Editor's Note: With little hope of finding additional survivors, authorities Monday began clearing the rubble left by a pair of devastating earthquakes that rocked Indonesia last week. The death toll from the two powerful earthquakes that struck the country has risen to 608 and 343 people are still missing, though the total number could be much higher.
Program Manager, Save the Children in Indonesia
Blog entry, October 5, 2009, 11:40 pm
It’s hard to believe I’ve only been here four days – it feels like weeks! Our team is working very long hours, both here in the field and in our coordination centers. I don’t think twice about calling or texting my team members at midnight, because I know they’ll be up for at least two more hours.
The urgency of this situation keeps us going. Hundreds of thousands of people – including children – are still trying to meet their basic needs. Today I spoke to a number of women who are gathering rain water in order to bathe and wash their clothes.
Save the Children is continuing to provide shelter materials, and I saw people rigging the tarps as soon as they left the distribution post. In nearly every village, community members take turns standing by the main road, flagging down passing cars and gathering donations. Most use these funds immediately to buy food to cook communal meals.
We've reached an estimated 4,600 people in the last two days, including more than 2,700 children, with family hygiene kits, household supplies, and shelter materials. But there are so many more that need help.
A new deadly battle in Afghanistan. Should the U.S. change its strategy in the war zone? We're digging deeper. The first H1NI vaccines are given. We have the facts you need to know. Plus, how the suspected stalker of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews tracked her down and allegedly filmed her naked in a hotel room.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ
Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.
Here are some of them:
1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)
What's should America's strategy be in Afghanistan? That's what Pres. Obama will likely be asking congressional leaders from both parties tomorrow at the White House. We’re tackling the question tonight on 360°.
There appears to be different views on the war from various insiders. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is pushing for more troops. Otherwise, McChrystal warns the mission could fail.
"We need to reverse the current trends, and time does matter. Waiting does not prolong a favorable outcome," McChrystal said last week in a speech in London.
McChrystal would like Pres. Obama to quickly add 40,000 troops to the current level of 68,000. Sen. John McCain and several other Republicans on Capitol Hill support that approach.
But Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appeared to push back today against those calling for a rapid increase in troop levels.
"It is important, that we take our time to do all we can to get this right. And in this process it is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations, civilians and military alike provide our best advice to the President candidly but privately," Gates said today at the Association of the U.S. Army convention.
"Afghanistan has been on a different and worrisome trajectory with violence levels up some 60 percent from last year I believe the decisions that the President will make for the next stage of the Afghanistan campaign will be among the most important of his presidency," Gates added.
Pres. Obama says he needs time to talk over strategy options with his advisers and decide on the best way to proceed in Afghanistan. He has not yet responded to McChrystal's report on troop levels leading some to call the President indecisive. Critics also have said Pres. Obama is playing politics that put U.S. troops in danger.
But some in Pres. Obama's inner circle, such as Vice President Joe Biden, are making their case for using more special forces with no troop increase. They also want to rely more on unmanned drones to hit war targets.
There is also the message coming from National Security Adviser James Jones.
"I don't foresee the return of the Taliban," the retired General told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "And I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in danger - imminent danger - of failing," Jones added.
All this talk comes as eight American troops and two Afghan security forces were killed over the weekend when militants opened fire on an outpost with rockets, mortars and machine-gun fire. It was the largest number of American casualties by hostile action in one day in Afghanistan in nearly 15 months.
As you can tell, it is a tough situation with many different views. What do you think the U.S strategy should be in Afghanistan? Share your thoughts below.
Join us for this story tonight. Plus, we'll introduce you to a U.S. solider who refused to fight in Iraq and went AWOL. We also have the facts and fears on the new H1N1 vaccine that was given to health care works in two states today. It will be provided nationwide in the weeks ahead.
Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
President Barack Obama plays basketball with White House staffers while on vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Aug. 26, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
UPDATE BEAT 360º WINNERS
"Service Agent Jack Dugan follows the example set by his Commander-in-Chief: play soft defense and back-pedal when you’re outmatched."
Jay Chen, East Brunswick, NJ
"Obama: That’s a foul!
White House Staffer: YOU LIE!"
A national campaign to inoculate tens of millions of Americans against H1N1 influenza began Monday, with health care workers in Indiana and Tennessee targeted as the first recipients, federal health authorities said.
"I think the world has watched history unfold," Dr. Judy Monroe, Indiana's state health commissioner, told reporters at Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis.
Earlier Monday, the hospital received a shipment of 52 boxes - each containing 100 pre-filled sprayers.
"This first 5,200 doses that came to Marion County is really just the tip of the iceberg," Monroe said.
Health Director Virginia Caine said the shipment will be split among the county's hospitals.
A similar scene unfolded at LeBonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee, where three children have died from H1N1, sometimes referred to as swine flu.
Jennilyn Utkov, a spokeswoman for LeBonheur, said the hospital received about 100 doses. By noon, the supply had been depleted.
The vaccines shipped to both sites and to a few other places around the nation are the first of some 195 million doses the U.S. government has purchased from five vaccine manufacturers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dr. Jay Butler told reporters at the Indianapolis event. That number includes both spray and injectable forms.
Butler, who heads the agency's 2009 H1N1 Vaccine Task Force, has promised there will be enough for anyone who wants it.
Do you have questions about the H1N1 virus? Let us know! We'll have answers tonight.
CNN Senior Medical Correspondent
Next week, the long-awaited H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive. At least three of the four vaccine makers have begun shipping their products to undisclosed distribution centers.
Editor's Note: Make sure to catch Paul Krugman tonight on AC360°. He'll be on with Anderson at 10 p.m. ET.
The New York Times
There was what President Obama likes to call a teachable moment last week, when the International Olympic Committee rejected Chicago’s bid to be host of the 2016 Summer Games.
“Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.
So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.
The rollout of vaccine intended to protect against the global pandemic of H1N1 influenza is continuing on or ahead of schedule, a federal health official told reporters Thursday.
Vaccine makers began shipping H1N1 nasal spray this week, earlier than health officials had predicted, to 21 states and the cities of Washington; New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Los Angeles, California, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some 600,000 doses are expected to arrive at those locations by Tuesday, she said.