June 11th, 2009
05:50 PM ET

Why I'll vote this time

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/11/amanpour.iran.poll/art.rally.gi.jpg caption="Supporters of Mir Hossein Moussavi at a rally Wednesday."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/11/amanpour.iran.poll/art.president.afp.gi.jpg caption="A pro-Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rally also drew big crowds. "]

Golnaz Esfandiari
Senior Correspondent, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

On Friday I will vote for the first time in my life.

I will cast my ballot at the Iranian Embassy in Prague, where I live and work as a journalist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. I wish I could go back to Iran to vote, but I won’t risk being detained or harassed as many of my colleagues have been for the "crime" of disseminating information that Iranians cannot get from the country’s strictly controlled media.

Why will I vote? After all, Iran is not a democracy. Won’t voting serve to legitimize a regime characterized by human rights violations? A regime often in the news for jailing women and young people who seek to exercise their universal rights. A regime that is the only one in the world that executes juvenile offenders. A regime that forced me to wear the Islamic hijab when I was only a child and whose intolerance and injustice compelled me to leave my homeland.

I used such arguments to explain why I never voted before. I know the regime has not changed, but this time I will vote. Why? I’ve changed.


June 11th, 2009
05:50 PM ET

Map: Active hate groups in the U.S.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/10/map.hate.groups.jpg caption="Active Hate Groups in the United States"]

Program Note: The map shows different hate groups that are active across the country. It is part of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Tune in to AC360° at 10 P.M. ET for more details on hate groups.

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Intelligence Project monitors hate groups and extremist activities throughout the U.S. and publishes the Center's award-winning Intelligence Report.

It also offers training to help law enforcement officials and human rights groups combat organized racism, including an online hate crime training course for law enforcement professionals.

Click here for more details...

June 11th, 2009
05:39 PM ET

'Black box' could hold answer to plane crash mystery

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/06/10/plane.crash.black.box/art.black.box.search.gov.jpg caption="The Pinger Locator System, donated by the U.S. Navy, is being used to find the black box from Air France Flight 447."]

Doug Gross

The "black box" is actually an orange cylinder - about 13 pounds of metal wrapped around a stack of memory chips and designed to withstand the force of being slammed high-speed into a brick wall.

One such device - possibly sitting more than two miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean - is the object of a massive international search and could hold the answer to why Air France Flight 447 mysteriously plunged into the sea off the coast of Brazil last week with 228 people on board.

"These record many, many parameters of the flight - the aircraft, its altitude, even the amount of force that one of the pilots might put on a pedal," John Perry Fish, an underwater recovery expert, told CNN. "It's very important to find these in order to find out what happened to the flight."

In the wake of nearly every air disaster, search and rescue efforts immediately segue into quests for the boxes, which have been in wide use on commercial flights since shortly after World War II.

Actually a pair of devices - the flight data recorder and a voice and audio recorder - the equipment records virtually everything about how an airplane is working.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar
June 11th, 2009
05:33 PM ET

What do we know about the Air France crash?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/americas/06/11/air.france.crash.daly/art.brazil.wreckage.cnn.jpg caption="Some wreckage from Air France Flight 447 has been recovered, including part of the tail."]

Kieran Daly
Editor, Air Transport Intelligence

In one way we know a huge amount about the loss of Air France flight 447 - much more than is usual so soon after an accident. But in another, we know nothing at all.

The simple fact is that the blizzard of airworthiness directives, company memos, weather reports, technical specifications and diverse other documents that have surfaced since last week constitute entirely circumstantial evidence.

Aviation history is replete with accidents with causes utterly unrelated to what first seemed the obvious explanation.

For the investigators, the challenge is to keep an open mind while simultaneously pursuing obvious leads before evidence is lost and memories become stale.

But all that said, there are real clues to what might have happened to this Airbus A330.

Two things we know for certain: The aircraft did penetrate a region of severe weather, and the pilots were eventually confronted with a rapid series of system failures.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Airline Safety
June 11th, 2009
04:59 PM ET

What is the DREAM Act?

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the DREAM Act and who it may impact on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/09/obama.immigration/art.yuma.sector.fence.gi.jpg caption="A fence separates the United States from Mexico in the U.S. Border Patrol's Yuma Sector in San Luis, Arizona."]

From the Senate's version of the DREAM Act:

A bill to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to permit States to determine State residency for higher education purposes and to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Education • Immigration
June 11th, 2009
04:56 PM ET

College life for undocumented students

Editor's Note: Tune in to AC360º at 10pm to find out more about undergraduate students facing hurdles because of their immigrant status and what the DREAM Act could mean for them.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/03/art.undocumented.students.jpg caption="A group of undocumented students interviewed for the story."]

Traci Tamura
CNN Senior Producer

The issue of illegal immigration to the United States from Mexico is always a hot button topic. I have produced numerous stories on illegal immigration from all sides and from both sides of the border.

My most recent story that I produced for the AC360° about undocumented students took me back to my college roots – UCLA.

When I came back to campus this go around it was to meet with a group of undocumented students who belong to IDEAS (Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success). We talked to them about how their illegal status affects their quest to get an education.

Just hearing about how they don't qualify for any financial aid, can't get drivers licenses and the impact it has on their lives made me think about my own college experiences.

Some travel for hours by bus just to make an 8am class. When I lived on campus it was still a "struggle" to make it to class on time and all I had to do was walk across campus.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Education • Immigration
June 11th, 2009
04:44 PM ET

Confessions of a former Neo-Nazi skinhead

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/06/11/hate.groups/art.museum.door.gi.jpg caption="An FBI investigator looks over gunshot holes in the door of the U.S. Holocaust Museum on Thursday."]

Program Note: Author and former Neo-Nazi skinhead TJ Leyden will join Anderson tonight to discuss the views and innerworkings of this country's hate groups and shed light on yesterday's fatal shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. Below is the preface to Leyden's book entitled, "Skinhead Confessions." Tune in to AC360° tonight at 10p ET.

TJ Leyden
Author, "Skinhead Confessions"

I heard the gasp of horror and knew I’d been caught. For several years I had hidden the depth of my involvement in the Skinheads from my parents, covering up my tattoos with long shirts, concealing my violent life through lies and deceit. Until now, my own mother hadn’t known how far I was entrenched in the world of hate.

“What are those?” she cried, pointing at my body, which was covered from my neck to the middle of my back in graphic, sinister tattoos. “Tell me or I will call the police!”

No way in hell I was going to tell her what they meant—the hate crimes I had committed, the people I’d hurt, stabbed, and maimed to earn those tattoos. No way would I tell her about the hundreds of kids I’d initiated to follow me into the White Power Movement and the things they did for me every day.

She picked up the phone, her eyes locked on mine. They connected her to the gang unit of the Redlands Police Department. She questioned the officer about what she had seen, and her eyes grew bigger in disbelief. I showed no emotion, even as he told her that the person she was talking about must be a fully indoctrinated and active Skinhead. Then . . . the inevitable question. Did she personally know the dangerous person with the tattoos?


Filed under: 360° Radar • Hate Crime
June 11th, 2009
04:18 PM ET

Afternoon Radar: How many others are there like him?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/10/museum.shooting/art.grab.website.jpg caption="The Web site Holy Western Empire includes writings by James von Brunn and a biography."]

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Hey Everyone – Here’s what’s on our radar right now:

We’re digging deeper on the shooting at the Holocaust Museum yesterday. The alleged shooter, James von Brunn, is a white supremacist, a Holocaust denier and has long been affiliated with hate groups. Who is this guy and how many others are there like him? Is it possible to prevent hate crimes - and how?

Four detainees – Chinese nationals of Uighur ethnicity – will be released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility today and resettled in Bermuda. Why Bermuda? What kind of prison does this island have and will these prisoners be there forever? Was there some sort of behind-the-scenes deal?


Filed under: 360° Radar • Eliza Browning
June 11th, 2009
04:15 PM ET

Beat 360° 6/11/09

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:

Two meerkats (Suricata suricatta) emerge from a tunnel leading to their heated burrow at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. (Photo credit: Talara BLACKWOOD/AFP/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.

UPDATE: Check out our Beat 360° Winners!

__________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
June 11th, 2009
03:41 PM ET

How we landed the Rick Strandlof interview

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/11/art.veteran.imposter.kusa.jpg caption="Rick Strandlof said he was an Iraqi war veteran, went to the Naval Academy and was a marine."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/11/art.veteran.fraud.cnn.jpg caption="Strandlof spoke out on behalf of war veterans."]

Joe Johns | BIO
CNN Correspondent

Charismatic and inspiring, people seemingly couldn’t get enough of the compelling personal story he had spun – that he was a graduate of the Naval Academy, was at the Pentagon on 9-11, and was injured in combat in Iraq. For much of 2008, the people of Colorado believed this purported war hero - a forceful public advocate on behalf of veterans and a vocal critic of the Iraq War. He also worked tireless to elect anti-war candidates, appearing in several political ads.

The only problem? It was all a lie – down to his name. Rick Duncan was really Richard Strandlof.

We spent three days basically following up on a lot of fine reporting in Denver by KUSA's Jace Larson and the local newspapers. As you can probably imagine, reporting on someone who had moved from state to state, and spent a good amount of time living as somebody else, is a little tricky. The CNN Research Library found over 300 people with the name Rick Duncan in Colorado alone.

We had to cross-check and confirm a lot of stuff ourselves - contacting the Pentagon, the Naval Academy, members of Congress, the FBI, local veterans, prosecutors, and many others - to try to establish that Strandlof wasn't who he said he was. I even talked on the phone with a man who identified himself as Strandlof's ex-boyfriend (Strandlof is gay).


Filed under: Joe Johns • Joneil Adriano • Keeping Them Honest
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