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September 16th, 2009
11:29 AM ET

Thank you to a Hall of Fame voice

Paul Caron
CNN

How do you say good-bye to a broadcasting legend, who had impacted millions for almost 50 years? Over 41,000 people made up baseball fans, current and ex-players, coaches and other officials will probably have a collective cry together tonight, at Detroit’s Comerica Park, when the Detroit Tigers will honor baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who announced recently he has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

Like many native Detroiters, Ernie Harwell was the voice I grew up with listening to Tiger baseball games on the radio, for decades. Not only was he on my own radio, but anywhere you went at times, you heard him. He was on radios playing at the beach, on a radio on your neighbor’s front porch, or on a car radio during a road trip. His voice was of course smuggled under the bed sheets at night, for those late starting West Coast games, via my transistor radio.

And his voice would be heard from beyond your neighborhood. For most of those years, the Tiger’s flagship radio station was WJR-AM, that had a 50,000 watt clear-channel signal, that could be picked up in the evening as far as St. Louis in one direction, north Florida in another direction, and as far away as Bermuda. Tiger fans could always get their ‘fix” almost anywhere, and it was Ernie’s voice behind that.

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Filed under: Paul Caron • Pop Culture
September 16th, 2009
10:59 AM ET
September 16th, 2009
10:39 AM ET

Too Often, We're Mute On Race

Petula Dvorak
Washington Post

We will never know if Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) would have screamed "You lie!" at a white president. Or if Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. would have been arrested at his home if he were white. Or if the parents who feared that President Obama was going to deliver a political address to America's schoolchildren would have felt the same way if Hillary Rodham Clinton or John McCain were giving that speech. Or if the tens of thousands of overwhelmingly white protesters on the Mall on Saturday would have assembled against a president who looked more like them.

Many black people, who have endured experiences I can't begin to imagine, would say the answer to those questions is painfully obvious.

"Take a look at the Joe Wilson incident. There are a number of members on the Democratic side who believe George W. Bush should have been in prison, that he is a criminal, yet they didn't disrespect him that way," said Michael Fauntroy, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who specializes in race relations. "The disrespect that's going on with President Obama has race woven into it."

The overtones of race are crackling in the air whether it's a controversy over politics or pop culture.

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September 16th, 2009
10:35 AM ET

Understanding the Sunni-Shi'ite Divide

Alyssa Fetini
TIME

The split between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims is one of the most important schisms in modern religion — yet in the West, at least, it's one of the least understood. The centuries-old strife sporadically erupts into new bloodshed throughout the Middle East — today, particularly, in war-torn Iraq, where the power vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein has reopened old wounds. As British-born journalist Lesley Hazleton argues, these wounds have been left to fester by a lack of adequate planning or understanding of the issue's complexities on the part of American policymakers. Her new book, After the Prophet, recounts the epic story of the split between Islam's two main factions and its present role in the Middle East. TIME talked to Hazleton about the history and misunderstandings of this dispute and what, if anything, can be done to extinguish it once and for all.

What's the Shi'ite-Sunni split really about?
It's about who should lead Islam, and it began at the moment of Muhammad's death. As the founder of Islam, he was the undisputed leader. And if he had had a son, the split might never have happened — a son would automatically have inherited his father's authority. But he died without sons and without leaving a clear will. His closest male relative was his cousin and son-in-law, the philosopher-warrior Ali, whose followers — the Shiat Ali [followers of Ali], or Shi'ite for short — say that he was the only one with the spiritual authority to succeed Muhammad. The Sunnis believed that the caliphate should go to whoever would be best equipped politically to maintain the burgeoning Muslim empire, backing Muhammad's father-in-law Abu Bakr. In the end, Abu Bakr was named the first caliph. Though Ali eventually assumed the caliphate 25 years later, he was assassinated, power fell to the founder of the first Sunni dynasty, and the Shi'ites felt a terrible, lasting sense of dispossession. In a nutshell, the difference between the two is that the Sunnis tend to respect how power actually works rather than the way it should work in an ideal world. In a sense, the Shi'ite ideology is more idealistic, while the Sunni one more pragmatic.

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Filed under: Iraq • Middle East • Religion
September 16th, 2009
10:30 AM ET

Dear President Obama #240: A comment on Kanye...

Reporter's Note: Kanye West, the entertainer, behaved badly and not for the first time during an awards show. President Obama slapped him down like a quarter on the counter. Which is certainly worth a nickel’s worth in my daily letter to the White House.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I have to say that I was delighted to hear you light into Kanye West for his behavior during the Video Music Awards. I know that your choice of words is coming under some scrutiny, since you don’t hear Presidents say the word “jackass” every day. But what he did…snatching the microphone from the winner of an award to effectively declare that it should have gone to someone else…was inappropriate, unkind, and unprofessional.

I’m pretty big on forgiveness and I was happy enough to hear his apology afterward, but the truth is, he is a repeat offender when it comes to this kind of behavior; doing whatever he wants to grab a headline then suggesting later he should not be held responsible. He calls it keeping it real, and I call it the oldest trick in the book for people who are keeping it anything but real: A publicity stunt.

In any event, particular word choice aside, your response seemed right on the money; not so much as to give him too much extra coverage, but enough to make it clear that you disapprove.

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September 16th, 2009
10:20 AM ET
September 16th, 2009
10:06 AM ET

Drinking age of 21 doesn't work

Editor's note: John M. McCardell, Jr., president emeritus at Middlebury College, is founder and president of Choose Responsibility, a nonprofit organization that seeks to engage the public in debate over the effects of the 21-year-old drinking age.

John M. McCardell, Jr.
Special to CNN

One year ago, a group of college and university presidents and chancellors, eventually totaling 135, issued a statement that garnered national attention.

The "Amethyst Initiative" put a debate proposition before the public - "Resolved: That the 21-year-old drinking age is not working." It offered, in much the way a grand jury performs its duties, sufficient evidence for putting the proposition to the test. It invited informed and dispassionate public debate and committed the signatory institutions to encouraging that debate. And it called on elected officials not to continue assuming that, after 25 years, the status quo could not be challenged, even improved.

One year later, the drinking age debate continues, and new research reinforces the presidential impulse. Just this summer a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry revealed that, among college-age males, binge drinking is unchanged from its levels of 1979; that among non-college women it has increased by 20 percent; and that among college women it has increased by 40 percent.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
September 16th, 2009
07:00 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 9/15/09

Editor's Note: Mark Williams’s reappearance on AC360° Tuesday night drew more response from many of you.  Most of you who wrote to us believe that his agenda supports a racist point of view.  Many of you said you’d be happy not hearing from him again.  Former President Jimmy Carter’s comment that an “overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man” resonated with a large number of viewers.  Finally, on the malpractice segment by Gary Tuchman, many of you expressed interest in asking the two trial lawyers about doctors closing their doors because of high insurance costs. Do you have something to say on one of these topics?  If so, we’d love to hear from you too:

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I am a white person who agrees with Jimmy Carter who stated that the tea-baggers are basically racists. Please stop giving air time to people who defend these despicable people. More emphasis on the accomplishments of our president, PLEASE!

Mark Williams, organizer of Tea parties, is a prime example of a racist.  He puts down everyone from President Carter to Mr. Martin when they point out racist incidents.  I am an 80-year old white woman and I cannot see why people cannot see through this man and put him out of public life.  I abhor his smirk when he is talking about something as serious as threats on the life of our president.

President carter is absolutely right!  The actions of the Republicans are making a mockery of our democracy!  Their actions & lies are terrible.

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Filed under: Behind The Scenes
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