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Perry Goes Birther; Battle of the Tax Plans; Housing Plan Politics

Aired October 25, 2011 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin, thanks very much.

Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest."

Presidential candidate Rick Perry who's all of a sudden playing coy about where President Obama was born, flirting with birtherism. That's right, birtherism. Playing games with something we thought was finally, mercifully put to rest months ago.

It began over the weekend in "Parade" magazine. Here's the part of the interview that got people talking. When asked, "Governor, do you believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States?" Governor Perry says, quote, "I have no reason to think otherwise."

When the interviewer points out that's not a definitive yes. The governor says, "Well, I don't have a definitive answer because he's never seen my birth certificate." The interviewer points out that this is an odd answer, and says, "But you, you've seen his." To which Governor Perry answers, quote, "I don't know. Have I?" The interviewer, "You don't believe what's been released?" Perry, "I don't know. I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night."

Governor Perry went on to say that Trump doesn't think the birth certificate is real and when asked by "Parade" what he said to that notion, the governor said, and I quote, "I don't have any idea. It doesn't matter. He's the president of the United States. He's elected. It's a distractive issue."

So, "Keeping Him Honest," if it's such a distractive issue to use -- Governor Perry's own words -- then why bring it up? Here's how he answered.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I said, it's a good to keep alive. Just, you know, Donald's got to have some fun so -- and the issue is --

JOHN HARDWOOD, MSNBC: It sounds like you really do have some doubt about it.

PERRY: Well, look, I haven't seen his -- I haven't seen his -- I haven't seen his grades. My grades ended up on the front page of the newspapers. So let's -- you know, if we're going to show stuff, let's show stuff. So -- but look that's all a distraction. I mean, I get it. I'm really not worried about the president's birth certificate. It's fun to poke at him a little bit and say, hey, how about, let's see your grades and your birth certificate.

HARWOOD: Well so --


COOPER: So he says he's doing it to have a little fun but it doesn't really matter, but hey, why not also stir a little more insinuation into the mix such as mentioning the president's grades. The suggestion in a nutshell is that they weren't really good enough for him to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School where his classmates elected him president of the "Harvard Law Review."

Now we don't know that kind of grades President Obama got at Occidental College and later at Columbia. We do know, however, that he graduated from Harvard with high honors in the top 10 percent of his class.

Late today Perry was asked again this time by CNN's Jim Acosta what he really believes and again Governor Perry did not provide a definitive answer.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm just curious, what will it take to convince you that the president was born in this country?

PERRY: You know --

ACOSTA: And do you have any plans for --


PERRY: I'll cut you off right there. That is one of the biggest distractions that there is going. We need to be talking about jobs. Somebody wants to see my birth certificate, I'd be happy to show it to them. But the fact is that is a distraction.


COOPER: Well, "Keeping Him Honest," it's a distraction -- it's a distraction that the governor himself revived for no apparent reason with no basis in fact. None. The evidence shows Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, period. Campaign initially put out this short form, computerized certificate of live -- certification of live birth, exact same document anyone in Hawaii gets and can be used to get a driver's license, a passport and so on.

Birthers didn't buy it. Donald Trump didn't believe it, he claimed he was sending detectives or had sent detectives to Hawaii to investigate. No one ever found any evidence he actually did. We did, however, send Gary Tuchman to look into the Trump claims and find the facts. He spoke with people at Hawaii's Health Department including a former director who'd inspected the original long form birth certificate.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you has anyone else looked at the certificate? Has anyone else --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The registrar has actually seen it as well.

TUCHMAN: The registrar is someone --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alvin Onaka. He is the chief registrar for the state. And he has -- he is the one that took me to see the documents.

TUCHMAN: And you are a registered Republican?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the present time, yes.

TUCHMAN: And work for a Republican governor.


TUCHMAN: And you still say that the birth certificate of this Democratic president is authentic?

TUCHMAN: Absolutely.


COOPER: So Gary found nothing unusual, no sign of conspiracy, no sign either of Trump's so-called investigators. In fact, no evidence of anything, absolutely anything out of the ordinary about President Obama's birth records.

And finally earlier this year in an effort to end the saga once and for all, the White House made a special request and obtained a copy of the original long form birth certificate. And for a while that seemed to work. But eventually Trump again raising doubts again. And inexplicably flirting to some in the Republican establishment GOP hopefuls began flocking to New York courting Donald Trump and in Rick Perry's case flirting with Trump's birtherism.


KARL ROVE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You associate yourself with a nutty dude like that and you damage yourself. And I know he went and he's trying to cultivate us all of Donald Trump in order to get his endorsement, but this is not the way to go about doing it because it starts to marginalize you in the minds of some of the people who you need in order to get the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, the polling appears to bear him out. Donald Trump is not, repeat not, a kingmaker, just the opposite in fact. According to a recent FOX News survey, just 6 percent said a Trump endorsement would make them more likely to support a candidate, 31 percent said less likely and 62 percent said it would make no difference.

And a sharp warning tonight from Jeb Bush telling "The Washington Post's" Jennifer Rubin, quote, "Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States. It is a complete distraction from the failed economic policies of the president."

Joining us now former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, he's now at Twitter -- on Twitter @arifleischer. Also Democratic strategist and pollster for the Obama campaign in 2008 Cornell Belcher.

So, Ari, what does it say about Governor Perry and his campaign that he's kind of tipping his hat to a repeatedly disproven conspiracy theory?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY FOR PRES. BUSH: It tells me that if he really wants to do well and run for presidency, he needs to up his game and focus more on the issue that counts, which is the economy. Today is an important day for Governor Perry. He announced the new flat tax, but he's taking attention away from his own idea, again, to this foolish issue about where Barack Obama was born.

Anderson, it's a waste of time. He's an American, he's our president. Let's get on with the issues.

COOPER: In a way, Cornell, I mean, does this help President Obama particularly with independents if such a high profile Republican contender is attempting to play to the fringe of his party on this made-up issue?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well look, no, it doesn't help President Obama very much at all because frankly -- because frankly, we'd rather be talking about his tax -- his tax plan today than talking about the birther issue because I think that's an area where I think we can go after him on.

I think the birther issue, look, there's a certain percentage of their base who want to delegitimize the president. However, I'm going to agree with Ari at this point. That's not going to get him back in this race. And just as a political professional, not as a Democrat or Republican, it's as painful to see him shoot himself in the foot time and time again when he came into this race with such fanfare and people thought that he was going to actually challenge Mitt Romney. And right now he's -- you know he's in single -- he's in single digits. And you see -- and you see why he's in single digits. He's got to run a much better campaign if he wants to be taken seriously. He's going to challenge Mitt Romney, oh, and I'm sorry, and Herman Cain for this nomination.


FLEISCHER: Anderson, there's a --


FLEISCHER: There's a deeper issue here, too, and that's for too long in American politics -- and I saw it from the other end -- people try to delegitimize their foes. It's one thing if you oppose somebody on policy, it's another thing to say that they're a liar or that they're illegitimate, that they did not win the election or that he's not an American citizen.

This is destructive to the body politic. We should be able to clash on ideology, clash on issues but don't question the other person's motive or their legitimacy. I didn't like it when people did it to George Bush and I don't like it when people do it to Barack Obama. I want to beat him on ideology and issues, not things like this.

COOPER: Let's stop talking about the whole birther thing because it just -- I -- even repeating all that -- the whole kind of history of it is just -- we're so beyond it, it feels like. But it's interesting that it's suddenly back now with Rick Perry.

But I do want to turn to Rick Perry's tax plan that he announced today. Tom Foreman has been looking into that so guys, just hold on.

Tom, the flat tax is not a new concept. Former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who has endorsed Rick Perry, has been talking about it for years. What do we need to know about it? What should people know?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think what you most need to know, Anderson, when you look at the plan today is what you don't know because that's what all the tax policy people here in Washington have been asking all day long.

What do they know about this? The fundamental claim of the governor is that it will lower taxes for everyone. Listen.


PERRY: Families in the middle and on the lower end of the economic scale will have the opportunity to get ahead. You know, taxes will be cut across all income groups in America.


FOREMAN: Well, that's a big, big claim, Anderson. Let's look at some of the facts here. Certainly under his plan it looks like there would be lower taxes for wealthier people. There's be lower corporate tax rates for companies, no tax on dividends or capital gains, no inheritance tax. Those are things that generally tend to favor people who have a lot of money. They're the ones who benefit from those sorts of things. But what about everybody else? Well, that's a different matter. He's talking about a $12,500 exemption before you pay taxes. That's higher than what we currently have. So you can argue that's better for people at the lower end of the spectrum. If you have two parents and one child, for example, they easily go over $36,000 before they start paying an income tax of any sort.

But then he's talking about a 20 percent flat rate over that. So the problem here -- when I say the part we don't know, Anderson, is for all of the 95 percent we know here, the 5 percent could have tremendous details and that could make a big difference.

What kind of breaks do people lose at the lower end of the scale? Things like the earned income tax credit. Do they still get credit for that in the long run? There are many, many, many details left in this, Anderson. So the bottom line is, when we judge this one, we have to say this is really a case of it being at best true but incomplete.

Big emphasis on the incomplete, Anderson.

COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. Appreciate that.

Back now with the panel, Cornell Belcher and Ari Fleischer.

Ari, is this -- is this plan a strong move by Governor Perry here?

FLEISCHER: It is a strong move by Governor Perry and here's why. What you're seeing on the Republican side from Governor Perry, from Herman Cain and to a lesser degree from Mitt Romney is a desire to fundamentally change how Washington is doing its business, to throw out the existing tax code which doesn't work, full of loopholes and is anti-growth, and replace it with something that encourages economic growth to lift everybody up.

It breaks from the stale debate we've had in the '80s and '90s over should you get this distribution or that distribution. It focuses instead on how does the country grow with a tax code that encourages entrepreneurialship and job creation. That's a fresh good debate to be in. That's what I like about the Republican proposals.

And as for the ideas of what about the specifics, et cetera, we all know that those really get ironed out whoever the new president is with a Republican Congress. That's where you really pay attention to those details. This is a directional move and the direction is a fundamentally new tax code.

COOPER: And Cornell, how do Democrats respond to that? Because whether it's Cain's plan or Perry's plan, both do have that appeal of being, you know, on the face it, relatively simple and offering this sweeping change.

BELCHER: Well, frankly, this is what -- I think this is what we'd rather be talking about because it is -- it is fundamentally wrong on the economics but it also is wrong when you look at the values of it. At a time when middle class America is shrinking, and a time where this country was built on the ideals of shared responsibility, shared sacrifice, what the Republicans are saying is let's move our responsibility and accountability from the wealthiest Americans and place that squarely on the backs of the middle class.

And whether you're looking at -- you see an in-polling or other public polling at a time where 60 or 70 percent of Americans are saying, you know, let's raise taxes on the middle class, Republicans are saying, no, let's not raise taxes on the middle class. Let's lower their taxes. I think that's a place where Democrats want the battle to be.

COOPER: Ari, do -- how do you respond to that?

FLEISCHER: Well, the purpose of the tax code should be to raise the revenue so the government can pay its bills. Where we've gotten off track is the tax code has become so riddled with redistributionist programs and sacred cows that everybody is scratching everybody else's back, and the country has gotten its back broken with debt.

We need a new tax code that actually gets rid of so much of this muddle and focuses instead on helping people to make money and get a job and have economic growth. And we are so far off that track.

You know I remember when Bill Clinton ran in 1992. He ran on a middle class tax cut. Never defined it. He ran on end welfare as we know it. Never said how. And established him as a different kind of Democrat without defining those policies.

What you're hearing in this year's debate is that Republicans are really the party of fundamental change and President Obama is the one who really is defending the status quo that brought us the current economy and the current tax mess that we have. That's a great debate to be in.

COOPER: It's interesting, I mean, you're basically -- Cornell, he's basically using, it seems flip, of what the last election was saying that this is a change election but the change now favors the Republican.

BELCHER: And I love it. And I think it's going to be a really hard sell for Republicans to explain to Americans how, in fact, doubling down on the policies that got us down in this mess, you know, cutting away regulations on big corporations, you know, gutting environmental, you know, how these policies -- you know, cutting taxes even further for the wealthy and at the same time the middle class wants taxed be for rich people.

How these policies of the Bush era in fact represent change. I got to tell you, it's a debate we relish having because that doesn't represent change at all. It is exactly doubling down on the mess that got us in this problem in the first place.

COOPER: I want to show you there's a new -- there's a new CBS/"New York Times" poll showing Herman Cain in the lead by four points over Mitt Romney. Rick Perry has dropped to fifth place. Obviously national polls, you know, don't necessarily tell us a lot about a race that could hinge on early states.

But it's interesting especially -- I want to play for our viewers who haven't seen it, this rather interesting Herman Cain Web video that a lot of people are talking about. The man you see on it is his chief of staff. Take a look.


MARK BLOCK, HERMAN CAIN CHIEF OF STAFF: I really believe that Herman Cain will put united back in the United States of America. And if I didn't believe that I wouldn't be here. We've run a campaign like nobody's ever seen. But then America's never seen a candidate like Herman Cain.


COOPER: What do you make of that, Cornell?

BELCHER: Best ad ever. Best ad ever.

COOPER: Was that a mistake or --

BELCHER: Look, I got to feel that Ari and I are going to be in complete agreement on this one. You know that ad is -- that ad tells me this. It says that Herman Cain campaign doesn't have any real infrastructure. Because there's no way that campaign got green lighted as it went up the process.

You know there's no way a real campaign green lights that ad. Look, nothing plays better to the hearts and minds of America than some weird guy smoking cigarettes directly on the camera. It is unbelievably bad.

And instead -- and you have a hard time taking Herman Cain seriously at this point. But at some point he's got to turn the corner and hire some real professional people because he's leading in the polls.

COOPER: Ari, what do you make of the ad? And I mean -- you know he said -- he told me the other week, he was hiring staffers. Have we seen them yet?

FLEISCHER: Well, I asked the Herman Cain infrastructure about that today. And what they told me is that their goal is to redefine politics. Those are their words. And that's what -- this ad certainly is not conventional. And this is what someone with a total outsider perspective would do.

And you know, I'm open to --


COOPER: Do you think the smoking shot was an accident, that they --

FLEISCHER: I'm open to outside ideas. I want to hear what other people think. It doesn't have to be the way it's always been in Washington. But this is also not an ad. As you pointed out, Anderson, this is on the Web. They haven't spent a penny on real advertising and they've got everybody talking about this.

And it reinforces he's different, he's the outsider. He's got to take that and build on it. But I'll give him credit for this. It's a weird ad, but I'll give him credit.


COOPER: I mean I spent a lot of time in editing rooms, and I'm just wondering if that was just a mistake leaving the shot of the smoking in if no one actually double-checked it.

FLEISCHER: I don't think so.

BELCHER: I mean what -- what is he smiling at? He's smiling, he's thinking, this country is chockfull of suckers because a couple of months ago I was selling pizzas, now I'm the head of -- now I'm running, you know, for the nomination for the Republican Party.

I want to ask Ari a serious question. Does Washington establishment go see that ad, Ari, and think this is the guy we need to invest in and give money to him?

FLEISCHER: I think --


BELCHER: That's a real problem.

FLEISCHER: The Republican establishment has very little idea what to do with Herman Cain. I think he's got everybody scratching their heads saying how real is he. And frankly he has to prove if he's real or not. He's yet to do that but he has a chance.


FLEISCHER: But what this ad does reinforce is that he will stand up to political correctness. And that does resonate in Republican circles. There is a sense of we need somebody who is just blunt, tells it straight, is not politically correct. That's one of the reasons Cain has done as well as he has done up to date.

COOPER: This ad is a big hit among those who stand outside buildings smoking like office workers.


COOPER: That's what it reminded me of, like -- you know, when you walk to an office building and it smell of cigarettes because everyone is outside smoking?

All right, Cornell, we got to leave it there. Ari Fleischer as well.

BELCHER: I'm going to have a smoke.

COOPER: All right. Thanks very much.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook -- we don't encourage that sort of thing on this program. Or follow me on Twitter, @andersoncooper, I'll be tweeting tonight.

Up next President Obama's latest plan to help out homeowners. What's in it? Will it help your bottom line? What about the big promises made in the last batch of homeowner relief? They're failing -- falling short. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also tonight, where there is hope, there is life. We're going to show you a little girl's rescue after days in the rubble of Turkey's killer earthquake. It is a remarkable story. We'll tell you how it happened.

And later, another tragic death. Was it linked to a book that advocates harshly punishing children in the name of God. Gary Tuchman confronts the parents.


TUCHMAN: Can I just ask you, did you love this child? Can you just answer that question, if you loved this child?



COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, a new plan that claims to help millions of homeowners hurt in the housing meltdown. The Obama administration announcing a federal rule changes allowing people whose houses are worth less than their mortgages to refinance at lower rates as long as they've got a solid record making payments already.

Now the estimated average savings the administration claims will be about $2500 a year. However, it turns out the plan only affects a small percentage of homeowners in need of help and totally leaves out 3.5 million who are behind on their mortgage payments.

What's more, "Keeping Them Honest," it's merely the latest in a long line of programs, 10 so far, that have not lived up to their promises. Not even close. Here's President Obama two and half years ago.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And through this plan, we will help between seven and nine million families restructure or refinance their mortgages so they can afford -- avoid foreclosure.


COOPER: That was the promise back then. Since then, however, the administration's fallen far, far short of that goal. We did some checking with the Treasury Department on the two biggest programs. Instead of between seven and nine million, the actual figure of families who qualified for assistance is about 1.6 million.

There are many reasons homeowners complain about banks giving them the runaround, government agencies doing the same. Critics say the entire mortgage relief program was set up to favor banks which were in financial trouble back over homeowners.

Whatever the reason, millions have not gotten the help they say they need. And according to "The Washington Post," out of the $50 billion the Obama administration promised to spend to help homeowners, only a fraction, $2.4 billion has actually been spent.

Chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin has more now on what's in this -- what's in this new plan for homeowners and the politics of it. Also joining us is chief business correspondent Ali Velshi.

So, Jessica, what is in this new plan?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The new plan, Anderson, targets, as you say, homeowners who are considered current on their payments but their home values have plummeted so much that they're under water. It lets them refinance so they can take advantage of historically low interest rates with no credit check, no add-on fees, no hassle of an appraisal. And they're also considered current if they've missed one payment in the last year.

So the administration says it could help one to 1.6 million homeowners. We'll see.

One thing I'd note, Anderson, the homeowners most affected are in states where the bottom has fallen out of the housing market, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, which also happen to be key states the president is targeting to win in 2012.

COOPER: Well -- I mean, if some are saying this new plan won't actually help the housing market all that much, why is the White House doing it? Are you saying politics is behind it?

YELLIN: Well, look, there is -- there is a large part of this that is politics because these are the states the president does have to win in 2012. There's also the larger message that is the vision thing, as George HW Bush, the other president, used to say. Right now the president is focused on convincing the voters that he has a positive plan for the future to get out of our economic mess.

And as you pointed out, to date -- first of all, housing is a key component of that. And to date, his housing proposals have been a bit anemic. So he does need to roll out some housing proposals that can work. He can do this without Congress. But to be fair to the administration as well, Fannie and Freddie don't report to the administration, that's who oversees this, nor do the banks.

So it's taken them a while to get the banks and Fannie and Freddie to agree to these rules and it's taken the economy getting worse and worse and worse for all the parties to come together to agree to this as well.

COOPER: Ali, I mean, is that why it took so long? Fannie and Freddie not agreeing to the rules?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And the banks. Jessica points it out perfectly that the banks don't report to the administration, nor does Fannie and Freddie. If they -- if they'd been smart about this, the banks themselves, more than 2 1/2 years ago before we heard that clip from President Obama, would have said, let's do everything we can to keep these people in their homes because the alternative is that they're out of their homes and we're stuck with all this inventory of houses with prices continuing to go down we can't get rid of.

That's the situation that banks are in. So the administration when President Obama said seven to nine million families, and even back then we weren't certain that was -- that was really true, the banks just didn't take up the offer. They didn't say, let's refinance. They were fearful that if they did and homeowners didn't pay back, they'd have to buy those loans back from Fannie and Freddie.

That's the difference with this plan. They don't have to do that. But still the numbers are these. Eleven million people are underwater which means they have a mortgage bigger than the value of their house. Three and a half million are four months or longer or in foreclosure. So this -- the estimates about the number of people this will help is somewhere between about 900,000 and maybe 1.6 million.

It's not going to solve the problem but at this point all we can do is tinker around the edges.

COOPER: And for those people -- I mean are there guarantees that this is going to work?

VELSHI: If you keep paying.

COOPER: Right.

VELSHI: If you keep paying. So this is for people who, generally speaking, still have their jobs, who have made payments over the last 12 months. If they do that, boy, it's a deal. If you're in a position to take advantage of this, the 1.6 million homeowners who will, maybe a million, who take advantage of this, this is an excellent deal.

It takes that much inventory off the market or prevents inventory from being on the market which helps all of us who either had homes or are looking to sell homes. Doesn't help if you're a homebuyer. But this could help but again only around the edges. Ultimately this is up to the banks.

COOPER: And Jessica, is this it? I mean is there going to be more mortgage relief plans from the White House?

YELLIN: Well, according to my sources, they're working on a plan that will take a huge -- I mean, massive -- number op foreclosed houses off the market which would clearly have much broader implications for the overall housing market but that's still in the works. It's coming down the line if it happens.

COOPER: Jessica and Ali Velshi, thanks so much.

Still ahead, Moammar Gadhafi is buried, finally, but where? The latest in the gravesite from Libya's new leaders.

And a dramatic rescue. It's an amazing story. Giving hopes as survivors of Turkey's devastating earthquake. A 2-week-old baby pulled alive from the rubble. That story just ahead.

Also a 360 follow-up, ungodly discipline. Fundamentalist parents punishing their children so severely it actually kills them. Gary Tuchman has a look at yet another tragic death and the book that prosecutors say may have inspired it.


TUCHMAN: Can you tell us what happened to your daughter? What do you think God thinks about this case, sir?



COOPER: In Turkey tonight rescuers are working around the clock in the search for survivors of Sunday's devastating earthquake. More than 450 people were killed, another 1300 injured in a 7.2 quake that demolished the eastern part of the country. Nearly 2300 buildings that stood on Sunday morning are now rubble. Among them a health services building, part of a hospital, even now there are aftershocks that are rattling the region.

It's one of the poorest regions in Turkey. Some survivors are too scared to return to their homes. A lot of them are sleeping on the streets tonight despite near freezing temperatures.

Today a bright spot in all the misery, a dramatic rescue that's given new hope to all those praying for the survival of their own loved ones. CNN's Diana Magnay has the story.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Applause erupts as one of the youngest victims of the earthquake in Turkey is finally delivered to safety. Baby Ezra is just 14 days old and she spent two of her 14 days trapped in the ruins of her family's apartment building.

Born premature, rescue workers hold an oxygen mask over her tiny face to ease her breathing. This is the man who pulled her from the brink of death.

KADIR DIREK, SEARCH AND RESCUE WORKER (through translator): It's an extraordinary feeling. I've been doing this job for 12 years and it's the first I've ever taken a living person out.

MAGNAY: Beyond extraordinary strength for a child so young. Ezra survived because of the heroism of her mother who was trapped alive with her daughter and Ezra's grandmother. Her mother was clutching Ezra to her chest when rescuers cleared a path through the rubble to the little girl.

DIREK: The mother put her into my hands. When we told her that the baby had been taken by the ambulance, she was even happier and I was as happy as her.

MAGNAY: Ezra, whose name means purity in Arabic, has started her young life overcoming amazing odds. Her rescue gives hope to people in Turkey and around the world praying that their loved ones will also be saved.


COOPER: Diana Magnay joins us now live from Ercis, Turkey. Diana, Ezra was rescued earlier today. Do we know where she is now? How she's doing?

MAGNAY: Yes, she was flown to Ankara with her mother and apparently, they're both doing very well. We just spoke to the mother's brother, the uncle.

And he said, that the mother was able to call her own mother and say we're all fine. The baby's doing well. I'm doing well. So it all seems to be good, which is pretty amazing for a baby who was born three weeks premature and just survived an earthquake -- Anderson.

COOPER: Her mother actually handed her to rescue workers while she was still trapped, right?

MAGNAY: Exactly. Basically they managed to tunnel a route through to the mother and the grandmother. Apparently, the grandmother was lying on top of the mother because of the way that the rubble collapsed.

They had to send in a very thin rescue worker because this tunnel they managed to dig was so thin and the mother was able to literally hand over the child to this man. And the man said, you know, I have a son already, but the moment when the child was put into my hands, it felt like I had a second child.

He was so ecstatic about the whole experience. He was able to bring the child to safety, put it in an ambulance and then go back and inform the mother and the grandmother that the baby was safe and on its way to hospital.

And apparently, she was ecstatic when she heard that news even though it then took another couple of hours for the rescue workers to really expand the tunnel and get both of those two women out also.

COOPER: It's great they were able to get the mother and the grandmother both out as well. Diana Magnay, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Let's check on some other stories we're following tonight. Susan Hendricks has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was finally buried today. A spokesman for Libya's National Transition Council say that Gadhafi, his son and his defense minister were buried in a secret location, an attempt to keep loyalists from turning his grave into some sort of shrine.

In Syria, accusations that security forces are torturing wounded protesters at state-run hospitals. Amnesty International today said the tactic is a new and troubling trend in the months-long crackdown on anti-government protesters.

A recommendation today that boys as young as 11 be vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus, this from an advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control. HPV as its known is the number one sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. and is linked to cancer. The vaccine is already recommended for young girls.

One of Steve Jobs' final visions may soon be on its way. According to multiple reports, before his death this month, Jobs had finally cracked had built an Apple TV one that will sync wirelessly with other Apple devices.

And you got see this, a couple proving they can literally weather the storm. Their wedding turned to chaos last month when a monster sandstorm crashed the ceremony. It came in quick. Luckily the judge pronounced them husband and wife before he all ran for cover. So they are married -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yikes. That's very memorable.

All right, Susan, still had serious stuff "360" following new development in our ungodly discipline investigation. Another, mom and dad charged with killing their young adopted daughter. Did they do it in the name of God? Did a parenting book popular with many fundamentalist Christians play a role?


UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: What is your emergency?

CARRI WILLIAMS: Yes. I think my daughter just killed herself.

UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: Why do you say that?

WILLIAMS: She's really rebellious, and she's been outside refusing to come in and she's been throwing herself all around, and then she collapsed.


COOPER: I'll tell you what happened next. The latest in the Michael Jackson death trial. Also tonight is the singer's former nurse takes the stand for the defense.


COOPER: Tonight on "360" following up on a story we first called "Ungodly Discipline." Kids beaten, sometimes killed because the adults say they're following the word of God. I told about Lydia Schatz who was just 7 when she was beaten to death. Her parents were convicted and sent to prison.

The Schatz's believed God wanted them to spank Lydia so hard that it hurt. It's an approach to discipline that many fundamentalists embrace.

There's even a training manual that's claimed to have sold more than a million copies. What's unclear is how many kids whose parents follow the book's advice have actually been killed.

Tonight, the book is at the center of another homicide case this time in Washington State bears striking similarities to the Lydia Schatz case. Here's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Larry Williams is the husband. Carrie Williams, the wife. Together they were parents of eight, but now it's seven. The daughter they adopted from Ethiopia is dead. And if the allegations are true, some say they are the parents from hell.

(on camera): Mr. Williams, can I just ask you, did you love this child? Can you just answer that question if you loved this child?

(voice-over): The question is did Hannah die in the name of God? The Williams lived in a large piece of secluded land in Skagit County, Washington.

According to a sheriff's office affidavit, the mother told investigators she found 13-year-old Hannah face down outside the house with mud in her mouth and not breathing. But there's so very much she left out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The date of her death was not the first day she'd been struck.

TUCHMAN: Here is what the affidavit says. Hannah had a large lump on her head and several fresh red bloody markings on her hips, knees, elbows and face. And when doctors performed Hannah's autopsy, they declared the 13-year-old was abnormally thin.

On the forehead was a hematoma, swollen bruise. There were abrasions on the right and left upper pelvis area. There were patterned contusions on the legs. Prosecutors were investigating whether those beatings came because of biblical teachings.

The other children who implicate their parents in the affidavit told investigators Hannah was often left outside in the cold as discipline because she was rebellious.

Hannah was so weakened from the discipline hours of rain in the bone chilling cold was more than she could take according to authorities.

But listen to the initial 911 call from the mother to police. Look who she blames for her child's death.


UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: What is your emergency?

WILLIAMS: Yes. I think my daughter just killed herself.

UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: Why do you say that?

WILLIAMS: She's really rebellious and she's been outside refusing to come in. And she's been throwing herself all around. And then she collapsed.


RICH WEYRICH, SKAGIT COUNTY PROSECUTOR: If you didn't stand exactly where you were supposed to stand, that would be considered rebellious. And you could be punished for that.

TUCHMAN: In the affidavit, Hannah's 9-year-old brother told detectives that people like his dead sister got spankings for lying and go into the fires of hell.

Detectives say Larry Williams made his son stop talking to authorities after that. We met Larry Williams with his attorney in court during a motion hearing.

(on camera): Mr. Williams, can you tell us what happened to your daughter? What do you think God thinks about this case, sir?

(voice-over): Among the evidence found in the house, a variety of books and videotapes by well known fundamentalist Christian authors Michael and Debby Pearl including a book called "To Train Up A Child".


TUCHMAN: "To Train Up A Child" is a best-selling book, which advocates corporal punishment of children from infant on up. The authors of the book say the writings are guided by the teachings in the bible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It says that if you spare the rod you hate your child. But if you love him you chasten him timely.

TUCHMAN: I interviewed the Pearls this past summer because of a chillingly similar case. Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz are now in prison after pleading guilty to killing their daughter Lydia, also adopted from Africa.

Taken from their home as evidence "To Train Up A Child." Michael Ramsey is the DA who prosecuted the Schatzes.

(on camera): What do you think influenced the Schatzes to beat, terrorize and torment their children?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The book by Mr. Pearl. There's no doubt about that.

TUCHMAN: Let's say a 7-year-old slugs his sister.

MICHAEL PEARL, CO-AUTHOR, "TO TRAIN UP A CHILD": You explain to him that what he's done is violent and that that's not acceptable in society and it's not acceptable in our home. Then I would take him somewhere like into his bedroom and I would tell him I'm going to give him 15 licks.

TUCHMAN: With what?

PEARL: Probably a belt on that big a boy. I'd probably use a belt. It would be handy. I might use a wooden spoon or a piece of like plumbing supply line.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): A plumbing supply line. One of the pieces of evidence Larry Williams gave to sheriff's deputies in Washington State after authorities said he acknowledged he and his wife used it to strike their children.

(on camera): Mrs. Williams, do you like the book "To Train Up A Child"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no comment today.

TUCHMAN: Can you tell us what happened to your daughter? Do you still say she killed herself?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No comment today.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Larry and Carrie Williams are out on bond. They have pled not guilty. They've been ordered not to talk to their surviving children who are now in foster homes.

PEARL: I don't use the term hitting.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What's the word?

PEARL: Spanking.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Prosecutors say they have no plans to pursue charges against Michael and Debby Pearl. When I talked to the authors about the death of Lydia Schatz in California, they rejects parents losing control and acting out of anger.

(on camera): So you're not accepting any blame?

PEARL: Absolutely not.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And it's the same sentiment they have regarding the death of Hannah Williams in Washington. The Pearls released a statement on their Facebook page, which says we share in the sadness over the tragic death of Hannah Williams.

What her parents did is diametrically opposed to what is taught in the book "To Train Up A Child." And it continues in part, the alleged presence of the book makes it no more responsible for Hannah's death than the presence of a weight loss book in the home of an overweight person is responsible for their obesity.

Larry and Carrie Williams are charged with homicide by abuse and felony assault of one of their other children. The prosecution is just beginning to methodically go through the evidence, and that includes reading "To Train Up A Child" cover to cover.


COOPER: Gary, joins us now. How are the other Williams' kids doing? Do we know?

TUCHMAN: The other seven kids, Anderson, they're doing fine. They are all in foster homes. One of the children just became 18 years old. So it's not clear if he's going to leave the foster home and go on his own.

He can if he wants to. But they've been ordered, the parents not to talk to any these seven kids, for two reasons, one to protect the children from harm.

And two because it's very likely that some of all of these children will testify against their parents and they do not want the parents trying to influence their children's testimony.

COOPER: It's so insidious the idea of kids being abused in the name of God. We've done a number of these stories now in different parts of the country. How big a problem do you think this really is?

TUCHMAN: It is a big problem. We've talked to DAs from coast to coast. District attorneys and they're telling us that it's very common. That being said, polls show that most Americans do support spanking their children.

But most Americans don't bloody their children, don't pummel their children, don't seriously hurt their children. It does say in the bible not to spare the rod, but it doesn't say you should humiliate your children. It doesn't say you should bloody them. It doesn't say you should humiliate them and that's something to keep in mind.

COOPER: Where are Larry and Carrie Williams staying?

TUCHMAN: Well, this is very interesting. They can't be together because they don't want them to talk about their testimony. So Carrie Williams, the wife, is staying in her parents' house.

Larry Williams is staying in the house where his whole family was, where his daughter died. It's very interesting because many of the neighbors. None of them wanted to go on camera because they're scared.

But they were to be, put in a word, very creep out that he's staying in the house and mowing the lawn and they have children in that neighborhood and they know what he's alleged to have done. They're very scared of this man.

COOPER: Interesting, Gary, appreciate the update. Thanks.

Still ahead, Michael Jackson's doctor's defense. On the stand today, a nurse who claims the singer asked her for Propofol, the powerful the anesthetic that killed him.

Plus people with a strange obsession with the fast food sandwich end up on our "Ridiculist."


COOPER: Let's check in with Susan Hendricks for our "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: Anderson, the defense is presenting its case in the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray. Today, one of Jackson's nurses testified that he asked her for Propofol or to help him find a doctor who could give it to him. The defense's theory is that Michael Jackson administered the fatal dose of the anesthetic to himself.

In Connecticut, the sentencing phase has started for the second man, this man, convicted in horrific deadly home invasion in 2007. Joshua Komisarjevsky could face the death penalty. He was convicted on 17 charges including murder and kidnapping in a home invasion that left a mother and her two daughters dead. Dr. William Pettit was the only survivor.

Court officials in Florida have released the names of the Casey Anthony jurors. The judge imposed a three-month cooling off period out of concern for the jurors' well-being. That period is over.

A couple in Long Island is trying to trademark the slogan "Occupy Wall Street" to put it on t-shirts and bumper stickers to sell. And "Occupy Wall Street" spokesman says that kind of misses the whole point of the protests.

COOPER: To say the least. All right, more ahead tonight on the "Occupy Wall Street" protest when Michael Moore joins Piers Morgan. Here's Piers with a look at what's coming up.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN's "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Thanks, Anderson. He's been railing against the fat cats for years in movies and books, Michael Moore is fed up. He's steaming mad.

He's got company in those angry demonstrators on Wall Street and people across the country and the world who now agree with him. They're fed up too with America's economic crisis.

In a special "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT," we'll take questions from ordinary people steamrolled by unemployment, foreclosures, lack of health care and many other problems. Tonight, we're listening to America with Michael Moore at the top of the hour. It should get pretty lively -- Anderson.

COOPER: Piers, it sounds interesting. Look forward to that. Thanks very much. It's cool to have a live audience there.

Coming up, grab your gizzards. The McRib is back for a limited time only on "The Ridiculist." We'd be right back.


COOPER: Here's a treat for the eyes with pretty amazing stuff. Scientists call it a coral mass ejection. The rest of us, they're called the northern lights. The picture is just incredible, shades of red, orange and green lights that dance across the night's sky. Look at that.

Northern lights came to the Deep South last night making them visible hundreds of miles farther south than they normally would be. An extraordinary sight. These are obviously time lapsed images.

If you've ever seen them in person, it is an extraordinary sight. Those little lights that passing across are airplanes done in time lapse photography.

All right, time now for "The Ridiculist." Tonight, we're adding the raging McMania over McDonald's McRib. Shout it from the rooftops, America, the McRib is back. This thing comes back more often than chronic acid reflux.

Nonetheless, people are going totally bonkers over this. There's nary a rib to be found in the McRib. They just call it that because it sounds better than the McPork fat. A pork patty wrestled into the shape of ribs topped with a sauce made up of among other things high fructose corn syrup, beet powder and natural smoke flavor, whatever that means.

It has 500 calories and 26 grams of fat, but it also has Vitamin C in it, one milligram of Vitamin C to be exact. Remember that for the next time you feel like you're getting a cold. What's the allure of the McRib?

Why is there a McRib locator where you can track sightings? In case you want to drive 10 hours to get one. Yes, people do that. There was an article in "The Wall Street Journal" about it. Perhaps it's human nature.

Maybe people want what they can't have, what's elusive or rare in the way the McRib is like a full lunar eclipse or Haley's vomit. The McRib made its debut in the '80s. McDonalds has claimed that it doesn't sell all year long because people get tired of it as opposed to the ennui-proof fillet-o-fish I supposed.

It comes down to a brilliant, yet maybe manipulative marketing. McDonalds could probably stamp hamburger grizzle into the shape of a t-bone throw it on a bun called the McSteak and sell millions of the things if they were available for a limited time only.

Whatever the reason, some people really do go nuts for the McRib. Others just don't get the hype or just don't get the hype. There are two kinds of people in the world, the Jack Osbournes and the Kelly Osbournes.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you serious, Jack?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's so good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're getting excited over the McRib?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, Kelly, it's the little things that count.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jack goes, McRib is back!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're such a (inaudible), Jack, the McRib.


COOPER: I like those Osbournes. What I meant to say when it comes to the McRib, there are three types of people, there's the Jack and the Kellys and the Homer Simpsons.

COOPER: Wherever you stand on this crucial issue, it will all be over soon. Come in November, the McRib will disappear just as mysteriously as it arrived leaving us with nothing, but the gut clenching indigestion. This is a sandwich that is the cruel McMistress on "The Ridiculist."

That's it for us. We'll you see again at 10 p.m. Eastern tonight. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.