December 1st, 2008
01:31 PM ET

It's the recession, stupid.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Unlike a lot of politicians whose campaign ads and public statements suggest they don't have an ounce of faith in the intelligence of their fellow citizens, I've always thought the people of this country are pretty smart. We Americans can smell a rat when one scurries through the room. We know when we're being fed a line of horse manure. And we know what's really happening in our lives, even when Washington says it's not so.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has finally made official what all of us knew a long time ago: America is in a recession. To be fair, the folks in charge of making this determination do so based on a broad analysis of a lot of economic numbers. Those numbers create a strict definition of when a recession begins, when it peaks, and when it ends. So these people can not just declare one at the drop of a hat. The recession we are in now, according to the NBER, began a year ago in December, 2007.


Filed under: Economy • Keeping Them Honest • Tom Foreman
December 1st, 2008
01:30 PM ET

Hillary Clinton Champions Women's Health Worldwide

Cecile Richards
President of Planned Parenthood

Late on election night, I received an email from a Planned Parenthood staff person, Njeri Wahome, in Nairobi, Kenya, to verify what she was seeing on television - that Senator Obama had won. "Can it be true? We are over the moon ... at the making of history." 

For a woman who has dedicated her life to improving the health of women and children in her home country, Njeri knew that a change in U.S. administration could have a dramatic impact on women in Kenya.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics • Women's Issues
December 1st, 2008
01:10 PM ET

Crime Blotter:Thanksgiving murder; attempted abduction

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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:


Boston Police Department


Death Investigation at 8 Malta Street in Mattapan

This morning around 12:22AM, officers from District E-18 (Hyde Park) responded to 8 Malta Street in Mattapan for a person shot.

On arrival, officers located a 29 year-old male victim suffering from several gunshot wounds lying on the sidewalk in front of 8 Malta Street. EMS responded to the scene and transported the victim to Boston Medical center with life threatening injuries. Once at the hospital, the victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced.

Boston Police Homicide detectives are actively investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident and appeal to any and all individuals who may have information relating to this incident to contact them at (617) 343-4470. Individuals who wish to provide information anonymously may do so by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or texting ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

Death Investigation at 416 Talbot Street in Dorchester

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
December 1st, 2008
01:05 PM ET

Why Bill Clinton is smiling

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Julian E. Zelizer
Author of "Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s"

Many observers use historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's term, "A Team of Rivals," to describe the cabinet that President-elect Barack Obama is assembling.

They use the term to characterize choices like former Obama opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton - expected to be nominated Monday as Secretary of State - and current secretary of defense Robert Gates who is being asked to stay on by Obama.

But a more useful term might be a team of centrists. The most striking characteristic of the current lineup is how the personalities reflect the centrist vision of the Democratic Party promoted by Bill Clinton and his colleagues at the Democratic Leadership Council in the 1990s.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Barack Obama • Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton • Robert Gates
December 1st, 2008
12:37 PM ET

Robert Gates: Wrong man for the job

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor and Publisher, The Nation

Barack Obama not only had the good judgment to oppose the war in Iraq but , as he told us earlier this year, "I want to end the mindset that got us into war." So it is troubling that a man of such good judgment has asked Robert Gates to stay on as Secretary of Defense–and assembled a national security team of such narrow bandwidth. It is true that President Obama will set the policy. But this team makes it more difficult to seize the extraordinary opportunity Obama's election has offered to reengage the world and reset America's priorities. Maybe being right about the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history doesn't mean much inside the Beltway? How else to explain that not a single top member of Obama's foreign policy/national security team opposed the war–or the dubious claims leading up to it?

December 1st, 2008
11:33 AM ET

Is Obama the man we thought?

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Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Seems everyone is noting that Obama's national security picks are more hawkish than Obama himself. Liberal blogs are fired up, some worried that Obama will go back on his peace-seeking promises. But that seems to assume Obama is a dove...that his opposition to the Iraq War was ideologically driven.

Some excited centrists, however, believe it shows Obama is more pragmatic than ideological... that he opposed the Iraq war because he thought it bad for the country, and he'll decide when and even whether to get out of Iraq based on what's good for the country.. and that he's picking national security talent based on what's good for the country.

This is the man who promised to step UP the war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, after all... which, these days, seems to mean inside Pakistan, too. Do you think he'll go there, as the Bush Administration has been?

Just as President Bush, after criticizing "nation-building" when he first ran for president, will Obama, the man who noted he was one of very few in the Senate who opposed the Iraq war, turn out to be a war president – of a different stripe?

What do you think...

December 1st, 2008
11:03 AM ET

Meltdown Warnings Ignored?

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Matt Apuzzo
Associated Press Writer

The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

"Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.

Bowing to aggressive lobbying — along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK — regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way.


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Economy
December 1st, 2008
10:27 AM ET

Do you feel like a Cyborg today?

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Happy "Cyber Monday" everyone! It's a designation coined by the retail industry for the first Monday after Thanksgiving, when workers return to their desks after the long holiday weekend and start clicking away at Websites ranging from Amazon to Zappos in search of one-day discounts free shipping offers. There will definitely be a spike in online sales today, but the busiest day is usually the last day to get things shipped in time for Christmas, which is about two weeks before the holiday.

Stores and online merchants were busier this weekend than they were a year ago, according to figures out Sunday, but signs persist that holiday shopping will suffer in the weakest economic climate in decades. The National Retail Federation says shoppers spent $41 billion over the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend. The average shopper spent $372.57, up 7.2% from the $347.55 spent last year. But there are fewer shopping days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than last year, so shopping was disproportionately heavy.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Economy
December 1st, 2008
09:17 AM ET

Obama's A+ Centrist Cabinet

John P. Avlon
AC360° Contributor

Today, Barack Obama will unveil his national security team – featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and National Security Advisor Jim Jones.

This is something of a centrist dream team, the latest sign of a confident, pragmatic president-elect who is fulfilling promises to appoint a 'Team of Rivals" while defying opposition campaign attempts to paint him as naïvely liberal.

Obama understands that Democrats have suffered from a deficit of confidence when it comes to national security and the economy. His cabinet appointments to date are designed to increase confidence on these fronts. Obama is showing himself to be cut from the same cloth as JFK: liberal on domestic policy, strong on foreign policy and the economy.

Hilary Clinton's appointment will gain the most attention from the media. She is a political star in her own right, possessing a global brand that will instantly add to her credibility in this office. But of course she was also Obama's most challenging rival in the 2008 campaign and his confidence in bringing her into his camp shows that he is the rare politician who is above petty interpersonal politics. Conservatives can take some comfort in this unlikely champion – because on most foreign policy issues she was decidedly to the right of the president-elect, especially when it came to Iraq and Iran.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • John P. Avlon • Raw Politics
December 1st, 2008
08:54 AM ET

Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy...and that new high-def TV you wanted

Jack Gray
AC360 Associate Producer

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, now it’s Christmas time in New York.  Frankly, I had forgotten all about it until I saw Santa trying to scalp tickets to Barack Obama’s inauguration.  I was struck by how shameless and cynical Santa had become.  Then I continued on my way to Central Park, where I watched smiling couples stroll arm-in-arm and tried to guess who among them were having affairs.

People tend to say that Christmas has gotten too commercial, but I beg to differ.  Take for example that sweet, soft-spoken couple I sat next to on the subway today.  I mean, if I didn’t know any better I would have thought they were Mary and Joseph themselves.  Because if there’s one thing I remember about Mary and Joseph it’s that they got into a obscenity-laced fight over whether Baby Jesus wanted an iPhone or a Blackberry Storm.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Christmas 2008 • Economy • Jack Gray
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