April 21, 2010
Posted: 1642 GMT

Hello everyone,

We will give you the latest on the improvement in travel conditions across Europe. Now that things are getting better, attention is now turning to the cost of grounding tens of thousands of planes for almost six days.

Only one thing was sky-high during the crisis: the price tag associated with shutting down so much of Europe's airspace. What longer-term impact will it have? Who should be responsible for the billions of dollars lost?

Also today, it's been 99 days since the deadly earthquake ravaged large parts of Port-au-Prince. When I was in Haiti back in January, the city was still completely leveled, people lived out on the streets, bodies were still waiting to be collected. No doubt the situation has drastically changed, but that doesn't mean there still aren't major threats facing the people of Haiti.

We will speak to Matt Marek of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He's been there since day one. There are some interesting initiatives to try to protect homeless earthquake survivors from potential hurricanes and severe weather: the Red Cross is helping set up "Disaster Risk Reduction Teams" composed of locals.

I'll also ask Matt what the biggest need is today for ordinary Haitians and how much of the money donated for earthquake relief efforts has been spent.

Join us for that and the rest of the day's top stories.

See you at the IDesk!


Posted by: ,
Filed under: Ash cloud •Haiti •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
March 31, 2010
Posted: 1634 GMT

Hello from the newsroom,

A quick note to tell you what is coming up at the IDesk today.

We will kick things off with the latest on calls for billions of dollars in donation top help rebuild Haiti, still in ruins after last January's earthquake.

There is a conference at the United Nations and world leaders are discussing just how much money will be needed to help Haiti get back on its feet. The problem isn't only financial, of course. The logistics of getting the aid where it is needed is one of the biggest challenges. Also, with a weak and corrupt central government, who will manage the billions of dollars in aid and make sure it helps the people who so desperately need it?

Also today, we are live in Russia and Afghanistan. Both countries have suffered from suicide bombing attacks. Matthew Chance has the latest on the investigation into a Moscow subway attack that killed 39 people Monday and Atia Abawi will tell us about a deadly bombing in Helmand province.

In U.S. news, President Barack Obama is relaxing oil drilling restrictions and opening vast portions of America's coastline to oil exploration. The U.S. President called the decision painful but necessary. Environmental groups are unhappy. We'll have the latest on the story.

Plus all the rest of the day's top headlines, including a possible live interview with one of Iraq's top politicians, technology permitting.

See you at the IDesk!


Posted by: ,
Filed under: Haiti •Iraq •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
March 10, 2010
Posted: 1720 GMT

A quick note today as we prepare a very full show.

We are live in Washington off the top with a live report on President Barack Obama's meeting with Haitian President Rene Preval.

We will then take you live to Jerusalem for the latest on what some have called an "embarrassment" for U.S Vice President Joe Biden, currently on an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories: the announcement by Israel that it is building 1,600 more homes for Jewish Israelis in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem.

We will be talking to Israeli Government spokesperson Mark Regev at the half hour and asking him why the Israeli Interior Ministry made the announcement during Mister Biden's visit.

Jeane Meserve will bring us new developments in the case of the so-called "Jihad Jane" – a female American convert to Islam accused of trying to recruit fighter to wage "holy war."

We are also live in Kabul with more on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to Kabul.

That and the rest of the day's top stories, as always!

See you at the IDesk,


Posted by: ,
Filed under: Haiti •Israel-West Bank •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
February 17, 2010
Posted: 1727 GMT

It's like a Robert Ludlum storyline: international assassins, caught on CCTV cameras, sneak into a five-star hotel in disguise and murder a high-profile militant leader.

Here's what we know from investigators: Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh arrived in Dubai from Syria January 19th and checked into a Dubai hotel not far from the airport. Investigators say that on January 20th, several men, caught on security cameras entering the hotel, made their way into Al-Mabhouh's room and murdered him.

Dubai police sources say the Hamas operative was electrocuted and suffocated.

A few days ago, authorities then released the names of eleven suspects they say traveled to Dubai on forged European passports, stealing the identities of unsuspecting dual nationals living in Europe. They say the ten men and one woman are behind the murder.

Hamas said Israel's spy agence, Mossad, ordered a hit on their on Al-Mabhouh. In Israel's first official response to the accusations, the country's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman today neither confirmed nor denied that the government is behind the assassination.

Mossad has been known to use falsified travel documents in operations abroad so suspicion that it was involved in this hit has gorwn since details of the case were made public.

We'll have the latest on the story from Jerusalem.

Also today, we'll take you live to Haiti, where we're expecting a decision on the fate of those American missionaries held on charges of child abduction. The judge is due to issue a ruling at some point today.

Plus, we'll be speaking to the mother of Josh Fattal, one of the three detained American hikers in Iran. The mothers have asked for visas to visit Iran and hope to visit and ultimately, come back to the United States with their kids. She will join us live from Philadelphia.

Join us at the IDesk for those stories and the rest of the day's top headlines, as always...

See you on the air!


Filed under: Dubai •Haiti •Iran •Israel-Gaza •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
February 10, 2010
Posted: 1521 GMT

It was snowing very hard in Paris this morning. At least by Paris standards. The big, fat flakes came down in sheets and, in some places, stuck to the ground.

It didn't last long, and the snow quickly turned to slush. Compact, grey clouds hung over the city as I jumped from one cab to another on my way to radio and TV interviews with French journalists. I was invited to talk about CNN's iList coverage this week.

We chatted about France's image abroad and the stories we'd prepared for our special series. I was also asked about the time I recently spent in Haiti's earthquake zone. Every time I talked about Haiti, and despite the fact that I was in my favorite city anchoring a fascinating series of shows, a part of me wished I was back there.

There is something very odd – almost discombobulated – about being surrounded by standing homes, plentiful food and all around privileged people when the memory of the devastation in Port-au-Prince is still so fresh in my mind.

I left Haiti with a heavy heart, still filled with the desire to tell the story of what happened there. There is almost a measure of guilt associated with leaving – of being able to leave – when so many there are faced with unquantifiable pain. I now know I want to go back as soon as I'm able, to continue to report on the aftermath of the disaster.

This story will continue to unfold for months and years to come.

Before I left the hotel CNN used as a base of operations in Port-au-Prince, I said goodbye to all the employees on my way out, many of whom had lost homes and family members in the earthquake. Outside, I knew that on the way to the airport there would be mountains of rubble and debris and the souls of tens of thousands of missing victims sill buried under the ruins of the city.

A hotel employee at the door got up and shook my hand: "Thanks for coming," he said.

It was the least I could do. And it wasn't enough.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: France •Haiti •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
January 29, 2010
Posted: 1728 GMT

Only a few hours after arriving in Haiti last week, we were sent to the scene of a reported survivor.

There was no time to think, or take stock, only the urgency of getting to where the story was unfolding.

There, in an obliterated section of Port-au-Prince, a man was extracted alive from the rubble after almost twelve days. Like hope rekindled, Wismond Jean-Pierre, presumed dead, was pulled out from the rubble and into daylight.

Still the smell of death was everywhere. Close to where Jean-Pierre reconnected with life, there was a corpse baking in the sun.

Being in Haiti and reporting on the Haitian people's reaction to tragedy of unimaginable proportions has touched me in ways I didn't expect.

I have seen wars, tragedy, grief and loss but never on this scale. And what has struck me most is the spirit of the Haitian people.

It's always difficult to think of things to say after talking to someone whose entire life has been ruined by tragedy. Instinctively, I often say: "bonne chance" – "good luck" – before leaving.

More often than not, they would answer: "good luck to you."

There have been instances of violence and a few scuffles here and there. But overall, considering the desperation of the people here, things have so far remained calm.

Little tent villages in closed off enclaves have sprung up. Residents have numbered tents and encourage each other to keep the grounds clean of rubbish.

Living one day at a time, trying to soldier on with as much dignity as possible.

It isn't a long term solution, but it will have to do for now.

But for Haiti, the biggest challenge is what comes next, when the news crews have left and when there are no more star-studded fundraisers for the earthquake victims.

The country needs shelter and food, but it needs to be rebuilt politically, as well.

There is good will and billions of dollars pledged to help this ravaged nation, but without a fundemental change in the way things are managed – or mismanaged – here, it could all be for nothing.

And just as I've witnessed in countries on the other side of the world in the Middle East, what the people here need are jobs.

I'm going back home tomorrow, wanting to spend more time in this devastated country. But I will be back.

As I prepare to head out, activity is slowly coming back to the streets of Port-au-Prince, with food stalls and traffic in busy intersections.

Even in Haiti, and against the odds, life must go on.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Haiti

Share this on:
January 28, 2010
Posted: 1705 GMT

For very different reasons, and under very different circumstances, both Afghanistan and Haiti's long-term issues continue to dominate headlines at the IDesk today.

At a conference in London today, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that his country's security forces would need at least a decade of training and financial support. Western powers and international partners are frustrated that all the money and resources that have been spent over the last eight years on Afghanistan are not producing the results they want.

Karzai may be talking a decade, but the U.K Prime Minister gordon Brown isn't: he said the moment for Afghanistan is "decisive" and that a a significant turning point needs to occur by the middle of next year.

Here in Haiti, too, the longer term needs could well be what determines whether this country will get back on its feet, and whether it can overcome the chronic issues that have weighed it down for so long: political mismanagement, corruption, joblessness.

The "decade" timeline is also something we hear a lot in relation to reconstruction in Haiti. But when you see the scale of the destruction and the state of this country's infrastruction – not to mention the central government's own shortcomings – it is hard to imagine that even that time frame is realistic.

We spent the afternoon in a neighborhood flattened by the earthquake, where homeless residents have set up a microcosm of village life in what was once a football pitch.

The place is orderly, organized, kept as clean as possible. There is a medical station and a tiny food stall. People there are trying to live as normal and digified life as possible amid the agony.

A short term solution, at best.

We will be featuring this story at the International Desk today.

Also, today, we will look into Toyota's massive recall. We will ask if the Japanese carmaker is paying for its stellar growth.

And we will tell you all you need to know about Apple's iPad. Is it worth the money? Does it really have a market? And a little something on how the gadget's name is making some people giggle.

See you at the IDesk,


Posted by: ,
Filed under: Afghanistan •Haiti •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
January 27, 2010
Posted: 1729 GMT

Hello again from Port-au-Prince,

Today we'll bring you a story on how the Haitian capital's roughest neighborhoods are surviving in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated large swaths of the city.

We traveled to the ironically named "Bel Air" section of town. This is rough gangland, where life was hard even before the earthquake with guns, drugs and prostitution.

After the disaster, people tell me they have not received aid here yet. They say they have no running water, no tents, and no access to relief shipments. We spoke to former Bel Air resident Stevenson Merisier, who works for us as a translator here, and who guided us through the unforgiving streets of his childhood neighorhood.

Also today on the show, we will go live to Davos, where French president Nicolas Sarkozy is opening the World Economic Forum. He's expected to talk about the economic crisis and what the international community's response to the disaster in Haiti should be. This is an important political stage for the French President. We'll break it down for you.

In other news, we're monitoring the results of Sri Lanka's election. Incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa was declared the winner in yesterday's poll but his challenger, the country's former army chief, is challenging the results.

Plus, ancitipation is building about Apple's new tablet computing device. As always with Apple, there is great secrecy surrounndig the release of the company's latest product. Some details have been leaked but we will only know what the tablet looks like and whether it will be an industry game-changer in the 1pm Eastern hour, just as IDesk goes to air.

All that and the rest of the day's top stories, as always.

See you at the Idesk,


(Photo Steve Turnham/CNN)

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Haiti •Sri Lanka •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
January 26, 2010
Posted: 1724 GMT

Today we'll show you how the promise of a bag of rice in Port-au-Prince is enough to get hundreds of people standing in line for hours.

I went to see for myself how the first aid distribution operation unfolded and spoke to desperate Haitians, homeless and jobless, many of whom ended up leaving without the promised hand-out.

We spoke to relief workers at the U.N. compound to try to figure out what happened. We were told four trucks with bags of rice and beans unloaded aid and left, creating a bit of a dust-up on the scene.

Overall, the composure and patience of Haitians already so badly affected by the earthquake is the thing that has struck me most about this country after the disaster.

Twenty-seven year old Civil told me: "Things take time. So I will wait."

Today, we will also bring you the story of Carmelie Narcisse, an 84 year-old woman who found herself alone after the quake. Her only lifeline: two sons in the United States. We were there when the family reunited in Haiti.

We'll speak to Karl Penhaul live – technology permitting – from today's aid distribution point in front of the presidential palace. We're hearing reports of some scuffles. Some people are frustrated that not everyone is receiving the aid that has been flown into Haiti.

Here in downtown Port-au-Prince, trucks have been spraying disinfectant and I've seen some earth moving equipment clean up the rubble of a collapsed building. A cleanup process that is only at its embryonic stage.

And the Haitian President Rene Preval today asked for 200,000 tents before the rainy and hurricane season. People are now sleeping under sheets and table cloths. The country needs sturdier shelter and more food in the long run.

We will cover all the angles on the story from Haiti and bring you all the latest news headlines from around the world.

See you at the IDesk.


(Photo Steve Turnham/CNN)

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Haiti •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
January 25, 2010
Posted: 1610 GMT

Looking down from the live shot position an hour ago, I scanned the Champ de Mars park where thousands of Haitians are still sleeping outdoors, homeless and desperate, nearly two weeks after the earthquake hit.

They're waiting for aid, but they're also looking at an uncertain future. Thirteen days after the a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck, hundreds of thousands are homeless, jobless and in mourning for loved ones and the city the call home.

Then, I looked down: under the wreckage of an overturned car, a dog was gnawing at a dead body. Passers-by found the person yesterday when they cleared rubble over the vehicle. Just a short drive from the presidential palace, as rescue operations morph into recovery missions, this is still the reality of port-au-Prince today.

Everywhere there is death, immeasurable devastation and grief on a scale even the most hardened rescue workers have told me they haven't seen before.

When I first arrived in Haiti, I headed out onto the streets of the capital. I wanted to see the impact of the earthquake for myself. I wasn't prepared for what I saw: entire blocks flattened and mountains of concrete where neighborhoods once stood. It looked like buildings had been repeatedly hit with bunker busting bombs.

We filmed a few looters emptying a store and a shopkeeper a street away who had payed neighborhood residents with bags of food to help him haul away his most valuable stock. He'd rented a truck to transport his goods to the relative safety of a warehouse on the outskirts of the capital.

Nearby, we heard reports that a French and Greek rescue team had located a survivor under the rubble of a hotel. We headed to the scene.

There'd been many false reports of people surviving the quake, so we approached the story carefully. But it quickly became apparent that something significant was unfolding a the Hotel Napoli Inn in central Port-au-Prince.

"He spoke to us. He is seeing our light," one French rescuer told me.

As we prepared to broadcast live from the scene, CNN Senior Producer Alec Miran told me: "They're saying five minutes!"

We heard cries coming from under the tin roof that had collapsed on the pile of rubble that once was a four-story hotel. Then, the gathered news crews, rescue workers and bystanders converged: a man had been pulled out alive.

Spontaneous applause and cries of "Bravo!" erupted from the crowd.

Twenty-four year old Wismond Jean-Pierre was moving his hands and legs and even managed a smile as he was stretchered into an ambulance an onto a French field hospital.

I caught up with Wismond the next day. We spoke to his brother and saw the underground shack he will return to when he is discharged from hospital. When I ask his brother Ensu what his plans are for the future, he says: "I have no hope. I want to leave."

"Where to?" I ask.

"To anywhere but here," he answers.

As for the dead bodies found in an overturned car so close to our camera position, ordinary Haitians set them on fire. They had to take matters into their own hands. No government agency had come to pick them up. No international organizations had moved the corpses.

The nameless, faceless victims of this disaster burned in full view of adults and children alike. Two of Haiti's tens of thousands of victims. The smoke eventually cleared. A few feet away, survivors were quietly standing in line for free water from a nearby building.

(Photos on the scene of Saturday's rescue a the Napoli Inn. Gabe Ramirez/Steve Turnham/CNN)

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Haiti •Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

Powered by VIP