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Federal appeals court orders Moussaoui case to proceed; Debate over public viewing returning caskets of war dead; Radioactive fuel rods missing from Vermont nuclear power plant; Bench warrant pending for Michael Jackson after indictment yesterday; Records of adult video performers seized in the wake of HIV scare; Mom reunited with her children after abducted by their dad

Aired April 22, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Breaking news right now. An American court rules in favor of an accused terrorist. That is next on 360.


COOPER (voice-over): More terror chatter. The government's concerned about potential new threats.

Michael Jackson indicted as new details emerge about the crimes he's accused of committing.

As Iraq casualties mount is this something you should see? How a front page photo ended this woman's career.

Has California's porn investigation gone too far? They take the names of HIV-exposed stars and their confidential medical records.

And, a mother reunited with her kidnapped kids after six years of living on prayers and dreams.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.


COOPER: And we begin with breaking news. Just moments ago a federal appeals court ordered the case against Zacarias Moussaoui to proceed a key legal victory for federal prosecutors.

For more let's go live to Washington and CNN Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena. Kelli, what's the latest?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It was a mixed verdict. The appeals court has sided with the district court in saying that Zacarias Moussaoui should have access to detained al Qaeda operatives who he says can help clear him and it says that the government's proposal that defense lawyers only get written statements from those detainees is simply not acceptable. Now on those two points the government loses but the judges threw out sanctions against the government and they said that a compromise can be reached which would allow Moussaoui access to those detainees and take the government's concerns about national security into account so they sent the case back to the lower court to be worked out. Now all of this comes against the backdrop of warnings about possible new attacks on U.S. soil.


ARENA (voice-over): As al Qaeda or its associates are being blamed for the latest bombing in Riyadh, U.S. officials are becoming increasingly convinced another attack on U.S. soil could take place in the next few months.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: There is without a doubt in my mind a very serious level of activity of terrorism which concerns me greatly. We know that the terrorists have often sought symbolic targeting.

ARENA: Ashcroft's comments follow warnings from a myriad of officials from the president on down.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: I think we have to be concerned about the possibility of terrorism attacks between now and the fall. The attacks in Madrid just before the elections there we should and we certainly have noted and we believe al Qaeda has noted.

ARENA: What's more, terrorism analysts believe Islamic extremists are becoming more angry as the U.S. continues to fight for democracy in Iraq. Officials say there is no credible or specific information regarding an attack, no time, place or tactic, although there is speculative chatter to that effect.

REP. PORTER GOSS (R), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: We are going to be on our guard. It's going to make it harder for the terrorists but wherever they stick their heads up they know we're going to be ready to come and get them.


ARENA: On a more positive note, counterterrorism officials say that the public is very much on guard. They say that calls continue to come in from helpful citizens reporting what they believe is suspicious behavior -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, staying vigilant. Kelli Arena thanks.

Several developments in Iraq to tell you about tonight, Ba'ath Party scrubbed clean and the White House says it's tweaking its post war policy that blocks top members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party from Iraqi government and military positions.

Here you see some Ba'ath Party leaders from what they must consider the good old days. Paul Bremer, the civilian administrator in Iraq, says he hopes the change will convince Sunnis they are welcomed members of the political transition in Iraq.

Meanwhile in Basra, tears and anger, funerals were held for two school children killed in yesterday's suicide bombings. Coalition officials say it is too early to determine who was behind the attacks.

And, in Samara, three pipelines carrying crude oil caught on fire after being hit by rocket-propelled grenades.

Well, the caskets of soldiers killed in Iraq are appearing on the Internet breaking Pentagon policy of publishing the photos. It is sparking a debate over what the public should and should not see during wartime.

CNN's Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are pictures the Pentagon didn't want you to see, row on row of flag draped coffins on their final voyage home from Iraq.

The official Air Force photographs were taken for historical purposes and released to an anti-government secrecy website, the under the Freedom of Information Act.

That release is now under review because it conflicts with official Pentagon policy banning news media coverage of the return of military remains. To some that policy seems misguided.

BRYAN WHITMAN, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: The idea that they are essentially snuck back into the country under the cover of night so no one can see that their casket has arrived, I just think is wrong.

MCINTYRE: Since just before the 1991 Persian Gulf War with a few rare exceptions, the Pentagon has banned cameras at Dover Air Force Base or anyplace en route. Grave site coverage is permitted if the family agrees.

The Pentagon insists it's not trying to cover up the war's human cost but simply protecting the privacy of families and it has the support of the National Military Family Association.

In a statement, the organization says "there is no apparent consensus among families about the policy" and it believes "the current policy is sensitive to the needs of the families."

This picture published on the front page of "The Seattle Times" last Sunday showing more than 20 flag-draped coffins resulted in a contract worker losing her job. After e-mailing the picture, taken earlier this month, to a friend the woman was fired along with her husband for what the contractor says was a violation of government and company regulations.


MCINTYRE: The Pentagon says it has nothing to apologize for in trying to craft guidelines that balance the needs of the news media against the sensitivities of the families and the Pentagon spokesman tonight said the Pentagon has no plans to review the policy -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon thanks.

It is certainly a controversial issue. Keep in mind that images of war dead returning home had been part of the American landscape really since television came of age. During Vietnam those pictures were often cited as contributing to Americans turning against the war.

Here's a 360 "Fast Fact" for you. The Pentagon first banned the media from taking pictures of military caskets returning to Dover Air Force Base in 1991 during the first Gulf War right before it.

According to the Pentagon, a military wide ban was adopted during the last days of the Clinton administration in 2000. It appears to have been largely ignored and un-enforced but in 2003, on the eve of war with Iraq, the Bush administration issued a stern reminder of the policy.

And that leads us to today's "Buzz" question. What do you think should the Pentagon life the ban on pictures of military caskets arriving from Iraq? Log onto cast your vote. We're going to have results at the end of the program tonight.

Well, at a Vermont nuclear power plant two highly radioactive fuel rods are missing. Officials say it is unlikely they were stolen. If not, then where are they?

CNN's Dan Lothian has the story.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): It's a mystery of the Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in southeastern Vermont. Two pieces from a highly radioactive fuel rod, like these, are missing the discovery made during an inspection.

BOB WILLIAMS, VERMONT YANKEE SPOKESMAN: We're doing a full check of the spent fuel pool with underground cameras to thoroughly check all areas.

LOTHIAN: One piece is about the size of a pencil. The other is 17 inches long. They were supposed to be in a 40-foot deep spent fuel pool after being removed from a nuclear reactor here 25 years ago, so where are they?

CURT MEBERT, EXEC. VP, ENTERGY CORPORATION: They're either at the bottom at the pool or they're at one of two licensed facilities with an authorized move.

LOTHIAN: Officials insist security is too tight, the pool is too deep and the pieces are too dangerous to have been stolen but even if this is just an accounting problem, nuclear plant safety advocates say losing track of something so dangerous raises a lot of red flags, especially in post 9/11 America.

PAUL BLANCH, NUCLEAR POWER PLANT SAFETY ADVOCATE: I don't know whether this is in the hands of terrorists or not. I doubt it but without proper accounting and accountability and proper security of these nuclear power plants we can see how poorly this is being handled.

LOTHIAN: Vermont's governor wants answers.

GOV. TIM DOUGLAS, VERMONT: We expect the operators of the plant to keep track of their spent fuel rods and that's why we're going to investigate and find out what happened.

LOTHIAN (on camera): To do that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ordered a special inspection but the NRC says it's "highly improbable" that someone smuggled the material out of the plant, which by the way is shut down for refueling and maintenance.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


COOPER: We turn now to the Michael Jackson case. A bench warrant is pending tonight for the superstar following his indictment late yesterday but CNN has been told that Jackson will not be arrested unless he fails to appear in court next week on April 30th most likely. The indictment is sealed and tonight Jackson's defense team is saying he will be "fully exonerated."

Let's get more now from CNN's Miguel Marquez in Santa Barbara.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With an arrest warrant issued for Michael Jackson but not executed, will his arraignment on new charges in Santa Maria, California be anything like the last time?

Jackson indicted after a grand jury heard evidence and discussed charges for 13 days, 12 of the 19 grand jurors voting to indict Jackson on charges that may be similar to a criminal complaint already filed against the pop star, seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts against a minor under 14 and two counts of giving a minor an intoxicating agent.

STEVE BALASH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: When a criminal complaint is filed, that's an accusation. Now that he's been indicted that means there's been a finding of probable cause by the grand jury to believe that he probably committed the charges.

MARQUEZ: Steve Balash is a Santa Barbara defense attorney. He's represented clients charged by a grand jury. He says 13 days of grand jury material and Jackson's high profile legal team equals a trial date far in the future.

BALASH: I think we'll be doing motions for the next six or seven months.

MARQUEZ: Jackson lawyer Mark Geragos, working on his other high profile case, was mum on the pop star, the defense's only statement written and approved by the court because of a gag order.

It reads in part: "Mr. Jackson will be fully exonerated and the allegations contained in the indictment will be shown to be patently false."

Tom Sneddon, also obeying the court's gag order had nothing to say as he resumed his regular duties in court arguing a case other than Michael Jackson's.


MARQUEZ: Now, CNN has confirmed some details of the charges against Mr. Jackson. Stan Katz is a psychologist who testified before the grand jury and a source tells CNN that Katz interviewed both the current accuser and his younger brother in this case.

Among other things it was learned both boys allege that Mr. Jackson served them alcohol and the brother of the accuser alleged that Jackson touched his brother in a sexual way while the boy was asleep. Jackson's lawyers have called such accusations big lies -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Miguel thanks very much.

We're going to talk legal strategy on the Michael Jackson case a little later on 360 with "Court TV's" Lisa Bloom and criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub.

Meanwhile, the EPA holding to a tough line on air pollution that tops our look at stories "Cross Country."

In Washington, D.C., the EPA today decided not to temporarily ease air pollution rules blocking a chance for more gasoline imports to come into the U.S. Now large U.S. refiners were opposed to relaxing the pollution standards because they say they've already invested billions to meet the stricter sulfur rules.

Also in Washington today, Supreme Court tackles Maurice Claret (ph) denying an emergency appeal to permit the former Ohio State football star to enter this weekend's NFL draft. Two Justices Ginsberg and Stephens ruled against reversing a Federal Appeals Court decision.

Macon, Georgia now, 135 years for child molestation, Malachi York, messianic leader of a quasi-religious sect sentenced to prison for molesting boys and girls at the group's Egyptian-style compound. The so-called master teacher will also forfeit the nearly 500-acre compound replete with pyramids and a sphinx.

In Los Angeles, arrest in cop killing, a 16-year-old boy was arrested today for a shooting outside the Pomona County Courthouse. Police say the boy was bent on killing a police officer, any police officer. The highway patrolman who was shot several times in the upper body Wednesday died four hours later.

Riviera Beach, Florida, community fights gun violence. Polly Powell, the mother of Nathaniel Brazil (ph), a boy who killed his teacher, she is now passing out gun locks door to door. Her effort is connected to the federally-funded Project Child Safe. The locks put a metal cord through the empty gun chamber disabling the gun and that's a quick look at stories "Cross Country."

American hostages, you've seen their images broadcast all over TV, so what's it like for the families back home? We're going to talk to the mom of a former POW.

Plus, caught between the fury of the sea and the jungle how a routine trip turned into a harrowing tale of survival.

An HIV scare, adult film stars' medical records revealed, did public health officials cross the line, all that ahead.

First your pick of the most popular stories on right now.


COOPER: There is absolutely nothing titillating about the hot topic of conversation in the adult film industry right now. Two performers have reportedly tested positive for HIV and now dozens of their colleagues are awaiting word on whether they are infected as well. Public health experts are so concerned they're now pouring over private medical records.

CNN's Frank Buckley reports.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Southern California adult video producers remained under a voluntary shutdown of production, public health investigators were attempting to determine the extent of an HIV outbreak among performers.

NINA HARTLEY, ADULT VIDEO PERFORMER: Every industry has a level of risk and unfortunately in our industry this is one of the risk factors for making adult entertainment.

BUCKLEY: Armed with a public health order, investigators went to the offices of the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation or AIM where foundation officials say performers are tested once a month.

There they seized the records of at least 53 adult video performers who either had first or second generation sexual contact with the two performers who've tested positive for HIV. AIM officials said the move could drive some performers underground.

IRA LEVINE, ADULT FILM INDUSTRY, MEDICAL BOARD MEMBER: If performers do not feel safe to come in for testing fearing that their sensitive personal information will be subject to hostile bureaucratic scrutiny, they won't test. BUCKLEY: L.A. County Health Department officials believe, however, the positive HIV test results should force the adult video industry to adopt condoms only production standards.

PETER KERNOT, L.A. COUNTY DEPT. OF HEALTH SERVICES: The industry needs to become more legitimate and in so doing must adopt business practices that protect those that are employed in it.

BUCKLEY: Industry officials at this news conference agreed condoms should be used in production but they say forcing it as a regulation wouldn't work in this particular industry.

LEVINE: Which has some rather unusual characteristics one of which is a strong resistance to outside intervention particularly from governmental agencies.


BUCKLEY: But right now two government agencies are involved in investigating this situation, the L.A. County Department of Health and California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Investigators will determine the extent of the outbreak and then exactly under which conditions the outbreak took place. They say that their investigation could take six months. At the end of it they could mandate some change, Anderson.

Meanwhile, members of the adult video industry say they expect to resume what they call "normal operations," that is they'd be back into production by June 8th -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Frank Buckley thanks very much from L.A.

A catastrophe in North Korea tops our look at global news in tonight's "Up Link."

As many as 3,000 people were killed or injured when two trains hauling fuel collided inside a train station near the Chinese border. President Kim Jong-Il had just passed through about nine hours before. North Korean authorities declared a state of emergency.

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, a prison riot turns barbaric. Inmates are scaling walls to escape fellow prisoners who have been slaughtering their rivals during a violent revolt.

Tulkarm, West Bank, angry atmosphere, the Israeli Army says its troops shot and killed three wanted militants today tensions there still high following last weekend's assassination of a top Hamas leader.

In Beijing, China, SARS resurfaces. Two suspected cases being reported, including a Beijing hospital nurse and someone in eastern China. The respiratory ailment hasn't been seen in either region since last July.

London, England now, the tabloids take offense, newspapers expressing outrage over CBS' decision to show pictures of the dying Princess Diana taken right after her fatal car crash. The network says the images were relevant to its reporting about the medical treatment the princess perceived at the scene of the accident.

Well, it is often the case in this business that the tales you tell about the stories you cover are more interesting than the stories themselves. Most of the time those tales don't make it on TV but this next one we thought worth telling.

This is what happened when we sent Harris Whitbeck out to cover a story in the Amazon.


HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be a routine hour-long boat trip on Brazil's (unintelligible) river but 15 minutes into the trip we lost our motor.

One satellite phone, three journalists and a local boatsman adrift on a piranha infested fast-moving river headed straight for the river's mouth and the angry Atlantic Ocean beyond.

We made a call for help and began paddling against the strong currents trying to get the boat to shore before we were swept out to sea or engulfed by the twice daily tidal wave known as the (unintelligible).

The hours passed. Desperation was setting in. Suddenly, a dug out canoe under a makeshift sail approached. Three men and a boy had seen us and had come to offer help. Eventually we got to the river shallows, abandoned our boat and waded toward shore as darkness fell.

But the mighty shoreline was nearly impossible to navigate, land inviting from afar was infested with snakes but we felt we had no options caught between the fury of the sea and the menace of the jungle.

Then a light in the distance, a rescue boat had found us. Rescuers took us to a farmhouse on the shore to await the passing of the river's legendary tidal wave where from a distance we watched the powerful waves that could have swept us away.

Hours later safe on a government plane headed home, we reflected on the dangerous fury of the river and the strange attraction danger can hold.


COOPER: I'm not sure Harris thought it was worth it but tomorrow night we'll have the story that he was originally sent out to cover.

Well coming up kidnapping reunion, an older sister leads her siblings back home to America after being kidnapped for nearly seven years. Their mom and a detective who would not give up on the case join us live. Also tonight, a bench warrant pending for Michael Jackson but the key witnesses in the case are under age. Our legal experts square off on how reliable their testimony may be.

And a little later, beer belly or big fat lie, the battle over the South Beach Diet, stay with us.


COOPER: From California tonight an extraordinary story of a mother's reunion with her children. The last time Abbe Cavender Crone saw her three kids was in 1997. There's a picture.

Their father, Abbe's ex-husband, picked them up from school but instead of taking them home he took them to Costa Rica where they lived in secret for almost seven years. A reunion was finally set in motion when the oldest child, now 18, walked into the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica and said I want to go home.

Joining us now in San Diego is Abbe Cavender Crone along with detective Michele Bustamante who worked for years to help reunite the family. I'm really glad you're both with us tonight. Thanks very much for being with us.

Abbe, it's been over six years since you last saw your children. They're now teenagers. Can you describe what it was like actually seeing them again for the first time?

ABBE CAVENDER CRONE, REUNITED WITH HER CHILDREN: I was just very grateful to know that they were healthy, happy.

COOPER: Did they look much different than you thought they were going to look?

CRONE: Not really, big versions of their old selves.

COOPER: How do you go about trying to rebuild or make up for all that lost time?

CRONE: Well you really can't make up for the lost time. I mean you've lost it. I'm just hoping that I have the opportunity to spend as much time as possible with them as they grow up and hopefully continue their education and go on to their own lives.

COOPER: And how did you get through all those years? I mean you prayed a lot didn't you?

CRONE: Well, I like to say I drilled on my pillow for about the first year and a half but then I said I can't be doing that when they come back so I need to get it together so I can help them when they get back and I did that for a few years, about five years.

I kept a home for them and I did lose hope about a year ago and I've been struggling. Just the help of friends and family, people like Detective Bustamante who would call me and say, you know, get out of bed. I got to talk to you. COOPER: Well, I want to ask the detective about that. Detective, you've been on this case now this entire time. You know it wasn't a high profile thing. There was really no glory in it for you. What kept you so doggedly on this case?

MICHELE BUSTAMANTE, DETECTIVE, SAN DIEGO CO.: Well, this was an investigation done by three agencies, LAPD, the San Diego County District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit and then I got the third leg of it and LAPD finished up their case. The DA's child abduction was sort of in the middle of theirs and when I started mine the big quest was to find Glen Margolis and I just didn't give up.

I'm looking for a suspect in my case and I just kept digging and digging and digging and the more I digged and the more researches that I found I just kept on going and I just kept with it.

COOPER: And Glen he's missing still. He's on the run. Do you have any sense of where he is, where he may be heading?

BUSTAMANTE: Right now we know that he was in Costa Rica. We anticipate that he may be going back and forth between Costa Rica and the island of Martinique since it's a French territory but we don't know that for sure but that's our latest intelligence.

COOPER: And Martinique doesn't have extradition is that correct?

BUSTAMANTE: That's correct.

COOPER: That's a big problem there. Abbe, I know, as you mentioned, you've had a lot of tough times, especially in the last year. You lost your home. How do you go about rebuilding your family? I mean what do you want to happen now? Are you going to try to get another home, try to -- so you can all at least live together?

CRONE: Absolutely. It's a case of really not having anything to live for almost when I had centered my whole life around my children and my family and working to give them what they want and need.

Now I have that back. My daughter has done some modeling. She's interested in pursuing her education and a career. My son Carl is interested in bodybuilding and feels like he's been on a six year summer vacation so he wants to go to school and make friends and be at least average and sort of normal.

COOPER: Returning to normal life. I definitely know it's not going to be an easy thing. Abbe Cavender Crone, I wish you the best of luck. I know you've had a really tough time and I appreciate you talking about it. And Detective Bustamante, amazing work. Thank you very much for being with us.

Well, happy reunions are also wanted by those with loved ones held hostage in Iraq. Just ahead, the mother of a former P.O.W. shares how she dealt with waiting and wondering.

Plus, he said, he said: Michael Jackson indicted on the word of children, but will their testimony stand up in court? Our legal experts square off.

Also coming up: beer belly battle. What really causes that sagging gut. Find out why one company has taken on the South Beach Diet. Be right back.


COOPER: Take a look at our top stories in tonight's "Reset." In Florida and Iowa, the presidential race is tight, indeed. Polls released today put President Bush and John Kerry in a statistical dead heat hovering at 45 to 47 percent of respondents.

In Washington, D.C., eyeballing doomsday. The House of Representatives today, passed a bill requiring special elections in 45 days if more than 100 of its members were killed suddenly. The legislation spurred by the September 11 attacks would ensure the House could go on despite the losses.

Also in Washington, Zacarias Moussaoui: case moves forward. A federal appeals court today ruled that the only U.S. defendant charged as a 9/11 conspirator will have access to evidence. The judge will have to compromise with the government. Moussaoui likely will get written statements from other terror suspects, not the direct questioning that he himself wanted.

And on the health front: smoking and cancer. African-American men suffer much higher rates of cancer than white men in America. But a new study says the disparity would disappear if African-Americans would stop smoking.

Washington, D.C.: diabetic link. U.S. researchers analyzed 100 years of data and now link the sudden spike in Type II diabetes in the past two decades to corn syrup and other refined foods. Corn refiners call the report misleading, saying diabetes also went up in countries that do not use corn syrup.

And in "Justice Served" tonight the Michael Jackson indictment. The case may eventually come down to testimony from his accuser, a 14- year-old boy who claims he was sexually molested by the superstar when he was 12 as well as the boy's 9-year-old brother. But as legal history shows, when a child takes the stands both sides better be ready for anything. CNN's Jason Carroll looks back.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Michael Jackson case may depend on how believable his accuser is on the stand. But when children testify, it presents challenges for the defense, and the prosecution.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Children are different. They are not better or worse for either side. They're simply different kinds of witnesses, and both sides have to adjust accordingly.

CARROLL: Different, in that legal experts say most often children appear sympathetic to jurors. Another concern for the defense, a child's perception of the truth.

SCOTT GREENFIELD, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: More often than not, children will perceive the truth that pleases the adults, the authority figures, their parents around them.

CARROLL: That can skew their sense of the truth, making their testimony unpredictable. Take the McMartin preschool trial in California in the 1980s, one of the longest and costliest in history. Nine children accused the school's owner, her son and several other teachers of molesting them. Many of the charges of molestation, Satanic rituals and animal torture were never substantiated.

Some jurors said it appeared the accusers were coached into giving answers. No one was convicted.

Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro says in most cases, children do tell the truth. But she says attorneys should be careful how they get a child to say it.

JEANINE PIRRO, WESTCHESTER COUNTY, DA: There is a very fine line between leading and coaching a child, and having a child come into court and spontaneously say what happened. And we as prosecutors walk that line all the time.

CAROLL (on camera): A point where prosecutors and defense attorneys agree, children are wild cards in the courtroom. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


COOPER: And covering the case for us tonight, Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom, who we should note, worked for a law firm that briefly represented the 1993 accuser of Michael Jackson. And criminal defense attorney Janie Weintraub. Appreciate both of you being on the program. Janie, thanks. Please be good.

Now the alleged victim was 12 years old. His brother 9 years old. It may boil down to Jackson said versus what they said. Who did jurors tend to believe in your experience?

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: It all depends on all the surrounding circumstances. I think that jurors are sympathetic to children on the stand. But children are a diverse group, just like adults are. There are children who are shy. There are children who are more outgoing.

I represented a lot of children in child sexual abuse cases. They're often very shy on the stand. It's very uncomfortable situation being in a courtroom with a judge, and a jury, and all of these strange rules and strange legal jargon. They tend to clam up and it's hard to draw them out sometimes.

COOPER: Jayne, you think this case is not going to boil down to the kids. It's more going to revolve around the children's mother.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I do because she is the No. 1 coach here. And Anderson, let's not forget here... COOPER: You think she's coaching them?

WEINTRAUB: I do think she's coaching them. I think she's coached them before in the previous lawsuit as alleged by the father. I think that the money aspect of this case is so great and large it's a brass ring for the mother. I think she's made that very clear.

These kids are not babies. 14 years old is pretty well-developed already. This is a junior high school kid.

BLOOM: You know it amazes me how people just pick up on the prior lawsuit, which I've examined in some depth. They got $135,000 from JC Penney. That's not a frivolous case, that's a very substantive award for some serious injuries that were documented in that case. The father confessed physical abuser...

WEINTRAUB: The problem is that the father said that the mother made the kids lie.

BLOOM: Why would you listen to anything that he said? The mother hasn't been accused of any crime. The court found in her favor in the only action in which she was involved. And yet she gets slammed and vilified by the defense. She never asked for a dime in this case.

COOPER: Jayne, how would you...

BLOOM: Lisa, your a mother, and when your child...

COOPER: How would you go about defending Michael Jackson, Jayne?

WEINTRAUB: I think that it's very important to bring out the mother's bias. I think it's also very important to bring out that these children A, told family services in the privacy of their home there was no molestation. They repeatedly went to his home. There was no injury. I would also remind everybody that the mother in this case, hearing supposedly that her child was molested doesn't call the pediatrician, doesn't call the therapist, the counselor, she calls a lawyer who happened to have sued Michael Jackson for gazillions of dollars years ago who tells her go to a therapist. That's the move to make now. Come on, Anderson. Come on, Lisa. Smell the roses. Because a jury is going to hear all of this.

COOPER: Very briefly...

BLOOM: I was that lawyer, Anderson, who got those calls for many years from mothers who were distraught, who didn't know what to do when their children reported molestation. They call someone they think that can help them, they think that they can trust. I think that may be what happened here.

COOPER: All right. Lisa Bloom from Court TV, thanks very much. Jayne Weintraub, always good to have you on the program. Thanks, Jayne.

WEINTRAUB: My pleasure.

COOPER: In case you didn't already know, today is Earth Day. For the past 34 years a day dedicated to saving the planet and fighting pollution. The environment has largely been a back burner issue in this presidential campaign. But today President Bush and Senator Kerry thought it prudent to promote their green agendas. But as we found out today talking clean air can be dirty business in raw politics. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): To talk about the environment, President Bush traveled to coastal Maine.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a day that reminds us that we must be good stewards of the land around us.

COOPER: John Kerry flew to smoggy Houston.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to set a goal that by the year 2020, 20 percent of America's electricity is going to be produced by alternative and renewable sources.

COOPER: Yet at the end of this earth day, these nice green words went up in smoke. Literally. Take a look. To reach Wells National Reserve in Maine, President Bush rode on Marine One, from the White House south lawn to Andrews Air Force Base. The ten-mile trip burned up an estimated 16 gallons of fuel. He then flew on Air Force One to Sanford, Maine. That's another 882 gallons according to our estimate. Now double that for the return trip. Also add the 2.5 gallons he used to drive 30 miles in an SUV. In all, his 20-minute long speech to shore up efforts to expand wetlands cost about 1,800 gallons of fuel. What about John Kerry?

KERRY: You see these signs...

COOPER: He flew on a Boeing 727 from New Orleans to Houston. That's an estimated 1,000 gallons of fuel. Flying back to Washington, D.C. gobbles an estimated 4,000 gallons. He rode approximately 58 miles in an SUV, that's about 5 gallons. In all his 30-minute long Earth Day speech consumed some 5,000 gallons of fuel. And that's not all.

Don't forget the dozens of aides, Secret Service, local police and press corps that follow the candidates around. Today, Kerry's motorcade in Houston was about 15 cars long. Funny, isn't it? In the world of raw politics talking green certainly does require a lot of gas.


COOPER: Certainly does. Coming up, held hostage in Iraq. What's it like for the families? The mother of former P.O.W. Ron Young shares the hope and heartache she faced while waiting and wondering.

Also tonight, lose weight with beer? How one beer maker is working hard to have its brew included in the South Beach Diet.


COOPER: Held hostage in Iraq. Over the past couple of weeks about 50 foreigners have been abducted by Iraqi insurgents. Most have been released unharmed as in the case of two Swissmen and a Palestinian just today. But many others including at least two Americans are still being held against their will. How do the families cope with waiting and wondering? Joining me now from Atlanta, Georgia, a mother who has been there, Kaye Young. Her son Ron Young Jr. is a former prisoner of war. Kaye, it's good to have you on the program. When you saw those new pictures of Private Maupin and Thomas Hamill who have been taken hostage in Iraq, what went through your mind?

KAYE YOUNG, MOTHER OF FMR. P.O.W. RON YOUNG: It brought back so many memories of -- when I saw the ribbons going up, the prayer vigil, the families. You know, I just know what they're going through. How heartbroken they are. It's just a terrible thing.

COOPER: When your son was held hostage, prisoner of war, and you saw that videotape for the first time, was it -- did it help seeing the videotape or did it make it worse?

YOUNG: You know when they first brought the videotape to the house, Susan Candiotti asked me if I would like to see a picture of my son as a P.O.W., instead of M.I.A., proof that he was a P.O.W. And I said, no. I don't want to see it. And my husband said, yes, I do. I left the room, and they showed it to the people in the room. And then they came back and asked me, didn't I want to see it? Wouldn't that be better than seeing it on television? So I agreed. And when I looked at him, and he looked strong, he looked angry, it really did me a lot of good to see it.

COOPER: Probably the one time you were happy to see him look angry.


COOPER: What's your advice to the other families out there? Because there are a lot of families right now going through this very same thing. How'd you get through it?

YOUNG: You know. I had cried all day long at the thought of seeing my son's picture on television. The tickertape going across. And I felt like I couldn't stand it. When I actually saw him, it did give me more peace. But I don't know that anything is going to help the families right now except just prayer and knowing that America's praying for their sons and husbands and fathers, and that that's about all you can do.

I know one thing that really helped me was one night an Iraqi man came to my door and he said, "would you like to -- he said, "I would like to see -- to talk to you" and he threw his arms around my neck and he started crying. He said there are those over there that will help your son. And he said, "everybody over there is not like those people." And you know, they did. And they will help their people, too.

COOPER: Kaye Young, it's nice to actually see you. I've talked to your son before. I appreciate you being on the program. Our thoughts and our prayers also go out to the families of Private Maupin and Thomas Hamill as well.

YOUNG: They certainly do.

COOPER: Thanks very much.

Coming up, should beer drinking be part of a weight loss plan? Coming up, why the king of beers want its brew included in the South Beach diet. And a little later, James Gandolfini gets honored for being a real wise guy. That's ahead in the current.


COOPER: A beer brawl is brewing between Anheuser-Busch and the doctor who created the South Beach Diet. The beer maker is furious over the doc's claim that the brew is off tap for dieters. Now, in the interest of full disclosure we should say that the beer company is one of our sponsors, but it is a story we would have done nonetheless.

Here's CNN's John Zarrella.


JOHN ZARRELLA: You'd like a cold one. But, you're on a diet. Don't worry, says Anheuser-Busch. The nation's largest beer maker is charging that the mega popular South Beach Diet book is flatly misleading when it comes to beer.

FRANCINE KATZ, ANHEUSER-BUSCH: We realize that the South Beach diet has helped many people lose weight. But it doesn't change the fact that Dr. Atkinson's advice about beer is absolutely wrong.

ZARRELLA: In the book, author Dr. Arthur Atkinson writes, "Maltose, the sugar in beer has a higher glycemia index than white bread. The insulin response to it leads to the fat storage in the abdomen that we call, quite accurately, the beer belly. Anheuser- Busch representatives holding a news conference in, of all places, South Beach, said the beer belly isn't caused by Maltose because, there isn't any maltose in beer.

DOUGH MUHLEMAN, CHIEF BREWMASTER: Yeast consumes the maltose converting it to alcohol and carbon dioxide, leaving no maltose behind.

ZARRELLA: The South Beach Diet doctor told the south Florida, "Sun Sentinel." he's willing to do more research on that point but remains convinced that "beer is fattening." Anheuser Busch unveiled an ad that will appear Friday in more than 30 newspapers. The ad reads, have a beer with your South Beach Diet. Company officials say they are going public because they can't let misstatements go unchallenged. The beer maker's message to consumers? There's nothing wrong with bellying up to the bar, as long as it's done in moderation. John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


DOBBS: Time to check on some lighter news in tonight's current.

Lets take a look, James Gandolfini is being inducted into his college's hall of fame. Rutgers has decided to honor the "Soprano" star for being a great actor, a great talent, and for stopping Pauli Walnuts from shacking down students.

News of Michael Jackson's indictment has TV executives scrambling to book those close to him. We hear Animal Planet has offered a bunch of bananas for an exclusive with Bubbles.

And there's a new fitness craze that is hitting the U.S., punk rock aerobics. Check out this exercise group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Instead of stepping, they're moshing and thrashing. Participants say it's a great way to combine their love of punk rock with working out. Joey Ramone would not be happy.

In New York today the Queen Mary 2 sailed into the harbor, an end to her maiden voyage. Her arrival was hard to miss. It's a big ship, no doubt about it. But the coverage was even bigger, reaching new heights in oceanic "Overkill."


COOPER (voice-over): Sail aside all you lesser ships and make way for the new queen. The Queen Mary 2 sailed up the Hudson to dock at her us home port and the media didn't miss a minute.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: The Queen Mary 2 docking on Manhattan's West Side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Katie, you're going to love when you come on board this ship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, the Queen Mary 2 actually crossed the Atlantic in January.

COOPER: Why all the hoopla? Well she is the tallest, longest widest, heaviest and at $800 million, the most expensive passenger ship ever built. And she made it port to port through stormy weather in just six days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iceberg right ahead!

COOPER: Remember, it was only 92 years and 8 days since another canard ship didn't quite make it into New York harbor. Cruise ships have always been play grounds on the high seas. But really how much do you need for a six-day crossing? Well, if it's a canyon ranch spa, 10 dining venues, a planetarium, the biggest ballroom at sea, a two story theater, a casino, the largest wine collection at sea, and real British nannies to keep an eye on the kids, then climb aboard. The top price for a berth on the QM2 is $27,000 per person per crossing, including the butler. Cruise ships once designed to take us back to slower, more elegant times, are now ocean-going versions of Vegas looking to capture our attention. Swimming in glitz and drowning in "Overkill."

I'm a land lover.

Anyway's you've heard of vanity plates, what about vanity money?

We're going to take that cha-ching idea to "The Nth Degree," just ahead.

First today's "Buzz." Should the Pentagon lift the ban on pictures of military caskets arriving from Iraq?

Log onto Cast your vote, the results in just a few minutes.


COOPER: All right, time now for "The Buzz." Earlier we asked, should the Pentagon lift the ban on pictures of military caskets arriving from Iraq. More than 10,000 of you voted. Seventy percent of you said yes, 30 percent said, no. Not a scientific poll, but it is your "Buzz."

Tonight taking the brain storm to "The Nth Degree." Boy, oh, boy we sure hope someone in a position of authority is watching tonight, because we've got a really good revenue raising idea for the government. To give credit where credit is due what started us thinking was this. A Web site for a commemorative New York state A- Rod quarter, legal tender mind you. On sale for only $9.95. Just a little less than 40 times its face value. Then it came to us, people pay extra for vanity license plates, don't they?

So why not vanity money?

How much would Bill Gates pay to be on a quarter?

What about Madonna?

There would be no shame in being small change. Michael Jackson on a nickel. Five of him to one bill gates. Donald trump would look good on a dime though there might not be room enough for his hair. Bob Woodward's got the necessary chiseled good looks. Really, the sky is the limit. Me, no really I couldn't. Besides I get to put my two cents in every night right here.

I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching. Coming up next "PAULA ZAHN NOW."


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