Tonight, the 200-million dollar myth. The made-up claims that President Obama's trip to Asia is costing taxpayers 200-million dollars a day. More than the daily cost of the war in Afghanistan. Who's spreading such a false story? We're keeping them honest. Plus, Sarah Palin's latest twitter controversy.
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Los Angeles, California (CNN) - U.S. authorities have discovered about 30 tons of marijuana that were part of a smuggling operation using a tunnel under the California-Mexico border, officials said Wednesday.
The 600-yard tunnel - which features a rail system, lighting and ventilation - connects a warehouse in Tijuana with one in the Otay Mesa industrial area of San Diego, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack.
About 26 tons of marijuana had been transported through the tunnel to San Diego, and 10 of those tons were intercepted Tuesday by authorities as a tractor trailer was transporting the load from the Otay Mesa warehouse, officials said. About five tons were found by the Mexican military inside the Tijuana warehouse and the tunnel, officials said.
Drug cartels on the border have become so powerful and sophisticated in recent years that many Mexican communities and areas along the border are patches of uncontrollable violence, experts have said.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media during a joint press conference with Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key at Parliament on November 4, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Marty Melville/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Update: Beat 360° Winners:
“I can see clearly now the reign is gone.”
“Are there any democrats here? Yes I see that one hand waaaaaay in the back.”
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama says the results of the midterm election make it clear that the public is not happy with the performance of his administration. But is he finished? Well, that’s an interesting way to pose the question…
Dear Mr. President,
Your choice of the word “shellacking” to describe what your party was given in the midterm election was interesting, and I think it was more apt than many of us may have realized. I was intrigued by that choice of language because my dad used that word a lot and he, like you, was from Chicago.
So I decided to do a little research on the word and what I found was interesting. Shellac is a resinous substance used, among other things, for finishing woodwork or furniture. This I already knew, having used it while working with my father many years ago.
What I did not know is that it comes from the sacs of female lac beetles in India and Thailand (not to be confused with the Lack Beatles, who were an ill-considered, all-girl, pop-punk band from Boise). These beetles secrete this substance as they make…well, whatever it is that they are making - could be cocoons, could be pillows, could be tiny toaster ovens for all I know - and the substance is collected. I don’t precisely understand the collection process and I don’t suppose I need to; journalism is a shaky profession, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never become a lac beetle farmer.
(CNN) - The trip to the Varner Correctional Facility in Grady, Arkansas is about an hour’s drive south of Little Rock, past cotton fields and wide-open sky. We arrive two hours early for our 9 a.m. interview. Armed guards on horseback keep watch over the “hoe teams,” newly arrived prisoners lined up shoulder-to-shoulder tending the grounds outside the electrified prison fence.
Damien Echols is housed in the high security “super max” wing on death row along with about 40 other men. He tells me he is in solitary confinement, alone in his cell virtually 24/7. The lights are turned off at 10:30 p.m. and he wakes four hours later at 2:30 a.m. when the lights come back on. He gets one hour of “outdoor” time every day in an enclosed pen that one prison official describes as a “dog run” – concrete on three sides, a tin-roof above and a chain link door in the front. Echols says he can’t really see the sky from there and, besides, the air smells bad, he says, because of the cell’s location. He says he has very little contact with the other death row inmates – the only regular noise he hears is the screams of one of the men that he says has psychiatric problems.
When we arrive for what is supposed to be an hour long visit, Echols is waiting for us in a thin corridor with small cells on each side. Prisoners sit on one side and visitors on the other, separated by what looks like a thick plastic window. He is surrounded by prison guards who hold his arms, though there seems to be no place for him to run even if he wanted. His hands and feet are shackled, connected by a leather leash. As a prison official opens the corridor, Echols begins a slow steady walk for our camera. Having done this many times before, he’s well aware we’re rolling and walks slowly and steadily, gazing straight ahead. He enters the cell, framed by blue bars, and sits on a small counter touching the plastic window. He smiles at me and says “Hi.”
Washington (CNN) - Fresh off an electoral shellacking for his Democratic Party, President Barack Obama heads to India on Friday to launch a 10-day Asian trip intended to expand export markets and strengthen security cooperation in what he considers a region vital to U.S. interests.
The trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan encompasses a G-20 summit, an Asia-Pacific Economic Council summit, major holidays in India and Indonesia, and bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and at least five other leaders, as well as four presidential news conferences.
It's all part of an administration focus on Asia as a strategic region in the 21st century, said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
Deborah Feyerick and Stephanie Chen
Grady, Arkansas (CNN) - Some things about Damien Echols remain unchanged since he was sentenced to death in 1994 at the age of 19 after being convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys.
At 35, his favorite holiday is still Halloween. To celebrate, friends say, he sends them hand-made jack-o'-lantern cards. He longs for contact with the outside world.
"I miss the things that most people take for granted, things people don't want, like rain," Echols told CNN in a face-to-face interview airing on tonight's "AC360°."
"To go out and touch it and get wet, or to feel snow. I loved snow my entire life, and I haven't had that in almost 20 years now."
From the Varner Unit of the Arkansas prison system, Echols maintains his innocence 16 years after he and two other teens were convicted of murdering three Cub Scouts - Michael Moore, Christopher Byers and Steven Branch. On May 6, 1993, police in the rural community of West Memphis, Arkansas, found their bodies bruised and mutilated, their arms and legs hogtied with their own shoelaces.
Program Note: CNN Heroes received more than ten thousand nominations from 100 countries.. A Blue Ribbon Panel selected the Top 10 CNN Heroes for the year. Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year continues through November 18th (6am ET) at CNNHeroes.com
Nominated Linda Fondren | HER STORY
There is a well-known Biblical poem with the verse, “A woman of valor who can find? Her value is far above jewels.”
Linda Fondren is just such a woman and her efforts to try to eradicate the alarmingly high obesity and diabetes rates in her native Vicksburg and across Mississippi – efforts that are nothing short of Herculean – are invaluable.
CNN Senior Political Contributor
Editor's note: Ed Rollins, a senior political contributor for CNN, is senior presidential fellow at the Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency at Hofstra University. He is a principal with the Dilenschneider Group, a global public relations firm. He was White House political director for President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
New York (CNN) - The 2010 election is over and the voters have made an overwhelming statement: "Things need to be different in Washington and across the country." They have chosen representatives at every level to make that happen. The election results are historic and far-reaching.
The last thing Americans want to start thinking about is another election two years down the road, but I guarantee you the White House is looking at the electoral map, assessing the damage that has been done to its re-election strategy and planning its re-election campaign right now.
Equally important, in the very near future many Republicans will be starting (if they haven't already) their planning process to begin seeking support in early caucus and primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and beyond. The Iowa caucus is February 6, 2012, and Republicans have it all to themselves this time. (I assume the president won't be challenged on the Democratic side). If these candidates want to succeed they must begin now.
The results Tuesday have convinced many of them that President Obama can be beaten. What a difference two years can make. The extraordinary candidate of 2008 who became the 44th president now looks very vulnerable.
People say to me, who do you have who can beat President Obama? First and foremost, re-elections are about the incumbent. If the country sours on a president, the voters start looking for an alternative. Someone will emerge. And I think we have some tremendous candidates with far more experience then the president had when he was elected.
The Republican victory in the House will likely make Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) the new chairman of the Budget Committee, where, at age 40, he's now his party's ranking member. From that powerful seat, Ryan plans to shape legislation that would impose strict restraints on spending, and tackle entitlement reform - a challenge that terrifies most of his fellow Republicans.
Ryan has been shaping a detailed plan to achieve a balanced budget strictly through dramatic reductions in spending, with no tax increases, for years. He spells out those ideas in great detail in his Roadmap for America's Future, a favorite target for the Obama administration. Put simply, Ryan's blueprint would preserve generous Social Security and Medicare benefits for the poor and sick who need those programs the most, while reducing payments for the wealthy and middle class Americans in the future.
But those reductions come with an intriguing free market twist: He'd introduce Medicare vouchers, for example, that could lower prices by turning seniors into informed bargain hunters for healthcare. The concept is that market discipline would lower prices, giving middle class consumers more buying power to cushion the lower benefits that, Ryan says, are inevitable legacy of future promises that can't be met.