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AC360° Senior Producer
President Obama has kicked off his term with a flurry of action including meeting with his top economic and military advisers, plus issuing the first of his executive orders. Earlier today in a press conference he announced a “new era of openness in our country” and tightened ethics guidelines for administration staff members.
Tomorrow, there is more to come – a lot more. CNN has confirmed that President Obama plans to issue three executive orders: the closure of the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay within a year; a ban on torture (by requiring the Army field manual is used as the guide for terror interrogations); and a review of detention policies and procedures. Candy Crowley and Ed Henry will follow these first presidential moves and bring you the latest on the second full day of the Obama administration.
Plus all this:
Randi Kaye will be Keeping Them Honest by looking at a contentious issue President Obama has promised to tackle: The “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy that some say has prevented homosexual and bisexual men and women from serving openly in the U.S. military. Critics suggest this campaign promise is one that may not get fulfilled. Can the 44th president overturn federal law? What is the potential impact on the military - and is this really a good idea? Randi will have answers.
Ali Velshi follows the state of the economy. Jobless claims are out tomorrow, and already this week we’re seeing dramatic layoffs worldwide. Just today, several corporations announced they are slashing thousands of jobs. And it’s only mid-week! Ali will put it all in perspective.
Finally, Tom Foreman may look more deeply into the ancestry of the First Family. You may be surprised to learn just how diverse their family tree is – on both sides.
See you tomorrow night at 10 pm ET!
Secretary of State Hillary Cllinton is sworn in after her Senate confirmation on Wednesday afternoon.
There’s breaking news tonight. A short time ago we learned that Caroline Kennedy has withdrawn from consideration for the Senate seat left vacant by Hillary Clinton (who was sworn in today as Secretary of State). Kennedy is said to have cited concerns about her uncle’s declining health. Sen. Ted Kennedy had a seizure yesterday during the post-inaugural luncheon and was rushed to a hospital. He was released today and is back at home. As you might imagine, many people are wondering if there are other reasons for Caroline Kennedy’s change of heart. We’re working the story.
The 44th President of the United States woke up to a towering stack of challenges today – his first full day in office.
He immediately got to work, arriving in the Oval Office just after 8:30 a.m. We’re told he spent 10 minutes alone in the historic room. Imagine what that moment must have been like. We know that President Bush left him a letter to read. What we’d give to know what it said!
Aside from that bit of solitary time, the day was a flurry of activity. President Obama plunged into foreign policy with calls to Mideast leaders; he presided over the swearing-in of cabinet nominations approved yesterday; he met with his advisers about the recession and ordered new ethics rules. Oh yes, he and first lady Michelle Obama also hosted an open house for a few hundred people lucky enough to win a lottery.
Tonight we’ll have all the details of President Obama’s day – including his do-over of the presidential oath. That’s right, he took the oath of office again today, after all the flak Chief Justice John Roberts’ got for yesterday’s flub.
We’ll also ask some tough questions about President Obama’s plans for Iraq. We’ll have a Keeping Them Honest report on how realistic it is for U.S. troops to leave Iraq on the time-table Mister Obama envisions.
Today also brought a new wave of grim economic news, including thousands of new job cuts - a reminder of perhaps the biggest challenge on the president’s plate. Ali Velshi will weigh in on that piece of the presidential story.
See you at 10 pm ET!
CNN Senior National Editor
If I were given the chance to deliver a college commencement address, I would tell the graduates that they will never be as smart as they are at that moment, for from that day forward they will find that what they don't know will exceed what they do.
In the same vein, expectations for the Obama presidency will never be greater than they were at noon Tuesday, for from that time forward it is all about the reality of governing.
Historians and journalists like round numbers so "the first 100 days" becomes a convenient marker to consider the early successes and failures of a new administration. [Use the comment section below to tell CNN what you will consider to be success or failure for President Obama in his first 100 days in office and what issues you want CNN to focus on.]
Terry Sullivan, executive director of the White House Transition Project, has studied the work schedules of presidents in their first 100 days. "It's a standard. It's an easy thing to identify and sit down at the end of the 100 days and say what has this guy accomplished and what have they not accomplished. So it's an easy standard to hold every president against, to compare every president to," Sullivan, an associate professor in political science at the University of North Carolina, told the National Journal.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/21/turnley.blog1.jpg caption="A group of African-Americans ride a bus from Brooklyn, New York to Washington DC on Sunday, Jan.18,to attend the inauguration."]
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/21/turnley.blog2.jpg caption="A New Yorker on his way to the inauguration."]
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/21/turnley.blog3.jpg caption="On the eve of the inauguration of President Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States, and on Martin Luther Kings' Birthday, thousands of citizens arrive in Washington DC and visit national monuments and historic sites."]
On Sunday morning, I boarded a bus in Brooklyn with a group of approximately 40 citizens from New York, all African-American, each of whom, would not have missed for almost anything, the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I have been a photojournalist for the past 25 years, and have had the incredible opportunity to witness many of the worlds’ defining moments of modern history; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989; the end of apartheid in South Africa and Nelson Mandela walking out of prison in 1991; and most of the worlds’ conflicts of the past three decades. When our bus pulled into Maryland, on the eve of the inauguration, I knew after hearing the words of my fellow passengers, in some sense fellow pilgrims, that I was in the midst of a moment of history like maybe no other in terms of its historic magnitude, that I had ever witnessed and certainly not in America.
It is the words of these passengers, and those of many others that I have met in the past two days, that are representative of some degree of what this moment means. I would prefer to let them speak for themselves.
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US President Barack Obama steps on First Lady Michelle Obama's dress during the Obama Home States Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, January 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB.
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Program Note: Tune in for Ali Velshi's full report tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.
Chief Business Correspondent
Worldwide layoffs this week is now 28,150 - and it's only Wednesday. Keep in mind ACTUAL jobs losses are always a HUGE multiple of what is announced, so this is pretty serious.
Here's the count:
– Eaton Corporation 5,200 jobs
– Warner Bros. 800
– Rohm and Haas 900
– United Airlines 1,000
– Clear Channel 1,850
– Ericcson 5,000
– BHP 6,000
– Intel up to 6,000
– Williams Sonoma approx. 1,400
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/21/art.srilanka.street.jpg caption="An elderly Sri Lankan man sits under posters on a street in Colombo on January 4, 2009, featuring an image of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and hailing the military's capture of the Tamil Tiger political headquarters." width=292 height=320]
While there is no room in the world for terrorist organizations, their defeat cannot come at the expense of thousands of innocent civilian lives.
The greatest failing of the Bush administration's "war on terror" is not its inability to meet its prime objectives (e.g. capturing Osama Bin Laden, eradicating the threat of WMDS in Iraq, and removing Al Qaeda from Afghanistan). Rather, it is that America has given credibility to the act and the notion of pursuing terrorists at all costs.
The Bush administration has decided to ignore the very tenets of democracy (the U.S. constitution, Geneva convention, among others) in pursuit of winning the "war on terror." In doing so, it sent a very clear message to the rest of the world: all bets are off where terrorism is involved.
Today, we can clearly see the ripple effect. In Sri Lanka, my home country, the Colombo government has massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians in order to eliminate the threat posed by a small yet defiant group widely known as the Tamil Tigers (also known as the LTTE or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). Make no mistake, the LTTE have engaged in reprehensible terrorist activities that have needlessly taken the lives of both civilians and heads of state. The LTTE's use of child soldiers and suicide bombers is unconscionable, and has rightly been condemned by the international community. But now the eyeglass must turn to the Colombo government as the conflict enters its 25th year. The war has resulted in what many humanitarian groups are now calling genocide. And sadly, for the Tamil people, time is running out.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/14/bailout.congress/art.frank.gi.jpg caption="U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)."]
Note from reporter: Congressman and Senators love to get a lot of press when initiating bold, new legislation, tough talking amendments or major initiatives. One of the reasons they seek media attention on the "front-end" is because they know, as do those of us who cover them, that it is very rare anything ever really gets done on the "back end". Most new legislation winds up going nowhere. In our continuing effort to "Keep Them Honest" here is a look at one of those bold proposals that went nowhere almost immediately upon its introduction.
CNN Special Investigations Unit
When those auto makers flew to congress in corporate jets to ask for a taxpayer bail out, no one was more upset than the powerful chairman of the house financial services committee, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).
So irate over the use of corporate jets, Frank was determined to make sure it never happened again. His plan, no corporate executives coming to Washington asking for bailout money would be allowed to travel in those multi-million dollar symbols of excess.