December 11th, 2008
04:16 PM ET

Bonnie Raitt: The time is now for a green revolution

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.
Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/11/art.bonnieraitt.jpg caption="Bonnie Raitt with Graham Nash on the left, and Jackson Browne on the right. The three artists started http://www.nukefree.org together."]

Bonnie Raitt

At the very top of our lawmakers' agenda for change, should be moving the U.S. toward a clean energy economy that transcends fossil fuels and nuclear power. Generating electricity from renewable energy sources is possible today, and with support from lawmakers backing a thoughtful energy policy, these alternatives are poised to become mainstream. Conservation and increased efficiency must be a part of this policy. In the next four years, it is imperative that we develop more wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave and other emerging forms of green power and reduce our dependence on the dirtiest of polluters - coal, oil, gas and nuclear.

As a safe energy activist for over thirty years, I've stood side-by-side with grassroots organizations and communities fighting the nuclear industry - from protesting uranium mining on Navajo lands, to blockading the construction of nuclear reactors and raising my voice to "Stop Yucca Mountain" (the proposed nuclear waste facility in Nevada that will cost taxpayers $90 billion to build). The nuclear industry is gearing up again, despite the fact that it can't secure private financing or insurance for construction of new reactors. If a change in our energy policy is going to come in the next four years, our lawmakers need to prioritize the mainstreaming of truly clean and renewable energy technologies. These technologies are as great for our economy as they are for the environment, and offer us hope for turning around our current global crisis. I ask that our lawmakers take these next four years to get us on the right track to energy independence, before we're too far gone.


Filed under: Planet in Peril
December 11th, 2008
03:53 PM ET

By Chicago standards, Blagojevich isn't crazy

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/illinois.corruption/art.rod.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of scheming to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder."]

John Kass
Chicago Tribune

When it comes to Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Dead Meat), many national TV talking heads can't resist playing amateur psychiatrist.

"He's crazy," said one talking head of our governor. "A sociopath!" said another. "He should have been put in a straitjacket, not handcuffs," said a third, all of them diagnosing Blagojevich as cuckoo.

I can see how they arrived at their cockamamie theory. Anyone who read the federal complaint with all the f-bombs in there and watched Blagojevich drive to work on Wednesday morning, the TV crews following his black SUV in a low-speed chase, as if he were some angry Serbian O.J., might think he had lost his marbles.

But is Blagojevich truly cuckoo?


Filed under: Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich • T1
December 11th, 2008
03:46 PM ET

No exit from bailout politics

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/07/obama.economy/art.obama.pork.gi.mtp.jpg]

David Frum
The Week

It’s amazing how candid we get after the election is over!

Since 2004, Democrats have been telling us that Iraq was the bad war they did not want to fight—but Afghanistan was the good war they did.

It seemed hard to believe at the time. Everything that made Iraq tough—weak civil society, hostile terrain, fanaticism—makes Afghanistan tougher. Psychologically too, the Democrats’ self-presentation as eager Taliban fighters seemed suspect. Only 57 percent of Democrats say they would favor the use of force even to destroy a proven terrorist camp. The Party of Battles they are not.

Now Shrum ruefully acknowledges that this self-presentation was at best “reflexive” and perhaps even “misleading!”

What message is appropriate now for those Americans who trusted Shrum’s party to take national security seriously? Maybe Otter’s words from the movie Animal House: “You f--ed up. You trusted us.”

Yet as ominous as the situation in Afghanistan looks, there is another candidate for the role of “Obama’s Iraq”: the bailout.


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Barack Obama • Economy • Raw Politics • T1
December 11th, 2008
03:42 PM ET

Déjà vu all over again

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/CRIME/12/11/child.remains.found/art.crime.tape.wftv.jpg caption="Investigators stand near the area where the skeletal remains were found Thursday."] Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

It’s déjà vu all over again. When a child goes missing, or even a grown woman, we immediately jump to conclusions about who killed her and why. But our conclusions aren’t always right.

Remember the runaway bride. When she disappeared on the eve of her wedding, her poor groom was all but convicted of her murder. Of course, she turned up a few days later. Just a case of cold feet.

Same with JonBenet Ramsey. For years we hounded her family. Blamed her mother, blamed her father, even blamed her 12-year-old brother. Then, 10 years later, we latched onto another suspect, a man named John Mark Karr who took the media on a wild ride of suspicion before prosecutors cleared him of the crime.

When congressional intern Chandra Levy went missing in 2001, we all but convicted Congressman Gary Condit. He admitted to the affair but maintained his innocence, even after her body was found. Condit slapped some of us with big fat lawsuits and the most culpable were made to pay. But Condit’s career was ruined.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Jami Floyd
December 11th, 2008
03:38 PM ET

Kirkuk restaurant bombing

A suicide bomber attacked a crowded restaurant during holiday celebrations in Kirkuk, Iraq. CNN's Michael Ware reports.

Filed under: al Qaeda • Iraq • Michael Ware • T1
December 11th, 2008
03:26 PM ET

The back story of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Pay-Rod Blagojevich

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/senate.candidates/art.jackson.gi.jpg caption="Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr."]
Roland S. Martin | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Political Analyst

It's interesting to watch national journalists and pundits pontificate about the inner workings of Illinois politics when most really don't know what the hell they are talking about.

We are seeing that as it relates to Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been identified as Senate candidate #5, the same person Blagojevich was caught on tape saying would raise upwards of $1 million for his re-election bid in 2010 if the governor tapped him for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

I appeared on Campbell Brown's show, No Bias, No Bull, and one former prosecutor was adamant that there was something to Jackson's meeting with Blagojevich on Monday and the arrest coming down the next day.

Never mind the fact that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said at his news conference on Tuesday that it was an impending bill sitting on the governor's desk that caused him to move swiftly.


Filed under: Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich • Roland S. Martin • T1
December 11th, 2008
03:17 PM ET

Obama needs to turn the page on "Pay-Rod" fast

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/illinois.corruption/art.rod.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of scheming to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder."]

Ed Henry
CNN White House Correspondent

"Pay-Rod" is the moniker that Mike Allen at Politico.com has jokingly given to the sickening saga of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And the good news for President-elect Barack Obama is there's no evidence he or any of his aides were engaged in criminal wrongdoing tied to the scandal - zero, zilch.

But the bad news for Obama is this story hits a little too close to home for the incoming Commander-in-Chief. It has yet again highlighted the seamy side of Chicago's "pay-to-play" politics, and Democratic strategists privately admit Obama needs to move to divorce himself from all that - and fast.

Obama took a good step in that direction at a press conference Thursday morning, but is not out of the woods just yet. The President-elect reiterated his call for Blagojevich to resign, and Obama tried to make a clear distinction from the way he personally does business by saying the Governor's wheeling and dealing does a disservice to "many of us on both sides of the aisle who have upheld the highest standards" in Illinois.


Filed under: Ed Henry • Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich • T1
December 11th, 2008
02:20 PM ET

The Aimless War: Why Are We in Afghanistan?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/07/afghanistan.review/art.troops.afghanistan.gi.jpg caption="U.S. Forces in Afghanistan."]

Joe Klein

"Things have gotten a bit hairy," admitted British Lieut. Colonel Graeme Armour as we sat in a dusty, bunkered NATO fortress just outside the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, a deadly piece of turf along Afghanistan's southern border with Pakistan.

A day earlier, two Danish soldiers had been killed and two Brits seriously wounded by roadside bombs. The casualties were coming almost daily now.

And then there were the daily frustrations of Armour's job: training Afghan police officers. Almost all the recruits were illiterate. "They've had no experience at learning," Armour said. "You sit them in a room and try to teach them about police procedures — they start gabbing and knocking about. You talk to them about the rights of women, and they just laugh."

A week earlier, five Afghan police officers trained by Armour were murdered in their beds while defending a nearby checkpoint — possibly by other police officers. Their weapons and ammunition were stolen. "We're not sure of the motivation," Armour said. "They may have gone to join the Taliban or sold the guns in the market."

The war in Afghanistan — the war that President-elect Barack Obama pledged to fight and win — has become an aimless absurdity. It began with a specific target.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • T1
December 11th, 2008
02:12 PM ET

Governor Gone Wild: The Blagojevich's Scandal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/illinois.governor/art.gov.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, was arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges."]

Michael Scherer

Lawyers didn't invent the insanity defense for guys like Rod Blagojevich, but it may soon come in handy. As recently as last month, the leather-jacket-wearing Illinois governor imagined himself as a potential candidate for President in 2016. Meantime, he said, he wouldn't mind getting a Cabinet post, an ambassadorship or even a high-paying corporate gig.

Driving these fantasies was his statutory power to name a replacement for former Senator Barack Obama — a power that to Blagojevich seemed like money in the bank. "I've got this thing, and it's f______ golden," he told an aide a day after the November elections on a home phone that was tapped by the FBI. "I'm just not giving it up for f______ nothing."

Blagojevich, 52, was either delusional, stupid or some combination of both. The feds had been on his case for years, and he knew it. Early on the morning of Dec. 9, federal Marshals woke him up with a predawn phone call, then arrived at his front door and handcuffed him shortly thereafter. By the afternoon, he stood in a Chicago courtroom looking like a common criminal, his feathered hair out of place, his executive wardrobe replaced with a black-and-blue Nike tracksuit. He faces the prospect of 30 years in prison on charges of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud and soliciting bribes.


Filed under: Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich • T1
December 11th, 2008
02:03 PM ET

Money tips: 10 financial moves to make now

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/11/art.money.bill.jpg]

Dan Kadlec

If you're going about year-end tax and financial planning the same old way, you may be making some costly mistakes. The world has changed. Did you notice?

Some tax laws are expiring while others are being ginned up; assets like housing and stocks that typically produce gains have delivered staggering losses. Smart planning in this environment means turning some traditional strategies on their head. But you only have a few weeks. So let's get started. Here are 10 money moves to make by Dec. 31.

1. Postpone your losses

That's right. This is the time of year when tax advisers typically advise "harvesting" your losses, which simply means selling enough stocks that have declined to offset the taxes owed on stocks you've sold at a gain this year and up to $3,000 of ordinary income. That strategy may still make sense — to the extent you have any taxable gains, say, from stock sales early this year. But with stocks having been cut in half this year it's a good bet that you are not staring at a capital gains tax liability just now. So put off selling until next year when, hopefully, the market will begin to recover and you'll stand a decent chance at getting a better price.


Filed under: Economy • T1
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