October 31st, 2008
01:27 PM ET

Gary Tuchman: In second grade, I made my own costume for a school party...

Editor's Note: Happy Halloween! We asked some of our favorite CNN personalities to share with us their Halloween memories. We asked them a few 'Trick or Treat' questions.... here's what they had to say:

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360 Correspondent

Favorite Halloween costume as a kid?

In second grade, I made my own costume for a school party... I was a ghost and put two eye holes in the sheet myself. But I didn't measure the eye holes properly, so I kept bumping into walls at school.

Favorite scary movie?

Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." He is the master.

Best Halloween memory?

Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Halloween
October 31st, 2008
01:23 PM ET

The return of Tail Gunner Joe?

Paul Gronke | Bio
Professor, Reed College

It has been fifty years since "Tail Gunner" Joe McCarthy graced the American political scene, but this presidential campaign shows that guilt by association remains a popular strategy for campaigns.

The charges linking Barack Obama to Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi is only the most recent example from this campaign, but one which, as an academic, I find particularly hollow.  There is no shortage of college professors who still believe that communism is a viable political system, or that America committed genocide among Native Americans, or that American capitalism is a front for American imperialism.  Many of these professors are good scholars, good teachers, and good people, even if they may have ill-considered or repugnant political views.

Some of my best friends in the academy are also evangelical Christians, devout Catholics, and have even worked in the Bush Administration. That doesn't make me a ditto head.  And I'm just as sure that I have hoisted a few beers with some dedicated Marxists, but I don't think that makes me a fellow traveler.

Filed under: Raw Politics
October 31st, 2008
12:07 PM ET

That sound you hear is Andy Warhol rolling over in his grave

Jack Gray
AC360 Associate Producer

If I have to see or hear about Joe the Plumber on the campaign trail one more time I’m going to need to call Pete the Percocet Prescriber. Shouldn’t Joe by now be on tour with the Captain and Tennille tribute band he formed with that Orlando news anchor who likes to quote Karl Marx?

I mean, presidential politics? Come on, Joe. That’s small potatoes at this point. You have your choice of wet t-shirt contests to judge and used car dealership commercials to film. And don’t forget the cameo on CSI: Cincinnati.

Not that John McCain is the only person to use “regular” people for political gain. I hear that Barack Obama profiled some typical Americans the other night in his documentary about amber waves of grain…um, I mean his infomercial. I tried to watch it but dozed off after the tenth wheat field montage.

Then there’s Sarah Palin, who probably has the most to gain if she loses the election. Anyone who doesn’t think she has a $5 million tell-all book deal in her immediate future has been sniffing too much of Joe the Plumber’s Draino.


Filed under: Jack Gray • Raw Politics
October 31st, 2008
12:01 PM ET

Halloween Masks and Hate Politics

John P. Avlon
Author, Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics

This Halloween, you can buy Obama and McCain zombie masks showing the candidates bloodied and bruised, ghoulish and un-human – just the way their opponents like to imagine them.

In recent weeks, things have gotten ugly on the campaign trail. Desperate, angry and running out of time, partisans on the right and left have become increasingly bitter and polarized. They're trying to scare you into voting against the other guy out of fear. After all, hate is a cheap and easy recruiting tool. But it's going to make uniting the country that much more difficult for the next president.

On one side of the aisle it starts with the repeated claims on the stump that Obama is a "socialist" who "pals around with terrorists." But this stokes unhinged anger among supporters both within and without the campaign.

So Virginia GOP Chairman Jeff Frederick tried to fire up volunteers by comparing Obama to Osama bin Laden, saying "both have friends that bombed the Pentagon." The Chairwoman of Otero County Republican women's group in New Mexico, Marcia Stirman, wrote a letter to the editor of a local paper in which she called Obama "a Muslim socialist" and then clarified "I believe Muslims are our enemies."

Filed under: John P. Avlon • Raw Politics
October 31st, 2008
09:48 AM ET

Votes that won't count

Rich Phillips
CNN Senior Producer

Since the now infamous 2000 election, the media and the public have gotten to know more about how an election is run – more than anyone ever wanted to know.

We all used to think it was magic. You pulled a lever, or filled in an oval, and presto – a President was elected.

We now know it’s not mystical but is a complicated, logistical choreography that requires training, and has to be planned for by county officials who rely on paid volunteers every go round.

And one of the most important things, according to voting officials – the right to vote requires the cooperation and the personal responsibility of every John and Jane Citizen, along with all of the Joe the Plumber’s out there.

And nowhere was that more evident today than in West Palm Beach, Florida. The high speed scanners were turned on and Palm Beach County began scanning the absentee ballots that have already arrived. Of Course, state law precludes those tallies from being made public until the polls close on Election Day. We saw ballots carefully removed from their envelopes, inside privacy sleeves, and placed in piles.

Of Course, there can sometimes be issues with ballots. And when ballots have issues, that’s when the Canvassing Board comes into play and goes over each ballot, for examination.

With a Republican and a Democratic watcher looking over the shoulder of the Board, decisions have to be made about whether a ballot is legitimate and legal.

We saw a couple of dozen absentee ballot votes thrown out because voters didn’t read directions properly and did the wrong thing, which cast their votes aside.


Filed under: Raw Politics • T1
October 31st, 2008
08:44 AM ET

Pardon the witches

Watch Atika's report on the petition to posthumously pardon 'witches' executed in the U.K.
Watch Atika's report on the petition to posthumously pardon 'witches' executed in the U.K.

Atika Shubert
CNN London correspondent

I have to say, I thought it would be a lot harder to find a modern-day practicing witch in London.

But all it took was a google search, a phone call and a 5 minute walk from the office to find Christina Oakley Harrington. She is a practicing Wiccan – a believer in pagan rituals and modern witchcraft.

Her bookstore, Treadwell’s, is a warm and homey place tucked into a small street in London’s Covent Carden. There are little vials and packets of herbs, multi-colored candles, the odd 19th century mixing bowl and an engraved Celtic sword.

And tons of books. And more books. Spellbooks, Grimoires (a magician’s manual for invoking demons, should the need arise), tomes on Jewish Mysticism, the Occult, Alchemy… you name it.

My cameraman thumbs through a book of voodoo and finds a step-by-step guide to silencing that annoying guy on the bus who thinks the whole world wants to hear his phone conversation. Pins in a wax doll’s ears will do it, apparently.

It turns out Christina is a really nice witch. She happily agrees to an interview and tolerates my faltering questions about what a Wiccan does exactly.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • Halloween
October 31st, 2008
08:36 AM ET

Morning Buzz: I Can Feel Momentum

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Happy Halloween everyone!

So do you have your John McCain or Barack Obama costumes ready yet? Or did you decide to be Sarah Palin and/or Joe Biden? How about Joe the Plumber? (has this guy gotten his 15 minutes fame or What? More like 15 DAYS of fame)

We have 4 days to go. Just think, by the time you go trick or treating tonight, eat all the candy tomorrow, and get sick from all the candy on Sunday- batta bing batta boom-it will already be Monday and just the eve of Election Night U.S.A.

Barack Obama is in Iowa today- a state that went Republican 4 years ago but where Obama now has the lead. He then heads home to Chicago just in time to take his little ones to a Halloween party, and then onto Indiana, another normally Republican state that is now a toss-up.

But I’m burying the lead here (cue drum roll). Our own Wolf Blitzer interviews Obama today and we’ll have plenty of sound from him to use during AC360. (remember we featured John McCain on CNN Wed, and now it’s the other guy’s turn). Obama had some choice words about McCain yesterday: “If you want to know where Senator McCain will drive this economy, just look in the rearview mirror. Because when it comes to economic policies, John McCain has been right next to George Bush.”

John McCain is throwing a little muscle into his campaign today, literally. He holds a rally in Ohio with former Terminator, Arnold Schwarzneggar. Going to Columbus, Ohio the Friday before the presidential election to appear with the GOP candidate is a Schwarzenegger tradition, going back 20 years. It is usually one of the rare appearances he makes out of CA for the candidates.

Maybe he’ll bring McCain some luck in this must-win state. Yesterday, McCain told crowds: "I can feel momentum in this room tonight. We're going to win. We're going to win Ohio" and went on to say "I can feel it, I can feel it. My friends I can feel it." We'll find out if his feeling is right on!

Sarah Palin spends the day in Pennsylvania, and Joe Biden is back in Delaware today, but then shows up in Ohio and Indiana later. We’ll be hearing plenty from these veep prospects as well, and also entering the fray will be Al and Tipper Gore as they stump for Obama in Florida and urge early voting.

Pretty ironic that Al Gore campaigns in Florida for his Democractic candidate, think the state brings back memories for him? (All together now: say "Recount"- let’s hope there is none of that this time around!). Candy Crowley and Ed Henry will follow the candidates for you tonight, and John King can’t wait to do his tricks on the Magic Wall.

Last but not least, Randi Kaye explores thoughts/feelings in the African-American community with just 4 days to go until the nation could elect its first African-American president in history. If McCain doesn’t prove to be the Comeback Kid, that is. It's not over till it's over.

See you tonight folks! Have a spooky Halloween. Maybe we'll convince Anderson to wear his own Joe the Plumber costume while anchoring tonight. NOT.

Filed under: The Buzz
October 31st, 2008
07:56 AM ET

My daughter’s October surprise

Gabe Ramirez
CNN Los Angeles photojournalist

The big question at my house in every early October is, “So what do you guys want to be for Halloween?” When my mom asked us this question way back in the late 70s-early 80s, my answer was always a variation of one of many Star Wars characters, Storm Trooper, Darth, Ben Kenobi, Jawa. It’s funny; my 8-year old son (Ben, sans Kenobi) has also been Darth, a Storm Trooper, a Jedi. My little sister was always some kind of medieval character, princess, fairy, troll… well maybe not a troll. One year she was a dragon. My mom made this really cool paper Mache dragonhead and sewed together a dragon body. Does anybody do that anymore?

But my 4-year old daughter Sophie didn’t need to wait until early October to decide what she was going to be. One Saturday in June, as decisive as a McCain strategist, she announced, “I think Belle again, or… maybe Jasmine. I like Ariel and Sleeping Beauty too. I’ll be one of those.” I thought, Hmm, which of those costumes does she already have? Answer: all of the above. Her enablers? My wife and my mom who love to see her dressed up.

My wife and kids really enjoy going to Disneyland, and because we live in Los Angeles, less than an hour north of the Magic Kingdom, we go – often. I too enjoy the park, especially because my kids always have a great time. But Sophie is a Disney addict. If we are in the car and a radio ad mentions Disney, she instantly straightens up and asks, “What did they say? What about Disneyland?” They must put something in the Pirate Punch at the Pirates of the Caribbean because, she like so many others her age, can’t get enough of the Disney princesses. In 2007, Newsweek estimated the Disney princess franchise to be worth $4 billion. I am sure the countries current economic situation has put a dent in that, but if my daughter and her schoolmates are an indicator, Disney will continue its roll.


Filed under: 2008 Election • Gabe Ramirez • Halloween
October 31st, 2008
07:20 AM ET

Police: Husband strangled missing NY teacher

Gabe Falcon
AC360° Writer

William Walsh, Jr. is a mortgage broker. Cops say he’s a good actor too.

The Long Island, New York man sobbed to the cameras, begging for help in finding his missing wife. Walsh’s tearful pleas flooded the local TV newscasts. (Watch it here) His cries may have attracted sympathy from viewers. For the police, it only raised their suspicions.

Today, Walsh was in front of the media again. This time, he wasn’t grieving. He was silent. But the shackles and handcuffs spoke volumes about how this mystery may have ended.

Investigators say Walsh murdered Leah Walsh, strangling her in their home until her heart stopped beating. The 29-year-old husband then allegedly put her body inside her car and dumped it in a wooded area alongside an expressway.

Authorities say Walsh then tried to cover-up the crime by parking her car a few miles away from the location, and by telling friends, family and the media that Leah vanished after leaving for work Monday morning. Her body was discovered yesterday.

The husband’s story didn’t add up. For one thing, a friend of Leah’s reportedly said she sent him a text-message describing how they had a fight. Other published reports claim she said he went “berserk.”

Leah Walsh was a teacher who worked with autistic children. She was 29 years old.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
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