November 18th, 2008
12:32 PM ET

Excuse me automakers: Is that my stapler?

Tom Foreman
AC360° Correspondent

I’m looking into the claims of the auto industry about all the bad things that will happen without a bailout, and I can’t help but think about that guy Milton in the movie Office Space.

The big car makers and their unions are making a powerful case for taxpayers (that means you, BTW) to pony up some dough and help them out of their troubles. They say too many jobs, too many towns, too many states will suffer too badly if their industry is not rescued. Anarchy will rule. Dogs will sleep with cats. Apocalypse now.

Problem is, making the case for a bailout seems to be the most popular game in DC these days, no matter what troubled industry is on the table. The argument is always the same: We’re too big to fail, and if we do, we’ll take all of you down with us. It’s like big businesses all over have wrapped themselves in a shield of taxpayer-hostages.

I’m not dismissing their arguments. There is a lot of truth in the notion that if we let some of these big firms fold, we’ll all feel the collapse in our own finances.

I also have no idea how many will ultimately be bailed out, but I’m pretty sure the government money train will screech to a halt right before it reaches my station…or yours.

Which is why I’m thinking about Milton Waddam. I keep seeing images in my mind of all of us normal taxpayers, struggling to pay bills, put kids through college, maybe save a little money, keep our jobs and our sanity; finally reaching the point where we say, “Enough! We need a bailout, too!” And at the moment, I suspect, we’ll be like Milton waiting on that slice of party cake. We will be polite, patient, and quietly dismayed as we slowly realize everyone else has gotten theirs, and nothing is left for us.

The thing Washington has to worry about, however, is not Milton’s disappointment, but Milton’s revenge. Don’t forget the end of the movie. The taxpayers who buy the bailout arguments now are expecting results. They expect the economy to get better, and if it doesn’t, Democratic and Republican politicians can expect those taxpayers to get even when the next election roles around.

Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Economy • Finance • Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
November 18th, 2008
11:45 AM ET

Pirates anchor $100M supertanker off Somalia

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/africa/11/18/kenya.tanker.pirates/art.sirius.star2.ap.jpg caption="An undated photo of the Sirius Star in South Korean waters."]
David McKenzie
CNN Contributor

Pirates are believed to have anchored a hijacked supertanker carrying up to $100 million worth of crude oil off Somalia Tuesday, its operator has said.

The 25-man crew of the Sirius Star - including British, Croatian, Polish, Filipino and Saudi nationals - are reported to be safe, according to Dubai-based Vela International Marine.

"Our first and foremost priority is ensuring the safety of the crew," said Vela President Salah Kaaki. "We are in communication with their families and are working toward their safe and speedy return."

The Saudi-owned vessel, the largest vessel seized to date in an escalating regional piracy crisis, was seized on Saturday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya in what Saudi Arabia's foreign minister called "an outrageous act."


Filed under: Global 360°
November 18th, 2008
11:35 AM ET

What will life be like in 2020?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/TECH/11/07/future.designs/art.kure.jpg caption="Designer Fatih Can Sarioz designed this table like a flower that can be opened and closed."]
Anouk Lorie

Here's a sneak peek at some fascinating concepts and groundbreaking work being developed by 21st-century visionaries.

Some of these designs are already working prototypes, while others could be introduced in the next five years.

They present an insight into the kind of products that will become must-haves in the future.

Beyond the Fold

They leave you with inky fingers and are not exactly eco-friendly - two reasons why some people regard newspapers as objects of the past.

With his 'Beyond the Fold' design, Sebastien Bettencourt of the Art Center College of Design in California manipulates physical elements of the e-paper to move the reader through digital content that can be accessed wirelessly.

By simply moving or shaking the paper, live information can be accessed.

Planilum light

Hate changing light bulbs? What if you never had to change another lightbulb again?

French designer Tomas Erel of SAAZS has created beautiful lights that last almost a lifetime. The planilum lights last approximately 50,000 hours, or 20 years, and use non-toxic gases and recyclable materials.

Unlike other light technologies, the light in these designs does not come from bulbs or other distinct sources but from the design material itself, called planilum. Photo See gallery of all the future designs »

Each planilum light panel, which can be incorporated into a shelf or table or can stand alone, is less than an inch thick and composed of four layers of glass, nontoxic gas, and phosphorescent compounds. Planilum emits a soft glow and can be touched without risk of burning. Also, unlike incandescent bulbs, it is energy efficient and 90 percent recyclable.

The lights are being produced by Saazs and come in various creative designs.


Filed under: Technology
November 18th, 2008
09:53 AM ET

My Execution: Seen through the Killer’s Eyes

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Jose Angel Moreno is a 41-year-old condemned inmate on death row in Texas.

On January 22, 1986, the then 18-year-old Moreno kidnapped a man and murdered him with a bullet to the head.

His execution by lethal injection was scheduled for May, 2007. However, Moreno was given a last-minute stay.

In chilling detail, Moreno described what he thought would be his last day alive. From the trip to the death house to the preparations for the execution, Moreno offers a rare perspective of capital punishment.
His account was posted on Deathwatchjournal, an anti-death penalty weblog. It’s worth a read:

This letter is to all the friends I left behind on Death Watch: Leonel Rodriguez, Mangy Dogg, Chino Ruiz, K-loc(o), and Gilberto Guadalupe Reyes.

I haven’t been back from death-house two days yet and already you all have found a way to send me a card with all those touching words in it. One would think that I had died over there. But, you know what, fellas? It was real good to hear from you guys.

Maybe I did die over there. The experience was life-changing, even borderline traumatic. The person that left to the Walls Unit on that day is definitely not the same person that came back. You all knew me, who I was, my beliefs (or lack of) and all the crazy things I did. If we could talk, like the many days and nights we did, you all would know for a fact that something happened to Moreno. Since we can’t talk, hence the letter.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
November 18th, 2008
09:37 AM ET

Crime Blotter:Strong arm bandit; Vice arrests

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/10/art.crimeblotter.jpg]

Compiled by Gabriel Falcon
AC360 Writer

Welcome to the 360 Crime Blotter.

Some of the best crime writing comes from cops on the beat. But it’s not fiction. It’s fact, put down on paper in incident reports. We’re going to bring you their first-hand accounts. Taken from police department web sites, the official submissions run the gamut from mundane misdemeanors to the most serious of felonies. They all show what police officers across the country face 365 days a year. So let’s get started:

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/18/art.crimeblotter.atl.jpg]

Atlanta Vice Arrests:

See mugshots of ATL arrests

Philadelphia Police Department:

During the period between 09-05-2008 and 11-08-2008, Philadelphia Police discovered a robbery pattern that involved mostly elderly victims. The robberies were being perpetrated by a male described as a black male, light complexion, in his 50’s. These robberies were spread out across several police districts, but they seemed to occur mostly in Northeast and Northwest Police Divisions. All of the complainant’s in these cases were leaving or exiting super markets or shopping areas.

The Philadelphia Police Major Crimes Division, along with South, Northeast, and Northwest Divisions coordinated their investigative efforts, and a suspect was developed by investigators. On 11-10-2008, that suspect, Clifton “Sonny” Wright was located and arrested on a Failure to Appear bench and a violation of the Megan’s Law Act.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Department:

On Sunday, November 9, 2008, Suspect Guy James Fernandez, age 42 from Santa Rosa, was arrested by the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety (RPDPS) for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. Shortly after the arrest, Fernandez began to exhibit signs of medical distress. Fernandez was transported to Memorial Hospital where he died.

At about 8:12 PM, the RPDPS received a call regarding a person (later identified as Fernandez) who was suspected of shoplifting and was creating a disturbance at Walmart, 4625 Redwood Drive. While officers were en-route to the scene, they were advised that Fernandez was reportedly brandishing a six foot rod.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
November 18th, 2008
08:02 AM ET

Heroes Nominator: She is proof anything is possible

Program Note: CNN Heroes received nearly four thousand submissions from 75 countries. A Blue Ribbon Panel selected the Top 10 CNN Heroes for the year, and over 1 million of you voted for your CNN HERO OF THE YEAR

A Global Celebration: Thanksgiving Night at 9p ET


Amy Meyer
Nominated Viola Vaughn | HER STORY

Meeting Viola Vaughn was a transformational moment for me. It was in 2006 when I was teaching at a small university in Senegal, where Viola was already something of a local legend. I, meanwhile, was becoming disillusioned about “making a difference” in Africa, amid all the bad news and charges of waste, incompetence and corruption. I was eager to meet someone who was known for having real impact, helping thousands of local girls to stay in school longer, and to acquire employment skills.

The first thing I noted about Viola was her radiance… immense charisma and presence… in a petite grandmother… dazzling smile, gorgeous African clothing, aura of absolute serenity and faith. Viola is proof that anything is possible, and everything will always be OK.

The second thing I noticed was the exquisite quality of the pastries she brought to our meeting, made to international standards, by the rural African girls in her pastry shop. This was my introduction to one of several businesses Viola had started to provide modern, functional work and training for “her” girls, as well as income for her 10,000 Girls program. Viola is a social entrepreneur who has created a sustainable education and training program to raise the standard of living for hundreds of African families, without the slightest compromise in quality and rigor.


Filed under: CNN Heroes
November 18th, 2008
08:02 AM ET

Obama followed his own advice and shattered all racial barriers

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/04/art.obamacap.ap.jpg]
Errol Lewis
Daily News

America still finds herself bowled over by the dazzling newness of Barack Obama — his youth, his unusual personal story, the way his ascent to the White House shatters racial barriers.

But the man elected to be the 44th President of the United States also radiates qualities as old as America itself. Obama’s two memoirs describe the same kind of personal and political search for meaning that led 17th century Puritans on a journey into the wilderness, trying to build a New Jerusalem pleasing in the eyes of God and a beacon to a troubled world.

“What went ye out into the wilderness to see?” is the divine riddle the Puritans pondered and burned into our political culture.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Raw Politics
November 18th, 2008
08:00 AM ET

What will 67% of the Latino vote get you?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/11/12/latino.vote/art.latinovoters.gi.jpg caption="A new voter registers at a Democratic Party booth in September in Denver, Colorado."]
Marisa Trevino
Latina Lista

The importance of the Latino vote is now an irrefutable fact. Not because Barack Obama was able to garner 67 percent of the Latino vote versus Sen. McCain’s 31 percent, but because Latinos turned out in record numbers in key battleground states turning the electoral college tide in Obama’s favor....

Since this is politics, the kind of support Latino voters gave the Democratic Party did come with strings attached. The big question is does that payback come in the form of a key Cabinet position going to a Latino/a or can it be satisfied with the Obama Administration addressing in his first 100 days an issue that was among the top three for Latino voters...


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
November 18th, 2008
07:45 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Happy Birthday Mickey

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Hey everyone:

President Bush will announce plans to open 2 lanes of military airspace to commercial planes and ease congestion over Thanksgiving holiday weekend. On this very brisk Tuesday morning, all my colleagues and I can think about is flying to a warm place involving a beach and palm trees, so that’s the first story catching our eye! It’s a nice idea, at least.

But just how will the current state of the economy affect travel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend? AAA releases its annual turkey weekend travel forecast later today, so we’ll keep an eye on that. Are you planning your normal holiday travel routine? Or is home ‘where the heart is’ this year? (translation: it doesn’t cost you anything to get from your kitchen to your living room).

Congress doesn’t have to worry about the chill factor today, because it’s going to be HOT on Capital Hill when Auto Company CEO’s from GM, Ford and Chrysler show up to press their case for Mucho Dinero to save their businesses. We’ll hear the now-familiar arguments – Need Bailout Money. Need to Survive (insert Gloria Gaynor in background). The collapse of the Big 3 will have a devastating impact on the economy etc. Please give us a piece of the bailout pie.

With some pressing the case to bailout the Big 3 and alluding to catastrophe if this is not the case, we are asking Tom Foreman to paint a picture of how the next few months could evolve in the scenario that the automakers DO NOT get the cash injection they seek, he'll have this story tonight.

Treasury Sec Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and others update the Financial Services Committee on The Bailout: where has this money gone, which govt agencies are involved in bailout, and who is overseeing it? Critics of this plan say oversight of the bailout program is lax, some lawmakers have “buyers remorse’ for approving the $700 billion and even introduced legislation to stop the remaining $350 billion from being paid out. Ali Velshi will update us tonight.

As for President-Elect Obama, we know he’ll hit the gym as he does every morning, this is one standard appearance he makes, but more closed-door meetings are expected as he crafts his new Administration. Will we get any confirmation of HRC as SOS? That is, if Bill Clinton passes the ‘vetting test’.

Yesterday we reported that some of his post-presidential activities are coming under scrutiny, for example his charitable foundation which receives money from ‘foreign interests’. Careful analysis of which foreign entities we are talking about would be required from the Obama transition team to avoid potentially embarrassing future situations, in the event HRC is offered the post and accepts.

Oh, and for you trivial pursuit aficionados, Mickey Mouse turns 80 years old today. What a life he has had: successful relationship with Minnie, a steady job, and a great gig involving entertaining folks from around the world in sunny vacation destinations. Lucky him. See you tonight at 10pet!

Filed under: The Buzz
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