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Dangerously Cold Temperatures Grip Country From Midwest To Northeast
Aired February 5, 2007 - 07:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: And Peyton's Place. Peyton Manning spurs the Colts to a "Super Bowl" win. History made on the sidelines on this AMERICAN MORNING.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning. Welcome back. Monday, February 5th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us this morning.
S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin with the weather, shall we? Because it's not good. In fact, it's dangerously cold. Wind chill warnings are in effect right now across the Midwest into the Northeast.
Take a look at this map here. Chicago is at minus 9 degrees; minus 26 with the wind chill. In New York it is 9 degrees, but if you calculate in the wind chill, it's minus 8. Buffalo, New York, 1 degree, 1 lonely degree there in Buffalo. The wind chill, though, makes it minus 20. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, minus 10 degrees. That's the real temperature. Minus 31 with the wind there.
We'll have a look at what people in Milwaukee are facing this morning. Here is Ty Milburn; he's with our affiliate there WTMJ.
TY MILBURN, REPORTER, WTMJ TV (on camera): In Milwaukee folks are waking up to temperatures around minus 12 degrees with a wind chill that actually feels like minus 31 degrees. The high today expected to only be about 1 degree. Many school districts here in Milwaukee are shut down for the day and could be shut down for tomorrow.
It doesn't appear to be a break any time soon. Maybe later in the week where we can expect to get temperatures around 20 degrees that will surely feel like a heat wave. Reporting in Milwaukee, Ty Milburn for CNN.
S. O'BRIEN: Poor, Ty. He is so cold. And it's cold for folks there.
Florida, another weather story for them. Rains most likely going to be coming down on them today. Of course, that's going to make the cleanup and rebuilding harder; 1,500 homes were damaged or destroyed outright in central Florida. And 20 people dead after those tornadoes on Friday. CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano is in Lady Lake, Florida, Lake County, Florida, is the hardest hit area.
Rob, good morning.
ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad. Some of that cold air has made its way down into central parts of Florida. It is chilly, it's cloudy, and we're getting a little bit of rain. On the radar scope, most of the heavier rains stretch from Tampa through Gainesville and into Orlando as well. We may get a little bit more of that as we head through the day and people continue to clean up.
As you mentioned, 1,500 homes damaged or destroyed. This storm happened in the middle of the night. There was some warning. That is important. But to researchers who go and study the damage and work with engineers to build even safer, stronger homes, the investigation after the storm is even more important.
MARCIANO (voice over): The debris fields that litter a tornado's path may look chaotic, but to the trained eye each piece tells the true story of the storm.
(on camera): Are we in the center of the vortex, right now?
JIM LEDUE, NOAA METEOROLOGIST: Literally in the center of the vortex at this point.
MARCIANO: Jim Ledue works in weather forensics, surveying damage to determine what happened and how.
LEDUE: I see confluence coming in and debris coming into the northeast on the south side of the track coming in from the northwest, to the southeast here. The north side of the track.
MARCIANO: Wedging in.
LEDUE: That literal confluence.
There's about 28 different damage indicators that we look at.
MARCIANO: And what do those indicators tell you about this twister?
LEDUE: This one here was basically at least an EF-3.
MARCIANO (voice over): A strong one with winds over 160 miles an hour.
(On camera): It isn't so much the wind that's dangerous. It's the debris flying through the wind. Researchers at Texas Tech are replicating events like this, with 2X4s are literally launched like a missile through the air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one. MARCIANO: The front side here completely -- almost surgical impact, but the back side just completely demolished.
LARRY TANNER, TEXAS TECH: This is constructed just exactly like, you know, virtually all homes in America are built. And even if you had brick veneer instead of the siding, the missile would behave exactly the same. It goes straight through.
MARCIANO (voice over): Investigators like Ledue put the data to the test, analyzing the integrity of all sorts of structures.
LEDUE: This has a weak link right here. Notice the nails are sticking straight up, out of there. That says to me that this was a straight nailed from the bottom in a prefab.
MARCIANO: Nailing studs diagonally is better, using L-braces would be best.
(On camera): How much more money does it cost to put those straps on, to put those braces on?
LEDUE: It would probably cost on the order of maybe 150 bucks.
MARCIANO: That's it?
MARCIANO (voice over): When the ultimate cost could be your life, it's a small price to pay.
MARCIANO: You know, let's face it, where a lot of these homes were destroyed the communities are financially challenged, and every little dime, you know, has to be warranted where that money goes. So, $150 may be a lot of money. And that's if you start to build from scratch. To retro fit a home may be more expensive.
Soledad, you have been through the area. You know what some of these homes are built like. I think even with those straps, some of them wouldn't have survived this storm. Over 1,500 homes damaged or destroyed, and --
S. O'BRIEN: Quite a mess, to go, there.
MARCIANO: Yes, quite a mess. They've made some progress over the weekend, but the task is huge. It's going to be with this community for some time to come.
S. O'BRIEN: You know, you talk about the cost of those straps and to kind of pin things down. We're going to talk later this morning with Florida's Governor Charlie Crist about maybe warning signs. A little more expensive, obviously, but could really be worth it. That's coming up at 7:15 a.m. Eastern Time.
Plus, we're talking to FEMA Director David Paulison, at 8 a.m. Eastern. We're going to talk about FEMA's response to this disaster.
M. O'BRIEN: In Iraq war today, President Bush is going to hear it on two fronts, how to fight and then how to pay for it. We have full coverage, Ed Henry at the White House, Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. We begin with Ed.
Good morning, Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.
The president's new budget, $2.9 trillion, out today. The item attracting most attention, big, big money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The president wants another $100 billion for this year, $140 billion for next year.
The president has come under fire for low-balling these requests in recent years. Each February coming up with low numbers and then trying to supplement it in the middle of the year with emergency spending requests to make up the difference. Critics have called that almost a shadow budget. These big numbers up front are a way to try to preempt the critics, but Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi are already saying they are going to give this budget a very, very close look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Whatever the budget, defense or otherwise, will have to be justified. The days of a blank check, for example, for the Iraq war are over. Certainly, let me say over and over again, any opportunity I get that Democrats will support our troops. We will not cut off funds to our troops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: So you can see still that balancing act for Democrats where they're going right up to the line talking about a lot of scrutiny, but still not talking about cutting off money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
All told, over the next two years the president requesting another $240 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's now pushing the total overall to over $700 billion so far -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: What a staggering figure. Ed Henry at the White House, thank you.
In the Senate today they are going to debate that resolution against the president's troop increase in Iraq. CNN's Dana Bash is watching that one for us.
Good morning, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.
Well, Democrats had hoped to start the debate on Iraq today, but the way things are looking now, that may not happen. What's happening is Republican senators, even those who oppose the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq, they're uniting against a vote to start debate unless Democrats agree to two Republican resolutions. One of those would be to allow all funding for the war to continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE.: It's obstructionism. And I would really urge the Republicans to reconsider. I think it's a terrible mistake to prevent this debate.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE.: Action on the Senate floor on nonbinding resolution, it means that you are simply having a debate for the sake of it. Now, some may find that edifying, but it seems to me we probably ought to proceed on to the budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, Miles, for now, as you just heard, the two parties are deadlocked. There is going to be a vote tonight, to try to get to debate, but that may not happen -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: All right, Dana, walk us through the strategy here on the part of the GOP. A lot of talk about filibuster. Is that what's going to happen?
BASH: What's happening is that Republican leaders, allies of the president, are trying to do what they can to stop an embarrassing vote for the president, or a repudiation of his policy. What they are doing is they are trying to sort of out-maneuver the Democrats, use the rules of the Senate to do so.
What they understand is that there probably aren't 60 votes to actually pass a resolution opposing the president, but they also understand that there definitely are enough votes to support funding for the war. So what they're trying to do is set up a series of votes. If their math is right, it would allow funding for the war, but it would not allow the Senate to go on record opposing the president's plan. Democrats are saying, point-blank, Republicans are filibustering.
M. O'BRIEN: Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. Thank you.
At the half hour on this program, a special AMERICAN MORNING investigation. Iraq veterans, suing the government. They're complaining they weren't told about serious health problems from their exposure to radioactive uranium. And a training video has surfaced that most of the new vets never saw. That's at 7:30 Eastern Time -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, they are trying to evacuate people in Jakarta, Indonesia. At least 25 people are dead, 340,000 other people homeless, though, after floods and days of rain. Rivers are surging up to 10 feet over the banks. They've been rushing through the city. Forecasters predict two more weeks of rain.
In eastern England British health officials are looking to stop the spread of deadly bird flu. So far more than 150,000 turkeys were slaughtered on a farm, likely infected by wild birds. Same strain of the flu was found in geese on a farm in Hungary last month.
In South Korea, this morning, the chairman of Hyundai is now facing prison. His name is Chung Myung Ku (ph); sentenced to three years in prison after he was convicted of embezzling $106 million. He is appealing today's verdict, and Hyundai says he is going to keep working at the company while the case is pending.
New Hollywood mug shot to share with you this morning. That's actor Ryan O'Neal, he's free on bond. He is charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The alleged victim was his 42-year-old son, Griffin. O'Neal's manager said he was defending himself from his son who was wildly swinging a fireplace poker.
Power walk in space: Set a new milestone, NASA's Sunnita Williams is the woman with the most time walking in space. She floated outside the International Space Station to upgrade the cooling system. Williams has logged 22 1/2 hours walking in space. That's number three on the all-time space walk list.
M. O'BRIEN: I guess you could call it "stupor Monday" for the Indy fans. The "Super Bowl" victory party in Indianapolis, galloping on long after the Colts had reigned in the Bears.
Didn't start so well for the Colts. Bears rookie phenom Devin Hester returning the opening kick off, 92 yards for the touchdown. The intense Colts QB Peyton Manning proving he has the right stuff. Stomping his leg there. On the shotgun, look at this pass. It's a beauty -- six points. Ultimately he led them to a 29-17 win.
The story for the ages, though, was on the sidelines. Tony Dungy becoming the first African-American coach to win a "Super Bowl" ring.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY DUNGY, COLTS HEAD COACH: We've got a tremendous group of guys. Whether we ever won a championship or not, I would be proud of our guys because of the way they are, and the way they care for each other.
PEYTON MANNING, SUPER BOWL MVP: It's really a team win, and a team effort. And we worked real hard this season, really just the past number of seasons. Obviously for the rookies, I know this is special, but this is special to a lot of the veteran players that have been here through some of the great wins we've had and some of the tough losses. And it's nice to be able to put it together with a championship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: The win sparked scenes like this back in Indy. Perhaps a tinge of en oui (ph) in Baltimore. Last time the Colts won the big game, it was 71 before the Colts kind of snuck out of town under cover of darkness there. Oh, well, they got the Ravens now. They'll win one of these days.
S. O'BRIEN: One of these days. Anybody gets a chance, maybe.
Subzero temperatures to talk about weather-wise. Rain showers across Florida, too. Rob Marciano is in the disaster zone. He's got the forecast for us and much more.
Plus, we'll be talking recovery and relief with Florida's governor, Charlie Crist. He has been making his way through the damage. This is his really first crisis as governor. He has only been in office for about a month. We'll ask him if residents are getting everything they need.
Plus, going to extremes to contain the bird flu. We're live on the farm that's a source of the outbreak in eastern England. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
S. O'BRIEN: The most news in the morning is right here on AMERICAN MORNING. Here's two big stories we're watching for you. President Bush delivering his budget to Congress today, requesting another $100 billion for this budget year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A blast of subfreezing temperatures are now bearing down on states from the Midwest all the way to New England. A quarter past the hour. Let's get right to Rob Marciano; he's in Lady Lake, Florida, this morning. Let's start by talking about the cold weather before we talk about what's happening in Florida.
Good morning to you, Rob.
MARCIANO: Good morning, Soledad.
Well, the cold air has got all the way down into Florida. Not to the extent, obviously, of the upper Midwest and the western Great Lakes, where temperatures this morning feel like they are well below 20 degrees. Minus 29 degrees is the wind chill factor right now in Minneapolis. Minus 31 degrees in places like Milwaukee. Minus 26 in Chicago.
This is not just your generic bundle up, it's cold out there. This is dangerously cold air that if your skin is exposed for any length of time, 10 to 15 minutes, you could see frostbite. Longer than that, hypothermia.
With this cold air moving across the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario is under the gun, and those who live to the east of Lake Ontario for heavy lake-effect snows between Syracuse and Watertown, across the Tug Hill (ph) Plateau, we could see snowfall rates of two to three inches, per hour. This will pile up quite rapidly and -- well, you know how to deal with it up there in Upstate New York. You're going to get hammered pretty well today.
Some rainfall across parts of northern and central Florida. The rain band has moved a little bit farther to the north, but that's not good here in the tornado-ravaged area, Miles, where obviously, cleanup efforts will continue not only today, but for several days and weeks to come. Hopefully the rain doesn't inhibit things too much. Back to you for now.
M. O'BRIEN: That's all they need on top of everything else is a big, soaking rain. Thank you very much, Rob.
In Florida this morning they are picking up the pieces and waiting for some help after those killer tornadoes swept across the northern part of the peninsula on Friday. Here's the tally now, 20 dead, dozens injured. 1,500 homes severely damaged. It was the first, though likely not the last, natural disaster for Florida's new Governor Charlie Crist. He joins us from Tallahassee.
Good morning, Governor, good to have you with us.
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA: Miles, good to be with you. Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: Bring us up-to-date, right now, on the recovery operations.
CRIST: The recovery operations are going very well. In fact, we couldn't be more pleased. We already set up two recovery stations in the affected area. One in The Villages; one already in Lady Lake. It's a record, and as I am told from our emergency people, in terms of how quickly they have been able to get set up.
But that's exactly what we need to do. We need to get comfort and aid to the people in the affected area. I have been down there the past three days, and I can't tell you the amount of volunteerism that really has turned out to help the people in central Florida, and we are enormously grateful.
Both to FEMA, the local officials who have turned out incredibly quickly. They're the first responders. The firefighters, the local law enforcement officials, and their response, their turnout was A-plus all the way.
M. O'BRIEN: Governor, let's talk about --
CRIST: We're grateful for their help.
M. O'BRIEN: We talked so much about FEMA. You and have I talked about it when you were in another role there in Florida government. Tell us about whether FEMA is truly fixed. What's your take on it right now?
CRIST: Well, from a Florida perspective they are fixed. They've done great work. I have had the opportunity to talk with the president Friday afternoon. Saturday morning the director, Paulison, came into Florida himself. Granted a disaster declaration in order to get us the kind of relief that our people need, and that they deserve. We couldn't be more pleased with the response from our federal friends. Senator Martina, Senator Nelson were extremely helpful in getting that aid, too.
M. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about warning systems. These tornadoes came in at just the worst time, when people are asleep. There is no siren warning system in Lake County, for example. I have seen some estimates this morning it would cost somewhere between $4 million and $9 million to put up some sirens in a place like Lake County. Why not do that? That seems like it would be money well spent, and not a whole lot of money in the grand scheme of things?
CRIST: Seems like commonsense to me too, Miles, and that's something we're looking at right now. I have directed emergency team to look into the kinds of things that could give us an early warning systems. There are other alternatives in addition to the sirens, but that's not a bad idea.
The other things are reversed 911 calls where you get a call at your home when some storms like this may be approaching. That did exist in Sumter County, one of the affected counties. Unfortunately, these storms came in so rapidly, and so quickly, that even having the reverse 911 was not responsive.
Probably one of the best things we can do, in addition to looking into the sirens, is making sure there's a safe haven inside the home. To harden one particular area so that when one of these storms comes on us, out of nowhere, people have a safe place they can go within their home that's even higher than what the code requirements might be, so that hopefully they can survive the storm and continue on.
M. O'BRIEN: As governor would you push for some legislation mandating, say, sirens in these counties as a mandatory way of notifying people?
CRIST: Well, that's certainly something that we're looking at. As I said, I have asked our emergency team to review the alternatives that might be available to us. We want to make sure that when we do make a recommendation, it's the very best one for the people of Florida, the one that will absolutely make a difference, and the one that will save lives.
M. O'BRIEN: Governor Charlie Crist, thank you for being with us this morning.
CRIST: Thank you, Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: All right.
S. O'BRIEN: Up next at our 8 o'clock, Eastern hour, the FEMA Director David Paulison will join us, talk about how he thinks FEMA did in the response to this disaster.
Ahead this morning, how much time should a new mom get off from work after she's had a baby? A year? More? Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business" with that.
And in Iraq, four U.S. helicopters lost to hostile fire in two weeks. We'll tell you about a change in flying tactics that's coming from the top.
Stay with us. AMERICAN MORNING continues ahead.
S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We're watching two stories for you this morning. The show that brings you the most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
Several Republican senators are hoping today to stop debate on that bipartisan war resolution. The resolution opposes President Bush's plan to send thousands more troops into Iraq.
And lawyers for Lewis Scooter Libby asking a judge, today, to keep recordings of their client's grand jury testimony out of the public. Libby is accused of lying to investigators looking into the source of the leak that identified a CIA operative.
And 14 years after it became law, the Family & Medical Leave Act might be ready for an upgrade. Almost 25 minutes past the hour. That means Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business".
ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you. The Family Medical Leave Act was the first piece of legislation that president Clinton signed into law when he came into office. But 14 years later things are still tough for American workers.
A new study from Harvard and McGill University in Canada tells us something that millions of Americans already know. The U.S. is at the bottom of the pile when it comes to family friendly workplace policies. And the symbolic -- uh, the thing to talk about here is maternity leave.
Out of about 170 countries, only five of them don't guarantee women some form of paid maternity leave. The U.S. is one of them. The other four? Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea; here in the United States existing laws to allow workers to take unpaid leave, not paid leave. Although many companies do offer paid maternity leave or some sort of insurance companies, when people leave to have children.
That's for mothers. American fathers don't fare so well either. Fathers get paid paternity leave, or paid parental leave, in 65 countries. And they get at least 14 weeks of it in half of those countries, and paid sick days, they're not guaranteed here in the United States either.
Now, Democrat Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut says he will introduce legislation in the next few weeks, which will include six weeks of paid medical leave to have a baby, to take care of a newly adopted child, to get better from an illness, or take care of a sick child or family member. Dodd's proposal is to share the cost of the program between the federal government, the employer, and the worker, who will see deductions coming out of their paychecks as a result of it.
You can expect some stiff resistance on that, but as you said, Soledad, it's time for an upgrade.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, a step in the right direction. Now have you to tackle child care. It's ridiculous, child care.
VELSHI: Yes, it's a big problem.
S. O'BRIEN: Expensive, and nobody helps with you it. For lots of -- millions of American women. That's a whole other topic, for another day. Ali, get right on that.
VELSHI: I will.
S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Ali.
M. O'BRIEN: Top stories of the morning coming up next. Brutal, potentially dangerous cold enveloping a big hunk of the country. We add the wind chill warnings for you.
And American soldiers coming home sick. Did the government know to warn them, but did not? A special AMERICAN MORNING investigation coming up next. The most news in the morning, right here.
M. O'BRIEN: Old man winter is late, and is he angry. Snow, single-digit temperatures and powerful winds blasting much of the country. How long will it last? We have the answer.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: A battle over sex and science. A vaccine capable of preventing cervical cancer rushed into law in Texas. We'll tell you why some parents are outraged.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: And an AMERICAN MORNING investigation. Iraq war veterans suing the government saying they were exposed to a dangerous material. Video surfacing that could have warned them. They didn't see it. A closer look on this AMERICAN MORNING.
S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody. It is Monday, February 5th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you are with us.
Happening this morning, proof in the pictures of just how cold it is out there. Take a look at these pictures. Firefighters in Minneapolis braving bitter temperatures, minus 14 degrees right now. That blast of Arctic air is sweeping across the Midwest and the northeast. Wind chills way down low in many states.
In London this morning police investigating the explosion of a package in a London office. One woman hurt not seriously. The area around the office in Victoria near Buckingham palace has been cordoned off.
An evacuation underway in Jakarta, Indonesia, at least 25 dead, 340,000 homeless after floods and days of rain. Rivers are surging up to 10 feet over their banks, rushing through the city. Forecasters are predicting two more weeks of rain.
S. O'BRIEN: And celebrating a good old Super Bowl stampede. The Indianapolis Colts are the winners of Super Bowl XLI. They road past the Chicago Bears. The score was 29-17, happened in Miami last night, first championship for the Colts since 1971. Their coach, Tony Dungy (ph), also making history. He is the first-ever African-American head coach to collect a Super Bowl ring.
In Iraq the military is confirming that four helicopters had crashed over the last couple of weeks, were all brought down by ground fire. Insurgents are claiming that they've got new weapons to bring aircraft down. Let's get right to CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon this morning. Hey, Barbara, good morning.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad. As you say, four helicopters down in a two-week period. The U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad officially confirming what everyone had suspected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, MULTINATIONAL FORCE SPOKESMAN: The investigation of each of those is ongoing, but it does appear that they were all the result of some kind of Iraqi ground fire that did bring those helicopters down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Soledad, General Caldwell going on to say that the military now is adjusting its tactics, its flying procedures to try and be more cautious, to try to avoid that enemy gunfire. As we know, helicopters in Iraq generally fly at higher altitudes to try and avoid shoulder-fired missiles or rocket-propelled grenades, but when they're flying over a firefight, it's very dangerous business. Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: So then what do you read into this Barbara? Is this a clear indication that, in fact, the insurgency is growing and getting stronger and not getting diminished?
STARR: Well, certainly not getting diminished, as you say. One of the problems with this latest period of helicopters being brought down, all the incidents are different and by all accounts, they were all brought down by different weapons. Shoulder-fired missiles, small arms fire, heavy machine gunfire. Different tactics, different helicopters, different parts of the country, but is it more than a statistical anomaly? That's what the military wants to know. That's what they're looking into to try to determine if enemy forces have some new tactic out there that the U.S. military needs to take into account. Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Thank you, Barbara.
Here's one highly effective and also very highly controversial weapon in the U.S. military arsenal. It's called depleted uranium or DU and some veterans are now suing the Army over what they say are health risks from their exposure to DU. Greg Hunter joins us this morning. He's got a special AMERICAN MORNING investigation. Good morning, Greg.
GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Depleted uranium, the issue is exactly what U.S. soldiers may or may not know about its potential health impact.
HUNTER (voice-over): It's the U.S. military's most potent anti- tank weapon. Depleted uranium or DU, on impact, it burns through armor like a hot knife through butter, creating a plume of radioactive dust. Specialist Gerard Matthew cleaned up vehicles hit by DU during his five months in Iraq in 2003. He says breathing in depleted uranium dust made him sick.
GERARD MATTHEW, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I came back with chronic migraines, swelling in my face and vision problems.
HUNTER: Matthew also says his 2 1/2-year-old daughter's birth defect is a direct result of his DU exposure. He and seven other vets are suing the army over depleted uranium. The U.S. army insists its own testing of Iraq veterans shows no direct link between DU and illness or birth defects in humans.
COL. MARK MELANSON, WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER: The radioactivity from depleted uranium is localized within the site of impact and it's not posed a significant immediate health hazard.
HUNTER: The World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine seem to agree. They found no direct evidence linking DU to birth defects or cancer in humans, but a Pentagon sponsored study by the armed forces radio biology institute showed the combined effect of DU's heavy metal and its radioactivity can damage DNA and may cause genetic defects and tumors in animals and human stem cells. The military has warned about the potential dangers of breathing in DU- contaminated dust, like in this instructional video produced for the U.S. military in 1995.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heavy metal poisoning may occur, which can cause damage to internal organs and tissue.
HUNTER: That same video talks about radioactive particles that could be trapped in the lungs and possible water and soil contamination. The army's leading expert on DU hazard awareness training concedes these are all possibilities, but U.S. troops going over to Iraq never saw this tape.
MELANSON: There were lots of errors and conflicting messages in that training video, so it was not finalized and distributed to the troops.
HUNTER: Instead, the army's official training video, used since 2000, describes DU contamination this way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These emissions are well below U.S. safety standards and do not pose a hazard to soldiers working with or around DU munitions.
HUNTER: The new video does tell soldiers to wear gloves and masks, especially inside DU-damaged vehicles or within 50 meters of fires that may involve DU. The problem is some soldiers like Gerard Matthew, say they never saw it. Dr. Asaf Durakovic studied the effects of DU on veterans of the first Gulf war for the U.S. military. He was alarmed by his findings. Now a private researcher, he also tested recent Gulf war vets, including Gerard Matthew whom Durakovic says has dangerously high levels of DU in his body.
DR. ASAF DURAKOVIC, URANIUM MEDICAL RESEARCH CTR: Inhalation of uranium dust is harmful.
HUNTER: Even in small amounts?
DURAKOVIC: Even in the amount of one atom.
HUNTER: Durakovic says those small atoms emit radiation for the rest of a soldier's life. Can't that hurt a soldier in the long run?
DR. MICHAEL KIRKPATRICK, DOD HEALTH AFFAIRS: It would come then to the dose, the total dose in their body and those particles are very, very small.
HUNTER: Matthew's wife wishes her husband had known more about the potential dangers of DU.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wasn't told it's out there. He exposed my daughter to this, but it's not his fault. He was just trying to help the country.
HUNTER: Defense Department officials say the U.S. military used 320 tons of depleted uranium during the first Gulf war, but they were unable to tell us how much DU they have used in the current Gulf war, despite our repeated request for that information Published reports suggest the military has used between 1,100 and 2,200 tons. That's up to six times the amount of DU in Iraqi freedom than in the first Gulf war.
S. O'BRIEN: So they're testing all these soldiers to see if they're emitting radioactivity? HUNTER: The government is. The Pentagon is, but there are some states out there passing laws to test their own National Guard troops because they say the test the government is using is not sensitive enough. We'll find out about that tomorrow in part two.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, part two, Greg Hunter, thank you. Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, we'll be live in the disaster zone in Florida. Rob Marciano has a look at cleanup efforts there and the rain that is heading that way today.
And a closer look at a vaccine debate. Texas makes it law, but not without an awful lot of questions.
And we'll tell you also about helicopters and tactics in Iraq. Four helicopters down in two weeks. The military is changing the way it flies. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here.
M. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning right here on AMERICAN MORNING. President Bush submitting his $3 trillion, that's trillion with a "T," trillion dollar budget to Congress today, asking for another $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And more than a quarter million people trying to escape severe flooding in Indonesia as we speak, 25 dead there. The rain is not expected to stop for 10 days from now.
In Texas this morning a raging debate over a controversial vaccine. The vaccine protects women from a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer. Texas Governor Rick Perry has ordered all school girls entering the sixth grade to receive it. AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho has more on this and the controversy that it's stirred up.
ALINO CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning. This is already controversial, but even more so in Texas Miles. There's a lot of talk about the way in which Texas Governor Rick Perry made these shots mandatory. On Friday Governor Perry essentially bypassed the state legislature. He signed an executive order effective September 2008 requiring all 11 and 12-year-old girls entering the sixth grade to be vaccinated against the human papilloma (ph) virus. You have been hearing about this. It's commonly known as HPV. HPV is the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. The vaccine is called Guardisil (ph). It's made by Merck. The FDA approved it back in June, and a government panel found that the girls should get the vaccine while they're still young, before they're sexually active.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. LETICIA VAN PUTTE (D) TEXAS: It's a cancer vaccine, and it's very important to protect girls' lives. If we've got that in our arsenal, why wouldn't we want to protect our daughters? DAWN RICHARDSON, PRESIDENT PROVE: This is a decision that needs to be made between parents and the child's doctor. It's not something that one man, the governor of our state, should be making as a decision for all the girls in our state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Those opposed to the mandatory vaccine say children shouldn't be vaccinated at that early age. They should be educated, meaning they should be taught about abstinence instead. Then there's this question of whether politics played a role. Now, I mentioned that Governor Perry signed an executive order bypassing the legislature. Well, it just so happens that Perry's former chief of staff, guess what, he is now a lobbyist for Merck which makes the vaccine. Now, Merck downplayed the company's role in all of this and Perry himself calls this responsible public health policy. In fact, more than a dozen other states and the District of Columbia are considering similar measures and as I first reported about a month ago, South Dakota has a voluntary program in place and those in favor of these mandatory shots, Miles, say that this should be like, you know, a polio vaccine, a chickenpox vaccine rather. It should be part of the whole package.
S. O'BRIEN: Parent's don't get a say?
CHO: Well, parents can opt out of it for moral or religious reasons, philosophical reasons if they're against it, but otherwise it's mandatory.
M. O'BRIEN: What is the matter with giving the vaccine and teaching abstinence at the same time? The vaccine is, after all, about cancer. It's not about what caused it in the first place, right?
CHO: That's right. The whole idea, the proponents of this say the whole idea is to make it more widely available. I mean, the state is kicking in $29 million, the Federal government $21 million. That's in Texas alone, so you are looking at $50 million toward vaccinating children who are underinsured, uninsured or who otherwise can't pay for it. Opponents, of course, say let's educate them about abstinence. That's really the way to go.
M. O'BRIEN: Alina Cho, thank you very much.
S. O'BRIEN: Forty five minutes past the hour. You are heading out the door, first grab your hat because it's cold. Also, listen up. Rob's got the traveler's forecast for you. Rob's in Lady Lake, Florida. He's covering the cold and the tornado aftermath for us. Hey Rob, good morning.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad. Take a look at the temperatures expected this afternoon for daytime highs, into the teens at best across the northeast and the I-95 corridor, 10 in Detroit. You climb all the way up to two in Chicago. If you get to above freezing in Minneapolis, count yourself lucky. You get the wind involved in there and the wind chills drop those numbers dramatically. This is what it's like right now, what it feels like in places like New York. It feels like five below, places like Cincinnati, 16 below.
Zooming in a little bit more towards the Midwest and the western great lakes, that's where the coldest air is. Minus 44 is what it feels like right now in Duluth, minus 15 in Minneapolis. Feels like 33 degrees below zero in Milwaukee. In places like Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan there are wind chill warnings out, meaning it's dangerous to be outside for any length of time when your skin is exposed, so be aware of that.
Lake-effect snows will be heavy across the Tughill (ph) plateau between Syracuse and Watertown, New York, could see two to three inches per hour for snowfall rates. That will pile it up in a hurry for sure. The rainfall will pile up a little bit in the central and northern Florida. That is bad news of course, that's for folks here trying to pick up, trying to clean up. Right now it's just kind of cloudy and cold. Most of the rain looks like it's just to the north and west of Lady Lake, but part of that radar shot right there, it looks like it's going to get here pretty quickly.
Sun is coming up here, Miles, across Lake County and scenes like what you see behind me are still prevalent, trailers overturned, cars buried in debris and lives, as you would imagine, turned upside down. This is going to be with these folks for some days and weeks to come. No severe weather in the forecast today, but cool, cloudy, and wet conditions making things all the more miserable. Miles, back to you.
S. O'BRIEN: All right. I'll take that. Thank you. It was weird Miles...
S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Rob - when over the weekend we get the weather forecast and literally three minutes later down pouring. Looks like there's a cell coming. Everybody continues to work through it. They just keep working because there's so much to do. They can't stop, as Rob can see behind hem. There is just a ton of work to do.
M. O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Imagine having your whole life out there in the open. You want to get it back together as quickly as you can.
S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we're going to keep talking about the recovery in central Florida. We'll hear from some of these devastated families who are still picking up the pieces after the storm blew through. Stay with us. AMERICAN MORNING is back in just a moment.
M. O'BRIEN: Stories we're following for you this morning. They're killing birds by the thousands in Great Britain today, drastic action to stem a dire threat. We'll tell you about the latest bird flu crunch (ph).
And in Iraq, more bloodshed after a weekend of record-setting violence. Soledad. S. O'BRIEN: Florida's governor is sending crisis counselors into four central Florida counties today to help residents cope with the loss of 20 lives and more than 1,500 homes from Friday's tornadoes. We spent the weekend covering the storm and here's a little bit about what we heard from the people who lived through those devastating storms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: Tell me about what happened. 3:00 in the morning, what kind of a warning did you get?
GENE SUGGS, TORNADO SURVIVOR: We were both sound asleep and the roof went off first. Just beyond this wall was the bedroom. The wall was coming down and the power of this wind picked me up, mattress and all, and pushed this side into that wall and then we -- the wall came down on me with the mattress under me.
S. O'BRIEN: This is your wife's bedroom. She was in this room here and that's the bed she was in.
SUGGS: The mattress was on the bed and she was on top of it. She was on top of the bed.
S. O'BRIEN: But the ceiling was gone, the roof was gone?
SUGGS: The roof -- just like it was all just like it is now.
JUAN GALAVIZ, TORNADO SURVIVOR: We were thinking the babies -- what happened with the babies?
S. O'BRIEN: Got out of bed and you came here to get to your kids, which their room is right through there? They're in the bunk beds? What happened, Brian? What did you hear?
BRIAN GALAVIZ, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I heard (INAUDIBLE) coming and it was right to me and I almost died.
S. O'BRIEN: Three people were killed here when the storm ran through. There's a theory that goes like this. They think that an empty slab up there actually blew right across the street, the home that was on it and rammed into their home. One of the things that supports that theory is that navy van back there, it's kind of purple, it actually started up on the roadway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: In fact, that spot where we ended was just about 35 miles from where we began the piece, so, of course, you can see the swath they talked about ran 70 miles across four counties, just blowing things out of its way.
M. O'BRIEN: What's amazing though, when you cover a hurricane, as we have, huge stretches, as far as the eye can see. In this case you'll see a house damaged and then right next to it just fine.
S. O'BRIEN: Nothing, almost like psychologically very tough for people. Why are you spared and they're killed?
M. O'BRIEN: On both sides of the fence.
S. O'BRIEN: Yeah.
M. O'BRIEN: Top stories coming up, that bag of spinach carrying some baggage. The e. coli may be gone, but the fear lingers. Ali Velshi producing details.
And Senate Republicans putting up a fight. A resolution against sending more troops to Iraq is headed for a possible filibuster. We'll have details on that. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here.
M. O'BRIEN: It's been four months now since that spinach scare and e. coli and people are still not eating Popeye food. A few minutes before the top of the hour, Ali Velshi has that.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was the only healthy food I liked.
M. O'BRIEN: Now you are out?
VELSHI: Look at me, yeah.
M. O'BRIEN: So that's it?
VELSHI: A new survey showed that four months later -- the recall is over. It ended. While nine out of 10 people surveyed, 1,200 people surveyed, knew that was a recall, a lot of them months later didn't know that the recall was over. They had stopped eating spinach, 75 percent of people who had spinach threw it out. One in five threw out other leafy greens and a lot of people haven't returned to eating them yet. In fact, supermarket sales do actually support these findings to show that people have sort of gone off of these things. A lot of restaurants which took spinach off have put them back.
The concerns were twofold. One is, this is a fantastically healthy food. I can't believe it's got e. coli. And the second one was the difficulty in pinpointing where it came from. You'll remember both in that case and in the Taco Bell incident, it took them some time to hone in on it and figure it out. I think that confused people even more.
S. O'BRIEN: They never resolved it really. They never fixed the big picture problem, which is --
M. O'BRIEN: (INAUDIBLE) and there wasn't nearly as much coverage, of course.
VELSHI: Right. So it has affected the industry, and it's -- that's a tough one because when those people who were -- who died of e. coli from the spinach outbreak -- I mean, a lot of people -- it's not a junk food. It's a healthy food. So you are even that much more conscious, so then what do you do? What do you replace it with and they're not replacing it with leafy greens. So this industry is suffering. They're trying to get it back and they're hoping to build some confidence.
M. O'BRIEN: I suppose you could deep fry it and make it unhealthy.
VELSHI: You deep fry anything...
S. O'BRIEN: Not very healthy.
VELSHI: Solutions (INAUDIBLE) here.
S. O'BRIEN: The top story on cnn.com this morning is this. Listen up to this. The Japanese government labors over birth remark. Japanese's prime minister is now standing by his health minister says, he should keep his job despite calling women birth-giving machines. Here's what happened. He was giving a speech talking about the fallen birth rate and he said the number of machines that produce babies is fixed, so each woman has to have more babies. Ah, yes, those machines that produce babies. Those will be women, voters, not so happy today.
M. O'BRIEN: He is in a hotel room tonight. I think his wife is --
S. O'BRIEN: ... not too excited about that. Of course, there was a big fallout. The prime minister's popularity is already falling, for a number of issues, but he is going to keep his health minister in place, he says.
M. O'BRIEN: Baby-making machines do vote. Pay attention out there.
And "Indianapolis Star," what's the lead story in Indianapolis? Imagine that, Super Bowl champions, Colts beating the Bears 29-17. If you are among the people who missed the big game, the Super Bowl, today I call stupor Monday, must be like that. And as if they need to get any more wetness there in the driving rain there in Miami, first win for the Colts in 36 years. Last time they did it they were in Baltimore. Of course, Peyton Manning showing he's got the right stuff. That was a nice, nice pass there. Really, the story for the ages in this one on the sidelines. Two African-American coaches, Lovie Smith (ph), Tony Dungy (ph).
S. O'BRIEN: One had to win.
M. O'BRIEN: One of them had to win, happened to be Mr. Dungy and a mentor/pupil relationship, it just had a lot of layers to it. So it's a great game for a lot of reasons.
S. O'BRIEN: First African-American coach to walk away with a Super Bowl win.
M. O'BRIEN: That's big. That's big. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING begins right now.
War of words, a showdown expected in the Senate today as Republicans try to defend President Bush and his new Iraq war strategy.
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