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Somali Children Hard-Hit by Disease and Famine; Dow Dives 634 Points

Aired August 8, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN's "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Piers, thanks very much. Good evening, everyone. It is 10:00 PM on the East Coast of the United States, 5:00 AM where I am right now.

We're coming to you from Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, just across the border from Somalia. Fighting and famine have driven nearly half a million Somalis to this camp in this area and the areas surrounding it, giving Dadaab the terrible distinction of being the largest refugee camp right now on the entire planet.

As is almost always the case, this is by and large a man-made disaster -- a bad drought, the worst drought in 60 years, made worse by extremist Muslim terrorists called the al Shabaab, who control much of southern Somalia, where the worst famine is.

As is also the case, it is the children who are dying -- 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in Somalia in the last 90 days. None of them had to die. Tonight we'll take you inside this human catastrophe and show you the people who are trying to end it.

We begin, though, elsewhere with the breaking news, today's market meltdown in the United States. And we're watching what happens to markets coming up. There's looking live at the Tokyo Stock Exchange just now, open for Tuesday's trading, what happens here both a preview of Wall Street tomorrow and reaction to what happened on Wall Street today, as you know, the Dow Industrial Average plummeting down 634 points, below 11,000 for the first time since last October, down 5.5 percent.

It was a dramatic day on Wall Street, the NASDAQ and S&P down even more sharply, the market's volatility index way, way up.

We've got extensive coverage tonight, starting with two quick questions for chief business correspondent Ali Velshi, who joins us now.

Ali, today what did it all this mean? I mean, it was the biggest one- day drop since December 2008. What is going on?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, just a whole lot of uncertainty in the market. You know, we saw what happened on Thursday with the uncertainty about what's going on in European debt, and then, of course, the downgrade that you and I talked about on Friday when it happened. Here's the interesting thing. The downgrade should have caused credit to become more expensive for the U.S. government. But in fact, it had the opposite result. The 10-year note, which is what mortgages in the United States are priced against, actually went lower in interest. So it costs the U.S. less money today to borrow money than it did on Friday.

But there was a very strange, unusual and violent reaction in the stock market. It started last night, when Asia started trading 24 hours ago, went through to Europe, and then picked up steam in the U.S.

Anderson, a lot of the description here in the United States has been that this market reaction was a little bit overdone, exaggerated, perhaps even irrational. But the bottom line is the market is the market. People are very worried about the economy in Europe, the economy here in the United States.

What this downgrade meant, bottom line, is it was a treacherous, treacherous day on Wall Street, very, very big losses.

COOPER: And Ali, what does it mean for people who are watching their 401(k), who are worried about interest rates? I mean, what should people be think and doing?

VELSHI: Well, I'll tell you, on two levels, you need to be thinking about this. One is, as I mentioned, that 10-year note, which is what mortgages are connected to, went down in interest. So interest rates being very low -- they're historically low for mortgages anyway -- if you're in a fixed mortgage, you didn't get the reaction you thought you were going to get. So interest rates are probably, at least for a little while, going to stay lower.

The problem, of course, is, as you mentioned, Anderson, people and their 401(k)s. This has been a few days now. It's really been 10 out of the last 11 days we've seen the market go down. But between last Thursday's massive losses, 512 points, and then this 634 points, even bigger losses on the S&P 500, which is where your -- what your 401(k) or IRA would look like.

Very, very confusing. Traders I talked to, investors, managers, portfolio managers all said this does seem a little irrational. It's not like 2008, where there's a real reason for this market to be going down. It went down because of fear and panic overtaking rational thought. For the moment, most experts are saying sit this one out. Something will change shortly.

COOPER: All right, Ali. And we are watching Asian markets. We'll bring that to you throughout this hour. Ali, thanks very much.

We're going to talk to Erin Burnett coming up, as well as David Gergen. We're also going to talk about the politics of all of this because instantly after this happened on Friday night, when we were live on the air after the downgrade occurred, politicians just started pointing the fingers one at another. And the S&P in their downgrade said that is part of the problem. That's part of the reason they downgraded. So did the downgrading change any of that? Well, you're going to see. Our "Keeping Them Honest" report on that is coming up.

But I want to turn to what is happening here in the Horn of Africa. Nearly 12 million people are at risk in the Horn of Africa. In Somalia, about 3.2 million people, according to relief workers, are in immediate need of assistance -- immediate need of assistance, food assistance, in some cases medical assistance.

Malnutrition in the number of -- for the kids who are reaching this camp, which is now the largest refugee camp in the world, just outside Somalia and inside Kenya, about 50 percent of the kids who are reaching here are malnourished, severely malnourished. They are, of course, the most vulnerable.

And that statistic we told about at the top -- at the top of the hour, a few moments ago -- according to relief workers, at least 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the last three months, 29,000. Tens of thousands of others have already died.

A lot of it's happening in Somalia, where there are no cameras, but you see it here in this refugee camp. We saw it firsthand today at a hospital run by the International Rescue Committee. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): It is a place of hope and horror, the children's ward of the International Rescue Committee hospital. Extra beds have been brought in for all the kids whose lives now hang in the balance.

Tanad (ph) is 6 months old and weighs just 6 pounds. He should be twice that.

DR. HUMPHREY MUSYOKA, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: This child actually came in with diarrhea and vomiting, was unable to retain any of the fluids, and has been like this for around two weeks.

COOPER: Dr. Humphrey Musyoka has taught Tanad's mother to give him milk fortified with vitamins and protein. But so far, it's not working.

(on camera): So when a child comes in with diarrhea or with vomiting ...

MUSYOKA: So I mean ...

COOPER: You've got to stop that...

MUSYOKA: We have to stop that.

COOPER: ... before you can really treat the malnutrition.

MUSYOKA: Yes. We do it concurrently, but we usually have to stop the diarrhea and vomiting. COOPER (voice-over): But that's not easy. Ladan (ph) is 4 years old, and she, too, is wasting away.

Once kids can retain fluids, however, many are able to quickly come back to life. Nasro (ph) has only been here five days.

(on camera): The fact that she can sit up ...

MUSYOKA: The child can sit up and drink on her own, is already turning around.

COOPER: Progress.

MUSYOKA: We're seeing progress.

COOPER (voice-over): But with severe malnutrition, doctors can never be too sure.

(on camera): But even if the child is drinking milk and ...

MUSYOKA: Even with a normal-looking child.

COOPER: The child looks good, and then all of a sudden ...

MUSYOKA: Then all of a sudden, they can -- they can tip over to the other side.

COOPER: And they go very fast.

MUSYOKA: They go very fast. Very fast. In fact, what dehydration can do to a child in an hour ...

COOPER: An hour?

MUSYOKA: ... in an hour is drastic. It's horrible.

COOPER: Really?

MUSYOKA: Horrible.

COOPER (voice-over): Many of these kids have spent weeks on the road with their mothers (INAUDIBLE) Somalia. It took Faisal's (ph) mom two weeks to get here. He's so dehydrated, he needs a feeding tube.

MUSYOKA: At least they can get to a place where there are hospital, neutral, where they're managed like (INAUDIBLE). The chances of survival, I give it 80 percent.

COOPER (on camera): The key is getting here in time.

MUSYOKA: The key is getting here in time.

COOPER: Right.

MUSYOKA: The key is getting here in time. COOPER (voice-over): Malnutrition is an age-old problem. Doctors now have a new weapon that has revolutionized (INAUDIBLE). It's a peanut paste packed with nutrients called Plumpy'nut. Once a child can eat, it's the first thing doctors give him.

MUSYOKA: This here is literally a miracle.

COOPER (on camera): A miracle.

MUSYOKA: A miracle, yes.

COOPER: Nice to know that miracles can happen in here.

MUSYOKA: In here.


MUSYOKA: In here.

COOPER (voice-over): There are miracles, and there is misery, but Dr. Musyoka doesn't have time to dwell on either.

MUSYOKA: Our biggest challenge is that they will keep on coming. So how are you going to respond to that? How are you going to rise to the occasion? So it's very challenging mentally, I think, because you lose life. But what do you do about the next one who will come?

COOPER (on camera): You can't mourn for the people who pass because more are still coming.

MUSYOKA: More are still coming. So we have to do something about that.


COOPER: ... yes, just a real conversation.


COOPER: Joining us now is our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's here with us. And also Amanda Lindhout, founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation, formerly a freelance journalist who was actually held captive for 15 months in Somalia by Somali militants. Thanks so much for being with us.

Sanjay, in terms of what you've seen today -- I mean, you hear the statistics, 3.5 million Somalis at risk right now, needing immediate food, attention, immediate attention. What did you see today? How bad is it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we saw, you know, obviously, a more chronic situation than I expected. I think a lot of people are paying attention to this for the first time. But this camp, as you pointed out, the largest in the world -- there are 300,000 people here last year. So 100,000 more over the last several months. But ... COOPER: This camp was built for 90,000 people. There's now 400,000 and about 65,000 outside.

GUPTA: That's right. And as you might expect, the lack of resources, the difficulty actually managing people -- they try and do a pretty good job of registering people and making sure they're all accounted for. But beyond that, making sure they all get food, get the medical care that they need, as well -- that's going to be challenge. Simply having pediatric supplies, kids' supplies versus adult supplies, for example -- those things are still challenging.

And people are coming in here after these incredibly long journeys, just absolutely famished and really in need of the most basic necessities. But it's the journey even moreso than the drought...

COOPER: Right. Some people have walked for weeks through southern Somalia. You know, southern Somalia is ruled by al Shabaab, which is an Islamic fundamentalist organization which has been battling for control of the country. You actually drove into southern Somalia to deliver food. But only about 20 percent of southern Somalia has been accessible so far to food. What's it -- what's it like there? I mean, are -- what did you see?

AMANDA LINDHOUT, FOUNDER, GLOBAL ENRICHMENT FOUNDATION: Well, the situation in southern Somalia is very bad, and so central Somalia really needs to be addressed. Food aid needs to get in immediately.

And I think one of the things that the big international organizations have been overlooking is that there are actually regions that food can get in. For example, the town that I went into, Bilblay (ph), Somalia, is just across the border, and it's controlled by the transitional federal government.

There's been a lot of politics and red tape that have prevented the international community until very recently from getting food into those areas. And we really need to focus on the areas that are accessible right now and get food there. Why some of the big organizations, for example, the WFP, don't have feeding centers in those regions that are accessible is still a question that hasn't been answered.

COOPER: Although -- I mean, al Shabaab has been threatening aid workers, has kidnapped aid workers over the years, executed some of them. So a lot of the big organizations have pulled out, and al Shabaab themselves said they don't want foreign aid workers in their territory.

LINDHOUT: That's right. But an option that's not being looked at enough is that there are about 20 local Somali NGOs that have been working and providing very effectively humanitarian aid over the last two years, after all the big guys were kicked out.

Now, food can be -- and resources can be channeled through those local NGOs, and therefore getting to the people. These organizations have been working, you know, underneath al Shabaab over the last two years, and that's one way of getting food into areas that are the worst hit and most affected by the famine.

COOPER: Sanjay, in terms of this crisis, I mean, this is the worst drought, they say, that's been in 60 years. And it's going to continue for several more months.

GUPTA: Yes. And I think that the whole planning now -- obviously, you know, this was not a sudden surprise. I mean, they had forecast this a long time ago. But there just wasn't enough planning, either getting enough resources here or even into Somalia for some of the reasons that Amanda is mentioning, as well, just the concern about the conflict.

But now it's a question of what you do from here on out. You know, can you get some of this aid to the people who need it so they don't have to make these incredibly long journeys, and try and prepare for what these next several months are going to be like, loss of crops, loss of livestock and loss of food and water.

COOPER: You were held captive for 15 months by militants. I think if I was held captive, I'm not sure I would ever want to come back to Somalia. What makes you want to do this?

LINDHOUT: I think that experience in captivity actually provided me with some pretty valuable insights into the conditions that are creating these generations of young people that only know violence. So while I was in captivity or in the darkest periods of my captivity, I just made a promise to myself that if I made it out alive, I would dedicate my life to improving the conditions that are creating these generations of young people. And for the last year-and-a-half, I've managed to do that.

COOPER: I was here back in '92, '93, when there was a famine. And it was my first big reporting assignment. I had never known Somalia not at war. I mean, for the last 20 years, since the dictator was overthrown, there has been war. And there's really no central government here.

What do you -- what do you find interesting about Somalia? I mean, what draws you to it?

LINDHOUT: Well, of course, my own personal experience in Somalia and the insights that I had there, and the commitments that I made to myself. And I actually -- you know, people often speak about Somalia as a hopeless place. You know, it's a failed state, et cetera.

But I personally have a lot of hope for Somalia. I think that the future is in the young people. And if we can provide educational opportunities for the young people, which is something I'm really actively involved in, I think that is -- long term, that is the future of Somalia.

COOPER: Well, thank you so much for being with us. Really a pleasure.


COOPER: And we hope to talk to you in the days ahead. And Sanjay, you'll be back a little bit later on tonight.


COOPER: All right. Thanks very much.

A lot more ahead in this hour. Let us know what you think. We're on FaceBook, of course. You can follow me on Twitter, @Andersoncooper. Sanjay and I have been tweeting up a lot.

Sanjay, what's your Twitter, @...

GUPTA: Sanjayguptacnn.

COOPER: @Sanjayguptacnn. We're both trying to keep ahead of Piers Morgan here.


COOPER: Up next, the market's reaction to Standard & Poor's clipping America's credit rating and why Washington is spending so much time still playing the blame game instead of fixing the problem. We're "Keeping Them Honest" ahead. And more from Somalia.

First let's check in now with Isha Sesay to see what she's following -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the heartbreak is sinking in tonight from America's worst day in Afghanistan, a downed chopper and 30 U.S. troops killed, including 22 Navy SEALs. Their remains now headed home.

That story and all the other headlines when 360 continues.


COOPER: Our breaking news tonight, the continuing market slide after Friday's debt downgrade, 634 points. That's what the Dow dropped today. In its explanation for dropping America's credit rating to a AA-plus, the S&P roundly criticized Washington's dysfunctional politics, right? Well, today the White House, President Obama, slammed the downgrade but not the diagnosis.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So it's not a lack of plans or policies that's the problem here, it's a lack of political will in Washington. It's the insistence on drawing lines in the sand, a refusal to put what's best for the country ahead of self-interest or party or ideology. That's what we need to change.


COOPER: But "Keeping Them Honest," there's no proof that anyone has learned how to compromise. In fact, there's proof positive that both are continuing to point fingers, playing the blame game and digging in their heels after a downgrade that was caused in no small part by people playing the blame game and digging in their heels.

And man, it did not take long. CNN first reported the downgrade Friday night around 8:30. We were on the air for it. Two hours later, House Speaker Boehner released the following statement. He said, quote, "This decision by S&P is the latest consequence of the out-of-control spending that has taken place in Washington for decades." He went on to say, "The spending binge has resulted in job- destroying economic uncertainty and now threatens to send destructive ripple effects across our credit markets."

And here's presidential candidate Mitt Romney that very same night. This was Friday night. Mitt Romney in a statement said, quote, "Standard & Poor's rating downgrade is a deeply troubling indicator of our country's decline under President Obama."

And Michele Bachmann? Well, today, take a look.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've seen the only game these people know -- spend more, borrow more, tax more. That's the only game these people understand.


COOPER: Nothing anywhere about finding new revenue by raising taxes or closing loopholes or even deeper tax reform, yet GOP intransigents on taxes factored into the downgrade. I spoke Friday night to S&P's top man behind the downgrade. He took care to mention both taxes and entitlement spending and had no patience for finger pointing. Watch.


COOPER: Already on Twitter, other places, Republicans and Democrats are pointing the fingers at each other, President Obama at Congress. Do you blame one side more than the other?

JOHN CHAMBERS, STANDARD & POOR'S MANAGING DIRECTOR: No, I think that there's plenty of blame to go around. This is a problem that's been a long time in the making, well over this administration, the prior administration. The -- it's a matter of the medium and long-term budget position of the United States that needs to be brought under control, not the immediate fiscal position.

It's one that centers on entitlements, and it's entitlement reform or having matching revenues to pay for those entitlements that's at the crux of the matter.


COOPER: So Republicans won't talk taxes. They're slamming President Obama. Democrats -- well, they kind of have a two-part approach. One is blaming -- well, take a look.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I believe this is without question the Tea Party downgrade.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The fact of the matter is that this is essentially a Tea Party downgrade.

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: ... Tea Party obstructionism here in Washington...

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: I think they've been smoking some of that tea, not just drinking it.


COOPER: All right, blaming the Tea Party -- that's part one. Part two is not budging, at least not publicly, on entitlement benefits. Last week, TalkingPointsMemo asked House Minority Leader Pelosi whether the people she appoints to the debt reduction committee would oppose any such cuts to Medicare. And guess what? She said yes.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: That is a priority for us. But let me say it is more than a priority, it is a value. It's an ethic for the American people.


COOPER: So her three-member panel won't budge, and leading Republicans won't budge on taxes. Meantime, it's worth a reminder that S&P's downgrade also came with a warning that another downgrade may be in store if Washington can't stop bickering.

So do you think that's going to happen? Let's talk about it. Joining me is former spokesperson for President George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer. You can now find him on Twitter @Arifleischer. Also joining us, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

And Donna, it seemed like Washington's immediate reaction after the downgrading was both sides, Democrats and Republicans, pointing fingers at one another. Wasn't this an opportunity -- in fact, you know, the opportunity to say, You know what? This is a really serious time for our country, and we're going to look at ourselves first before we point other fingers at other people?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Anderson, I believe the response was very predictable. After all, the two major parties have some really major differences at this point in terms of how to get the economy growing again.

I think over the next couple of days, you'll see not only the president emerge to bring the discussion back front and center on jobs, but also perhaps Speaker Boehner and the leaders in the United States Senate will also appoint members to the so-called congressional super-committee who are committed to looking long term at America's fiscal problems not just by cutting spending but also increasing revenues. When we extended the Bush tax cuts in December, that's $847 billion in revenue that the government can no longer collect. And therefore, how do you balance a budget when all we're doing is cutting taxes, cutting revenue?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WH PRESS SECR. FOR PRES. G.W. BUSH: The big issue, though, is it doesn't matter what area you serve in, a crisis is going to arise on every president's watch. The crisis in the Bush years was 9/11 and terrorism, and President Bush spent considerable money in fighting terrorism.

Part of the problem that Barack Obama has now is some of that spending. There's no question about it. But a bigger part is all the spending Barack Obama has done. The fact is that in four years of Barack Obama, he will increase the debt by more than George Bush did in eight years of George Bush.

The question now is solving problems and the leadership that Barack Obama has to take and show to respond to the debt the same way George Bush responded to 9/11. This is the crisis that's come up on his watch, and it doesn't do any good to blame your predecessor or blame the S&P, Standard & Poor's. You have to solve...


BRAZILE: Oh, absolutely, Ari.

FLEISCHER: So that's where we are.

BRAZILE: Ari, S&P ...

FLEISCHER: But Donna, here's the other problem.

BRAZILE: S&P slept through...

FLEISCHER: Here's the other problem that we have.

BRAZILE: S&P slept through ...

FLEISCHER: Hold on, Donna. Let me finish. Let me finish ...

BRAZILE: S&P -- no, no.

FLEISCHER: Let me finish and I'll get right to you.

BRAZILE: No, no. Ari, S&P slept through ...

FLEISCHER: In the Obama budget ...

BRAZILE: S&P slept through the junk crisis. S&P was not even on the watch when they were given these toxic instruments, these -- a AAA rating when it was basically junk. Let's go back to the housing crisis and how S&P handled that.

So look, one bond agency, one rating agency giving the United States a downgrade shouldn't, you know, force us to throw in the towel. (CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: Who's talking about throwing towel? We're talking about solving problems.

BRAZILE: We should look -- we should look at some of the good -- Ari, we should look at some of the good things that have been happening over the last two years. It's not all gloom and doom.

Look, prior to the earthquake in Japan, prior to some of the other -- rising gas prices, we saw -- we were seeing private sector job growth come back. We need to get back to that. We need to focus on the positives in our economy and stop blaming politicians for all of the problems that we face in this country because, quite frankly, the private sector also needs to step up and stop pointing fingers at the political dysfunction, as well.

FLEISCHER: Well, it'd be nice if there were some more positives in this economy. But as we all just learned -- and this is one of the reasons the market has tanked -- growth in the first half of this year has come in less than 1 percentage point. And so we actually have an economy that's going in the wrong direction now. At a time when we need it to grow, it's actually starting to fall back. Some people are talking about -- front page of "The New York Times" business section this week -- a double-dip recession.

The other problem going forward, though, is President Obama has proposed a 50 percent increase in government spending. In 2008, the government spent $3.0 trillion. And in the budget the president submitted to Congress this year, he calls for the government to spend $4.5 trillion in 2016, a 50 percent spending increase. That's my point about it. He never took the debt...

BRAZILE: And you know what most of that spending is coming from?

FLEISCHER: ... seriously until April of this year.

BRAZILE: Do you -- oh, come on, Ari!

FLEISCHER: The president gave a speech about the debt.

BRAZILE: Ari, that is -- that's not true.

FLEISCHER: He never tackled the debt -- Donna, the numbers are precisely what I just said...

BRAZILE: Ari? Ari...

FLEISCHER: ... a 50 percent increase in spending by President Obama.

BRAZILE: ... he came up with $4 trillion ...

FLEISCHER: Donna, the debt ...

BRAZILE: He came up with a $4 trillion of ...

FLEISCHER: The debt under President Obama's budget was going to $26.3 trillion.


BRAZILE: If there's one thing -- you know, you can accuse me of a lot, but not knowing how to count is not one of my flaws.


FLEISCHER: Look it up.

COOPER: We're going to wrap it up.

FLEISCHER: Look it up, $56.3 trillion ...

BRAZILE: $4 trillion in ...

COOPER: I'm at a disadvantage because of the time delay, so I'm sorry to not be able to jump in more. But I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. We're going to continue the discussion again. Ari, Donna, thank you.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

COOPER: It's weird having people argue thousands of miles away. It's very hard to jump in when there's a time delay, so I apologize if it was annoying for you viewers, for you at home. But good perspectives from both of them.

Coming up, we're going to talk to Erin Burnett and our own David Gergen about the politics of all this, what President Obama said today, and what this means for folks at home when you're looking at your 401(k)s, when you're worried about mortgages and the interest rates. Erin Burnett has some thoughts on that.

Also then, the life and death crisis that is happening right here all around us, here on the border with Somalia. And tomorrow, we'll be inside Somalia itself, reporting from Mogadishu.

I'll be back with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and others. We'll show you what life is like here for the kids and for the more than 1,200 people who are still arriving at this refugee camp that is already over capacity, with nearly half a million people here receiving food aid, receiving medical attention and water.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Covering the breaking news here along the Somalia border and inside Somalia, the famine crisis, and also the breaking news at home, heavy losses on Wall Street today, especially for the S&P 500 index, which of course, matters more than the Dow because so many retirement accounts -- so many retirement accounts -- are heavily invested in S&P companies.

Erin Burnett, CNN's latest addition, which we're very excited about, is joining us tonight. So is senior political analyst David Gergen.

Erin, for -- is there really much that the U.S. government can do about this? Because, I mean, isn't a lot of what happened today also involved with what's going on in Europe and in Japan?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is. It's become completely global, all the economies link together, and the debt problem a global one, as well, Anderson.

There is something that can be done both by lawmakers in Washington and also by the Fed. The Fed meets tomorrow on interest rates. That's going to be really crucial. Ben Bernanke, chief of the Fed, the most important player right now -- what he decides to do, what he says about economic growth in this country in his statement, and also, if he says there's something further the Fed could do, those are going to be very crucial things tomorrow. But he's got to get the nuance just right, or he could scare the markets.

Lawmakers -- we all know, Anderson, there are things they could do -- for example, show some leadership and that they can work together. But they're on recess and we're not going to get anything out of them now.

COOPER: And David, President Obama spoke today. A, how do you think he did in terms of what he said? And what more needs to be done or can be done?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, President Obama did his best today to reassure the markets, but it's clear now that words alone are not enough. When the president spoke in the afternoon to try to reassure people, the Dow was down about 400. By the end of the day, it was down another 200 points.

So I do think people are looking for action. What could he do? He could call the congressional leaders back to Washington from their vacations and see if he can cut a deal on jobs -- not only the debt, but on jobs. That's the most urgent issue.

You know, he wants unemployment insurance extended. He wants payroll tax cuts extended. The Republicans want regulations reduced or have a moratorium on new regulations. They want the immigration of more talented immigrants. They've got some things on their agenda. Cut a deal now on jobs to give people reassurance that something is happening.

I also think, Anderson, it's very important for the president to form a council of heavyweights around him because right now, people don't have enough confidence in government generally and in politicians. Do take some steps. Don't -- today was too much -- his statement, frankly, was just too much same old, same old. As much as I respect him, it was same old, same old. And it didn't work.

COOPER: But it's interesting, Erin, I mean, David's point about getting in a council -- you know, you have Tim Geithner, who has real world experience, and yet there's a lot of folks on the Republican side who would like to get rid of him. BURNETT: Yes, it's true. I mean, it does seem to be just politics as usual. And the president has tried and not been that successful with some of these councils that he's tried with jobs and competitiveness. This may be the time, as David says, to try to come up with one that actually has some power to do something.

GERGEN: But Anderson, the very point is here that people out in the country, especially in the investment community, are desperate for Washington to get beyond politics for a change, to put down the political battles and focus on getting some real progress.

Declare a moratorium -- the president ought to stop his 2012 campaign for a while and get some focus on -- try to get this economy reignited, and then everybody can go back to the politics and the sandbox and everything else.

COOPER: I think a lot of Americans would appreciate it if -- whether it's a Republican or a Democrat, you know, looked inward and kind of took some responsibility and said, You know what? Both sides of -- both -- you know, both of us, both of our sides have a share in this, you know, contributed to this problem, and are actually going to show some leadership and not just point fingers but also look inward. But you never hear that from any politician.

GERGEN: Anderson, you're so right. It's interesting. I just got an e-mail from some -- a leading person in the investment community, who guides an awful lot of investors, who said exactly that, that that's what people would welcome so much if both sides simply said, We take responsibility. We're all -- we've all done wrong here, and we need to get together and get some of these problems solved. It would be so helpful to the country.

I can't tell you how disgusted people are and frustrated they are with the politics dominating everything, as opposed to some really constructive national effort.

COOPER: Erin Burnett, good to have you on. David Gergen, as well. Thanks.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: And still ahead tonight, more from this, the largest refugee camp in the world, more than -- about half a million Somalis who are here in desperate need, many of them. We'll have the latest from here. Jill Biden was here today. I interviewed her and we'll have some of that, also former senator Dr. Bill Frist was here. I'll talk to him, as well.

Also Sanjay Gupta profiles a father who walked some 30 days, days and nights, in order to save his children and get them here, where they can receive medical attention, where they can receive food aid. A lot of stories like that. We'll tell you some -- introduce you to some of the people coming up.

And also, crazy going on in London, riots there continuing. We'll have the latest on that. We'll be right back.


SESAY: Hi. I'm Isha Sesay. Here's a "360 Bulletin."

With new reports of gunfire and deaths in Syria, pressure is building on the government to stop its crackdown. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain are all recalling their ambassadors to discuss the bloodshed.

The hotel housekeeper who says she was sexually assaulted by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has filed a civil lawsuit against him. Nafissatou Diallo is seeking unspecified monetary damages. In the criminal case, Strauss-Kahn has pleaded not guilty to charges.

Those are the headlines. Now back to Anderson.

COOPER: Besides financial aid, the U.S. is providing some high-level moral support to Somalis. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, along with other U.S. dignitaries, visited Dadaab, this camp today. We spent some time with her.

The visit is part of an effort by the U.S. to underscore its commitment to tackling the famine. She came in on a fact-finding mission. She's especially concerned about the effect of the crisis on Somali kids.

Fifty percent of them who are arriving now in the camp are malnourished. As many as one third in southern Somalia are malnourished. "The New York Times" says Somali children, about half a million are on the brink of starvation.

We talked to Jill Biden about the crisis and what she saw today and the desperate situation that so many Somali mothers are facing. Take a look.


COOPER: Have you ever been to a camp like this?

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: No. I've never been to a camp like this.

COOPER: Because it's one thing to see pictures, you know, in the news or the pictures in the paper, but to actually meet people and see it up close...

BIDEN: Right. Right. And that's why I wanted to come because I was seeing it in the paper and I was seeing it in the news, and I just couldn't imagine, being a mother myself, that someone wouldn't help my children.

And I think that's why these women have walked from Somalia. They've walked 15 to 30 days to bring their children here to get them food and water and health care. And that's what's needed. We need donations. We need people to just give a little bit. I mean, I know we have tough economic times in the United States, but if everybody could just see what's going on here -- it's a desperate situation.

And there is an end this. The rains will come. I mean, this was caused by famine and -- the famine by the drought. So rains will come in October. But we have to help these mothers save their children.

COOPER: I saw you talking with a family. What were they saying?

BIDEN: That mother had walked for 15 days. There's no male head of household. And she said, Can you help me? Can you help me? I have my children. And her little baby was sick and -- with diarrhea, and so they desperately are seeking help.

COOPER: And diarrhea here -- I mean, so many kids die with diarrhea. I mean, they can't replenish their fluids.

BIDEN: Yes. So Americans, if they could just give a donation, they could pay for vaccines for measles for these kids. They could pay for water. They could pay for food. If they would go to, they could choose the donation, where they would want their donation to go, and help the children, help the children live.


COOPER: She really wanted to come here to see it for herself and do whatever she could to try to bring attention to it. You can see the full interview on Tomorrow, we'll put up the interview with Dr. Bill Frist, former senator Frist, who is also here as part of Jill Biden's fact-finding mission.

Coming up, families affected by the famine, Dr. Sanjay Gupta showing us the efforts under way to help the youngest victims survive.


COOPER: Welcome back. We are in Dadaab, the largest refugee camp now in the world, along the Somali border in Kenya. What's so remarkable and horrific about what's happening here is that, in a sense, it's history repeating itself and innocent people are suffering and dying. Nineteen years ago this very month, I actually was in Somalia reporting on famine. It was one of the first stories I covered as a young reporter.

The famine back then killed about 300,000 people. I want to just show you some of what I saw in a town called Baidoa. This was in 1992, this very month, in August, 19 years ago this month, nearly this month to the day, a town, Baidoa, where about 100 people were dying every day of malnutrition and from the conflicts. Take a look.


COOPER: Death and suffering are everywhere here in Baidoa. I was walking down this road and just came upon a family whose son just died as I was standing there. They're now washing his body. You want to do something. You want to cry out. You want to grab someone and get them to help, but there's no help to be had and there's no one around. For a lot of these people, it's too late. You know, the relief supplies are coming, but they've been suffering for months and they're going to die, and there's nothing you can do.

(voice-over): I sat and watched the boy's father use what little water he had to clean his son's body. They had come to Baidoa because they had heard there was food here. The father had already watched his two other boys die. This was his last. He was 5 years old.


COOPER: It was happening a thousand times a day in places like that all over Somalia 19 years ago. And here we are 19 years later, and it is happening again. Ten of thousands may have already died. An estimated 29,000 kids, according to aid workers, under the age of 5 have already died just in the last three months.

Parents are desperate to save their children from a slow and painful death, but famine is a powerful opponent. And we're finding a lot of people who have walked for weeks with their children, many with multiple children, just to try to get them here. Some kids have died along the way. Some adults have died along the way, and we'll never know their stories. We'll never know their names.

But many have reached here. Many have been able to save their kids. Dr. Sanjay Gupta visited the youngest victims at a medical aid station today. Take a look at what he found.


GUPTA (voice-over): What you're looking at may best be described as the most desperate place on earth, vulnerable children, thick with misery.

(on camera): Another thing you can tell right away, you know, when you see a little baby over here -- you can take a look here, the baby's fontanel, it's so sunken in. This is what happens when (INAUDIBLE) babies have no food, no water -- so dehydrated.

(voice-over): Basic, basic necessities so hard to come by, dust and starvation nearly everywhere you look.

(on camera): This is also what happens when you're at the world's largest refugee camp, all these folks waiting to see one doctor over here.

(voice-over): As you look at these images, consider this simple fact. These are the lucky ones, lucky because they made it here at all. This family of five made it out of Somalia just yesterday.

(on camera): I came out here to the middle of the desert to give you a real idea of what this family went through. They walked for 30 days and 30 nights, primarily walking at night because it was cooler, carrying those three kids, sometime carrying a kid, going back, getting another kid, and then just doing this over and over again in the desert, 30 nights' worth. They cross the border, and then they get robbed. Bandits take what little possessions they actually have.

(voice-over): But the bandits didn't take this father's dream and his drive to keep his kids alive. It's not going to be easy.

(on camera): This is another thing you see quite a bit. This child, obviously, now, Mohammed, 3 months old -- he's looking very -- very listless, just not very active at all. But look at this breathing specifically, breathing with his abdomen, not so much with his chest, which is something that's very tiring for a baby. He also has whooping cough, pertussis. That's because the child was never vaccinated, either.

(voice-over): He will need a hospital, oxygen, antibiotics, and yes, food and water. All of it may come too late. It's so painful to realize that every single one of his ailments could have been prevented. Unfortunately, though, that hardly ever happens in the most desperate places on earth.


COOPER: I'm joined again by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Also here with David McKenzie, who's been on the ground covering this story for weeks. And CNN's Nima Elbagir joins us from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, where we'll be reporting from tomorrow.

Sanjay, I mean, it's incredible, the journeys that people have taken just to get here.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, they really have no choice. That's what we're sort of finding. And the aid again, keeping in mind that this was not a surprise -- this was not unexpected.

COOPER: People have known for months and months and months.

GUPTA: Yes, and this could have been prepared for. That was really just striking, that so much of what you just saw there was absolutely preventable, which is -- I think that's...

COOPER: So little...

GUPTA: ... you know, so heartbreaking.

COOPER: So little of the way we prepare for these has changed, though. It's not until people see the images that they really think it's real.

GUPTA: Yes. And you've seen this for, you know, 19 years, as you just pointed out. But they -- the journey for them, this family, I think it was probably the hardest part of the whole thing. It was harder than even, you know, dealing with the loss of crops, dealing with the loss of livestock, all of that. The journey -- I mean, they walked for 30 nights, essentially, to get here.

COOPER: And David, I mean, you've been covering this for weeks now, and people are still coming, about 1,200 every single day. And the numbers just in the last two months -- they've seen more people in the last two months than in any previous two months before.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, last month, 30,000 people came to this camp -- 30,000. They had been dealing with maybe a couple of thousand a week, Anderson. And 30,000 in a month is hard for these aid agencies to deal with.

You said at the beginning of the show, you know, this camp has been here for a long time, 300,000, 400,000 people here. But it's the new arrivals that's the struggle. The people who are coming in, they can't even make it into the camps. They go to what they call the outskirts of these camps. They're living under, you know, ramshackle huts ...

COOPER: Right. No running water, no toilets.

MCKENZIE: No running water, no toilets. Often, they are struggling to access food. We went to a place two weeks ago where a father was burying his young child. Her name was Sarah. We went back there today hoping the situation had been better. And we went into their hut, and he was now listless, lying with respiratory problems, had a fever. And there's these blasting winds coming through these camps.

And people are really struggling. They want a better life. Sometimes, when they get here, despite the efforts of the aid agencies, it's even worse.

COOPER: This is a man-made disaster.

MCKENZIE: This is a man-made disaster. There's no such thing, in many experts' minds, as a famine in the 21st century that isn't caused by man. You've got high food prices. You've got markets that aren't working between the countries of East Africa and the Horn of Africa. And we mustn't forget Somalia. The conflict in Somalia, this al Shabaab militia group, the Islamic militia group, is stopping aid from getting in. And people are streaming out, like Sanjay described.

COOPER: And they've stopped vaccinations, and they -- they stopped anybody from vaccinating, saying that vaccinations are a Western plot to kill Somali children.

GUPTA: Yes. And I was -- I was, you know, not quite sure what I would see here. But I saw, you know, pertussis, which is whooping cough right away. They talk about measles, diphtheria, you know, tetanus, all that -- again, preventable problems, as David is saying. That, we know how to deal with. Yet you know, they worry that -- there's so much distrust, you know, that still exists.

COOPER: And Nima, you're in Mogadishu, where al Shabaab has been battling with this fragmented transitional government for a long time. They just allegedly left Mogadishu. What's the latest there? Has al Shabaab really left the capital?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they called it a withdrawal. But really, I think what it is, is they have been pushed out of the capital by the government forces, not just because of superior firepower, also because they've lost a lot of their grass roots support. That edict banning aid groups has hit them really hard.

So over the weekend, there was a sense of optimism that perhaps this could mean those aid corridors throughout the capital would open up. But today, unfortunately, we've already had an attempted suicide attack. Four people were injured when a would-be suicide bomber luckily detonated prematurely.

So now we've gone from that optimism over the weekend to perhaps people just sitting back and slightly (ph) watching and waiting. But there's no doubt about it that it is good news in terms of aid delivery here in Mogadishu. If only the aid could actually get here, Anderson.

COOPER: And you have 100,000 people who have actually been internally displaced and have gone to Mogadishu seeking food. We're going to be there tomorrow. Nima, we're going to talk a lot more to you there, to David McKenzie, as well.

I mean, what -- has a lot changed in this camp just in the time that you've been here?

MCKENZIE: It changes and it stays the same, Anderson. I mean, people are piling into these areas on the outside. They are locating people from the outside of the camp and pushing into camps there. But you know, they're not getting the help they need.

COOPER: Yes. Yes. We'll have more from David in the days ahead, and also Dr. Sanjay Gupta. We're continuing to stay on this story. For information on how you can help the victims of the famine, to go our Web site,

We're going to be right back -- we'll be right back.


COOPER: We're going to continue reporting on the crisis here over the next two nights. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to stay here at this camp for the next two nights. I'm going to go with my team to Mogadishu to see the situation there, both the security situation and also the food situation.

Also tomorrow, you don't want to miss my interview with supermodel Iman. She was, of course, born in Somalia, has a very personal perspective on what's happening here. Here's some of what she had to say.


IMAN, SOMALI-BORN SUPERMODEL: Regardless of the conflict and regardless of the political issue that's happening in Somalia, what's happening for a fact -- for a fact -- that it is a humanitarian catastrophe, and this famine will be remembered as a famine that has destroyed generations of children. And we have -- I think we are in a place now that we can actually turn it around.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Iman is incredibly passionate about the subject. We'll have the entire interview tomorrow on "360" when we're live out of Mogadishu. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will still be here on the Kenyan side of the border, on the crisis here.

Now let's toss it over to John King and "JOHN KING USA."