February 20th, 2009
03:12 PM ET

It is most definitely not an honor just to be nominated

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Movies/02/19/pre.oscar.roundup/art.reader.weinstein.jpg caption="Kate Winslet, who's up for "The Reader," has been nominated six times and never won. "]

Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

This is a bittersweet time of year for me.  I enjoy watching the Academy Awards but I miss my days in the movie industry.  I know what you’re thinking:  he was just in it for the glamour.  But you’re wrong.  I was born with a dream.  A dream to work in a video store/tanning parlor.

But, that was 10 years and 1000 tubs of cocoa butter ago. And while, once again, I wasn’t nominated for anything this year, I do have a speech prepared just in case there’s a write-in campaign to honor my cameo as Benjamin Button’s uncle, Larry Button.

Here goes nothing:

“Thank you so much, thank you. First, I would like to acknowledge the cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire.  I think I speak for moviegoers everywhere when I say, 'The world is tired of you, now sit down.’

I must also say it’s an honor to be in the same room as the lovely and talented Kate Winslet.  You were brilliant in Revolutionary Road and The Reader, but it was your dance number in that latest Rambo movie that made me remember why I got into this business in the first place.

Angelina and Brad, it’s wonderful to see you here tonight.  I was worried you might not be able to find a babysitter to watch the octuplets.

Hats off to Ashton Kutcher.  When you first told me you wanted to turn Macbeth into a surfing movie, I was skeptical.  But your decision to cast Florence Henderson in the lead was inspired.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Academy Awards • Jack Gray
February 20th, 2009
02:50 PM ET

The curious case of New Orleans

Donna Brazile
CNN Contributor

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There's an old saying down in my hometown of New Orleans about how to tell the changing of the seasons. I'm not referring to winter, spring, summer or fall, but rather to the aroma of what someone's cooking up fresh and delicious.

Shrimp, oysters, crabs, crayfish - those are our seasons. It's all a cycle, and before we enter the Lenten season, we gather together to celebrate Mardi Gras.

The parades that began earlier this month won't end until late Fat Tuesday, February 24. This Sunday most of us will come home soon after the Bacchus float rolls down Canal Street, to watch the 81st annual Oscars and root for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."


Filed under: Donna Brazile • Hurricane Katrina
February 20th, 2009
02:46 PM ET

Black cloud hovers over Holder

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Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

Attorney General Eric Holder has made more headlines with one speech than most government officials make with a hundred. To a roomful of Justice Department staff, Holder touched on the sensitive topic of racial reconciliation yesterday and ruffled many feathers in the process. "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot," he said, "in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards..."

Today his remarks have been plastered on newspapers and become the subject du jour on the talk shows. Many people, including conservatives, have recoiled at Holder's observation, which ironically, only seems to prove his point. "Though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race." I think the Attorney General is correct, Americans have cowered to political correctness and as a result we avoid topics like race. The solution to racial reconciliation, however, is not to be found in a more aggressive Department of Justice but in a more aggressive church where we unite around ideals rooted not in skin color but in Jesus Christ.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Race in America • Raw Politics
February 20th, 2009
01:57 PM ET

Humpty Dumpty’s rebound strategy

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Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande
Professor of Economics, Dean, School of Business & Technology, Webster University

As a child growing up, I was raised and nurtured with nursery rhymes, some made up by my parents, others borrowed from a long list of universal rhymes.

One has stayed with me all my life: It is a story of risk, failure and perseverance, the story of Humpty Dumpty, the anthropomorphic egg who tried to defy the odds and met with interesting results.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again.


February 20th, 2009
01:40 PM ET

'We were wrong' on WMDs

This weekend on D.L. Hughley Breaks the News, former Bush administration press secretary Ari Fleischer offers a perspective on President Bush that we haven’t seen before. While we’re familiar with the President Bush who defines “swagger” as “Texan for ‘walking’,” this is the first time we hear from someone close to the former president about the impact of falling public approval ratings on the president’s morale.

Filed under: Iraq • President George W. Bush
February 20th, 2009
11:57 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Inflation lowest since the 1950’s

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/02/20/bank.of.america.subpoena/art.kenneth.lewis.gi.jpg caption="Kenneth Lewis is the CEO and chairman of Bank of America, the nation's largest bank."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Consumer prices posted their first modest increase since July, but the year-over-year inflation rate is at the lowest level in more than a half-century.

The Consumer Price Index, the key measure of prices at the retail level, was up 0.3% compared to December, in line with forecasts. But the index was unchanged from January 2008 levels, the first time that reading has not shown a year-over-year increase since August 1955.

Stocks tumbled out of the gate this morning, stuck in a market hangover after the Dow hit a more than 6-year low. The blue-chip average closed at its lowest level since October 2002 on Thursday - and world markets fell sharply overnight as global investors found few reasons to buy given the Dow’s demise.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Unemployment • Wall St.
February 20th, 2009
11:49 AM ET

If not a nation of cowards, then certainly a nation in denial

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/19/holder.folo/art.holderrace.gi.jpg caption="Attorney General Eric Holder helps celebrate Black History Month at an event Wednesday at the Justice Department."]

Carmen Van Kerckhove
President, New Demographic

In a speech at the Department of Justice on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder declared that when it comes to dealing with the issue of race, we are "essentially a nation of cowards."

While his choice of words was harsh, he was absolutely right in pointing out the fact that honest, authentic, and productive conversations about race rarely happen in this country.

Following his historic speech on race last spring, Barack Obama was castigated by some cable channel talking heads for "throwing his white grandmother under the bus" because he had the audacity to point out that his own flesh and blood - the grandmother who had helped to rear him and loved him like a son –- had herself been guilty of internalizing and reflecting racist stereotypes.


February 20th, 2009
11:48 AM ET

Three lessons from Japan's economic meltdown

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/20/art.market.anon.jpg] Hugh Patrick Director of Center on Japanese Economy and Business at Columbia Business School

Japanese policymakers made two big mistakes and one smart move during Japan's "lost decade" in the '90s, and the financial crisis of 1997-98.

First, they responded slowly to the crisis, even as their economy worsened. American policymakers have learned from that, and accomplished in months what Japan took years to do. And the U.S. should continue to move intuitively, with a sense of urgency.

Second, Japan's attempt at fiscal stimulus seemed bold at the time, but turned out to be too little, too late, too ad hoc, too uncertain. When stimulus started working in 1995-96, the government reversed it in early
1997 with huge tax increases and expenditure cuts.


Filed under: Economy • Finance
February 20th, 2009
11:18 AM ET

US Reaching Out to the Muslim World

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Eboo Patel
Interfaith Youth Core
The Washington Post

A few weeks ago, Obama made a big statement by conducting his first interview after taking office with Al-Arabiya, an Arab TV network. In the interview, he said: "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy...But ultimately, people are going to judge me not by my words but by my actions and my administration's actions."

And this is the part that I hung on to – Obama's desire to reach out to the Muslim world is not a rhetorical gesture, but a concrete initiative. And he's making it happen already.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Jakarta in Indonesia as part of an effort to honor the hard-won democracy of the country and to include the oft-neglected region of Southeast Asia. She said: "If you want to know if Islam, democracy, modernity and women's rights can coexist, go to Indonesia."


Filed under: Eboo Patel • Islam
February 20th, 2009
11:16 AM ET

Tutu to Obama: A word of caution

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Desmond Tutu
BBC News

Desmond Tutu, the first black South African archbishop of the Anglican church and veteran campaigner against apartheid, gives a lecture in London on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the British Council. Here, he explores some of the same themes in an article written for BBC News.

I make no apology for talking and writing, in the UK, about a foreign leader. But expectations of him are so high and attention worldwide is glued to his every step as he reaches the end of his first month in office. He is the story of the moment.


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