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Life After Rock Bottom; Voices Against AIDS; Jail Instead Of Lashes; D.C.'s AIDS Crisis; Gerri's Top Tips

Aired November 30, 2007 - 10:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: They're passionate about. A bit of a switch today. Ali Velshi with the story of a man who found his true calling only after hitting rock bottom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, (singing): I know that you are with me.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): It's audition time for director Haywood Fennell.


VELSHI: Looking for another cast to perform the plays he's written. But Fennell isn't a classically trained playwright. In fact, his first play was written at a homeless shelter.

FENNELL: I was living in a shelter and I wrote a play called "The Harlem Renaissance Revisited with a Boston Flavor." And it was a play about when people were actually denied their opportunities to perform and perform in different places and be heard as poets and read as writers. It was a little bit like me.

VELSHI: The first act in Fennell's life was in the Army overseas when he became addicted to heroin. Upon returning home, Fennell spent the next 20 years of his life in and out of jail and shelters because of his addiction.

FENNELL: Police officers arrested me, saying, wow, you're too smart for this. And then later on they said, you're kind of old for this.

VELSHI: So Fennell got clean 15 years ago and now, in the second act of his life, he is a renaissance man, writing children's books, hosting a weekly public access show in Boston, and staging his plays.

FENNELL: It's been an ongoing, wonderful journey. Then it's very moving to be able to write something and then have someone perform it to the level that they perform.

VELSHI: Ali Velshi, CNN.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the run down.

The White House hoists the huge red ribbon for World AIDS Day. Our focus this hour, the exploding AIDS crisis right in Congress' back yard.

COLLINS: One presidential candidate wants to fire the taxman and hire the fair tax. It is fair. Our guests talk about it this hour.

HARRIS: The UPS man delivers holiday gifts. A thief follows behind picking them up. A Grinch who re-gifts this Friday, November 30th, in the CNN NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: AIDS -- it kills millions of people every year. It sentences millions more to a life of anguish, fear, and heart break. Now the world pauses to reflect. This morning the White House unfurled a huge red ribbon to mark World AIDS Day tomorrow. You see the live picture there. Next hour we're going to be hearing from President Bush live in the NEWSROOM on AIDS.

The numbers are staggering. More than 33 million people in the world are living with HIV. Two and a half million of those cases came just this year. AIDS is expected to kill more than 2 million people in 2007. The vast majority of people with HIV are living in Africa. In North America, the number of people infected with HIV is about 1.3 million.

HARRIS: Her sound helped define an era. Now singer/song writer Annie Lennox hopes her new song will play a role in curbing the AIDS epidemic.


ANNIE LENNOX, (singing): Let your voice be heard. What would you do to make your strong?


HARRIS: Well, that's a little taste of "Sing." Annie Lennox gathered 23 of the world's top female musicians for the project to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS. Lennox sat down with me and told me what inspired her to do it.


ANNIE LENNOX, SINGER SONGWRITER: From my very first experience of going to South Africa four and a half years ago to take part in the 46664 (ph) HIV/AIDS -- Nelson Mandela's HIV/AIDS Foundation concert, the launch of the concert, I realized the extent of the pandemic and it really shook me because I feel that people don't really understand the extent of it.

HARRIS: Why do you think that is? We've been talking about AIDS for so long now. Do we have a real sense of the scope of where we are today and its impact on women in particular?

LENNOX: No, absolutely not. I don't think that people actually realize it. I think those kind of figures, you know, we're talking about over 28 million people who have died of the pandemic. And when you actually go to the countries who are really suffering under the brunt of this terrible thing, you have to see it really face to face. But I'm trying to get that message across. I've been filming in South Africa. I've been making some short documentary-style reporter style films that I'll be housing on my web site. And I'm just trying to get a sense of the devastation really and send a message out that we really need to open up the discussion and debate about the effects of HIV/AIDS.

HARRIS: Annie, you don't have to do this. You're a big star. You're a big international star. You don't have to do this. You don't have to be filming and putting up web sites and doing this kind of travel. Why are you doing this? Why is this so important to you?

LENNOX: It's very important to me because I think it's a human rights issue. And all my life I've always been aware of injustices. And I was an anti-apartheid supporter and campaigner. Many years ago Dave Stewart and myself, with Eurythmics, played at a wonderful concert, a tribute convert for Nelson Mandela. And having now had the privilege to have meet him in person several times, I feel, you know, really incredibly grieved that the people of South Africa are struggling so much and they have not a voice to express themselves and to -- for people to focus on this issue, which it's ravaging them.

HARRIS: "You don't need to disrespect yourself again, don't hide your light behind your fears." That's a lyric line from "Sing," this tremendous song I mentioned just a moment ago. What are you commenting on with that line?

LENNOX: I'm talking about stigma really and an absolute sense that people are afraid to speak about HIV/AIDS, especially the situation with women who are very often the victims of domestic violence and abuse. And I'm trying to encourage women who are in that situation to get tested. I mean, obviously, it's a song. You know this is -- you're taking a very short piece from it. But my message is, please find out your status. Please, find out your HIV status. Please don't be afraid to find out where you're at and do not be necessarily intimidated by the social mores (ph) that dictate that you have to keep the stigma, you have to keep it a silent thing. Because the other -- it's a very complex issue.


LENNOX: And when you open it up, it is like a can of worms. But one of the real difficulties is that is a sexually transmitted disease. People are terribly afraid to speak about it and even to address it. It's still kept very quiet and very silent even though thousands and thousands of people are affected by it.


HARRIS: Annie Lennox. Stunning statistics, shocking numbers on AIDS in the nation's capital. Find out what's being done about it.

COLLINS: She led a secret life in Internet porn, and now police believe she's dead. They have found a body about 50 miles outside of El Dorado, Kansas. They believe it's 18-year-old Emily Sander. An autopsy is being performed to confirm that. The missing college student was known as Zoey Zane on an adult Web site. Police say she was last seen leaving a bar with a man a week ago. A nationwide search is underway for 24-year-old Israel Mireles. Police say Sander's Internet activity has no connection to her disappearance.

In Mississippi, the ex-boyfriend of a missing Jackson State University student has been charged with murder. Police say Stanley Cole led them to the decomposed body of Latasha Norman yesterday. A bail hearing for Cole is set for today. Norman was last seen after attending classes on November 13th. Classes at the university have been canceled for today.

HARRIS: And, again, let's get to Betty in the news room following these horrible pictures.

Which freeway are we talking about? Is it the Santa Ana?

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're talking about the Santa Ana Freeway. And take a look at this. You know, it is rush hour and no one is going anywhere very soon. And this is why.

This big rig came across a truck, which you see underneath it now. It's a horrible, horrible accident. And as you can see, the emergency workers are on the scene. And what they're trying to do right now is get the person out of that truck that is stuck underneath that 18-wheeler.

Look at the engine, the cab area of the 18 wheeler. That thing is just turned all the way around. What a messy, messy accident. And, in fact, we're being told by the folks there on the scene that this may involve more than just these two vehicles that we're looking at right now.

And that weather may have played a role. It had been raining in the area. So that may have caused slick road conditions, which could have led to this accident.

Of course, right now the main point of contention is trying to get that person out of the vehicle underneath this 18 wheeler. What an awful position to be in, but hopefully they can get the person out and get that person to some medical help just as soon as possible.

We're going to stay on top of this story, though, Tony, and bring you the latest just as soon as we get more information.

HARRIS: Hey, Betty, that's such a horrible scene. I'm just wondering, is the best information we have now that there's just one person in the vehicle? That's what we have now?

NGUYEN: Well, what we know right now is that they're trying to get at least one person out of that vehicle.

HARRIS: We know the story often changes, but that's what we have right now? NGUYEN: That is the latest. We don't know the condition of the driver of the 18-wheeler. And it was said a little bit earlier that there may have been more than just these two vehicles involved. So we don't know the conditions of those others, as well. But the point right now is trying to get that person out and get that person to some medical attention. It was a nasty accident.

HARRIS: Well, I'm actually happy -- yes, I'm actually happy we're off that picture.

All right, Betty, appreciate the update. Thank you.

COLLINS: No survivors found. A Turkish jetliner crashes in southern Turkey. Fifty-six people on board. The plane went down as the pilot was preparing to land. Rescuers finding bodies, some of them still in their seats, scattered across the mountainous area. The fuselage of the plane largely intact. The McDonald Douglas 83 was operated by Atlas Jet. It was on a flight between two Turkish cities. Investigators have recovered the flight data recorders and hope they can help explain the crash.

HARRIS: Demanding an execution over a teddy bear? So here is the scene. You've got thousands of angry Sudanese demonstrating today. Some armed, as you can see here, with clubs, knives. They want a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam put to death. Gillian Gibbons was sentenced to 15 days in jail. Her crime? Allowing her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Guilty of insulting religion. Gillian Gibbons is expected to spend the next 10 days in a Sudanese prison. She's already served five awaiting trial. A lesser punishment than the widely quoted 40 lashes she could have received, but Britain's foreign minister, David Milliban (ph), said he was extremely disappointed with the sentence.

The Sudanese ambassador to London summoned to the foreign office for the second time in one day. Gibbons allowed her six and seven- year-old students to name the class teddy bear Muhammad. Her friends, neighbors, and British authorities say it was an innocent mistake and she would not have meant to insult the Muslim prophet.

Gibbons spent eight hours before the judge Thursday. Police surrounded the courthouse and prevented the public and media from entering. Her lawyer says he will appeal, but that process may take longer than the 15-day prison sentence.

ALI AJEB, GILLIAN GIBBON'S LAWYER: That she's innocent and she (INAUDIBLE) she didn't mean to insult anyone. She's newly come to Sudan.

HANCOCKS: Sudan's education ministry says it wants to ensure this type of incident cannot happen again. MOATASEM ABDEL RAHMAN, SUDANESE EDUCATION MINISTRY: We are going to make sure that whoever comes to Sudan to teach should have -- should participate in a workshop about Sudan and Sudanese cultures and Sudanese ways of life.

HANCOCKS: Gibbons, who had arrived in Sudan in August, was said to be somber and dazed arriving in court. British authorities say their priority now is to ensure Mrs. Gibbons' welfare.

This will be devastating news for the Gibbons family here in Liverpool. They have been talking to the prime minister, Gordon Brown, and were obviously hoping that Gibbons would be immediately released. Her 25-year-old's son and her 27-year-old daughter are not speaking publicly. Also, some of her friends are not speaking publicly for fear of making a bad situation for Gibbons even worse.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Liverpool, England.


COLLINS: Reynolds Wolf standing in front of some weather, right?


HARRIS: Stunning statistics. Shocking numbers on AIDS in the nation's capital. Find out what is being done about it.


COLLINS: Imagine seeing this on your way to work. Wow. Tasered in traffic. A bizarre standoff on major interstate.


COLLINS: The numbers are staggering. Rates of AIDS in Washington, D.C., nine times higher than the national average. Dr. Shannon Hader is director of the D.C. HIV/AIDS Administration. She is joining us this morning from Washington.

Doctor, thanks for being with us today.

I want to start by looking directly at some of those numbers. And we should point out, this report was done by your organization, the D.C. HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Annual Report. So, clearly, you do this every year. And these are the numbers now. Look at that. The United States, 14 cases per 100,000 people. In Washington, D.C., 128.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Why is it so different in Washington, D.C.?

DR. SHANNON HADER, DIR., DC HIV/AIDS ADMINISTRATION: Well, I think one thing we know that in D.C. is we have a very complex and modern epidemic. Meaning we have transmission going on throughout a lot of different risk behaviors and not just one. But even when you compare us to other big cities, other complex big cities, we have twice the rates of New York City and almost four times the rates of Detroit. So we know that with our complexity we just have to do better.

COLLINS: You have classified this, your wording, as an epidemic. Different than other cities clearly.

HADER: Well, I think that our goal for HIV as an infectious disease is getting transmission down to zero. Therefore, we can't say there's any acceptable average steady state rate of transmission that's OK. So from an infectious disease standpoint, it's an epidemic.

COLLINS: What about those risk factors? You mentioned those as well. What is so different, once again, about Washington, D.C., in particular?

HADER: Well, when we look at our newly reported HIV cases, we see that we have a very well-balanced, unfortunately, a very well- balanced and complex epidemic. We have a little bit over a third of new HIV infection being transmitted through heterosexual contact. A little less than a third being transmitted among men who have sex with men. And, still, about 15 percent that are associated with injection drug use. And so with that complexity, we need interventions for all of those routes of transmission that are going on.

COLLINS: Is there a racial component here? What is the breakdown with regard to race?

HADER: Well, much like the rest of the country, we are seeing a racial health disparity. So over 80 percent of the people living with HIV/AIDS in D.C. are African-American. That compares to 55 percent of our population overall.

COLLINS: Wow. I know you also worked for the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, on AIDS in Zimbabwe. How does the level of awareness there compare with the level of awareness in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital?

HADER: Well, you know, I think that's a great question and I really appreciate you asking it because, in terms of stigma and silence, it's been really dramatic for me to move back from overseas, move back from what is a highly visible response to the epidemic, and find that HIV has become almost invisible back in our own country. So I think we really appreciate being on this show, in particular, but also we look forward to having more visibility, more conversations, more ongoing talks so that HIV not only comes across once a year on awareness day.

COLLINS: Awareness back to zero. Really? Even with, you know, days like tomorrow, World Aids Day? And interesting, too, because I would imagine you would agree that a lot of the education, even in Zimbabwe or other parts of the world, has come from some United States doctors and other health experts.

HADER: Oh, absolutely. And I think we have a lot of resources, a lot of knowledge, and a lot of expertise in this country to respond. And we have a lot of individuals who have been living highly successful lives with HIV and AIDS. What we need to do is, I think, put the conversations back on the table. Bring them back to the dinner table and talk about, how do we, as a community, how do we as individuals, how do we as government bring everything together and make sure that certainly in D.C. we're responding to this number one public health priority.

COLLINS: We certainly appreciate your time today and the study as well. Dr. Shannon Hader, director of the D.C. HIV and AIDS Administration. Thank you, doctor.

HADER: Thank you.

HARRIS: Your money and how to make the most of it. Our personal finance expert answers your questions. Gerri Willis in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Let's get another check of the numbers now. Whoa. Hey. That looks pretty good. Like to see that going into the weekend, don't we? Dow Jones Industrial averages up about 109 pounds, resting now at 13,420. And we'll take it any way we can get it, that's for sure. We're going to talk more about Ben Bernanke and some comments that were made that might lead some people to think there could be another interest rate cut coming our way. So we'll talk about that with Susan Lisovicz coming up in just a few moments.

HARRIS: OK. Friday, your money, your questions. Viewers tap into the expertise of CNN's personal finance editor, there she is, looking . . .


HARRIS: Are you ready to go to work this morning, Gerri?

WILLIS: Oh, believe me, I've been at it for a while now.

HARRIS: That's right. That's so true. That's so true. The other platforms of CNN.

Lawrence, the viewer e-mail bag, let's dip in here. Lawrence from Pennsylvania writes, "you say that bad credit will be forgiven after seven years. But," Gerri, "what happens after seven years? Are creditors not able to see your past history or will they not use it against you?

WILLIS: Very good question. You know, after seven years, credit bureaus must remove the negative information, like unpaid credit card debt or a foreclosure, from your report. Now this means it won't be visible on your credit history. The lender that you did not pay will still know about the negative info because of internal records, but your credit history will be wiped clean. Keep in mind, there are some things that cannot be removed until 10 years, like bankruptcies and unpaid tax liens. Hey, they stay on your record forever. Check your credit report at


HARRIS: Wow. Bankruptcy is 10 years?


HARRIS: Lord. OK. Brian has a question for you, Gerri. "I am a senior majoring in finance. How tight will the job market be for finance professionals amid the major cuts at investment banks?" OK. He's clearly following the news. "What can students do to ensure employment upon graduation?"

WILLIS: Well, you know, Brian, thanks for to credit crunch and the number of layoffs in the financial realm, there is more competition if you're trying to get a job. But, hey, there is a silver lining. A financial professional has a number of different roles to fill. Think about auditing or accounting instead. Now those professions are always in demand. Look, the best thing you can do while you're in school is take advantage of internships. Check in with your college's career development office to find out what opportunities are out there.

HARRIS: OK, this is an interesting question from Rhonda. She writes, "would a credit freeze have an adverse affect on applying for a new job?" What is she getting at here?

WILLIS: You know what, it could. If you put a freeze on your credit, you are basically locking access to anybody trying to gain access to your credit history. Now if employers are looking to do a background check and they want access to your credit history -- it happens all the time -- it may not be possible. So our advice, lift the freeze at the three credit bureaus before you go job hunting because so many employers check your credit history.

And, of course, if you have any questions, send them to us at We answer them right here every Friday and we love hearing from you.

HARRIS: You know, I want to ask you if you've got a moment to tell everybody about the big "Open House" show. You know how we love it in the Harris household.

WILLIS: Yes. Well, I love talking about it. OK. "Open House," 9:30 a.m. Saturday right here on CNN. The latest on the mortgage meltdown. And also we're going to talk a little bit about preventing holiday debt. You don't want that holiday debt hangover. So easy to get in over your head this time of year.

HARRIS: It's called cash. Live within your means.


HARRIS: Cut up the credit cards.

WILLIS: You're there.

HARRIS: Don't get me started.

Gerri, great to see you. Have a great weekend. WILLIS: Thank you.

COLLINS: More news just in here to the CNN NEWSROOM. Betty Nguyen is following this story for us.

Betty, some information regarding the Michael Vick dogfighting case.

NGUYEN: Yes. Two of the three co-defendants have been sentenced today. And let me tell you what those sentences are. They include Purnell Peace of Virginia. He received 18 months, while Quanis Phillips of Atlanta received 21 months.

And let me put this in perspective for you because federal sentencing guidelines suggested a year to 18 months. Again, one of them got 18 months, the other, 21 months. So it appears they got the harshest penalty allowed.

Vick faces the same potential prison time. And, as you know, he turned himself in on November 19th. He surrendered to get a jump start on that prison sentence. He's not going to be sentenced until next month. So we'll find out the exact terms of that sentence when it happens.


COLLINS: Very good. Betty, thank you.

HARRIS: Time to dump the IRS? Well, that's the question that's out there this morning. We will take a hard look at the plan to replace income taxes with a national sales tax.


HARRIS: OK, here we go. Just past the half hour. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Dump the IRS? Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee got a real boost in Wednesday night's YouTube debate when he said he'd do it. Listen.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing I would get rid of would be the Internal Revenue Service.


We'd have a complete getting rid of a $10 billion-a-year industry, which I'm not being facetious, if we enacted the fair tax, one of the most researched ways to revive our economic future, we would get rid of the IRS.


COLLINS: So what is this fair tax Huckabee mentioned? Well, the plan eliminates the federal income tax and replaces it with a national sales tax. It also eliminates corporate taxes, and to make sure poor Americans can afford necessities the plan provides rebates -- pre- bates, I should say, to households earning before the poverty line. Lots to talk about on this one. We're going to try and get you at least the basics. Joining me, Georgia congressman John Linder. He is sponsoring legislation in favor of the fair tax.

Congressman, thanks for being here.


COLLINS: And J.D. Foster with the Heritage Foundation. He doesn't buy a word of it.

J.D., thanks for being with us as well.


Let me begin with you, congressman. Tell me exactly how this works, if you would.

LINDER: Well, first of all, you've got it wrong.

COLLINS: Got it wrong? Please correct me.

LINDER: The pre-bate goes to every household regardless of income, because we do not know how much money people are going to earn. The pre-bate goes to households depending on the size of the household to totally untax them up to poverty level spending, which is, by definition, that spending necessary to buy your essentials. Beyond that we're all voluntary taxpayers and we all pay the same.

COLLINS: OK, how is this different than the flat tax? And let me go to J.D. for that.

LINDER: The flat tax is a tax on income.

COLLINS: Let got to J.D. Foster and let him go ahead and get in for a moment as well -- J.D.

FOSTER: Yes. Well, the sales tax, or the fair tax, is -- addresses some serious problems we have in our tax system. Our tax system is overly complicated. It taxes production too much and consumption too little. Unfortunately in my opinion it's a tax system that just won't work.

COLLINS: OK. So let me go back to you, Congressman. How do you know that 25 or 30 percent will raise enough money?

LINDER: We've scored it as recently as two months ago. It's been scored by Jim Perturbo (ph), by Dale Jurgenson. It's been scored by many organizations. It's somewhere in the range of 22 percent to 24 percent, and if it has to be more, we're going to raise it a little bit.

But let me tell you this, today the average income earner is paying 33 cents to the government out of every dollar they earn. Out of our system we pay 23 cents out of every dollar you spend.

COLLINS: OK. But you do have to admit, don't you, J.D. Foster, that a lot of people are confused by the current tax system.

FOSTER: There's no question. And they have a right to be confused. Our current tax system is far too complicated and has so many bad attributes to it. But when you talk about going to a sales tax as a replacement you really have to look at starting with what is the rate going to be? A 30 percent rate or 34 percent, as scored by the Treasury...

COLLINS: I believe he said 22, just to stay in the line with the conversation. I believe he said 22. So go ahead.

FOSTER: Right. Well, the Treasury Department scores it as 34 percent just to replace the income tax. That doesn't replace as well the payroll tax and the death tax. To replace all the taxes, the fair tax suggests to wants to replace, the rate gets above 50 percent. That's just not a practical rate for a sales tax.

LINDER: J.D., you're smarter than this. You're an economist. You know better. Everybody who scored it higher than 23 percent or 24 percent has rewritten the bill. They said it won't pass as written, therefore we have to consider a different bill. The treasury defendant this April I think it was in April of 2005 for the tags commission scored it the way it was written and scored it pretty much where we said it would be. Then they rewrote the bill. Jim Perturbo was on that commission. He scored it at 23.1 percent.

COLLINS: I don't want to get too inside baseball here because I believe most of the viewers out there are just now trying to consider what this all means in black and white terms, if I could. So we want to make sure we leave them today with something they didn't know before.

So bear we with me as we get to two other topics on this fair tax. One of them is keeping jobs on U.S. soil. J.D. Foster, is there any way that we could guarantee by implementing a fair tax that, yes, indeed, more jobs with stay in the United States?

FOSTER: Well, again, the fair tax, I don't think, is a practical tax system. So in a sense the starting point to the answer is no, but there are ways we can fix the tax system so that we do keep more jobs and better jobs in the United States. The fair tax tries to get at some of that with what's called border tax adjustment. That's a sound policy, but it can be done within our current system. We don't have to dream of a sales tax which, as I said, won't work to get there.

COLLINS: Congressman, obviously you would disagree with that.

LINDER: Let me says that when J.D. was working for the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Bill Archer quoted several times during the course of that time study he saw out of Princeton that said 500 international companies located in Europe and Japan were asked, what would you do in your long-term planning if the United States eliminated all taxes on capital, and labor and taxed only especially consumption, 80 percent said they'd build their next plant in the United States.

COLLINS: J.D., I am going to leave you with this and let you both comment on this. We know that we have five Republican candidates for president who actually believe in the fair tax system, or some version of it, Mike Huckabee, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul. Are they all wrong?

FOSTER: Well, sadly, yes, they are. They're not wrong in what they're trying to achieve. The goals are right. There's nothing wrong with the goals. There's nothing wrong with trying to replace our system with something that's much simpler. The problem is the sales tax itself, once you start looking at what the rate would actually have to be, it gets up -- frankly, Treasury ended up with a number that was approaching 90 percent, and there's real reasons for this.

This isn't just a scoring difference. There are underlying assumptions in what's being taxed that the fair tax makes and we don't think -- I don't think these are reasonable assumptions. Treasury didn't think they're reasonable assumptions. If you make unreasonable assumptions, of course you can get a low rate.

COLLINS: Congressman, the last word.

LINDER: What J.D. told you is he wants to rewrite the bill. In 2001 consumption in America as defined by the fair tax was $8.5 trillion. Adjusted gross income or taxable income was $4.2 trillion. Surely you can have a lower tax on consumption when you have a larger base.

COLLINS: Well, gentlemen, I believe we will be hearing a lot more about this, certainly as the campaigns for president continue. It will be one of the issues that people will be talking about for a while. Thanks to the both of you, Representative John Linder and J.D. Foster.

FOSTER: Thank you.

LINDER: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you.

HARRIS: AIDS, it's worldwide impact all too clear and inescapable, especially on the African continent. Young children orphaned, dirt poor communities overwhelmed.

Details from CNN's Robyn Curnow.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These three little boys eating a packet of chips we gave them are the loneliest children we've ever seen. Left to fend for themselves, almost forgotten, after their mother and aunts died of AIDS earlier this year and their elder brother was killed in a train accident last month. None of them know what's happened to their fathers. Fourteen-year-old Lindani tells us we just sit, sometimes we work. His youngest brother, four-year-old Zamo (ph), is HIV positive. He cries a lot. So, too, does Lindani, who seems traumatized, shell- shocked. Of the three brothers, six-year-old Inclosiapas (ph) seems the most carefree. He sometimes does more than just sit or work. He loves to draw in the sand outside their home.

(on camera): It's in areas like this that the true horror of the epidemic reveals itself. People living in this valley say that no one has been spared and that nearly every single household has been affected by HIV/AIDS.

(voice-over): Mavis Mtembu is a community health worker hired by an international organization who walks these hills going door-to-door and sees the full scale of the epidemic.

MAVIS MTEMBU, HEALTH WORKER: I think out of hundreds of patients, 70 percent is HIV here.

CURNOW: With estimates as high as that, it's often the grandmothers, like Christina Mkeeyza (ph), who are left to shoulder the burden, relying on this small vegetable patch to feed the 11 grandchildren and foster children in her care. All orphaned by AIDS, like 13-year-old Nomfundo (ph).

Mrs. Mkeeyza tells me, "all those who suffer come to me. I've accepted that, but it makes me sick and stresses me out. I can't sleep at night."

She's 77, and her eyesight is going, so she gets the children to read to her from the Bible. Small comfort for a family made up of those left behind.

The young and very old are trying to hold together this community, says Mavis.

MTEMBU: It's our future, the way I see it, no future because people are dying. People are sick, and people are still going to die in this village.

CURNOW: Death, it seems, is these children's only companion, the fresh graves of their family members reminding them that HIV/AIDS has already stolen their childhood and perhaps also their future.

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Enkannini, Pozoolunotell (ph), South Africa.


HARRIS: A health crisis for African-Americans, mind-boggling numbers on HIV and AIDS. One man's personal fight.

COLLINS: She was stunned, literally. A pregnant woman tasered by police speaks out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: As you well know, the news never stops. Certainly not on the weekend, a lot going on. Want to give you an idea now from Betty Nguyen what you'll see this weekend.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: HIV is on the rise, but not on the radar at many college campuses. You remember what a big deal AIDS was when you were in school? But are young people today even aware that the disease still exists? We're going to hear from several students.

And is the most visual AIDS symbol lacking diversity? Listen to this. The memorial quilt includes more than 47,000 panels but only a few hundred are made for African-Americans. We're going to talk with a woman who is trying to change that and raise awareness in the black community.

Our special coverage of World AIDS Day, tomorrow, CNN "SATURDAY" and "SUNDAY MORNING" begins at 7:00 Eastern.


HARRIS: All right, let's get to business news now. The bulls are looking to make it four in a row. Susan Lisovicz on the floor -- looking wonderful today -- the New York Stock Exchange, as always.

Susan, good morning to you.


HARRIS: Smooth talker, smooth talker.


HARRIS: A road crew -- well, they couldn't believe their eyes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He pulled off his t-shirt and then take a knife, and then I see blood over his hand.


HARRIS: So, now the road crews have to deal with this, a leisurely stroll on a busy freeway? The shocking ending in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: A pregnant woman tasered by police speaks out. You may have seen the police surveillance video. The woman showed up at the station trying to give up custody of her one-year-old son. An officer questions her. She tries to leave. They scuffle. She's taken to the floor and is hit on the neck with a taser.

Here's what she says happened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALRECA REDDEN, TASERED & PREGNANT: At that point, I bent over to come out of my coat so I could get away because I had just really gotten scared. I didn't know they would attack you from behind like that. I was trying to turn to my side because it was hurting. So, I was trying to get to my side, and so he had this arm around and he had tased me. He's like, put your other arm around, put your other arm around. But the problem was I was laying on it and I didn't have it.


HARRIS: Police say the officer didn't know the woman was pregnant and was trying to protect the little boy. The department and the FBI are both investigating.

COLLINS: Shocked into submission. A man gets tasered on a Florida interstate after wandering through traffic on foot, reportedly armed with a knife. Here with the bizarre story, Don Lavarra (ph) from our affiliate Metro Networks.


DON LAVARRA, METRO NETWORKS REPORTER (voice-over): A standoff at the wrong place at the wrong time. With hands up and guns drawn, a zap from a taser drops David Pruitt (ph). This is Pruitt moments earlier, strolling across lanes of I-95. Traffic on this northbound stretch near Griffin Road at 9:30 in the morning was busy as usual. Worried drivers called 911.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's running in and out of traffic. He's going to get waffled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, OK, he's walking, pretty much through traffic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have units in the area now, but I'm going to go ahead and update them, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is horrific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's standing there with a bald head, got dark clothes, no shoes, and he's sweating and he looks like he's on something, but he's got -- he's wielding a knife.

LAVARRA: Pruitt did have a knife and no shoes. This road ranger learned that when he tried to help.

ALCEUS MEUS, ROAD RANGER: He pulled up his t-shirt and then took a knife. And then I see blood over his hand and then I tried to speak to him, but he came to me.

LAVARRA: The road ranger takes off, but Pruitt stays put. Watch as he tries to catch a ride on this big rig. Instead, he ends up nearly crushed. Then, a second ranger braves traffic to talk to Pruitt. DAVID GRIMSTEAD, ROAD RANGER: Pulled a knife on me and just -- next thing I back away from him, next thing I knew Broward sheriffs was there.

LAVARRA: A BSO deputy and an off-duty Miami Beach officer now confront Pruitt. They halt traffic and order him to the ground.

GRIMSTEAD: He was resisting the officer the whole time.

LAVARRA: With no cooperation from the barefoot knife-wielding man, the deputy fires his taser.

VEDA COLEMAN-WRIGHT, BROWARD CO. SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Sometimes they have to be deployed to actually protect the victim or protect the person from himself.


COLLINS: Police say they do not expect Pruitt will face any charges.

Stunning statistics, shocking numbers on AIDS in the nation's capital. Find out what's being done about it.


HARRIS: And good morning again, everyone. You're with CNN. You're informed.

I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on Friday, the 30th of November. Here's what's on the rundown.

A huge red ribbon on the White House for World AIDS Day. We'll hear from President Bush this hour. Plus, the AIDS crisis in the African-American community.

HARRIS: A plane slams into a wooded hillside. Could anyone survive this crash?

COLLINS: Sex offenders lurking in the gym? One Y runs background checks and gets a surprise. Memberships revoked in the NEWSROOM.