August 1st, 2008
09:51 PM ET

When the world crumbles beneath you

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/01/bridgebridge.jpg caption="Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis after it collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007"]

Alyssa Caplan
AC360° Staff

Earlier this week when a 5.4 magnitude earthquake hit Southern California, cameras at a “Judge Judy” taping captured a rare glimpse of the moments during the quake. You can see the panic as a once stable room starts to rock and roll.

Thankfully there were no fatalities or serious injuries – but as I watched the video, it was the first time I could really imagine how unnerving it would be to be in an earthquake. Despite what is going on in the world, there is a certain comfort that can found in standing on solid ground.

With the one year anniversary of the Minneapolis bridge collapse approaching, my thoughts quickly turned to another group of people whose world actually crumbled beneath them. Over the past year, I have thought of them often.

On Aug. 1, 2007, I sat at my desk at CNN’s New York offices and watched terrified, unable to get through to family members or friends in my hometown of Minneapolis as the story unfolded and images of the mangled bridge began to appear on television.

The next day, I was in Minneapolis helping find guests and stories for the show. One of my most memorable moments was with a guest who had been driving the day before when her car plunged off the bridge into the Mississippi. We were standing together at dusk on the roof of a building near the collapse where our live shot was set up. She somehow managed to survive the fall and escape from her submerged vehicle that was pinned under water between concrete slabs and debris.

She bravely agreed to take the crazy freight elevator (hard hat not optional) to the top of the building, which quite frankly, jilted me. Peering down in the distance with her at the wreckage, I simply could not believe she was standing next to me – standing, at times smiling, and making jokes. She talked about being underwater and thinking that she had to get out because she had fun plans for the weekend and this just couldn’t be the end. It is amazing to be reminded what resilient creatures we are; what the human spirit can endure.

Kim Dahl, who was driving a school bus filled of children and Lindsay Petterson were also on the bridge. They are part of an active online community, sharing their thoughts and journey of the last year. Their stories can be found here:


August 1st, 2008
09:36 PM ET

No Live Blog 8/1/08

No live blog tonight. We'll be back Monday. Have a great weekend.

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
August 1st, 2008
09:15 PM ET

Weekend Buzz: homemade flying machines and Napoleon Dynamite

Lisa Ort
AC360° Producer

Here’s a look at some of the stories on our radar this weekend:

PROTEST AGAINST HOSTILITIES WITH IRAN: The group Stop War on Iran is scheduled to hold a protest march in New York City.

NFL HALL OF FAME ENSHRINEMENT CEREMONY: Emmitt Thomas, Fred Dean, Darrell Green, Andre Tippett, Art Monk and Gary Zimmerman will be formally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE FESTIVAL: The cult movie was filmed in Preston, ID where the festival takes place.

MANDELA CELEBRATION: The African National Congress is scheduled to hold a rally to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday in Tshwane, South Africa. Mandela turned 90 on July 18.

RED BULL FLUGTAG: Event sponsored by Red Bull in which competitors attempt to fly homemade human-powered flying machines.  Check out some of the highlights from the 2006 entries on youtube. 

NATIONAL STOP ON RED WEEK BEGINS: This week sponsored in part by the Federal Highway Administration seeks to reduce the number of drivers running red lights.

XVII INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE: International dignitaries and activists will attend this major AIDS conference in Mexico City.

Filed under: The Buzz
August 1st, 2008
06:28 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Weekend Mode

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

It’s Friday, it’s August (where has the summer gone?!)…seems like a perfect day for some weekend-friendly tales. So, here are a few talkers for wherever the next two days will take you – enjoy!

If you’ve ever known someone who spent any time in China, chances are you’ve heard about the lines. The etiquette for waiting on line is pretty much the opposite of what we’re used to in the US, but the government is trying to change that… at least during the Olympics.

Four million “manners manuals” have been sent to Beijing homes by the government. Among the tips: no pushing in line, no spitting, and no nose-picking. Their advice when talking to foreign friends? Don’t ask people how much money they make, how old they are or whether they’re married.


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note • Olympics
August 1st, 2008
04:16 PM ET

Reviving the Hillary Idea?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/01/art.clintonforobama.jpg caption="Sen. Hillary Clinton at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees convention in San Francisco"]David Gergen
CNN Sr. Political Analyst
AC360° Contributor

By all accounts, Barack Obama has written off Hillary Clinton as a running mate, but after watching the politics of the past few days, it is increasingly clear that he should reconsider.

The major tests for a vice presidential choice are (a) whether the person is qualified to be president; and (b) your running mate will give you a better chance at victory. It is relevant but should not be decisive whether you happen to like the person. History suggests strongly that in 1960, John F. Kennedy did not much like Lyndon Johnson - and Bobby despised him - but Kennedy, locked in a close race, chose Johnson anyway. It was a wise call: LBJ delivered not only Texas but enough southern votes to put JFK over the top by a whisker.

Barack Obama has just come off a couple of the best weeks we have ever seen for a campaigner. What other candidate has walked so safely through the minefields of the Middle East and drawn over 200,000 people in Europe? Given the unpopularity of President Bush and the meandering campaign of John McCain, one would ordinarily expect that Obama would have opened up a lead of 10 points or so. Yet we see just the opposite happening: FULL POST

Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
August 1st, 2008
02:39 PM ET

Making swordplay of stereotypes

In the world of fencing, Sello Maduna is South Africa's first black Olympic fencer. CNN 's Robyn Curnow reports.
In the world of fencing, Sello Maduna is South Africa's first black Olympic fencer. CNN 's Robyn Curnow reports.

Robyn Curnow
CNN Correspondent

In the swashbuckling world of fencing, Sello Maduna is ready for some serious swordplay.

He’s softly spoken and slightly built, but South Africa’s first black Olympic fencer likes to talk tough. “You don’t want to be my opponent. I am mean, dangerous and you don’t want to get in my way,” he says.

It’s this attitude that helped the 21-year-old old to qualify for Beijing and break racial stereotypes along the way. But his Olympic coach, Gennady Tyschler, a Russian living in South Africa, says that Sello is “very dedicated. He is a fighter; you can see he is a fighter.”

Sello Maduna’s road to Beijing started in Mamelodi, which is a dusty, poor and crime-ridden township outside Pretoria, where he lives with his mother and grandmother in a small house.

Unemployment is rife here, which is why Sello’s friends earn what little money they can washing cars. Every day, between morning and evening training sessions, he hangs out with them at their make-shift car wash a few blocks from his house.

It from these young “homeboys,” as Sello calls his friends, that he says he got a lot of the emotional support needed to become an Olympian. While they shine hubcaps and soap down dirty car bonnets, Sello and his friends talk and talk and talk. With their ragged T-shirts and dirty shoes, they are an unlikely band of sports psychologists.

“I am his encouragement,” Elias Magaguna says. “I don’t have funds. He is looking for sponsor, for his swords and suits. But mentally and spiritually I am there for him.”

Back at his house, sitting on the outside steps of his small room, Sello proudly displays his medal collection from regional and national competitions. Gazing at the colorful array of medals, Sello says the first time he saw people fencing — when he was in primary school — “I thought it was something silly. And why would they wear white clothes and play around with swords?’


Filed under: Olympics
August 1st, 2008
02:20 PM ET

Marching with the Monks

Program Note: In the fight for freedom and democracy, their weapon is peace. Go inside the world of Buddhism with CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Buddha's Warriors. Saturday & Sunday, 8 and 11 p.m. ET


In March, Indian authorities and Tibetan exiles clashed during a protest march against China's rule. CNN's Brian Rokus was there filming 'Buddha's Warriors,' and filed this report.
In March, Indian authorities and Tibetan exiles clashed during a protest march against China's rule. CNN's Brian Rokus was there filming 'Buddha's Warriors,' and filed this report.

Brian Rokus
CNN Producer

It’s the end of a 25-day trip literally around the world. Work on two different documentaries has taken the crew and me to China, North Korea and South Korea. And now we’re on the side of the road in rural northern India enjoying a lovely lunch of chocolate bars and potato chips.

We're marching (and by marching, I mean riding alongside in our van) with 100 Buddhist monks who are trying to march from their home in exile in Dharamsala, India to the border of their native Tibet to protest China's rule there. The monks plan to cover 800 miles over the course of several months. The reality, however, is that nobody expects Indian authorities to let them get that far.

At first, it seems the march might be over before it even really starts. On their first night out of Dharamsala, we get a panicked phone call from the organizers. Come quick, they say, the police are here! So we rush down to the monastery where they're staying expecting to see a dramatic scene of riot police dragging monks into busses. Instead, we find a handful of officers with a pile of paperwork: restraining orders. They're allowed to continue marching, but not past the borders of their home state. The clock begins ticking.

Filed under: Buddha's Warriors • Global 360°
August 1st, 2008
01:21 PM ET

Beat 360° 08/01/08

Hello 360° bloggers! Ready for today's Beat 360°?

Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too.

Tune in every night at 10p ET to see if you are our favorite!

Here is 'Beat 360°’ pic of the day:

A rainbow trout fingerling peers out from the gullet of a northern pike after being swallowed in a lobby aquarium exhibit at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game in Anchorage, Alaska.

Beat 360°

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions!

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

Beat 360° Challenge

But wait!… There’s more!

When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Read more here….

Good luck to all!

Update: Check out our Beat 360 Winners!

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
August 1st, 2008
12:24 PM ET

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse: Then & Now

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

One year ago today the nation saw one of the worst bridge collapses in a generation.
The Interstate 35W bridge collapse killed 13 people and injured more than 100...

Just this week, the National Transportation Safety Board released new evidence in the collapse investigation. One of its findings revealed that a plate connecting the support beams under the bridge had fractured along a section that was corroded. This was a concern that state officials had in fact realized... 15 years ago... but did not see as 'critical' to repair.

The board did not draw any conclusions about what exactly caused last summer's collapse... But as people plan memorials today for the victims, where are we one year later in Minneapolis? Today a skeleton of the new bridge spans the river where the old one once stood… You can see the progress that has been made in one year in these ‘Then & Now” photos I put together.

But where are we one year later in America? Days after the collapse calls came from every town, city, and state official for ‘immediate repairs’ to other bridges… and still, two out of three of the busiest bridges in the United States. ... with known problems… have had no work done beyond regular maintenance …

Program Note: CNN’s Campbell Brown investigates the nation's crumbling infrastructure in a special report, "Roads to Ruin: Why America is Falling Apart." Special guests include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Friday, 8 p.m. ET

August 1st, 2008
11:57 AM ET

Fear of Bridges – Why aren't they fixed?

Program Note: CNN’s Campbell Brown investigates the nation's crumbling infrastructure in a special report, "Roads to Ruin: Why America is Falling Apart." Special guests include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Friday, 8 p.m. ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/01/art.vert.hospital.jpg caption="Mercedes Gorden in the hospital. She has had nine surgeries since the bridge collapse last year. " width=292 height=320]
Randi Kaye
AC360° Correspondent

When I came to Minneapolis a year ago to report on the collapse off the Interstate 35W bridge, it was still laying in the Mississippi River. Huge chunks of steel and concrete lay twisted in the water. The cause was found to be a design flaw. That bridge had been built in 1967.

Today, it is a different story. The new bridge spanning the Mississippi is nearly done, two months ahead of schedule. It is a concrete bridge that cost about $250 million to build. If it is done by September 15th, the contractor will get a bonus of $27 million. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many of the victims from that horrible day are still recovering. More than 145 people were injured when the bridge buckled, and 13 were killed. Some of the bodies weren’t found for weeks. Some of the survivors are still dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. They still have nightmares about falling off a bridge.

I spent some time yesterday with one survivor. Her name is Mercedes Gorden. She has had nine surgeries since the bridge collapse.

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