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Unrest in Syria; Gingrich Dropping

Aired December 28, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on East Coast.

And we begin tonight with Syria and our "Keeping Them Honest" report.

For months, we have witnessed and the world has witnessed men, women, children demonstrating the streets. Initially they called for reforms. When those calls were met with arrests, torture, and killing, they began to call for the overthrow of the regime. There has been more bloodshed in Syria, and sadly that's nothing new.

But what is new tonight is there's a team of observers from the Arab League now on the ground in Syria, observers sent in to verify that Syria's President al-Assad is keeping his promises to remove military forces from streets, to stop violence against protesters. They have now been on the ground for about 48 hours. And their initial statements are so far stunning.

The chief monitor of this Arab League observer force is a Sudanese military commander named Lieutenant General Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi. Not only is he a Sudanese military commander, he's also the former head of foreign intelligence in the government of Omar al-Bashir, a man now wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity. More on that in a moment.

Today, the head of the Arab League team in Syria, General al- Dabi, told Reuters that -- quote -- "Things were calm and there were no clashes in Homs," which has for months seen some of the deadliest violence. He went on to say, "The situation seems reassuring so far." He also said, "Some places looked a bit of a mess, but there was nothing frightening."

Nothing frightening. That is not what we have been hearing from people in and around Homs for months and it's not what you will hear tonight from a reporter who snuck into that city and just returned. The footage he took is very disturbing. We're going to show you that in a moment as well.

There's other video from Homs to show you tonight, but before we do, I want to warn you it is very hard to watch. This is video claiming to show the aftermath of an artillery strike on Monday in Homs, the very day the Arab League monitors were arriving in Damascus, the scene, destruction, several people lay dead. As always, we can't independently confirm the facts because the Syria regime won't let us see for ourselves. But this is what others tell us is happening. In Homs, the day the monitors landed in Syria, the gunfire was reportedly nonstop. This is a neighborhood called Baba Amr, the monitors visiting that neighborhood today. You heard what General al-Dabi, the chief monitor said, nothing frightening. On Monday, a Syrian activist described the exact opposite.


ABU RAMI, SYRIAN ACTIVIST: The security forces and militia of Syrian army, they are using the armored vehicles and tanks and anti- aircraft armor, storming this area, storming this neighborhood.

There are more than 10 houses completely destroyed, and there were many bodies under the rubble there. There is now a genocide taking place in this city of Homs.


COOPER: You can argue about use of the word genocide, but the killings have certainly taken on a sectarian nature. This activist in Syria is desperate that someone do something to help.


RAMI: We are calling to direct intervene from the whole organization, and the international community to intervene here in Syria and stop this bloodshed that's going on in Syria, in Homs in particular.


COOPER: Just yesterday, again with the Arab League monitors on the ground, there was reported violence across Syria. This video reportedly showed security forces firing on protesters in Hama.

Remember, the monitors are in Syria to verify that President Assad is not attacking his people. Today in Daraa where all of this began, military defectors reportedly launched an ambush on security forces. This video purports to show it. According to an opposition group, four security force members were killed and at least 14 other people died across Syria today.

What did the Arab League observers actually observe in Homs today? Besides the benign statements by their leader, we have seen this video. Again, I warn you, it's disturbing. It shows what apparently is an Arab League observer being shown the body of a dead child. The man in the orange vest and he is presumably the Arab League observer, according to the logo on his vest.

The little boy is said to be about 5 years old. He and his family were allegedly shot by security personnel who opened fire on their van. Now, remember, the Sudanese head of this observer team said he saw nothing frightening, things seemed calm today. Many people are outraged that this Sudanese man al-Dabi is leading this mission to begin with. Again, he's a military commander in Sudan and was head of foreign intelligence in a government which is now accused of genocide in Darfur.

He reported to a leader who is now wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. This is the man who is head of the observer force. The Syrian opposition group Doctors Local Committees in Damascus is calling for that man's removal from the observer force saying "His role as the deputy head of foreign intelligence raises questions as to his knowledge of mass atrocities in Darfur. Al-Dabi is now tasked with probing war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed against Syria victims. The appointment of Al-Dabi taints the Arab League's efforts and characterizes it as nothing more than a political farce, causing little help but much harm to the situation in Syria," the situation al-Dabi calls reassuring and calm.

Today, a U.S. State Department spokesman responded to al-Dabi's initial assessment of Homs saying it's just the beginning of the mission and they have only see a small area so far. It is important, he said, that we let them get themselves squared away on the ground and get their mission up and running.

Fair enough. But Syrian opposition groups report at least 14 people were killed today across the country, including five people in Homs.

A freelance journalist and filmmaker who we are not naming for his own security has just left Homs, and he spent six days there. And over the next few days, CNN will be showcasing his remarkable stories from the front line of a city at war.

His first report tonight is about government snipers that prowl Homs, picking off civilian victims at will and randomly.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The snipers are on basically every main street. They have checkpoints on both sides. Snipers would shoot everybody who is basically crossing this street between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 in the morning.

And this is an unofficial curfew. The activists told me I have to meet this woman. This is the mother of a victim who got shot when she was pregnant in the seventh month. It was during the morning when she wants to go out for shopping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Her brother tried a half-hour to go over the walls and roofs to get to her, but he didn't manage to reach her. Finally, they managed to pull her away, but it took another half-an-hour to get her to my house.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When you arrive at a situation, you arrive at the scene where a half-hour ago somebody got shot, and 30 minutes later, people are crossing very normally this street, me crossing the street, I have been feeling, basically, literally I have been feeling that somebody is aiming. The sniper is aiming on me, and it is up to him if he going to pull the trigger or not. I came to this junction and realized that somebody wanted to cross the street with a huge bag of cigarettes. So I could hear the snipers shooting and he wasn't able to cross the street and the bag of cigarettes was in the middle of the street.

So, it was again one of the very impressive scenes where people have been very happily, almost like a sport challenge to get the cigarette bags out from the sniper range. And they have been happy when they could. And they started to throw it from one side to the other. They started to throw the bags because they were not able to cross. So everything they needed on the other side, they throw it over the streets.


COOPER: A short time ago, I spoke to that journalist by phone. Again, we are not naming him, for his own security.


COOPER: The footage that we just showed of snipers basically shooting people who are trying to get supplies, cigarettes and food is really stunning. Is there any justification for what they're doing? How can they justify randomly shooting people, targeting people in the street?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. It is exactly what you said. It is randomly.

What we have seen in Homs was especially in the neighborhoods (INAUDIBLE) which are exactly in the middle of the city, sounded by a lot of different sniper positions which are aiming to all the main alleys which are surrounding the neighborhood, they are trying to randomly put fear into the people, into this neighborhood, in order to get them quiet and not getting out of the street to demonstrate.

COOPER: And yet the people continue to turn out to demonstrate. You make the point that they have no other choice, that if attention, if the world attention stops focusing on Homs, if the demonstrations stop, the government will just go in later on, once it has gotten quiet, and arrest them anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Exactly. So there is no other option for them. They might be either keep on fighting and demonstrating and uprising or getting killed by the regime anyway.

COOPER: You have spent time in Syria. You took great risks, you risked your life to get into Homs. What surprised you the most?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Everybody who was enforcing every time that they are doing a peaceful uprise now start to become -- the point of no return is already crossed. This is not be able to do peacefully. We are getting armed. We have the Free Syrian Army. We will have to fight.

COOPER: The Arab League has sent in this monitoring team into Syria to try to assess the situation. What do people there say about that? Clearly, the head of the team is the Sudanese general, and his own track record is in question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What the activists have been telling me about the monitoring team is that they basically think that this is a total show by the Arab League. If the Arab League would want to do really some pressure and steps against the regime, they would not need this monitor team, especially not a team which is guided by somebody which is not really the most convincing people for the activists.

COOPER: Thank you for what you have done. Thank you for your footage.



COOPER: Joining us now is Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover institution.

When you see people being just shot in the streets, trying to toss bread across from one to another, there's no justification for what the government of Syria is doing there.

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, I think you have to understand the mind of Bashar al-Assad. Just as his father maintain his reign by conquering and defeating the city of Hama 20 years ago, I think Bashar al-Assad is determined to determined to defeat the city of Homs.

He's determined and he wants to make sure there can be no Benghazi. There can be, if you will, just as Benghazi...

COOPER: No free zone.

AJAMI: Exactly, became the free zone and liberated Libya, Homs cannot liberate Syria. The demography of Homs is very complicated. It's mostly a Sunni town, but a substantial Alawi population.

COOPER: The Alawis are the ones who support the government or traditionally have supported the regime?

AJAMI: Absolutely. And there's a specific geography of this fear that you this see. The Alawi neighborhoods are spared. The Sunni neighbors are shelled. The corpses are in the Sunni neighborhood. The bread, electricity is all cut off from the Sunni neighborhood. You see the logic, the terrible logic of this regime.

COOPER: Which is basically pushing it towards civil war, towards sectarian conflict.

AJAMI: That's exactly from the playbook of Bashar al-Assad, and that's what he would love to do in fact, because if he makes it sectarian, he corners his own Alawi community and they stick by him. They have to become Basharists. They must stay with him to the bitter end. This is something that he believes he can win.

COOPER: And yet they are in this situation where clearly he cannot win, but they cannot win either. There is this -- right now this back and forth.

AJAMI: Absolutely. I think we have talked before about Syria repeatedly. And I think what it is in many ways is kind of this irresistible force meeting this immovable object.

The people can't go back, and they have crossed that back. They can't go back. They can't accept the tyranny of the Assad dynasty. And anyway, they are marked. All of the activists are known to the Syrian intelligence people. They will go and pick them one at a time, so I think it is too late, if you will, for the opposition. They must win. It's too late for the regime, because guess what the regime is looking at?

Bashar al-Assad is looking at -- he sees possibly what happened to Gadhafi as a prelude, as a kind of cautionary tale of what could happen to him.

COOPER: I think that's a really important point. It is beyond the point of return for the people who have protested thus far.


COOPER: There is no going back for them because if the world, not that the world is really paying attention, but to the extent it is, if that attention stops, if the protests stop, then security forces come in the night and just take you away and kill you.

AJAMI: Well, I think you have got it. And what's interesting about it, there was a kind of placard carried by some women in Homs that said, all doors are closed except your doors or God. There's only God left for them, because again, they look at Libya and see Libya was rescued by NATO, and they look at their own situation, 10 months into this terrible fight, no one has come to the rescue.

The Arab League is a joke. The Arab League had always been a joke. The Arab League did one decent thing on Libya, and all it did was to single out Gadhafi, to finger him for the international community. Now the Arab League sends its compromise mission, but we see what we see.

COOPER: There are 60 observers for a country, a ridiculously small number, led by a man who is linked to the regime in Sudan.


COOPER: If you wrote it as a play, it would be laughable, but it is real.

AJAMI: Exactly, 60 observers for a country of 23 million people led by somebody who must be reckoned to be the godfather of the dreaded janjaweed in the Sudan. You send someone to Syria with this kind of compromised moral credit, but look at the Arab world, no one really wanted this assignment. You can't send the Lebanese, they don't want it. You can't send a Jordanian because they border Syria. You can't send an Iraqi. The Syrians will not accept anyone from the Gulf. The Egyptians do not want to do it. So guess what? You stick the Sudanese with it. It's a terrible mission, and I think the international community that's hiding behind the Arab League if you will has to face at some point what is to be done about Syria.

COOPER: So that's the thing, though, is there any answer to it? Because if it goes to the U.N., there's Russia and China, which could very easily veto anything.

AJAMI: Exactly.

And here's when basically the Arab League says to the Syrians, look, if you don't behave, if you don't grant us access, if you stop killing your people, we are going to internationalize the conflict. We're going to refer it to the Security Council.

And Bashar al-Assad said, welcome. At the Security Council, he has Russia and China. Not only that. The last time Security Council discussed Syria, he not only had Russia and China. He had India, and Brazil, and South Africa, to their eternal shame, on his side.

COOPER: Fouad, thanks for being on. Appreciate it.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+, add us to your circles. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I'm tweeting tonight.

Coming up, a stunning development less than a week before the Iowa caucuses, new polling showing Mitt Romney still holding in the lead but support for Newt Gingrich dropping significantly. We will hear from Romney, and talk about what's behind Gingrich's drop.

Also ahead, amazing pictures out of North Korea. Have you seen these pictures today? The elaborate funeral for Kim Jong Il. Mourners filling the streets of Pyongyang. Whether real or not, the cries -- you see them there -- just incredible to look at. We will have all the most important moments coming up.

We will be right back.


COOPER: In "Raw Politics" tonight, just six days before the Iowa caucuses, new polling shows support for Newt Gingrich is dropping significantly and surging for Rick Santorum.

The latest CNN/"TIME"/ORC poll released late this afternoon show Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are the front-runners among likely GOP caucus participants in Iowa. Romney has a slight lead over Paul. The next two spots though are the big story. Santorum is in third with 16 percent, up 11 points from the beginning of December. Gingrich is at 14 percent, down 19 points from the beginning of the month.

In just a moment, I will talk with our political panel about whether all the negative ads against Gingrich from rival campaigns are behind the plunge.

But first here is what front-runner Mitt Romney had to say today to Wolf Blitzer on "THE SITUATION ROOM."


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're going to get in a campaign like this, you've got to have broad shoulders.

And if you can't take on the negative that's part of a primary, you're sure as heck not going to be ready for what's going to come from Barack Obama. If you can't handle the heat in this kitchen, wait until Barack Obama's Hell's Kitchen.


COOPER: Joining me now from Des Moines, Iowa, chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," also in Washington, Republican strategist Rich Galen and CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen.

Candy, one of the most interesting numbers about this CNN/"TIME"/ORC survey wasn't the horse race, it was the response to the question -- we asked the voters, who has the best chance of beating Obama? In Iowa, Romney was far and away the top pick. And in New Hampshire, he had more support on this question than all of the others in the race combined.


Listen, in so many ways, can he beat President Obama is the question. That, to me, is the most significant part of the poll because you can love somebody because they say exactly what you think -- what you believe. You can love someone because they like their personal story. But in the end, what a Republican wants is someone who can throw President Obama out of the White House. So, electability is huge.

It's what Mitt Romney has been pushing saying look, you have got to have someone who can stand up to President Obama and can actually beat him. In the end when they go in to the poll, whether it's a straw poll or a caucus or a primary in New Hampshire, what Republicans want is someone who can beat Obama. And so I think we're definitely talking about a winner kind of number for Mitt Romney.

COOPER: Hilary, do you think Republican voters are finally rallying around Romney? Maybe they're not in love with him, but maybe it's a marriage of convenience?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, this campaign has been so fascinating because, clearly, Democrats, we have always thought that we're going to end up with the president running against Mitt Romney.

But yet it was in the early months of the fall where Mitt Romney's vulnerabilities were really obvious, you know, the fact that he is a flip-flopper, that he has no job creation record, that he has consistently been inconsistent and...



ROSEN: Wait. Give me this, Rich.

What happened was, Republicans then saw those weaknesses and started looking elsewhere. And the rest of the field isn't that attractive, either. And you saw the Gingrich surge. He was a lot angrier about the president and so he had his surge for a moment.

But I think when push comes to shove, from their perspective, Romney's run a pretty good primary campaign to date. And all of those other candidates have their own flaws. And Iowa may just be more reflective of the Republican primary problems than it is their solutions.


COOPER: Rich, I will let you respond to what Hilary said.

GALEN: Well, I talked to two campaigns in Iowa today. Candy's out there, so she's probably heard the same things.

But they say that the Santorum surge is a real surge, and that Ron Paul's campaign is going to is probably tomorrow going to turn its big guns, not only advertising, but people in stops where he is, the social media that the Paul people are so good at, they're going to turn that entire operation against Rick Santorum and try to protect at least their second-place finish in Iowa, if not pivot back and try to try to top Romney.

But they're absolutely convinced that -- these other two campaigns, that Santorum is peaking at exactly the right time, not that he can win, but that he can really kind of surprise everybody.


COOPER: And, Rich, why do you think it is that he has done so well just in the last couple weeks?


GALEN: To this extent I agree with Hilary, that he's the last one standing whose tires haven't been kicked by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. They went through everybody else.

ROSEN: Well, the other issue, reason why Santorum is surging, obviously, is that the evangelical vote which is 60 percent historically of the Republican primarily -- remember, pushed Mike Huckabee to a win in 2008 -- they're coalescing around Rick Santorum.

And there aren't that many states where the evangelical wing of the Republicans are that dominant. But if Santorum does well in Iowa, you know, he can also move. He's not going to do that well in New Hampshire but South Carolina is another early state where the evangelical vote is pretty strong. So, you know...


ROSEN: ... there ends up being again anybody but Mitt and then who coalesces around Mitt as the strongest candidate.

GALEN: Yes, I think South Carolina's going to be the two-man death match between Santorum and Gingrich, loser goes home.

But when you get past that, Hilary and Candy, you still have to go to Florida a week later, a $2-million-a-week state. Who else has got the money and the resources and the infrastructure to do all of that within 28 days starting next Tuesday?

COOPER: Candy, are expectations now, I mean, for Romney, that if he places anywhere but first, that that would be seen as a defeat?

CROWLEY: I think it depends on -- I don't think he can place any place but second and not have it be negative for him.

But I think he could place a strong second to someone like Ron Paul, simply because most Republicans, even though this makes the Ron Paul people very upset, most Republicans...

COOPER: You are going to get e-mails.

CROWLEY: ... don't see Ron Paul as someone what -- yes, I know -- as someone who will win the nomination.

But he is someone who can stay the course. He will stay in this forever, until the end, until it's over. But placing second to Ron Paul in Iowa for Mitt Romney would be OK. They could use that as traction moving in to New Hampshire. What Mitt Romney can't do is lose to Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich. That's a problem.

COOPER: We have got to leave it there.

Candy Crowley, thank you. Rich Galen, Hilary Rosen, thanks.

As we said, the Iowa caucuses less than a week away. We will have results and analysis right on CNN of course that night. Our coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. That's next Tuesday, January 3.

Just ahead, in North Korea, a fascinating day, carefully staged farewell to Kim Jong Il, thousands of wailing mourners lining the streets of the capital. We're going to take a look at the very public outpouring of grief and also what's next for the country. We will show the most remarkable images from this day.

Plus, what price bullying? A reporter sues the Massachusetts town where Phoebe Prince committed suicide for details of a settlement with her parents -- details ahead.


COOPER: At Kim Jong-Il's funeral, a rare glimpse into the world's most closed society. But was all that wailing and weeping genuine or are they crocodile tears in the crowd? We'll take a closer look.

First, Susan Hendricks has a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Susan.


The trial of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resumed today after a month-long break only to be adjourned until Monday. The ailing 83- year-old arrived at court by ambulance and was brought in on a stretcher. Today, families of slain protesters asked to have the head judge disqualified but were denied. Mubarak is pleading not guilty to charges he ordered the killing of protesters back in February.

Mexican police say they have captured El Guero, a top drug trafficker. This is huge. Authorities say 39-year-old Luis Rodriguez Olivera was arrested at Mexico City's airport on Tuesday. The U.S. offered a $5 million reward for his capture.

The town of South Hadley, Massachusetts, paid the parents of a bullying victim nearly a quarter million dollars after their daughter committed suicide. You'll remember this sad story. Fifteen-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself last year. A reporter for "Slate" sued and just received access to details of that settlement.

In business news, last-minute shopping caused a surge in holiday sales according to industry analysts. Mall shoppers spent about $44 billion during the week before Christmas, up almost 15 percent from last year. Maybe you can tell from all the video we've been showing.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Susan, thanks.

Tonight, another look at the other major stories of the year that's coming up to a close. This Saturday, New Year's Eve, at 8 and 10 p.m. Eastern, we're going to bring you all the best, all the worst of 2011. Tom Foreman previews the impact of pop culture.



TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The final "Harry Potter" film exploded into theaters.




FOREMAN: Conjuring up more than $380 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was kind of sweet. It was a nice movie.

FOREMAN: Putting an exclamation point on one of the most successful literary and cinematic series of all time.

COOPER: You know, it's always nice to see a movie where you want to eat a lot of popcorn and drink soda, and just kind of lose yourself in it, and that was definitely one of those films.

CARSON KRESSLEY, STYLIST: I have no idea what's going on from the beginning to end. It's Mr. Whosiwitz and Mrs. Brumblehauer, and they have their kerwizen (ph). And, like, they're riding on their turducken. And I just -- I need a guidebook.

Great movies this year? Trying to think what my choices are.

DUFF GOLDMAN, BAKER/REALITY TV STAR: My three favorite movies are going to tell you a lot about me. No. 3, "Kung Fu Panda 2." No. 2, "Winnie the Pooh."


GOLDMAN: And No. 1, "Puss in Boots."


GOLDMAN: Worst movie of the year for me, "Hangover 2."


GOLDMAN: It was the same movie!

BRADLEY COOPER, ACTOR: You're going to freak out, but it's going to be OK.

GOLDMAN: How -- OK, how are you going to make the same movie twice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check your pockets. I might be close.

GOLDMAN: Come on!

B. COOPER: You're going to freak out, but it's going to be OK.

GOLDMAN: You know? I mean, come up with a new plot. It was even -- it was still at a wedding!


COOPER: That's just a preview of the special. All of the best, all the worst of 2011. Again, that airs Saturday, New Year's Eve at 8 and then 10 p.m. Eastern. And then you know what happens after that. We're going to ring in the new year, me and Kathy Griffin live from Times Square. I don't know why they did it again this year, but they did. They hired her again. Party starts 11 p.m. Eastern New Year's Eve here on CNN. I hope she doesn't get me fired.

Up next, a more serious note, we turn to the funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. The video is really just amazing. Grief on a level outsiders may find hard to understand. We'll look behind the tears, find out what may lie ahead for North Korea now that its, quote unquote, "Dear Leader" is gone.

And later new details about the horrific Christmas morning fire at a Connecticut home that took five lives. Autopsy results paint a much clearer picture of what really happened.


COOPER: A cult-like devotion on display for a dictator who ruled with an iron fist, all of it intended for worldwide consumption. Up close, the funeral of North Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il. It was a well-choreographed production, to be sure. In a moment, we're going to talk about what happens to North Korea now. But first, here's a look at a spectacle we rarely get to see.



A. COOPER (voice-over): The weeping voice of a North Korean state news anchor announcing the start of Kim Jong-Il's funeral procession. It's a national and required day of mourning for the leader whose death came as a surprise to most of the world, leaving the future of this secretive society unclear.

The weeping of North Koreans as they watched the procession was showcased throughout the broadcast. The wailing is heard constantly in the background. Whether the grief is real or forced is unknown.

At the head of the funeral coach walks the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, already titled the Great Successor, his hand resting on the car that holds his father's body, a clear symbol of his inherited leadership.

He is Kim Jong-Il's youngest son. His two older brothers are notably not visible during the funeral.


COOPER: The funeral broadcast is also a propaganda tool. The state anchor tells us that even the snowfall is a sign of grief. Tears from heaven for Kim Jong-Il.


COOPER: "The general, our general," the announcer weeps, "where have you gone?"


COOPER: This woman echoes the announcer, saying, "General, you can't go, you can't go."

As the procession reaches the city's central Kim Il-Song Square, the wailing crowd is worked up into a frenzy. And the message of grief for the Dear Leader is turned into a message of support for his son, who's surrounded by military advisers, including his uncle, the vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, believed to be the power behind the scenes.


COOPER: "The world will witness our march forward," the anchor says. "We will defend Kim Jong-Un with our lives."

Thousands of soldiers stand in the square, motionless, in perfect formation, a symbol of the collective, their heads bowed in a sign of respect. For a dictator that kept such tight control of his country through his army, his carefully-choreographed funeral is also a show of military strength, sending the world a message, true or not, that the nation is united behind the new regime.


COOPER: So fascinating to watch. Let's dig deeper now into North Korea. I'm joins by Barbara Demick, a bureau -- Beijing bureau chief for "Los Angeles Times," also author of the book, "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea." Also joined by John Park, a research fellow at Harvard University. He also directs northeast Asia projects at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Barbara, when you see that outpouring of emotion, is it real? I mean, what -- yes, is it real?

BARBARA DEMICK, BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Only in part. You know, it's funny. I've talked to many people who were at Kim Il-Song's funeral in 1994, and what they describe is a situation where you just get swept away by the crowd, like if you're around people coughing, you cough. And you're around people crying, you cry.

Many people, including people who were on camera, have told me how they were required to fake it, or they thought their political loyalty would be questioned and their whole family would be downgraded in social status. So I think that sometimes the people themselves don't know if they're crying for real.

COOPER: And John, why did the line of succession go to Kim Jong- Il's youngest son?

JOHN PARK, RESEARCH FELLOW, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, the speculation, Anderson, is that if you look at the eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, there was an episode where he tried to sneak into Japan to go to Tokyo Disneyland. And that is credited as the main reason why he perhaps is not fit for succession. COOPER: Wait, wait, wait. Sorry. He tried to sneak -- he tried to sneak into Japan to go to Tokyo Disney World?

PARK: That's correct. And it was a huge embarrassment for North Korea, and he was promptly deported. But this is something that is part of the North Korean lore now. He is now more or less living in exile in Macao, and there's reports out of China that he's under a considerable amount of protection.

The second son, Kim Jong-chul, the Japanese sushi chef who lived with Kim Jong-Il, personal chef many years, noted that Kim Jong-Il viewed his second son as not really the material for a strong man.

The third son, I think the biggest claim to fame for him is that he remarkably looks like his grandfather, Kim Il-Song. An important part of the propaganda and the transition to the third generation.

COOPER: So does he have the support of the military which he is now head of?

PARK: Well, I think one thing you have to remember is that this process is on-going, even in the death of Kim Jong-Il. And with that, the military is a critical part, because Kim Jong-Il consolidated his power around the country through the military after the death of his father in 1994.

But the key thing about the North Korean military and the whole emphasis of the military and the new leadership structure, is that the North Korean economy is a militarized economy. So Kim Jong-Un, as a four-star general and senior military figure, he will have to be groomed to run some of these very important military-linked state trading companies, very important revenue generator for the regime and for a future Kim Jong-Un regime.

COOPER: And Barbara, his uncle is often described as kind of the real power.

DEMICK: That's right. Chang Sung-taek, who's 65, an appropriate age for leadership in Korea, is married to Kim Jong-Il's younger sister, Kim Kyong-Hui, who was really the closest family member to Kim Jong-Il. And they have been power brokers behind the scenes for a long time.

Chang Sung-taek has a large family. He's had brothers and sons very involved in the military. And I think there was somewhat of a deal made where Kim Jong-Un would become perhaps the figurehead, giving a considerable amount of power to Chang Sung-taek. It's a bit Shakespearean, but that's how the type of deal works.

COOPER: And Barbara, how does this funeral compare to the funeral of his father?

DEMICK: You know, it's funny. The North Koreans are not that creative. It's almost the same. His father died in the summer, so there was no snow, but the procession, the cars, the rituals of grieving today. Thursday in Asia, there's going to be a three-minute moment of silence at noon.

When they announced -- the death was announced by the same television broadcaster on North Korean television, also done at noon.

So they're following this template. They feel like it worked last time, so maybe it will work again.

COOPER: John, what are the biggest questions you would like to know the answers to? There's so much we don't know about the inner workings of this regime.

PARK: I think, Anderson, there's a lot of speculation in reading the tea leaves right now. But there's one fundamental question that, I think, is very objective. Is will Kim Jong-Un and his collective leadership be able to make money on a recurring basis? And running the web of state trading companies which effectively make up North Korea Incorporated. Kim Jong-Il was reported to run this system quite well, quite effectively.

So the question going forward, irrespective of being the third son of Kim Jong-Il, will Kim Jong-Un learn from his uncle, Chang Sung- taek, a known rainmaker, with the running and the profitable operation of the state trading companies?

COOPER: And what is it that's making them money?

PARK: A key part of it, and this is a new reality of North Korea, is that all of these North Korean state trading companies have very important Chinese partners, and the commercial deals and the transactional nature of these relationships, it isn't one of resurgence of an alliance or any type of preferential treatment. It's really each side going out and trying to make a buck.

But now the partnerships between these state trading companies on the North Korean side, private Chinese companies on the Chinese side, is growing rapidly in the border region, and specifically in the North Korean mining industry. That is a key area that has been neglected and underdeveloped for many years.

But already, we're seeing reports of increasing of coal exports from North Korea to China. So the evidence is there.

COOPER: Barbara, what question would you like most answered?

DEMICK: Are you going to be the next -- are you going to be the Deng Xiaoping of North Korea? I think there's a lot of expectations that he will, when he comes into his own, that he's going to open up the country.

They -- the Chinese certainly know, the North Koreans know that the country cannot be sustained at this level of poverty, deprivation, and hunger. In North Korea, it's so extraordinary. It's in the middle of the greatest economic miracle of the world next to China and South Korea and Japan, and somebody has to move things. And the question is, is Kim Jong-Un going to be it?

COOPER: Interesting. Barbara Demick, appreciate it. John Park, as well. Thanks.

Coming up, new information about the tragic Christmas day fire at a Connecticut home that left three young girls and their grandparents dead. The autopsy results which give, really, new clues about exactly what happened.


HENDRICKS: Hi, there. I'm Susan Hendricks with a "360 Bulletin."

We have new information in that horrific Christmas day house fire in Connecticut that killed three young girls and their grandparents. The girls, ages 10, and 7-year-old twins, died in that fire.

The medical examiner's office says the grandfather, seen here dressed as Santa with his grandchildren, died from blunt-force head and neck trauma and smoke inhalation. He reportedly fell out through the roof outside of a window while trying to save his granddaughter. All three grandchildren and their grandmother died of smoke inhalation.

A federal judge has ordered the government to pay more than $17 million to a family that lost four members when a Marine jet crashed into their home in San Diego. The family did ask for $56 million. That is the aftermath. Don Yoon lost his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law in the 2008 crash.

And a warning for you: Build-a-Bear Workshop is recalling nearly 300,000 teddy bears sold in the U.S. and Canada. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the colorful hearts teddy bears' eyes could fall out, causing a choking risk. No injuries, though, have been reported.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Coming up, your choice for No. 3 on our top ten "RidicuLists" countdown. Last night No. 4 was romance haters who doubted the relationship of Doug Hutchinson and Courtney Stodden. Well, tonight No. 3 on the list, which was voted by you, of the best "RidicuLists" is the first time the names Doug Hutchinson and Courtney Stodden ever crossed my list. That's right. They make up No. 3 and four of the top ten "RidicuLists." Ah, the memories. That's next.


COOPER: All right. You voted for it. Here is the No. 3, of the top ten "RidicuLists" of the year. And it's the first time we ever met Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchinson. Take a look.


COOPER: Tonight we're adding those heartless folks who are criticizing the love between this actor and his new bride. I'm talking about a guy named Doug Hutchinson. Apparently, he was in the movie "The Green Mile" and had some small roles on "Lost" and "The X Files."

Now, I'm not familiar with his work, really, at all. But here's what I do know. He's 51 years old. And a few weeks ago in Las Vegas he married a 16-year-old girl.

Now, a lot of people are making a bunch of noise about how the girl, Courtney Stodden, is a minor and how there's a 35-year age -- 35-year age difference between them. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I don't see what the big deal is. The wedding was on May 20, according to my calendar. That was a Friday. So she probably only had to miss one day of high school. Now, what was she going to miss in 11th grade, anyway? Algebra? Who ever uses that?

But it did get me thinking: who is this young lady who found true love with a character actor in his early 50s? Luckily, like a lot of 16-year-olds, she has a YouTube channel where she posts videos, probably talks about her homework and getting her driver's license and Justin Bieber and stuff. Let's take a look.



CRYSTAL STODDARD, MARRIED TO DOUG HUTCHINSON (singing): When I'm a walking, talking, when I walk by it's not my thoughts you can't control.


COOPER: Oh, goodness. Well, I'm sure there's more to her than just that.


STODDARD (singing): Don't put it on me, girl. Don't put it on me, girl, no. Don't put it on me, girl. D-d-d-d-d-don't.


COOPER: Well now, a lot of people are suggesting that someone should have told Courtney d-d-d-d-don't marry that guy. He's too old for you. You have your driver's test coming up. Someone, you know, like her parents, maybe.

But guess what, romance haters? Her parents gave their permission. They're not those uptight parents who don't let their teenage daughter stay up past 11, or make music videos on boats, or marry someone three times her age. They're cool parents.

Her mom told Radar Online they're, quote, "totally supportive of this marriage." And her dad said his new son-in-law, who's four years older than he is, is, quote, "the nicest man I've ever met in my life." So cool.

But they also have instilled morals in their daughter. Here's another one of her YouTube videos. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STODDARD: I have never done pornography. I never will. About myself, I am a Christian girl. I hold my faith very tightly.


COOPER: Believe me. You learn how to hold things very tightly when you go to the beach wearing nothing but the American flag.

I like that at age 16 she makes it a point of pride that she's never done pornography. That's like basically saying "I'm about to do pornography," or "Inevitably, I will do pornography, but I haven't done it yet."

I wonder if her parents booked her for that photo shoot. They are so cool.


STODDARD: I'm a virgin, and I plan to stay that way until I am married.


COOPER: OK. A little bit of an over share. But I'll say this about Courtney. She likes to keep it real.


STODDARD: My breasts are real. Everything about me is real. My hair is real, my teeth are real, my eyelashes are real, my breasts are totally real. You know, believe it or not but they are.


COOPER: Did she mention that her breasts are real? I think she mentioned twice. You know what else is real? Their love is real.

Courtney, I wish you nothing but the best in your singing career and your marriage. But if it doesn't work out, someone's recently back on the market.


COOPER: And to all you haters, remember, age is only a number. Fifty-one, just a number. Sixteen, just a much, much, much smaller number. Ain't love grand?

So to all you doubters and haters, don't be too hard on these love birds, at least not until the divorce or the inevitable reality show about the divorce comes out. Until then, all of you are on "The RidicuList."


COOPER: No. 2 on our countdown tomorrow. That does it for us. Thanks for watching.