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Rationing Life-Saving Drugs; Governor Rick Perry's HPV Vaccine Mandate; Veterans Battle for Jobs; Obama Pitches Jobs Bill in North Carolina; GOP Wins Weiner's Old Seat; Final Gulf Oil Spill Report; 20- Hour U.S. Embassy Attack Ends; Underwear Bomber in Court; Violent Message in Mexico; Casey Anthony's Parents Speak Out; Rick Perry Visits Virginia
Aired September 14, 2011 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: A new hour brings a new and heartrending burden to people who don't need any more burdens.
Imagine being hit with a cancer diagnosis, bracing yourself for weeks, maybe months of grueling chemotherapy, and then finding out that the drug that may or may not save your life may not be available.
Pharmacists are calling a growing shortage of critically important medicines a public health crisis. Not all of the almost 200 drugs now considered scarce are cancer drugs, but most of them are, and they include some front-line therapies for breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, testicular cancer, and leukemia.
I said it's a growing problem, and here's what I mean. As recently as 2006, only 56 drugs were on the FDA's short list. Last year, more than three times that many.
I'm joined now by someone who knows this problem intimately. Susan Kennedy, she's a lawyer from New Jersey and a breast cancer patient. Her drug of choice for chemotherapy was rationed.
Susan, you wrote a very powerful column about your ordeal in "USA Today." Tell us about the day that you learned that there wasn't enough Taxol to go around.
SUSAN KENNEDY, BREAST CANCER PATIENT: Well, I had no idea that this was a problem at all, and my doctor contacted me and told me that there might not be any Paclitaxel for me the next morning. And I just paused, and I guess from the look on my face, he said, "Really, I'm not kidding," because it's such a hard thing to believe, that it could be happening in the United States. You know, I did a little research myself, and we talked about it, and it was basically devastating on top of everything else to find out that you might not be able to get the drug you need to survive.
KAYE: And you say that this shortage and this decision by some of the drug companies who have seen a drop in profit, so they're not making these drugs anymore, you say that this decision really served their bottom line, but placed a burden on those who are relying on them, really. It puts people like you in danger.
How concerned are you?
KENNEDY: Oh, I'm very concerned, not just for myself, but for the hundreds of thousands of other chemotherapy patients out there. Every Friday I would go to chemotherapy and sit there for hours, and you really bond with the people that are receiving treatment alongside you. And you're looking around the room wondering who's getting their treatment and who's not. It's a very sad state of affairs.
KAYE: You are a lawyer by trade. You're an advocate by nature. I mean, what do you want the government to do? What do you want the drug companies to do?
KENNEDY: Well, I know they're looking into several options to alleviate this problem. There is legislation pending that would require drug companies to notify the FDA prior to the time they make a decision to stop making a drug. They're looking at importing drugs from foreign countries. But these things take -- they're going to take time, and people who are in the middle of treatment right now don't have the time. So I'm looking for them to speed the process up, do whatever they need to do, but do it quickly.
KAYE: Susan, say with us.
I want to bring in now Valerie Jensen. She's the FDA's point person on drug shortages. She's also a captain in the public health service.
Captain, thank you very much for coming on and talking about this. Obviously, a very serious issue for those who need these drugs so badly.
Can you help us understand why there is a shortage?
VALERIE JENSEN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, FDA'S DRUG SHORTAGE PROGRAM: Well, the shortages that have occurred have really been these hospital drugs. And unfortunately, right now, we're seeing a large number of oncology drug shortages, as you're aware. And we're very concerned about that.
When we looked back at the reasons for these shortages, why they're occurring, many of them involve quality problems, so problems that the manufacturers that have been making the drugs. And we're working with the companies on that.
The other issue is that often, these older drugs get discontinued, and especially in favor of newer drugs. And so, unfortunately, we have fewer and fewer firms making these drugs. It's a big problem.
KAYE: And from what I understand, and correct me if I'm wrong here, the drug companies, they don't have to tell the FDA when they've stopped making a drug or when they expect a shortage? There's no ruling there that they must alert the FDA?
JENSEN: That's right. So, really, the only requirement that is currently in place is that companies have to let the FDA know six months in advance before they stop making a drug. And there's no penalty if they don't let us know. So, unfortunately, sometimes these shortages occur, often they occur, and the FDA receives no notification.
KAYE: Susan, I want to get back to you here. I understand that last Friday was a very big day for you.
KENNEDY: Yes, it was. It was my very last day of a six-month regimen of chemotherapy. So I graduated.
KAYE: Is there anything that you would like to say or like to request from the drug companies or from the FDA since we have the captain here?
KENNEDY: Yes. I would like them to think not just of the drugs, but of each individual person who is depending on that drug for their very survival. They're in the middle of the fight of their life, and they need all the help they can get right now.
KAYE: I want to share with all of you and our viewers included here a statement from Teva Pharmaceuticals. They responded to our request, and they tell us that, "Our shortages are due to the fact that our facility that manufacturers our injectable drugs in California has been on a production hold since April, 2010. We've resumed some production, with the focus being on life-saving drugs on the shortage list. We anticipate it will take us through the end of the year to resume full production at that site."
Captain, do you feel like you're getting cooperation from the drug companies? Do they understand how important this is to people like Susan?
JENSEN: Well, we continue to work very closely with the companies making these drugs. We know how important they are for our patients, and we're continuing to work really closely with them, and we'll continue to do so.
KAYE: Is there any chance that you can get some of these drugs possibly from foreign countries? And how long would that take? Because a lot of these patients don't have a lot of time, possibly.
JENSEN: Absolutely. And it is something we look at.
So, when we know that a shortage is ongoing, and it's not going to be quickly fixed, we're working with other companies overseas to bring in drugs from overseas. And we have done that. We've done that several times -- actually, eight times recently for drugs that have been in shortage. And we're carefully evaluating those drugs to make sure that those are safe for our patients.
KAYE: Captain Valerie Jensen, Susan Kennedy, we certainly appreciate your time today.
And Susan, we certainly hope you're feeling good in the days and months ahead. KENNEDY: Thank you so much.
KAYE: Thank you.
JENSEN: Thank you.
KAYE: At the CNN/Tea Party Express GOP debate, Michele Bachmann threw off the gloves and went after Rick Perry, calling his decision to force young girls to get the HPV vaccine offensive.
Our own Ed Lavandera has a look at Perry's relationship with Merck, the provider of that vaccine.
But first, new technology is taking the concept of hands free to the next level.
Gary Tuchman has a "Technovation" you have to see to believe.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Drew Miller was 43, with no major health issues, until ALS limited his ability to speak and move. Now, though, he's able to communicate and connect online with the blink of an eye.
BARBARA BARCLAY, TOBII: Eye tracking is revolutionizing life for people with disabilities. Now they have a communication tool. They can take part in social media.
TUCHMAN: For Drew, and people with similar disabilities, eye tracking technology is a huge part of their lives, and it could become a part of everyone's sooner than you think. New computers allow you to flip through folders, scan over maps, even select music with a glance of your eye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the next five to 10 years, eye tracking technology will be in almost every device you use on a day-to-day basis.
TUCHMAN: Which could mean using your eyes to adjust settings in your car, scroll through the Web, and even play games.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah, yes!
TUCHMAN: It looks like a lot of fun, but can also give insight to how we think.
BARCLAY: So many things about the way your eyes move is related to how your brain is working.
TUCHMAN: It's also helping doctors spot early developmental problems in children, and rehabilitate people with traumatic brain injuries.
It's the technology of tomorrow with advantages you can see today.
Gary Tuchman, CNN.
KAYE: Besides Social Security, Rick Perry's HPV vaccine mandate was a hot topic at the CNN/Tea Party Express GOP debate. Michele Bachmann tore off the gloves, going after the Texas governor for forcing young girls to get vaccinated and calling into question his relationship with the drug manufacturer Merck.
Our own Ed Lavandera has a closer look at Perry and Merck.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The HPV controversy has hovered over Rick Perry for more than four years. But it wasn't until the CNN/Tea Party debate that Perry's opponents really dug into the Texas governor.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat-out wrong.
The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor, and this is just flat-out wrong.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raise about $30 million. And if you're saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I'm offended.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LAVANDERA: Five thousand dollars in 2006, according to Texas campaign finance documents, but altogether Merck has donated more than $28,000 to Rick Perry's gubernatorial campaigns in the last 10 years. More than $20,000 of those donations were made before the governor issued the controversial HPV executive order.
PERRY: But I do not understand why we, as a people, would not take this opportunity to use this vaccine that's come to us
LAVANDERA: That was Rick Perry back in 2007 trying to muster support for the HPV vaccine mandate, but he was heavily criticized when it emerged that his former chief of staff Mike Toomey had worked as a lobbyist for Merck and other companies before and after working for Perry.
Dallas Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson attended the debate, and says most people in the hall weren't happy with Perry's answers on this issue.
KATRINA PIERSON, DALLAS TEA PARTY: Capital cronyism is extremely important and it runs rampant throughout both parties and the issue needs to be discussed and we need to make sure that we have a candidate committed to principled legislation and governing, not special interest driven.
LAVANDERA: But the relationship between Rick Perry, his former chief of staff, and the drug maker Merck is troubling to campaign finance watchdogs like Texans for Public Justice. It found that while Perry was prominent in the Republican Governors Association, Merck donated more than $377,000 to the RGA. That's since 2006. In the same period, the association has donated $4 million to Rick Perry's campaigns for governor, all perfectly legal, but a glimpse into how money runs through the political system.
And now Rick Perry says he handled the HPV vaccine issue all wrong.
PERRY: But on that particular issue, I will tell you that I made a mistake by not going to the legislature first.
At the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer.
KAYE: Ed Lavandera joins us now.
So, Ed, do you think that Perry's relationship with Merck might hurry the campaign, or no?
LAVANDERA: Well, it's interesting. It didn't hurt him in the last gubernatorial election here. Rick Perry defeated Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was believed at the time to be the most popular Republican politician in the state. And Perry defeated her soundly in the primary, and then went on to win the general election as well.
Perry's folks have said for more than four years that that relationship between Perry and his former chief of staff, and him going on to work for Merck, had no bearing on his decision. They say everything was above board and have long denied that. It hasn't affected him in this campaign or in the last election here in Texas. We'll see how this issue continues to kind of fester over here in the presidential election.
KAYE: Yes. Something, though, Ed, that the viewers couldn't see at home was really what happened after the debate, where a lot of Tea Partiers jumped ship, and now they're backing Romney.
So you think we might expect to see more of that after this debate?
LAVANDERA: You know, that's one of the things we brought up with the Dallas Tea Party activist that was in the story there. She had just flown back here to Dallas. We were talking to her, and I said, "That explanation on the HPV vaccine issue, how did that go over? Did he win people over in that hall?"
She didn't think so. So it will be interesting to see if that one issue has turned a lot of people away.
She mentioned the words there, "capital cronyism." That's a popular phrase right now, and it's spreading among a lot of Tea Partiers. And it's something that they don't like, and they're looking for people who can avoid that.
KAYE: All right.
Ed Lavandera, nice job digging into Perry's history there. Appreciate it. Thank you.
Well, they have fought to keep our country safe, but our veterans are fighting another battle right here at home. One word: jobs. We'll show you how one vet is winning that fight, next.
KAYE: No matter how you look at it, Democrat or Republican, people are struggling to find a job. But if you think the nation's unemployment rate at 9.1 percent is bad, this is the reality for our veterans who have faithfully served our country since 2001. An 11.5 percent unemployment rate, that's about one in every nine veterans, with no job. A lot of veterans are coming home after being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to a tough battle of landing a job.
But Barbara Starr caught up with an Iraq war veteran who is actually sowing and now reaping his own opportunities as an example for other veterans.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I'm a city girl. You've got to tell me what all this stuff is?
MIKE HANES, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Well, there's all kind of edibles growing over here. Right here is Curly Dock. It's kind of sour. You can cut this raw in a salad. You can cook it.
STARR (voice-over): After serving in a Marine Corps reconnaissance unit in Iraq, Mike Hanes returned home in 2004 plagued with such severe combat stress, he couldn't work. He found himself homeless.
HANES: When I came back, I really had an extremely difficult time transitioning. And I just could not interact or associate with society at all.
STARR: Then Mike came to this farm just outside San Diego. Here, fellow Marine Colin Archipley and his wife teach farming to combat veterans looking for new careers. It's much needed help. The jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans is 11.5 percent in today's already fragile job market.
And Mike was vulnerable, says Colin.
COLIN ARCHIPLEY, ARCHIE'S ACRES FOUNDER: It was frequently that he would give us a call and said, I don't think I'm going to make it today. And we'd kind of coerce him and get him up here.
STARR: Now Mike is turning everything around. At the farm's kitchen table, a new life is mapped out.
HANES: I've got to find out if they sell it in big, huge containers, you know.
DWIGHT DETTER, ARMY VETERAN/WHOLE FOODS BUYER: Right. All right. So what I'll do is I'll call my main distributor.
STARR: Mike is going into production with his own hot sauce called Dang (ph). Whole Foods' buyer Dwight Detter is trying to get it on his market shelves this fall. An Army veteran, Dwight felt an instant connection.
DETTER: Here is a person I want to get involved in this, and it kind of fit in with what I do for work, but gave me new opportunities to help him develop his label, his brand.
STARR: Mike says he's learned to seek support, but for combat vets, getting any job can be tough.
HANES: It's hard to find support for these veterans coming back because there's so much involved with turning that off. You know, the on switch that's been triggered when you're in combat.
STARR: And perhaps something switched on for Dwight. Thinking about helping a young vet get ahead makes him feel like he's still serving.
DETTER: That's funny. I haven't even thought of that in that way. Yes? Maybe so. Maybe it's a rewarding feeling that I didn't get when I was doing it at the time. Interesting.
STARR (on camera): Mike Hanes will tell you this program has made him finally able to move on into a new post-war phase of his life.
KAYE: All right. Thank you, Barbara.
The president's jobs plan, if passed, would give a tax credit of up to $5,600 to encourage businesses to hire veterans.
Time right now, about 20 minutes past the hour. Let's check our top stories.
KAYE: Up next, an Albanian immigrant claims the federal government reneged on a deal to protect him and his family after he agreed to testify against a fellow Albanian accused of a crime. Now he fears for his family's life if they're deported.
We'll have Gary Tuchman here with that story. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KAYE: The Justice Department is accused of reneging on a deal to offer help and green cards to a family of Albanian immigrants and maybe putting some members of that family in danger.
A man named Edmond Demiraj says that a decade ago, federal prosecutors promised to protect him and his family in exchange for his testimony against a fellow Albanian immigrant who was accused of criminal activity in Texas. Well, the case never went to trial. We'll explain why in just a moment.
But the bottom line on the story is this: the government wants to deport Demiraj and his wife and teenage son back to Albania, claiming that they don't qualify for asylum. Prosecutors even acknowledge in court papers that they could be harmed in Albania, but they're still moving ahead with the deportation proceedings.
This story is a complicated puzzle. Gary Tuchman puts the pieces together for us.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The school day has just ended, and Rodina and Edmond Demiraj are relaxing on the porch of this suburban Houston home with their three children. It's an idyllic setting. The family even has a Shetland pony in the yard.
One might assume the Demirajes are living a happy life. But they're not. They believe they're in grave danger.
RODINA DEMIRAJ, MOTHER: We both are in a lot of depression. Like, we're trying to do our stuff, like our things, but it's really hard.
TUCHMAN: That's because the U.S. government wants this mother and her 19-year-old son deported back to their native Albania
R. DEMIRAJ: How can they separate families? And how can they send, like, half of the family over there when they know already that it's a danger?
TUCHMAN: This is who keeps them up at night. His name is Bill Badini (ph), an Albanian national. He was arrested in the U.S. a decade ago, charged with human trafficking.
Edmond Demiraj, who was in the U.S. illegally, worked for Badini (ph) as a painter. A government prosecutor offered a deal if Demiraj would testify against his former boss.
(on camera): So they said, we will protect you and give you a green card --
EDMOND DEMIRAJ, GOVERNMENT WITNESS: Yes, sir.
TUCHMAN: -- if you help us? E. DEMIRAJ: Yes, sir.
TUCHMAN: And you said?
E. DEMIRAJ: I said I'm ready to work with the U.S. government, whatever they need from me.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In court, Badini (ph) entered a not guilty plea, but before the trial could start, he jumped bail and fled home to Albania.
With Badini (ph) gone, Demiraj says the U.S. reneged on his deal. He was deported back to Albania in the middle of the night, without a chance to even call his family. And Bill Badini (ph) was there waiting for him, with a gun in his hand
E. DEMIRAJ: He pointed the gun straight here. And after that, he grabbed me again and pulled me up. And the gun was right here. He shot me.
TUCHMAN: This is what Demiraj's abdomen looked like after he was shot. He left Albania and, through Mexico, found his way back to the U.S. He asked for asylum and requested the U.S. honor the promise of protection from Badini's (ph) associates, whom he says remain in Texas. Immigration officials are allowing him to stay while his case is reviewed, along with his two younger children who could stay because they were born in the U.S.
But not his 19-year-old son, nor his wife Rodina, even though a Justice Department lawyer has said in court that if she goes to Albania, "There is a possibility that Mrs. Demiraj will be persecuted." But that lawyer also said, "She hasn't met her legal burden when it comes to asylum."
(on camera): What do you think could happen to your wife and son if they go back to Albania?
E. DEMIRAJ: They're going to be killed. They're going to be killed.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Now, the Demirajes' attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.
JOSHUA ROSENKRANZ, FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: This is just such a shameful display of how the U.S. government will use people who they need to keep us safe, and then cavalierly discard them when they no longer need these people.
TUCHMAN (on camera): If U.S. government attorneys acknowledge that Edmond's wife Rodina could be harmed in Albania, why would they fight so hard to send her and her son back? It's perplexing and frankly seems inhumane and makes you wonder if there's more to the story.
(voice-over): If there is, the U.S. Department of Justice isn't saying. Officials don't deny they offered the Demirajs green cards if Edmund cooperated in the prosecution of Badini. They don't doubt Badini shot him. About all the Justice Department will tell us is that it is not aware of any promises of physical protection ever made to Mr. Demiraj or his family.
The assistant U.S. attorney who cut the green card deal with Demiraj had no comment to CNN. She's now in private practice and has been nominated for a federal judgeship.
(on camera): Will you ever allow your wife and son to go back to Albania?
E. DEMIRAJ: I'm going to --
TUCHMAN: There's no way you can do that, right?
E. DEMIRAJ: That is not -- I don't know what I have to do, but I'm not going to let them go there.
KAYE: Gary Tuchman joins us in studio.
It's horrible to see what that family is going through, but you say there are some new developments today.
TUCHMAN: New developments just about an hour and a half ago, the attorneys for the Demiraj family were summoned to offices with top immigration and Justice officials and they were told by these officials, OK, lay out your case.
This is very interesting. This rarely happens in any immigration case, but it has happened now. The attorneys for the Demiraj laid out their case, including what you just saw in our story.
That kind of information the officials, the Justice officials and immigration officials, said, OK, let us think about it. But the attorneys for the Demiraj family say they're cautiously optimistic. They're hoping for a development from this meeting.
KAYE: He's so concerned for the family. I certainly hope there is movement there. You know, what we always say you should always get everything in writing. Did this family get anything in writing when they made this deal with the government?
TUCHMAN: I think that's what's very interesting. Edmund Demiraj has nothing in writing, but what's very important is the U.S. government doesn't deny making this deal. The U.S. government doesn't deny dropping Demiraj like a hot potato and sending him back to Albania. So there's no denial that a deal was made.
KAYE: Are they scared? I mean, you can see he's certainly emotional, but did you get the sense that they are very scared?
TUCHMAN: I mean, Mrs. Demiraj tells me she sleeps every night with one eye open. She has three children. They believe -- I mean, Demiraj says he's seen Badini's associates in the Houston area. They say just a couple of weeks ago, they have a rental property -- it's a very quiet neighborhood they live in.
They have a rental property couple of blocks away. Windows were broken. They believe it was vandalized by Demiraj's men. They're not only worried about life in Houston, they have family members in Albania, and they're deathly worried about their family members too.
KAYE: Wow, it's an incredible story. Gary Tuchman, nicely done. Bring us up to date would you if there are any more changes.
TUCHMAN: Thanks, Randi.
KAYE: All right, thank you.
The underwear bomber is representing himself in court today and he's already making a scene. I'll tell you what you've missed right after the break.
KAYE: Time right now, 35 minutes past the hour. Let's check the top headlines and other news you may have missed.
President Obama was back on the road today pushing his jobs bill taking his case to the key battleground state of North Carolina. The president was in the Raleigh-Durham area where he toured a manufacturing facility and then headed to North Carolina State University to deliver his third speech in as many days. The president once again told Congress they should have no problems passing the jobs bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Everything in this proposal, everything in this legislation, everything in the American Jobs Act, is the kind of proposal that in the past at least has been supported by Democrats and Republicans. Everything in it will be paid for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: A new CNN/ORC international poll shows Americans trust the president on economic matters more than they trust Republicans in Congress.
Republican Bob Turner has won a special election in New York's heavily Democratic ninth congressional district. He won the seat of Anthony Weiner, the disgraced lawmaker who's sexting scandal went public. Turner beat a Democratic candidate who is an orthodox Jew, in a district that is 25 percent Jewish.
He framed the race on what he called President Obama's insufficient support of Israel. The Republican was endorsed by former Democratic New York Mayor Ed Koch who was an Obama supporter in 2008.
The federal government released its final report on the BP oil spill just a short time ago. As expected, the government spreads the blame between BP and subcontractors Halliburton and Transocean.
The report found all three companies violated federal safety regulations. Eleven workers died when a BP oil rig exploded in April 2010. Two hundred million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico.
In Afghanistan, an attack that dragged on for 20 hours near the American embassy in Kabul is over. Six Taliban militants behind the attack are dead.
New video shows frightened children crying after a rocket- propelled grenade explodes near their school van. This went down not far from the abandoned building the Taliban used to fire on the American embassy. That attack and others around Kabul Tuesday killed seven Afghans.
The man accused of trying to detonate a bomb in his underwear on a plane more than a year ago reportedly is making a scene in court today in Detroit.
CNN affiliate WDIB reports that Omar Faruk Abdulmutallab yelled, Osama's alive when he entered the courtroom. It is the first day of his trial and he is representing himself.
A chilling message to social media users, two bodies with signs of torture were found hanging from a pedestrian bridge in the border town in Mexico. We'll have the details ahead.
KAYE: A chilling message to those who use social media in Mexico. Now, we have to warn you the video that you're about to see is very graphic, but take a look.
Two bodies hanging from a bridge with signs of torture. Messages left near the bodies said the victims were killed for denouncing drug cartel activity on a social network.
Joining us with much more on this is Rafael Romo.
Boy, that video is hard to look at. Tell us what do you make of this? What do you know about it?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Here's the bottom line, Randi. What happens is in Mexico media outlets have been threatened by organized crime and for a long time now they have practiced self-censorship.
So what people were doing was using social media to report on the crimes happening, crimes committed by drug cartels and organized crime. So now what's happening now is that yesterday morning they found two bodies hanging from a pedestrian bridge in the city of Nuevo Laredo.
Just to put in perspective to our viewers, this is across the border from Laredo, Texas. Right next to the messages, there were posters indicating that this is going to happen to all those who are posting messages online reporting on what's happening with the drug cartels, drug violence in Mexico.
So it's a very shocking and chilling message to people who are doing that in Mexico.
KAYE: So how carefully do the drug cartels then monitor social media? It sounds like they're pretty on top of it.
ROMO: Based on what we see here, they monitor social media very closely. They're specifically targeting two blogs that talk every day about what's happening in Mexico where people can go there and in anonymous way, they post signs of drug violence in Mexico.
So apparently now, as far as we know, this is the first time that they're targeting those people and allegedly those two who were murdered were part of that.
KAYE: You say the media takes part in some self-censorship, but there are others maybe even these people who don't follow that same rule and choose to speak out. And this is what can happen.
ROMO: Exactly, because traditional media outlets have been threatened for years now in Mexico. Many of them are just not reporting any of this.
So the only option that people have is reporting on Twitter, on Facebook, on blogs where they can do so anonymously, but this is a very, very shocking message and it's definitely going to create a chilling effect.
KAYE: What is it that they're saying about the drug cartels that they don't want out there? How much can they say about them? Are they telling their whereabouts or what they're involved in or why would they want to kill people over them speaking out about them?
ROMO: If there's a shootout, you'll see it on Twitter. If there's facing-off of rival drug cartels, you'll see it on Twitter. So that information is being used by Mexican authorities to deploy the military, to deploy the federal police. That's probably the reason why these cartels don't like it out there, because they're being found out a lot sooner than they used to be.
KAYE: So they can call attention as to where they are. Are there -- do we have any idea how many networks are actually under threat that they might be monitoring?
ROMO: They specifically threatened two, and both allow people to anonymously post messages about what's happening in a real time basis.
So far it's only two, but then a part of the message in the poster that says, that is going to happen to all those of you posting funny messages on social media that can be interpreted to include everybody who ever says anything about organized crime in Mexico.
KAYE: You know, before you came on, I actually posted our link on cnn.com to the story on my Facebook page. And I'm getting quite a bit of reaction. What has the reaction been in Mexico, any idea?
ROMO: Well, we just saw a post by somebody on Twitter saying this is the time to show what we're made of. In essence, saying we cannot be afraid, we cannot back away from reporting what these drug cartels are doing to the Mexican people, and we need to keep on reporting so that the entire world knows what Mexico is going through.
KAYE: Wow. It's horrible to see what's happened to those people there. Rafael, appreciate you're digging on that a little bit for us and we'll continue to watch it. Thank you very much.
Deadly strains of bacteria in your food? Finally, the U.S. government is cracking down. Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us how this affects you in just a couple of minutes. We'll be right back.
KAYE: Food has gone largely unchecked for some deadly strains of bacteria seriously. But following a series of scares and recalls, the government is now taking some action.
The Department of Agriculture says it's going to test for six more deadly E. coli strains in ground beef, which in some cases got into stores and even onto some of your dinner plates.
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to talk about to us about why the government was OK with letting these deadly strains into our food supply until now.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's worth pointing out that they already test for all these strains of E. coli. What's different here is this idea that they're going to keep the food from entering the food supply if they test positive for these additional six strains.
It probably has more to do with the amount than anything else. In the past, it was thought maybe these are just trace amounts. It's OK if they get into the food supply. But now obviously there's a change in attitude here. They're saying even if there's trace amounts it could cause potential problems.
Let keep that food out of the supply in the first place. Again, this isn't so much about recalls as it is doing inspections early on and keeping that food from getting into the supply initially.
Now, you know, there's been a whole movement. You know, we talk a lot about food recalls. There's been a whole movement in terms of trying to modernize food safety overall. For example, a lot of people don't realize that the FDA in the past did not have the ability to issue recalls.
They could just recommend them, but they could not mandate them. The FDA can now do that. Also, this idea of inspections, doing more inspections at various plants, various facilities, that's also been amped up as well. That's where this comes into play. Now, not everyone thinks this is a good idea. For example, the American Meat Industry, they released a statement saying, look, we think this is going to cost a lot of money. That those costs will be passed on to the consumer and we don't think there's significant public health benefit by keeping this additional food out of the food supply.
Again, food that has these additional strains of E. coli, but this is, you know, obviously how it is going to be for now. You know, talking about food and talking about food safety, something people are paying attention to is wisteria, as well.
Different than E. coli, but a potentially deadly bacteria, 16 people have become sick. They've been able to trace this particular bacteria back to the rocky ford region in Colorado and in cantaloupes specifically. A fascinating process the way that they do this inspection, unravel the mystery for where this food came.
But for now I think they've got a handle on it, wisteria, 16 people in Colorado and a few adjoining states well. They're going to tell people to keep in mind if you have a weakened immune system, if you're a pregnant woman, you're more at risk for developing some serious problems here.
But also that the basic supply, clean your produce, clean your hands obviously, make sure to take the skin off the cantaloupe before you eat it. That's where bacteria tend to reside. But again, some potentially good news in terms of keeping our food safe from E. coli. Back to you.
KAYE: Thank you, Sanjay.
It's important to note the testing doesn't start immediately. The USDA will begin testing for those six additional E. coli strains beginning March 5th of next year.
Straight ahead, a family values televangelist advocates divorce, but you won't believe the circumstances. Time to "Face the Music."
KAYE: Time now to "Face the Music." Every day on this show, we call out someone who we think has, well, really screwed up. Today, it is Pat Robertson, the host off the "700 Club," the Christian TV program.
Robertson was asked on his show to give advice to a man whose wife is suffering from Alzheimer's. The man's friend wrote a letter to the show sharing that the man's wife doesn't recognize him and the guy is, quote, "bitter at God and has started seeing another woman."
When Robertson's co-host asked what that man should do, here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, 700 CLUB: I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: That's right. You heard it, Pat Robertson actually said the man should leave his wife, divorce her, because she has Alzheimer's and start all over again.
Now, I should point out that Robertson did suggest the man find someone to care for his wife first. He called it custodial care. How sweet of him to suggest that, right? Robertson went on to say that he won't, quote, "put a guilt trip on anyone who decided that divorce was the answer."
Whatever happened to for better or worse, until death do us part? I can only imagine how painful it must be to watch your loved one lose their memory and not recognize you, but these comments are thoughtless and hurtful.
So on behalf of the 5.4 million people suffering from Alzheimer's in the United States, I say it is time for you, Pat Robertson, to "Face the Music."
KAYE: Casey Anthony's parents speaking out on the case that a lot of people can't get enough of. In an interview on the Dr. Phil program, George and Cindy Anthony said they still have questions about their granddaughter Caylee's death.
And now at one point, Cindy Anthony said that Casey has a history of seizures and implied that may have been a factor in the changes she saw in her daughter around the time that Caylee was born.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY'S MOTHER: I don't know if she had a seizure that day and blacked out. I don't know what happened and that's what I want to find out down the road. I'm not making justifications for that, but there's a cause for those -- you don't just have a grand mal seizure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: George and Cindy's comments on the Dr. Phil program are their first since Casey Anthony was cleared on murder charges in the death of her daughter back in July.
Good news for those of you who have been outraged over the TSA's physical searches of children. The Transportation Security Administration says new procedures should reduce, but not completely eliminate the number of times children are patted down.
Now among the changes, if a metal detector or full body image indicates a suspicious object, kids will be allowed multiple passes through the machine to try to identify the problem.
Also, screeners will have the option of swabbing a child's hands to check for explosive residue as an alternative to a pat-down. The new rules will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months.
Let's check in now with our Peter Hamby. He's in Richmond, Virginia. Peter, what's happening in the political world today?
PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Hi, there, Randi. Rick Perry, the Republican front-runner made two stops in Virginia, a key battleground in the general election.
He went to Lynchburg, Virginia earlier today and spoke at Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell and gave a personal speech about his faith. But he came here to Richmond to speak to a party launched for the Virginia Republican Party and really outline why he will be the best nominee.
He said that that will be because he can represent the clearest contrast with President Obama in a general election. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't need to elect a nominee who is going to blur the lines between this administration and the Republican Party. We need a nominee who draws a distinct and clear contrast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMBY: After the 2008 election, after John McCain lost that election, he faced a lot of questions from conservatives and criticism because he didn't draw clear enough contrast with President Obama and really the press turnout among the conservative base. Rick Perry here in Richmond today said that he will not drop the ball here. He will keep Republican activists fired up. He said they are fired up and pointed of the special elections upset for Republicans last night in New York's ninth congressional district.
And said that we have to be conservative, we have to create jobs and he said that he'll be the best guy out there to really talk about jobs and job creation because that's what he did in Texas. You know, the national state of the economy right now will offer him a chance to really sell that message, Randi, in the general election.
KAYE: All right, Peter Hamby in Richmond, Virginia. Peter, thank you very much.
And that will do it for me. Thanks everyone for watching. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Brooke Baldwin. Hi, Brooke.