October 24th, 2008
09:17 AM ET

China underscores its eased rules for foreign reporters

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/24/art.china.reporters.jpg caption="Reporters Without Borders protests the International Olympics Committee during the 2008 Summer Olympics in China this August."]

Jaime FlorCruz

I had already called it a day last Friday night when my mobile phone beeped with a text message.

It came from the Information Department of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) inviting Beijing-based journalists to a press briefing. This one is unusual because it's nearly 11PM! What breaking news could be so urgent and important?

I was keen to know so I rushed to MOFA's briefing hall.

Fifteen minutes before midnight, MOFA spokesman Liu Jianchao walked up to the podium and announced China's new decree that eases restrictions on foreign journalists. The decree, signed by Premier Wen Jiabao, says that foreign reporters would not be required to get government permission to interview Chinese citizens or travel within China. "This is not only a big step forward for China in opening up to the outside world," Liu said, waving a printout of the regulations. "It's also a big step for further facilitating reporting by foreign journalists."

Some restrictions remain: sensitive areas such as Tibet and military installations will still be off limits without official permission.

The new rules, which took immediate effect, make permanent a set of regulations enacted in January 2007, just for the Olympics, which lifted many restrictions on foreign journalists. Those temporary rules officially expired midnight last Friday, and many journalists wondered whether the Olympic rules would be extended.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360°
October 24th, 2008
09:00 AM ET

Who cares about Asian American voters?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.asianamericans.voters.jpg.jpg caption="Truong Diep, left, speaks with Vietnamese-American women Nguyen Thanh, 72, as Diep campaigns for Sen. John McCain Wednesday, in the Little Saigon area of Westminster, CA."]Jane Junn
Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University

The McCain and Obama campaigns should.

More than a third of Asian American likely voters were undecided about their choice for the U.S. President as recently as two weeks ago, according to new data from the 2008 National Asian American Survey. A national sample of 4,394 found 41 percent support Barack Obama while 24 percent say they will vote for John McCain.

Which presidential candidate will win the largest share of undecided Asian American likely voters? Much of that will depend on mobilization efforts, which could make the difference in battleground states where a few thousand votes can tip the balance.


October 24th, 2008
08:30 AM ET

Arab women… a tale of two faces!

Octavia Nasr discusses the image of women on Arab media.
Octavia Nasr discusses the image of women on Arab media.
Octavia Nasr | Bio
CNN's Senior Editor for Arab affairs

I grew up in the tiny country of Lebanon, the daughter, grand-daughter and niece of larger-than-life female figures who fought very hard for Arab women’s rights. My mom never missed a parliamentary election because “the right to vote is the only right we have” she used to say. She was convinced that it’ll all change “soon.” Women in Lebanon could vote as early as the 50’s but they can’t, to this day, give their children the Lebanese nationality. A rule that exists in most of the Arab world, changed only recently in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.

In Saudi Arabia, women can’t even drive a car and they face tremendous pressure if they appear on TV. In many parts of the Arab world, a woman’s testimony is not accepted in court and a woman can’t travel abroad without the permission of her father, her brother or her husband. So, you might think that things didn’t change much in the last few decades; I don’t blame you if you do. The fact is that Arab women have made great strides in education, societal involvement and civic duty; but there are many things still restricting them, even pulling them back.

On one popular Arabic soap opera, two wives compete for the approval of their husband.

Filed under: Islam • Octavia Nasr • Religion • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
October 24th, 2008
08:26 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Happy Friday people. I'm channeling Pat Benator today.

Words mean a lot on the trail, and Joe Biden’s comments that Obama would be tested by the world in his first months in office live on with the GOP. They released an ad this morning using audio of his comments over images of tanks, terrorists, etc, you get the picture. The ad ends with an announcer saying “It doesn’t have to happen. Vote John McCain’. With the economy playing to Obama’s strengths, McCain is hitting the national security theme to gain ground.

Biden has defended this comment: “Barack is much better prepared to deal with an upcoming crisis whichever they may be than John is. Secondly, John, we have a crisis on our hands already. It's an economic crisis and John is nowhere." Yday, McCain used Joe the Plumber(s) to illustrate that Obama’s tax plan will hurt small business. Obama criticized McCain for favoring “tax cuts for companies that ship American jobs overseas.”

McCain spends the day in Colorado, a battleground state the GOP is trying to hold onto. Obama landed in Honolulu overnight, he is visiting his ailing grandmother and will resume campaigning Saturday in 3 states that went for Bush in 2004 but where he now leads. Michelle fills in for him today with 2 stops in Ohio so we’ll hear a lot from his wife. Obama’s camp landed another supporter yday, as Scott McClellan announced on CNN that he is endorsing Obama for President. Last spring, McClellan released a memoir criticizing President Bush.

Palin will hit Missouri today where she drops the puck at the St Louis Blues game tonight, (will she get jeers or cheers?) and Joe Biden is in VA and W.VA today. An interesting line from Biden yday: “What worries me most is the McCain campaign seems to have gotten a little loose’. What do you think he meant by that?

He didn't see it coming. That's what former Greenspan told Congress about the nation's economic crisis. But he says he did make one mistake-believing banks would have been more prudent in their lending practices because of the need to protect their stockholders. He was one of our 10 Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse. What did you make of his comments? And ps: this series will live on, even though we’ve reached the #10. We’ve got more down the pipe for you next week.

The markets are wild this morning. It’s too depressing to write about, I haven’t had enough coffee yet to bring you that news, but Ali Velshi will be right by Anderson’s side tonight reporting on what the heck is going on?!?! We are also very excited about a huge chunk of our show tonight related to Race and Politics. This election season has seen some of the most heated and controversial statements brought on by the candidates themselves. Was it a matter of race or a divided nation? Tom Foreman and Joe Johns sat down with American voters, black and white, to see what they had to say. Their findings were very insightful so make sure you tune in!

Filed under: The Buzz
October 24th, 2008
08:15 AM ET

"Thank you for your service"

Program Note: 3 out of 4 young people know someone who is currently serving or has served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Anderson helps MTV shine a light on issues facing young veterans... Check out MTV.com for how to get involved.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.keil.jpg caption="SSG. Matt Keil at his new home." width=292 height=320]
Diana Miller
AC360° Producer

Matt Keil is a 26-year-old veteran of the War in Iraq. While on his second tour of duty in Iraq, he was shot by a sniper, and paralyzed from the neck down.

I went to Parker, Colorado to meet Matt and his wife Tracy, and produce a story about their move into a brand new, fully-accessible, free home from the non-profit organization, Homes for Our Troops. I had no idea what to expect. Matt is only a year out of the hospital and has many special needs. Moreover, cameras can be intrusive, and I didn’t know what his tolerance would be for long interviews. Yet, when I met Matt, I felt ashamed for questioning his endurance or spirit. He is optimistic, has a fantastically dry sense of humor, and has confidently accepted his paralysis- or what he calls his “new normal.” Matt does not want people to feel sorry for him and he’s proud of the fact that he was injured fighting for his country. His only regret is that he wasn’t able to finish the mission.

John Gonsalves’ mission is to “volunteer for America’s greatest volunteers.” He is the president and founder of Homes for Our Troops, and has dedicated his life to building homes for disabled veterans. My crew and I stopped by Matt and Tracy’s new house the day before the dedication to see the organization’s work in action. It was something of a sprint to the finish. Though the home was complete, finishing touches were still being finalized. Outside, I met Erik Freeman who was finishing landscaping. He is a full-time volunteer for Homes for Our Troops and oversaw the entire Keil project. He’s what the group calls a “road warrior” and his RV has been parked in the Keil’s yard since April when they broke ground. Erik lost his wife earlier this year, and has made building homes for disabled veterans his soul’s mission. He has literally lived through every beam, floorboard, nail, and flagpole that went into the Keil’s home, and made sure it was all done right.


Filed under: Back from the Battle • Diana Miller
October 24th, 2008
07:30 AM ET

Palin in 2012: The argument

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/03/art.palin.gi.jpg]Marc Ambinder
The Atlantic

There's a suspicion in some McCain loyalist precincts that Gov. Sarah Palin is beginning to play the Republican base against John McCain - McCain won't let her campaign in Michigan...McCain won't let her bring up Jeremiah Wright... McCain doesn't like her terrorist pal talks....

Think ahead to 2010...2011...2012.

Palin is ambitious. Very ambitious.

And if she wants the job, she's easily the frontrunner to become THE voice of the angry Right in the Wilderness. She is a favorite of talk radio and Fox News conservatives, and speaks their language as only a true member of the club can. (Her recent Limbaugh interview was full of dog whistles that any Dittohead would recognize. Including her actual use of the word ditto.)

Palin will have plenty of time to become fluent on national issues. She will easily benefit from the low expectations threshold, and will probably even garner positive reviews from the MSM types who disparage her today.

Palin will be judged to be "ready" in four years. George Will and David Brooks and Peggy Noonan will all swoon over her once more. Ok, maybe not George Will.

Palin is an enormously talented politician. When she knows what she's talking about, or even when she knows enough to fake it, she is very, very appealing, and very good at redirecting questions to whatever her message is.


Filed under: John McCain • Marc Ambinder • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
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