[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/02/13/plane.crash.new.york/art.firefighters.wgrz.jpg caption="Firefighters from nine volunteer fire departments battled the flames at the crash site. "]
AC360° Associate Producer
I had just sat down at 12:30am to write my Friday blog when I got an email from AC360° Executive Producer Kathleen Friery: “You up? Plane crash. May need you to come back in.” I started to get ready. Confirmation that I was needed back at CNN’s New York headquarters came moments later.
I said goodbye to my dog, ran out of my apartment and hailed a cab. “Columbus Circle,” I said, “as fast as you can.”
“Did you hear about the plane crash?” I asked my cab driver. He hadn’t.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/02/12/A-rod.steroids/art.arod.gi.jpg caption="Alex Rodriguez, shown here with the Texas Rangers in 2001, has admitted using steroids."]
Senior Producer, D.L. Hughley Breaks the News
This is the week for performance-enhancing drugs.
There was A-Rod, of course, who may be facing a suspension from baseball for testing positive for anabolic steroids in 2003. Of course it’s fun to dump on A-Rod, because he’s… not universally well-liked. But the real juice in the story, pardon the pun, is that Rodriguez is one of 104 players who tested positive in a 2003 survey. Supposedly, it was an anonymous survey, but not so much. The Baseball Player’s Association kept the test results; and the Fed got hold of them during discovery on an unrelated case. So, who else is on the list? Should A-Rod be hung out to dry? And is it hard to feel sorry for a guy who lied to Katie Couric?
CNN National Security Producer
Leon Panetta was sworn in Friday morning as the 19th Director of the CIA. The 70-year old Panetta was confirmed by the Senate Thursday night.
In a light-hearted moment during the swearing in ceremony, Panetta noted media reports indicating he's the oldest CIA Director and found a connection to the Westminster dog show. "I would remind you that the 'best dog in show' this year, was a dog that was 10 years old. So I come here as the best dog in show," said the septenarian.
In a message to Agency employees, Panetta said he took the oath with "great pride and honor," and he looks forward to leading what he called a "great organization."
Panetta vowed to "uphold our Agency's commitment to stand by the law and the Constitution, to build trust with the Congress through vigorous oversight..." an apparent reference to the CIA's controversial interrogation and detention program and the Bush Administration's decision not to brief the entire Congressional oversight committees on many of the secret policies it initiated in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
During his confirmation hearing, Panetta said the CIA will not engage in enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding which he considers torture. He also promised to keep the oversight committees briefed on covert actions.
Panetta was an eight term Congressman from central California who chaired the powerful House Budget Committee before moving over to the Clinton White House as the Budget Director and later as the President's Chief of Staff. He left government in 1997 and returned to California where he and his wife created the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a non-profit foundation.
The new spy chief praised his predecessor Mike Hayden "for improving its (CIA) performance and morale through his leadership and patriotism." Hayden, who retired as an Air Force General last summer, ends 40 years in government service, the last three as the CIA Director.
CNN Financial News Producer
The Senate plans to vote on the $787 billion compromise stimulus package late Friday after an all-day debate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday. The vote will be held open for the arrival of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who will be attending a wake for his mother until about 8 p.m., Reid said.
The House, which had planned to vote on the package Thursday, delayed it until Friday after many rank-and-file Democrats who were unhappy with some spending cuts demanded time to read the compromise measure.
The stimulus package is likely to land on President Obama's desk by the Democratic leadership's self-imposed deadline of Monday - President's Day.
Michael Grabell and Christopher Weaver
Congress released its compromise of the economic stimulus plan at 11 p.m. Thursday. Debate began in the House at 9 a.m., with voting set for 1 p.m. Want to know what's in it? You could read the 1,071-page gorilla they've posted. Or you could read our chart below of the spending provisions.
(The tax cuts and other finance provisions aren't in this chart yet, but are summarized. We will be updating regularly as more details emerge.) And if you’d like some background, here’s our earlier chart comparing the differences between the House and Senate bills.
Tom Foreman | Bio
One of the most important lessons in public policy that I’ve ever learned came from I Dream of Jeannie. I know it sounds silly, but it is true.
In case you missed it, this was a show back in the days of steam-powered TV about an astronaut who finds a genie in a lamp. She is beautiful, funny, falls in love with him; and he, inexplicably, doesn’t want her to use her powers. (As a side note, trust me – if my wife could grant magic wishes, I wouldn’t even finish this sentence. It would be nothing but hammocks, guitars, and barbeque for the rest of my days.)
Anyway, in one episode Tony, the astronaut, is magically given Jeannie’s powers for a day. Fold his arms, blink his eyes, and he can change the world. He starts speculating about the wonders he might accomplish for the good of agriculture, science, the arts, and humanity. But Jeannie says “Master, you have to remember, if you irrigate the desert, you might drain an ocean. If you wipe out all mosquitoes, you might starve great flocks of birds. If you ban all steroids, you might destroy the game of baseball.” Something like that.