April 14th, 2009
05:44 PM ET

Beat 360° 4/14/09

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 walks his new Portuguese water dog Bo on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. The six-month-old puppy is a gift from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) who owns several Portuguese water dogs himself. (Credits 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
April 14th, 2009
05:26 PM ET

Police: Child found in submerged luggage may have been raped


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/04/14/california.slain.girl/art.huckaby.mugshot.tpd.jpg caption="Melissa Huckaby faces charges of kidnapping and murder in the death of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. "]

A Sunday school teacher accused of killing a Tracy, California girl may also have raped the 8-year-old, authorities say.

Melissa Huckaby, expected to be arraigned Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET in the death of Sandra Cantu, will face additional charges, including rape, police told CNN.

"When she was booked, she was booked on charges of kidnapping and murder," Tracy Police Sgt. Tony Sheneman said on "Larry King Live" on Monday night. "And we're informed by the district attorney that she'll be charged with abduction, murder, rape with a foreign object and lewd and lascivious acts with a child."


For more details from the Tracy Police Department, click here.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment
April 14th, 2009
04:45 PM ET

The Economy: Better, or just less worse?

Program Note: Tune in to hear more from Ali Velshi tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/14/obama.economy/art.obama.econ.cnn.jpg]

Ali Velshi
CNN Chief Business Correspondent

President Obama delivered a speech in which he outlined what the government is doing – and has done – to get out of this recession, which is now (I think) in its 17th month. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke said today that there are "tentative signs" that the economy's slide is slowing, but that a full recovery won't come until the financial sector stabilizes.

Markets are having a rough day, largely because of some economic indicators that show things aren’t all that rosy. Retail Sales for March, as measured by the government, were weaker than expected, after seeing what seemed to be an uptrend. And inflation continues to be lower, as consumer demand fails to pick up.

So where do we stand right now?

Banks are starting to show signs of life, but it may have something to do with the fact that they got low interest money from the government and got to loan it out at higher interest. TARP only has about $135 BILLION left (of $700 BILLION) and there’s no appetite on Capitol Hill to be giving Wall Street more money. BUT, a number of banks (Wells Fargo, Goldman) are talking about giving back their TARP money – this could end up adding $50-$100 BILLION to TARP. Still, we don’t know how this Treasury ‘Bank Plan’ is going to work.


Filed under: Ali Velshi • Economy
April 14th, 2009
04:42 PM ET

World's greatest hostage rescues

Program note: Tune in tonight to watch Tom Foreman's special report on AC 360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/12/somalia.pirates.ordeal/art.phillips.navy.jpg caption="Capt. Richard Phillips, right, stands with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Frank Castellano after Phillips' rescue Sunday."]

The Daily Beast

The Navy SEALS are the heroes of the hour after rescuing Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. But the operation was just the latest in a storied history of hostage rescues carried out by elite special forces around the globe. THE DAILY BEAST brings you six of the most daring commando missions of all time.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Pirates
April 14th, 2009
04:40 PM ET

Number of Blacks in prison for drug offenses declines

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/02/craig-cuffs-release.jpg]
Darryl Fears
The Washington Post

For the first time since crack cocaine sparked a war on drugs 20 years ago, the number of black Americans in state prisons for drug offenses has fallen sharply, while the number of white prisoners convicted for drug crimes has increased, according to a report released today.

The D.C.-based Sentencing Project reported that the number of black inmates in state prisons for drug offenses had fallen from 145,000 in 1999 to 113,500 in 2005, a 21.6 percent decline. Over the same period, the number of white drug offenders rose steadily, from 50,700 to more than 72,300, a 42.6 percent increase. The number of Latino drug offenders was virtually unchanged at about 51,000.

The findings represent a significant shift in the racial makeup of those incarcerated for drugs and could signal a gradual change in the demographics of the nation's prison population 2 million, which has been disproportionately black for decades. Drug offenders make up about a quarter of the overall prison population.

The Sentencing Project report and other experts said the numbers could reflect two factors: an increased reliance by prosecutors and judges on prison alternatives such as drug courts, and a shift in police focus to methamphetamines, which are used and distributed mostly by white Americans. In addition, the report said, crack cocaine use has declined steadily since the 1990s, and so have police arrests.


April 14th, 2009
04:21 PM ET

Tonight: Text 360°

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/08/art.text360.jpg]

Tonight Randi Kaye reports from Springfield, Massachusetts where she's interviewing a mother who says her 11-year-old son committed suicide because he was bullied at school.

Carl Joseph Walker Hoover was a sixth grader. He was a good student, went to church every Sunday with his mom and was in the Boy Scouts. But his mother says the bullying was relentless. Last week, while shewas cooking dinner at home, Carl went upstairs to his bedroom and hanged himself with an electrical cord. His mother found him and had to cut him down. All she could do she says was scream.

Do you have any questions about bullying? Text us your questions and we'll answer them during the program.

Text AC and your name, location and question to 94553!

Filed under: T1 • Text 360
April 14th, 2009
04:06 PM ET

Michael Jackson Auction Called Off

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/01/28/Jackson.Thriller/art.jackson.landis.gi.jpg]

About 2,000 items owned by the King of Pop are being taken off the auction block.

The contents of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch were going to be up for sale at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills later this month.

But late today the auction organizer told CNN the sale is called off. Jackson sued the auction company claiming he did not authorize the sale of items removed from Neverland after he sold the property.

The auction house tells us they're “very happy with the settlement.” Fans who still want to see Jackson's goods in person can check out the exhibit in Beverly Hills through April 25th and then the items are returned to Jackson.

Check out what's off the auction block here.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Pop Culture
April 14th, 2009
03:41 PM ET

Lawmakers tackle FLDS raid

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/14/art.flds.kxan.jpg]

Jenny Hoff

Just over a year after the government raid on the FLDS ranch in West Texas, lawmakers in Austin look at what went wrong. Members from the FLDS sect and representatives with CPS are among the invited testimony on the state's actions.

"Are there things we would have done differently today? Of course," said CPS commissioner Anne Heilingenstein. "I wish we would have had the information we have today." Heilingenstein told the Human Services committee that CPS faced a dilemma on the YFZ ranch that they had never faced before. "If we could have only removed the children facing the worst abuse, we would have," she said. "But, we were facing organized deception."

However, Heilingenstein said if the situation were to happen again, she would still have the agency remove all the children. The only difference she would make is prohibit any mothers from accompanying the children into state custody. However, she said after parenting classes and counseling sessions with the families, she believes the children are now safe with their parents. "The FLDS have acknowledged our concerns and the children are now safe in their homes." Heilingenstein said CPS has instructed the children on what is abuse and the FLDS children know they can call for help.


Filed under: FLDS court hearing • FLDS update
April 14th, 2009
03:37 PM ET

Agents pick up Nazi war crimes suspect for likely deportation


Nazi war crimes suspect John Demjanjuk was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Tuesday for an expected deportation to Germany.

They picked him up at his home in Cleveland, Ohio.

German authorities have accused Demjanjuk, 89, of involvement in killings at Sobibor, a Nazi death camp in Poland, during World War II. He has denied the allegations.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Global 360°
April 14th, 2009
03:36 PM ET

"Pig Book" calls out top congressional porkers

Program note: Tune in tonight to watch Drew Griffin's special report on AC 360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/14/earmarks/art.pig.file.afp.gi.jpg caption="Research on swine odor is one of the projects listed in the "Pig Book," released Tuesday."]

Listen closely and you'll hear squeals of disgust from a watchdog group tracking congressional pork in the nation's capital.

Citizens Against Government Waste is out with its annual "Pig Book" - a list of lawmakers whom the group considers the most egregious porkers, members of the House and Senate who use the earmarking process to funnel money to projects on their home turf.

Fittingly perhaps, the list includes nearly $1.8 million for swine odor and manure management research in Iowa.

"In fiscal year 2009, Congress stuffed 10,160 projects into the 12 appropriations bills worth $19.6 billion," the group said in a report released Tuesday. The amount marks a 14 percent increase over 2008.

The "Pig Book" also names dozens of what it considers the most blatant examples of pork-barrel spending.


Filed under: Economy • Raw Politics
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