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August 29th, 2008
02:31 PM ET

Palin is brilliant, but risky, VP choice

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.vert.palin.2006.jpg caption="John McCain announced little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate, seen here at an April 2, 2006 news conference in Juneau, Alaska." width=292 height=320]Ed Rollins
AC360° Contributor
GOP Strategist, Former Huckabee National Campaign Chairman

John McCain's brilliant but risky "Hail Mary pass" choice for vice president, Alaska Gov. Sarah "Barracuda" Palin, has the political world saying first: Who? And then: Why?

The "who" is a young, articulate, smart, tough, pro-life Roman Catholic who is the governor of our northernmost state. She is conservative and a mother of 5, including a son in the Army who is set to be deployed to Iraq on September 11. Her youngest child has Down syndrome.

The "Barracuda" nickname came from her aggressive basketball play on the state championship basketball team. She is a hunter, pilot and lifetime member of the NRA.

She is blunt, outspoken and charming. And don't assume she can't stand toe-to-toe with Joe Biden. She is a great debater. And she was runner-up for the Miss Alaska title, won Miss Congeniality in that contest, and plays the flute.

She also has a compelling story and is a most interesting choice. She will be known by all in 24 to 48 hours in this instant media world and I am betting she will be well-liked.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
August 29th, 2008
02:22 PM ET

Toothpaste, underwear and even Red Bull

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.katrina.supply.jpg]

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.

Dan Simon
CNN Correspondent

Of course, all of us remember the utter devastation.

One block after the next was under several feet of water. But from a reporting standpoint, one of the first things that comes to mind about Katrina was the infrastructure put in place by CNN.

Obviously, there was no access to gas stations, stores, etc. Within days of the storm, the network had created its own mini 'Costco' for its staff. Notepads, hats, suntan lotion, toothpaste, underwear and even Red Bull was available to all of us covering the story. (Though whoever was in charge of purchasing, went a little overboard on the grape jelly. There were literally pallets of the stuff in HUGE containers.)

It was quite impressive to see how the network had built up this infrastructure from nothing. A lot of us wondered why the government couldn’t be as efficient.


Filed under: Dan Simon • Hurricane Katrina
August 29th, 2008
02:14 PM ET

Is McCain out of his mind?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.palin.mccain.jpg caption="Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, left, smiles as his Vice Presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is introduced to supporters at a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio, Friday."]Paul Begala
CNN Contributor

John McCain needs what Kinky Friedman calls "a checkup from the neck up."

In choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate he is not thinking "outside the box," as some have said. More like out of his mind.

Palin a first-term governor of a state with more reindeer than people, will have to put on a few pounds just to be a lightweight. Her personal story is impressive: former fisherman, mother of five. But that hardly qualifies her to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

For a man who is 72 years old and has had four bouts with cancer to have chosen someone so completely unqualified to become president is shockingly irresponsible. Suddenly, McCain's age and health become central issues in the campaign, as does his judgment.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
August 29th, 2008
01:52 PM ET

The long road from Hillary to Barack

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.dncconvention2.jpg]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

From the west coast to the Gulf of Mexico, we gathered voters to hear their opinions before they make it to the voting booth. Our question– How are they reacting to Senator Barack Obama and the calls for unity at the Democratic National Convention? We asked three groups of voters, seniors, Latinos, and women, to gather and watch the conventions and share their impressions. Voting in the democratic primaries show these voter groups had strong support for Hillary Clinton. The big advantage raised red flags for the Obama campaign.

Our first stop was the San Diego costal suburb, of Encinitas, CA, a community known for beautiful views, surfing, and perfect weather. We gathered a group of seniors at the Encinitas Senior Center and the reactions were telling. Only one of the seniors in the group had Obama as their top choice when the political season started. Of the 5 seniors who watched the convention, one was a McCain supporter, two were Clinton supporters and one voter backed Ron Paul. After Michelle Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton gave their speeches on Monday and Tuesday, we asked the group for their reactions.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • John McCain • Raw Politics
August 29th, 2008
01:36 PM ET

Bourbon St: Population 3

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.



Ed Lavandera
CNN Correspondent

One picture I have stashed away seems to capture the enormity of Katrina. It sits in a stack of old photos from my travels across the country. It’s a picture of Bourbon St. The lights are out, except for the moonlight glimmering off the top of some French Quarter buildings. And the street is empty. I mean totally deserted, just me and two colleagues walking down one of the most famous streets in the world. I should call the picture “Bourbon St: Population 3.”

It was a late night just days after the storm hit. I remember standing there and thinking (hoping really) that this moment would never repeat itself.
FULL POST


Filed under: Ed Lavandera • Hurricane Katrina
August 29th, 2008
12:15 PM ET

My hometown: Katrina's real Ground Zero

A look back, as Anderson Cooper takes us to Waveland, Mississippi, 30 days after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina
A look back, as Anderson Cooper takes us to Waveland, Mississippi, 30 days after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina

Editor's Note: In the week after hurricane Katrina struck, Waveland, Mississippi was a wasteland. Dead bodies lay in the street for the days. Many of those who managed to survive the storm lost everything. We caught up with one family we met; the Kearney’s to see how they were recovering. The Kearney's sends us this blog:

Charles Kearney
Former resident of Waveland, Mississippi

On the eve of the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina I find myself in a myriad of emotions. Currently there are two named storms being tracked with one showing a very similar landing as Katrina.

My wife has already gathered up all of the insurance papers, important documents, precious photos, etc. and has expressed interest in Valium. (This is a woman who rarely takes an aspirin.)

The flood of memories that she has experienced while preparing for another possible storm, are a bit overwhelming. The kids, wanting to help their mom, have gathered all their most important toys and brought them upstairs.

As I drive through Waveland, Bay St Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, and New Orleans, during my travels for work, I am amazed at how much work is still yet to be done before things are a semblance of what they were. So many homes have still not been touched since the storm. Where are these people now?

FULL POST


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina
August 29th, 2008
10:49 AM ET

Alaska Gov. Palin is McCain's VP pick

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.palin.jpg] 

Sen. John McCain has chosen Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice-presidential candidate on the Republican ticket for the White House, CNN has learned. The 44-year-old Palin, now in her first term as governor, is a pioneering figure in Alaska, the first woman and the youngest person to hold the state's top political job.

Developing story...


Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics
August 29th, 2008
10:02 AM ET

3 rules to get your family ready for a Hurricane... and 2 are free

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

The Hurricane season has picked up this past week, with one storm headed for the Gulf Coast, and another on course to become the 8th named storm of the year.

General Honoré was known best for serving as commander of ‘Joint Task Force Katrina.’ He was responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas across the Gulf Coast. Now retired, he spends much of his time in the region, and works to prepare families for future natural disasters.

I caught up with the general as he was traveling from his Georgia home to New Orleans last week. Our conversation covered as much ground as the general did, and we will share with you parts of that conversation over the course of the day.

We talked about how families readiness. How people can't simply rely on the government to bail them out, as we saw in Katrina. He provides us with 3 rules that every family in a danger zone should follow, and plan for.

________
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/12/art.katrina.shelter.jpg]

You’ve taken hurricane preparedness to the next level – how can people prepare themselves?

I’m a Red Cross volunteer, so i follow that doctrine. It’s time proven, and the Red Cross is the gold standard for family readiness.

  • Rule # 1: Have a plan. If you live in a hurricane prone area, you must have a plan as to where you are going to evacuate to… and what time you should leave. If you live in Tampa and say the storm gets to Key West, say ‘we have to leave.’ Now you don’t have to leave at that point , but if you don’t, guess what, you can spend 12-15 hours sitting on the road trying to get out of the hurricane danger zone. You saw on this week with “Fay”, people leaving Key West – a lot of people were stuck in traffic 4-5-6 hours. Everybody tried to leave at the same time. If you look at most of the deaths from hurricane Rita, it came from people who were trying to evacuate Houston... not from the storm itself. So having a plan and determining when you are going to leave and where you are going.
  • Rule #2: Stay informed. We stay informed by watching TV, and watching local news, but they key to staying informed is to have a weatherproof radio. One of those radios that will wake you up in the middle of the night, if there is a tornado warning, or it alerts you that the eye of the hurricane is coming and will be of danger…
  • Rule #3: Have an emergency kit. Have a 3 day supply of food and water and have an emergency preparedness kit. If you have to leave in a hurry you grab that kit and leave. The key parts of that that kit are food water and emergency rations, important papers and documents, and maybe a fresh set of clothes for you to wear.

The first two rules don’t really cost you money; having a plan and staying informed.

What is the biggest threat we pose to ourselves?
FULL POST

August 29th, 2008
09:52 AM ET

"Can you come to the Lower 9th, I found my mother's body"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.katrina.bodies.jpg caption="Hurricane Katrina victims bring a boat to help ferry people past a dead body outside the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans 3 years ago"]

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.

Sean Callebs
CNN Correspondent

I went from living a mile above sea level, to living below sea level overnight. CNN moved our Denver Bureau to New Orleans to focus on the recovery. It’s provided a front row seat to what hopefully will be a once in a lifetime event. Rebuilding a major U.S. city. It’s the images that captured our attention as a nation. Desperate crowds at the Superdome, the Convention Center, and interstate overpasses.

But it’s the characters that I remember and it’s hard to believe it’s been three years. So much has been done, and sadly so little has been done.

One of the first locals I met was Jeff Chaz, The Bourbon Street Bluesman. He lost everything, including in his health, and his ability to find work at what he does and that is ease his fingers over the maple neck of his custom guitar.

I did a story with Jeff early in 2006 he had his sense of humor and optimism. We’d talk every few months and he slipped deeper in an abyss of emotional distress despite constantly doing what he could to find work. Last time we chatted he was depressed working as a maitre’de, his pre-Katrina life a distant memory, and every time I hung up the phone I wished there was more I could do.

Then there’s Robert Green. Robert called me early in 2006 as well, saying “can you come to the lower 9th, I found my mother’s body.”

FULL POST


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Sean Callebs
August 29th, 2008
09:10 AM ET

Gun shots in a ghost town

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.katrina.tracysabo.jpg caption="Tracy Sabo on her way to a shoot in New Orleans"]

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.

Tracy Sabo
CNN Senior Producer

"Wow! Has it already been 3 years? It seems like only a few months ago that I was jolted out of bed in the early hours by an atypically panicked and overly concerned voice which said, "Get to New Orleans immediately! We need you there!" That moment was one I will never forget. To me, it was a real plea for much-needed assistance from the "CNN team," not just the usual call I often receive saying, "news has broken and we need a team on the ground to tell it."

That memorable call also came from the late Beverly Broadman – a tremendous and amazing woman, a CNN original and an amazing National Assignment Desk Manager – who lost a long health battle earlier this year. Bev was the first to remind us all that whatever unpleasant conditions we faced in the field were nothing in comparison to the struggles of those we were sent to cover.

I immediately flew into the nearest open airport in Baton Rouge, LA, and I rented a 4-wheel drive SUV. At the time, I never imagined I wouldn't return it for three months!
FULL POST


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina
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