Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
In the aftermath of natural disasters, there is what I call a “venting of compassion.” It is a term I coined a few years ago after reporting on the tsunami in Sri Lanka. I was there for a few weeks, and I soon saw a rush of aid to the devastated regions. Seemingly more water bottles than the nearby Indian Ocean, more t-shirts than the entire population of the country and aid organizations flying, driving and shipping in with relief supplies in hand, earnest to help. For me, and many people, seeing the images on tv and hearing the stories of anguish, stirs something deep in our humanity. We have an innate, instinctive, almost reflexive need to help. It is as if the world start to vent compassion.
It is a galvanizing thing to witness, and I remember being so fulfilled to work side by side with these generous souls, and report on their healing hands. It is a good thing, and it is happening now in Haiti as well. Even as I write this blog, there are humanitarian planes circling overhead in Port Au Prince, hoping to get a slot to land. If they can’t land here, they will likely land in neighboring Dominican Republic, and convoy across the border. Anything to lend a helping hand, and have a therapeutic impact in a place that could really use it.
That is why it might not be that surprising that after a few days of limited help, there is now such a surge of surgeons, people are being turned away from some of the big hospitals in Port Au Prince. “We appreciate your efforts, but we have more surgeons than we need,” is being repeated at the General hospital in downtown. I was told of one neurosurgeon from Oregon, who started crying upon hearing these words. “Surely, there is something I can do,” she sobbed. The director of the hospital had her changing dressings and helping clean up the area, and she happily complied. Anything to help, anything at all, anything – to vent compassion.
We're following some very troubling reports about what could be happening to Haiti's children. Child smuggling, child selling, etc. We'll tell you what's being done to keep them out of harm's way. Plus, with President Obama getting ready for the State of The Union address and, reportedly, a change of course for government spending, we look closer at where your stimulus dollars went. The Stimulus Project, tonight and all week.
Want more details on what we're covering? <strong><a href="http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/category/the-buzz/" target="_blank">Read EVENING BUZZ</a></strong>
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David Gewirtz | BIO
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute
First, I'd like to send a good thought to all those suffering today in Haiti, and all their family members here in the United States.
No one can look at the horror of Haiti and not feel both a deep sense of sadness and a desire to help. It seems almost mean and selfish to suggest that we need to do something other than provide our full support to this devastated nation, but that's exactly what I'm about to do.
Over the next few weeks, there's going to be a crucial decision-making point when policy makers will have to decide whether to move from a perfectly valid emergency response policy to a potentially disastrous nation-building policy.
Since the 1960s, we have operated under President Kennedy's mandate of moral obligation:
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Gary Tuchman | BIO
Last week, I reported an incredibly sad story about a nursing home in Haiti that was destroyed.
Six residents were killed. Seventy-four survived, but they were living outdoors under the hot sun, on soiled mattresses. Many were wearing diapers that hadn't been changed; some people had no clothes on at all. They all had swarms of flies all over their faces and bodies. There was almost no food or water.
The nursing home director was there, but only one doctor made sporadic visits, and he had no medicine. Well, we paid a visit there this weekend, and I'm pleased to say that after our story, the International Red Cross and Haitian Red Cross set up a headquarters under a tent next to the seniors.
The volunteers will stay at the site, and have provided the seniors with food, water, medicine, and a huge tarp that gives them shelter in the rain. It is still a pitifully sad situation, but these old folks are no longer alone.
CNN Financial News Producer
Stocks on Wall Street managed some slight gains today as investors weighed worries about the bank sector, the likelihood of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke being confirmed for a second term and a troubling report on the housing market.
The Dow added 23 points or 0.2%. The S&P 500 added 5 points or 0.5% and the Nasdaq also gained 5 points or 0.3%.
Stocks plunged last week after President Obama proposed new limits on banks and talk swirled that Bernanke's term may not be renewed. In three sessions, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all slumped 5%.
But those worries were tempered today at the start of a busy week for economic and earnings news. This week brings a Fed meeting, the first reading on fourth-quarter GDP growth, the president's State of the Union address and profit reports from a slew of major companies – including DuPont, Johnson & Johnson, and Travelers.
First out of the gate with earnings this week is Apple, which reported another strong quarter after the closing bell on the back of its current product lineup, which includes iPhones, iPods and Macintosh computers.
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Tonight on 360°, Anderson reports on the children of Haiti orphaned by the earthquake.
He spoke with a doctor at a hospital camp outside Port-au-Prince, who is worried about the security of the orphans.
"We've spent all day and the last four days going down to the U.N., going up the chain of command, we've talked to the U.S. Army, we've spoken to the U.S. Air Force... everything's been documented about our attempts to get somebody on base to take care of this camp for all of us," Dr. Laura Asher told Anderson.
Dr. Asher said there was a suspicious man on the hospital grounds who was removed several days ago. She's convinced he was trying to steal a child.
The fear is the children could be trafficked, stolen for illegal adoptions, sexually exploited or sold as domestic servants.
Tonight, we'll also give you an up close look at the destruction of the presidential palace in the capital city.
360's Gary Tuchman and his crew saw the damage first-hand.
"Imagine if the White House were destroyed. The horrors of that are exactly what the Haitian people are now going through. The physical and symbolic devastation are very raw," Gary reports.
Gary will show you where the president of Haiti is forced to work out of now.
Here at home, President Obama gives his State of the Union address Wednesday night. There's been a lot of talk about whether his economic stimulus plan is working. All this week, we're checking the facts. Find out what's working and what's not. Your tax dollars have funded nearly 57,000 projects, so far. See if those projects are truly creating jobs and boosting the economy.
Join us for these stories and much more at 10 p.m. ET.
The Stimulus Tracker FAQ
The government's efforts to rescue the economy were bold and complex. Here is an explanation of our methodology to break down stimulus into its component parts.
Q) What is the difference between "Stimulus 1" and "Stimulus 2?"
Stimulus 1 is the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law in February 2009. It contains a combination of grants, loans, direct spending and tax cuts aimed at creating jobs and alleviating the economic stresses caused by the recession.
Stimulus 2 is a group of extensions of programs enacted by stimulus 1 that were about to expire. It also includes other economic stimulus that was not in the ARRA bill.
Q) What was included in "Stealth Stimulus?"
A) Since the credit crisis erupted in 2008, the government launched several dozen programs aimed at rescuing the financial sector, the housing market and the overall economy. We included only programs that were launched by the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department or Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. since 2008.
Q) I have seen other values assigned to stimulus categories. How did you arrive at these numbers?
A) The Recovery Act is by far the largest stimulus bill ever enacted, and there are many ways to divide the thousands of different programs into groupings. We chose to follow the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the bill, since CBO is an independent evaluator.
CBO grouped the bill's contents into 47 categories, and we further condensed CBO's groupings to seven main categories and 31 smaller parts.
Q) I thought some of these programs have yet to be funded, are winding down or have been paid back. What do the dollar amounts represent?
A) For the Recovery Act and its extensions, we listed the total appropriations for each category. For the Stealth Stimulus section, many of the programs were assigned credit caps that are unlikely to be reached, so we listed the highest value of government support during the life of each program.
Many of those programs are currently at their funding peaks, while others have been fully repaid.
Program Note: Don't miss Drew Griffin's full report tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Drew Griffin | BIO
CNN Investigative Correspondent
The federal stimulus program is funding roadway construction in many Massachusetts towns. But more than half of the companies that have received taxpayer dollars to perform the work have a history of breaking the law.
According to an investigation by Boston University's New England Center for Investigative Reporting, more than half the companies given stimulus contracts have histories of defrauding taxpayers.
Using funds from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Massachusetts Highway Division has awarded nearly $54 million in contracts for highway improvements. One company, Aggregate Industries Northeast Inc., based in Saugus, Massachusetts, was awarded two stimulus contracts totaling $8.9 million for roadwork in the state.
Aggregate Industries is one of the largest producers of aggregate, asphalt and ready-mixed concrete in New England. But Aggregate Industries has a record of misconduct, and six of its former managers pleaded guilty or were convicted of defrauding the government.
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I listened to her wailing. It wasn’t a quiet sob or even a loud scream, but it was an urgent, pleading, desperate cry for the little boy that would never return.
Just after we returned to our hotel in Port-au-Prince last night, the crying began. At first, our team thought someone was in trouble, but as the loud agony persisted, we realized it was something much more troubling than that. We could hear wailing and clapping, talking and praying, moans of deep sorrow over the senseless loss of a little child.
One of our teammates asked a hotel employee what was happening. She found out that they were remembering a little boy who’s body had been recovered from the rubble of the devastating earthquake last week in Haiti, one of the country’s worst natural disasters. Recent estimates now put the death toll at more than 200,000, an almost unimaginable statistic. Imagine the entire town of Arlington, Virginia, completely wiped out in 45 seconds?
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We couldn’t see the group of mourners; they were hidden behind the concrete block wall that so typically surrounds buildings like our hotel in Haiti. But we could hear them.
As we went to bed, the tears continued. Early the next morning, our team sat outside the hotel again, working and talking, as we got ready for another day of relief work throughout the city. As I sat down, I hear her haunting cries again. I think they had continued their memorial all through the late hours of the night and into the early hours of this morning. What kind of grief must she be experiencing to cry so hard and so long?
Editor's Note: Laura Blank is media relations manager at World Vision, a Christian humanitarian charity organization. World Vision works with children, families, and their communities worldwide to tackle the causes of poverty and injustice.