Friday, August 17, 2007
Tragedy piled on tragedy
Paramedics perform chest compressions on an injured miner inside the ambulance.
HUNTINGTON, Utah -- I was flying when word came about the second accident in the Crandall Canyon Mine. I had covered the initial week of the disaster, but was now off to Peru to cover the terrible earthquake there. I was flying from Atlanta to Miami, and then connecting to Lima.

When I landed in Miami and found out what happened, I was both stunned and not so stunned at the same time. Stunned, because of the magnitude of additional anguish and loss. Not so stunned, because I know how dangerous it can be in the mine. I spent two hours in the mine last week, and we experienced a frightening mountain bump. We heard a boom and the mine shook. For an instant, I thought the mine might start collapsing. And indeed, that's what happened Thursday night.

When I got off the plane in Miami, I saw Anderson on the TV in the airport terminal anchoring our special coverage. I called our control room so I could talk with Anderson and our viewers from a payphone at Miami International Airport.

My plane was supposed to leave for Lima at 11:55 p.m., but our coverage of this new mining disaster was going to continue until 2 a.m. We decided I would stay on the phone and the American Airlines flight would continue to Lima without me. My producer and two videographers were already on their way to Peru from other cities and would work with our other staff on the ground there.

After our initial coverage overnight, my bosses asked me to head back to Utah, so that's what I did. I took the first flight out of Miami, and now I'm back at this incredibly sad story at Crandall Canyon Mine.

I got a chance to meet many miners and their family members while I was last here. Just minutes ago, I received a call from the niece of one of the seriously injured men. She was crying and couldn't believe this had happened, especially since another man, her cousin, had been in the mine and escaped injury during the initial collapse.

My luggage is somewhere in Lima right now, but it is irrelevant to me as we contend with the terrible sadness in Peru and at Crandall Canyon.

-- By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 4:42 PM ET
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Cathedral collapsed on worshipping Peruvians
Police officers load empty children coffins at the Peruvian Air Force Airport in Pisco.
PISCO, Peru -- We took off for the epicenter of the earthquake zone in a transport plane loaded with empty baby-sized coffins. They were stacked all around two photographers and me, clacking against each other and sliding into our knees.

When we landed in Pisco, Peru, it became clear quickly why they needed so many. Tiny bodies lay beneath a black tarp in the parking lot of what used to be the hospital. Children barely alive wailed as they were carted out on stretchers, separated from parents, their tiny arms and legs wrapped in bandages and splinted with slats of wood.

The police escort us everywhere. My dad and granddad were police officers in Peru, so the officers watch over us like worried uncles. The walls of the prison collapsed, they tell me, and the inmates escaped, so it's dangerous here.

In the middle of correspondent Harris Whitbeck's live shot, a family removes a dead relative behind him and a coffin appears from nowhere. We move gently out of the way.

"Mi hijito," cries an old woman clutching a tiny blanket just outside the hospital and police officers help her sit.

"This isn't work for nice young ladies," says a policeman who claims to know my father. "Your father didn't leave here for you to come see this."

In the main square, San Clemente church collapsed atop the worshipers in the middle of a mass. Now, families line-up hoping for a miracle. But body after body is pulled from the pile of bricks. So far 49 bodies have been pulled out and just seven survivors, but authorities expect at least 100 dead in that one spot.

The city appears on the brink of collapse, second floors teetering atop empty spaces with just a door frame or pillar as support. People are dehydrated in the desert heat, their cheeks beet red from sunburn and exhaustion.

Pisco is named for the national liquor. The town is a place to come drink and de-stress, enjoy the latest catch of fish from the nearby sea. I've come here before for vacation, because the people are so friendly and fun. But on this visit, the people shudder from emotional aftershocks, even as destruction from the real aftershocks continues to take its toll.

-- By Rose Arce, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 2:49 PM ET
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Thursday, August 16, 2007
360 Asks: Chad Myers on hurricanes and earthquakes
Editor's note: With both earthquakes and hurricanes in the news, we decided to ask a few questions of CNN Severe Weather Expert (and 360 contributor) Chad Myers.

Q: What causes a hurricane to change speed or to change course?

Chad Myers: Hurricanes do not determine their own path, rather they depend on upper-level steering winds to determine their course. These upper-level winds come from other large-scale weather patterns in the area, such as large areas of high pressure, cold-fronts, or troughs. If none of these are present, hurricanes will stay relatively motionless. If the hurricane moves into an area of strong steering winds, it will speed up. Forecasting the future path a hurricane consists of forecasting exactly how many different weather features will evolve, which is a very difficult process. That is why a projected path is often subject to large errors five or so days in the future. In fact, the computers that run "models" are some of the fastest in the world and still they are still not close to perfect.

Q: Why does hurricane season occur during the summer/fall?

Myers: Hurricane season for the North Atlantic officially begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th. That is not to say, however, that storms cannot form before or after the official season. One of the ingredients necessary to form tropical systems is an ocean temperature of at least 80 degrees F. The warm water evaporates, forming water vapor, which is the "fuel" for the storm. Ocean temperatures for most of the North Atlantic only reach this temperature during the summer and fall, making conditions right during this time for the formation of tropical storms and hurricanes. In other parts of the world, such as the western Pacific, the water can be warm enough all year to support storms.

Q: Much has been reported about the controversies at the National Hurricane center. Can we feel confident those problems will not affect the center's ability to predict hurricanes?

Myers: We have full confidence in the National Hurricane Center's ability to fulfill their duties despite the recent controversies. The NHC staff contains many of the leading experts in the world regarding tropical cyclone formation and prediction, and they keep each other accountable for their forecasts. Just like any office, there are problems from time to time, but they are professionals and I think we can count on them to keep us informed of any dangers to our coastlines.

Q:Now, regarding the earthquake in Peru: Where was the epicenter?

Myers: The earthquake was centered just off the western coast of Peru, 25 miles west-northwest of Chincha Alta and 90 miles south-southeast of Lima, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The hypocenter, or focus point of the earthquake, was 19 miles below the Earth's surface. The epicenter is the point on the Earth's surface directly above the focus point.

Q: Why is the depth of the quake important?

Myers: Generally, the effect of the earthquake is less the farther you get away from the center. Therefore, earthquakes that are very deep, several hundred kilometers below the Earth's surface, are felt less on the Earth's surface. All the layers of rock and solid earth between deep earthquakes and the surface can act as a buffer zone and "cushion the blow" so to speak. Shallow earthquakes (within 70 km of the surface) normally result in much more violent shaking of the ground.

Q: And if it was at sea, why was there not a significant tsunami? And what is the relationship of earthquakes to tsunamis?

Myers: There was a tsunami triggered from the earthquake according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, but it was very small and caused no damage. Tsunamis can be triggered by many things, including landslides and mass earth movements underwater, most of which are caused by earthquakes. A tsunami is caused by rapid displacement of the water caused by the earthquake, which results in a wave crest and trough. The size of the tsunami depends on the amount of water displaced by the earthquake, which depends on precise details of the individual earthquake, such as depth, location, and type of earthquake triggering mechanism. A large earthquake that occurs underwater does not necessarily mean a destructive tsunami will result.
Posted By CNN: 7:13 PM ET
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All Access: Covering the collapsed mine
HUNTINGTON, Utah -- Gary Tuchman takes you behind the scenes of the media coverage of the Utah mine collapse. (Click image at left to play video)
Posted By CNN: 2:40 PM ET
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Hot Links: Stories we're watching today
Posted By CNN: 10:33 AM ET
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Don Imus: Will you listen?
Given the news about Don Imus possibly returning to radio, we have a new V-mail question for you: Will you listen to Don Imus' new show or were you too offended by his remarks to ever tune in again?

If we get some good videos, we'll put them on air. Please keep them short and punchy. Thank you.
Posted By CNN: 1:06 PM ET
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Children and lead poisoning
Editor's note: In light of today's news about the toy recall, Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers five questions about lead and its affect on children.

Q: What is lead poisoning?

Dr. Gupta: Lead is a highly toxic metal that can be found primarily in lead-based paint and soil. Lead poisoning occurs when there is a toxic level in your body. Lead itslef has no function in the body, but can mimic other metals, which are important in the body such as calcium and zinc. While children and adults can both suffer from lead poisoning, it's far more common in children because their developing bodies can absorb more lead, and be more affected by it. Lead poisoning is sometimes confused with porphyria (think Madness of King Gerorge) but they are in fact different problems.

Q: How do you get it? Only by ingesting lead?

Dr. Gupta: You can get lead poisoning by eating, breathing or swallowing too much of it. You can breathe, especially during renovations, in dust containing lead. You can also eat soil or paint chips containing the toxic metal. Other lead sources are drinking water, food, ceramics, home remedies and other cosmetics. Substantial lead amounts can be found in old lead-based paint, household dust and soil.

Q: We often see children with pencils in their mouths-how much lead does it take to make a child sick?

Dr. Gupta: Well, interestingly lead pencils don't really contain lead. They contain non-toxic graphite, a form of carbon. It's hard to say exactly how much is too much because we're talking about microscopic amounts here. But, here is one way of looking at it. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, if a child ate a lead-based paint chip one-tenth of a square inch (that's the size of the tip of a pencil eraser) each day for 2 to 4 weeks, that kid could test with dangerously high levels of lead. In a blood test, 10 micrograms per deciliter or above is considered dangerous for anyone, but especially in kids age six years or younger.

Q: What does lead poisoning do to you?

Dr. Gupta: When it comes to the effects of lead poisoining, the list is long.

In adults, the list includes difficulties during pregnancy, reproductive problems, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, muscle and joint paint, memory and concentration problems.

Kids' brains and nervous systems are especially sensitive to lead. In children, lead poisoning can lead to developmental delays, damage to the brain and nervous system and even behavioral problems such as ADHD -- just to name a few.

Q: If untreated, what are worst case consequences?

Dr. Gupta: A major problem with lead poisoning is that there are no obvious symptoms until the case is far gone. So, cases often go undiagnosed. At very high levels, lead poisoning leads to seizures, coma and even death.

If parents are concerned, they should ask their doctor to perform a lead test on their children. A lead test is not mandatory, but is often performed by pediatricians. Here is something that I learned while investigating this story: the CDC recommends that all children be screened for blood lead levels once per year, especially between the ages of 6 months and 6 years.

For more information about lead poisoning, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Posted By CNN: 1:19 PM ET
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Raw Politics: Hillary vs Barack
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Iowa pushes one candidate out, boosts another. Also, who is more likeable: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? CNN's Joe Johns has the Raw Politics.(Click image at left to play video)
Posted By CNN: 11:53 AM ET
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Monday, August 13, 2007
Rove's dream lost in sands of Iraq
Could Karl Rove become the architect of a kinder, gentler politics?
Karl Rove will enter history as the most influential political strategist of the modern presidency. James Carville, Dick Morris, Lee Atwater, etc. -- all were important but none as significant. One has to go back some 60 years to the partnership between Clark Clifford and Harry Truman or further back to Louis Howe with Franklin Roosevelt to find anyone as close and instrumental in helping a candidate win and then exercise power.

But the historical analogy that once seemed to fit even better has now vanished into the mist. Early on, Karl Rove was to Bush what Mark Hanna was to William McKinley -- the power behind the throne of a president who built an enduring Republican majority, one that lasted more than 30 years. Rove and Bush together brought that dream to the White House and for a while they were succeeding -- witness the elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004. But that dream has now gone smash, disappearing into the sands of Iraq.

What will Rove's final legacy be? To be fair to him, the final chapters have not been written. If fortunes turn up for his boss -- as Rove doggedly insists -- his own legacy will brighten, too. But let us hope that with Rove's departure, we may also see an end to some of the ways he and his boss have practiced political leadership. To wit:

  • Bush and Rove have tried to govern most of the time by steamrolling their opponents -- often demonizing them -- and winning with just 51 percent of the vote. It doesn't work and it undermines our politics. The next president needs to get back to the tradition that the best way to make big changes in the country is through a bipartisanship that builds super-majorities. That's what the great leaders like FDR and Reagan did.
  • Bush and Rove introduced the idea that the way to win the White House as a Republican is to run to the right to gain the GOP nomination and then stay to the right to win the election. They thought the center had disappeared. But their approach deepened the partisan divides and made our politics even more poisonous. Let us hope the nominees in 2008 run a race more to the center, trying to build coalitions that will not only bring victory but make governance possible.
  • Finally, Bush and Rove came to be seen as practicing a mean-spirited politics -- a politics that seemed comfortable with smearing opponents. Just ask John and Cindy McCain about their experience in the South Carolina primary in 2000. Bush and Rove were not the first to engage in the politics of personal destruction -- some Democrats of the past have come straight out of the pages of Machiavelli. And no doubt, Bush and Rove believe they, too, have been vilified. They are right. But with the country now facing challenges that are both huge and urgent, could we not find a better way with Rove heading out the door?
Strangely enough, maybe Rove can even help. He has one of the best minds in modern politics, and underneath the veneer, I have often found him to have a decency that gets lost to view in the hurly burly. As he steps back from the fray, he could well become an advocate of a better politics. Remember Lee Atwater's conversion?

-- By David Gergen, Former White House Adviser
Posted By CNN: 5:23 PM ET
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Trapped miners: For the families
A fund has been set up for the families of the trapped miners. All proceeds will go to the six families involved. Here is how to donate:

Zions Bank
Crandall Canyon Family Support
P.O. Box 60
Huntington, UT 84528
1-800-974-8800
http://www.zionsbank.com/
Posted By CNN: 4:33 PM ET
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Hot Links: Stories we're watching today
Posted By CNN: 11:09 AM ET
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