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Desperate Rescue; Dow Jumps; Passport To Danger?; Illegal Visas; Trapped Miners; Danger Areas
Aired August 7, 2007 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're talking about blackout conditions. All the miners have are their flashlights. So they really can't see. There's no communication with the outside world. No cell phones. No walkie-talkies. Nothing. So for loved ones, that's so -- that's what's so agonizing, not knowing if those miners are still alive.
In terms of the strategy for getting these miners, crews have not been able to make good progress. They thought they were going to be able to go through an empty mine shaft, but that didn't work. It was too dangerous, too much debris. So what they're going to do now is they're using drills, heavy machinery to get to these minors. But these miners are so far below the surface, 1,500 feet below ground and more than three miles from the entrance to the mine. So the owner of this particular mine says it could take few days to reach them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MURRAY, PRES./CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: We will be here on our feet until we get these men out, one way or the other. But I've got to tell you it could be two or three days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: One encouraging piece of news, if the miners are still alive, it's believed that they would have enough air and water to last for a few days.
John, let me tell you where we are. We're about two miles from the mine. This is a very remote area. We're 140 miles from Salt Lake City. So this is extremely remote. They're having to bring in all this equipment to reach these miners.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Any idea at this point, Dan, how many rescuers are on the scene there and how much equipment they actually have with them?
SIMON: We're told that there are about 200 rescuers. Several teams are going to be taking various shifts, taking various turns to try to reach them. But in terms of machinery, it is a tall order. You're talking about very heavy machinery. We know that a helicopter is going to be bringing in a drill later today and see if they can't pinpoint the miners that way.
John. ROBERTS: All right. Dan Simon on the ground for us there on Route 31, not far from the Crandall Canyon Mine, keeping watch on the developments this morning. Thanks, Dan. We'll get back to you a little bit later on.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And while family, relative and friends are hoping and praying that these miners can be brought out alive. But there are a lot of questions today about what kind of dangers they face. They're trapped down there. How long can they survive? For more on that we're joined by CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Great to see you back, by the way. We missed you.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Thank you.
CHETRY: Sanjay, tell us a little bit about what the dangers, what the risks are for their health right now if, indeed, they did survive that initial collapse.
GUPTA: Well, this is a difficult situation for anyone to sort of figure out in terms of exactly the condition of these miners right now. One of the concerns is, was there any injuries to these miners at the time of the primary sort of event, whether it was a cave-in or whatever it was that caused this. Was there some debris or something that actually injured some of the miners. That's going to, obviously, be of significant concern.
But also you talk about things like, could there be explosions as a result of volatile gases building up. Unlikely as compared to other mine disasters because there does appears to be some natural sort of occurrences of oxygen getting in there. So that's less likely.
Also, carbon monoxide poisoning was something we talked a lot about with regard to Sago. Also less likely here. There does appears to be some stores of oxygen coming in and also stores of oxygen available to the miners as well. So some good news and some bad news there.
We hear that they have water. They may have some supplies of oxygen close by. Those things are obviously favorable.
CHETRY: Another thing that it seems so hard to imagine is, in the Sago disaster or in the Quecreek Mine that we were talking about before, you're talking about 250 feet below the surface. In this instance we're talking about 1,5000 feet below the surface.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, it sort of changes the dynamics of it pretty significantly, no question, just in terms of how long it might take to get them out. And that, obviously, brings up the question, how long can somebody survive? Obviously the rate limiting steps are going to be the things that we've been talking about, oxygen supply and water supply more than anything else. And without, obviously, adequate oxygen, that's going to be the biggest concern. Although again we're hearing, and we've talked to people about this, that not only may they have some supplemental oxygen themselves, there may be some ways that oxygen can actually -- air, I should say, can get into the area where they may be trapped.
If they have enough water as well. It could be a few days and someone could actually last in those conditions. Obviously, again, that's all sort of underneath the specter of whether or not there were some primary injuries, which can change the dynamic of it all together.
CHETRY: Yes, there were four people that were able to get out. They're being sequestered, as well as the family members. So perhaps they're shedding some light for the rescuers on exactly where this happened and what the status may be of the others still trapped.
Sanjay, great to see you again. Thank you.
GUPTA: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Other headlines new this morning.
A new report out about the bridge collapse in Minneapolis and the warning that consultants had given to the state. This morning's "Minneapolis Star Tribune" reports that the most venerable parts of the bridge were also the toughest places for inspectors to see. The state highway department faced two choices, either reinforce the bridge or keep inspecting the cracks. The state chose to inspect rather than repair. We're going to be speaking with the reports who broke this story for the "Star Tribune" coming up in just a few minutes time here on AMERICAN MORNING.
A potential international incident is brewing in the country of Georgia. The Georgian government is accusing Russia of violating its air space and bombing a village just north of its capital. They say two Russian jets dropped an ordnance that didn't explode. Russia denies that charge though. Georgia is reportedly planning to issue a official letter of protest to the Russian ambassador.
And worries this morning that Madeleine McCann was murdered. A newspaper is reporting that Portuguese police found blood on the wall of the apartment from which the four-year-old girl was taken. Tests will still have to be taken on the blood, but in the three months that she has been missing, police have become more convinced that she was killed and not kidnapped.
CHETRY: Well, here's a look at some of the other stories new this morning that our AMERICAN MORNING team is working on.
We have Rob Marciano in St. Louis watching the dangerous and extreme heat around the country.
St. Louis, Rob, looking at triple digits today as well.
(WEATHER REPORT) CHETRY: And it's a wild ride for the Dow rebounding yesterday with the biggest jump in nearly five years. Ali Velshi is watching that. And also, of course, the Fed meeting to decide on various things. Possibly interest rates as well.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran.
And unlike I told you an hour ago where it was looking like a positive open for the Dow, futures have now turned lower. So at this point, and we're still two and a half hours away, it's looking like the Dow could open to the lower side after a rally yesterday which was the biggest point gain in five years.
Take a look at these numbers. The Dow closed 286 points higher. We haven't seen that kind of a points gain since October of 2002. Still, we're more than 500 points lower than the all-time high on the Dow, 14,000. The Nasdaq was up. The S&P was up.
Today we've got that Fed meeting. The Fed is not going to lower interest rates. But we are interested to see what the Fed says about this economy overall.
We also saw one of the biggest pressures on the economy, oil prices. We saw a big tumble in oil prices yesterday. A big drop, which was the sixth biggest drop on record for crude oil traded at NYMEX. $3.42 lower to $72.06. The price of wholesale gas, which isn't the price you pay at the pump but it's the price that gas is sold to suppliers, is actually now below $2 a gallon. So you should -- should see that translate into your gas price at some point.
But it's going to be a busy day on the markets today. We are looking now at a slightly negative open on the Dow, but I'll keep you posted on that.
CHETRY: All right, Ali, thank you so much.
Passports back in the spotlight this morning.
ROBERTS: Not for the application backlog that ruined some people's vacations, but for security concerns. A new government report says the State Department needs to do more to prevent passport fraud and better training for workers would be a good start. CNN's Jeanne Meserve is on the security watch. She joins us from Washington this morning.
What's this all about, Jeanne?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the whole idea of a passport or a visa is to keep out the bad guys. To make sure people entering the country are doing so legally. But the Government Accountability Office says the State Department, which issues the documents, isn't doing enough to update their security features. GAO also says that the 8,500 passport acceptance facilities around the country present what they call a significant fraud vulnerability. We're talking about the places where you can apply for a passport. Places like post offices. Face-to-face interactions at those acceptance offices are critical in establishing that a person applying for a passport isn't a criminal or a terrorist doing so under a false identity. But the GAO uncovered one case where a photo submitted with an application wasn't the photo of the applicant. And another where an acceptance facility took an application for a passport without that person even being present.
ROBERTS: Jeanne, what about the new security features being built into passports? Are those working?
MESERVE: Well, they are putting chips -- electronic chips embedded in those digital photographers of the holder of the passport. That way when you go through a port of entry they're run through a screener and it helps verify that the person using the passport is the person who legitimately holds that passport.
But what the GAO discovered is that the technology to read those passports is not at every primary lane at every port of entry, so they're not being used. I talked to the Department of Homeland Security. They dispute that. They say they are at ports of entry, but they acknowledge they're not in every lane and they're not always used for matters of efficiency. And the GAO talked to some customs and border protection officers who said they didn't use the security features very often because of time constraints.
ROBERTS: Always something. Jeanne Meserve for us this morning. Jeanne, thanks.
MESERVE: You bet.
CHETRY: Speaking of always something, check out this one. Two United Nations employees arrested, accused of trying to get non-U.S. citizens into this country on illegal visas. These visa requests were made so that foreigners could attend conferences that didn't exist. Some of those requests made on U.N. letterhead. Richard Roth joins us now with this story.
And how were these two employees able to pull this off?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the main person that has been accused, Vyacheslav Manokhin, a Russian translator at the U.N., he used U.N. letterhead and United Nations Development Program letterhead, fake letterhead really, to trick and fool immigration officials in other countries to say that, please, let these non- citizens come to America to attend U.N. conferences or fake U.N. conferences. Once they got in, they would disappear.
CHETRY: Do we know how many people actually made it through?
ROTH: At least 14 people came in, usually at a price of at least $15,000. Manokhin, the U.N. translator, suspended from his work at the U.N. and he's being held on $300,000 bail.
CHETRY: Is he cooperating? Are they actively hunting for these people right now?
ROTH: They're looking for people. But he used the name Leonardo Brackett. If someone from overseas called to check, is this really true, does this person really want to attend a U.N. Conference, he set up a -- he used his phone number and he used that fake name. The U.N. official who doesn't exist. So if you ever get a phone call from a Leonardo Brackett out there, beware.
CHETRY: Wow. So it seems -- it was that easy. It's that easy for one bad apple to be able to bring people here?
ROTH: Yes. I mean thus the authority of the U.N. It sounds very official, but there are thousands of U.N. employees. And we don't know yet, was this one bad apple or were there others.
This is the third Russian figure implicated in some type of fraud or criminal activity at the United Nations, though he hasn't been proven guilty yet.
CHETRY: All right. Keep us posted. Richard Roth, thank you.
Well, high tech tools moving into the Mississippi River trying to help divers find the people still missing after the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. There is a new report out this morning about the decision the state made about the bridge before the collapse. Two reporters who are breaking a surprising story join us next.
CHETRY: In Utah right now, rescue teams are about to launch a new effort to find six trapped coal miners. In the next hour, they'll be using a helicopter to position a huge drill on top of the mine near Huntington, Utah. That machine will then try to chew down through 1,500 feet of rock. The miners anguished family members are praying that it will bring their loved ones home. And joining me now this morning the mayor of Huntington, Hilary Gordon. And she had a chance to meet with the families.
I know you're busy this morning, mayor. Thanks for coming on to talk with us. How are the families holding up?
MAYOR HILARY GORDON, HUNTINGTON, UTAH: They seem to be doing very well. Yesterday we arranged some food for them and did some meals and they were holding up very well. They're getting frequent updates and I think that's helping them.
CHETRY: So they are getting frequent updates. They're sequestered, as we understand it, right now, as well as four who were able to escape from that mine. Are the four who were able to get out giving any information that could help the rescuers as they try to get the six others out?
GORDON: You know, I haven't actually talked to those four. I understand one of the council ladies is here with me this morning and she has a son that was on days that was due to go the day shift yesterday and they, of course, went back and started in with the rescuing. They had been at it all night. The rescue teams are rotating off and on, but I have not personally talked to the four that made it out. I'm sure that the information that they gave to these teams has been invaluable.
CHETRY: And what are you able to tell us? I know names are not being released at this time out of respect for the families. But what are you able to tell us about who these miners are?
GORDON: Well, they are from all of the smaller towns. We have about eight towns, not including Price. Price is about 22 miles from Huntington and slightly -- well, quite a bit bigger population. And then we have eight small towns going through Emery County, going through to I-70. And these miners come from all different towns. Several people from Huntington, or a lot of people from Huntington probably work at mines in East Carbon. So these weren't necessarily all Huntington men. They are from the small towns. And all of these people have just kind of grouped together.
CHETRY: Are these mining families who have been doing this for generations or people that are newer to the industry?
GORDON: Some of them probably are. Some of them, I think, have been doing it for a long time. There's always young men that come up and sometimes they leave the area. But the mining industry here has been a real economic help and, you know, it's what kind of we lean on through our area. And so, you know, if you want to stay, these are some of the job options. Of course, a lot of people don't choose to stay, but there are always young men, as well as older men, that are waiting to retire mining. So you have all age groups.
CHETRY: You know everyone acknowledges that it is a dangerous business, but there are reports out today about more than a hundred violations at this particular mine that were deemed significant and substantial since January of 2004. How is the community reacting to that news?
GORDON: You know, most of us are not aware of, on a daily basis, of the violations. Perhaps unless their husbands work there. There's always small things that are going on within mines. And I'm sure if the men felt that it was safe enough to work there, that they felt comfortable being there.
You know, mining is a very dangerous occupation, but even traveling up this road this morning was not the easiest thing. So any time that you're up and above ground, you're always running into a risk. And I'm sure these men knew that my own husband worked for the mine, not this particular mine, but a mine that now no longer is in operation called Esbia (ph) for several years, and I had people ask me, well, were you afraid every day? You know, you really don't think about that when you get into a row of traffic and you're going places, you just take each moment as it comes. So I'm sure these men were that way. And I'm sure that the mine was doing the things that they have done for years and that it was as safe as it possibly could be for the men.
CHETRY: All right. Mayor Hilary Gordon, the mayor of Huntington, Utah. The rescue efforts will continue in about an hour. Thanks for joining us.
ROBERTS: Just turning 20 minutes after the hour now. Running late. Your "Quick Hits now. Airline delays are on pace to have their worst year ever. The Department of Transportation says planes in the first six months of this year had the worst on-time performance since it started keeping track 13 years ago.
ROBERTS: If you're bothered by delayed flights, think of the shuttle astronauts. They're delayed 60 percent of the time. The Associated Press looked at the last 118 shuttle missions and found that only 47 took off on schedule. The Endeavour was supposed to launch today but it's been delayed until tomorrow evening.
A new report is out this morning about the decision that the state of Minnesota made about the I-35W bridge before its collapse. Two reporters who are breaking a surprising story join us next on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Disturbing, new details are coming to light about the I-35W bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis. The "Minneapolis Star Tribune" is reporting today that consultants warned the Minnesota DOT that the bridge needed large-scale repairs. The state chose inspections instead and inspections were not easy to do. Tony Kennedy and Paul Mcenroe are breaking the story for this morning's "Star Tribune." They join us from the site of the bridge collapse.
Gentlemen, what did you find in this report that you got out this morning in terms of those bridge inspections?
TONY KENNEDY, REPORTER, MINN. "STAR TRIBUNE": Well, John, we found - with some leg work we found three inspectors or three experts on this bridge who said it was one of the tougher bridges in the state to inspect. And that was meaningful because the state chose last year to inspect rather than repair or reinforce the bridge.
ROBERTS: All right. Paul, what was it that made it so difficult to inspect?
PAUL MCENROE, REPORTER, MINN. "STAR TRIBUNE": Well, the way the bridge trusses are constructed, they join up in these steel boxes. And the pigeons and the bats and all sorts of other nasty things get up in there and it makes -- besides the poor lighting and the roar of the traffic and the vibration, that bridge is always swaying and moving at all times. It's very difficult for an inspector, even the best, to get in there. Unless you have an extremely small head, one inspector told us, that it's difficult to visually inspect.
ROBERTS: Right. So, Tony, is it a case where the most potentially susceptible areas of this bridge were the most difficult to see? KENNEDY: Yes. In fact, the consultant that did this study of fatigue cracking in this bridge noted that, highlighted it in the recommendation, that the most critical -- some of the most critical wells that they had to look at were the toughest to find.
ROBERTS: Right. So, Tony, there was basically basically they had no way to be able to fully ascertain what condition this bridge was in?
KENNEDY: Well, I don't know at that. But the, you know, when you look at the human factors, that these guys are down there and they're rushing their job and these things are hard to see to begin with, they're good inspectors. Nobody's saying they missed anything. But it just -- it adds to the questions.
MCENROE: It adds to a lot of financial questions, John, about the state's willingness to pay for something and the rebuttal that -- to pay for something that would be -- make the bridge safer. And the rebuttal to that by the state is that they were afraid they were going to weaken the bridge even further if they started repairs. So they said, well, we'll just go look at it all the time. But that didn't cut it.
ROBERTS: Right. What you're referring to was the potential plan that some consultants had floated to brace up the bridge with steel plates, which would have required thousands of holes to be drilled in the superstructure.
ROBERTS: Paul, you heard Tony say just a second ago that the bridge sways all the time and was swaying during inspections. We heard that in the days before the bridge collapsed that the crew who was breaking up that bridge deck said that they felt the bridge wobbling and that with every layer of concrete that they pulled up, the bridge was wobbling a little bit more. Have you heard anything more about that in the last 24 hours?
MCENROE: Yes, John, we did. We talked to one of the three experts we interviewed for this story and he said that the fact that the crew was up -- that crews were up there cutting into the rebar and going deep down into that paving could have very well contributed to it. But, you know, he said there's a whole lot of other factors, but there wasn't a doubt -- the other thing to really get across here is that this bridge was rated deficient because the bearings had rusted down to the point where the bridge couldn't expand as it should and contract. And given that all that stress and strain, finally something gave way.
MCENROE: So they knew for a long time it was a complete frozen, rusted down bearings situation on this bridge.
ROBERTS: All things that the National Transportation Safety Board are going to be looking into.
Tony Kennedy, Paul Mcenroe from the "Minneapolis Star Tribune."
Gentlemen, thanks for being with us this morning.
KENNEDY: You bet.
MCENROE: Thank you, John.
KENNEDY: Thank you.
ROBERTS: More ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.
CHETRY: And now to Utah with the new effort to find six stranded coal miners. In the next 30 minutes a helicopter is expected to position a drill on top of the mine near Huntington, Utah. It's 5:31 local time in Utah. That machine will then try to chew down through 1,500 feet of rock to try to reach the men. It's a rescue effort with plenty of risk.
And for a little perspective, we're joined by Davitt Mcateer. He's the former director U.S. Mine Safety and Health administration.
Good to see you this morning. You join us from West Virginia. Thanks for being with us.
DAVITT MCATEER, FMR. DIR., MINE SAFETY & HEALTH ADMIN.: Thank you, Kiran. Good morning.
CHETRY: First of all, we talk about needing to drill through or get to 1,500 feet. Can you give us some perspective on what type of undertaking that is for the rescuers today?
MCATEER: Well, unfortunately, that's quite a large undertaking. The depth itself isn't so bad. But the fact is you're trying to do it from a helicopter and you're trying to do it from -- in a very elevated area and in an area that you don't have much control over and so that's going to take some time and that's going to take some effort on the part of the teams out there. These are good, well-organized groups.
But, at the same time, we know that that drilling, particularly in areas that are as remote as this is, will, in fact, take a good bit of time, and time is the enemy here.
CHETRY: It sure is. When you talk about the ability to sustain life, I mean, this is a given the assumption that these six did survive the initial collapse. What are we looking at in terms of time that you can survive under there, assuming there is oxygen and there's access to food and water?
MCATEER: Well, what we're learned since Sago and other accidents is that you can, we can rescue people, but it takes us time. It takes us -- at the instance of Sago it took us about 40-plus hours. We can expect that kind of number of hours in that range to be a time that would take us to get there, and that's with some luck. Could the men survive -- I'm sorry.
CHETRY: Go ahead.
MCATEER: Could these men...
CHETRY: It looks like we had a trouble with our remote. If we get it back, let me know.
It's interesting, because Davitt did head up the investigation into the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia last year, the disaster that claimed the lives of 12 miners, one of them surviving. After that tragedy they called for major reforms in the mining industry, and one of them called for a review of that self-contained, self rescuers that miners use to help them breathe.
Some of those changes took place, specifically in the state of West Virginia. Whether we can say that relates what's going on in Utah, we don't know at this point, but what we do know there were more than a hundred citations considered significant and substantial, according to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, so we're going to be asking that question today as well -- were they work engine a safe environment and were the citations serious enough it led to this collapse?
ROBERTS: We'll keep our coverage going on that story.
Our terror watch now and the warning from the so-called American al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn. He is threatening the security of U.S. embassies in a new terror tape that was released over the weekend. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM GADAHN: How can recognize a law which based at the embassy or consulate is, for all intents and purposes, an inviolable fortress which the host country has no right to enter or monitor, when our Sharia commands us to limit every hand span of Islamic land occupied by the unbelievers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Nine years ago today the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed. More than 220 people were killed. How safe are embassies around the world today?
Our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee joins us this morning from Washington.
So, Zain, what is the answer to that question?.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, the State Department is saying that this tape is essentially another data point that they collect constantly to assess security threats and see if there is a credible threat to embassies and consulates around the world.
Now with specific regard to this, the State Department is saying there has been no specific reaction being taken at embassies or consulates around the world, and that the dial, the alert level has not risen. We don't know for sure, though. They're also saying, though, that it is something they take very seriously, that the threat level is being constantly assessed by security and intelligence officials, but the posture remains the same and will only be adjusted when necessary. They're also saying that official are looking at this tape by Adam Gadahn to see if there are any tipoffs of plots that may be under way -- John.
ROBERTS: Zain, you were living in Kenya no -- or at least you were in Kenya on august 7, 1998. What was your experience that day when the embassy was bombed?
VERJEE: Well, I was actually at work. It was 10:30 in the morning when it happened, and the U.S. embassy was only a few blocks from where I was working, and when the blast happened we all felt the building shake, and when we looked outside the window, what we could see above the city center in Nairobi was just black smoke and a lot of people running toward the U.S. embassy. Most people actually thought it was an earthquake or something. No one thought that it was actually a terror attack on the embassy. The U.S. embassy at the time was right in the heart of the city center.
Now it's been relocated a couple of times actually. It's about 15 minutes outside, and it's really like a fortress and hard to get at.
ROBERTS: And what additional security measures has the Kenyan government taken in the wake of that bombing?
VERJEE: Well, since then, they've taken a number of steps. They've really stepped up security and patrols around public places and tourist spots, like the coast. Mombassa is considered a soft target because loads of tourists go there.
Also two problems areas for the Kenyan government, John. The first is the coastal area is a largely an Arab Muslim population. Most of them don't support any extremist acts, but it's easy for al Qaeda or operatives to hide and blend in in the coastal areas.
Also, Somalia is a very long and very porous border, and as you know, it's a lawless country, so it's easy for operatives to slip in and out. So while the Kenyans have taken these steps, if anyone is determined to attack, it may not be able to...
Yes, as official here keep reminding us, Zain, the terrorists only need to get lucky once.
Zain Verjee for us this morning. Zain, thanks. (NEWSBREAK)
CHETRY: They're supposed to create smarter babies, but do those popular education videos really work? Some researchers have counted the words known by kids who watch the videos and those who don't, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the results when AMERICAN MORNING returns.
CHETRY: Millions of parents use them, but do really they create brainy babies? Well, not if you believe a new study. There's a team of researchers now saying that those educational videos like "Brainy Baby" or "The Baby Einsteins" actually do more harm than good, specifically when we're talking about language skills.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now with more on this. And I know you have a newborn and, boy, I feel like that was my one respite throwing that DVD in for 30 minutes, and the babies are so transfixed. But what is this study telling us?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is -- sorry. This has been pretty interesting. Basically looking at just, first of all, the viewing habits of very young children and what parents are actually using some of these tools for. First of all, about -- before the age of 3 months, about 40 percent of kids are already watching television. I thought that was an interesting statistic. And by the age of 2 years 90 percent are watching television, DVDs, videos or something like that.
Most of the parents surveyed for this new study that you just talked about say that they're actually not using this as an electronic babysitter per se, but rather because they really believe that there is some educational value to this.
Now the question is, is there an educational value? And there's been a lot of controversy over this. This new study says there is no value, and in fact, it might be harmful, and here's how they put it. For every extra hour of watching a child between the ages of about 16 months to 24 months, it may actually know six to eight fewer words, so they're actually saying you have less vocabulary for kids that are actually watching at least an hour a day, and the more they watch the fewer words that they actually learn. So that's exactly the opposite of what a lot of people thought they would be hearing from this.
CHETRY: Yes, and you know, I have a picture. My husband and I took this photo of our baby. We don't believe it at 9 weeks old she was so transfixed by this "Baby Einstein" video, playing some Mozart or Beethoven, and there was just like flashing lights, and she was enthralled.
I know that you and I have talked about some of the time limits they put on these, like don't let your kid watch it for more than 30 minutes at a clip, but it just seems shocking that they don't speak as well when they watch the videos, when it seems the makers of the products, who believe their products work, say the opposite.
GUPTA: Yes, well, first all, that's a great picture, by the way, Your 9-week-old is transfixed by television.
CHETRY: We just couldn't believe how interested she was, in particular these Baby Einsteins, nothing else. She never seemed to be looking at the TV until that was on.
GUPTA: We have not talked to the makers of these products, in all fairness, today. If you go to their Web sites, and we've done a lot of investigation on this in the past, "Baby Einstein" specifically says there product is to entertain and engage. Those are the sort of terms that they use in describing their product.
Brain babies actually points to research done out of the University of Texas in Austin, a specific agency down there, looking at children's television viewing, and they make the point it's not the medium, it's the message that really matters. So they say the types of programming really seem to make a difference. It's hard to say for sure. It's very hard to measure the impact of some of this stuff.
What everyone seems to agree on is actual time spent with adults, people who have normal cadence of language, actually are respond to a child's nonverbal and verbal cues, seems to make the biggest difference. So reading to your child, actually just spending time with them, even if you're doing chores around the house, just having your child with you seems to make a bigger difference than being parked in front of a DVD or the television.
CHETRY: Right, and that seems like common sense, you have to talk to them and engage them more if you want them to learn language. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, great to see you, as always.
By the way, if you have questions for Sanjay, e-mail us at CNN.com/Americanmorning. Sanjay will answer some of them, coming up Thursday, right here on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: Rudy Giuliani's daughter raising eyebrows this morning. She has a Facebook profile on the Web. Well, it backs a Democrat for president, at least it appears to, not her Republican dad. We're going to talk to the young cybersleuth, who found that profile and since been taken down. That's coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Nine minutes to the top of the hour now. Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani may not be able to count on the vote of his own daughter.
CHETRY: Well, a future classmate of 17-year-old Caroline Giuliani stumbled across her Facebook profile, and not only did it describe her as liberal, but it also seemed to list her as a Barack Obama supporter. Mrs. Giuliani's profile is now locked by Facebook, and joining us from Washington is the student who discovered it, Lucy Morrow Caldwell. She shared that information with the world in an article on slate.com.
Good morning, Lucy. Thanks for being with us.
LUCY MORROW CALDWELL, CONTRIBUTOR, SLATE.COM: Hi! Thank you so much for having me!
CHETRY: Tell us how you stumbled across Caroline's Facebook page to begin with.
CALDWELL: It was really a totally out-of-the-blue thing. I have been telling people my years of compulsive Facebooking has finally paid off. I had been reading a lot of the coverage of the Giuliani family, the piece in Slate in May about Giuliani's family life. The recent profiles of his wife in "Vanity Fair" and "New York Magazine," and I thought that since I knew Caroline Giuliani was going to be attending Harvard she might have a Facebook profile, and I did some sleuthing and although she wasn't listed under the name Caroline Giuliani I did find her page.
I expected it to be locked, but it was so bizarre that it wasn't, so.
ROBERTS: Lucy,. were you surprised to find out she had voiced support for Barack Obama?
CALDWELL: I thought it was a very weird thing. It seems like such a bizarre act for the child of someone who's possible next president. It seemed a little impulsive to me, but I was shocked to see her membership in the Barack Obama Facebook group.
CHETRY: So she was a member of the Facebook group. Did she say anything specifically about supporting him for president in this page?
CALDWELL: She designated her political views as liberal, and she obviously had this membership visible on her profile, but it's unusual to write anything specifically. But just that seemed strange.
Do you think you did anything wrong? Should you have reported on this?
CALDWELL: You know, I don't regret reporting on this at all. I understand Facebook's action, although they have responsibilities to their members. So I don't feel terribly offended, and I think I'm going to save a lot of time in school next year when I'm working on reading and papers instead of on Facebooking.
CHETRY: Also it's the best thing for your career in college. How about this? The Giuliani camp releasing a statement about this as well, about why Caroline listed herself as a member of the Barack Obama supporters. "They say Caroline added herself to a list on Facebook as an expression of interest in certain principles. It was intended as an indication of support in a presidential campaign, and she has removed it."
Do you buy that story, Lucy?
CALDWELL: I think that's complete garbage. I think it's really insulting of the Giuliani campaign to think the American public would be duped in that way. No one joins a presidential campaign Facebook group because they want to support various principles. There are a lot of other Facebook groups and a lot of other ways to show your support for various principles. Caroline Giuliani felt like joining the Barack Obama Facebook group. We don't know why, but that answer is completely bogus.
ROBERTS: There you go.
CHETRY: Well, there it is, the budding journalist breaking the first story and taking a little bit of heat from it.
Lucy Morrow Caldwell, Harvard student and now contributor with slate.com. thank you.
CALDWELL: Thank you so much.
ROBERTS: Facebook bannee as well.
CHETRY: That's right.
ROBERTS: Millions of middle-aged Americans take them, but should your children go on those powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is looking into it now. Hey, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Yes, good morning.
Forty-million to 45 million people taking statin drugs, and now there's some new studies out there that say maybe as young as 8 years old. Who are these children? Why should they be taking it? And what possible side effects? I'll have that coming up for you next hour.
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