Tonight on AC360°, recession news flash: the rich are getting poorer. Just hours ago, Forbes magazine published its 2009 list of the world’s top billionaires. The take-away: there are fewer of them, and their fortunes are shrinking. It’s not a story that will generate much sympathy. We get that. But it’s still an interesting look at the recession’s reach. We’ll tell you who has lost the most and who has fallen the furthest. Tonight we want to keep the live blog on this one topic. So, please share your thoughts with us.
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CNN NY Desk Editor
The recession has hit hard on Wall Street and Main Street…now it’s reached Sesame Street.
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit company that produces the popular children’s educational show, announced Wednesday it would cut its workforce by 20 percent. In a statement, the company said the show “is not immune to the unprecedented challenges of today’s economic environment”.
A spokesperson said the layoffs would affect 67 of Sesame Workshop’s 355 employees, and would hit every department. The statement said though forced to operate with fewer resources, “we remain optimistic about our future and are more committed than ever to our mission of helping children reach their highest potential here and around the globe.”
Tuesday, we learned of the recession’s impact on another institution. Eddie Doyle, the bartender at the Boston bar that inspired the television show “Cheers”, was one of several employees let go. The Boston Globe said the owner blamed falling business in the tough economic climate for the cuts. FULL POST
In the last 24 hours we’ve learned a lot more about the grisly shooting rampage in Alabama that left 11 dead, including the shooter, 28-year-old Michael McLendon. The story was still developing as we were on air last night.
A state senator from the region today described the mass murder as “20-something miles of terror in my district.”
Investigators still don’t know why McLendon killed his mother and four other relatives, plus five other people who appear to have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The rampage lasted less than an hour. The oldest victim was 74; the youngest just 18 months.
There are reports that police have found a list of employers “who had done the gunman wrong.” We’re digging deeper on that.
There’s also a remarkable rescue story emerging tonight: A woman who listened crept onto her neighbors’ porch after the gunman left and scooped up a 3-month-old baby whose mother and toddler sister were among the dead. All the while, the shooter was one block away, still firing. Tonight we’ll have all the details.
We’ll also be looking at the raw politics of the $410 billion spending bill that President Obama signed today. It’s the last piece of the Bush administration’s final budget and will keep the government running through September. It also has nearly 9,000 earmarks worth almost $8 billion tucked into its fine print. On the campaign trail, Mister Obama promised to scrutinize every budget line by line and eliminate waste. Tonight he’s under fire from some for not taking a hard line on the pork in the spending bill. He says he signed the bill reluctantly and pledged to get tougher from here on out. What do you think? Should the president have taken a stand today – or does he have bigger fish to fry right now?
Also tonight: Is the stimulus working? Tom Foreman follows the money to a highway project in Maryland. The seven-month project to build a road is already underway and creating some jobs. Will it be enough to make a real difference in the local economy?
Last and perhaps least, Forbes magazine has just published its new list of the world’s wealthiest. The rich are getting poorer. There are fewer of them and their fortunes are shrinking. We’re not suggesting we feel huge waves of sympathy for these billionaires. But it’s interesting to see who’s up and who’s down.
See you at 10 p.m. eastern!
The richest people in the world have gotten poorer, just like the rest of us. This year the world's billionaires have an average net worth of $3 billion, down 23% in 12 months. The world has 793, down from 1,125 a year ago.
After slipping in recent years, the U.S. is regaining its dominance as a repository of wealth. Americans account for 44% of the money and 45% of the list's slots, up seven and three percentage points from last year, respectively. Bill Gates lost $18 billion but regained his title as the world's richest man. Warren Buffett, last year's No. 1, saw his fortune decline $25 billion as shares of Berkshire Hathaway fell nearly 50% in 12 months. Mexican telecom titan Carlos Slim Helu maintains his spot in the top three but lost $25 billion.
Yahoo! BuzzWhile 656 moguls lost money in the past year, 44 added to their fortunes. Those who made money did so by catering to budget-conscious consumers (discount retailer Uniqlo's Tadashi Yanai), predicting the crash (investor John Paulson) or cashing out in the nick of time (Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberte). Another 38 joined our rankings for the first time, and three former billionaires returned to the list.
Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
The word Pakistan literally means ‘land of the pure.' Sadly, there has been nothing ‘pure’ about the continued downward political spiral of this nuclear-armed, third-world fledgling democracy of 172 million people over the last several years.
From the December 2007 political assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in the garrison city of Rawalpindi to the September 2008 terrorist attacks at the Islamabad Marriott hotel (which killed over 54 people, including the Czech Ambassador to Pakistan); it comes as little surprise to any expert on the region that one of our major regional allies in the ‘war on terror’ is now teetering on the brink of political disaster.
Especially in light of the most recent tragedies like the March 2009 Lahore terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan national cricket team and the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks on the Taj and Oberoi hotels (which killed over 173 people in eight locations); Pakistan has once again infamously proven itself to continue being a focal point for our global realpolitik for the foreseeable future.
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U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the Oval Office at the White House on March 11, 2009 in Washington, DC.
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Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear Sanjay talk about his interview with former president Bill Clinton at 10 p.m. ET on AC360°.
Medical News Unit
Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I recently packed our bags on a voyage around the world - India to be exact. We wanted to investigate the newest trend in health care: Medical Tourism. Americans are beginning to literally “country shop” for the best hospitals at the best price for their operations.
We spent time at a New Delhi hospital and it wasn’t what you might expect. It was upscale and high-tech. It had marble floors, wi-fi, a book cafe, even a Subway in the lobby. Their operating rooms were stocked with the latest high-tech medical equipment and the majority of their surgeons had studied or worked in the United States.
So we started to ask ourselves, what are they doing to save costs that we aren’t? How can the exact same procedure cost $10,000 in India and $100,000 in America?
A gunman dressed in military gear killed 15 people Wednesday in a shooting spree in Germany, police said.
Tim Kretschmer, 17, began his rampage at a school where he used to be a student in Winnenden, a small town about 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Stuttgart.
Most of the victims at the school were female - eight female students, three female teachers and one male student, said Heribert Rech, interior minister for Baden Wuerttemberg region.
Editor's note: A gunman killed 10 people and himself Tuesday in southern Alabama. It's the most recent example of mass killing sprees that have traumatized communities over the years. Here's how one city responded.
On October 16, 1991, 35-year-old George Hennard drove a pickup truck into Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, and fatally shot 23 people and wounded more than 20 before killing himself.
For more than 15 years, the city next to the sprawling Fort Hood military base had the dubious distinction of being the site of the deadliest mass shooting in the United States - until a student killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech in 2007.