March 20th, 2008
09:19 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 3/20/08

We’ve got breaking news tonight. Sen. Barack Obama's passport records at the State Department have been breached on three separate occasions.  This story is still unfolding.  Candy Crowley and Zain Verjee will be on with the most up to date information. 

 We’ll also take a look at the latest out of Michigan which broke the rules by holding an early primary.  Their delegates were stripped and it looks like there will not be a re-vote. 

 We’ll open the blog to comments at 10p ET and stop at 11p ET.

Filed under: Live Blog
March 20th, 2008
06:12 PM ET

Bloggers react to women vets story

360 Tonight

Veteran Keri Christensen was nearly a victim of a roadside bombing in Iraq when the convoy in front of hers was hit. Here's part of her interview with Randi Kaye.

More than 180,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’d be happy to know so many of you care about them.

In my blog yesterday, I shared with you the story of Keri Christensen, a former member of the National Guard who served in Iraq and is now suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’s married and the mother of two adorable little girls, Madison and Oliva.

Keri has nightmares about body parts falling on her, she has thoughts of suicide and panic attacks, and sometime she’s so anxious she can’t even remember her home phone number...


Filed under: Iraq • PTSD • Randi Kaye
March 20th, 2008
05:21 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: In full bloom

Spring is officially here – even if your thermometer hasn’t yet received the message. The news cycle seems to be sprouting as well, and I’m not just talking about politics, but that does seem like a good place to start… here goes!

McCain staffer is suspended after sending around a YouTube video questioning Barack Obama’s patriotism… and Mike Huckabee is also talking about the Obama-Reverend Wright situation, but it may not be what you’d expect. The former presidential candidate says we need to cut both men some slack, and try to understand the context of not only the statements and the sermons, but that we also need to step back and try to better understand where Rev Wright and others in the congregation are coming from.

I got an e-mail from a friend yesterday with similar observations. I know some of you are ready to leave this discussion and all talk of race in the campaigns behind, but chances are this is not the last time we’ll talk about either one, especially race. So my question for you, dear bloggers, is this: Could this nastiness turn out to be a positive? Could these comments that made so many people uncomfortable be the kick in the pants this country needs to finally tackle “the race issue” head on… to confront our own fears, prejudices and hopes? Let me know what you think. 

A big development here in NYC today on that deadly crane collapse last weekend. The inspector who looked at the crane a little over a week before it crashed has been arrested charged with lying to authorities and falsifying his inspection report. Seven people were killed when the crane collapsed last Saturday; 24 were injured. The crane was properly inspected the day before the collapse. 

And it is officially March Madness! I didn’t fill out a bracket this year. I normally do, even though I don’t follow NCAA basketball as closely as I should. I love this time of year… spring is in the air, people are fired up rooting for their alma maters or a sentimental favorite (mine’s UConn), most offices are abuzz with competition (let’s be clear – we’re not talking gambling, just friendly competition… sometimes with a cash prize at the end)… the energy is fantastic.

And all the excitement isn’t just for the men’s teams. The one thing that irks me every year is the lack of coverage the women’s teams get. These women are incredible athletes and they deserve just as much attention as their male counterparts. UConn is seeded number one this year, and you can bet the Lady Huskies are always my sentimental pick.

For everything you need to know about this year’s Dance, click HERE

– Erica Hill, 360° Correspondent

Filed under: Erica Hill
March 20th, 2008
05:18 PM ET

Afternoon Buzz

There's a bizarre story out of Florida this afternoon. A woman died after being hit by a ray on a boat.  As you might imagine, officials call it a 'freak accident'.  In the midwest, the water woes are much different.  Flood waters continue to rise.  While, it looks like Hillary Clinton's push for a re-vote in Michigan may be dead.  And, in Indiana, some drivers are getting REFUNDS for the gasoline they bought at the pump. Read below for the details.  Here's your Afternoon Buzz:

Top Stories
Woman dies after ray strikes her
A woman on a boat died after a spotted eagle ray leaped from the water off the Florida Keys Thursday and struck her, officials said.

Midwest eyes rising flood waters
Residents warily watched as rivers continued to rise from heavy storms that dumped as much as a foot of rain in the Midwest and left behind more than a dozen deaths.

Libby loses law license
Former top White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was banned Thursday from practicing law in the nation's capital following his perjury conviction in the case of a CIA operative's leaked identity.

Raw Politics
No deal reached on Michigan revote
Sen. Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House suffered a blow Thursday when Michigan's state Senate adjourned without passing a bill to schedule a new Democratic primary.

McCain staffer suspended
The McCain campaign suspended a staff member this afternoon for distributing a YouTube video that questions Barack Obama's patriotism and includes footage from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermons.

Obama, Clinton talk economy, Iraq on the stump
Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton traded shots today over the former first lady's recently released White House schedule, while also tackling key campaign issues in states holding primaries in May.

Crime & Punishment
Crane collapse inspector arrested
A New York City buildings inspector is accused of falsely claiming he inspected that crane that collapsed on the East Side, killing seven people.

360 Follow
Congo arrests ranger arrested over gorilla killings
Congolese authorities have arrested a senior national park ranger on suspicion of arranging the killing of rare gorillas and burning protected trees for charcoal, conservationists and local media said.

Coal company fined for 'flagrant' violations
Federal authorities have ordered Andalex Resources Inc. to pay $420,300 in fines for "flagrant violations" at a coal mine it operates in Price, Utah.  Last summer, nine people died, including three during a rescue attempt, in the Crandall Canyon mine, which has since been closed.

What YOU will be TALKING about TONIGHT
Official: $4 gasoline was a mistake
Three gasoline stations in Hendricks County, Indiana are offering refunds to customers who paid more than $4 a gallon there last week, the state attorney general's office said.

'Man of All Seasons' Actor Dead
Paul Scofield, the towering British stage actor who won international fame and an Academy Award for the film "A Man for All Seasons," has died. He was 86.
See Jennifer Lopez's Twins 
People magazine has the exclusive photos of Jennifer Lopez and her twins, Max and Emme.

Filed under: The Buzz
March 20th, 2008
05:13 PM ET

Superdelegate: No special votes

Editor's note:Jason Rae is a Democratic superdelegate from Wisconsin and has pledged his support to Sen. Barack Obama.  He agreed to blog for 360° about his experiences. 


A special convention of just the superdelegates? That is an idea being proposed in a New York Times op-ed by Tennessee governor, and fellow superdelegate, Phil Bredesen.

In his op-ed he suggests that should the Democratic party not have a nominee when the primary process is done on June 3, the superdelegates gather together and help decide the nominee. I remain optimistic that we will see a nominee coming out of the primary system.

Now, should I be wrong on this prediction, I don't think a special convention of superdelegates is a good idea. This solution that is being proposed only intensifies the arguments over this nominating contest and the role of superdelegates.

I have been an outspoken supporter of the superdelegates, stating time and again that we are regular party activists. We are not a bunch of party insiders sitting in a back smoke- filled room. We come from all backgrounds, all walks of life, and share a deep interested in the love of the party.

But I think the idea of bringing us all together without all of the other pledged delegates is a bad idea. This makes it look more and more like backroom deals are going on and that this small group of convention delegates is deciding the party's nominee, without the involvement of other delegates and interested individuals. In the very rare chance that we will not have a nominee after June 3, I think it is important to decide the race at the convention, with everyone present and participating.

The decision to select a nominee should not be the decision of superdelegates alone, but should include all 4,049 delegates. Thank you, Governor Bredesen for your idea, but I just don't agree.

– Jason Rae, Democratic Superdelegate

Filed under: Jason Rae • Raw Politics
March 20th, 2008
02:55 PM ET

Gergen: How Hillary grabs the nomination

Hillary Clinton's detour yesterday to Michigan reflects a clear understanding within her campaign that much could hinge upon what happens there in coming hours. If the Democratic state legislature leaves for a two-week vacation this afternoon without resolving to hold a make-up primary, her chances of wresting the nomination from Barack Obama could diminish sharply.


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton holds a 'Solutions for America' event in Detroit, Michigan. Clinton came to Detroit to attempt to generate support for a Michigan democratic primary do-over.

It has been apparent for some time that Clinton's best strategy – perhaps her only strategy – is to win lop-sidedly in Pennsylvania, then rack up a string of late victories in North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky so that she could argue that while still behind in pledged delegates, she had won the second half of the season and the two candidates were basically tied.

She could then plausibly look to re-dos in Florida and Michigan as an "overtime" and with victories there (almost certain in Florida, likely in Michigan), she would be in a reasonable position to persuade superdelegates (and the party) that she is more electable.

But take Florida and Michigan off the table and the Clinton game plan becomes much more difficult.


Filed under: David Gergen • Hillary Clinton
March 20th, 2008
01:01 PM ET

Returning home, to fight another battle


Last month, a report commissioned for the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs said that 18% of discharged military vets are jobless.  Now that number reflects both former military men and women who are not looking for work (they might be suffering from PTSD or adjustment issues or just not ready to be back in the civilian world), but also those who are…and just can’t seem to find it – despite sending out resumes each day.  So with the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war now just behind us, we thought we’d find some veterans to find out why they are struggling.

Working with several veterans groups, like the Veterans Today Network  and Swords-to-Plowshares  we spoke to – and received emails from – almost 100 former servicemembers.  And I was frankly surprised at the universality of the theme:  they come back from serving their country with skills and training they thought would make them marketable in the civilian world…only to find that not quite to be the case. 

Sometimes it is employer biases against vets (that they are going to be unreliable, that they don’t know how to do anything but shoot a gun, that they all suffer from PTSD).  Sometimes it’s that after five or ten years in the armed forces, it’s difficult to even know how to write a resume or make the right contacts to find stable work.


Filed under: AC360° Staff • Unemployment • Veterans
March 20th, 2008
11:04 AM ET

The Fifth Anniversary of Women and War

The story of Keri Christensen (featured here on CNN.com) should upset all Americans. She is a patriot. She is also one of an estimated 180,000 women who have courageously served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

Women make up 11 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and 15 percent of the military as a whole. Despite DoD and Army policies that prohibit women in combat, there are more female service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan than in previous conflicts, and a greater portion are situated
in combat roles.

But, like so many others, Keri is now facing another fight. Today, she is back at home in Denver struggling to overcome mental health injuries . And five years after the start of the Iraq war, Keri is not alone...


Filed under: Iraq • Paul Rieckhoff • PTSD
March 20th, 2008
07:55 AM ET

Recording ‘Shock and Awe’

I'd been in Baghdad for the first Gulf War and was probably one of the first journalists to get to the bomb shelter when the bombs started raining in.


AC 360 takes a look back at the start of the Iraq War and where it stands now five years later. WATCH: "Shock & Awe: 5 Years Later" airs Saturday & Sunday night, 11p ET

My grandfather had told me during World War Two he always knew German bombers were on the way to London way before the bombs fell, because the dogs started barking.

For that reason I was listening at my open window in the Al Rasheed hotel that January night back in 1991. Sure enough, the dogs barked, then the bombs fell. With the first flash I was already half way down the stairs leaping half a floor at a time.

Needless to say, I was no sooner secure in the bunker than I wanted to get out and see what was happening. Iraqi officials blocked the way. Peter Arnett, John Holliman and Bernie Shaw hid out upstairs and made TV history. I made a mental note, next time stay out of the bomb shelter!

So 12 years later when we got the call 'shock and awe' was about to begin I knew what I must do.

My head was saying go upstairs, my gut was telling me head for the basement...


Filed under: Iraq • Nic Robertson
March 20th, 2008
06:51 AM ET

Morning Buzz

Morning folks...No one story is dominating the headlines this morning. In Top Stories...floods, a new Bin Laden message and V.P Cheney makes a stop in Afghanistan. In Raw Politics...you can get a re-cap of  Anderson' s  EXCLUSIVE back-stage access to Barack Obama if you missed last night's show AND Hillary continues to push for a re-vote in Michigan and Florida. BUT the story of the day...Is sin dead? Headlines everyday about scandal and extra-marital affairs...as we approach Easter, do people see themselves as sinners? Grab your coffee and take a look at today's headlines....

Top Stories
Record flooding...
Residents of low-lying towns stacked sandbags or grabbed belongings and evacuated Wednesday as a foot of rain pushed rivers over their banks in the nation's midsection. At least 13 deaths had been linked to the weather, and three people
were missing.

Pentagon divided over Iraq strategy...
By many important measures, the U.S. military has reason to feel better about Iraq. Violence has declined, casualties are down, the president is touting the current strategy and the public's anguish has ebbed.

Cheney in Afghanistan...
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday to discuss ways the country's fragile government can counter rising threats from al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Bush approval all-time low...
Five years after he green-lighted the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, President Bush faced strikingly low approval ratings as he reaffirmed his commitment to "accept no outcome but victory" in the war.

New Bin Laden message...
A new statement attributed to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden condemns European countries for siding with the United States in Afghanistan and for allowing the publication of cartoons considered insulting to Islam's prophet, Mohammed.

Raw Politics
"This has shaken me...."
Sen. Barack Obama told CNN on Wednesday the recent uproar over his former pastor's sermons has reminded him of the odds he faces in winning the White House.

Document dump sheds little light on Hillary...
Federal archivists Wednesday released 11,000 pages of schedules from Hillary Rodham Clinton's eight years as first lady, but the material offered little to support her assertion that her White House experience left her best prepared to become president.

Clinton presses re-vote in Michigan & Florida...
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) shifted her schedule to make a last-minute visit here Wednesday, demanding that the state's Democratic Party hold another primary vote or count the results of the earlier disqualified balloting, and she challenged Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to live up to his claim that he cares about making sure people's votes count.

Economy may NOT be good for John McCain...
As the economy sours, voters are increasingly demanding immediate government relief — a boost for Democrats who propose just that sort of quick fix, but a problem for Republican Sen. John McCain, whose focus has been on longer-term solutions such as tax and spending cuts and free trade.

Crime & Punishment
Charges filed against boyfriend of girl stuck in toilet...
A man whose girlfriend authorities say spent nearly two years in a bathroom in their house, sitting on the toilet so long that the seat adhered to her body, has been charged with mistreatment of a dependent adult.

Sentence in racially charged killing angers victim family...
The family of a black man who fatally shot a white teenager during a racially charged confrontation was under police protection after the victim's father blasted the man's sentence as too mild and made what defense lawyers saw as a threat.

Keeping Them Honest
Why few finish high school...
When it comes to high school graduation rates, Mississippi keeps two sets of books.

What you WILL be talking about TODAY
Is sin dead?
Is sin dead? No, not by a long shot. Yet as Easter approaches, some pastors and theologians worry: How can Christians celebrate Jesus' atonement for their sins and the promise of eternal life in his resurrection if they don't recognize themselves as sinners?

A happy marriage = low blood pressure...
Marriage really can be a matter of the heart with a U.S. study finding that happily married couples have lower blood pressure than single people.