December 5th, 2008
11:06 AM ET

With OJ, expect the unexpected

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/CRIME/12/05/oj.simpson.sentencing/art.closings.jpg]

Paul Vercammen
CNN Senior Producer

Today at 9a PT (noon ET) Sentencing in the O.J. Simpson trial begins

On October 3, a jury convicted Simpson, 61, and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart of 12 charges, including conspiracy to commit a crime, robbery, assault and kidnapping with a deadly weapon.

Their convictions stem from a September 13, 2007, fracas at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Prosecutors alleged that Simpson led a group of men who used threats, guns and force to take sports memorabilia from dealers Bruce Fromong and Al Beardsley.

Length estimated: one to two hours

Courtroom insiders expect closer to one hour as Judge Glass stays true to her no-nonsense form.

Besides defense and prosecution lawyers, another expected speaker is former prosecution witness and alleged victim Bruce Fromong.

In this bizarre tale of Men Behaving Badly, memorabilia dealer Fromong will testify FOR Simpson, saying the crime does not warrant a long sentence.

The prosecution will call no one.

Simpson for now is not expected to speak, unless asked to by the judge.

Judge Jackie Glass is expected to be tough on Simpson. There was palpable tension between Glass and the defense team all trial long. Glass has called Simpson arrogant and cut him zero slack in his legal proceedings.

Glass has tremendous leeway under Nevada State law to impose a variety of senteces ranging from eligible for parole in six years (according to several sources) to life in prison.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Paul Vercammen
December 5th, 2008
10:55 AM ET

I don’t care if you are the president-elect, no one calls me during Days of Our Lives

Jack Gray
AC360 Associate Producer

It looks like there could be trouble in paradise.  Congressional Democrats are irritated that President-elect Obama hasn’t gotten more involved in fixing the economic crisis.  I mean, come on, the guy hasn’t even been inaugurated yet.  Leave him alone.  Can’t you see he’s busy selling cubic zirconia Obama Victory pendants on his website and trying to get back that snow blower he loaned to Bill Ayers?  Listen to me, Mr. President-elect, just tell them what I tell Anderson when he calls me early in the morning:  “I’m not on the clock yet, burn your own James Taylor/Young Jeezy mix CD.”

So is it just me or have there been an inordinate number of phone mix-ups among politicians this week? First, Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen hung up on President-elect Obama not once but twice, believing that she was actually speaking to a prankster radio DJ.  Then Senator John McCain hung up on Governor Sarah Palin.  Palin, of course, immediately called back saying, “John, it’s really me, Sarah, you must have thought it was one of those radio pranksters.”  Replied McCain, “No, I knew it was you.”


Filed under: 360° Radar • Barack Obama • Jack Gray • Raw Politics
December 5th, 2008
08:45 AM ET

Foreclosure for Christmas?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/26/art.foreclosuresign.jpg]Mary Kane
The Washington Independent

This is supposed to be the season for a break in home foreclosures, a pause in evictions over the holidays.

But it’s not working out that way for everyone. And certainly not for Julio Angulo of suburban Virginia, another victim of a foreclosure machine that seems to be almost unstoppable.

To great fanfare, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced last month they would temporarily halt foreclosures and evictions from Thanksgiving to Jan. 9. One analyst called the move “a giant timeout” to help people stay in their homes while they try to get their loans modified. The decision also avoids the spectacle of two government-controlled finance companies throwing families out on the street at Christmas time.

Days before, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled a major rescue plan to streamline modifications of loans to make them more affordable for potentially hundreds of thousands of borrowers. Banks including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America also suspended foreclosures while trying to restructure troubled homeowner loans.

And Monday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said for the first time that he would consider using money from the $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to help avoid foreclosures.

But nothing seems to shut down the foreclosure machine — at least so far.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Housing Market • Mary Kane
December 5th, 2008
08:15 AM ET

Zimbabwe: Cholera now national emergency

Women and children collect clean water from a UNICEF truck in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday. The nationwide outbreak of cholera, a waterborne disease is blamed on collapsing water treatment plants and broken sewage pipes.

Paidamoyo Chipunza

The Government yesterday declared the cholera outbreak that has claimed 563 lives so far and the malfunctioning of central hospitals as national emergencies and appealed to the donor community for assistance to alleviate the situation.

Addressing stakeholders at a meeting to mobilise resources for the health sector held in Harare, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said there was a critical shortage of resources in the health sector.

He said referral hospitals were in urgent need of drugs, food and equipment.

Dr Parirenyatwa also cited the critical shortage of staff in hospitals adding that those remaining had no zeal to work.

"Our central hospitals are literally not functioning. Our staff is demotivated and we need your support to ensure that they start coming to work and our health system is revived," Dr Parirenyatwa said.

Among the items urgently required by hospitals are medicines, laboratory reagents, surgical sundries, renal and laundry equipment, X-ray films and boilers.

He said 450 renal patients required dialysis.

Dr Parirenyatwa appealed for food to feed patients and for child supplementary feeding programmes.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Africa • Global 360° • Health Care • Paidamoyo Chipunza
December 5th, 2008
08:05 AM ET

The economy sent me to the basement

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National editor

Confirmation of what already was apparent – that the economy is in recession – sent me to the basement.

I found the box filled with hundreds of articles I wrote between 1978 and 1983 for the Quad-City Times, the largest newspaper for a community that straddles the Mississippi River and includes the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois.

On a map, the “Quads” are dots in the heartland; from an airplane, urban breaks in the fertile land that feeds not only a nation, but much of the world.

A fistful of those articles reported on the battering the Quad-Cities economy took in those years, in particular the farm and construction machinery industry and the men and women who worked for such companies as home-grown John Deere and International Harvester, J.I. Case and Caterpillar Tractor.

Their wages and benefits were the product of often heated negotiations between these companies and the United Auto workers and other unions. In good times, they bought new pickup trucks, vans and campers and boats to fish the Mississippi and Rock rivers.

Then came the last major recession suffered by this country. The farm economy crashed. Demand for tractors, combines and other equipment fell.


Filed under: 360° Radar • David Schechter • Economy
December 5th, 2008
07:55 AM ET

Who is Bill Richardson?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/02/art.ap.bill.richardson.jpg]Citizen Jane Politics

You may remember Bill Richardson as one of the many candidates in the Democratic presidential primary field in 2008. But what else do we know about Barack Obama’s pick for Secretary of Commerce? So glad you asked.

Richardson has gobs of experience in public life, including as an official and unofficial diplomat, but curiously little experience in private industry for someone whose job it will be to create jobs in the private sector. With that said, here’s the scoop on Richardson:

  • He’s the highest profile Hispanic politician in the U.S.. His mother was Mexican and he grew up in Mexico City until high school, when he moved to Massachusetts. Richardson eventually married his high school sweetheart, Barbara.
  • He went to Tufts for undergrad and graduate school in international affairs, and was a minor-league baseball player.
  • After working on Capitol Hill and running unsuccessfully for Congress in 1980, Richardson won a House seat and represented New Mexico in Congress from 1982 to 1994.
  • He joined the Clinton Administration, first as U.N. Ambassador and then as Secretary of Energy. As Secretary, he was criticized for his response to the Wen Ho Lee espionage scandal.  At a hearing about the scandal, Sen. Robert Byrd said to Richardson, “I have to say, I am not calling for your resignation at this moment, but you have shown a supreme, a supreme contempt of the committees of this Congress…you have squandered your treasure, and I am sorry.” Ouch.


Filed under: Bill Richardson • Raw Politics
December 5th, 2008
07:31 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Swimming with Giants

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/08/12/phelps.profile/art.phelps4.getty.jpg caption="Michael Phelps competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics."]

Eva Nordstrom
AC360 Senior Producer

Michael Phelps is the only human in the world who knows what it feels like to win eight gold medals in a single Olympic games, and Anderson Cooper is probably one of the only mere mortals who now knows what it’s like to race him in the pool.

Phelps gave Anderson his most extensive interview since his record smashing performance in Beijing. He talked to Anderson about how he did it and he even shared some of his training secrets. Anderson also followed him on somewhat of tour around the country…watching him build the Michael Phelps- mega brand. It is not every day that you can watch someone turn down a FIVE MILLION DOLLAR offer. And yes, Phelps even agreed to race Anderson with some serious handicaps, of course. Find out tonight who won and what makes this amazing athlete tick.

The big November jobs report is out and it is very grim. It was the worst single month since 1974! So far, 2008 is on track to be the worst year for job losses since 1982 when economy lost 2.1 million jobs. Are the American people finally going to get their own bailout? I wonder if this will influence lawmakers who are trying to decide if U.S. automakers should be helped out after all?

Speaking of which…the Big Three are back today begging for bailout loans (say that three times) But there are signs that they may not have the support they need on the Hill. Should they get the money?

Meanwhile, where does Obama stand on all things economy? Some Democrats are speaking out…saying he needs to be a little more assertive. Sen. Christopher Dodd the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee said, "The Obama team has to step up. In the minds of the people, this is the Obama administration. I don't think we can wait until January 20." What do you think?

And finally, we find out today how much time O.J. Simpson will be spending behind bars. It was recommended he receive eighteen years. He could get life. The Goldmans will be in the courtroom to watch firsthand.

Hope you enjoy tonight’s program!

Filed under: Eva Nordstrom • The Buzz
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