February 29th, 2008
11:29 AM ET

Texas Hispanics Focus on Obama

The night before the CNN-Univision Democratic presidential debate in Austin, Texas, a group of Hispanic democrats, aged 35 and older, participated in focus groups in Houston.  They watched political ads featuring Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and questioned the details behind Obama’s “change” message. Specifically, the Hispanic men, who were interviewed separately from the women, pondered if Obama was telling people what they wanted to hear or was there something more.


Leslie Sanchez book- Los Republicanos: Why Hispanics and Republicans need each other

To these Tejano voters, health care remained a top priority, not immigration reform, which according to a couple of the group’s participants whom I interviewed, was a surprise to the moderator. She asked whether Obama’s health care plan, which reportedly fails to insure 15 million people, would kill their support for his candidacy, and if celebrity endorsements (the likes of comedian George Lopez) would influence their vote.  Neither point proved important.  It is interesting to note that George Lopez stumped yesterday in El Paso.   (See it here)

More importantly, the group was energized by another issue. Assuming Barack Obama became the party’s presidential nominee, how could a man who never so much as served in the National Guard compete against a Prisoner of War (John McCain)? Their answer: not well. A third of the respondents were military veterans.For the participants in the focus group, and one may suspect for the larger electorate, a conflict exists between ethnic identity and service in the military.

In a state where Republican candidates and Mexican American voters have built a strong alliance around issues of defense and national security, these opposing sentiments foreshadow a conflict for conservative Hispanic Democrats, particularly veterans, that could create problems for Democrats nationally.

– Leslie Sanchez, Impacto Group LLC

Filed under: Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
February 29th, 2008
06:38 AM ET

Morning Buzz

Morning folks, it is FRIDAY!!! AND only four more days until we know who the Democratic nominee will be...or will we? Polls are close in the two big states, Texas and Ohio, but most show Hillary with and edge in Ohio. So check out Raw Politics for all the latest... In our Top Stories this morning, the United Kingdom has decided to pull Prince Harry out of Afghanistan...how was this kept so secret for so long? And is there more being wasted money in Irag? We are Keeping Them Honest... PLUS, are Victoria Secret models getting TOO sexy? I will take the fifth on that one.... So grab your coffee and take a long at today's headlines....

Top Stories
U.K pulls Harry...
Prince Harry is to be pulled out of Afghanistan immediately amid fears for his safety after news of his deployment was made public, the British defense ministry said Friday.

Media kept Harry assignment quiet, why?
Prince Harry has been fighting on the front lines in Afghanistan for 10 weeks, his presence there kept secret until Thursday in a remarkable deal between the British military and news media.

Chemical Ali to be executed...
The Iraqi presidency has approved the execution of Ali Hassan al-Majeed who earned the nickname "Chemical Ali" for his role in a chemical weapons attack on on Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, a member of the Iraqi parliament told CNN on Friday.

Deadly toxin found...
Police in Las Vegas, Nevada, are investigating the discovery of ricin at a hotel room on Thursday

Raw Politics
GOP decries use of "Hussein"
Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan formally denounced on Thursday the Tennessee Republican Party's use of Barack Obama's full name in a recent news release questioning the Illinois senator's commitment to Israel.

Bush takes swipe at Obama...
Setting aside his stated reluctance to enter the presidential campaign, President Bush on Thursday strongly criticized Barack Obama's expressed readiness to meet with foreign leaders cast as tyrants, warning that such discussions "can be extremely counterproductive" and "send the wrong signal."

McCain's birth place called into question...
Senator John McCain said Thursday that he had no concerns about his meeting the constitutional qualifications for the presidency because of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone. A Democratic colleague said she wanted to remove even a trace of doubt.

Campaign cash...
Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton each had a record-breaking month of fund-raising in February, bringing in more than $80 million combined, but with Mr. Obama again far outraising Mrs. Clinton.

Huge voter turnout expected in Texas...
Anita Dawkins has never voted early. But there she was Wednesday, a 48-year old homemaker, or “domestic engineer,” as Ms. Dawkins called herself, lining up outside the Barbara Bush branch Library in this fast-growing northern Houston suburb “to beat the crowds” and cast her primary ballot for Senator Barack Obama.

Texas Republicans for Obama?
One of Sen. Barack Obama's surest applause lines comes about halfway into his standard stump speech. It goes like this: "They whisper to me. They say, 'Barack, I'm a Republican, but I support you.' And I say, "Thank you. Why are we whispering?"

Crime & Punishment
The softer side of Drew Peterson?
Before appearing on NBC's "Today" show Thursday, Drew Peterson had a conversation with his recently hired publicist: Maybe it was time for the public to see another side of Drew.

International fugitive caught...
An international fugitive accused of killing his wife in New Zealand, stuffing her body into the trunk of a car and then abandoning the couple's 3-year-old daughter at a train station last year has been captured in the U.S. state of Georgia, authorities said.

Keeping Them Honest
Dead police officers still on the payroll...
Iraq's government has spent millions of dollars on "phantom" police officers who left the force or died, but whose names remained on department payrolls while others illegally pocketed their salaries

Blood thinner linked to more deaths...
Amid indications that more people may have died or been harmed after being given a brand of the blood thinner heparin, federal drug regulators said Thursday that they had found “potential deficiencies” at a Chinese plant that supplied much of the active ingredient for the drug.

What YOU will be talking about TODAY
Victoria Secret TOO sexy?
Maybe it was the lusty mannequins in its stores, the massage oil on its shelves or the overabundance of cleavage on the glittery runway of its annual TV fashion show. But yesterday, Victoria Secret chief executive Sharen J. Turney acknowledged that the chain had gotten "too sexy."

Man dies while rescuing cat from tree...
A 27-year-old man died Wednesday afternoon when he fell 35 to 40 feet from a tree while trying to rescue his neighbor's cat, according to the Orange Fire Department.

Staying in Iraq to help...
The request is familiar to American ears: "Bring them home." But in Iraq, where I've just met with American and Iraqi leaders, the phrase carries a different meaning. It does not refer to the departure of U.S. troops, but to the return of the millions of innocent Iraqis who have been driven out of their homes and, in many cases, out of the country.

February 29th, 2008
12:24 AM ET

Blog from the Back Row

I learned something new tonight in the control room. Two new things actually. I learned the meaning of the Australian words galah and drongo.

These are words that our Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware used on the air at the top of the program while discussing the story of Prince Harry fighting in Afghanistan.  We found the words and Michael's delivery so interesting and amusing (even though we had no idea what they meant) that we decided to make that :09 soundbite our "Shot of the Day" at the end of the program. And it was my job to make that happen.

Isolating the soundbite and having the tape cut and turned around in 30 minutes was the easy part. Finding out what the words meant was a little trickier.

To do this I called our international assignment desk and had them transfer me to Michael's field producer in Baghdad, Tommy Evans. No, I wasn't calling for details on troop levels or the progress of the government on deciding how to divide oil revenue or how locals viewed the upcoming U.S. presidential election. I was calling for clarification on the definition and the correct usage of the words galah and drongo.

Tommy found this all very amusing but dutifully got a precise definition and an acceptable sentence usage from Michael.

  • galah : a type of bird, slang for idiot, as in "you guys are acting like a mob of galahs"
  • drongo: also a bird, also slang for idiot, as in "don't be such a bloody drongo" 

It's healthy to have a good laugh every now and again, even if you are working in a war zone. Thanks for being a good sport Tommy.

– Sean Yates, Sr. Producer, AC360 

Filed under: Behind The Scenes
February 28th, 2008
09:53 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 2/28/08

Good evening folks.  The live blog opens for business at 10pm ET and closes at 11pm ET.  Erica and Anderson are on set getting ready for the broadcast.  Our top story is Prince Harry's cover being blown in Afghanistan.  Then it's on to presidential politics.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Filed under: Live Blog
February 28th, 2008
07:46 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Blowing in a little late…

It is COLD today in NY. I am a New Englander by birth, so I know cold, but I still shiver when I think about the wind whipping off the Charles River in Boston as I tried to make my way to class in college. I think that same wind just found me in Manhattan. After an afternoon spent drinking tea at my desk while scouring news sites, I’m finally thawed out enough to get this blog written. (Yes, that is my excuse for getting this to you a bit late today.)

There is nothing like international politics to put the U.S. political scene in perspective. Here on 360°, we’ve brought you more than one international dust-up from the hallowed halls of parliament in Asia or Europe. But this gem from Russia offers a new take. After a recent debate, one presidential candidate attacked his rival’s campaign manager. Truth be told, neither one of these guys has much of a chance – it’s pretty much a done deal that outgoing Pres Vladimir Putin’s pick will win Sunday’s election. Some say this is the most excitement Russia’s presidential race has seen so far.

A different tiff has put a Nazi treasure hunt on hold. Not sure if you’ve been following this one, but a few of us on the 360° team were talking about it the other day. (FULL STORY)

Here’s the condensed version: a treasure hunter said geological surveys recently revealed an underground chamber where he believes the Nazis may have stashed valuables, including clues to the whereabouts of the Amber Room, which remain a mystery. If you’re not familiar with the Amber Room, it was a room made of amber and gold in a St. Petersburg palace, looted by the Nazis at the beginning of WWII.

Anywho, long story short, this treasure hunter and the mayor of the German town where he was digging got in a “disagreement” with the mayor when said burgermeister wanted to bring in some scientists to make the expedition more credible. Can’t imagine why that would upset the treasure hunter… 

Also on my radar, Bob Knight heading to ESPN as an analyst. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I have always enjoyed college basketball. I grew up in UConn Husky territory; my husband is a Hoosier, so you can bet any story about the former IU basketball coach is going to make me stop. I’m curious to see just how blunt he’ll be, this man known as much for his record (winningest coach in NCAA D-1 men’s basketball) as for his on-court antics. He’s not one to hold back. We won’t need to wait very long to find out – he’ll begin the new gig two weeks from now, just before the start of March Madness (read: your chance to win the office bracket pool). Stay tuned for that – but only when you’re not watching 360°.

Filed under: Erica Hill
February 28th, 2008
07:29 PM ET

A vague, but real threat for Arab journalists

The Arab world gets its news from satellite television – Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and others. Networks that have brought plain speaking to a region where government censorship is the norm, and has been for decades. Now those governments – members of the Arab League – plan to rein in these free-wheeling broadcasters.

A new charter adopted by Arab information ministers bans anything that "undermines social peace, national unity and public order."

The sweeping charter threatens to revoke an Arabic broadcaster's license if it defames politicians, national figures or religious leaders. Or if it criticizes religion. Egypt's Information Minister says the ban is needed because "some satellite channels have strayed from the correct path."


Cartoonist Naji Benaji depicts the difficult restrictions Arab journalists could encounter if a charter calling for more media censorship in the Arab world is imposed

Journalists are up in arms, saying repressive regimes want to restrict their editorial freedom. Saad Jabbar, an International Law Expert, told Al-Jazeera: "This is like going backward to the dark ages. They want to muzzle all opinions that disagree with them."

Critics say the restrictions could even extend to comedy, including hit shows that poke fun at politicians. And if the charter is applied with force, cartoons lampooning leaders may become a thing of the past. It could make life even more difficult for bloggers like Wael Abbas in Egypt. He's already spent time in jail after exposing torture by Egyptian police. Another Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman is in prison after being convicted of defaming President Mubarak and inciting hatred of Islam.

The irony is that Saudi Arabia is a sponsor of the charter, but Saudi financiers run many of the Arab world's independent media outlets, including al Arabiya. The only countries not to sign the charter were Lebanon and Qatar, home to al Jazeera.

The charter has caused such a stir that it's even made it to the cartoon pages – this one showing an Arab journalist carefully avoiding mouse traps.

In the past, Arab League declarations and charters have withered and died – the organization has no executive power. But journalists across the region are worried – some describing it as a dark day for press freedom in the Arab world.

-Octavia Nasr, Senior Editor, Arab Affairs

Filed under: Middle East • Octavia Nasr
February 28th, 2008
05:00 PM ET

Afternoon Buzz

Hi, bloggers! We're tracking Prince Harry on the frontlines and the cash flow in the battle for the White House.   Plus, officials in a Louisiana parish go on the defensive after listing a living man as dead on a Katrina memorial.  Oops!  Here's your afternoon buzz. Let us know what you think of the headlines. We'd love to hear from you.

Top Stories

Prince Harry fighting in Afghanistan
The UK's Prince Harry has been serving on the frontline in Afghanistan and seen combat, the UK Ministry of Defense confirmed Thursday.  He was deployed 10 weeks ago and his fellow soldiers were sworn to secrecy.

At least 6 hurt in Strip Mall Explosion  
Authorities in the Chicago suburb of Waukegan are searching the rubble of a strip mall for anyone who may be trapped.

Bush: We're in a slowdown
President Bush acknowledged Thursday that the economy has slowed down but said the United States is not headed toward a recession.

Raw Politics

Clinton raises $35 million February
Rebounding from weak fundraising in January, Sen. Hillary Clinton is expected to raise $35 million in February - a figure rival Sen. Barack Obama's campaign said it would surpass, a campaign official said Thursday.

Nader announces running mate
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader selected Matt Gonzalez, a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, to be his running mate.

Keeping them Honest

Survivor listed on Katrina memorial
Uriel Little's name is among those on the granite monument in St. Bernard Parish listing people killed by Hurricane Katrina. The only problem is that Little is still alive.

Crime & Punishment

Report: 1 in every 100 adults behind bars
For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report.

Neighbors sell dead man's stuff
When 70 year old Sydney Kolber  passed away in April, police say his neighbors went to work clearing out his house, selling his belongings at a yard sale, and then writing more than $34,000 worth of fraudulent checks out of a Bank of America account.

What YOU will be TALKING about TONIGHT

Exchange student says Host family starved him
Maine teenager returns home weighing 97 pounds

Baby falls down train toilet onto tracks
A newborn baby girl fell through the toilet in a moving train and onto the tracks moments after her mother prematurely gave birth, surviving nearly two hours before being found, relatives said Thursday.

February 28th, 2008
03:09 PM ET

Beat 360° 2/28/08


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. A picture of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg with former President Bill Clinton....

Beat 360

Have fun with it.

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

Filed under: Beat 360°
February 28th, 2008
02:30 PM ET

News of Prince Harry's whereabouts: Safe or unsafe?

I first saw the news on a website popular amongst us media types this morning:  “Web Exclusive: Prince Harry is fighting the front lines in Afghanistan.” 

Britain's Prince Harry

Watch Britain's Prince Harry on duty in Afghanistan.

I was shocked and my first thought was about the safety of the troops serving with him.  Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the British Army, released a statement today saying:

"It was my judgement that with an understanding with the media not to broadcast his whereabouts, the risk in (deploying him to Afghanistan) was manageable. Now that the story is in the public domain, the Chief of Defence Staff and I will take advice from the operational commanders about whether his deployment can continue."

He also said,"I am very disappointed that foreign Web sites have decided to run this
story without consulting us."

What do you think? Was the website right in reporting this today? Was the safety of Prince Harry and his fellow soldiers compromised?

On 360° tonight, Nic Robertson will have the latest on this story, including an interview with Prince Harry and exclusive access to him on the front lines. 

– Kay Jones/360° Guest Producer

Filed under: AC360° Staff • Prince Harry
February 28th, 2008
12:49 PM ET

One Starbucks still twinkling in the night

After the plethora of publicity over Starbucks closing every store in the country for three hours the other night, I want to add my own little postscript:

Not every Starbucks was closed!

That's right; you heard it here first.

Starbucks Coffee

Supposedly, every store in the ubiquitous chain shut down for a special training session in how to make sure customers enjoy the full “Starbucks experience,” including “the art of espresso.” But no such shutdown happened at the Starbucks in Boston Logan Airport's Terminal A.

I know that because I was there. It was 7:30pm Monday night, two hours into the alleged 100 percent Starbucks shutdown.

I had wandered over to the Starbucks after getting off a plane and saw a woman behind the counter appearing to be working. I was beyond shocked.

I asked her if she was indeed open for business, and she most courteously replied, "Of course." I then asked her why she wasn't closed like all the other Starbucks in the United States of America, and she looked at me like I'd been drinking too much sangria at Chili's.

She then asked me if I wanted any coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker, (I do like Starbucks desserts) but I almost got one anyway just for the novelty of being perhaps the only Starbucks customer in the nation during that three hour period.

But alas, it was late at night, and I was in a rush, still having to rent a car and drive to Providence, Rhode Island for a story I was covering. So I said no thanks, and the woman behind the counter wished me a good night, smiling at the guy she thought was trying to pull her leg.

Well, after I related this story to my friends at 360, one of our fine co-workers David Reisner, presented me with some research showing there were exceptions.

You see, Starbucks owns most of its stores, but others are franchises. Many of those Starbucks indeed stayed open, although they are supposed to have their training at a later date.

So next time I stop into Logan Airport, I’ll find that kind Starbucks worker behind the counter, and find out if she’s heard that she, too, will be ultimately be part of a training session in the “Starbucks experience,” which turned into a mega public relations event.

– Gary Tuchman/360° Correspondent

Filed under: Gary Tuchman
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