July 13th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Interviewing President Obama in Ghana

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.ac.obama.ghana.jpg caption="Anderson Cooper and President Obama walking around Cape Coast Castle."]

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Interviewing the President is always a difficult prospect. There are so many questions you want to ask, but you only have a limited amount of time.

We had been told we might get about 15 to 20 minutes sitting down with the President and then perhaps 10 minutes walking around Cape Coast Castle – a whitewashed fort through which enslaved Africans were sent to the New World.

We arrived in Ghana last week, one day before the President arrived with his family. We spent the day shooting a story about African Americans who visit Ghana to retrace their roots, and we also spent an hour or so walking through the Castle with members of the President's advance team.

It is a remarkable thing to see how much effort and organization goes into the President's movements. The Castle and the nearby hotel were full of secret service, embassy personnel, White House advance personnel, military backup and I'm sure more from other agencies as well.

Everything is timed to the minute: When the President will arrive, where he will go, etc. I read something on Drudgereport that said the crowds were not enthusiastic for the President's trip. I'm not sure where that impression came from.


July 13th, 2009
11:58 PM ET

A capacity for cruelty is never justified

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

Last week I was in Haiti, where I spent my time walking around with an adorable young gal named Deena. She was 15 years-old, and was born and raised in Haiti.

Within minutes of meeting her, there were things that were impossible not to notice. Her clothes were ragged and clearly too small for her. She hardly ever smiled, and if she did – it was fleeting and purse-lipped. She didn’t look me in the eyes, and in fact spent most of the time staring at the ground.

Her voice was weak, and, her body was frail. When I touched her back, I could feel a hollow space. As part of her introduction, I was told Deena was a Restavek, which in Creole means to “stay with.” Our guide Jean Robert Cadet was more blunt. “Make no mistake,” he said. “She is a child slave.”

Strong words, I thought. I wanted to see for myself and that is why I found myself in a shanty town outside Port au Prince, Haiti at 5 a.m. last Sunday. It was already well over 90 degrees and there was no breeze whatsoever. We were soaking in our shirts just standing there, which makes what I began to see that much harder to imagine.


July 13th, 2009
09:47 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 07/13/09

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Tonight on 360°, Anderson's exclusive interview with Pres. Obama in Ghana. Plus, we have breaking details on the murder of a Florida couple. They helped raise more than a dozen children, many with disabilities. Who would have killed them and why? And, Judge Sonia Sotomayor is grilled on Capitol Hill in day one of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings. We have the raw politics.

Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ

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
July 13th, 2009
05:59 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Pres. Obama, slavery, and that “wise Latina”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.ac.obama.ghana.jpg caption="Anderson Cooper and President Obama walking around Cape Coast Castle."]

Charly Feldman
AC360° Intern

Tonight on 360°, watch Anderson’s exclusive interview with President Obama in Ghana. They discuss everything from the economy to Afghanistan, the U.S. military’s “Don’t ask don’t tell” for gay service members and of course U.S. policy towards Africa.

We’ll take you on a tour of the dungeons of Cape Coast Castle with President Obama, to see where kidnapped Ghanaians awaited the horrifying boat rides to America just a couple of centuries ago. Greed and the slave trade triangle – all this and more on the program tonight.

But slavery isn’t just a thing of the past. Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s joins us from Haiti with a 360° dispatch on modern day slavery. It’s hard to imagine, but children as young as four years old are caught up in this vicious cycle. We’re digging deeper.

Plus, Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings began today at Capitol Hill, as the Senate Judiciary Committee discusses her abilities as a potential Supreme Court judge. From accusations of judicial activism to her controversial comment about being a “wise Latina”, Candy Crowley brings you the raw politics tonight, with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Also, Randi Kaye joins us live from L.A. with the latest details on Michael Jackson’s death. His sister LaToya is speaking out. We’ll have her controversial account of what she believes happened to Michael. Was he murdered? Or, as Joe Jackson now suggests did the prospects of his London concerts burn him out? Plus, we’re following the money trail. Tune in to 360° for the answer to these questions.

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

July 13th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Sotomayor a cautious, careful liberal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/13/toobin.sotomayor/art.sotomayor.thursday.gi.jpg caption="Sonia Sotomayor appears to view the Constitution much like retired Justice David Souter did."]
Jeffrey Toobin
CNN Senior Analyst

One of the enduring myths about Supreme Court justices is that they often turn out to "surprise" the presidents who appoint them. Sure-thing conservatives, it is said, turn out to be liberals, ­and vice versa. In fact, the evidence is almost entirely the opposite: that with justices, as in life, what you see is what you get.

The question, then, is this: What do you see when you look at Sonia Sotomayor, who begins her confirmation hearings as a strong favorite for confirmation?

She is, above all, a veteran judge ­who has 18 years on the federal bench: six as a trial judge (appointed by President George H.W. Bush) and the rest on the court of appeals (appointed by President Clinton). The question of competence is closed. Sotomayor can do the job. It's no surprise that she received a unanimous rating of well-qualified from the American Bar Association screening committee.

But what would she stand for as a Supreme Court justice? She is, it seems, a liberal,­ but a liberal in the cautious and careful mode of her likely future colleagues Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Jeffrey Toobin • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
July 13th, 2009
04:46 PM ET

Beat 360º 7/13/09

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:

Barbara 'Redneck Queen' Bailey shows the crowd the proper way to do the Bellyflop during the 13th Annual Summer Redneck Games July 11, 2009 in East Dublin, Georgia. (Photo by Stephen Morton/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
July 13th, 2009
03:00 PM ET

La Toya Jackson: Michael was murdered... I felt it from the start

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/07/michael.jackson.wrap/art.mj.mem.family.cnn.jpg caption="Jackson's family embrace each other on stage during the close of the emotional service."]

Caroline Graham
Daily Mail Online

The grieving sister of superstar Michael Jackson last night blamed ‘a shadowy entourage’ of manipulative hangers-on for effectively ‘murdering’ the King of Pop.

In a moving and revealing interview, La Toya Jackson, who was closer to her vulnerable brother than anyone else and was asked to sign his death certificate, portrayed Michael as a lonely and isolated figure at the mercy of a money-motivated clique.

She accused them of cutting him off from his family and friends and forcing him, largely against his will, to sign up for the gruelling commitment of 50 concerts at London’s O2 arena.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Michael Jackson
July 13th, 2009
02:42 PM ET

Photo gallery: Anderson in Ghana

Program Note: The first African-American President visited Ghana this past week and Anderson Cooper tagged along for the journey. Here are a few snapshots from the trip. For more on the President's historic visit, tune in to AC360° tonight 10p ET.


Anderson shooting a segment in Ghana.


July 13th, 2009
02:42 PM ET

Obama's visit – and what it meant to Ghanaians

Chakun, Ghana had the highest rate of Guinea worm cases in its district before it got a new borehole. The villagers are now notably stronger and healthier that they have access to clean water.

People fetching water from a dirty pond in Kpalang village, Ghana. The pond is the only source of water for this remote farming village of 600 people.

Auckhinleck Adow
Associate director, World Vision in Ghana

There was palpable excitement here in Ghana as President Obama visited this past weekend. He highlighted our nation's progress, most recently our peaceful, democratic election. Accra is still abuzz and my colleagues and neighbors are talking about it constantly.

Born and raised in Ghana, I remember the awe I felt as a child when Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1961. Now, my 13-year-old daughter had the chance to see the first African-American president visit her nation, and her excitement makes me proud of the progress our country has made. For example, Ghana is the only sub-Saharan African country on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of cutting hunger in half by 2015.

As I reflect this week on the visit, I wonder what windows of opportunity it offers for the nearly half of Ghanaians surviving on less than US $1 a day. And amidst President Obama’s focus on Ghana’s democratic progress and good governance, it could easily be forgotten that there are still so many Ghanaians struggling to survive.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Ghana • Global 360° • President Barack Obama
July 13th, 2009
01:48 PM ET

A beacon of hope in Sub Saharan Africa

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/07/11/obama.ghana/art.obamaghanacrowd.gi.jpg caption="Local dignitaries greet President Obama when he arrives in Ghana on Friday."]

Josh Ruxin
Founder and Director, The Access Project
Assistant Professor in Public Heath, Columbia University

There was a democratic buzz in the air the last time I traveled to Ghana. Presidential elections were under way, and I was lucky to be traveling with an aspiring candidate, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, the country’s minister of finance in the eighties and early-nineties. Everywhere we traveled, Ghanaians were debating the challenges facing their nation and reveling in their increasingly vibrant and stable democracy.

That strong embrace of democratic ideals has not been lost on the Obama administration. The U.S. President’s visit to Ghana this past weekend was a symbolic move that now resonates across the continent. Rather than giving in to the temptation of having a homecoming in Kenya, Obama chose the West African nation as his first stop. It’s a sign of smart continental politics with a clear message: this administration values democratic values above all else.

During the time I spent in Ghana, I could see the national growth that was occurring each and every day. The country looks and feels as if it’s booming. Restaurants and hotels are springing up and economic growth is steady. Although it is unlikely that the President took it in, Ghana also has a thriving club scene complete with some of the continent’s best music.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Ghana • Pres. Obama African Journey
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