January 2nd, 2009
10:38 AM ET

'Safest' seat remarks get Muslim family kicked off plane

A Muslim family was removed from an AirTran flight after a conversation about the safest place to sit.

A Muslim family was removed from an AirTran flight after a conversation about the safest place to sit.

Mike M. Ahlers

A Muslim family removed from an airliner Thursday after passengers became concerned about their conversation say AirTran officials refused to rebook them, even after FBI investigators cleared them of wrongdoing.

Atif Irfan said federal authorities removed eight members of his extended family and a friend after passengers heard them discussing the safest place to sit and misconstrued the nature of the conversation.

Irfan, a U.S. citizen and tax attorney, said he was "impressed with the professionalism" of the FBI agents who questioned him, but said he felt mistreated when the airline refused to book the family for a later flight.


January 2nd, 2009
10:05 AM ET

Escaping the Ghaza Ghetto

Palestinians hold a candlelight vigil Thursday night in east Jerusalem for their brethren in Gaza.

Palestinians hold a candlelight vigil Thursday night in east Jerusalem for their brethren in Gaza.

Kevin Clarke
The Chicago Tribune

It's hard to watch the mayhem in Gaza, watch the bloodied faces of children and anguished parents, hard even to watch the death mask of even the most ardent, Israel-hating member of Hamas as he is carted off to his grave, easier to turn it off, and not think about this complex, seemingly intractable mess that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unfortunately that has essentially been the attitude of the current administration in Washington over the last eight years. Surely its hands-off policy has contributed to the slaughter being unleashed over the last several days in what is already one of the most wretched places on Earth. Surely the willful ignorance of the U.S. public to America's role (or lack thereof) in the Middle East must share some of the blame.


Filed under: Israel • Palestine
January 2nd, 2009
09:50 AM ET

Thank you, Gov. Blagojevich

Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Roland Burris as his pick for Illinois' open Senate seat on Tuesday.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Roland Burris as his pick for Illinois' open Senate seat on Tuesday.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is growing on me. You see, I like chutzpah and I don't mind chaos.

Blagojevich has an abundance of the former, and a knack for producing more than his share of the latter.

It was with remarkable chutzpah that the man soon to be referred to as "the defendant in the above-named action" threw the world of politics into chaos this week by asserting a couple of principles that his critics find terribly inconvenient.

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Filed under: Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich
January 2nd, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Lady Tamil Tiger gives pop culture a bang

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called on the Tamil Tigers to stop fighting.

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called on the Tamil Tigers to stop fighting.

Editor's Note: After the article" Lady Tamil Tiger gives pop culture a bang," was linked on this site, the artist M.I.A chose to write a rebuttal. Here are her comments:

The article “Lady Tamil Tiger gives pop culture a bang,” originally published in The Charleston Mercury News, and linked to on the AC360 blog makes incorrect and misleading statements about me.

To set the record straight, I would like to clarify a few points. First, “Paper Planes” is a song about immigration. In fact, the song has been universally acknowledged by music critics to be about immigration. Any suggestion otherwise is false. Read these articles in the Seattle Times and Entertainment Weekly to learn more:

'First a top hit, now Grammy nod: M.I.A. firmly pop'

'M.I.A., 'Paper Planes,' and coasting to fame on 'Pineapple Express"

Second, I have said on numerous occasions that I do not support terrorist organizations, including the Tamil Tigers.
'M.I.A. Responds to Pro-Terrorism Accusations'

Third, my father had no influence on my political beliefs and to imply otherwise is wrong and irresponsible. In a 2005 interview with the Guardian newspaper I explain how I was raised as though my father was “dead” and that he had no influence of my development.

Fourth, my father was never a member of the Tamil Tigers. Rather, he retired from politics in the 1990’s after he was unable to broker a peace agreement between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. He currently heads the Britain based Global Sustainability Initiative that addresses issues of globalization.



Will Cathcart
The Charleston Mercury

At present, Israel’s reattempt to “86” Hamas has not been at a loss for coverage. Before that all, eyes were on Pakistan - in the wake of Mumbai. Yet not 20 miles off the tip of southern India, a situation is unfolding in Sri Lanka that will have international repercussions of its own. Sri Lankan government forces are about to wipe out the Tamil Tigers — the guys and gals who invented the suicide vest or “shaheed belt.”

Lady Tiger Thenmuli Rajaratnam first tried it out on Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi in 1991. Bowing down, she touched his feet and ignited 700gs of Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine. 16 lives were taken with his. It wasn’t long before the Palestinians caught on.

Since 1983, Sri Lanka’s civil war has pit the ethnic Sinhalese majority against the Tamil minority. Government-sanctioned discriminatory policies towards the Tamil people, who are often treated as second-class citizens, drove certain groups, namely the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (a.k.a. the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers), to seek to establish a separate state in the north of the island. Initially a freedom-fighting movement — LTTE, under the guidance of their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran — has become a terrorist organization that recruits suicide bombers (including more than 200 females) and child soldiers.


Filed under: Global 360°
January 2nd, 2009
09:40 AM ET

Weaknesses found in steel high-rises

Jia-Rui Chong
The Los Angeles Times

Modern steel buildings have long been considered among the most sturdy in the event of a major earthquake. But a model of a massive quake in Southern California has sparked debate among scientists and engineers over whether these structures are more vulnerable than previously thought.

The Great Southern California ShakeOut, the nation's largest quake drill, suggested that about five high-rise steel buildings in the region would collapse in the modeled magnitude 7.8 quake.

High-rise steel buildings sustained less damage than unreinforced brick buildings and older concrete buildings in the analysis. But the damage they sustained was greater than expected based on the standard building design formulas.


Filed under: 360° Radar
January 2nd, 2009
08:47 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Ground Offensive?

Palestinian firefighters pour water Thursday on the rubble of the home of Hamas commander Nizar Rayan.

Palestinian firefighters pour water Thursday on the rubble of the home of Hamas commander Nizar Rayan.

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Israel appears poised for a ground offensive as tanks and troops line the border. Israelis opened the border briefly to allow foreign nationals to leave, but are not allowing journalists to enter Gaza. Israeli TV is reporting that hospitals near the border have also been evacuated, perhaps to make way for mass casualties.

It could be the Israeli military believes it’s hard to snuff out Hamas weaponry by aerial attacks alone, though of course the risk for the Israeli military in any ground offensive would be soldier casualties as they are sure to encounter booby traps awaiting their troops if/when they did cross the border.

As rockets continue to fly into southern Israel from Gaza, and Israel continues its 7th day of air strikes against Hamas targets, protests to end the siege are planned by Palestinian groups across the USA and other parts of the world. Nic Robertson and other CNN correspondents n the region will offer the latest tonight.

P-E Obama bids Hawaii “aloha", ending his family vacation and making his way over to D.C via Chicago. The family should be at the nation’s capital by Sunday so that the young daughters can start school on Monday. They will stay at the Hay-Adams hotel in the interim before the move to the White House.

The hotel has a colorful past, it is said to be haunted by Henry Adams beloved wife “Clover” who committed suicide in 1885. Apparently she only makes appearances in December though, so the Obama family is probably thinking "phew".

There are reports that Obama plans to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday to discuss his economic stimulus plan, we may get more details on this plan today.

You may be surprised by the different clientele showing up these days at pawn shops across the country and the transactions taking place, Gary Tuchman has this story tonight.

Alaska turns 50 yrs old today, Gov. Sarah Palin will be among the officials addressing the crowd gathering to celebrate. Maybe she’ll sing Happy Birthday to her home state. See u later!

Filed under: Penny Manis • The Buzz
January 2nd, 2009
08:38 AM ET

How to add years to your life

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

“No one wants to live forever, but no one wants to die tomorrow either.”

That’s what a longevity researcher told me when I was writing a book about the subject. Of course, that phrase presents a certain problem. How long do you want to live and why?

Most people will naturally couch their answer to that question with “well, it depends…what kind of shape my mind and body is in as I get older?” Fair enough. Most of us want to live long and functional lives. And, short of going to stem cell clinics in Moscow (which I visited) or studying suspended animation in Seattle, there are some simple things we can do that can pretty reliably add years to our lives. Up to 10 years.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Health Care
January 2nd, 2009
08:33 AM ET

Shop or else

Ben Stein tells Anderson Cooper that if you can afford it, now is the time to shop.

Filed under: Economy • Finance
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