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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Political Games; Politics of Banning Earmarks; Jawbone Found on Beach in Aruba; How Dogs See the World; America's Students under Pressure
Aired November 18, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Earmarks, pork-barrel spending, those pet projects that politicians slip into bills to please voters back home. Lawmakers in both parties are now making a big deal out of banning them. But is this political gamesmanship to avoid the tough decisions needed to fix the nation's finances? The hard numbers, the political realities of a big deficit -- we're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Tests are being run on a jawbone found on the beach in Aruba, the island where Natalee Holloway was last seen in 2005. So is it Natalee? We'll put that question to a forensic scientist. We also have jail video of Natalee's mother face-to-face with the prime suspect in the case, Joran Van Der Sloot. That's tonight's "Crime & Punishment."
And in our "Amazing Animal" series man's best friend, smarter than you think; our report might make you question, who is the master in your relationship with your four-legged friend? Dog behavior expert Cesar Millan joins us.
We begin though as we always do, "Keeping Them Honest." Tonight: promises, grand-standing and a political stunt. We'll start with the promises and the grand-standing. You might have heard the noise out of Washington over the past few months from the GOP calling for a ban on earmarks. You know, those pet projects that your senator or representative can add on to bills.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Today I want to talk to you about banning earmarks.
RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I am philosophically opposed to earmarks.
JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: One of the first things we'll do in the House and the Senate is ban earmarks.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: I will join the Republican leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Moratorium on any earmark request.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Earmarks are the gateway to corruption.
PAUL: Earmarks absolutely are a problem and we must end earmarks.
PENCE: Earmarks have become emblematic of everything wrong with spending.
RUBIO: The next senator from Florida will be a yes vote to banning all earmark-spending in the United States Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Ok. Banning earmarks. Now, that sounds perfectly reasonable. The GOP gained seats in this month's midterm elections on the promise of fiscal responsibility. So they come out of the gate swinging, promising to ban these earmarks.
And it's not just the GOP. Democrats are in on it too. Heck, even the top Democrat, President Obama himself, is all for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I agree with those Republicans and Democratic members of Congress who have recently said that in these challenging days we can't afford what are called earmarks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Ok. So the president is behind it and so are several Republicans. In fact, today House Republicans agreed to continue their ban on earmarks in the upcoming session of Congress. And earlier this week, Senate Republicans did the same thing.
So you might be thinking they're on to something here. This will make a difference.
But "Keeping Them Honest," for all the talk of taking a stand against earmarks, nearly $16 billion in the 2010 budget is related to earmarks. That is less than one percent, one percent of the total budget.
In the big scheme of things, eliminating earmarks will barely make a dent. And for all the talk about savings, that money doesn't actually get cut out of the budget if the earmarks go away. You see, getting rid of the earmarks changes how the money gets spent, but without more action from Congress it won't really change how much gets spent. But some members do concede that but they also note that it's a powerful symbol of what some lawmakers call wasteful spending. Well, fair enough. But there's something else, the ban. And ban is a strong word, isn't it? The ban is nonbinding for now. At least until the GOP makes it part of the House rules.
Anyways, if it's just a tiny fraction of the overall budget, why do it at all? Why? Because it looks good.
Remember, when I mentioned political stunts at the top of the show? This is where the stunt part comes in. You see, by taking a stand against earmarks, you don't actually have to stand against any one type of spending, any one program, any one constituency. Like if you say you're for cutting Social Security, seniors might not be too inclined to vote for you next time around.
It's easy to stand against earmarks that are just a tiny fraction of the budget. It's a lot harder for Republicans to name any big- ticket items that might need to be cut to really shrink the budget. Watch this.
ROBERTS: Your first priority Congresswoman is going to be --
REP. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA SENATOR-ELECT: Yes.
ROBERTS: -- you've said, is going to be deficit reduction, trying to keep the debt under control. What's the first thing that you would cut?
NOEM: Well, I think what we need to do is put everything on the table and have discussions about it.
ROBERTS: I understand that you need to look at everything, but is there one particular thing that drives you crazy that you think if you had the opportunity you'd cut it tomorrow?
NOEM: Well, I think that we've got a lot of those situations out there and what we need to do as a freshman class and as a leadership team is to sit down and identify those that we're going to go after first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONT: Can you be specific, what in the government, what programs, what agencies are you going to cut to get back to those levels?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: Well, it's not rocket science. Let's start with all of the TARP funds. Let's get the TARP money back and use it to pay down our debt. Now, let's bring all the unspent stimulus money back.
BASH: I mean, you're talking about unspent money but there is money that has been spent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Name a painful choice the Republicans are prepared to say we have to make.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, first of all we need to make sure that as we look at all that we are spending in Washington, D.C., with not only the entitlement spending but also the bigger government, we cannot afford anymore, we have to empower the free enterprise system.
So this is where --
GREGORY: But Congressmen, these are not specifics. And voters get -- get tired of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not make a single proposal to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?
BOEHNER: Chris, this is what happens here in Washington. And when you start down that path, you just invite all kinds of problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Republican Paul Ryan has suggested sharp cuts in Medicare and Social Security. Are you willing to make cuts there?
MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I think we know that just within a day or so the President of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He's taking 2,000 people with him. He'll be renting out over 870 rooms in India, and these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending, it's a very small example.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: A lot of politicians just can't name their cut. And by the way, what Congresswoman Bachmann said there about the president's trip to Asia costing $200 million a day? Well, that was a lie. It didn't cost anywhere near that.
Now, there's another twist to all of this. Not all Republicans are for this earmark ban. Here's what Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe said this week on the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: They said earmarks are a gate way drug that needs to be eliminated in order to demonstrate that we are serious about fiscal restraint. There's just one problem with that. It's not true.
Instead of putting money back in to the pockets of the American people by reducing spending or shrinking the deficit, these efforts to eliminate earmarks would have put the money into the hand -- the hand of President Obama, by allowing his administration to spend the money as he saw fit.
At the end of the day, none would have saved money; President Obama is the winner, the American people are the losers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Ouch. The American people are the losers.
Joining me now, political analysts David Gergen and Roland Martin along with Tea Party organizer, Dana Loesch, she's also editor of BigJournalism.com and a radio host at KT -- KFTK, 97.1 FM.
Folks thanks so much for being with us.
David, let's start off with you, is it really such a big deal, this idea of cutting the earmarks, particularly when you look at how small a percentage of the total budget they really represent and the fact that this money's probably not going to get saved, that it'll just get spent elsewhere.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, John this is a small amount of money, $15 billion is less than one percent of the budget but it's a big deal, because the -- the money has been used essentially as a piggy bank by a lot of members. They go off and do their favorite project back in their home district or their home states and then they seek voter credit for doing that. And you know and -- and they get into the habit of loose spending; undisciplined spending.
I think it's very wise in time, particularly in these -- when -- when we're so tight on the budget, to cut this stuff out. Yes, there are going to be some good things lost in the process but we've got to get back to essentials. And listen, if they don't need the $15 billion, cut it out of the budget. We've got to start somewhere.
ROBERTS: Dana, how much of this do you think is about members who truly believe that earmarks are a bad idea and how much is about members who simply want to get on a bandwagon?
DANA LOESCH, EDITOR, BIGJOURNALISM.COM: I think that any -- this whole -- this whole debate has really fascinated me simply because I think that those who are arguing in favor of earmarks I think it's sort of a smoke and mirrors situation. Because what they're essentially arguing for, John is -- is the opaque process that has been going on in Washington, D.C., for so unbelievably long. Earmarks as they're being argued for right now, they're talking about tacking on spending requests, un-vetted spending requests on to appropriations bill that bypass the -- the traditional typical two- committee approval process that earmarks are supposed to go through.
And so I think that these people who are -- who -- these Congressmen who are advocating for this, they're -- they're trying to shore up their political capital. This is how they trade powers, through this process.
ROBERTS: Roland Martin, Mitch McConnell in -- in supporting the ban on earmarks said, look, I don't really believe in this, because, three weeks ago he was against it, but gave to Tea Party pressure. But he said I'm worried about just giving more budgetary discretion to the White House and putting it in the hands of the president. Is -- is he right to be concerned about that?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANALYST: No, that's utter nonsense. I mean, look and first of all, I disagree when we categorize this as, well, it's just less than one percent, because if you ask anybody when it comes to their own personal budget, when you need to make cuts, every little bit helps.
But it is clear that senator -- Senator McConnell and Republicans want to, to the American people, to try to make it all about Obama, he's going to somehow spend the money when you have Republicans and Democrats who want to spend, spend, spend. But in your opening, John, you're absolutely right. Where are they going to cut? Are they willing to touch defense?
You see right now Senator John McCain in a constant battle with fellow Republican, Senator Tom Coburn, when it comes to defense spending, when it comes to Rand Paul. That's going to be the real test of the political will. Will they touch Medicare, Social Security, and defense? That's where most of our budget comes from.
ROBERTS: Did --
LOESCH: Well -- can I -- can I add something to Roland's point too?
ROBERTS: Go ahead Dana.
LOESCH: The argument that -- that came from Mitch McConnell who -- until very recently was against earmarks, the idea that somehow they are ceding power to the president, that they are letting go of the purse strings is a lie. Because when you write appropriations bills, unless they write it specifically to say that it is up to discretion of President Obama to decide how this money is spent, he doesn't get to decide. That is Congress's responsibility.
LOESCH: They're playing upon the ignorance of the American people and that's not going to fly anymore.
ROBERTS: David, there's a -- there's another point that some people make, and -- and that perhaps in supporting the ban on earmarks it will obscure that really tough choices that lawmakers will have to make if they want to really take a whack at the -- at the deficit and the overall debt. They can say, hey, look, we took action on earmarks. How much more do you want us to do?
GERGEN: I -- I think it'll go the other way, John. And I think this will help create momentum for more spending cuts. And one of the reasons if you couldn't do a deal with earmarks how in the world are you going to deal with -- as Roland says and I think he's right -- the really tough issues like Medicare and Medicare -- Medicaid and defense.
Listen, this money is basically incumbent protection money. It's -- it's -- it's you know, it's to help them back home. And sometimes it goes for good causes but it's often to increase the popularity of -- of the incumbent. We all know that. And they've got to start somewhere. And I -- you know, I think the argument is a phony one about it's going to give all this stuff to Obama. If they get this one percent, ok, let's go for the three percent --
GERGEN: -- let's go for the next five percent and --
MARTIN: John --
GERGEN: -- they've got to go -- I think Roland's right they've to go after Medicare, Social Security, and defense and put those on the table and let's thresh it out in a serious national debate.
MARTIN: Here -- real quick John --
MARTIN: -- here's the next battle and you're going to see it. When it comes to Medicare, Social Security and defense, you're going to hear members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans say, oh, this will cause us to lose jobs. Losing jobs is always Congress's way of preventing any kinds of cuts from being made. Watch that language. You will hear it from both sides.
LOESCH: Well --
ROBERTS: And there's one other point I'd -- I'd like to get Dana to ring in on here and that is Michele Bachmann is hedging her bets a little bit, she's saying well, maybe what we need to do is we need to redefine what an earmark is. For example, transportation projects, perhaps they shouldn't be considered to be earmarks. Which I guess if you looked at it in the purest sense would mean that because it was a transportation project, that bridge to nowhere was an earmark. Does she have a fair point?
LOESCH: Yes and no. I -- I think that there's a million things that we need to do. First of all, let's -- let's have things go through the authorization and appropriation committees as they're supposed to do in order to be vetted. Let's bring a competitive grant process in, and let's vet these earmarks before we just tack them on.
The point that I think that she is making is that the way that the earmark process stands right now is that we have a lot of pork going towards things like bike paths, yay, bicycles are fantastic but we have bridges across the country that are falling into disrepair. And so a lot of the super important stuff that needs attention is getting overlooked.
And a quick thing about defense, if we want to spend defense money wisely, we can start by reflecting upon the appropriations bill from 2009 that was loaded with earmarks that our president did approve.
ROBERTS: All right we want to take a pause here because we've got a lot more to talk about tonight, so Roland Martin, Dana Loesch and David Gergen, please stay with us.
And we want to know what you think as well. Join the live chat going underway right now at AC360.com.
Coming up next, more from our panel, we're going to get their take on Congressman Charlie Rangel's possible punishment for breaking House ethics rules. Does the punishment fit? And see how it compares to other members of Congress who've gotten in trouble in the past.
Plus our special series, "Amazing Animals, Smarter than you Think," inside the science of how dogs think.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to look at cute pet tricks. What we want to know is what does the dog understand about its world?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: On to "Raw Politics" tonight: a House ethics panel is recommending censure, what amounts to a public scolding, for New York Democratic Congressman, Charlie Rangel. That's after the committee found Rangel guilty on 11 counts, including failing to pay taxes for 17 years on a rental home in the Dominican Republic, misuse of a rent- controlled apartment in the Bronx for political purposes and improper use of government letterhead and government mail.
The 20-year Congressman pleaded for mercy today before learning his potential punishment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: There's no excuse for my behavior, and there was no intent for me ever to go beyond what has been given to me as a salary. I never attempted to enrich myself, and that I walk away no matter what your decision, I'm grateful that I had this opportunity to serve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: 20-term Congressman we should say. 40 years in Congress. You might recall on Monday Rangel walked out of his ethics trial when the committee rejected his request to delay the case so he could hire a new defense team. His original team member left him in September. This whole case has been full of drama.
Tonight a lot of people are questioning whether the suggested punishment fits. We want to show you how it stacks up against other politicians who are found guilty of House violations.
Only 22 House members have ever been censured, the last two were in July of 1983. Republican Congressman, Daniel Crane of Illinois who broke down crying, he was found guilty of sexual misconduct with a female House page years earlier. Congressman Gerry Studds of Massachusetts was found guilty of sexual misconduct with a male page years earlier.
Another type of punishment is a reprimand only eight House members have faced that, most recently Georgia Republican, Newt Gingrich in 1997 when he was Speaker of the House. He was slapped with an unprecedented $300,000 fine for allowing a member affiliate tax exempt organization to be used for political purposes. He also gave false information to the committee investigating the charges.
Now, the harshest punishment is expulsion, just five House members have been forced out of office. The most recent you may recall is Ohio Democrat James Traficant. He was kicked out of the House in 2002 after he was found guilty in a federal corruption trial of conspiracy to commit bribery and of racketeering among other things. Traficant had quite a message for the ethics committee back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: And I want to say to this committee, I love America but I hate the government. I love the elected members. I've met many of you and love you all and I mean that. That's not patronizing to get your vote. I don't expect your vote.
But we have an aristocracy in the judiciary that is afraid of the FBI and the IRS. They're scared to death of them. And they trampled all over my rights and I'll be damned if they're going to do it to me.
So I will take an upward departure and I will die in jail, because I did not commit these crimes.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Of course he didn't die in jail. He's out.
Now for more perspective, you might be wondering what happened to Congressman Joe Wilson. He made headlines for this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The reforms -- the reforms I am proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!
OBAMA: It's not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That was Wilson in September 2009 when President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on health care reform. The South Carolina Republican dodged serious punishment. House members issued a resolution expressing disapproval of Wilson's actions.
So did Rangel get the right punishment?
Back now to our political panel: David Gergen, Roland Martin and Dana Loesch.
So David, start us off here, was 9-1 in favor of censure in the committee, first time as we said since 1983. Is it the right punishment?
GERGEN: I thought it was, John, because censure is usually for people who've done unethical things. Expulsion, the highest punishment is -- is actually for people who have been found to do unlawful things. And there's been no finding so far that Congressman Rangel has done unlawful things.
And a censure is a pretty powerful tool. It -- we've reviewed the House history, you remember one of the most famous incidences in the Senate was the censure of Senator Joe McCarthy, and it broke him. It broke his power. And -- and I dare say in this case that Charlie Rangel has basically seen his best days.
ROBERTS: Dana, you -- you disagree with David, you just think that he should be expelled from the House. You're in favor of expulsion.
ROBERTS: What did he do to rise to that level?
LOESCH: I think that the level of hypocrisy with Charlie Rangel is one of legendary proportions. And I -- I don't think that it -- I -- I don't think that comparing it to Joe Wilson, the censure and that -- and that situation, it's -- it's -- it's unbelievably different. I mean, this is a guy who is -- who was on the committee that helped write our tax code that that didn't go by the law himself but yet he would write it for other people.
This is a guy who, I mean, if they -- if they decide to investigate further and they think that there is -- it warrants criminal penalties or -- or what have you, then I just think that censure seems to be a super light way to go, considering all of the charges that were against him.
ROBERTS: Roland --
MARTIN: You know John -- I -- I think first of all that analysis is absolutely nonsense. Ok? It is nonsense. He -- he -- first of all, the lead attorney on this committee stated there was a corruption. The lead attorney on this committee said he did not believe there was personal benefit. I do believe that first of all he should have followed the rules.
MARTIN: I do believe there should be some penalty. But to sit here and suggest remove him from Congress when you just read a list of individuals who committed sexual acts with a House page and received censure and then you saw what Newt Gingrich did as Speaker of the House, utilizing a committee for political purposes and he doesn't get --
LOESCH: What, Charlie Rangel?
MARTIN: No, no, no, excuse me.
LOESCH: No, no, no.
MARTIN: Excuse me, excuse me. I didn't interrupt you.
MARTIN: You did not have censure in that case.
And so when you judge it based upon the history of the House, I believe it is ridiculous to say expulsion. I do not believe it has risen to the level of censure. I think the same level of rebuke that Gingrich got Rangel should get as well.
ROBERTS: Charlie Rangel stood before the committee and he basically begged for mercy. He said I'm 80 years old, I don't know how much longer I'm going to live. And -- and then he said this, let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANGEL: And I recognized that you cannot deal with issues that's not before this committee. Or what the press has done to me and my community and my family is just totally unfair. Counsel knows it. All of you know it. And it's not your responsibility to correct them. But they will continue to call me a crook and charge me being corrupt. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: David, blaming the press, it's a tried and true tradition. But is it -- is it applicable in this case?
GERGEN: Well, I -- the -- the press actually did uncover some of this. Now, let's be -- let's be clear about this. We didn't know about this housing business and 17 years of unpaid taxes, had the press not gotten into it. That's the role of the press, is to play the watchdog. I don't think he was done in by the press.
Charlie -- he can make that argument and it's fine, but I don't think that's the real issue. The real issue is he had these violations and there's no -- there's no evidence to controvert it.
GERGEN: I mean, and it is -- it's a clear-cut case. It's a series of violations. I think they did the right thing.
ROBERTS: And we'll see where it all goes from here.
David Gergen, Roland Martin, Dana Loesch, thanks very much for being with us. I really appreciate it.
MARTIN: Thanks a lot.
LOESCH: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Still ahead, could there finally be a break in the case of Natalee Holloway? The Alabama teenager disappeared in Aruba five years ago. Forensic tests now being conducted could provide some much-needed answers. We'll explain just ahead.
Plus, why Tiger Woods says he is infinitely happier now than before the sex scandal that destroyed his marriage and tarnished his image one year ago.
ROBERTS: We're watching plenty of other stories tonight.
Susan Hendricks is here with the "360 News and Business Bulletin." Hi Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi John.
After a week-long search the bodies of an Ohio mom, her 10-year- old son and a family friend have been found in a wooded area about 20 miles from the Herrmann home. The boy's 13-year-old sister was found alive on Sunday in the house of 30-year-old Matthew Hoffman. He has been charged with kidnapping. Police say Hoffman told them where the three bodies were hidden.
Colton Harris-Moore who earned the nickname "Barefoot Bandit" -- remember that guy -- he has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Washington State. Harris-Moore allegedly stole planes, boats and cars often while shoeless in a two-year crime spree stretching from British Columbia to the Bahamas.
General Motors went public today raising more than $20 billion. President Obama said the successful offering proves bailing out the automaker was a good idea. He also claimed U.S. taxpayers could eventually recoup more than the $50 billion GM received.
Tiger Woods says he is infinitely happier than he was a year ago just before his personal and professional life imploded in scandal, telling ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike his numerous infidelities went against his, quote, "core values." Tiger also said he will tell his kids the truth when they're old enough to understand -- John.
ROBERTS: And I'm sure that he'll be happier as his golf game gets better and we'll see how he does next year.
HENDRICKS: Good point.
ROBERTS: Susan thanks so much.
Coming up next on 360, there had been few leads since Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba more than five years ago, but could there soon be a big break in the case? We'll have the latest for you.
And our series, "Amazing Animals, Smarter than You Think," tonight, dogs see the world. How they see the world, and why their long and close link to humans shapes how they think.
Stay with us.
ROBERTS: "Crime and Punishment" tonight, we are awaiting the results of forensic testing to see if a jawbone that was found on a beach in Aruba could belong to Natalee Holloway. Initial testing found the bone to be from a young woman but it was sent to a lab in Holland for further testing. The FBI sent Holloway's dental records to Dutch authorities yesterday.
Natalee Holloway was 18 when she disappeared in Aruba in 2005. The Alabama teenager was celebrating high school graduation with her classmates. Holloway left a nightclub with Joran Van Der Sloot and two other men and was never seen again. Van Der Sloot was questioned but never charged, although he remains the prime suspect right now he's in jail in Peru, accused of murdering a young woman there.
Two months ago, Holloway's mother met with Van Der Sloot and pleaded with him to tell her what he knows. Videotape of that conversation was recently released to Nancy Grace on our sister network, HLN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BETH HOLLOWAY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: You can sit here for the rest of your life. And I can sit here for the rest of my life. It's -- you can make some choices here, Joran, and you can make the right decisions. You have your whole life ahead of you.
And I want to know what happened, and I want to move on, Joran. I want to move on. You know, I want to, you know, move on in my life. And I cannot close the book.
And I feel as if we've lost your father, we've lost another young girl; Joran, you don't need to lose your life here in prison and be sitting here when you're 60 years of age. And insisting to me that you don't know what happened.
If it was an accident, tell me. You know, I don't know. I don't know. But I am -- I'm here.
JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, MURDER SUSPECT: I hope you can understand also it's very hard for me to talk to you. This is really not easy. I'm really doing my best to -- I know you have a very good heart. I know that for a fact.
And I don't know if you would mind just giving me some -- I really have been thinking a lot and just giving me some time to think and I promise you even if you give me your address, I will write you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Wow. Almost difficult to watch. Let's get some perspective on the discovery of the jawbone and what it could mean if it belongs to Natalee Holloway.
Lawrence Kobilinsky is a forensic scientist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice here in New York; and Jean Casarez is in Aruba. Jean's a correspondent for "In Session" on TruTV.
Jean, you've traveled long and hard to get there to Aruba. What are you learning tonight about the discovery of this fragmented jawbone?
JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": Well, first of all, everybody here on the island knows what's happening. Everyone is really waiting like the rest of us are to see exactly what will be happening.
There's a couple of things that give this some credibility. First of all, the fact that Aruban authorities, forensic authorities do believe that it is a partial jawbone of a young woman, a Caucasian woman. And secondly Aruban officials got it to the Netherlands very quickly and they personally transported it from Aruba there for further forensic testing. So that lends to some credibility.
ROBERTS: Lawrence Kobilinsky, if indeed this is Natalee Holloway, this could be a huge break in the case.
LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST, JOHN JAY COLLEGE: Oh, absolutely. I think this is the first piece of real evidence we have, and what it means is that we now have something that says she's deceased, number one; and number two, we have a crime scene. There may be other valuable information that we could get from the area where that partial jawbone was found.
But the bone itself and the molar attached to it could reveal the information we're looking for, namely whether or not it is Natalee. We will look at that bone and determine why it fragmented. It's kind of unusual to have a fragment of a jaw. There may be tool marks on it that might lead to some information about how she died.
Certainly dental records will be examined and, of course, DNA is the ultimate way to determine if that is her.
ROBERTS: If that bone has been in the water for some time as has been speculated, it was found on a beach, would the DNA still be measurable?
KOBILINSKY: Well, the DNA in the molar would probably be very well protected in the pulp cavity in the center of the tooth. So, although that kind of environment -- environmental impacts will certainly occur, but the chances are fairly good that the DNA will be intact, certainly sufficiently in good enough shape so that they can get a full genetic profile.
They'll do a paternity-type test. They have the DNA from the biological parents and they'll be able to say with absolute certainty as to whether or not it's her or not.
ROBERTS: Jean, we saw some of that videotape of Natalee Holloway's mother talking with Joran Van Der Sloot and it's so unusual to watch.
We want to play a little bit more of that tape. Let's listen to this, and then we'll get your thoughts on the back side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN DER SLOOT: I really do promise you I will write to you. I owe you at least that. I mean I've made so many bad decisions and all for the wrong reasons. I hope you know that I'm really -- a very addicted person, especially to gambling. That's why I've told so many lies so I'd have money so I can go gamble with. That's honestly the truth behind the reasons why I did all those things, even how horrible they were.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Jean, he's talking there about his addiction to gambling and how he needed money. Some people might read that as an admission of guilt either for the murder of Natalee Holloway or at the very least extortion to try to get money to feed his habit. Is any of this admissible in court?
CASAREZ: It sure is. And that's exactly what I was thinking. It'd be a statement. Again, interestingly he definitely appears to admit to the extortion although I think he already did that in some of the tapes that they made. But I think a lot of this could be admitted in the trial as showing his state of mind against his own interest.
ROBERTS: It's just -- Lawrence, it's so unusual to watch the mother of Natalee Holloway talking with Joran Van Der Sloot like that.
KOBILINSKY: It's fascinating.
ROBERTS: This bone, again, was found on a beach. Any suspicions on how it got there? We had information a while ago of a couple of divers who said that when they were down under the water they saw what looked like a human skeleton and skull. Of course, the authorities went down there and looked, all they found was coral and rocks. But how would a jawbone -- single piece of a jawbone get on a beach?
KOBILINSKY: It's a very good question. It's possible that something floated ashore. Bones don't float. Perhaps part of a body. It's also interesting that there was no skull, just a partial jawbone. So we really don't know.
Perhaps it was buried there. Perhaps there's other information there at that site. I think at this point once they know it's her they're going to go through that site with a fine-tooth comb and dig everything up and see if they can find the rest of the skeleton.
ROBERTS: Raising a lot more intrigue in this ongoing case. Lawrence Kobilinsky, great to talk to you. Jean Casarez, thanks very much. We'll be seeing you in the next few days there from Aruba.
Still ahead, our series on animal intelligence: for many of us our dogs are family, an intimate part of our lives. But what's really going on inside their furry little heads. What new research tells us about the way dogs think -- coming up next.
ROBERTS: Our series "Amazing Animals, Smarter than You Think" continues tonight with man's best friend. It's not a secret that we love dogs here at 360; these are some of the dogs of some of our staff members.
But there's also fascinating new research about how dogs think. Dogs and humans have been living together for some 15,000 years and researchers say this long partnership has actually shaped the way dogs see the world.
Randi Kaye shows us how tonight.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you've ever wondered what's really going on behind those puppy dog eyes, this may be the guy to tell you.
BRIAN HARE, CANINE COGNITION CENTER, DUKE UNIVERSITY: Good boy. Good boy.
KAYE: Professor Brian Hare, the director of Duke University's Canine Cognition Center, is one of only a few people in the country who study how dogs think. Professor Hare and his team put the pups through a series of games, similar to those you might play with young children.
HARE: We don't want to look at cute pet tricks. What we want to know is what does the dog understand about its world.
KAYE (on camera): For years, researchers didn't even study dogs. They thought they were too domesticated. Brian says that's exactly why dogs do need to be studied.
For 15 years, he's been analyzing how dogs think. What surprised him most, he says, is that dogs have figured out how to read human behavior better than any other species, even chimpanzees.
HARE: The way they think about their world is that people are super important and they can solve almost any problem if they rely on people.
KAYE: How do dogs think compared to children?
HARE: Probably around 12 months, young children start using -- relying on their adults' gestures and start making gestures themselves and that's about the point where it looks like dogs have that sort of a similar level of flexibility.
KAYE (voice-over): Watch this. I just met Tazzie, Professor Hare's dog, a few minutes before this test. When we both point to a cup that may hold a treat, will she trust me, a stranger, or her owner?
(on camera): I'm crushed.
HARE: That's my boy.
KAYE: How could he -- how could he trust you over me?
(voice-over): Over and over, Tazzie chooses her owner's gestures.
HARE: He's grown up with me, we do lots of stuff together. He's never met you before, so he says if they're both telling me where to go I'm going to trust the guy that I'm with all the time.
KAYE: Dogs are complex, social animals who understand they have different relationships with different people.
HARE: They really narrow in and pay attention to you and they want to know what is it about the world that you can help them with.
KAYE: Because let's face it, dogs can't solve every problem. When a treat is hidden inside an opaque tube, this Gordon setter can't see it but figures out right away she can reach the treat by going around to the side. But watch what happens when the tube is switched. And the dog can see the treat. She forgets how easy it was to get just moments before. You might call it a doggy meltdown.
HARE: Ok, you got it.
KAYE: We tried the same test on Napoleon, a Yorkshire terrier.
(on camera): Let's see how you do. Here's your treat. Put it in a clear cylinder. Ok.
KAYE: You are impressive, my little friend.
HARE: A lot of times the best solution requires a bit of a detour, and so what this says is that Polly (ph) is able to sort of take a detour. A mental detour and realize wait a second, even though that looks like the short cut, easy answer, it's the wrong thing to do.
KAYE (voice-over): Researchers here are studying dogs to better understand their limitations by identifying why they make mistakes. They believe they can make them better at working with people with disabilities or working with the military.
Professor Hare says domestication has made dogs smarter. So smart in fact they're even able to understand the principle of connectivity.
HARE: They know that they're connected on a leash, well, now I have to listen because if I don't do what you say you can stop me. Whereas, if I'm not on a leash, yes, I know the command, but I don't have to listen to you now.
KAYE (on camera): How do you know that? From studying them?
KAYE: Not through these tests.
HARE: It's from owning a dog.
KAYE (voice-over): Just like children, he says, dogs also understand they can misbehave when you turn your back even after you've told them not to do something.
HARE: And you're really upset because your dog disobeyed you and you think the dog is not obedient. No, no, no. Your dog was obedient but it realized that he could get away with it.
KAYE: Like it or not researchers have figured out dogs use their skills to manipulate the world and those of us in it. So next time you catch yourself thinking you are the master, look your dog straight in the eye, chances are he is thinking the same thing.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Durham, North Carolina. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ROBERTS: Up next, tonight's "Perry's Principles," the new documentary entitled "Race to Nowhere" explores the theory that America's school children are under so much pressure to succeed that many of them ultimately fail.
ROBERTS: There's a debate going on about the quality of America's educational system and if it's relying too much on test scores to measure student achievement. But a new documentary asks another question: is the pressure to succeed too much for many students? So much that they're stressed out and ultimately unprepared for the future.
CNN education contributor Steve Perry talks to the film's director in tonight's "Perry's Principles."
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): For Vicki Abeles, the decision to make her first film was personal. Her seventh grade daughter was so concerned about school that she began having panic attacks.
VICKI ABELES, DIRECTOR, "RACE TO NOWHERE": I wanted to understand what was going on. I started talking to parents in my community, to students, to experts, and visiting schools across the country.
PERRY: In her work on "Race to Nowhere," she says she discovered many children who are overwhelmed with homework, tests, activities, and the pressures to succeed.
ALEX: If I don't get into college, you know, my mindset is basically like, you know, I'm screwed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then graduate school.
ELIZABETH: How are you going to get into top tier medical school or law school?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then what? People get caught up in this like race to nowhere.
ABELES: We're seeing kids who are anxious, who are depressed, who are cheating to just get through high school. They're trying to game the system because they feel that there's so much emphasis. Whether it's on the test scores, or on the college application, we're then in the long-term seeing kids arriving in college burnt out, unprepared to do the kinds of thinking that are required of the college level.
PERRY (on camera): But for me, what's interesting about the film, is hearing some of the suggested ways in which schools could be improved; some having to do with less or no homework on certain days.
ABELES: We're not saying no homework, we're saying let's look at what the research says around homework and let's do quality homework at the right time in the right amount developmentally.
PERRY: What I took from the film was that the schools putting too much pressure on the children, that's why they're buckling. And in one case you gave the example of a child who committed suicide.
ABELES: We're not looking at placing blame anywhere. I think that there are a lot of different factors coming together to create the situation that we have.
What we're advocating for is a balanced approach to education and we need to move away, Steve, from a one size fits all approach. I think we need to look at the individual students.
For me the solution is bringing communities together, to have a dialogue and start putting what works for kids first and foremost.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And while your movie was great and I really enjoyed it, it doesn't mean I'm not going to be pushing my kids to try and maintain the lifestyle that I'm trying to provide for them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Education is not supposed to be a competition to get into the right college. It's supposed to better yourselves; to make yourself culturally literate.
PERRY: When people watch this film, what is it that you want them to walk away with?
ABELES: I want them to feel empowered to add their voice to the dialogue. I want parents to go home and have a conversation with their kids.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's interesting, I mean as we see in the film, some students really struggle with the expectations of success. How do parents help them with that?
PERRY: One of the most important things that parents can do is back off. Many of the parents are so needy themselves and they're working so hard to prove to themselves that they can overcompensate for the things that they were challenged with that they put it on the kids. And the kids internalize some of these challenges and as a result they really tap out.
We've seen some very dangerous situations occur because kids are taking on too much adult pressures too soon.
COOPER: It's a hard thing though for parents to kind of step back sometimes.
PERRY: It is but there's a way in which they can step back without completely disengaging. They can say, listen, I'm not going to -- you don't all have to go to the Ivy League but you can be the best you that you can be. So many times I see students who want to be creative and they want to participate in something that is creative but the parents, no, that's not part of what you're doing. It's math, it's science -- that's what I mean.
Parents can pump the brakes just a little bit and give the kids a little more room to be kids.
COOPER: Steve thanks.
ROBERTS: Steve Perry, together with Anderson Cooper.
And that does it for this edition of 360. Thanks so much for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts right now.