[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/08/05/nkorea.journalists/art.family.afp.gi.jpg caption="The families of Euna Lee, left, and Laura Ling greet them Wednesday in California."]
American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee are finally back home with their families after nearly five months of imprisonment in North Korea. Tonight, we will show you the emotional family reunion, the tears of joy and then Laura Ling in her own words talking briefly to the reporters.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to call former President Bill Clinton’s dramatic 20-hour long trip a private humanitarian effort. Tom Foreman will have more on Clinton’s role in this release and what impact this could potentially have on U.S. foreign policy in future. CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and Peter Brookes, a former defense department official and currently a senior fellow on National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation will join us live to talk more about this issue.
Also tonight, we have new details on that killing spree at a health club south of Pittsburgh we reported on last night. The police now reveal a possible motive. The insight coming from an online diary, as well as notes they found at the scene and at his home.
Editor's Note: In early June Anderson spoke to the families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, American journalists detained in North Korea. A couple of days later, Ling and Lee were sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of entering North Korea illegally. Former President Bill Clinton is in North Korea, unannounced, to negotiate their release.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/11/clinton.northkorea.journalist/art.korea.afp.gi.jpg caption="Supporters rally for U.S. journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling on June 4 in Seoul, South Korea."]
I wanted to share a story about Euna Lee, who along with Laura Ling, has been held in N. Korea for 4 months. As a mother, the story has been haunting me since I heard it. It haunts me because I can totally relate to Euna's actions.
Several weeks ago, we had Euna’s husband, Michael, over for dinner. I have never met Euna, and it was the first time I met Michael. Because of my brother’s close friendship with Laura Ling, it seemed natural to connect with Euna’s family, as well.
Michael is wonderful – vivacious, smart, funny. It was the first day, since this ordeal started, that he had left their 4 year old daughter, Hana. She was spending a night with his father. It was also the first time– at that time, the girls had been in captivity for about 3 months – that he was alone and could process his feelings. As other parents will relate, we often put aside our own emotions to focus on our children’s emotions.
In the last 114 days, my little daughter graduated from pre-school. My elder daughter completed 1st grade. My little nephew began to speak in full sentences. My husband and I have fought and made up several times. I have traveled to NY, Colorado, SF, Paris and London. We have had several dinner parties, and watched exciting finals in the NBA Finals and Wimbledon.
I have watched the Iran elections unfold into a potential revolution. I have watched with bated breath N. Korea test nuclear missiles. I have mourned the loss of Michael Jackson, who will go down in history as a legend, but who was also an old friend.
It has been 114 days since Laura Ling and Euna Lee were detained in N. Korea. 114 days of captivity in a foreign land, with almost no exposure to family or information. Two girls with a full life, with loving families.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/08/ling-lee-hostages.jpg caption="Euna Lee, left, and Laura Ling"]
In Session anchor
Two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, have been convicted of “severe crimes” in North Korea. North Korea is not a country known for its fair trials, so we don’t know what these “severe crimes” are; but we do know that the women had previously been charged with “hostile acts” and espionage — which, of course, fuels rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and calls for a delicate diplomatic balancing act.
There is the humanitarian issue: trying to get these women out; and there is the political issue: North Korea, its nuclear testing and relationship with the rest of the world.
There are no diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea.
This whole mess with Laura and Euna started when they were filming a documentary on the North Korean border with China.
Editor's Note: Two U.S. journalists who were detained in North Korea while covering the plight of defectors living along the China-North Korea border have been sentenced to 12 years in labor prisons, the country's state-run media said Monday.
The Central Court of North Korea sentenced Laura Ling and Euna Lee for the "grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing," the Korean Central News Agency said.
As a result, the court sentenced the women to "12 years of reform through labor," meaning they will serve out their sentence in a labor prison. Watch Anderson's report on the situation as Ling and Lee were about to go to trial last week.
Editor’s note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle. Ling has been a co-host of The View, correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic and Channel One. She filed this blog from Nigeria.
AC360° Special Correspondent
I’m so upset by what I experienced here today that I can barely think straight.
I’m in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, a place essential to the U.S. economy.
The communities along the delta literally live atop a virtual goldmine—black gold that literally make’s the world’s engines run. Oil. Underneath the surface of the ground here, lies one of the richest sources of crude oil on the planet.
Nigeria is the 5th largest supplier of oil to the United States and is the 12th biggest oil producer in the world. It was discovered here in the 1950’s, and big oil companies have been pumping hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil out of the ground here ever since. Over the years, it’s made some people colossally rich. Colossally.
Logic would suggest that the people living above this tremendously lucrative resource would benefit from its riches. But the situation here defies logic. The millions of people who live along the delta are considered some of the world’s poorest. There is no electricity and clean water and basic services like medicine and quality education are severely lacking.
How can this be?
Editor’s note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle. Ling has been a co-host of The View, correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic and Channel One. She filed this blog from Chad.
AC360° Special Correspondent
Today was a day filled with both extreme jubilation and utter horror.
I’m using the last bit of my computer battery whilst sitting under a mosquito net at the Tinga Camp in the Zakoma National Park in southeastern Chad. We are here to report on the astronomical reduction of Central African Elephants in the region. We’re with Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Mike Fay, who has conducted comprehensive surveys of the region’s elephants over the years. He says over the last four decades, the number of Central African elephants has dwindled from nearly two hundred thousand to several thousand: the pace of the loss has been hugely shocking and disturbing. The global demand for ivory combined with war in neighboring Sudan has nearly killed off the Central African elephant. These elephants are the largest land animals on earth and have roamed the region for thousands of years. They have proven, however, to be no match for man and his gun.
Our day started early. After fueling, we boarded a Cessna airplane in search of elephant herds. Fay says that having an airplane greatly impacts the ability to survey the elephant population but also to defend against poachers. People are not allowed to live in the park, but from the air, we saw camps of nomads living just beyond the borders.
We flew for about an hour and a half without seeing any elephants. I was starting to get sleepy-eyed when Fay surprised us by saying, “I’m seeing a lot of elephant activity.”