August 27th, 2010
09:54 PM ET

Video: In the kitchen with NOLA chef John Besh

Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

Chef John Besh grew up in Louisiana, stayed in New Orleans through Hurricane Katrina, endured the BP oil spill and today owns six restaurants in that city.

He told us today that the city came back stronger after Katrina, and while it’s not something you wish would happen, he said it made the town tougher.

While stirring a pot of crabs in the kitchen of his restaurant August, he told us that together, everyone resurrected the city.

For more of Anderson’s conversation with chef John Besh, tune into AC360° tonight, 10pET

Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Jill Billante
May 14th, 2009
10:15 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Credit card holder's bill of rights?

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Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

Good morning everyone!

Today, President Obama will hold a town hall in New Mexico to discuss credit cards. This is a story that effects everyone, wouldn’t you say?

The Senate is currently debating a “credit card holder's bill of rights” and the president says he wants to sign that bill by Memorial Day.

Yesterday, the Senate stripped the current bill of a provision that would have capped interest-rates at 15% in an effort to push the bill through. But, that seems to be a very important part of the legislation. Are these lawmakers bowing to pressure from credit card companies? Some of them of course took bailout money from the taxpayers.. the very people they are charging additional fees.

That’s right, in anticipation of the bill passing, the credit card companies have added new fees to millions of consumer accounts and they’ve also tripled late fees to nearly 150 dollars in some cases. Let’s hope this Congress and this president stand up to these companies. Tom Foreman will be keeping them honest.


Filed under: Jill Billante • The Buzz
May 11th, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Health care reform, Cheney still in the spotlight

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Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

Good Morning everyone. There’s quite a bit cooking this Monday morning, so let’s get started.

The president will be talking about health care reform today. During the campaign, of course, the president talked about providing health care for everyone in the United States. Health care reform was to be a top priority for his administration.

The cost of his grand plan seems to be the biggest stumbling block. The 10-year plan would save American families $2,500 in the fifth year and 2 trillion dollars over 10 years for the nation.

Interestingly enough, industry representatives and a labor union are behind this plan. Should industry groups be writing health care reform legislation?

What do you think about health care reform in this country?

Elsewhere in Washington, former VP Dick Cheney manages to stay in the spotlight. He says now that he would follow Rush Limbaugh instead of Colin Powell as GOP leader. Not much of a surprise there considering the alleged bad blood between the two, but it does give us another look inside a GOP party in disarray. The DNC has taken this opportunity to launch a new ad campaign slamming the Republicans.

What was that promise about bringing bipartisanship back to Washington? Seems not everyone got the message.

And, this week the Senate is set to vote on a credit card bill of rights and the president is set to hold a town hall on the topic this Thursday. Joe Johns is planning to dig into credit cards for us tonight. He’ll be keeping them honest. Credit card companies received bailout money from the very people they still charge with outrageous fees and interest rates. Some say the interest rates they charge are tantamount to loan-sharking. We’ll have that tonight as well.

Filed under: Jill Billante • The Buzz
May 6th, 2009
09:22 AM ET

Morning Buzz: President Obama's Afpak strategy

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Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

Good morning, everyone. This morning there is plenty of news percolating in Washington.

President Obama is set to meet with the Pakistani and Afghani presidents today to discuss the insurgent violence in the region. The Administration wants Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to work together to fight al Qaeda and other extremists.

At the same time, Congress is debating a now 94 billion dollar war funding bill that would fund the wars we’re fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan through September.

Hopefully tonight, we will talk to Fareed Zakaria about the foreign policy challenges we’re facing in the region.


Filed under: Jill Billante • The Buzz
May 4th, 2009
09:40 AM ET

Morning Buzz: 1,000 confirmed cases of H1N1 and counting...

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Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

Good morning everyone. I took the subway to work this morning and now that I’ve thoroughly washed my hands, let’s get started.

There is quite a bit of carryover news from last week. H1N1, otherwise known as Swine flu, continues to be a top story. Right now, there are nearly 1,000 confirmed cases worldwide and 26 deaths. Meanwhile, St. Francis Prep in Queens, New York, the first school to close at the start of the outbreak, re-opened today. Are you still concerned about the swine flu?

Over the weekend, lots of talk about the future of the GOP party after Sen. Arlen Specter’s defection to the left side of the aisle. Specter said his move should be seen as a “wake up call” to a GOP party that has become too conservative. What do you think?

The sniping has already started about who President Obama should choose to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. Republicans charged that Obama's stated desire to pick someone with "empathy and understanding" masked an intention to pick a judicial activist who would try to pull the high court significantly to the left. Democrats dismissed the GOP charge, arguing that Obama - a former constitutional law professor - would tap a candidate committed to equal justice and not use a high court opening to pursue a partisan political agenda.

And there is outrage this morning in the wake of the acquittal of two teenage boys accused of beating an illegal immigrant to death in Pennsylvania. Prosecutors called it a hate crime. Hispanic-American leaders in eastern Pennsylvania say they'll take the case to the DOJ and urge federal charges against two white youths acquitted of slaying the man.

Meanwhile, Madonna's appeal to adopt a 3-year-old girl started in Malawi's highest court Monday as a man claiming to be the father said he was fighting for custody of the child. The 50-year-old singer had filed a petition to adopt Chifundo James, whose first name translates to mercy in Chichewa, the country's national language. Her adoption was denied last month because Madonna did not meet a residency law that requires applicants to have lived in the country for some time before adoption.

More at 10 p.m. ET – see you then!

Filed under: Jill Billante • The Buzz
April 30th, 2009
09:25 AM ET

Morning Buzz… Joe Biden: Foot in Mouth Disease?

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Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

Well, just one day after the president marked his 100th day in the oval office with a prime-time press conference highlighting his Administration’s accomplishments, and one day after he told Americans to use common sense preventative measures to avoid the swine flu, President Joe Biden makes some very curious remarks indeed.

Biden, this morning, said on NBC’s “Today”, “I would tell members of my family and I have, I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now. It’s not that you’re going to Mexico, it’s you’re in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation suggesting they ride the subway. Um, so from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you’re out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that’s one thing, if you’re in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom its a different thing.”


Filed under: Jill Billante • The Buzz
April 29th, 2009
10:00 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Obama’s First 100 Days and more!

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Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

This morning, the president’s first 100 days are on our mind. President Obama has taken on plenty since taking office a short time ago. He’s dealt with and is still dealing with an economic crisis. At the same time he works to make good on his campaign promises on issues like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and stem cell research.

Tonight, CNN will be grading the president’s performance. How do you think the president has done? Let us know. We’ll be live-blogging here starting at 8p and we’ll be on the air until midnight.

President Obama is already out bright and early this morning, speaking to cameras with Senator Arlen Specter about his decision to cross the aisle and became a Democrat. He took the opportunity to talk about the first death here in the United States from the swine flu. A two-year-old child died in Texas from the virus. He urged Americans to take necessary precautions to spread the virus, highlighting common sense advice like hand-washing and keeping children who are sick out of school. A school in Chicago, Obama’s former stomping ground, closed a school today because of swine flu concerns.


Filed under: Jill Billante • The Buzz
April 9th, 2009
06:43 PM ET

Bird’s eye view .. of celebs

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Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

One of the many great things about being a producer at AC360° is our fantastic view. Our office is on the seventh floor of the Time Warner Center and is rimmed with a wall of windows. We have a gorgeous view of Central Park and the East side of Manhattan.

Another great perk is that we often interact with celebrities and newsmakers everyday. Most of the time it’s part of the job, but sometimes it’s in passing, not connected to work, like in the hallway or in the elevator and then it feels like a bit of a thrill.

Today, the two came together. There was a bit of commotion in our large newsroom when we saw cameras and lights being set up out on the balcony ledge right outside. As journalists we are a naturally curious bunch, so immediately we all started craning our necks to see who was being interviewed. Who is it? What’s going on out there? They’re interviewing a guy with a bun!


Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Jill Billante