November 4th, 2009
01:34 PM ET

Video: Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes


Next week, don't miss our special four-part investigative series, Killings At The Canal: The Army Tapes, about U.S. soldiers who were convicted of murder on the battlefield.

Three sergeants used their service pistols to execute four Iraqi men they had in custody who they believed were insurgents. Questions have emerged: On the battlefield, is murder a crime? And is the Army’s policy on detainees realistic for its soldiers in the battlefield?

While many were focused on the outcome of the presidential election, courts-martial were underway at a U.S. Army base in Germany. Ultimately three army sergeants were found guilty of the execution-style murders of the four Iraqis their 13-man unit had detained. The soldiers were certain the Iraqis were insurgents who had been shooting at them. But under Army rules for holding detainees, they knew they could not meet the burden of proof - and they feared the suspects would be released only to be shooting at soldiers again. So the sergeants made a decision: bypass the detention center, take them to a canal, and kill them.

We have obtained almost 24 hours of interrogation footage which includes a confession from one of the sergeants.

CNN's investigative correspondent Abbie Boudreau and senior investigative producer Scott Zamost also shine a light on the U.S. Army’s policy about how to handle detainees, a policy that was a response to the abuses of Abu Ghraib. Some say it puts an undue burden of proof on U.S. soldiers.

Filed under: 360° Radar
November 4th, 2009
01:14 PM ET

Report: National education report card

Editor's Note: A new federal study shows that nearly one-third of states may have lowered their academic proficiency standards in recent years – a move that helps schools stay immune from sanctions under the No Child Left Behind law. The Department of Education study found that 15 states lowered their proficiency standards at the middle school level in basic subjects from 2005 to 2007. Were schools allowed to lower standards? And why? Randi Kaye is keeping them honest tonight. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/08/07/swine.flu.h1n1.schools/art.school.daj.gi.jpg]

The National Center for Education Statistics
U.S. Department of Education

Since 2003, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has compared each state’s standard for proficient performance in reading and mathematics by placing the state standards onto the NAEP scale.

The procedure, “mapping,” allows the level of achievement required for proficient performance in one state to be compared with the level of achievement required in another state. The mapping procedure offers an approximate way to assess the relative rigor of the states’ standards for proficient performance.

Take a look at the full report here...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Education
November 4th, 2009
12:34 PM ET

Palin gives details on book tour

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/18/art.palinfb1018.fb.jpg caption="Palin reveled details of her book tour on Facebook"]

Alexander Mooney

Sarah Palin says she's gearing up for her highly anticipated book tour later this month, writing on Facebook Tuesday she is "very, very excited to travel the country as she promotes her forthcoming memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life."

The former Alaska governor hinted she'd likely sit down with a string of friendly faces during the tour that begins in two weeks, a list of conservative television hosts that include Fox's Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck. She also wants to appear with Fox host Greta Van Susteren.

Palin added she'll likely appear on the radio programs of conservative talkers Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Dennis Miller, and Laura Ingraham, and Tammy Bruce.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Sarah Palin
November 4th, 2009
12:28 PM ET

She escaped the FLDS, but her daughter wanted to return

Editor's Note: Today a former member of a polygamist group has taken the stand in the sexual assault trial of the first group member tried since Texas authorities raided the group's ranch last year.

The former member testified that jailed leader Warren Jeffs kept detailed notes on his interactions with church members because he believed God would hold him accountable. Jeffs' notes could become part of the prosecution's case against 38-year-old Raymond Jessop. He is charged with sexual assault of a child, stemming from his alleged marriage to an underage girl. We have been following this case ever since authorities arrested Jessop. Below, read a blog from one of our producers about meeting Carolyn Jessop - Raymond Jessop's fourth wife. She recounts her experiences in a book about her life on the FLDS ranch. Watch David Mattingly's report on the Jessop trial tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/14/betty.jessop.flds.jpg caption="Betty Jessop at the FLDS compound."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/14/carolyn.and.betty.jessop.jpg caption="Carolyn Jessop at 22, feeding daughter Betty."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/14/carolyn.jessop.book.jpg caption="Carolyn Jessop's book on her experience." width=292 height=320]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

It was the moment Carolyn Jessop had been waiting for. The mother of eight and the fourth wife of a powerful FLDS man wanted out of the only life she knew. It was a rare moment. All of Jessop’s eight children were home and her husband was not. She only had a few hours to gather her kids and leave the polygamist life where she was born and raised. She says she was desperately seeking a new life on the outside. She wanted to escape.

Carolyn Jessop broke free from a life of arranged marriage, polygamy and a male dominated and controlled society. She says she wanted more for her and her children. Jessop began a new life with her children outside the FLDS. Her kids attended public school and no longer practiced the religion with which they were raised.


Filed under: FLDS court hearing • FLDS update • Ismael Estrada
November 4th, 2009
12:26 PM ET

Gibbs dismisses losses as "local elections"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/13/obama.candidate.president/art.obamaflash.gi.jpg caption="White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs believes Democratic electoral defeats in New Jersey and Virginia say nothing about President Obama's standing with the American people." ]

Ed Henry| BIO
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed Democratic electoral defeats in New Jersey and Virginia as "two very local elections" that say nothing about President Obama's standing with the American people right now.

"It's hard to pick national trends out of local elections," Gibbs told reporters at a Wednesday briefing with reporters just hours after incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine was knocked out despite Obama's two appearances in New Jersey on Sunday. Obama previously campaigned for Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, who also lost his bid.


November 4th, 2009
11:57 AM ET

David Plouffe: 'The Audacity to Win'

Program Note: Tune in tonight to watch Anderson's conversation with David Plouffe. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/21/am.chetry.witness.history/Obama.oath.art.jpg caption="Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States."]

David Plouffe
From 'The Audacity to Win'

In a new memoir, 'The Audacity to Win,' David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama's 2008 race for the White House, provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse inside the campaign. Here's an excerpt:

Agony. Ecstasy.

The [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright story broke on a Wednesday and exploded across the media landscape the next day. We decided Obama had to take questions about [his former pastor's inflammatory sermons] head-on on Friday, in a series of lengthy national cable interviews.

There was one not-so-minor complication. He was already scheduled to do editorial boards that Friday afternoon with both Chicago papers about [real estate developer and political fundraiser] Tony Rezko, two hours each, no holds barred. Given no choice but to address Wright as soon as possible, we decided we would do a round of TV interviews on him directly after the Rezko boards. It shaped into quite a day, like having your legs amputated in the morning and your arms at night. The question was whether we would still have a heartbeat at the end of the day.

It was chaos and, quite frankly, frightening. I felt as if the wheels could easily spin off our whole venture. Still, Obama was the pillar of reassurance. "Don't worry, guys," he told us while making some notes on a stack of pages. "I can do more than one thing at a time. We are taking the trash out today. It won't be fun, but we'll be stronger for it."

Find more information on Plouffe's book here.

November 4th, 2009
11:29 AM ET

This time, all politics was local

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/04/democratnj.jpg
caption="New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, lost in a race dominated by local issues."]
Nate Silver
Special to CNN

"All politics is local." That four-word statement, originally uttered by former Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill, is one of the favorite clichés of political pundits everywhere. But it's seldom respected when it matters most.

Consider, for instance, the special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District, which conservative Democrat Bill Owens won in spite of partisan and nonpartisan polling that had shown Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman with a solid lead.

Almost overnight, Hoffman became a sort of folk hero among conservative activists around the country, a decidedly ordinary-looking man who seemed poised to take an extraordinary path into Washington. Some 95 percent of his fundraising came from outside the district.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Democrats • Republicans
November 4th, 2009
11:20 AM ET

50on50: Saw blade through thumb. What would you do?


Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

It’s going to be hard to keep your eyes off the photo in this piece. But the story of a construction worker’s thumb impaled by an 8 inch serrated blade provides me with a weapon in my final 50 days before turning 50. The weapon might be valuable as I battle those who plan to kick me out of the 18-49 year old audience demographic. Don’t worry, I won’t use the blade.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/04/art.saw.50on50.jpg]

What Would You Do?

The story of the saw in the thumb was shared at a CNN editorial meeting by one of the most popular leaders in the field of internet social networking. His name is Chris Brogan.

Brogan has more than 106-THOUSAND followers on Twitter (you’re all invited to lunch at his place.)

He was at CNN to explain how companies like ours can enlarge our audience and build trust through social networking.

I had one question for Brogan. So many of us on Facebook, Twitter, and similar networks, find ourselves swamped with inane thoughts, often from very bright people. We’re losing faith in social networking. We’re tempted to tune out.


Filed under: Michael Schulder • Opinion
November 4th, 2009
11:10 AM ET

Video: GOP rules election night

Candy Crowley | BIO
CNN Senior Political Correspondent

Filed under: Candy Crowley • Democrats • Republicans
November 4th, 2009
11:06 AM ET

Video: Months into Obama's presidency, promise of 'change' is a slow go

Candy Crowley | BIO
CNN Senior Political Correspondent

On that unusually balmy Chicago night a year ago, the candidate who campaigned on what he called the "fierce urgency of now" became the president-elect who needed time.

"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term," Barack Obama told the crowd in Grant Park. And he still needs time to turn a myriad of campaign promises into policy.

The list of the undones is long, varied and mostly difficult - immigration reform, new financial market regulations and a game-changing energy bill.

And compounding problems on the president's lengthy to-do list is that 2010 is an election year, generally an inefficient time for lawmaking.

Obama can put down several major campaign promises as "in the works."

Keep Reading...

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