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Aired October 18, 2001 - 04:31   ET


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And welcome to this edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Shelley Walcott.

United States House leaders shut down their chambers to allow for a thorough anthrax check. The move came after Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle announced that more than two dozen people in his office tested positive for anthrax exposure. In an adjacent office, Senator Russ Feingold says three of his aides tested positive for exposure. Daschle's office received a letter tainted with anthrax on Monday.

Eileen O'Connor brings us up to date on the investigation.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Investigators are relieved that the samples tested so far from letters sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and NBC anchor Tom Brokaw indicate it is a naturally occurring strain of anthrax, that has not been genetically altered, and is responsive to antibiotics, information helpful to investigators.

LARRY JOHNSON, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: So when you find that it's actually responsive to all of those, that's more likely that it came out of some laboratory, that it was commercially available, as opposed to being manufactured for the express purpose of killing people.

O'CONNOR: Which points away from a strain manufactured in a state sponsored biological weapons labs. Experts say even with the size of spores found, of one to two microns, a college-level biochemistry background is all that's required to figure out how to produce similar samples, lengthening the list of possible suspects.


JOHN ASHCROFT, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: And we have similar delivery and there are a lot of things that are in common but we're not in a position to be able to make an announcement about responsibility.


O'CONNOR: Another source of leads investigators will look at, what strain is involved. Tests indicate the same strain was used to produce the Florida and New York spores. Knowing the strain can lead to the source, the lab from where it was bought or stolen.

DR. LARRY BUSH, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Just like I said that you can figure print humans, you can do genetic testing and other testing on the organisms to see if they're the same. That would suggest that it's an unlimited group.

O'CONNOR: And investigators are also having to rely on good old- fashioned police work.

JOHNSON: You're -- they're sitting down and they're analyzing the envelopes. If anybody licked those to seal them, you're going to get a DNA take, and the DNA is going to give you some clues. There's probably fingerprints on there. They're going to be looking at that. The other thing is if you -- going back through videotapes, you know, people walking in to post office.

O'CONNOR (on camera): Still, the fact that this anthrax scare comes right on the heels of the September 11 attacks means two possibilities -- a connection or an opportunist taking advantage of a vulnerable nation.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.


WALCOTT: The Food and Drug Administration has approved two existing antibiotics for the treatment of anthrax, they are doxycycline and penicillin. Now both drugs are available in the generic form making them cheaper to buy. Until Wednesday, Cipro had been the only approved treatment.

Liz George will tell us more about the new demands for medical products in a minute.

But first, CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has details on Cipro, a drug now in very high demand.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's enough Cipro available now to give two million Americans a full course to treat anthrax. Through all the anthrax cases and false alarms of the past few weeks, only around 4,000 Americans have been offered the drug. A big cushion in the stockpile for now, but most experts believe we should have much more.

Bayer, the U.S. arm of the German company that manufacturers Cipro, has increased production from 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But health officials are concerned that still won't meet the demand for Cipro.

Promising more doses and lower costs, Senator Chuck Schumer is offering another solution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: If the government buys the generic drug from generic manufacturers, we'll be able to stockpile twice as much Cipro at half the cost.


GUPTA: The concern, that America is overly dependent on one company for the supply of a critical drug. Currently, Bayer has a patent that lasts until 2003 and the FDA would have to sign off on any new drugs, but Senator Schumer is optimistic.


SCHUMER: A federal law, specifically 28 U.S. Code Section 1498, allows the government to make these purchases for manufacturers other than the patent holder which in this case is Bayer.


GUPTA (on camera): The supply and demand of Cipro highlights a fine balance between the jitteriness of patients and the judgment of doctors. Even with a plentiful supply of Cipro, many physicians will continue to caution against taking the antibiotic unless they have good reason to believe patients have been exposed.


TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECRETARY: You should not take Cipro unless you really are infected with some kind of an infection and because you're going to build up a degree of immunity to it so if you need it in the future, you won't have the same effect. And there are some side effects for taking Cipro and other antibiotics when you don't them.


GUPTA (voice-over): Production has been stepped up from an expected 15,000 doses being ready in one year to one million. BioPort, the only U.S. manufacturer of the vaccine, is awaiting FDA approval before it begins shipping.

To date, there have been very few cases of anthrax in the United States since September 11, yet health officials continue to devise plans to increase our supply of antibiotics and vaccine. While the availability of these medications may protect and treat against anthrax, they also provide another very important therapy, a simple peace of mind.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.



LIZ GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This equipment tests for anthrax, among other things. It's what the armed forces use in the field when faced with biological weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This collects a very large volume of air continuously, turns that into a liquid sample which is then fed into this piece of equipment which is a continuous flow biological detection system.

GEORGE: It costs around $78,500 for each detector, and BioTrace, which last year earned around a quarter of its income from sales of this equipment to the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense, is now seeing inquires coming from all areas as the terrorist threat of biological attacks on civilians increases.

IAN JOHNSON, CEO, BIOTRACE: I can certainly see more use for civil defense and possibly equipment being used for protection of buildings, protection of large public meeting places, et cetera.

GEORGE: The system was developed as an offshoot to BioTrace's main business, manufacturing food hygiene testing equipment. But since September the 11th, there's been a significant increase in the number of inquiries, most coming from the U.S., and BioTrace's share price has risen sharply.

And it's not just the hardware, people as well as governments are stocking up on anti-anthrax drugs as well. Bayer, which makes the antibiotic Cipro, has said production of the active ingredient for the drug would increase by 25 percent next month.

TREVOR JONES, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, ABPI: The risk of course of this becoming a problem is very, very slim. And even when you try and disperse anthrax, it's very, very difficult to do so I think one shouldn't overreact to the situation.

GEORGE: But as the number of anthrax cases rise, individuals, companies and governments are reassessing the ways in which they can protect themselves now and in the future.

(on camera): It's not inconceivable to think that one day equipment like this might well be as familiar to us as closed circuit television cameras are, and companies like BioTrace are working on making it smaller and lighter. And in fact, one day we might even be able to have our own portable bacteria detector attached to us like a badge, however, even thinking about that is rather shocking.

Liz George, CNN in Bridgend, Wales.


WALCOTT: The anthrax investigation takes on urgency with each new case but this isn't the first time the United States has had an anthrax scare. In 1957, several workers at a New Hampshire factory developed anthrax infections. The fear that resulted from that incident still lingers.

David Mattingly has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANITA JETTE, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: He was a hard worker and he could do anything.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At age 49, textile worker Antonio Jette had never missed a day of work in the Sprawling Mills of Manchester, New Hampshire. He couldn't afford to with seven children to feed. So when he came down with what seemed like a cold the Saturday before Labor Day 1957, no one thought much of it.

JETTE: He started to cough and cough for a couple of days then he came down with fever and that's the way it started.

MATTINGLY: It was the start of a swift and devastating turn. Four days later, Jette was in the hospital, comatose, ravaged by a mysterious infection. The next morning, to the disbelief of his daughter, Anita, he died.

(on camera): You never heard the word "anthrax"?

JETTE: No, not until my father had it. And it was more than a year before we finally got to know a lot about it.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): What the Jettes didn't know was that in those days, anthrax was common at textile mills. Throughout centuries, handlers of wool and animal skins have been at risk of developing ugly sores and rashes. Cutaneous anthrax, it's called, easily curable with antibiotics.

But Antonio Jette died from a different, rare and deadly form -- inhalation anthrax. At the time, only nine people had come down with the disease in the United States since 1900. All had died. And Jette wasn't alone. There were now five cases in one town, at one mill, at one time.

DR. PHILIP BRACHMAN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Having this collection in one factory is an event that's never happened before nor since in the United States.

MATTINGLY: In 1957, Philip Brachman was a young epidemiologist working for the CDC, charged with hunting down this deadly bacteria.

BRACHMAN: Well, you wonder whether it's going to be confined within the one building or in the company or is it something that might be spreading out into the community, worried about whether there'd be fatalities involved in it and just how to explain it so that one could control.

MATTINGLY: What Brachman found was alarming. There were nine workers infected with anthrax at the Arms Textile Mill, four, with cutaneous anthrax, five with the deadly inhalation form. Out that five, four died, all within days of developing symptoms and pinpointing the source took weeks.

Eventually, the trail led to bails of goat hair, like you see in this picture, part of a single contaminated shipment from Pakistan. And while this was going on, how did the public react? Perhaps equally disturbing. The public, at large, didn't know. The mill didn't close. Workers kept working.

JOHN CLAYTON, "MANCHESTER UNION LEADER": Even though there was a great grapevine in place amongst the different mills, there was no talk about this. I asked my folk and they -- there's no recollection of it because it was kind of kept quiet.

MATTINGLY: John Clayton is a columnist for the "Manchester Union Leader." He speculates that a post-war belief in government might have kept people calm.

CLAYTON: And since the Center for Disease Control was involved, there may have been an implicit trust in the people who were taking part. So it wasn't talked about much.

MATTINGLY (on camera): The epidemic could have been worse. But by coincidence at the time, the CDC was conducting field studies on a new anthrax vaccine at the mill. About a third of the mill workers had been vaccinated and during the outbreak, not one of these workers was infected.

(voice-over): Antonio Jette started working at the Arms Mill too late to join in the vaccine study. Even if he had been able to, he might not have seen the need.

JETTE: Well, in them days, we didn't think like they do today. You had something, you got over it and that's it. We had no idea how serious a disease this was.

MATTINGLY: After the outbreak, all workers at the Arms Mill were vaccinated. Inhalation anthrax disappeared. But anthrax spore remained in the mill environment.

The first news accounts of the outbreak finally appeared almost a year later. So when the mill went out of business in the 1960s, anthrax was no longer a community secret. And officials ordered the still-contaminated buildings destroyed.

BRACHMAN: If they had just torn it down as it were, you could have created aerosols of spores, which could've resulted in disease among people breathing in that air. So that to protect the environment and to protect people, you have to decontaminate.

MATTINGLY: The entire mill was pressure washed, treated with formaldehyde, dismantled, and burned in special incinerators. What they couldn't burn, like the millions of bricks, they treated again in chlorine and buried.

Today, the mill site is a parking lot in River Front Park. The buried bricks? They're a parking lot, too, next to a soccer field. But even this wasn't enough to erase a now 44-year-old anthrax epidemic from the public conscience. Manchester health director Frederick Russo.

FREDERICK RUSSO, MANCHESTER HEALTH DIRECTOR: Today, we're looking for that absolute protection from anything, whether it be a food-borne illness, the flu, or what have you. So anthrax, I think, has a different scare today than it would have back in the '50s.

MATTINGLY: And it's a scare relived now with every new anthrax event. In sharp contrast to a simpler time when a town went about its work, while a deadly disease silently took four lives.

JETTE: You have to go on with your life. You have to take of your families. You just can't sit and worry about it, because it will not help you. You're just hoping and praying that you are not in harm's way and that others aren't either.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segment that fits your lesson plan. Plus there are discussion questions and activities and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day find hot links to other online resources...



POWELL: ... this particular regime that has driven this country to such devastation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As for the Taliban itself, they deny they're ready to consider joining a wider government.

HABIB ALLAH FOUZI, TALIBAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REPRESENTATIVE: This is part of the American policy and policy of other countries that to create division amongst Muslims and especially in the Taliban government. This news and this talk has no basis, and we hope and believe that it -- it's not going to be true in the future either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It remains to be seen how long the Taliban can hold out against the ongoing attacks by U.S.-led forces. They are coming under increasing attack by opposition forces called the Northern Alliance as well.

As Chris Burns reports, leaders of those forces will be demanding their own role in any new government.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They left Kabul in ruins five years ago, the so-called Northern Alliance, five main factions, some led by warlords who quarreled among themselves. They helped to make Afghanistan a textbook example of a failed state a government that crumbled amid interethnic fighting. The Taliban movement drove the warlords out of all but 5 to 10 percent of the country. The Taliban's harsh hard-line Islamic regime imposed a kind of order that isolated them internationally.

The Northern Alliance says it is different now. It calls itself the United Front, its name even suggesting an effort to broaden its ethnic appeal. What slowed the flow of weapons to the United Front are international fears the front could split again and that factional fighting could break out if and when the Taliban fall.

CHRISTOPHER LANGDON, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: They will all be seeking their own objectives post-conflict and there will be (INAUDIBLE) fighting unless there is a cohesive government brought together by the West.

BURNS: Western diplomats have therefore persuaded the Northern Alliance to agree to join in talks in Rome on sharing power with other Afghan groups. The United Front claims to represent all ethnicities, including the country's largest, the Pashtun, but the Front is dominated by Tajiks and Uzbeks.

Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah with Pashtun roots is a member of the main Tajik Party. He says the United Front is open to forming a broad-based governing coalition with reservations.

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, NORTHERN ALLIANCE FOREIGN MINISTER: Moderate people, yes. Moderate passions, yes. Moderate Afghans, yes. Moderate Taliban, I don't know.

BURNS: Still, the United Front accepted plans for an interim government in which exiled King Mohammed Zahir Shah could play a role. Zahir Shah is like the majority of the Taliban, a Pashtun.

United Front officials blame Pakistani's support of fellow Pashtun in Afghanistan for the fighting in Kabul five years ago. They're still wary of Pakistani influence. Pakistan's president, in turn, is wary of the Northern Alliance.

(on camera): Afghanistan has a long history of shifting ethnic alliances, civil conflicts and wars against international intervention, that's why state building in this country is likely to be a messy process but necessary if the international community wants to bring order to this land, a land where Osama bin Laden has been able to roam free.

Chris Burns, CNN in northern Afghanistan.


WALCOTT: Despite U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan and news of an anthrax scare sweeping the nation, President Bush is going ahead with a five day trip to China to attend the Asian Pacific Economic Summit in Shanghai. Now before leaving, the president stressed one of his main objectives will be to shore up the support of other world leaders in the war against terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... is to remind them that evil knows no borders, no boundaries and remind them that we must take a stand. That those of us who have been given the responsibility of high office must not shirk from our duty. That now is the time to claim freedom for future generations.


WALCOTT: During his visit to Shanghai, the president is expected to meet privately with the leaders of China, Russia and Japan. In those meetings, the subjects of economic relations and trade will be addressed, but the majority of their discussions are expected to center around the war on terrorism.

John King reports on what the president will ask of his Asian allies beyond what has already been promised.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's time in Shanghai will be dominated by the war on terrorism and the important role for Asia as the campaign expands.

LEE HAMILTON, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Terrorism now becomes the linchpin of American foreign policy. Suddenly, quickly, our whole foreign policy now turns around a different axis, terrorism, not other matters.

KING: The 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum include several countries with active terrorist networks the United States says have ties to Osama bin Laden.

DANA DILLON, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It's an opportunity to go in and find out or to shift the war focus from Afghanistan to finishing off the terrorists inside Southeast Asia and other countries in Asia, although Southeast Asia is really the second front for this war.


KING: The Abu Sayyaf network is based in the Philippines, where the government is working closely with the Bush White House. Anti- American protests are now a staple in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.


KING: U.S. frustration with President Megawati turned to anger this week as she criticized the U.S. strikes on Afghanistan. Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia are viewed as key players in the effort to find and freeze the assets of terrorist groups. Russia and China important voices as the campaign expands beyond Afghanistan.

DILLON: We have to talk to these countries. We have to understand that they have different priorities than we have. But nonetheless, we still have to be very firm and say we are fighting the terrorists. We're going to fight them wherever we find them and we want you with us. KING: The Shanghai gathering will produce a strong condemnation of terrorism and new promises of help in the financial crackdown.

(on camera): Terrorism will be the overwhelming focus of the president's trip, but the economy will be more than an afterthought. The slowdown in Asia is contributing to the slowdown here in the United States and vice versa. So the leaders will look for ways to work together, if possible, to give the global economy a boost.

John King, CNN, the White House.


WALCOTT: More on the economy and more from Shanghai as we turn to a Chinese flag factory. The events of September 11 have affected people around the world. For example, at a factory in Shanghai, China, it's meant a change in what workers are making on their assembly line.

CNN's Student Bureau's Violet Fong reports on the production of the stars and stripes.


VIOLET FONG, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): When the attack happened on September 11, Chinese flag companies were busy making extra Chinese flags for the October 1 National Day Holiday, but several companies quickly changed to make U.S. flags.

WU GUOMIN, SHANGHAI MEI LI HOA FLAG CO. (through translator): We didn't expect to receive so many orders after the terrorism attack. We began to receive orders right after September 11. The total sales volume, including the orders home and abroad, is up to two million U.S. dollars.

FONG: Most of the flags are going to new clients in New York City and Los Angeles. The factory sells each 3 x 5 foot flag for 2 U.S. dollars. Wu says they will go for up to $10 each in American stores. Workers are sewing nonstop trying to satisfy the demand by late October and more orders are still coming in.

TANG WEIQING, FLAG MAKER (through translator): I've been working overtime for two weeks.

FONG: How many hours do you work per day?

WEIQING (through translator): I work 12 hours on average.

FONG: How many flags can you sew everyday?

WEIQING (through translator): About 200 to 300 flags.

FONG: The Mei Li Hoa factory is the only one in Shanghai that uses mechanical looms, but many smaller workshops are making U.S. flags by hand. And while American companies in the United States are ordering more U.S. flags from factories in Shanghai, people in Shanghai are also looking for U.S. flags.

Who usually comes to buy U.S. flags?

GAO LIZHEN, STORE CLERK (through translator): Oh many people, basically Chinese foreigners and Chinese-Americans.

FONG: How's your sale recently?

LIZHEN (through translator): Sales increased rapidly, especially U.S. flags which have been sold out in some other stores.

FONG: Goa works on the street famous for tea and flag stores. Many of her customers are not only celebrating the Chinese National Holiday but sharing their sorrow with Americans as well.

TANG BO, CUSTOMER (through translator): I'm buying both Chinese and American national flags. I represent a U.S.-China joint venture. We always buy Chinese national flags to celebrate the National Holiday. The U.S. flag is a memory of those wounded and killed in the attack.

FONG: It is still unclear what percentage of U.S. flags are made in China, but with the numbers booming recently, China is for sure helping Americans show the spread of love and solidarity.

Violet Fong, CNN Student Bureau, Shanghai, China.

WALCOTT: We'll have more on the stars and stripes next week, including tips on how to fly the flag.

We're not here tomorrow, but we'll be back on Monday. See you then. Bye-bye.




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