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American Morning

Middle School in Maine Offers The Pill; Oprah's Health Battle; Interview With Congressman Rahm Emanuel

Aired October 18, 2007 - 08:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice over): Maryland officials confirmed a case in Bethesda yesterday. New Hampshire officials blame the infection for the death of a 4-year-old girl last week. And last March in Texas, a 14-year-old go with MRSA died from pneumonia.

KEILAR: And CNN has just learned that two high schools in Connecticut are each reporting one case of MRSA with their students. So we're learning of more and more cases. But a couple of things that students can do to cut their risk from contracting MRSA, really hygiene issues.

Don't share things like towels or soap or deodorant, things that touch the skin. And above all, washing those hands. Hand-washing, a very big thing -- John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Any other precautions though that the school is actually taking other than cleaning up? Are they providing hand sanitizer, are they stepping up their cleaning regimen?

KEILAR: They are. From what we understand, in particular at this school, they are talking about monthly cleanings or even quarterly cleanings. But again, the thing that the schools are really emphasizing is personal hygiene for the students, especially hand- washing. So a lot of this really coming down on the shoulders of the students and not just the schools -- John.

ROBERTS: Brianna Keilar for us this morning live.

Brianna, thanks -- Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, some extreme weather to tell you about in the Midwest. The aftermath of it, really.

A possible tornado moved through Tulsa, Oklahoma. A store, as well as more than two dozen mobile homes, heavily damaged. Eighteen thousand homes lost power due to that storm.

Also, nearby, emergency crews say more than two dozen people were hurt when two tents collapsed at the annual Oktoberfest. One person critically injured.

Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, we spoke with the festival's organizer, who talked about just how suddenly the weather changed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SANDERS, OKTOBERFEST ORGANIZER: As I was just getting ready to have my dinner last night, it started raining. It was a very light rain, so I ran for cover, as other people did into the beer garden. As soon as I got in there, within seconds, without warning, there was this huge gust of wind, possibly a microburst, not sure. And the tent started collapsing.


CHETRY: Yes. And police say, again, one woman is in critical condition with a head injury. A local reporter also suffering a concussion after he was hit by a tent pole.

Well, at least two tornadoes touched down last night in southwest Missouri. Witnesses reported -- and there you can see it right there -- a funnel cloud. Several funnel clouds reported in the skies.

Six homes damaged. This was in Lawrence County. Dozens of power lines and trees knocked down, but in this case no reports of any injuries.

Also, in south-central Kansas, strong winds and hail knocked down several power lines around Wichita. Heavy rain also caused flooding in the streets. Two businesses and several homes damaged in Kansas.

Well, with all that bad weather moving east, Rob Marciano has been tracking the situation for us. He's at the CNN weather desk this morning.


ROBERTS: Coming up now to five minutes after the hour.

Also new this morning, the showdown over the children's health care issue moves to the House floor today. It appears that Democrats will not have enough votes to override a presidential veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program increase.

Democrats had proposed a $35 billion expansion of the state-run program, but President Bush vetoed that. He prefers a $5 billion increase.

In just a few minutes, we'll be talking with Democratic congressman Rahm Emanuel about today's vote and a potential compromise ahead.

An FDA panel meets today to talk about the potential dangers of giving cough syrup to your children. The Food and Drug Administration wants to know if a cough and cold medicine recall should be expanded to include all children under the age of 6. Drug makers pulled medication designed for children under 2 years of age last week.

And happening right now in Pakistan, thousands are welcoming back former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after eight years in exile. Security is tight there in Karachi, with Islamic militants making threats. Bhutto was promising to fight extremism and bring back democracy, and could team up with her former rival, President Pervez Musharraf, in a power-sharing deal. And if she could get a law or two changed, might even run for prime minister again -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, a controversial decision to provide birth control to kids as young as 11 years old passes in a Portland, Maine, school district. Students at King Middle School will now be able to get birth control pills, patches, and even the morning-after pill at their school health center.

The parents have to give initial written permission for their kids to allowed to be treated at the health center. But under state law, the treatments that kids receive are confidential and students can decide for themselves whether or not to tell their parents about the services they receive. The plan got a lot of mixed reaction from parents at that meeting last night.


DIANNE MILLER, PARENT: There -- the ramifications of what you are considering is mind-boggling to me. I just can't believe we would be this irresponsible.

CAROL SCHILLER, PARENT: We're not talking about a stampede of kids coming in asking for birth control. We're looking at a segment of the population that, for whatever reason, are being abandoned by adults in their lives.

PETER DOYLE, PARENT: You all better consider that down the line, because you all are going to be responsible for that, the devastating effects on young women, when this goes through.

RICHARD VEILLEUX, PARENT: But for those kids who are not getting that guidance, I think it's important for all of us to make sure that those kids have access to the resources they need.

RICHARD GILETTE, PARENT: I would say we're not -- we're not educating our kids. We're actually avoiding our responsibilities. And that's sad.


CHETRY: Well, as we said, a lot of strong opinions. The district no stranger to controversies involving contraception and young students. They've also been handing condoms out since 2002.

So we want to know what you think. Should schools be allowed to hand out birth control pills without parents knowing about it?

Cast your vote, Right now, 36 percent of you who voted say yes, 64 percent saying no. And we're going to continue to update the results throughout the morning.

ROBERTS: And let's remember, we're talking about middle school students here, so we're talking between the ages of, let's say, 11 and 12 and 15 or so.

You know, are there implications, health implications with girls that young getting the pill?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, certainly this is going to be debated. Some people are going to say, look, one in six middle schoolers in Maine is having sexual intercourse. And you want to protect those kids. You want to make sure that those girls don't get pregnant, so give them contraception.

And other people will say that the very presence of contraception at a school-based clinic encourages them to have sexual intercourse. It says it's OK to have sex. And yes, we're talking about sixth, seventh, eighth graders. Certainly as the mother of a fifth grader, this story made me open my eyes.

CHETRY: Right.


CHETRY: Yes, the other thing, not even the moral implications, but also just in terms of health. I mean, are these kids getting a full physical? I mean, there are risks associated with taking the birth control pill...

COHEN: Right.

CHETRY: ... and those hormones. And they're not being treated by their doctor, per se, and they don't have to tell their parents.

COHEN: Right. Well, these are prescription medications, so they would certainly be seen by a doctor or a nurse practitioner before being given a contraceptive.

And it is important to note that girls this age do sometimes get birth control pills, not for birth control, but to control acne or to control menstrual problems. So it's not as if it's the first time girls this age would be getting birth control pills. And yes, they would have some kind of physical examination first.

ROBERTS: Yes. You wonder, are they being given all of the caveats, though, about -- you know, a lot of girls at that age are beginning to smoke as well. Smoking on the pill could create blood clots.

COHEN: Right, not a good idea. Right. Not a good idea, although at that age it's certainly less risky than when you're smoking at an older age.

But, yes, one would assume that part and parcel of being prescribed birth control is that you're given the caveats. And it's not as if they're just taking it off the shelf. They are having an interaction with a nurse practitioner or a doctor.

CHETRY: Yes. It just seems worrisome, because if the parents don't know and the kids have some sort of reaction or some sort of problem, and you don't know what your own child is taking, that's a scary implication.

COHEN: Right. I think that part of it is scary for a lot of parents, because usually you take them to the doctor and you know, you're right there, you see it. But this is a school-based clinic, so they're showing up. So one would hope that the kids would be encouraged to tell their parents, hey, I'm taking this drug, but they don't have to.

ROBERTS: Yes. Well, it's certainly a big issue...

COHEN: Oh, sure.

ROBERTS: ... as we saw with what some of those parents had to say about it.

CHETRY: Well, Elizabeth, hand on for just one other second, because we want to talk about a story that Oprah brought to the light today, another health issue. She talked about her recent health trouble.

In the latest issue of "O" magazine, she talks about suffering from a thyroid condition. She says first it was hyperthyroidism. It sped up her metabolism, left her unable to sleep for days. And then hypothyroidism, she said slowing her down to the point where she wanted to literally sleep all the time. She says she took some time off in between seasons of her show and she actually went to Hawaii to recover.

Now, we want to talk a little bit about this because she says this is really a wake-up call for women over the age of 35, that if you're not feeling quite right, maybe it is your thyroid.

So how do you know?

COHEN: Well, it's important that you go to your doctor and you say, this is how I'm feeling, could it be my thyroid? And the reason why it's important to actually name the thyroid and say, is this what it could be, is because those symptoms are kind of vague.

If you show up at your doctor and say, oh, I'm kind of tired, oh, I've been gaining weight, well, a lot of people are tired and a lot of people are gaining weight. So, you might want to specifically say, "Doctor, could it be my thyroid?" Because it's not really that big of a deal to test for it.

Your doctor will palpate, will feel the thyroid. And also will -- can do some blood tests to figure out if your thyroid is out of whack in either direction.

ROBERTS: I know two women who are in their early 40s had thyroid cancer, so that could be part of the whole thing, too, right?

COHEN: Right, that's true. I mean, that's -- and when they're doing that test, that will -- it will figure that out as well.

CHETRY: And then do they give you medication for thyroid hypo -- or hyperthyroidism?

COHEN: Right. There are various medications that they can give. This is a treatable disorder. The trick is to catch it.

ROBERTS: All right.

Elizabeth Cohen, good tips. Thanks very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Showdown on Capitol Hill. What can Democrats do to save their expansion of the children's health insurance program? Democratic Caucus chairman Rahm Emanuel joins us coming up next.

And you've heard of cameras in schools, but probably not like this. Little Rock schools are about to be monitored by people with even more authority than the principal.

The story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: A beautiful shot of the Capitol today, Washington, D.C. And there is certainly a lot going on in the walls of Congress today.

In fact, one of the big questions, can Democrats get enough votes to override the president's veto of an expanded children's health insurance program? The answer, at least right now, appears to be no. This bill has sparked intense debate among Democrats and Republicans.

In fact, here is what House Minority Leader John Boehner had to say when he was on AMERICAN MORNING a couple of days ago.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: We didn't pick this fight. It was the Democrats who picked it.

We can work out our differences, but they delayed this override vote for two weeks to try to score political points. That's not what the American people want from us.


CHETRY: Joining us now, Congressman Rahm Emanuel. He chairs the House Democratic Caucus and joins us from Capitol Hill.

Good morning.


CHETRY: Good to see you, Congressman.

EMANUEL: Nice to see you. CHETRY: Your vote counters at this point don't think that you have enough members of Congress to override the president. So are you playing a political game like Congressman Boehner is accusing, wasting time to prove a point?

EMANUEL: You know, Kiran, that's interesting. You know, 18 Republican senators joined the 51 senators, Democratic senators, and 45 Republicans, members of the House, joined 220 Democrats in the House. So if it's political points, then a lot of Republicans were in on the political theater.

I would argue that, in fact, that the veto by the president and sustaining the veto was political. And it was political in the sense that a lot of people -- we had a bipartisan consensus to solve a problems. Kids of working parents who don't have health care either through their employer or any other means in another government program, this initiative was started 10 years ago has been wildly successful, and the veto is what was political here.

The Republicans who joined us were trying to solve a problem. And those who are trying to sustain the president's veto are scoring political points for no other reason than to oppose children's health care.

CHETRY: Well, let me ask you this -- you guys are holding a press conference a little bit this afternoon. I think around 12:30, after the override veto vote. Can you give us a preview of what you're planning to announce?

EMANUEL: Well, I think we'll look at what the vote total is and where we're going to go. But I will tell you this, I mean, we're open to suggestions, but what we're not open to is there'll be no compromise on 10 million children's health care. That...

CHETRY: So when...

EMANUEL: We won't go above it, but we ain't going below it. And the 10 million children is an agreement that Senator Hatch, a Republican, Senator Grassley, and Democratic senators in the Senate, Ray LaHood, a Republican here in the House, and us and Democrats in the House, came together and have an agreement.

We have a big bipartisan agreement not only in the House and Senate, but across this country. Your own polling, other polling throughout the country shows that the American people support this and support this initiative because kids do not need to suffer for what is basically a broken health care system. And this provides those children that health care.

CHETRY: Now, let me ask you this, though, because the president seems like he was open to some sort of compromise. Is there a possibility you guys would settle for maybe less money, maybe some stricter limits on the family income level of where kids qualify in order to get it done for the good of the other kids?

EMANUEL: Well, let me -- let me -- well, I don't know any of those suggestions.

First of all, all of those are in the bill, but we're more than willing to look at that. But what we will not accept, and one thing you point to, less money. You can't get to 10 million kids with less money. We won't compromise achieving the goal.

You know what is interesting? Is just two weeks ago, when the president referred to the children's health care as excessive spending, he submitted a request for $200 billion that is bringing the total to $680 billion for the war in Iraq.

CHETRY: All right. Well, hold on.

EMANUEL: Now, that limits...

CHETRY: Let's listen to what the president said. Let's listen to what the president said.


CHETRY: He had a news conference yesterday. He was relentless in criticism of your party of Congress. Let's hear.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congress has work to do on health care. Congress has work to do to keep our people safe. Congress has work to do on education.

There hadn't been one -- there hasn't been any bills moving when it comes to trade. Not one appropriations bill has made it to my desk.

How can you find common ground when there is no appropriations process?


CHETRY: Is it better to hold it up -- to hold up these different bills to show, OK, the Republicans are the poster boys for what is not getting done, for not covering poor children?

EMANUEL: Well, let's take a full -- let's take, you know, a full lens view of what is going on.

We did, after 10 years of delaying the minimum wage increase, the Democratic Congress, within the first six months, got a minimum wage increase. We got a $15 billion increase in veterans health care for Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans who did not have it after six years. Republicans cutting health care for veterans.

We also got the largest increase in the college loan since the GI bill. Those were just the beginning.

But what did happen? Let's just note this. There's been three vetoes by the president of the United States. One to find the date to bring troops home from Iraq. The second to permit stem-cell research. And third, to allow 10 million children to get health care. Those vetoes tell you a lot about the president's priorities.

We'll get that all done. There's a lot of work that needs to be done. We've rolled up our sleeves. And I believe at the end of this Congress we're going to have -- and the end of this year -- we'll get this health care bill for children. We will also get a new energy bill that...


CHETRY: Wait. Even if that involves compromising with the president you will get a health care bill to cover?

EMANUEL: No, I think what will happen is there will be a compromise, as there has when we first come to an agreement on the 10 million children. That other Republicans will see the basics and the fundamentals like this bill like their other colleagues and like the governors across this country, and see the fundamental core of this bill, which is 10 million children getting health care.

CHETRY: But could this mean another bill? Could this mean another incarnation?

EMANUEL: Well, I mean, you can always look at something and see if you want to rearrange it, strengthen some provision. That, you're open.

What is not open -- in a line that won't go below. We will never go below 10 million children, because these children, if you look at the census data that just came...


EMANUEL: Two years ago, Kiran, what it showed was, although health care for the overall population was dramatically -- growth uninsured, children led that effort. And then, therefore, these are kids of working parents who work full time.


EMANUEL: You can't say to a parent who works full time that your only option is to go on Medicaid. They earn a paycheck, not a welfare check. Their kids deserve health care because they work full time.

CHETRY: All right. Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel.

Great to talk with you. Thanks for being with us.

EMANUEL: Great to see you. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Twenty minutes after the hour, and this just in from the Pentagon. Remember that bizarre story about a B52 flying across the country with loaded nuclear weapons on board? Well, the Air Force is ready to punish those involved.

Our Barbara Starr at the Pentagon with the details on that for us this morning.

Good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. Bizarre, and yet a massive security breach for the U.S. military.

We have now learned from an official very familiar with the incident, Defense Secretary Robert Gates expected to get the full briefing tomorrow. He is expected to be told that up to five Air Force personnel will be fired, lose their jobs, and a number of personnel will face disciplinary action -- everything from letters of reprimand that end your military career, all the way to the possibility of criminal charges being referred to investigators for possible further action.

What the military found in this incident, we are told, is that the Air Force at multiple points along the way simply failed to obey its own safety and security procedures involving nuclear weapons. All of that leading to those six nuclear warheads back in August being loaded on a B52 flown from an air base in North Dakota all the way to Louisiana before anybody noticed -- John.

ROBERTS: Barbara, have they taken steps to make sure this never happens again? And when we say that considering that they thought they had steps that it wouldn't happen in the first place.

STARR: Well, that is exactly right. This is the sort of thing that the military says never could of happened, but, of course, it did.

So, there has been, again, a thorough review of safety and security procedures involving the storing, handling and transport of nuclear weapons by the military. They say they feel they have really got the problem in hand, but as you point out, John, this was never supposed to happen in the first place -- John.

ROBERTS: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning.

Barbara, thanks -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, take a good, long, last look, because something in your home may be joining the endangered species list. Well, if your home is a Best Buy.

No, no, no. It's an electronic device. We'll give you a hint there.

We're going to find out what it is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, someone with more legal authority than the principal will soon be watching from cameras in Little Rock schools. The city one of the only in Arkansas that will now have its school system linked to the police. Officers will be able to watch real-time images from inside dozens of school buildings.

ROBERTS: Twenty-five minutes after the hour. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" for you this morning.

It began with the dinosaurs and now it looks like analog TVs are going to be extinct.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: They're joining the extinction list.

February 17, 2009. You've got a little time before the government says that everybody has to switch over to using digital TVs. But as of now, Best Buy, the nation's biggest electronic retailer, is not selling analog TVs anymore.

This switch is going to have an impact on a lot of people. There are probably 70 million TV sets in the United States that are not capable of getting a digital signal, which is how it's going to be in 2009. So here's what you'll need to do.

You'll have to buy or rent a set-top converter box to get your analog signal into a digital signal. Or, you're going to have subscribe to cable or satellite. Or, you're going to have to buy a new TV. Pretty much all TVs nowadays come with digital tuners built in.

In a system that Consumers Union calls totally unworkable, during a three-month period in 2008 the government is going to issue vouchers for $40 a piece to people with analog TVs. I'm not sure -- don't know whether you have to turn them in or what you have to do to get them in order to subsidize the purchase of a set-top box.

ROBERTS: Wait a minute.

VELSHI: Yes, I know. There's nothing about this that sounds right.

ROBERTS: The government is going to be buying us TVs?

VELSHI: Well, because the government has decided that your TV is no longer good enough. They're changing the system.

ROBERTS: Jack Cafferty is going to have something to say about that.


I'm not entirely sure how this is going to work and whether it's going to work. But for those of you with analog TVs, enjoy them for the next year and a half, because that's all you got. CHETRY: Don't try to take away Jack Cafferty's eight-track, either. Not happy with that.

VELSHI: That's true. That's true. And there's no subsidies for your eight-tracks.

CHETRY: All right. Great.

Ali, thank you.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks.

VELSHI: All right.

ROBERTS: A story coming up in our next half hour here at AMERICAN MORNING that you just can't miss. Silly String, not your average bomb detector.

CHETRY: No, but we're going to meet one soldier's mother who made it her mission to get 80,000 cans of Silly String over to our troops overseas. Why was it so important? Well, we're going to show you.

That's coming up. And also today's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


ROBERTS: Capitol building -- Capitol building in our nation's capital this morning, where it's 66 degrees. A little bit of a light breeze blowing there.

And can you believe it is the 18th of October? It is going to be 83 degrees there today, with a threat of showers a little bit later on. Eighty-three degrees in the middle of October.

CHETRY: How about that?

ROBERTS: Unbelievable. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us. New this morning, the Pentagon expected to alert eight National Guard brigades to get ready to go to war. They could be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan beginning late next summer as part of a troop rotation with active duty forces.

Altogether the announcement could include 20,000 troops from North Carolina, Oklahoma, Illinois and Hawaii.

A federal advisory panel wants to shut down a private school in Virginia. The panel saying that the Islamic Saudi Academy should be closed until the U.S. government that the school is not supporting radical Islam. The school, which is funded by the Saudi government, says the school does not teach religion and has both Christian and Jewish teachers. ROBERTS: A follow-up now to CNN "Security Watch." Last month we showed you how the nation's power grid system was vulnerable to a cyber attack by terrorists. Vulnerable in the way that it could actually destroy equipment, not just screw up computers.

Some security experts believe that such an attack could have a profound impact on the national economy. Yesterday a House subcommittee held a hearing on the matter. Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, who broke the story, monitored the hearing. They actually showed her report as part of it. Jeanne, did the committee talk about what's being done about this threat?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did. First, back to the test just a little bit. Called "Aurora," scientists at Idaho National Lab destroyed a generator by hacking into its control system. The implication, someone halfway around the world could bring down parts of our power grid with the click of a mouse.

Industry and government recognized it was a very serious vulnerability and a corrective fix was devised, but at this congressional hearing yesterday a representative of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that a quarter of utilities may not have put the fix in place, meaning they may still be vulnerable to this kind of cyber attack.

In addition, an expert testified that there are other critical cyber weaknesses in control systems that must be addressed.


JOE WEISS, APPLIED CONTROL SOLUTIONS: Aurora is obviously a very critical vulnerability. It is not the only one. There are several others out there probably of equal significance.


MESERVE: Joe Weiss says he has information on 90 different real word control systems. Cyber incidents not just in the electric industry but in water, oil, gas, chemical. Some of those incidents were intentional, some were not, but in some cases, serious damage was done. Weiss and others say it points to the fact that much more has to be done to secure control systems across the board.

ROBERTS: And Jeanne, is the Department of Homeland Security doing anything to address this larger problem here?

MESERVE: Well, the Government Accountability Office issued a report yesterday saying DHS needs to do much more, that it is not adequately sharing information about cyber vulnerabilities of control systems or coordinating efforts to fix them and several members of Congress agreed during that hearing yesterday.

ROBERTS: A worrying issue. Jeanne Meserve for us from Washington this morning. Jeanne, thanks. Kiran?

MESERVE: You bet. CHETRY: Another big story we're following and that's the extreme weather that's moved across the Midwest and is now heading east after touching off a tornado in Missouri.

Also, strong storms in Kansas and Oklahoma last night. This is some video just in to us of lightning streaking across the sky in Tulsa. Our Rob Marciano is at the CNN Weather Center watching all of this for us, letting us know where it is expected to head next as well. Hey, Rob.

MARCIANO: Hi, Kiran. Pretty dramatic video there. We had several reports of tornadoes and over 200 reports of severe weather last night and the reports continue to come in.

I want to give you an update on the tornado warning that was issued for Orleans Parish that has since been allowed to expire but still some gusty winds and some heavy rain and you bet there's some lightning with that storm moving up there or down the I-10 corridor.

Also Mobile County. This was a tornadic storm, according to the Doppler radar. They have since allowed it to expire. As my printer starts to flare up again.

All right. Here is the action coming in off the Gulf of Mexico. Moisture feeding into this very large system, and that is only adding more fuel to the fire. Thunderstorms that rolled through Chicago and Indianapolis are beginning to weaken as they press towards Ft. Wayne and Michigan.

But the discussion from the storm's prediction center saying this storm is so strong at both the surface and the upper levels, even though we're starting to see this batch weaken, the upper level is really back through here, we're seeing some clear skies breaking out as the sun comes up.

Because of that we'll likely get more severe weather breaking out this afternoon and the places under the gun will be Chicago east towards Detroit and south towards western parts of Ohio.

John and Kiran, back up to you.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks very much. Now to what's most popular at today. A French inventor says he knows what happened to Mona Lisa's eyebrows.

CHETRY: How about that? Well, we're joined again by our Internet correspondent Veronica de La Cruz with that and also we're going to look at something from Jib Jab. They did a funny video ...

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I've got a surprise for you guys. You're going to enjoy it.

CHETRY: Well, first of all, the eyebrows of Mona Lisa.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, think quick? Did she have eyebrows, eyelashes and do you remember ... CHETRY: There's a lot of debate about that. Was it supposed to be in the original painting?

DE LA CRUZ: I know. And the famous painting has always been shrouded in mystery and one of those mysteries, obviously, Kiran, like you just said. How about her eyebrows and lashes? Where did they go?

A new high image resolution shows a faint brush stroke of what could be an eyebrow hair and a French engineer has uncovered the mystery using a camera that he invented. He says he does see a faint image of what could have once been her eyebrow so they could have been there at one point. Da Vinci could have painted them and then through time they might have faded, so ...

CHETRY: Interesting because I think it's amazing that picture has lasted in such great shape as it has.

DE LA CRUZ: I know.

CHETRY: And have you ever seen it? It's like the size of a postage stamp.

ROBERTS: Yeah. It's tiny.

CHETRY: It's behind like a million layers of glass, so ...

ROBERTS: Now what about this latest Jib Jab.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes. I've got a surprise for you.

ROBERTS: Make it work for me.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, in our political section, has partnered with Jib Jab and the videos are all there on the page and the cool thing is that you can name star in your own funny, politically charged Jib Jab cartoon and John and Kiran, since I am the newest member to the AMERICAN MORNING family I've taken it upon myself to make this for you.

ROBERTS: Oh, thank you.

CHETRY: Oh, no.


ROBERTS (in cartoon form): Breaking news. An asteroid collided with a satellite in a debate tonight turning everyone watching into mindless Zombie Democrats. Do not try to reason with them.


CHETRY: I love it.

DE LA CRUZ: There you go. John, Kiran, even Ali Velshi makes a special guest appearance. These two videos are online right now. There is "Night of the Living Democrats" which features mindless liberal zombies rising from the grave.

Also there is "Night of the Living Conservatives" which features brainless conservative pols on the attack. So right in time for Halloween. You can take your pick.

ROBERTS: Wait a minute. Wait a minute, you've got me as a mindless zombie Democrat?

CHETRY: No, no, no. She made you as both. You were a mindless Democrat and then you were a mindless Republican.

ROBERTS: As long as I'm both, that's all I care about.

DE LA CRUZ: I'm not saying anything about you guys.

CHETRY: She's smart, though. She's already learned that if she didn't put Ali in there she would have heard from him in just a couple of minutes. Good job, Veronica.

ROBERTS: Very funny.

CHETRY: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Silly string is a big hit in children's parties and now 80,000 cans of the foamy stuff is making its way to Iraq. Meet the military mom behind the life saving mission.

Also, it's Thursday morning. That means that we're going to reach into Dr. Gupta's mailbag. Sanjay answers your questions when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Safeguard your trip on this week's "Road Warriors."

BARNEY GIMBEL, WRITER, "FORTUNE": If you're spending 10,000 a person to take a trek through the wilds of Africa and you get sick and have to cancel it, that's a good time to be insured.

On a major trip, traveler's insurance can buy you piece of mind, and that's sometimes worth paying for. It can be anywhere between five and 10 percent of your whole trip cost and it really varies widely what you're getting.

There's insurance for everything from canceled trips, lost bags, medical evacuations. You really have to be sure what you can't afford to lose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure you're not buying insurance for something that's covered by a policy you already have.

GIMBEL: There's really only a handful of major providers for travel insurance. The tour provider and your travel agent should be able to help you think about which one you use for which thing.


ROBERTS: On every Thursday here on AMERICAN MORNING we open up Dr. Gupta's mailbag and have him answer the questions that you've e- mailed to us.

CHETRY: That's right. And Sanjay is ready for us so we dive right into our first question.

And this one, Sanjay, comes in from Jack in South Carolina. He asks, "With steroid use, are long term health effects reversible after you stop using them or do they leave you with permanent damage?"

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a great question and the answer is both. There are some things that are reversible. For example, skin changes are reversible. Also liver tumors, which we talked about a lot in the past, those can actually shrink away when you stop steroids.

We've also talked about the effect on your psychological behavior and that's sort of a mixed bag because while some of the effects are reversible, what it often leaves a person with is depression once you stop the steroids.

Some of the effects on the heart, where it actually causes your heart to get big, something known as cardiomyopathy, some of that is not reversible and you can have some long term changes. It also, in men, can lead to a chronic high pitched voice as well, so that's something that's not reversible.

ROBERTS: All right. Here is something that is right up your alley, Dr. Gupta. John George in West Virginia asks our next question. He writes, quote, "I am having trouble researching ADHD and bipolar disorder. The two seem similar. Is it possible to have both?"

GUPTA: Well, the answer to the second part of your question is that it is possible to have both but there is a lot of confusion. It's a clinical diagnosis and sometimes some of the symptoms sort of overlap, thinks like inattention, hyperactivity, impulse disorder, those are all things that are associated with ADHD.

Specifically with bipolar you tend to get what are pretty dramatic mood swings so you can have intense euphoria sort of followed by manic depression. That's one of the big differences.

What's particularly difficult distinguish in kids is that sometimes a treatment can be very similar as well, so that may be some of the trouble, there. But those mood swings are one of the cardinal symptoms of bipolar.

ROBERTS: All right, Sanjay, thanks.

CHETRY: Well, we have time for one more question. This one comes from Angela. She has a question about gestational diabetes. She says my son was born when I was 40 and my son weighed over 10 pounds. I was never diagnosed with gestational diabetes but now feel that I may have had it." So Sanjay, what causes it and briefly, what exactly is gestational diabetes?

GUPTA: This is really interesting. Something we've looked at quite a bit in the past. Gestational diabetes means its diabetes, troubles with your blood sugar, at the time of pregnancy and this is something that is well-documented and what seems to happen more than anything else is some women, about three to eight percent of them, while they're pregnant, produce a hormone that makes their body resistant to insulin.

So the insulin that controls your blood sugar just doesn't work as well.

Now many women will actually just produce more insulin during that time period and not have a problem with diabetes but there are two groups of women who seem to be at risk. Women who are already overweight before they got pregnant and women who may have a family history of diabetes. They tend to be the most at risk.

Oftentimes the babies are born a little bit bigger in women who have gestational diabetes but the good news is almost immediately after the delivery, the diabetes goes away and the women don't need any further treatment.

ROBERTS: A lot of good information for us this evening, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Of course we're breaking medical news every week. A lot of you might have questions about it so make sure you get your e-mails in to Dr.Gupta's mailbag. We'll see you again next Thursday. Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks, guys.

CHETRY: All right. Well, a CNN special worldwide investigation that looks at global climate change and it's about to go global itself.

ROBERTS: It is. "Planet in Peril" debuts next week. Last night a star-studded premier was held in Hollywood. CNN's Kareen Wynter was on the red carpet.


KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm on the red carpet in Hollywood for the "Planet in Peril" premier where Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Jeff Corwin were partying with some pretty famous friends but before heading inside the trendy Roosevelt Hotel for the after party, Anderson chatted with us and why this is a must-see documentary.

COOPER: We wanted to go to the front lines in climate change and really find out what's really happening. What's happening in the Amazon, what's happening in Cambodia, what's happening in China, and how does all this affect us?

WYNTER: Inside the Roosevelt, well, the theme was green. We caught up with cyclist Lance Armstrong who came out to support the cause.

LANCE ARMSTRONG, BICYCLIST: Number one, I thought the content was amazing. I thought seeing the content in high def was even better. I mean, you have three very knowledgeable people in their own fields, in their own right so I thought it was great.

WYNTER: The celebration continued way into the night and you know, people were still talking about the documentary which officially premiers next week. I'm Kareen Wynter in Hollywood.


CHETRY: All right. Looks like it was a pretty fun time out there. Well, CNN's worldwide investigation of the Earth's environmental issues, "Planet in Peril" debuts next Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

ROBERTS: Some news just in to CNN. A spike in the number of people without a job in this country. New figures released by the Labor Department just a few minutes ago show 330,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week. That is 28,000 more than the week before. We have not seen a jump that big since last February and some analysts says this could be a sign that the labor market is starting to weaken around the mortgage meltdown. We'll see how the markets react to that news today.

CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away. Heidi Collins at the CNN Center now with a look at what's ahead. Morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good morning, John. That's right. We are watching severe weather. It's on the news rundown today. Tornadoes and damaging thunderstorms could pop up today in the South and Midwest. We're going to keep you posted on all the watches and warnings throughout the day.

Plus, thousands of people give former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto a hero's welcome. She returns to Pakistan today after years in exile.

And an Alabama man has a message for the president of Venezuela. Let's just say it rhymes with gas. Breaking news when it happens. You're in the NEWSROOM. Top of the hour right here on CNN. John?

ROBERTS: We'll see you then. Thanks, Heidi. Kiran?

CHETRY: There's some news about the flu vaccine in your "Quick Hits" now. A new study suggests the government could be overlooking children as it prepares for the next flu pandemic. Among the results of this study, only 100,000 anti-flu pediatric doses and there are no facial masks that can fit kids in the event of a pandemic.

The report was cosponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Well, your kids also the focus of an FDA hearing today concluding over the counter cold medication. An FDA panel looking at cold and cough medicine for children under the age of six. Drug companies have already recalled cough and cold medicines for babies.

ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, Silly String to Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get e-mail and cards from moms and wives who say put my son or daughter on your list because they want it.


ROBERTS: A mother's crusade to delivery Silly String to the troops is finally accomplished. Just why do our men and women overseas need it? Find out ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, score one for a mom who would not accept no for an answer.

ROBERTS: She heard from her son Todd who is an Army specialist serving in Iraq that Silly String can help soldiers on patrol detect trip wires for booby traps but because Silly String comes in an aerosol can it's considered a hazardous material and it took some doing to find a company to ship the 80,000 cans that she collected all the way to Iraq.

CHETRY: Finally happened. And so how did she do it? Well, Marcelle Shriver joins us now to more about it. Thanks for being with us.

ROBERTS: Good morning. Good to see you. And thank your son for his service, by the way.


CHETRY: And he is still over there. He is still serving.

SHRIVER: Yes. He is there until the middle of November.

ROBERTS: Back in time for Christmas?

SHRIVER: Absolutely.

ROBERTS: Fantastic.

CHETRY: That certainly is good news. Well, let's first of all talk about why it was important for the troops over there to have Silly String and we have a little quick demonstration.

They use this when they are just making sure that homes are not booby trapped, let's say, for bombs.

SHRIVER: Exactly. What they will do is they will stand about 10 feet back from a doorway and they'll spray it into a doorway. If it hangs up in mid-air, they know there is a trip wire, if it falls to the ground, there isn't anything. ROBERTS: You want to give it a whirl and let's see how it works. So let's pretend you're a soldier coming into a home, you're trying to clear the area. There you go. Look at that. You can see the string hangs up on what could be a trip wire.

Who first found out about this?

SHRIVER: Well, Todd is in the Army and he went out on a mission with some Marines and they were telling him about and he called Tom and told us about it.

ROBERTS: Those Marines, they're such inventive people.

CHETRY: And they really have had to do a lot of improvisation in Iraq figuring out what works for them. So why was it so hard to get this Silly String to the guys that made it over there?

SHRIVER: Well, Silly String is an aerosol and it's considered hazardous material. So when you're shipping that quantity it can't just go on a regular plane through the postal service. So that's where I had my problem.

ROBERTS: So you didn't have any problem collecting this, though, right? People donate 80,000 cans. You had a warehouse full of this stuff.

SHRIVER: Yes, I did.

ROBERTS: How did you eventually solve the problem?

SHRIVER: I did an article for the "New York Times" and a gentlemen from Northern New Jersey read the article, contacted the reporter, who contacted me and he and I talked it over and he thought he could help me.

CHETRY: And it finally made it happen. Interesting, though, one of the military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garber said that while your efforts are appreciated, the commanders decide which item troops need and that the spray is not as widely needed today as it was in the early stages of the war.

Of course you have son who you are in weekly contact with. What are they telling you about the need for Silly String?

SHRIVER: They are telling me that they do need it. I get e- mails and cards from moms and wives who say put my son or daughter on your list because they want it and they want it over there.

ROBERTS: And as anybody who has ever been to Iraq knows, there is so much improvisation that goes on by the members of the military who are over there designing little devices or applying something that might have a totally different purpose or in the case of Silly String, no purpose at all, to great effect.

CHETRY: Well, Halloween is right around the corner. It serves a purpose. SHRIVER: Well, if you're having a party over there, you can use it, too.

ROBERTS: Well, congratulations on your efforts. I mean, anything that we can put in the hands of the members of our military and maybe make them a little safer is very welcome. Marcel Shriver, congratulations ...

SHRIVER: Thank you.

ROBERTS: ... on finally getting this done and we hope that your son gets back safely.

SHRIVER: Thank you very much.

ROBERTS: You have a little picture of him on your dog tag.

SHRIVER: Yes I do. I wear it all the time.

ROBERTS: Home in time for Christmas.

CHETRY: Thanks, Marcelle.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes possible today in the Midwest and South.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returns to Pakistan from exile.

A Virginia school system reopens this morning following a thorough cleaning. We will tell you about the health concern there.

And the government may widen restrictions on cold medicines to cover more children. We'll tell you the targeted age groups.

NEWSROOM, just minutes away at the top of the hour on CNN.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Washington is well-known for hot air. This event is all about harnessing it. They're calling it the solar decathlon. Twenty teams from U.S. colleges here on the Mall competing to design and build the most efficient, most novel, coolest looking solar home of the future.

This one is called the leaf house.

JOHN KUCIR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: You have photovoltaic panels on the roof that collect sunlight just like a leaf. On the inside we have thoroughly insulated materials so if you're under a tree you keep cool.

O'BRIEN: The home was built by the team from the University of Maryland. The exterior walls are covered with living plants which leaves reduce water runoff. This house is modular, built from two shipping containers. The University of Colorado team says it can be easily mass produced.

This one from Texas A&M is made of prefab walls, floors and roofs that come with the solar collectors built in, that can be snapped together.

RICHARD KING, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: These schools of architecture have done wonderful work at designing buildings, putting them together so that the solar system (ph) is aesthetic and integrated.

O'BRIEN: The competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The winner will be picked this weekend. But the real goal is to bring some of these bright ideas from the National Mall to a shopping mall before too long. Miles O'Brien, CNN.



JAY LENO, "TONIGHT SHOW": Did you know about this? Did you find out ...

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) IL: I actually did know -- People had been doing these genealogical ...

LENO: Right.

OBAMA: Studies of me and I've got all sorts of rogues in my background. You're always hoping for kings and great leaders.

LENO: Right. Well ...


ROBERTS: Barack Obama last night on the "Tonight Show" responding to the news that he shares a distant relative with Vice President Dick Cheney.

CHETRY: Yeah, he got a little dig in there, didn't he?

Well, a final check now of this morning's "Quick Vote" question. Should schools be allowed to hand out birth control pills without parents knowing about it?

Well, cast your vote -- well, you actually did, so this is the final one. Right now 38 percent saying yes, 62 percent saying no and to all those who voted today, thank you.

ROBERTS: That's going to wrap it up for this AMERICAN MORNING. We hope to see you again on Friday right here on CNN.

CHETRY: That's right. Meantime, CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins starts right now.