Friday, May 18, 2007
Hard to believe 'honor killings' still happen
ATLANTA, Georgia -- It's nice to be back in Atlanta. I used to work out of the CNN headquarters every weekend, and tonight we will broadcast from here.
My book "Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival" just came out in paperback. The response to the book has been amazing. I've received hundreds of letters and emails from people about the book, and it's very moving to know my words have resonated with them. There is a new chapter in the paperback version of the book updating some of the stories I've worked on since the hardcover version was published. I hope you like it.
Tonight on the program, we're going to talk about "honor killings." That's where family members kill relatives, almost always female, because their actions shame a family. It's an ancient tradition that's still going on today.
A recent case that caught our attention happened in Iraq. A 17-year-old girl fell in love with a boy and paid for it with her life. She was stoned to death while people cheered and took pictures with their cell phone cameras. The video is disturbing... (Watch a report on the Iraq stoning death investigation
It's hard to believe that something like this could happen in 2007. We've seen stories like this before, most notably in Pakistan, but this does not just occur among conservative Muslims. In this case the girl was Yazdi, an ancient Mesopotamian faith. Yazidis look down on mixing with people of other faiths. The boy she fell in love with is a Sunni Muslim. She was killed a month ago.
Today, four people are in jail for the stoning and police are looking for at least four more including the girl's cousin who is described as the "main killer." In addition to the Iraq story, we are going to air a report I did on this issue while I was in Turkey last November.
Also tonight, we're going to talk about the mounting political pressure on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Senate Democrats are pushing for a no confidence vote and even some Republicans, including Senator John McCain, are putting pressure on Gonzales to step down. Is it only a matter of time? If so, what is he waiting for? We're keeping him honest, comparing what the attorney general has said to what the facts are now known to be.
That's it for now, but as you know if you read our blog posts, a lot could change before 10 p.m. I hope to see you then.
-- By Anderson Cooper
'Honor killing' arrests
Tonight on "360," we'll look at the global reality of honor killings. Why do these murders happen? What can be done to stop them?
Raw Politics: Al Gore grabbing headlines
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Correspondent Tom Foreman runs through the day's top political news, from James Dobson saying he'll sit out the presidential election if Rudy Giuliani gets the GOP nomination to Al Gore's new book. (Click image at left to play video)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Husband alleges church took wife, son
What would you do if your clergyman said you were no longer worthy of your family and they were taken away from you?
To most of us, it's preposterous to even imagine such a thing happening. But I spent some time this week with a 22-year-old Idaho man who claims that's exactly what happened to him.
Wendell Musser is desperate. Vivian, his 21-year-old wife, and Levi, his 1-year-old son, dissapeared, he says, and he blames polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).
Musser tells me Jeffs, whom followers believe is a prophet, has about 180 wives. He said Jeffs asked him to live with and protect eight or nine of them in a secret hideaway while Jeffs was running from the law.
Ultimately, Jeffs landed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list on allegations of arranging marriages of young girls to adult men. He has since been caught and is awaiting trial.
But while Jeffs was on the run, Wendell Musser and his wife Vivian took care of Jeffs' wives. Musser told us Jeffs would occasionally visit. He said the "prophet's" spouses didn't know quite how to act when their husband came a callin' because with so many wives, they spent time with him infrequently.
Last June, Musser was pulled over by police for DWI. He spent two days in jail. When he got back to the secret hideaway in the remote Colorado mountain town of Westcliffe, not only were Jeffs' wives gone, but so were Vivian and Levi.
The word from the church: Musser had let the prophet down, and as punishment his family was being reassigned to another man. Musser has no idea where his wife and child are.
Musser's marriage to Vivian was an arranged one, but he said both of them did fall in love with each other. He wants his wife back, and is heartsick without his baby. He has written letters to Jeffs in jail asking for the wherabouts of his family, but has received no response.
So he has now filed a most unusual lawsuit, which asks a judge to order Jeffs to talk. If he wins the suit and Jeffs doesn't open up, the penalty could be prison time, which won't do much for Musser since Jeffs is already being held in jail without bond. There has been no comment to us from Jeffs' FLDS church.
Musser, who is now a former member of the flock, hopes the "prophet" (who also happens to be his uncle) has a heart. And for that matter, Musser also hopes his father and father-in-law have hearts because he believes one or both of them may also know where Vivian is.
However, the two of them, along with most of Musser's 45 sisters and brothers remain in the church, and they all do their best to shun Wendell Musser.
-- By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
Bill Clinton: I get nervous for Hillary
Here is a clip from last night's interview with Bill Clinton:
-- Watch: Bill Clinton nervous for wife
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Lawsuit challenges high school Bible class
As superintendent of public schools in Odessa, Texas, Wendell Sollis is proud of the class he helped start in two county high schools. The elective course uses the King James Bible as the textbook and claims to teach the Bible's role in history.
I sat in Sollis' office and listened as he described how the teachers were trained to not promote one religious viewpoint over another. To do so, he said, would be unconstitutional.
When I asked Sollis if he would be surprised if he were ever sued because of this class, he said, "Yes." But now, just two days later, that's exactly what's happened.
Eight parents filed suit in federal court claiming the class is unconstitutional because it promotes particular religious beliefs to children in their community.
The suit alleges that the curriculum created by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools teaches students a literal interpretation of the Bible. It also claims that alternative points of view are ignored or dismissed.
A representative from the National Council claims its curriculum gives equal and fair treatment to all Judeo-Christian perspectives. The Council claims its curriculum has been used in 382 school districts in 37 states. If this is true, there will no doubt be a lot of people watching how this lawsuit turns out.
-- By David Mattingly, CNN Correspondent
Vanishing bees vex scientists
Where have all the bees gone?
That's the question a lot of people have been asking lately, and with good reason -- researchers say up to one-third of all the honeybees in the United States have vanished. And no one knows why exactly.
Scientists are scrambling to explain the sudden, mysterious die-off of honeybee hives -- something they've named "Colony Collapse Disorder" -- before it gets worse.
Before you roll your eyes and say to yourselves, "Ok, another science story," think about this: experts say honeybees are responsible for one-third of all the food we eat; and according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, they add $15 billion to the bottom line of the agriculture industry.
These bees are like tiny workhorses. Without them flying around, pollinating millions of flowers each spring, we wouldn't have a very interesting or a very balanced diet. No apples, peaches, blueberries, cucumbers or almonds -- just some of the 90 crops dependent on honeybees for pollination, according to entomologists we spoke to. Also, beef and dairy cattle require alfalfa in their diet. Guess who is responsible for that? Yep. The honeybee. Chew on that the next time you sit down for a steak dinner.
For tonight's program, Randi Kaye and I traveled to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, to meet the man who first sounded the alarm about the mystery and pressured the government to investigate. In the course of two months, he says he lost some 80 million bees -- 2,000 of his hives. And he's not alone. Beekeepers in more than 25 states and Canadian provinces are reporting major losses, too.
We'll take you inside the USDA Bee Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, and Penn State University to follow scientists who are using forensics -- just like homicide detectives -- to get to the bottom of these billions of deaths. They are performing bee autopsies and DNA work.
Think of it as CSI: Honeybee.
So then, what is killing the honeybees? Despite some pretty far-fetched theories (cell phone radiation, a bee "rapture," an Osama bin Laden plot), researchers are looking at a combination of a relatively new insecticide along with an increase in bee viruses. It's a one-two punch that weakens the bees' immune systems and leaves them susceptible to pathogens. They expect to announce preliminary findings in the next few weeks.
And while some of the affected hives seem to be improving, experts at the USDA say that is because there is more food available for the bees during the warm spring. They warn it's still too early to tell whether America's honeybees can overcome this mysterious disorder.
-- By Jason Rovou, CNN Producer
Asian-American kids feel career pressure
It's hard to see anything wrong with wanting your child to become a doctor or software engineer. After all, these professions are prestigious and high-paying. They also happen to be the kinds of jobs favored by many Asian-American parents.
But according to some Asian-American students we met recently at Stanford University, their parents can put too much emphasis on job security over personal fulfillment. They told us this can be very stressful for those want to do something else with their lives.
One student said she's been told by a friend's parent that "you shouldn't choose a career path because you love it; you choose a career and learn to like it."
We also interviewed a highly trained engineer in San Francisco, Sandip Roy, who grew up in India. His parents expected him to become an engineer and he did just that, eventually earning a six-figure salary in Silicon Valley.
But Roy wasn't personally fulfilled and desperately wanted to do something else. His biggest fear: disappointing his family.
Roy eventually came up with the courage to make a job switch and began working as a journalist. He does freelance writing and hosts a call-in program on public radio. And his family has learned to accept it.
While disappointing your parents can be tough on a child, I couldn't help but think as I reported this story that "Asian-American career pressure" is not the worst problem children could have.
-- By Dan Simon, CNN CorrespondentEditor's note: When leaving a comment, please don't forget to add your name, city/town and state.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Evangelist Jerry Falwell died Tuesday after he was found unresponsive in his office, an official at Liberty University told CNN. Candy Crowley has this report on his life:
Monday, May 14, 2007
Pondering Clinton's political shadow...
Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton is collecting endorsements for her presidential campaign as if the election is next month: the governor of Maryland, the National Women's Political Caucus, a pile of elected officials from around the country.
But now her Web site features the one endorsement that undeniably outshines all the others. Former President Bill Clinton, her husband, has recorded an almost five-minute video message in which he praises his wife's life and accomplishments.
No surprise. Any spouse worth the title should be expected to support the aspirations of a partner.
But Bill Clinton is not just any spouse. He is the embodiment of the best days many Democrats have known vis-a-vis the White House. Truth be told, in the private moments of hardcore Democrats, many of them would give anything to be able to vote for Bill Clinton again.
Which puts Hillary Clinton in a strange spot. Even her enemies would have to admit that, one way or another, she has risen to a place of prominence in American politics and has pursued legislation and deal-making on her own.
So how can Hillary Clinton best make use of her husband's influence without getting lost in his political shadow?
-- By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent
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