Tonight, we'll take you live to Arizona State University where President Obama will address the graduating class. His visit drawing controversy when the school refused to grant him an honorary degree, saying he basically hadn't accomplished enough. We'll also look at Pres. Obama's controversial speech at Notre Dame this weekend. Some believe a Catholic university should not honor a president whose views on abortion and stem cell research run counter to church. Text us your questions on this topic. Just put the initals A-C, your name, location and question in the text and send it to 94553.
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Morehouse College is a very prestigious school. It's website describes the school as "the best college in the nation for educating African-Americans."
When you graduate from the all male school, you have brothers who will watch your back for life. That's why this particular tale is so troubling. Because we know at least two of the students won't be so fond of looking after each other in the future because one of them shot the other with a gun.
The chairs are already set up for Saturday's commencement at Morehouse. About 500 men will graduate. One of the students about to get his degree is Joshua Brandon Norris. He is the guy who fired the gun; three times as a matter of fact at a student named Rashad Johnson. And that's the twist here.
Because he was shot, Rashad Johnson is no longer a Morehouse student. Johnson was hurt physically and emotionally and decided to go back to his family in California to recuperate. And then found out that even though Norris pleaded no contest to shooting him, the college decided to allow him to continue being a Morehouse student. And that came after a most unusual court sentencing.
Even though Norris faced the possibility of 20 years in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the prosecutor cut a deal with him. Plead no contest, and we will give you probation, a fine, community service, and a demand that you finish college. The shooter accepted the deal and went back to Morehouse, while his victim was no longer a "Morehouse Man."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/12/prisoner.photos/art.1700.obama.cnn.jpg caption="President Obama discusses the alleged prisoner abuse photos at the White House on Wednesday."]
Pres. Obama now says he'll try to block the court-ordered release of Defense Department photos of U.S. troops allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says he's worried about the safety of U.S. forces.
"The most direct consequence of releasing them would be to further inflame anti-American opinion, and to put our troops in greater danger," said Pres. Obama at the White House.
Just last month, when the administration said it would release the photos, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs insisted the photos would not harm U.S. troops.
Today CNN's Ed Henry asked Gibbs about the reversal on the photos.
Here's their exchange at the White House press briefing:
ED HENRY: Was there a failure here at the White House in the first go-round in April to fully weigh the national security implications?
ROBERT GIBBS: The argument that the president seeks to make is one that hasn't been made before. The - I'm not going to get into blame for this or that.
Don't miss Ed Henry's report on the photo flap tonight on AC360°.
The release would have made public for the first time photos obtained in military investigations at facilities other than the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. But the president said the photos "are not particularly sensational, especially when compared with the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib," referring to the Iraqi military prison where photographs released in 2004 of detainees being abused and humiliated sparked worldwide outrage.
The ACLU, which won the legal fight to get the latest photos released, is outraged by Pres. Obama's reversal. It's agreement with the administration to have it release 44 photos and other images is now voided.
"This decision makes a mockery of President Obama's promise of transparency and accountability," said Amrit Singh, lead counsel for the ACLU case. Mr. Singh will talking with Anderson tonight about the president's decision.
Do you agree with the ACLU or do you support Pres. Obama's decision? Sound off below.
We'll have this story and a lot more, including Pres. Obama's commencent speech at Arizona State University. We'll bring you live to Sun Devil Stadium where more than 60,000 people will hear him speak. It will be his biggest crowd since election night.
See you at 10pm ET!
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:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves after attending New York University's 177th Commencement at the Yankee Stadium in New York, May 13, 2009.
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.
Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about Pres. Obama's decision on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
President Obama said Wednesday that he told government lawyers to object to a court-ordered release of additional images showing alleged abuse of detainees because the release could affect the safety of U.S. troops and "inflame anti-American opinion."
The Defense Department was set to release hundreds of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the images we remember from Abu Ghraib," the president said on the South Lawn of the White House. "But they do represent conduct that didn't conform with the Army manual."
Obama said the publication of the photos would not add any additional benefit to investigations being carried out into detainee abuse - and could put future inquires at risk.
"In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would further flame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger. ... I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse," Obama said.
Program Note: Tune in tonight for more on Sarah Palin's book deal on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Anchorage Daily News
Robert Barnett, the Washington D.C. lawyer who negotiated Gov. Sarah Palin’s book deal, hasn’t always been in Palin’s corner.
Barnett is an ardent Democrat who helped Hillary Clinton prepare for 23 primary debates and then said he supported Barack Obama "with all my energy" after Clinton dropped out of the race.
But as a powerhouse in the publishing world he's represented clients of extremely varied political stripes including Obama, Oliver North, Bill Clinton, Lynne Cheney Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bob Woodward, Tim Russert, George Will, Art Buchwald, William Bennett, Tony Blair and Queen Noor of Jordan.
Barnett is a partner at Williams and Connolly, the Washington firm that also represents former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens in his criminal case.
Program Note: Tune in tonight for more on the controversy surrounding Pres. Obama's speech at Notre Dame this weekend on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
The Catholic bishop of South Bend, Indiana, will not attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Notre Dame because he disagrees with the stem-cell research and abortion views of the commencement speaker - President Obama.
Bishop John D'Arcy, whose diocese includes Fort Wayne, Indiana, as well as the university town, said Tuesday in a written statement that "after much prayer" he has decided not to attend the ceremony.
"President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred," D'Arcy said. "While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life."
Barack Obama starts his first college commencement tour as president tonight, speaking to graduates of Arizona State University.
His graduation speech at Notre Dame this Sunday is more controversial because many believe a president whose whose views on abortion and stem cell research run counter to church teachings should not be honored at a Catholic university.
We'll be exploring this issue tonight. What are your questions? Let us know!
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/05/13/pope.visit/art.popebethlehem.gi.jpg caption="Pope Benedict XVI called for Israelis and Palestinians to keep the "flame of hope" alive for peace."]
John L. Allen Jr.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst
Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories
Perceived injustices often produce one of two effects in people. It can either breed determination to rise above one’s circumstances, or it can leave someone angry and disillusioned. Two vignettes from around the edges of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Aida refugee camp in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank illustrate each option.
I was in the Aida Palestinian refugee camp just north of Bethlehem on the West Bank today to cover the pontiff’s visit, a highlight of day five of his week-long visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Aida was opened shortly after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and is today home to around 5,000 Palestinians, most of whom were driven from homes in and around the city of Jerusalem. This sprawling cluster of concrete structures abuts a 30-foot-tall “security barrier,” or wall, erected by Israel as a buffer between itself and the Palestinian Territories. Officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, which supports several activities in the camp, say it’s badly over-crowded.
Sofia Ramadan, 15, is one of the voices I met today. She grew up in the Aida camp, and attended the school whose courtyard hosted today’s papal event. She was part of a dance troupe which performed for the pope and for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority.