Return to Transcripts main page


Iran, West Blame Each Other for Nuke Talk Breakdown; Bill Clinton Says Obama Should Keep Insurance Pledge; Woman Saves Baby, Loses Husband in Typhoon; Rows of Bodies on the Streets; Philippines Disaster; Airline Merger

Aired November 12, 2013 - 12:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Horrific stories of families torn apart by this storm. This mother was able to save her baby, but lost her husband.


HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today. We'd also like to welcome our viewer, not just here in the U.S. but around the world.

MALVEAUX: Desperation intensifying across the Philippines. We are talking about this, and it is hard to even imagine this, but there are bodies that are rotting in the streets, they are floating in the sea. There is water, food, medical supplies that is not reaching those who are in most need.

HOLMES: Yes, a lot of controversy starting to build about that. And now there's another storm on its way that's affecting -- like they needed rain in this part of the world. And there was an earthquake, too. All of this just days after Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged cities, towns and villages from one Philippine island to the next. Andrew Stevens reports now from the hard hit city of Tacloban.


ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More misery on the ground as some relief efforts are halted overnight when yet another storm hit the devastated city of Tacloban. The strongest typhoon on record struck days ago, leaving behind a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the only survivor of the family and I want to know then (ph) if they are still alive.

STEVENS: From the sky, miles of destruction as far as the eye can see. While on the ground, rows of lifeless bodies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only one missing is my eldest daughter. I hope she's alive. And we're hoping.

STEVENS: Pews of a church chapel now filled with the dead. Inside, a mother weeps over the loss of her son. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've experienced a lot of typhoon, but this is the worst thing.

STEVENS: The living cover their noses and mouths because the stench is unbearable. As they search for their loved ones, a young student cries for her mother. "I'm still hear in Tacloban," she says, "and I'm still alive."

Hundreds of thousands are now fighting for survival.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I must go out of this city.

STEVENS: The few hospitals still functioning are overwhelmed, leaving the injured with nowhere to go.

JOSE L. CUISIA JR., PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: The president of the Philippines has declared a state of national calamity.

STEVENS: In need of food and water, residents write signs of inspiration in hope that someone will see.

ROSELDA SUMAPIT, VICTIM: We don't have enough water. Even though we are not sure that it is clean and safe, we still drink for it because we need to survive.

STEVENS: The warden of this local city jail says they ran out of food. The inmates threatened a mass breakout as one stands on the roof of the prison ready to jump. Haiyan victims dangerously take gas as transportation out of the destruction is vital for their survival. Thousands uncertain of when aid will reach them.

STEVENS: And here at the airport, the lights have been turned on for the first time, which means that this can now effectively become a 24- hour operation to get more supplies in. More supplies which are so desperately needed, not just here, but right across this province.


MALVEAUX: And the president of the Philippines is now telling CNN he thinks the death toll is likely closer to 2,000 rather than 10,000, which was the initial estimate. But as we know, these things are very confusing and it's -


MALVEAUX: The numbers are not certain. We still don't know really.

HOLMES: There are still places they haven't checked out.

What we do know is that 2 million people are in need of food and water. Something like 11 million are impacted in some way or other. Now, the Philippines is made up of thousands of islands. There's more than 7,000. Two thousand are inhabited. So even calculating the damage and the loss across all of those places, not to mention getting crucial aid to survivors, well, it's a logistical nightmare.

MALVEAUX: Ivan Watson is in the Philippines city of Cebu.

And, Ivan, first of all, what is it going to take to get this aid to the people there, because Michael and I have been talking about this and we're talking about five days in at this point. If you don't have food or water, I mean things are going to get pretty desperate and you're going to see more and more people dying.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And with torrential downpours periodically that we were caught in here, I mean if you can imagine there's no shelter for these people when the rains come storming in. Now, it's interesting that Andrew Stevens was saying, hey, we think that the lights will come on at the airport at that broken city and it can be a 24-hour aid operation.

But look behind me here. This C-130 Philippine air force transport plane is not flying right now because the air force at this base, which is the main logistical hub for moving aid to that broken city of Tacloban, they are only flying there from dawn till dusk saying the lights haven't been turned on and they can't make these critical aid deliveries.

Now, when the planes come back, we've seen them met on the tarmac by ambulances carrying some of the wounded evacuees from the storm zone. And I asked an air force spokesman about this. Take a listen.


LT. COL. MARCIANO JESUS GUEVARA, PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE: There are about a thousand victims, but we have to sort the victims accordingly like the much needed medical treatment for elderly and children and as well as the stranded victims in the area.


WATSON: That's tough work prioritizing who needs -- who is the biggest emergency and can be flown out of the area. Again, a state of national calamity, according to the president here. And just a very difficult situation all around.

One final fact for you. The Philippines air force, they tell me they only have three -- three of these planes over my shoulder, these C-130 transport planes, to carry this assistance in. They're starting to mobilize navy ships that can carry far more payloads of urgent assistance, but this is a -- just a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Suzanne. Michael.

HOLMES: Ivan, a couple of quick points. You know, we've cut a lot of slack, of course, because the logistical difficulties, as you and our team there have been reporting, are enormous to get aid in there. But at some point, are questions being asked about -- this is becoming a bit of a screw-up? You get - it's nearly five days in, you've got people not getting water. And when you look at a place like Tacloban, what's left for people to stay there anyway?

WATSON: Absolutely. I mean anybody with any sanity, having seen that place, would want to just get out. And that's why there are hoards of people at the shattered airport, some of them desperate to try to get out. The roads, we're hearing from aid workers, what should be a one- hour trip by car to that city, more like 12 hours and it involves a great deal of walking.

And, of course, the biggest defense for the Philippine government is the fact that the first responders, even the military in Tacloban, they were victims, too. The commander of the air force squadron there I'm told was swept out to sea and showed up some 10 miles down the coast across the bay and is now in a hospital after he had to talk back. So there are airport workers that were killed. There are ambulance workers that were casualties. And that is part of what is slowing this down.

There is international aid coming in. I've seen Taiwanese C-130s coming in here and even the U.S. Navy scrambling, if you will, an entire aircraft carrier to try to bring some more logistical might to what is just the beginning of a relief operation.

HOLMES: It seems incredible that some of those most basic necessities aren't getting there yet.

Ivan, appreciate your reporting. Ivan Watson there in Cebu, part of our large team covering this.

MALVEAUX: And one of the things that's happening is that these survivors, they're taking a second and third hit because there was a 4.8 magnitude earthquake that actually happened. This was in San Isidro. And now you've got a tropical depression that is also making its way across the sea.

Want to bring in Chad Myers in the Weather Center because, Chad, I mean we bring up a point here is, where are these people going to go? Where is it safe? Are they ever going to be able to return to their own homes here? There's more bad weather on the way.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There are many homes, if not half of them, that don't exist. They're in splinters. There's not even left -- there's nothing left. There's not foundations. And there was tens of thousands of people that lived in these shanty towns. And that's a bad name. It's a boat, literally, it's a houseboat that lives along a pier and all of those boats were just smashed and thrown onto the shore. I have pictures of them. I'll show you that in a little bit.

Here's Tacloban right here. Here's the low. This is Zoraida, Tropical Depression Zoraida. Now it is moving off toward the west and to the northwest. But every time a little rain band comes in, Tacloban gets rain. Like they need that.

And yesterday, last night, we were here, standing here waiting for Anderson Cooper to arrive in Tacloban, and there was a large rain shower and he couldn't land. And so these -- all these other people can't land either. All of these things that we're trying to get in, all of this equipment getting in here, there's Tacloban right there. This is the radar. I just found this Philippine radar. It's amazing. Right there, that would be the air strip. So they can fly around this. The problem is, you don't have instruments. This isn't like an IFR airport anymore. You don't - you can't just land in a fog or in rain showers. If it's low clouds, you need the visual flight rules to be able to see that airport, to see that runway, to get that plane on the ground. This is not helping.

HOLMES: Yes. Chad, thanks so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

HOLMES: Yes, this, for our American viewers too, you've got to bear in mind, this is the storm that's three and a half times the size of Katrina. Chad, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

MALVEAUX: We're following breaking news out of Washington. Rene Marsh has the latest details. This is about an airline merger. It is significant because it really will create more competition potentially, which means better airfares for all of us traveling here.

What's the - what are the details that the Justice Department is outlining here in terms of the merger?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVT. REGULATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne and Michael, we're talking about the American Airlines and U.S. Airways merger. That deal was announced just moments ago, minutes ago. And really what this does is, it creates the world's largest airline.

So here are the details. We know that the two airlines, as a part of this deal that was struck allowing this merger to move forward, they have to sell slots at seven major U.S. airports. We're talking about airports in places like New York, New York's LaGuardia Airport, Miami, Reagan National Airport here in the Washington, D.C. area. And if you remember originally, the Department of Justice, they filed this lawsuit to block this merger.

It's an $11 billion merger. And they filed to block it simply because they thought that the merger would lead to bad news for consumers. They thought it would mean higher ticket prices. They thought it would mean fewer options. So the heart of this deal really came down to these two airlines giving up some of their landing and takeoff slots at these major airports.

Let's take Reagan National, for example, right here in Washington, D.C. According to the Department of Justice, if this merger went through as they wanted it to originally, they would have had the combined airline 69 percent control over that particular airport. That's a large amount to control here. So as a part of this deal, again, here at Reagan, they will have to sell off some of those slots. So you have your airlines like a JetBlue, they'll be able to come in and buy up some of these slots.

The bottom line here is they don't want to lose that competition. They didn't want it to be a situation in which the consumer loses. So the headline here, DOJ and these two airlines have reached a deal. They will move forward with this merger, American Airlines and U.S. Airways.

HOLMES: And, Rene, that was the big fear initially when they tried to block this was that there would be less competition, that consumers would pay more for airfares. Now what they're saying here is, you've got to give up those slots, give them to some low cost airlines perhaps and that might broaden competition. That's what they're saying.

MARSH: Absolutely because what you don't want -- when you think about those takeoff and landing slots, that's real estate. Look at that as real estate. And if you have, you know, the majority of these takeoff and landing slots at a specific airport, that translates to money. You are entitled to land and take off at a very specific slot. So if you monopolize that, then the fear is there's less competition. So what they want to do, bottom line is, is to create lots of options for the consumer.

HOLMES: All right.

MALVEAUX: So, Rene, what would it look like then? I mean how does it look differently at the airports? You know, we're travelers. We travel all the time. A lot of people are wondering, how is this going to impact them? Does it mean lower fares, more options?

MARSH: You know, it really depends on who you speak to because there are two schools of thought here. You know, there's one school of thought which says that, you know, if this merger happens, that it would not have had a bad impact on consumers. Those were people who were for the merger. They used prices for tickets looking at the history of ticket prices throughout the years because, as we know, the airline industry, we've seen merger after merger after merger. And so the people who were for this merger said, look, when you look at the numbers, it didn't drastically shoot up as it relates to ticket prices for consumers.

But then you had another school of thought, people who say, look, if you have two major airlines that are going to combine -


MARSH: That will mean perhaps there's not a need for a hub where there was once a hub. U.S. Airways as a hub.


MARSH: American Airlines has a hub in a certain area. You might lose one of those. If you lose a hub, that might mean you lose options as a consumer. So two schools of thought. Short answer is, we have to wait and see.


MALVEAUX: All right. HOLMES: Either way, world's biggest airline coming up likely. Rene Marsh, thanks so much.

MALVEAUX: Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

Families ripped apart by the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. This woman held her baby above her head just to keep him alive. But she lost her husband and many other loved ones.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). We can survive this too (ph). It's very traumatic. It's very hard.


HOLMES: The U.S. and Iran pointing fingers at each other after those nuclear negotiations broke down. Ahead, we're going to look at whether this means tougher sanctions on Iran.


MALVEAUX: A lot of finger-pointing under way after Iran and world powers failed to reach an agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Jim Sciutto reports on this blame game from both sides, and these were high stake talks.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Secretary Kerry says an interim deal on Iran's nuclear program was extremely close, but in the end, the Iranians walked away.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There was unity. But Iran couldn't take it. At that particular moment, they weren't able to accept that particular agreement.

SCIUTTO: That didn't sit well with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif, who fired back a different version of events via Twitter, where he pointed the finger firmly at the west.

"Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of the U.S. draft Thursday night," he tweeted, "and publicly commented against it Friday morning?" The missives came after signs this weekend of a split between the French and everyone else, the French insisting on more concessions from Iran.

This is just the latest attempt by Iran and the West to forge an agreement to get Iran to abandon its effort to build a nuclear bomb, something the Iranians have never admitted they're doing, while allowing Tehran a peaceful nuclear program.

For their part, the Iranians are motivated to get out from the economic sanctions that have crippled their economy. If there's no agreement, Iran and the West may be facing the prospect of war. AARON DAVID MILLER, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: If you drift even with sanctions in an effort diplomatically over the next several months, you're going to lead to one basic conclusion, which is some sort of military strike.

SCIUTTO: Talks resume later this month, but this latest delay gives opponents, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, time to mobilize against any deal with Iran.


MALVEAUX: And Jim Sciutto. joining us from Washington, so, Jim, tomorrow we're going to see Secretary of State John Kerry testifying on the Hill to talk about why those talks did not actually happen, why they were not successful. And covering Bush, you know, there was never any kind of optimism that they would work. This was very different. I mean, people believed that they could possibly get a deal.

How does he explain this? What is he going to say?

SCIUTTO: It's going to be closed-door meetings, and it may be difficult for him to say because there are two competing narratives out there. The Iranians say it was the West who balked here, that they were very close. Secretary Kerry says, no, we were unified, and it was the Iranians who balked.

But the trouble with that story is that you had some members of the P5-plus-1, this is the permanent five members of the Security Council plus Germany, speaking out in public with their criticisms, namely the French foreign minister, Fabius, saying that he thought the initial outlines of the agreement weren't tough enough.

So with that kind of disagreement, it's difficult. It poses a problem going forward because all the people who were there in Geneva are ones we think are on the side of a diplomatic solution to this problem.

Then you have the others who are much more skeptical, Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, and some hawks on the Hill here in Washington, that includes some Democrats, as well. So he's got a lot of squares to circle, not just in explaining how the deal fell apart, but how he can keep it alive for the next step.

HOLMES: Yeah, and let's talk about the next step, Jim. You know, despite Israel, despite those hawks, there is an open door of sorts here that they want to explore further.

How far apart are they? And will the next round perhaps close that gap?

SCIUTTO: It doesn't seem like they were that far apart, and that's why we had this excitement over the weekend, right up till the 11th hour on Saturday when diplomats in Geneva seemed to be indicating they were close to something here.

The disagreements, where do he this come down to? One of the biggest is on Iran's right to enrichment. It's understood that they agreed only to limit up to -- to enrich up to a certain level, five percent, which is several steps below weapons grade.

But you do have a camp outside of those Geneva talks, including the Israelis, including some lawmakers here in the U.S., who think Iran should enrich nothing.

And as you mentioned, there is a window here. Iran is suffering under sanctions. And the case that Secretary Kerry and others make is, listen, let's exploit this window to see if there is a diplomatic solution here. Let's not close it off before we even see how far it could go.

HOLMES: All right. Yeah, a lot of people worried, too, that if the moderates in Iran don't come back with some sort of agreement, it's going to embolden the hard-liners in Iran, as well, which really helps no one.

Jim, wish we had more time. We'll talk more about this (inaudible).

MALVEAUX: And former President bill Clinton, a big supporter of Obamacare, he is now saying that the president, President Obama, should let people keep their current insurance. And this is in reference, of course, to the president's pledges that people can go ahead and keep their current health plan if they like them.

I want to bring in Jim Acosta from the White House to talk a little bit about this. And, Jim, if the former president, Bill Clinton, is weighing in on this, I imagine that says something very much that this is political.

This is a political hot potato.


MALVEAUX: This means something here, that he is weighing in and he's weighing in on this side saying, look, you know what? I think they need to do this.

Why is this so important?

ACOSTA: That's right. Yeah, this White House can no longer, Suzanne, say it's just the Republicans who want to scuttle Obamacare, who want to repeal it and not replace it with anything else.

It's now Democrats inside the party, close to the president, very important high-profile Democrats who are saying, 'Hey, wait a minute, this is not working the way it's rolling out right now, and something has to be done to fix it.'

And perhaps there is no bigger Democrat who is saying that at this point than Bill Clinton who gave an interview to a little known website called, or, I'm not sure how to pronounce it. It's, and it's run by Carlos Watson, who's a former Democratic strategist.

And during that interview, Bill Clinton says that the president who kept -- who made that pledge, if you like your plan, you should keep it, ought to keep that pledge and perhaps the law should be changed to allow Americans who are now losing coverage as a result of the fact that their plans are not complying with Obamacare, that those American should be able to keep their plans.

Here's what the president -- the former president, I should say -- had to say.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STTES: So I personally believe, even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they've got.


ACOSTA: And now the president, former President Clinton, did not just basically go after the president during this interview. I don't think you can characterize those comments as such.

And actually, earlier in the interview, Suzanne and Michael, the former president does say that there are reasons why the implementation of Obamacare is not going well.

He talks about the website, the problems with the website, compares that to Medicare Part D's roll-out, the drug prescription drug plan that was rolled out for seniors under former President George W. Bush. That also had some implementation issues, and also the expansion of Medicaid not going to all 50 states.

There are some Republican governors who are blocking it in their states, the former President Bill Clinton saying that's another interview why you're having some issues with Obamacare. But very interesting to note.

And just in the last hour, Dick Durbin, top Democrat in the Senate under Harry Reid, very close to President Obama, actually encouraged Barack Obama, as you know, Suzanne, to run for president, just told Ashleigh Banfield in the last hour with respect to that pledge, if you like your plan, you should keep it, Dick Durbin told Ashleigh, perhaps a couple of sentences should have been tacked onto the end of that pledge.

To have that come from Dick Durbin, I think is also very significant, guys.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely, Jim. Thank you so much.

He makes a very good point here. They're all looking at 2016, and if this is something where it is harmful to the Democrats, where if they hang onto that pledge and they hang onto the president, they're not going to do well.

And the Republicans are really trying to capitalize off that at this moment.

HOLMES: Absolutely.

And to your point, too, Bill Clinton has been stumping for Obamacare. If he comes out and says this, that is politically significant.

We're going to take a break here on AROUND THE WORLD. We'll be right back.


MALVEAUX: There are many unbelievable stories of survival in the Philippines. It is really incredible.

Imagine this, to protect yourself and your children from a 16-foot wall of water roaring ashore. This is all pushed by winds in excess of 200-miles-per-hour.

HOLMES: Unbelievable.

MALVEAUX: Paula Hancocks, she talked to a mother who did just that, rescued her baby, but lost her husband.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Eleventh-month-old Anthony is blissfully unaware how lucky he is to be alive.

During the storm, Jenelyn Manacsoc sat her son on her head to keep him above the water-level while she held onto the roof rafters.

JENELYN MANOSOC, TYPHOON SURVIVOR: All I hear, many cry, many people crying, many people saying, "Help me! Help!"