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President Obama in China; The AIG Bailout; New Breast Exam Guidelines; Killings at the Canal; Where Presidents Hu and Obama Meet and Where They're Split; Why We May Pay More in Taxes or See Smaller Refunds; Safe Social Networking; Shocking Numbers of Hungry Americans, According to Agriculture Dept.; Palin's Quest To Be Taken Seriously Falls Flat for Some Conservative Women
Aired November 17, 2009 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Here are some of the other stories we're watching right now.
A new poll says the majority of people support a new tax on the rich to pay for health care. The House health care bill calls for a tax on people who make more than half a million dollars a year. The new Associated Press poll says there's also majority support for taxing people who make half of that $250,000.
Shoppers are picking paper over plastic this holiday season. The National Retail Federation says one out of four people will use cash for their holiday purchases. Just one in ten used cash last year. A rising credit card interest rates and smaller credit limits have a lot to do with that change.
Successful separation this morning for 2-year-old twins joined at the head. It took a team of surgeons in Australia about 25 hours to separate Trishna and Krishna. It's still too early to tell how the children did in the surgery. There is a 50/50 chance they will have brain damage.
President Obama in China and in search of common ground. Earlier today he and his Chinese counterpart emerged from hours of talks. They spoke of shared optimism, common goals, and long standing divisions.
CNN's Ed Henry is traveling with the president and has this report now from Beijing.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Beijing's bitter cold, President Obama was all about showcasing a new warmth with China as he toured the historic Forbidden City and its Hall of Supreme Harmony.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beautiful. What a magnificent place to visit.
HENRY: By the end of this week, Mr. Obama will have visited 20 nations, the most in the first year of any American president. Though he told Chinese president Hu Jintao in the ornate Great Hall of the People, their relationship may be most pivotal of all.
OBAMA: In this young century, the jobs we do, the prosperity we build, the environment we protect, the security that we seek, all these things are shared.
HENRY: It was not, however, all sweetness and light. While Mr. Obama avoided a meeting with the Dalai Lama in Washington last month to not ruffle feathers before this visit, here in Beijing, he gently but publicly pushed the Chinese to cool tensions with the Tibetan spiritual leader.
OBAMA: While we recognize that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China, the United States supports the early resumption of dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve any concerns and differences that the two sides might have.
HENRY: And while they spoke of broad economic cooperation, Hu slapped at the U.S. for recently hitting Chinese tires and steel with new levies.
HU JINTAO, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): Our two countries need to oppose and reject protectionism in all its manifestations in an even stronger stand.
HENRY: But the world's two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases vowed to work together to get concrete action on climate change at a summit next month in Copenhagen.
OBAMA: An accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational effect. This kind of comprehensive agreement would be an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution to our climate challenge.
HENRY (on camera): But the Chinese president stopped far short of endorsing tough new sanctions against Iran, though both sides are pledging cooperation to stop North Korea's nuclear program, just a couple of days before Mr. Obama visits South Korea, the final stop on this long Asian journey.
Ed Henry, CNN, Beijing.
COLLINS: President Obama says he wants to level the playing field with China's economy and that's a goal shared by most Americans.
According to the latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll, 27 percent of Americans see China as a large potential market for the U.S. But a large majority view China more negatively. Two-thirds of those polled believe China represents unfair competition for the United States.
President Obama is now in the final hours of his trip to China. He leaves Beijing tomorrow morning and heads to Seoul, South Korea. The final stop of his Asian tour. The nation's housing crisis. There's more mixed news on Americans losing their homes. Overall mortgage delinquencies hit another record. That's according to the credit reporting agency TransUnion.
For the third quarter of this year, 6.75 percent of all U.S. homes were overdue on their mortgage payments by 60 days or more. That's an increase of 58 percent from the same time last year. Now here is a bit of glimmer of home. TransUnion says the pace of delinquency has slowed.
Bank of America executives in the hot seat this hour. They're defending their merger with Merrill Lynch to a House oversight panel. The committee is asking how a private deal between the two companied turned into another federal bailout.
After the merger, Bank of America got billions more in bailout money to cover Merrill's losses. But then Merrill paid out billions in bonuses any way.
Remember all that money the government paid to rescue the American International Group, AIG? Well, the man charged with overseeing all the bailout money says the insurance company certainly got the better part of that deal.
CNN's Stephanie Elam is in New York this morning with more on this.
So did taxpayers get a raw deal here, Stephanie?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what it looks like they're saying at this point here, Heidi. And this is basically an issue of whether or not the Fed threw around their weight when it came to the bailout of AIG last fall.
This is really words that are coming from Neil Barofsky. He is the inspector general -- the special inspector general for the $700 billion bailout money that was all put together last year. Now as the housing bubble popped in 2007, just to give you an idea of how this happened, the banks were starting to see these bad assets show up on their balance sheets.
So they went to their insurer, AIG, and said hey, help us out, give us some collateral here. AIG did that. But as more banks came to them, they started hemorrhaging tens of billions of dollars and that's the point where it's deemed too big to fail and you saw the Fed step in.
But the problem is the Fed didn't negotiate concessions with these banks so $62.1 billion of taxpayer and AIG funds were funneled into 16 banks. You're just seeing a few names of them there in front of you. And these funds -- the inspector general is saying -- basically acted as a bailout for these banks because they didn't actually have to go and deal with these assets because they were able to get this money through AIG. So the basic argument here is that the Fed gave up their leveraging power by not letting the company get worse perhaps, AIG, by not saying hey, we'll let this company fail if you guys don't make some concessions here and help us out.
At least one of those banks was willing to do that but that didn't happen and so there were some people who are saying that these banks just got way too much money without actually having to be on the ringer for it -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Yes, wow. Understood. All right. Stephanie Elam will continue to watch that one certainly.
The Army is planning another probe into the shooting at Fort Hood. "The Washington Post" reports Army Chief of Staff General George Casey wants a closer look at Major Nidal Malik Hasan's entire military career. The investigative team will be made up of military personnel and civilians, and will be separate from other criminal investigations.
"The Wall Street Journal" says the investigation will focus on Hasan's six years at Walter Reed in Washington before he was transferred to Fort Hood in July.
Rob Marciano watching all things weather and severe weather, too. Stormy Pacific northwest. Yes?
MARCIANO: And you know, Heidi, what makes me sad is the pumpkin harvest, if it weren't bad enough because of Halloween, now people want to be cooking pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and, you know, places like Illinois and Indiana, they harvest a lot of pumpkins and...
MARCIANO: With all of this rainfall, it hasn't been good. So...
COLLINS: Do you eat pumpkin pie? I don't eat pumpkin pie.
MARCIANO: Of course. You don't...
COLLINS: I'm very sensitive to this.
COLLINS: I'm aware.
MARCIANO: You know, once a year. I might even partake in a pumpkin ale once.
MARCIANO: Just to be festive.
COLLINS: Yes, indeed, because that's the kind of guy you are. Rob Marciano, we'll talk with you a little bit later on. Thanks.
MARCIANO: We're on. You bet .
COLLINS: A government panel is changing its take on women's health screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now says their own recommendations that women should get mammograms starting at the age of 40 are wrong. They say women should wait until they're 50 to start routine screenings.
The panel also says self-breast exams are a waste of time and recommend doctors stop teaching women how to do them. We should emphasize there are no oncologists on this government task force and the American Cancer Society says they stand behind their recommendations of regular screenings for women beginning at the age of 40.
As always, we urge you to talk to your doctor before making a final decision on whose recommendations you really want to follow. In fact, we're talking with a couple of doctors ourselves. We are going to be asking them what they think of the new government guidelines in just a moment.
COLLINS: Earlier we talked about new breast cancer screening guidelines from a government panel. That panel says women should wait until the age of 50 for routine mammograms.
We're talking to a couple of doctors this morning to get their take on the recommendations. Let's begin this morning with Dr. Amy Abernethy, associate director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. She's joining us from Durham, North Carolina this morning.
Thanks so much for joining us. I guess the question just right off the top, do you get a mammography when you get into your 40s or not?
DR. AMY ABERNETHY, ASSOC. DIR., DUKE COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER: Well, for me, in my personal risk, mammography in my 40s is probably not the right thing. But this is a discussion between me and my doctor making a decision based on what she knows about me and what I know about my own personal history, my personal breasts, and the information sitting in front of me.
COLLINS: OK. The only problem I think with that is for people watching at home, I mean, this is a government task force that is making sort of a sweeping recommendation for all women in their 40s.
How did they take that information and evaluate it and decide if it's right for them?
ABERNETHY: The government task force has the responsibility of taking the evidence, putting it together or synthesizing it, and providing us advice about what that synthesized evidence should mean for women. And specifically in this case it's for the woman in her 40s with an average risk and their recommendations based on that review of the evidence including new information that came out in 2008 is that this doesn't make sense for the average woman in their 40s.
COLLINS: OK. Well, that's where I'm confused. Everything that I've read says that this was all based on the same exact information that the task force had in 2002. You're saying there is new information?
ABERNETHY: Yes. So...
COLLINS: What is the new information?
ABERNETHY: The task force had two things in addition sitting in front of them. One was a new systematic review which is a combination of all of the studies and clinical trials already that are already out there, and they put that together and summarized what all those trials said together and provided that information to the task force. And that included one new randomized control trial from the U.K.
They also had information provided through the modeling studies funded by the National Cancer Institute that confirmed what they were seeing in systematic review.
COLLINS: OK. Boy, it's a lot to take in...
COLLINS: ... if you're someone not familiar with how these research projects, if you will, and all of this take place and then what do with that information. So your take away for patients at home, the women at home who are watching right now, is what?
ABERNETHY: So my take away is that the task force is responsible for giving us public advice but this is a personal decision between women and their doctors. And really as an informed consumer, our responsibility is to get back to talking to our doctors about what to do in each of our individual situations.
COLLINS: All right, Dr. Amy Abernethy. We sure do appreciate it. Our of Duke this morning. Thanks so much.
ABERNETHY: Thank you.
COLLINS: I want to take a moment to Dr. Peter Pressman, he's a surgical oncologist and author of the book, "Breast Cancer: The Complete Guide." Dr. Pressman is joining us from New York this morning.
Doctor, I'm going to ask you the same exact question. Go get a mammography when you get into your 40s or not? Has this evidence now changed?
DR. PETER PRESSMAN, SURGICAL ONCOLOGIST: The information has not changed and the evidence upon which this new report is based is absolutely the same. It's a statistical idea and evaluation and it's true, the same number of cancers are going to be found over a period of time but they're not going to be found as early and they're not going to be found as small.
Treatments are going to have to be more severe and I think it will definitely impact on a lower cure rate.
COLLINS: Now I just keep thinking about the people at home who are watching. The same thing I said to Dr. Abernathy. We certainly don't want to put a whole bunch of information out there and just confuse everyone even more.
How do you understand as a patient what you should really be doing? Are we back to the whole idea of basic idea of a case-by-case scenario here?
PRESSMAN: Seventy percent of women who develop a breast cancer have no specific risk factors. So I think overall we really have to say to women that the best advice over these years has been demonstrated and we at the American Cancer Society and most breast surgeons recognize that the annual mammogram is going to be the best way to find early breast cancers.
There has been criticism that perhaps some of these cancers are indolent, they may take a while to grow up and become larger, and in fact some of them may not need to be treated. But on the whole, they really do need to be treated. And it has been -- we've been able to treat less aggressively because we've been able to find the cancers at a smaller size.
COLLINS: So has your opinion changed or what you're going to tell your patients today any different than what it was yesterday?
PRESSMAN: No. We're going to encourage women to continue to have mammography every year and we hope that they will continue to have it into their 70s. We do know that breast cancer is much more common in women in their 60s than it is in their 50s than it is in their 40s.
We also know that it's harder to diagnose when women are younger. And that's exactly why more frequent mammography has been demonstrated to be a better way of picking up breast cancers. In fact, in this report there's also some commentary about the role of breast palpation which is not being encouraged.
And all of us who treat breast cancer every day see women who say well, you know, I had a mammogram a few months ago and now I found a lump.
PRESSMAN: But we also know that the lumps that are found between mammograms tend not to be as early breast cancer as ones found on mammography. When we at the cancer society have evaluated this same evidence over many years and gone over it many times, we even think that more frequent mammography in younger women would be more valuable than older women.
COLLINS: Wow. All right. Well, we will continue to follow this obviously. It's certainly has generated a whole lot of discussion and questions.
Dr. Peter Pressman, sure do appreciate your thoughts this morning. Thank you.
So these new mammogram guidelines, obviously, the big story here in the CNN NEWSROOM and now we want to know what you think. Do you think they make things easier these recommendations or are they just more confusing. Go ahead and send us what your thoughts are today.
We are on CNN.com/heidi. You can post your thoughts there. And in just a little while I'll be reading some of those responses. About 20 minutes or so. Oops, I kind of just messed it up. So we'll put that back on there for you so you can get a little bit more idea about the story in case you missed it earlier.
Meanwhile, Iraqis killed in cold blood. Soldiers punished for taking the law into their own hands. But what pushed them to make a decision? It's a CNN special investigation.
COLLINS: Checking our top stories now.
A woman accused in the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart is set to plead guilty today. Wanda Aileen Barzee has reached a plea deal with prosecutors. Barzee and her then husband Brian David Mitchell are accused of kidnapping Smart from the bedroom of her Utah home. She was found nine months later. At a competence hearing for Mitchell last month, now 21-year-old Smart testified that Mitchell raped her daily over those nine months.
In Chicago, a police investigation will go on into the death of a school board president. But an autopsy has concluded Michael Scott committed suicide. Scott's body and a handgun were found near a riverside loading dock early Monday morning. Police are looking for security video -- security camera video and tracking registration of that gun.
Authorities have not linked the death to the district's troubles with youth violence or an investigation into admissions to the city's selected enrollment high schools.
And the conclusion of a hearing in Las Vegas for Michael Jackson's personal physician was not the end of court time for journalists. After these pictures were taken, Dr. Conrad Murray and his lawyers were hustled from the courtroom.
But a court officer refused to let reporters leave for several minutes. A court spokesman later said the delay was probably to ensure safety and decorum. Murray was in court in a child support case. Why were four Iraqi prisoners shot execution style at a Baghdad canal? Three Army sergeants were convicted of the crime. CNN obtained nearly 24 hours of Army interrogation videotapes that detail that crime. Tonight Special Investigations Unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau talks to a soldier who says the sergeants did the right thing.
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: The soldier we talked to was one of the last to see the men alive. He describes how his first sergeant decided not to take the four Iraqis they had just captured to a detainee center. He feared they would be released since there was not enough evidence to hold them.
I asked Joshua Hartson what happened before the men were killed.
JOSHUA HARTSON, FORMER PRIVATE FIRST CLASS: My first sergeant comes up to me and pulls me away from everybody. Then he asks me if we take them to the detainee facility, the DHA (ph), that they're going to be right back on the streets doing the same thing in a matter of weeks. He asked if I had a problem if we took care of them and I told him no.
BOUDREAU (on camera): And what do you think he meant by that?
HARTSON: To kill them.
BOUDREAU: How could you be OK with that?
HARTSON: They were bad guys. If we were to let them go or take them in we risk the chance of them getting out and killing us, killing other people.
BOUDREAU: The four Iraqi men were lined up next to the Baghdad Canal and killed. All three sergeants were eventually convicted of premeditated murder.
We take a hard look at the Army's policy for detaining prisoners in our four-part investigation, "KILLINGS AT THE CANAL, THE ARMY TAPES." It begins tonight on "AC 360."
COLLINS: All right, Abbie. Thanks.
Your tax refund could be lighter next year or you may owe the IRS more than you think. Why the government's bad math is to blame.
ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Heidi Collins.
COLLINS: President Obama wrapped up his day in China, and what a day it's been. Earlier, he met with Chinese president Hu Jintao for several hours. They came out of the meetings stressing common goals, like the economy, climate change and energy. They also agreed to varying degrees on the nuclear threats of Iran and North Korea. They remain deeply divided, though, on China's record on human rights and U.S. levies on Chinese products like tires and steel.
Whatever the differences may be, both countries accept they have more to gain as allies than enemies. CNN's John Vause is in Beijing with a closer look at the spirits of the talks.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Both presidents spoke for an equal amount of time, around 17 minutes each. For the most part, it was very warm and friendly, although President Obama did raise the issue of human rights. In particular, he urged China to resume negotiations with representatives from the Dalai Lama.
Chinese know the U.S. position on this especially on Tibet, so perhaps that was more a more for a domestic audience back home for President Obama. What's clear is that the overriding issue during these next few days of talks is in fact, the economy. President Obama talking about our urgent need to rebalance the economic relationship between these two countries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Going forward, we agree to advance the pledge made at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh and pursue a strategy of more balanced economic growth. A strategy where America saves more, spends less, reduces our long-term debt and where China makes adjustments across a broad range of policies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For his part and perhaps an indication of the warming relations between these two men, President Hu seemed to speak in Obama-esque tones, saying there would be disagreement but it was important to keep this relationship moving forward especially on issues like climate change.
But what's becoming increasingly clear is there is virtually no chance of a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen next month to cut CO2 admissions.
On the issue of North Korea, President Obama said it was crucial for North Korea to return to the six-party talks. Those multilateral negotiations aimed at ending the North's elicit nuclear program. He said he had China's full support for that. And on the issue of Iran, it seems China may have moved closer to the U.S. position, with President Hu saying it was now crucial for Tehran to live up to its obligations under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
PRESIDENT HU JINTAO, CHINA (through translator): We both stressed that to uphold the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and to appropriately resolve Iranian nuclear issue through (INAUDIBLE) and the negotiations. It's very important to stability in the Middle East and in the Gulf region. VAUSE: Mostly, though, from both leaders it was pretty much the same kind of statements we've been hearing almost for all of this year.
John Vause, CNN, Beijing.
COLLINS: When it comes to taxes, it's not always cut and dry. And now a new report says more than a million people could end up owing the IRS more money than they expected.
Susan Lisovicz is on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with a little more detail on all of this. Susan, this all goes back to the stimulus package. What went wrong here?
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It wasn't supposed to work this way. Let's just be clear right at the outset, Heidi.
What went wrong is the calculations. and the end result is the IRS will always get you, even if it was an innocent mistake made by your employer. It's called the "Making Work Pay" tax credit, enacted way back when in February as part of the massive stimulus package. The deal is you would see a boost in your paycheck. Your employer would withhold less in your taxes.
Of course, there were income limits and that kind of thing. But about 15.5 million of us got too much of a break, Heidi. That means you'll either see less of a refund next year or you'll actually owe the IRS next year. Bummer. Heidi?
COLLINS: Yes. Is this a random problem or is there kind of a theme here? Will we see more of this?
LISOVICZ: There's definitely a theme. The reason why is your employer is looking at these income levels and deciding whether you fall into it, and so then will do withholding. The problem is our employers understandably don't know if our spouse works and what our spouse makes and whether that in fact puts you over those income limits.
So, you have the two-income families that are vulnerable. Also lots of folks, especially these days, working two jobs. That may put you over the limit. What if your teen is a dependent -- your claimant is a dependent but he or she works? That can put you over the limit. And if you draw a pension or Social Security but also work -- so all of these groups might be vulnerable. We'll find out soon enough when you do your taxes next year. I always use an accountant for that very reason.
We're seeing (INAUDIBLE) on Wall Street this morning, is a little bit of resistance for the bulls but coming off a nice, nice winning streak. Dow has been higher eight of the nine last sessions and at 13-month highs when it closed yesterday. NASDAQ is under a little bit of pressure as well. I've been looking at it, and I see the Dow is exactly halfway or just about halfway from the lows of the bear market and the all-time highs we saw two years ago.
COLLINS: What does that mean?
LISOVICZ: We're getting there. Well, we're going forward.
COLLINS: Forward indeed. All right. Susan Lisovicz, thank you.
LISOVICZ: You're welcome.
COLLINS: Rob Marciano in the Severe Weather Center. Boy, we keep looking at the swirling and whirling behind you, it looks massive. We're talking about the Pacific Northwest.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Sometimes the swirling and whirling can put people into a trance.
COLLINS: Yes. Is that what happens to you over there?
MARCIANO: Yes. You know how I am with maps and certainly satellite imagery, be it a hurricane or decent fall storm like this one is. There's definitely a lot of swirling and whirling going on.
MARCIANO: Heidi, back over to you.
COLLINS: OK, very good. Thank you, Rob.
MARCIANO: You bet.
COLLINS: Stumped by her kids' online activities, a mother of five rolled up her sleeves, jumped in and started her own social networking site. She has tips for keeping your kids safe on the computer.
COLLINS: Checking some of our top stories now. If you need to stock up on Coke, don't go to Costco. The wholesale club operator is no longer carrying Coca-Cola products. Costco executives will only say they're at odds over pricing. We're not hearing much from the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola company, either, other than it considers Costco an important customer.
The owner of the Tennessee Titans, Bud Adams, is told to fork over $250,000 for doing that. The National Football League has fined him from making obscene hand gestures at Buffalo Bills fans. It happened after the Titans won the game on Sunday. The 86-year-old owner said he got caught up in the excitement of winning.
A government panel is changing its recommendation for routine mammograms and self-breast exams. The U.S. Preventive Services task force, which does not include any oncologists, now says women in their 40s are too young and should wait until they're 50. They also say self-exams are a waste of your time. (INAUDIBLE), though. We talked with many physicians, most of which say consult your doctor and make the personal decision. Others who say they will continue to recommend both mammographies for women in their 40s and the self-exams. The American Cancer Society also says it stands by its recommendations that women in their 40s should get routine mammograms.
Now, we have been asking on our blog all morning log this very question. Do you think the guidelines are confusing? Do you understand them? Are you going to change your personal decision on all of this? Some confusion out there, of course. Here's what some of you said.
Sandra writes, "I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40 after a routine mammogram. With the new guidelines, I probably wouldn't be celebrating over 20 years of being cancer-free.
Kimberly writes, "It's one thing to adjust the recommended start date of mammograms. It's utterly irresponsible to tell women that breast self-exams are worthless."
And Dee writes, "I don't know what to make of the new recommendations. Sounds like we're being eased into rationed health care."
Remember, we want to hear from you. All you have to do is log on to CNN.com/heidi. You'll get a little bit of an idea about what the story is about and this task force. You can go ahead and write to us and we'll share more thoughts later on.
Come straight home after school. Don't talk to strangers. Don't walk alone. We set all kinds of safety rules for our kids in real life. But many parents don't do any of that for their kids' online lives.
Mary Kay Hold decided that needs to change. She started her own social networking site for kids and now advises parents on Internet safety. She's joiningg us to talk more about that.
Good morning to you, Mary Kay. Appreciate you being here. And you're right. It seems like a lot of parents are forgetting a little bit about online safety. When we're talking about teenagers, what's the number one thing that parents should be advising their kids?
MARY KAY HOAL, STARTED KIDS' SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE: Parents need to think about their kids' online safety like they do their offline safety. We shouldn't accept that our child can be friended by an adult stranger. We don't. At Yoursphere, we verify identities. Parents shouldn't accept a registered sex offender can friend our kids. At Yoursphere, we verify that there aren't any registered sex offenders.
And then kids shouldn't be exposed to adult content ,so parents should make sure their kids in social networking sites aren't exposed to adult content. And dialogue is so important, Heidi. It really is. Kids are spending more time online than they are driving a car or riding a bike or skateboarding, and it's so important that parents have a continual dialogue.
And then when it comes to understanding what awaits our kids online, it's important that parents understand some of the technology. Now, you don't have to get tech savvy, but you need to understand what it means to participate in an adult social networking site and see adult content that comes to our kids. And I want to provide parents -- and if you go to Yoursphere.com, scroll down to Mary Kay's Blog -- there, parents are given tips that they can read so they can understand and keep up with the trends, because it can be overwhelming, Heidi, as parents to keep up with technology.
COLLINS: Yes. No question.
I want to make sure we get these tips going, too, for parents who are watching. You just said think about your child's safety in online world like would you in the offline world. Because as we mentioned going into this, you do make sure that they are eating right, looking both ways before they cross the street, but sometimes forget about all of the dangers that are really out there on the computer.
Stay aware of the trends and dangers that exist for your children online. You're saying that if we get on Yoursphere.com there will be more tips and ways you can specifically do that, right?
HOAL: Yes. There's a positive place at Yoursphere because we put safety and well-being of our kids first, and all of the content is created by kids and for teens, parents can be one, given tools they need to communicate and stay up with trends. And then kids can have a safety-first, online social network at Yoursphere where they can enjoy all of the wonderful things in an age-appropriate, content-appropriate community.
COLLINS: And you already mentioned something that we kind of joke about every now and then, saying, "Oh, yeah, my child is so much better on the computer and knows everything there is to know about it." You're saying don't joke about that. Because you really need to keep up with technology in order to keep them safe.
HOAL: Yes. You need to keep up with the technology and you need to understand that, sadly, there's a whole culture of anonymity that awaits kids online. And we've seen terrible bullying instances, terrible predatory instances. So, it's so important that parents understand why anonymity, when it comes to their child's safety, is a key thing they shouldn't have to put up with.
When we put our member safety first at Yoursphere, we make sure anonymity off the bat it's eliminated because it's so important that everyone is who they say they are and held accountable. And we've been able to see very robust and very positive and very engaging activity between our youth members.
COLLINS: Very good. I know you're the mother of five, so we appreciate all your comments here today, obviously, into the secret online world of some of our kids out there. Very important issue.
Thank you so much, Mary Kay Hoal. Appreciate it. No food on the table. New numbers paint an unsettling picture of hunger in America. Millions of people in need of a little help.
COLLINS: More Americans are going hungry. The Agriculture Department is reporting an unprecedented spike in the number of people struggling to put food on the table.
Felicia Taylor is in the CNNmoney.com newsroom in New York this morning. So, Felicia, looking at these numbers, break them down for us if you would.
FELICA TAYLOR, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes. You know, Heidi, it's amazing. We talk about obesity problem in this country, but here's the flip side to our country's reality. Seventeen million households, accounting for one of every six Americans, didn't have enough food last year. That's up 31 percent from 2007.
That's the highest level recorded since the Agricultural Department started releasing this annual report in 1995. More than 500,000 of the households reporting a lack of food also included homes with children. Now, even hunger advocates that we spoke to were shocked by the numbers. The head of the organization Bread for the World told us he knew the situation was bad based on reports from food pantries, but he called these official government numbers, quote, "appalling, stunning and unbelievable." Heidi?
COLLINS: Wow. What is reaction from the Obama administration on all of this?
TAYLOR: Well, President Obama called the report naturally unsettling and he obviously said more needs to be done. You might remember on the campaign trail, the president pledged to eradicate child hunger in the United States by 2015.
But some hunger advocates say the president hasn't talked enough about this issue since taking office. I mean, the man has a lot on his plate, but the stimulus bill included $20 billion for food stamps and hundreds of millions for food banks and school lunch programs.
But the real test is going to come next year. That's when Congress is expected to pass a new childhood nutrition program. Advocates we talked to want to see it expanded to provide meals for kids during the summer and more school breakfast programs. We'll see what funding the president pushes for. But given all the demands on the government's purse strings, it could be a real fight to significantly expand funding for these programs.
So, it's a real problem and it may be shocking to a lot of people out there, but for more on the story check out CNNmoney.com. Heidi?
COLLINS: All right. Very good. Felicia Taylor, appreciate that. Thank you. Refusing to go to Afghanistan in order to stay with family. Specialist Alexis Hutchinson was supposed to leave from a Georgia Army post earlier this month, but she claims she has no one to take care of her infant son. The Army arrested her when she stayed behind. Her son was sent across the country to stay with his grandmother.
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ANGELIQUE HUTCHINSON, HUTCHINSON'S MOTHER: I know she signed up for that, but to me, it should be some type of circumstances. I don't really think they should deploy anybody with an infant child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF KEVIN LARSON, FORT STEWART SPOKESMAN: Specialist Hutchinson claimed that her family care plan was no longer viable and that her command was not giving her adequate time to find new care. However, the Army did give her a 30-day extension, and like all soldiers was given out plenty of time to work out another care plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The Army agreed not to send Hutchinson to Afghanistan, but she could face criminal charges.
Sarah Palin's media blitz. Her book comes out, the gloves come off. You know what Democrats are probably saying. We'll gauge feedback from her target audience.
COLLINS: A fight in the Republican party over the governor's chair in Texas. Now former vice president Dick Cheney weighing in. But it's against incumbent Rick Perry. Cheney's expected to endorse Senator Kay Daley Hutchison today. She is set to face Perry in the Republican primary next year. Hutchison plans to keep her Senate seat while she campaigns.
Sarah Palin's long-awaited book, "Going Rogue," hits bookstores today, and it's accompanied by plenty of media interviews, as you would expect. Among them, a sit-down with Oprah Winfrey. Carol Costello put together a group of four women -- a Republican, libertarian, conservative and independent -- to watch the interview. Here's what they had to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, all new, the world exclusive. Oprah and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Maybe Oprah laid it on a little thick. World exclusive info?
COSTELLO (on camera): What was the strongest part of the interview? I mean, what really stood out, anything?
MARIANNA PICCIOCCHI, CONSERVATIVE, ATTORNEY: It was boring.
COTELLO: You thought it was boring?
PICCIOCCHI: It wasn't compelling.
JAMIE MAARTEN, LIBERTARIAN, PRES. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY LIBERTARIANS: I have to agree. I mean, she was well spoken and she -- she did look nice, but I feel it stops there.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Meet Jamie, a libertarian; Marianna, a conservative; Joyce, a Republican; and Leighann, an independent.
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Please welcome Sarah Palin.
COSTELLO: They already see the value in Sarah Palin's personal story. They don't much care about Levi Johnston posing for "Playgirl" or Katie Couric's interview. They want substance.
MAARTEN: I don't feel like there's a lot of political substance, and I don't know if you girls feel like that, but...
JOYCE GIUFFRA, REPUBLICAN, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, SEN. BOB DOLE: No. Supposedly, in a 432-page book, only 13 pages were dedicated to policy issues, which I think is a little bit telling of even, you know, her interview or her dedication to really looking...
MAARTEN: I find troubling.
COSTELLO: It's troubling for some because of Palin's exalted position within the Republican Party.
PICCIOCCHI: When I ask my friends - who, of course, are all liberal -- and I'm like, so, you know, what do you think of Palin? "Oh, I don't like her. She's dumb." They -- they don't have any substantive basis for that opinion.
COSTELLO: There were a few substantive matters that resonated, like Palin's decision to have a baby with Down Syndrome.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKAN GOVERNOR: It was easy to understand why a woman would feel that it's easier to just do away -- with some less than ideal circumstances -- to do away with the problem.
LEIGHANN LORD, INDEPENDENT, STANDUP COMEDIAN/BLOGGER: In a way, she almost trivialized the serious decision of abortion that some women make.
PICCIOCCHI: You know, (INAUDIBLE) the opposite.
LORD: No. No.
COSTELLO: Again, these women wanted debate and didn't get it, and know they probably wouldn't. COSTELLO (on camera): So are any of you going to buy her book?
LORD: I'm being a fiscal conservative right now, and I'm going to take it out of the library.
PICCIOCCHI: Yes. Exactly. I couldn't afford that right now.
GIUFFRA: Why would you want to buy it when we have all the excerpts on the -- on the Internet?
COSTELLO (on camera): All of these women like some aspect of Sarah Palin. They're just afraid if she keeps on selling her celebrity instead of her politics, eventually people will stop listening altogether.
Carol Costello, CNN, New York.
COLLINS: I'm Heidi Collins. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Tony Harris.