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August 29th, 2008
08:46 AM ET

Putin Unplugged

In an exclusive CNN interview with CNN's Matthew Chance, Russian PM Vladimir Putin claims a U.S. role in the Georgia conflict.
In an exclusive CNN interview with CNN's Matthew Chance, Russian PM Vladimir Putin claims a U.S. role in the Georgia conflict.

Matthew Chance
CNN Senior International Correspondent, Moscow

Something strange and unexpected is happening in Russia. In the aftermath of the war in across the border in Georgia, I am suddenly being granted access to the country’s leadership. Remember, this is nation where Western journalists are barely given the time of day by the Kremlin. That is until now.

The call to interview Russian president Dmitry Medvedev came on Tuesday afternoon, out of the blue (although we of course have long standing requests in for a meeting). By Wednesday morning, we were on a two hour flight from Moscow to the Black Sea city of Sochi, with an appointment to have a sit down, one-on-one, interview. We have never interviewed Medvedev since he was elected in March, so we jumped at the chance.

We were corralled into the Sochi press centre, told we had 4 hours to setup our gear, and would be granted 7 minutes of the president’s time. As I struggled to decide which questions I should ask in such a short window, Medvedev appeared on Russian state television, somberly announcing his unexpected decision to recognize as independent states the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia – obscure territories which swept to prominence earlier this month when Russian and Georgia went to war over them.

Minutes later, Medvedev was sitting in front of me, explaining why he had recognized them in the face of international, in particular American, opposition.

Ok, good days work. But there was more: the phone rang and on the end of the line was Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s press flak. The main man, Prime Minister Putin, wanted to give us an exclusive. A full length, sit down interview.

FULL POST


Filed under: Global 360° • Matthew Chance • TV • Vladimir Putin
August 29th, 2008
08:42 AM ET

Honoré on NOLA: If they get hit again, they'll find a way out this time

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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

Today, on the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans braces for the possibility of yet another hurricane, this time named Gustav, and the possibility of a direct hit.

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 the possibility of New Orleans being hit by another hurricane. The conversation seemed quite hypothetical, or at least a situation much further away... But now as Gustav threatens the Gulf Coast, our conversation takes on a whole new feeling.

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We've already had several storms make landfall this year, if a hurricane hits New Orleans again – are they prepared now?

In a way I think the government is better prepared. I know they’ve invested in more; the levees have been reinforced and reshaped. They’ve acquired some backup communications, which a big problem after Katrina. They’ve conducted training for first responders.

But it’s going to be a wait-and-see.. Because you know what? Government can do all they want to prepare, but if people don’t prepare themselves, it doesn’t mean much. If you're dealing with 200,000 to 300,000 people as was the case in New Orleans, there’s only so much government can do to prepare. It’s incumbent on the families to do their preparation part… to be prepared to evacuate when the mayor says they need to evacuate.

In New Orleans, the people are in better shape. The life experience they gained from living in the storm, they'll find a way out this time. More of them will leave if it happened again.

August 29th, 2008
08:32 AM ET

Euphoria ripped out of the Crescent City, and I should have seen it coming

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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.

John Zarrella
CNN Miami Correspondent

There was just a hint of light in the sky. The sun had not faded out completely. A thin layer of water was rolled out like a carpet on Canal Street. It was the evening of August 29th, less than twelve hours after Hurricane Katrina sideswiped New Orleans. Many of the locals who had not evacuated but could afford it, had taken up shelter in the hotels. With the storm now gone, they came out and gathered on Canal. They all had smiles. Some raised glasses. There was a collective sigh of relief. Katrina had missed.

We stood on the trolley tracks, a light breeze in the air, waiting to go live for the evening programs. I had no way of knowing how important those tracks would become a couple days later. Now, on the evening of the 29th, we were surrounded by people who believed their beloved city had been spared. New Orleans had again escaped catastrophe.

That night on Canal Street is one of those moments that is crystallized in my consciousness. With-in a few hours all this euphoria would be ripped out of the Crescent City. But it wasn't until months later that I realized, I should have seen it coming. I stood right in it. I waded through it. I had done so many stories over the years on what would happen if the levees broke yet, I had no idea what it was when it happened.

FULL POST


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • John Zarrella
August 29th, 2008
07:52 AM ET

Here we go again...

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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.

Kay Jones
AC360° Editorial Producer

Three years ago, I took off on a plane from Atlanta to New Orleans thinking I’d be gone for a few days after covering a Cat 1, maybe Cat 2 hurricane. Little did I know I would end up there for more than a month.

Now, it’s time to go back again, to look at how the city has progressed since Katrina hit 3 years ago today, but also to find out if it’s ready for Gustav, the Tropical Storm that looks to be heading towards the Gulf Coast and intensify over the next couple of days. I don’t know if the city is ready, but I sure hope so.

I know people are worried, and Mayor Nagin is cutting his trip to the DNC short so he can get back to the Crescent City and make sure plans are in place in case Gustav bears down on New Orleans. My family that lives in the city as well as the northern suburbs have already started making arrangements for their evacuations. I know there are many, though, that can’t afford the hotels that are out there. Mayor Nagin says there are shelters available. Let’s hope so.

I started thinking this afternoon about what happened when Katrina hit. There are so many stories, and I’m sure most of them will never be told. But many will be told on this blog over the next couple of days. Keep an eye out for more from those who survived the storm, not only in New Orleans, but all along the Gulf Coast.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Hurricane Katrina • Kay Jones
August 29th, 2008
07:02 AM ET

Morning Buzz: The Dems' pitch, McCain's VP and Gustav's threat

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

It was an excellent and powerful speech, no question.

Barack Obama was compelling. He gave specifics on what he would do as president. He fired back at John McCain in a way that seemed gracious and fair, but firm.

So did he make a sale... what do you think?

It's a question for all the big Democrats who spoke at the convention this week. Great oration is one thing. Connecting with voters, convincing them on a gut level that you are their candidate, is another thing.

It seems so easy when it works, so natural - and that's one reason it does work: a great salesman makes a simple, personal connection.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • The Buzz
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