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Pres. Obama Arrives In Arizona; Palin Speaks Out On Shootings; S. Sudan: Independence Vote Valid

Aired January 12, 2011 - 18:00   ET



Happening now, President Obama gets ready to speak at a memorial service for Tucson shooting victims. Some call it his biggest moment as "comforter in chief." I'll ask two former presidential speechwriters what he needs to say and what he shouldn't say.

Also, Sarah Palin speaks on a Tucson shootings and lashes out with critics who've linked the attack to partisan rhetoric. But does Sarah Palin go too far? Why some are finding her choice of words stunning right now.

And new clues into the mindset of the accused gunman, Jared Loughner, what police are now telling us for the first time.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

A critical mission for President Obama tonight. He's arrived in Arizona and is now on his way to visit with families of the shooting victims and their families. Two hours from now, he'll speak at a memorial service. It's a chance to provide comfort, boost morale, and help heal the spiritual wounds suffered by Arizona and the nation.

Meanwhile, doctors say Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford's recovery is, quote, "going as anticipated." She is getting less sedation and becoming more, quote, "spontaneous." An Arizona official reveals that the alleged gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, was stopped for running a red light early Saturday just a few hours before the shooting. An officer gave him a warning and let him go.

Let's start off with tonight's service in Tucson. Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is on the scene for us. All right. Jessica, set the scene for us for this memorial service tonight.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. President Obama as you say, has landed, and right now, he is headed over to University Medical Center where the White House says he wanted to begin this trip by meeting with comforting healing, helping to heal the families of the victims there. From there, we understand, he will, at some point, head over here for the 6:00 p.m. service that so many in this town have lined up beginning at 5:30 this morning to see.

12,000 people can fit in here. We see at least that many outside, Wolf. What they will see when they get here is a program that includes the president of the university, two students, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano who was once governor of Arizona, and Attorney General Eric Holder. The president will be at the end of the program. As the White House has made clear, his remarks will focus primarily on the victims, their lives and their memory.

But we can't expect that the man who is known as the post partisan president, who has campaigned as the post partisan president, I should say, and who has made such a point of talking repeatedly about coming together will in some way try to appeal to our higher selves and the importance of respecting the fragility of life and the importance of relationships. So, that is all going to happen here shortly, Wolf. And again, the president, we are told, did work on that speech on his way here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you've spoken to a lot of people in Tucson over these past several days, Jessica. What are you hearing? What do they want to hear from the president?

YELLIN: You know, their opinions vary, but they talk a lot about how excited they are that the president is coming, because they want to have an opportunity for Tucson to have a healing moment and a positive moment. Here just a few people who explained why they wanted to come and what they'd like to hear.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I took all three of my daughters out of school, because over the weekend, they watched the events unfold, and there were a lot of emotions in my house. And I guess realizing I could bring them to this, and they could have a positive ending to a very upsetting weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's going to be a closing for all these people that need some kind of special words from the president. I think it's going to be very soothing for everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad that he came out. I'm glad that so many people are coming out to support the city of Tucson. I know we're not that big, but I think it's really great to see that people are coming to support the people that have lost their lives.


YELLIN: Wolf, you know, a lot of people have actually stopped me here and said, you know, Tucson, we're very nice people. We're a lovely city. A lot of people feel upset that the world's eyes are focused on them because of a negative event, such a tragic disaster. And they're saying they're pleased that tonight, at least, will be a moment for people to come together and see the community that they have here in Tucson, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, we're told now from the White House that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that the president wanted to begin what he calls the solemn trip by stopping first at the hospital where Congresswoman Giffords and others continue to recuperate. We understand the motorcade has now arrived over at the hospital for that. We'll show it to our viewers. Stand by.

The memorial service is certainly a chance for the president to provide inspiration for all Americans, reeling from yet another horrific act of mass slaughter. Joining us now are two former presidential speechwriters. David Frum was an aide to President George W. Bush and Jonathan Prince advised President Bill Clinton. Let me start with you, Jonathan. Why do you think the speech tonight that the president will deliver, we're told it's about 20 minutes, is so important, not only for him but for the nation?

JONATHAN PRINCE, PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITER: Well, I think, Wolf, it's an opportunity for the president to bring the country together, to demonstrate that, you know, as Bill Clinton said in his Oklahoma City speech which many people have, you know, made references to in their discussions of this that we've lost much, but we've not lost America, and to really sit astride the nation and to offer some comfort and some hope for the future and to say that while justice needs to be served and will be served, there's an opportunity for us to learn from this and to move forward and that America endures.

BLITZER: I assume, David, you agree he needs to stay away from politics tonight. This is not a night for politics.

DAVID FRUM, PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITER: People want to know that life has meaning. These kinds of disasters that just strike out of nowhere and seemingly for no reason or for crazy reasons and touch people so devastatingly that the way we reaffirm meaning is to show, first, an identity with the people we've lost who they have not lost their individuality even in death.

And second, to have the act of congregation of so many people in one space to hear the president means that the whole community is affirming that we are together, we are committing ourselves to care for the bereaved, and we are not going to allow memory to be lost.

BLITZER: Every president has a different style at preparing speeches, especially important speeches like this. President Clinton had a style. President Bush had a different style. We know President Obama has a different style. But how in general does a White House speechwriter, Jonathan, work with the president and making sure that the president utters the right words.

PRINCE: Well, so, I'll give you, you know, the example of the Oklahoma City memorial speech. And what we did in that situation was we reached out to some of the president's friends and advisers, to some religious and spiritual leaders on the country, got some thoughts, took them in, then, a couple of us worked together to put a draft in the president's hands with enough time for him to then really work out on himself and internalize it and change it and improve it.

And then, it would come back to us, and there'd be a little bit of an iterative process, but, you know, typically what you do is you do some reach out, get some opinions, kind of coalesce these opinions, and then bring it together. You know, obviously, everyone brings their own kind of perception and backgrounds to the table, and you work with the president to make sure that he's comfortable at the end of the day.

I'll give you one great example of the speech in which the President Clinton made a huge edit. We've put a line in there that said, "The God of comfort is also the God of righteousness." And President Clinton changed it to say, "Teach your children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness." Just vastly improving the line and making more his.

BLITZER: You worked speeches for President Bush after 9/11, David. Share a few thought with us.

FRUM: Well, I would argue a little bit against interest here as a writer and to say that what the president does nonverbally is as important as what he says. And when I think back on President Bush on that extended period of morning after 9/11, the image that is sharpest in my mind is a service he participated in for victims of the Pentagon bombings, specifically, where what you saw was he had completely absorbed the grief and pain of these people, and he was so sad. It was real to him.

It was not just words. It was not something to read. The president here, he is the head of the nation. He's no longer the head of the government, no longer the head of the party, not today. He's the head of the nation, and he has to express the feelings of compassion and solidarity that the whole country has with the bereaved, and to the people also was not omit the people behaved so gallantly. They deserve an affirmative remembrance along with the people who have a sad one.

BLITZER: You remember the day after the Oklahoma City memorial service, Jonathan, what president Clinton did. He then delivered a blistering, very tough speech going after political extremists. In this particular case, should there be a decent interval before President Obama to do that because with President Clinton, he didn't wait very long?

PRINCE: Well, as you remember from Oklahoma City, wolf, it was very apparent that the contributing forces in the background to the McVeigh attack was, in fact, some of these very extreme fringe movements in the country. And they weren't frankly to be clear about it. They were not partisan movement. These were the extreme of the extremes. And so, I think, you know, the president thought, and I certainly agree that at that time, it was very appropriate to kind of get out there and condemn what were actually real calls to violence on the part of some militias and groups like that.

I think that this is a different situation. And while there's a lot of good and important discussion about the way the image and rhetoric of violence has some, you know, infiltrated our political discourse, I think it's a different circumstance.

BLITZER: As very quickly, is President Obama up to the challenge, David, tonight? FRUM: He can make a great speech when he wants to. What he has more difficulty with is that kind of personal connection. He is an austere person. And he is very cerebral. And today, he has to be a little bit more than that. He has to be the man of heart as well.

BLITZER: David Frum, thank you very much. Jonathan Prince, thanks to you.

PRINCE: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Another live look over at the University of Arizona where that memorial service is set to begin in less than two hours. CNN is carrying the service and the president's speech live. Please join me as well as John King. He's in Arizona for our special coverage. It starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

Sarah Palin has now spoken out on the Tucson shooting, lashing out at critics who tied the attack to partisan rhetoric. But Palin faces some new criticism over her choice of words. Brian Todd is joining us now with the closer look at some of her remarks and the controversy that it has generated -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that phrase your eluding to was part of a fascinating statement overall from Palin. A video presentation in which she went on the defensive but also voiced the themes of conciliation and unity.



TODD (voice-over): She first speaks in measured tones that some might call presidential about the tragedy in Arizona.

PALIN: America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week --

TODD: An extraordinary statement from Sarah Palin, the first time she's spoken substantially about the mass shooting in Tucson and about the criticism she's received in the wake of it. It was Palin's rhetoric during the 2010 midterm campaign that led to so much pushback after Tucson. Her tweet to conservatives saying, "Don't retreat, instead reload."

And her map targeting 20 Democrats with cross hairs symbols, including Gabrielle Giffords. There was never any link between Palin's words and the shooting. But some say Palin's brand of rhetoric led to a level of political vitriol that wasn't healthy.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D) MAJORITY WHIP: We ought to say that just goes too far.

TODD: To that, Palin spent most of the latter part of her statement rejecting the criticism.

PALIN: Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of the state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies.

TODD: With this, she seems to be going directly on the defensive. Does that work for her?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Well, she's making the case she can make it. Politics is politics played by both sides should not be wrapped into this terrible tragedy.

TODD: Susan page's newspaper "USA Today" has a new poll showing most Americans don't believe heated political rhetoric was any factor in the Arizona shooting.

TODD (on-camera): But in chastising the media during part of her statement, Palin invokes a very controversial term, one with deep, longstanding, and very unpleasant reverberations in the Jewish community.

PALIN: Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn.

TODD (voice-over): The anti-defamation league criticized her use of the phrase "blood libel" which theologian say refers to the centuries old myth that Jews were killing Christian children.

SISTER MARY BOYS, UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Often the explanation was given that Jews needed the blood of Christian, particularly Christian children, in order to make their unleavened bread or matzo.


TODD (on-camera): Sister Mary Boys said (INAUDIBLE) any current political context. It can be argued that many people don't know what blood libel means. Did Palin know when she said that? Contacted by CNN, a Palin adviser didn't comment on that. The adviser also didn't comment on any other parts of the speech. And we didn't hear back from them when we circle back asking for response to the criticism of some of Palin's comments including that comment on blood libel -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That comment on blood libel was also used the day before in an article in the "Wall Street Journal." So, presumably, she may have picked it up there.

TODD: That's right. Conservative pundit, Glenn Harlem Reynolds wrote a column on Monday with the term blood libel in the title, and in this column, he characterized those efforts to link the shootings with conservative rhetoric as blood libel.

Now, we know Sarah Palin has, at least, read the "Wall Street Journal" at times in the past because she got into that online dispute with the general (ph) reporter back in November about whether the U.S. was going through a heavy period of inflation or not. But again, our efforts to find out where she got that term from for this current statement, we got no response from Palin's camp on that.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

The vice president of the United States is now in Iraq. These pictures just coming in the SITUATION ROOM. Joe Biden is on a visit. He was in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is now in Iraq. It was not previously announced that he was going to Iraq, presumably still considered too dangerous to let anyone know that he was going to be arriving in Baghdad, but these are the first pictures we're getting in of the vice president. He is now in Iraq.

Presumably, he will be meeting with the top leadership there, including the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. A very sensitive moment in Iraq right now is their working with this new coalition government to try to move forward.

New clues are emerging about the behavior of the alleged Tucson shooter. Police are sharing details of his writings. We're going to share what we know with you.

And an emotional day here in Washington on Capitol Hill as some of the colleagues of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returned for the first time since the shooting.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not. This is a time for the House to lock arms, in prayer for the fallen and the wounded, and resolve to carry on a dialogue of Democracy.



BLITZER: There are new clues into the mindset of the accused Tucson gunman, Jared Loughner. Authorities are sharing some of those views for the first time right now. Let's bring in our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve. Jeanne, what are you learning?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Pima County Sheriff's Department says on papers in the safe in the Loughner home, they found some very strong language. The scrolled words, quote, "die cops and die bitch." A reference they believed to Congresswoman Giffords, and there are other new details about Jared Loughner's thoughts and activities before the shootings.


MESERVE (voice-over): Last Saturday morning at 7:30, in less than three hours before the shootings, Jared Loughner was stopped by law enforcement for running a red light. He was given a verbal warning and released. The Pima County Sheriff's office tells John King he also had a confrontation with his father that morning in front of their home over a black bag.

RICHARD KASTIGAR, BUREAU CHIEF, PIMA CO, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The father asked him questions to the similar to what are you doing? What is that? And Jared mumbled something back to his dad. His dad said he didn't understand what was said. It was unintelligible. And then, Jared left. The father followed. The father got in his vehicle and tried to locate his son.

MESERVE: But he didn't, and later that morning, Jared allegedly opened fire in a Safeway parking lot. Among police reports on past encounters with the Loughner family on account of Jared being transported by his high school to an emergency room for extreme drunkenness. He told police he was drunk because he was very upset his father yelled at him.

A year later, he's cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, and in 2008, Jared reports to authorities concerns that his identity has been stolen. I noted that Jared was slow to response on my questions, wrote an officer. He often hesitated as if he was trying to think of an explanation. A neighbor says he sometimes wouldn't talk at all.

STEPHEN WOODS, NEIGHBOR: If you tried to talk to him, he just ignores you and just goes and walks on.

MESERVE: The "Wall Street Journal" reports that Loughner visited an online forum for gamers last year posting comments like, "Does anyone have aggression 24/7?" "If you went to prison right now, what would you be thinking?" And a high school friend interviewed by ABC News said Loughner was profoundly impacted by an online documentary series called "Scythe Quest." (ph)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How then reduce the society to squalor? The Federal Reserve bankers decided that the gold standard should be removed.

MESERVE: A team Loughner seems to reflect in both style and substance in his YouTube postings.


MESERVE (on-camera): But the Pima County Sheriff's office says that law enforcement had no indication that Loughner posted threat. You can hear more of the interview with Sheriff Kastigar of the Pima County Sheriff's Department on "John King USA" at the top of the hour -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeanne, thanks very much.

Take a look at this. It's the tribute outside Tucson's University Medical Center. We're going to show you a hundreds of strangers are showing their support for the shooting victims.

In other news we're following, including WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, has a new target who he says is his biggest enemy. Stick around. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We'll get back to Tucson in a moment, but there's some other news we're following including this. After days of voting, the world may now have its first new country in years. Lisa Sylvester has that and some of the other top stories in SITUATION ROOM. What's going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, this is a pretty fascinating story. The ruling party in Southern Sudan says more than two-thirds of registered voters have cast their ballots in the referendum to secede from the north. This puts the south on track to become a new country this summer splitting Africa's largest country right in half. At least, 2 million Sudanese died during a decade-long war between the north and south.

WikiLeaks is taking on China. The website's founder, Julian Assange, tells a British magazine that China, not the United States is the main technological enemy. Assange says China has what he calls aggressive and sophisticated interception technology, but he insists WikiLeaks is finding way to get information to Chinese readers.

And forget about all the snow and the blizzards and the ice, what we've all been hearing about. Let's talk about something else. Let's talk about the heat. And if you thought last summer was especially hot, well, you were right. 2010 has tied 2005 as the earth's warmest year on record since 1880. The government says last year was the 34th consecutive year where global temperatures were above average. I know you remember the summer where we were all sweating it out.

BLITZER: And if you go outside now, it's cold.

SYLVESTER: We are talking about blizzards.

BLITZER: Yes. No global warming on this date. Thank you.

She's holding her own, but what are the chances of recovery for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords? Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon is standing. We'll talk with him live.

And emotions ran high at the U.S. Capitol as some colleagues of the congresswoman return for the first time since the shooting.


BOEHNER: The needs of this institution have always risen above partisanship. And what this institution needs right now is strength. Wholly and uplifting strength.



BLITZER: Emotions ran high in the House of Representatives today as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' colleagues held a bipartisan prayer service and then voted on a resolution condemning the shooting rampage. Let's go straight to our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the House just adopted this resolution condemning this attack and honoring the victims. Members spending all day today on the floor talking about this tragedy. As you can imagine, it was a very difficult process, especially for those lawmakers who were close friends of Gabby Giffords, and even the clerk of the House who began the day reading this resolution told me that it's times like these that make it really hard to keep it together.


SUSAN COLE, HOUSE CLERK: Whereas on January 8, 2011, an armed gunman opened fire at a Congress on your corner event hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson, Arizona, killing six and wounding at least 14 others.

KEILAR (voice-over): A house resolution to honor the victims in Tucson and for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who is fighting for her life and her aide, Gabe Zimmerman, who did not survive the shooting, tears.

BOEHNER: Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not. This is a time for the House to lock arms, in prayer for the fallen and the wounded, and then resolve to carry on a dialogue of Democracy.

KEILAR: There were words of praise.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: Congresswoman Giffords was the primary target of cowardly act, and as she recovers, we honor her as a brilliant and courageous member of Congress.

KEILAR: And humor.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT, (R) TEXAS: Gabby knows I love chocolate. So, when she sees me on the flight, she always lights up and says something like, Louie, I was hoping you'd be on my flight. I need some chocolate.

KEILAR: And this being Congress, politics came up, talk of the heated rhetoric that has been scrutinized in the wake of the tragedy.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: It seems to me it is a time for us to reflect on the heightened anger being projected on our public debate, and the daily denigration of those with whom we disagree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should always refrain from engaging in personal verbal attacks against those with whom we differ on important questions of the day, but let me say: we must also resist, in these moments of heartache, the temptation to assign blame to those with whom we differ.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER: We may not yet have all the final answers, but we already have the answer that matters most, that we're Americans. And we'll make it through this difficult period. We will have the last word.


KEILAR: Now, in stark contrast, today was supposed to be the vote to repeal the health-care reform law, but Republicans postponed that very politically-charged vote in the wake of this tragedy, Wolf. And today, though, even though as I did mention in my piece, there was this undercurrent of politics at times, the talk was much more emotional than anything else.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill, thank you. Obviously, a very, very emotional speaker of the House.

As for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, doctors today announced she's recovering as anticipated without any of the so-called downward events that might typically be expected. Congresswoman Giffords remains in critical condition but is getting less sedation.

Two other shooting victims are still in serious condition. Three are in fair condition.

And for the first time we're hearing from the family of Ron Barber, Giffords' aide who was shot twice.


JENNY DOUGLAS, DAUGHTER OF RONALD BARBER: My dad, Ron Barber, is doing well after his second surgery yesterday morning. He has been very alert since coming out of his six-hour surgery on Saturday. He was able to see his four grandchildren on Monday, which gave him great pleasure.

We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the families who lost loved ones on Saturday. Dad is so deeply saddened by the loss of his friend and fellow staff member Gabe Zimmerman and long- time friend Chief Judge John Roll.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the other victims and their families during their recovery. Throughout this ordeal, Dad's singular focus has been on the well-being of Gabby, and he asks that we all continue to pray for her recovery and her family.


BLITZER: Also at the hospital today, one of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' doctors, Dr. Peter Rhee, gave a positive report about the Arizona lawmaker's condition.


DR. PETER RHEE, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: And I'm happy to state that none of the downward events have occurred at this time, which is exactly what we kind of want to happen at this point. And we have really decreased the amount of sedation that we're giving her, and as a result of that, she's becoming more and more spontaneous all the time. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's bring in our own chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon. Sanjay, what's your reaction when you hear Dr. Rhee say that?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this idea of spontaneous movement is certainly something that you look for. When you start to decrease the sedation in someone, obviously, they're going to be more wakeful. And the question is how are they reacting now that they're more wakeful and allowed to be in a more conscious state not under the influence of these meds?

What I heard specifically, Wolf, was not only was she moving spontaneously, but also moving purposely, trying to fix the gown, you know, adjust her gown that she's wearing, trying to feel the wounds that she has, as well. So these are purposeful movements, as opposed to sometimes people just have reflective movements, and that's a very different sort of movement. So spontaneous, purposeful movements is exactly what you want to see when the sedation gets lifted.

BLITZER: I know you haven't treated her and you haven't looked at all the charts and examined her by any means, but based on all the information they're providing, and they're giving us a lot of information, what kind of prognosis do you have? What does it look like for her?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think that, you know, in the -- in the immediate aftermath of something like this, the question that doctors, surgeons are really trying to answer is, you know, is someone going to survive all of this? And I think that, as you heard all along, Wolf, they've been optimistic since the start.

I mean, a couple of hours after she was out of surgery, they came out and said, "We are as optimistic as we can be about her."

So I think that, and that obviously, yesterday, they said that over 100 percent guaranteed that she's going -- that she's going to survive all this. So that's good.

Now, in terms of the function, longer term, that starts to get down into several different questions. You know, first of all, speech, her motor strength, specifically on the right side of her body, her overall memory, her judgment. That's what -- certain parts of the brain control all these various things.

And Wolf, it will just take a while. I mean, you know, not just a few days but probably weeks before you can answer some of those questions. My biggest questions that I would have are particularly about the strength on the right side of her body. I think that's going to be a big question and part of what has been described as far as this injury does affect that -- that area of the body. It's not to say that she will be weak, but I think that's going to be something they're going to examine.

And also, just to find the specific aspects of her speech, her ability to understand all forms of communication, her ability to express herself. Again, they can't really test that until the breathing tube is out and they can do more sophisticated neurological exams.

BLITZER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as always, thank you very much.

And this note to our viewers. We want to let you know that Sanjay will be going to Arizona tomorrow to give us a unique glance at what happened inside the hospital on the day of the shooting. We certainly are looking forward to his reporting from Tucson tomorrow.

Pundits might question whether civility is possible, but in Arizona, a live look right now as total strangers are coming together in the face of this terrible tragedy. Their story, that's coming up next.

And a chaotic scene down under as one of Australia's largest cities drowns -- yes, drowns -- under the worst flooding in decades. We're live from the middle of the disaster.


BLITZER: Hopes and prayers from Arizona and across the country have been focused on the Tucson -- Tucson's University Medical Center. That's where six victims of Saturday's rampage are slowly being nursed back to health, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. CNN's Susan Candiotti is there.

Susan, lots of people are showing up, simply walking past this makeshift memorial, if you will.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an emotional time for many of them, Wolf. You know, in the days right after the shooting, the number of people that came here was slow, but it was steady. But we've seen nothing like the numbers that we are seeing today. A large turnout. I'm sure in part due to the fact that President Obama is here right now at the hospital.

But, they're -- they started here at the front lawn of the hospital with a small group of flowers and votive candles, and now it practically fills the entire lawn. Again, people coming here to show their support.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came today, because the tragedy is just overwhelming, and every time I see like the little girl's face, I start tearing up. And I felt that a small bouquet of flowers is something I can do just to help with the pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just something to -- to give back a bit and to see the outpouring of, you know, love and friendship that Tucsonians do have in their heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very -- it's very heartwarming. Because, you know, we are a good community here in Tucson. I think in time, and people seem to come back from all of the tragedies that we have gone through, that it just takes a certain amount of time.


BLITZER: Susan, I want to get back to you, because I understand you're getting some more information now on the day of the shooting? What are you learning?

CANDIOTTI: Well, we're learning from the police investigators now that the morning that the shootings occurred, the father, and our -- the chief investigator had already told us this -- that the father of Jared ran into his son that very morning in front of the house, and he said that his son had a Black bag with him.

He asked his son, "What's in the Black bag and what are you doing?" He told police that his son just mumbled something. He couldn't understand what he was saying, and then he took off.

The father told police that he took off after his son to try to figure out what was going on, but he couldn't catch up with him, and figured he just went off to the desert somewhere.

So that important new piece of information about what happened on the morning of the shooting. In addition, police are telling us this night that they found some additional paperwork inside the house. You've been hearing about some of that earlier this day, with the words "Die B" and the word that's rich -- rhymes with "rich," and also an expletive about that cops should die, as well.

So additional information that is part of the investigation about the time line of what happened and that could lead to a possible note -- motive involving this suspect.

BLITZER: Susan Candiotti on the scene for us in Tucson. Thanks very much. We're going to go back to Tucson in a few moments, but there's other news we're following, including a storm that put the South in a deep freeze and is now walloping the northeast. Stand by. How our cities are faring right now.

And Facebook is getting some help -- getting all of us some help in finding friends, but now it wants to help find missing children.


BLITZER: We'll get back to Tucson shortly, but there's other important news we're following, including this. The premier of Queensland in Australia says that her country is now facing the worst natural disaster ever. Rising waters are expected to flood nearly 20,000 homes in Brisbane.

CNN's Phil Black is joining us now with more on this disaster. We are expected to have more in this disaster from Phil Black.

What's the latest, Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well, the Brisbane River has peaked less than expected but still enough to devastate a very wide area of this city. I want to show you the river now. It is flowing just here next to me. It is bloated, swollen, moving very fast, carrying huge pieces of debris, and it has broken its banks across an incredibly wide area.

The estimate at this stage is that some 20,000 homes across more than 30 suburbs in the city have at least been partially or completely flooded. We've been out amongst it. Street after street of homes, flooded right up to their rooftops. It means that many people are waking up in Brisbane this morning, Wolf, knowing that they've lost pretty much everything, and it will be many months before their lives return to normal -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a disaster in Australia, Phil. Thank you.

Here in the United States, the story is snow, plenty of it, especially in New England. Lisa Sylvester is back with that and some other top stories.

What's going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Boston and the surrounding areas are just getting slammed with snow. Massachusetts governor has declared a state of emergency.

In all, the forecasters expect between two and three feet of snow in parts of New England. Thousands of flights are canceled. Amtrak's service suspended between Boston and New York, and schools are closed. Every state except Florida now has snow on the ground, and that even includes Hawaii.

Amber Alerts are on Facebook now. Users can now receive the child abduction announcements from 53 different Amber Alert sites. About 800,000 children are reported missing each year. The Amber Alert system is credited with finding 525 children the last 13 years.

And good news for Wall Street with all three indices surging to multi-year highs today. The Dow Jones and S&P closed at their highest levels in more than two years. And the NASDAQ is at a three-year high. Stocks jumped early in the trading session after a rally in overseas markets. The Fed also released a report highlighting bright spots in manufacturing, retail and nonfinancial services sectors.

Well, the rest of us can keep on dreaming. We now know the identity of one of those lucky lottery winners. Idaho lottery officials say Holly Lahti -- I think I'm pronouncing the name right -- has won $190 million. She is one of two winning ticket holders. The other one in Washington state, and they've already come forward to claim their prize.

BLITZER: Ninety million dollars.


BLITZER: Not to shabby. Thanks. Congratulations to both of them. One year after an earthquake levied Haiti's capital, CNN is now back on the scene of the devastation. We're taking you to the capital to see what, if anything, has changed since then. That report next.


BLITZER: One year ago today, a massive earthquake killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti. Now in Port-au-Prince, the capital, displaced Haitians still live in tents beside the remains of the presidential palace.

Nearby, a woman prays at a gathering to honor those who lost their lives. At the site of the cathedral, people walk over rubble to attend a church service. And outside the capital, a man walks by a memorial to people buried in a mass grave.

A special set of "Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.

You may remember CNN reported on a young girl named Kimberly. When her life was in danger, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, performed emergency surgery on her. Now one year later, Sanjay has returned to find her and to see what's going on. Like Haiti, Kimberly's story is about both collapse and recovery.


GUPTA (voice-over): January 18, 2010, we got a call: "Come quickly." A 12-year-old girl broken by the rubble, cement embedded in her brain. The U.S. military asked me to help.

A month later, we received word that Kimberly is alive, doing well and, in fact, ready to go home. It was time for a follow-up visit, a house call.

(on camera) We expected her father to actually come here, meet us for this reunion. But we're told he didn't have enough money to get transportation to come down to this port. So instead, the rescue worker who helped rescue Kimberly is going to come and collect her and take her back to her father.

(voice-over) Kimberly was healed. It was so good to see that smile aboard the world class USS Comfort." Just a typical 12-year- old, showing off all the new toys that she's received.

Truth is, I wish I could end the story right here. But that would be unfair to Kimberly and thousands more like her.

(on camera) This is part of what happens here in Haiti. You know, Kimberly obviously is doing well medically. But now this is really about the rest of her life and what's going to happen to her, how she recovers from all this.

They used to have a home. Now they don't. He used to have a job. Now he doesn't.

(voice-over) What you're looking at was her new home, her recovery room. Confusion sets in. Her eyes shift with the tragic realization. You see, because she's been in the hospital the last month, she doesn't even remember the quake. The quake that she now learns took away her home, her sister, her mother.

This was a remarkable day for Kimberly, full of moments like this.

But the image I'm left with is this one. A young girl with a brain operation struggling to recover in a place, in a country so devastated.

A year later, I had no idea what to expect or even where to find her. We ended up finding her living here, in temporary housing in Port-au-Prince. We could tell right away she'd gained weight. And those painful reminders of what had happened a year ago, well, they had healed.

She's making progress in other ways, as well. She's now one of the 50 percent of Haitian children attending school. Her goal: to be a doctor and help save kids.

Today, Kimberly is optimistic about her future. And after we saw her, so are we.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


BLITZER: The president of the United States, by the way, has now left University Hospital, is on his way to the memorial service. Our extensive -- extensive coverage will continue.


BLITZER: We all take ATMs for granted, but cash isn't the only thing these machines are dispensing. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a "Most Unusual" look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After this report, you may think ATM stands for automated toilet machines. ATMs aren't just flush with money; they're flush with bacteria. Take it from a microbiologist.

RICHARD HASTINGS, BIOCOTE MICROBIOLOGIST: The ATM, the PIN pad were as contaminated as public toilets.

MOOS: In a British study, ATM keypads and toilet seats were swabbed. The amount and type of bacteria found were comparable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are people using these ATMs? Are they sitting on the keypad?

MOOS: Actually, it's just bad hygiene leading to dirty fingers contaminating the keypad. (on camera) ATMs have as much bacteria as a toilet seat.

UNIDENTIFIED FE MALE: Oh, that's gross.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my gosh, that's crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I find it hard to believe actually.


MOOS (on camera): You do?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

MOOS (voice-over): The bacteria on keypads won't kill you, though theoretically, they could make you sick.

The study, by the way, was done by a company with an obvious conflict called BioCote. BioCote makes anti-microbial coatings that can be manufactured into products like keypads.

(on camera) But you don't watch your hands after every use of an ATM?

HASTINGS: No, that's impractical, but I do before meals.

MOOS (voice-over): Still, those using ATMs...

(on camera) Would you like a wipe?


MOOS (voice-over): ... didn't turn us down once they heard about the findings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll take one of those.

MOOS: Some folks already take defensive measures to avoid touching.

(on camera) You use your credit card?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I use my credit card.

MOOS: You're kidding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think about these things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knuckle punch. MOOS: Yes, well, we can do better than that. Though banks might not appreciate our ATM anti-germ couture.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I ask what you're doing with the ATMs?

MOOS (on camera): I'm doing a story on a British study about ATMs being as contaminated as toilet seats.

(voice-over) Imagine the surveillance camera footage. And you know those toilet seat covers? They might just work if you want to sanitize your ATM.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos. Thank you, Jeanne.

Remember, in about one hour, I'll be back, along with John King. He's in Tucson. We'll have special coverage of tonight's memorial service. It's called, "The Memorial: The Tragedy in Tucson." You're looking at live pictures. People are gathering there. We expect a full house. Thousands are gathered. The president of the United States will be speaking, as well. Our coverage begins in one hour.

That's it for me right now. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.