August 31st, 2010
09:45 PM ET

Mosque Fears: Join the Live Chat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Tonight, the calls, threats and violent acts aimed at stopping the expansion of an Islamic center - not in Lower Manhattan - but central Tennessee. Keeping Them Honest, we'll talk with a leading opponent of the center. Plus, Pres. Obama marks the end of the combat mission in Iraq with an address from the Oval Office. We've got the raw politics.

Want more details on what 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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Filed under: Live Blog
August 31st, 2010
08:50 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Combat Mission Over in Iraq

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight, in an Oval Office address, Pres. Obama declared "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended."

"Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country," Pres. Obama said during his 18-minute speech.

While the official U.S. combat mission is over, about 50,000 American troops will remain in Iraq until the end of 2011. They will train and advise Iraqis.

Pres. Obama also thanked U.S. troops who served in Iraq.

"At every turn, America's men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am proud of their service. Like all Americans, I am awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families," he said.

Earlier today Defense Secretary Robert Gates got emotional as he discussed the toll the war took on American troops.

"Today, at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 4,427 American service members have died in Iraq, 3,502 of them killed in action; 34,265 have been wounded or injured," Gates said at the American Legion convention in Milwaukee. "The courage of these men and women, their determination, their sacrifice – and that of their families – along with the service and sacrifice of so many others in uniform, have made this day, this transition, possible. We must never forget."

Gates also warned "the most recent elections have yet to result in a coalition government. Sectarian tensions remain a fact of life. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is beaten, but not gone."

On 360°, we'll talk about the future challenges in Iraq and the raw politics of Pres. Obama's message with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, Pres. George W. Bush's former press secretary Ari Fleischer and CNN Political Analyst and Democratic Strategist Paul Begala.

Republicans called on Pres. Obama in his address to acknowledge he made a mistake in not supporting the 2007 surge in Iraq. They also wanted him to give credit to former Pres. Bush for the surge. Pres. Obama did neither.

"You might recall that the surge wasn't very popular when it was announced," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said today during a speech in his home state. "You might also recall that one of its biggest critics was the current president. So it makes it easier to talk about fulfilling a campaign promise to wind down our operations in Iraq when the previous administration signs the security agreement with Iraq to end our overall presence there," McConnell added suggesting former Pres. Bush deserves more credit for today's milestone.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, also blasted Pres. Obama. "One lawmaker rejected the idea that the surge would reduce violence in Iraq, saying - and again I'm quoting - 'in fact, I think it will do the reverse,'" Boehner said in reference to Obama during his speech to the American Legion convention.

Tonight we're also tracking Hurricane Earl, which is threatening Labor Day weekend plans along the east coast. Its top winds are 135 mph, which makes it a dangerous category four storm. Forecasters expect Hurricane Earl to brush the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday as it makes its way north. We'll check in with CNN meteorologist Chad Myers for the latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Center.

We'll also take you to Pakistan where 17.6 million people have been impacted by the month-long catastrophic flooding. More than 1,600 others have been killed. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta joins us from the flood zone with a look at the desperate need for aid in the flood ravaged country.

See you at 10 p.m. ET with these stories and much more.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
August 31st, 2010
06:05 PM ET

New gulf compensation chief lags in processing claims

Sasha Chavkin

Just over a week ago, when Kenneth Feinberg took over the process for handling damage claims from the Gulf oil spill, he promised to cut through the delays and confusion that applicants faced under the much-maligned BP system.

But signs are emerging that Feinberg’s goals – particularly his pledge to respond to personal claims for emergency payments within 48 hours – may be overly ambitious. Applicants participating in our BP Claims Project say that they have not received responses within two days of filing claims and that they have encountered an array of service problems, from a system crash to difficulty in transferring critical paperwork.

Amy Weiss, Feinberg’s spokeswoman, acknowledged on Sunday that the facility was experiencing delays. “In the first few weeks...we may be short of our 48-hour goal,” Weiss said in an e-mail.

Weiss said many of the claims could not be processed because they lacked sufficient documentation, and that the new Gulf Coast Claims Facility has approved about $6 million in payments to just under 1,200 individuals. Statistics from the GCCF indicate that only about 6 percent of total claims – for both individuals and businesses – had been paid as of Monday.

More from ProPublica

Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
August 31st, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Beat 360° 8/31/10

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture 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:

US tennis player Venus Williams reacts after winning against Italy's Roberta Vinci during their first round match at the US Open 2010 tennis tournament August 30, 2010 in New York. (Photo credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/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.

Update: Beat 360° Winners:

Joey Gardner
"Venus Williams holds Rod Blagojevich in a headlock."


Tammy from Sacramento, CA
"Venus Williams says 'take that' to Michelle Obama for a different kind of Arms Race...."

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
August 31st, 2010
04:35 PM ET

A Mormon with a memory: Hatch backs 'Ground Zero Mosque'

Stephen Prothero
Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

In an interview on Monday with Fox13now in Salt Lake City, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said he would be “the first to stand up” for the rights of Muslims to build an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero. Well, he’s not exactly the first, but I’ll take it.

A few days ago I lamented the fact that so many prominent Mormons, including Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, had come out against the mosque.

As almost every Mormon knows, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been on the receiving end of more than their fair share of religious discrimination, including discrimination of the “don’t build it here” kind.

More on the Belief blog

Filed under: Islam
August 31st, 2010
04:00 PM ET

New details emerge about proposed Islamic Center

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - New details emerged Tuesday about the controversial "Park51" project, involving the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque in New York City.

A source familiar with the project told CNN's Allan Chernoff the structure is being planned as an 11-story building. It will cover 120,000 square feet. Within that space, the source said, 10,000 square feet - just more than 8 percent - would be designated for the Muslim prayer space. The developer is considering the possibility of an interfaith education/meditation/prayer space as well, the source said.

Full story

Filed under: Islam
August 31st, 2010
03:55 PM ET

Hurricane Earl could take aim at Carolinas by Friday

CNN Wire Staff

Miami, Florida (CNN) - Hurricane Earl may prompt evacuations along the U.S. Atlantic coast even if it does not make landfall, since it may come close enough to trigger storm surge flooding and high winds, officials said Tuesday.

"We do not have a forecasted landfall, but this is a very large system," Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, told reporters on a conference call. "We do expect impacts along the coast."

Local officials may have a limited window in which to issue evacuations, taking into effect the forecasted winds, the proximity of Earl to the coast and the time evacuations are expected to take, he said. "The primary threat here is going to be storm surge."

Full story

Filed under: Weather
August 31st, 2010
03:40 PM ET

Feds investigate fire at site of future Tennessee mosque

Dan Gilgoff

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/08/29/tennessee.mosque.site.fire/story.mosque.fire.wtvf.jpg caption="Saturday's fires destroyed an earth mover and damaged other vehicles at the Murfreesboro, Tennessee site." width=300 height=169]

(CNN) - Suspected arson at the future site of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has "really raised the fear factor" among area Muslims, a representative of the mosque told CNN on Monday.

The Saturday morning blaze destroyed an earth mover and damaged three other vehicles at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said Camie Ayash, a spokeswoman for the center. The fire is under investigation, but "you can reasonably make the assumption" that it was deliberately set, FBI Assistant Special Agent Keith Moses said Sunday.

"The evidence is being analyzed to see what the origin of the fire was," said Moses, with the FBI's Nashville, Tennessee, bureau. "We have to follow the facts."

Full story

Filed under: Islam
August 31st, 2010
02:22 PM ET

GOP claims Iraqi success despite Obama

Dana Bash
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent

Programming note: Watch President Obama's speech live on CNN tonight at 8 ET, online, on TV and on the CNN App for the iPhone.

Washington (CNN)
- In twin speeches laced with heavy doses of "I-told-you-so," Republicans leaders in the House and Senate tried to convince voters Tuesday that America's success in Iraq is not because of President Barack Obama, but in spite of him.

"Some leaders who opposed, criticized, and fought tooth-and-nail to stop the surge strategy now proudly claim credit for the results," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, in prepared remarks before the American Legion convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"One lawmaker rejected the idea that the surge would reduce violence in Iraq, saying - and again I'm quoting - 'in fact, I think it will do the reverse.'"

The lawmaker Boehner is referring to is then-Sen. Barack Obama. Boehner aides said he was reluctant to criticize the commander-in-chief by name in front of a room of veterans, but insisted it would be clear who he was talking about.

Full story

Filed under: Dana Bash • Iraq • President Barack Obama • Raw Politics • Republicans
August 31st, 2010
11:28 AM ET

Obama aide: Iraq speech not a victory lap

Dan Lothian
CNN White House Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/08/31/oval.office/c1main.oval.jpg caption="President Obama will give an Oval Office address Tuesday night about the end of combat mission in Iraq." width=300 height=169]

Programming note: Watch President Obama's speech live on CNN tonight at 8 ET, online, on TV and on the CNN App for the iPhone.

Washington (CNN) - When President Obama steps into the Oval Office to deliver his prime-time address on Tuesday, he won't be taking a victory lap and won't utter the words "mission accomplished, a top aide says. Instead, the president will have a "change of mission" moment, where he explains the way forward in Iraq and thanks U.S. troops for their sacrifice.

The address, which is expected to last between 15 and 20 minutes, will mark what the White House is calling an important "milestone" and a campaign promise accomplished.

Related video: U.S. combat mission role in Iraq comes to an end

While the president's remarks have not been released, top aides say Americans will hear about the end of the combat mission in Iraq, about the challenges of forming a unified and stable government, and about the new role for the fewer than than 50,000 U.S. troops remaining to advise and assist Iraqi security forces.

Full story

Filed under: Dan Lothian • Iraq • President Barack Obama • Raw Politics
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