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Tornado in Mississippi; Preemies Study; Chaplain Gave POWs Will to Live

Aired April 11, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking allegations. The government accused of doing experiments on premature babies without telling the parents about the risk. CNN investigates.

The IRS says it can read your e-mails without a warrant.

And, in a fight between a gun and bat. Bat wins.

Plus --


ADAM GADAHN, AL QAEDA SPOKESMAN (ph): You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle. So what are you waiting for?


BALDWIN: The words of an American terrorist. The problem is, he's wrong on one thing.

And, what's day in America without a little controversy. Today the new Barbie making waves.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Good to be with you.

Beginning with breaking news on this Thursday. Reports of a tornado right now moving over Mississippi, Chad Myers, into Alabama.


BALDWIN: Tell me what you know.

MYERS: Very close to the small town of Macedonia, Alabama. It was on the ground and has been on the ground for a long time. It produced one fatality we had confirmed here at CNN in Kemper County, Mississippi. And the storm continues to be on the ground as it travels to the east of Columbus, Mississippi.

These are kind of rural areas, thank goodness, because this is probably an F-3 or an F-4 tornado on the ground. It did hit a town near Macon, Mississippi, earlier, but it is now kind of moving on up toward a very rural area north of Reform, Alabama. They're already putting some of the kids out of school, taking them out of school already in Alabama. The last time this happened we remember the vivid pictures of Tuscaloosa.


MYERS: Those kids are going home. (INAUDIBLE) some of them are.

There are more tornados down in southern Mississippi. Also some of the parishes of Louisiana are under tornado warnings at this time. This is going to be one of those days where if you see a storm headed your way, just assume the worst. Get inside. Get the kids inside. Make sure the pets are safe. And let the storm go by. Nothing to do outside. Nothing to see there. Don't take pictures. Protect yourself across the south. It will be into Georgia later tonight, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Chad Myers, thank you. We'll come back to you as soon as you get more information here. As you have been reporting, one death confirmed, Kemper County, Mississippi. We're making phone calls. We'll try to get some videos as soon as we possibly can.

I want to move along, though, because I just want to give you the heads-up. Any moment, history in the making today. President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to the family of an American priest who died more than six decades ago. You hear the music. These are live pictures inside the White House. This is where the ceremony will take place.

Let me just tell you though, this story here is absolutely fascinating because, among other heroic acts, he stole food for POWs during the Korean War without firing a single shot. You will hear emotional memories from this man's fellow soldiers. Stay right here for that.

But first, the federal government is under fire for research it funded that may have risked the lives of the most vulnerable, extremely premature infants. Thirteen hundred of them to be precise. The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen is reporting on this. Says these little ones were exposed between the years 2005 and 2009. Public Citizen just sent a letter to the head of the Department of Health and Human Services demanding an apology for mishandling a study that examined oxygen levels in preemies. It accuses researcher of not telling parents that their newborns could be at higher risk of blindness or death if the families took part in the research. A co- author of that letter released a statement saying this, quote, "the word unethical doesn't even begin to describe the egregious and shocking deficiencies in the informed-consent process for this study. It is highly likely that had they been appropriately informed about the nature of the research and its risks, many, if not most, parents would not have allowed their babies to be in this city.

I want to talk about this with CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

A lot of questions. The first being, why would the government do this sort of research in the first place?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Because there's a big question that needs to be answered.

BALDWIN: Which is?

COHEN: Which is, when you have what's called a micropreemie, so smaller than two pounds 12 ounces, all right, so that's very small, a lot of those babies need oxygen. Well, how much oxygen do you give them? That's the big question.

So what they decided - because here is the problem. If you give too much oxygen, high levels of oxygen can cause blindness. But if you give low levels of oxygen, that can cause death. So what neonatologists do is they try to, you know, with each individual baby, they see how much they need and they give them just what they need and hopefully no more because they don't want to cause blindness.

What this study did was they said, you know, we don't know exactly what levels are right. So we're going to assign these babies, half of them are going to get a relatively low end of that range and another half are going to get a relatively high end of that range. So we're going to randomize them, one group or the other, randomly chosen to get either relatively high levels or relatively low levels of oxygen. And what Public Citizen says is that's unethical. You should be gauging oxygen levels by what that baby needs, not by just randomly assigning them to a group.

BALDWIN: But not only that, when you read this and you hear about the risks, how could they not tell the parent?

COHEN: Aha. And that is the part that actually the National Institutes of Health is upset about. The NIH actually wrote a letter to all of these doctors saying, hey, we looked at your consent form and you didn't warn parents that high levels could cause blindness and low levels could cause --


COHEN: Well, because the researchers have basically said, look, we were within the range that's considered safe. We were within the range that doctors give babies all the time. We just sort of skewed to the high end for one group and skewed to the low end for another group. We weren't giving them crazy highs or crazy lows.

BALDWIN: Is that good enough for the parents?

COHEN: Well, it's certainly not good enough for Public Citizen.


COHEN: It's actually, in many ways, not good enough for the NIH. I mean this letter really says to them, hey, you didn't warn about the risks the way you were supposed to. And, in fact, the University of Alabama, which has been the lead researcher on this, they said, "we will ensure that any future consent form clearly delineates risk." That's what they've written in response. In the future, we will make sure that forms clearly tell parents, or study subjects, what the risk is, which makes you kind of thing, maybe this time they didn't quite get it the way they should have.

BALDWIN: Right, if they're changing it for a future --

COHEN: Right. Exactly.

BALDWIN: What about the babies? How did they fair?

COHEN: You know, the doctors say that the babies have done great and the doctors say that the babies actually have done better than babies who weren't in this study. Some people, Public Citizen, would argue with that. It kind of depends how you look at the numbers. And what's interesting is the results they got were pretty much what you'd expect. Babies who were on the high end had -- were more likely to get a disease that can result in blindness. Babies on the low end were more likely to die. And Public Citizen and others say, why did we put babies through a study and experiment on them to figure out what we already knew? What was the purpose of that study? How is it going to help any baby?

BALDWIN: It sounds like a valid question.


BALDWIN: I never heard, micropreemies, less than two pounds.

COHEN: Less than two pounds, 12 ounces.

BALDWIN: Two pounds, 12 ounces. Wow.

COHEN: Right. Right.

BALDWIN: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for that.

COHEN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: In a matter of moments, as we mentioned a moment ago, an army chaplain who stole food for POWs during the Korean War will be awarded the Medal of Honor more than 60 years after his death. And want to share just a picture here. This is a picture of him. He is on the right. He is helping - you see them carrying this exhausted soldier off the battlefield. President Obama will honor him and his family very, very soon. But first, CNN's Barbara Starr with a closer look at this extraordinary man -we go to live pictures from the White House -- this extraordinary man who served our country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Rations and water are scarce.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the winter of 1950, the Korean War was tough going for often overwhelmed U.S. troops. Here on the right, an extraordinary soldier who never fired a shot. And now, more than 60 years after his death, Emil Kapaun is receiving the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor in action. For Father Emil Kapaun, a Catholic Army chaplain, the sole weapon, faith. Mike Dow (ph), now 85, was a young lieutenant. STARR (on camera): You still, to this day, keep his photo on the wall.

MIKE DOWE, KOREAN WAR POW: Yes. That's - that one picture is the one I like of him holding his pipe when it was shot out of his mouth.

STARR (voice-over): Captured in November 1950, Dowe met the priest as they carried the wounded on the long POW marches north.

DOWE: There was a fellow on the back of this stretcher that we - I was in the front of. And I said, I'm Mike Dowe. What's your name? And he said, Kapaun.

STARR: Father Kapaun's nephew, Ray, is accepting the medal, in part for the men who were there.

RAY KAPAUN, REV. EMIL KAPAUN'S NEPHEW: Even though this Medal of Honor is for Emil, it's for these guys as well too. They would tell everybody and anybody, you know, they didn't want the story to die.

STARR: Stories of a priest rescuing the wounded.

KAPAUN: It didn't matter if there was mortar shells falling around him and bullets flying by.

STARR: Mike Dowe says he survived being a POW because of Father Kapaun.

DOWE: He was able to engender a spirit of loyalty and meaningfulness to being a captive by resisting your captors and maintaining your faith with your country that enabled you to keep your will to live.

STARR: The priest regularly stole food for the starving men.

DOWE: He'd come around saying, "hot coffee," and give hot water to all of us there. And, man, that was - it may not sound like much today, but that sure meant a lot under those circumstances.

STARR: The enemy, the North Koreans and Chinese, began to fear the now ailing catholic priest.

KAPAUN: The Koreans came in and told him that, you know, they're going have to take him to the hospital. And the hospital - I mean you ask all the guys, the hospital was just a death house.

STARR: But his friends could not save him. Father Kapaun's final moments with his flock of POWs, as he was carried away, difficult even now for Mike Dowe.

DOWE: He turned to me and said something to the effect, Mike, don't worry. I'm going where I always wanted to go. And when I get there, I'll say a prayer for you.

STARR: To this day, his remains are buried in a mass grave in North Korea. His nephew says, still, the family would like to bring him home.


BALDWIN: Again we are -

STARR: And this -

BALDWIN: Forgive me, Barbara. We are awaiting history here, go ahead, as we watch these live pictures.

STARR: Yes, as we await the president in the next few minutes.

This is just really a remark story. If this story isn't enough for you. In fact, the Vatican has Father Emil Kapoun's story under investigation. They are looking at the prospect of naming him a saint of the Catholic church, of canonizing him.


STARR: Over the last 60 years, these men have fought to get him the Medal of Honor. And many people of the faithful who have prayed to Father Kapoun have testified to the church about miracles that they believe have occurred in his name. It is just a remarkable, remarkable story. These men never gave up, Brooke.

BALDWIN: What a proud day for, obviously his family, his friends, the Army, for chaplains. We are awaiting this posthumous honor here there at the White House. History in the making. You do not want to miss these moments. Ninety second break. Back in a moment.


BALDWIN: Again, we're watching and waiting. Live pictures inside the White House. Let me just say again, history about to be made with this recipient, this posthumous recipient, of the Medal of Honor. We will take you there as soon as it happens, I promise. But I do want to move on until we see those live pictures, until we see that ceremony begin.

Let me tell you about North Korea. As the world waits for North Korea's next move, CNN has learned a Musudan missile is now ready to fire. You see here this animation. It's been raised into an upright position. This missile is one of several medium range missiles which could be fired from the Korean peninsula any day now. The one question we still don't have an answer to, why? Here is the top U.S. intelligence chief.


JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't think really he has much of an endgame other than to somehow elicit recognition from the world and specifically, most importantly, the United States, of North Korea's arrival on an international scene as a nuclear power and that that entitles him to negotiation and to accommodation and presumably for aid.


BALDWIN: All of this as China, North Korea's last remaining ally, seems to be getting fed up with Kim Jong-un's threats. What's the evidence of that? This Jon Stewart clip gone viral in China.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Look past the picture of Kim Jong-un. There's a chart marked U.S. mainland strike plan with missile trails aiming at Hawaii, California, D.C., and, for some reason, Austin, Texas.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Wait, you're going to - you're going to blow up Austin, Texas? What are you - what are you just trying to get the rest of Texas on your side? Or - or did South By Southwest reject your Indy film "Little Miss Unshine"?


BALDWIN: So that clip has racked up a staggering 28 million views in China.

Secretary of State John Kerry flies to that area tomorrow, heading to Beijing to try to persuade China to reining in their friend North Korea.

As tensions mount on the Korean peninsula, Wolf Blitzer takes you inside this conflict, the threats, what's at stake. He's got it all covered on a special edition of "The Situation Room" tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern and then again at 10:00 p.m. Pacific.

Back at home. At least two people have been killed. Dozens more are hurt after this bus tipped over today on a highway. This is just outside of Dallas. These pictures, you see these paramedics and those wounded being taken care of, frantically trying to treat them. At least 36 people had to be rushed to the hospital.


SGT. LONNIE HASCHEL, TEXAS DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We have over 30 people that were passengers on the bus. We have two that are confirmed deceased right now. The passengers have been taken to various hospitals throughout the metroplex.


BALDWIN: That bus was bound for Oklahoma casinos. It lost control, hit a barrier, swerved across several lanes of traffic, and then tipped over a concrete median.

The grandparents of two little Florida boys who were abducted are speaking out. Police say the boys' parents kidnapped them, took them on a boat, set sail for Cuba, and authorities rescued these two little guys and reunited them with their grandparents, who had been given legal custody of them. The grandparents say the boys have no idea that they were abducted.


PATRICIA HAUSER, SHARYN HAKKEN'S MOTHER: They have been told that everyone heard about their sailboat trip to Cuba, another country, as they called it, and their airplane ride back to America, and that everyone wants to take their picture. We ask that there be no mention of any events of the past week. This is Cole and this is Chase. Can you say hi?


BALDWIN: There they are in front of all the cameras. The boys' parents are being held without bond. They have a hearing Monday on kidnapping charges.

Coming up, Victoria's Secret angle Miranda Kerr being stripped of her wings. The gossip has been furious, it has been fast, but the lingerie company has just responded. That's next.


BALDWIN: And now to the White House we go as we're about to see the president, here he is, first lady, about to present the Medal of Honor to the family of an American priest who died more than six decades ago. Let's watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And let us pray.

Almighty and eternal God, from whom we come, to whom we belong. This day revives in us memories of a faithful servant and a loyal patriot whose memories a blessing forever. In his ministry and especially the complexity of front line combat, Chaplain Emil Kapaun contended fearlessly against evil, irreverently served freedoms cause, giving of himself unselfishly for the welfare of those whom he called his boys.

We are humbled, oh God, by the strength and honor of the chaplain who often appeared from nowhere during combat operations and remained only long enough to perform his duties before moving on, preparing (ph) for souls as the battle of Unsang (ph) raged. We bestow our nation's highest honors upon Chaplain Kapaun. May his legacy nurture our nation and our army, inspire us to serve with steadfast hearts, which no one unworthy thought can drag us downward, with conquering hearts which no tribulation can wear out, and with upright hearts, which no one worthy purpose may tempt aside. Which we ask and pray in your holy name, amen.

CROWD: Amen.


CROWD: Good afternoon.

OBAMA: Please, have a seat.

On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. Thank you, chaplain.

You know, this year we mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. A time when thousands of our prisoners of war finally came home after years of starvation and hardship and, in some cases, torture. And among the homecomings, one stood out. A group of our POWs emerged carrying a large wooden crucifix nearly four feet tall. They had spent months on it, secretly collecting firewood, carving it, the cross and the body, using radio wire for a crown of thorns. It was a tribute to their friend, their chaplain, their fellow prisoner, who had touched their souls and saved their lives, Father Emil Kapaun.

This is an amazing story. And Father Kapaun has been called a shepherd in combat boots. His fellow soldiers, who felt his grace and his mercy, called him a saint, a blessing from God. Today we bestow another title on him, recipient of our nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.

After more than six decades of working to make this medal a reality, I know one of Father Kapaun's comrades spoke for a lot of folks here when he said, "it's about time."

Father, as they called him, was just 35 years old when he died in that hellish prison camp. His parents and his only sibling, his brother, are no longer with us, but we are extremely proud to welcome members of the Kapaun family, his nephews, his niece, their children, two of whom currently serve in this country's National Guard, and we are very proud of them. We're also joined by members of the Kansas congressional delegation, leaders from across our armed forces, and representatives from the Catholic church, which recognizes Father Kapaun as a servant of God. And we are truly humbled to be joined by men who served alongside him, veterans and former POWs from the Korean War. Thank you.

Now, obviously, I never met Father Kapaun, but I have a sense of the man he was because in his story I see reflections of my own grandparents and their values, the people who helped to raise me. Emil and my grandfather were both born in Kansas about the same time. Both were raised in small towns outside of Wichita. They were part of that greatest generation, surviving The Depression, joining the Army, serving in World War II, and they embodied those heartland values of honesty and hard work, decency and humility. Quiet heroes determined to do their part.

For Father Kapaun, this meant becoming an Army chaplain, serving God and country. After the communist invasion of South Korea, he was among the first American troops that hit the beaches and pushed their way north through hard mountains and bitter cold. In his understated Midwestern way, he wrote home saying, this outdoor life is quite a thing and I prefer to live in a house once in a while. But he had hope, saying, it looks like the war will end soon.

That's when Chinese forces entered the war with a massive surprise attack. Perhaps 20,000 soldiers pouring down on a few thousand Americans. In the chaos, dodging bullets and explosions, Father Kapaun raced between foxholes, out past the front lines, and into no man's land, dragging the wounded to safety.

When his commanders ordered an evacuation, he chose to stay, gathering the injured, tending to their wounds. When the enemy broke through and the combat was hand to hand, he carried on, comforting the injured and the dying, offering some measure of peace as they left this earth. When enemy forces bore down, it seemed like the end that these wounded Americans, more than a dozen of them, would be gunned down.

But Father Kapaun spotted a wounded Chinese officer. He pleaded with this Chinese officer and convinced him to call out to his fellow Chinese. The shooting stopped and they negotiated a safe surrender, saving those American lives.

Then as Father Kapaun was being led away, he saw another American, wounded, unable to walk, lying in a ditch, defenseless. An enemy soldier was standing over him, rifle aimed at his head ready to shoot. And Father Kapaun marched over and pushed the enemy soldier aside. And then as the soldier watched, stunned, Father Kapaun carried that wounded American away.

This is the valor we honor today. An American soldier who didn't fire a gun but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all, the love for his brothers so pure that he was willing to die so that they might live. And yet the incredible story of Father Kapaun does not end there. He carried that injured American four miles as their captors forced them on a death march. When Father Kapaun grew tired, he helped the wounded soldier hop on one leg. When other prisoners stumbled, he picked them up. When they wanted to quit knowing that stragglers would be shot, he begged them to keep walking.