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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Radical Islamists Threaten 'South Park' Creators; More Volcano Eruptions Ahead?
Aired April 20, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: Radical Islamists right here in America threaten the creators of "South Park," a warning, the radicals call it, that they will probably be murdered for their portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed.
Now, who are these people and why do they think that freedom of speech is punishable by death? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also tonight, the cloud of ash that has cost billions, stranded tens of thousands of passengers. We will have the latest on the pain and the ash. Will it let up enough for travelers to finally get home?
And a remarkable look at the volcano, as close as you can get and still survive, our 360 dispatch.
And, later, Michael Douglas's son convicted of selling meth and cocaine, facing 10 years in prison, his father begging the court for mercy. You will see the letter he wrote about the addiction problem the Douglas family has and why he thinks his son deserves rehab, not prison. You will also see what the judge decided -- "Crime & Punishment" tonight.
First up: a threat against the creators of "South Park," a warning by a radical Islamic group right here in America, right here in New York, that they will end up dead because of a cartoon. Now, we're going to show you the cartoon in a moment that has so enraged these radical Islamists.
But, before we do, just think about this for a moment. We live in a country which prides itself on its freedom of speech, in which we can say whatever is in our hearts, in our minds, as long as it's not threatening to somebody else, as long as it's not calling for violence against somebody else.
Now, you might not like "South Park" the cartoon. You might think it's offensive. You might decide it's not something you want to watch. That's up to you. But the notion that some radical Islamic group in America would make a threat, even a veiled one, against two men's lives because of it is chilling.
And for the people making this threat, that is precisely the point, to chill discussion, to chill debate.
By the way, these radicals say it's not a threat, just a warning. You can be the judge of that. For Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the two guys behind "South Park," it is, could be a matter of life and death, and because in a cartoon in which they made fun of a number of religious deities and figures, they also portrayed the Prophet Mohammed -- censored in doing that by their own network, they portrayed him as being inside a bear costume.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SOUTH PARK")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You have done this town a huge favor, Mohammed.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hold on a second. Stop. There's some extremists threatening that, if we give Mohammed to the celebrities, they're going to bomb us.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: What?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, it's just a stupid threat. Come on. We don't want to piss off Tom Cruise again.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All right. We got him, Tom.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Mohammed, are you OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, that's what this group is objecting to, a bear suit.
Now, I want to bring you over to the wall here and just show you what they put on their Web site talking about Parker and Stone because of this bear suit right over here.
This is the Web site, RevolutionMuslim.com. And on the note, it says -- and you can decide if it's a threat or not -- reads: "We have to warn Matt and Trey what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat," the posting goes on to say, "but a warning of what will likely happen to them."
The Web site, Revolution Muslim, also had information about where the "South Park" creators live and work and a sermon by a wanted cleric in Yemen that outlines the punishment under Islam for blasphemy.
Theo van Gogh, you will remember, is the Dutch filmmaker murdered in 2004 after making a movie critical of Islam. He was shot on the street, his throat cut, a knife plunged into his chest. His killer wrote a note also threatening Western governments, Jews, and the writer of his film, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
She went into hiding, has had protection ever since. She moved to the U.S. We're going to talk to her tonight. But Theo van Gogh is not the only example of this kind of threat and danger. A year later, in an attempt threat to trigger a debate on free speech, the editors of a Danish newspaper published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. It sparked worldwide protests in which dozens were killed. Cartoonists had to go into hiding. And, of course, there's author Salman Rushdie and his book "The Satanic Verses," which caused so much controversy. It earned him a fatwa, a religious decree from Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, calling for his death. That was 21 years ago.
And now, on the streets of New York and online, there is this radical Islamic group, and they are focusing on the creators of "South Park."
Drew Griffin tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Revolution Muslim says, despite their provocative posting, complete with the photo of a murder victim, the group says it's only issuing a call to protest, not violence.
Contacted by CNN, the creator of the posting said Revolution Muslim only wants those offended to be able to voice their opposition by letters to the show's creators.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Certainly, the comment on this Web site is very ugly, but it is certainly not specific enough to get anyone arrested at this point.
YOUNES ABDULLAH MOHAMMED, REVOLUTION MUSLIM: Hi, Drew. How are you?
GRIFFIN (on camera): Good.
(voice-over): Last year, CNN interviewed one of the founders of this radical Muslim group on the streets of New York. Younes Mohammed chose his words carefully, telling us he saw nothing wrong with Americans dying in the 9/11 terrorist attack.
MOHAMMED: I don't think it was wrong. I think it was justified.
GRIFFIN: And then adding, he does not encourage any violence on U.S. soil.
It's a word game, federal officials tell us, that allows Revolution Muslim to post support of terrorists, like the alleged Fort Hood Texas shooter, while the Web site itself is protected under free speech laws of the United States.
Younes Mohammed told us he doesn't see anything wrong with his messages. He dislikes the United States. He yearns for a Muslim world.
MOHAMMED: We're commanded to terrorize the disbelievers. And this is a religion, like I said.
GRIFFIN (on camera): You're commanded to terrorize the disbelievers? MOHAMMED: In -- the Koran says very clearly in the Arabic language -- language (SPEAKING ARABIC). This means, terrorize them. It's a command from Allah.
GRIFFIN: So, you're commanded...
MOHAMMED: To terrorize them.
GRIFFIN: ... to terrorize anybody who doesn't believe?
MOHAMMED: It doesn't mean -- you define terrorism as going and killing an innocent civilian. That's what your...
GRIFFIN: How do you...
MOHAMMED: I define terrorism as making them fearful, so that they think twice before they go rape your mother or kill your brother or go on to your land and try to steal your resources.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The clip on the site ends with the warning on a graphic directed at Parker and Stone that the dust will never settle down.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: And that is certainly what they are trying to do in this, to terrorize.
Let us know what you think. You can join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Up next, we continue on this -- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who lives under threat every single day because of her criticism of Islam.
And, later, Gary Tuchman in the shadow of Iceland's volcano. We will have Chad Myers on where the ash plume is headed now, and your questions about all those stranded flights from our own Richard Quest, who is stranded himself.
You can text them, along with your name, to AC360, or 22360. Standard rates apply.
COOPER: "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker did a pair of episodes which made fun of celebrities, but also happened to feature Jesus, Moses, Buddha, and the Prophet Mohammed. They didn't even show Mohammed. They weren't allowed to by their network. He was disguised in a bear suit.
A radical Muslim Web site put up what they called a warning to Parker and Stone, saying that they would probably end up like Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was butchered by a radical Islamist.
The Web page included a photo of Theo van Gogh's murder. He was killed after making a movie called "Submission" about Islam written by my next guest, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has had to live in -- with protection ever since.
Thanks very much for joining us, Ayaan.
AYAAN HIRSI ALI, AUTHOR, "INFIDEL": Thank you, Anderson. Thank you for having me.
And I just have to make one correction, which is, I had protection before I made "Submission," and Theo van Gogh did not. And that's why he ended up dead and I'm still alive.
COOPER: This radical group says that this is not a threat against the people behind "South Park," but a warning about what will probably happen to them.
They also, on their Web site, provide information about where these two live, a link to a sermon by a wanted cleric about the punishment for blasphemy. Do you think this is a threat?
ALI: This is clearly a threat.
The fact that they have looked for their addresses, found them, or put them up, you know, on the air for any radical jihadist to go and claim martyrdom, that is all part of a threat.
And that's exactly the process before Theo van Gogh was killed. After we made the film, there were lots of radical groups sharing his movements, his address, his pictures, and lots of threats coming in to my e-mail and also to him. And...
COOPER: So, when people say, well, look, this is just some obscure Web site, you know, a bunch of street corner preachers in New York, they really don't amount to much, you say, that doesn't matter?
ALI: Well, the killer of Theo van Gogh, Mohammed Bouyeri, was considered a marginal figure, and his name did not even emerge until after Theo was killed. And after Theo's death, we realized. In fact, the Secret Service announced that he was the leader of the Hofstad group, the group that they now put a lot of attention, and most of them are in jail right now.
But that was -- it started out with: It's a small group, insignificant, radical, marginal, so on and so forth. But they were not marginal. It's their group leader who followed, surveilled Theo as he went from his house to his work on a daily basis, until he found a moment that he could attack.
COOPER: The chilling effect something like this has, I mean, I think, cannot be overestimated. We have already seen the Met Museum in New York reportedly is not going to show any portrayals of Mohammed in their Islamic art exhibition.
And I want to show you some stills from "South Park" where I guess the network didn't even allow them to show Mohammed or portray a cartoon version, so they had him disguised in a bear suit.
I mean, why does it outrage this group so much to have any portrayal, or even in a bear -- bear costume?
ALI: Well, because -- I grew up as a Muslim. And growing up as a Muslim, I learned, you don't criticize Allah, the Koran, or the Prophet Mohammed, and you should, you know, participate in condemning and eventually killing anybody who does.
So, that is just what the religion tells us. That's what scripture tells us. There are some people who want to act on it, and there are some people who don't. The majority of Muslims do not want to act on the scripture, but they are silent when fellow Muslims do. And...
COOPER: But, I mean, like, in "South Park," I mean, this cartoon -- and whether you like "South Park" or not, I mean, they show Buddha snorting cocaine. You don't see death threats or warnings from Buddhists.
ALI: And you don't see death threats from Jews when Moses is depicted in an unbecoming position, and you don't see threats from Christians when Jesus Christ is made -- you know, is put in a satire position.
So, it is only -- and this is the strong thing. The "South Park" episode of last weekend was not just funny, and it wasn't just witty. It was also -- it addressed an essential piece in the times that we are living. There is one group of people, one religion that is claiming to be above criticism.
And I hope that, in -- in the aftermath of this, that we discuss that. When Theo van Gogh and I made "Submission," we wanted to address the position of women in Islam and what the Koran said about Islam -- or what the Koran said about women.
Instead, we ended up in a discussion about, you know, are Muslims more vulnerable or not? Shall we talk about protection? Can they be offended or not? It became a side discussion. And I hope now that we can, in the United States of America, say the freedom of expression, the First Amendment, that is our -- that is the first fundament and the most fundamental basis of our society.
COOPER: I want to play a video of something they said about doing this episode, about the 200th episode.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you afraid that, if the network allows you to unveil the Prophet Mohammed, that you will be bombed?
TREY PARKER, CO-CREATOR, "SOUTH PARK": We would be so hypocritical against our message, our own thoughts if we said OK, well, let's not make fun of them because they might hurt us."
Like that's -- that's messed up, to have that kind of thought process. OK, well, we will rip on the Catholics, because they won't hurt us. Oh, we won't rip on them because they might hurt us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And so your message tonight, the importance of this is -- is what?
ALI: It is an assault on the freedom of expression. And we have to defend it tooth and nail. That means we all stand by Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker.
COOPER: Do you still live with guards? I mean, do you still have protection all around you?
ALI: I have protection. But there comes a time, if -- not just Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone, but if the entertainment business were to take this on and just show how ridiculous this is, that there would be too many people to threaten, and then I think, at that time, I won't need protection, and the gentlemen who made "South Park" will also need -- not need protection.
But it is -- it is something, as a community and as a society, we have to take them on. And that means, I think, scrutinizing Islam, criticizing it in the same way that we criticize Christianity, Judaism and other ideologies and other religions -- equal opportunity scrutiny, equal opportunity offense.
COOPER: And, in this case, equal opportunity comedy.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I appreciate you for being with us. Thank you.
ALI: You're welcome. Thank you.
COOPER: Well, as always, you can learn a lot more online at AC360.com, where, tonight, you will find a link to Ayaan Hirsi Ali's foundation, which fights for separation of mosque and state, especially when it comes to women's right.
Just ahead: the Iceland volcano up close, in the air, and on the ground. Plus, do you ever wonder why there's lightning in some of the ash plumes? Some remarkable pictures, we're going to show you. We will talk to Chad Myers also ahead.
And, later, the son of actor Michael Douglas facing 10 years in prison for selling drugs -- his family's heartfelt effort to keep him out of prison. They say he needs treatment. You will see what the judge decided today and what our own Jeffrey Toobin says, and hear from an addiction specialist about a problem that strikes millions of families, famous or not.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: You remember the former college student charged with hacking into Sarah Palin's e-mail account during the presidential race? His trial has begun. We will have the latest on that ahead, but, first, some other important stories we're following.
Joe Johns has a 360 news and business bulletin -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, President Obama has been privately reaching out to candidates for the pending Supreme Court vacancy. That's according to an administration source involved in the selection process.
The talks are described as phone conversations, rather than face- to-face interviews. Justice John Paul Stevens, who's retiring in June after almost 35 years on the court, turned 90 just today.
Republicans are slamming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after he acknowledged that he held a fund-raiser on Wall Street earlier this year. President Obama made ties to Wall Street a political issue last week, when he singled out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Cornyn, both Republicans, for their recent meeting with financial leaders.
Meantime, Goldman Sachs, which is being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly defrauding investors out of $1 billion, reported a first-quarter profit of $3.5 billion. Facing tough questions from reporters today, executives at the investment bank rejected most of the SEC's claims.
Civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height has died at the age of 98. In the 1960s, height worked alongside the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and other leading names in the movement. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. President Obama called Height a hero.
And a British woman who has never visited China has suddenly started speaking with a Chinese accent, after a severe migraine attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the day that my voice changed, I found it difficult to speak. And, when I did speak, it sounds Chinese.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: According to reports, doctors believe the migraine damaged the 35-year-old's brain, causing a condition known as foreign accent syndrome.
COOPER: That's incredible.
JOHNS: Never heard of that one.
COOPER: Yes, I had never even heard of that.
JOHNS: I know.
COOPER: That's so weird. How can that -- why would that happen?
JOHNS: I don't know. And I'm kind of gullible, so...
COOPER: Yes. Apparently, it's real, though, from what we understand.
COOPER: We will check in with Joe a little bit later.
Joe, let's take time to look at our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo we put on the blog every day.
Tonight's picture, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner talking to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke while testifying before House lawmakers about the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The staff winner tonight, Steve, his caption: "Ben, you really think we look like Toby and Josh from 'the West Wing'"?
JOHNS: Not too bad.
COOPER: Viewer winner, Kara from Charlottesville, her caption: "So, I'm going with volcanic ash as the cause of the collapse. Think they will buy it?"
COOPER: Kara, congratulations. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt, it's on the way.
Still ahead -- is that a flush?
COOPER: The latest on the Iceland volcano. It's still erupting, but may be weakening, which is certainly good news. But there's also apparently some new threat or worry about, call it the volcano next door. We will have all that, plus which airports are now open across Europe.
And Michael Douglas' son -- Have you heard about this case? -- gets prison time in a drug dealing case -- what the actor said in a letter to the judge ahead.
COOPER: A volcano in Iceland continues to create problems around the world, but there are signs tonight the volcano may be calming down a bit, even as that massive ash cloud continues to blow toward Great Britain.
Gary Tuchman has seen the ash cloud up close, near the volcano, a surreal and unnerving experience, to say the least.
Here's his 360 dispatch.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the base of the Iceland volcano, the day is cold and very clear, but up the road a short distance, what looks like a big gray curtain that very quickly closes on us.
There is nothing gradual about it. Visibility drops to near zero, as we drive through the volcano's giant ash plume. The view out the side window looks like something you might see from the window of a submarine. You can see virtually nothing.
(on camera): Only 10 minutes away from here, it's sunny. There are almost no clouds in the sky. But now it feels like nighttime. It's literally raining ash. The ash is going into my eyes. It's on the streets.
We are south of the volcano. This is the way the wind is blowing. In the western part of Iceland, Reykjavik, the capital, where most of the people live, life is completely normal. The winds haven't headed west.
But, south of the volcano, east of the volcano, the farm owners, the landowners, the people who live here who are suffering. Their properties are getting destroyed because of these ash storms. And we don't know yet how bad the health effects are.
(voice-over): We asked the helicopter pilot -- a very good one, at that -- to get as close to the volcano as he dared. He took us within several hundred feet.
It looked like an out-of-control fireworks show, with bottle rockets going haywire, shooting what looked like rocks, but were actually boulders out of the crater. The steam kept changing colors and shapes, towering thousands of feet in the air.
I asked the pilot his first impression.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks like the gates to hell.
TUCHMAN: And this is what happens after the ash lands. Olafur Eggertsson is a farmer who is now dealing with a 2,500-acre farm consumed by ash that has turned into muck and mud. He tells us: "This has been in my family for three generations, me, my father, my grandfather. That's why it hurts so much."
His family has owned the farm near the volcano for 104 years, but the volcano had been quiet for about 190 years.
OLAFUR EGGERTSSON, ICELANDIC FARMER (through translator): Why would this happen to such a beautiful place? What are we being punished for?
TUCHMAN: Our visit with Olafur was on Sunday. We thought we would see how he was doing on Monday, but the visibility made it difficult to find his farm, because, for the second time in three days, it was getting pummeled by ash from the eruption up above.
COOPER: Gary, I know you met with one of Iceland's top volcanic experts today. What does he think about -- about the future of this volcano?
TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, right now, here, it's Wednesday morning, 2:30 a.m.
But Magnus Gudmundsson, who is a scientist at the University of Iceland, tells us that, on Tuesday, Monday, and Sunday, the eruptions were much weaker than Saturday, Friday, and Thursday. And he says, therefore, there's a very good indication that the worst is over, but he doesn't want to make any guarantees.
So, being the inquisitive guy I am, I said, so do you say, maybe 70, 80, 90 percent chance that the worst is over? And he looked at me, very amused, and he said, you can't put percentages to volcanoes.
And I said, OK. Cool. we will leave it a that.
COOPER: All right. Gary, we will leave it as well.
Much more on the volcano ahead. Is the worst over, or could there be big eruptions ahead? We're talking with our expert, meteorologist Chad Myers, answer your -- he's going to answer some of your questions as well.
You can text your name and question to AC360, or 22360. Standard rates apply.
Plus, actor Michael Douglas begging a judge to go easy on his son, a convicted drug dealer. He says his son comes from a long line of addicts and needs help, not prison. Should that be a factor in cases like these? What do you think? We will talk about that next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: As we said before the break, eruptions from the Iceland volcano are weakening. Certainly, good news there. But there are a lot of concerns about what could happen next and how long these flights are going to be delayed for. One of the biggest dangers is the volcano that's erupting right now could actually set off another one nearby. It's happened before. There's also the ash cloud that's making its way across Europe. Still, meteorologist Chad Myers joins me now.
So, Chad, what is the latest as far as the cloud of ash? Today, is it a lot better?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's better than it was the first day, obviously. Because the first day, the cloud went up to 40,000 feet. Today the highest ash cloud was 18,000 feet. Easy for planes to fly over that.
Now, you have to realize, there's still going to be an ash layer somewhere below 18,000 feet and above about 12,000 feet that planes may have to fly around or maybe not be able to get anywhere near in the future.
This is not over by any stretch. The last time this erupted there was a two-year stretch through the fissures, and all of this ash thrown up into the sky in the spring, being taken north and then to the south by a moving Jet Stream and that happens a lot in the spring. The Jet goes up; it warms up. The Jet goes down; it cools down. We know how spring can be cold and hot. That's the reason, because the Jet Stream's moving north and south, as well.
COOPER: So there are more airports open right now with, obviously, very long lines, but for all the worldwide chaos that this volcano has created, I mean, it might just be the opening act. There can actually be more eruptions and ash from another volcano?
MYERS: No question about it. Every time that we've known about it, which is the past three eruptions since, like, 1600, every time that this -- I'm going to call it the E-15 volcano -- because I can't say it, "E" and then there's 15 other vowels or consonants at the end of it.
E-15, every time that goes off, this other one called Katla -- K- A-T-L-A- -- goes off with it. And Katla is ten times larger of a volcano than E-15 is. So the good news is, at this point in time, Katla is under 1,500 feet of ice, under a glacier. But if it starts to bubble, that water -- that ice will melt rather quickly, and it will turn into a volcano, as well.
COOPER: And I've seen pictures of the volcano, where it looks like lightning inside it, almost. I mean, why is that happening?
MYERS: Absolutely, lightning. Lightning is all the time, with a volcano like this. This is not Kilauea like in Hawaii, where the lava just slowly oozes out. This is an explosive charge of gases and ash thrown up into the sky. And when it's thrown up into the sky, at literally hundreds of miles per hour, it's like a million little people rubbing their feet on the carpet, making shocks and making sparks in the winter time when the humidity is low. You rub your feet, you touch the doorknob, you get a shock. This is now rubbing all of these ash particles together, creating static, and the static electricity is one gigantic lightning show.
COOPER: It's amazing pictures. Chad, appreciate it. Thanks.
Air travel is still a mess tonight, not nearly as big a mess as yesterday, although the backlog remains huge. A lot of flights resumed today. Even Britain reopened its air space. I want to show you what the air space over Europe and the Atlantic Ocean looks like tonight.
Half of Europe's flights were back in the air today. It's about 14,000 flights. Fewer than 9,000 were flying just last night.
Richard Quest is still here in the U.S., monitoring the situation, unable to get home, I guess, until some time this weekend?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'll get married and divorced before I get back to the U.K. because of the delays. One friend told me, went to get reconfirmed and was told that the soonest that this airline could confirm him back to Europe was May the 1st.
COOPER: May the 1st?
QUEST: May the 1st. Now, if you look at this diagram tonight, and remember what we were talking about last night, about how the tracks show where the airlines are.
QUEST: But look to the left, and you can now see just off the northern coast of Canada, you see all those planes starting to move back...
QUEST: ... and right up towards the top, heading towards Iceland, this is very good news.
COOPER: They're able to now fly over, I guess, the...
QUEST: This shows that the traffic is now moving back from the west to the east, and people are able to fly again. The convoy of aviation is moving back across to Europe.
COOPER: But in order to get flights into the U.K., they actually changed what was considered the safety levels for ash, right?
QUEST: Now, this has been interesting. Some would say they moved the goalposts. COOPER: Right.
QUEST: Others would say it was modern -- modern technology. As a result of all the tests that they've done, they're able to raise what's called the engine tolerance of the aircraft. In other words, the planes can accept more of this ash at lower density levels.
And what the Civil Aviation Authority in the U.K. said, it was time to revise the rules. They still said airlines need to check the planes before and after such flights, but they did say it's now possible to actually fly in less dense conditions.
COOPER: We've got a Text 360 question from Diana in Florida. She wants to know, "How is all this affecting domestic air travel in the U.S.?" I mean, it's started to have a little bit of an impact.
QUEST: It's had an tangential effect in the sense of connecting passengers can't move on, and there may be certain planes that are out of place in different areas.
And airlines, of course, U.S. carriers, are also losing millions of dollars a day, and they'll hope to recoup that sometime probably in ticket prices. But, by and large, it's just mainly international travel.
COOPER: There have been a ton of people stuck at JFK, I mean, for days now, living in these...
QUEST: Well, today I was at Newark, and we saw people in cots, where they've been set up near the ground transportation area. They've been there four or five days. Kennedy Airport, there are people -- they brought in mobile showers so that people can wash...
COOPER: A really pleasant scene over the...
QUEST: Well, I can honestly say, I didn't experience -- you know, I didn't want to go that far in my journalism.
However, what I really -- the real point is if the tears that you see from people who have just about had enough. The frustration level, the frustration level boiled over today at Newark. And people are angry. They want to get home. But they somehow -- it's that fascinating thing, Anderson, where you know you just -- there's nothing you can do, and it's no one's fault.
COOPER: I mean, airports are -- I mean, it's a nightmare to travel these days, as it is. It's just getting worse and worse, but I mean, there's nothing worse than being stuck in an airport and not having information. And getting the sense that no one is giving you the information they do have.
QUEST: And no one can do anything. I have to say, planes are flying; passengers are getting on. One good bit of news. Many people in the United States have decided not to take their trips, particularly business travelers. Therefore, that's freed up seats for tourists to go home and other people wait-listed. COOPER: Would you advise someone who's thinking of traveling, you know, within the next couple of days to delay it?
QUEST: I think anyone thinking of traveling in the next couple of days...
COOPER: Yes, who didn't have to do it.
QUEST: They're barking mad if they actually go anywhere near an airport and you don't actually have to get on a plane.
COOPER: All right. Barking mad. Richard Quest, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
You can get the latest on volcano-related travel updates on our Web site at AC360.com. That's my new phrase, barking mad.
Next on 360, actor Michael Douglas in court as his son learns his fate for dealing meth and cocaine, trying to keep him out of prison. What he wrote in a five-page letter to the judge, ahead.
Also tonight, scaling back in Haiti. Thousands of U.S. troops that arrived in the wake of the earthquake will soon be leaving. The latest on that ahead.
COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" here in New York today. The son of actor Michael Douglas was sentenced on drug charges. Thirty-one-year- old Cameron Douglas was given five years in prison. He could have received ten years behind bars. Douglas was convicted of selling large amounts of meth and coke.
Before sentencing, Michael Douglas wrote a personal plea to the judge, asking for leniency and revealing the private pain of a famous family who, as you can see, has experienced addiction and anguish for decades.
Here's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No red carpet at federal court in Manhattan, but that didn't keep the cameras away. Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas was here to learn the fate of his son, Cameron Douglas, charged with dealing drugs. A father's plea for mercy in the form of a five-page handwritten letter. "I love my son," the actor wrote, "but I'm not blind to his actions."
This was Michael Douglas' last shot at keeping his son out of prison and getting him into rehab.
For decades, Cameron has been battling drugs and the law.
(on camera) July last year, the law caught up with Cameron again. He was arrested here at the trendy Hotel Gansevoort in New York City and charged with dealing 500 grams of methamphetamine and 5 kilograms of cocaine. Cameron pleaded guilty to the charges. He was facing up to ten years in prison.
(voice-over) In dozens of letters to the court, friends and family painted the picture of a boy under pressure, growing up in the shadow of his celebrity father and grandfather.
Referring to his own father, veteran actor Kirk Douglas, Michael told the judge, "I have some idea of the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father."
Cameron's mother told the judge, "My son felt defeated before he could even get out of the gate."
Michael Douglas admits he was absent when his son was growing up, too busy making movies. Then at 13, Cameron was sent to boarding school and started smoking marijuana. According to his lawyers, he longed for family and an identity, and after his parents divorced, he found the next high. First, cocaine. Then, heroin, injecting himself as often as six times a day. He called his fellow addicts his family.
DR. REEF KARIM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: When you call your drug addict friends your family, it means, literally, "This is where I fit in. These are the people that are going to stand by me."
KAYE: Cameron's father also tried to sway the judge by reminding him addiction runs in the family. Michael Douglas was treated for alcohol addiction. His brother died of a drug overdose.
KARIM: You're going to learn from that. And you're already genetically pre-wired, so it's a scary proposition.
KAYE: Cameron has been in jail for the last nine months, and according to his father's letter, he's been sober longer than any time since he was 13.
Before sentencing, Cameron Douglas apologized, saying he decided to take the right path. Minutes later, the judge sentenced him to five years in prison. Drug treatment, if available. The judge told the court, "The letters didn't acknowledge the impact on victims of society for dealing drugs."
(on camera) Michael Douglas held back tears. Cameron's mother cried. Their son left the courtroom without a word, just one final glance at his parents. After all these years, he had their full attention.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Let's talk more about the addiction and legal angles of the case. Joining me now, senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and Dr. Reef Karim who you just saw in Randi's report. He's a psychiatrist and addiction specialist.
So five kilos of cocaine, that's a lot of cocaine. That's 11 pounds that he was selling.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, this is an interesting question about addiction, but that's not what he was convicted of and pled guilty to. He was a drug dealer.
TOOBIN: Eleven pounds of cocaine. I don't care how addicted you are, that is not personal use cocaine. That is what a drug dealer possesses.
COOPER: So he got five years. Is that a light sentence?
TOOBIN: It was -- it was in the middle to low range. He clearly could have gotten -- he could have gotten up to ten. And he did OK. But let's be clear about what he was sentenced for. It wasn't the fact that he was a drug addict using drugs. It was that he was a drug dealer, selling drugs.
COOPER: And I've got to ask the question, had he been, you know, a poor person who didn't have the same kind of legal representation who was caught with 11 pounds of cocaine, would he have gotten a worse sentence?
TOOBIN: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, he didn't get a slap on the wrist. He did get a significant amount of time. But when you listen to the list of sad things that have happened to him, having a famous father, you know, having -- being sent away to boarding school, you know, the drug dealers that I've prosecuted had a hell of a lot worse problems than that, but they still were punished.
You know, I don't blame his parents for trying to help, but the list of problems he had is not the most tragic that I've ever heard.
COOPER: Dr. Reef, what about that? I mean, people listening to this report kind of shaking their heads saying, OK, so he was sent to boarding school and had a famous dad. Is that -- is that really an excuse?
KARIM: Yes, a lot of people are saying, "Big deal. You know, you're a celebrity. You've got it all. What's your problem? Why are you using drugs?"
It comes down to your specific situation. I have drug addicts that I've treated that are high-end celebrities that have no coping skills and no ability to deal with life. And they can't deal with just basic day-to-day functions that most of us can.
I've also got people that have had horrific, horrific life sentences, so to speak, where they've encountered every abuse and trauma known to man, and they're OK. So it really depends on your coping skills.
Addiction is generally about 50 percent genetic predisposition, which he has, and 50 percent, how do you cope with life and what kind of support system do you have. COOPER: And do you find prison actually ever helps somebody? I mean, can it be a good thing for him?
KARIM: Yes, this is a great question. And I've got a patient I'm dealing with this right now. Is where do you go from a public health problem versus a criminal justice problem?
And, obviously, drugs is a public health problem on many levels, from infections to HIV, you know, to all sorts of other things. But for some people, they just don't get it. They don't get the wake-up call. Their bottom, you know, the bottom that we talk about, is death.
And the only thing that they can do in with regards to intervention is through the legal system or through the medical system, where they fry one of their organs like their liver, or they end up in jail. And that's the only way their going to listen or they're going to respond to being possessed or under the influence of the drugs.
COOPER: But I mean, in prison, Jeff, drugs are still available. Things are smuggled in.
TOOBIN: Sometimes. Although I would say most of the time, particularly in a federal prison, where he is, which tend to be better disciplined. It's unlikely, not impossible, but it's unlikely he will have access to drugs. At least according to his father, he has been clean for the past nine months.
I mean, one advantage of prison for him is that he will be forcibly restrained from getting -- getting more drugs. Now, whether that will last when he gets out or whether, in fact, he will contrive to get drugs -- I mean, remember, he was out on bail, and his girlfriend smuggled him drugs in an electric toothbrush. That's why he got his bail revoked.
So this is a guy who's very determined to get drugs. We'll see whether he beats the prison sentence. We'll see whether he survives this sentence.
COOPER: It does seem extraordinary, Doctor, for -- for somebody who has an addiction problem to -- or maybe it's not extraordinary. I mean, is it normal for somebody with a severe addiction problem to then morph into selling large amounts of cocaine? I mean, 11 pounds of cocaine, and I can't remember how many pounds of meth, or grams.
KARIM: Yes. Here's what usually happens. Here's the scenario. So you're a drug addict. You're a user for whatever reasons, coping skills, whatever it is, the genetics. You go on, you go on, you go on. Eventually, your family is like, "Look, we can't do this anymore. We cannot support you in regards your drug habit. We're going to cut you off financially."
What happens then is the person has no money, and they still -- their entire community and system of friends are people who use drugs. So they get into the act of selling. And then they make their money to pay their rent and to eat their food by dealing. And then they end up by becoming maybe a good dealer. And they deal more and more and more until the legal system kicks in, like we're seeing now.
The other thing, Anderson, to keep in mind is, in regards to him, specifically. You've got this live up to your expectations of your father and your grandfather, who are both successful. You've got entitlement, because he's probably, you know, had a lot of resources and a lot of things in life that the average kid doesn't have.
And you've got these kids that have everything, so they're totally bored. And they're looking for sensational seeking, novelty seeking. Something new. And a thing like prison with regards to this case, as sad as it is and as tragic as it is, will be a complete wake- up call to literally no entitlement. There will be no entitlement in prison at all.
COOPER: No doubt about that. Dr. Reef, appreciate your being on with us. Jeffrey Toobin, as well.
You can go to AC360.com to read the entire letter Michael Douglas wrote to the judge.
Coming up next, Sarah Palin's e-mail invasion. New details in the case against the student accused of hacking into her personal files and details on whether the former governor could take the stand.
Plus, battle of the bulldogs. Which one of these pups is the most beautiful? Believe it or not, a winner was chosen. We'll show him to you ahead.
COOPER: It's almost beautiful to look at until you realize what it is you are looking at right now. A tornado at sunset on the ground at the Texas Panhandle. We are just getting these pictures in now. Let's get the latest. Severe weather expert Chad Myers still standing by.
Chad, where is this? What's happening?
MYERS: West of Bushland, Texas. They say it's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. Right, just south of I-40. Now, this is west of Amarillo. Then there's a -- there's Bushland right there.
You can zoom in and see where Amarillo is, right there as we zoom on down 27 and I-40, to five miles to the west of Bushland is where that occurred. And about, I would say, when you see the cars driving through there, that's about a half a mile. That's a very large tornado. That's at least an F-2 or an F-3 tornado.
The only tornado of the day today, but that will change tomorrow and that will certainly change on Thursday. There could be dozens of tornadoes on the ground by Thursday night, Anderson.
COOPER: Amazing pictures. Chad, thanks very much. A lot more happening elsewhere. Joe Johns is back with the "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the U.S. military operation in Haiti is winding down. Right now about 2,200 U.S. troops are helping with earthquake relief efforts. That's compared to 22,000 at the peak. By June, U.S. officials only expect about 500 National Guard and reserve troops to be stationed in Haiti.
A Tennessee jury is chosen in the trial of a former college student charged with hacking into Sarah Palin's e-mail. David Kernell is accused of getting illegal access to Palin's Yahoo! account in 2008 when she was a Republican vice-presidential candidate and governor of Alaska. Palin is a potential witness in the case, along with her husband, Todd, and daughter, Bristol.
Most teenagers prefer texting to talking, and one in three sends more than 100 text messages a day. That's according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, which also found that 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, up from 45 percent six years ago.
And here we go. Check out the 31st annual Beautiful Bulldog Pageant. Just what you were waiting for, the slobbering contestants dressed in all kinds of clothes, and here is the winner.
His name is Meatball. He beat out 49 other dogs for the title in Des Moines, Iowa. Meatball got -- get this -- a key to the city, a royal cape and a crown. He also has to make several public appearances. And I take it, this is not a qualifier for the Westminster Dog Show.
COOPER: Ah. Cute dog.
JOHNS: Kind of cute. Yes. I'll take a Labrador any day.
COOPER: Aw. All right. For "The Shot," we're giving you a break from the Willie Nelson thing. Willie Nelson on "LARRY KING."
COOPER: We won't mock you for that any more. Instead, we've got a mascot throw-down going bad. Take a look.
This is a clip from YouTube. The guys, Wolfie, let's take a look -- oh,
LEMON: Look at that.
JOHNS: Oh, ouch!
COOPER: That's Wolfie. He's the mascot for the University of Nevada. for the mascot.
JOHNS: Did he live?
COOPER: Archie, that's the name of the big fuzzy thing, is the mascot for a minor league baseball team. Any way, I think I have another angle. Wolfie got around to doing the moonwalk -- I think that's what he's doing.
JOHNS: Good -- oh!
COOPER: What's nice about doing something like this in front of a huge stadium it, it's on so many other angles you can see it. You know? Get another angle.
JOHNS: That's just -- ouch! I mean, did he go to the hospital?
COOPER: I think he's fine. I don't think we'd be mocking it if it was a serious injury involved.
Joe, thanks for being on tonight.
More news at the top of the hour, including the creators of "South Park" have to fear for their lives because of a cartoon they produced of a bear. We'll explain why something that sounds so funny could be deadly serious, ahead.
COOPER: Tonight, radical Islamists right here in America threaten the creators of "South Park." A warning, the radicals call it, that that they will probably be murdered for their portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
Now who are these people and why do they think that freedom of speech is punishable by death? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also tonight, the cloud of ash that has cost billions, stranded tens of thousands of passengers. We'll have the latest on the pain and the ash. Will it let up enough for travelers to finally get home?