March 23rd, 2009
03:02 PM ET

The U.S. needs to unmix the message in Mexico

Editor's note: Tune in to our special coverage on Wednesday as Anderson reports live from Mexico on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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Los Angeles Times
Denise Dresser

Writing From Mexico City - As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares for her trip this week to Mexico, she needs to pack not only goodwill but a consistent U.S. position.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow has compared Mexico to a porcupine because of the country's prickly nationalism, and right now its worst symptoms are on full display. After weeks of U.S. congressional hearings on Mexico's drug-related violence and front-page news stories focused on its many ills, the country is feeling badgered and bruised. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has even suggested that a concerted effort to discredit Mexico is taking place in the United States.

Mexico's quills are standing straight up, and Clinton will need to placate Mexicans with a good dose of public diplomacy. The best way to accomplish this goal would be to arrive with what has been lacking so far: a clear, unified message from the Obama administration regarding the sort of relationship it wants with Mexico.


Filed under: Global 360° • Hillary Clinton • Mexico
March 23rd, 2009
02:31 PM ET

Geithner faces a tough crowd

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Jessica Yellin
CNN National Political Correspondent

Slouching alone at the head table before a room of business reporters today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner looked like an overgrown prep school student facing the expulsion board. It wasn't what he said, but his demeanor as he said it. Cautious, gazing out from deep-set eyes - he seemed to shrink from the room. And the room was skeptical.

Geither unveiled the new "Public-Private Investment Program," in which taxpayer funds will be used to seed partnerships with private investors that will buy up toxic assets backed by mortgages and other loans.

When the secretary calmly said that taxpayers would get a fair shake in the deal because the funds in question "are managed by professionals who know how to do this for a living," one reporter could be heard sighing, "oh, great."

The wariness was mutual. Asked whether he thought this economic plan would play well outside Washington, Geithner offered a wry smile. "I'm confident that you and your colleagues will do a good job of getting the word out," he replied.

Geithner's presentation lasted just over 35 minutes, the bulk of that time answering reporters' questions - though no cameras or microphones were allowed. Most questions were along the lines of, "why do you think this will work?"


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Jessica Yellin • Treasury Secretary
March 23rd, 2009
01:34 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Wall Street applauds ‘bad’ bank plan

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Stocks soared Monday as investors hailed the Treasury Dept.'s plan to buy up billions of dollars worth of so-called “toxic” bank assets, seeing it as a critical move in stabilizing the financial system.

At noon, the Dow was up more than 300 points, and the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 were each up more than 4%. Wall Street is coming off its first weekly back-to-back winning streak in nearly a year.

Sales of previously-owned homes unexpectedly rose in February, recovering from a sharp drop in the previous month.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Gas Prices • Housing Market • Oil • Treasury Secretary • Wall St.
March 23rd, 2009
01:00 PM ET

Behind the scenes at AC360°

Alyssa Caplan
AC360° Staffer

If you’ve ever wondered how we prepare guests at AC360°, here is your chance to find out! I want to share the chatter that took place as I prepared for a segment last Thursday when we were doing a live show from Hofstra University.

We set out to tell the stories of the individuals behind the headlines and offer practical survival advice. College students are no less immune from the challenges of the recession than the rest of the world. The students I met at Hofstra shared stories that were both heartwarming and sobering as they discussed mounting student debts and juggling jobs on top of studies to help ease the financial stress on their families.

We picked five students that were representative of a collective student body to ask questions to our expert guests: Frans Johansson, author of "The Medici Effect" & Innovation Consultant & Donna Rosato, Sr. Writer, MONEY Magazine.

The conversation you'll see here unfolded before I walked them outside through the crowd to Anderson and the crew for their segment.

Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Road to Rescue
March 23rd, 2009
12:56 PM ET

Radio host stabbed to death in Brooklyn home

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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

George Weber used his blog to discuss "news, politics, life and Brooklyn."

A resident of the Brownstone-lined neighborhood of Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, New York, the ABC News radio anchor noted on his page recently a violent episode in the area. Quoting a local newspaper, Weber wrote, "A woman’s mutilated body was discovered outside a Degraw Street apartment building on Feb. 27, the first murder this year in the 76th Precinct."

The second homicide was reported over the weekend. George Weber was the victim.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
March 23rd, 2009
12:36 PM ET

Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless

Program Note: Watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight on AC360 at 10 p.m. ET.

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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/23/art.aig.media.mongrel.jpg caption="The pack of media at the home of AIG executive Douglas Poling as the group tries to deliver the letter."]

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Randi Kaye | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

This was not your everyday guided bus tour. On board with me were a few dozen people who were either struggling financially or had lost their jobs or their homes. This tour took us through affluent areas of Connecticut so those less fortunate could see how some of the executives from AIG are living.

The tour was organized by the group, Connecticut Working Families, and dubbed the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous” bus tour. It took us past two of the executives homes who had received big bonus checks from AIG even after the government had bailed out the company with about $170 billion in taxpayer dollars.


March 23rd, 2009
11:56 AM ET

Just as he was running out of chips...

Program Note: For more from Ali Velshi on Geithner's plan, tune in tonight for AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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Ali Velshi
CNN Chief Business Correspondent

...Timothy Geithner shows his hand. Coming out with MOST of the rest of the banking plan (final details will come at the end of April, when the results of the "stress tests" on the bank come in).

So far Wall St. likes the deal, putting the Dow above 7,500 before noon. The plan basically allows private companies to partner with the government to buy some of these so-called "toxic assets" at a good price, with government backing.

It's sort of like the government telling you it'll set aside the best, undiscovered antiques at every garage sale – the stuff that's taking up space for homeowners but the experts know are hidden gems, once they get cleaned-up and displayed properly. Not only that, but the government will come up with half the money if you want it (although when you polish-up and sell the antique, you split the winnings with the government). And if you don't have enough money to take part in this plan, the government will lend it to you.


Filed under: Ali Velshi • Economy • Finance • Treasury Secretary
March 23rd, 2009
11:46 AM ET

Will the Geithner plan work?

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David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

In a famous exchange in Shakespeare’s play, Henry IV, Part 1, two characters by the name of Glendower and Hotspur are jesting over how to persuade others to follow them. Glendower says, “I can call spirits from the vasty deep,” to which Hotspur responds, “why yes, so can I and so can any man, but when you call them, will they come?”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner today summoned spirits from the vasty deep with his ambitious plan to persuade private investors to buy up the toxic assets of troubled banks. All of us have an interest in the plan succeeding – we need our banks to be healthy and able to lend again to consumers and small businesses; the stock market rallied sharply in the opening hours. But the real test will come over time: will the private investors actually come up and buy enough of the toxic assets? We may have to wait a number of weeks to know for sure.


Filed under: 360° Radar • David Gergen • Economy • Finance • Treasury Secretary
March 23rd, 2009
11:04 AM ET

Prison advice for Bernie Madoff

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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

The Wall Street fraud who scammed investors out of $64 billion will be sentenced in June. Bernard Madoff could receive as much as 150-years behind bars. For the 70-year-old felon, even a fraction of the maximum term will most likely mean he'll die in prison.

But where will he do the time? The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) lists five classifications of security for institutional placement: minimum, low, medium, and high. The latter, high, are also known as United States Penitentiaries.

There are also "administrative facilities," where services run the gamut from detaining pretrial offenders and convicts with medical problems, to housing the most violent inmates in locations called 'administration-maximum penitentiaries' – also known as 'SuperMax.'


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
March 23rd, 2009
10:55 AM ET

Praying for POTUS

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Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

George W. Bush appreciated knowing that people were praying for him as President of the United States. "I turn to them without hesitation and say, 'That is the greatest gift you can give anybody, to pray on their behalf,'" he told the National Prayer Breakfast in 2003.

Apparently not everyone who prayed for George W. Bush as President was willing to do the same for his successor, but more people may be willing to pray for President Obama than for his predecessor.

There is, of course, no count of how many people pray for the President, but there is a Presidential Prayer Team, founded by members of a Scottsdale, Arizona, church. The PPT combines a belief that there is greater power unified prayer with direction from the Apostle Paul to his disciple Timothy to encourage followers to pray for their leaders.


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