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December 7th, 2009
05:03 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: White House to slash bailout cost by $200 billion

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The Obama Administration is expected to slash the estimated cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program by $200 billion, effectively paving the way for a massive federal jobs program.

The latest projection, which will be officially unveiled by the White House this week, would cut TARP's price tag by $200 billion to $141 billion, according to a Treasury Department official.

And officials tell CNN that President Obama will recommend using the $200 billion to fund a series of projects - including building bridges and roads and weatherizing homes, as well as providing further aid to the unemployed and to small businesses. That’s expected to come in a speech on Tuesday.

Such a move is certain to draw fire from Republican lawmakers, who have railed against using any leftover bailout funds or money that has been paid back by banks for any new projects.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Bailout Turmoil • Economy
December 7th, 2009
03:36 PM ET

Knox verdict leaves many questions unanswered

Amanda Knox looks on during a session of her trial last week at the courthouse in Perugia, Italy.

Amanda Knox looks on during a session of her trial last week at the courthouse in Perugia, Italy.

Richard Allen Greene and Paula Newton
CNN

Amanda Knox is in an Italian jail, sentenced to spend the next 26 years there for the 2007 slaying of her roommate Meredith Kercher while the two were exchange students in Italy.

But despite a trial lasting nearly a year, many questions about the case remain unanswered.

Reporters who have covered the crime and its aftermath for years left Perugia after the verdict Saturday saying they felt they knew no more about what happened in Knox and Kercher's house on November 1, 2007, than they did when Kercher's partially naked body was found the next morning.

The verdicts against Knox, an American, and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito came early Saturday, delivered in a vaulted brick courtroom two levels below ground in this Italian university town. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in prison. A third suspect, Rudy Guede, was convicted earlier and sentenced to 30 years.

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Filed under: Crime & Punishment
December 7th, 2009
03:30 PM ET

U.S. defends its climate plan as talks open

Andrew C. Revkin
The New York Times

Jonathan Pershing, the State Department deputy special envoy on climate change, represented the United States as climate talks opened in Copenhagen on Monday. Mr. Pershing addressed reporters after the initial,  largely ceremonial and administrative, opening session.

At a news conference, he fended off questions from European reporters about the adequacy of  President Obama’s plan for emissions cuts, which is roughly parallel to what is laid out in legislation in the House and Senate. The proposal calls for a 30 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2025, 42 percent by 2030 and more than 80 percent by 2050.

He said the targets were in line with a long-term trajectory for emissions that scientists had defined as avoiding the worst risks, but only if all countries – including emerging economic powers among developing countries — did their part, as well. “It’s a vision that moves the United States down the curve of greenhouse gas emissions at a level that no other country has even begun to seriously contemplate,” Mr. Pershing said.

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Filed under: Environmental issues
December 7th, 2009
03:10 PM ET

Motive in Maine town killing?

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Valerie and Michael Miller were found dead inside their Webster Plantation home, investigators said.

Valerie and Michael Miller were found dead inside their Webster Plantation home, investigators said.

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

The couple slain in a small Maine town may have been killed because of the husband’s illicit drug and cash transactions, a family member of one of the victims told CNN. “Trust, me I got first hand knowledge of that,” said Rebecca Bickford, a cousin of Valerie Miller, who with her husband, Michael Miller, were found dead in their home in Webster Plantation, a community of a roughly 80 people.

Bickford said Mr. Miller sold drugs from his mobile house. “The number one thing would have to be pain killers,” Bickford said. “My cousin, Valerie, wasn’t into the whole business aspect. She was into the liking the money and material things. She disagreed with it, him being into that business, because it’s really dangerous, especially up in that area.”

Bickford also said Mr. Miller operated as an informal pawn broker and moneylender. “”He was into having his own pawn shop, buying cigarettes from a different state and selling them,” she said. According to Bickford, Mr. Miller would loan cash at a 50 percent interest rate, plus collateral.

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Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
December 7th, 2009
11:49 AM ET

Climate challenge demands political leadership

Nasheed: U.S. President John F. Kennedy chose to go to the moon. Our generation must choose to remain on planet Earth.

Nasheed: U.S. President John F. Kennedy chose to go to the moon. Our generation must choose to remain on planet Earth.

Mohamed Nasheed
President of the Republic of Maldives
Special to CNN

In September 1962, at a rally at Rice University in Houston, Texas, President John F. Kennedy told the American people: "We choose to go to the moon."

The speech set out Kennedy's historic vision for American involvement in space. At the time, the United States did not possess the knowledge, had not acquired the expertise or fully budgeted the money to make the pledge a reality. Yet Kennedy's bold announcement inspired a generation of Americans to make the seemingly impossible, possible. Seven years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their famous first step onto the lunar surface.

As world leaders prepare to leave for the Copenhagen climate change talks, to tackle the great challenge of this decade, we need a global vision equal to Kennedy's. Sadly, this political leadership is presently lacking.

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Filed under: Environmental issues
December 7th, 2009
11:44 AM ET

The distorted global-warming debate

David Frum says the global warming debate has been distorted by intellectual self-ghettoization.

David Frum says the global warming debate has been distorted by intellectual self-ghettoization.

David Frum
Special to CNN

I asked a knowledgeable environmentalist earlier this week: "How big a story is the CRU scandal in your community?"

"The what?"

"The e-mails hacked at the Climate Research Unit at [the British] East Anglia University?"

"Ah." He smiled. "It says something that I didn't immediately recognize what you were talking about. I suppose on my side we'd take the same view that the Pentagon took of Abu Ghraib: a few bad apples on the night shift."

Meanwhile, on the right, the story is the biggest scandal since the leak of the Pentagon Papers.

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Filed under: Environmental issues
December 7th, 2009
11:28 AM ET

Salvation lies in carbon trading

Carbon trading is said to be one way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon trading is said to be one way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Graciela Chichilnisky
Author and architect of the carbon market
Special to CNN

Two market mechanisms within the Kyoto Protocol can help overcome the North-South divide, and help reach a solution between rich and poor nations while overhauling the world's energy industry and creating win-win solutions for the world economy.

The carbon market that I designed and drafted into the Kyoto Protocol is now trading $120 billion annually through the European Union Trading System. It starts by setting firm emission limits and allows those who over emit to compensate those who under emit, so far by $120 billion per year.

This secures a firm lower emission ceiling and provides market flexibility, creating incentives to introduce new clean technologies and products. Through its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) the carbon market has provided an additional $25 billion investment in clean, productive commercial projects in developing nations that are compensated with tradable carbon credits.

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Filed under: Economy • Environmental issues
December 7th, 2009
11:19 AM ET

Why the Copenhagen climate talks matter

As of today, 15,000 people are expected in Copenhagen, Denmark.

As of today, 15,000 people are expected in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Steve Hargreaves
CNNMoney.com staff writer

It's a massive jamboree, with tempers on both sides of the issue running hot and no final deal in sight.

But even so, we'd better pay attention to what transpires here, the consequences of action or inaction may be massive.

Starting Monday, 15,000 people are expected in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over the next two weeks they're supposed to be hashing out a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, the global deal regulating greenhouse gases that expires in 2012.

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Filed under: Environmental issues
December 7th, 2009
11:15 AM ET
December 7th, 2009
11:12 AM ET

Dear President Obama #322: Never give up

Reporter's Note: President Obama is the first president I’ve ever known who is younger than I am, if only by a bit. So you might consider my letters to the White House the advice of an elder. You might, but I think that would be stretching it.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I have just ended a magnificent day. I mentioned in a previous letter that it was my birthday, and now I feel I really must elaborate. This was my 50th birthday. In addition, my wife and I share the same birthday. No kidding. So when we heard that our beloved Saints were coming here to play against the Washington Redskins on our birthday, we decided that as our gift to each other, we would get tickets for our two teenage daughters and ourselves and go. Mind you, this was a couple of months ago, when it was no one imagined that the Saints would still be undefeated by the time they arrived.

The game was cold and as you might have heard, extraordinary. The Saints, quite frankly, did everything wrong. Their offense was off key; their defense like a sieve. The Redskins played as if they were the unbeaten team; marching down the field time and again on offense, and hammering the boys from the bayou when the Skins were on defense. Yet, period after period, the Saints stayed around; persistently trailing in the points, but staying at least vaguely within striking distance.

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