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American Morning

President Meets with Congressional Leaders on Afghanistan Policy; Jon Gosselin in His Words; Banks May Raise Credit Card Rates Ahead of Legislation; Bank of America Won't Hike Card Rates; New Information on Swine Flu Vaccine; Protecting Yourself at Work: What to Do If You're Bullied or Threatened

Aired October 07, 2009 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: That brings us now to the top of the hour. Thanks for joining us in the Most News in the Morning. It is Wednesday. It's the 7th of October. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us. Here are the top stories this morning.

No troop withdrawals from Afghanistan for now. That's the word from president Obama after yesterday's meeting with top lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. But the president's not ready to decide on a war strategy moving forward just yet.

ROBERTS: Plus, bullying and threats in the office, the numbers show that they are on the rise. So how can you keep yourself safe while you're on the clock? We'll take a look at that and why some states are letting people keep guns in their cars when they go to work.

All of that ahead in our series, "When Coworkers Kill."

CHETRY: And the first batches of H1N1 vaccines roll out nationally. A lot of Americans, though, still are not sure how safe they are, where to get them, or if they want to even get them at all.

We've got Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, as well as our Sanjay Gupta on the case coming up.

But our top story this morning, war strategy for Afghanistan. It was exactly eight years ago today that former President Bush sent U.S. soldiers in to take out the Taliban.

Well, that hasn't happened, and after a rare bipartisan meeting yesterday with congressional leaders, president Obama made one commitment that he won't withdraw troops right now.

Dan Lothian is live at the White House. And Dan, the president was clear about that issue but not on whether or not we're going to add more troops yet.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, the president not ready to commit just yet, but the White House saying that a decision will come in a number of weeks. But there's mounting pressure for the president to make a decision. So today he sits down with his national security team. Again, this is the third of five planned meetings, this just one day after lawmakers left the White House seemingly divided over what they are willing to support.


GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. We will not waver. We will not tire. We will not falter. And we will not fail.

LOTHIAN: October 7th, 2001, America goes to war in Afghanistan. Eight years later with his own party and the American people wavering and the potential for failure, it is President Obama's conflict to win or lose.

And he's taking his time deciding the next step, meeting Tuesday at the White House with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, liberal Democrats clearly hesitant to ramp up the war effort.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: Let me just say where there was agreement, that it's a difficult decision for the president to make.

QUESTION: Could you imagine supporting thousands, tens of thousands more troops, Speaker?

PELOSI: No such hesitation from Republicans. They emerged with two themes -- the need to listen to military leaders who want more boots on the ground in Afghanistan, and the urgency of making a decision.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It's pretty clear that time is not on our side, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said. We need to act with deliberate haste.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MINORITY LEADER: We need to get this right, and I'm hopeful that the president will make a strong decision that will allow us to win this effort that was started many years ago.

LOTHIAN: Whatever decision the president makes, it will have strategic implications on the front lines and political ones here at home.

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER BUSH PRESS SECRETARY: I'm very curious to see which way he's going to go and decide on that. Major turning point for a Democrat president who might have to split from the liberal base who frankly would like to pull out of Afghanistan. We'll see.


LOTHIAN: But again, lawmakers who attended that meeting yesterday said the president made clear that pulling out of Afghanistan is not an option that's on the table. That's a message that's likely to anger fellow Democrats - Kiran.

CHETRY: Dan Lothian for us this morning at the White House. Thank you.

And so what was it like inside of that meeting with the president and congressional leaders? Coming up at the bottom of the hour we're going to ask two men who were there, Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican from Michigan and also the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, and also representative Ike Skelton, a Democrat from Missouri and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

ROBERTS: We are also hearing new details of the weekend attack by the Taliban that killed eight American troops in Afghanistan. Six of the fallen heroes were returned home yesterday in an emotional ceremony at Dover Air Force base.

Our Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon this morning. And Barbara, you've learned just how vulnerable these men were while stationed in a menacing chunk of terrain.

STARR: Absolutely, John. This group of U.S. army soldiers outmanned and outgunned by the Taliban fought and died to save each other.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: CNN has learned new details of the fierce battle that happened here at Forward Operating Base Keating -- 80 U.S. troops and Afghan forces were surrounded on all sides by high mountains shown in these 2007 photos obtained by CNN. Insurgents were hiding in the ridgelines.

A U.S. military official with access to the latest intelligence tells CNN it was about 5:00 a.m. when the attack began at the outpost near the village of Kamdesh. The U.S. believes about 200 local insurgents planned the assault for days, hiding mortars, rockets and heavy machine guns in the mountains.

The U.S. troops were extraordinarily vulnerable.

JOHN NAGL, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: Successful counterinsurgency strategy, you don't put small groups of soldiers over watching infiltration routes from Pakistan.

STARR: During the seven-hour firefight, attackers got inside the compound. Several sources describe intense, close combat as the U.S. troops fought to defend the base.

Within 30 minutes of calling for air support, Apache helicopters were overhead moving into the valley in waves, firing against enemy positions.

But the narrow valley, cloud cover, and billowing smoke from a fire that erupted at the base, made it tough to launch an effective counterattack.

MedEvac helicopters also had trouble getting in because the landing zone was under attack. It would take hours to evacuate the dead and the wounded. Even then some of the wounded troops didn't want to leave their buddies behind.


STARR: And this combat outpost, John, had actually been scheduled to shut down in the next few days. The belief is that the insurgents were watching the troops make the preparations to depart and struck at the most vulnerable time.

There are a number of other outposts also scheduled to shut down, and there's a lot of concern insurgents may be watching them as well -- John?

ROBERTS: Terrible story. Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Right now it's seven minutes after the hour.

And a stunning space discovery reveals Saturn's newest halo. NASA scientists spotted an enormous ring around the planet. They say by far it is the largest of Saturn's rings. How big is it? Its diameter is equal to 300 Saturns lined up side by side. It would also take about 1 billion earths stacked together to fill that ring.

ROBERTS: Now might be a good time to change your e-mail password. Tens of thousands of stolen user names and passwords from major services like Yahoo! Hotmail, and G-Mail have been posted online for everyone to see.

The webmail companies say the information was most likely stolen through so-called phishing schemes. That's where users are most likely duped into giving over personal information like bank account details or login names to fake Web sites.

CHETRY: Well, something good came out of David Letterman's mea culpa tour, I guess you could say, the other night -- monster ratings. Nearly 6 million viewers tuned in to Monday's show, Letterman's first since revealing that he had sex with female staffers and was being blackmailed because of it.

Letterman apologized to his wife, said he has a lot of work to do to heal that relationship, and also apologizing to his staff for his behavior.

His audience that night was more than double the number of people watching Conan O'Brien's "Tonight Show."

ROBERTS: It's like the MTV series "Jackass," right? A brilliant strategy, but don't try this at home.


CHETRY: Same for Conan, right? He got a concussion, Dave had a sex scandal. Which one rated better?

ROBERTS: Well, even if you've never seen an episode of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" in your life, you probably know the couple and their story. The tabloids have been tracking Jon's love life since the couple split.

Well, HLN's Nancy Grace was part of a panel with Jon Gosselin on "The Insider." And let's just say she got the chance to say what a lot of people are probably thinking.


JON GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR: I'm their father, and I will do what's best for my children.

NANCY GRACE, HOST: Oh, you got your lawyer here? You're afraid to answer questions? Whatever. What's important is the children and not these two self-absorbed husband and wife who argue constantly in front of their children.

GOSSELIN: I would love to be mom and dad. We're not going to be husband and wife.

GRACE: Hey, you talk the talk, but you don't walk the walk.

That's right. Actions speak louder than words. One female after the next while she's at home with the children and say you want to work it out. That's not working it out, Jon Gosselin.

GOSSELIN: I'm learning to break the pattern. I mean, I know I was passive. I know I was an avoider.

GRACE: Why is this always about you? Why are we talking about you? She asked you about your children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's an important part of the children.

Can he even speak without you piping in? I'd like to hear him. How does it always get back to you?

If you're looking for advice, don't sit up here and ask for it.


ROBERTS: Whoa, smack!

CHETRY: Yes, well, the couple's been fighting openly in the press over money, over whether or not the show is going to continue. And you know, a lot of people say they just feel bad for the eight kids.

Kate says that Jon took $230,000 from her joint checking account and that she can't pay her bills. Jon says she's lying. They both say they have the paper trails to prove it. So it continues.

ROBERTS: I just don't understand why they're fighting this out in public.

CHETRY: I don't know. I remember when the series first came out, and it was just this really interesting window and how the heck two people -- I mean, they went from -- I think he was pretty young at the time -- they went from having no kids to having eight in the course of just a couple years.

And how they did it, it was very fascinating. And they had a weird relationship, but they managed to sort of make it work.

And then everything went south. And now this is the unfortunate outcome.

ROBERTS: It doesn't seem to be going very well these days.

CHETRY: Not anymore, it doesn't. So the saga continues. As you said, Nancy Grace said what a lot of people were thinking.

ROBERTS: Oh, yes.

CHETRY: New information about major credit card interest rates. Christine Romans says you have to take a second look right now to make sure that you don't get quite a surprise in the mail.

It's 10 1/2 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: It's 13 minutes now after the hour.

Christine Romans back with us "Minding your Business" this morning, talking about banking fees.


And Bank of America says it has heard its customers loud and clear, and it is no longer -- it is not going to raise the interest rates or change the terms of your account ahead of those big rules that are coming into effect on February 1st.

In February it will be illegal for your bank to raise interest rates on your existing balance. Bank of America says that it is not going to do that. It will not be trying to preemptively change its rules before those rules.

We will continue, though -- this is what I think is incredibly important for people -- we will continue to re-price some customers who are late on two or more payments during 12 consecutive months which we disclose to customers up front in their credit card agreements.

So, look, if you are really a good customer, they're not going to raise your interest rate on your balance ahead of that February 1st deadline.

But if you have missed or late on two payments over the past year, can you expect they can do that. They have every right in their agreement to do that.

So for those of you -- and the past year has been very, very hard, remember. So some people likely have been -- think of themselves as good customers, but in the bank's eyes, you are not very good customers anymore.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, others want other companies to follow suit and do the same thing.

But I have talked to people. I've profiled a Bank of America customer recently who says that his interest rate was jacked up to 30 percent. A lot of people have seen their interest rates jacked up to 30 percent or their minimum payment has had to go up. People are outraged about all of this.

The banks told us when they passed the credit card bill of rights, the banks told us they would be raising rates and anybody who didn't have absolutely perfect, perfect history would see things change right away. And we have seen it.

It's a whole new world for your credit cards, folks. It's a whole new world. B of A is saying it's going to hold the line on credit card costs. But call me -- if they don't, just call me, please.

ROBERTS: Do you have you got a "Roman's Numeral" for us this morning?

ROMANS: I do -- $45 billion. This may have something to do with one of the reasons why Bank of America is telling members of Congress why it is not trying to rush out ahead of all of that.

CHETRY: This is how much money they make off fees and rates?

ROBERTS: Third quarter earnings?

ROMANS: Well, they almost make $45 million. No, this is the government bailout of Bank of America.


ROMANS: Ladies and gentlemen, we own a big chunk of this company. So it really hurts when you own a piece of a company, right, and then it turns around and raises your interest rate or gives you, slaps on a big fee.

Bank of America, also Bank of America and Chase, actually, recently, remember, had said that they were going to start capping their overdraft charges as well because people were just going through the roof about those things, too.

ROBERTS: We remember the woman on YouTube.

ROMANS: I know. I know. And Bank of America on YouTube, they did lower her interest rate. This was a woman, remember who went -- who just went ballistic on YouTube and said she wasn't going to pay -- she wasn't going to pay her balance because this bailed-out bank was not going to be able to raise her interest rate. So...

CHETRY: There you go.

ROBERTS: The Peter Finch of banking fees. Thanks.

CHETRY: Well, we are going to be talking about swine flu. A lot of myths out there, still a lot of questions about the vaccine. Should you get it? Should you give it to your kids? Is it safe?

We're going to be talking to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as well as our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta about what the recommendations are when it comes to swine flu.

Sixteen minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: Eighteen and a half minutes after the hour. Coming up at ten minutes' time, President Obama's crucial meeting about America's plan for Afghanistan. We're talking to two lawmakers who were at that meeting, Representatives Pete Hoekstra and Ike Skelton. Find out what the president said in that meeting in about ten minutes' time -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, thanks, John.

The first batches of H1N1 vaccines are available now, but surveys are showing that a large portion of the public is not sure if they should get vaccinated. They say they're worried about potential side effects and also think that the health warnings about swine flu are overblown.

So we've got the experts to help us sort through it all. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, joins us this morning, as well as our own Sanjay Gupta.

Good morning to both of you. Thanks for being with us.



CHETRY: And Sanjay is going to jump in and ask you some questions as well, Secretary Sebelius. But I want to start with this unscientific poll, I guess you could say in our office. A lot of parents here, and we're sort of going back and forth. About only half of the people think that they're probably going to get their kids vaccinated. And there's a similar study out of the University of Michigan showing only 40 percent of parents say that they're going to get their kids immunized against swine flu. What do you say to them?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think that I know there's a worry that this is a new virus and a new vaccine. The good news is it's being made exactly the way seasonal flu vaccine has been made year in and year out, Kiran. So we have millions of cases of data on the safety and security of seasonal flu vaccine. Children have gotten it forever. What they haven't gotten is the flu. So H1N1 is targeted at kids. We know kids are the likely victims and we know this vaccine is right on target with an immune response.

And you've got the great show-and-tell guy with you, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who unfortunately got H1N1 when he was overseas. And I think his own experience can dispel the myth that the flu is the flu is the flu.

This is a serious disease. And luckily I hope Sanjay is feeling well now. But people with underlying health conditions, playmates or classmates of kids who may have asthma, may have diseases can be seriously ill or potentially die. So this is something we're taking very seriously. And we hope parents will, too.

GUPTA: And, you know -- and thank you for your well wishes, madam secretary.

SEBELIUS: Yes. You feeling better?

GUPTA: I do. I feel back to 100 percent.


GUPTA: You know, it's an interesting message, I think, the fact that I had this virus, and I was knocked down for a couple of days. One thing that's a little bit confusing for me, and as far as messages go, do you consider this a mild illness for people like me?

I was sick for a couple of days but now feel fine. I mean, how do we, as reporters, I mean, sounding the panic buttons, or are you sort of saying, look, this is not that big a deal? What's the message here?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think, as you know, the flu is serious. A couple hundred thousand people are hospitalized every year. We have over 30,000 deaths every year from seasonal flu. So that's sort of the mild version of this.

We know this is a younger person's flu and that they have no immunity to this particular virus. And we know we have a vaccine right on target. So the adverse effects from getting the vaccine are far outweighed by the potential that you may be one in those cases that have a serious illness or potentially a death.

CHETRY: Right.

SEBELIUS: I just saw in Oklahoma City there a couple of kids in ICUs right now whose parents, I think, would have loved to have had the opportunity to have a vaccine and to take that risk...

CHETRY: And Secretary Sebelius, that actually brings up another point that I was wondering about. I mean, we get our seasonal flu vaccines now in anticipation of the seasonal flu coming a few months from now.


CHETRY: The swine flu has already hit. I mean, yesterday they were reporting, what, 27 states said they have widespread cases. So how effective is a vaccine that my child's pediatrician said she's probably not going to get until maybe November when the swine flu's hitting now?

SEBELIUS: Well, Kiran, the H1N1 has never gone away. It began in April. We saw waves of cases. It died down a little bit in the summer. And it's come back.

We anticipate that since flu season just officially started this week, we may see waves of this continue. What we're trying to do is get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, push this vaccine into states as it becomes available. And in the meantime, remind folks that there are steps to take to minimize sharing the flu, which is why they're going to be PSAs out today including Elmo talking directly to the kids about how to sneeze, keeping kids home when they're sick, staying away from other people when you're sick. We have to do everything simultaneously until we can get enough vaccine into the public domain and get everybody vaccinated.

GUPTA: And along those same lines, Secretary Sebelius, you know, when we talked back in July, you said you wouldn't consider making the vaccine mandatory. But based on the last few months and what we've learned, would you consider it specifically for health care workers? They're sort of the first line of immunity for sick people. Would you consider that?

SEBELIUS: Well, at HHS, we still believe that the vaccination campaign should be voluntary, but there's no question that local health departments, as they have in the past with seasonal flu, have taken the additional step and said that their workers, you must be vaccinated in order to come to work. There have been some pushback on that in some local regions, but I think that health care workers should be at the front of the line.

And you know, Sanjay, we talked about this. I was really stunned to find out that only about 40 percent of health care workers take advantage of the seasonal flu vaccine. If you talk about people who we need to be healthy and also hopefully who won't share germs with the patients they come in contact with, I'm hopeful that health care workers not only take up the seasonal flu, but get at the front of the line for H1N1.

CHETRY: Yes. All right. Well, I just want to ask you a quick question. Have you gotten the swine flu vaccine yet, Secretary Sebelius?



SEBELIUS: I'm not on the priority group, Kiran, but I'm going to be in line when, you know, it becomes available widely to the public.

CHETRY: And then, should Sanjay get it if he's already had swine flu, or does he not need to?

SEBELIUS: Well, what we've been told by the scientists, it's still probably a good idea even for people who may have been ill this fall or earlier this spring. It will keep you protected as the flu travels and mixes with seasonal flu. And so there's probably no down side. And there may be some additional protection you carry with you.

CHETRY: All right. A lot of good information today. And I want you to know that thanks to you, I cough in my elbow, and everybody sneezes in their elbow around me.

SEBELIUS: I'm so glad.

CHETRY: We don't want to get called out at one of those press conferences.

Secretary Sebelius, great to see you, and Sanjay, as always, thank you so much.

GUPTA: Nice to see you. Take care.

CHETRY: And for even more, Dr. Gupta has posted a parents' guide to dealing with the swine flu based on science and his interviews with experts all over the country. So check that out, He has some great practical information out there.

It's 25 1/2 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: It's 28 minutes past the hour right now. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

You know, all this week we've been investigating the threat of violence at work, kind of recognize the warning signs and what to do if it happens. Well, today we're talking about practical steps to keep yourself safe.

Alina Cho is here with part three of our series "When Co-workers Kill."

This has been in the news because of the Yale graduate story, the suspect in the killing of that researcher, Annie Le, in court this week.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what's interesting is those kinds of cases get the most attention, of course. But, you know, threats and assaults are actually up in the workplace, guys, you know. So what do you do?

You know, many people don't know this, but, you know, there's actually a government mandate that says employers must keep a safe working environment. But what does that mean exactly, and how do you even enforce that?

The truth is many don't. And threats at work are on the rise. So what exactly can you do to protect yourself?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911. What is your emergency?

CHO (voice-over): In just the past few years, a factory worker in Kentucky goes on a shooting rampage, killing five co-workers before killing himself. A transit worker guns down two co-workers in San Diego. And in Connecticut, police accuse a lab technician of strangling a Yale University student and fellow employee. These fatal incidents get the most attention, but workplace violence, threats and assaults can happen to anyone.

LARRY BARTON, PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN COLLEGE: You know what you and I experienced as children in the schoolyard has migrated its way now into corporate America. We are seeing more people that are acting as jerks. They are bullies. They are yelling and ranting and raving.

CHO: So how do you protect yourself? Experts say defuse the situation before the problem escalates. Their advice, lesson one, let the angry co-worker vent.

BARTON: Sometimes just giving them the dignity of allowing them to talk for a couple of minutes can have a profound impact and all of a sudden it gets back to normal.

CHO: Sometimes it doesn't. Lesson two, speak up.

JONATHAN BEST, CRISIS CONSULTANT: If they feel that they're being intimidated or they're frightened, they need to verbalize that. And they need to know that somehow the company's going to step up.

CHO: Tell a supervisor or the HR department. And if you feel the threat is imminent, go directly to police. Experts say some workers are lulled into a false sense of security at work. Lesson three, have a plan.

BEST: If I had to suddenly run out of here, how would I do that? Know how to notify someone. No way, know where you would hide. Know where the dead ends are.

CHO: But some feel this just isn't enough. Like J.R. Cardenas who brings his gun to work following a so-called parking lot law that took effect last week in Arizona. One of nearly a dozen states that allows licensed gun owners to bring a firearm to work as long as it's locked in their vehicle.

J.R. CARDENAS, KEEPS GUN IN CAR WHILE AT WORK: If I was to come to work and I feel threatened and I see somebody coming in to try to harm another person and on top of that going ballistic on other people, of course, I am going to use my gun and I am going to protect myself and the safety of others.

CHO: Cardenas works at an amusement park.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My concern is that we're heading into the OK corral. Having weapons at work and actually empowering people to do that I think is a very dangerous proposition.

CHO: Which brings us to what experts say is the most important lesson, use your intuition. If you feel something's wrong, it probably is.


CHO: Two million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. In fact, the number of threats and assaults, as I mentioned I bit earlier, is skyrocketing. Listen to this. Up 30 percent in just the past year. And experts say the bad economy is contributing. People are feeling more stress at work, guys. And in some cases they are taking it out on their co-workers. Not good.

But I wanted - this really struck us in the newsroom. You know, you hear about these most dramatic cases, you know, like the case at Yale University. Those get a lot of attention. You know, gun violence, knife violence, people getting strangled. But you guys want to take a crack at what the most common weapons are at work?

ROBERTS: Stapler?

CHO: People laughed when we heard that, but that's true. A stapler is actually - stapler and phone, two and three. Number one weapon at work?

CHETRY: Pencil.

CHO: Your first.

ROBERTS: Really?

CHO: But what's interesting, guys, is the experts say in cases where people are victims of workplace violence, there are often signs. In 82 percent of cases, there are signs. And you should look out for them. For instance, maybe somebody has a dramatic change in personality. Maybe they're crying at work. Maybe they've been gone for three days with no explanation. You know they say in most cases it doesn't just happen out of the blue. There are signs and you should watch for them.

CHETRY: And it is scary because in some of those cases you talked about people who were let go, they left and they came back to their old workplace. I mean, what do you do in that type of situation?

CHO: That's right. And message for employers, of course, this was yesterday's piece, message for employers is, you know, maybe firing that person who is at risk, so to speak, isn't the best course of action. I mean, it's a tough place to be. Maybe you can try to work with that person. But, you know, when do you not do that? When can you not rehabilitate that person? That's a big question, too.

CHETRY: Alina Cho, thank you.

CHO: You bet. CHETRY: We're crossing the top of the hour, bottom of the hour right now. Here are the top stories.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are both meeting with Chicago's mayor later this morning. Mayor Richard Daley expected to ask for more federal money to hire extra police officers. Some of those officers could be dedicated to covering Chicago schools. As we've been talking about here on CNN, 40 children have been killed in violent crimes across the city of Chicago so far this year.

ROBERTS: Airlines are doing a better job of getting you where you need to be on time. The Transportation Department says nearly 80 percent of flights arrived when they were supposed to in August. That's up more than two percent since July. The big airier, Southwest, has the best on-time record. And honors for the first of the worst go to Northwest and Airtran.

CHETRY: Well, coast to coast fewer high schools and middle schools are selling candy and salty snacks to your kids. The CDC finding the biggest drops were across the south. On average the number of schools selling sodas and sugary drinks also dropped from 62 percent to 37 percent.

ROBERTS: President Obama says that he is not going to withdraw troops from Afghanistan right now. But he is also not ready to commit more of them. Yesterday the president met with congressional leaders from both parties at the White House. He's trying to decide on a war strategy moving forward. Two people who were in that meeting are joining us now.

Representative Pete Hoekstra, he is a Republican from Michigan, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee. He is on Capitol Hill, and Representative Ike Skelton, democrat from Missouri and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He's in our Washington Bureau this morning.

Congressman Hoekstra, let's start with you. The president said that he would not substantially reduce forces in Afghanistan or shift the mission to just hunting terrorists. He also said that he wouldn't commit to a troop increase. How strong was the argument in that meeting to not increase the number of troops in Afghanistan?

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: Well, I think as the president listened to the leadership on a bipartisan basis, I think what he saw is that there were a range of opinions. Going, you know, from follow the recommendations of your general, General Stan McChrystal to others who outlined different strategies.

I think what the president now needs to do, he needs to take the time so that he's comfortable with the decision that he is - that he needs to make. What he then needs to do is to make sure that he leads and leads boldly in a mission that needs to be successful, outline his case to the American people, and then align all of our resources, militarily, intelligence, reconstruction to execute the strategy that he selects. We need him to lead now. ROBERTS: Congressman Skelton, Senator John Kerry who was in that meeting yesterday as well said it would, "be irresponsible to send more troops until it becomes clear," what is possible in Afghanistan. You're kind of rare among Democrats because you believe that General Stanley McChrystal should be given the forces that he needs, that he wants, to do the job. Why do you hold that position?

REP. IKE SKELTON (D), MISSOURI: Well, if you look at history, I can think of no incident where holding back forces and reducing forces are limiting your forces led to a successful mission, led to victory. And I really think that the president's going to have to listen to General McChrystal. He's his man. He's his pick. You see, this is a matter of national security. These are the people, and they are harbored by the Taliban in that area. These are the people that not once but five times attacked us and caused deaths.

And I think we have to do our very best to make this mission successful. And General McChrystal is the one to lead it. And I think the president has a good deal of confidence in him.

ROBERTS: Congressman Skelton, what do you think happens in Afghanistan if General McChrystal doesn't get those 40,000 troops he's looking for?

SKELTON: Well, I think there will be a major problem with the Afghan people. They are looking for us to succeed. They don't like the Taliban. They've lived under them. But they also know that they're there and pose a serious threat.

ROBERTS: Congressman Hoekstra, there has been a sort of a middle ground floated as well. Maybe giving General McChrystal 10,000 troops as opposed to the 40,000 that he wants. Senator McCain yesterday coming out of that meeting warned against that. Senator McCain said, "half-measures is what I worry about." If the general on the ground, and again, as Congressman Skelton said, this was President Obama's pick to run the mission there in Afghanistan, if the general on the ground says he needs 40,000 troops, does it make any sense to short him on resources?

HOEKSTRA: Well, if the president is going to short him on the resources that he's asked for, then what the president needs to do is he needs to outline a very, very different strategy.

You know, General McChrystal has outlined a strategy, said that for this strategy, I need 40,000 troops to be successful. If the president is going to resource him differently, then the president has to say, well, I'm not going to buy into your strategy. I have a different strategy that I think that you can accomplish with 10,000 soldiers, here are the outcomes that I expect that you are going to get.

He can't resource him short and then expect him to carry out the mission that he outlined. There needs to be a consistency there.

ROBERTS: What do you think about that, Congressman Skelton? It has been said, and these are not people who are military people, people outside of the military who say that, you know, the commanders ask for the moon and the stars. And maybe they'll get the moon and be able to deal with that, but they know that there's that chance. Does it make any sense to you to not give General McChrystal the resources that he really wants, really thinks he needs?

SKELTON: It really doesn't. You see, the president outlined a strategy in March. And for all intents and purposes, that's when the war started. It was under resourced then basically because of our involvement in Iraq. And now the war has started under a strategy, under a hand-picked general who understands this type of warfare.

General McChrystal has a strong background in special operations. And when he makes a recommendation or request, I think the president should hear him loud and clear. Second place doesn't count in this contest.

ROBERTS: Congressman Skelton, finish this off here. A lot of emphasis right now on force protection in Afghanistan. General McChrystal wants to change that. He wants forces to get out there with the Afghan people, offer them more protection. Could potentially put them at much greater risk than they are at now, and they're at great risk now. What do you say to your constituents back home in Missouri when you say we may have more casualties here if we pursue General McChrystal's strategy?

SKELTON: I think also it's overlooked that this would help bring about a stronger relationship with the Afghan people. If you work with them, protect them and they know you're there protecting them and making their lives safer, I think it will help tremendously.

ROBERTS: Yes, but what do you say to your constituents back home, that there may be more American soldiers, more American Marines who come back in coffins?

SKELTON: It's a sad thing when that happens, of course. But it is in the national security interest - remember, these are the people that plotted and planned and carried out not one but five attacks on us. And we have to quell that.

ROBERTS: Congressman Ike Skelton, Congressman Pete Hoekstra, it's great to catch up with you this morning. Thanks so much for joining us to talk about yesterday's meeting. Really appreciate it.

HOEKSTRA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Twenty minutes now to the top of the hour.



ROBERTS: Good morning, Miami, where it's an absolutely gorgeous day. Mostly sunny and 78. Later on today typical afternoon thunderstorms with a high of 92. There are some places in the country where it's still nice and warm. CHETRY: Yes, how about that? And maybe there are some places that have sharks swimming off the waters or in the waters off the coast. Perhaps.

Welcome back to the most news in the morning. You know our Rob Marciano often goes on the road and he reports live for us here on AMERICAN MORNING.

ROBERTS: This morning he's in Virginia Beach. You know, we've been talking over the last couple of months about great white sharks being spotted off of the coast of Cape Cod. Rob's down there with some shark researchers trying to figure out why there are so many sharks near the coast.

Rob, do they have any answers yet?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they've got some explanations. And some of the sharks we saw yesterday gave them some reasons for encouragement. Those great whites that showed up on the coast of Cape Cod this summer, boy, got a lot of people on the beach and scientists in general raising their eyebrows. So we linked up with this research team. It's the only continuous shark-monitoring program here in the country. And we didn't come across any great whites, but yesterday's trip sure was interesting.


MARCIANO (voice-over): Sunrise in October along the mid-Atlantic coast. It's the last trip to find sharks before the winter storms set in. The ocean's most feared predators are migrating to deeper waters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's our depth here, Duran?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're at about 58 feet.

MARCIANO: Virginia Institute of Marine Scientists are fishing for answers.

TRACEY SUTTON, VIRGINIA INSTITUTE OF MARINE SCIENCES: What we're trying to do is understand changes in abundance of sharks and also try to understand if there's any differences in their behavior.

MARCIANO: And recently the sharks seem to be acting differently. Five great white sharks spotted off the coast of Cape Cod. Tracey Sutton thinks he knows why.

SUTTON: It might be a reflection of changes in their prey. So - so if seal abundance increases, then the white sharks will generally follow their prey.

MARCIANO: An equally (ph) aggressive bull shark apparently killed a man while he was swimming off the North Carolina coast less than a month ago. But Sutton's job is to find out where the sharks go, how many, and why, so his team goes fishing. Bait and hooks... SUTTON: You ready (ph)?

MARCIANO: ... and long line in (ph). The baited hooks hang for four hours, then they reel them in. Not all sharks are big. Some aren't even sharks. Check out this huge stingray.

SUTTON: Grab that tail.

MARCIANO: The sharks get measured, tagged and immediately released so they can be tracked in the future.

MARCIANO (on camera): This is the seventh animal they've pulled out of the water. Out of seven animals, that's only the second repeat species - a huge variety. They're even impressed by that. I guess they're thinking it's fall (ph), this is seemingly the highway for migrating fish. Now they think they got a shark at the end of this line. Let's check it out.

MARCIANO (voice-over): This one is the largest catch of the day. Sutton wrestles the dusky to the deck, eventually subduing the animal so it can be recorded and released. Soon after, another shark is caught, pinned on the deck, its razorlike teeth reminding us these predators are dangerous - near the top of the ocean's food chain. But Sutton puts things in perspective.

And people shouldn't be scared of sharks?

Sutton: No, no. No. We - we tend to encroach on their environment, so we're - we're a much bigger threat to sharks than they are to us.


MARCIANO: You know, explaining how sharks act - kind of the way people act. With people, you want to figure it out, you follow the money. With sharks, you follow their prey. And those great whites likely showed up on the coast of Cape Cod because the seal population is increasing there.

When people come in contact with sharks, when they're attacked by sharks unprovokedly, it's usually by mistake because they don't want to eat people. Here in the US, though, because so many people are now living by the coast, it just increases those chance encounters. Yesterday - last year, once again, we led the world with 41 unprovoked attacks here in the U.S.

Storm coming in yesterday cut our trip short. It's here now. Winds across the northeast, so be aware of that, and some rain and thunderstorm across the south will slow down travel. But as far as these sharks are concerned, Kiran, they're - they're really remarkable creatures to - to witness up close.

CHETRY: Oh, I imagine. Just seeing them here is good enough for me, though, I'll tell you that. Pretty cool stuff, though, Rob. Thanks.

Well, still ahead, we're talking about whether or not quitting smoking can be - is as easy as getting a vaccine.

ROBERTS: Wouldn't that be nice if it were...

CHETRY: Nicotine vaccine...

ROBERTS: ... where you tried gum, even antidepressants, the nicotine patch, some of those inhale things. A vaccine would be a major step forward.

CHETRY: Well, Sanjay Gupta is going to be talking about whether or not they're getting closer to that and whether or not this is going to help people who are trying to kick the habit.

Forty-eight minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Millions of people try to quit smoking every day, but experts say nicotine is the toughest addiction to break. It's even more difficult than heroin.

CHETRY: Well, now a new vaccine is in the works that may block nicotine from ever reaching your brain, and it's supposed to help people quit smoking once and for all. We're paging our Dr. Gupta this morning to see if this really is the breakthrough it sounds like it could be. Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us from Atlanta.

And so, Sanjay, if this is - if this works, it would be great. How would it work?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it would be great. Obviously, a lot of attention on this because of the reasons you guys just mentioned. It is early, still. This is still in clinical trials - I want to state that off the top - and it's probably not going to work perfectly for everybody.

But, to your point, let me give you an idea of what we're talking about here - a vaccine for nicotine. First of all, someone takings a puff of the cigarette here, and the process that I'm describing to you now takes place over just a minute. These "N"s in here? That's the nicotine. It crosses through the blood, and eventually - right here you have something known as the blood/brain barrier. Heard of that? The nicotine just crossed over there. Nicotine can do that, which makes this so addictive. It binds here, releases a hormone known as dopamine, and that makes people feel good. That is part of the reason this is so addictive.

Now, we're talking about the vaccine specifically here. Let me just show you quickly what's different. Again, same puff of smoke, but now you have what are known as antibodies in here that are slowly binding to the nicotine receptors. You're in the blood stream, you're trying to get into the brain here, you simply can't do it because you have these antibodies bound to the nicotine. And that's basically what we're talking about. That's how a vaccine works in this particular case. But, again, I want to stress we're reporting this to you very early in clinical trials. It's not ready yet for prime time.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, how long does this work for is the question. If you - you had the vaccine, does that mean that you'll never crave nicotine ever again?

DR. GUPTA: Well, in - in these trials so far, it doesn't seem to work forever. In fact, the way that they tested it, they sort of used six months as an end point, trying to see if they can keep people sort of smoke-free for about six months.

Part of the reason that's important is they think if they keep someone smoke-free for six months, they are less likely to go back to smoking again. But, again, this doesn't - at least from what we're reading, John - doesn't seem like a life long vaccination. It's possible that people would need more vaccination down the line, and they still got to work out exactly what kind of side effects there'd be in larger populations. In small populations, the side effects seem to be pretty minimal.

ROBERTS: All right. Sanjay Gupta for us this morning, with some promising medical news. Doc, thanks so much.

Well, you know, we're trying to get people to eat more healthy foods, and it's - but part of that, the City of New York instituted an ordinance that all fast food restaurants have to post the calorie content of meals at fast food restaurants, and some people take a look at that and they say, "Oh my God! I can't eat something that's that - that high in calories." But is everybody getting the message?

That's the question that we have this morning, and we'll check it out. Our Jason Carroll is looking into the fast food craze in New York City and whether or not knowing what's inside helps you make healthier choices.

Fifty-three minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Good morning New York City. A shot of Columbus Circle out here, just outside of the CNN World Headquarters here in New York. The (INAUDIBLE) are cloudy and 64. Later on today, rainy, windy, a high of only 67 - not the best of days today here in New York.

Well, welcome back to the most news in the morning. If you live in New York City and you've been through the drive-through in the past year or you'd gone inside at the counter, you know why they sometimes refer to it as a Whopper.

CHETRY: I don't think there's drive-thrus in actual Manhattan.

ROBERTS: Well, unless somebody accidentally climbs the curbing, goes through the front of the fast-food restaurant, then maybe there would be. CHETRY: Then there would be. All right. Well, the city was the first to start making chain restaurants post calorie their counts on their menus and others have followed, and it's - the real idea was to force people to maybe think twice before super-sizing something. So, has it actually helped?

Jason Carroll is taking a look. Now, John and I were talking about it downstairs in the newsroom and we both did think twice - he was at the airport, he was going to eat a Whopper, and he said, "No way."


CHETRY: And I thought twice about some sort of...

ROBERTS: It was about 1,000 calories.


ROBERTS: That's just nuts.

CHETRY: And the salt intake's as much sodium as you need for a week. But it tastes so darn good.

CARROLL: Yes. You know, actually - here's the deal. I mean, researchers went out there to look - to see if these public postings of these calories is working. Mixed results here. You know, there are a lot of cities out there considering calorie counting proposals as a way to fight obesity. But one study shows labels and laws alone may not be enough to break old eating habits.



CARROLL (voice-over): Some in the Big Apple aren't cutting down on fries and shakes. Their desire to eat fast food is stronger than their will to cut calories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have high cholesterol and I've got to watch my health. I ordered, like, two four-piece nuggets and a cheeseburger.

CARROLL: New York City tried to cinch expanding waistlines, enacting a law last year forcing restaurant chains to publicly post calories on their menus. Researchers like Brian Elbel at New York University's School of Medicine say the law may not be enough.

BRIAN ELBEL, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: It's not going to be a slam dunk here.

CARROLL: A recent NYU/Yale University study found 54 percent of those questioned noticed the posted calorie count, 25 percent said, as a result, they made healthier choices. But when researchers check receipts, most of the customers were ordering foods with more calories than the typical customer before the labeling law. In other words, what people read...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does make a difference when I'm looking at the calorie count.

CARROLL: ... and what they do, or in this case, eat...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But once in a blue moon, I have to have a Big Mac, and so the calorie count makes no difference to me whatsoever.

CARROLL: ... can be much different.

CARROLL (on camera): They say, yes, this label matters to me, but I'm still going to eat those French fries.

ELBEL: Yes, yes. Yes. So there's a very interesting disconnect there.

CARROLL (voice-over): What's causing the dietary disconnect? Researchers suspect it's a combination of taste, cost - fast foods can be less expensive than healthier options - and convenience. But the city's Health Department says because researchers were limited to some 1,000 customers in poorer neighborhoods, the results may not be accurate.

CATHY NONAS, DIRECTOR, NYC NUTRITION PROGRAM: So I think there's still a lot of information to be gleaned. This is a small, you know, study, and there are many more to come as the regulation proposals go through in other cities and other states.

CARROLL: Cities such as Seattle and Portland have also enacted calorie-posting laws. Philadelphia and Nashville are among more to follow. For some, it has made a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually compare the - the calorie count that they list and make my decision based on the calorie count. So it actually has changed my behavior dramatically.


CARROLL (on camera): OK. Well, the researcher we spoke to says label laws can be a good thing, but in order to get better results, he says cities may need to do more education about making healthy choices and provide more healthy alternatives in urban areas. And, again, this particular study focused in on urban neighborhoods here in the city.

CHETRY: Yes. I mean, you don't have your local farmers market around the corner.

CARROLL: Right. And, you know, one of the other things that they point out is, and Christina just off-camera here was bringing out a point, which is, not only that, but you've got to make it cost effective. You've got to make, you know, choices available for people that they can afford.

CHETRY: The cheapest thing to feed your family with is often the worst for you to feed your family with.


CHETRY: And that's simply the choice that people have to make especially if two parents are working or single parent family.

CARROLL: It would be very difficult.

ROBERTS: Yes, you can get a fast food hamburger for a couple of bucks. But chicken sandwich or a turkey sandwich would be what, $6, $7.


ROBERTS: Absolutely. All right.

CHETRY: Jason, thank you.