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CNN Saturday Morning News

Man with Tuberculosis Speaks Out, and So Do His Friends; Democrats Face Off in New Debate in New Hampshire; Tropical Storm Barry; Protesters at G-8 Summit in Germany

Aired June 02, 2007 - 09:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: Well hello everybody, from the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia. This is Saturday, June 2nd. Good morning, I'm T.J. Holmes.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CO-ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: Yes, good morning everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. We want to thank you for starting your day with us.

There is still a lot of buzz this morning about the TB traveler. A lot of people wondering now whether he really got married in Greece.

HOLMES: Andrew Speaker tells his side of the story, and we'll also hear from some of his closest friends.

NGUYEN: And we're live in New Hampshire, where Democrats will face off in the next round of presidential debates. All the political news you need, that is ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

HOLMES: Those stories coming up, but first, we're watching some severe weather for you this morning, tropical storm Barry moving closer to making landfall right now. People along most of Florida's Gulf Coast preparing for the coming storm, already they've seen lots of rain, some flooding and what not. And our Bonnie Schneider has been keeping an eye on all this morning. Has been a busy woman this morning and a busy morning for the folks in Florida.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Your right, Betty and T.J. You mentioned the rain. I'm glad you brought that up because we are getting some new rainfall totals. In the past 24 hours, West Palm Beach reported 6.68 inches of rain in the past six hours. Wow, that's a lot of rain. So a lot of rain coming in and it's not over yet.

Here is the latest with tropical storm Barry; the sustained winds are at 50 miles per hour. So this is a strong tropical storm. The center, 84 miles southeast of Tampa. But tropical storm force winds, winds that exceed 39 miles per hour actually extend outward 90 miles around the storm. So we're already starting to see all those really strong winds, 47 mile-per-hour gusts reported in Cape Canaveral, not too far off from the storm.

Onshore by some time later this afternoon, and once it does, it's moving pretty quickly across Florida. You can see the movement right now is to the north-northeast at about 20 miles per hour. So it will across the Peninsula quite quickly and by tomorrow morning should be in the vicinity of Coastal Georgia, bringing wind and rain to the region. On a satellite perspective, this storm does not look very organized at all.

Here's where the storm is located, off the coast here. There's Tampa, and you can see a lot of the convection ahead of the storm. And really, one of our main concerns with this storm is not the rain so much, because we're really not looking at too much in terms of flooding, because it will be an on-going wet event, rather than a lot of flash flooding. It's the wind, the tropical storm warning continues from Keaton Beach to the north all the way to Bonita Beach to the south, and really, this area here from Crystal River, down through Sarasota that is where we're expecting some of the strongest winds, depending on where this storm makes landfall. The strongest winds will occur to the right of the storm.

So the tropical storm watch, though, extends all the way northward to St. Mark's. We can still see strong winds in that vicinity, it is something we're watching. And finally, taking a quick look at rain, we're expecting quite a bit of it still, even though we've already had a lot accumulating, three to five inches, and possibly down in Cuba ten inches of rain. So this will be a good rainmaker to an area that definitely needs it.

T.J., Betty.

HOLMES: All right. Our Bonnie Schneider, keeping an eye on things for us. We'll see you again very soon, I'm sure.

Also in Florida for us this morning is Susan Roesgen, our Gulf coast correspondent on the road making her way through Florida right now in Keaton Beach, I believe it is you're with us from. How are things there?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you, T.J., this is the kind of day you get out the Monopoly board and put on another pot of coffee. You can tell it's a gloomy day here at the beach, but really still not much wind to speak of. I think we are at the northern top of the cone that Bonnie mentioned there, expecting not much rain here, not a whole lot of wind, either.

But once again, this is supposed to be a very active hurricane season. We've been told by the National Weather Service to expect between 15 and 17 named storms. Here we are on tropical storm Barry. We could expect this season to have between June 1st and November 30th five major hurricanes. So really what we see today is a good warm-up for people to get ready. I mentioned earlier this morning that Florida has suspended its sales tax, its 6 percent sales tax from now until June 12th for the express purpose of encouraging people here to get ready to get the hurricane supplies that they need to get the water, to get the prescription medicines they need, to possibly get a generator, because this could be another very bad season.

Once again, though, today it's just a gloomy Florida morning. I hope there aren't many people here that have come to vacation on this stretch of beach, because it's not a good day for that.

HOLMES: It doesn't appear to be, when you see a reporter out there with a red jacket that says CNN on it, probably not a good vacation day for you.

ROESGEN: Don't come out.

HOLMES: All right. Susan, thank you very much. We will see you again soon.

NGUYEN: All right. We do have some pictures just into CNN. Look at this; this is in Rostock, Germany. You can see the protestor's there running; you can see the police among the crowd. This is I guess in light of what's about to happen. But boy look at these pictures as they are just throwing things back and forth, those protestors there. And what they're protesting is the G-8 Summit, which is going to kick off on Monday. Now, tens of thousands of protestors are on hand, and as well as law officers on the street. You see there. In their battle uniforms, trying to push back the crowds. And these protestors, again, against this G-8 Summit, the meeting there, they are really looking at the legitimacy of the existence of the G-8.

They're contending that. They're also wanting more in the areas of fighting HIV/AIDs, want to deal with African poverty and climate change, and right now just looking at these pictures, they have quite a lot on their hands, the police officers there on the ground, trying to control these tens of thousands who are there protesting the G-8 Summit, which is going to be kicking off on Monday. Of course, we don't have any word on any injuries as of yet, but the violence has broken out, and in some places and we'll keep a watch of it and bring you the latest as it develops.

HOLMES: All right. Back to the tropical storm Barry. It got a long, leading arm here causing problems. The video you're seeing there, yes, is out of Orlando. A double semi truck lost control on a wet highway, ended up slamming into the back of a fire truck. There it is again, but the wet roads certainly causing some problems here. But yes, there was a fire truck there on the road, as well; it slammed into the back of. No serious injuries, we are told to report out of this accident. So that's certainly a good thing.

Also some brutal weather to tell you about in Iowa. Show you what's left of a home in eastern Iowa after a tornado hit Friday. Dozens of homes were damaged; weather officials say the winds reached between 136 and 140 miles per hour. Fast enough to shred trees and flatten houses. Iowa official's say three counties suffered major damage, but fortunately, no major or there were only minor injuries here.

NGUYEN: Well, a new twist in the saga of the traveling TB patient. Andrew Speaker denies claims made by a local Greek official that he didn't get married in Greece. A member of his family provided CNN with a wedding photo, seen here, hoping to prove that the ceremony did take place. Meanwhile, Speaker went public for the first time, apologizing for making Transatlantic flights while infected with a dangerous form of Tuberculosis. In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Speaker says health officials never warned him he would be a risk to his fellow passengers. Speaker claims they only told him that after he was in Europe.


ANDREW SPEAKER, HOSPITALIZED WITH TUBERCULOSIS: I said, "What's changed?" When I left, I was told I wasn't a threat to anyone. When I left, I was told that I wasn't contagious. What's changed? Why are you abandoning me like this and expecting me to turn myself over for an indefinite time? What has changed? And they didn't have an answer to that.


NGUYEN: Andrew Speaker says he came back and that because of his father or he can back up those claims, I should say, in that because of his father, who taped that conversation with health officials, he does have the evidence. Now, Georgia law allows such recording if it's done by a person involved in the conversation.

Well, the public may be skeptical about what Speaker knew and what he didn't know and when he knew the information, but some of his friends say they have no doubts at all. As CNN's Rusty Dornin reports, they believe in their buddy.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Those who know him as Drew say Andrew Speaker's no villain.

RYAN PRESCOTT, FRIEND: He's not a selfish person. He honestly believed that he was not putting others in danger.

DORNIN: Law school buddy Ryan Prescott says people have made rash judgments about his friend. He knew Speaker had TB way back in April.

PRESCOTT: He wasn't hiding it. He told his friends, people that knew him knew that he had TB. He was told that he was not contagious. He was told that he wasn't dangerous to us. And I was not afraid to be around him.

DORNIN: Neither was his fraternity brother Greg Fansler. Fansler was Speaker's roommate more than two years, right up until last December. You lived with him two years, perhaps during the time that he contracted Tuberculosis?

GREG FANSLER, FORMER ROOMMATE: Yeah, we're not sure.

DORNIN: Did the CDC contact you?

FANSLER: I contacted them when I actually went and visited with Drew on Wednesday and called him Wednesday night and then was on the phone with him yesterday, and just gave them names of people that he was close with.

DORNIN: Did they ask you to be tested?

FANSLER: They -- as a person who lived with them, I'm probably a little bit more wanting to be tested than the other folks, but no real urgency.

DORNIN: Brandon Smith also went to law school with Speaker. Smith, like the others, has spoken with Speaker since he was placed in isolation. They all believe he tried to do the right thing by coming straight back to the U.S.

BRANDON SMITH, FRIEND: For him, it was a matter of life and death. He knew that the American states have the best healthcare system there is, and he just, he wanted to get back to that.

DORNIN: But what about endangering people on the flight back from Europe after he had been told he had the extremely resistant form of TB?

PRESCOTT: He had a form that was going to jeopardize his life more, not a form that was jeopardizing others' lives more.

DORNIN: Well, people might argue if they had an immunosuppressive problem, it might endanger them more.

PRESCOTT: And I can argue that there is not a single reported place of Tuberculosis being transmitted on an airport airplane.

DORNIN: The three friends are unanimous in their belief that there is one person Drew Speaker would never place in harms way, Sarah Cooksey.

He would not put the person that he cared the most about in danger and that would be Sarah. If she's sitting next to him, I do not; I cannot fathom him wanting to put her life in jeopardy, and especially the little one as well.

DORNIN: The little one is Sarah's 8-year-old daughter. His friends say Speaker is a family man, an outdoorsman. He and his fiance did everything from running to rock climbing, even after he was first diagnosed with TB. But they wonder where did their friend Drew get this disease? He traveled to Peru three years ago and last year went on a charity trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Maybe there, they say.

PRESCOT: He visited an orphanage, he visited a hospital, and it could have been a place where he picked it up.

DORNIN: Speaker told his friends this week he's received some e-mails wishing him anything but well.

PRESCOTT: And there are a lot of people out there wishing him a horrible death. Drew would not wish harm on anybody. And yet, these people are coming forward telling him that they want him executed.

DORNIN: So they stand united behind a friend who they say stands wrongly accused.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Want to take you back to these live pictures in Rostock, Germany, where thousands are gathered. Estimated 30,000 gathered now, as many as 100,000 expected here in Rostock, Germany, this is right outside of where the G-8 Summit is going to take place next week. And protestors there are questioning the legitimacy of that group of eight industrialized nations, also questioning some of the moves they have made in world affairs. But the video you're seeing here is what we watched, some live pictures a short time ago that some of these protests have gotten a bit out of hand and gotten a bit violent.

We've seen some of the protestors hurling rocks, hurling bottles, paint bombs, and things in the direction of riot police. We see police in the full riot gear with the helmets and shields, trying to keep some of protestors back, but this is a big weekend expected here ahead of the G-8 Summit. We are keeping an eye on the situation there in Germany. We'll keep you posted.

NGUYEN: Also ahead, the race for the White House makes a major stop in New Hampshire, candidates vying for your vote. Well, they are squaring off and we have a preview, next.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, DOTCOM DESK: And getting you ready for the debates online. Our special political section unveiled, next. I'm going to tell you all about it when CNN SATURDAY MORNING continues.


NGUYEN: Breaking news now. The G-8 protests taking place in Rostock, Germany at this hour. We've been showing you live pictures throughout the morning. At some points it was pretty contentious where you would see things being thrown. You saw the police officers in full riot gear there. Let's take you live now to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, who is there in the thick of things. I understand Frederik you were pelted a few times with some of the items that have been thrown across the air today in this riot.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Betty, absolutely. I would say about 15 minutes ago, this protest here, this G-8 protests in the city of Rostock turned violent as police started clashing with protestors. We've been seeing rocks flying, other things flying, actually very close to us. If we pan the camera over in that direction back there, we will see that the police is right now actually retreating from the protest. They have been trying to keep this violence under control. They haven't been very successful of it. The police here are out numbered by the protestors at this point. They've had to retreat over and over again.

And something thing that we do have to say is that the police officers here right now are not actually armed in any way with shields or anything else. They do have riot gear, they do have body armor on them and they have batons, but they're not armed in any other way, and they certainly are having massive trouble containing this violence that's been going on here. Right now, what we're seeing is a standoff between the protestors here and the police. So basically, what's happened is that the protestors have actually banished the police from this area. The police are having to retreat more and more from this area and having a lot of trouble containing the violence that's going on here, Betty.

NGUYEN: Frederik, let me ask you this, how outnumbered are the police today during this protest?

PLEITGEN: Well, basically, what the organizers of this protest said at the outset of this, they said that they were expecting about 100,000 people to show up here. Now, having said that, of course, even the police here say that the majority of those people are absolutely peaceful and would never start violence that's going on right here. They do say that the peaceful protestors here have sort of been infiltrated by those who actually want to propagate violence here.

What you're seeing right now, I would say the police are outnumbered at least ten to one by the protestors at this place. In all, we're seeing 13,000 police officers on duty today, trying to contain any sort of violence that would happen. There are helicopters in the air; there are police boats off the coast. But right now those police officers do appear to be very, very outnumbered.

NGUYEN: Yeah, ten to one is a large number there, especially when you have outbreaks of violence during a protest like this, where you have so many people on the streets. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen joining us with the latest there, but we want to reiterate, and what you're seeing here in live pictures is that some of the violence will break out here and there intermittently, but for the most part, you see kids wandering around and you see people holding flags. It does appear to be somewhat peaceful, despite the small outbreaks of violence throughout the morning. Of course, we'll continue to watch it.

HOLMES: Meanwhile, a new round of attacks in northern Lebanon to tell you about today. Lebanese troops pounding a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli, they are trying to root out al Qaeda-inspired militants barricaded inside. Four Lebanese soldiers were killed in today's fighting, dozens of other people, including civilians, militants and soldiers have been killed since the fighting first broke out on May 20th.

And U.S. opens fire on a suspected al Qaeda operative, it happened off the northern coast of Somalia. Sources say the attack was launched by a U.S. Navy destroyer deployed in that area. No word on whether the destroyer hit the intended target. It is believed the al Qaeda operative was involved in the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Those attacks in 1998 killed 225 people.

NGUYEN: Well, talking politics now. We are going to be back with a preview of some of the big debates coming up, one tomorrow and then next week. You want to stay tuned for all of that, right after this short break.


HOLMES: Well, you know, sometimes it's hard to believe, we're already talking about the 2008 presidential election. But the reality is, political season really never stops, just slows down a bit sometimes. This weekend the attention is on New Hampshire, the site of the CNN-sponsored Democratic and Republican debate. Joining me now for some political talk, Jim Vandehei, director of Good morning sir, good to see you, I know you're hyped up, ready for the debate starting tomorrow. Well, CNN is into this, I'm into this, you're into this. Is the public into this just yet?

JIM VANDEHEI, THEPOLITICO.COM: Well, if you look at the ratings from the last couple of debates, not a huge number of people have been into it so far. You're looking at about 2 million people that have been tuning into the debates, but I think that the politically active are very into this and they're trying to figure out who on both the Republican and Democratic side they should rally behind, who is most electible. So it's very important to that phase.

When you're this far out from an election, never is the mass public really engaged in the process, and they really don't engage for probably another year or so. But you know, with the stakes so high with what's happening in Iraq and what's happening with trying to figure out how you combat terrorism, it's not a bad thing to have people talking about their ideas for over a year and a half.

HOLMES: Who's more into it right now, the Democrats or the Republicans? Both have a lot of people right now to choose from, but is one group more fired up than the other?

VANDEHEI: Well, certainly, Democrats feel a lot more optimistic and Republicans feel very pessimistic. If you look at the polls and you look at the Republican brand, it has been scuffed, if not really damaged over the last couple of years. President Bush's poll numbers are pretty low, as are Republicans in Congress. So they're trying to figure out who's the most electable. I think that complains why Rudolph Giuliani's doing so well, despite the fact that he has views on social issues that put him at odds with the conservative base.

On the Democratic side, I feel like most activists are pretty happy with the field. That's why you don't see a huge ground swell of support for Al Gore jumping into the race late. People feel like they're pretty happy with Hillary, Obama and Edwards at the top here.

HOLMES: When are people going to start falling off? We can't keep covering all these candidates, when are people going to start dropping off?

VANDEHEI: Unfortunately not for a while. I mean there is no incentive, if you're running for president now why get out as long as you have enough money and you can get into these debates and you can have a platform to talk about your ideas. I think you are looking at the end of the year before you really start to see a significant drop- off in some of these debates confined to maybe three or four candidates, which then allows the viewer to get a better idea of what are the contrasts and differences between these candidates.

HOLMES: Fred Thompson going to make a difference whatsoever? I'm assuming he'll be the last major shake-up we see at this late time, as far as getting in the race. But is he going to shake things up that much? VANDEHEI: He certainly could, T.J. and the reason is, is that Republicans aren't that satisfied with their field as a whole. If you look at polling data, a lot of Republicans are saying, you know, we wouldn't mind having somebody else as a choice. And so when he gets in, he certainly is going to make a splash. He's a known quantity, and he can raise money. And given the fluidity of what's happening on the Republican side, that gives him an opening. I'm not completely sold that he's going to run in there and be instantly at the top of the first tier, but he is a threat to McCain and I think he's a threat to all of these candidates because, you know, because he's articulate on TV and because he's a well known quantity.

VELSHI: Well, he's also a threat to our staffing situation around here. We've got one more guy we've got to cover. Jim Vanderhei, executive editor of Sir good to see you, we're going to see you plenty throughout this season. Enjoy the weekend.

Of course, Sunday join the best political team on TV beginning at 5:00 p.m. Eastern for the pre-game line-up of the players, their weaknesses and who's expected to shine and all that good stuff.

Then at 7:00 Eastern, Democratic candidates square off and for the first time take questions from the voters. Then immediately following the debates, who scored, who stumble. Join Larry King, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, John Roberts and the whole Democratic field really themselves, talking raw politics, that is a post-debate breakdown, it all starts right here Sunday night at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

NGUYEN: Well the best place to get yourself pepped up and prepared for this debate is and Veronica De La Cruz at the ".com desk" is here to tell us about it. It's really a wonderful resource when you are looking at the candidates.

DE LA CRUZ: It is, and I also wanted to add that pipeline is going to be carrying the debates live for free.

NGUYEN: Great! We love that word.

DE LA CRUZ: Right into Tuesday. There is also going to be live analysis on pipe, too, as the debates happen.

NGUYEN: All right!


Let's get to the Web now. is the place. You'll first find there a gallery of all the candidates from both parties, and that will give you the candidate's bio, funding, poll standings, key supporters, advisors. There is just a lot that exists on this page. Our political editors have identified the principle issues that voters are talking about most, and the site is set up so that you can compare the candidates side by side as they steak out their positions on the Iraq war, immigration, taxes, and other important issues.

Check out this map, which follows the path to the presidency. It's a graphic look at the calendar of key political dates and locations leading up to the election. There is a calendar for both Democrats and Republicans. And then just for fun, Betty and T.J., the candidates really square off. They go head to head with presidential pong.


HOLMES: That's how we should pick our presidents. Not a bad idea.

DE LA CRUZ: And just an insider's tip here, Obama is a candidate you want to go with if you want to win the game.

HOLMES: Good athlete. Good basketball player, yes.

DE LA CRUZ: In the next hour we're going to talk more about politics on the web, including some video blogs on YouTube.

NGUYEN: Oh. Well, you know what spells.

DE LA CRUZ: Exactly.

NGUYEN: Sometimes trouble.

Thank you, Veronica.

HOLMES: We've got some trouble with our weather. We'll have a check after the break. Stay here.