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Travolta Family Mourns Loss of Son Jett; Obama Unveils Massive Tax Cuts

Aired January 5, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, the remains of John Travolta's beloved 16-year-old son soon heading home to Florida after an autopsy in the Bahamas today. Jett Travolta's death certificate lists seizure as the cause of the sudden passing. His celebrity parents say they are heartbroken by their loss. How can they cope? We've got the very latest on the Travolta family tragedy.
Plus, President-elect Barack Obama returns to Capitol Hill and he's talking tax cuts for you. But CNN's Ali Velshi doesn't think the numbers add up. We'll get his bottom line advice on beating the current financial crisis, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

More on the tragedy in the Bahamas. Here in L.A., Carlos Diaz, correspondent for "Extra" is with us. And on the phone in the Bahamas is Dr. Hubert Minnis, the Bahamas minister of health, Obie Wilchcombe, the former minister of tourism for the Bahamas. He was with the Travoltas in the hospital on Friday the day their son died. And Keith McSweeney, the owner of the Rescue Memorial Mortuary and Crematorium in the Bahamas. It's the funeral home that handled Jett Travolta's remains after they were released following today's autopsy. What's the latest, Carlos?

CARLOS DIAZ, CORRESPONDENT, EXTRA: The latest is today they performed the autopsy. The autopsy is performed at the funeral home. They listed seizure as the cause of death. And the very latest is that Jett's body is now at the airport and being ready to be transferred back to Florida, so they're wanting to get out of the Bahamas. As you should know, they would want to be out of the Bahamas.

KING: No explanation beyond seizure?

DIAZ: No, no explanation at all from the autopsy. And as you said yesterday, it could be weeks before we know. And if it's a seizure, it's going to be tough to tell with an autopsy whether it's a seizure or not anyway.

KING: Considering the remains, earlier today, a black hearse was seen going into the Bahamas Airport. The assumption was that it held Jett's body. But now the director of the funeral home says no, that there was a cremation. And we have the director of the funeral home with us on the phone. Keith, what's the story?

KEITH MCSWEENEY, DIRECTOR, FUNERAL HOME (on phone): The body was cremated. The hearse that you saw going to the airport, that was an unrelated matter. KING: Was it a ruse to try to fool people or was it just a hearse?

MCSWEENEY: No, it was a private matter. The funeral does the most cases and it was a private matter. It was another matter, but, you know, I guess the press saw it and assumed that was Jett's body.

KING: Where are the remains from the cremation?

MCSWEENEY: Pardon me?

KING: Where are the remains -- the ashes from the cremation?

MCSWEENEY: The ashes from the cremation is in my custody, sir.

KING: Will it go to Ocala, Florida?

MCSWEENEY: Pardon me, sir?

KING: Will it go to Ocala, Florida?

MCSWEENEY: I'm not sure. It is going to be turned over to family members and they'll decide exactly where they want to take it.

KING: Carlos, is there going to be a funeral?

DIAZ: Yes, they're going to have a funeral later this week in Florida. That's the word we've gotten. You know, you can see why they would want to cremate the body. You know, they want to have it so they can take it back to Florida with them. But this is a situation where the Travoltas are still in a state of shock. John Travolta and Kelly Preston still grieving massively over this. And John's friends are saying that he'll never recover from his son's death.

KING: Dr. Minnis, the hearse that we just saw which Keith McSweeney says was not a ruse, it was just another body going to the airport, do you -- what was your read on that? Did you think that this was a decoy?

DR. HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMAS MINISTER OF HEALTH (on the phone): I know nothing about the hearse being at the airport. Not related to that or any other incident. So Keith and a mortician would know more about that than I would.

KING: He's already said, yeah.

MINNIS: But the policy matters with respect to the autopsy itself.

KING: He said it was not a -- not a ruse. But the autopsy has a simple meaning saying seizure. Isn't there anything beyond that, doctor?

MINNIS: Well the autopsy was performed by two and a coroner's case and in cases like that, the report -- the official report had left and the coroner authorized. Obviously the body is being released and therefore the coroner would have released the report to the family. And we maintain and a certain degree of confidentiality would only release an official report under the authorization of the family.

KING: How long was the autopsy, doctor?

MINNIS: The autopsy took several hours.

KING: Are there further toxicology reports still to be given?

MINNIS: Doing the autopsy report, obviously the technical people will be in a better position to answer that. But doing a standard autopsy report, especially if there's involvement with the coroners, it would take assessment for toxicology, that is standard procedure.

KING: Obie Wilchcombe, you're a friend of the Travoltas. Are you surprised they chose this kind of dealing with the remains?

OBIE WILCHCOMBE, FRIEND OF TRAVOLTAS (on phone): No, Larry, not surprised. They've had to lead with a numbers of matters of the last several days and of course, they're trying to find the way to deal with the matter, to get beyond as quickly as they possibly can. But as you're, one of the guests said earlier, it's been a very difficult time and they're still grieving profusely over what has had happened to their son Jett.

KING: By the way, it seems tragically unnatural. But the parents having to bury a child, sadly John Travolta is no stranger to loss. He talked with me about that in 2001. Watch.


KING: You've known sadness though, right? You lost...

JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: I lost my girlfriend. I lost my mother, my father, my manager.

KING: Nearly lost your son.

TRAVOLTA: Nearly lost my son. With my son, it was again, it was about seven years ago. And I was obsessive about cleaning, his space being clean. So we constantly had the carpets cleaned. And I think between him, the fumes and walking around, maybe picking up pieces or something, he got what is rarely a thing to deal with, but it's called Kawasaki's Syndrome and it's very easily handled if you identify it. And we did, and it was handled within 48 hours but that 48 hours was --

KING: What happened to him? Was he knocked out?

TRAVOLTA: No, he wasn't knocked out. It was the immune system overreacts because they have almost the equivalent of metallic chemical in their bodies responding.

KING: You knew that right away? TRAVOLTA: No, no, the doctor knew that right away. We didn't what was wrong.

KING: And he was what, how old?

TRAVOLTA: He is nine now, so he was probably two, two and a half. It was like your little one I met today. Imagine, and I thought I was tough, with of the loss I had been through.


KING: John Travolta. Keith, do you know any further plans as to when the Travoltas might be flying to Florida?

MCSWEENEY: No, I don't, it will be sometime this week.

KING: I would think they would take the remains with them. Thank you Keith McSweeney, the owner of the Rescue Memorial Mortuary. The rest of our panelists remain. Don't forget about our blog at We're receiving lots of heartfelt comments about this story. You can feel free to join in. Famed pathologist Cyril Wecht is here and he'll join the panel after the break.


KING: Carlos Diaz, Dr. Hubert Minnis and Obie Wilchcombe remain. With us, joining us now from Pittsburgh, our old friend Dr. Cyril Wecht, the forensic pathologist, who by the way has a new book coming out called "A question of Murder." Dr. Wecht, before I ask you about the autopsy and the light, I want Carlos Diaz to read what he got on the wires this afternoon.

DIAZ: Yes, it's kind of an interesting point. We just talked about the body being cremated, the body of Jett Travolta being cremated. This afternoon on the A.P., Glen Campbell told the "Associated Press," Glen Campbell being the assistant director of the funeral home, tat the body was in great shape, that the body had been delivered to the funeral home, he says to the "Associated Press," the body is in great condition, showing no signs of head trauma whatsoever. So the body but not cremated because of the appearance of the body. There had to be a different reason.

KING: Dr. Wecht, what do you make of this? To die of seizure and he supposedly hit the bath tub, but they report no signs of stress on the body?

DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well Larry, convulsive seizure disorder is a diagnosis which is valid. And I've signed out many cases over 45 years with that diagnosis. However I must say that before you can make that diagnosis comfortably and with scientific accuracy, you must first rule out a couple of things.

You have to get microscopic examination of tissues because sometimes there can be a viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, which you will not see with the naked eye and you also have to get toxicological analyses because that is also something that cannot be visualized at all, not only not quantitatively, but not qualitatively. So I'm a little surprised, frankly, that they made the diagnosis so quickly.

KING: So this appears like a premature autopsy report.

WECHT: Well, I must say that it is premature. You cannot make a diagnosis of convulsive seizure disorder like you make a diagnosis of a myocardial infarct, a pulmonary embolism, a brain tumor. It is not something you can see. It is only something you can ascertain through an exclusionary process. And that requires the elimination of all reasonable possibilities. And I think you would find that any good forensic pathologist in this country would not sign out a case before having seen the slides of microscopic tissues and having gotten the report back.

KING: Dr. Minnis, what do you make of that since you're the minister of health? There were two pathologists assigned. And Dr. Wecht is saying it seems like an early diagnosis here.

MINNIS: I am not a pathologist, but our pathologist, our senior pathologist who performed the autopsy is American qualified, American board certified. She is a clinical pathologist and a forensic pathologist. She has finished top in the class in the U.S. So we have the most utmost confidence in our report. As I said, the official report was not released other than to the family. And therefore I cannot comment on what was written on the official report. But, again, like I said, I'm not a pathologist, but our report was done by a very, very knowledgeable and trained individual.

KING: Obie Wilchcombe, is that satisfactory to you?

WILCHCOMBE: Well Larry, the family doctor was also during the day and in fact, the family doctor was at the funeral home this evening when we were there just after 6:00 when the body was being cremated and there was sense of satisfaction that everything was moving, and that everything had been done professionally.

So you would conclude that the family doctor and others who were there, the family doctors sat in on the -- on the autopsy today, so you conclude that everyone is satisfied with the returns.

KING: Obie, was the family there for the cremation?

WILCHCOMBE: No, the family wasn't there. There was a family friend and there was the family doctor who was there for the cremation. And that took place, began late afternoon and continued and of course the ashes are now in the urn and they will be returned to the family.

KING: Carlos, you're a program reporter tonight on an interview given by EMT chief Marcus Garvey. I'm going to ask you about that when we're back in 60 seconds.


KING: The emergency tech on your program tonight, respondent chief Marcus Garvey, he responded to Friday's emergency call at the residence. What did he see?

DIAZ: Well, I mean basically he saw Kelly Preston and obviously she is the wife of John Travolta and the mother of Jett Travolta. And just distraught and she kept saying to him over and over again, is my boy going to be OK? Is he going to be fine? Can you bring him back to me? And this and that. And obviously it shows the amount of emotion that is going on with this family right now.

KING: Dr. Wecht, once he's cremated, you can't do any of the kinds of tests you would have liked to have done, right?

WECHT: Well, tissues presumably were taken and slides can still be made and body fluids, blood, bile, and urine presumably were taken. And toxicological studies, they can be done.

I am not questioning the validity of the diagnosis. And as I understand it, there is a very well defined, long-time history of a compulsive seizure disorder. So most likely, the diagnosis is correct. However, I will repeat that it is simply premature. And I just am a little puzzled.

Not by the cremation, people have the right to cremate a body. It is happening with increasing frequency in the United States of America with people of all religious faiths. I'm saying that contrary to what usually happens with celebrities when the news media are clawing at the doors and they tell him wait and days and days go by and weeks and sometimes months, I'm just a little puzzled by the rapidity by which that diagnosis was divulged.

Not that they don't have a right to disclose it and not that it is incorrect, it most likely is correct. But I will repeat one more time, you have to see the slides microscopically. You cannot see things with the naked eye and the heart muscle. You have to get back the tox report from the toxicologists. You cannot see with the naked eye. And I don't care how good they are and how many autopsies they've done. They could have done 5 million, these are things that cannot be physically accomplished in three or four hours. They take days.

KING: Dr. Minnis, how do you respond to that?

MINNIS: I think the doctor would agree that there are other -- like I said, I'm not a pathologist. But the doctor would agree that are other matters to be taken into consideration, in that the doctor would have had access to the medical records and medical history. You would review those. All of that would have some bearing on the diagnosis. Obviously martial arts -- physical injury would have been looked for, especially if there was some history that the individual had taken a fall or whatever else. But the medical history and whatever medication the individual may have been on in the past, obviously would have some bearing and would assess the pathologist in which area they should zoom in on or concentrate on.

KING: That makes sense, Carlos?

DIAZ: But there is no controversy here as there was in the Anna Nicole Smith case. This was a boy who has two loving parents. They lost their son and they --

KING: Dr. Wecht isn't saying that.

DIAZ: But they chose to cremate him whether it's premature or not. I don't think they really are searching for a cause of death as much as much as another case. They just know that their son is gone and they wanted to cremate them. I don't think there's any controversy here as far as the parents wanting to know specifically how they died. They say it was a seizure. They're satisfied with that. Let's cremate the body.

KING: Obie, did you say last night that the parents attended the autopsy?

WILCHCOMBE: No, no, I didn't. I said the parents had made a request for their family doctor to attend the autopsy. The request was made on Friday, granted by the hospital that attended today.

KING: The Travoltas call Ocala, Florida, home. The mayor of Ocala knows John and Kelly and he'll be here after the break.



KING: How do you like fatherhood?

TRAVOLTA: Love being a father, outstanding.

KING: Now your boy, he gets to see your movies, right?

TRAVOLTA: Well, he's only seen "Michael," "Grease" and "Look Who's Talking." Now as he gets older, he may be able to see the others.

KING: What's it like to have a little 1-year-old daughter?

TRAVOLTA: Well she is already, has me around her, owns me, absolutely.


KING: Joining our panel now, in Ocala, Florida is Randy Ewers, the mayor of Ocala. Now that's where the Travoltas live. What can you tell us about the funeral plans, mayor?

RANDY EWERS, MAYOR, OCALA: Right now, Larry, I don't know anything about the plans. I know our offices have been talking to John's office and we're doing everything we can to help them out with the process.

KING: So the family representatives are working with city representatives?

EWERS: Yeah, both city and county representatives.

KING: They have a home in Ocala. You know them well. What can you tell us about them as a couple?

EWERS: They're just a fantastic couple, very family oriented like a lot of people in our community. And certainly we're very sad about the unfortunate events for one of our community members there, just they're part of the community. And it's very unfortunate.

KING: Do they get out and about in Ocala?

EWERS: Yes, they do. They -- they'll come out to -- they'll be at some of the restaurants, they'll be out in the shopping mall, they'll be out at different times. But they've always been part of the community. John goes and works out at the local gym. And Kelly at the kids are out is some other areas as well.

KING: Randy, have you seen a lot of media influx since the death of the boy?

EWERS: Yes, we have. It's picked up as of recent and based on what we've seen now in the Bahamas, we're expecting a lot more in the next couple of days.

KING: Yes because of the funeral, it's going to be worse, right? They will be coming from everywhere.

EWERS: Yeah, that's what we believe. We're trying to prepare for them. And we're going to do our best to help the family through their grieving process.

KING: Thanks, mayor -- Mayor Randy Ewers. Again, no plans made, working on it right now for the funeral. Randy is the mayor of Ocala and that's where the Travoltas live. And that's what they will like, right, Carlos? They are regular people. They stayed away from the Hollywood film truck.

DIAZ: And they really are. They wanted to be in Florida, away from Hollywood. And when you would talk -- Kelly is great. When you talk to Kelly on the red carpet, she's so natural. John is one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Yet when you talk to him one-on-one on the junket or on the red carpet, he always looks you right in the eye, always gives you an honest answer. They tried to stay away from the Hollywood machine. They've been married since 1991, which you deserve a medal in Hollywood if you've been married for almost 20 years. And so they had a solid relationship.

KING: Obie, he was also quite a part of the Bahamas scene, was he not?

WILCHCOMBE: Yes, I listened to the mayor just now, he describes how John behaved in the Bahamas as well. And what your guest just said about how John had a may of making you feel bigger than you are, in fact, bigger than he is, because he's a real person. He gets into you and he wants to understand more about you, about your family, about your community.

So he got around and people around the old Bahama Bay in West End, they truly liked him. They liked Jett, they like Ella, they like his wife, they liked the entire family.

KING: Frankly, Dr. Wecht, is there more pressure, do you feel more pressure when you're doing an autopsy of a famous person or the relative of a famous person?

WECHT: Well, certainly you do, theoretically. Every complete postmortem examination should be done the same whether it is a pauper found on the street or a nationally prominent individual.

But obviously that is being disingenuous. You know that when the eyes of the world are focused upon you, you're going to be more diligent and more careful. And that's why the only thing I'm saying is that nothing was done wrong here and the family indeed has a right to make a determination how quickly to bury the child and whether or not to have him cremated. I don't question that for one moment.

I'm just saying that -- and I agree with the other panelists who made the statement and obviously it must be correct, that the family really wasn't that concerned about the specific pathological explanation. They lost their child. This is a great tragedy and there's nothing like it in the world I can imagine than to lose a child. And that was it. They were satisfied that the autopsy had to be done.

KING: All right.

WECHT: Sudden death and it's all over.

KING: I got you. Next we'll be hearing from you -- your blog comments are coming right up, stay with us.


KING: Our blogs been busy tonight with your comments about the Travolta tragedy. Let's check in with David Theall to hear what you're saying. David?

DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, we've been tracking the story, of course, for the last couple of days on the blog. Those who stopped by the blog generally fall into three camps: those who are expressing their condolences, those who want to talk about Kawasaki's Syndrome and have questions about it, how it has touched their lives, and also some of the controversy surrounding Jeff's death and John Travolta. We're going to get to those.

First up is Debra. She was one of the ones who stopped by to offer a condolence. Says Debra, "John Travolta is well loved by the American audience. His sorrow, thus, is our sorrow."

Larry, I also have to tell you that there are a lot of people who are taking the media to task, those who drop by the blog, to say that Jett was not only John Travolta's son, but he had a mother also, Kelly Preston. They're encouraging the media to remember that in this reporting.

Kristin is one of those ones who had a question about Kawasaki's. She said, "while Kawasaki's may have chronic effects, it's not a chronic disease. According to her, there have been no reported neurological effects associated with Kawasaki."

Now, we also heard from people, Larry, who are talking about the controversy surrounding Jett's death, and perhaps how John Travolta has lived his life. To that, we hear from Angela, who said "I know there are many questions about what Jett had and what treatments he got and what the Travoltas believe. But for now, they are a family in pain and we should all be thankful that we're not in their shoes today."

We're going to continue this conversation on the blog, As always, look for the live blog link. Click it. We're having the conversation under the link about Jett Travolta tonight. Larry?

KING: Thanks, David. David Theall. This is such a tough, tough story to deal with.

DIAZ: I think Angela hit it on the head right there. No matter what people are saying about John Travolta's beliefs or what not, the bottom line is Jett Travolta was loved by his father, and his father is in a state of just misery, and Kelly Preston. To say that he wouldn't care for him in every single way possible is ludicrous.

KING: Dr. Minnis, do you know if any kind of memorial is planned for Jett in the Bahamas?

MINNIS: No, I know of no such memorial or anything of that nature.

KING: Would that be a good idea?

WILCHCOMBE: Yes, we're considering something in West End, where Jett was, with community. In fact, some of the members of the community spoke to me about it. They're thinking about some, maybe this week, early next week, something to celebrate his life or reflect on him being here, because the Travoltas will continue to be residents of West End. They'll continue to come back.

KING: Dr. Wecht, I've got a time situation here. But quickly, can an autopsy detect autism?

WECHT: No. That's the simple answer.

KING: No, it cannot. Do we know, Carlos, if he had autism?

DIAZ: There is controversy there, because Joey Travolta, who is John Travolta's brother, according to London tabloids, he believed that Jett had autism. According to the London tabloids, it caused a rift in the family between John and Joey and Kelly and Joey. So that is what the London tabloids are reporting today.

KING: Is Joey a Scientologist?

DIAZ: I don't believe so. KING: Thank you, Dr. Wecht, Dr. Minnis and Obie Wilchcombe. Callers will remain. What do Scientologists believe happens when you die? We've got a fascinating segment with a professor of alternative religions.

Plus, Deepak Chopra. Don't go away.



TRAVOLTA: Life is overwhelming. Life is not easy. Life is tough. You need something that really works and helps you actually, not promises to help you then not fail. That's why I've always love Scientology, because it offers help and it works.


KING: In that regard, Dr. Steven Kent of Alberta, Canada joins us, professor of alternative religions at the University of Alberta. Here in studio, Deepak Chopra, spiritual teacher, "New York Times" best-selling author. His latest book is "Jesus, a Story of Enlightenment." Dr. Kent, let's run through some of these things. Will Jett get a Scientology funeral.

DR. STEVEN KENT, UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA: Of course, we don't know for certain, but it's highly likely. Scientologists sometimes have a secular funeral, as well as a Scientology one. Isaac Hayes had different funerals. But in this instance, when the parents are both so devoted, it is highly likely that funeral will be a Scientology one.

KING: What is a Scientology funeral?

KENT: A Scientology funeral is conducted by a person who is ordained inside the organization as a minister. But what perhaps separates the funerals from other funerals in different traditions is that Scientologists believes that the major focus of a person is not the body, but something that outsiders might call a spirit. Scientologists call it a Thetan. Scientologists believe that a Thetan goes from body to body. That is to say, after this body dies, the Thetan will likely reattach to another body in the future.

KING: Do you think -- I'm sorry --

KENT: These reattachment to bodies can go on for eons and eons, for long periods of time. Outsiders might call it a form or reincarnation.

KING: Is cremation usually occurred when Scientology members dies?

KENT: As far as I know, Scientology has no real policy about how to dispose of the body. One has to keep in mind, for example, that Scientology's founder. L. Ron Hubbard, was cremated.

KING: Do Scientology members train to relieve grief of fellow members?

KENT: Certainly there are people inside the Scientology organization, people who do what Scientology calls auditing. It's a form of counseling or pseudo-counseling. These people are trained to use Scientology techniques in ways that they hope will alleviate the grief of the parents. Again, the way it's likely to be done is to focus less upon the body -- certainly celebrate the person's life -- but more on the eternal nature of that Thetan that will continue to go on and on.

KING: How do you feel about that?

DEEPAK CHOPRA, SPIRITUAL TEACHER: I think anything that offers solace to a person, if they feel solace from it, it's fine. I mean, we have -- I don't know much about Scientology, but I know just that a lot of people who go to Scientology are off drugs, are off alcohol, are off various kinds of addiction. So they must be getting something out of it and we shouldn't question that.

KING: Don't they have a very good record in getting people off drugs?

DIAZ: Yes, that's something that Scientologists say over and over again, that drugs are not part of Scientology. So if they can get someone off drugs, because there's no drugs involved, it's a great track record to have in the religion.

KING: John Travolta lost his lover, actress Diana Highland, to cancer when she was 41 and he was in his early 20s. He talked to me about coping with that. Watch.


KING: Are you able to deal well with loss?

TRAVOLTA: I don't know really how to answer that, because I think you --

KING: Paul McCartney said you just -- he cried.

TRAVOLTA: Of course you do. I think what happens is that you always miss that person.

KING: They're always around you.

TRAVOLTA: The crying you have to do. Just don't bypass that.

KING: Don't be strong.

TRAVOLTA: Forget that. I just meant that I was tough in getting used to the fact that the people die, but not tough to the idea that loss wasn't significant to me, because it is and it always will be. The magnitude of that is very big. And you do feel it deeply.


KING: Professor Kent, do Scientologists believe in a heaven?

KENT: There's really no necessary doctrines about heaven. There are some earlier, high-level, secret documents about where Scientology -- where L. Ron Hubbard claimed to have visited heaven. In one instance, he found heaven shabby. Those statements of Hubbard really play little, if any, role in any kind of funeral service.

KING: Deepak, do you believe in heaven?

CHOPRA: As a state of consciousness. I think heaven is upgrading delusion and hell is downgrading delusion.

KING: Do most religions believe in some form of heaven?

CHOPRA: Most religions believe in some survival of consciousness after death, yes.

KING: Life after death.

CHOPRA: Some form of survival of consciousness.

KING: It makes you feel good too.

CHOPRA: Yes, I think religion is founded on the fear of death.

KING: We'll be back with more in 60 seconds.


KING: Is Scientology big in Canada?

KENT: It is not really large. There's some concentrations of Scientologists in Vancouver, Toronto, some number in Edmonton, and a few other cities, Winnipeg. So there are probably several hundred, maybe a few thousand, but not larger than that.

KING: Carlos, have you had a deal with death?

DIAZ: Yes, of course. Everyone has a deal with death.

KING: Close?

DIAZ: Yes, you deal with it in your own way. You grieve in your own way. It molds you and affects you. When you have someone that is very close to you, like John and Jett were very close, it stays with you for the rest of your life.

KING: You got a good formula for it, Deepak?

CHOPRA: Dealing with death -- we all have to deal with death. Dealing with the death of a child is almost the worst thing that can happen. The child comes out of you. He's part of you. She's part of you. So it's -- something has been wrenched from your physical body almost. And I think one has to recognize that no one else can feel the pain that parents can feel when their child dies. And it can only be dealt with if you kind of replace that intimacy with a newer intimacy. It's very important, because death is the loss of intimacy, in a sense.

So right now, when people feel that pain, they should become even more intimate with each other and use that to kind of fill in the void. They should be feeling the pain, expressing the pain, ultimately releasing the pain. That's the part of rituals as well.

DIAZ: And keep in mind, John Travolta is not an accountant. He's not going to have to go back and crunch numbers. You're an actor. You have to draw from emotions. This could be a good thing, but it's probably going to be a bad thing, because you have to go and you have to emote. You have to use those emotions to use. If you don't have emotions to use, then you're out of luck.

KING: Dr. Kent, there can't be a formula for dealing with the death of a child, can there?

KENT: No, it's difficult all religious traditions and all belief systems. It's a terribly hard and stressful thing. The Scientology emphasis on the reincarnation may give some solace to some members, however.

KING: They believe in reincarnation?

KENT: They don't use that term. But it's essentially the Thetan coming back and attaching itself to a body and dying and attaching itself to a body, over and over and over again.

KING: How are you spelling that Satan?

KENT: Thetan.

KING: Oh, Thetan. I see. Wouldn't return be an encouraging thing? If I thought I was going to come back again --

CHOPRA: There's return of a person, because a person is constantly transforming. You're not the same person you were when you were a child or when you were in adolescence. Which one of you is going to return when you go to heaven? Are you -- who comes back. When you realize that consciousness is constantly transforming, there's no such thing as a person. There's only the universe behaving as a person.

KING: Thank you all very much. Carlos, thanks very much. Probably see you tomorrow. Deepak Chopra, as always, great seeing you. Thank you for your information, Dr. Steve Kent, professor of alternative religions, University of Alberta.

President-Elect Obama is talking tax cuts. Our own Ali Velshi says not so certain. We'll hear him next.



KING: Joining us now in New York is Ali Velshi, CNN's chief business correspondent, author of a terrific new book "Give Me My Money Back, Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis." I have the book right here. There you see its cover. The word is that Obama wants to devote about 40 percent, around 300 billion of his economic recovery plan to individual tax cuts and some business cuts too. What are your thoughts?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, the business cuts are actually pretty targeted. In other words, there are cuts for businesses that want to spend more money, more expenses. That should stimulate the economy. There are cuts for businesses that will hire people or rehire people that are laid off. That should encourage people to be hired.

But there's an individual credit, if you will, that will come right on your pay check. It won't be like those stimulus checks. Five hundred dollars for an individual, 1,000 dollars for a household or a family. We don't know what the limit, the cap is on that. But, honestly, Larry, the last stimulus checks didn't work. If they worked, we wouldn't be in this recession right now.

Fundamentally, if you're an American in need because you're losing your house or you are losing or have lost your job, the 500 dollars isn't going to help you. If you're not an American in desperate need, while 500 dollars is helpful, it's not going to do anything for you either. Fundamentally, this business of spreading these tax cuts around seems more political than sensible right now. We need targeted help for home-owners and for people losing their jobs.

It's likely that some of the stimulus bill will have help for people who are jobless, an extension of Cobra and unemployment benefits. But it's a bit of a departure from what we expected President-Elect Obama to be doing, Larry.

KING: Ali, won't it depend on everybody spending every penny out buying something, not saving it?

VELSHI: Right, that's part of the problem. Back in Spring, last Spring, when we had the first stimulus checks, they went to high energy prices and they went to people paying down their debt. Credit is harder to come by than it was last spring. I'm not entirely sure people are going to go out and buy a TV set or dinner for everybody or put it down on a car. That's the problem. That's why it's not targeted.

While many people are very frustrated by everybody else who's been given a bailout, part of the reason is because individuals, if not directed as to how to spend that money, may well not spend it. Why not invest it in creating jobs or fixing other things?

Again, Larry, I should tell you, 60 percent of this stimulus bill could go towards other things that will create work. But this is a bit of a surprise that there are going to be rebates.

KING: How about giving business tax incentives if they create jobs? VELSHI: That's part of this 40 percent, or 300 billion, will be if a business actually creates jobs or undoes layoffs, they'll be able to claim some credits. Also, if they want to expand by creating business expenses, things that they are buying for their business, that's useful to the economy. They're doubling the amount of money that small businesses or medium businesses can claim on expenditures. While that wasn't part of the Democratic platform -- it's much more of a Republican philosophy -- it actually could be proven to work.

There are things in here that could work. We know we're not going to get this package by Inauguration Day, which had originally been promised. But what Barack Obama is doing is trying to walk that middle ground between what he wanted to do and said he would do, and what Republicans will let him do without much of a fight.

KING: Some pretty smart people have come up with this though, haven't they?

VELSHI: Yes, that's part of it. There are smart people who know, quite frankly, that the stimulus program a year ago, that involved giving people cash, did not work. That's the surprising part, Larry. He's got an All-Star team handling the economy. That's why this seems entirely political. The only argument against it, Larry, is that he has the mandate to do this. We are in a tough economy. He's got to take exceptional measures. Why do the thing that just seems politically right and may not be the most economically sensible right now?

KING: Well said. I'm going to get a break and come back with more. Ali Velshi, CNN's chief business correspondent, author of "Give Me My Money Back." Don't go away.



OBAMA: Right now, the most important task for us is to stabilize the patient. The economy is badly damaged. It is very sick. We have to take whatever steps are required to make sure it's stabilized.


KING: Will the economy improve in 2009? That's our quick vote. Head to and vote right now. Ali, what's the biggest mistake people are making in this crisis?

VELSHI: Taking their money out of the market, thinking that because they were really hurt in 2008 that they have to walk away from this. The market doesn't care that you were hurt and it doesn't care that you were emotionally scarred by it. The bottom line is stocks are on sale. There are six billion people on this Earth. There are 300 million Americans. We are fundamentally healthy and going to be buying things.

This an opportunity to stick with a long-term plan. If you didn't have one, find one. Larry, nobody escaped 2008. Whether you were defrauded or you lost your money in the market, almost everybody in America is poorer at the end of 2008 than they were at the beginning. Don't make that mistake for 2009.

KING: According to your book, when it comes to people securing their financial future, the greatest risk is doing nothing.

VELSHI: Right.

KING: Why?

VELSHI: Inflation eats away at your amount of money. Right now, at this point in time, we're not suffering from inflation. Six months ago, we were. Inflation always comes roaring back. We have stimulated this economy. We have low interest rates. At some point, all of the stimulus is going to hit, and our economy and the world economy is going to start growing.

If you don't grow your money faster than inflation, then you're static. You're actually going backwards. You need to grow your money over time. Fundamentally, Larry, even bad years like this look like a blip over time if you have a strategy. It's so easy to become an investor. It's so easy to actually spend a few hours a year fixing your financial future. People are so frightened by it and so intimidated by it that they walk away from it with disgust. That's the mistake.

KING: How about those who say the best thing you can have today is cash?

VELSHI: I think you should have cash. In fact, before you become an investor, you should have paid off your debt. You can struggle to get 10 percent in the market. But if you got a debt that cost you 10 percent, it's a no risk endeavor to pay that off. Then you have to -- you talk to Suze Orman and Jean Chatzky and Dave Ramsey, who have all said, keep money aside for emergencies if you lose your job.

Once you do those two things, you're ready to invest. By that point, you've got cash saved away for an emergency. You should always have cash to take advantage of situations that develop in the market. Most of your money should be invested for the long term, diversified about many different asset classes, and optimized so that it make sense for you. It's not hard to figure out how to do that, Larry.

KING: One reviewer, reviewing your book, described it as up- beat. Do you share that assessment?

VELSHI: Yes. Larry, you and I have talked in the midst of the worst of the crisis. The bottom line is there are two kinds of problems in the world, Larry: those that can be solved with money and those that can't be solved with money. This crisis -- these are not my words. We've heard many people say this. This crisis can be solved with money, and the governments of the world have decided they will solve. Now, we have to figure out how to apply that money carefully. But the bottom line is there is hope. We do come out of these things. It's hard right now, but we will be able to look in the rear- view mirror and say, we made it through that tough time. Americans are resilient. That's why I'm up-beat about it.

KING: One other thing, we have about a minute; despite your disagreements over yesterday and today, what are you expecting from Obama.

VELSHI: Look, I think he has an All-Star team. The bottom line is he will have to make decisions over the course of his tenure that are political, maybe more than they are effective. That might prove effective in the end. He has to govern everybody, not just Democrats. Again, he's got an All-Star team. They must have given him the green light. I fundamentally think that team is going to get us out of this quagmire, as long as he can engender confidence in the American people, and they buy into the idea. I think they will.

KING: Are you surprised at the loss of Richardson at Commerce.

VELSHI: I am surprised. I'm surprised that it got to this point before they realized it was a problem. Clearly, he knew this investigation was going on. I think it's probably better that he step out now, than it became an issue. Commerce has not been the most important job in the cabinet. But Richardson was poised to make it a more important job. Now, Obama is going to have to find somebody else who can carry that weight.

KING: Perhaps Ali Velshi.

VELSHI: I like being on here with you, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: All right.

KING: Ali Velshi, CNN's chief business correspondent, author of "Give Me My Money Back, Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis."

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