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Global TB Alert; Life After Sheehan: Next Move for Anti-War Crowd
Aired May 30, 2007 - 06:58 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Catch me if you can. New details, how an American infected with a dangerous form of tuberculosis made a run for it overseas. The honeymoon he refused to skip, the government orders he ignored. Was he really a health threat?
Now the race to find fellow passengers he could have infected on this AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Good morning to you. It is Wednesday, May the 30th.
I'm John Roberts.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry.
Thanks for being with us this morning.
Some stories "On Our Radar".
We have new pictures just in within the last half hour of the parents of the missing British girl, the story that we've all been following, Madeleine McCann, meeting with Pope Benedict. He had wanted to meet with them. They had drawn heavily on their Catholic faith during this trying time for the family to get support, and so they wanted to meet the pope, show him the picture, have him touch the picture of Madeleine and pray for her safe return.
ROBERTS: Such a beautiful little girl.
CHETRY: She sure is.
ROBERTS: Some good news this morning. Those whales that we've been following for the last couple of weeks nearly home free now. A major push toward the Golden Gate Bridge overnight. Now they're just a couple of miles from the open ocean. Maybe they'll be out there later on this morning.
CHETRY: It's certainly looking good for them. And at least they're in the brackish water that's healing their wounds, their propeller wounds.
Also, Britney Spears, she's blogging -- that's what they do these days, the celebrities -- about her trip to rehab, about hitting rock bottom, and about what she really thinks her troubles are. It's certainly not alcohol and depression, she says.
And joining us to talk more about that this morning is Lola Ogunnaike.
Welcome, by the way, to the team.
LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you so much. I'm happy to be here.
CHETRY: You're going to be covering things like Britney, as well as the Michael Jackson memorabilia.
OGUNNAIKE: Yes, I've got the Britney, Lindsay, Michael Jackson memorabilia beat.
CHETRY: Do you get to cover any normal people?
OGUNNAIKE: Yes, actually. But just not this week.
CHETRY: Well, we are so thrilled that you're with us.
OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.
CHETRY: And we're going to check in with you a little later, Lola.
OGUNNAIKE: Can't wait.
ROBERTS: We're learning more this morning about the man who sparked a global health alert and why he traveled overseas, even after he was diagnosed with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis. He is now under the first U.S. government-ordered quarantine in decades. It's so serious, that there is an armed guard posted outside his hospital room door.
We talked to a reporter from the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" this morning who spoke with the patient yesterday. He had plans to get married and then honeymoon in Europe. So he flew from Atlanta to Paris. That was on May the 12th.
The Centers for Disease Control says when it learned that the tuberculosis was a dangerous, extremely drug-resistant strain -- XDS it's called -- it contacted him and his bride in Rome, telling him to turn himself in to Italian authorities, be isolated and treated there. Instead, in an attempt to evade the no-fly list that the CDC had put him on, he and his wife traveled to Prague, in the Czech Republic, flew to Montreal, and then drove back into the United States.
The search is on right now for international travelers who may have come in contact with him.
Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta picks up the story. He's live outside Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where the man is now being treated in isolation.
Any idea just how contagious this fellow might be, Sanjay, and how at risk the people that he traveled with on those airplanes might be?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it sounds like something out of a spy novel for sure, John.
What we are learning about with regards to his level of infectiousness, level of contagiousness, it appears to be low. And that's obviously not a number. People prefer something more definitive than that. But it appears to be low for a couple reasons.
The primary reason is it didn't seem that he was very sick. And this is a disease, this tuberculosis is a bacteria that is actually spread through the air.
So, someone coughs, someone sneezes, and the bacteria sort of hangs out in the air for a long time, and then someone else breathes it in. That's typically how it happens. But it doesn't appear that he was coughing.
He also had what's known as a sputum or smear test looking at whether or not he was actually having the bacteria on -- coming out of his breath. It didn't appear that it was, at least on that one particular test. So, those two things make it less likely that he was that contagious, but he was in an enclosed space for several hours, and that's why the concerns are so much there.
ROBERTS: Sanjay, how long do you think he's going to remain in isolation there?
GUPTA: You know, it's really hard to say, John. My guess is it might be quite a bit of time, a few weeks, if not a few months. Sometimes to treat what is known as XDR TB, it can take up to a couple of years to actually treat this.
Now, this particular gentleman has what's known as Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis. So, medications, typical medications, may not be an option for him at all, in which case he might need to have an operation to actually remove what we call the nitus (ph), the area of tuberculosis in his lungs, and then treat him with antibiotics to kill whatever leftover bacteria there are.
That would shorten his course of treatment. But we just don't know right now. I'm not sure the doctors know. They're still deliberating on the best course of action for him.
ROBERTS: Well, by any measure, it looks like he's going to be in the hospital for some time.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta outside of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
And coming up in about 30 minutes' time we're going to talk with Dr. Julie Gerberding. She is the head of the Centers for Disease Control. We'll try to straighten out what happened on her side of the story.
CHETRY: The parents of Madeleine McCann met with Pope Benedict XVI just within the half hour. They attended the general audience today and gave the pontiff a picture of Madeleine, asking him to pray for her safe return.
Madeline has been missing for almost four weeks. The 4-year-old was snatched from her hotel bed while vacationing with her family in Portugal. Her parents were eating dinner about 50 yards away when it happened. Gerry and Kate McCann are expected to be holding a press conference shortly.
ROBERTS: This morning President Bush has another loyal ally that he wants to run the World Bank. He is Robert Zoellick, the Goldman Sachs vice chairman and former deputy secretary of state, best known in the administration, though, as the U.S. trade representative. The World Bank will have to vote on Zoellick before the current president, Paul Wolfowitz, resigns on June 30th.
President Bush is expected to formally announce Zoellick's nomination. That will be in the Rose Garden this morning at 11:05 Eastern . And, of course, you can see that live right here on CNN.
Stepping up the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it would be a very big mistake if negotiators dropped their condition that Iran freeze nuclear work before talks begin on a package of incentives. She is in Europe for meetings that will include the European nations who are leading the stalled diplomacy.
CHETRY: Huge new protests in Venezuela this morning as Hugo Chavez targets the country's only remaining independent television station. Thousands of people marching to demand to keep Globovision on the air. Chavez is considering shutting it down, saying that it's trying to incite violence against him. Earlier this week, the government pulled the plug on RCTV, another opposition channel.
The U.S. State Department calls the crackdown an effort to limit freedom of expression.
ROBERTS: Well, back here at home, those wayward whales in California are finally homeward bound. Delta and Dawn are just a couple of miles away from the Pacific Ocean. Rescuers hope to keep them swimming straight, get them under the Golden Gate Bridge this morning. It has been two weeks since the whales wandered some 90 miles up the Sacramento River.
CHETRY: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's visit to New Hampshire started off on a sour note. While campaigning at a diner in downtown Dover, he ran into a local who apparently already made up his mind about his vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, sir. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am one person who will not vote for a Mormon.
ROMNEY: Oh, is that right? Can I shake your hand anyway?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Crotchety old man.
CHETRY: And if you could hear what he said, he said, "I'm one person who will not vote for a Mormon." And candidate Romney tried to still, you know, make amends...
ROBERTS: Described himself as a Hillary Clinton supporter, but the Hillary Clinton camp is saying, we don't want him on our side.
CHETRY: You've seen a lot of these campaigns. I mean, it must be hard for the candidates. They probably -- they do get that a lot, right? They get a lot of hecklers and people that, you k now, who ask them squirmy questions.
ROBERTS: Typically not in an intimate setting like that.
CHETRY: Really? He handled it well.
ROBERTS: He did.
CHETRY: All right.
ROBERTS: "Quick Hits" now.
A man in Miami really getting steamed over packets of chili sauce. He pulled a gun on the manager of a Wendy's when he was told he couldn't have more than 10 packets of the chili sauce. The manager -- that's him right there -- was hit in the arm by the bullet but appears to be doing well.
And some scary moments at Disney World yesterday. Five guests and an employee were hurt after a malfunction on a water ride at Animal Kingdom. Disney says one of the ride's sensors caused the ride to stop suddenly. The guests were hurt when the platform that they used to get off the ride slipped out from underneath them.
After being the face of the anti-war movement, Cindy Sheehan has given up, saying that she was upset with the Democrats. So, will Democrats turn their backs on their party?
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN. . (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHETRY: Some "Quick Hits" now.
Mideast violence continuing. An Israeli air strike today in northern Gaza killed two members of Hamas' military wing. Israel saying this morning that it will not let up on Palestinian militants who are firing rockets from Gaza into Israel.
Some progress in Iraq. Iraqi forces taking control of three more provinces today. They're now in charge of seven of Iraq's 18. Iraqi forces are also having some success against insurgents, capturing 30 since Saturday.
And Senator Joe Lieberman now in Baghdad. The Connecticut Independent Democrat's visit was unannounced, and it comes just weeks after Vice President Dick Cheney says that Lieberman has backed the U.S. war in Iraq -- John.
ROBERTS: Ten minute after the hour now.
This morning the anti-war movement is moving on without one of its strongest voices. Cindy Sheehan, who you will remember lost her son in Iraq, says she's stepping away from the spotlight. Sheehan blasting the Democrats, saying they had turned against her when she tried to hold them to the same standards that she held Republicans.
Sheehan told The Associate Press, "I've been wondering why I'm killing myself and wondering why the Democrats caved in to George Bush."
Eli Pariser is director of MoveOn.org, and he joins us now from Portland, Maine.
Good morning to you, Eli. Good to see you.
ELI PARISER, DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG: Good morning.
ROBERTS: So, Cindy Sheehan says that the Democratic Party betrayed the cause by capitulating to President Bush on this war funding bill. Did they?
PARISER: Well, yes. I think Democrats joined -- many Democrats joined most Republicans in obstructing the will of the American people. People saw the election last November as a mandate for Democrats to leave the country out of the mess in Iraq. And so far they haven't done that.
ROBERTS: So what does MoveOn.org do now? What do you do about the Democratic leaders who negotiated this bill, even though they refused to vote for it, and for those Democrats who did vote for it, both in the House and in the Senate?
PARISER: Well, I think we do two things. We -- you know, we organize. We put pressure on the Democrats to make them listen to the vast majority of their constituents and most people across the country who want this war to end.
We make sure that every time they come home they're hearing from constituents who want the war to end. And then we put pressure on the Republicans, because let's not forget, it's the Republicans when are obstructing the -- you know, who are obstructing the two-thirds vote we're going to need to override President Bush's veto.
ROBERTS: Right. So, how much pressure do you put on the Democrats? Of course, many people remember back to the 2006 election, where it was MoveOn.org that led the challenge to Senator Joe Lieberman. He was a supporter of the war, and it was MoveOn.org who led the charge to try to get him out of office.
PARISER: Well, that's right. We, you know, are not a party organization. We're an independent organization.
Our members feel very strongly about a responsible end to the war. And we focus on politicians, Democrats or Republicans, who are standing in the way of that.
Right now, you know, we're going to focus on the Democrats who voted yes, who gave Bush another blank check for this war. And we're going to focus on Republicans because, again, they are the people who are siding with President Bush and supporting his failed policy.
ROBERTS: Now, MoveOn.org was one of Cindy Sheehan's early supporters. She then turned against your organization as she moved further to the left, claiming that you're not anti-war enough.
Is there any validity to her charges?
PARISER: Well, you know, I think none of us could can really understand what it's like to be a mother who lost her son in this war. And I think, you know, in any war, but especially in a war that was as tragically mismanaged, as huge as a blunder as this one.
So, Cindy and MoveOn, you know, our members have had differences with her from time to time. I think she was a voice though at the beginning who spoke out when few other people would. And we're very thankful for that.
ROBERTS: Is MoveOn.org losing relevance? And I ask that question because you did target Senator Joe Lieberman in 2006. He won, despite your best efforts to unseat him. You led a campaign against this wartime supplemental and it got passed.
Do you still have the clout you used to have?
PARISER: You know, I think, you know, our members are more active and more powerful than they've ever been. You know, I think you saw that in the first round of the supplemental where the Democrats, with our support, sent a bill to President Bush that did have timelines and did have teeth to end the war.
ROBERTS: Right, but you lost, so how do you explain that? PARISER: I think you saw that in the 2006 elections. Well, you know, I think some of the Democrats are not on that page yet, but what we have is we have a majority of the public, a vast majority, not just Democrats, but Independents and Republicans, who feel this war is a terrible mistake, and who are working through MoveOn and through other organizations to make a correction. And with that kind of -- with that kind of political wind at our back, you know, I think you're going to see a change in the policy in the near future.
ROBERTS: All right. Well, we'll take a look and see if you can be effective on that front.
Eli Pariser joining us this morning.
Thanks very much.
PARISER: Thank you.
CHETRY: Fifteen minutes past the hour now. We check in with Chad Myers to see how weather is looking.
CHETRY: Well, some "Quick Hits" now.
Battling the global AIDS crisis.
President Bush expected to ask Congress today for $30 billion. That money will double the U.S.' current commitment and extend the AIDS fighting effort for at least five years after the president leaves office. The administration says that the increase will provide life-saving treatment to 2.5 million people.
Vice President Cheney wants to keep it secret who's visiting him. The vice president's office at the Naval Observatory in Washington said that records of visitors should be kept private under the Presidential Records Act. An activist group wants to know about what conservative religious leaders visit the vice president.
And Britney Spears says she hit rock bottom before rehab. That and more revelations from her own blog when we come back.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning here on CNN.
ROBERTS: Nineteen minutes now after the hour. And some "Quick Hits" for you this morning.
The 80th annual Scipps National Spelling Bee kicks off today in Washington, D.C. Two hundred and eighty-six young spellers from around the world are hoping to ace the competition, which wraps up on Thursday. A tip of the hat to the cat in Pennsylvania. Students at an elementary school in Chester County, Pennsylvania, dressed up in red and white to form a giant hat that goes along with the cat. It's to honor the 50th anniversary of Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat".
And a thriller of an auction in Las Vegas today. Costumes, gold records, other memorabilia belonging to Michael Jackson and the Jackson family will be sold to the highest bidders. Some of the proceeds are going to charity.
There will be a live auction both in Las Vegas, Kiran, and, as well, you can bid on eBay today. So you don't even have to be there to be able to get some of this fabulous stuff, like that lovely fedora there.
CHETRY: Yes, and those great boots.
They moonwalk themselves.
Well, Lindsay Lohan is waking up in rehab this morning after a rough Memorial Day weekend of car crashes, alleged cocaine possession. The 20-year-old actress' camp says that she has checked herself in.
Lindsay has got a lot of well-wishers, as well, though, including another young starlet who had her own share of troubles recently.
AMERICAN MORNING'S Lola Ogunnaike joins us now to talk more about -- it just seems like we're hearing about so many of these young stars that just can't seem to reel it in and get themselves under control.
OGUNNAIKE: It seems like they're unable to make the transition from childhood to adult. Yes. So, you've got, you know, Lindsay and Britney, and Paris going to prison. Yes. It seems like an epidemic of sorts right now.
CHETRY: And then you have them weighing in on each other's woes, which is the case this morning.
OGUNNAIKE: Which is so great. You have Britney Spears wishing Lindsay Lohan luck. We should listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: I just hope she's OK. I saw her car was messed up. And it's scary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She'll be all right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: There she is wishing her luck.
OGUNNAIKE: Of all people.
CHETRY: Right. Talking about her car.
And as I understand it, Britney also, who is really active on the Web -- she has her own site. She wrote a letter of sorts to her fans.
OGUNNAIKE: Yes, she did. And in the letter she's just trying to clarify what's been going on in her life in recent years, and she's feeling really misunderstood now. And she wants to make everyone understand that she's not a victim.
There was a quote here. She says -- let me find that. Yes, there it is. Thank you so much.
"Recently, I was sent to a very humbling place called rehab." Lindsay will be -- "she is already in that humbling place." "I truly hit rock bottom," is what Britney says. "Until this day, I don't think it was alcohol or depression. I was like a bad kid running around with ADD."
CHETRY: Yes. And once again, these are the pictures that are captured because of the cell phone cameras and the like of her wearing just a bra., appeared to be...
OGUNNAIKE: She's got the bra, the fishnet stockings, the whole thing. And you've got Lindsay, also, horrendous pictures out there with the hoodie, passed out in the car.
These images are not working for them, and they're obviously out there. And these girls, I think that, you know, Lindsay, especially, had a very interesting Memorial Day weekend. So, look up "downward spiral" in the dictionary and you will find her picture.
CHETRY: You'll see that picture.
CHETRY: Why do you think Britney decided to write this letter now? I mean, is she trying to stage some sort of comeback?
OGUNNAIKE: I absolutely think she is trying to stage a comeback. And she's really appealing to her fans.
She's wanting them to know that she's not a victim, that she's just a young girl and she's trying to find herself. And that give her time and respect her. But I actually have to say there was something really eerie during -- in the last part of her letter.
"I guess we will never really understand or figure out life completely. That's God's job. I can't wait to meet him or her."
That just sort of seems a little awkward.
CHETRY: You're right. It does sound a little strange, as if she wants to be somewhere else.
OGUNNAIKE: Yes. But, you know, she's also talking about getting back to a place where she was at peace when she was a kid and running around and just dancing and having fun.
So, she's definitely in an interesting point in her life. And we're all hoping that she finds some semblance of peace. Aren't we?
CHETRY: Yes. If we can stop talking about the fishnets for a while.
Lola Ogunnaike, thank you.
OGUNNAIKE: Or at least find better fashion, right?
ROBERTS: Twenty-four minutes after the hour now. Ali Velshi here "Minding Your Business".
And, you know, this is the first time in a long time we've been able to say this. It is becoming a buyer's market.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is. I mean, Kiran earlier said that we talk about housing prices being lower, but that's not bad for everybody. You're looking to buy a house -- we're actually showing that numbers from April are down. The price of a house this April is about $1,700 cheaper for a median than it was last April for the same period.
So we've all been talking about house prices going down. We know that that's affecting people. We know that gas prices are affecting people.
And yet, we saw the consumer confidence survey for May looking pretty positive, interestingly. People are feeling better than they were the previous month.
Why? Because the unemployment level is low. People are confident that they will have a job or get a job. Wages are ticking up, and the stock market, where people have their investments in many cases for their retirement, is doing pretty well. So, markets and jobs are trumping houses and gas.
Now, gas, you know, it's tough to do things about. You can conserve to some degree but you're kind of stuck with what you pay for gas and home energy.
What you can -- you know, what we have to think about is when we talk about home prices being lower, that only matters if you're buying and selling homes in different markets. So, if you're in New York and you sell your house and it's lower and you buy another house that's also lower, it's a bit of a wash.
So, the housing market is a big deal, particularly the construction market, because it employs a lot of people. But most people don't win or lose on a daily basis because of the housing market. You win or lose on your gas prices.
ROBERTS: Yes. And I'm sure that the housing market will come back up again.
VELSHI: Yes, most people believe it will.
ROBERTS: If the stock market keeps going up, it will.
ROBERTS: Thanks very much, Ali.
ROBERTS: Some "Quick Hits" now.
The top story on CNN.com this morning, a 25-year-old woman and her three daughters were found dead hanging in a closet in their home in Hudson Oaks, Texas. Amazingly, another child, an 8-month-old, survived the hanging. Police believe it was a murder-suicide because the doors were locked from the inside.
Also on the most popular list this morning, health officials looking for fellow passengers of a man infected with highly drug- resistant tuberculosis who took two overseas flights. Right after the break, we're going to talk with the director of the Centers for Disease Control about the dangers of this situation.
And still to come, the great gas gauge challenge is complete now. Greg Hunter has tallied up his receipts. He joins us live from Myrtle Beach to tell us if we should plan to drive or fly this summer.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning.
CHETRY: An international alert. An American infected with a highly contagious disease, tuberculosis, boarding two international flights. What about the risk to passengers? And why was he allowed to fly?
We're going to talk to the head of the Centers of Disease Control coming up in just a few minutes here on AMERICAN MORNING.
And welcome once again. Thanks for being with us.
I'm Kiran Chetry.
It is Wednesday, May 30th.
ROBERTS: And I'm John Roberts.
Good morning to you.
Also "On Our Radar" this morning, the gas gauge challenge. Greg Hunter has been driving from Columbus, Ohio, down to Myrtle Beach. He's now there. You saw him on the beach just a couple of seconds ago.
We're going to add up his travel expenses there and back to see if it's cheaper to drive or to fly on your next trip. And you know, the results are pretty surprising.
CHETRY: They sure are.
Also, incredible pictures from Minneapolis. It was a huge house fire that ended up trapping the firefighters inside. One of them, there he is, making a desperate leap toward the window, doing exactly what he was trained to do, and saving his own life, as well as the lives of others in the process.
We're going to show you more video of that fire and tell you what else happened.
Also, a global health alert this morning from the Centers for Disease Control. Health officials are scrambling to find people who may have flown with a Georgia man infected with a very rare form of tuberculosis. He took two transatlantic flights this month, one from Atlanta to Paris -- that was on Air France back on May 12th. Then one from Prague to Montreal on Czech Air. That one taking place on May 24th.
CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding joins us now from Atlanta with more on this story. When you read the details, especially his account in the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" today, it sounds pretty bizarre. First of all, he said no one forbid him, forbad him, told him, do not fly to Europe. Was that adequately communicated to this patient that he should not be flying?
DR. JULIE GERBERDING, CDC DIRECTOR: We give a lot of credit to the local health officials in Atlanta who really took on the responsibility of managing this very difficult situation. I think most people understand in the setting we usually rely on a covenant of trust to assume that a person with tuberculosis just isn't going to go into a situation where they would transmit disease to someone else. The patient really was told that he shouldn't fly.
CHETRY: So you're saying that you all were just relying on the hope that this patient would not fly?
GERBERDING: I don't think it's really hope and our experience over many, many years is that when people are given information about what risks they might present to those that they care about or to others, generally they do the things that would be the most likely to protect people, but when they don't, we do have to step in and issue our authorities in this case, the Federal order for isolation so that we could legally require the patient to be isolated from others.
CHETRY: You see, I understand you're talking about a difficult situation because, in fact, this is the first time in 40 years there has been a Federally issued ordered where a person is to be quarantined, if you will, because of an infectious disease. But he is claiming at least in this "Atlanta Journal Constitution" article that he was not even instructed to take precautions within his family members. He was, he was in communication with them, in constant contact with them and that he was never warned that he could pass it along to even people in his immediate family.
GERBERDING: When CDC became involved, I'm quite certain that the patient was advised that he posed a risk to other people and our information from the local health officials really reflects the situation where everyone was trying to do the right thing. They were trying to balance his own personal needs with those of our responsibility to protect the public's health.
CHETRY: So when was that, just to clarify? When did the CDC become involved in this case?
GERBERDING: The CDC activated its emergency response center when we learned that the patient was somewhere in Europe planning to come home on a commercial airline and at that point it seemed that we needed to step in, made every effort to try to reach him. Initially I think there was contact with the individual when he was in Italy and he was asked to go to the embassy and we were doing everything we could to try to find a way to get him home. In fact the irony is when we were no able longer to reach him, we were even preparing to send the CDC plane to Europe to bring him home at government expense.
CHETRY: Perhaps something got lost in the translation, though because he says he asked, OK, if I'm not supposed to be flying on any commercial flights, can that plane be brought to me? And he said he was told that because of funding, the CDC plane could not be taking him. Did something change?
GERBERDING: I don't think that that's an accurate description of what actually happened involving the CDC. This is one of the situations where things unfold and it was a holiday weekend here and in Europe, so it took some time to get all the pieces together. I think everyone was working very hard, including the health ministry in Italy, the World Health Organization and governments across Europe to do what we could to try to find a solution here. We haven't been in this situation for 40 years, so we kind of had to make up a plan as we went along. Fortunately, we were ultimately able to get the patient safely back to Atlanta. CDC did help him get home from New York and I think he is in isolation and now we're concentrating on how we can help him get the best possible medical care.
CHETRY: Let's ask about the other people that were possibly exposed. What is the risk to the people that were on these transAtlantic flights with this highly infectious person?
GERBERDING: There are three things we have to look at. First of all, the patient himself was probably not highly infectious. That's important, but it doesn't mean that there isn't any risk. The second thing is the fact that this is a deadly bacteria. At the time the patient left the United States, it wasn't known how serious the drug resistance was, but when we did learn that it was concerning that we take every step to protect peoples' health.
CHETRY: You're saying it's not highly infectious yet right now he's in isolation where even air in his room is not being pumped out into the general hospital area. So, how is it that he wasn't highly contagious on this plane?
GERBERDING: When people have tuberculosis, sometimes they have so many bacteria that you can really see the bacteria just under the microscope. In this case, the patient didn't have that many bacteria. We can culture the bacteria from his respiratory secretions, but it's not in high concentration. So the higher the concentration, the more infectious the person. That doesn't mean that he can't transmit, however. About 17 percent of cases of tuberculosis in this country are caused by people who have this lower infectious state. So not zero risk, but, fortunately, not the highest risk of exposure. What we have learned is that the passengers who were seated close to the person on an airplane could be at a risk and those are the people where the investigation will be concentrated. But just to be on the safe side because it's such a bad bacteria, we will be contacting the passengers on the long flights to make sure that they know they can be tested for tuberculosis exposure.
CHETRY: A difficult situation, no doubt. Hopefully this is the end of it and he'll be able to get treatment and not pass it on to anyone else. Dr. Julie Gerberding, the director for the Centers for Disease Control, thanks for giving us some input today about the situation.
GERBERDING: Thank you.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Thirty six minutes now after the hour, some quick hits for you now. Homeward bound, fingers crossed. We're keeping a close eye on San Francisco bay. Those two wayward whales are closing in on the golden gate bridge, could swim back out to sea some time this morning. We hope to have the pictures when they finally cross the line there.
It's scrambling to safety with just seconds to spare. Check out these firefighters diving head first out a window and then they put the ladder there to escape the flames that quickly engulfed a Minneapolis house. They said that they are trained to do the head first ladder dive for exactly this kind of worst case scenario. The fire started on the porch but then sudden quickly engulfed the house. No one was hurt in the fire, though. The home, a total loss.
We're tallying up the receipts this morning. Greg Hunter has made it to the beach in Myrtle wrapping up his gas gauge challenge, now soaking up a little bit of sun and relaxing after his arduous journey. How you doing Greg?
GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don't make me work, John. Don't make me work. Well, this is how I know that you have to have a vacation. Once you have the sun and the surf, you got to have it. But at these high gas prices, how are you going to get here? Are you going to drive? Are you going to fly? What's cheapest? We'll tell you when AMERICAN MORNING continues.
CHETRY: Holding out hope for Madeleine, some quick hits now. Kate and Jerry McCann (ph), devout Catholics meeting with Pope Benedict just a short time ago. They asked the pope to pray for Maddie's (ph) safe return. The four-year-old girl was snatched from her room almost a month ago while vacationing with her family in Portugal.
A command and control breakdown, that's what the LAPD says happened at the end of an immigration rally earlier this month. Police broke up the rally by firing rubber bullets and bean bags into the crowd, even hitting a "Times" reporter who was covering the story. They didn't make even one arrest.
Indictments yesterday in Texas for the two teens caught in this video encouraging a two and four-year-old to smoke pot. Two felony charges each for injury to a child. Police in Ft. Worth found the tape while they were investigating a burglary.
ROBERTS: Forty one minutes now after the hour and to the dramatic conclusion of Greg Hunter's gas gauge challenge. His three-day road trip began in Columbus, Ohio on Monday, 400 plus miles to Greensboro, North Carolina, then on to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. All told with a couple side trips around 700 miles. So with record high gas prices, would it have been cheaper to fly than to drive? Greg's live in Myrtle Beach this morning with the surprising results of this rather unscientific study. Hey Greg.
HUNTER: Hey, John, well, that's the big question, $3 gas, drive, fly, got to take that summer vacation. That's when we hit the road to find out.
HUNTER (voice-over): It was anything but a free ride on this road trip. We felt the pinch of those steep gas prices, starting with $3.37 per gallon in Columbus, Ohio, $2.95 in Whiteville, Virginia, $3.09 in Greensboro, North Carolina and $2.99 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Before setting out, we tried to cut costs, stocking up on drinks and other supplies spending more than 69 bucks on day one. Day two, we ate drive through for lunch and a cafeteria dinner, but our gas cost almost as much as our food. With hotel and other expenses, the day's total was more than $410. Some simple pleasures weren't costly at all. Like roadside strawberries and some were free like these majestic views of West Virginia and unusual monuments in North Carolina, a state famous for its furniture industry. And even though yours truly cooked dinner for the group, day three expenses with $61 in gas pushed that day's tab to $156.19. All told, our go-cart at $6.50 a pop was the cheapest ride we had.
HUNTER: So, I asked my wife last night, honey, what do you think? Was it cheaper to fly or drive? She said, she had the right answer, but she missed it by several hundred bucks. Take a look at this, $635 to drive down there, double that, that's $1,278.78. What it costs to fly, including a flight, parking your car, and rental car, a rental van is about 500 bucks, $1,369.42. Can you believe that, only 100 bucks difference to drive from Columbus, Ohio to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. You know there's upsides to driving and downsides, upsides to flying and downsides. John, Kiran?
ROBERTS: I'll tell you, that is a lot more money to drive than I would have thought that it would have been. I would imagine you probably could have saved some money if you decided not to bunk in at a motel overnight. You had to get a couple rooms for you and the crew. If you drove right through you could save a lot of money.
HUNTER: If you drove right through you'd save some money, but that's 10 hours for us to drive, forget the bumper cars and all that, you maybe could cut a little time. But I drove about five, six miles an hour over the speed limit. For some people that is part of the trip. The big chair, the big ball of twine, whatever, that's part of the trip. if you're not like that, you just get on a plane and drive, but I kind of like the scenery. Back to you guys.
ROBERTS: Three days in a minivan, just nothing like it either. Greg Hunter on Myrtle Beach for us this morning.
HUNTER: John, you guys are working me way, way, way too hard. I'll tell you, too hard. Now, back to work, leave me alone, OK.
ROBERTS: Take a rest. You've earned it. Greg Hunter, thanks very much.
CHETRY: It does look tempting doesn't it, gorgeous beaches?
ROBERTS: I'd love to be there.
CHETRY: It's 15 minutes before the top of the hour right now. We toss it to Chad Myers and last hour we took a look at some of that terrible hail storm video. Where was that in Colorado?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That was very close to Denver from Boulder through all the way down and even for that matter into Oklahoma City, all effects of a strong high pressure to the east and a low pressure to the west. So, what has this high pressure that really hasn't moved in four weeks, what has it done? Strong east winds. Big- time rip currents in Florida, onshore flow and wide spread flooding in Texas and drought and fires in Georgia through northern Florida. The onshore flow not bringing any rain into Georgia and a lot of Alabama, Mississippi and a lot of farmers there in Florida, too, hurting badly this year with the lack of any rainfall. No more to date, as well, nothing in the east at all.
Rain showers through the plains and severe weather from Oklahoma City right on down through Dallas. Here's the weather that moved through. I'm backing the radar up. Here's Boulder, Brighton, Westminster, Denver, big-time hail, lots of dents in cars out there from yesterday, storms since 4:00 yesterday and now the cell has moved into Oklahoma City and through there and, John, we've been looking at these lightning strikes. Look at the number now, 18, almost 19,000 strikes in one hour hitting the ground. That's five strikes per second across the state of Oklahoma, amazing.
ROBERTS: The very definition of extreme weather. Chad Myers for us. Thanks very much. A heated exchange over chili sauce kicks off our quick hits now. A customer in the Wendy's drive through demanded more than three packets of sauce. That's typically what's allowed. The manager went outside to explain the policy and how he couldn't have any more than 10. The manager got shot in the arm.
And it wasn't the ride, it was the rescue that was truly scary at Disney World's animal kingdom. The Kali (ph) River rapids ride suddenly stopped with people stuck in the rafts. Five guests and a Disney worker were hurt when the platform that they use to get people off the ride in an emergency situation slipped out from underneath them.
Time is running out if you think that your boss is treating you unfairly. Why it is now harder for you to fight for pay back next on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: From blue to brown, some quick hits now. Former Duke Blue Devil Reade Seligman lacrosse player cleared of rape charges. He's heading to Brown University this fall. Seligman will play lacrosse for the Brown Bears and said that he hopes to make the team and the university proud.
And Tiger Woods is giving some 30,000 soldiers free tickets to his July 4th tournament in Washington. This will be the first year for the AT&T national. They're playing at the historic Congressional Country Club in Bethesda.
President Bush expected to nominate Robert Zoellick as president of the World Bank this morning. Zoellick is a Goldman Sachs vice chairman and former deputy secretary of State. He succeeds Paul Wolfowitz who was forced to resign after authorizing a raise for his girlfriend who worked at the World Bank.
ROBERTS: It's 51 minutes after the hour now. A new Supreme Court decision will make it harder for workers to sue employers for pay discrimination. The high court ruled that workers have to act within 180 days if they feel that they have been discriminated against. What is this going to do for future such cases? Court TV's Savannah Guthrie joins us now live from Washington to explain what it means for your job. Savannah, here we have a case of a woman who found out late in the course of a 20-year career that she believed that she had been discriminated against. What did the court do to her?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV: They kicked her out of court and said even though she won at trial and a jury had awarded her millions of dollars in damages, which actually was later reduced by the trial judge, that two appellate courts now, including the Supreme Court said you were too late in suing, so she doesn't get that money. Her case is over.
ROBERTS: So dissenters on the court found and were pretty vocal about the idea. Bader, Ginsburg actually speaking out in court that this ruling ignores the realities of the workplace. What was the point that the dissent was making?
GUTHRIE: The dissent is saying it is all well and good for the way the majority opinion interpreted this statute passed by Congress, 180 days. But they said, that's not how the real world works. With pay discrimination cases according to the dissenters, a woman may not know right away that her pay is less than her male counterparts. For one thing, pay can happen in small increments so you don't really feel the full effect of it until some years later. That's what the plaintiffs had argued in this case. And the other thing is, let's face it, a lot of us don't know what our colleagues are making. You may not know that your male counterpart is making a lot more money than you are and so the dissenters in this case would have allowed this lawsuit to go forward.
ROBERTS: Is this an example of the increasingly conservative nature of the bench?
GUTHRIE: It may be. The decision isn't surprising. The people who are in the majority on this case, it's not surprising. For them this is a relatively simple case. The Congress has passed the statute. It says you have 180 days to sue and she didn't sue within the proper time and the more liberal side of the bench said, well, let's have a more broad interpretation of what that 180 days means. Maybe it would have made a difference if Sandra Day O'Connor was still on this court.
ROBERTS: And now they're kicking this whole thing back over to Congress. Hillary Clinton I understand may be responding to it as well with some sort of bill.
GUTHRIE: That's one of the interesting thing about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent. She says, you know, Congress, the ball is in your court now to fix this if you don't like this result and apparently, according to reports this morning Hillary Rodham Clinton has already picked up the ball and run with it and she intends to introduce a bill to rectify what the court did yesterday.
ROBERTS: We'll see if they change the law, Court TV's Savannah Guthrie, as always, very good to see you.
GUTHRIE: Nice to see you.
CHETRY: And some health news now for the quick hits, high carbs may go hand in hand with high blood pressure. Researchers have found that diets rich in carbs may be linked to higher blood pressure than diets with a lot of fats.
If you're one of those people who thinks that smoking a hookah is safer than smoking cigarettes - I don't know many of those people -- the World Health Organization says that smoking from a water pipe is just as dangerous as any other kind of smoking and sometimes it could be worse. You can inhale more than 100 times more smoke in a hookah session than in a single cigarette.
Coming up, the first tests that can tell you if your home will be able to survive the impact of a hurricane. We're going to show you. That's coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning here on CNN.
CHETRY: Three minutes now before the top of the hour. Ali Velshi is "Minding your Business." A nice little meeting ExxonMobil and its shareholders.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Annual shareholders' meeting in Dallas for ExxonMobil. Now, most shareholders of ExxonMobil are really happy. If you've been an investor over the last decade, you have doubled your money a couple of times and most people would like them to go on doing what it is that they do so well.
However, as is always the case in large companies, there are activist shareholders who have some proposals that they would like voted on. A couple of them involve investing in renewable energy and adopting a goal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. ExxonMobil's board has told shareholders to vote against those proposals. They've always told shareholders to vote against these proposals. Here's what they said at the proxy statement. The corporation's traditional business areas remain critical and promise far greater value than renewables that currently lack the scale and economic competitiveness of our core business opportunities.
In other words, drilling for and processing crude oil into gasoline is much more profitable than finding alternatives. Exxon has the position that renewables are never really going to make up much of what we consume in gas. Exxon also said that it donates $100 million, it has $100 million investment in renewable energy through the Stanford University global climate and energy project for which Stanford University is very grateful.
But even Stanford University is voting in favor of one of these proposals. Most of the other oil companies, the big ones, BP, Chevron, Shell and even ConocoPhillips, both invest in research for that sort of thing and actually have investment in renewable energy. Exxon just doesn't believe in this. They're not going in that direction. Again from Exxon's point of view, they do what they're supposed to for shareholders. They produce oil and they produce lots of money. A lot of shareholders are saying, why don't we try and be better to the environment. I think this is a discussion that's going to continue for many companies in the months going forward.
CHETRY: Some that tried like BP, try actually to get ahead of that.
VELSHI: Perception alone will cause some of these companies to do it.
CHETRY: That's true. Ali Velshi, thanks so much.
The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.
ROBERTS: International scare. An American infected with tuberculosis allowed on crowded overseas flights and the government knew he was sick. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JULIE GERBERDING, CDC DIRECTOR: We usually rely on a covenant of trust. We haven't been in this situation for 40 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: New fallout and a new race to find passengers who could be infected.
Plus, extreme home makeover. The new push to strengthen homes before the next big hurricane on this AMERICAN MORNING.
And good morning to you, thanks very much for joining us. It's Wednesday, May 30th. I'm John Roberts.
CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Great to see you this morning.
On our radar today, the whales are nearly home free. They have about two miles to go before they make it into the wide open waters of the Pacific. Of course we've followed this story for the better part of a month now as these whales that made their way into the Sacramento delta, a mom and baby both injured by a boat propeller and it wasn't looking good for them
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