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TB Scare: Inside an Isolation Room; Hurricane Season Starts Today; Debate in New Hampshire

Aired June 1, 2007 - 06:58   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Speaking out. A patient at the center of an international health scare, and his father who defends his travels.

TED SPEAKER, ANDREW SPEAKER'S FATHER: They said, no, we prefer you not to go, but we're not saying you're not to go.

ROBERTS: His father-in-law's bombshell connection.

DR. ROBERT COOKSEY, ANDREW SPEAKER'S FATHER-IN-LAW: My son-in- law's TB did not originate from myself or the CDC labs.

ROBERTS: And questions about the border agent who knew the patient was wanted but let him into the U.S. anyway.


ROBERTS: The outrage and the fallout on this AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: And good morning to you. Thanks very much for being with us.

It's Friday, June the 1st. The beginning of a brand new month.

I'm John Roberts.


Thanks for being with us.

It's also the beginning of the more bizarre details that are coming out about this tuberculosis story from the patient speaking out to how he was able to get from Canada into our country when his passport was flagged.

ROBERTS: Every day something new on this.

CHETRY: And we're going to have much more coming up in just a second.

Meanwhile, some other stories "On Our Radar" this morning. That's extreme weather across the country. Check out these pictures from Kansas.

Drivers are probably trying to get the dents out of their cars today. It just looks like a street full of marbles, or even golf balls. This is hail that came down there.

Then, let's take you over to Florida -- Lake Okeechobee, wildfires. I mean, this is supposed to be a lake 13 feet above sea level. And instead, it's so dry and parched that wildfires are burning there.

It also was the kickoff to the Atlantic hurricane season. It starts today, and we're going to be having reports across the country about preparedness. Are they ready in places like New Orleans for hurricane season?

ROBERTS: Two security outrages this week. First of all, the fact that the fellow with TB got in across the border when he had been flagged and it popped up on a border security guard's computer screen.

Now we learn that detailed plans for the new U.S. embassy under construction in Baghdad appeared online on Thursday. Now, huge security surrounding this sensitive project. And you can imagine, it's right there along the river in Baghdad. It's surrounded by huge fences because of the dangers there, and the plans for this thing get on the World Wide Web.

We're going to be looking at that coming up.

Andrew Speaker, meanwhile, the man who caused a scare by flying even though he was infected with tuberculosis, is apologizing to his fellow airline passengers, but he insists that the Centers for Disease Control never expressly told him to not fly. And Speaker says he doesn't know how he got tuberculosis, but his father-in-law, who is a tuberculosis researcher at the Centers for Disease Control, ironically enough, says it didn't come from him.

Speaker is now at a specialized hospital in Denver for treatment.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is keeping close watch on this story, joins us now live from Washington.

What is the latest, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it sounds like, you know, the patient is actually doing fine. And it sounds like he's healthy, he's obviously able to talk.

He's in isolation. We've talked a lot about what isolation means for some time.

He has to wear a mask, first of all, that doesn't prevent -- prevents anything from coming out of his mouth. But he's also in one of these negative circulation rooms. So, no air from his room is actually pumped into the rest of the hospital, or adjoining rooms, or anything like that.

You know, this is not unusual, John, that someone might be very healthy and might seem very healthy, but clearly has this localized area of tuberculosis, it sounds like, in his lungs. And they're trying to decide what to do.

John, it's interesting. It's an interesting process.

They actually take some of the bacteria from his body. Sometimes they'll give him a little salt water and he'll cough up the bacteria. They'll put that on a Petri dish and just put different antibiotics in it and see which antibiotic actually kills the bacteria, if any. He has extensively drug-resistant, so none of them may not work.

That's sort of the process. And that's going to take a few weeks for it.

ROBERTS: I saw some reports this morning, Sanjay, that he had been given that process to cough up some sputum, any sputum that they cultured did not show a presence of the bacteria. Does mean that perhaps people who might have been on the plane with him really weren't in that much danger?

GUPTA: Yes. I think so. I think it's a very good point, it's an important point.

When you're thinking about whether or not someone is contagious, infectious, there are two things that they really look at. One, is the person sick? Is the person sick looking? Do they have a fever, or are they coughing or sneezing? As everyone knows now, coughing or sneezing is the way that they really get this bacteria airborne.

The other thing is exactly what you said, is to actually look for the presence of the bacteria on a slide. So they actually have one of two things. They have someone cough it up, or they actually go in there with a little catheter right along the area and see if the bacteria is still present in his upper airways. And if it's not, his level of infectiousness is very low.

I should point out that, you know, sometimes the bacteria will hang out low in the lungs, which is why just simply talking like we are now wouldn't actually transmit the bacteria, it would take vigorous coughing or vigorous sneezing to really get it out.

ROBERTS: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta with the latest for us from Washington this morning on the tuberculosis.

We'll get back to you a little bit later on this morning, Sanjay, for more. Thanks.

GUPTA: All right. Thanks.

CHETRY: Well, we're hoping this isn't the case, but sometimes you just have to ask. Could this year be the year that a hurricane the size of Katrina hits once again? And would we be ready?

The season gets under way today. And forecasters say it will be busy, with up to 10 storms possible. So, are we prepared?

Well, CNN is your hurricane headquarters. We have correspondents across the country today.

Sean Callebs in New Orleans; Reynolds Wolf is on Pea Island in North Carolina, the Outer Banks, home to some of the most vulnerable real estate in the country. Chad Myers, in Punta Gorda, Florida, an area hit badly by Hurricane Charley three years ago. And they're still recovering, putting the pieces together.

We also have our Rob Marciano in Tampa. Some say that city could be the next New Orleans if a big storm actually hit there.

We start with Reynolds Wolf on Pea Island, the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

And Reynolds, are they worried and are they prepared as we hit hurricane season officially kicking off today?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they always do their best to be prepared here on the Outer Banks. I mean, this is a place where these kinds of storms are quite common. In fact, they average at least getting brushed with one of these storms or a direct hit once every 2.5 years.

Now, where I'm standing, this is the Bonner Bridge, crossing over the Oregon Inlet. As we take a shot, we're going to pan out over the water. It spans some three miles to the rest of the Outer Banks. And although this bridge does look structurally sound to just the casual observer, locals say this bridge is in pretty bad shape, that it is crumbling and it needs to be replaced.

Now, a little bit farther to the north, they have had a new bridge that was built a few years back, and they said that has certainly helped some of the flow of this big population getting off these islands. But still, evacuation could be a very frustrating experience.


TRICIA BARKER, TOURIST: Because people wait until the last minute. I mean, as long as they possibly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do you think -- I mean, do you think if it would help if there were more bridges here? Do you think it would help?

BARKER: Of course it would. Of course it would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you think there are enough bridges now, or do they need to have more?

BARKER: I think they could have more. But I think if people would -- it's just a tiny island, and so many people on it. I mean, I think it's just a hard situation.

I mean, what do you do? I mean, I don't know.


WOLF: Kiran, think about the population of these islands. You've got 35,000 people that live here on the Outer Banks year round, but that population swells to over 300,000, over a quarter million people, during the peak hurricane season.

Now, this bridge, the Bonner Bridge, take a look at this. It's a two-lane road that crosses this three-mile span. All it takes is one blowout, one fender-bender, and evacuation comes to a crawl. So, certainly a very dangerous choke point, to say the least.

Back to you.

CHETRY: Yes, you're right.

Reynolds Wolf for us out on the Outer Banks, Pea Island to be specific.

Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: This Sunday the Democratic contenders for president square off for their second debate. The Republicans go at it for their third two days later.

The debates are in New Hampshire, a state that is incredibly important if you want to occupy the Oval Office. So, what are folks in New Hampshire thinking about the campaign? Who do they like and how are the political winds there shifting?

CNN's Candy Crowley is live in Manchester, New Hampshire, for us this morning.

Good morning to you, Candy.


ROBERTS: So, Fred Thompson, he's the latest news in the political campaign. He said that he wanted to sort of float the idea of running for president to see what people said about it.

What are they saying there in New Hampshire?

CROWLEY: Well, it's not hard to find someone who is "waiting for Fred Thompson". There are various schools of thought here, and the Republican hierarchy in New Hampshire, they note that a lot of the top talent here -- that is, the campaign managers, the strategists, the ad people -- have really been scooped up by other Republican campaigns. So they think Thompson will have a hard time on the ground here in New Hampshire finding some top talent.

Having said that, when you talk to voters, they'll say, well, you know, I sort of like McCain, I sort of like Rudy Giuliani, but I'm waiting for Fred Thompson it get in. It's by no means a done deal for Thompson among these voters, but they would like to take a look at him.

ROBERTS: Thompson getting in, might that change the way that those all-important Independents there in New Hampshire vote? Because Independents in New Hampshire can vote in either primary, they just have to decide which one.

CROWLEY: Right, exactly. And one of the interesting figures that we looked at the other day, pollsters and political scientists say more than 70 percent of Independents right now in New Hampshire say they're going to vote Democratic. So there's a fairly small pool of Independents for Republicans to fight over.

As you know, independents put John McCain over the top here by 17, 18 points over George Bush. So, the question is whether they will stick with him, and the war is a major problem for John McCain among Independents right now. So, certainly, they're up for grabs on the Republican side, although not as many as there are on the Democratic side.

ROBERTS: So, there really is a Democratic buzz there in the Granite State, is there?

CROWLEY: Wow. There really is. And, you know, all over, I must say, in the various places we've been, from South Carolina, to New Hampshire, to Des Moines. And you can measure it in a couple of ways.

First of all, the crowds are a good deal larger for the Democrats, particularly the stars among them -- Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton. What you find, as well, in -- on the money side is, I don't know if you remember, John, but the first quarter figures that came out, those first three months of this year, when the candidates put out how much they've raised and how much they have on hand, the Democrats had twice as much money on hand in total as the Republicans did, which means a couple of things.

First of all, Democrats are raising more money and they're spending less money. So, there's a couple of ways to measure it, but there is no doubt on the ground and in the figures the Democrats enjoy sort of the intensity edge.

ROBERTS: Right. You know, even people like Tom DeLay, an intense Republican loyalist, saying it looks like they got trouble in 2008.

Candy Crowley up there in New Hampshire.


CROWLEY: Sure, John.

ROBERTS: We'll see you this weekend for the debates as well.

A reminder to you. Two big debates heading your way here on CNN.

The Democratic presidential candidates square off on Sunday, June the 3rd. The Republicans go at it two days later, on Tuesday, June 5th. We'll also get a preview of those debates when Wolf Blitzer, who's moderating both of them, joins us in our next hour of AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: Well, the State Department trying to close a security breach over its Baghdad embassy, still under construction. Plans for the massive secure compound were posted online by the architectural firm working on the project. For a brief time yesterday, anyone could see the 10 images, including a diagram of the overall compound. They were then quickly taken down.

ROBERTS: OK, take a listen to this. A despicable scam, that's the only way to describe it, targeting military families. It tops our "Quick Hits" today.

The Red Cross is issuing a warning about this hoax. It works like this: someone calls the spouse or family member of a service member, says he or she's loved one has been injured in Iraq, and that a Social Security number and date of birth are needed to begin treatment. It's the kind of information thieves can use to steal someone's identity.

And a fueling frenzy at a San Francisco gas station. Take a look at this.

Hundreds of drivers filling up their tanks for less than $3 a gallon. The station dropping prices to $2.99 for it's very last day of business. One guy says he waited three hours in line before being told that there wasn't any more gas. The same Shell station made news earlier this year when the owner set the highest prices in California at $4 a gallon.

Coming up, are we ignoring the major health crisis? We're going to be hearing what we should be doing to prevent a tuberculosis outbreak.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


ROBERTS: Thirteen minutes after the hour now. A hailstorm for your "Quick Hits".

That's hail in northwest Kansas quickly covering up the road. Take a listen to what it sounded like. You can imagine what that's doing to your car.

The same storm chasers also caught this amazing video of a funnel cloud. Both of them near the town of Norton, Kansas. And parts of southeastern Kansas and Oklahoma are still experiencing severe weather this morning.

And a small tornado knocked things around in Connecticut. A horse barn took a beating, and some trees and power lines got knocked down. Hail also hit the area, and a funnel cloud was spotted. And take a look at this. Florida's Lake Okeechobee is burning. Fire spread out across the dried-out lake bed. The drought has left Lake Okeechobee about four feet lower than it should be.

Chad Myers is out for the first day of hurricane season because it is June 1st. He is in Punta Gorda, Florida, where Hurricane Charley blew through a few years back, and he's back there again today.

What does it look like from your perspective, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Standing on the exact same spot, John. And boy, it looks good.

I'll tell you what, I didn't expect it to look this good. I expected it to still be in shambles. But the buildings are back, the people are back. Seventy-five percent of all the residents stayed or came back.

Most of them are snow birds, and that actually saved a lot of lives, the fact that the people that lived here were not here. They were in Michigan and Pennsylvania, back because it was obviously the hottest part of the year.

Now, they are still back here. They're about to head back. The snow birds back into the cooler part of the northern climates for summer.

But when we were here last year -- and were here again the year before and then for Charley, here's some of the pictures of what Charley looked like, what Punta Gorda looked like, and what it did to this town, and Port Charlotte, as well -- all of Charlotte County. Some -- just -- they opened these trailers up like a can opener. The winds just came out of the west, came out of the southwest, and pulled this town apart.

Well, let me tell you, this town pulled itself back together. It was amazing, it was uplifting to see what this town had turned into.

Now, a lot of people are still arguing with their insurance companies. I won't tell you that everything is back to normal perfectly. A lot of people still don't have their money.

Just a little bit ago, we talked to a lady and a man. They finally got their house back together. That was now three weeks ago. They're back in the house. They've been working on it for two and a half years, arguing, getting contractors, putting things back together.

Yesterday I talked to the emergency manager here, the emergency operation manager here in Charlotte County. I asked him, "What was your saddest day with Charley?"


WAYNE SALLADE, DIRECTOR, CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLORIDA, EMERGENCY OPERATIONS: I resent -- and I know this sounds callous -- but I resent people today dying in a hurricane. There's no excuse.

An earthquake in California that comes in the middle of the night, you're going to have fatalities. But a hurricane which sits out in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico and mocks you? We give them a name, and they look at you and they say, hey, if you don't do something to prepare for me, I'm going to come kill you. And yet, people continue to disregard the advice that we give them.


MYERS: Eleven thousand homes in this county destroyed, 5,500 of them, half of them, manufactured homes. Six schools, four fire stations completely destroyed. And three major hospitals had damage to the roofs, completely tearing them off. And, in fact, where Wayne Sallade was the day the day of Punta Gorda's Hurricane Charley, that operations building was also knocked down.


MYERS: But they rebuilt it, and they're going to move in. They're going to move in today -- John.

ROBERTS: Things looking a lot better down there.

Chad Myers for us in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Thanks, Chad. Speak to you in a little bit. Appreciate it.

MYERS: You're welcome.

CHETRY: We now know the name Andrew Speaker. He's the man who caused a scare by flying even though he was infected with tuberculosis. Apologizing to fellow passengers this morning. He also insists though that the CDC never expressly told him not to fly.

There's also word that his father-in-law is a TB researcher at the Centers for Disease Control, and also that a border agent waved him into the U.S. knowing that his passport was flagged.

So, it's raising a lot of questions today. And to help us sort it all out, we're joined by New York City health commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden, expert in TB control.

Thanks so much for being with us.

One of the first things that we were wondering about this morning was the fact that his father-in-law -- I mean, this just comes out yesterday -- works at the CDC and specializes in dealing with tuberculosis.

Let's just listen quickly to what he said yesterday.


COOKSEY: As part of my job, I am regularly tested for TB. I do not have TB, nor have I ever had TB. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: What did you think when you found out?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, NYC HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Well, tuberculosis shouldn't surprise us. There are still millions of cases globally of tuberculosis in this country. We've brought it into much better control, but it remains a global epidemic. And we're seeing a lot of drug-resistant and very highly drug-resistant strains around the world.

CHETRY: Is it just coincidence? I mean, could it be that easy, a matter of coincidence that his father-in-law works at the CDC doing -- working with tuberculosis?

FRIEDEN: It is most likely is coincidence. I have actually worked with not that individual, but with the CDC lab. It's an extremely well-run lab. Unlikely to result in infections. But any time you work with TB, you have to be careful.

CHETRY: Now incidentally, you guys actually had to deal with this particular patient. He ended up coming to New York City.

Explain what went on there.

FRIEDEN: Everything from our perspective worked well in this particular case. We were promptly notified from CDC that the individual was on his way to New York City. We ensured that he was immediately put into an isolation room at a public hospital when he got here.

He stayed there for 72 hours in a room that's specially designed so that it can't spread. We then escorted him out in a specially designed van that we have for just such incidents, which is essentially a portable isolation room. It protects the driver and it has an isolation unit in the back to clean the air.

CHETRY: The interesting thing -- and this is what his father-in- law, Dr. Cooksey, said -- is that I wouldn't let my daughter be around him if I thought he was dangerous, if I thought that, you know, she could possibly get this drug-resistant strain of TB. He was planning on getting married, people were coming to his wedding, including his father-in-law, who understands tuberculosis.

So are we making too much of this? Is he not really that contagious?

FRIEDEN: It doesn't appear that he's likely to be contagious, because there aren't a lot of bacteria in what he's coughing up, and he doesn't have a lot of symptoms. Generally, tuberculosis spreads when you cough or sing or sneeze and spread bacteria. Another reason why it is really important to cover your mouth when you cough.

At the same time, he has a strain that is very highly resistant. Even garden variety TB takes six months to cure. Drug-resistant strains can take two years or more, and sometimes we're not able to cure them. So it's right to be careful, and that's what the CDC is doing in this case.

CHETRY: What does this whole episode tell you about our preparedness as a country?

FRIEDEN: We need to do better at protecting ourselves by protecting the world against tuberculosis. We're all connected by the air we breathe.

In the 1980s, we had a resurgence of tuberculosis in New York City and nationally because we let down our guard. We didn't ensure that TB patients got the care and services they needed to complete treatment so they wouldn't develop drug-resistant TB and spread it to others.

Now in the world there's a lot of drug-resistant TB in parts of Tibet, in parts of the world all over, in Africa. Unless we do a better job of controlling it there, we are inevitably going to see some of it here. We're all connected by the air we breathe.

CHETRY: New York City health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Frieden.

Thanks for your time this morning.

FRIEDEN: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Dr. Jack Kevorkian is back on the streets. Some "Quick Hits" for you now.

The man known as "Dr. Death" will be released from prison today in Michigan after serving more than eight years of a 10 to 25-year sentence. He says he helped at least 130 people end their lives from 1990 to 1998. Kevorkian says he'll never again help another person in an assisted suicide.

And police in St. Paul, Minnesota, say they seized a ton of marijuana inside a 21-ton shipment of jawbreaker candies. Cops say it is their biggest bust ever, worth about $3 million on the streets.

The amazing Spider-Man is back, and we're not talking about in theaters. The real-life Spider-Man has struck again. We'll tell you where coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Twenty-four minutes after the hour now.

Harry Potter is taking on Mickey Mouse. "Quick Hits" for you now. It's the battle of the mouse against the wand.

Universal Orlando resort is opening up a Harry Potter theme park. Kids will be able to go to Hogwarts and many other famous places in the "Harry Potter" books. It opens in 2009.

And a real-life Spider-Man strikes again. French daredevil Alain Robert scaled the world's fourth tallest building, the 88-story Jinmao Tower in China. He was arrested as soon as he climbed back down. But Robert has now climbed over 65 buildings.

CHETRY: Pretty cool.

Well, it's always been part of the mystery, which Springfield is the Springfield, home of "The Simpsons"?


HARRY SHEARER, NED FLANDERS, "THE SIMPSONS": Look at that. You can see the four states that border Springfield -- Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky.



CHETRY: Well, now that the Simpsons movie is coming out, there is a competition to see which of the 30-plus Springfield's across the nation will actually get a chance to host the premier.

They're turning it into a big contest, and AMERICAN MORNING'S Lola Ogunnaike joins us now to tell us more about this.

Now, are all the cities playing?

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not all of the cities. Only 14 are competing, but it is real competition, and they're going all out.

Twentieth Century Fox sent out kits with Simpson paraphernalia and a Sony Handycam. And they want these people to shoot a three-to- five-minute video about why they should be the Springfield that hosts the premier of the Simpsons' movie.

CHETRY: Now, we're showing Springfield, Massachusetts. Are they the ones that said they didn't want to be part of it?

OGUNNAIKE: No, they want to be a part of it.

CHETRY: They want to be a part of it.

OGUNNAIKE: They absolutely want to be a part of it.

CHETRY: There was another Springfield -- oh, Springfield, Missouri, says they're not competing.

OGUNNAIKE: Exactly. No, Springfield, Missouri, is competing.

CHETRY: Oh, they are, too.

OGUNNAIKE: Minnesota didn't want to be a part of it.


OGUNNAIKE: There are so many Springfields. I'm from Springfield, Virginia. Don't worry about it. CHETRY: Yes.

OGUNNAIKE: I don't even know if they're competing, which is scary.

CHETRY: You've got to find out if your hometown...


OGUNNAIKE: Exactly. My hometown. Springfield, Virginia, wherever I'm from.

Anyway, Springfield -- thank you for that. Springfield, Mass., wants to be involved in it. And, in fact, they say that they deserve it, because on the show there is a bridge that connects West Springfield and East Springfield, and in Massachusetts there is the same thing. So that's a clue.

CHETRY: That's pretty cool. But they also have to show that they're the most Simpsonish, I guess you could say, of all the cities.

How do they do that?

OGUNNAIKE: And the videos definitely -- and they're using their creativity, and it's become this community-building effort. Everyone has become involved, and it's been a really great theme for them.

And all these little Springfields that no one has ever heard of are getting calls form around the country and around the world. So it's been a great P.R. stunt for them, as well.

CHETRY: And I guess we all get to pick, because these videos then get put up online.

OGUNNAIKE: You get to vote online.

CHETRY: And then the American public votes.

OGUNNAIKE: You get to vote online, exactly. So, who knows?

CHETRY: When do we find out? At the movie?

OGUNNAIKE: Well, the final submissions are due in late June, and the movie comes out in late July. So we'll know soon enough.

Hold your horses, Kiran. It's coming.

CHETRY: We'll see if Springfield, Virginia, gets it, because it's -- I'm rooting for you and your hometown.

All right. Lola Ogunnaike, thanks so much.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Twenty-seven minutes now after the hour. Some "Quick Hits" for you. Our top story on, questions about how tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker got past U.S. Customs without being stopped. The House Homeland Security Committee will hold hearings on that topic next week.

Also on making a living off of LEGOs. Nathan Sawaya quit his job as a lawyer to become a LEGO artist. He uses the plastic blocks to make all sorts of sculptures, even creating a functioning air-conditioner. Nathan is about to take his work on a national tour.

That's a whole new level of LEGO right there.

Some amazing comments from the head of NASA. He was talking about climate change. What he had to say about it might shock you.

That story coming up next.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It is Friday, June 1st. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Thanks for being with us this morning. We have a lot of stories on our radar that we're going to be talking about. One is the new developments overnight in the tuberculosis scare, the affected man, Andrew Speaker, talking a little bit more about what happened saying he's sorry, saying that he has proof the Feds gave him the green light to travel and also his family connection to a tuberculosis lab at the CDC.

ROBERTS: Is that just an amazing irony?

CHETRY: Very bizarre.

ROBERTS: Unbelievable, also the spelling bee, the annual spelling bee wrapped up last night, the winning word serrefine. We're going to meet the big winner a little bit later on. There were some fun moments, as well as in this case it was proven that sardoodledom (ph) is an awfully funny word.

CHETRY: And there he is laughing, a little bit of levity in a very tense night, I mean the pressure.

ROBERTS: He spelled it right though.

CHETRY: He sure did.

ROBERTS: How would you spell sardoodledom?

CHETRY: It actually was the most phonetic of all of them that I've seen. I just don't know, does it end in an e-m or o-m?


CHETRY: All right, might have gotten it wrong. We're also hearing this morning from Andrew Speaker. He's the man infected with tuberculosis, the one that sparked this entire international scare and he insists that the CDC never expressly told him not to fly. Speaker also says he doesn't know how he got TB but that his father-in-law, who was a tuberculosis researcher at the CDC says, it did not come from him. Speaker is now in a specialized hospital in Denver for treatment. Our Sanjay Gupta keeping a close watch on the story joins us live from Washington now. Good to see you this morning, Sanjay.


CHETRY: So just so many bizarre turns in this, but the first thing, he says he can prove that the CDC never told him not to fly. What do you make of that?

GUPTA: I'll tell you what, I've been sort of following the story with everybody else for a few days now, talking to lots of different doctors about this, as well. I think that there are definitely a lot of different messages out there and I think it shows just that there's not a consistent message with regards to tuberculosis and especially XDR tuberculosis. You would like to think that every doctor in every hospital in every institution is going to tell a patient the exact same thing and it's just not the case here and I think we've seen that.

I interviewed a patient yesterday, Kiran, who said to me that as soon as he went to his doctor and told him that he was on the plane, the doctor immediately put the guy in temporary quarantine, as well which is just not how that should have been handled. So it's one of these things where I don't know if we'll ever know for sure. I don't know what these tape show and I haven't heard these tapes. But I imagine there are a lot of different messages being given. There is what is called latent tuberculosis and active tuberculosis. Active tuberculosis is the contagious kind, the kind that where you cough or sneeze you're putting that bacteria out in the air. It's the kind that when you do a smear test or a sputum test, you actually see the bacteria. We're hearing he didn't have either of those criteria, so maybe he had more of a latent tuberculosis which is less contagious.

CHETRY: So that's where it's even more intriguing, because according to some of the things he said, he said he repeatedly asked his doctors, is my family at risk? He was going ahead and planning a wedding. His father-in-law understands tuberculosis, works with tuberculosis at the CDC and was OK with his daughter getting married and going away on a honeymoon. So it just raises questions about whether or not this is overblown.

GUPTA: I think it does and I think it shows that there is a lack of experience with specifically this extensively drug resistant tuberculosis. There's only been about 50 cases in the last 13 years so no one can say anything for sure. We can't say that this is for sure someone will have an absolute contagious experience as a result of X, Y or Z. But I think they just don't know. It was interesting, I was just watching the interview with him as well. The interviewer was wearing a mask, his wife was sitting right next to him not wearing a mask. I mean even that, just that one picture alone shows you that there's still some misunderstandings about exactly whether or not he's contagious and just how contagious he might be.

CHETRY: That's right and then also you throw in the strange word that his father-in-law actually works with tuberculosis and is a researcher of tuberculosis at the CDC. Apparently they've been doing some testing and said it's not the same strain.

GUPTA: As a doctor myself, I mean, you get tested every year. I have to get tested in order to be able to work in a hospital. As a TB researcher, I think you get tested even more often. He's come out and said listen, I've been tested probably more than just about anybody else. I don't have TB, so, I certainly didn't give it to him. That does make sense to me. Remember, this is not spread by casual contact. It's not like he could have had it on his hands and then shook hands with the son-in-law or something like that and transmitted it that way. So I think he's probably not the carrier here.

CHETRY: The mystery goes on. We'll continue to follow it today. Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thirty five minutes after the hour, are we prepared? Today marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season and forecasters predict a busy year, up to 10 storms possible, a few of those major hurricanes. Tampa is one of the most vulnerable cities in the country. Experts say if a big storm hits there, we could have another New Orleans on our hands. Rob Marciano is in Tampa this morning where he joins us live. Rob, are they ready for hurricane season?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Oh, they're as prepared as they can be, John. The last time they had a major hurricane take a direct hit at Tampa was back in 1921. They had 135,000 people at the time. Now they have over 3 million in this particular area. The northeast part of the bay, this is a huge expanse of water and at the very edge of, the head of the bay is Tampa, the city itself, a long, shallow body of water very susceptible to storm surge. Pictures downtown show you some of the buildings, businesses, hotels, hospitals, all connected by low-lying crisscrossing bridges. So you can imagine just how vulnerable it is.

Last week they ramped through an exercise. What do you do if a cat 3 comes through? Emergency officials got together and figured out we could have 80,000 people instantly homeless. What do you do? We walked around with Larry Gispert. He's the manager of the emergency operation center and he showed us in a worse-case scenario just how high the water could get.


LARRY GISPERT, DIR, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY EMERGENCY MGMT: They could have 22, 24 feet of water. I would recommend or suggest that the water might get as far up as the flat portion of the roof of that building, the portion of the building sticking out and as you can see over here. these two spans of bridges are even lower than that. So they're definitely going to be overtopped and inundated and probably knocked off their foundations. So they'll probably be months putting those bridges back together.

MARCIANO: The hospital could be stranded for months.

GISPERT: That hospital could be stranded for months.


MARCIANO: And then you got Pinellas County on the other side of the bay, that's where St. Petersburg is. A million people live there and if a major hurricane were to came this way, over 600,000 people would have to evacuate over long, low-lying causeways and there's only three of them getting out of Penelas County, much like New Orleans, a lot of those people could be stranded because those bridges and causeways need to be shut down once those winds get to tropical storm force. Been over 80 years, John, since a major hurricane took a hit here in Tampa, but it's possible and some say they're overdue, hopefully it won't happen this year but they are preparing if it does. Back to you.

ROBERTS: It's all a matter of averages. They're going to get hit one of these days. Rob Marciano for us down there in Tampa Bay, thanks very much Rob.

President Bush is taking a new proposal to limit greenhouse gases to the G-8 summit next week. At the same time the president's head of NASA, Michael Griffin downplayed global warming in an interview with NPR.


MICHAEL GRIFFIN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: I have no doubt that global, that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change.


ROBERTS: Griffin also said he thinks it's arrogant for certain people to decide that the current climate is the best one.

CHETRY: Quick, can you spell serrefine?

ROBERTS: Yes. Because it's written right there.

CHETRY: There's a 13-year-old from California and he can do it without the help of the teleprompter. He is now the national spelling bee champ.


EVAN O'DORNEY: Serrefine. S-e-r-r-e-f-i-n-e.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are correct. You're the champion.


CHETRY: Congratulations, Evan O'Dorney, 13 years old. He knew how to spell the winning word. He says it's a noun describing small forceps. He says as soon as he was asked to spell it he knew. He wins $30,000 in cash, a $5,000 college scholarship and a few other things for winning the 80th annual Scripts Howard spelling bee. Evan says that he won despite missing what had become his pre-spelling bee ritual which was eating a tuna fish sandwich from Subway. He's going to be joining us live in our next hour to talk more about how great it feels to be the victor this morning.

ROBERTS: He looks like the sort of kid who would win a spelling bee championship, doesn't he?

CHETRY: He looks very smart and very composed. He wasn't shocked when he won.

ROBERTS: A fourth state now legalizing same-sex civil unions. Quick hits for you now, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed the law allowing same sex couples to apply for the same rights as married people. The law takes effect in January.

Commuters in Pittsburgh can use three major tunnels this morning but last night's rush hour could only be described as a nightmare. Police closed the three tunnels because of a bomb threat. 100,000 drivers use those tunnels every week day.

How safe are we if a man with a dangerous case of tuberculosis can slip across our borders so easily?

And will the new immigration reform bill fix the problem? We'll ask the outspoken Laura Ingraham about that next. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


ROBERTS: Forty three minutes after the hour. We have been telling you how easily Andrew Speaker got into the United States. Border agent waved him through, even though he knew that Speaker was wanted by health officials. So what does this case tell us about the security of our borders and what might it say about the immigration bill now being discussed in Congress? Radio host and author Laura Ingraham is with us. Her new book "Power of the People" comes out in September. So Laura, what does this case tell us about border security and what might it say about what would happen if the new immigration bill gets passed?

LAURA INGRAHAM, "SHUT UP AND SING": I don't think it's very encouraging for people who care about health-care related issues, health-related issues, health scares in the United States. I mean, if a homeland security official allows this guy to pass through, what is happening when we have several hundred thousand people a year still streaming across our borders with absolutely no check? I mean, we have no idea who is coming in and we have no idea what diseases they may or may not be carrying and I think that is just one of the many issues, John, as you guys have talked about on your show a lot that are involved in this immigration issue. Beyond the physical and national security issues, I think we've really swept under the rug the health- related issues.

ROBERTS: I want it play a little bit of what President Bush said about his immigration bill as he was down in Georgia promoting it on Tuesday. Take a quick listen and we'll get you to react to it.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to kill the bill, you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it. You can use it to frighten people or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all.


ROBERTS: What do you think about Laura, the fact that he says that opponents of this bill are opposed to what's right for America?

INGRAHAM: If one little aspect of the bill is the border, then I guess the president is right. But I think one little aspect is how you actually certify that the border is enforced. John, to certify that the border is enforced in this bill, which I hope the president has read, all you require, all it requires is that the president certify that the border's enforced, that the money has been allocated to hiring these new people and it's been allocated toward the border. George Will said it best, if that actually holds, then we should say that Iraq is democratized because we spent the money there.

ROBERTS: He seems to suggest that critics of the bill such as yourself are unpatriotic.

INGRAHAM: It's absurd. I think it was a bad, tactical decision for him to say that. The way to get people on your side is not to insult them, especially people in the conservative movement, who worked tirelessly to get him re-elected. The president has been consistent on supporting this. You have to give him credit on that. I've never questioned his motives in pushing for this type of comprehensive reform. But to insult his base, I mean, I hope he thinks he's going to be saved by the liberal elites at CNN, John, because if he is, then I'll be wrong about this. But I think it's kind of silly.

ROBERTS: Excuse me, what was that last comment?

INGRAHAM: By the way, John, how did you introduce me for this segment before the break. The outspoken Laura Ingraham. Do you guys introduce liberal commentators that way? I'm going to check.

ROBERTS: Yeah, we do actually.

INGRAHAM: OK, I'm going to check that.

ROBERTS: Are you denying that you're outspoken Laura? INGRAHAM: No, why would you say that?

ROBERTS: I just think that we're appropriately characterizing you.

INGRAHAM: OK, got it.

ROBERTS: You're definitely outspoken. You were outspoken about immigration on Wednesday's show.

INGRAHAM: How about radio talk show host and author. That's quite effective.

ROBERTS: This isn't about a disagreement between you and I. This is about you and your views here. Mitt Romney's coming up on your show today.


ROBERTS: I wonder what you think about Fred Thompson getting into the race. Is he a better idea than he is a candidate?

INGRAHAM: Someone said that to me the other day. He said, is Fred Thompson the political equivalent of the Internet bubble? Is there a lot of irrational exuberance around Thompson? I think that's a legitimate question. But Fred Thompson does have gravitas. He's a new face in this race and he brings, John to the table, this idea that Washington and the political system is disconnected from the people. The people that go to the polls, the people in the heartland, the working class people, that is a powerful message. If he addresses that message with really substantive policy that connects with the people, I think he has a real shot in this race.

ROBERTS: All right, Laura Ingraham, as always, thanks for being with us, appreciate it.

INGRAHAM: Never outspoken.

ROBERTS: I somehow think that you and I will be exchanging e- mails later on this morning.

INGRAHAM: Yes we will John.

ROBERTS: Appreciate it.

INGRAHAM: Take care.

CHETRY: All right now some quick hits. The Coast Guard taking six people, including two children on a 65-foot yacht (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTS: Microphone not working. This boat, they don't know why it was starting to sink, but apparently no one was hurt, but some pretty dramatic pictures there. Look at this, this 65-foot boat just going down under the water.

Take a look at this odd lobster. It looks like it's half cooked or been out in the sun too long. The two tone crustacean was caught by fishermen off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island.

And a popular online dating site is not clicking with everyone. Why some folks say e-harmony is not the place to find a love match. More on that when we come back. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


CHETRY: "Atlantis" is cleared for launch. Some quick hits now, the space shuttle set to lift off June 8th. "Atlantis'" launch was delayed after a hail storm damaged a fuel tank.

Youtube is the new home of that television station taken off of the air by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The station now uploads its daily newscast to the popular video website. Thousands of people took to the streets in Venezuela earlier this week protesting the station's removal from the air.

A woman in California taking on match making company e-harmony, taking them to court actually. E-harmony does not allow users to target members of the same sex and she says it violates California's discrimination laws.

The beginning of hurricane season means planes at the ready in Florida. Military planes fly deep into the hurricanes and bring back important forecasting information. They take off from Macdill Air Force base near Tampa. Mario Diaz from our affiliate WTSP in Tampa is at Macdill for us with a closer look. One of those planes behind you, those are the ones that fly into the hurricane?

MARIO DIAZ, WTSP CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Kiran. This is actually Kermit behind me. Interesting enough all the planes here at hangar number five at Macdill Air Force base are named after Muppets characters. You see that one right there, the G4. That is Gonzo. Miss Piggy is actually behind our photojournalist right now. She kind of going a makeover of sorts. Mechanics will be on her on all.

How do they get this information? You see that radar over here, the black one. That is actually called the M&M radar. It's the lower fuselage radar. It actually drops about 18 inches during the course of flight. The flights can last up to 10 hours and they what they do is they dissect into the heart of the eye of the hurricane about eight times. You can see on the back of the tail you have the Doppler radar system and over here underneath the belly, it shows the history of all the hurricanes that this plane, Kermit, has endured.

Now there's been a lot of reports of late about NOAA cutting back on its flights. The situation is this. They are going to be cutting back a little bit on the flights, but they're going to be doing more work. So basically, it's a push for everyone involved. But come hurricane season it's 24/7 inside this hangar. As you can see inside, it is a flying laboratory. It's about $100 million just for the plane but the information inside of here is priceless with all these seats in which the information is gathered and how they get that information, with one of these, a (INAUDIBLE). It is shot through the back and it's sent back to National Hurricane Center. Joining me now is Lt. Commander Peter Siegel, a navigator for NOAA, 17 storms are predicted this year. You hear that kind of number, what goes through your mind?

LT. CMDR. PETER SIEGEL, NOAA NAVIGATOR: Two things, I'm excited because I really enjoy the flying. I enjoy working with the team that we have to fly with, but apprehensive as well. I don't want to bring my work home with me. I don't care if the storms hit Florida or anywhere in the United States.

DIAZ: Hopefully you won't have to bring too much of your work home with you this season. One interesting note here about hurricanes is this, is that a tropical storm is actually easier for the pilots to fly in than a hurricane. Here's why. See this plate of spaghetti, everything is completely formed there. So you actually have an idea where the winds are going. They're not all messed up. When the tropical storm and depression forms, you have this, a whole bunch of winds going in all different directions. It is definitely something that for many, unfortunately, with the hurricanes is an appetite for destruction.

CHETRY: All right, Mario Diaz, thanks for that.

AMERICAN MORNING will be back in just a moment.

ROBERTS: Certain death at 4,000 feet. A jumper's parachute and backup both fail. How did he survive? The jumper's miraculous story next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Fifty eight minutes now after the hour, Ali Velshi here and "Minding your Business" and Starbucks slimming down.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not a Starbucks guy but I'm told this is a grande slim chai (ph) latte. OK, so Starbucks is now the default milk when you go to get one of these things is going to be 2 percent milk as opposed to whole milk. You can still ask for skim milk or whole milk or soy milk or organic milk or whatever it is you people ask for, but this is going to be the basic one. Researcher at Starbucks shows that people want low-fat milk in their lattes. The switch is going to eliminate 30 calories in a tall or whatever that is.

CHETRY: Tall is the smallest.

VELSHI: OK, so tall and grandes, you're going to have 30 calories less and in the venti (ph) you're going to save more. Now if you drink one cup of coffee a day that means in a year you'll save the calories equivalent of two pounds.

CHETRY: Milk is not the problem, it's all the sugar.

VELSHI: Just so you know, you'll lose two pounds a year if you drink one of these a day with the new milk. But you know what, 2 pounds, a guy like me could make all the difference. The switch is not going to affect the price of the coffees. It's still going to be expensive (INAUDIBLE) free stuff in the kitchen right behind us.

CHETRY: That's good too actually.

VELSHI: It's fine, keeps me up. (INAUDIBLE) knew more about Starbucks (INAUDIBLE) you guys are going to get cheaper, less fat.

CHETRY: All right, two pounds a year, we're on a roll. Ali, thanks.

VELSHI: The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING begins right now.

ROBERTS: The TB scare and homeland security. Outrage over a border guard who waved in the TB patient he knew was wanted by health officials.


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