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June 5th, 2009
08:54 PM ET
June 5th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Militias making a comeback?

Scott Roeder, 51, is being held on a first-degree murder charge and two counts of aggravated assault.

Scott Roeder, 51, is being held on a first-degree murder charge and two counts of aggravated assault.

Chuck Hadad
AC360° Producer

Anti-government militias are gaining momentum in America and the reason might surprise you: the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Director of Research, Heidi Beirich, says Obama’s election and the country’s subsequent move to the left in politics has “started putting air in the balloon of the anti-government movement.”

She says the anti-government movement hit its height in 1996 after Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing but that movement started to collapse in the late 1990’s, in part as a result of intense government scrutiny and prosecution.

The number of anti-government groups operating in the U.S. reached all the way up to about 800 back then. The number was still about 149 as of last year 2008, the Center estimates.

Now the concern is that number will grow again. Beirich cites recent examples including Scott Roeder, the alleged killer of Dr. George Tiller, who belonged to an anti-government group called “The Freeman.”

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Chuck Hadad • Domestic Terrorism
June 5th, 2009
05:57 PM ET

Obama gets emotional about liberation of Nazi camp

President Obama visits Buchenwald with Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and survivor and activist Elie Weisel.

President Obama visits Buchenwald with Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and survivor and activist Elie Weisel.

Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

President Obama spoke emotionally Friday about his great-uncle's role in liberating the German concentration camp at Buchenwald, noting that for his relative "it was a memory burned in him for quite some time."

Obama told reporters that as a young boy he learned about the life of his great-uncle, Charles Payne, who had a "very difficult time re-adjusting to civilian life" after his time as an American soldier in the 89th Infantry Division. That division helped liberate the Ohrdruf forced labor camp, a subdivision of Buchenwald, which Obama is visiting for the first time on Friday afternoon.

At a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier on Friday, Obama said he chose to tour Buchenwald because "this one has a personal connection to me." He noted his great-uncle, who is his grandmother's brother, was in "shock" for some time over what he saw at the camp as a young soldier.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Ed Henry • President Barack Obama
June 5th, 2009
05:18 PM ET

Lebanon voting at a crossroads

A rally for Hezbollah supporters with yellow flags and their allies, the Free Patriotic Movement in Beirut.

A rally for Hezbollah supporters with yellow flags and their allies, the Free Patriotic Movement in Beirut.

Octavia Nasr
CNN Senior Editor, Middle East Affairs

Lebanon's parliamentary elections will determine which path the country will take in the next four years - the direction of Islamic militancy and closer ties to countries such as Iran and Syria, or a route to more westernization and openness.

A rally for Hezbollah supporters with yellow flags and their allies, the Free Patriotic Movement in Beirut.

The results will undoubtedly dictate the course for the entire Middle East. Will the region remain steadfast in the face of an Iranian growing influence and stature or will the threat of a Shiite spread create new hostilities, conflicts and even redraw some maps?

Whatever the election results in Lebanon, they will set the stage and tone for the new U.S. administration in its attempt to change its image in a troubled ever-changing Middle East.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • Middle East • Octavia Nasr
June 5th, 2009
05:04 PM ET

The rest of his life

If convicted, former state trooper Robert Higbee could spend at least 20 years behind bars.

If convicted, former state trooper Robert Higbee could spend at least 20 years behind bars.

Jami Floyd
CNN In Session Anchor

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. The death of Jacqueline and Christina Becker was a tragedy. But it was an accident, not a crime.

First there’s police procedure. Robert Higbee did exactly what he was trained to do as a state trooper. He saw someone doing 65 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. To pursue the speeder was his duty, not a choice. Moreover, New Jersey law specifically exempts police officers engaged in the pursuit of suspects from provisions of the vehicle code related to speed.

So that takes us to this particular trooper’s state of mind. Was he reckless?

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Jami Floyd
June 5th, 2009
04:08 PM ET

The spin from Tora Bora

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

There is just no pleasing some people.

No sooner does President Obama make his historic trip to the Mideast to declare a new age of better relations, and the Cranky Pants Club starts complaining. Osama bin Laden and his henchmen emerged from their hiding places to lob Molotov messages in his path, making it clear that for their purposes Mr. Obama can play the foil just as well as Mr. Bush.

President Obama said plainly: The United States is not at war with the Muslim world. Bin Laden’s counter: That’s what you think. The propaganda war is still raging, and every time a skirmish breaks out on that front, the Al Qaeda crowd begins with a kind of home field advantage.

Bin Laden succeeds in that clash with three key strategies.

First, he avoids overexposure. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been on their “Death to America/Down with the Great Satan” tour longer than Hall and Oates have been playing Rich Girl. Well, not quite. But we’ve all heard it, we get it, next.

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June 5th, 2009
02:52 PM ET

The other side of the abortion experience

Dr. George Tiller was one of the few U.S. physicians that performed late-term abortions.

Dr. George Tiller was one of the few U.S. physicians that performed late-term abortions.

Editor's Note: Dr. George Tiller, whose Kansas women's clinic frequently took center stage in the U.S. debate over abortion, was shot and killed while serving as an usher at his Wichita church Sunday morning. His death has sparked much conversation about abortion and late-term abortion. On Andrew Sullivan's blog on The Atlantic website, a number of people have weighed in with personal stories on the issue of abortion. Look at this one from a reader.

Andrew Sullivan
The Atlantic

A reader writes:

We've been on an adoption waiting list with a local agency for over two years now. We don't care about race or background, and we're fine with an open adoption. Our only wish is that our first child be an infant. (We're open to adopting older children later, after we have at least some experience as parents). As our friends seem to crank out kid after kid after kid, we wait. And we wait. While I continue to be staunchly pro-choice, it's not easy - I would give everything for a life that we could hold and know and love and raise as ours.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
June 5th, 2009
02:26 PM ET

GOP plays identity politics, too

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the judiciary panel's ranking Republican, meets with Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the judiciary panel's ranking Republican, meets with Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

By nominating U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, President Obama made history. Meanwhile, conservatives - by invoking the name of Miguel Estrada - are coming close to rewriting it.

Trying to find a way to oppose Sotomayor without further enraging Latinos, those on the right are trying to change the subject by reaching back to 2002 and recalling what happened to Estrada, President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

As conservatives point out, Democrats treated Estrada dreadfully. It was the first time in U.S. history that a minority in the Senate used a filibuster to kill an appeals court nomination. Eventually, Estrada asked Bush to withdraw his name. Today, he is still one of the best, most highly regarded lawyers in Washington.

And why did Democrats go after this nominee so aggressively? It's because - like Sotomayor - Estrada was a threat. The only difference is who feels threatened. Back then, it was Democrats. Now it's Republicans.

Keep reading...


Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor
June 5th, 2009
12:41 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Job losses slow dramatically

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Today’s crucial monthly employment report is an outright shocker and the best piece of economic news we’ve seen in this recession. Job losses slowed dramatically in May - even though the unemployment rate rose to a more than 25-year high.

The Labor Dept. says employers cut 345,000 jobs from their payrolls last month, down from the revised decline of 504,000 jobs in April and well below estimates for a loss of 520,000. This was the fewest jobs lost in a month since September, when the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers caused a crisis in U.S. financial markets and choked off credit for many businesses.

Still, the unemployment rate rose to 9.4% from 8.9% in April - the highest level since August of 1983. This is a bit of a paradox, but the numbers do come from different surveys.

And oddly enough, economists said the rise in unemployment is partly a sign of an improved jobs outlook. That's because people who had stopped looking for work started looking once again, and as such were classified as unemployed rather than “not in the labor force” - which is how the Labor Department counts most discouraged workers.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Unemployment
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