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U.S. Troops Arrive to Aid Haiti; Marriage a Better Deal for Men; Japan Airlines Files for Bankruptcy
Aired January 19, 2010 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Boy, seven days after the earthquake, our coverage continues with Ali Velshi.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: It's good to know there are still those stories of rescue going on.
HARRIS: Yes, sir.
VELSHI: And still people who are able to be helped. Thanks, Tony.
Well, the troops have landed. Now what? Getting help to the people in Haiti means getting boots on the ground. And it's week -- one week, as Tony just said, after the quake.
Critical mass, Massachusetts, that is. It's a critical race with a nationwide impact to fill what some people are calling the Kennedy seat in the U.S. Senate. Well, they may not be calling that tomorrow, if things go one way and not the other.
And if you call your wife your better half, it might be because of the salary. The numbers are in, and the tables have turned. Being married pays off, for men.
Right now, a new -- OK.
All right, a new phase of relief operations is under way in Haiti. One week after the Haitian catastrophe, these dramatic pictures of U.S. troops on the ground on the presidential palace, sending an unmistakable signal.
The U.S. troops to get two more airports up and running in the next two days. In the meantime, they're relying on air drops like -- like this one you're seeing on the screen: 15,000 liters of water, 15,000 meals.
And Haitians who can are still leaving Port-au-Prince. They involve 53 children, orphans who were on the verge of being adopted before the quake hit. They arrived this morning in Pittsburgh.
Well, until today, U.S. troops were largely unseen outside the Port-au-Prince airport. Now, some 11,000 soldiers and Marines are on the ground or just offshore. And they're determined to get food and vital equipment in and badly injured people out. Here's the layout of the Haitian capital. The Champs Del Mar is the site of the presidential palace, which like so much else in this sprawling city, is in ruins.
CNN's Karl Penhaul is watching the comings and goings -- Karl.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ali, we saw that very dramatic arrival of the paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division this morning. They flew onto the lawn of the destroyed presidential palace in eight or nine helicopters.
Shortly after that, they marched through four city blocks, around to where we are now, the general hospital, which is the largest government-run hospital here in Haiti. Now, what they have done since arrival is deploy around the perimeter and set up security.
Talking to some of the Haitians, a lot of Haitians, curious Haitians turned out to watch the arrival of the Americans. Some asking why they were coming. There seemed to be a mixed bag of attitudes there. Some were saying the last thing Haiti needs right now is more people with guns arriving here. They said that what Haiti needs right now is people here with aid, with food, with water, with medicine.
On the other hand, some other Haitians were saying, this is fine. There's been so much uncoordination in the relief effort so far, that maybe the Americans will be able to get this shattered state back together.
Here at the general hospital, as I say, doctors say that they haven't had a security problem until now. The issue here, and as you can see, Ali, the issue here is one of supplies. It's one of logistics.
You can see that lady being carried away on a stretcher. She is one of the lucky ones. She's already had treatment. She's already had surgery in the surgery back up there in the operating theater. But there is simply nowhere to put them after that. In fact, the wards, the hospital wards, are the pathways to the hospital here outside. They're simply shuttled outside in their hospital beds to wait here under the hot sun.
And, again, talking to some of the doctors here -- now they're a mixture of aid groups. There are some American aid groups here. There are some other international aid groups here. And some of the doctors that I've talked to do question somewhat why they're sending American soldiers to provide security at this hospital when they say that for the last week they haven't had a security problem here. And they say that how can the Americans get in nine helicopters full of soldiers when what is most needed here, right now, are IV fluids, antibiotics, water, and food for the patients?
I just heard an argument between one doctor and another saying, "Why am I going to put a patient out here? Why am I even going to treat him, if after I've treated him, then he's going to die of infection or of hunger outside on the pathway?" So, for some doctors, at least, a little bit of confusion as to why the U.S. response is being led by the military right now, instead of sending in vital humanitarian supplies.
But, again, talking to the general, General Keene (ph), who's in charge of this detachment of 82nd Airborne that came in, he said the plan is to lay down security, and then behind that security bring in other vital elements, such as power, to get this hospital running. That's certainly what the doctors are hoping for right now, Ali.
VELSHI: Karl, let me ask you a question. We're going to be speaking to a retired army general in just a moment. But we do know that Haiti doesn't have a standing military. It's got a -- it's got a national police force.
Based on what you've seen -- we just saw something from Chris Lawrence where people were being shuttled on his truck back and forth between hospitals. We obviously had Anderson Cooper's live reporting yesterday during what was becoming -- coming close to a riot of looting. Is it your sense that -- that more security is not needed in Haiti?
In other words, what these doctors are saying, use that transport and those facilities to bring more medicine and food in, as opposed to troops? Is it your sense that the place is under control from a security perspective?
PENHAUL: Talking to a doctor who has been here at this hospital operating for the last week, he said, neither in the day nor at night, at this hospital, is there a security problem.
Yes, you're right: over the last two or three days we have seen instances of looting, but we can't over-exaggerate that point. These are isolated incidents of looting in the commercial districts, where people are gaining access to warehouses that were largely destroyed anyway by the earthquake.
I've been in Haiti before with natural disasters, principally floods, and the food rioting and the looting has been much worse than I have seen in Port-au-Prince this time. There are still incidents, but we can still characterize that as isolated incidents, and if we listen to the doctors here and other humanitarian aid organizations, they say they need aid first, security second, Ali.
VELSHI: OK. This is a very interesting point. Karl Penhaul, thank you for that, because this is something we need to understand a little bit better.
We are at the one-week today after this hurricane -- after this earthquake, I'm sorry, but all along we've been hearing criticism and second-guessing of the relief effort.
Lieutenant General Gus Pagonis was the Army point's man on logistics during the first Gulf War. And logistics seems to be the issue here. He joins us now for a chat about who's in charge in Haiti and how they're doing. Thank you for joining us. Let's talk about this for a second. We know that they have really ramped up the number of flights coming into Port-au-Prince airport. We know that they're trying to get more airports up and running at this point. So materials and troops and other workers are getting into Haiti. The question is, the breakdown as soon as they're in Haiti, as to how they get to where they're supposed to be and how they get them to the people that need them most.
General Pagonis, give me your sense of how things are going right now.
LT. GEN. GUS PAGONIS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, first of all, soldiers are self-contained. They come in. They can take care of themselves, so you don't have to worry about supporting them. So, I think it was the right move to bring in the military aspect.
As far as security, you've got to have to have some security set up, because if things get bad, then it's too late. And I think they're just being prudent. And those same soldiers will be also the ones who are going to set up the generators and those kind of things that that hospital needs or anything else that's going on.
So I think you're going to see massive improvements this week as the military comes in there and sets up their operations center and coordinating all the supplies, storing them and moving them where they're needed.
VELSHI: OK, Lieutenant General, we need to understand a little bit more about the logistics: how things get from where they are to the people who need them. You have been in this sort of situation before.
Stay with us. We're going to get back to you in exactly three minutes, and you'll walk us through it. General Pagonis will be with us in just a couple minutes.
VELSHI: The quake happened a week ago. Let's get back to our conversation on how the relief effort is going. We are looking at logistics and leadership with Lieutenant General Gus Pagonis. He's a retired three-star general who oversaw logistics for Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Good to have you with us, Lieutenant General. Let's talk about this a little bit. We -- there are two issues. One was, initially after the earthquake, we couldn't get planes into that airport. Planes are now coming in with supplies, with troops, with medical personnel. Then they get into Port-au-Prince, and we know there are bottlenecks. We know there are major arteries that are strewn with broken buildings. There are problems getting aid and help to the people who need them.
Tell me, if in your opinion, it is being dealt with as quickly and effectively as you would imagine it should be? PAGONIS: Well, actually, you know, goods are coming in from all over the world. And they are off-loading them. I'm sure if your cameras could get out there, you will find that there are troops inventorying that -- those goods and deciding how far forward they can push them into the disaster area. You have to guard them. Then you distribute it.
All that's going on, and it's very, very difficult because the port has been inundated. There's only, I think, one or two places where they can off-load ships, and that's how you can really get the supplies in is by ship.
VELSHI: Right. We saw -- we saw pictures of -- we've seen video of a port being utterly destroyed, harder to get in. And you're saying that people -- countries are putting their goods, in many cases, on ship, and they've got a backlog of getting it unloaded in Haiti.
PAGONIS: Right. And then you've got to make sure you know what's on those ships, so you off-load the right ships at the right time. And then, once the stuff's on the ground, you have to be able to warehouse it. You have to inventory it so you get the right supplies to the right people. What they need are medical supplies, food and water, and engineering equipment to start clearing away stuff and generators to get things up and running.
I am positive there's an operations center right now set there by the military of the U.S. And they are doing the coordination and doing the best they can to get the right stuff to the right people. There will be disconnects. I mean, that's going to happen. This is a master -- massive, massive disaster, and it will be worked on. And these -- these young soldiers will work day and night to make things happen.
VELSHI: One of the issues General Honore brought up yesterday, if that if this were an absolute military operation, it might be going more smoothly, but in this case the military's taking instructions from USAID, and that might be slowing things down. Do you share that view?
PAGONIS: Well, I personally think the military should be part of the homeland security for any kind of disaster relief, but I'm in the minority.
Clearly, we need to support the civilian leadership, but the military's trained to do this. This is -- and the other thing is, when the military goes into an operation, they're self-contained. And -- but I think the civilians should be in charge, with the military doing the execution, and I think that's what they're going to get around to.
VELSHI: Lieutenant General Gus Pagonis, thanks very much for joining us and giving us some sense of what's going on, on the ground, in terms of coordination of those relief efforts.
Now, from coordination to compassion, CNN viewers across the country and around the world have been digging into their pockets. This is phenomenal.
Last night Larry King hosted a special telethon, "Haiti: How You Can Help." Let me tell you, you really, really helped. More than $7 million in donations came in. Celebrities helped man the phones, and they performed.
If you're thinking about donating your time and/or your money, head to "Impact Your World." That's the page that you can go to. All the info at CNN.com/Impact.
Now, remember this, check first. A lot of people want to help out. Sometimes your money is more helpful. We've heard about the logistics problem. Sometimes it's not as effective for you to go in and do something yourself, but you may have a special skill that is particularly useful. So go to "Impact Your World."
But thank you to all of you out there who responded last night, donating more than $7 million for -- for relief in Haiti.
All right. When we come back, we're going to talk to my friend Christine Romans. Christine knows how to dig into the numbers, and she did some digging and found out something very interesting. And that is that marriage pays off, if you're a man. I'll tell you about this when we come back.
And on this day in 1861, for those of you who were around, Georgia bid the union a not-so-fond farewell, becoming the fourth state to secede over what it called the subject of African slavery.
VELSHI: All right. A surprising new trend in today's economy, or maybe not that surprising for you women out there. More men appear to be getting a boost from the institution of marriage, a boost to their financial situation.
Joining me now to talk about marriage and your money is my good friend and fellow anchor on our weekend show, Christine Romans. Christine is saying that more men now get a better deal when it comes to marriage.
And, Christine, you're -- only you would find this stuff out. But you're saying it's better to be a guy if you're getting married right now. Why?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's me and the Pew Research Center and the Census Bureau. Altogether, the number crunchers and the demographers have been working on this. It's a trend that's been going on for about 40 years, Ali. They're calling it the rise of the wives.
And what it means is that women over the past 30 or 40 years have been making stronger income gains...
ROMANS: ... and education gains than their husbands.
Take a look at this. In 1970, 4 percent of wives earned more than their hubby. In 2007, 22 percent of wives earned more than husbands. That's a pretty dramatic gain. One of the reasons here, I'm sure you can guess, it's because women have been getting a better education.
ROMANS: And more women are getting an education. Right now, Ali, 54 percent of college diplomas are going to women.
ROMANS: Take a look at what that makes the American couple look like. Right now, you have 53 percent of couples have exactly the same. I'm looking at the 2007 there...
VELSHI: The same education as they did in 1970, right.
ROMANS: Right. Twenty-eight percent...
ROMANS: ... of women are more educated or better educated than their husbands, 19 percent of husbands. Just look at those two pie charts, and you can compare them.
ROMANS: And you can see that the wife has gained education, where correspondingly, the husband has lost education.
VELSHI: OK. So there are a couple of things here. One is, in many jobs women have not achieved parity in their pay.
VELSHI: So they're still doing the same job for less money.
VELSHI: But the workplace has changed insofar as women can now have children and not have to make the choice necessarily of staying at home versus working. More women are doing both.
ROMANS: Yes. And we hope that the Great Recession doesn't take that ability away from them.
ROMANS: Because there are a lot of women, and you and I have both talked to researchers who have said they're a little concerned that women might be afraid of stepping out of the workforce to have a baby or to raise a child in the early years, because it's so much harder to get -- to get back in. But you're right about the parity, Ali. Women still make about 78 cents to the man's dollar.
ROMANS: But compare that to 1970. They made about 52 cents to the man's dollar, so progress but they're not there yet.
VELSHI: And there's another thing we need to think about, in that this recession has been called a man-session...
VELSHI: ... because men have been in construction and manufacturing jobs. Women have been making gains in education and health care, which are women-dominated jobs.
VELSHI: In fact, sometime at the end of last year, it's speculated that women became more than half the workforce in the United States for the first time.
ROMANS: That's absolutely right. And when you talk about that man-cession, or some people call it the he-cession, this Pew report found that in 2008, 75 percent of the jobs lost were held by men in prime working age. Think of that.
ROMANS: I mean, that just shows you how men really took it on the chin...
ROMANS: ... in terms of the Great Recession. And those -- many of those jobs were well-paid manufacturing, construction, housing jobs. It will be difficult and will take a while to replace those jobs for men or for women.
VELSHI: I want to tell you something, because you're a number cruncher.
VELSHI: I just said a few moments ago I was so -- I mean, really, I was touched to find out how much money was raised on the "LARRY KING" show last night.
VELSHI: And I was saying it was over $7 million. And moments after I finished that, we got the latest update now. The total amount raised by that telethon last night: $8,946,956.
ROMANS: Wow. VELSHI: I think numbers might still be coming in. But close to -- well, these are final numbers, as they're calling them. Close to $9 million raised by people who are reaching out. I mean, you reported on this yesterday, Christine.
VELSHI: People really are getting better about being able to get that money out there, and they really are doing it.
ROMANS: And you're absolutely right. Now we're well over $210 million, Ali. So that, at a time with 10 percent unemployment, that shows you that Americans are generous even in tough times.
VELSHI: Yes. Yes, excellent. Christine, thanks so much.
VELSHI: Christine Romans. You can watch us on "YOUR MONEY" every Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern and Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Well, it's an election-day cliffhanger in Massachusetts. Democrats could lose a must-win Senate seat, possibly putting President Obama's entire domestic agenda in jeopardy. That includes the health-care overhaul.
Now, a win for the Republican on the left, Scott Brown, would break up the Dems' filibuster-proof majority, so the president spent the weekend campaigning for the Democrat on the right of your screen, Martha Coakley, to take over Ted Kennedy's seat.
And the Texas Rangers are reportedly on the verge of getting a new owner, but it is a familiar face. "The Dallas Morning News" says ex-pitcher Nolan Ryan -- there he is -- and his group are close to an agreement to acquire the team. Ryan is currently the team president. Still no timetable to seal the deal.
Fasten your seat belts. There's financial turbulence for Asia's biggest airline, and that is going to affect a whole lot of you.
VELSHI: Japan Airlines filed for bankruptcy today, but the airline says it will keep on flying. JAL is in such bad shape the entire company is about worth the price of one plane. The restructuring will cut thousands of jobs and planes.
Kyung Lah caught a very lonely flight.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Japan Airlines Flight 1381 takes off from Tokyo with a lot of -- nobody. Empty seat after empty seat. It is a lonely flight for this reporter.
(on camera) It's an experience.
(voice-over) Most of the passengers are seated toward the front of this plane that seats about 160, but a majority of the seats are empty.
(on camera) There's one guy.
(voice-over) Our destination, a small town in western Japan called Shirahama. Shirahama is near a world heritage site, a beautiful, but remote and sparsely populated area of Japan. Japan Airlines flies two flights in and out of this small airport twice a day.
Figures from Japan Airlines show that for last November, on average, the Tokyo-Shirahama flights were more than half empty. And the airline says it's been this way for at least the past few months.
After a brief fuel-up...
(on camera) Empty.
(voice-over) The problem for Japan Airlines isn't that this plane is so empty. It's that so many of its domestic flights all over Japan are flying with so many empty seats.
According to Japan Airlines, 65 percent of all of its domestic flights took off in November with 40 percent of the seats empty. Analysts say those flights lost money.
This is a symbol of what's led the airline into its current financial state, says aviation specialist Kotaro Toriumi. The carrier, which has suffered from the global economic downturn and a drop in air travel, has been slow to alter its business model and adapt to the changing economy. Toriumi also says it's not entirely the fault of Japan Airlines.
"Japan Airlines couldn't cut the unprofitable routes because of political pressure," says Toriumi. "Local governments wanted to sustain routes in airports, traditionally seen as a source of vital transportation and income into its community."
"We'd be cut off if this route didn't exist," says this woman, who just flew in from Shirahama.
Japan Airlines would not speak to CNN on camera, citing its upcoming bankruptcy proceedings, but said in a statement that profitability of a route "is not determined by passenger capacity alone," and the profitability varies from route to route.
But the airline says that it's suspending 20 unprofitable domestic routes and progressively switching to smaller aircraft, both domestically and internationally.
Bankruptcy will give Japan Airlines a somewhat fresh start. Analysts say it needs to learn from what's failed in order to fly high in the future. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.
VELSHI: It's election day in Massachusetts. CNN political editor Mark Preston is going to come back and tell us, after this break, why it is such a big deal, no matter where you live in this country.
VELSHI: They're voting today in Massachusetts. The future of President Obama's health care plan, amongst other plans, could be in the balance. Democrats are trying desperately to hold on to the seat that belonged to Senator Ted Kennedy for 46 years. Their candidate, Martha Coakley, has been slipping in the polls. Republican Scott Brown, her opponent, opposes the Obama health care plan. A win for him could give the GOP enough votes to block it, or at least severely slow it down.
CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian is part of our team in Massachusetts. He's in Medford, Massachusetts.
Dan, what's the latest?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, in terms of the turnout, you know, there are watchers of this race have been saying that if you see a heavy voter turnout, that this could favor Republicans.
The latest we have gotten from the Secretary of State's office is that he expects the turnout to be pretty good. They don't think that this weather that we've been having will be a factor. We had quite a bit of snow earlier today. Now that snow has turned over to rain. And he's saying that -- at least his spokesman's saying that he thinks that folks here are pretty tough and can work through this, so it won't be a factor at all.
But you point out that this is certainly a significant race here, because Scott Brown, the Republican, just a few weeks ago outside of Massachusetts was a virtual unknown. Martha Coakley, the Democrat, the Attorney General here, was expected to essentially run away with this race. But a lot of things started changes.
First of all, there are Democrats here in this state who say that she was not very aggressive in running her campaign, was lackluster. Scott Brown, on the other hand, did not miss an opportunity to go out and shake hands. But he also tapped into something -- anger and frustration at the national government. That the White House, believing the administration is pushing through a lot of things that people do not like. It's also during a climate where a lot of people have lost their jobs, have lost their homes and Scott brown sort of taps into all that anger and frustration. He also ran against health care reform, at least the Obama administration is putting it forth (ph), and we've heard some of that from folks showing up here to vote today. Some of them are Democrats, but planning to vote for a Republican.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was a nasty campaign on Coakley's part. And I also felt that he is for a change in the health system. It's not that he is against it. He wants to send it back, and he wants to revise it, make it better than it is. And I don't like neither party to have control of the Senate or filibuster or what. That stops negotiations. And it doesn't make it a bipartisan bill. This way, I think in essence, it will force us to go back and do it in a more bipartisan way.
LOTHIAN: Of course, if Martha Coakley does lose, then that is the 60th vote that Democrats will lose. And it will impact President Obama's agenda. As for a plan B? The White House saying they don't have a plan B at this time. They're focused on Martha Coakley winning this race -- Ali.
VELSHI: So Dan, does this discussion -- the fact of it -- which is they can filibuster-proof majority that the Democrats have by voting in the Republican, does that have an unusual impact and coverage of it in the media on people as you're talking to them?
In other words, do they go to the polls thinking that they could be changing the course of history in this country, or are they going to the polls to elect who they want to have represent them in the Senate?
LOTHIAN: Well, I think on both of those cases is what you'll find here. Those showing up here today telling us obviously we want to elect the person who will go to Washington, to represent us.
Having said that, the folks that we talked to, and it's not scientific, but certainly the folks that we've talked to who have showed up here to vote today say that that is in the back of their minds. I mean, a lot of them are not happy with what they've seen the way health care reform has been pushed forward. They don't think that it will be cost effective, that their taxes will go up, that they won't get the coverage that they need.
And so, yes. In some ways they're voting against health care reform as the President and Democrats have been pushing it forward. Scott Brown has been saying, if he's elected, he will not vote for health care reform. He says, I believe that we should have good health care, but I think this needs to be scrapped and we need to go back to the drawing board.
VELSHI: And that's a whole another question -- what's going to happen to health care thing if he gets elected. But that's a big if. We've got an election to go through until then.
LOTHIAN: That's right.
VELSHI: Thank you for joining us on this one.
I want to talk about what the numbers are showing right now, what those trends are showing. Let's just quickly bring in Mark Preston. He'll talk to us in greater detail. But, Mark, give us the headline. Mark is CNN's political editor. Give us the headline of the trend here.
Is the trend in the polling favoring the Republican over the Democrat in Massachusetts right now?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Let me give you two trend lines very quickly. Yes. Right now, it is leaning towards Scott Brown this election day. These are polls that we've seen over the past couple weeks. This election came out of no where, Ali, and also Independent voters. A big problem right now for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, potentially a big problem for Democrats going into the midterm elections.
VELSHI: All right. Stay there. We're going to take a break. When we some back, Mark's going to break it down because it's not a Massachusetts election for those of you who live in the rest of the country. This is an election that could have an impact on everything that this administration wants to do, including health care. This could actually affect the outcome of health care. Stay with us. We're back with Mark Preston in just a moment.
VELSHI: All right. Just before the break I was talking with CNN political editor Mark Preston about today's Senate election in Massachusetts. A lot more to say, so I've asked mark to come back.
Mark, we've discussed the political implications of the Democrat losing that seat, Ted Kennedy's old seat, 46 years with Ted Kennedy in it, to the Republicans. That means the Republicans have 41 members of the Senate. That means that they can filibuster things. That means they can hold things back.
Where are those polls going? Give us a little more detail on what's likely to happen tonight.
PRESTON: Sure. And let me just tell you, back on Christmas Day, this race was not even on the radar, Ali. Nobody thought Scott Brown, this little-known state senator, the Republican nominee, had any shot of defeating Martha Coakley. However, we saw things change in those weeks.
Scott Brown got out. His "every-man's" message really started to resonate in Massachusetts. He started to pick up traction and there was some criticism now that Martha Coakley was not strong enough on the campaign trail to sell her message. So we've seen things quickly turn. Scott Brown is now -- some would say, has an edge if you were to look at some of the public polling.
But, look, it is really does come down to what happens tonight, to the "Get Out the Vote" effort. We know that President Obama was brought in just for that reason on Sunday, to try to get the Democratic ticket energized in Massachusetts.
VELSHI: Are we too close to tell right now statistically when you look at the polls?
PRESTON: Yes, I mean, look. At this point it is a toss-up. I think that anyone that comes out and declaratively says that Scott Brown or Martha Coakley is going to win, you know, they've got a crystal ball that I would love to get my hands on. The fact though it is up in the air. We've never seen anything like this, certainly not in Massachusetts -- Ali.
VELSHI: If you look at the bottom right of your screen, you'll see the Dow is up almost 100 points. Susan Lisovicz e-mailed me a little while ago to say she's talking to traders, many of whom think the bump in the stock market is because there's some thought that the Republican Scott Brown could win and, hence, change the course of health care and other agenda items for the administration.
Is that likely? If he were to win.
PRESTON: I mean, look. I mean, Ali, let's just look at the last couple of days, right, where Scott Brown has been. We have focused a lot on the economy. The fact is, he's (INAUDIBLE) the 41st vote, the one who could stop health care as it is now created by Senate and House Democrats. But it is very much about the economy.
Scott Brown was traveling to towns such as Holyoke, and West Springfield, and Worcester. He even went to Cape Cod, Hyannis, Ted Kennedy's backyard to campaign in these areas. These are cities that are economically depressed in Massachusetts. It's very much about the economy. People are very worried.
If you look at the national polls, our own CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that people are slipping in their confidence on domestic issues for President Obama. So expect tomorrow, if Scott Brown pulls this off tonight, again, if he pulls it off tonight, Ali, that they are going hammer home that this is a referendum on President Obama's agenda.
VELSHI: And, of course, this is what it's going to come down to no matter what happens. It's going to be about whether people were choosing their representation for Massachusetts, or they were voting in a national referendum and making this one of the most important Senate elections in history.
PRESTON: Yes, absolutely. Look, you know, a friend of mine said this earlier, the fact is this could be the most important race of 2010. We're not even into the November midterms -- Ali.
VELSHI: Mark, when I go back to Canada for a few days and I come back to the United States, people always tell me that it sounds like I've been in Canada. The accent changes a little bit.
When you cover Massachusetts stories, does that happen to you?
PRESTON: Can you hear it? Of course. You know, I was born and bred in Arlington and I'm very proud to see that we're actually seeing Republicans and Democrats and Independents out there voting today, right? You know, doing their due diligence. VELSHI: Well, you know, Dan was talking about the snow stopping people. I was thinking, you're tough folk up there. The snow is not going to stop you from voting.
PRESTON: No, absolutely not. And, look, if you look at the streets. The streets are cleared. It's a little bit cold, but the fact is, you know, the weather has not dampened the turnout.
PRESTON: Now I spoke to a Democrat, Ali, just very quickly. He said that high turnout they hope can favor them at this point. Maybe she can pull it out. So Democrats are still very much worried.
VELSHI: All right. Mark Preston, thanks very much. The polls in Massachusetts close at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Join CNN tonight for the vote count as it comes in. Obviously our entire team will be on that story.
We're taking a break now. We'll be right back.
VELSHI: Well, a bit of relief in quake-ravaged Haiti. Survivors jammed the fence of the presidential palace and cheer as scores of U.S. paratroopers land on the palace grounds.
Some Haitians welcomed the troops, hoping they'll stem outbreaks of looting and violence. Others say what's needed is not more troops, but more food and water and medical supplies. Relief supplies may be slow in coming, but they are on their way. An Air Force cargo plane dropped about 55,000 pounds of food and bottled water into Haiti yesterday.
A lot of you may be wondering just where the aid is going. Four food distribution points have been set up by the U.N. World Food Programme in Port-au-Prince. You can see those locations on the map. The U.N. says all four should be up and running in the coming days.
Now, folks trying to help out in Haiti have hit all kinds of roadblocks. Some literal, some avoidable, some not. Former Ambassador to Haiti, William Jones, he's a former U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Williams Jones joins us now for some perspective.
Thanks for joining us, sir.
One of the interesting points you bring up is that Haiti dismantled its armed forces, it dismantled its army. It has a national police force. And you're saying that in hindsight might be making things a little more difficult for aid to get around.
Explain that to me, sir.
WILLIAM JONES, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO HAITI: Yes, during the last political crisis there was pressure brought to bear against the Haitian government to disband the army because throughout history the army had played a negative roll from time to time in coup d'etats, changes of government.
I think this was a mistake because whenever you have a natural disaster such as this, the first thing we do is to call out the national guard. Well, there is no national guard in Haiti. There is no army. There is no force that can be deployed throughout Port-au- Prince to bring order. And without order it would be very, very difficult to coordinate the aid program.
VELSHI: Is the police force, is the national police force, sufficient to maintain order in a place like Haiti?
Is there enough infrastructure for them, and do they have enough might to keep things calm on the streets?
JONES: They are totally ineffective. The national police force is very small. It is poorly trained. I'm sure that many of them were killed. I'm sure that many of them have had family members who have been killed. So this will distract them. So you really need a coordinated force under some sort of central command in order to take charge of distribution and a maintenance of the aid program.
VELSHI: And that has come under some criticism. And we don't really know enough to know whether it's being handled well or not. Here's what we have a handle on: That we've been able to get more flights into Haiti, very frequent flights. People, material supplies, water, troops, all of that is making it in to Haiti. There seems to be some issue with how it's getting to the people who need it.
In your opinion, is that being handled as effectively as it can be?
JONES: It's probably being handled as effectively as it can be under the circumstances. What they need to do in my view is to have a coordinated mechanism. Now that may be in charge of the United States or in charge of the united nations. I would prefer the United Nation nations.
However, there must be coordination. People must talk to each other, communications in Haiti and particularly in Port-au-Prince now, are virtually nonexistent. So this is going to be very difficult. There's going to be chaos for some time. But this is what they must move toward as a coordinated, well-thought-out, well-planned effort so that everyone can work together for the benefit of those who need help.
VELSHI: You draw a comparison to San Francisco in 1906. And you were saying the United States in 1906, had more infrastructure and was more advanced than Haiti is in 2010?
JONES: That is correct. In 1906, which was an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in San Francisco, we were far ahead of what Haiti is now. We had a national guard. We had a national militia. There was a well-trained police force in San Francisco. But there is a parallel. There was chaos there for many days, and there will certainly be chaos in Port-au-Prince. Port-au-Prince is way worse off than we have ever been.
VELSHI: Former Ambassador William Jones, former ambassador to Haiti from the United States.
Thanks for joining us.
JONES: Thank you very much.
VELSHI: Well, speaking of San Francisco, there's more wet weather on the way. Californians brace for another wave of driving rain. They didn't even have time to dry out from the last one. We'll have that when we come back.
VELSHI: All right. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane takes nerves of steel. But leaping out of a plane and aiming for a gigantic hole in a jagged rock in New Zealand.
Take a look at this. That either takes a lot of guts or no brains. Well, look at this. Jumping out of an airplane, aiming for a rock with a hole in it. Think about threading a needle except it's got you and a parachute. Look at that.
Look at that. You can see it. There's a camera here. I have to say there is nothing about this attracts me. We're seeing it through his eyes. A Hungarian skydiver took that risk. He's attempting to fly through the famous gaps of New Zealand's hole in the rock.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEROLOGIST: He didn't make it.
VELSHI: He got it. He hit some water, but he didn't hit the wall.
VELSHI: Bull's eye. So he hits that mark but he did hit the water.
All right. We're going to take a break. We're going to come back and continue on with what we're doing. Stay with us.
VELSHI: In the aftermath of the Fort Hood massacre, an urgent call for tougher screening of Military doctors. The "Washington Post" sites a Defense Department independent review which urges the Pentagon to update outdated procedures. Procedures, the report says, fails to include signs of potentially violent behavior. One possible example, the accused Fort Hood shooter. A former patient of his says he was convinced that Nidal Hasan was a terrorist.
Drew Griffin, of CNN's Special Investigative Unit has this exclusive report.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE UNIT (voice-over): He was watching CNN that day. WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Nidal Malik Hasan a Major in the United States Army --
GRIFFIN: And was stunned when he saw the photo of the suspect. The suspect who was also his doctor.
(on camera): When you first saw the shooting at Fort Hood, before we knew anything, what was your reaction?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) terrorist. Like nothing else went through my mind. That was the first thing that came to my mind.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was the also the first thing that came into his mind, he says, when he first met Hasan in May of 2007.
(on camera): You mentioned over the phone that you thought this guy could be a terrorist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really did. I don't know why I thought that, but I did.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The former medic who does not want to reveal his identity says he was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in May of 2007, for a shoulder injury and psychiatric treatment for depression and severe anxiety. The psychiatrist assigned was Major Nidal Hasan, who the medic says rarely showed up for appointments, and when he did, seemed to care little for the soldier he was assigned to help.
(on camera): You said he seemed disinterested, did he seem odd?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely seemed odd. Just like if you look at the pictures that have been done of him when he went into that grocery store, he had a big smile on his case. You never saw that smile when he was a doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very harsh stare. Fire-burning eyes, as though he was disconnected completely from the patient. It was like nobody was there.
GRIFFIN: Like he was staring past you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
GRIFFIN: That can't be very comforting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it was not comforting at all.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): According to the Defense Department report, this patient's view of Hasan is similar to others, one of many warning signs that he was incompetent as a psychiatrist.
(on camera): In a 12-year Military career, Hasan repeatedly scored below average academically, had a poor attendance record and needed close monitoring in emergency rooms. In 2007, he even questioned why Muslim soldiers should be involved in fighting other Muslims, suggesting that Sharia Muslim law trumped the U.S Constitution.
(voice-over): Despite all warning signs, in 2009, Hasan was given another recommendation to be promoted and he was sent to Fort Hood, Texas. According to the former patient of Hasan, the Army not only promoted an incompetent psychiatrist, but also allowed that incompetent physician to care for sick soldiers like him.
(on camera): You feel at the time he was at Walter Reed, he was not doing the job that he was assigned to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was not. There was no patient-doctor relationship there. You might as well be talking to a wall by yourself.
VELSHI: And Drew Griffin joins me now.
Drew, it looks like there are two very distinct issues here. And you're good at sniffing this out. One is whether Nidal Hasan was not competent or was not doing his job properly. And the other one, which seemed a little bit more odd is the assertion that this guy just had sort of a sick sense, that he was a terrorist.
Two different things. Are they overlapping things?
GRIFFIN: I think they are overlapping things. And when you look at the Department of Defense's review looked at, which is the quality of care issue here, there were warning signs.
Ali, why is this guy treating anybody, and let alone a U.S. Army soldier who's in need of psychiatric help? The guy was apparently a pretty bad doctor, not showing up for appointments. There was warning sigs being missed there, in terms of violent behavior in talking about Muslim law that should have sparked some kind of probe. But keep in mind, all of this is happening before they even know that he is communicating with a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen.
VELSHI: There is some sense that that's going to be dealt with or systems are going to be changed in the Department of Defense?
GRIFFIN: It's all a continuing theme we see in what we'll call this -- a terrorist -- I'm going to call it a terrorist event. It's missing the links, missing the points, not connecting the dots.
And here we have -- and critics -- a congressman out of Texas saying, look, we're promoting this guy, there's probably a political correctness issue involved here. We're just basically promoting an incompetent person up the ladder to get rid of him.
VELSHI: All right, Drew. Thanks very much.
Drew Griffin of the Special Investigations Unit.