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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Obama Unveils Budget Proposal; American Missionaries Arrested in Haiti
Aired February 1, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: slash and spend mixed with "Raw Politics."
President Obama's budget proposal for next year, it comes with surprises and sacrifices and a huge price tag. Consider this. If the budget is passed, the national debt will balloon to $15.1 trillion. Breaking that down, it means the debt per person in America will be a staggering $49,000. And that's just for starters. Much more on how the president's plan impacts you and your future, that's ahead.
Also tonight, saving Haiti's kids or stealing them? A group of American missionaries in jail right now, were they trying to save the children or sneak them across the border? We will have the very latest.
And, later, he's rich and famous, but is Sean Combs, AKA P. Diddy, a role model? He says he is. And that's not all. Our revealing "Up Close" interview with the American mogul, that is coming up as well.
But we begin tonight with new developments out of Haiti. The Haitian government says the 10 Americans who tried to take 33 Haitian children out of the earthquake-ravaged country knew exactly what they were doing. They knew it was wrong. That's the allegation.
The Americans tell a very different story. At least some of them are missionaries from the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho. They say they were just trying to help the children start a new life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA SILSBY, DETAINED IN HAITI: And we believe we have been charged very falsely with trafficking, which, of course, that is the furthest possible extreme, because, I mean, our whole -- our heart's here. We literally all gave up everything we had to be -- I mean, income and used of our own funds to come here to help these children, and by no means are any part of that horrendous practice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Laura Silsby and nine others arrested Friday night as they tried to take the kids who they say they believed were orphans across the border into the Dominican Republic.
But, tonight, we're learning at least 14 of the children are not orphans. So, were they kidnapped or did their parents give them away?
Karl Penhaul went to the village where most of the kids in question came from to get some answers.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Family photos taken before a desperate father gave away his baby daughters. Leli Laurentus (ph) says he handed over 4-year-old Saraia (ph) and 5-year- old Layla (ph) to a group of American Baptists last week.
The Americans are now in a Haitian jail, accused of trafficking 33 Haitian babies and children. Laurentus, whose story is echoed by other parents in this village, says he was too poor to care for his kids after the quake. He hoped the Americans would offer his girls a brighter future.
"I put them on the bus with the Americans with my own hands. I played with them up until the last minute. Then I kissed them both goodbye and told them, don't forget daddy," he said.
Laurentus, who says he earns a dollar a day fixing computers, shows us around his quake-damaged home. He finds the grubby bear, his little Saraia called Tesean (ph). He packed nothing for his kids. He says the Americans promised to give the children schooling, a safe home in the Dominican Republic, new clothes, and soft toys.
"I was crying because I didn't know when I would see them again, but it's OK if I suffer, but, at their age, Saraia and Layla should not suffer. They can't go hungry," he said.
In the grassy square, the villagers say 21 of the 33 children taken from the Americans were from here. They say at least 14 had one or both parents. In a weekend jailhouse interview, the Americans told CNN they believed all the children they attempted to bus into the Dominican Republic were orphans or had been abandoned.
SILSBY: And we believe we have been charged very falsely with trafficking, which, of course, that is the furthest possible extreme.
PENHAUL: In a temporary refuge for the children in Port-au- Prince, 10-year-old Benatin Pullimae (ph) plays alone on a swing, hoping her mom will change her mind and come fetch her.
We find her mother, Atriem Pullimae (ph), in Kalabas (ph), the same mountain village as the other parents. She misses her daughter and cradles her doll. She remembers how Benatin sobbed as she left last Thursday.
"I told her to call me once in a while, just so I know how she's doing, so I would know if she was fine," she says. Benatin's parents scrape by farming vegetables and bananas. They're the poorest of the poor. Pullimae says the only thing she could give Benatin was her love, even if it meant sending her away.
"I told her she should go. And I promised, one day, I would go and see her. After she left I was very sad," she says.
The Haitian government is now investigating what the Americans planned to do with the children who had no passports and no permission to leave and whether they knowingly committed a crime.
PENHAUL: Now, ultimately, it's the Haitian authorities who will decide whether this is a case of kidnapping or child trafficking, but what it clearly is, is a question of poverty. This is a place where parents who say they love their children believe they can give their kids the best chance by sending them away -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Karl, these 10 Americans, they're in a Haitian jail right now, but there is some talk, potentially, what, they could be tried in the United States? The Haitian government would allow that? Explain.
PENHAUL: The Haitian prime minister made those comments. He made those comments to CNN yesterday and made those comments to other media today.
Basically, he left the door open. Given that the Haitian justice system has all but collapsed in the aftermath of the earthquake -- and I guess it wasn't too efficient before, to tell you the truth -- then, what the Haitian prime minister is saying is that there's a possibility that these Americans could, in his words, be extradited to the U.S. to face trial there.
But, of course, the problem there is, the evidence in this case is here. And from what we have seen on the ground, the Haitian authorities aren't -- aren't taking too many forward steps in that investigation. Even when I talked to the prime minister yesterday, we seemed to be offering him a lot more information that he wasn't aware of at that stage -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Karl Penhaul is going to continue working this story for us.
But let's dig a little bit deeper right now.
Dan Simon is in Meridian, Idaho, with more on those -- the Americans being accused of child trafficking and their church.
Dan, what do we know, first of all, about the church?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first of all, as far as the church is concerned, I can tell you that the lights are still on behind me as members have been huddling, trying to get really any morsel of information out of Haiti.
But this church, the Central Valley Baptist Church, 500-member church, they have been involved in humanitarian missions around the world for several years, including some recent trips to Russia and Ecuador. As far as the orphanage is concerned, here's really what the plan was. They formulated this plan a couple of years ago. They were going to build this orphanage in the Dominican Republic. They were going to actually acquire some land and build up an orphanage, a school, as well as a church.
Then, the earthquake occurred, and that really accelerated their desire to help out the Haitian people.
And joining us to talk about this, this is Drew Ham, who is one of the pastors of the church.
PASTOR DREW HAM, CENTRAL VALLEY BAPTIST CHURCH: Thanks, Dan.
SIMON: Drew, in terms of what was going on here, as I understand it, they didn't have this land yet, but they were able to -- to get some rooms in a hotel and have about 150 children?
HAM: Yes, sir, they were able to lease a hotel. They did not have children at the time. And, so, that was the purpose of this trip in particular, to go into Haiti, to find some orphans that they could minister to, to help give physical and medical care, and then bring them back into the Dominican Republic and help them at this -- at this hotel.
SIMON: All right, so, they were able to get nearly three dozen orphans, 33 children, but there are really some questions in terms of whether or not they are orphans. How did you acquire, for lack of a better word, these children?
HAM: Sure, Dan. There's a lot of misinformation. We haven't had a whole lot of communication with the folks on our team. In fact, we haven't had any communication since Friday.
But the directives that they were given was to go in and work with an established orphanage, so that they could avoid exactly some of the situations that we have heard about, children who have been displaced, but just simply haven't found their parents. That's exactly the type of situation that we were trying to avoid.
SIMON: And -- and they were detained, obviously, as they were trying to get to the Dominican Republic, because they didn't have the paperwork. Were there any -- were there any mistakes made? It sounds like things weren't followed totally by the book here.
HAM: Understand, Dan, at the same time, our understanding is they were given some directives, some instructions on the paperwork that they needed, and they did -- they did exactly what they were told to do.
So, upon the arrival at the border, sorry, you're missing a piece.
OK, let's go fix that problem.
So, Dan, based on the information, we don't know of any mistakes that were made. SIMON: I know that your folks have been on the phone with some people in Haiti, trying to get information. How is the group being treated, as far as you know?
HAM: You know, Dan, we really don't know, because we don't have a whole lot of communication. We have seen some of the news reports, just as many of the people out there have, and so very limited, but it does not appear like -- it does not appear that they have been taken great care of.
Once the kids got to the Dominican Republic, what was the plan for them? Were they going to stay there, or was the end result here to have them adopted out to families, possibly in the United States?
HAM: Dan, certainly, no part of this trip were we going to have any adoptions take place. The idea really was, let's go.
And just as many Americans have done, they saw a need in Haiti. They wanted to go and take care of some kids who had physical, medical needs, and care for them there in Haiti. Adoption wasn't a part of the question at this point.
SIMON: And a lot of people have been asking if any money exchanged hands on either side.
HAM: Absolutely not. To the best of our knowledge, no money exchanged hands for any reason.
SIMON: So -- so, what do you do now? I know that you have been on the phone with your lawyer in Haiti. Is it now just a waiting game to see what the Haitian justice system is going to do here?
HAM: Yes, Dan, really, at this point, we're making a passionate plea to just simply bring our Americans home, where they belong.
SIMON: All right, Drew Ham with the Central Valley Baptist Church.
So, Wolf, that's really the situation here. Obviously, it's a waiting game. From their point of view, this is a situation that should not have happened. They're really sort of dumb-founded that they find themselves in this position. They see themselves as members who are good working people just trying to do the right thing in Haiti -- back to you.
BLITZER: Yes. They have got a serious problem, though, when the prime minister of Haiti says they were engaged in -- quote -- "kidnapping." That's a big problem.
Stand by, Dan. Thank the pastor for us as well.
Up next: We know where the missionaries are tonight, but what about the children they allegedly -- allegedly -- tried to kidnap? Where are they? That part of the story, that is coming up. Also tonight, breaking down President Obama's budget and finding out who wins and who loses. We have got the "Raw Politics."
BLITZER: Before the break, we told you about the 10 Americans being held in Haiti on child trafficking charges. They were stopped at the Dominican border with 33 Haitian children.
The Haitian government says the children were kidnapped. The missionaries say they had permission to take them. Tonight, it's still not clear what really happened or what will happen next to the kids.
We do know where the children are right now. They're at the SOS Children's Village on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
Georg Willeit is the head of communications for the group's emergency relief program in Haiti. He's joining us now.
Georg, thanks very much.
Here's the question. You say some of the children told you they were not orphans. But is it possible that their parents may have handed them over, like the mother of that little girl we saw earlier?
GEORG WILLEIT, SPOKESMAN, SOS CHILDREN'S VILLAGE: Yes, for sure. So, it's clear that some of the children, at least I guess, 20 of them, are for sure not orphans. But they have been handed over from their parents to these 10 Americans.
But, for us, it's still -- this is not the discussion, how this happened. The discussion is, what is in the best interests of the child? And SOS has an experience over 60 years, and we do know what is the best for children all over the world.
And it can't be the best intent to bring children abroad and to separate them from their existing families. This is dealing with the terrible situation of the parents, and this is dealing with hope, if you promise to bring them to paradise.
BLITZER: So, basically, what you're saying is, in the best interests of the children, that the best interest is to stay exactly where they are in Haiti right now, not allow them to go to the Dominican Republic, or even move on to the United States?
WILLEIT: It's not only the issue of these 33 children which we are talking now about, because it's an issue of also international adoption and SOS and all the other major child care organizations, really stated it a week ago. Please stop these international adoptions, because this gives such a pressure here in Haiti and does open the doors also for crime.
I'm not saying that this is the case in this case of these 10 Americans, but we have to be sure that we do the registration, that we try to find the existing families, that we try to reunion all these unaccompanied, or as much as possible, of these unaccompanied kids which are here now in Haiti.
And the best interests of the child is to stay with their own family, is with their parents or is it with the extended family.
BLITZER: Do you have any doubt, in this specific case, Georg, that the intentions of these 10 missionaries from Idaho were positive? Is there any question that they were simply trying to do the right thing, even if they didn't have the right paperwork, or even if they didn't do, from your perspective, the right thing? But the question is about their motive.
WILLEIT: I don't know what is their motive. And I don't know what is their intention.
Clearly, these kids did not have any papers. It's also clear that, since one week, the Haitian government did -- government did forbid to bring children abroad. And this happened two days ago. And it's clear against the opinion of the major child care organizations, like SOS Children's Village, and it's against the opinion of the U.N.
So, this is -- this is -- I don't know why that happened, but it is really possible to be aware of the danger of child trafficking. And this international pressure for foreign adoption opens also doors to people who are not as good as they pretend to be.
BLITZER: How are these children doing right now? What are they doing? And what lies ahead for them?
WILLEIT: We're giving the most important thing at the moment. We're giving them the care and the attention they need. Some of them are even getting psychological treatment and they are feeling safe and secure in our SOS Children's Village. And that is the thing we do with them and that we want to do with all -- with a lot of other unaccompanied children here in Haiti.
All these kids do need a safe -- a safe haven, a safe place in the next months to come. And there has begun a clear registration process that we could reunion as much as -- as much children as possible with their existing family. And it's needed, children, here in Haiti to build up the country again.
BLITZER: Georg Willeit, thanks very much. Thank you for all the important work you and your colleagues are doing at the SOS Children's Villages. Appreciate it very much.
The future of the 33 children staying at that SOS Children's Village is unclear, but we do have some happy endings to tell you about. The earthquake allowed many parents who were already in the process of adopting Haitian orphans to bring them home earlier than they had planned, like Jenna (ph), the little girl we first saw at the BRESMA orphanage three days after the earthquake.
Just six days after seeing our report, Jenna's adoptive mother was able to bring her home to Denver, Colorado. Gary Tuchman traveled from Haiti to Denver. He will bring us Jenna's story later this week as part of our series "Children of Haiti." Up next: President Obama's new budget, the winners, the losers and the close to $4 trillion price tag. We have got the "Raw Politics."
Also ahead, new developments in a disturbing story Anderson reported on in Haiti: Haitians buried in mass graves finally getting the respect they deserve.
And Joe Johns is in Port-au-Prince tonight, continuing our coverage of the aftermath of the deadly earthquake. And you can ask him a question. Text it to AC360, or 22360. Remember, standard rates apply.
BLITZER: President Obama promised change, but did he deliver it in his massive $3.8 trillion proposed budget for next year? He pledged, it will create jobs, help the middle class, support education. Will it?
At the same time, he warned of cuts and said years of deficits have taken a heavy toll on all of us. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences, as if waste doesn't matter, as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money, as if we can ignore this challenge for another generation. We can't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president is taking aim at some programs, while his critics are taking aim at him.
Candy Crowley is taking a closer look at the budget and joins us now with some of the "Raw Politics."
Candy, the president talked about spending on some programs, cutting back on others. Why don't you start with the winners in this proposed budget?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The winners -- sort of overall, the biggest winners here -- and the president certainly hopes he's the biggest winner of this -- there's more money to try to create jobs, building bridges, roads, high-speed rail, things like that.
But the president is also proposing -- and this is a winner -- a boost for small businesses. He wants to use a tax imposed on banks to give tax credits to small -- small businesses who hire new people or give pay hikes to existing staff.
Also, big boost for lower-income families -- those tax breaks that came with last year's stimulus package will carry over for another year. The net effect is slightly higher paychecks for about 110 million families.
State governments also set to win, at least in this area. Most state budgets, of course, are strained to the breaking point. The Obama budget envisions handing out an additional $25 billion to help pay for Medicaid. That's the health care program for the poor.
Education -- and that's one of the president's three biggest priorities, along with health care and energy reform -- the Education Department is getting a big boost, $3 billion more for primary and secondary, and $17 billion more in Pell Grants. That's college aid for students of limited means. Also, on energy, one of the president's big three, $6 billion to foster clean energy technology.
Losers, however, Wolf, there are some of those.
BLITZER: Who are the big losers? Who's going to hate this budget?
CROWLEY: Well, the same people that hated last year's stimulus plan, I think, high-income Americans. That's defined by the White House as households making $250,000 or more.
They're going to see their taxes go up because the president wants to let the Bush era tax cuts in that bracket expire. Some Bush era oil, gas and coal tax breaks are also going to be eliminated.
Charities -- and this is going to sound familiar, Wolf, because the president proposed this last year. He wants to reduce the amount wealthy taxpayers can deduct for charitable contributions. In the same vein, the president would reduce federal payments to wealthy farmers, another idea he tried and failed to pass last year.
The Army Corps of Engineers of, as you know, Katrina fame takes a huge cut in the Obama plan. Ten percent of the Corps' discretionary budget would be cut. The Corps, though, has successfully beaten back proposed budget cuts before.
And, finally, NASA -- I think this is going to hurt people that dream big, Wolf. The good news for the space agency, $6 billion more for NASA over five years. The bad news, the Obama administration wants to kill the return-to-the-moon program, and concentrate instead on developing a commercial system to take astronauts back and forth to the space station.
BLITZER: Congress, of course, can do whatever it wants. It can change all these proposals. These are just proposals. But these are what the president is recommending.
Candy Crowley is going to be getting up very early every Sunday from now on.
BLITZER: She's got a new show, "STATE OF THE UNION," that she will be anchoring.
Congratulations, Candy -- 9:00 a.m. Sunday...
CROWLEY: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: ... mornings with Candy Crowley, we're going to be watching it.
Candy, good work.
CROWLEY: Thank you.
BLITZER: The president's $3.8 trillion budget plan will sink the government deeper and deeper into debt, the president saying his proposal will create jobs and save the economy. But how much more red ink can the government ring up before bankrupting the entire economy, the country in fact?
Joining us now for tonight's "Strategy Session," senior political analyst David Gergen. Also with us David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States and the author of the book "Comeback America." Walker believes the government's spending is dangerously out of control. Of course, others do not necessarily subscribe to that point.
David, you look at this budget -- David Walker -- what do you think? I mean, the average American is totally confused. You must recognize that.
DAVID WALKER, FORMER UNITED STATES COMPTROLLER GENERAL: Well, there's a difference between the short term and the structural. In the short term, it's understandable to have deficits, because we're in a recession. We have got two undeclared and unfinanced wars. We have a number of bailouts that have been engaged in and things of that nature.
And, so, the president is wanting to try to help stimulate the economy and help get unemployment down. But the real problem is, even after the economy starts growing, unemployment goes down, and we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we have got huge deficits that we're not making progress on that threaten the future of the country.
BLITZER: Well, I guess let's -- I guess the question to David Gergen, there are plenty of critics, liberal critics, who say, look, we need to cut deficit spending, but not at the expense of programs that help the poor and middle class, and many of whom are already struggling to stay afloat, David, in these tough times.
Here's the question. Can President Obama realistically accomplish both of these goals, helping the middle class and poor, at the same time reducing the deficit?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It does not appear so right now, Wolf. I'm afraid there's a lack of political will, a lack of political courage in Washington in both parties, on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, to tackle these deficits.
This president's budget is a very honest one. And give him credit for that. But it's also very grim when it comes to deficits. Wolf, I can remember, only two years ago, less than two years ago, we were gasping at the idea that, under George W. Bush, deficits were going to go above $500 billion in a single year.
And now we're looking at deficits three times that large this year. Just in the time we're -- this -- the one hour of this program tonight, from 10:00 to 11:00 Eastern time, the deficit is going to go up over $182 million, in just one hour.
BLITZER: Well, that raises the question, David Walker, how much longer before the country goes bankrupt with these deficits, these trillion-dollar deficits, for as far as the eye can see?
WALKER: Well, if you think these are bad numbers, you know, we can look at the $13.2 trillion -- pardon me -- $12.3 trillion in debt. But then we have got another $40 trillion to $50 trillion in unfunded obligations that aren't debt yet today, but they're going to be in the future.
BLITZER: You're about, like, Social Security, Medicare, the entitlements.
WALKER: Medicare, $38 trillion, if you will.
Here's the problem. The federal government has grown dramatically. Discretionary spending has grown 20 percent in the last two years. There are proposals to grow government even more in the area of health care and energy.
And the American people know that things are out of touch and out of control. I mean, we have made tens of trillions of promises we don't know how we're going to afford, and government wants to make more promises.
BLITZER: Because this deficit, David...
BLITZER: Go ahead. Pick up that thought. This deficit is growing and growing and growing.
GERGEN: It is growing dramatically.
This -- this budget from President Obama estimates, in the next five years, we will have $5 trillion worth of deficits. That is up 35 percent from what the president projected just 12 months ago.
This thing is spinning out of control. And, Wolf, it already has near-term consequences. You can see how power is shifting to China in the eyes of the world, how the Chinese are flexing their muscles in a variety of ways.
That, as David Walker -- and he's been sort of out on the point, calling attention to this, for a long time. That is, we're already seeing some of the negative consequences, and we're going to see it in higher interest rates and a possible dollar crisis, unless we deal with this soon.
And it's going to require the American people to really push Congress, because there's no will in Washington to do what actually needs to be done over time. At least, I haven't seen it this week.
BLITZER: Because the only options, David Walker, I see, most economists see, are either cut spending dramatically, and that means getting into the entitlements, where most of the money is -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. That's a politically risky venue. You raise taxes, which is a very politically risky venue. Or you assume the economy is going to grow crazy and that new revenue is going to come in and save all of us. You see any other options out there?
WALKER: Well, right now we have profiles in cowardice rather than profiles in courage. And the simple fact of the matter is, when you look at the math, there's no way you can grow your way out of the problem. It would take double-digit GDP growth for decades. Hasn't happened; isn't going to happen.
BLITZER: So that third option I mentioned is out?
WALKER: We're going to have to re-impose tough statutory budget controls after we've turned the corner on the economy and get unemployment down. We're going to end up having to reform Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, really control health-cart costs. That's not what the current health-care reform is about. Reform our tax system and generate more revenues. All of that and more.
And that's why the president's proposal for a fiscal future commission makes imminent good sense, because we're going to have to make progress on multiple fronts, and it's going to take a special process.
BLITZER: And David, this year, an election year, midterm elections. Are any of those steps realistic?
GERGEN: Well, look at the -- look at the deficit commission the president is proposing that Congress...
GERGEN: ... it rejected. They rejected it. They pulled all the teeth out of the commission. The commission is supposedly going to get together this year. Republicans are saying they may not even join the commission. And the commission, it won't even allow to report until after the elections. So in effect, the hard choices will be hidden from the American electorate during the election season. Then they report afterwards.
And there's no guarantee at all that they will support this. Because there -- some of the toughest problems we face in our politics is Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. These are very sacred in American politics.
There is a fourth option, Wolf. That's called bankruptcy.
BLITZER: Hopefully, we're not going to get there.
Very quickly, David Walker, because we're out of time.
WALKER: The commission has to have capable, credible and committed people, and it's got to engage the American people beyond the beltway with the facts and the truth. That's the only way it has a chance to succeed.
BLITZER: David Walker, David Gergen, guys, thanks very much.
Up next on 360, Toyota says it has a fix for its pedal problem. Is it too little too late? The car company's president speaking out for the first time since the massive recall.
Also ahead, how Anderson's reporting on mass graves in Haiti inspired two men to give the gift of dignity to the victims of the earthquake.
And there are now more new developments. Joe Johns is in Port- au-Prince tonight, and you can ask him a question by texting it to AC360 or 22360. Remember, standard rates apply.
BLITZER: Coming up, women's biological clocks may be ticking much faster than expected. Stunning findings from a new study on fertility.
But first, Brooke Baldwin is here with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Brooke.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, thank you.
Want to begin in Baghdad, where a female suicide bomber killed at least 54 people and wounded 117. The woman detonated explosives hidden under her cloak while in line at a security checkpoint for Shiite pilgrims.
And the father of a man charged in this alleged terrorist bomb plot in New York City has now been indicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice. The father is accused of destroying chemicals and other evidence in the investigation of his son, Najibullah Zazi.
And could it be the fix is coming? Toyota promising the repair parts for its 2.3 million recalled vehicles in the U.S. should arrive at dealers this week. The sticky accelerators will be fitted with a steel reinforcement bar. And the car maker's president spoke out for the first time today about this recall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM LENTZ, PRESIDENT/COO, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION: I want to sincerely apologize to Toyota owners. I know that our recall has caused many of you concern, and for that I am truly sorry. Toyota has always prided itself on building high quality durable cars that customers can depend on. And I know that we've let you down. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And check this out, Wolf Blitzer. This ride could be yours. Is it a Jet Ski? Oh, no, this is a plane that flies 100 feet under water. This is the latest luxury toy, offered by billionaire Richard Branson.
But get this: vacationers at his private Caribbean island can rent the Necker Nymph for a cool $25,000 a week. They will, of course, have to wear their SCUBA masks during the dives. And let me remind you: a cool $300,000 just to hang out there for the week on the private island.
BLITZER: Let's not forget, but it's Sir Richard Branson.
BLITZER: We have so show respect. He's a "Sir."
BALDWIN: Of course. Sir.
BLITZER: You won't make that mistake again, right?
BALDWIN: Never, never. But how do you like that? Do you like that ride?
BALDWIN: Maybe for the Potomac?
BLITZER: Very cool. But watch this. I want you to get excited about our "Beat 360" winners tonight.
BALDWIN: All right.
BLITZER: It's our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the photo we post on our blog every day.
BLITZER: Tonight's photo is pop star Lady Gaga...
BLITZER: ... arriving at last night's Grammy awards in L.A. in a typically fashion-forward design. You would look good in this, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Oh, thank you.
BLITZER: Our staff winner is Sean, with Lady Gaga's fashion interpretive of Beyonce's song of the year. Her caption -- his caption, that is, "If you like it, if you love it, put a ring on it."
BALDWIN: Very nice, Wolf Blitzer. Very hip of you. BLITZER: Our viewer winner is Talitha from Windsor, Connecticut. Her caption: "Who said that your fourth-grade solar system project wouldn't be useful?"
(SOUND EFFECT: ROARING LION)
BLITZER: Talitha, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.
Brooke, you want one of those T-shirts, too?
BALDWIN: I could take a T-shirt. I decided against the Saturn rings. I thought it would be too distracting.
BLITZER: But I know you like Lady Gaga.
BALDWIN: Hey, I'm your fan. "Poker Face" is your jam, Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Yes. "Bad Romance." You like that new song?
BALDWIN: Nice, nice.
BLITZER: You like that?
BALDWIN: Tweet about that one.
BLITZER: Of course. Don't go away. I'm going to go tweet about you. Thank you.
Honoring the dead. Giving the victims of Haiti's earthquake the respect they deserve. Joe Johns is in Haiti. He's taking your questions about the situation. Text them at AC360 or 22360. Standard rates apply.
Also tonight, P. Diddy, he's looking ahead, determined to make a difference. Our up close interview tonight on 360.
BLITZER: Tonight welcome news out of Haiti, medical airlifts of critically-injured earthquake victims resumed to the United States today. The flights were suspended for several days because of cost and capacity issues.
Twenty-three thousand people in need of care have been flown to the U.S. since the disaster. They have a chance, but as we know others did not.
With each day, the death toll in Haiti continues to raise. Many who perished were buried in mass graves, a grim fact that was witnessed firsthand by Anderson. We want to show you some of Anderson's report, but first, we want to warn you the images are graphic and disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): From a distance it looks like an ordinary landfill. The true horror is clear only up close.
The dead of Port-au-Prince are slowly disappearing. Now we know where many end up.
(on camera) It looks like this group of bodies was just brought here and bulldozed, pushed to the side. What I didn't realize when I first got here is that this entire mound is already filled with bodies. As you walk, you come across a hand sticking out from the dirt. You see a foot sticking out.
(voice-over) The government of Haiti says they've already buried some 7,000 people. How accurate their numbers are is hard to tell. Two weeks after the quake we thought we'd find them cleaned up, covered over. But it's much worse than that.
The dead are still just dumped on the ground. Little effort, it seems, has been made to actually bury them. American or Haitian or whatever the nationality, this is not how anyone expects their dead to be treated. This is not how anyone wants their loved ones' life to end.
(on camera) The bodies are just being dumped on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which bodies?
COOPER: The dead people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no.
COOPER: Yes. We were out at the mass grave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. We collect the bodies. Because what's happened, we asked the people to put the dead body near a cemetery or near a church, and every day, twice a day we go to collect them.
COOPER: You collect them, but the company that's collecting them is dumping the bodies and not burying them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No, no, no, no, no.
COOPER: Yes, I've seen it with my own eyes.
BLITZER: Anderson's sobering report was watched by people across the world, and it also caught the attention of one man in Haiti who, with the help of others, was determined to give the victims a dignified burial. Joe Johns has more. But again, we want to warn you some of the images are extremely graphic.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Music and prayers, mourning the victims of Haiti's worse moment. A valley of death, where tens of thousands of earthquake victims were dumped by the truckload, then barely covered with dirt.
Men and women and children came on buses to pay their respects with a religious service. They passed the decomposing body of a woman dumped here just this weekend.
"People came from every part of the country," he said. "Came to pray for their families in the place where they were dumped. God gives them their benediction."
JOHNS: Haiti has traditionally gone to great lengths to provide proper burials, and this dumping ground was seen as a national disgrace. After seeing Anderson's reports on the mass graves, a Haitian businessman was moved to get two backhoes and summoned a priest to bless the dead before they were buried.
(on camera) What went through your head when you saw the report?
DANIEL ROUZIER, FOOD FOR THE POOR: Well, that this was not reflective of Haiti. We -- we have tremendous respect for our dead. We build them graves that are sometimes more sumptuous than our own homes. And so this is a fluke, and I felt that it was only right for us to -- to give them a proper Christian burial, and so we did.
JOHNS: Perhaps a lasting symbol of this terrible tragedy that's befallen this country, a cross on the hill adorned with black ribbons. It's also sort of a microcosm, this service has been, of Haiti, itself. The strong feelings not just about religion; the beliefs and respect for the dead. But also of politics. It's been all around us during this service.
(voice-over) The passions run high. People are very critical of the government of President Rene Preval and say it hasn't done much for its people in crisis. In fact, the main presence at this interfaith service was the Aristide Foundation, named for former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is in exile in South Africa and has said he's willing to come back.
Some here expressed hope that Aristide will return to Haiti to help them. Though it's almost impossible to see how any single man could bring the kind of change this country needs.
BLITZER: Hard to believe some of these situations that have developed for outsiders, Joe. We have a Text 360 question for you. This one comes from Florida. "Is there a clear plan for search, rescue, recovery, cleanup and rebuild? If so, what is it?"
JOHNS: Wow. You could write a book about that. Short version is: search, rescue and recovery pretty much already done. They're not doing any more of that. The last person rescued was last week.
Cleanup continues. Where do you put all the debris? That's a very good question. We see a lot of it on the side of the roads.
But you can focus in on the last part of that. And that's sort of a development question. Thirty-thousand-foot view. A lot of people say Port-au-Prince is severely overcrowded. The big problem, of course, is that people moved in here because -- from the country, because they thought there were going to be jobs.
The idea when you talk to experts, like a guy like Bob McGuire from Trinity University in Washington, is to get the people to move back out into the country and start work in agriculture again. Only way to do that, they say, is to get the government and the NGOs and all the people pouring money in here to stand up the agriculture sector in this country.
That's the long-term view: send Haiti back to the farms and get some of the people out of Port-au-Prince -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Joe is going to be reporting for us all week from Haiti. Joe, thanks very much.
Up next, super security. What's being done to make sure the Super Bowl doesn't become a terrorist target?
Also, you know him as Sean combs or P. Diddy, but he wants a new title. Role model. What the rapper, actor and businessman wants to teach your kids. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Up close tonight, P. Diddy all month CNN education contributor Steve Perry will be speaking to people who have made a major impact on America's black community. Tonight, the music business. Impresario Sean Combs talks about shaping the next generation. And it began with this question from Steve. Listen to this.
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: I'm often conflicted because I'm a principal and a man. We're contemporaries. We're the same age. You do what I do; I do what I do. And so the question, then, becomes why would I come to a brother like you who makes music to talk about what could be done within the community?
SEAN "P. DIDDY" COMBS, MUSIC MOGUL: I think that, you know, there's a lot of people that have been conflicted. And I think that the track record speaks for itself. That, you know, I've been able to go and show improved. Even though my company is called Bad Boy, my group is called Dirty Money, the positive things I have done, you know, those are the things that should be magnified. Those are the things that the kids know me for.
PERRY: Sometimes I feel like athletes, and entertainers, video- game producers, it's like you all are playing keep-away with our children's attention. Have you ever thought about what it is you do, what is it you know about them so you connect with them? COMBS: What it is for me, is I touch on their emotion. I touch on what really matters to them and a lot of people don't realize how bad, like, people from our communities really want a chance. They really want an opportunity.
PERRY: All right. OK.
COMBS: They really want to be somebody. So that's why you have all my TV shows about -- about inspiring people, giving people an opportunity, and giving people that chance. So whether it's making a band, it's giving that kid a new America, a chance to be in music. I want to work for Diddy. Giving that person an opportunity.
Bad Boys of Comedy, that young comic out there. This is providing an opportunity. People for some reason have a misconception that, you know, we're a lazy generation, a lazy -- a lazy community. No, we just want a chance. We just want an opportunity.
PERRY: A boxer wants to be world champion. A basketball player wants to be world champion. What do you want to be?
COMBS: For me, you know, these last couple of years of just growing up and going from, I think, as you said one time from Diddy to daddy. You know, now I've got six kids. You know, like I think my goals have changed, you know? I mean, I want to be more of a leader. I want to take on more responsibility.
I'm still, honestly, in search of how I could have the most positive effect that I could have. How it's more than just about business. There's more that I'm supposed to do. There's more that I'm going to do.
You know, I have a dream. I want to open up my own school, you know, in Harlem or in the New York area and, you know, I want to have an academy that's known for building leaders, you know? And I feel like that's one of the things that I could have an impact on.
BLITZER: We're going to have more on Steve Perry's interview with P. Diddy later this week here on 360.
But up next, stunning findings from a new study on women and fertility. Your biological clock may be ticking much faster than you thought.
Plus, not something you see every day on your commute. A plane shuts down a highway in the middle of rush hour.
BLITZER: Let's get caught up on some more important stories. Brooke Baldwin is joining us once again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Hi, Wolf. Preparing for the big game. Security in Miami being beefed up ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies say there is no intel indicating a credible terrorist threat. But still they warn the game could be a desirable target.
And ladies, listen to this. If you want children, there's some research you need to hear about tonight. Women have lost about 90 percent of their eggs by the time they turn 30. That is according to researchers at two different universities in Scotland, who looked at 325 women in the U.S., U.K., and other parts of Europe. They found by age 40, only 3 percent of ovarian eggs remain, making it difficult to conceive.
Little bit of irony in this next story for you. Listen to this. In Cherry Hill, New Jersey, a surprise during the morning rush hour. You see a traffic plane -- there it is -- made this emergency landing on the turnpike, Wolf.
Now, the spokesman for the Turnpike Authority said the pilot got the plane over to the shoulder. You can see, there they are moving on out. Even though motorists don't exactly like to do that when they break down.
My question: did the plane have to pay the toll?
BLITZER: No. I think that pilot, though, is very, very lucky he found a nice little opening on that New Jersey Turnpike.
BALDWIN: Traffic reporter, causing traffic. Just saying.
BLITZER: OK. Take a look at this, Brooke. I want you to see our "Shot" tonight. We've got a bird that's both cute and controversial. You've got to see this to believe it.
The Web site Break.com (ph) has tagged this as a dancing owl. Several budding ornithologists in the office here, as well as some commenters on the Web site, believe it to be a vulture.
BLITZER: Maybe an ostrich. What do you think? Sweet little -- little baby.
BALDWIN: I'm not up on my ornithology. Nice usage of the word. I think that's hilarious. I think that's going to be the new -- the new groove for all the kids at the club.
BLITZER: It's like that cat that plays the piano. You know that song?
BALDWIN: That's a cat playing the piano?
BLITZER: Yes. That's another video.
BALDWIN: That's another story.
BLITZER: We'll talk about it later. Thanks very much. Up next, more serious stuff. A lot more serious. Was it a mission of mercy? A group of Americans accused of trying to kidnap orphans out of Haiti. The very latest on this story ahead on 360.