January 12th, 2009
02:55 PM ET

How poetry can help us

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/books/01/12/alexander.poet.inaugural/art.poet.alexander.gunther.jpg caption="Elizabeth Alexander says poetry can help solve problems by looking at them from a fresh angle."]

When Barack Obama is sworn in as president January 20, there will be music - by, among others, Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and the U.S. Marine Band. There will be prayers and speeches - including Obama's inaugural address. And for the fourth time in the nation's 56 inauguration ceremonies, there will be poetry - by someone far less well-known.

After the president's speech, Elizabeth Alexander will read a poem she is writing for the occasion. Alexander is a 46-year-old Yale University professor and a friend and former faculty colleague of Obama's.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Barack Obama
January 12th, 2009
02:46 PM ET

Reach out to Cuba

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/americas/12/31/cuba.anniversary/art.cuba.afp.gi.jpg caption="A Cuban youth passes a Havana storefront poster touting the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution."]

William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh
The L.A. Times

Not since Richard Nixon went to China has an intractable foreign policy issue been so ripe for resolution as U.S. relations with Cuba are today.

As with China, bilateral hostility has persisted long after the causes of the initial break have ceased to hold sway, held in place by seemingly implacable domestic opposition to normalizing relations and the policy inertia of official Washington. When Nixon broke the stalemate by announcing his impending trip in 1972, the pro-Taiwan "China lobby" proved to be a paper tiger, and the foreign policy establishment heaved a great sigh of relief that such a manifestly irrational, ineffective and anachronistic policy had finally been put to rest.

U.S. policy toward Cuba today, like policy toward China in 1972, is overdue for change. Relations broke down 50 years ago because Washington was unwilling to countenance a Latin American client state escaping the orbit of U.S. hegemony, and because Fidel Castro was determined to do just that. The Soviet Union's willingness to provide Cuba an essential safety net brought Cold War confrontation to the Western Hemisphere, escalating the U.S.-Cuba skirmish to potential Armageddon.


Filed under: Global 360° • Raw Politics
January 12th, 2009
01:08 PM ET

Longing for home

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/12/osama.blog2.img1.jpg caption="A picture taken Sunday by a Save the Children photographer of a Palestinian family taking refuge in a local school."]

Editor’s Note: Osama Damo is deputy Gaza program manager with Save the Children. He and his wife have been displaced twice since the conflict began; their apartment has suffered damage in the fighting. Currently they are living in a three-bedroom apartment in Gaza City with 15 other members of their extended family, including four children ages 7, 3, 18 months and 10 months.

Osama Damo
Save the Children

We are so afraid.

Saturday was the worst night. Ground troops and fighting came within yards of where we are staying. All of us spent a harrowing night in the corridor, the only protection we could find.

The children screamed for four hours straight.

We are trying to decide whether or not we should spend another night here — but where else would we go? There is a lot of confusion. Wherever we go will be a nightmare. My wife’s parents have so many people already jammed into their house. They have no generator or water. We do not know what to do.


Filed under: Crisis in Gaza • Israel • Palestine
January 12th, 2009
12:23 PM ET

Sarah Palin is right this time

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/CRIME/12/13/palin.church/art.palin.gi.jpg]

Jon Friedman

Sarah Palin, who frequently criticized the press corps during the presidential campaign last fall, has another gripe about the media.

This time, there is a twist. She has a leg to stand on.

The Alaska governor, who has become a punching bag for the media, has a fair point about the way we have apparently set up a double standard for covering her children and those of President-elect Barack Obama. The media's standard for Palin is designed to make her look like a backwoods rube and embarrass her at every turn.


Filed under: Sarah Palin
January 12th, 2009
12:15 PM ET

Is homeland security pick ready?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/12/art.napolitano.jpg caption="Homeland Security Secretary Designate and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano at a meeting on Capitol Hill last week."]

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

There's a name for public officials who are willing to fight the powerful in defense of the weak, even if it jeopardizes their careers: leaders.

Over the years, that's not a word that I've often heard used to describe Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, President-elect Barack Obama's choice for secretary of Homeland Security.

Napolitano is an able politician, but her leadership skills have long been in doubt. That is especially true when it comes to the radioactive issue of immigration, which is sure to come up during her confirmation hearing Thursday.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Barack Obama • Raw Politics
January 12th, 2009
11:53 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: From penthouse to prison?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/01/09/madoff.alexandra.penney/art.madoff.gi.jpg caption="Madoff is accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme through his investment company."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Bernard Madoff - the alleged mastermind of a $50 billion “Ponzi” scheme that robbed charities, institutions and individuals around the globe - will remain under house arrest in his $7 million luxury penthouse apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. In a court filing last week, prosecutors asked that Madoff’s $10 million bail be revoked, accusing him of having signed numerous checks worth a total of $173 million that were "ready to be sent out" prior to his arrest on Dec. 11 on a charge of securities fraud - and of sending more than $1 million worth of jewelry to family and friends over the holidays. But a federal judge today ruled not to revoke Madoff’s bail. The judge also ruled he does not present a flight risk and does not present a danger to the community.

Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are deep in talks to merge their brokerage operations, a source familiar with the negotiations tells CNN. Under the terms of the deal, Morgan Stanley would make a payment to Citigroup for an undisclosed sum for a 51-percent stake in Citigroup's Smith Barney asset management division. The deal, which could be reached in the next few days, would create a massive network of brokers totaling about 20,000.


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Wall St.
January 12th, 2009
10:42 AM ET

Getting aid into Gaza: no dates allowed!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/12/nelson_gaza_aid2.jpg caption="A Mercy Corp truck on its way to a checkpoint to cross the border to deliver food and other humanitarian supplies to Gaza residents."]

Cassandra Nelson
Mercy Corps


I arrived in Israel last week to work with Mercy Corps, an international aid organization, to assist the Gazans who are suffering from the conflict and more than 18 months of harsh blockades that have left their cupboards bare and their banks empty of cash.

The entire Gaza strip is on the verge of collapse: most people have no electricity, no running water and inadequate food supplies. Fuel is running low. And only a fraction of aid needed to sustain Gaza's 1.5 million residents is getting in.

Getting basic food and medical aid into Gaza Strip from Israel has proved to be extremely difficult. This is frustrating for people who work with aid agencies trying to help civilians stranded in a war zone.


Filed under: Crisis in Gaza • Israel • Palestine
January 12th, 2009
10:24 AM ET

The Shot: Dancing Wolf

Wolf Blitzer busts some moves on 'Ellen.'

Filed under: T1 • The Shot
January 12th, 2009
09:58 AM ET

Dante said it best

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/12/art.gfx.wallst.jpg]

Ken Robinson
AC360° Contributor

It's very unfortunate, but it looks like the resources in Washington, DC are going to be focused on politics, over and above solving the financial crisis, terrorism, or something minor, like our national security. During these dangerous times, this generation is really faced with a choice. At a minimum, we should all demand that our elected officials get to work on the nation's business. It's only our future that's at stake.

Dante said it best. "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

For more, check out this article.

Filed under: Economy • Ken Robinson • Raw Politics
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