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Secret Suspicion; Katrina Report; Calcium Study

Aired February 16, 2006 - 07:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: You're watching AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Columbus Circle on a misty morning in Manhattan.

MILES O'BRIEN: We're glad you're with us on this misty morning, or whatever it's like wherever you are in your part of the world. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING 7:30 Eastern Time.

In just a little bit, we're going to talk to one of the people responsible and sort of shepherding through this report post-Katrina. And it is such a scathing indictment of our government. Saying, in essence, there was just no initiative taken by our government, pro- active initiative, in a way that would have lessened the misery, perhaps saved lives. So we'll talk to Tom Davis in just a little bit.

VERJEE: Yes, we'll take a look at that.

And also, if you're taking calcium to prevent osteoporosis, you may want to stick around because there's a new study out that's raising a lot of troubling questions. We'll talk a look at that.

Meanwhile, we'll go to Carol for the headlines.

Hi, Carol.


And good morning to all of you.

Accused killer Neil Entwistle to plead not guilty later today, so his lawyer says. Entwistle arrived back in the United States Wednesday afternoon, more than a week after he was arrested in England. He's scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon. Entwistle faces murder charges in last month's shooting deaths of his wife and their nine-month-old daughter.

Florida officials under growing pressure to launch an investigation into the death of a 14-year-old at a state boot camp. Martin Lee Anderson died on January 6th in the juvenile detention center in Bay County, Florida. His mother, Gina Jones, says guards beat him to death.


GINA JONES, DEAD BOY'S MOTHER: My baby was murdered. And what went on with my baby, and the pain I'm going through, I wish that on no mom. Please don't let my baby's death be in vain. Don't let this happen to another child.


COSTELLO: Governor Jeb Bush says his heart goes out to the family, but he's urging them to be patient until a formal investigation is complete.

The bird flu is spreading farther west in Europe. Two dead swans were discovered Tuesday on a German island. Officials confirmed they were infected with the deadly form of the virus. Germany is now moving all of its poultry indoors to limit contact with wild birds.

And there's a new meaning to the phrase "I heart New York." You know, I love New York. The big apple is getting an official condom. No word yet on the name or image. It's from the New York City Health Department. Officials distribute more than 1 million free condoms each month. Just so you know.

Back to you, Zain.

VERJEE: Thanks, Carol.

Vice President Dick Cheney has finally gone public about his hunting accident. But as CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider reports, that may not put an end to people's suspicions.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): A former Republican member of Congress who served with Dick Cheney made this observation about the vice president.

VIN WEBER, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: His job was to be supportive behind the scenes and, in many ways, to stay behind the scenes. As far behind the scenes as you could get.

SCHNEIDER: That's how Cheney has operated as vice president. He kept the records of his energy task force private. His former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, says Cheney authorized him to leak classified intelligence information to the press in order to make the case for war, privately. Operating in secret carries risks. The press doesn't like it. That's what Cheney supporters believe is driving this controversy.

CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's a pure inside the beltway story and the theme is the entitlement of the press rather than the health or the accident victim.

SCHNEIDER: But the public doesn't like all the secrecy either.

WEBER: He's not particularly concerned about how that affects his public image and the public doesn't necessarily like it. The public is sort of saying, pay more attention to how you look to us, Mr. Vice President. SCHNEIDER: Many Republicans who have to face the voters this fall are concerned that Cheney is becoming a liability with voters. They are pressuring him to be more forthcoming.

REP CHRIS SHAYS, (R) CONNECTICUT: It's like they don't learn. I mean, obviously, this information's going to come out, so just let it come out.

SCHNEIDER: Cheney's behavior in this very personal situation confirms a damaging stereotype about this administration, that it hides things, that it isn't very forthcoming, that it doesn't want the people to know what's really going on.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


VERJEE: Analysts trying to gauge what President Bush thinks are reading between the lines of a White House statement. It simply said, "you can always look back at these issues and work to do better in the future."

MILES O'BRIEN: Two are dead after an Arizona dust storm led to a chain of accidents on Interstate 8 near Phoenix yesterday. Witnesses said high winds and blowing dust had reduced visibility on the highway to zero. Eight vehicles in all involved in a total of four collisions.

Head north, and this is what you see. Wind, mixed with snow, another formula for traffic accidents. This one near Salt Lake City. On Interstate 80 alone, there were at least 75 traffic accidents and that was before noon yesterday. There was one fatal accident. The victim was a five-year-old boy.

Bonnie Schneider in the weather center.

Bonnie, good morning.


MILES O'BRIEN: We're going to be talking to Representative Tom Davis. He's on that select Katrina committee. We'll talk about that report that was released yesterday in just a few moments.

But, in the meantime.

VERJEE: Andy is "Minding Your Business," as he does always a marvelous job.


ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much. With or without the trumpets too.

We've got ourselves another CEO resume fudger folks. So we'll talk about that. Plus, another consumer electronics format. Sony customers seem to be saying no. Stay tuned to AMERICAN MORNING for all of that coming up next.


MILES O'BRIEN: Well, if you've been following the story of Hurricane Katrina, the response or lack of response to it, it should come as no surprise. But reading it, nonetheless, it is a very damning document. This is a report which comes out of the Katrina Select Committee which looked into the failings of government at every level in response to that terrible killer storm and it finds failings at every level. Virginia Congressman Tom Davis is chairman of the House committee that produced the Katrina report. He joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Congressman, it's good to have you with us.

It is -- it's kind of heartening reading it, isn't it?

REP. TOM DAVIS, (R) LED KATRINA INVESTIGATION: Well, I mean, everything there was a disappointment. This was the largest storm in history and some of the bureaucratic snafus that occurred, ordinarily you can get away with, but in this case they just became exaggerated in the problems that they caused.

MILES O'BRIEN: You know, we've talked an awful lot about FEMA's situation and its -- as we look at pictures of people that were stranded in New Orleans in the wake of this storm. We've talked about FEMA no longer being cabinet level and being underneath Department of Homeland Security. I'm curious if FEMA in general, if it's your sense it is just simply understaffed?

DAVIS: In theory, FEMA doesn't need to be a large organization, but they have to be able to get all of the assets of the federal government together quickly. And being staffed within the Department of Homeland Security, it seemed to be hindered in this particular case because they had to go through bureaucratic levels that if they were attached to the White House they wouldn't have to do. So in this particular case, we had a national response plan under the Department of Homeland Security and it just didn't work.

MILES O'BRIEN: Let me ask you this, though. You know, we talk about those bureaucratic levels being underneath Homeland Security. If the leadership had been more responsive, would those bureaucratic levels still have been a roadblock to providing timely help or is there just too much inertia in the system even if great leadership was involved?

DAVIS: Well, I think part of it's systematic and part of it was leadership. One of the difficulties you had here is, Michael Brown had done a good job on other hurricanes, not cat fives, but large hurricanes, but he'd worked directly with the White House. This time under the national response plan, he was working with the Department of Homeland Security and it was just bad chemistry. We also -- a problem is, we never had a unified command between the state and the local and the federal government down in Louisiana. So they didn't coordinate the evacuation, which was primarily a local responsibility, did not take place in New Orleans. It took place in some of the lower parishes in Mississippi and that caused a huge problem.

MILES O'BRIEN: Now this report came out as the head of Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, was on Capitol Hill getting a grilling from other corners as well. Let's listen in. One of the issues that has come up was that he was detached. He kind of -- he went to sleep without really knowing what was going on and so forth. Sort of aloof to the whole thing. Let's listen for just a moment.



MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: First of all, I have to say, that the idea that this department and this administration and the president were somehow detached from Katrina is simply not correct, in my view and in my recollection of what happened. We were acutely aware of Katrina and the risk it posed.


MILES O'BRIEN: They were acutely aware of Katrina and the risk it posed, he said. I don't see a lot of proof of that, do you?

DAVIS: Well, there were - what happens, there were a lot of phone calls with Michael Brown on the ground. And every time they ended the calls, the president or the secretary or Andy Card or somebody would say, do you have everything you need and he'd say yes, but there was no supervision. And they were just not engaged. This was the largest storm in recorded history and they didn't treat it that way. They treated this like other storms. They didn't have enough assets on the ground. And this just took a higher level, I think, of involvement than we've ever seen before and they just -- they did not perform.

MILES O'BRIEN: You know, there's a lot of talk here about initiative or lack of initiative and it kind of hearkens back to the 9/11 report and that report the term was imagination. Initiative and imagination lacking in the U.S. federal government when you put those two reports together. This is a country that was built on initiative and imagination. Why is our government somehow disconnected from what makes this country great?

DAVIS: Because we have an economy that is digital but we have a government that's still very analog. And the way that government is structured makes it very difficult to allow people to be -- to take the initiative and have the imagination that you get in the private sector. The incentives are perverse and everything else is. So the nature of government itself. And until we change that culture, I think we're going to lag behind what we're capable of doing. MILES O'BRIEN: Well, I mean, you just -- I think you just hit on the 800-pound gorilla in the room here. How do you fix something as big as that? That's a mess, isn't it?

DAVIS: It is very difficult. We've done it in small cases, but it means -- it has everything to do with reorganizing the civil service, to allowing, you know, certain incentives for people to take chances. In government you get rewarded for not taking a chance, for going by the book. Then if something goes wrong, you go by the book, you get promoted. In the private sector you get awarded for initiative. It's just, you know, for transparency and for other reasons that we bring to government, those are not the kind of things that produce initiative.

MILES O'BRIEN: Tom Davis, Republican, chair of the Katrina Select Committee, good work on the report. Thanks for bringing it all to light for us. And thanks for your time.

DAVIS: Miles, thank you. Thanks.


VERJEE: Miles, if you really want to get that job or you're a little bit worried about your resume isn't beefed up enough and you (INAUDIBLE).

MILES O'BRIEN: You make a few things up, right? Isn't that what you do?

VERJEE: Well, yes, isn't that how you got this position?

SERWER: That's how I got this job. Yes. No, not true. I want to state very clearly.

Why do they do it? Why do people lie? Why do CEOs lie, football coaches, public officials lie on their resumes? Don't they know they very, very often get caught? Well, we've got another one here. The CEO of RadioShack, one Dave Edmondson, claimed that he earned two degrees from a school -- it's Pacific College Baptist University -- College . . .

MILES O'BRIEN: No one's heard of it. It doesn't matter.

SERWER: In California and the school says he didn't.


VERJEE: Why lie about it?

SERWER: And he said now that he said very clearly that I didn't get the degrees and, listen to this, "I accept responsibility for these misstatements. The responsibility is mine alone." Well, that's very big of you. He also faces charges for DWI, so this gentleman's got all kinds of problems. The company still stands by him for now. But, you know, we've seen this before. My favorite is the CEO of a software company called Veritas who lied about his resume, said he had an MBA from Stanford.

MILES O'BRIEN: And we know what Veritas translated from Latin, truth.

VERJEE: Truth.

SERWER: Truth. Yes. That's a good one.

MILES O'BRIEN: Can't make that stuff up, can we?

SERWER: No. That's, you know, that happens.

VERJEE: But they know they will get caught. I mean it's just eventually, you know.

SERWER: Well, there are probably some out there who haven't been caught though, right?

VERJEE: Yes. Well, I guess when you make it up . . .

MILES O'BRIEN: So you -- no, go ahead. Are you finished?


MILES O'BRIEN: You're not a particle physicist? Is that wrong?

SERWER: No, but I didn't -- I speak French a little bit.

I want to talk about this electronics deal here. The portable Sony PlayStation, known as the PSP. You probably see people holding up these things and looking at them. Now this was supposed to compete against the Game Boy, and it has, but it also was supposed to not just do games but also movies. The movie come on these little disc do- hickies (ph) and it seems that the movies are not selling well. And this doesn't have to do with the size of the screen because, you know, iTunes, people are watching movies and TV shows on those screens. It has to do with another format. People do not want another disc size floating around their living room or family rooms. They've just had it. So Sony tries to force formats on people all the time and it's just not working, I think. And that's it.

MILES O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

VERJEE: Thanks.

All right. Still to come, researchers say calcium may not protect women's bones as well as we thought. We're going to take a look at whether you should keep taking those supplements, if you are.

MILES O'BRIEN: And later, do you need a magnifying glass just to read a restaurant menu? I think that's the owl. The owl.

SERWER: The owl. MILES O'BRIEN: You've been up late watching TV, haven't you, Andy. Ahead some tips on keeping your vision into your 30s, 40s, 50s and onward. Stay with us.


VERJEE: Calcium supplements may not be all they're cracked up to be. A major new study shows only limited protection for older women against bone fractures. Ohio State Researcher Dr. Rebecca Jackson is the lead author of the calcium study and she joins us now from Columbus, Ohio.

Thanks for being with us.


VERJEE: What's the bottom line we need to take from this report? What should women do?

JACKSON: Well this study shows that postmenopausal women, particularly women over the age of 60, have a modest benefit on reducing loss of bone mass at the hip and their risk for hip fractures. This would suggest that women should meet the current recommended guidelines of 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 units of vitamin D per day.

VERJEE: But it reverses popular beliefs, doesn't it, because it says that, you know, taking calcium and vitamin D supplements will be limited in its benefits and not what doctors and nutritionists had initially endorsed, saying absolutely take this, it will help.

JACKSON: Well, I think that what it does is it really helps us understand the magnitude of the effect. So that we now know that this really does ensure us kind of our foundation or our base. But for individuals at particularly high risk for osteoporosis and for fracture, they need to go and talk with their healthcare provider to determine whether bone mass testing or, in fact, other bone active agents might also be necessary.

VERJEE: How do we know that the study that was done in the subgroups and the qualitative or quantitative analyses that you do is, in fact, representative of all women?

JACKSON: Well, the Women's Health Initiative really worked very hard to make sure that it was inclusive of women that represented the women across the United States.

VERJEE: Right.

JACKSON: And so we focused on some groups that were what we called biologically plausible. Hip fractures primarily occur in women over the age of 60, so looking at a subgroup analysis in women where hip fractures are most likely to occur, where there were a large number of fractures, showed a statistically significant 21 percent decrease in hip fractures.

VERJEE: What does the research show about taking calcium naturally through foods or via pills as supplements?

JACKSON: Well, we believe that the current guidelines recommend that one should try to meet their calcium and vitamin D requirements through the combination of their diet and their supplements. If one can't do it through foods, then one uses supplements to get to the recommended levels.

VERJEE: You've got some tips on how women can prevent bone loss and I just want to go through some of them quickly and you can talk a little bit about it.


VERJEE: First of all, you say, regular, physical activity is always good. That can't hurt.

JACKSON: Right. And the kind of physical activity that really works for osteoporosis is that which is ether weight bearing or resistance like weight training types of activity.

VERJEE: Moderating alcohol.

JACKSON: Most epidemiologic studies would suggest that modest alcohol intake, less than one alcoholic beverage per day, was probably safe for bone, but certainly excessive alcohol intake puts a woman at risk.

VERJEE: Smoking.

JACKSON: Cigarette smoking is probably the one thing that everybody could do that would significantly reduce their risk of multiple disease, including osteoporosis. Not only does cigarette smoking contribute to low bone mass, but it actually independently contributes to a woman's risk for a fracture.

VERJEE: And finally you recommend getting bone mass testing.

JACKSON: Absolutely. The U.S. Preventative Health Services Task Force suggests that all women over the age of 65, or individuals who are at particular risk for osteoporosis, should talk to their physician about being more informed by getting bone mass testing.

VERJEE: With this study, at the end of the day, what should women listening to you this morning take away from it?

JACKSON: I think that probably what women should do is they should go back and look at their current dietary intake of calcium. And if postmenopausal women, particularly those over 60, aren't meeting the current recommendations of three to four dairy servings per day, that they should talk to their physician and make a decision whether calcium supplements plus adequate vitamin D would be appropriate to ensure bone health.

VERJEE: But generally, taking calcium with vitamin D is going to be helpful to women over 50 or not? JACKSON: Well, we believe that it's important to install these preventative measures early, although that the data show that the greatest reduction in hip fractures was seen in the women over the age of 60.

VERJEE: Doctor Rebecca Jackson, thank you so much.

JACKSON: Thank you so much for having me.

VERJEE: Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN: Coming up, eyes starting to go as you get older? Yes. You need the owl, don't you? Well, if you're having trouble reading a menu, there's still plenty you can do to keep them from getting worse. We got some tips in our health series, 30, 40, 50.

Plus, a canine contender goes on the lam (ph). Fell off a truck over there at JFK, sort of. Got freed from a cage anyhow. A massive search for a prized pooch from the Westminster Dog Show ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



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