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THE SITUATION ROOM
Tents for Operating Rooms; Little Paradise hit Hard; Health Care Reform; Obama's Lumps
Aired January 22, 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: Donations to Haiti relief now have topped $355 million in the United States alone and just about an hour from now CNN will air a global telethon, "Hope for Haiti Now" including our own Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They're live from Haiti. You won't want to miss that. That's coming up.
But right now we're following all the developments out of Haiti. Our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is now on the ground. I asked her about the reports we're hearing about a massive exodus from Port-au-Prince.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it's hard to tell. We from this vantage point haven't really seen that. In fact, what we've seen is more of these tent cities and tent dwellings springing up behind us. But what we do know is over the last 24 hours or so, the government and other authorities have been saying that they want to move some 400 to 500,000 people who are homeless out of the capital and to move them elsewhere.
And today when I came through the city, I certainly saw people who were lined up for a long, long way, many, many blocks outside the still functioning but barely functioning immigration and immigration office. In other words, to renew their passports or just to get new passports because those -- many of them had lost them and people wanted to leave. So that is under way because still although so many supplies are coming in now to the airport, the connection between supply and demand is still not quite firm enough. That means that not many people or not enough people are getting all the food, the water, the shelter, the sanitation, the medical equipment and supplies and treatment that they need, Wolf.
BLITZER: Have you seen evidence, though, of more violence or looting because earlier in the week, we saw that. I don't know if it's really still happening.
AMANPOUR: Well, here's the thing, Wolf. It has happened a little earlier in the week, but despite some of the pictures and the stories, it really was a small scale, it really was localized. It was just in a few instances and, in fact, by the end of the week, the U.N. had pronounced Port-au-Prince mostly stable and calm. But we did see today not a little bit, just a little bit away from where we are right now was a bit of vigilante justice whereby a man we saw dead in the street. He had been stoned to death. The people around him, the crowds, just right here had said that they believed he was one of those who had escaped from the prison that first day of the earthquake which collapsed so many buildings, including the prison, and that he had stolen something. So that's what they were saying. But anyway, justice was taken into their own hands and he was lying dead on the street. But these are, as far as we can tell and as far as we can get reports from even outside Port- au-Prince, these are very isolated incidents.
BLITZER: And the government of Haiti, is it really in charge over there, or is it basically they've delegated all sorts of responsibilities to the U.N. or the U.S. or others?
AMANPOUR: You know it's a bit of both. The fact of the matter is that the government on the very first day of the earthquake said we need help; we cannot cope on our own and as it's been reported over the last nine days since the earthquake or more that just about all the major ministries were either damaged or flattened. Ministers have had to sort of reconvene, as you know. The president Rene Preval operates out of a building near the airport there, the police headquarters, and so it's a very difficult way to function right now.
Slowly, slowly they're getting back. But the truth is, as you say, the bulk of the emergency relief operation is being done mostly by the United States, by the other -- the U.N., by the other foreign and international forces who have been coming here. But everybody is very careful to say that it's done in coordination and at the behest of the Haitian government.
BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour in Port-au-Prince. This programming note -- Christiane's program, "AMANPOUR", will be live from Port-au-Prince this Sunday 2:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.
In the race to save lives, American surgeons from a major medical center are now working inside giant tents over at Haiti's airport. CNN's Jonathan Mann takes us behind the scenes.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in the very busy operating rooms at the University of Miami Hospital, the largest field hospital operating in Port-au-Prince. There are now -- well they're expecting to get about 250, 300 patients but the hospital is literally growing, putting up more tents on the grounds of the Port-au-Prince airport and receiving more patients all the time. Behind me you can see surgeons at work. They're trying essentially to clean up an amputation that's become infected; a patient who's lost their right arm is now having the doctors take a second go. It was already done.
Here doctors are working on a broken femur, another one of the kinds of injuries that are being seen here in Haiti. Now and for the weeks to come this kind of hospital is what Haiti needs more of. It needs more trained surgeons, it needs more hospitals full of supplies, and it needs more patients getting to the care they need. What we've seen in the first few days and in the days to come are infections that have set in because people don't have enough access to medical care. This is the University of Miami Hospital and the man running it says Haiti needs a lot more hospitals just like this.
BLITZER: Jonathan Mann reporting for us from the airport in Haiti. Our correspondents now on the ground, they're getting out well beyond the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, and they're trying to get a better sense of the damage on the day the quake hit and what has happened since then. CNN's Ivan Watson filed this report.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're reporting to you from the impoverished fishing village called Petit Paradis (ph). That means little paradise. It's a stunningly beautiful place. The people here though have been hit hard by this earthquake, and in a new way they have been describing what they -- what appears to have been on the evening of the 12th something like a tidal wave, a tsunami-like wave that claimed the lives of at least four people here.
If you look over my shoulder here, there is a lone tree and some bushes. And a little bit more than a week and a half ago, the beach extended out to there. You could walk out there until, as these fishermen have described to me, Mr. Steve Bijou (ph) here on the day of the earthquake the water receded and then a huge wave swept in.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WATSON: And Steve says the water receded and there was a rumbling sound like a helicopter, and then a huge wave swept over. And he earlier told me that it swept away his father and two of his infant nephews, aged 2 and 4, and another fisherman here says that his sister was doing laundry by the sea and she was swept out. And to add to the tragedy here, none of them were able to hold funerals because they have yet to recover their bodies of their loved ones.
Ivan Watson, CNN, in Petit Paradis, in Haiti.
BLITZER: Amazing story. Remember we're standing by for the start of this global telethon on how you and people all over the world can help the people of Haiti right now. That's coming up here -- Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper, George Clooney, Wyclef Jean, many other celebrities from around the world, they're going to be part of this telethon that you will see here on CNN. That's coming up. Stand by, don't go away.
Also, Brian Todd is on the ground and has a very disturbing story that we're going to share with you about -- came upon a mass grave in Haiti. We'll tell you what's happening on that front.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, a majority of Americans want Congress to put the brakes on health care reform. A new "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows 55 percent of those surveyed say lawmakers should suspend work on the current health care bills and consider alternatives. Only 39 percent say they want Congress to try to pass the current bill. Thirty-two say the president and Democrats are right to make health care reform their top priority right now, but 46 percent say health care is important but that other problems should be addressed first and 19 percent say it ought not to be a priority at all.
Meanwhile, President Obama is vowing to press ahead even though he acknowledges that health care reform has, quote, "run into a bit of a buzz saw", an understatement. Party leaders like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi insists that health care will move forward, but other lawmakers, much like the American public, are losing their appetite for this fast action. Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd says his colleagues should, quote, "maybe take a breather for a month, six weeks", unquote to regroup after the loss in Massachusetts.
There is no question this week's election to fill Senator Kennedy's Senate seat has made the road to health care reform more difficult because you see a Republican won that election. Pelosi has ruled out what was preferred -- a preferred option for some Democrats. That was the House passing the Senate bill as is. She doesn't have the votes to do that.
And although there is a sense that a scaled-back health care bill might be the best route for Congress to take, even that might be easier said than done given the current political winds that are blowing across Washington, D.C. So here's the question, should Congress give up trying to pass health care? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and let us know your thoughts -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a difference a few days makes in that whole...
CAFFERTY: Boy didn't it change on a dime...
BLITZER: Goes to show you -- all right, Jack, thank you.
A warning about our next story -- it contains graphic and disturbing images and content. Certainly if you have children watching, you may not want them to watch. In Haiti there are so many bodies in the streets and very few places to put them. Piles upon piles of the dead are being buried in mass graves. One man handling them says he recently received 10,000 bodies in a single day. Our Brian Todd is on the scene and has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm here in an area called (INAUDIBLE) just northwest of Port-au-Prince. It seems like just kind of an excavation operation going on here with rubble being moved that might have been cleared from the city. We found out it's something very, very different.
(voice-over): A dump truck pulls up the slope and moves into position.
TODD: This notch in the open hills just northwest of Port-au- Prince takes in some debris from the earthquake, but the massive trenches about 10 feet deep serve a much more grim purpose. This is Titanyen (ph), where a road maintenance company run by the Haitian government is depositing bodies in a mass grave.
(on camera): We weren't quite sure what was coming out of the dump truck when it was first dumping some cinderblock and a lot of rock and some trash. Clearly you can see a body right there with flies swarming around it. We believe there is another body underneath this corrugated metal because flies have congregated under there. There appears to be some kind of bone sticking out right there, and the smell here is pretty overwhelming. There they go.
TODD (voice-over): In an instant, an earth mover covers them in dirt and gravel. Site manager (INAUDIBLE) says tens of thousands have been buried here without ceremony, that he received about 6,000 in one day. Many of them don't arrive intact. While we're there, another convoy pulls up.
TODD: Amid the rock, cinder and metal dumped, a human arm protrudes and on the other side a hand. An official with the International Committee of the Red Cross tells us it does not condemn this practice outright, but with a translator's help I asked (INAUDIBLE) about one criticism the Red Cross does have.
(on camera): There is criticism from the International Red Cross from some churches that you're not allowing bodies to be photographed for identification. What does he say to that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says (INAUDIBLE) Red Cross around here and he doesn't know anything about it. So he has to do what he's doing right now because of the smelling of the bodies.
TODD (voice-over): Other members of Fakir's (ph) team say in their bloated dismembered condition, many of these victims cannot be identified. Shovel operator Esther Vixamair (ph) points to where she buried several bodies this morning. She says in 10 years working construction, she never imagined doing this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She doesn't like the way she's doing it. She says she is a woman, but she has to do it to help people, but it's against her faith the way she's digging (INAUDIBLE) she doesn't like it.
TODD (on camera): And just with another movement of a pile of rubble, another leg popped out right there. They're saying they're doing this for sanitary reasons, to get the bodies under the ground. The end result is that person there their relatives may never know that they're here. It looks like they're about to vanish without a trace -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A very sad story indeed -- Brian Todd doing his job. We're going to go and check some other top stories when we come back including Britain, it's raised its terror threat level -- what's going on? We'll have that report, also later this hour, going back to Haiti for the back story on the rescue of a woman.
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well Britain is raising its threat level from substantial to severe, indicating a terrorist attack -- attack -- rather is highly likely. However, the British home secretary said there's no intelligence to suggest an attack is imminent. The U.K.'s move comes as London prepares to host an international conference on Afghanistan next week and after Britain suspended all direct flights to Yemen.
Despite setbacks, President Obama is vowing to fight on for health care reform, jobs and the economy, trying to cast himself as a populist at an Ohio town hall event today. The president said his efforts had run into, quote, "a buzz saw". But he adds he's not giving up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ohio. So long as I have some breath in me, so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will not stop fighting for you. I will take my lumps, but I won't stop fighting to bring back jobs here.
OBAMA: I won't stop fighting for an economy where hard work is rewarded. I won't stop fighting to make sure there is accountability in our financial system. I'm not going to stop fighting until we have jobs for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: On health care reform, President Obama was not specific though about what kind of legislation he may now be backing. The president is also facing potentially another setback. With only a week left before Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's term ends the Senate now lacks the 60 votes to force a confirmation vote. The White House is now scrambling for support as more Democratic senators say they plan to vote against giving Bernanke a second term. Senators Barbara Boxer and Russell Feingold both have said they plan to vote against Bernanke.
Severe flooding in Arizona from a powerful storm system, it appears the ground below the home that you see there, has been washed away by floodwaters and tragically a 6-year-old boy was swept away by rising waters as his family tried to flee a road in central Arizona -- well a very dangerous situation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Amazing -- amazing what Mother Nature can do in a situation like that, Lisa. Thanks very much.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Port-au-Prince. He's getting ready for the telethon, the global telethon that is about to air on CNN with George Clooney and Anderson Cooper. We're going to speak to Sanjay in just a moment.
BLITZER: We'll get back to Haiti in a few moments. They're getting ready for the telethon, the global telethon that comes up here on CNN. We're going to show that to you. But there's some other news we're watching, including President Obama. He acknowledged today he's taking some lumps now that Democrats are losing their 60-seat supermajority in the U.S. Senate.
And joining us now, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin -- they're the co-authors of "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the Race of a Lifetime" (ph). It debuts number one on "The New York Times" bestsellers list. Guys thanks very much for coming in -- congratulations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you Wolf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for having us, Wolf, and thank you on the book.
BLITZER: All right, let's start with you Mark. Before we talk about the book, this dramatic win by this Republican in Massachusetts, Scott Brown, how big of a setback is that for the president?
MARK HALPERIN, CO-AUTHOR, "GAME CHANGE": I think it can't be overstated, Wolf, that it has short-term and long-term implications. I can't help but borrow the title of our book. It is a huge game changer. Unexpected by the White House up until the closing days of this special election, I think if the White House is not seriously rewriting both the State of the Union and the budget, they're making a big mistake. This has huge implications for Obama and how he strategizes going forward and for the Democratic Party.
BLITZER: It's not just Massachusetts, John. There were statewide contests in Virginia, then New Jersey, now Massachusetts. What's going on? Why are the Democrats suffering? JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-AUTHOR, "GAME CHANGE": Well you know Wolf, I think it's a great point to make because Democrats, of course, were slightly in denial about Virginia and New Jersey, and they sort of wanted to say that they were just about local issues. And I think what we're seeing now is, look, the Independents in the country who swung strongly for Obama in 2008, they've drifted strongly away from him over the course of the last two years. He is -- we are living in a populist moment in America and somehow the administration has managed to put itself both on the sides of big government and big business and that's not a great place to be at a populist moment in American politics.
BLITZER: How much credit do the Tea Party advocates, Mark, deserve for this Republican renaissance or whatever you want to call it?
HALPERIN: I think the energy in that portion of the conservative movement has been incredibly important. It has drawn the White House into some fights that they probably would have been better off either ignoring or stamping out. But it is not the long-term future of the Republican Party. I think if you look at the way Brown won this race, he brought elements to it, particularly a sunny disposition, rather than some of the anger you see in the Tea Party movement that I think played a huge role, and I think Republicans around the country are going to be looking at what (INAUDIBLE) tactic, strategy and message, including that sunny disposition, and the smart ones will borrow a lot of it.
BLITZER: In the book you write about some setbacks during the campaign, John, and then candidate Obama managed to deal with it and move on and succeed. Given his nature, the personality that he has, the background, how does he deal with this setback now and regroup?
HEILEMANN: Well I think it's -- you know in the course of the campaign, Wolf, there were a number of times when he was urged by so much of the Democratic Party to take drastic -- make drastic changes both in the nomination fight when he was far behind Hillary Clinton in the fall of 2007, and then later in the early fall of 2008 when John McCain moved ahead a little bit in the polls on the back of Palin mania.
You know the campaign kept its head and kept cool and sort of dismissed as (INAUDIBLE) Democratic bedwetting all of the calls from the establishment for (INAUDIBLE) change its posture. That served them really well during the campaign. The question now is whether they've kind of over learned that lesson and whether they can make a dramatic course correction now as opposed to a more incremental one that they seem to be kind of inclined towards.
BLITZER: Is that description of no drama Obama, Mark, accurate?
HALPERIN: It's totally accurate and it's something that as John just suggested is another thing that served him well in the campaign. We see in our book, for instance, after the New Hampshire primary, Obama is incredibly calm even as some of his advisers are kind of freaking out, contrast with Hillary Clinton, as we write in "Game Change", panicked and angry after she loses the Iowa caucuses. That gave him a head-up against her, comparably against John McCain.
Now I think the no-drama and the lack of anger and passion I think may well be hurting him. I think there are some issues on the table particular related to the economy, some with national security where maybe not drama is called for, but again at least passion and intensity rather than the kind of professorial (ph) talk that we've seen from him in some of these big moments in the White House.
BLITZER: Based on his experience during the campaign, do you expect, John, heads to roll right now or is he going to keep that team that brought him to the White House in place?
HEILEMANN: You know there are two things about Barack Obama and personnel, Wolf. And one of them is that he loves to have a small group of advisers around him. He likes to not -- he doesn't have a broad circle. And in the White House, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod are the trusted inner circle. I don't imagine any one of them is going anywhere.
At the same time in the campaign there were examples of times when Obama was happy to throw someone who was on the outer, more on the periphery under the bus, and I can imagine easily in the course of the next few months some of that happening to signal that they get that they need to make changes. There is already speculation around the possibility of someone from his economic team being tossed and I think there is a not unreasonable chance that maybe Tim Geithner will find himself out of a job over the course of the next few weeks or months.
BLITZER: The Treasury secretary -- do you agree with that, Mark?
HALPERIN: Well, I think that the president has lacked a strong chief economics spokesperson. It can't be the president of the United States for a variety of reasons. Tim Geithner, I think, has improved in the job, but I don't think the country is looking on a regular basis to Tim Geithner to come out and make inspiring and tough statements about how we're going to deal with this horrible economy, so I'm not sure he's going to go. I do think the president would be better served if someone, if it's not Tim Geithner, someone to become a much more prominent, energized, optimistic spokesperson for dealing with the economic issues the country faces.
BLITZER: The book is entitled "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime" (ph). The author is John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the best political reporters I know -- guys, thanks very much for coming in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Wolf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're going back to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is standing by. We'll speak with him. Also we'll have the back story on the rescue of a woman in Haiti.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Remember, a "Hope for Haiti" telethon is about to start right here on CNN. It's a global telethon that you're going to want to watch. George Clooney is joining this telethon together with Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper, Wyclef Jean and many others. That's coming up here on CNN. I think you're going to want to watch this and it will inspire you, I have no doubt.
For many of the Haitians who are hungry, thirsty, homeless and injured, right now, help can't come fast enough. And for all too many of the earthquake victims, help still hasn't come at all. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has brought us some remarkable coverage of this story.
Sanjay, have things gotten better or worse over these nearly two weeks you've been there?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've certainly gotten better, Wolf. There's no question about that. But remember where we started, first of all, where Haiti was even the day before the earthquake. And we talked about this a lot, but obviously, this is a country that is very impoverished. And, as a result, you have that affecting everything, including the medical infrastructure -- few hospitals, so many patients, one of the -- one of the lower physician to patient ratios anywhere in the world.
But over the -- and right during the time of the earthquake, obviously, a lot of people sort of just figuring out how to react to this earthquake, at least initially -- Wolf, obviously, a lot of people died during the earthquake and a lot of people lived. But there were a lot of people who were sort of caught in between, if you will -- they were alive, but -- but just dramatically injured. And that's where the medical focus has been for the last couple of weeks.
At first, you know, there were just stories of hardly any resources at all -- forget about antibiotics and pain medications, you simply couldn't even get I.V.s, water or just basic supplies to these people. That has started to improve.
There's 300 water and food stations now around the city. MREs, which are known as meals ready to eat, those have been dropped off, about 600,000 of them. So that has improved.
But there's still this frustrating, nagging issue of getting some of these basic medical supplies -- antibiotics, which can prevent potentially life-threatening infections; pain medications to ease suffering at this time; and instruments to perform these operations, which we've talked so much about. It's better, but nowhere near where it should be, Wolf, certainly not this far out.
BLITZER: And I take it the country could use a whole lot more doctors, nurses, medical supplies and sophisticated equipment, which we sort of take for granted here in the United States, but which would be essential in keeping people who survived, but are badly injured, alive. GUPTA: Yes, you know, it -- it's interesting, because every natural disaster sort of has its own personality. You don't know exactly what you're going to get. But the tsunami, for example, there were people who died and -- but the people who lived, for the most part, weren't injured. They needed food, they needed water. They didn't need a lot of these medical supplies that we're talking about.
As far as personnel goes, actually boots on the ground, that has improved probably the most significantly when it comes to medical care. I mean there's a lot of doctors and nurses that have shown up from all over the world, people flying into the Dominican Republic, coming across the border. Some planes, as you know, Wolf, have been able to land at the airport at Port-au-Prince. So personnel-wise, I think they're coming up to speed.
But the other issues, the supplies, the -- the instruments, all -- all the medications that we were talking about, that is still not up to snuff.
I will say that, you know, I -- I had visited the airport; I've seen some of these places where they have stockpiles of the these -- these particular supplies. And it's particularly irksome, because so many of those supplies are here in country, here in the city even, but getting them distributed from the airport to -- to these critically devastated locations has been a real challenge. And it -- it's unclear as to exactly why that is.
But supplies in the city, getting them distributed now, that -- that really is going to be the goal, I think, over the next week and several more days after that.
BLITZER: How worried, Sanjay, are you about disease? Whether meningitis or some of these other diseases breaking out given the widespread unsanitary conditions, shall we say, all over the place including a lot off mass graves, open graves with bodies?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting. People will always talk about a potential second wave of disease, and I've heard it described even as something that could be a bigger killer than the earthquake itself. If you look back through history, including other natural disasters, the second wave, at least a significant second wave, often doesn't occur.
But, there is concern, don't get me wrong, about diseases that could spread person to person. There is concern about diseases that can spread through the water. When it comes to these bodies, for example, dead bodies in the streets, obviously very emotionally devastating to continue to see these bodies, but from a public health standpoint, these bodies don't necessarily pose a public health risk or not a significant one. When a body dies, the organisms that could potentially be catastrophic, those organisms often die with the body, as well.
If there is a huge rainfall, for example, all of a sudden the water supply becomes contaminated, that would be a problem. If you have an outbreak of typhoid fever or something like that, for example, that would be a problem.
Respiratory illnesses can spread in close quarters and you can see behind me, even tents, people living in close quarters, that can be a problem. But as far as things like measles, hepatitis, cholera, those are a potential concern, but we haven't seen that yet. And talking to public health officials, I think the list is surprisingly, and in a good way, rather low.
BLITZER: That's good to hear about that. We've seen some pictures of violence, some looting. But you've traveled all over Port-au-Prince and the whole area. Give us some perspective.
GUPTA: Well you know, the perspective is this, you have people who have been without basic supplies, some of them, for a long time, now. Haiti is Haiti in terms of its climate. It is hot, people are thirsty all the time, they've been dehydrated from maybe being stuck in buildings after the earthquake. Frankly, I expected a lot more in terms of violence. I expected a lot more in terms of did he desperation. There have been isolated cases of violence.
There was a man, not to long ago, I was told that was stoned to death not far from here. He was accused of trying to steal something and it was sort of citizen injustice. There have been other sort descriptions of potential violence, as well. But there are also other stories of people waiting in line for hours under this Haiti hot sun waiting for water, waiting in order were a lot of people in the hot sun waiting for water, waiting in order, no pushing, no shoving, no armed guards, waiting patiently to get that water. So for the most part, it would be hard to generalize and say that there is a lot of violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
I think for the most part, at least what I've seen, it seems to have been pretty isolated.
BLITZER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent, doing some incredible, incredible reporting for us. On behalf of all of our viewers, Sanjay, thanks so much for what you and your entire team on the ground in Haiti have been doing. Appreciate it very much. Thanks Sanjay.
GUPTA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And remember, Sanjay will be part of the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon that starts here on CNN. That's coming up fairly soon. Let's check in with Lisa Sylvester. She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM, right now.
What else is going on -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Vice President Joe Biden is in Iraq, right now. Biden plans to meet with Iraqi leaders about the country's upcoming elections. A major dispute, though, is brewing about whether hundreds of candidates should be blacklisted over suspended links to Saddam Hussein's regime. The blacklist has raised tension between the Shiite majority and the Sunnis. Biden will also meet with U.S. troops. But it is -- and this is, in fact, his fourth visit to Iraq as vice president.
Auto dealers are fighting back. At least 900 General Motors and Chrysler dealerships that got the ax as the Detroit automakers went though bankruptcy, plan to appeal their shut-down. The American Arbitration Association says almost 3,000 dealerships were scrapped and they have until Monday to file for an independent arbitration of their case.
Well, if you're one who likes a beer with your burger, you may want to head to a Miami Burger King. The chain is opening its very first U.S. locations that serve alcohol. For about $8, customers at the Whopper Bar South Beach can pair a burger with fries and a brew. And analysts say the chain is looking to reinvent itself as a fast- food restaurant with a sit-down feel. So, we'll see if that works.
And the first live tweet from space as astronauts from International Space Station finally gain Internet access. Surprising it's taken this long. Before tweets had to be relayed through mission control, but now thanks to a software upgrade, space station residents can they can tweet and surf the Web using a system that uses a laptop to control a desktop computer on earth. So, I think that's pretty cool, don't you, Wolf?
BLITZER: Very cool. That's a lot cooler than what I just tweeted, but still very, very cool. Appreciate it.
SYLVESTER: Yeah, you're very popular on Twitter? Is it something like a half a million followers?
BLITZER: I got a lot. I got a lot, but I just told all of our viewers to get ready to watch "Hope for Haiti Now," this global telethon that's coming up on CNN. I hope they do -- I hope they not only watch, I hope they going to make a phone call, give some money and do a little texting and get some cash going because this is really important stuff.
All right, thanks very much, Lisa, for that. Lisa Sylvester, the newest member of our of our SITUATION ROOM team.
When we come back, we have the back story of a rescue of a woman in Port-au-Prince. You're going to want to see this.
BLITZER: We've seen some amazing rescues in Haiti over the last 10 days, and bringing them to you is a team effort. Take a look at what went on behind the scenes as our CNN senior executive producer, Alec Miran was called into action. Our thanks to the CNN International program, BACK STORY, for this back story gripping video. Take a look.
ALEC MIRAN, CNN SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: We are approaching the cathedral, now. We were out here yesterday. It looks like we approaching. (speaking foreign language).
Being diverted by a U.N. gentleman with some heavy equipment, there. Guess we have to do what he says. All right, so now we're taking an alternate route to try to get to the cathedral. It's only a couple blocks away, but it feels like it takes forever to get there when you're -- like you're rushing to cover something like this,
Driver has put on his mask. We're starting to smell some bodies. He told me if they haven't gotten to its (INAUDIBLE).
So now we're looking for Dave Russ, the guy that I've worked with for more than 25 years at CNN. Stay here. Stay here for a second. I go look. Stay here.
So, we haven't found him yet. I'm thinking maybe he's on the other side of the church. We don't have very good communications out here, radio signals limited and cell phone just hasn't been available at all. So, the best thing you can do in these situations, you just sort of walk around and let your instincts carry you and wait until you can find the guy.
No, absolutely, but they desperately need it, we're going to go live on TV, show them the rescue efforts.
What do you need?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
MIRAN: All right, so the head of the search team has just given us permission to come in. I just got to grab the computer. OK, you stay here, yeah? Five minutes, I hope, but stay.
Neil (ph), where's Charlie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Round in back of there, I think. (INAUDIBLE) jumped in the car.
MIRAN: How do I get there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Either walk, but I'd drive around (INAUDIBLE).
MIRAN: What street are they on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
So, there's a rescue, obviously, up there. Must have I heard indications that there are people alive. Where is my cameraman?
Dave, here's your computer. OK, let me ask him what he wants to do.
So, the rescuers have asked everybody to be very quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
MIRAN: So, this gentleman, who is a Mexican rescue worker, says that the Germans are up there and they sent dogs in, some rescue dogs who got a hit and now they're trying to get the person out. So, as you can see Anderson Cooper is reporting live via the phone.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How long do you think we'll be up and running.
MIRAN: Ten minutes.
COOPER: Ten minutes we should be up and running.
MIRAN: So anyway, we're trying to get it so that Anderson can hear Wolf Blitzer or whoever he's going to be talking to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie's on with somebody in Atlanta.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Atlanta, do you hear me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check his I&P (ph) now, please. We're on Channel 3.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, he's got it.
COOPER: CNN, look for the name on the Red Cross list.
MIRAN: I got another battery in.
COOPER: Change the battery, you got to do it now.
(INAUDIBLE) drop this.
COOPER: How much time do you have in the battery?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Change the battery, we may drop out, we've got to change the battery. We're going to change the battery, so we may lose you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have change batteries, you're going to lose the signal for 20 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike, Mike, Mike, then we'll lose it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There, now you should see it again. Hold on. He's back. Now you should see it. You should see it.
MIRAN: So Charlie is coordinating this with the control room in Atlanta.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have the picture?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. Do you have the picture of Anderson? Is the shot up? Yes, good. Good. Let's go.
COOPER: It's unbelievable, but what's even more incredible, there are two more people they believe are trapped in the rubble. I want to bring up the team leader, Frank (INAUDIBLE).
I know you're having a cigarette, it's a long day.
What is going on here?
BLITZER: We now know, by the way, that the woman who was the object of that massive effort was 70-year-old Ena Zizi (ph). She was trapped in the rubble for a full week. She was airlifted to the United States hospital ship with a dislocated hip and a broken leg.
Her son in New York is working right now to try to bring her to Florida for further treatment. He says she's a tough woman and her faith is the reason she survived.
Alec Miran, by the way, the man you saw in that back story, he's working behind the scenes right now. There he is, that's what he looks like. He's one of our veteran producers, one of the best in the business, getting ready for the global telethon coming up, here on CNN. George Clooney, Wyclef Jean, Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta and many, many more celebrities, they're getting ready to raise money for the people of Haiti. You'll want to see this, "Hope for Haiti Now" coming up here on CNN.
We'll take a quick break, when we come back, Jack Cafferty is standing by.
BLITZER: We are back here THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's check in with Jack for the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the question this hour, should Congress give up trying to pass health care?
Ben in Boston writes, "Congress should stop the bureaucratic bribe-ridden mess they have been considering and move to the presidential Republican suggestion to divide the bill into parts that are easy to understand and then vote on each one separately, starting with the parts that have the most support, like prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions."
Jeff writes, "Let's be honest here, the health care bill was never really about health care. It was attempt to transfer one-sixth of our economy away from the private sector and into the hands of the federal government. They got the banks, then the auto industry and the health care industry was next on the list." Pardon me. James writes, "Republicans are the real-life death panels. How many people will die this year because of a look of health coverage?"
Gary writes, "As a small business owner who sees about eight percent of my profits go toward catastrophic health insurance for a handful of people, I was really hoping for some real health insurance reform. Unfortunately, a lot of the members of Congress rely on insurance industry dollars to grease their campaigns. So, reform will probably never happen while these politicians bow down to the big money."
Linda writes, "Unfortunately, the current Senate bill is the only one that might get passed, but since it really does nothing to control costs, I think approval may end up costing people more in the long run. Team Obama doesn't seem to have a good grasp on the strength of the opposition on this or any other topic. I think health care will have to wait until we get some real Democratic leadership."
Ron in California says, "We need to pass health care for all now. Strike while the iron's hot or it will be another 50 years before we get it done."
And Mark in Oklahoma City offers this, "Yes, Congress has my permission to turn the lights off, go home and just leave us the hell alone."
If you want to read more on the subject, you will find it at my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile. Have a good weekend.
Wolf. I will see you Monday.
BLITZER: Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend, Jack. See you Monday here in THE SITUATION ROOM, where we both belong.
CAFFERTY: Well, yes, we do.
BLITZER: All right, Jack Cafferty is a good guy, indeed. Thank you, Jack.
We'll take a quick break. When we come back, Christiane Amanpour, she has a story about efforts at these makeshift camps. What's going on? She is taking us behind the scenes.
BLITZER: President Obama just signed into law this new opportunity for you to make a charitable contribution to help the people of Haiti and get a 2009 tax deduction when you file your income tax this year and the coming weeks and months. They've done this before, they are doing it now to try to get you to raise some money for the people of the -- of Haiti who are suffering from this earthquake.
Our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is now in Haiti. She is looking at the conditions for the thousands of people left homeless by the earthquake.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For days now, you've been seeing these tent villages springing up in parts of Port-au-Prince, which really have become little areas of domestic industry. People are cooking outside, of course, people are also selling, anything from charcoal to try to make a little bit of money, doing their laundry outside, selling whatever fruit they can manage to find, try to sell that and make some money to be able to buy some food and some water.
Now, one of the good things is that there are increasing water points cropping up. For instance, here, UNICEF, the Children's Fund has brought one great big plastic bladder of water. And people ling up to get their water outside.
Various buildings, for instance, hotels that are still standing, some of them have opened up their water lines to the people. And you know what people for want of anywhere better to go are having to wash right there, stay clean and hygienic, but do it right outside on the path in full view. There's no privacy in situations like this.
Refugees or internally displaced people suddenly have to perform all their most intimate daily chores right out into the open because there's no chance to do anything else, they don't have a roof over their head.
And as we move to the presidential palace, where there are, it's estimated, thousands and thousands of people who have lost their homes, who have now gathered there in these impromptu tent cities, that's where -- that's where the government think it is going to relocate all those people, some half a million or so.
BLITZER: I'm wolf Blitzer THE SITUATION ROOM. Up next, the "Hope for Haiti" telethon.