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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Threats Made Against Democrats Over Health Care Reform; Could Senior Citizens Lose Their Favorite Doctors?
Aired March 24, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We have got breaking news tonight on Democratic security concerns, new information tonight about one of reasons why Democratic lawmakers have been talking to Capitol Police and the FBI and why they met today to talk about their safety since voting to pass health care reform.
Now, we want to be very careful reporting all of this tonight, making sure not to raise the temperature, because, frankly, it's simply too hot as it is.
In just the last few days, we have seen racist and bigoted slurs hurled over the issue. We have seen lawmakers spat on, windows broken, death threats made.
Dana Bash has the breaking news tonight about what Democrats have been discussing behind closed doors -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I'm told that, in a Democratic meeting today about those safety concerns, a House member specifically talked about this map.
Check it out. It's on Sarah Palin's Facebook page. It has the top Democratic political targets, but they're illustrated with rifle crosshairs. And when a member raised it in that meeting, there was an audible groan, I'm told. And it's just one example of how Democrats argue political rhetoric and imagery over health care has crossed the line, and they have now become real targets from citizens who are opposing them.
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: This motion...
BASH (voice-over): It was anti-abortion Democrat Bart Stupak's 11th-hour deal that gave House Democrats the votes to pass health care.
Listen to some messages on his office voice-mail.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stupak, you are a lowlife, baby-murdering, scumbag pile of steaming crap. You are a cowardly punk, Stupak.
(END AUDIO CLIP) (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Think about this. There are millions of people across the country who wish you ill. And all of those thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that's not very good for you.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BASH: And he's gotten faxes like these: images of a noose and a Nazi S.S. insignia.
Stupak is hardly the only Democrat being threatened. Vandalism at the Arizona office of Gabby Giffords, and the New York office of House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter.
REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER (D), NEW YORK: Someone hurled a brick through the window of my district office in the dark of night.
BASH: Whomever threw that brick is a mystery, but one person encouraging such behavior is known. Mark (sic) Vanderboegh is a popular right-wing extremist. He wrote on his blog last week, "So, if you wish to send a message that Pelosi and her party cannot fail to hear, break their windows. Break them now. Break them and run to break again."
During a radio interview yesterday, Mr. Vanderboegh urged further action.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE VANDERBOEGH, FORMER MILITIA LEADER: I'm advocating broken windows. I'm advocating, I suppose, vandalism.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BASH: House Democrats are now so concerned about security, leaders called an emergency closed-door meeting with the FBI, Capitol Police, and sergeant at arms.
(on camera): Do you feel that your members are really at risk in terms of their security?
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: Yes. I think we have had very serious incidences that have occurred over the last 48, 72 hours.
BASH: So, how are you dealing with that? What actions are you taking?
HOYER: Well, we have -- the Capitol Police just briefed members, if they are in any way suspicious or fearful or see actions occurring, to report those immediately, and the Capitol Police will respond and try to determine whether crimes have been committed.
REP. STEVE DRIEHAUS (D), OHIO: My wife and kids are at home. They're organizing protests in front of my house. We're getting death threats on the telephone.
BASH (voice-over): Freshman Democrat Steve Driehaus also voted yes on health care. Before he did, the House minority leader, John Boehner, warned, he may be a dead man. Driehaus blames the GOP leader for stirring up some of the threats against him.
DRIEHAUS: They're engaged in rhetoric that goes well beyond the pale of what's responsible. They're inciting behavior. And I think they should be held responsible for that.
BASH: Boehner declined our interview request to directly respond and, instead, issued a statement: "I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill and that Washington Democrats just aren't listening. But, as I have said, violence and threats are unacceptable." He went on to say, "Go volunteer at a political campaign. Make your voice heard, but let's do it the right way."
Still, Democrats are blaming Republican lawmakers for egging protesters on, maybe over the line, like this over the weekend, when Republican Steve King held up a poster of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, gave her a thumbs-down, and made a slapping motion across her face.
We asked King about that.
(on camera): There was a moment that we have seen. You were up there right on that balcony with a picture of the House speaker, slapping it.
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Now, that would be an exaggeration. But this is a melodrama. Keep in mind, this is a melodrama.
BASH: OK. But tell me -- tell me what -- tell me -- tell me what your -- what your goal was with -- with -- with what you did.
KING: My goal is to inspire people to stand up for the Constitution, to stand up for fiscal responsibility, and stand up for the rule of law.
BASH (voice-over): King walked away before we could get him to fully explain what he meant to do, but he did say he condemns any threats of violence.
COOPER: Well, Dana joins us now, along with John Avlon, senior political writer with TheDailyBeast.com and author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America."
Dana, it's interesting. Talking to -- you talking to Steve King, I mean, he clearly was slapping -- right or wrong, or whether it's justified or not, he was clearly slapping the picture of Nancy Pelosi. And for him to say that that's an exaggeration is just simply factually incorrect.
BASH: Yes. As you could probably tell, I was a little bit stunned. And then he said, well, I haven't seen the videotape. And I started to say, well, you were there, and I sort of didn't get a chance to finish that.
Look, he -- he -- what he said, the point he was trying to make, big picture, is that he believes that there were thousands of peaceful protesters, and the media are ignoring them. But, you know, what I was trying to ask him about was that he is one of the Republicans that Democrats say, wait a minute, if our leaders are going to do things like that, what do you expect from people out there?
I want -- just want to make one other point, Anderson. We said Mark Vanderboegh is the name of the blogger in the piece. His name is Mike.
John, it's interesting. I mean, people point -- apparently, on Capitol Hill, they were talking -- Democrats were talking behind closed doors about Sarah Palin's Facebook page -- show up that -- that map -- with the crosshairs on it.
She also tweeted something, I guess, in which she said that -- she said, "It takes common -- commonsense conservatives and lovers of America. Don't retreat. Instead, reload. Please see my Facebook page."
Clearly, she was speaking metaphorically.
JOHN AVLON, AUTHOR, "WINGNUTS: HOW THE LUNATIC FRINGE IS HIJACKING AMERICA": Yes.
COOPER: And Republicans and supporters who see this and supporters of Sarah Palin who see this are going to say, well, look, these are Democrats overreacting. These are just crosshairs -- it's symbolic -- on -- on districts.
AVLON: Yes. And that may have been a credible explanation or an excuse before today, when we have seen 10 Democrats say they have received death threats in the last day alone.
At this point, having crosshairs on a political map seems to me not only an act of poor judgment, but I think she should be called on to take those crosshairs off. If she does not, it's a sign of seriously insufficient judgment.
This is an -- the politics of incitement of what we are dealing with. And this is in evidence of that at this moment.
COOPER: And it's interesting now, Dana. You have some Republicans saying that Democrats are actually kind of fanning the flames of this. Where -- where are they pointing to for that?
BASH: Well, look, Democrats were so blunt today that they believe that -- that Republicans simply are not doing enough, especially the leadership, to try to tamp down on some of this stuff.
And the House majority whip, Jim Clyburn, he actually said on another network that he believes that, if people aren't condemning these actions, then you're aiding and abetting this kind of terrorism.
Well, Republicans said, wait a minute. If you're going to yell at us for using rhetoric that's too hot, well, why are you calling us terrorists? And I talked to an aide to Clyburn, who said, look, that he called the protests over the weekend akin to terrorism, and that speaks for itself.
But it just goes to show you that things are being ratcheted up. I can tell you that there was actually -- there were actually closed- doors -- closed-door conversations, Anderson, between Democratic leaders and Republican leaders, in the hopes of maybe putting out a joint statement. That didn't happen today.
COOPER: We are going to have more from Dana and from John Avlon in just a moment. We're going to continue the conversation after the break.
Also, what's happening online -- join in the live chat at AC360.com. Talk to viewers watching right now from around the world.
Also tonight, "Keeping Them Honest": a legislate problem we turned up that could leave seniors without their favorite doctors. Democrats promised to fix it. It's not in the new health care reform law. The question is why and whether both parties are dodging responsibility on this one. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And, later, 360 Dr. Gupta on the toll obesity can have on a child's body and why it could cut their lives short -- and a 12-year- old boy more than 250 pounds.
COOPER: All right, continuing our breaking news, word that a Sarah Palin Facebook posting and a map of congressional districts with rifle crosshairs -- rifle scope crosshairs taken up -- was taken up by the House Democratic leadership as one more threat in the wake of their vote on health care reform.
Now, as we mentioned at the top, Ms. Palin tweeting as well -- quote -- "Commonsense conservatives and lovers of America -- quote -- "don't retreat. Instead, reload" -- her tweet part of a string of headlines over the past few days that have outraged a lot of Democrats.
Back now with Dana Bash, and John Avlon, author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America."
You have talked in recent months to this guy that -- that Dana mentioned, Mike Vanderboegh. And I want to just read some of what he has said on his blog, because it's -- I mean, it's pretty stunning stuff.
COOPER: He says: "If we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands of Democratic Party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending themselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary."
And he's claiming credit for some folks throwing bricks through -- through windows of Democratic offices.
AVLON: That's right. And, just subsequently, we have seen four different instances of bricks and broken windows at Democratic county headquarters or congressmen's district offices.
This is clearly an incitement. Some people have taken up that mantle. And Vanderboegh is part of this growing movement we have seen in America which I call the hatriot movement. But it's a rebirth of the militia movements from the 1990s. We have seen a 300 percent increase in the first year of the Obama administration. And he is a leader in that movement. He's...
COOPER: And -- and he was in the militia movement back in the '90s?
AVLON: That's exactly right. He was a leader.
When I spoke to him -- it's an unexpected story. He was a '60s leftist who became a radicalized Second Amendment activist and then a militia leader. And now he was one of the co-founders of this group called the Three Percenters, which is one of these groups that are out there.
But, through his blog, he's really been inciting and appears to be successfully inciting acts of violence that we have only just begun to see. And he has a larger agenda than just these broken windows.
COOPER: I want to play a clip of -- of him warning people about a violent confrontation with the government. Let's listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
VANDERBOEGH: Folks, you need to be getting ready. You need to be forming neighborhood defense organizations. You needing -- you need to be looking to your larders. You need to be looking to your -- to your arsenals. You need to be looking to your -- your physical fitness. You need to be looking toward your neighbors, and who can you count on, and how do you -- how do you build small fire teams and things like that
These are the things that you must be doing now, because events will overtake you if you do not.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, these kind of -- I mean, these -- there are a lot of blowhards out there. And this guy sounds like one of those blowhards who, normally, you would just kind of like dismiss as -- as, you know, an armchair warrior. But, clearly, he -- he seems to be taking credit for -- for some of this -- this violence. AVLON: That's right. When blowhards meet with the paramilitary organizations, which is what these hatriot groups are, then, all of a sudden, you have got real problems. That's the language of survivalist school.
These folks, he's been telling his survival -- his folks on his blog for some time now to get ready for what he called TBD, "The Big Die-Off." He's been saying we're going to be heading towards a real conflict with the government. These are the folks who have been predicting martial law, and they see themselves as patriots resisting the federal government.
But they have been predicting a violent conflict with the government over the whole first year of the Obama administration. And now he seems to be getting some folks to begin to act out in small ways. He sees himself as a patriot trying to stop a civil war.
AVLON: But it's indicative of these groups who want to defend the Constitution by doing violence to it.
COOPER: Dana, we were talking earlier about security on Capitol Hill, not just concern there, though. Members of Congress are about to go home for spring recess. And -- and that's where we have been seeing a lot of these incidents.
BASH: That's right.
Steve Driehaus, who you saw in the piece earlier, he's a freshman from Ohio. He told me that not only have there been protests already at his house in Ohio, that there is actually a protest planned specifically at his house, that somebody -- he's not alone in this -- somebody published on a blog the home address.
And, you know, he said to his wife and kids, look, you have just got to stay inside. And he said he's a little worried about it.
I actually asked Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, about this today. You know, what are you telling these members to do? And what specifically -- specifically did they hear from the security folks that they have brought in to talk to them. And they just said, look, just do the best you can to protect your families, to protect your kids.
And, obviously, if there are real incidents, you have got to report it, so we can come out and help you.
COOPER: Dana Bash, appreciate the report. Thanks very much, John Avlon as well.
Up next tonight, "Keeping Them Honest": why, starting next week, seniors might not be able to see the doctor they want to -- how the health care reform law might have fixed the problem, but didn't, and whether Democrats broke a promise by taking it out of the bill. We're "Keeping Them Honest." Later, he has got what might just be the most dangerous job in North America, the mayor of Juarez, Mexico -- the drug war waging. He got a death threat warning he would be dead in two weeks unless he quit. Two weeks later, he is still mayor. And we will see how he is doing tonight.
COOPER: We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight on a huge piece of the health care system that the new reform law does not reform.
Now, leaving it unfixed could make it harder for millions of Americans on Medicare to find a doctor. We're going to show you why it was left out of the bill that President Obama signed yesterday.
Today, the signed executive order reaffirming existing limits on federal funding of abortion. That, of course, was the price of Congressman Bart Stupak's support.
Meantime, Republicans took loud aim at the new law from the well of the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: You can put lipstick on a pig, Mr. President, but this is still a pig.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Senator John McCain trying to block the package of fixes to the main bill.
I want to take you over to the wall tonight, because there's some new polling information that's really interesting. It gives you a real sense of where people stand on the health care changes.
Take a look at these numbers. Now, we showed you this "USA Today"/Gallup poll yesterday. Forty-nine percent say that passing the bill was a good idea, vs. 40 percent who say it was a bad idea.
But let's look closer at the numbers, how they break down by age and income, because you get a very different picture. For people earning less than $24,000 a year, there's a lot in this bill for them, so not surprising they like it, 65 percent to 23 percent, a 42-point margin.
Then, for -- the same goes for people with no coverage now. They like it, 58 percent to 29 percent. That makes sense. Also, young people, ages 18 to 34, many of whom can now stay on their parents' insurance, they also like the new law a lot, by a 27-point margin.
But this is where it gets interesting. Seniors 65 and up, the opinion does a 180. Only 30 -- 36 percent there call the bill's passage a good thing. Fifty-four percent say otherwise.
They already have government-provided Medicare, of course. In other words, they have something to lose.
So, "Keeping Them Honest," tonight, there is something they -- they could in fact lose and lose it as early as next week. We're talking about access to doctors, because doctors are actually going to lose federal money for treating seniors and deciding not to take Medicare patients anymore.
So, that is, if Congress doesn't do something about it soon, doctors could decide not to see them because they don't get Medicare reimbursements. Now, Democrats have promised to do something about it.
And, in fairness, both Democrats and Republicans created the problem in the first place, and have been temporarily fixing it, kicking the can, so to speak, down the road, avoiding accountability for about 18 years now.
But, this time around, Democrats and the White House, they did have a chance to fix this thing for good in the health care reform bill, and critics say they blew it.
Tom Foreman tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Doctors who treat Medicare patients say they're facing a fiscal emergency decades in the making, a 21 percent cut in what the government pays them for that care, 21 percent.
By almost all accounts, that could mean fewer doctors taking such patients. And, yet, Democratic supporters of reform allowed that time bomb to keep ticking, although, "Keeping Them Honest," they could have fixed it in the new health care bill.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The bill is passed!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
FOREMAN: But they did make a promise.
PELOSI: It's not in this bill, but we will have it soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Medicare will become law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Back in 1965, when President Johnson created Medicare for the elderly, doctors were allowed to charge pretty much whatever they thought was fair. But, over time, the costs ballooned.
(on camera): So, in 1992, they came up with a formula that almost everyone now calls a mess, because, while the cost of care has steadily risen, the amount being paid to those doctors has fallen. Time and again, Congress has approved quick payments to keep physicians from bailing out of the program altogether.
But Dr. Cecil Wilson with the American Medical Association says, that's like paying the exhibit interest on a credit card debt. The principal owed to those doctors keeps climbing.
DR. CECIL WILSON, PRESIDENT-ELECT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Four years ago, the cuts were 3 percent to 4 percent. They could have fixed this with $48 billion. Now they're 21 percent -- $210 billion to fix it. So, each year they postpone it makes it even more difficult.
FOREMAN: The problem is that price tag, $210 billion. If that had been part of the health reform bill, it would have pushed the total tab over a trillion, pushed up the deficit, and almost certainly hurt the chances for passage. And Democrats didn't want any of that. So, now they're considering a fix before an election, and with the public already nervous over spending.
PELOSI: Thank you all very much.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The House has passed a measure. But the Senate, well, convincing them is one reason Dr. Wilson was in Washington.
WILSON: Both sides of the aisle, both houses of Congress, the administration knows, everybody understands this is a problem that needs to be fixed. And it's up to them.
FOREMAN (on camera): But they also know it's an expensive problem.
FOREMAN: So, how confident are you that they will deal with it now?
WILSON: Well, they have to, because, if they don't, this program is going to fall apart.
FOREMAN (voice-over): We will see. For now, the formula says the next big cut is coming at month's end, and the doctors are in the waiting room.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, under the new health care reform law, 32 million uninsured people will now be able to get health insurance. That's the idea, right?
In theory, 32 million new patients will be able go to a doctor when they get sick. But here's the thing. It's actually not certain that all these people will really get to see a doctor. That's because there is a serious shortage of primary care doctors across the country.
It's no secret why the shortages exist. Fewer new doctors are entering primary care. The question is, what is driving them away?
360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are part of American lore, the country family doctor, primary physician, making house calls, fixing whatever's broken. That version of the primary care doctor has long since faded away.
(on camera): And the thing is, the modern-day version may also be close behind, which makes the woman you're about to meet, Nakato, an even more rare breed.
Nakato, how you doing?
DR. NAKATO KIBUYAGA, MOREHOUSE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Hi, Dr. Gupta. Nice to meet you.
GUPTA: Nice to meet you.
Now, part of the reason I wanted to come meet you was because you're going into primary care.
GUPTA: And I guess there's fewer and fewer of you. Why -- why aren't more of your colleagues choosing this as a profession?
KIBUYAGA: Well, I think there are several reasons. One of the main reasons is that the prestige, the spotlight is just not on family medicine physicians. We don't have the same reputation like some of the other doctors do in the sub-specialties.
GUPTA: Which is going to make finding doctors to fill rooms like this even harder.
You know, it's been 17 years since I finished medical school. And, over that time, the number of medical students choosing primary care has slipped by more than 50 percent. And if you want more of a scale of reference, at the nation's largest medical school, the University of Illinois, they graduated 314 medical students last year. Only 20 chose primary care.
(voice-over): Last year, the American Academy of Family Physicians predicted a shortfall of 40,000 primary care doctors. And that was before the signing of the health care bill. So, what will health care reform look like without enough primary care doctors?
DR. LORI HEIM, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS: We have nowhere near the number of primary care or family physicians that we need to take care of the public. Simply having an insurance card may not guarantee that there is a physician whose practice will be open to new patients.
GUPTA: So, why is that happening? One reason is plain and simple. It's money. The average primary care doctor makes $173,000 a year. Compare that to $419,000 for cardiologists, or $335,000 for oncologists, treating cancer.
(on camera): How much of this is about money, just compensation?
KIBUYAGA: I think that's a major reason why a lot of medical students aren't choosing family medicine. The potential for financial gain is just not the same as those other fields.
GUPTA (voice-over): Now, the health care bill does try to fix that. There's a 10 percent bay pump to family physicians through Medicare. And the add-on bill, which is now being considered in the Senate, has an even bigger increase for doctors taking Medicaid, low- income patients.
The bill that passed has other incentives as well. It expands the program to forgive loans to some medical students who go into primary care.
Now, even before all of that goes into effect, there have been some signs of change. In fact, last week, when medical students around the country picked their specialists, the number picking primary care was up, for the first time in 13 years.
HEIM: We have had a huge debate about health care reform. What do we need to do to get this country on a healthy track? Well, the foundation of that is primary care and family medicine. Students took notice of that. They became excited, thinking about that -- that primary care was once again a viable career choice for them.
GUPTA: A viable career choice, because it may be attitude, more than money. And that's the real hope for fulfilling the promise of health care reform.
COOPER: Well, that was Sanjay Gupta reporting. He will be back in just a minute with shocking statistics about kids in this country and weight. Many are so heavy, they are dying far earlier than they should. In some cases, lives are being cut short by decades.
Sanjay met one of those kids and made it his mission to help him save his own life, a 12-year-old boy who weighs more than 250 pounds -- a story every parent should see.
Also, late new word on how much the White House is asking for Congress for aid to Haiti.
COOPER: Coming up, an amazing story, the mayor of Juarez, Mexico under a death threat from drug lords. The deadline is now. We go up close tonight. But first, Christine Romans has a "360 Bulletin" -- Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, President Obama is asking Congress for $2.8 billion in emergency funds for U.S. reconstruction efforts in Haiti. That follows January's devastating earthquake. He sent Congress that formal request today.
The Supreme Court today staying the execution of a Texas convict just an hour before his date with death. Hank Skinner's attorneys say DNA evidence could prove he's innocent of killing his girlfriend and her two sons in 1993. Now he's got more time to argue for his appeal.
Actor Robert Culp died today after falling and hitting his head in a Los Angeles park. Culp appeared in dozens of TV shows, including the "I Spy" series and more recently, "Everybody Loves Raymond." He was also a TV director and screen writer. Robert Culp was 79.
A 360 follow. The Colorado man who falsely reported his son had floated away in a balloon last fall is now grounded. He's finishing his 90-day sentence with home detention. Richard Heene must stay home for at least 12 hours each day and can only leave for work or visits with his lawyer or his doctor. The electronic ankle bracelet will be removed on April 4.
And, Anderson, the search is on for a laundry thief in Hartford, Connecticut. A woman was caught on surveillance videotape, grabbing items from clotheslines at an apartment building. The apartment manager says the suspect is very picky and carefully touches the fabric to make sure it's just the right...
COOPER: It's Downey soft. Yes.
ROMANS: No synthetic fabrics for that thief.
COOPER: I also like that she's, like, checking out the video camera. It's like, "Is that a video camera? I'm going to go ahead anyway and do this." Yes.
All right. Coming up here, time for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to come up with a caption better than the one we come up with for a photo we put on the blog everyday.
So tonight's photo is actor Ben Stiller and actress Greta Gerwig, appearing at the Apple AneAppple store in New York as part of the "Meet the Actor" series.
Staff winner tonight, Joey. His caption, "No, I will not apologize for 'Night at the Museum 2'."
(SOUND EFFECT: DRUM BEAT)
COOPER: Ouch. I didn't see that one. But I'm a fan of Ben Stiller so...
Viewer winner is K.P. A full name was not given, just K.P., kind of cryptic. But hey, you know, we can roll with that. K.P.'s caption: "I wish this Focker would shut up already." ROMANS: Ooh!
COOPER: Focker, F-O-C-K-E-R.
(SOUND EFFECT: GROANS)
COOPER: K.P., your "Beat 360" T-shirt.
ROMANS: That was the "Meet the Actor" series, right? Maybe she's saying "Meet the Parents" was more funny than "Meet the Actors."
COOPER: Maybe so.
Still ahead, a 12-year-old with the body of a 50-year-old man. His extreme obesity could be killing him. Dr. Sanjay Gupta makes it his mission to show him the damage inside his body. Will the wake-up call be enough?
Plus, in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, the mayor a marked man. Lucky to be alive tonight. We'll tell you about the horrific warning that arrived in a bloody bag.
COOPER: This week in our series, "Kids in Peril, Obesity in America," we're taking a close look at a crisis that may be killing America's kids. You know, if that sounds over the top or extreme, it's not.
A new Kaiser Permanente survey predicts that soaring rates of extreme obesity may be cutting decades off the lives of kids. In the simplest terms, they're eating themselves to death.
We wondered, though, what does that really mean? What is going on inside a young child's body who's obese. What kind of damage is all that food doing? You're about to see, and so is a 12-year-old boy. Again, here's 360 MD, Sanjay Gupta.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a father of three, it's especially hard for me to hear these stories: children, dying far earlier than they should, in some cases their lives cut by decades.
These are children, the worst-case scenarios of nearly one-third of American kids who weigh too much.
(on camera) But you see, the thing is, behind all those stats and behind all those numbers are real stories. People are worried that what we're describing could happen to them.
Let's go meet somebody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you?
GUPTA: How y'all doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
GUPTA (voice-over): Just 12 years old and 250 pounds. Tiger Green has a story. Call it the new American story.
TIGER GREEN, FIGHTING OBESITY: In our family, when you're happy, we eat. When you're sad, we eat. And when you just are watching TV, you eat.
GUPTA (on camera): What did you eat?
T. GREENE: Lunch, I have, like, a big 15-ounce steak or something. And like five Sprites and stuff like that.
GUPTA: Five Sprites, one meal. I'm almost scared to ask about dinner. What was that like?
T. GREENE: Take lunch times five.
GUPTA (voice-over): It's hard not to smile but also important to realize that Tiger didn't get here by himself. He had help from the people who care the most.
(on camera) I have three kids. So I'm the last guy in the world who preaches about anything nowadays, because I know the reality. What were you thinking when you saw him eating that much?
BRIAN GREENE, FATHER: As a parent, you want -- you want to see your kids happy. And mistakenly, horribly mistakenly, when we were eating, we were happy and somehow, that computed to be good parenting.
GUPTA (voice-over): Tiger's dad wishes he would have known this one startling fact: children with an obese parent are 50 percent more likely to be obese themselves. Fifty percent.
(on camera) We think lot of people focus on what's happening, what you look like on the outside of your body. Have you ever thought about what's going on, on the inside of your body?
T. GREENE: Not much.
GUPTA: Well, that's what I think I'm going to show you today. In fact, that why we've brought you to this hospital. We're going to take a look and see what's happening to your heart, what's happening to your liver and see what you think. OK?
T. GREENE: OK.
GUPTA (voice-over): It's hard to believe this is a child's liver, all that white filled with fat. Fat, not just on the outside of your body.
(on camera) That's happening inside your body.
(voice-over) For me as a doctor, this is especially disturbing, because we see this with patients who are typically decades older.
(on camera) That's the top of your femur. That's the bone right here that goes into your hip, and it is pushing against the bone over here. You should have a nice lay of cartilage in between here, a nice cushion. And because it's so much weight, that bone is literally pushed back and into that joint. That's going to hurt.
(voice-over) Of course, your joints hurting is not nearly as frightening as what all that fat is doing to your heart.
(on camera) This heart is having to work so hard, that muscle is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger, which in the heart is a bad thing. After a while, it's not going to be able to work as well.
T. GREEN: It's scary, because I know that could be happening to me right now.
GUPTA: What we're talking about isn't just theoretical. This is really happening right now. In fact, Tiger told me a story that really stuck with me. When he was in second grade, just 7 years old, he started to have chest pains. And doctors were concerned enough about his heart that he ended up in a place like this, doctors checking his heart and doing procedures and tests to try and figure out what was going on. A second grader, and all this because of overweight and obesity.
Can you imagine as a child ending up in a room like this? Doctors are worried that you might not be able to survive.
DR. STEPHANIE WALSH, TIGER'S DOCTOR: You can have an early death of cardiovascular disease.
GUPTA: So when you say early death, are you talking about people in their 30s having heart attacks? What does that mean?
WALSH: Well, this is pretty unprecedented. We haven't really seen 8 year-olds with Type 2 diabetes before. So we don't actually know what's going to happen. But it's very concerning. And the good news is we can do something about it.
GUPTA (voice-over): Tiger has already started.
(on camera) This is a pretty good look. You've got a lot of fruit. You've got blueberries. You've got strawberries. You've got fresh vegetables down here.
(voice-over) For Tiger, it's a point of immense pride. He's now 30 pounds lighter. He has another 40 to go. And all of those lost pounds are adding years to his life and changing his body on the outside and the inside, as well. They were rapidly aging a boy into a sick old man, way before his time. And that smile, well, it means he's peeling off the pounds, and those years.
COOPER: It's great that he's been able to lose 30 pounds so far. A lot of this, obviously, has to do with parents and what kind of food they're buying and giving to their kids. In this case, did -- did his folks just not realize that their son was getting overweight?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, it's going to sound sort of silly, after having watched that piece. But about half of parents that have an overweight or obese child, they simply look beyond it. It's not that they don't see it, but they kind of ignore it. In part, they think it's the culture. In part, they see a lot of their kids' friends looking the same way. In part, they think it's baby fat that may eventually disappear. They simply don't see it. So therein lies part of the problem.
It also seems to be this idea of eating as a comfort.
GUPTA: And they both talk about this quite a bit. In anxious times, people tend to eat more, and we've been through some pretty anxious times.
COOPER: But I mean, to hear of, you know, 6- and 7-year-olds going to the emergency room with chest pains or Type 2 diabetes, how common is that?
GUPTA: You know, it's getting increasingly common. I don't want to overstate this by any means. But it is becoming increasingly common. In fact, you hear about people, even under the age of 10, starting to have evidence of coronary artery disease.
We found a study when I was preparing for the segment tonight of a child 3 years old that had evidence of coronary artery disease, for this reason: Type 2 diabetes. When I was in medical school, we referred to that as adult onset diabetes. It is now often seen in children because of simply being overweight.
COOPER: And just that video of the fat inside the liver. I didn't even realize livers get that.
GUPTA: I know. It's remarkable, that fat can really permeate just about every organ in the body. In a lot of places you wouldn't even notice it. But with the liver, for example, it leads to significant inflammation throughout the body, stops your ability to clot.
You know, Anderson, statin drugs, that's a medication we talk about quite a bit. It was approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children as young as 8 years old a couple years ago.
GUPTA: So, you know, they say you know what? We know it's unprecedented but we also know that we're at this -- this unique time in our history.
COOPER: The fact that he's been able to lose 30 pounds, he seems highly motivated. Let's hope he makes it. GUPTA: We'll keep an eye on him.
COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, thanks very much.
Our "Kids in Peril" continues tomorrow with my interview with celebrity chef and dad of three, Jamie Oliver. He's been recognized for his work in leading the fight against obesity in England. Now he's here in the United States. A quick preview.
COOPER: One of the big things you did in England was encourage and really pressure the British government to change the food that they serve to kids in schools. And in your TV show here, you've actually gone around to schools in the United States.
I want to show our viewers just some of what you found in talking to kids in schools.
JAMIE OLIVER, CHEF: We're going to do a little test. All right. Who knows what this is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Potatoes.
OLIVER: Potatoes. So you think these are potatoes? Not potatoes, though.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
OLIVER: Do you know what that is? Do you know what that is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Broccoli.
OLIVER: What about this? Good old friend. Do you know what this is, honey?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Celery.
OLIVER: No. What do you think it is, darling?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Onion.
OLIVER: Onion, no.
(voice-over) Immediately you get a really clear sense that the kids don't know anything about where food comes from.
(on camera) Who knows what that is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A pear?
OLIVER: A pear, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A turnip.
OLIVER: No. I'm going to give you the first word. Egg. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Egg...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eggshell. )
COOPER: I must say, I'm embarrassed. I didn't know what the thing with the stalk was.
OLIVER: A beet.
COOPER: That was a beet? All right. But it's -- to see kids who don't know what a tomato is, is pretty scary.
OLIVER: Yes. In the other clip, as well, they didn't know what potato was, but as soon as you said, you know, fries, French fries, they're all over it.
So I think we're in an important time now in American history, I believe. Governments need to start, you know, really investing in some of the damage that's been done over the last 30 years.
COOPER: You can see the full interview with Jamie Oliver tomorrow on 360.
Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
And next on the program, the chilling deadline for a big-city mayor who's the top politician in Juarez, Mexico, and drug cartels say he has the lead office tonight. Our interview with the mayor and the latest in the drug violence coming up.
Also tonight, the killer whale deadly attack on a SeaWorld's trainer caught on tape, we know that. But will a judge let the world see it? We'll tell you tonight, ahead.
COOPER: Tonight an interview with a marked man in charges of perhaps the most dangerous place on earth right now. He's the mayor of Juarez, the Mexican border city that's been terrorized, torn apart by drug cartels.
This year along, more than 500 people have been murdered in Juarez and that drug lords have warned the mayor that he may be next. They've given him two weeks to leave office. Tonight is the deadline. With a "Crime & Punishment" reporter, here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT:
TUCHMAN: The mayor of Juarez, Mexico, hates the drug cartels that have turned the city into a dangerous and violent place, a city with the highest murder rate in the world. The cartels want him gone permanently. MAYOR JOSE REYES FERRIZ, CUIDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO: The threats are real. They're not just intimidating; they're real. And I have to take it very seriously.
TUCHMAN: Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz was told two weeks ago that, if he didn't quit his job by today, he would be assassinated. For added emphasis, a bloody animal head came with a note.
FERRIZ: I know I have a lot of people that not only don't like me but would like to do something to me.
TUCHMAN: So that's why his driver carries an automatic rifle with him at all times.
And in public, like at this patriotic celebration, the mayor has elaborate security, and he's not backing down. Not only does he continue to appear at public events, he talks a lot about how the bad guys have ruined his city.
FERRIZ (through translator): Juarez is a lover of peace, and peace is what we are lacking.
TUCHMAN: During his three-year term, the mayor has fired hundreds of cops. He believed they were in bed with the narco- traffickers. The city's police force is now considered much less corrupt, and that angers the cartels and has led to assassinations of police and several threats against the mayor, including this very specific one involving the animal head.
(on camera) Mayor, how scared are you personally?
FERRIZ: Well, I take all the necessary precautions I can take.
TUCHMAN: I asked the mayor if it's safe to tour the city a bit. So we go to a skateboard and bicycle park. It's not crowded, but there are some kids having fun. Nevertheless, even in this environment, he doesn't go anywhere without an armed guard, although here, the rifle is left in its case.
FERRIZ: It's hard to have a normal life. It's -- it's extremely difficult. I love playing tennis. I haven't played in a couple of years. I love going to the movies. I haven't gone to the movies in a couple years.
TUCHMAN: He's a family man, a lawyer by trade. The mayor could quit tomorrow and live a less stressful, financially lucrative life. As we travel in his armored vehicle, he says he's well aware a killer could target him at any time. So I asked him about quitting.
(on camera) Do you have any thoughts about that possibility?
FERRIZ: No. I won't step down my position. It's a very important position. What we're doing is extremely important for our city. If we don't do it today, it's going to be very hard to do it tomorrow. It's going to be double hard. TUCHMAN (voice-over): The contrasts in his life are surreal: the law-abiding citizens of Juarez want him to succeed. The cartels want him punished, they want him dead.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Juarez, Mexico.
COOPER: Well, Gary and 360 producer Emil (ph) Estrada give us a behind-the-scenes look at their harrowing trip through Juarez. You can check out the blogs at AC360.com right now.
Coming up next, why nobody will be seeing the video of that deadly SeaWorld attack any time soon. What a court had to say.
And then our "Shot," a reporter agreeing to get tasered. Rick Sanchez, you have some competition.
COOPER: A number of other stories we're following. Let's check in again with Christine Romans for a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Christine.
ROMANS: Anderson, a Delaware pediatrician accused of molesting more than 100 young patients pleaded not guilty in a Delaware court today. Dr. Earl Bradley is facing a staggering 471 charges in connection with his alleged crime.
Prosecutors say all of Bradley's victims were girls except for one boy, and they say they have the evidence to prove it.
Video of a deadly whale attack of the SeaWorld trainer will not be released any time soon. A Florida judge today let stand an injunction preventing the footage from being made public. The tape shows the 12,000-pound whale, Tilikum, pulling Dawn Brancheau under the water. These photos were taken just moments before that attack.
A massive baby carrier recall. The Consumer Products Safety Commission is urging people to stop using Infantino Sling Rider and Wendy Bellisimo slings. The move follows reports that the sling may have suffocated three infants.
And see this guy? Police say he was one of the two would-be robbers who tried to phone in their heist. It happened yesterday in Connecticut. The suspects allegedly called the bank, demanding that $100,000 be ready for them when they arrived to pick it up. The money wasn't waiting, but the cops were.
COOPER: Wah, wah, wah.
ROMANS: It's called criminal Darwinism, isn't it?
COOPER: Doesn't make any sense to me.
All right. Tonight's "Shot," a Japanese reporter willingly agrees to be tasered. Now, who would ever do such a thing?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by.
It's all done. It's all over. Just relax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We found this clip on LiveLeak.com. The reporter was a little shaken up but otherwise OK, despite the fact she was zapped. And speaking of zapped reporters, I give you the man himself.
ROMANS: Of course.
COOPER: The one, the only.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm about to receive 50,000 volts of electricity. Do it.
Agh! Oh! It hurts. It hurts.
I'm about to receive 50,000 volts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Rick is truly the taser master. But let's just see how they both fare in a side by side match-up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Oh! A-ya!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ah!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all over. Relax.
SANCHEZ: It hurts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We didn't save the best line. Do we not have the final, the cherry on the cake? The icing. We don't?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: I'm about to receive 50,000 volts of electricity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What was the line?
SANCHEZ: Do it. Agh! Oh!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: I never get tired of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: It hurts. It's painful. But no one's dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: But no one's dead. There you go. Something to think about as you go to bed tonight.
It hurts? Not sure.
See you later. I don't know where this is going.
ROMANS: Something to think about when you go to bed tonight.
COOPER: Good night.