Friday, December 14, 2007
Torn between candidates
--John King, CNN Chief National Correspondent

Today I'm studying new polls reminding us yet again how unpredictable this campaign is, talking to Ed Rollins about his new role in the Huckabee campaign, and thinking of Erin Flanagan.

Her brother was killed in Iraq two years ago this week. Erin is a mother of three, a New Hampshire independent who can vote in either party's primary -- and torn between the two candidates who most need the support of independents in the state: Barack Obama and John McCain.

We first met her when she asked a question at a Republican debate six months ago, and recently visited with her at her home in Bedford, NH.

She's struggling because she's not sure if McCain is right when he says, "Stay and succeed." Or whether Obama is right when he says, "Set the troops out as soon as possible."

"I don't know the best way to get out of the situation that we're in now," Erin says. "I could vote either way and they are very different candidates... I want to cast the right vote and I don't know what that is."
Posted By CNN: 5:54 PM ET
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The dog ate my homework
--Candy Crowley, Senior Political Correspondent

You know how you can tell it's time to go home? When you try to get on the plane with your hotel bill. Anyway. Hillary Clinton is still in Iowa and she says she always knew the caucuses would be close (true) and bcuz she doesn't live next door (Illinois Senator Barack Obama) and she hasn't been campaigning in the state for 4 years (John Edwards) also the dog ate her homework. (I made that up.) So if she loses, keep all that in mind. If she wins - well then, look at how she fought back.
Posted By CNN: 5:42 PM ET
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No, No, No and Yes...
--David Gergen, former presidential advisor and 360 contributor

Can we take seriously the promises by Bug Selig and the Major League Players Union to clean up the use of human growth hormone in baseball? No. The Mitchell report only scratches the surface of performance enhancing drug use in baseball – a culture that was permitted by both the Commissioner's Office and the Player's Union. If past conduct is any indication of future behavior, let's see some action before we believe their words.

Did Hillary Clinton reverse the slide in her campaign at yesterday's Des Moines Debate?
No. It was a good performance, but not good enough to drown out the mumblings of infighting within the campaign and cries of foul over the campaign's criticism of Obama's past.

By custom, American leaders do not criticize a sitting president when speaking overseas. Was Al Gore out of line in nailing the Bush Administration yesterday at the Bali climate change conference? No. There are occasional exceptions to such rules of decorum, just as there are exceptions to rules of free speech.

One cannot just yell fire in a crowed theater – but you can when it is burning.
Posted By CNN: 4:07 PM ET
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Steroids - Lame Arguments
--Steve Robinson, Managing Editor, CNN Special Investigations Unit

If you've toiled as a journalist in the steroid vineyards as long as I have--some 20 years now-you've heard every single excuse for why it's really no big deal. (So don't send me any-I'm begging you.) Still, I have my personal favorites among the lame justifications for why we should let these guys off the hook:

If steroids were around when Babe Ruth was playing he'd have used them.
OK. News flash: They weren't, so he didn't. We are all products of the times in which we live. No, the Babe didn't get the chance to decide whether he wanted to use steroids, but neither did he have the opportunity to sign the Declaration of Independence or get in on the ground floor of an internet IPO. During the Wall St. buyout boom of the '80s some financiers went too far and broke the law. Many others didn't. In the '80s and '90s, when steroids were rampant in sports, some athletes went too far and broke the law. But many others didn't. In our own way, in our own time, whatever that time may be, we are all faced with a menu of choices. Some make the right ones. Others don't. What would the Babe have done? What difference does it make?

Who are you to pass judgment on these guys? Don't you break the speed limit every day on your way to work??
This is called moral equivalence, and it is a tired debating strategy employed by apologists for the inexcusable--Stalinists, for instance, who tried to dismiss the horrors of the Soviet Union by arguing that the U.S. did some bad things, too. Yes, I drive too fast and sometimes I even help my daughter with a school project when I'm not supposed to. But I don't dump where the sign says "no dumping allowed" and I haven't asked my personal trainer to stick a needle in my butt so that I can take advantage of the positive effects of an illegal drug. So, what was your point again?

Steroids, shmeroids-you still have to make contact with the ball.
How true. Of course, by the time a guy gets to the Major Leagues he has pretty well mastered the art of making contact with the ball. How far that ball travels once contact is made is a function of bat speed, and bat speed is a function of strength, which comes from... Are you keeping up?

The stuff can't really do you any harm, if you're careful about how you take it.
This is generally said by those who love to sit in the front row to watch the steroid freaks of pro wrestling or those who are disappointed if a baseball game doesn't end in a 17-14 score with 10 homeruns. These are also the same people who would never dream of allowing their own kid to take anything stronger than Excedrin.

These guys never asked to be declared role models.
I'll buy that. But then they ought to return all the money they get from endorsements, most of which comes from products marketed to kids.
Posted By CNN: 2:38 PM ET
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Anderson on Gorillas
You can see Anderson's full 60 Minutes story on mountain gorillas tonight on 360.

Anderson has written an article about his experiences with gorillas in Africa.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- You hear them before you actually see them.
Some branches snap just ahead of you. The adult male silverback grunts somewhere off to the side of you. He even pounds his chest. You approach slowly. Mountain gorillas have been used to seeing scientists for decades, but these are wild animals, and you have to be respectful.

READ ENTIRE STORY

For more information and to help:

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Wildlife Direct
Posted By CNN: 2:16 PM ET
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Damn Yankees
--Jami Floyd, Court TV anchor


So the Mitchell Report is out. And as anticipated it implicates over 80 MLB players in what former Senator George Mitchell calls Major Leagues Baseball's steroid era. No surprise there. What did surprise many is the focus of the report on east coast teams, namely the Yankees and Mets. While the Report finds all 30 teams are involved on some level, the East Coast is well-represented on the list of players actually named. Other franchises, however, should not rest on their laurels. Don't damn the Yankees. Or the Mets. Because, with only 2 active players (Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas) cooperating with the investigation, it is safe to assume that the 89 named represent the tip of an iceberg. Some are calling this a great cleansing moment for MLB; but as a fan, I fear it may spell the beginning of the end for America's favorite past time.
Posted By CNN: 11:15 AM ET
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Morning Buzz
Good Morning Folks....Winter weather, the 08' Presidential race and steriods dominated the headlines this week... Here is a look at today's morning buzz. TGIF!!!!


Top Stories of the Morning

Winter storm
A winter storm responsible for deaths in the Midwest blasted the Northeast on Thursday, dumping snow and sleet and clogging some of the nation's most heavily traveled highways.

British Inquiry of Failed Plots Points to Iraq’s Qaeda Group
Investigators examining the bungled terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow six months ago believe the plotters had a link to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which would make the attacks the first that the group has been involved in outside of the Middle East, according to senior officials from three countries who have been briefed on the inquiry.
The evidence pointing to the involvement of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia includes phone numbers of members of the Iraqi group found on the plotters’ cellphones recovered in Britain, a senior American intelligence official said.


Clemens, Pettitte named in baseball steroid report
Releasing a report that links some of baseball's best to the use of performance-enhancing substances, former Sen. George Mitchell said Thursday it is critical that Major League Baseball restore the integrity of the game.


Raw Politics

S.C. poll: Huckabee bolts to top of GOP; Obama cuts into Clinton lead
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee surged to the top among Republican presidential candidates in South Carolina, while Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead over Sen. Barack Obama among Democrats narrowed since July in that state, according to a new poll.

Clinton adviser out
One of Sen. Hillary Clinton's top advisers is stepping down after saying Sen. Barack Obama's admission of past drug use would hurt his chances in a general election matchup.



Keepin' Them Honest

U.S. paid $32M for Iraqi base that wasn't built
The U.S. military paid a Florida company nearly $32 million to build barracks and offices for Iraqi army units even though nothing was ever built, Pentagon investigators reported.

FBI investigates official in charge of Iraq rebuilding
The FBI is investigating the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, Justice Department officials said Thursday, following allegations of misconduct from former employees.



Crime & Punishment

Arrest warrants issued in Malibu fire
Los Angeles County sheriff's arson detectives on Thursday named five men as suspects in the November brush fire in the hills above Malibu that destroyed more than 50 homes.


Death penalty in NJ
New Jersey lawmakers have voted to abolish the death penalty in the state, sending the governor a bill he has already said he will sign. The measure will make New Jersey the first state in more than 40 years to outlaw capital punishment


What YOU Will be talking about Today

Gorillas: Kings Of Congo ****TONIGHT ON AC360*****
CNN's Anderson Cooper Visits Endangered Mountain Gorillas
It's hard to imagine a more magnificent animal than the mountain gorilla. There are only about 700 of them left on the planet and so far this year at least ten have been shot to death.

NASA Love Triangle?
Newly released NASA e-mails hint at something more than a professional relationship between former astronaut Lisa Nowak and a space shuttle pilot.
Posted By jamie kraft: 5:51 AM ET
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Thursday, December 13, 2007
Anderson's View
I'm a little late blogging today. I got caught in a rainstorm in Times Square and have been wringing water out of my clothes for a while now.

Tonight we will likely lead off with baseball and steroids. We don't normally do many sports stories, but this is a very big deal. The thing that so few people talk about when discussing athletes who've taken steroids is the impact on other athletes who haven't. When Marion Jones admitted she had taken performance enhancing drugs, after years of very publicly denying it, I kept thinking about all those women she had competed against. They had dedicated their lives to running and they were cheated out of winning, and the endorsements and recognition that comes with medals.

So steroids are now as American as baseball and apple pie. And with all these ball players doing drugs, the number of teenagers taking steroids has risen as well. If someone wants to shoot up some drug meant for horses, that's their business as far as I'm concerned, but they are competing against hard working people who aren't taking short cuts, and that's not a level playing field. What do you think of the scandal? Does it surprise you, or at this point do you assume it's all just part of the game?

Oh, and a quick programming note, tomorrow we are going to run the story about endangered mountain gorillas that I shot for 60 Minutes. It's a cool story and it will be on 360 tomorrow night. I hope you watch.
- Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 4:09 PM ET
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360 View
Just a bunch of entertainers
--Drew Griffin

I recently produced a documentary on steroid and drug use in professional wrestling, so I am once again drawn to an old question: if adults want to use medications to enhance their physical abilities, why should I care?

By now, professional athletes and entertainers know the benefits and risks. Both wrestling and baseball are private (not public) business endeavors. Legalized gambling is not part of wrestling or baseball. So if these private boys want to "go on the gas," why should we care?

And before you say anything about these jocks being role models to our kids, give me a break. I don't see anybody screaming about drug use in Hollywood or rock'n'roll or rap or anything else. These are just a bunch of entertainers addicted to drugs and themselves. And I could care less.

Posted 4:40PM ET




Steroids, or the gas pump..
--Joe Johns, 360 Correspondent

When I was in high school I played football and was the captain of the track team. I was the state champ in the discus throw and briefly talked with coach Woody Hayes about playing football for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He saw potential because of my track stats. But I knew I'd just become a tackling dummy at OSU. So I went to Marshall for track.

We were all in the steroid shooting world back then. I decided not to do it. But it was easy to see the guys who did. They put on ten and twenty pounds of muscle over a couple years.

I didn't do it because I knew athletics wasn't gonna be my ticket in life. But for those guys who have nothing else to look forward to in life, I do wonder whether the right thing to do is just let them make that decision for themselves.

For many, it's either steroids and muscle, or a lifetime of pumping gas.

Posted 3:07PM ET




They win, we lose
--Gary Tuchman, 360 Correspondent

I don't like cheaters. That's why I don't have much patience for professional athletes who use steroids. They do it for one reason; to give themselves an edge so they can make more money. And who pays for those salary increases? The fans who have watched ticket prices increase exorbitantly over the years.

So that gives you an idea how I feel going into a story I'm covering for 360 later today. The report by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, which literally names many alleged cheaters.

One of the saddest parts of this scandal is the "see no evil" philosophy that Major League Baseball and the players' union have had over the years. Also pitiful: how it casts a pall and suspicion on this great sport, which is unfair to what I assume is the great majority of players who don't use steroids.

The report calls for beefed-up testing by an outside agency to clean up the game. MLB isn't legally required to follow the recommendations. But it seems to me, that wouldn't go over too well.

Posted 2:57PM ET




How about a little skill
--John King, CNN Chief National Correspondent

No Manny. No Papi. No Lowell or Varitek.

That is the bright spot for me on a sad day for baseball. Not because I am a Red Sox fan. But because my children are Red Sox fans, and seeing a report outlining a culture of cheating makes me wonder about the troubling message and signal to kids who see these players as role models.

They need to know it's wrong. And maybe be reminded by the stars not on the list that you don't need to cheat; that you can be special through skill and effort.

Posted 2:29PM ET




As Gomer Pyle used to say....
--Jami Floyd, Court TV anchor

The Mitchell Report reveals a culture of doping in Major League Baseball. Well, as Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" The report names dozens of players linked to steroid use. Well, listen up MLB: The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. To his credit, Commissioner Bud Selig commissioned the report. Now anyone left in America who really thought Barry Bonds was the only one will have to think again.

Posted 1:01PM ET




Shameful and damning
--Gabriel Falcon, 360 Writer


It is one of the darkest days in Major League Baseball. But is it really a surprise?

Some of the biggest names in baseball are on its list, including potential Hall-of-Famers. The big question may not be who's on the list, however, but what should happen next? Should the players be fined, suspended, banned? And what does this say about America's pastime?

We want to know what you think.

12:53PM ET




Al Sharpton's dance card
--Roland Martin, 360 Contributor

The Rev. Al Sharpton just told me that he will endorse one of the Democratic candidates prior to the New Hampshire primary. So far, he has refused to jump in the Presidential race, which he knows all too well as a candidate in 2004.

Many think that Sharpton will fall in line with many New Yorkers and back his home state senator. But if Obama snags the endorsement, it will be a major boon for him because many top civil rights leaders have endorsed Clinton, and it could bring some credibility among African-Americans, who are split between the top two Dems.

Posted 1:33PM ET




Fire and ice
--Candy Crowley, CNN Senior Political Correspondent

Politics means having to say you're sorry as soon as possible if something starts to implode. This brings us to Hillary Clinton's apology today to Barack Obama.
The backfill:
1) Clinton's Campaign Co-Chair in New Hampshire told the Washington Post that Obama is unelectable in part because his (admitted) drug use as a teenager would be red meat for Republicans who would ask questions like "did you deal drugs?"
2) Cue the furor from Camp Obama, which basically said Clinton's getting desperate.
3) The Clinton co-chair issues a statement and says he's sorry he said what he said and the Clinton campaign didn't tell him to say it.
4) The story keeps going.
5) Hillary Clinton, upon return to Washington for a vote, is asked by reporters whether she thinks the now retracted statement was appropriate. She says no.
6) The story keeps going.
7) Obama folks put out an email complaining about the accusation and suggesting people make contributions to the campaign.
8) Clinton apologizes to Obama on the tarmac at National Airport as the two of them were flying in separate planes to des moines for a DEBATE.Stay tuned, dear reader, and remember what I told you yesterday: three weeks before the caucuses what we've got here are ice storms and heated politics.
Viva Iowa.

Posted 1:08PM ET




Iowa and Bali
--David Gergen, 360 Contributor

Two stories today: The first is whether Hillary Clinton can begin turning around her campaign in Iowa in this afternoon's debate. So far, debates have been her strongest forum, helping her build up a lead, but they have faded from media focus, and Barack Obama has been out-campaigning her on the ground.

Now stories are emerging of how unhappy Bill is with her campaign (not good news for her side,) and polls show Barack ahead in Iowa and closing fast in New Hampshire. Can she seize upon this afternoon's debate to start turning things around? Not an easy format for that... so, we'll see.

The other story is really a non-story: from Bali where representatives from around the world are gathered to hammer out a new policy framework for combating climate change. At the very moment when scientists are warning that we are truly close to the edge -- and that indeed, the disappearance of Arctic ice could show us at a tipping point -- it is stunningly disappointing that so little progress is being made in Bali -- and worse, that the intransigence of the U.S. administration is a major stumbling block. Keep watching this space -- and cross fingers.

Posted 12:18PM ET
Posted By CNN: 12:46 PM ET
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Morning Buzz
Good Morning all....Happy Thursday!!! IT is Morning Buzz time.....You may need two cups of coffee this morning...


Top Stories of the Morning

Mitchell report may name All-Stars, MVPs
A long-awaited report on steroid and performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball, which is to be released today, will lay blame at all levels of the sport for a widespread drug problem and call for drastic changes in the league's drug-testing program, according to sources briefed on the investigation. At least 60 current and former players, including past winners of the league's Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards, are expected to be implicated in the 300-page document.


Killer winter storm moves east
Wayne Wooldridge lasted only one cold, dark night in the frigid house he volunteered to watch for his son, who is deployed overseas for the U.S. Air Force. Wooldridge was among the hundreds of thousands of people whose homes or businesses remained without electricity after a three-day storm pummeled the nation's midsection, causing downed power lines, icy roads and at least 33 deaths.

EU threatens to boycott US climate talks
European nations on Thursday threatened to boycott U.S.-led climate talks next month unless Washington accepts a range of numbers for negotiating deep reductions of global-warming emissions at a U.N. conference here.


Raw Politics

'Fired up! ... Ready to go!'
It's not unusual to hear average folks being mentioned by presidential hopefuls on the hustings. But few have found themselves quite so celebrated as Edith Childs, the star of one of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's favorite campaign anecdotes.

Bush victory on war funding
Democratic lawmakers and staffers privately say they're closing in on a broad budget deal that would give President Bush as much as $70 billion in new war funding.

Huckabee apologizes
Republican Mike Huckabee Wednesday personally apologized to rival Mitt Romney for comments he made in an upcoming New York Times Magazine article that appear to disparage the Mormon faith.

Bush Veto
President Bush vetoed another children's health bill on Wednesday, effectively killing Democrats' hopes of expanding a popular government program aimed at providing insurance to youngsters in lower- and middle-income families.

Crime & Punishment

1 suspect arrested in bus stop shooting
An 18-year-old man was arrested in a shooting at a school bus stop that injured six young people, police said.

Wife Convicted of Murder by Acid
A biochemist who killed her husband by knocking him out and pouring hydrochloric acid on him was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder.

Keepin' Them Honest

Army pays $725 to WWII vet for unfair trial, imprisonment
Samuel Snow thought when he got a check from the Pentagon that the Army was finally ready to give him the apology and the compensation he'd been denied for 63 years. He was wrong. See David Mattingly EXCLUSIVE Report TONIGHT on AC360


What YOU Will be Talking About Today

Woman misdiagnosed with HIV gets $2.5 M
A jury awarded $2.5 million in damages Wednesday to a woman who received HIV treatments for almost nine years before discovering she never actually had the virus that causes AIDS.

Globes nominations
The nominees are scheduled to be announced for the 65th annual Golden Globe Awards Thursday morning -- and it appears to be a wide-open race.

About Last Night
What really happens to your body when you drink too much--and why most hangover remedies won't work.


The shot

Man Rescued From Dangling Car
A man was rescued from a car hanging from wires between the sixth and seventh floors of a parking garage Wednesday night.
Posted By jamie kraft: 5:35 AM ET
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Falling in Love?
So have you fallen in love yet?

I ask you this because I was talking to Bill Bennett today and he remarked that in presidential races "people want to fall for somebody." I think he's right of course, but we don't normally associate politics with romance. Sure, we rarely respect our politicians the day after, but are the things we look for in a mate the same things we want from a leader? Probably not, but people do want the romance, the courtship, the feeling of discovering someone who truly understands your life.

Today was the last Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses.. tomorrow it's the Democrat's turn. It wasn't exactly a popcorn chewer of a debate, but tonite we will show you the moments that really mattered. I doubt too many of you saw the whole debate, but I'm just wondering if you are still open to falling in love, or if your heart and vote are already spoken for.

-Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 5:59 PM ET
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The 360 View

Ice storms in Iowa
--Candy Crowley

hmmm. the plot thickens..reports of raw nerve endings inside the Clinton campaign from the king of campaigns--Bill Clinton re: his wife's campaign.

Somebody who talks to him every day tells me it's a press-created story and BC is the "calmest person around" cuz he knows ups and downs of campaigns.

Dunno - u gotta consider the source, but this guy has never led me astray. more calls later. btw - clintonites pushing hard on the "untested, unelectable" theme vis a vis Barack. Ice storms and a heated campaign. Cool.




Repeat Offenders
--David Mattingly

Joe Arpaio likes being known as America's Toughest Sheriff. He once gave me a tour of his jail in Phoenix. Inmates slept in un-airconditioned tents, ate bland bologna sandwiches, wore prison stripes circa 1800 and pink underwear. Their only break from the drudgery of the jail was to work on a chain gang. Every inmate I spoke to had something bad to say about Arpaio and his jail. I wonder what it says about Arizona's criminal element when there seems to be so many repeat offenders?




Lennon's Hair
--David Mattingly

In 1964 I was as caught up in Beatlemania as any five year old could be. That's the year I got my first transistor radio and there was a Beatles song playing every ten minutes. My favorite was "She Loves You" because the choruses of 'yeah-yeah-yeahs' were very easy for a kindergartener to sing along to. They were the soundtrack to my childhood but would I ever spend money on a lock of John's hair?--No way. To me, the greatest piece of Fab Four memorabilia will always be their music.




Drew Peterson's holiday spirit
--Lisa Bloom

Ah, it's the season for holiday giving. Who gets our charitable donations this year? The local homeless shelter? Global famine relief? No, wait, here's a new one: how about Drew Peterson's defense fund, just set up online at DefendDrew.com?

You've got to wonder whether the money is, uh, trickling in to support the ex-cop who's left in his wake a string of women who claim they were harassed, stalked and abused, and one dead wife and one missing.

And now more details come to light of his threatening poor Stacy before she disappeared. Reminds me of the sad fact that the most dangerous time for abused women is when they leave, which is why so many stay.




How to win
--Roland Martin

With the GOP field in their last debate, they better be careful not to go negative on Mike Huckabee. He's played the affable guy so well, he'll just brush off the criticism.

What they must also do is get off the abortion-illegal immigration-Iraq focus. Go bread-and-butter. Deal with the housing crisis. Hit high college tuition.

Otherwise, Huckabee will come out of the debate with that goofy grin...and a likely victory in Iowa.




A Governor's Record in the Spotlight
--John King

You hear it in every campaign: governors get elected president, not senators. And recent history suggests it's a saying with merit: Jimmy Carter was a former governor, as was Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton in 1992; George W. Bush in 2000.

The theory goes that, like presidents, governors are chief executives - they run an administration that has to set tax and spending levels and make tough decisions. Plus, senators and members of Congress cast hundreds of votes and little things tucked into big bills can cause headaches. Not to mention being for something before being against it.

It is a trail now being walked by Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in the Republican nomination battle. Both say they are stronger candidates for the GOP because of their experience as governors.

But there is a flip side; their records are front and center in their resume as candidates - and in the critiques of their rivals.

And that can be tough going. Remember Michael Dukakis in 1988? The Massachusetts governor left the Democratic convention well ahead in the polls. But Republicans called his judgment into question by, among other things, raising a case in which he furloughed a convicted killer who, once released, committed heinous crimes.

Statehouse records are fair game, both Huckabee and Romney readily concede, though both also suggest their critics are being selective in what they choose to highlight of criticize, or taking some decisions out of context.

At the moment, the Huckabee record is more in the spotlight because of his rise in the polls. His role in the parole of a convicted rapist who once released raped and killed a woman. And, an area being highlighted in a new Romney attack ad, Huckabee's support for state-subsidized college aid for children of illegal immigrants.

Huckabee labels the Romney ad desperate. Yet he also says he DID support such aid, and to this day believes it is the right thing to do - even though he also concedes his position may hurt him among conservatives who fiercely oppose any government aid that benefits those in the country illegally.

Look for this and other items in the Romney and Huckabee records to be debating topics in Iowa today, and over the final three weeks of the hotly contested race here.

As Ronald Reagan might put it: Here we go again.




Republican Faith
--Drew Griffin

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks in an upcoming article, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

Once again Republican faith is in the news. Do Democrats have any faith? Do Sens. Clinton and Edwards go to a church? At what point during a pregnancy does Senator Obama believe aborting a fetus is wrong, first trimester, third? Does Senator Joe Biden agree with his Catholic Church that abortion and gay marriage are morally wrong?

Alas, all unasked and therefore unanswered. In the meantime, we the media will drill down on any religious comment made by those Republican candidates.

Just wondering why…




Late Night on the Campaign Trail
--Candy Crowley

Well, dear readers, I'm sure you would tire of my Minneapolis airport saga, as I try to make it to Iowa. I have. But somehow when I write you it makes me feel that I am not alone here at gate C-23.

Yes, I have abandoned A-5. After striking out twice as a lowly standby, the place lost its charm. The two attempts were punctuated by a wild cab ride to no place and back, a familiar trip to me. I survived without the cab driver committing me, or my producers killing me.

Now, here's the exciting part -- drumroll, please -- a new place for me: 9-B. Yes, I am finally seated on an actual plane. As Pastor Huckabee, perhaps the next President of The United States, might say, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition...(but don't tell the TSA)




What it takes to win
--David Gergen

CNN's new poll showing Mike Huckabee surging into a deadheat with Rudy Giuliani nationwide, consistent with today's national poll in the New York Times, confirms that the Republican race has become the most volatile and unpredictable in modern times.

Traditionally, Republicans like to nominate the party's heir apparent. And they like brand names: a Bush or a Dole has been somewhere on the GOP ticket in every presidential election since 1976!

But this year there is no heir apparent, no one with a brand name. So it's been topsy turvey right from the start, McCain, Thompson, and Giuliani have all seen their numbers cascade downward. Will Huckabee be next? There is no rational way to know.

So what about a completely irrational answer like this: not since Eisenhower have Republicans nominated anyone with more than two syllables in his name, and he went by Ike. So, if he can convince people to call him Mike, well, maybe he is okay.




Who'll win in Iowa?
--Candy Crowley

Somebody in Reagan airport today asked me, "Who is going to win Iowa?" Here's what I told him:

-I was at a big student rally for Barack Obama where he was introduced by a young guy named Josh. Josh said he's going to drive from South Dakota to Iowa January 3rd to caucus for Obama. Both Obama and Hillary Clinton are banking on student turn-out in Iowa. I got to thinking, what are the chances a college student, on winter break, two days after New Year's, is actually going to bother? What are the chances a lot of them will?

-I met a woman in Des Moines, who said she intends to caucus for Obama because she wanted to "slow down Hillary." In the general election, she says she'll vote for the Republican candidate. She hopes it will be Rudy Giuliani.

-I talked to an on-the-ground-in-Iowa politico of many years' standing, who says if it's really crummy weather caucus night, it will favor John Edwards because he has the most support from faithful caucus goers.

And that's why we say: nobody really knows who's going to win in Iowa.
Posted By CNN: 2:09 PM ET
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Morning Buzz
Morning folks...Happy Wednesday!! Grab your coffee it is time for the Morning Buzz...

TOP News Stories of the day

CIA destroyed tapes despite court orders
The Bush administration was under court order not to discard evidence of detainee torture and abuse months before the CIA destroyed videotapes that revealed some of its harshest interrogation tactics.

Evidence From Waterboarding Could Be Used in Military Trials
The top legal adviser for the military trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees told Congress yesterday that he cannot rule out the use of evidence derived from the CIA's aggressive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, a tactic that simulates drowning.

Gunman may have warned of 2nd attack
In between his two deadly shooting sprees, church gunman Matthew Murray apparently posted furious threats on the Internet to kill Christians. But whether the warnings reached police before he struck again was unclear Tuesday.


Massive 'ice-maker' stops Heartland cold
About a million homes and businesses were without power Tuesday as a major storm blasted the nation's midsection, closing schools and canceling flights.

Lebanon Blast Kills General
A top-ranking Lebanese army general was killed in an explosion in Beirut's Christian suburb of Baabda Wednesday, military intelligence sources told CNN. At least three others died in the attack.


Raw Politics

Huckabee's 1992 words get new attention
The U.S. shouldn't try to kill Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Mike Huckabee declared when he first ran for office. No women in combat anywhere. No gays in the military. No contributions in politics to candidates more than a year before an election.

Feeling Heat, Clinton Tries Iowa Up Close
Ten months ago, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton went to East High School here on her first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate and laid out a case for her candidacy to a cheering crowd in a packed gymnasium. Mrs. Clinton returned to East High School late last week. But the crowd was much smaller and more sedate.


Huckabee Questions Mormons' Belief
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks in an upcoming article, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"


Keepin' Them Honest

'Earmark' cash aids Democrat freshmen
A year ago, Democrats won control of Congress in part by criticizing billions of dollars spent on pet projects. Now, freshmen Democrats are benefiting from the same kind of spending, a USA TODAY analysis shows. All 49 of the new Democratic lawmakers sponsored or co-sponsored at least one project — known as an "earmark" — inserted into the House and Senate spending bills...


Crime & Punishment

Wife's sister tells of gunshot in home
A gunshot allegedly fired by Drew Peterson narrowly missed his wife, Stacy, this summer as she retrieved a can of soda in the garage for him, she told her sister before she disappeared in late October.

Ariz. inmates convicted of DUI wear pink
A sheriff known for housing inmates in old military tents has a new idea — a chain gang of drunken driving convicts wearing pink shirts and performing burials of people who died of alcohol abuse.

29 Convicts, None Named Libby, Receive Bush Pardons
President Bush granted pardons on Tuesday to carjackers, drug dealers, a moonshiner and an election-laws violator but not to Scooter Libby, who was once the top aide to his vice president. In all, Mr. Bush pardoned 29 convicts and reduced the prison sentence of one more in an end-of-the-year presidential tradition.


What folks will be talking about today

Lock of Lennon's hair could net $6,200 at auction, a lock of John Lennon's hair is being put up for sale.
Lennon gave Betty Glasow, the Beatles' hairdresser, the lock of hair in a copy of his book "A Spaniard in the Works." In the dedication he wrote, "To Betty, Lots of Love and Hair, John Lennon."


After a Window Washer's 47-Floor Plunge, the Big Question Is: How Did He Survive?
A 29-year-old man plunges 17 stories in the atrium of a hotel in Minneapolis, landing on an overhang. A 22-year-old amateur sky diver goes into free fall more than a mile above the earth when his main parachute and reserve chute fail to open. He lands in a three-foot-deep duck pond. Both men survived.
Posted By jamie kraft: 5:51 AM ET
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Waterboarding
On the wall of Tuol Sleng prison in Cambodia there are pictures of how the Khmer Rouge used to torture prisoners. I've been to the museum a number of times, and it is a shocking place to go. One of the methods they used was waterboarding. Simulated drowning. It is surprising that the question of whether or not this is torture is one that has become a topic of debate on the campaign trail.

Years ago, when the Khmer Rouge was doing it, no one would have called it anything but torture. Now that the United States is doing it, apparently it's just a "severe interrogation." I would say, "Funny how that happens," but there is nothing funny about it. This President has repeatedly said, "We don't torture." Now a former CIA officer, a man who apparently took part in the interrogation of al Qaeda suspects (but not the actual waterboarding,) has said that in fact it is torture.

Now you can argue about whether or not it's justified, whether or not it saves lives, but no politician can stand up and say we don't torture. We have, perhaps we still do. Tonight, you will see what waterboarding really looks like. You will have the opportunity to decide for yourself if it's torture.. and if it's justified. It is a disturbing look at a practice few people really understand. Tonight, after what we show you, you will no longer be able to say, you didn't know.

- Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 4:46 PM ET
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The 360° Family
Ice storms in Iowa
--Candy Crowley
Interested in reports about raw nerve endings inside the Clinton campaign.. from the king of campaigns--bill clinton re: his wife's campaign. Somebody who talks to him every day tells me it's a press-created story and BC is the "calmest person around" cuz he knows ups and downs of campaigns.
Dunno -- u gotta consider the source, but this guy has never led me astray. more calls later--worth noting - clintonites pushing hard on the "untested unelectable" theme vis a vis barack. Ice storms, and a heated campaign. Cool.

Repeat Offenders
--David Mattingly

Joe Arpaio likes being known as America's Toughest Sheriff. He once gave me a tour of his jail in Phoenix. Inmates slept in un-airconditioned tents, ate bland bologna sandwiches, wore prison stripes circa 1800 and pink underwear. Their only break from the drudgery of the jail was to work on a chain gang. Every inmate I spoke to had something bad to say about Arpaio and his jail. I wonder what it says about Arizona's criminal element when there seems to be so many repeat offenders?


Lennon's Hair
--David Mattingly

In 1964 I was as caught up in Beatlemania as any five year old could be. That's the year I got my first transistor radio and there was a Beatles song playing every ten minutes. My favorite was "She Loves You" because the choruses of 'yeah-yeah-yeahs' were very easy for a kindergartener to sing along to. They were the soundtrack to my childhood but would I ever spend money on a lock of John's hair?--No way. To me, the greatest piece of Fab Four memorabilia will always be their music.


Drew Peterson's holiday spirit
--Lisa Bloom

Ah, it's the season for holiday giving. Who gets our charitable donations this year? The local homeless shelter? Global famine relief? No, wait, here’s a new one: how about Drew Peterson’s defense fund, just set up online at DefendDrew.com? You've got to wonder whether the money is, uh, trickling in to support the ex-cop who's left in his wake a string of women who claim they were harassed, stalked and abused, and one dead wife and one missing. And now more details come to light of his threatening poor Stacy before she disappeared. Reminds me of the sad fact that the most dangerous time for abused women is when they leave, which is why so many stay.


How to win
--Roland Martin

With the GOP field prepping for their last debate, they better be careful not to go negative on Mike Huckabee.

He's played the affable guy so well, he'll just brush off the criticism.

What they must also do is get off the abortion-illegal immigration-Iraq focus. Go bread-and-butter. Deal with the housing crisis. Hit high college tuition. Otherwise, Huckabee will come out of the debate with that goofy grin...and a likely victory in Iowa.


A Governor's Record in the Spotlight
--John King

You hear it in every campaign: governors get elected president, not senators.

And recent history suggests it's a saying with merit: Jimmy Carter was a former governor, as was Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton in 1992; George W. Bush in 2000.

The theory goes that, like presidents, governors are chief executives - they run an administration that has to set tax and spending levels and make tough decisions. Plus, senators and members of Congress cast hundreds of votes and little things tucked into big bills can cause headaches. Not to mention being for something before being against it.

It is a trail now being walked by Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in the Republican nomination battle. Both say they are stronger candidates for the GOP because of their experience as governors.

But there is a flip side; their records are front and center in their resume as candidates - and in the critiques of their rivals.

And that can be tough going. Remember Michael Dukakis in 1988? The Massachusetts governor left the Democratic convention well ahead in the polls. But Republicans called his judgment into question by, among other things, raising a case in which he furloughed a convicted killer who, once released, committed heinous crimes.

Statehouse records are fair game, both Huckabee and Romney readily concede, though both also suggest their critics are being selective in what they choose to highlight of criticize, or taking some decisions out of context.

At the moment, the Huckabee record is more in the spotlight because of his rise in the polls.

His role in the parole of a convicted rapist who once released raped and killed a woman. And, an area being highlighted in a new Romney attack ad, Huckabee's support for state-subsidized college aid for children of illegal immigrants.

Huckabee labels the Romney ad desperate. Yet he also says he DID support such aid, and to this day believes it is the right thing to do - even though he also concedes his position may hurt him among conservatives who fiercely oppose any government aid that benefits those in the country illegally.

Look for this and other items in the Romney and Huckabee records to be debating topics in Iowa today, and over the final three weeks of the hotly contested race here.

As Ronald Reagan might put it: Here we go again.




Late Night on the Campaign Trail
--Candy Crowley

Well, dear readers, I'm sure you would tire of my Minneapolis airport saga, as I try to make it to Iowa. I have. But somehow when I write you it makes me feel that I am not alone here at gate C-23.

Yes, I have abandoned A-5. After striking out twice as a lowly standby, the place lost its charm. The two attempts were punctuated by a wild cab ride to no place and back, a familiar trip to me. I survived without the cab driver committing me, or my producers killing me.

Now, here's the exciting part -- drumroll, please -- a new place for me: 9-B. Yes, I am finally seated on an actual plane. As Pastor Huckabee, perhaps the next President of The United States, might say, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition...(but don't tell the TSA)



What it takes to win
--David Gergen

CNN's new poll showing Mike Huckabee surging into a deadheat with Rudy Giuliani nationwide, consistent with today's national poll in the New York Times, confirms that the Republican race has become the most volatile and unpredictable in modern times.

Traditionally, Republicans like to nominate the party's heir apparent. And they like brand names: a Bush or a Dole has been somewhere on the GOP ticket in every presidential election since 1976!

But this year there is no heir apparent, no one with a brand name. So it's been topsy turvey right from the start, McCain, Thompson, and Giuliani have all seen their numbers cascade downward. Will Huckabee be next? There is no rational way to know.

So what about a completely irrational answer like this: not since Eisenhower have Republicans nominated anyone with more than two syllables in his name, and he went by Ike. So, if he can convince people to call him Mike, well, maybe he is okay.



Who'll win in Iowa?
--Candy Crowley


Somebody in Reagan airport today asked me, "Who is going to win Iowa?" Here's what I told him:

-I was at a big student rally for Barack Obama where he was introduced by a young guy named Josh. Josh said he's going to drive from South Dakota to Iowa January 3rd to caucus for Obama. Both Obama and Hillary Clinton are banking on student turn-out in Iowa. I got to thinking, what are the chances a college student, on winter break, two days after New Year's, is actually going to bother? What are the chances a lot of them will?

-I met a woman in Des Moines, who said she intends to caucus for Obama because she wanted to "slow down Hillary." In the general election, she says she'll vote for the Republican candidate. She hopes it will be Rudy Giuliani.

-I talked to an on-the-ground-in-Iowa politico of many years' standing, who says if it's really crummy weather caucus night, it will favor John Edwards because he has the most support from faithful caucus goers.

And that's why we say: nobody really knows who's going to win in Iowa.



Immigrants in Iowa
--Gary Tuchman


I'll be reporting tonight on 360 from the small town of Marshalltown, Iowa. Ten years ago, there were virtually no Mexicans living here. Now, about one out of every five residents is from Mexico, and many of them are illegal immigrants.

The numbers are even more dramatic in the schools. Two out of every five students are from Mexico.

The adults have come there for jobs that in many cases are unskilled and some say would otherwise go unfilled, such as postions in meatpacking plants. But their arrival in Marshalltown and other small Iowa towns has created tension among many long-time residents who say their "way of life" is changing.

But all indications are the Mexican population will keep growing unless there is a substantial change in this country's immigration policies.

I talked to one illegal immigrant who has been arrested and is fighting deportation. He told me he shouldn't have to leave because he is a "North American," and "this is the land of the free." That might sound like a brazen view, but it's not an uncommon one among illegal immigrants.



Oprah: the answer
--Amy Holmes

Could the Queen of All Media actually hurt her Prince? New NYTimes/CBS poll surprising answer: "Yes."

I may be the only one, but I actually didn't like her speech in Iowa . A lot of heavy handed, messianic idealism that not only didn't resonate, but didn't soar. Interesting that the sound bites the next day were more about Oprah saying she was nervous and making jokes about the weather.

And one line in her speech that deserves further investigation: her claim that she voted for as many Republicans as Democrats. Really? Who and why? I'm genuinely shocked and genuinely curious.

Also: Jeanne Assam, the Colorado church security guard. What a hero.

Joe Horn, the Texas neighbor who shot two burglars. After hearing the 9-11 tape: what a nut.



Justice on Crack
--Jami Floyd

When I started law school 20 years ago (shocking, ain't it!?), federal judges were just beginning to chafe under the constraints of new federal sentencing guidelines and the mandatory minimums that forced them to hand down harsh sentences. And as I began to practice criminal law, cutting my teeth on drug cases, it became clear that injustice would result, particularly in cases involving crack cocaine. Fast forward: the Supreme Court hands down two opinions -- and some discretion to judges. In so doing, the Court increased the chances that justice will result in future cases. Now the evolution of crack sentencing continues, with the U.S. Sentencing Commission voting to make retroactive the more lenient penalties it instituted earlier this year. With that vote, the Commission has taken yet another step toward bringing sanity to the nation's drug laws.



Those Mysterious Deaths
--Lisa Bloom

Drew Peterson: as the bodies of water around his suburban Chicago home freeze, the noose seems to be tightening around his neck. If he didn't kill his fourth wife, why does he seem so happy about her disappearance? Why does he make jokes about posing for Playgirl and dance jigs for reporters? Not at all surprising that the pastor reports he confessed he killed third wife too. No wonder Stacey wanted out.

Daniel Smith: this was once such a big story, and now the inquest into the death of Anna Nicole's son is almost an afterthought. Why was he taking methadone? Who gave it to him? Was it the same person who gave it to his mother?



When good police work goes bad
--Randi Kaye


How much money do you think U.S. cities pay out for questionable behavior by police officers? Or by any employee? And should taxpayers foot the bill?

Take the case of former Chicago police Captain John Burge. You'll see his story on 360 tonight.

He and his associates have been accused of torturing more than 100 men to get confessions - most of them black men.

Now it looks like the city will settle tomorrow with four of the men - at a cost of 20 million dollars. There are dozens more men waiting. Should taxpayers really have to pay the price for employees who mess up?

Burge has never been charged with a crime but was found liable in a civil trial for torture.



Keeping Them Honest: The First Ladies Library
--Drew Griffin


In 1850, then First Lady Abigail Fillmore sent a note to Congress asking for $2,000. Mrs. Fillmore had moved into the White House with her husband, Vice President Millard Fillmore, after the death of President Zachary Taylor. Abigail, a teacher and librarian, was stunned to find no books. The White House library shelves were pretty much empty. Not even a Bible, so the story goes.

Abbie wouldn't stand for this, so she sent that note asking Congress for 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. It's all part of our never-ending quest to track down the treasures being doled out by Congress in the form of "earmarks."

One more tidbit: The books bought will be housed in downtown Canton, Ohio at the National First Ladies' Library. I never heard of it either. But the local Congressman's wife founded the library, the local Congressman's daughter got a job at the library, and at the request of that local Congressman, you are about to buy $130,000 dollars in old books so the library can fill a few more shelves.



What makes Condi tick?
--Jami Floyd


I believe that people are motivated to greatness largely by the experiences of their childhood. This was the central (if unintended) lesson of Bill Clinton's memoir, My Life. Now, there is a new biography of Condoleeza Rice that apparently teaches the same thing.

Many people often talk about this most successful of black women -- what inspires her, or more precisely, what inspires her to be so very conservative? Of course, African Americans are free to practice politics as we please; we are not a monolith. But lets face it: That Condi is black makes her neo-con mission all the more intriguing.

On NPR's Morning Edition, Steve Insky interviewed Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times who has written a new biography about Rice, a woman notoriously circumspect about her personal life and reflections. Rice grew up in the segregated Birmingham of the 1960s, a city at the heart of the civil rights struggle. She knew personally one of the four little girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing in 1963.

Elisabeth suggests that the Secretary's mission overseas is largely motivated by her painful experiences as a girl, by a belief in equality for all people and a desire to "spread democracy" in the world. Of course, some criticize the Secretary of State and her boss, President Bush, for a mission gone awry. But to understand Condoleeza Rice and what motivates her privately will help to inform the debate about her public choices.




Hurricane season's over, or is it?
--Gary Tuchman


Tropical weather is again in the news despite the hurricane season officially ending a week and a half ago. That's because of two things that have happened to start this work week. The first is the formation of subtropical Storm Olga in the Caribbean.

And the second is NEXT season's projections by hurricane forecaster William Gray. Gray and his team at Colorado State University have predicted an active hurricane season in 2008, with seven Atlantic hurricanes, including three major ones.

Now, we should point out that Gray's predictions have exceeded the actual number of hurricanes over the last two years. And that has been a welcome relief to all of us, after the record year of 2005 which included Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

But over the past nine years, his team has correctly predicted seven times whether the year would be above or below average. And that fact makes Gray's long range prediction rather ominous. He says this active hurricane cycle is expected to continue for as long as the next twenty years.
Posted By CNN: 11:23 AM ET
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Morning Buzz
Morning all, Jamie Kraft here from AC360, it is Tuesday December 11, 2007, and here is your morning buzz....


Tops stories in the news this morning:

Church gunman heard voices
Matthew Murray was kicked out of a missionary training program five years ago for strange behavior, and talked about hearing voices, according to a man who served at the center with him.

Five dead in Gaza following Israeli attacks
A suicide car bomber detonated outside the homes of former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and Sunni politician Saleh Mutlaq in western Baghdad, killing at least two police officers, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

Poll: More in US see progress in Iraq
Growing numbers of people think the U.S. is making progress in Iraq and will eventually be able to claim some success there, a poll showed Tuesday in a sign the politics of the war could become more complicated for Democrats.


Dems say White House misleads on climate
With U.S. policy at the center of debate at a Bali climate change meeting, Democrats in Congress said on Monday that the White House manipulated science for years to cast doubt on reality of global warming.




Crime & Punishment:

Pastor: Wife said Peterson admitted killing 3rd wife
A former police officer's missing wife once confided in a pastor that her husband admitted killing his third wife, the pastor said.

Doctor: Drug combo killed Smith's son
The late son of reality TV star Anna Nicole Smith was killed by a combination of methadone and the antidepressants Zoloft and Lexapro, a cocktail that would have turned lethal after about five hours, a pathologist testified Monday.



Raw Politics

Clinton says Hillary was always the one
Campaigning for his wife, former President Clinton says that when they were starting out he was so struck by her intellect and ability he once suggested she should just dump him and jump into her own political career.


What folks will be talking about

Voyager 2 finds solar system is uneven

New observations from NASA's long-running Voyager 2 spacecraft show the solar system is asymmetrical, likely from disturbances in the interstellar magnetic field, scientists reported Monday.


Posted By CNN: 8:16 AM ET
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Monday, December 10, 2007
Michael Vick, another look
No Victories for Vick

Michael Vick was sentenced today. He drew five months more than the stiffest sentence recommended by federal prosecutors in the plea agreement. All told, he'll serve about 20 months in prison. Vick turned himself in early to begin serving his sentence. He has apologized for his behavior and denounced dog fighting. He's even put up the money to care for those dogs left behind after the bust. Michael Vick has done all the right things to redeem himself in America. But he may never get a second chance. That's because he did something we revile in our culture. He killed an animal; more than one, in fact. And if there is one thing we cannot abide in this country, it is animal cruelty. Like I said on AC 360 when the story broke, Michael Vick would likely have been better off had he killed a person. But kill a dog - even a pit bull - and you not going to see forgiveness any time soon. Last week I saw the Coen Brothers' brilliant new film No Country for Old Men. As the credits rolled, my girlfriend turned to me to say she'd had a really hard time with the violence. After all, a lot of people meet their maker in this study of evil. But, turns out, she wasn't talking about the people. She was talking about the dogs. That's right. She was most disturbed by the many pit bulls that bite it before the film is out. "But what about the people," I asked. "Didn't that bother you?" "Not so much," was her answer. I rest my case.


--Jami Floyd, Anchor, Court TV News
Posted By CNNBLOG: 11:29 PM ET
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360 Family
Bare-Knuckles in The Snow
--john king

Winter in Western Iowa is breathtaking. Snow blankets the rolling hills of farmland... Lemars calls itself the ice cream capital of the world - and is conservative country...

A month ago, county GOP chairman Don Kass says Mitt Romney was running well ahead around here. He calls it a tossup now.

Mike Huckabee's Iowa surge comes despite being overwhelmingly outspent: about $220,000 to Romney's nearly $4 million spent on Iowa TV ads...

but Kass considers it a two man race and says recent anonymous mailings suggest a bare-knuckled finish. Maybe no surprise there...
Posted By CNNBLOG: 11:26 PM ET
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What's the lead?
I hope you all had a good weekend. I spent Saturday and Sunday writing a couple of stories for 60 Minutes. Last night I had a story about endangered mountain gorillas that aired on 60 Minutes. We will likely re-air the story on 360 sometime this week. I've gotten a lot of e-mails from viewers about the story already, so if you missed it, you will have another chance to see it on CNN.

Tonight, we're going to be bringing you up to date on a lot of different stories. We're not sure what the lead is going to be. There is going to be a news conference in a couple hours about the weekend shootings in Colorado. Michael Vick has also been sentenced, and there's a ton of interesting political stories out there. This race is shaping up to be the most interesting political battle I've ever covered. If you were in the newsroom today, what would you make the lead?

- Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 4:34 PM ET
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360 Family
They called it the Oprah-bama
--From Candy Crowley


Barack Obama campaigned this weekend with THE woman of daytime TV, selling out tickets in South Carolina, and lighting up gray wintry New Hampshire and Iowa. Oprah Winfrey speaks daily to almost 9 million viewers, turns books into best sellers, experts into household names. Can she boost Barack?

Women are the crux of the '08 election. Oprah's audience is 75% female. Nearly half make less than 40-thousand dollars. More than half are women over 50. A quarter have no more than a high school education.

This also happens to be a profile of the female Clinton voter. And the Oprah-bama was a pitch for that demographic.

By the way, does anyone think it's a coincidence that as Barack hauled Oprah across the country, Hillary brought her mother AND daughter to Iowa?

Message: Hillary Clinton, member of the sandwich generation.




Michael Vick: Bad move
--From Jeffrey Toobin


Michael Vick did everything wrong. For starters, of course, he became involved with dog-fighting, a hideous and illegal "sport." But he compounded his error by waiting to cut his deal with the government.

Prosecutors (and judges) always reward the first defendants to plead guilty, and Vick waited until everyone else in his case had pleaded out. That guaranteed that Vick would lose most of the benefits of cooperating, and he compounded his problems by testing positive for marijuana while he was awaiting sentence.

Vick's guidelines called for 12 to 18 months, but a co-defendant had already been sentenced to 21 months. As the big fish in the case, Vick could hardly have expected less, so his 23 months looks pretty predictable.

And his legal troubles aren't over. Vick’s trial on state dog-fighting charge is supposed to start next year in Virginia.



Gunshots in a Place of Enlightenment: Why?
--From Sanjay Gupta

There will no doubt be a lot of discussion about mass shootings this morning with the recent events in Nebraska and Colorado. There will be press conferences and more details divulged.

A couple of psychological details may not get mentioned. One is that the number of these types of shootings has gone up steadily over the past six years, since just before Sept. 11, 2001. Do you think there is a relationship?

Also, school shootings have become a distinctly American phenomenon. Why is it that someone at the end of the line would choose a place of learning or enlightenment, as in Colorado, to cause so much misery?

Of course, we will never really know the answers and some will say it is futile and useless to even discuss, yet I am still curious what you think.


New York: Pre and Post Rudy Giuliani
--From Jami Floyd

A twenty-something asked me the other day if New York City was very different when I was growing up here in the 70's and early 80's. Was it ever. I told him about the then-burned out Bronx, the street gangs, and the serial killer who hunted young women with long, dark hair.

There was no South Street Seaport. No Chelsea Piers sports complex. And it seemed like homeless people were camped out on every corner. Now, New York has been cleaned up. And most people seem to credit Rudy Giuliani, even if some do it grudgingly.

After all, crime is down. The West Side crack houses are gone, replaced by some of the most expensive real estate in the world. The homeless on the corners have been replaced by Starbucks.

With Giuliani running for president, New Yorkers of all ages have been reflecting on this dichotomy -- the 2 New Yorks. Then and now. In fact, today's New York Times headlines with a young Giuliani as "A Crime Buster, with an Eye on the Future." Perhaps more to the point, the Metro Section carries this sidebar: "No Longer the City of 'Bonfire' in Flames."

So, when this kid asked me, with eyes that were, at once, filled with doubt and hope, "Isn't it better to be a New Yorker now?" I had to tell him the truth:

Back in the day, the city was gritty, arty, idiosyncratic and even a little scary. But I loved it.

Now the City is cleaner, safer. It's been sanitized. The mother in me is thankful that my children don't have to step over condoms and crack pipes on the way to school or negotiate with panhandlers at every turn. I am grateful for a safe Central Park and the easy access to espresso. As a Mother, this City is much better now.

But if I were the one growing up, I'd take the old New York back in a New York minute.


Gunshots in a church and a mall
--From Gary Tuchman

Shots ring out in two Colorado churches over the weekend. The same thing happens at a Nebraska mall filled with holiday shoppers a few days earlier. The stories are tragic; but also sad for all of us as a society. After all, is there really anything we can practically do to protect ourselves from people like these?
Posted By CNN: 10:53 AM ET
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Monday morning buzz
Morning folks. Jamie Kraft here, one of the Senior Producers on AC360. While I'm home drinking my morning coffee, I'm reading in on all that is happening in the news. Some of these stories may be explored in depth on the show tonight. So here's what's catching my eye.

Top news stories:


Colorado police seek links in shootings


Mortars hit Iraq prison; 7 inmates dead

Brown hails Afghan battle success

Congress seeks answers on CIA videotapes

Ice storm blamed for 6 deaths, power failures, canceled flights


Crime & Punishment:


"Canoe man" in court today

"What If" is all we have so far on Peterson

Keepin' them honest:

Hoyer Is proof of earmarks' endurance


Raw Politics:

Oprah campaigns for Obama

GOP launches first attack invoking Hillary

Giuliani: Nathan did not want police protection


What we'll be talking about today:

Is attractiveness hereditary?

Montana readies for Evel Knievel funeral

A starring role for drivers who drink

--By Jamie Kraft, "360" Senior Producer
Posted By CNN: 8:13 AM ET
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ABOUT THE BLOG
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.



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• 12/31/2006 - 01/07/2007
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• 08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007
• 09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007
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• 09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007
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• 11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
• 12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007
• 12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007
• 12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007

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