We're following breaking news tonight, Senator Saxby Chambliss holds on to his long-contested Senate seat. We'll tell you how his win will affect the balance of power in the Senate, and affect the Obama presidency. How do you think the new Congress and the new President will work together?
And the Big Three automakers ask Congress for even more money. They presented plans that include job cuts and dollar a year salaries for CEOs, but will it be enough to convince lawmakers to give them billions? What do you think?
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GEORGIA ON MY MIND
Georgia has to be on President-elect Obama’s mind tonight.
Voters in the Peach State went to the polls today to decide the runoff election between Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Republican incumbent, and Democratic challenger Jim Martin. This race is a huge deal; the balance of power in the U.S. Senate is at stake. Chambliss’s re-election to a second term would prevent Democrats from gaining a filibuster-proof, 60-seat majority.
Neither candidate won 50 percent of the vote in the three-candidate general election. Republicans argue that Chambliss is a final firewall against unchecked Democratic power; Democrats say a Martin victory will assure Obama’s success in Congress. What do you think? At this time of economic crisis compounded by potential national security threats, is it more important for the new president to have a Congress he can work with – or is it preferable to have a check on Obama’s power with a divided Senate?
The polls closed at 7 p.m. ET. Early results seem to be favoring Chambliss. By air time we should know a lot more. We’ll have full coverage of the race and its consequences.
The Big Three automakers submitted their turnaround plans to Congress today – and surprise! They’re now asking for as much as $34 billion instead of the $25 billion they originally wanted. Their plans to revamp include salary cuts for top executives, the sale of corporate jets by General Motors and Ford and the possible elimination of two GM brands – Pontiac and Saturn.
The debate over an auto bailout took on new urgency today as the auto industry reported its worst sales in 25 years. U.S. and overseas automakers reported declines of more than 30 percent from a year ago. We’ll be digging deeper on all of this.
Meantime, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion bailout plan – the one that’s already handed out hundreds of billions of dollars – received it first report card from congressional investigators today – and it raises some bright red flags. The Office of General Accounting found that the plan lacks adequate oversight of banks’ potential conflicts of interest and lavish executive pay. Hmm. We’re eager to hear your thoughts on that.
U.S. governors have one of the toughest jobs in the nation right now – 41 states are forecasting budget shortfalls this year or next. Yesterday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency, saying his state could run out of cash within two months. Today in Philadelphia, President-elect Obama met with all the governors and promised that his economic recovery plan will include relief for them. He also asked them for their support and their input in drafting his recovery plan. Candy Crowley is on the story.
You may have heard about the band of pirates that was thwarted this weekend while trying to hijack a U.S. cruise liner in the Gulf of Aden. When we heard about the story we immediately envisioned the Love Boat cast of yesteryear rolling up their sleeves and getting scrappy (“Julie, you keep watch on deck! Isaac and Gopher - arm yourselves with these anchors and take no prisoners!”)
The chilling truth is that piracy is on the rise off the Somali coast – and that cruise ship was lucky to get away. Pirates have attacked about 100 ships along the stretch this year and hijacked 40 vessels. They still hold 14 ships along with more than 250 crew members, according to maritime officials. So how do the pirates pull it off? Tonight Erica Hill explains how they get on board these massive ships in the first place.
See you at 10 p.m. ET…
Editor’s Note: He was a division 1 college football player with a pre-med degree… and now the highest distinction for any student: the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Myron Rolle has a difficult decision, head to the NFL or head to Oxford? Watch Don Lemon’s full report tonight on AC360°, 11p ET
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As interesting as you might find Myron Rolle's personal story and accomplishments, the bottom line is will he accept the Rhodes Scholarship, or go for almost certain millionaire status in the NFL? It’s a tough choice. What would you do?
I didn’t ask him right away. I wanted to save it. I enjoyed the suspense. And frankly, I really liked playing out the scenarios in my head. If Rolle takes the money now from the NFL, he could quickly realize his dream of helping needy children. And who knows if the NFL will even be interested when he returns from Oxford University in England? A lot could change in two years. A Rhodes scholarship, however, doesn’t guarantee riches. But it is an accomplishment that only a select few can claim. Former President Bill Clinton, New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, General Wesley Clark, to name a few; have certainly made their marks on society. It’s a real moral dilemma.
I met Rolle for the first time at dinner in the player’s cafeteria in the stadium. Rolle wore a designer suit by Sean John and a Burberry necktie; which made me self-conscious about wearing blue jeans and an open collar. The rest of his teammates wore sweats and as they walked passed us mumbled, “hey Mr. President” or “hey Mr. Rhodes.” All in good fun though, it’s obvious how proud they are of him.
Editor's note: Dr. Gail Saltz is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Gail Saltz
Over the weekend a group of waiting shoppers trampled and killed a temporary Wal-Mart worker who was standing at the door to let shoppers in. How in the world could this happen? How could anyone do such a thing?
This was sadly a case of the effects of group dynamics, or in other words mob mentality. When you put people into a group you tend to increase their level of arousal and excitement. Another phenomena of a group is that of shared responsibility, that each individual feels less directly responsible and “delegates” his own superego (conscience) to the group. The particular group in question here were people feeling the effects of this recession and fearful that they will not be able to get enough stuff for the holidays, thinking they NEED the sales to make their family and themselves happy. This added to the feeling of rationing, that there is a limited commodity of stuff, money, sales items and if they don’t get it now then they never will. This is of course untrue and in no way justifies anyone’s actions, none the less it is this desperate perception that likely fueled extreme behavior.
Mobs can incite all kinds of awful behavior. “Fans” have set fires and destroyed property at sporting events. Concert goers have groped women and jumped on top of and hurt people. Gangs have robbed and destroyed stores in city blackouts. Taken as individuals many of these people would never ever have done something so amoral. But put together they incite each other, embolden the crowd and lose their moral compass.
This weekend’s horror was likely done by a group of anxious, excited shoppers who individually would never have done this and are likely feeling tremendous guilt and remorse that they were in anyway involved. Some will feel so uncomfortable that they may be in utter denial they were involved at all. It speaks to the power that one psyche can have upon another and to the immense power and loss of boundaries in a group. It is also evidence of the tremendous anxiety people are feeling in the face of the economic pressures and the unknowns that financially lay ahead. We need to be aware of the ability of such fears to move us, to make us behave in ways that we will regret. Desperation can mess with your conscience and so we all need to be on the alert to remember there is no material thing worth hurting someone for. Although a group can have a negative impact, it can also have a positive one. What we need is for people to gather together in support of each other, to lend a hand to your neighbor, be a listener to your friend, be compassionate to your loved ones. And remember grouping together for support requires no stuff.
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Editor's note: Hear the full story of a football player kids can truly look up to - tonight on AC360 at 11pm ET.
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer
Professional and college athletes normally make the headlines or a feature on CNN for something negative: Michael Vick's dog fighting charges, Adam 'Pacman' Jones' numerous run- ins with the law, various college football players getting suspended for cheating, not making their grades, etc. So it is refreshing to see an amazing college athlete be featured for doing something positive.
Meet Myron Rolle, a Florida State University student athlete who is as good on the football field as he is in the classroom, and I mean that in the most positive way. Rolle graduated in 2-1/2 years, is now working on his masters degree with an eye on med school to be a neurosurgeon. He has dreams of opening a clinic in the Bahamas, where his parents are from. He also dreams of playing in the NFL.
Oh, and another dream of his? To study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Myron Rolle may just do all of the above, after being one of just 32 students to win the Rhodes Scholarship less than two weeks ago. The Rhodes Scholarship is generally a two-year expense-paid graduate study program at Oxford University in England, and it is one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world.
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President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush participate in the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health at the Newseum yesterday in Washington, DC.
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AC360 Associate Producer
President Bush is in the autumn of his years. At least politically speaking. And, if his interview with Charlie Gibson last night was any indication, the president seems to be speaking more freely. No, I’m not talking about the part of the interview when he stood up and did his Beyonce “Single Ladies” routine. That was just bizarre.
The president seems reflective, nostalgic, even emotional – qualities that he no doubt inherited from his father, the famously mushy 41st president. That’s of course compared to his mother, the stoic Barbara Bush, who after undergoing emergency surgery last week for a perforated ulcer spent her recuperation doing one-armed push-ups and bench-pressing orderlies.
CNN Homeland Security Correspondent
**See CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen's take on the WMD report tonight at 10pm on AC360
Imagination isn’t a good thing if you cover homeland security. You mull over all kinds of threats, and spin out all kinds of scenarios. But none has haunted me the way biological terror has.
The new report from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction underscores the danger. It tells us that terrorists are likely to hit in the next five years using a weapon of mass destruction…most likely a biological weapon.
For a sense of what that would mean take a look at The Great Influenza, a powerful book about the epidemic of 1918 which killed 20 to 40 million people worldwide. In excruciating detail author John Barry writes about the disease and what it wrought. Then imagine something like that in our world.
Who knew that going Made in the USA would leave me hungry, broke, and half-naked?
I had been cursing up and down the aisles at the grocery store for half an hour when I finally found a can of black beans claiming to be "100% usa family farm organically grown." I was on a weeklong mission to buy only American-made goods, and my very first shopping trip had turned into a debacle. I'd been forced to put back the bananas, cherries, coconut, and chipotle peppers, and I was about to blow $15 on a tiny bottle of US-made olive oil.
I was hoisting the beans triumphantly above my head when my roommate approached. "What about the packaging?" she asked. I scowled at her. More of the world's aluminum comes from China than from anywhere else; the only way to know the origins of this particular can was to call the company—and it was Saturday. "Buying American is such a pain in the ass!" I wailed.
In 1990, when I was in grade school, I watched a union-sponsored commercial in which a mother told her little boy that they would have to move because Dad had lost his job—too many people were buying imports. As union jobs dried up, so did that campaign; now, 14 years into nafta, buying local is hot, but buying American is, at best, a joke (though in August Barack Obama dusted off the sentiment with his "Buy American, Vote Obama" slogan). When I told Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, that I was going to buy only American for a week, he laughed. "I'm very sorry to hear that.
"It's exceptionally hard, if not impossible, to be 100 percent pure," he explained. "There are just some things you can't buy. It's incredibly difficult and depressing."
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Hillary Clinton now has a big job. If she still aspires to the top job, she can’t afford to treat this period as an eight-year transition to her Presidency. . . .
She will also have to foreswear a shadow political operation, including poll briefings from her strategist Mark Penn, the salient points of which would no doubt find their way into the press. (Come to think of it, she would have been better off without those poll briefings during her campaign, as well.) And President Bill Clinton will have to discipline himself to play a supporting role—for Obama as well as for his wife. Any hint of a policy split with the former president would be instantly attributed to Hillary.