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Cheney Misfire; New Abu Ghraib Photos; Bugging the Bad Guys; Canines and Cancer; Bodies in Limbo; No School, No Problem?; The Sleep of Champions

Aired February 15, 2006 - 23:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening once again, everybody. Taking responsibility, but not apologizing. The vice president finally speaks out about shooting his friend.

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Vice President Cheney finally speaks out on his shooting accident, calling it one of worst days of his life. Tonight a 360 look at damage control.

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Tell it early, tell it all and tell it yourself. And they broke all the rules.

ANNOUNCER: This $17 million morgue near New Orleans closed this week. But thousands of storm victims are still missing.

DR. LOUIS CATALDIE, LOUISIANA MEDICAL EXAMINER: We have 60 to 100 bodies in the Ninth Ward.

ANNOUNCER: And no money to recover them. It looks like a bureaucratic dead end. 360 investigates.

And a new weapon in the War on Terror.

JOE LEWIS, RESEARCH SCIENTIST: They could detect these chemicals and parts per billion.

ANNOUNCER: They can detect explosives, anthrax, nerve gas in seconds. And they're far cheaper than the world's best detection equipment.

From across the U.S. and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from the CNN studios in New York, filling in for Anderson, Heidi Collins.


COLLINS: Four days after Vice President Dick Cheney shot and seriously wounded a 78-year-old friend in a hunting accident, he did the one thing many Americans were waiting for him to do. Talk about it.

In an interview with another network today, Cheney described Saturday's shooting in detail. Here's some of what he said. "There were three of us who had gotten out of the vehicle and walked up on a covey of quail that had been pointed by the dogs...and each of us got a bird. Harry couldn't find his, it had gone down in some deep cover, and so he went off to look for it. The other hunter and I then turned and walked about a hundred yards in another direction...[a] bird flushed...and went to my right, off to the west. I turned and shot at the bird, and at that second, saw Harry standing there. Didn't know he was there."

"I said, 'Harry, I had no idea you were there.' And he didn't respond. He was -- he was breathing, conscious at that point, but he didn't -- he was, I'm sure, stunned...obviously, still trying to figure out what happened to him."

Cheney also said, quote, "Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time, but that's the bottom line...And there's no -- it was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. And I say that is something I'll never forget."

Cheney also said it was his decision to let the ranch owner tell the public about what happened because she was a witness to the incident. But that seems to have backfired, turning a hunting accident into a public relations nightmare for both the vice president and the White House.

Here's CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vice president with 30 plus years experience in Washington handled his hunting accident in ways that run afoul of traditional damage control playbooks.

For starters, the initial 20-hour delay in revealing Mr. Cheney accidentally shot a friend and taking the highly unusual step of letting the ranch owner call the local paper, instead of a White House announcement, violates the gold standard of crisis management.

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Tell it early, tell it all and tell it yourself. And they broke all the rules.

ERIC DEZENHALL, FORMER REAGAN STAFFER: This is a public figure and it has to get out immediately. If you don't get it out immediately, there will be this feeling that there is malfeasance.

KING: More than three days of silence by the vice president, broke another rule.

DEZENHALL: Silence implies guilt. And even if it doesn't really mean guilt, there is a tendency in a democratic society to think that it means that something worse has gone on.

PODESTA: It creates the impression that he's both -- not only has no remorse, but he's sort of almost unfeeling in this.

KING: Speaking with one voice is another staple of Damage Control 101. And this White House was once considered legendary for its communications discipline. But in this case, a mixed message.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I was urging that that information be made available as quickly as possible.

DEZENHALL: The whole idea that there is a battle between the president and the vice president staff, that is an upstairs/downstairs drama.

PODESTA: No one can say no to this vice president. You know, we've seen it in policy matters as well as in a communications matter like this.

KING: To calm a crisis, you have to gain control. And Mr. Cheney took charge of that effort by finally telling his story Wednesday.

DEZENHALL: You pick one reporter, you do one interview, you convey your humanity and then you sign off and don't address it again.

PODESTA: He would have been better off standing in front of a microphone, bringing in a press pool, letting them ask questions until they got tired of asking questions.


KING (on camera): Now, one of the most remarkable things about this interview is that Cheney acknowledges from the moment of the shooting, he knew this would be a big story. He also acknowledges he was under pressure from senior presidential aids to get out and make a statement and to get out early, but the vice president says, he called the shots on the damage control effort, he decided when he would speak and to whom -- Heidi.

COLLINS: John King, thank you.

If you want to read the entire transcript of the Cheney interview, you can logon to

The prison where American soldiers tortured Iraqi detainees, Abu Ghraib, is back in the headlines tonight. That's because the world is getting a look at a new batch of photos. They were made three years ago and appear to be another take on the abuses that came to light back then. A new look -- and we ought to warn you now, an especially graphic one.

Here's CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Australian television today was the first to broadcast these pictures. And the Pentagon confirms that they are from the hundreds of unpublished photos and videos of soldiers physically abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.

The U.S. government did not want these disturbing images made public. Australian television did not disclose how they got them. One sequent showing a restrained prisoner hitting his head against a door. The Australian report described the man as mentally disabled.

With riots across the Islamic world in response to cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad, this could not come at a worse time. The U.S. military worries the release of the photos could lead to even more violence in the Arab world. A point that General John Abizaid, who oversees the military in Iraq, made as far back as September.

GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: When we continue to pick at the wound and show the pictures over and over again, it just creates the image, which is a false image, like this is the sort of stuff that is happening anew, and it's not.

STARR: The American Civil Liberties Union is one of several groups suing the Bush administration for access to photos that still have not been released.

CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, DIRECTOR, ACLU, WASHINGTON LEGISLATIVE OFFICE: I think the most critical thing, to make sure that there isn't additional violence and a response of that type is to make sure that people in the Middle East and Muslims around the world see that the United States is actually holding people accountable.

STARR: The Pentagon is emphasizing that a dozen major reviews of detainee operations have turned up no evidence that prisoner abuse was ever ordered by senior officers.

As a result of the Abu Ghraib scandal, nine soldiers have been convicted at court martial, two soldiers are pending court martial, 16 other soldiers have received a variety of other reprimands and punishments.

The highest ranking officer to be punished to date is One-Star General Janis Karpinski. Demoted to colonel for leadership failures during the time she commanded the military police brigade at Abu Ghraib, although, she was never directly implicated in the abuse of prisoners.

STARR (on camera): There has been continuing criticism on Capitol Hill that no senior U.S. military officer was ever held accountable for what happened at Abu Ghraib. The military has known about these pictures for months. No new investigation is expected.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


COLLINS: Erica Hill, from "HEADINE NEWS," joining us now with some of the other stories we're following tonight.

Hi, Erica.


Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff taking some heat from Republicans today for his handling of the Katrina disaster. The criticism came as House report was to be released, accusing Chertoff of some major mishaps. He accepted responsibility, but maintained that quote, "Nobody in living memory recalls a set of challenges as difficult as those presented by this hurricane."

Neil Entwistle is now back in the U.S. Tomorrow, he'll be in a Massachusetts courtroom, where the English man will be formally charged with murdering his wife and infant daughter last month. Entwistle emerged from the plane today shackled and handcuffed, and was then put into a Massachusetts State Police car.

The cost of repairing 95,000 flood-damaged homes in New Orleans expected to range from $8 billion to $10 billion. But just half of that will be covered by flood insurance, according to a study out today by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Meantime, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast rebuilding coordinator said federal spending for the recover could top $108 billion.

And tonight, at New York's JFK Airport, the hunt is on for a very well-known whippet. The dog, who's known as Vivi, won an award of merit at this week's Westminster Kennel Club show, at $150,000, disappeared today around noon. Now Vivi was originally booked on a Delta flight, but instead of boarding, Heidi, she broke free from her cage.

COLLINS: This is terrible.

HILL: It is. It's really scary. I mean, I would die if that happened to my dog.

COLLINS: I'm headed to JFK in a couple of hours. I'm going to find that dog.

HILL: Look for Vivi. Bring some treats with you.

COLLINS: Yes. OK. That's what I'll do.

Erica, thank you.

Well, there are problems enough in New Orleans, heavens knows. But, this problem is truly awful. Can the city confidently clear away all that rubble without having searched it for bodies.

And, oh brave new world of crime-fighting SWAT Team, you better not actually swat. When 360 continues.


Time to train a dog to detect explosives: 4-6 months.

Time to train a wasp to detective explosives: 15 minutes. (END GRAPHIC)


COLLINS: Suppose you had a secret agent the size of a raisinette, making that flying secret agent, moving at will, undetected, to sniff out and expose terrorists, bomb makers, bad guys of all kinds. You're thinking to yourself, yea right, in a Marvel comic book maybe. Well, no. In real life.

CNN's Randi Kaye reports.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are as small as a sunflower seed and weigh less than 10 milligrams, but these tiny wasps are an amazing secret weapon.

(On camera): So might one day we see airport police or TSA walking around with a handful of wasps?

JOE LEWIS, RESEARCH SCIENTIST: That's a possibility. That's no longer just an absolute dream. It is a real technical possibility.

KAYE: Having grown up on a farm, Dr. Joe Lewis has been around plants and insects his whole life. He loves bugs.

(Voice-over): But he never imagined wasps, with their infallible sense of smell, would be called on to protect Americans in the case of a chemical attack.

LEWIS: Their nose is an antenna. It's two antennas that's constantly monitoring and smelling.

KAYE: Decades ago, this USDA research scientist from south Georgia surprised himself when he taught wasps to smell vanilla and chocolate. Then, he was even more surprised when out of the blue, the U.S. Department of Defense came calling, wondering, since his wasps are so smart, could he train them to detect nerve gas and dangerous explosives?

(On camera): What is it about their wiring that would make them a good candidate to help fight the War on Terror?

LEWIS: They could detect and learn practically any chemical and they could detect these chemicals at very minute levels, such as parts per billion, which is just a few molecules released in an area as large as this room.

KAYE (on camera): These are not your average wasps. We're talking about parasitic wasps. Farmers love them because they help control pests. And watch how easy they are to work with. As I put my hand inside their cage here, move it around, even touch them, they don't sting me.

(Voice-over): Dr. Lewis says he got a $4 million grant from the Pentagon to train his insects. For each wasp, training to detect a specific odor, say TNT or a nerve agent, takes just 15 minutes. The key is to get the wasp to think a particular odor means food.

As a test, we're going to teach wasps to associate the odor of coffee with their food. They love sugar.

LEWIS: We have the little hole so they can smell that coffee while they taste sugar water on this little tiny piece of filter paper. So they taste while they smell. And now, as an example, we'll place a wasp here on this source. And the little wasp will taste while they are smelling. We let them do that for 10 seconds. And after 10 seconds, we remove them. Replication is very important to learning. We let them repeat three times. And then they have learned that odor means food.

KAYE: When training to detect dangerous chemicals, a non-toxic version is used. So the wasps survive the training. Once they are trained, the wasps work in teams of five. They're put inside this device, called the wasp pound.

LEWIS: And that cartridge goes into the cap here.

KAYE: The wasp pound was designed by University of Georgia Professor Glen Rains (ph). It harnesses the wasps so they don't fly away. In the case of an emergency, the wasp pound can be carried by emergency responders or even sent in by robot. The wasp pound is equipped with a camera.

Here are our coffee detecting wasps again. Watch what happens when they smell coffee. Remember, it could just as easily have been TNT or any dangerous chemical. In less than 30 seconds, the tiny camera shows all five circling, gathering, trying to get at the chemical, which they associate with sugar water.

(On camera): OK, so the whole unit, including the wasps would be a little bit more than $100?


KAYE: To help fight the War on Terror?

LEWIS: Sure.

KAYE: That's a pretty good deal.

LEWIS: Yes. It seems to be.

KAYE: A lot less expensive than probably some of that high tech stuff that they're using right now, right?

LEWIS: Yes, that's right. That's right.

KAYE (voice-over): Not only could the wasps save money, but time too. Remember that nerve gas scare at Washington Senate Office Building a week ago? It took three hours to test the air and get an all clear. But the wasps would have known immediately. They'd have looked like this, aimless milling, instead of a focus on food. (On camera): Since the DOD contacted you, you've actually realized that these little buggers can sense a whole lot more than you even imagined?

LEWIS: The level of success that we have achieved in exploring this avenue is far beyond the fondest imagination that we had.

KAYE (voice-over): Dr. Lewis says the wasps can learn to pick up any odor. One day, they may track TNT, anthrax, even ricin. He can train them to recognize the smell of decaying flesh, so they could be used to detect bodies. Or play a role in food safety by sniffing out mold. Even the drug trade, since they can recognize the odor of marijuana. The options are limitless. And of course, so are the bugs.


KAYE (on camera): Well, you're probably wondering how many wasps the Department of Defense may have access to. Dr. Lewis says he can train thousands per day. He's hoping soon to make that hundreds of thousands per day, so there would be an army of insects, if you will. But the problem is, each wasp only lives about three weeks. So the training, actually, Heidi, has to be pretty constant.

COLLINS: Yes, expensive too, if they're only around for that long, just three weeks.

I have so many questions. Let me begin with, is this the only type of insect that can actually be trained to do this kind of work?

KAYE: Actually, no. Dr. Lewis is exploring using mosquitoes too. He's already trained mosquitoes to detect nerve gas and explosives. So, not only might we see wasps in the very near future on the frontlines of this War on Terror, but we might see mosquitoes buzzing along right beside them.

COLLINS: So, how will we know when the DOD is going to sign up -- if they will.

KAYE: Yes, that's the thing. We may never know. Dr. Lewis believes he'll know because he may very well be part of the training in these wasps. But this is a highly covert operation, very secretive. So we actually may never know if they're being used.

COLLINS: At least it was until tonight.

KAYE: Yes. Well, if they're being used, we'll never know.

COLLINS: Yes, this is true.

Now, I got to tell you a little bit about my friend Randi here, who is also a fellow Minnesotan. She is very used to working with mosquitoes. But check this out. We happen to know, Randi, that it was skillful editing that allows you to look so cool and calm as you pulled your hand out of that little tank of those nice wasps. Check this out. Viewers really should see what happened. KAYE: I don't think so.

COLLINS: I think so. Here's the director's cut.


KAYE (on camera): how easy they are to work with. As I put my hand inside their cage here, move it around, even touch them, they don't sting me. (Yeaach!)


COLLINS: Wimp. You know, they don't really sting.

KAYE: They actually don't. They're very nice, very friendly. But you know, who wants to put their arm in a cage full of bugs, right? Not me.

COLLINS: That don't sting?

KAYE: Right.

COLLINS: It's frightening.

KAYE: But they crawl on you. No, too close for comfort there.

COLLINS: Randi Kaye, thank you very much.

KAYE: Thank you.

COLLINS: We'll bring the bugs next time.

Well, a dog can smell a treat a football field away. Can it also smell a malignant tumor in time to save a life? A remarkable story coming up.

And imagine school kids waking up when they want, studying when they want, and what they want or just not studying at all, having some fun. There are people in this country actually trying that. So does it work? We'll talk about when 360 continues.


COLLINS: All right, so in the this is no news at all department, it has long been known that dogs can certainly smell trouble. Now here's the part that is news -- and pretty big news, too. It may be that dogs can also smell medical trouble, actual life-threatening medical trouble. No kidding. At some point the lab in lab tests may refer a Labrador.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports.



COHEN: ... play with them, and rely on them. But a new study is making extraordinary claims that just may change the way you think about your four-legged friend and that curious wet nose.

That's because dogs could be the newest weapon in the war against cancer. Researchers in California say they trained five dogs to smell the disease on a person's breath, with an amazing degree of accuracy -- 99 percent of the time with lung cancer, 88 percent of the time with breast cancer. Results that are raising hopes, creating international headlines, and making stars out of the dogs involved in the study.

Michael McCulloch was lead researcher.

(On camera): Were you surprised by how accurate the dogs were?

MICHAEL MCCULLOCH, LEAD RESEARCH: We were very surprised by how accurate they were. The dogs were spot on. They were identifying who had cancer, and they were also saying who didn't.

COHEN (voice-over): Dogs diagnosing cancer? Sure, it sounds crazy, but is it that farfetched? Dogs' sense of smell is legendary, so strong, so reliable, that we count on it to sniff out bombs, detect drugs, and find the missing and deceased, when no human can.

So, researchers like McCulloch say it's entirely possible that, sometimes, dogs know our bodies better than we do.

MCCULLOCH: Because a dog may be telling the person something about them that they don't know yet.

COHEN: This is Kobi, a walking, wagging, tumor detective, and one of five dogs McCulloch and his team trained to sniff out cancer. How did they do it?

We asked McCulloch and his team to stage a sample test, so we could see for ourselves. It starts with five people, four healthy and one with cancer, exhaling into plastic tubes like these.

Inside the tubes, fibers capture microscopic particles from their breath. The tubes are then placed in bowls one yard apart from each other, while dog and handler wait outside. The rest is up to Kobi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to work. Let's go to work.

COHEN: Time after time after time. Six times out of six attempts, Kobi gets it right, sitting at the cancer sample to mark his discovery.

(On camera): These rates are actually higher than mammograms, higher than Pap smears.

MCCULLOCH: Well, the results were just so high, we were just astounded. MARIA, KOBI'S OWNER: What do you smell, Kobi? What do you smell?

COHEN (voice-over): Kobi's owner, Maria, was equally impressed.

(on camera): Does it give you a new appreciation for a dog's powers?

MARIA: Oh, definitely, definitely. You always hear that dogs have this amazing sense of smell, but you just never realize how amazing it is, until tests like these are done.

COHEN (voice-over): And with 20 to 40 times as many smell receptors in their noses as we have, some researchers believe that a dog's sense of smell may be 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than ours.

(On camera): Could any household dog be trained to do this?

MCCULLOCH: I believe almost any dog has the hardware, the nose and the brain, to be able to smell things accurately.


MCCULLOCH: What really makes the difference is the willingness of the dog to learn and to work together with people.


COHEN (voice-over): No one knows exactly what the dogs are smelling when they stop at a cancer sample, but experts say it probably has something to do with tiny biochemical markers emitted by cancer cells. But some wonder, 88 percent accuracy, 99 percent accuracy? Those numbers are almost unheard of in medicine.


COHEN: One renowned dog trainer said he seriously questions the findings.

MYERS: I'm excited about the findings, but cautiously optimistic at best -- a little skeptical at this point.

COHEN: Larry Myers, a veterinarian and professor at Auburn University, has been training detection dogs for 25 years. He says it takes 13 weeks to train dogs to sniff out bombs, and doubts any dog could be trained to detect cancer in just three weeks, a claim the study makes.

MYERS: Three weeks is awfully fast. It's not like pushing a button and seeing that it works or doesn't. Dogs require training. Dogs require maintenance. They're not the panacea. They're just one part of the tool kit in trying to find things.

COHEN: A respected cancer researcher says he, too, is skeptical. Donald Berry, the head of biostatistics at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, has authored more than 200 articles on cancer. He also reviewed McCulloch's study.

DR. DONALD BERRY, HEAD OF BIOSTATS, MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER: It may be true. I would be astounded if it were true. It's not impossible. It's just quite unlikely.

COHEN: But wait. Is this just Western establishment medicine looking down their noses at a study done by a small alternative medicine clinic?


COHEN: That's what Nancy Best thinks.

BEST: That I'm sitting here alive today to tell you that, if it weren't for Mia, I would be gone.

Mia, good girl.

COHEN: Mia is Nancy's dog, an untrained yellow Lab who she says sniffed and sniffed at Nancy's right breast, until she finally paid attention.

BEST: Mia came running in, and jumped up on my lap, and dove with her nose into my chest. And that's when I found the lump, because it hurt when she pressed her nose there.

COHEN: Sure enough, a lab confirmed Nancy had cancer, stage-two carcinoma in the exact spot where Mia had sniffed. Nancy needed surgery and chemotherapy.

(On camera): That must have blown your mind, when you...

BEST: That blew my mind away when the diagnosis came back positive. And, then, I -- it really hit me, that this is what she had been trying to tell me all along, was that I had cancer, and I just wasn't listening.

COHEN (voice-over): That was six years ago. Today, Nancy is cancer free, she says, because of the early detection.

(On camera): Did Mia save your life?

BEST: Yes, she did. I know she did.

COHEN (voice-over): Researchers admit there's a lot of more work to be done. But if dogs can actually sniff out cancer before it spreads, it would certainly give new meaning to the term man's best friend.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, San Anselmo, California.


COLLINS: Fascinating.

Well, the race to keep the unspeakable from happening. The clearing away of rubble in New Orleans, in which there may still be bodies. Sound impossible? Well, it's not. Find out why this search for victims is on hold. We're "Keeping them Honest."

And the secrets of Olympic athletes. No, not the training or fitness secrets. Better than that, the sleep secrets. When 360 continues.


COLLINS: We have done a considerable amount of reporting on the thousands of people still on record as missing in New Orleans and those who have lost their lives. The sad truth, of course, is right now one place to ID those found is no longer open. And as you can imagine, a lot of people want to know why.

"Keeping them Honest," tonight, CNN's Sean Callebs.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A grim sign, and the only indication that today, yet another body has been removed from a New Orleans home. Nearly six months after Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's put this in the person's mouth. Yep.

CALLEBS: Normally, doctors would use forensic techniques to try to identify the body. But the State Medical Examiner Dr. Louis Cataldie says he no longer has the equipment. Why?

FEMA built this enormous new morgue about an hour north of New Orleans to do just this kind of examination on what authorities feared would be 10,000 to 20,000 people killed in the storm. It cost $17 million. But after examining only 60 bodies, FEMA shut it down Monday, saying its work was done, and keeping it open would cost $230,000 a week.

DR. LOUIS CATALDIE, LOUISIANA MEDICAL EXAMINER: Oh, would I like to have the use of the facility? Sure. Do I understand that there is a timeline and there's, you know, they need to pull their staff out? Absolutely.

CALLEBS: FEMA officials didn't want to go on camera, but pointed out that they told Cataldie in December they would be closing the site. Still, FEMA has no clear plans for the facility, so the bunk beds, washers and dryers and gym equipment for its staff are being mothballed.

The high-tech autopsy gear, already shipped out. Cataldie says, he thought by now most of the 2,100 people still listed as missing, would have been accounted for. But as it turns out, he's still expecting to find scores more bodies.

CATALDIE: We certainly feel we have, depending on rough, rough estimates, 60 to 100 bodies in the Ninth Ward, so. Folks that need to be recovered. CALLEBS: But in a sign of just how many problems New Orleans faces and how those problems are so often connected, not only is the $17 million morgue off limits, the city also doesn't have the $400,000 it would cost to find the bodies and hasn't been able to get the money from FEMA.

STEVE GLYNN, NEW ORLEANS RESIDNET: It's extremely frustrating and it's been frustrating since we shut down.

CALLEBS (on camera): Steve Glynn is the chief of the fire department special ops unit. From October until December 10, he worked with team, using cadaver dogs, going through the debris from splintered homes. He tells CNN the dogs made at least 58 hits, meaning probable human remains.

FEMA says the city should go ahead and look for the bodies and then ask FEMA to reimburse it for the $400,000 it costs. The cash- strapped city says it needs the money first because it only has enough cash to pay firefighters for emergency operations.

GLYNN: You know, I've talked to a number of officials, and it always just kind of seems to go in a circle. We always end up right back where we started.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't understand it.

CALLEBS (voice-over): Lamont Marreros' (ph) invalid mother rode out the hurricane in her house. No one has seen her since. He's convinced she's buried in debris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have 50 bodies and you're not trying to do anything -- you're going to close the facility and people haven't -- people still looking for their family.

CALLEBS: That's right. The government spent $17 million to build this facility, but now is closing it before it's even figured out how to recover and identify the rest of the bodies still buried in the debris.

To families here, it all looks like yet another bureaucratic dead end.

(On camera): I spoke with a FEMA representative in Washington, D.C., and she says she believes the needed $400,000 will quickly be freed up, putting firefighters back on the job and hopefully ending months of anguish for scores of families here.

Sean Callebs, CNN, in New Orleans, Ninth Ward.


COLLINS: Across the country now. These kids aren't going to school. In fact, they're choosing what to learn on their own time. Their parents say it's working. But is it really? We take you inside a radical form of education, called "unschooling," when 360 continues.


COLLINS: No more classes, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks. It's a chant of school kids at summertime. Remember? But what if that was the case all the time? Well, for some kids, it is. A radical form of home schooling allows children to decide what they want to learn and when, without ever having to sit in class. It's called "unschooling," and it's becoming popular with some parents. But, does it really work?

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez takes a look.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daybreak on a typical weekday. And the rush is on to get to school. But not for 5- year-old Alex of Dana Point, California; or 10-year-old Nailah in Marietta, Georgia; or the Park children in Chicago, Illinois. No, these kids will wake up when they're good and ready.

Often after 11:00 a.m.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the end, they are inevitably successful.

GUTIERREZ: Because for Kay Alina of California...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to use the potty?

GUTIERREZ: ... and other parents like her around the country, a strict schedule doesn't matter. Their kids are being "unschooled."

KAY ALINA, "UNSCHOOLING" PARENT: "Unschooling" is basically a child-directed learning. I mean, to me, it's allowing the child to choose his own experience in it, so it's not A, B, C, D, here's what we do, here's what we're going to learn.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): The "unschooling" movement began in the '70s by Education Reformer John Holt. The advocacy group estimates that 150,000 American families "unschool," allowing their kids to decide what they want to learn when they want to learn it.

(Voice-over): Families who "unschool" can typically afford to have one stay-at-home parent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we sit down and figure out what we want to do today?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we go to the park?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and yesterday we did it. Yes, we can go to the park.

GUTIERREZ: Winifred Hahn (ph) of Chicago, is a stay-at-home mom, who "unschools" her three kids.

WINIFRED HAHN (ph), "UNSCHOOLS": Athena wants to go outside and play. All right, Iris, what do you want to do today?

GUTIERREZ: That means they have no set curriculum. Her 9-year- old daughter, Athena, can read if she wants to, or work on crafts; but she'd never be forced to open a math book or take a test.

ATHENA PARKE, 8 YEARS OLD: Basically, you get to do whatever you want. If you're interested in politics, you go on Google and research politics. If you're interested in art, you go look in the library in art. What "unschooling" really means to me is I get to learn in a better and more enjoyable and probably a little bit safer environment.

GUTIERREZ: Alex is unschooled too. His choice? Morning cartoons.

(On camera): Critics out there might say, but he's 5 and he's sitting in front of a television, watching cartoons, as opposed to being in kindergarten, learning how to read and learning math.

ALINA: Way beyond that. Way beyond that. He counts, he reads, his colors he learned at 18 months.

GUTIERREZ: Alex told me he did go to preschool once. It didn't go well.

ALEX KANSTUL, 5 YEARS OLD: School is terrible. They tell you raise your hands and it's actually a really, really terrible place.

GUTIERREZ: Do you learn more at home, do you think?

KANSTUL: Yes, yes, yes, I learn a lot, lot more.

GUTIERREZ: What's your favorite thing to do during the day?

KANSTUL: Go shopping on the computer.

GUTIERREZ: Alex is only 5, but check out his computer skills.

KANSTUL: You go into Internet Explorer, also know as Google.

GUTIERREZ: If you find something that you like, are you allowed to buy it on your own?

KANSTUL: Hey, who knows.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Kay says her son reads at a fourth grade level and counts to 100. But even if he didn't she wouldn't worry. She lets Alex decide what's important to him.

(On camera): But do you think that by allowing him to make all the decisions, that he's actually going to learn discipline and structure and all the things that we need to know to be able to make it in society?

ALINA: He may not be a very good worker bee, but I do believe he has the skills of an entrepreneur.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Nailah Ellis of Georgia is 10. She doesn't go to school either. She spends most of her day doing what she loves most, playing the piano, practicing martial arts and learning Chinese because she wants to, not because she has to.

NAILAH ELLIS, 10 YEARS OLD: I don't want to sound pompous, I think I am learning a little bit more because I can just do everything at my own pace.

GUTIERREZ: Los Angeles School Board Member David Tokofsky says "unschooling" doesn't work.

DAVID TOKOFSKY, LOS ANGELES SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: I just don't know how that kid's going to get a lab chemistry class at home. I don't know how that kid's going to get an introduction to world geography and world history.

GUTIERREZ: But Barbara Ellis says these Georgia state test results are proof that "unschooling" works. Nailah would be in the fourth grade in school, but tested at the seventh grade level in vocabulary, and the ninth grade level in science.

BARBARA ELLIS, "UNSCHOOLING" PARENT: Everything she saw, she absorbed and somehow, along the way, the so-called educational process kicked in and she learned. She actually retained all these things and she learned to love all these things. And not because some book tell her to or some teacher tell her to.

GUTIERREZ: Holt Associates, which offers "unschooling" materials and guidance to parents concedes many "unschoolers" learn to read after age 9, but then it says kids catch up quickly.

A. PARKE: In my case -- I don't write very good, so my mom has me doing writing exercises, instead of talking on the phone with my friends.

GUTIERREZ: "Unschooling" parents say a child's ability to memorize facts they may later forget isn't a true test of intelligence.

STEPHEN PARKE, "UNSCHOOLING" PARENT: Education is a balance between wrote learning and learning how to think. And I personally would rather emphasize learning how to thing.

GUTIERREZ: Stephen Parke has spent lots of time in school. He has PhD in physics. He and his wife believe their kids will make it to college if they choose to.

S. PARKE: So if they're really passionately interested in something, they will learn so much.

GUTIERREZ: And these parents think they will learn so much more than they would have in school because they want to.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: We'd have all Power Rangers in our house, and that'd be it.

Well, ahead on 360, it's just one other thing that sets most of us -- mortals -- apart from Olympic athletes. We'll tell you what it is in just a moment.

But first Erica Hill, from "HEADINE NEWS," joining us now with some of the business stories we're following tonight.

Hi, Erica.

HILL: Hi, Heidi.

In Washington, the new Federal Reserve Chairman testifying before Congress today for the first time since taking office. Ben Bernanke said the economy is on track for good growth this year and also hinted that interest rates could rise to prevent it from overheating.

And it wasn't the only debut on Capitol Hill today. For the first time, executives with some of the biggest U.S. tech companies appeared before Congress to discuss China. The companies have faced criticism in recent months for helping China to enforce censorship laws and to track down government critics. The companies argued they're doing more good than harm. Still, grilled by lawmakers, Yahoo admitted it can't protect the privacy and confidentiality of its Chinese customers from the authorities.

And finally, oil prices -- some good news here -- falling for the fourth straight session today, tumbling now below $58 a barrel. The trigger, a government report showing crude stock piles ballooned four times as much as traders and analysts on Wall Street had expected.

So, always a good thing when the gas price goes down.

COLLINS: Yes, free gas, for everybody.

HILL: Just hope it continues that way.

COLLINS: Yes. All right, Erica, thank you.

It's an Olympic secret that could bring success to just about anyone. Sleep -- why it may be the best way to train for the athletes and the best way for you to find victory in your life. When 360 continues.


COLLINS: As of tonight, Americans have won eight medals at the Winter Olympics in Torino. And with 11 days of competition left, there's a good chance they can rack up many more victories.

Well the best way for winning, may be sleeping. It sounds crazy, but you might want to follow their lead. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta explores the success of slumber.


APOLO OHNO, OLYMPIC SPEED SKATER: I try to get more than eight. Between eight and 10.

GRETCHEN BLEILER, OLYMPIC SNOWBOARDER: You're spinning, you're flipping, all at once. I tend to need 10 hours of sleep each night.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESONDT: These Olympic athletes know something many of us don't. For peek performance, getting enough sleep is critical. Gretchen Bleiler, a champion snowboarder; and Speed Skater Apolo Ohno, a gold medalist four years ago, say all the training they do is wasted without enough sleep.

OHNO: It's crucial. It's everything. I can only recover if I'm sleeping well. It doesn't matter how hard I am training, if I'm not getting enough sleep, it's just wasted.

GUPTA: Yet most Americans manage their lives on less sleep than they need.

MARK ROSEKIND: Right now our society's horribly sleep-deprived. On average, most adults need eight hours; and estimates are that most of us getting probably an hour and a half less than we need.

GUPTA: What these athletes know that many don't realize, sleep affects memory, learning and physical performance.

ROSEKIND: With optimal sleep, you could boost somebody's performance by 30 percent. So, when you think of even just the smallest improvement in reaction time for somebody where literally milliseconds means the difference between silver and gold, it's huge for U.S. Olympic athletes.

GUPTA: So huge, the Olympic Training Center took part in a promotion with Dr. Rosekind to redo athletes' bedrooms, including bigger beds and blackout curtains to help athletes get enough Zs. And the Olympic Committee sent U.S. athletes to the games in Torino, Italy, days before their competition in part, to adjust to the time shift and jet lag.

STEVE ROUSH, U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: Getting their sleep pattern as close to their regular routine as possible is critical for the athlete as they travel and are competing.




GUPTA: Now, getting 10 hours of sleep is no guarantee that Bleiler lands her signature upside down crippler move in Torino. But not getting enough sleep will certainly hurt her performance, just as it will hurt yours. Even if your goal isn't quite as lofty.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


COLLINS: "On the Radar" tonight, Randi Kaye's report on bugs, with a nose for weapons of mass destruction. No surprise our blog is buzzing about it.

Tonya of Pittsburgh wonders, a bit mischievously, "Ah, but can they smell and identify gun-totin' Vice Presidents?"

No comment, Tonya.

Linda of Butler, also in western Pennsylvania, writes, "You've changed my opinion on bugs. Who knew they could be trained to do anything? Well," she goes on to say, "I have heard of the flea circus."

And this from Rachel in Albuquerque, "Now I will think twice before I kill that ugly, disgusting creature. Thanks to 360 I may begin to love bugs...On second thought, maybe not."

And from Nariman in Woodland Hills, California, "Wasps fighting terror? Sounds a little funny to me. What's next, ants doing construction work?"

What can we say? They've got high hopes.

360 continues in just a moment. Stay with us, everybody.


COLLINS: Thanks so much for watching, everybody.

"LARRY KING" is next. His guest? Felicity Huffman and Dolly Parton on Transamercia, the movie that steps inside the transgender world.

Have a great night.


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