April 9th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 04/09/09

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Tonight on AC360°, we're following breaking news on wildfires tearing through the U.S. heartland. Hurricane-force winds are hampering efforts to fight the flames in Oklahoma and Texas. We'll bring you the latest.

And, don't miss Erica Hill's webcast on the firefight and tonight's other headlines during the commercials. Watch our WEBCAST

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")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

And take a look at our live web camera from the 360° studio. Watch the WEBCAM

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
April 9th, 2009
09:35 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Pirate Standoff

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/09/ship.hijacked/art.captain.family.photo.jpg caption="Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is being held by pirates on a lifeboat off Somalia."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Off the coast of Somalia, a lifeboat is adrift. On board are four pirates, armed with assault rifles and their hostage, Captain Richard Phillips. Also nearby is the USS Bainbridge and overhead is a Pentagon surveillance drone, feeding the U.S. Navy images of the lifeboat. Tonight we have new insight on what it's like on that 28-foot long lifeboat. It's not pretty.

"There's no toilet... or anything like that," said Capt. Joseph Murphy, the father of first officer of the Maersk Alabama which was hijacked yesterday off the Horn of Africa. The boat is covered and Murphy suspects the pirates have closed the ports. "It's probably 100 degrees in there, no air flow," Murphy added. They have about a 10 day supply of food and water.

Capt. Phillips has a radio on the lifeboat and today he contacted the U.S. Navy and the crew of the Alabama to tell them he's not hurt. His family is reporting he offered himself to the pirates in exchange for the freedom of his crew.

The crew of the Alabama is now headed for their original destination – Mombasa, Kenya, to deliver food aid. But they now reportedly have an armed security details on board.

Tonight, we'll answer the question many of you have been asking: Why isn't the crew of the Alabama armed for these types of situations? Joe Johns has the answer.

And, we'll also look at why these pirates turn to this way of life. It all comes down to money. Last year, pirates got up to $80 million in ransom money, according to the London-based think-tank Chatam House. Years ago, the pirates' lives depended on fishing. Now they're earning more money on the high-seas brandishing automatic weapons and threatening lives. Somalia, after all, is a lawless country with no central government and ties to al Qaeda.

Should the U.S. take tougher action against these pirates?
Sound off below.

Join us for this and more starting at 10pm ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
April 9th, 2009
08:56 PM ET

A Pirate's Predicament!!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/08/ship.hijacked/art.alva.maersk.jpg caption="Attackers hijacked the Maersk Alabama, shown here, formerly known as the Alva Maersk."]

Program note: Watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight at 10p EST on Anderson Cooper 360.

Randi Kaye
AC360° Correspondent

So imagine how those pirates feel right about now…

They’re rocking about in the middle of the Indian Ocean trying to figure out how to hold onto their bounty - Captain Richard Phillips - and their lives.

Their own boat is sunk. They're stuck in a 28-foot enclosed lifeboat with a disabled engine. They have limited food and no fuel. And looming nearby is the massive USS Bainbridge, a Navy destroyer that at any moment, could pounce. Two more Navy ships are on the way, a frigate with guided missiles and an amphibious ship. And FBI negotiators are there.

Sure, these four pirates - these four men holding Captain Phillips - are armed with AK-47’s, but do they have anywhere to go?

All the Captain has is a radio, which was running out of juice, so the Navy dropped in some more batteries and limited supplies.

Oh by the way, did I mention the unmanned flying drones that are hovering above the lifeboat and sending pictures back to the Navy destroyer so they can see every move that is made!

If you were those pirates, what would you do at this point?

Two more Navy ships are on the way and will arrive within the next 24 hours. The re have been unconfirmed reports that more pirates are headed to the scene to help take on the U.S. Navy but you have to wonder how that would go down.

The captain’s family, understandably, is anxious about his safety but we’re told he has not been harmed.

What do you think the U.S. needs to do to get out of this mess?

Filed under: Pirates • Randi Kaye
April 9th, 2009
06:43 PM ET

Bird’s eye view .. of celebs

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/09/art.pic.cnn.jill.jpg caption="Chris Cornell is interviewed in the AC360° newsroom in the Time Warner Center."]

Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

One of the many great things about being a producer at AC360° is our fantastic view. Our office is on the seventh floor of the Time Warner Center and is rimmed with a wall of windows. We have a gorgeous view of Central Park and the East side of Manhattan.

Another great perk is that we often interact with celebrities and newsmakers everyday. Most of the time it’s part of the job, but sometimes it’s in passing, not connected to work, like in the hallway or in the elevator and then it feels like a bit of a thrill.

Today, the two came together. There was a bit of commotion in our large newsroom when we saw cameras and lights being set up out on the balcony ledge right outside. As journalists we are a naturally curious bunch, so immediately we all started craning our necks to see who was being interviewed. Who is it? What’s going on out there? They’re interviewing a guy with a bun!


Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Jill Billante
April 9th, 2009
06:38 PM ET

Satellite image of current wildfire "hot spots"

Check out the current satellite of wildfires across Oklahoma and north Texas. (Source: NWS Forecast Office, Norman, OK)

Filed under: Wildfires
April 9th, 2009
06:15 PM ET

Pittsburgh police massacre – Plenty of warning?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/04/07/pitt.officers.shot/art.poplawski.wpxi.jpg caption="Suspect Richard Poplawski, in an undated North Catholic High yearbook photo, is in police custody."]

David Mattingly | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Robert Poplawski was 22, unemployed and living at home with his mother. His best friend said he had been booted out of Marine boot camp after an altercation with his drill instructor. But Poplawski was not your typical slacker. According to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, two organizations that track hate groups, Poplawski was busy preparing for the violent collapse of society. He was armed, ready to fight and filled with anti-Semitic and racist views.

When Pittsburgh Police officers came to his house after his mother called 911 to have him tossed out, he allegedly wielded an AK-47 assault rifle. In the shootout and standoff that followed, three officers were murdered. There’s a lot being said about the failure of a 911 dispatcher to warn the officers that there were weapons in the house. But researchers for the ADL and the SPLC say there were clues online long before that Poplawski was armed and dangerous.


Filed under: David Mattingly • Gun Violence
April 9th, 2009
05:52 PM ET

Beat 360° 4/9/09

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:

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the impact of historically low interest rates, at the White House April, 9.

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.

UPDATE: Check out our Beat 360° Winners!


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
April 9th, 2009
05:21 PM ET

Humpback whale in the Hudson?

A Humpback whale has strayed into the Upper New York Bay. Coast Guard and NYPD boats have circled the creature.

April 9th, 2009
05:14 PM ET

White House on ship hijacking

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gives details about the government's help with ship hijacking by pirates.

Filed under: Pirates
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