August 4th, 2009
09:47 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 08/04/09

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We're just getting word of a deadly shooting at a health club near Pittsburgh. There are reports of several deaths. We'll have the breaking details for you tonight on AC360°. Plus, coming home. Two Americans freed from a North Korean prison with help from former President Bill Clinton.

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 $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
August 4th, 2009
07:43 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Americans Freed, Coming Home

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/04/nkorea.clinton/art.clinton.il.afp.gi.jpg caption="Former President Clinton meets Tuesday with North Korea leader Kim Jong Il."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Forget about 12 years of hard labor. American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee are heading home tonight aboard a private plane with former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Clinton helped win their release from North Korea. Just what was his role? We'll have that for you.

Also tonight, a Boston police officer claims his civil rights have been violated after being suspended for using a racial slur to describe black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. Officer Justin Barrett claims he's the victim. He says comments by the mayor and police commissioner have damaged his reputation. Do you agree? You'll hear Officer Barrett's side of the story.

And, the Mason murders 40 years later. Tonight we continue our week-long report on one of the shocking crimes of the 20th century. You may recall Charles Manson and his so-called family killed seven people. We'll look at the killers then and now. Should they be freed?

Join us for these stories, plus the shot of the day and more starting at 10pm ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
August 4th, 2009
07:01 PM ET

Excerpts: Crackpot by John Waters

Program Note: Tonight, filmmaker John Waters joins us on AC360º at 10 P.M. ET to discuss his friendship with Leslie Van Houten, a former member of the Manson's Family for our week-long special on the Manson murders. Below are excerpts from his book Crackpot.

Editors Note: Excerpted from Crackpot, by John Waters. Copyright © 1983, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 by John Waters.  Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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Page 157

I’m sick of celebrities. You know who imean. I can’t even bear to say their names out loud. Read my lips: the one who shaved her armpits and got married under a helicopter attack. Or the one who appeared nude in playgirl magazine and didn’t cause a stink because he was a man and had the biggest screen hit of the year. Or the singer with the fright wig and the comeback, who was much more fun in the old days when she had a mustache and processed hair, wore ratty fur coats, and sang “Don’t Play Me cheap.” Or the other old one who was a hunk manager-husband and wants more money to continue on that nighttime soap opera. Or even the little guy –the one with ants in his pants and too many bodyguards who insulted Liz Taylor. The list goes on and on. You know who they are – overexposed, almost generic faces who have become as predictable as winter’s first set of chapped lips.

There’s just not enough celebrities to go around. After they’ve made it to the top, we all know it’s downhill from the on. Why bother rooting for them any longer? Look what happened to poor Michael Jackson – no self-respecting thirteen year old would be caught dead wearing one glove these days. Once you’ve become hard news (especially if you make the cover of Time or Newsweek), who cares? You’re no longer delightful to anyone. We must be creative and make up our own celebrities, elevating the obscurely fabulous and turning them into household words in our communities.

Page 162

If you just pay attention to your own backyard, you’d realize that scandal is everywhere. If one of your parents is an alcoholic – well, isn’t that as exciting as reading about Liza Minnelli? Start spreading the news to all your friends and watch your profile rise in the neighborhood. Is your thirteen year-old sister an unwed mother? Cheer up, so is Farrah Fawcett, and she doesn’t care. Hang a sign on the front of your house pposting the number of days left until the birth and update it daily. You watch – people who barely spoke to you before willb e falling all over themselves to take her to the hospital.

Nobody has a boring life when you get down to it. Isnt’ your own existence much more interesting than anyone else’s? look in the mirror and see yourself in a whole different light. It will all happen to you eventually: divorce, complicated operations, addictions of one sort or another, even death. It’s lonely at the bottom as well as the top. You’re a big celebrity, and you never even realized it. Go tell somebody. Quickly.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
August 4th, 2009
05:03 PM ET

What North Korea wants

Editor's Note: Victor Cha was director of Asian affairs at the White House during the Bush administration. He visited Pyongyang with Governor Bill Richardson back in 2007. Cha spoke to Kiran Chetry on American Morning Tuesday.

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/04/clinton.northkorea.gi.art.jpg" caption="Former US president Bill Clinton arrives at Pyongyang airport."]

Q&A with Victor Cha
CNN American Morning

Kiran Chetry: Drawing on your experience and extensive knowledge of North Korea, what might be going on in these negotiations with Korean leaders and our former President Bill Clinton?

Victor Cha: Well, I think for the North Koreans … receiving a former head of state gives them a lot of face, political face, which is important to the country and to their leadership. I would imagine that the former president is there solely for the purpose of trying to bring back these two Americans. And he’s probably engaging in discussions with the Foreign Ministry as well as with some members of the party, perhaps even the dear leader himself to secure the release of these Americans as a humanitarian gesture by the North Korean government.

Chetry: We’ve heard the rhetoric ratcheted up recently, the long-range missile firings, the censure of North Korea by the United Nations, nuclear talks, pulling out of the six-party talks. What does it say about North Korea’s influence on the world stage if they’re finally getting a former U.S. president to visit them, but it’s only after detaining two American journalists?

Cha: Well, I mean it doesn’t say a lot in terms of their reputation around the world, clearly. You know, but for them, former President Clinton is very credible for them because he as president considered very seriously going to North Korea in his last few days or weeks in office. So, for the North Koreans to receive him, I think they see that as a really big deal for them. And hopefully that will be enough to get them – get the two Americans released. But overall, in terms of their reputation around the world, it certainly doesn’t do them any good.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bill Clinton • North Korea
August 4th, 2009
04:56 PM ET

Clinton to North Korea - a matter of respect

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/04/clinton.analysis/art.clinton.gi.jpg caption="President Bill Clinton arrives to a warm welcome in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Tuesday."]
Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer

Bill Clinton's trip to North Korea was the culmination of weeks of quiet diplomacy with Pyongyang and subtle public statements aimed at freeing American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

Having secured the journalists' release, will the trip eventually coax North Korea back to the negotiating table?

There was no shortage of envoys ready to travel to North Korea and negotiate the women's release.

Some heavyweights were turned down by the North Koreans: former Vice President Al Gore, a co-founder of the media outfit the women were working for when they were arrested, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations whose previous missions to North Korea included negotiating the release of a detained American.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • North Korea
August 4th, 2009
04:50 PM ET

Beat 360° 8/4/09

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:

Impersonator Jesse Volt, actress Joan Rivers, Gary Dee and Joe Posa promote the TV Land PRIME series 'How'd You Get So Rich?' at the CBS Early Show Studio Plaza in New York City. (Photo Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/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.



Joey Gardner

I am smiling.


Anne, Toronto

Successful networking at a plastic surgery support group in Manhattan.

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
August 4th, 2009
04:33 PM ET

Statement from families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/04/nkorea.clinton/art.korea.afp.gi.jpg caption="Supporters rally for U.S. journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling on June 4 in Seoul, South Korea."]
From the 'Free Laura Ling and Euna Lee' website':

The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are overjoyed by the news of their pardon. We are so grateful to our government: President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of American citizens.

We especially want to thank President Bill Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home. We must also thank all the people who have supported our families through this ordeal, it has meant the world to us. We are counting the seconds to hold Laura and Euna in our arms.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • North Korea
August 4th, 2009
04:14 PM ET

Cue the "unofficial" official

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Candy Crowley | BIO
CNN Senior Political Correspondent

Long time no blog. Life is the teensiest bit nutty Chez Crowley but I’ve missed you. And I couldn’t pass up a chat about the story du jour (I’m feeling a little French today).

Anyway, so former President BiIl Clinton is on a mission in North Korea to free those two American journalists sentenced to hard labor. My fave part of the story so far is Robert Gibbs (White House Spokesman) saying this is a “solely private mission.” Um. Ok.

You think Washington-speak is Sanskrit? Try diplo-speak. This is how the game plays out. North Korea wants two things a) admission of guilt by the two women. You’ve pretty much seen that along with some mumblings about how everybody is very sorry about the situation from Secretary of State Clinton (not to be confused with mission-head Bill Clinton). You think she talked to him about his “solely private mission”? Me too.

And b) North Korea wants some respect. The two countries don’t have diplomatic relations, and the Obama administration is in no mood anyway. In his first several months in office, the President’s outstretched hand was greeted by two, three or eight –who’s counting—missile launches from North Korea. Provocative, but lame.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Bill Clinton • Candy Crowley • Raw Politics
August 4th, 2009
03:54 PM ET

Kim Jong Il pardons and releases 2 U.S. journalists

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/04/nkorea.clinton/art.clinton.07.nk.jpg caption="President Clinton met Tuesday with North Korea leader Kim Jong Il."]


North Korean President Kim Jong Il has pardoned and ordered the release of two U.S. journalists, state-run news agency KCNA said Wednesday.

The announcement came after former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with top North Korean officials in Pyongyang to appeal for the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been arrested while reporting from the border between North Korea and China.

"Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it," the news agency reported. "Clinton courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.

"The meetings had candid and in-depth discussions on the pending issues between the DPRK and the U.S. in a sincere atmosphere and reached a consensus of views on seeking a negotiated settlement of them."

The report said Clinton then conveyed a message from President Obama "expressing profound thanks for this and reflecting views on ways of improving the relations between the two countries."

It added, "The measure taken to release the American journalists is a manifestation of the DPRK's humanitarian and peace-loving policy.

"The DPRK visit of Clinton and his party will contribute to deepening the understanding between the DPRK and the U.S. and building the bilateral confidence."

DPRK is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the nation's official name.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • North Korea
August 4th, 2009
01:45 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Housing picture keeps improving

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

More Americans signed sales contracts to buy homes in June than in the previous month - another encouraging sign for the embattled housing market.

The National Association of Realtors says its Pending Home Sales Index rose 3.6% in June. That’s the fifth straight month of increases and the longest monthly winning streak since July 2003.

The report followed several other recent pieces of good news for the housing industry, including a substantial rise in new home sales, a jump in existing home sales and the first home price increase in nearly three years.

The Pending Home Sales Index tracks signed contracts to purchase previously-owned homes and is considered a barometer for future home sales. Typically there is a one- to two- month lag between a sales contract and a completed deal.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Finance • Housing Market
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