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CNN Saturday Morning News
Suicide Bomber Set Off Car Bomb in Afghanistan; Massive Rescue Operation in Taiwan; President Obama Taking His Health Care Show on the Road This Weekend
Aired August 15, 2009 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody, from the CNN Center. This is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is August 15th and look at Atlanta this morning. It looks like a little bit of a grey morning happening.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Beautiful shot, though.
NGUYEN: Maybe it will clear up a little bit later. This is downtown. You can see some of the windows are still gone in some of the buildings from the tornado that hit over a year ago. We'll see how it clears up.
In the meantime, though, welcome back. Thanks for being with us today. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: And I'm T.J. Holmes. 8:00 a.m. here where we sit in Atlanta, Georgia. 7:00 a.m. in Odessa, Texas, 6:00 a.m. for you people waking up in Grand Junction, Colorado where the president will be later today for a town hall meeting about what else, health care. Grand Junction apparently has a pretty good health care plan out there.
NGUYEN: Model plan some would say.
HOLMES: Model plan, so he's out there to tout those. You're going to be talking actually this morning, I believe the mayor and a doctor.
NGUYEN: And a doctor who helped cultivate, create that plan that they are using there and it's a plan that is costing very little when it comes to Medicare, but it's providing a lot of health care to people in need there.
Also want to talk about this, that California fire out there waking up near Santa Cruz. Folks there, they are facing more evacuation today because of just that. The video that you are seeing behind us, in fact a state of emergency has been issued and this fire, it fire started on Wednesday. It's still only 15 percent contained, so that gives you an idea of what those firefighters have on their hands today.
HOLMES: And of course here, let's take a look at some of the stories you may have missed. This happened overnight. First here, a suicide bomber set off a car bomb today in Afghanistan's capital of Kabul. At least seven people killed, another 100 injured. NGUYEN: The explosion went off near NATO security headquarters and the U.S. embassy. Now the Taliban which has vowed to disrupt next Thursday's elections is claiming responsibility for this explosion.
HOLMES: There's also a massive rescue operation underway in Taiwan to save people from the flooding and mudslides triggered by typhoon (INAUDIBLE). It slammed into Taiwan last Saturday. This spawned the worst flooding and landslides there in 50 years.
Take a look at some of what's been happening there. Those waters just rushed. Friends and family of the victims holding memorial services across Taiwan today. More than 100 people are confirmed dead, but officials say the death toll could go as high as 500.
NGUYEN: President Obama is taking his health care show on the road this weekend. He's in Montana this morning where he held a town hall meeting yesterday. The crowd was pretty civil for the president. But he did get some tough, yet polite questions about his reform plan.
HOLMES: The president, who has a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, that happens a little later this evening, but a lot of health care related events happening across the country.
NGUYEN: No doubt. I want you to take a look at this may because it gives you indication of where they all are happening across the country. Democratic Congressman Pete Stark, he is holding three, not one, not two, but three in fact in California. He's going to be a busy guy. And as you can see from the map, there are also events in Chicago and Atlanta.
HOLMES: The first lady, Sasha and Malia, they didn't stay home. They are traveling with the president on this trip this weekend.
NGUYEN: And so is our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry. He tells us that the president is mixing some business with pleasure in big sky Montana.
ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sure, Montana is a nice place to visit this time of year, but the president had more on his mind than just fly fishing. He also came for urgent business, buttering up the state's senior senator and chairman of the Finance Committee Max Baucus who could hold the fate of health reform in his hands.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, the man who is working tirelessly to make sure that the American people get a fair deal when it comes to health care in America. Please give Max Baucus a big round of applause.
HENRY: In private, top presidential advisors acknowledge the fight has reached a critical stage because the opposition has gained some steam, capitalizing on anger over Federal bail outs and debt at many congressional town hall meetings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where does that state that government has these powers to take over health care.
HENRY: By comparison, the president's town hall here was pretty tame though he did get one pointed question that reflected the strong opposition he's facing.
RANDY RATHIE, MONTANA RESIDENT: We keep getting the bull. That's all we get is bull. You can't tell us how you are going to pay for this. The only way you're going to get that money is to raise our taxes. You said you wouldn't.
OBAMA: Look, you are absolutely right that I can't cover another 46 million people for free.
HENRY: But the president did not shrink from the challenge and vowed again he will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for the difference.
OBAMA: When I was campaigning, I made a promise that I would not raise your taxes if you made $250,000 a year or less. That's what I said, but I said that for people like myself, who make more than that, there's nothing wrong with me paying a little bit more in order to help people who got to live on less.
HENRY: But many agree that's easier said than done and so that leaves it to Baucus to figure out the pesky details of how to pay for reform. White House aides privately acknowledge his panel is the last best hope of getting a bipartisan deal. The weeks of negotiations in Washington have thus far come up empty.
NGUYEN: Henry joins us now live from big sky Montana. All right, Ed, first Bozeman, then later today Grand Junction, Colorado. Why these locations?
HENRY: Well these locations in part, a little bit like the campaign last year. Remember, then candidate Obama, really tried to go to places that were not necessarily friendly territory, places out in the mountain west that Democrats have given up on in presidential election cycles and he did pretty well. He picked up Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada. He came close here in Montana, but fell short.
Nevertheless, they are trying to sort of mimic that a little bit in this health care debate, say look, this president is not afraid to go into places where he's only going to hear wonderful things about his health care plan. He's willing to, as you saw, engage people and try to, in a thoughtful way, not some of the shouting we've seen in other town halls, try to make this case Betty.
NGUYEN: And a little bit later, things are getting pretty peaceful for the president, getting in some R&R with his family. What are they doing?
HENRY: Yesterday, he did some fly fishing and his wife and daughters were expected to do some white water rafting though the weather here was pretty rough, a lot of rain, so it was wreaking havoc on some of those plans. Today, they are going to be going to Yellowstone National Park and get a look at old faithful and then tomorrow, after this town hall in Grand Junction that you mentioned in Colorado tonight, tomorrow they'll be in Arizona to check out the Grand Canyon.
So his daughters are getting what I think a lot of people would think would be a pretty cool summer camp, if you will, before they have to get back to school, to tag along with mom and dad and get to see some of these wonderful national parks.
NGUYEN: A ride on Air Force One, a pretty good summer vacation, that's not a bad deal at all. All right Ed.
HENRY: I would be pretty jealous if I was in their class and I heard about their summer vacation.
NGUYEN: What do you have to be jealous about? You're flying around with him as well.
HOLMES: Ed, where are you? Is that a tent behind you? What is that back there? What's that behind you?
HENRY: It's a little bit of a -- no, there's a tepee back there and we've got a small fire. I don't know if you can tell. You probably won't feel bad. It's pretty nice out here, but my hands are a little chilly right now. It's sort of brisk here. We are two hours back. You got me out of bed a little early.
NGUYEN: Oh, don't start your whining. You were on yesterday with your nice hat and you're flying all over the country.
HENRY: I'm sure it's nice in the studio (INAUDIBLE).
NGUYEN: You're going to throw that in. Well, have fun at Yellowstone later today.
HENRY: I'll call you from the Grand Canyon as well tomorrow.
HOLMES: Get back in your tepee. We'll talk to you later Ed.
The president is hammering home his message in Grand Junction, Colorado. Lawmakers across the country continue to hold their own sessions and for more on the national debate, let's bring in Paul Steinhauser. You know him well by now. He's a friend of our show here on CNN Saturday and Sunday morning and our deputy political director.
Paul, good morning to you. How are you doing?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: T.J., if Ed's getting bored out there, he can come back here. It's going to be hot and humid in DC all weekend.
HOLMES: I don't know what Ed's talking about out there. Let's talk about the president here. We saw this one meeting or a couple the president's had. I don't know, people -- you get the president in front of you, you're not going to get too hot and heated and get in his face and the Secret Service won't let you anyway.
But all this shouting and all this confrontation, we see these on TV and just a few clips are shown. We only see so many of these town halls, but is there a feeling that all of them that are happening across the country, some that we don't even see, are they all these shouting matches? Are they all confrontational?
STEINHAUSER: No, they are not all like this. As the president said yesterday at his town hall, of course the shouting makes for good TV so a lot of media coverage of that. But there have been plenty and CNN has been in a bunch of these as well where there isn't any shouting where there are tough questions, but very civil discourse.
So it's not just all shouting T.J. across the country. Remember, we are just two weeks into this five-week summer recess for Congress so we've got three more weeks to go. You're going to have a lot more town halls. CNN's going to be at a lot of them, but the advocacy groups on both sides, those on the right and the left, they're continuing to gear up and get their supporters out to a lot of these town halls, so there could be more of this outspokenness. There could be more of these protests T.J..
HOLMES: That's a good point to make to CNN. We have been to a lot of these things. They are not all the same. We have seen though, some of them make good TV as you say and people have seen a lot of these things. Has a lot of that public debate, that heated debate affected the president one way or another when it comes to the poll numbers?
STEINHAUSER: That's the big question. Are these things making a difference? Take a look at these numbers from Gallup. This came out just a couple days ago T.J. and you can see right here from this poll, nearly seven in 10 Americans are either very or somewhat closely paying attention. They have watching this stuff on TV or online.
You can see only 18 percent say not so closely and 13 percent, they're not watching at all. Check out the next number as well, T.J. and this is interesting. Are these protests by these demonstrators who are mostly against the president's plans, are they making you more sympathetic towards their views? Thirty four percent say yes, only about one in five say less sympathetic and 36 percent say no difference whatsoever.
Now as to the president, T.J., his numbers, Americans seem -- they were split on how he was handling health care before these protests started. They are still split on that. His approval rating is pretty much the same, so not too much of a change here from these protests, but remember, only two weeks in. We're going to look at these polls as the whole month goes by T.J.
HOLMES: This is going to be the longest month recess that a lot of those congressmen have had. Paul, we appreciate you. We'll be talking to you again this morning. Thanks so much.
STEINHAUSER: Thank you. HOLMES: CNN of course has comprehensive coverage of the health care debate and town hall meetings at cnn.com/healthcare. As part of this make or break month for health care reform and our in focus coverage, we've added several new features here. You can learn where the closest town hall meetings are being held. You can learn the key players in the debate and learn the different plans, also the controversial sticking points. It's all there at cnn.com/healthcare.
I want to return now to our developing story from overnight. Despite today's bombing in Afghanistan, NATO forces say they feel confident they can secure the elections which are just five days from now. Again that bombing we were telling you about, seven people killed, about 100 people injured after an explosion near NATO security headquarters and also, this was near the U.S. embassy.
NGUYEN: Yes, it was and CNN's Atia Abawi is in Kabul. Atia, even though NATO forces say they can secure the elections, are voters buying that, especially after this explosion?
ATIA ABAWI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely not, Betty, especially after this mornings explosion, we have seven killed and at least 91 injured. We do expect some of those totals to rise. We also have several ISAF service numbers. That's the international security assistance force. Including ISAF, you have U.S. Forces, we're not sure if any U.S. forces were actually injured in today's incident.
And the NATO people that I speak to, the NATO sources that we have, they are telling us that they are trying their best to secure areas in the country for the Afghan people to feel secure enough to go as we saw with the thousands of U.S. Marines flooding into the country this past summer.
But we have to remember, last month was the deadliest month for NATO forces in Afghanistan since the war began here in 2001 and although they are trying and they have secured certain areas, there are many areas that they can't support. Some peoples' ideologies are very strong to the point where they will kill themselves to interrupt these elections. Betty.
NGUYEN: All right, Atia Abawi joining us live from Afghanistan. Atia, thank you so much for that.
To really understand what's going on over in Afghanistan and why we are over there, watch Christiane Amanpour's documentary. It's called "Generation Islam" and it airs tonight and tomorrow night 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
We also have a lot coming up this hour, including new developments out of California on those wildfires that have just been burning out of control.
HOLMES: Also, we are going to betalking to the "American Idol" star, but also the star of stage and screen now. She is Fantasia, a candid conversation with her, including a conversation about tattoos of all things. Betty.
NGUYEN: All right. Want to get to the latest on these wildfires in California. In fact, one is called the Lockheed fire, taking a look at it right now. Strong winds are indeed making it very difficult to fight this fire. It's just outside of Santa Cruz, California. Also getting some new video overnight. Close to eight square miles of forest have been burned.
About 15 percent of this fire has been contained so that shows you that not a whole lot. But, there are plenty of firefighters on the scene working this, some 1500, in fact. And a lot of mandatory evacuations are in place as well and as a state of emergency, which has been declared because of this fire.
HOLMES: Our Reynolds Wolf keeping on eye on things, the weather out in California. Reynolds, we were talking earlier, there was another fire even happening in southern California right now, so they are really up against it. The northern part of the state, southern part of the state as well really dry conditions out there.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: In our nation's capital it is going to be a great weekend for you and I'll tell you, for this weekend's weekend getaway, not a bad place to start heading.
WOLF: Washington, D.C. is a bonanza to the budget minded.
SARAH KANTROWITZ, TRAVEL + LEISURE: Everyone knows that Washington, D.C. is full of our nation's history. In fact the capital is a great place for a free tour to see the intimate details of the government.
WOLF: Whether it's the monuments, museums or even the national zoo, there are dozens of places to visit for free including the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
ELEANOR HARVEY, SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM: What you can expect to see is the largest and most comprehensive American art collection anywhere in the world. This building displays 4,000 works of art by some of America's most prominent and most beloved artists from all periods.
WOLF: But during the busy summer season, be prepared for crowds and maybe some surprises.
KANTROWITZ: What you don't expect about Washington, D.C. is that it's full of modern pleasures such as cutting edge restaurants and really exceptional people watching.
NGUYEN: All right. Well, some call it the music festival of all time. HOLMES: What do you guess we are talking about, folks? Of course, Woodstock. Was it really as amazing as they said it was? We'll be talking about Woodstock this morning. Also we'll be talking about a little something else.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: ... to be up here on this stage in front of 2,000 or 3,000 or stand up on the stage by yourself with a microphone looking at Simon Cowell?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: What do you think would be harder, standing there facing Simon Cowell or being on stage in the Broadway production of "The Color Purple." That is Fantasia there in the middle folks, can't really make her out there in costume, but a talk with her about her role as Miss Cealey (ph) in that production and talk to her about the health condition that almost or could have at least threatened her career.
NGUYEN: Thirty one bands rocking out today, 40 years ago. Tickets were like $18 or something like that (INAUDIBLE) My goodness, to see all of them. I don't know. Well over $100 or $200. Anyway, it's not going to be happening again. A lot of people say, there's not going to be anything like Woodstock to ever occur on this planet.
HOLMES: It was supposed to be a three-day festival, turned into four, wonder what's going on out there. Jimmy Hendrix, I didn't realize (INAUDIBLE) , played at 9:00 a.m.
NGUYEN: In the morning (INAUDIBLE).
HOLMES: He closed out the concert at 9:00 a.m. He was the last to play and our Ted Rowlands talked to some of those who actually were there and actually played (ph) to find out, is it or was it really as great as people seem to remember?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Woodstock the most famous music festival of all time, but it wasn't even held in the town of Woodstock, New York.
BOBBY COLOMBY, BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS: (INAUDIBLE) music festival. I think they started in Woodstock, but never -- I don't think they got the approvals to play there or permits.
ROWLANDS: Bobby Colomby headlined the closing night of Woodstock with his band, Blood Sweat and Tears. He says the 500,000 people who attended had a different experience than the actual performers.
COLOMBY: We were impatiently waiting to go on stage, but there's not a -- a -- you know, that kind of gathering of how you feel, peace man. Isn't this love, brother?
ROWLANDS: Grace Slick played Woodstock with Jefferson Airplane. Now, a visual artist, she's painted a picture literally of who was there.
GRACE SLICK, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: Janice, Richie Havens, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Joan Baez. The people who put on the festival contacted everybody they could. Some probably thought oh, that's stupid they don't know what they are doing. Or some probably thought no, I can't be over there because I have a commitment for something else.
ROWLANDS: The Who made it to the festival, but Roger Daltry reportedly called it the worst gig they had ever played. Rain and mud were plentiful but food and facilities were not.
SLICK: I didn't go to the bathroom all night because there wasn't a bathroom on stage. That's OK for guys, they can lean off the side, but a woman, it's a little tricky.
ROWLANDS: For many of the artists, Woodstock was just another engagement and in 1969, a decent paying one at that.
COLOMBY: The top pay, as far as I know was $15,000.
ROWLANDS: But for half a million concert goers, the experience was priceless. In Hollywood, I'm Ted Rowlands.
HOLMES: We'll never see another like it.
HOLMES: The president, we were talking about today heading to Grand Junction, Colorado to talk about health care. He's going to be met with as you could expect some critics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we want to do is express the fact that there are millions of Americans who disagree with his plan for nationalizing health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: We'll be talking with the mayor of Grand Junction just ahead about why his local health care system could be a model for the nation.
Plus our Josh Levs is looking at where Democrats and Republicans actually agree on the issue of health care. JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Betty. It's the one thing we are hearing about the least. But there are these areas of agreement and that makes those changes the most likely to actually happen. I'll show you.
NGUYEN: Well, in just a matter of hours, President Barack Obama will answer questions about his health care reform proposals from residents in Grand Junction, Colorado. Now Grand Junction is about 250 miles outside of Denver. It is a two-hospital town, yet it is getting a whole lot of national attention for its health care model. And here's one reason why.
The city has some of the lowest Medicare reimbursement rates in the country and that is by design, in fact years in the making. Grand Junction Mayor Bruce Hill and retired family doctor, Gilbert Madison are with me this morning to talk about this model plan.
Dr. Madison, let me start with you because back in the 1970's you actually helped change the health care formula in your city. How in fact did you get doctors to ban together and give me quickly the highlights of this health care plan?
DR. GILBERT MADISON, RETIRED FAMILY PRACTITIONER: Well when we started this plan we figured that we had three populations that we were dealing with. One was the population that could pay for their insurance. The other was the working but unable to pay or pay much for their insurance and the Medicaid population.
So the doctors all got together and decided that they needed to get a plan where the working that could not afford the insurance could be covered and Medicaid patients to be covered. At that time, Medicaid patients were not being seen because the reimbursement rate was so low. So we wanted to cure that problem, so we did that by giving everybody the same pay for the patients and we were able to cover the Medicaid, the...
NGUYEN: But were doctors having to take a loss because of that?
MADISON: The doctors were at risk on that or like if we had $100 payment due, they would pay us 80 percent of that and withhold 20 percent. And at the end of the year if we would break even, we got our 20 percent back. If we didn't, we had to forfeit the 20 percent to pay the bills.
NGUYEN: So you say the focus with this plan is more on getting people, regardless of who they are, the kind of care they need and less about the monetary gain of it all?
MADISON: That's correct. We are nonprofit. We wanted to give everybody care. We have set it up so that the pharmacies, the hospitals, all the ancillary facilities are included in this program. And everybody bought into it for the whole community. We have about 150,000 people in the valley and that's where we started the plan. We are now statewide, though and everybody seems to get along with this program.
NGUYEN: All right.
MADISON: It's nonprofit.
NGUYEN: Yeah, well let me ask the mayor...
MADISON: We have good...
NGUYEN: ... for just a second, as we listen to this plan and many people are touting it as a model for the rest of the nation. What can lawmakers learn from this as there's going to be a town hall in fact in your city tonight.
MAYOR BRUCE HILL, GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO: There is going to be a town hall. Well I think what you can learn is actually people coming together and working on a specific problem and I think we do this very well in western Colorado. As you mentioned, 250 miles west of Denver, we have to do a lot of things on our own and that can -- we do emergency service, whether it's 911 dispatching or fire fighting.
We have to do that as a community. And you see this example of health care in our community as all those involved coming together, the patients, the doctors, the hospitals and other organizations to try to solve a problem in our community. And it's 30 years later it has done just that.
NGUYEN: Dr. Madison, I want to get back to you because you know the ins and outs of the health care plan that's taking place there in Grand Junction. How does it differ or maybe be similar to the plan that President Obama has on the table?
MADISON: Well I'm not sure exactly what plan Obama has on the table -- President Obama. All I can say is it's a community effort. Everyone is involved and we try to cover everyone. That's all I can say...
NGUYEN: Well, the president is trying to do that as well. He's trying to provide health care to every American, but the details of it, that's where it gets a little sticky because everyone wants something different from it. And these town halls are supposed to alleviate some of the questions and the concerns out there.
So let me get to you, Mayor. You are planning on attending tonight. What are some of your concerns with the plan that is out there or the many plans that are out there? What do you want to know about and what do you want answered at tonight's town hall meeting?
HILL: Well you know my role is to welcome the president of the United States to Grand Junction. We're very excited that he's chosen Grand Junction, Colorado to hold one of his town hall meetings. I think my constituents on both sides or the many sides of this issue will do a nice job of asking those questions and provide an environment...
NGUYEN: So you have no questions personally? HILL: ... that I think the president is looking for. On the health care issue, no, I want to make sure I'm a good host for the president and welcome him to our community.
NGUYEN: So as the mayor of your city, you have no questions about the health care plan or proposals that are out there. You are just there to welcome the president?
HILL: That's correct, yes.
NGUYEN: Very interesting -- all right. Dr. Madison, do you have any questions or concerns about the health care plan that is out there and the proposals in fact that are out there?
MADISON: Yes, I do. The first and number one most important problem I feel is tort reform. I think until something is done for tort reform, we can't bring the cost of health care down. That contentious (ph) fee I think has to go. The trial lawyers stand behind that, but I think that's one of the driving forces on many of the tests that are done and we need to get rid of that. The other thing I would like to ask Congress is why don't they go under the same plan that they are proposing instead of having their own separate plan?
NGUYEN: Yeah, it seems like the House has a plan, the Senate has a plan, and the president also has an overall plan and everyone is trying to figure out the best way to do all of this. Dr. Madison, Mayor Hill, I thank you both for your time today and it will be very interesting to see how this town hall plays out as the president is in Grand Junction tonight. Thank you both.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Betty...
NGUYEN: And if you want to know -- sure -- want to know more about the health care debate and how the reforms could affect you and your family, check out the special "Health Care in America" Web site on CNN.com. You can get the latest from town hall debates, fact checks, iReports -- you can even read the entire bill. Just go to CNN.com/healthcare.
HOLMES: You don't have to be a football fan to have an opinion on this one. Michael Vick starts practice today with the Eagles. We are getting a lot of feedback from you on this. You want to weigh in. You know where to find us -- Facebook, Twitter as well. You can also check out our blog at CNN.com/TJ or/Betty. We'll have some of your responses still ahead.
NGUYEN: All right. We are getting some new information just in to CNN. Virginia senator Jim Webb on a trip to Myanmar this weekend -- in fact he was in country, headed back home, I believe. But while there, he met with pro-democracy leader An Sang Su Chi (ph) a little bit earlier. As you recall, Su Chi (ph) is a Noble Peace laureate (ph) and has been actually held in her home under house arrest for years on end. And on Tuesday, her house arrest was extended for an incident this spring where an American, John Yato (ph), essentially swam to her home uninvited. Her home is protected by guards because again she is under house arrest. And because he was there, that was a violation of that house arrest. Yato (ph) received seven years hard labor.
An Sang Su Chi (ph) got another 14 years house arrest, but Senator Webb, who was in the country speaking with leaders there in Myanmar. We understand that he is the first congressman to do so in more than a decade and we believe there is going to be some new developments coming out of that and as soon as we get all of that confirmed we'll bring it straight to you.
In the meantime though, a huge suicide blast rocked Kabul, Afghanistan this morning, just days before the presidential election. At least seven people were killed plus 100 more injured. Now the Taliban, which has vowed to disrupt next Thursday's elections are claiming responsibility for that explosion.
And memorial services were held in parts of Taiwan today to remember victims of typhoon Morokot (ph). It slammed into Taiwan last Saturday spawning the worst flooding and landslides there in 50 years. As much as 102 inches of rain fell on Taiwan. More than 100 people, in fact, are confirmed dead, but officials say that death toll could exceed 500.
HOLMES: Well from a Falcon to an Eagle, Michael Vick has signed. He has a job. Someone is giving him a second chance in the NFL. That's going to be the Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Vick also doing some image rehab starting with his first in-depth news conference since serving 18 months in prison for running a dog fighting operations.
Listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL VICK, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: We all use the excuse it was part of our culture and you know I don't think that's an excuse. Now, I understand that people care about their animals, they care about their health, you know the welfare, the protection of animals, and now I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right, is this going to work? Rick Horrow is a sports business analyst who has been a consultant to the NFL, worked with the commissioner there, Roger Goodell -- Rick, good morning to you. He has a job. He is back technically, but he's still not cleared to play, just yet.
The commissioner says he's going to wait until -- excuse me, not wait, but he will make a decision by week six of the NFL season. So tell us literally what is next for Michael Vick? Is he -- he's going to be practicing and his career is restarting as of today? RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: As of yesterday, get in shape, stay in shape. His other comments were that this year is a get in shape year. Starting next year he wants to look like the face of the NFL for the next 10 years. He said our country is a country of second chances four or five times, well scripted but sincere. Tony Dungy (ph), the Super Bowl champion coach of the Colts is his personal mentor. Remember Roger Goodell (ph) has suspended Stallworth (ph) for a year...
HORROW: ... Adam Jones (ph) for a year, Chris Henry (ph) for eight games, so he's going to look him in the eye and say, do I believe what you say? That's on ongoing process.
HOLMES: So that's what -- what else does the commissioner need to hear from Michael Vick? Does it really matter to the commissioner about Michael Vick going out and making these statements and press conferences and interviews or is it really going to come down to him looking into Michael Vick's eye and making the decision about what he says to a man-to-man, face-to-face?
HORROW: I am lucky enough to have worked with Roger Goodell (ph) for a number of years and Eagles owner Jeff Lurie (ph) for a number of years. These men are sincere individuals who care about their teams, care about their league, care about their city.
And oh by the way, the Eagles are one of the top five valuable franchises in the league, well worth well over a billion and Roger Goodell (ph) is the steward of a $7 billion a year business. He doesn't want to take unnecessary chances, but again, they do believe in second chances. I think the Philadelphia process has a number of mentors built into this, so we'll see what happens.
HOLMES: And you talked there a moment ago about Michael Vick saying this is a year to get back in shape. He talked about this -- he was a superstar. Not going to be a starter just yet -- of course Philadelphia has its own super star quarterback by the name of Jonathan McNab (ph), but he talked about this yesterday. He's not ready to step in there and take that starting role, so let's take a quick listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICK: I have been away from the game for two years and I got to start somewhere. I got to crawl before I walk. You know I can't imagine going out you know after a two year hiatus, going out and trying to you know be a starter for a football team. I just don't think it could happen. With as much God-given ability that I have, I don't think that I would be able to do it. I think I could, but I wouldn't risk it and you know I need time to you know get my feet wet and get acclimated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right, last thing here, Rick, Philadelphia fans not easy to please. First of all, why would the Eagles take a chance on him, if they don't really even need him? They don't expect him to come back and be a starting quarterback and probably not a back up quarterback. Why even go through -- they are paying him pretty decent money, 1.6 mill, $5 million option for the next year. Why take him in? They don't necessarily need him, do they?
HORROW: Listen, what he did was heinous, unforgivable, premeditated. On the other hand, the guy is 29 years old. He ran for 1,000 yards in 2006. Do you know how fast that guy is? OK, so that's the bottom line as far as on the field. And plus, the NFL, 45 percent of NFL fans are incredibly avid, based on all measurements, twice as much as other sports, especially in Philadelphia.
HORROW: They know their football. If he is mentored properly and he helps the team win and he overcomes the image issues that's the risk they are taking.
HOLMES: Bottom line what you're saying there the guy is an incredible athlete, so they think he can help. We will see what happens. We will follow this for Michael Vick. Rick Horrow, always good to see you kind sir. Thanks so much. You have a good Saturday.
HORROW: Next week (INAUDIBLE).
HOLMES: All right.
NGUYEN: All right, so Michael Vick going to the Eagles. You got a lot of people fired up about that. Some people say hey it's great. Others say no way, I'm not going to watch them anymore.
NGUYEN: But let's see what you are saying this morning because we're hearing from you. Let's take you to our Facebook and Twitter pages because we've gotten a lot of responses. First up, let me pull up my Facebook page and let's see.
Artie Copeland (ph) puts it this way. "It's kind of a second round of punishment going to a team like the Eagles." Oh, that was kind of rough. But Kendall James (ph) says "I believe in second chances. Vick did an awful thing, but Tony Dungy (ph) now has his back and that's good enough for me."
HOLMES: Got one here from Twitter on the screen there -- there you go -- right there in the middle pretty much saying "everyone deserves a second chance, just not a third and a fourth." And that's something that Michael Vick actually mentioned in that press conference.
I know I've got one shot at this thing. He's getting a second chance. There will not be a third. There will not be a fourth. If he so much as sneezes in the wrong direction, somebody is going to be there to capture that and it is probably going to be all over for him. But you can always send us your comments on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You know where to find us. You can also check us out on our blog, CNN.com/TJ or /Betty.
NGUYEN: Well Detroit has definitely been in the headlines lately as a city in dire economic straights.
HOLMES: In the headlines for the wrong reasons, but one woman has an inspirational story and she's got something to howl about. We'll show you how she was able to create a booming business in one of the toughest parts of town.
NGUYEN: We've heard this week about a slight improvement in the economy, but what does that mean for cities like Detroit that's really suffered under this recession?
Well CNN's Poppy Harlow took a trip to the "Motor City" to actually find out that businesses are booming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prince (INAUDIBLE) right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Running a small business during this recession is a daunting task especially in a city as hard hit as Detroit, but Liz Blondy (ph) is beating the recession by betting on dogs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Business is doing really well. I'm really lucky to be able to say that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 2:30 Jessica (ph)...
HARLOW: Blondy's (ph) "Canine to Five" dog care business grew 28 percent from 2007 to 2008. And even this year, she's hoping for 15 percent growth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People have not stopped spending on their pets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no problem fitting that in the budget. It's not very easy, but we do fit it in the budget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the best thing going for me. I have got to do it. I got to do it for him. It makes me feel good and I got to take care of him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're part of the family and just like you groom yourself, you're going to groom your little people. HARLOW: But running her business comes with its challenges.
LIZ BLONDY, CANINE TO FIVE: The neighborhood, for sure -- we call it mid-town now, but it used to be the cash corridor (ph) and the cash corridor (ph) was a traditionally a very rough neighborhood, lots of hookers, lots of drugs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Confusing, Detroit is kind of a weird place. It's definitely (INAUDIBLE) of you know, people that pay $4 for a latte and people that pay $10 for a crack rock (ph). It's weird.
HARLOW: It's an uncertain place and that has prompted Liz to install security cameras to ensure her customers' cars don't get broken into, but Liz says she's here to stay.
BLONDY: I deal with the neighborhood. I deal with the challenges. I actually hope that in opening my business here, I am making the neighborhood a little bit better. I think I am.
HARLOW: All right, now I have to say Liz's business is somewhat of an anomaly in a place like Detroit. And one of the reasons why Liz's business is doing so well, Betty, is because she says she's the only doggy day care or groomer in downtown Detroit, so she's got somewhat of a monopoly on that market, and as you heard, people are willing to spend on their pets, Betty, sometimes even more than they are willing to spend on themselves.
NGUYEN: Yeah, Liz's case, where she owns the market, that's because she's the only one in town doing that, but for the most part when people are thinking about starting a business, entrepreneurs wouldn't necessarily think Detroit is the place to be.
HARLOW: No, it's a great point, but here's the upside to Detroit. It's a city that is clearly reinventing itself, focusing much more on other things outside of the auto industry. And we've heard lawmakers in Michigan talk time and time again about their goal of becoming a green energy corridor, really creating jobs in that state and with new industries will come many opportunities.
And in Detroit in particular you're looking at a city with surging unemployment, so for people that have been laid off, you know they have business ideas, Detroit maybe not such a bad place to start their own business. That said, getting a loan, as you know Betty, anything but easy these days. But that's sort of a bright story out of a city that is having such a hard time.
NGUYEN: Absolutely, and we love to hear those. Also coming up you are in for Gerri Willis this weekend. What's coming up on "YOUR BOTTOM LINE"?
HARLOW: That's right. We have a great show coming up for you very soon folks right here on CNN and here are the topics. First of all, Congress of course lawmakers on recess, but that health care debate that is raging on. We're going to talk about savings through preventive health care.
Also we're going to break down the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights and show you the rules that you need to know because they take effect this Thursday. And also if you don't want to buy those expensive electronics or appliances, maybe rent them. That's an idea. You can even rent designer clothes -- all that and more coming up at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, right here Betty on CNN.
NGUYEN: All right, looking forward to it. Thank you.
HOLMES: All right, for someone who only has a ninth grade education...
HOLMES: ... a shot to superstardom, the last thing you want to hear is the thing that shot (ph) you to stardom is being threatened. This is what happened to Fantasia...
HOLMES: Health condition that threatened her voice. All right, Fantasia, many of you know as the "American Idol" star, but she's also a star on Broadway and possibly a reality star, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: When we talk about this fame now and all that comes with it. You are signing up for a reality show. And you're going to let people into that life even more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I call it a documentary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A documentary...
HOLMES: Well the rest of us call them reality shows.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) a little different...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Reality show -- come on.
HOLMES: A documentary -- come on Fantasia. I go backstage with her. We talk -- yeah, we got some light moments, but still a serious health condition really threatened her singing career -- that interview coming up.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Singing on stage, never been a problem for Fantasia. Doing it all her life, also helped her win "American Idol" in 2004. These days she's still singing on stage, but she's mixing in a little acting between the songs. She's reprising her role as Miss Sealy in the Broadway production of the "Color Purple" (ph). Her first run with the show, you may remember, ended in 2008 after she missed over 50 performances with no real explanation.
Well now she's ready to explain why she left and why she just had to come back.
FANTASIA BARRINO, "AMERICAN IDOL" 2004 WINNER: I have to -- Miss Sealy (ph), she's a part of me now. I think after my first week, I knew, like oh my God! This ain't no joke! It's not. And you know different from the first time I did it in New York for a year. And I think that when I was doing it then I had so much baggage of my own that it was hard for me (INAUDIBLE).
HOLMES: As we say now, you are back...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
HOLMES: Everybody wondered, where did you go?
BARRINO: There was a lot going on. I actually had tumors. I had to have surgery. And I was just tired. I didn't understand why I was so tired. I would go from the "Color Purple" (ph) and go get IV's because they said I was dehydrated, but it wasn't that. I had two tumors that was draining everything out of me.
HOLMES: For Fantasia, getting news about tumors was bad enough, but they were in her throat of all places. The worst news giving that she's a woman without a high school diploma whose success has been almost solely based on her ability to sing.
BARRINO: It was a trying time for me, (INAUDIBLE) say that. Because after having surgery, I couldn't speak for six weeks, so I'm like everything at the time was going wrong. I can't even speak or talk, can't work for six weeks. I work to pay -- I have to pay my bills and I have to take care of my whole family.
HOLMES: Are you fully recovered now?
BARRINO: Fully recovered.
HOLMES: Fully recovered -- how are the vocal cords?
BARRINO: Stronger than ever -- the only thing that I have to do is I have to get somebody to work with me because my talking they say is worse than my singing -- never heard that before, but...
HOLMES: What does that mean?
BARRINO: I don't know. Everybody (INAUDIBLE) do you really talk like that? I'm like yeah, but the doctor says my talking is worse than my singing.
HOLMES: And while the speaking voice may need some work, the singing voice -- judge for yourself.
HOLMES: Fantasia's health scare prompted her to get a back-up plan, an education.
You want to go back and get your diploma? That is going on now, right?
HOLMES: How is it going?
BARIAN: It's hard. Yes, it's been a long time. I dropped out of school in the ninth grade. I am doing it because I have an eight-year- old daughter and a 16-year-old brother. It's so hard on them. How about this? Watch your sister -- I'm getting my diploma and I'm still cool.
HOLMES: She really talks like that.
HOLMES: It's funny. She throws you off. Like, are you serious? You want to clear your throat? You need some water.
HOLMES: She really talks like that. She is -- I hate to put her on the spot like this and tell everybody but she taking that test this fall. It's coming up, I think in just a few months or something. She was nervous to tell me she was doing it.
NGUYEN: She seemed determined about it.
HOLMES: Yes. But you know, we're going to ask if she passed or failed. She says failing is not an option. She'll be just fine.
NGUYEN: I mean, just look at her career. Failing is not an option, right?
HOLMES: It's not an option.
NGUYEN: She's had all these obstacles and she has kept going and just soaring.
HOLMES: She said Simon also -- we talked about this earlier -- Simon, that's easy compared to doing stage.
NGUYEN: Really? HOLMES: Simon she can stand. That's here thing, she sings -- I can sing in front of anybody, she says. But in front of a crowd, like this I got to remember my lines and acting and where to stand on the stage. It's a lot trickier (INAUDIBLE).
NGUYEN: Got it. All right. There's much more to come right here on CNN.
Hello, everybody from the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is August 15th. Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. It is 9:00 a.m. where we sit here in Atlanta, Georgia. It is what -- 8:00 a.m. in Memphis, Tennessee. 7:00 a.m. for the folks out in Grand Junction, Colorado where the president is going to be showing up a little later today to talk what else -- health care.
A lot to talk about this morning. So let's start with Myanmar. Yes, we're doing with Senator Jim Webb, now the first member of Congress to visit Myanmar in more than a decade. There he is. Today, he met with the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. In this picture however, she's a Nobel Prize winner who's been locked away, essentially under house arrest, for years. There she is.
Well, on Tuesday, her house arrest was extended for an incident that happened in the spring that really she didn't have anything to do with. She had an uninvited guest, if you will. That was in May, an American man swam to her home, uninvited. His name John Yettaw. He was sentenced to seven years with some of those years for hard labor.
NGUYEN: Well, the Taliban are claiming responsibility for this morning's attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. At least seven people were killed and about 100 others were injured when a suicide car bomb exploded near NATO security headquarters. Now the blast comes just days before Afghanistan's presidential elections which the Taliban has previously vowed to disrupt.
HOLMES: Well, the rescue operations continue in Taiwan. This is after just a week ago, we saw that typhoon, more than 1,000 villagers still trapped because of flooding and mud slides. This typhoon, the name was "Morakot" hit again, like I said, on Saturday. The death toll is above 100 right now. That's confirmed. However, officials do expect that number to go up to at least 500.
NGUYEN: All right. Let's get back to our top story this morning. President Obama is taking his health care show on the road this weekend. He is in Montana this morning where he will hold a town hall meeting. Actually he held one there yesterday. But the crowd was pretty civil for the president. He did get some tough, yet polite questions about his reform plan.
HOLMES: He has a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado. That happens a little later this evening, not he only health care event that's happening right now.
NGUYEN: Not at all. I want to give you a map though showing them across the country. There is a lot taking place today. Democratic congressman Pete Stark, he is in fact holding three town hall meetings today. All of them in California. There are also events in Chicago and Georgia.
Now, the first family is with the president on his trip this weekend. And so is our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, who tells us why the president is mixing a little business with pleasure.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sure, Montana is a nice place to visit this time of year. But the president had more on his mind than just fly fishing. He also came for urgent business. Buttering up the state's senior senator and chairman of the finance committee Max Baucus, who could hold the fate of health reform in his hands.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, the man who is working tirelessly to make sure that the American people get a fair deal when it comes to health care in America. Please give Max Baucus, a big round of applause.
HENRY: In private, top presidential advisors acknowledge the fight has reached a critical stage. Because the opposition has gained some steam, capitalizing on anger over federal bail outs and debt at many congressional town hall meetings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where does that state that government has these powers to take over health care?
HENRY: By comparison, the president's town hall here was pretty tame. Though he did get one pointed question that reflected the strong opposition he's facing.
RANDY RATHIE, MONTANA RESIDENT: We keep getting the bull. It's all we get, it's bull. You can't tell us how you're going to pay for it. The only way you're going to get that money is to raise our taxes. You said you wouldn't.
OBAMA: Look, you are absolutely right that I can't cover another 46 million people for free.
HENRY: But the president did not shrink from the challenge. And vowed again he will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for the difference.
OBAMA: When I was campaigning, I made a promise that I would not raise your taxes if you made $250,000 a year or less. That's what I said. But I said that for people like myself, who make more than that, there's nothing wrong with me paying a little bit more in order to help people who got less.
HENRY: But many agree that's easier said than done. And so that leaves it to Baucus to figure out the pesky details of how to pay for reform. White House aides privately acknowledge the panel is the last best hope of getting a bipartisan deal. The weeks of negotiations in Washington have thus far come up empty.
NGUYEN: And Ed Henry joins us now, live from Big Sky, Montana. All right. Ed, first it was Boseman then later, today Grand Junction, Colorado. Help us understand why these locations?
HENRY: Well, look, these are not places where you would normally expect a lot of Obama supporters necessarily. But think back to the campaign, as a candidate, he really went out to the mountain west state that a lot of Democratic presidential candidates have given up on in recent years. He did pretty well carrying Colorado, Arizona and Nevada. He came up short here in Montana but came close.
And let's remember Max Baucus is the finance chairman, as we mentioned he hails from here. He's in the middle of those negotiations, and so the president wanted to reach out to him, maybe buck him up a little bit and make sure they keep the talks back in Washington going in September. Because the window is going to close really fast for them to get a deal before we reach the end of the year deadline that the president has set.
NGUYEN: All right. And Ed, I got to ask you, where are you exactly? When you see that teepee behind you. I hear some noise. Are you at some kind of a national park? Where are you?
HNERY: We're in a mountain resort here in big sky.
NGUYEN: Oh, a resort, huh?
HENRY: There's a little, almost like a little stage coach and there's a fire burning out there. Because you probably can't tell my hands are kind of chilly. It actually got colder since the last shot because of the cloud cover and what not. But you know, the good news is, I don't know what you got on the docket tomorrow, but we're going to go to Arizona, the Grand Canyon ...
NGUYEN: You just want to rub it in our faces, don't you?
HENRY: Yes. Well, I hate to do that. I hope it doesn't sound that way. I've got this hat to keep me warm. I feel like I can make it through. It's going to be just fine.
NGUYEN: Big hats and big sky, Montana. All right. You know, you fit the part right there. Try to do a little work while you are on the sightseeing tour, if you would. We enjoyed your reports this morning. We'll be talking to you shortly.
HENRY: I appreciate it. (INAUDIBLE)
NGUYEN: All right. See you, Ed.
OK. So a different look at the health care from Los Angeles. Though one that really illustrates so many Americans' fears and struggles to get basic medical needs met. For days, about 1,500 people have stood in line hoping to see a nurse or a doctor at a free medical clinic.
And our Ted Rowlands is there.
ROWLANDS: Betty, this 18,000 plus seat stadium has been converted into a treatment center where thousands of people, some of them under insured, some uninsured are getting medical, dental and vision care absolutely free.
ROWLANDS: Thousands of people spent hours overnight this week waiting outside the Englewood Forum for free medical care. Among them, 37-year-old Dion Greene, who is unemployed and uninsured. The arena floor is a treatment center. It's free. It's all completely free.
DION GREENE, UNINSURED: It's a beautiful morning.
ROWLANDS: For Dion and thousands of others who are willing to wait. After getting his eyes checked, Dionne gets a new pair of glasses.
GREENE: Look like a scholar, feel like a scholar.
ROWLANDS: And waits a few more hours for his turn to see a dentist. Dion says he tried pulling two of his own teeth out because he didn't have insurance or the money to pay for it.
GREENE: We're at an era where do you want to pay insurance or do you want eat? Do you want to pay for health care or do you want to put clothes on your back? It becomes a catch 22. You have to pick your poison, right. Let's go to work.
ROWLANDS: Remote Area Medical or R.A.M. is the organization behind this medical giveaway. Besides the vision and dental care offer, there's also basic medical, including some cancer screenings, mammograms and HIV screening.
All of the work is done by volunteers. Hundreds of doctors, dentists and technicians donating their time.
DR. MEHRDAD MAKHANI, DENTIST: It's horrible. It makes you cry. I mean, you either you cry or work on the patient, which one you want to pick. I mean, your heart breaks.
ROWLANDS (on camera): Organizers say they could see even more patients if they had more doctors. In fact, they wanted to bring more eye doctors to this even in Los Angeles because they didn't have enough volunteers. But believe it or not doctors in this country for the most part cannot cross state lines, even if they are donating their time.
(voice-over): Something R.A.M. creator Stan Brock that he tried to change for the last 20 years.
STAN BROCK, FOUNDER, REMOTE AREA MEDICAL: Nobody seems to get it. This would not cost the government a cent. It would not cost the taxpayer a cent. These people, these volunteers travel to these events at their own expense.
ROWLANDS: Brock, who years ago, co-starred in hit television series "Wild Kingdom" says laws prohibiting out of state doctors to volunteer at his event are preventing R.A.M. from making more of an impact.
BROCK: It may not be the solution to the health care crisis in this country but it would be a quantum leap in the right direction.
ROWLANDS: Those two teeth Dion apparently tried removing by himself with vice grips still had roots left. A dentist took them out, which obviously was painful, but it was free.
GREENE: Man, oh man!
ROWLANDS (on camera): The event here in Los Angeles runs through Tuesday. Organizers say by the end, they hope that they will be able to treat more than 8,000 people -- Betty.
NGUYEN: That's the length people that will go to get some free medical care. Painful but free as Ted said. Well, far too many poor Americans, for them the health care crisis isn't a political lightning rod or a town hall meeting debate. It's a real-life crisis.
Sam Brock was just featured in that report. He founded the nonprofit Remote Are Medical Volunteer corporation and in charge of the week long clinic. And he joins me by phone.
Sam, when you created the program, did you ever think that it would take off in a major city like L.A. and if the need would be so critical?
BROCK (via telephone): Well, good morning, Betty. Yes, I did really because, you know, despite the fact that there's been somewhat of an increase in the patients that we are seeing, actually this situation has prevailed in the United States for many, many, many decades.
And so, everywhere we go, whether it's rural America or urban America, we're going to see people in huge numbers and we just wish we could see them all. I mean, the first day here, we gave out 1,500 numbers. But in rural America, just two weeks before that, we gave out 1,600 numbers. So it's pretty consistent all over the country.
NGUYEN: Yes, and it's not just adults, it's children as well. What are some of the main problems or conditions that they are coming to you to get some kind of treatment for?
BROCK: Well, actually, they all really need, in a very large part to see a medical doctor about all kinds of things from diabetes and hypertension and so forth. But, at these clinics that we put together, they are mainly coming because they are in pain with bad teeth. They want to get their teeth fixed for free. They can't afford to go to a regular dentist for the service and they want to improve their eyesight and they simply need a pair of prescription glasses.
So basically, you might say that virtually 100 percent of the people come because they need the eye doctor, they need the dentist. But they also need the medical doctors as well. They know they can go down to the emergency room and get the medical doctor.
NGUYEN: Would you say the majority of it is pretty definitive care that they really just weren't able to get because they did not have health insurance?
BROCK: Oh, yes. 88 percent of the people we see are between the age of 29 and 66. So they have not been able to look after their teeth and their eyes during that period and stuff is deteriorating on them. And that's why we see quite a small percentage of children because the kids, fortunately can get care up until the age of 18.
NGUYEN: And quickly, how much longer can you do this? And where will you be next?
BROCK: Oh, from here, next week, we go up the road to Ft. Ducheyne (ph) Native American Reservation, and from there we got back to Appalachia (ph) and the show goes on. We have done 576 of these special operations.
NGUYEN: I know it's got to be a strain on your resources but you are dedicated to this. and you're offering free care out there. We appreciate what you do. Thanks for spending some time with us today.
BROCK: Well, thank you, Betty.
NGUYEN: Well, we had a sense, we thought, this might coming. In fact, it has happened. We have just been confirming through the office of Senator Jim Webb he that he in fact has secured the release of a U.S. man, that man, John Yettaw, from Myanmar, who was just convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, four years hard labor for illegally entering the home of the democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who was also convicted to 18 months of home detention. She, of course, is the pro democracy leader who is essentially been under house arrest an detention for the past, 14 out of 20 years.
But strange story here, this man, you're seeing there -- a Missouri man actually in May swam across a lake to get to her home there in Myanmar. She kept him for two days. He was ill. She took him in for two nights. Well, that led to trials of both of them, which concluded this week with Aung San Suu Kyi actually being sentenced to an extra 18 months of home detention by the ruling military junta there in Myanmar.
But Jim Webb, the U.S. senator from Virginia, has now made a trip to the region. He was there. We know he met with the Myanmar president. Also met with Aung San Suu Kyi. There were rumblings that maybe he might be able to go, and get this man released.
The American who was also convicted, well it turns out that yes, in fact, according to Jim Webb's office, I have a release in my hand. From his office that says and I quote here from him "I am grateful to the Myanmar government for honoring these requests. It is my hope that we can take advantage of these gestures as a way to begin laying the foundation of good will and confidence building in the future."
Now, he was not, however, it seems able to secure any kind of a release for Aung San Suu Kyi, of course, like I said, the pro- democracy leader there even though he did meet with her for about an hour this afternoon. He described that meeting as an opportunity to convey his deep respect for her. However, leave it up to the military there. The ruling military junta, what will become of her.
Now we are also getting word that he will actually be leaving with Jim Webb from Myanmar. Webb is the first, I guess, high ranking U.S. official in a decade to really meet with the junta there with the Myanmar government there. Again, this is a reclusive administration or government, I should say there since it's been under military coup for the past several years since 1962, at least.
But Aung San Suu Kyi who actually won her election back in 1990, overwhelmingly, but then because when the military would not allow her to then take office. And essentially she has been under detention for the past really 14 of the past 20 years. Again, Yettaw going to be leaving with Jim Webb from Myanmar, is going to be taken to Bangkok. Don't know from there if he will continue on with Jim Webb or he will make his way back to the United States.
Again, this man John Yettaw which a lot of people scratching their heads, said he was on a mission to god to try to go over and free Aung San Suu Kyi. That didn't happen. Didn't know exactly why he did it, but he's going to be coming home, this Missouri man. It appears Jim Webb has done what he had hope to do. I was told with reporter on the phone with me, Dan Rivers on the phone with me right now.
Dan, what else can you tell us here? Jim Webb, a successful trip, a lot would say. Some criticism for him going over there in the first place. A lot of people thought he would be getting a lot of credibility to that oppressive regime over there. However, he's going to be bringing this American home.
DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, it's certainly good news for John Yettaw's family. And it will be obviously portrayed as a great success by Jim Webb's delegation. He's not only managed to secure the release of John Yettaw but he's also managed to see Aung San Suu Kyi. That's something that even Ban Ki- moon, the Secretary General of the U.N. was unable to do. He also met the man in charge of this military dictatorship, General Than Shwe.
So, in the space of 24 hours, he's perform a bit of sort of (INAUDIBLE). He's supposed to be flying back out to Bangkok tomorrow, out time. That's later on today, your time. So we will hopefully get to speak to him as he arrives in Bangkok and possibly even speak to John Yettaw as well.
Now, you remember, John Yettaw is the man who sparked this whole incident where he swam across the lake next to Aung San Suu Kyi's house and spent two days in the house before he was detained by the authorities. And that sparked the trial resulting in her being given a further 18 months of house arrest.
HOLMES: Do we have any idea, Dan, what will come of Aung San Suu Kyi again? She got 18 months. She was really an unwilling participant in this whole thing. Did not invite the man there. He said he fell ill, and she essentially took care of him for a couple of days or some of her housekeepers there. But do we know what will come of her? We know the international outcry after she was convicted. And got another 18 months in home detention. What will come of her now?
RIVERS: Well, I mean, that's the million dollar question really. And I would be exceptionally surprised if she was allowed out of her house arrest. They have elections that are planned next year, some time next year and there was widespread speculation that this was a very convenient (INAUDIBLE) for the military dictatorship to keep her locked up during those elections. And most analysts here are saying those elections will basically be nothing more than a sham.
It will further entrench the military rule, giving it a kind of, you know, a respectable veneer of democracy. But in fact, the army will retain control. So I think they will keep her out of the picture to make sure she is no danger to them. So I think that would be very difficult for him to secure. But certainly, it's good news that John Yettaw is coming back.
It sounds like he was quite an ill man, a disturbed man, a former Vietnam veteran who had lots of seizures while he was being held. We understand he has some form of epilepsy as well. So, I think in the grounds certainly just of his health and his mental health, it sounds like it's good news that he's going to be released, presumably coming back to the United States very soon.
HOLMES: And Dan, a lot of people were not happy with Jim Webb making this trip. Even if it was seen as an overwhelming success and he gets the American out and he gets to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, fine. But a lot of people did not like the idea of a high ranking U.S. official going over and shaking hands with some of these military leaders.
The president as you mentioned a moment ago just thought this could be used to legitimize in a lot of ways an oppressive regime. What could this mean down the road? Will this -- have they historically in Myanmar used things like this, opportunities to use this as a propaganda tool or could this really be some kind of a breakthrough here?
RIVERS: Well I mean, it definitely will be used as a propaganda tool, certainly. I mean, they will, in the same way when Ban Ki-moon visited a few weeks ago, that was broke up endlessly on television and they made, you know, a great deal of that. It certainly will be used as propaganda. There's a lot of speculation as to whether, things to remember here is that Jim Webb is not there in an official capacity as part of the State Department at all.
He's there as a member of a committee in the Senate, the foreign relations committee, a subcommittee of that. He's not there representing the State Department. So this is kind of quite a balancing act (INAUDIBLE) here. It could be, possibly, a new chapter for U.S.-Myanmar relations.
Don't forget, the United States basically hasn't really got any diplomatic relations with Burma. It doesn't have an ambassador there. There are sanctions in place. The policies during the Bush years have basically been to impose sanctions, to try to turn off the trade taps of this country. But, of course, China and Russia and India have continued to trade with this regime. So the sanctions really has limited effects.
Now, there's a lot of talk of whether there's time to reappraise that policy and perhaps this is the beginning of some sort of channel or dialogue opening up. It's certainly is significant that he managed to meet Than Shwe, the man in charge. And it's certainly significant that they allowed him to meet Aung San Suu Kyi. And the release of John Yettaw was perhaps the further piece in this jigsaw puzzle that's being built up now.
HOLMES: All right. Dan, we appreciate you hopping on the horn here with us. We'll probably be checking in with you, again. And as you mentioned, Jim Webb there is not on an official State Department mission. He is a part of the foreign relations committee, the East Asia Pacific Affairs subcommittee. He serves on that.
So, not going on an official capacity with the State Department, essentially on behalf of the U.S., if you will, but still, he's a high ranking U.S. official. Also, he did get the White House blessing to go on this trip, even though he is not going officially at the behest of the president or the State Department. It was breaking news here, Betty. John Yettaw, this American, this saga, a weird saga that all started in May with him.
NGUYEN: It's been bizarre. He was n a mission from god to save Aung San Suu Kyi. I think something that Dan said that was very important to this. Yettaw is facing a lot of illnesses, physical illnesses. He had several seizures while he was waiting for that trial to end. So perhaps this was part of the whole grand scheme. Because just imagine what would have happened if did have to serve seven years in a hard labor camp, considering his health conditions.
But again, Senator Webb leaving Myanmar with the American, John Yettaw. And we will be following the story and bringing you the latest news just as soon as we get additional information. That is the headline right now and you are watching CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
NGUYEN: All right. Just a recap of breaking news this morning Senator Jim Webb has made his way over to Myanmar where he met with the military junta government there. But he also met with Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest and just recently was sentenced to another 18 months house arrest.
Because U.S. citizen, John Yettaw, was on this mission from god, he said, to protect her. Or in fact, he went into her home and was an uninvited guest. Because of all of that, it broke the conditions of her house arrest. They both were both on trial just recently. And that man right there, John Yettaw, was sentenced to seven years with hard labor.
Well, it appears that Senator Webb, on this trip there, has secured the release of American, John Yettaw. And in fact, he is bringing him back to the states. So that is the breaking news at this hour.
HOLMES: We will continue to follow that. Also, we want to continue to keep an eye on what's happening with the health care battle around the country. More claims we hear especially from people at some of those town hall meetings. Josh Levs looking into it. Checking some of these facts.
Good morning again, Josh.
LEVS: Good morning again to you guys. Let's take a look at this quickly. One we keep hearing about illegal immigrants. Here is an example from a town hall the other day.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it fair for an illegal immigrant to be eligible for health care over an older American who has paid taxes their whole life?
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LEVS: We took a look at that. A lot of people saying hey illegal immigrants are now going to be covered. The biggest bill people are looking at so far is this thousand-page bill before the House. Zoom in. Because I have it right behind me here. And I want you to see this key section right here. No federal payment for undocumented aliens. And it goes on to say nothing in this area basically, in this law will be there to provide basically coverage for individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.
This is the biggest one people are looking at. Obviously, there are still bills ahead. But we did take a look at what's out there. And take a look at our verdict right here, we got it for you. The verdict on this one is false. And I encourage you to take a look at all of our truth squads as we are hearing all these.
Claims by healthcare. You can see every single one from cnn.com/healthcare, it's just been set up. Fact check link is right there at the top. We're going to keep chasing these down, Betty and T.J., as the claims come forward. We got our verdicts for you.
NGUYEN: All right. Josh, thank you for that. And "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" with Poppy Harlow begins right now.