Return to Transcripts main page


Warning: We Have One Week To Save Them; Anguished Search For Missing Loved Ones; Obama's Latest Obamacare Challenge: Bill Clinton; Drug Recommended for Millions of Americans; Rob Ford Bobbleheads

Aired November 12, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jake, thanks you. Happening now, a new warning that time may be running out for the typhoon survivors if they don't get food and supplies very soon. CNN is live in the disaster zone and the first news organization to visit ground zero of the storm.

Plus, Bill Clinton puts more pressure on the president over Obamacare, urging him to keep his promise to the American people. This hour, the fallout and the White House responds.

And surprising new medical guidelines on cholesterol levels. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains what you need to know to keep your heart healthy.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour with the crisis in the Philippines which is growing more desperate by the hour four days after the most powerful typhoon on record. A U.S. general on the ground is warning that many more people could be dead within a week if food and other aid don't get to where they're needed the most and soon. The Philippine president tells CNN he now expects the final death toll to be around 2,500.

That's far lower than an earlier estimate from officials of some 10,000, but it's still way too early to tell with the bodies in the streets and the communications still very slow or simply out all together. The U.S. government says two Americans are among the dead.

CNN's Paula Hancocks and Anna Coren there in the disaster zone for us. Anna, let's go to you first. You traveled to the area where the typhoon first hit the Philippines. Tell us what you saw.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We traveled with the military to Guiuan, an east in the Samar province, which as you say, is the first township to have been hit by super typhoon Haiyan. As we flew over, everything, every single structure, had been flattened. As we came into the airfield, these giant palm trees, every single one of them snapped which gives you an idea of the power of this storm.

We were on the ground, Wolf, some 20 minutes delivering aid, basic supplies that they so desperately need, food and bottled water. But, you know, really it's just a drop in the ocean. There are some 50,000 people in that town, and perhaps, these supplies would help out a couple of hundred families for several days. So, this is how desperate it is.

We met with some of the local residents and they said that they are all homeless, that they're staying under erected makeshift shelters that they've managed to salvage from debris from their home. So, it is a dire situation on the ground. They say they need help and they need it now.

BLITZER: Is the military there where you are, Anna, overwhelmed by the challenges they face?

COREN: Most definitely, Wolf. I think that goes without saying. I mean, this is a huge, huge operation that is under way. And really, the Philippines military has only a small handful of C-130 Hercules, these military cargo planes that can get aid out. The problem with this operation is logistics. We know that the Philippines is made up thousands of islands so the only way to get there is either by boat, which is extremely slow or by air.

These roads have been washed out. Airfields have been washed out. So, you know, they have to move debris so that it becomes accessible. Communications is also a huge problem. When we were in Guiuan, we met the local mayor and he said that they haven't been in touch with the government, with authorities for the entire time since the typhoon hit.

So, this is what these people are facing and they desperately need this aid to get there, but it's a very slow process, and here at the Cebu airfield, there's a lot of activity. There are many more planes that are coming in. There's certainly lots of aid that's piled up around the tarmac, but, you know, it's getting that aid on to these planes, shipping it out and then turning around and doing exactly the same thing.

The people here say they need more resources and they need more aid. They need more help to get these basic necessities on the ground.

BLITZER: And the clock is clearly ticking. If they don't get that aid out there quickly, more people will no doubt die. Anna, we'll get back to you shortly.

The Philippine government says more than two million people desperately need food aid right now. Many of them pregnant women, new mothers, and children. CNN's Paula Hancocks has been talking to the families who are struggling after the storm. She's joining us live from the scene. What are you hearing, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hundreds of those people are sitting right here at the airport. One just came and said to me she's been waiting here for two days with her young children and still has no idea when she'll be allowed out. They're calling for more military planes to get them out of here. They're calling for more commercial planes to help them.

This is fast turning into a mass humanitarian air lift. And at the moment, there simply aren't enough planes to get the people out. And of course, those that desperately want to get out, are the ones with small and vulnerable children.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Eleven-month-old Antony is blissfully unaware how lucky he is to be alive. During the storm, Jenelyn Manocsoc sat her son on her head to keep him above the water level while she held on to the roof rafters.

JENELYN MANOCSOC, TYPHON SURVIVOR: All I hear, many cry, many people crying. Many people say help, help.

HANCOCKS: She lost her husband and many other relatives.

MANOCSOC: No. I don't know where we go. (INAUDIBLE) It's very traumatic. It's very hard.

HANCOCKS: Thousands are trying to take their children away from the devastation and the worsening security situation. Jovelyn Dy had twin boys three weeks ago. She's too terrified to stay.

JOVELYN DY, TYPHOON SURVIVOR: -- and there are some people inside their house, looters, and they could harm my children and us as well.

HANCOCKS (on-camera): But in the midst of all this pain, there was one ray of hope in this makeshift hospital.

(voice-over) A baby girl was born Monday in the most challenging of circumstances. Her mother, Emily Sagales (ph), was brought in by neighbors. Pregnant women are currently evacuated to give birth, but Sagales was too close.

CAPT. ANTONIO TAMAYO, PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE: The baby came out, cried right away, there wasn't any problems. So -- there was no bleeding. It was a perfect delivery in a very imperfect environment.

HANCOCKS: Once the baby was born the entire hospital applauded. A baby named Bea Joy bringing relief in the midst of such intense human suffering.


HANCOCKS (on-camera): Now, luckily, the runway is still functional here at this airport which means supplies can be brought in, but as you can see behind me, Wolf, the devastation is here at the airport just like it is everywhere else. The storm surge reached the second floor here. All the buildings were completely blasted through.

There's a small amount of roof still on some of these buildings which is where everyone is sheltering under, and the people you can see over there, are the remnants of those waiting to get on one of those planes. Thousands of people have been through here desperate to leave this devastation behind them -- Wolf

BLITZER: There are so many bodies along the roads there that we've seen in the video, Paula. Are these bodies being collected?

HANCOCKS: I was surprised at that. On day five, you'd expect that most of the bodies that can be collected would have been collected and the search would be ongoing at this point to find those deceased who are actually trapped within the rubble. This is, of course, a very serious health concern. When I spoke to the mayor on Tuesday and asked him about this, and he said it's basically a mammoth task and it is one that they are struggling with. They are carrying out the very grim task of digging mass graves at this point in an area near here.

They have 244 bodies they've recovered, 600 they know about, but still haven't had the chance to recover. And they're only able to recover 70 a day, he says, because the logistical nightmare is just too difficult, the communications of when people know they have someone that they would like to be taken away, who do they call? They can't. There are no communications.

And the lack of organization in that respect is very upsetting for people. Many of these victims have come up to me and said please ask officials to take the bodies away. They have been out for many days. The smell is quite overpowering some areas of the town. And remember, people are still trying to survive in the rubble of their home very close to where these bodies are -- Wolf.

BLITZER: As you know, we've heard all these stories of looting and violence. What's the security situation like where you are?

HANCOCKS: Well, when you talk to the Philippines military, they say there is no problem with the security. They say it's all absolutely fine. They have many boots on the ground within the city itself, hundreds of security personnel, military police, they have police checkpoints on the road down to Tacloban as well. But when you talk to people who are coming from the city, they say, some of them say they're leaving because of the security situation.

They say that those gangs that were looting shops, and of course, you can understand desperate people do desperate things. They are trying to steal food and water, but it's gone beyond that. Some people talk of taking away plasma televisions even though they may not have a house or electricity, or taking away a washing machine.

And we are hearing reports that they are now going into residential homes as opposed to just shops. So, this is also a reason we're seeing a great influx of people coming here to the airport and desperate to get out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Paula Hancocks on the scene for us. Thank you, Paula, for that report.

Up next, the painful search for the dead. We're hearing from personal stories, some major personal stories from families who had to face the worst.

Also, a U.S. general on the ground in the Philippines shares his own frustration. He wants to get help to storm survivors faster. You're going to find out what he's doing to try to make that happen. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Some typhoon survivors in the Philippines still are searching for missing loved ones, four or even five days after the storm hit, and at this point, they now know they're more likely to find them dead than alive.

Let's bring in our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh. He's on the ground for us. Nick, you've been speaking with a lot of the residents in Tacloban over there in the Philippines, the hardest hit area. What are they saying to you?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, dawn has come this morning, we've seen some airplanes arriving, but it hasn't really given people the sense of hope they need here. We went into town as dusk fell last night and began sort of see what is left of that city. A very eerie place at night. People living in the abandoned skeletons of buildings.

One man we came across along the side of the road facing an almost impossible task. A dog had left him and some rescuers who where they believed his son was. They dug up his son's body and as we got there, they'd also found his daughter. But unfortunately for him, they still had to locate the mother of those two children, his ex-wife. This man clearly distraught. This is what he had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have home. We lost our homes and we have nothing to eat. We really need help now. I hope you're watching and you see us on TV.


WALSH: Sorry for the technical issue there. That's actually a woman we spoke to in a neighbor building who was quite clear, they feel abandoned here. They feel the water they're getting is contaminated. Their children are getting sick. The food is not arriving at the scale people need to have any kind of hope or sustenance here and that town, really, in many ways, a ghost town when we saw it last night -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nick, you covered a lot of these humanitarian disasters over the years. Certainly, there's millions of people in need right now throughout the area. Are Philippine officials, are they capable of doing what they need to do? Because there seems to be a sense that a lot of them are overwhelmed by what's going on right now four or five days into this crisis.

WALSH: I tell you, Wolf, it is just a remarkable place to witness. I mean, the airport where I'm standing now already in many ways, the smell of decay, a real sense of people leaving that town, fleeing for their lives, getting on any craft that will take them out. As you say, the question is how ready is the Philippine government?

The U.S. military trying to assist here in many ways, but it isn't really making a dent on the scale of the need here and I think really, once the weather subsides and an excuse (ph) because it's still been pretty bad here in terms of getting ferries and planes to actually arrive, then we'll see the real test if the government is able to look after their people here.

But you got to ask yourself, Wolf, looking at a town like this just so widely flattened, you have to ask where exactly can they even start the task of rebuilding -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much for that report. We'll get back to you.

Let's get an update now on the humanitarian crisis in the Philippines. Christopher De Bono is the regional communications advisor for UNICEF. He's joining us via Skype from Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

You've sent us some remarkable pictures, Christopher. We're going to share some of them with our viewers right now. But the children right now, there are so many children who are in desperate need of food, water, medicine. What's going on?

CHRISTOPHER DE BONO, UNICEF REGIONAL COMMUNICATION ADVISER: OK, Wolf, yes, there are. There are lots of children whose lives are dependent on us getting support in as quickly as we possibly can at the moment. What's going on? I think the scale of this disaster struck everyone by surprise to some extent. We knew it was coming. Nobody quite was able to anticipate it.

There are people who said it's the largest of these storms to hit populated landfall ever. And for the first couple days, the focus was very intensely on trying to get the routes open, that we need open in order to get the aid in. That took a long time. I don't think that's anyone's fault. I think it's the geography and the devastation, all the airports were closed. (INAUDIBLE)

I had heard last night others were opening up. By the time the routes were reopened, including the road from Cebu, people were so desperate that they flooded out and the roads that have been opened for the aid to go in were, in effect, blocked by desperate people trying to get out. Completely understandable but also, you know, redoubling the problem of trying to get stuff in.

But yesterday, there was a little glimmer of hope for us. I understand that that's not a glimmer of hope for the people on the ground who are still waiting for assistance, but we started to get aid moving. And I think the big test will be today, now the door is open for the aid to get in there. It's a very small door, but I think the big test today is how much we're able to get in and how we're able to help people.

BLITZER: Christopher, you sent us a picture of some destroyed homes. There's some bad weather and maybe more bad weather on the way. Do people have the shelter right now they need to survive this?

DE BONO: No, they don't. Some (INAUDIBLE) I think 60,000 food packages, toilets are going in because of course we're worried about particularly the impact on children of cholera and typhus. The toilets and the water mix. But, you know, that's just not enough in the -- absolutely.

BLITZER: Because a lot of experts have told me they're really worried about a spread of disease now, a secondary disaster in the coming days that could really kill a whole bunch of people. I know you're worried about that, but give us some perspective.

DE BONO: It's a little hard for me to do so. We're at the stage now where I think we have a better understanding. I mean, I know late last night the president downgraded the death rate. I think that's a reflection of where we -- when I say we, I mean, the government aid workers and everyone who's trying to help here, have been able to actually finally get some sense beyond Tacloban City of what's happened.

But you know, yes, we always worry about the secondary wave. The sanitation systems have been destroyed and children are, of course, the most vulnerable to typhus and cholera, which is a common occurrence after these kind of disasters. All I can say to you is that everyone is working really hard and we're starting to see some progress.

BLITZER: Christopher De Bono joining us from Manila from UNICEF. Christopher, good luck to you. Good luck to all your colleagues. Good luck to everyone over there in the Philippines.

DE BONO: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

And this important note to our viewers. If you want to make a tax- deductible contribution to UNICEF's relief efforts, you can get information online. Go to and you can help. And I think that it's important that you do.

If you needed any more proof that this typhoon was a monster, look at this video of the storm. It was taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station. It's huge and it is a monster.

Coming up, the U.S. commander in the Philippines needing for one thing he says can bring relief to typhoon victims. We go live to the Pentagon with details of how the U.S. military is helping.

And the latest Obamacare critic, none other than Bill Clinton himself. You're going to find out what the former president wants changed.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they've got.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Obamacare under fire not only from the right, but increasingly, from some elements of the left. The former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, is now among the critics calling for change to the law. CNN's Joe Johns is working the story for us. He's joining us from the White House. Joe, what is Bill Clinton now saying about the Affordable Care Act?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is the week Obamacare watchers have been waiting for for a long time. First, the administration is expected to release hard numbers on people entering the exchanges. That number is expected to come in low, around 40,000 to 50,000 according to published reports, even as President Bill Clinton who knows something about health care himself, has now entered the fray.


JOHNS (voice-over): It's the signature catch phrase of Obamacare.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITES STATES: If you like your plan, keep your plan.

JOHNS: It turned out not to be true for a small percentage of the population, still, millions of Americans. Now, the Democrats' elder statesman, former President Clinton, in an interview with the new website, has joined calls for President Obama to honor his pledge.

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

JOHNS: Seizing the moment, the top Republican in the House quickly praised the former president in a statement. "I applaud President Clinton for joining the bipartisan call for President Obama to keep his promise to the American people." Rather than get into a tiff with the former president, White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said Mr. Clinton and the administration are on the same page.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has tasked his team with looking at a range of options as he said to make sure that nobody is put in a position where their plans have been canceled and they can't afford a better plan even though they'd like to have a better plan.

JOHNS: But Clinton isn't the only vocal Democrat. One of President Obama's biggest allies in the Senate made it sound like he was for fixing the law, too.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, (D) ILLINOIS: I think we need to look at the political reality. We need to be open to constructive changes to make this law work better.

JOHNS: Easier said than done. Republicans have proposed changes that Democrats view as poison pills, and a top veteran of the health care wars told CNN a legislative fix that the White House could stomach is almost out of the question given the political climate that the administration's only real choice was to do this by executive order. A point underscored by the Senate Republican leader only today who said the whole law needs to go.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MINORITY LEADER: This is a serious problem that the president and Congressional Democrats need to do something about. The obvious answer is repeal.


JOHNS (on-camera): Now, there's a lot of incentive for the administration to get moving on this. Fred Upton, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has his own proposal to preserve existing health plans which the administration says would undermine Obamacare. The question is how many Democrats would actually get behind that.

CNN's Dana Bash says she's talked to a senior Congressional Democratic source who says the longer this goes, the more Democrats you can expect to get behind the Upton plan -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Joe Johns at the White House, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, our CNN political commentators, David Frum and Cornell Belcher. Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

Cornell, look at this new Quinnipiac University poll on the president, on his handling his job as president, only 39 percent approve of the job the president is doing, 54 percent disapprove. In Quinnipiac, this is his lowest number since taking office.

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm not going to quibble with that poll. We can go back and forth with few and -- and go after for the poll numbers.


BELCHER: But the truth of the matter is, look, it's a pox (ph) on all Washington's, you know, house here because Washington isn't working. I've got to say that I think we, in the medias, we're sort of helping drive this. And this is a perfect example of this. We have created a tiff in the media. We have created a tiff between President Obama -

BLITZER: We created - Bill Clinton - how did we create -

BELCHER: You planted this tiff. Let me tell you how we created it. Give me a chance to explain to you how we created the tiff. We are reporting that Bill Clinton, what Bill Clinton is saying, which is in fact exactly what the president said at JBC (ph). He talked about how we should fix this and people wanted to keep their health care plans, we should work out a way to fix this.

This is not a tiff. There is no difference between where Bill Clinton is and where the president is on this. This is a creation of the media.


BLITZER: Hold on a second. Ron, go ahead.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't agree. If you look at literally what Bill Clinton said today, it is a little perplexing why he said it because if you follow exactly what he said, it would be dangerous not only for the health care plan, but also ultimately for Hillary Clinton. What Bill Clinton said today is people should be allowed to keep their current plans in the individual market.

The problem with that is the way the individual market works now, it essentially segregates out the people who are sick. That is the whole idea about pre-existing conditions. It's an overwhelmingly healthy market, and if you don't bring those people into the Obamacare plans, you have the risk they will be tilted too heavily toward the sick and -


BLITZER: One at a time. One at a time.

BROWNSTEIN: And that could endanger not only the Obama administration --

BLITZER: OK, hold on. Hold on. I'm going to let Cornell -


BLITZER: Cornell, hold on. Cornell, hold on -


BELCHER: This is what the president said. The president said we fixed -- help people keep insurance plans that they don't want to give up. That's what the president said. That's exactly what he said.

DAVID FRUM, : I'm going to speak here. I'm pulling rank because I'm one of those who has had his plan canceled. What President Clinton today said had the form of an English sentence but none of the content of an English sentence. It was gibberish.

I used to have -- or I still have but will not very much longer have -- a plan in the District of Columbia, covered myself and my wife and my three children for which I paid about $660 a month. That plan is canceled. Now, I can buy on the exchange a plan that will cost about $200 a month more and have a higher deductible.

I can't get back my old plan unless as Ron says, the administration drops the element of the law that requires the coverage of everybody. That's why my coverage went up is because every insurer must now cover everybody. I think President Clinton should have the honesty to defend that and say you know what? In order to include everybody, those people in the individual market are going to pay a lot more. Thirty percent more. And he should own that.


BLITZER: What President Clinton said basically that the president of the United States, President Obama, made a pledge, a commitment to the American people that he is not honoring anymore and have the decency in effect to honor what the president said on many occasions.

BELCHER: I want to -- again, I want to go back to the interview on NBC where he said if people, we have to fix this problem, people want to keep their health care insurance, they should be able to keep it. But this is -

FRUM: (INAUDIBLE) That's not possible.

BELCHER. But that's exactly right. That's why we're simplifying it. Part of the problem --

FRUM: And they knew it was not possible.

BELCHER: Part of the problem is if we allow people - and this is something, by the way, I wish we paid more attention to -- if we allowed people to keep their junk insurance plans that we know the industry sold them junk insurance plans. One woman said in an interview --

FRUM: My plan wasn't a junk insurance plan.

BELCHER: I think you might be an outlier. But one woman said quite frankly, what I have is a pray I don't get sick insurance plan. If we allow people to keep these junk insurance plans, we can't drive down cost.

BROWNSTEIN: Either way, the reality is the administration needs to move these people in the existing insurance individual market into the Obamacare system to balance out the sicker people who have been kept out of the current individual market.

BELCHER: Yes. That has to be done.

BROWNSTEIN: To the extent that Bill Clinton was saying they should be allowed to stay where they are, that is just forestalling the risk to Democrats because if you have only the sick coming into the new market, then the odds are high that the premiums will be higher next year than this year, and you have the risk of a downward spiral that endangers the whole thing. And that's why I question whether what he's ascribing is in the interests of Hillary Clinton. Because if she runs in 2016 and this is seen as a failure, she is not going to be able to levitate above that easily.

FRUM: When President Clinton says -- I agree if people who are happy with their plan should be allowed to keep it, you think, gee, that seems like a popular idea. Why didn't they do that from the beginning? And the reason they didn't do it from the beginning was because they couldn't. And of course, they knew that that is the core evil in Obamacare. It always - the core evil always included higher costs and it never -- the core defect, the core flaw, the thing on which it would snap, it had no cost control mechanisms but it made promises that were unsustainable without cost --

BROWNSTEIN: Let's not overstate. We are talking about the individual market, which is a very small percentage of the overall -


BROWNSTEIN: -- of the overall community that is health insurance. The fact is that health care costs are rising more slowly in the last few years, and there are a lot of efforts in the law to try to institutionalize those changes.


FRUM: -- in the individual market. But it is true in every market, you just don't see it.

BROWNSTEIN: No. In the employer market, it already works the way Obamacare envisions, which is I don't pay more than someone who is 25 at my company.

FRUM: But the costs will be higher. People will be dropped.


BLITZER: Cornell, wrap it up. Cornell, we are still talking about this individual market, anywhere from 10 to 15 million Americans who are affected by this.

BELCHER: Right, no. It is a sliver, but if you are one --

BLITZER: That's not a sliver. It's 10 to 15 million people. That's a lot of people.

BELCHER: But in the overall scheme of things, it is a sliver. But if you're one of those 10 to 15 million people, it does matter very much. But I think it's the forest and the trees. We are putting in a plan here where we will be able to cover for the first time in our history millions upon millions of Americans who get up every day, work very hard and go to bed with a nightmare that they are going to get sick and go bankrupt. I think that's a worthy thing to try to do.

BROWNSTEIN: But they have to get those people signed up. That's the answer to all of their problems, and they can't do it right now.

FRUM: The economics that driving the cost of the individual market are the same economics everywhere else. They're just concealed; they're just less visible. But what the Obamacare plan does it extends coverage, it covers more people, covers sicker people and it has no concept of how to control costs. So obviously, it is going to be more expensive for everybody.

BELCHER: It does if we bring healthy - younger, healthy people in. We do have to drive down costs. Status quo is not acceptable.

BLITZER: They got to bring those healthy, young people in. The first thing they have to do is fix that Web site. Let's hope they do fix that Web site.

Cornell, one final note. I have been around for a long time in Washington. Whenever they start blaming the news media for political problems, you know you're in trouble when the news media is responsible for all of the problems.

BELCHER: Channeling Sarah Palin today.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, guys. Good discussion.

Up next, an American general in the Philippines appeals to the Pentagon for help for typhoon victims. We have details of his dire warning.

Plus, new drug guidelines that will impact tens of millions of Americans. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is standing by with new information, information you need to know.


BLITZER: Getting some new information about U.S. military moves to help the typhoon survivors in the Philippines. Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. What are you learning, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at this hour, we are told two amphibious warships are sailing from their home port in Japan to Okinawa to pick up Marines and move on to the Philippines for typhoon relief. This will be a help effort there. They will carry the type of amphibious vehicles that can move through water, through debris. More Marines, more muscle power to get that aid out to these terribly stricken areas and get it able to be distributed by Philippine forces.

This is - you know, we talk about the race against time. They are trying to build up capacity. The next step in the next several hours we hear is that that airport at Tacloban should be open for 24-hour operations. They have been setting up lights and radars for nighttime around-the-clock all-weather ops. They are trying to get more aircraft into there as well. Everything they can do to try and lend a hand in this absolute disaster, Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, a U.S. general says aid teams may only have a week really to save a lot of these storm survivors, and the question is raised what do they need more? U.S. aircraft carrier with about 5,000 or 6,000 sailors and Marines heading there, or these smaller vessels and choppers, if you will, to deliver this kind of aid?

BLITZER: Well, officially, they are going to tell you they need everything. Put I spoke to General Paul Kennedy earlier today from the Philippines, the man in charge of the relief operation on the ground. He wants amphibious ships. He wants those smaller, that smaller capability as well to get into these tough areas.

What General Kennedy told me is the most desperate need right now, shelter, water and food, of course, and sanitation. He hasn't got time, he says, for people to start shipping in fancy portable toilets, to be blunt. He's got to figure out a way to burn waste, improve the sanitation on the ground, stop disease from emerging, get people shelter, if the rain continues, especially. And get them food, water and medical care. Hundreds of thousands of people in need. The U.S. military forces from around the world trying to lend a hand. But indeed, they are simply running out of time in this terrible, terrible situation, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara with the latest from the U.S. military. Thank you.

The Philippine government says at least 29 nations or international organizations have sent or pledged aid. Take a look at some top donations. $25 million from the United Nations. $20 million from the United States. $16 million from Britain, $10 million from the United Arab Emirates and $4 million from the European Union.

Up next, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta has some major medical news that could save a lot of lives. There are new drug guidelines affecting millions and millions of Americans. Information you need to know.

And coming up at the top of the hour, a SITUATION ROOM special report on the typhoon disaster. CNN's Anderson Cooper will join us live from the Philippines.


BLITZER: Major medical news. New guidelines recommending millions more Americans start taking what's already one of the most widely prescribed drugs. And chances are either you or someone you know is among them.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us now with details.

Sanjay, we're talking about statins. Statins are used to lower cholesterol. Tell our viewers what they need to know.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as one doctor put it to me today, a cardiologist, he was involved with the guidelines, this is sort of a tectonic shift in the way that we think about heart disease, in the way that doctors may prescribe medications for this.

It could simplify this idea of who needs these medications and who does not, but it could also double the number of people on them.


GUPTA (voice-over): If you've heard it once from your doctor, you've probably heard it a thousand times. Know your numbers, blood pressure should be 120/80 or less. Your BMI should be under 25. And how about your bad cholesterol level? That should be over 100.

But new guidelines released today by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology say that last number isn't so important any more. Why? They say regardless of what your numbers are in most cases, you might need to be on a cholesterol lowering statin drug.

DR. STEVEN NISSEN, CHAIR OF CARDIOLOGY, CLEVELAND CLINIC: The new guidelines greatly expand the number of Americans that would be eligible to receive statin drugs. We would estimate from about 36 million previously to as many as 72 million now.

GUPTA: So what are these new guidelines? The first two are simple. If you have heart disease you get an statin regardless of your cholesterol numbers. If you have diabetes, type 1 or type 2, you get a statin as well. The other two, a little bit more complicated. If you have genetically high cholesterol and your bad cholesterol is over 190, you're likely to get a prescription. And if you're between 40 and 75 and your 10-year risk of heart disease is over 7.5 percent, you're likely to get one, too.

Your doctors can help you figure out what your risk really is.

Now although statins do have some pretty significant side effects including muscle pain, weakness, soreness, Dr. Nissen says the benefits clearly outweighed the risks.

NISSEN: The most compelling evidence is that they prevent heart attack and probably stroke as well. The drugs that we use for treating cholesterol are safe. They do have adverse effects. But the serious adverse effects are uncommon.

GUPTA: Dr. Nissen's take is the new guidelines are finally catching up to the latest science on just how many lives could be impacted by these medications.


GUPTA: And I should point out, Wolf, that, you know, some of this data that leads to these guidelines has been out there for some time so people in the medical community have been looking at this. But the question is this. Will we actually lengthen lives as a result of taking these medications? The evidence really isn't clear that on that very -- what seem -- might seem like a simple question.

We don't know that it will lengthen people's lives. It could reduce the number of heart attacks, strokes, but outcomes in terms of survival, we don't know if it's going to change -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Like so many people, I had been taking statins a few years ago for a while. But then I read these studies that there were potential liver complications, memory loss, muscle aches. I really didn't think I needed them so I stopped. Is that smart? Not smart? Are these complications potentially serious or not?

GUPTA: They can be serious complications. I mean, very serious complications are going to be more rare but let me tell you, you know, even those muscle aches that you're describing and I've seen a lot of patients who've had those, they can be quite profound and -- to the point where people don't want to exercise or be active. And -- as doctors telling them to exercise and be active and they can't do it.

Or liver problems or problems with memory loss, as well. These can be pretty significant issues. And, again, you're balancing that with unclear evidence of whether or not this actually extends survival. And again, I think that these drugs could be good for a certain segment of the population, obviously. But the numbers again, as you just heard from Dr. Nissen, it could be that 70 million people would get this prescription for this medication.

It's really, as he said, a tectonic shift. And we're not sure exactly in the long run how much of a difference it will make.

BLITZER: Good report, Sanjay. I'm going to study this new study and like so many other people, and take a much, much closer look, and of course consult with my doctor like everybody else should do as well. Thanks very much.

GUPTA: That's right. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up at the top of the hour, a special report on Typhoon Haiyan. We're going to get the latest from our CNN correspondent in the disaster zone in the Philippines, including our own Anderson Cooper who's standing by live.


BLITZER: A mayor's scandal and a strange collector's item.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His admission that he had smoked crack had people shaking their heads. And now Mayor Rob Ford's head is shaking. He's been turned into a bobblehead. But the mayor didn't mind. He was autographing them, just another surreal day at Toronto City Hall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We see you're working out these days.

MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: Who said that? Who said that? Whoa.

MOOS: Just another collision with a photographer in this mind- boggling and head-bobbling saga.

Folks lined up to pay 20 bucks for a Rob Ford Robbie Bobby, with proceeds going to charity. The mayor signed the bobbleheads.

FORD: Now you can hit it on the desk every time. And it just bounces back all the time. Keeps bouncing back.

MOOS: Mayor Ford has a lot to bounce back from.

FORD: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) throat out. Poke his eyes out.

MOOS: At least his bobblehead doesn't rant. (On camera): Now most politicians find themselves reproduced as unofficial bobbleheads. President Obama didn't ask for this.

(Voice-over): But Mayor Ford's office ordered his. A thousand are being sold to raise money for the United Way. Some buyers are supporters or collectors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just going to put it on the shelf right now and just enjoy it.

MOOS: Others, not so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I would like to use it for a prop for possible endeavors.


MOOS: Speaking of using it as a prop. One reporter took the Robbie Bobby on a walk around city hall. Jokes proved irresistible online. "Why isn't it called a bobblehead? Shouldn't it be crack head? Rob Ford doll, pull the string and it smokes Crack."

(On camera): Of course within an hour or two of going on sale, Mayor Ford bobbleheads were already popping up online.

(Voice-over): Offered for prices as high as $500 to a laughable $25,000. OK, so some say the bobblehead doesn't really look like the mayor. The original mockup seemed closer than the finished product. The makers, Build A Bobble Inc, say they used artistic license to make people look as good as they can. It's the bobblehead diet, sheds pounds, adds hair.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

FORD: Whoa.

MOOS: New York.