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Chemical Samples Discovered in U.N. Office; Chicago Bank Hostages Released

Aired August 30, 2007 - 15:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the poison gas samples were supposed to be sent to a lab for analysis. Eleven years later, they're gingerly removed from a U.N. office in New York. No risk, say the feds, but good riddance.
Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN Center in Atlanta. And you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A startling discovery at a U.N. office in New York, samples of potentially dangerous chemical agents collected in Iraq in the 1990s.

CNN senior United Nations correspondent Richard Roth reports.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: We're here outside the offices of the U.N. Weapons Inspector Agency for Iraq. It's just yards from the official U.N. headquarter building.

Inside that building, suspicious vials containing chemical agents were discovered Friday. And today it was revealed by U.N. authorities. Now, a crowd of media has gathered, journalists, also arriving here, government agents carrying (INAUDIBLE) canisters to take away the vials believed to be headed to a government lab.

The FBI says there is no threat to the general public at this time. A spokesman for the U.N. Weapons Inspections Agency, Ewen Buchanan, told me how everything was discovered.

EWEN BUCHANAN, U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTIONS AGENCY: We're in the process of winding up the organization. We have been going through our vast archive. And somebody was going through boxes of documents or what was presumed to be boxes of documents from the Muthanna State Establishment, Iraq's old chemical weapons site.

And they noticed a couple of plastic bags with some objects inside them. And, so, in accordance with our standard safety procedures, if you don't know what they are, the first thing you do is secure them. And so they were secured, wrapped up, and put in a safe for safekeeping.

And then we later found the inventory of this material that had come from Muthanna from -- this was way back in 1996. And it seems that the high likelihood is that the two things are, indeed, a canister, a small thing about the size of a soda can of phosgene, which is a chemical warfare agent. ROTH: The chemical agent in question is called phosgene. It's described as a choking agent.

The U.N. weapons inspectors were in the process of going through their entire inventory, because the Security Council has, in effect, voted them out of existence. They are no longer needed in Iraq. So, there are a 1,000 feet of files according to U.N. to go through.

Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: All right, let's talk more about phosgene.

Elizabeth Cohen, our medical correspondent, telling us more about the effects of it.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it is a seriously dangerous chemical.

In World War I, Kyra, it killed more than any other chemical agent. For example, God forbid if someone at the U.N. had somehow dropped one of these vials or they had broken in some way. Anyone standing right there would have been inhaled a high concentration, and just a brief exposure at a high concentration can be fatal.

And even people who would have been standing further away could have had severe lung problems from inhaling even a low concentration. It's interesting that something that is this toxic actually apparently smells pretty good. Apparently, it smells like freshly mowed hay.

So, sometimes you might be -- somebody might be exposed to this in a terrible situation and not even realize that it's that toxic.

PHILLIPS: What happens if they would have dropped a vial?

COHEN: What would they have done?

Well, there is no antidote, so there's nothing anybody could have given them at that time. What you do in that situation is, you get into fresh air as soon as you can. You get your clothes off as quickly as you can, wash your entire body, put the clothes into double bags, and you go to a hospital. And they can't give you an antidote, but they can certainly give you some help in case you start developing any medical problems.

PHILLIPS: And, if someone did inhale this, would they know immediately or would it take time?

COHEN: If it was at a high enough concentration, if you right there when let's say one of these things exploded or something like that, you would know very quickly that you have this. Your eyes would burn. You would be nauseous. You would be vomiting.

Now, if you were farther away when that happened, you might not know immediately that you have been exposed to something so toxic. It might take up to 48 hours to have symptoms. But this isn't something -- sometimes you hear about exposure to horrible chemicals and it takes weeks to months or years to realize it. But that is not the situation here. This happens pretty quickly.

PHILLIPS: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: Getting word now of another Republican senator asking for the resignation of Senator Larry Craig, after arrested in a men's restroom in Minneapolis.

Word now out of Reno, Nevada, that Republican Senator John Ensign says that it would be best for the Senate and the GOP if Senator Larry Craig resigned, this coming from Republican Senator Ensign. He said -- he goes to say: "I wouldn't put myself hopefully in that kind of a position like that, but if I was in a position like that, I think that's what I would do. He's going to have to answer that for himself. I think the pressure will continue to build" -- another Republican senator coming forward, this time from Nevada, asking for the resignation of Senator Larry Craig.

A student's mental history not widely shared and warnings that -- well, that took too long. That's the new report on the Virginia Tech massacre that's showing that one of these things had been done differently, lives might have been saved, including that of a young man bent on murder and suicide.


GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: I have a strong feeling that the first time there was evidence of problem with Seung-Hui Cho, there would have been a review of those records and there would have been an awareness that we have a challenge here. We know that this student has some particular concerns, and we also can see that there are strategies that enable him to be successful.

But the absence of the record following the student compounded that second problem, the fact that the dots were not connected and signals were missed at Virginia Tech.


PHILLIPS: CNN's Brianna Keilar in Washington.

Brianna, the governor's not the only one commenting on the report. We were listening to the university president responding. We were able to follow it for a little bit at the time, but had to get on to other news. We were waiting for some good developments. Did you pick up on any as you listened to it as well?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, one of the parts that president Charles Steger responded to, in this report, we find out about Cho that he has this extensive mental health history, that even as early as 3 years old he was showing emotional problems. Then, in middle school, he was diagnosed with selective mutism and depression and then in high school he was actually on antidepressants for a while. Well, this record of Cho's mental health history did not accompany him to Virginia Tech. And we heard president Steger say that this put the school at a disadvantage because they didn't have this prior knowledge.

Now, even so, I should mention that this report points out many red flags, a number of them, red flag upon red flag that went up during the time that Cho was at Virginia Tech and this report does conclude that the university just did not respond effectively to that -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Brianna Keilar, live from Washington, appreciate it.

We want to get straight to the NEWSROOM now, developing news.

Fredricka Whitfield has all the details for us -- Fred.


Well, you know, you talked earlier about this situation at the First Commercial Bank on the North Side in Chicago, how at least six people were taken hostage by an alleged gunman. Well, now we're understanding from the Associated Press as well as from FBI sources, the AP is saying that this gunman may have gotten away now. And we understand from FBI sources that they are searching for the gunman in the vicinity.

The six reported hostages have been freed or at least they are now in police custody. All of them going through various security measures now to ensure that among those alleged hostages is not the gunman. So, how this all transpired, we're still unclear about all the details as to how this happened there on the North Side there in the Rogers Park area.

But right now, the standoff continues, meaning, there is still police presence in the neighborhood there and around that bank. Now they're just trying to sort out where this alleged gunman may be, whether he or she may still be in the building or whether that person has escaped and is somewhere in the vicinity.

And we understand there to be no reported injuries involving any of those hostages or those who are now freed hostages that we can speak of for now -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, we will follow it and the search for the gunman.

Thanks so much, Fred.

PHILLIPS: Let's take it now to the Pentagon. Apparently, the president -- we're getting word that he's going to be heading to the Pentagon tomorrow. Barbara Starr with the latest. Why is he headed there, Barbara?


Yes, the Pentagon made it official just a short time ago. President Bush will be here tomorrow. They are not telling us exactly what time. He is coming here to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to get their first recommendations on the situation in Iraq that we're anxiously awaiting, their recommendations about what to do about the surge, how long to maintain it, the impact of the surge on the troops, when the troops should be able to start coming home.

You know, this is the time period over the next several days, we're going to hear from everybody involved. There's going to be numerous reports, but the president will begin the process tomorrow when he comes here, when he goes to the tank, the secure meeting room, here in the Pentagon, sits down with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and begins to hear their recommendations about what to do. There will be many meetings. The president expected to make a decision some time in mid-September. The process really begins tomorrow -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, we will be all over it. Barbara Starr, thanks so much.

Two weeks in a North Carolina hospital. Now doctors say Billy Graham is out of the woods. Graham went home today, his intestinal bleeding treated and under control. Reverend Graham's doctors in Raleigh says that he will continue therapy at home and there's no reason that he shouldn't have a good recovery. Billy Graham is 88 years old.

A heart attack killed Richard Jewell, the Georgia man wrongly linked to a deadly bombing at the 1996 Summer Games, that finding just a short time ago from Georgia's chief medical examiner. A memorial service will be held for Jewell tomorrow in Atlanta. The 44-year-old former security guard died yesterday.

Jewell was initially seen as a hero who helped save people at the Olympic bombing, but he later became a person of interest. He was eventually exonerated and commended by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue at a ceremony last year.

Straight ahead, a study in smarts. How did one Alabama family get four kids into college by the age of 12? And they're not finished yet. The brainy bunch -- later in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And more proof that everything's bigger in Texas. Or are the spiders at this state park just teaming up for bigger hauls? In any case, look out. For all of you that are freaked out by spiders, this one will definitely make your skin crawl.


PHILLIPS: Well, it's 3:13 Eastern time right now. Here are three of the stories that we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM. An independent state panel says that Virginia Tech officials are partly to blame for last spring's campus carnage. It says the university did not connect the dots and missed disturbing signals regarding the gunman, and it should have warned students as soon as the shooting began.

Former North Carolina prosecutor Mike Nifong pleaded not guilty today. He's accused of hiding evidence that would have quickly cleared the defendants in the Duke University lacrosse team rape case.

And all the South Korean hostages in Afghanistan are now free. Taliban insurgents released the last seven hostages today after lengthy negotiations with the South Korean government.

Well, it's a holiday weekend and that means relaxation and leisure, only if you're not traveling by air. That's pretty much a guaranteed headache. So, you might want to start practicing your deep-breathing exercises right now, because lousy coffee, screaming kids and the little peanut packs, well, they may be the least of your worries.


MARION BLAKEY, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION ADMINISTRATOR: It obviously is a very important travel weekend we have got coming up. But here we are.

One of the worst summers on record for delays is now headed for aviation's history book. Total delays, total delays are up 19 percent from where they were last summer. And now Labor Day is just around the corner. One trade group predicts that we're going to have 15.7 million people taking to the skies for the last gasp of summer this weekend. That's an increase of almost 3 percent from last year. And that's a lot of people.


PHILLIPS: Well, the best advice for Labor Day fliers, you have heard it over and over again. Plan ahead. Give check-in and security plenty of time and keep your cool.

So will airline travel get any better?

CNN's Greg Hunter is at La Guardia Airport in New York.


GREG HUNTER, CNN CONSUMER CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How many times have you seen this while waiting to fly? At New York's La Guardia Airport, for example, there are just two runways for more than 1,000 flights a day in June. That means a plane is taking off or landing every two minutes. Lack of runway space is a nationwide problem. According to Barrett Byrnes, president of the Air Traffic Controllers Association.

(On camera): Your group asked the government to start building runways 10 years ago.

BARRETT BYRNES, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOC.: Correct. We asked them to build 50 miles of runway, per year, just to keep up with the potential demand we're seeing now.

HUNTER: Did they do it?

BYRNES: No, they didn't.

HUNTER (voice over): One that did? Atlanta's airport, the busiest airport in the country. Added a fifth runway last year. And officials say takeoff delays dropped by 78 percent. The FAA says it expects some relief when a new multi-billion dollar program called NextGen.


NARRATOR: NextGen is about the development of a satellite-based 21 century air transportation system.


HUNTER: It is designed to give pilots more information that will allows them to fly safely closer the each other, making air traffic more efficient. But it won't start until 2013. Meanwhile, the FAA says it plans to redesign air space in the busiest part of the world, New York City, hoping to reduce delays by 25 percent. Byrnes says that just won't fix the real problem.

BYRNES: La Guardia and Newark are at 100 percent capacity right now. That's why you are seeing three-hour delays on a consistent basis.

HUNTER: Because of the runways?

BYRNES: Because of the runways. Not enough runways, not enough places to put these airplanes.

HUNTER: The FAA disagrees and tells CNN its NextGen plan will be able to handle two to three times the traffic that they are currently handling.

(on camera): When the government does institute its NextGen system in 2013, they say it will double or triple the capacity. What that means to an airport like La Guardia, with just two runways right now, they have 1,000 flights a day taking off and landing every two minutes. If they just double it, that will be 2,000 flights a day landing or taking off every one minute.

Air traffic controllers I talked with says that's not only tight; it's impossible, because the system is maxed out.

Greg Hunter, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: Well, the caped crusader linked to candy factory blasts. Can't blame this one on the Riddler. We are going to read the Bat signals, straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Bank hostages released, a gunman on the loose.

Straight to Chicago, Illinois, and the FBI.


ROBERT GRANT, FBI: ... seen on that videotape until we can get him apprehended.

QUESTION: Did he slip in the back door?

GRANT: Yes, the approach was from the back door of the bank.

QUESTION: Is that be a door that would be typically available to members of the public?

GRANT: Generally, it's not available to members of the public. You're right.

QUESTION: Was he wearing anything? How did he get in?

QUESTION: What does that say to you, then?

GRANT: Well, obviously, there's going to be, as there is in any bank robbery situation, a bank, the bank employees, working with our police at the Chicago Police Department, and the FBI, we will talk about security procedures, maybe some retraining required, things like that. So, we will look at that and make some decisions. The bank will make some decisions as to whether they need to change procedures, change training.


GRANT: One at a time.

QUESTION: Did someone -- did he demand entry? Did somebody allow him in that...


GRANT: I don't want to go into a lot of details, because obviously there are going to be a lot of interviews that are going to be conducted. We want to apprehend him first. Our most immediate need right now is to locate him and get him into custody.

QUESTION: Sir, do you have a suspect description?

GRANT: We have a suspect description, but we are going to not give that out to the public at this point.

QUESTION: Was he wearing a painter's smock or mask?

GRANT: Not going to go that -- that much detail. Sorry.

QUESTION: Do you know what he was armed with?


GRANT: We believe he -- we know what he was armed with. But, in any bank robbery, we do not like to talk too much about the specific details of a weapon, because some offenders will get rid of the weapon. So, we have details, but we are not going to share it with the public at this time.


QUESTION: ... when the employees fled, that he left with them, and did he get anything from the vault or drawers...


GRANT: It's too early to say on both those counts. Right now we do not believe any money was taken. But we don't know that for sure until we complete the evidence response inside the bank and the bank has a chance to evaluate all their moneys.


QUESTION: We heard that he fired a shot.

I'm sorry, we heard that he fired a shot. Can you say...


GRANT: I can't confirm that.


QUESTION: How long in there...


GRANT: Don't know. Can't tell you. If I knew that, I would know when he got out.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what the timeline is?

GRANT: I'm sorry, ma'am?

QUESTION: At what point in the incident did you realize that he had escaped?

GRANT: I don't think we came to the conclusion that he escaped until we completed the entire sweep. There are many cases in which bank robbers and other robbers have secreted themselves very quietly banks, inside other institutions. Until you complete the entire sweep, you're never confident that they are not there. And that's what today was about.

It was about doing a thorough sweep of that entire bank. Every nook and cranny of that building was searched to make sure he was not there.

QUESTION: Rob, do you have substantive leads as to who this fellow is?

GRANT: We have good information that we're going to act on. We have good leads. I think we will follow them up. And I don't want to go into any more details than that.

QUESTION: Is the community in any danger?

QUESTION: Can you just go through the order of the event this morning?


GRANT: I'm sorry?


QUESTION: There were a number of people who left at one point. And then I heard that the suspect asked the bank president to go to the vault. And then the president said, you know, you guys -- like, I have heard different things.

Can you walk us through how...


GRANT: Well, as you hear different things, as we interview 35 people, we hear different things. And, eventually, we have to sit that all down and say -- and recreate exactly what happened. Just like you hear stories about shots fired, you hear stories about different things, that we're in the process now of collecting all that evidence and making a final determination. So, I don't want to put out exactly what happened.

QUESTION: Did all the employees leave together at the same time?


QUESTION: How many hostages...


GRANT: Somebody down here had a question.

QUESTION: Is the community in any danger?

GRANT: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Is the community in any danger, with the suspect walking around? GRANT: Well, oh, obviously I think anybody that's going to rob a bank is considered armed and dangerous. And that's the way this person should be considered, is armed and dangerous.

QUESTION: We heard that there was a young man still inside of a restroom in the very end of it, still hiding. Is that true? Can you say anything about that at all?

GRANT: We searched the entire building from top to bottom. We're confident that there's nobody else in that building.


QUESTION: Mr. Grant, how many hostages were there?

QUESTION: Rob, can you through a brief timeline?

QUESTION: We have heard different numbers. How many hostages were there?

GRANT: How many hostages? I don't know, because we don't know exactly how many or if there were any hostages.

Obviously, the response to this was bank robbery, hostages. Appropriate response was taken to the scene. Appropriate attempts were made to clear the scene. At the end of the day, he's not in there. There's no hostages in there at this point, so we're not really sure how many, how long or when.

QUESTION: Was an alarm sounded from within the bank (OFF-MIKE)

GRANT: I don't have that detail personally.


QUESTION: I'm sorry, can you say what -- how important, what your assessment was of the robotics? Give us a sense of how you used that. Can you go into any of that detail?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, as we have these type of situations, a joint team of FBI, SWAT and Chicago Police SWAT, with the use of a robot, went in there to do a complete search of the building to ensure that, number one, there were no more employees or hostages in the building, and also to ensure that the offender was not in the building.

So, the robot is just part of the equipment that we use in order to ensure the safety and the clearance of that building.

QUESTION: Did the robot go in first before your officers went in?

GRANT: Well, actually, our officers were in part of the bank. But we then -- to make sure that we did a complete search, we then sent a robot in, and then we also sent dogs in. QUESTION: And it sounded as if the live feed from the helicopter into the command center provided some important information, or was at least...


GRANT: Well, we use -- we use all of our resources. And one of the resources that we use is a helicopter. So, all of the resources that we have in conjunction with our partnership with the FBI, was used.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question, please.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say that there -- you do have surveillance cameras (OFF-MIKE) those cameras, you are now studying (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are studying not only tape, but also evidence that is available.

And until we -- as Rob Grant said, until we are able to complete our briefing of all the individuals that were inside the bank, with our evidence, then we will be able to come back with a better determination as to what actually happened.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Rob, thank you.

PHILLIPS: A gunman still on the loose in the city of Chicago, Illinois, after he attempted to rob a bank. He held hostages, let those hostages go.

Now the Chicago police still looking for that suspect. They believe they have a good description of him. We will let you know how that goes.

Also, Fredricka Whitfield working details on a developing story in the NEWSROOM, more on that former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak. Remember that she got caught up in that bit of a wacky love triangle, wouldn't you say, Fred?


WHITFIELD: I was just going to fill in the blank for you. But since you used the word wacky, that's OK. Love triangle, yes.

Well, after appearing in court and trying to appeal to the judge that she wanted to have that ankle bracelet removed because it was uncomfortable, it caused some chafing there on her leg, apparently the judges has agreed to go ahead and have that ankle bracelet removed. You're seeing some pictures right now of what it looks like after what he calls seven months of good behavior.

However, there's still a condition in place. She, Lisa Nowak, is not to be anywhere close to, have no contact whatsoever with the other participants of that love triangle, as you spoke of, Kyra, Colleen Shipman, who was the alleged victim and the former astronaut Bill Oefelein, who was also part of that love triangle, making up the three now of that little tryst there.

Well, so, now she's getting a break, Lisa Nowak is, so, not having to wear the ankle bracelet, but still some limitations in place. She's got to keep her distance from all the folks involved -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Fred, thanks.

Well, straight ahead: a study in smarts. How did one Alabama family get four kids into college by the age of 12? Oh, and they're not finished yet. The brainy bunch -- later in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone.

I'm Kyra Phillips live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

The drumbeat grows louder within the GOP -- a growing number of Republican lawmakers call for Senator Larry Craig to resign and the anger's not confined to Capitol Hill. A new poll of registered voters in Idaho shows that 55 percent think Craig should step down.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM".

One more Senator to add to the list, this time out of Nevada. Senator John Ensign calls for the resignation of Senator Larry Craig after that sex scandal in a Minneapolis airport. We continue to follow the list of political leaders stepping forward and asking for his resignation.

Well, Apple is set for another big announcement and it could be music to the ears of technology fans.

Susan Lisovicz, finally, gets to talk about the iCar.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've been trying to talk about this story for some time now -- Kyra.

First, we're going to talk about the special announcement. Apple shares rallying in advance of what the company calls a special event next Wednesday. And the rumor mill rife with speculation that the news is about a new iPod. The eVice, according to multiple reports say, the beat goes on. That's a clue.

Analysts and fan sites are predicting a smaller device with more storage capacity and possibly even a touch screen like that on the recently debuted iPhone. And they say Apple will use the same operating system it uses on its personal computers. Getting users comfortable with the software could help Apple reach its goal of turning more iPod users into Mac users and help the bottom line. It helps the shareholders, too, I would imagine -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, this has been quite a big year for Apple.

LISOVICZ: It sure has.

And here it is, Kyra.

We already have the iPhone. We're about to get the new computer operating system called Leopard.

How about the iCar?

Volkswagen confirms that its CEO met with Apple chief Steve Jobs in California this week to discuss ways the two could further work together. Volkswagen's spokesperson says there are a lot of ideas, but that it's too early to talk about a car just yet. The two companies already have worked together to offer car hookups for iPods.

Electronics increasingly becoming a selling point for selling cars, with Ford and Microsoft debuting an option this fall that eases the ability to listen to digital music and reading text messages aloud. You can actually do it by touching your steering wheel or hearing your voice -- voice recognition. That's what driving is all about in the 21st century.


PHILLIPS: Susan, you're going to love the next story, so stay tuned.

LISOVICZ: Yes. I'm listening.

PHILLIPS: All right.

A lot of parents firmly believe that their kids are the smartest and most talented that they've ever seen, right?

But some parents want to make sure they maximize the abilities of their little geniuses.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more on the schools that cater to the brainiacs.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's the Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra and its concertmaster, Misha Raffiee, not only a first class violinist, she's not bad at the piano. And with an I.Q. North of 160, she's quickly outpaced her classmates at one of Reno's best private schools.

The message from her teachers -- slow down.

MISHA RAFFIEE, PRODIGY: I was told that I shouldn't ask as many questions. I felt that my learning was being held back.

GUPTA: But then the Davidson Academy opened its doors to 36 students from around the United States and as far as away as Australia. Everyone here has an I.Q. Higher than 160, or the equivalent on another achievement test. Only about one person in 10,000 has an I.Q. That high.

The academy is the brainchild of Jan and Bob Davidson, entrepreneurs who made a fortune selling educational software, like Math Blaster.

BOB DAVIDSON, CO-FOUNDER, DAVIDSON INST.: I think there's been kind of a hang-up on what we call age-based education -- that if you're six, you learn this; if you're seven you learn that; if you're eight, et cetera. But that's probably what needs to be rethinked.

GUPTA: At Davidson, each student has their own curriculum. For some 12-year-olds, calculus. For Misha, three languages. Older students are also taking courses at the University of Nevada Reno.

ELLEN WINNER, PSYCHOLOGIST: They learn in different ways. They're not just faster, they're different.

GUPTA: Ellen Winner is a Boston psychologist who studies gifted children.

WINNER: They think in unusual ways. They solve problems in unusual ways. And one of the ways in which they're unusual is that they learn things almost completely on their own. They soak it up on their own, the way a typical child soaks up language on his own when he's learning his first language.

GUPTA: Nationwide, for every $100 spent on special education for struggling students, Winner says just three cents goes to classes for the so-called gifted. That's a shame, say the Davidsons, and not just for the academic elite.

JAN DAVIDSON, CO-FOUNDER, DAVIDSON INSTITUTE: I think the opportunity to learn at your own pace and your own motivation level would allow anyone to achieve more than they would otherwise. It's not just the profoundly gifted.

GUPTA: For Misha, so far the academy is hitting all the right notes.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.


PHILLIPS: So is it nature?

Is it nurture?

Is it in the water?

He ought to be in the sixth grade this year, but 11-year-old Heath Harding is a college freshman. And he's not the first member of his homeschooled family to start a degree by the age of 12. He's the fourth. In fact, his parents have written a book about their method. Heath and his sister, Serennah, join us from Montgomery, Alabama. Sixteen-old Serennah is a senior, by the way, at Huntington College this year. Oh, yes, and she's also applying to medical school. Serennah, why are you setting your goals so low?


SERENNAH HARDING, COLLEGE SENIOR: Well, I know what I'm interested in. I know what I want and I'm just striving for it, to get there as soon as I can, because I want to pursue my dreams.

PHILLIPS: And, of course, I'm kidding.

I'm being completely facetious. You're absolutely amazing, as is your brother and your entire family.

What do you think has created this in your family?

Are all of you geniuses, do you think, or do you think it's mom's homeschooling?

S. HARDING: I don't believe that we're geniuses, but that we have two really loving parents who found a method that worked for us. And they taught us not in an age-based way, but simply they found our interests and they cultivated those and helped us pursue those and learn at our own pace, which turned out to be accelerated.


Heath, you're 11. You're a freshman in college. You've got three older sisters that went to college by age 12.

How did they advise you and prepare you for this?

Did they give you sisterly advice?

HEATH HARDING, COLLEGE FRESHMAN: Yes, they did. And, also, just me seeing them go off to college made me very excited that I would maybe get to do that one day. And I did so...

PHILLIPS: And tell me about mom's homeschooling. I mean, where does she get her lessons, Heath?

Where does she get the curriculum?

H. HARDING: Well, we start off just with workbooks, like for preschool and kindergarten. And then when we get on, after we know how to read, then we read lessons from big textbooks.


H. HARDING: and then we just -- after we've done it, any questions we have, we just ask her.


So, Serennah, do you feel like you've missed out on anything as a teenager, that you've gone too fast?

I mean have you ever thought about prom or playing on the high school tennis team?

S. HARDING: Well, I actually did get to go to a prom. I went to a homeschool prom and that was a lot of fun. But I also played a lot of soccer when I was younger. As soon as I started college, I didn't really have time to do athletics as well as pursue my academics. But I did play a lot of soccer and had very man of many friends on those teams. And I had a very well-rounded childhood and I credit my parents for that.

PHILLIPS: And, Heath, what do you think is the toughest thing about college so far?

Or are you breezing right through now as a freshman?

H. HARDING: Well, I'm taking four classes and sometimes it can get pretty hard. But...

PHILLIPS: What are the classes?

H. HARDING: Oh, I'm taking four classes. And they're History 1011, which is Western civilization; Music appreciation; Survey of the Hebrew scriptures -- It's a religion class.

PHILLIPS: Oh, my goodness.

H. HARDING: And I'm also taking principles of microeconomics.


Now, do any of the other students look at you and say, Heath, could you help me out here?

I mean do they look to you for advice?

Do they -- do they want to get to know you?

H. HARDING: Yes. They always ask me, like, hey, dude, can you do my homework?

And then...


H. HARDING: and then they lean over to their friend and they say, hey, this is my study buddy right there.

PHILLIPS: Oh, that's great. And you say, oh, maybe for a slick 20, I might be able to help you out.

No, I know you're very ethical.

Now, Serennah, you're 16.

Have you thought about dating?

I mean usually at 16 you're having your first date and thinking about that.

Are you?

S. HARDING: Well, I definitely have thought about it before. But I really know that I would like to become a doctor and I'm trying not to let that distract me from it.


PHILLIPS: You know what?

That's a very good idea.

Heath, what about you?

You're 11. You're surrounded by all these beautiful college women.

Are you thinking that, maybe I wish I sort of had someone around that was my age?

H. HARDING: Well, I do have a lot of friends that are my age and, no, I just...

PHILLIPS: You're not worried about it yet?



And I've got to ask you guys this. Seriously, your entire family seems absolutely perfect. I can't find any anything wrong here. It's amazing.

Serennah, do you guys ever get in trouble?

S. HARDING: We do. We do get in trouble very often. But I think we have to credit God for what he's done in our family and how he's blessed us. He really has.

PHILLIPS: Heath, what about you?

Are you pretty much an angel?

Come on, fess up.

H. HARDING: No. No, I'm not.

PHILLIPS: I know your sister wants to go to medical school.

What's your goal?

H. HARDING: Well, I'm thinking about making movies and getting into media, because it's very interesting to me.

PHILLIPS: All right.

Are you going to come take my job?

H. HARDING: Maybe.


PHILLIPS: You know what?

Believe me, at the rate you're going, my friend, you will be replacing me very soon.

Heath and Serennah Harding, you really and truly have a remarkable family.

We salute your parents.

S. HARDING: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: We salute you.

S. HARDING: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: We're going to follow your progress.

H. HARDING: All right.

S. HARDING: Glad to be here today.

PHILLIPS: Great to see you both.

Well, more proof that everything's bigger in Texas, right?

Or are the spiders at this state park teaming up for bigger hauls?

Well, in any case, folks better steer clear. This spider is going to definitely scare you.


PHILLIPS: Let's go straight to "THE NEWSROOM".

Fredricka Whitfield working details on another developing story -- Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this one in South Florida, Kyra.

In Miami Gardens, just north of downtown Miami, an aggressive search is underway for a group of people -- not clear how many -- who may have been involved in a carjacking that took place just south of there in Hialeah. And apparently this vehicle was then spotted -- the one that was suspected of being carjacked, a Dodge Neon, was then spotted in the area of 127th Street and Northwest 30th Avenue in the Opa-Locka Miami Gardens area.

Now, you're looking at tape that we've received of the number of law enforcement officials, from police to SWAT teams, etc. who have surrounded an apartment area there in the Miami Gardens area.

And now, we understand, that an extensive search is underway at one of those particular units. Even though you're seeing tape right now, we understand that what is taking place right now is SWAT team members who are entering an apartment building there, looking for these suspects. And we understand that at least one person in that vehicle that was allegedly carjacked actually was shot. We don't know who that person is or that person's condition right now.

But when we get that information, we'll bring it to you -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right.

Thanks a lot, Fred.

An HIV positive diagnosis is no longer considered death sentence in the U.S. But that's not the case some other nations.

Today's Hero is a man from New York who is using what would have been discarded medicine to save lives all over the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we're rolling.

JESUS AGUAIS, MEDICAL MIRACLE: The simplest idea can make the biggest impact -- recycling HIV medicine.

How many people out there are looking for medicine? And how many people with HIV in the United States have no idea that they could save lives with something that is just a leftover for them?

My name is Jesus Aguais.

I'm the founder of Aid for AIDS International.

I'm dedicated to improve the quality of life of people with HIV in developing countries.

Early in 1993, I got a job as a counselor in one of the Latino AIDS organizations here in New York. In terms of helping people abroad, there was very little that you could do. There was no medicine at all. Only people with lots of money could come to the United States. The rest, the common people, have to die.

In 1996, the first two protease inhibitors got approved, but some people couldn't tolerate it. A treatment that cost $1,200 was being thrown away. I just knew it was wrong, purely wrong.

I was telling people, why don't you bring it to me?

We started using the concept of recycling HIV medicine. All the medicine comes from people with HIV around the U.S. and goes abroad. People can send it directly to us. Or, if they live in the New York City area, we can pick it up. And we send it on a monthly basis straight to the patient.

This is a matter of saving lives. People need this medicine. We need to get it to them. It's our responsibility. I see it as what I'm here to do.


PHILLIPS: And you can nominate a hero of your own by going to Selected winners will be honored during a very special live global broadcast December 6th, hosted by our own Anderson Cooper.

Grilled cheese sandwiches, hospital windows -- boy, the Virgin Mary sure gets around. Ahead in THE NEWSROOM, the latest sighting causes a stir in Pennsylvania.


PHILLIPS: Well, some say it's a miracle. They say they've seen a face every evening around 6:00 for the past two weeks on this garage door in Minersville, Pennsylvania. They think it's the face of the Virgin Mary.

Whatever it is, it's drawing crowds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing. It's really amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how to explain it because it just like appears before you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I believe she's here for a reason. But what the reason is, I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am very strong in my faith, so, yes. I'm hoping that it's the real thing.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: This used to be such a quiet street and now it's, like, full of action.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of people here that believe in God. There's not many places where a lot of people do.


PHILLIPS: Well, one reason people think it's the Virgin Mary, they say it first appeared on August 15th, when Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.

Well, they say that everything is bigger in Texas. I guess that applies to cobwebs, too. Take a look at this -- a cobweb the size of two football fields. It's now covering more than 200 yards of a North Texas park trail and blanketing several trees.

So giant web, giant spider?

Not likely.

Experts say it's more likely the work of social cobweb spiders, which work together. Either way, it's generating a lot of buzz.

A Chicago building blown to Smithereens. No need to call Commissioner Gordon, though. Blame it on Batman. The parking garage at an old candy factory was destroyed for a movie shoot. That building had been converted into Gotham Hospital lot for a new Batman movie. "The Dark Night" is due out next summer.

The closing and a wrap of the action on Wall Street straight ahead.

Stay with us.


PHILLIPS: Time now to check in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

He's standing by in "THE SITUATION ROOM" to tell us what's coming up at the top of the hour -- hey, Wolf.


We're just getting the audio tapes of that arrest involving Larry Craig at the men's room at the Minneapolis airport. We're going to play you that chunk, what happened between the arresting police officer and the senator. That's coming up momentarily. This as leading Republicans continue to distance themselves from the Idaho Republican. The latest on that growing -- amid growing speculation that he eventually may have to resign.

Senator Barack Obama picks up support from a powerful African- American voice, but also some words of warning. The former Virginia governor, Doug Wilder, telling us what he thinks about the Democrats' chances of winning the White House.

And Hillary Clinton's campaign is giving away thousands of dollars received from a Democratic donor. That donor just happens to be a fugitive from the law.

All that, Kyra, coming up here in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

PHILLIPS: All right, Wolf, thanks so much.

Well, the closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street.

Susan Lisovicz is standing by with a final look at the trading day.

What do you think -- Susan? LISOVICZ: Kyra, it's been a slow trading day, so that gives us the opportunity to talk about Dead air, which is generally a bad thing in television -- unless you're talking about Grateful Dead air.

Sirius Satellite Radio set to debut September 7th a complete channel devoted to the music of the Grateful Dead. Grateful Dead, despite the death of Jerry Garcia more than a decade ago, still tracks legions of fans, including, Kyra, according to Wikipedia, the Deadheads out there -- or people who claim to be Deadheads -- are Tony Blair, Ann Coulter, Al and Tipper Gore, and Tucker Carlson, who used to work here.

PHILLIPS: You know, Mickey Hart, the former drummer of the Grateful Dead, he's a big fan of the show. He's been on with us a number of times, because he saves music for the Congress of library -- or the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. He archives it.

LISOVICZ: You know what?

My favorite is from Mickey Hart.

He says, "We're not in the music business, we're in the transportation business.

They take you to places -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: That's true. They do. They take you all over the world. And he's still crazy, let me tell you.

LISOVICZ: Yes, and people love him for it.

There's the closing bell. Split decision.

Big speech by Ben Bernanke tomorrow could move the market tomorrow.

See you then -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Sounds good.

Bye, Susan.

Let's take it now to "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.