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Tensions Rise between Israel and Hamas; Israel Launches Airstrikes at Gaza in Response to Rocket Attacks; Negotiations Continue over Fiscal Cliff; Interview with Robert Reich; Astronaut with Parkinson's Discusses Disease; Hostess Announces Company Shutdown; Movie Critic Assesses "Lincoln"

Aired November 17, 2012 - 14:00   ET

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


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Gary Tuchman in today for Fredricka Whitfield.

The last war left 1,400 people dead. Now four years later Israel and Gaza could be on the brink of a second one while the world calls for restraint from both. But does this look like either side is holding back?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(EXPLOSION

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: That was an air strike that hit Gaza early this morning. Palestinian TV channel based in Gaza says 11 people so far today have died. Part of the Israeli offensive, taking out the home of a Hamas commander. Israel Defense Forces say there was a stockpile of explosives in the house. They also said they blew up Palestinian cabinet headquarters.

And Hamas, for a second time in two days, Hamas aimed a rocket toward one of Israel's big cities, the biggest, Tel Aviv, but the rocket was intercepted.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live now in Gaza city. It's 9:00 p.m. there. Sara, how are people surviving on this night? It must be at a standstill right now.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was very quiet up until seconds before you talked to me. We're hearing booms of air strikes. We have also seen just behind me, four rockets go up, one after the other, and about ten minutes before that, we saw very, very close to us, we could actually hear the sounds of the rockets leaving the rocket launcher right over our heads towards Israel. We know the sirens went off in Israel after we saw the rockets here.

And so here it goes again. You can hear the booms now of air strikes. This is starting to start up again. And it's not unusual that at night when it starts getting late here, this all starts to go full force. In the morning, about 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, and 7:00 is when we hear the most air blasts and activity, but it sounds like it's going to be another one of those crazy nights here in Gaza. The entire city pretty much shut down after the air strikes that hit the police headquarters and the Hamas headquarters things have gotten quiet. But we also heard Hamas was telling its workers, government workers, to go back to work tomorrow. I don't see that happening with all that's going on now. If it's the same as it was yesterday and the day before where things got very, very loud and very, very active over the night, I don't see that happening that people will be back in the streets and back working as normal.

TUCHMAN: Sara, as I said, it's 9:00 there, so it's relatively early in the night. A ground offensive we would assume would come when things get worse. How does tonight so far compare with last night?

SIDNER: It's about the same although we were hearing a lot more air strikes last night. What we have been hearing all day today, though, is the sound of drones overhead. Literally for the past 20 or so hours we heard the sound of the drone. It's really been consistent. Usually what it means is Israel is looking for where they're going to strike next trying to find the area they see weapons, for example. They've got equipment on those drones that are incredibly strong. They can see things very, very closely. And so usually those images are beamed back to someone in Israel, and that's when they decide where it is they need to hit next. That's generally the procedure. So when we hear the drones all day, we're only assuming they're looking for areas they can pinpoint target. And this evening and late into the night we may see the consequence of what the drones send back to Israel.

TUCHMAN: I just commented that 11 people have died so far today that we know of in Gaza. Do you know the latest tally of those killed in Israel during this outbreak, and any idea how many rockets have been fired by Hamas?

SIDNER: Hundreds of rockets have been fired from Hamas. It's kind of hard to keep up with to be honest with, because when one goes, sometimes there's a barrage of three, four. At least three people have been killed in Israel. There have been six to ten people injured. And we're seeing images also from there of people ducking down, hunkering down. The fear is on their face. People crying, we know that an apartment building got hit a couple days ago and that's where the li people died, one person severely injured. We also know soldiers on the Israeli side have been injured as well.

People are scared on both sides of the border. If you talk to people in Gaza, for example, the families worry when they hear the drones, if they happen to be in a neighborhood where perhaps a Hamas leader is or perhaps one of the other militants exists, you know, they could become a target, and they know that. And there have been many civilians who have been injured and killed in this offensive.

We also know in Israel, there's a terrible fear that the iron dome will miss some of those rockets, which it has. It's hit about half of the rockets that have come over. Certainly civilians are hoping that a cease fire will happen, that it's being worked on in the background. Gary?

TUCHMAN: Sara Sidner, it's nice having you with us. Thank you very much for your reporting.

I'm getting ready now to talk to a Palestinian politician, very well- known, and I'm going to ask her if she thinks anything can be done to avoid an all-out war with Israel.

Israel says it is mobilizing as many as 30,000 troops along the Israel-Gaza border. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is watching the buildup.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're in an area very close to Gaza. We're only about three kilometers away from the Gaza strip. And what you see right behind me is the forward position from the Israeli Defense Forces. This is basically a reconnaissance unit keeping an eye on the Gaza Strip.

As you can see, the guys have set up close to a line of trees. One of the reasons for that is they fear they could take fire from Gaza. Keep in mind that in the past couple of days several targets that have been outside the Gaza Strip have been hit by rockets and also have been hit by anti-tank missiles, including a patrol of the Israeli Defense Forces.

The sign that the Israeli Defense Forces are amassing both troops and hardware near the border with Gaza can be seen in many places, for instance, here, we see one of the collection points near the border area where they're collecting armors personnel carriers, bulldozers, of course tanks as well. We have been to several of these places in this area and in all of them, you could see a lot of movement going on.

We also know that Israeli Defense Forces have called in tens of thousands of reserves, which is what many people believe could be leading to a ground offensive in the coming days or coming weeks. However, a spokesperson for the Defense Ministry was not willing to say there's a timeline for when such an offensive could begin.

JOSHUA HANTMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: I don't want to go into precise military strategy on television. However it is a possibility. It's an option that is being seriously considered in order to restore that calm to the south.

PLEITGEN: Israel's government and the military says that the operation in Gaza is continuing at a very high pace. However, they also say they're willing and capable and to put their foot more on the gas and increase the scope of the operations.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, near the border with Gaza.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Thank you very much, Fred. The Arab League is holding an emergency session in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss the Gaza-Israel conflict. The Arab League's chief says the bloc should review its peace proposals to Israel and its entire stance on the peace process in response to the conflict in Gaza.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Arab countries to show their solidarity to Palestinians in Gaza. Tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets of Egypt's capital city to show their support for the Palestinians. Egypt's relations with Hamas have strengthened under that country's new administration. Protesters in the nation of Turkey set an Israeli flag on fire, also a photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a demonstration last evening.

President Obama makes history this weekend with a three-nation tour of Asia. The president is on his way to Thailand right now, but it's the second leg of his tour that makes this trip historic. He's visiting Myanmar, something no other U.S. president has ever done. The president wraps up his oversees trip in Cambodia. He'll attend the East Asia summit before returning to the United States on Wednesday.

Rescue planes are still searching for two crew members missing after an oil rig exploded yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico. At least 11 people were injured in the gas. A very small amount of fuel, 28 gallons spilled in the water, fortunately very small. The fire is out, but federal authorities are investigating the incident.

NFL icon Mike Ditka is recovering from a stroke. ESPN says the former Chicago bears Super Bowl coach, he won the Super Bowl in '86 suffered a stroke on Friday. Ditka, who is an analyst for ESPN told a local Chicago paper, quote, "I feel good right now, and it's not a big deal." Leave it to Mike. ESPN expects him to return to broadcasts soon.

If you were at the edge of a cliff and you could save yourself from going over it, what would you do? America, our nation, is at that point, and it's up to these players to prevent us from going over a $7 trillion fiscal cliff. I'm back to talk about it with former labor secretary Robert Reich. He's in the CNN Newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: The clock is ticking, and Americans are wondering if the country will go over the fiscal cliff. Will those talks at the White House yesterday between the president and leaders of Congress result in a real deal? A lot is at stake for millions of people, 310 million to be precise. Spending will be cut and tax cuts will expire this January 1st. The changes add up to $7 trillion over the next 10 years. The alternative minimum tax rate will expire, pushing millions of people into a higher tax bracket. If the payroll holiday tax expires, that will raise taxes on earnings. And if the unemployment extension expires, people will have less time to file for benefits.

Here to make sense of all of this is former labor secretary Robert Reich. He is now a professor at U.C. Berkeley. Professor Reich, thank you very much for joining us.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Hi, Gary.

TUCHMAN: How likely is it we will go over this figurative cliff? Do you think a deal can and will be reached?

REICH: I think a deal can be reached. Whether it will be reached is a question mark. There isn't much time remaining, and it is a lame- duck crisis. And anyone who thinks this lame duck Congress is going to easily strike a deal doesn't know much about lame duck Congress or about ducks.

TUCHMAN: Or about, that's a good way of looking at it. Earlier this week, the president's ally and billionaire investor Warren Buffett shrugged off the impact of going over the cliff, which was interesting, during an interview with my colleague, Poppy Harlow. Let's listen to it for a second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN BUFFETT, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I think if we go past January 1st, I don't know if it's January 10th or February 1st, but we're not going to permanently cripple ourselves because 535 people can't get along.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Even if we go over for two months, does that dip this economy back into a recession?

BUFFETT: I don't think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: After all you experience working in the White House, I'm wondering, do you believe it's possible Buffett was signaling that the president might be willing to go to the brink, to go over the fiscal cliff, as part of a grand taxes and entitlements bargain?

REICH: Maybe. There are two ways in which the fiscal cliff can be avoided, or at least the dangers to the economy can be avoided. Way number one is if between now and January 1st Congress and the president decide to delay everything, delay the tax increase that would come about because of the end of the Bush tax cuts and also delay spending cuts to a date, say March 15th, by which time they would have to come up with a grand bargain with respect to deficit reduction. That's possible. This Congress and president have shown their ability to kick the can down the road and they could do that again.

The second way is if they came to a grand bargain on taxes and deficit reduction in late January or even February that was retroactive to January 1st. If it's retroactive to January 1st and everybody knows it's likely to be retroactive to January 1st, it's not going to have the same effect on the economy. Instead of a fiscal cliff, it's more like a hill.

TUCHMAN: A fiscal mole hill. What areas can and should the president compromise, and if the GOP asked, what areas should the GOP and House compromise? REICH: The president has made it clear he won the election. Therefore, because the election was fought very clearly over whether taxes have to be raised on the rich, he's going to hold out for a tax increase on the wealthy in this country. And he said it has to be at least $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. He also is quite adamant the Bush tax cuts have to end for people earning over $250,000.

Now, beyond that, how much can be done with regard to simply putting a limit on tax deductions and tax credits, how much can be done with regard to limiting spending, let's say military spending, a little bit more than was anticipated, or getting rid of some corporate welfare, I don't know. And we'll find out about that.

Could we means-test Medicare a little more? Could we raise the percentage of income subjected to Social Security taxes, which is now limited to $110,100? Maybe. All of these things will be on the table, but we have to keep in mind that the table is not very large between now and January 1st. And that table is pretty rickety. All of these things will probably be on the table for a grand bargain after January 1st, but the question is, what happens between now and then. And again, I don't think we're going to see much by way of imaginative or major compromise by either side before then.

TUCHMAN: The table is rickety. The table is not very large, but the table has a lot of stakes on it. Robert Reich, professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Thank you for talking to us.

REICH: Thanks, Gary.

TUCHMAN: One thing people may not be spending money on no matter what happens with the fiscal cliff, Twinkies. Hostess, the Hostess company announced yesterday it's shutting down Twinkie operations. And right after that, Twinkie sales shot up -- this is amazing -- 31,000 percent on Amazon. It turns out a lot of people are feeling nostalgic about the tasty treat. Here's Alison Kosik.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Following a nasty labor dispute and almost a year in bankruptcy, Hostess brand is closing its 33 bakeries, more than 500 distribution centers, and selling off its assets, putting the future of the 82-year-old Twinkie in question. It's been a long road for the cream-filled pastry, now part of the American lexicon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Twinkie the kid! Wow!

KOSIK: The Twinkie was born in 1930 in Illinois. Inventor James doer was trying to figure out how to come up with an orange cupcake filled with banana cream. But during World War II banana rations forced the company to change to vanilla cream filling. The replacement was so popular it never changed back. Over the years, the Twinkie became a part of American popular culture in. The 1950s, the "Howdy Doody Show" host Buffalo Bob gave it an endorsement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we have? Hostess Twinkies. Howdy Dodie In the 1980s, the "Ghostbusters" movie used a Twinkie to describe the level of ghostly activity in New York's area. In the 1990s, there was a presidential endorsement as President Bill Clinton included a Twinkie in the millennium time capsule. And in the YouTube age, we've seen the Twinkie put to the test for shelf life. But now the Twinkie needs someone to come to its rescue or we'll have to say goodbye to the Twinkie for good.

Alison Kosik, CNN, New York

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Thank you very much, Alison.

The blistering attacks between Israel and Gaza are stoking fears of an all-out war. Just ahead, a high-ranking member of the Palestinian Legislative Council joins me to give us her thoughts on the crisis and what she thinks could defuse the situation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: Fresh air strikes in Gaza inflict heavy damage and more casualties. At least 11 people killed in Israeli rocket strikes Saturday, raising the number killed in four days of back and forth rocket attacks to 42. Earlier Israeli warplanes leveled the Palestinian cabinet headquarters in Gaza.

Air sirens wailed for a third straight day in Israel's largest city of Tel Aviv after Hamas fired a rocket to the seaside city. The rocket was intercepted. Israeli soldiers are massing near the border, raising the specter of a possible ground war.

Earlier I had a conversation with Mark Regev. He's a spokesman for the Israeli government. I asked him what he thought might be different now from the last conflict in Gaza in 2008. That was a conflict that didn't seem to have a clear victory for either side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: I think we have learned our lessons, and I think we understand we have to put the pressure on Hamas, and we also have to at the same time tell the Palestinians in Gaza you're not our enemy. We have no quarrel with our Gaza civilian population. Our problem is with the terrorists shooting the rockets into Israel.

And in many ways we see the people of Gaza also as a victim of this terrible Taliban-type regime. You think governing in Gaza, they would be interested in better jobs and education for the people of Gaza, but no. The Hamas government is a brutal dictatorship and they put the interests of the people in Gaza at bay and they say let's do jihad against Israel. That's not in anyone's interest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Now I want to bring in Hanan Ashrawi. She's a member of the executive committee of the PLO and she's on the Palestinian Legislative Council. She joins me from Washington. Thank you for joining me.

HANAN ASHRAWI, MEMBER PLO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: My pleasure, Gary. Good to be with you.

TUCHMAN: You heard what Israeli spokesman had to say there. What's your reaction to what he had to say?

ASHRAWI: I think it's very, very cynical. Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world and you have already placed it under siege for years now. The control is very big, military control, the crossing points, borders, territorial borders and they shoot and bomb and shell at will. And of course the victims are largely if not entirely civilians, men, women, children. Over 205 children have been injured, and these are 35 of them babies. Out of the 42 killed, mainly women and children. And there are no military people killed after the targeted assassinations.

So enough with the spin and them trying to present themselves as angels protecting the civilians. The Israeli military is using Gaza as target practice. They have been shooting, firing at will, and they want the Palestinians of Gaza to lie down and die quietly. This is absolutely incredible. It's cruel. It's a human tragedy, and Israel has to be held accountable.

Gary, that's the problem. So far, Israel has acted with full impunity, has never been held accountable, and then it turns around and pretends it's the victim, blaming the real victim, while the occupation is the real cause. You cannot enslave a people, you cannot hold a whole nation of people captive, you cannot shoot and fire at will and expect no one to tell you this is what you do when you have a captive civilian population. So we need intervention.

TUCHMAN: You are an eloquent spokeswoman. I've watched you for decades. You clearly love your people and that's very obvious and very important. But, as you well know, hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel the first ten and a half months of this year. The Israeli government says 750. If rockets were fires from Mexico at El Paso, Texas, or from Quebec or Cuba into Florida, I'm not the president of the United States, but this country will quickly retaliate. What do you expect the nation of Israel to do?

ASHRAWI: I agree. The problem is the U.S. is not occupying Mexico. It's not occupying any Latin American -- it's not occupying Cuba. The problem is Israel is occupying Gaza and the West Bank. It is occupying Palestine. And therefore, when they want to provoke and use a cycle of violence -- and this is very cynical because whenever there are elections in Israel, we know the Palestinians will pay the price. There's immediately a military escalation because Netanyahu wants to make the Israel security issue, not a peace issue --

TUCHMAN: But I'm asking you, what do you think Israel should have been doing, just letting the rockets fall?

ASHRAWI: No, no. I think Israel should have gone to the negotiating table. For the last 21 years we have been negotiating and Israel has been expanding settlements, has been acting with full impunity, as I said. Instead of complying with the requirements of peace, Israel has been expanding its unilateralism and has victimizing the Palestinians and has provoked violence.

So if you want to stop the violence, you deal with the causes. You deal with the occupation itself. You let the Palestinian people go. You recognize our right to self-determination. We in the West Bank, there hasn't been any violence, and yet at the same time, Israel has taken over and ethnically cleansed Jerusalem. They have built a horrific apartheid wall that daily can result in incursion, kicks people out of their homes.

And why? If Israel is interested in ending this lethal situation, it has to end its occupation. It has to end its oppression of a whole nation. You cannot just complain when your victims strike back.

I don't approve of violence, but I don't approve of any violence. I don't approve of the strongest army in the region shelling and firing and shooting and killing civilians and then blaming the victim as they lop off a few projectiles. And these are projectiles. These are not the bombs on the F-16s and F-15s that Israel uses to kill hundreds of Palestinians.

TUCHMAN: Projectiles or rockets, I'm wondering if President Abbas and you and other members Fatah just cringe earlier in the year when these projectiles or rockets fall, and think please, Hamas don't do this. This is not helping the Palestinian people.

ASHRAWI: We have been trying, exactly. We have tried through peace, through negotiations. We have tried in every possible way. But the thing is, Israel knows how to provoke. It wasn't Hamas that started this latest escalation of violence. Actually Hamas has been striking at those who were violating the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Hamas has acted, as many people said, in a way to give Israel security against the other extremist groups in Gaza.

And now Israel, of course, is going back to branding Hamas as terrorists. Why did Israel have to go back? Why did they kill the 12-year-old boy? Why did they shell a funeral camp tent? Why did they assassinate al Jabari. They can push Hamas's buttons. The moment they assassinated the military leader who was negotiating a ceasefire and a truce, they knew they were provoking Hamas for a military response.

So let's put things in proper perspective and let Israel stop whining and stop talking about itself as victim and get rid of this legal occupation and go back to leaving in good neighborly relations rather than as a military occupier that has treated the Palestinian territories and people as a free-for-all and a testing ground for its weapons.

TUCHMAN: It's sad and a pitiful history that continues on. We thank you very much for joining us on our program.

ASHRAWI: My pleasure, Gary. TUCHMAN: Many never dream super-storm Sandy would be as bad as it was, so some left their pets behind. Now a rescue effort is under way to help those who can't help themselves, and how you can help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: Israel and Hamas militants are trading fire for a third day in a row. Today Israel warplanes hit the Palestinian cabinet building in the Gaza Strip, also other government buildings and a police compound. Palestinians official say 11 people have been killed on Saturday. That brings the death toll since Wednesday to 42.

Israel says it's mobilizing 32,000 troops on the border of Gaza. That's a nation of 8 million people, so that's a lot of troops. So far, no ground invasion has been launched of yet.

Hamas militants are taking responsibility for shelling parts of Tel Aviv today. But Israel says there was one Hamas rocket that was shot there and blocked by its missile defense system. The death toll in Israel stands at three.

Nick Valencia is at our international desk right now following the latest developments. Nick, what have you been learning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gary, we have been learning together this story has taken a grim turn in the last few days, and we have been monitoring every nuance coming out of Gaza and Israel. We have created a special disk for our viewers with Middle Eastern experts. I want to bring in Yousef Basil. Yousef, you heard from Sara Sidner earlier. She's in Gaza. She said hundreds of rockets have found their way into Israel, and you have one of the new videos, is that right?

YOUSEF BASIL, CNN INTERNATIONAL DESK EDITOR: Yes. This is the video that our team shot and they sent to us.

VALENCIA: You can see the flair and trail a rocket fired from Gaza into Israel. And this is not just affecting the Israeli territories. It's affecting Palestinian as well. Palestinian territories saying 830 targets have been hit. That's coming from the IDF. I want to bring in Ali. Ali, you have also been taking a look at the press conferences coming out of the Middle East as well. You were in the translation booth a little while ago. Tell me what you heard in the Arab League presser.

ALI YOUNES, CNN INTERNATIONAL DESK EDITOR: The Arab League has held an emergency meeting in Cairo to deal with specifically with Gaza issue, and that's what the Arab League secretary-general has mentioned and they talked about establishing delegation by the four administers of the links to go into Gaza and express their solidarity with the Gaza people and also to reevaluate the Arab League position vis-a-vis the peace process with Israel.

VALENCIA: So you know that the leader of Hamas has met with the prime minister of Turkey and the Emir of Qatar. What other feeds are coming in here? What are you monitoring, taking a look at? YOUNES: We are watching all of the Arab channels, Al Jazeera, Hamas television, our television based in Gaza and a live around the clock coverage of reporting of their point of the view, their side of the story on this conflict. They have taken also Hebrew channels. They translate that to show the viewers the Israeli positions and their admissions from their perspective of the missile attacks raining on Israel in order to mobilize their audience, of course.

VALENCIA: Thank you very much for that insight, Ali. Get back in touch with us when you get the latest information.

For now that's the latest form the international desk. We'll keep an eye on everything coming into CNN. For now, Gary, back to you.

TUCHMAN: Nick, Yousef, Ali, thank you very much.

You can get news anytime you want on CNN.com. And we're going to show you some stories that are trending as we speak. The U.N. says Iran has made a significant advancement in its nuclear program with the completion of an underground uranium enrichment facility.

At a late moment at the White House, President Obama wished House Speaker John Boehner a happy birthday. The president said he didn't know how many candles they would need for Speaker Boehner's birthday. Mr. Obama gave him an expensive bottle of wine instead. The speaker turned 63 years old today.

And a New York businessman said Tampa, Florida, socialite Jill Kelley asked him for an $80 million commission if she used her influence to win him a South Korean business contract. Kelley triggered the FBI investigation that lead to the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus. And those are some of the stories trending as we speak on CNN.com.

An astronaut battles Parkinson's disease while flying through space. We'll show you why he kept his condition a secret and how he's doing 17 years later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: An astronaut flies on two missions into space, then gets diagnosed with a devastating brain disease. But as our Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports in this week's "Human Factor," that did not stop him from getting in the space shuttle a third time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: For most of us, this view is the closest we'll ever get to outer space. But it's this view that astronaut Rich Clifford has had three times when he blasted into space aboard space shuttle Discovery 1992, on Endeavor in 1994, and Atlantis in 1996. As he flew his last shuttle mission, on his way to the Muir space station, Clifford was carrying a secret. He had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

RICH CLIFFORD, SHUTTLE ASTRONAUT, 1992 TO 1996: I didn't really have any symptoms other than my right arm didn't swing naturally when I walked.

GUPTA: He had just had his annual physical and had been given a clean bill of health. But when he told his doctor his arm was affecting his racquetball game, he was immediately sent to a neurologist.

CLIFFORD: He looked at me for five minutes and said you have Parkinson's disease.

GUPTA: His bosses at NASA asked him what he wanted to do.

CLIFFORD: I said I want to fly again.

GUPTA: NASA doctors eventually cleared him, and nine months later Clifford was heading back into space aboard Atlantis.

CLIFFORD: My left arm was swinging, my right arm hanging there. The symptoms didn't go away, but it didn't interfere with my job.

GUPTA: Only the shuttle commander knew. And with that flight came a once in a lifetime opportunity, a six-hour spacewalk.

CLIFFORD: Fantastic. Doing a spacewalk is a privilege and something every astronaut searches for.

GUPTA: For years, the stiffness in his arm was the only symptom, then three years ago the trembling began, followed by the head bobbing. Last year, 17 years after being diagnosed, Clifford finally went public. Now he travels the country raising awareness about the disease, and he said it helps to talk about it.

CLIFFORD: I encourage people to not let it get you down. Live life to the fullest. You have to keep focused on what it is you want to do in life and proceed down that path. Nothing should hold you back.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Dr. Gupta will also be exploring a growing problem in the United States, prescription drug overdoses. You can see the CNN special "Deadly Dose" tomorrow night, 8:00 eastern time.

Spielberg's "Lincoln" opens to rave reviews. Our movie critic talked to the stars. She's also going to rate the best Lincoln movies of all time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCHMAN: The highly anticipated historical film "Lincoln" hit theaters this weekend. Grae Drake of RottenTomatoes.com is here to give us her review. She will also rate some other popular Lincoln Civil War films. Grae, welcome. It's nice to see you again.

GRAE DRAKE, MOVIE CRITIC: Likewise.

TUCHMAN: We want to start -- before you hear anything from you, we want to start giving our viewers a look, a clip from the movie, and from your interviews with the cast. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steps out on the world stage now with the fate of human dignity on our hands. Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment now, now, now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lincoln was a very complex man, but he followed simple ideals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had to really wheel and deal. And he had his moments of hypocrisy and he had his moments of being a politician.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You fail to acquire the necessary votes, you will answer to me.

DRAKE: I was a little sheepish that I had never thought of what Mary Todd Lincoln went through in our nation's history.

SALLY FIELD, ACTRESS: She's one of the most under-examined, misunderstood, maligned, very maligned and important women characters in history, in American history certainly. Had there not been a Mary Todd, there wouldn't have been an Abraham Lincoln.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: What a cast, Grae, and the movie seems intense. So what is your review of the movie?

DRAKE: Unbelievable film. This isn't even my chosen genre of picture and I was riveted. So Daniel Day-Lewis is a name that we're going to keep hearing for the next three months because he brings Lincoln to life in a way that is really unique. I have never really considered that Lincoln might be that kind of person, the way he speaks and his mannerisms, and he's so funny in the movie that, I mean, I really enjoyed getting to know this man I have been taught for a really long time is one of the most important people in American history.

And I loved it. It made me really patriotic. And also, because I don't think they sugar coated this version. He had to work to get the 13th amendment to abolish slavery passed. But he had to wheel and deal, and he's a politician through and through. And he really believed in something. He had to stand up for it, and he had to do some things that maybe he would have preferred not to. But they handled that subject perfectly. And there's so many great performances it would take me too long to list it all. So even though it's not going to be number one at the box office this weekend thanks to "Twilight," it's going to be number one at the Academy Awards.

TUCHMAN: So Grae, what is "Lincoln's" tomato meter score.

DRAKE: Certified fresh, 90 percent. There is no arguing that everyone is really into this film. For all of those reasons and so much more, you have to see it to believe it. It's two-and-a-half hours, but it's well spent. TUCHMAN: One of the things that is so interesting is I have never thought of Abraham Lincoln as funny. There's no funny video of the man because it was the 1800s, but you think of him as a serious guy, but you're saying he was humorous in the movie.

DRAKE: He was. You think of Lincoln as being this, I don't know, like a statue basically, because he is iconic and he absolutely wasn't. That's something Sally Field and I talked about. Mary Todd Lincoln was always telling him to stop telling jokes. The more things change, the more they stay the same with wives.

TUCHMAN: That is interesting. Let's take a look. Sally Field must be great, too. Let's take a look at other Lincoln civil war movies which have been successful and which have been major flops.

DRAKE: Well, "Young Mr. Lincoln" is one we can begin with. That stars Hollywood legends as American legends. Henry Fonda plays this man. This movie is from 1939. And it's about how Lincoln got started as a lawyer. And he defends two men who are wrongfully accused of murder. And again, standing up for what he believes in and for what's right when it's very unpopular. This film is nominated for an academy award, so you can't go wrong with it. If it is good enough for the library of Congress and preservation in our national film registry, it's good enough for us.

TUCHMAN: What's next?

DRAKE: The next one is a movie that really hit me hard when I first saw it. I was younger and really unaware of what people went through when they're serving our nation. "Glory" is the next pick starring Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick. It's about the 54th Massachusetts volunteer infantry that was one of the first official infantries to have all African-American members and they were led by Colonel Shaw played by Matthew Broderick in a surprisingly serious role. Everybody knows him as Ferris Bueller, but his acting chops reach far beyond that. And Denzel won his first academy award for this picture. Seeing it is a who's who in Hollywood, but it's also so amazing and powerful. And I swear to you when I first saw this movie, my eyes were as big as saucers. I never forgot it.

TUCHMAN: I was going to say, don't swear at me, whatever you do. No swearing on our air today.

This leads me to the final thing. You may want to swear at this, unconventional movie "Vampire Hunter."

DRAKE: This one is going to be the completely non-serious pick. He's fighting vampires, and it was only a matter of time before he humanized Lincoln like this, I guess. The only vampires that are going to be slain by Lincoln is going to slay in real is when the Academy Awards come up and "Twilight" gets no nominations and Daniel Day Lewis get everything.

In this movie it's exactly what it sounds like. Lincoln has an ax and he's taking people down. Well, he's taking vampires down, I should say. I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I wish that it was crazier than it actually was. It had a little bit too much integrity for me, and I wanted it to be a little more exploitative, I know. But it's a fun movie that completely rewrites history. I hope that doesn't confuse our nation's youth.

TUCHMAN: You need to write the manuscript for the explotative Abraham Lincoln.

DRAKE: "Grindhouse Lincoln," I think it's going to happen.

TUCHMAN: We'll look for that coming up. Thanks for joining us. It's good seeing you, Grae.

I just want all our folks watching to remember you can get more from Grae Drake at Rottentomatoes.com.

Many never dreamed that hurricane Sandy would be as bad as it was, so some let their pets stay behind. Find out about the rescue effort that is under way to help the pets who can't help themselves.

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TUCHMAN: The Red Cross has raised $145 million for victims of the super storm known as Sandy. That's got to be some comfort for all those still suffering. We have been telling a lot of their stories. But there are other victims, smaller victims of the storm that haven't gotten as much attention and that certainly don't have a voice.

Now two groups are helping the pets. Guardians of Rescue and Detroit Dog Rescue are searching hard-hit storm areas to find pets that were left behind. Homes are marked to let the owners know where the pets are being taken once they're rescued. If the pets are not claimed, they will be put up for adoption.

More ahead as Newsroom continues.

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