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SANJAY GUPTA MD

Crisis in Combat; Freeing the Chimps; Behind the Music

Aired April 21, 2012 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Hey there. And thanks for joining us this morning.

Lots to get to, including a new push to end medical research on chimpanzees -- a very controversial issue.

Plus, the man behind the music of Drake. His very own producer on living with M.S., what that's like.

But, first, a look "Under the Microscope".

As you may have heard now, the military has long been under fire for ignoring sexual assaults. But this week the Pentagon's top man, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, announced a new crackdown. Now, the main change as far as we can tell is that accusations will be investigated by senior officers. Not just unit commanders.

The Pentagon says last year alone, last year, 19,000 sexual assaults in one year, most of them went unreported and unpunished. And there's more to that.

We spoke with several former service women, and this one story we found was typical. She was a marine, who reported an attack by a fellow marine. But instead of finding help, she was drummed out by the military.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Doing the right thing was in 21-year-old Stephanie Schroeder's blood.

STEPHANIE SCHROEDER, RAPED IN MILITARY: I joined shortly after 9/11. I thought it was the right thing to do. I come from a military family and I have a great sense of honor and patriotism towards our country.

GUPTA: Six months after enlisting in the Marines, she found herself training at a base in Virginia. One Saturday, she decided to blow off steam with some fellow Marines.

SCHROEDER: We went out to dinner. I got up to go to the restroom, and my attacker followed me and forced his way into the bathroom. I went to pull the door shut, and he grabbed it and flung it back as hard as he could and charged into the bathroom and slammed the door behind him.

GUPTA: Back on base, Schroeder reported what happened to the officer in charge.

SCHROEDER: I told her I need to report an assault and she just looked at me, and then she started laughing and said, don't come bitching to me because you had sex and changed your mind.

GUPTA: Schroeder said she took a lie detector test about her assault and passed. But charges were never filed against her attacker. In fact, she was forced to work with him side by side for over a year. Meanwhile, her rank was reduced and her pay was docked. She says all because of the incident.

SCHROEDER: If you want to keep your career, you don't say anything. You just bear it. You just deal with it.

GUPTA: But dealing was a struggle. In early 2003, five months pregnant with her now husband in Iraq, Schroeder felt suicidal. She went to see an on base psychologist.

SCHROEDER: The first time, he was very nice. The second time, we got into the assault. Shortly after that, the chain of command said, well, we're starting an administrative discharge on you.

GUPTA: On June 30th, 2003, Schroeder received her discharge papers. The reason given for separation: personality disorder -- a disorder that the textbook for psychiatrists defines as a long-standing pattern of maladaptive behavior, beginning in adolescence or early adulthood.

ANU BHAGWATI, SERVICE WOMEN'S ACTION NETWORK: It makes no sense for people medically to be diagnosed, all of a sudden, after being sexual assaulted as an adult in the military, to say, no, you've had this all along.

GUPTA: Anu Bhagwati is a former Marine and also executive director of Servicewomen's Action Network. It's a veterans advocacy group.

BHAGWATI: It's also extremely convenient to slap a false diagnosis on a young woman or man and then just get rid of them, right? So that you don't have to deal with that problem in your unit. Unfortunately, a lot of sexual assault survivors are considering problems.

GUPTA: Schroeder is not the only one. In fact, we spoke to multiple women in all branches of the U.S. military who tell similar stories.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Panayi (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA: These women were all willing to go public, telling us how they reported sexual assaults, they were all discharged for psychiatric disorders.

For Schroeder, the discharge was a mixed blessing.

SCHROEDER: Once I got it right at that moment, I was just so relieved and just so happy that I was -- it was over. Yes.

GUPTA: But it also came with a price. Because of her discharge, Schroeder lost the chance to attend college under the G.I. bill. She is luckier than other women who even lost their V.A. health benefits.

SCHROEDER: You know, people say the rape was bad, but the aftermath was worse.

GUPTA: Today, the 30-year-old mother of two still suffers from anxiety and depression. She is fighting for a PTSD diagnosis from the V.A.

SCHROEDER: When I look back at that, that is just so shocking that they could dehumanize anybody like that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Well, I'll tell you, we had a chance to get a question about all this and specifically this diagnosis issue to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that was at the press conference this week. Take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Obviously, our goal here is to try to put in place what we need in order to deal with these cases as we move forward. There are procedures within the Department of Defense that allow these individuals to raise these concerns and determine whether or not they have not been treated fairly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And the Pentagon also gave us a statement, saying any service member who thinks their discharge status is unfair, such as being diagnosed with personality disorder, should appeal it through a discharge review board.

We're going to stay on top of this particular story.

Coming up, though, the push to end medical research using chimpanzees, the concern is this, some say it could derail the hunt for cures.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on up, guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: You're watching a clip from a new documentary "Chimpanzee," a piece of the profits this week will go do the Jane Goodall Institute to protect wild chimpanzees.

I'll tell you, here in the United States, chimps are at the center of this pretty big controversy. The question is, should they be part of the medical research? There are more than 900 chimps in research centers around the United States as things stand now, and genetically, about 99 percent the same as people. So, doctors once thought disease and medicine would affect them the same way. But it turned out that's not entirely true. One research field where chimps do play a big role is hunting for a vaccine for hepatitis C. But even that is controversial.

And now, the United States is on the verge of banning all chimp research.

CNN's John Zarrella has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chimpanzees -- for decades, researchers have used them to test everything from the toxicity of pesticides and hair sprays, to finding cures for cancer, AIDS and hepatitis. They are poked and prodded, given dangerous drugs. Researchers take tissue samples from their livers, kidneys and bone marrow.

Now, there is an intensifying debate over whether the era of chimp research should end.

Depending on who you ask, it would either be disastrous for public health or no big deal.

ANDREW ROWAN, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: I just think that at the end of the day, when you start looking at the dollars, you look at the ethics and you look at the science, the answer here is that chimpanzees are no longer valid or useful in a research context.

THOMAS ROWELL, DIRECTOR, NEW IBERIA RESEARCH CENTER: I think we have a moral obligation. I think we have an ethical obligation, to use every tool that we can in order to advance medicines, in order to advance vaccines for the benefit of the public.

ZARRELLA: Legislation sitting in Congress would end all invasive research using chimps. And a pivotal study by the Institute of Medicine, IOM, concluded the use of chimps is, quote, "largely unnecessary." In response the National Institutes of Health, NIH, asked a panel of experts to tell it how to proceed. It doesn't have to follow the recommendations, but it's expected they will.

There are approximately 1,000 chimps in research institutions. A change in the law could require the retirement of all of them. With no crystal ball in the future, the NIH thinks retiring all of them would be a very bad idea.

DR. JAMES ANDERSON, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: We don't know the future. There may be a reemergence of new disease and epidemic for which it's necessary to do research on chimpanzees to save human lives.

ROWAN: One of the questions that was addressed by the IOM was do we need chimpanzees in cases of bio terror threats or any of the rest of it, and the experts at the IOM panel say, you're crazy. There are not enough chimpanzees. It would take far too long, they are too difficult to use.

ZARRELLA: There's no timetable for Congress to push through the Great Ape Act. But the expert panel should make its recommendations by the end of the year. That could spell the end of most chimp research.

John Zarrella, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And I guess the question remains -- will chimp research be replaced by other types of experiments, like using stem cells, for example, before the expert panel makes its recommendations.

Well, tune in to "CNN PRESENTS" this Sunday night to the rest of John Zarrella's report.

Still ahead this morning, right here on SGMD, the man behind the music of Drake, Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne -- Noah "40" Shebib, struck with a disease that could take away his ability to make music.

And up next, sightless, killed by cars. One mother says police are simply looking the other way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back with SGMD.

Most of you may know that I'm training for a triathlon. I tell everyone to be active and getting on a bike is a great way to do it. But, you know, it can also be kind of scary.

In fact, check out some of the headlines recently in New York City.

Rasha Shamoon, killed by a 21-year-old driver who had six prior traffic convictions. For Shamoon's death, the driver got two traffic summons.

Emanuel Taz Washia (ph), he was killed by a driver who was reportedly texting and speeding. That driver got community service.

Then, there's Mathieu Lefevre, another cyclist who was killed by a car. Now, his mother told me she doesn't buy the official story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): The surveillance video shows the waning moments of a young man's life. Just before midnight on October 18th, 2011, a crane truck pulls up to an intersection in Brooklyn. Moments later, so does 30-year-old cyclist Mathieu Lefevre, shown here. Within seconds, Lefevre is dead.

ERIKA LEFEVRE, MATHIEU'S MOTHER: We were devastated when we heard the news, and we are still devastated.

GUPTA: Erika Lefevre says it's not just her son's death that is devastating. It's the battle she has waged for more than six months against the New York City Police Department.

(on camera): After this awful task of having to identify your son, you go to the police precinct. And what do -- are you looking for answers?

LEFEVRE: We just wanted to know what happened.

GUPTA: What did they tell you?

LEFEVRE: We waited at the precinct for hours, we were just brushed off. It wasn't important.

GUPTA (voice-over): The sense a cycling death is not important is a common sentiment and the source of outrage here. In fact, in 2010, in New York City, there were more than 6,000 traffic accidents involving cyclists, 36 died. But, as in this Lefevre case, virtually no criminal charges against the drivers.

(on camera): Navigating New York City is sort of like an urban jousting match. You have pedestrians who at times jay walk, cars speeding even through red lights. A lot of people out there are breaking the law.

But advocates say they are angered by what they perceive to be a bias against bicyclists.

(voice-over): Last year, the NYPD gave more than three times court summons to bike riders and to truck operators.

PAUL STEELY WHITE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES: Well, there may be some law breaking among the cycling population, very few if any of those transgressions of the law are resulting in death or serious injury.

LEFEVRE: We know that right over there, that's where he was hit, and then his bicycle was dragged down for another 171 feet.

GUPTA: According to Lefevre when information about his son's case has trickled out, it showed stunning gaps in the investigation. At first, the NYPD claimed that Mathieu ran a red light. But that was later disproven by surveillance video.

LEFEVRE: It's frustrating beyond description to be handed videotape that shows the death of our son, to watch it over and over and over, and yet never see the events the authorities claim it shows.

GUPTA: And there were vital clues that could have implicated the truck differ for a hit and run that were missing from the police report.

STEVE VACCARO, ATTORNEY, RANKIN & TAYLOR: The truck had this blood and paint evidence on the front bumper, but the camera stopped working.

GUPTA: Steve Vaccaro is the Lefevre family attorney.

VACCARO: And they did not document that evidence anywhere in their investigation of the case.

WHITE: The NYPD has not taken crash investigation seriously and is not prosecuting motorists even when the evidence clearly shows they were violating a traffic law.

GUPTA: We repeatedly tried asking the NYPD about the case and its policies regarding cycling investigations. But we got no response. At the corner where Mathieu Lefevre died, a ghost bike, a haunting reminder of life lost.

(on camera): Does it hurt to talk about it?

LEFEVRE: When you lose a loved one, you want to talk about them all the time.

GUPTA: I'm so sorry.

LEFEVRE: Because that's one of the ways that he stays with you. But on the other hand, it is difficult to talk about it, because of the pain that you feel.

GUPTA: Erika Lefevre hopes that the truth, some semblance of resolution about Mathieu's case might ease that pain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Coming up, for anyone in New York or really anywhere, if you ride, you do need to ride safely. It can be done, we'll show you how.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Riding a bike in the city can be pretty intimidating, especially if you are a first time bike rider, especially if you are in the city that has lots of cars, may not have bike lanes. Maybe you feel wobbly on a bike.

So, I decided to ask some questions of former New York firefighter Matt Long.

Thanks for joining us.

MATT LONG, STRUCK BY BUS WHILE RIDING BIKE: Thanks for having me, Sanjay.

GUPTA: There are so many things that people should be doing every time they get on a bike, just as a starting point, right?

LONG: Absolutely. I mean, there are enough ways to be safe. But, first and foremost, is your helmet. Too many times you see people riding in the park or out in roads without a helmet. It just doesn't make sense to me.

GUPTA: I see helmets cracked and you just know that person's skull would have looked like. What else?

LONG: You know, I think the next important thing about your bike is making it visible. If you are going to ride before the sun comes up or after it goes down, you should have a light on front and the back of your bike. Obviously, it's nice to have at the front of the bike, but they suggest a white light in front and a red light to the back. If you want to be extra cautious, I usually put a light on my helmet as well.

GUPTA: That's a good idea.

LONG: So, you have visibility high and low.

GUPTA: What does it mean to be mindful on a bike?

LONG: You know, being absolutely clear of what's around you. If you're not familiar with the area, it helps if you are because we know when the intersections are coming. But they show many obstacles in here and you're going 15 to 20 miles an hour. You know, you can't assume that you have the right of way. You can't assume that they know you are coming.

GUPTA: Another thing a lot of people just simply don't know, or they assume they know are just the rules of the road, interacting with cars, with other folks on the road. What do you tell them about those rules?

LONG: If the road narrows, and there's not enough room over there, he cyclist actually has the right to the lane.

GUPTA: Is that right?

LONG: That is the law. The cyclist has the right of the lane and you should pull into the lane and let that car behind you see you. If they beep their horn, like you'll get in New York probably, and he sees you. Now, you are visible. Just ride and so you can get over. Exactly.

GUPTA: Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

LONG: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Multiple sclerosis, M.S. is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. It's most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged women. But this morning, I want to share with you the story of one young man who was diagnosed in his early 20s and who is now determine to help educate a younger generation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice over): Noah Shebib doesn't miss a beat or a chance to perform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am your best friend, remember?

GUPTA: His life in showbiz began on TV as a child actor, including an episode of TV's "Goose Bumps" and the cult classic film, "The Virgin Suicides."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you she had a capped tooth.

GUPTA: But by his teenaged years, it was music that proved to be Noah's true calling.

NOAH SHEBIB, MUSIC PRODUCER: Everyone in the studio fell asleep and would make up in the morning and I would still be sitting in front of the computer. They started calling me "40 days and 40 nights" because I didn't sleep.

GUPTA: As a go-to sound engineer in Toronto, 40 soon attracted the attention of hip-hop up-and-comer Drake -- now a Grammy-nominated recording artist.

SHEBIB: We worked together for a couple days in the studio, I think. I charged him a little bit of money. And then by the third day, we sort of agreed that we were going to take over the world together.

GUPTA: Then a monumental setback, 40 found himself celebrating his 22nd birthday in the hospital.

SHEBIB: I woke up one day and all the temperature in my body was distorted. The sense of hot and cold and what it meant to my brain was very confusing thing. For your body in general, to understand what's going on, you go on a little bit of shock.

GUPTA: The diagnosis, multiple sclerosis -- 40 spent the next two years trying to get back on his feet.

SHEBIB: I think one of the biggest struggles anybody with M.S. has is trying to define it to people and to explain how to manifest itself. And this morning, for instance, I have to lie down on my bed to get my socks on because I couldn't bend over.

TEDDE MOORE, NOAH'S MOTHER: He's really carry sofas on his back and stuff like that to their person who couldn't walk, like that was such mind boggling.

Noah's mom Tedde remembers the advice she gave him.

MOORE: You can be a person with M.S. who doesn't fulfill his dreams or you can be a person with M.S. that fulfills his dreams.

GUPTA: Two years later another setback for the Shebib family, Noah's mom was also diagnosed with M.S., which is not directly inherited.

SHEBIB: I've got this disease. I'm going to live with it and I'm going to win with it, and my story is going to be that much better when I get there.

GUPTA: Today, he is there. Right there on a massive electronic billboard in New York City's Times Square. He is in a campaign for the National M.S. Society.

SHEBIB: M.S kills connections, connections kill M.S. That's the whole point. I mean, all we can do is connect and create a network or community to help each other, you know? Because we don't have the answers to what the cures is or how it's going to get better.

GUPTA: That's why 40 is sharing his story.

SHEBIB: These are things that I enjoy. I like these challenges. They maybe get a little bit more difficult because of my disease. But as long as I'm on my feet, I will continue to run until somebody stops me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Such an inspiring young guy. By the way, if you thought his mom looked familiar as well, you are right. You might recognize her better was Ralphie's teacher, Ms. Shields, in classic "A Christmas Story."

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

GUPTA: Don't shoot your eye out, kid. Remember that?

You know, check out this roadside signage at Boston marathon, which is this week. High heat warning there, slow pace, walk. The temperature was 87 degrees, about 30 degrees higher than normal. Heat like that, as you know, it's so crucial to hydrate.

So for "Chasing Life" this week, the question that I get all the time, how much water should you be drinking normally? I want to give you an easy way to sort of figure this out. Take your body weight, divide it in half, and then drink that many ounces throughout a day.

So, I weigh about 160 pounds, I shot for at least 80 ounces a day, about cups. So, I'm drinking water all the time.

That's going to wrap things up for us this morning. Stay connected with me at CNN.com/Sanjay, on Twitter @SanjayGuptaCNN. Make an appointment. Come back and see us next week and right here on CNN.

Time now though to get you a check of your top stories with Randi Kaye and "THE CNN NEWSROOM."