August 24th, 2009
10:55 PM ET

After the storm: Rebuilding schools from the ground up

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/24/art.nola.fourth.anniv.education.jpg caption="Eighth grade students at Carver School, a public school in New Orleans."]

Sean Callebs
CNN Correspondent

Katrina washed away so much in New Orleans. Neighborhoods, homes, and lives.

It also washed away a horribly under-performing public education system, but is now giving the city a rare opportunity: the chance to rebuild public schools from the ground up.

Spend some time with 14-year-old Donnell Bailey and it is possible to see signs of improvement from what was once a broken school system.

By his own admission, Donnell was a lazy student. He failed the fourth grade and didn’t focus at all on his future.

Now, after four years of reform, he’s done so well in public school he just earned a scholarship to a $17,000-a-year private school.

He credits the teachers who came to the city in the aftermath of Katrina.

“The expectations were higher,” Bailey said. “My teachers expected me to live up to those expectations. So, the drive that my teachers gave me, it really pushed me up to that level.”


August 24th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 8/24/09

A paper bombshell exploded today when a Houston court released documents showing that Michael Jackson died of lethal levels of the powerful anesthetic propofol.

And that’s not all—the Associated Press is quoting a single law enforcement official, who says the L.A. County Coroner has ruled Michael Jackson's death a homicide.

We’ll have the latest on all of this breaking news.

The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into harsh questioning of detainees during President George W. Bush's war on terrorism.   We’ll dig deeper 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 $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
August 24th, 2009
09:30 PM ET

Excerpts: Before the Scalpel by Dr. Panchali Dhar

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Dr. Panchali Dhar
Before the Scalpel

Program note: Tonight, Dr. Panchali Dhar  will join us on AC360° at 10pm ET to discuss the Michael Jackson death investigation.  Dr. Dhar is an assistsant professor of clinical anesthesiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
Editor's note: Excerpted from Before the Scalpel, What Everyone Should Know About Anesthesia by Dr. Panchali Dhar. With permission of the publisher, Tell Me Press, Inc.


More than seventy million Americans undergo surgical procedures every year. By age fifty, the average person has already had at least three surgeries requiring anesthesia.

Don’t believe me? Think about it—even if you haven’t stepped foot in a hospital since you were born, you might have had your wisdom teeth removed by a dentist, a pesky mole whisked away by a dermatologist, or a broken arm set by a surgeon.

When a scalpel is involved, some form of anesthesia will be used. Anesthesia is also a part of diagnostic medical procedures that don’t involve an incision. Anesthesia makes people comfortable while undergoing surgery and diagnostic procedures.

It is important to understand the anesthetic process; otherwise, you may find yourself in the backseat of your medical care. My goal is to empower you to sit in the front seat of your care. We have all heard stories of things going catastrophically wrong during or after the time of surgical procedures—such as what occurred to author Olivia Goldsmith and to Donda West, the mother of musician Kanye West. Both women died, and the circumstances surrounding their deaths raised questions in our minds about the safety of surgery and anesthesia. These cases encourage us to learn more about the many factors that affect our medical care.

Then there are those frightening stories of people who were awake and aware during an operation—when their doctors believed they were unconscious. These cases are few and far between, but they certainly make us think about something awful happening to us or someone we love.

Like most people, you probably have many questions about anesthesia. Everyone knows what the surgeon does, but what about the anesthesia providers? Who are they? What do they do after putting you to sleep or sedating you? How vital is their work?

The public perception of anesthesiologists is of doctors who do something really important, but the details of their work are usually vague. The word “anesthesia” evokes both a sense of comfort (as you are relieved to know you won’t feel pain during surgery) and of fear (as you worry about the possibility that something can go wrong). Where can you learn to empower yourself and ask the right questions?

The answers are in this book. Before the Scalpel: What Everyone Should Know about Anesthesia is designed to help you, your friends, and your loved ones learn about anesthetic options and make more educated decisions. It will help you understand what anesthetic approaches are available today and which one is right for you.

After all, there is no cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all anesthetic that can be applied to everyone. Your medical history, body shape and size, physical health, and emotional needs are factors that must be taken into account when selecting a type of anesthetic.

Filed under: 360° Radar
August 24th, 2009
08:59 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Coroner says Michael Jackson overdosed on propofol

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Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

A paper bombshell exploded today when a Houston court released documents showing that Michael Jackson died of lethal levels of the powerful anesthetic propofol.

According to the search warrant and affidavit unsealed just hours ago, the Los Angeles coroner reached that conclusion after reviewing toxicology results from tests on Jackson’s blood. The documents are a window into the powerful mix of drugs Jackson was given in the hours leading up to his death. The warrant says Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson’s private doctor, told a detective he gave the singer three other medications to help Jackson sleep before finally administering 25 mg of propofol on the morning of June 25.

And that’s not all—the Associated Press is quoting a single law enforcement official, who says the L.A. County Coroner has ruled Michael Jackson's death a homicide. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office told CNN they had "no comment" on the report. An LAPD spokesman says the story did not come from their department.

We’ll have the latest on all of this breaking news.


Filed under: Cate Vojdik • The Buzz
August 24th, 2009
08:16 PM ET

Pres. Obama's vacation reading list

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/24/art.obamamv.gi.jpg caption="Obama plans to read five books on vacation, the White House said."]
CNN Political Ticker

The White House has said President Obama plans to play golf and spend time with his family during his week away from Washington.

But it appears the president also wants to get some reading in: a lot of it.

White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters Monday Obama's vacation reading list comprises five books, including tomes from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and historian David McCullough.

In all, the books on Obama's list total around 2,300 pages — meaning the president would have to read close to 300 pages each day of his week-long vacation to polish off the list.

Should Obama prefer to listen to the books on his iPod, four are available in audio format with a total running time of nearly 40 hours.

Full list according to the White House:

"The Way Home" by George Pelecanos
"Hot, Flat, and Crowded" by Thomas Friedman
"Lush Life" by Richard Price
"Plainsong" by Kent Haruf
"John Adams" by David McCullough

Keep reading...

Filed under: Barack Obama
August 24th, 2009
05:21 PM ET

Documents: Read Conrad Murray search warrant affadavits

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Singer Michael Jackson had lethal levels of the drug propofol in his blood when he died, according to court documents.

Los Angeles' coroner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran reached that preliminary conclusion after reviewing toxicology results carried out on Jackson's blood, according to an affidavit.

The drug Diprivan, known by its generic name propofol, is administered intravenously in operating rooms as a general anesthetic, the manufacturer AstraZeneca told CNN.

Go here to see the search warrant affadavits.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson
August 24th, 2009
04:34 PM ET

Beat 360° 8/24/09

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:

White House staff hold the Obama family dog, Bo, as it arrives at the Cape Cod Coast Guard Air Station on Martha's Vineyard on August 23, 2009.

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.



Julia Calzonetti

Bo Obama is arrested on the front lawn of his vacation home.


Andrea Garrett

My collar looks fine. Worry about those shoes you’re wearing!

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
August 24th, 2009
04:25 PM ET

Murder suspect dead; Reality TV continues to roam free

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/23/california.model.death/art.jasmine.split.jpg caption="Police were hunting for Ryan Alexander Jenkins after the death of Jasmine Fiore."]

James Poniewozik

Ryan Jenkins, the reality-dating-show contestant suspected in the murder of his model ex-wife, turned up dead of an apparent suicide in a Canadian motel. I'd been loath to write about the story, because while Jenkins' appearance on VH1's Megan Wants a Millionaire (hands up, who heard of it before the murder case?) provided a news hook and flashy headlines, it seemed incidental to the actual crime. I didn't want to either trivialize the murder or feed into some sensationalistic idea that reality TV somehow turned Jenkins into a killer.

As the story went on, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there wasn't as much "Did reality TV drive him to kill?" coverage as I would have thought there might be. I suspect that five or six years ago it might have been different—back when reality TV was in full-on pop-culture-craze mode and was therefore more of a go-to social bogeyman.

Brian Stelter in the New York Times did do an interesting story on the Jenkins case, raising the question about whether VH1, and other reality show makers, do an adequate job of psychologically screening their casts. That's an important consideration, for the networks and for the well-being of the people who do their shows. The unsettling fact is that unstable people with aggressive natures or visions of grandeur are drawn to fame, and thus, to reality TV.

Keep Reading...

August 24th, 2009
03:08 PM ET

Declassifed documents show interrogation tactics

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Interrogation or Torture?

The U.S. Justice Department released former top secret documents that outline interrogration tactics the Bush administration allowed to be used on al Qaeda operatives. Click below to learn about three of the tactics.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Guantanomo Bay
August 24th, 2009
02:27 PM ET

Five questions for the CIA IG's interrogation report

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Bobby Ghosh

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of the Bush Administration might have had a tense weekend. After months of delay and controversy, the Obama Administration is expected on Monday to declassify the 2004 CIA inspector general's report into the agency's interrogation program. Cheney, the most prominent of several Bush-era officials who have vociferously defended the program, faces either vindication or more vilification.

Over the past two days news reports have quoted unnamed officials as saying the IG's findings include instances where CIA interrogators used power drills and even a gun to threaten a detainee; on another occasion, as first reported by Newsweek, they allegedly staged a mock execution. If true, these tactics would go well beyond the coercive techniques permitted by the Bush Administration's legal counsel.


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