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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Tracking Stimulus Funds; Haiti's Recovery Challenge
Aired January 25, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're live again in Port-au-Prince tonight, and we're going to be here all week, bringing you as close to possible to the streets of Port-au-Prince, to the reality of what is happening here. We think you need to know about it. We think the Haitian people deserve that.
I want to apologize in advance tonight if I cough a little bit through this hour. A few hours ago, they pulled some -- some bodies from the rubble at very close distance to where I'm standing, some people who were found in the rubble. They set those bodies on fire a short time ago. And the air is thick with the smell of the dead. The air is thick with their ashes. They are all around us tonight.
But so, too, are the living, and it's the living we're going to focus on in the hour ahead. Tonight, people here are working their way across a very painful divide, between what happened and what comes next. But, even as they do that, new reminders of what they went through keep turning up.
So, first up tonight, new video that was just taken moments after the tremors hit. This is the first time we are seeing it tonight.
Before we run it, though, what's become our common warning: It may be tough for some to watch. Port-au-Prince in the immediate aftermath, people obviously terrified, dazed, some terribly hurt, many tens of thousands dead or dying. We can't even see the sky because of all the dust in the air.
That scene quickly gave way to rescue operations and now rescue slowly giving way to recovery. We're seeing more earth-moving equipment around town, fewer search teams digging by hand through the rubble. It's hard, because, on Saturday, crews helped a man crawl out of the rubble after 11 days underground. Imagine that.
Nothing, today, however, no new signs of life in the rubble, but people are begging for the searches to go on, parents and loved ones, the people you see on the screen here, included. Students and faculty from Lynn University, South Florida, they are among 4,000 missing Americans. Think about that, 4,000 missing Americans. More Americans than died on 9/11 are now missing in Haiti. We're going to keep following their story -- 59 Americans already confirmed dead, 37 presumed dead.
But, with so many unaccounted for, that number is bound to rise -- 4,000 missing Americans tonight. We're also following some very troubling reports about what could be happening to Haiti's children, child smuggling, child selling, exploitation, fears of it. We will look at the evidence.
And, later, with President Obama getting ready for the State of the Union address and reportedly a change of course from government spending, we're going to look closer to where your stimulus dollars went -- the Stimulus Project tonight and all week.
But we begin here in Port-au-Prince with children who survived so much, but who still are facing great danger.
COOPER (voice-over): It is a rare sound in Haiti these days: kids being kids. These are children orphaned by the earthquake now under the care of UNICEF. They have food and shelter and people watching over them.
But thousands of other new orphans and children separated from their families are still living on the streets in makeshift camps or overcrowded hospitals. Increasingly, doctors and nurses we have talked to are concerned not just about their medical condition, but also about their physical safety.
Dr. Laura Asher works in a hospital camp on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
(on camera): How worried are you about the security of the kids here now?
DR. LAURA ASHER, MEDICAL VOLUNTEER IN HAITI: We are extremely worried. We spent all day yesterday and the last four days going down to the U.N., going up the chain of command. We talked to the U.S. Army. We have spoken to the U.S. Air Force. We have done everything we -- everything has been documented about our attempts to try to get somebody on base to take care of this camp for all of us.
COOPER (voice-over): She says there was a suspicious man on hospital grounds removed several days ago. She's convinced he was trying to steal a child, and feels that no one is listening to her.
ASHER: That is unacceptable. This is unacceptable. And it's not about us. It's not about the physicians alone or the doctors and nurses. It's about these children. That is unacceptable.
COOPER: At another hospital, Dr. Elizabeth Bellino says security is tight, but she worries constantly about someone taking a child.
DR. ELIZABETH BELLINO, MEDICAL VOLUNTEER IN HAITI: I mean, we are on full-on lockdown here. I mean, we have security walking around at all times. And my eye is constantly on at least 20 -- 20 kids. And, especially, I keep an eye out for the orphans.
COOPER (on camera): But you really feel that it's a situation that the kids need actual protection? BELLINO: Oh, oh, yes. Oh, yes.
COOPER (voice-over): UNICEF agrees. They're raising the alarm about the potential for children to be trafficked, stolen for illegal adoptions, sexually exploited, or sold as domestic servants.
BO VIKTOR NYLUND, UNICEF: Well, we have reports coming in that children are being trafficked out of the country, both through the airports, as well as across the borders through Santo Domingo. And this is of course something that we're very concerned about and want to be able to prevent the children of being exploited.
COOPER: Why would -- kids being trafficked, who would be trafficking them?
NYLUND: Well, obviously, this -- when -- when an emergency hits, it's an opportunity for those to try to exploit children. And now they're particularly vulnerable. They don't have parents, many of them, and there's nobody to look after them.
COOPER (voice-over): At greatest risk are the newly orphaned kids or those separated from their families. No one knows how many thousands of them are, but we have met many.
Several days ago, we were introduced to Johnny (ph). He was alone in a ward at General Hospital. He didn't remember his last name. Nurses believed his parents were dead, but no one knew for sure.
We found this group of kids being looked after by some adults in a small church. We were told they were orphans and shown a list of the children's names. We were told they were available for adoption. It wasn't clear if they wanted a local orphanage to take the kids or if they were trying to get them adopted internationally. After quizzing the kids, however, it turned out some of them did have family members who still wanted to care for them.
(on camera): There are a lot of new orphans created by the earthquake and a lot of people around the world who want to adopt them. And that's very understandable. But aid agencies like UNICEF say it's critical that there not be new adoptions just yet. There has got to be a system in place. And, right now, it's just simply too confusing.
And it's not clear who's a real orphan, who may have one parent, who is just separated from their parents, or who may have an extended family that can take care of them in the days and -- and the years ahead.
(voice-over): UNICEF has just begun to identify and track unaccompanied children. And that process will likely take a long time. For now, however, they're trying to find and protect as many kids as fast as they can.
COOPER: And we're now joined by Deb Barry, who is Save the Children.
How real is this threat of trafficking?
DEB BARRY, CHILD PROTECTION ADVISER, SAVE THE CHILDREN: It's a real issue for us.
Today, I was just at a coordination meeting with UNICEF, other agencies, talking about this exact issue. We're hearing lots of reports. And now we're trying to actually verify these reports and come up with real messages that we can actually use to actually change the situation.
COOPER: Because I remember, I was in Sri Lanka after the U.S., and there were a lot of local news reports and hysteria about children being kidnapped. And I remember us tracking them down for days, and the ones we tracked down never really panned out. It turned out the kids had died and it was kind of rumors.
At this point, do you have concrete evidence or just early reports?
BARRY: Early reports right now. Like you were saying about Sri Lanka, we had exactly the same thing after the Pakistan earthquake that I was in, where we got lots of reports.
What we are trying to do right now is to verify those reports, to go out there, find the real facts of whether or not these children are trafficked. But we know that they are at much greater risk right now because they are displaced. They are at new vulnerabilities. And...
COOPER: And Haiti has a long history of -- I mean, there's -- there's a lot of kids who are basically poor kids in Haiti who are sold to a little bit more well-off families in the cities, who live as -- as, some say, slaves or domestic servants.
BARRY: That's right.
Just before the earthquake happened, we had reports of between 250,000 to 350,000 children involved in domestic servitude. So, yes, it is...
COOPER: They call them restaveks here.
BARRY: That's correct.
COOPER: Yes. It's essentially a form of modern-day slavery.
BARRY: That's correct.
BARRY: And, so, we know that these are big issues. And what we want to know now is, what risks now? Why are these even more vulnerable now? Who's taking care of them and how do we actually reach out and get them help and reunited with their families?
COOPER: Part of -- there's such international interest. I mean, I get thousands of e-mails every day from people saying, I really want to adopt a Haitian kid right now. That creates pressure for possibly illegal adoptions, people who want to just pay money, you know, basically take somebody they think is an orphan, put them on a small plane, no records, fly them out. That's a real -- that's a real concern.
BARRY: It's a real concern. And we understand where people are coming from. They have got a real desire in their hearts to help. What we're asking for is that people give us time to find out where these children really are.
Do they have extended families? Do they have those people who are still looking for them? And then we can look at the other care options for these children.
COOPER: Because, at this point, you don't know who's a real orphan, who's not, who may have family members that are separated, and who may have extended family that want to take care for them.
BARRY: That's correct. And we -- we know from our past experience that always we want to be placing children with their families. That's where children need to be. And whatever we can do to put children with their families, that's what we want to try and do.
COOPER: Can you give me a sense of numbers, how many orphans there are now? Any new orphans?
BARRY: We don't.
BARRY: We are working on the estimation that one million children either separated, unaccompanied, or are now at new vulnerabilities of one of their parents dying.
COOPER: Wow, one million, that's incredible.
Deb Barry, I appreciate it.
BARRY: Thank you.
COOPER: We will continue to talk with you. Save the Children, a great organization.
When we come back tonight, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on how people are dealing with the fear, the mental trauma, the memories that are triggered with each new aftershock that we have been experiencing.
Also tonight, more new video of little Monley Elize, our first look at his rescue as it happened, video taken by his uncles.
We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Well, even 13 days after the fact, we're learning more about what happened here.
Late tonight, some especially powerful visual evidence came in. It's an exclusive view of the immediate aftermath. It is very raw, very rough stuff again. We warn you again, it's amateur video taken, with the dust thrown up by the city collapsing nearly blocking out the sky, a hell of a picture to carry around in your head all this time.
And that is what people here, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people witnessed. And just about everybody is carrying around those images.
We have more on the aftereffects of the earthquake from Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rumor of a big wave sends thousands running to higher ground, many of them leaving behind the only possessions they recovered after the quake. These injured survivors begged doctors to leave them outside. They're too frightened to be inside.
DAVID WALTON, PARTNERS IN HEALTH: The Army Corps of Engineers has been here three times and has cleared several of these buildings. But every time there's an aftershock, every -- all of our patients run outside. There's just so much trauma, both psychological and physical. No one wants to stay. Both staff and patients refuse to go into any buildings.
GUPTA (on camera): And here's another good example of exactly what we're talking about.
This is a standing house, but there's nobody living inside. And it's hard to overestimate the impact of all these aftershocks on someone's psyche. They're so frightened. They don't want to be in there. They're worried that their house could come tumbling down.
So, instead, they live like this. They live in these tents, makeshift tents, because they simply want to be outside, where they think it's safe.
How scared were you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Very scared.
GUPTA: Very scared.
It's been around two weeks now since the earthquake. Are you still scared?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, because, from time to time, they strike again. And I'm very stressed. And my heart is beating.
GUPTA (voice-over): She says there's no one to help and she has nightmares of another quake.
(on camera): How many people like you are there? I mean, how many people in Port-au-Prince are going through what you're going through?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of people.
GUPTA: It is difficult to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder less than a month after the quake. But we do know a few things. First of all, it is worse in people who have some sort of preexisting mental illness, people who have endured the most trauma or seen the most horrific images. Best advice to them, try and be with family and also turn to your faith if you can. But it is difficult when even the churches have been destroyed.
(voice-over): So, what does work? Access to the basic necessities again, clean water, food, and even what might be considered perks, pillows, blankets, some sort of routine.
No doubt all of this is tough and it is dangerous to generalize. But there's also some simple evidence that it can work. Today, this young boy built a kite out of a paper plate. Despite the odds, he gets it flying, bringing a smile to his face and ours for just a moment.
GUPTA: I'm sorry, Anderson. I don't know if you can hear me or not, I just seem to have lost -- lost signal here.
But if you can hear me still, when you talk about post-traumatic stress disorder, clearly, it is too early to start really diagnosing that. And there are so many other issues. A lot of people in this tent behind me simply don't have homes to go to, even if they are treated adequately.
The wounds are going to need dressings for some time. There's a lot of other issues to deal with. But psychologists are starting to think about post-traumatic stress and the needs, the psychological needs, in the aftermath in the weeks and months to come -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, we seem to have lost connection with Sanjay.
But, Sanjay, appreciate the report. We will try to check in with you later on in the program.
Just ahead tonight: rebuilding Haiti's government. Not much of a government to begin with, but how do you rebuild a government that many considered less than ideal before the disaster?
Also, checking up, how many jobs your stimulus dollars are buying.
And late word of a major change in priorities President Obama is going to be announcing in his State of the Union address this week.
We will be right back.
COOPER: We have a lot more to report from Haiti ahead. But CNN is also kicking off a series this week, the Stimulus Project. We're going to be taking a close look at the $787 billion stimulus plan, a lot of money. We're talking, of course, about your money.
Let's take a look at this. In a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll, 36 percent said the stimulus money went mostly to benefit the economy. Sixty-three percent said it went to political projects with no economic impact at all.
Well, we wanted to see for ourselves where, exactly, all that money went. Now, remember all those projects that were supposed to create jobs? Are they actually working?
We're checking the facts. Ali Velshi joins me from the stimulus desk in Atlanta -- Ali.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we wanted to do what any American can do, go to recovery.gov and check out all the projects.
Here, we have the facts on 57,000 projects. Those are all the projects, grants and loans. Take a look at this. This is 10 five- inch binders five feet tall. And we have been working through this. We're going to do this all week. It should be easy enough to find out where the money went, how the money was spent, and whether it created any jobs.
But this is -- some of this is impenetrable. We have a whole desk working on this all week, making phone calls to people who have received money to find out what they did and whether the projects are working. I found two that I want to come back and talk to you about in a few minutes.
One is a $4 million loan to a company in New York that actually did create some jobs. The other one, interesting, a $16 million grant to a company in Tennessee that created absolutely zero jobs. We're still trying to track that one down and find out how that even happened. I will be back in a few minutes to update you on both of these -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ali, we will check in with you in a moment.
We're also going to have more from Haiti ahead.
But, first, Joe Johns has the other day's news, a 360 news and business bulletin -- Joe. JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a series of bombings rocks central Baghdad today, killing at least 36 people, injuring more than 70. Three hotels were the targets. News organizations happened to have offices in two of those buildings.
A U.S. Navy warship has joined rescue and recovery efforts off the coast of Lebanon, where an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed early this morning shortly after takeoff. Ninety people were on board that plane. A Lebanese military spokesman said search crews have found 21 bodies, but no survives. Lebanon's president said there's no indication of sabotage or foul play.
President Obama will announce a three-year spending freeze during his State of the Union address Wednesday. Senior administration officials say that freeze will hold discretionary spending at $447 billion, will not include defense, homeland security, or so-called entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. The move is expected to save $250 billion.
Sales of existing homes plunged nearly 17 percent last month, the sharpest decline in 40 years. The fall is linked partly to the expected end of a tax credit for first-time buyers, but it's been extended. Despite the slowdown, sales were 15 percent higher in December than a year ago.
And meet 7-year-old Charlie Simpson. He raised more than $160,000 by riding his bike around his local park in London. That five-mile ride benefited UNICEF's work in Haiti. Charlie had hoped to raise about 500 pounds, around 800 bucks or so, but his Internet page was flooded with donations.
So, Anderson, the money keeps coming in for that cause there in Haiti.
COOPER: Well, that -- that's a great little boy right there.
Joe, thank you.
Just ahead: Haiti's government lost its base and infrastructure in the quake, not to mention all those confidential documents buried beneath the palace rubble. I will show you where the president and his staff have relocated and what they are facing ahead, and see if -- whether or not they're up to the challenge.
Plus, if you have been watching, you know we have been following the story of 5-year-old Monley, who was buried under the rubble, his uncle says for eight days. He survived. We now have pictures of that rescue taken by his uncle -- that story coming up on 360.
COOPER: In Montreal today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries met to discuss how to rebuild Haiti. It is obviously a massive undertaking. Secretary Clinton said a donor's conference to secure funding for the efforts is going to take place in the next 30 to 60 days. Haiti's prime minister was at today's meeting.
But here in Port-au-Prince, this was the scene outside what remains of the presidential palace, the massive line of people waiting for food delivered by the U.N. They live in a tent city that's cropped up very near the palace rubble.
Government officials are working out of a makeshift base that now passes for the seat of government.
Gary Tuchman took a look today.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Of all the damage in the nation of Haiti, this is in many ways the most striking, the presidential palace. In a country that's been a challenge to govern in the best of times, that challenge is now much harder.
Now the president of Haiti has to work out of this rundown police station, trying to govern the country in its moment of greatest need. All acknowledge that governing in this chaotic situation is made worse because the nation's leaders have nowhere better to work.
(on camera): Imagine if the White House in Washington were destroyed in an earthquake. The horrors of that are exactly what the Haitian people are now going through. The physical and symbolic devastation is very raw. This area has been the site of Haitian leaders since the 1700s, but this particular palace wasn't built until the early 1900s.
Construction began in 1914, but it's been destroyed before. The construction site was burned down in 1915 by mobs who assassinated the president. It's been the home of many scoundrels, the two most infamous, Papa Doc Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier. The current president is Rene Preval. He wasn't here when the earthquake happened, but it's unknown how many people died inside.
(voice-over): To make things even worse, the parliament building was also destroyed, and the equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Palace of Justice, also flattened.
RENE PREVAL, HAITIAN PRESIDENT: It's a catastrophe, but we are working, with the help of the international community, to rebuild the country.
TUCHMAN: In addition, the palace is home to sensitive, as well as classified, material. It's too dangerous to search for in this building right now.
Fritz Longchamps is the secretary-general to the president, the equivalent of a chief of staff.
(on camera): Is there concern for the confidential information that's in the palace?
FRITZ LONGCHAMPS, HAITIAN SECRETARY-GENERAL: We're working on it.
TUCHMAN: The secretary general says he was away from the palace in the chaotic moments after the collapse. It was impossible for him to get there. And, remarkably, he had no official word about devastation at the palace.
LONGCHAMPS: When I saw on CNN the picture, I was shocked.
TUCHMAN: The president hopes to leave the police station and run the government out of this less damaged security building on the palace grounds. The plan is to rebuild this palace. but the government knows its own future is in peril if it doesn't help its citizens work.
COOPER: Gary Tuchman joins me now, along with Christiane Amanpour and Ivan Watson.
In terms of rebuilding, Christiane, I mean, it's massive.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, it is massive.
There's this donor's conference -- thank you very much -- in Montreal, ahead of the real one. But the fact of the matter is that some people might think it's a little early to talk about development when the emergency is still on.
But, from the former prime minister to the current leaders to world leaders, they're saying, no, it has to be thought about now. And they're really, really saying that this is a last chance for Haiti. They have said it many times before. But we were at the garment industry today. It's a industry that, along with U.S. legislation, has shown real, real signs of progress, an engine for the economy here.
And they really want to try to get that up and going again.
COOPER: Is there confidence, though, in the leaders you have talked to that the money is not just going to be wasted? I mean, the Haitian government is notoriously -- I mean, for generations, has been, you know, a kleptocracy.
AMANPOUR: Well, corruption and waste and mismanagement is always a problem.
I spoke to the former Haitian prime minister today. She said that, if it had been her as prime minister still, she would have asked immediately from the Americans six huge army tents, put them in front of the presidential palace, set up the government there, let the people know what you're doing, you know, get out and talk to the people.
The Brazilian foreign minister said, you know, we understand that the government here has problems. It must get out and be visible to the people, so that jobs needs to be...
COOPER: And, Gary, I mean, you talked to -- to the government the other day. And, I mean, they say, well, we're communicating on radio.
But you get no real sense of a presence of a Haitian government in the streets of Port-au-Prince.
I mean, part of the problem is, people don't know what to do when they're homeless. There's not enough tents for the people, and the homeless people are just doing whatever they can to survive. We saw last night something I couldn't believe. We saw about 50 children sleeping in the middle of the street.
They set up barricades and they laid down blankets. And that's where they've been sleeping night after night on a busy street. It just takes one driver to not pay attention to the barricade and run over these kids who are laying down in the streets.
COOPER: Ivan, you've been here, really, since the beginning. Over the last couple days, have you noticed big changes?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. There have been some aid that has started out. We saw a big distribution going on in this massive camp where the golf course used to be.
But it was brought home to me, even -- we hear these numbers, thousands of tons, whatever, of food that comes out or medicine. But just what brought home to me what it's like to lose everything in a second. I met a guy today who had been kind of a middle-class man. He'd had a house. He rented out the bottom floor to help pay for his kid's tuition. That's gone.
His family all survived, but now they're sleeping in a squalid, makeshift tent, and he is too proud right now to line up for food. He is accustomed to being able to feed his own family and is now put in this position where he basically has to beg. And there's nothing he can do to help his family and no hope in sight, because everything was destroyed.
COOPER: You also drive down these streets, Christiane, and I mean, the rubble is everywhere. It's going to -- you know, people are kind of picking through it. They're not even looking for survivors anymore. Just looking through for books and notebooks and anything they can find and salvage. Reconstruction is just going to be massive.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Personal effects for sure but also recycling.
COOPER: Right. AMANPOUR: This is a city where everything is recycled. We've seen wires coming out of cars. We've seen tin that's come from whatever that's been lying around for them to build new -- new shacks or whatever.
But that's precisely the problem. There needs, according to officials, to be some direction. There needs to be a situation room where the government gives direction to the people so that they do not go back and build shacks, again, either in the shadow of the rubble or in the same style they had them before. There needs to be some real direction on exactly what to do.
One of the things the government is doing is that it has at its disposal many, many trucks which were used for carting equipment around to build roads. That have -- those have all come in to this city, and they are moving rubble. That's the one thing that the U.N. is paying people to go and shift the rubble. COOPER: Right.
AMANPOUR: So it will be massive, but it also has to be organized. And one of the big issues in terms of the aid, which is getting better, is the whole coordination.
AMANPOUR: People still complain -- officials still complain the coordination on this effort is not what it should be.
COOPER: Also, the reality of moving the rubble now is, I mean, they're basically bringing in bulldozers, ripping apart the destroyed buildings, dumping them in a truck. There are people inside there mixed in with that rubble. And it's all going to go to, you know, landfills, and it's all going to be just mixed together.
TUCHMAN: Right. There's a lot of dangers about that.
One thing, Anderson, to point out, Port-au-Prince, most people don't know this, but Port-au-Prince has been through this all before. This city was completely destroyed by an earthquake on June 3, 1770, 240 years ago. So unfortunately, they can't use the playbook from back then to figure out what to do today.
AMANPOUR: And the real, real worry is -- and officials are beginning to say this. They don't want to say it too loud. But the real concern is that there may be another one.
AMANPOUR: That this is a long geological fold, that some of it has cracked and expended the energy. And another one may come. So that's another reason why they don't want people to just go back to the same old way of construction...
AMANPOUR: ... in the same old locations. COOPER: The concrete here is made nowhere up to standards in the U.S. I think Chad Myers, meteorologist, said that there's a 3 percent chance of a 7 -- of a 7 earthquake or higher, a 25 percent chance for one 5 to 6. I think that's roughly what I heard.
AMANPOUR: It's scary, but it speaks really to the reconstruction and the rezoning.
AMANPOUR: And perhaps even the relocation of parts of the capitol people have been talking about.
TUCHMAN: That's why so many people are still out there behind us. There are hundreds of people back there. They're not all without homes. A lot of those people are just afraid to go back in their homes.
COOPER: Christiane, thank you. Gary Tuchman, Ivan Watson, as well.
Coming up, the will to survive. A young girl saved from the earthquake. We were there when she was rescued. Now she shares her story, how her life is now. Our interview with Bea ahead.
Also tonight, on the money trail. Giving you the facts of the stimulus cash. Holding people in power accountable. Where did all the money go? Ali Velshi is ahead. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're going to check in with the young girl, Bea, we saw rescued in the rubble the first morning that we arrived here. We'll show you -- well, she'll tell you in her own words how she is doing. She's lost ten members of her family. She's a strong little girl. Her amazing story is ahead.
But we want to check in again with Ali Velshi, who as we've been telling you, is giving us the facts on the stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- that's the official name -- showing you exactly where all the money has been going and whether or not it's really doing anything. This is part of our weeklong special series, a stimulus project to you, part of our promise to you to "Keep Them Hones," to see if these nearly 57,000 projects are actually creating jobs and jump-starting the economy like they were supposed to.
Ali has some surprising information about a couple stimulus projects, including one you will not believe. Ali joins us now.
Ali, what have you learned?
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, I'm standing here next to five feet of projects, the details on 57,000 projects. We have a stimulus desk that is making calls to find out exactly what's going on. We're calling companies to find out what's happening.
Now, we're also inviting our viewers to call us. You can call 1- 800-CNN-NEWS to tell us a little about projects that you know about.
I got a tweet from one caller talking about Tennessee, a particular ZIP code in Tennessee where he said stimulus money was given and no jobs were created. So we decided to investigate this. Our team looked into it, went to a company in Knoxville, Tennessee. That was the ZIP code he give us -- gave us.
And we found the company, a very interesting story. This project is what the money was for. This isn't in Tennessee. This is actually in Ohio, but it's a Knoxville, Tennessee-based company that was given pun through the stimulus act and Corps of Engineers, $16 million to remediate contaminated soil, to get rid of contaminated soil, radioactive soil that's been there for 40 or 50 years.
We tried to find out about whether any jobs were created, because in those 57,000 projects, it says zero jobs are created. Guess what? We phoned the number on the Web site. Doesn't work. We phoned another number it led us to. Doesn't work. We checked the address in Google. We can see the site, but we can't seem to get a hold of anybody. We've left a message for the Army Corps of Engineers to find out how it is you spend $16 million and don't create any jobs.
Anderson, there may be a good reason for it. There may be a reason that $16 million was spent. It may even benefit the economy, but at the moment we're not able to get answers on that. We'll stay on this thing and get more answers for you on it, hopefully, by morning -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, let's hope so. So $16 million, no jobs. What about another -- any other companies, got any good news there?
VELSHI: Look, we've been doing this 17 hours a day. We are getting one. One of them caught our eye, because it was in -- it's a New York-based company, but they've opened up a factory in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. This is a bagel manufacturing plant, got a $4 million loan. We were wondering about this.
But what they were doing is they were manufacturing this plant already. They were building the plant. They then got a loan for it. So the loan covers the cost of 75 workers for 3 years to build that plant.
This company did tell us that, if they didn't get the loan under the stimulus act, they would not have had to lay off workers, but they were able to expand their business. And when you calculate 75 workers over 3 years by $4 million, what you find is it comes to about $17,000 or $18,000 per worker for a year. That sounds relatively -- relatively sensible.
Listen, we've been tracking projects, and every time, we do we tally it up at the stimulus desk. We are on top of almost $1.8 billion in projects. It's only day one. We'll be doing this all week, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ali. Our digging on the economic stimulus has uncovered something else that's pretty interesting. It's about a company in Massachusetts, a firm that ripped off millions of dollars from taxpayers.
And guess what? It is now back in business with the government. We're Keeping Them Honest. Here's special investigations unit correspondent Drew Griffin.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a money pit the never-ending Big Dig project in Boston is notorious: $22 billion and still counting, to bury the interstate under downtown. It's been plagued by problems, leaks, cracks, mostly as a result of shoddy construction.
One company was even indicted for supplying the Big Dig with below-grade concrete that had been doctored to make it look OK.
(on camera) The name of that company is Aggregate Industries, and two years ago the state of Massachusetts announced this big fraud settlement against the company, basically saying that for years Aggregate was supplying defective concrete to the Big Dig project, concrete that was so bad it wouldn't set properly. It led to cracking, leaking, and other big defects.
So which company do you think is now getting your stimulus money here in Massachusetts? Aggregate Industries. We're going to go ask the highway department why.
(voice-over) Luisa Paiewonsky is the highway administrator.
(on camera) If I hired a plumber, and the plumber put in garbage pipes that leaked, I wouldn't put the plumber on probation. I'd never hire that plumber again.
LUISA PAIEWONSKY, MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, if you're asking me did we have a visceral reaction? Yes, if I were the sheriff I would have -- I would have required they not do any more public...
GRIFFIN: You're the commissioner of transportation.
PAIEWONSKY: I have to follow the law. I am a public official, and I have to go as far as the law will allow me to go. We punished them as far as we could. They're back.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back with the low bid on two jobs in Massachusetts' cut of the federal stimulus bill. And after paying a $50 million fine and agreeing to be overseen by a federal monitor, its plea bargain with the government allowed Aggregate to come back for more government work.
Aggregate hired Nancy Sterling to help with its public relations.
NANCY STERLING, AGGREGATE INDUSTRIES SPOKESPERSON: The company took it extremely seriously. It's a very different company than it was prior to the Big Dig. There are new managers, new owners and a whole new corporate ethics and compliance policy in place. We paid the fine, and part of the reason that we agreed to settle was so that we would be able to continue to do work for the government.
GRIFFIN: It is right there in the agreement worked up by the U.S. attorney, the Massachusetts attorney general, and the federal Department of Transportation. No cutoff from government contracts for Aggregate.
There was nothing the Massachusetts Department of Transportation could do legally, a spokesperson says, to prevent the contractor from coming back to bid on new contracts. Conviction or not, Aggregate is back, the lowest bidder and, therefore, the winner of some $10 million to repave some roads.
COOPER: The stimulus project is supposed to be, Drew, about jobs. There was no mention of jobs in your report. So did Aggregate also get the millions in stimulus dollars because these road projects are going to create new jobs?
GRIFFIN: No. You know, Anderson, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and a lot of Department of Transportation across the country have been reporting on, they go for the low bidder to get the most bang for the buck. They don't talk about jobs.
Now, are jobs being made? Are temporary jobs being made? Yes, the contractor here says there's going to be about 100 people put to work during these repaving jobs. One hundred people, $10 million. That's about $100,000 a job. But keep in mind these are temporary construction jobs. They last as long as that repaving, and then they're done.
But to answer your question, they're just looking at the bottom line. They want to get the most project for the money.
COOPER: All right. Drew, "Keeping Them Honest." Drew, thanks.
Track the stimulus projects, your tax dollars, and see what our investigations have uncovered by logging on to CNN.com/stimulus.
Coming up tonight, the president's new message for the middle class. A shift in strategy for the White House. But is it too little too late? Is this thing going to work? We'll talk like with David Gergen and Candy Crowley next.
And later, a brave girl named Bea. She was freed from a trapped building the day after the earthquake. We were there. We saw it with our own eyes. Tonight, her story of survival. Ten members of her family gone, and yet she wakes up every day, puts one foot in front of the other, as do so many here. We'll talk to her about her hopes for the future.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Just ahead, an update an Bea, a remarkable young survivor in this tragedy, a girl who's kind of captured all of our hearts. We'll tell you how she is doing right now, but first, "Raw Politics" and the president's new plan to help the middle class, including tax credits for childcare and cap loan payments for college graduates.
Here's more of what the president said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to keep fighting to rebuild our economy so that hard work is once again rewarded. Wages and incomes are once again rising, and the middle class is once again growing. And above all, we're going to keep fighting to renew the American dream and keep it alive, not just in our time but for all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A big promise from an embattled president comes two days of course before he gives his State of the Union address. And in that speech, we learned today, he's going to ask Congress for a sweeping budget freeze, beginning next year, a freeze on discretionary spending.
Let's talk it over with CNN political analyst David Gergen and senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.
So David, this middle-class agenda announcement and now the president's move to freeze discretionary spending, is this all just in his response to what happened in Massachusetts?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so, Anderson. He had some genuine problems with the economy before the Massachusetts vote. And everybody knew that in his State of the Union address -- I've heard him say this, myself -- that he wanted to pivot in the State of the Union to jobs and the deficits.
Now, what's captured people's imagination tonight is this idea of a three-year freeze on federal spending other than defense and homeland security. And I must tell you on the surface it's a very good idea. I think a lot of moderate Democrats as well as Republicans will welcome that, but you have to be very careful when you hear about a freeze at the federal level, because in most states spending has actually been cut.
And at the federal level the president, this past year, signed two bills on discretionary spending. One was in March, was when he signed a bill that would increase discretionary spending by 8 percent, and then in December, he signed another bill that increased discretionary spending by 12 percent.
So here you have this extremely large set of increases in the federal spending and he comes along and says, "We'd like -- we'd like to freeze it right there." Well, as you can imagine, there are a fair number of people saying, "Hey, wait a minute. We're not too impressed when you're freezing at very, very high levels."
So we're going to have a lot of debates on issues over this in the next few days, but this the opening -- one of the opening avenues for the president, trying to reclaim the center, and also trying to recapture the imagination of the American people.
COOPER: Well, Candy, is it enough to reclaim the center? I mean, as David pointed out, there are a lot of people, not just Republicans, who are saying, look, you know, freezing it at this high level, it's not enough.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The White House will argue, as it already has, that it's a first step, that you have to start somewhere.
This will please the conservative Democrats, the so-called blue dogs. The president needs them with help for health care, to help pass his health-care reform if he's to get it.
This will help Republicans. This will please Republicans. It may not be enough, but they will like the idea of it. It's better as far, as they're concerned, than tax hikes. And so they're going to like it.
But there needs to be -- they're going to put it in perspective. And that is, we are talking about a spending freeze on 1/6 of the spending that the government does. We're talking about a savings of about $250 billion against a deficit that's about $1.5 trillion.
So this is a drop in the bucket, but it's an important step. And the White House sees it as an important step toward starting to assure both Congress, more importantly the American people, who are upset at the amount of money they see being spent, that he does, indeed, see the deficit and the debt as problems.
COOPER: David, it is amazing. I mean, nearly three out of four -- I'm sorry, go ahead, David.
GERGEN: I was going to say three out of four Americans -- I think you were going to say -- I think there's been a lot of money wasted. In fact, half or more...
COOPER: Yes, exactly.
GERGEN: ... of the money on the stimulus has been wasted. And, you know, 56 percent of the new CNN poll oppose the first stimulus plan.
So the president, as he suggested (ph), to put it gently, has run into a buzz saw here. There are many, many Americans who believe the government is spending wildly on the stimulus, has been misspent. And now they may not be overly impressed by the spending freeze.
But Anderson, the real payoff, and David Walker has been on this program several times in the past, talking about the real payoff on federal deficits comes in the entitlement programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. That's what the real -- Candy said what we're talking about here tonight in the spending freeze is 1/6. The real balk of this, at least 2/3 -- 2/6 more is in the entitlement programs.
And on that issue the president has been talking about a statutory commission to cut this. And tomorrow the Senate is going to put it up to a vote. And it appears -- I think Candy can speak to this more fully -- it appears the Congress is going to reject a commission that would actually cut these entitlements.
And so it's hard to be overly optimistic tonight about the outlook on the deficits. But Candy can speak to this more fully.
CROWLEY: They are, indeed...
COOPER: We've got to leave it there, Candy, unfortunately.
CROWLEY: All right.
COOPER: I'm sorry. We're really sort on time. Candy, we'll have you on tomorrow.
David Gergen, thanks, as well.
Coming up tonight, reunited with a girl rescued from the rubble. An emotional update with Bea. That is ahead.
Also tonight, saving Monley (ph). New video of the rescue of the 5-year-old taken by his uncle. They say it shows what happened when the little boy was found. We'll show it to you.
COOPER: Hey, we want to give you updates on two remarkable young survivors. We're trying to keep in touch with all the people we've met in the last week and a half to let you know what's going on with all the people you've met.
First the boy named Monley (ph), 5 years old, pulled alive on Wednesday, his uncle says. We met him when they first brought him to the hospital. Tonight, we have new video of his rescue. It was taken by one of his uncles. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: When the little boy, when Monley (ph) was brought in the hospital at first he looked skeletal. He looked in terrible shape. Doctors are really amazed at his good health just a couple days after he was pulled from the rubble.
In the days following, he did contract pneumonia. He's been running a fever. We actually saw him today, this evening. Doctors are confident he's going to be OK. They're going to check him out of the hospital. His belly is a little distended right now. There may be something going on inside, but they're going to check him out more tomorrow.
Also tonight, another face of hope. Her name is Bea. She's 13 years old. We met her the moment she was pulled out of the wreckage that first day we got here. She's lost so much. She is a survivor.
We -- we had a hard time tracking her down. We were able to reconnect with Bea on Thursday. We spoke through an interpreter. Here's tonight's 360 follow-up on Bea.
COOPER: Do you think about what happened a lot or do you try not to think about it?
BEA, RESCUED FROM RUBBLE (through translator): My home was everything to me and I think about it a lot.
COOPER: Who have you lost?
BEA (through translator): Everybody in there was my family.
COOPER: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
BEA (through translator): One brother, one sister. They died. Not in that house.
COOPER: They died during the earthquake or -- before?
BEA (through translator): Yes, before all this.
COOPER: Do you dream about what happened?
BEA (through translator): I can't sleep.
COOPER: Why can't you sleep?
BEA (through translator): I go into my bed, and I can't sleep.
COOPER: What is it that you think about?
BEA (through translator): I lost my aunt, and I lost my family completely.
COOPER: If it doesn't hurt too much could you show us if you're able to walk? Can you try to walk a little? Only if it doesn't hurt too much.
That's great. Very good. Bravo. Does it hurt when you walk?
BEA (through translator): Yes. It hurts.
COOPER: Have you always been brave or did this just make you brave? BEA (through translator): I've always been brave.
COOPER: What do you want to be when you grow up?
BEA (through translator): I want to continue school and be able to help.
COOPER: We made sure to get Bea some medical attention, to just dress her wounds. She's lost ten members of her family, yet she's such a smart, bright girl and she, you know, wakes up every day and keeps going, as so many people do here.
We're going to have more from here at the top of the hour. We're going to look at who's looking out for Haiti's children. We're here all week. Our coverage continues. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you at the top of the hour.