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THE SITUATION ROOM
Monster Storm; Honoring Patriots; Food Tax; Tea Party Convention; Charged Americans Jailed in Haiti; Toyota Chief Apologizes; Government Collecting Babies' DNA
Aired February 5, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now, a monster winter storm threatens millions of Americans in the mid-Atlantic and northeast. Travel delays could be felt all across the nation, this hour we're tracking the snowfall, the blizzard conditions and the very, very real danger.
Plus, the secret DNA records on your baby. The shocking revelation that infants are getting genetic tests without -- repeat -- without their parents knowing about it and the government can keep the information forever.
And the Saints, the Super Bowl and a new spirit in New Orleans, how the big game on Sunday is changing the city, win or lose, over four years after Katrina.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But look at the snow that's coming down right now in Virginia, Ohio and right here in the nation's capital. Millions of people in the northeast and the Mid-Atlantic States, they're getting walloped right now, even in a winter that's already been brutal, this is no ordinary storm.
We could get up to 30 inches of snow. Hundreds of flights already have been delayed and canceled. One of our iReporters took this shot of the flight schedule at Dulles International Airport just outside Washington, D.C. Check out all of those cancellations.
Let's bring in our severe weather expert, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. He's keeping a track on all this storm. This is a very dangerous storm, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is and even though I don't believe D.C. is going to be anywhere near 30 inches, I think it will be 18, literally for your safety and for your health and for your well-being, how is that different? How is it different trudging through 30 or trudging through 18 or trying to shovel it?
The difference from what some of the forecasts that I've seen were -- are very, very high, and where I am, at 18 for D.C., is that I believe we're going to see a little bit of rain mixing in, or at least very, very heavy, heavy wet snow that doesn't pile up so fast. That won't be the case in northern Maryland and parts of northern Virginia here. That's where the 20 to 30 inches could be, north of Baltimore all the way toward Frederick (ph) and certainly back into Garrett (ph) County into Maryland. We're seeing a lot of snow already, and on the southern part of this storm, believe it or not, Wolf, we have severe weather potential into Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and all the way up and down 95 even in the keys.
That's how far-reaching this storm is. All the way from almost I would say New York City, you get two to four, maybe seven or right around the aboyds (ph), little bit more Asbury Park (ph), but then the farther south you go there could be some places with 30 around Wilmington, maybe farther just like north of Timonium (ph) and Tucson (ph) and then farther to the south it's just all rain.
Like for Richmond, Virginia now, you've already changed over to rain as the warm air is coming up. That warm air will go away eventually and it will change back to snow, and Richmond, you might get two or three inches, but unlike D.C. that's really going to get pounded. This is a map that I made last night, but it still works because they haven't really used much today.
Maryland DOT has already spent $46 million removing the snow this year. Their budget was 29 million. Philadelphia has used 3.5 million. They don't budget anything for snow removal hoping for the best. That's going to change next year. Baltimore County you're above where you should be and Virginia statewide 84 million spent, 79 million budgeted.
Wolf, they said some of the areas now are considering not mowing the grass over the summer to try to make up the difference in the amount of money they've spent trying to get rid of the snow.
BLITZER: What's causing all this severe weather right now, Chad?
MYERS: Completely an El Nino situation. Storms run up the east coast, just like a classic el Nino, the tail into Florida, classic el Nino, and then flooding, mudslides, all the like into California, the last big el Nino we had in California, parts of California slid into the ocean. That is still on tap for the rest of this winter. We are classically in an El Nino pattern, which means a warmer Pacific, the warmer Pacific to flex the jet stream a little bit and this what happens.
BLITZER: So if they've shut down the airports in Washington, BWI (ph), Reagan National, Dulles, I guess it affects travel all parts of the country.
MYERS: Yes, still a lot of flights coming into Philadelphia at this hour, but that will change later on tonight. The only option I think if you must get out of the Mid-Atlantic States, you can get to New York City on a train, only three to four that should keep the airports open or get south back into the rainfall. That's the only option you have, otherwise, sit tight and be safe. This is going to be a dangerous storm...
BLITZER: And very quickly, Chad, you mentioned Miami. There is a Super Bowl there Sunday night. What's the weather going to be like for that?
MYERS: Well, I do think, and the forecast is for this entire front to go by. It will bring rain tonight, maybe even a little bit of damage. We had 13 people transported to the hospital today around Tampa because at Hillsborough, the county, the fairgrounds, a tent was lifted off its moorings and that tent was blown into people, 13 people in the hospital tonight because of that. I don't see any severe weather at this moment, but that front goes by tonight and tomorrow it's gone and the Super Bowl is perfect.
BLITZER: Perfect. That's what we want to hear.
MYERS: It just depends on who wins.
BLITZER: I'm predicting 30-28.
BLITZER: But I'm not saying who's going to win.
MYERS: Is that inches of snow or...
BLITZER: No, no, no, 30-28...
MYERS: Football score...
BLITZER: Football score -- Chad, thank you.
We heard President Obama scoff before at the way Washington, D.C. shuts down during a snowstorm, but the White House says even the longtime Chicago resident has the sufficient respect for a storm that could pack two feet or snow or even more. Sarah Lee on the National Mall here in Washington -- Sarah, anybody outside Washington right now, it looks pretty deserted.
SARAH LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pretty deserted, pretty much looks like a tundra out here. You can see there's one car driving very, very carefully down -- this is Third Street. It's a major thoroughfare that connects between Connecticut and Independence Avenues, just down by the Capitol here.
And you see someone there shoveling the walk, almost seems kind of pointless at this point considering what Chad is predicting is going to happen this evening. Now our neighbors to the North and to the Midwest of here get a good chuckle whenever Washington, D.C. hunkers down for a big storm, but really considering what -- this is a region that gets, what, about 15 inches on average for an entire season.
What we're looking at this could be crippling for the nation's capital. Taking a look down this way, again this is the National Mall. You're seeing some cars out there. There is a public metro bus (INAUDIBLE) but going very, very slowly. Every one driving very carefully in these treacherous conditions, because the snow tonight, it's not light, it's not fluffy. It's wet and as the temperature drops tonight and as the roads freeze, this is going to make for some very dangerous conditions, as you can behind me early on a Friday evening, basically a ghost town out here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm really worried about the snow hitting the power lines, power going out for certain residential neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C. area, and I'm especially worried about the elderly. And I know you've been checking into that Sarah Lee. Tell us what's going on.
LEE: That's right, Wolf. I made some calls earlier today and even went out on a ride with volunteers with the organization, "Meals on Wheels", which is a national organization that helps the more vulnerable population, the elderly and the infirmed, getting meals to them because a lot of these folks are homebound and they had a mad scramble last night, this morning, volunteers pouting in they said so they could double up on meals, take them out ahead of the storm today to the people that depend on this for their sustenance who just -- who can't get out of the house.
You know we see people that run to the grocery store before storms like this. Well these folks they can't do that, so volunteers including in one town that we went to, the sheriff's deputies came out with their sheriff to pitch in and get these meals out to these people.
BLITZER: Sarah, be careful over there. We'll check back with you. Thank you very much.
President Obama is welcoming an unexpected dip in the unemployment rate. It fell to 9.7 percent in January. That's the first time it's been below 10 percent since the summer. And look at this -- in January of last year, the United States lost more than 700,000 jobs. That's compared to 20,000 jobs lost this January.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now these numbers, while positive, are a cause for hope, but not celebration because far too many of our neighbors and friends and family are still out of work. We can't be satisfied when another 20,000 have joined the ranks and millions more Americans are underemployed picking up what work they can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Also today a new tally of the catastrophic toll unemployment in the United States since the recession began. The government now estimates 8.4 million jobs vanished since December 2007. That's up from the previous government estimate of 7.2 million, off by more than a million.
Turning now from a big number to a small but very important number -- we're talking the number seven. That's how many CIA employees were killed in Afghanistan in December. Today President Obama honored them over at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia right outside Washington. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry who's dealing with this story. It's a sad story and the president paid tribute to those CIA officers. ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. When you talk to the president's top aides, they say this is really a somber occasion, obviously for the commander in chief to deal with this, trying to console family members, relatives, but also colleagues of these fallen seven officials, this deadly suicide attack in Afghanistan.
One of the real remarkable things about the ceremony as well is we didn't really get to see that emotion from the president because unlike all of his other big speeches the cameras were not allowed in and that's for a good reason. Many of the people in this audience at the CIA are undercover. So their identities need to be protected because they work in the clandestine services and we have to remember that in this case, these seven officials were killed by a Jordanian double agent who had said he had intelligence.
He was allowed on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and then ended up blowing himself up, killing these seven others. We got a transcript though from the White House of what the president said. He told the families and the colleagues there, quote, "there are no words that can ease the ache in your hearts, but to their colleagues and all who served with them those here today, those still recovering, those watching around the world, I say let their sacrifice be a summons to carry on their work, to complete this mission, to win this war, and to keep our country safe." The president consoling about 1,000 CIA employees, many relatives of those fallen. This was the deadliest attack for the CIA since 1983 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Ed Henry, our man at the White House. Thanks Ed very much.
Two Clintons speaking out on one disturbing story, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about those 10 American missionaries accused of kidnapping Haitian children and her husband, Bill Clinton, the former president talks to CNN about the very same case. We'll update you on what we know.
And plane scare, it was a terrifying situation for U.S Coast Guard members. Now the Coast Guard wants to know what happened.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, Phoenix, Arizona has approved a two percent sales tax on food. The city has a $240 million budget shortfall, so instead of laying off city workers, they have decided to tax people on what they eat. This is getting ridiculous.
It's estimated the tax on everything from milk to meat to vegetables will bring in tens of millions of dollars a year in Phoenix. The tax is scheduled to only last five years. Yes, that will happen. The mayor says the City Council could reverse its decision after hearing from the public in upcoming budget meetings. Phoenix had been at risk of cutting close to 1,400 jobs, including 500 police and fire fighters, along with closing libraries, senior centers and shutting down some after-school programs. Supporters of this tax say that it's critical to keep emergency responders on the street, that it could mean the difference between life and death.
You could make the argument that eating can also make the difference between life and death. Guess who gets hit the hardest with the tax on food? The working poor, seniors and other people on fixed income, this tax will cause even more pain for the people of Phoenix during an already difficult economic time.
Grocery shop owners worry what the food tax might do to their bottom line. There is already an 8.3 percent sales tax on non-food items at grocery stores in Phoenix and two percent of that goes to the city, but Phoenix wants more. So here's the question. Is taxing a basic necessity like food the answer to filling local budget shortfalls? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Great question, Jack, a fabulous question. Thanks very much.
Of course, she's the secretary state, her husband is the former U.S. president, but right now they're both using familiar words regarding one disturbing story. Listen to what Hillary Clinton is saying about those 10 American missionaries accused of trying to kidnap 33 Haitian children, then listen to what the former president and her husband, Bill Clinton told CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Obviously this is a matter for the Haitian judicial system. We're going to continue to provide support as we do in every instance like this to American citizens who have been charged and hope that this matter can be resolved in an expeditious way.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Haitians are determined that Haiti won't become a ground where children can be trafficked or sold or anything like that. That's a noble goal. It may be that they (INAUDIBLE) missionaries their explanation is absolutely accurate and they're 100 percent innocent. And I think what's important now is for the government of Haiti and the government of the United States to get together and work through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're learning more about the leader of those accused missionaries and some of what we're hearing from people who know her is surprising. CNN's Dan Simon is digging deeper in her hometown of Meridian, Idaho.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's been described as the consummate go-getter, a single mother who started her own business and helped disadvantaged children around the world.
BRYAN JACK, FORMER SILSBY EMPLOYEE: She has a way of kind of getting what she asks for.
SIMON: But Bryan Jack, a manager at Laura Silsby's Idaho company, says she also has another reputation with several employees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It mainly comes down to promising a bill of goods that were never delivered.
SIMON: Silsby is facing deep financial problems. The bank foreclosed on her home and her business, an online retailer once thriving, has been the target of numerous lawsuits, which have alleged she's been delinquent with payments. Employee Bryan Jack filed suit just this week, complaining he'd been told repeatedly he'd be paid for back wages, but wasn't.
(on camera): Silsby's world was closing in as she left Idaho for Haiti and that may help explain why the mission was so disorganized. Many had wondered why for such an ambitious mission she and the group failed to clear the most basic hurdles such as paperwork to transport Haitian children and registration as an adoption agency.
JACK: In my heart, I think she probably went down there with good intentions, to help people that were in trouble. But it's a lack of foresight and planning. Once again, she did that in her business life and it seems to follow her in her personal life.
SIMON (voice-over): This is what Silsby told CNN shortly after being taken into custody.
LAURA SILSBY, NEW LIFE CHILDREN'S REFUGE: We know that the truth ultimately is, is that we came here to help the children, and we know that God will reveal truth and we're just praying for that and trusting Him, because we came here knowing this was his mission, not ours...
SIMON: As the questions begin to mount in recent days, her church pastor came to her defense. I asked whether he had any concerns about Silsby never running an orphanage.
(on camera): Is that problematic?
CLINT HENRY, PASTOR, CENTRAL VALLEY BAPTIST CHURCH: Well you know we're talking about a mom, for one thing and she's raised children. We're also talking about a woman who has been a businesswoman, so the idea of knowing how to run a business all of that was already in place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is such an honor to be here...
SIMON (voice-over): In 2006, Silsby won an award from a national women's business group. The committee made note of her charitable work, saying she had given hope to countless families around the world. She is also a respected member of her church, and that's why several members jumped at the chance to join her in establishing an orphanage.
SEAN LANKFORD, WIFE AND DAUGHTER CHARGED: They actually were asked if they'd like to help. When they were asked, they both said yes.
SIMON: Sean Lankford's wife and daughter volunteered to go with Silsby just a few days before leaving.
LANKFORD: I know their character. I know that they did not believe that they were doing anything that was illegal. I absolutely know that. I mean I'd stake my life on that.
SIMON: Now the question is whether their leader led them down an illegal path.
Dan Simon, CNN, Meridian, Idaho.
BLITZER: South Carolina's former first lady, Jenny Sanford tells all. What she says about her husband's affair and her marriage -- that's just ahead.
BLITZER: Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Fred, what's going on?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello Wolf -- well pilots of that flight that could have been brought down by a bomb on Christmas were unaware at first of the seriousness of the incident. The FAA says a communications gap prevented the cockpit from getting immediate information from the crew that a passenger had attempted to ignite a bomb. The crew reported the passenger had attempted to light only firecrackers. And by the way, some aviation experts have criticized the decision to take the plane all the way up to the gate at Detroit.
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating why this plane carrying two Coast Guard auxiliary members was forced to land without some of its landing gear in Florida. The pilot of the Cessna 414 was made aware of a malfunction prior to landing yesterday and was able to bring the plane down safely on its nose. The cause of the problem is being investigated.
And the space shuttle Endeavour is set for liftoff on Sunday. Mission managers gave the go-ahead after the chance of good launch weather improved to 80 percent. Endeavour will be delivering a new room and observation deck to the International Space Station.
And South Carolina's first lady says Governor Mark Sanford was consumed with ambition and had become the empty eye politician that he used to abhor. Jenny Sanford's memoirs hit book stores today. She talks candidly about her marriage and what she describes as the quote "awful aftermath of her husband's affair with a woman in Argentina". Jenny Sanford whose divorce is expected to be final this month will actually be a guest on THE SITUATION ROOM, Thursday -- Wolf you already know that part.
BLITZER: Yes, we'll talk to her next week. All right, thanks very much, Fred, for that.
The Tea Party movement's first national convention is now under way in Nashville. Mary Snow is there -- she's been speaking with some of those attending. What do they really want? Stand by.
BLITZER: In Nashville right now, members of the Tea Party movement are demanding alternatives to the usual sniping between Democrats and Republicans. We're trying to get beyond the bus tours of the protests and we're trying to find out what the Tea Party members actually want and how they think.
Mary Snow is in Nashville -- she's covering this first Tea Party convention for us. You've had a lot of conversations with folks there, Mary. What are they saying to you?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, the discussions today range from God to grassroots activism. Today for the most part the 600 people who are here attending this convention learned about becoming politically active.
SNOW (voice-over): Liberalism kills kids, reads one poster. In defense of mixing church and state reads a pamphlet. Not far away, t- shirts are on sale, "Freedom Brewing" is one, others are more pointed, and then there's the Tea Party jewelry. For Brendan Smythe (ph), his reminder of the Tea Party movement is on his iPhone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the click of a button, I've got the United States Constitution, Articles Confederation.
SNOW: Brendan and his wife Michelle traveled from Boise, Idaho. They say they were never politically active until last year. They attended grassroots how-to sessions here, this one how to organize protests like this, getting your message out on new media. In terms of practical information Smythe learned.
BRENDAN SMYTHE, TEA PARTY MEMBER, IDAHO: If I go on a radio show or someone within my Tea Party group goes on a radio show to blast that out to -- to all our members or even other members to say where we -- what -- what show we're going to be on, what time, and to have the phone number on the -- on the phone with one touch, you're calling in.
SNOW: Among the members, there are different missions and messages. Smythe says he's not interested in running for office but making the political process more transparent. He often cites the Constitution and personal freedom. SMYTHE: What freedom is, is it's individuality -- that you make the choice for yourself and you go out and -- and -- and -- and accomplish those things which you want to accomplish.
SNOW: I asked him how far he wants government out of people's lives. Did that mean cutting Social Security and unemployment benefits?
SMYTHE: I think families, churches, neighborhoods should take care of those.
SNOW (on camera): So we should not have Social Security?
SMYTHE: I personally don't believe in that. Now that's different than the rest of my group on some of these things, but like I said again, when we're not running for office we're holding the ones accountable who are running for office. A Tea Party doesn't have to have a stance on that.
DORIS GENTRY, TEA PARTY MEMBER, CALIFORNIA: There are definitely people who have a philosophy that if there's absolutely no laws and no rules, you know, man will govern himself. And, you know, stepping back from that, about halfway in the middle, you'll find me. But I'm definitely a strong conservative.
SNOW: Doris Gentry is unlike many others here. She says she's been involved in politics her whole life and is currently running for a state assembly seat in California as a Republican. During the day, she learned about getting young people on board and how internships can be used to do that. She listened to why Christians must engage. She says while there are many beliefs among the crowd, she sees one central theme.
GENTRY: I think we're a pretty good radical, cohesive group of conservatism. Less taxes, less government. Less means more. I think that's a pretty resonating message here.
SNOW: Now Wolf, while there are different messages among the members, they do seem to be in sync with organizers here who say they do not want to create a third party. Wolf?
BLITZER: Mary Snow in Nashville for us. This programming note for our viewers, stay with CNN for full coverage of the tea party convention. And you can watch the keynote address by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. That will be live Saturday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Here in Washington, there is a big chill going down the spines of many Democrats, and not just because we may be socked in by some snow. Members of the Democratic National Committee are meeting and venting their worst fears for this election year. Our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is here. Dana, you went over to this meeting and you had a chance to see what was going on. What did you see? DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, we spent the morning over at the DNC meeting which is at a hotel just up the street, and what we encountered this morning were party leaders and activists trying to shake a serious case of the political jitters.
BASH: Members of the Democratic National Committee have come from all over the country here to Washington for a meeting, and today they're split up by regions. This is the Midwest region, and we wanted to come and talk to some folks in here because the politicians from this region are perhaps the most vulnerable in November.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, DNC VICE CHAIR: This is a region of the country where we will make historic gains. The blood, sweat and tears that you put in in the last two cycles, we need to duplicate it in the 2010 elections.
RICK STAFFORD, DNC MEMBER, MINNESOTA: I was state chair of Minnesota in 1994, which was two years into the first term of President Clinton. And that was a rough year for Democrats nationwide.
BASH: Are you having any deja vu?
STAFFORD: A lot of the storm clouds have come back. People are just frustrated. I think people voted in large numbers for change to happen, significant changes to happen. They haven't seen that.
BASH: So this is where the Democrats from the Eastern Region are meeting, and that, of course, includes Massachusetts. So let's go in and see what the Democrats from that state are telling their brethren about what happened there.
DEB KOZIKOWSKI, DNC MEMBER, MASSACHUSETTS: There are so many ways that we did and I'm not one to sugarcoat, but it was all about Massachusetts. It was not about the rest of you.
BASH: All right, now, you're coming out of the Western region. We were just over in the Eastern region. Different kind of Democrats.
PATRICE ARENT, DNC MEMBER, UTAH: Different kind of Democrats with some of the very same values.
BASH: What's it like as somebody who is a Democrat out in the country, in Utah, looking at the way Washington is working under Democratic control. Are you concerned?
ARENT: Certainly we have concerns and we certainly we have to be able to explain what's going on much better.
GILDA COBB-HUNTER, DNC MEMBER, SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm the chair of the Southern Caucus. There are a number of colleagues who are extremely concerned that Democrats appear to lack the intestinal fortitude to get the job done. And what we want is a Congress that understands the importance of standing, even if you have to stand alone, and fighting for what you believe in. That's critical, we have that spirit in the South, and we just want a little Southern spirit.
BASH: As you can see there, the overriding theme we heard from Democrats in from all over the country is frustration. Frustration that Democrats here in Washington are squandering what activists worked so hard for in 2008 and that, of course, Wolf, has controlled the White House and very large majorities in the House and Senate.
BLITZER: The good news for those Democrats, they have time between now and November to change things.
BASH: Absolutely. And as a theme, we also heard at least it's not like 1994 when it snuck up on them, and they didn't know about it until October. Now it's February and they said at least we have some time to prepare, to get ready.
BLITZER: They got an advanced warning in Massachusetts. All right, thanks, Dana.
We're going to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in just a moment. There is a story developing involving those 10 missionaries. Karl Penhaul it working it. We're about to check in with him. Stand by.
BLITZER: There's a new development just coming into "The Situation Room" involving those 10 missionaries arrested in Haiti accused of child trafficking, kidnapping. Let's go to Karl Penhaul. He's in Port-au-Prince. So what are you learning, Karl?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the 10 Americans, Wolf, spent seven hours down at a downtown courthouse today. One by one they were brought before an examining judge and cross-questioned. At the end of that seven hours just a few moments ago in fact, the judge or the prosecutor decided that the 10 would be split up. They would not be sent back to their jail cells in the judicial police headquarters, but instead the five men would head to the national penitentiary, the five women would head to a jail in Petion-Ville. That jail is behind a police station.
Now remember the national penitentiary. That was the one that was partially destroyed by the earthquake when there was a prison break of over 5,000 prisoners. That is where the men are headed tonight. As I say, the women headed to Petion-Ville. They will once again be brought before the judge in two groups. One group on Monday, one group on Tuesday to continue to be cross-questioned. We spoke to their defense lawyer as he exited the hearings today, Edwin Coq). He said that he has put in place a motion to have the prisoners released on bail while the hearings continued even though the general attorney that we spoke to yesterday said that this case was so serious that he would not consider bail under any circumstances.
But we understand that a judge has not yet heard that motion for bail and he could do that possibly on Tuesday, but more likely on Wednesday, Wolf. BLITZER: All right. We'll stay on top of this story with you, Karl Penhaul, in Port-au-Prince. He's going to have more on this story coming up. We also expect a statement coming out from the family members in Idaho. Stand by for that as well.
Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some of the other top stories in "The Situation Room" right now. What else is going on, Fred?
WHITFIELD: Hello again, Wolf.
Well the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office now says charge sin the June death of Michael Jackson will be filed on Monday. The office did not specify who would be charged or what the charges will be. Attorneys for Jackson's physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, had been negotiating with prosecutors to have him turn himself in potentially today, but those talks broke down. Jackson's death was ruled a homicide and Murray maintains his innocence.
And the State Department says no deal was made with North Korea for the release of an American. North Korea announced today that it was releasing the 28-year-old missionary almost two months after he was arrested for crossing into North Korea from China. A State Department spokesman says Park is expected to travel to Beijing where he will be met by U.S. officials and then will fly to the United States. Wolf?
BLITZER: Fred, thanks so much. Here's a story that a lot of our viewers are going to be interested in. No parent wants anything done to their children without knowing about it, so you can imagine the shock when some parents are learning right now that the federal government has their baby's DNA. What's going on? We're going to show you.
BLITZER: It's the story making many of you nervous and costing Toyota a fortune and lots of embarrassment. Right now, the chief executive wants the world to know Toyota is sorry. In front of reporters, he apologized for the recall affecting more than 8 million cars. But Toyota's chief executive did not announce a new recall and did not announce a solution for brake problems on its popular Prius hybrid. What does it mean for a Japanese business leader to apologize? Let's bring in Brian Todd. He has more. Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's really not unheard of for a Japanese CEO to apologize in public like that, but their style is certainly different than their American counterparts.
TODD (voice-over): A Friday evening news conference in Japan, not exactly the peak of a news cycle for a titan of industry to apologize for his product.
AKIO TOYOTA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE (through translator): The current problem is a huge problem and it is a critical situation. TODD: Akio Toyota, grandson of the company's founder, speaks formally for the first time during this crisis over the safety of Toyota's cars. How rare is this sort of apology for a Japanese business leader?
JEREMY ANWYL, CEO, EDMUNDS.COM: Within that culture, there is this expectation for the responsible party or the person running the company to express remorse and to accept shame.
TODD: Jeremy Anwyl, a former consultant for Toyota, now runs Edmunds.com, a consumer Web site for car buyers. Anywl says in Japan, CEOs often make one high-profile apology, then fade back into the shadows. But in America, the leader of a troubled company would be expected to take a media tour, to repeatedly show remorse, to explain, reassure.
ANWYL: Here, we're very familiar, very comfortable with the idea of sort of the celebrity CEO, the chief salesperson for the corporation, if you will, and in Japan, it's very, very different. They have a much more homogeneous society. There is a saying that you might have heard that the tallest blade of grass tends to get cut off.
TODD: The culture in Japan, analysts say, is for the brand, not the CEO, to be the center of attention. As one expert said, their identity is the company. Japan expert Michael Auslin says that's certainly the case for this company's namesake. But what about his future?
(on camera): What does this do to his standing in Japan among consumers and in the business culture, this apology?
MICHAEL AUSLIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Yes, that's a big question. If it was enough and it was too late, and that's what you hear a lot of voices saying. I think the jury is out, and the worries are that he may not have done enough, even though it's clear he's sincere.
TODD: Auslin and other experts say Akio Toyota may get a bit of a pass here because he's relatively new to the job. He just took over as CEO last summer and some of these problems are seem to have developed not on his watch. Still, how he handles this in the next few months, they say, will determine whether he survives, legacy or not. Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian Todd, working the Toyota beat for us, thank you.
Does the federal government have your child's DNA? Newborns in the United States are routinely screened for various genetic diseases and in some states, that DNA is scored even without the parents' consent. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has details. Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think this comes as a shocker to a lot of us parents. What happens when we have a baby is that the state does a blood test. They prick their heels, they get some blood, they do a DNA analysis, and they check for anywhere from 28-54 different tests for different conditions. And these are mandated by the state, so guess what? They don't ask your permission. Parents do not have to sign on the dotted line, and not only that, but they store the DNA anywhere from three months to indefinitely. Again, without the parents' permission. These DNA samples are stored with our babies' names attached.
Now a lot of people are having a lot of problems with this. There have been two recent lawsuits in Minnesota and Texas. One of the people who is not so happy about this is a woman named Annie Brown. They found that baby Isabel carried an abnormal gene for cystic fibrosis. And Annie said I didn't even know that you tested her. It's now part of her permanent health insurance record. It's now in a state laboratory in Florida where Isabel was born and she says we have no way of undoing this.
So what can we parents do if we don't want our baby's DNA stored in a state lab with their names attached? Now a few states, not many, but a few, have forms on their Web sites, their state health department Web sites that you can fill out requesting that the DNA be destroyed. However, for other states, there is no such form. You can write a letter and suggest and request that it be destroyed, but you know what? I'm told that the state is not always going to listen to you. Many parents worry that having your baby's DNA in a lab with the name attached, sometimes indefinitely, could hurt them later on when they try to get health insurance or when they try to get a job.
You can read more about this on my empowered patients Web site, CNN.com/empoweredpatient. Wolf?
BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen with an important story. Thank you.
Text messages, textbooks, even popcorn at the movies. What are the biggest rip-offs out there? CNN Money is investigating.
And for a city battered and bruised, the Super Bowl may be just what it needs to lift spirits. We're going to New Orleans.
BLITZER: Ever wonder how some things cost far more than they seemingly ought to cost? CNN Money researched the biggest rip-offs as they call it from name brand painkillers to college textbooks. Here are a few that jumped out at us. Text messages cost companies a third of a cent, but they can call you 10 to 20 cents each, a markup of 6,500 percent.
Movie theater popcorn, get this, a medium bag costs 60 cents to make, retails for about $6. The markup, 900 percent. Restaurant wine, a bottle with dinner can cost several times more than in a store. Markup, 500 percent. And look at this. Hotel mini bars, you're tired, you're hungry, you splurge. But $14 for a bag of gummy bears? The mark up, 1,300 percent. Let's go to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File." I sort of feel like Andy Rooney. CAFFERTY: Yes, well you know, there's nothing -- I mean, popcorn is popcorn, but in the movie theater it tastes better than any place else in the world.
BLITZER: Good point.
CAFFERTY: I don't know why that is. It's that stuff they squirt on it, then you dump all that salt in the thing. I mean, whatever the price, I'm happy to pay it.
Question this hour, is taxing a basic necessity like food the answer to filling local budget shortfalls? Phoenix, Arizona has approved a 2 percent tax on food.
Mike in Florida writes, "Taxing a basic necessity like food not the answer. What is the answer is reducing the budget shortfalls by reducing spending. In my money in a month when I earn less money, we spend less. Not that hard of a concept to understand, even for a government type."
Melissa writes, "Two percent? That doesn't sound bad. I live in Tennessee though. I pay 8.25 on food, 9.75 on everything else. Part of that goes to the local government. And we're still broke."
Duane writes from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, "Food's a necessity and should not be taxed. Driving is a privilege. If they have to tax something, do it at the gas pump. The way gas keeps going up, no one would notice."
Victor in Baltimore, "So you would prefer 1,400 more unemployed, more houses in foreclosure and an increasing state and city budget gap because of falling receipts from real estate taxes? You prefer fewer cops on the street, fewer firefighters, fewer libraries and teachers?"
Casey in Arizona writes, Anthem, which I guess is close to Phoenix, "How does the city expect the people of Phoenix to get ahead with a 45 percent decline in real estate values and now you want to tax our food as well. Haven't we suffered enough?"
Tony in Idaho, "Idaho slaps a 6 percent sales tax on all grocery purchases, which is an abominable policy. All sales taxes affect those with lower incomes disproportionately and taxing food is especially heinous. But the conservative leaders in this ruby red state would rather increase the burden on the poor and middle class than raise taxes on the wealthy and business."
Della in Massachusetts, "Hi, Jack. Sorry, I'm from Tax-a- chusetts, so it wouldn't bother me at all. I'm numb. Ha ha."
And Caroline writes, "What's next? Taxing the air we breathe?"
As soon as they figure out a way to do that, they probably will. If you want to know more about this, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/CaffertyFile. I'm going to go eat now.
BLITZER: Good idea. Drive carefully. It's snowing heavy here. I don't know about New York, but heavy.
CAFFERTY: No, no snow in New York yet. I think it's coming in later.
BLITZER: Yes, coming later. All right Jack, thanks very much, enjoy the weekend. We'll watch the Super Bowl. I'm predicting 30-28, get this, Saints.
CAFFERTY: Well, you're going against the trend, but I hope the Saints win. My heart is for New Orleans, my head says the Colts are a better team. We'll see.
BLITZER: We'll see Sunday. We'll be watching.
Who needs to win the Super Bowl to get the party started? In New Orleans, the city is celebrating even before the Saints play on Sunday. We're going to show you what's going on and can you imagine what it would be like if the Saints actually win?
BLITZER: Four years after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Saints are in the Super Bowl, and win or lose, the big game on Sunday is lifting spirits in the city in a big way. Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is no better way to capture the excitement in New Orleans about the Saints in the Super Bowl. I've got the perfect guest with us. This is Kermit Ruffins. He's written the song and it's become the anthem of this city.
KERMIT RUFFINS, NEW ORLEANS MUSICIAN: A Saints Christmas.
LAVANDERA: Saints Christmas.
RUFFINS: All I want for Christmas is the Saints in the Super Bowl.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): : New Orleans might be singing and dancing now, the excitement is plastered all over the city, but not long ago, in the months after Hurricane Katrina, the future looked abysmal.
(on camera): The New Orleans Saints almost didn't survive Hurricane Katrina. Politics and the business of sports got in the way. The Saints owner, Tom Benson, was flirting with the idea of moving the team to San Antonio and that's when people here got really mad. In fact, it reminded me of what Ii used to see on these streets in the months after the hurricane.
(voice-over): Refrigerators became angry billboards and the Saints owner was the target of the venom. Some called Tom Benson the most hated man in town. Many thought he should be thrown out with Katrina's garbage. We went to reminisce over those days with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who was rather angry about the idea of the Saints leaving town.
(on camera): Do you remember what you said about Tom Benson?
RAY NAGIN, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS. I do. I do. This is probably going to be very controversial, but I'm going to say it, anyway. We want our Saints. We may not want the owner back.
LAVANDERA: I guess your feelings have changed, too.
NAGIN: Oh, he and I are buds now.
LAVANDERA: So you don't mind eating those words?
NAGIN: I don't mind eating those words, as long as they win.
LAVANDERA: Tom Benson is basking in the glow of the Saints first ever Super Bowl appearance now. There is no more talk about moving the Saints out of town.
TOM BENSON, OWNER, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: We never lost any hope. We just -- we've been better club after the hurricane than we were before the hurricane.
LAVANDERA: But walk into a New Orleans bar and mention Tom Benson's name, and watch the sparks fly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wanted to give us up to San Antonio a few years ago and all of a sudden he's a hero. I don't get it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the storm to put us through that? No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the kind of thing that's hard to forgive.
LAVANDERA: He's got your Christmas gift. Is that enough? Are you getting a little greedy?
RUFFINS: All we want for Christmas is the Saints to win the Super Bowl.
LAVANDERA: Ed Lavendera, CNN, New Orleans.
BLITZER: Good luck to both teams, the Saints and the Colts. We'll be watching very, very closely. Remember, tomorrow night, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, Saturday's "Situation Room," you can see that. Also remember this, I'm on Twitter. You can always follow my tweets, what's happening behind the scenes here in "The Situation Room." Go to twitter.com/WolfBlitzerCNN, WolfBlitzerCNN, all one word. Have a great weekend. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." Up next, Campbell Brown.