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Michael Jackson Ailing; More Arrests in Aruba; Stomach Surgery for Weightloss; Breast-feeding in Public; Missing in Mexico

Aired June 9, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening, everyone.
Michael Jackson makes another visit to the hospital. Are his ailments for real, or is this an attempt to influence the jury?

360 starts now.

Michael Jackson's jury still deliberating, still unsequestered. Are his frequent trips to the hospital an attempt to build sympathy with the jurors? Tonight, the latest from the courthouse and the media circus surrounding the case.

Aruba police arrest three more in the case of Natalee Holloway. But where is the missing American teen? Tonight, what evidence do Aruba's police really have? And what role does race play in these arrests?

Another American woman goes missing after a night on the town, this time in Mexico. Tonight, why one family searching for their missing daughter isn't getting the help they need from police.

She went from a size 24 to a zero after going under the knife. Tonight, one woman's drastic weight loss and the surprising impact it had on her life.

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

COOPER: And good evening to you.

We begin tonight with the most well-known celebrity on the planet -- Michael Jackson -- and the 12 completely unknown Americans who are now deliberating his future. No verdict yet today. The jury is gone for the day. There they are in that white van leaving. Truth be told, they only put in a couple of hours work today. Day six of deliberations tomorrow.

Michael Jackson was in the hospital again late last night -- his trips raising eyebrows and concerns about his health and his ability to influence the jury. They are not sequestered.

CNN's Rusty Dornin is live outside the court in Santa Maria, California.

Rusty. RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you have to wonder. Of course, the jury has been instructed by the judge not to listen to any press reports. But you have to wonder whether they've heard anything about all of these visits. He of course, did have one before the jury was actually -- began, or before the trial began in January, when he went for flu-like symptoms. But the other four times have all been for his back.

Now, could it be stress? Some say that it is the stress of this trial. Others say that it truly is back problems -- that he has suffered from back problems ever since a fall off a stage in Germany in 1994.

Meantime, of course, you have to wonder whether the jury is being influenced by this or is gaining any kind of sympathy for these visits to the hospital.

And of course, very uneventful around the courthouse today, after defense attorney Thomas Mesereau instructed anyone who was not authorized not to give press conferences or speak on behalf of Michael Jackson. The people who have been, including his representative Raymone Bain, and of course Reverend Jesse Jackson, both saying they didn't believe that that statement applied to them.

The jury is back here at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Of course, Friday always raising eyebrows. People always expecting something to happen on a Friday, some kind of decision. But we really have no indication that that will happen.


COOPER: And how long -- the jury only worked a couple of hours today.

Why so short?

DORNIN: Well, they had -- a couple of them there, there are several parents among the jurors, apparently had graduation ceremonies. They had arranged this previously, but it was only announced to us yesterday. They only deliberated for two-and-a-half hours and got the rest of the afternoon off.

COOPER: All right, Rusty Dornin. We're going to join you a little bit later on in the program to take a sort of a look at the bizarre circus which is now surrounding this trial. In fact, one of the fans that we introduced you to a couple days ago, for those of you who may remember, has now had a restraining order placed against him. We'll talk to Rusty about that and find out why.

Jackson faces 10 felony counts, of course. And if he's convicted of the most serious ones, he could be sent to a California prison with a notorious reputation.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer takes look behind the walls of the California State Prison at Corcoran.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It sits in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, California's vast agricultural heartland. Built as a model for a state-of-the-art corrections facilities, it's also trying to repair a reputation for violence and alleged inmate abuse.

This is the California state prison at Corcoran. Completed in 1998, it was designed to house just under 3,000 inmates in a sprawling 900 acre complex. But the state's own latest statistics show Corcoran is now almost 2,000 prisoners over capacity. Among its most notorious inmates, serial killer Charles Manson and Robert Kennedy's killer, Sirhan Sirhan.

If Michael Jackson is convicted and sent here, he faces a grim and possibly dangerous future. He would almost certainly be assigned to the Corcoran Protective Housing Unit, designed to shield a small number of prisoners who might be targeted for violence by other inmates. Jackson, not only for his fame, but also because of the allegations against him. Even among the most hardened inmates, child molestation is seen as abominable and those convicted of it often are singled out for attack.

Jackson's cell, like those of all inmates, would be Spartan, with a concrete bed topped by a thin mattress. His interactions with follow prisoners could be extremely limited, his experience close to solitary confinement.

Corcoran was thrust into the headlines in 1998 when four corrections officers were accused of arranging the rape of one prisoner by another. Two years later, allegations that other officers set up gladiator style fights between rival inmates, during which some prisoners were shot by guards. Both cases ended in acquittal, with prison officers refusing to speak against their accused colleagues and prosecutors unable to crack the wall of silence.

CNN contacted the California Department of Corrections. A spokesman tells us, in the wake of those cases, the department has standardized and codified policies for the use of force by officers and all of the department's 49,000 employees were trained in the new policies.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, we're going to have more on the Jackson trial and the circus surrounding it later on 360.

But next, new arrests in the case of a missing student in Aruba. What about those two men already in custody? Did police get it wrong? Or did race color their judgment?

Also ahead tonight, slimming down with some drastic measures. You're going to meet this woman, a former police officer, who went from size 24 to size zero. There she is. Find out how surgery helped her lose the weight and change her life in some unexpected ways, part of our special series on dieting, "Choose to Lose".

Also ahead tonight, bracing for the first big storm of the season. Tropical Storm Arlene possibly headed for the Gulf Coast. Find out when it is expected to make landfill and how bad Arlene is going to be.

All that ahead.

First, your picks -- the most popular stories on right now.


COOPER: More arrests in the case of a student gone missing in Aruba. Did police get it wrong the first time around?

360 next.


COOPER: The latest on the search for Natalee Holloway, missing on the island of Aruba. There are now five men in custody in Aruba, where Natalee vanished 10 days ago. Three suspects were arrested today, but two had already been detained, so it might mean that police have a number of leads or they're simply fishing around. The very many people of Aruba who continue desperately searching for Natalee Holloway still have nothing at all, however, nothing but hope.

CNN's Karl Penhaul reports on today's developments.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In handcuffs, a towel draped over his head, this is one of three new suspects police arrested in the hunt for Natalee Holloway. In total, five men are now in custody, but there's no sign of the missing teenager, no clue whether she's alive or dead.

KARIN JANSSEN, CHIEF PROSECUTOR: At this stage, we can't say what we are presuming at this moment. We have too little details to say. All options are open.

PENHAUL: Natalee drove away from Carlos 'n Charlie's bar in the nether hours of May 30 with the three teenagers now held in police cells, according to their own statements. Police said she had met 17- year-old Joran Van Der Sloot, the son of an island justice official, at the Holiday Inn where Natalee was staying a day before she disappeared.

JAN VAN DER STRATEN, CHIEF POLICE COMMISSIONER: And they meet each other in the casino.

QUESTION: That day or...


VAN DER STRATEN: The day before.

PENHAUL: The two other men detained Thursday are brothers, Satish and Deepak Kaploe. There's been no statement yet on their behalf. The other suspects, detained at the weekend, are security guards. Their defense attorneys insist they had nothing to do with Natalee's disappearance. Police previously interviewed the teenagers, but waited until Thursday, 11 days after Natalee's disappearance, to arrest them. They confiscated property, including a car and a computer.

JANSSEN: It is because of tactical reasons we didn't do that at another moment.

PENHAUL: Relative to the first two suspects fear wealth and race issues may cloud the investigation.

ALVIN CORNET, COUSIN OF SUSPECT: And it's on something about money-wise who is rich and who is poor.

PENHAUL: That's Mickey John, one of the first two suspects detained, from a black immigrant family from the poorer East End of Aruba. That's Van Der Sloot, from an influential family from the richer West End.

Prosecutors say evidence, not prejudice, will be the key.

JANSSEN: Suspicion of a suspect has nothing to do with the color of his skin. It has to do with the results of the investigation, if there are grounds for suspicion.


PENHAUL: The investigation is that much tougher because, as prosecutors say there, all scenarios are still open. What prosecutors have also told us is that they're in touch with colleagues in a police force on mainland South America, a short distance away, to see if there's any chance Natalee was headed there.


COOPER: So, Karl, it seems they're able to hold just about anybody they want on Aruba without actually bringing charges.

I mean how long can they hold -- they now have five people. How long can they hold them for?

PENHAUL: Dutch law is very different from U.S. law. There are formal accusations, at least against the first two that were arrested over the weekend. But they will be held, the first two will be held for another week. And after that, they can also be held for another 10 days. If they're then charged, formally charged, they can be held for up to 116 days before the trial date.


COOPER: And the idea that race played a role, perhaps, in the arrest of these two poorer men first and then these three, I guess, wealthy or more connected men later on, how widespread is that belief on Aruba?

PENHAUL: Particularly down at the eastern end of the island, which tends to be the poorer, industrial side of the island, people there are voicing that claim. They don't think that the people from their town have been treated the same as the other suspects. Typically though, on Aruba, people have tried to live side by side, whether they're locals, incomers, immigrants. But this is bringing to the fore some of those underlying tensions.


COOPER: All right, we'll look more into that in the next couple of days.

Karl Penhaul, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Coming up next, a lot of news.

But first, let's go to Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS, following a couple of other stories for us tonight.

Hey, Erica.


We start off in Berlin, where an appeals court upholds an acquittal for this Moroccan man, the man you're about to see. There he is. He's accused of helping the September 11 hijackers. Authorities, though, say the man is still a threat and will be expelled from Germany within two weeks.

In Los Angeles County, 13 sheriff's deputies disciplined for a controversial shooting. Now you may remember this one. Last month in Compton during a 12-minute chase, more than 120 rounds of ammo were fired at a vehicle driven by an unarmed suspect. The driver was shot four times, but did survive. The punishments for the deputies ranged from written reprimands to 15-day suspensions. The department has also changed its policies on firing at vehicles. The deputies no longer firing collectively at a single command.

Across America, Latinos are the fastest growing minority, accounting for one out of every seven people in the U.S. The Census Bureau estimates there are more than 41 million Latinos living in the U.S.

And just nine days into the Atlantic hurricane season, and we've got a tropical storm on the move. Right now Arlene, as you can see there, just about 115 miles off the coast of western Cuba. It is packing 40 mile an hour winds at this point, dumping heavy rains. Forecasters say the storm could get more powerful. It could also threaten the Gulf Coast of the U.S. as early as the weekend.

Be sure to stay with CNN for the very latest on this storm. And let's hope it's not too nasty.

COOPER: Have you ever been in a hurricane, Erica? HILL: You know, I haven't. I was a little jealous of you last year because I'm hanging on, you know...

COOPER: Well, let me tell you -

HILL: Yes!

COOPER: Let me tell you, I'm...

HILL: The seasoned hurricane reporter.

COOPER: I know. I've been in four hurricanes. I'll give you some pointers.

HILL: Back in my day.

COOPER: Goodness.


COOPER: I look forward to becoming a blowhard.

Erica, thanks very much. See you again in about 30 minutes.

Coming up next on 360, extreme weight loss. A former cop goes under the knife to take off the weight. Can I say that on TV? Am I allowed to say that? I think so. I hope so. Find out how it changed her life for better and for worse. An interesting perspective on weight loss, part of our special series on dieting.

Also ahead tonight, kidnapped across the border. A young woman vanishes and her family hits an international stone wall. They had to go down to Mexico to try to find her themselves. It's a fascinating tale. You won't believe what they found in the police parking lot. The question is, is corruption and the drug trade to blame?

Plus, the circus outside the Michael Jackson trial. Yes, maybe you've heard there's a circus going on outside. We're going to take you inside the media and fan madness. One fan even got a restraining order put up against him today. We'll tell you why. We're covering all the angles.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, all this week we're taking time to look at some of the inspiring stories of people who've lost a lot of weight through some very unusual means. Last night we looked at faith-based diets. Tonight, a woman who felt she had no other choice but to go under the knife to lose weight.

Now, last year, more than 140,000 people in the U.S. underwent this kind of surgery, this weight loss surgery. It is dangerous, certainly. It can even be deadly in some cases. But for some people, they say it is the only choice they've got. They say diets didn't work, exercise alone couldn't do it. They needed the surgery.

As we continue our series, "Choose to Lose", CNN's Adaora Udoji introduces us to one woman who lost the weight, but whose life changed in some surprising ways.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four years ago, Lisa Sohr had little to celebrate at this birthday party.


UDOJI: She weighed 236 pounds and could barely walk without a cane.

L. SOHR: I was 33 years old, or I had just turned 33 years old. And I couldn't move. I was crawling up the stairs.

UDOJI: Even more incredible because she was once a New York City cop, an athletic woman who loved action. Ironically, she put on weight because of her job.

L. SOHR: I had a tussle with a burglar who kind of went through me like I wasn't there at 130 pounds. I got teased mercilessly for it.

UDOJI: She bulked up from 130 to 150 pounds. Then, she got hit by a car on the job and suffered other injuries. They led to at least half a dozen surgeries and painful recuperations. She was forced to retire from the job she loved. The pounds kept piling up.

L. SOHR: I didn't actually go out into public. I was very content to stay in the shelter of the house and be a hermit.

UDOJI: Then came arthritis in both knees, a painful herniated disc in her back. She tried every diet, every workout regime. Nothing worked. Focusing on her father, who she followed into the NYPD and who died morbidly obese at just 51, she found the strength to make changes.

L. SOHR: I knew exactly where my life was going and I knew if I didn't do something drastic, I was going to die.

UDOJI: That radical something was laparoscopic gastric band surgery. Doctors inserted a band around her stomach, creating a small pouch, limiting how much food she could eat, a less invasive surgery than gastric bypass, where doctors remove part of a patient's stomach.

She suffered no side effects. The weight melted off dramatically -- within six months, 50 pounds lost. In a year, 100 pounds. She went from a size 24 to a size zero.

L. SOHR: I was so excited.

UDOJI: But her surgeon, Dr. Nick Gabriel, thought 106 pounds was too thin, so Lisa gained a few pounds back, moving to a size four. He says she was a model patient. DR. NICK GABRIEL, ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL: When I first met Lisa about two-and-a-half years ago, you know, she challenged me. And I was just going with the statistics, telling her, you know, it's very difficult to lose 100 percent. And she told me well, I'm going to lose it all.

UDOJI: He also says often people think their lives will be perfect after they lose the weight, automatic happiness. They don't realize, he says, there's always a risk with surgery, and even when successful, the changes are life altering.

L. SOHR: Hey, what's up?

GABRIEL: There is always new issues to deal with at every level, you know -- people that you live with, people that you work with, your spouses or significant others, your children, even. All these things are going to be affected somehow, some way.

UDOJI: It changed Lisa's life in good ways and bad. Her social life blossomed. She started playing darts again, made new friends. But her marriage crumbled. Her ex, she said, wasn't used to her being out and about.

L. SOHR: We had already had a lot of problems, a lack of communication. And it just kind of took a bad situation and made it worse.

UDOJI: But she also found new pleasures in every day life, like vacations. During a trip to Florida, she met a new man, Bari, when buying her first bikini.

BARI SOHR, LISA'S HUSBAND: She had the beautiful eyes. So for me, her eyes is just doing it for me.

UDOJI: They married this year.

B. SOHR: When you commit to something, you're going to go all the way. There is no mountains. If there is a mountain, she's going to go directly to the mountain and she's going to break the mountain and she's going to go after that. This is Lisa. That's why I love her so much.

L. SOHR: He's my total cheering squad. He puts me in the right state of mind all the time.

UDOJI: Still, she doesn't want anyone to think it's been easy. She has to stay disciplined every day.

L. SOHR: I don't have a lot of cooking in here.

UDOJI: And she still has hard days.

L. SOHR: You still think you look fat. I don't think you ever get rid of that. I don't think you ever separate from the old you. There's always some point where you're going to feel...

UDOJI (on camera): Even now...

L. SOHR: Even now...

UDOJI: ... you look in the mirror and you say?

L. SOHR: Even now I look in the mirror and I can say I still feel fat sometimes.

UDOJI (voice-over): She warns others considering the procedure, stomach surgery is not a magic bullet. They need determination, patience and good support.

L. SOHR: It's very important that you look at food in a different way. It's not necessarily your best friend anymore.

UDOJI: The payoffs have changed her life. Today, going to restaurants...

L. SOHR: Take a bite.

UDOJI: ... heading to the mall, stores like The Next Boutique.

L. SOHR: When I first lost weight, I came here and the girls were really nice to me.

UDOJI: Lisa Sohr worked hard to make herself happy. Today, she dreams about the future, even starting a family, a dream too risky, perhaps impossible, before she confronted an illness millions of Americans battle every day.


UDOJI: Well, the National Institutes of Health estimates over 60 people -- 60 million Americans are overweight or obese. And all the doctors we talked to said that stomach surgery should be the last resort for all of them, like it was for Lisa.

Now, for those who do choose it, it's a lengthy process, which includes support groups before and after surgery as a way to help people deal with all of the physical, and sometimes emotional, changes.

But as we've just seen, for some people like Lisa, it just changed her life for so -- in so many good ways -- Anderson.

COOPER: She also said you've got to change your relationship with food, so it's not just about surgery.

UDOJI: Absolutely.

COOPER: Adaora Udoji...

UDOJI: We were so struck by how intense that is every single day. Usually we see people with these before and afterwards and we think oh, wow, it was very simple.

COOPER: Right.

UDOJI: But every single day she has to be really vigilant about what she's eating and how she's eating.

COOPER: Adaora, thanks. A great report.

Michael Jackson's jury still deliberating, still unsequestered. Are his frequent trips to the hospital an attempt to build sympathy with the jurors? Tonight, the latest from the courthouse and the media circus surrounding the case.

Another American woman goes missing after a night on the town, this time in Mexico. Tonight, why one family searching for their missing daughter isn't getting the help they need from police.

And turning your teeth totally white -- millions are spending millions on high priced products and treatments. But can going too white be bad for your teeth? 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta, investigates.

360 continues.


COOPER: Yeah, remember that guy? We profiled him the other night. His name is B.J. Hickman. He's the so-called Superfan, who quit his job and moved to California to support Michael Jackson. In his case, supporting means he's at the court every day screaming and shouting. And today he got himself in trouble. Hickman was slapped with a retraining order for verbally abusing Court TV's Diane Dimond, calling her, among other things, "a she-devil."

Hickman is a regular at the Jackson sideshow, but he's not the only one. There are sideshows galore in the parallel universe that is the Jackson trial. We asked Rusty Dornin, who's been there every day, to give us a tour.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The wait is on at the Santa Maria Courthouse -- a wait that can be sometimes busy, sometimes boring, often entertaining, but marked with plenty of no- no's.

(on camera): Let's talk about all of the things you can't do outside the courthouse. First of all, you can't jay-walk. One of the CNN employees got a $125 ticket for that a few weeks ago. For the fans on the outside the fence, no trespassing, no climbing on the fence. Do not disturb the peace. Now, once you cross this line, our photographer has to turn his camera off. He cannot come with me until we reach the next point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only place you can film or photograph is along the pens, which we call along these sides, or out on the street.

DORNIN: And how about...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me stop you for just a second. Let me move you out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Anyplace where it's easier for you guys.

DORNIN: We just got moved away from the place where we were just shooting because it's against the rules, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. But the reason it's against the rules is because we don't want to be blocking this area for the emergency traffic that might be coming through here -- ambulance, fire, police.

DORNIN: This is the main media entrance. There's no public allowed beyond this point. And I'm going to have to show my pass to the officer here at the front gate. Then I'm allowed to walk in here. But the photographers cannot be rolling as they walk through here. They have to shoot from behind the fence.

When something happens in court, or someone like Jesse Jackson comes into the area, there's a lockdown. We're not allowed to walk outside the fence, so we have got to make our way, and sometimes you get help, through a very narrow area, for as long as the sheriffs tell us we have to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A shot of him driving in, in the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which they have. They have that.


DORNIN (voice-over): Producers, photographers and reporters filling time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We scratch our heads at the crazy circus that is enfolding us. Looking over at the fans, sometimes they're screaming insults at us.


DORNIN: Oh, yes, the fans. They chant, they sing, they sleep, and...

(on camera): Not all fans are here for the same reason. And some have nothing to do with Michael Jackson. And sometimes, those fans get into confrontations.

(voice-over): Too many people, too often, with not enough to do but wait.


DORNIN: The one thing I didn't get to show you was the anxiety surrounding the pool producer, Peter Shaplen. Every time he moves -- because he's the one that will get the call about the verdict -- people get very nervous and begin running towards him.

One thing I've learned out of all this, beware of idle reporters, photographers, producers, and last but not least, fans.


COOPER: Especially with a restraining order against this one guy issued today, crazy. Rusty Dornin, thanks.

Anne Bremner is a defense attorney who's been observing the trial from the start. She joins us now from Santa Maria. Anne, good to see you again tonight.

How much of the chaos are the jurors actually seeing and hearing?

ANNE BREMNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They come in through the back, and so they don't see all the things in the front. You know, the release of, you know, 10 white doves for 10 not guilty verdicts, or, you know, a parade of people bringing their dogs and their babies, and signs saying that, you know, that, you know, people are going to hell for certain things in this case.

But there are jurors -- or there are fans in the back that stand back there as the jurors come and go. And there are police officers everywhere, and Zeus the bond dog, and then all the media sits and watches them, too.

So it's kind of a little more of a limited version of kind of the zany scene out front that the jurors see.

COOPER: I've got to tell you, that is the last place in the world I would want to be right now. Full day of deliberations...


COOPER: Yeah, I feel a little bad for you, I got to admit.

The full day of deliberations for this jury, it's about six hours every day. Today they only worked for two-and-a-half hours. A, why so short? And I mean, what does this do to the momentum of the jury?

BREMNER: They had the high school graduation today in Santa Maria -- the Santa Maria Saints -- at their high school, and the judge said they can be done at 11:00 today, and the graduation ceremony was at 1:00.

So yeah, it does -- it does hamper the momentum that they have, is they, you know, day by day, work through all of the evidence in this case, 98 pages of jury instructions, and 10 counts, including very complicated conspiracy counts. But hopefully tomorrow, they'll gain that back, and I'm hoping for a verdict tomorrow.

COOPER: You think there may be a verdict tomorrow. Do you think Michael Jackson is trying to influence this jury? I mean, they're not sequestered. He keeps visiting the hospital. Last night, he went, allegedly...

BREMNER: Right. COOPER: ... for some sort of a back problem, according to his spokesperson. I mean, I've had back problems all my life. I've never been to a hospital. You know, you get a little wet heat or a little dry heat, and you know, maybe you have -- you go to see a chiropractor or something.


COOPER: I've never really heard of going to the hospital repeatedly for a minor back problem.

BREMNER: Well, you know, it's like my grandmother said, what a coincidence, you know, that when he goes every time it's picking the jury, it's when the accuser is testifying, and is still on the stand going for a second time, it was pajama day. And then of course during closing arguments and now during jury deliberations twice, because we know he went again last night. So the sympathy factor -- you know, you can't do this to me, this is going to be horrible for me. I'm really a wounded sparrow; I'm not a vulture.

COOPER: All right. Well, we'll see. Anne Bremner, appreciate you joining us. She thinks there may be a verdict tomorrow. We'll be watching. Thanks very much, Anne.

BREMNER: Here's hoping.

COOPER: Yeah, well...

BREMNER: Thank you.

COOPER: We'll see.

360 next, as the hunt goes on for a missing American teen in Aruba, which we've been telling you about, Natalee Holloway, another American woman is missing. She vanished along the Mexico border. The only thing is, her case is not unusual. We're going to take a look at what is going on just over the border. We'll take an inside look.

Also tonight, they all guarantee a brighter smile, all these products and treatments. But beware, there is a dark side to teeth whitening. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta will tell us all about it.

And a little later, what's this all about? All these nursing mothers protesting? We'll tell you why these women breast-fed to protest.


COOPER: Well, we'd like to be able to say that mysterious disappearances like Natalee Holloway's on the island of Aruba are a rarity, but they're not. That's the truth. Listen to this. The U.S. State Department says it receives around 12,000 reports every year of Americans gone missing in foreign countries.

"The World in 360" now on a disturbing story that sounds frighteningly familiar. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the past four months, William Slemaker says he's made this crossing more than 100 times, crossing the international border into the narrow streets of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, searching for a daughter who has not called, not come home, not been seen since September.

WILLIAM SLEMAKER, FATHER OF MISSING GIRL: You see, I cruised up and down all these streets looking for Yvette's car.

GRIFFIN: Slemaker's step-daughter, Yvette Martinez, is 28 years old. In the early morning of September 17, she and her friend Brenda Cisneros were on their way home from a concert and a night on the town in Nuevo Laredo. It was Brenda's birthday.

At 4:00 a.m., still on the Mexico side, but just four blocks from the border, they called a friend.

W. SLEMAKER: And the call she got was from this intersection right here.

GRIFFIN: The young women made the call to ask their friend to meet them for breakfast on the American side. Somewhere within these four short blocks, Yvette Martinez and Brenda Cisneros vanished.

I can see the American flag from here.

W. SLEMAKER: Yes. She was not far at all. It's very unfortunate that she didn't make it from such a close distance.

GRIFFIN: You must have stood here many a time and thought what -- what happened?

W. SLEMAKER: Oh, what happened.

GRIFFIN: In the five minutes it would take.

W. SLEMAKER: I stood there. I've parked my car there. I've stood at that intersection, looking and wondering to myself, where could she be? Trying and praying, hoping she could contact me and let me know -- to get a feel of what to do.

GRIFFIN: Bill Slemaker and his wife Maria no longer know what to do. Days have turned into weeks and now months.

The last phone call that she made, that you know she made, was so close to the border, it must be absolutely frustrating to have heard that?

W. SLEMAKER: Yes, to know she was so close and didn't make it.

GRIFFIN: She probably could have seen the border?

SLEMAKER: Oh, yes.


GRIFFIN: Bill and Maria are not alone. People are being kidnapped, killed or simply disappearing at an alarming rate. The crossing here at Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Laredo, Texas, is the busiest inland port on the U.S. southern border: 40 percent of all U.S.-Mexico trade passes right through here, but the heavy traffic has attracted something else, drug cartels that are in a heated battle for control of this town and the drugs that flow north.

MICHAEL YODER, U.S. CONSUL: We're always living on the edge of violence here. That's part of the border.

GRIFFIN: Michael Yoder is the U.S. Consul in Nuevo Laredo. For the past year, he has watched the drug cartels fight it out. Yoder warns anyone traveling to Nuevo Laredo, if you are American, you may be a target, and if you are kidnapped here, don't rely on the U.S. or anyone else to find you.

YODER: We're in Mexico, and solving a crime that occurs in Mexico is up to the Mexican authorities. And we have this problem that local police and state police are often out-equipped. The narco-traffickers, the criminals here, have better guns. They have more money.

GRIFFIN: And money, the FBI says, has corrupted many police to look the other way.

Daniel Pena is Nuevo Laredo's new mayor. He's in charge of the police. He insists his city is safe.

MAYOR DANIEL PENA, NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO (via translator): Yes, Nuevo Laredo is safe, and we're taking charge to guarantee that tranquility and peace.

GRIFFIN: But when the camera was turned off, he added that he believes most, if not all the people kidnapped are likely involved in drugs. The U.S. Consul says that may have been true in the past, but now insists that innocent civilians are the targets.

To the Slemakers, who know their daughter, knew she was just going to a concert, the Mexican government's lack of action has added to their pain.

M. SLEMAKER: Night after night thinking, where is she? Of course, we're afraid. It's not only been now, but, of course, other people, too.

GRIFFIN: There's so many missing.

M. SLEMAKER: So many missing persons.

GRIFFIN Without help from the police, Bill Slemaker has spent endless days and nights trying to track down his daughter himself. He spent a month searching for her car. He finally found it in a place that made him very angry -- a storage yard used by local police.

W. SLEMAKER: That's it. That's the car right there. That's Yvette's car. Oh, my god. Oh, my god.

GRIFFIN: Walking through here, you find dozens of other cars with U.S. license plates just like Yvette's. He has asked how Yvette's car got here, who brought it, and when, but no one can tell him. It's never been dusted for fingerprints or searched for evidence in any investigation.

W. SLEMAKER: I hope she comes home. I hope she comes home.

GRIFFIN: Are you afraid, Bill, I hate to say it, but this is all you'll ever find of your daughter?

W. SLEMAKER: I'm afraid, yes.

GRIFFIN: That you'll never know what happened?

W. SLEMAKER: I hope we find her. I hope we find her. Oh, my.


COOPER: And one family's pain, and there's so many families out there searching.

Lots more going on to tell us about. Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us with the latest, about quarter to the hour. Hey, Erica.

HILL: Hey, Anderson.

President Bush is urging Congress to make the Patriot Act permanent. During a stop at the Ohio Patrol Training Academy, Mr. Bush said the Patriot Act has protected American liberties and saved lives. Some civil rights groups, however -- civil liberty groups, that is -- say that the act infringes on individual rights. The law's 16 provisions are set to expire at the end of this year, though Congress may extend most of them, though not necessarily make them permanent.

Conroe, Texas, where a plane crashes into a house, setting the house on fire. The small aircraft went down late this afternoon in a wooded area near Montgomery County Airport. Investigators say the pilot was killed. Nobody was in the home.

And Ronald McDonald, shaping up for summer. McDonald's famous clown is saying good-bye to those baggy overalls and going to a form- fitting yellow jumpsuit. New commercials will feature a more active Ronald McDonald. He's going to be playing sports, all in an effort to encourage kids to be active. No word on any exercise machine for Grimace, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, it looks like Ronald there could use an exercise machine, and a form-fitting yellow jumpsuit?

HILL: I know. It wouldn't have been my first choice, but maybe with the jumpsuit, he'll reveal a slimmer, sleeker Ronald.

COOPER: OK, Erica, we'll let you out of that one. See you again in about 30 minutes. Good lord, what was she talking about? HILL: I have no idea!

COOPER: Coming up next on 360, have you noticed that every celebrity on the planet has freakishly white teeth? Everyone it seems wants super-whites, but there is a danger. We'll tell you what it is.

Also ahead, nursing mothers protesting. They're not activists, they're lactivists. We'll tell you why they're up in arms. Stay tuned.


COOPER: Have you noticed that every celebrity on the planet seems to have freakishly white teeth -- Jessica Simpson. Seriously, it's scary. These days, it's all about the whitening. Millions of Americans are using paint and toothpaste and mouthwash and even gum to get brighter smiles. But the whitening phenomenon does have a dark side. And as 360 M.D, Sanjay Gupta reports, it's easy to go too far.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look straight up.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Meet Jessica Neph (ph). She calls herself a teeth-whitening junkie.

ANNOUNCER: Get whiter teeth after just three days, full results in seven.

GUPTA: Sure, they promise sparkling white smiles, but for a growing number of consumers, teeth whitening has become an obsession.

JESSICA NEPH, USES TEETH WHITENING PRODUCTS: I've tried the tray and gel systems over the counter. I've tried the tray and gel systems in office. I've done the Rembrandts gel and toothpaste, I've done the Crest whitestrips. I've just tried the new Oral B whitestrips and the paint-on brush that you use.

GUPTA: And fueling Jessica's fascination with teeth whitening, shows like "The Swan" and "Extreme Makeover." And, of course, the desire to make a dazzling first impression.

A recent study in the journal "Public Health Dentistry" found people with healthier looking teeth are perceived as smarter and more successful.

(on camera): But here's the thing, 99 percent of Americans just simply brush their teeth. But there's no denying that these teeth whitening treatments once administered by dentists have been transformed by all these relatively easy to use products into a safe and effective beauty regimen for millions of Americans.

(voice-over): In fact, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Americans spent more than $336 million on teeth whitening products just last year.

But abusing these products can cause gum irritation and over sensitivity, symptoms that Jessica has experience in the past.

DR. JONATHAN LEVINE, AESTHETIC DENTIST: The manufacturer says use it for two weeks, morning and night, twice a day for 100 days, every day. That doesn't mean doubling up on it and use it for three months. You're breaking down the structural integrity of the tooth.

GUPTA: Ironically, excessive bleaching can turn pearly whites into an unnatural translucent blue.

So, what is the safest way to whiten at home? The experts say it's important to know the strength of those bleaching agents. So we consulted Dr. Peter Vanstrom, an aesthetic dentist who told us it's safest to stick with hydrogen peroxide concentration 6 percent and lower. But knowing the concentration of a product at the drug store isn't easy.

DR. PETER VANSTROM, AESTHETIC DENTIST: One of the frustrations in the over-the-counter market is we don't have labeled on any of these exactly what the concentration is.

GUPTA: Which is why part of the reason why the American Dental Association only gives it seal of acceptance to four at-home bleaching products, all gel and tray systems, all available from dentists.

VANSTROM: That is probably the safest means of whitening your teeth. It just takes longer.

GUPTA: These products are considered safer, but more expensive, ranging from $200 to $500, making their over-the-counter versions much more attractive.

So, what is the best tooth whitening product? Well, according to "Consumer Reports" magazine, overnight drug store products yield the best results. But the magazine didn't evaluate those problems for safety.

The safest bet, if you're going to use teeth whiteners from the drugstore, follow the instructions, especially length and frequency of use. Don't buy off the Internet. And talk to your dentist beforehand.

As far as Jessica goes, she is obsessed with white teeth. But she does check with her dentist regularly. And together, they keep that smile sparkling.


GUPTA: They're really incredible. She tried just about every product out there, Anderson.

Listen, we contacted the makers of most of the products that you just saw. And they reminded us that these products can be safe and effective if you follow the instructions. Really important there, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah. Just don't use them all together at the same time. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks. Let's find out what's on the top of the hour in PAULA ZAHN NOW. Hey, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Anderson. Thanks so much.

Coming up at 8:00 on the dot, we're going to meet an incredibly brave young woman. Aime Zyla came to Capitol Hill today to plead with lawmakers to do more to stop sexual predators, because when she was eight years old, one assaulted her. And worse, he was eventually set free to attack others. We're going to hear her story, her plea to make sure the public is notified when a juvenile sex offender is freed from prison.

All of that coming up at the top of the hour. Plus, a profile tonight of Angelina Jolie. I think there's a great deal of interest in her movie, and about the men in her life, like a guy named Brad Pitt and her father John Voight.

COOPER: Never heard of them.

ZAHN: Yeah.

COOPER: Paula, thanks.

ZAHN: Neither have I.

COOPER: Coming up on 360 next, nursing moms fired up, taking their anger to the streets with their babies. Find out what the lactivists are protesting.


COOPER: An unusual protest in New York this week caught our attention, organized by women who've adopted an interesting name for themselves, a name they take from the verb to lactate, which is what females of the species naturally do after they've given birth. And that is just about as far as I'm personally willing to go by way of explanation. Luckily, CNN's Jeanne Moos is prepared to go a lot further than that.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a name for activists who are lactating: Lactivists.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't want to see it, don't look. It's not that difficult.

MOOS: And some women who breast-feed in public, are breast-fed up with the ABC show "The View." One the show's regulars is a new mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The blanket falls, she's off, it's like milk spraying.



MOOS: Jokes on "The View" and a comment by Barbara Walters prompted a nurse-in, a protest by more than 200 nursing women in front of ABC. They were mad at Walters for what she said about sitting near a breast-feeding mom on an airplane.

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: It made us uncomfortable. I had to admit it.

MOOS: Walters later amended her remarks to say it was the man sitting next to her who was uncomfortable, not Walters herself.

At a mall in Houston...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got milk? Got milk?

MOOS: At a fast-food joint in Pittsburgh, at a discount store in Florida, there have been incidents involving women breast-feeding in public.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said again, I think it will be best if you leave. And you leave now.

MOOS: Most often, breast feeding women say disapproval isn't actually voiced.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They give us looks, especially men.

MOOS (on camera): Like what -- what's the look?


MOOS (voice-over: When an employee at a Maryland Starbucks told a nursing mother to cover the baby or go to the bathroom, protesters asked could you drink your latte in the bathroom? And though Starbucks apologized, the mother involved started her own Web site, complete with a parody logo.

But breast-feeding in public does make some folks queasy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'd walk out and go to another Starbucks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as long as it's covered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to relate it to urinating in public. If people are going to do it, they should do it discretely.

MOOS: On New York's Upper West Side, nursing moms gather at the Upper Breast Side, the city's first breast-feeding boutique, featuring items like this hands-free bumping contraption. There are outfits that let you breast feed with total discretion.

(on camera): This is the first interview I've ever done with a nursing mother.

(voice-over): elsewhere, you can buy coverlets with names like Hooter Hiders and Udder Covers.

Breast-feeding moms say they don't have a choice. Babies need to eat every couple of hours. And breast milk is the healthiest choice.

(on camera): That doesn't make you uncomfortable to see a woman...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It makes me horny.

MOOS (voice-over): For babies themselves, this is all a big yawn.

As for "The View."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have sat here publicly, I would nurse a monkey, that's how weird I am.

MOOS: Babies' favorite view is the one from the tap.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COOPER: So much to say, but thankfully we're out of time. I'm Anderson Cooper, thanks for watching. Coming up right now, PAULA ZAHN. Hey, Paula.



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