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Toyota Addresses Power Steering Complaints; Genetic Analysis of King Tut; Palin Responds to "Family Guy" Dig; Experts Simulate Cyber Attack on U.S.; Staging Cyber Attacks Drills; Watch Out for Tax Audits; Tracking Guns That Go Missing; Taliban's No. 2 Captured; Stimulus in Paradise

Aired February 17, 2010 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to American Morning on this Wednesday, February 17th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks for being with us. Here are the big stories we'll be telling you about coming up in the next 15 minutes.

Toyota admitting another issue overnight. The company says it's now investigating a possible problem with the Corolla's power steering. The Corolla, of course, the best selling car in the world. We're live in Tokyo where Toyota's president again faced the media this morning.

CHETRY: Also, a mystery for the ages now solved. Scientists say they believe they know what killed King Tut. A new study using the latest in genetic technology revealing new details about how Egypt's most famous pharaoh lived and died.

ROBERTS: Plus, cell phone service nationwide out. Internet access completely gone, and the lights shut off. Some of the best security minds in the country wage a fake cyber war to try to answer one question. Is America ready for the threat? CNN was there to see what happened. We're going to take you live to Washington for some answers.

CHETRY: We begin this morning, though, with more possible problems for Toyota. The company held another news conference in Tokyo overnight announcing it's investigating a possible problem with the Corolla's power steering.

This comes on top of the 8.5 million cars recalled already. The company says it's making progress with the so called sticky gas pedal problem. As of this morning, more than 20 percent of the repairs are done. Kyung Lah has all the highlights live for us this morning from Tokyo.

And tell us a little bit about this newest trouble with the Corolla.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's talk about the Corolla first, Kiran, because there are a lot of people with Corollas in their garage. It also the world's number one selling vehicle. According to Toyota, they have about 100 or less complaints with the power steering. It feels like you have some loss of control with the steering. Toyota though saying right now they are not issuing a recall. They are looking at each of those complaints and investigating them thoroughly, but right now, no recall.

Toyota though did detail some companywide changes that it will be making. Technologically, Toyota says that in all future models it will be putting in something called a brake override system. And what this is that if you lose control of your vehicle as far as the acceleration, and you hit the gas and the brake at the same time, it kills the engine.

Toyota also is saying that they will be moving more of these so- called black boxes. So if there is an accident, engineers can just plug into the engine, plug into this black box, very similar to what we hear about on airplanes, and figure out exactly what led up to that crash.

Toyota also saying they are going to be looking more in to the electronic throttle control system. This is a response to all those questions about the sticky accelerator and is it connected to the electronics. Toyota is saying that they have hired a third party, independent party, and they will make that report public.

And Toyota says it will listen to its customers more. They'll put in the United States a person called a chief quality officer. This person's sole job, Kiren, will be to listen to customers about quality issues. Kiran?

CHETRY: And Kyung, we also learned this morning that the president of the company is not going to come to the United States to answer questions. Washington holding an inquiry in Congress into how the company hammed the original recalls. Do we know why he's choosing not to come?

LAH: He's saying that he feels that the executives in the United States are closest to the ground. They're the ones who know the system best in the United States and can best answer the questions.

But really what we heard in the press room in this news conference was a lot of as astonishment on the part of reporters. This question came up again and again and again, and he kept responding that the people in the United States, his executive there is, are the best ones. He'll stay here in Japan and try to deal with the quality issues. Kiran?

CHETRY: All right, Kyung Lah for us this morning in Tokyo. Thank you.

Also for an in-depth look at the Toyota recall, head to You can find out more about whether you're driving one of the 8.5 million recalled cars and what to do if you have some of the problems reported.

ROBERTS: Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is being accused this morning of treating the conservative tea party like an ugly date, good enough to take upstairs, but not good enough to be seen with in public. That analogy coming from Dana Milibank in today's "Washington Post."

After a closed can door meeting with tea party activist, Steele reportedly denied them the use of GOP headquarters for a press conference. They instead got the cold shoulder, literally, greeting the media outside in the 21 degree Washington air.


LISA MILLER, TEA PARTY WDC: It was congenial. Everybody wanted to figure out what kind of assets he could bring to the game. I wanted to return to commerce, charity, and the individual their rights and responsibilities.

And if his agenda or the people that he backs don't support that, I find that I'll put my energies like they will in an area where I think it will achieve the most good.


ROBERTS: Steele says he looks forward to more dialogue with tea party leaders as midterm elections approach.

Sarah Palin is no fan of FOX's the "Family Guy." She lashed out at the cartoon's creators after an episode featured one of the characters going on a date with a girl who has Down syndrome. So you know what we're talking about, here's the scene.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be this rude all evening? You haven't asked me anything about myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, sorry. So what do your parents do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's better. My dad is an accountant and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.


ROBERTS: In a post on Facebook, Palin called the episode "a kick in the gut." She then had her daughter Bristol respond. Bristol wrote, quote, "If the writers have a particularly pathetic cartoon show thought they were being clever in mocking my brother and my family yesterday, they failed. All they proved is that they are heartless jerks."

CHETRY: Well, also new this morning, how would you like to make more than $1 million dollars an hour? Of course you'd like it, right?

Well, according to a report by the nonpartisan center for responsive poll tick, lobbyists spent nearly $3.5 billion last year making pitches to Congress and various federal agencies and that amounts to roughly $1.3 million for every hour that lawmakers actually met in 2009. Good work if you can get it.

ROBERTS: A leak of nitrous oxide from a chemical plant in Pasadena producing a massive yellow and orange smoke cloud over the area. Have a look at that. The plant had to be shut down -- pretty obvious. The leak, which police described as very serious, was eventually contained.

No injuries were reported. Nearby residents though were told to stay indoors until the chemical cloud dissipated.

CHETRY: More news about the power of aspirin, new research saying that breast cancer survivors who take aspirin regularly may be less likely to die or have their cancer return.

The study was of more than 4,000 nurses, and they found that those who took aspirin had a 50 percent lower risk of ultimately dying from breast cancer and a 50 percent lower risk of the cancer spreading. We'll be talking about this more with Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an update on what seems to be an incredibly promising study this morning.

ROBERTS: And good news out of Haiti this morning. American Airlines plans to resume regular flight into and out of Haiti on Friday. They'll be the first commercial nights since the island was hit by that devastating earthquake more than a month ago.

CHETRY: A piece of Beatles history now up for sale. Abbey Road studios where the band recorded some of its most famous songs is being sold by EMI to help the record label pay down a $1.6 billion debt. The company hopes to raise tens of millions of dollars from the sale.

ROBERTS: And America has a new top dog this morning, a charming jet black Scottish terrier. Sadie pranced her way into the winner's circle after taking the Best in Show title at the Westminster dog show in New York City. Sadie came into the dog show a fan favorite having already won 111 Best in Show ribbons.

CHETRY: That's a lot of competitions. Busy girl.

It's seven minutes past the hour right now.


ROBERTS: A brand new study is giving us some amazing insights about Egypt's King Tut. The boy pharaoh has fascinated historians since his tomb was discovered back in 1922.

CHETRY: And our Atika Shubert reports on a breakthrough study that is revealing some surprising new details about ancient Egypt's most famous pharaoh.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a mystery for the ages. Who or what killed King Tutankhamen? Perhaps the most famous of the Egyptian pharaohs, Tutankhamen was just 19 when he died more than 3,000 years ago. His tomb, stuffed with treasures and artifacts, was discovered in 1922, and his mummy has been displayed around the world ever since.

But a series of radiographs in 1968 suggested that King Tut had suffer had broken leg and apparent head trauma shortly before his death. That led to a number of theories -- a fall from a chariot, septicemia from his broken leg, or possibly murder from a blow to the head.

But now archeologists have made a historic breakthrough, a genetic analysis of the mummy of King Tut and several other people members, a sort of archeological autopsy.

Murder they say is not likely. They found that the young pharaoh had several inherited disorders as well as signs of malaria at the time of his death.

They theorized that the fracture of his leg coupled with malaria led to a life-threatening condition. Murder mystery lovers may be disappointed, but archeologists are excited to use DNA analysis to explore a whole new side of history.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


ROBERTS: So a mystery somewhat resolved and yet deepened at the same time.

CHETRY: They also found out that his parents were actually siblings, as well, which was more common among the kings in Egypt back then.

ROBERTS: Which of course can weaken the immune system and give and you number of disorders. Interesting stuff.

CHETRY: It is. And a little bit later in the our we'll dig deeper in to this. Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us to shed some more light on what killed King Tut.

ROBERTS: It could be the biggest battle field of the 21st century. Is America ready for a major attack from cyberspace? Experts in Washington stage a worst case scenario drill to find out. We previewed this for you yesterday. We'll take through to tell you what they found.

CHETRY: We're also on the gun trail looking at a fight over a new law in the heart of NRA country. Is it meant to just make us feel better or will it really keep legal guns out of criminal hands? Ed Lavandera takes a look at both sides of the emotional debate.

It's 11 minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back. In Washington, security experts staged a mock cyber attack on the United States. Cell phone service, the internet, both gone, the power grid shut down, trading on Wall Street ground to a halt.

CHETRY: It was designed to be the worst case scenario drill to answer one question -- is America ready for a major cyber attack? Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is live in D.C. with today's security watch. So how did it go Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The answers were not comforting. The game was sponsored by the bipartisan Policy Center, and it simulated a massive cyber attack on the U.S. Former government and business leaders played the part of top officials. There was a fake news channel. The scenario was entirely fictional, but the issues could not be more real.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up to 20 million and counting of the nation's cell phones have stopped working so far today in what officials claim is the largest communications crisis in the cell phone era.

MESERVE: The reason, a cyber attack. As government officials convene, there is one overarching question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this an act of war, not a criminal act?

MESERVE: The infected smart phones show a video of the Red Army, raises speculation the Russians are behind the attack. Meanwhile the crisis expands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Identity theft and online financial fraud having increased dramatically.

MESERVE: Officials discuss the possibility of shutting down the infected smart phones, but government can't do it.

STEWART BAKER, ROLE IN DRILL, CYBER COORDINATOR: I'm actually shocked to hear that we don't have this authority. If this was someone with small pox wandering through the Super bowl, we would have the authority to quarantine them.

MESERVE: Can the military assist? What powers does the president have?

JAMIE GORELICK, ROLE IN DRILL, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are operating in a bet of a bit of unchartered territory, as you know.

MESERVE: The attack is traced to a server in Russia. If the U.S. shuts it down will the Russians see it as an act of war? And is Russia really behind the attack?

Then more grim news -- the Internet is infected, the power grid impacted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are also now receiving alarming reports of significant and growing power outages in major metropolitan areas in the eastern half of the United States.

MESERVE: There is discussion of nationalizing the power grid or mobilizing the National Guard to protect it.

BENNETT JOHNSTON, ROLE IN DRILL ENERGY SECRETARY: But keep in mind there are over 160,000 miles of transmission lines. You cannot guard every mile of that.

MESERVE: And the cyber attack goes on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in corporate boardrooms and I.T. centers across the country, our nation's leaders are wondering if their networks are really secure and if this crisis might indeed spread into their systems.


MESERVE: The questions raised by the exercise involve vulnerabilities, roles and responsibilities, legal authorities, private sector cooperation, public messaging, political fallout, military retaliation, defensive capabilities. The goal of the exercise was to put these issues on the table for discussion and perhaps resolution before there's a real and massive cyber attack.

John and Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: You know, Jeanne, yesterday we had Fran Townsend on. We had a little preview of this and she said that the government is woefully unprepared to deal with the cyber attack in the level that they were simulating yesterday. Did the government take away any message from this that we know about?

MESERVE: The government did not participate in this exercise. They run their own cyber exercises. They've done a couple. They're called cyber storm.

I talked to some administration officials yesterday who said the people who are participating in this exercise are people who've been out of government for a year or more. In fact, they claim that progress has been made on these issues since then. But some of the issues transcend government. This is about the private sector. This is about the public. No government plan has addressed all of them.

CHETRY: Wow. Very eye opening. Jeanne, thanks so much.

And Jeanne's report is just a taste of what happened during this drill. You can see a lot more over the weekend. There's a CNN special "We Were Warned, Cyber Shockwave." You can catch it Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. only on CNN.

ROBERTS: On the year anniversary of the stimulus package, we have tracked your tax dollars. Where do we track them to? Paradise basically. What are your tax dollars doing in the U.S. Virgin Islands? Jim Acosta will tell us in about 30 minutes' time.

CHETRY: Also, your 1040 exemptions, deductions. It's tax time and we're going to tell you how to avoid a dreaded audit. Gerri Willis will be here to break it down. She's "Minding Your Business" after the break.


CHETRY: Twenty minutes past the hour right now. Gerri Willis is here "Minding Your Business." And what we're talking today is getting ready for filing your taxes.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: You know, I hate to bring up this three letter word "tax," but I have to. OK.

Look, the revenue is coming. The administration is spending more money on enforcement on taxes. 1.4 million of us were audited last year. That was the most in a decade. And guess what? They're spending more money on this. $8.2 billion. That's a 10 percent increase from last year.

So who needs to be worried? Well, the self-employed are probably going to be in the crosshairs this year. If you were self-employed, you better do everything you can to prove that your business is more than just a hobby. You have to have excellent record keeping, maintain a separate banking account. You've got to make sure that you're actually making some money in this business and not just taking deductions against that business. That's critical.

Let's also talk about some red flags here for avoiding audits. If you have an overseas bank account -- remember that story about the 14,700 folks who came out of the woodwork during the UBS story?


WILLIS: Well, they want you to tell them if you have that overseas bank account because they're going to tax you on your interest income. You're obligated to report it if you have a foreign bank account with deposits of more than $10,000.

Also if you're selling stocks, this is critical. You've got to know what you originally purchased that stock at or what it was given to you for. You need to know that number. Call, it can't be something you make up.

You have to get receipts for large donations and we talk about this a lot. Charitable giving is one of those things that the IRS looks very closely at particularly if you're donating something other than money. One big red flag, if you donate a car. That's always one of those things that people dispute the value of a car or any other gifts like that.

Also, if you have higher earnings. Guess what? The more money you make, the more likely you are to be audited. You're 50 percent more likely to be audited if you earn $200,000 or more. So a lot of people out there who make a lot of money, you're going to have to really think about when you're trying to take travel, entertainment, anything as a deduction out there, you're going to have to be very careful this year. You know, there's a very good reason that the federal government is very serious about this. Last year was the lowest collections in terms of shared GDP in 55 years.

ROBERTS: Yes. Pretty terrible recession so...

WILLIS: A terrible recession and then the stimulus package, too. Those tax credits -- that's money that goes the other way.

CHETRY: Right.

WILLIS: It goes from the federal government into consumers' pockets. So all of that is reducing the take of the federal government. And they want their money and they're going to get it.

ROBERTS: And then there are those people who say well, if they rein in spending, they wouldn't need so much tax money.

WILLIS: That's right.

ROBERTS: All right. Gerri Willis for us this morning. Gerri, thanks.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: Turning point in the U.S.-led war against the Taliban. The terror group's top military leader is captured. We're going to talk about the significance of the arrest with two former CIA officers just ahead. Stay with us.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Twenty- five minutes past the hour right now. Your top stories five minutes away.

First, though, we have an "A.M. Original" for you. Something you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING.

Right now, there's a major fight going on at the local level over a new law that's intended to keep guns out of criminal hands. Critics though say it's just another case of legislating against the legal and responsible gun owners. Ed Lavandera is on the gun trail for us this morning.

It's a very emotional issue, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, Kiran. You know, we spent the last two mornings talking about how guns are illegally trafficked across the country and out of the country. I wanted to take a look this time at a possible solution. And so we to Pennsylvania where it is becoming a very controversial issue.


JANA FINDER, CEASEFIRE PA: So you get tired of hearing people complain.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Jana Finder says not enough is being done to keep illegally trafficked guns off Pennsylvania's streets. This might be the heart of northeastern gun country.

FINDER: To report their handguns when they're lost or stolen to the police.

LAVANDERA: But Finder, along with a group called Ceasefire PA has launched a grassroots campaign to get local governments to sign on to what's become a highly controversial law called "Lost and Stolen Ordinances." Supporters of gun rights hate it. The ordinances require gun owners to report if their weapons have been lost or stolen usually within 24 hours.

FINDER: There is very strong support for lost concerns because they have told us that this kind of requirement would give them another investigative tool to help crack down and reduce the numbers of illegal handguns in our streets.

LAVANDERA: Finder says these laws target the number one source of guns for criminals, people with clean records who buy guns then supply them to street criminals, the so-called straw purchasers.

(on camera): The battle over straw purchase ordinance is being waged across small towns all over Pennsylvania in city council chambers like this one here in Duquesne.

(voice-over): Duquesne's city council was one of the latest to get behind it. So far 25 Pennsylvania cities have adopted the ordinance.

MAYOR PHIL KRIVACEK, DUQUESNE, PENNSYLVANIA: I think that doing this gives us a chance of maybe to reduce violence in the city.

LAVANDERA: That maybe in the mayor's answer is what infuriates Kim Stolfer and his gun rights activist group called "Firearms Owners Against Crime.

KIM STOLFER, FIREARMS OWNERS AGAINST CRIME: To come up with an idea and adopt it based on, well, it might work, is ridiculous. We wouldn't get into an airplane that might fly. There is an awful lot of laws relating to firearms. The real problem here is that it's not illegal to lose a firearm. It's not illegal to have it stolen. But they want to prosecute you for being in that situation.

LAVANDERA: Supporters of the Lost and Stolen Ordinance say it's a way of keeping a tighter watch on guns that go missing.

Gun control advocates say images like these are playing out too often across Pennsylvania. Six law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty last year alone. This funeral honored Officer Michael Crenshaw who was murdered with an AK-47 in this neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh. Investigators say the suspect was wearing an ankle bracelet, a parolee on drug and gun charges.

So far more than a hundred police departments have come out in support of the Lost and Stolen Ordinances.

CHIEF HOWARD BURTON, PENN HILLS POLICE: Most of these ordinances that are being passed...

LAVANDERA: But not everyone in law enforcement thinks it's the answer. Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton says "lost or stolen" is just another feel good law that wouldn't have saved Officer Michael Crenshaw.

BURTON: We still have to realize we're dealing with a criminal element. No matter how many laws that are out there, there's still going to be broken.


LAVANDERA: So about a year ago is when this movement started gaining steam there in Pennsylvania. And as far as we've been able to put together, no one has been prosecuted or convicted of this Lost and Stolen Ordinance, which obviously drives critics crazier. But the supporters of this say it's still early. Some of those ordinances have been tied up in lawsuits and other police departments they say are still trying to figure out exactly how to implement this, Kiran.

CHETRY: Very interesting. Ed Lavandera for us this morning on the gun trail. Thank you.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, crossing the half hour right now, time for a look at our other top stories.

More trouble for Toyota this morning. The company admits it's looking into a possible problem with the power steering in the world's best selling car, the Corolla. The company it is considering a recall but has not made a decision so far.

A British coroner says world-renowned fashion designer Alexander McQueen died of asphyxia and hanging. McQueen's body was found at his London home last week, the day before his mother's funeral. Police say his death is not considered suspicious. The coroner says that the fashion designer left behind a suicide note.

And a tragic end to that drama on Mt. St. Helenes. The body of a climber who fell into the volcano was recovered yesterday. Joseph Bohlig fell 1,500 feet into the crater on Tuesday. Bohlig had climbed the volcano 68 times before the accident. Low visibility, high wind and snow hampered rescue efforts. An autopsy is now being conducted to determine if he died of injuries, of hypothermia or a combination of factors. John.

ROBERTS: Pakistan for the very first time this morning confirming the capture of the Taliban's top military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar who is said to have been nabbed in Karachi is the real deal. A man reportedly at the core of Taliban operations and training.

Joining me now to talk about the significance of this arrest is Reuel Marc Gerecht. He is a former CIA officer and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Gary Berntsen, a former CIA field officer is with us this morning.

Gary, let's start with you because you tried to take out Baradar several years ago.

GARY BERNTSEN, FMR. CIA FIELD OFFICER: In 2001, he was commanding the Taliban forces and this was in our sector. We had a shot at him one night. There were too many civilians in too close and we didn't take that shot thinking we'd get another shot at him. Of course the city collapsed and he fled.

ROBERTS: So nine years later, he's in custody. What are you thinking about this development?

BERNTSEN: I think, you know, I think the administration deserves kudos. The agency did a great job in this working with the Pakistanis. We've been putting pressure on them. Just a month ago there was pressure put, CNN asked Hillary Clinton, you know, how come the Pakistanis haven't turned over Mullah Omar. Well, now they've turned over, you know, the number two guy.

You know, their military commander. Very, very useful. It doesn't mean the war is going to be won, but this guy will have intel on the relationships with all the 24 different Pakistani militant organizations with Al Qaeda, with the drug lords who they're selling their dope to. You're talking about (INAUDIBLE) Ibrahim. This should be very, very interesting.

ROBERTS: Reuel, what are you thinking about what the Pakistanis have done here? Does this show a new level of cooperation? They have been reluctant in the past to hand over high level Taliban operatives though the consensus was pretty much was that they knew where these guys were.

REUEL MARC GERECHT, WORKED AS CIA'S DIRECTORATE OF OPERATIONS: Yes, I'm a bit skeptical that it's going to be a turning point. I mean, the Pakistanis have in the past been very, very he helpful. And then at times they've been less helpful. I think they'll probably keep very firm control over this individual.

I suspect the agency will not have full access to the debriefings. And I would be surprised if the really juicy material about Pakistani Taliban ties since 9/11, any of that information would be turned over to the agency.

ROBERTS: And Gary, in terms of these debriefings as Reuel put it, the CIA we understand may have some sort of observatory role in this, as Reuel said, though not full access. What would be the protocol for handling this fellow?

Because we're getting some reports from Taliban inside Afghanistan that they're watching very closely as to you how Baradar is being handled. And if he's treated well, they may be inclined to cooperation, but if he's not treated well, it will be status quo.

BERNTSEN: Our relationship with Pakistan has been one that has been up and down over the years. There have been times where they've provided not just complete access, but turned the people over to us completely. You know, i.e., the attacks in East Africa, they captured key individuals and just gave them to us.

There is a political dynamic with the Taliban which is different because Pakistan created the Taliban. And they don't want us to know all of the specific secrets of that particular relationship.

ROBERTS: So how do you think they're treating him?

BERNTSEN: I don't know. And that's something quite frankly that Richard Holbrooke will be quite intimately involved in. This is a big deal, this capture. He's correct in saying that there may be limitations on this, but I suspect Pakistan recognizes that, you know, their economic future lies with us, they made this decision which way they're going to go.

The fact is the Taliban, the TTP, Tehrik-I-Taliban Pakistan, killed the current president of Pakistan's wife. So we may have more access than people suspect and think.

ROBERTS: Right. Reuel, in terms of Baradar's value, do you think he's more valuable in trying to uncover some sort of actionable intelligence over the things that Gary was talking about or perhaps in influencing other, maybe mid or upper level members of the Taliban structure to come to the negotiating table?

If he's not there, do they say, oh, well, let's try to get the best deal we can while we can get it?

GERECHT: Oh, I suspect you could get a little of both. I mean, if he's fully cooperative, the amount of information he has is no doubt substantial. I suspect the main influence on the Taliban on those who might be willing to negotiate with the Americans and the government of President Karzai would be if they really do believe the Americans are there for the long haul.

If the surge proves successful, the Americans continue to be quite aggressive, I think that is much more likely to have an impact than anything Mr. Baradar might send out, you know, via the Pakistanis.

BERNTSEN: Sometimes senior members of militant organizations when they're captured give us everything. The head of the PKK (INAUDIBLE) when he was captured by the Turks folded like a cheap deck chair, cried like a baby, gave them everything. They dismembered that organization. Did significant damage to it. Frequently low level members when they're captured will resist more, you know, more fervently than senior guys. This is going to be interesting where this goes.

ROBERTS: And Reuel, if you were a betting man, would you say that the Taliban just easily replaces Baradar or is this a real blow to them that he is gone now? What's your read?

GERECHT: I think it's a real blow. I mean, it's very difficult to replace someone with his level of experience quickly. You really have to rise through the ranks. You have to have the ups and the downs. So I suspect that this gentleman is a significant loss to the Taliban movement. It's probably not a lethal loss, but it will certainly cause them pain in the short term.

ROBERTS: All right. Reuel Gerecht and Gary Berntsen, as always, good to see you gentlemen. Thanks for joining us this morning. Really appreciate it.


CHETRY: Well, still ahead, stimulus dollars, millions of them, going to the Virgin Islands. Should money that's only created just over 100 jobs be going to what some say paradise? Well, Jim Acosta is on the money trail. It's 37 minutes after the hour.



CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It is now 40 minutes past the hour. And today is also the one year anniversary, I guess, you could say, of the $787 billion stimulus bill which has since been revised. It is now up to $862 billion.

ROBERTS: Well, more than $130 million of that money is leaving the country. Where is it headed? Three tiny islands in the Caribbean. The U.S. Virgin Islands. Our Jim Acosta traveled to this tropical paradise as part of our ongoing effort to uncover with your stimulus dollars are going. Jim joins us now from Washington with an "A.M. Original." I'd like an assignment like that, Jimmy.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was just telling our folks here in Washington, it makes up for a lot of those assignments where you stay in hotels that people typically rent by the hour. But I'll go no further on that. Now, John, the stimulus is now one year old and you can find stimulus money in all 50 states, but did you know taxpayer dollars are also going to stimulus programs in U.S. territories.

Take the U.S. Virgin Islands. While we were in St. Thomas on a different assignment, we saw those green and orange stimulus signs and started doing some digging of our own.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Nicknamed America's paradise, the U.S. Virgin Islands are riding a wave of federal tax dollars these days. The three islands that make up this tiny U.S. territory are slated to receive more than $130 million in stimulus money. The territory's governor John DeJongh says the islands are entitled to the funds.

GOV. JOHN DEJONGH, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: We've been part of the United States since 1917. We are the furthermost destination within the Caribbean. So this really does help us to a very large extent.

ACOSTA (on camera): You're Americans.

DEJONGH: We're Americans.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Shaquil Bruno (ph) and Isaiah Thomas (ph) are looking forward to the new stimulus sidewalk that will be built outside their high school in St. Thomas. The school got a visit from President Obama during the '08 campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be safer for the children walking home up the hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, look how hot the sun is.

ACOSTA: And TV ads in the islands urge residents to apply for $8 million in Energy Department grants to buy stimulus funded solar hot water heaters. The territory's leaders say the stimulus is creating jobs.

SEN. LOUIS PATRICK, PRESIDENT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS LEGISLATURE: They're manufacturing solar hot water heaters in the territory which is something we've never done in the past.

ACOSTA: But the government stimulus web site shows of the $19 million received by the Virgin Islands so far, 152 jobs have been created. About $127,000 per job.

TOM SCHATZ, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: What the stimulus has done is it has alerted the American people to how government works in general because the money went into existing programs, people are beginning to understand how many of them simply don't work that efficiently.

ACOSTA (on camera): Even in paradise, there's a debate over how the stimulus is being spent. Last year the territory's legislature passed a bill requiring the governor to disclose exactly where stimulus dollars are going. The governor vetoed the legislation.

(voice-over): So the territory's legislature overrode that veto last June. Still six months later during our visit in January, the governor had not produced one stimulus report.

SEN. USIE RICHARDS, MINORITY LEADER, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS LEGISLATURE: He's not complying with the local law in regards to submitting a report.

DEJONGH: My veto was not intended not to share the information.

ACOSTA: Since our visit, the governor has complied with the law and issued that report. In the days ahead, he says he hopes to increase the Virgin Islands share of the stimulus to $215 million.

(on camera): What would you say to folks in the mainland who wonder about a quarter of a million dollars going to paradise?

DEJONGH: Well, paradise needs it. It really does help us to be able to accommodate over two million Americans that we get every year in terms of tourists to the island.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The stimulus has reached these islands. The critics say the program is still lost at sea.


ACOSTA: We should note after we turned our cameras off, one Virgin Islands senator told us our visit did prompt the governor to issue that report. And in case you were wondering, the Virgin Islands are nowhere near the biggest stimulus recipient.

Puerto Rico will get over $2 billion in stimulus money. That's more than nearly 20 states. John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: That's a lot of money.

ACOSTA: A lot of money.

ROBERTS: You know, as they said, they're Americans, I guess they're entitled to it, right?

ACOSTA: They are Americans, and they will point that out to you if you bring it up. They feel they're entitled to this money just like any other state in the country.

ROBERTS: All right. Jim Acosta for us this morning. Great story. Thanks, Jim.

44 minutes after the hour. Rob Marciano is going to have this morning's travel forecast coming up right after the break.

CHETRY: And coming up in 10 minutes, "A.M. House Call." This is going to be fascinating. Dr. Sanjay Gupta with the mystery surrounding the death, they now know and have been able to do some advance testing and to figure out the true reason why King Tut died. An amazing discovery. You're watching the most news in the morning.


ROBERTS: Good morning, Dallas, where it's clear and 31 degrees right now. Later on it's going to be sunny, going up to a high of 54. Looks like a beautiful day and a great weather to let those country boys roll.

Billy Currington to start your day this morning. I -- I know the guy who -- who wrote that song.

CHETRY: Billy Currington didn't?

ROBERTS: No. I think Brett wrote it. I played golf with him last year.

CHETRY: Wow! It's a great song.

ROBERTS: Yes. It is.

CHETRY: Everybody's got (ph) it on the iPod now.

ROBERTS: It's terrific. Perfect. Rob Marciano is tracking the weather for us.

CHETRY: Yes, he is. He's tracking it today and what -- what are you -- you're waving at us here.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: What did I hear? John -- you play golf with Billy Currington?

ROBERTS: No, no, no, no. The guy who wrote that song for Billy Currington.

MARCIANO: Oh! Close enough.

ROBERTS: Close enough. Close enough to greatness, I would say.

MARCIANO: I'm a big fan. There wouldn't be much golf being played -- well, I mean, you got to go to Southern Florida, really, maybe Southern Texas, Arizona, SoCal. Those are the spots. Other than that, it's going to be cold just about everywhere else.

No big storms in the forecast until further notice. That's the only good news.

We did see 11 inches of snow, though, in Meriden, Connecticut yesterday, 10.5 inches in West Milford, in North and over Massachusetts on 9.1, Troy, New York, seeing nine inches as well from this guy. That's heading off to sea, and then now we've got this strong northwest flow.

So we're seeing some lake-effect snow showers. This is the time of year where lake-effect snows aren't quite as intense as they would be, say, in December or January, because the lakes start to get colder and in some cases freeze -- freeze over. Lake Erie, as a matter of fact, getting reports of it freezing completely over and it hasn't done that in some 14 years.

So you notice we're not getting tunnel lake-effect snow off of Erie because of that. We're getting some off of Ontario. We're just getting some because of the lift associated with that instability and that -- that low.

Boston, New York metros, you're going to see some wind delays for travel. Atlanta, Charlotte, same deal. And a little bit of snow and low clouds expected in places like Detroir.

It will be 33 degrees in Chicago, 45 in Memphis, 45 degrees in Atlanta, so very much below average. That continues to be the trend as cold air continues to pour down from Canada. So lake-effect snows, yes, but the chilly south will continue.

We'll probably see a reprieve later in the week with a little system that will come through and warm things up briefly. But it looks like the long term pattern, at least getting back into next week, will be more in the way of cold air, probably right on through the month of February.

So, spring will be here soon, just not yet.

ROBERTS: All right...

MARCIANO: Not tomorrow, not next week. (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTS: Yes. And that's how Rob rolls. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: See you guys.

CHETRY: He's got a little country boy in him, too.

All right, well, 50 past the hour. This morning's top stories just minutes away, including 20 minutes after the hour, our Rebuilding America series, Anderson Cooper heading uptown where one man is investing in Harlem and hoping to bring back jobs.

ROBERTS: And at 25 minutes after the hour, we're on the gun trail. A grassroots effort to track guns that go missing before they turn up at a crime scene. But could legal gun owners pay?

CHETRY: Also, at 50 minutes after the hour, we're "Paging Dr. Gupta" with a very promising new study about aspirin and possibly being able to save breast cancer patients. We're going to have much more on that coming up as well.


ROBERTS: Sometimes it all just kind of comes together, doesn't it?

CHETRY: That's the Bangles. Where did they go? With songs like this? Man!

ROBERTS: They could be playing Steve Martin's "King Tut." That would be good too.

We're back with the Most News in the Morning. Fifty-four minutes after the hour. That means it's time for an "A.M. House Call".

It's an ancient Egyptian mystery, more than 3,000 years old. Well, this morning the mystery is solved. Scientists now believe they know what killed King Tut.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us from Atlanta to weigh in. Good morning, Doc. Playing Egyptologist, archeologist this morning.

So what led to the boy king's demise?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the right answer still is we're not 100 percent sure...

ROBERTS: Oh, come on!

GUPTA: ... but this is fascinating. There's no question about it. I know, I know. It was a long time ago, John. The -- there's been a lot of speculation throughout -- throughout, really, time. I mean, people thought that maybe he had been murdered. There was a hole in his skull. We now know that was from the mummification process. There was this thought that maybe he had female genetic traits, but they've actually been able to analyze his DNA now and find that that's not true as well.

What they're willing to say, based on doing pretty sophisticated DNA analysis -- again, remember, we're talking about 3,000 years ago here -- DNA analysis and also doing CAT scans of the various bones that can sort of construct together what -- what likely happened to him.

First of all, they believe that King Tut was -- was actually inbred, that his father and mother were actually related and that led to a whole host of genetic deformities that he probably lived with for his 19 years of life.

They also believe that he had malaria, a significant malaria that may have even infected his brain. That's because they found the DNA of the -- of the pathogen that causes malaria as well. And he also had a fracture in his leg, and they think these three things in combination probably led to his death.

But, again, this is fascinating stuff. And let me just show you just how good the quality of the images are here, because you're thinking 3,000 years ago, what can they really tell? Oops -- Three thousand years ago, what can they really tell?

Well, look. Look, this -- this is actually reconstructions of his feet, and I don't know if you can tell here, but where the yellow is marked, you see two things going on there. First of all, there's an extra joint. That's called (INAUDIBLE) dactylin (ph) -- again, maybe a result of the inbreeding.

But also he's starting to develop some necrosis or erosion of the bone there. That's an infection that can be quite painful and might also account for why he was always sitting down as well when you saw him in a lot of photographs.

But that's what they really think probably was going on here overall with King Tut. Again, you know, it's hard to say for sure, but take a look at the quality of that stuff, John.

ROBERTS: Yes, it's pretty amazing. OK, so -- so all of this is very curious and it's intriguing. But is there any real value from learning about this?

GUPTA: You know, I think there is. In fact, you know, I -- I've done a lot of stories on malaria over the years, trying to really trace the origins of malaria.

John, you may remember, there's been a lot of thought that perhaps malaria started because there was a jump between animals and humans, you know, several hundred years ago. We didn't know exactly when malaria started, or how it changed over the years.

But 3,000 years ago, they can find DNA evidence of malaria. That -- that's a game-changer, and if you can start to find other clues throughout history as to how the -- this particular pathogen evolves, it can give you an idea of how other pathogens might evolve as well. And it was something we talk about all the time with regard to avian flu, H1N1, what happens, what's the natural history of those. This is valuable lesson here, John.

ROBERTS: Well, I tell you, you know, Doc, you know, if you're coming up with malaria DNA from 3,000 years ago, what's next? They're going to start recreating dinosaurs? Come on.

GUPTA: Right. Yes, you never know. But to -- to be able to put that together, and -- and, look, how is it so different now? What is the natural history? It's -- it's really interesting.

ROBERTS: It's pretty cool stuff.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta for us this morning. Doc, good to see you. Thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks, John and Kiran (ph).

CHETRY: It is really amazing, though, to be able to see those x- rays.

ROBERTS: I'm telling you, we're just one step away from Jurassic Park.

CHETRY: Maybe we are.

ROBERTS: It's coming down the pike.

CHETRY: Well, meanwhile, I know we're one step away from our top stories. They're coming your way in 90 seconds. We'll be back in a minute.