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Queen of Daytime TV to Quit; The Oprah Effect; Hasan Hearing Tomorrow; Radical Cleric Preaches Jihad; Screening for Extremism in the Army

Aired November 20, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're taking a closer look at some chilling messages from a radical cleric.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. After 25 seasons on the air, the queen of daytime TV will give up her well worn sofa. But the end of "The Oprah Show" -- that doesn't necessarily mean the end of Oprah Winfrey's broadcasting career.

CNN's Kareen Wynter has more on the media mogul's announcement today and her next move -- Kareen?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Oprah Winfrey's announcement about her impending departure marks the end of an era for a media mogul embarking on an exciting new chapter.



OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: Welcome to the very first national Oprah Winfrey show.


WYNTER: Back in 1986, she was a little known talk show host making her national debut. Today, Oprah Winfrey is a one woman multi- media conglomerate and everyone knows her on a first name basis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oprah has been on the air for -- forever. And she's just kind of a part of everyone is life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she is an icon.

WYNTER: Many Oprah fans tell me they're shocked by her decision to pull the plug on her show next September. She told her audience and viewers at home that they've enriched her life beyond measure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When cameras were done rolling and she came back and said, you know, I just -- I really do want to thank everybody and it means -- you know, you mean so much to me. So she said it again, which was really nice.

WYNTER: It was vintage Oprah -- relatable and emotional. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: everybody seemed pretty sad and got emotional with her. I got a little teary-eyed and...

WYNTER: (on camera): You did?





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. She had to catch her breath and she got emotional. Big day.

WYNTER: (voice-over): There are restrictions on showing you the video just yet, but here's a taste of what Oprah told her viewers: "Why walk away and make next season the last," she asked?

"Here's the real reason. I love this show. This show has been my life and I love it enough to know when to say good-bye. Twenty- five years feels right in my bones and it feels right in my spirit."

Winfrey has been the highest rated daytime talk show host for most of her quarter century on national TV. We watched her chat with celebrities.

WINFREY: I've never seen you like this.

WYNTER: Surprise her audience.


WYNTER: Build an empire and endorse a president in her spare time. There were embarrassments, like the Oprah Book Club selection that turned out to be bogus. But for most of her fans, it's always been all about Oprah, her longtime struggle with her weight speaking volumes about her "I'm a lot like you" appeal.


WINFREY: I am mad at myself.

I am embarrassed. I can't believe I'm still talking about weight.


WYNTER: Oprah's common touch has given her the Midas touch. She's worth an estimated $2.7 billion. She's sinking some of her fortune into a new cable TV venture, the Oprah Winfrey Network. It's scheduled to debut in January, 2011, just a few months after she ends her reign as the queen of daytime talk.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: I don't think I could be here without her. I think she has blazed a trail that is...


DEGENERES: ...she's an amazing, amazing woman.


WYNTER: (on camera): We heard how emotional Oprah was during today's show. But, Wolf, she was even more emotional when she broke the news to her staff late last night. She showed them clips of the finales of landmark TV shows like "Cheers," "Seinfeld" and "The Cosby Show" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kareen Wynter, thanks.

She's in Chicago.

And as she said, she turns books into best-sellers, entrepreneurs into millionaires. They call it "the Oprah effect."

Let's talk about Oprah Winfrey's unprecedented impact on the entertainment industry and even politics.

Howard Kurtz is a writer for "The Washington Post," also the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" -- Howie, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: How influential has Oprah Winfrey been?

KURTZ: I don't think there's anybody that can even touch her in television, Wolf. She -- her show was, you know, a destination for everybody from the aspiring authors who wanted that big boost to celebrities in rehab, who were coming out of rehab, and politicians who need some image rehab. That's why Sarah Palin this week started her TV blitz with "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

And I -- I just think that her influence transcends television and she really has become, as we saw in that setup piece, a cultural figure.

BLITZER: How has she done it?

How has she grown into this amazing force in America?

KURTZ: Well, you know, people forget, Wolf, that when Oprah Winfrey started her show, the whole talk television genre was seen as slight -- kind of working the tawdry side of the street. But there came a point when she decided to be more uplifting and to take a more positive route to dealing with people's problems.

And, you know, she -- she -- she -- you could just see the emotion oozing out of her. She laughed. She cried. She discussed her own problems. And so millions of women felt like she was their friend. She was a part of their lives. She was appointment television. And I think that is a big part of her success.

BLITZER: But the -- the fact that she's amassed, what, $2.5 billion -- that's with a B -- $2.5 billion, it means she's been an incredibly savvy businesswoman, as well.

KURTZ: Yes. That's part of the -- the understated story here, is that that she became this sort of Fortune 500 company who could launch other people's careers merely by anointing them -- Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, Dr. Oz. Those are all sort of Oprah creations. And it is really striking to me -- you know, we should not -- first of all, she's going to be there for two more years, so that's amazing in and of itself, that it's such a big story that it landed on the front page of "The New York Times" today.

But beyond that, Oprah is not going away. She's going to make her living in front of a camera, perhaps on her new cable network, which this, of course, provides quite a publicity boost for.

BLITZER: She endorsed Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton. As you point out, Sarah Palin decided to launch her book on Oprah's show. She's been a force in politics, even though she's been reluctant to get too much involved, at least until Barack Obama's campaign.

KURTZ: Yes. And there were some who had their doubts that it was a good idea for Oprah to step into a more partisan role by endorsing Obama. But I was struck by what an event that was. All the political reporters covered it, you know. Not many talk show hosts could get that kind of reaction.

But I think she then steered away from politics after having made a couple of appearances with then candidate Obama, because she wants to appeal to the broad mass of America and not just those who happen to like the president.

BLITZER: Howard Kurtz.

Thanks very much, Howie, for coming in.

KURTZ: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Howie, I assume -- I think he's going to have more on "Oprah's" departure Sunday on "RELIABLE SOURCES." It airs only here on CNN, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Catch it if you can -- and I think you -- you should.

Jack Cafferty is here.

We're going to catch him while we can, as well -- Jack...

CAFFERTY: I'm -- I'm...

BLITZER: Jack, were you ever a guest on Oprah's show?


BLITZER: I was once. CAFFERTY: You were?

BLITZER: Once. On the eve of the millennium, back in December of 1999. If you remember, a lot of fear at that time that it was all over for all of us, as you recall.

CAFFERTY: What do you mean if I remember?

BLITZER: Of course you remember.

CAFFERTY: You mean if I remember the eve of the millennium?

BLITZER: I remember. She invited me to come on and talk about what Washington was really going to do to make sure that we all survived.

CAFFERTY: Well, no. I never had the pleasure.

Rudy Giuliani may have his eye on becoming the next U.S. senator from the State of New York. "The Daily News" reporting that the former New York mayor strongly considering a run next year for Hillary Clinton former Senate seat, which is now filled by the Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand.

Giuliani's spokeswoman says he hasn't made up his mind yet. Quoting now: "Rudy has a history of making up his own mind and he has no problem speaking."

Adding, that when he decides, he will tell New Yorkers on his own.

The Republican National Congressional Committee says it would be not be appropriate to comment on any unannounced candidates, although they say any credible Republican could have a shot at capturing New York's Senate seat.

Giuliani had earlier been considering a run for governor, but reports say he decided against that. Some suggest it's because he would likely have lost the governor's race to the potential Democratic candidate, Andrew Cuomo, while he may have a better chance to win this Senate seat.

"The Daily News" also reports that Giuliani could use a U.S. Senate seat -- assuming he won it -- as a stepping stone to run for president in 2012.

Well, been there, done that -- and not very well, either.

In 2008, Giuliani was an early favorite for the Republican nomination, but he self-destructed when he decided against putting a lot of time into the early voting states, like Iowa and New Hampshire. He skipped the South Carolina primary, planned to win big in Florida. Well, he got killed. And that was that.

Anyway, here's the question -- should Rudy Giuliani pursue a career in national politics? Go to and post a comment on my blog.

You know, he was supposed to run against Hillary Clinton for that Senate seat a bunch of years ago and -- and it was being touted as maybe one of the great races for a U.S. Senate seat ever. And then he was hit with prostate cancer and had to withdraw. And she went on to be elected to the Senate. So he may take a run -- another run at this.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, we'll see what he decides to do. You know, running against Hillary Clinton is one thing.

Kirsten Gillibrand, may be another, right?

CAFFERTY: Yes, it might be a little different story, absolutely.

BLITZER: My a little bit.


BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jack.


BLITZER: First it was mammograms, now new guidelines for screening for cervical cancer.

Could fewer checkups really mean better health for women?

And what should the U.S. military do when it suspects that there is an extremist in its ranks?

Can it act before a crime is actually committed?

Plus, it all began when she was accused of cutting a line in a Wal-Mart. Now, a young schoolteacher could face years in prison. Today, she took the stand in a racially-charged case.


BLITZER: As the military investigates the alleged Fort Hood killer, it's also looking into how it might uncover other extremists in uniform. We're going to get to that story in a moment.

But first, this story just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Brian Todd has been doing some more digging on -- on Major Hasan.

What are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have just been told about the first hearing -- court hearing that Major Hasan will be having in this case. It's going to be tomorrow at his hospital room at Fort Hood. I just got off the phone with his attorney, John Galligan, who told -- tells me that military prosecutors at Fort Hood have told him they have requested a pretrial confinement hearing tomorrow, Saturday, at Fort -- not at Fort Hood, but -- excuse me -- at Brooke Army Medical Center, where Hasan is being treated right now. That's near San Antonio.

This is his first court hearing since the shootings.

Now, a little bit of detail on this. Galligan told me that Hasan's commander has already said he's placing him or has placed him in pretrial confinement. But this hearing will determine whether that designation for Hasan is appropriate, whether other types of confinement might be appropriate. There is no pending decision to remove him from the hospital at this time.. And the attorney, Galligan, says that he is going to argue that this is all being done in a little bit of haste, that there should be a little more time given to all these proceedings, considering Hasan's medical condition. He's paralyzed below the waist.

But, again, the first court hearing for Major Hasan tomorrow at his hospital room -- at his hospital bed. And the attorney, John Galligan says he'll be there. A government representative will be there. And he -- he expects some kind of magistrate will be there.

BLITZER: So maybe they're just going to read to him the charges that have been the 13 counts of murder that have been filed against him?

TODD: Galligan says he has already been read those charges. But this is -- this is really all about his confinement. And he says this is kind of a technical matter, that his commanders have placed him in pretrial confinement. This will essentially affirm that or, maybe if a magistrate rules in Hasan's favor or Galligan's favor here, that it could be lessened, to some extent.

Galligan is concerned that once he does get cleared to be discharged from the hospital, he might be taken to a local jail or something like that. But this is really just all about, you know, the status of his confinement right now.

BLITZER: All right. You're working this story and will get some more. But that's a dramatic development, Brian.

TODD: Yes.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for bringing it.

A hearing in the hospital room tomorrow involving Major Hasan at Fort Hood.

A link, meanwhile, may be emerging between that massacre and a series of recent jihadist plots.

CNN's Jim Acosta reports on the influence of a radical cleric.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY WWW.ALWASATIYYAH.COM) IMAM ANWAR AL-AWLAKI, CLERIC: This is not the course that you -- you want to take and just get a grade in it and then move on. You know, this is knowledge that you need to live with.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A radical cleric who preaches jihad online, Imam Anwar Awlaki, was known to federal authorities long before his recent contacts with alleged Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan.


AL-AWLAKI: There is anger and resistance, but (INAUDIBLE).


ACOSTA: Back in 2001, a public television crew videotaped one of Awlaki's sermons at the Dar Al-Hijra Mosque in Northern Virginia, just weeks after the September 11th attacks. At that time, the imam appeared to criticize the use of terrorism.


AL-AWLAKI: The death and homicide of over one million civilians in Iraq, the fact that the U.S. is supporting the deaths and killing of thousands of Palestinians, does not justify the killing of one U.S. civilian in New York City or Washington, DC.


ACOSTA: But as it turns out, not only was Hasan attending that same mosque in 2001, so were three 9/11 hijackers.

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: The FBI and the counterterrorism community know Al-Awlaki well. He has been the subject of interest and investigation since before and after he left the United States in 2002.

ACOSTA: Born in the U.S. and now believed to be living and blogging from Yemen, Awlaki hopes to inspire holy war. He's released a recent lecture series that he translated into English, called Constants on The Path of Jihad." It's described by security analysts as a how-to guide for Western, homegrown terrorists.

JARRET BRACHMAN, AUTHOR, "GLOBAL JIHADISM": Yes, I refer to what Awlaki puts out as radical Islam for dummies.

ACOSTA: In it, Al-Awlaki says when the Muslim is in his land, he performs jihad. No borders or barriers stop it. Federal authorities believe those lectures inspired a number of terrorist plots in the U.S., Canada and Britain, including a plan to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey in 2007. One convicted plotter in that case was recorded by federal agents saying: "Since I heard this lecture, brother, I want everyone to hear about it. You know why? Because he gives it to you raw and uncut." BRACHMAN: From Yemen, Al-Awlaki is able to put out these how-to manuals. And -- and, you know, the jihadis on -- on the Internet right now are referring to the Fort -- the Fort Hood shooter as a drone -- as Al Qaeda's version of a Predator drone. And you can say that Al-Awlaki is, perhaps, the guy at the other end of the remote control, at least ideologically.

ACOSTA (on camera): And given that history, a growing number of counterterrorism experts believe there were enough red flags to indicate that Nidal Hasan was in contact with a well-known jihadist.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: As the U.S. military investigates the -- the alleged Fort Hood killer, it's also looking into how it might uncover extremists in uniform.

Let's go live to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara, what are you finding out?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, here's the key question -- were Major Hasan's alleged activities prior to the Fort Hood shooting incident a violation of military regulation?

Should he have been reported?


STARR: (voice-over): It's still unclear to what degree Major Nidal Malik Hasan's beliefs were considered so extreme that his superiors need to be alerted. But if the military knows there is an extremist in its ranks, can it do anything even before a crime is committed?

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says yes.

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: And my expectation is for command -- you know, for -- for any commander to certainly -- to be aware of those kinds of things and then to take appropriate action to -- to certainly not sit idly by, but to address it.

STARR: This Army document says joining extremist organizations is prohibited. The Army defines an extremist organization as one which advocates racial, gender or ethnic hatred or intolerance or advocates the use of force, violence or unlawful means to deprive individuals of their rights.

In fact, commanders can discipline troops for these activities under the rules for maintaining good order and discipline. If it's severe enough, the person could be discharged. Current rules date from the 1990s, when the Army found white supremacists inside the ranks.

Retired General John Keane commanded Fort Bragg, North Carolina when two soldiers were put on trial for racially motivated murders. He says the current policy may need to be updated.

GEN. JOHN KEANE (RET.), FORMER ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF: I suspect strongly that after we conduct these investigations, we will find that our policies will need revision again to account for the specific behavior and attitudes as expressed by radical Islamists or Jihadist extremists.

STARR: Right now, troops are not allowed to undertake actions supporting extremist organizations or activities, including attending meetings, fundraising activities, recruiting or training members, or distributing literature supporting extremist causes.

Keane believes individual soldiers must be willing to take action.

KEANE: It shouldn't have to be an act of moral courage on behalf of a soldier to have to report behavior that we should not be tolerating inside our military organizations. It should an obligation.


STARR: So you see, Wolf, when you look at these regulations, they really dated back several years to deal with the issue of white supremacists in the U.S. military. Now, It's a different question -- equally delicate and sensitive, military officials say, right now -- how do you deal with the question of religion and extremist groups?

People like General Keane say that the regulations need to be updated. Admiral Mullen doesn't disagree. They're looking at this matter right now. But Admiral Mullen points out people are entitled to their private religious beliefs. It's a very delicate question -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very delicate indeed, Barbara.

Thanks very much.

Good story.

The sordid trial of an American student in Italy now coming to a close. She's accused of killing her British roommate.

How does the evidence stack up?

And Somalian piracy's unexpected rewards for local fisherman.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Fredericka Whitfield is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Fred, what's going on? WHITFIELD: Hello, Wolf.

Hello, everyone.

Well, in Italy, closing arguments are underway in the long murder trial of a 22-year-old American Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend. The prosecution summation is expected to continue through tomorrow. Knox and Rafael Sollecito are accused of sexual assault and murder in the death of Knox's British roommate, Meredith Kercher, two years ago. Both deny the charges.

A day of unprecedented heavy rain is blamed for massive flooding in England's picturesque Lake District. Military helicopters rescued scores of people stranded by floodwaters. It washed out roads and bridges and swamped hundreds of homes. Emergency services say more than 200 people had to be rescued. One police officer died when a bridge was suddenly swept away.

And he may have admitted to lying about his use of drugs, but the Association of Tennis Professionals says it won't re-open Andre Agassi's case. Agassi revealed in his recent autobiography that he lied in 1997 when he said that he unwittingly took crystal meth. ATP chairman Adam Helfant says that they cannot revisit the case since Agassi is retired and no longer playing on the tour -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He was a great player, there's no doubt about that.

WHITFIELD: He was, indeed. No one disputes that.

BLITZER: Right. No one disputes that.

Thanks, Fred.

Accused of cutting in line at a Wal-Mart, a woman could go to prison. Accounts of what actually happened vary widely. Plus there are now claims racism was involved. Stand by.

First, mammograms and now pap smears -- changing cancer guidelines causing controversy. We're taking a closer look.

And Senator John McCain and his daughter Meghan both Tweet. So does another McCain. It's not so much what this McCain is Tweeting about, but from where.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, kidnapped by pirates last month, a British couple is seen on camera now for the first time. The stress of their ordeal is clearly showing. They say their captors are losing patience and they fear for their lives.

It's the kind of abuse that can cause a person to lose everything. We learn what Congress is doing to help you from becoming a victim of fraud. But will it make a difference?

And Oprah Winfrey marking time -- she says she'll hang up the talk show after the 25th season.

A swan song or another shrewd business move?

We talked to some of the people she made rich and famous.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

First it was mammograms. Now it's pap smears. Women face dramatic and controversial shifts in the guidelines for screening two types of cancer. CNN's Brooke Baldwin is over at the CNN Center. Brooke, what are you learning?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty interesting, Wolf. You know, we talked to two different doctors today, one being the head of the American Cancer Society, the other a lead oncologist at Emory University. They both say when it comes to the cervical cancer screenings less is more, but the challenge here changing really a culture.


BALDWIN: In a single week, two sweeping changes recommended for women and health care, two medical panels calling for a delayed start and reduced frequency of screenings for both breast and cervical cancer.

DR. SHARMILA MAKHIJA, EMORY CANCER INSTITUTE: Actually I was kind of relieved to see the new guidelines.

BALDWIN: While some patients and doctors may feel fewer tests are counterintuitive to good health, Emory University's Dr. Sharmila Makhija says it's time for a culture change.

MAKHIJA: You know, did I try actually to tell patients you don't need to come in every year, I'll see you in two years and they don't like that. It makes them nervous.

BALDWIN: When it comes to cervical cancer screenings, Dr. Makhija agrees that less is more. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 11,270 new cases of cervical cancer this year, but of that number, a tiny fraction will be girls younger than 21. That is good news, according to the society's chief medical officer and a reason for doctors to start testing more conservatively.

DR. OTIS BRAWLEY, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: Cancer control is a relatively new science. As that science evolves doctors are going to become much more aware that the science exists and perhaps a little bit more conservative in their use of screening.

BALDWIN: While Dr. Otis Brawley says doctors may now test less frequency for cervical cancer, he disagrees with reducing the frequency of mammograms and emphasizes the need for additional screenings for colon cancer in men and women.

BRAWLEY: The major problem in the United States is really more than half of people who should be getting that screen for which there's no question it reduces risk of death. More than half of people who should be getting that screen aren't getting any kind of screening.

BALDWIN: Meanwhile, the doctor is hopeful new guidelines encourage dialogue between patients and doctors and lead to a more holistic approach.

MAKHIJA: It is, it is. It's really changing the way we look at doing a gyn exam on a patient. The health care of a woman, it's not so generalized. It's really more focused on each individual patient which is really I think welcome change for both the patient and the physician.


BALDWIN: One other point I want to make here, I also asked both of the doctors why did boast new guidelines pop up in the same week, and isn't it perhaps a little odd that this is the same week that the senate might start debate on health care, but both doctors, Wolf, they said total coincidence.

BLITZER: All right. Total coincidence.

BALDWIN: That's what they say.

BLITZER: Thank you, that's the suggestion.

The number of swine flu cases is falling around the nation. 43 states now report widespread flu activity that's down from 46, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions the holidays could cause a new spike in H1N1 with the potential for germs to spread over thanksgiving.

The CDC is also keeping a close eye on North Carolina where tamiflu-resistant swine flu cluster is reported. Officials are watching for signs that the virus is mutating making drugs used to treat it ineffective. About 52 drug resistant cases are reported globally. We're watching this closely.

The World Health Organization says it's looking into some swine flu infections in Norway where the virus has mutated. Officials in Norway say the mutation could possibly cause more severe disease because that it infects tissue deeper in the airway.

Pregnant women are one of the groups most at risk for H1N1, yet many mothers-to-be are still shunning the swine flu shot. CNN's John Zarrella tells us of the tragic ordeal of a pregnant woman -- the ordeal the woman went through and her message for other expectant moms.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Time and again hallucinations.

AUBREY OPDYKE, SWINE FLU VICTIM: I had this white dog that always came in the room with me.

ZARRELLA: And that's after you woke up?

OPDYKE: And I swore he was real. I heard his chains rattling.

ZARRELLA: Aubrey Opdyke nearly died last summer. The child she was carrying did at 27 weeks. Last July she came down with what she thought was just a cold, no big deal.

OPDYKE: I had a sore throat and a low-grade fever.

ZARRELLA: A week later she was in intensive care at Wellington Regional Medical Center. Aubrey was in such bad shape that within 24 hours of arriving here at the emergency room doctors had to put her into a medically induced coma to keep her from pulling out the tubes that were keeping her alive. Aubrey didn't know it. She wouldn't, for weeks, until she was brought out of coma, but she had swine flu, H1N1. Within days her lungs filled with fluid.

DR. ANDREW EGOL, WELLINGTON REGIONAL MEDICAL CTR.: This left lung is completely filled. The right upper lung is completely filled.

ZARRELLA: Dr. Andrew Eagle was looking at the x-rays of a woman deathly ill.

EGOL: That's viral pneumonia and this is the H1N1.

ZARRELLA: The H1N1 vaccine was not available when Aubrey came down with it. She's telling her story because now that it is she can't understand why large numbers of pregnant women are not getting it. A survey conducted for healthy women found only one in four pregnant women or new mothers plan to get the H1N1 vaccine.

OPDYKE: I'd much rather get the side effects of whatever the shot is going to give you over what I had. I mean, it's -- I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemies.

ZARRELLA: Pregnant women are considered a higher risk for hospitalization from complications.

EGOL: They need to take seriously coughs and colds more than anyone else.

ZARRELLA: Doctors who treated her say Opdyke's case is an example of what can happen. She got pneumonia. Her lungs collapsed six times. She spent five weeks in an induced coma. The clock was going but you weren't --

OPDYKE: Weren't there, yeah.

ZARRELLA: She was hospitalized for three months. In distress, the child she was carrying had to be taken and died within seven minutes. Aubrey didn't know until she was brought out of the coma. OPDYKE: My mom said you had the swine flu and I was in shock, and I looked at her and I said I never want to be pregnant again. I was so scared.

ZARRELLA: Aubrey's illness was an ordeal for the entire family, her husband, mother and 5-year-old daughter who was so looking forward to having a little sister.

OPDYKE: We tell my daughter that god wanted to have a baby to play with.

ZARRELLA: Since leaving the hospital in September, Aubrey has gotten stronger each day. She's also gotten something else, the H1N1 vaccine.

John Zarrella, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


BLITZER: Senator John McCain is famous for his tweeting, and another member of the McCain family is engaged in tweets right now as well. We'll bring you the situation online.

And for the first time since their capture last month, a British couple held hostage by pirates speaking out on camera.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A British couple held hostage by Somali pirates now speaking out on camera for the first time since they were kidnapped last month. Paul and Rachel Chandler spoke in the presence of armed gunmen. Take a look at this.


PAUL CHANDLER, HELD HOSTAGE BY PIRATES: We're unharmed and in reasonable physical health. Mentally we are under great stress and threatened. Our kidnappers are losing patience. They are concerned that there has been no response at all to their demands for money. We ask the government and the people of Britain and our families to do whatever you can to at least open negotiations with these people about money so that perhaps our lives can be brought back. We have been threatened that there is a terrorist gang at large in the country looking for us. We are also concerned that these people will lose patience and will not feed us, and I have no doubt that they will not hesitate to kill us, perhaps within the week or so of now if there is no response.


BLITZER: That video comes from Britain's channel 4 news which has relatives of the hostages agreed that the video should in fact be broadcast. While Somali pirates wreak havoc off the coast of Africa, their reign of terror is providing some unexpected rewards for local fishermen. Freelance journalist Sam Farmer has this report.


SAM FARMER, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: They are celebrating their catch, hauling in hundreds of kilos of fish, everything from barracuda to a giant stingray. This is a small fishing town on the coast of Kenya. Most of the surrounding villages are mired in poverty, but for the fishermen life is looking up. For they are netting huge catches here, earning in Kenyan shillings over 50 times the average daily wage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can make even for one day 20,000 or 50,000 a day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday I got 20,000.

FARMER: It's these pirates from neighboring Somalia who have turned out to be the fishermen's friend. For the highway men of the high seas have scared away the foreign fishing fleets with over 40 attacks on shipping in the last five months alone, and while a naval task force from more than ten countries plays cat and mouse with the pirates, these Kenyan fishermen are in the money because the factory ships have fled from the most dangerous waters in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the big ship are very far, not here at the sea shore here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy that the ships are not coming this side. If they are coming this side, all the fish will disappear.

FARMER: For decades, foreign ships deprived these fishing dhows of a livelihood. Somali piracy began partly by way of revenge, but that piracy today allows big-game fishermen in Kenya to enjoy their best season in over 40 years. The hooks are baited and within moments a strapping sail fish is hauled in. This year's catch exceeding anything this boat's captain has seen before.

MASOOD, KENYAN FISHERMAN: Yeah. This season was very good. I've never seen a good season like this season. Plenty of sail fish, marlin, everything, king fish, really, really fantastic this season.

FARMER: And marine biologists agree that with the factory ships now in retreat, the fish have begun to return.

STEVE TROTT, MARINE BIOLOGIST: All the indicators are there that the fishery is recovering. I think that is the strongest indication yet that these commercial scale fisheries have been having a destructive impact on our Kenyan fisheries.

FARMER: So there's a silver lining to the havoc caused by the Somali pirates and it's found here off the Kenyan coast where the pirates have done more to preserve fish stocks than anybody else and where Kenyan fishermen are reaping the rewards. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That report from journalist Sam Farmer.

From tornadoes to hurricanes to massive snowfalls, much of the world is at the mercy of the elements, but what if, what if we could control the weather? Let's go to our meteorologist and severe weather expert Chad Myers.

It's a good question. What if, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we have to realize, Wolf, that Katrina had the same force as 50,000 atom bombs. You wouldn't want to put atom bombs in a hurricane because all you'd have is basically a nuclear hurricane, but the Chinese have tried something to alleviate their drought.

I know that looks like war, but those cannons are not shooting artillery shells. They are shooting silver iodide into a storm. Now the storm already existed. Don't get me wrong. They are not making low pressure centers. It was already raining. It was already very cold, and it was ready to snow, but what the Chinese did, they planted silver iodide dusts basically up into the clouds to enhance the amount of snowfall.

Did it do it? They think so. They got 12 inches of snow in a place they only thought there was going to be 10. Is that a big deal? I'm not so sure but they were very proud. What we have China here, about as big as the U.S. east to west, north to south. So if you make one small little spot where you push the silver iodide in it and let's say it's near Seattle, you might get some snow into Eugene, if the wind was coming from the north, but you probably wouldn't get that snow all the way down through the sierra. It could have a small effect, but right now, Wolf, we are way too small of specs in the universe to think we can do much to Mother Nature, at least for now.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that, Chad Myers.

On the stand a woman accused of cutting in line at Wal-Mart and assaulting police. She gives her side of the story amid claims of racism was involved.

And the tweeting McCains. Senator McCain's son takes Twitter to new heights, literally.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There's another McCain on Twitter, one we don't normally hear a lot from. The senator and his daughter Meghan do pictures of Twitter are now joined by John McCain IV who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy this year. Let's go to our internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, where is he now? ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, he's been somewhere in the skies above California and according to Twitter, he's loving it. These are photos posted by Ensign John McCain IV. Here take a look at that. He's been along for the ride on F-18 super hornet while on temporary duty. A spokesman for the navy says he has been getting experience there while he awaits his pilot training to start at Vance Air Force Base which is going to happen in the next few weeks.

This is Senator John McCain's son known as Jack who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy earlier this year and in 2008 we heard so much from his sister Meghan but we heard from Jack and his brother Jimmy, a marine. This is one campaign stop that they were at the end of August in 2008. Now we're seeing Jack on Twitter. This is a real McCain family affair on the website here. You have Senator McCain who's got about 1.5 million followers. Meghan McCain who's got a respectable 75,000 or so. So Jack McCain is trailing there a little with a couple of thousand. But you can see from his Twitter feed, he's aware that he's not supposed to say anything controversial. He's not going to go there. He writes there are days when I wish I could be much more political on Twitter, but I wear the uniform of my country and must refrain. So we just got these wonderful pictures that he's been posting in the last couple of days. Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll follow him on Twitter. Thanks very much for that.

Let's go back to Jack, he's got "the Cafferty File." You know, I'm on Twitter too, have I ever mentioned that to you?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really? Why tell us about it.

BLITZER: WolfBlitzerCNN, you can follow my tweets.

CAFFERTY: You have more twits (ph) than Meghan McCain, too don't you?

BLITZER: It goes out to 170,000 people.

CAFFERTY: Do they call them twits?

BLITZER: They call them tweets.

CAFFERTY: No the people on ...

BLITZER: The people they call them followers, my followers.

CAFFERTY: OK. They're not twits.

BLITZER: There's a whole vocabulary.

CAFFERTY: Well, it's not my world. The question this hour, should Rudy Giuliani pursue a career in national politics? A story in the New York paper today that he may run for Hillary Clinton's old senate seat and if he wont, they speculate he might use it as a springboard for another try at the white house. Meg writes, "Rudy needs to into the private sector and stay there. He has more baggage than a Grand Central porter. On TV he comes across as strident and accusing with all the warmth of an attack dog. I'm afraid his best political days are behind him."

Eric in Atlanta says, "He's already tried it before, 9/11 made him popular for a minute, but he didn't connect with the people for whatever reason. I think he would make a fine loser for the Republican Party, so I say go for it."

Polly in Nevada, "Nope, as a Democrat I applaud the good work he did for New York City in his time as mayor. However, his run for president last year really bore out his flaws as a candidate for any higher office. His time on the stage as a political star as passed."

Jerry in Oklahoma City, "Absolutely, he's the only Republican other than Fred Thompson that I would vote for to be president."

Steve in Iowa says, "Sure, all the Republican Party needs is another fear-mongering chicken little. Invest in hard hats with 9/11 Rudy, the sky is always falling."

Ian in New York says, "I'm so sick and tired of Rudy Giuliani trying to push his name back into the spotlight. He is a narcissistic hack and New Yorkers are tired of him. I welcome a run against Senator Gillibrand. He is a lazy campaigner and his loss to her could be the nail in the coffin of his political career that we are all waiting for." That's a New Yorker. You probably could have guessed that.

Mike in Oklahoma City, "Shameless slime ball, he's tried to squeeze as much personal gain out of September 11 as he can."

And Lucy in San Francisco says, "If Sarah Palin is the alternative, then yes."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, then you can go to my blog at

BLITZER: Good file indeed Jack. Thank you.

Oprah Winfrey says she's moving on, but what it will mean to her vast financial holdings when she shuts down her current talk show.


BLITZER: It all began when she was accused of cutting a line in a Wal-Mart when things escalated. Now nearly three years later, Heather Ellis finds her fate in the hands of a jury. She could end up facing years in prison. CNN's David Mattingly is joining us now live from Tenant, Missouri.

David, how did it go today?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we could not have been listening to more sharply distinct stories in that courtroom. The official version, what the prosecutor wants her to believe, is that Heather Ellis went into that Wal-Mart, cut in line and went ballistic, cursing at and insulting employees, threatening another customer and when police arrived, he says that she threatened the police officers, cursed them, getting arrested and then forced -- caused them both, two officers injury during that melee that ensued after that.

Now the defense says that everyone overreacted, Heather was in line right where she was supposed to be, that the employees and police overreacted and that now everyone's trying to come up with a story to make Heather look like the one who caused all this.

Now it's going to be going to the jury, the jury has this in their hands and they're going to have to sort this out and figure out who is responsible. They are going to be looking at what both sides agree is the single most important piece of evidence and that's that one piece of videotape showing when this all started. It's the point where Heather was at the checkout aisle pushing the items back belonging to the customer next to her. The prosecution says when you look at that, you see a woman that is going ballistic and about to cause a disturbance. When the defense looks at that they say you are looking at a woman who is being ignored, who's not being waited on and who was in line right where she was supposed to be and everyone after this overreacted and that's how we got to where we are today.

BLITZER: I know there were some protests in town, racially charged accusations. Did race actually come up in the course of the trial?

MATTINGLY: It came up in one very short spot where Heather testified that an officer taunted her on the way out of the building telling her to go back to the ghetto. A prosecutor took great offense at that and in closing arguments told the jury today that the defense was trying to make the town look like a racist Coulterville. Then the defense stood up, objected to that and then went from there later asking the judge for a mistrial for that and other comments that the prosecutor made.

BLITZER: David Mattingly will stay on top of this trial, we'll let you know what his verdict is. When you know, all of our viewers will know. Thanks very much.