November 20th, 2009
04:38 PM ET

I remember Oprah

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Lisa Respers France

It seems ironic to me that it was this time of the year more than 30 years ago that I had my first “encounter” with Oprah Winfrey.

I was a little girl whose legs dangled off the pew when Winfrey appeared as a featured speaker on Sunday at my grandmother’s church in West Baltimore, Maryland. I immediately recognized her as an anchor on the local news station, WJZ, and I couldn’t believe that such a star would be standing in the pulpit of Whitestone Baptist Church.

Ordinarily church meant suffering through a sermon I didn’t understand and staring in awe at the women who – in their exuberance at being in the presence of the Holy Spirit – seemed to shout, sweat and dance the walls down.

But this Sunday I was mesmerized by Oprah.

Like any good storyteller, she started out slow, sharing tales of growing up first in Mississippi, then in Milwaukee and Tennessee. Like me, she loved to read and I felt like she was walking up and down my street when she recounted the many church plays and programs in which she had been called to perform.

I literally slid to the edge of the pew as Oprah told the tragic story of a slave woman who upon being revived from a vicious beating from her master thought she was seeing stars, only to realize it was salt on the ground which had been thrown on her lacerated back. The congregation moaned their pain and understanding of the hardships of life.


November 20th, 2009
04:24 PM ET

Who is trailin' Sarah Palin?

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Like a proverbial swarm of locusts, book buyers are descending on stores coast-to-coast to devour endless stacks of a new publication. Talk and news shows are devoting so many hours to discussing the author, even John Grisham might be jealous. And the subject of all this literary wonder: Sarah Palin.

The ubiquitous former governor of Alaska is once again blasting over the American political landscape, this time astride her super-charged snowmobile of a memoir, “Going Rogue.” The actual sales figures are changing by the hour, so let’s just say she moving more paper than Dwight Schrute. Harper Collins reportedly planned to print 1.5 million copies in the first run, and industry insiders say they’ve rarely seen such pre-release demand for a non-fiction book. Although, having done some fact-checking, I must say putting it into the non-fiction category may be a stretch.

Anyway, with her custom bus rumbling from one town to the next for these Take-Back-America tent revivals, it’s like a Shania Twain concert tour without the band.


Filed under: Opinion • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin • Tom Foreman
November 20th, 2009
04:21 PM ET

Winfrey announces end of 'Oprah'

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Breeanna Hare

Oprah Winfrey knows how to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Knowing that viewers were tuning in to her Friday show to hear the queen of talk confirm that the "Oprah Winfrey Show" was coming to an end, Winfrey had not one, not two, but three guests on before finally announcing that the end for "Oprah" had arrived.

In other words, it was business as usual.

In an interview with Bradley Lockhart, whose 5-year-old daughter Shaniya Davis was found dead on the side of a North Carolina highway Monday, Winfrey provided the kind of heart-wrenching interview that she is known for.

Lockhart and his sister, Carey, sat down via satellite for their first television appearance since the news broke about Shaniya.

"My heart and the country's heart bleeds for you," Winfrey told them.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Oprah Winfrey
November 20th, 2009
04:19 PM ET

Killings at the Canal: Part Three

Abbie Boudreau and Scott Zamost
CNN Special Investigations Unit

A former Army sergeant who revealed the murders of four Iraqis at a canal in 2007 says he has no regrets about breaking his silence.

"I did the right thing," Jess Cunningham told CNN's "AC360°." "I'm not going to hide behind false brotherhood."

Nine months after the March 2007 murders, Cunningham told his Army lawyer what had happened at the canal. Eventually, three sergeants would be convicted of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder.

"These men are not heroes. They're not saviors," Cunningham said.

Keep Reading...

November 20th, 2009
02:55 PM ET

Army general defends rules for detainees

Abbie Boudreau and Scott Zamost
CNN Special Investigations Unit

The military released 77,000 of about 87,000 detainees locked up during the Iraq war because there was not enough evidence to hold them, CNN has learned.

"In most cases, if we don't have anything, eventually they'll be released," said Brig. Gen. David Quantock, who oversees detainee operations in Iraq.

Quantock said "many cases are driven purely on intelligence."

"Intelligence does not win a fight in a courtroom. It doesn't win the fight in a courtroom in the United States. It doesn't win in Iraq."

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Killings at the Canal
November 20th, 2009
01:21 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Heather Ellis


Editor's Note: Closing arguments are expected Friday afternoon in the case of a woman who is accused of assaulting police officers in a Missouri Walmart nearly three ago. She says white patrons shoved and hurled racial slurs at her when she switched lines. These are Ellis' mug shots when she was arrested in January 2007.

These photos were taken when Ellis entered the courtroom today.

Filed under: Crime • Wal-Mart
November 20th, 2009
11:54 AM ET
November 20th, 2009
11:43 AM ET

Move to where the jobs are

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Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

In the early 1990's, I was listening to the Rush Limbaugh radio show when a young man from Youngstown, Ohio, called in to complain about... well, life.

The caller was upset that, since the steel mills had closed years earlier, there was no opportunity for him in his beloved hometown. Youngstown was where his father and grandfather had raised families and where he had hoped to raise his own.

So he was attracted to the protectionist rhetoric of presidential candidates promising to erect trade barriers in the hopes of resurrecting U.S. cities. But, short of attending a political rally, the young man from Youngstown didn't know what to do.

Noting that our most daunting obstacles are often self-imposed, Limbaugh gave the caller some simple but valuable advice: "Move!"

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Economy • Job Market
November 20th, 2009
11:16 AM ET

Dear President Obama #305: What? You're letting Oprah quit?

Reporter's Note: The White House keeps telling us that a recovery is underway, but the polls keep saying we don’t believe it. Of course the polls say a lot of things. If I listened to the polls, I suppose I would have stopped writing these letters to the president some time ago.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

There aren’t many people in the TV business who have the punch of your pal, Oprah. I’ve always thought that her endorsement of you during the campaign actually played a pretty important role in making women pay attention to you, and in getting many motivated to vote who might otherwise have stayed home.

For me to say that is unusual. I think celebrity endorsements are generally as useless as an appeal to a congressman’s honor. But Oprah is not so much a celebrity as a head of state. She rules the Kingdom of Talk TV and when she starts knighting people; you can bet her subjects pay attention. And now she is folding her tent. Shutting her show down.

Well, actually it’s not now. It’s planned for about two years from now. I have no complaint with her hanging up the hand mic, but I don’t much care for the long goodbye. Seems to me like everything is getting way too drawn out these days: Health care reform, Michael Jackson’s funeral, and now Oprah’s trip to the train station. Two years?


November 20th, 2009
10:55 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Detainee policy in Iraq

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Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Tonight we’ll have the final part of our special investigation into a 2007 execution in Baghdad. Three decorated U.S. Army sergeants shot and killed four Iraqi detainees their platoon had taken into custody earlier that day. The soldiers are now serving prison terms at Fort Leavenworth. During interrogations, the soldiers blamed military policy for making it too hard to detain suspected insurgents.

So what really drove these sergeants to executive four Iraqi detainees? Tonight we’ll examine what the soldiers say is a “flawed” Army policy. It turns out the rules and requirements for taking in and holding detainees appears to be very strict. Soldiers must present detailed evidence, including accounts from two local witnesses to the crime. We obtained a memo that spells out the rules that were in place at the time of the murders. Of the 87,000 Iraqis detained since the war began, nearly 77,000 have been released due to lack of evidence. We interview a Brigadier General who oversees detainee operations in Iraq and we’ll ask him what he thinks of the policy. Don’t miss the final part of Abbie Boudreau’s special investigation tonight.

In a sign of how badly Democrats want to get health care reform passed, the Senate is now expected to work through the weekend and even into Thanksgiving week, shortening their customary week-long holiday break. The Republicans have the right to read the 2,074-page bill, which could take between 48 and 50 hours. Not my idea of weekend entertainment. But can we expect debate to heat up today? We’ll have the latest developments on the health care bill tonight.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
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