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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
U.S. and South Korean nuclear Envoys Talking Strategy; Cities in Trouble; Tossed Off the Team; Outsmarting H1N1
Aired September 5, 2009 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING on this Labor Day weekend.
Good morning, I'm T.J. Holmers.
BROOK BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin, in for Betty this weekend. Happy Labor Day weekend to you. Hopefully you're just waking up, enjoying the coffee and not having to work this weekend. We appreciate you starting your Saturday with us.
We're talking about a lot, this morning. We're talking about the president, who is not necessarily laboring, per se, this weekend. He's up at Camp David. But Tuesday and Wednesday two big days for him.
Tuesday he is talking to students across the country. Basically, we're told, his message is Stay in school, study hard. But some parents aren't necessarily buying that message. They are up in arms, they say he is pushing sort of a partisan politic agenda at the nation's schools. They're not happy. The schools are stuck in the middle. We'll hear from Kate Bolduan and see how this whole thing is shaking out in Washington.
HOLMES: Also, kids going to school, upset about that and doctors upset about it as well because with kids getting back in school, also with colleges, kids getting back on those campuses, they're starting to congregate and that's going to make it easier for swine flu, the H1N1 to spread. We're talking to the CDC this morning.
BALDWIN: Also, we are talking to Stephanie Elam because she will explain this whole survey when it comes to cities, because a bunch of them are saying, guess what? We're broke. Well, look at a breakdown of exactly how they're coping, where the costs are, big issue it seems to me is the cities actually have to balance their budgets, unlike the Federal government which gets to have a deficit.
HOLMES: And states don't have that luxury. We want to hit at a couple of things happening overnight, we're keeping an eye on. One, North Korea trying to get them back to the negotiating table, that's the goal of a meeting today in Seoul according to the AP. The U.S. and South Korean nuclear envoys came together to talk strategy. Both countries want to see the talks start up again, of course it's in everybody's interest now that North Korea claims to be in the final stage of uranium enrichment. BALDWIN: And we're getting some new numbers this morning indicating that Brazil, did you know this, Brazil apparently has the world's highest number of H1N1 deaths. The country's health ministry is blaming the virus for 657 deaths here, just to give you some bit of comparison, a total of 593 people have died from the virus right here in the U.S. Those numbers, of course, according to the Centers for Disease Control here in Atlanta.
HOLMES: The police chief in Glynn County, Georgia, called it the worst crime scene in his 20-plus years as an officer. Now they have a suspect. That suspect is under arrest. His name is Guy Heinze Jr., arrested yesterday, charged with eight counts of murder. One of those people he's accused of killing, his own father. Let's turn to CNN's Sean Callebs outside Glynn County police department in Brunswick. Sean, good morning to you again. This is just an unthinkable crime here, so do we have or do police hinting at all about a motive?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: TJ, not at this moment. I think one thing that has characterized this investigation for the past week, the authorities' lack of discussion about this publicly. They have been extremely tight-lipped. Think back. We know that eight days ago actually last Saturday these brutal murders occurred at a mobile home park, not terribly far from where we are now. The individual that made the 911 call, I think we've all heard that, a very passionate, very emotional 911 call, Guy Heinze Jr. saying my whole family is dead, urging authorities to get here as quickly as possible.
But when they did get there, they arrested him and charged him with three counts, one possession of drugs, he had some pot. He also had Darvocet, secondly tampering with evidence. He apparently took a shotgun from the house and hid it in a car and they also accused him of lying to authorities about his whereabouts leading up to that crime. We have video of him actually walking out of the jail yesterday afternoon around 4:15, a very odd chain of events that authorities still have not quite explained to us but around 6:45, a couple hours after he was released, he was charged with those eight murders. The police chief here in Glynn County held a news conference last night and he talked about what led to that arrest. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF MATT DOERING, GLYNN COUNTY, GA. POLICE: Very late this afternoon, two pieces of information came forward to us. We took those two pieces of information, compared it to the whole of all the evidence collected all week long. We were satisfied, that led us to believe that Guy Heinze Jr. is the responsible person for the murders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CALLEBS: What was that evidence? We simply have no idea. The authorities wouldn't talk about evidence. They wouldn't talk about a possible motive, very somber picture here. I want to show you the caskets last night at a funeral home, about 45 minutes from here in a small town of Jessup. Eight people who shared that mobile home, seven of them were in one room in that funeral home yesterday. We talk to some of the family members. They said they were simply shocked and floored when they found out that Guy Heinze Jr. had been charged with these crimes. TJ, that's the latest. We don't know when he'll be in court again. We don't know about an arraignment. I did speak with his defense attorney earlier in the week and he flat out adamantly denied Guy Heinze Jr. had anything to do with the killings.
HOLMES: All right, out Sean Callebs on the scene for us, Sean we appreciate you this morning.
BALDWIN: Summer's winding down. Imagine you're a student, you're heading back to class this week, some people excited, some people heading back to school begrudgingly. But the bottom line here is that on Tuesday, some students might think it's kind of cool that they get to hear and see an address from the president of the United States, but there's a catch here. Not everyone is exactly happy about this address the president is planning or at least the lesson plan that's coming along with it. Our own Kate Bolduan is live for us in Washington to explain this thing for me. Kate, it appears on the surface that the president is pushing a positive messages but a lot of parents are up in arms. Explain.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, there are a lot of people up in arms right now. When White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about this yesterday, he called it quote, silly season, when the president can't encourage young people to stay in school. Either way the president's planned Tuesday address as you talked about it, a sort of back-to-school pep talk has definitely kicked up some controversy, some parents saying they fear the event is politically motivated in a place that should always remain apolitical, the classroom.
It seems the main complaint is not about the address itself from the president, but rather some teaching material sent out by the Department of Education to accompany the president's remarks. Originally, they called for students to quote, write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. The White House has acknowledged that that lesson plan was probably poorly worded and has tweaked the language to instead suggest students write letters about their education goals and how they can achieve them. Going a step further then to try to set aside concerns the White House has now said it's going to post the president's speech online Monday so parents and everyone, politicians and students alike, can view and decide for themselves what they think of it and that has seemed to appease at least one outspoken critic, Jim Greer, the head of Florida's Republican Party spoke to Ed Henry on CNN radio. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Now the president is not going to have any lesson plan in there. He's just going to give a speech saying, stay in school, do your homework, etcetera. What's wrong with that?
JIM GREER, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA: There's nothing wrong about that. When they release the text of the speech on Monday, I'm going to have an opportunity to read it like other parents will and if there's nothing in there that other than what you just described, I intend to have my kids sit down and be respectful and listen to what the president has to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And Brooke we'll see if parents across the country agree with him (INAUDIBLE) when they read the text of the speech Monday.
BALDWIN: OK, we have the parents on one side. We have the students and we have the president here, but what about the schools? It seems to me they're just kind of caught in the middle of this controversy.
BOLDUAN: It sure does a little bit. Response has been a bit mixed, kind of depending on the state, also even the school district. It's really ranging from some schools encouraging students to watch the address, some, like in New Orleans, requiring it. But many others deciding not to show the speech or really saying they want to first review the text before deciding and in some places it's kind of a logistical thing, Brooke. Here in Arlington schools, right outside Washington where the president is actually going to be in one of the schools to make the address it's going to be their first day of school, so it might be a logistical thing in trying to get kids in class and then having to change up in the lesson plan at the same time.
BALDWIN: What a lesson plan that will be come Tuesday, though. Kate Bolduan live for us in Washington this morning, Kate thank you.
BOLDUAN: Of course.
HOLMES: We've been asking this morning what you think about the president's back-to-school speech. A lot of you have been weighing in and we appreciate it. Several ways you can reach us, twitter, facebook as well, also on our blog, which some of you all have been writing in to. I'm going to share a couple. We've gotten several already this morning as early as it is, a lot of you all are up and everybody has an opinion on this. We'll be talking about it the whole weekend, looking forward to the speech on Tuesday. I'll read it, smaller font here, sorry you can't read that probably too much on your screen. But I'll share what Nabil Achmed (ph) said, saying 9/10 of education is encouragement. I think it's sad when a speech by the president encouraging children to work hard, do their homework, respect their teachers turned into a political debate even before it's delivered. I think we should let him do the job we've elected him to do and support him for the right reasons and not oppose him for political reasons.
I want to share one more from Angela, a parent who says she was considering keeping her daughter home on Tuesday, when she got word the White House was releasing a copy of the speech and spoke to her teachers, said she would use no material sent in by the Department of Education, I changed my mind, assuming nothing political is going to be in that speech on Tuesday. So a couple of opinions, a parent there doing what a parent should do, due diligence, called the school, talked to the teacher, did her homework, didn't get caught up in all the hubbub and able to make the decision for herself. We appreciate you. Please send those comments, keep them coming in. We'll continue to read some of those this morning. But a key point there, the president is on Monday going to release the text of that speech so everybody will get the chance to read it on their own but again as we know the speech itself not so much the problem. It was some of those materials that were coming along with it.
BALDWIN: Right, but talking about transparency, the fact they're giving the text, parents can take a look, you mentioned due diligence. Every parent wants to do it. We'll have to see after Monday if more students will be heading to school Tuesday.
HOLMES: Meanwhile, we'll turn back to the fire out in California, containment still a bit off for the firefighters out there, who are fighting this fire in LA County. This is the station fire, it's known as. And while the battle goes on, investigators now looking into the cause of that fire and they said it was caused by someone. This was an arson case they believe they are looking at. The California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has now announced that $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The wildfire has burned more than 150,000 acres and destroyed over 70 homes and buildings.
BALDWIN: And Reynolds was out there, much of this past week, covering this thing and Reynolds, correct me if I'm wrong here, but the Santa Ana winds not really much of an issue for firefighters out west, correct?
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: They weren't an issue at all in this particular fire and it's so rare to hear of these fires and not have them mentioned because usually when you do have these fires, the Santa Ana winds one of the big catalysts to really promote these fires in spreading, really to get them moving. With this there was very little smoke so that whatever smoke was formed from these fires actually would straight up and really hamper the visibility of many of the firefighters, not just on the ground but those also attacking the fire from the skies above. So it was a tremendous, tremendous issue.
BALDWIN: Thanks, Reynolds.
HOLMES: We'll turn to Afghanistan now where an investigation is under way, taking a closer look at a NATO air strike there. What happened is the Taliban fighters apparently hijacked two coalition fuel trucks. NATO hit back, blowing up both trucks but in that blast and that fireball, at least 90 people were killed and people are wondering now how many of those killed were possibly civilians. CNN's Atia Abawi joins us now live from Kabala. I guess Atia, that is the big question. Do we know yet, has anyone confirmed just how many civilians may have been killed as well in this air strike?
ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the exact number is not known just yet. Local Afghan government officials have told us that 90 people have been killed, dozens of civilians and dozens of Taliban as well and many, many more actually injured and burned by that air strike that happened when the Taliban hijacked those two fuel tankers and those tankers got stuck in a riverbank and people started to surround it to deplete the truck of fuel for personal use. Right now we're hearing that (INAUDIBLE) has sent a team to investigate as has the Afghan government. President Karzai is sending a team out himself.
President Karzai has very much so publicly been against these NATO air strikes that have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Afghans and obviously this coming two months after a new directive by the commander of (INAUDIBLE) forces, General Stanley McChrystal (ph) who stated that no NATO forces should attack any area or attack any militants if they are in the vicinity of civilians, because to win in any sort of way to make any achievements in the Afghan war, you need the support of the civilians and civilian casualties has obviously been making the Afghan people turn away from the coalition forces. TJ?
HOLMES: Atia Abawi, we appreciate you, as always, keeping an eye on things for us in Afghanistan. Thank you so much. We'll check in with you again.
And also still ahead this morning, investigators looking into whether accused kidnaper Phillip Garrido is connected to other cold cases. New evidence being hauled out of his backyard.
BALDWIN: And the H1N1 virus or swine flu, whatever you want to call it, we will tell you who's at risk and if you really need to be worried here.
HOLMES: And usually in all athletic competition, after the game you're supposed to say good game no matter if you win or lose. You're not supposed to do that.
HOLMES: We will tell you what that one punch is costing the guy who threw it.
WOLF: Two chances of becoming a professional singer. Not going to happen for me. I can give you guys some ideas what to do on a weekend.
BALDWIN: Hey, yes.
HOLMES: If we can get a weekend off that would be great.
WOLF: Guys we have an idea for you. You can go off the beaten path for a surreal desert adventure in the American southwest, try Tucson.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WOLF (voice-over): A trip back to the wild, wild west in Tucson, Arizona, can be fun for the entire family. It's just two hours from Phoenix but the two cities are world apart.
STIRLING KELSO, TRAVEL + LEISURE: Phoenix sort of has manicured gardens and transplanted palm trees, Tucson really embraces its desert identity.
CRAIG IVANYI, ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM: The Sonoran desert is the lushest desert on the planet. I think that's one of the most important things (INAUDIBLE) just realizing how much biodiversity is in this small area (INAUDIBLE).
WOLF: A must see for people of all ages is a look inside the Arizona Sonora desert museum. Kids get in free.
KELSO: If you're on a budget, the Arizona Sonora desert museum is a great place to visit. It's got a museum there. There's outdoor education and a zoo all in one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to be blown away by what this desert actually has to offer.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WOLF: See, this is really cool, a place where you can actually see a giant puma and a desert flower all in one place.
BALDWIN: All in one day.
WOLF: You can't do that all the time.
BALDWIN: I've been to Tucson, it's nice, gone to a wedding there.
WOLF: Good times.
HOLMES: All right, Reynolds, we appreciate you as always, buddy.
BALDWIN: Still to come here, we are talking health care, this whole debate really rages on.
HOLMES: The town hall meetings to the tea parties, to Reynolds Wolf. We'll tell you what all the fuss is about. Stay with us.
BALDWIN: Checking out some of the morning's top stories. Have you heard the story of the murders of eight people in a small town in Georgia. There was a guy who called it in, called 911, that his family essentially had been beaten it death. Now guess what? Police believe that guy, 22-year-old Guy Heinze Jr., was behind last weekend's killings at his father's mobile home in Glynn County. Heinze's father was among the victims and a three-year-old, a three- year-old child the only survivor here in this killing spree is still in the hospital this morning. Funerals for seven of the victims will be held today.
And authorities returned to the home of a California kidnapping suspect to seize his van. The "Contra Costa Times" reports that Phillip Garrido's van was seized yesterday as possible evidence here in the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard. Garrido, you've heard the story. He's the man charged with abducting the then 11-year-old Dugard back in 1991 and having her live in his backyard in some of those tents and the shacks. Well now, the now 29-year-old Dugard getting reacquainted with her family.
And international investigators are taking a closer look at the scene of a deadly NATO attack in Afghanistan right now. The latest number we have, 90 people killed in the bombings of a pair of coalition fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban fighters. A U.S. plane was called in for the air strike on those trucks. Investigators now, the big question is how many civilians might have been killed in that attack.
HOLMES: Grown folks trying to deal with what's happening in the economy right now, but a lot of people are trying to talk to their kids about it as well. An important step for parents during tough times.
BALDWIN: Absolutely. It's one of the items our own Gerri Willis will be talking about on "Your Bottom Line" this morning and she also has a special co-host today.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, guys. Good morning. Coming up on the show today, health insurance secrets, we'll tell you what your provider doesn't want to you know and how it could be costing you big time.
Then, do your kids know how to manage money when you're not around? What to teach them before they head to school every day.
And I have got a special guest, Elmo is here to talk about helping your children understand these tough economic times.
ELMO: That's right, Miss Gerri. (INAUDIBLE) because Elmo has too many toys but Elmo's mommy told him that lots of families are going through the same thing. Right Miss Gerri?
WILLIS: That's right and we're so glad to have you here. TJ, Brooke, 9:30 Eastern time, come down, we'll be talking to Elmo and personal finance expert Jean Chatzky (ph) about how parents can get the conversation started with their kids when it comes to understanding family money.
ELMO: See you soon.
BALDWIN: She got Elmo and when Betty's off, you're stuck with me.
HOLMES: Would I prefer a puppet here? No, I prefer you, a living, breathing human being.
BALDWIN: Thanks, TJ.
HOLMES: Good to have you here with us.
BALDWIN: Thanks. Radio towers pulled to the ground, why officials are calling it an act of domestic terrorism. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Let's talk some dollars and cents shall we? You know all that money you've been paying in taxes, well, get this, nine out of 10 cities say it is gone and along with it, jobs and services. Oh, and they also say get ready to pay higher taxes. This week the National League of Cities released its most pessimistic outlook in the group's 24-year history. Our own Stephanie Elam take a little time with us on this holiday weekend to talk about this pessimistic report and Stephanie, how bad is it?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brooke, it was important enough to get up and join you guys this morning to talk about it.
BALDWIN: And we appreciate it.
ELAM: Thank you. It's a really big story here and it really will affect so many Americans. It's a rough position American cities are in. Nine in 10 city finance officers say it's going to be difficult to meet fiscal needs this year and most believe the worst is really yet to come. That's according to the National League of Cities and this as you said the most pessimistic outlook in the report's 24-year history. The problem that cities have, balancing their budgets, they have to do it. The Federal government, they can run at a deficit. Cities cannot do that, so because of that, cities actually have to act immediately so they're raising taxes and cutting spending and obviously that affects everyone who lives in one of these cities, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I think that's a good point. A lot of people may not realize that these cities actually have to balance their budget so the question then is, what are they doing? Are they laying off workers, cutting pay?
ELAM: You know, there's a myriad of ways they're coping. In fact, let me just show it to you. We've got a nice graphic here to show you, that 67 percent are laying off workers or they're instituting a hiring freeze. We also have 62 percent say they're delaying or canceling infrastructure projects all together. Forty five percent have increased fees for services so when I say services, think things like garbage collection, your overdue library books or water use, things like that. That's how they're doing little things which obviously affect these people again in those towns.
BALDWIN: So check the calendar. We've been in the recession technically since December of '07.
BALDWIN: Why are we just now hearing about this?
ELAM: There's a delay, when cities actually feel the effects of a recession and that's because cities collect revenues at a few specific times during the year so there's a lag time before economic shifts affect city budgets; that lag time can be anywhere from 18 months to -- get this -- several years.
ELAM: So with that sort of lag time that you can see it's going to trickle on here for longer than if the economy were to come out of a recession today.
BALDWIN: So why specifically are some of these cities having such problems, you know, when it comes to the budgets? What are the biggest most specific problems they're facing now?
ELAM: Yes and you may not be surprised to hear, this Brooke, but cities do have a ton of costs that they have to manage. And when asked what's changed over the past year, city officials say their biggest problems are the cost of wages, health benefits, pensions, as well as infrastructure costs. And as those costs become a bigger issue, cities see less money.
Property, sales and income taxes, they all make up more than half of city revenues, but property taxes, those taxes in particular are expected to grow less than two percent this year, and then fall for the next three years and that's because home values, home values are adjusted to reflect falling values.
Secondly, sales taxes are expected to fall nearly four percent this year since people, they just aren't shopping. We talk about that all the time. Consumer spending is two-thirds of our economic growth, if people aren't spending it really affects us and then keep in mind that income taxes are expected to fall as well; 1.3 percent this year and we can really blame that on just rising unemployment. So that's why we look at these numbers and we can see that cities are really going to be -- really hit, and that's going to mean it's going to affect the services that you get and again, you can expect higher taxes -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: So it makes sense. I remember that story which Chicago kind of shutdown a lot of its city services and I think a couple other cities are as well trying to recoup a little bit of money -- a couple of million in a day by doing that...
ELAM: Just finding little ways.
BALDWIN: Yes finding little ways.
ELAM: But it -- of course, that's the one day that you needed to go.
BALDWIN: I know.
ELAM: Get something done...
BALDWIN: Of course.
ELAM: ...it doesn't seem like a little thing but that's how they're trying to make it work through this recession. And even if we're out, it's not like we're going to see these cities come back immediately so that's something to keep in mind as well. BALDWIN: Interesting, Stephanie Elam, great to see you. Get out of here.
ELAM: It's good to see you.
BALDWIN: Go enjoy your weekend.
ELAM: I am -- I'm going to brunch now.
BALDWIN: Are you jealous?
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: A lot, I'm going to lobby for her to be on our show every weekend.
BALDWIN: I love her.
HOLMES: I love Stephanie, one of my dearest friends...
BALDWIN: Good people.
HOLMES: ...on the planet and great to have her with us this weekend.
But we got some video here to show you, I don't know if you've seen this yet. This young man in the orange; you know you're supposed to shake hands after the game. You're not supposed to throw a punch. A young man who is a football player apparently wants to take up boxing and he has some free time now to do so.
Stay with us.
BALDWIN: Football season.
HOLMES: Yes, it started on Thursday the official kickoff of football season. It ended on Friday for one running back out of Oregon. This is really one of the saddest things you could imagine here.
Take a look at this, after the game, this is a really heated game, you see the punch there, LeGarrette Blount, a senior running back who'd actually hold the record at University of Oregon for a touchdown, with a thousand yard rush roulette, so he is a big deal for that team. One just that he threw a punch, look, he's throwing blows at his own teammates.
He -- if the video continues to roll here, you will see him actually going off on other, the fans. He had to be restrained by the police. Look at this.
BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness.
HOLMES: This just got ugly. He cannot play another football game this year because of that punch and his behavior after the game. He has been suspended for the year. He continues to practice with the team but he is not allowed to play so after the first game of the year his senior season he essentially cannot play anymore.
This is a big deal also. And you can see he was taunted there a bit. Not to say the guy deserved the punch.
BALDWIN: That is no justification my friend. I mean, that is just bad sportsmanship.
HOLMES: It was a heated game.
BALDWIN: It's a powerhouse school.
HOLMES: It is. And the kid -- he was probably going to get drafted for the NFL draft next year so he really needed a good year. Who knows how this will affect -- really his ability to make money, to have a career now but he really screwed up and lost his entire season of playing.
BALDWIN: An entire season?
HOLMES: Whole thing gone.
BALDWIN: So getting drafted?
HOLMES: And he still -- it could happen, he can stay in game shape but nobody is going to see him on the field the rest of the year and that's important to see how he behaves and performs in the game.
BALDWIN: Just a small, quick, fast decision like that...
HOLMES: It could change your life the way it had.
BALDWIN: ...just totally changes.
HOLMES: We go to bring in our Rick Horrow; Rick, our sports business analyst. He's got a plenty of things to talk about. But just -- I'll get your reaction to that.
I mean, a lot of people knew he might be suspended for some games but he's out for the year. This is really going to affect this young man's -- the rest of his life?
RICK HORROW, FORMER CONSULTANT FOR NFL, PGA AND NASCAR: Five seconds affects his entire life. We know he can get drafted if he's a prospect...
HORROW: ...but you're absolutely right it's going to take a whole lot of convincing that this should be a high round draft pick. Because not only is you're not going on the field, but everybody thinks well, the guy has got a temper and there's no place for that in football.
HOLMES: Yes. HORROW: So he's got a lot to overcome, correct.
HOLMES: And you know maybe if it was just the punch and not the aftermath of going after the fans maybe he could have gotten away with maybe just a few games suspension. But he just continued and continued and continued. So I hate it for the young man but, man, you pay for some of the things do you.
Let's move on now here Rick, to the U.S. Open, happening in -- up in New York right now in Flushing. This is the one that -- Americans certainly pay attention to this -- and not just that they don't watch the French and the Australian but in the Wimbledon of course. But this is the one a lot have their eyes on at least in this country.
HORROW: Well, yes, but also the economists have their eyes on it, because this looks recession-proof. Last year -- at the beginning of the year, they were celebrating all of their economics and then the economics turns south on them.
They all had a plan. They're much more flexible today; 700,000 people coming to this event. They also sold out 85 of their boxes. They have more revenue than before -- about $15 million in concessions and the revenues should go up, 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent during a recession. Why? Because it's 20 minutes from the epicenter of corporations and sports and they've done a lot to improve the quality of the fan experience, not just the product. They've done a good job.
HOLMES: And they have and it really is an experience up there and if you're not a tennis fan but the whole experience around the Arthur Ashe Stadium it really is nice. And all the big stars right now, the William sisters and also we just saw Federer there, they're all still in it. So that's of interest to the fans as well.
I want to move on quickly to this other story and take a turn here to the story, you know, this could really have long-term implications for how coaches coach in this country. This coach of course, as we know -- there's been a lot of press about it, young man dies on the football field in practice. This high school coach -- we're seeing video now, the trial is under way but again, kind of hit on here, Rick, the long-term implications this could have in reverberations around the country for high school coaches who all pushed their athletes on the field.
HORROW: Well, wanton endangerment, reckless homicide, those are heavy words. And this coach, who seems to be a fan and parent favorite, admitted that he pushed the -- it was a particularly aggressive practice. Does that rise to criminal behavior? They say that he denied water to kids.
There are standards, so the whole issue and the whole coaching community and everybody is watching whether being an aggressive coach in the heat of Louisville, Kentucky, last August, rises to criminal behavior.
The mom said, the coach said that he pushed too far. The coach says, "Look, I was just doing my job. I care for these kids." It will be an interesting jury decision.
HOLMES: It is and we all know, I mean, coaches, I mean, there's not a kid on that field who probably would have quit and who wouldn't have done exactly what the coach told him to do. But everybody is keeping an eye on that trial.
Last thing here, big weekend and this is it, a official season kicked off on Thursday for college football. But this is the big college football weekend. Even national championship implications already on the first weekend, so what have we got this weekend?" What are you keeping an eye on?
HORROW: Well, we're keeping an eye on the economics of college football. The SCC, the big deal, they signed a $3 billion, 15-year TV contract.
HORROW: Right? So $16 million to school. So even schools like your Alma Mater, Arkansas, what do you think of that? What do you think of that, there you go. Their haves and the have nots, there are four SCC schools in the top ten in revenue. Alas, my friend, Arkansas is not up there, but the season is young...
HORROW: And I guess, go Hogs. We'll talk about Texas eventually, right?
HOLMES: When Betty gets back we'll have to talk...
HORROW: When Betty gets back we'll talk about Longhorns.
HOLMES: But (INAUDIBLE) and we appreciate and everybody in Fayetteville, Arkansas, appreciate it as well. I just want to keep you here for awhile so we can continue to watch the hat.
HORROW: Yes, yes shout out, how's this?
HORROW: I've got to shout out; we have no self-esteem on this one. I know you want to keep me here.
HORROW: And luckily you're in the SCC, so everything works.
HOLMES: It's ok.
HORROW: I will continue to wear this.
BALDWIN: Rick, feel free to send that whole thing to him next weekend.
HOLMES: Oh, I'll wait. BALDWIN: Wouldn't you love to see...
HOLMES: Like I don't have one already.
BALDWIN: Bring it then.
HORROW: He does, but if you want to get one yourself dial 1-800-very- high-self-esteem, and not caring what anybody else thinks.
HOLMES: Always a pleasure Rick, we appreciate you. We'll see you again buddy. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend.
HORROW: See you next week. Thanks.
BALDWIN: Thank you. Wow, that's hysterical.
HOLMES: Yes, he is hysterical.
But coming up here: 10:00 a.m., actually, I need to tell you about this. George Washington Bridge considered a prime target for terrorists.
BALDWIN: Yes imagine this, you're a bicyclist, you cross the bridge all the time and you spot these guards snoozing on the job. We will find out what has happened to them, coming up here.
HOLMES: Also our Reynolds Wolf, big holiday weekend, a lot of people are going to be doing outdoor activities so everybody wants to hear from Reynolds Wolf.
BALDWIN: Of course.
HOLMES: If that plan is going to be ruined. See this is normal actually.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Oh, we're on? Oh, wow.
HOLMES: Reynolds is sleeping on the job, of course.
BALDWIN: It's been a tough week.
WOLF: Hey, exactly.
BALDWIN: Cut him some slack.
WOLF: Exactly, it happens sometimes.
Hey, if you're going to be enjoying your holiday by sleeping on the beach, take a look at this on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we have temperatures mainly to the 80s. Nice and cool for you in the water with temperatures right around 74 degrees. Also 80s can be expected in parts of Florida with a chance of those thunderstorms.
Your complete weekend forecast is coming up in just a few moments. Good times.
HOLMES: We heard about the H1N1 virus for the first time just months ago. Now, a new White House report warns that up to 50 percent of the U.S. population could be infected by the virus by winter. President Obama says he wants to be ready with answers before that ever happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're also making steady progress on developing a safe and effective H1N1 flu vaccine and we expect a flu shot program will begin soon. This program will be completely voluntary but it will be strongly recommended.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Dr. Beth Bell, an epidemiologist with the CDC joins me now. And ma'am, thank you for being here. We just heard the President say there that we are making steady progress on developing a safe and effective vaccine for the H1N1.
How close are we to having a safe and effective vaccine now?
DR. BETH BELL, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, CDC: The clinical trials are going on right now and we're anticipating that vaccine should be able by mid- October. We're working as fast as we possibly can. And we know people are eager to receive the vaccine and so we are focusing on getting this done as soon as possible to make sure that we do have a safe and effective vaccine.
HOLMES: And you feel pretty good that you're working on something -- you say trials -- and you think you'll have one by October so it sounds like at least you have something you believe will be effective.
BELL: Yes, these vaccines are being made in the way that's very well- known to us. It's very similar to the way we make seasonal influenza vaccines. And as you probably know, more than 100 million people receive seasonal influenza vaccines each year. So we have every expectation that we will have a safe and effective vaccine.
HOLMES: And Dr. Bell, tell us -- there's a lot of talk out there about once a vaccine comes out -- what it will look like. Will this be one vaccine or will people need to get two separate shots? Which way so far are we leaning on that?
BELL: That's one of the big questions that we expect to answer with the clinical trials. We think that probably at least some people maybe children will need two doses of the vaccine. But we really won't know for sure until we're able to look at all of the study data when the clinical trials are completed.
HOLMES: So, I guess, Dr. Bell, how problematic could that be if people have to get one shot and then go back a few weeks later to get a second and I guess they're not fully covered and protected against this until later in the year. We could be going for another month or two or maybe beyond with everybody running around this country still not necessarily immune but with no resistance to the swine flu. BELL: Well, you know, even now with the seasonal influenza vaccines, children 9 years and younger do need two doses so it's not surprising that some people might need two doses of the new vaccine as well.
You know, this 2009 H1N1 really has not gone away at all since it first appeared in the spring. We continued to see activity throughout the summer. There were outbreaks in camps.
Now that school is starting, I think we can expect to see disease increasing. And actually even now in the southeastern part of the country, where schools opened a few weeks ago we are starting to see increases in disease activity in many parts of the southeast.
HOLMES: So do you think that is directly the cause of, I was going to ask you next where we're seeing it, some of the locations we're seeing it, do you attribute that to the fact that people are starting to go back to school?
BELL: One thing about influenza is that it's very unpredictable. We've always seen lots of variation across the country in terms of what areas have a lot of disease at any particular time. And so it's hard to be sure of exactly why disease appears to be increasing right now in the southeast, but certainly possible that one factor might be that schools opened just a few weeks ago.
HOLMES: One thing here and I want to you break this down as simple as possible because I know this is on a lot of minds of a lot of people, a very simple way to break it down.
I don't get the flu vaccine every year. I know I should but I don't get a flu shot. I got the flu last year. I fought it off, I drank my fluids, I got some rest and I was fine.
Now if I don't get a swine flu vaccine, H1N1 vaccine, and I happen, God forbid, to get H1N1, will my body be able to fight it off just the same way as the seasonal flu or do I have more to worry about?
BELL: You know, anybody can get very ill from seasonal flu, although most people do fine and it seems that things are fairly similar in terms of the 2009 H1N1.
HOLMES: Ok, well, we -- a lot of people are -- we're trying to educate folks because a lot of people seem to be -- certainly are and should be concerned but we don't want everybody to be necessarily just alarmed at the same time. So we appreciate you coming on and continue to educate us about this. Thank you so much, Dr. Bell.
BELL: Thank you so much for having me.
BALDWIN: Continuing along the swine flu topic here, a growing number of you are concerned about the H1N1 virus.
In fact, take a look here at these numbers, a new CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll is showing that 39 percent of you worry that a family member will get the swine flu. Back in May, a little bit of a difference here, only 17 percent voiced that concern. Here's another question for you. When asked if you plan to get vaccinated against the virus, 66 percent said yes; 32 percent saying no.
HOLMES: And they think that vaccine is coming around, maybe Reynolds, maybe mid-October, late October and you might have to get two shots.
HOLMES: Before you get a good resistance to swine flu. So that means it could be the end of the year before some of the country starts getting vaccinated.
BALDWIN: Which could be too late.
WOLF: There are no better or more fun days than taking the girls in the Wolf house to go get their shots; always a great afternoon.
HOLMES: You have to get two now.
WOLF: Absolutely and daddy cries more than they do, trust me.
Something you won't cry about too much beautiful of the weather that we're going to be seeing across the country. This should be spectacular in many spots. We take look at the national perspective; very dry for you up in the northern plains, back out in parts of the southeast, very nice for you.
The question of showers are possible for parts of Florida. And right in the nation's mid section we could see a few scattered showers and storms. In fact right now take a look at St. Louis, they're being inundated with some heavy rainfall out by the arch (ph).
Meanwhile, just north of Jonesboro and north of Conway, we have some splash and dash thunderstorms, could see a little bit of flash flooding, but in terms of severe weather, it's not going to be a big severe weather day for you.
Great conditions along the coast, too, in the southeast, take a look at this right along the coast. Temperatures into the 80s, water temperatures are going to range from about 74 degrees off Cape Hatteras to the dry Tortugas and parts of the Florida keys into the 80s.
Meanwhile into the northeast looks pretty good. We were talking earlier this morning about shark sightings, one possibly a great white shot off Cape Cod, where water temperatures there will be into the 60s. Outside temperatures on the beach will be in the 70s. Stay out of the water if you're not too keen on the sharks.
Meanwhile, again it looks like it's going to be a pretty nice day for you but if you happen to be out in California, the firefighters are still having their work cut out for them. We're talking about high temperatures today along the coast in the 60s and 70s but in those inland valleys, the spots, the canyons where they're battling the blaze, the high uphill slopes -- high temperatures into the 90s and possibly some 100s.
Strong winds into the afternoon, too, funneling through those canyons, topping 30 miles an hour so they certainly have their work cut out for them.
That is the latest in your forecast. Let's send it back to you guys at the desk.
HOLMES: All right. Reynolds.
BALDWIN: Thank you, Reynolds.
HOLMES: As always we appreciate you, kind sir.
We want to continue following the story that people are going to be talking about all weekend -- it's a long weekend -- they will be talking about it until Monday. The President addressing the country's school children in an address that a lot of them could see, many might not see because of the controversy surrounding it.
It's not just that the President's going to speak to the kids about going back to school, the importance of education; lesson plans came from the Department of Education to accompany the speech and many people thought kids were essentially being asked to support the President, support his policies and things like that, but the Department of Education says no. They changed the plan a little bit as well.
BALDWIN: Right. And now Monday at least they'll be releasing -- the Obama administration will be releasing this text of the speech so some parents we're already hearing on some of our blogs, they said hey, you know what? Due diligence as you said earlier; we'll take a close look at the speech, see if it's up to snuff so we can send our kids to take a listen.
But it's pretty interesting some of the parents in what they're saying, very controversial; some saying this is no big deal and some saying it is.
HOLMES: Some saying it is. It's more so the lesson plan than just the President speaking. But we got one on our blog this morning that really caught our attention and I'm showing it to you here. This comes from someone whom we have touched base with this morning and who, in fact, works at the school in Virginia where the president is going to be speaking on Tuesday.
She writes in response to some of the other comments you're seeing and some the coverage saying, "You naysayers should see the excitement in our kids' voices as we've been preparing all week for the big speech. Our building is old and has major issues all the time. The other schools have been renovated and are new. We are scheduled for a new building in ten years because of the recession. Our kids are walking a bit taller and smiles beaming on their faces. Do you get it? There's a feeling of pride." She goes on to say at the bottom here, again, this is from someone who works at the school where the President is speaking on Tuesday, goes on to say, "I think it's a historic moment and I don't get how this has become such a major issue when other presidents have addressed youth in the past." Wraps up by saying, "This is a once in a lifetime thing. I hope he makes our kids think about being better citizens, more responsible, taking ownership of your education, resolving conflict without fighting, you know, the things our parents taught us."
That was the one that certainly stood out, coming from someone who works at the school where the President's going to be. And I guess that's one place we haven't heard from, the people at that school. All this controversy about that school and the President speaking and what the folks there, according to that employee, kids are walking tall.
BALDWIN: Yes. Some of the schools though kind of stuck in the middle as well.
HOLMES: Don't know what to do yet.
BALDWIN: What to do.
Still to come, we are continuing to push forward on this massive story out of Antioch, California, kidnapping. You know the story of 11- year-old or once 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard.
It has really had a profound impact on that community, but it also has a lot of parents thinking about the dangers of sexual predators, particularly those online.
HOLMES: Josh Levs taking a look at what parents should know before their kids go online. Stay with us.
HOLMES: Hello there everybody from the CNN Center. This is CNN SATURDAY MORNING on this Labor Day weekend. I'm T.J. Holmes.
BALDWIN: Good morning, I'm Brooke Baldwin in for Betty this weekend. It's 9:00 Eastern time, 8:00 for those of you waking up in Oklahoma, 6:00 for you early birds out on the West Coast. We appreciate you starting your holiday weekend with us.
HOLMES: You wondered how Oklahoma got in there. Like where did they come from?
BALDWIN: I'm like -- who, did a producer -- that's ok. Hello, Oklahoma, give them some shout out this morning.
Today we're talking about the President, of course. He is vacationing this week up at Camp David.
We've been talking this morning, reading some of our blogs. A lot of people very interested in the story given this back-to-school address on Tuesday to kids across the country but a lot of parents say hey, not so fast Mr. President. You're pushing this political propaganda.
So it's the sort of in between -- should it happen? What do they think and schools are kind of stuck in the middle. We'll explore that story coming up.
HOLMES: Hello there, everybody. From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING on this Labor Day weekend. I'm T.J. Holmes.
BALDWIN: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin, in for Betty this weekend. It's 9:00 Eastern time, 8:00 for those of you waking up in Oklahoma, 6:00 for you early birds out on the West Coast. We appreciate you starting your holiday weekend with us.
HOLMES: We are we wondering how Oklahoma got in there. Where did that come from?
BALDWIN: That's OK. Hello, Oklahoma, give them some shout out this morning. Today we're talking about the president, of course. He is vacationing this week up at Camp David. We've been talking this morning, reading some of our blogs, a lot of people very interested in the story, hearing this back-to-school address on Tuesday to kids across the country. But a lot of parents says not so fast Mr. President, you're pushing this political propaganda. So it's the sort of in between, should it happen? What do they think and schools are kind of stuck in the middle. We'll explore that story coming up.
HOLMES: And of course, kids are going back to school. That's not always the best thing, according to doctors especially when you're dealing with the swine flu. We're seeing an increase in cases in certain regions of the country and those regions are aware, schools are already back in session. We're getting into swine flu and give you some answer this is morning.
BALDWIN: And let's talk health care reform, shall we, this Saturday? Let's start with that. If the job is not getting done, you know what? Sometimes you got to do it yourself.
Well, CNN has now officially learned that the White House is talking about writing its own health care reform bill. Yes, drafting their own legislation here, after watching Congress get just about nowhere for several months now.
Our own Kate Bolduan live with this in Washington to talk about this new development. Kate, this is a huge deal. What do we think in terms of the White House strategy here? Why move their own reform forward?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think part of it, and you just alluded to it, they don't see the progress that they wanted, and they know what they've heard from those town halls that we've all been listening to for the past month, Brooke. The White House is quietly talking about drafting its own healthcare bill, a sort of contingency legislation, if talks fall apart on Capitol Hill. Now this move, a possible reversal in course for a White House that has long left it solely to Congress to write this health care reform legislation. The White House late Friday stressed no final language has been written. A White House spokesperson in a statement saying "the president has been reviewing all of the various legislative proposals but no decision has been made about whether formal legislation will be presented." Sources close to the process, again, say the plan is still unclear, but it is a sign that the president, in addition to this coming Wednesday's speech, is ready to get more involved. Brooke -
BALDWIN: Getting involved and very busy. Kate, do we have any idea, since this is a big if, if this legislation happen, what could possibly be included in the language of this reform?
BOLDUAN: Clearly a lot of moving parts and they stressed that it's not formal yet but we are hearing the key to this is that the White House is now leaning against including the public option in their draft, and leaning more towards something like a trigger option.
Now we talked about it a bit but this is an idea that moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe has long pushed for. The public option would not kick in unless insurance companies neglected to make necessary reforms, reforms including stopping the insurance industry practice of using pre-existing conditions to deny coverage.
Now, CNN has also learned that the Obama administration could send such a plan to the Hill sometime after the president's speech to Congress next week. So we don't know how quickly this could all, you know, start moving, Brooke.
BALDWIN: So how might this affect the talks and the different versions of this bill that have already been drafted in Congress.
BOLDUAN: And the many personalities and people involved in making this happen, exactly. It's unclear how this White House draft, if it is actually written, would be received, because the public option is a big deal for many liberal lawmakers, especially in the House, and they are going to be upset if the public option isn't included. Would liberal members revolt?
Well, that's a good question but some also say at the same time, it could be good and would be good for the president to move more towards the center and maybe get yelled at by some of his more liberal members of his party, because they'd be moving more toward compromise and showing that this plan isn't one side or the other, not liberal, not conservative, it's a compromise.
BALDWIN: Yes, a lot of people will be watching and listening Wednesday especially to hear him mention if, in fact, he is still supportive of the public option.
BALDWIN: Kate Bolduan live in Washington. Kate, thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Brooke.
HOLMES: Well, the Tea Party Express, you heard about this tour going across the country in Louisville, Kentucky, today. It's taking its anti-big spending message to a park for a rally this afternoon, taking that anti big spending message across the country. Last night, the tea party group held a rally in Memphis, Tennessee.
Our Jim Spellman put his barbecued ribs down long enough to hop on the phone with us this morning. He's still in Memphis right now. Jim, good morning to you sir. This is anti-big government, anti-big spending but has it taken on, I guess, different tone with so many issues, given health care reform and also what the president addressed to the nation's children coming up. Are they talking about those things as well?
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Oh, yes. The address to the children is doing something interesting. It's bringing out a lot more moms. We saw, you know, a little more men earlier on, and yesterday I spoke to maybe 25 mothers that were out there that said they were either pulling their kids out of class or they lobbying their principals hard to opt out of the president's address this week.
I spoke to a teacher in Little Rock yesterday, Little Rock, Arkansas, who in her class, they're going to be doing the presentation from the president, and she said that during the Q&A, she's going there to fight back and inject her politics after the president's speech. So it could be a real dust-up, but a lot of people here really worked up that about, T.J..
HOLMES: Well, that's interesting to hear, that this might turn into a town hall situation almost and some of the people disrupting those things, at least letting their opinions be heard. We're looking at some video from the rally in Little Rock that you're talking about. Are they still, though, Jim, talking about health care as well?
SPELLMAN: It's definitely out there. They really feel like with health care that they're close to, the tea party people are close to having a victory. They feel that the tea party people as well as the people that are going to the town hall meetings have really been changing the course of the dialogue here and they really feel like they can keep it up for just another couple of weeks, if they can kill the health care bill or at least any kind of public option. That's really their short term goal with this Tea Party Express.
HOLMES: All right. Jim Spellman for us from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, hitting all of the nice spots. Jim, we appreciate you.
BALDWIN: Town hall meetings, prime time news conferences, sit-down interviews, yes, President Obama has tried really hard to sell his health care plan to just about anyone in every way possible. But the question is will Wednesday's address to Congress be enough to turn his reform proposal into reality.
Paul Steinhauser, CNN's deputy political director and he joins us now from Washington. Paul, I got to just first get to this piece of information that we're getting from CNN sources that the White House now is possibly drafting their own health care reform legislation. What's your reaction to that?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You know, in a way this makes a lot of sense. Because one of the criticisms of Barack Obama and the White House during this whole process has been that they've just kind of left it up to Congress, right? They have the big goals and big ideas, but they're letting Congress do the specifics, and some people, some liberals and progressives in Congress feel that the president needs to step it up and have more concrete proposals. So that's what this is, in a way.
BALDWIN: And this really is a make or break speech. You know, I was just talking to Kate Bolduan, you know, she mentioned the trigger option, we were talking about the public option. How specific do we think the president will get during his speech Wednesday?
STEINHAUSER: We heard from David Axelrod, one of the senior advisers and we've also heard from vice president Biden in the last couple of days, yes, the president will be much more specific on Wednesday night than he has in previous speeches and events when he was talking and pushing his health care proposals.
And another thing, Brooke, about the president is, overall his popularity, his approval rating as a person overall is much higher than specifically on health care. So I guess he is the best spokesman for the administration when it comes to health care, and that's one of the reasons you're going to see him again Wednesday night in front of Congress in prime time.
BALDWIN: And Paul, who is he really speaking to, come Wednesday? Is it to the general public or is he really trying to grab those blue dog Democrats and the Republicans?
STEINHAUSER: He's speaking to everybody. He's going to be speaking specifically as you said to the lawmakers on Capitol Hill that aren't with him on health care reform but he's also talking to the general public as well. This is going to be a nationally broadcast speech, and there is a group of people that are very important. They vote in huge numbers.
Take a look at this, I'm talking specifically about seniors. And check out our poll, Brooke, from the CNN Opinion Research Corporation. Opposition to the president's health care plan, by age, look at the bottom, 65 and older, six out of 10 right now oppose the president on his health care plan. That's a very influential group of voters. He wants to try to change their opinions, Brooke.
BALDWIN: That speech happening 8:00 Wednesday night Eastern time. Well, take it here on CNN. Paul Steinhauser, thanks so much.
STEINHAUSER: Thank you.
HOLMES: All right. Well, it's been a month of presidential speeches and some pretty raucous town hall meetings. Yet the more is being said, the less we seem to understand about the president's health care plan really entailed. We may not have to wait until the speech on Wednesday to find out. Maybe we can find out a little something right now.
We have somebody with us today who has been helping the Democrats craft that legislation. He is Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, considered by many one of the leading experts out there in the country on health care, also currently with Emory University. You wear a lot of hats, I couldn't go through them all but trust me the guy knows what he's talking about when it comes to health care quite frankly. Thank you for being here.
I will start with the public option. Is there in your opinion as a medical expert not one side or the other, just as a medical expert can you have health care reform without a public option?
DR. KENNETH THORPE, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Well, I think having a public option makes the bill better because it injects competition into the health care marketplace. There's a lot of parts of this country that has very, very little competition and having a public option in there would increase competition in the marketplace. You could do it without a public option.
THORPE: One of the ways to do this would be to go to the source of what's driving the rise in health care spending. We know that the doubling of obesity in this country accounts of a third of the growth in health care spending. So if we really wanted to target what's going on in terms of health care costs, we would target the rising rates of obesity and we do a better job of managing chronic health care conditions.
HOLMES: Does it seem like we're not talking enough about that stuff? Because we have more politicians talking about it most times than we hear from doctors sometimes and as a doctor if we go to the heart of the problem just to make people healthier?
THORPE: Yes, I think if we're going to be serious about controlling the growth and spending, we really have to go to the facts. And the facts are, we've had a doubling of obesity in just a very short period of time. We have an explosion of diabetes and high blood pressure, and bad cholesterol, back problems. If we target those conditions and target those behaviors, we can make a big dent in terms of what people pay for the costs of their health insurance premiums.
HOLMES: Now you helped as well with the Clinton administration during that failed attempt at health care and we were talking here before we came on, I was asking what are the chances this seemed like the same kind of debate and the health care reform is going to get killed. You said well, we got a lot farther than we did then with the Clinton health care.
THORPE: Well, I remain very, very optimistic. 16 years ago there was nothing reported out of any committee in Congress. But today we have proposals out of the Senate and a couple out of the House that are real substantive changes in our health care system. They'd be major improvements compared to the status quo. So I think with the president getting more involved, the Congress coming back this week, I'm optimistic that we're going to pass something very substantial.
HOLMES: So that's a huge step right there, just to have those bills, like you said, in the Clinton era, no bill got anywhere. Tell us as well though as a doctor here, does it drive you nuts to see how the politics comes into it, and maybe a lot of people -
I'm sure most people haven't sat down and read through three, four different bills that are 1,000 pages plus but people are getting their information from sound bites, politicians, screaming back and forth and as a doctor do you see that? I mean, you have the patient's interest at heart, so when you see that, is that frustrating that maybe the real message is getting lost in there in a political back and forth?
THORPE: Oh, it is frustrating. Because certainly the worst thing we can do is to do nothing. So the status quo is the worst option on the table. Premiums are going to double in the next five to 10 years, and we will have more and more people that don't have health insurance coverage so doing nothing is not an option. No bill is going to be perfect, and I think the idea is to start to make improvements in terms of getting health care more affordable, moving towards universal coverage.
And if we don't get it exactly right the first time, which I know we won't, we'll come back and do it over and over again but we've got to get on the right path. We got to find ways to make health care less expensive for families and businesses out there. We've got to find a way in terms of our government programs to make them more efficient and improve the quality of care.
We can do this, but we have to have everybody on board so that everybody is not going to get their first choice and we're hoping that everybody's second choice is not the status quo.
HOLMES: Last thing here, how helpful will it be or what would be helpful to hear from the president, coming up on Wednesday night, as talk now that maybe the administration is considering putting out its own plan from the White House, if that's what is needed right now, one plan backed by one guy and then we go from there.
THORPE: I think the president does have to step up and take ownership of the issue right now. This is a critical time in this debate. I think there's a lot of ambiguities in terms of some of these major issues, about the public option, about how big of a package this is going to be in terms of the size of it, how fast we're going to control health care spending. He can he come in and resolve a lot of those big picture issues and hopefully build a bipartisan approach to doing this.
HOLMES: Well, Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, you work here at Emory. You're right here in town with us. We know what days you teach, so I think we're going to tap into you and we'll have you over here more often. But it's good to have you here. Thanks so much for coming by.
THORPE: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
HOLMES: All right. Brooke, over to you.
BALDWIN: Well, speaking of health a topic getting a lot of attention this week is the H1N1 virus or, of course, swine flu. We could be headed for a rough and tough flu season this year. So what do you really need to know? Should we get vaccinated? A lot of information is available online, and our Josh Levs shows us particularly how to find it.
HOLMES: Now, more and more parents are becoming concerned about the spread of the H1N1 virus and many web sites are turning up and many people are turning to those web sites.
BALDWIN: Lots of information at the fingertips. In fact, scientists are hoping that the internet will actually play a huge role in fighting the virus. Here's Josh Levs.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The internet is playing a big role in people trying to track what happens with swine flu and try to do their best to avoid it. I want to show you some key web sites to follow for this. Take a look here, this is the first one, this is from CNN at cnn.com/swineflu or cnn.com/h1n1. It works either way.
It gets to you all of our latest reporting, some information, some advice from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, protecting your family, worldwide concerns, all sorts of reporting and videos that we have here.
Now take a look at this, healthmap.org. This is interesting. This follows all sorts of diseases and illnesses around the world. I clicked specifically on H1N1, and I clicked the United States as an example here. And what it does, it gives you the latest reported cases and the sources for them, and you can go in and learn more about them. You can click on some of them and I'll give you information about where the report came from, what kind of problem they're having there and if you see a preponderance in one area that could alert you, that could affect where you are.
Check out this, too. This is from Google. You know, Google follows trends in general, something Google does. If a lot of people in one part of the world are suddenly searching for a term, Google will sometimes highlight that and say we wonder why that's happening. Now they've set up a special page to do that specifically for the swine flu.
Take a look here, it's google.org, and they're calling it "Flu Trends" and what they're doing is they're following how many people in different parts of the world are searching for information, also within that, which regions are suddenly searching for a lot of information. If they find that suddenly a lot of people in Kansas, let's say, are searching for information about that flu, they might highlight that and kind of alert people and say maybe there's a reason to look out for Kansas now. So that's all from Google. One more thing - actually two more things to show you. This is flu.gov. This is from the administration, where the Obama administration is putting a lot of information out there, how to prevent this, how to protect yourself rather and the latest information about this.
Now, everything I just showed you, it's in one place, you don't need to write it down. It's right here at our NEWSROOM blog, cnn.com/josh. We have a whole bunch of links for you here and we'd love to hear from you. You can try these out and let us know if there are others that work for you. Here's how to get in touch. You can see there cnn.com/josh, also Facebook and Twitter, in both cases it's /joshlevscnn. So be in touch with us, let us now if these are working for you. There are others and we will share some of them right here.
HOLMES: And stay with us. Top stories after the break.
BALDWIN: CNN has learned that the White House now talking about writing its very own health care reform bill. This after watching Congress get just about nowhere for a few months here. Sources say this could go to Capitol Hill sometime after the president addresses a joint session of Congress this coming Wednesday and according to one of our sources, the White House is leaning toward dropping the public option.
Bringing North Korea back to the negotiating table, the goal of a meeting today in Seoul, according to the "Associated Press." The U.S. and South Korean nuclear envoys came together to talk strategy. Both countries want to see talks starting up again, now that North Korea claims to be in the final stage of uranium enrichment.
HOLMES: California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger now offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who started that fire. This is the station fire, huge fire out there, now an arson investigation. Also a homicide case, because as you know, two firefighters died last week while trying to fight that massive fire, which is now about 42 percent contained. So still a long way to go.
Also the White House on the defensive over the speech President Obama plans to give to school kids on Tuesday. How could that be a bad thing? Well, critics claim it could be propaganda. It's not just that he's making a speech. There was some material, some study guides that came out of the Department of Education that went along with the speech and a lot of people had a big problem with.
The White House says the speech won't be partisan at all. Conservative pressure already led to changes in those lesson plans I just mentioned. They're going to accompany the address. And parents can read the speech ahead of time online, on Monday. So everybody's waiting for the release and see what he's going to say and let parents judge for themselves. We've got some feedback on this story. A lot.
BALDWIN: This is a big hot, kind of water cooler story. I want to read you some of the comments we're getting from our blogs. Thank you for writing in. Got a couple, this one coming in from Marcia Lee. And she writes, "the president was elected president of the United States and not just one party. Since when do we not at least respect the office and teach our children to listen respectfully and think for themselves? Isn't that that what education is about?"
Another one from Karen. Karen says "too much exposure dilutes the message. Obama should concentrate on running the country and leave the motivation of school children to their parents, where it belongs."
HOLMES: Hmm. So we have one more here that I know our executive producer liked a lot. One coming from someone calling themselves Leading Lady, thought I'd throw that in there. She says we expose our children to movies, also warlocks, witches, et cetera. We expose them to music artists, sports figures and so on and nobody questions the influence these people will have on our children. Why are so many people afraid of President Obama?"
So that message comes as well. For the most part people are just saying this is ridiculous. It is the president, historic moment. It's a treat to hear from the president.
BALDWIN: It's cool for kids, right? Especially sitting in the Arlington School getting to see the president deliver the address.
HOLMES: So we are waiting for Monday to see what the speech is all about, the text you'll be able to read online. We'll certainly be showing it to you here as well. But we'll continue to send in your comments, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog cnn.com and coming up - there's the picture, we love to throw that picture up. But coming up here in just a bit, 10:00 asleep on the job. We can't really do that right here.
BALDWIN: We can't snooze. It would be a little obvious to the bosses. But you're at the story, these guys were supposed to be guarding the George Washington Bridge, kind of a big bridge in New York.
BALDWIN: Considered a prime target for terrorists, definitely not the case.
HOLMES: Kind of a big deal. We'll tell you what happened to the workers who got caught snoozing on the job.
BALDWIN: And this week on "Your Money," some economists say they think the recession is finally over so when will we start feeling the relief? Ali Velshi is with the CNN Express talking to Americans all across the country, this afternoon at 1:00 Eastern.
HOLMES: You got it together? BALDWIN: I got it together.
HOLMES: All right. Now that the hair is in place. All we have to say is "Your Bottom Line" with CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis is coming up. We'll be back with perfect hair at the top the hour.
BALDWIN: Working on it. Thanks, T.J..