May 1st, 2008
09:55 PM ET

Coconut Road: An expensive gift that no one gave - or wants

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/01/art.donyoung.jpg caption="Rep. Don Young, (R) Alaska"]

**Watch Joe John's Keeping Them Honest report tonight at 10pm**

Joe Johns
° Correspondent

We’re looking into a kind of congressional earmark whodunit. It’s a story about an order for a brand new highway interchange that just sort of appeared in a piece of federal legislation—after the legislation had already passed in a final vote.

The price tag? Ten million dollars.

It was basically a gift to the people of Lee County, Florida. And when they see it, people tend to ask what did we do to deserve this gift? Then they start asking—do we really want this gift?

But another problem is this: No one is sure how the interchange got into the legislation. The guy suspected of putting it there Congressman Don Young of Alaska (not Florida!), one of the masters of earmarking.

Young’s office seemed to take credit a few weeks ago, saying the bill was supposed to include it. But yesterday Young seemed to say he wasn’t involved.

People on the Hill are itching to get an investigation going on this.. But it may turn out that the only way Congress can find out what happened is to get itself investigated.

Filed under: Joe Johns • Keeping Them Honest
May 1st, 2008
09:50 PM ET

Erica's News Note

Erica Hill
° Correspondent

In London today, jurors saw video of the aftermath of the July 7, 2005 bombings; I can only imagine how these pictures made them feel. Among the images, a train exploding seconds after leaving one station… and bystanders franticly seeking cover after a bomb went off on the No. 30 bus. The frightening reality of that day, brought back to life nearly three years later.


The details emerging from Austria and this unbelievable case of incest there are more disturbing by the day. I haven’t written about it everyday, but today the new information just struck me… so here it is.

A former tenant of Josef Frtizl’s says he saw the man’s son go into the basement – the same basement where Fritzl kept his daughter captive for 24 years.

When this tenant asked to speak to Fritzl’s son, the father told him the boy was working and "not to distract him." Could this boy have known something? Just one of the many questions still to be answered. Police say they expect the investigation to last at least a couple of months.

Meantime, the children who lived in that basement are adjusting to the outside world… including sunlight. My heart goes out to them.


I didn’t see this one coming! Barbara Walters had an affair?! That’s not all she reveals in an upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey – it’s one I’ll be watching (in a split-screen with Wolf and The Sit Room, of course).


OK, here’s your feel-good nugget of the day… one that hits close to home for me. I believe education is the key to success – and I’m not talking about financial success. Education opens so many doors in life. It builds confidence, it levels the playing field and it unites us. I was raised in a family that loves to read, and was fortunate to be surrounded by books.

My son is lucky enough to already have an enormous library of his own, and he is just getting to the age where he loves to curl up in our laps with a book (heaven!). Watching him discover the joys of reading and of books is priceless to me and my husband.

I want you to meet another man who knows the value of a good book, the opportunities it can bring and the doors and minds it can open. I hope you find him as inspirational as I do.

Filed under: Erica Hill
May 1st, 2008
09:43 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 5/1/08

Tonight, a high powered superdelegate is switching sides. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman, Joe Andrew, is withdrawing his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, and backing Barack Obama instead. He says he’s doing it because it’s “...best for America. We simply cannot wait any longer, nor can we let this race fall any lower and still hope to win in November. June or July may be too late. The time to act is now." We’ll have reaction and analysis.

Gary Tuchman is on the campaign trail with Bill Clinton. He spent the past two days following the former president and gives us an up close look at his impact on Sen. Clinton’s campaign.

And a smiley face on a wall. Is it just graffiti or is it the calling card of a serial killer? Erica Hill has the evidence tonight in crime and punishment.

We want to hear what you think. So bring on the comments. We’ll start posting them at 10p ET and stop at 11p ET.

And don’t forget to check out the live web camera from the 360° studio. The shot features Anderson and Erica behind the scenes on the set. We’ll turn the camera on at 945p ET and turn it off at 11p ET. LINK TO THE BLOG CAMERA

Filed under: Live Blog
May 1st, 2008
05:52 PM ET

Kick out the immigrants. Now bring them back.

Randi Kaye
° Correspondent

“I told ya so” - that’s what lots of folks in Arizona these days are saying.

In January, the state passed the toughest immigration law in the country.

It’s called the “Employer Sanctions Law” and it penalizes businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. After two offenses, businesses could have their licenses yanked.

Two months ago I went to Arizona to check out how this might impact the state. A local economist predicted about 8 percent of Arizona’s population would disappear, and the state would lose tens of billions of dollars in economic output. The agriculture industry, tourism, hospitality, and construction would be hardest hit. Why? Because illegal workers, at that time, made up about 11 percent of Arizona’s workforce, more than twice the national percentage. Now thousands have left town in search of work.


Filed under: Immigration • Randi Kaye
May 1st, 2008
05:23 PM ET

Mission Accomplished? Few Iraqis Would Agree

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/01/art.iraqchild.jpg%5D

Arwa Damon
CNN Correspondent

Nearly every day tapes arrive at our Baghdad bureau, with images of bloodied bodies, and we know it won't be the last.  Iraqis know they will live through more horror.  It was today, five years ago that President Bush announced "Mission Accomplished."  Few Iraqis would agree.

On one day, a  tape from Sadr city,  the vast slum that is the base for anti-US Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. On it, a woman clad in black cries out a little boy's name.  He lies lifeless on a stretcher.  If it weren't for the layer of gray dust covering his fragile body, you might think he was sleeping. He was four years old. 

The next day we learn seven of his family members were also killed. 

There are images that we can’t show.  Images of half a body dangling off a bomb damaged building.

There are images that we don't show. At the hospital two men embrace, sobbing.  A little girl comes in, fighting the doctors, shrieking, as they try to remove shrapnel from her face.


Filed under: Iraq
May 1st, 2008
05:09 PM ET

Oh my, Miley!

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/01/art.mileyfinal.jpg%5D

Kristen Fyfe
The Culture and Media Institute, a conservative advocacy organization

It’s almost eerie.  In checking around to see what the media buzz is on the Miley Cyrus/Vanity Fair bare-backed photo controversy, I ran across this piece from Time, which was posted yesterday.  Seems Cyrus made Time’s Time 100 list of influential people.  The write-up on Cyrus is by former teen idol Donny Osmond, who wrote:

“Show business is about idolization. As an idol to tweens the world over, singer-actress Miley Cyrus, 15, is riding a huge tidal wave at the pinnacle of her career; this is as it should be. I hope she enjoys it. I guarantee there will be many bumps in the road ahead. One of them, especially for somebody who acts and sings on her own TV show, is that your image becomes cryogenically frozen into a specific stereotype. Within three to five years, Miley will have to face adulthood. Fans grow up, and their youthful interests quickly dissolve. Her challenge will be overcoming the Hannah Montana stereotype.  Miley's fans are not thinking about the fact that she will grow up too. As she does, she'll want to change her image, and that change will be met with adversity.”

Likelihood that Osmond wrote that within the last 48 hours?  Zero.  But the man deserves kudos for being prescient.


Filed under: Pop Culture • Women's Issues
May 1st, 2008
03:21 PM ET

Beat 360° – 5/1/08

Hey Bloggers!

Good afternoon. 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:


Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., seated next to Vice Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., holds up a loaf of bread on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, during the Joint Economic Committee's hearing on rising food prices.

Have fun with it.

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

 Update: Check out last night's Beat 360° winner!

Filed under: Beat 360°
May 1st, 2008
12:49 PM ET

Bill Clinton is everywhere - and nowhere

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/01/art.bill.clinton.ap.jpg caption="Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, at a private residence in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on Tuesday."]

Gary Tuchman
AC 360°  Correspondent

Check out this itinerary:

Apex, Sanford, Lillington, Dunn, Hope Mills, Lumberton, and Whiteville, North Carolina.

Morgantown and Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Whiting, Schererville, Crown Point and Michigan City, Indiana.

Thirteen different cities and three states, all in less than 36 hours for the spouse of a presidential candidate.

Of course, that spouse - Bill Clinton - is known for his energetic campaigning regiments, but this is still quite extreme.

We've spent the last two days with the 42nd president as he works to make his wife the 44th. And, what's notable is how carefully he is working to stay away from controversy.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
May 1st, 2008
12:47 PM ET

Why so many FLDS children have broken bones

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/17/art.polygamy3.jpg%5D

Carolyn Jessop
Co-author with Laura Palmer of the bestseller ESCAPE, a personal account of life in the FLDS
Sickened but not surprised is my reaction to the news that 41 of the boys removed from the Eldorado compound showed signs of having had broken bones. Some of them were “very young,” according to child protection officials.

I was married to Merril Jessop, who now runs the compound in Texas. Physical abuse was not uncommon in his household. I saw boys hit or kicked hard enough to result in fractures. I remember seeing a boy kicked so hard he flew across the room. I’ve seen boys hit with large boards.

It’s not just the abuse.

When my son, Patrick, was six years old, he fell off a bunk bed one night. I was sure he broke his arm. Merril refused to let me take him to the doctor. He said his arm was not broken. I sat up with Pat all night. I gave him pain medication. He was in agony.

I was not free as a mother to take my child to the doctor unless I had Merril’s permission. I waited for three days until Merril went out of town. Pat was unable to use his arm. I took him to the local clinic. His arm was broken and needed to be set.

Neglect is abuse, too.


Filed under: Carolyn Jessop • Laura Palmer • Polygamy
May 1st, 2008
09:23 AM ET

Just who is Barack Obama anyway?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/04/29/obama.wright/art.obama.tues.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced comments made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright."]
Ed Rollins
GOP Strategist and Former Huckabee National Campaign Chairman

Who is Barack Obama? What does he really believe?

These are the unanswered questions about a man who could be the 44th president.

That is why there is such a curiosity about him and why the public and media is looking closely at his wife, and his minister and, before this is over, every other element of his life.

Here is what we do know. He is extremely articulate and extremely ambitious. You can throw bright into the mix, too. But what he really is, is inexperienced. No one in recent times has jumped to the front of the Presidential express quicker or with a thinner resume.

He served a few years in the part-time Illinois state Senate and worked part-time as a junior associate lawyer drafting wills and real estate documents.

Prior to law school, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago, whatever that means. He ran voter registration drives and through knowledge he learned from that experience, he got elected in 1996 to a State Senate seat.

Conveniently, Obama ran virtually unopposed after he legally challenged the qualifying petitions of the incumbent and his other three primary opponents and got them thrown off the ballot. Winning the Democrat primary meant victory because Republicans offered only token opposition in the most overwhelming Democrat district in the state.

Before he had served out his term, Obama ran for Congress and got crushed by incumbent Bobby Rush in a primary. He also chose not to vote on many controversial measures in the legislature.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Ed Rollins • Raw Politics • Rev. Jeremiah Wright
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