December 29th, 2008
10:00 PM ET

Live blog from the anchor desk 12/29/08

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Happy Monday! There's a lot to talk about tonight and we want to hear from you. Join the conversation below.

Just follow our rules. Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book)
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (we don't like screaming)
3) Use your real name

Filed under: Live Blog
December 29th, 2008
08:31 PM ET

Evening buzz: Mideast violence, cruise ship mystery, and Holocaust memoir hoax

Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

Hope your holidays have been peaceful and happy.

Tonight there’s breaking news out of Gaza and Israel, where the last few days have been anything but peaceful. Over the weekend Israel launched the biggest offensive against Gaza in 40 years. Israel says the target is Hamas, which recently ratcheted up its rocket attacks into Israel. Since the fighting began Saturday, more than 350 Palestinians have been killed, including 60 civilians, according to the United Nations; four Israeli civilians have died. Israel has called up 6,500 reservists, a pretty clear sign that the end is nowhere in sight. Add this to Obama’s plate of crises to deal with. Nic Robertson will have the latest from the Mideast.

We’re also looking into riveting new details in the story of a missing cruise ship passenger. The U.S. Coast Guard today called off the search for Florida freelance writer Jennifer Seitz, after combing more than 4,200 square miles off the coast of Cancun. Authorities say the ship’s surveillance camera showed someone falling overboard on Christmas night; at least seven hours later, Seitz’s husband reported his wife missing. Now the FBI is trying to determine if a crime occurred. Meantime, Seitz’s family issued a statement today indicating they believe Seitz may have committed suicide.

Note to book publishers: For your own sake and for the integrity of the entire non-fiction genre, please dig deeper before paying out book advances to aspiring memoirists. It’s happened again. Oprah Winfrey and many others, including CBS and Lifetime, have been duped. A Holocaust memoir that was due in bookstores in February has turned out to be a big fake. What was once billed as one of the greatest love stories ever told – wasn’t so great after all. But why would a Holocaust survivor lie about what happened to him? Randi Kaye goes up close tonight.

Hard to believe there are two days left in 2008. Are you making any resolutions? What are your biggest hopes – and fears – for 2009? What will you most remember about 2008? We’d like to hear from you.

See you at 10 p.m. eastern…

Filed under: Cate Vojdik • The Buzz
December 29th, 2008
06:29 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/29/08

Ready for today's Beat 360°?

Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too.

Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite!

Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

President-elect Barack Obama points out different flavors of shaved ice at Kokonuts Shave Ice and Snacks at Koko Head Marina shopping mall on December 26, 2008 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions!

Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.


Beat 360° Challenge

But wait!… There’s more!

When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 29th, 2008
06:05 PM ET

The preceding holiday was brought to you by Ibuprofen

Jack Gray
AC360 Associate Producer

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. So it’s time to put away the empty pitcher of Mimosa and that Charles in Charge DVD set you didn’t ask for and get back to work.

President-elect Obama is reportedly having a tough time adjusting to the insular nature of the presidential “bubble.” Indeed, once he's inaugurated it's only going to get worse. He'll be cut off completely from his old routine and isolated in his limousine, jumbo jet, helicopter and mansion.  Brutal.

Caroline Kennedy has yet to secure her appointment to the United States Senate. Which is surprising. I thought she was a lock once she put that “Schenectady is for Lovers” bumper sticker on her Volvo.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden has settled on a name for his new German Shepherd puppy. The Bidens are going to call the dog “Champ.” I think you’ll agree that it’s a great name for a dog. It rolls right off the tongue: “Come here Champ,” “roll over Champ,” “let go of my hair plugs Champ.”


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Jack Gray • New Year's Eve 2008
December 29th, 2008
06:00 PM ET

Fake Holocaust memoir

Program Note: Be sure to watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.

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Randi Kaye | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Something didn’t seem right to some Jewish scholars when they first heard about Herman and Roma Rosenblat’s love story.

It was first made public over a decade ago. Here’s how it went: Herman was in a concentration camp in Germany during the holocaust. Roma would come every day to toss him apples over the fence to help him survive. Then, about 15 years later, they’re set up on a blind date in New York City. They realize they have a history, chalk it up to fate, and get married. They just celebrated 50 years in June.

Their story has been on Oprah, a children’s book has been written about it, a movie is in the works, and a book was due to come out in February.

Until….. Herman Rosenblat came clean and told his agent and Penguin’s Berkley Books that the story wasn’t true.


Filed under: Randi Kaye
December 29th, 2008
05:31 PM ET

Palestinians need Israel to win

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/meast/12/28/gaza.israel.international.reaction/art.gaza.wounded.afp.gi.jpg caption="A wounded man is lifted onto a stretcher after arriving at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Sunday."]

Michael B. Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi
The Wall Street Journal

A quarter century has passed since Israel last claimed to go to war in the name of peace.

"Operation Peace for Galilee" - Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon - failed to convince the international public and even many Israelis that its goal was to promote reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world. In fact, the war had precisely the opposite results, preparing the way for Yasser Arafat's disastrous return to the West Bank and Gaza, and for Hezbollah's ultimate domination of Lebanon. And yet, Israel's current operation in Gaza is essential for creating the conditions that could eventually lead to a two-state solution.

Over the past two decades, a majority of Israelis have shifted from adamant opposition to Palestinian statehood to acknowledging the need for such a state. This transformation represented a historic victory for the Israeli left, which has long advocated Palestinian self-determination. The left's victory, though, remained largely theoretical: The right won the practical argument that no amount of concessions would grant international legitimacy to Israel's right to defend itself.


Filed under: Hezbollah • Israel • Palestine
December 29th, 2008
02:55 PM ET

AC360° gets ready to ring in the New Year

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Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

It’s that time of year again, and some of us have been furiously working over the past couple of months on the New Year’s Eve show.. As I’m sure you’ve read in Jack Gray’s posts, this year we are bringing back our favorite red head to help co-host. Also, the show is back to being 2 hours, airing from 11pm until 1am East Coast time, with a replay for those of you on the West Coast who want to toast in the New Year with Anderson and Kathy.

We’ll have reporters all over the world contribute, as well as our own Erica Hill and Richard Quest in Times Square, Gary Tuchman on the Central Park run, and Brooke Anderson coming to us from Club CNN at Lavo in the Palazzo in Las Vegas. I’m still in the process of finalizing our musical acts, but here’s a hint. One of them will take us all on a “Fantastic Voyage”. More to come, but as in years past, I promise to try and bring in a little something for everyone.

We also want to know about your plans. What do you do that is unique on the New Year? Do you have great photos or videos? Be sure to go to the IReport section of CNN.com on New Year’s Eve and upload your favorite moments. You may see Anderson and Kathy talk about your submission during the show. Points for snarky remarks from our hosts.

2008 has been such an up and down year. We’ve had a historic election, a recession and many other things happen in between. It’s time to look forward, and hope that 2009 brings better times for all of us.

See you on 360 tonight, and be sure to set a reminder for 11pm ET/PT on CNN for New Year’s Eve, with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin

Filed under: Kay Jones • New Year's Eve 2008
December 29th, 2008
02:50 PM ET

Israel lands on Obama's front burner

Program Note: Be sure to tune in tomorrow night to watch Ben Smith of Politico.com talk about how the incoming Obama administration will have to handle the situation in Gaza. That's Tuesday night, Dec. 30, on AC360° at 10 pm ET.

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Ben Smith and Harry Siegel

Israel’s continuing attacks on Gaza serve as a reminder that President-elect Barack Obama and his nominee to be secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will not get to choose the world they inherit Jan. 20.

The incoming administration had planned to focus on the economic crisis and recalibrating U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan in its early months — but the Israeli assault on Hamas may have instantly changed that calculus.

"For all the talk of putting the [Middle East] conflict on the back burner, it's going force itself onto the front burner," said Daniel Levy, a fellow at the New America Institute. Levy said that if the conflict in Gaza is still ongoing when Obama takes office, he will face regional and international pressure to broker a settlement.

"It could involve the administration very early,” Levy said.


Filed under: Global 360° • Israel • Raw Politics
December 29th, 2008
01:43 PM ET

False Holocaust memoir canceled

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Motoko Rich and Joseph Berger
The New York Times

A man whose memoir about his experience during the Holocaust was to have been published in February has admitted that his story was embellished, and on Saturday evening his publisher canceled the release of the book.

And once again a New York publisher and Oprah Winfrey were among those fooled by a too-good-to-be-true story.

This time, it was the tale of Herman Rosenblat, who said he first met his wife while he was a child imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp and she, disguised as a Christian farm girl, tossed apples over the camp’s fence to him. He said they met again on a blind date 12 years after the end of war in Coney Island and married. The couple celebrated their 50th anniversary this year.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Oprah Winfrey
December 29th, 2008
01:33 PM ET

Provoking Russia

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Muammar Gaddafi
The Boston Globe

Once again, the West's policy toward Russia and its addiction to interfering in the affairs of other countries is having dangerous effects on the rest of the world. The seeds for the current danger were sown by NATO's expansion to Russia's borders after the fall of the Soviet Union. That deliberate, provocative, and continuing process echoes in Russia's long memory the painful experience of the Napoleonic and German armies storming across Europe into their motherland, hell-bent on conquest.

NATO's expansion was not merely an attempt to secure Russia's vast resources – the sole objective of those earlier adventures. Its other aim was to fill the political vacuum left by the dismantlement of the Soviet Union. It was "independence mania" being driven down the throats of the former Soviet republics. However, Russia perceives its encirclement – from Central Asia to the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea – to be a threat, the effects of which are now playing out on the regional stage, including the recent hostilities in Georgia.


Filed under: Global 360° • Vladimir Putin
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