CNN Executive Producer and Author
Just over a year ago, a U.S. staff sergeant in Iraq decided to practice his shooting skills. His target: the Koran, Islam's holiest book. The military issued a formal apology, promptly dismissed the soldier from his regiment and reassigned him back to the U.S.
But news of the shooting had already made its way onto YouTube, and a firestorm of outrage ignited across the Islamic world. Protests turned deadly in Afghanistan, with several people killed, including one of the NATO soldiers trying to control the crowds.
Back at the Army's Intelligence and Cultural Awareness Center at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, commanders knew they had a problem. The Army is no longer living in the age of the old-fashioned boots and firearm soldier. Now it's sending young soldiers into cultures they don't know.
And the meteoric rise of social networks, on which anyone can post messages or video, means whatever these soldiers do can be reported - or undermined - instantly around the world.
You’ll excuse me if I get teary when someone mentions this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Even though my career as a Hollywood leading man is long over, I still yearn for those carefree days on the French Riviera, watching Gene Hackman exfoliate his knuckles while Sophia Loren hand-fed me Twizzlers.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I was part of that whole scene. I think my last trip to Cannes was when I was promoting the buddy western I had just made with Linda Evangelista, “Is That a Honda Accord in Your Garage or Are You Just Happy to See Me?”
It was a wonderful trip, aside from that one small incident on the red carpet. But, in hindsight, who among us hasn’t accidentally given Kathy Bates an open-mouth kiss?
As with the Oscars, we see coverage of Cannes on television, but it’s really not the same as being there. The glittering jewelry, the well-coiffed hair, the flowing ball gowns. And that’s just Steven Seagal.
And, of course, it goes without saying that one does not go to the festival merely for the film screenings. There’s plenty of fun-in-the-sun to be had on the beach and – if the mood should strike you – in the Applebee’s parking lot.
Program Note: Tune in tonight for more from Fareed Zakaria on the administration's Afpak strategy on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Fareed Zakaria | BIO
CNN Anchor, “Fareed Zakaria – GPS”
A Taliban spokesman issued threats and ultimatums against Pakistani officials this week as the country's military continued its offensive against the militant group in the Swat Valley.
Speaking with CNN on Wednesday, Muslim Khan announced that all national and provincial parliament members from the Malakand Division, the northwestern region where the Swat Valley is located, must resign within three days. "Otherwise, we will arrest all their families," Khan threatened, "and we will destroy all their buildings."
As the Pakistani offensive continued against the Taliban, Fareed Zakaria interviewed the nation's former president, Pervez Musharraf, for his show Sunday. Musharraf is a former chief of the Pakistan Army who took power in a 1999 coup and stepped down as the nation's president under pressure last summer.
Zakaria discussed the challenges facing Pakistan with CNN.
Tonight on 360°, who's lying? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful woman in Washington, or the head of the CIA? At issue, who knew what and when about terror interrogations. We're keeping them honest.
Don't miss Erica Hill's webcast on tonight's headlines during the commercials. Watch our WEBCAST
Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ
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CIA Director Leon Panetta is urging the agency's employees to "ignore the noise" surrounding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's claim she was misled by the organization on interrogation techniques.
In a memo obtained by CNN, Panetta tells the workforce, "There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after I'm gone."
Tom Foreman | Bio
You don’t jump on the scales an hour after you push aside the doughnuts; you don’t pull out the Bermudas until at least late spring (and frankly, a good many of you should not do it at all – trust me) and the Obama White House might be better off if it were not already trying to roll out reports on how well the stimulus plan is working.
That is the consensus among some political and economic analysts, who suggest the Vice President’s progress report on the program, while laudable, is like those predictions of Hillary Clinton’s 2012 campaign – a tad premature.
Let’s look at just one part: Jobs. Vice President Biden confidently reports that 150,000 jobs have already been created or saved by stimulus spending, even though the money has been flowing only since mid-February. That number, however, is not an actual count of jobs. It is a White House estimate based on a mathematical formula that goes something like, “If Farmer Brown’s government spends $29 billion to create jobs in Punkyville, how many jobs will be created?”
Happy Friday, everyone! We have an update on the dangerous street code known as "stop snitchin'", where witnesses to crimes keep silent rather than testify in court. The "stop snitchin'" message is spread in DVDs, clothes and in hip-hop music.
Tonight, we take you to Baltimore where prosecutors say a man was murdered for trying to tell the truth.
Carl Lackl, 38, came face to face with a gunman fleeing a murder scene. He agreed to talk in court. But then, in July 2007, outside his house with his baby girl and 11 year old niece, a teenager drove by in a car and opened fire on Lackl, killing him in front of the children.
Investigators say Lackl's murder was a hit ordered from city jail, by the man he was going to testify against.
"Carl Lackl was a hero who deserves to be remembered," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a news release. "He knelt to comfort a dying man, he called police to report a murder, and he stepped forward to protect other citizens from a violent armed criminal."
So, what happened to the hit man?
Don't miss Joe Johns' report on this case tonight on AC360°. We'll also talk about what steps can be done to protect witnesses to crimes.
If you witnessed a crime would you be afraid to testify in court? Share your thoughts below.
Tonight, you'll also meet a daredevil kayaker who wasn't afraid to free fall down a 186-foot long waterfall to set a new world record. It's must-see video. Don't miss it.
Go ahead and grab that Friday night snack and get comfy on the couch.
AC360° is coming your way starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!
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:
President Barack Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office.
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.
Editor's Note: In 2004, Ani DiFranco traveled to Thailand and Burma where she visited refugee camps and met with dissidents struggling for freedom and democracy in Burma. She will speak to Anderson tonight about Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who is under house arrest in Myanmar. A Missouri man is accused of swimming across a lake and sneaking into the home of the leader, according to a U.S. Embassy official.
On July 9, we visited "Dr. Cynthia's" medical clinic in the town of Mae Sot near the Thailand/Burma border. A Burmese woman named Cynthia Maung runs this medical clinic, which started from the back of a pick-up truck and has grown to cover several acres of land just outside of Mae Sot. Cynthia treats anyone who walks through the front-door, and people come from all around Burma and Thailand.
Read more about Ani's trip (also knows as Burma) and see photos of her experience in Myanmar.