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Stormy Thanksgiving Holiday; Macy's Balloons Hoping to Fly; Power of the Underdog; To Heaven And Back; Near Death Experience Changes Woman; Hero Translator In U.S. At Last: Five Years After Saving Captain's Life In Afghanistan

Aired November 27, 2013 - 20:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Today as the massive winter storm trudged north. Road and power crews in the Boston area struggled to deal with the downed trees, to keep cars moving and keep customers with power. Today, the massive Thanksgiving storm affected much of the eastern seaboard.

In South Carolina, flooding Tuesday and Wednesday made the roads a nightmare for some holiday travelers. In North Carolina, heavy winds turned into an EF2 tornado late last night with speeds up to 135 miles an hour. It was powerful enough to tear the roofs off of buildings, uproot trees and leave thousands without power. Two people were injured but luckily, everyone survived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heard it coming so I dashed through the bathroom and the front of my apartment exploded on me and I was hanging onto the door frame and I was literally off the floor.

BERMAN: Further inland today the state was dealing with snow and flood warnings. In Virginia, high winds caused this tractor trailer to flip on to its side on Interstate 77. Traffic backed up for miles.

Areas north and west continued to be hit by snow. In Michigan accumulations from the storm reached nearly a foot in some areas causing hundreds of accidents and at least one death. And in Ohio, parts of that state are dealing with half a foot of snow dumped by this storm.

And now the big concern is the northeast. Beyond the snow, much of the region is getting hit with extremely heavy rains that are expected to freeze as temperatures drop overnight. Authorities are concerned that black ice could be a major problem for tens of millions of road travelers tomorrow.

As for air travelers, high winds threatened cancellations throughout the region, leaving millions of Americans wondering if they'll see their loved ones this Thanksgiving.


BERMAN: So let's get the latest on the storm from meteorologist Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center.

Chad, let's start with airports and roads. What's going on out there? CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Sure. I can tell you the most often said comment today or question, are we there yet? Because I have an 8-year-old and I can't tell you how many times I've heard that. 5,200 planes still in the air at this hour. And let me tell you, that's a lot for -- the day before Thanksgiving, that's a lot for any Wednesday. That's just because planes aren't where they need to be just yet. A lot of delays still in Philadelphia.

At least a couple hours for most of these planes, cancelled, cancelled on a couple of those planes there and then we get to the word delayed and I can take you page after page after page, and now we're just to the point where planes aren't coming in on time so there is no way the next plane is going to go out on time.

So LaGuardia, JFK, Newark and even Montreal, clearing the runway in Montreal because obviously it is snowing there, as well, all the way up into Atlanta and Canada, seeing quite a bit of snow.

This is the deal you just talked about. What happens when all of this rain, that's a puddle on the side of the roadway, freezes tonight? If you look and you're driving home and you see a puddle, just -- John, just assume it's frozen because that's what's going to happen when these temperatures dip below 32.

That's where they are going now because the temperatures are falling with the sunset going -- the sun just going away, skies are actually clearing in some spots, and that's a bad thing because I can show you what it looks like here in -- and this is Atlanta. What a beautiful shot of Atlanta right through there.

The Ferris Wheel in Atlanta going. Temperatures are going to be down to 20 degrees in a lot of Georgia tonight. That Ferris Wheel might have been a lot more fun today with the winds blowing 40 miles per hour.


But they got about a shaky little time there. Thirty-eight, the highest gust we're seeing in New York City right now. The big story, and the big question, what is it going to be tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. or 10:0 0 a.m. And so far the computers have backed off a little. Yesterday we had 34, which was right on the edge of no balloons. Right now the forecast is for 27. That's low enough so that Snoopy can fly -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Chad Myers, thank you so much.

You know, there is no good answer to the question are we there yet?

Although Chad brought it up, the big question now is whether the balloons, the balloons will be able to fly in tomorrow's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. There are strict rules regarding this and with good reason.

In 2005 a balloon drifted out of control in a gust of wind, hitting a light pole in Times Square and injuring two spectators. It was scary for a lot people there. And it wasn't the first time something like that happened.

Gary Tuchman, just a few blocks away from our studio here in New York. Gary has the latest on the balloons.

What's the latest word, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, first, one of the best kept secrets about the Thanksgiving Day Parade for people who come to New York City who want to see the balloons in person, the parade is not the best place to do it. The best place to do it is right here right now, the night before where they inflate the balloons, near the starting point of the parade.

Thousands of people come out every year even on (INAUDIBLE) night like this. They're out here to enjoy seeing the balloons being blown up. And I'm right next to the oldest balloon in the parade, 40 feet tall, Snoopy and Woodstock. They've been flying this thing since the bicentennial in 1976 and they are still flying it. Hopefully they will be flying it tomorrow.

You talked about what happened in 2005. In 1997 something even worse happened. Five blocks from where I'm standing, a Cat in the Hat balloon hit a light pole, the light pole fell on top of a woman, critically injured her. She survived but she was in a coma for weeks. And after that they set up some new rules.

While I'm talking about the new rules, I want to show you what else is here. This is not one of the 16 big balloons. This is a pumpkin. This will fly no matter what because it's small. And behind the pumpkin, I'll take you back here, we'll look at another one of the big balloon, Sonic the Hedgehog right here.

So while you look at the balloons, I'll tell you about the new rules. If the winds are sustained at 23 miles per hour or more and the gusts are 34 miles per hour or more the balloons are not permitted to fly. But like Chad just mentioned, the expectations -- by the way, that nose, that nose by itself, let's look at the nose again, Rick.

The nose by itself is five feet long so that shows you how big these balloons are. If those conditions are not met, if those winds are higher than those amounts, the balloons are not allowed to fly. But like Chad said, it appears at this point the winds will be lower and the balloons will be able to fly.

One more look I want to give you something else interesting that I bet you do not know. This is the Aflac duck right here. And this is tall. And it looks like one of the big balloons but it's actually called a balloonicle. It's a balloonicle because it's a balloon that will ride in a vehicle and therefore the Aflac duck will be in the parade no matter what because it's a balloonicle. Not a balloon.

So 16 balloons. We hope they fly tomorrow. We know the parade will open tomorrow. Right now we're hopeful the parade will happen with the Macy's famous balloons.

John, back to you. BERMAN: SO we'll have pumpkins and balloonicles no matter what, Gary. And we're counting on the wind conditions to find out if the big balloon fly. And if they do fly, there's all this safety procedures that go along with them. You know, cops walking with each balloon and the like.

TUCHMAN: Well there are 70 to 100 handlers, John, for every one of the balloons. So do the math. Sixteen balloons times 100, that's 1,600 people, up to that many men and women, who watch the balloons very carefully. So this is very orchestrated. They're very careful about it and that's why they have these rules about the winds. But this morning, we didn't think these balloons would go and now the expectations are the balloons will go because the forecasts are more optimistic -- John.

BERMAN: Well, that's good news. And Gary Tuchman, you have the best seat in the house tonight. Thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

So Macy's retired the underdog balloon a few years ago but chances are we all know a true life underdog. What you may not realize is it can actually be quite powerful.

Up next, Anderson's interview with write Malcolm Gladwell who says there are advantages to being among the disadvantaged.

Also ahead a new delay for Obamacare raising more questions about the Web site.


BERMAN: So while you're waiting for your turkey to cook on Thanksgiving, here's a little something to debate with your family and friends. Does the underdog actually have the advantage in life? Have we been getting it wrong all along?

Writer Malcolm Gladwell thinks so. It's the focus of his new book and Anderson talked to him for this "60 Minutes" report.


MALCOLM GLADWELL, AUTHOR, "DAVID AND GOLIATH": When we look at battles between lopsided parties, we exaggerate the strength of the favorite and we underestimate the strength of the underdog.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, CNN'S AC 360 (voice-over): Malcolm Gladwell believes underdogs win more often than we think because their limitations can force them to be creative. David couldn't slay Goliath with t sword but with his sling he could be deadly from a distance. And Gladwell says there is plenty of modern research to explain why.

GLADWELL: I had a conversation with this ballistics experts with the Israeli Defense Force, who had done the math and pointed out that the projectile, the rock coming from David's sling was moving at about 35 degrees per second and would have hit Goliath with the stopping power equivalent to a bullet from a .45 caliber handgun.

COOPER (on camera): How did you find an Israeli ballistics expert who had done this study on the throwing power of David?

GLADWELL: There's a paper presented at the International Ballistics conference like seven years ago by --


COOPER: How did you even hear about the International Ballistics Conference?


GLADWELL: If you're as much of a nerd as I am, this is the kind of stuff that you get interested in. You know?

COOPER: This is what you do?

GLADWELL: This is what I do. Yes.

COOPER (voice-over): What Gladwell does has made him hugely popular and very wealthy. His new book, "David and Goliath," all about underdogs, has already topped the "New York Times'" best sellers list.

GLADWELL: When you're an underdog, you're forced to try things you would never otherwise have attempted. Because David -- there's no way you could do a dual of swords. He feels emboldened to try something totally outside the box. Right? And that's a pattern that you see again and again with underdogs that because they can't do this thing they are required to do, they look for alternate routes.

COOPER: Gladwell began writing about the successful strategies of underdogs after meeting an Indian born software mogul named Vivek Ranadive. What interested Gladwell wasn't software but how Ranadive coached his 12-year-old daughter's basketball team, seen here in white, even though Ranadive knew nothing about the game.

(On camera): Growing up in India, did you play basketball?

VIVEK RANADIVE, COACHED DAUGHTER'S BASKETBALL TEAM: I've never actually touched a basketball in my life.

COOPER: Never touched one?

RANADIVE: Never touched one. When I went to coach my daughter's team, I had physically never touched a basketball.

COOPER (voice-over): His lack of knowledge about basketball wasn't his only obstacle. His daughter's team has absolutely no talent.

(On camera): The girls on your basketball team, they weren't tall?


COOPER: Could they dribble? RANADIVE: A couple of them.

COOPER: Could they shoot?

RANADIVE: Not very well.

COOPER: Did they have a long experience playing basketball?

RANADIVE: For the most part, no.

COOPER (voice-over): So Ranadive relied on his mathematics talent and devised a computer algorithm that turned out to be a winning formula for his girls. The strategy, force the other team to turn over the ball.

GLADWELL: He says, look, I'm not -- we're not going to bother practicing shooting. It's pointless. We're not going to practice dribbling. I'm going to teach them to runaround like this the entire game and we're going to play the most maniacal defense known to man. And we're going to score by stealing the ball and shooting layups. That's it.

RANADIVE: It didn't really matter that my girls couldn't shoot as well. If I could get the ball under the basket and if I could win the turnover battle, then I could win the game.

COOPER: Ranadive's girls played a never-ending full-court press. They won every regular season game.

(On camera): Your daughter's opponents, they just weren't used to playing basketball like this?

RANADIVE: No, no, in fact, their coaches were not used to playing that way.

COOPER: They didn't like it.

RANADIVE: They didn't like it. One guy, a big guy was so upset that he said he wanted to meet me in the parking lot after the game.

COOPER: He wanted to beat you up?

RANADIVE: Well, he wanted to meet me in the parking lot, so.


COOPER (voice-over): Ranadive's underdogs made it all the way to the state championships.

(On camera): You clearly started to like basketball after that?

RANADIVE: I did. I did. I ended up falling in love with the game.

COOPER: And you're still a software CEO of the multi-billion-dollar company but I understand you recently made a big purchase.

RANADIVE: Well, I did. I bought the Sacramento Kings.

COOPER: You bought an NBA basketball team?


COOPER (voice-over): An underdog's disadvantages can be converted into advantages and Gladwell believes that's just as true apart from sports. Gary Cohn is one of Gladwell's favorite examples.

GARY COHN, SUFFERED FROM DYSLEXIA: I was a troubled student as a young child and at that period, this is the early '60s, the world of dyslexia hasn't been as developed as it is today. You know, I don't think anyone really knew how to diagnose the problem.

GLADWELL: He couldn't do school. He acted up in class, he got kicked out of schools. His mother never thought he would graduate from high school. When he graduated from high school, his mother cried. Why? Because it was a day she thought would never come.

COOPER: Coons still has difficulty reading but he's figured out ways to work around his disability, skills that have led him all the way to the president's office at Goldman Sachs.

GLADWELL: An incredibly high percentage of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic. That's one little known facts. So many, in fact, they got a joke among dyslexic researches that you go into a room of very successful business people and you -- show of hands on who has a learning disability, it's like half the hands in the room go up. It's fascinating.

COOPER: Although dyslexia remains a challenge for many people, Coon figured out a way to overcome it. His disability forced him to become a good listener and made him unafraid to take chances.

COHN: People that can't read well, we tend to build a great sense of listening. We also tend to build a great sense of being able to deal and cope with failure.

COOPER (on camera): This is not something, though, you would wish on anybody else?

COHN: No, I would not.

COOPER (voice-over): Gladwell is fascinated with people who achieved success by forging their own path. Perhaps because that's what he has done. He's a staff writer for the "New Yorker" magazine but he doesn't actually have an office. He writes in small cafes in New York and does most of his research in a library where he hunts out obscure, often dull academic papers and minds them for interesting counterintuitive ideas.

David Remnick, editor of the "New Yorker", calls him an original.

DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, NEW YORKER MAGAZINE: There are people that cover science. There are people that cover business. There are people that cover trends, but this strange amalgam of reading academic journals, interviewing ordinary people, thinking, storytelling, this is something that Malcolm really -- that was a territory that he carved out for himself.

COOPER (on camera): What do you think he's interested in achieving? Is that that he's got an opinion and he wants everybody else to agree with it?

REMNICK: Actually just the opposite. I think what he's interested in is testing and pressing against received wisdom. Most of the time what we think of our ideas about the world, it's received wisdom. We've read them. We've assumed it's correct. We don't have time to test everything.

COOPER (voice-over): Gladwell's testing of everything has made him a Goliath in the world of publishing but he began as an underdog. Not a particularly strong student, his upbringing in rural Ontario, Canada was, well, a bit odd.

GLADWELL: We had no TV. We had no stereo. We never went to the movies. We never even went out to dinner. I think we -- like we once went out to dinner like in sort of the mid '70s, found the experience not to our liking.


COOPER (on camera): Not to your liking. I mean, what you're describing is a childhood from the '30s.

GLADWELL: I thought I had -- I've had a -- I read a lot of books. I thought I had a fabulous childhood. I mean, well, I'd sometimes get bored, our mother would say it's important to be bored. You're giving your brain a rest.

COOPER (voice-over): His Jamaican-born mother is a family therapist. His English father a math professor. Gladwell says being biracial and feeling like an outsider has given him a perspective that still informs his writing.

GLADWELL: We've lived in England then we moved to Canada where we were sort of outsiders, and then I moved to America where I'm kind of an outsider. So I feel like I've constantly been in the situation of shaking my head and thinking, this is a strange place.

COOPER: Gladwell finds America's obsession with Ivy League colleges strange.

GLADWELL: You moron.

COOPER: He argues the presumed advantages of Ivy League schools can actually be disadvantages. Gladwell went to the University of Toronto and says he's better off for it.

GLADWELL: I have a massive chip on my shoulder. I went to a state school in Canada. Are you kidding me? I come to New York and all kinds of people that went to Harvard and Yale are mentioning that in every second sentence. It drives me crazy. I have taken it upon myself --

COOPER (on camera): I -- I went to Yale.

GLADWELL: I know that. But you haven't mentioned it until now so I'm --

COOPER: I never mention it. I really don't.

(Voice-over): He says the assumption in America that students should go to the most prestigious school they get into is simply wrong.

GLADWELL: If you go to an elite school where the other students in your class are all really brilliant, you run the risk of mistakenly believing yourself to not be a good student.

COOPER (on camera): Even if?

GLADWELL: Even if you are, right? It doesn't -- if you're last in your class at Harvard, it doesn't feel like you're a good student, even though you really are. It's not smart for everyone to want to go to a great school.

COOPER: So if you had a child, would you want them to go to Harvard?

GLADWELL: No, of course not. I want them to go to school -- to a state school in Canada where their tuition would be $4,000 a year. If Harvard is $60,000 and the University of Toronto where I went to school is maybe 6. So you're telling me that an education is 10 times better at Harvard than it is at the University of Toronto? That seems ridiculous to me.

If someone says, you know, this painting --

COOPER (voice-over): He doesn't like to talk about money, but Gladwell earns millions from his books and lectures. In person, however, there is little sign of his wealth. He lives alone in Greenwich Village on the top two floors of a walk-up brown stone. A self-described hermit, he doesn't even have a doorbell.

GLADWELL: I don't want a doorbell. I don't want anyone ringing my doorbell. It seems to be so intrusive.

COOPER (on camera): So when people come and visit, what do they do?

GLADWELL: They can call me on their cell phone.

COOPER (voice-over): For all his success, on the streets of New York he's nearly invisible, save for his signature cloud of curls bobbing above the crowd.

GLADWELL: People assume when I -- my hair long that I'm a lot cooler than I actually am. I'm not opposed to this misconception, by the way, but it is a misconception.

Thank you for buying six books. COOPER: At 50, Malcolm Gladwell has reached a level of success few writers ever will. His previous four books have sold nearly five million copies. The first one, "The Tipping Point," was published 13 years ago but remains on the "New York Times" best sellers list. His fans fill lecture halls and companies pay big money to hear about his latest observations.

How do you get to be that person who this is -- completely indifferent to what everyone around you is saying? And you get to be that person if you have been through the absolute worst the world can throw at you and come out fine, right?

COOPER: While readers find his writing accessible and perceptive, his critics say his conclusions can be formulaic and obvious.

GLADWELL: I'm not afraid of the obvious. I think the really obvious questions are the great ones.

COOPER (on camera): You're a super star on the world of publishing and you have a lot of people gunning for you, a lot of people probably would like to see you fail with a book. You don't feel like a Goliath?

GLADWELL: Well, I'm not lumbering and -- am I? I try not to think too much about what has happened in my career and draw 20 conclusions about it. I think it's always best if you pretend that you're exactly the same as you always were, and I'm perhaps as befuddled by my success as my critics are. So in that sense, I see eye to eye with them.

When they say I can't believe Gladwell did this, I'd say, I can't believe Gladwell did that either. How on earth did that happen?



BERMAN: It's got to be a pretty wonderful surprise.

Coming up, to "HEAVEN AND BACK." A woman who claims she died, left this world and then returned. What she says she saw.

But first, another setback for Obamacare, a new change for the health care law. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Let's get caught up on some developing stories. Stephanie Elam has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Stephanie.


The Philippine government now says more than 10 million people were impacted by the super typhoon earlier this month. The death toll has risen to over 5,500 and more than 1700 others are still missing. Another delay for Obamacare. Small businesses won't be able to purchase coverage for their workers through the Web site until next year, November 2014. Instead, they'll have to use a broker or agent. This comes just days before the Web site is supposed to be running more efficiently after a disastrous debut.

There may be a Thanksgiving roast in space tomorrow. A massive comet about two-thirds of a mile wide is speeding toward the sun. One scientist gives it a 30 percent chance of survival.

And at the White House the annual tradition, the Turkey pardon.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Office of the Presidency, the most powerful position in the world, brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities. This is not one of them.

Eighty turkeys on John's Farm competed for the chance to make it to the White House and stay off the Thanksgiving table. It was quite literally the hunger games.


ELAM: Well, the honor this year went to a bird named Popcorn but fear not, the runner-up named Caramel, was also spared. Voting took place online.

And across the pond, a royal rock jam. Prince William steps up to the mike to sing "Living on a Prayer" with Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift, rocking out. Check them out. The charity event took place at Kensington Palace.

Now there's a memory and something you can do anytime you're, you know, the future king is just get on stage and rock out when you want to if you (INAUDIBLE).


BERMAN: I wonder -- I wonder if he takes requests? You know? I like him to do Neal Diamond. You know, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" or something like that.

ELAM: That's what you would want to hear out of all the songs? That's the song you want to hear?

BERMAN: I want to hear -- I want to hear Prince William singing a duet with someone, I don't know, like Celine Dion, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers." I think that'd be fantastic. Beat that.

ELAM: That would be pretty awesome. But I do love your beautiful mind, John. I like the way it works.


BERMAN: All right, Stephanie Elam, thank you so much. Up next, people who claim they've had near-death experiences, seeing heaven and they say feeling the presence of God only to return to this world. The stories truly are fascinating.

Also, a young man from Afghanistan starts a new life in America. He worked for the U.S. military as an interpreter and for that a price was put on his head.


BERMAN: So this next story you're about to hear is honestly really pretty amazing. This Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN will broadcast a special report "To Heaven and Back." Our Randi Kaye explores the extraordinary stories of some who claim they died, left their bodies in this world, crossed into another world only to return.

One person Randi speaks to is an orthopedic surgeon, Mary Neal. She says that while kayaking in a river in South America in 1999, she got pinned under water without oxygen for more than 15 minutes and drowned. Here is a preview of what Dr. Neal tells Randi Kaye that she experienced.


MARY NEAL: I could see the scene on the riverbank. I could see them pull my body to the shore. I could see them start CPR. I had no pulse, and I wasn't breathing. One fellow was yelling at me to come back.

RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: You were unconscious so how do you know all this was happening?

NEAL: I felt my body break free, and I felt my spirit break free and I was greeted by these people or these spirits. I could be with them and be going down this incredible pathway and simultaneously look back at the river. When I saw my body, I going to say that was the first time that I actually thought, well, I guess I am dead. I guess I really did die.

KAYE: In the book, you write about dancing with them. Were you celebrating?

NEAL: Yes.

KAYE: What? What were you celebrating? You had just died?

NEAL: It was a great homecoming and I was really surprised by the fact that I had no intention of going back.

KAYE: You didn't want to return?

NEAL: No. And I had all the reasons to return. I had a great life. I had a great job. I had a great husband. My children are wonderful and I love them more than I could ever imagine loving something on earth. But the love that I felt for them in comparison to God's love that was absolutely flowing through everything was just pale in comparison.

And then at a certain point, one of the people or the spirits told me that it wasn't my time and I had more work to do on earth and I had to go back to my body. Then they took me back down the path and literally, I sat down in my body.

KAYE: Your friends, they thought you were dead?

NEAL: I woke up, I saw them, and then I could hear yelling, and their faces were interesting because it was a mixture, I think, of absolute shock and the sense of now what do we do? We're in the middle of nowhere.

When they looked up, two Chilean young men just appeared. They actually never said anything and no one ever said anything to them but they picked me up and put me on top of a kayak to carry me and one picked up the boat and another guy chopped a path through the bamboo. When they emerged from the bamboo to the dirt road, there was an ambulance waiting there.

KAYE: Not a common sighting in that area I take it?

NEAL: No, there are no ambulances.

KAYE: You write in the book, it wasn't just one miracle. It was a constellation of miracles.

NEAL: The fact is, when you line up every single coincidence, you start to realize that you can't write everything off as a coincidence. I was in the hospital for five or six weeks. I absolutely felt like I was neither here nor there. I then, again, felt myself back in heaven and God's world. I was in this incredible field. Again, it was the same experience of intensity, but I was having this conversation with Jesus.

KAYE: So if I'm hearing you correctly, you're having a conversation with Jesus?

NEAL: Yes.

KAYE: And what are you asking him?

NEAL: We talk more about reasons I had been sent back. It had to do with my husband's health. So, when a couple of our friends died from unexpected causes, I then pushed my husband to have his heart checked, and it was on this heart scan that they ended up finding this lung lesion that was malignant.

KAYE: How serious was it?

NEAL: Had it not been found, he probably would not be here.


BERMAN: So one person who was not part of our special report on Sunday, but who claims to have had a near death experience is Mary Jo Rapini. She is a psychotherapist who formally worked as a hospice nurse. In that role she attended patients that claimed they experienced heaven or God.

She thought they were hallucinating, but Mary Jo's her life changed profoundly when she suffered a severe brain aneurysm and she joins us. Mary Jo, you say you had a near death experience 10 years ago. What happened?

MARY JO RAPINI, AUTHOR, "Is God Pink?: Dying To Heal": First of all, there is a light and it's -- it was in my right hand far side corner, and it's an unusual light. It's not a human light. It was quite small and then it grew larger and before I knew what was really happening, I was in it, and it's a limited area, many refer to it as a tunnel and I think the reason is because you're aware that it is limited.

It was very warm, very loving, and before I -- as I was going toward the tunnel, I remember looking back at -- over my shoulder, I, you know, your eyes work differently and I saw my body. I just wasn't attached to it. I didn't -- I didn't have any regret. I was loved. I was secure, and then I came into this other room, and it was incredible.

I was in the presence of what I believe is my creator. It was omnipotent intelligence and held me and called me by my name and it said you can't stay. Those are the very first words and they, you know, I didn't see God's face, but he talked to me, and I protested. I wanted to stay.

I felt really bad and I asked why not? And this omnipotent being said let me ask you thing, have you ever loved anyone the way you've been loved here? And the love there is not this love. It's not a human love and I responded no, it's impossible, I'm a human. And it held me very tight and it said you can do better.

BERMAN: What do you say to skeptics out there? Because you know people will look at this and say look, it's been in the movies, it's been in books, people seeing the light, the tunnel. Maybe it was a dream. Maybe you dreamed something you heard before repeatedly.

RAPINI: Well, what I say to the skeptics is I embrace you. I am a skeptic. I was a skeptic. I -- I'm trained in the sciences. I'm a nurse. I'm a psychotherapist. I'm married to a physician. We risk -- I risk my credibility having this happened to me. It's not a dream. I'm hoping I'm on the team that researches these things, that tries to understand them, and I know they want to call it a dream.

I know they want to call it hypoxia, maybe you don't have enough oxygen in your blood or maybe that part of brain was stimulated, yes, maybe, but at the same time when you talk to everyone who had one, including me, who I'm very -- I'm scientific in my thought. I'm professional, I'm telling you, it is a real thing.

BERMAN: Mary Jo Rapini, you have a remarkable story to tell. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

RAPINI: Thank you.

BERMAN: Up next, the story of heroism in Afghanistan in service of the U.S. Army, but that service nearly cost a young man his life when the Taliban put him on a kill list. That's when American soldier sprang into action to help.


BERMAN: Tonight on the eve of Thanksgiving, a young man from Afghanistan is settling into his life in the United States with his wife and two children. His name is Janis Shinwari. When he and his family arrived in the United States last month, they were greeted by Army Captain Matt Zeller.

The men hadn't seen each other in five years, yet they considered themselves brothers and with good reason. They served together in Afghanistan. Janice worked as Captain Zeller's interpreter and at one point saved his life.

The men developed such a close bond that when Zeller returned state side, he vowed to help him secure a visa to move here. Afghans who worked for the United States military are often targeted by the Taliban.

Janis found out he was on a Taliban kill list so it was imperative for him to leave, but he almost didn't get here due to a potentially deadly trick played by the Taliban. Anderson recently spoke with the two men.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I think this is such an important story because this has happened to so many people have worked for the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. It happened to folks who worked for the United States in Vietnam and back then, you know, we said this going to never happen again. We'll take care of those people who helped the United States and yet again, we're not taking care of people who helped us in Iraq and Afghanistan. Take me back to how you met Janis.

CAPTAIN MATT ZELLER, U.S. ARMY RESERVE: My 15-man unit and I got ambushed by about 45 members of the Taliban. We are pinned down, an hour in the fire fight, I ran out of grenades and bullets and I thought this is it. I'm going to probably die on this hillside. Sort of out of a movie script, a quit reaction force, the cavalry arrived and he was in the first vehicle.

I didn't know it, but he actually jumped out into the fox hole I was in. I felt someone next to me, but I didn't realize it was him and I heard the unmistakable sound of an AK-47 going off next to my head and I turned and it's Janis shooting these two Taliban fighters dead. If he wasn't there covering my back and didn't have my six, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you right now. They would have shot me then and there.

COOPER: What happened once Matt and the team left? The Taliban came for you.

JANIS SHINWARI, FORMER MILITARY INTERPRETER: Yes, when Matt's team left Afghanistan, literally, I found out that my name was added to the Taliban kill list.

COOPER: They knew what you had done. You knew you were working with Americans?

SHINWARI: Yes, he was the intelligence officer and investigating them and I was translating and at that time, I didn't cover my face and everybody knew me.

COOPER: Some translators cover their face.

SHINWARI: Most of them, I didn't because I'm not scare from them and I want them to scare from me. The intelligence officer, he personally told me that my name was added at the Taliban kill list and I have to leave. When I came to Kabul, the Taliban came to my house and my father told them he's not at home. The next morning I called my wife and my son to leave home and stay with my father in law for a couple days until we solve this problem.

COOPER: It wasn't just an empty threat. They were calling you. They were leaving letters.

SHINWARI: Yes, in each letter, they were trading my life and mentioning in each letter that all the interpreters, they are traitor of Islam and not Islam and if they catch us, they going to kill us.

COOPER: You were approved to come to the United States, but in the last minute that was stopped.

SHINWARI: Yes, after two years of fight on September 2013, my visa was issued. After two weeks, when I sold everything, I went to say goodbye to my family members, to my relatives. I got a call from the embassy and they told me you cannot fly to the United States. There is some issue with your visa.

ZELLER: They sat on his visa for two years and do this for almost all the visas to try to compel them to do the right thing. We decided to go to the press and start an online petition to get notice and the press said this hero interpreter got his visa. Let's get him to the U.S.

Now the Taliban read that and tried to kill him for years and they realized that they would miss the opportunity and the only way to keep him in Afghanistan they called in a bogus tip alleging he was a bad guy and the State Department took two years of investigative background work that said he is a good guy and he is cleared to come here and tossed it out on one anonymous tip.

COOPER: It's unbelievable. I mean, two years of facing death threats to you, probably to your family, as well for this -- for the U.S. government to make up its mind and toss it out. So how did you finally get here? ZELLER: A lot of people told me that's it. He'll never get to come here. I'm maybe too stubborn and refuse to accept no for an answer and quite frankly, I owe him. He's like another soldier. He saved my life. I have to pay this back. So I went back to the media, but I also then contacted members of Congress. In order to definitively prove he's not a bad guy the CIA polygraphed him twice in Afghanistan, which is unprecedented.

COOPER: It's just short sighted because there is going to be other involvements and places where the United States needs people to help and needs support and every time we fail to follow through in our promises helping people, it makes it harder the next time.

ZELLER: I mean, after it took five years to get him here, that's not the right standard.

COOPER: What do you think of the United States?

SHINWARI: It's very nice. I feel very safe. No more fear of Taliban.

COOPER: Were you able to bring your family?

SHINWARI: I'm with my family, my wife and my two kids, but I have some family behind.

COOPER: But you were able to bring your wife and kids?




COOPER: I'm glad you are here and I wish the process had not taken so long and I wish it wouldn't take so long for others and thank you for your service.

ZELLER: Thanks for having us. It's an honor.


BERMAN: Janis and his family came here pretty with the clothes on their back. A fund is set up to help the family get established here in the United States. If you want to make a donation, go to the web address at the bottom of your screen, in-america. Good cause. "The Ridiculist" is next.


BERMAN: It is time now for "The Ridiculist." And since it is Thanksgiving eve, I thought we would take a moment to reflect on the holiday. There are so many wonderful traditions this time of year, cornucopia of warm feelings, the president pardons a turkey, families gather together in gratitude for one another and if we're very, very lucky, Jose Canseco gets pulled over with diaper wearing goats in the back of his vehicle.

This is a Thanksgiving miracle. So the former baseball star actually posted this on Twitter a couple weeks ago, quote, "Just got pulled over with goats in the car, the cop laughed at our poor goats. Awesome."

Let's start with the diapers, shall we? Jose tweeted, quote, "Yes, everyone my girlfriend, Layla, and I bought fainting goats and they were in the car with diapers so they don't -- and -- everywhere. It does make perfect sense when you go and get your fainting goats, you got to pamper them.

Otherwise your vehicle ends up smelling an ass menagerie, but see, this is a prime example of how Jose Canseco's Twitter feed is a riddle, a philosophical black hole, which every answer just leads to another question. For example, extra exactly is a fainting goat? I never heard of it before, but it is indeed a thing. I'll let the experts at National Geographic explain.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fainting goats are indigenous to North America because they never lose consciousness when they keel over. A genetic condition causes their muscles to lock up, but it only lasts a few moments and then they are back on their feet until the next time they are spooked.


BERMAN: So I guess that's solves the mystery of why Jose Canseco wanted fainting goats because they are awesome. Also apparently Jose and his girlfriend have somewhat of a small zoo. They already have four dogs, turtles and the fainting goats named Cocoa and Chanel according to Canseco's Twitter.

Whatever, I'm still hung up on the fact there is a kind of goat that falls over when it's startled and gets right back up again. I always thought it was only reporters that do that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goats will be here through Saturday and they are friendly. Linda Carson, ABC 7 -- would you not eat my pants.


BERMAN: What a wonderful world we live in. Happy thanksgiving, everyone. To reporters on the county fair, to goats both fainting and regular and especially to Jose Canseco, his girlfriend and Cocoa and Chanel, happy thanksgiving to us all on "The Ridiculist."

That does it for this edition of 360. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to the viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, the undisputed champion, the last man you want to bet against in or out of the ring. That was then. This is now. Mike Tyson is getting ready for the next round of his life, telling the undisputed truth about everything.


MIKE TYSON: I used to despise myself as being so arrogant, but it came out when I was performing either on the stage and the ring.