September 25th, 2008
04:42 PM ET

"Party" school hosts first presidential debate

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.lott.artair.jpg caption="Artair Rogers, second row, third from the right, is a junior Public Policy Major at Ole Miss."]

Editor's Note: Artair Rogers is a student intern for the William Winter Institute from Guntown, MS. He is a junior Public Policy Leadership major in the Trent Lott Leadership Institute and the Honors College. On campus, Artair is involved with the Associated Student Body, Ole Miss Ambassadors, and the Columns Society. Artair shares his thoughts on why Ole Miss is the perfect place to host Friday's first presidential debate.

Artair Rogers
Junior, University of Mississippi

With this presidential debate, we as students are more aware of the issues that are facing our country and our own demographic. Many articles present a link between racial tensions and the unique history of our university. As an African-American student, I have the utmost respect for the struggle of James Meredith; he helped pave the way for me to attend this university.

However, I believe that we should also focus on what students have been able to obtain because of James Meredith’s achievement. Because of James Meredith and other pioneers at this university, I am currently a junior in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Trent Lott Leadership Institute.

My story is becoming more common among African-American students at the university. Our entire student body has advanced. Yes, we still have problems, but again, I reiterate that there is progress. The measure of progress may be hard to define, but I feel that we have an administration and a group of student leaders who are more than ready to take our university to the next level in all aspects.

This is why we are having this debate. I feel that Ole Miss is in the middle of a breakthrough, and this debate symbolizes that.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Race in America • Raw Politics • youth vote
September 25th, 2008
04:34 PM ET

There they go again

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/23/art.obama.mccain.split.jpg]Mike Murphy
Republican Political Consultant

Though it sounds secretive and glamorous, debate prep is magnificently unpleasant for everybody involved. The candidates have gripped and grinned their way through a savage jungle of fund raisers, powerful local idiots, soggy state-fair corn dogs and rabid, preening reporters just to get to the debates, a dangerous pinnacle where one slipup could cost the election.

The campaign staffs are equally exhausted and by now more than a little frustrated with the candidate they have come to both love and hate. Put them all in a room together in what are often poorly planned prep sessions, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster: the staffers discover great catharsis in firing increasingly nasty "prep" questions at the candidates, who in turn become more and more itchy under fire until finally exploding with a gusher of recriminations at their staffs for failing to prepare them for so many impossible questions.

Good debate prep is designed to build up, not tear down, the candidate's confidence. The first trick is to practice with a stand-in who has memorized the opposing candidate's likely answers. This is far easier than it sounds.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
September 25th, 2008
04:34 PM ET

Behind the scenes at the United Nations

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.vert.un.bankimoon.jpg caption="United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York." width=292 height=320]Richard Roth | Bio
CNN Sr. United Nations Correspondent

Do you think you are a good multitasker? I wish you could try your luck at the annual UN General Assembly debate in New York.

Hundreds of world leaders cram into the aging building and talk. And talk. And shake hands. And hold press conferences. And sign treaties.

The problem? These Presidents and Prime Ministers do it all at the same time ‘round the clock. And then later complain about their message not getting out. FULL POST

Filed under: Global 360° • United Nations
September 25th, 2008
03:47 PM ET

Taser death

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.nytaservictim2.jpg caption="New Yorker Inman Morales is surrounded by New York police officers before he was tasered and then fell to his death."]Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

The police use of tasers to subdue a suspect is controversial. There have been incidents in the past where the jolt of electricity has led to death. However, police departments continue to say stun guns are an effective and safe alternative to lethal force.

But was it absolutely necessary to stun an emotionally disturbed man in New York this week? The video is disturbing, and it speaks volumes to what happened in Brooklyn yesterday. You can watch it here, but be warned the tape is extremely graphic, depicting a man’s final moments alive.

Inman Morales stands naked atop a security gate some ten feet above the sidewalk. He appears unstable, screaming at officers on the scene. Earlier, the mother of Morales reportedly called 911 because her son had become violent and threatening. After eluding police in the building and on the fire-escape, Morales stood perched on the security gate. He was holding what appeared to be a long light bulb tube.

This is what happens next: Police say a lieutenant ordered an officer standing on the sidewalk to taser Morales. After the gun is fired, Morales appears to freeze, standing still before falling head-first onto the ground. His head hits the pavement. One witness called it a death plunge. Morales died a few hours later at the hospital.

In a statement released today, the NYPD said the guidelines for the use of taser guns were violated and that the officers involved in the fatal confrontation have been placed on modified assignment and re-assigned. You can read the entire statement here.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
September 25th, 2008
02:53 PM ET

McCain suspends democracy

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/olemiss.jpg caption="Rehearsals for Friday's presidential debate between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama at the University of Mississippi."]

Katrina vanden Heuvel | Bio
AC360° Contributor
Editor, The Nation

Lincoln ran for office in 1864, when there was a good chance he wouldn't have a country to lead. FDR ran for office in the middle of the largest conflict in human history–twice. We can have a debate this Friday.

Instead, McCain is going to "suspend" the democratic process? And this from a man who prides himself on his Commander-in-Chief skills? How is calling quits amid a crisis as severe as 9/11, in human security terms, a measure of his leadership strength?

Bush and McCain, linked again at the hip, are telling this nation,which seeks confidence and hope: You have nothing to fear but the end of fear itself. McCain has bailed out from the responsibilities demanded of a presidential candidate who claims to be a leader. Bush looked like the dog in that never-to-be-forgotten National Lampoon cover with dog, gun pointed at his head. Propped up at single digit ratings delivering a speech, the worst president in our history was sent out there to scare Americans and prop up a man he smeared two election cycles ago.


September 25th, 2008
02:47 PM ET

A new day in Washington

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/mccain.bash..jpg]

Dana Bash | Bio
CNN Congressional Correspondent


As McCain walked up the stairs to his Russell office, I tried to ask him a question.  He refused and very emphatically said as he kept walking, "I mean it. You'll have to excuse me.  I'm serious...Thank you very much."

A senior aide looked at me and joked, "It’s not like the old days, Dana."

Filed under: Dana Bash • John McCain • Raw Politics
September 25th, 2008
02:23 PM ET

Another onlooker ejected

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.


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/24/art.oj.question.jpg]Paul Vercammen
CNN Senior Producer

10:54AM PT

A middle-aged man was ejected from the courtroom in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery and kidnapping trial after he took a step toward the witness stand.

Courtroom Marshals said the man in the gallery walked up and said I have a question.

While being escorted in handcuffs to the elevator, the man said "yes, I realize now I crossed the line."

He is the second person in the gallery ejected from the courtroom since the trial began.

On deck to testify is Simpson’s former manager, Mike Gilbert. Gilbert has dealt in Simpson memorabilia and his name has come up occasionally in testimony.

Simpson and Gilbert have had a falling out. Gilbert wrote the damning book, "How I Helped O.J. Get Away With Murder: The Shocking Inside Story of Violence, Loyalty, Regret and Remorse."

In the book, Gilbert alleged that a a groggy Simpson, high on marijuana, confessed to killing his ex-wife after he was acquitted. He also claims that he helped his former friend wiggle out of the murder charges by suggesting how to bloat his hands so they wouldn't fit the notorious bloody gloves.

None of this will come in at the trial, though, because Judge Jackie Glass has not be allowing testimony about Simpson’s previous criminal and civil trials at the armed robbery trial.

September 25th, 2008
02:08 PM ET

The talker and the doer

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.split.mccain.obama.open2.jpg]Editor’s Note: Leslie Sanchez is a former adviser to President Bush and CEO of Impacto Group, which specializes in market research about women and Hispanics for its corporate and nonprofit clients.

Leslie Sanchez | Bio
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist

As the dust settles on today's White House meeting, the next item on the agenda is the matter of Friday's presidential debate.

John McCain wants it postponed so that he and other Senators can focus on the proposed $700 billion bailout of U.S. financial markets. Barack Obama, who says a President has to be able to multi-task, wants to go ahead as planned.

The chattering class has decreed McCain’s actions a stunt, and foretold from their klieg-lit perch that McCain will cave. I wouldn’t be so sure.

Even history’s greatest debaters took time to prepare, and any trial lawyer will tell you that the focus required to go before a jury is profoundly intense. Even for candidates who’ve each debated on many occasions, it would be a difficult task to shift focus from something like the financial rescue to a televised debate.

From the “good-government” standpoint– McCain is probably right to concentrate his energies on legislation of such consequence. McCain’s campaign describes him as putting his personal and emotional energies fully into the complexities of the bailout. He cannot, he says, participate in the intricacies of legislative draftsmanship by telephone – and we know he doesn’t use e-mail.

Obama, aided in no small measure by the national media, will place tremendous pressure on McCain to take part in Friday's debate. Perhaps Team Obama sees a tactical advantage in taking on a tired, unfocused adversary.

From McCain’s standpoint, there will be a debate, Oxford or not. It’ll take place on the floor of the United States Senate, and will focus on probably the most significant legislation to come before Congress in a generation. It’s there, he hopes, America will see the difference between a rookie “talker” and an experienced “doer.”

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
September 25th, 2008
01:13 PM ET

It’s getting ugly in Pakistan

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.pakistan.marriott.jpg caption="Pakistani workers clean the debris from Marriott hotel following last week's suicide bomb explosion in Islamabad, Pakistan.]
Reza Sayah | BIO
CNN Islamabad Correspondent

It’s getting ugly in Pakistan.

Last week a massive suicide truck bomb killed more than 50 and destroyed the Islamabad Marriott. Extremists are getting more aggressive and sophisticated than ever. Instead of working together against militants, U.S. and Pakistani troops are firing shots and accusation at one another.

On Thursday the Pentagon said Pakistani troops opened fire on a U.S. chopper flying in Afghan airspace near the Pakistani border. The Pakistani Army said they fired at the chopper because it violated Pakistani airspace. The chopper fired back, they said. Washington and Islamabad are supposed to be partners in the fight against extremists. It doesn’t take a military genius to know partners don’t shoot at one another.

The Pentagon called the incident a misunderstanding, but what’s clear is escalating tension between Washington and Islamabad and rising anti-Americanism among average Pakistanis because of incidents like this.


Filed under: Global 360° • Pakistan • Reza Sayah
September 25th, 2008
12:58 PM ET

We need a debate now

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/23/art.debate.split.gi.jpg]Paul Begala
CNN Political Contributor
Democratic Strategist

Despite John McCain's announcement that he is suspending his campaign, chances are there will be a debate Friday night at Ole Miss. And with all the challenges and changes facing the American people, a good partisan debate may be the thing we need most.

The dirty little secret is that debates are not as difficult as some may think. The issues to be discussed are usually pretty predictable: good moderators (and Friday night's debate will be moderated by a very good one, the estimable Jim Lehrer of PBS) don't play gotcha.

Both candidates are intelligent and articulate. They can work on an economic bailout plan in Washington, then fly to Mississippi for the debate. But they'd better come ready to disagree.

The job for each candidate in the debate will be to focus on the issues where he can draw strong, clear distinctions between his ideas and values and his opponent's.

Keep reading

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
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