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Venezuelan President Gives Away Homes; Drought And Your Grocery Bill; Bus Explosion in Bulgaria; Bomb Kills Top Syrian Officials; Security Holes at U.S. Flight Schools; ACLU Sues Michigan Over Non- Performing Schools; Romney Stumping in Ohio, Ready to Pick V.P.; Canadians Now Richer Than Americans for 1st Time; FDA Announces BPA Ban in Baby Bottles, Toddler Cups
Aired July 18, 2012 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Suzanne Malveaux and this hour in the CNN NEWSROOM, we're going to tell you how the worst drought that America has seen in 50 years is affecting our crops, our economy, even our pocketbooks.
Plus, the fight to the White House takes Mitt Romney and two possible V.P. candidates to Ohio.
And the FDA bans a chemical from baby bottles, so why are adults still living with it? We're going to get right to it.
Crops, wilting in the fields, cattle ponds drying up, there is no relief in sight from the historic drought that is affecting more than half the country. Concerned about the drought reaching farms as far as the Midwest, all the way to the White House, President Obama met today with the agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack to discuss what is taking place. Thirty-nine more counties have been declared disaster areas, brings the total to almost 1,300. We're taking an in-depth look at the impact of the drought. We're going to show you what is doing to the crops ,especially the corn, also, how it's affecting farmers and we're going to tell you what it means for the food budget, and you're likely to see some prices go up as well. The drought is taking a devastating toll on the crops, especially corn. Now, the agriculture department is saying that almost 40 percent of the corn planted across the country is in poor or very poor condition, that is compared to just 11 percent this time last year. I want to bring in Rob Marciano, he is trudging through the corn fields, talked with the farmers, he is in Burnettsville, Indiana. Rob, I see you there in the corn fields, just tell us what you've been seeing. How bad is it?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you can see, Suzanne, it's pretty sparse. I mean, of all of the states that are in the cornbelt, Indiana has been hit the hardest with the heat, and with the drought. I mean, just yesterday, Indianapolis hit another record high of 101 degrees, and the last 46 days, they've had less than one-tenth of an inch of rain, that breaks a record. There was a quick shower that came down here, we're just about an hour and a half, two hours north of Indianapolis. But that really isn't going to help . I mean, you need literally feet of rain. But in many cases, it may be, you know, too little, too late. We've been talking to farmers all morning, and, obviously they're struggling with this. They haven't had a drought like this since 1988. Here's what -- here's what the folks who own this land had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SCOTT: The news keeps referring to the drought of 88, and I guess at this point we think we're probably better at this date, but we have potential to be much worse until we get major rainstorms coming through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: So, they need major rain. That's not going to happen today, we'll probably be close to 100 degrees again. Take a look at this, Suzanne. This is what you would expect corn to look like, at least this time of year, maybe another month of ripening, boom, that's beautiful stuff.
MARCIANO: And this is hard to find I this crop. This is what it looks like more prevalent. So, the guys are telling me their crop this year, 30 to 50 percent, somewhere in there right now, and that's if they hold on to everything they have. So, you can imagine the distress that they're enduring while this is going on. One of the undersecretaries of agriculture is going to come right to this spot in just a few minutes, actually next hour, and talk to the farmers and other officials to see what kind of federal help maybe that they can offer in this disaster.
MALVEAUX: I was going to ask, Rob, I mean, if they do finally get a break and they get some rain here, does it matter all that much? Is it too late to actually salvage some of these crops for this season?
MARCIANO: Yes, well, it would help -- it would help them to hold on to what they have, but for, you know, ears like this, that may not have been pollinated yet, I mean, they're done. So, therein lies the problem, but they will take it. You know, they will get some federal assistance from some low interest loans, but a lot of the guys have insurance for this such occasion. It has in recent years in the past, and hopefully they have been conservative in saving some of that money. But this story goes well-beyond just the farmers that are affected here. It goes to me and you, what we're going to pay at prices at the grocery stores. It goes to the cattle ranchers and the -- and the pig farmers It's a big deal in now well over 1,000 counties under the federal disaster declaration, and no major rain storm release in sight.
MALVEAUX: Yes, a very big deal. Thank you, rob. The governor of Illinois, he's calling the drought a national disaster of epic proportions. It is certainly one for the history books, more than half of the country is experiencing drought conditions. It is the largest drought since 1956. How'd it get so bad so fast? Well, Chad McNutt, he is the deputy director of the national integrated drought information system. He is joining us via Skype from Boulder, Colorado. And first of all, thanks for be with us. Tell us, were there any signs that we knew this kind of thing was coming? CHAD MCNUTT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTEGRATED DROUGHT INFORMATION SYSTEM (via Skype): I think we saw, initially, when we started to develop in El Nino back in 2010, and then -- and again, we developed La Nino back in 2011. We saw these conditions sort of on the -- on the horizon. It's difficult to sort of forecast the extent and the size and the intensity of the drought, but we do have -- we do have things like La Nina and El Nino to give us sort of a early -- an early warning of the conditions.
MALVEAUX: Tell us about what makes this so historic. Put this into perspective for us.
MCNUTT: Well, it's large in extent. This was sort of touched off by temperatures -- we've had above average temperatures over the past year. It's severe but it's certainly not unprecedented as was mentioned earlier. The 56 drought is somewhat comparable, and we certainly had a very severe drought, of course, ,in the 30s. So, it is -- it is bad, but it's certainly not unprecedented.
MALVEAUX: We have got some pictures a CNN producer took who flew over the Mississippi River this morning. We can see where the river appears actually to be shrinking here. What does that tell you about just how tough this is?
MCNUTT: Well, when it is to the point of actual large rivers like the Mississippi declining in the stream flow, that tells us that we have reached sort of another stage of drought, that it's not just based on the rainfall, but there's a number of other factors like the temperature and that it's been somewhat prolonged. So, it is -- it is definitely another stage of drought, and as I said, it is -- it is severe. So, it's something that we need to keep monitoring.
MALVEAUX: Do we know how long it will actually take to recover from the kinds of drought conditions we are faced with now?
MCNUTT: Well, I think we're probably not going to see anything until the fall or the winter. . It looks like we're setting up into an El Nino pattern which typically, I the past for example, the 50s drought was really -- we were brought out of it by going into this El Nino pattern which brought lots of moisture into Texas, so it's very -- it's a very good sign that we're going into the El Nino right now. And very likely in the winter, we may see the conditions improving.
MALVEAUX: All right, Chad, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
MALVEAUX: It's not just farmers getting hit by the drought. We all feel the effects on the grocery bills. Alison Kosik, she's joining us. And Alison, where are we likely to see higher prices?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: OK. So, you'll expect to see those higher prices at the meat counter and in the dairy isle, and here is why, because corn which is being impacted by this drought, if a key component of the feed that goes to the cow to feed the chicken and the pig. So, if it's more expensive to feed them, it sort of rolls downhill that the food coming from these animals is going to cost more. So you know, that means that the average cost of beef which rang up at $4.35 a pound last year, could jump more than 40 cents this year.
But just remember, this would not happen overnight, that maybe we would see this sort of happen maybe at the end of this year, at the beginning of next year. And it's actually, Suzanne, the farmers who are really going to feel this impact more than the average consumer. One of the analysts at Bank of America says outside of the decline in farm production and the brief pop in food prices that we may see, it's not going to really have a huge impact on the broader economy. And let me give you a really interesting comparison why, listen to this. Compare the spike in corn prices to a jump in oil prices. Because when oil prices go up, we see our gas prices go up and we feel it almost, bang, immediately. And that's because crude oil makes up 66 percent of the price of a gallon of gas.
But with food it's much different. In a typical box of cereal, let's say, only four percent of the cost that's in there is determined by what's in the box, the corn and the wheat. So, half of what you pay for, Suzanne, in that box of cereal, is marketing, it's advertising, grocery store costs like stocking fees. Who knew? So, you wouldn't see as big of an impact.
MALVEAUX: And what about the corn exports? How would that be impacted if you -- if you saw an overall decline?
KOSIK: Well, if you look at how much corn we've exported, we actually exported more corn last year compared to 2010. Even with that, corn only accounts for one percent of all U.S. exports. So, if you throw in meat and dairy exports, it only comes out to a total of 2.5 percent. So again, the overall economy is not expected to take too much of a hit from the effects of the drought. But it's really going to be tough for farmers but because demand has been so strong for corn around the world, farmers actually plant ahead, they planted more corn than usual. That may offset the effects of the drought. All that being said, I can certainly say that farmers are still praying for rain at this point -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: All right, we'll pray right along with them. Thank you, Alison.
Here's what we're working on for the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX (voice-over): A deadly attack kills top Syrian officials. Now defense secretary Leon Panetta weighs in with America's decision.
Mitt Romney is selling himself to voters in Ohio, and so are two of the potential running mates. I'll take a closer look at the VPstakes (ph).
And the chemical BPA is now officially banned in baby bottles, but what is that same chemical doing to adults? I will talk to a group that says it is seriously hurting our health.
MALVEAUX: (INAUDIBLE) breaking news story. We are getting word that at least three people were killed in an explosion on a bus outside of Burgess Airport, that is in Bulgaria. Now, the Israeli foreign ministry has said that the explosion occurred on a bus carrying Israeli tourists, and that there are several casualties. So, you can take a look at the pictures coming through now. Joining us by phone Bulgaria's BTV anchor, Venelin Petcov. He is in Sophia, Bulgaria. What do we know about this attack? Do we know if it was a terror attack?
VENELIN PETKOV, ANCHOR, BULGARIA BTV (via telephone): Hi. First of all, nobody has officially confirmed that this is a terrorist attack yet, but these are the -- but this is what everybody proposes, because the explosion occurred in the luggage compartment of that bus, so everybody is speculating that nothing could explode there but a bomb put in one of the bags. So the official version as of now is that, yes, it's probably a terrorist attack, but we haven't had anybody officially yet to confirm that.
MALVEAUX: Venelin, do we know if anybody has seen anything on the bus that would be remnants or evidence of some sort of bomb?
PETKOV: Not at the time being. I mean you have to know that at this time everything is in (INAUDIBLE) at Burgas Airport. And there's been an investigation going on right now. So I guess they will be asking a lot of witnesses to confirm and to talk about their experience. But as of yet, we haven't heard anything confirming that there was a bomb on this bus. But again, this is the only version that the police is working on.
MALVEAUX: We are looking at photos and it looks like the bus was engulfed in flames. Can you tell us whether or not that is true? Was the whole bus basically destroyed? And paint a picture, if you will, of what that was like on the ground.
PETKOV: Yes. The picture that I have in my mind is from witness support that we had. And some of them, unfortunately, we could not really put on the air because they were too -- too graphic, put it that way. Apparently it was really a mayhem when this bus exploded. It was a really massive explosion. Even people who were driving on the road going to and from the airport really saw it, and then they saw the huge cloud of black smoke coming out of the bus.
People who were on the ground described that they saw pieces of luggage, parts from the bus and, unfortunately, body parts strewn all over the place around the parking lot where the bus was parked. So it looked like a mayhem that happened there. And people were screaming and it was -- it was terrible. MALVEAUX: Venelin, do we know how many people so far -- I think we have three confirmed dead. Do we have a sense that it is much worse than that?
PETKOV: For the time being, the number of the confirmed dead is three people. But we spoke with the mayor of Burgas about an hour ago on the phone and he said that one of the injured people who were taken to the Burgas hospital just died. And at least three more people were in critical condition. So I guess the number of people casualties would go up. There were at least 30 people taken from the airport to the hospital.
MALVEAUX: We understand these were Israeli tourists. Has anybody taken responsibility for this?
PETKOV: Not for the time being. We haven't heard anything about anybody claiming responsibility for this. And for the time being, there's a version (ph) about that terrorist attack. It's the only version that the police authorities are working on. But as -- and that's as far as it goes.
MALVEAUX: Venelin Petkov, we appreciate your reporting. And, obviously, if you get more information, we will come back to you. Thank you very much.
News out of Syria today. It's already a violent and deadly place. But today the leaders of the rebel uprising struck very close to the president. We are talking about four top Syrian officials, including two cabinet members who were killed when a bomb went off in Damascus. This man, he is one of them. He is the Syrian defense minister. He is the highest ranking member of the government to die in the fighting. His deputy was also killed. A man who happens to be President Bashar al Assad's brother-in-law. Barbara Starr, she is live at the Pentagon.
And, Barbara, we know that at least one of these men killed today is the equivalent of the U.S. secretary of defense. This is pretty -- this is very high up. This is a pretty big deal here. How is the Pentagon responding?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, oddly enough, there had been a press conference scheduled early this morning by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta here at the Pentagon. And it was the question he was asked. What about this fighting in Damascus? What about the latest attack? We expected the usual diplomatic answer, that the administration is relying on diplomatic initiatives. What we got was something else. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are very concerned by the increasing violence that's taking place in Syria and the tremendous loss of lives associated with that increased violence. The violence there has only gotten worse, and the loss of lives has only increased. Which tells us that this is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control. And for that reason, it's extremely important that the international community, working with other countries that have concerns in that area, have to bring maximum pressure on Assad to do what's right, to step down and to allow for that peaceful transition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: But listen to those words in the middle of all of that, "rapidly spinning out of control," from the U.S. defense secretary. This is now clearly the U.S. assessment. And it's causing a lot of concern. He was also with the British minister of defense at that press conference, who endorsed the notion that Syria is spinning out of control. Both men talking about the need to assure control of Syria's chemical weapons. Expressing some of the toughest concerns, Suzanne, in days that we have heard about that -- about the fate of those weapons and the need to keep them secure.
What we are seeing now, you know, the question I think at the Pentagon and throughout the Obama administration, is all of this potentially the beginning of that critical tipping point against the Syrian regime?
MALVEAUX: Barbara, it might be a little too soon, but is there any talk in the Pentagon, in the circles of the people that you talk to, that because this has escalated to this level, that it might involve and require more of a U.S. robust presence on the ground or supporting some sort of aid to the rebels there?
STARR: Well, let's be clear. Possibly. But one thing that we do know, however, is that the U.S. military is working with Jordanian forces on Syria's southern border to train up to be ready to go in and secure those chemical weapons if it came to that. If the U.S. sees that those weapons are not secure or if they are on the move or if it looks like Assad, heaven forbid, was about to use them. There are contingency plans in place to move in and secure the chemical weapons facilities if the order comes.
The opposition -- I thought it was very interesting today, the British secretary for defense talked about the opposition having increased access to weapons, which is part of the assessment about why they've been able to move into Damascus, to start engaging in these strikes and attacks in the capital. This is stretching the opposition. Their supply lines, their abilities to move.
STARR: Their commanding control. But they're doing it. And it's being watched very carefully.
MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you very much, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.
Who's to blame when an eighth grade student is reading at the third grade level? The parents? The teachers? The school? Well, the ACLU blames the entire state. That's right, it's a lawsuit against the state of Michigan. We're going to explain up next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALVEAUX: Concerns over just who is able to get a pilot's license in the U.S. it's fueling a heated debate on Capitol Hill today. Lawmakers are outraged over a new government report that is showing that foreign students at U.S. flight schools are not being adequately screened. You might recall several of the 9/11 hijackers learned how to fly at U.S. flight schools. Well, since 9/11, flight students are supposed to be checked against a terror database, but government investigators say it's not actually happening. Chris Lawrence, he's joining us live from the Pentagon to talk a little bit about it.
Chris, it seems pretty simple, right, check the names against this database. Why do they say this isn't being done?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Because although the system has improved a lot since September 11th, Suzanne, it is still failing on many accounts. When you read this report, it's chilling at times to think there are still foreign nationals perhaps training at flight schools here in the United States, just like Mohammed Atta did before he crashed a plane into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Basically what is happening is, there is a failure on several levels. One of them is the fact that some foreign nationals are not being vetted. Every foreign national, before they're supposed to get flight training, is supposed to go through a threat assessment program by the TSA. That's not happening. And there are other gaps in this system, such as the fact that U.S. citizens are not part of this vetting process. So a U.S. citizen, who is on the no-fly list, could actually start taking flight lessons. You can't be a passenger on a plane, but you can go to school to learn how to fly one.
MALVEAUX: That seems like a very glaring hole there. What about student visas. If you're here on a student visa, could you obtain a pilot license?
LAWRENCE: Definitely. I mean there's 10,000 schools out there that provide student visas. It's one of the primary ways in which a lot of foreign people come to the United States. I mean the U.S. flight training is considered some of the best in the world and it provides a lot of jobs for people here in the United States. But what this report found and what the hearing found was that some of these schools are sham schools. In other words, they're giving out student visas. They're not even checking if people intend to come to class, their background, anything like that.
Also, about eight years ago, the government was supposed to do an audit of all these schools that were eligible to sort of provide student visas. To date, eight years later, only 19 percent of those schools have been re-certified.
MALVEAUX: What kind of information does the TSA look for when they do these background checks on immigrants who are applying for pilot's licenses?
LAWRENCE: Well, they look at criminal background checks. Things like that. A criminal record. But the problem is, you know, there was a case in Boston just two years ago where federal agents arrested about 25 people. They found out 25 people here illegally. Some of them were -- just came into the country illegally. Others had overstayed their visas. But many of them had been certified by the TSA. Three of them already had their pilot's license. So although there have been some improvements, some glaring holes, Suzanne. And, remember, it only takes one mistake.
MALVEAUX: All right. Chris Lawrence, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
MALVEAUX: Don't forget, you can watch CNN live on your computer, while you're at work. Head to cnn.com/tv.
MALVEAUX: Federal regulators are investigating reports of sticking gas pedals. The Highway National Transportation Administration had received reports that could involve more than 700,000 vehicles. The investigators want to know if gas pedals caused one fatal accident and a number others that left people injured.
The state of Michigan is getting sued for failing to do their job which is teaching students how to read. The ACLU has filed a first- of-its-kind lawsuit against the state for actually failing to teach students to read at grade level.
Kary Moss is executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. She is joining us.
Thank you for being here.
First, tell why sue the state?
KARY MOSS, EXECUTIVE: DIRECTOR, ACLU OF MICHIGAN: Hi, Suzanne. Thank you for having me. We are suing the state, we are suing the district and the state board of education and the state superintendent for education, anybody who has some role and responsibility for teaching children is named in the case.
MALVEAUX: Well, why do -- why such a big goal here? Why not focus more specifically on, say, if a teacher has failed a student or a specific school?
MOSS: Well, we were looking at the schools that are in the bottom 5 percent of testing scores. And in this district in particular, the numbers are just shocking. 90 percent of 11th graders are not reading proficient. 100 percent of 11th graders are not proficient in math or social study. Those are shocking numbers. The conditions in the school are not at all the kind of learning environment that kids need. And so what we are trying to say with this lawsuit is that, it is the obligation, at the end of the day, for the state and the school district and every adult to make sure that, bottom line, kids are learning how to read. MALVEAUX: I understand that you can sue because the state law is that students have to be taught to read at grade level. The state's response -- and Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder's spokesperson would not directly comment on the case, but she said that "Everything that we have done and are doing is to ensure that the kids at Highland Park schools get the education they need and deserve."
By suing the whole state here, how do you -- what do you think that is going to accomplish in terms of the very specifics that need to be done when you take a look at the kids and how they need to be taught?
MOSS: Well, we are representing all of the children in the district. It is less than 1,000, 970-some kids, so we are the voice for these children. What we are saying is that the state and the district have not followed the law, which say when kids are not at reading level, the state is required to provide additional intervention services. That is not happening. The occasional programs that do come in are not effective or implemented properly. So somebody has to speak for the kids, and that is why we are calling this the Right to Read lawsuit.
MALVEAUX: I want you to hear what one mother had to say regarding this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: I have an 11th grade daughter in Highland Park High School who is reading on the 3rd and 5th grade reading level on an assessment test. The district is not where it needs to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: It is shocking when you hear that. But there is a line that you have to draw between the schools' responsibility, the state's responsibility, and even the parents' responsibility. How do you determine that the kids are failing the way they are?
MOSS: Absolutely. Well, we just heard from Mrs. Johnson. That woman is in the school every single day. She goes to every school board meeting and does everything that any parent could reasonably do. Is there blame to go around? Absolutely. But, bottom line, all of the adults in these childrens' lives have failed them. They are not literate or taught to read. These statistics should sound an alarm that we have to think differently and work together differently to make sure that, bottom line, we are graduating a literate generation of children.
MALVEAUX: All right. Kary Moss, of the ACLU. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
MOSS: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: A rare look inside the Supreme Court. Tonight, Piers Morgan will talk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. That's at 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. Mitt Romney is stumping for votes in Ohio and speaking to a crowd in the next hour. And rumors are swirling that he is ready to pick the running mate. We look at what Americans think about the V.P. slot and how it might affect their votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Mitt Romney on the campaign trail in Ohio today. Several of the surrogates also making appearances on his behalf in the battleground state. Romney is holding a town hall meeting in Bowling Green, and Jeb Bush campaigns in Hamilton, and Bobby Jindal in Columbus.
Jim Acosta is covering Romney events.
Jim, a lot of speculation as to why they all in the same place at the same time? Fill us in.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, the Romney campaign is certainly flooding the zone today, Suzanne, after these attacks that have been coming from the Obama campaign on Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's former private investment firm. the campaign has come out in a big way saying that their top surrogates of the state, and Jeb Bush down in the Cincinnati area, and Bobby Jindal in the Columbus, Ohio, and Mitt Romney right here in Bowling Green, Ohio. If this is a vice presidential announcement, nobody has told us.
And if Rob Portman walks out behind me while I am talking, Suzanne, let me know.
But I think that the Romney campaign has found a way to perhaps change the subject from Bain without naming a V.P. They are seizing on a comment that President Obama made last Friday. The comment from President Obama in Roanoke, Virginia, that if you have a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen. The Mitt Romney campaign is latching onto that comment and trying to run with it as long as they can. Mitt Romney talked about that yesterday. We're expecting him to talk about it today, to go after that comment. And Matt Rose (ph), the campaign manager, sent out a fundraising e-mail. They're trying to fundraise off of this, Suzanne. In the fundraising e-mail from Matt Rose (ph), the Romney campaign manager, he called that comment from President Obama a slap to the face of the American dream.
Now the Obama campaign, for their part, Suzanne, they are saying that the Romney campaign is taking that out of context, that what the president is really talking about is a need for teachers and infrastructure, people who are paid by taxpayer dollars, that those folks, that public infrastructure is needed to help the private sector grow -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Jim Acosta, thank you so much. Good to see you, Jim.
If you want to earn more money, you may have to move, again. A new study says that Canadians are now richer than Americans, and we will tell you why.
MALVEAUX: For the first time ever, Canadians are richer than Americans. Our neighbors to the north must be doing something right.
I want to bring in Alison Kosik to talk about this at the New York Stock Exchange.
Why is this such a big difference?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the Canadians are kicking our butts.
They beat American in net worth by about $40,000 or more. This is not the first time in history this has happened. Housing is a big reason for this because the bulk of the net worth for both of the countries is in the homes. Home prices took a bigger hit here in the U.S. Canada had a recession, too, but the U.S. recession was much, much deeper. And the Americans have more liquidity and cash, but in terms of the real estate, Canadians are richer and carry less debt than we do -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: What about the 401Ks?
KOSIK: Well, it is a terrible, terrible consequence of the recession, and Americans are losing $37 billion a year, because they are borrowing from their retirement plans, and then defaulting on those loans on top of that. Now, this is according to a new joint report. Now, these are considered last-resort loans. The people tend to take out these kinds of loans against their 401Ks when the unemployment rate goes up, and 18.5 percent of people with 401Ks borrowed from the savings in 2011, which is up 15 percent in 2006. But, Suzanne, this is where it is going to go horribly wrong. When people lose their jobs, you have to pay the loan back in 60 days. So it's no surprise that people in that decision can't afford it. So they incur these huge penalties, close to double the amount they borrowed, and their accounts end up being wiped out. So, yet, you get one more piece of the fallout of the stalling economy. Shows you how tough it is for so many people out there -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Alison.
You have seen the labels on baby utensils, like bottles, bowls and containers, saying no BPA, but for adults, it is still in a lot of the products that we use.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALVEAUX: We find it in so many products we use, hard plastic bottles, linings for food and beverage cans. It's a chemical known as BPA. On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced it will ban BPA in cups for toddlers and bottles for babies. It's largely a symbolic move since many companies have stopped using the chemical.
Dr. Sarah Janssen is a senior scientist at the environmental advocacy group called the National Resources Defense Council. She's joining us from San Francisco.
Sarah, thank you for being here.
Explain to us why BPA is so bad. What does it do?
SARAH JANSSEN, SENIOR SCIENTIST, NATIONAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Thanks for having me. It's a hormone disrupting chemical that has been studied in thousands of different scientific analysis and has been shown to mimic the female sex hormone estrogen. and exposures that happen early in life, either in the womb or in early childhood, have been linked to a wide range of abnormal things, like abnormal development of reproductive organs or a predisposition to prostate and mammary tumors or breast cancer and abnormal behaviors in children. Time and time again, when this chemical is studied by many different scientists and many different laboratories around the world, it's been found to have harmful effects.
MALVEAUX: If companies have already stopped using this, why did the FDA feel it was necessary to go ahead with this movie?
JANSSEN: The FDA was responding to a request from the American Chemistry Council, which is a trade group that represents the chemical companies. I think they were responding to what has happened in states across the country. 11 different states have banned BPA in children's products. And their response was they wanted to clarify that the market has changed and these products are no longer available.
MALVEAUX: Explain for us -- this is something we're quite confused about -- why BPA is not banned in some of the food packaging we see in adult products.
JANSSEN: That's a really good question. NRDC would like to see BPA banned from all kinds of food packaging. The fact remains that almost everybody is exposed to BPA by eating canned foods and drinking from beverage containers lined with BPA. Exposures are continuing.
While it's a great victory for parents and consumers who demanded the change in baby bottles and sippy cups, over 90 percent of us will remain exposed to this chemical just by everyday types of foods that we eat.
MALVEAUX: Is there a different reaction that adults have to BPA than children and babies?
JANSSEN: The thing we're most concerned about with adult exposure is that pregnant women eating canned food or drinking canned beverages are exposing the baby in their womb to BPA. Exposures that happen in the womb are linked to a wide range of effects that continue throughout life, cancer that might develop in their 40s or 50s, obesity, heart disease. All conditions, which are quite prevalent in the human population, have been linked to early life exposure to BPA. It's important to clarify that canned goods marketed for children still have BPA in the lining. So we're still going to have canned food packaging for kids that contains BPA.
MALVEAUX: Dr. Janssen, it's a good first step.
We appreciate your time. Thank you.
Are you sitting down watching us on your TV right now? We think you should stand up. Walk around. Do some squats, some arm raises. It could save your life. We'll explain.
MALVEAUX: We all know we're supposed to exercise to keep healthy but a sedentary lifestyle is being blamed for as many deaths as smoking. That's right. That sounds crazy.
But Elizabeth Cohen is here to explain how that is possible.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to compare evils. Smoking is really bad. You shouldn't do it. Having a sedentary lifestyle is bad. You shouldn't do it. Smoking will kill you faster but inactivity is bad too. This is a new study done out of Britain. 9 percent of early deaths are due to inactivity. That means 5.3 million people are dying early every year because they are inactive.
MALVEAUX: How much does it count? Get off the couch. Don't be a couch potato.
COHEN: It counts a lot. There's something I want to say. It doesn't mean you have to go run a marathon. It doesn't mean you need to go on an hour-long bike ride. But do something. Too many Americans are sitting for hours and hours, and getting up and walking around is helpful.
Let's look at how much it can help. If you sit for less than three hours a day, you'll live two years longer. That's according to another study. So sit fewer than three hours a day, you'll live an average of two years longer.
MALVEAUX: If you're in a job and sitting, if you just get up after that three hours, move around a bit and sit for another three or so and get up again, that will help?
COHEN: It does make a difference. When you're sitting there are these little enzymes that help clear fat out of your blood and they don't work. They kind of come to halt. Your glucose, your blood sugar goes up. You have more fat in your blood. You have more sugar in your blood and all this sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity and diabetes. We're not meant to sit for a long time. MALVEAUX: We're supposed to be hunter gathers.
COHEN: We're supposed to be hunting and tending to the crops and getting the children, tending to the fire. We're not supposed to sit there. Our bodies go, what is this, and bad things happen.
MALVEAUX: We're going to get up after this segment and move a little bit.
COHEN: I know I am. I'm walking out of here but you have to stay put.
MALVEAUX: Five more minutes.
COHEN: Five more minutes. OK.
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Elizabeth.
It's a phrase you might not have heard of yet. It's triplings. That is what this Dallas couple calls their kids. They were all conceived on the same day in a Petri dish but they were born years apart. Fertility experts say the technology to freeze embryos keeps getting better. And you'll see more of these families in the future.
CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Don Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Suzanne.