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E. Coli Outbreak; Space Shuttle Atlantis Returns Home; Katrina Indictments
Aired September 21, 2006 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The E. coli outbreak is growing, more people sick in more states today. And this morning, investigators say they may have found the smoking spinach.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: I'm Daniel Sieberg at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A picture-perfect landing for shuttle Atlantis here. Coming up, I'll tell you what's next for the astronauts and for NASA.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A mix-up at an Indianapolis hospital leading to the heartbreaking deaths of several premature babies. More may still be in danger.
All-terrain vehicles, they sure can be fun, but they also can be lethal. What you need to know to keep your kids safe.
S. O'BRIEN: And they call him the kid mayor...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just ask people to wait and see, give me that chance, give me that opportunity, and all those questions about my age will be answered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: ... he's been in the thrust of the limelight. Now he's got to prove he can do the job.
Those stories and much more ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you. I'm Miles O'Brien.
S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.
Let's get to those new developments in that E. coli outbreak.
There are new cases being reported in Arizona and Colorado today. That brings the total to 23 states that have been affected. A so- called smoking gun has now been found in New Mexico, an open bag of spinach found in the refrigerators of one of the victims. Apparently, it had E. coli on it. FDA investigators are focusing on nine California farms, looking for signs of past flooding or evidence of crops coming into contact with contaminated surface waters.
California produces 74 percent of the nation's spinach crop. And as CNN's Ted Rowlands reports for us, that could make it a prime target for agroterrorists.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Long before it ends up neatly packaged in a store, most fresh food is exposed to potential contamination, both accidental and, even more frightening, intentional.
JEFF NELKEN, FOOD SAFETY ANALYST: So lots of opportunities for contamination to take place.
ROWLANDS: Jeff Nelken is a food safety analyst. He took us at a central California field to show us just how vulnerable the nation's food supply is to so called agroterrorism, starting with the relatively easy public access to crops.
NELKEN: You can pretty much look down the highway here and there really isn't any security.
ROWLANDS: One way exposed crops, according to Nelken, are vulnerable to contamination, is through tainted irrigation systems. We found this irrigation pump alongside a public road with only a padlock and chain around one of the valves.
NELKEN: I would say you can't get any more accessible, because you see the water right here.
ROWLANDS: Each field has its own irrigation system which makes mass tampering unlikely. Still, as we've seen with the E. coli contaminated spinach, a small number of food poisoning cases can have a huge effect
NELKEN: I just would like it to be better secures. I don't know if I just trust the lock and chain.
ROWLANDS: While security is visible at most processing plants, it's almost nonexistent in the fields. Nelken, who believes preventing agroterrorism should be a high priority, even thinks that security cameras should watch over unattended crops.
NELKEN: I guess we're on the honesty system. And, you know, the question is, how long do we go on the honesty system?
ROWLANDS: Joe Pezzini is vice president of Ocean Mist Farms in Castroville, California. He says farmers' only real defense now is from workers
JOE PEZZINI, OCEAN MIST FARMS: Our employees are our eyes and ears out there in the field. And it's a matter of knowing who your employees are, where they're supposed to be, and having them be able to tell you if something is unusual or somebody's out of place.
ROWLANDS: Agroterrorism has been identified as a real threat by the U.S. government. Last year at an agroterrorism conference in Kansas City, FBI Director Robert Mueller said, "We know that members of al Qaeda have studied our agriculture industry." The FDA and USDA are working with crop-producing states to find and fix vulnerable areas, but by all accounts there's still a long way to go.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, San Juan Bautista, California.
S. O'BRIEN: A third company, RLB Food distributors in New Jersey, is now recalling its spinach products here in the eastern U.S. Those brand names are Balducci's and FreshPro.
And health officials continue to recommend that you just don't eat fresh spinach. If you have any questions, go to cdc.gov or just call them at 1-800-311-3435 -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Twelve days and nearly five million miles later, the space shuttle Atlantis is home, safe and sound in Florida. The crew of six savoring a successful trip to the space station, installing a piece of truss with some huge solar panels.
There you see the crew as they walked off the vehicle which took them from the space shuttle and shook hands with the NASA administrator.
CNN's Daniel Sieberg live at the Kennedy Space Center with the latest -- Daniel.
SIEBERG: Yes. Good morning, Miles.
You can see a live shot of shuttle Atlantis just over my left shoulder. It's continuing to be serviced there.
A picture-perfect landing this morning in the predawn hours. We can probably pull up the video now of the heads-up display. This is what commander Brent Jett was seeing as he made his final approach into runway 33 here at Kennedy Space Center.
You can see there he's coming in the dark hours here. It was 6:41 a.m. Eastern Time as they touched down. Very happy with the way the landing went overall. They brought it to a stop not too far from here, about 10,000 feet down that 15,000-foot-long runway here, making that southeast approach.
So, in terms of the landing itself, they were cleared yesterday after they had spotted some mysterious debris near the shuttle, but they were not concerned about that protective heat shield being pierced. They were fine with that after doing a thorough inspection.
The mission, overall, a big success, rendezvous with the International Space Station. And those solar arrays or solar panels were unfurled. Three spacewalks up there to complete everything they had to do.
Those will eventually double the power up there at the International Space Station. And the key to them is that they will actually be tracking the sun as the space station makes its orbit around the Earth once every 90 minutes. They will rotate and follow the sun in order to get more efficient collection of that solar power, that solar energy that's so necessary up there on the International Space Station.
So, nearly five million miles, just shy of 12 days coming to a close here. The astronauts spent some time on the ground meeting those dignitaries and VIPs, the NASA officials here. And a short time ago they departed in the silver Astrovan, and meeting -- getting some time with their families here on the ground, Miles. And we might even hear from them in the next couple hours or so.
M. O'BRIEN: Daniel Sieberg at the Kennedy Space Center.
Thank you very much -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Happening "In America" this morning, police in Colorado made an arrest in that dragging death of a woman. Still no word, though, on her identity. The woman's body was horribly disfigured. An autopsy shows that she was alive when the dragging began.
Thirty-year-old Jose Luis Rubi-Nava is an illegal immigrant. He is facing now a first-degree murder charge.
In Rhode Island, outrage after a plea deal for the owners of that nightclub where 100 people died in a fire -- it happened three years ago. The owners of the club called The Station, brothers Jeff and Michael Derderian, pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter. It's going to happen today.
Michael Derderian is expected to spend four years in prison. Jeff Derderian is going to get three years probation and community service. And families of the victims say that punishment way too light.
In California, prosecutors red in the face after they've lost a key piece of evidence in the child porn case against John Mark Karr. You'll remember he was at one time a suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office can't find the computer containing photography that they seized from Karr's home back in 2001. Now, investigators say they've got a copy of the hard drive, and prosecutors have offered Karr a plea deal that would place him on probation for three years and make him register as a sex offender.
In Pittsburgh, a second man has been charged with the shooting of five Duquesne basketball players over the weekend. Eighteen-year-old William Holmes turned himself in yesterday. He faces attempted homicide charges and some other charges as well.
The shootings occurred after an argument over a coed. The girl has been suspended from school. She's going to face charges as well.
Two of the victims remain in the hospital this morning. In Texas, near the Mexican border, a massive manhunt under way for six escaped prisoners. A former cop facing drug charges and five members of a violent drug gang escaped from the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa. They overpowered a guard a the privately-run facility and then they cut through at least four fences to get out.
M. O'BRIEN: In New Orleans, a grand jury charging the owners of a nursing home for some alleged mercy killings in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Thirty-five patients died at the home in the bleak days after the storm.
CNN's Susan Roesgen live from New Orleans with more -- Susan.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Miles, you have to imagine the panic of a man whose 92-year-old mother was at St. Rita's nursing home in St. Bernard Parish in the last couple of days before the hurricane hit.
Tom Rodrigue says he kept calling and calling the nursing home, urging anyone who answered the phone to evacuate the people there, but he says he was told they were going to stay put. And in the end, his mother was one of the 35 people who died there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RODRIGUE, MOTHER DIED AT ST. RITA'S: She may not have been able to survive the ordeal at her age even if she would have evacuated, but she deserved a chance and she deserved not to drown like a rat. And that's exactly the way I look at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROESGEN: Tom Rodrigue told me last night that he remembers actually going back to that nursing home a few days after the hurricane with Soledad. And he remembers how difficult it was for him to go into his mother's room and see that there must have been nine or 10 feet of water in there.
Now, the owners, Sal and Mable Mangano, who have been charged with these 35 counts of negligent homicide, are not allowed to talk about the case. Neither are the lawyers or the prosecutors because the judge has imposed a gag order.
But the Manganos have said in the past that they just didn't realize the danger there, Miles, and they believed an evacuation would be too difficult. In fact, they are actually counter-suing federal, state and local officials, saying that those officials should have evacuated the nursing home for them -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: So, did anybody make it out alive out of that nursing home, Susan?
ROESGEN: Actually, some people did. There were staff members there and their families who got out, and there were fire department personnel who came and evacuated some of the residents. They had to float them out on their mattresses, Miles. That's how high the water was. They did get some people out, but, again, 35 people died there.
M. O'BRIEN: OK.
Susan Roesgen in New Orleans.
Thank you very much.
In Indianapolis, a third premature baby is dead after an accidental overdose of blood thinners. Six babies in intensive care at Methodist Hospital there given an adult dose of Heparin Saturday. A technician accidentally stored the adult doses in the pediatric unit.
Roger Harvey of our affiliate station WTHR with more.
ROGER HARVEY, REPORTER, WTHR (voice over): Heather Jeffers (ph) is comforted by her mother and sister as they mourn the loss of Heather's daughter, Thursday Dawn (ph). The premature baby died late Tuesday night after fighting to overcome an overdose of the blood thinner Heparin she received Saturday at Methodist Hospital.
Joanna Pruitt was at the hospital as her granddaughter took her last breath
JOANNA PRUITT, GRANDDAUGHTER DIED: They killed my grandbaby. You know? I will never forget it. And I pray to god no one has to go through this, no one, because it's hard. You know, just sit there and watch my granddaughter die.
HARVEY: Pruitt says Thursday Dawn's (ph) health improved since her premature birth last Thursday, but the overdose of Heparin she received Saturday proved to be fatal.
PRUITT: We trusted nurses and doctors to take care of this baby, and there was nothing wrong with her. She was healthy. She was only premature, seven weeks early. That was it.
PRUITT: Thursday Dawn (ph) is the third death connected to the Heparin overdose at Methodist Hospital. Henry Miller (ph) and Demaya Alexander (ph) died Saturday night. Three families are now preparing for funerals and wondering why this happened to their loved ones.
M. O'BRIEN: Roger Harvey of our affiliate station WTHR with that.
The hospital is offering restitution and counseling to all six families. They say the other three babies are still in intensive care because they are premature, not because of the overdose of Heparin -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Oh. It's such a sad story, isn't it?
Let's take a look at the weather 12 minutes past the hour. Chad's got a look for us this morning.
Good morning. What are you looking at?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: How nice it is in the Northeast.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Chad. Thank you.
Ahead this morning, ATVs can be lots of fun. They also can be very dangerous, especially for little kids. We're going to tell you about a new safety campaign. Got a little advice if you're a parent of kids who like to around on things like that.
Plus, a new warning on the possible health risks for a popular form of birth control. Women want to listen up to what they need to know ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: All-terrain vehicles, ATVs, they sure can be a lot of fun, but they also can be very dangerous. Here's a quick look at the numbers for you.
In 2004 alone, an estimated 136,000 people in the U.S. were treated in emergency rooms for ATV-related injuries. From '82 to 2004, there were nearly 6,500 ATV-related deaths -- 6,500. And about 30 percent of all ATV deaths and injuries involve children under the age of 16.
This morning, the Consumer Products Safety Commission starting a program to try to bring some attention to this problem.
Nancy Nord is the acting chairman of the CPSC. She joins us from Washington. She's got some props there with her, some ATVs and safety devices.
Nancy, good to have you with us.
NANCY NORD, CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: Oh, I'm delighted to be here.
M. O'BRIEN: First, the reason we're seeing an increase in the number of injuries and deaths here, is it just because there's an increased popularity for these ATVs, or is there something else going on?
NORD: Well, ATVs are growing in popularity, and as more and more people ride ATVs, unfortunately, we're seeing more and more deaths and injuries. So, the CPSC wants to drive those numbers down.
M. O'BRIEN: And is it because these are inherently dangerous machines, or people are misusing them?
NORD: Well, the machines are certainly not inherently dangerous, but the machines and the riders need to work together as a system. Rider behavior is, to a large extent, going to determine how safe you ride. There are some basic rules of rider safety, and we want to make sure that all riders know what those safe rules are.
M. O'BRIEN: Why don't we go through a few of them. Let's start at the top of the list here.
One of the things you suggest is don't let children ride adult- sized ATVs. Obviously, the adult size has a little more power. Is there more to it than that, though?
NORD: Oh, there's much more to it. Adult-sized ATVs can go as fast as 60 miles an hour, they can weigh up to 700 pounds. These are not toys. Children under the age of 16 should not be riding adult- sized ATVs.
M. O'BRIEN: All right.
Helmets, I think that should go without saying, but I guess there are people who don't ride with helmets on. That's an important thing.
What other kind of protective gear do you recommend? And do you have some examples of it?
NORD: At a minimum, riders should wear helmets and goggles, but we also recommend that riders wear boots to protect their feet and legs from the debris that's kicked up, pants, chest guards, gloves. But at a minimum, helmets and goggles.
M. O'BRIEN: All right.
The next piece of advice you offer is don't ride in tandem on a single-seat ATV. I guess that doesn't require any further explanation. That doesn't seem like a good idea, does it?
NORD: Well, unfortunately, we find an awful lot of deaths and injuries occur when there are two or three riders on a single -- on an ATV that's designed for a single person.
M. O'BRIEN: Often young people, I imagine, too?
M. O'BRIEN: And another piece of advice that I wouldn't have thought of is don't ride on pavement. Now, are you telling them to just essentially, in doing so, telling them to stay away from traffic? Or is there something dangerous about riding these on pavement?
NORD: ATVs were not designed to be ridden on paved roads. It's a function of the way the tires are inflated and the way the vehicle is designed.
They're designed for -- to go on dirt, over hills, but not on paved roads. And so you've got to keep off paved roads. In addition, ATVs do not have the safety equipment that automobiles have, and when an ATV and an automobile meet, the ATV loses.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I imagine.
You're launching a Web site, atvsafety.gov, and people can go there to get further information.
Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, thanks for your time.
NORD: Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: And folks out there should ride safely. I hope they listened up -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: They surely should.
Coming up this morning, just how safe is the birth control patch? There's a new warning out on its possible risks. We'll tell you about that.
And did you know that summer 2006 was one of the hottest ever? Don't expect any relief in the years to come. Rob Marciano will tell us why.
That's later on AMERICAN MORNING.
S. O'BRIEN: In this morning's "House Call," a potential health risk for women who are using the birth control patch and not the pill.
Senior Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta joins us with a look at that.
You are talking about two studies that are completely contradictory about the safety of the patch.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sometimes this happens. And this is one of the difficult things to reconcile in medicine, because you do get studies, sometimes they're smaller, sometimes bigger, and sometimes they can give you different results.
Talking about the Ortho Evra patch. Very popular since 2002, because you put the patch on for three weeks, take it off for a week, put it back on for three weeks, you don't really have to think about it. But the FDA has been concerned some time about the increased risk of blood clots, and they have talked about this specifically.
A little bit of history, first of all.
In November 2005, they had some labeling that said the patch does have 60 percent more estrogen. They let women know about that. In March of 2006, so a few months later, there was the two studies that you are talking about. One said no difference whatsoever. The other study said twice the number of blood clots.
The way that the FDA chose to handle these very disparate studies was to say, we're not going to take it off the market, necessarily, but wire going to put a stricter label on this, warning people that there is an increased risk of blood clots, and that they, along with their doctor, should make a decision about whether that's the best form of contraception for them.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, but now you have this warning, right? And you have these two completely contradictory studies, and like a bar graph that talks about it.
I mean, how do you know when you're a patient and you want to buy this product or use this product? You say, you know, OK, tell me, Dr. Gupta, do you recommend it or not?
GUPTA: Well, there's a few things to keep in mind. First of all, one thing is that, you know, we talk about relative numbers a lot here in terms of it doubles the risk. But still, the absolute numbers are important here.
Even with the doubling of the risk, it ended up being six women out of 10,000. So the numbers are small. It's not to belittle those numbers at all, because very important for those six women, but they still are small. And that's taken into consideration as well when a doctor is having this conversation with a patient. It's a very small likelihood that you would develop a blood clot.
The other thing a doctor can say is, look, if you're a smoker or if you have other risk factors, that's going to push my decision away from allowing you to use the patch, because you are at a higher risk for blood clots already. This may push you over the edge.
So, it is added value information. Is it an absolute decision? No, but it helps.
S. O'BRIEN: If the pill works fine, if there's less estrogen in the pill, and if clearly the blood clot issue is diminished in the pill, why are people using the patch?
GUPTA: You know, I think this really just is purely out of convenience more than anything else. I mean, you know, it's been out for about four years now, four million women have used this. It's something you don't have to think about for the most part, except for twice a month, once when you put the patch on, three weeks later when you take the patch off for a week. And I think it's one of those things, if you are a woman who is using contraception, as opposed to taking a pill every single day, sometimes you forget, you may not get the prescription on time, things like that.
I think it's just purely easier.
S. O'BRIEN: All right. Well, thanks for clearing it up for us. Appreciate that.
GUPTA: Thank you, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Senior Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, he's the youngest mayor in any big city in America, but can a guy barely out of college handle the job he basically inherited?
Plus, you will meet someone who helped make a dream a reality for the world's first female space tourist. And he can send you to the moon, too, so to speak. If you have the cash.
And it's Thursday, so that means it is Miles Cam time. E-mail your questions to me at milescam @cnn.com and I will answer them on the Pipeline product, cnn.com/pipeline, 10:30 Eastern.
Stay with us.
M. O'BRIEN: Speaking of climate change, it is getting hotter at record levels.
CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano takes a look.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): September air is a welcome relief for the scorched North American landscape, but the damage is done, and the numbers are in. January through August, 2006 saw the warmest average temperatures ever recorded. And this Summer was the hottest Summer since the Dust Bowl, the years in the 1930s when the central United States was plagued by drought and dust storms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blistering heat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excessive heat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Punishing heat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweltering heat.
MARCIANO: In July an intense heat wave blistered much of the nation, breaking more than 50 all time highs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hot. It's really hot.
MARCIANO: Californians suffered the most. Out of 200 heat related deaths around the nation, 160 were in California. And if it seems like Summers have been getting warming for years now, you're right. Eight of the last ten summers have been warmer than average in the United States. But will the trend continue?
TOM KARL, NOAA: If you had to place your bets, you would place them on warmer than average temperatures and the likelihood of having record and near record summers will continue to increase.
MARCIANO: And record heat is causing record wildfires. Over eight million acres have burned in 2006, more land than Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. That's more land than has ever been burned since record keeping started. Why so hot? You may already know the answer.
KARL: We think there's very strong evidence that humans, in fact, are largely attributable. As Greenhouse Gases continue to increase, conditions like this past Summer become more frequent and more extreme.
MARCIANO (on camera): If global warming is making Summer hotter, what's happening in Winter? For a while now scientists have been concerned about the shrinking glaciers in the arctic. But they have always taken comfort in knowing that sea ice, sea water that freezes in the arctic regions during the colder months, comes back year after year. But a new NASA study shows that that sea ice is not returning like it once did.
JOSEFINO COMISO, NASA RESEARCH SCIENTIST: In the previous 25 years it was flat but in the last few years it has declined substantially. This is a very important result because it ties up with modeling predictions. We have expected the biggest signal of Greenhouse warming in the Winter period.
MARCIANO: Which means one of the last pieces to the global warming puzzle may be falling into place. And much of what climate forecasting computers said was going to happen, is starting to happen.
S. O'BRIEN: The mayor of Pittsburgh is the youngest of any major American city. So, just how young is he? AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho knows. She spent some time with the little kid mayor. I'm joking. He's not a little kid. But he is young.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is young. He's older than he seems when you actually meet him, but he's 26, Soledad, and at 26, many people are just starting their careers, not Luke Ravenstahl. At 23,he was elected to the Pittsburgh city council. At 25, he was city council president. Now at the tender age of 26, he's running city hall.
MYR. LUKE RAVENSTAHL, PITTSBURGH: Hi. Luke.
CHO (voice-over): He's not much older than these college students. But Luke Ravenstahl is the mayor of Pittsburgh. At 26, the youngest big city mayor in America.
RAVENSTAHL: Twenty-six is that number, and to me, it's just a number.
CHO: That number has vaulted Ravenstahl into the national spotlight. Last week he was in New York to see Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He also paid a visit to David Letterman.
DAVID LETTERMAN: An appearance like this, does it interfere with your homework?
RAVENSTAHL: It doesn't, and I....
LETTERMAN: I'm sorry.
RAVENSTAHL: There are times when I sit back and reflect on how fortunate I've been and how grateful I am for this opportunity.
CHO: Ravenstahl, however was not elected to office, he inherited it.
RAVENSTAHL: I, Luke Ravenstahl...
CHO: The new mayor was sworn in earlier this month, just hours after his predecessor, Bob O'Connor, died of brain cancer. As president of the city council, Ravenstahl was next in line. Bob O'Connor only spent eight months in office, but he was a popular mayor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Pittsburgh!
CHO: And Ravenstahl never forgets it, in his office, and on the streets.
RAVENSTAHL: He's a tough act to follow.
CHO: Pittsburgh, once known as the Steel City, no longer makes it. The city lost half its population, and is now home to just 300,000 people. Even though it's consistently ranked one of the country's most livable cities. Ravenstahl is trying to bring people back, by revitalizing the downtown area and relying on his more experienced staff.
RAVENSTAHL: Certainly I'm not as experienced as somebody that has been around for 15, 20, 30 years. But I'm willing to listen.
CHO: Ravenstahl's critics say he's too green to run a big city, and that his most valuable asset is his family name. His father is a district judge. His grandfather was a state representative. Ask the baby-faced mayor what he thinks, and he'll tell you the criticism rolls off his back.
RAVENSTAHL: I just ask people to wait and see. Give me that chance. Give me that opportunity. And all those questions about my age will be answered.
CHO: For now, the new mayor is taking it day by day, working on the city's budget, keeping track of appointments, and managing a much larger staff. He's so busy, he hasn't found the time to properly move into his new, much larger office.
RAVENSTAHL: When the spotlight goes away, in fact, I'll probably enjoy it.
CHO: May be a while. Now, one big question surrounding Ravenstahl right now is just how long he will serve as mayor. Some say he should face voters next year. Others say, according to the city charter, his term actually won't expire until 2009. Ravenstahl has said he will let the courts decide this. And in the interim, he says his focus, Soledad, is running the city, taking things day by day...
S. O'BRIEN: How come it's not clear? Is this not in the city charter, how it's going to work if the mayor were to be incapacitated?
CHO: Well, it says that -- in the city charter it says until 2009, that he should serve until then. But some of the voters say, listen, you weren't elected, so you should face the voters sooner than that. And why not go before the voters right away? The mayor says, you know, I'm going to keep my hands off of this, and I'm going to let the courts decide
S. O'BRIEN: So he's kind of an interesting guy. He's sort of all work and no play? He seems like he just...
CHO: Well, a little bit now, a little bit now. He's really busy. You know, he's working from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., 12 Diet Pepsis a day, that's what keeps him going. And you know, he got a $40,000 raise as a mayor. But he joked with his wife, he actually took a pay cut because of all the hours he's working.
S. O'BRIEN: He's making $3 an hour pretty much now.
CHO: That's right.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Alina, thanks -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Anderson Cooper has a look at what's coming up on his program tonight -- Anderson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Miles, tonight, remember him? He was supposed to get out of jail and save his son's life, donate a kidney. Instead, he went on the lam. What happened to dad? What about the son? New developments tonight, "360," 10:00 p.m. Eastern -- Miles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: All right, thank you, Anderson.
Coming up, the world's first female space tourist. She's having the time of her life aboard the space station. You could, too, if you have $20 million to spare. We'll meet the man who can put that together for you, ahead.
And don't forget, Miles-cam day. E-mail your questions to milescam@CNN.com. The answers, 10:30 Eastern on CNN.com/pipeline. Stay with us.
M. O'BRIEN: There is another high-flying, deep pocketed tourist in state as we speak. Iranian-American telecom entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari is at the International Space Station for a week-long visit. In the wee hours of this morning, I spoke with her as she orbited the Earth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANOUSHEH ANSARI, 1ST FEMALE SPACE TOURIST: The food is great. It's American menu, and there's Russian menu. And watching the way it goes and basically taking pictures and video.
It's very unique smell, actually, when they open the hatch. They told me, take a good whiff because this is only time you get to smell space.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: Anousheh Ansari is the fourth space tourist, or participant, if you prefer.
The man who helped get her there and who has been in the middle of the other three space tourism deals is Eric Anderson. He is president of Space Adventures. He joins us from Washington.
Eric, good to have you with us.
ERIC ANDERSON, PRESIDENT, SPACE ADVENTURES: Good morning, Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: It sounds like Anousheh is having a good time up there.
ANDERSON: She is, Miles. She's having a great time.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, it's tourist number four. This all began in April of 2001 with Dennis Tito, who originally was going to fly to the Russian Space Station Mir, ended up at the International Space Station. After five years, do you wish you had had more customers.
ANDERSON: Well, I wish we had had you, Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, well...
ANDERSON: We're still waiting for you to go up there.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, you know, we can -- if somebody wants to pony up. Maybe we should take up a collection. But in serious -- seriously, have you found that it's difficult? I mean, $20 million, after all. It's a pretty rarefied market, isn't it?
ANDERSON: It is, but, you know, as Space Adventures has access to these Soyuz vehicles only once or twice a year, the opportunities are pretty limited. So, given the opportunities we've had, we have definitely found more customers than opportunity. And over the next, say, five years, you know, we hope to have several people per year going up. The Soyuz is going to be the only way to get to orbit for some time, still.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, so you feel like there will be more Soyuz seats available. Is that price ever going to go down?
ANDERSON: You know, Miles, the price is actually going up. It's basically the same rocket that was built, you know, five -- as you mentioned, six years ago. And the cost of manufacturing and labor and everything else is going up. The only time when the price is going to drop, maybe a decade or two in the future, is when we're really having fully reusable systems that aren't thrown away after every flight.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk about some of the other ideas that are out there. You're in the midst of some thoughts on, for example, short suborbital flights which would be a fraction of the cost, but still a steep ticket. Tell us about that and how many people out there might be interested in those kinds of flight.
ANDERSON: So -- I'm glad you asked. Suborbital flights, of course, are flights that don't go into orbit, but actually go up into space, over 100 kilometers altitude. But you are only floating weightless for, say, five minutes. So instead of ten days in space like Anousheh, you go up, come down, see the Earth quickly and spend a couple minutes in weightlessness.
So these are going to be available for between $100,000 and $200,000 on one of several different new vehicles being developed. The reason they can be so much less expensive, of course, is that it's a lot technically easier to build suborbital vehicles than it is to go to orbit.
M. O'BRIEN: Do you think there's a pretty big market for people who have $100,000 or $200,000 to spend on something like that for a relatively short ride?
ANDERSON: Well, I can tell you that we've already sold a couple hundred of the flights. We have future reservations for those flights. And we still haven't, you know, pulled the curtain back on our vehicle, and nor has any other potential provider of vehicle services. And so we think -- the market studies have shown that it's, in fact, a multi-hundred million dollar per year business.
And we want to get started, because we think the more people that do it and the more people like Anousheh who come back and talk about their space adventure on earth, the more people will who want to go in the future.
M. O'BRIEN: Then, of course, the big enchilada, the down the road, so to speak, is to the moon, Alice. What about that? Is that a realistic notion, sending tourists to the moon?
ANDERSON: You know, it's 100 percent realistic, Miles. We had a big announcement last year and a lot of follow-up. We're in negotiations now with probably the first two people who will participate on the first private circumlunar mission.
The beauty of it -- and it's very expensive, it's $100 million per seat. The beauty of it is we use the same technology, the same Soyuz spacecraft, a same ten-day visit to the space station, and we simply launch an extra fuel module to give it enough boost to do a circumlunar mission on the last part of the flight.
You'd be surprised, but we actually have several people who are interested in participating in that, and we think we can get that done in the next three or four years.
M. O'BRIEN: Are you going to name names? Who's interested?
ANDERSON: I can't talk about it yet, but you can be sure when I do, I will come and tell you.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, all right. And you have space for me? You have any media slots on that one?
ANDERSON: Maybe. Lets talk.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. Eric Anderson, president of Space Adventures, the man who brokers all these space tours and deals. Thanks for your time, as always.
ANDERSON: Thanks, Miles -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: He didn't say no; he said let's talk.
M. O'BRIEN: No, he didn't; he said maybe. I like that.
S. O'BRIEN: We'll take up a collection for you. We can raise twenty mil.
M. O'BRIEN: If 100 million people gave me a dollar. There you go. We'll start that off.
S. O'BRIEN: One-hundred million people. You'd make a lot of money off that.
M. O'BRIEN: Give me a trip to the moon, Alice.
S. O'BRIEN: CNN NEWSROOM is just a couple minutes away. Heidi Collins is at the CNN center with a look at what's ahead this morning. Good morning to you, Heidi.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, tell Miles I've written my check. I'll send it his way.
S. O'BRIEN: For a dollar.
M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.
S. O'BRIEN: That's one.
COLLINS: Yes, there's one, one buck. In the meantime, keep your eye on "CNN NEWSROOM" today, President Bush setting up a rare summit with the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan. We'll take a hard look at what's on the table and what it could mean for stability in the Middle East.
And spinach scare, food detectives find the smoking salad. Several California farms under scrutiny now in the E. coli outbreak.
And the F-14, out of the danger zone. The jet Tom Cruise made cool and sexy in "Top Gun," retiring, heading to the bone yard this week. Live from Norfolk, Virginia on that one.
Join Tony Harris and me in the NEWSROOM. We'll get started with everything at the top of the hour. Back to you guys in New York.
O'BRIEN: All right, Heidi, thanks a lot.
Business headlines and a look at the morning's top stories coming up, right after this short break. Stay with us.
M. O'BRIEN: I need to clear up something I said earlier when we told you the story of a Louisiana grand jury indicting the owners of a New Orleans-area nursing home. They're charged in the deaths of 35 patients in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I incorrectly said the deaths were related to alleged mercy killings. In fact, the indictment charged the owners of St. Rita's Nursing Home with negligent homicide and cruelty. Prosecutors say the patients were abandoned and were allowed to drown as the floodwater rose after the storm. The owners deny any wrongdoing, and we regret the error.
S. O'BRIEN: We'll Be back with more in a moment.
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