Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Morning Buzz
Morning Folks...

Please pardon our appearance this morning. We are in the process of transitioning from one set of blogger software to another... SOOO while the look may change slighty, the content is still the same...NO worries...

In Raw Politics today...It is Florida Primary day! It was THE STATE in 2000 that decided the Presidency, but will it give us a clue as to who the GOP front runner is? Florida is also "the basket" that Rudy has put ALL his eggs in!!! Rumors have it that he just may drop out if he doesn't win!! So watch Anderson and the CNN political gang tonight for full coverage...

Also, if your Grandpa was a thief and your Daddy was a thief, sorry folks but chances are YOU will be one, TOO! Check out the new study in Crime & Punishment... Plus Mexican officials issued an arrest warrant for Cesar Laurean, he was last seen in that country... And speaking of jail, Chicago authorities arrested Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Rezko was the guy Hillary Clinton claimed Obama was spending a little too much time with... You might recall that Drew Griffin kept him honest for us last week...

PLUS, there is talk that herbal centers in California may start selling Marijuana in vending machines...make sure you have exact change!

Sooo grab your coffee...there are lots of headlines to chew over this morning....

Top Stories

Car bomb blast kills at least 3...
A car bomb exploded Tuesday outside a police station in northern Algeria, killing at least three people and wounding several others, security officials said.

Economists rate chance of recession as a 'coin flip'
There is a 50-50 chance that the U.S. economy will sink into recession this year, but any downturn will likely be short and shallow, according to a survey of economists out Tuesday.

Senate to Offer Own Stimulus Package...
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday unveiled a rival plan to stimulate the economy, offering a $500 check to virtually every American--including low-income seniors and rich financiers-- in a direct challenge to the bipartisan deal reached last week by President Bush and House leaders.

Bush's Final State of the Union...
President Bush used his final State of the Union speech Monday to call for a quick shot in the arm for the economy in "a period of uncertainty" and touted last year's progress in the ongoing war in Iraq.

A Defiant Look at What Little Lies Ahead...
Making his seventh and final State of the Union address, President Bush proposed a short list of initiatives Monday that more than anything else underscored the White House's growing realization that his biggest political opponents now are time and an electorate already looking beyond him.

Time running out to solve our problems...
Democratic Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius called for "a new course" for the nation on Monday, saying Americans "have no more patience with divisive politics" and urging President Bush to join "the vast majority of Americans" to make needed change.

Opposition Lawmaker Killed in Kenya...
Gunmen killed an opposition lawmaker in Nairobi early Tuesday, an attack likely to stoke the ethnic fighting that has gripped Kenya since last month's disputed presidential election.

Raw Politics

Florida critical for GOP contenders...
Republicans have battled fiercely for votes in Tuesday's critical Florida primary, as Democrats have largely ignored the state after national leadership said it would not seat Florida's delegates because of a squabble over scheduling.

McCain, Romney Trade 'Liberal' Barb...
Mitt Romney and John McCain accused each other Monday of being liberals, a charge tantamount to blasphemy in the caustic campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

McCain springs ahead in California...
The Arizona senator is 13 points ahead of his closest rival in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Monday: Thirty-nine percent of likely California Republican primary voters back McCain, while 26 percent support former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Kennedy Backs Obama With 'Old Politics' Attack...
Senator Edward M. Kennedy implored Americans on Monday "to turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion," as he placed the aura of the most prominent Democratic family around Senator Barack Obama's candidacy.

Fla. primary lacks luster of past contests...
As it showed in 2000, Florida is a swing state with the power to make or break a presidency. But its influence during this year's primary season has been mixed: The Democratic contest doesn't count toward the nomination and Republicans stand to lose half their delegates.

Giuliani Seeks to Prove Experts Wrong...
Rudy Giuliani, having bet almost his entire presidential campaign on Florida, hinted for the first time that he may drop out if he doesn't win the state's primary.

Crime & Punishment

New Orleans police officer killed by vagrant...
A vagrant wanted for questioning in a rape overpowered a police officer who was trying to handcuff him, then shot her to death with her own weapon Monday, police said.

For many of USA's inmates, crime runs in the family...
The fates of the three Caston brothers may well have been fixed at their births.

Keeping Them Honest

Rezko put in jail; bail is revoked...
Antoin "Tony" Rezko was roused at daybreak Monday from his Wilmette mansion by federal agents and ordered jailed by a judge who was disturbed that the politically connected businessman concealed a $3.5 million payment from overseas.

Question of Timing on Bush's Push on Earmarks...
President Bush has never shown much distaste for Congressional pork. But in his last year in office, with his party out of power on Capitol Hill, he declared Monday that he had had enough.

An American Builder's Failures in Iraq Are Found to Have Been More Widespread...
Rebuilding failures by one of the most heavily criticized companies working in Iraq, the American construction giant Parsons, were much more widespread than previously disclosed and touched on nearly every aspect of the company's operation in the country, according to a report released Monday by a federal oversight agency.

Ac360 Follow

Mexico issues warrant for Laurean...
Six days after Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean was tracked to a town in Mexico, a Mexican court issued an arrest warrant Monday for the alleged killer, the U.S. Embassy said.

What you WILL be talking about TODAY

Marijuana vending machines...
A herbal nutrition center will allow patients to get prescription marijuana from a vending machine. Affiliate KCAL reports.

Midlife slump finds people in their 40s down in the dumps...
Middle age makes you miserable, so don't blame your job, your kids, your spouse, your income or lack of it, suggests an international study of 2 million people from 80 nations released today.
Posted By CNN: 5:15 AM ET
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Monday, January 28, 2008
Morning Buzz
Morning Folks...Happy Monday!!!

Obama took South Carolina, McCain and Romney are in a virtual dead heat in Florida...so it looks like we will have to wait until Super Tuesday to get a better sense of who the actual '08 front runners are...Never a dull moment on the campaign trail...

And if you ever want to hire a hit man, I suggest you don't post it on craigslist!!! Check out that story in Crime & Punishment... PLUS, is it possible to arrest the President and Vice President of the United States? Well, the folks of Brattleboro, VT are going to try....hopefully, it won't be before tonight's State Of the Union address...

Sooo grab your coffee, it is time for the Morning Buzz...

Economy, War To Dominate State of Union...
For years, President Bush and his advisers expressed frustration that the White House received little credit for the nation's strong economic performance because of public discontent about the Iraq war. Today, the president is getting little credit for improved security in Iraq, as the public increasingly focuses on a struggling U.S. economy.

Still more rain in sodden California...
Fast-moving thunderstorms brought new waves of rain on Sunday to Southern California, following days of drenching weather and heavy mountain snowfall and raising fears of mudslides and flooding.

US shift seen to Pakistan, Afghanistan...
In a shift with profound implications, the Bush administration is attempting to re-energize its terrorism-fighting war efforts in Afghanistan, the original target of a post-Sept. 11 offensive. The U.S. also is refocusing on Pakistan, where a regenerating al-Qaida is posing fresh threats.

Police, rioters clash in fresh Kenya violence...
Police battled rioters in the west of Kenya on Monday as tribal clashes that left 130 dead over four days spread further across the country.

Iraqi forces positioning for battle with al Qaeda loyalists...
A major movement of Iraqi forces gathered on Sunday in Mosul as a prelude to a planned offensive against Islamic fighters loyal to al Qaeda, an Iraqi government spokesman said.

Hussein was surprised U.S. invaded...
Saddam Hussein let the world think he had weapons of mass destruction to intimidate Iran and prevent the country from attacking Iraq, according to an FBI agent who interviewed the dictator after his 2003 capture.

Chicago church offers sanctuary to 2nd illegal immigrant...
The tiny storefront church that sheltered Elvira Arellano in yearlong defiance of a federal deportation order is poised to give sanctuary to another undocumented immigrant facing deportation, church leaders said Sunday.

Kennedy Chooses Obama, Spurning Bill Clinton Plea...
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, rejecting entreaties from the Clintons and their supporters, is set to endorse Senator Barack Obama’s presidential bid on Monday as part of an effort to lend Kennedy charisma and connections before the 22-state Feb. 5 showdown for the Democratic nomination.

Romney, McCain battle for Fla. votes...
Republican Mitt Romney sought to lock up the Florida primary by refusing to talk Sunday about little else but the economic jitters confronting the nation. His rivals took different tacks toward the same goal as they fanned out across the Sunshine State.

Races Entering Complex Phase Over Delegates...
The presidential campaign is entering a new phase as Democratic and Republican candidates move beyond state-by-state competition and into a potentially protracted scramble for delegates Congressional district by Congressional district.

Obama says SC win turns a page...
Democrat Barack Obama said Sunday that his landslide win in South Carolina's presidential primary marks a turn in political history, showing that a black candidate can appeal to voters of all colors and in all regions.

Super Tuesday looks close for Democrats...
In eight days, on Feb. 5, Obama and his principal rival, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, face off in the contest dubbed Super Tuesday, the biggest day of presidential primary voting in U.S. history

Top Candidates' Teams Look to the Lawyers...
As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination raged on in South Carolina and across the country this weekend, America's top trial lawyers became the focal point of a different aspect of the campaign at a seaside resort here.

Wanted: Someone to kill my boyfriend's wife...
A US woman was arrested this week after she allegedly tried to hire a hit man to murder her married lover's wife by posting an ad on the popular website craigslist, law enforcement officials said Sunday.

Ohio DNA program flawed...
Ohio's DNA testing program for inmates seeking to prove their innocence is deeply flawed, with police routinely discarding evidence after trials and court-ordered tests never getting done, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The federal agency that regulates the nation's mining industry says it has failed to issue penalties for hundreds of citations issued since 2000, and the problem could extend as far back as 1995.

Calif. needs more firefighting resources...
A panel reviewing last fall's deadly Southern California wildfires called Friday for additional personnel and equipment as a means of responding quickly and with overwhelming force before small blazes spread.

Brattleboro to vote on arresting Bush, Cheney...
Brattleboro residents will vote at town meeting on whether President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be indicted and arrested for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in Vermont.
"No Country for Old Men" emerged as the Oscars favorite Sunday by taking top honors for overall cast along with Javier Bardem's supporting-actor prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the lone gathering of A-list stars in an awards season hobbled by the writers strike.

Wild elephant attacks tourist in China...
A wild elephant in southern China picked up an American tourist with its trunk and threw him in the air, causing the man to suffer from fractured ribs and stomach injuries, an official said Monday.
Posted By CNN: 5:17 AM ET
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Saturday, January 26, 2008
Debate lipstick?
Editor's note: Makeup artist Kriss Soterion's been getting some national attention for her work. We asked her to blog about her time with the candidates.

Yup that's right. More than any previous election all eyes are on the lipstick because a women is in the mix.

I couldn't be a happier makeup artist, celebrating my 20th year painting faces! I will never forget the first time I powdered her face (Senator Clinton that is!) at the National Democratic Convention in Boston in '04. She was already made up and just needed a little blotting... I looked into her beautiful blue eyes and dreamed that one day I would have a chance to work my full magic on her.

On June 3, I got my chance using my special techniques, and my own product line, that make women look younger, brighter and more lifted. I went with my intuition that night and custom blended a special lipstick for her, it was not her usual red. After much positive press and interest in "what I did to her that night" I formulated "debate" lipstick, the exact mix (which my beloved CNN crew/woman love to wear).

After last week's Los Angeles Times spread in the style section, a segment on Inside Edition, radio and assorted national press, women all over the country are beginning to wear it too. A portion of proceeds are blessing New Life Home for Women in Manchester, N.H., a women's shelter that is dear to my heart.

As CNN's freelance makeup artist for special events, I have been in a unique situation to makeup up all the candidates for all the debates across the country. I have seen them strive, endure and evolve from behind the scenes, a place where very few venture.

I have the opportunity to touch them with the stroke of my brush, the warmth of my smile, a prayer and a nod for confidence. I connect with them eye to eye. We giggle, meditate, prepare. They are all extraordinary, each and every one of them.

During the debate I sit back stage and watch the monitor, where there is never any sound, and quietly study their faces, waiting for sweat or shine, or a need for more lipstick!

-- Kriss Soterion, CNN Makeup artist

Program note: Anderson Cooper moderates when the Republican candidates for President debate Wednesday, January 30 at 8p ET on CNN.
Posted By CNN: 11:06 AM ET
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Friday, January 25, 2008
Blog from the Back Row
There were supposed to be pictures tonight to give you a view of the control room from the back row. The photos didn't happen because of late word from Chicago that a decomposed body, which could be that of Stacy Peterson, had been found at an industrial site in Chicago. However, If you had gotten those pictures you would have seen:

- our satellites coordinator, Brooke Turnbull, with multiple phones plastered to his ears, making sure that the two late guests and two late phoners actually made air at the top of the show

- our video coordinator, Ashley Corum, frantically cutting new video of investigators at the site that was being fed in from the field

- our line producer, Jenny Blanco, doing rundown aerobics to make sure the hour did not become a 90 minutes show

In the end, Brooke got us the guests, Ashley got us the pics and Jenny got us out on time.

Enjoy the weekend. See you Monday.
Posted By CNN: 11:07 PM ET
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America: The promising
-- Jamie Floyd, 360 Contributor

This morning, as I was walking to the subway -- in a rare moment when I actually looked up from my Blackberry -- I saw a child running towards me, a boy -- he couldn't have been more than 9 or 10 years old. His face was full of joy and expectation, as he ran toward his school, his mother, his friends or whatever it was behind me that caused him to come charging past.

And I smiled; because you see -- this boy was black. A young African-American child on his way to school, unaware of all of the obstacles he will face in this world: An unemployment rate that is higher for black men than any other segment of the population, a life expectancy that is shorter, an appalling incarceration rate and a drop-out rate that is unacceptable.
But I smiled. I smiled because this black child is also growing up in a world of possibility.

For the first time, a black man has a very real chance of becoming president of the United States.

So, I smiled because, even though he likely doesn't know it yet, that little boy has a reason to be joyful today. Even if Barack Obama is not elected president, this black child will grow up knowing that someday -- HE could be.

And that means this is a new and better country -- an America that holds out promise to all of its children.

Posted By Jackie Adams: 7:46 PM ET
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Erica Hill Cometh

Erica Hill
360 Correspondent

Hard to believe this is my last day at Headline News -- and that as of Monday, I will be a full time member of the AC 360 staff.

I am so excited about the move! I knew good things were in store, but when I read Anderson's blog entry from earlier this week and your responses, I really got pumped. You certainly know how to make a girl's day!

Thank you for all of your kind words and wishes. I have a great time doing cut-ins with Anderson every night, and am looking forward to making a bigger contribution to the show. I am joining an incredible team of journalists both in front of and behind the camera, and I know I will learn so much from all of them.

A warning to the 360 team, though: I'm bringing some fun with me. If you subscribe to my daily Prime News newsletter, you know all about the show team's exploits and our many potlucks. I even helped to start a band on my show once (can't imagine why we didn't get a record deal!) There's more to this gal than cut-ins and dramatic animal video!

Thanks again for the warm welcome - I'm looking forward to making the move official.
Posted By CNN: 4:01 PM ET
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Beat 360
Afternoon bloggers!

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

Every day we 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 or two to get you started:

"Speaking of change... I think she needs one..."

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

Posted By CNNBLOG: 3:38 PM ET
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Testifying from the Grave: Yes, it's pretty rare

Jeffrey Toobin
360 Contributor

Some cases are so fascinating, so legally intriguing, that you have to make sure to pause and remind yourself that they are rooted in human tragedy.

Julie Jensen, a 40-year-old mother of two, was found dead, poisoned to death, in her home in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

It turns out that Julie left a note with a neighbor saying that if she were to turn up dead, her husband Mark should be the lead suspect.

So is the note admissible in evidence during her husband's murder trial? Under the traditional rules of hearsay evidence, the answer would be no -- because Mark Jensen's lawyer would have no one to cross-examine about the note.

But the Wisconsin Supreme Court said yes, the letter could be received in evidence, under a novel theory... basically that there is probable cause to believe that Mark Jensen had something to do with Julie Jensen's inability to testify. (Read the Wisconsin Supreme Court's opinion)

It's an interesting legal mystery. CNN's Gary Tuchman went to Wisconsin to cover the story, and Anderson and I will discuss the issue tonight on 360.

Posted By CNN: 2:53 PM ET
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In Davos: The U.S. On a Downhill Slope
David Gergen
360 Contributor
DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- It is unsettling these days to be an American at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

When I first started coming here about 15 years ago, the U.S. was the centerpiece of attention and respect. Especially after the Cold War, we were seen as a benevolent hyper power.

I remember vividly how Larry Summers, then a professor, argued that not since the days of ancient Rome had there been such a large gap between the most powerful society on earth versus the No. 2 -- in economic, political, military and cultural influence. Where there was some definite resentment among some of the leaders on hand, the more general reaction was one of warmth.

One felt extremely proud to be a representative from the USA.

That view actually started to change before George W. Bush took office, as others around the world worried how governable we are. Still, the immediate reaction to 9/11 was an outpouring of support and sympathy -- so strong that the founder of the forum, Klaus Schwab, moved the January 2002 sessions to New York City as a message of world solidarity with the U.S.

Never before or since has the World Economic Forum been held away from Davos.

Iraq brought a change here, just as it did in world opinion. The sessions just before and after the war started, touched off the greatest anger toward the United States that anyone can remember at Davos. It got pretty ugly in some sessions. But the Europeans and others thought there must be a saving grace. Surely, they thought, the president is acting without much public support at home.

How wrong they were.

When Bush swept to a resounding re-election in 2004, the Davos of January, 2005 was one of pretty sullen resignation by delegates from other countries.

By 2006, the mood changed again: ok, if you are not going to lead well in America, we will have to start moving ahead without you. By 2007, China and India suddenly became the center of attention as people spoke in awe of their growth and crowded into sessions on "Whither Asia?"

Now this year, my observation is that people are following the election campaign closely but they are not at all optimistic that the U.S. is going to resume its world leadership role. And there is far more despair here about the U.S. government's foot dragging on climate change than Iraq (fortunately, some U.S. CEOs like Jim Rogers of Duke Energy are much more aggressive in fighting carbon emissions than our government, so that helps in arguing that America may one day soon play a more responsible role on the environment.)

Overall, I would have to say, Asia is seen as the future here while there is a big, big question mark hanging over the U.S.

Does any of this matter? I think it does.

Davos brings together about 2,500 leaders from business, finance, government, the academy, journalism and the like. One can dismiss them as elites, but for better or for worse, elites do play a significant role in shaping the course of events.

If you believe, as I do, that it is critical to the future of the globe that the U.S. become once again a power to whom others turn with respect and for leadership, we need to pull ourselves back up.

We don't need to be the world's only superpower -- we have to respect the right of others to share join leadership -- but it will be a much more threatening world for our kids and grandkids if others rise and we continue on a downhill slope.
Posted By CNN: 2:50 PM ET
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Bill Clinton: Helping or hurting? Or both?

Candy Crowley
Senior Political Correspondent

Sitting in a college chapel in Columbia, South Carolina, in my usual morning role: waiting for HRC. Pondering The Bill Clinton Card.

On the one hand, if somebody's going to go after Obama, shouldn't it be HER, a.k.a. the actual candidate?

When he's the pitbull:

A) She looks like she needs his protection -- circa 1950 -- not so cool for a woman who wants to be commander-in-chief. She is woman. She should roar -- circa 1970.

B) Former presidents are supposed to be elder statesman. BC's off-the-rails pitbull thing is tacky.

C) The spectre of a co-presidency looms. As Joe Biden once said to me, "Can you imagine being vice president with him (BC) in the White House?" Or Secretary of State or National Security Adviser, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

D) BC is so strident vis a vis Obama, party operatives worry BC is doing permanent party damage.

He hurts her.

On the other hand:

A) He's her husband for heaven's sake, acting like a husband. It's not like their marriage is a secret. If she kept him chained to his chair in Chappaqua, THEN what would people say? Besides does anyone doubt she's a tough cookie?

B) When was the last time a former president's wife ran for president? Exactly. New role. New rules.

C) He's got a Democratic party approval rating of 89%; many democrats WANT him to have a big role.

D) Dems so lust for the White House, bygones will be bygones before June.

He helps her.

Pondering at an end.

HRC just took the podium, after cameo appearances from two New York imports -- Rep. Charlie Rangel and former New York Mayor David Dinkins, both African-Americans who said race is not an issue in the campaign, a frequent refrain now from camp Clinton.

Gotta Go listen, leaving you to ponder the Bill Clinton card.
Posted By CNN: 12:03 PM ET
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Morning Buzz
Morning....TGIF!!! This has been a long long week... Another debate last night, another primary tomorrow...Will Obama maintain his 13 point lead in South Carolina like the latest polls predict or will the "Bill factor" propel Hillary to another victory? All is fair in love and war....

GOOD news on the economy...we FINALLY have a deal on the economic stimulus package...let's hope it helps EVERYONE!!! And it definitely pays to tip off the authorities if you have suspicions about terrorism...A Minnesota flight instructor just received $5 MILLION...yes, $5 MILLION for notifying his boss about Zacarias Moussaoui's suspicious behavior...

Grab your coffee...and let's get started...here are your morning headlines...

Bush and House in Accord for $150 Billion Stimulus...
Hoping to give a quick adrenaline shot to the ailing economy, President Bush and House leaders struck a deal on Thursday for a $150 billion fiscal stimulus package, including rebates for most tax filers of up to $600 for individuals, $1,200 for couples and, for families, an additional $300 a child.

Bush speech to have few new ideas...
In a bow to political reality, President Bush's final State of the Union speech will skip bold proposals in favor of ones the country has heard before, a modest approach for a White House that prides itself on big ideas.

Teenager arrested in suicide hijacking plot...
Authorities have charged a teenage boy who said he planned to hijack a commercial jetliner in an attempt to commit suicide, an FBI spokesman told CNN late Thursday.

Troops could go to Pakistan...
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Thursday that the United States is "ready, able and willing" to send troops to Pakistan if the government of the South Asian nation is interested.

Flight instructor gets $5 million for catching '20th' hijacker...
A Minnesota flight instructor who notified his bosses of student Zacarias Moussaoui's suspicious behavior received a $5 million reward Thursday from the State Department, two government officials told CNN.

Egypt sealing parts of border with Gaza...
Egyptian soldiers in riot gear formed a human chain Friday along parts of their county's border with Gaza, where tens of thousands of Palestinians have crossed back and forth with little interference for the last two days.

Obama with 13-point lead in South Carolina: poll...
Barack Obama has a 13-point lead on rival Hillary Clinton but his support has eroded slightly on the eve of South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Friday.

Clinton is unworthy?
Republican presidential contenders depicted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as weak on Iraq and certain to raise taxes Thursday night, setting aside their own campaign debate squabbles long enough to agree that she is unworthy of the White House.

GOP debate focuses on economy in wake of stimulus plan...
Facing a pivotal primary in Florida next week, the Republican presidential candidates jousted Thursday over who has the best background to deal with the nation's economic slump.

In the South, Echoes of Jackson's Run...
Nearly 25 years of social change, political realignment and demographic shifts separate the presidential candidacies of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Senator Barack Obama. Even so, there are echoes of 1984 as the battle for the Democratic nomination once again roars across the South, focused squarely on African Americans.

Giuliani's Florida Win Appears in Danger...
Rudy Giuliani splurged on Florida, lavishing time and money on a high-risk gamble that the state would vault him to the Republican presidential nomination.

New York Times endorses Clinton, backs McCain over Giuliani...
The New York Times endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination over Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the GOP field, strongly criticizing the former mayor of its home city.

Clinton's Campaign Sees Value in Keeping Former President in Attack Mode...
Advisers to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton say they have concluded that Bill Clinton's aggressive politicking against Senator Barack Obama is resonating with voters, and they intend to keep him on the campaign trail in a major role after the South Carolina primary.

Posing as girl, retired cop nabs prey...
No one will ever confuse Jim Murray with a teenager. His tall frame, broad shoulders and clipped gray hair give him away for the grandfather he is. But the 69-year-old retired police chief of this small Missouri town cuts a credible figure as a 13-year-old girl surfing the Web, looking for friends. He knows all the instant-messaging shorthand, the emoticons

Four California Museums Are Raided...
Federal agents raided a Los Angeles gallery and four museums in Southern California on Thursday, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as part of a five-year investigation into the smuggling of looted antiquities from Thailand, Myanmar, China and Native American sites.

French Bank Links Lone Futures Trader To $7 Billion Fraud...
For five years, Jerome Kerviel toiled in the back offices of Societe Generale, learning the intricacies of the six-layer security system that France's second-largest bank used to protect its money, investors and customers from fraud, according to bank officials here.

Ledger's masseuse made 4 calls to Olsen...
The woman who discovered a lifeless Heath Ledger spent nine minutes making three calls to Mary-Kate Olsen before she dialed 911 for help, police said Thursday. She called the "Full House" actress a fourth time after paramedics arrived.

Winds of change sweep skid row...
Check-in at the Cecil Hotel had to wait a few minutes because Kerri Torrance, the clerk working the graveyard shift one night in November, had to deal with a heist.

Colorado Lawmaker Censured for Kicking...
In the week leading up to his first day on the job, State Representative Douglas Bruce, a Republican, got into a lengthy dispute with the Democratic speaker of the House over the time of his swearing in.
Posted By CNN: 5:25 AM ET
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Thursday, January 24, 2008
Calculating the Clintons
-- Carl Bernstein, CNN Contributor

The calculated decision that Bill Clinton will lead his wife's attack on Barack Obama -- here and now, and increasingly leading up to the February 5 Super Tuesday primaries -- represents a shift in the fundamental Democratic campaign dynamic, which is unnerving influential Democrats, both in her camp and Obama's.

They fear that the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination has thus taken on an ugly aspect that is already spinning out of control, and could damage the party's chances in November; strip the former President of his unique position as the Democrats' most popular and influential figure; and -- worst of all -- focus attention not on electing Sen. Hillary Clinton as president, but rather, the less palatable question of the Clintons' -- plural -- restoration to the White House.

The whole question of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and their difficult relationship to the truth is now front and center. Or, as one of the Clintons' suppoters put it to me, "The circus is back. Many Democrats may love Bill Clinton -- and they do -- but not many relish the prospect of the circus back on center-stage" in American life.

However, the Clintons believe this course -- with Bill Clinton leading a careful but unrelenting attack on Obama's credibility and credentials -- may be the only way to reduce the chances that Hillary Clinton could get grievously injured in the February 5 Super Tuesday primaries and lose the nomination to Obama.

Editor's note: Carl Bernstein discusses his views with Anderson on tonight's 360 at 10p ET.
Posted By CNN: 8:05 PM ET
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Anderson's View: Heath Ledger coverage
For the last two nights we have reported on actor Heath Ledger. His shocking death is clearly a story a lot of people are interested in, but tonight we will not be reporting more on it. The truth is there is not really anything new to report.

The full results of the various tests done on Mr. Ledger will not be ready for perhaps a few weeks and there is very little new information. I have no doubt other networks will spend a lot of time tonight discussing his death and the various rumors about what might have caused it, but I am not a fan of speculation, so unless there is something really new to discuss we probably won't be covering it anymore anytime soon.

Tonight we are focusing a lot on politics. The battle between Obama and the Clintons continued today, and we will be examining several different aspects of it. I'm curious to hear your thoughts, in particular about the role President Clinton is playing on the campaign trail. Is it appropriate?

Let me know what you think.

--Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 7:30 PM ET
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Why Golf has it backwards

360 contributor and 'In Session' anchor Jami Floyd has the 'Last Word' on why golf has it backwards.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 4:34 PM ET
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BEAT 360
Afternoon bloggers!

Nice job last night - lets do it again today! Ready for today's challenge? For those of you who don't know, we've started something new: 'Beat 360.'

Every day we 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 or two to get you started:

"Your majesty, you have a call from King Kong..."

LOL, OMG U R 2 funny. I'll C if I can go. TXT U LTR!
(...Where's the bloody 'SEND' button!)

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

Posted By CNNBLOG: 3:36 PM ET
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Obama e-mail smear campaign
We've received many blog comments in the past few weeks mentioning an e-mail about Barack Obama being a Muslim, being anti-Christian, and being anti-American.

We heard you loud an clear.

Check out Candy Crowley's report on the e-mail smear campaign against presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. We're Keeping Them Honest.

Posted By CNNBLOG: 2:21 PM ET
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Human Growth Hormone is no free ticket to youth
David Mattingly
360 Correspondent

How old do you have to be to worry about looking old? In Beverly Hills, one doctor who specializes in treatments that roll back time tells me he's now getting calls from Hollywood 30-somethings and rap stars seeking injections of human growth hormone (HGH) and illegal steroids.

Everyone knows what steroids did to baseball. Now it seems that performing artists outside of sports are looking for similar ways to enhance performance.

But the Beverly Hills doctor tells me most people don't understand. HGH can help you look and feel better, but you're not going to see results unless you take supplements, eat right and EXERCISE! And HGH can be prescribed legally only to people with an HGH deficiency or with muscles wasted by AIDS.
Program note: Watch David's report tonight on 360 at 10p ET
Posted By CNNBLOG: 1:59 PM ET
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Cruising Carolina: En route to HRC's economic speech
Candy Crowley
360 Correspondent

For starters this is a big state. Wish you could get points for car mileage. Dashboard panel reads "low tire pressure." Is this a problem?

Hurdle one cleared, we found the site with minimal U-turns. We're told HRC and entourage has landed.

The crowd sits.


Major microphone problems here in the pre-show, which is not long enough to fill the gap between when the audience arrives and HRC walks in.

Stunningly, several speakers praising HRC. Now a guy who says he's proud of Bill for sticking up for HRC. Here we go: He intros former governor and former (Clinton) U.S. Education Sec. Dick Riley who will introduce HRC.

Big problem: Riley not here.

The crowd sits.


OK, the Riley introducer is back, was told to re-intro Riley. The plot thickens. Riley still a no show.

The crowd sits.


A woman has shown up -- says she's not prepared but she'll sing Amazing Grace. Fortunately, she has a great voice.
She's gone now.

The crowd sits.


They're totally out of people apparently. The canned music is on.

The crowd sits.


They found another speaker. She's introducing... DICK RILEY.

Good News, Blogees, third time's a charm. Dick Riley is here and guess who's with him? He found HRC. She says she's sorry she's late. She says next week President Bush will give his last state of the union next week.

The crowd claps.


HRC says it's enough to make you burst into song, but she doesn't.
The crowd claps. We are back on track. Gotta listen now.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 12:56 PM ET
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After the Inferno, at Hotel Disaster

Candy Crowley
360 Correspondent

Knowing, dear readers, that you were fraught with worry overnight about our stay at Hotel Disaster, a quick update:

They are back in business here, though one shudders to think what that might mean. ANYWHO, the ship has been (almost) righted, save the elevators which remain out of commission.

Frankly, the inconvenience to us second floor dwellers is minimal, even welcome. After hours of stand-ups, walk-ups must be healthy.

I do fear however for our ace photojournalist Tim Walls, lugger of heavy camera equipment, a 6th floor inhabitant. He looked beleaguered at the morning live shot. But then, maybe, so did we all.

Onward and Upward.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 12:25 PM ET
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Morning Buzz
Morning Folks!!! I think to start the morning out right we ALL need a $20,000 cup of coffee NOW that is what I am talking about... There are lots of headlines to get through today, so you may need a few of the cheaper cups...

In Raw Politics...new Presidential polls out show Hillary still out front across the country. BUT I am NOT sure that Rudy's strategy is paying off...The Washington Post poll shows McCain and Romney leading in Florida...Plus there are NEW details in the death of actor Heath Ledger...And the FDA is NOW requiring "suicide studies?" What is that all about?

AND sorry folks, BUT those were not UFO's flying over Texas...

After decades of inattention to the possible psychiatric side effects of experimental medicines, the Food and Drug Administration is now requiring drug makers to study closely whether patients become suicidal during clinical trials.

The masseuse who discovered Heath Ledger's body made two frantic calls to his latest squeeze, actress Mary-Kate Olsen, before dialing 911 for help, police revealed yesterday.

The events leading up to and immediately following the discovery of Heath Ledger's body in his SoHo apartment:

Deal for Economic Stimulus plan closer?
House Democratic and Republican leaders are looking for imminent agreement with the White House on an emergency package to jolt the economy out of its slump after negotiators on all sides made significant concessions at a late-night bargaining session.

How Low Should the Fed Go When Cutting Rates?
One of the key questions facing Federal Reserve policy makers next week, in the wake of their surprise rate cut Tuesday, is how much lower they should push interest rates to rescue the U.S. economy.
A suicide bomber killed Nineveh province's director of police in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Thursday, the U.S. military said.

8 police killed in Afghan operation...
At least eight policemen were killed Thursday during an operation by U.S.-led coalition troops in central Afghanistan, which also left several insurgents dead, officials said.

U.S. commander orders plans on Pakistan...
The commander of U.S. forces in Central Asia has launched planning for more extensive use of U.S. troops to train Pakistani armed forces, a senior defense official said Wednesday.

After months of debate over illegal immigration, social issues and the Iraq war, the economy and taxes have emerged as the central focus of the Republican race in Florida.

Super Tuesday won't decide nominations...
Don't look to crown any presidential nominees on Super Tuesday. The race for delegates is so close in both parties that it is mathematically impossible for any candidate to lock up the nomination on Feb. 5, according to an Associated Press analysis of the states in play that day.

Romney Leads in Ill Will Among G.O.P. Candidates...
At the end of the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire this month, when the Democrats joined the candidates on stage, Mitt Romney found himself momentarily alone as his counterparts mingled, looking around a bit stiffly for a companion.

Obama backer accuses Bill Clinton of suppressing vote...
A prominent supporter of Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday compared Bill Clinton's appeals for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, in South Carolina to the tactics used by a former Republican strategist that are infamous within Democratic circles.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton maintains a solid lead in her party's presidential race among Democratic voters nationwide, despite a surge in support since late last year for Sen. Barack Obama, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

Ill. ex-cop was ready for dating game...
A former police officer suspected in the disappearance of his wife was ready to take part in a radio competition in which women would vie to date him before station officials canned the idea Wednesday.

The two companies that managed the design and construction of the costly Big Dig project here will pay more than $400 million in an agreement with the government over leaky tunnels and a fatal ceiling collapse.

Cop's big ego stole half my life...
Tim Masters often drank heavily before he was imprisoned for murder in 1999, but he said he's sworn off the stuff in an interview Wednesday, his first full day of freedom in nearly nine years.

UFOs? Nope...
Ten Air Force Reserve F-16 fighter jets were the cause of the lights seen over parts of central Texas earlier this month that many believed to be UFOs, according to an Air Force Reserve news release.

Comic actor John Ritter died on his daughter's 5th birthday in September 2003. The next day, his widow, actress Amy Yasbeck, told the girl that her dad's death was unavoidable.Since then, Yasbeck has come to believe the story she told their daughter Stella was wrong.

Posted By CNN: 5:51 AM ET
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Fire on the campaign trail. And I mean fire.

Candy Crowley
Senior Political Correspondent

Editor's note: Candy filed her story for 360 tonight from a van outside her hotel in Irmo, South Carolina, a suburb of Columbia, because there was a fire in her hotel. Afterward, she filed this brief follow-up:

It is weirdly quiet here now at Hotel Disaster.

The good news is the fire trucks are gone.

The bad news: fire and flood restoration services is here.

The elevators are down and the power might go off in the rooms.

Otherwise, we are having a great time.
Posted By CNN: 11:42 PM ET
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Heath Ledger: More answers, and questions

Jason Carroll
360 Correspondent

The scene at 421 Broome street has been eerie.

News cameras and still photographers mobbed the street last night and early this morning, taking pictures of a makeshift shrine in front of Heath Ledger's apartment.

Flowers, candles, letters, and a magazine photo of the actor adorned the sidewalk next to the entrance of the posh four-story loft building, right in front of a high end fashion store.

People would walk by, some stopping to read the cards and letters, some asking us what happened. And everyone had the same question, how did he die?

The autopsy today was "inconclusive," and police have been reluctant to speculate over the cause. But they revealed more details on what happened the day Ledger was found dead.

Police shot down rumors of illegal drug use, but are investigating whether the prescription drugs found nearby had anything to do with his death. And, it may be another two weeks before we have a solid answer on how Ledger died.

Program note: See Jason Carroll's report on 360 at 10p, 11p, and 1a ET
Posted By CNN: 9:48 PM ET
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Heath Ledger: What we need to know

Jami Floyd
"In Session" Anchor/360 Contributor

Yesterday the actor Heath Ledger, most famous for his Oscar-nominated role in "Brokeback Mountain," was found dead in his New York City apartment. He was just 28 years old.

And of course we won't know what killed him until more tests come back... the autopsy was "inconclusive," but here's what we do know: Police are calling it a possible prescription drug overdose. No signs of foul play, and a bottle of sleeping pills reportedly found. No illegal narcotics found in the room, though.

And here's what else we know: prescription drugs are the second most abused drug among teens after pot. Not cocaine, not meth, not heroin, legal drugs prescribed by medical professionals.

So the police may be saying no signs of foul play in Heath Ledger's death, but I want to know, if he overdosed, what the names of the doctors on any little brown bottles found at the scene are. Let's hope Heath's death is not the last word.

Check out more Jami Floyd blogs on 'In Session'

Posted By CNNBLOG: 6:24 PM ET
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Race or Gender: Once more, with feeling...

Randi Kaye
360 Correspondent

Are you voting race or gender in this campaign?

I found out this week that is a loaded question. I did a story for 360 Monday night which focused on black women at a beauty salon in Charleston, South Carolina.

An African-American Democratic analyst had told me black women are struggling with the dilemma of whether to vote race or gender. In other words, Obama or Clinton.

At Anjae's Hair Salon, we interviewed a handful of African American women who told us they are voting the issues, not race or gender. We made it very clear in our report that these women say they are smarter than that. This campaign is about choosing the best candidate on healthcare, education and the economy, we reported.

Well, who would've thought our little discussion at this hair salon would have inspired such a fiery debate about our debate.

My CNN.com story on this topic from Monday generated half a million page views so far. Hosts of The View on ABC bashed us on Tuesday for even raising the question of 'race or gender?' Host Whoopi Goldberg actually said my story made her "pissed off." (WATCH the clip)

I guess we're not alone though.

Did you know Oprah's blog has an e-mail chain titled "Oprah is a traitor" just because she is supporting Obama? That surprises me since our expert told us there is a perception in the black community that race trumps gender, and that some would consider any woman voting for Hillary Clinton a sellout!

Anyway... I just had to share this response with our new friends at the salon down south. They couldn't believe it! They said anyone calling Oprah a traitor is "ignorant."

The salon's owner, Angela Jackson, told me, "we've been dealing with racism and gender all these years. Let's move onto something new. Let's try to get America back to where it needs to be. That's more important to me."

Hairdresser Shanese Jones, whom I also interviewed for our story, told me "it's true we are women, we are black and we don't have any choice. Whoever is the best and has the views that we would like to hear and like to see in the U.S. and see a change that's just what we have to go with." Again, all the ladies reiterated they are voting the ISSUES!!

So what do you think? Do you believe race or gender can really be ignored in this campaign? Do you think white women aren't weighing the fact Hillary Clinton is a woman and letting that play into their decision? What about white men? Or black men?

Are we all kidding ourselves trying to pretend we don't see what we see? I'd love to know what you think.

And be sure to tune into AC360 tonight at 10p ET for another tough look at the race vs. gender debate.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 6:02 PM ET
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Beat 360
Hey there bloggers!

Well here we are, middle of the workweek... happy Wednesday! Ready for today's challenge? For those of you who don't know, we've started something new: 'Beat 360.'

Every day we 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 or two to get you started:

"Thanks again for the gift, g. but seriously, I think I'm addicted to 'Guitar Hero'... is it weird my hands are shaking?"

"Mister President, alert the Secret Service! These are not my hands."

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

Posted By CNNBLOG: 2:12 PM ET
  83 Comments  | Add a Comment
FEMA's Katrina trailers: The disaster continues

Sean Callebs
360 Correspondent

Maybe it's a lasting tribute to how poorly the federal government was prepared for Hurricane Katrina.

But once again, the infamous FEMA trailers are in the news.

After buying thousands and thousands of trailers that ended up sitting in vacant lots, FEMA wanted to cuts its losses by selling them -- at a big loss.

Well, that plan didn't work out either. Now FEMA's buying them back -- for the same price it paid.. But that's the least of the problem.

There's formaldehyde in the trailers, and people have been getting sick.

That wasn't part of FEMA's disaster planning. But then, as we all know by now, there was so much missing from FEMA's planning.

And now, nearly two and a half years later, taxpayers are still paying the price.
Posted By CNN: 11:37 AM ET
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The U.S. economy and markets -- the Davos View
Editor's note: Andy Serwer is in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum

Andy Serwer
Managing Editor, Fortune Magazine

The urgency here is palpable.

If there was ever a need to have an intelligent truly global debate, it is now.

The issues here are pressing and real-time. Attendees from outside the U.S. are feeling penalized and there is real concern that the U.S. doesn't have the leadership to respond properly and that it may become overly political given the ongoing campaign.

Will protectionism and xenophobia rule the day?

Check out CNN.com's special coverage of the World Economic Forum

Check out Andy Serwer's blogs on Fortune.com
Posted By CNN: 11:08 AM ET
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Morning Buzz
Good Morning...It is Wednesday...We are halfway through the work week!!! It seems everyone is talking about the shocking death of actor Heath Ledger...only 28 years old. An Autopsy is expected today, so hopefully we will get some answers...

On the campaign trail...Obama is leading in the latest polls in South Carolina, but coming under serious attack about his religion...take a look at Raw Politics!!! Are these more dirty politics? Candy Crowley will look at that for us tonight... Thompson is OUT and McCain is raising money in the Big Apple, I wonder how Rudy feels about that?

The missing marine, Cesar Laurean, was spotted in Mexico and a new report out says that President Bush and a number of top officials made FALSE statements about the national security threat after the attacks in 2001...Sooo we are Keeping Them Honest

Plus...everyone should stay home from work today because a new study out says "work-related stress can KILL you" Yikes!!! Sooo grab some coffee and take a look at today's Morning Buzz...

An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday as family and colleagues mourned the death of Academy Award-nominated actor Heath Ledger.

Heath Ledger, Actor, Is Found Dead at 28...
Heath Ledger, the Australian-born actor whose breakthrough role as a gay cowboy in the 2005 movie "Brokeback Mountain" earned him a nomination for an Academy Award and comparisons to the likes of Marlon Brando, was found dead Tuesday in an apartment in Manhattan with sleeping pills near his body, the police said.

A Rough-Edged Actor Who Carved An Indelible Image...
A young movie star dies and the mind automatically cues up the clip reel and FFs through the footage, even before it occurs to you to simply turn on the television and just watch the actual, endless loop..

Wall Street: Still seeing red...
Wall Street looked set to take another beating Wednesday, as investors reacted to a disappointing outlook from Apple and remained haunted by recession fears.

Worries That the Good Times Were a Mirage...
Until a few months ago, it was accepted wisdom that the American economy functioned far more smoothly than in the past. Economic expansions lasted longer, and recessions were both shorter and milder. Inflation had been tamed. The spreading of financial risk, across institutions and around the world, had reduced the odds of a crisis.

A foot of snow blanketed parts of Michigan and Wisconsin during the night, closing schools Tuesday and causing numerous traffic accidents.
Tens of thousands of people poured out of Gaza into Egypt Wednesday, yanking off coils of barbed wire and blowing holes in concrete walls in a rush to buy food and fuel.

Democrat Barack Obama holds a double-digit lead on rival Hillary Clinton three days before South Carolina's presidential primary, aided by a huge edge among black voters, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

McCain raises money in Giuliani's turf...
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain raised money Tuesday on rival Rudy Giuliani's turf and picked up the endorsement of the former New York mayor's longtime nemesis

Obama battles Muslim rumor...
Democrat Barack Obama stepped up his efforts Tuesday to battle back against e-mails that falsely label him a Muslim, telling an interviewer the ongoing rumors were part of a "systematic political strategy."

Governors endorse presidential candidates...
Twenty-three of the country's governors have endorsed a presidential candidate at a time when their support matters most, lending their names, fundraising and organizing machinery to campaigns desperate for an edge in the primaries.

Longtime patron may be a problem for Obama...
Hillary Rodham Clinton dropped the name of Barack Obama's Chicago patron into the South Carolina debate Monday night, putting front and center a tangled relationship that has the potential to undermine Obama's image as a candidate whose ethical standards are distinctly higher than those of his main opponent.

A cousin of suspected killer Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean told CNN Tuesday that he saw the wanted man near Guadalajara a week ago.

A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Murder conviction tossed; man freed after 9 years in jail...
A Colorado judge Tuesday threw out Tim Masters' 1999 murder conviction after DNA evidence pointed to another suspect, and Masters was freed after spending more than nine years behind bars.

Dozens of bridge victims prepare to sue...
Dozens of victims of last summer's bridge collapse in Minneapolis - from surviving spouses to the parents of children riding on a yellow school bus - have filed preliminary paperwork to sue the state.

How likable are these people?
At a recent debate among the Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton was told that some voters didn't find her likable. Sen. Barack Obama retorted that he found her "likable enough" - a seemingly innocuous comment he was forced to defend in a subsequent debate in Las Vegas.

Work-related stress can kill, study finds...
Work really can kill you, according to a study on Wednesday providing the strongest evidence yet of how on-the-job stress raises the risk of heart disease by disrupting the body's internal systems.

Nikol Hasler doesn't recommend the "pull and pray" method of birth control. She says you should not have sex on nature trails because of bugs and Sasquatch. And if you hate your body as a teen, just wait.

Man shoots co-worker while rescuing him from crocodile..
A man who rescued a co-worker from the jaws of a crocodile in northern Australia also accidentally shot him in the process, police said.
Posted By CNN: 5:51 AM ET
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008
A White Man, A Black Man and a Woman Walk Into a Bar...
Jami Floyd
In Session Anchor/360 Contributor

Sounds like the start of a stand up comedy routine. But it's no joke. Because this is our country we're talking about; and the three front runners for the Democratic party nomination really are an African American, a woman and a white "son of the south."

As a black woman, I find it quite amazing that, in a year when many thought the big news would be Hillary's very real chance to become the first female president, Barack has entered the scene to give her a run for her money and for a place in history.

Of course, both candidates do not want you to vote on the basis of race or gender. But there's that third fella -- the one who stands to benefit from all the recent bickering between the front runners: John Edwards.

While the other two square off over "fairy tales" and the relative legacies of Dr. King and Lyndon Johnson, Edwards looks smart -- and substantive. Only a fool would count him out.

How ironic that, after all the excitement about a woman in the White House, or an African American, race and gender politics could make it easier for Edwards to position himself as the democrat's best chance to win back the White House.

Check out more Jami Floyd blogs on "In Session"
Posted By CNN: 5:54 PM ET
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Behind the scenes: Night on the Wedge

Joe Johns
360 Correspondent

Before the Debate
We had a great time preparing for last night's CNN/Congressional Black Caucus debate.

We got questions from all over, but mostly by e-mail. Then a handful of CNN editorial people got together in a conference room of our hotel to decide on the very best questions.

Sunday night the intensity revved up. We pretty much worked from mid-afternoon until 11pm -- had dinner brought in. Then the folks who had to be lucid on TV the next day went to bed. And the rest of the editorial staff stayed at it until about 4 am.

Monday morning, day of the debate, we were back at it -- selecting questions and debating the right way to say them. That went on until early afternoon. It's pretty intense stuff. Nobody said it, but I think the objective is to be clear, relevant, current, precise, provocative, and smart -- without crossing an invisible line that takes the focus off the candidates and puts it on the questioner.

Debate Night
Suzanne Malveaux and I were situated on what we called "The Wedge," a little desk out in the middle of the audience.

You could kind of feel the tension building for this debate because the campaigns of Sens. Clinton and Obama, had been lobbing smoke bombs at each other for days. I don't know what Anderson would say -- he's been a participant in many a political debate -- but from my point of view, the single most important thing is listening despite distractions.

You really have to zero in on what the candidates are saying and you can't zone out. Even though, for example, people in the audience are trying to get your attention. There was a nice lady sitting next to us who tapped me a couple times because she wanted to tell me something about what had just been said on the stage. I'm trying to hear what she's saying -- and I'm leaning over to listen. Then I think, "What am I doing? Sen. Obama's speaking and I'm not listening to him. This is not good."

There are always technical issues that can be distracting. Suzanne had problems with her IFB (earpiece) the first hour and we couldn't really talk because our microphones were open.
It was hard to get the message to the audio people in the control room -- though we quickly figured it out.

There was also concern about fatigue after the first hour, so to avoid that, Matt Hoye, one of the producers from the political unit, brought caffeine drinks that we stashed under the desk.

It got hotter in the room than expected. So, Matt brought me a terry cloth towel in case I started sweating.

The other thing that was interesting, is just how many times the candidates jumped right in and brought up issues that we'd discussed asking them about -- without any prompting.

How did it look to you?
Posted By CNNBLOG: 4:13 PM ET
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Welcome Erica Hill!

As anyone who watches 360 knows, I like Erica Hill a lot. She is smart, funny, quick, and real.

Erica has been doing the 360 Bulletins for a while now, and we've been trying to look for ways to increase her role in the program. It's being announced today that she will join our broadcast full time, and all of us here are really excited about it. (Here is the official press release).

It'll be a couple weeks before Erica starts full time, and I can't wait!

-- Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 3:30 PM ET
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360 folo to Candy's morning Blog

Candy Crowley
Senior Political Correspondent

Dedicated to keeping you up to date, we bring you Senator Obama from a morning conference call:
"I think it's very clear that ya know senator Clinton has - and pres Clinton has been spending the last month attacking me in ways that are not accurate....and at some point it was important for us to answer them."
Must note: Obama is giving an economic speech today.
Posted By CNNBLOG: 2:15 PM ET
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Guns and Poses

Tom Foreman
360 Correspondent

Last night's Republican debate was out of control. Republican? Well, sure, because I'm pretty convinced the Repubs were the biggest winners. Honestly, can you think of anything that would make the GOP happier than that Thunderdome of chainsaw dodge ball that passed for a Democratic discussion of the issues?

It is not that the top Dems did not bring up their dreams, visions, and plans for a greater America. It's just that those moments were drowned out by the cacophony of insults, accusations, and slurs that made the discussion look like a 2:00 in the morning slap fight in a bar.
I know, I know: Primary politics is about getting an edge, grabbing a few extra votes, ripping into your opponent even though he is from the same party.

But those candidates who win presidential elections, (and even more so, those who lose) know that there are limits. If you cut too deeply into your opponents during the primary, you can make your entire party bleed votes to the opposition party later on.

So what do you think: Is the viciousness of the Democratic fight going to drive away those independents and moderates they will need in the general election?

Posted By CNNBLOG: 1:10 PM ET
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Walking away from a nine year long nightmare

Drew Griffin
360 correspondent

When I think of everything I've done in the past nine years, this assignment suddenly becomes much more somber. Tim Masters is expected to walk out of the second floor courtrom here a free man.

He will step into a crisp 19 degree Colorado day, bristling with sunshine and blue skies. It would be a perfectly happy ending to any story-except this one. Masters has been held in a Colorado prison for these past nine years, and it may turn out that incarceration was for nothing.

I reported last week on the fumbling police case that chased a 15 year old boy for twelve years, until finally some scary doodles led to Masters conviction for murder.

I also reported new DNA evidence now points to a completely different person as a suspect in that murder.

Today, I plan to report on what happens when a man, who knows he has committed no crime, suddenly walks away from a nine year long nightmare.

Posted By CNNBLOG: 1:02 PM ET
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Forget black. Was Bill Clinton the first female president?

Roland S. Martin
360 Contributor

Let me be clear: the statement issued by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison that Bill Clinton was the first black president is one of the dumbest and most ridiculous comments ever uttered.

The fact that people actually go around stating that is nonsensical. And some are very serious!

Sure, he was comfortable around black folks, but that somehow gives him a full understanding of what it means to be black in America? Let him try to catch a cab with me and we'll see who is blacker.

But I digress.

Let's assume for a moment that we do look at the policies of President Clinton and accept that he did right by African Americans.

But what about women?

He appointed the first attorney general in Janet Reno. The first female secretary of state was Madeleine Albright. He had a number of female members of his cabinet, including Alexis Herman (Labor) and Hazel O'Leary (Energy).

So why isn't he called America's first female president?

Surely he did a lot for women, was comfortable around them, and enjoyed high approval ratings from women throughout his presidency.

If that's the barometer for calling him the nation's first black president, should he be able to wear a second crown?
Posted By CNN: 12:13 PM ET
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Myrtle Beach to Columbia: Day Two of the Southern Squall

Candy Crowley
Senior Political Correspondent

Hillary Clinton held a press conference in DC this AM. She was asked about last night's -- how to put this? -- scorched earth debate in which she accused Barack Obama of working with a slum lord and liking Ronald Reagan (a minus in the Democratic party). And he accused her of distorting his words (political speak for lying) and for working with Wal-mart (another party minus.

But, Dear Reader, that was so last night.

Today's installment is entitled, "He started it."

This from HRC: "Senator Obama is very frustrated -- the events of the last ten or so days -- particularly the outcome in new hampshire and nevada have apparently convinced him to adopt a different strategy... He clearly came last night looking for fight and he was determined and launched right in. And I thought it was important to set the record straight."

I'm laying odds -- Oh wait, we're not in Vegas any more -- I think that he will think she and her spouse started it on the campaign trail.

In fact, her above mentioned news conference was called to talk about the economy, it went off the rails amid questions about last night. (The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves...)

Isn't the economy in the dumpster?

Working On It: How many of you out there in cyberville are getting e-mails slamming Obama with numerous false accusations?

Trying to sort it out. Literally. Stay tuned.

Post Script for the Reader who asked if HRC campaign was handing out cool freebies in Nevada. None that we saw, but I did win 25 cents at the airport slots.
Posted By CNN: 11:33 AM ET
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Is Hillary Clinton abandoning South Carolina?

Roland S. Martin
360 Contributor

During last night's CNN-Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sen. Barack Obama took a shot at Sen. Hillary Clinton, saying he wasn't sure if he was running against her or former president Bill Clinton.

"I'm here. He's not," she shot back.

But is that really the case?

While Obama continues to canvas the Palmetto State today, Clinton has decided to head to Washington, D.C., then California and Arizona.

According to an email from her camp, Clinton "will hold a press availability at the Westin Hotel on Embassy Row in Washington D.C. later this morning.

"She will then travel to California where she participates in a "Solutions for America" town hall in Salinas, Calif., followed by a town hall in Laveen, Ariz.

"On Wednesday, January 23, Hillary attends events in New Jersey. She travels through South Carolina on Thursday, January 24 through Saturday, January 26."

So who is holding down the fort in South Carolina? Bill and their daughter, Chelsea.

No one minds spouses and children campaigning. But don't you think that if Sen. Clinton wants to make the case that she's the one, she needs to be the one going door-to-door? Or does this add more fuel to the fire that it's Bill who is running against Obama?
Posted By CNN: 10:49 AM ET
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Morning Buzz
Good Morning Folks...

Well, the gloves came OFF last night in South Carolina. Who needs the writers guild when you have real drama unfolding at the Democratic Debate... Hillary and Obama went toe to toe, could this be an opening for John Edwards? AND on the GOP Presidential trail...all the talk is of money or lack there of.... Huckabee is scaling back and Rudy is heading back to NYC to raise some more dough...

BUT the big story today is the economy...the Asian Markets continue to plunge...What will happen when the trading bell goes off this morning? ALL eyes are on Wall Street...

PLUS...CNN's Drew Griffin is out in Fort Collins, Colorado where Tim Masters is expected to be released, so check out Crime & Punishment... AND if you are looking to have a baby...you may want to move to Portland, Oregon...

Soooo grab your coffee and take a look at today's headlines...

Asian markets tumble...
Global stock markets extended their shakeout into a second day Tuesday, plunging amid fears that a possible U.S. recession will cause a worldwide economic slowdown.

Awaiting Wall Street's Open, Asia Markets Plunge...
Stock markets across Asia plunged even farther and faster on Tuesday than on Monday--while stock markets in Europe also opened with further losses on Tuesday--as anxious sellers dumped huge numbers of shares on worries that an economic slowdown in the United States could drag down growth around the world.

More Room to Fall...
With the explosive growth in developing countries such as China and India, and a modest revival of business in Europe, economists have begun to suggest that the global economy is no longer so reliant on the United States.

High fuel prices are puzzling...
The middlemen who buy and sell fuel on the wholesale market have seen Los Angeles gasoline prices plunge more than 50 cents in the last two weeks.

Suicide bombing wounds 21 in Iraq...
A suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a high school in Iraq's violent Diyala province Tuesday, wounding 21 people, police said.

Rising health care costs put focus on illegal immigrants...
Juan Perez had stomach pains for a month before deciding to visit a health clinic here that is open Thursday nights so migrant farmworkers don't miss a day working in the fields.

Sparks fly in most contentious debate to date... The gloves came off quickly Monday night as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded blows just days before the South Carolina primary, and two weeks before voters in 24 Super Tuesday states weigh in on this wide-open presidential contest.

The Other Clinton Is an Absent Presence...
The clash between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton Monday night was a debate long waiting to happen, and at the heart of it was the man who was not on stage: former president Bill Clinton.

Huckabee trims costs, press travel...
Battling to stay competitive after his weekend loss in South Carolina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is taking new steps to save money, including no longer scheduling planes and buses for journalists trying to cover his presidential campaign.

Crossing Mayor Giuliani Often Had a Price...
Rudolph W. Giuliani likens himself to a boxer who never takes a punch without swinging back. As mayor, he made the vengeful roundhouse an instrument of government, clipping anyone who crossed him.

Death penalty for Marine...
Suspected killer Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean is most likely in Mexico, authorities said, and the prosecutor said he has agreed not to seek the death penalty if Laurean is arrested in that country.

Pamela Smart gunman seeks freedom...
William Flynn depicts himself as a do-gooder, a member of the Jaycees who has a wife and teenage stepdaughter and likes to play softball.

President Bush is unlikely to defy Congress on spending billions of dollars earmarked for pet projects, but he will probably insist that lawmakers provide more justification for such earmarks in the future, administration officials said Monday.

Release likely today as missteps surface...
Fort Collins police missed investigative leads and inconsistencies in the alibi of murder victim Peggy Hettrick's ex-boyfriend, now an alternate suspect in the crime after a new DNA analysis pointed away from Tim Masters, who is set to be released from custody today.

Portland is No. 1 for babies...
FitPregnancy Magazine has listed Portland as the top city in the nation for having a baby.

As Abortion Rate Drops, Use of RU-486 Is on Rise...
Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision, a pill that has largely faded from the rancorous public debate over abortion has slowly and quietly begun to transform the experience of ending a pregnancy in the United States.

Finding Meaning in Each Mouthful...
Why do we eat? For sustenance, obviously. Also for pleasure, for social bonding, as a form of conspicuous consumption or an affirmation of identity or, in the case of broccoli, putatively for the antioxidants, but actually to convince God that we don't deserve to get cancer. Each morsel we lift to our lips dribbles symbolism like Russian dressing from a Reuben sandwich.

Posted By CNN: 5:41 AM ET
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