July 17th, 2009
10:54 AM ET

Morning Buzz: President Obama's African Journey

[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."]

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Explosions tore through two luxury hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia early this morning. Indonesian authorities think two suicide bombers carried out and coordinated the bombings – at the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels.

The attacks killed at least eight people, including the bombers, and wounded more than 50 others. It’s still unclear what group is behind the plan, but several witnesses have been detained for questioning and forensic evidence is being tested. We’ll have the latest details on what exactly happened and who might be responsible tonight.

The explosions come as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Mumbai this morning, kicking off a week-long trip to India and Thailand. According to the State Dept., the purpose of Clinton’s visit to India is to “broaden and strengthen the strategic partnership between the U.S. and India.” Leaders are expected to talk about issues like climate change and nonproliferation – but it’s probably a safe bet that Pakistan will come up at least once or twice.

David Mattingly is in Florida where authorities have located “valuable evidence,” including a stolen safe and several guns, in the investigation into the slaying of Byrd and Melanie Billings in their home last week. Funerals for the couple, known for adopting special-needs children, will be held today. Police believe one of the guns located was used to kill them.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan says he has three more “persons of interest,” in the case, but he tells CNN that only one of those people may be arrested and that it could “take place sometime next week.” Sheriff Morgan will be on tonight to give us an update on the case.

And because of the breaking news out of Jakarta, we weren’t able to air Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s report from Haiti last night. He tells us more about what many consider to be modern-day slavery in this Caribbean country. Sanjay went to look into the lives of Restaveks – young children whose poverty-stricken parents send them to live with families in urban areas. The children work as domestic servants in exchange for food and shelter. But the reality for the majority of these children is grim. Watch his report about the Restaveks – and what is being done to help them – tonight.

At 11 p.m. we have an AC360° special, “President Obama’s African Journey.” This is an exclusive look at the first African-American president’s first official visit to his ancestral homeland. It was a symbolic trip that reinforced America’s commitment to the continent. Anderson was there with the President and looks back on the powerful moments from the Obama family’s journey to Africa. The special will show parts of their conversation, as well as a piece on Michelle Obama’s slave roots in South Carolina. This powerful special will air on Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. too.

Let us know what else you’re following today and see you at 10 p.m. ET!

Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Looking forward to the African special as well as more details on the Billings murders. I hope that sometime the authorities will disclose why the parents were killed and none of the children were even though they saw the killers. If the killers were trying to get rid of witnesses why did they only shoot the parents instead of everyone that saw them? It almost seems as though the killing of the parents was part of the overall plan to begin with. And if that is so why?

    July 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  2. Marilyn McGinley

    Are you ever going to air the Saberi interview???????

    July 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  3. Cindy

    God...how many people were in on that Fla. killing? It seems like a whole army! You would think with that many people that they would have had sense enough to know about the security videos!

    Sad to hear of the bombings and deaths in Jakarta. These days it seems the only safe place you can be at is in your own home.

    So is the special at 10 or 11? Here it says 11 but on the front page it says 10. Y'all need to fix that.


    July 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  4. Tammy, Houma, LA

    The explosions were horrible. And scary. My thoughts and prayers have been with those affected by this. I often think when I travel that I am safer staying in the luxury hotels (or at least have more comforts of home available). I never really viewed it as being more of a target. Oh well. Still not giving up those hotels because of a few terrorists.

    I cannot imagine what the children of this couple in FL are enduring today. How sad of a time to be burying both parents at once to something so horrific. I am looking forward to finding out what sort of evil causes people to kill those who were so good to the rest of humanity.

    Looking forward to the special on the trip to Africa. Something worth watching (and maybe purchasing to use as a supplemental when I teach my high school kids Maya Angelou's piece on her visit to Cape Coast Castle).

    July 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  5. Debbie

    With the state that our country is in now, why is President Obama using our tax dollars to tour Africa? Shouldn't his concern be focused on what is happening now in The United States of America?

    July 17, 2009 at 11:47 am |