October 21st, 2009
10:50 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 10/21/09

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Thanks for staying up late with us. The White House has had enough. It will soon order some of the nation's bailed-out companies to cut pay for top executives. We've got the raw politics. Plus, exclusive details on what went on during that deadly sweat lodge in Arizona. You'll hear from a woman at the ceremony.

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")
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4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
October 21st, 2009
09:28 PM ET
October 21st, 2009
07:42 PM ET

White House to push for big pay cuts

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/21/ken_feinberg_090610.jpg caption="Obama's Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg is in charge of reviewing pay plans at biggest bailout firms." width=292 height=320]

David Ellis

The Obama administration will soon order the nation's biggest bailed-out companies to drastically cut pay packages for their top executives, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

Kenneth Feinberg, who was named the White House's pay czar in June, will demand that the seven largest bailout recipients lower the total compensation for their top 25 highest paid employees by 50%, on average, the official told CNN.

For the past two months, Feinberg has been reviewing pay plans at Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), AIG (AIG, Fortune 500), Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), General Motors, Chrysler, GMAC and Chrysler Financial in an effort to put these firms in a position to pay back bailout money as soon as possible.

Keep reading

Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Wall St.
October 21st, 2009
06:35 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Pay Cuts at Bailed-Out Companies

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

It's pay back time for America's biggest bailed-out companies. The White House will soon order them to cut pay for their top executives.

A senior Obama administration official tells us that Ken Feinberg, the White House's so-called "pay czar", will demand the seven largest bailout recipients to lower the compensation for their top 25 highest paid employees by 50%, on average.

We're talking about the following companies: AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, GM, Chrysler, GMAC and Chrysler Financial.

Is the move fair or is the government going too far? Tonight we've got too opposing view points and we'll let you be the judge.

We also have new exclusive details on the sweat lodge deaths in Arizona. Tonight you'll hear from a woman who took part in the ceremony that officials say led to the deaths of three people. Hear what she says went on inside that tent.

We will also take you to Texas where a key arson scientist is convinced the state executed an innocent man. We've been following the case of Cameron Todd Willingham for years. In recent weeks, the controversy has heated up with more than half a dozen forensic investigators saying Willingham did not set the 1991 fire that killed his three daughters. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who removed four members from a state panel revisiting the evidence, says Willingham was a monster and guilty of murder. Tonight, hear what the key arson scientist in the case has to say about the governor and the investigation.

Join us for these stories and much more starting after "Latino in America" at 11pm ET. Thanks for staying up with us. See you soon!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
October 21st, 2009
06:33 PM ET

Beat 360° 10/21/09

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:

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama jumps rope on the South Lawn of the White House. (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.



Albert Lewitinn

“Michelle Obama once again walking a fine line.”


Sandy Hodges

"Hard to compete with the Nobel Prize, but I can still win a Presidential Fitness Award!"

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
October 21st, 2009
06:26 PM ET

Latinos in America’s Hollywood

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Franc Reyes
Writer, Director and Filmmaker

With CNN spotlighting the plight of Latinos in America through its new series of documentaries with Soledad O’Brien, I find it of critical importance to have my voice heard about the state of Latinos in America’s Hollywood.

I’d like to make it utterly clear that I did not ask for, nor intend to become the voice of Latinos in entertainment.

However, it’s become overwhelmingly apparent to me over the last several months that many Latinos are looking directly at me, to assist in leading this charge towards a positive change in the entertainment industry.

That positive change must begin by speaking out against the Hollywood system that has stood firmly in place over the last 100 years. A system which shows absolutely no signs of relinquishing or sharing its control with people of color.

I often use the analogy that if I opened a Starbucks on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, I’d be arrested if I didn’t employ minorities in key positions of power.

However, Hollywood is continuously afforded the luxury of hiring very few minorities into key positions. And to date there are no people of color who can green light films.


October 21st, 2009
05:38 PM ET

Inside the world of James Arthur Ray

Program Note: Tune in tonight for coverage of the sweat lodge deaths in Arizona. Gary Tuchman reports. Tonight on AC360° at 11 p.m. ET.


While James Arthur Ray describes himself as a "Personal Success Strategist" and "visionary," police in Yavapai County, Arizona are referring to him in other terms - including "uncooperative" in the investigation of three deaths that are being ruled homicides of individuals attending Ray's "spiritual warrior" retreat program near Sedona, Arizona earlier this month.

Ray's website is still advertising his "Spiritual Warrior" program, scheduled to take place again next fall.  The $9,695 program is 5-day Retreat entailing 40 hours of fasting in addition to the sweat lodge. With the "Spiritual Warrior" program, Ray advertises "Look, you've most probably spent your whole life staying within the lines to get what you've got (or at least a major portion of it). Join me outside the lines in this heroic quest for higher consciousness..."

Read more about Ray's "Spiritual Warrior" program and others...

Filed under: 360° Radar
October 21st, 2009
05:35 PM ET

Latinos may be 'future' of U.S. Catholic Church

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/10/21/lia.browning.catholic.church/art.saint.cecilia.cnn.jpg caption="St. Cecilia's nearly closed. After it was designated the parish home for Latinos, the congregation quadrupled."]

Emily Probst

"I'll take two chili, uh..." a hungry customer stammers at the front of a two-hour-long line. "Chile rellenos," the money-handler trills back in perfect Spanish. This is not a trendy Tex-Mex restaurant; and it's more than 1,000 miles from the Mexican border.

The stuffed pepper causing the stutter is the hottest menu item at St. Cecilia's Lenten fish fry in St. Louis, Missouri. Chile rellenos, a traditional Mexican dish, have replaced fish as the main draw for Catholics giving up meat on Fridays. This century-old parish founded by German immigrants has turned 85 percent Hispanic.

"It's the browning of the Catholic Church in the United States," says Pedro Moreno Garcia, who until last month led the Hispanic ministry for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Moreno Garcia points to St. Cecilia's Spanish-dominant Mass schedule as a sign of the times.

"Hispanics are the present and Hispanics are the future of the Catholic Church in the United States," says Moreno Garcia.

One-third of all Catholics in the United States are now Latinos thanks to immigration and higher fertility rates, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. While St. Cecilia's parish has relished the growth, elsewhere, the Latino population boom has rocked the pews.

"Instead of screaming out, 'The British are coming!' " Moreno Garcia says some people are screaming, " 'The Hispanics are coming! The Hispanics are coming! Run, run.' "

A self-described Nuyorican or Puerto Rican from New York, Moreno Garcia says even he gets mislabeled.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Religion
October 21st, 2009
05:28 PM ET

NAS report: Strengthening forensic science

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Just Science Coalition

Unvalidated or improper forensic science is a leading cause of wrongful conviction in the United States.

As a result, forensic analysts sometimes testify in cases without a proper scientific basis for their findings. Testimony based on forensics can therefore lack basic scientific standards. Even within forensic disciplines that are more firmly grounded in science, evidence is often subject to dispute.

In 2006, Congress appropriated funds to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to thoroughly study the fundamental underpinnings of forensic science and its applications in our criminal justice system.

A NAS panel was formed – including scientists, academics, a retired federal judge, and other notable experts. Over a period of 18 months, the group conducted comprehensive research on forensic disciplines and released a This Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sciences Community released its final report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, in February 2009.

As outlined in the report, many forensic disciplines have evolved primarily through their use in individual cases and have not been scientifically validated or standardized.

Take a look at the report’s 13 key recommendations.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment
October 21st, 2009
05:23 PM ET

Review death penalty law, ex-governor urges

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caption="Texas Gov. Rick Perry has shaken up a state commission that is probing whether a man executed in 2004 belonged on death row."]

R.G. Ratcliffe
Houston Chronicle

Former Gov. Mark White, who was involved in the executions of 20 condemned criminals, says it may be time for Texas to do away with the death penalty.

The death penalty is no longer a deterrent to murder, and long stays for the condemned on death row shows justice is not swift, White said.

More than anything, he said, he has grown concerned that the system is not administered fairly and that there are too many risks of executing innocent people.

White said the state needs to take a serious look at replacing the death penalty with life without parole.

"There is a very strong case to be made for a review of our death penalty statutes and even look at the possibility of having life without parole so we don't look up one day and determined that we as the state of Texas have executed someone who is in fact innocent,” said White.

Perry controversy

Current Gov. Rick Perry is facing national criticism for not granting a 30-day stay in 2004 to Cameron Todd Willingham after an arson expert raised questions about the house fire that killed his three children.

Perry ignited the controversy recently by replacing members of the Texas Forensics Commission that were looking into the science behind the arson investigation in the Willingham case.

Perry responded by calling Willingham a “monster” and saying he has no doubt of his guilt.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Death penalty
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