November 27th, 2008
09:29 AM ET

Thanksgiving 220 miles from Earth

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Thanksgiving marks the busiest travel period of the year as people take planes, trains, and automobiles to visit loved ones on every corner of this nation.

Others take the shuttle…the space shuttle that is.

I present to you Thanksgiving 2008 – From Outer Space:

We have a seasonal medley of Smoked Turkey, green beans and mushrooms, candied yams, corn bread stuffing, a spot of tea, and cran-apple dish for desert! (that's the stuff on the right)

For astronauts aboard the space shuttle ‘Endeavour’ this is the meal they will sit down to this evening… OK, well, they won’t be sitting – no fancy place-settings or designated seats here. Just a bunch of floating guests with trays VELCRO'ed to their clothing (I never liked assigned seats anyway).

It’s not every space-mission where you can experience Thanksgiving 220 miles above Earth. The last time this happened was six years ago!

I have to imagine there’s nothing like celebrating 'Turkey Day' eating Turkey while looking at Turkey… the country… all of it… from your window.

The seven astronauts and three crew members from the International Space Station will take a page from the very first Thanksgiving– sharing all that they have with each other… They’ll have to – Seems NASA only launched 6 Thanksgiving meals up into space this year…. So as the Indians first shared their feast with the Pilgrims – We hope our astronauts slice that freeze-dried turkey a little more thinly for that lonely Russian cosmonaut on board.

Speaking of freeze-dried turkey…

Feel bloated after Thanksgiving dinner? Have that urge to loosen the belt, unbutton your pants? No problem when there’s no gravity! Plus, if you’re counting calories tonight…compared to your family’s meal, its not too bad. Let’s break it down for you:

According to NASA the average Thanksgiving meal racks up 3,000 calories while their ‘out of this world’ meal only costs you 700 calories!

Reporters were privies to a taste test of the holiday dinner. One AP reporter noted:

“The smoked turkey was slightly stiffer than deli meat, like after it has been left in the refrigerator a week past its expiration date. The candied yams had a syrupy sweetness outside that dissolved into blandness in the middle. The green beans with mushrooms tasted like they have been frozen and then microwaved to an inch of their life.”

Despite the not-so-rave-review, I think our space crew has a lot to be thankful for up there (hello?!? No in-laws!). Astronauts aboard the Mercury program missions ate food-paste out of a tube for dinner!

So before you take issue with how Aunt Sally prepared the white-meat this year… Think of the meal happening miles and miles over your head…. Let you never complain the Turkey was too dry again…

Filed under: 360° Radar • David M. Reisner • Global 360°
November 13th, 2008
11:24 PM ET

The countdown that called the election

Watch the crowd in Grant Park, Chicago react to CNN's Projection for President of the United States.
Watch the crowd in Grant Park, Chicago react to CNN's Projection for President of the United States.

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Wanted to share something cool with you.

Election night at CNN was one of the busiest nights of the year... as producers, reporters, and control room staff scrambled to get viewers the latest projections as polls closed in states across the country.

But it seems for those of you watching us, it was a whole different story.

Who knew crowds were counting down with CNN's 'poll closings' as if it was New Year's in Time Square!?!

One countdown in particular brought an instant double-reaction from many crowds;

Flash back to Nov 4 – The time is 11:00pm ET – Polls are closing in 10 seconds in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii...

Crowds begin count down: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 .... Ready to cheer when our countdown clock hits '1' (as they did six other times that night)... except this time it's different.

CNN calls the race...

One pro-Obama website that clearly couldn't get enough of the victory has pulled together the best clips from across the country, and around the world of that moment; Showing people's instant reaction to CNN's projection of Barack Obama's presidential win. (For the record, there aren't many videos of that moment at McCain parties.... though they were cheering for their candidate all night long as well)

What I find amazing is that you can literally hear the moment it registers with them... The applause for the countdown switches mid-cheer to that of total surprise.

Take a look (and a listen)

Filed under: David M. Reisner • Raw Politics
October 22nd, 2008
10:56 AM ET

al Qaeda: The Looming Terror

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

7 years after 9/11 many experts al Qaeda has regrouped, re-organized. The video tapes and audio tapes keep coming... promising more attacks. But those who know al Qaeda best say the only chance we have to defeat it, is to understand its past, see where its strengths lie today, and know where it wants to go in the future.

AC360° sat down with Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer prize winning author of "The Looming Tower: al Qaeda and The Road To 9/11" and CNN Terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, one of the few journalists to have met Osama bin Laden, and author of 'The Osama Bin Laden I Know: An Oral History."

Some of you might be familiar with this special when it first broadcast earlier this year, others may have seen it streamed live on CNN.COM on the 7th anniversary of 9/11.

The feedback from both broadcasts was tremendous so we decided to place all parts of the program online for you to view:

In part one we investigate the underpinnings of al Qaeda & the man whose trip to America inspired bin Laden's jihad

In part two we investigate bin Laden's descent into the shadows of radical Islam and a war that made him an underground legend.

In part two we look at how and why bin Laden turned his sights on America.

In part four we investigate how the terrorist group decimated after the U.S. response to 9/11 could rise again.

In part five we investigate how the U.S. and the world can defeat this new type of enemy.

Filed under: al Qaeda • David M. Reisner • War on Terror
September 17th, 2008
06:18 PM ET

After Ike: Baptist Church now a Lion's Den?

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

One of the most powerful images to come out of Hurricane Ike was from the town of Gilchrist, Texas. This was the town whose near total destruction could be summed up in this now iconic image... showing one house left standing in row after row of wasteland. (See Gilchrist,TX before and After Ike)


But of all the stories we heard during the storm, and all the images we have seen, there was one tale that I heard which I could not believe until I saw proof.

Today we have proof.

Meet Shackle, an 11-year-old African lioness as she lays on the altar at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Beach, Texas. The lion and her owner (who collects exotic animals) waded through Hurricane Ike flood waters to the church after they were unable to make it off Bolivar Peninsula prior to Ike's landfall.

Chuck Jones, who led a task force that landed on the peninsula east of Galveston put it best when he said "We're not going in there... We know where he [the lion] is on the food chain."

Filed under: David M. Reisner • Hurricane Ike
September 15th, 2008
10:11 PM ET

Gilchrist, Texas: Before & After Ike

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

I came across a series of photos from photographer David J. Phillip, showing the devastation to Gilchrist, Texas from a helicopter tour.

From the air, you can really see the impact; with the Gulf of Mexico seen at right, one beachfront home stands among the debris. Ike was the first major storm to directly hit a major U.S. metro area since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.

I decided to find that home using Google Earth. Take a look at what the region looked like before Hurricane Ike struck, and what we now see today…

Filed under: David M. Reisner • Hurricane Ike
September 2nd, 2008
01:35 PM ET

Gustav, Hanna, Ike, and now Josephine?

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

So yesterday I told you about the formation of Tropical Storm Ike. Looks like it's not going to calm down for a while.

A new tropical storm has formed in the eastern Atlantic to make a total of four named storms currently at large. Tropical Storm Josephine

The National Hurricane Center says Josephine is the 10th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Josephine has top sustained winds near 40 mph and is moving west at 15 mph. It could be near hurricane strength on Wednesday or Thursday. Right when we'll be dealing with Hanna, and possibly Ike.

Take a look at the projections. Still very early, but wanted to share:

Now this isn't the first time Tropical Storm Josephine has appeared. Back in October of 1996 there was another storm named Josephine, responsible $130 million dollars in damage (around $180 million in todays dollars). Let's hope we don't see Josephine make a second visit.

September 1st, 2008
05:07 PM ET

NEXT UP: (after Hanna) Tropical Storm IKE?

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Looks like there is another tropical storm out there… no I’m not talking about Hanna (that’s now a Hurricane). I’m talking about Ike. Currently located in the Mid-Atlantic, this tropical storm’s path appears to be headed toward the Caribbean, towards Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic/Haiti and the Bahamas.

It’s still too soon to know exactly where it will go, or if it will amount to anything, but with two storms spinning out there… one already making landfall, and one more approaching the U.S. coast by the middle of this week… I just wanted to alert you.

From the National Hurricane Center:

September 1st, 2008
03:26 PM ET

McCain’s V.P. pick: What if…

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/01/art.jindal.jpg caption="Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal"]

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

As Hurricane Gustav pounds Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal has stood strong, holding press conferences every day since the threat increased in the warm Gulf waters.

He is stationed at the command center in Louisiana’s capitol, Baton Rouge.

Up until a few days ago he was on the short list for a potential promotion to the nation’s capitol as Sen. McCain’s “second in command.”

Widely considered a rising star in his party, speculation on Jindal as McCain’s V.P. choice increased this summer when he was one of a handful of politicians McCain invited to his home in Arizona.

The nation’s youngest governor is a staunch social conservative who could have possibly offset any reservations Republicans had about McCain’s conservative credentials.

Jindal will spend this week protecting his citizens, and the nation will become more familiar with the face behind a name.

Although Jindal is in the hot seat, he is also in the spotlight; it’s a spotlight that was supposed to be focused on another young Republican governor.


August 31st, 2008
01:54 PM ET

Levee Breaches: Explained

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Three years ago, it was the failed levee system that inflicted the most damage to New Orleans.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his concerns for New Orleans related to areas of potential weakness in the levee system.

There were over 50 levee breaches 3 years ago. Rebuilding the levees is still a work in progress.
In fact, New Orleans’ levee infrastructure is not expected to be complete until 2011.

When you hear the term ‘levee breach,’ what does that mean exactly? A levee breach can come from any number of scenarios. I put together a slideshow to show you all the different ways a levee can fail. Take a look:

Levee Breach slideshow

Filed under: David M. Reisner • Hurricane Gustav • TV
August 27th, 2008
08:30 AM ET

Heavy weather for both conventions

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/27/art.3split.jpg]

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Their 2008 convention has hardly given Democrats time to relax and enjoy the festivities. The Obama campaign has spent two days swatting off attack ads, making nice with the Clintons and their delegates… and, oh yeah, retooling the party’s message with all eyes on Denver.

It’s been a mixed success. Barack Obama's choice of Sen. Joseph Biden for vice president has not given him any bump in national polls. In fact, a Gallup poll this week shows McCain now leading over Obama 46 to 44 percent, marking the first time since June that Obama has trailed. And the McCain camp is not holding back.

McCain has been trying to knock Obama and the Democrats off message during commercial breaks with a new ad using Hillary Clinton’s own words (and her 3am ad) against Obama. You can bet we’ll see the same with Biden’s critiques of Obama earlier this year.

Clinton’s speech last night was the biggest firecracker in the Democrats' box so far. She aimed to calm the nerves of a divided party and deflate McCain attempts to crash the party.

Obama has a lot of "healthy pressure," as David Gergen put it, to perform in the wake of her speech. Even if Obama’s "closing curtain" speech, as James Carville put it, ignites the party, the McCain camp has the water bucket ready to try dowsing the Democrats' fire, planning his own VP announcement Friday morning…and the Republican National Convention next week.

So it just might pay to go last this time…

But life isn't so simple. FULL POST

Filed under: David M. Reisner • Raw Politics • T1
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