Friday, June 01, 2007
Too many questions on TB
Tonight, there are so many unanswered questions about Andrew Speaker and his rare case of XDR TB. I honestly thought the story was coming to a close; instead it became even more bizarre. His father-in-law, who was also on the wedding trip, is a TB researcher at the CDC. He quickly stated that he was not officially representing the CDC, but many say that is sort of missing the point. What about simply using his vast education to protect the health of the public? He was asked that but he doesn't want to talk about it anymore.
A bigger question: was Andrew Speaker really contagious or not? That really strikes at the heart of this whole issue. Remarkably after a few days, I am still hearing varying answers to this question. Turns out if you are not coughing with a fever and your sputum test -- where they actually look for bacteria in your spit -- is clear, you really aren't contagious. By that standard and according to reports from the hospital, Speaker may never have really been a threat in the first place.
That of course leads to another point. Was this whole scenario overblown? Really depends who you ask. The CDC thought it was enough of a risk that they imposed the first federal quarantine in 44 years. At a minimum though, the whole thing has exposed some serious cracks in the state of our public health system. There was not a unified approach to dealing with this single individual. I can't even imagine what it would've been like if there were suddenly 10 cases or even a hundred.
I am not satisfied with what we have learned so far, so I am flying to Denver to report on the medical center that is charged with taking care of Mr. Speaker and possibly saving his life. As a nation, we have to pay more attention to the invisible invaders that can be far more dangerous that guns or bombs. We have spoken theoretically for so long about the risk of a bio-terror attack and whether or not we would be prepared. If Andrew Speaker is any indication, this time around we blew it.
--By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
Raw politics: Gold rush
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- CNN's Tom Foreman on candidates seeking California cash, a U.S. attorney's new gig and a CIA lawsuit. (Click image at left to play video)
Thursday, May 31, 2007
A deadly school year in Chicago
28 Dead. 28 young people. Boys and girls, sons and daughters.
Since January, 28 public school students have been murdered. At least 20 were shot. Some were stabbed or suffocated. Most of the killings were gang related and took place on Chicago's south side.
Outside the city, the murders have received scant attention. Some believe it's because of race. "If these kids were dying in the wealthy white suburbs, the world would hear about it," said Arnie Duncan, the chief executive of Chicago Public Schools.
It's hard to disagree with him.
One of the young victims was 16-year-old Blair Holt. He was an honor student. He had dreams of making it big in the music business. And he was shot to death by reputed gang member who boarded a bus and opened fire. Students say Holt was protecting another student when he was shot.
Holt's father is a Chicago police officer. His mother a captain with the city's Fire Department. Both want to know when the killing will stop.
We'll be in Chicago tonight to try and understand what is happening here and around the nation. A rise in juvenile crime has contributed to rising crime statistics around the country. These kids should not be statistics however. Their names should be known, their deaths reported on around the country.
We are here to start a conversation about these kids, their deaths, their lives, and about so many other kids whose lives many of us probably don't even begin to understand.
We'll talk to Mayor Richard Daley, school officials, young residents of Chicago's South Side, and Blair Holt's father.
We'll see you tonight.
--By Anderson Cooper
Raw Politics: Watchdogs barking
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- CNN's Tom Foreman on Cheney's secrecy, Giuliani's birthday take and Clinton's endorsement. (Click image at left to play video)
The Shot: Great escape
NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN's Anderson Cooper has The Shot: a firefighter dives down a ladder just in time. (Click image at left to play video)
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Did you order the pork?
There was supposed to be earmark reform in Congress. But once again, big changes inside the beltway don't look so big to the rest of us.
"Earmark" is the term Congress uses for what most people call "pork." The "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska -- that was an earmark. The money issued to study the genome of a catfish -- that's an earmark too. Earmarks are a kind of hidden treasure, buried deep in appropriations bills, with little or no explanation and, of course, no name attached to which member of Congress asked for them.
On a recent dig for hidden treasure in federal legislation, we found $500,000 helping to remodel the top of a ski lift in Alaska. We found $96,000 of your federal taxes helping to remodel the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. And up in little Rice Lake, Wisconsin, we found a tiny airport that got $2 million to lengthen a runway so a few corporate jets could land. (There are no commercial flights at Rice Lake)
Now, we have a new Congress and a new cause -- earmark reform. To me and, I think, most Americans earmark reform would mean cutting earmarks entirely or at least limiting this pork-barrel spending. But that's apparently not what the Democratic leaders had in mind.
The reform is this: In the past, these spending requests remained secret until they were voted on, and no one ever had to attach his or her name to the request. Now, the House appropriations staff tell us, the spending requests will still remain secret, but only until the full House takes a final vote on the spending bill. Then, all the requesting Congressmen's names will be made public.
Who gets what earmarks will still be decided behind closed doors and critics, including the National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Prosperity, say by the time the public knows the name the deal will already have been done.
In other words, they're not going to cut the pork, they're just going tell us who wanted it after it's all approved.
That is what's being called the most "transparent" earmark system ever. Who called it that? The new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Wisconsin Rep. Dave Obey (D).
Yep, the same guy who got the Rice Lake airport lengthened for some corporate executives and their jets. Of course, Obey doesn't see it quite that way.
"My only apology," he wrote to us in an e-mail, "is that I can't do more for Wisconsin."
--By Drew Griffin, CNN Correspondent
Five days, same clothes, no toothbrush
The car alarms. The garbage trucks. The straphangers who crowd the doors on the subway and then lean into you as you try to squeeze past them.
Ah, it's good to be back in New York. At least when it's warm.
I just spent a few days in Greenland for our "Planet in Peril" series. We were at a place called Swiss Camp, it's a research outpost run by a scientist named Konrad Steffen out of the University of Colorado.
A more remote spot I have not been to. Nothing but ice as far as the eye could see. We all slept in tents and the toilet was a hole in the ice in an igloo. They call it the shigloo. You can guess why.
It was stunningly beautiful there, and the researchers were a great bunch - wickedly smart, but also very funny. When it's ten below zero a sense of humor is essential. I have to confess, I'm not a big fan of the cold. How cold was it? It was so cold I didn't bother to change out of my clothes for the entire five day stay. I slept fully dressed in a sleeping bag, and I didn't even bother to brush my teeth the entire time.
The scientists are there for a month. I don't know how they stand it. By the time the helicopter came to pick us up I wanted to run towards it as fast as possible. Complaining aside, it was a great experience and I learned a lot about how the ice is melting in Greenland and how it is going to affect sea levels for generations to come. We're planning to have some of what we shot on the program tonight.
I just noticed that all three New York newspapers have different headlines splashed on the covers. The Daily News has the latest on Lindsay Lohan. The Post is running exclusive photos on a baseball player's visit to a strip club (catchy title: Stray-Rod). And the New York Times is exploring the Supreme Court's ruling that limits the timeline for sexual discrimination lawsuits.
As for us, we're looking at the tuberculosis quarantine story...there now seems to be a dispute over what the TB patient knew, about how contagious he is and really-- what was going on-- if his health posed such a threat why would he not have been quarantined in the first place? Lots of questions.
And as always we're "Keeping Them Honest." Our correspondent Drew Griffin is looking at Congress' seemingly insatiable need to bring home the bacon, (your tax dollars) in the secret process known as earmarking...even when they vow again and again to be transparent about the process. (Hint: Rep John Murtha, who has been in the news for his strong opposition to the White House on Iraq, will be at the center of one of tonight's reports)
There is always something for everyone.
See you tonight.
-- By Anderson Cooper
Raw Politics: Race heats up
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- CNN's Tom Foreman has the raw politics -- topics include health care and immigration" (Click image at left to play video)
The Shot: Watch your step!
NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN's Anderson Cooper has The Shot: Miss USA takes a tumble at the Miss Universe contest. (Click image at left to play video)
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The Shot: Monster pig
NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN's John King has The Shot: An 11-year-old Alabama boy claims to have killed a 1,051-pound wild hog. (Click image at left to play video)
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