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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Wildfires Burning Across West; Budget Battle; West Nile Crisis in Texas
Aired August 15, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.
We begin tonight with breaking news: at least 70 wildfires are burning west of the Mississippi. This is a canyon fire in Washington state that's already destroyed at least five dozen homes. Nearly 25,000 acres are burning. Weather conditions in the Northwest could produce explosive fire growth. That's how forecasters are describing it, explosive growth over the next few days.
South, in California, 8,000 firefighters are battling a dozen fires there along the Nevada/Oregon border. A single fire now covers nearly half-a-million acres in smoke and flame.
And, as we mentioned, weather could hold the key to what happens next.
Chad Myers is tracking that for us.
Chad, so what's the forecast look like?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It doesn't look good for tomorrow for sure. It gets hotter. That heat wants to rise like a hot air balloon. When the air goes up, air has to rush in to fill where that air now no longer is. And that makes wind. And these fires here all across the Pacific northwest will get bigger tomorrow for sure.
Today was actually a pretty good day to get a handle on it. And they did get a little bit of containment. Just not enough. They need so, so much more. Temperatures tomorrow, Redmond, 98, Pendleton, 98. Again, this is going to be another hot day especially over northern California where a couple of days ago Redmond was 112. Tomorrow 106.
MYERS: I'm not sure you can tell the difference if you're on the fire line. That is going to be hot. Another big day tomorrow for explosive fire development as you said.
O'BRIEN: Well, that's terrible. All right. But you know what's interesting, you know, we've e talked a lot about the drought in the Midwest. But when you think about the northwest, there's not really a drought there.
MYERS: No. It has rained as good as you can imagine up there. I mean, normal. Not above normal precept but it's OK. And so what we're going to see for the next couple of days is this hot weather right here over the top of an area that the problem is not that it hasn't rained, the problem is that there are so many dead trees out there. There are pine needles. And I don't know if you live in the northeast you have no idea what I'm talking about.
But if you live in the west, you can tell that half of your hill sometimes isn't green, it's brown. These pine trees are standing but they're dead and they're dead and they're dry and they will catch on fire with a lightning strike, with any kind of spark, and when you get these trees that are dead in a fire line, they go off like a -- like a cannon.
O'BRIEN: Yes. Like basically kindling. All right, Chad, thanks for the update.
O'BRIEN: Appreciate that.
MYERS: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN: We're going to go back to those fire lines live in just a few moments. We're going to get to "Raw Politics" now.
President Obama and Paul Ryan on the campaign trail tonight, the president in Davenport, Iowa, the congressman in Oxford, Ohio, and the tone getting ugly over the last couple of days on both sides.
But we're focusing tonight on substance, namely the Romney campaign's ongoing difficulty explaining its own plan for dealing with the budget mess. Listen to senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie on "THE SITUATION ROOM."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: How many years would it take for the Romney budget to result in a balanced budget?
ED GILLESPIE, SENIOR ROMNEY ADVISER: Wolf, I'm not sure of that myself actually. I will get that to you, though, and, Wolf, I'm sure it's on our Web site. I should know it. I'm embarrassed on your air that I don't have that number at the top of my head. I didn't know we're going to talk about that today. I apologize for it.
BLITZER: All right. We'll get the number and we'll tell our viewers.
GILLESPIE: Prepared questions -- I didn't know you were going to ask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: So that was just a few hours ago on "THE SITUATION ROOM."
What makes it all the more interesting is that last night, in his first solo interview, Mitt Romney's new running mate was no less stumped. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: The budget plan that you are now supporting would get to balance when?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, they're a different -- the budget plan that Mitt Romney is supporting gets us down to 20 percent of GDP government spending by 2016. That means get the size of government back to where it historically has been. What President Obama has done is he has brought the size of government to as high as it hasn't been since World War II.
We want to reduce the size of government so we can have more economic freedom.
HUME: I get that, but what about balance?
RYAN: Well, I don't know exactly when it balances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Well, there are no specifics on the Romney Web site as Mr. Gillespie suggested or in the Romney budget plan about when that balanced budget -- budget, rather, will be balanced. Now back in June Mr. Romney said he would try to balance the budget within eight to 10 years. Back in March, though, he admitted that the budget lacked enough specifics to say for sure just when or if it would be balanced. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I haven't laid out all the details of how we're going to deal with each one of the deductions and exemptions. So I think it's kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it because frankly it can't be scored because those kinds of details are going to have to be worked out with Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: And just a few days ago his top adviser said that no new specifics would be forthcoming whether that's good enough for voters really to decide and not for us to decide. But it does raise the question over whether or not the Romney campaign has a messaging problem.
Joining us this evening, Ari Fleischer, the former Bush White House spokesman and unpaid occasional communication adviser to the Romney campaign. Also Robert Reich, he's the former labor secretary in the Clinton administration and the author of a new e-book which is called "Beyond Outrage: What's Gone Wrong with our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It."
Hey, Ari, we'll start with you. I was kind of surprised that Ed was surprised considering the Brit Hume interview from last night which was a very similar question about balancing the budget. Why did they not know the answer? Why was Ed not able to answer that question?
ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's funny. And I feel for Ed. These things happen. Every spokesman will have a memory lapse from time to time. But you know Governor Romney, all you have to do is roll your tapes, he has said repeatedly that he anticipates it will be balanced in eight to 10 years.
Sometimes staffers just forget the basic facts. It happens.
O'BRIEN: So, Robert, Mitt Romney has said listen, a lot of these budget details are going to have to be worked out in Congress. You obviously worked for President Clinton. You know that you can propose something and then of course what you actually end up with is very different than what was proposed.
Isn't that a reasonable answer? Like, you know, if they can't commit to specific details, some of that is because, you know, some of this is going to be worked out by Congress.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Soledad, it is reasonable under normal circumstances but when you are running for president of the United States and the budget deficit and the budget and how you're going to actually balance it and how you're going to -- who you're going to pay in terms of tax cuts and everything else, when this is very much at the center of the entire debate, you can't just say well, I'm going to leave it up to Congress.
I mean, you really do have to have some specifics.
O'BRIEN: So Ari, you know, on CBS earlier, it was clear to me at least that Mitt Romney was in some ways keeping Congressman Ryan's budget at a distance. He basically used the phrase, you know, his campaign is my campaign. We're on the same page now. You know, basically he's the V.P. on the ticket. I'm the guy in charge.
And I guess that to me is, you know, wasn't he brought in for his budget acumen? I mean, that seems a little bit contradictory, doesn't it?
FLEISCHER: Soledad, I think this whole thing about the V.P.'s position and Romney's position is a debate without meaning. It always happens. Dick Cheney, for example, under George Bush was for same-sex marriage. Bush wasn't. Joe Biden under President Obama, Biden voted for Iraq war at the same time that Biden was -- that Obama was against it. Biden said it was a terrible mistake to negotiate with Ahmadinejad without preconditions. Obama said he was for it.
There's always differences between the veep and the president and that's why the president makes the decisions at the end of the day. What's strikingly similar between Romney and Ryan are their approaches to how to save and protect the entitlement programs so we don't bankrupt the country. They're both willing to make changes for young people, for future generations while making no changes for seniors.
A lot of similarities there. The exact details, the presidential candidate always prevails.
O'BRIEN: Robert, there's been lots of conversation about Ryan's budget plans and Ryan's Medicare plan, and some of that is because Mitt Romney's plan, the five-point plan, the 59-point plan, are not really detailed. But in -- is that fair? I mean, when you think about it, is it really fair to pin Ryan's plan on Mitt Romney?
REICH: Well, when you have a president running for office who has been very vague about all of these plans, I mean, when asked what specifically is he going to do to balance the budget or to -- what is he going to cut exactly or what loopholes is he going to -- is he going to close, Mitt Romney has sidestepped all of the answers. He has also brought on as a vice president someone who is not only not sidestepped most of these answers but has had a very specific set of budget plans.
And in fact, one of the reasons Mitt Romney presumably has brought Paul Ryan on is because Paul Ryan's very specific budget plans have been so attractive to a portion of the electorate particularly very conservative Republicans. And therefore, it seems to me entirely appropriate that Romney be attributed with the Romney plan.
O'BRIEN: You know, Ari, let's talk about those specifics. You say eight to 10 years of balanced budget. And yet when you actually look at the details, I don't -- I don't see that figure.
FLEISCHER: Roll your tapes and you'll see that Governor Romney himself has said how -- when he was asked how long it would take to balance the budget. He has said he anticipates eight to 10 years. I think that's probably a little bit aggressive when you look at how -- the budget hole we're in. But actually if we're able to achieve 4 percent growth it could come into line.
O'BRIEN: But he's also said he can't be scored, right?
FLEISCHER: President Obama and his budget -- President Obama and his budget which has been scored never, ever balances the budget. Paul Ryan's budget eventually comes into balance. President Obama's never does. But Mitt Romney's, if it hasn't been scored it's only because he's not a senator or not a congressman. CBO does not score candidate's plan. They only score congressional plans.
O'BRIEN: But he -- but he has said this, right? He has said it cannot be scored because the details have to be worked out with Congress. He hasn't said it's not scored because I'm a candidate.
FLEISCHER: The only thing CBO -- the only thing CBO scores are legislation. And legislation comes from senators and congressmen and you have to have all the details.
Presidential campaigns are never about and should never be about writing all the specifics of a piece of legislation. They are about big picture and big ideas to where to move the country. And that's the big difference between the candidates here. President Obama seems to have no openness anymore to making any changes at all in our nation's entitlement programs even though in negotiations with John Boehner over the debt bill he did suggest he might be -- open to raising the Medicare eligibility age and making it go from 65 to 67.
So these specifics typically come at a later point but as far as what we have heard from Governor Romney has been way more specific than most campaigns do engage in.
O'BRIEN: Robert Reich and Ari Fleischer, thanks, gentlemen, appreciate it.
FLEISCHER: Thank you.
REICH: Thanks, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: And one other political note. President Obama telling "People" magazine he will not taking Vice President Biden to task for his remarks the other day in Danville, Virginia, Mr. Biden telling the crowd that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are -- quote -- "going put you all in chains if elected."
You remember we were talking about that yesterday. Mr. Obama tells "People" magazine -- quote -- "Joe Biden has been an outstanding vice president." He said that Mr. Biden's words needed to be considered in the context in which they were said which was talking about Wall Street regulation.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook or you can follow us on Twitter @AC360.
Coming up, we've got a live report from the fire lines and we're going to speak with a woman who lost her home and nearly lost her life. That's coming up next.
O'BRIEN: And we're back with breaking news. The latest on the wildfires now sweeping across the Pacific Northwest. This is video from Cle Elum, Washington, where about 900 firefighters have been struggling to contain the inferno.
CNN's Dan Simon is on the scene for us tonight.
Dan, good evening to you. How's it going?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, for those who battle wildfires, the challenges are always the same. Lots of dry terrain, lots of wind and heat, and in this community east of Seattle, you have an abundance of all three. And that's what caused this wildfire to spread very quickly.
At this point they're looking at about 10 percent containment. If the winds kick up, they're concerned that more structures could be lost. At this point they don't have an exact tally but they think about 70 homes have been lost in this fire and about 22,000 acres have been scorched. That's a slight downgrade from what they told us earlier but still a lot of challenges remain, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: So a slight downgrade. Does that mean that the firefighters are making some progress? Are the evacuations continuing or slowing?
SIMON: Well, the evacuations are continuing at this point. About 900 people have been evacuated. In terms of the amount of acres scorched, they were able to get better estimates from the air.
At this point in terms of resources, they have a lot. They got 900 firefighters on the ground. Several helicopters, several air tankers and they're really doing the best job they can. One thing that we heard repeatedly just a short time ago at this community meeting is how people were very thankful for the initial firefighting efforts because in this small community, as I said east of Seattle, most of the firefighters are volunteer firefighters.
So in the dead of night last night and when this broke out on Monday, they risked their own lives to try to put this fire out and of course they don't get paid, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: My goodness. All right, Dan Simon, for us this evening.
Thanks, Dan, appreciate it.
We're going to talk now with one of the local residents. Rosemary Putnam's house was on Look Out Mountain which is about 10 miles away from where you just Dan Simon. She lost her home in the fire. She joins us by phone.
Rosemary, I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your home. Was anybody hurt? Are you doing OK?
ROSEMARY PUTNAM, VICTIM OF WILDFIRE: Thank you for your concern. Nobody was hurt. And I'm doing fine. I'm a survivor. And I'm luckier than most because I do have an apartment in town, a small apartment where I could, you know, go to and have food and clothing and all that right there. What other people need are basics. I was lucky.
O'BRIEN: So tell me what happened. Were you able to -- do you have enough time to grab anything and save some things?
PUTNAM: No. The fire started at 1: 30 in the afternoon and we were 13 miles from our house in town at work. And by the time we knew what was happening, the winds were, like, 40 miles an hour and it just overtook the mountain and by the time we even knew about it, we were lucky to get our horses out let alone stuff for us.
So we got our horses out and by the skin of our teeth basically. The fire was bearing down on us and we were running as fast as we could with the horses and threw them in the trailer and off we went. We had four horses. So we were -- we were very, very lucky there and no pets in the home so we were -- we're good.
O'BRIEN: My goodness.
So, the horses must have been absolutely panicked. Obviously they're herd animals. That must have been a very scary experience. It sounds like the fire was bearing right down upon you at that moment. PUTNAM: It was. We were petrified. You could hear it. You could hear the swoosh of it and you could -- you could hear the crackling of it and the trees were exploding, and it was coming right down the ridge a couple of hundred yards from us as we ran as fast as we possibly could run and the horses -- I had to run about 200 yards up into the pasture to get them because they were freaked out.
O'BRIEN: My gosh.
PUTNAM: And then we came back down and got them in trailers. And I had help down there and we got them out of there so.
O'BRIEN: My goodness. My goodness.
PUTNAM: Yes. It was crazy but -- yes.
O'BRIEN: You want to say?
PUTNAM: Yes. Wonderful people. All offering pastures that are safe from the fire for all of us who were evacuating animals.
O'BRIEN: I was going to ask you that and sort of what's the plan once you move your four -- your four horses, obviously you can't move them into the apartment. So there's been an opportunity to that place your animals in some place that's far from the fire.
PUTNAM: Many people who were out of danger of the fire to the north where the fire never went, big pastures of hay and that kind of thing came forward and even helped haul people's horses and so they're safe and being taken care of so.
O'BRIEN: It sounds like your neighbors are all really pitching in. While you're talking I got to tell you, Rosemary, I'm looking at pictures of some of the fire and it's just -- I mean, the pictures are just stunning.
What's happening with your neighbors? You obviously have a place to go, but what happens to everybody else?
PUTNAM: Well, our Centennial Center which is a senior center and community center that my husband built here in town for the community is a Red Cross shelter and we have families there. The firefighters are staying at the school.
And others are housed by neighbors and friends who live out a little bit out of the area. All those people are going to need, you know -- little things. I mean, simple things like pillows and blankets and sheets and their household items. A place for pets while they're at the shelters because they can't take their pets there.
O'BRIEN: Right. Right.
PUTNAM: Our animal rescue is working hard to place all of these pets in foster homes and some of the large animals like horses and cows are being taken to the Ellensburg Fairgrounds. Pet food for the displaced cats and dogs and other small animals and then horse feed is needed and all that can be donated and taken to the local veterinarians or to the fairgrounds in Ellensburg.
O'BRIEN: That's a long...
PUTNAM: There are many ways to help.
O'BRIEN: Yes. There's a long list of things that people need.
O'BRIEN: Well, Rosemary, good luck to you. I'm so sorry for your loss but it sounds like that you're rebounding a little bit. I'm so glad to hear that your horses are OK as well and that your neighbors...
PUTNAM: Yes. I know. We're one of the lucky ones.
O'BRIEN: Yes. Thanks for being with us.
PUTNAM: By having another place to go. So we're praying for the others and there are 13 structures on the top of Lookout Mountain where we live and we're the only ones that live there full time but everybody else lost their cabins and homes there. All of them.
O'BRIEN: Right. Rosemary Putnam joining us by phone. Thanks again. Appreciate it.
Today the mayor of Dallas declared a state of emergency triggered by mosquitoes. That city is facing an outbreak of West Nile virus as cases surge nationwide.
Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me ahead with tips on how to protect yourself and your family.
O'BRIEN: There's growing concern tonight about the spike in West Nile virus cases across the United States. Six hundred and 93 human cases have been reported in 32 states, 26 people have died. Texas has been hardest hit.
As you probably know, the disease is carried by mosquitoes. There's no vaccine, no treatment. Health officials in several cities are trying aerial spraying to stop the virus from spreading.
Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.
Sanjay, great to see you as always. It's spreading and it's spreading very quickly. So how worried should people be when they hear about the disease and the spread?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, on the macro level you're absolutely right. And you've heard the numbers. I mean, this is the largest number of cases they've had by the second week of August ever. So this could end up being the worst outbreak if it doesn't -- the numbers don't start to decrease.
Having said that, you know, for the individuals, Soledad, the vast majority of people who get a West Nile infection will either have no symptoms or such mild systems that they don't even though that they have the infection. So, you know, it -- the vast majority of people are not going to be dramatically affected by this. And people who do get more ill than that, you know, they'll have fever, they'll have swollen lymph nodes perhaps, you know, they'll feel sick.
But even though symptoms are vague and in a very small percentage of people they'll develop what's known as the neuroinvasive form of West Nile. And that is exactly what it sounds like. It invades the area around the central nervous system. People can develop coma. They can develop lethargy. Seizures even. And that can lead to death.
It's hard to know, though. To your question, Soledad. Hard to know for sure that you have it. In part because the incubation period can be 14 days. So you get sick and so I haven't been around mosquitoes or I have been very diligent about mosquito care for the last week, well, it can have a long incubation period. So if you develop these type of symptoms and especially if you've been in a mosquito ridden area, you need to get it checked out.
O'BRIEN: So what's then the best way to protect yourself or is it just regular mosquito protection?
GUPTA: It really is. I mean, look, it's funny, because we've been reporting on this for years. I know you have as well. We wish we'd have had a vaccine for this by now. And there's a lot of scientists who are -- who are working on that, but there is no vaccine. They're doing the spraying that you talked about. But for individuals, you know, even in the hot states, you know, wearing long sleeves and long pants is a good option.
Dusk and dawn are going to be the worst time for mosquitoes, as you know, and standing water around your house are going to be the breeding grounds.
O'BRIEN: So the CDC says the spraying is perfectly safe assuming it's done the right way. But of course I think for a lot of people when you hear about spraying and you weighed against getting, you know, beaten by a mosquito that's carrying West Nile vile, it's kind of like, well, how do I pick the lesser of two evils?
GUPTA: I think about this a lot. I have done a lot of research and investigations into potential toxins in America and I also like you have small children. So I think about it, you know, on a personal level as well. This particular spray something known as Duet, named because it has two particular chemicals in it, it's been around since 1987. It's pretty well studied. You know, it's been studied by the EPA. It's been used as I say for a long time.
We're hearing about it more now because of the context but it's been used in lots of communities for a long time. So, you know, I think, you know, as far as children, pets, certainly adults, it appears to be pretty safe. There are certain rules that still do apply, I mean, in areas that have just been sprayed that are still wet there are going to be potentially more problematic. You want to avoid those areas. But I think one of the bigger things that something that people can do for themselves and that is not bring these potential toxins into the home. I think simple principles like that can make a huge difference.
O'BRIEN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- thanks, Sanjay. Appreciate it.
GUPTA: Thanks, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: And there's lots more that we're following tonight. Susan Hendricks joins us with a 360 bulletin.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad.
A terrifying day at the headquarters of the Family Research Council in Washington -- a security guard was shot in the arm and then helped detain the gunman. A law enforcement official says the suspect made comments about the conservative organization before opening fire. The guard is hospitalized in stable condition.
Across America, long lines as young undocumented immigrants seek work permits and apply for deportation waivers. President Obama signed an executive order in June creating the temporary program. The Pew Research Center says up to 1.7 million children may qualify for the waivers.
And a test flight of an experimental jet that can reach speed of nearly 5,000 miles per hour crashed destroying the hypersonic aircraft. That's according to the U.S. Air Force. Two previous tests of the X-51A WaveRider like the one seen right here were successful, though.
And a fascinating photo from Mars. That blue smudge right there on the red plant, that mark, is actually NASA's Curiosity rover. The snapshot taken by NASA's other high tech device in the area. The Mars Recognizance Orbiter may send shots from space.
Soledad, back to you.
O'BRIEN: Yes. That is an amazing shot. That's incredible.
All right, Susan, thank you.
O'BRIEN: Well, the singer Beyonce has a new music video out. It was recorded for World Humanitarian Day and she says she hopes it will inspire others to do good.
Anderson's exclusive interview with Beyonce is just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEYONCE, SINGER: I feel like we all want to know that our life meant something and that we did something for someone else, and that we spread positivity no matter how big or how small.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: A young man shot to death in the back of a police car. Was it suicide or homicide? Police conduct a reenactment of what they say happened. Does it prove anything? And what does the man's mother say about it? We've got details when 360 continues.
O'BRIEN: U.N. Human Rights investigators issued a widely anticipated report today finding that the Syrian government and pro- regime militia members have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity including the massacre of more than 100 civilians in the village of Houla. The images are hard to forget. Back in May the Syrian government blamed that slaughter on armed terrorists.
To be clear, the U.N. report says that opposition forces have also committed war crimes but investigators found them to be less severe.
Across Syria today, fighting was fierce. This explosion was in the capital Damascus where U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos arrived yesterday. Opposition forces say more than 150 people were killed throughout Syria.
Our Ben Wedeman has been in Aleppo which has been pummeled by fighter jet strikes, one of them hit a hospital in the area controlled by opposition forces. And we have to warn you that some of the images in Ben's reporting are very -- very, very graphic. They're hard to watch but we think it's important to show them so that you can see exactly what's happening in the streets of Syria.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twelve-year-old Mohammad screams out in fear and pain. Shrapnel ripped through his right leg in an air raid in the Dar Al Shifa Hospital in Aleppo's Sha'aar district.
Three passersby including Mohammad were wounded in the attack. "The task of treating the wounded here, harder by the day," nurse Abus Mail (ph) tells me. "Half of our equipment no longer works," he says.
For almost an hour, Syrian government jet bombed and strafed the area. Twice striking the clearly marked hospital. Out of view rebels fired back fruitlessly at the plane.
In an entranceway across the street from the hospital, the blood is still wet where Mohammad wounded took cover. Nerves still on edge at the possibility the plane will strike yet again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go in. Go in. Go in.
O'BRIEN: The humanitarian crisis in Syria is just one of many around the world.
World Humanitarian Day this coming Sunday is meant to focus attention on those in need and to honor those who've lost their lives assisting them.
The singer Beyonce has joined the U.N.'s campaign to encourage people around the world to do something good for others. She's made a music video for the campaign, performed at the U.N. General Assembly last week. Anderson sat down with her and the U.N. Emergency Relief coordinator, Valerie Amos, in this exclusive 360 interview.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, Beyonce, how did you get involved in World Humanitarian Day?
BEYONCE: I was definitely attracted to raising awareness of this day of recognition. I, you know, found out that 22 people lost their lives helping people. And --
COOPER: In Baghdad? In an explosion?
BEYONCE: In Baghdad, yes. And, you know, I thought it was such an incredible thing to turn that into something positive and try to include the world into doing something great for someone else.
COOPER: In the song that you're dedicating to this, "I was Here," I mean, what's the message of the song?
BEYONCE: "I was Here," it says I want to leave my footprints in the sands of time. And it basically is all of our dreams, I think, and that's leaving our mark on the world. I feel like we all want to know that our life meant something and that we did something for someone else and that we spread positivity no matter how big or how small. So the song was perfect for humanitarian day.
COOPER: Is that what you want, too, to spread positivity?
BEYONCE: Absolutely. I feel like we are -- we all have our purpose and we all have our strengths and it's -- I don't know if it's selfish or unselfish but it feels so wonderful to do something for someone else, and I think for the U.N. to want to include the whole world was something important and I feel like that's what I represent.
COOPER: Valerie, you're trying to reach a billion people on World Humanitarian Day. What are you hoping to accomplish? I mean what's the idea behind it?
VALERIE AMOS, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: Well, there are millions of people around the world who need help and part of my job is to get the message out there about this, but I could do media for the rest of my life and we wouldn't need -- reach as many people as Beyonce can. So this partnership is --
COOPER: Don't sell yourself short now.
AMOS: Well, thank you for that.
COOPER: You work very hard.
AMOS: Thank you.
COOPER: You travel all the time.
AMOS: I do but this is really about saying to everyone out there that this is a day that's both a commemoration because there are a lot of people who lose their lives trying to help people, but it's also a celebration of the things that people do. There's an amazing amount that people do every single day that goes unrecognized. So this is about the big things and it's also about the small things.
COOPER: Do you worry -- I mean, you know, people watch the news and they'd see the slaughter in Syria. They see the humanitarian crisis there now. They see what's happening in Eastern Congo where millions of people have died over the years and a lot of times people feel hopeless and helpless.
I mean, how do you -- Valerie, how do you counteract that?
AMOS: Well, that's the whole message that we're trying to get across today which is that you can make a small contribution, which will make a huge difference, but let's not forget that there are people right here in the United States, there are people in -- across the world who are doing things every single day helping people who are homeless, for example, lots of -- little things that people do.
And one of the messages is at World Humanitarian Day is that we can make a difference. We can make a difference through a small act.
COOPER: So on August 19th you're both hoping that people around the world will do whatever they can, will volunteer in their communities, will donate money, will donate time, whatever it is.
COOPER: Do you know what you hope to do on that day? BEYONCE: Well, I thought of many different things. I know one thing I'm going to start working on now every day I'm going to try to do something and basically give examples of act of kindness that I think people will gravitate towards, feel like they can do even if it's something as small as feeding the homeless or, you know, giving your coat to someone that needs it or helping the elderly across the street. Or --
COOPER: It is inspiring. Because I mean, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, you had a foundation which tried to help people.
BEYONCE: The Survivor Foundation.
COOPER: Yes. And you had food drives in -- in one of your concerts.
BEYONCE: Yes, I do.
COOPER: And it's amazing, I think, in New Orleans to me the example of what happened after Katrina, we've seen it in Haiti as well, is the power of individuals stepping up. I mean so many church groups and NGOs and just individuals have gone down to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to lend a hand, to build a house, to do whatever they can. It's really inspiring.
BEYONCE: Yes. It really is. And we built transitional home -- housing for a lot of the survivors in Katrina, which I think was important because people need to get on their feet and it's more than just one day. It's something that, you know, people need help all the time and I feel like one great thing about the video, hopefully people will see it and it will be a reminder that, you know, every single day the smallest thing helps.
COOPER: Actually, when I was a graduate in college, I thought about being a relief worker. And I realized I didn't have the stamina to, you know, live in a tent for years at a time in the kind of situations that a lot of these people -- I mean you've seen how these people work around the world.
BEYONCE: Yes, I do.
COOPER: I mean it's extraordinary what they do.
BEYONCE: It is. And I have the utmost respect. And you know, everyone doesn't have the time or everyone sometimes feels a little overwhelmed. You have nothing but respect for people that risk their lives. But I feel like if we all realize that if we do something small and if all of us on one day do something effective, it will be so impactful.
O'BRIEN: Coming up next, new details about the video that claims to show how a man in police custody in handcuffs shot and killed himself.
O'BRIEN: A "360 Follow" tonight on the death of Chavis Carter in police custody. Was it suicide or was it homicide? The 21-year-old man was pulled over by Jonesboro, Arkansas, police two weeks ago for driving suspiciously. Two searches of Carter turned up a small bag of marijuana but no gun. He was put in the back of a police car with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Now here's where the story gets murky. Jonesboro Police claimed that Carter then fatally shot himself in the head. The department released a videotape reenactment. But Carter's mother believed police killed him.
Randi Kaye has been reporting this story, she joins us now.
So, Randi, walk us through the video reenactment. I know you visited the police department. You talked to the chief. What exactly are we seeing when we look at that video?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you take a look, Soledad, the police put together this video with four different officers. The first, as you see here, is about the same size and weight as Chavis Carter, that's the victim in this case. Now the video shows the officer as you can see maneuvering in the tight quarters of that squad car's backseat grabbing a gun from the seat, it appears, or possibly from behind him and then putting it to his right temple. He actually gets it high enough to shoot himself right at his shoulder.
Now the reenactment video then shows photos of three other officers apparently able to maneuver themselves into that very same position. This of course is what police believe Chavis Carter was able to do in that backseat -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: We know that Chavis Carter's mother has questioned the police version of events from the very start. So what's been her reaction when she sees this reenactment?
KAYE: Well, his mom was shown the video actually yesterday by a reporter from our affiliate in Jonesboro. And she called it flat-out BS. She still doesn't believe that her son shot himself or took his life in the backseat of that police car.
I spoke with her lawyer today about the police video and he told me this. Quote, "There are still a lot of questions to be answered. We need to see evidence, not just police theories and videos of what they think happened."
Now, Soledad, the chief told me today some in the community actually accept what they saw on the video as the truth but others actually were protesting last night. They got together at a church demanding answers, charging racism on the part of the two white police officers who, by the way, are on paid administrative leave right now while this investigation continues.
O'BRIEN: So let's go back to that videotape for one second and the reenactment, the four people pick up a gun from the backseat which suggests that then, you know, Carter could have been able to do the same thing. But where did the gun come from?
KAYE: Well, that's the big question. I mean we know that police say it was a stolen gun. Stolen about a month ago. But how it ended up in that backseat of that police car is a mystery. I mean if Chavis Carter had it on him and police missed it in the first search, then it is possible that he hid it in the car, perhaps between the seats when they put him in there the first time not handcuffed or he may have still had it on him when they searched him a second time and the police missed it.
Now either way police say he got ahold of it in that car, either out of his pants or his clothes or maybe even from the seat. It's still unclear at this point.
O'BRIEN: I know that there have been people who've seen this reenactment who said, you know, when you look at it -- the videos and the handcuffs that you see in the video are unusually loose, which of course would be relevant if you're trying to maneuver to not only grab a gun but then be able to position it so that you could shoot yourself in the head.
KAYE: Yes. Absolutely. I mean we're seeing it here. The hands are certainly a distance apart there. But I asked the chief about that today. We were in touch several times today and I asked him if the officers in the reenactment video had more leeway with the handcuffs than perhaps the suspect. And he told me this, quote, "The cops were placed in a manner common to law enforcement. They could be loose or they could be tighter but the same thing could be done if motivated to do so in either case."
And in fact, when we spoke with him in his office just last week, he told me how easy something like this is to do. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Is it even possible, physically, to be handcuffed behind your back and somehow pull the trigger on a gun that you weren't holding when you were handcuffed?
CHIEF MICHAEL YATES, JONESBORO, ARKANSAS, POLICE DEPARTMENT: The average person that's never been in handcuffs or never been around inmates and people in custody, would react exactly the same way that you just did about how can that be possible. Well, fact of it is that it is very possible and it's quite easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: So Randi, now that you spent a lot of time talking to the law enforcement and talking to Chavis' mother, what sticks out to you? What seems like the big unanswered parts of this big unanswered story?
KAYE: There are so many questions here. First of all, how could two veteran officers search a suspect twice, not once but twice, and not find a gun? You have Chavis Carter mother's, she said that her son was left handed. So if this was suicide, why was he shot in the right side of the head. She says he was the police would only say he was shot in the head, no more details than that.
And there is motive. Why would he kill himself if he did over a small amount of marijuana? $10 worth of marijuana, and an outstanding warrant from another state. And on the flip side, why would police kill him. And then a key question, of course, why did he call his girlfriend from that traffic stop to tell her that he would call her from jail if he was planning to kill himself at the scene.
Just none of it makes sense.
O'BRIEN: Wow. That is true. None of it makes sense. Randy Kaye for us tonight.
Randi, thank you.
Time to get back to Susan Hendricks. She's got the 360 news and business bulletin -- Susan.
HENDRICKS: Soledad, the court-martial of Army Major Nidal Hasan is on hold. The presiding judge ordered him to shave his beard because it violates army regulations. Hasan appealed and an appeal's court stopped the case for now. He is accused of killing 13 people at Ft. Hood, Texas, in 2009.
We have learned that General William Ward, the first four-star general to command U.S. military operations in Africa, could face demotion. Officials say an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general found that Ward spent thousands of dollars on inappropriate travel expenses.
How about this? Powerball fever has gripped the nation. Tonight's jackpot is worth $320 million. The fourth largest in the game's history. Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Anderson has got the "RidicuList" next.
O'BRIEN: Anderson has got a criminally good "RidicuList" now. Number three in our crookedly funny countdown. Take a look.
COOPER: Yes, it is time for the "RidicuList." And tonight we're adding a toilet caper that's been perpetrated upon the good citizens of the Denver metro area. A guy has been arrested for allegedly stealing toilet parts from at least 18 businesses in and around Denver, Colorado. Police say the guy hit office buildings and movie theater, grocery store, a hospital, a university, and restaurants including a Taco Bell.
Take it away, KDVR. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's back to business as usual here but the thief did inconvenience customers needing to take care of business.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We started calling him the Crapper Scrapper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The Crapper Scrapper. How much fun do you think the police had coming up with that name? Now, I would have gone with something -- I don't know, a touch more elegant, yieldy tank yanker perhaps, but Crapper Scrapper, that works, too. Now when toilets start disappearing, usually those guys from "Jackass" are the prime suspects -- (INAUDIBLE) and his band of merry men once stole all the toilets in his father's house and potty mouth hilarity ensued/
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And water leaking on my hand. Come on. You (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's disgusting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leaking into the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tub.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing you can do. You can't (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in the hole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Youth. Seems kind of funny when it's a made-for-TV prank. Not so funny when you're at Taco Bell in Denver, you've just scarfed down four Chalupas and a 64-ounce Pepsi and suddenly you realized you've been foiled by world's worst comic villain, the Crapper Scrapper. So at this point you may be asking, Anderson, what, pray tell, is the Crapper Scapper's modus operandi? Why must he steal those toilets?
Well, for the oh-so-precious toilet medal, of course. And it turns out the guy is a plumber so he knows exactly what he's doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police say he shuts off the water then steals the metal plumbing through toilets and urinals, selling them for scrap. The money he got was little. Perhaps 30 to 40 bucks at a time compared to the cost to his victims.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes. The high cost of holding it. Not to mention the cost of replacing all those toilets. So much paper work.
This toile plundering spree went on for almost two whole months. Toilets all over the metro area were rendered useless. It was a scourge on the city really, but the people of Denver, they seem to be taking it in stride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: People say it stinks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going to a bathroom you can't flush is bad. It's so bad. It's bad enough he's stealing the toilet paper probably, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be inconvenient at best.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't be too happy. Because I need to use the bathroom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So in a perfect justice system meets septic system moment in crime fighting, the Crapper Scrapper was finally busted when someone saw him leaving a restroom with toilet parts sticking out of his bag. And with the end of this crime spree, I think it's safe to say the citizens of Denver are relieved.
O'BRIEN: We'll be counting down the top five ridiculous crimes all week. You can still vote for your favorite at ac360.com.
That does it for this edition of 360. Thank you for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.