September 4th, 2009
10:09 PM ET
September 4th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 09/04/09

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We have breaking developments in the mass killing in Georgia. One man is accused of killing eight people. He's also the one who called 911 pleading for help.  Plus, presidential lesson or pure propaganda? More uproar over Pres. Obama's speech to school children next week.

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
September 4th, 2009
08:25 PM ET

The Afghan Phoenix

Program Note: For more on Afghanistan follow AC360° and ac360.com all next week. Anderson Cooper will be reporting live from Afghanistan and will be joined by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Michael Ware and Peter Bergen.

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Peter Bergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN National Security Analyst

The first surprise is Kabul airport. The new terminal - “a gift of the people of Japan” - appears to have been airlifted in from a small American city; light-filled, modern and staffed by young men in uniforms of khaki pants and blue shirts who politely answer travelers’ questions as they direct traffic through the quiet, marble halls of the terminal.

This is quite a change from the old Kabul airport terminal, which was not much more than a big shed that broiled in summer and froze in winter with one wheezing baggage belt disgorging luggage to a chaotic press of travelers.

I have visited the Kabul airport since 1993 and it has been an accurate barometer of Afghanistan’s shifting fortunes. In the mid-90s the country was in the grip of a civil war in which hundreds of thousands died and the airport of the capital was littered with the carcasses of airplanes large and small that had crashed on landing or takeoff during the past decade-plus of war.

Under the Taliban - whose fantasies about establishing a 7th century utopia here on earth did not extend to the simplest acts of real governance - no effort was made to clear up this mess. Once their regime fell in 2001, gradually the rusting hulks of the crashed planes were cleared from the runways.

Then came the mine sweepers. Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world and the strategically significant Kabul airport was mined particularly heavily. It took years for the mine sweepers to clear the airport runways but now they are long gone, as they are from much of the country.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan • Peter Bergen
September 4th, 2009
07:45 PM ET

Organ Donation: How you can help

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The United Network for Organ Sharing

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is a non-profit, scientific and educational organization that administers the nation's only Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), established by the U.S. Congress in 1984.

It is responsible for the following:

* collect and manage data about every transplant event occurring in the United States
* facilitate the organ matching and placement process using UNOS-developed data technology and the UNOS Organ Center
* bring together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy

Go here to learn more about the organization and to find out how you can help.

Filed under: Organ Transplant
September 4th, 2009
07:03 PM ET

Afghanistan's ethnic diversity

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/10/afghanistan.taliban.challenge/art.afghans.listen.afp.gi.jpg caption="Historically, ethnic group divisions in Afghanistan have made a central government difficult "]

Ethnic Groups
The people of Afghanistan belong to several ethnic groups, which could affect the future government. Historically, divisions between ethnic groups have made a central government difficult.

Click here to see an interactive map of Afghanistan and its ethnic groups.

Filed under: Afghanistan
September 4th, 2009
06:43 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Presidential Lesson or Propaganda?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/04/obama.schools/art.obama.gi.jpg caption= "The White House says President Obama's address next week to schoolchildren isn't a policy speech."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

You would think that a President speaking to schoolchildren would be uncontroversial.  Other Presidents, democratic and republican have done it with little or no fuss. But that's not the case for President Obama.

Some school districts are vowing not to air his video message on Tuesday. Some parents are saying they'll keep their kids home. They say Pres. Obama is trying to brainwash their kids on his political propaganda. White House officials says that's not true. They say the speech will focus on getting kids to study hard and stay in school.

But the main issue seems to with a proposed lesson plan from the Department of Education. It called for students to write about what they can do to help the President. It's now been changed to suggest that children write about their own education goals.

What do you think of the uproar? Is the fear justified?


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
September 4th, 2009
04:12 PM ET

Beat 360° 9/4/09

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:

President Barack Obama's daughter Sasha hides behind the sofa as she sneaks up on him at the end of the day in the Oval Office, Aug. 5, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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.



Steve Brusk

""C'mon, c'mon, I promise it's not for the President's foursome again. Honest."


Bob, Massillon, OH

“Well, I may not be the perfect caddy but you’re no Tiger Woods either.”

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
September 4th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Taliban still a major threat 8 years later

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/10/afghanistan.taliban.challenge/art.soldiers.run.afp.gi.jpg caption="A U.S. soldier takes his position near a building attacked by the Taliban south of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday."]
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/10/afghanistan.taliban.challenge/art.mcchrystal.hill.gi.jpg caption="Gen. Stanley McChrystal says the American death toll in Afghanistan will remain high for some time."]
Ivan Watson

It has been nearly eight years since U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban leaders of Afghanistan, but the war against the Taliban insurgency is bloodier than ever.

The number of Afghan civilians killed in the wake of the war has increased 24 percent in the first six months of this year compared with the same time period last year, according to the United Nations. And NATO and American forces suffered record losses this summer, with 75 troops killed in the month of July, making it the deadliest month for Western troops in the country since American warplanes first began bombing the Taliban in October 2001.

The U.S. death toll will remain high for some time as the Taliban has gained the upper hand, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Monday.

"It's a very aggressive enemy right now," McChrystal told the newspaper in the interview Saturday at his office in Kabul, Afghanistan. "We've got to stop their momentum, stop their initiative. It's hard work."

Keep reading...

Filed under: Afghanistan • Ivan Watson
September 4th, 2009
03:16 PM ET

Educators take heat over Obama school speech

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/04/obama.schools/art.obama.gi.jpg caption="The White House says President Obama's address next week to schoolchildren isn't a policy speech."]
Alan Silverleib

Call it a lesson in contemporary political discourse.

Educators across America found themselves at the center of a political storm this week as conservatives exploded in anger over President Obama's plans to give a speech to the country's schoolchildren.

A stunned White House insisted the address, planned for Tuesday, and accompanying suggested lesson plans are meant simply to encourage students to study hard and stay in school.

But some parents said they aren't buying it. They said they're convinced the president is going to use the opportunity to press a partisan political agenda on impressionable young minds.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Barack Obama • Education
September 4th, 2009
03:07 PM ET

‘Wingnuts’ try to politicize president’s talk to kids

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John Avlon
CNN Contributor

As a heated wingnut summer heads to a close, we look at a new GOP “socialist” attack on President Obama for speaking to school children, a ‘brain dead’ attack on Democratic centrists and, in a bonus round, a callous conspiracy theory just in time for the 8th anniversary of 9/11.

President Obama is slated to give a speech to America’s school children next Tuesday on the subject of taking personal responsibility for their success in school.

Last time I checked, personal responsibility and socialism were opposite concepts, but that didn’t stop Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer from firing off an unhinged press release.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Barack Obama • Education • John P. Avlon
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