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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Without a Home: Refugees in Crisis; Missing Pregnant Woman: The Latest; Mike's Move; When Fish Go Bad;
Aired June 20, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Population of Concern:
The total population of concern to UNHCR increased from 21 million persons at the start of 2006 to 32.9 million by the end of 2006 (56 percent increase)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching the only live newscast on cable right now.
Tonight, on World Refugee Day 2007 we are looking for accountability. For a second straight year, we have teamed up with Academy Award Winning Actress Angelina Jolie to take a hard look at a crisis that's much worse than it was just 12 months ago.
COOPER (voice-over): She's a famous actor and a committed humanitarian.
(on camera): When was it that you knew this is it -- this is going to be a primary focus for me?
ANGELIE JOLIE, ACADEMY AWARD WINNING ACTRESS: The first time I went to a refugee camp.
COOPER (voice-over): That was six years ago. Since then, the U.N. Refugee Agency's Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has traveled to more than 20 countries to see the refugee problem for herself.
JOLIE: In Sierra Leone it was a realization that there were really -- real horrors in the world and real -- and a kind of cruelty and violence that I really did not know existed. And I did not know people could suffer like that.
COOPER: And the suffering is only getting worse. The U.N. says it's now caring for nearly 10 million people worldwide. Up 14 percent in just a year. And millions more are displaced within their own countries.
The crisis in Iraq has exploded in the past year. The U.S. invasion led to the continuing bloodbath. Many have been forced out by insurgents, some simply because they have helped out the Americans.
UDAY, IRAQI REFUGEE: They want to shoot my head, you know. But I put my arm like this so the bullets go inside and then go in my face, you know, and my eye.
COOPER: Uday says he was nearly killed for working as a translator for the U.S. military. He told CNN's Michael Ware the U.S. turned its back on him.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The military didn't help you?
WARE: The American government didn't help you?
COOPER: The U.N. says 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes. The majority, since the beginning of the war. And yet the United States acknowledges it has taken in fewer than 1,000 since then.
(on camera): There are many concerns in the United States about security, about allowing Iraqis in and, you know, which Iraqis are you allowing in? Are you allowing in people who have helped the United States as interpreters or people who have connections to al Qaeda or insurgent groups. That's a legitimate fear.
JOLIE: Sure. But honestly, as I said before, I'm more worried about the millions and millions of vulnerable people that have no access to a decent quality of life, who are going to be brought in to terrorist groups because that's their only option.
COOPER (voice-over): Especially in Afghanistan where returning refugees have already been recruited by the Taliban.
JOLIE: It seems like we have a very good -- as an international community or as a country ourselves, when we need to go to war, we have strategies and plans and big offices. And we have a plan of attack. We don't seem to be very good at having a plan for reconstruction and peace.
COOPER: For the people in the Darfur region of Sudan, peace is a distant dream. They are caught in a 4-year-old conflict between the government and rebel fighters.
One refugee monitoring the agency says there are more than 5 million displaced within Sudan alone, and hundreds of thousands in refugees in neighboring Chad.
At one of these camps Angelina Jolie met a little boy struggling with the scars of war.
JOLIE: To spend half an hour and just touch him and pet him and, you know, and hold him and look at him and it was -- it's really -- it's a part of conflict that we often don't have the time to also think about. You know, these people that have been through all of this, every refugee, what they have gone through. The therapy that it would require.
COOPER: Healing will be difficult, but the biggest challenge of all may be justice.
JOLIE: I think we have a problem with not being able to hold people accountable who commit these crimes. And until we are able to do that as an international community, until we are able to back up the steps we take towards justice, in a very, very strong way, I don't see what it is that we are doing.
COOPER (on camera): And that's where our special tonight "Without a Home: Refugees in Crisis" picks up.
Tonight, we're looking for accountability and asking some tough questions about the worldwide refugee crisis.
As we just said, the exodus from Iraq has made the crisis worse than ever. A new U.N. report released just today warns that the outpouring from Iraq threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East. We are about to show you why.
The vast majority of Iraqis, some 50,000 a month, have fled to Syria and Jordan. And both countries are feeling the strain.
In Jordan, many Iraqi exiles land in Amman, where they live in squalor and try to cling to hope.
CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour takes us there now.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early this morning, Iraqis living in the Jordanian capital Amman line up for free medical care. They have fled the relentless violence in their homeland next door and this is how they now survive, relying on handouts and a little help from their friends.
Esraa Abass Alaby is one of them. She worked as a desperately needed Arabic translator for U.S forces after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But insurgents kept threatening to kill her. They found out where she lived and they made chilling threats to behead her unless she stopped her work. She fled here seven months ago.
ESRAA ABASS ALABY, FORMER TRANSLATOR: I just feel more than the refugee from inside. I just feel I'm lost. Without any hope, you know. To be honest with you, I'm not eating that much. I'm not taking care of anything. I just feel -- I just feel very -- I'm living in a black life -- just trying to get a light, you know, to go towards it.
AMANPOUR: But waiting in Jordan, lonely, friendless and emotionally spent, her only contacts with family, e-mails and weekly phone calls, Esraa is hoping to move to the United States, the country she did after all put her life on the line for.
But like many of the 33,000 Iraqi asylum seekers registered here with the United Nations, processing the most vulnerable for resettlement in other countries is excruciatingly slow.
ALABY: I think they should -- they should help me because I'm alone, I'm just a girl. I didn't do anything wrong. I just was trying to help my people and to help the American military.
AMANPOUR: Esraa is not alone. The war in Iraq has destroyed many lives and torn apart many families.
Hawedia (ph) is now a single mother. Her husband disappeared after they fled Baghdad and she too now survives in Jordan on the kindness of others.
HAWEDIA (ph), REFUGEE (through translator): My only wish is that even if there is one day left in my life, I want to spend it with my family. I feel like a child who wants to be hugged by her mother because loneliness is killing me.
AMANPOUR: Many of the estimated 750,000 Iraqis who have fled to Jordan scrape by on the edge of existence.
We met Unriad (ph) on the street, selling dusters and herbs to survive and trying to send the little she saved to her family in Baghdad.
She lives in one crowded room with seven others, all widows from various wars in Iraq's violent past.
Saddam is gone and we have become the victims. How come we as old women can't be with our children? Our sisters and brothers? Why are we here and they are there, she asks.
It's a question Esraa also asks every single day. She tries to stay in touch with her family back in Iraq, but with every passing day, she feels increasingly lost.
(on camera): The truth is the Iraqis that have fled here just want to go back home, but that is not going to happen while violence still rages back in Iraq.
In the meantime, the Jordanian government says it's costing them $1 billion a year to look after this massive influx and it wants help from its friends.
Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Amman, Jordan.
COOPER: The Iraq refugee crisis is unfolding in plain sight. That's not the case in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma. It is a secretive land run by a brutal regime. And for more than four decades, its 50 million people have been oppressed by one of the most tightly controlled military dictatorships in the world. Thousands of ethnic minorities have fled, many to Malaysia and Thailand. More than 200,000 refugees in all. The camps there are squalid in many cases. People are raising children who have no guarantee of ever seeing their homeland.
I talked about that with Angelina Jolie.
COOPER: In Myanmar, a crisis which I know you focus a lot on. A lot of people don't know much about it. What should they know?
JOLIE: I think people should know that we all don't know quite a lot about what's going on inside there and that we should not look away because there's a very, very serious situation.
I have not been inside, but I have met with people in India and in Thailand, and the stories that they carry are heavy and what's happened to them and the abuses they faced and then the fear and why they ran are stories that make you wonder how much else we also don't know and why we haven't been able to kind of open that up and get inside and understand exactly what's going on.
And I don't know -- I don't know if years to come we are going to finally -- you know, hopefully we don't open it up and it was so much worse than we knew.
But the stories from these people -- and it has been many, many years that they have been uprooted and many are internally displaced inside and people can't get to them. And for those who have made it out, they -- a lot of them -- many have been out a long, long time and they don't know when they're going to return and they don't know what's happening in their country and a lot of them don't know what's happened to family members.
COOPER: I know you met a guy named David who really impressed you.
JOLIE: Yes. I had a great fortune of being allowed to spend the night in a refugee camp and really get to know a family, and I spent -- I was in -- I went to visit this guy, David, and his wife, and he really was one of the most extraordinarily intelligent individuals I have ever met, and he was teaching how to farm, how to inside -- like he was a world health food program bag, putting soil in the bag and then lifting it up and that you could farm inside of it and to not ruin the ground that you are borrowing.
COOPER: People find a way to survive.
JOLIE: People find a way to survive and you do, but you meet people like him and you realize -- and he's very worried about the next generation and what they are learning because some of them have been there over 15 years. Some of them are growing up there. And if they have the right education, just enough education that they do understand land and their life and who they are going to be and who their families were in Myanmar, then when they go back, they will be ready to take care of their home. They will be ready to plant. They will be ready to farm. They will be capable citizens.
And this is why refugee camps are so important. It's such an important time because when people are uprooted they either break apart and they lose a generation of education. They lose the ability to do what is traditional to them, whether it be agriculture or whatever. They lose all of that. And then when they return home 20 years later, they are sitting in a broken, barren land without the tools to make it better and have a real great, strong functioning society and have jobs and schooling and raise healthy families and all of that.
So that's why this period of time when people are uprooted is so crucial. And David is somebody who is obviously making the best of that time and teaching those around him. And so that's why he is extraordinary.
COOPER: If someone like David with a Western education can become a refugee, it can happen to any of us.
The story Jolie told us made us want to know more about David.
CNN's Dan Rivers traveled to the same refugee camp in Thailand to find him.
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To find the refugees of Myanmar, you have to travel deep into the dense jungle of neighboring Thailand. A long difficult journey to a remote camp normally closed to Western journalists.
It's called Ban May Nai Soi (ph), home to 22,000 ethnic Koreny (ph) tribes people. Citizens of Myanmar who fled across the border seeking safety.
At first glance the camp looks like any other you might find around the world -- squalid conditions, shoddy shelter.
But one man has transformed his corner of the camp into a model of do-it-yourself environmental engineering. David Saw Wah fled from an attack by the Myanmar army 10 years ago and now uses his Western education to show refugees how to preserve the environment.
DAVID SAW WAH, REFUGEE: Agraforestry, yes.. We plant trees and crops together.
RIVERS (on camera): Agraforestry?
SAW WAH: We plant trees and crops together.
RIVERS (voice-over): And he's teaching other refugees how to recycle waste, molding it into special fuel briquettes.
SAW WAH: We don't need to cut the trees, we don't need to damage the forest.
RIVERS (on camera): So this helps preserve the environment?
SAW WAH: Yes, preserve and save the forest.
RIVERS (voice-over): The briquettes are made from dried banana leaves or waste paper mixed with charcoal dust. They burn more slowly and efficiently than wood.
David's invented countless ways to recycle the little he has.
SAW WAH: This is our biogas plant, yes.
RIVERS (on camera): Biogas plant?
SAW WAH: Biogas plant.
(voice-over): A simple system to catch capture methane given off by pig manure, providing free cooking gas for the house and reducing harmful emissions.
SAW WAH: As you know, methane gas causes global warming, it traps the heat.
RIVERS (on camera): David has achieved so much with so little here. But it's important to remember the reason he and the 22,000 other people are in these camps on the border is because of the vicious military regime right over this hill.
(voice-over): That regime is run by Tan Schway (ph) the latest in a long line of generals who brutalized Myanmar for 45 years.
The U.S. and the E.U. have imposed economic sanctions. But other countries like China support it. Tan Schway (ph) sees ethnic tribes who want greater autonomy as a threat to his power and has deployed his army to suppress him. Something his ministers flatly deny.
BRIG. GEN. KYAW HSAN, MINISTER FOR INFORMATION: Those accusations are totally false and no such (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of that in Myanmar.
RIVERS: But here's the evidence -- harrowing scenes from late last year.
Here David's fellow tribes people collect bodies. They say the Myanmar army attacked their village, burning down houses and killing at random.
David fled after just such a raid and says they are increasingly common.
SAW WAH: They are getting more and more worse. Because of the military, they step up their operation. RIVERS: But David clings to the hope that one day his people will be able to return home. And when they do, he wants them to use his techniques to create a new environmentally friendly community in harmony with the jungle and living in peace.
Dan Rivers, CNN, at Ban May Nie Soi (ph) camp, Thailand.
COOPER: David, one man who has been victimized, but does not want to be seen as a victim.
We'd like to thank Angelina Jolie and UNHCR for all their hard work and for providing us with many of the images you saw in this 360 special.
Jolie is one person who is making a difference. Learn how you can help. You can go to CNN.com/impact. It's a new corner of our Web site, called Impact your World, where being part of the solution is just a click away.
Just as we were getting the program ready, we started receiving word from Ohio that the case of the missing pregnant woman was about to take a sharp turn. Looks like it has, on to a police officer who has been saying all along he is not a suspect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Late developments, new details. Law enforcement shifts the spotlight onto the father of Jessie Davis's children. What do they think he knows about her disappearance and why are they focusing now on him?
Also, they love her. They love her not. See who's got raw feelings for Hillary Clinton and why. Tonight, in "Raw Politics."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): Jessie Davis, mother of one, nine months pregnant, last seen a week ago. This evening law enforcement officers conducted a lengthy search of the northeast Ohio home of Bobby Cutts, Jr., a local police officer and father of Jessie Davis's children.
CNN's David Mattingly is in Canton, Ohio, along with Todd Porter, a correspondent for the local paper, the "Canton Repository."
David, you were at Cutts's house when authorities searched it again today. Describe the scene.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, picture this. It was a very quiet neighborhood northeast of Canton. A lot of split-level ranch houses and a lot of large grassy lawns. Sheriff's deputies pulled up and they blocked off the street on either side of Bobby Cutts, Jr.'s house. And a dozen officers, FBI and sheriff's deputies converged upon that house. They were there for hours. They were looking inside, searching, looking for evidence.
They brought out between 10 and 20 large boxes. We don't know what was inside of them because they were sealed. They also brought out three large plastic bags. These bags were black. They were very large. We don't know what was inside them.
They went about their work, not saying anything. They packed up their van which was parked in the driveway and drove off.
Then about 15 people, about 15 friends and family of Bobby Cutts were outside watching all of this happen. When the officers left, they went back inside the house, posted no trespassing signs and told everyone to please go away.
So again, no explanation and no indication of what they found in the home on this particular search.
COOPER: Todd, no one has really seen or heard from Bobby Cutts except for you. You spoke to him. I want to play part of the interview now in which Cutts talks about investigators and whether or not he's a suspect.
Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUTTS: They continue to say I am not a suspect, but, I mean, I would be dumb and naive to think that they weren't treating me as a suspect, like different things I've had to go through the past couple of days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That interview, of course, was conducted yesterday. Today seems more and more like he is a suspect. Are police saying that now?
TODD PORTER, "CANTON REPOSITORY": No. Police have not said that he is a suspect. He is still being referred to as an associate.
It was interesting today at the press conference that they said that they were in communication with Bobby Cutts. They were asked if he was being cooperative, and they said that we are in communication with Bobby Cutts.
I'm told by family members and friends of Mr. Cutts that he has been cooperative with investigators, that he is in better spirits today than he was in yesterday.
I spoke with him today for a few minutes around 3:00 prior to the search, which lasted upwards of four hours, and he seemed to be in good spirits. He did have an interview with the FBI this morning. But other than that, I have not spoken to him since the search, only family and friends I have talked to, and they have indicated to me that his demeanor, his spirits are a little bit better today than they were yesterday.
COOPER: And where is he now? He's in his home?
PORTER: He's still in his home, yes. He was there with at least his mother. She told me that she was given the option of staying in during the search, but she would have to stay seated and not move, so she decided to go outside the home.
I spoke with her for a few minutes outside the home during the search.
As a family member, as a mother, she seemed completely comfortable with the situation. She didn't seem real, you know, too concerned one way or another.
COOPER: David, has there been any release in information, either from the FBI or local authorities about the cell phone records of either Bobby Cutts or of Jessie Davis?
MATTINGLY: Not any specifics, but this is a very important tool in cases just like this, because they will be able to look at these cell phone records and find out where Jessie Davis's, her phone might have been after the last time she was seen or heard from.
Remember, her missing cell phone is one of the few things that was taken from that house. They can look at these records, find out who was trying to contact her, who she might have been trying to call. They can also look at the records showing which cell phone tower might have been taking care of these calls.
Now, that's very important in trying to locate where that phone might have been at the time those calls were being made.
Investigators in other cases have used this very successfully in finding missing persons, and that's what they are trying to do in this case as well.
COOPER: And DNA testing still being done on that infant who was discovered yesterday on the doorstep of a nurse's home about 40 or so miles away. A lot of questions still unanswered.
Todd Porter, thanks for the reporting.
David Mattingly, as well.
Thank you, guys.
Just ahead tonight, Senator Hillary Clinton may be the Democratic frontrunner for president, but she is still getting heckled on the campaign trail. We'll tell you who's doing it and why in "Raw Politics."
Plus, new buzz about the current mayor of New York. Will he join his predecessor in the race for the White House? All that and more when 360 continues.
COOPER: That's Celine Dion. Her song, "You and I" was chosen as the theme for Hillary Clinton's campaign.
All right, Renee, enough. Renee?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Anderson?
COOPER: OK, enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take four?
COOPER: Yes, stop the music.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, Anderson. Thirty-one take one.
COOPER: That's Renee, our director, not, of course, to be confused with Renee Angelil, Celine Dion's husband. Two different Renee's, just for the record.
Since we're covering the race, we think we should also have a little theme music of our own. I got to tell you, we were this close to picking "You and I" ourselves, so we are kind of bummed. Now we need some new suggestions and we want you to help us. E-mail us your suggestions for some 360 political coverage music. And please, no Leo Sayre (ph). Get all the details on our blog at CNN.com/360blog. We'll choose the winning song in a couple weeks.
As for today, the candidates were on the road and sounding off. It was the president who was making the biggest noise, however.
CNN's Joe Johns has tonight's "Raw Politics."
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Democrats come out swinging for stem cells, but President Bush strikes back with an executive knockout.
Round two of the stem cell fight goes to President Bush who vetoed the Democrat's bill today. He vetoed a similar bill last July. The measure would have eased federal funding restrictions for research on embryonic stem cells. The president did offer a plan that would encourage research on stem cells that he says will not endanger human life.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're already seeing remarkable advances in science and therapeutic uses as stem cells drawn from adults and children.
JOHNS: Something tells us this won't ease the Democrats pain. Hillary Clinton's appearance at "Take Back America" wasn't so painful. Last year at this very event she was booed by liberals for her stance on Iraq. In fact, even today, antiwar activists from Code Pink heckled her. But overall, she got a warmer reception this time around.
But in politics, applause isn't everything. Clinton came in third in a straw poll that was taken after the event, right behind Barack Obama and John Edwards.
Breathless, not drunk. That's what the new French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he was when he showed up to take questions at the G-8 summit a couple weeks ago.
Millions of Internet users have tuned in to watch the video of what can only be described as an unusual, even shaky entrance. After Sarkozy met with Russian President Putin. Sarkozy has tried to put the issue to rest by assuring the public that he doesn't drink.
I do not touch a drop of alcohol, he says. I just don't like it.
And talk about unusual. Check this out. Insert caption here. No, it's not the latest "Star Wars" convention. It's a photo of Senators Barbara Mikulski, Wayne Allard and Ted Stevens, taken this past weekend at the Paris Air Show where the three were viewing a 3-D display of a flight deck.
JOHNS (on camera): They certainly wouldn't fit in on Capitol Hill wearing those things, but anything goes in "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.
COOPER: Joe, thanks.
Still to come, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who keeps saying he's not running for president and keeps doing things that make people think he is.
John King has been doing some digging. He comes up with some new buzz. His report is next.
Plus, it is unlike any place on earth. The wildlife you won't find anywhere else, and it is very much in danger. We'll tell you why in our "Planet in Peril" series. Wildlife Biologist Jeff Corwin joins us when 360 continues.
COOPER: So you need to know a few things about our billionaire mayor here in New York, Michael Bloomberg. It's not about his money, it's about his next move and why the presidential candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike, should take notice. Bloomberg says he is not running for now. Doesn't that sound familiar though?
CNN's John King investigates. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Was as close as he has come to saying forget about it.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: I'm not running for president and I'm going to be mayor for the next 925 days.
KING: But some still don't buy it. After all, this was just a day after Michael Bloomberg disclosed switching his voter registration from Republican to Unaffiliated, a change interpreted by many as a big step toward an independent presidential run. Not so, the mayor says.
BLOOMBERG: I've got the greatest job in the world and I'm going to keep doing it.
KING: Yet he won't say absolutely positively no. And he intends to keep up his cross country travels where he is finding some high powered encouragement.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, I, myself, I think he would make an excellent candidate.
BLOOMBERG: He's a very smart guy and I'm very flattered that he would say it.
KING: Democratic Pollster Stan Greenburg doesn't think Bloomberg can win. But that he finds the prospect of being in the presidential debate irresistible.
STAN GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Why not? I mean, first of all, there's the real chance of, you know, running for president in a year that has all the feel of a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like year. You know, he runs against politics, he runs against Washington.
KING: Bloomberg is anything but a conventional politician. A billionaire, not afraid to bankroll his own campaign. A one-time Democrat turned Republican, turned Independent. A balance the budget businessman with liberal views on abortion, gay rights and gun control.
Republican Strategist Scott Reed says the Democrats have the most to worry about.
SCOTT REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: If he runs, there will be two liberals in the race versus one Republican. So unlike the parofinoma (ph) that really hurt Republicans, this has a chance to hurt Democrats.
KING: During a subway ride a year ago, Mayor Bloomberg was already testing a national message.
BLOOMBERG: We keep bringing down crime. We keep improving our school system. We keep providing more services and creating more jobs and more affordable housing and improving our cultural institutions. KING: A constant theme is that both parties are either ducking the big issues like social security reform and climate change or being unrealistic. He cites immigration as a case in point.
BLOOMBERG: The real world is complex. The real world is not what you see in Congress where they stand up and say we should deport 12 million people.
KING: While Bloomberg says he's not running, a few close advisors are meticulously researching what it would take.
REED: It's about how to qualify to get on the ballot. About what the rigors of a national campaign are like. And they are asking all the right questions. Will he ultimately go all the way? Nobody knows. But he clearly has made himself a player for the next nine or 10 months.
KING: And being a player suits Bloomberg just fine.
John King, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: It's going to be an interesting race.
Up next, rare animals in danger as the forests around them continue to disappear. We'll visit live with Wildlife Biologist Jeff Corwin who is live in Madagascar in Africa.
Also ahead, she doesn't look like a bank robber. Maybe that's why she's been able to walk into so many banks and walk away with so much money. The ponytail bandit -- that's what they're calling her, ahead on 360.
COOPER: Madagascar is the latest stop in our "Planet in Peril" series. The project is taking us around the world, looking for accountability in a crisis that all of us have a huge stake in.
Madagascar sits about 250 miles off the coast of Southeast Africa. It has been isolated from other land masses for more than 160 million years. And that is just one of dozens of amazing facts about it. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): There's nowhere like Madagascar, one of the world's largest islands. It sits off the southeastern coast of Africa and is home to at least 5 percent of the world's plant and animal life. An incredible 90 percent of its wildlife cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.
RUSS MITTERMEIER, PRESIDENT, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL: It's a living laboratory. It's a unique experiment unlike anyplace else on earth. COOPER: Along with its rich biodiversity comes abject poverty. Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. And with that poverty comes an assault on natural resources.
Slash and burn forestry techniques are eating up the forests. Every year 2,000 square kilometers are lost. That's the size of the city of San Diego.
Only 10 percent of Madagascar's forests are left.
MITTERMEIER: What we are trying to show is that without these forests which protect the watersheds, which are essential for the rice patties, and the Malaga's (ph) are the largest consumers of rice per capita in the world. Ultimately, the whole system collapses.
COOPER: The massive deforestation, along with hunting, the illegal wildlife trade and mining is putting the unique animals here in jeopardy.
Declared as one of the world's 34 biodiversity hot spots, Madagascar has nearly 550 threatened species, including its most well- known primate, the lemur.
MITTERMEIER: There's 17 families of primates around the world, including ourselves. Five of those families are found only in Madagascar and nowhere else on earth. And this is all crammed into an area about -- what remains is an area about twice the size of the state of New Jersey.
COOPER: The country's president has pledged to triple the protection of what remains of the forest. But it is an uphill battle. Madagascar is facing an environmental crisis, one that could do irreversible damage to its rare wildlife and to its people.
MITTERMEIER: If we don't conserve these ecosystems that remain, achieving any level of development, achieving any kind of attempt to alleviate poverty is going to be that much more difficult. It's not impossible. So what I think President Ravalomanana understands and what we have been trying to promote in Madagascar and globally is that conservation is one of the best tools that you have to better the lifestyle, to better the quality of life of people living in the vicinity of these key protected areas.
COOPER (on camera): As you can imagine, doing a live report from Madagascar is not an easy thing.
Wildlife Biologist Jeff Corwin is there now and his crew is trying to establish contact (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Littleton and Neil Hallsworth (ph), trying to get a picture up.
Let's try to look at what we are seeing right there. That's the worst thing you want to see on TV. That just tells you that we do not have the connection yet. That's from the satellite. We're going to try to see if we can establish contact with Jeff during the break. We will be right back.
COOPER: So we're trying to establish contact with Jeff Corwin. And we almost got it. I just want to show you the picture we do have of him -- yes, that's Jeff Corwin there, somewhere the blurb in the middle. So clearly, this isn't going to work tonight. We apologize for that.
Television may not be brain surgery. It can seem that way from our end at moments like this.
We have been trying to get that signal out. It is not working. We'll try to get the wrinkles ironed out say sometime perhaps next week or so.
We do have another story for you, though, a story that David Mattingly aired for us. He's come close -- well, it's a close encounter of another kind. Take a look.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Fishermen talk about days like this.
Big fish so easy to catch, they jump right into the boat. But this is one fish story with a very serious turn.
These leaping fish are part of an invasion, an ecological disaster on the move.
(on camera): The fish are Asian carp and they have been ruining lakes and streams everywhere they go. We are going to one of those areas right now and we have been warned, keep your head down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to believe until you're out here actually experiencing it.
MATTINGLY: Aquatic Ecologists for the state of Illinois guide us on a journey up the Illinois River, a trip they say that grows riskier each year for boaters and jet skiers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bruises and broken noses and black eyes and being knocked out. Those are the type of injuries we are seeing from these fish.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): But local fishing economies could take the biggest hit of all. Several Asian carp species were introduced to U.S. catfish farms in the 70s to eat algae in local ponds. They have since escaped into the Mississippi River system and become so prolific that they threaten to gulp down the food native fish need to survive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've invaded some of the most productive ecosystems so far.
MATTINGLY: Today everywhere we see one carp leaping, irritated by our boat noise, there could be thousands more. Watch what happens when these devices deliver a small electric shock to the water.
MATTINGLY (on camera): Holy cow! Whoa! Man! We've got a boat full of fish. Whoa!
When these fish were small, people thought this was funny, but now that they are 10 and 20 pounds, they can hit you and really do some serious harm.
(voice-over): And just a few seconds later, I find out the hard way. Ouch! That hurt!
Let's look at that from a different angle. A 10-pound carp leaps out of the water from the far side of the boat and hits me hard from more than eight feet away.
(on camera): That's going to leave a mark.
And that wouldn't be the only one.
Imagine what that would do to a fast moving jet skier.
(voice-over): But these fish collisions are only the most obvious signs of a far reaching problem. As the invaders continue their march north, the commercial fishing industry on Lake Michigan could be the next big target.
An electrical barrier under development is the lake's only defense from fish that grow bigger and more plentiful every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now this here's a big block big head (ph).
MATTINGLY: There is a small but growing consumer market for the Asian carp, but so far there hasn't been enough of an appetite to keep their numbers under control.
Biologists can see the Asian carp are here to stay. Everyone on the river, beware.
David Mattingly, CNN, Havana, Illinois.
COOPER: Man. Wow, the hazards of being a reporter, I guess.
A lot of people having a lot to say tonight on the 360 blog about our coverage of the global refugee crisis.
Evelyn, from Des Moines, Iowa, wrote, "As a Vietnamese-American, the refugee crisis really hits home for me because I was a refugee myself. It's astonishing to me how unaware many of us are that this crisis is even going on."
From Jolene in St. Joseph, Michigan, "It's just plain sad that there is a rise in the number of refugees since last year, although not surprising with all of the conflict in the world today. We also should not forget about the animals -- they get displaced too!"
And about Angelina Jolie's role in the U.N., Kelly in Cygnet, Ohio, weighs in by saying, "I applaud Ms. Jolie for what she is doing. Her voice is one of many that is growing louder on the problems in Africa. I can't honestly say I have ever seen a move of hers, and I probably won't rush out to rent them all, but I am in awe of her passion."
And as always, this segment is all about you. So whenever you've got something you want to get across, you can just go to the CNN.com/360blog, follow the links and weigh in.
Let's see David Mattingly get hit by a carp again. Do we have that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY (on camera): A few seconds later, I find out the hard way. Ouch! That hurt!
Let's look at that from a different angle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: A 10-pound carp leaps out of the water from the far side of the boat and hits me hard from more than eight feet away.
COOPER: I could watch that all night.
We'll have more of 360 after this. Stay with us.
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MATTINGLY: Imagine what that would do to a fast-moving jet skier. But these fish...
COOPER: Here's John Roberts with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Behind the scenes exclusive with the Navy SEALS, Anderson, we've sent our own Chris Lawrence to find out how they're recruiting and training some of America's most exclusive and secretive warriors.
The Defense Department is looking to dramatically add to its elite forces. They've allowed our cameras into the action to see what it takes to become a Navy SEAL.
Chris Lawrence will be live from the beach tomorrow morning, on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Sounds cool. Thanks.
Don't miss the day's headlines with the 360 daily podcast. You don't need an iPod. You can watch it on your computer. Just go to CNN.com/AC360podcast or to the iTunes store, where it's a top download. And as always, free.
And you know what? Let's watch David Mattingly get hit by a carp again in slow mo this time.
Ouch. That hurt. That was a carp. Oh.
For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is next.
Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.
I'll see you tomorrow night.
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