March 26th, 2009
09:57 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 03/26/09

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Tonight on AC360°, Anderson is reporting again from El Paso, Texas near along the border with Mexico.
He has exclusive new details on the drug war from an insider. And, there's breaking news on the the discovery of a dead U.S. Marshal in Mexico. We'll have all the angles. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the crisis. What do you think should be done to stop the violence?

Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ

Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
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And take a look at our live web camera from the 360° studio. Watch the WEBCAM

Filed under: Live Blog
March 26th, 2009
07:37 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Legalize Pot?

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Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on AC360°, Anderson will be reporting live again from the U.S.-Mexico border on the rising drug violence. For months, Mexico's cartels have been clashing with police with deadly consequences. About 7,300 people have been killed since January 2008. One of the many questions we'll tackle tonight is: Would legalizing drugs in the U.S. stop the violence?

Today, in a lighthearted moment during a White House online town hall meeting, President Obama said he received a lot of questions about the potential of legalizing marijuana and then taxing it to rake in the cash.

"This is a fairly popular question... I don't know what this says about the online audience," the president joked. He then got serious and added, "No, I don't think this is a good strategy to grow our economy."

Do you agree with the President? Share your thoughts below.

Consider these facts on marijuana from a recent government survey:

– Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States.
– Nearly 98 million Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana at least once.
– Over 14 million had used the drug in the month before the survey.

We'll have all the angles on this debate tonight. Anderson will talk with two people on different sides of the issue.

Join us for that and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
March 26th, 2009
06:35 PM ET

Why the AIG bonus story matters to America

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Program Note: Tune in to the CNN Money Summit on Friday at 11 p.m ET to hear Ryan Mack and others weigh in on the economy.

Ryan Mack
President of Optimum Capital Management

AC360° Contributor

Somewhere in Detroit, right now, there is a union worker sweating as he helps to produce cars for this country on the assembly line. He thought that his contract with the UAW was set in stone but, unfortunately, to his dismay it was renegotiated and he has just found out that his salary was cut in order to keep his job. As well, he is now overly concerned that his health care will be reduced when he retires and his retirement will not be fully funded. All around him he hears horror stories of those who retired without the promised full pension and he sees the numbers of workers around him decrease every month by the dreaded pink slip.

The market falters because of the failure of the banking system, and the government calls upon this worker for help. Bush, Paulson, Bernanke, and other members of the government explain to this worker that if the banks fail he will be negatively impacted. This same story is repeated by Obama, Geithner, Bernanke, and other government officials. This worker is a little reluctant at first but he eventually gets the bigger picture. He understands how the system works so he reaches into his pocket with his calloused hand and pulls out some of hard earned capital to give to the banks to support the system.

Soon after, on his way to work at 4:30 am, getting prepared to do a double shift, he picks up a cup-a-joe and a newspaper with a headline that grabs his attention. Headline: “AIG Gives $165 million in Bonuses!” He doesn’t really follow the news that closely but thinks to himself, “I wonder if they used my hard earned money to bail out AIG as well?”

When he gets to work, in the locker room, many of the co-workers are talking about the same story. They ask him, “Do you see that we bailed out THOSE GUYS only to help them get their million dollar bonuses!?”


Filed under: AIG • Bailout Turmoil • Economy
March 26th, 2009
06:01 PM ET

Stop flow of US guns to Mexico

Program Note: Tune in for special 360 coverage of the violence in Mexico. Anderson is reporting live Thursday and Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET.

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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Paul Helmke
Special to CNN

America's neighbor to the south is engaged in a bloody war with ruthless drug cartels.

It is a war that is threatening to bring down the government of Mexico, is spilling over into neighborhoods in the United States and is fast becoming a serious national security concern.

American gun sellers supply the cartels with 95 to 100 percent of their guns, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

While the Mexican drug war has the media and Washington abuzz, there has been little mention of our role in supplying the terrorists: We need to realize that the Mexican drug cartels are arming themselves here because our gun laws have loopholes so large that criminals and gun traffickers can easily drive gun-laden trucks through them. Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora correctly called American gun laws "absurd."


Filed under: 360º Follow • Mexico
March 26th, 2009
05:40 PM ET

Shining a light – and a smile – on America

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Dr. John White
University of Hull, England

Professor John Hope Franklin, the distinguished African-American historian who died Wednesday in Durham, North Carolina, at the grand old age of 94, will be remembered by his friends, former students and colleagues with respect, admiration and, above all, affection. A prolific scholar of Southern and African-American history, John Hope Franklin was also engaged in the struggle for civil rights and racial harmony. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., and gave advice to the NAACP in the historic Brown versus Board of Education school desegregation decision.

As a young, white, British historian with a special interest in Southern history, I first met John Hope in England over 30 years ago. I came to regard him as a mentor and friend, and found his company exhilarating. Whether discoursing on his confrontations with racism (inside and outside the historical profession), his world tours, or his beloved orchids, John Hope (as he was known to his friends) was unfailingly entertaining.

A generous and attentive host at his home in Durham, he wore his learning lightly, but gracefully. A walk around the Duke campus in his company was regularly interrupted by well-wishers anxious to demonstrate their high regard for him. In print and in conversation, John Hope would recall the ugly incidents of racial discrimination he had encountered from childhood onwards – but often with a humorous coda. One example is the encounter he had with a white woman in his club in Washington, D.C., on the evening before he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton. The "lady" in question asked him to get her coat from the cloakroom. A man in his hotel also handed him a set of car keys and told John Hope to collect his car. He later recounted: "I patiently explained to him that I was a guest in the hotel, and I had no idea where his automobile was. And, in any case, I was retired."

On one occasion, I went with him to a supermarket in Durham and when he reached the check-out desk, loaded with packages, offered to help carry them. He responded (loudly): "All right, boy!" There was much head-scratching and consternation among his fellow shoppers; I was convulsed with laughter.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Race Gender & Politics
March 26th, 2009
05:31 PM ET

Beat 360° 3/26/09

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:

Mark Bowen loosens a stack of one dollar bills on a vibrating table before they are cut into singles at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on March 26, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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
March 26th, 2009
04:34 PM ET

Military family groups compete

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Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

A public rebuke of the First Lady will get you noticed, but it's unlikely to get your calls and e-mails returned by the White House.

Military Families United (MFU), which bills itself as "the nation's premier military family policy advocacy organization," says it is feeling a cold shoulder from the Obama White House.

The leadership of MFU – formed in 2008 and claiming 60,000 member families – already was irritated at not being consulted in advance of decisions about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and photographs of flag-draped caskets arriving at Dover AFB, Del. So, when its bid to assist with Michelle Obama's March 12 visit to Fort Bragg, N.C., was rebuffed, out went this letter:

"We at Military Families United were excited at the prospect of working with your office to ensure that the voices and stories of our military families were heard by the American people and the world. However, after numerous attempts to contact your office, our phone calls have been unreturned and emails have gone unanswered. When we learned of your trip to Fort Bragg this week we reached out to your office and to Fort Bragg offering our help in coordinating meetings between you and military families, but were told that our help was unwanted and unneeded. We are the largest military family organization in the nation and we want to work with you. Unfortunately, our attempts thus far to assist you and your staff have been turned away," read the March 11 letter issued in the name of MFU president John Ellsworth.

Brian Wise, executive director of Military Families United, declines to identify who he says told him "in no uncertain terms" that "there is no need for you all to be involved," that the Fort Bragg event was being handled by the base and the White House.


Filed under: David Schechter • Military • President Barack Obama • The Buzz
March 26th, 2009
03:35 PM ET

Out on patrol with Mexican troops in Juarez

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear Anderson Cooper's full report on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

On patrol with the 55th battalion out of Mexico City, part of 5,000 new soldiers now patrolling Juarez, Mexico.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Mexico
March 26th, 2009
03:16 PM ET

Nathan Wolfe: Deep in the jungle, outwitting the next AIDS

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril examines the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Virus hunter Nathan Wolfe was featured in the 2008 Planet in Peril: Battle Lines and showed us how he intends to outwit pandemics by discovering new, deadly viruses when they first emerge.  Learn more about Nathan Wolfe's work here.


Virus hunter Nathan Wolfe has been called the "Indiana Jones of epidemiology." He's outwitting the next pandemic by staying two steps ahead: discovering new, deadly viruses when they first emerge - passing from animals to humans among poor subsistence hunters in central Africa - and stopping them before they infect millions of people.

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On Friday, the short powerful talk Nathan Wolfe delivered at this year's TED Conference (to an audience that included Bill Gates and Al Gore, among others) will be made available online. (Watch it here) In this pithy, passionate talk, he explains the issues he and his team grapple with, in their work outwitting the next AIDS.

He begins with a shot of Magic Johnson, explaining that while most of us think of AIDS as starting in the 1980s, it actually passed to humans from apes many decades earlier, and that there were likely 10,000+ cases even in the 1920s in Congo.


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