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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Breaking Barriers in American Politics; Death Penalty Not Sought in Florida Homeless Attack; China Tightens Foreign Adoption Regulations

Aired January 5, 2007 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you all for joining us on this Friday night.
Across America, racism and intolerance lurk just below the surface. Every night, we're finding and talking about these hidden secrets, bringing them right out into the open.

Tonight: some breaking barriers. There are more women, more minorities, and more diversity than ever in U.S. politics, so, when will the day come that the White House isn't just for white men?

Also "Out in the Open" tonight: Some black employees find a noose at work. Should a cable TV company treat it simply as a bad joke or workplace discrimination?

And who actually is fit to adopt? China says, if you're fat or gay or single, you aren't. Should China get away with it?

Well, thanks again for joining us at the end of an extraordinary week. Your response to our programs about America's widespread, but hidden intolerance has been absolutely overwhelming. And we are convinced the best way to deal with it is to bring it "Out in the Open" and talk about it.

And you have asked to us keep the dialogue going. So, that's exactly what we're going to do right here.

Tonight, we start with barriers that have been up for most of this country's history, barriers that kept political power in the hands of white men. So, after what we have seen all this week on TV, is America beginning a new era of breaking barriers?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): From a distance, the U.S. Congress is still a scene of white male faces. But take a closer look, and you will discover the times are definitely changing.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For our daughters, and our granddaughters, today, we have broken the marble ceiling.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ZAHN: Not only is Nancy Pelosi the first woman ever elected speaker of the House; there are also more women in Congress than ever before. There are three more women representatives, bringing the total to 71. Two more women in the Senate brings that total to a record 16.

It's also the most religiously diverse Congress in history. Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison has gotten the most attention, because he's the first Muslim member. But this Congress also got its first two Buddhist members, one from Hawaii, the other from Georgia.

Twenty-six representatives, one delegate, and three U.S. senators are Hispanic. One senator and 40 members of the House and one delegate are black. More and more, America's diversity is being reflected in our politics, and it's not just happening in Washington.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It's time for a change. And we are that change.

(APPLAUSE)

ZAHN: Deval Patrick is the first Democratic governor of Massachusetts in 16 years, and only the second black governor in U.S. history.

PATRICK: Change is not always comfortable or convenient, or welcome, but it is what we hoped for, what we have worked for, what you voted for, and what you shall have.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ZAHN: America is changing. There are more than 300 million of us now. The Census Bureau projects, there will be 420 million Americans by the year 2050. Only half will be white. And, by then, the number of Asians and Hispanics in the United States will have tripled.

Change is already foreshadowed by the diversity of faces that came to see Nancy Pelosi this afternoon in her childhood hometown of Baltimore. They unveiled the first sign on the first street to be named in honor of the first female speaker of the House.

After what we have seen this week, is it only a question of time before even bigger barriers come down? Is the country ready for its first black president or its first female president? We may find out soon, if we really are at a start of a new era.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Let's bring in tonight's "Out in the Open" panel, Cenk Uygur, a host of "The Young Turks" on the Air America Radio Network, Solangel Maldonado, an associate law professor at Seton Hall Law School, and Roland Martin, executive editor of "The Chicago Defender" newspaper, and host of "The Roland S. Martin Show."

ROLAND MARTIN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE CHICAGO DEFENDER": On WVON.

ZAHN: It always stumps me that a show would bear...

MARTIN: Of course.

ZAHN: ... bear your name.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: And welcome back.

So, we know this is an amazing achievement for Nancy Pelosi. But the fact remains that, in a lot of countries across the world, you have female presidents, prime ministers. What has taken so long for a woman to reach the third highest leadership position?

CENK UYGUR, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, you know, I kept thinking, it's about damn time. And -- and it has taken way too long to get here, but we're finally here.

And it's kind of interesting. It's kind of what the founding fathers envisioned, but didn't really live, you know? And now we have Nancy Pelosi as maybe our generation's founding mother. And she has finally broken through.

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR: And -- and, you know -- and the Republicans say, oh, it's no big deal. You know, we would have done it, too, except, you didn't.

ZAHN: Right.

UYGUR: And there are no women in power in the House on the Republican side.

I can't even name anybody who is in leadership on the Republican -- on that side. And -- and, on the Senate side, you have got Trent Lott, who is the number-two guy. And he voted for -- you know, he wanted a president who was going to vote for segregation. So, it's -- it took the Democrats to break through. And I hope it leads to more and more diversity. This is America of today.

ZAHN: What...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Do you have any faith it will?

SOLANGEL MALDONADO, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW, SETON HALL UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: I think it will.

And I'm actually very -- very glad that this -- that Nancy Pelosi is where she is, because I think it really sends a message to young women.

We have been seeing a lot of attention in the last couple of years to the idea that there are a lot of women of -- in their 20s and 30s who are sort of opting out of, you know, positions of power in corporate America and politics.

And I think part of it is because they thought they didn't really have the opportunity to reach the very top. Nancy Pelosi is an example that things are changing.

ZAHN: Sure, but -- and she crafted that career over many, many decades.

MARTIN: And -- and -- and that was the most -- that is the most critical statement. She cultivated her colleagues. You simply don't run for House minority leader, and, then, of course, they get in control, and she becomes speaker of the House.

You -- you work within that system. You -- you -- you have favors. You raise money. You campaign with them. And, so, she set her sights on it. And she went after it. That is the real lesson, not just the fact that she is speaker of the House, but that she figured out: How do I work in this system and build my credibility to put myself in position to be speaker of the House?

That's what's important to study.

ZAHN: What about the next step, about so much speculation that, soon, we could have at least a very viable black presidential candidate, or perhaps a -- a president down the road?

MARTIN: Well, I -- I really...

ZAHN: Hate to put that to the sole black guy on the panel, but...

MARTIN: Well, you know...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Is that racist?

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Well, considering Senator Obama is the sole black guy in the Senate.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: I think the real -- the real thing about that is, is whether or not -- I just want to see it happen. We keep talking about, are we ready?

But, other than Reverend Jesse Jackson running -- of course, you had Reverend Al Sharpton running. But Reverend Jackson ran a real campaign -- you have not had a credible black candidate run for office -- even when women have run. So, with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton running, you are going to have your chance to actually have two credible, solid candidates run to give people a shot to voting. ZAHN: But will Americans vote for either one of them, if they end up running?

You know, you -- you -- you read about these polls. Was it the -- the Bradbury -- what was it, the effect -- Bradley effect in -- in Los Angeles, where people polled said that they were going to vote for the onetime mayor...

MARTIN: Right.

ZAHN: ... as a black man, and they didn't. And they said they would.

UYGUR: I'm hoping that the country has progressed, you know? And I think Nancy Pelosi is a good sign of that. How much people are in love with Obama is, I think, a good sign for that.

It's hard for me to judge, because I grew up in New Jersey, where it was so multicultural that it was like, of course you would vote for a black person.

MARTIN: Well, keep in mind...

UYGUR: Of course you would vote for a woman.

MARTIN: Keep in mind, Pelosi is different. She got elected by her House members, not by America.

UYGUR: That's true.

MARTIN: That's a difference.

UYGUR: And, so, I don't want to make a judgment on it, but here we have, you know, a new governor in Massachusetts who is black.

And there are so many -- we're finally getting an America that represents all of us. So, I'm hopeful. And -- and I don't know that many people who would just say, no, I'm not going to vote for somebody like that.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Obama will just run to actually see if it is going to happen. But he has to run to do it.

ZAHN: All right.

Cenk Uygur, Solangel Maldonado, Roland Martin, stay right there. We're coming back to you.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: All right, still to come: It has been a history-making week for women in politics, as we were just talking about. But a lot of women get treated like they aren't as smart as men. Coming up in a little bit, I'm going to ask our panel who is smarter. Yes, well there are some studies that some of you might find troubling, at least the conclusion.

MARTIN: This is an easy one. This is an easy one.

ZAHN: Oh, yes, yes, yes. You want to fight me on it?

MARTIN: Brothers, we got it. We got it.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Oh, yes.

MARTIN: We're holding it down. We're holding it down.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: And we're going to look at some scientific evidence that may settle that question once and for all, regardless of what Roland has to say.

But, first...

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: ... a story about intolerance that has been one of the top stories on CNN.com on all day long.

Come up next: a noose left hanging for a cable company's black employees to find.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back.

"Out in the Open" tonight: shocking charges of racism. They focus on a company on New York's Long Island where some workers have filed a racial discrimination claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The charges are shocking, not just because of comments made to African-American employees, also because of what was hanging in their workplace, a noose.

Allan Chernoff has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): James Jackson, a cable TV installer, arrived at his company's Farmingdale, Long Island, warehouse last month to see a vicious, racist symbol, a noose hanging in the equipment area, visible to all, but accessible only to his boss and an equipment manager, both of whom are white.

JAMES JACKSON, FOUND NOOSE AT WORK: I asked Dave, who runs the warehouse, what is that hanging up there?

He said, "It's a noose."

I said, "I know it's a noose, but why is it there?"

And he walked away.

CHERNOFF: Jackson works at 180 Connect, which provides installation services for cable TV operators, such as Cablevision.

Co-worker Shomari Houston, according to the complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, says he asked his white boss, Gary Murdock, why a hangman's noose was in his workplace.

The response? To hang two black employees.

SHOMARI HOUSTON, CO-WORKER OF JAMES JACKSON: I said, "Well, Gary, what's that for?"

He was like: "Yes, I like that. It's cool. I'm going to hang Russell (ph) up there. You think we could get James up there?"

I looked at him like, "You serious?"

CHERNOFF: The noose, a single of mob lynchings, part of our nation's shameful racist history, in a warehouse where the majority of employees are black and management is predominantly white.

Ralph Satterwhite says, he also expressed his displeasure to his voice.

RALPH SATTERWHITE, CO-WORKER OF JAMES JACKSON: I told him: "Listen, you know, guys are not appreciating it. Could you take that down, you know?"

"OK, Ralph, I will take it down immediately."

I waited, came back the next morning. The noose is still up.

CHERNOFF: Next, Jackson says, he openly recorded his conversation with the white equipment manager, Dave Willie.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JACKSON: What's that for, the rope?

DAVE WILLIE, SUPERVISOR OF JAMES JACKSON: For anybody who goes past that door that I don't want them in there.

JACKSON: Hang them?

WILLIE: Yes.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CHERNOFF: Dave Willie, who was suspended with pay, declined to speak on camera, but released a statement to CNN: "I am deeply saddened that a few of my co-workers have chosen to publicly air allegations of racism which they know to be false."

Willie has also filed a complaint with 180, saying he's "a victim of race harassment by several African-American employees." Willie's attorney says his client's comment was taken out of context, with no racial intent. The attorney maintains, Willie is anything but a racist, a man whose first wife of 17 years was black.

The cable installers say, it was no joke.

(on camera): Do you think this was done with evil, malicious intent, or do you think it was just the act of someone who is incredibly ignorant?

JACKSON: I think it's both. Evil intent, ignorance, I think it's both.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): A full week after it first appeared, the noose finally came down.

JACKSON: We asked you to take it down not once, not twice, three times. You don't take it serious.

CHERNOFF: The installers say they never took their complaint to human resources. Instead, they went public. Ten employees filed discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; 180 Connect says it has no tolerance for racism in the workplace, and took action against Willie as soon as it became aware of the incident.

JOEL COHEN, ATTORNEY FOR 180 CONNECT: It's inappropriate to put up any sign of violence in the workplace. And the company is aware that a noose could have racial connotations and could be a very negative symbol to African-American people.

And the company felt, under the circumstances, that where apparently there was no denial that a noose had been put up, that the best thing to do was to suspend this person.

CHERNOFF: But Willie does remain on the payroll. And warehouse manager Gary Murdock continues to work at the company. Murdock has not returned CNN's phone calls.

The company has hired a former judge to conduct an impartial investigation. The installers say they will cooperate only if their lawyer is present, which the company will not allow, arguing, it is not a legal proceeding. That could make it difficult for investigators to learn if the incident was truly a malicious racial threat or simply an offensive act of ignorance and insensitivity.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And though the installers don't work directly for Cablevision, they also named the cable operator in their suit, saying company employees saw the noose and took no action. Cablevision told CNN: "We are deeply troubled by the allegations about 180 Connect's workplace. We expect 180 Connect to conduct a thorough and credible investigation to cooperate with any external investigation, and to take any appropriate actions."

180 Connect has more than 4,000 employees all over the country. Among the cable TV companies it provides installation services for is Time Warner Cable, a division of CNN's parent company.

Let's go straight back to our panel tonight, "Out in the Open" tonight, Cenk Uygur, Solangel Maldonado, Roland Martin.

All right.

MALDONADO: Well...

ZAHN: So, let me just throw this out. What does it say about an individual company, or corporate America, that this noose would have even been conceived of -- of placing in the workplace?

MALDONADO: Well, the first thing, I think, we -- we spend so much time talking about racism has sort of gone underground in America; it's really just unconscious.

What it says is, racism is actually out there. It's blatant. It's right in your face. And we see it. This is a perfect of example of racism in the workplace. He's claiming he's not racist. But what else could it be?

ZAHN: Does he get any pass because everybody is making mention of the fact that he was married to a black woman for over a decade?

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Hey, maybe he tried to string her up, and she left him. I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: But the bottom line is, that's dumb. I mean, if -- if you say, well, I have a swastika on my wall, and I have an office full of Jews, no. This is a matter of history. No.

You understand the correlation between a noose and African- Americans. It goes back to lynching, period. And, so, I don't even understand how he could even try to justify it. I mean, this -- this goes beyond common sense. But, as they say, common sense is no longer common these days.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR: You know, the thing is, though, it's not just people like this guy, who is obviously ignorant. But Senator George Allen of Virginia had a noose in his office, until, you know, it became a problem for him. Then, he took it down. And he said: Oh, I just like the old -- not the lynchings, but when we just used to hang people in the West.

And, you know, I mean, that's -- there's no excuse for that.

MARTIN: Well, maybe he liked to tie knots or something.

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR: And he was a senator from Virginia.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... sort of the least of his problems.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Right. Right.

UYGUR: Well, luckily, we don't have to deal with him anymore. But...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MALDONADO: But what I don't understand is, I -- we -- we try to give him the benefit of the doubt. And he says he didn't mean anything by it.

But, then, if you're told, over and over again, this is really offensive, why wouldn't he remove it immediately? He should have removed it yesterday.

ZAHN: Yes, many, many days later, it's still hanging there.

MALDONADO: Should have removed it yesterday.

MARTIN: Well, I -- I think one of the reasons why people do that is because they don't understand.

And -- and, so, you have to recognize when you may find something funny, you may find something humorous, or you may just say, hey, this is just how I am, yet, it can affect somebody else.

I mean, just imagine if you're a boss, and you're in a workplace, and it's full of women, and you decide to hang some lingerie in your office, just to say, I'm trying to motivate the troops. I mean -- I mean -- I mean, again...

ZAHN: That boss would last about one-and-a-half minutes.

MARTIN: I -- well, you know, we will...

MALDONADO: I'm not sure.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: I don't know.

MALDONADO: I'm actually not sure.

(LAUGHTER)

MALDONADO: I think some -- some people might support him.

MARTIN: Not -- not -- not if he worked for the cable company.

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR: Or not if he was a Republican.

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR: He would be a senator for a long time.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: We have been talking about some of the blatant examples of stuff that has happened to blacks.

UYGUR: Mmm-hmm.

ZAHN: What happens to Muslims on a day-in and day-out basis...

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: ... when it comes to subtle and not-so-subtle prejudices?

UYGUR: Well, you know, it -- it's not really subtle at all, when it comes to Muslims...

MARTIN: No.

UYGUR: ... because they find it acceptable.

Now, it's no longer acceptable to do it to -- to blacks and -- and to Jews, and -- which is a great thing. You know, I'm glad that the country has come to that point. But it...

MARTIN: Me, too.

UYGUR: To this day and age, unfortunately, it's still pretty acceptable for -- for Muslims.

I mean, we -- you talked about it yesterday. Thirty-nine percent of Americans think that Muslims should be carrying around I.D. labeling them Muslims.

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR: That's not acceptable. And they think it's OK, just because it's against Muslim Americans. It's not right. MARTIN: Yes, but...

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR: It's not right.

I'm again, it goes -- I'm sorry -- to the Republican congressman in Virginia, Virgil Goode. And he says: I don't want more Muslims in the country.

MARTIN: Yes, but all...

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR: So, when they send that message, you know, what message do Americans get in the workplace?

MARTIN: But -- but, Cenk, trust me. I know you're on Air America, but this is not just a matter of Republicans. We have Democrats on that same side, as well, who also have their -- their racial tendencies.

The issue is, we really don't want to care about somebody else. We don't want to look at them for who they are. You know, I wasn't walking around, looking at every white guy with a crewcut, going, hmm, there may be one of Timothy McVeigh's boys over there. No.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: I mean, so, you give someone benefit of the doubt.

And, so, it's -- it's wrong when do you that. Again -- and, again, the -- the pain is so amazing when -- when you talk to individuals who have been in that position. I have been there when you have been pulled over by the cops.

ZAHN: Sure.

MARTIN: And, so, when people hear that, then, they go, well, you know, I didn't realize it was that painful.

Yes, because it never happens to you.

MALDONADO: Right.

ZAHN: Well, you're educating us all tonight.

Cenk, Roland, Solangel, we will get back to you in a little bit, a little bit later on tonight.

Coming up next; intolerance, violence, and pictures that spark outrage. Coming up next: What happened when the teenagers accused in these attacks on homeless men went to court?

And, a little bit later on: the new rules about which Americans can't adopt babies in China anymore. Is it discrimination "Out in the Open"? Does it matter whether you're overweight, and you want to adopt a baby? Well, you will see in our report coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Another story we're bringing out into the open tonight: court action today on a disturbing act of intolerance against homeless people in Florida, three teens charged with beating a homeless man to death with a baseball bat as he slept on a park bench last year.

Well, today, the suspects appeared in court in Fort Lauderdale. The prosecution announced that it would not seek the death penalty against any of them. The reason? One of them was just 17 at the time of the crime, too young to be executed, and it would be unfair to seek capital punishment for only two of the three people accused of the same crime.

There was a witness to that crime. And John Zarrella spoke with him in this exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Unforgettable, chilling images caught on tape by chance by a silent witness, a surveillance camera overhead, two teenage boys attacking a homeless man with baseball bats. The man in this attack, Jacques Pierre, survived.

Two other homeless men were attacked that same night. One died from his wounds. Neither of those other attacks was so profoundly recorded. But, in the beating of the man who was killed, Norris Gaynor, who lay sleeping on a park bench, there was a witness, a human witness.

ANTHONY CLARKE, EYEWITNESS: What made me stop is because I seen them standing there with baseball bats.

ZARRELLA: In an exclusive interview, Anthony Clarke told me about his witness to the murder in the early morning hours of January 12, and the decision that haunts him. He was walking through this park after a night out on the town. He heard talking, stopped to listen.

CLARKE: I don't know how much time passed, probably like five or six seconds. Then, I saw the individual with the -- I call it the afro -- that's how I can remember him, the little afro -- strike the individual on a bench.

ZARRELLA: Clarke is describing Thomas Daugherty, the only one of three teenagers involved in the attacks who has long hair. Clarke picked him out of a lineup.

(on camera): So, you only saw the one teenager with the bushy hair strike the -- Norris Gaynor?

CLARKE: Yes. Yes.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Clarke says, the other two teens were on either side of Daugherty. The one on the left had short hair and a bat. Based on the video and other witness statements, that would be Brian Hooks. He, according to Clarke, was goading Daugherty.

CLARKE: Was telling him, like egging him on to, you know, go, go. You know, I don't know exactly what words he was saying, but he was egging him on.

ZARRELLA: William Ammons, the one on the right, had something else in his hand, Clarke says.

CLARKE: I couldn't make it out. And while the guy with the bushy hair was hitting the individual, he pointed it at him, but, like, in a pointing motion, his arm, and I didn't hear anything.

ZARRELLA: Police say Ammons told them he shot Gaynor with a paintball gun. His attorney says that doesn't make him a murderer.

MICHAEL ROTHSCHILD, ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM AMMONS: The medical evidence does not suggest that, you know, injuries that caused the death were in any way inflicted by a paintball gun.

ZARRELLA: At some point, Clarke says, the three teens looked over and saw him. To make sure they didn't come after him, Clarke pretended to have a weapon.

CLARKE: This is when I -- I went like this. I went over this way and put my hands like this in my -- in my pocket, like in my -- up under my shirt, like I had something. And then they walked by. And, then, I walked this way and walked to my truck.

ZARRELLA (on camera): So, they were literally just a few feet from you...

CLARKE: When they passed me.

ZARRELLA: ... when they passed you.

So, you got a good look at them?

CLARKE: Yes.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): To get to his truck, Clarke had to walk by the park bench where Norris Gaynor lay dying.

CLARKE: I don't remember -- remember if he was motionless. I just remember I seen the blood, and I was just focused on that. You know, I was focused on the blood. And, then, that's when I pulled myself on out and started walking this way, towards my vehicle.

ZARRELLA: It was here, Clarke says, he made a decision not to call 911.

(on camera): You didn't make the call.

CLARKE: No. I know I -- I think about it all the time, you know? But, no, I didn't make the call. I didn't -- I didn't call the police. I didn't call emergency, anything. So...

ZARRELLA: Why?

CLARKE: I don't know, man. It was -- I don't know. It was -- I don't know.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): It was about 30 hours after witnessing Gaynor's beating that Clarke called police. Clarke himself had an arrest warrant hanging over his head for driving with a suspended license and a parole violation. He was facing jail time.

But a month after coming to police about Gaynor's beating death, prosecutors testified on Clarke's behalf in that case, and it was dismissed.

Michael Gottlieb, who represents Thomas Daugherty, says -- quote -- "In essence, the state bought his testimony" -- end quote.

If he had only made the call, Clarke says, would Norris Gaynor still be alive?

CLARKE: The guilt made me come back to the scene, you know, and wish I did it all over differently, if I could do it again.

ZARRELLA: John Zarrella, CNN, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And there's this: Prosecutors are still investigating whether the three accused teens were involved in other attacks on homeless people.

Every year, Americans adopt thousands of unwanted babies from China. Now the Chinese are tightening some of their rules. Are they discriminating against people who are too poor, or not attractive enough, or weigh too much? We're bringing this "Out in the Open" next.

Then: the scientific evidence that may finally prove who is smarter, men or women.

What do you think, guys?

Oh, look, they're silent. They're not weighing in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So how would you feel if someone told you you couldn't adopt a baby because you're not thin enough, not rich enough, nor attractive enough? We're bringing this story out in the open tonight because that's exactly what's about to happen when Americans try to adopt children from China, and some people say that is downright discriminatory. China is the most popular country Americans go to for foreign adoptions. Last year, nearly 6,500 Chinese children found parents right here in the U.S. John Vause is in Beijing tonight and he joins me live. So, John, what are some of these restrictions that are about to be put in place that we need to be aware of?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, the Chinese government says these new measures are all about finding better homes for Chinese orphans, so as of this coming May, all foreigners, not just Americans, but anyone from overseas wanting to adopt a Chinese orphan must meet some of these following criteria.

They must not be morbidly obese, in other words, a body mass index of over 40, they must not have facial deformities, they must not take antidepressants.

On the other side of the equation, they must have a net worth of $80,000 or more. They must earn over $30,000 a year. They must also be, this is one of the biggest changes, they also must be a man and a woman who have, in fact, been married for at least two years, aged between 30 and 50. So in other words, no singles.

In the past, China was one of the few countries in the world who would allow singles to adopt kids. They've never allowed gay adoption but they have allowed singles in limited numbers to adopt kids but it seems that will be changing as well, Paula.

ZAHN: So what is the Chinese government officially saying about this, and why they want to institute these changes?

VAUSE: Well, the Chinese government is making no apologies for the new criteria. An official that we spoke to Friday told us in part, Quote, "Our job is to help the homeless children find warm families, rather than just children for childless families."

At the same time we're insisting there's been no change to the actual adoption policy. They're just introducing a preference system, because quite simply, there are so many foreigners who want to come here that they just outnumber the orphans who are available for adoption, and there are lengthy waiting periods for foreigners wanting Chinese kids. They can wait for a year, in many cases sometimes more, Paula.

ZAHN: John Vause, thanks so much for the update.

Joining me now, an attorney Sondra Solovay, an author of "Tipping the Scales of Justice: Fighting Weight-Based Discrimination." She also has a new book coming out later this year. Welcome back.

Some of these rules, I think, are a little bit easier for us to swallow than others. I think some people think it's probably pretty justified that prospective parents have enough money to care for a children, but what about weight restrictions, what about facial deformities, and how that could compromise someone's ability to adopt?

SONDRA SOLOVAY, AUTHOR, "TIPPING THE SCALES OF JUSTICE": These restrictions are definitely troubling. I certainly empathize with the difficult decision of figuring out which adoptive family is going to be the best for a child and the children we're most concerned about. But you simply can't tell by looking at someone if they're going to be a good adoptive parent. We don't have to rent "Mommy Dearest" to remember that a pretty face doesn't mean a pretty family.

And certainly you can't tell the amount of love a parent has in their heart by looking at the number on their bathroom scale.

ZAHN: But on the flipside of all this, doesn't china have the right to create whatever rules it wants to, no matter how unpalatable some of them might seem?

SOLOVAY: Sure, they have the right, they have the obligation to do what they think is best to look out for their children. That's absolutely true. It's an interesting point as well, because some of these agencies that are in the U.S. are going to be in quite a predicament, caught between two different rules, rules in the United States prohibiting them from discriminating based on disability, based on weight, based on marital status and the restrictions that China imposed so it's difficult for the agencies, too, but I think we need to bring our attention back to the children and the idea is to find the children the best, most loving homes they can, and those homes don't come in a particular weight limit or a particular size.

In fact, we have this idea, I suppose, of a traditional home. But when children come from China to the U.S., many will be placed in homes that are going to be mixed race or mixed ethnicity anyway. These aren't traditional homes and it's the diversity in the U.S. that makes those families understand that they have the same rights as any other family.

ZAHN: How many angry calls are you taking from prospective parents out there about these new regulations?

SOLOVAY: I expect my office is going to be absolutely flooded with calls not only from parents, but from the agencies themselves, wondering about their rights and responsibilities. For example, in San Francisco, you can't discriminate based on weight, so an agency in San Francisco is going to have a difficult time walking that line.

ZAHN: Well, Sondra Solovay, we're going to leave that there and get more reaction now. Thank you for your time. From our panel.

SOLOVAY: Thank you.

ZAHN: One more time. Cenk Uygur, Roland Martin, Solangel Maldonado.

Obviously the Chinese government is making it clear it wants to be more selective will prospective parents, it wants to place these children in the best family environment it can. Isn't that justified?

MALDONADO: Absolutely. I think we all know that China is a sovereign country. It has the right to place whatever restrictions on foreigners who are seeking to adopt their children that it wants. And adoption is really about supply and demand, and the reality is that there are many more Americans, many more Westerners seeking to adopt children from China than there are children available so the Chinese government can decide to do whatever it wants.

MARTIN: OK, why? What's the big deal with Chinese children? Enlighten me, please, help me out.

ZAHN: You understand this better than anybody. Why don't we see more Americans adopting black foster children?

MARTIN: That's my point. What's the big deal with Chinese children? Why the infatuation?

ZAHN: You think it's something with the color of their skin? Is that what you're driving at?

MARTIN: Maybe they think they can adopt a smart kid that is going to grow up to be a doctor? I don't know. They need to realize that's called training, not just inherent, it will happen when they're born.

Angel, help me out.

MALDONADO: Absolutely. This is something I've been looking into for a long time. Americans have this love affair with girls from China. There is this belief, this perception, irrational as it might be that if you adopt a little girl from China, she's going to be intelligent, she's going to be more lovable.

MARTIN: Like the porcelain doll.

MALDONADO: We definitely see that idea of the beautiful Chinese little girl, as compared to do, they really want to adopt a black boy.

ZAHN: What difference does it make if the prospective parent has a facial deformity and the prospective parent weighs 70 more pounds than the scale says they should weigh.

UYGUR: I love the idea of them weighing people. All right. So you know, first of all, okay, so gay parents are out. That's a clear rule, but then also Dennis Hastert's out because he's way too fat. They put him on the scale, sorry. But I'd probably be out.

I don't know, maybe I'd have to go on an exercise regimen, to do the body mass indexes they pinch you in all of these different places.

ZAHN: You can fake it, suck it in.

UYGUR: Not me.

MARTIN: Paula, you raise the question - China, first of all, they do have the right to do it, but the flipside is what is the infatuation by Americans and other foreigners when it comes to adopting Chinese children? That is a real issue there, and why do we avoid other children and not just -- children who are here in America, who are looking for homes, and who just like Chinese orphans want a nice place to live.

ZAHN: But realistically, how are you ever going to change that bias?

UYGUR: I think a lot of people are looking for Muslim children these days.

ZAHN: Yeah, right.

UYGUR: Because we started the Iraq war and there's so many orphans. I'm sure they're getting a lot of Iraqi children, right? No, of course, they think it's cute and they're smart and it's really dumb, actually, of course. Roland's right, it's all in the training and it's a shame because all over the world there's other kids that need to be adopted especially in Africa, but for once, the celebrities are doing the right thing there trying to foster that.

MARTIN: Call the queen of Africa, Angelina Jolie. She can hook you up.

MALDONADO: I think what we need to do is we need to break down some of the misconceptions. For example, people believe if they're adopting a child from China, the child is going to be healthier than a child they adopt in the United States and that is just not true. Even if the child is born ...

ZAHN: It defies logic. The quality of the medical care many of these kids have suffered through the first several months of life.

MARTIN: What also ignores logic is that China is having an explosion when it comes to obesity as well so maybe they should start their own million pound challenge like we started in Chicago to deal with Chinese folks who don't want to have overweight kids.

ZAHN: What are some of the other assumptions you think people in America make about the native intelligence of children based on whether you're Hispanic - We had a guest on the other night when you were with us suggesting that Hispanic parents don't take education as seriously as some other sets of our population. There's a very complicated picture here.

UYGUR: And America is changing and some of the assumptions are going to change because of that. What really happens isn't of course that Asians are smarter. Immigrant families foster a culture where they work hard and emphasize education so Jewish families went through that, Asian families went through that. But now Eastern European families are coming and doing the same thing and African families are coming and doing the same thing. So I can't wait for 10, 20 years down the line, everybody's like I've got to have an African child. Because they're all geniuses.

MARTIN: Remember, those are learned traits that you learn based upon how you have been raised.

UYGUR: Of course.

MARTIN: You are simply not born, hey that, kid will have a great work ethic because they were born to an immigrant family. It simply doesn't work that way because you got some lazy immigrant families. What do you think the assumptions Americans make about kids of Asian descent even here in America, they'll work hard, they'll own their store someday.

UYGUR: They'll be brilliant.

ZAHN: All right. Hispanic ...

MALDONADO: Well the idea about Hispanic kids, it's sort of mixed. I think the stereotypes about Hispanic kids are both positive and negative. They believe that Hispanic kids are likely to work harder than black kids, but they also believe that they're not going to be as intelligent as Asian kids.

ZAHN: Muslim kids.

UYGUR: They're going to grow up to be violent.

Who is adopting a Muslim kid? Has anyone adopted a Muslim kid in the last 20 years in America?

MARTIN: You've got somebody sitting there saying, keep the Muslim kid out of chemistry class. Keep them away.

ZAHN: How about black kids?

Do you think the average American out there makes the assumption they'll be lazy and never make it through high school?

MARTIN: I think they probably assume they're going to sing for them like Jay Z and play like in the NBC.

ZAHN: Anybody would love to have Jay Z's career.

MARTIN: I'd rather have Bob Johnson's. He's a billionaire and Jay Z isn't.

ZAHN: Thank you, Roland Martin, Solangel Maldonado. Thank you, all. Appreciate your time.

So on to another controversial question, who is smarter? Men or women? Coming up next, new scientific evidence that may leave you asking if you're as smart as you thought or just intolerant. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: As we saw earlier, it's been a history-making week for women in politics but a lot of women are still treated as if they aren't as smart as men. Now that belief has put barriers in the way of women for centuries. Tonight we bring the issue of that right out in the open. Is there any way to prove which is the smarter sex? Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta found one scientist who thinks he has the answer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Katherine Monkman (ph) and Gardiv Puree (ph) are a good match. Both had near perfect undergraduate GPAs and both are second year med students at the Shulyk School of Medicine (ph) in western Ontario.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're both pretty much equally intelligent. I would say Katherine is a little more intelligent than I am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say he's a flatterer.

GUPTA: So confident they're equal they agreed to take a little test for us, graded by Professor Phil Rushton a psychologist who ignited a new round in the who's smarter, men or women, debate.

J. PHILIPPE RUSHTON, PSYCHOLOGIST: When you extract the general factor of intelligence, males, on average, score 3.64 IQ points higher than women.

GUPTA: Rushton's bold conclusion that men have higher IQs based on his study of the SAT scores of 100,000, 17 and 18 years old, 50,000 male, 50,000 female. Now if you think one sex would be naturally be better on math or verbal, Rushton says forget it, he factored out the bias, finding men on average outscored women by nearly four IQ points.

RUSHTON: Once you start getting up to IQ levels of 115 or 130, what you need for the highest job we're going to get proportions of 60/40, 70/30, 80/20, of men over women.

GUPTA: Rushton's critics charge his conclusions are skewed, and he has an agenda.

REBECCA COULTER, PH.D, GENDER STUDIES EXPERT: We have a very long history of science being used for political purposes, and I think this is just another example of that.

GUPTA: Are there really any innate sex differences? This is a human brain. On display at the Mental Illness and Neural Discovery or MIND Institute, one of the country's top brain researchers tell us as far as IQ goes, men and women are equal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The areas of the brain related to intelligence in women tend to be more in the front. In men, they tend to be more in the side areas. Intelligence in general is normally distributed and equally distributed in men and women.

GUPTA: Now, back to our highly unscientific quiz. Gorev (ph) scored a perfect 10 out of 10. Katherine missed just one question but does she think Gorev (ph) or any of her male colleagues are smarter because they're men?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd have to say no.

GUPTA: Scientists at MIND Institute say someday brain scans may replace IQ tests altogether. It may be worth revisiting the issue then. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: A lot of people like to see that revisited, because they weren't so happy with the conclusion. As we said earlier, response to our programs on intolerance has been absolutely overwhelming. I'm going to read some of your e-mails in just a minute, including one about a report on a new sitcom called "Little Mosque on the Prairie."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Now it's time to bring some of your opinions out into the open. We got an extraordinary number of e-mails about our continuing look at intolerance. For instance our story about a black firefighter who sued the L.A. Fire Department for discrimination after he was fed a firehouse meal laced with dog food as a practical joke. Here is what our panel thought about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Is this a clear-cut of racism, what happened at the Los Angeles Fire Department or just the culture, as we've seen of fire departments perhaps across the country?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It actually might be a little bit of both, and what's very interesting about it is that the black firefighters are not supporting him universally.

ZAHN: So there's no question in your mind that this firefighter was targeted because he was black?

KAREN HUNTER, JOURNALISM PROFESSOR, HUNTER COLLEGE: There's no question. And it's because people are living together, and they don't want to live together in a barracks with black folks who cook for black folks and be in that brotherhood. They don't want that. So what do you do? Make people uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope it's not just ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the way, it's also sexism. How many female firefighters in our nation's fire departments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a whole other issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sexism and racism. It's a very white male institution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And Georgette in Virginia agrees. She writes, "Some of the comments struck me as dead-on from the perspective of a female firefighter who has faced racism, isolation and someone who doesn't fit in the group, as stated by one of the experts in the story, the atmosphere doesn't lend itself to new blood. I can vouch for that."

Then there was our segment about a new television sitcom that pokes fun at the fear of Muslims called "Little Mosque on the Prairie." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been planning this for months. It's not like I dropped a bomb on them. But if that's suicide, so be it. This is Allah's plan for me. I'm not throwing my life away. I'm moving to the prairies. To run a mosque.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Step away from the bag. You're not going to paradise today.

ZAHN: You found that funny or no laughing matter? Will a show like that make it on American TV? Let's ask our out in the open panel now, Roland Martin, Kamal Nawash and Cenk Uygur. What do you think?

KAMAL NAWASH, PRESIDENT, FREE MUSLIMS COALITION: I think it's hilarious. I think it's good. Unfortunately, when Muslims come on the air in the United States, usually they don't smile, they're very serious and so on. This is great. It shows we are all really human beings. When Muslims get together we laugh and make fun of ourselves and we do make fun of others. And I think to show that is great.

UYGUR: Once you make fun of something people go wait a minute, you're right, that's silly. Of course not all Muslims are suicide bombers and of course they're not all bad guys. I don't know why I ever thought that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: But Ruth in Virginia says "I see no humor in 'Little Mosque on the Prairie.' I see a Muslim and I think 9/11. This country has been without mosques since it began, and yes I see the religion in a negative light. I feel threatened by mosques being built in our country."

For the record, research shows Muslims have been living and worshipping right here in the U.S. for at least 180 years. That's just a small sampling of some of the feedback we got from you. We'd love to keep getting your reaction in the open. E-mail us at now@cnn.com. We will read your e-mails and try to get them on the air.

Minutes away from the top of the hour and LARRY KING LIVE tonight, the fourth anniversary of the Laci Peterson murder case. Her mother, Sharon Rocha and defense attorney Mark Geragos are among the guests. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for being with us. On Monday night we're bringing out in the open the controversial story of parents who gave their severely disabled child drugs so that she'd stay small and be easier to take care of. They call her their pillow angel.

Once again, that's it for all of us here tonight. Again, thanks for dropping by. Have a great weekend. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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