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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Ramadi on the Rise?; Iraqi Election Day; Frigid Season Ahead; New Way to Break Very Bad News: E-Cards; New Orleans Police Officers Still Homeless; Childless-by-Choice Couples Drive Debate on Purpose of Marriage; Shift in Insurgent Leadership Sets Tone for Elections, Sunni Participation

Aired December 15, 2005 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Iraq takes a big step toward its future.
ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Iraqis make history with their first full parliamentary election since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Scattered violence and heavy security meets millions at the polls.

Tonight, as the votes get counted, is democracy taking root?

Officially, winter is six days away. So why is so much of the country already in a deep freeze? You heard about El Nino, but tonight, Rob Marciano looks at the green land block and the Siberian snow cover.

And, baby not on board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we had a kid, we'd probably be the parents who would leave it in the Wal-Mart, you know far parking lot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: More and more married couples say no to kids and yes to freedom. But are they just being big babies? A 360 debate.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. Turning Point in Iraq? Reporting live from Bakuba, Iraq, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks for joining us in this special edition of 360 from Bakuba, Iraq. The latest on Iraqi elections in a moment. But first, let's give you the latest stories we're following.

A top Iraqi official has confirmed to CNN that Iraqi security forces had Al Qaida Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in custody last year, but then released him because they didn't know his identity. A U.S. official said he could not confirm the report, but added that it is plausible.

President Bush and Senator John McCain have reached an agreement on a Pentagon spending bill amendment that would ban U.S. personnel from engaging in torture. The president has been threatening to veto the bill if the amendment was there, but both sides reach an agreement after a meeting at the White House. The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says he still needs more convincing before he can endorse the bill.

And the Bush administration says it will spend more than $3 billion to repair and strengthen the levee system in New Orleans. The first phase of the project to repair of breaches and fix construction flaws is scheduled to be done by the start of hurricane season next year. The second phase, which will armor the system and install state of the art pumping, they say will be completed later.

Well, yesterday, if you are joining us at this time, we had just opened up the polls here in Iraq. We had just started our coverage of the election -- the historic election. Millions of Iraqis turning out to vote and high Sunni turnout in particular. CNN's Nic Robertson is up in Ramadi. Now when we last saw Nic, this is what we saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're -- (explosion) -- polling stations. That was one of the first big explosions in this city. That's what we're talking about. Anderson, we have to go in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's how elections began in Ramadi. Let's check in to see how they went since then -- Nic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: This time it was different. Across Ramadi's rooftops, a call from (inaudible) at Sunni mosques. Unheard of during previous elections. A call to vote. God will grant you a great life if you go out and vote, the voice echoes. This is your last chance to vote.

In meetings with U.S. commanders, religious leaders promised to preach the importance of engaging in a democratic process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to have the shaped security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Tribal leaders, too, kept good on their promises to Marine commanders and supplied tribal militia to run security at polling stations. But just as polling got underway,

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: -- explosive devices. Two roadside bombs --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Downtown Ramadi, minutes after polling stations opened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: that polling station, though you can't see them from here, is being manned by tribal militias. They're -- (explosion) -- polling stations. That was one of the first big explosions in this city. That's what we're talking about. Anderson, we have to go in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: It was a roadside bomb. Marines are the outposts from whose safety we were covering the elections open fire, telling us to run for cover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible). Head popped up. One guy dressed in black.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: The explosion, a reminder that this is one of the most violent cities in Iraq; and exactly what Marines feared, an insurgent effort to keep this Sunni city's residents from voting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. JASON COPELAND, U.S. MARINE CORPOS: Sometimes things tend to blow up around here. I don't know if that was a statement by any means, but it may have been just for the sheer fact that somebody was on the streets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: But it was the only statement of the day from the insurgents. Within a few hours and under the watchful eye of U.S. -- people began venturing out to vote, moving about the war-damaged city streets. Some carried white flags as they passed close to the Marine outpost.

In the last elections, intimidation and Sunni empathy (ph) resulted in Ramadi having the lowest turnout of any Iraqi city. Barely two in every 100 people voted.

In the west of the city, thousands of people are estimated to have turned out to vote, according to some local residents. There's been a festive atmosphere with candles being handed out. And at the polling station just down the road here, where only one person voted in the referendum last October, more than 100 are estimated to have turned out to cast their ballots.

For the Marines, their job was to stay off the streets and let Iraqi officials run the elections. That, too, they believe encouraged some voters to turnout. So popular was the election that nearly half of Ramadi's polling stations ran out of ballot papers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Now the expectation was that perhaps five times the number of voters would come out in these elections compared to the elections in the referendum two months ago, but it does seem -- and that's the indications we're getting now -- it does seem that that's been far exceeded the counting, was already begun so no doubt we're going to get a better idea of that fairly soon -- Anderson.

COOPER: An amazing day there in Ramadi, Nic, for you. Christiane Amanpour has been covering the elections in Baghdad.

Christiane, yesterday you were also focusing on Sunni turnout. What was it like in Baghdad?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, much, much higher. I mean, basically, this election has been different from the last one. We were hearing even in the referendum time, when the Sunnis did turnout in very high numbers, but to reject the constitution, we heard that they would be using this election to actually get themselves a vote in parliament.

And this is what they did. We went to a Sunni part of Baghdad, which is quite a poor part, quite a violent part, and we saw the voting stations really bustling, to be frank. I thought they were more bustling than in some of the Shia neighborhoods. And there were people saying to us that look, we made a mistake last time around. We were intimidated. They threatened to blow us up. They dropped leaflets telling us that they would cut off our heads and have our blood running in our streets. But this time we have to have a voice. We need to have balance in the parliament.

And that word balance is one that we keep hearing. Because what they have seen is that majority in this country, the Shias, have used their power and their numbers at the ballot box to great effect, and they have been in control of this transitional government now since last January. And they think it's too religious. And quite a lot of other people in this country, who want a secular state, think its too religious. So balance is the buzz word that we've been hearing. And certainly the Sunnis turned out to try to add some balance to the parliament -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Nic, why is it so important -- for people who haven't been following the inner workings of Iraq for some time -- why is it so important to have Sunni turnout?

ROBERTSON: Well, if you can bring the Sunnis in for a democratic process, particularly in this part of Iraq where the insurgency is very strong, and particularly the tribal Sunnis here, then you have a real chance to undermine or marginalize some of the insurgents. The insurgency is broadly broken down into those of Iraqi nationalists, Saddam loyalists, and those foreign fighters. Now the analysis is, if the tribe come on board, they control their areas very effectively. They were controlling the polling stations today in Ramadi -- yesterday, rather, in Ramadi.

If they can exercise that same power in this region, they can really diminish the effect of the insurgency and help stabilize this area. So that's one of the reasons why it would be so significant, Anderson.

COOPER: Alright, Nic Robertson, from Ramadi. Thank you, Christiane Amanpour in Baghdad. Thanks very much to both of you.

In a moment we're going to be talking to CNN's -- I always say that. We'd like to get him over to CNN, but he's working at "TIME Magazine." He's the Baghdad bureau chief, Michael Ware. We're going to talk to him, coming up a little bit.

But first, let's go back to New York and Heidi Collins -- Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, the more the merrier at CNN, that's for sure. Anderson, thanks.

Tonight, millions of Americans are dealing with yet another major winter snow storm, which is something to talk about, considering winter doesn't even officially arrive until next week.

In Georgia and South Carolina today, freezing rain reeked havoc in the streets and in homes, leaving almost half a million people without power. The chill in the air many of us are suffering through will be sticking around for a long time to come.

Predicting the weather, though, isn't an exact science, but some forecasters say they know why this season ahead will be an especially cold one. CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Michael Schlacter is the chief meteorologist at a weather prediction company.

(On camera): What's your winter forecast?

MICHAEL SCHLACTER, WEATHER 2000: Cold, snowy and harsh. Lots of volatility, lots of frigid air coming down from Canada, pretty much from the plains to the Atlantic.

MARCIANO: Schlacter has his eye on something called the Greenland Block.

SCHLACTER: Basically, the atmosphere is like a river -- it runs like a fluid. And every once in a while, you get a boulder or a stone in that river that kind of blocks up the flow. And one of those blocks is called the Greenland Block. You get high pressure here in Greenland, it blocks up the flow. You get a little dip in the jet stream, and lots of cold air is ushered down from Canada.

MARCIANO (voice-over): So he's saying the Greenland Block traps cold air over the U.S., making for a really cold winter, especially in the east. But we're talking about the weather here. So naturally, not everyone agrees -- especially government forecasters.

MIKE HALPERT, CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER: There's not a real strong climate signal in the eastern part of the nation and we elected to allow the possibility of really anything happening.

MARCIANO: In other words, who knows.

(On camera): We have a hard enough time forecasting the weather three days in advance, let alone three months in advance. And this year is a whole lot harder. Blame El Nino -- that warm pool of water in the Pacific Ocean.

While meteorologists use the El Nino southern oscillation, or Enzo (ph), to help them predict the weather. The problem is,

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALPERT: This year there is no Enzo (ph) signal. Conditions are largely neutral or they certainly were neutral when we started making these forecasts. Given the absence of Enzo (ph), other climatic factors play a much larger role.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: So the government's Mike Halpert falls back on tallying the average temperatures for the past 10 years to predict future temperatures.

But other forecasters say El Nino is not the only predictor. Michael Schlacter thinks the Greenland Block holds the key.

This forecaster, Dr. Judah Cohen, looks to another indicator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JUDAH COHEN, RESEARCH INC.: When there's more snow in Siberia in the fall, there does tend to be more snowfall here in the eastern U.S., and in the northeast in particular.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: Dr. Cohen, who works in Lexington, Massachusetts, says it's going to get really cold because of heavy snow cover in Siberia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Siberia kind of acts like the refrigerator for the northern hemisphere. If you have high snow cover, it builds more cold air. This cold air has really only two ways to go. It can either go west into Europe or it could also go north over the Pole and slide down the east side of the Rockies here, into the eastern U.S.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: Mike Halpert, the government forecaster, says he doesn't look at factors like the Greenland Block or the snow cover in Siberia for his forecast because they're still new theories. But so far this year, those new ideas seem to be right on the mark.

Temperatures have been cold, well below normal for the East Coast. And in New York City, nine inches of snow has fallen. One inch by now is about average.

Officially, the first day of winter is still a few days away. And folks in the northeast are saying, El Nino, Greenland, Siberia, whatever, it's cold outside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm going to go out and buy a snow blower. I'm tired of shoveling, but I'm a little scared about my heating bill for this winter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: I'm sure a lot of people are scared about their heating bill, but at the very least, a couple of the last-minute Christmas gift items, a parka and maybe a snow blower.

We do have a storm rolling up the Eastern Seaboard. The nine inches of snow -- that unusual amount of snow that's fallen here in New York City, beginning to melt. The sleet and freezing rain has now turned to a cold rain with temperatures in the mid-30s. But the radar is showing that we have a wintry mix of misery heading up into Upstate New York, the Hudson Valley, where ice has been a problem already today -- from Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland and now heading into Upstate New York. Syracuse, New York, a place that has a hard time shutting down schools because they get so much snow, they're talking about shutting down schools tomorrow because of the threat of ice out there tonight.

It's been a miserable December so far, Heidi, and it looks like according to those experts we spoke to, it could be a miserably long winter the next two and a half months. Back to you.

COLLINS: Yes, I can't get a break. I moved from Minnesota like 15 years ago and still have the (inaudible) and need a snow blower of my own.

MARCIANO: Well, you're experienced.

COLLINS: Yes. Rick Marciano -- Rob Marciano. So sorry. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: Alright.

COLLINS: It sounds like a sick joke, but it's not. Imagine opening your e-mail and finding an e-mail card like this, telling you that you have a sexually transmitted disease. It's happening. We'll tell you all about it.

And later, the fertile new controversy over couples choosing not to be parents. What's wrong with going childless?

A break first. This is 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: If someone told you something that could save your life, would you care if they were anonymous? Well, what if they were responsible for putting you in danger in the first place?

Each year, more than 12 million people in the United States are infected with a sexually transmitted disease, and that greatly increases their odds of contracting HIV, if they are exposed to the virus.

Now there's a new way to break some very bad news. Here's CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you have a sexually transmitted disease like Herpes, Gonorrhea or HIV, telling your partner or partners may be one of the most difficult things you'll ever do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Sorry to have to send you this information.

GUTIERREZ: Difficult, but not impossible -- especially if the news is delivered anonymously with an STD e-mail card.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Who? What? When? Where? It doesn't matter. I caught an STD. You might have it too. Please get checked out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heads up... I caught an STD since we messed around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're too hot to be out of the action. I got diagnosed with an STD since we played and you might want to get checked too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This says there's something I need to tell you.

GUTIERREZ: Dr. Jonathon Fielding (ph) is director of Public Health for Los Angeles County. This website, INSPOTLA.org is one of the latest in his arsenal against sexually transmitted diseases. E- cards that make it easier for the infected person to break the bad news to six different partners anonymously.

JONATHON FIELDING (PH), DOCTOR: Unfortunately, it remains a problem nationally and internationally, that a lot of times partners aren't notified -- even if the information on how to identify those partners is known to the individual -- because they're embarrassed, they're afraid.

GUTIERREZ: Joseph Terrell (ph) has HIV and says he's sexually active, but tells all of his partners beforehand that he's infected.

JOSEPH TERRELL (PH), INFECTED WITH HIV: There are some people that are very, very upfront and open about themselves and their sexuality, you know, et cetera. There's a whole lot of people out there, though, that aren't and that's precisely why they use the internet, to remain anonymous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Choose your STD

GUTIERREZ: The Health Department says the only personal information they keep is your zip code, if you choose to include it. And they say they do not keep any of the names or e-mail addresses. The downside, anyone can send out e-cards, including pranksters.

So it could happen?

FIELDING: Oh, sure. It absolutely could happen, just like you can call somebody and leave an anonymous message on their voicemail or, you know, today send them a letter.

GUTIERREZ: The website guides the recipient of the e-card to information about the specific disease and where to get help. From hotline numbers to a regional map with driving directions to clinics.

FIELDING: One-stop shopping increases the likelihood that somebody is going to take action, take action in a timely manner.

GUTIERREZ: Terrell (ph) says time is of the essence. He's one of an estimated 60,000 people in Los Angeles County infected with HIV. One-quarter of that population may not even know. And with each new sex partner, the disease continues to spread. Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS" joins us now with some of the other stories we are following tonight. Hi Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Heidi. We start off with an update on a story that made a lot of headlines last week.

Investigators looking at the fatal airline crash in Chicago earlier this month, say the jet needed about 800 more feet for a safe landing. The initial report finds a strong tail wind and snowy conditions pushed the plane too far down the runway at Midway Airport. The plane, of course, skidded onto a road and into a car, killing a 6- year old boy.

In Minnesota, four NFL football players charged with misdemeanors for quote, "inappropriate sexual behavior." The charges stem from a wild party on a chartered boat back in October. Minnesota Viking Daunte Culpepper, Bryant McKinnie, Moe Williams and Fred Smoot were each charged with indecent conduct, disorderly conduct and lewd and lascivious conduct.

And on a lighter note, researchers say they have interpreted perhaps the world's most famous smile using some cutting edge emotion recognition software. According to the software, the Mona Lisa smile is 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgust, 6 percent fear and just at 2 percent smattering of anger. Hmm. Clears it all up, doesn't it?

COLLINS: No Botox? Hmm. Alright, Erica, thank you.

Keeping New Orleans safe and paying the price. Nearly four months after Katrina, many New Orleans police officers are still homeless. Why is it taking so long to get a permanent roof over their heads?

Also, more on how Iraqi forces may have let the most dangerous terrorist in Iraq go free. Michael Ware will be talking to Anderson about the capture and release of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back, we are live in Bakuba, Iraq. I'm on the roof of what's called the JCC, which is Joint Command Center. It's where Iraqi forces, Iraqi police and Iraqi army work hand in hand with U.S. military forces. This is one of the longest running JCC centers in Iraq. It's one of the reasons that insurgent attacks in this province are down 30 to 40 percent in the last year because the Iraqis are working very closely and very well with the Americans in Bakuba and outlying areas.

Still, though, this center, which is very close to the -- it's really in the city of Bakuba itself, it routinely has taken mortar fire. There have been a number of suicide attacks. Really, the start of this year, it is obviously a very dangerous place to be. There are guards behind me. There's a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on the roof and everyone here wears bullet-proof protection. We're going to have a lot more from here, the JCC and from Bakuba, Iraq, in a moment.

But we wanted to focus a little bit on New Orleans, as we do every night -- not forgetting the continuing devastation there and the continuing disaster for the people of New Orleans and the entire Gulf region. In particular, tonight, the New Orleans police officers, many of whom remain homeless four months after Katrina. The question is, why? CNN's National Correspondent John King looks into it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To some, the are the floating post-Katrina boon dock -- $240 million in taxpayer money, spent by FEMA for cruise ships that were often half empty.

By nightfall nowadays, though, they're mostly full. And to New Orleans Police Sergeant Eric Berger, they're home -- and a reminder that nearly four months later, the future of the city and its often maligned police force very much remains in doubt.

SGT. ERIC BERGER, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: There is nothing for you to do on the boat, but pretty much eat and sleep. It's kind of depressing being on the boat.

KING: Tuesday was Sgt. Berger's 18th anniversary with the NOPD. The post-Katrina looting, his most searing memory. BERGER: It was amazing. I mean, this whole meeting was covered with people, just mobs of people just taking whatever they could take in.

KING: This was Berger's home. From the outside, it looks okay. But inside, completely gutted.

BERGER: I wouldn't touch that if I were you.

KING: To visit, is to see firsthand the delays in cleanup, let alone rebuilding. And the challenges for police officers and other first-responders whose jobs require them to stay in the city, still very much a mess.

BERGER: It's just crazy to not be able to get straight answers.

KING: The city hasn't decided whether homes in this neighborhood should be rebuilt or razed. Berger's insurance company has yet to offer him a settlement.

The cruise ships are scheduled to leave 10 weeks from now. And many officers say they are still waiting word on whether they can get FEMA trailers.

And this week, two weeks before Christmas, some officers begin getting paychecks with no overtime.

City officials blame FEMA, saying federal money for overtime has dried up. FEMA says the police force has not applied for any emergency grants.

BERGER: On a regular check, I might take home $1,000 every two weeks, where before that it was probably double that. It was at least -- I'd say it was at least double that. So I'd say salaries have probably been cut in half with the overtime being gone.

KING: The force with 1,643 officers strong before Katrina, but has lost more than 300 officers. Many leaving to be with families, forced to live elsewhere. And Veteran SWAT Team Commander Jim Arey predicts a lot more will go unless things change quickly.

JIM AREY, VETERAN SWAT TEAM COMMANDER: We're battling with insurance companies, we're battling with the federal government, and we're going to lose a lot of heroes.

KING: We first spoke to Arey a few weeks after Katrina. Back then, it was a police department in crisis, facing allegations of looting and desertion. Arey is also a mental health counselor and says morale is worse now.

AREY: When I say, hey how you doing? They say, hey doc. I say, how you doing? Do you have a house? 85 percent of the time the answer is no, they don't have a house. It looks like this catastrophe has fallen off the radar screen. And that's frightening.

KING: Sgt. Berger vows to bring his wife and two sons back from Texas in January -- even though, halfway through December. When asked where they will live, his only certain answer is not here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Now a bit of relief for that police housing crunch. Today, the city council voted four to three to lift the residency requirements, so police officers now will be allowed to live outside of the city limits. In New Orleans, the police force says that should help a little. There's also talk, Anderson, talk of giving police officers priority when the city finally gets more of those FEMA trailers. To some, that's progress; to others, though, a great source of frustration. Four months later, they're talking about what to do, not doing it -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, so much talk, all these studies. It is so frustrating, especially for the police officers who have been through so much and continue to show up every day and just work under impossible conditions. Chief National Correspondent John King, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

In a moment we're going to speak to TIME Magazine's Baghdad Bureau Chief Michael Ware about what we have learned today, that Iraqi forces had in custody Terrorist Mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but let him go because they did not know who he was. They did not know who they had in custody at the time. That, according to an Iraqi official telling CNN just today.

Also, coming up, in America, millions of couples choosing to be childless. We'll show you one couple's decision and how they made that decision. And also tonight, a remarkable rescue, a mother's desperate decision to drop her baby from a burning building. The baby is caught by the building superintendent. That story coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, 360: There is a growing number of childless couples by choice. We'll explore the reasons why, but first we want to give you some of the stories making headlines at this moment.

A report today says President Bush secretly gave intelligence agents the right to eaves drop on Americans without a warrant. "The New York Times" is reporting the order dates back to 2002 and gives the National Security Agency permission to monitor international phone calls and e-mails involving people in the U.S. The paper says it was an effort to track possible dirty numbers linked to Al Qaeda. Historically, eavesdropping within the nation's borders required a court order.

The Korean stem-cell researcher under fire for work he has admitted was fraudulent is planning to speak out. Cloning pioneer Wang Lu Sook, has returned to his office a Seoul National University. His research team is planning a press conference this Friday to discuss the disputed research, which appeared in "Science" magazine.

And in St. Louis, Missouri, a reservoir retaining wall that gave way was made not of granite, as many had thought, but of earth and rocky rubble. The breach sent 1 billion gallons of water down a mountain, through a state park and onto a rural highway. Three children have been hospitalized for hypothermia after their trailer home was ripped from its foundations by the deluge.

The nation's birthrate is at an all-time low. The CDC says just 14 babies to every 1,000 Americans. It is another new trend and it is often used as an argument in the debate over career and motherhood in today's society. But guess what, this is not just a woman thing. It is also a couples things. Sometimes they are called DINKS, sometimes worse. Selfish or sensible? Randi Kaye talks to the childless by choice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They are a family of two, Jennifer Shawne and Allan Rapp (ph), married five years and child-free.

(On camera): So, tell me why you got married, if you don't want to have kids?

JENNIFER, SHAWNE, AUTHOR, "BABY NOT ON BOARD": We felt like we were a family, we wanted to make that official, even though, we don't maybe look like the traditional family.

KAYE (voice over): Jennifer published this book, "Baby Not on Board", extolling the virtues of life as a non-breeder. Instead of late night feedings, Jennifer and her husband go to late-night parties. Instead of spending weekends on the soccer field and the playgrounds, they sleep late and do yoga. Instead of traveling to Grandma's, they travel the world. And instead of kids, they have cats.

SHAWNE: This is Gina.

The cost of raising a cat is much less than raising a child.

KAYE (on camera): Some people might here that and say that sounds really selfish of them.

SHAWNE: You can turn the tables and say, gosh, isn't it selfish that you've had children that you expect to take care of you when you're old? Isn't selfish that you want a replica of yourself?

KAYE (voice over): Allan (ph) and Jennifer are not alone. According to the National Marriage Institute, back in the 1800s about 80 percent of all households had children. Today, less than one-third do. And there is a slow but not so silent movement underway by those who say, I do, to marriage, but I don't to kids.

The support group, No Kidding!, boasts active chapters in six countries and nearly every state. Web sites, such as childfree.net., and even a lifestyle magazine called, DINK, double income, no kids, advocates ways to spend your time and money when kids aren't in the picture. KAYE (on camera): We came here to San Francisco for our story because it is one of the top cities in America for child-free couples. There are fewer children here than almost every other city in the United States. And the trend is catching on. The latest Census data shows that married couples without children grew by 11 percent over 10 years. We wanted to know why so many couples are trading family for freedom.

(Voice over): So, on a Thursday night, at a time when many families are sitting down for dinner, we sat down for pre-party drinks with Jennifer, Allan, and some of their child-free friends.

BONNIE POWELL, CHILDLESS BY CHOICE: I don't feel like I have that biological urge. It is sort of missing in me. And intellectually, I thought, OK, clock is supposedly ticking. I don't feel it ticking, but I know it is supposed to be ticking.

If we had a kid we would probably be the parents who would leave it in the Wal-Mart, in the parking lot --

(LAUGHTER)

AMY GIBBS, CHILDLESS BY CHOICE: I just don't know that I have the patience in my life to commit to that and a marriage and a business, and do them all equally well.

KAYE (voice over): Amy and Parker Gibbs have been together 24 years, married five. The thought of kids has never really entered the equation, even though, Amy works as a nanny.

GIBBS: I'm a vicarious mom.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm in and out.

KAYE: At the National Marriage Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, co-founder Doctor David Popenoe looks at what the decision not to have children does to the institution of marriage, and the options couples have today.

DR. DAVID POPENOE, NATIONAL MARRIAGE PROJECT: Women have other things to do, at one time they didn't. And they have exciting thing to do and so it's, you know, it's hard to sort of settle for a child.

KAYE: But for these childless by choice friends, it also doesn't seem like there is a point to create, just for the sake of society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have to have kids, you don't have to, you know, produce. And produce children that consume a lot of the resources. So I don't really feel like I've been missing out.

KAYE (on camera): Do you ever worry that one day you might regret not having kids?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really. KAYE: You don't think about that at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got nieces -- I've got nieces and nephews I'm going to pamper them enough so that they'll take care of me in my old age.

(LAUGHTER)

KAYE (voice over): As for our non-breeder author and her husband, they're good to their nieces and nephews, too. And after a little prodding, turns out, they haven't completely ruled out kids yet.

SHAWNE: I like to tell people, I can still change my mind, which if I had children, I could not say.

(LAUGHTER)

KAYE (voice over): Randi Kaye, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Some experts predict the number of married couples without children could go up 50 percent by the end of the decade. So what does it say about our future and ourselves? I'm joined now by two guests. From Louisville, Kentucky, we welcome Doctor Al Mohler, he is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And in Los Angeles, Madelyn Cain, she is the author of the book, "The Childless Revolution: What it means to be childless today".

We welcome both of you.

Albert, why do you disagree with the child-free lifestyle?

ALBERT MOHLER, PRES., SO. BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Well, in the first place I find it incredibly sad. I think most viewers watching that segment that you just very capably put forth, just demonstrates that this is really about avoiding the responsibilities of parenthood. And I find that profoundly sad.

You know, obviously, there is a tremendous moral point to be made here. These couples -- well, they have to be very thankful that their parents didn't make the same decision. And society depends upon parenthood and the raising of children being seen as a norm for married couples and as something that is of social value.

COLLINS: But, Albert, isn't it -- pardon the interruption. Isn't it dangerous to assume that everyone can be a good parent?

MOHLER: Well, you know, I think what is more dangerous is to assume that we're going to say that people can be adults, and be recognized as responsible adults, who don't even aspire to grow up, to be mature enough to have children. I mean, parenthood is a part of helping to create adults. We grow up by having our children. Without that responsibility we have a generation of perpetual adolescents, just growing old. COLLINS: Madelyn, is he wrong?

MADELYN CAIN, AUTHOR, "THE CHIDLESS REVOLUTION": I think he's dead wrong. I think that parenting is an option, it is not an obligation. And I think that we should be applauding the people who are mature enough and making a decision saying I know that this is not the right choice for me. And that's what these couples, that you were talking to tonight, were saying.

COLLINS: But is it possible that we are moving toward a more narcissistic society by choosing to sleep late and going to yoga, over having children?

CAIN: I think to try to lump all childless people together is a little bit dangerous, because unlike a woman who has had a child, there is only two groups of mothers; those who got pregnant, and those who just accidentally got there. The childless group is much more diverse. You have people who are childless by choice and some who cannot have children. And those who accidentally fall into childlessness and that's where we're moving.

COLLINS: Albert, are we grouping all of those people together?

MOHLER: Well, didn't hear anyone in your segment who was having a fertility problem. That's a separate issue. This is childlessness as a chosen lifestyle and that's my big concern. Obviously, I respond to those who are having fertility issues with great sympathy.

But you know, what we're hearing here are people who say I'm mature enough to know I'm too immature to be a parent. I'm going to let other people do that. I'm going to let other people do this. I mean, you look at some of these web sites, the references to children are just so dismissive and condescending and frankly, weird, that -- I mean, obviously, if everyone in society even thought about this for an extended period of time, you know, we would not have any children. We have to understand that parenthood is to be understood as a part of marriage itself.

COLLINS: Madelyn --

CAIN: I don't think --

(CROSS TALK)

COLLINS: Madelyn, the birth rate is going down. You heard the numbers as we came into the segment?

CAIN: Absolutely. The birth rate is going down, but those are choices that people are making. They also went down during the Depression. It is something that society is now in a position -- women now are more educated than they ever they were. They're in the workforce. They were never there before. We have effective birth control. I think that all children should be wanted children. Not children had out of obligation.

COLLINS: All right. To the both of you tonight, we appreciate your time. Albert Mohler and, our friend, from Los Angeles, Madelyn Cain. Thank you so much, the both of you.

CAIN: Thank you.

COLLINS: More to come from Iraq in just a few moments. Including an answer you don't often get directly from the source. What do the insurgents want? "Time" magazine's Michael Ware sat down with a member of the insurgency and asked him flat out. He'll sit down with us after the break.

And, later, forget about catching a baby, when it comes to amazing rescues, you ain't seen nothing yet. You're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (on camera): IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, are the number one killer of U.S. troops in Iraq. It is the insurgents' most powerful weapon. To fight against them the U.S. military uses this, the Buffalo. It's a giant armored vehicle; it's actually made in South Africa, and it has this small crane attached to it. They call it the "spork & arm".

Mounted on the end of the spork & arm is a small camera, which allows the truck operator to safely examine any explosive devices they may find on the side of the road.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Welcome back, we are in Baquba, Iraq. There is a -- the elections yesterday were truly historic. Millions of Iraqis turning out to vote, voter turnout among the Sunnis was far higher, of course, than it has ever been before. CNN -- man! I did it again. "Time" magazine's Baghdad Bureau Chief Michael Ware joins us from.

Michael Ware, every time I introduce you, I say you work for CNN. But you don't I don't know why I'm obsessed with that.

Uh, I have to ask you Michael about what CNN has learned about Abu Musab al Zarqawi, we have learned today, Nic Robertson reporting, that he was, at one point, was in Iraqi custody back in 2004. And they let him go because they didn't recognize him. What have you heard about it?

MICHAEL WARE, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Well, I haven't heard anything specific on it yet. And I have to say, anything that is sources out of this Iraqi government, particularly as it pertains to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, I'm particularly dubious of. However, any of this is plausible. I mean, I have no doubt whatsoever that Zarqawi himself will have passed through countless American checkpoints.

We know that there has been several near misses. In fact, some of the special task force that almost nabbed him in February, American Special Forces, very elite commandos, said to me, you have to respect this guy. His trade craft, is number one. So anything is possible, Anderson. COOPER: I don't understand, though, how can he have alluded capture -- if in fact he has -- how can he have alluded capture for so long. I mean, everyone around must -- wherever he is living -- must know he's there, no?

WARE: I suspect they don't. In fact, I would imagine, that Zarqawi travels with a very small couture (ph). It wouldn't be like a bin Laden of old, moving about with a phalanx of body guards -- not at all. That's not Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

As U.S. intelligence says, this guy is a professional. His trade craft in the covert, spying business is well etched. He has had professional training, some U.S. intelligence officials believe, so you could be right next to this guy and you wouldn't have a clue. His appearance constantly changes. He rarely stays in the one place for very long. I think he could be sleeping in the next room and you wouldn't know it, to be honest, Anderson.

COOPER: Michael, you recently interviewed some insurgents. What did they say about Abu Musab al Zarqawi? About their relationship to these foreign fighters?

WARE: Well, what the senior Baathist commanders and Iraqi nationalist commanders, and Iraqi Islamists commanders, all did was paint a picture of a shift within the insurgency. The tectonic plates have moved yet again.

One year ago, Zarqawi ruled supreme. His influence was so great that he could dictate the momentum in many, many ways. And he would confront the home-grown Iraqi groups who could not stand up to him. Now, however, Zarqawi's group has been Iraqified. Iraqis who joined in the lower ranks have risen up the channels, to a point, according to a Baathist liaison with Zarqawi's group, that should he be killed today, he would be replaced by an Iraqi. This means that Zarqawi's al Qaeda is listening much more to the Iraqi nationalist groups. And that's why we saw so little violence on election day today in Iraq, Anderson.

COOPER: "Time" magazine's Michael Ware. Michael, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

When we come back a remarkable story, a remarkable rescue, out of the United States, out of New York. A mother dropping her baby out of a burning building, caught by a neighbor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Earlier tonight we talked to he man who saved a baby boy thrown from the window of a burning apartment. What he did was truly heroic. And it brings to mind another amazing rescue of a very different kind. CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): What do a baby named Eric and a dog name Pixie have in common? Close calls and CPR. Not since Michael Jackson held his son over a balcony has a dangled baby gotten so much attention. Because this dangled baby was dropped by his mom.

TRACINDA FOX, BABY'S MOTHER: I just prayed and I let him go.

MOOS: Trapped by a fire three floors up in a Bronx apartment, Tracinda Fox held her month-old son out the window as building employees craned their necks, opened their arms, even stretched out a coat to catch the baby. But it was a Housing Authority supervisor who saved the day.

FELIX VASQUEZ, BABY'S RESCUER: I just threw my arms out there, prayed to God, give me a miracle. Boom! Grabbed the baby and just took it from there. Everything happened so fast!

MOOS: It was a catch even a wide receiver would admire.

FOX: I was grateful that he was there. I say he's my son's angel. He was.

MOOS: And after Felix Vasquez made the catch, he gave the soot- covered, unconscious baby CPR, which is what also saved Pixie, the terrier, at a house hundreds of miles away in Salem, Massachusetts. Firemen found Pixie unconscious in a cage.

WAYNE SILVA, SALEM FIRE DEPT.: So, I closed his mouth like this and I put my mouth, literally, like -- sorry, buddy -- like over his snout like that.

MOOS: There are amateur video of the mouth to snout resuscitation. Two firemen did CPR, then gave Pixie oxygen. Actually pet CPR is commonly taught in classes, along with techniques like the Heimlich Maneuver.

But saving Pixie didn't save the firemen from jokes.

RICH LEBLANC, SALEM FIRE DEPT.: My daughter made fun of me afterwards, found out what I did.

SILVA: Oh, really.

LABLANC: Said she's never going to kiss me again.

MOOS: At least they didn't have to catch the dog.

Back in New York Felix Vasquez was demonstrating his catch over and over in interview after interview, despite the computer game where firemen catch victims who jump from a burning building, real firemen say there is no right way to catch a baby. They're taught to use ladders.

MOOS (on camera): There are not baby catching techniques?

CAPT. TOM VENDITTO, NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPT.: Ah?

MOOS: No? VENDITTO: No.

MOOS: Nothing.

(Voice over): Felix Vasquez, by the way, is a catcher on the Housing Authority softball team.

VASQUEZ: That came in handy.

MOOS: But this was one pop fly he dare not drop. A day later this lucky baby was back to being handed rather than tossed. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Maybe they should give'em all those gloves that football players use, with the sticky stuff on them? It might work.

We'll have more 360, live from Iraq, right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice over): In the headquarters for the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry, you'll find the wall of heroes. The 29 members of the brigade killed in action, in Iraq. Heroes like Sergeant 1st Class Alwin Cash (ph), who died of wounds from and IED. First Lieutenant Noah Harris, a graduate at the University of Georgia, and Captain Joel Cahill (ph), a husband, a father of two; heroes all, their sacrifice must never be forgotten.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Want to thank all the men and women of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry, and their commander, Colonel Salazar, for all their hospitality to us here in Iraq and all the remarkable work they've been doing. We'll be in Baghdad tomorrow. Thanks for watching 360. Larry King is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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