July 16th, 2009
10:50 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Jakarta hotel bombings

Sources are reporting two luxury hotels in downtown Jakarta, Indonesia were bombed Friday afternoon, killing at least nine people. These photos came from Adi Handoyo, who lives in a high rise not far from the Ritz Carlton, one of the hotels that was bombed.

Filed under: 360° Radar
July 16th, 2009
10:00 PM ET

Witnesses: Explosions hit two Jakarta hotels

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/16/jakarta4small.jpg" caption="One witness captured the smoke rising above downtown Jakarta from the Ritz Carlton being bombed."]


Explosions tore through two luxury hotels Friday morning in south Jakarta, Indonesia.

Police sealed off the area around both blasts, one of which occurred in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and the other at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, about 50 meters away, about 7:15 a.m.

"There was a boom and the building shook, and then subsequently two more," said hotel guest Don Hammer, who was leaving his room in the Marriott when the blast occurred. "The shocking part was entering the lobby, where the glass at the front of the hotel was all blown out and blood was spattered across the floor, but most people were leaving calmly."

Witnesses said they saw at least three people being carried away on stretchers. Greg Woolstencroft had just walked past the hotels to his nearby apartment when he heard an explosion.


Filed under: 360° Radar
July 16th, 2009
09:42 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 07/16/09

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

We're working on breaking news. There's word of a explosion at a luxury hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. We'll have the latest details for you tonight.

Want to know what else we're covering? 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 16th, 2009
09:39 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Florida Couple Murdered

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/07/16/florida.couple.killed/art.billings.entrance.cnn.jpg caption= "Friends left notes of mourning at the entrance of the Billings' home Thursday in Beulah, Florida."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

We have new details on the murder of the Florida couple who adopted more than a dozen children with special needs. Investigators say they've located "valuable evidence," including a stolen safe and several guns. Seven people - one of them a 16-year-old - are charged with killing Byrd and Melanie Billings. An eighth person, Pamela Long Wiggins, faces charges of accessory after the fact of felony murder. Tonight on 360°, Anderson will talk with Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan.

Also tonight, President Obama sounding more like candidate Obama as he addresses the NAACP convention here in New York. We'll play large portions of his message. "The pain of discrimination is still felt in America," he said as he helped mark the organization's 100th convention. He also had a tough love message for those in attendance as he talked about the greater odds for African-Americans to grow up amid crime and gangs. "That's not a reason to get bad grades, that's not a reason to cut class, that's not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school," he said.

And, new insight on the possible fate of Michael Jackson's children. There's word that they could end up with their Aunt Janet.

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

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
July 16th, 2009
07:16 PM ET

Clinton again rips into vetting process

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/15/clinton.speech/art.clintonspeech.gi.jpg" caption="Sec. Clinton believes 'frustrating' and lengthy vetting is hurting diplomatic relations."]

Jill Dougherty
CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Behind the scenes they’re tearing out their hair.

Nominees for top positions in the Obama administration say they are put on seemingly endless hold for months during the “vetting” process, forced to provide minute details of their financial, personal and professional lives going back years. Many have to hire lawyers and accountants – paid for with their own money – to compile the information. Some nominees have simply given up in frustration.

Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it’s affecting U.S. diplomatic relations.

“It’s hard to explain in my position to our foreign counterparts that we don’t have positions filled that would be the natural interlocutors or their counterparts in other countries.”

It’s the third time this week the Secretary has lambasted the process. Monday, she called it “frustrating beyond words,” telling staff at the U.S. Agency for International Development who still don’t have a new administrator, the process is a “nightmare.”


July 16th, 2009
06:59 PM ET

Growing threats of cyber attacks in the U.S.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/07/08/government.hacking/art.computer.gi.afp.jpg caption="Government and private Web sites were recently hit in a cyberattack"]

Suvro Banerji
AC360° Intern

The United States government faces an increasingly formidable threat: a cyber attack.

The term ‘cyber attack’ is used to define the use of computers and the internet to conduct “warfare,” or attacks, in cyberspace. Cyber-attacks use the global computer network to cross international boundaries with ease. Critical infrastructures such as gas, water and propane lines, power grids and chemical manufacturing systems can be easily accessed from a remote location via cyber space. An enemy could potentially infiltrate these systems and manipulate them without even getting caught. In some cases, they may even cause physical damage.

In the past few weeks, The White House, the Pentagon and State Department joined a roster of large corporations such as the New York Stock Exchange and Yahoo Finance that have been threatened with cyber-attacks since the 4th of July. The Department of Treasury and Federal Trade Commission websites were shut down because of these attacks. The Pentagon and the White House, however, faced little disruption.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Pentagon • President Barack Obama • Technology
July 16th, 2009
06:30 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Returning to Ghana

Editor's Note: African Americans moving back to Africa choose to relocated to Ghana more than any other country on the continent. Tonight on AC360°, we talk with African Americans who have moved back to Ghana to hear their stories.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Africa • Ghana • Pres. Obama African Journey
July 16th, 2009
06:22 PM ET

Michael Jackson's unreleased song

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/16/jackson.music.unreleased/art.new.jackson.music.gi.jpg" caption="Rumors are swirling that new Michael Jackson material could soon be released."]


We've just obtained the track for an unreleased song Michael Jackson recorded.

The song - "A Place with No Name" - sounds similar to the song "A Horse with No Name" released by the group America back in 1971. We're told several years ago America's manager gave his group's permission for Jackson to record the song, "A Place with No Name" - despite the similarity.

Filed under: Beyond 360 • Michael Jackson
July 16th, 2009
06:02 PM ET

If China had drawn some stupid cartoons instead…

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/13/china.uyghur.deaths/art.police.afp.jpg" caption="Police brutality in China killed two ethnic Uighurs earlier this week."]

Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Founder, TheMuslimGuy.com

The recent violence in China’s western Xinjiang province has been called the ““worst civil turmoil since 1989.” This human rights catastrophe has led to the deaths of nearly 200 Uighur ethnic Muslims in the region.

But what if rather than cracking down on the Uighurs, China had drawn sophomorically offensive cartoons (a la Danish newspapers circa December 2005) instead? This different approach probably (and sadly) may have inspired a more global outcry from the greater Muslim world.

Not since the now infamous Tiananmen Square tragedy of 1989 has the world seen such civil turmoil inside China. The tension revolves around the fulcrum of ethnic identity, societal discrimination and flat-out racism between the predominant ethnic majority Han Chinese (from the eastern parts of China) and minority ethnic Uighur Muslim populations indigenous to Xinjiang province along China’s western frontier.

Xinjiang is a massive western region that accounts for nearly one-sixth of China’s total land area. And it is home to the majority of the Uighurs in China. At its height in the 9th century, the Uighur empire stretched from the Caspian Sea into eastern China. The Uighurs also managed to establish independent republics twice during the 20th century before being annexed by the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Since then, the Chinese government has actively promoted the migration of the dominant Han Chinese to Xinjiang, and since the 1950’s the region's ethnic Han community has grown from 5 to 40 percent of the region's total population.

Although the region has seen enormous economic growth in recent years, local Uighurs have become increasingly resentful of Beijing’s political and economic control. After an Uighur uprising in 1990, for example, the Communist Party took steps to accelerate the integration of Xinjiang into China by stepping up migration into the area and increasing the security presence of baton-wielding police forces. It took control over freedom of religion in the region as well.

According to BBC World News,, Chinese authorities say more than 140 people have been killed and hundreds more wounded in riots in the mainly Muslim region since protests erupted last month. According to a recent article in Newsweek magazine in June, a resentful laborer spread rumors that Uighurs had raped two Han Chinese women, leading a vengeful Han mob to attack Uighur workers. When authorities were slow to the arrest the attackers, Uighurs in Xinjiang took to the streets in protest.

Moises Naim recently noted in Foreign Policy, that “…In different countries, mullahs, imams, and assorted [Muslim] clerics have found the time to issue fatwas [religious decrees] condemning among other practices, Pokémon cartoons, total nudity during sex for married couples, and the use of vaccines against polio, not to mention Salman Rushdie. They have yet to find the time to say anything about China's practices toward Uighurs…”

Prominent Uighur Muslims like Rebiya Kadeer (who was once celebrated by the Chinese government as the richest woman in China) have been vocal against the Chinese government’s policies of what they consider to be discrimination for years, saying that its policies “keep many Uighurs poor and badly educated.”

Outside of China’s borders, however, there has been scant coverage of the violence. And the greater Muslim world has been largely silent on the human-rights abuses taking place in the region.

One reason for this large silence may be that most people have never heard of Uighurs before. Since they are not Arab, it is not surprising that their plight is not within the current zeitgeist radar of the greater Muslim and Arab world.

Furthermore, an even more sobering thought occurs when one thinks that perhaps if the Uighurs were not Muslim we may have seen more media coverage of their situation. What would the American evangelical Republican apparatchik do if the Uighurs were Christians? We can assume that they might be indignant towards China and their continued human-rights abuses against the Uighurs.

Either way, sadly, if the Chinese government had drawn some moronic newspaper cartoons instead, we might have heard some more global condemnations (from all sides of the global political velvet rope) on these blatant human-rights violations occurring on our global watch today in China.

Editor’s Note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, contributor for True/Slant, founder of www.TheMuslimGuy.com and contributing editor for Islamica Magazine in Washington.

Filed under: Arsalan Iftikhar • China • Human Rights
July 16th, 2009
05:42 PM ET

Valuable evidence found in slaying of Florida couple

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/07/16/florida.couple.killed/art.billings.entrance.cnn.jpg" caption="Friends left notes of mourning at the entrance of the Billings' home Thursday in Beulah, Florida."]


Authorities have located valuable evidence, including a stolen safe and several guns, in the slaying of a Florida couple who had adopted 13 children, a state attorney said Thursday.

1 of 2 Bill Eddins said the safe had been taken from the couple's home. He said authorities found several guns, including one they believe was used to kill Byrd and Melanie Billings.

The two were shot to death July 9 in their Beulah, Florida, home with nine of their children present.

"In our opinion this was a home invasion-robbery where the people stole a safe and we recovered the safe," Eddins told reporters at a news conference. "I personally ... think it is as simple as that in terms of the motive."

Sheriff David Morgan of Escambia County, Florida, said authorities do not believe that anything else is missing from the Billingses' home.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment
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