Friday, December 07, 2007
Countdown to New Year's Eve Live
New Year's Eve is fast approaching, and a few of us on the 360 team are busy trying to set up the CNN New Year's Eve show. Anderson will be back in Times Square and we've already confirmed a special guest who will be hanging out with Mr. Cooper all night. That person is sure to bring us some great laughs. Can you guess who?

Also, we are working on some fantastic music acts, with up and coming country artist Miranda Lambert and one of my all-time favs, Earth, Wind, & Fire, already confirmed for the show. We're still trying to confirm a few more acts and when we do, I'll let you all know.

This year, we are going to ask for your help with the show. Although we'll have reporters in many locations around the world, we want you to bring us even more! Do you have a cool party you are throwing, a great destination where you'll be ringing in the New Year or a tradition that is just fantastic and you want the world to see? In the next few days we'll tell you how to send us your information.

What better way to ring in the New Year than to watch Anderson having a ball in Times Square while showing the world how you celebrate?

- 360 Booker Kay Jones
Posted By CNN: 7:58 PM ET
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Thursday, December 06, 2007
Ready for an inspiring night
So today has been one of those days. I ran out of my apartment after our morning call today and suddenly realized I'd forgotten both my keys and wallet. So I ran over to "60 Minutes" to work on a script for a story I've shot for them, and then ran over to CNN to work on tonight's broadcast.

I'm now in a taxi (I borrowed some cash) and am heading to the Museum of Natural History for final meetings about our "CNN Heroes" event tonight. The stories of these heroes are really inspiring, and I think tonight should be a fun program.

I'm particularly looking forward to Mary J. Blige performing. "360" will be on right after the "Heroes" broadcast at 11pm ET and we'll focus on Mitt Romney's speech about religion. He said religious liberty "is fundamental to America's greatness."

Romney, as you know, is the first Mormon to run for president. Do you think his religion is an obstacle? Would love to hear from you.

Plus, Gary Tuchman has talked to a friend of Robert Hawkins, the Omaha mall shooter, and we'll have new details.


--By Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 3:24 PM ET
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Mall shooting means a tragic trip home
I'm sick today. Omaha is my hometown. To me, the city has always represented the best of society. Good public schools, a good place to raise a family, and safe streets.

When I heard about the mall shooting that's left nine people dead, I lobbied my bosses to come home.

Most of my family still lives here. And in a small tight knit community, such as Omaha, I felt like I would know folks who have been affected. Sure enough, my uncle called me first thing this morning. He was eating with his grandchildren at a restaurant in the mall when the shots rang out.

The Westroads Mall is an Omaha institution. It's pretty much where I did all my shopping as a kid. Believe me, it's one of the last places you'd ever expect a mass shooting.

This is my first CNN assignment where I haven't had to book a hotel. I'm staying at my mom's place.

It's good to be home, but it's a trip I'd rather not have taken.

--By Dan Simon, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 9:10 AM ET
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007
An early new year's resolution
So, I know, I know, I haven't been blogging nearly enough. I'm sorry. My new year's resolution is to blog at least once a day. Let's hope I show more resolve this year. I think my resolution last year was to learn a new language, but so far that hasn't happened. Though I did learn some Japanese phrases from "What were they thinking?" last night. Did you see it?

It was an aerobic style video to help Japanese people learn English phrases. Last night's phrase was "I have a bad case of diarrhea." We may air some more of them tonight. Also tonight's "What were they thinking?" comes from "The View." I don't want to give it away, but it will definitely have you scratching your head.

Today has already gotten off to a busy start. I did some affiliate interviews for the CNN Heroes special which airs tomorrow night. We've already had our morning meeting to discuss what will be on tonight's program. We're not sure what the lead is going to be, usually no matter what we think it is at this time of day, it ends up being something else.

So much usually happens throughout the day. Mike Huckabee has been on the defensive because a convicted rapist he supported paroling as governor of Arkansas, murdered and raped a Missouri woman less than a year after his release. It's something that has been brought up today on the campaign trail, and is not really a surprise since he is moving up fast in Iowa and the other campaigns are targeting him much more aggressively. We'll talk to the mothers of both victims tonight.

Drew Griffin is working on another investigation into earmarks. He was awarded an Emmy yesterday for one of his "Keeping Them Honest" pieces on earmarks, and tonight's is another one of those stories that you sort of have to see to believe. Not all earmarks are bad of course, but we just think politicians should be open and honest about how they want to spend taxpayer money. If they are proud of their spending requests, why are they trying to keep them secret?

Do you think politicians should have to make their earmark requests public? Let me know. We always love to hear from you.

If I am able to I will try to blog something more later today. I'm going to be rehearsing a little bit of the "Heroes" program this afternoon, but will be in the office most of the day. See you tonight!

--By Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 1:24 PM ET
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Monday, December 03, 2007
Seeing New Hampshire... at 80mph
-------------------------
Sent: Tue 11/27/2007 1:24 PM
To: Reisner, David
Cc:
Subject: Can u go to nh
-------------------------
And that was the request... could I go to New Hampshire to help with Anderson's interview of Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. Hopeful indeed; after the CNN/YouTube presidential debate, and some strong numbers in recent polls, the Huckabee campaign has a re-newed life to it, and we've been offered a glimpse, with a 'day in the life' on the campaign trail. The assignment seems really exciting, plus I've never been to New Hampshire and I've heard its beautiful this time of year... I'm in.

I should have known how this trip was going to go by the flight. It's 7:55a, and before we are ready to take off in one of those small turboprop planes, the flight attendant asks passengers in the front portion of the plane to move to the back because the plane was 'nose heavy...' What?! (CNN.com's hourly forecast of Manchester, NH listed it as 'WINDY, WINDY, WINDY' and 'WINDY...' That should have been a good barometer too.)

After a bumpy ride, we touch down, hop in the rental, and hit the road. Claire Brinberg, my producer, is in the front seat and Anderson's in back. She tells us how much she loves New Hampshire - the changing of the seasons, the political windfalls that sweep through this state every election... I just hope I get to see some of this stuff she's talking about.

We arrive in Concord, a beautiful town with all the quaint stores, shops and restaurants you could imagine. We're meeting Huckabee on the first leg of today's campaign... The Concord Holiday Inn. He's speaking to the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce and the place is packed. Huckabee tells the crowd about his upbringing... how growing up his family was a generation away from dirt floors and outdoor toilets... and he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school.



Next up is Tilton H.S. Anderson hops in the car with Huckabee to interview him on the way ... and we follow in our car- zooming right behind. Huckabee arrives and we talk about everything from his faith as a child to his dreams of playing guitar with Keith Richards... and in fact, Huckabee is here to not only speak with students, faculty and local residents about why he should be their next president... he's here to jam out with the school's rock band. (He plays a mean 'Louie Louie')

In the midst of all the cheers in the school bleachers we find out our day is going to change, and quickly. Seems someone had entered a Hillary Campaign office on the other side of New Hampshire in the town of Rochester... and he has hostages. We get the call to get over there ASAP... so we say our goodbyes, jump back in the car - and head for the story. Details were sketchy and emails/radio reports only make us more anxious as we're gunning it down the highway to get there soon. I'm seeing New Hampshire after all... at 80 mph.

We finally arrive in Rochester to a flurry of blue police lights, yellow tape, and a city on lockdown. The press is starting to set up shop - unraveling cables, wires, lights... this is going to be a long night. For a city with a police force of about 45... seems like they're all here. And they've brought backup.

We go out to find facts, grab guests and gain information on what is developing a block away. There's a news conference slated to start in the next hour and I'm asked to stay to get more info. It's amazing being on the flip-side of things. We've all seen the press conferences with 18 microphones in front of someone... but to see the wires of those 18 microphones all leading to real people; people working the story on the ground, working on it together... all from different newspapers and tv oulets. It is really something else.


We hook up with our satellite truck, and end up using our car's battery to power part of the broadcast. (As they say, when in Rochester...) Lights up, cameras on, we are on the air. The standoff ends without tragedy. We go live from the scene at 8p and 10p... in 30 degree weather.


After the show we pack up our equipment - and by midnight we were back in the car, ready to head back to where this entire day began... Manchester. As we drove back with the heat on full, and a light snow beginning to fall outside, I realized how right Claire was. New Hampshire was exciting this time of year.







- By 360 Associate Producer David Reisner
Posted By CNNBLOG: 11:32 AM ET
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An earmark for the books
In 1850, new First Lady Abigail Fillmore sent a note to Congress asking for $2,000.

Mrs. Fillmore had just moved into the White House after the death of President Zachary Taylor elevated her husband, Millard Fillmore, from the vice-presidency.

Abigail, a teacher and librarian, was stunned to discover the shelves in the White House library were empty. Not a book to be found, not even, so the story goes, a Bible.

Well Abbie wouldn't stand for this, so she sent that note, and Congress approved the money to buy books.

Why am I telling you this? Because 157 years later you are about to buy those same books again, only this time the price is $130,000.We are telling you this as part of our never-ending quest to track down the secret treasures being doled out by Congress in the form of earmarks.

The First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio, along with the Bibliography Society of America, wants to rebuild Abigail Fillmore's book collection. To do that, the group is asking for a $130,000 gift from taxpayers, using the money to locate and purchase the actual books, which, since Abigail first bought them in 1850, have been scattered around the country.

Now maybe some of you out there think this is a perfectly good way to spend your tax dollars. But, to me, it sounds like the ultimate limited interest pet project that only a very few people will be interested in, let alone visit right there in downtown Canton, Ohio. Ah, but it is the very few who make this story very interesting.

You see, the First Ladies Library was the creation of another first lady of sorts, the wife of longtime, powerful Republican Congressman Ralph Regula, whose district includes Canton. The director of research at the First Ladies Library is Ralph Regula's daughter, Martha. And, surprise, the congressman asking for and getting that $130,000 dollar earmark is Rep. Ralph Regula.
Now let's be honest and upfront.

-The First Ladies Library was built entirely on donations.

-It has never had an earmark until now.

-Mary Regula is a delightful person and a passionate champion of our nation’s history, as you will see in her interview tonight.

-Mrs. Regula, whose husband has been in Congress for three decades, thinks $130,000 dollars is not a lot of money and she will spend it wisely on your behalf.

-The budget deficit in this country is now more than $9 trillion dollars.

So here's the question: Do you want to spend $130,000 taxpayer dollars to fill up some shelves at the First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio?


--By Drew Griffin, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 11:07 AM ET
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