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August 18th, 2010
09:45 PM ET

Last U.S Combat Convoy Leaves Iraq: Join the Live Chat

The last U.S. brigade combat team has left Iraq, leaving about 56,000 U.S. troops in the country. So, what happens now? We're digging deeper. Plus, we're tracking the cash needed for the N.Y. Islamic Center near Ground Zero. Some have claimed the money will come from sponsors of terrorism. We're keeping them honest. Plus, Dr. Laura Schlessinger on her racial rant. She's tonight's 'Big 360° Interview."

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)


Filed under: Live Blog
August 18th, 2010
04:37 PM ET

Obama stumbles as parties get desperate

Ed Rollins
CNN Senior Political Contributor

Ed Rollins: Ten weeks before Election Day, both parties desperate to find strategy to win
Ed Rollins: Ten weeks before Election Day, both parties desperate to find strategy to win

With a little more than 10 weeks left to go, the rhetoric has accelerated and both sides are trying to find an issue that changes the dynamics of Election Day 2010.

The Democrats are desperate to turn the debate away from a sagging economy and chronic unemployment. The Republicans are trying desperately to find one more wedge issue that can knock out a couple more Democrats and assure the GOP of a House majority, or add another Senate seat or two to the five or six it thinks it will win.

And whatever the president tries to do, his sinking poll numbers are hurting his party, and Democrats are avoiding him in droves. "We have been able to deliver the most progressive legislative agenda - one that helps working families - not just in one generation, maybe two, maybe three," President Obama said Monday night at a Hollywood fundraiser.

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Filed under: Ed Rollins • Opinion • President Barack Obama
August 18th, 2010
04:26 PM ET

A gift before she leaves the nest

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

As I write this, our 19-year-old daughter is driving a car packed with belongings as she moves to an out-of-state university after a year at our local community college.
As I write this, our 19-year-old daughter is driving a car packed with belongings as she moves to an out-of-state university after a year at our local community college.

As I write this, our 19-year-old daughter is driving a car packed with belongings as she moves to an out-of-state university after a year at our local community college.

She is the oldest of our three children. Her mother and I tell people we’ve had a “bonus year,” as our daughter lived at home (thank you for the cooking and baking), but led a relatively independent life busy with school, work and her boyfriend.

Today she begins a new chapter in her life and so do we. To mark this milestone my wife arranged to do a “StoryCorps” interview with our daughter at the local public radio station.

For those not familiar, “StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.” Interview segments are broadcast weekly on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Since its creation in 2003, StoryCorps has collected more than 30,000 interviews involving more than 60,000 participants. The interviews are preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Our public radio station also airs interviews recorded in its studio.

The interview with our daughter was an exceptional experience. I sat quietly as my wife asked my daughter about experiences ranging from her pending move, to interning this summer with the public defender’s office at a murder trial in Miami, to their trip to religious sites in Morocco and Spain, to growing up in a Jewish congregation founded by members of the gay and lesbian community, to relations with her younger brothers and more.

Most of the time our daughter was poised and thoughtful, at others displaying the awkwardness of youth. My wife maintained her composure, becoming “ferklempt” with emotion only a few times. We left with a copy of the full 40-minute interview, which we’ll share with the grandparents. I lost it in the car as I drove off with my wife, blubbering at the thought that maybe we had done a good job of preparing our daughter to leave the nest.

Among her numerous professional credits, my wife was a founding member of the Association of Personal Historians, so she has an abiding interest in the preservation of family histories. In this spirit, she sent an e-mail to David Isay, the founder and president of StoryCorps. “Please, please tell other parents to take a moment to do this with their kids. It was one of the most deeply moving moments in our lives, a chance to stop, take a breath and reflect on this precious, joyous, bittersweet milestone!,” she wrote.

Parents, as your children prepare to leave home for school this fall, considering giving them – and yourselves – this most valuable gift.


Filed under: 360° Radar • David Schechter
August 18th, 2010
01:48 PM ET

Obama says no regrets over ground zero Islamic center comments

CNN Wire Staff

President Obama's remarks last week became a political issue
President Obama's remarks last week became a political issue

President Obama said Wednesday that he has "no regrets" about his comments last week supporting the rights of Muslims to build an Islamic center and mosque two blocks from the site of the September 11 terror attacks in New York.

"The answer is no regrets," Obama said when asked about bringing up the issue Friday at a White House dinner commemorating the start of Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

At the dinner, Obama said that those wanting to build the Islamic center and mosque have the constitutional right to religious freedom. On Saturday, he clarified that he was talking only about the right to build the center and not the "wisdom" of doing so close to "ground zero," where more than 2,700 people died when planes hijacked by terrorists slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

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Filed under: Islam • President Barack Obama
August 18th, 2010
11:36 AM ET

Today's New Orleans a tale of two cities

Russel L. Honoré
Special to CNN

Russel Honoré: Post-Katrina New Orleans is a tale of two cities, haves vs. have nots
Russel Honoré: Post-Katrina New Orleans is a tale of two cities, haves vs. have nots

Five years ago this month, Katrina hit New Orleans. What it created is a tale of two cities, the haves vs. the have-nots. Enormous progress in the city's Business District overshadows the lingering blight in the 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish, where folks are still struggling to rebuild and many lots remain empty.

Unfortunately, Katrina attacked the two poorest states in America, Mississippi and Louisiana. It destroyed or disrupted the economic engines of both states: their tourism, shipbuilding, fisheries, port operations industries and petroleum production in the Gulf.

Katrina left about 1,836 people dead, destroyed about 275,000 homes in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, and cost the federal government about $114 billion.

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Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
August 18th, 2010
11:33 AM ET

Juror: One vote blocked Senate seat conviction in Blagojevich case

CNN Wire Staff

Government prosecutors say they will try ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich again
Government prosecutors say they will try ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich again

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appeared vindicated after a jury in a federal corruption trial reportedly was one vote short of convicting him of attempting to sell a U.S. Senate seat.

Prosecutors said they will retry Blagojevich and will meet next week to decide their next move.

Blagojevich was found guilty Tuesday of lying to the FBI but escaped convictions on 23 other counts in a trial seen as a partial victory for the former governor.

The jury, which deliberated for 14 days, said it was hung on 23 counts against him and on the counts against the former governor's brother, Robert Blagojevich.

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Filed under: Crime • Rod Blagojevich
August 18th, 2010
10:02 AM ET

Video: Arts center re-uses to rebuild

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent


Filed under: Building Up America • Tom Foreman
August 18th, 2010
10:01 AM ET

Video: Timeline of the mosque controversy

Randi Kaye | BIO
AC360° Correspondent


Filed under: Islam • Randi Kaye
August 18th, 2010
09:53 AM ET

Letter to the President #576: 'Speak softly and... well, let's just leave it at that.'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

When it comes to controversial issues, you can weigh in or you can stay out, but it’s dangerous to do both
When it comes to controversial issues, you can weigh in or you can stay out, but it’s dangerous to do both

Reporter's Note: President Obama has stepped into the debate over whether a mosque should be built near New York’s Ground Zero. But it’s still not entirely clear where he stands. As for me, I stand by my keyboard once again writing my daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

You are a bright person. No doubt about that. You have a gift with words, you know how to make people comfortable, and you have big ideas. In addition, I know that you want what is best for the country. Although, frankly it would keep me up at nights unless I thought that of every president, so it’s kind of a gimme.

Still, for all of your obvious skills and intelligence, I’m wondering why you are struggling with this basic tenet: When it comes to controversial issues, you can weigh in or you can stay out, but it’s dangerous to do both. It’s like snow skiing. Go down the mountain or stay on top, but don’t “kind-of-sort-of-maybe-I think I might,” because it will end badly.

Of course I’m talking about the mosque debate again. All over the web today I found pundits, analysts, conflict resolution experts (or something like that) railing about how you and your team have made such wishy washy statements, that you’re adding nothing to the discussion, and making yourself look as indecisive as Brett Favre in the pre-season.

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August 18th, 2010
09:45 AM ET

BP to stop handling most Gulf claims

CNN Wire Staff

BP says it won't accept any new claims after Wednesday
BP says it won't accept any new claims after Wednesday

BP has picked Wednesday as the deadline for accepting claims from people and businesses affected by the Gulf oil disaster.

After that, the oil giant will direct people to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, led by attorney Kenneth Feinberg.

"Effective August 23, GCCF will be the only authorized organization managing business and individual claims related to the Deepwater Horizon Incident," the British energy giant said in a statement.

Feinberg is charged with independently administering the $20 billion escrow account established by BP to compensate for damage caused by the Gulf disaster.

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Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill • T1
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