Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Democratic Presidential Candidates, And Former President Bill Clinton, On Hand To Commemorate Bloody Sunday In Selma, Alabama

Aired March 4, 2007 - 19:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as we got in here, I just said, we've got to pray. And so we started praying.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR, CNN LIVE SUNDAY: Is it prayer, or luck? Something saved this teen from the tornado that destroyed everything around her; a miraculous story from Enterprise, Alabama.

Also, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama go head to head, the prize, the African-American vote. Will either walk away with it?

Also, should you, or shouldn't you? That is the question. Vaccine that could help protect your daughter against cervical cancer is causing quite a bit of controversy.

And hello, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.

We're going to begin with not one but three disturbing stories on the effects of poverty in America. They are tales that will outrage you considering they're happening in arguably the wealthiest country in the world.

A little boy dead because he couldn't see a dentist. Katrina survivors evicted from their FEMA trailers, a baby attacked in her crib by rats. The people perhaps most impacted by poverty are the children who have to grow up in it.

We're going to start this newscast in Kansas City where a baby girl remains hospitalized tonight in serious condition after a rat disfigured her face. This is a dramatic example of what experts say is a very scary problem endured by the poor. The story you're about to hear may also be too much for some viewers. Here it is.


SANCHEZ (voice over): What happened inside this Kansas City house is almost too horrible to describe. In the middle of the night, parents hear their baby's monitor go off in her crib. They wake up to find the baby lying in a pool of blood, her face disfigured and rat droppings left behind.

MICHAEL SWOYER, KANSAS CITY RAT CONTROL: It's very tragic, but we're doing what we can. SANCHEZ: Officials believe a Norway rat, like this one, ripped off her nose and part of her lip. She had to be hospitalized. Kansas City's rat control supervisor tells CNN the family's house was neatly kept, but the inner-city neighborhood where they lived was a rat magnet with trash on the street, and five abandoned homes nearby.

Recently retired CDC official Jerry Hershovitz spent years dealing with the rat problems for the federal government.

JERRY HERSHOVITZ, FMR. CDC OFFICIAL: There were about 10,000 people bitten each year in the United States by rats and mice. Unfortunately, many of them -- most of them are the elderly and the very young. This is, to me, outrageous.

SANCHEZ: He and other rat experts we spoke with say for the past 20 years there's been a resurgence in the number of rodents in this country.

HERSHOVITZ: The worst infestations, from my experience, has been in urban communities. And I think having to live in poverty well equates with having to live in inadequate housing. I have seen mothers and grandmothers with children in their beds sleeping at night in a corner of the bed because the rats have taken over.

SANCHEZ: So what can be done about it? Hershovitz says the solution is simple. You get rid of the rats by getting rid of what is attracting the rats. Most cities just respond to citizen complaints and use poison, which only temporarily keeps rats at bay. Cities, he says, should require rat-proof garbage cans, make sure that they have frequent garbage pick up, enforcing building codes so landlord fix older housing, and plug up the holes and the cracks.

HERSHOVITZ: The methods of controlling rats and eliminating them are not new. They go back to antiquity. So what excuse do we have? I don't think a very good one.


SANCHEZ: Hershovitz goes on to say New York City had a good plan to try and fight the rats under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Using a federal grant the city hired inspectors to check out 1,500 blocks for loose garbage, or overgrown lots and holes. They got properties up to code and within a year the rat populations actually went down, way down, he says. That project, though, ended in December.

Taking you to Louisiana now, FEMA gave dozens of Katrina survivors in trailers 48 hours to pack up and leave -- get out. Many of them whose incomes and outlooks were already shattered by the hurricane had no where to go. FEMA says the trailer park is filthy and unsafe. Rick Barrett of CNN affiliate WGNO explains what happened next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. When we go, and try and talk to him about that, because we're trying to keep you all accommodated and don't worry, we'll keep you all together. We weren't aware of that in the beginning, so we're going to see what we can do to take care of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, miss. All right.

RICK BARRETT, REPORTER, WGNO: The news to evacuate came quickly and caught some off guard.

GIANA PHILLIPS, FEMA TRAILER RESIDENT: They gave us 48 hours. We got 30 people in the six units that we're in, in our family. 48 hours is not enough for us to move.

BARRETT: FEMA says it began notifying people on Thursday, they were being relocated. Today, they were helping people pack up their belongings. While some were reluctant to leave, others like Cecile Degreat was ready to go.

CECILE DEGREAT, FEMA TRAILOR RESIDENT: My thing is the sewer problem that I've been complained about. I've been here since October 16th and I've put in several, several complaints.

BARRETT: FEMA says part of the reason people are being moved out is this water pump. They say it doesn't work. And leaks dirty water on the ground into the back of the trailer park. Frank Bonner, the owner of the trailer park says he's done everything he can to fix it.

Bonner says a damaged float in a water pump located near the back of the trailer park caused the spillage, but he cleaned it up.

FRANK BONNER, TRAILER PARK OWNER: Immediately was out here and got the sewage and lime got it washed out, as well as pumped out the whole tank that was done, and did everything. Anything that's ever happened at the park I've taken care of immediately.

BARRETT: But FEMA spokesman Ronnie Simpson disagrees saying not enough was done and it has now become a health and safety hazard.

RONNIE SIMPSON, FEMA: You just can't have -- you can't have kids playing around in that kind of situation. You can't have old folks walking around. It's just unhealthy. It's not safe. We won't put people in that kind of situation.

BARRETT: FEMA says it's doing it's best to keep families together when they move to their next location. Some are left wondering where their next home will be?

PHILLIPS: I don't know. Now where, from what I understand, I have nowhere to go, nowhere.


SANCHEZ: In addition to the sanitation problems at the trailer park the electricity has not been turned off three times, that's just since October. Thanks to Rick Barrett with WGNO for filing that report for us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diamante (ph) did not complain enough. He had a toothache, but he didn't tell anybody about it.


SANCHEZ: This should not have been a big deal but a minor dental problem paired with poverty kills a 12-year old boy. We're looking at issues faced by the poor. A story that you don't want to miss. It's coming up at the half hour.

The city of Selma, Alabama marked the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday today. Scores of people crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge, paying tribute to civil rights marchers beaten and tear gassed by police while trying to do the same thing in 1965.

On hand for the remembrances, two presidential candidates who lead in the current polls for the African-American vote, Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. Also there, CNN's Mary Snow, who joins us now live.

Now, I understand there was a former president there as well, am I correct?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You are correct, Rick.

Former President Bill Clinton caught up with his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama for the march to commemorate the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, an event that really is steeped in symbolism.

And today really was a day of prayer and presidential politics. The Democratic rivals did not march together, side-by-side, but they did march in the same line. And they had some nice things to say about each other earlier in the day.

Now, before the march took place, each candidate spoke separately at customers almost simultaneously. Senator Barack Obama seemed to answer his critics from the pulpit that he does not have roots in the civil rights movement.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don't tell me I'm not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody's mother (ph) bought freedom (ph). I'm here because ya'll sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of giants.


SNOW: Now as Senator Obama spoke just a few hundred yards down at a different pulpit, Senator Hillary Clinton addressed another congregation. And there, she played up her ties to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King saying as a young girl she met him and learned lessons from him that still apply today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm here to tell you poverty and growing inequality matters. Health care matters. The people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans matter. Our soldiers matter. Our standing in the world matters. Our future matters! And it is up to us to take it back!


SNOW: After the church services, the candidates did meet briefly. They shook hands at a rally. And then the march took place.

Former President Bill Clinton came here to get an award. He was inducted into the Voting Rights Hall of Fame. He was a late addition to this trip. And that, of course, raised a lot of speculation about whether or not because he's so popular among African-American voters, was the Senator Clinton bringing him here to help her with that crucial vote.

This, Rick, by the way, was the first public appearance of President Clinton and Senator Clinton since she announced back in January she was seeking the Democratic nomination.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. I know he had to spend some time with his wife. I certainly would spend more time with my wife. But I bet he went over and at least shook Barack Obama's hand, right?

SNOW: We did see the two men speaking briefly before Senator Barack Obama left for the day. It was certainly very cordial. The theme here was unity. So, there was a little bit of interaction and it was really a very, very crowded event as well.

SANCHEZ: Unbelievable. Thanks so much. Looks like one heck of an event down there in Alabama. We thank you very much, Mary Snow, for bringing us up to date on that.

Well, as Republicans progress on the stump, presidential candidate Mitt Romney topped the straw poll of GOP activists attending a conservative conference. Romney got 21 percent or more of the 1,700 votes cast. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was second with 17 percent. Both were among several White House hopefuls who spoke at the event.

Senator John McCain apparently got burned for -- well, for not showing up. He only got 12 percent of the vote from conservatives. We're talking outsiders versus insiders at 10 Eastern tonight. CNN's Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider will look at Giuliani versus McCain and Obama versus Clinton. Not surprising Bill says the political outsider has a tougher hill to climb on this one. That's Bill Schneider, tonight at 10 P, right here when we bring you CNN news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stephen Grant, our number one suspect, the only suspect, in this particular case is now in custody for the murder and mutilation of his wife, Tara Lynn Grant.


SANCHEZ: Murder and mutilation. His alleged crime is gruesome. The conditions of his capture extraordinary. Did love for his wife turn sour?

Well, they kicked in a door and you would have heard it. They found a completely empty house. That was just the beginning of an deadly day for U.S. forces in Iraq; "Ambush At A River of Secrets", that's ahead in the NEWSROOM.

And then a little boy dead all because his family couldn't afford a dentist. Something as simple as that. There is outrage. A look at what could have saved him. You are watching CNN. We're looking at poverty. We're the most trusted name in news.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez. We take you to Georgia where parts of the state really look like a war zone after last week's deadly tornados. But there are some incredible stories of survival. One man is calling his family's happy ending nothing less than a miracle. CNN's Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff has the story.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It could have been the worst day of Tony Morris' life. His daughter, Jamie, was working Thursday night selling apparel at CATO fashions, a store that is now mostly rubble.

Tony had planned to pick Jamie up at closing time to bring her home. As the storm rapidly approached, 18-year-old Jamie called her dad and told him it was too dangerous to drive, she would take coverage at the shop.

TONY MORRIS, FATHER OF TORNADO SURVIVOR: She called me and told me not to come. She said, "Just wait."

CHERNOFF: The tornado passed quickly, doing no damage to the Morris home.

T. MORRIS: About 10 minutes, or so, later she still hadn't called. So, I thought I'd try to call her. And tried to call her, no answer.

CHERNOFF: So, Tony drove to the strip mall and found this.

T. MORRIS: When I saw the devastation, I was just crushed. I knew she was dead. I just -- everything was destroyed. There was no way that anybody could live through that.

CHERNOFF: Police and firemen were already on the scene, searching through the nearby supermarket. JAMIE MORRIS, TORNADO SURVIVOR: We were over here.

CHERNOFF: Jamie and her manager took cover here in the bathroom in the back of the store, a decision that saved their lives.

J. MORRIS: We were right here. Kneeling down on the floor and we were praying, had our heads covered. As soon as we got in here, I said, we've got to pray. So we started praying. Vicky joined in with me and we were praying, praying loud enough I guess, that we couldn't hear what was happening with the store, because we just never heard it. Just never heard it.

CHERNOFF (On camera): You didn't hear the wind?

J. MORRIS: No. Never heard it.

CHERNOFF (voice over): On the other side of the wall, the tornado had trashed CATO Fashions into a mangled pile of roofing, insulation, pipes and ruined clothing. Jamie and her manager remained in the back too fearful to leave.

J. MORRIS: We could hear people start talking to us and yelling, are you OK? We had been yelling for a long time. We're in here. We're all right.

CHERNOFF: A search team went to the back and found the spot where Jamie was waiting was virtually untouched.

Tony, a minister, believes now more than ever before in miracles.

T. MORRIS: I didn't know that she was really safe until they actually came walking around the building. And I saw her over there with them, then.


It was awesome. We got a big hug. Just a really, really proud to see them good, without a scratch. That was the biggest miracle. Didn't even have a scratch on their head.

CHERNOFF: The Morris family, grateful and amazed to be reunited.

(On camera): So, you look at your store here, I mean, what do you think?

J. MORRIS: I think I need a job. It's amazing. I can't believe we survived.

CHERNOFF: Allan Chernoff, CNN, Americus, Georgia.


SANCHEZ: And there's this story that we've been following for you through the week. Home probably never looked so good. The families of those college baseball players killed, or injured, in a horrific crash Friday are in Atlanta, where it happened. Well, they're back home in Ohio now.

Their plane touched down a short while ago. This is the picture of them arriving. A hearse was standing by on the tarmac to transport some of the six people that were killed.

Around the same time, the National Transportation Safety Board was holding a news conference. They agreed the left-hand exit ramp the bus took can be tough to navigate, maybe a little misleading. They say there's been a lot of accidents there. In fact the "Atlanta Journal- Constitution" reports 82, to be exact.

It seems like a page out of the Scott Peterson story. A husband is being held tonight in Michigan, suspected of killing his wife. And folks it's a grisly tale. The woman's torso was found hidden in the family's garage, in the same house where the couple's small children live.

There's a lot going on, on this one tonight. Glen (ph) Zimmerman from our Detroit affiliate WXYZ has more on the husband's arrest.

GLEN (ph) ZIMMERMAN (ph), REPORTER, WXYZ TV (voice over): A hypothermic and frostbitten Stephen Grant is hoisted onto a Coast Guard helicopter and flown to get medical care. For at least eight hours he evaded a massive search effort through an extremely rural section of the Lake Michigan shoreline, appropriately called Wilderness State Park.

SHERIFF PETE WALLIN, EMMET CO., MICHIGAN: We could find places, we would follow the tracks. We would see where he would lay down, get up and run again, lay down, get up and run. In fact, when we apprehended him he was hiding under a tree.

ZIMMERMAN: Grant had already abandoned the yellow Dodge Dakota he used to get here from down state. And he left it on the side of the road. Investigators found it and then focused their search on that area.

The sheriff reports Grant did not have any weapons on him. And despite the cold, the sheriff does not believe Grant tried to enter any of the cabins in the park.

WALLIN: When we found him, the individual -- I don't know if it was a long sleeve or short sleeve -- he had no jacket on, had slacks and he was in stocking feet. The temperature last night was 14 degrees.

ZIMMERMAN: Given that it's no surprise when the helicopter brought him to Northern Michigan Hospital, doctors treated Grant for hypothermia and possible frostbite to his feet.

JOHN BEDNAR, NORTHERN MICHIGAN HOSPITAL: He was been upgraded from serious to stable, as his body temperature has already improved. He is awake and alert and cooperative with hospital staff. He will most likely be kept at least overnight for continued monitoring, but is expected to make a full recovery with exception of some cold injury to his feet. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: One of the big stories we're following on this day.

It could be the thing that saves your daughter's life. So why is a new vaccine sparking controversy? We're going to ask one opponent.

And then, later, they knew that something was wrong with the house they raided turned up empty. It turned into the "Ambush At The River of Secrets."

You're watching CNN.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez. We're going to take you back now to January 26, 2005. It was the deadliest day yet for American troops in Iraq. Before it was over 37 would perish. This is how it began.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The convoy rolls, lights out, over the open desert, avoiding potential landmines and insurgent lookouts along roads. As they approach, the village of Haklanea (ph) appears asleep. Joe Tesarro (ph), a photograph with WABC in New York and his reporter, Jim Dolan, are imbedded with the unit.

JIM DOLAN, REPORTER WABC: It was about what you would expect for a small village in the dead of night. I don't recall seeing anybody outside or awake.

JOE TESSARO, PHOTOGRAPHER, WABC: But there were people in the mosque. There definitely were lights coming from the mosque.

DOLAN: Absolutely.

FOREMAN: Seated right across from Jonathan Bolling, Andy Gentry is also taking in the small town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We kind of got freaked out a little bit because we saw an ambulance that took off and the lights were on. No sirens. That was strange.

FOREMAN: They press on to the house beside the mosque. The convoy arrays itself to watch the surrounding area, near the river.

This is the actual videotape of that night. Marines spill out of two vehicles and rush the target house. That's Bill Meyers group, leading the charge to blow the door, Bolling, Lynn, Weaver and Strong (ph). Surprisingly, the door is open.


FOREMAN: They throw a flash grenade to startle and stun whomever is inside, but the house is abandoned. SGT. BILL MEYERS, CHARLIE COMPANY: When you go into a building that's supposed to be housing 10 insurgents and there isn't even any furniture in the building, you kind of wonder what's about to happen.

FOREMAN: The team searches every room, throwing flash grenades ahead of them. Nothing. Andy Gentry says no one wants to say it looks like a setup, but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty sure all of us thought of it.


SANCHEZ: CNN's Tom Foreman and the special investigations unit, "Ambush At The River of Secrets". That's tonight at 8:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

Got some news to bring you, just in. A little bit of a fire going on. Let me tell you where this is. This is in Glendale, California, not far from riverside. It's all, of course, near Los Angeles.

We understand there was a fire there that scorched quite a bit of earth. We're told 90 percent of it is contained. Full containment expected sometime later this evening. But, you know, obviously those of you who follow these know they can get away from the firefighters and that's why they're on the scene. They are gullies, they're valleys. The winds whip through them. Those Santa Ana winds that Bonnie Schneider has been telling us could affect this area. That's why they're on top of this thing.

At least this particular shot right here shows a little bit of the fire. There's another one there. Looks like they've done a pretty good job containing this thing, but obviously, it's not put out yet. Bonnie Schneider has been following this. We're hopefully going to get back to her in a little while, too, so she can give us a sense of what is causing this and the chances that something like this might not happen later on. We'll stay on top of it. So, there you have it. That's near Glendale, California.

Well, a lot of things that you worry when you think about the things that could harm your children. But a toothache? It's probably pretty far down the list, right? Well, maybe it shouldn't be. We'll let you know why.

The virus can cause cancer. The vaccine has caused controversy. The flap over HPV immunizations.

And the deadly rise in suicide bombers in Afghanistan. It's changing tactics are taking a much higher toll on American lives. You are watching CNN LIVE SUNDAY.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. Want to bring you up to date now on a developing story that we're following for you, it's in the hills just off of Los Angeles, this is the Glendale area. There's been a fire there that's been going for quite some time. Looks like they got it 90 percent contained, at least that's the report that we're getting here. It's between three to 400 acres that have burned so far. You see that line of fire trucks there? Those are the crews that have been working this thing. You can still see some hot spots that are still burning. Just to left of your screen as we zoom in you see one of them. There's another area right there, as we zoom into that, you're able to see it. There's one of the firefighters approaching it now. Don't know if these are hot shots getting to the scene or not. Actually you see what he's doing right there? He's actually putting down a fire. That fire -- what he's doing is he's creating a fire line. That will burn the brush there and that will be the end point. In other words, as this fire moves, it will get to there, it won't have anything else to burn so it will stop. That's one of the techniques that's used by some of these hot shots as they get to the scene to try and put this thing out.

We're going to get to Bonnie Schneider in a little while, she's going to be talking about wind conditions and what are the chances that this thing could still grow. Obviously it's dangerously close to the highway there and we'll get back to it as we continue to follow this story. We're going to keep an eye on it, but let's move on now if we can.

Who should decide whether kids are vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease, parents or the government? That question is getting a lot of attention in 22 states. They're all considering bills that would mandate young girls be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus. Because this vaccine may prevent a type of cancer for them. That's exactly what Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to do. As you can imagine though, some parents are saying, that's not the government's business, that's our business as parents. So we've got a controversy. And here is CNN's Alina Cho to tell us about it.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 10-year-old Morgan Waggoner has no idea she's at the center of a national debate over a vaccine for a virus that causes cervical cancer.

MORGAN WAGGONER: It's a disease and you can get it from kissing and stuff like that.

CHO: And she has no idea the disease is sexually transmitted. But she could soon be required to be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus or HPV. Texas Governor Rick Perry signed an executive order mandating the vaccine for all girls entering the sixth grade. Morgan's parents are Republicans and voted for Perry twice, but say on this, the governor is wrong.

CHRIS WAGGONER, FATHER: It's our decision as a family. It's not the state's decision to immunize my daughter.

CHO: The Texas Eagle Forum is leading the charge against the vaccine, saying it contradicts the stat's abstinence only sex education policies and questioning the drug's high cost. And last week the parents of five Texas school girls filed a lawsuit against the governor, saying the school aged girls of Texas are not guinea pigs. Morgan's mother believes the HPV vaccine, though FDA approved, has not been tested enough to be considered safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no need for me to vaccinate my child at 12 years of age.

CHO: The vaccine called gardasil is made by pharmaceutical giant Merck. One of its lead lobbyists in Texas is Perry's former chief of staff. But Perry says his decision was based solely on public health.

GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) TEXAS: This is safe. It's been tested and it's available.

CHO: State Representative Garnet Coleman agrees and says he wants his 11-year-old vaccinated.

REP. GARNET COLEMAN: And because it's easily transmitted that means we can protect children or women now.

CHO: Morgan Waggoner's parents say it's too soon to talk about sexually transmitted diseases with their daughter and she thinks so too.

MORGAN WAGGONER: It feels weird.

CHO: Why?

MORGAN WAGGONER: Because it feels like I'm really young and they're talking about older stuff.

CHO (on camera): Texas is the first state in the nation to mandate the vaccine. Thirty seven hundred women in the U.S. die of cervical cancer each year. And a tenth of the victims in Texas. That's why the governor says it's so important to act now while opponents of the mandate say the drug Gardasil was approved by the FDA just eight months ago. Why the rush to mandate? They say if the governor believed the issue was that important, he should have held public hearings and let the state legislature decide what to do about this, not issue a blanket mandate. Alina Cho, CNN, Austin, Texas.


SANCHEZ: So it's a pretty basic question. Should this be a public matter or a private matter? Joining us now from Austin, Texas, is Dawn Richardson, she's the president of PROVE, an organization that works to educate people about vaccinations. Dawn, thanks so much for being with us. Let me ask you this question if the idea is to make sure that this disease doesn't run amok in the population, essentially the public welfare, wouldn't it be a good idea to do something like this.

DAWN RICHARDSON, PARENS REQUESTING OPEN VACCINE ED.: Well it doesn't run amok now without the vaccine. It's important to note that the number of women who die from cervical cancer in this country, .06 percent of all the people that die from all cancers or from cervical cancer. This is not a huge public health crisis.

SANCHEZ: Let me stop you there for just a moment and let you listen to what the American Cancer Society says. This is a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. We're going to listen to them and then I'm going to read you the comment that was made by Governor Rick Perry and they're disagreeing with you. So let's take it up here.


DEBBIE SASLOW, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: Cancer is not about sex. Cancer is about public health. Vaccines are about public health. And this vaccine can save lives.


SANCHEZ: Now let's put up the quote from Governor Rick Perry, he differs with you as well. And I'll let you see what the governor is saying. He says the HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer, requiring young girls to get vaccinated. That is the governor of the state of Texas. What do you say to them?

RICHARDSON: Less than 1200 little girls under the age of 16 were tested. The vaccine was tested on many women who were older. There is no proof right now that this vaccine will stop cervical cancer. It is to prevent the infection with the HPV virus. But the HPV virus is something that incubates for 20 years. The average age of women who develop cervical cancer is 48. We're talking about 11 year old girls and a vaccine that was only tested for about four years. We have no proof that this vaccine is actually going to stop cervical cancer.

SANCHEZ: Any time you're dealing with something which is communicable, that passes from one human being to another, don't we need to be extremely cautious and don't we need to err on the side of caution, which it seems these public officials are saying we need to do?

RICHARDSON: To err on the side of caution would be to do enough testing to make sure that this vaccine is safe in the population that it's being targeted for.

SANCHEZ: What makes you, hold on a minute, you just said something I haven't heard you say before. You're saying the vaccine isn't safe?

RICHARDSON: We don't know yet. As a matter of fact, there are over 500 reports that have been into the FDA and to the adverse of that reporting system, for things like loss of consciousness, dizziness, (INAUDIBLE) syndrome and a whole bunch of other afflictions.

SANCHEZ: But none of those things compare to cancer, you would agree, right? I would imagine I wouldn't mind my daughter putting up with a headache if it meant that she wouldn't get cervical cancer.

RICHARDSON: This is more serious potentially than a headache. And also remember, the vaccine has only been on the market since June of this year. It's only been on a short period of time. And again, 1200 little girls under the age of 16 is not enough to make a mandated policy. There are 162,000 little girls in this state alone that would be eligible for this vaccine under mandate. But also we're talking about saying you don't get a public education unless you get this vaccine. It's very different than promoting the vaccine, making the information available and letting parents make their own choice. That's what parents in Texas are saying loud and clear. My daughter, my decision.

SANCHEZ: Dawn let me make sure I hear you correctly, because what you're doing is you're criticizing the vaccine. But are you also attacking it from a privacy point of view?

RICHARDSON: What we're saying is there are many unanswered questions about the vaccine that concern us that it's way to soon to even talk about a mandate.

SANCHEZ: We get that. Now you're getting the addition, I apologize for interrupting.

RICHARDSON: That's ok, that's ok, no problem. But addition, yes, there is an issue with who should be making this decision, the parents or the government. Parents should not have to get permission from a government official through some kind of opt-out process to make this kind of decision for their daughter. And 91 state representatives who have co-signed onto a bill to repeal the governor's mandate agree also. So this is not just a minority population. A huge number of people are upset about this.

SANCHEZ: So you're saying that this is a decision that should be made by the parent and not by the government.

RICHARDSON: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: What if it's for the public good, what if it's something like polio, which some people are comparing this to. Something that could affect so many people down the line that we would pay for it in a much bigger way, then what would you say?

RICHARDSON: It's not something that affects so many people down the line. Polio is highly transmissible in a communicable setting like in a classroom, you know like flu or other things that are contagious. Kids can't get this from any other way, the cervical cancer strain, except from having sex. We're talking about sixth grade girls.

SANCHEZ: Is that your hang-up then, is it about the sex?

RICHARDSON: No, it's about the safety, the efficacy and the cost. And there are problems on all three of those fronts and it should be a parent's decision.

SANCHEZ: Dawn Richardson you defend your position very well. We thank you for being here with us today, we appreciate it.

RICHARDSON: Appreciate it too. Take care. SANCHEZ: Let's talk about this breaking story that we're following. You know it's hard to tell because we're looking at different shots. See the firefighters there? They're trying to get to the certain side of the fire. See the wind is blowing away from them. And what they're doing there is they're actually creating a firewall. You see the firefighters that are actually working, that one right there, you see him? He actually has that torch with him and what he's doing is he's making sure that there's enough of a firewall there. In other words, get rid of the vegetation so that the fire doesn't have anything to burn so it can't cross over to the other side of the highway. And that's what they'll usually try to do, they'll contain it to a line like that right there so it doesn't go over. Those firefighters are literally trying to put out the fire by starting a fire. And as you can see the wind is going in that direction which is obviously assisting them. These are pros, many of these guys are hot shots, they work these scenes all the time. They know what they're doing.


SANCHEZ: Let's put that picture back up, Roger because I wanted to show the neighborhood, the area that's being affected by this. You saw a little while ago while Bonnie was talking, they took the camera away because it was really kind of a tough zoom that's difficult to show. There you see now a little bit more perspective of where some of the fire has burned in this area over here and where the homes are and how they might be affected. Obviously the good news is you seem to have a good clearing there. So the good news as we look at this is it's a good chance that some of the residents there won't be affected. Although earlier we did also see some homes that people are building right in the area there. That certainly would be something that would be affected by this fire were it to grow. Again, remember, the key point is, they say they have it 90 percent contained, that's good news. Could it spark up again? Of course it could. That's why we're going to be keeping an eye on it for you.

All right, moving on. If your child gets a toothache, it's usually a minor problem, but not always, it can also be a tragic story. That's what we're going to bring you.

And then later, it's one of the most grueling race known to man, the Iditarod, it gets under way in Alaska. We'll tell you about it as well, you're watching CNN, the most trusted name. There you go, there's the huskies. We'll be back.


SANCHEZ: That's B control, they're pushing the buttons to bring you the news.

Imagine a child dying due to a lack of dental care. What seemed so improbable became all too real for a 12-year-old boy last week. But as CNN's Gary Nurenberg reports, the pitfalls of the substandard or inaccessible dental care confront millions of American kids each year.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the end, 2- year-old Diamonte Driver may have known he was dying.

ALYCE DRIVER, MOTHER: His last words to me were, mom, make sure you pray before you go to bed.

LAURIE NORRIS, PUBLIC JUSTICE CENTER: Diamonte did not complain enough. He had a toothache but he didn't tell anybody about it.

NURENBERG: He knew his mom couldn't find a dentist to treat his brother's six abscessed teeth.

MICHAEL CANNON, CATO INSTITUTE: The bureaucracy involved in treating Medicaid patients is so extreme that a lot of doctors just decide not to treat any Medicaid patients at all.

DRIVER: All you have to do is say what kind of insurance you got? No, we don't take that, as simple as that.

NURENBERG: Diamonte began to feel worse and did say something.

DRIVER: He just was complaining of headaches.

NURENBERG: So it was a doctor, not a dentist, who saw him first.

NORRIS: They thought it was a sinus infection. Three days later he started vomiting. At that point they did a cat scan and a spinal tap and they found the raging infection.

NURENBERG: A surgeon said it was not just in his tooth.

DRIVER: They said he has to have surgery, he has puss on his brain.

NURENBERG: Diamonte died from the tooth infection that had spread to his brain.

SEN. BEN CARDIN, (D) MARYLAND: We must learn from this appalling failure of our broken health care system and we must fix it.

NURENBERG: Within days of Diamonte's death, Congress was considering legislation providing $40 million in dental services to the poor. The state legislature in Annapolis is also considering additional funding to make dental care more accessible to indigent children.

DR. RAY RAWSON, DENTIST: It's an epidemic disease and it is preventable. And we know how to prevent it if we can just get those kids in the office.

NURENBERG: Ray Rawson says states that have trimmed Medicaid red tape see more dentists accepting the insurance and more patients using it.

NORRIS: This was not necessary and it can be fixed. NURENBERG: Lawyer Laurie Norris of Maryland's Public Justice Center hopes Diamonte's death leads to more dental hygiene programs in schools, more pediatricians doing dental screening and more efficient government programs to provide dental care to the poor. Diamonte's mother says simply --

DRIVER: No one else should have to go through this.

NURENBERG: Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Catonsville, Maryland.


SANCHEZ: Let's take you back to a developing story we're following for you now. This is that fire that's taking place out in Glendale, California, not far from Los Angeles. We have some pictures we can show you just to see what this thing has been looking like. What you see, those small fires there, that's actually a fire line that seems to be put down by some of the firefighters. It looks like what they're trying to do is keep the fire away from the highway itself. For confirmation of that, let's go to an official with the Riverside Fire Department that's Patrick Chandler. Patrick, you explained to us, what do you guys have on your hands here and how are you tackling it?

PATRICK CHANDLER: So far this fire was reported at 11:05 today in Reno Valley about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. So right now we expect to have full containment at 6:00 p.m. today. Throughout the night the firefighters will ensure that there's no hot spots, just clean up any areas that are still hot throughout the night.

SANCHEZ: Are you using just with your crew or are you using some hot shots as well.

CHANDLER: In this case with the Califi Riverside Fire Department we're using our fire crews from our conservation camps from San Diego and San Bernardino, including our own firefighters from here in our county and also some from San Diego and Los Angeles.

SANCHEZ: I have to ask you about what effect this fire is having. Let's start with that highway there, I think that's highway 60. These guys are doing really yeoman's work, those are steep hills and they've climbed up the hills and are putting down what appears to be a fire line to keep the fire from crossing the road, right?

CHANDLER: Yeah. Exactly. Right now the fire has affected the eastbound highway 60.

SANCHEZ: It's closed?

CHANDLER: Yeah, exactly. That freeway heads out towards Beaumont or towards Palm Springs.

SANCHEZ: How about homes as we look at some now?

CHANDLER: Well early on around 11:05 when the fire was reported, there was a report that a few homes were threatened. But due to the fact that they had the proper clearance around their properties, the fire did not damage the properties.

SANCHEZ: Are people building homes in this area, I mean in an area that obviously is prone to fires?

CHANDLER: Well, there have been fires in that area in the years past. And the fire is pretty close to the city of Moreno Valley where there are some residences. But in this case the fire didn't damage any properties. It was fortunate because the people were prepared.

SANCHEZ: Hey Patrick we appreciate it. Patrick Chandler with the Riverside Fire Department bringing us up to date on that situation there. He says it's 90 percent contained. Hopefully they'll be able to knock it out over the next couple of hours, we'll be checking on you and we thank you once again, Mr. Chandler, for joining us.

CHANDLER: Well thank you.

SANCHEZ: We're going to take a short break, we'll be all over this story and a lot more. Stay with us, we'll be right back.



GERRI WILLIS: Well a number of you may be gearing up for spring break road trips. And a hike in gas prices could take a bite out of your travel budget. Gas prices have jumped 13 cents a gallon in recent weeks. On Wednesday we'll get the government's weekly reading of oil and gas inventories. That report typically drives crude oil prices, which account for about half the cost of making gasoline. On Friday, we get the big employment report for February which is almost always a market mover. The report gives us the best monthly look at the state of the economy and what the future may hold. Employers added less jobs in January than expected and unemployment rose one- tenth of 1 percent. However, a strong gain in jobs since the end of the year suggest there is good momentum heading into the spring. The Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book Wednesday, that's a major of economic strength in different parts of the country. It comes on the heels of comments made by former Fed Chief Alan Greenspan who told a business conference the U.S. economy might fall into recession by the end of the year. Be sure to catch minding your business on "AMERICAN MORNING" weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. eastern. That's it from New York. I'm Gerri Willis.



SANCHEZ: I want to show you this developing story before we go one more time, there it is, those are the images from this fire in the area of Riverside County. We've been talking about Glendale a while ago, Glendale's probably the closest city, but it's still a bit of a distance away. It's being called the Alessandro fire, 90 percent contained. We'll be keeping an eye on it for you and we'll be checking in from time to time for you as well. I'm Rick Sanchez at the CNN Center, the hour's headlines when we come back. Also this, they stormed a house looking for insurgents and found that they had walked into a trap. Turned out the ambush at the river of secrets is what it was. CNN's special investigations unit will bring you that next.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines