September 17th, 2008
01:52 PM ET

The Way We Weren’t

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Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

I loathe namedroppers. In fact, I was saying that just last night to Barbra Streisand at the Barack Obama fundraiser in Beverly Hills. Tickets were $28,500 apiece so I only bought two. I mean, I couldn’t deprive my mother of the opportunity to see James Brolin in person.

OK, fine, I wasn’t there. Maybe my mother was, I don’t know - she does love those Maaco ads - but I was here in New York.

Truthfully, I was bummed I couldn’t attend. It would have been quite the journalistic coup had I been able to get pictures of Jamie Lee Curtis hand-feeding Obama arugula salad, or whatever it is that the McCain campaign wants people to believe was going on.

But, alas, the Obama campaign, those stinkers, barred television coverage. How dare they deprive us of seeing Leonardo DiCaprio and Kathleen Sebelius gazing soulfully into each other’s eyes as Babs serenaded the crowd with the sounds of Yentl. Yes, it must have been a magical night. And a bargain at only $9 million.


Filed under: Jack Gray
September 17th, 2008
12:47 PM ET

O.J. Trial: Ground Control to Witness Tom

Editor’s Note:
O.J. Simpson is on trial for robbery and kidnapping charges nearly a year after police arrested him in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prosecutors say Simpson and five other men stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room last September 13 to recover sports memorabilia that Simpson said belonged to him. They say at least two men with Simpson had guns as they robbed two sports memorabilia dealers. The following dispatches come from our Paul Vercammen covering the trial.

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Paul Vercammen
CNN Senior Producer

When he last testified in the Simpson preliminary hearing, he leaned back in his witness chair, salt and pepper hair messed up, and tie loosened.

He kept swearing, saying "S+@#" instead of "stuff."

Was this the survivor of a raucous bachelor party or an important witness?
He is the ringmaster Thomas Riccio. Speed talker.. Colectibles or "S#+@*" dealer. Owns an Auction House.

He's the guy in the Yankee shirt leading Simpson and five other men through the Palace Station Hotel where the sports memorabilia showdown took place.

Some witnesses will tell you he's "S#@+*" and say there would never have been six arrests if @*#* Riccio didn"t set up this meeting for O.J. to get his stuff back.

Riccio allegedly audio recorded the confrontation between Simpson plus five cohorts and two memorabilia dealers.

This morning's trial testimony continues with an FBI techno expert's video testimony about whether the purported Riccio recorder could have been tampered with.

It's a low energy preamble to when Riccio actually takes the stand, possibly later today.

He talks like a teenager texts.... With Riccio it's all fast bursts....

"Ask about the book...."

He says to me when I interviewed him last fall outside court.

"....the book... when is he going to talk about the book.."

Riccio wrote a book called "Busted" the story of Sports memorabilia, Simpson and the Vegas arrests.
"#@+*" you should read it, he'd urge everyone. .

Filed under: O.J. Simpson Trial
September 17th, 2008
11:32 AM ET

Making gravity work for you

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta tries out a vertical treadmill used by NASA in research to cut astronaut's risk of bone loss
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta tries out a vertical treadmill used by NASA in research to cut astronaut's risk of bone loss

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

This week, I did a series of pieces about how astronauts stay fit in space. Sure, it was fascinating to be strapped into a system of pulleys and harnesses that effectively simulate weightlessness. It was interesting to be pulled up to a vertical treadmill or eZLS – the enhanced zero gravity locomotion system. And, yes, I got to be an astronaut for a day, experiencing firsthand what it may feel like to exercise in space. (watch video)
I learned that exercise in space, especially for those long missions, is essential for astronauts, not something you might do occasionally. It has to be comfortable to do and it cannot interfere with the function of the spacecraft. (read more)  More than that, though, I learned how beneficial gravity is for us on Earth. Doctors call it axial load. You can think of it as a slight tension on our bodies, more importantly our ligaments, tendons and bones. Turns out, this slight pulling of gravity slows down the loss of bone mass, which in space accelerates 10 times faster than a post-menopausal woman.


Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Medical News
September 17th, 2008
11:31 AM ET

Shark population threatened near Costa Rica

Lisa Ling
AC360° Special Correspondent

Shark Finning

Planet in Peril: Battle Lines special correspondent Lisa Ling travels to Cocos Islands, located about 330 miles off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, to investigate the threat to the shark population brought on by the demand for shark fin soup.

Filed under: Lisa Ling • Planet in Peril • T1
September 17th, 2008
11:25 AM ET

China: Third baby dies from tainted formula

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The scope of China's contaminated baby formula case grew Wednesday as officials reported the death of a third infant and a spike in those made ill by it.

At the same time, China's largest producer of milk, Mengniu Dairy Group, announced the recall of three batches of formula made in January. Testing showed they were contaminated.

More than 6,200 babies have been sickened by the tainted milk powder, said Li Changjiang, China's director of quarantine and inspection, up from about 1,200 on Tuesday.

More than 1,300 infants are hospitalized. The illnesses include malnutrition, kidney stones and acute renal failure.

Originally Chinese officials said all of the tainted formula had remained in China, other than a small amount that was exported to Taiwan. But Li said Wednesday that the powder has also been shipped to five other nations, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Yemen, Chad and Burundi.

Recalls of the products by the Yashili and Suokang companies have been made, according to Li.

Of China's 175 baby milk powder production companies, 66 have already stopped production, Li said. Investigators are testing samples at the rest.


Filed under: Global 360°
September 17th, 2008
11:23 AM ET

Al Qaeda blamed for U.S. Embassy attack

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Suspected Al Qaeda disguised as security forces launched an explosive assault on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, Wednesday killing 10 Yemeni police and civilians, officials said.

The attack involved two car bombs, a spokesman for Yemen's embassy in Washington said. Six attackers, including a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest, were also killed in the attack, Mohammed al-Basha said.

There were at least four explosions - including at least one car bomb - and sniper fire, a senior State Department official said.

Yemeni officials said the first car contained people in police uniforms who exchanged fire with Yemeni security forces, the officials said.

The second car exploded after it passed an outermost gate to the Embassy but before it reached a second protective barrier, the officials said.

But al-Basha said there were two cars packed with explosives involved in the attack.

The heavily fortified compound in the capital of Yemen - the ancestral home of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden - has previously been targeted in attacks.


Filed under: Global 360°
September 17th, 2008
08:35 AM ET

Mr. Gettridge says hello

Kay Jones
AC360° Editorial Producer

A few weeks ago, I blogged about stopping by Mr. Herbert Gettridge’s house to check on him after Hurricane Gustav passed through New Orleans. Well, I finally got through to him today, and he said he made it through with little to no damage. He had evacuated to Baton Rouge and said he should’ve stayed home since it was worse up there.

In the years since Katrina, he’s been able to have his wife move home, as well as having children and grandchildren come and stay in their home. He told me that he’s finally getting neighbors again and he looks forward to having more.

He also wanted to let you all know that he appreciates your prayers and thoughts of concern. He is New Orleans, and plans to be there for a long time to come.

Back in January, we talked to New Orleans resident Herbert Gettridge about the struggle to rebuild a city.

Filed under: Hurricane Ike • Kay Jones
September 17th, 2008
08:35 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Tough politicking

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

G’morning folks,
We are waking up to financial developments and keeping a close eye on markets again today. Last night we reported that AIG, the nation’s largest insurance company on shaky ground, is getting a fed bailout because the alternative would be…? Well, eek let’s not go there. But what will today bring?

The candidates’ politicking has been heavily influenced by news from Wall Street, both Barack Obama and John Mccain seizing on the opportunity to pound each other’s economic plans. John Mccain and Sarah Palin (can we call them ‘MccPalin’- has a ring to it, don’t you think?) on the trail in Ohio together yday, w/Palin claiming Obama’s tax plans would kill jobs and make even today’s bad economy look like the good old days. Obama jumped on opportunity to show Mccain as out of touch, hitting Mccain’s call for a commission to investigate what went wrong on Wall St saying ‘This isn’t 9/11. We know how we got into this mess. Now we need leadership that gets us out.” And both candidates are after that working class vote, where this election will be decided.


Filed under: The Buzz
September 17th, 2008
08:15 AM ET

OJ Afternoon: Sextet, Lies and Videotape

Editor’s Note:
O.J. Simpson is on trial for robbery and kidnapping charges nearly a year after police arrested him in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prosecutors say Simpson and five other men stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room last September 13 to recover sports memorabilia that Simpson said belonged to him. They say at least two men with Simpson had guns as they robbed two sports memorabilia dealers. The following dispatches come from our Paul Vercammen covering the trial.

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Paul Vercammen
CNN Senior Producer

5:52PM PT

Two different video surveillance experts took the afternoon witness stand in the O.J. Simpson trial.

The prosecution led the video security experts down a video path of showing where Simpson and five cohorts ventured the day of the fateful showdown over sports memorabilia at the Palace Station Casino.

The question hanging out there is who is telling the truth about the Simpson six and what was their intent.

The jurors watched monitors and took notes in what could be called the calm after the storm.

Tuesday afternoon's techy testimony was far different from the morning mania - when Judge Jackie Glass repeatedly raised her voice and tried to rein in lawyers.

The jurors also listened to afternoon testimony from an FBI electronics nerd about a tape recorder germane to the case.


September 17th, 2008
08:05 AM ET

They must die...Mickey Mouse too!

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/16/art.nasr.mbc.jpg caption="Scenes from the popular and controversial Turkish soap opera, "Nour.""]Octavia Nasr | BIO
CNN senior editor for Arab affairs

A bed scene from the popular Turkish soap opera "Nour" shows a man and woman flirting and cajoling. The soap opera, dubbed into Arabic, has developed quite a following in the traditionally conservative Arabic culture. More surprising than the scene itself is the satellite channel that broadcasts it. None other than MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Center), the Saudi-owned premier entertainment satellite channel.

Such scenes brought a call for the death sentence from Saudi Arabia's top cleric. In a recorded message aired on radio and television last week, Sheikh Saleh el-Lheidan said, "I advise the owners of the shameless satellite stations who distribute programs promoting impudence, insolence and silly humor. I warn them, they're wasting people's time and corrupting them. If they don't heed our call, their killing could be permissible."

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan soap operas are on every satellite channel keeping the fasting masses entertained. Local productions tackling social issues, including love and lust, depend on makeup, costumes, and dramatic voices to convey the message, instead of actual love scenes or any hint of them.


Filed under: Global 360° • Octavia Nasr
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