April 16th, 2008
09:34 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 4/16/08

Tonight, the last Democratic match-up before the Pennsylvania primary.  Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama debated in Philadelphia and by the second question Obama had to explain, yet again, just what he meant when he told campaign donors at a San Francisco-area event 10 days ago that small-town Pennsylvania residents are "bitter" over their economic circumstances and "cling" to their guns and religion.  Who won?  Who lost? And what impact will it have on the primary next week?  The best political team in television will dissect the debate for you.

And we’re continuing our series on the top contenders for the White House with Sen. John McCain.  It’s an in-depth look at the presumptive Republican Nominee including what drove him to attempt suicide.

 Plus, tomorrow there’s an unprecedented custody hearing in Texas.  What will happen to the 416 children removed from the polygamous compound?  Anderson’s going to talk to a spokesman from  FLDS and a former member. 

We’ll be blogging for two hours tonight.  We’ll start posting comments at 10p ET and stopping at 12a ET

Filed under: Live Blog
April 16th, 2008
08:18 PM ET

Politics and the Pope

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

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

Perhaps attempting to deny President George W. Bush, and by extension the Republican Party, a monopoly on Pope Benedict XVI, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted during a conference call with journalists today that aside from a few hot-button issues such as abortion, “The Catholic social agenda reads like the Democratic platform.”

Pelosi pointed to issues such as debt relief, immigration, the environment, torture, and budge priorities as areas of harmony between the social concerns of the Catholic church and Democrats.

Specifically on immigration, Pelosi expressed hope that “the Holy Father will be heard by those who are on the fence on this issue.”

“We need to hear the perspective of a person of faith and values who commands a level of respect that no politician could ever dream of,” she said.

Pelosi, who greeted Benedict at the White House this morning, spoke during an afternoon conference call with a group of religion writers.

Pelosi clearly acknowledged her differences with Pope Benedict on matters such as abortion and birth control, saying that “the church can only do what it believes, and I can only do what I believe.”

She added, however, that she hopes unwanted pregnancies become more rare, so that “people don’t have to make that choice.”


Filed under: John L. Allen Jr. • Pope Benedict
April 16th, 2008
07:30 PM ET

Death for rape?

Sean Callebs
CNN Correspondent

Turn to someone near you, ask the question, "does someone deserve the death penalty for a non-homicide crime?" Now ask it this way:  Should someone be sentenced to die for raping a young child?

It's a question before the U.S. Supreme Court, involving a Louisiana case. It's been going on 50 years since anyone was executed in this country for a crime other than murder.

Patrick Kennedy was convicted of raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter in 1998. Kennedy is 6'4" and a mammoth 300 pounds. If Kennedy would have committed the heinous crime in any other state, he would have faced a maximum of a life behind bars.

But in 1995, Louisiana became the first state to impose the punishment of death for child rape. (Incidentally, the state lawmaker who drafted the legislation is David Vitter. Now a U.S. Senator he has his own problems after being linked to the D.C. Madam and didnt return our calls)


Filed under: Crime & Punishment
April 16th, 2008
01:32 PM ET

Virginia Tech and NIU shootings: One common denominator

By Kelli Arena
CNN Correspondent

The shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University had one thing in common - Eric Thompson. He is one of the biggest online gun dealers in the country. He sold a gun to one shooter and equipment to the other. [cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/CRIME/04/16/vt.one.year.later/art.vt.community.candles.gi.jpg caption="A year later, Virginia Tech students say they have learned about themselves and their community."]

You'd probably never know that, though, had Thompson himself not made those facts public. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is specifically prohibited by law from releasing that kind of information.

Thompson has been unusually public about a lot of things since those tragic shootings, in particular his remedy for dealing with gun violence.

"My answer to this problem is let people protect themselves," says Thompson.

That's right, more guns, or at least the threat of more guns. Thompson is pushing for more states to allow its citizens to conceal and carry, and he supports allowing students to carry guns on college and university campuses.


Filed under: Campus Rage • Kelli Arena
April 16th, 2008
12:43 PM ET

Earmark update: Presidential politics saves taxpayers millions

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/16/art.capitolbuildling2.jpg%5D

Drew Griffin
Special Investigations Unit Correspondent

We’re waiting to find out if the U.S. Senator’s earmark requests this year will jam the Senate Appropriations computer. The deadline for getting those pet project requests in is next Friday, April 25. And if the requests are anything like their counterparts in the House, the computer will experience a “slow down”, as house staffers called it, due to the load of pet projects being requested.

But we’ve learned there is going to be a significant taxpayer savings from at least two U.S. Senators. Which two? Guess?


Filed under: Earmarks • Keeping Them Honest
April 16th, 2008
12:03 PM ET

Polygamy: a case for the history books

David Mattingly
360° Correspondent

San Angelo, Texas is overrun with lawyers.  The city of 88 thousand  is struggling to find accommodations for more than 350 attorneys who have volunteered to handle custody cases for the 416 children removed from the polygamous compound in Eldorado.  Every hotel room is booked. Some are finding private homes to stay in.  There is a strong sense of anticipation in town because this case is one for the history books.  People here like to say, "Everything's big in Texas"...but the legal community has never seen anything this big.

Filed under: Polygamy
April 16th, 2008
11:37 AM ET

The Profound Tragedy of Daniel Kim

Dr. Charles J. Sophy
Medical Director of the LA County Department of Children & Family Services

The massacre that killed 32 students and professors at Virginia Tech last April may have put this university on the map, but Daniel's Kim suicide 8 months later (see here) is every bit as tragic.  And in my opinion, more significant.  Once again, at the same university, a profound failure of this school's mental health checks and balances system.  But it's not just Virginia Tech's failure alone.  This university's protocol for mental health issues is more similar than different than many other universities around the United States, and the protocol is simply not good enough. 

We MUST make it good enough.  And by the way, making it good enough, will still not save every person that is experiencing mental illness or issues, but it most certainly gives these individuals a fighting chance to survive. It is unbearable to me knowing that in Daniel Kim's case, only the police were called on his behalf for a wellness or welfare check.  As a psychiatrist, the thought of someone in emotional turmoil being checked on by the police only, with all due respect, is tragic. 
So, how do we begin to make it better? For starters, by putting into place a standardized "check and balance system" where we co-locate mental health with child welfare welfare with law enforcement.  What this means is that schools needs to have a team of experts in place to respond to referrals or in the case of Virginia Tech, an emergency e-mail.  And these teams must all be called into play during both routine assessments and in emergencies, regardless if the individual lives on or off campus.  These multi-disciplinary teams should be reaching to each other, looking at the crisis from all angles: mental health, child welfare, safety risk, and law enforcement. These angles are connected and intertwined.  And once the appropriate people are looking at the right pieces, maybe these kids can be saved.

Filed under: Campus Rage
April 16th, 2008
11:00 AM ET

On Polygamy: former FLDS member speaks out

Kathy Jo Nicholson
Former FLDS member

I grew up in the FLDS. I know first-hand the abuse that takes place under the ruse of religious freedom. In August of 2006, when Warren Jeffs entered the courtroom most people saw a pathetic image of a man in chains. I saw my former teacher —- the man who intimidated us and who eventually became the one to whom we were to declare unquestioning obedience as our Prophet. As I viewed Warren Jeffs in chains I couldn’t help but think about the many women and children still bound in psychological chains inside the FLDS. When I thought about his chains, I remembered theirs.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/16/art.maryjo.jpg caption=" Kathy Jo Nicholson is a former member of Warren Jeffs' polygamist sect"]

Recently, the state of Texas intervened in behalf of many of those children and young women, who are bound by the chains of abuse. Many have been born into it and they do not know any other lifestyle. They’ve never experienced the freedom to think for themselves or to freely question their leaders. They’ve been told to keep "sweet," to sacrifice their feelings for the greater "good." They’ve been taught that perfect obedience leads to perfect faith. When you are taught that it is a sin to think or question things, you begin to function in total obedience to the will of another. It is as if you are a robot made to do the bidding of your husband and the Prophet.
When you listen to the women who have been separated from their children, your first thought may be sorrow for the women who are experiencing the pain. I was among the first to say that the children should not be separated from their mothers. But these mothers also need to stop enabling these men to hurt their children. They need to seek help and counseling for themselves so that they can in turn help their children. These women are victims, too. They were raised in the FLDS, and told not to question it. I urge them to get out and let their minds be freed from these chains of mental abuse.

Filed under: Polygamy
April 16th, 2008
10:55 AM ET

Beat 360° 4/16/08

Hey Bloggers!

It's time for tonight's ‘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: Here we have an elephant standing on its hind legs as it shoots a ball during a basketball performance for foreign tourists last year at Mae Taman Elephant Park in Chiang Mai province, northern Thailand.

Beat 360°

Have fun with it.

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

– David Reisner, 360° Digital Producer

Filed under: Beat 360°
April 16th, 2008
10:28 AM ET

Up Close: John McCain

Becoming John McCain: 360's Erica Hill uncovers the John McCain you don't know.
Becoming John McCain: 360's Erica Hill uncovers the John McCain you don't know.

Erica Hill
AC360 Correspondent

It’s tough to find anyone in the US who doesn’t know about Senator John McCain’s time as a POW in Vietnam. What you probably don’t know, however, is that those five and a half years of hell - endless years of torture, beatings, nearly starving, all the while never knowing if he would see his children and his family again - were not the darkest days of his life. To sink that low, John McCain would have to go to Washington.

His life story is fascinating, as his campaign wants you to remember. But John McCain’s recent biography tour, while interesting and inspiring, didn’t reveal many new facts about the senior senator from Arizona. Tonight, 360 will. Not just the events that brought McCain lower than he’d ever been, but also the dark moments before and after that have shaped the presumptive Republican nominee… and the battle that lies ahead.

You’ll hear from his roommate at the Naval Academy, from a fellow POW turned lifelong friend, from the man who served as best man at Sen McCain’s wedding to his second wife, Cindy… a man you may know best as Pres. Clinton’s Defense Secretary. The stories about John McCain you didn’t know, from the people who know him best. Tonight, 360 takes you up close.

Program Note: Watch 360 tonight at 10pm ET for an in-depth look at Presidential candidate John McCain.

Filed under: Raw Politics
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