November 24th, 2008
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 11/24/08

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Tonight, Anderson is off, Soledad O'Brien is in. The markets rally for a second straight session, cheered by the news that Citigroup received another 20 billion dollars of your money, and President-elect Barack Obama chose his economic team. Does the new team have the solution to the economic crisis? Does Citigroup deserve more money? Tell us what you think about these new developments.

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Filed under: Live Blog
November 24th, 2008
08:16 PM ET

Obama's burden of hope

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Bob Shrum
The Week.com

In Florence, where I participated in NYU’s conference on the U.S. election held at the university’s Florence campus, we dined at Trattoria Garga, which offers, among other delicacies, the best chocolate tart perhaps anywhere on earth. Though I well knew what I would order there, I glanced down perfunctorily at the menu just the same. There on the cover was a photo of the owner’s infant grandson—swaddled in an Obama tee shirt.

Overseas, Obama is, as a McCain commercial once alleged, the “biggest celebrity in the world.” Five days prior to the Florence conference, we had been at a similar presentation at NYU’s new site in Abu Dhabi. If the mood there was less euphoric, it was no less hopeful. On the Arabian Peninsula, the question was whether Obama, facing an economic crisis, could afford to fully engage on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No one expects him to turn his back on Israel; but they want him to function as an honest broker and leader in the peace process and to do it from day one.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Bob Shrum • Raw Politics
November 24th, 2008
08:03 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Obama names economic team and urges action

Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

Timing can send a powerful message. Today President-elect Obama tapped Timothy Geithner to serve as his Treasury Secretary. It’s the first Cabinet selection he’s announced, another signal that the economy is the No. 1 issue on his agenda. Obama also named several other top economic officials, including former Harvard President Larry Summers, who’ll head up the National Economic Council. Tomorrow, Obama is expected to tap Peter Orszag as his budget director.

Today’s appointments were expected – the rumors drove a Wall Street rally on Friday. What really caught everyone’s attention was this: Obama said plain and clear that he expects Congress to begin working on a massive job-creating stimulus bill even before he takes office. (The new Congress comes into session on Jan. 6, two weeks before Obama will be sworn in.) It’s rare—if not unprecedented for a president-elect to make such strong calls to action.

Obama’s news conference came just hours after President Bush announced the government will spend billions more to bail out Citigroup, which has already received $25 billion in rescue funds. The incoming and outgoing presidents also talked on the phone, their first disclosed conversation since a visit at the White House more than a week ago.

Tonight we’ll have full coverage of all of this – from Obama’s high-powered economic team and what it’s up against to the new life-line for Citigroup and possibly other companies to what that major stimulus bill will actually cost – and where the money could go.

What questions do you have about all of this? Let us know.

We’re also going to look at the possible imprint that Michelle Obama will make as First Lady. Will she change the way we think of the role?

See you at 10 p.m. eastern…

Filed under: Barack Obama • Cate Vojdik • Raw Politics
November 24th, 2008
07:59 PM ET

A President's absolute power – Pardons

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Program Note: See CNN Senior Analyst Jeffrey Toobin's analysis of President Bush's pardon today of more than a dozen convicts on AC360 tonight at 10pm.

Terry Frieden
CNN Justice Department Producer

The President has such total absolute power in granting clemency that he does not even have to receive a request for a pardon or commutation to grant one.

Most clemency applications are made to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney where an elaborate and detailed process is followed. After checks which include consultation with the FBI and prosecutors and judges and corrections officials, a recommendation for granting or denying clemency eventually goes to the Deputy Attorney General who may change it, or send it back, or forward it to the White House General Counsel. And finally it goes to the President.

That’s the normal procedure. That’s how most pardons and commutations are screened and ultimately approved. But none of the reasons for granting a pardon or commutation are ever made public, so we don’t know WHY a President and his administration officials approve the applications. We do know most applications received are ultimately rejected because the Justice Department annually lists the number of petitions received, granted, and denied.

And every time a list of pardons comes out, once or twice or three times a year, it prompts puzzled looks, because so many of the crimes seem to be garden variety drug or fraud cases, and it remains a mystery what exactly prompts Presidential intervention.

A pardon is a forgiveness for the commission of a federal crime. It cannot be filed until five years after an individual has finished serving his sentence and parole, or until five years after a conviction if there was no sentence. A commutation is a shortened sentenced for someone serving time. It does not forgive the crime, or wipe it off the books, but simply shortens or immediately ends the prison sentence.

November 24th, 2008
07:33 PM ET

Pardon me? Don’t bet on it.

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Program Note: See CNN Senior Analyst Jeffrey Toobin's analysis of President Bush's pardon today of more than a dozen convicts on AC360 tonight at 10pm.

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

The Justice department is getting flooded with a new wave of requests for pardons and commutations from convicted felons hoping for clemency from President Bush before he leaves office. A number of politically connected Washington lawyers have been retained to push the cases, but there are few signs that Bush will be open to anything resembling the last minute "pardon party" that marked President Clinton's final days in office.

Bush has taken a stingy stand on pardons, granting fewer of them—just 157, and none of them high profile—than any president in modern history. He has directed all hopefuls to submit applications to the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney, which evaluates all requests using strict, longstanding guidelines, including a requirement that applicants have finished serving their sentences and expressed remorse. The office received a record 555 pardon requests during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 and an additional 103 in the past month.

Washington superlawyer Ted Olson, who served as solicitor general during Bush's first term, has submitted a pardon request on behalf of former junk-bond king Michael Milken, who is seeking a pardon for his 1990 securities-fraud conviction. Other commutation applicants include Marion Jones, the Olympic sprinter who was convicted of lying about steroid use, and John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban," now serving 20 years for providing material support to a terrorist organization.


Filed under: Justice Department • Raw Politics
November 24th, 2008
07:25 PM ET

CitiGroup gets your money

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2007/BUSINESS/10/11/gulf.inflation/art.dollar.bill.gi.jpg]Program Note: Be sure to tune in to watch Ali's full report on breaking news on the government's economic rescue effort tonight on AC360 at 10pm.

Ali Velshi | Bio
CNN Senior Business Correspondent

Back after Hurricane Katrina – after covering so many stories about how the insurance companies seemed to be deliberately trying to find ways to not pay the legitimate claims of insured hurricane victims, I embarked on a mission to find someone who had a good plan to work around the insurance companies. A way to insure your home against risk without going through one of the big, heartless companies. Know what I found?


In fact, there's no way to spread risk without pooling it. And insurance companies are the very pooling of that risk. As unsavory as it is, they do it, and the only reason they engage in the risky business, is because there's a promise of a good reward.

Its the same thing with banking. There are few ways to make money more easily than paying someone a little bit to hold their money, and then lending that same money to someone else for more money. The risk is that the person you loaned it to doesn't pay you back, and the person who loaned YOU the money wants it back. Someone's legs are going to get broken in the process. It's a risky business, but if someone doesn’t do it, people won't be able to borrow money to take their own risks – risks that could make them rich, and employ other people.

Because of these risks, companies who engage in them, at the highest and most important levels, are called FULL POST

Filed under: Ali Velshi • Bailout Turmoil • Economy • Raw Politics
November 24th, 2008
07:24 PM ET

Beat 360° 11/24/08

Ready for today's Beat 360°?

Everyday we post a picture – and 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:

Sir Paul McCartney attends the switching on of the Christmas lights at the Stella McCartney Store Monday, in London, England.

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.

Beat 360° Challenge

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When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
November 24th, 2008
06:50 PM ET

A Biden dynasty in the making

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Ted Barrett and Kate Bolduan
CNN Capitol Hill Unit

The appointment of Ted Kaufman to temporarily fill the Senate seat of Vice President-elect Joe Biden fits into a much speculated scenario that has Biden and other key players in Delaware paving the way for Biden’s son Beau to one day win his father’s seat.

Kaufman, a long time close aide to the older Biden, announced immediately after being appointed by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, D, that he would not run to complete the 6 year term when a special election is held in two years. That clears the way for Beau Biden, who is Delaware’s attorney general, to run without the difficulty of having to challenge an incumbent Democrat.

Beau Biden might have been appointed to the seat now except that he is deployed with his National Guard unit for the next several months in Iraq.

Joe Biden is “keeping the track open for his son to take the seat,” said an aide to Delaware Lt. Gov. John Carney, a contender for the appointment who was passed over.

The senior Biden issued a statement Monday saying “it is no secret” he thinks Beau would be a great senator and praised his son for announcing last week that he would decline a possible appointment in order to fulfill his military obligation.

VP-elect Biden said anyone who runs in the special election will do so from a “level playing field.”

And while that may be true, the decision by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, D, to select a place-holder does hold open an opportunity for Beau Biden that probably would not have existed if his father wasn’t the sitting senator.

Filed under: Joe Biden • Kate Bolduan • Raw Politics • Ted Barrett
November 24th, 2008
05:02 PM ET

Heroes Nominator: "If there was ever someone who deserves this... it is Liz"

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


Liz McCartney is dedicated to helping Hurricane Katrina survivors in St. Bernard Parish, a community outside New Orleans.
Liz McCartney is dedicated to helping Hurricane Katrina survivors in St. Bernard Parish, a community outside New Orleans.

James Mister
Nominated Liz McCartney | HER STORY

I first met Liz at Camp Hope... The volunteer base camp in Violet Louisiana.

I was volunteering as Camp Chef and a mutual friend introduced us. I had already heard about Liz and Zack and knew that they had given up their comfy lives in D.C. to come back to NOLA and start The St. Bernard Project.

Needless to say I was very impressed and felt honored to meet such a person. To be there and see the dedication and hard work that Liz and her crew put in day after day is truly inspiring.

These people are Saints. They help primarily the poor and the elderly, always treating them with love and compassion. They put the welfare of others before their own. They are largely responsible for me staying 9 months longer than I had planned.

Upon my return to California I noticed the CNN Heroes segment and immediately thought of Liz.


Filed under: CNN Heroes
November 24th, 2008
05:01 PM ET

War is stealing Congo's young

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Lindsay Branham
Special to CNN

The border was hauntingly empty. No military, drenched in green, patrolling. No AKs slung over shoulders. No Swahili floating through the air.

Just the pitter-patter of rain falling to the ground and turning the dirt road into a river.

To the right some secondary school students huddled beneath an overhang.

From a village close to Rutshuru in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they had fled an attack by the rebel group, the CNDP, led by a renegade general, Laurent Nkunda. Jean said they were at school when the rebels came. The men with guns marched the boys outside and ordered them to file into a line.

"We were so scared," said Jean, "we ran into the bush." Adamant that they did not want to fight, that they did not want to become soldiers, Jean explained how they had to hide themselves in the forest to escape being abducted. Many of their friends, though, were taken.


Filed under: Lindsay Branham
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