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Texas Battles West Nile Virus; Four Shot in a Texas Wal-Mart Parking Lot; Anti-Japan Protests Break Out in China; Assange to U.S.: Drop "Witch Hunt"; Reducing Tuition for Illegal Immigrants; Fit Nation; One-on-One with Macy Gray
Aired August 19, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the NEWS ROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Right now 43 states are battling the deadly West Nile virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at least 26 people have died. There are 693 confirmed cases so far.
In Dallas officials hope to resume an aerial assault on the mosquitoes that carry the disease. We will talk with the mayor in a few moments. But first, let's focus on one family battling the virus. Our Nick Valencia has been talking to them. Nick, give us an idea how did the family make the discovery or figure it out that the daughter had West Nile?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the scariest part is that they were doing something that they do every day, stand outside on the porch. It was in this period, about a 10-minute period that she was bitten by a mosquito and contracted that virus.
It is called actually the West Nile meningo encephalitis. It's the most rare form of West Nile virus. It attacks brain function. Her family right now is very scared. You see photos of Jordan Connor there right now. Her mother, Ebonie, completely terrified about this situation.
We spoke to Ebonie Connor yesterday and she said it is just so vague. The symptoms are so vague that that is what is scaring her and troubling her the most. It is obviously a very difficult time for the family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EBONIE CONNOR, JORDAN CONNOR'S MOTHER: The symptoms play peek a boo with you. We were seven to ten days into it. Jordan never said she had a headache so when mention of a headache became a complaint of a headache I was very concerned.
When the complaint included vomiting, well, the next day we had a doctor's appointment, but that night that's when the sedation, her being deeply sedated came in. And I took her straight to the emergency room.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: My goodness.
VALENCIA: So it is even more terrifying for the family is that she doesn't really fit the mold, Fredricka, of who is susceptible to this virus. Usually it is infants, toddlers, the elderly, people that have had pre-existing health conditions.
That's not Jordan's case. She is a healthy 14-year-old girl about to start her sophomore year in school and she has been debilitated by this illness, this virus.
WHITFIELD: So does this speak to the rarity of the form of West Nile or does it say something else about the mutation that means that many more people than we thought would be very vulnerable.
VALENCIA: Well, we don't know that. The CDC is reporting these record cases since 2004, dozens of people killed, already dead because of this virus. They are not sure exactly how Jordan got this rare form.
What they do know -- doctors were confused by her prognosis. It took them three days, if you can believe that, Fredricka, to diagnose what she had.
WHITFIELD: And apparently this is impacting the business community, as well. Clearly, a lot of families, they are afraid about being outside. But then how are businesses being impacted?
VALENCIA: Well, it's sort of a double-edge sword, some businesses are benefitting from this. We spent time on the phone today with CBS and Home Depot and they are saying, they are seeing people coming in by droves, getting Dete and Off sprayed by the dozens.
In fact, one pharmacist we spoke to at CBS says everybody seems wearing the same cologne. Everyone seems to smell like Off or Dete, but for places like local businesses.
We spoke to a woman at a treatment center. She runs a treatment center there in Dallas. They pride themselves on lush gardens. People come sort of leaving home to spend time outside.
She gave us the case of one man from California that's going all the way to Pennsylvania because he doesn't want to take the risk of the fears.
She seems to be a little concerned about the media's coverage of this. She says we're maybe portraying it as Armageddon there in Dallas. Some people would agree with that saying that this is pretty scary.
WHITFIELD: It is the hardest hit.
VALENCIA: It is the hardest hit in Dallas, in Dallas County. You bring up another good point though. Arlington, Texas is where the Connors are from. Now they didn't get any aerial spraying and the city is being largely unaffected by that aerial spraying. And another point, Fredricka is when the aerial spraying happens the larva are not killed in the aerial spraying and they have an incubation period of two weeks, 17 days.
So questions are being asked by the residents saying what is this aerial spraying going to do for us? Is this going to help us or are you going to come back and you know, spray the larva. So lots of questions here about the local residents.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, those are questions that we can ask the mayor of Dallas that we are going to have momentarily. Nick Valencia, thanks so much. Appreciate that.
So this West Nile virus has taken aim at Texas it seems in particular more than half the people killed by the virus are in Texas. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings joining us right now on the phone.
So Mayor Rawlings, first of, tell me about the pesticide spraying. Has it resumed today after being postponed because of weather yesterday?
MAYOR MIKE RAWLINGS, DALLAS (via telephone): Yes, the skies are blue this afternoon and we have a good forecast for this evening so we are planning to get four planes up in the air. And we will do the rest of Dallas and Dallas County this evening.
We will go into the early mornings. Then we are going to plan to come back a day later and give us all one more dose of this on Monday evening.
WHITFIELD: So Mr. Mayor, perhaps you heard our reporter, Nick Valencia, talk about some of the concerns of people in the Dallas area have about the larva not being killed is what they have come to understand from the spraying. Is that indeed the case?
RAWLINGS: No. I think that we're going to be testing this stuff and we have already tested this weekend from spraying we did Thursday night. And the initial results that we are seeing are remarkable.
This is very, very early on in the process. We are going to get final results tomorrow. But I think the procedures we're going through we really kind of took them from the CDC. The CDC is flying in tomorrow and I think we are going to be in a good situation.
Hopefully, we are at the back end of the situation. It is the end of summer. We won't have as many mosquitoes to deal with. We are taking this day by day. It is a very serious issue.
You know, it is interesting we move from -- we shouldn't spray to are we spraying enough. I think we are balancing it out well.
WHITFIELD: So Mayor Rawlings, are you getting any clarity as to why has the Dallas area been hit so hard?
RAWLINGS: No. We haven't. We are going to have to do kind of a post operation assessment on this. We want to make sure we are prepared for next year. We all know that birds carry this virus and we want to make sure that next year we are prepared.
Now Dallas had a very mild winter. We had a lot of rain. We were very thankful for all the rain because we were part of the drought last year. That combination is going to create higher mosquito population. It really rests with the birds. Once we get this thing under control this fall we will get prepared for next year.
WHITFIELD: What are you telling people, you know, while some businesses are being hit because folks are refraining from going outside, they are staying indoors other businesses are doing well.
But what kind of advice do you have for people in the city who are very nervous and who feel like they are extremely fearful about any kind of mosquito bites?
RAWLINGS: Well, look, this is a serious issue. We have had ten deaths. We are the epicenter of this issue. The amazing thing, it happens right in your home or around your home in your backyard and front yard.
We have to get rid of standing water. We had a major storm last night. And I asked all the citizens to go out this afternoon and make sure there is no standing water to minimize that.
As long as you wear long sleeves and wear dark clothing. Don't go out at dusk. I mean, that is when the most activity is there. We will get through this.
That and a combination of the spraying I think I'm hopeful that we won't let this situation go on for a long time.
WHITFIELD: All right, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, thanks so much. All the best.
RAWLINGS: Thank you. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, in Central Texas, an early morning shooting in a Wal-Mart parking lot sending four people to the hospital. A suspect is in custody. No Wal-Mart employees or customers were involved.
Police say a fight broke out in the parking lot and one person opened fire. The four victims and the suspect were all taken to the hospital with nonlife threatening injuries. Seeder Park is 20 miles north of Austin.
In China, anti-Japan protests erupt in several cities. Thousands of people took to the streets across China smashing Japanese made cars and attacking Japanese restaurants. The attacks began after Japanese nationalists raised flags on a group of disputed islands.
Both Japan and China claimed the islands in the East China Sea. This is video showing the Chinese activists landing on the shore of the disputed islands. No one lives on the islands, but they are surrounded by rich fishing grounds.
A public university here in the states is giving tuition breaks to illegal immigrants. We will talk to the university president and the man who is suing to stop that program.
And Julian Assange, the man accused of rape and publicizing private information about the United States tells America to drop its quote, "witch hunt" against him.
And this 1960 concept car survived a government overthrow and made it through a war zone. My gosh, it's so pretty, isn't it? Well, today, the Plymouth has a new owner paying almost $1 million for it.
WHITFIELD: All right, a new twist to the drama unfolding outside Ecuador's embassy in London. For exactly two months Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has been hold up there avoiding extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning on alleged sex crimes.
Well, today, he stepped out on to the embassy balcony and delivered this demand to the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its wishes against Wikileaks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN international anchor, Ralitsa Vassileva, is with us now. So he says this is a witch hunt against him. So this is less about the charges in Sweden and more about what he believes is an front or assault by the U.S.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: In fact, he didn't mention those charges in Sweden. What he and his followers believe is that those charges and they are not charges in Sweden, they are accusations.
They want to question him in relation with two sexual assault allegations. But what he says is Sweden is just the stop on the way to him to be extra indicted to the United States.
Just an excuse to get him out of Britain and send him to Sweden where he will be extra indicted to the United States to face charges for leaking hundreds of thousands of pages of secret classified sensitive U.S. documents from the Iraq war and Afghan war.
The U.S. has not brought charges against him and has not taken action against him. However, analysts do say that Assange could be linked to Bradley Manning, who is a U.S. soldier, if you remember, who is facing a court marshal over allegations and charges that he leaked secret documents to Wikileaks.
WHITFIELD: In fact, Assange's statement today was kind of two folds. He actually made a plea for that Bradley Manning saying that, you know, he should be released. VASSILEVA: Yes, he said that Bradley Manning if he did what he did, he is, I think he said one of the foremost political prisoners in this world. He should be released and called for his release.
WHITFIELD: OK, so what is Ecuador's stake in this? Why is it working so hard to protect him?
VASSILEVA: Well, they haven't said why they are working so hard, but they believe him. Basically, they believe what Julian Assange is saying that this is political persecution.
It's all about freedom of expression and they believe that this is all part of what Assange is claiming to be, a way for him to be extra indicted ultimately to the United States to face retribution.
What Assange says is retribution for leaking those documents. They believe what Assange has told him that it is political.
WHITFIELD: This is a fascinating case. I guess, he enjoyed at least a breath of fresh air, but now it's back into the confines of the Ecuadorian embassy.
VASSILEVA: It's a tiny embassy, not even the first floor belongs to the embassy. It is an apartment building. It is one of the pushiest districts of London, but it's still an apartment building.
He has there one room for two months. If he steps outside British police have surrounded it and they are ready to arrest him because for the British police this is a law enforcement case.
It has nothing to do with what he is saying witch hunt, political retribution. They just say that there is an arrest warrant and they have to carry it out.
WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right, thanks so much, Ralitsa Vassileva for bringing us that. It's a complicated case and we know it is only going to get even more complicated.
VASSILEVA: Standoff continues. Tension between two countries over this one man.
WHITFIELD: That's right, fascinating. All right, thanks so much.
A photo leaked online could get this guy, Olympics swimmer, Michael Phelps, in hot water.
WHITFIELD: One of the world's biggest sports stars apologizes and Michael Phelps is back in the water, but this time it is hot water. NPR sports correspondent, Mike Pesca is here for smart sports.
All right, Mike, let's talk first about this English cricket player, Kevin Peterson, maybe a whole lot of American viewers not incredibly familiar with cricket, but it's a big sport around the world. This man is known for being a very confident and very controversial. He is described as one of the greatest players in the game, but now he's in quite a bind, right? Because he was caught sending texts to a South African team, but bad-mouthing his own English team. What gives?
MIKE PESCA, NPR SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that sort of churlishness transcends boundaries, right? So Kevin Peterson is a master batsman, but -- and who's born in South Africa. He sends some texts to pals of him on the South African team.
They are currently playing England so you don't want to text the opposition sentiments like I don't like my manager and I don't like my captain. He was suspended for this big test match that England was having with South Africa.
They are just about -- England is just about ready to lose that test match. You know, these things take four and a half years. But they take quite a while in cricket. England is going to fall from the number one ranking.
But a guy named Piers Morgan, maybe you know him, he is somehow embroiled in the story. He is pals with Peterson. There is a fake Twitter account involved.
It's a crazy story and it just shows that no matter how proper you think the sport is there is nuttiness all over the world of sports.
WHITFIELD: So this Peterson guy just can't just enjoy the fact that he is one of the greatest in the game and he enjoys all this great celebrity. He is popular for, you know, his athletic prowess and then this? He wants to throw this into it? I don't get it.
PESCA: I mean, I guess he was venting. He didn't think the text would go public. If you are the South African team you have these texts you are like if I leak these, the best guy on the other team is out. So, of course, you're going to leak them, yes.
WHITFIELD: Boy, what a mess, OK, Olympics are over. Some of us are kind of in mourning, you know, withdrawals and all that good stuff. But there is a lingering controversy now, the IOC has this provision known as Rule 40.
It means that Olympic athletes cannot promote non-official sponsors for about a month after the end of the games. But this week a picture of Michael Phelps in a Louis Vuitton campaign was leaked.
So who is going to be in trouble here, Louis Vuitton or Michael Phelps? Did he, you know, violate any rules or especially if it was leaked.
PESCA: Yes, here is the deal. Not Louis Vuitton because we just said the words Louis Vuitton a few times, right? Everyone is showing this photo. I think they are doing all right.
Phelps, he has his 20 medals. They are not going to be stripping him of medals. I think what the rule is the Olympics guards its imagery with the zeal of a Bulgarian weight lifter.
And not only do they say while you are participating in the Olympics and for like three days afterwards you can't do an ad. It seems to me do they really have this reach.
For a guy like Michael Phelps who is big and powerful he and his people can say we shot the campaign when we shot it. We didn't officially release it. You can't blame us for a leak and that's true.
I just worry about the number of shot putters and players way down on the food chain who might be able to get a little nibble, but you have to strike when the iron is hot and it is hot right after the Olympics.
So every member of USA track and field team tweeted out against Rule 40 specifically Rule 40 Paragraph 3, which has this embargoed period where they can't advertise. I don't know.
The Olympics were great. The IOC does some good things, but they also try to have this long arm of the law extend possibly into areas where it shouldn't be extended.
WHITFIELD: Interesting stuff. All right, thanks so much, Mike Pesca. Welcome back from London. You did an awesome job while over there. Glad to see you back in New York.
WHITFIELD: All right, Mike, appreciate it. He joins us every week at this time. If you like our conversation, tune in next Sunday in the 5:00 Eastern Hour.
All right, a one of a kind concept car once owned by the Shah of Iran now has a new owner. The Plymouth XMR went on the auction block yesterday in California and sold for $935,000.
CNN Money's Peter Valdes-Dapena shows us why this car is so valuable.
PETER VALDES DAPENA, SENIOR WRITER, CNNMONEY: This is the 1960 Plymouth XNR concept car. It is a masterpiece by one of the greatest car designers America has ever had.
Unlike a lot of concept vehicles this is a real drivable car with a body made from steel. Back in the day they had this car up to 150 miles per hour on the test rack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The XNR Sportster is an idea car built my one of the major automobile manufacturers. Its innovations may well foreshadow things to come on America's highways.
DAPENA: After it was finished at show car days this car ended up being owned by the Shah of Iran. After that things got a little murky, but somehow it ended up in a parking garage in Beirut during the civil war. Where it was found by a car collector who spent years moving it from place to place to keep it out of danger. In 2008, he turned the project over to RM Restorations to fix it up to the condition you see here today. Just about it looked back in 1960.
WHITFIELD: Boy, that is one sweet ride. Peter tells us that the auction house has not released the name of the person who bought the car understandably.
All right, a public university in the United States is giving tuition breaks to illegal immigrants. Why? We'll talk with university president and a man who is suing to stop that program.
WHITFIELD: We are following new developments concerning last week's ambush killings of two deputies in Louisiana. New reports reveals some of the seven suspects may have links to a violent group that's being watched the FBI.
Susan Candiotti is following these new developments and joins us now from New York. So Susan, what more can you tell us about this?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, two law enforcement officials say some of the suspects in the case may have ties to an antigovernment group called "Sovereign Citizens."
Now "Sovereign Citizens" is listed on the FBI's domestic terror web site. It does not recognize the authority of law enforcement and furthermore has been known to advocate the use of violence.
Now seven people are charged in last Thursday's shootings of four deputies outside of New Orleans. Two were killed and two were wounded. Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle of De Soto Parish in north western Louisiana says his department had previous surveillance on all, but one of the suspects.
He turned over his file to state police leading the investigation into the shootings further south near New Orleans. About two months ago, Arbuckle's deputies set up a surveillance on the group for about a week.
He says investigators were working on a tip that the men had AK-47s and a lot of ammo in their trailer. But authorities never saw the suspects who were in the process of moving out of state -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: So what else are we learning about the suspects?
CANDIOTTI: Well, one of them, Terry Lynn Smith has a Facebook page. It includes a photo of Smith holding a gun. Under the photo, he appears to comment for all you haters see the snake eye. It is unclear who he means by haters.
Under political views listed independent citizens whose stated mission is giving government back to the people. Now Sheriff Arbuckle says he believes that group is linked to "Sovereign Citizens."
Now law enforcement sources say it is too early to fully link the deputy's shootings to the "Sovereign Citizens" extremist group. Smith's son also charged in the case has a Facebook page, as well.
In it, he has pictures where he too is posing with guns including what appears to be an assault weapon. He is supposed to be the alleged to be the shooter in one of the incidents involving the deputies in Louisiana.
WHITFIELD: All right, Susan Candiotti, thanks so much for that update on suspects and where the investigation is going. Appreciate that.
CANDIOTTI: You bet.
WHITFIELD: All right, tomorrow is the first day of classes at Metropolitan State University of Denver. For the first time, dozens of children of illegal immigrants will be able to attend at a much lower tuition rate than they were paying before.
The school's Board of Trustees approved the new lower rate in June. Before that the students were charged out-of-state rates, about $15,000 a year, and now they'll pay almost half that. Their tuition is still nearly $3,000 more than legal in-state students pay, but the students say the reduction is a huge help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTOR GALVIN, IMMIGRANT: I'm as American as, you know, my brother who was born here. You know, I'm as American as my friends who graduated from high school. It's the equality. You know? They are finally treating us as equals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me now from Denver, Stephen Jordan, he is the president of Metropolitan State University of Denver.
All right. So, Mr. President, why did you decide to do this?
STEPHEN JORDAN, PRESIDENT, METROPOLITAN STATE UNIVERSITY OF DENVER: A couple of reasons. First of all, we are an institution that predominantly serves people in the metropolitan area. Ninety-one percent of our students come from the seven county metro area and 97 percent are from the state of Colorado.
Colorado has the largest educational attainment gap of any state in the nation, which means that we have the largest gap between the baccalaureate attainment of whites and the largest minority population, Hispanics. We have a very large Hispanic population and it's our view that where the state has spent as much as $85,000 in investing in these young people's K-12 education why wouldn't it make sense to provide them affordable post-secondary experience with no state subsidy to allow these individuals to become meaningful participants in the economy of Colorado. WHITFIELD: Are there other students who were offered the same kind of, you know, dispensation or discount because they have financial hardships to the same degree?
JORDAN: You know, what we have done on this policy is it's really tied to attendance to a Colorado high school. And what we've said is that any person who has attended a Colorado high school for three years, has graduated from that high school and has remained and immediately gone into college or subsequently gotten a GED and then gotten to college is eligible for this tuition. So that means someone from another state perhaps could come to Colorado, attend high school here for three years, and if they made application they could take advantage of this, as well.
So it's really meant to focus around people who have attended Colorado high schools and who have a high probability of remaining here in Colorado and being a part of our economy.
WHITFIELD: So you said there is a significant number of Hispanics in your community. But does that mean many or most of whom would be considered illegal immigrants?
JORDAN: Well, Colorado has an overall population of -- about 20 percent of its population are of Hispanic background. And certainly there are a significant number of undocumented individuals in Colorado and in the seven county metropolitan area.
I can just say that since we have approved this policy in June we have 180 new students who have signed up under this policy. And they've had a very, very short period of time in which they could execute the policy or execute the necessary paperwork. So we believe that there is a significant pool of potential students. It's been estimated that there could be as many as 500 out there throughout the state that would take advantage of this. And I expect we will see continued growth in the spring semester.
WHITFIELD: Did this come about to be rolled out in concert with the executive order that the president is allowing for, you know, two years of either a work permit or special conditions for some illegal immigrants to continue to go to school?
JORDAN: You know, there's been significant speculation about that. And the truth of it is they were two very separate parallel processes. We knew nothing about the president's executive order when we moved forward on this.
Having said that, you know, clearly from the beginning one of the criticisms had been, why are you doing this? Because in the end these young people will not be able to get work legally. What the president's executive order has done, as it's being implemented, is that it has put together both the waiver or the stoppage of any deportation proceedings and as well as the work permit with -- that is, for two years and renewable.
So for our students who are -- who again across-the-board are predominantly low income, first generation, having to go to work to go to school at the same time, this actually is a benefit for these students because it will allow them to work legally while they're going to school.
WHITFIELD: So, Mr. President, how do you respond to critics who say that they are planning to sue? We're going to talk to one of the critics on the other side of the break, who says they're planning to sue and they're also particularly outraged because this is a measure that failed in the legislature at least twice before and the university has chosen to go forward with it anyway.
JORDAN: Sure. Let me speak to the latter question first. The proposal in the legislature is very similar to those that have been adopted in a number of other states and throughout the country. And it is really to provide, to make these -- those students eligible for public benefit by allowing them to come in at resident tuition rates.
What we have done is said, look, that bill has not been successful for six consecutive years. It's clear that the state has said it is not interested in providing a state subsidy. What we've done is -- taken advantage of our long-standing authority to set nonresident tuition rates. We've established a specific nonresident rate with a set of criteria for that rate that is much more affordable but it still takes out all -- it still take out all public subsidy and even puts in it a proxy for the cost of capital so that -- so that these students are providing for that, as well.
I would say for those who would -- who say say that what we're doing is not correct, you know, we have researched both federal law and state law and I think we are convinced that we are acting actually in accord with the current statutory and federal definitions of public benefit.
WHITFIELD: OK. All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Thanks so much, President Stephen Jordan, Metropolitan State University of Denver. Appreciate your time.
JORDAN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: So as we mentioned, there are people who are outraged about this. And when we return we'll talk to a critic who is planning to sue in order to reverse this policy.
WHITFIELD: There is fierce opposition to a move by a Colorado university to lower tuition rates for children of illegal immigrants. We just talked to the president of Metropolitan State University of Denver who backed the move by the school's Board of Trustees. And now a critic who is suing the school to get the policy reversed.
Tom Tancredo is a former congressman and the current co-chair of the anti-illegal immigration Team America PAC. He joins us now from Denver.
So, Congressman, before children of illegal immigrants were charged out-of-state rates of about $15,000 a year and now the school is cutting that in half, you say that is illegal. Why?
TOM TANCREDO, FORMER COLORADO CONGRESSMAN: Well, it's an opinion not just I hold but it's an opinion held by the U.S. attorney here in Colorado who issued his opinion about a month ago. And it's very clear and it's -- I think, when it's presented in front of a judge it's going to be pretty compelling when he says they did not have the authority, that board did not have the authority to unilaterally do what they did. Of course I also believe it's against --
WHITFIELD: Because it is a state-funded school?
TANCREDO: Yes, that's correct. And because the constitution -- I mean the state of Colorado both in constitution and in statute provides for exactly how tuitions can be set in various circumstances. There is nothing that allows the board at Metro to do what they did. And that was the opinion of the attorney general of the state of Colorado, not just mine.
WHITFIELD: So when you hear from the president, you know, can you hear kind of the compassion that he is speaking to which is many of these students are likely to stay within the state and because they've already shown a commitment to stay in the state and as high school students and they are trying to pursue and improve their lives with higher education that there should be incentives for them to be able to meet those dreams, meet those needs.
TANCREDO: Yes. Well, there are a couple of ways in which he can pursue that. One would be to go to the state legislature and ask them to pass a bill that does exactly what Metro has done. The state legislature has six times now refused to pass that legislation. It's been presented, it has failed. That's an indication that the state of Colorado does not approve of this particular plan. But that is one way to deal with it. That is a legal way to deal with it. And that's, of course, the only way it should be done.
The idea that we can just continue, that the president of the United States and that the president of Metropolitan State University and his board can just say, you know, we really don't like these laws. Yes, they're on the books but we think we can finagle away around them. Let's try to do that. And even if they -- the state legislature has turned us down let's do it anyway.
Well, you know, what is left? What kind of a country is it that you can do this? A college can do it, even a president can do it by signing executive orders that he should never be able to do. I mean somewhere someone along the line has got to say this is not right. It is illegal. Beside that, what do you do? What do you tell all of the people who have come here the right way?
How do you explain this? That they spent all the money, the time, the brain damage, to come through the process, to wait in the line? Why? Because if they didn't, don't worry, if you come into the country illegally eventually you're going to be given all of those -- all of the benefits that you would otherwise have gotten. It's not fair. It's simply not fair. WHITFIELD: All right. Tom Tancredo, thanks so much for your time. And at what point -- what is the timetable for your lawsuit or for, you know, the attorney general's offices pursuit on whether to reverse that policy?
TANCREDO: Yes. I don't know what the attorney general's office is doing about it. I don't know what they're timeframe is. We are looking at certainly doing something within the next several weeks.
WHITFIELD: All right. Tom Tancredo, thanks so much for your time joining us from Denver.
TANCREDO: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. We're going to be catching up with a trucker turned tri-athlete. That's straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: We're now just a month away from the Nautica Malibu triathlon. When CNN viewers will compete alongside our very own Dr. Sanjay Gupta. After seven long months of training today we get to see how things are coming along for a truck driver who is one of the lucky seven.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): A lot of people have busy lives. I mean you just drove 800 miles. Is that right?
GLENN KELLER, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: Yes, sir.
GUPTA: And just fitting in time to exercise must be challenging.
KELLER: It's really challenging. It's kind of a thing where I can't wait to find time. I've actually got to make time. And I stop at the truck stop for fuel before I go to bed or something when I first get up. Because by the time my day gets going I don't even know where I'm going to end up or where I'm going to stop then, and what the situation is going to be, so a lot of OK, this is an opportunity, a time to do something.
GUPTA: You know, when we are in Hawaii swimming you and I talked about this briefly. And I -- we have said look, if you don't feel comfortable or safe by the time the triathlon comes around we don't want you to swim.
GUPTA: What do you -- what are you thinking? We're about a month -- six weeks out, what are you thinking?
KELLER: At the time I was thinking wow, they have gone through all of this and then get to Malibu and not be able to swim that would have been probably the biggest let-down. So it kind of -- it kind of nudged me to really kind of start concentrating and asking people questions.
GUPTA: Right now you think -- you think you want to do the swim?
KELLER: I believe I will be ready to do the swim. Without a doubt.
GUPTA: A lot of people may not noticed about you but you were displaced after Katrina.
KELLER: Yes, sir.
GUPTA: I mean -- and then you moved to -- and you've made your life there after that.
KELLER: I did. Yes, sir.
GUPTA: There is a -- there is a church, the Lower Ninth Ward, I believe, that has asked you to come back and be their pastor.
KELLER: Yes, they have.
GUPTA: I mean I heard that today. I was just -- that's really sort of very flattering. I mean it's quite an honor.
KELLER: And I feel really honored. It's been quite an experience. We had a chance to have the first service there.
GUPTA: It's still being rebuilt.
KELLER: It's in the process of being re-modeled.
GUPTA: So you did the service outside?
KELLER: We actually did the service inside. And I have an invert of (INAUDIBLE). I got an extension cord and ran it to the breaker box and all the lights came on. The ceiling fan, the lights, the wall sockets.
GUPTA: You know, the messiah now.
KELLER: Let there be light.
GUPTA: Let there be light. I love it. It's always great to see you. And I feel -- I feel good about my job when I get to talk to you. I feel like we're actually making an impact. So I appreciate that.
KELLER: I feel great being associated with you and your team.
WHITFIELD: We're rooting them on. If you'd like to follow Glen and the other teammates' progress as they lead up to big race day, go to CNN.com/fitnation.
WHITFIELD: You would probably recognize her one-of-a-kind sound or this smash hit.
WHITFIELD: All right. And that was Grammy Award winning Macy Gray is touring the U.S. She's quite busy, you know. She has a movie coming out later on this year alongside Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey.
I spoke with Macy about her new album and what's next for her.
WHITFIELD: You really seem to drive your own ship as it pertains to music. You have a distinctive style. And when you say, you know, I want to depart and try something new and different, I want to compile an incredible arrangement of music from Metallica, to Radiohead, Eurythmics. You'd do that?
MACY GRAY, SINGER AND ACTRESS: Mm-hmm.
WHITFIELD: How did this come about? Because that really does showcase this latest album.
GRAY: Yes. It's actually I've always wanted to do a cover album. And -- so I was actually listening to all these Nina Simone covers where she would take like a -- you know, like rock and roll songs and she would turn them into these, like, incredible Nina Simone songs. So it's like, you know, like Nina Simone challenge. So we did -- we did all my favorite rock covers and then I turned them into, like, you know, like a real soul album.
WHITFIELD: How did you pick these selections? Were these songs that, you know, make you feel a certain way? A certain message about them? Or is it the artist behind the selections of music?
GRAY: I definitely wanted to pick a style of music that was far away from what I do. So I didn't want to do solo R&B so we got into like Metallica and Radiohead. That's away -- far away. And then -- but I'm also a big fan of those artists and their music and ultimately, though, it was the lyrics. You know?
Like the songs I felt like I could sing them and I could mean it. You know, it would sound honest coming from me. So really that was the main thing. It's like something I could really put my heart into lyrically. I'm very comfortable on stage and in music. It's kind of where the only time I feel completely, you know, at home and comfortable on my self, you know.
WHITFIELD: And this seems like a big year. You have yet another album production coming out.
WHITFIELD: Tell me about that.
GRAY: We're doing a remake album. So we did the covers. And now we have this idea to actually remake so we were like going back and forth with all these albums. But one of my favorite albums in the whole world is "Talking" by Stevie Wonder. And it just so happens it's the 40th anniversary of that album because it was made in 1972. So it was perfect to do. We actually just finished it last night.
WHITFIELD: And that's a bold move to touch anything Stevie Wonder.
GRAY: I know.
WHITFIELD: Intimidating at all?
GRAY: Yes. Just --
WHITFIELD: Nerve wracking?
GRAY: Yes. Completely. I feel completely inferior every time I listen to his records. But --
WHITFIELD: Have you heard from him or have you reached out to him to let him know that you're doing this?
GRAY: I know I called a couple of times. He's not the easiest guy to get in touch with so -- hopefully he'll hear it and he'll finally call me back, you know,
WHITFIELD: All right. And then you have a movie coming out.
WHITFIELD: Nicole Kidman. Big names. You know, Matthew McConaughey. You are -- you know, not new to movies. We've seen you in "Colored Girls", "Training Day."
WHITFIELD: What's different about this one? "Paperboy."
GRAY: It's the new Lee Daniels movie which is -- it's really exciting. He's such an awesome person and director. And the story is really incredible. It's a story that no one has ever told before. And it actually takes place in the south and in the '70s. And it's very different. You know? It's very dark and interesting. There's a lot of, like, sex and love and mystery and murder in it. It's pretty awesome.
WHITFIELD: What do you like about your character? Or how do you identify with your character?
GRAY: Well, she's very -- I play a housekeeper. And one thing I learned in this role is that the people that work in your home are very observant. Because they see everything. Like they hear all the arguments, you know? They know what your underwear looks like, you know what I mean? So she's someone who knows everything without telling everybody.
WHITFIELD: It seems as though you're able to be very loyal to, you know, who you are. You being very loyal to the Macy Gray that first came first on to the scene. It's a very unique voice, very unique image.
GRAY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And you've been able to hold on to that and it's very hard in the industry of Hollywood whether it's music or movies. Is there a secret behind how you're able to do that? How you're able to hold on to Macy Gray?
GRAY: I really don't know any other way. That's the first time I ever even thought about it. So, you know, I just -- I love what I do. And I really don't know how to be anyone else. You know what I mean?
WHITFIELD: We're glad she is just who she is. Macy Gray. Besides working in music and film, Macy Gray is also an activist. Recently she performed at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She's also helped raised money for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
That's going to do it for me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. You have a great week. Much more of the NEWSROOM straight ahead at the top of the hour with my colleague Alison Kosik in for Don Lemon.
Have a good evening, Alison.