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Shooting Rampage; Cold Medicine Recall; Boot Camp Deaths
Aired October 11, 2007 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a good person. He never -- I don't know why he did what he did, couldn't tell you. Pushed too far, that's all I could think of. You get pushed, and pushed and pushed, and sometimes you go over the edge.
QUESTION: Joe, why'd he do this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I ain't justifying nothing. I ain't saying he did the right thing, but I'm saying he got pushed for a long time, and asking people to help, help, help, and nobody helped.
QUESTION: Who did he ask for help?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I'm saying -- I'm just saying, I know him as a person.
QUESTION: What about the guns, Joe? Do you know where he got the guns?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, that's what I just said to him -- I would like to know where the hell them guns came from, because that boy should have never have had access to any.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That's one of the question that just about everyone is asking, where did 14-year-old Asa Coon get the guns that he carried into school? This morning, a lot of people are taking a close look at one of his family members.
Reporter Matt Stevens of our affiliate WOIO talked with Anderson Cooper about that last night.
MATT STEVENS, WOIO REPORTER: He also has an older brother, an 18-year-old brother, who has been in and out of jail, and neighbors tell us that has been known to carry guns. In fact, two night ago there was incident where two teenage who'd been having a feud with the boy's older sister, 15-year-old sister, for some two years now, saw her on the porch. She yelled something at them. This was a couple of nights ago. The older brother came out and actually fired a shot at them. They called the police, police came to the scene and arrested the older brother, but we've been told that no search warrant was obtained to go into the house to try to get the gun. So there's going to be questions that have to be answered by the Cleveland Police Department this week as to why they didn't pursue a search warrant to try to get into that house, and maybe, maybe if they had, the questions will be asked, you know, this kid wouldn't have had anything to go to school with.
ROBERTS: We'll be covering this story throughout the morning for you Later on in the show, we're going to be talking with one the teenagers that was shot in yesterday's rampage. And in our next half hour, more of the 911 calls that were released late last night. You'll hear from a panicked mother whose son called her from his classroom as the first shots rang out -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Well, surprising crash-test results just in on some midsized SUVs. And the bottom line, they're not as safe as you think if you get hit from the side.
Now the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that SUVs without the optional side airbags are only getting, for the most part, a marginal rating. Now the Toyota 4Runner is one that did get the highest rating on the side-impact test. The Chevy Trailblazer only a marginal rating on that test. You can get a complete listing of the test results by linking to our Web site. That's CNN.com/am. That will take you to the Insurance Highway Institute's Site.
Meantime, Greg Hunter is looking out for you. He is at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash-test facilities in Ruckersville, Virginia, with how some of the other models did as well.
GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran.
Listen, this is the Toyota 4Runner, and this is the anatomy of why it got top marks. If you look down the side here you can see how it's all pushed in. It was a 31 mile-an-hour hit on the vehicle. Two reasons why it did well. No. 1, the frame took the blow pretty well without a lot of intrusion into the cabin. If you take a look at this pillar here, some of the models the seat is actually on the outside of the pillar after the wreck. That's No. 1. This did well.
No. 2, it has a side curtain and torso airbag. Now the side curtain really just protects the head. That's some dye from the dummy's head that whiplashes into these curtains instead of a window.
And this is really important as to why this vehicle did so well. It also has torso protection. It protects your side of your body in a crash, and it also is a reason why this Toyota Highlander got high marks.
Some vehicles had no air bags, they're optional. Some vehicles just had this side curtain airbag -- that's pretty good -- but did not have this. This has everything going for it, no intrusion, head curtain, side curtain, and I'll tell you, some of these vehicles didn't do as well as cars, as regular cars in a side impact test. We'll tell you all about that coming up at 7:40 here on AMERICAN MORNING.
Back to you, John, Kiran.
CHETRY: All right, thanks a lot, Greg.
CHETRY: There is news that's just in about cold medicines for kids. A voluntary recall just announced for over-the-counter cough and cold medicine for infants.
CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Atlanta with more. We heard the results, I believe of a study last week saying they might be dangerous and possibly not really effective in children in the first place.
So what's the latest today, Sanjay?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're just getting this in as well, Kiran, talking about this voluntary recall. This is the Consumer Health Care Products Association, sort of an umbrella group overseeing a lot of these products, saying they're actually going to voluntarily recall many of these products, about 15 to 16 products specifically for children under the age of 2.
We'll put up a lot of the products on the Web site, Kiran, in a little bit. But some of them, Dimetap Decongestant Plus Cough Infant Drops, also the Little Cold Decongestant Plus Cough. Again, there's about 15 to 16 products You can find all of them on the Web site.
But as you said, Kiran, it's really about this idea of lack of effectiveness, more than anything else. There's been a lot of evidence brewing for some time. These medications may simply not work for children that are 2 and under. You have certain things like ADHD or urinary-tract infection, medications for those things we know work, but for coughs and colds, there's not you have evidence to support them keeping them on the markets, so this voluntary recall happening right now -- Kiran.
CHETRY: That means we will not see this packaging for kids. We won't see Little Colds or, you know, Dimetap for Infants. They just won't be on the market anymore?
GUPTA: Well for children 2 and under, they've been pretty specific about this age group, you might still see it, and your pediatrician may still recommend it in particular cases.
But we've been doing some investigating on this, as you know, Kiran. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Chest Physicians as well are even more stringent than this voluntary recall. They say it simply doesn't work. There's really never a reason to use these medications in children 2 and under. CHETRY: Yes, well, all of us are going to be looking through our kid's medicines chests, a lot of popular brands here that you're being advised not to use.
Sanjay, thank you.
GUPTA: Thank you.
CHETRY: By the way, if you have a question for Dr. Gupta, send it to his mailbag, at CNN.com/am. Sanjay will answer your questions coming up in the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: She found a noose on her office door. This morning, a college professor fights back. We'll tell you what she's got to say.
CHETRY: Coming on AMERICAN MORNING: Boot camp horror stories.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being forced to lie in urine or feces, being forced to use a toothbrush to clean a toilet, and then forced to use that toothbrush on their teeth.
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CHETRY: Inside the degrading environment of youth boot camps, where some kids have even died. Just who regulates these camps? We talked to the parents who lost their child at one of them, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: Parents think they're sending their troubled teens to book camp to get some help, maybe get some discipline, get back on the right path. Well, some reports say there are as many as 10,000 kids enrolled in more than 100 boot camps nationwide, but a new government report found thousands of allegations of abuse at residential treatment programs across the country, some of that abuse even resulting in death. They had a House hearing yesterday, and Paul Lewis spoke of his son's final moments while in one of those programs.
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PAUL LEWIS, SON DIED AT BOOT CAMP: Ryan was ignored, and consequently, approximately 7:30 on a cold, rainy night, desperate, alone and abandoned, our son hung himself.
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CHETRY: Paul and his wife, Diana, are with us this morning, and we thank you for being with us and sharing some of your tragic story. You guys are fighting for more regulation, because there isn't any federal regulation right now of these boot camps. Thanks for being with us. LEWIS: Thank you.
CHETRY: Can you explain for us, Paul, why you decided to send Ryan in the first place to this Aldridge Academy in West Virginia back in 2001?
LEWIS: Certainly, but first I'd like to thank Congressman Miller and the Committee on Labor and Education to bring this whole industry to light.
And, second, we didn't send our son to a boot camp. We sent our son to a therapeutic wilderness program. A boot camp is a completely different concept. What we got was a boot camp, but that's not what we bought.
CHETRY: I got you.
And what were the reasons why you wanted him to go there?
LEWIS: Ryan was suffering from depression, and he needed a positive experience to help him improve his self-esteem, give him an opportunity to, you know, achieve things that he was very good at. The outdoor wilderness environment was a terrific environment for him. He was very comfortable with it, and it would have provided him with hopefully the strategies to help him deal with depression.
CHETRY: And, Diana, what did you get instead?
DIANA LEWIS, SON DIED AT BOOT CAMP: Well, we had no idea that the environment would be as austere as it was. Ryan had very little food to eat. He had to hike with a pack that was 60 pounds. He weighed 90 pounds himself, and he was about 5'1" at the time, and he had to divide his things amongst other hikers, because he fell repeatedly and couldn't carry it all. And of course, that was embarrassing to him, because Ryan was a Boy Scout. He was used to camping and hiking, enjoyed the outdoors, and halfway through the program he said to them, this is not the kind of program that my parents signed me up for.
CHETRY: And, Paul, at any point, did he tell you, i think I need to come back home? Did you guys have any idea what was going on before it was too late?
P. LEWIS: No, not at all. We had called and talked to the people of the program every day, and they assured us repeatedly, night after night, that Ryan was doing just fine.
CHETRY: This academy did eventually admit some responsibility for your son's death. In fact, you were awarded $1.2 million in a civil settlement. It's now back, though, operating under a different name and on its Web site it says, it has experienced trained professional counselors, making each student's personal security their top priority. What goes through your mind when you hear that?
P. LEWIS: It's a con. That's my opinion. They clearly mislead people. They misrepresent what their qualifications are. By whose definition they're qualified people? You know, this is something we learn the hard way, that what they consider to be qualified is not, does not meet the standards of acceptable medical practices.
CHETRY: And you guys are calling on Congress to do something about it, and to get some sort of regulation over these boot camps, or as you said, you thought it was something different.
Thanks for sharing your story with us. And we are sorry for your loss. And we hope that something good can come of this, and that they'll start to regulate this a little bit better.
Paul and Diana Lewis, thanks for being with us.
P. LEWIS: Thank you.
D. LEWIS: Thank you.
ROBERTS: How did a boy with brain injuries wind up at the center of a political battle? Democrats say he's the face of the children's insurance battle. Conservative bloggers do some digging and see what they find out, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Twenty-six minutes after the hour. Ali Velshi here Minding Your Business.
Good morning to you, sir.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
ROBERTS: What's on tap for today?
VELSHI: Well, the news about how the United Autoworkers got back after a seven-hour strike starting to trickle out. Did they get what they wanted? And this is the big issue, because a lot of people think they didn't get what they wanted when they went on strike against GM.
So based on the GM settlement, based on what the UAW wanted, based on what Chrysler is telling us, here is what we surmise to be the possible terms of the settlement. A $3,000 signing bonus, which, again, means that their base pay doesn't increase, so that's a bit of a problem. The union is taking control of the health care fund, which is the case at GM. This is one of the biggest sticking points. This is what the automakers wanted to happen. Lower wages for new workers who are hired and buyouts and early retirement. There's also some limited job security being offered, even though that's what the UAW wanted.
Now what does this do for the automakers before we went into these negotiations? Take a look at the cost structure. This is what the automakers say is the big problem when they compete against Toyota, Hyundai Nissan and Hyundai, and other automakers. The total hourly cost per worker is estimated to be about $75 an hour at Chrysler, $73 at GM, $70 at Ford. Jumps all the way down to $48 at Toyota, and $46 at Honda, Nissan and Hyundai. The reason why? Those companies, the newer automakers into the United States, don't have those legacy costs. They don't have hundreds of thousands of retirees and spouses whose health care they're supporting. And that is what the problem is. That's why you can't make the same car for the same money in the U.S. and have it competitive with cars coming in from companies based elsewhere.
ROBERTS: The numbers don't lie, right?
VELSHI: No, the numbers don't lie, that's exactly it.
ROBERTS: All right, Ali, thanks very much.
One guy with a story coming up in our next half hour that you just don't want to miss.
CHETRY: That's right, well, because you drive an SUV, are you really any safer on the road, or is it a false sense of security? There are some crash test results in, specifically when it comes to side crashes.
What's really surprising is that some of these vehicles are not as safe as passenger cars. We'll tell you which vehicles, and perhaps how your SUV rated, coming up with Greg Hunter.
ROBERTS: Good morning. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING on this Thursday, the 11th of October. I'm John Roberts.
CHETRY: I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us.
A lot of questions this morning after that Ohio school shooting, why did he do it and could he have been stopped? Public schools in Cleveland are closed toady after a 14-year-old gunman opened fire at his high school. Police identify him as 14-year-old Asa Coon. They say that he entered the school with two revolvers, firing eight shots, appearing to target teachers after he was suspended earlier in the week for getting into a fight. Two teachers and two students were wounded. The gunman then killed himself. Police have released some of the calls to 911. Let's listen.
911: OK. Where's the student at?
STUDENT: He's in the building.
911: OK. Do you know where at in the building?
STUDENT: No, I ran out the school.
911: Was he threatening somebody with it?
STUDENT: He shot it.
911: He shot the gun?
911: How many shots did he fire?
STUDENT: How many shots did he fire? Two or three?
CHETRY: Police say that the 14-year-old gunman had a juvenile record including an arrest for domestic violence last year. According to juvenile court records, obtained by a local Cleveland paper, Coon was suspended from school last year for trying to hurt a student. Records also show that he threatened to commit suicide last year while in a mental health center. One student said Coon had made threats in front of students and teachers as late as last week but that no one took him seriously. The school is equipped with metal detectors students say but they also say they're rarely used.
High school students are back in class in Crandon, Wisconsin, after a shooting rampage at a party over the weekend involving a police officer. All of the victims and the off-duty cop who shot them either went to school or graduated from Crandon High, including 14- year-old Leanna Thomas, who died in the shooting.
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ANDREW HIGGINS, CRANDON SOPHOMORE: Not to see here. We're trying to cope with this, you know. They're not really throwing anything at us right away, how hurt we are.
DR. RICHARD PETERS, SUPERINTENDENT: Don't expect to be teaching geometry, English literature or whatever. Allow the students to have time to talk and process and begin to work out a new reality for them for school.
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CHETRY: 20-year-old Tyler Peterson killed all six people at a house party early Sunday morning. Several hours later, he turned the gun on himself.
ROBERTS: Well, angry reaction from Turkey today over a vote in the U.S. Congress. The Foreign Affairs Committee voted to condemn the mass killing of Armenians back in World War I as genocide. Turkey denies its predecessors carried out this systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenians in the World War I era. President Bush is concerned about strained relations with Turkey and urges congress not to pass that resolution.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915, but this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings. Its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror.
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ROBERTS: Turkey is threatening to stop the U.S. military from shipping supplies through their country into Iraq. A lot of the supplies going into Iraq go through the Incirlic airbase in Turkey.
An attempt by the government to crack down on companies employing illegal immigrants was blocked by a federal judge. The Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security had planned to warn companies that they could face penalties for employing workers whose social security numbers didn't match their names. The San Francisco judge said the new rule would pose a hardship on businesses and workers and issued a temporary injunction against it.
Well, you might be surprised to know just who takes body building steroids. A new survey says most users are not elite athletes. They're average Joes, maybe even played dodgeball. We're paging Dr. Gupta on this, CNN's chief medical correspondent. He's in Atlanta this morning. So, Sanjay who are these people?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN, CHIEF MEDICCAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's amazing if you look at the survey, 88 percent of the people who are taking these steroids are actually they're Caucasians, they're white, they're affluent and they're well educated. They are not professional athletes as you mentioned, John. Pretty remarkable.
I also find that most of these people take the injectable form of the steroid, not the pill form as well. These results come from an internet survey actually looking at people who are buying these medications on the internet so it's not a perfect study, but they do show that a lot of people get these medications on the internet so it does represents a vast segment of the population. Again, most of these people taking it for muscle mass and strength but not for any kind of organized sport. John, we talked to a few experts about this. They coined the term "big-o-rexia," kind of like the opposite of anorexia. And this is a real problem when people taking these sort of performance-enhancing substances to try to get bigger, to give themselves confidence and look good but not any other purpose, certainly not for medical purposes, John.
ROBERTS: So, Sanjay, you say that these are being acquired over the internet. But where are they actually coming from and can people be assured of the quality of these drugs? I mean, first of all, they're illegal and they shouldn't have them but if they're injecting them, you would hope that they would at least be of high quality.
GUPTA: It is hard to regulate the quality of a lot of these medications. They do come in illegally which means that they don't come into any kind of real oversight in terms of checking the quality or the safety of these substances. Some of them are coming in from Mexico; some are coming in from other places around the world, that's one thing about the internet. You don't know exactly sometimes from where these medications are coming. We do know that it's very expensive though and the people who are taking these medications again just for this "big-o-orexia," they're using quite a bit of it.
I'll give you an example for medical purposes you might take 300 milligrams of some sort of steroid every week. A lot of these guys are taking up to 800 milligrams a week, which can cause real long-term health problems as we talked about. It's not cheap, it's about $70 to $100 a week as well to do that. This is something they're doing all the time, chronically.
ROBERTS: Right, and as you said, the attendant health concerns that go along with that, everything from liver to cardiovascular disease. Sanjay Gupta on that for you this morning. Sanjay, thanks.
GUPTA: Thank you.
ROBERTS: By the way, there's still time to e-mail questions to Sanjay Gupta's mailbag. Go to CNN.com/am. He's going to be answering your questions, coming up at our next hour of AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: A cocaine bust on the high seas topping your "Quick Hits" now. U.S. customs agents spotted a suspicious fishing boat off the coast of Ecuador and on board they found more than 6,000 pounds of cocaine. It was mixed with diesel fuel.
Medicaid enrollment and spending is down for the first time in more than a decade but there's some dispute over why. State Medicaid directors say that new rules requiring applicants to prove their citizenship slows down the application process. Federal authorities though say that's actually a very small problem and that the improving economy means that fewer people need Medicaid.
Well, nasty weather caught on tape. One of our i-Reporters catching some lightning along the South Carolina coast. We'll check in with Bonnie Schneider and find out where the stormy weather is heading next.
ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, SUV crash test results.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folded like a sandwich and you know, the driver still has to fit in there. There's nothing to -- no side air bag to protect that chest and abdomen area.
ROBERTS: Which vehicle is the safest and what model performed worse than a car? How did your SUV rate? Find out ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. This great picture tops your "Quick Hits" now. The Atlas 5 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral last night. The rocket carried a new satellite up into space. Ski season starts in the Rockies. A basin gets bragging rights to the first resort in Colorado to open. It always likes to do that, also likes to be the last one to close. 18 inches of snow as you can see right there, just on the runs and on the rails. All of it mostly manmade.
A new study says global warming isn't just making the planet hotter, it's also making it more humid. The study in the journal "Nature" says moisture in the air has risen on average 2.2 percent over the past 30 years. So, perhaps Bonnie Schneider the oceans won't actually rise because they'll be evaporating at the same rate which of course wouldn't be a good thing because the planet turns into a desert.
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely.
ROBERTS: What are we looking at in terms of weather today?
SCHNEIDER: Well, we have great pictures to show you of extreme weather. That's right, in South Carolina, at Ediso beach. Now, that's just south of Charleston, South Carolina. And take a look at the pictures behind me. What you're looking at is actually flashes of lightning that were so intense, reports of fires breaking out, at least two of them from weather spotters in the region. This picture was shot by Daniel Walters, one of our i-Reporters. And you can see the beach and look at that thick cloud right above the horizon there. Unbelievable.
Well unfortunately for them, some rough weather yesterday, but better news this morning. You can see the current temperature in Charleston, just to the north of that city is 61 degrees. So the cooler air is in place all the way into Nashville right now, it is 47 degrees. That's a chilly morning in Tennessee. It's not just cold down in the Carolinas and Tennessee. We have cool air across the northeast and the Great Lakes and Detroit currently 47 degrees. 48 in Chicago.
So we are definitely looking at some cooler temperatures across a good portion of the country. I want to show you some rough weather though as we take a look at Atlantic City. We had some strong thunderstorms roll through the region, even a tornado warning that popped up earlier on about 4:00. No tornadoes reported now, just some stronger winds, as we get ready for an advancing storm. This is really winding up over the Great Lakes, John, and what will happen is a coastal storm will develop and that will affect you in New York City. We'll look for the winds to kick up a bit and some heavy downpours for the evening commute.
ROBERTS: Looks like it's going to cause some problems at the airports here, too. which nobody needs. Bonnie Schneider for us at Atlanta. Bonnie, thanks. Kiran.
CHETRY: Well, as we've been reporting this morning, there are some test results that may surprise you in some of the mid size SUVs. In many cases, they may not be as safe as your car, particularly when it comes to side impact testing. AMERICAN MORNING's Greg Hunter is live at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Rockersville, Virginia, with more on those results. Good morning, Greg.
GREG HUNTER, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran. Well, in front impact tests like this Chevy Trailblazer, it did well, as well as all of the mid sized SUVs. But when it comes to side impact crashes, well that's another story.
HUNTER (voice-over): The size crash test simulates the impact of another SUV or pickup at 31 miles an hour. This Nissan Xterra on the left without air bags, on the right with them, the dummy fared much better.
ADRIAN LUND, IIHS, PRESIDENT: Having a side air bag to protect your head from whatever's coming in or to protect your chest and abdomen can mean the difference between surviving and dying in a crash.
HUNTER: Nissan told us, while air bag systems have been shown to help mitigate risk of injury; Nissan believes that seat belts and vehicle structure help provide the primary protection in crashes. But even with side air bags, the institute says two SUV models rated worse than many cars in the side test. This Jeep Grand Cherokee was rated marginal because its air bag only protected the head.
LUND: You can see how the driver's seat is smashed over.
HUNTER: Like a sandwich.
LUND: Folded like a sandwich and you know, the driver still has to fit in there. There's nothing to, no side air bag here to protect that chest and abdomen area.
HUNTER: Chrysler, Jeep's manufacturer told CNN the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee has performed well in a variety of internal and external test conditions and meets or exceeds all federal motor safety standards. The Chevrolet Trailblazer rated marginal due to a similar problem.
LUND: Too much intrusion, and the side of the vehicle have been pushed in, and then the driver's chest and abdomen weren't adequately padded.
HUNTER: In contrast, a smaller sedan, the 2005 Volkswagen Jetta seen here on the right protects the driver better than the Trailblazer on the left. That's because it has side air bags for both head and torso, not just the head. In a statement, the manufacturer, General Motors, said the Chevrolet Trailblazer meets or exceeds all federal motor vehicle safety standards, but there is some encouraging news. The institute says all six models performed well in the 40 mile-an- hour frontal crash tests.
HUNTER (on-screen): At one of the vehicles that performed well got top marks, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Now remember, 40 miles an hour into a solid pillar of concrete, and the reason why it did well is they tell me at the institute that look at the door frame. It is intact. It is pretty much pristine. That means the cabin stayed intact, the air bag could work properly and the person in this vehicle and this crash test probably wouldn't have gotten hurt so this Jeep Grand Cherokee got top marks in the front crash test. Kiran, back to you.
CHETRY: All right. Thanks a lot, Greg.
And also just to recap again for the side impact testing, the Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Xterra, and Toyota 4Runner are rated good for protection but only when they're equipped with those side air bags which are optional. But the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Chevy Trailblazer as well as the GMC envoy did not fair so well. The institute flags these SUVs for not having additional sets of airbags to protect front seat applicants' chest and abdomen. They received a marginal rating.
Again, you can go to our website, cnn.com/am and you can actually look and plug in your own car, see how your SUV or vehicle fared in these side impact tests.
ROBERTS: Coming up to 47 minutes after the hour. Some of the top stories on today's political ticker.
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has hired a high profile Washington attorney, George Terwilliger. Gonzales is under investigation for allegedly lying to Congress about the warrantless wire tapping program and letting politics influence the hiring and firing of federal prosecutors. Terwilliger says Gonzales did nothing wrong and his hiring an attorney should not be seen as a sign of guilt.
New numbers show Hillary Clinton beating the top Republican presidential hopefuls in three key battle ground states. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, Clinton leads Rudy Giuliani in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania by 3 to 6 points. Just six months ago, Giuliani led in those states.
Meanwhile, Clinton is getting ready for her 60th birthday party fund-raiser in New York two weeks from today. According to "The Daily News," she could rake in $2 million at the concert, featuring Elvis Costello and a surprise guest.
And Republican Fred Thompson is revealing how lucrative life has been a star in television and the movies. The federal election committee reports Thompson made $12 million since January of 2006, with most of it coming from various entertainment-related roles. The former Tennessee senator is perhaps best known for his role in the NBC crime drama "Law & Order." Find all of the day's political news around the clock at CNN.com/ticker.
CHETRY: And the state children's health insurance program causing a high stakes political confrontation between Democrats and the president. Now there's a 12-year-old activist that's become the center of the story. Also ahead a new recall this morning on over-the-counter medicines for children, cold medicines. What can do you to help your baby if she has a bad cold? Dr. Sanjay Gupta has some advice and more specific medicines that are being recalled, what you should look out for in your own cabinets this morning. That's ahead, coming up.
CHETRY: And it is 51 minutes past the hour right now. Time to get you caught up on the top stories of the day. All public schools in Cleveland are closed this morning after a 14-year-old student opened fire at his high school. Police say Asa Coon shot two teachers and two students. They survived. Coon then shot and killed himself. He had been suspended for fighting earlier in the week.
Testing begins today on a new airport security screening machine. It would create a picture of the passenger right down to their underwear as it searches for hidden weapons. To help protect passenger privacy, faces will be blurred out and security agents will be looking at the images in a separate room.
Another potential problem with a toy made in China. Marvel Enterprises said it has stopped shipments of that doll; it's a Curious George toy, pending tests to determine whether they contain illegally high amounts of lead.
And the State Department is trying to knock down reports that it may cut back or completely phase out private security guards in Iraq, like Blackwater U.S.A.. This morning the State Department is telling CNN that they need the contractors and it is not likely to get rid of them in the foreseeable future.
ROBERTS: One week from today, democrats will try to pull off a political rarity override a presidential veto. The battle is over an expansion of the children's health insurance program and 12-year-old activist has become the center of the story.
ROBERTS: Graham Frost was left with severe brain injuries from a near fatal car crash, but it hasn't stopped him from lobbying, working with democrats to expand the state children's health insurance program known as s-chip. Democrats even pick Graham to give their weekly radio address.
GRAHAM FROST: I don't know why President Bush wants to stop kids who really need help from getting chip. I just hope the president will listen to my story and help other kids to be as lucky as me.
ROBERTS: Conservative bloggers like Michelle Malkin pounced claiming the Frost family say fraud, too wealthy for government assistance. One accusation, that Graham attends a $20,000 a year private school. The family insists scholarships cover most of that bill. Some of the accusations may be exaggerated or false, but did the democrats make a tactical error in holding up Graham as their poster child? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think in this instance what happened was the democrats didn't do as much of a vetting as they could have done on this young man, his situation and his family.
ROBERTS: Bloggers also posted the Frost family's home address, blurred here to protect their privacy, and yesterday on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh continued the attacks.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: How the dirty little secret is this. The democrats put lies into the Frost kid's head, a 12-year-old kid being used to advance a distortion and a lie.
ROBERTS: The Frost family refused to show their tax returns to a local reporter. Congressional observers point out that, regardless of which issue is being debated, these cut-throat tactics are part of a new and distasteful trend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More and more congress is acting less like a deliberative legislative body, and more like a political campaign. We've been seeing the politicization of every aspect of government.
ROBERTS: And we should point out as well, Graham's parents, Hallsey and Bonnie Frost still do not have health insurance for themselves.
Fifty-five minutes after the hour. Heart attack rumors topping your "Quick Hits" now. Bobby Brown's attorney says the singer is recovering from a mild heart attack but Brown says he didn't have a heart attack. He just went to the hospital for a pre-tour checkup.
A change of tune for Madonna. She is reportedly close to leaving her long-time label Warner Brothers for a new deal with concert promoter Live Nation. The new deal is worth $120 million and includes three studio albums.
Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: Well it is a minute before the top of the hour and Ali Velshi is "Minding your Business" rather quickly today.
ALI VELSHI, "MINDING YOUR BUSINESS": Yes, what do you want. The good news or the bad news?
CHETRY: Good news of course.
VELSHI: Good news is that foreclosures are down from August. September foreclosures are down from August. The bad news, take a look at this. They are up 100 per cent almost, 99 percent from September 2006, almost quarter of a million foreclosures across the country. Nevada leads the pack once again 1 in 185 homes is in some for of foreclosure. That could just mean that you've missed enough payments, not necessarily that you're losing your house. But 1 in 185, Florida 1 in 248, California and Michigan round off the top four. Some would say that the silver lining on that cloud is that August was the worse month in 32 months and that we are only going to see fewer of these foreclosures. Others might not agree with that.
ROBERTS: So, when does this impact the economy?
VELSHI: Well, it is now. And we're starting to see sales coming in. You're going to see for retail, things people buy the next three months is when it's really busy so we're going to start to see whether people shop over the next three months and that will give you the best indication of whether its...
ROBERTS: We know you are just the man to keep watching.
VELSHI: I'm on it.
CHETRY: Thanks, Ali.
ROBERTS: The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING.
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