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Police Investigate Possible Afghan Terror Cell in New York; President Obama and Race; Retailers Trying to Find Ways to Lure Buyers; Driving Drunk and Naked; China Ready to Provide H1N1 Vaccine

Aired September 16, 2009 - 14:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CENTER: And we're pushing forward, all the way to the Denver suburbs. CNN has spoken to the lawyer for an airport shuttle driver, who drove to New York from Colorado in the days before the raid, and stayed in one of the raided apartments.

Drew Griggin, of our Special Investigations Unit, picks up the story from there.

And this is a big one.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a big one and it is important to say, this is ongoing, Fred, and there's a lot of circumstances here that we can't really explain.

I want to show you 24-year-old Nazhibullah Zazi, who goes by the name of Nazh or Nazhi. This is at his apartment yesterday in a Denver suburb, it's Aurora. He's a shuttle limousine worker in the Denver area, and through his attorney, he tells us that he was in New York recently, did stay at one of the apartments raided earlier this week by the New York's Joint Terrorism Task Force, and according to his attorney, Zazi had driven from Denver to New York in a rental car.

Now, while he was there, he was actually stopped by the NYPD on the George Washington Bridge in what Zazi described as a random drug stop -- at least that's what the NYPD told him. He was released without even getting a ticket.

Later, in this same trip to New York in a rental car -- that rental car was towed, supposedly for parking violations, and while impounded, the NYPD asked him for his consent to search the car and then they asked for a search of the laptop computer inside. He said, yes, to both. And the attorney says the car and the laptop were both returned.

Now Zazi's attorney's named is Arthur Folsom. He says he doesn't know why his client drove a rental car to New York and then flew back to Denver. Folsom says Zazi told him he'd gone to New York to sort out a business issue. And there was staying with friends, whose home was later searched. Now speaking to our affiliate KUSA in Denver, the attorney insists Zazi has nothing to do with this.


ARTHUR FOLSOM, NAJIBULLAH ZAZI'S ATTORNEY: The main thing he wants people to understand is that he had absolutely nothing to do with this. He loves this country. He loves living here. That's why he brought his family over here. He's eager to cooperate with any questions that anyone might have, from the federal government, from state authorities. We eager to cooperate with them, if they have any questions, they should certainly contact us. We want to clear any aura of suspicion that maybe surrounding his name at this point.


GRIFFIN: According to sources close to the investigation, Fred, New York police raided several apartments in the Queens area, acting on suspicion that a cell of Afghan nationals -and that was odd, the first time they had ever seen this - Afghan nationals were planning some kind of terrorist strike in the New York area. The alleged cell under surveillance. Now a source close to the investigation is telling us there's growing concern that police may have actually jumped the gun on this one, and that's what's going on here.

A source is telling us no bomb making material, or bomb devices have been found, no arrests made yet. The case still very active including this possible connection to the Denver area. Sources close to the investigation say more resources are actually being sent to the New York area right now to be involved in this case.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Trying to flush out what went wrong, or if there's anything still at issue, what might it be?

GRIFFIN: What we can tell you that this is still an active terrorism investigation. Whether or not the case was blown is another part of that investigation.


GRIFFIN: But there is still active investigation going on of what was supposedly a terrorist cell.

WHITFIELD: So we'll be seeing you again, then?


WHITFIELD: Drew Griffin, appreciate it.

Some new developments to tell you about in the Yale murder investigation. Just last hour, the Connecticut medical examiner released Annie Le's cause of death. The 24-year-old grad student was strangled. Also today New Haven police releasing a man they called a person of interest in the case. Raymond Clark is a lab technician at Yale. He works in the lab building where Le disappeared and where her body was found stuffed behind a wall.

Investigators brought him in last night for questioning and he also gave a DNA sample. However, he has not been charged. And again, he was released.

New Haven police hold another briefing on this case shortly. It is scheduled to start in the next hour. And we'll bring that to you live, as it happens.

Searching for more secrets at the home of Philip Garrido; an investigation that seems to grow by the day. Teams from two police departments are back at it today searching every inch of the California property, where the convicted sex offender allegedly held and raped Jaycee Dugard.

This new round of searches isn't related to her, Dugard's 1991 abduction, but to two others from the same time frame. Teams looking for any signs of two girls who were kidnapped in 1988, and also in 1989. Police say the circumstances of both those crimes are very similar to the Dugard case.

And now to Capitol Hill and the long-awaited unveiling of the one and only health care reform bill that aims for bipartisan support. The keyword here, being "aims". So far it does not enjoy a GOP support. Even among the three Republican senators who actually helped write it. But as you saw in CNN live, just last hour, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus predicts that many of his plan's critics, in both parties, will come around.


SEN. MAX BAUCUS, (D) CHAIRMAN, SENATE FINANCE CMTE.: But at the end of the day, we all share a common purpose, that is, to make the lives of Americans better tomorrow than they are today. And to get health care reform done, which means the time to come for action is now. And we will act. We will act and pass health reform legislation this year.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Brianna Keilar joins me now, with the push forward process on this, Brianna, let's hit some of the highlights of the Baucus bill.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I just want to show it to you, actually, this is the Baucus plan, 223 pages, it's not legislative language. This is basically a very detailed summary of what the committee's going to move forward with.

But the headline here, Fredricka, no government-run insurance plan, as expected. Instead, to compete against health insurance companies, this plan here includes nonprofit health care cooperatives, run by the patients, who are really governed by the patients, who it would serve.

Also the price tag $865 billion over the course of 10 years. There are protections in this against current insurance industry practices of denying coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition. Of capping coverage for individuals, of a dollar amount for either the year or over their life time.

There's also this individual mandate, if you are an individual person as we are, you would be required to get health insurance if you don't already have it. So for low-income Americans, they would will covered by Medicaid, at a certain level, and then as you move up a little bit in the income scale, all the way up to some in the middle class, you would get a tax break to make it cheaper to buy health insurance. If you don't buy health insurance you're looking at a fee, up to $950 for an individual, up to, as much as $3,800 for a family, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: YOU know, what's interesting here, Brianna, Max Baucus says this was months in the making. And so you've got three Republicans, three Democrats, that are part of crafting this, however, thus far we're hearing that three Republicans may not be on board. So what are the chances that there might be other Republicans who could be swayed, even though these Republicans are not, right now, on board?

KEILAR: Thus far those three Republicans, on the Gang of Six, from the Senate Finance Committee, are not on board. They say there's still outstanding issues. But that doesn't necessarily mean they might not get on board. They could. There's still time. They say they're not moving away from the table. And it's really going to be these three Republicans, Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Enzi, Senator Grassley. Really, a few of just a handful that we're really keeping out eye on to see if maybe they would support this.

Because the understanding is there aren't -this isn't going to enjoy - this plan here, even though it doesn't include the public option, very different from all the other Democratic sponsored bills, on Capitol Hill, even though doesn't include the public option, it's not expected to enjoy huge Republican support by any stretch of the imagination. This is about getting, they have to get at least one Republican, Fredricka and I think the goals are pretty modest at this point.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right, Brianna Keilar, Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

And of course if you want to read the Baucus proposal for yourself, find a comfy chair and get your browser, and send it to

And ahead in the NEWSROOM, CNN's Gerri Willis looks at what health reform may mean for the health of your family finances.

And the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, both known to any U.S. president. But for a while last hour, at the White House, President and Mrs. Obama set aside politics to focus on sports, specifically U.S. Olympians and Para-Olympians and Chicago's bid to host the 2016 summer games.

OK, so maybe there was a little bit of politics involved. The first lady, a Chicago native, plans to be in Copenhagen next month when the IOC chooses between Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

All right. More sporting news, or perhaps, less sporting, this was supposed to be Serena Williams' book tour, but instead it's become an apology tour, after televised tirade this weekend at the U.S. Open. Today on CNN's "American Morning," Williams offered another mea culpa.


SERENA WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: Well, yeah, like I said, everyone has things that they do and everyone has moments, no one is perfect. And everyone could see that when I played at the U.S. Open, everybody kind of sees me as a little bit like a robot, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to write "On The Line", because it talks a lot about my faults and a lot about how I kind of fell from grace, so to say. How I moved from number one in the world to almost 200 in the whole world, and that whole fight that I had to do to come back.


WHITFIELD: By the way, you can watch the full interview on CNN's "Your $$$$", Saturday afternoon, 1:00 o'clock Eastern, and an encore presentation Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

All right. Serena and musician Kanye West join a literal who's who of public apologists and some are more memorable than others. Let's hit the refresh button for a second look and listen.


JIM MCGREEVEY, FMR. GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: It was wrong. It was foolish. It was inexcusable. And for this I ask the forgiveness and the grace of my wife.

ELIOT SPITZER, FMR. GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: I apologize to the public, whom I promised better.

GOV. MARK SANFORD, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I want to apologize to my staff, and I want to apologize to anybody who lives in South Carolina for the way that I let them down on that front.

LARRY CRAIG, FMR. SENATOR, IDAHO: I am not gay, I never have been gay.

HUGH GRANT, ACTOR: I keep reading new, you know, psychological theories and stuff like that.

SANFORD: I wanted generally to apologize to every one of you all, for letting you down.

GRANT: I was under pressure, whether I was overtired, or I was lonely, or I fell down the stairs when I was a child, or whatever, I don't know.

JOHN EDWARDS, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 2006, two years ago, I made a very serious mistake.

MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR, COMEDIAN: I'm really busted up over this and I'm very, very sorry.

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact it was wrong.

GRANT: I think you know in life, pretty much, what's a good thing to do, and what's a bad thing. And I did a bad thing. And there you have it.


All right, racism a constant looming specter in the Obama administration. Former President Jimmy Carter says racism may have triggered Congressman Joseph Wilson's "You lie!" shout out against the president. We're pushing ahead on the issue. And we want to know if these are isolated incidents, or the start of a disturbing and growing trend. I'll speak with anti-racist writer and activist Tim Wise, you'll want to hear what he has to say.


WHITFIELD: All right, first it was the Burr Oaks Cemetery near Chicago. Now it's Eden Memorial Park in Los Angeles that's under scrutiny. CNN"s Special Investigation Unit is digging into allegations that graves that may have been intentionally torn up and body parts scattered at one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in area. Here now, is Abbie Boudreau.


ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This long-time former employee Mateo Ruelas Garcia says he was told to break concrete burial vaults to make room for new ones at Eden Memorial Park. He tells CNN just what he would throw away.

MATEO RUELAS GARCIA, FORM CEMETERY EMPLOYEE: Sometimes it would be a little piece of bone, bones from the next person, put in the dump and trash, away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes skulls?


BOUDREAU: Garcia explains how a salesman would tell him to break the vaults in secret.

GARCIA: We would go like this and look, and say, break this piece, break this piece. And I would tell him, you're not supposed to break it. He would say, go ahead, nobody can see. Go ahead and do that.

BOUDREAU: Using a backhoe, Garcia says he and other workers would break through the cement vaults.

GARCIA: I just break one piece for the cement, for the person, right there. Just a piece of cement, the body inside. We see the person because we broke it.

BOUDREAU: Garcia says he would take the remains to a large dirt hole at the cemetery, where nobody could see what was going on.

GARCIA: When the peoples go there, families are around, you know? We stop. Because the office say, stop, guys, when you see somebody coming. No do nothing.

BOUDREAU: Similar allegations are made in a lawsuit filed against Eden Memorial and its owner Service Corporation International. They include claims of secretly breaking and opening buried caskets, and dumping human remains, and selling burial plots without actually having the space, all to make more money.

Garcia says breaking up the burial plots was common practice for the last 10 of the 28 years he worked at Eden Memorial. He was fired in 2008. He says he wasn't given a reason. A Service Corporation International spokesperson says he was fired for cause, but declined to give details.

In a statement, the company says "allegations against Eden Memorial Park have surfaced as a result of a recently filed class-action lawsuit. While very salacious, these allegations are just that, allegations."

It says, "Eden Memorial conducts extensive training with its employees and we support that with strict policies and procedures."

Garcia says he was only doing what he was told by supervisors.

GARCIA: No matter what happened in there, bones and everything, you guys go ahead and do the job. They pay me, I'm working . I do anything they told me.


BOUDREAU: A spokesman for California's Cemetery and Funeral Bureau says the agency will look into the allegations raised in the lawsuit. The cemetery got a warning letter last year after the state found that five graves had been disturbed, but there was no evidence that it was done intentionally in those cases.

WHITFIELD: And so why would he come forward now?

BOUDREAU: I know, it's interesting to like actually hear from someone who has done something like this. He came forward because the lawyers in this lawsuit actually found him and he thought it was important to tell his story. That's why he came forward. We asked ourselves why didn't he come forward a long time ago with this kind of information, but he said, I didn't want to lose my job. I was told what to do and I was just doing my job.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And now that he has spoken, he doesn't fear there's any retribution for doing it?

BOUDREAU: That, I'm not sure about. I don't know. I don't know what he thinks about that, but that was his story.

WHITFIELD: Very good, very creepy, too.


WHITFIELD: Abbie Boudreau, thanks so much. I appreciate that.

Now an update on the Burr Oaks Cemetery outside Chicago, now back in control of its owners. A court appointed receiver apparently had to return the cemetery to Perpetua Holdings, after Perpetua filed for bankruptcy protection earlier in the week. Perpetua is the subject of numerous lawsuits after four cemetery employees were arrested and charged in a plot resale scheme. The four face felony charges accused of digging up an estimated 300 graves.

A look at our top stories right now.

So-called final results are in from Afghanistan's disputed presidential election, but it could be a while before the issue is truly settled. The results show President Hamid Karzai got more than 54 percent of the votes, but the numbers won't be certified until the electoral complaints commission investigates fraud allegations. The European Union election observers says they found 1.5 million suspicious votes. Karzai called that claim "irresponsible".

An explosion of violence along the U.S.-Mexican border. This year's drug related killings in Juarez have already passed last year's numbers; more than 1,600 deaths so far in 2009, including 12 just yesterday. As a result Mexican troops are patrolling the city to deal with the cartel turf war. Juarez is across the border from El Paso, Texas.

And a Virginia judge has set November 10 as the execution date for D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammed. He and Lee Boyd Malvo were convicted in the attacks on the Washington area that killed 10 people back in 2002. Prosecutors called Muhammed the mastermind. Malvo is serving a life sentence.

And get ready for a new whodunit in a city that wreaks of conspiracy theories. Odd symbols, old churches, a Freemasons Temple. Just some of the clues in Di Vinci Code author, Dan Brown's new book. And seeing them for yourself won't mean a trip overseas.


WHITFIELD: Enduring symbols of Washington, but they are also clues to a centuries-old conspiracy. Dan Brown is out with a new book, "The Lost Symbol" and it takes amateur cryptologists on a new hunt following the markings of the Freemasons through our nation's capital. Here now is our Elaine Quijano.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the actual room, and the ceremonial altar where the startling ritual in the opening scene of Dan Brown's new book "The Lost Symbol", takes place. A secret initiation ceremony inside a building that Freemasons of the Scottish Rite call the House of the Temple. But Grand Historian Arturo De Hoyos says, in this case truth is definitely more boring that fiction.

ARTURO DE HOYOS, GRAND HISTORIAN, SCOTTISH RIGHT OF FREEMASONRY: He has his candidate drinking wine out of the human skull.

QUIJANO (On camera): That doesn't take place here?

DE HOYOS: I've never seen it. QUIJANO: Any wine drinking at all?

DE HOYOS: Not that I'm familiar with.

QUIJANO (voice over): De Hoyos says this is a formal meeting room where ceremonies do take place. But he explained Freemasonry is not a secret sinister society.

DE HOYOS: Freemasonry is simply the world's oldest and largest fraternity.

QUIJANO: After all, George Washington, the most famous Freemason was wearing the ceremonial apron when laying the corner stone of the capitol. Still, in a town where conspiracy theories flourish, even the book's arrival was shrouded in some mystery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty serious stuff, state secrets.

QUIJANO: Washington's tourism bureau is fully embracing the novel and all the attention.

ANNOUNCER: Right in Washington, D.C. ...

QUIJANO: Even partnering with the publisher to market the book and city with this video.

ANNOUNCER: Discover powerful connections as a D.C. insider, plan your trip to the nation's capital at

QUIJANO: Elliott Ferguson is president of Destination D.C.

ELLIOTT FERGUSON, PRESIDENT, DESTINATION. D.C.: I think the book exposes its readers to a different perspective of Washington, D.C. Going into the neighborhoods itself, also exposing them to the U.S. Botanical Gardens and the Temple on 16th Street.

QUIJANO: As for the Scottish Rite, Arturo De Hoyos is still reading the novel, but says so far, no harm, no foul.

DE HOYOS: As long as people understand that it's a work of fiction, I think everybody will enjoy it.

QUIJANO (On camera): As for tourism, a local trolley company is now considering a tour based on the book. And officials here at the Masonic Temple, which gets thousands of visitors each year, say they wouldn't be surprised if the number of tourists jumps now that the book is out.

Elaine Quijano, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Yes, somebody else is always bringing us interesting images. Our own Chad Meyers, and you can actually, maybe even top that? CHAD MEYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I can show you what the book's talking about. I can actually go right in here. We'll take our Googler.

WHITFIELD: You're going to take us there, directly.

MEYERS: We'll take you right in here to this conspiracy that is going to go on in this book. Going to go all the way up our Dupont Circle, going to go back to the McPherson (ph) Square, and there you go, there's Washington, D.C., there is the White House.

Now, if you take, this is The Mall, The National Mall, if you take that and go around the capitol and back down, I think that's Maryland. You do get this little compass in the square right there that you're talking about.

But, you know, Fred, if you really use your imagination, if you go there, and then down here,

WHITFIELD: OK, Halloween now.

MEYERS: And then all of a sudden, you've got a lot going on in D.C., that you never thought of in Dan Brown's book.

WHITFIELD: And it's always so scary.


MEYERS: Exactly. So take it with -this is all of the places that Dan Brown is going to take you in this book. I don't know if you've ever read, "Angels and Demons", but my gosh, was so much better "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Da Vinci Code" got all the of the press.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and see, I loved "The Da Vinci Code", but I stopped there.

MEYERS: I did, too. "Angels and Demons" was great. The digital fortress, don't waste your time.


WHITFIELD: Protestors waving signs, equating President Obama to Nazi leaders. Critics say it's just one of many racist attacks against the nation's first black president. We'll get the view of anti-racist writer and activist Tim Wise.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: It's President Obama, the target of racist attacks. Former President Jimmy Carter says yes, he says racism is behind some of the opposition to the President and he says it was a factor in South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst last week when he yelled "you lie" during President Barack Obama's speech to congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That racism still exists and I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, that African Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.

WHITFIELD: Today the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele says Carter is flat out wrong. Steele is the RNC's first African American chair, he says the opposition is not about race, it's about policy. So pushing forward, how should the Obama administration handle race and politics, should they respond to protesters who compare President Obama to Hitler or just look the other way. My next guest says they're walking a fine line at the white house. Tim Wise here to speak from Nashville, he wrote between Barack and a hard place, "racism and white denial in the age of Obama." Good to see you Tim


WHITFIELD: Well, just looking at the title of your book, you saw this coming, or do you disagree?

WISE: You know, to some extent, I think the President has to walk a fine line, because any time you talk about race, we saw it in Cambridge with the skip race affair. He talks about race and people like Glenn Beck, he hates white people. So, I think we have to do is take the burden off of this President, and for those of us who are white to take the burden off of color generally. It's not just folks that covered we need to challenge races, its white folks as well.

WHITFIELD: You're saying someone needs to talk about it, but perhaps black people should refrain from it?

WISE: No, no, no, they should do it, take a look folks have color, they have to call it out. They were the ones historically who have been the truth parameters and detractors on this issue. What I'm saying is that those of us who are white also have to take some of that burden because historically we know that when people of color have called out racism, even in the early 60's most whites according to Gallo Post (ph) would not believe them. So we have to join in solidarity and alley ship (ph) and make it an issue for us as well.

WHITFIELD: So President Carter latest comments offers what in an argument whether it's about race, is it about policy? We're hearing from the RNC Michael Steel says it's not race it's policy. But when you have former President Jimmy Carter now chiming in, does it now make people listen whereas before their ears may have been closed?

WISE: Well, it might, but you know, other white folks who are not former President or politically connected need to also do it. The reality is it's not just race, Michael Steele's right about that, but when you have folks like Mark Williams one of the key organizers of the T Party (ph) movement calling the President and Indonesian Muslim and welfare thug on his blog, those are racially loaded terms, the research says that when white Americans for example hear the term welfare, for the majority of us it conjures of a negative notation regarding blacks. So, I think its incumbent upon Michael Steels and others to call out that kind of redirect of they expect to be taken seriously when they argue its isn't about race. WHITFIELD: Let's talk about the white house and how it reportedly is internally trying to figure out how in which to deal with this. Because we are talking about the white house being the centerpiece of all that is taking place. What do you suppose members of the white house are trying to consider right now and how to move forward with this issue, yes, the President already spoke about race, we talk about the professor gates incident, you talked about it as a candidate. But now what?

WISE: Well, look, the President has to stay focused on governing the country, he has to obviously talk about issues of health care and that's on his agenda, and it should be on all of our agenda, but for those of us who think that racism is serious and needs to be addressed. It is always been the case that the grass green folks (ph) has to lead the way. No President, whether they are white, black, brown, or otherwise can be expected to lead on this issue unless the people are challenging and pushing forward. So, we have to be racing it we have to challenge our friends, our colleagues, our families members, our neighbors when racism is expressed and start to do that and people will not feel emboldened to make some of the really blamed racist comments about the President that they've been making.

WHITFIELD: So you almost sound that you're also saying that there's a greater danger the white house to address this, for President Barrack Obama to address this.

WISE: Well, in theory he should be able to address it but unfortunately in this country, when people of color try to raise this issue and talk about it, there is a defensiveness that comes from white folks as happened with the skip gates affair. I need to say that the president hates white people just because he criticized a white officer is nonsense, but that's what millions of people heard when Glenn Beck made that argument, so its obvious he can't do it alone.

WHITFIELD: Do you see all of this is stemming from fear, if so, fear of what?

WISE: Well, there's fear, there's anxiety, I mean I think for a lot of white folks, the image being around the country right now by having a President of color, as to what in American is being challenge, historically those of this were white, it could take for granted that we were the prototype of normality that we were the prototypical American and right now I think there are folks that are not comfortable with a multicultural America and that's too bad because that's the country we have.

WHITFIELD: Are you saying, we're hearing that when we hear whether the town hall meetings or maybe other arenas when hear take back our country and this is not the America of founding fathers. Is that the cold language of this fear?


WISE: For some it certainly is, when you say you want to go back to the country the way the founders envisioned it you cannot separate the good part of the founders from the bad part, that was there and we have to address that.

WHITFIELD: Tim Wise, thank you so much, author of Between Barack and the hard place racist and white denial in the age of Obama. Thank you for your time in Nashville.

Well, if you are like most people, you care less about the health care bills in congress than about the health care bills you actually get from insurance companies, doctors and hospitals. And that brings us to CNN Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis. So, Gerri, good to see you, let's start with the overhaul plan made public today by the head of the senate finance committee.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Right and it's entirely complicated, so let's take a look at some of the elements in this proposal. First, people would be required to have health insurance, those lacking coverage could be fined up to $3,800 for middle class families. It would provide tax credits to lower income families so they can afford to purchase health insurance and the plan would also create health web page (ph) insurance exchanges. So individuals can sign up for insurance more easily. It would also increase Medicare and putting national standard on Medicare eligibility since right now there is no national standard, it's up to each state, and it drop the public option probation and allow for the establishment of nonprofit health care cooperatives.

WHITFIELD: All right and what about these cooperatives, what more can you tell us about those?

WILLIS: You know, you've heard about cooperatives, agricultural cooperatives, electrical cooperatives even credit unions and there are already health care cooperatives existing in places like Seattle and Minneapolis. Call up as non profits organizations, they say they can coverage with a lower cost by their members profits are back into the systems system so any money that's earned is used on patients and other costs and patients in these co-ops really one the whole thing, they run the board, they hold elections and discuss issues and concerns.

WHITFIELD: And how could life change for people in a co-op?

WILLIS: Well, for patients, co-ops work just like private insurance, there are premiums and co-pays and just like an HMO. Most release by doctor in a network help care in a co-op could be cheaper than private insurance but it's not necessarily always less expensive. Really it depends on the competition in your marketplace. Group health cooperative, that's the company in Washington. This is one of the last surviving co-ops in Washington and while premiums and group health increased by a slower rate compared to their competitors, they still have significant increases, up to 12.3% since 2000. One of the highest starts up co-ops is creating a fairly large network of doctors. So the doctor you use originally would not be the one you would use in a co-op. And it's going to take a long time for this bill to go into effect. It doesn't take effect until 2014. So that's a very long time. That's a long time, Fredricka, we have a long way to wait even if this becomes law.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks, Gerri we can always depend on to you break it down. And more on how grad opportunity Annie Lee was killed. She was strangled, her body stuffed behind a lab wall. Meantime investigators have collected samples DNA sample from a lab technician, Raymond Clark, he has not been charged with anything, but he was picked up and questioned by police last night.

And nine American airlines employees are among 23 people arrested as federal agents break up an alleged drug smuggling ring. They are accused of bringing in more than 9 tons of drugs into the U.S. and Puerto Rico over the past decade. Investigators say package say Pakistan (ph) and other members of the ground troop carry two cases with drugs.

And you can find just about everything at the airport these days, including a shot for the seasonal flu. Several kiosks had been set up at Atlanta's Hartsfield airport, the vaccine it will be weeks before the swine flu vaccine can be ready. But it will be eventually be available for travelers at the airport kiosks as well.


WHITFIELD: A report out this week shows that consumers are buying things that aren't absolute necessities. But retailer says it's still a very steep challenge to figure out what consumers want and buy accordingly. Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange with more enhance retailer were actually adopting.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE: Hi, you know retailers like virtually all companies in all the sectors are trying to cut costs dramatically. So, a lot of retailers are reducing inventories right so they won't have to mark down as much. But you're also seeing more store closings. Toys R Us is opening 350 stores. Here's the rub, these are temporary stores right, you're going to see what they called popup stores. They're only for the holiday season. What Toys R Us is doing is taking advantage of all that vacant mall space.

There's a whole lot of it. So they get this real estate cheap, at their most critical time, right. And then they can just go away and hopefully make a lot of money because then they don't have to keep those operational. Blockbuster, on the other hand, it's going to close hundreds of stores by the end of next year. What blockbuster is embracing is thousands of DVD rental kiosks. It's going to have 10,000 of them. That's the goal anyway, there are only 500 of them now. You think of them basically as, you know just like vending machines, Red Boxes, a small competitor who has these and rents movies for $1, which is certainly recession friendly and this business model here is so much better because you don't have the overhead of the brick and mortar store right, you don't have to pay, you just have this bending machine and then let the supermarket and let them carry the rest of costs, yes, some of this tips here.

WHITFIELD: All right, and in times like these, it also means a lot of luxuries are being hit hard but then again, there are a lot of luxuries you can't live without.

LISOVICZ: Well, I think Fredricka this is very debatable, it's relative to the consumer as to what is a must have and what is a luxury. If you look at Apple's success, Apple is in a space all by itself, its muck (ph) books, its ipod, its iphones continue to gain market share even during recession. What Apple does is always trying to top itself with the next generation item in a big theatrical way. I mean, last week for instance, we had Steve Jobs, that was huge and enough itself but Steve Jobs unveiled ipod that were faster, had more storage, had more colors, than having the cameras. It's a great flair for the dramatic. And these stores that they does have, fewer say a blockbuster Toys R Us but this stores going in an Apple store it's an experience right? Actually you've been too. WHITFIELD: It was beautiful.

LISOVIZC: Beautiful, I mean, visually they're arresting and there's a whole sort of scene that goes with it fan base is....

WHITFIELD: Yes, they're competing over, you know, a little face time with something new or getting their hands on something new.

LISOVIZC: That's right, I mean it's a real event of people you know, they clog the internet for months as to what the next Apple offering will be. And that is a real accomplishment, especially in times like these.

WHITFIELD: Okay, all right, cool stuff. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

LISOVIZC: You're welcome Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, so the difference between gratuity and gratuitous. One way to find out the hard way after calling our costumers child a little well, you know, the rest of it.


WHITFIELD: Okay, being drunk is not always a crime. Being naked, not always a crime but put them together you got a problem especially on the highway. Take a look at this, right here. Dash cam video from Marion County, Florida, the big blur on the left side is the naked drunk guy. The guy on the right hysterically, well he is, believe me, he is the arresting officer. Thankfully, he says this is a first for him unfortunately for the naked friend there the bike, it's his fifth DUI arrest.

And another, unusual drunken driving bus in Milwaukee, this guy had close, well it was a vehicle that caught our attention. It was a motorized scooter right there. Apparently this guy was on this three wheeled vehicle and he had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit and this was his fifth DUI arrest as well.

And finally, a British waiter is looking for work after adding a little something extra to a family's dinner tab, an expletive (ph). Aim that the couples 2 year old daughter, here's the cheque of that Kreg and Kimberly Carton (ph) eligibly received a cocktail juice restaurant at the last line, thank you little something, you can figure out the rest because I'm not going to say that. The very apologetic restaurant says the employee has been fired. Molly's parents say their daughter was a bit peeved with the service, but she did nothing to deserve such a tip-in that form from the waiter.

As always team Sanchez is right around the corner working hard in the newsroom. Good to see you Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, always good to see you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Always good to see you too. What's going on?

SANCHEZ: I'm just sitting here writing a list, because I knew you were going to ask me this, so I'm going over a couple of things. I'm thinking Blagojevich is huge, because he's got a bombshell. I do an interview with him and he tells me, and he's convinced that the feds, as in Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in Chicago pressured Chris, his assistant to commit suicide. I mean that's a hell of a charge. That's a heck of a thing to say about a standing federal prosecutor and Blagojevich told me this, he told "the Washington post" this and he's been saying it in several interviews, I'm going to let you listen to what Blagojevich says about his former funding advisor. And we have also got calls obviously to Fitzgerald, the prosecutor to get his reaction on all of this.

Let's talk A.C.O.R.N., we're over this story as well, it's a complicated story, but look, the bottom line is if you're caught on tape doing something that's unethical and really almost illegal, you got to be called on it and we're going to be calling them on it during this hour. We're going to be all over that and the latest on some fund raising guys and how much money they've got.

WHITFIELD: We're going to be tuning in.

SANCHEZ: I'm passionate about this stuff.

WHITFIELD: I know, all right Rick, we're glad about that, see you soon from New York.

All right, every nation is rising against the clock to protect people from the swine flu, you might be surprised to learn which country could be the first to vaccinate for swine flu, here's the hint, it's not the U.S.


WHITFIELD: China may become the first country in the world to mass inoculate at citizens against the swine flu. A bio tech lab there was the first company successfully completes trials of the H1N1 vaccine.


EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a nation of 1.3 billion people, China has long warned an outbreak of H1N1 could be catastrophic. Now it's set to become the first country to provide mass inoculation, china produced the first successful H1N1 vaccine in the world and is producing millions of doses for the public. It's also the only company to produce vaccine SARS, the worldwide pandemic that left almost 350 people in China dead. The SARS vaccine helped us make the bird flu vaccine which helped us make the H1N1 vaccine, says the company's CEO that's why we were so fast and the first. Every day, tens of thousands of fertilized eggs are being infected with the H1N1 virus, the virus are later extracted and purified.

CHANG (on camera): And here is the final product, inside this vile is a vaccine for the H1N1 virus. Right now the vaccine is being bottled and labeled and boxed to be send across China as a fill government orders.

CHANG (off camera): The Chinese government has ordered almost 10 million vaccines some Zinovach (ph) and to others Chinese companies. It's approved for people aged 3 to 60. Priority to be given to children, soldiers, police, medical and transport staff. As with any vaccine, world health officials have warned of possible side effects and some Chinese are skeptical.

I don't think my baby will get the swine flu, so the vaccine seems unnecessary, says this mother. And what if it affects his health in the future. Still, health authorities have heavily publicized the virus's risks. This young patient seen with her doctor via video screen before crowds of journalists. They have also rolled out a traditional Chinese medicine prevention plan. China has taken perhaps the most extreme measures worldwide to prevent the virus's spread. Officials boarding international flights, checking passenger's temperatures before granting industry. Thousands have been quarantined including entire flights and school groups from around the world. Though no one from china has died from the flu yet, infections are accelerating, of 9,000 cases so far, more than half of them happened in the last few weeks.

VIVIAN TAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, CHINA: It's basically affected all provinces of China and we are worried because of the sheer numbers of people involved which could place a huge burden on the health care system.

CHANG: With flu season starting and school back in session, there's concern the virus could mutate or combine with other strains to create a super bug that could be extremely contagious or even deadly. Emily Chang, CNN Beijing.


WHITFIELD: I'm Fredericka Whitfield, Rick Sanchez is next.