We’re counting down to the primaries in Kentucky and Oregon. John King will be at the magic board and Gary Tuchman reports from the poorest county in the state of Kentucky. It’s called Clay County and its per capita income is only about 9,700 dollars a year. Take a look at Gary’s blog for a sneak peek at what they’re looking for when they head for the polls tomorrow.
In raw politics tonight, Republicans are taking shots at Michelle Obama. Are political spouses fair game or should they be kept off limits? We’ll discuss that with the best political team on television.
And custody hearings began today for the more than 400 kids removed from Warren Jeffs’ polygamous ranch in Eldorado, Texas. David Mattingly has been blogging about it and will have the latest developments.
Erica is off tonight but Anderson will be blogging. Be sure to check him out on our live web camera from the 360° studio. 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.
CEO, Oregon Food Bank, Portland, Oregon
It’s Oregon’s turn in the limelight. Presidential candidates are blazing a quick trail through the state as Oregonians turn in their ballots with the thought that this time 'round their late-primary vote will count.
Crowds flock to hear the candidates talk about energy, the economy, education and health care. But when it comes to talking about hunger ... they are silent.
That’s why I sent a letter to all of the major candidates ... red and blue ... inviting them to visit Oregon Food Bank ... to discuss their policy recommendations to eliminate hunger in the U.S.
In many ways, our efficient, 108,000-square-foot warehouse symbolizes what’s off kilter in America today. The American dream has failed too many people in our nation.
We are failing our children
Children who are hungry get sick more often, have more difficulty learning in school, and may face long-term, irreversible health problems.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/19/art.obamashirts.jpg caption="Shirts with the likeness of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama offered for half price in a store window May 19, 2008 in Kentucky."]
We've seen a lot of enthusiasm on the campaign trail this year from coast to coast. Cheering crowds, exuberant voters, an exciting race.
But we did not see any of that today in Clay County, Kentucky. The Appalachian county is the poorest in the state. It's per capita income is only about 9700 dollars a year. There is a strong feeling among people we talked to here today that it doesn't matter who is elected president; that the economy here will stay as rotten as it's been for more than a generation.
Unemployment here is very high; the mayor of Manchester, which is the county seat, says more than half the county residents are unemployed or underemployed. The sky high gas prices are debilitating. One young man told us he has no job, and now can't afford the gas to drive and find a job.
What we keep hearing over and over is that the White House might as well be on the moon; there is no faith here that any of the candidates can do anything to help poor communities like Clay County. Election officials here tell us they expect a low turnout tomorrow.
And after spending the day here, and seeing people who so desperately want to be out of the grinding wheels of poverty but can't escape it, I'm not so surprised about that.
Program note: Watch Gary Tuchman's report on tonight's AC360 at 10p ET.
Afternoon session in San Angelo, Texas. Judge Thomas Gossett presiding.
Kathleen Steed, mother of 12, possibly 13 (one child is being disputed): Father, LeRoy Steed, is not present, state has not been able to locate him. Hearing focused on only one of their children, an 8-year-old girl.
Paige Hawkins, Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services, on the stand... She says the state formulated a "family service plan" for the family based on risks that officials felt the child faced when they removed her from the FLDS ranch.
They haven't had any contact with the father, nor was he included in forming the plan.
Conversation with adults from the FLDS sect in west Texas are usually very polite and very short. Few have been willing to share more than a friendly "hello" with me and even fewer have been willing to discuss any details of this mammoth child abuse investigation.
But today, 32-year-old father James Jessop tells me he and his wife are weary. The couple has 5 children in four different foster care facilities.
State child protection officials say they've tried to keep family groups together. But that is not the case with the Jessops.
The kids are spread from Houston to Abileen. The Jessops figure that a single visit to each child is an 18-hundred mile journey.
James Jessop also has two other children by two other wives. He plans to be back in court when each of those cases are scheduled.
Jessop firmly believes the state has attacked the sect for its religious beliefs. But he is among parents who now say they will do anything the state requires to get his children back.
Editor's Note: Mark Halperin is editor of ThePage at Time.com. He is a guest on AC360° tonight at 10p ET.
Senior political analyst for TIME magazine
- Kansas Democratic Chair Larry Gates endorses Obama.
Today’s tally: Obama 3, Clinton 0.
Other Obama nods announced Monday:
– West Virginia Sen. Byrd.
– Washington State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz.
Plus: California selects its final delegates for the national convention Sunday and adds five additional supers, giving three to Clinton, two to Obama.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/19/art.myanmaraid.jpg caption="Victims of Cyclone Nargis rush to get first in line to receive donated goods from a local donor at a monastery outside the capital of Yangon, Myanmar on Monday May 19, 2008."]
Editor’s note: World Vision is a Christian-based humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide. Laura Cusumano Blank works for the organization. Here is how she found out she would be traveling to the region to help the victims:
Laura Cusumano Blank
World Vision emergency communications officer
I just hung up the phone with Thai Airways. Almost two weeks to the day that I got the "how quickly can you get to Bangkok?" wake-up call, I'm heading back to New York City. It feels like the last time I saw my husband, my apartment, and my favorite corner coffee shop must have been two months ago, but it's only been two weeks.
It's hard to leave this post feeling like there is so much work left to be done in Myanmar. I guess that's the challenge of being a communicator. My job ends when the real work on the ground begins. By then, the story has most likely died away, and yet another emergency has popped up in yet another forgotten corner of the world.
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Hearing's underway in courtroom B in San Angelo, Texas. The purpose is to review the state's "family service plans" outlining what parents need to do to get their families back, and to make sure the parents understand what the state is requiring. The state says the plans are tools to help family reunification.
Judge Thomas Gosset presided over one mother, Nora Jeffs, the mother of 8 minor children. All the cases were grouped into one, as they had the same mother.
Child Protective Services (CPS) child case worker Irene Schweneger (SP?) takes the stand.
One problem, the caseworker says, that the state is looking to remedy is that all 8 of her children have been placed in different parts of the state. Ms. Jeffs has been driving all over Texas to visit them.
CPS says it is aware that some health issues have popped up while the children have been in CPS care. The youngest child, a 1- 1/2 year old boy, has had various illnesses including minor ear infections, but the child required hospitalization. Unsure why.
The earthquake in Sichuan has highlighted the particularly stark losses this tragedy has inflicted on the Chinese nuclear family. It's hard to convey just how close parents and their precious only child are here; they spend so much of their daily lives together in such small, shared spaces.
This quake struck when children were at school and parents were out working, and some of the most desperate emotions we are seeing now come from an incredible breach of the family unit.
One of the recurring cries from the parents, acknowledged by officials, is the shoddy construction of schools here, which has led to a disproportionately high number of young deaths – almost 7000 classrooms destroyed. In the town of Juyuan in Dujiangyan county, the middle school has completely collapsed, while apartment buildings right next door are still standing, with even the windows intact.