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H1N1: A Survivor's Story; H1N1 Vaccine Hitch; Fighting the Taliban

Aired October 27, 2009 - 14:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're pushing forward now. This hour's top stories. A brutal month gets even worse for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Eight more die in roadside bomb attacks in Kandahar province.

Smarter, stronger and more secure -- President Obama's vision of the U.S. power grid. He's investing $3 billion in new technologies, including smart electric meters.

And the government's battle against swine flu under a microscope on Capitol Hill. Health and homeland security bigwigs are answering questions at a hearing that's getting under way right now. We're monitoring it for you.

Fear, frustration and the flu. Three Fs that we're wrestling with as millions of Americans hold their collective breath hoping to stay well until the next round of H1N1 vaccine actually gets to them. Right now, 46 states reporting widespread swine flu outbreaks, 46. More than 1,000 people have died in the U.S. alone. Nearly 100 of the victims are kids.

Everybody's jumpy, keeping their distance from anybody who sneezes or coughs too much. And with vaccine production behind schedule, the fear is likely to linger.

Well, Aubrey Opdyke didn't think that there was anything to fear when she came down with a sore throat and a low fever back in June. Come on, she was 27 years old, in good shape. Look at her. Surely, Tylenol and that z-pack from the doctor would do the trick, right? Little did Aubrey know that there was everything to fear. That little bug was nearly the death of her, and it cost her and her husband their unborn child.

Aubrey Opdyke is a swine flue survivor, barely. And she joins me now from West Palm Beach, Florida.

Aubrey, I'll tell you what, your story, when we all read it, absolutely heart-wrenching. But, my gosh, do you have a lesson here for so many people to hear? Because you were one of the individuals that had absolutely no idea what was ahead of you. You weren't feeling well, you went to the doctor.

Tell us what happened.

AUBREY OPDYKE, SWINE FLU SURVIVOR: I wasn't feeling well. I just had a slight sore throat and a low-grade fever. And because I was pregnant, I got worried about the fever.

So, I called my gynecologist and she told me to keep taking Tylenol. And eventually, towards the end of the week, she gave me Zithromax. And then a couple of days later, my husband said I was so delirious that he had to take me to the hospital. I was barely able to answer my name at the nurse's station when she asked me my name because my oxygen was depleted.

PHILLIPS: What do you remember from that experience, Aubrey? I mean, this is where things really intensified.

You finally got checked into the hospital because you weren't making sense; right? Do you remember what doctors or nurses were saying to you? What do you remember from that moment? Because that's when your life definitely started to change.

OPDYKE: I remember bits and pieces. I remember going into the waiting room, and I don't remember them asking for my name. And there's bits and pieces I remember.

But they put an oxygen mask on me and it wasn't bringing my oxygen up fast enough, so they did another one that was -- pushed the air in harder and made me feel claustrophobic, so I kept pushing it off. And then I stopped remembering everything.

They said they incubated (ph) me at 4:30 in the morning, and I don't remember any of that. They said I pulled the tube out and they had to redo it again. And then after that, they put me into the medically-induced coma.

PHILLIPS: Wow. And I was reading everything that you went through, your collapsed lungs. How many times did that happen? What did they tell you when you finally came out of that coma, everything your body had gone through physically?

OPDYKE: It took me a while to figure out the whole story, because I couldn't talk. I had a trach (ph) and a ventilator. But I did have six episodes of collapsed lungs, and I just slowly started learning what was going on.

I looked down and I saw stretch marks on my legs and I didn't know where they came from, and they said that they had been pushing in so much oxygen -- and I'm not exactly sure exactly how it works, but I guess I blew up like a sumo wrestler. So my husband said I looked like I was 400 pounds. Everything that could have happened, happened.

PHILLIPS: And not only that, you were also pregnant. So there was a whole other dynamic going on here.


PHILLIPS: And I was reading that they came to your husband and said you've got to make a decision here, do we save your wife or do we save your child? I can't even imagine a doctor coming to me and asking me to make that type of decision.

How did -- my gosh, I mean, how did he deal with that? That probably still affects the both of you.

OPDYKE: Yes, it's been really hard on him, and not having me there for support, because I was still in the coma when he was asked this question. It was very hard on him.

And his reasoning is, you know, we can make another baby and he could never get me back. And she was -- she only made it to 27 weeks, so the chances were low for her anyway. And it was very hard for him and it still is very hard for him. He has bad days, as do I, but he actually got the bonding experience with her, so it's very hard on him.

PHILLIPS: He had seven minutes with her, right?

OPDYKE: Actually, he wasn't allowed to be in the room when she was delivered. All the doctors and everybody had hazmat suits on. So he didn't get to know her when she was alive, so -- but he got a lot of time with her afterwards.

PHILLIPS: Now -- and I want to ask you about how -- when she was stillborn, that you did still see a picture of her. Did that -- I mean, I know that they want to somehow help you deal with this and help you cope, and I know there's this program "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. What was that like?

I mean, for mothers that are out there, Aubrey, I guess I just really want you -- you have such a powerful message to tell. I mean, this is the absolute worst thing that could happen to somebody that's pregnant and gets H1N1. There's things that they can do.

You know, kind of -- what's your message to pregnant women right now after going through what you -- dealing with what you went through?

OPDYKE: Just go to the doctor and get the vaccine. And if you feel any kind of symptoms, all I had was a sore throat. And I kept brushing it off and saying it's no big deal. And now my whole life is just turned around. So thank God I am alive and everything's OK now, but, still, I'm still recovering. And just go to the doctor, don't -- take it seriously.

PHILLIPS: How do you feel now, physically?

OPDYKE: I feel good now. I still have endurance problems. I have to take rests here and there. And my strength is getting -- it's getting better, but it's still not to where it was. My breathing, I get worn down real quick and have to catch my breath. But it's getting better, slowly.

PHILLIPS: And you said that doctors told you it's a miracle that you survived. And thank God you did. And in no way, shape or form can we even understand how that must feel, but, boy, you've got a story to tell, and we're all listening, Aubrey. I know it wasn't easy to talk about this.

OPDYKE: Thank you. No, but just knowing that I can maybe help somebody else not have to go through this. And I was able to make it with the support from all my friends and family and prayers out there, so thank you to everybody for that. I hope it helps.

PHILLIPS: You know what? And no doubt it will. And I appreciate your courage and appreciate you very much for talking with me.

OPDYKE: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Aubrey.

Well, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says that there should be about 30 million more doses of H1N1 vaccine ready by month's end, but that's well short of what they should have. So what's the hitch?

Our Mary Snow takes a look at that.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With lines like this one in Salt Lake City, it's clear there is a demand for H1N1 vaccines. But where are they? Health officials say a delay in vaccine production comes down to a 50-year-old technology that relies on eggs.

DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: It's a tried and true method, but it's not perfectly predictable. Some viruses grow quickly in eggs. Some don't grow as well. And what happened with this year's H1N1 vaccine is that several of the manufacturers had challenges in getting a lot of the virus, the vaccine virus, out of those eggs. And so we have a delay.

SNOW: That delay doesn't surprise Dan Adams, who told us this back in July.

DAN ADAMS, CEO, PROTEIN SCIENCES: No matter what you think, the way that the major pharmaceutical companies make flu vaccines is not going to solve a real pandemic problem. It takes too long to get there.

SNOW: Adams is the CEO of biotech Protein Sciences and uses insect cells and not eggs to make vaccines. The company doesn't yet have a license to make H1N1 vaccines. But his company isn't the only one using different technology.

ALAN SHAW, CEO, VAXINNATE: This is the equivalent of about 100,000 eggs.

SNOW: Alan Shaw's biotech firm Vaccinate uses proteins and bacteria.

(on camera): Why is it so much faster?

SHAW: E. coli double every 20 minutes. A hen will lay an egg once a day roughly. SNOW: This company is applying for federal money, but the government has already invested in others, including Protein Sciences, as it seeks alternatives to using eggs.

Critics ask should the government have invested in alternative technologies earlier? SCHUCHAT: We are optimistic that over the years ahead some of these new technologies will bear fruit, but none of them were ready for this pandemic. It's just a sad truth that the pandemic came too early basically.

SNOW: Currently, the government has contracts for H1N1 vaccines with five companies, all of which make the vaccine the same way.

ANDREW PEKOSZ, JONHS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: And since growing the virus in eggs is the only FDA-approved means of generating the vaccine, that really becomes our major stumbling block right now.

SNOW (on camera): MedImmune is having less difficulty with its nasal spray vaccine, but it's not for everyone. It's approved for those ages 2 to 49 who don't have underlying illnesses, but it's not recommended for pregnant women because it contains a live virus.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: And don't forget, you can track the spread of swine flu and see where the vaccine is available, too, anywhere, any time on the new

U.S. troops on the front line wondering, am I next? The next to be targeted, the next to be blown up, as they face an enemy growing stronger, more coordinated, more brazen by the day.

We're live in Afghanistan.


PHILLIPS: Multiple and complex. That's how the U.S. military describes today's roadside bombings that killed eight American troops in Afghanistan. It's another sign that the Taliban is well coordinated and well armed.

The attacks happened in the southern part of that country, a Taliban stronghold. The deaths make October the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the start of the war eight years ago. They come a day after 11 American troops and three DEA agents were killed in two helicopter crashes.

We know something about some of those fallen heroes now. Marine Captain Kyle Van De Giesen from North Attleboro, Massachusetts, he and his wife Megan (ph) have a 1-year-old daughter, and she is about to give birth to their son.

Lost with the captain, three of his Camp Pendleton brothers: Corporal Gregory Fleury, 23, from Anchorage, Alaska; Captain Eric Jones, 29, from Westchester New York; and Captain David Mitchell, 30, from Loveland, Ohio. All their names released today, so details are still coming in.

And just as they were in the worst days of the Iraq War, roadside bombs are obviously the Taliban's weapon of choice, a daily one, and we see how they're taking our men and women, as you just heard, on a daily basis. They seem to be getting better as well at making these weapons.

And our Chris Lawrence joins us from the Afghan capital of Kabul now.

And Chris, what's the military saying about today's attacks? Do they think that these have been planned, specifically aimed at them?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It appears that way, Kyra. Of course you can't entirely tell until you get an investigation into everything that happened, but it's obvious that these were very complex attacks, which means the insurgents set off one or more roadside bombs and coordinated that with small arms fire, which suggests an ambush.

We're also being told by defense officials that all eight were U.S. Army soldiers, and that there were two separate incidents, one in which seven American soldiers were killed, along with an Afghanistan civilian, and then a second incident in which one American soldier was killed -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Chris Lawrence, live from Kabul.

Chris, thanks.

So, what's the next step on the war front? That's the pressing question for President Obama when he sits down with the military's top brass on Friday.

The White House meeting will give the Joint Chiefs of Staff the chance that they have been waiting for to lay out the impacts on each branch of service if thousands more troops are sent to Afghanistan. Mr. Obama talked about that yesterday with the very same people who could soon be getting marching orders.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm's way. I won't risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary.


And if it is necessary, we will back you up to the hilt, because you deserve the strategy, the clear mission, and the defined goals, as well as the equipment and support that you need to get the job done. We are not going to have a situation in which you are not fully supported back here at home. That is a promise that I will always make to you.


PHILLIPS: The latest now from the White House's decision on sending more troops is expected in coming weeks.

Now, the president's getting a resignation letter on his desk. It's from the first U.S. official to resign in protest of the Afghan war.

Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps. captain, a combat veteran who fought in Iraq, his take on the war -- it's doing nothing but fueling the insurgency. In his letter of resignation from the State Department last month, Hoh said, "I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan."

Now, Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's special rep for Afghanistan and Pakistan, says this: he disagrees with Hoh that Afghanistan wasn't worth the fight, but he agrees with "much of Hoh's analysis."

This time last year, Election Day was all anybody could talk about. Well, elections are upon us once again, and while his own job isn't on the line, President Obama is campaigning.

And CNN's Jessica Yellin is waiting in Norfolk, Virginia.

So, do they think the president's visit will guarantee Democrats will hold the governor's mansion?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, they wish it would, but, no, the answer simply is that.

Creigh Deeds, the Democrat here in this state running for governor, is trailing badly. The latest poll shows him 11 points behind the Republican contender. And here's why that's bad news for the White House.

This is the first big election after President Obama took office. Right here in the president's back yard, in Virginia, it would be a stinging defeat for him to lose, for the Democrat to lose the first race that happens after the president swept this state in the election.

So, President Obama is back in the state campaigning today for Creigh Deeds. He hasn't been here much, only one other time. And there are accusations that it was Deeds' campaign that said to the president, we don't need so much of you in this state. Now some people are saying to the candidate, look, it's a little too little, too late.

And here's what the candidate says to that criticism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CREIGH DEEDS (D), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: It's not too little, too late. Somebody told me yesterday that I have done more churches than any politician in recent years, and I enjoy it.


YELLIN: Now, Kyra, he's trying to turn out especially African- American and young voters who the president was so successful in getting out in this state during the election. But some critics of the campaign say it's just too late, as I said, for him to get them out to the polls in time -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, now, the White House has been pretty critical of this campaign. That seems unusual. Tell us what that's about.

YELLIN: Yes, there have been some barbs traded in the press with unnamed White House officials accusing the campaign of not doing a good job. That's basically because so many people, especially those of us in the media, are looking to this race and two others as sort of signposts of whether the president's support is weakening in key areas of this country. And Virginia is one of those spots.

People could, pundits could say that a loss here would be a sign that the president is losing some of his important base of support. So, not a surprise the White House would try to insulate itself early from any loss here in the state, but I should add as a side note that even local critics, local Democrats, say the campaign just hasn't been all that great. And if he does lose, if the Democrat does lose, they blame the Democrat's campaign here. The president's approval ratings remain very strong in Virginia -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Jessica Yellin, thanks so much.

And New Jersey will also choose a governor, and here the president backs the incumbent, Democrat Jon Corzine, on the right of your screen, apparently neck and neck with Republican challenger Chris Christie. Now, Mr. Obama is scheduled to stump for Corzine on Sunday.

Checking top stories now.

Police in Connecticut have arrested three men in connection with the fatal stabbing of UConn football player Jasper Howard 10 days ago. One suspect is facing a murder charge. Howard was buried in his hometown of Miami yesterday.

The FBI has nabbed nearly 700 people from alleged pimps to would- be johns. Perhaps more importantly, the feds say they rescued 52 kids caught in the clutches of child prostitution. The youngest, just 10 years old. The arrests happened over the past three days as part of a nationwide offensive.

President Obama promoting clean energy at one of the nation's largest solar-powered stations in Florida today. Minutes ago, the president announced a $3.4 billion outlay in government grants. That goal, to develop a smart electric grid for the country.

Two pilots overshoot their destination. Now their jobs are up in the air. What on earth happened here?


PHILLIPS: Stormy skies keep the world's biggest rocket on the ground. NASA planned to launch its experimental Ares rocket this morning, but rain and wind in Florida kept that from happening. Another attempt planned tomorrow, hopefully.

The rocket's two-minute test flight carries a whopper of a price tag, too -- $445 million. It's part of NASA's plan to return astronauts to the moon.


PHILLIPS: Well, where oh where will those two directionally challenged pilots end up? You know, the pair allegedly at the controls of Northwest Flight 188, bound for Minneapolis last week? Well, the now infamous duo could soon find themselves on the unemployment line. Both are poised to lose their licenses to fly after admitting they were distracted and out of touch with air traffic controllers when they overshot the Minneapolis airport by 150 feet.

They were apparently looking up work schedules via their laptops. A definite company no-no while on the job.

Gang rape is barbaric. Watching gang rape and doing nothing to stop it is an outrage. But is it a crime?


PHILLIPS: So, if you saw a teenager being gang raped outside a high school dance, you'd call the police. You'd try to do something, anything to help.

Well, not so, allegedly. The crowd that police say watched a girl being brutalized for more than two hours in Richmond, California -- allegedly, some of them did nothing. Others took part. The girl barely survived. She was badly beaten, robbed and left for dead. So far, two teens are in custody. Police are looking for more.

It may be inhumane to do nothing while someone is cruelty attacked, but it's not necessarily a crime. Last hour, I asked former New York prosecutor Paul Callan (ph) a simple question: Can not-so- innocent bystanders be prosecuted?


PAUL CALLAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, they can't, and this is something that absolutely shocks people. That you can have bystanders witnessing a crime, they have no legal obligation to call the police, they cannot be prosecuted. Some of the early reports on this were in fact that people were coming out of the dance when the word spread that there was a rape going on to watch the rape. Now, I don't know if that will turn out to be true ultimately. But if that happened, this is one of the most shocking cases of bystander apathy and indifference I have ever heard of. PHILLIPS: Let me play something else now. Because we don't know a lot about what happened exactly. What if they cheered it on. What if they were rooting on the crime? Could they be held accountable?

CALLAN: Well, then you get a little bit closer to having a situation where they could be charged. In order for them to be charged, Kyra, you have to show that they aid and abetted in the commission of the rape in some way. In other words, if they tried to block her from leaving, if they attempted to restrain her, then you can have active involvement that can be charged.

But merely cheering it on, as repulsive as that is, I'm betting that it would be very hard to win a criminal case on those charges.

PHILLIPS: I'm just -- I'm thinking back to that movie "The Accused" with Jodie Foster. It was based on the true story where she was raped, and men were cheering on the rape that was happening. And she actually went in to court and changed laws.

CALLAN: Well, that's interesting that you bring that case up, because I was thinking of it before we came on today, and I did some research on it. I went back to the original case, the New Bedford case, that "The Accused" movie was based on. And in fact, everybody who was convicted in that case actively participated in the rape. They didn't just cheer, they either restrained her or they were involved in active participation in some way.


PHILLIPS: Well, as you can imagine, we've gotten a lot of reaction to this one. Some of the tweets into kyraCNN today.

TweetNikProject says: "Sounds like the Bystander Effect, the same well-documented psychological mechanism seen in the 1964 Kitty Genovese case. You can't prosecute human nature."

SwiftMusic says, "Why would you want to charge someone for looking on? We as people have the right to either turn and walk away or do something about it. I feel real bad for what happened, if it really did. But it seems like your viewers want everyone to go to jail."

LynnStyle says, "Yes, they should be charged. Then make them volunteer at a women's shelter or some kind of community service."

And this one, from BrotherGrimace: "Kyra, it's called depraved indifference. Those kids are a symbol of what's wrong with our educational and justice system. No account."

Thanks, everyone, who weighed in. Appreciate it.

Now a different sort of outrage. This one from a similar crime. Christina Turner was raped in 2002 and then get this. Dropped by her insurance company when her doctor put her on anti-HIV meds. She told her story to CNN's Anderson Cooper.


CHRISTINA TURNER, DENIED INSURANCE: Well, basically, I was dropped by the company after I had submitted a month's worth of anti- HIV medication because I was drug-raped. And I went to the doctor. She decided because there was no way to tell if my attacker wore a condom, she wanted to put me on anti-HIV medication.

Once I submitted my reimbursement for that because it was $1,000 a month and I submitted it for reimbursement, next thing I know, my insurance drops me. COOPER: It is standard practice in the event of a rape where it's not known whether the attacker used a condom or not, to go on anti-HIV medication for a month in order to protect yourself from possibly getting HIV.

TURNER: Absolutely.

COOPER: So you did that. You did what the doctor said. And then you suddenly get dropped. What reason did the insurance company give for dropping your coverage?

TURNER: Well, what they told me was that they did not receive payment which was sent. It was never -- the payment was never cashed. And that was the last thing on my mind was trying to balance a checkbook when I was in therapy trying to deal with my situation. I mean I didn't even leave my house for three months. I was in therapy.


PHILLIPS: And Turner says she was told she couldn't be insured until she tested HIV negative for at least two years, which she did. Oh, and here's the kicker. Turner is a health insurance agent and has been for more than 25 years, and she does now have coverage through her husband's policy.

Senate majority leader, the man from Nevada, rolling the dice, taking a gamble on the public option. Harry Reid says the Senate's version of the health care reform will have it and that states would be able to decline it. In other words, to opt out. But not everyone would be able to get it, assuming it passes.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: When I was having my town meetings, people would stand up and say, "Public option or bust." And I would say, "Folks, I really appreciate your activism. Are you aware that the way these public option bills are written, more than 90 percent of you wouldn't be able to choose them?" And people were practically falling out of the bleachers.


PHILLIPS: Right now, Democrats don't have a lock on the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Independent senator Joseph Lieberman says he will oppose final approval of any bill that has a government- run public health insurance option. Start up the bus and the tea kettle. The Tea Party Express, back on the road and steaming. Conservatives demanding to be heard, warning lawmakers what will happen if they turn a deaf ear. They're in Nevada today, and our Gary Tuchman caught up with a rally in Bakersfield, California.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Ferguson family, three generations, are in a California park because they say they want to take back America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our voices aren't being heard. We are the people.

TUCHMAN: This is the latest incarnation of the Tea Party Express. A nationwide tour of protest led by conservative activists who are riding buses to demonstrations from California to Florida.

LLOYD MARCUS, TEA PARTY PARTICIPANT: I am not an African- American. I am Lloyd Marcus, thank you very much. American!

TUCHMAN: The protests are designed for people not exactly on the Barack Obama bandwagon.

(On camera): Over the next two and a half weeks, the Tea Party Express organizers have scheduled 36 rallies in 17 states. They call it their countdown to judgment day. Sounds rather biblical, intimidating, but that's just fine with most of the participants here.

MARCUS: This socialist nightmare.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): A collective warning here. A judgment is being issued for next year's midterm elections.

MARCUS (singing): And we got to vote them out in 2010.

TUCHMAN: But it's the man who might run again in 2012 that gets the most attention. And among some, very negative attention. Claims that he's a socialist, a Marxist, comparisons to Mao Tse Tung. References to his ancestral homeland of Kenya, that he has a gangster government, his face resembling the Joker in "Batman" are illustrated in a skull and cross bones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's the worst pirate ever in history.

TUCHMAN: And then there's this woman who makes no bones about how she feels.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The more he fails is better for us.

TUCHMAN: There were some counter protesters of the tea party rally in Los Angeles. Police were in place, but there were no problems.


TUCHMAN: At this rally in Bakersfield, California, the Fergusons brought all five of their children. Their main concern? That their medical coverage will change with health care reform.

JENNIFER FERGUSON, TEA PARTY PARTICIPANT: And I want to make sure that I can have a doctor that will care for me the proper way and that I won't be unhurt and neglected.

TUCHMAN: They're unhappy with their president. But what about the negativity their children are seeing and hearing here?

(on camera): Does that bother you having your kids see stuff like that?

FERGUSON: We make sure that we prepare our children before we enter into things like this. And they know that even though we don't agree with some of the things that he does, they are to respect him, he is our president.

TUCHMAN: A president the Tea Party protesters plan to criticize coast to coast.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Bakersfield, California.


PHILLIPS: Clean, green and a jobs machine. President obama makes a powerful push to upgrade our energy grid. We'll total the benefits and the costs.


PHILLIPS: Top stories now. Protecting the nation's first family from the flu. President Obama, the first lady and their two daughters have gotten their seasonal flu shots. Sasha and Malia have also been vaccinated for swine flu. Mom and dad plan to wait until after high- priority groups are vaccinated.

A white Georgia man accused of beating a black female Army reservist still behind bars as a judge considers bond. Prosecutors asked a judge this morning to deny bond for Troy Dale West. That attack took place last month at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in suburban Atlanta.

In South Carolina, a move to impeach Governor Mark Sanford. A state lawmaker plans to introduce a resolution to get the governor kicked out. The GOP lawmaker accuses Sanford, a fellow Republican, of dereliction of duty. Stems from Sanford's trip this summer to Argentina to see his mistress.

Rushing to get that first-time home buyers tax by December 1? Well, Senate Democrats want to give you a little more breathing room. They're pushing to extend the credit past its planned expiration at the end of next month. One proposal calls for extending the $8,000 credit through the end of March. Then it would drop by $2,000 each quarter until the end of the year. Another plan calls for extending the credit until the end of June. It would include all couples earning $300,000 a year or less.

And for months, we have heard about the Obama administration's goals for clean energy. Today, we're seeing major action on that front.'s Poppy Harlow joins us now to tell us what's going on. This has sort of been your beat -- that and Detroit.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes, and energy. Well, you know, it's interesting. Oil's not 140 bucks a barrel, so people don't focus on this as much.

But the administration really is focusing on it. The president today in Florida coming out to announce a $3.4 billion grant. What are they going to do with that? It's all about renewable energy and conserving energy.

They're going to install 18 million smart meters across the country. What's a smart meter? It tells you how to use less energy, spend less money. It's smart about your energy. That's what the president is talking about today in Florida. And of course, it all comes back to job creation. What will this do to save or create jobs in America? Here's what the president said in Florida earlier today.


OBAMA: So at this moment, there's something big happening in America when it comes to creating a clean energy economy, but getting there will take a few more days like this one and more projects like this one.

And I've often said that the creation of such an economy is going to require nothing less than the sustained effort of an entire nation.

Such an investment won't just create new pathways for energy.

It's expected to creates tens of thousands of new jobs all across America, in areas ranging from manufacturing and construction to I.T. and the installation of new equipment in homes and in businesses.


HARLOW: When you look at those businesses, this is not just the government investing our money. This is American businesses, Kyra, putting $5 billion to match that $3.5 billion in spending by the government. So, it's interesting. Heard so much talk that health care and financial reform takes over, but now they're back on the energy path.

PHILLIPS: And the vice president out there doing the same thing, right?

HARLOW: Yes. He's in his home city. He's in Delaware today. Neat what they did. They took an old GM plant and Fisker Automotive, which is a pretty luxury automaker in this country, took it over. They used a $528 million Energy department loan, and they're going to build this hybrid car. \

A pretty snazzy car. I would live that car if I could afford it. They're making that car, they're ramping up production. It's going to create -- they say -- 2,000 the jobs in Delaware. And then off of that, maybe 3,000 more jobs from all the supplier base, etc., that's going to be needed.

Again, this move, Kyra, like we have seen so much. The president wants to see a million hybrids or electric cars on the road by 2015. So, this is what they're doing. But that car's going to be about 40 grand.

PHILLIPS: 40 grant, really?

HARLOW: That's a lot. After tax breaks. But it looks great, right?

PHILLIPS: Hmm. We'll stick to the subway. I can see your blond hair blowing...

HARLOW: E train.

PHILLIPS: Yes. There you go. Thanks, Poppy, appreciate it.

She's got a heavy load to tow, but she's got a really good friend helping out. Two kindergartners bond. Just a warning. You might need a tissue for this one.


PHILLIPS: Six years old, and she spent way too much time in the hospital. But in the day and a half little Emily felt well enough to go kindergarten, she made quite an impression.

How? Well, how cute is this? Every day after school, her classmate Peter has been going around the neighborhood selling veggies and brownies out his little red wagon. Peter's raised $340 so far to help Emily's family with bills.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (off camera): What do you love about her?

ZWART: That she's nice, and she used to sit by me and I really like her.

DIRK ZWART, PETER'S DAD: He's got the little smile on. We call him the Sweetie Petey around the house. But it was just touching to see this little guy on his own decide, hey, I want to go out and help a friend.

UNIDETIFIED MALE: I think that little boy's going to grow up to be somebody special.


PHILLIPS: Sweetie Petey. You got to love it! Peter's parents say he came one the idea to help Emily all on his own. The wagon, the goods, everything. Now, Emily suffers from a very rare genetic condition. Had to have a kidney transplant and is now fighting cancer.

Well, Drew Griffin is filling in for Rick Sanchez today. He's working on the next hour. Is that story just...

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: I -- we need to try to book Sweetie Petey.

PHILLIPS: There you go!

GRIFFIN: And I want a brownie, Petey, while you're out there.

PHILLIPS: We need to promote. I'll take the veggies, you take the brownie, then we promote Sweetie Petey. It's awesome. I love stories like that.

GRIFFIN: Yes. They're great.

Hey, Kyra, thanks, I'm trying to channel Rick right now, so I'm trying to get a little twittered up.

PHILLIPS: That's scary.

GRIFFIN: We're going to talk about that swine flu. You know, you said the president's kids got their swine flu vaccine. Where's ours? That's the big question that we're going to be asking at the top of the hour, along with the rest of the day's news and Twitter. And maybe, if you're listening, Pete, Sweetie Petey.

PHILLIPS: I love it. Let's book them. I'll be all over that, too. All right, thanks Drew.

One of the most dangerous jobs in combat, taking the point. Anderson Cooper takes you on patrol in the Afghan combat zone.


PHILLIPS: Well, developing story that we have been following in just the last few hours. Taliban roadside bombs killing eight American soldiers in Afghanistan. We now know that seven of the eight actually died together in one vehicle.

That's what sergeant Jerome Basemore at the international security assistance force joint command is telling us now. The latest example of just how tough and deadly the enemy is. Just a month ago, CNN's Anderson Cooper was actually in country on the front lines on patrol with the U.S. Marines, showing us firsthand how these IEDs kill.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the most dangerous position on patrol, out in front, on point. Lance Corporal Phil Howard quickly waves a metal detector in front of him, searching for signs of an IED.

LT. CPL. PHIL HOWARD, U.S. MARINES: It's kind of scary being up on point and knowing that somebody is going to pull something on you or you step on something, it's going to be the front guy.

COOPER: Every second, Howard has to remain alert. One mistake could kill him or a fellow Marine behind him.

(on camera): That can be tough, too, because you never really know who's a friend and who's an enemy. HOWARD: Exactly. You can look around right now and, you know, that guy who's over there. That could be a good guy, could be a bad guy. You never know

COOPER (voice-over): IEDs have become the No. 1 threat to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In Helmand province, they're responsible for some 80 percent of all casualties.

(on camera): They can either be buried in the road or detonated by a member of the Taliban who's hiding in underbrush like this.

That's why it's important for the Marines to keep ten or 15 meters in between each Marine on patrol so that, in the event that an IED is detonated, the damage is limited.

(voice-over): Since they arrived in Helmand province a little more than two months ago, the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment has lost one Marine to IEDs; 48 others have been wounded.

In July, Lance Corporal James Buttery's vehicle was hit. He escaped with just a concussion.

(on camera): And where did you -- you landed literally right over there?

LANCE CORPORAL JAMES BUTTERY, U.S. MARINES: Yes. The front of the truck was pretty much where that tree was. Knocked the tree out and I was laying right there. The front end was just there. I was able to crawl out. The other Marines here were able to jump in and grab the Marine that was in the canal. We were all conscious. No serious injuries.

COOPER: You were lucky.


COOPER (voice-over): Marines collect parts of the IEDs they discover. Pressure plate devices like this one are common.

LANCE CPL. REESE BARNETT, U.S. MARINES: When you step on that, this charge goes off. And that's how you get your explosion.

COOPER: Right.

BARNETT: They make a lot of stuff out here that for the pressure plates, you see how they did it. Little metal strips right there can make it real hasty like. Put the sticks on there. Goes down. And then that's how it connects, and they also make...

COOPER (on camera): So that's what -- I mean that's amazing seeing it's as primitive as that. It's basically just two pieces of wood with some metal.

BARNETT: Yes, sir. I'm not going to put -- they're pretty small (ph). But we're finding them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you seen anything out of the ordinary around here? Down in the village?


COOPER (voice-over): Today's patrol is not just about finding IEDs, however. It's about meeting local residents, building their confidence in U.S. forces and in the local Afghan government.

It's not exactly what First Lieutenant Chris Conanan (ph) expected to be doing in Afghanistan.

1ST LT. CHRIS CONANAN, U.S. MARINES: Initially I thought I was going to have pretty much just a firefight every day, just a running gun fight. What I've seen is that we haven't taken contact in maybe a month or so in terms of small arms, which is a good thing. And right now we're simply just having tea with village elders.

COOPER (on camera): Hot tea.

CONANAN: Exactly. I've had -- I can't even remember how many cups of tea. And a couple dinners, which is always an interesting experience.

COOPER (voice-over): Building trust, however, takes more than tea. It takes time. And with the Taliban growing in strength in many parts of Afghanistan, U.S. officials acknowledge time is not on America's side.

(on camera): Do you think the people here believe you're here to stay? Or do you think you're still on the fence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the majority of them are on the fence. We have some supporters, and we have some people that think that we're going to leave tomorrow. But for the majority of the people, I think they're on the fence.

COOPER (voice-over): To get them off the fence and on the side of the Afghan government, the Marines are trying to fund local development projects and show residents they're not going to let the Taliban return.

In the town of Kaji Baba (ph), the Marines meet with two village elders. Both are courteous but aren't willing to say if they support the U.S. or the Taliban.

Lieutenant Colonel Bill McCullough (ph) tells them Marines will be here at least until next summer. But beyond that, he can't promise.

(on camera): So a lot of people here aren't willing yet to choose sides.

LT. COL. BILL MCCULLOUGH, U.S. MARINES: They're waiting for a little more bona fides from us that we are here to stay.

That's what we're trying to develop here. They trust us, they trust their own government. And once these folks pick sides and say, you know, "We're with the government," I believe that is -- it's not a win, but it's a sign that we're winning.

Anderson Cooper, CNN, Helmand province, Afghanistan.


PHILLIPS: All right, thanks for spending your afternoon with us. Drew Griffin in for Rick Sanchez, and he takes it from here.