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July 12th, 2010
01:40 PM ET

A Haitian orphan, adapting to her new life in America

Justine Redman
AC360° Producer

Program Note: Six months after the earthquake in Haiti, are things any better? Anderson Cooper will be reporting live from Haiti tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET

Jenna was an orphan, one of Haiti's thousands. She lived in an orphanage on a hillside on the outskirts of Port au Prince. Her mother was still alive, but she gave her baby away, keeping only Jenna's older sister.

Elizabeth was a single woman, caucasian, living beneath the mountainsides on the outskirts of Denver. She had a Phd in child development. She went to Haiti, met Jenna, and decided to adopt her. Then Elizabeth went home, and started the process, filing all the papers, making the applications.

But then the earthquake struck. Elizabeth didn't know what happened to Jenna. The phones didn't work, nobody could make a call to put a prospective mother's mind at rest.

Two days later, CNN  stumbled on Jenna's orphanage. Our camera captured Jenna, Elizabeth saw the report on TV and could see for herself: Jenna was safe. The orphanage was a strong house, made of stone. An outside roof collapsed, but the children weren't hurt.  Nonetheless their caretakers took them outside and camped with them on the driveway, scared of what the aftershocks might bring.

Very soon, Jenna was on a military plane to America. The expediting of her adoption was the silver lining of Haiti's tragedy.

Six months later, Jenna is an energetic, friendly, and bright little girl, going to pre-school and living a comfortable, privileged life with her adoptive mother in Colorado. She wears pretty dresses, and likes to talk authoritatively on her toy mobile phone. But alongside this happiness, this is also the time when Jenna's pain begins to unmask itself. She's starting to have tantrums so vicious that they scare her mother. Elizabeth says  the process of figuring out how trauma affects a two year old has been challenging.

"That's proving to be harder than I expected," Elizabeth says on a hot summer's day in the playground. "When you're two and you can't verbalize it, you don't know how it's affecting her. But she's starting to hit a lot and get angry a lot at little things. What we've heard from other [adoptive] families is that a lot of the kids, six months later, are starting to act out and kind of in their own way say, 'I gotta tell you this terrible thing that happened to me while I was in Haiti, and I'm ready to tell you that because I trust you now."

But while the world is focused on the horrors of Haiti's earthquake, for young children like Jenna, the trauma they have experienced in their short lives runs deeper than the fault lines. The quake may actually be the least of her worries.The reality is that Jenna wasn't hurt by the quake, she didn't experience the fear of having a building collapse around her. We don't know how much she noticed of the moments in which the city crumbled.  But we do know that she was a baby separated from her mother. We know she was put in an orphanage that was better than most on Haiti, but which could never duplicate a parent's love. And we know that she went in a flash from the poorest nation in the hemisphere to the richest, and found herself suddenly in a world she never knew existed.

That's a lot of trauma packed into two years.

"Two weeks ago  she had a temper tantrum which was kind of like the second night she was here, where she was just flailing like a fish, and just...out of body. She had been kind of hitting me, I was trying to understand what she needed," Elizabeth recalls as an affectionate Jenna climbs onto her mother's lap. "Even her eyes go blank, and you can't even hold her. We just put her on the ground until she started to cry and reach for us, and then we held her and protected her and let her know she was safe. It's happened a couple of times, and both those times it was really scary. I have PhD in child development, and I'm proud to say, I'm not prepared to help her. I love her, and we're going to be great, but it's unchartered territory."

Jenna climbs back down off Elizabeth's knees, and runs to play on the swings. She's smiling and happy, and could be any toddler going through their "terrible two's." Her tantrums, Elizabeth says, are only a fraction of who her daughter is.

"The rest of her day, as you see, she's amazing. She makes people fall in love with her wherever she goes.... She has made my life so much richer... It's like she's always been here."    


Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Haiti Earthquake • Justine Redman
May 6th, 2010
05:26 PM ET

Reporter's Notebook: Nashville Rising

Justine Redman
AC360° Producer

Most of us have wondered which of our things we would rescue from our homes in an emergency. Jewelery? Documents? A lot of people say they'd grab their photo albums.

Today, hundreds of people in Nashville went home for the first time.

Today, hundreds of people in Nashville went home for the first time.

As Gary Tuchman and I toured a badly-hit area of Nashville today with a search and rescue team, one particular sight brought home the astonishing speed with which the flood waters gushed into this region: we saw a couple crouched in their driveway, laying out photos to dry. They hadn't even had time to save them when they evacuated, but it looked like the photos were one of the first things they came back for.

You actually have to hunt really hard to find any flood water in Nashville today. When the water came, it came fast – rushing in to 12 feet above the normal level – but when it left, it went pretty quickly too. If you find a patch, watch it for an hour you can see the level drop.

FULL POST


Filed under: Justine Redman • Weather
May 4th, 2010
04:50 PM ET

Reporter's Notebook: Oil reaches islands

Justine Redman
AC360° Producer

Editor's Note: Watch Gary Tuchman's full report tonight on AC360° at 10pm eastern

Gary Tuchman, photographer Phil Littleton and I are on our way to the Chandeleur Islands, 35 miles off the coast of Mississippi. They're uninhabited barrier islands, not much but some patches of land sticking out just above the water's surface, we think. And we believe the oil spill has hit them.

Gary Tuchman on his way to the Chandeleur Islands, which may be the first place oil has hit land.

Gary Tuchman on his way to the Chandeleur Islands, which may be the first place oil has hit land.

We found a man with a boat willing to take us on the three hour sail from Gulfport. We've got our satellite gear, and rubber boots, and we're hoping it all works out to have Gary live from the islands for AC360° tonight, taking a look at the sort of thing we can expect to see on the mainland if the oil reaches that coastline.

May 3rd, 2010
10:27 AM ET

One disaster to another

Justine Redman
AC360° Producer

Redman: as the plane ducks down below the cloud cover for landing, the flooding spreads out as far as you can see.

Redman: as the plane ducks down below the cloud cover for landing, the flooding spreads out as far as you can see.

I am sitting on a plane on my way to the Gulf coast to cover the oil spill, thinking about what we're going to see when we get there, when suddenly I'm confronted with a different disaster.

I've got to change planes in Memphis, Tennessee, and as the plane ducks down below the cloud cover for landing, the flooding spreads out as far as you can see. I wasn't really expecting it, because I knew the worst was in a different part of the state, closer to Nashville. But even here, the landscape is a patchwork of flooded fields, flashing silver as they catch the sun. It looks really bad; people's livelihoods drowned. It's the worst flooding here for decades, so many people's homes and lives are ruined... and many have already died.

As a journalist, I've never passed by a disaster before, and it's an uncomfortable feeling. I'm carrying on to another place where the worst destruction hasn't even happened yet. It's not that the suffering here is any less important than the story I'm going to cover, it's just that today it is somebody else's assignment.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Behind The Scenes • Justine Redman
April 12th, 2010
11:04 AM ET
April 8th, 2010
11:53 PM ET

Dispatch from Port-au-Prince: Waiting for the rains

Program Note: Don't miss Gary Tuchman's report from Haiti tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Justine Redman and Gary Tuchman
AC360°

It rained the other night. Everyone here's been waiting for the rain...fearfully. Once the rainy season is here, life in rubble-strewn Port-au-Prince will change for everyone.

For two hours we watched the downpour, and wondered what it was doing to the tent cities, where thousands and thousands of people sleep on bare dirt, under shelters made out of any bit of plastic they could find, liable to wash away in a mudslide. No matter where you are in this city, rain will spread mud and disease through the often unpaved streets where a sewer system is a dream, and most people do not have running water. The city stinks already, and it's going to get worse.

But the next morning, we found ourselves back in a dust bowl. The previous night's shower was nothing more than a taste of what's to come. We went to a track of land in the countryside which is being prepared by bulldozers for the resettlement of many of the residents of those tents cities, the people who have nothing left to go home to, but can't keep living where they are.

AC360° producer Justine Redman, Sean Penn and AC360° Gary Tuchman in Haiti.

AC360° producer Justine Redman, Sean Penn and AC360° Gary Tuchman in Haiti.

The land is barren and scrubby, the ground is deep with dust. It's desert, but we were almost relieved by the harshness; this weekend Haitian and international authorities are hoping to start busing hundreds of tent city inhabitants out here to pitch their tents. What a welcome it would be to land in mud past your ankles. Instead, bulldozers and dump trucks raced the clock, spreading rocks and gravel over the dust, trying to build a sturdier base for the thousands of new homes.

FULL POST


Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Haiti Earthquake • Justine Redman
March 5th, 2010
05:34 PM ET

Inside the mind of the suspected anthrax killer

Joe Johns and Justine Redman
AC360°

Jean Duley was an addiction counselor. She describes one of her clients as a slight, mousey, yet charming man, with a vodka and Valium habit. That wasn't his biggest problem though. By the time he started seeing Duley, Dr. Bruce Ivins was under suspicion by the FBI for launching America's age of bioterrorism by mailing letters laced with deadly anthrax to two senators and a number of news organizations in 2001, killing five people.

The investigation had been going on for seven years. Ivins was a microbiologist who worked with anthrax at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, at Fort Detrick in Maryland. At times during their hunt for the killer, the FBI had consulted Ivins for his scientific expertise, and he'd been a willing adviser. Ivins told Duley he didn't do it, and said he believed one of his colleagues was the anthrax killer, but, in July 2008, authorities were closing in on Ivins as their prime suspect. He walked into Duley's counseling office almost out of control.

"I'd never seen him that way before," Jean Duley recalled to CNN in an exclusive interview. She'd been seeing him twice a week for about six months, during which time he was hospitalized for what she called a suicide attempt. "He was extremely angry and nasty in his demeanor. The receptionist actually came back to me and said there's something wrong, you need to go deal with it. There's something wrong with him."

FULL POST


Filed under: Joe Johns • Justine Redman
October 26th, 2009
09:44 PM ET

Let the good times roll on K Street

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear Joe Johns' report on lobbying and the financial industry. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Joe Johns and Justine Redman
AC360°

It may be a recession on your street, but good times are rolling along K Street in Washington DC – otherwise known as the home address for lobbyists.

Health care has become one of the most crucial political issues of 2009, and more than $293 million has been spent on health care lobbying so far this year. At this rate, 2009 looks like it will set a new record for lobbying.

The heat is still on, as the future of health care reform rides to a large extent on the power of individual members of congress. Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he will introduce a bill including a "public option," when only a few weeks ago, a "public option" was considered as good as dead. These last few days, TV airwaves have been a seeming barrage of politicians and pundits frantically pushing their agendas. Whether it's Reid or other pivotal Senators such as Olympia Snowe, with every move they make, a frantic dance of lobbyists has preceded it.

According to figures published by the Center for Responsive Politics, there are currently 3,185 lobbyists working all sides of the health care issue. Congress has 535 members. That means there are nearly half a dozen lobbyists for every elected official on Capitol Hill on this topic alone.

FULL POST


Filed under: Joe Johns • Justine Redman • Keeping Them Honest • Raw Politics
July 17th, 2009
11:52 PM ET

Tracking Michelle Obama's slave roots

This is a former slave house on Friendfield Plantation, where Michelle Obama's family has roots.

This is a former slave house on Friendfield Plantation, where Michelle Obama's family has roots.

Joe Johns | BIO and Justine Redman
AC360°

In many places across the South you can walk in the footsteps of slaves, and if you understand the history, it is not a happy journey. The same is true at Friendfield Plantation outside Georgetown, South Carolina.

It's not exactly "Gone With the Wind," but what makes this overgrown 3,300 acres of marsh and pine trees stand out is this: The family of first lady Michelle Obama believes her great-great grandfather was held as a slave here and labored in the mosquito-infested rice fields.

It makes Friendfield Plantation a symbol of something more than servitude. It's the symbol of something that's never happened before: One important segment of an American family's journey from the humiliation of slavery to the very top of the nation's ruling class.

CNN recently was the first television network allowed to visit the plantation and shoot video. It's not a museum. It's just private land, still with shadows of its past.

Friendfield's most distinctive historical feature, perhaps, is the dirt road known as Slave Street.

Keep reading...

June 17th, 2009
12:15 PM ET

Tracking down a cannabis garden

Editor's Note: For more on the case for and against legalizing marijuana, tune in tonight to hear Joe Johns' full report on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Inside the licensed and legal cannabis garden in Portland, Oregon.

Joe Johns, AC360° Correspondent
Justine Redman, AC360° Producer

We're in Portland, Oregon, working on our story about the case for legalizing marijuana, and we arranged to go see a garden where licensed and legal marijuana is grown to to provide medical marijuana for designated patients. The owner gave us the address, and soon we were driving through a quiet Portland neighborhood, trying to imagine how there could be a pot farm in such a tightly residential area.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Joe Johns • Justine Redman
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