February 25th, 2008
11:44 PM ET

Blog from the Back Row

I wish the control room had been rocking and rolling with last minute adds, changes and edits so that I would have a dramatic post to make up for my absence (I've been working on other projects or in one of the two front row seats for the last couple weeks.) but it was a pretty quiet night in there. So instead I'll answer a couple questions...

  • Q: I’m wondering how many people work in the control room during the broadcast?(Barbara in Culver City, 2/11/08)
  • A: On our program we have:
    • A senior producer, who talks to the anchor(s) and has final say on what goes on air
    • A line producer, who manages the rundown and the timing of the show
    • A back row producer, who troubleshoots
    • A director, who gets it all on the air and makes it look good
    • A technical director, who executes the vision of the director (knows how to uses the NASA-like panel of levers and dials and buttons ... see next question)
    • I can't give everyone's function but here's a list: lines coordinator, video producer, writer, prompter operator, two graphics producers, two graphics technical operators, a sound guy, multiple floor guys and cameramen in the studio, plus support staff in the newsroom including a copy editor, multiple writers, a guest booker and a new position for us, a live blog moderator.
  • Q: Why do all control rooms look like they are at NASA? (Sabrina in Los Angeles, 2/07/08) 
  • A: I have no idea what a NASA control room looks like but the multiple monitors allow us to view various satellite feeds and the live air of other programs. The panels are used to communicate with each other and the anchors, field reporters and guests. So much is digital these days that we really don't even use paper in the control room. (But when the servers crash ... a very rare occurrence but it happens ... wow, that's when we earn our money in there.)

I hope you enjoyed tonight's show even though it was a quiet one from our end. I think I'll be in the back row tomorrow so I think I'll see you tomorrow night!

– Sean Yates, Sr. Producer

Filed under: AC360° Staff • Behind The Scenes
February 25th, 2008
10:34 PM ET

Environmentally, which wins out: Solar Panels or Redwoods?

It seems like a match made in heaven - two Santa Clara, California neighbors, both concerned about the environment. Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett (no relation to JFK Jr.’s late wife) planted eight redwood trees in their yard between 1997 and 1999. Their next door neighbor, Mark Vargas, installed a solar panel system on his roof in 2001 drastically reduce his energy bill.

The panels soaked up the sun’s rays; the redwoods grew. Then the trouble began in the form of the rarely enforced California Solar Shade Control Act, signed into law by then-governor Jerry Brown in 1978. The law is very specific. It does not require trees planted before installation of solar panels to be removed, but it does require that foliage grown tall enough to shade areas of solar panels previously in the sun be cut back. Vargas complained his neighbors were violating the law, and Treanor and Bissett were criminally charged by the Santa Clara district attorney.

It’s fair to say that each neighbor feels bitter about the way the other handled the dispute. In many ways it cuts to the heart of what a person can or cannot do on his own land. But the law is fairly clear and in December last year , a judge ruled that two of the trees had to come down; the other six could stay. He also waived the $1000-per-day fine imposed by the law.

At first Treanor and Bissett initially appealed, but after spending $34,000 in legal fees, they decided to cut the two trees. Vargas will have the sun hitting all of his solar panels; Treanor and Bissett will still be able to enjoy six of the original eight trees, but it’s unlikely we’ll find either chatting over the back fence about the beautiful day, the sound of the birds, or their concern for environmental issues.

And the fight may not be completely over. The remaining six redwood trees continue to grow…

-Peter Ornstein, 360° Producer

February 25th, 2008
09:59 PM ET

Bimbo's Point of View

Bimbo Relan (yes, he really calls himself Bimbo) is a tall, cigar- chomping strawberry farmer in Amite, Louisiana. Bimbo can be described with a simple down-home colloquialism, but let him reveal himself in his own words. These days, folks who think like Bimbo don’t tend to share their innermost feelings when a TV camera crew shows up on their doorstep. At first, I thought he would tell us to get off his property, maybe even threaten to run us over in his white, king cab pickup. I was wrong.

Stepping out of his truck, decked out in cowboy boots, professional bronc-riding belt buckle and pressed, striped red and white shirt, was this cigar-sucking tower of a man ready to talk. And talk he did. We were there to discuss Bimbo’s treatment of the migrant workers, mostly Mexicans, who come in to pick his strawberries. He employs them through the H2 visa program operated by the Department of Labor for growers who can’t find U.S. citizens willing and able to do this backbreaking work. Bimbo has been accused of ignoring the rules that cover seasonal employment of these workers, and you’d think he’d be careful about what he says. You’d be wrong.

It started out bad, and in the course of a 15-minute interview it got worse. "Mexicans are all crooks and drug dealers," Bimbo told me of the workers who make sure his berries arrive on your table plump, red and moist. " You could have 'em living in the White House like George Bush, and in two days it’ll look like a pig pen. "Lest you think Bimbo reserves his stereotypes just for his Mexican workers, he also confided that, "Jews like to work" (apparently no one else does) and "they stay married to the same woman and that's why they got all the money."

Why should you care about Bimbo and his quaint views? Because Bimbo Relan, through the H2 visa program, is one of our unofficial ambassadors to the Mexican people. And when his seasonal workers go back to Mexico and talk to their neighbors, their views of all of us might look a lot like their view of Bimbo Relan. I hope you'll watch Bimbo tonight. Let me know what you think of him.

-Drew Griffin, 360° Correspondent

Filed under: Drew Griffin
February 25th, 2008
09:56 PM ET

Nader on his campaign: It’s a No Brainer

The majority of Americans want a:

-single payer
-medicare for all
-canadian style
-health care system (with freedom of choice of doctors and hospitals).

Doctors support single payer.

Nurses support single payer: http://guaranteedhealthcare.org/

The majority of the American people support single payer.

I support single payer.


I also support a crackdown on billing fraud and abuse – which the Government Accounting Office has estimated costs the nation about 10 percent of our entire healthcare bill – or over $220 billion year.

The health insurance industry, McCain, Clinton and Obama are opposed to single payer.

Under our current system, $350 billion a year goes to needless administrative expenses.

A single payer system is the only way to recover these wasted billions.

With these savings, we could provide Medicare for all.

Of course, the health insurance industry would lose excess profits.

But the American people would gain a state of the art, freedom of choice, life saving, trimmed down health care system.

It’s a no brainer.

-Ralph Nader



Filed under: Ralph Nader • Raw Politics
February 25th, 2008
09:52 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 2/25/08

Live blogging is back, but wait until 10p!

On tonight's program:

– the Dems ratchet up the rhetoric

– a live interview with the latest Presidential candidate to enter the race, Ralph Nader (Do you have any questions you'd like Anderson to ask him?)

– and the shocking story of a young teen murdered in a high school in california because he was openly gay

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Behind The Scenes
February 25th, 2008
09:49 PM ET

How to stop bullying: Parenting

Tonight’s reporting on 360° about the murder of a gay teenager coming out of the closet is really about tolerance and the lack of it.  When we see our children, teenagers and even adults bullying people, it never feels ok.

But it's common. And we need to understand that it could a one-time incident or the 31st incident that bullying behavior can make someone so angry that they lose control.

We see this played out in many ways, from suicide to homicide. None of this should be acceptable to our society.

Some studies have shown that half of our children are bullied in school and as high as 10% are bullied on a regular basis.

Bullying can be physical and emotional and it still hurts. This pain can affect all areas of their life.

We need to do a better job as parents to educate and support our children to better know themselves and better tolerate others.  If we accomplish this, we have served our children well.

Parenting is the place to start. It's one of the toughest jobs that any of us will ever do.

The outcomes vary but I think it’s important that we wrap our arms around significant and shared parenting values.

Knowing yourself and understanding the concept that parenting begins with YOU.  Yes, YOU.  It's important that you as a parent are as whole and balanced as you can be.

I offer a simple tool to be able to keep your check and balance system afloat. It's my SWEEP technique:

Sleep – are you getting enough quantity and quality of sleep? When you wake up do you feel good? Work – Are you fulfilled enough at work, even if staying home is your work, to be happy at the end of the day?

Eating – are you using food to stay healthy and energetic? Is meal time a time for relaxation and communication?Emotional expression of self – Do you let the important people in your life know how you are feeling? Do you allow yourself physical and emotional intimacy?

Play – are you letting yourself enjoy life? Do you have a way to let go of worry and direct your energy to a positive place?

To learn more, see www.drsophy.com

– Dr. Charles J. Sophy

Filed under: Parenting
February 25th, 2008
09:27 PM ET

When does bullying become a hate crime?

Tonight, in addition to an interview with Ralph Nader, who this weekend announced he is running for president, we are focusing on a story that hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

The story is about a young man named Lawrence King. He was 15 years old. On the morning of February 12, a classmate of Lawrence’s allegedly walked into the computer lab in front of some two dozen other students and shot Lawrence in the head.

He was declared brain dead later at the hospital. According to authorities, this was not a random killing, it was a hate crime. Lawrence had recently told people he was gay, and apparently wore clothing that was viewed as effeminate.

According to many accounts he had been bullied repeatedly, and some parents have even claimed students knew of threats to Lawrence’s life. At this point it doesn’t seem clear how much school officials knew of the bullying, but a full investigation needs to be done. If this had been an African-American student bullied by a teenage skinhead would it have received more attention?

Would school officials have taken it more seriously if it had been a Christian campus leader attacked by another student because of his/her religious beliefs? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do think they are worth asking.

Bullying is a problem in schools across the country. We’ve seen this time and time again. Is enough being done to stop it?

We’ll be looking into the facts surrounding the murder of Lawrence King, and we’ll talk with Dr. Charles Sophy, the medical director of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services.

– Anderson Cooper

Filed under: Anderson Cooper
February 25th, 2008
07:53 PM ET

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Candidate Scorned!

I sure hope Hillary's red-suited rage this weekend was manufactured. Otherwise, her campaign has gone from Silly Season to Crazy Town with Hillary Clinton running as its mayor. She claims to be the steady, tried and tested Democratic warrior who can take on the Republican hordes come September. But if this weekend's performance - careening from boiling rage to brittle sarcasm after lavish and loving praise of Obama in Thursday's debate - is any indication of how she handles stress, Democrats should be afraid. Very afraid. And what should make them terrified is the prospect of six more months of these antics.

In the past week we've seen Hillary level petty charges of plagiarism, heap scorn in a vitriolic press conference. "Enough with the speeches and the big rallies!" (My personal favorite quote of the campaign so far.) And now today, according to a banner headline on the Drudge Report, her campaign was circulating pictures of Obama wearing a turban in a desperate bid to revive the false allegation that Obama is Muslim. After first issuing a non-denial deflection early in the day, the campaign is now disavowing any involvement with the provocative pic. But remember when Clinton-supporter Bob Kerrey gleefully pointed out to our very own John King that Barack's father was a Muslim? "Not that there's anything wrong with that." [quotation mine.] One can't help but see a tendril of smoke rising out of this latest political fire.

Democrats should be terrified that such tactics will work. Just like The New York Times hit piece on John McCain last week, no matter how many times the target explains otherwise, some proportion of the voters will believe the false impression that is being created. And while Hillary is busy tearing down her opponent with thuggish and churlish attacks, she threatens to tear apart her party, and in the process make herself the least likable candidate to grace the national stage.

Is this really what Democrats want for their party, their nominee whichever of the two they choose, for six more long months? Because believe me, the other side is enjoying every minute. I'm reminded of the words of one, mustachoied, curly headed anchorman named Ron Burgundy: "You stay classy San Diego." Wise words, indeed.

-Amy Holmes, 360° Contributor

Filed under: Raw Politics
February 25th, 2008
06:24 PM ET

Has gender been a factor in Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign?

It seems to me, the answer is an unequivocal "yes."  And not just because I've written a book called Why Women Should Rule the World, which comes out tomorrow.

Actually, the book isn't about Hillary Clinton, though I do mention her.  And it's not really a case for a woman president, though I think that would be great.  Rather it's an argument that more women in public life makes things better, not because women are the same as men, but often because of the ways they are different.  It's important to note here that my book isn't "anti-men."

I love men.  My father is a man.  I'm married to man.  And I gave birth to a baby man.  I don't think women should replace men;  I think they should have more opportunities to shape the world alongside men.  What's more, I don't think we should create opportunities for women because it's the "right" thing to do; we should do it because it's the "smart" thing to do.


Empowering women strengthens the economy.  It makes our government more responsive.  It improves the quality of life for women, children and men.  In short, everybody wins.


February 25th, 2008
05:53 PM ET

Beat 360° 2/25/08


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.

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 of the day.


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

Filed under: Beat 360°
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