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Making Inroads in Haiti; At Least Five Dead in Taliban Afghanistan Attack Today; Power Play for Senate Hangs Hinges on Massachusetts Race; Capturing Chaos on Film
Aired January 18, 2010 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, people will take whatever they can get, frankly. There is -- there is food in some buildings in this area. There are -- there's a whole lot -- this is a very -- this is a commercial district. It's a place where you would buy supplies, toiletries, batteries, whatever you needed. So it's a prime target for looters.
The word -- when I first got here, everyone was saying there was barley available. And so we thought OK, they're seeking barley. Now we've learned from the story owner that, no, they're actually taking candles, which is all they can get their hands on.
But you know, what's also interesting is that actual business has sprouted up in the midst of the looters. And you know, there are arguments, and there are people punching one another. You know, the strong take from the weak; the men take from the women.
But there are a number of young men who are sitting on the roofs of the collapsed buildings, and they are sort of brokers of this. They -- women will come up with money in their hands, and then they will negotiate a price for whatever box they have just stolen. And they are literally just selling the items now directly from the store.
So it's not as if -- you know, we're not talking about starving people reaching (ph) for food. This is -- there's profit to be made here. There's money exchanging hands. And you know, there's commerce being -- here under way.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Anderson Cooper. Anderson, appreciate it. And you and your crew stay safe.
Let's push forward now to the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM with Ali Velshi.
ALI VELSHI, HOST: Tony, good to be here with you, although quite a sad story we're covering. We're going to continue to cover that for you.
Six days after the quake, the stories are bigger than ever. Desperation grows along with the urgent efforts of the U.S., U.N., dozens of aid groups. And the rescue gets more amazing as time goes on.
We're watching a special election in Massachusetts, as well, that could change the way you get health care or not.
And if you bought a house because of the first-time home buyer's credit, you'll want to hear from my colleague Christine Romans about how to collect and why you may not want to spend that credit just yet.
Anybody who looks at Haiti has the same reaction, and that goes for journalists too. Where do we begin?
Well, this hour, we'll begin with the monumental disconnect between aid -- the food, water, and medicine -- and the people who might not live long if it doesn't get to them soon. It's still coming faster than Port-au-Prince Airport can handle it and much, much faster than soldiers, peacekeepers, aid and charity organizations can distribute it.
Today alone, some 2,000 U.S. Marines are arriving offshore. A thousand troops are on the ground already, still more on the way. Separately, the U.N. wants another 3,500 peacekeepers to back up the 9,000 that were stationed there pre-earthquake.
Right now, as you just heard from Anderson, security is a big issue, just as big a challenge as logistics. Later this hour, I'll talk to Rick Sanchez about whether it's right to call desperate people who steal criminals or looters.
But through all the misery, there is some hope: more miracles. People saved after five or more days buried in the rubble. Just this morning, a 12-year-old girl underwent brain surgery on the U.S. aircraft carrier Vinson. And CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta led the procedure. We'll talk more about that later this hour.
Now, if you have to be trapped in a collapsed building, you could do worse than to be trapped in a supermarket. I want to see -- I want you to see an incredible story of endurance, perseverance, and a little bit of luck from CNN's Ivan Watson in Port-au-Prince.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the eerie light of a supermarket storage room, an international team of rescue workers waiting for a miracle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, guys, take a breath. Nice and easy.
WATSON: Rescue teams from Florida and Turkey have been struggling to reach people buried in a supermarket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get them right over here.
WATSON: And at 10:23 on Sunday, night after more than five days trapped in the dark, a survivor emerges: a Haitian man, 30 years old. Rescuers are withholding his name. As he comes into the light, he looks around and smiles, then a wave and a sign of jubilation. He whispers "thank you" to his rescuers, because against all odds, this man escaped what should have been his tomb.
(on camera) What's one of the thirst things he told you guys?
LT. FRANK MAINAIDE, SOUTH FLORIDA URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE: "I ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly."
WATSON: I guess he was in the snack aisle or something.
MAINAIDE: Well, it was a grocery -- it is a grocery store. So whatever aisle he was, he had peanut butter and jelly. That's probably why he survived.
WATSON (voice-over): Moments later, a second survivor, this 40- year-old Haitian woman, also a customer of the supermarket.
MAINAIDE: Housewives remarkably, they look pretty good. I don't know if they had access to water. We go give them water once we made -- we made contact with them, and they drank those water bottles, as you can assume, very quickly. And they were remarkably in very good condition, considering they've been in there for five days.
WATSON: Managers say there may have been up to the 150 people in the five-story Caribbean supermarket when the building collapsed. Saturday night and Sunday morning, rescuers succeed in digging three other survivors out from under the rubble, including a 50-year-old American woman named Marielle Dittmer.
But the rescue operations are dangerous work. Rescuers quickly evacuated when the walls of their tunnel suddenly shifted. Sunday night's rescue offers a devastated city a much-needed moment of hope.
Captain Joe Zahralban takes a minute to embrace the manager of the supermarket, but their celebration is short-lived. As long as there is a chance of more survivors, he says they cannot afford to rest.
CAPT. JOE ZAHRALBAN, SOUTH FLORIDA URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE: We're going to go back in. We're going to do more searches, and the commitment I've made to Samier is we're going to do this until we no longer find survivors.
SAMIER TAHMOUSH, MANAGER, CARIBBEAN SUPERMARKET: Hopefully we're going to find more and more people. Hopefully.
VELSHI: Well, Ivan is already a veteran of Haiti's search and rescue. He's been on the beat virtually nonstop since Thursday. You may remember his live coverage of the rescue of an 11-year-old girl, who sadly, later died of her injuries.
Ivan was at the scene of the supermarket rescue for 14 hours. He joins me now, from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.
Ivan, it's an interesting thing, when you're there and you're watching these rescue workers, to think about how each person they rescue or each body they find doesn't give them an opportunity to rest. They've actually got to go back in there and keep on looking. When does that end?
WATSON: It's just going to keep on going. And the pressure is on them, because we could not film them because we wanted to respect their privacy. But Ali, there were about 50 relatives and loved ones waiting, an agonizing vigil right next to the market, waiting to find out any news about their loved ones who they believed were buried inside and hoping to God that maybe their loved ones could come out next, Ali.
VELSHI: Ivan, you -- you also got aboard a truck this weekend. You left Port-au-Prince with some people who were looking for something. What were -- let's listen first of all -- let's listen to you on the truck and then you tell us a little bit about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: We're traveling on the road north out of Port-au-Prince. And all along this road, there are trucks and buses loaded with residents of the capital who are fleeing, basically. They're riding on the rooftops of cars. They're packing into the back of buses. We've seen injured people being carried in the backs of pickup trucks like this, and they are fleeing the capital.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Ivan, what are they going to find? What are they hoping to get? Is it food? Is it just shelter? Is it just to get out of the mayhem in Port-au-Prince? What's going on as people take that road that you were on that truck on, leaving Port-au-Prince?
WATSON: It's to escape the disaster zone, Ali. Some of them are going to relatives' houses in the interior areas that were not damaged by the earthquake, where the security is better, where there is more food in the countryside. You know, you drive about 20 minutes out of Port-au-Prince, and you can actually see people farming in their fields. So there is better access to food.
Some of these people saying there's simply no hope in the capital right now and they have to flee to safety. Others saying, you know, "My family's all dead now. I've got nothing left for me now. My house is destroyed. I've got to stay with my uncle or cousin, because there's nothing left for me in this city anymore."
VELSHI: You're chasing -- you're chasing around the city, looking at stories of rescue. You're trying to keep on top of what's going on on the rescue side of things. So you're probably not seeing a lot of normalcy in Port-au-Prince. Is there any normalcy? Are there entire areas where there isn't this mayhem and chaos?
WATSON: Well, I have to say one of the improvements, really, that we noticed yesterday was that, at least in the downtown area, in the center, the bodies that had been here just a few days ago on every street corner, they have been picked up. They have been removed. Perhaps unceremoniously, but that is a sign of improvement.
There is some distribution that we're seeing, but there are still signs of desperation. We saw one man who hung up a sheet across his alley, his lane where there are a lot of people sleeping out in the street, all the houses demolished, bodies buried inside. And it just said help, "Help. We need food or water." And he was making a list of names of those residents, Ali, and just looking for anybody to give that list to. He didn't know who to ask for just food and water.
VELSHI: All right. Ivan, we'll check in with you again. Thanks for keeping us up to speed on what's going on. Ivan Watson in Port- au-Prince.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water. Just send your cash. One of the things that the president and I'll do is to make sure your money is spent wisely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That's former President Bush, back at the White House Saturday with simple advice for all who want to help: cash is best.
To find out where to send it, go to Impact Your World, a one-stop Web site with a world of resources. Just point your browser to CNN.com/impact.
And we're watching all sorts of other news, including a very special Senate race, in every sense of the word special. You don't have to live in Massachusetts to have a very big stake in the outcome of this race, which is tomorrow night.
And around the country, people are pausing today to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, they've been doing it now for 70 -- for 50 -- I'm sorry, 17 years in all 50 states.
VELSHI: I'm here in the center of the CNN NEWSROOM, where all of this news is coming into us right now. And there is a great deal of it, almost all of it right now having to do with Haiti: the rescue, the food, the disconnect between the aid and the people who need it.
There is money, and there is food and water and soldiers coming in, but it capital get to everybody who needs it. And right now in the streets of Port-au-Prince, people are desperate. They are looking for food. They are trying to buy it. And some of them are stealing it.
Anderson Cooper is live in the streets of Port-au-Prince right now, looking at some of this that's going on. Anderson, describe the situation you're in.
COOPER: Well, right now, there's (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Basically, the larger situation is there are now several hundred people on this street in downtown Port-au-Prince in the market, the commercial district, very close to the national cathedral. And this -- I don't want to say it's getting out of control but there's a level of some sort of crazy order to it. Essentially a mob of young men that's broken into a supply store.
Word has spread in the neighborhood that barley and food is available. Hundreds of people descending on this area, a lot of them women with sacks. It turned out it's not barley. It's actually boxes of candles that were inside this store. And now you have a situation where, actually, the street is now in the control of just people who are stealing these items from the store.
There's a store owner by the name of Tony Bennett, not the singer, but his name is Tony Bennett, who has been blocking the way with the help of two Haitian police officers. They're trying to keep people away from his two stores, which are just on the corner here, and his storage of food. So he's particularly concerned about people breaking into his stores.
He has now taken the step of barricading off the street that his business is on, using lots of debris. And he has gotten a truck in here somehow. And now he is trying to load as many of the supplies that are still in his store into this truck and get them out of here before they fall into the hands of the looters.
But around the corner where I'm standing, and I'm about 20 feet away from sort of the epicenter of the free-for-all, there's just no control. There's two Haitian police officers who -- this American businessman Tony, who went to the University of Miami and is of Haitian descent, he's basically armed two Haitian police officers with automatic weapons. And now -- and he's given them water and I'm not sure what else. Occasionally, he will ask them to kind of meander over to where the crowd is and fire into the air. So they've been doing that over the last half hour to 45 minutes that I've heard.
And the crowds have dispersed momentarily, but it is literally like trying to stop a flowing stream. As soon as a police officer stops firing, people just continue to steal. Occasionally, then the police officer in frustration will pick up a 2 x 4 or something on the street and just whack at somebody.
But now it's interesting, because in the past hour to 45 minutes I've been here, there's a definite mood shift. Things are getting a little bit more violent. I'm now seeing a crowd, a mob -- not a mob. I'd say a group of five young men. One has a broken bottle in his hand, and another has a 2 x 4 and a crowbar. And they are defending the items that they have stolen from other people who are coming up.
Now there's a man with another 2 x 4, and he's threatening to hit. Actually, he is now hitting four young men with the 2 x 4, trying to take a box that they have stolen. He's trying to steal it back from them.
But it's quickly getting pretty chaotic here. And what's interesting is, you know, you talk to the American businessman who's barricaded himself now around the corner. And his story is, you know, quickly -- he says, "Look, there's no one you can call. You can't call the Haitian police department." A lot of them are not on duty. A lot of them have been injured or dead. A lot of them simply now are looking after their own families. They're not reporting to work. And the ones who are, sometimes, they don't have the weaponry to handle these kind of situations. I mean, you really (UNINTELLIGIBLE) automatic weapons.
And -- and he's just armed up these two Haitian police officers to be his kind of control. It's -- you know, this is -- Haiti, there's often been kind of the rule of the strong. And that's quickly what is happening. There are a lot of women early on who were purchasing items from the young men who were stealing them. And we're seeing a lot more young men who are quite aggressive, who have come down here to try to make as much money as they can as quickly as possible.
VELSHI: Anderson, it has become substantially louder. Even listening to you, it's harder to hear you than it was when you were talking to Tony 20 minutes ago.
We're looking at video. The video that our viewers are seeing is video that was shot on Saturday and this morning. But you are now saying that these people, the shopkeepers, are trying to keep people from looting his store. Doesn't sound like the mob mentality and the mob that is developing in front of you is going to be held back by -- by the storekeeper and his makeshift barricades.
COOPER: He's been doing pretty good. He's actually been able to close off an entire block of downtown Port-au-Prince and been able to bring a truck in and is emptying his store. So you know, if was putting money, I'd put my money on him, not so much what's happening and not so much the crowd.
Even though there's a mob, there is actually a kind of order to these things and you know, kind of unwritten rules. It's interesting now. As I was coming down here, I was hearing gunshots being fired in the air.
People in the crowd were saying, "You know what? This is wrong. This is not -- this is not people stealing because they're hungry, and they're trying to feed their families. This is people taking money for profit, and you know, trying to take advantage of the situation."
And we're seeing that now increasingly. There's -- you know, there's increasing fights on the street, and it's -- these things can evolve very quickly.
VELSHI: Anderson, what is the situation with respect to food for people who have money? Is food and water readily available for those who can afford to buy it right now, or are we seeing a black market developing in even basic necessities? COOPER: Well, you know, no matter where are you in the world, if you have money, you get supplies. And it's the cruel reality of things. And if you have money in Haiti, you can buy fresh fruit. And there are stores that have things in them, and there are these people who have items to sell.
But for most Haitians, it's a black market. And it is -- it's very difficult to procure items for food and items that you need to live. So whether or not it's going to increase (ph), I don't know, but there is some order to it. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) There's only one store on this street that's been broken into. I've heard there's looting just around the corner on another street, as well, but I haven't seen that with my own eyes. So there's sort of a law in the street, and that's what they put into effect right now.
VELSHI: Anderson Cooper, we'll keep checking in with you. Stay safe as things get a little more hectic. Anderson Cooper Port-au- Prince.
We're going to take a break. When we come back, those of you who are looking to donate money, to send money over a text message or donate on the Internet to a charity, there are things you need to look out for to make sure that your money gets to where it's intended. My friend Christine Romans is going to be with me in just a moment about that. Stay with us.
VELSHI: Well, since last week's earthquake in Haiti, there has been an outpouring of donations from ordinary Americans. Joining me to talk about your money and how you can help use it to do good is my friend and fellow anchor on our weekend show, Christine Romans.
Christine, good to see you. I've had, over the weekend, five or six text messages come to my phone, asking me to text and donate money. Clearly, there's a lot of money been raised by those sorts of methods. This is important, though, because there's been controversy already about the legitimacy of some of these fundraising efforts.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's talk a little bit first, Ali, about this profound and aggressive response from the American people to this tragedy in particular. A hundred fifty million dollars in the first few days up to Saturday has been donated. Text messaging has really helped, and so has the Internet.
Compare that with Hurricane Katrina, Ali, in 2005. In the first few days, $108 million, and the Asian tsunami in 2004, $30 million. You can see, and many, many charity watchers say that it is technology that is able to reach people who maybe normally wouldn't give, and now they're giving. Just a quick text message...
ROMANS: ... they're able to, you know, push out $5 or $10.
Now, that means there are some things you need to watch out for, the Better Business Bureau saying they haven't had any complaints yet of widespread problems with the text messaging or the texting of a donation. But look, confirm the number with the charity.
If somebody sends you a text and says, "Text back to this number..."
ROMANS: "... to give to whoever," make sure it's the right number.
Text donations are not immediate. It can take, like, 30 or 60 days for the charity to actually get the money. Review all the fine print, because you might end up getting e-mails all the time or messages back from the charity.
And research the charity. Look, if you go to CharityNavigator.org, also CNN.com/ImpactYourWorld. I mean, look, we have some very, very good tools there so that you can choose the charities that have a long track record with natural disasters and also Haiti. Because not every charity is going to be able to get money quickly and use it on such a scale and scope as this problem.
VELSHI: It's like, you know, President -- President Bush said on Saturday, he said, "Look, for all those people who want to go down there" -- and we've heard from some of the -- "want to go down and help build, for now cash is the best thing that people can send, because it can be deployed."
We had all of these stories this morning about how aid is having trouble getting in. It's on land, but it can't get to the people who need it.
Hey, Christine, another story you and I have talked about for so many months: people buying homes because of the first-time home buyer's credit.
ROMANS: That's right. And look, there's a little bit of a glitch here. And everyone needs to be aware of this.
The glitch here is that you're not going to be able to e-file your -- up to $8,000 homebuyer tax credit. Very important. You're going to need some more documentation, as well.
There have been so many people, Ali, frauding the system -- 89,000 people have scammed the system as of October...
ROMANS: ... that the IRS has to be very careful. You're not going to be able to e-file. You're going to have to have copies of a lot of different documents like proof of residency, your driver's license, some of these mortgage statements and mortgage documents. You're going to have to wait maybe up to four months to get that tax credit.
ROMANS: So be prepared for that. And it's not really -- don't blame the IRS. It's because so many people...
VELSHI: Yes, are cheating.
ROMANS: ... have been -- you and I have said -- how many times have we said, when there's free -- free government money, there's always a huckster trying to get it?
VELSHI: Someone, yes. Always somebody on the take.
Are you going to come join me every day?
ROMANS: Of course I am. If you ask me, I will be there.
VELSHI: All right, Christine. It's so great to -- to see you.
Christine Romans is my co-anchor on "YOUR MONEY." You can watch us on Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Eastern.
All right. We are going to take a break. We -- but first, I want to tell you a little bit about Christine mentioning the fact that you can go to Impact Your World to find out about those charities. We do list them all and talk to people who -- we have companies and their records about how exactly they get the money that you donate over to the people who need it.
Now we're going to hold -- we're going to look at the holdup between point A and point B, as well, with some of the aid and some of the money that you get. So stay with us. We're going to continue that on the other side of this break.
VELSHI: Food, water, medicine, help is on the ground in Haiti. Still more is coming in, but a lot of the help that's on the ground isn't getting to the people who desperately need it. The log jam starts at the airport, which has been swamped since the quake.
Plus, the main seaport is damaged. Many roads are impassable. Makes it tough to get food to where it needs to go.
But there are some successes. Today, the United Nations World Food Program plans to pass out 200 tons of food to some 95,000 people. But in a country of more than 9 million, that's still a drop in the bucket. Our John King talked to USAID administrator Rajiv Shah about why it's so difficult.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION": We just want to take a closer look at some of the roads inside Haiti here as this plays out. One of the big challenges is when you have the damage, the country is not all that developed to begin with and you have the damage and it goes in, a lot of these buildings -- this is using Google Earth and satellite imagery, the red circles are roads that were completely blocked in the immediate aftermath. A lot of the buildings collapsing in the street. The yellow means they're partially obstructed.
You have the airport in the north which is where the general is out here. You have down into Port-au-Prince. Is there enough heavy equipment, to you Dr. Shah first, and then to the general -- the bulldozers, the earth movers, other things -- are these roads now clear or is this still a problem now in terms of delivering aid?
RAJIV SHAH, USAID ADMINISTRATOR: There has been some clearance of certain roads, and a lot more equipment coming from the U.S. military and U.S. military assets over the course of the next week or two. So, the effort to clear transport routes, especially when you look at secondary roads, is an incredible challenge, will require a lot of equipment. And, of course, that will have to come in from the United States and from other countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: A lot of people are frustrated, saying that more can be done to speed up the process. And retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore is one of them. He's joining me live from New Orleans now. General, in your view, what's holding things up?
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, first of all, let me commend the troops that are on the ground doing the best they can. What's holding it up is this flow into the airport. We've got to create multiple distribution points. Need to use more air drops as well as an alternate airfield.
The 82nd Airborne Division has the capacity to open another airfield. For some reason, that asset hasn't been employed yet. But you'll see a big difference today when the USS Baton arrived. It has some Seabees with it, and they can do a lot of work. I think they're going to concentrate on the port first, but they can open a lot of roads with the capacity on the Baton.
VELSHI: All right. So, the issue is when you say the Airborne has the ability to open up an airport or create an airport, how would they go about doing that?
HONORE: They drop them in, they can find any straight road with some clearances on the side of it. And drop paratroopers in and repair a road to a point where you can land C-17s and C-130s. We bought a lot of great equipment during the Cold War and after for expeditionary warfare. You'll see some of that could open another airfield. The problem is the priorities are being set by USAID. If they let the military go, I think you would see that happen.
VELSHI: What's the conflict there? When you say the priorities are set by the USAID -- that was the representative that John King was just speaking to in the piece we just showed you. What would the priorities be different if the military were in charge?
HONORE: I think so. The flow of the 82nd Airborne is being determined by the air flow. If you need more troops on the ground -- as of today, we've got 7,000 troops in the area, only 1,700 on the ground because the 82nd can't get the airplanes.
The air flow can handle 100 airplanes a day. Sixty percent of them go to the civilian flights coming in. And 40 percent to the military. And if you want that kind of capacity early, you're going to have to make them a priority upfront.
VELSHI: Let's talk about the way things are prioritized. Once again, we're looking at pictures of somebody taking water off a U.S. Navy helicopter. Water is a thing that is most highly prioritized to go in. The New York Times reporting equipment for distributing supplies is next, then food is number three, then number four is medical personnel and medicine.
A lot of people are thinking why can't we get the doctors and medicine in first? Does that prioritization of things that get in make sense to you?
HONORE: Well, you got to keep people alive and you got to evacuate those that are sick. Trying to maintain that many sick people on the ground is ridiculous. And we need a plan to get people out of there where they can be properly cared for.
You'll never get out of the search and rescue phase if you don't have a plan for evacuation. We should have large ships leaving at Miami or other places that can get in there and get people out of there as quick as we can because the elderly, the young babies and disabled are going to die at a very high rate if you don't have a redeployment plan to get them out of the country.
VELSHI: Right. And the issue right now is we think of those people trapped and needing to survive because they've got critical injuries, but in a country with that much poverty and destruction of infrastructure to this degree, you're saying lots more people could die who may not have even been injured in the quake.
HONORE: Right, and I understand with the distribution of supplies, there's a lot of concern about security. But you got to understand we had the same scenario in Katrina. The people at the convention center, many of them survived because they went into the stores and got food and water because we could not provide enough for them. And we didn't evacuate and until the Saturday after Katrina.
So, that's a natural process. You'll see the few criminals that will go in and take stuff. You wonder why they're taking it, but a lot of people will be surviving off that food in the stores and in the warehouses.
VELSHI: Yes, it's a point I'm going to talk to Rick Sanchez in a little while. He agrees with you on that point that we have to -- it's a strange line, it's a blurry line between looters and criminals and people taking things just to survive. General Honore, we'll talk to you a lot more as this crisis continues.
HONORE: And Ali, Ali, I'm old school. Here's my $2,000 check. I challenge you to give to the Red Cross.
VELSHI: All right. I'll match it. General Honore, let's get this thing on the road. All right. We're giving $2,000 apiece to the Red Cross.
For far too many Haitians, being rescued is only the first step to survival and as General Honore (sic) says, maybe not the hardest. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has seen many of the injured in the past six days. He's treated some of them, including a 12-year-old girl who underwent surgery on board the U.S. aircraft carrier that's docked off Port-au-Prince. The girl had concrete embedded in her brain. But Sanjay says the operation went well and the young patient is, in his words, "going to do great."
VELSHI: Hard to imagine this kind of chaos now in another part of the world. Deadly attack in downtown Kabul. Coordinated Taliban assault. Multiple targets. Multiple casualties.
VELSHI: Taliban rebels sent a message of defiance and death to the Afghan government and to America today. Just as president Karzai was swearing in new cabinet members, suicide bombers attacked downtown Kabul. At least five people died, dozens were wounded. CNN's Dan Rivers was there.
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A pitched battle in the center of Kabul. Afghan forces fought for more than three hours with Taliban insurgents who were holed up in several buildings.
(on camera): We've been listening to sustained gunfire coming from down the road. You can see in the distance there is a building on fire which we believe may be a market, and we're being told that there are a number of Taliban fighters who are attacking near the Serena Hotel right in the heart of Kabul and a lot of gunfire and explosions going on.
(voice-over): People in the center of Kabul were running for their lives. Women and children terrified and confused. Some angry they hadn't seen any ISEF troops.
SHUKRIA BARAKZAI, AFGHAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: You can see all these Afghan soldiers. There no one from foreign troops. Counterinsurgency. there's insurgents and there's the place that they should cooperate shoulder to shoulder with us. With the government of Afghanistan.
RIVERS (off camera): And it's still going on.
BARAKZAI: Still going on. You can hear.
RIVERS (voice-over): But it wasn't just gunfire that filled the air. Wails of grief as the first bodies were recovered. A shopkeeper killed as the market became a battle zone. The market building was left to burn as the fighting petered out. After three-and-a-half hours, finally, the Afghan army appeared to have control. The fire brigade were able to move in. Government workers left the scene. They'd been pinned down in the ministries of Justice and Finance among those targeted.
This man says it was terrifying. Children, women, everyone was in the basement. "We thought we could be shot at any moment."
(on camera): This is the market building that we believe that some of the Taliban suicide bombers entered across the floor here is littered with bullets, shell cartridges. You can see how fierce the fight was. Just down here is the presidential palace.
(voice-over): As all this was unfolding inside the palace, President Karzai was swearing in new members of his cabinet. His weakness underlined by parliament's repeated rejection of earlier candidates. In ten days, he will address an international conference in London on the future of Afghanistan. Designed to provide political momentum to match the military surge here.
But today's brazen attack will leave many Afghans wondering whether Hamid Karzai is capable of seeing a decline in the violence ravaging this country.
VELSHI: All right. Dan Rivers joins me now from Kabul. Dan, I think it's fair to say most of us don't know the layout of Kabul, but your you were, in fact, within ear shot of something that happened just a little while ago to a report everywhere Press TV. I really -- our viewers have to see this. Take a look at this with me.
VELSHI: That was in the middle of a report -- a reporter was giving that report and this explosion -- he was reporting on an earlier explosion, Dan. Correct me if I'm wrong here, this was a secondary explosion, which is often a tactic used. You attract people to a scene because of an explosion, and then you let off a secondary explosion and injury or kill more people.
RIVERS: Yes, and Ali, we were just around the corner when that happened probably a few hundred meters away. It was very, very loud and sent the crowd of local Afghans running for their lives and we all joined them running, as well. Very loud and very scary.
And we understand that that could have been one of the suicide bombs going off. We're still trying to get details of exactly how many bombers there were. The Taliban spokesman we talked to earlier said there were a total of 20 insurgents engaged in this fight.
But so far, the government is saying they've only recovered seven bodies together with five other bodies of people caught up in the fighting, including policemen and security forces.
VELSHI: And dozens more injured. Dan reminds us that things are far from safe or settled in Afghanistan. Dan Rivers in Kabul.
Top stories now.
Five Americans being held in Pakistan claim that they've been tortured. The claim was logged -- lodged during a court hearing. The five Muslim Americans, all from the Washington area, were arrested last month for suspected terrorism. Pakistani officials deny mistreating them.
It's down to the wire in Massachusetts. Voters will choose a successor to the late Senator Ted Kennedy tomorrow, and there's a chance, a chance that the usually Democratic state might go Republican. Remember, Kennedy's held the seat more than 40 years. If GOP candidate Scott Brown wins, Democrats will lose their filibuster- proof majority in the United States Senate.
All right. We're going to go talk to Rick Sanchez, find out what he's working on for his brand new two-hour show, "RICK'S LIST," which starts today. There he is. The program runs from 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern. I'm on my way over to talk to him. I'll talk to you in a minute.
VELSHI: I guarantee you this is something you've never seen before. The final preparations for "RICK'S LIST," which debuts today with the famous Rick Sanchez. You're almost about to go on.
Rick, congratulations, and we're looking forward to seeing what you're doing today. I've had two conversations in the last hour I want to talk to you about. Anderson Cooper says the people who he's reporting from the streets of Haiti on right now who are stealing candles and food from shops are not desperate. They are doing it because there's money exchanging hands. There's a deal going on there. He didn't say they're not desperate, but he said it's a commercial enterprise.
And I talked to Russel Honore a few minutes ago, who says they're not looters.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: You know, this is a tricky question. We all need to be mindful of this. I spent a lot of time down in Hurricane Andrew...
VELSHI: That's right...
SANCHEZ: ... in what was once called the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States. The former George Bush, the president, gave me an award for the relief effort that through my station down there, WSVN, we were able to start.
So, I know what it's like to go in there. I think what is happening is there's an awful lot of people that need to be mindful whenever you're establishing any kind relief effort, there's a lot of stuff going into it that's not as easy. Sometimes -- we learned this from our parents, didn't we? Put yourself in your neighbor's shoes. What's it like to not have food. What's it like to be going on a third or fourth day? What's it like to be underneath a building that's totally dark?
VELSHI: General Honore was saying if you can't get the food, they're getting it because we can't get the food aid in adequately, anyway. It will take a few days...
SANCHEZ: Look, the question is, should we be questioning a relief effort that's still in its first week...
SANCHEZ: ... when you have people, still to this day, according to reports stuck underneath buildings, that they need to get out. Look, during Hurricane Andrew, Ali, I'll tell you -- we saw the same thing during Katrina, you can't get from point A to point B. You just can't do it. There are pine trees, oak trees, houses, buildings. So, the idea that why don't you guys have all the people fed by now is one that may be a little headstrong at this point.
VELSHI: I hear ya. Are you going to talk about this on your show?
SANCHEZ: I certainly am.
VELSHI: All right. Good luck, my friend. We will all be watching you. Everybody will be watching you. We're going to talk every day?
VELSHI: You come on my show, I'll come on yours.
SANCHEZ: You're doing well, too, buddy.
VELSHI: Rick Sanchez and "RICK'S LIST" every day, every weekday 3:00 to 5:00.
Look, one of the biggest problems, we're talking about aid, rescuing people. One of the issues here is missing people. How are we going to find the loved ones we're looking for? How do people identify those people?
Josh Levs is following that. CNN is trying to help people connect with their loved ones in Haiti. Josh Levs is joining us with that. Is he joining us now or are we going to take a break and come back...? We're going to take a quick break and Josh will explain how this is all going to work out. Stay with us. We're going to do it in just a little while.
VELSHI: Talk about a stealth story. A Senate race that you probably never heard of a week ago is suddenly the key to everything. By everything, I mean President Obama's agenda starting with health care. Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley is the Democrat running for the seat that Ted Kennedy held for years.
Her Republican opponent is a state senator named Scott Brown. If he were to win, he would be the 41st Republican U.S. senator, and that would be huge. Why? Well, 41 Republican senators can't pass anything, but they can filibuster everything.
CNN national political correspondent Jessica Yellin joins us live from Boston with the state of the race and the stakes for the country. Jessica, you have been out talking to people.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I have. Hi, Ali.
And folks in Massachusetts. Why is the race so close? This was a seat held by Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family for decades. The fact that it is in play this close to election day is astonishing to Democrats throughout the state.
And the bottom line is voters in the state are scared and angry about the economy, about their fears over terrorism, about what they perceive as excessive government spending, even about health care reform. Here's just one voter we have talked to who is expressing some of the doubts we heard as we talked to people around the city and state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT OLSON, UNDECIDED VOTER: I still believe along the same belief systems, but a lot of things are giving me pause. Not just -- I believe her stance on the issues are along with mine. I hate to say -- I know it sounds superficial to say I wish she was more likable as a candidate, but there are some things that are turning me off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Ali, what's interesting is that's a person who agrees with the Democrat. Her positions on the issues are similar to his, but he still doesn't like her. This is what the Democrats are facing in this state. A tidal wave of some resistance to this candidate they though just a few weeks ago was to be a shoe-in. Now they could lose the seat to a Republican tomorrow. It would be devastating to Democrats.
VELSHI: All right, Jessica. We're going to stay on top of this. Good to see you. Thanks very much for joining us. Jessica Yellin in Boston.
Little kids forced to lug water through Haiti's slums, and this is months before any earthquake. Child slavery is a fact of life in Haiti. We'll look at how the quake has hit these kids at the top of the hour. It's a story we seldom see. But it must be told.
VELSHI: Well, there's usually nothing more routine than the daily commute home. That's about what time the quake hit last Tuesday as scores of Haitians left work. One of them managed to capture the chaos as he trudged through the broken city. CNN's Ed Lavandera talked to him in south Florida where relatives have taken in his family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot understand...
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The earthquake strikes and Jean Marie Altema is in a car driving home.
(on camera): On your cell phone camera, you started recording video, basically documented your hour-long walk home.
JEAN MARIE ALTEMA, SURVIVED THE EARTHQUAKE: Yes, exactly.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): His wife and one-year-old son were home on the other side of Port-au-Prince. Jean Marie starts recording this video seconds after the shaking ends. The nightmare will quickly unfold before his eyes.
(on camera): At this point you still don't have an understanding of how bad this is.
ALTEMA: No. No. No. Because I wanted to go home.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Emotional cries are the first thing you here in the seconds after the quake.
(on camera): What was she saying?
ALTEMA: She's crying, in Haiti, you say, (INAUDIBLE), my friends in English but it's a cry from the heart. Someone said we are nothing. Nothing. Because around 40 seconds, everything is going away.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The despair, the confusion, the fear is now everywhere. The wounded walk the streets, but then Jean Marie sees the body of a young boy crushed by concrete.
(on camera): At this point is it starting to sink in?
ALTEMA: Yes. Yes. Sink in -- yes. So --
LAVANDERA: Will you ever forget that image?
ALTEMA: No. No. No. That's -- that's the first time that I see something like this.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Jean Marie is now overwhelmed by what he sees.
LAVANDERA (on camera): It's almost like you couldn't believe what you were seeing. ALTEMA: Exactly. I couldn't believe. I couldn't believe. I say to myself, is it a dream. (speaking in a foreign language)
LAVANDERA: What were you saying?
ALTEMA: I was saying, thanks, god. Thanks, god. I said, I could be anywhere. I could be anywhere. I could be somewhere in the market. I could be -- I could be in the -- in the streets. I could be anywhere.
LAVANDERA: What do you think the people around you are thinking at this point?
ALTEMA: The end. The end. The end of the end.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): An hour after he started walking, the journey home is over.
(on camera): How happy were you to be home?
ALTEMA: Oh, I saw my wife with my son, the only one that we have. And I kiss her, and I say, praise god. I say, praise god.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Jean Marie Altema is back in the arms of his family.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Lake Worth, Florida.