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Egypt: Israel to Stop Attacks Soon; Obama's Grassroots Strategy; Boomer Health Issues

Aired November 20, 2012 - 10:30   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": Men on motorcycles driving down a main street in Gaza City dragging the body of a man who is tied to one of the motorcycles. The man was dead obviously. Unclear if he was dead before he was dragged through the streets but they were dragging him through the streets yelling "God is Great" and also saying that he'd been a collaborator for Israel, a spy for Israel.

There's a lot of suspicion here about people who may be working for Israel sending out information about potential targets, but a very disturbing scene and one that really brings you -- gives you a sense of the -- the tenseness and the gravity of the situation here and the hard feelings on the ground here.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Can you give us a sense of the damage in Gaza City?

COOPER: Well, you know, there is -- everywhere you go you can find -- you can find damage, you know. Just loOKing out from where I am now, about four blocks away is the Media Center which we saw being hit twice, once on Sunday by three rockets yesterday in which a member of Islamic jihad was killed as well as one other person who was in the building.

A few blocks away another building was hit. After that -- shortly after that blast, then later on yesterday a bank was hit just a few blocks away. So it's not too hard to find buildings that have been hit.

There's not, you know -- it's not indiscriminate and massive destruction like you would see in Sarajevo during the siege of Sarajevo where -- where shells were just being lobbed, mortars were being lobbed into the city indiscriminately.

Israelis says they are targeting buildings but nevertheless as we all know civilians end up getting killed as well and no matter how precise targeting is. Civilians die in all these conflicts and we've seen a lot of that here in Gaza City as well. So you definitely can very easily see signs of the destruction all around.

COSTELLO: Yes more than 100 people have died in Gaza and the Gaza Strip, many of them civilians. Anderson Cooper reporting live from Gaza City.

We now I want to take you to Israel. Fred Pleitgen is covering the conflict on that side of the border. Hi, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. And one of the interesting things that actually happened here is that, you know, Anderson was just telling you about those two rockets that he saw fired out of the Gaza Strip. Well, I'm sort of, if you will, on the receiving end of those rockets. I'm on the Israeli side of the Gaza border and we actually saw those rockets take off and they were intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile Defense System.

If you recall we were talking yesterday and there was actually an Iron Dome interception on -- live on one of our shows. Well, that's the same thing that we saw. There were actually not just those two rockets fired out of Gaza, just now was actually more like four or five, probably some fired out of other locations than the one that was close to Anderson, but it seemed to us as though all of those rockets had been intercepted by the Iron Dome.

But by and large I would say the past couple of hours Carol has been a lot more quiet than the past couple of days really. We saw some artillery shelling of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military. It was not really clear to us whether they were calibrating their weapons or whether they were actually taking anything under fire because one of the things we have to keep in mind is that the Israelis do have a very large army pulled together here outside of Gaza so they might have just been trying to calibrate their weapons and firing into unpopulated areas.

That seemed to us as though that might have been the case. We're not exactly sure. Nevertheless, there have been some hits also on Israeli towns today. There was one big barrage of rockets that went on the town of Beersheba (ph) and we're just getting word from the Israeli defense forces that apparently throughout the day five of their soldiers were injured in rocket strikes -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Oh you know, you mention the Iron Dome. It's Israel's missile defense system. It's become sort of a symbol of safe harbor within Israel.

We were reading the "Jerusalem Post" this morning. It posted pictures of people, you know, going out to the Iron Dome and sitting there, some on bicycles, some people brought their children just to watch it at work.

PLEITGEN: Yes. No, you're absolutely right. That's exactly what we saw. We are at the Iron Dome Missile Battery System I think it was yesterday or the day before and while we were shooting video out there, there were actually a lot of people coming by to see this thing in action, and certainly it is a machine that is very prominent here in this country at this point it time because it's proven to be so effective in the conflict that's going on.

It's picking off a lot of rockets -- it's also especially picking off a lot of rocket that would normally hit population centers. The Israeli military says it believes that as many as 90 percent of the rockets that are fired at population centers are picked off by this thing. However, one of the things that they're also warning is not to take false comfort in all of this. They say it's not a 100 percent solution that every time there is an air raid alarm, people still need to take it very seriously, go inside.

We haven't seen them do anything different. Certainly the people here take it very seriously, but the Israeli military is warning them don't let down your guard. If a rocket comes, it still is very, very dangerous because it's never clear whether the Iron Dome is actually going to be able to pick it off.

COSTELLO: Fred Pleitgen reporting live from -- from within Israel this morning. Thank you so much.

The fight over the fiscal cliff in Washington, it's heating up. President Obama though is taking his argument to you. He's planning to hit the road loOKing for your support to get things done. Will it work?


COSTELLO: We keep hearing word of a negotiated ceasefire from Egypt's President but you can see the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu holding a press conference with the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. And I must say Netanyahu is not talking like there's a ceasefire. We got a shot back, let's listen in live.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: -- rockets Israel will not hesitate to do what is necessary to defend our people. I loOK forward to our discussions today and I hope we can advance a peaceful resolution.

BAN KI MOON, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Shalom, ladies and gentlemen. Again, I'd like to thank the Prime Minister for welcoming me to Israel at this time. Regrettably I'm back again in the region only nine months since my last visit because of violence in Israel and Gaza. It's again requiring our attention. Not progressive towards a lasting peace and the two-state solution.

The world is extremely concerned at the rising loss of human lives. Further escalation will be dangerous and tragic for Palestinians and Israelis and would put the entire region at risk. I'm here to appeal to all to halt fire and restore calm. Rockets have hit areas just outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As well Israeli towns near Gaza are killing and injuring civilians.

I myself visited these cities and met the many people and I was able to -- myself how these people were living in the fear and terror. This is unacceptable, irresponsible and reckless. I strongly condemn these actions. Rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel must cease immediately. I know how difficult the situation is here, but Israel must exercise maximum restraint.

I strongly caution against a ground operation which will only result in further tragedy. I have also stressed that while Israeli rockets may be aimed at military targets inside Gaza, they kill and injure civilians and damage civilian infrastructures. The loss of civilian lives is unacceptable under any circumstances.

The excessive use of force is unlawful and must be rejected and I take note of your statement that this military operations was aimed against only military facilities, but still in the course of military operations, the civilians are apt to be victimized, as we have seen.

My paramount, immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of all civilians in Israel and in Gaza. Innocent people, including children, are being killed and injured on both sides. I appeal to all those commanding, airing and operating arms, weapons to respect international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times.

I was here under similar circumstances in early 2009. It is extremely painful for me to be back for the same reason. This new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end such violence permanently. Further escalation benefits no one. I and all my staff, including special coordinator Robert Surrey, will spare no effort to put an end to violence and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Over the past week, Mr. Prime Minister, I have spOKen with many international leaders and regional leaders by telephone and in person. I have come here directly from Cairo where I met with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi and Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Mohamed Kandil earlier today. Egypt is a leader in the region and I was encouraged that the Egyptian authorities are using their contacts on all sides to seek an immediate ceasefire.

I have also met Foreign Minister Lieberman and Defense Minister Barak this afternoon he's arriving in Jerusalem. I will be meeting President Perez after our meeting with you this evening and Palestinian President Abbas tomorrow morning. I'm here to offer my help and offices to end the violence and find a path back towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The world is watching and waiting. We have not a moment to lose. Again, I thank Mr. Prime Minister I count on your strong leadership in working together with the United Nations for peace and stability and human rights in this region. Thank you.


COSTELLO: All right. We're going step away. You were just hearing from the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon talking about -- you know calling an end to this violence between both sides. He said civilian casualties are simply unacceptable and that Israel and the Palestinians have to work toward a two-party state. That's the only hope for lasting peace.

He did not mention a specific peace deal coming out of Egypt because as we told you earlier this morning, Egypt claims there's a ceasefire in place and that Israel will stop shooting rockets into Gaza sometime today. We didn't hear any of that in that press conference. We're going to listen more closely to it because we didn't hear the whole thing honestly but we didn't hear a word of that and we'll also maybe call up Wolf Blitzer so he can provide some perspective for you.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: What's a newscast without talk of the fiscal cliff? After he was re-elected, President Obama had one pledge to his supporters to get out of Washington more often. In a conference call to donors, the President said that he would be crossing the country working with supporters to find ways to avoid that so-called fiscal cliff. There is even a survey on Barack asking supporters how they think they can help the President in his second term.

Joining me now CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. Good morning to both of you.



COSTELLO: So, if you can't come to some sort of agreement with Republicans, then cross the country and have voters do it for you. Is that sort of it, Maria?

CARDONA: I think there's something to that, Carol. And I think that it could be a very powerful tool. I mean let's not forget that the people that our leaders, our elected leaders especially in Washington, listen to the most are their own constituents, their own voters in their districts.

So if there are Obama supporters in the districts of the Republican congressmen that President Obama needs to convince in order to come to a balanced solution to the fiscal cliff, I think igniting and motivating and mobilizing his millions of supporters across the country is a pretty smart way of doing it.

COSTELLO: Will it work, Ron?

BONJEAN: Well, you know, it's always a good idea for the President -- any president to be talking to voters. The question here is who should he be talking to? And right now we don't have a deal yet in Washington. We just were talking about the real, you know, very broad parameters of a framework. So the question is what would he say beyond what he has said before?

I think more time needs to be spent in Washington talking to lawmakers, especially members of his own -- especially Democrats. I mean they're not exactly signing up for entitlement reform right now. There are plenty of news articles all over the place talking about the fact that they're not -- they are not signed up for Social Security and Medicare reform just yet, and that's going to be a significant part of any deal. COSTELLO: Well, Maria, I seem to remember in Obama's last term, he often said, "Hey, it's up to you to get things done," meaning it's up to you, voters, to get things done. That didn't go over so well in his first term because Republicans simply said, "Hey, Mr. President, you're the leader here."

CARDONA: Well, I think that this time is a little bit different. There's no question that President Obama needs to take leadership here, and I think that he can -- all of our leaders can walk and chew gum at the same time. He can have those very important conversations with the leadership here, the Republican leadership here and I agree with Ron, he needs to continue to do that. But he can also mobilize his own supporters and voters across the country to make sure that he is able to meet the mandate that came out of this election, and what mandate was that? To make sure that he comes to a balanced solution with Republican leaders, let's remember, on whatever fiscal cliff deal that we come up with.

I mean, let's not forget that the majority of Americans agree with the vision of this President that the wealthy should pay a little bit more and that middle class tax cuts should continue to be extended.

COSTELLO: OK. Well, let's --


CARDONA: And it's the GOP that has--

COSTELLO: OK. I want to pose that to Ron because there was an article in the "New York Times" this morning and it said some Republicans are even caving in as far as the Grover Norquist pledge to never raise taxes ever, ever, ever as long as they live so help me God. And the article said that some Republicans are kind of willing to talk about that now and throw the pledge by the wayside.

BONJEAN: Well, you know what? I don't subscribe to that theory. Until you actually see some type of fine print on the table. Republicans, Speaker Boehner has stepped forward and offered a reasonable solution of raising revenue and entitlement reform as a way of preventing the fiscal cliff.

And I think -- you know, we've heard the President now saying that he's willing to come down a little bit on the rates. So right now we're in this interesting dance where we're all talking about how we'd like to have a compromise and what we're for. But what's going to be interesting is when we get into the fine print, how that's going to fall away and how the partisan lines will likely start to harden.

I think that's why the President will likely go on the campaign trail to try to jostle loose, you know, some Republicans but also some members of his own caucus who aren't going to move either.

COSTELLO: Well, we'll find out in the next couple of weeks. Maria Cardona, Ron Bonjean, thanks so much for the interesting conversation this morning.

CARDONA: Thank you, Carol.

BONJEAN: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Health care and the boomer generation. So what are the top concerns? We've got the top five next.


COSTELLO: This week we're taking a special look at health issues facing baby boomers in our segment "Age against the Machine". Today, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen takes us through the top five health concerns.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Number one, they're the generation that made marathons mainstream. Weekend warriors racing and jogging across finish lines at a rate not seen in their parents' day. But years of beating the pavement have led to injuries. Orthopedics are calling it boomeritis, unusually high rates of tendinitis, arthritis, tears, and fractures among baby boomers.

Doctors say the solution is to stretch, focus on flexibility. And alternate between weight bearing activities like jogging and non- weight bearing activities like swimming and cycling.

Number two in baby boomer health, brain games. Studies show games can help keep an aging mind. With rising rates of dementia and Alzheimer's the generation that gave us Pong isn't settling for Bingo. They're seeking out new games on screens designed to promote memory and attention.

Number three is boomers in the bedroom. If you thought STDs were just for 20 somethings, think again. Rates of infection among boomers have doubled in the past ten years. Some newly-divorced boomers no longer concerned about pregnancy aren't using condoms the way they should. The bottom line, this generation needs a refresher course on safe sex.

Number four made headlines this year. One in 30 baby boomers has hepatitis C. This generation alone accounts for three-fourths of all hepatitis C cases. But many don't know it because often there are no symptoms. Untreated hepatitis C can cause liver cancer. The CDC says if you're a boomer, get tested.

Number five makes staying healthy easier. Whether it's getting tested for hepatitis or getting regular mammograms, boomers now get free preventive care under all health insurance plans. Now it's up to them to use it. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN.


COSTELLO: I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me today. CNN continues after a break with Wolf Blitzer.