On a cold, blustery Pyongyang morning, the warm glow of musical friendship cuts through the chill...News of the New York Philharmonic's historic concert here in North Korea is on the front page of the daily communist worker's newspaper.
The concert hall was packed with the capital's elite. But in a nod to the Philharminc's demands, North Korea broadcast the whole event live to people across the country.
People raised on a diet of state propaganda and anti-Americanism for the first time heard the Star Spangled Banner played alongside their own national anthem, with the Stars and Stripes flying alongside their own flag.
Even the harshest cynic knows that even a few months ago, no one could have imagined seeing this.
When the conductor Lorin Maazel introduced George Gershwin's American in Paris, he joked that one day perhaps someone would write a piece called Americans in Pyongyang.
The North Korean audience appaluaded loudly. They got it.
It was amazing to see the standing ovations, to watch the Korean audience clap, cheer and wave goodbye to their American guests after the final bow.
This concert comes as North Korea and the U.S are engaged in nuclear diplomacy over disarming this country.
Just two days ago I was on a rare, even historic tour of their nuclear facility in Yongbyon. It's been shut down and is being dismantled with U.S. technicians monitoring and helping.
Perhaps the most clear-eyed assessment I got about this moment was from former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry who called the concert historic and said it "could just push us over the top" in negotiation efforts.
He believes a nuclear deal is possible before the end of the Bush Administration, but the remaining suspicions and mistrust need to be addressed by people-to-people contacts, such as this concert.
Indeed, afterward, one woman told me that by playing its best music for them, the U.S. is sendng a friendly and peaceful message.
–Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent
Tonight on the program: Ugly words from a talk show host about Barack Obama and reaction from John McCain, Hillary Clinton's position in the polls – dropping, and what Florida's blackout says about how vulnerable America is to other trouble.
As always, please keep your comments focused on the content and context of tonight's program. Anderson and Erica are both ready to contribute their comments and to read yours. We'll start at 10p ET and close the blog to comments at 11p ET.
Walker, Wilson, Fitzgerald, Baines – good, solid American middle names. Middle names that go with Campbell’s Soup and apple pie, right? Presidential middle names, one could even say.
Middle names have historically never become campaign issues. But this year, things are different. Sen. Barack Obama’s middle name is not Walker or Fitzgerald, it is Hussein - a fact that Cincinnati talk radio host Bill Cunningham mentioned several times today during an anti-Obama speech. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what Cunningham was trying to imply. Sen. McCain (who was not on stage when Cunningham spoke) immediately repudiated his remarks.
Some background: Hussein – which means “good” or “handsome” - is a common Muslim name (Obama’s father was Muslim). In fact it’s so common you could compare it to Paul, Peter or John in Christianity. And yes, it was the name of the tyrannical leader of Iraq, but it was also the name of the King of Jordan, a key U.S. ally.
Presidential politics has never been about middle names. Reasonable people, on both sides of the aisle, seem to agree it should stay that way.
- Jack Gray, 360 Associate Producer
Part of my move over to 360° includes a little reprogramming. The good news? It’s reignited my interest in politics. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t anti-politics three weeks ago, but I was suffering from severe political fatigue. But joining the 360° team has brought me back.
That said, there are still plenty of non-political stories that catch my eye everyday. You get a taste of some of them in the Morning Buzz, but since a little tech glitch hindered that early dose for you, I thought I’d highlight a couple stories you may want to check out for an evening boost.
First up, the “Doomsday Vault” – basically a vast bunker inside a frozen mountain. It’s here that seeds from around the globe will be stored for safe keeping. Did I mention it’s on an island in Norway just below the Arctic Circle? I’m all for preservation, but this seemed a little extreme to me. Then I watched Becky Anderson’s reports from the frozen isle… take a look and see what you think.
Yesterday, I mentioned that Charles Manson didn’t get the death penalty. To which, a couple of you pointed out that Manson’s jury did recommend death.
And you’re right. But before Manson could be executed the Supreme Court threw out the death penalty in California and everywhere else, sending the state legislators back to the drawing board to fashion capital punishment laws consistent with the Constitution.
So like I said, Charles Manson did not ultimately get the death penalty. And this semantic distinction misses the point, anyway. The point is that capital punishment is constitutionally problematic. That’s why, this term, the U.S. Supreme Court is yet again considering whether we can kill people, this time by lethal injection.
The three-drug cocktail is preferred in most states and the only option for Bobby Cutts if he’s sentenced to death. We’ve tried hanging, firing squad, and of course, “Old Sparky,” the electric chair. Lethal injection is supposed to be more humane. But maybe, after all this trial and error, we should ask ourselves whether there’s any way to kill a person that is consistent with our values as Americans. That’s the real question.
And the Last Word.
–Jami Floyd, In Session anchor
A jury in Ohio, as I write, is faced with the agonizing decision of whether to recommend the death penalty for convicted double murderer Bobby Cutts, Jr.
The single most determining factor, proved by study after study, as to whether an American murderer is sentenced to death or life imprisonment is surely something that will never be breathed aloud during those deliberations: Race. An African-American defendant who kills a white victim is far more likely to be sentenced to death than other murderers.
Racial bias in administration of the death penalty has led to its ban in New Jersey and a moratorium in Maryland. The U.S. General Accounting Office and Amnesty International have expressed grave concerns about the significantly enhanced likelihood of African-American defendants, or killers of white victims, receiving death sentences.
This case presents both to an all-white jury.
–Lisa Bloom, In Session anchor
The Clinton campaign wasn't supposed to be here in the fight of Hillary's political life. She was supposed to be crowned on Super Tuesday to the ecstatic and triumphant cheers of her Democratic legions. She was supposed to march into the general election six months early to deliver the mortal blow to a limping, fractured and unarmed Republican party. She was supposed to be inevitable.
So go the excuses now being offered to explain Hillary's current desperation, disorganization, and disintegration less than a month after her missed date with destiny. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Shame on you Barack Obama! Shame on you!
There's only one small problem with this story. Presidencies, like campaigns, are full of unanticipated events, plans gone awry, and unforeseen consequences. Just ask George Bush. He might mention 9-11, Iraq , and the November 2006 congressional elections.
True leaders show steady judgment, laser focus, and a reassuring command in the middle of political storms. They're supposed to be in control, at the very the least, of themselves.
Hillary claims she's ready to lead on Day One. But what about Day Two if Day One doesn't go well? She'll need to turn to her kitchen cabinet, not everything and the kitchen sink. Because facing the unknown is the only truly inevitable event any politician can bank on.
-Amy Holmes, 360° Contributor
The recent story of Carine Desir, a 44-year-old woman who died on an American Airlines flight from Haiti to New York, has a lot of people thinking: Could that happen to me? Well, it could. But it's not likely and there's no reason to panic.
What happened to Desir? She reportedly complained of not being able to breathe and received oxygen, although a family member has complained that the oxygen was delayed. Doctors and nurses aboard the flight stepped in to try to help, including using an automated external defibrillator, but their efforts were not successful. The medical examiner's office said Desir died of complications from heart disease and diabetes.
But what should you be thinking about before you get on an airplane? There are times when you should rethink flying, but it's not always a simple decision. Here's how flying is most likely to affect your health and some things to think about when you're deciding to fly or not to fly.
First off, it is worth noting that two important things happen on a plane shortly after takeoff. One has to do with pressure. If you are on a small plane that flies below 10,000 feet, the plane may not be pressurized. Larger planes that fly 30,000 to 40,000 feet above the earth will be pressurized, but because of the differential, the cabin altitude will still feel like you are about 8,000 feet in the air. Most people can tolerate this just fine. The oxygenation is also slightly lower in airline cabins, again not a noticeable difference for most people.
Still, there are people who are at most risk from these changes. People who have sinusitis, pneumonia, other respiratory illnesses as well as ear problems probably shouldn't fly and will feel pretty miserable if they do, because of those pressure changes. The cavities will expand and may cause pressure and pain.
Also, if you have had recent abdominal surgery, eye, ear or face surgery, dental work such as an abscess repair, you should stay grounded. Anyone who's had a recent concussion or colonoscopy should also wait at least a day before taking to the air. Obviously, a communicable disease such as TB (like Andrew Speaker had) should preclude you from flying. Another tip: Let's say you're out skiing and break an ankle or leg. Tell your doctor you want a soft cast or splint if you are going to be on a plane. The swelling can be awful.
There are some things you should always do on planes. Drink plenty of water and lay off the alcoholic drinks. While blood clots in the legs have not been shown to be caused by cabin conditions, they can be caused by simply sitting for long periods of time, especially with your legs crossed. Get up and walk around.
You know, I was most curious about the everyday cold. How about waking up the day of a flight with the sniffles? What do you do then? There are no absolute rules here. If you are really feeling miserable, the flight will probably make you even worse. However, actually catching a virus on a plane is no more likely than catching it at sea level in crowded conditions like a bus or office space.
As things stand now, it is up to the consumer to disclose whether he or she is too sick to fly or have a communicable disease that could put other passengers at risk. Do you think the airlines should have more specific rules about people flying with an illness?
-Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent
Fifteen-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King recently told his classmates at EO Green Junior High in Oxnard, California that he was gay. He changed his dress; he now wore earrings, makeup and high-heeled boots.
A few weeks later he was dead.
What happened? The Ventura County District Attorney says 14-year-old Brandon McInerny shot and killed him, and calls it a hate crime.
Some students say King had a crush on McInerny. Others dismiss those reports as rumors. But a police source tells CNN they are looking into the possibility that McInerny felt humiliated by the advances and just snapped. At this point, neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers are talking about a possible motive.
The shooting happened during an 8th grade English class. The teacher had brought the students to the school’s computer lab. McInerny allegedly fired two shots in the back of King’s head. Doctors kept King on life support for a couple days so his organs could be donated.
King lived in a state foster home for neglected and abused children. Officials there say he was just beginning to gain some acceptance before his life was cut short.
The entrance to the junior high school is now filled with flowers, cards and candles. Expressions of love and friendship that King never seemed to get when he was alive.
-Dan Simon, 360° Correspondent
Bloggers!It's time for 'Beat 360°' Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption. Our staff will get in on the action too.
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