April 15th, 2008
09:29 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 4/15/08

Tonight, we start in Eldorado with new details from inside the reclusive polygamist compound. Hundreds of children are in state custody and their mothers say they’re being persecuted for practicing an unpopular religion. We also have new pictures taken by members of the sect that show authorities entering the compound in armored personnel carriers and carrying automatic weapons.

The Pope landed at Andrews Air Force Base this afternoon where he was greeted personally by President Bush. It's the first time ever an American president has traveled out to Andrews to welcome a foreign leader and it's the first papal visit since the sex abuse scandal exploded. Find out what the Pope said about that.

We’ll have an up close look at Sen. Barack Obama and who he is and how he became that person. This is the first in a series of in depth pieces on all three candidates.

Finally, Heisman trophy winner Herschel Walker and his battle with mental illness. The NFL superstar says he doesn't even remember winning the Heisman trophy because he was too busy struggling with a mental disorder. It’s called dissociative identity disorder and Dr. Sanjay Gupta will have all the details.

And be sure to check out our new live web camera from the 360° studio. The shot features a behind the scenes look at the set. We’ll turn the camera on at 945p ET and turn it off at 11p ET. LINK TO THE BLOG CAMERA

We’ll start posting comments to this blog at 10p ET and stop at 11p ET.

Filed under: Live Blog
April 15th, 2008
08:13 PM ET

Ethically challenged, even with the pope

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/16/art.popeplane.jpg%5D

John L. Allen Jr.
CNN Sr. Vatican Analyst
Vatican Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter

Aboard “Shepherd One” today, the Alitalia jet carrying Pope Benedict XVI to the United States, four of the 70 journalists accompanying the pope to the United States were faced with a brief ethical dilemma: whether to take part in what arguably amounted to a staged news conference with the pope.

In the end, the decision wasn’t apparently that tough – each of the four decided to go ahead. The brief flurry of debate, however, illustrates the fine line that reporters sometimes walk between wanting to exploit whatever access they can get, yet without being co-opted to advance someone else’s agenda.

To set the scene, reporters on the papal plane had originally hoped that Benedict XVI would come back after take-off en route to the United States to engage in a real press conference – unscripted questions, impromptu replies, and the possibility for follow-up queries in order to press the pope on important matters. The pope had done just that on the way to Brazil in May 2007, the only other trans-Atlantic flight so far of his three-year papacy.

Instead, however, Vatican officials asked reporters late last week to submit proposed questions for the pope to Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson. Lombardi chose four questions, on the following topics:

·        The sexual abuse crisis

·        Immigration

·        The public role of religion in America

·        The United Nations

On previous papal flights when Lombardi has screened the questions, he has read them to the pope himself and then asked the pope to respond. This time, however, Lombardi came back shortly after take-off and informed four journalists that their questions had been selected, and that he would call upon them to ask the question when the pope came back to the press compartment.

Hence the ethical dilemma, which reporters on the papal plane debated energetically for a few minutes this morning:  Is it okay for a journalist to ask a question of the pope under those circumstances, on the grounds that it’s better than nothing? Or, were we taking part, as one colleague today insisted, in a "journalistic sham"?


Filed under: John L. Allen Jr. • Pope Benedict
April 15th, 2008
07:13 PM ET

The elitism flap: bitter fruit?

Eric Bloom
AC360° Producer

It remains unclear how damaging Barack Obama’s "bitter" comments will be, but it has once again revealed one of the Democrats’s biggest vulnerabilities- cultural issues. 

It also reminds us that no matter how chaotic Iraq is or how depressed the economy might be, come November Democrats still must win over rural voters in order to win.



Democrats are well aware that issues like abortion, religion, guns and gay rights hurt them in some key swing areas, and the controversy over Obama’s  comments could make the task of winning them even more difficult. 

What do you think of Obama’s comments  - do they reinforce the perception that the Democratic Party is out of touch? 

What has been the key for Republicans in winning over rural voters?   We'd like to know your thoughts.  

Filed under: Raw Politics
April 15th, 2008
06:17 PM ET

The Pope and the press

Pam Sellers
CNN Producer

I am at the media center at the Westin Hotel in Washington where journalists from around the world–who were unable to get to Andrews–are watching a live pool feed of the Pope's arrival from a large movie screen. There is also a mix of staff personnel from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops–the host coordinators of this event.

The moment Shepherd One landed there was applause around the room. Some staffers are videotaping the screen, even photographing it. In the background you hear broadcasters calling the event in spanish and reporters speaking other in various languages. The energy is palpable.

The staffers–and even the reporters–again applaud as the Pope emerges from the plane. Observers marvel at how quickly he comes off the stairs and how he good the Pope looks. "He has a gig for life," one of the staffers says.

Filed under: Pope Benedict
April 15th, 2008
06:01 PM ET

In search of Obama

AC360 looks at Barack Obama's journey of self-discovery, and the choices that put him on a path to the White House. Full report Tonight 10p ET
AC360 looks at Barack Obama's journey of self-discovery, and the choices that put him on a path to the White House. Full report Tonight 10p ET

Catherine Mitchell
360° Producer

The assignment was pretty straightforward: produce a profile on Barack Obama. Now for the twist: focus on a theme or a narrative that runs throughout the presidential candidate’s life. Obama’s life is full of narratives that have shaped him - his mother’s strong influence, his father’s glaring absence, his multi-cultural, bi-racial background. But what came up over and over again in interviews with Obama’s closest friends and associates, is his life-long search for identity.

Obama was born in the racial melting pot of Hawaii. The son of an African father and a white mid-western mother, he grew up with a palpable confusion over where he fit in. Obama’s community organizing boss, Jerry Kellman, told me Barack wanted to live in two worlds, but society said, “you choose, you’re going to live in a black world or a white world.” He was raised in a white world, brought up by his white grandparents in Honolulu where he attended an elite prep school and was very much in the minority. Obama’s high school crush Kelly Furishima said if he was struggling, he hid it well with his great sense of humor and easy way.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Raw Politics
April 15th, 2008
05:46 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Love is in the air

Erica Hill
360° Correspondent

I love a good proposal story. My favorite is my own (you would hope that’s the case!). Everything my husband did was perfectly “us”… and it always seems to elicit a few “awwws” whenever I retell the tale, which both the Mr. and I enjoy. I think a proposal that fits the couple is the best kind, so you know I am all over this next one. I also seriously impressed with the time commitment.

Bernie Peng reprogrammed his girlfriend’s favorite game, Bejeweled, so a ring and proposal would pop up when she reached a certain score. It’s the ultimate geek proposal and I love it!

It is Tax Day – probably not a lot of love for the IRS today… and not much amore for Wesley Snipes and his recent tax woes, either. Federal prosecutors today urged a Florida judge to send the movie star to prison and fine him $5million for not paying income taxes.

But there is some Love for the planet… and your wallet.


Filed under: Erica Hill
April 15th, 2008
05:24 PM ET

Ex-Polygamist: I Can't Believe THIS is Happening in America

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/15/art.polygamy.jpg caption="Law enforcement vehicles seen around the main temple on the grounds of the Yearning For Zion Ranch, home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Eldorado, Texas"]

Kristyn Decker
Former polygamist

For 50 years I lived in a polygamist group that my father led in Salt Lake City, called the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB). With more than 7500 members, it's the second-largest polygamist sect, after the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, from which it broke off half a century ago.

Like many Bible believers, we were taught to live by God's commandments so we could have our families in Heaven - in the hereafter. We were taught we'd never get into heaven on the coattails of our leaders.

But for more than 50 years, just like kamikaze pilots, the FLDS fundamentalists have been taught very differently - instructed to follow their Prophet's commands "no matter what he tells you to do; for the Lord will not allow your prophet to deceive you."

It's always been this way - but when Warren Jeffs assumed leadership, things fell apart worse than ever before. Among his long list of unprecedented new rules, he declared children should not be educated outside of their homes and closed city schools.

Women were to stop wearing brightly colored or patterned clothing, and told that pastels reflect the submissive behavior they must always show. He expelled many adult men and hundreds of teenage boys, some as young as 13, who could be considered a threat to his control.

Filed under: Polygamy
April 15th, 2008
05:09 PM ET

VA Tech shooter's roommate: Loopholes leave us in danger

Note from 360° Producer Kay Jones: A year ago, I went to the memorial at Cassell Coliseum on the campus at Virginia Tech, and afterward met up with student Andy Koch and his friend and former suitemate John Eide. They had agreed to tell us about Seung-Hui Cho, who hours earlier had been identified as the shooter in the Virginia Tech Massacre. After about an hour of conversation, they agreed to go on camera and tell their story to Gary Tuchman.

I have kept in touch with Andy, and recently asked him to blog about how his life has changed the past year. You can read that below, and watch Gary Tuchman’s interview with Andy and John from April 17, 2007... one day after 32 people were killed by Cho.


Andy Koch
Former roomate of VA Tech shooter

It doesn’t seem like a year has past since last April. I have experienced a whole range of emotions from guilt, sadness, anger and disbelief. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the thirty-two lives lost that day.

Last April has changed me along with others in good and bad ways. It has an already close campus even closer. It has also robbed many people of their innocence. Before April 16th most students went about their day with out any worries. I can say for myself that when I go in to classrooms I now think about how I would protect myself in the event if something similar happened again. I was not even in Norris that day and I think about these things. I have wondered if some of these feelings will fade over time when I graduate this May and am no longer around Virginia Tech everyday.


Filed under: Campus Rage
April 15th, 2008
01:24 PM ET

At the green gate, and then a glimpse of the polygamist's life

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/15/art.insidepolygamy.jpg caption="CNN gets rare access inside the FLDS compound ."]

Katherine Wojtecki
CNN Producer
Every day for the last week and a half that I have been here in remote Texas, I've approached anyone and everyone who came to the beaten-up green farm gate that is the sole entrance to the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS.


Then, out of nowhere, buses pulled up carrying what appeared to be women from the compound, and I thought this could be our chance, our one chance to persuade them to let us inside this mysterious place that we all knew so little about.

The women started to file off the buses and started talking with us, telling their side of the story, and the impact on them and their children of the raid in which the state removed 416 children after allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

As the women finished talking with us, and started climbing into their SUV's to head up the long road to the compound, I knew that was my chance. I approached the men at the gate and asked if our cameras and satellite truck could go in for the first-ever look with television cameras.

I tried my best convincing, and they said yes. I almost didn't believe it. This group had usually dodged reporters, and refused to say anything at all to outsiders.

As soon as they unlocked that green gate every member of the media started driving up, and asking to be let in, too. And so the men decided if they let us in, they were going to have to let everyone else in.


Filed under: Polygamy
April 15th, 2008
12:51 PM ET

Herschel Walker’s multiple personalities

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/15/t1home.herschel.walker.jpg
caption="Watch Herschel Walker's discussion with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, tonight on 360 10p ET."]

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

When I first heard that former football great Herschel Walker had multiple personality disorder, I was pretty stunned. Even though, I am a doctor, I had to admit that I knew very little about this particular psychiatric disorder.

For starters, it is called DID, or dissociative identity disorder, instead of multiple personality disorder. Most people think of Sally Field’s character Sybil, but another thing I learned is neither Sybil nor Walker actually has multiple personalities, but rather the lack of one cohesive personality.

In Walker’s case, he has twelve - yes twelve - alter personalities, which are all better described as fragments of one. (Here is an article I thought was very informative)

 Sitting down with Walker, I met an extremely charismatic and likeable man who certainly didn’t overtly flip from one alter to the next. It became clear, though, throughout our conversation that these alters were just under the surface.

Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Herschel Walker
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