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June 18th, 2009
03:54 PM ET

42 million people uprooted worldwide

Program Note: The U.N.H.C.R. released their annual report on the refugee crisis Tuesday. Tune in tonight for special coverage of World Refugee Day tonight at 10 p.m. ET. And learn more about how you can help by visiting Impact Your World.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The number of people forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide stood at 42 million at the end of last year amid a sharp slowdown in repatriation and more prolonged conflicts resulting in protracted displacement. The total includes 16 million refugees and asylum seekers and 26 million internally displaced people uprooted within their own countries, according to UNHCR's annual "Global Trends" report released today.

The new report says 80 percent of the world's refugees are in developing nations, as are the vast majority of internally displaced people – a population with whom the UN refugee agency is increasingly involved. Many have been uprooted for years with no end in sight.

Although the overall total of 42 million uprooted people at year's end represents a drop of about 700,000 over the previous year, new displacement in 2009 – not reflected in the annual report – has already more than offset the decline.

"In 2009, we have already seen substantial new displacements, namely in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia," UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said. "While some displacements may be short-lived, others can take years and even decades to resolve. We continue to face several longer-term internal displacement situations in places like Colombia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. Each of these conflicts has also generated refugees who flee beyond their own borders."

The report counts 29 different groups of 25,000 or more refugees in 22 nations who have been in exile for five years or longer and for whom there are no immediate solutions in sight. This means at least 5.7 million refugees are living in limbo.

Read more...


Filed under: Impact Your World • United Nations
June 18th, 2009
03:19 PM ET

Anderson tweets his travel nightmare

Anderson Cooper
AC360° Anchor

@andersoncooper: Ever feel like your day is cursed? Was heading to dc today to intv Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie. Sounds simple right?

@andersoncooper: Last night learned Clinton was injured in a fall and was canceling. Just now my plane was diverted back to NY.

@andersoncooper: Trying to set up interview with Jolie via satellite. Stay tuned.

@andersoncooper: Oh yeah, almost forgot, mid air, a lighting flash lit up the plane. "Dear God, what was that!" The flight attendant exclaimed...

@andersoncooper: That was the same flight attendant who was seen clutching a barf bag. It was not a fun flight.

@andersoncooper: Intv is on with Jolie. That is if a bolt of lighting doesn't strike the car I'm in. Entirely possible given my luck so far today.

To see Anderson's interview with Angelina Jolie, tune in tonight to AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

And follow Anderson on Twitter @andersoncooper.


Filed under: 360° Q & A • 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Behind The Scenes
June 18th, 2009
03:01 PM ET

Rose Mapendo's dedication to helping refugees

Program Note: Tune in tonight for special coverage of World Refugee Day tonight at 10 p.m. ET. And learn more about how you can help by visiting Impact Your World.

Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon nominated Rose Mapendo as a CNN Hero.

Mapendo, a Tutsi, survived 16 months of harrowing atrocity in a Congolese death camp with her children before their life-saving rescue and resettlement.

Her journey ultimately led to her collaborative establishment of Mapendo International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying, saving and resettling endangered refugees.

"She's the story of the power of forgiveness," says Sarandon.

June 18th, 2009
03:00 PM ET

Bill Dillon Roundup

Plain Error
Innocence Project of Florida

There has been a flurry of activity recently surrounding the case of William Dillon.

Dillon was exonerated by DNA testing in November of 2008 and released from prison the next month. As we have mentioned a handful of times earlier, his case involved the testimony of a one John Preston who, with his dog Harass II, made the rounds providing fraudulent testimony to convict whomever the police wanted him to. Preston has been exposed as a charlatan and a fraud, and it was believed he was “regularly retained to confirm the state’s preconceived notions about cases.”

Read more...

June 18th, 2009
02:26 PM ET

Legalize pot? Why not legalize being a loser?

An unsuspecting house, from the outside, but inside it's home to 42 marijuana plants.

An unsuspecting house, from the outside, but inside it's home to 42 marijuana plants.

Drew Griffin
CNN Special Investigations Unit

If you just drove by this house, you would never know what’s inside that walled off garage. But under a stifling Florida sun, the garage is a cool 70 degrees, a constant flow of cool, nutrient-rich water flowing throughout the floor, and illuminated by golden glowing lamps whose radiance bounces off reflective aluminum walls. It is all designed to provide maximum growing potential for the 42 mature marijuana plants evenly spaced in this factory of pot.

After seeing this, my initial reaction is that the fight to eradicate marijuana in this country is hopeless. But does that mean we should give up and legalize pot?

For two weeks, knowing I was assigned to this story, I have been asking that question to the many prosecutors, DEA agents and police I’ve encountered. The overwhelming answer is no. There is no doubt, in the minds of these people who come in contact with users, growers, smugglers and junkies, that marijuana use is terrible for the individuals who engage in it. It is not just a pathway to stronger drugs; it is, in and of itself, a recipe for losers. People who call themselves ‘casual users,’ in the minds of law enforcement, are deluding themselves into believing they are not affected by this drug. They compare it to the drunk who believes he can actually drive better with a few drinks inside.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Drew Griffin
June 18th, 2009
01:54 PM ET

A Q&A on human trafficking

Program Note: Tune in tonight for special coverage of World Refugee Day tonight at 10 p.m. ET. And learn more about how you can help by visiting Impact Your World.

Russian police acknowledge that human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a major problem.

Russian police acknowledge that human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a major problem.

E. Benjamin Skinner
Author and Journalist

Before being sworn-in last week as President Obama’s Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Luis C. de Baca was one of the nation’s most decorated federal prosecutors, and helped to write the principal U.S. law on modern-day slavery, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

On Tuesday, the same day that he and Hillary Clinton released a State Department report condemning 69 countries for failing to do enough to combat trafficking, I spoke with de Baca about his 15-year career, which has included more than a hundred successful convictions of human traffickers.

What is modern-day slavery?

Ambassador de Baca: Modern-day slavery, also called human trafficking, is the phenomenon of people being held in some form of service using coercion.

How much of this is sex trafficking?

Ambassador de Baca: International trafficking and trafficking here in the United States is a big problem whether it’s in the sex industry or labor. While a lot of attention has been paid to sex industry over the years, and it is a terrible there, the problem is in the labor sector as well. Regardless of whether the underlying service is in the labor or sex sectors, we see widespread, routine sexual abuse of women who are being held in servitude no matter what it is that they are being forced to do. That’s something that we have to confront regardless of the labels of sex or labor trafficking. So we’re looking to see whether the ideas about trafficking that are gaining some currency worldwide can actually be applied to all forms of trafficking rather than simply one of its many aspects.

FULL POST

June 18th, 2009
01:30 PM ET

Watching Iran: From the streets of Marrakech

Moussavi supporters rally Wednesday in Tehran, Iran. Released by Fars News Agency of Iran.

Moussavi supporters rally Wednesday in Tehran, Iran. Released by Fars News Agency of Iran.

Gary Tuchman
AC360° Correspondent

What is happening in Iran is fascinating to people the world over. But the prism through which those in the Islamic world observe it is so much more unique and nuanced.

I am currently on vacation with my family in the exotic and delightful city of Marrakech, Morocco. Morocco is one of the most moderate Muslim nations, yet it isn't a place where you would organize large scale protests against the government if the impulse struck you.

Skating on my rollerblades through the medina (the old walled city) is a great way to start up conversations here, and Moroccans I am meeting want to talk about the images they are seeing on TV.

Most people I've met are exhilarated about the concept of autocratic and dictatorial regimes no longer being able to completely control the message. They are aware that many of the world's nations operate under the axiom that if you don't allow bad news to get out, then you don't have any bad news.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Gary Tuchman • Iran
June 18th, 2009
01:18 PM ET

Iran 101: Understanding the unrest

Students rally atop a building Monday on the campus of Tehran University.

Students rally atop a building Monday on the campus of Tehran University.

Saeed Ahmed
CNN

For almost a week, tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in daily protests - handkerchiefs shielding their faces from the pungency of tear gas, fists punching the air, and chants of "Down with the dictator" echoing against buildings.

The massive outpouring is a result of a disputed presidential election that the protesters think coronated the incumbent hard-liner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over their candidate, Mir Hossain Moussavi.

Context can help put their grievances into perspective:

Q. The Iran that we know today is the result of the Islamic Revolution. What is it?

A. The Islamic Revolution is the name given to the Iranian revolution of 1979, when the ruling U.S.-supported monarchy was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was forced into exile.

The country held a national referendum to become an Islamic republic and approve a new constitution.

The constitution was a hybrid of democracy and unelected religious leadership. It appointed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - the leader of the revolution - the supreme leader of the country.

Keep reading...


Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran
June 18th, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Health care costs to jump 9% in 2010

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Employers in the U.S. will see health care costs rise 9% in 2010, and most expect to pass on that increase to their workers – meaning higher deductibles, premiums and co-payments.

According to a report from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, more workers are likely to utilize their health insurance coverage as a result because they fear they will lose their jobs, and more uninsured and underinsured people will turn to Medicaid for coverage.

There are some 50 million Americans in this country that are uninsured.

Unemployment rolls decrease somewhat

Whether you're an optimist or a pessimist, there's something for you in today's jobs report. The total number of Americans on the unemployment insurance rolls has dropped for the first time since early January, although first-time claims for jobless benefits rose slightly.

The Labor Dept. says the number of people claiming benefits for one week or more fell by 148,000 to 6,687,000 million, the largest drop in more than seven years and a sign that layoffs are easing.

Still, initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 to 608,000 last week, topping analysts' expectations.

On a state-by-state basis, Arkansas was the only state to report that initial claims decreased by more than 1,000. Pennsylvania reported the most new claims at 6,891.

Chrysler set to reopen most plants

Many Chrysler employees will soon be back on the back to work.

The automaker announced plans Wednesday to reopen 7 of its 11 assembly lines later this month for the first time since the day after the company filed for bankruptcy in April.

Chrysler said two plants in Michigan, one in St. Louis and one in Toledo will reopen during the week of June 29. Two factories in Ontario, Canada will also reopen as well as one in Mexico.

The 7 plants make a variety of Chrysler vehicles, including the Dodge Grand Caravan, Jeep Wrangler and the Chrysler Town & Country.

In addition, the company is reopening several factories that make powertrains, axles and other components used by the assembly plants. Chrysler's parts distribution centers, which supply parts to both plants and dealerships, will also reopen.

Auto startup to open plant in Louisiana

A new car company is planning to open its first factory in what used be a headlight plant in a small town in northern Louisiana.

Louisiana economic development officials are enthusiastic about the endeavor which they say will create thousands of jobs. But for now, executives with California-based V-Vehicles, which has backing from billionaire T. Boone Pickens and the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, are not saying exactly what type of vehicle the company plans to build.

Pickens has been active in promoting natural gas for use in automobiles, but it isn't clear what form of energy will fuel these cars.

No letup in gas prices

Gas prices rose 6-tenths of a cent overnight to $2.685 - the 51st consecutive increase.

In the last 51 days, the average price of gas has increased 63.7 cents or 31.1%. The average price of a gallon of gas is down $1.44 or 35.1% from the record high price of $4.114 that AAA reported on July 17, 2008.

The highest gas prices are in Hawaii ($3.041) and California ($3.025). The cheapest gas prices are in South Carolina ($2.503).


Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Finance • Gas Prices • Job Market
June 18th, 2009
01:04 PM ET

Will clean energy hurt low-income Americans?

President Obama has said the U.S. must focus on  green energy

President Obama has said the U.S. must focus on green energy

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins
CEO, Green For All

A common argument among opponents of strong climate and energy legislation is that transitioning to clean energy will hurt the economy and low-income Americans.

In an op-ed this week, Senator James Inhofe wrote that the American Clean Energy and Security Act will have a “devastating impact on the economy… cost millions of American jobs” and result in “higher electricity prices in our homes.”

Others suggest that they oppose clean energy investments for the sake of low-income people who, they say, would suffer under a green economy.

This argument is scary, no doubt. It is also utterly false.

Today, Green For All, NRDC and PERI released a report projecting the complete opposite of this disingenuous argument. The report, entitled “Green Prosperity: How Clean-Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States” finds that investments in a clean energy economy are good for Americans, especially low-income people.

Investments in a clean energy will create jobs. Lots of them. In fact, green investment will create three times as many jobs as the same investment in fossil fuels.

FULL POST

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