June 12th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

What's the big fat deal?

Editor's Note: Nia Vardalos is the star and writer of the 2002 smash hit, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Her new film, “My Life in Ruins,” is in theaters now.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/12/art.vert.nia.jpg caption="Actress Nia Vardalos arrives at the premiere of 'My Life in Ruins' on May 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California." width=292 height=320]

Nia Vardalos

It’s just weight. Just 40 pounds of fat now gone from my body, but wow, it’s pretty much all I get asked about. In the last year, I got to star in a movie, wrote and directed my next one, and adopted a three year old from American Foster Care. But guess what I’m asked...how did I lose the weight?

I am embarrassed to be in the position of answering questions about my body again. On the publicity tour of 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' I was asked over and over again, if, as the writer, I felt it was a fair depiction of real life to have someone of my er, below average looks, hook up with hottie John Corbett.

It’s been years, and I have sat through many a movie like Sideways, where nobody blinks an eye when Paul Giamatti gets together with gorgeous Virginia Madsen. And, then 'Knocked Up'….well, the visual of Seth Rogan on top of Katherine Heigl made me put the popcorn down and reach for my purse. Not because I was grossed out but because I knew the film was about to stop and Ashton Kutcher would now jump out and go “aha, you’ve been punked, that would never happen.” I waited. But no Ashton. The film went on. And many a reviewer, who probably look like sweet Seth (yes even the women) gave it a thumbs up.


June 12th, 2009
09:51 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 6/12/09

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Tonight on 360°, a special report. A rifle-wielding white supremacist entered Washington’s Holocaust museum on Wednesday afternoon, fatally shooting a security guard. What fuels this kind of violence? Was this an isolated incident? Who are these ‘lone wolves’ that perpetrate these hate crimes?

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. 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
June 12th, 2009
07:01 PM ET

Good cop bad cop

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360 Correspondent

Over the last few weeks, I've interviewed a number of people who were not so happy to see me. I've also TRIED to interview some people who weren't so happy to see me. These are folks the public relies on - police officers and district attorneys - but they've been accused of ethical and maybe criminal violations.

We've been reporting on the misuse of laws that allow police to take money and valuables from drivers in certain circumstances when they are suspected of committing serious crimes.

The "asset forfeiture" law is sound. The idea is to take "ill gotten gains" away from crooks, and to give the money to police departments and DA's offices for the public good.

But we've gotten emails and calls from viewers all over the country telling us stories of overzealous police who've shaken down innocent drivers.


June 12th, 2009
05:52 PM ET

'How do we reconcile this?'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/11/museum.shooting.guard/art.johns.jpg caption="Security officer Stephen Johns reportedly opened the door for the man police say was his killer."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/10/dc.museum.shooting.suspect/art.james.von.brunn.mug.jpg caption="James W. von Brunn is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. His online biography says he served in World War II."]

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

If anything positive can come from the tragic shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, it is to shine a light on the creatures who occupy a dark corner of American discourse.

I’ll resist a temptation to compare them with a particular species of insect, but the dictionary on my desk uses the phrase “destructive, annoying or injurious to health” to describe their ilk.

These are people whose lives are consumed by hate for “the other.” They may use a bullhorn in the public square, their free speech rights often protected by police, or the keyboard of a computer at home, sometimes hiding behind a pseudonym.

In the case of Wednesday’s tragedy in the nation’s capital, the alleged shooter – based on the venom on his website – held Jews and blacks in particular contempt. The unfortunate irony is that the security guard killed protecting visitors to a museum recalling the greatest horror inflicted upon the Jewish people was African-American.


June 12th, 2009
05:30 PM ET

GOP means 'Got other plans?'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/10/republican.party.poll/art.gop3.gi.jpg caption="A new poll indicates there is no clear leader of the Republican Party."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

There is an old story about a man who winds up accidentally adrift in a hot air balloon and as he passes over a field, he frantically yells to the farmer below.

“How far am I from New York?” “I have no idea,” the farmer says. “How about Philadelphia?” “Not a clue.” “You dumb hick. Don’t you know anything?” the balloonist bellows. “Well,” the farmer replies, “I know I’m not lost.”

That pretty much sums up the relationship between the Republican and Democratic Parties right now. One group may not be sure which direction it is heading, especially on dicey issues like health care reform, but the other is pretty much completely adrift.

A new poll this week told us, as polls often do, what we already know: The Republican Party is a mess. USA Today/Gallup found that almost half of Republicans and even Independents who lean right, have no idea who their captain is, which way they are heading, or where they might find a map. Their ship of state is currently the Bounty, and their Mel Gibson is starting to sweat and listen to the grumblers.

I’ve spent a good bit of time questioning Republican strategists about their situation in recent months. (I’ve tried to talk to Democrats about it too, btw, but I often have trouble understanding them with the way they start dancing around and whistling when I bring up the GOP’s troubles.) And the Repubs, almost to a soul, agree on three things.

First, they need a leader, and that weird Project Runway of Old White Guys we are watching will not produce one. Limbaugh. Gingrich. Cheney. The most active strategists all say stick a fork in them – they’re done. Sarah Palin is an interesting act, they say, but a headliner? They insist the party needs new, young faces who can blow away the Old Guard, like Barack Obama did for the Democrats

Second, they need a new vision. The civil war between those who want to restore their conservative roots and those who want to forge a new pact with America is just the opening skirmish. Everything from minority outreach to fiscal policies to the RNC’s weekend softball lineup is all on the workbench.

And third, they need time. Time to get used to climbing uphill again instead of sitting on the top. Time to adapt to all these new notions of what being a Republican might mean. And time for the opposition to make mistakes.

After all, just eight years ago America had a name for members of a party in disarray with no clear dreams, plans or hopes for the future. Back then, we called them Democrats.

June 12th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Hate in America

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/12/holocaust.survivors.museum.reaction/art.holocaust.memorial.cnn.jpg caption= "A makeshift memorial sits outside the Holocaust museum in Washington on Friday."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight, we're bringing you a special edition of 360°: "American Radical: The Lone Wolf." We think it's important to talk about the wave of terrorism that's largely gone unnoticed here in the U.S. These are shootings and bombings on Americans, by Americans.

The latest attack was Wednesday at Washington's U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Police say Stephen Tyrone Johns, 39, a security officer at the museum, was killed by an 88-year-old white supremacist.  Stephen, at six foot six, was known as a "gentle giant."  He was so kind to others, sadly, one of his last acts was to hold the door open so the elderly man who authorities said would shoot him could come inside.  The reality is there have been many attacks in the U.S. this spring by so-called "lone wolves", those who are filled with so much hate they act along and not as part of a group.

Tonight we'll look at what's fueling the hate. Could it be the election of America's first African-American president and even the rocky economy? Our experts weigh in.

You'll also hear from a former skinhead. Who inspired him to change his life for the better? Don't miss his remarkable story.

Plus, Erica will have all the day's other headlines. We're waiting to see who won the presidential election in Iran. And, an American accused of murder in Italy takes the stand in her own defense.

Join us for all this and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • T1 • The Buzz
June 12th, 2009
03:23 PM ET

A gun so old that it can't be traced

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/12/holocaust.survivors.museum.reaction/art.grab.website.jpg caption="The gun used by the alleged Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn is too old to be traced, according to sources."]

Carol Cratty

A law enforcement source says it was not possible to trace the rifle used in the Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting to the original purchaser.

The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, said the weapon is a Winchester Model 6, .22 caliber rifle, and those were manufactured between 1908 and 1928– - long before records were kept on this sort of stuff.

Law enforcement was also checking to see if the weapon had been used in any other crime. No word on any results on that.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Gun Control • Gun Violence
June 12th, 2009
02:51 PM ET

The weak case against Amanda Knox

Editor's Note: Amanda Knox, a college student from Seattle, is currently being tried in Perugia, Italy on charges she murdered her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in the fall of 2007. Both were foreign exchange students at the local university. The prosecution rested its case two weeks ago. Now the defense is making its case and Amanda is taking the stand in her own defense. She's scheduled to resume testifying on Saturday. The case is being heard by a panel of eight judges.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/12/italy.amanda.knox.trial/art.knoxtrial.afp.gi.jpg caption="American college student Amanda Knox, 21, testifies Friday at her murder trial in Perugia, Italy. "]

Anne Bremner
Defense Attorney & Friends of Amanda Spokeswoman

Italian authorities claim Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, killed Meredith Kercher in collaboration with a drifter named Rudy Guede. Alleged motives include a "sex game" gone wrong, petty theft, or a dispute between Amanda and Meredith over household chores.

"Friends of Amanda" is a group of people who believe the evidence shows that Amanda and Raffaele are innocent, and Rudy committed the murder by himself. Rudy opted for an abbreviated trial last fall, was convicted, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The trial of Amanda and Raffaele began in January and won't finish until at least this fall.

The prosecutor recently finished presenting his case, so now is a good time to summarize his evidence. Much of it centers on Amanda's behavior before and after the crime. The prosecutor examined a number of witnesses who offered testimony critical of Amanda. Nobody, however, said that Amanda displayed any anger or aggression toward Meredith or anyone else. And indeed, Amanda's friends and family say she is a gentle person who would never hurt anyone.


June 12th, 2009
02:00 PM ET

After Gitmo, hit the beaches

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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/11/uighurs.gitmo/art.palau.cnn.jpg caption="The map shows the Pacific island nation of Palau in relation to China. Palau has also agreed to take some Uighurs."]

Jill Dougherty | Bio
Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Four men held at the prison camp in Guantanamo for almost eight years have just been sent to live in Bermuda, land of Bermuda shorts, golf courses and white sandy beaches.

For months the Obama administration has been scouring the world to find a home for the Uighurs, members of a Muslim minority group from western China. The Chinese government considers them terrorists and that is what the U.S. initially thought, since some of them were members of a group allied with Al Qaeda which the U.S. labels a terrorist organization. But in 2008 the Bush administration determined that none of the Uighur detainees were “enemy combatants.”

The U.S. ruled out sending them back to China out of fear they would be tortured. Northern Virginia, which has a sizeable Uighur community, wasn’t possible either because of intense domestic political lobbying against having “terrorists” living down the street from Americans.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Government of Bermuda for its assistance in resettling these detainees,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Thursday.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • Guantanomo Bay • Jill Dougherty
June 12th, 2009
01:42 PM ET

'I lived with the white supremacist accused of murder'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/11/museum.shooting.suspect.two/art.grab.website.jpg caption="Writings attributed to James von Brunn and a biography appear on the Web site Holy Western Empire."]

Alexandra Poolos and Alyssa Caplan

Scott Aulbach flipped on the news when he finally got back to his Atlanta hotel room after a long day of training for his company. And suddenly he saw splashed across CNN a picture of his former roommate, James von Brunn. He was horrified to hear police reports that von Brunn was the man who walked into the Holocaust Museum in Washington with a rifle, and shot police officer Stephen Jones before being shot and apprehended by other officers.

Horrified. But not completely surprised.

"I heard something about a shooting at the Holocaust [museum] and the next thing I seen is his picture. I knew it was him."

Aulbach says von Brunn was his roommate for about six months in 2004. Aulbach had already been living with his friend Eric von Brunn, James von Brunn's son. Aulbach says neither he nor Eric von Brunn were white supremacists. In fact, Aulbach says Eric and his mother - divorced from James von Brunn - are wonderful people. But they heard plenty of supremacist rants from Eric's father.

Below are notes from our conversations with Aulbach in preparation for his interview with Anderson. AC360° producer David Puente also contributed to these questions. This evening, we will hear from Scott again as we take a special look at hate in America in our one-hour special, American Radical: The Lone Wolf, on AC360° at 10p ET. Please join us.


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