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Chrysler to File for Bankruptcy; Swine Flu Spreads; Bank of America Chairman Out; Music Helping Us Stay Healthy; One Sneeze Can Make Many Sick

Aired April 30, 2009 - 09:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning: Chrysler to file for bankruptcy. That word from an Obama administration official. We'll tell you what could be the next step for the troubled automaker.

And swine flu alert level raised. This hour, we hear from the CDC. Give you a primer on the virus and to get a look at how fast and far germs can actually travel.

Plus, new jobless numbers are a mile marker on the road to recovery. This hour, your road map to a new job.

It's Thursday, April 30th. Hi, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Back to that breaking news this morning. Right away, the future of Chrysler, an Obama administration official telling CNN the automaker will file for bankruptcy. We will get to that story momentarily.

But first, right now, we also want to begin with an update on the swine flu outbreak. We are now learning there are 91 confirmed cases spread across 10 states. More schools are shutting their doors. In fact, last night, the Fort Worth Independent School District in Texas announced it was closing all of its schools. That leaves about 80,000 students out of class at least through next week.

Nine countries are now dealing with confirmed cases. That means the H1N1 virus is now on four separate continents. The World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert level to the second highest level. The group is urging countries to ramp up efforts to produce a vaccine.

Let's get right to that new health alert level now. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Mexico City this morning.

Sanjay, the wording of the new alert level is enough to rattle some nerves, anyway, isn't it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No question, Heidi. Imminent pandemic is scary no matter how you look at it. There's a couple of things that I think are worth pointing out. Strictly defined.

We're talking about the fact that there's human-to-human transmission and that transmission is sustainable in at least two countries in one part of the world. Those countries, as you know, are the United States and Mexico. But I think more than that, as we sort of parse this down, this is sort of a call to action of pandemic preparedness, all the way from the country level to the individual level.


GUPTA: And businesses and pharmaceutical companies in between. So you're like reminding pharmaceutical companies that this may be an era of social responsibility. They need to produce more anti-virals and be able to give it to people who may not be able to get it.

I think there's another important point here, Heidi, and I think it's worth pointing out that we are talking, potentially, about how widespread this pandemic could become, not necessarily how severe.

When you think about that, I mean, in the United States, as you know, it's been mild only so far. You could get a lot of people infected, it doesn't mean that they may become very sick or die, and so just more a question of score, rather than severity. COLLINS: Yes. That's a really good point. So then I wonder, are things going to change with respect to vaccine production now that we're at this level 5 alert?

GUPTA: You know, you would think. And I've been trying to get to the bottom of that as well. I've talked to folks at the CDC. You would think that this call to action would mean there would automatically be a trigger of sorts to create a vaccine for this H1N1 or swine flu. What they tell me, look, it's not that easy. Because there's only a certain amount of manufacturing capability or vaccines in general.

So if they decide to do this they may have to strip away some of that manufacturing of the seasonal flu vaccine. And that's a problem as well, to not have enough flu vaccine, the seasonal flu vaccine, because, you know, that kills 36,000 people a year on average in the United States.

So it's really sort of a weighing of options. Having said that, being that now we're at level 5, it does seem like that's a call to action to these pharmaceutical companies and these vaccine makers alike.

COLLINS: You know and that's exactly what I was going to ask you to do for us is to remind us about the perspective. Because it's a very fine line in not wanting to downplay the concern and then also not wanting to make people terrified.

I like how you point out about what seasonal flu can do with respect to the comparison of what we're dealing with now with H1N1 2009 swine flu, yes?

GUPTA: Exactly. And you know, I think if you sort of look at the natural history of that, there is some good news in this and there's a caveat. The good news is that, as we get into the summer months, you know that flu symptoms and flu-like illnesses go down. We just don't transmit viruses as well in the summer.

So we are likely to see a decrease. We're seeing it already here in Mexico which is a precursor, I think, to the rest of the world. What I think the caveat is come fall and winter, hopefully you and your show will talk about this again, because if swine flu is still around we really have to urge all the same prevention strategy that we've been talking about so it doesn't catch hold again come fall or winter of this upcoming year.

COLLINS: Once again, our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Mexico City this morning.

Now look at this next number. Next to me. Right here. 80,000. Can you believe that? That's how many students are suddenly out of class today just in Fort Worth, Texas. The school system there shut down and working parents are now scrambling for day care alternatives.

And CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us now with a closer look at this.

Boy, that is a pretty darn big number, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Huge. You know as we're looking around the country, as best we can tell at this point, this is the largest school district to take such a drastic measure up and to this point.

They did this because one student has been confirmed with the swine flu virus. There are three other students that school officials say probably have the virus as well. So they say that they wanted to do this move as a preventive, to stay ahead of the spread of this disease and its outbreak, to keep the rest of the students healthy.

And they say they are sensitive to the calls or the accusations that they have overreacted in this sense, but school officials say they're doing what's in the best interest of the kids.


CLINTON BOND, FORT WORTH INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: I heard several interviews on the radio as I was coming in this morning and the parents admitted just as we did yesterday that this is a terrible inconvenience for everybody that is involved.

It's a tough decision to make, where you're going to put your kids when the public health officials are telling them don't go to congregate places like day care and movie theaters and that kind of a location.

So even some of our employees have to make those tough decisions. The public health officials, some of their employees have to make those tough decisions. So we understand that there just aren't exact answers for some of the questions that have materialized.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LAVANDERA: Now, Heidi, across the state of Texas, we've seen a couple of smaller school districts that have completely shut down as well but, by far, this is the largest we've seen up to this point.


LAVANDERA: And what school officials and health officials are telling us across the state is that they're struggling and balancing overreacting with not reacting at all. And here in Fort Worth, they said they'd much rather err on the side of overreacting just in case...


COLLINS: Yes, and you understand...

LAVANDERA: ... what ends up being happening.

COLLINS: Yes. You can understand that, certainly. You want to keep these kids safe. Quickly, Ed, I just wonder, you know, when kids are out of school, they are pretty excited. It's either a snow day or for some, you know, other reason. But I imagine it's a very different feeling. Have you had a chance to talk to any of the kids?

LAVANDERA: We haven't actually -- we were outside of the district's headquarters here and we imagine the students who have learned late last night that they weren't coming to school so I'm guessing they're sleeping in. We really haven't seen...


LAVANDERA: ... that many kids walking around. But the problem is, is school officials are telling people don't even go to movie theaters or go to -- you know, don't even take your kids to day care. So they're urging kids to stay home. I can't imagine they're going to find a lot of fun in that.

COLLINS: Yes. Yes. Video games, I guess. I don't know.

All right. Ed, we'll stay on top of the situation, of course, in Fort Worth with you. Thanks so much. Ed Lavandera this morning.

In the United States, the health agency monitoring the swine flu threat. Is the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So joining us now from there is Dr. Joe Bresee.

I hope I have your name correct.


COLLINS: Of the CDC's influenza division. Thanks for being with us this morning. I want to quickly get to this alert level. We are now at level 5.

BRESEE: Right.

COLLINS: What does that mean from the CDC perspective?

BRESEE: Well, I think from the CDC perspective it means a couple of things. It means that the world is taking this more seriously and so the countries know that they should start preparing immediately for new cases in their country and the spread to their country.

For CDC, we've approached this aggressively from day one. And so it doesn't change how we're approaching this investigation and this response.

COLLINS: Well, I guess the next question would be then, do you think we're going to get to this next level, the highest level, level 6?

BRESEE: I think we probably will. I think it's hard to tell what this outbreak is going to do. It's new. We're still only less than two weeks since the discovery of this virus. And so we're learning a lot about it every day. We'll follow it closely but we expect more cases to occur.

COLLINS: Well, update us, if you would then, on the progress toward a vaccine. I mean is that something that is now really being ramped up as we may, as you say, proceed to this level 6?

BRESEE: It is, indeed. We started developing a vaccine really on the first couple of days after identification of the new virus and we proceeded along those lines. And so I think we're developing quickly towards having a vaccine and quickly sort of decisions about what to do with it.

COLLINS: Well, what should people be doing then at this point? I mean we've heard over and over again wash your hands carefully, cough into your elbow here if you can, and be really careful about germs. Is that enough at this point?

BRESEE: I think those -- I think that's exactly right. We do all the things our mother told us to do growing up. We stay home when we're sick to keep from spreading it to other people. We cough into our hands, we wash our hands a lot.

The other two things I would say is listen to public health authorities. We're going to give you the advice we know. We're going to update you when we know something and we're looking at this closely.

And finally, I'd say start to plan. Plan what you do. If your kids' schools close, if your business close if you had to stay home for a while.

COLLINS: I wonder also when we discuss the WHO and the CDC, explain the relationship a little bit, if you would. How closely do you work together on this? Because clearly, the World Health Organization has a whole world and we are just the organization in the United States.

BRESEE: We work very closely with the WHO. We talk to them several times a day and CDC has some people posted at the WHO working on the influenza and so it's a very close relationship.

COLLINS: All right. Dr. Joe Bresee, we sure do appreciate your information this morning. As always we'll stay in close contact with the CDC. Thanks so much.

BRESEE: My pleasure.

COLLINS: Want to get back to some of this breaking news we are telling you about. Just a little earlier this morning Chrysler. In fact, CNN's Christine Romans has been working the story for us and joins us now from New York.

OK, so what is the new information? The White House is saying that Chrysler plans to file for bankruptcy?


The White House is confirming that there will be a Chrysler bankruptcy filing. We're expecting that today. Of course, today was the deadline for this company to show it had a plan to survive. Otherwise, it would have to go into bankruptcy.

But the way this is sort of being played is this is not the end of Chrysler. This is seen as a chance for Chrysler to maybe do a deal with Fiat and to emerge on the other side with more government guarantees and more loans so it can survive.

So what's happening here? Why is it looking like bankruptcy is likely? Well, Chrysler had, until yesterday, a chance to do a deal with its creditors. These are the people, the big banks, the hedge funds, the people who are owed money by Chrysler. There are some $7 billion in debt that Chrysler owes these creditors. They were offered 68 percent less.

The White House is saying that the big major creditors were on board, they were willing to work on this deal, they were willing to take that cut, and allow this company to survive. But some of the other creditors were not. They had a deadline until 6:00 p.m. last night and they chose to let that deadline pass.

A White House spokesman, senior administration official in a statement given to Suzanne Malveaux this morning saying that while the administration was willing to give the holdout creditors a final opportunity to do the right thing, the agreement of all the other key stake holders insured that no hedge fund could have a veto over Chrysler's future success and the White House going on to say that indeed there's been a lot of hard work from all the major parties in this company will survive and will emerge. The union, as you know, has already agreed to a bunch of concessions. Deep painful cuts for the people who are future retirees of this company and future employees. Ron Gettelfinger, UAW president, telling us that this has been a challenging time filled with anxiety and uncertainty for our membership.

Our members have respondent by accepting an agreement that is painful for our active and retired workers but which helps preserve U.S. manufacturing job and gives Chrysler a chance to survive.

And again, this is all about many of the key players saying they are hoping that it is the survival of this company, a much different and changed company but through the bankruptcy process, the survival of this company.

Listen to what the president said last night about the restructuring of the auto industry.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to run auto companies. I don't want to run banks. I've got two wars I've got to run already. I've got more than enough to do. So the sooner we can get out of that business, the better off we're going to be.


ROMANS: So what happens next if you own a Chrysler car? You know that its warranty has been guaranteed by the government through the restructuring process. If you are an employee of this company, you've already seen some painful cuts along the way and the UAW and the membership have ratified some of these painful choices.

Now the question is just waiting, waiting for a bankruptcy filing and hoping and seeing whether it is swift or whether there is last- minute brinksmanship here that's going to allow some of these holdout bondholders to maybe change their mind, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. And it's really interesting, and I don't want to put you on the spot here, Christine, but there is something else that the president said last night, too, specifically regarding Chrysler. We have a little bit of sound from here. I'd like to go ahead and play that now, too.


OBAMA: I am actually very hopeful, more hopeful than I was 30 days ago, that we can see a resolution that maintains a viable Chrysler auto company out there.


COLLINS: I thought that was a little bit confusing, because, you know, now we have this information this morning. There were some reports about it last night that it was going to happen today. Maybe he was talking about there the idea that you pointed out, that when you go into bankruptcy, it certainly doesn't mean that it's the end of the company.

I mean, we've seen other companies go into bankruptcy and emerge, as you say, but I'm not quite sure what he was talking about there.

ROMANS: Well, let me tell you something else as well. I mean there's a lot of talk this morning that maybe Fiat, which the United States government said that for Chrysler to survive it had to do a deal with Fiat.


ROMANS: An alliance with Fiat. It might be that Fiat wants to do this deal within the bankruptcy confines because it will be getting some more favorable treatment of being able to slim down some other operations or sell-off or ratify or change any other contracts that it needs to.

It's just not clear yet on that. Chrysler is not commenting this morning. Fiat is not commenting this morning. At this point, we are waiting to see what happens next. In Detroit, we're waiting to see if there is a bankruptcy filing.

The White House is saying there will be. And at noon, in less than three hours, the president can take to the microphone himself and clear up exactly what's going to happen next and when.

Again, there was a deadline last night for some holdout creditors. 6:00 deadline. That deadline passed without those creditors agreeing to take much less in return for their stake in the company. And now this other deadline was today. That is the deadline for the restructuring of this company to keep it viable.

It's looking more and more likely that survival of this company is going to depend on the bankruptcy process now.

COLLINS: Yes. Absolutely. All right. CNN's Christine Romans of the CNN money team, great job. Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

COLLINS: I know you're following this story very closely.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And good morning once again. I'm meteorologist Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center.

Sixty inches of snow in Montana and it's almost May. We're breaking records there. And the airport delays are stacking up. Weather's coming up right after the break.


COLLINS: President Barack Obama looking back and looking ahead, taking stock of the first 100 days of his presidency during a prime time news conference last night.

And CNN's White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has the highlights.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A reflective President Barack Obama on his first 100 days. Governing the United States is a lot harder than he thought. OBAMA: I am surprised, compared to where I started, when we first announced for this race, by the number of critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same time. The typical president, I , has think two or three big problems. We've got seven or eight big problems.

MALVEAUX: The most pressing one, the swine flu outbreak.

OBAMA: I've consulted with our public health officials extensively on a day-by-day basis, in some cases an hour-to-hour basis. At this point, they have not recommended a border closing.

MALVEAUX: Despite the fact Mr. Obama has greatly increased the government's role in dealing with the nation's problems including bailing out big banks and managing car companies, the president said he had little appetite for either.

OBAMA: I think our first role should be shareholders that are looking to get out, you know, I don't want to want auto companies. I don't want to run banks. I've got two wars I've got to run already. I've got more than enough to do.

MALVEAUX: He alternately pleaded and thanked the American people for their patience, while recognizing his own limitations.

OBAMA: I can't just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want. Or, you know, turn on a switch and, suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line.

MALVEAUX: But he still pledged he'd try to fulfill his promise to bring bipartisanship to Washington.

OBAMA: To my Republican friends, I want them to realize that me reaching out to them has been genuine.

MALVEAUX: But the president stood firm on his position to abandon some interrogation techniques used under President Bush, considered by many to be torture.

OBAMA: We could have gotten this information in other ways. I believe the waterboarding was torture and I think that the -- whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake. It corrodes the character of a country.


COLLINS: Suzanne Malveaux joining us now live from New York this morning.

So, Suzanne, how is this news conference different from others the president has given?

MALVEAUX: Heidi, it really was strikingly different than what we have seen in the past. President Bush liked to say he was a gut guy. He went on his gut, much of his decision-making if you agree or disagree with him that it was his job to lead the country in the direction that he saw fit. Little naval gazing.

But President Obama really seem to relish in that moment when he was asked to reflect on his first 100 days of really taking his time, a thoughtful answer. He also reiterated that he believed his election victory is really a mandate for change.

That is why he's confident in undoing many of President Bush's policies because of that, you know, whether it's torture or stem cell research or the Iraq war, that he has that mandate for change and that that's how he's going to govern for the next 100 days, Heidi.

COLLINS: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, our White House correspondent, thank you, Suzanne.

Well, it is not the end of Chrysler but there is certainly breaking news this morning. In fact, word from the Obama administration the troubled automaker will file for bankruptcy. The move will allow for a possible restructuring which could include a deal with an Italian automaker called Fiat.

We'll get more details when President Obama speaks about this coming up at noon today.

An uneasy feeling in Pakistan's most progressive city. People are afraid the Taliban's advance could mean an end to their western ways. Now they are looking for a way to join the fight.


COLLINS: There are heightened fears today over Taliban movements in Pakistan. Government troops launched a new offensive this week against Taliban fighters near the capital while anti-Taliban sentiment is also growing in other parts of the country.

CNN's Ivan Watson is joining us now live this morning from Islamabad, Pakistan.

What's the situation now this morning, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Heidi. We just returned from the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore and what we saw there was very unusual. A protest, not against America, not against the Pakistani government, which many critics accuse of being a puppet of America, but against the Taliban.

You had several hundred intellectuals, artists, writers, getting out there saying we're scared of the Taliban. They've gotten too powerful, we're afraid that they're going to take away our rights, they're going to take away women's freedom and education and music and movies, all the things that the Taliban have cracked down on. They said that the Taliban has just gone too far.

Let's take a listen to what they had to say, Heidi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUGNU MOHSIN, NEWSPAPER EDITOR: I will fight them to my last breath and to the last drop of blood in my body. I'm not scared. I want the army to protect us. That's what they are here for. I want the government to protect us. I want them to free every inch of Pakistan from the start of the Taliban.


WATSON: And we're starting to hear this in Pakistani cities, urban Pakistani saying this has gone too far, we're just not going to take it anymore. Heidi?

COLLINS: Yes. And you know when you look at those pictures, it really seems to be a courageous thing that these people are doing.

I also wonder, Ivan, if the rise of the Taliban near the capital is having a ripple effect in other parts of the country now.

WATSON: Absolutely. You know, right now, the Pakistani army is battling the Taliban in a district just 60 miles over these mountains to the northwest of here. And there is increasing tension around this one country. For instance, in the south, in the port city of Karachi, it's a huge city, Heidi.

There, there have been really deadly ethnic clashes right now. At least 27 people killed over the last 24 hours. As locals there, Urdu speaking locals, clash with ethnic Pashtons in the streets, setting fires to buses, to cars, really deadly clashes. And that's arising because the locals are accusing the ethnic Pashtons of promoting the Talibanization of their city.

The Taliban is an ethnic -- predominantly ethnic Pashton movement. So we are seeing a ripple effect, not just peaceful protests but angry, bloody clashes and riots as well.

COLLINS: Explain to us once again, Ivan, what the concern is with the Taliban getting in so close? In so close in Pakistan to the city of Islamabad?

WATSON: There are concerns. There's a lot of security on these streets. There are government security army checkpoints, sandbags on these streets. You get your car searched when you drive around Islamabad itself.

And in addition to the militants who move forward bit-by-bit, Heidi, there have been this rash of explosions, suicide bombs and attacks, not only in Islamabad in recent months but in eastern cities like Lahore, hotels, police academies, even the Sri Lankan cricket team, that kind of stuff terrifies the local population.

COLLINS: All right. Our Ivan Watson, reporting for us live this morning. We sure do appreciate that.

Ivan Watson, once again from Islamabad. Thanks, Ivan.

ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Heidi Collins. COLLINS: On Wall Street, stocks are coming off a nice rally. The major averages surged more than 2 percent yesterday after the Federal Reserve said the economy is contracting but at a slower pace. So will that optimism carry through today? We certainly hope so.

Stephanie Elam is at the New York Stock Exchange now with a look at what to expect as we wait for that opening bell.

Hi there, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi. Yes. This morning we are expecting a higher open today, after a surprise drop in new jobless claims.

The number of people filing first-time unemployment claims fell by 14,000 last week, but it's really not all good news because 631,000 people did file. That's still a really high numbers. And continuing claims hit another record high of nearly 6.3 million.

Also it is D-day for Chrysler. An administration official telling CNN the automaker will file for bankruptcy today. This after it failed to work out a deal with some of its creditors. Chrysler will still operate and it's still expected to combine with Fiat and emerge from bankruptcy rather quickly.

Over at Bank of America, shareholders voting to oust Ken Lewis from his chairman role. However, he will remain chief executive. He was criticized for B of A's purchase of Merrill Lynch.

Now on the earnings front, ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded company, said its first quarter profits will cut in half and missed expectation. Exxon got hit by lower oil and gas prices.

We got to talk about Starbucks, too. They're reporting a 77 percent drop in quarterly profits, but still beat expectations. Americans have been cutting back on luxuries like the 4 dollar cup of Joe. So to cope, Starbucks is planning to cut prices on some items in some markets.

And Eastman Kodak is also trying to adjust to the recession. The photo giants quarterly loss widen due to plunging sales. Kodak is planning to suspend its dividend, cut executive pay and force workers to take a one-week leave without any money coming in.

Well, take a look at the numbers right now. And there we go. We got a nice full start here. The Dow up 60 points -- 8245. NASDAQ already up by more than one percent. And the S&P 500 up six points right now, Heidi.

That's the latest. Back to you.

COLLINS: Hey, look at that -- 8245. I mean, we haven't really seen that number.

ELAM: Above 8200. I know, let's get excited. COLLINS: All right. OK.

Hey, Stephanie, we'll talk with you later. Thank you.

ELAM: Thanks.

COLLINS: A deadly flu hitting around the world. What you should know, what you should do to protect yourself.


COLLINS: And update on the growing swine flu outbreak. Now, the World Health Organization says the number of confirmed cases worldwide has climbed to 154 with thousands of others suspected cases. The H1N1 virus as it's called had been confirmed across nine countries and there had been eight confirmed deaths, one right here in the United States.

Dozens of schools in this country have closed now affecting 130,000 students in Texas alone. The W.H.O. has raised its pandemic alert level now to phase 5, that is the second highest level.

So what exactly is this flu? Everybody is still trying to figure that out. The government calls it by a technical name H1N1. It's a strain of the influenza virus that originates in pigs. Normally, that's where it begins and ends. But in rare cases, it can also spread to human beings. And that happens when the virus genes mutate. That's exactly what we've seen in this case.

In fact, the current strain we've been talking about also had some genes in common with the bird flu. The symptoms are similar to the regular flu bug, though. High fever, fatigue, chills, and body aches. Also nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms include coughing, headaches and a sore throat. Symptoms usually start within seven days of exposure to the virus.

And here are some tips now to keep flu from spreading. We know you've heard it before, but it is worth repeating. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, if possible. Then, of course, throw that tissue away. Wash your hands often with soap and water. And in fact, alcohol-based cleaners work just as well. And avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because that is how the germs spread.

U.S. lawmakers turn their attention to the widening swine flu outbreak. Top officials of the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services lay out there plans. We'll go live to Capitol Hill next hour with that.

Meanwhile, the first 100 days are now in the books. Last night, President Barack Obama gave us his own impression of the job he has done so far, and the number of challenges facing the White House in the future.

Here's a little of that.


OBAMA: Typical president I think has two or three big problems. We've got seven or eight big problems. And so we've had to move very quickly, and I'm very proud of my team for the fact that we've been able to keep our commitments to the American people to bring about change while, at the same time, managing a whole host of issues that had come up that weren't necessarily envisioned a year and a half ago.


COLLINS: The president giving himself a passing grade for the first 100 days.

We also ask you to weigh in. Here now some of our iReporters, and how they responded.


MICHAEL HEMMINGSON, CNN IREPORTER: On the economy, I give him an "F-minus." He's done nothing to help the economy. He's putting us -- our grandchildren in debt.

TY BLANTON, CNN IREPORTER: My feelings about his leadership for the country, I give him an "A." I think he's an outstanding image for this country.


COLLINS: We, of course, are also looking ahead to the next 100 days. Next hour, I'll be joined by a couple of members of Congress from Minnesota and Pennsylvania. I'll be talking with them about what the president needs to do to move ahead with his plans and promises.

Rob Marciano is standing by now in the severe weather center. What are we looking at today, Rob?

MARCIANO: Well, we've talked about the rain yesterday.


MARCIANO: Some video that coming in -- dramatic pictures, actually, coming out of Bear Creek, Texas, just outside of Houston and Harris County.

They had to do a little rescue here. Look at that. Those are horses in the water.

COLLINS: Oh, no.

MARCIANO: Yes. Twelve of them freaking out a bit as you can imagine, but the animal control there in Harris County got out there with the Swift Water Rescue Crews and, of course, a little food helps, and that got them out there.

COLLINS: Got them all out, huh?

MARCIANO: No worse from there. Nice work out there.

COLLINS: And cleaner now.

MARCIANO: Yes. Much cleaner. Maybe smelling a bit better.


COLLINS: All right, Rob. Thank you.

MARCIANO: All right. See you.

COLLINS: So are you looking for a job? Well, a lot of people are right there with you. So how can you stand out in the crowd? We've got some ideas, coming up.


COLLINS: Leadership changes at Bank of America. Shareholders booted Ken Lewis from his role as chairman yesterday. For now, though, he will remain on as chief executive officer. Lewis is being replaced by long-time Bank of America director Walter Massey. He's a former president of Morehouse College.

As we told you earlier, the number of people applying for unemployment is dropping, but the numbers still collecting benefits is up. They simply cannot find a job. So how can you get an edge over the competition because there's a lot out there?

Our personal finance editor Gerri Willis has a few ideas on that.

Good morning to you, Gerri.


Yes, the first thing you want to do, Heidi, is get your resume on the top of the pile, right?


WILLIS: And just applying on the company's Web site really doesn't get you anywhere. The percentage of online applications viewed by an actual human being -- it's only 5 percent to 25 percent. These companies use software programs to screen candidates so when you're writing your resume and cover letter, use the same phrases or key words you find in the job description. Reference in particular project -- maybe that the company is doing. So you can get that resume at the top of the heap.

Now you can also pump up your online resume to catch potential employer's eye. One great Web site here,, where you can create an online resume filled with videos, pictures, audio, and, Heidi, it's free.

COLLINS: All right.

WILLIS: Yes. COLLINS: Well, that's very interesting.

Talk to us through about some of these social networking sites that people seem to be using.


COLLINS: The better ways and worse ways to actually employ some of those?

WILLIS: Well, most people don't do much with it once they are signed on.


WILLIS: If you're using one of these sites to get noticed, make sure you're using all of the tools, don't just create a linked-in profile. Join the groups, post comments, actively update, and when you're on Facebook, diligently search for job listings in the Facebook marketplace. You can message hiring managers directly.

And finally, don't underestimate applying to places where you know somebody. You can actually physically hand your resume to whoever is in charge of hiring. It's easy to get lost in the online shuffle. Inboxes overflow so getting a resume on a desk can go a long way towards scoring the interview and that's what you want to do - Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. And it really seems important that people realize that it may sound like a lot of work to do, all of that updating, but this should be sort of the job that you are doing right now. And when you are looking for a job, that should be the job because it takes a long time to do all that.

WILLIS: Right.

COLLINS: But, hey, it's important because if you do get that coveted interview, you're going to be really happy you took the time.

WILLIS: Right. It's an investment. I think you're absolutely right. And the next thing you need to do is figure out the interview. Deconstruct the interview. So a great way to do that is actually to grill people who have been through the interview process.

Look, even if you don't know an insider, you can use online resources to get tips on specific companies. I recently sat down with the CEO of This is great Web site, where you can get salary details for specific employers, interview tips from people who have actually sat in the hot seat.

Listen to this.


ROBERT HOHMAN, CEO, GLASSDOOR.COM: You can see exactly the process you're going to go through. So you're going to talk to one person. Is it going to be a panel? Is it going to be a multiphase interview? Then you can see exact questions that have been asked of other job candidates in the exact position that you're interviewing for. And you just sit down and think about those questions and prepare your own answers to them. So that you're sharp when you get to the interview.


WILLIS: All right. So that's a great Web site. Also check out This is a paid service to connect with professionals in the multitude of fields for more interviewing tips.

Online is a great way to go when you're looking for those little helps. So shortcuts to help you get that job.

COLLINS: All right. Our personal finance editor Gerri Willis. A lot of people out there looking for tips.

Thank you, Gerri, very much.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

COLLINS: Think covering your nose when you sneeze is a good way to stop the spread of germs? Well, think, again. How one sneeze can make so many people sick.


COLLINS: A whole lot going on this morning. And we have crews working to bring you everything you need to know. Let's go ahead and check in now with some of our correspondents.

Beginning with you, Ted, in Mexico this morning.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, Mexico City, of course, is the city on earth that is feeling this flu epidemic more than anywhere else. Coming up at the top of the hour, we will take you to the tiny village outside Mexico City, where many people think this all began - Heidi.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans in New York, where we are awaiting a bankruptcy filing by Chrysler. The White House says Chrysler will file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. Maybe today, the president is going to talk to the nation about what happens next for Chrysler and the auto industry in just a couple of hours. We'll have that at the top of the hour - Heidi.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Elizabeth Cohen here in Atlanta. And in this week's "Empowered Patient" segment, I'll be empowering you with the information about swine flu. Just how contagious is it, and how close you have to be to someone who has it for you to get the disease as well.

I'll have that at the top of the hour.

COLLINS: Oh, good question. All right, guys. Thanks so much. We will also look at some of the challenges ahead for the Obama administration. Two members of Congress joining us right here in the NEWSROOM.

But first, you might be surprised of how music can reduce your stress level. CNN's Melissa Long explains.


MELISSA LONG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Whether it's country or classical, bebop or hip-hop, music can be good for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just like the way it sounds and the way it makes me feel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes me feel very uplifted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we usually listen to music to feel good, don't we?

LONG: We do. And now studies have shown not only can music calm the savage beast, but can help us stay healthier as we age.

DR. MICHAEL MILLER, CARDIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICAL CENTER: Turns out that music may be one of the best de-stressors, either by playing an instrument or even listening to music.

LONG: No matters if were 30, 40, or 50, relief from stress is important, but it's particularly helpful for young people constantly on the go. Pop some earphones on and music can help our cardiovascular systems and calm us down. In a recent report by researchers at The University of Maryland Medical Center, 30- somethings who listen to their favorite tunes found their blood vessels actually opened wider when doctors took images of their circulation system.

MILLER: The inner lining of the blood vessel relaxed, opened up, and produced chemicals to do this that are protective to the heart.

LONG: Which keeps our blood pressure in check and our heart healthy.

MILLER: It gives us an overall feeling of good well-being, a sense of euphoria in some cases.

LONG: As we get into middle age, hardening of the arteries known as arteriosclerosis becomes a problem. Stress can make our arteries rigid, because music widens the vessel, it can actually help prevent the condition which could keep us feeling younger. MILLER: Music helps to reduce the complexities of changes within our arteries. Thereby, we would like to believe that it may slow down the aging process.

LONG: Feeling down, music is a pick-me up. As we listen, the emotional high caused by music releases endorphins into our system, those brain chemicals have been shown to fight depression as well as help the body heal if we're ill.

Doctors recommend when enjoying music, vary the selection. If we listen to the same song over and over again, we'll lose the effect of the melody. And watch the volume. Studies have shown that listening to music especially with headphones on can lead to a loss of hearing long before you're in your golden years.

For today's 30, 40, 50, I'm Melissa Long.



COLLINS: How can a virus like swine flu spread so quickly? It's as easy as forgetting to cover your nose when you sneeze. Here now is CNN's Randi Kaye with the travel-log of a germ.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With swine flu so close to home, riding the subway these days makes New Yorkers think twice, so many commuters wondering, can I get it?

So, we asked Dr. Len Horovitz to ride the rails with us and help us understand the power of a single cough or sneeze. All it takes is one good achoo to send well over 40,000 droplets barreling in your direction at about 100,000 miles an hour. They can quickly make dozens of commuters within a few feet very sick.

If a person used his hand to cover his sneeze, look out.

(on camera): So, if someone sneezed and then grabbed this pole to hang on to, they're going to leave germs behind. And then, say, I come along to hold on to this pole. I'm going to pick up those germs without even knowing it. Then, say, maybe I come over here to sit down and I touch my hand to this seat. Well, I'm going to leave those germs behind for the next unsuspecting commuter. And it spreads from there.

(voice-over): And Dr. Horovitz, a specialist in respiratory illnesses, says, germs are so hearty, they can survive overnight.

DR. LEN HOROVITZ, PULMONARY SPECIALIST, LENOX HILL HOSPITAL: The viral particles can stay alive for up to 24 hours. So, somebody tomorrow morning gets on the subway, touches it, touches their face, introduces it into their body, and they have got it.

KAYE: That could mean hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people end up sick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I carry my -- my cleaning -- my hand sanitizer in my purse.

KAYE: Some riders touch their face, rub their eyes, maybe even eat before ever washing their hands. HOROVITZ: When you touch your face, you're essentially smearing the germ onto your face, and any opening, your nose, your mouth, your eyes, is a place where the germ could get into your body and start to incubate, and multiply, and cause infections.

KAYE (on camera): Just because that sneeze occurred on the subway doesn't mean the germs stayed there. Say the person who sneezed stops at the metro card machine to buy a subway card before leaving the station. Well, he's going to leave those germs right on that machine for the next person.

(voice-over): And it's not just subway riders. Anyone commuting by car or foot may use a germ-covered hand to open an office door or office refrigerator. Maybe they're even sharing your computer.


In a world where germs are the enemy, it's time to suit up for battle and keep your soap handy.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.