Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Swines at Work

Reading about the microbial adventures of Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper in Afghanistan has made me wonder about something rather personal. I'd just had an extremely sore throat with no fever that kept me up all night, day after day. I visited the CDC page for "Interim Guidance on Case Definitions to be Used For Investigations of Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Cases" and found it blank.

The celebrity journalists both fell ill in Afghanistan--CNN's chief medical correspondent came down with a classic array of fever, sinus congestion, nausea, and body aches while the 360 host got a very nasty sore throat. Gupta was treated for swine flu. Cooper wasn't.

Cooper's circumstances raise an important social question, at least for me and for thousands of other Americans: Do we have swine flu?

Incidentally I've done a lot of research on influenza for an online blog enovel I wrote about an H5N1 pandemic that hits New York City. I know the symptoms pretty well: fever, chills, ache, fatigue, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, and upper respiratory tract problems.

Using a neti pot helped, but I couldn't flush my sinuses while sleeping--or working in a busy office. I embraced antibiotics on the theory that I'd developed a secondary bacterial infection.

Then Gupta and Cooper shed light on my plight. Gupta had been sufficiently alarmed by "profound chills and shakes" that he got tested for swine flu and was given IV sustenance by the U.S. military.

Cooper caught what he described to Gupta on 360 as "the worst cough I'd ever had."

In the field, Gupta told Cooper he "probably" didn't have swine flu because he lacked the "very high fever" that typically heralds it. (Cooper was never tested.) On the air weeks later, Gupta told Cooper that he thought there was "a good chance" the host caught swine flu. What about that missing fever?

An important question. Since the novel H1N1 virus known as swine flu broke out of Mexico and into the media late in April, a lot of people have suffered respiratory symptoms without fever. Strep throat has been a common complaint. But few such cases have been dubbed swine flu. Does this leave countless flu victims spewing virions all over the subway, bus, train, home, or office--oblivious to the fact that they may be spreading the dreaded flu?

If so, someone should inform the school administrators who count only cases in which students present fever symptoms when deciding whether or not to close a given school.

Cooper further highlights the problem of presenteeism, a social condition whereby germs are circulated by sick workaholics and employees who can't afford to take a day off because they lack insurance or paid leave. Workers who don't know their cough is contagious can disable a workplace. "I also didn't take any days off," confesses Cooper.

I didn't miss a day either.

On learning from Gupta that he may well have contracted swine flu, Cooper turned rueful. "I love that I just learned that I may have had swine flu--from you, via satellite," he said. Cooper took two rounds of antibiotics for two weeks and still has ear trouble. Gupta assured him the antibiotics "probably" didn't help.

In my case, they seemed to help a lot, so long as the 10-day cycle lasted. Now my throat hurts and I've resumed coughing. The hacks of my co-workers drown mine out. They are sicker than I am.

Off to work!

So what does the CDC say? I called the agency to find out what it says about this coughing business--and why its swine flu symptoms guidelines page is down.

Ahem. Did Cooper and I have the flu, I ask?

"We have heard of cases that did not involve fever, but that is certainly not the norm," A CDC spokesperson replied. He promised to look into why the symptoms guidelines are missing.

Back to you, CNN Survivors.

The article was to scary and dry so I added all the graphics and photo.

To Swine or Not To Swine

CNN anchor denies rumors

By Anne Schroeder Mullins | 9/24/09 -- 5:05 PM EDT

Anderson Cooper told his CNN team Thursday that he does not have swine flu, according to an email obtained by POLITICO.

"Just to address any concerns, I did not have swine flu, despite Sanjay's raising the possibility last night," he began.

"While I did have a bad cough, I was checked by military medical personnel in Kandahar. My temperature was completely normal, and I experienced none of the flu like symptoms sanjay experienced. I raised the possibility of swine flu with the medical personnel and was assured that what I had was the normal bad cough many get in the Kandahar region. They call it the Kandahar krup. There is a large amount of dust and even excrement in the air, which often causes infections. I responded to antibiotic treatment, which I would not have if I had swine flu. I also had an inner ear infection which is still being treated and has prevented me from flying. But I was assured before returning to work that I was not contagious. My cough sounded bad, but it was mostly dust and debris in my lungs."

The Naked City

September 30, 2009

The Shot: Naked Cowboy Jr.?

Posted: 11:09 AM ET

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2009 Heroes Blue Ribbon Panel

Don't forget: Tomorrow Thursday, October 1st, 2009, beginning at 1 p.m. ET and continuing each hour through 10 p.m. ET, CNN's Anderson Cooper will reveal the name of one Top 10 Hero on the global networks of CNN, including Live.

CNN Heroes: Meet the Blue Ribbon PanelStory Highlights

updated 3 hours, 43 minutes ago

(CNN) -- A Blue Ribbon Panel of distinguished leaders and humanitarians -- including Gen. Colin Powell, Whoopi Goldberg and Sir Elton John -- has selected 2009's Top 10 CNN Heroes, who will be announced Thursday, October 1.

Beginning at 1 p.m. ET and continuing each hour through 10 p.m. ET, CNN's Anderson Cooper will reveal the name of one Top 10 Hero on the global networks of CNN, including Live.

Also on October 1, an hour-long Anderson Cooper 360° special will air at 11 p.m. ET profiling all of the Top 10 CNN Heroes and their causes. At that time, public voting to select the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year will open at

CNN will announce the 2009 "CNN Hero of the Year" and honor the Top 10 CNN Heroes in a star-studded gala celebration, "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" on Thanksgiving, November 26, from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Meet the members of the Blue Ribbon Panel, all of them heroes to others through their continuing commitment to public service:

Wallis Annenberg, Philanthropist and community advocate
Considered a visionary philanthropist and leader, Annenberg is committed to improving the well-being of people and communities worldwide. She is the chairman of the board, president and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation, which has given more than $250 million dollars in "high-impact" grants to over 500 organizations. Her cause

Tory Burch, Designer, entrepreneur and humanitarian
Burch is an award-winning fashion designer who launched the Tory Burch Foundation, which provides economic opportunities to low-income women and their families in the United States. Under her direction, the foundation helps women entrepreneurs access financial tools that improve their lives. (Photo provided by Tory Burch) Her causes: 1 | 2

Kirk Cameron, Actor, producer and author
Cameron is a Golden Globe nominated actor who, with his wife, founded Camp Firefly, a week-long retreat for terminally and seriously ill children and their families. He is the producer and co-host of a spirituality-based reality television program airing weekly in over 100 countries. His cause

Malaak Compton-Rock, Humanitarian, public speaker and author
Compton-Rock is the founder and director of The Angelrock Project, an online e-village that promotes volunteerism, social responsibility and sustainable change. She creates and champions initiatives focused on at-risk and orphaned youth, child abuse awareness and prevention, and Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Her cause

Whoopi Goldberg, Actress, author, producer and humanitarian
Considered a premier talent in the entertainment industry, Goldberg is an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award winner. She is a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations and supports a number of humanitarian efforts on behalf of children, the homeless, human rights, education, substance abuse and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Phil Jackson, NBA coach, author and philanthropist
The head coach of the L.A. Lakers, Jackson has won an NBA-record 10 championships and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. He is a longtime supporter of the American Indian College Fund, which provides scholarships and support for Native American students and tribal colleges. His cause

Sir Elton John, Singer, songwriter, composer and humanitarian
A renowned singer/songwriter and performer, John is one of the top selling solo artists of all time and recipient of Grammy Awards, Tony Awards and an Oscar. He is founder and chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which supports HIV/AIDS prevention and service programs in 55 countries. (Photo: Deborah Anderson) His cause

Masi Oka, Actor and humanitarian
Oka is a Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actor and star of NBC's Heroes. As a member of the American Red Cross' National Celebrity Cabinet, he donates his time, skills and energy to help raise awareness of the organization's initiatives, services and response efforts nationwide. His cause

Mariane Pearl, International journalist, author and speaker
Pearl is an award-winning journalist and author, and a member of the Daniel Pearl Foundation's honorary board. Formed in memory of her husband, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002, its mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding. (Photo: Martin de la Serna) Her causes: 1 | 2

Gen. Colin Powell, Presidential Medals of Freedom recipient, statesman and author
Powell is a retired four-star general, former U.S. Secretary of State, and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is the founding chairman of America's Promise Alliance, an alliance of national partner organizations advocating for the needs of young people and encouraging Americans to engage in volunteer service. His cause

Rossana Rosado, Journalist and community advocate
Rosado is publisher and CEO of El Diario La Prensa, the oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the United States. She serves on the boards of many New York organizations advocating for women and children, including the New York Women's Foundation, which supports initiatives for low-income women and girls. Her cause

Shakira, Recording artist, children's advocate and humanitarian
Shakira is a Grammy-winning recording artist and founder of the Barefoot Foundation, which works to increase access to high-quality education, especially for the world's poorest children. She serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and honorary chair of the Global Campaign for Education. (Photo: Jaume De La Iguana) Her causes: 1 | 2

Tavis Smiley, Media personality, author and advocate
Considered an influential voice on leadership, accountability and the black experience, Smiley hosts a late-night PBS talk show and a national radio show. He is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of leaders and is the founder of the Tavis Smiley Foundation, which provides leadership training and development for youth. His cause

Ted Turner, Entrepreneur, environmentalist, philanthropist and author
Turner is the founder of Turner Broadcasting and CNN and chairman of Turner Enterprises Inc. Considered one of the most influential philanthropists in the United States, his foundations support projects that will help to guarantee a stronger and safer planet for future generatations. His cause

Spineless Public Option

September 30, 2009

Video: Michael Moore on health care

Posted: 08:16 AM ET

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wedding Bells

September 29, 2009

Aflac Duck And Geico Gecko Wed In Secret Ceremony

WOODBURY, NY (CAP) - This is Anderson Cooper reporting for Anderson Cooper 360º. This is very important Breaking News item for which I was send immediately to the exotic city of Woodbury in upper New York state. We begin with some very important and controversial news: This is the story about the future of Aflac Insurance's world-renowned spokesduck who took another bizarre twist yesterday when details of the duck's civil union with the Geico's gecko in a private ceremony earlier this month were leaked to the media.

According to an e-mail recently leaked by Aflac's marketing chief, Emiliano Willson, he announced that the company might be silencing the duck. The news sent shock waves through the advertising world. Days later the company issued a statement, reassuring fans and stockholders that the duck would still have a role in the company's future.

The pundits at Fox News have cried foul and suggest the duck's phasing-out was only orchestrated after company officials were alerted to the duck's relationship with its competitor's spokesgecko.

An activist, Mark Sylvester, from a group promoting animal rights told me that "those promoting gay rights and gay marriage and those denouncing gay rights and gay marriage have virtually flooded the CNN newsroom with statements for and against the relationship. "Geez," Mr. Sylvester said, "I always thought they were both male." The CNN News receptionist heard the remark and was prompt to say, "Uhh, not that there's anything wrong with that." "No, not really," the activist assured, "my best friends are all gay."

I contacted several insurance companies across the country and the CEO of All State told me that "they were all outraged. The insurance lobbyists and the ACLU have both admitted that they are confused." David Gergen who often comments on my program said that "the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into charges of tampering, and that the Immigration and Naturalization Service is looking into the East London-born gecko's visa status as well."

Howard the Duck, who has absolutely nothing to do with the Aflec's duck nor the Geico's gecko, and who is best known for his wise-cracking remarks, confessed that he once had a crush on the Aflec's duck, but that he had thought at the time that he was
a female duck. After learning of the real sex of the Aflec's duck, Howard Drake, who starred in the Drake role on the Lea Thompson/Tim Robbins 1986 film of the same name said, "it doesn't really matter, it wasn't that big of a crush anyway, besides the gecko is in charge now, isn't he? She?" Howard spoke to me and other reporters last night from his condominium in Henderson, Nev. where he lives with his partner Rommy the squirrel. But nobody dared ask is Rommy was male or female.

"Duck and gecko knew this would ruffle some feathers," explained Mr. Willson, Aflec's marketing chief. "After all, this country isn't as ready for interspecies relationships as it thinks it is. Look at Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson."

A CNN News source that wishes to remain anonymous, reported that "the wedding ceremony took 15 minutes, and the vows were so simple, even a caveman could have done them."

We'll bring you more information as it comes from the field, including everybody involved's sexual nature -- except mine. Stay tuned."

Shamelessly Adapted from CAP News

As usual, all photos and graphics are from CAP News only the alteration of the text was my interference to accommodate Anderson.

CNN and iPod

By John Herrman, 12:01 AM on Tue Sep 29 2009 -- 19,877 views

I tend to reflexively dismiss single-source news apps, since they're usually not much more than a repackaged mobile site. CNN's Mobile, with push, VOD and live newscasts, is much, much more—but don't expect to get it for free.

Once you've gotten over the fact that no, CNN somehow didn't already have an iPhone app, consider the feature list:'s text content is formatted into swipeable panels, organized by category. You can save stories for offline reading, and select subjects to create personalized news feeds from CNN's stories. (In blogland, we call these "tags," but hey!) If you're particularly reportorial, there's also a panel for iReport submissions—3GS users can upload video, and everyone can upload stories and photos.

The newsreading and reporting functions look fine, but he app doesn't really start to shine until it starts to stream: Video is available in both VOD and live flavors, the first of which is organized in a catalog, and the second of which jumps in and out of service at the whim of CNN. Here's the theory: Users sit tight with their text content and old clips of Anderson Cooper interviewing panda cubs, or whatever he does, until NEWS BREAKS: Anderson has been mauled by mother panda. This is huge. You get a push notification that says, "Hey, CNN's live right now," which means that the station's content is streamed over Wi-Fi, 3G or EDGE. And, you watch.

CNN says this'll kick in fairly frequently, mostly to correspond with big news events— you know, the kind of things you might rush to a TV to find out more about. It might not sound like much, but conceptually, cable news streaming over the air to the iPhone is, well, a pretty big deal. Sadly, CNN seems to have realized this, so they aren't giving this one out for free: the app will run two dollars when it goes live later this morning. [CNN]

Graphics by Gizmodo, adapted to Anderson by Peter.

Pigs fly into Hell... No, into Pool

September 28, 2009

The Shot: When Pigs Fly

Posted: 10:58 AM ET

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The Shot: When Pigs Fly (1:31)
Watch these porcine beauties take to the skies as they dive ever so gracefully into pools of water. *

*This Shot is related to Beat 360° posted below.

Swine Flu & Hell Froze

MONDAY's Beat 360°

September 29, 2009

Beat 360° 9/28/09

Posted: 04:51 PM ET

Ready for today’s Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the ‘Beat 360°’ pic:

Miss Porky Pig flies through the air during the Pig Racing and Diving show in Melbourne, Australia. *

*This Beat 360° is related to The Shot posted above.

Have fun with it. We’re looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

And the T-shirt goes to:

Staff Member: "Swine flu."

Viewer: "Hell is frozen."

Very simple but very clever captions!

Bill Clinton and More Gays

Bill Clinton Backs Gay Marriage

International News, By Joal, 29th September, 2009

Community views on same-sex marriage are slowly changing, and so is the stance of one prominent individual – former US president Bill Clinton.

In an interview with CNN’s openly gay Anderson Cooper, Clinton spoke about changing has mind. Clinton says that while he did not support same-sex marriage in the past, he always supported the rights of gay individuals and gay adoption and recently began to see the contradiction.

“I grew up at a different time… I had all these gay friends. I had all these gay couple friends. And I decided I was wrong,” says Clinton in the interview.

The former president, now over 60-years-old, says he began to realise that he was just caught up on a word. “If gay couples want to call their union marriage…then I don’t think the rest of us should get in the way of that. I think it’s a good thing, not a bad thing,” Clinton says.

It’s quite a big turn-around for the former president, considering he signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 – a law that effectively federally banned same-sex marriage.

Some commentators suggest that the Clinton still in politics needs to publicly support same-sex marriage. Hillary Clinton, wife of Bill and United States Secretary of State, also supported the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, but has since see-sawed in her stance on gay marriage. In 2006 Hillary told,”I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out. From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in civil unions or domestic partnerships and that is my very considered assessment.”

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A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival," a "New York Times" best seller, is his account of the people he's met, the things he's seen and the lessons he's learned in the midst of devastation.

Dispatches from the Edge
Woven into the narrative is Anderson's struggle to understand his own family's personal tragedies. The paperback version came out May 8, 2007.

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The first installment of "The Gay Ghost Trilogy" is the story of Charles Lanier, a young gay guy who rents an apartment on Lake Shore Drive on the near north side of Chicago, and the unexpected adventures he encounters from the day he moves in. And that's only the beginning; follow up with "The Next Gay Ghost" and "The Two Gay Ghosts." Each story can be read independently from the other two installments. Or get all three books in one with "The Gay Ghost Trilogy."

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