July 22nd, 2009
10:47 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 07/22/09

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Tonight we'll have all the angles on Pres. Obama's news conference. Will his health care plan not boost the deficit as he insists? We're keeping them honest. And, we have the raw politics on the showdown that's expected on Capitol Hill over the bill that's in the works. We have what it means for you and your family.

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
July 22nd, 2009
09:58 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Fixing Health Care?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/21/health.reform/art.obama1.gi.jpg caption= "President Obama is urging Congress to move quickly to pass comprehensive health care reform."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Did you see Pres. Obama's news conference tonight? The big focus was on his health care push. There's a lot of concern from Republicans and some Democrats over the price tag. Pres. Obama stressed again tonight that the plan will "not add to our deficit."

Mr. Obama also addressed why he's hoping to get a bill passed on Capitol Hill sooner rather than later.  "This debate is about the letters I read when I sit in the Oval Office every day, and the stories I hear at town hall meetings," he said. "This is about every family, every business, and every taxpayer who continues to shoulder the burden of a problem that Washington has failed to solve for decades."

Here's Pres. Obama's pledge to you: "We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we will do it this year." And, he says it's important to get it right. The President says he won't sign a bill that adds to the deficit or a bill that won't save you money.

We'll have the highlights from the news conference and we're keeping them honest. Do the numbers add up? Will this plan not add to the deficit? And can everyone truly get health coverage? Tom Foreman separates the hype from the facts.

If you got a chance to watch the news conference tonight what do you think of the presidential pitch? Are you now sold on the plan or do you still have questions. We'll be playing extended portions of his message tonight to help you decide.

Our coverage starts at 11pm ET following CNN's special report "Black in America 2: America's Leaders." And we'll continue part of that conversation tonight with new details on the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates. He spoke out for the first time only on CNN tonight. Hear what he has to say about the actions of a Cambridge police officer. Will Gates be taking legal action claiming racial profiling? We'll have that angle for you tonight. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct after breaking into his own home, but the charges have been dropped. And, the city has called the case "regrettable." Is that enough or should the city and police department say more?

Also tonight, some lighter fare for you. If you think politics can get ugly here in the U.S. wait until you see the big fight in the South Korean parliament. The WWE may have met its match. The video is priceless. It shows lawmakers on the attack, going for choke holds and throwing punches. Even women got into the melee. It's tonight's shot.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at a later time - 11pm ET. We hope you'll stay up and join us.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
July 22nd, 2009
06:16 PM ET

Michael Jackson’s last days: The comeback that never was

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Program Note: For the latest on the fallout from the death of the King of Pop, including today's raid of Jackson's former doctor Conrad Murray's offices, tune in to AC360° tonight at 11p ET.
Rolling Stone

In the days just before his death, Michael Jackson was working harder than he ever had in hopes of staging “the greatest show on Earth” according to our latest cover story.

Claire Hoffman retraced the pop icon’s final moments for “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, and found that Jackson was well aware of how the public came to perceive him in recent years and that he had fully dedicated himself to a comeback tour that he hoped would erase that perception.

“He wanted people to see his work and not just talk about his lifestyle,” AEG CEO Randy Phillips tells Hoffman in her cover story.


Watch video of Hoffman describing her writing process and feelings about Jackson

Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson
July 22nd, 2009
05:22 PM ET

Beat 360º 7/22/09

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:

US Vice President Joe Biden and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili gesture toward the ceiling at the presidential residence in Tbilisi. Biden arrived in Georgia on a mission to reassure the ex-Soviet state of continued US support as Washington seeks to retool its approach to Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbors. (Photo credit: VANO SHLAMOV/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.


Staff Winner:

Gary Tuchman

An international custom: politicians holding their fingers to the wind.

Viewer Winner:

Seth, Philadelphia, PA

Joe Biden and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili share a moment while listening to Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.”

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
July 22nd, 2009
04:31 PM ET

My Daddy, the Jailbird

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/07/21/massachusetts.harvard.professor.arrested/art.gates.demotix.jpg caption="Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested last week on a charge of disorderly conduct."]
Elizabeth Gates
For The Daily Beast

Earlier this week, my father was wrongly accused of breaking into his own home. We had just returned from China, and he had flown from New York to Boston to prepare for a few days rest on Martha’s Vineyard. As my father was settling in, a police officer named Sgt. James Crowley showed up at his home.

Sgt. Crowley said he was responding to a call from a woman who described two black men breaking into her neighbors’ home with backpacks on. He demanded to see proof of residency and my father showed him both his Harvard ID and his state ID without hesitation. Shortly afterward, a miscommunication ensued, and my father was handcuffed and taken to jail. Our family is both saddened and outraged at this, and as I watched his mug shot scroll across various news stations last night, I couldn’t help but wonder what he was experiencing.

Daddy, how did it feel to read in the police report that although you had been cooperative with Sgt. Crowley, while he was standing uninvited in your home, that your behavior had been reduced to “loud and tumultuous” after asking to see to his badge? Were you surprised at the inaccuracy of the police report?


Filed under: 360° Radar
July 22nd, 2009
04:25 PM ET

A steep climb for Obama

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David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Heading toward a showdown on his top domestic priority - and possibly the linchpin to his presidency - Barack Obama carries two handicaps into his prime time press conference tonight.

First, he does not yet have a fully formed health care plan to "sell" to the country. Ordinarily, a president trying to persuade the public on a contentious issue has a firm plan to present in prime time. But the nature of the process in health care has meant that five different Congressional committees are working on ideas - and two of the most influential have not even reported yet on their recommendations.

As a result, the President is left to rail against the status quo - and he does this with great persuasiveness - but he is unable to bring his much respected oratorical power to bear on convincing people exactly what to do to fix things.


July 22nd, 2009
03:56 PM ET

Interactive Graphic: Explore the Black in America 2 stories

Program Note: In CNN's Black in America 2, Soledad O'Brien reports on the innovative and unexpected ways people are transforming the black experience by confronting the most difficult issues facing their community. Tune in on Wednesday, July 22 at 9 p.m. and Thursday, July 23 at 8 p.m..

Black in America 2

The African-American journey includes public struggles and private decisions, epic events and personal stories. In that intersection of ordinary life and the stuff of history books lies the journey of a people.

Begin the journey >>

Filed under: 360° Radar • Black in America
July 22nd, 2009
03:03 PM ET

Summer pet owner stress....and goodbye to a famous dog

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/22/art.chihuahua.jpg caption="Gidget, the Chihuahua best known for her Taco Bell ad campaign, died from a stroke on Tuesday night at age 15."]

David Puente
AC360° Producer

I got sad news today from Peoplepets.com about a famous Chihuahua.

I was already feeling sensitive. I'm sure many of you pet owners will understand. I'm getting ready to go on vacation for a couple of weeks and that pre-separation anxiety is on high. I'll be in Europe and the Middle East and bringing Luc, my 10 year-old Cockapoo, isn't really an option. I'm lucky that I have friends – the Fernandez Family – who have known and loved him since he was a puppy, and they agree to watch him every time I travel.

Unfortunately during the summer holidays, pounds and shelters usually see a spike in the number of pets abandoned. It seems that some people go on vacation and actually throw their pets out. Needless to say there are other solutions. Friends have helped me and Luc but what options do you use when you're on the road? Who's the best pet watcher? Friends? Home-pet sitters? Pet friendly hotels?

All this came to mind after hearing that Gidget, or Gidgey – apparently there were different Hollywood spellings of her name – the Chihuahua best known for her Taco Bell ad campaign ("Yo Quiero Taco Bell"), died from a stroke on Tuesday night at age 15.


July 22nd, 2009
01:48 PM ET

What would David Beckham’s abs do?

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Jack Gray
AC360° Producer/Writer

You can only take your health for granted for so long. Never one to have been a fanatic about blood pressure and cholesterol, I’ve lately become somewhat of a gym rat, unyielding in my devotion to physical fitness unless there’s a compelling reason to stay home…like it’s cloudy outside or I’m watching The View.

I’m not entirely sure what prompted this renewed interest in my overpriced club membership. Perhaps, selfishly, it has something to do with my recent beach vacation – a coconut rum-fueled derailment of self-esteem if there ever was one. Or maybe I’ve realized – amid all the talk about health care reform – that, although I’m one of the fortunate ones who currently have coverage, there are no guarantees in life.

I suppose it’s a byproduct of me trying to accept that if – at age 28 – I’m not as healthy as I could be…well, I have no one to blame but myself: I used to smoke and have been known to enjoy a drink or five. And I’ve tried, with varying degrees of success, to end my love affair with chicken fingers. Though, frankly, I’m not sure I want to live in a world without breaded poultry.


July 22nd, 2009
01:40 PM ET

Professor arrested for 'housing while black'

Program Note: In CNN's Black in America 2, Soledad O'Brien reports on the innovative and unexpected ways people are transforming the black experience by confronting the most difficult issues facing their community. Tune in on Wednesday, July 22 at 9 p.m. and Thursday, July 23 at 8 p.m..

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/22/gates.arrest.reaction/art.gates.demotix.jpg caption="Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested last week on a charge of disorderly conduct."]

Michael Eric Dyson
Special to CNN

Last Thursday, President Obama, in his fiery speech before the NAACP Convention, admitted that "an African-American child is roughly five times as likely as a white child to see the inside of a prison."

But he surely couldn't have imagined that only a couple of hours before his oration, one of America's most prominent scholars - and a distinguished professor at Obama's alma mater, Harvard University - would breathe cruel and ironic life into that sad statistic.

Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. is simply the most powerful and influential black scholar in our nation's history.

He received a doctorate at Cambridge University long before the culture wars became au courant; he was among the first group of figures to receive a MacArthur "Genius Award" Fellowship; he wrote the finest work of literary criticism in a generation with "Signifying Monkey"; he was named by Time magazine as one of the "25 Most Influential Americans"; he has a boatload of honorary degrees; and he has been a ubiquitous media presence and thoughtful interpreter of race and culture for a quarter-century.

But none of that made a bit of difference when Gates returned from a research trip to China to find the front door to his Harvard-owned house jammed and enlisted the assistance of his driver to muscle the door loose.


Filed under: Black in America
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