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Task Force Changes the Guidelines on Breast Cancer Screening; Obama in Beijing; Fort Hood Suspect Was on Mission to Marry; New Mammogram Guidelines; Surprise! You May Owe Taxes; Palin Vs. Oprah

Aired November 17, 2009 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING on this Tuesday, November 17th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans in for John Roberts.

CHETRY: Good to have you with us this morning.

ROMANS: Nice to be here. Let's get right to the top stories this morning we'll tell you in about the next 15 minutes.

A major medical reversal and new mammogram guidelines. A government panel says most women under 50 no longer need to be screened for breast cancer. The recommendation is causing concern in the medical community, and many people are wondering if we're heading down a path where saving money trumps saving lives.

CHETRY: We'll have much more on that today. Also, President Obama tending to one of America's most complicated and critical relationships, China. This morning, the president is in Beijing but amid all the meetings, can the president count on the Chinese to help with Iran, with North Korea, with the environment and the economy? We're live in Beijing.

ROMANS: And new developments in the Fort Hood shooting. The Army launching an internal investigation. Could they have stopped Nidal Hasan? Plus, a glimpse into the alleged gunman's personal life. Was his failed quest for a wife behind the rampage?

CHETRY: And we begin this morning, though, with a major medical reversal that will affect millions of American women. A government task force is now changing the guidelines for breast cancer screening.

Now for years, women over 40 were told to get a mammogram each and every year because early detection saves lives. Well, now this group of experts is saying that they're not necessarily effective, that they lead to, in some cases, unnecessary biopsies and anxiety. So now women are being told to wait until they're 50 to start getting screened, and it's leaving many scratching their heads this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hold your breath for me. Don't breathe or move. CHETRY (voice-over): The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is made up of 16 health care experts. Their recommendations influence coverage of screening tests by Medicare and many insurance companies. Here's what they said.

Women in their 40s, no more routine mammograms. The task force previously recommended screenings every year or two. And for women 50 and over, the new guidelines call for mammograms every other year instead of once a year. As for self-exams, the government says they don't help and most women can stop doing them. The group points to false positives, anxiety, and unnecessary biopsies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Race for the Cure now officially begins.

CHETRY: The new guidelines already being rejected by Susan G. Komen for the cure. It's the world's largest grassroots breast cancer network.

JENNIFER LURAY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SUSAN G. KOMEN FOR THE CURE: Komen is sticking with our guidelines and our recommendations, which is that women ages 40 and above should continue to get an annual mammogram.

CHETRY: Dr. Freya Schnabel is director of breast surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. She says the new guidelines simply don't apply to some women.

DR. FREYA SCHNABEL, DIRECTOR OF BREAST SURGERY, NYU LANGONE MED. CTR: Because the recommendations from the task force are not directed at high-risk women. So number one, anybody with family history or high risk conditions should not really think that these guidelines apply to them and that's an important consideration.

CHETRY: Also questioning the new guidelines, the American Cancer Society. They issued this statement -- "With its new recommendations, the task force is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 saves lives, just not enough of them."

But there are some numbers no one can question. In 2005, more than 186,000 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with breast cancer. More than 41,000 died.


CHETRY: There you go. And another statistic to consider, about 15 percent of women in their 40s who are diagnosed with breast cancer detected the disease with a mammogram. So, now it has many health care experts concerned about the task force's new guidelines and whether or not women who go for mammograms will be told by their insurance companies that it's not covered. They fear that perhaps these recommendations will be embraced by Medicare and other insurance companies as an opportunity to stop paying for these screenings.

So a lot to talk about on this issue. Everyone knows someone touched by breast cancer in some way. In about 10 minutes, we'll be joined by our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's going to be breaking down the new mammogram guidelines for us to help clear up the confusion and he's going to be joined by Dr. Freya Schnabel. She's the director of breast cancer surgery. We just saw her in that piece at NYU's Langone Medical Center.

ROMANS: Another big story we're following right now, President Obama is in Beijing trying to win help from China's president in addressing some of the world's biggest and thorniest issues. Among them, Iran, a place China is heavily invested. At a news conference last night, the president said Beijing has agreed that Iran must show its disputed nuclear program is peaceful.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We agreed that the Islamic Republic of Iran must provide assurances to the international community that its nuclear program is peaceful and transparent. On this point, our two nations and the rest of our P5 plus one partners are unified. Iran has an opportunity to present and demonstrate its peaceful intentions, but if it fails to take this opportunity there will be consequences.


ROMANS: This morning, we're traveling with the president. Our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry is live in Beijing.

And, Ed, Iran, one of the thornier issues for the White House coming into this trip. Are aides to the president now satisfied with the Chinese response?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say they are. Christine, good morning. Because they got the Chinese President Hu Jintao at this meeting was basically saying that he wants to have negotiations to try and stop Iran's nuclear program.

But the fact of the matter is, that's far short of what the White House really wants, which is they wanted an endorsement from the Chinese president for potentially new sanctions against Iran. We did not get anything close to that from the Chinese president because of those, in part, those investments that they have in Iran that you mentioned.

I think what the White House feels even better about, though, is the fact that the Chinese president was talking about cooperation in stopping North Korea's nuclear program and getting those Six-party talks restarted which had been on hold for a long time. That's important because in a couple of days the president is going to be in South Korea, the final stop on this long Asian journey, Christine.

ROMANS: And what about the issue of human rights. How hard is the president pushing on this issue? The Chinese have been criticized for their record. Did the president address it at all during his meetings overnight?

HENRY: He did. It was interesting because you'll remember just a few weeks ago, on one key issue, the president pointedly decided not to meet with the Dalai Lama when he was in Washington a few weeks back. That upset a lot of human rights activists. The president then didn't want to maybe upset the Chinese leadership on the eve of this big visit.

But today, in public the president called on the Chinese government to start opening a dialogue with the Dalai Lama's representatives, the Tibetan spiritual leader, and that is key. He did that in public directly to the Chinese president, and that is going to make human rights activists feel that this president did stand up to the Chinese president on that issue -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Ed Henry in China. Thanks so much, Ed.

CHETRY: There are also some new developments in the deadly Fort Hood shooting. Reports out this morning say that the Army is now forming a panel to look at whether or not it missed signs the alleged gunman, Nidal Hasan, could be a threat to his fellow soldiers.

Meantime, CNN is getting a new glimpse into Hasan's personal life, including his apparent quest to find a wife and also the late night outings that clashed with his religious beliefs. Brian Todd is working that part of the story for us this morning.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran and Christine. We found another clue left by Nidal Hasan. It's consistent with his efforts to find a partner but not with some of his other behavior.


TODD (voice-over): Imam Yahya Hendi spends most of his professional time as the Muslim chaplin at Georgetown University, but he also conducts services at Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington. He says he encountered Nidal Hasan there and that Hasan asked him for help in finding a wife. The third imam we found who Hasan approached for that.

IMAM YAHYA HENDI, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: He said that he wanted someone to help him serve, deploy, and be understandable and understanding of his own military career. He wanted -- he saw himself as someone continuing his service with the U.S. military until the end of his career.

TODD: And so that didn't work out either? He just couldn't find someone with that balance?

HENDI: Well, it's not easy to find, in general, someone who will be willing to travel with you and deploy with you every few years. But he did want a wife who will stand by him, is loyal American who will help him do his work and his service for the U.S. military.

TODD: While he was a devout Muslim, CNN has also learned Hasan frequented this strip club near Fort Hood in the weeks leading up to the shootings. Hendi says that runs counter to Islam too.

HENDI: For me, everything that he did is against the teachings of Islam. Killing fellow soldiers, fellow citizen men and women, the shooting, the bloodshed, it speaks of someone who did not understand his faith very well. Islam is against going to strip clubs, but it's also against killing fellow citizens.

TODD: Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder at Fort Hood. He's not pled to the charges. CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen says that with this defense of suicide bombings, the giving away of his possessions and the way he dressed, Nidal Hasan seemed to be preparing for his own death.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I think what he was doing was sort of a jihadist death by cop. Here's a guy who, obviously, had personal problems. He's alone or avoids women, basically, has few friends, and then on to that, he finds sort of jihadist ideology as a way of sort of making sense of everything and he decides to martyr himself.


TODD: Bergen and other experts say Hasan could be someone who engaged in what they call self-radicalization, the idea that militant religion might provide an answer to psychological problems that someone already has.

Kiran and Christine, back to you.

CHETRY: Brian Todd for us, thanks.

ROMANS: Also new this morning, you're twice as likely to die in the E.R. if you're severely injured and don't have health insurance. That's what a new study out of Harvard is saying. They say there's no clear reason why since emergency room care is supposed to be equal. Researchers say it could be because many uninsured patients have trouble communicating with doctors or that hospitals that treat many of the uninsured simply have fewer resources.

CHETRY: Well, more Americans are going hungry and that includes more children. A new Department of Agriculture report says nearly one in six households had trouble putting food on the table in 2008. That's almost 15 percent of the population and it is the highest number since the government started tracking this 14 years ago. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warns that the economic slow down could send the numbers even higher this year.

ROMANS: And the double burg has gotten Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams a quarter million dollar fine from the National Football League. The 86-year-old owner was spotted making a couple of obscene gestures toward the Buffalo Bills as he celebrated Sunday's win. Commissioner Roger Goodell was at the game, even had breakfast with him earlier. Adams issued an apology, saying he simply got caught up in the moment.

CHETRY: So how much would he have gotten fined if he only did a single bird? I guess it's like the double bird.

ROMANS: Yes, a double bird. Eighty-six years old, caught up in the moment.

CHETRY: There you go. Hey, hey, hey, kids are watching.

Still ahead, we're going to be talking more about these new mammogram guidelines. This government task force coming out saying wait a minute, if you're in your 40s, you don't need a mammogram. But does this apply to everybody, and is saving money over saving lives?

ROMANS: And Sarah Palin, she's on "Oprah." She's going to be with Barbara Walters in a few days. Her book is out today. What more do we know about Sarah Palin and what is this media blitz about? Is it about selling books or is it about remaking her image? We'll have that as well.


CHETRY: It's 13 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

There's a lot of confusion this morning and perhaps even some anger over a controversial new recommendation when it comes to breast cancer screening. A government health panel says that women in their 40s should actually stop getting annual mammograms and that women 50 and older should cut back to one exam every other year, as opposed to every year. They also are recommending that doctors stop teaching women to do self-breast exams.

I'm joined now by Dr. Freya Schnabel. She's the director of breast surgery at New York University's Langone Medical Center. Thanks for being with us this morning.

And also with us from Atlanta is our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, thanks for being here as well.


CHETRY: So, let me start with Dr. Schnabel. This new recommendations have thrown some for a loop. I mean, there's really shock yesterday when these came out. What is your take on what this advisory board was trying to say when it comes to screening for breast cancer?

SCHNABEL: I think in summary the advisory panel found that you could derive about 81 percent of the benefit of screening mammography by changing from doing mammograms annually to doing them every other year, so that's 81 percent of the benefit for 50 percent of the mammography and they felt that that tradeoff may be something that would be appropriate to undertake.

CHETRY: But for someone in your practice, and you do breast surgeries all the time and you see people who have I guess been luckier, their lives have been saved because of early detection, does this give you pause?

SCHNABEL: I think it does. Over the last several decades, we've really made an enormous amount of progress in reducing the death rate from breast cancer rate in America. Some of that is due to better treatment methods, but a lot of it is due to early detection and we don't want to lose what we've gained over these past number of years by reducing the amount of screening that we're doing.

CHETRY: And, Sanjay, one of the things that this task force has pointed to is they say overtreatment, false positives, unnecessary biopsies as reasons to scale back on the screening. But the American Cancer Society itself is still recommending mammograms every year or every two years for women over 40.

So you -- you got two different, you know, areas of advice, two different recommendations, what should women who are at home wondering what their best course of action -- what should they do?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is confusing and you're sort of seeing that friction that sometimes occurs in medicine between public health decisions and individual decisions. As the doctor mentioned there, you know, you have individual sort of issues that say, you know, this could potentially save lives and the American Cancer Society says, you know, this task force is conceding that mammograms can save lives, but just not enough of them.

Think about that for a second. That's quite a statement to make. If you -- if you look at all the women out there right now who have breast cancer, about 15 percent of them were caught because of mammograms. So, what do you say to those women or any other women whose cancers would be caught by this sort of screening test?

I think most doctors, at least in their hearts and eyes, are not going to change their screening recommendations. They're probably still going to recommend screening around the age of 40.

CHETRY: But the strange thing is -- and this is what's scaring people -- is that it may not be covered and so if you can't afford it yourself, are you going to, you know, think twice and make a medical decision based on your pocketbook as opposed to your health?

SCHNABEL: Unfortunately, I think that that is likely to happen and I think at this point, we're seeing a lot of change in terms of the way that we look at all of the different expenses we have in medicine today, and I think it is possible that this is going to discourage women from being screened.

CHETRY: Is it also going to be a way that insurance companies say we're not going to cover this, Medicare doesn't have to cover this. These are the new recommendations and so if you're trying to get -- get one a decade before the new recommendations we're not going to pay for it?

SCHNABEL: I think that's quite likely. This is a pretty eminent group of people who put together this information and I think that the insurance companies will be able to use this as support for reducing the coverage for screening, especially for younger women.

CHETRY: Sanjay, you mentioned something interesting. You said about 15 percent of breast cancers are caught because of mammography, and we have some of the numbers here about the -- from 2002 to 2006, the varying age groups. Between 35 and 44 years of age, 10 percent of people were diagnosed with breast cancer. You had 22.5 percent between 45 and 54, and so these are areas where --

What would happen then for these people? I mean, would they just -- and self-exams, also not being recommended. So where -- what happens for these people that were diagnosed in times before these new mammogram recommendations come out in terms of age groups?

GUPTA: Well, that's a really good point, Kiran, and it's hard to say for sure. When we talked to the task force people and asked them specifically about this, they say look, you know, we know mammograms are appropriate in certain situations, but we're -- we're advising against routine mammography. Now, what they're saying instead is that patients should be counseled on the risks and benefits of the test before getting the test.

So, the risks potentially being that they may have anxiety, they may have worry, they may get biopsies that were not needed versus the benefits which is exactly what you're saying, they catch cancer early.

Again, this is sort of the friction between public health and individual health sort of concerns. But I think overall, you know, we're reporting this yesterday, talking to lots of doctors about this, is that most doctors probably are not going to change their screening recommendations.

We did talk to the AHIP organization as well, which is a trade organization representing insurance companies and they say for the time being at least, they're not going to change their policies, at least on -- on how insurance covers these sorts of mammograms, but I think you're absolutely right. In the long term, it could change as a result of all this.

CHETRY: All right. Well, thanks to both of you for your expertise this morning, Dr. Schnabel as well as Dr. Gupta. We appreciate it. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Kiran.

In an online world, is privacy dead? Why you should think twice before you post those pictures or tweet what you're doing. That's next.


ROMANS: What's that old phrase, the only thing certain in life is death and taxes? Right.

Stephanie Elam, "Minding Your" -- and "Minding Your Business." Right. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

We deployed all of this money into the economy to try to rescue us from the brink. Part of that was the making work pay tax credit. Big tax credits for a lot of people and now we have found -- what? STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that some people may have gotten too much of a credit and that mean that they could be paying it back. Well, actually (ph) no one wants to hear this, but you have think back to February when the sky is falling. The sky is falling and the people were just like we need to figure it out, get money out there.

So, this is what's going on here. What you're seeing is an estimated 15.4 million people who are filing their taxes may actually have gotten too much of the making work tax credit, and that means that, according to this Treasury Department Inspector General report, that they could get less of a refund come tax time in April or that they could actually owe, and no one wants to hear that at all.

Now, who's vulnerable here? We're talking about working teens who maybe claimed as dependents. You've also got people with more than one job, and married folks who both work and then also some retirees are also going to get hit with this as well.

Now, credit is being paid in advance incrementally for most who's qualified, and the way that that was happening is that a lot of the employers were going ahead and adjusting the taxpayers' withheld money automatically, but the problem is they don't know if you've got two jobs. They don't know if you've got a child. They don't know if your spouse is working. So, a lot of people were getting too much of the credit and so that would become a problem.

Now, I just have to say that the IRS says that this number is highly overestimated, that some people adjusted their withholdings right away, but this is going to affect a lot of people is what this...

ROMANS: And you may not even know it because you were getting just, like $10 or $15 a paycheck, you know, a little bit of the tax credit. You might not even know if you're one of those people.

ELAM: And really, for a lot of people, this is really just up to $400 per person or $800 per couple and it goes down based on how much money you make. So, this does not apply to everybody. This was something just to get money out to people so that they could start spending.

Remember, consumer spending's two-thirds of the economy, so they wanted to get the people out there spending again. So obviously people need to really pay attention and take a look at this because it could still be in effect in 2010 and you don't want to have that happen to you twice.

CHETRY: No, you don't. All right. Stephanie Elam for us. Thanks so much.

Well, I don't know if you happened to see this, 4:00 Eastern yesterday, it was Sarah Palin and Oprah. Very interesting. Yes, a very interesting sit-down interview, and we are going to have Carol Costello join us. She sat down with Libertarians, Independents, Democrats and Republican women and said, hey, what did you think? They scored the show.

Twenty-four minutes past the hour.



CONAN O'BRIEN, NBC TALK SHOW HOST: The other day, Sarah Palin said she'd like to have coffee with Hillary Clinton. Now Hillary is saying, she looks forward to it.

Now, the two have agreed to meet at the Never Will Be President Cafe.


ROMANS: All right. She's good business for late night TV and for the bookstores. Sarah Palin's new book "Going Rogue" is out today. It's already a bestseller. Now she's a member of the ultimate book club, of course. She's been on Oprah Book Club (ph).

CHETRY: That's right! And so some people are saying, wait, did the interview deliver? How did it play out? How did it play to American women especially?

Well, Palin is trying to sell books. Some say she's trying to settle some scores, or is she trying to sort of position herself for the top of the ticket, despite what Conan says, in 2012?

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: Well, our Carol Costello watched the big show with a group of women that -- that Palin will certainly have to win over if she decides to run. And Carol's here in the flesh this morning. Hi, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am here in the flesh in New York City. I sat down with very -- four very sharp women, and you know what they thought of the interview? Boring!

CHETRY: They thought it was boring?

COSTELLO: They thought it was boring. I talked to these four women, a Republican, a Libertarian, a Conservative and an Independent to watch Palin versus Oprah. We chose not to talk to a Democrat because Sarah Palin doesn't seem to be trying to win over Democrats, and, let's face it, we know what Democrats think of Sarah Palin.

Our panel, though, sans Democrat, didn't know what to expect and when "The Oprah Show" was over, everybody wanted way more than what they got.


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?


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: I told you these were sharp women. All of these women like some aspect of Sarah Palin, but they fear, the longer she sells her celebrity instead of substantive politics, people will eventually stop listening, and if she has any plans to run in 2012 for president, people want to -- people want to know her politics. They don't really care about her family, at least these women. That's what these women want to hear.

CHETRY: Right. So it's very, very interesting. I mean, she had a few of those moments and Oprah was asking her about that situation and said, wait, doesn't it -- you were sort of talking about whether or not you want -- you had a choice. Christine and I were talking about how that kind of made her look good. I thought it was...


ROMANS: About her baby Trig, right?

CHETRY: Yes, about the fact that she said, that like everybody else, I wrestled with a very heart-wrenching decision and in the end decided this. I mean, you know, but she was panned for saying that, it was very interesting.

COSTELLO: Well, that did resonate with these women. The other thing that resonated with them is Oprah kept asking Sarah Palin whether having five children would affect, you know, her holding high political office.

All four women were kind of peeved by that question. You're still asking that question. Let's move on. Can we not?

CHETRY: Right. Because they wouldn't ask it for a male candidate.

COSTELLO: Exactly. Plus, it's the same...


ROMANS: You'll never hear that question for a male candidate. How many children do you have and does that mean you're going to be distracted from the campaign or from leadership?

COSTELLO: Exactly. Three of the women said, well, she has a husband, where is he? So, you know, I think the biggest point that these women were trying to make: you know, it's time to move on from these same old tired questions and ask something new. And we'll see if Barbara Walters asks something new, and whoever else is interviewing her down the pipe because she's going to be talking a lot.

CHETRY: Yes. And you said that, in the end, all the women put their differences aside and decided to go out together.

COSTELLO: We're going to party.

CHETRY: How about it? All right, Carol Costello, thank you.


CHETRY: Right now, it's 32 minutes past the hour. We check our top stories.

President Obama is promising consequences if Iran fails to demonstrate its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes. He made the remarks while speaking in China. Later today, the president is also going to be holding talks with China's premier and also do some sight-seeing before heading to South Korea. And that's going to be his last stop on his four-country tour of Asia.

ROMANS: Some grim news from the U.S. Postal Service. The agency is reporting a net loss of $3.8 billion during its 2009 fiscal year, $1 billion more than it lost last year, and that's despite $10 billion in cost-cutting measures. Total mail volume continuing to decline, dropping by 25 million pieces or about 13 percent this year. To further cut costs, the postmaster general is considering a reduction in mail delivery to five days a week.

CHETRY: And some scary numbers for parents out there, half of all 16- and 17-year-olds who own a cell phone say they've used it behind the wheel while driving. More than a quarter of those admit to texting while driving. Boys and girls are equally likely according to this study to text while driving, and those numbers are courtesy of a Pew Research Center's Internet in American Life Project.

ROMANS: So, a lot of us have our cyber-life and our real life, but the line between them starting to blur. We tweet where we are, what we're doing, we blog personal pictures, we post them, we blog about politics, movies, sports. With each click, are we really giving away our privacy, bit by bit?

Our Jeanne Meserve talked to some people who learned the hard way, that once something is online, it's up for grabs.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Dick Hardt put photos of his Hawaiian wedding on Facebook to share with close friends, but when he made mention of it on Twitter, he didn't know a link would be attached, giving more than 3,000 followers access to some rather intimate images.

DICK HARDT, INTIMATE PHOTOS SHARED ONLINE: We didn't think they were offensive in any way, but my wife didn't prefer for everybody to see those photos.

MESERVE: While his case was embarrassing, others are downright dangerous.

Sarah Downey was horrified when a picture of her young daughter was hijacked from her Flickr account and used in a sexually-suggestive Portuguese language profile on, a social networking site.

SARAH DOWNEY, ONLINE IMAGES OF HER DAUGHTER STOLEN: It broke my heart. It broke my heart.

MESERVE: Downey posted a translation to warn other Flickr users, but then she says, total strangers exploited the Internet to find her phone number and worse, her home address.

DOWNEY: We would go to the grocery store and I'd wonder, has this person seen my daughter? Are they here, you know, trying to find us? Trying to, you know, get close with my daughter?

MESERVE: Since then, Downey has tried to protect her private information. Has it worked? With her permission, we gave her name to Steven Rambam, a private investigator who harvests information from the Internet. In less than 90 seconds, he turns up 100 pages of possible links.

STEVEN RAMBAM, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Frankly, anything you want to know about this young lady, seems to be available on the Web.

MESERVE: On sites like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, more and more Americans are making their private information public. Put it together with public documents like newspaper accounts and property records and a portrait emerges. Take Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, using free publicly available information on the Internet, a Fordham University law school class came up with 15 pages of information, including Scalia's home address and phone number, even the movies and foods he likes.

PROF. JOEL REIDENBERG, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: If we were willing to spend $100 for the project, we would have been able to acquire far more intrusive, far scarier information.

MESERVE: Private investigator Rambam says any time you hit the "send" button, your information is no longer your own. He says your frequent flier program, movie account, book purchases, even some searches can be tracked, stored and sometimes sold.

RAMBAM: I have a window into your soul. I know what you believe. I know what you think. I know who your family is. I know who your friends are. I know your politics.

MESERVE (on camera): says it has updated its policies and tools to find and remove fake profiles like the one of Sarah Downey's daughter. And Google says it gives customers the tools they need to protect their personal information. Many of us could be more careful.

In addition, some privacy experts would like to see standardized and simplified Web site privacy policies or even government restrictions on secondhand use of private information.

(voice-over): Steven Rambam sees a lot of positives to having so much information on the Internet and says the genie is already out of the bottle.

RAMBAM: Ten years from now you're going to have a choice of getting used to minimal privacy or sub-leasing the Unabomber's cabin. That's going to be your two choices. The fact of the matter is, there's nowhere to hide.

MESERVE: As Rambam puts it, privacy is dead. Get over it.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


ROMANS: Wow. Unabomber's cabin, lease the Unabomber's cabin if you don't think that the world is going to know all your business.

CHETRY: This isn't the case for Shutterfly, is it?

ROMANS: I don't know.

CHETRY: Old photos, all of those. You know, you think you're just -- you know, you're putting them on there...

ROMANS: There's just so much information out there. I mean, think of your financial information. It lives in like 4,000 different places, you know? Your Social Security number, your bank accounts, your insurance coverage, everything.

CHETRY: It's ironic. Banks know your credit score, you don't necessarily, right?

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: Still ahead, drug makers are promising to help the government try to keep down drug costs to make health care more afford be. So, why now are prescription costs skyrocketing? Alina Cho joins us with more on this.

Thirty-seven minutes past the hour.



ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

When it comes to health care reform, Democrats and Republicans simply don't agree on very much. But one thing they agree on is making a new system more affordable.

CHETRY: That's right. How to go about it, that's a whole other story.

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: But meanwhile, Americans are waiting for Washington's health care overhaul. Prescription drug prices, though, are now rising faster than they have in years, and it's calling into question the drug industry's promised partnership on reform.

Our Alina Cho is here "Minding Your Business" with her A.M. original reporting this morning.

You know, we've seen the prices slowly tick up at a time when they said that perhaps they were going to bring the costs down.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. At a time when we're looking at the worst recession in decades, right?

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: So, a lot of people are noticing it, guys. You know, may have heard that drug makers have struck a deal with the White House and Congress on health care reform. You know, they've agreed to cut $80 billion over 10 years from the nation's drug bill. That's $8 billion a year.

All of that sounds really good, but what many people don't know is while everyone is talking about lowering costs, prescription drug prices are skyrocketing.


CHO (voice-over): At this pharmacy in New York City, the rising costs of prescription drugs is forcing some folks to make tough choices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you have the choice between paying your rent or getting your medications, the choice is obvious -- you're going to pay for your shelter first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to make choices. I have to pick and choose, you know, things that I have to do without to get this medication.

CHO: The nation is in the worst recession in decades, but as Americans have less money to spend, brand name drug prices are up -- way up.

DR. SIDNEY WOLFFE, PUBLIC CITIZEN: There's no question that the public has been bamboozled, the White House has been bamboozled and the U.S. Congress has been bamboozled by this ever successful industry.

CHO: According to a new study for the AARP, the cost of brand name prescription drugs is up more than 9 percent, adding on average $200 a year to the price of a once-daily pill. And the jump comes just as the drug industry is promising to shave $80 billion in drug costs over 10 years.

PROF. STEPHEN SCHONDELMEYER, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Just a 10 percent increase this year may amount to $20 billion to $25 billion increase in drug spend -- that kind of overwhelms an $8 billion a year savings.

CHO: Consumer advocates say they've seen it all before, higher prices every time the government is about to initiate major change.

WOLFE: We see how ghoulish this industry is and it's almost taunting everyone, as long as you're not going to control our prices, we're going to raise them as much as we want.

CHO: PhRMA, the leading drug industry lobby, would not go on camera but issued a statement, calling the argument tying drug price increases to health care reform "a flawed assumption," and adding, "price increases are the natural result of market forces, and, unfortunately, medicines are always looked at as a cost and never seen as a savings."


CHO: Now, some patients are able to take generic drugs. And we should tell you the price of generics has gone down almost 9 percent, according to the study. But it's also important to note that not every patient can be treated with generics. In fact, brand name drugs, guys, account for nearly 80 percent of all prescription drug spending.

So, when you look at price hikes, you know, this affects the vast majority of Americans.

Now, critics will say, you know, there is a pattern here. Every time people start to talk about health care reform, if there's any inkling that change may be on the horizon, you will see a hike in drug -- prescription drug prices. While, you know, the other side will say -- you know, the drug industry will say, that these price controls, they're built in, that, you know, the prices go up about once a year. This is a regular thing.

So, you know, it's a he said/she said.


CHETRY: Yes. It sounds like oil speculators, too, right?

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: The talk of whether or not something's going to change.


ROMANS: My cardiologist this week, he was saying that there are so many new and powerful medicines. They are so much cheaper to give these medicines than it is to have, like, an invasive treatment, that they're such -- they're an investment in some cases.

CHETRY: That's right.

ROMANS: That we don't look at them as an investment. We think we're supposed to all be able to have cheap drugs, but, you know, the fact of matter is, all of America can't have cheap drugs.

CHO: And as I've said, you know, the drug industry, you know, points out that, you know, a lot of people talk about drugs as being a cost not as a savings.

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: They're quick to point out that, yes, you know, if you use medicines, that can result in reduced hospitalization, increased productivity because you're managing diseases more properly.

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: So, you know, there is an argument to be made. But when you're talking about the worst recession in decades, people are having to choose between rent and their medicines...

ROMANS: Food and medicine.

CHO: ... that's something that people are talking about.


CHETRY: Well, Alina, thank you.

CHO: You bet.

ROMANS: OK. Snow and high winds in the forecast? Is it going to throw a wrench into your travel plans? We're going to check that out with Rob Marciano -- next.


CHETRY: Smile like you mean it. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. There's a live look this morning of Boston, courtesy of WCVB. It looks like a pretty day there, little chillier, though. We felt a little bit of cold snap move in.

And Rob is going to give us more details on that. Meanwhile, 49 minutes past the hour right now. It's time to fast-forward through the stories that you'll be hearing about today on CNN.

We may get the magic numbers that Washington has been waiting for. Once the Congressional Budget Office estimate on the price of the health care bill is released, the senate can then vote on whether to begin debating that bill.

At 2:30 Eastern, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is going to be needing to discuss the shortage of H1N1 vaccine. The committee will also consider where this vaccine is needed the most.

Also the sell-off of Bernard Madoff's prized possessions continues at 4:00 Eastern. His fleet goes on the auction block. He has a vintage 55 foot yacht, two smaller boats and a Mercedes follow up for grabs, and the proceeds of the sale, as we know, will go to Madoff's many fraud victims, so he sold the Montauk.

ROMANS: Yes. That was sold for more than the asking price.

CHETRY: There you go. His Rolex sold for less.

ROMANS: Yes, and the Madoff's Mets jacket, brought in I think $14,000 or something, but what I love about the boats is that they're called bull. He loved to call them bull. If you're bullish or optimistic about the economy, but it turned out that bullish add a T and you have what Bernie Madoff was really all about. First the letters around a little bit. It's more like, you know, I'm not going to say the word on TV.


CHETRY: Thank goodness. Rob Marciano will. No, I'm kidding. Hey, Rob, how's the weather?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good. I'm just doing a little bit of Scrabble and the Wheel of Fortune in my head.

ROMANS: There you go. (LAUGHING)

MARCIANO: Thanks to Christine there. I'm not a big buyer of boats. You know, best way to enjoy a boat is through your friend who happens to own one, so I won't be participating in that auction.

Hey guys, listen, pretty big storm happening across parts of the mid-section of the country; although, it's beginning to wind down here. What's going on the East Coast? Are you going to see a part of this? Because you know everything moves from West to East, pretty big area of high pressure right there, so I think it's going to win the battle, and this thing is going to wind down and maybe Peter out just a little bit, but it's done some damage as far as heavy rain across parts of the mid-Mississippi River Valley and the West side of this, also seeing a fair amount of snow.

Check out some of the snow that pictures coming out of Kansas. Snow totals anywhere from 3 to 12 inches across parts of Central Kansas with this particular storm. A heavy wet snow, so that creates some problems this time of year, especially in some cases where the leaves are still on the trees, so that caused a little bit in the way of power outages.

Speaking of power outages, let's talk about wind gusts out West, 95-mile-an-hour wind gust in Newport, Oregon. That is beyond hurricane strength, my friends, Garibaldi 89 mile-an-hour wind gust, Pacific City 82, Tillmach 82, and Newport, Oregon seeing 77 mile-an- hour wind gust. Seeing heavy rain in mountain snow here. There were sporadic power outages but generally speaking not all that bad, but certainly the worst windstorm of the season. High temperature today 62 in Dallas, will be 56 degrees. It's been looking fall day for you folks up there in New York. Christine back up to you.

ROMANS: We'll take it, Rob. We will take a good looking fall day in New York.

And when we tell you big story coming up here, we're talking about this new mammogram recommendations. The government task force, women in their 40s told that they don't need screening. A lot of people talking about this morning, what do you need? Are too many mammograms not a good idea? Saving money over saving lives?

CHETRY: Yes, we're going to be talking much more about that. Also, we continue with our series, "Patriots or Extremists?" We've been talking about a growing trend, more militias cropping up since President Obama took office. We are going to meet a militia leader who has his whole family involved including his 13-year-old daughter.

He says they're like Lee and Kate plus eight plus a gun rank. Why though, we're going to talk about it with Jim Acosta. He'll join us in a moment.


ROMANS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Sarah Palin's back on America's radar screen, if she ever really left. Her new book "Going Rogue" lands in bookstores today, but the media blitz surrounding the release already in full swing, and our Jeanne Moos is giving America's love affair with Palin a new spin.

CHETRY: Still ahead, new mammogram recommendations from the government task force. They're saying now that women in there 40s don't need yearly screenings. Now, there are so many asking the question, since we know that mammogram screenings have been able to save lives, is it more about saving money? We're back in 90 seconds.