINBLATT, CRIMINAL JUSTICE COORDINATOR FOR MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Exactly. The private sellers aren't required to do a background check. But if they have evidence that the person couldn't buy one because they were a criminal, then they've got to stop the sale. And interestingly, 11 of the dealers that we approached stopped the sale. They throw us out.

But unfortunately, the majority didn't.

COOPER: The majority of them did not. Eleven out of how many?

FEINBLATT: There were 30 sales for private dealers, 30 attempts. Eleven stopped us right in our tracks and did the right thing. But another 19 went on with the sale.

COOPER: And are any of the sellers in that video, I mean, are they identifiable? Will they be pursued or no?

FEINBLATT: Well, we've given all the evidence to the ATF, which is part of the federal government that will pursue it. But the most important thing here, Anderson, is to close the gun show loophole. There's actually a solution here. And that's what we have to do.

And you know, in 2004, McCain pushed to close the gun-show loophole. It got huge bipartisan support. In fact, it passed but was killed because it was attached to another bill. It's time to close the gun-show loopholes.

COOPER: Where does it stand now?

FEINBLATT: There's a bill right now in the Senate. There's one in the House. It can -- it can pass. But we need leadership. We need leadership to basically say, this isn't just an abstract thing. These are people's lives.

COOPER: The mayor spent $1.5 million on this sting. Why is that such a priority for him?

FEINBLATT: Ninety percent of our crime guns come from out of state.

COOPER: Ninety percent?

FEINBLATT: Ninety percent of our crime guns come from out of state. If we're going to protect New Yorkers, if the mayor's going to continue to drive crime down, he has to cross state lines. He's got no choice.

COOPER: And as far as the NRA, I mean, they wouldn't comment on specifically on the gun -- so-called gun show loophole. But they say, "Look, we support existing -- you know, we're following existing laws."

FEINBLATT: The law of the land in this country is that criminals ought not to buy guns. People who have been committed to mental hospitals ought not to buy -- be able to buy guns. Batterers who beat up their wives ought not to buy guns.

So the question is, why do we have this exception that says that certain types of sellers don't have to do background checks? It makes no sense. If you walk into a gun show, who are going to go to? The person who does a background check or the person who doesn't?

COOPER: Is there stiff opposition in Congress from the NRA for this?

FEINBLATT: Look, you know that gun issues have been toxic in Congress. But when you poll people, the American public, they know better. Eighty-seven percent of Americans say that they want the gun- show loophole closed. And when you talk to gun owners themselves, 83 percent of them say they want it closed.

COOPER: How does it work, though? I mean, a criminal doesn't necessarily buy the gun directly from them. Does someone who -- someone can buy as many guns as they want from the show and then...

FEINBLATT: It's often a trafficker that's coming in, who knows where the gun shows are, knows where people are side-stepping the law.

COOPER: So a middleman?

FEINBLATT: Yes. A middleman, and then they go out on the street and they'll sell.

But, you know, one of the things is that, at the gun shows our investigators went to, they saw people wearing colors, gang colors. They saw people wearing gang paraphernalia. Those are generally street criminals who are buying -- buying themselves.

You saw some of the reactions here of some of the buyers. I mean, one of them laughed. One of them said, "I couldn't pass a background check either." This is no laughing matter. This is actually how people get killed. COOPER: Does it surprise you that it was this bad?

FEINBLATT: Yes. What surprised us were two things: one is how brazen the responses were. You know, somebody laughing and somebody saying, "I couldn't pass one either." One person saying, "What, have you been bad?"

But the other thing that surprised us is because the gun lobby has often said there really is no such thing as the gun-show loophole. Private sellers are an infinitesimal part of the market. At the shows that we went to, 69 percent of the sellers were private sellers. And many of them were doing just as brisk a business as the licensed dealers, which is a violation of a law in itself.

I mean, if they're selling new-in-the-box guns, if they're selling 340 guns in a year, if they're going to multiple gun shows -- and we saw some dealers at three shows, some other dealers at two of the shows we went to -- that means they're in the business of selling guns. And they ought to have a license, and they ought to be doing a background check. That in itself violates the federal law.

COOPER: Fine (ph) opening step. John Feinblatt, appreciate you for your time. Thank you.

FEINBLATT: Thank you.

COOPER: Thanks for coming in.

So do you know what the gun laws are in your state? You can go to to find out. And also, see how many crimes are actually committed with a firearm where you live. It's going to surprise you.

So do you think private gun sellers should have -- have to perform background checks on customers and keep the sales records? Join the live chat happening now at Let us know what you think.

And just ahead, a surge in swine flu deaths in kids and teens. Nineteen new deaths in the last week alone. How worried should you be? What can you do to keep your kids safe? Three-sixty M.D., Sanjay Gupta, has the answers ahead.

And later, a secret world beneath the glitter of Las Vegas. Hundreds of people living in miles of tunnels created to protect the city from floods. We'll take you inside their lives underground.


STEVE DOMMER, LIVES IN TUNNEL UNDER LAS VEGAS: If it rains for, like, three solid days and it just comes down and down and down, that water's going to get up to here, and there's nothing we're going to be able to do, except leave.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Tonight, new numbers on swine flu and kids and some new concerns. The Centers for Disease Control reported today that 76 children have died from the H1N1 virus since April, including 19 in the last week alone. Now "The Washington Post" reported as many as 30 percent of the kids who died were healthy with no underlying health conditions before they got the flu.

Thirty-seven states are now reporting widespread cases of the H1N1 swine flu virus. So how worried should -- should parents be? Let's dig deeper with 360 M.D., Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, we have what's believed to be the largest number of pediatric deaths reported in a single week since this pandemic began. What does this mean?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it is concerning, no question about it. And just to give a little bit of sake of reference, 76 deaths, you mentioned, from H1N1. Typically, in a given year, there's between 40 and 80 deaths from seasonal flu. H1N1's going to surpass that. I think we can say that for -- almost for sure. It's concerning, I think.

Part of the issue is that we are diagnosing it more. People are sort of more aware of it so they're actually getting tested and getting diagnosed. And the other part of this, as well, is that when school started, kids are back together again. This is a very contagious virus. So it's spreading back and forth.

But Anderson, as you mentioned, 30 percent of the children who died were otherwise healthy. This seems to disproportionately affect younger people. Elderly people may actually be more protected from this virus because at some point in their lives, they may have seen a virus similar to this. They have some immunity. Kids really have none.

COOPER: So now that the vaccine is getting ruled out, albeit slowly in some areas, will that help stop this rise in kids' deaths?

GUPTA: I think there's no question. It will stop -- it will certainly help. I mean, it takes a few weeks after you get the shot to actually build up enough immunity. So it's not going to, you know, sort of stop it immediately, by any means. And the vaccine is still not here, you know, all across the country.

So, you know, school -- school started up again. The vaccine wasn't here. And that confluence of events, I think, led to some of these numbers.

COOPER: And do kids need both the two different shots or the two different sprays?

GUPTA: Well, with regard to H1N1, it's sort of interesting. What they find is in younger kids they're probably going to need two shots. It just takes them longer to build up their immune system. One shot doesn't seem to quite cut it. The same is true, incidentally, of other vaccines, as well besides H1N1. Around the age of 10, they think, is when you -- their bodies' immune systems are strong enough that they only need one shot.

COOPER: We got a question on the blog from Manzin, who asks, "My son does not want my 7-year-old grandson vaccinated because he had a bad reaction from last year's regular flu shot. Does the H1N1 nasal spray vaccination have a potential bad reaction?"

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting. The -- as far as safety overall, you know, everybody would like to see more safety testing on both the spray and the shot. What we know is that the flu shot, the H1N1 flu shot, is sort of built the same way as the seasonal flu shot. You know, again I don't think it's going to alleviate some people who have significant concerns about this.

But the big difference between the shot and the spray to this person's question is that the shot has what's known as a dead virus. The virus simply isn't alive and can't give you the flu. Whereas the nasal mist has an inactivated virus. It's sort of been knocked down. But when someone has a weak immune system, has some sort of underlying illness, it may be just strong enough to actually make the person sick. So you've got to be careful if you have an underlying problem.

COOPER: It's a tough call. It's understandable why a lot of people are concerned about getting this, especially for their kids. I mean, what do you think? What's your gut feeling? Does the risk outweigh any potential harm from the vaccine, the risk of getting H1N1?

GUPTA: Well, it's a great question. I think in some ways you and I, Anderson, maybe both are uniquely qualified to answer that. I mean, you know, I was pretty sick. I know you were, as well. I know you weren't sure if you had it. But it really is a very miserable few days.

I think for the vast majority of people, they will have a few miserable days if they get this infection. And then they'll probably be OK. But we do know children, in particular, and pregnant women are vulnerable. And you just mentioned the death numbers right at the top.

And I think that, you know, in that case you're hearing about deaths in healthy children. I think the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. And I have young children, and I'm planning on getting them vaccinated.

COOPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, government officials say the vaccine is safe. Do you believe them? Will you vaccinate your kid? Go to to read what parents are saying.

Special program note for Monday: we're "Keeping Them Honest." A 360 autopsy. Who killed a 133-year-old American company and wiped out 1,000 jobs?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every American should be losing sleep over this story, because of what it says about how corrupt capitalism is. We don't have capitalism in this country any more. If, you know, companies that, you know, take over other companies drive them into the ground and reap a profit, that's not -- you know, that's not capitalism as I was taught it.


COOPER: They say the buyout boy sucked the life out of their company. We're "Keeping Them Honest" on Monday.

Still ahead, though. Living in darkness deep beneath Las Vegas, in a maze of tunnels. We're not talking about a few people. We're talking about hundreds. How did they end up in this secret world and why?

Plus tonight's "Shot," incredible video inside an avalanche. The camera is on the skier's helmet when the avalanche strikes, keeps rolling as rescuers try to dig him out. We'll be right back.


COOPER: When most of us think of Vegas, we think of casinos, show girls, neon. But deep below the bright lights of the strip, people are living in a world of darkness. Tunnels designed to protect the city from flash floods have become home to hundreds of Las Vegas's homeless people.

Ted Rowlands takes us underground in tonight's "Uncovering America" report.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are things you don't know about Las Vegas. Past the lights, under the casinos, there's another world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm always a little bit on edge deep in this tunnel.

ROWLANDS: Matthew O'Brien serves s our guide, trekking through four different tunnels beneath the city. He wrote the book "Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas." Focusing on people who live underground like 43-year-old Steve Dommer. Some shelters, like Dommer's, are elaborate and, like the city above, you have to see it to believe it.

STEVE DOMMER, LIVES IN VEGAS TUNNEL: It is quite dark in these tunnels. Without the light, most people would be wondering into total darkness.

ROWLANDS: Watch as our cameraman turns his light on and off along Dommer's path. It is pitch black down here.

DOMMER: After you've done it a few hundred times, like I have, you actually walk down here without any light at all. It's just like anything. You get used to it. If you're claustrophobic, yes, you don't want to be down here. I'll tell you that.

ROWLANDS: Dommer says unemployment, drug use and run-ins with the law drove him down here. After walking a half mile through the flood channel, we reached the spot Dommer's called home for the past two years.

DOMMER: Entering our living room.

ROWLANDS: It's near a sealed grate with light from the Vegas strip above. Dommer shows us how he survives by adapting and innovating.

DOMMER: I fill this thing up right here with water I get up top. I turn it like this. And I get under. And I take myself a shower.

ROWLANDS: This is his prized Dumpster pile.

DOMMER: This is our wonderful, wonderful comfy bed.

ROWLANDS: Aside from being practically underneath the Las Vegas strip, you could almost call it normal. That's what Dommer and his girlfriend, Catherine (ph), who moved in last year, say they strive for.

So why doesn't anyone try to clear them out?

DOMMER: I look at it as out of sight, out of mind.


ROWLANDS: O'Brien, our tour guide, says that's one of the reasons he wrote his book.

MATTHEW O'BRIEN, AUTHOR: OK, watch your head.

ROWLANDS: To bring the situation to light.

O'BRIEN: Kind of the history of Vegas P.R. is to ignore the bad issues. I think that's still kind of the instinct of the city and the county.

ROWLANDS: Six months ago O'Brien started escorting social workers into the tunnels to assist the homeless living here. He says so far more than a dozen people have found housing and escaped from the underground dangers of disease, drugs, fires, and, yes, floods. Remember, it is a storm drain.

DOMMER: If it rains for, like, three solid days, and it just comes down and down and down, you know, that water is going to get up to here. And there's nothing we're going to be able to do except leave. ROWLANDS: But even Catherine says the odds of that happening don't keep them up at night. It's a gamble they made when they decided to call this place home.

Ted Rowlands, CNN.


COOPER: Wow. Coming up, a deadly wave caught on tape. Some incredible video showing the tsunami striking American Samoa.

And also caught on tape, a skier caught in an avalanche. What happens next you'll have to see to believe. We'll be right back.


COOPER: All right. Let's get caught up on some other important stories. Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, investigators believe they found the knife used in a brutal attack on the UCLA campus. A male student allegedly slashed the throat of a female student inside a chemistry lab last night. The alleged attacker was arrested in the same building shortly after the stabbing.

The victim is recovering from surgery. She is expected to survive. Police now trying to figure out what prompted that attack.

Flooding and landslides triggered by Tropical Depression Parma have killed at least 137 people in the Philippines. Officials say dozens more are missing and injured.

And dramatic video just released by the FBI shows what was like when a tsunami hit American Samoa last week. The video is from a security camera in the FBI office in the village of Pago Pago. Now, because of its second floor location, the office suffered minimal damage.

And a "360 Follow" for you. A former Brazilian TV host and politician, accused of ordering killings to boost the ratings of his daily crime show, has now surrendered to police. Wallace Souza turned himself in after four days on the run.

And just when you thought you'd seen it all, "Playboy" is turning its cover over to marriage Simpson.

COOPER: Oh, Marge.

HILL: Well?

The good news here: Marge and her pile of bright blue hair will grace the November issue. But she's not bearing it all, Anderson. She has standards.

COOPER: She has dignity.

HILL: She does. She's a mother. She's a wife. You know?

COOPER: I find it disempowering, though.

HILL: She does. The magazine says she'll only be -- there will be implied nudity in her three-page pictorial. I have no idea whether or not it was spurred by the recent announcement of Levi Johnston working out to bulk up for his "Playgirl" spread. But yes.

COOPER: So to speak.

HILL: I got it.

COOPER: Thank you. Thank you very much. Be here all week. Try the veal.

Coming up next...

HILL: Try the gun show.

COOPER: ... right now, our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better spread or a better caption for the photo that we post on our blog every day.

Tonight's picture, President Obama laughing with Senate Banking and Urban Affairs committee chairman Christopher Dodd.

The staff winner tonight is Kirk. His caption: "President Obama wins the Nobel Teeth Prize."


HILL: Flashing the pearly whites.

COOPER: Our viewer winner is Katherine. Her caption: President Obama smiles as he's been in formed he's been named Super Bowl champion, winner of the World Series, and Miss Universe.


COOPER: There you go. Congratulations. "Beat 360 T-shirt is on the way."

And on to tonight's "Shot." Shall we?

HILL: We shall.

COOPER: Let's. What's it like to plunge 1500 feet in 20 seconds?

HILL: Scary.

COOPER: Watch as a skier named Chris -- just one name, Chris -- plows downhill wearing a helmet cam in Haines, Alaska. He catches a lot of powder but didn't catch -- count on the avalanche. That is what it looked like to be buried alive.

HILL: Crazy.

COOPER: He's -- the video doesn't end there. It actually just keeps rolling. If you fast forward four minutes, the camera continues to record. Take a look.

He sounds excited to be rescued. He sounds like he's whimpering. He did not break a single bone. He just had some bruises, and some pains -- sprains.

HILL: That's all. Incredible.

COOPER: Pretty scary stuff.

HILL: And to have that video.


HILL: I don't that he sits at home watching it very often.

COOPER: You never know.

HILL: Maybe he's to that point now. Maybe now he's able to.

COOPER: You can see the recent "Shots" on our Web site,

Erica, have a good weekend.

Coming up next, the serious stuff. The controversy over President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.


COOPER: Tonight, President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and outrage expressed by conservatives about it. They say he doesn't deserve it, that he should give it back.

Tonight what the prize says about how the world sees President Obama and what it says about the state of partisan politics in America.

Smart talk with Fareed Zakaria, David Gergen, Paul Begala and Nile Gardiner.

Also tonight, swine flu and kids. Some frankly stunning new facts about how deadly the H1N1 virus is.