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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

"No More Mosques, Period"; New York Islamic Center Controversy; Same-Sex Marriage Blocked Again; When You Unplug from Technology; Alleged Craigslist Killer's Apparent Suicide; Deadly Floods in Pakistan

Aired August 16, 2010 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN HOST: Thank you all at home for joining us.

You know everyone from President Obama on down is weighing in on that Islamic center blocks away from Ground Zero. But tonight, in addition to the latest on that, you're going to meet a man who says he speaks for a lot of Americans. Not only is he against the Islamic center he says, there should be no more mosques in this country period. Yes, anywhere.

You might be wondering how he squares that with the First Amendment -- so are we; "Keeping them Honest."

Also tonight, "Up Close" late developments -- with same-sex couples waiting to get married in California, a federal appeals court says not so fast, no marriages yet. All of a sudden, last week's ruling allowing weddings this Wednesday, well, now it seems so last week. Jeffrey Toobin's here to tell us why.

And later, these things. Are they literally messing with your mind? Some researchers went off the grid -- way off the grid to find out -- no Blackberrys, no cell phones, no laptops. You're going to see what they discovered about how technology could be changing the way we think. We're "Digging Deeper".

First tonight though: growing political fallout over that Islamic center in lower Manhattan and another kind of fallout as well -- people raising the warning flags, some people calling it really toxic stuff; opposition to any mosque anywhere, from Manhattan to Murphysboro, Tennessee.

"Keeping them Honest" tonight, we're trying to find out how people holding that view reconcile it with the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion as well as a long standing American tradition of religious tolerance.

Friday night president Obama weighed in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances.

This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Essential to who we are. Pretty much what New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said about the center which includes a gym, swimming pool, performance space and, yes, a prayer space.

Many interpreted the president's remarks as specifically endorsing the center itself not just the right to build it down there. So the next day, Mr. Obama said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put the mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right the people had that dates back to our founding. That's what our country is about. And I think it's very important that as difficult as some of these issues are, we can stay focused on who we are as a people, and what our values are all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Now, together, the statements which like the First Amendment mention no religion and no place of worship by name touched off a storm. Sarah Palin tweeted accusing him of not being specific enough. Senate majority leader Harry Reid stood up for the First Amendment but against putting the mosque there. GOP Senate campaign chairman John Cornyn said Republicans will campaign on this issue this fall. And Rick Scott, running to be Florida's next governor, rushed out a TV spot today.

It's getting hot out there. We want to talk about it with our political panel shortly.

But as you can see, it's also getting very hot here. Take a look; people rallying against Islamic community centers and places of worship in California, Tennessee, Florida, Connecticut. The Florida protestors say they've scheduled a Koran burning on September 11th. The leader of the Connecticut group on 360 the other night saying, quote, "Islam is a lie from the pit of hell." Some very strong stuff.

Seems like between the shaky economy, two wars, the pain of 9/11 and more, there's an awful lot of kindling out there. Whichever side of the debate you're on, a lot of people playing with matches.

We're joined now via Skype by Bryan Fischer; he's the host of Focal Point on the American Family Radio Talk Network. . We should point out that he's also issues director for the American Family Association. While he says his views are his own, not the association's, the American Family Radio Network is, in fact, listed as a division of the AFA, just to get that all clear. Thanks for joining us, Mr. Fischer.

BRYAN FISCHER, HOST, "FOCAL POINT" AMERICAN FAMILY RADIO TALK NETWORK: You're welcome, Dr. Gupta, good to be with you.

GUPTA: Thank you. I want to be clear on your viewpoint here because you've made quite a bit of waves lately. You don't want any mosques built in the United States, is that correct? You want a moratorium?

FISCHER: I think the reality Dr. Gupta is, that when we look at Islam, we're looking at a totalitarian ideology that is anti- Christian, anti-Semitic. The values that are at the core of Islam are contrary to every single solitary western and American value. I think communities ought to have the liberty to reject building permits.

Each one of these mosques is either a potential or actual recruitment center for Jihadism or training center for Jihadism.

GUPTA: You said quite a bit there already. Let me just start with one thing, freedom of religion. You've been asked this question before; it's one of this country's founding principles.

The First Amendment says, Congress shall make no law respecting (ph) an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

How can you say that that potentially applies to all religions except Islam?

FISCHER: Well, the reality, Dr. Gupta, is that no one could claim First Amendment religious protections if their ideology and their activities are subversive.

All you've got do is ask the Christian militia, the Hutaree how much First Amendment protections they had when they set out to attack federal officers. They have Bible verses plastered all over their Web site. Everything they did, they did in the name of Jesus Christ. They are right now pondering the limits of the First Amendment from the inside of a jail cell, which is where they should be.

GUPTA: You know, you have said -- now, again, you've said some this before. Your evidence for saying that every mosque potentially here is dedicated to the overthrowing of the American government is a manifest, I believe, issued in 1991 by a group called the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, you quote some frightening passages from there about destroying Western civilization from within.

But, Bryan, you realize this group doesn't speak for all Muslims; it doesn't speak for all Muslims around the world. It doesn't speak for all Muslims in the United States. It's a radical political group, very controversial.

And while its history does involve some violence, they're -- they're controversial even among Muslims. So, how can you -- how can you use that one particular organization and say that they're speaking for 1.2 billion people?

FISCHER: Well, Dr. Gupta, it's nice of you to try to marginalize the Muslim Brotherhood, but their tentacles include the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Student Association, the Council for American-Islamic Relations -- CAIR, and also the Muslim Association.

So, you're looking at four -- five, really, if you include the Brotherhood -- five of the most prominent and most visible Muslim organizations in North America. They are far from a fringe group; they represent the essence and the core of Islam. And it's very clear that the goal of Islam in North America is the extermination of Western civilization. No community should have to put up with that.

GUPTA: I don't think a lot of people agree with you, Bryan, on this. I just have to say that. And I'm a layperson when it comes to this, but let me ask you what you think of this particular comment back in 2001.

"Islam is peace." Now, that wasn't said by any liberal or Democrat. It was said by President George W. Bush, a man who talked at length about his deep Christian faith. What about that from President Bush?

FISCHER: Well, President Bush was well-meaning, but wrong.

Islam is not a religion of peace. It is a religion of war. It is a religion of violence. Christianity, on the other hand, is a religion of peace. It was founded by the Prince of Peace. That's the major contrast between the two religions.

Islam, in reality, is a political ideology. It's a totalitarian political ideology. And you simply cannot hide a totalitarian political agenda behind the First Amendment.

Imagine if Timothy McVeigh was a Christian. Now, he wasn't. He was an atheist. But imagine he was a part of a violent Christian sect, and he wanted to build a 13-story center, cultural center, for his Christian sect overlooking the grounds of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

GUPTA: All right.

FISCHER: I don't think anybody in America would put up with that, and they would be right not to.

GUPTA: I hear you. I think that's an unfair comparison, with all due respect.

Quickly, Mr. Fischer, a lot of Muslim-Americans watching tonight, some of them very upset by some of the comments you have made in the past, what do you say to them now?

FISCHER: Well, I say I love Muslims. I am pro-Muslim. I am anti-Islam.

I would say to a Muslim, look, your ideology is destructive. It's deceptive. It's dark. I invite you to come into the light of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. That's where hope and light, forgiveness and a promise for the future can truly be found.

GUPTA: Well, I -- it's been an interesting interview -- you love Muslims; you hate Islam.

Bryan Fischer, we will -- we will keep -- we will keep tabs on you and see how things are going. Thanks so much for joining us.

FISCHER: Thank you, Dr. Gupta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: You know, I want to come back to the politics now.

And as a layman, I have got to tell you, the whole thing's pretty fascinating. So close to midterm elections, 9.5 percent unemployment, yet all you seem to hear about is the Islamic center, whether it's Newt Gingrich talking or Harry Reid or President Obama; a lot of Democrats, incidentally, unhappy with the President for speaking out.

And in a column today, "TIME" magazine's Mark Halperin, well, he practically begged Republicans not to attack him on this.

But everyone is talking now, so it's worth a closer look at what everyone is saying.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

And joining us from the left and the right respectively: political contributors James Carville and Erick Erickson.

Thanks to both of you for joining us.

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

GUPTA: Let me get right to it.

Erick, I read this -- this column by you. You put President Obama's speech supporting religious freedom in Lower Manhattan in the same category as someone supporting satanic worship, human sacrifice, and jihad. Do you stand by that?

ERICKSON: Yes. You know, I think a lot of people missed the point, other than people who picked up my point, which was, these are absurd results, but they are the results that come along with should Fred Phelps build a church where Matthew Shepard was killed or the Klan putting a center next to where Martin Luther King Jr. was killed? They're absurd results.

And when the President stands up and says, hey, the Constitution says we can, therefore, we should support it, that's wrong. The question is not whether the Constitution can support it, no one is debating that. The question is whether or not they should support it. And I don't think they should.

GUPTA: Constitutional America, cultural America.

James, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as you know, came out against building the Islamic center as well.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

GUPTA: He said he respects the whole notion, but thinks that it should be built someplace else, thinks it might be sort of insulting to families of 9/11. Does he have a point here?

CARVILLE: Well, I -- I disagree with Senator Reid. He's a dear friend and I support him. I disagree. And if Islam would have attacked us, I would say, we shouldn't do that.

But I was under the impression that we were attacked by al Qaeda. And I have many, many close friends who are Muslims. And, you know, I'm watching our report, and there's an OTB betting parlor around the corner from this proposed site. So, I'm -- I'm -- I'm -- I don't think we were attacked by them, and this whole thing is, like, not very smart.

Rumsfeld said that we were going to change the way that they lived, the Muslim people were going to live. I don't think that's a good idea. I don't want to go to war with 1.2 billion people. I'm not for that. I like many Muslims.

GUPTA: I want to get into that issue a little bit.

ERICKSON: You know, I think that's a distraction, though, James. I mean, what we're dealing with here is a group of people who fund- raised around the world, saying, hey, we're going to build a mosque on the Ground Zero. Send us the money to build it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Well, they lied. They lied. It's not on Ground Zero. It's around the corner from an OTB betting parlor.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: It's a couple block away.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: And, Erick, is Islam a religion of mass murder? I mean, you're equating this --

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: No, of course not. I grew up in the Middle East. I have got plenty of friends who are Muslim. I grew up in Dubai. Of course not. The problem, though, is that you have this particular mosque. And people who support it tend to paint everyone who opposes it as saying, oh, they're nothing but bigots.

Islam has nothing to do with it. What it has to do with is that this mosque was built by these people saying this was going to be at Ground Zero, send us some money to build it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And we will pick up the conversation after the break.

I want to hear what you think as well. The live chat is up and running at AC360.com.

Just ahead: a new and potentially game-changing court ruling in California's same-sex marriage battle. Jeffrey Toobin is going to be joining us.

And five neuroscientists walk into the wilderness. It sounds like a setup line, but, as you will see, the punchline could change your relationship with all that digital technology you think you can't live without. Could you live a week without your BlackBerry? I'm not sure I could. Stay tuned. See if these guys could.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back talking about the political storm over the planned Islamic center and mosque two blocks northeast of Ground Zero, what's become known as the Ground Zero Mosque. That's shorthand, to be sure.

You heard the beginnings of a debate between James Carville and Erick Erickson before the break. Here's the rest of our conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Let's get a couple of terms straight. They're calling it an Islamic community center, to be clear. It's a 15-story building that also has a mosque. But it has lots of things, as you both know. It's also a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero. Those are facts.

But, James, let me ask you this.

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: No, no, hang on, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Go ahead.

ERICKSON: It's not a fact.

Part of the landing gear of one of the aircraft landed and took out the building that was there. That in my mind makes it part of Ground Zero.

GUPTA: OK. Well, every -- I think most people are saying this is a couple blocks away from Ground Zero.

But let's get to the -- let's get to the -- James, just following up really quickly, politically, though, for a second, was this a wise move for President Obama for him to wade into this?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: No, no, of course not. Politically, it's not wise at all. But it was the right thing to do.

But, no, I'm thinking -- and the political fight is lost. But that doesn't -- that doesn't detract -- you lose political fights on -- on any number of occasions.

You know, here in Louisiana, we -- politically, it was a disaster to be for civil rights. But it -- that didn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do.

And, you know, I understand people -- you know, it's a debate, but, again, I -- you know, this has always been a thing. I like -- I like Muslim people. I think they're fine people.

I don't like al Qaeda. I can't stand them. We're at war with them, as we well should be. But we -- I'm not -- I'm not -- we should not be at war with Islam. It's -- it's -- not at all.

GUPTA: And, James, just getting back to Erick's point for a second, this sort of tension between cultural and constitutional America, they have the right to do this. Should they do this, James?

CARVILLE: Well, yes, again, it's the difference between having the right to do something and it being the right thing to do.

My view is, is the mayor, the thing was -- the city commission. It had support. And now it looks like that we're saying, no, no, you can't do that. And I don't think this is -- I don't think this is planned too well, beyond the United States.

But you're right, it's -- politically, no, the President -- this was not a smooth political move on the President's part. But he's President of the United States. And, sometimes, with the job, you have got to do things like this.

GUPTA: Erick, I want to get something clear. We're seeing increasingly widespread opposition to mosques all over the country. You read these articles, as has everyone. Some people even say there should be a moratorium. Are you going that far, as well?

ERICKSON: Oh, of course not.

My particular beef is with this particular mosque at this location, based on the statements of the people themselves who were fund-raising for and supporting this mosque. I think it's bad form and they shouldn't build it here.

Mosques are not -- you know, I grew up in the Middle East. I have a real hard time with people who want to paint blanketly about Muslims, many of whom are my friends. But, at the same time, at some point, if you're going to offend the sensibilities of so many people -- 70 percent of Americans are opposed to this, but 70 percent also say that they have a constitutional right -- maybe they should think again.

GUPTA: James, if you had to make a bet, do you think this Islamic center ends up getting built?

CARVILLE: Probably not. I mean, political opposition is -- is sort of manic here. I have no idea. I think Mayor Bloomberg has shown some extraordinary courage here. And -- you know, and I think it -- I kind of fear that this is going to be taken the wrong way here.

And -- and that's my great fear. But, look, politically, I would -- I would be just -- I would be happy, as would most Democrats, if the thing would be -- just go away. But I don't think the Republicans are going to let it go away.

ERICKSON: I hope not.

CARVILLE: And it might be a good -- might be a good August move. I don't know. But, down the road, I have great fear that this is not a nifty thing for this country.

GUPTA: What about you, Erick? Do you think it's going to get built?

ERICKSON: You know, I don't think it is.

And, you know, to James' point, remember, Mayor Bloomberg is the guy who, when the Times Square bombing came out, his first reaction was maybe this is someone who opposed health care reform.

The problem is, we have a lot of people in the country who want to dance around these issues because they don't want to offend anybody's sensibilities, except, apparently, the people who don't want the mosque built at Ground Zero.

GUPTA: And to be clear again, we're calling it an Islamic community center. That's the term, this 15-story building.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: I know. I know, Erick.

We're going to have to leave it there. You started off by saying this whole thing has become a bit absurd. And I think for a lot of people watching, we are parsing out various degrees of absurdity, no question.

But stay tuned, a lot more on this I'm sure, in the days and weeks to come.

James Carville, Erick Erickson, thanks so much.

ERICKSON: Thank you.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Doc.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Up next: how today's court ruling on same-sex marriage could do a lot more than simply postpone a few weddings. In just a little while, Jeffrey Toobin is going to be joining us.

And a cancer diagnosis for actor Michael Douglas; we will talk about the kind of treatment he's getting and his chances of recovery -- up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: "Up Close" tonight: the battle over same-sex marriage in California. Now, as we mentioned at the top of the program, a federal appeals court late today blocked gay and lesbian couples from saying, "I do".

Basically, what the appellate panel in San Francisco did was they put on hold a judge's order last week allowing same-sex marriage to begin this Wednesday. That judge had previously struck down California's Proposition 8. That's the voter-approved law that bans same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

Now, the appeals court wants to hear arguments on the broader constitutional questions on this contentious issue. And to help sort this all out, we're -- we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst.

This is a little bit confusing, Jeff, but let me see if I can just start off with this. A lot of same-sex couples had been looking forward to getting married this week out in California, and then this. How big of a setback do you think this is?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: (AUDIO GAP) setback for the forces that support same-sex marriage.

In a practical, symbolic, and legal sense, across the board, it's really bad news. First of all, just in a practical sense, there were people, as you said, getting ready to get married on Wednesday. And they're not going to be able to get married, not this Wednesday, and not for months, at the earliest. So, that's the immediate effect.

But, also, as this case moves through the appellate process, if the stay had been lifted, if people had been getting married all along, hundreds of people, maybe thousands of couples, that would have made it harder --

GUPTA: Right.

TOOBIN: -- in a symbolic way, to rule against the -- the same- sex marriage in California, because there are all these people out there getting married. Without anybody getting married, it makes the issue more abstract and easier --

GUPTA: More academic, it sounds like.

TOOBIN: More academic and easier, I think, to rule in favor of Proposition 8, against same-sex marriage.

GUPTA: You know, I guess the irony as well, Jeff, is that a lot of Prop 8 supporters were preemptively bashing the Ninth Circuit court, saying it's the most liberal court in the country, and it ends up giving them a victory of sorts, at least a temporary one.

Could -- could you have seen this coming, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, it's hard to know, because the Ninth Circuit, it is true, has more liberal judges than most other circuit courts of appeals. But not all the judges on the Ninth Circuit are liberal. The three judges here were probably on the more liberal side.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: And it's important to remember, as you pointed out, that this is not the end of the Ninth Circuit's consideration of this case. They put in a stay. They're still going to hear the case.

They may well affirm Judge Walker's decision that says Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. They haven't ruled on the merits of the case yet.

GUPTA: Right.

TOOBIN: But, certainly, this ruling on the stay is a surprise to those people who thought the Ninth Circuit is just sort of irredeemably liberal and will always rule in favor of gay rights.

GUPTA: So, just quickly, Jeff, walk us through what happens next. So, the Ninth Circuit court hears the full appeal in December and then what?

TOOBIN: Right. They put it on an accelerated schedule. So, they will hear the case in December; probably decide it in the early part of 2011.

Then, presumably, the losing side, whichever side it is, will appeal to the United States Supreme Court. I think the Supreme Court is almost certainly going to take this case. That means it will probably be argued around the first Monday in October of 2011, a ruling some time probably in the spring of 2012.

But I really do think we are heading towards a ruling in the United States Supreme Court about whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in this country -- a huge, huge issue. GUPTA: October 2011, spring of 2012. We're going to keep you busy, Mr. Toobin.

TOOBIN: That's -- that's how we like it.

GUPTA: All right. Thanks -- thanks so much for joining us.

We are following some other important stories as well tonight.

Joe Johns joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Sanjay.

Researchers now say oil from BP's broken well may have settled at the bottom of the Gulf within 40 miles off Florida's Panhandle, and in heavy concentrations that are toxic to marine life. They believe it's the result of using chemical dispersants.

No criminal charges will be filed against the driver of a truck that crashed at an off-road racing event in Southern California, killing eight people. It happened Saturday in the Mojave Desert. The driver lost control of his vehicle and plowed into spectators. Police call it a tragic accident, but they say they are not filing charges, because proper permits were issued for the race.

A jetliner crashed and broke apart early this morning while attempting to land in San Andres, Colombia. One person was killed, more than 120 others injured. There are reports the plane may have been struck by lightning.

And doctors have told Michael Douglas that he has a tumor in his throat. A spokesman for Douglas says the 65-year-old actor will undergo eight weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. And the doctors believe he will make a full recovery.

Sanjay, you're a doctor. So, based on what we have heard, and -- and reading through this, do you have any sense what type of throat cancer Michael Douglas might have?

GUPTA: Yes. You know, Joe, it's always a little difficult to speculate on these things.

But, you know, when you're talking about throat cancer, that's a little bit vague right in and of itself. But, usually, a lot of people are referring to sometimes the larynx, or the speech box, or sometimes the area around the tonsils, for example.

Now, we do know -- and he has talked about this openly -- that he was a smoker in 2006. He said he was trying to quit, along with his wife at that time. And smoking is a big risk factor for this.

So, you know, I think that, again, there's all sorts of different cancers and all sorts of different possibilities out there. But you have really got to put that probably near the top of the list. Some -- there are some cancers, incidentally, Joe, that are caused by viruses as well. But, again, given his history, I would say that's -- that's probably what -- what they're dealing with right now.

JOHNS: So, eight weeks of chemo and radiation, is that pretty typical?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, it is fairly typical.

And one -- one thing about this, Joe -- it's is interesting is -- when it comes to the larynx, again, or the speech box, people talk about, you know, surgery for a lot of types of cancers or tumors. With this, in order to preserve someone's speech -- he has that great voice -- you know, we hear it often -- you want to try and see if you can do chemo or radiation sort of an initial therapy to try and preserve speech as much as possible.

JOHNS: Speculating a little bit, what's the prognosis? Any idea?

GUPTA: You know, one -- the big thing here is, you know, you talk about a tumor in the throat. Doctors need to gather a lot more information here.

For example, are the lymph nodes involved in some way? Is this anywhere else in the body? And again, exactly what kind of cancer are we talking about? So, I think they have got a lot of work to do still, obviously, just little bits of information coming out, but it sounds like treatment is already planned.

So, we will certainly keep tabs on -- on him.

And thanks, Joe, for that report.

Up next for all of you: We're getting unplugged, literally. What happens to your brain when you unhook everything that's digital in your life? I would like to find out. We're going to have some answers.

And authorities want answers on why the alleged Craigslist killer was found dead in his prison cell -- coming up.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Imagine unplugging your BlackBerry, your iPod, your laptop, everything and anything digital in your life and going on a wilderness trip. That's exactly what five neuroscientists did a few months ago to study how technology changes the way we think and behave.

I'm fascinated by this one. Let's dig a little deeper here.

Two of them joining us tonight: they have different views on this one. David Strayer organized the trip, he's a psychology professor at the University of Utah; and Art Kramer, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois.

I'm really fascinated by this story.

David, you decided to take five neuroscientists on a trip in May to the Four Corners in the Southwest and basically unplug, as far as I could tell, from all technology for five days.

What was your conclusion at the end of all this? Is technology somehow making us dumber?

DAVID STRAYER, PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH: Well, you know, it was really kind of an experiment just to see what would happen when -- when we kind of got unplugged for a little while. There's a lot of literature, if you look at writings of Thoreau and Dior (ph) and Edward Abby (ph) and so forth, they talk about getting into nature and how it's restorative.

And there's researchers coming out in psychology that talks about the fact that you have restorative effects when you can get away from -- get unplugged from the technology.

What I wanted to do was bring in a group of neuroscientists, some skeptical and basically explore these ideas. Is there a way to actually provide some neuroscience that could actually help to understand? if there's anything going on in the brain, what exactly it may be?

GUPTA: And Art Kramer, Professor, you initially were a skeptic, I understand. I'm not sure what you thought going into this. But do you think technology is shortening our attention spans? And I guess more importantly, is it impacting our brain in some way?

ART KRAMER, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY AND NEUROSCIENCE: Yes, I think pretty much everything we do impacts our brain. We know that from both animal and human research over many decades. I'm not sure if it's technology, per se, or the way we use technology and the way we get engaged in technology from a young age to an older age these days.

GUPTA: So did this trip change your mind in some way? I mean, you walked in a skeptic. How do you feel about things now?

KRAMER: Well, I've always been involved in hiking and rock climbing and mountain climbing. And I appreciate time away, because in most of our daily lives, we don't get a lot time for reflection. We're focused on our BlackBerry or our computer or dealing with everyday problems. And this kind of trip, getting immersed in nature, without a phone, without a computer provides, I think, a necessary respite for reflection.

GUPTA: David, you say, I think, somewhere in there that attention is the Holy Grail here. What is the message? What do you think our audience should take away from this experimental nature trip you guys took?

STRAYER: Well, what we know is that attention does turn out to be extremely important in what we -- how -- in our everyday lives. What we notice, what we don't notice, if we're distracted by something, if we become forgetful. Attention seems to be the key of it.

And one of the things we're really interested in is if -- if interacting with lots of technology tends to create all kinds of problems in terms of overloading some of these attentional (ph) networks.

Perhaps the opposite is setting it aside for a little bit of time. And if, in fact, those setting aside all this technology or this multitasking frenzy that we have these days, put that aside for a little bit. If that ends up restoring some of -- some of these neuro- circuits that are involved in attention, I think that could be an important message.

GUPTA: And Professor Kramer, I know that you actually called a few times from this trip. You had a few grants you were working on, so you cheated maybe a little bit as was outlined. But do you agree overall, do we all need to go to the woods, so to speak, more often?

KRAMER: Actually, I didn't cheat at all. I called before and after. I did have a BlackBerry with me, as I think many of us did.

But I agree that this is the first time I was without technology since I took a climb up Mount McKinley or Denali in 1993. And I look forward to doing it again.

I also, like Dave, read the literature, and a lot of my work is focused on physical activity and its effects on the brain. And certainly, some parts of the effects of nature, the positive effects of nature, could be due to the fact that we get out, we tend to hike in nature.

So it may be exposure to nature. It may be physical activity. It's most likely a combination of both, which is restorative.

GUPTA: I have just -- being honest here, I think I would have terrible withdrawal, though, if I did something like this. I've tried to do it even being with my kids for a few days, not checking the cell phone or BlackBerry.

But David, did you have withdrawal at all?

STRAYER: Did I have? Actually, I've gotten to the point now where, when I finally do turn off that device, it's a bit of a -- it's kind of a breather. I'm not going to be -- have to worry about, you know, dealing with some request to review a manuscript or whatever. So I'm on my own time, on my own schedule when I can disconnect.

GUPTA: All right. Fascinating stuff. Thanks a lot, guys; Professor David Strayer and Professor Art Kramer. Thanks for joining us.

STRAYER: Thank you.

KRAMER: Thanks.

GUPTA: And up next, the apparent suicide of the suspected Craigslist killer. We'll look at the case that was starting to build against the former medical student and how it might have driven him over the edge.

Also, flooding in Pakistan -- desperate pleas for help, with nearly 1,500 people dead and nearly 1 million homes damaged. We'll have a live "360 Dispatch" to the disaster zone.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: "Crime and Punishment" tonight: a medical examiner has conducted an autopsy of the alleged Craigslist killer. Philip Markoff died, apparently, by his own hand in his Boston jail cell yesterday morning. Prosecutors say the official cause of death is being withheld, pending some further testing.

Randi Kaye reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When emergency teams arrived at Philip Markoff's jail cell Sunday morning, he was lying on the floor, bleeding with wounds to both his neck and ankles. A spokesman for Boston's Emergency Medical Services tells me medical personnel from the jail tried CPR, but it was already too late.

Police say evidence collected so far points to suicide. No word if Markoff left a note.

(on camera): If Philip Markoff did take his life, the volume of evidence against him may have pushed him over the edge. Last year Markoff was charged with kidnapping and robbing one woman and murdering another.

Investigators say his victims advertised erotic services online at Craigslist and that Markoff had met them both at two Boston luxury hotels. Inside his apartment, they reportedly found women's underwear hidden inside a medical book titled "Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body." Souvenirs, it seems, from his alleged victims.

(voice-over): The murder victim, Julissa Brisman, a masseuse, had been shot three times at close range at this Boston Marriott.

Four days before that, at this Westin hotel, another alleged victim was robbed at gunpoint. This hotel security camera caught a man resembling Markoff walking through the hotel. The victim from the Westin told a Boston TV station he wanted money. Before he left, she says, he duct-taped her mouth and erased all calls from her cell phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just complied with everything he wanted me to do, and I didn't resist him in any way.

KAYE: Investigators also had these e-mails they say were exchanged between Markoff and the murder victim. In the e-mails, police say Markoff calls himself Andy, a fake name he used to set his trap. And the same name on a driver's license he was carrying.

He was arrested on his way to a casino with his fiancee.

(on camera): Police zeroed in on Markoff, using the very e-mail address they say he used to make appointments with his victims. After they got his name and address from his Internet service provider, they staked out his apartment building, looking for a guy that matched the description of the suspect on the hotel surveillance tape.

A search of his apartment also turned up a gun, plastic restraints and duct tape.

Markoff's attorney would not tell me the last time he saw or spoke with his client. Although he did play down a report, a jail guard had noticed shoelace marks around Markoff's neck soon after he was taken into custody 16 months ago.

His defense attorney did say Markoff's parents are devastated and crushed. He said, quote, "Philip was a very intelligent and beautiful person in his parents' minds."

Before all this, Markoff had a clean-cut, boy-next-door image. He was a medical student at Boston University. He'd met his fiancee, Megan McAlister, in an E.R. where they both worked and later, during a horse and carriage ride, he proposed to her.

When he was arrested, Markoff's fiancee vowed police had the wrong man, that he couldn't hurt a fly. And yet, not long after that statement, Megan McAlister cancelled the wedding.

Though we don't know if Markoff left a note, according to "The Boston Globe," he did leave a message: scrawled in blood on his jail cell wall, the word "Megan".

We'll never know if the date was significant. But it appears Philip Markoff chose to end his life on what would have been his first wedding anniversary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And Randi joins us now. I couldn't help but think about the murder victim's family. I mean, they were probably hoping that a trial would help answer some questions.

KAYE: Absolutely. Sanjay, Julissa Brisman's family didn't want to speak on camera, but they released a statement through their attorney. They told CNN they are, quote, "shocked and dismayed" by the news of Philip Markoff's suicide. The long-awaited criminal prosecution was their only opportunity to confront him, and now, they say, he has taken that away, as well. The family actually is exploring other avenues for justice in Julissa's murder. They've asked the U.S. attorney in New Hampshire to investigate the gun shop where Philip Markoff allegedly bought his gun, since he didn't use his own driver's license to do so but a driver's license that belonged to someone else in the name of Andrew or Andy.

With the criminal prosecution over, her family, of course, still hopes to do something to prevent other families from going through anything like this.

GUPTA: All right. Randi Kaye thanks so much for that report.

And coming up, a "360 Dispatch": severe flooding in Pakistan; one-fifth of the country still under water. New fears that all that water could be carrying another deadly wave. We'll have a live report.

And later, some welcome relief from such grim headlines. Check this out. A pair of zebras made a run for it in suburban California. We'll show you what happened. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: In tonight's "360 Dispatch", growing fears in Pakistan that the severe flooding, which has ravaged the country, may lead to outbreaks of diseases like typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis, especially among children.

The statistics for two weeks of flooding are simply astounding; nearly 1,500 people are dead, more than 2,000 injured and millions are affected by this, an estimated one-fifth of the country now underwater. Upwards of 900,000 homes have been damaged, countless roads simply washed away. Crops destroyed. Today there were pleas for more international aid.

CNN's Reza Sayah joins us from Islamabad with more. Reza, I've been watching the images. What is the situation there on the ground now?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation is awful here, Sanjay. Usually, with natural disasters when you're two weeks into it, you start to get a grasp of what you're dealing with, and things start to improve, but not in this case.

These floods hit more than two weeks ago, and there's all sorts of indications that things are not improving. They're actually deteriorating. And I think that's why you had U.N. chief Ban-Ki Moon visiting Pakistan, to draw the world's attention to what is a desperate situation here. As you mentioned a fifth of this country under water, 20 million people affected; that makes it one of the worst natural disasters anywhere in recent memory.

And international aid is simply not getting here, and the figures are getting bleak. The U.N. now saying 3.5 million children are at risk from deadly water-borne diseases like cholera. This is a disease that's caused by bacteria in contaminated food and water. And the only way you can address these dangerous situations is to get these children clean water and medical attention.

And the U.N. says there's nowhere near where they need to be. They've called for $166 million for that clean water and medical care, Sanjay. They only received a fraction, $25 million. There's a lot of people fighting to survive. If they don't get that help, they're going to start losing that fight, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Clean water is so important. You know, we saw the effects of clean water in Haiti in terms of curbing those infectious diseases, exactly as you're talking about.

Reza, I was in Pakistan after the earthquake, in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. In both those places at that time, they did a pretty good job of getting some of the aid there. Why aren't people getting the aid they need this time? Why is it simply not getting to them?

SAYAH: Well, I do think it's a couple of things. One is these flood zones are enormous. They're vast. I think even the wealthiest, best governments are going to have trouble getting aid to all these people, let alone a government that doesn't have a lot of money, and it's unstable.

Then the international community is just not stepping up like it usually does. The money's not coming in. You're not having Hollywood stars like Sean Penn campaigning for help for Pakistan.

It's difficult to say why. But there's a lot of speculation, that maybe it's this perception that Pakistan is just not a good place, that notorious title, the most dangerous place in the world, the perception that it's rife with terrorists and extremists. And if they give aid it's not going to go to the people who need it.

I can tell you from first-hand experience, I've been here nearly three years, and the overwhelming majority of people who live in Pakistan are good, humble people who are in deep trouble. And there's lots of reputable international aid organizations that are ready to help them. All they need is the resources and the money that's just not here right now, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Getting the resources into the country and then getting them distributed can be an enormous task, as you said, Reza. Since you're there on the ground, what is it that's necessary now as you survey the landscape there?

SAYAH: Well, I think first off, the pledges that you hear from the biggest donors, the U.S., the U.K., and the U.N., they need to go up. They need to increase drastically. Then the process through which those pledges are converted into relief goods, that needs to pick up in pace significantly.

And then once you get those relief goods on the ground, getting it to these people that are oftentimes in remote areas. You can't walk there often times, you can't drive there. You need boats, the helicopters. The access is a tremendous problem. So you're going to need more helicopters, more boats.

The bottom line is, Pakistan is not going to be able to address all these needs themselves. They need the international community to step up, Sanjay, and that's simply not happening at this point.

GUPTA: And there's such a sense of urgency, as well. You watch these reports on television, thinking that the relief can wait. It simply can't. It's happening right now.

Reza Sayah thanks so much for that report. It's an amazing reporting you've been doing over there.

And there's a lot more news, as well, that we're covering tonight, so we turn once again to Joe Johns with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOHNS: A "360 Follow": BP says it will spend $52 million on mental health programs across the Gulf Coast. BP made the announcement after being criticized for not responding to the mental health needs of people affected by the oil disaster. Federal and state agencies in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will receive that funding.

New figures show China's economy is on track to overtake Japan's as the world's second largest after the United States. China's economy grew at more than 10 percent in the second quarter, driven by exports, while Japan's economy grew at less than one half a percent.

Steven Slater has about 25 reality show offers on the table with one week after he slid from a JetBlue airplane after cursing a passenger on the loud speaker and deploying the emergency slide. That's according to one of Hollywood's top public relations agencies, which is now representing Slater.

GUPTA: That's the world we live in.

JOHNS: You got that right.

I think this qualifies as a walk on the wild side: two zebras making mischief over the weekend through the streets of Sacramento, California. Didn't know they had safari there. They escaped from their owner's home where they were kept as pets.

GUPTA: Wow.

JOHNS: That's what it says. Police finally chased them down and took them into custody. One zebra suffered injuries and had to go to a vet. Those pictures are simply amazing.

GUPTA: It's getting a little wild there.

You know the old saying, Joe, if you hear hoof beats behind you, I think, you think horses, not zebras. JOHNS: And horses -- I mean, zebras are so silly, you know. It's just the stripes. They make you laugh when you look at them.

GUPTA: They are a silly animal in so many ways. I hope those silly zebras are OK tonight.

All right, Joe. Stay with me here.

Here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking today at Johns Hopkins University.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, Joey: "Take it down a notch, Sanchez."

JOHNS: Oh, no.

GUPTA: Referring to our CNN anchor, Rick Sanchez. Ouch, Joey.

We've got a viewer winner, as well, Jenny J. of Los Angeles. Her caption: "Entertaining -- entertaining the religiously diverse crowd at her daughter's wedding, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in a rendition of 'When a Man Loves a Woman'."

Jenny J., you put a lot of thought into that one. Congrats, though. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

And that does it for this edition of 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.