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Bernanke's Testimony; Campaign Trail; Over-the-Counter Cold Remedies Not for Children under Two; Glenn Beck Interview

Aired January 17, 2008 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We'll be talking about the issues facing voters in Nevada and how they translate across the nation coming up over the course of the next couple of hours. Right now, Kiran has some more information this morning on what is a major issue for everybody across the country today.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, a major issue involving your money and the fed chairman is reportedly going to back plans in congress and by the president to help boost the slumping economy. Ben Bernanke expected to warn lawmakers when he testifies today that the nation faces severe budget problems in the future. This comes as President Bush is calling on Democrats to support a package of tax rebates for individuals and businesses to help stimulate the down economy. The goal is to get people spending money quickly. But with the mortgage crisis draining billions from banks and the Dow taking some hits so far this year, it may not be enough. And critics say that Washington needs to strike fast for any plan to succeed. Stephanie Elam is in for Ali Velshi, following more on this, this morning. They talk about this stimulus plan, what are the biggest highlights of it?

STEPHANIE ELAM: Well let's take a look at exactly what Ben Bernanke says needs to be included in this plan. First off, he's saying that it needs to stimulate the economy this year, this is his message to policymakers. He's saying it needs to avoid boosting the federal deficit in the long-term and it needs to support economic growth through increased consumer and business spending. So if you take a look at that, let's move on and take a look now at what the Republicans have included in their package. One thing the Republicans and the Democrats both say, tax rebates for individuals that should be in there. But then this is where it differs a little bit. They want an investment tax credit, the Republicans do, and reduce corporate taxes. In other words, they want to avoid any tax increases related to offsetting the cost of the package, that's an incentive for businesses, obviously, that's the Republican side.

Let's move on and take a look at the democratic side of the things. Again, tax rebates for individuals and they want to extend unemployment benefits and also have grants to state and local governments. There is a little bit of overlap here between both sides. They're hoping to have a deal hammered out possibly by January 29th, some sides in congress are saying because that's when the president's "state of the union" address will occur, also the president looking to have a conference call with both sides in congress today to see what they can do as far as getting the stimulus package out there. Also keep in mind the fed will meet, to hear what they will decide to do as far as interest rates on January 30th. So a big week the last week in January to see what government says is going to happen here to help out the economy.

CHETRY: It seems everyone agrees, whatever is going to be done needs to happen fast?

ELAM: Very fast, exactly, and this year.

CHETRY: Thanks Stephanie.

ELAM: Sure.


ROBERTS: Two days to go now until the South Carolina primary for the Republicans and still no clear front-runner in that state. CNN's Dana Bash joins us now live from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Dana, what's the biggest issue right now for South Carolina Republicans?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are a lot of issues but interesting is that a big issue here is just the same as it was in Michigan and that is the economy, John. Just like in Michigan, which has a flood of trouble with this backbone industry, the auto industry, South Carolina of course has had major problems with what had been its backbone industry and that's textiles. So you do see the economy being an issue, the unemployment rate is nearly 6 percent, that's certainly higher than the national average. That's why you saw Mitt Romney use his winning argument in Michigan about the economy here all day long yesterday. The other things that South Carolinians, particularly Republicans are focused on are some social issues. This is the first southern Republican primary of the season. So the issues tend to be more conservative. You heard John McCain talk about something he rarely talks about, which is his long standing opposition to abortion. And then you also have the issue that is across the board with Republicans, that is immigration. That could be a dividing line between the two people who might be vying for the top spot here that is Mike Huckabee and also John McCain. John?

ROBERTS: Dana, South Carolina far more like Iowa than New Hampshire when it comes to an evangelical population. Which one of the candidates is best positioned to attract support from them?

BASH: Mike Huckabee of course is a former preacher and he has been courting that constituency so hard. He says my base is much broader than the evangelical base. He says that over and over again. But if you just watch the way he is campaigning here, for example, yesterday, he had a private meeting with pastors. He went to a southern Baptist university where the students are deeply religious and he had a moment of prayer with one of the heads of the university, where he was asked when he found Christ. Without missing a beat, he was able to talk about his point of revelation when he was 10 years old. That is the kind of thing that Mike Huckabee thinks is going to help him here. Because you're right, it is a big part of the Republican base, I think probably it's going to be about 40 percent of the vote this Saturday. But you know he is getting a run for his money from somebody like Fred Thompson. Fred Thompson does not wear his religion on his sleeve but he is also campaigning as a consistent conservative, he's campaigning as a southerner so that could help him as well with that constituency.

ROBERTS: All right, we'll see how it goes. Only a couple days left. Dana Bash this morning in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The outcome of Saturday's Nevada caucuses could hinge on a court ruling today. A lawsuit seeks to prevent democratic caucus sites in casinos where workers can caucus at or near their jobs. Many of them belong to the culinary workers union which has endorsed Barack Obama. The teacher's union has joined the suit saying it's unfair to accommodate some workers over others. The Clinton campaign denies that is behind the lawsuit and Bill Clinton got a little testy when he as asked about that.


BILL CLINTON: We had nothing to do with that lawsuit. I read about it in the newspaper. So when you ask me that question, your position is that you think the culinary workers vote should count, a it should be easier for them to vote than for anybody else in Nevada that has to work on Saturday, that's your first position. Second, when they do vote, their vote should count five times as much as everybody else. That's what the teachers have questioned. If that's your position, you have it. Get on your television station and say, I don't care about the home mortgage crisis, all I care about is making sure that some voters have it easier than others and that when they do vote, when it's already easier for them, their votes should count five times as much as others. That is your position. If you want to take that position, get on the television and take it. Don't be accusatory with me, I had nothing to do with this lawsuit.


ROBERTS: The fact of the matter is that these at large caucuses are not just for members of the culinary workers union, anyone within a 2 1/2 mile radius of those locations can go, they don't have to work at the casino, they can work at McDonald's, they can work at a rental car agency. Those rules were approved by Nevada democrats last March. The lawsuit was filed last week just after the culinary workers endorsed Obama. Kiran?

CHETRY: All right, we also have some breaking news overnight in your neck of the woods now, Las Vegas. O.J. Simpson leaves jail after spending days behind bars for violating a bail agreement. New pictures coming out overnight of O.J. walking out the back door of the Clark County Jail. Simpson has been locked up since Friday. A judge doubled his bail to $250,000 for trying to contact a co-defendant in his robbery and kidnapping case. She also had some tough words for the former NFL star.


JUDGE JACKIE GLASS, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA DISTRICT COURT: I don't know if it's just arrogance. I don't know if it's ignorance. But you've been locked up at the Clark County Detention Center since Friday because of either arrogance or ignorance, or both. Let me make sure that you understand. That if you violate those rules and anything like this happens in the future, it won't matter what Mr. Grosso and Mr. Galanter come in here and tell me. You'll be back, locked up, in the Clark County Detention Center.


CHETRY: Simpson also put up his home as collateral after the judge found out that he didn't pay anything toward his earlier bail. Simpson's next court date is April 7th.

Former Republican congressman from Michigan linked to a terrorist fundraising operation. Federal projectors say that Mark Siljander allegedly took $50,000 in dirty money from a charity called the Islamic American Relief Agency to lobby, to get it off of a government list of charities that support terrorists. That indictment says he took the cash, laundered it, then lied to federal agents and prosecutors about it, saying the money was a donation for a book he was writing about bridging the gap between Christians and Muslims. The fed said the charity was secretly sending money to terrorists in Afghanistan. Siljander is charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice. Meantime, his attorney vehemently denies the charges.

The White House says there are no backup tapes of its e-mail records before October of 2003, because the computer tapes were recycled. The messages centered around some of the biggest controversies of the Bush presidency, including the Iraq war, the leaking of former CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity and the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes. The White House says the recycling was done routinely and not to hide any evidence.

You may have heard it before but the message is going official today, do not give cough or cold medicine to children under the age of 2. The government wants to make sure that parents understand that over the counter cures don't work and could put their kids at risk. Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the medical update desk. It was about four months ago that we first reported this when a lot of makers of these multi-symptom cold relief, they pulled them off the shelves for infants and toddlers under the age of 2. So what's new about it today?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is going to be an official announcement from the FDA now simply saying that it is too risky for children under 2, period. The last announcement that you heard back in October, danced around it a little bit, saying look, you know the risk-benefit ratio really doesn't add up here. But there may be cases when cold or cough medicine may still be ok. Now they're saying just simply too risky.

As you mentioned Kiran, it is simply an issue of risk and benefit. When you talk about the benefits, it may surprise a lot of people there's really no studies to show that there's a benefit to cold or cough medicines in children under the age of 2. The risks, while admittedly rare, at least the disastrous ones, they can occur. So when you sort of put those two things together, you really get the bottom line, saying, just simply don't give this medication to children under 2. Some of the more common risks that might occur are sedation, kids get very sleepy with this, irritability, kids may have an allergy to the medication. In, again, rare cases, you may actually have a heart rhythm abnormality. Kiran, a larger issue probably is that the unintentional overdosing of these medications, sometimes a lot of these different medications have the same active ingredients, these medications are given in combination and all of a sudden a child gets a much larger dose of a certain ingredient than expected. About 1500 children have been hospitalized over 2 years, toddlers I should say, because of this very issue. It is cold season, as you know it's an important announcement certainly for a lot of parents out there.

CHETRY: It is the other issue about whether or not it is safe and/or recommended for kids then through the ages of 2 to 6 years old. What's the story with that Sanjay?

GUPTA: We've been on the phone with the FDA this morning about that very issue. They sort of had their sights set on that age group as well. Not quite ready to make as stark an announcement about children under 2, about the children between 2 and 6 as they have on children under 2, but that may come. We may get to the point in fact where children under the age of 11 are all basically told, parents are told, these medications simply don't work and there are potential side effects. So it just may not be a good bet anymore. Keep in mind that 3.8 billion doses of these medications are typically given every year, so a very large issue for parents and for the drug makers alike.

CHETRY: A lot of kids are sick right now, a lot of people are sick in general. So what's the advice for parents, they have a kid who's up coughing all night long, what do they do?

GUPTA: There are some non-medication sort of alternatives here and I have two children under the age of 2, so this is something I deal with pretty frequently. But when you think about overall what you can do, there are such things as humidifiers for example in the room. You can actually use saline drops, you can just put them in the nose to sort of take care some of the symptoms, a rubber nose bulb. Kids hate this but it's actually very effective. You actually put the rubber nose bulb in their nose and you literally suction them out. Chicken soup, good old-fashioned chicken soup and talk to your doctor about other alternatives. But again, when it comes to the cold and cough medicine specifically under the age of 2, simply don't use them.

CHETRY: All right, good advice. Sanjay we'll check in with you throughout the show. Thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.


ROBERTS: Coming up on 13 minutes after the hour, snow, sleet and freezing rain across much of the southeast, what this wintry weather means for your morning commute. We have the forecast just ahead.

Plus, presidential candidate John Edwards has a plan to create jobs. I talked with him and we'll hear from him coming up, plus a primary prediction that you may not expect, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING live from Las Vegas and New York. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, there he is, doing the polar bear paddle at the Philadelphia Zoo, this is a 400 pound polar bear who doesn't really have much trouble floating. The big bear has been living at the zoo for more than 25 years. How about that caught mid-dive? Not too bad, not a belly flop.


CHETRY: It was supposed to be a routine outpatient surgery but it landed our own Glenn Beck in the hospital for five days on the brink of suicide. Beck said he was lost in a cloud of painkillers and chemicals and he posted some of his thoughts on an online diary on his website. Since then more than half a million people have seen it. He says the thing that hurt the most was the way he was treated.


GLENN BECK: It was so weird to go from so much success, so much going on in your life to, in three days, being convinced that there is absolutely no reason to live. I have some stories that will melt your brain. And hopefully, will melt the brain of the CEO of this hospital. To wake him up to find out what's going on. It should be a wake-up call to all of us, because this is one of the hospitals where the president of G.E. is going. If they don't care about the president of G.E., do you really think they care about, you know, schlubs that are just average working stiffs?


CHETRY: Now, Glenn beck is back. He's on a mission to put the care back into health care in the run-up to the 2008 election. We're going to ask him what he thinks needs to be done about this major campaign issue, which candidates, in his opinion has the best plan for improving health care. He will be joining us live in the next half hour of AMERICAN MORNING. It got us thinking about our quick vote question of the day. Have you or anyone in your family ever had a nightmare experience in the E.R.? Right now, 33 percent of you say yes, 67 percent say no. Cast your vote at We'll continue to tally these throughout the morning and we also want to hear some of your E.R. stories both positive and negative. You can send them to us at

ROBERTS: Prostate cancer kills tens of thousands of American men every year. Now, there may be a test to help catch it early. How does it work? Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has got the details coming up.

And we're going to hear from Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards coming up after the break, who does he think is going to win in South Carolina, his own backyard? If you thought he would say himself, you might be surprised. Next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: It is an uphill battle for Democrat John Edwards, he is running third in Nevada, he finished second in Iowa and third in New Hampshire. But he says he's in it for the long haul and seemed confident when I sat down with him on his way to a campaign event in Reno.


ROBERTS: Senator, good to see you again. Thanks for dropping by.


ROBERTS: What are you proposing, in terms of trying to make sure particularly as it looks like we are going into a recession in this country, that people could hang onto the job they've got, that people will be able to get a job, those who were laid off. People will be able to weather this mortgage crisis and not lose their homes?

EWDARDS: I was actually the first of the three of us to come out with a really aggressive stimulus package and a plan to do something about the mortgage crisis. The stimulus package is green infrastructure, building our green infrastructure, which is a great jobs creation mechanism. Modernizing our unemployment insurance laws so we get more help to people who are being left out. More help to the states who unfortunately are cutting budgets and as a result keeping money out of the economy and it needs to be in the economy and not out of the economy. On the mortgage crisis, I think we need a home rescue fund to help with some transitional financing and some counseling for people who are struggling. We need to get bankruptcy courts the authority to restructure these loans, we need to put pressure on lenders to make more refinancing options available. This is a huge issue right here in Nevada because they have an enormous foreclosure rate in this state.

ROBERTS: you had proposed tax cuts for middle income Americans to try to stimulate the economy, yet at the same time your overall economic plan and your position on taxes is to roll back the Bush tax cuts on people making above $200,000 a year.

EDWARDS: That's right.

ROBERTS: Is this the time to be raising taxes on anyone?

EDWARDS: What we ought to be doing is we ought to be helping middle class families, helping to provide them with financial security. This economic stimulus I just talked about will do that. Dealing with down side, which are the foreclosures as a piece of it. But we also just got to give direct help to middle class families, that's what my tax cuts are for

ROBERTS: At the Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Monday night, you said it was a mistake to vote for the 2001 bankruptcy law which eventually got passed, the version of it in 2005. I'm wondering why you ever voted for it in the first place because it would seem to be in direct contradiction to the position you hold in terms of helping middle class individuals, particularly, as you said at the debate, mothers who might be beset with enormous medical costs would have to declare bankruptcy. Why did you vote for it?

EDWARDS: I voted for a version of it that was reforming a really terrible loophole that existed in the bankruptcy law that allowed the richest Americans to put money, it's called the homestead exemption, put money into multi-million dollar homes and the bankruptcy courts never being able to touch them, particularly in places like Florida and Texas. I didn't think they should get that kind of special treatment but at the end of the day, as I said at the debate, it was not the right thing to do.

ROBERTS: The foreign policy issue, Iraq, the defense minister of Iraq recently said he believes it won't be until 2018 that Iraq can effectively defend its borders. What does that say for your plan to pull American troops out within 10 months of you taking office?

EWDARDS: It says that we don't let the Iraqi minister decide what America's going to do in Iraq, the president of the United States sets American policy. It doesn't change anything that I believe.

ROBERTS: If in fact it is the case that Iraq cannot effectively defend its borders by pulling American forces out, will you not be leaving it vulnerable?

EDWARDS: No, because there are two things that need to be done in conjunction with starting to pull out combat troops, number one, we have to intensify the effort for the Sunni and Shia to reach some political reconciliation. Without that reconciliation, there cannot be stability in Iraq and then secondly, Iran, Syria, the other countries in the region, we're talking about the borders, need to be engaged in an intense diplomatic effort for them to provide stability instead of instability.

ROBERTS: A couple of important contests ahead of us, state of Nevada, state of South Carolina. 2004, you won South Carolina, can you repeat?

EDWARDS: I think I'll be competitive there. I have no way of predicting. I don't know what's going to happen. I think we see these polls that are widely variable, they were wrong in Iowa, they were wrong in New Hampshire. We've only had two contests so far. I'm in this for the long haul.

ROBERTS: Senator Edwards, it's always great to catch up with you. Good luck in Nevada, good luck in South Carolina, good luck in Florida, and we'll see you again I guess in Myrtle Beach.

EDWARDS: Look forward to it.

ROBERTS: Take care.

EDWARDS: Thanks.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE) ROBERTS: In order to be competitive in South Carolina, Edwards has just released a bold new ad campaign there, aimed at separating himself from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Kiran?

CHETRY: All right, still ahead you're watching the most news in the morning and it is the most common form of cancer in men but now there's a new blood test that may be able to predict your level of risk for prostate cancer. Simple blood test, we're paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta with more details coming up.

Also his disturbing rant about a simple surgery gone wrong swept the internet. Glenn Beck is joining us live with some tough talk on the state of health care, his own hospital horror story as well ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: Well, if breakfast is already wearing out, you're thinking about lunch, here are some of the fine fare that's being offered at Trader Vic's today. Look at that Crispy Duck Tacos on the right, Szechuan shrimp on and of course, one of the trademark Mai Tais there on the coconuts to wash it all down. I tell you, given the temperature here in Las Vegas, I'd love to have a Trader Vic's hot chocolate right about now. Thursday, the 17th of January. I'm John Roberts live in Las Vegas, Nevada, where at the outdoor patio of Trader Vic's, overlooking the Las Vegas strip. You want me to bring some of that back for you, Kiran? I know you're probably hungry already.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: And you know the answer to that. I was just saying, what torture for you. It's too early for you to be able to enjoy all of that great food but it's sitting out in front to you. It's only 4:30 in the morning for you so I'm sure you're not eating Szechuan shrimp with a Mai Tai.

ROBERTS: It went cold a long time ago, too.

CHETRY: Well, good morning once again. I'm Kiran Chetry here in New York. We have some new news this morning. In fact, some very, very troubling news. Now, three Navy crewmen are dead, a fourth listed in critical condition after a helicopter crash. This happened in a farm field near Corpus Christi, Texas. The Sea Dragon helicopter exploded in flames after crashing in heavy fog. A witness says he saw a huge red fireball and a giant boom. Rescuers were hampered by downed fire lines at the scene. The crew was on a training mission out of the naval station in Corpus Christi.

There are also some brand new pictures just in to CNN. A number five alarm fire in Manchester, New Hampshire. Flames tearing through at least four apartment buildings, two of them destroyed. The fire broke out around 3:15 this morning. Firefighters say they did have it under control by 5:30 and they say the think everyone made it out safely. Two firefighters though are being treated now for injuries and they're still on the scene putting out hot spots this morning.

Congress now looking into ads for the cholesterol fighting drug, Vytorin. A recent study showing that Vytorin may be no better than a cheaper generic cholesterol drug. A sub committee will investigate whether data from a clinical trials was withheld and whether those Vytorin ads are misleading.

Also, new this morning, a plan to put more money in your pockets. The Fed chairman Ben Bernanke saying he will back a package of tax cuts and spending measures to stimulate the struggling economy. The emergency plan could be finished within the next few months. So, how much could it mean for you and could it head off a recession? We'll get a live analysis coming up at the top of the hour. John.

ROBERTS: Coming up on 33 minutes after the hour. Caught in the crossfire in Kenya, our Zain Verjee was right in the middle of the political chaos between protesters and police when cops fired tear gas.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: They're firing back. Argh. They hit me.

ROBERTS (voice-over): Zain was slightly bruised but she's OK. She was more angry about the unprovoked attack than anything. Zain is a native of Kenya. She told Wolf Blitzer that it's an unfortunate example of the brutality there.

VERJEE: This is happening all over the country. There is excessive police brutality. I mean, they even fire tear gas on old ladies selling tomatoes. So, that's a real issue. This is what the demonstrators have been feeling the brunt of.


ROBERTS: The violence in Kenya has nearly killed 600 people and forced a quarter million from their homes since the disputed presidential election last month.

Well, dramatic news today for men about prostate cancer. Researchers have found a combination of genes that point to an increased risk. We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" this morning. Sanjay is in Atlanta for us. And Sanjay, how does this new test work? Is it better than that standard test for prostate cancer? The so-called PSA antigen test.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's very interesting thing, John, really important to think about this as different tests. When you think about this particular test you're talking about, it's really a genetic test trying to give you a sense if you're at risk of developing prostate cancer.

Where a PSA test really tells you if a problem has already developed. It could be something very benign but still a problem has already developed. The key, as you know, John, a lot of people know, is to try and get a sense if you can develop something before it ever develops in the first place. So, genetic tests that look at five different markers, that in combination with whether or not you have a family history of prostate cancer can tell you whether you're at nine times the risk of getting prostate cancer. So, it actually, the way it works, you just have a saliva. It's a saliva test, you produce some saliva, and it actually says if you have these five gene markers, you have a family history, that mean you have a nine times greater chance of developing prostate cancer. John.

ROBERTS: So, if a young man finds out that he is at high risk from this genetic test, what can he do to avoid getting prostate cancer?

GUPTA: That's a good question. You know, let me just take a step back and say allow these tests, that's a critical question before you develop the test. You got to make sure there's a plan if the answer comes back positive. If the answer comes back that you're at higher risk. There are some specific things when it comes to prostate cancer. Some of them just obviously makes sense. Obviously, your doctor's going to know about that, that may lead to increased screening, for example, yearly check-ups, the not smoking, watching your diet, losing weight, exercising, all that obviously is still important. But I think you probably just be more vigilant about this in terms of getting those subsequent PSA tests and getting those yearly physical exams as well. John.

ROBERTS: Quickly, Sanjay how soon could we expect to see this?

GUPTA: Normally, when you ask me that question, I say it's years away but with this one we actually called about that and I just say in just a couple months you could see this in doctors' offices and the plan ultimately is to get it into a home kit so you could actually test at home. There's the website there. You could see it's proactive genomics. You could check it out there. You can even sign up and you'll get an e-mail for when this particular product actually comes market. It comes from Lake Forest University Laboratories. That's who developed it and we've been talking to them about that. A couple months is sort of the projected time frame.

ROBERTS: Great. Good deal. Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Now let's get back to Kiran in New York.

CHETRY: And yes, happening overnight, a royal rumble in the skies, new video this morning of Britain's Prince William learning take off and landings at the Royal Air Force College, about 100 miles north of London. Prince William is there as part of a four-month long deployment. His dad, Prince Charles, and his uncle, Prince Andrew, both trained as pilots with the RAF, Royal Air Force. Last year, William spent time with the ground forces and then later this year, he will be training with the royal navy.

36 minutes past the hour, Rob Marciano keeping track of the weather for us. And boy, you're smiling. They were thrilled in Atlanta when I talked to Sanjay and some of our producers down there. First time in a couple of years, you guys got snow? MARCIANO: Yes, you know, everybody is kind of walking around with a big smile in their face, like we're kids again. And it all takes is a just few flakes of snow. It was pandemonium, Kiran, across Atlanta last night. The local TV stations certainly were on it, not really accummulation maybe about half an inch in some of the grassy surfaces.

Here's where the storm is developing as it heads up the coastline. And a wintry mix still in the picture here. Western Carolina, eastern Tennessee, the Smokey mountains of Blue Ridge and heading up the Appalachians, as it gets into much colder air, it will turns into all snow. Some impressive snowfall tallies, nonetheless, 4 inches in Tiger Ville. Actually, we're getting some reports now in some of the mountains of South Carolina and North Carolina, upwards of 8 inches of snow. So, certainly a significant event. Greenville, South Carolina, that's not really in the mountains, 2.7 inches.

And Atlanta, certainly not in the mountains, but a thousand feet of elevation, just under a half inch. Here are some moisture heading up well, towards the DC area. There are some pockets of temperatures that are near the freezing mark. But anywhere from 1 to maybe as much as 6 inches of snow just to the west of D.C., probably just a wet, rain and snow event for New York. No problems for this storm but you'll get your storm certainly later on this season. Kiran, back over to you.

CHETRY: All right. Sounds good. Thanks, Rob. John.

ROBERTS: Hillary Clinton played hostess on her campaign plane yesterday. Can you tell that she's been flying a lot? Listen in.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We'll be offering in-flight entertainment, my (inaudible) in its many variations. Once again, thank you for joining us on Air Force One. We know you have choices when you fly. And so we are grateful that you chose a plane with the most experienced candidate. Thank you all. Have a great flight.


ROBERTS: By the way, the name of the plane, "Hill Force One." Worries for Hillary Clinton in her home state of New York. African- American voters who had been on her side have now pledge their support for Barack Obama. Jason Carroll takes a look at that story coming up. And it was supposed to be a simple surgery, it turned out to be anything but. The hospital horror story that made our own Glenn Beck consider suicide. We're talking to him ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, it could be a troubling sign for the Clinton campaign. Hillary Clinton was the only major democratic candidate on the ballot in Michigan. The reason is the other candidates move to withdraw to protest Michigan moving up the primary date. But the exit polling showing that instead of it being a landslide, 68% of African- American chose uncommitted rather than vote for Hillary Clinton. What does that mean for Hillary's fight for the black vote? Right here in her home state of New York. We sent Jason Carroll to find out and you know, we were talking before the break, a lot of the punditry were saying, you know, that six months ago, she had the black vote locked up.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not anymore. But nearly every political expert you talk to will tell you that Clinton is expected to carry New York. Even so, a number of African-Americans we spoke to say they will break with tradition and cast their vote for Barack Obama.


CARROLL (voice-over): This is Harlem, New York. Some here call it Clinton Country.


CARROLL: This is where former President Bill Clinton opened his office in 2001, not a surprising move considering some in the African- American community endearingly refer to Clinton as the first black president. Now, the prospect of actually electing the first black candidate, Sen. Barack Obama is changing traditional political alliances.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been charmed by Barack from the moment that he spoke in the democratic convention years ago.

CARROLL: But the big question, can he really win.

Co-workers Daniel Gibson and Linda Webb are split.

DANIEL GIBSON, NEW YORKER: If I go for Obama, I just don't think he has a legitimate shot. I think republicans will tear him apart in the election.

CARROLL: You say Obama, why is that?

LINDA WEBB, NEW YORKER: Because he has fresh new ideas. And he...

CARROLL: You heard what your friend here said, he said Obama might not be able to go the distance.

WEBB: Yes, that's what he thinks. That's not what I think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're torn. It's not a rejection of Hillary Clinton. I think it's more of an affirmation of Barack Obama.

CARROLL: A Clinton campaign spokesman says they're not taking any votes, including African-American votes for granted. Several black leaders in New York, including democratic Congressman Charles Rangel and the Reverend Calvin Food support Clinton, Obama not giving up, he appeared on the Reverend Al Sharpton's radio show late Wednesday.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (VOICE-OVER): We've had a good communications of late and I really think together we can make some serious progress.

CARROLL: Sharpton says he still has not decided if he will support Obama.

REV. AL SHARPTON: I think he will get a lot of votes. The question is a lot enough to be a slam dunk? And I think there's a difference between a good lay up and a three-shooter. I think he'll score but I don't know if it's a three-shooter yet.


CARROLL: We'll have to wait and see. A number of African- American voters we spoke to also say they are still undecided who they will ultimately cast their vote for.

CHETRY: They want to hear more from the candidates, I guess.

CARROLL: We'll see if he goes all the way.

CHETRY: Jason Carroll, thanks. Good to see you.

CARROLL: All right. Good to see you, too.


ROBERTS: Kiran, something unusual spotted at Mt. Helens. Your "Quick Hits" now. A geologist is flying over the volcano noticed some steam coming from it and a 2.9 magnitude earthquake was measured just about the same time but scientists say that a major eruption is unlikely.

President Bush is teaming up with the Navy in a battle of environmentalists over the use of sonar. The President is trying to get the Navy sonar training missions exempt from certain environmental laws saying that it's necessary for national security. Environmentalists say the restrictions are designed to protect whales and dolphins.

CHETRY: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, Glen Beck unfiltered.


GLEN BECK, CNN, : I am recovering from some surgery that was scheduled and then went horribly awry.

CHETRY: We talked to the radio and "Headline News" host about his horrific surgery experience.

BECK: There was absolutely no reason for live.

CHETRY: Glen Beck on America's healthcare system and how his experience changed his life. Glen Beck live ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



ROBERTS: 13 minutes now to the top of the hour. If you're just joining us, here's a look at what's making headlines this morning. The Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke says he'll back a package of tax cuts and spending measures to stimulate the struggling economy. Hopes are that the extra cash won't stay in your pockets and instead will drive consumers to the stores. The emergency plan could be finished within the next few months. We'll have a live report on the details coming up at the top of the hour.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son says Hillary Clinton's comments about his father was a mistake. Martin Luther King III says he thinks the controversy was blown out of proportion though. Clinton said that King fought hard for civil rights but it took a president to get those dreams into law when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

A U.N. human rights official was blasting the Bush administration for what he calls failing the victims of Hurricane Katrina. After touring the hard hit areas of Louisiana and Mississippi on Wednesday, he said Katrina victims resembled poor people displaced by natural disasters in other parts of the world. The U.N. human rights committee has been critical of the Bush administration's efforts to help Katrina victims recover.

Now, let's get back to New York. Here's Kiran.

CHETRY: Thanks, John. You know, we want to give you a check of this morning's quick vote question. We're going to be speaking in just a minute or two to Glenn Beck, "Headline News" host and radio talk show host as well. He's going to be talking a little bit about a nightmarish experience he had in the E.R. So, we asked our viewers have you or anyone in your family ever had the same thing? And a whopping, at least right now, 71% of you saying yes, you or your family member have experienced a nightmare situation in the E.R., with 29% saying no. We've also gotten some e-mails from people describing different things that have happened to them. Boy, an eye opening to say the least and we're going to continue to follow it throughout the morning. You can vote by the way at

Meantime, republicans head into their primary in South Carolina this weekend and there's no front runner to rally around. "Headline News" host Glenn Beck is talking to us about that this morning and also his hospital horror story that swept the internet. In fact, nearly a million people watch as he described the situation. He says it was like being stuck in a horror movie. Glenn Beck is now back on the air and he's got some insight and a new mission. Glenn, good to see you this morning.


CHETRY: How are you? That's the bigger question. Are you all right?

BECK: I'm still recovering. My energy level is not nearly where it should be but I'm doing better.

CHETRY: All right. Let's... we want to talk more about it because many, many people found this interesting, clearly with how fast it spread across the internet when your video posted. First, let's talk a little bit about what's going on with the republicans, as we said, no clear front-runner.

BECK: Sure.


BECK: Because I don't think there's any clear - republicans have felt that we've been sold down the river. We've been sold a load of goods by this administration and those in Congress they claim that they were conservative and clearly weren't. Republicans actually do believe in smaller government and less spending and that's not what these republicans gave to us. We do believe in defense, closed the border, to make sure that we have a defensive posture and know who's in this country. That's not what republicans were giving us. So, what we did is we now look at these people and say, I don't know if I trust any of you. And so we are taking our time to decide which one actually believes in what they're saying.

CHETRY: That's interesting. So, when you talk about what issues the republicans need to focus on, you think immigration?

BECK: I think all of it. You just need to have conservative values. I mean, you have to mean what you say and say what you mean. Right now, the number one issue is the economy. How are you going to solve the economy? Well, it's certainly not by giving out, you know, $100 checks and have people go run to the store and go buy something. That's part of the problem. We are spending too much money. If you want to do something, send a signal to the business community that your taxes are not going to be jacked up in the next 18 months.

CHETRY: Right. It's interesting, though because a couple of the things that you said, proving you're a true conservative and a couple of things that you brought up are all what Fred Thompson has been saying. How come he's not catching on at all?

BECK: You know, I can't figure out the Fred Thompson phenomena. I was very excited and a lot of people were excited about Fred Thompson. But part of the deal of being president, part of the frustration for conservatives for the last eight years, has been we got a president who can't articulate, who can't come out and excite people. Part of being president of the United States is being able to ignite the imagination of the American people, to unite them all. Bush hasn't been able to do that. Obama can and Fred Thompson hasn't been able to do it. Surprisingly enough, he hasn't been able to do it.

CHETRY: Let's turn to your hospital experience. You posted this on your web site, telling your viewers and listeners what happened. Let's listen to a clip.


BECK: I'm recovering from some surgery that was scheduled, and then went horribly awry. It was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life.


CHETRY: What did happen to you, Glenn?

BECK: I had butt surgery. And I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about it on national television again. I went in and I went in for regular outpatient surgery, and I woke up in the middle of the procedure, I was in pain, they had to remedicate me, it took about 3 1/2 hours to stabilize me. I was in the hospital for several days. I was on everything, two different kinds of morphine. I was on a fentanyl patch which ends up being an end of life patch, 80 times more powerful than morphine. And I would stop breathing with the drugs. I mean it was just a really horrible situation. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Now, with that being said, the doctors were fantastic. The worst part of it, and the reason why I think this is a story, because honestly, it's butt surgery. I don't know why a million people watched this video on youtube except it's that we have all had these kinds of experience, where you go into the hospital, go in for the emergency room and it's like you're invisible. They don't even - it took me almost two hours before anyone actually looked me in the eye. When I was going in after my outpatient surgery, went in to the E.R., nobody even looked at me like a human being. In fact, one triage nurse says my wife, she's much smaller than I, she was actually carrying me in to the triage nurse, he actually took his fingers and drummed them up against the wall and went, come on.

CHETRY: You describe what you talked about, a lack of compassion among some, you said not all but enough that, it obviously affected your situation there. What do you think is behind that?

BECK: I think that we have a system now that is all about money. It is all about pushing people through the door, get them out, get them out, get them off of the books. I think that you also, because of litigation and everything else, who wants to do this job? This is a horrible job. And then, if you make a mistake and you're a nurse, you're in on it, too. You've got a problem, too. We've got to put the human part back into health care. We got to put the care back into health care.

When I talked to the head of the hospital, he started talking to me, and said, well, we have a building here that's very old. I said, don't talk to me about your building, talk to me about your people.

CHETRY: Right.

BECK: That's what's missing, people. CHETRY: Well, Glenn, apparently, you're not alone. We asked it as our question of the day, 71% of people said they had a nightmare experience. We have a ton of e-mails on the same subject that we're going to take a look at with our internet correspondence in just a couple of minutes as well. But, boy, that was eye opening for a lot of people, especially your video posting.

BECK: Yes.

CHETRY: Glad you're feeling better, by the way.

BECK: Thank you very much.

CHETRY: And thanks for being with us.

BECK: You bet.

CHETRY: By the way, you can catch Glenn every night on "Headline News" at 7:00 Eastern and a best-selling book out, "An inconvenient book." Good to have Glenn with us this morning. John.

ROBERTS: Just 34 minutes to the top of the hour now. And Kiran, Bill Clinton takes a shot at a local television reporter.


BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: That is your position. If you want to take that position, get on the television and take it. Don't be accusatory with me. I had nothing to do with this lawsuit.


ROBERTS: The Las Vegas streetlights that brought out the attack dog in the former president. And they've been hailed as wonder drugs but a new study debunks previous claims about statins and Alzheimer's disease. We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" for details, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Coming up to the top of the hour now. Is the nation in recession? Well that might depend on your vantage points. Stephanie Elam in for Ali Velshi this morning, "Minding your Business." Good morning, Steph.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: And well, yes. Let's take a look at what's what's coming up from the fed. The came up their beige book yesterday, "The Washington Post" taking a crunch of the numbers. Here's a few things they're saying about business conditions around the country. Unemployment is definitely up. We're also saying that consumers behind on the bills especially in really populated states like Florida, California and Michigan. In fact, Michigan in November, the unemployment rate 7.4%, the highest in the country. Nevada had an unemployment rate of 5.4%, that's above the nation's average of 4.7%. So, it seems like a lot of the economic damage seems to be concentrated in the centers hardest hit by the mortgage crisis like Arizona, Ohio and Nevada as well. But other states seem to be doing pretty well. And that's one thing that shows the split economy that we're seeing here.