Friday, January 18, 2008
The law... now fighting the law

Drew Griffin
360 Correspondent

Not a month goes by when I don't get a letter from a prison with an inmate telling me he is not guilty and asking me to investigate his case. (I have yet to get a letter from a convicted woman.)

Generally, I read the material, take a quick look at any news stories on it, and dismiss the request as just another one of those inmates who can't understand how he got caught. I've learned over the years, not to take most cases seriously because I truly believe most people in prison are where they are supposed to be.

That is not the case with Tim Masters. And ironically, it took a former lead investigator on the case to convince me of that.

Linda Holloway says she helped put an innocent man in prison and is now trying to make things right. Holloway has spent 30 years as a street cop, detective and investigator, and still works with a district attorney in Colorado.

Yet when Holloway took the witness stand in 1999, and was asked if Tim Masters murdered a woman named Peggy Hettrick, she didn't answer the question. Holloway says she knew her answer would be no. But she balked at throwing away years spent investigating Masters as the only suspect.

So Holloway remained silent. And Masters was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Now Masters is fighting for a new trial, and Holloway has decided she can no longer remain silent.

Meeting on her Colorado ranch, Holloway told me how a small town police department targeted Masters, then just a 15-year-old boy, and never found another suspect. She says they trailed him for 12 years until finally arresting him and convicting him on nothing more than circumstantial evidence and the questionable claims of a psychologist who never even interviewed Masters.

The details are not nearly as interesting as the cop herself. Fighting on the "right side of the law," against friends and colleagues of 30 years, Holloway is speaking up about how the law went wrong. Police split over conviction

Hearings begin Tuesday. The two prosecutors who convicted Masters will have to explain why they allegedly withheld evidence that might could have exonerated their suspect.

If, after that hearing, Tim Masters is released from prison and charges against him are dropped, that might result of one of the strongest pieces of police work that Detective Holloway has ever done.

WATCH Police try to bait teen Masters into murder confession
Posted By CNN: 5:05 PM ET
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Beat 360

Whats up bloggers?!

Happy Friday! We had fun with it yesterday, so lets do it again today.

Ready for today's challenge? For those of you who don't know, we're starting something new: 'Beat 360.'

Every day we'll post a picture, and you provide the caption... Our staff will get in on the action too...

Tune in every night at 10p ET to see if you are our favorite!

Can you beat 360?
Here is today's 'Beat 360' pic:

Here's one to get you started:
"Get your big mitts off me!"

Have fun with it. Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

Posted By CNNBLOG: 4:24 PM ET
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Race, class and murder.. All in just one case

Jami Floyd
"In Session" Anchor/360 Contributor

The fate of a black trash collector convicted of murdering a well-known white fashion writer now rests with the judge who heard the case, which aired live on In Session (then Court TV) last year.

Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson yesterday heard juror testimony in a rare public hearing to decide whether racial bias tainted the jury's decision.

Judge Nickerson is facing unchartered legal territory as he weighs whether to grant a new trial to Christopher McCowen. Uncharted legal territory but not an uncommon occurrence.

Bias in the jury room is a pervasive problem in our system of justice. The McCowen case simply presents an extreme and terribly clear example.

Whatever the judge decides, his ruling will be appealed to a higher court, prolonging a sad saga that has captivated Cape Cod and beyond since Christa Worthington’s body was found in her Truro home in 2002. If there's even a hint of prejudice in the jury deliberations, McCown should get a new trial.

Check out more Jami Floyd blogs on 'In Session'
Posted By CNN: 3:52 PM ET
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The immigrants ready to vote... on immigration issues

Thelma Gutierrez
360 Correspondent

It was 8:30pm on a bone chilling night in Tucson, Arizona when I walked in to a civics class in the middle of a predominantly Latino neighborhood... a barrio.

There, I met a group of women who had worked as housekeepers and store clerks and babysitters. After a long day at work, they said they looked forward to another two hours of citizenship class to learn our system of government. They fired off answers about how our political process works -- term limits, the role of the Supreme Court and how laws are made.

I asked them if they would vote if they became citizens. They emphatically said yes, especially this year -- why? One woman said it's the first time she has a choice between a woman and an African American.

A top issue? Immigration reform, of course. As I was leaving, one woman explained that as immigrants they felt under assault... and that they realize the only way to change the system is to be a part of it.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service says a record 1.4 million have applied in the past year for naturalization. Now the government has to find a way to process all of them.
Posted By CNN: 2:15 PM ET
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Taunting the tiger.. But who's fault?

Dan Simon
360 Correspondent

For weeks now, many have been wondering whether the victims in the San Francisco zoo tiger attack taunted the big cat. We now have an answer -- at least partially.

Police just released documents indicating that one of the two surviving brothers, Paul Dhaliwal, said they "were waving their hands and yelling at the tiger." This alleged confession came to the father of the victim who died. Dhaliwal also said the three of them were "standing on a railing looking at the tiger."

While this seems to be an acknowledgement that the brothers at least bothered the animal, it would seem the zoo is hardly off the hook. Shouting and yelling at the tiger. Wouldn't you think that kind of behavior happens all the time at zoos?

Indeed, the zoo still has a big problem. The wall of the tiger enclosure was 4 feet below national standard. While the brothers' actions may have contributed to the horrific incident, there is still no precise explanation as to how that tiger escaped.

Perhaps the zoo is hoping for some kind of compromise settlement, or a split verdict if the case ever reaches a verdict. A jury would have the option of saying something like, "the zoo is 80% responsible and the brothers are 20% responsible," or vice versa.

But for now, it looks like the brothers still have the upper hand.
Posted By CNN: 1:56 PM ET
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Blizzard in Carolina.. And there's some weather here, too

Gary Tuchman
360 Correspondent

I'm driving on the interstate to cover a presidential primary. It is snowing like there's no tomorrow. You can no longer see the pavement and it's icy. A huge truck just jack-knifed and is in the median. Visibility is very poor because the snow is blowing right in the windshield. It feels like New Hampshire or Iowa, but it's not. This is South Carolina. What the heck is going on here? Meterologically... and politically!

That was Wednesday night. Now that I'm back in New York, I've come to the conclusion that the Iowa- and New Hampshire-like weather in the heart of Dixie was most appropriate. That's because South Carolina has assumed Iowa and New Hampshire-like significance in the Republican presidential race. Huckabee won Iowa... McCain won New Hampshire... Romney won Wyoming and Michigan.

Basically, it's all been a wash. So South Carolinians could very well be annointing a frontrunner. The story we are putting together for tonight's AC 360 is about the state's evangelical voters. Up to half of all GOP voters here are believed to be evangelical Christians.

To win the Palmetto State, a candidate will have to do well with those voters. You might assume Mike Huckabee has the advantage. But the military culture is an important part of church culture in this state. And many people who feel strongly about that are voting for McCain. Keep your eye on snowy South Carolina!
Posted By CNN: 1:42 PM ET
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Here's what you can bet on in Vegas

Candy Crowley
Senior Political Correspondent

Yet another journey into the portal to the unknown. We don't know what's going to happen in Nevada. But this time we know we don't know what's going on..

Pardon the cliche, but Nevada is a crap shoot. (Can I say that on a mainstream blog?)

Polls show HRC up by 7-9 points but I know how you all feel about polls... And honestly, pardon this next cliche, it's all going to depend on who shows up.

Whenever you ask those in the know what sort of participation they'll get in the caucuses you get this "somewhere between 25-thousand and 125-thousand." HUH?

Then there's all this union muscle out there. Edwards, Clinton and Obama all have help from organized labor out here. Barack Obama has the politically potent Culinary Workers Union but lets briefly note what the unions did for HRC in Iowa. (Just reading in? She lost.)

Anywho, I'm sitting here in a parking lot of a Las Vegas stip mall awaiting an Edwards rally. His campaign is steaming at the media for "portraying the Democratic race as a two-person contest." They are not entirely wrong.

So I do want to say that the Edwards people think he has a real shot here. They also thought that in Iowa where he finished second.

It's early here and hard to be original, sans coffee, so pardon my third cliche: It's a good bet all three will survive Las Vegas to fight it out (again) in South Carolina.

That's John Edwards' birth state, by the way, and only state he won in the 2004 primary race. Pressure's on.
Posted By CNN: 12:11 PM ET
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Morning Buzz
Good Morning...The econoomy is once again dominating the front page of most papers, today... President Bush will lay out HIS recovery plan. The '08 candidates are pounding the pavement on both sides of the country...The Dems placing their bets in Nevada and the Republicans are looking to inch past each other in South Carolina. Will we FINALLY have a GOP front runner after tomorrow's S.C. primary??? And who will folks in Nevada gamble on? Obama? Hillary or John Edwards? The stakes are high in both races....

PLUS...Check out the new details in the Murdered Marine Story AND the Tiger Attack story......AND Lindsay Lohan is about to see dead people, she has a NEW starring role in a morgue and the L.A. cops are cracking down on the Paparazzi...Will Brittany finally have her life back?

So grab your coffee, it is time for the Morning Buzz...TGIF!!!

About 75% of Baghdad's neighborhoods are now secure, a dramatic increase from 8% a year ago when President Bush ordered more troops to the capital, U.S. military figures show.

Bush to lay out economic stimulus ideas...
President Bush is putting together his first public call for an emergency fiscal stimulus bill while negotiations on Capitol Hill focus on rebates for taxpayers and other steps to jump-start the sagging economy.

Bush, Democrats Rush to Roll Out Stimulus Plan...
President Bush and Congress, driven by the worsening economic outlook, a tumbling stock market and Americans' growing sense of financial insecurity, are speeding toward agreement on a package of measures to stimulate the economy.

CIA, Pakistan concur on Bhutto's killer...
The CIA believes that Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mahsud and his associates, some linked to Al Qaeda, were responsible for the assassination last month of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a U.S. intelligence official said.

Suspect's wife at party the night of Marine's death...
Christina Laurean has told authorities she was attending a Christmas party on the night her husband allegedly killed pregnant Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, according to police.

Israel closes Gaza border, raids West Bank camp...
The Israeli defense minister has ordered troops to close border crossings that lead to and from the Gaza Strip, a spokesman said Friday

Thousands flee volcanic eruption in Colombia...
A volcano erupted in southwestern Colombia on Thursday night, prompting authorities to order the evacuation of about 8,000 people.

Reacting to criticism by his own party that he is too liberal, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is highlighting his conservative, evangelical southern credentials to South Carolina primary voters.

Clinton plays gaming card against Obama...
Barack Obama has warned about the dangers of gambling -- that it carries a "moral and social cost" that could "devastate" poor communities. As a state senator in Illinois, he at times opposed plans to expand gambling, worrying that it could be especially harmful to low-income people.

Confederate Flag Takes Center Stage Once Again...
The Republican presidential candidates on Thursday moved to appeal to different types of conservative voters before the South Carolina primary, with Mike Huckabee using colorful language to declare the Confederate flag a states' rights issue and Senator John McCain embracing a supply-side tax cut proposal.

Campaigns scramble for votes in Nevada...
The fight for top-billing in Saturday's Nevada Democratic presidential caucus has become much like its model in Iowa: an hour-by-hour test of who has the best organization.

Southern Blacks Are Split on Clinton vs. Obama...
The People's Voice African-American Weekly News in tiny Roanoke, Ala., has not endorsed a candidate in the state's Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 5--much to the frustration of its publisher, Charlotte A. Clark-Frieson, a Barack Obama supporter.

Romney clashes with reporter...
Mitt Romney scolded a veteran campaign reporter in South Carolina today after being challenged on claims about lobbyists' involvement in the campaign.

Hillary Rodham Clinton may be the spouse running for office, but it is more Bill Clinton who appears to be feeling the heat.

One of the two survivors of the San Francisco Zoo tiger attack that left a 17-year-old dead told the victim's father that the three had yelled and waved at the animal while standing atop the railing of the tiger's exhibit, police said in court documents filed Thursday.

'No-Body Cases' Can, and Do, Go to Trial...
Twelve weeks of combing woods and construction sites on foot and horseback, diving into ponds and canals, and retracing Stacy Peterson's last contact with family and friends have shed little light on the 23-year-old mother of two's whereabouts.

Giuliani Had Ties to Company Trying to Sell Border Technology...
On the presidential campaign trail, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani often promotes the installation of electronic monitoring devices at the border to stem illegal immigration, without mentioning that until a few months ago, he was partner in a company trying to market such technology.

The nation's fourth-largest coal producer, the Massey Energy Company, was hit Thursday with a $20 million fine, the largest civil penalty ever levied by the federal government for a pollution violation of this type under the Clean Water Act.

Paraplegic man dumped in LA gutter sues hospital...
A mentally ill paraplegic man filed a lawsuit on Thursday against a hospital that dumped him in a gutter on Los Angeles' "Skid Row" -- a case that highlighted the plight of the city's vast homeless population.

Bin Laden son wants to be peace activist...
Omar Osama bin Laden bears a striking resemblance to his notorious father — except for the dreadlocks that dangle halfway down his back. Then there's the black leather biker jacket. The 26-year-old does not renounce his father, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, but in an interview with The Associated Press, he said there is better way to defend Islam than militancy: Omar wants to be an "ambassador for peace" between Muslims and the West.

Lindsay Lohan is about to see dead people. The 21-year-old actress will soon be working at a morgue as part of her punishment for misdemeanor drunken driving, her attorney, Blair Berk, told a judge Thursday.

Paparazzi are their focus...
As paparazzi become ever more competitive in their quest for the perfect tabloid photo, complaints about their tactics are intensifying.
Posted By CNN: 5:14 AM ET
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Thursday, January 17, 2008
The Face Behind the Name
-- Joe Johns, 360 Correspondent

I used to work in the Carolinas -- Charlotte actually -- which is close enough to the South Carolina state line that I made it down to Columbia, Charleston, and the low country fairly often.

Strom Thurmond was the first Carolina Senator I ever interviewed. I remember meeting him in Florence or somesuch on a hot summer day with gnats flying around our heads, trying to figure out what I thought about him. Back then I don't remember all the excitement about presidential politics.

Now though, Sen. Thurmond is gone and this presidential primary has become a national rite of passage on the road to the White House.

So much gets made of the dirty politics here. But the 30,000 foot view for me is that people here are straight talking, no nonsense. They want to hear the real deal about their politicians.

That may be why things can get so rough here. They don't always buy the blow-dried focus group tested images of politicians that get exported from Washington. Maybe folks in the Carolinas want to know the real person behind the name on ballot.

Reporter's hunch.

Editor's note: WATCH Joe Johns talks to Sen. John McCain about dirty politics
Posted By CNN: 10:47 PM ET
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Get over it!

360 contributor Jami Floyd has the 'Last Word' on the police and O.J. Simpson.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 7:31 PM ET
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Anderson's View: Dirty Politics
It was depressing to hear that John McCain is once again facing phony accusations and slanderous whispers as he campaigns in South Carolina.

I don't support any candidate, so I am not saying this because of any particular affinity for Sen. McCain. I am saying this because more than ever we need to be brought together as a country, as a citizenry, and these kind of tactics are all about creating divisions.

This happened to Sen. McCain back in 2000, and now at least he has the money and experience to aggressively challenge these false rumors and aggressive automated calls which spread untruths, but some people will no doubt believe them.

Tonight, we take an up close look at some of the dirty tricks being used so far in this election season, and Joe Johns has a one-on-one interview with Sen. McCain.

We'll also be looking at the latest on the murder of Maria Lauterbach, and we'll take an up close look at Scientology. See you at 10p ET!

-- Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 5:41 PM ET
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Beat 360
Afternoon bloggers!

Yes, I know, I know... Sorry for posting later than usual, busy day in the newroom. Great captions last night, as always! We're getting good feedback from you with the photos from the campaign trail, so let's try this again:

Ready for today's challenge? For those of you who don't know, we're starting something new: 'Beat 360.'

Every day we'll post a picture, and you provide the caption... Our staff will get in on the action too...

Tune in every night at 10p ET to see if you are our favorite!

Can you beat 360?
Here is today's 'Beat 360' pic:

Here's one to get you started:

"They say Florida is 'RUDY COUNTRY' ...But for how long...?"

Have fun with it. Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 2:42 PM ET
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Forget how they'll handle a crisis. How will they prevent one?
--Mona Lisa Mouallem, 360 Associate Producer

Today is President Bush's first day back from his diplomatic tour throughout the Middle East. In these past eight days the president has discussed his vision for Israeli-Palestinian peace, expressed concerns to Saudi Arabia about the rising price of oil, urged the Egyptian government to hold true to the pursuit of democratic goals, and marveled at the economic growth of the UAE.

He also made a stop at a military base in Kuwait to declare that "hope is returning to Iraq."

Whether this was Bush's sprint to the finish in his race for positive legacy, or a sincere effort for change, or both, this diplomatic visit was one of the President's most important ones during his stint in the White House.

It's no secret that the Middle East has been a target of most of the administration's foreign policy decisions, and whether or not you deem these decisions as successful, our country has still paid an expensive public relations price among Arabs.

In a recent Zogby poll, 78% of the Arab respondents described their attitudes towards Washington as "somewhat" or "very" unfavorable.

So it got me thinking: which of the Presidential candidates will be able to bear both the responsibility of damage control and take on the seeds of change planted by the Bush administration in its final hour? And, of course, how will our next President proceed?

I'm a bit in the dark with regards to where these candidates stand on Middle East foreign policy. Seems like the candidates have largely focused on their position on Iraq and how they would react to extreme scenarios - a terrorist attack, for example, or a potential nuclear threat by Iran.

But instead of focusing on how they would respond to acute threats, I'd like to hear more about the candidates' long-term plans for restoring the United States' image in the Arab World.

How do they plan, really, on proceeding with the delicate yet volatile Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What will be their political stance toward Lebanon, a country Bush once declared a symbol of democracy in the Middle East?

How will our next President deal with the millions of Iraqi refugees, the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world? And how will our new President approach the anti-Arabism and anti-Islamism in America that many of our own Arab-Americans claim they encounter?

Our Arab friends here and abroad are watching the elections closely. It's no secret that our future President will have enormous impact on the region, and it's no secret that our Arab leaders will respond accordingly.

We keep asking our candidates how he or she will act in a time of crisis. Isn't it equally important to ask how they will prevent one?

What do you think?
Posted By CNN: 2:14 PM ET
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It's the recession, stupid

Tom Foreman
360 Correspondent

It's snowing outside my office a few blocks from the Capitol. Big heavy flakes are swirling and I'm thinking about a chilly word: Recession. That's what most of you think we are in now, and trust me, the mere thought of it is sending shivers up the spines of the presidential candidates.

Months ago on AC 360 I was pounding the drum with reports saying that the economy would eventually trump the war as the big issue of this election, and trust me, when all the political experts were ignoring me, I felt like my world was a little icy. But now it has happened.

The continuing slide of the housing market, the crumbling of new housing starts, job worries, health insurance fears, the immigration debate; an avalanche of economic terrors are descending on this election.

And like snowboarders in the backcountry, the candidates are all scrambling to stake out positions before the full force of the deluge hits.

To be fair, all of them had economic positions before the polls shifted this way, and they talked about their ideas a fair amount. But now they are looking into the eyes of thousands of scared voters who are beginning to scrutinize the campaigns' economic plans much more closely.

I've never been convinced that presidents control the economy nearly as much as they think they do. I think they are like little kids standing at a video machine that they've put no money into: because the space ship sometimes goes the way they are pointing, they think they are controlling it.

Still, the president does play a role. So here is the question: What, if anything, do you think the next president should do to reverse what most Americans now believe is already a recession?
Posted By CNN: 2:07 PM ET
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Working the System

Lisa Bloom

360 Contributor

Some commentators have made much of Judge Glass' strong words to O.J. Simpson in court yesterday, but clearly only one thing mattered to O.J.: getting out of jail, which he did, after the brief tongue-lashing. He's free again, as he will be until trial.

How could the judge find he violated a condition of bail and yet spring him? Because he's entitled to bail in this non-capital case. The judge did all that she could do: gave him a stern warning, raised the bail, required him to pay 15% of the new $250,000 amount.

O.J.'s friends - he's always got entourage - came up with the money, and he's home free, again.

As one of the few people who actually read O.J.'s 2007 book, "If I Did It," I cannot help thinking of his vivid description of his long, tortured relationship with Nicole Brown Simpson, his explanation of he did it WHY he did it (hypothetically) - that skirt was too short for his taste on the last day of her life - and HOW he did it (hypothetically) - driving home via a different route than everyone thought.

In my view, the only interpretation of his book is that he is now a confessed double murderer, and yet no jail can hold him. He's a master at playing the system.

Check out more Lisa Bloom blogs on 'In Session'
Posted By CNNBLOG: 1:26 PM ET
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Morning Buzz
Morning Folks!!! It looks like the economy is dominating the headlines this morning....Some say we are headed towards a recession. The Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, will be in the hot seat on the Hill today and will hopefully offer a quick fix....

The Presidential hopefuls are pounding the pavement in Nevada and South Carolina, while Rudy remains in Florida...All eyes are on his strategy, will it pay off?

AND O.J. is out!!! Stay tuned for the next chapter in that drama...PLUS scientists are saying they can NOW translate a dog's bark....So grab some "bark...bark" a.k.a. "" and take a look at today's headlines....

Navy copter crash kills three in Texas
Rescue crews found the bodies of three crew members about 2:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. ET) Thursday, said Ed Mackley, public affairs officer for the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command.

An Economy's Mixed Message on Suffering...
A wide range of data from the government, private corporations and independent analysts paint a picture of a nation that is already in recession in some states and industries, while much of the nation and big parts of the economy have suffered little.

Bernanke Is Said to Support Stimulus Measures...
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, has told lawmakers that he can support tax cuts or spending measures to stimulate the economy, even if they increase the budget deficit, provided the measures are quick and temporary.

FDA to declare cold medicines too risky for babies, toddlers...
Parents should not give sniffling babies and toddlers over-the-counter cough and cold medicines--they're too risky for tots so small, the government will declare Thursday.

Ex-lawmaker charged in terror conspiracy...
A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted on charges of working for an alleged terrorist fundraising ring that sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.

FBI: Marine suspect talked of fleeing...
A Marine suspected of killing a pregnant comrade told friends he would flee to Mexico to avoid being convicted of raping her, and investigators said Wednesday they are working with Mexican authorities to track him down.

The battle for the Democratic presidential nomination heads west Saturday with caucuses in Nevada, where unions and a large Hispanic population are heavily expected to influence the results.

Americans revved up--and ready to vote...
Turnout in the opening Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary this month smashed records. By 2-1, those surveyed in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say they're more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year.

McCain Parries a Reprise of '00 Smear Tactics...
Volunteers making telephone calls for Senator John McCain in South Carolina last weekend noticed something odd: Four people contacted said in remarkably similar language that they opposed Mr. McCain for president because of his 1980 divorce from his first wife, Carol, who raised the couple's three children while Mr. McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Republicans ponder deadlocked convention...
The Republican presidential race is so unsettled that some party officials are openly talking of a scenario that seemed almost unthinkable until now: the first contested GOP convention in 60 years.

Giuliani tries for Hail Mary in Florida...
Republican Rudy Giuliani challenged political convention in shrugging off early primaries while staking his presidential candidacy on delegate-rich, later-voting states, a strategy that could be a colossal failure or a masterful calculation.

Democrats go deep to court Latino vote...
Hillary Rodham Clinton was sympathetic as, one after another, members of the audience discussed their unhappy dealings with shady home lenders.

O.J. Simpson released..
Former football star O.J. Simpson walked out of jail late Wednesday after posting $250,000 bail.

Cops search car, phones of tiger victims...
San Francisco police on Wednesday searched the cellphones and car of two brothers mauled by a zoo tiger on Christmas day, looking for evidence that they may have provoked the animal, which also killed a friend of the men.

Two Newport High girls, 14, held in beating of 13-year-old...
Two ninth-grade girls at Newport Harbor High have been arrested in connection with the beating of a girl from a nearby intermediate school, a video of which was posted online at and

Universal health care plans stymied by federal law...
Many of the proposals require employers either to offer health coverage themselves or pay into a public fund to help cover the uninsured.

Town Told to Turn Over Land for Fence...
A federal judge ordered the Texas border city of Eagle Pass to turn over 233 acres temporarily to the federal government so it can build a fence to thwart illegal immigration.

Do more for Katrina victims...
A United Nations official who has toured parts of Louisiana and Mississippi devastated by Hurricane Katrina says the thousands of victims of the storm resemble poor people displaced by natural disasters in other parts of the world.

New tree species found in Madagascar...
A self-destructing palm tree that flowers once every 100 years and then dies has been discovered on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, botanists said Thursday.

Scientists develop computer that can 'translate' a dog's bark...
What would a dog say if it could talk? "Stranger", "fight", "walk", "alone", "ball" and "play", according to scientists who have developed a computer programme to translate dog barks.

Abortions Hit Lowest Number Since 1976...
The number of abortions performed in the United States dropped to 1.2 million in 2005 -- the lowest level since 1976, according to a new report.
Posted By CNN: 5:15 AM ET
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Front-loading the primaries: it works!
--Julia Weinberg, 360 Associate Producer

Call me an anarchist, but I think this condensed primary schedule is working brilliantly.

For all the fretting we heard this past year over the dangers of front-loading the process -- that it would give a leg up to the wealthier, well-known candidates, preventing the slow ascent of sleeper candidates -- well, so far that's just dead wrong.

Mitt Romney's millions didn't win him the gold in either of the first few contests -- instead we saw a relative unknown with little funding win Iowa, and a veteran candidate whose political tombstone was all but written this past summer, take New Hampshire.

Maybe we weren't giving enough credit to the voters -- who so far have rejected the perceived momentum of the winning candidate coming out of Iowa and now New Hampshire. Now it's looking like this race may go beyond SuperDuper Tuesday, and we're even hearing whispers of the forgotten words, "brokered convention" -- something this country hasn't seen since the 1952!

What do you think: Is this primary schedule too hectic? Is it good for the country? Send us your thoughts!
Posted By CNN: 8:35 PM ET
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Why did the tiger cross the moat?
--David Mattingly, 360 Correspondent

The 911 tapes in the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo will probably play a role in future lawsuits but they don't answer a central question in this tragedy: what prompted the Siberian tiger to want to escape its enclosure?

Police found no solid evidence the tiger was being taunted before the attack. But tiger experts continue to say something had to trigger the animal to leap a dry moat and bound over a wall to attack the young men.

A zoo spokesman says employees found a branch and pine cone and a nine-inch rock inside the tiger enclosure that had no reason to be there.

The enclosure's wall was obviously inadequate. The tiger should never have been able to get out. Animal behavior experts add that the tiger shouldn't have wanted to, either.

Only three people knew exactly what happened that day, and one of them did not survive. The other two say they did nothing wrong.
Posted By CNN: 7:13 PM ET
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Anderson's View: Reading the Republicans
I considered going to South Carolina today, but there are a number of things we are working on here that made going difficult. Chances are next week we will take the show on the road again, perhaps this time to Florida or maybe South Carolina.

I've spent most of today re-reading The Reagan Diaries. I am preparing for a republican debate at the Reagan library at the end of this month. I'm not sure what Ronald Reagan would make of the current state of the Republican Party.

After last night's result there is no clear frontrunner, if anything the race seems more open than ever. We'll be looking at that tonight and will talk with Glenn Beck about his take on the Republican Party.

We're also following new developments in the murder of Maria Lauterbach, the pregnant marine, and will examine the 911 tapes from the tiger attack in San Francisco.

See you tonight.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 4:51 PM ET
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What trump card will win the jump ball?

Tom Foreman
360 Correspondent

Here's what I like about this election: None of the rules apply.

For all the endless, and boy do I mean endless, hours of nattering by the supposed political insiders, now almost all of them admit they don't have a clue about what will happen next.

Who will be the nominee for the Democrats? Who for the Republicans? What issue will be the trump card: the war, the economy, immigration?

The "experts" all just shrug now, and spout a lot of platitudes about a changing electorate, and campaign financing, and the early primary schedule, and yadda yadda yadda. In other words they make excuses for being wrong in the first place and try to convince you that their opinions still matter.

Well, they don't.

The truth is, this is turning into an election like most of us have never seen in our lifetimes; the first in ages without a natural heir to the White House; the first ever with what is shaping up to be a national primary contest.

Which brings us to Rudy Giuliani.

Months ago Rudy made it clear that he was embarking on a risky, avant-garde campaign strategy. He was effectively going to concede the early contests, and focus on a big knockout punch in Florida. Conventional wisdom said he was a fool; once the early states anointed a front-runner, Rudy would be abandoned on the beach with a bunch of tattered campaign signs and a red face...not from the sun.

But no front-runner has emerged. Or three have. In any event, suddenly the vote seems headed to Florida with the nomination still up in the air, and Rudy's risky strategy seems to have him perfectly positioned.

It may yet not work. Truth is, for all of his campaigning in alligator alley, voters may or may not give him the nod.

But his strategy, which so many of the political pros called whacky such a short time ago, now doesn't look so farfetched. That's what happened when all the rules get broken.

What do you think? Will the nomination still be a jump ball, when the Republicans hit Florida, and does Rudy have a shot at bringing it down?
Posted By CNN: 4:05 PM ET
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Murdered Marine: Friend challenges official story

Randi Kaye spoke with a friend of the suspect who also knew the murdered Marine.


Randi Kaye
360 Correspondent

I spent a couple hours this morning with a friend of Corporal Cesar Laurean. (WATCH)

This was our first talk with someone who knows him and knows about the relationship he had with the woman he's accused of killing.

I'm not naming the friend to protect her from any possible retaliation, but I thought you'd want to know what she told me. For the purpose of this blog, I'll call her "Lisa."

You probably know Laurean is the U.S. Marine charged with one count of first degree murder in the death of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child.

Their charred remains were found last week buried in a fire pit in his backyard. Authorities say they also found blood spatters inside his home.

Lauterbach had accused Laurean of rape and was expected to testify about the allegations in December, the same month she disappeared.

Lisa says she knew Laurean about four years. They worked side by side. She saw him daily. She also knew Lauterbach.

Lisa told me Laurean is a quiet guy, very social. She said everyone liked him and he had a lot of friends.

She also said he's a great father, who talked often about his 18-month-old daughter. Lisa has a daughter the same age and the two discussed sippy cups and diapers.

Hard to believe someone who discusses sippy cups and diapers could be capable of such a brutal murder.

You may recall the Marines came out yesterday and said Lauterbach told them she did not feel threatened by Laurean. Keeping them honest, we asked Lisa about that. She believes that just wasn't true.

Lauterbach had obtained a Military Protective Order prohibiting Laurean from contacting her or coming within 1000 feet.

Lisa says Lauterbach came to her in September, 2007, after the order had expired and wanted help asking for a second one.

Lisa says she typed up the request and sent it to the proper channels. So she says, Lauterbach DID have a current and valid protective order against Laurean when she disappeared, even though Sheriff Ed Brown, the lead investigator, had been telling the media it was expired. The Marines didn't address this question yesterday.

Lisa told me today Lauterbach was afraid of Laurean and that she didn't want to be around him. She says Lauterbach told her the two had had consensual sex before, but that a verbal argument had occurred, and the alleged rape followed.

The rape allegedly took place last spring in Laurean's office at Camp Lejeune. Lauterbach and Laurean had been working side-by-side since December 2006 in the personnel department. Lisa says Lauterbach was moved to another office after she came forward with the allegations.

I asked Lisa about how the Marines handled the rape allegations. She told me, "her staff non-commissioned officer in charge came in and told our commanding officer that there was basically no basis to the allegation, that Laurean was a good marine and that of the two of them, his credibility was significantly higher and there wasn't anything to hold him or charge him on."

A spokesman for the Marines declined to respond in detail, but did tell us this: "Regardless of whether or not something like that was said, her commanding officer took the allegation seriously, was working with NCIS and trial counsel to develop evidence and determine what charges, if any, would be preferred."

Lisa tells me Lauterbach never talked to her about how she got pregnant. Lisa didn't even know she was pregnant until she was in her fifth month. She says the Marines don't require you to divulge who the father is.

When Lauterbach first disappeared, Lisa says she didn't believe she was in danger. She thought it was just an Unauthorized Absence, which is what the Marines say they believed, too.

Lisa told me that Lauterbach had disappeared once before. Lisa says when Laurean was named as the key suspect, even when he was charged with first degree murder, she still couldn't believe he had anything to do with it.

She told me, "it's an incredibly surreal experience for me to see someone I was personally acquainted with and friends with on a wanted poster, I just can't wrap my mind around the fact he would've brutally murdered someone."

When Laurean was first named as a suspect, his wife came forward with a note that she said she'd found at home and that he'd written. It said Lauterbach had taken her own life and he'd buried her in the backyard.

Lisa doesn't buy it. She told me, "If somebody comes to my house and kills themself, I wouldn't bury her in the backyard, I'd call the cops."

Lisa says she isn't sure if Lauterbach knew Laurean was married. He didn't wear a wedding ring or keep a picture of his wife on his desk.

Lisa had met Laurean's wife numerous times, and tells me she is "the jealous type.... she was very interested in putting out, 'this is my husband and no one else is gonna take him from me.' " When asked whether Laurean's wife was a suspect, the sheriff declined to say. Police did say she was the one who directed police toward her husband.

With Laurean on the run, I wondered about his survival skills. Lisa says he'd been trained to type really well, but he could also shoot an M-16, and run really fast. She says she believes he's probably getting help from family or friends. But she says she has not heard from him and doesn't know anyone who has.

Finally, I asked her if Laurean and Lauterbach were on friendly terms, after Lauterbach came forward with the rape allegations. The Marines yesterday said they were and that's why Laurean had not been considered a suspect or a flight risk.

Lisa says Lauterbach tried to stay as far away from him as she could.

These are just some of the highlights. She was a fascinating interview and I hope you tune into 360 tonight to watch the complete interview. I don't think you'll be able to pull yourself away.

Please let me know what you think. And thank you.
Posted By CNN: 12:26 PM ET
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The political ground shifting underfoot

David Gergen
Senior Political Analyst

From about 30,000 feet, here's what the political landscape looks like to me today, just after Michigan and the Democratic debate in Nevada:

-- The terrain for the general election is moving even more strongly in the Democrats' favor. With results in from four states, Republicans have at least four -- arguably five -- candidates bunched together at the top -- each one of whom can win the nomination but no one of whom inspires all the party faithful. That's not a promising scenario for a party whose strength on election day has depended heavily upon an army of excited volunteers. Meanwhile, Democrats are choosing between two candidates, each of whom can win and can also rally the party in November.

-- Despite their strong position, the Democrats could still lose in November, not just on personality but on philosophy. Last night's debate showed plainly that both Barack and Hillary want far more governmental activism in tackling everything from the economy to health care to climate change. The public appears open to more government than in the recent past, but it isn't clear that it has yet come this far. Remember that the only two Democrats who have won the White House since Lyndon Johnson have been two southerners running as moderates, Carter and Clinton -- and neither won 50 percent of the popular vote.

-- Unfortunately, the election campaign so far hasn't yet shown clear evidence that any one of the candidates on either side is fully up to the challenges awaiting in 2009. Several of them would be fine for average times, but we are entering an extraordinary time in the presidency. Hopefully, the weeks ahead will provide a chance to explore more deeply what lies ahead -- and the leadership we so urgently need.

A post-script to last night's Democratic debate: Clinton, Edwards and Obama each told Tim Russert they would enforce laws requiring universities to allow military recruiters on campus. As a long-time advocate of restoring ROTC to major universities, I just want to add that a huge stumbling block now is the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of the military, which is seen at many schools as highly discriminatory against gays and lesbians. If that is amended -- as growing numbers in the military think should happen -- we will have a much better chance of persuading schools to honor service in the armed forces in the ways that they should.
Posted By CNN: 10:38 AM ET
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Morning Buzz
Good morning folks....The GOP political playing field is all even...Huckabee took Iowa, McCain declared victory in New Hampshire and NOW Romney has won Michigan...Soo it is all up to South Carolina to decide who the GOP favorite is....Let the games begin!!! On the Democratic side, Hillary won Michigan, but it was really NO contest....

And in other news, there are new details in the Murdered Marine story, the 911 tapes are out in the SF Zoo Tiger Attack story... Plus, do you think sex in a bathroom stall should be considered "private?" The ACLU does.... SO grab your morning coffee and check out today's headlines....

Posted By CNN: 5:29 AM ET
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Blog from the Back Row
It's a funny thing about control rooms, you can tell immediately when you walk into one if something big is happening. It sounds cliche but there's a certain energy and a certain urgency to a big news moment. In my 13 years in television I have never seen more people in a control room than I did tonight. Our coverage of the Michigan primary packed the front row, the back row, the last row (Yes there is another row behind the back row. It's where the people sit that get the graphics on the air.) and just about every square inch of real estate in between.

Tonight's challenge ... swapping out control room staffs while we were live. The political unit was producing the coverage until 10p and then we took over, literally with one person getting out of a chair and another sitting down, all while we were still on the air. I'm pretty sure we pulled it off seamlessly. And then we did it again at midnight when the Larry King Live folks took over from us.

This will be my last blog until Monday ... I am helping out on another show for a few days.
Posted By CNN: 12:12 AM ET
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Show some leadership
--Roland S. Martin, 360 Contributor

Where is Howard Dean? Leaders excel in moments of crisis. Leaders step up when others don't. In this, the chairman of the DNC has failed.

With two strong candidates running for president, the last thing the Democrats wanted was a diversion from real issues. And the race battle between Senators Clinton and Obama served no purpose other than to get the Dems off message, and potentially off the path to beating the GOP in November.

A number of people have told me that they personally emailed and called Dean, pleading with him to step in and end the madness. But he didn't, and shame on him for not doing so.

Let's assume he made some behind the scenes moves. What's more important is what the public sees, and what they needed was to see the chairman the leader of the party, the top dog, calling for unity and an abrupt end to the rancor.

Howie, sorry fella, you blew this one. If you make the mistake again, you might blow the election.
Posted By CNN: 7:10 PM ET
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Can McCain pull this rabbit out of the hat?

Amy Holmes
360 Contributor

If McCain wins Michigan tonight, he will be on his way to putting together a new, post-Reagan primary coalition no one saw coming: moderate Republicans and Independents, with a few Democrats sprinkled in.

Huckabee's dominance among Evangelical voters has allowed McCain to bypass the Evangelical block, stick to his strengths, and court Independents on his terms. Evangelicals are a tricky constituency for McCain (think "agents of intolerance" and McCain/Feingold). Huckabee has so far taken that vulnerability off the table.

If it works -- and that's still a big "if" -- McCain will have turned the rules inside out in a totally new, totally unexpected, and probably once in a lifetime political feat.

Remember when immigration was going to sink him?

Politics. Fascinating sport, ain't it?
Posted By CNN: 5:52 PM ET
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Today's fight over Civil Rights

Jeffrey Toobin
Senior Analyst

At one level, it seems to me, the latest dispute between the Clinton and Obama campaigns can be seen as the political equivalent of a Seinfeld episode -- about nothing.

The controversy involves the relative contributions to civil rights legislation by Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr. Clinton cited Johnson, who signed the main laws, as well as King. Obama focused on King, who provided the moral impetus. For America in 2008, it's hard to say how it makes much difference which candidate is right.

On the other hand, Clinton and Obama are tapping into one of the richest historical debates of the last several decades. Two of the finest multi-volume biographies in recent history -- Robert Caro on Johnson, and Taylor Branch on King -- deal with precisely the question the candidates are debating.

The books are very different in tone: Branch is admiring, often reverential, toward King; Caro is critical, sometimes even hostile to LBJ. But they come out close on the responsibility for the civil rights revolution.

Because both biographies are complex, nuanced (and very long), the authors avoid simple answers. But they show a shared responsibility between two giants for the triumphs of that era.

Both King and Johnson were indispensable -- a verdict that, upon reflection, Senators Clinton and Obama will probably come to share.

Posted By CNN: 3:08 PM ET
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Believe... But who do you believe?

Tom Foreman
360 Correspondent

Democrats in South Carolina, especially black Democrats, are facing a test of their beliefs: Do they believe Barack Obama can actuallly become president or not?

That's all it really comes down to. Many African-Americans have made it clear for months that they would like to vote for Obama, but they fear he can not win.

In Iowa and New Hampshire, he attracted more than enough white votes to ease those fears. Hillary Clinton, however, directly and indirectly keeps raising them, saying Obama is the wrong man, with the wrong experience, at the wrong time to be president now.

In other words, in every way, at every stop she is telling voters: do not believe that this man can win....and he is saying just the opposite. So who do you believe?
Posted By CNN: 2:56 PM ET
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Baseball: A Fraud

Gary Tuchman
360 correspondent

As a journalist and a baseball fan, I was curious whether anything substantive would come out of today's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's hearing on the Mitchell steroid report.

In addition to Senator George Mitchell, the committee members questioned baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and players union executive director Donald Fehr.

I wasn't encouraged on the several occasions when names were mispronounced by committee members, and when some seemed a little hazy about baseball history. Also questions about social responsibilities to Commissioner Selig seemed like a waste of time. (Is there really a chance Selig would say we don't have responsibilities?)

But I do think the committee understood the significance of this: that Major League Baseball is supposed to be different from pro wrestling or roller derby.

Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota hit the nail on the head when she exclaimed, "Every fan who's bought tickets for the last 20 years has been witness to a fraud."

Let the record reflect there was no clamoring in the committee room to disagree with that.

Posted By CNN: 2:45 PM ET
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Beat 360
Hi bloggers!

Last night rocked, you guys had some great captions! Ready for today's challenge? For those of you that don't know, we're starting something new: 'Beat 360.'

Every day we'll post a picture, and you provide the caption... Our staff will get in on the action too...

Tune in every night at 10p ET to see if you are our favorite!

Can you beat 360?
Here is today's 'Beat 360' pic:

Here's one to get you started:

"Yes I promise I won't let them get rid of 'Tater Tot Fridays'
...Now can you please unlock the gate?"

have fun with it - look forward to reading your comments!
Posted By CNNBLOG: 1:56 PM ET
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You call that the will of God?

David Mattingly
360 Correspondent

A year ago, I reported on the story of Mona Brewer, a former member and employee of Bishop Earl Paulk's Atlanta-area megachurch. Brewer claimed that Paulk used the scriptures to manipulate her into a twisted, 14-year sexual relationship.

In a lawsuit, she alleged that Paulk even had her perform sexual acts with other men, including a visiting minister. All the while, she said that Paulk had her convinced she was serving the will of God.

If a new perjury charge sticks, Paulk could end up serving time.

A district attorney accuses Paulk of lying under oath when he said Brewer was the only woman with whom he ever had an extramarital affair. That claim failed to stand up after a DNA test revealed Paulk was the father of his own nephew.
Posted By CNN: 1:04 PM ET
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Murdered Marine: You call this an investigation?

Randi Kaye
360 Correspondent

Today, Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown announced he won't be talking to the media anymore, until Corporal Cesar Laurean is caught.

Laurean is the U.S. Marine charged in the brutal murder of fellow Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child.

He's been on the run since last Friday. Police believe they recovered Lauterbach's charred remains in a fire pit behind Laurean's home over the weekend along with those of her baby.

Sheriff Brown has been holding press conferences daily and doing one-on-one interviews with local and national media.

Now he says it's time to get back to work and we shouldn't expect a word from him until Laurean is behind bars.

I've never heard of holding a press conference to announce you're NOT going to hold press conferences anymore. But nothing in this case has been business as usual.

The Marines knew Maria Lauterbach had accused Cesar Laurean of rape and didn't give the Sheriff his name until January 7th, TWENTY days after she disappeared.

The Marines knew Laurean was forbidden to go near Lauterbach. A military protective order was issued in June 2007. It had expired in September 2007, but the Marines never even told Sheriff Brown about it. He told me he wasn't aware of it until last weekend when his deputies found the paperwork in Lauterbach's car.

Can you imagine?

Turns out there is no protocol in place for the Marines when it comes to sharing information with civil law enforcement.

The Onslow County Sheriff's Department was the lead investigating agency on this case. The Marines didn't have to tell them everything. But they certainly could have.

Would it have saved Lauterbach's life? Tough to say. But it certainly may have prevented this massive manhunt for the key suspect living just a few miles away from the Sheriff's Department this whole time.

Sheriff Brown, no doubt, is frustrated. Last night he said he hadn't realized how many times his investigators had been rebuffed when they tried to talk to the Marines about the Lauterbach case, until he read the full report. So if I were him, I'd probably keep quiet for a while, too...
Posted By CNN: 11:23 AM ET
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Our Congress... out of touch

Drew Griffin
360 Correspondent

They're back. Yes, our elected legislators are back from a nice taxpayer-funded break, ready to tackle the big problems of the day. right?

Home foreclosures? Uh, No.

Gas prices? No.

Job growth, war on terror, alternative energy? No.

Baseball in steroids? Why, yes!

This past year AC360 had me look at earmark spending in Congress. The assignment put me closely to the workings of Congress and how our members spend your money.

In my humble opinion, I have never met a collective group of representatives so out of touch with the people they represent.

Today's hearings on steroids in baseball proves it.
Posted By CNN: 10:35 AM ET
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Has Bill Clinton found his voice?
--Julia Weinberg, 360 Associate Producer

To candidates' wives, Eleanor Roosevelt offered the following pearls of wisdom: "Always be on time. Do as little talking as humanly possible. Lean back in the parade car so everybody can see the president."

Ok, so not all of this holds up today -- the archetypal campaign wife has evolved dramatically. Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards have their own stumping schedules and rock-star rallies. But at the end of the day, it's still all about leaning back for the photo-op, right?

So what about Bill Clinton?

Hillary exalts in her newfound "voice." Will Bill find his again? He was absent from the stage theatrics last Tuesday night, when Hillary won the New Hampshire primary. Certainly no accident.

He's come under fire for calling Obama's claims about his history on Iraq a "fairy tale," and last month for criticizing the media for being too soft on Obama. Not to mention saying he opposed the Iraq war from the start -- critics note he publicly supported the 2002 senate resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

Bill Clinton draws huge crowds and is a tremendous asset to his wife's campaign, don't get me wrong. But is it just me, or is there something off-putting about seeing an ex-president getting scrappy in a New Hampshire diner?

Former presidents have stayed politically active earlier in our history. In recent memory, however, Americans have grown accustomed to seeing ex-presidents as relatively non-partisan statesmen, international peacekeepers, ribbon-cutters, and authors; not dogfighters.

Yes, the 2008 campaign is all about breaking barriers and challenging political norms. And maybe it's time I give up on my rosy, idealistic notions about the proper role for past residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I'm curious to hear what you think. Is it odd to see an ex-president re-enter the political fray? Do you think Bill Clinton has found his voice on the trail?

Send us your thoughts!
Posted By CNN: 10:29 AM ET
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Morning Buzz
Good Morning ALL!!! I am back. The skiing was fantastic...20 inches of snow is some parts of New England yesterday, I should have stayed in Vermont!!! But it is back to reality and the Morning Buzz... Our web folks made some tweaks to the buzz, what do you think?

Today is another big day in politics...the Michigan Primary. Will McCain pull out a win, again? Or will Romney claim victory in the state he was born in and his father governed??? BUT don't count Huckabee, Giuliani or Thompson out, yet....This race is way too close to call at this point....For the Democrats, Hillary is the ONLY major contender on her party's ballot -- but that doesn't guarantee a victory!!! S000 grab your coffee it is time for the morning buzz...

The ATM card of slain Marine Maria Lauterbach was found in a Durham, North Carolina, bus station over the weekend and the truck of the Marine suspected of killing her was reported in the area, police said Monday.
A snowstorm raced across northern New England Monday after burying parts of Massachusetts, dumping as much as 20 inches of snow in some places and forcing classes to be canceled at hundreds of schools.
Military officials said that about 3,200 Marines are being told to prepare to go to Afghanistan--a move that will boost combat troop levels in time for an expected Taliban offensive this spring.
The Iraqi defense minister said Monday that his nation would not be able to take full responsibility for its internal security until 2012, nor be able on its own to defend Iraq's borders from external threat until at least 2018.

One of Michigan's weirdest and wildest presidential primary seasons ends today with two big concerns...
John McCain has an automatic advantage Tuesday when Michigan votes.
Alternately promising and pleading, Republican Mitt Romney on Monday asked Michigan residents to vote for him in a primary election that could either rejuvenate or mortally wound his presidential campaign.
A demand for change, the issue that drove record-breaking turnout in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary this month, is echoing nationwide.
As health care generates debate in this year's presidential campaign, about 68 percent of Americans say individuals should be required to have medical insurance, with government help for those who cannot afford it, a survey released on Tuesday found.
Jarvis Jenkins and Kytu Ivory are two black voters with two very different ideas about the racial tensions that have flared between presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has eaten beef tacos in East Los Angeles and sat on the living room couch of a working-class family in a largely Hispanic neighborhood here for 30 televised minutes. At a rally of the culinary workers' union in the shadows of the Strip here one night, Senator Barack Obama pumped his fist and chanted with the crowd, "Si, se puede; si, se puede; si, se puede!" or, "Yes, we can!"

Giuliani says he's an agent of change
Republican Rudy Giuliani declared himself a "change agent" on Monday, saying he brought more change to New York City than any other mayor.
After the trench warfare of Iowa and New Hampshire and the upcoming skirmishes in a handful of states, a very different battle awaits the presidential candidates on Feb. 5: the biggest and most challenging single day in a recent campaign for a party nomination.

Fifth-grader Christopher Rodriguez sat down Thursday at his piano for his weekly lesson, arched his fingers over the keys and began to play.

The federal government sued Monday to gain access to land owned by a Texas city whose mayor has been highly critical of a planned U.S.-Mexico border fence.

Megachurch leader charged with perjury
An 80-year-old leader of a suburban mega church who is at the center of a sex scandal has been charged with lying under oath for saying he had sex outside marriage with only one other woman, court documents show.

In this farming community where nightfall usually brings clear, starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.

Britney Spears went to a courthouse Monday but abruptly left amid a swarm of paparazzi without attending a hearing in her child-custody battle with her ex-husband, missing a chance to try to persuade a commissioner to restore her visitation rights to her two little boys.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 12:25 AM ET
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Monday, January 14, 2008
Blog from the Back Row
Ok, so this is really a blog from the front row tonight. I am filling in for Jenny and lining the show so this might be a little short. Fortunately, there wasn't too much drama in the control room. The second half of Randi Kaye's "Murdered Marine" piece was finishing in edit while we were in the prior commercial break. A little blip of the pulse there but the producer of the piece, Diana Miller, has never missed a deadline in the years I've worked with her.

Tonight all the sweating was done several hours before air. Anderson hosted the 8p show of special election coverage so all our normal preshow routines were thrown off. Scripts had to be written in advance, video had to be cut expeditiously, control rooms schedules had to be adjusted, etc. A TV program is like a well oiled machine in that if one engine cog gets removed it takes a lot of effort to keep the car on the road.

A few swerves but no crashes tonight fortunately.
Posted By CNN: 11:16 PM ET
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Behind the Scenes: "Missing Marine"

Behind the scenes with 360 producer Chuck Hadad as he prepares tonight's report on the "Missing Marine."
Posted By CNNBLOG: 6:09 PM ET
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Anderson's View: War Against Women

I've been getting a lot of e-mails today about my piece on 60 Minutes last night. It was a story about what's happening to women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Watch Anderson's story from 60 Minutes)

The war that has plagued Congo for much of the last 10 years has been largely ignored by the rest of the world. It's actually the deadliest conflict since World War Two. More than 4 million people have died, and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped.

Most of the rapes are gang rapes, and they are extraordinarily brutal. Many women have had objects inserted into their vaginas -- broken bottles, bayonets, some women have even been shot between the legs.

Some of you may remember I went there last year for CNN. We did several broadcasts from Congo. I went back a couple months ago for CBS and sadly not much of anything has improved. In fact the fighting has resumed and it only seems to be getting worse.

I met one woman named Lucienne M'Maroyhi. She was raped by six soldiers. They made her brother hold a flashlight and watch her being raped. They then tried to get him to rape his sister, but he refused. They stabbed him to death in front of her.

She was held for eight months and raped everyday. She escaped, but her husband abandoned her, and she gave birth to a child -- a child of one of the soldiers who raped her. She named the beautiful little girl "Luck" because she feels lucky to be alive.

Lucienne is now enrolled with an organization called Women for Women, they help survivors of rape around the world. I've gotten a lot of e-mails from viewers asking how they can help. One way is to contact Women for Women. Here is their website:

and here are some other related links:
International Rescue Committee Aid In Congo

Thank you for all your e-mails. People need to know what's happening in Congo. These women deserve to have their stories known, they want people to understand what they are going through.
Posted By CNN: 4:00 PM ET
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The GOP's 180, and the Democrats' dangerous game

David Gergen

Senior Political Analyst

Someone said last week that people expect campaigns to be filled with straight runways but this one is all hairpin curves. That sure seems right.

I just spoke here in Florida to a group of heavy hitters who are supporting a program called Gentlemen Against Domestic Violence -- a very fine effort. The session was in Naples, one of the most affluent parts of the state where Rudy Giuliani has reportedly raised lots of money.

To my surprise, when I asked for a show of hands, support for Rudy was tepid at best. The room was much more evenly divided between McCain and Romney supporters -- with the sentiment seemingly running toward McCain as the best candidate for the fall. (By the way, they also like their governor, Charlie Crist, as a potential running mate; and they asked about Lieberman and Bloomberg as potential veeps, too). Who would have thunk that after all this effort, Rudy would be starting to drop in a place like Naples? Or that McCain has once again recaptured imaginations?

Meanwhile, I am suprised as well that the Democrats are heading off into treacherous waters over issues of race. Whatever one thinks about the merits of the dispute -- and I do think that Hillary & Co. started it -- the Democrats can ill afford racial divisions.

A friend and top political thinker has argued to me for some years that in New York City politics, the Democrats have a recent pattern of having a strong black and a strong white in their primary fight, that the white candidate often wins but only after a bruising fight that alienates many blacks and then in the general election, lots of blacks sit on their hands -- and a Republican wins. (Or sometimes it can be a Latino vs. an Anglo with similar dangers.)

I am not in a position at the moment to verify every detail but the theory sounds to me exactly right -- and illustrates that the Clinton and Obama campaigns need to bring out a peace pipe soon!
Posted By CNN: 3:55 PM ET
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Hillary: Our Modern LBJ

Amy Holmes

360 Contributor

Does Hillary really want to be making this comparison?

"Dr. King didn't just give speeches. He marched, he organized, he protested, he was gassed, he was beaten, he was jailed," [Hillary Clinton] said, noting King had campaigned for Johnson because he recognized the need to elect a president who could enact civil rights into law. [emphasis mine]

And because MLK had no other choice.

If you wanted to pass civil rights legislation, you had to appeal to the white politicians who held the power, set the agenda and cast the votes. MLK's great genius was to persuade those with power -- LBJ, as well as white fellow citizens -- to enfranchise those without -- America's black citizens.

So, is Hillary saying that, in 2008, Barack Obama should occupy the role of a black moral leader while she takes the reigns of power and handles the "legislative stuff"?

You know, like back in the old days when a black man couldn't be elected president?
Posted By CNN: 2:02 PM ET
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Beat 360
Happy Monday bloggers!

So far it's been great... Thanks for all your clever captions and fun feedback!
Ready for today's challenge? For those of you that don't know, we're starting something new: 'Beat 360.'

Every day we'll post a picture, and you provide the caption... Our staff will get in on the action too...

Tune in every night at 10p ET to see if you are our favorite!

Can you beat 360?
Here is today's 'Beat 360' pic:

Here's one to get you started:

"...And if you turn it this way, we get channels 2, 4 and 11"

OK now, the bird... i mean ball is in your court! have fun with it - look forward to reading your comments!
Posted By CNNBLOG: 12:59 PM ET
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Race and Gender: enough already!

Tom Foreman
360 Correspondent

Too much fuss is being made over race and gender in this presidential campaign. As I have traveled the country talking to voters, I have heard not the slightest hesitation from the vast majority over the idea of a female or African American in the oval office.

Maybe that's because people hide their predjudices well. Maybe it's because the most closed minds among us don't talk to reporters like me. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because America as a whole is fair, understanding, and ready to say it is time for the White House to no longer be quite so white, nor quite so much purely a man's castle.

What I have heard from so many voters is a broad sense that they truly believe no one should be blocked from our nation's highest office because of race or gender, but at the same time, they've made this clear, too: We should not elect someone just because that candidate breaks racial or gender tradition either, because wouldn't a decision based on such measures be the very definition of the sexism and racism many hope this election will refute?

What do you think? We'd like to hear.

Posted By CNN: 10:09 AM ET
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Sunday, January 13, 2008
Morning Buzz
Happy Monday morning to you. Your usual morning blogger Jamie Kraft is off skiing, so Ted Fine filling in here. The big snow that was forecast for the New York area hasn't arrived, but still my kids have a 90-minute delayed opening at school. Why is that? President Bush arrives in Saudi Arabia this morning, the Republican Presidential candidates focus on Michigan, and a Marine suspected in killing another Marine is still on the run.

CNN: President Bush used a speech Sunday to gently nudge authoritarian Arab allies to satisfy frustrated desires for democracy in the Mideast, but he saved his harshest criticism for Iran, branding it "the world's leading state-sponsor of terror."
CNN: A city marshal in Shreveport, Louisiana, cast doubt Sunday on reported sightings there of a man charged with murder in the death of a pregnant Marine. Authorities in North Carolina have charged Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean with murder in the death of a fellow Marine, Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20. She was eight months pregnant when last reported seen.
LA Times: Eager to cement the security gains of last year's troop buildup, the U.S. military has shifted its strategy from the streets to the corridors of power in a high-stakes effort to persuade Iraq's wary Shiite leaders to put thousands of predominantly Sunni men, many of them former insurgents, on the government payroll.
Washington Post: Sen. Hillary Clinton defended her recent remarks on civil rights Sunday, as Sen. Barack Obama weighed in on the controversy for the first time, describing Clinton's earlier comments about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. as "unfortunate" and "ill-advised."
CNN: The Republican presidential field appears to face a tough general election fight in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll. released Saturday. According to the survey, both of the Democratic front-runners, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, hold mostly double-digit -- and statistically identical -- advantages over Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, drawing greater than 50 percent support in each hypothetical matchup.
CNN: Retail sales in 2008 will suffer their weakest pace of growth in six years as Americans struggle with rising unemployment, worsening housing and credit market conditions and rising food and energy costs in the months ahead, according to a new industry forecast released Monday.

SF Chronicle: In the eyes of the law, keeping a caged tiger is like hauling dynamite or storing uranium - an activity so dangerous that even the most careful proprietor is responsible for any injuries to bystanders.

Albany Times Union: The names of R&B music star Mary J. Blige, along with rap artists 50 Cent, Timbaland and Wyclef Jean, and award-winning author and producer Tyler Perry, have emerged in an Albany-based investigation of steroids trafficking that has already rocked the professional sports world, according to confidential sources.

Freed Colombian hostage meets with son
CNN: Colombia's child welfare agency has granted freed hostage Clara Rojas full custody of the 3-year-old son taken from her during her years in a rebel camp in the jungle, the agency's director said Sunday.

'Atonement' takes best drama at Golden Globes
AP: The first Golden Globe of the night went to Cate Blanchett for her supporting role in "I'm Not There" -- and that pretty much said it all about the awards ceremony Sunday that was wiped out by the Hollywood writers strike.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 11:00 PM ET
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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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