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April 6th, 2009
02:21 PM ET

Obama's Turkish dilemma

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/06/obama.turkey/art.obama.turkey.cnn.jpg caption="President Obama and Turkish President Abdullah Gul hold a joint news conference Monday."]

F. Stephen Larrabee, RAND

President Obama's visit to Ankara this week highlights Turkey's growing strategic importance to the United States - and a high stakes dilemma for the President and for U.S. strategic interests.

Turkey today plays an increasingly important role in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East, and its cooperation is critical to achieving U.S. objectives in all three areas. Turkey also enjoys strong ties to Iran and Syria, which could be helpful as Washington seeks to establish a dialogue with both countries.

Turkish cooperation could be important in facilitating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and promoting stability once they leave. Turkey is even emerging as an important transit route for the transport of Caspian oil and gas.

FULL POST

April 6th, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Shootings, murder-suicide raise broader question: Is violence linked to recession?

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Patrik Jonsson
The Christian Science Monitor

Four Oakland, Calif., police officers shot down. An Alabama man strolling a small town with a rifle, looking for victims. Seven elderly people shot dead at a North Carolina nursing home. And on Sunday, six people, including four kids, died in an apparent murder-suicide in an upscale neighborhood in Santa Clara, Calif.

The details in all these cases are still emerging. In most, the exact motive has yet to be determined – or may never be fully understood.

On a broader level, however, such incidents may be happening more often because an increasing number of Americans feel desperate pressure from job losses and other economic hardship, criminologists say.

"Most of these mass killings are precipitated by some catastrophic loss, and when the economy goes south, there are simply more of these losses," says Jack Levin, a noted criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston.

Read more...


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Gun Violence
April 6th, 2009
01:06 PM ET

Why did North Korea launch rocket?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/04/06/amanpour.north.korea.rocket/art.northkorea.kimjongil.rocket.team.kns.afp.gi.jpg caption="Picture released by North Korean state news agency shows Kim Jong Il, center, with staff from the rocket team."]
Christiane Amanpour
CNN Chief International Correspondent

After a three-hour emergency session Sunday, the United Nations Security Council failed to come to any agreement on how to deal with North Korea's rocket launch over the weekend. Deliberations will continue Monday.

Sources say China, Russia Libya and Vietnam are blocking any resolution or punitive measures. They call for caution and restraint while the U.S. is calling for a strong and unified response. Officials believe the most that could happen would be a Security Council presidential statement condemning the launch and a possible attempt to reaffirm existing U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang. They do not expect new sanctions to be imposed.

U.S. Northern Command and other intelligence sources are portraying North Korea's launch of what they say was a Taepodong-2 missile as a failure. "Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan. The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean. No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan," according to a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Northern Command.

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Filed under: 360º Follow • Christiane Amanpour • North Korea
April 6th, 2009
01:00 PM ET

Fallen soldier returns home

The body of Staff Sergeant Phillip Myers, who was killed in Afghanistan, is returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. This was the first time the return of the body of a fallen member of the U.S. armed forces was opened to news outlets since media coverage was banned in 1991.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Pentagon
April 6th, 2009
12:47 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Cracking down on housing scams

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

In the wake of the Obama Administration’s program to rescue troubled homeowners, a number of federal agencies are teaming up to fight mortgage and foreclosure scams.

The administration's $75 billion effort to help as many as 9 million mortgage holders get new or refinanced loans is drawing a lot of interest from homeowners, Treasury Department officials said.

"Those who would seek to prey on the most vulnerable also seek to intensify their efforts as well," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said today. "We will aggressively pursue those involved in mortgage rescue scams."

The Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will lead the efforts from Washington. State attorneys general will also participate.

More people in the U.S. have fallen behind on loan payments than ever before.

FULL POST


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Unemployment • Wall St.
April 6th, 2009
12:15 PM ET

On energy, free at last

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Fareed Zakaria
The Washington Post

Energy independence sounds like such a great idea. if only we could be free ... of what, exactly? The single biggest energy exporter to the U.S. is Canada. And even the petrostates we don't like have to sell us oil at whatever price the market sets. We buy lots from Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. He denounces us, we denounce him, but we happily do business together. After all, what else is he going to do with his oil, drink it?

One could make a broader argument: the United States should wean itself off oil in order to diminish its crucial importance in the world of energy. That would make states like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and Venezuela less powerful–and less able to fund militias and terrorist groups. This is a worthwhile goal, but let's be realistic. Given the demands for energy over the next few decades, oil is going to be a key part of the mix, which means that these countries will have plenty of cash. After all, Saudi Arabia was funding extremist Islamic groups in the 1990s, when oil was $20 a barrel. The Saudis were budgeting for oil at $35 until a few years ago–and still swimming in money. I would love to see a world in which radical Islam runs out of money, but I think that we will probably have to struggle against these forces for a long time. There is no quick energy fix.

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Filed under: Energy • Environmental issues • Fareed Zakaria
April 6th, 2009
12:13 PM ET

Part of America Died

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/04/04/pittsburgh.officers.shot/art.pittsburgh.03.gi.jpg caption="The killings were the first police officer fatalities in Pittsburgh since 1995. "]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Richard Poplawski allegedly ambushed three Pittsburgh police officers on Saturday. Authorities say the heroes were all cut down by a coward armed with an AK-47. A friend of Poplawski said the suspect called him and said he was going to die that day. Yet he lived. They did not. They were just doing their jobs, this time responding to a routine call. How were they to know it was a death trap?

It is one of the darkest moments in the history of Pittsburgh. Within a few hours, three officers were slain in the line of duty. The first cop killings in more than a decade. The grief has overwhelmed the city. "We ask all of Pittsburgh to mourn the passing of these three heroes and to embrace and support their families and loves ones," said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

It started with what seemed like a routine call - a domestic argument sparked by a dog urinating in the house. A police complaint seeking an arrest warrant for Poplawski, 22, says his mother called 9-1-1 around 7 a.m. Saturday to report her son was "giving her a hard time."

FULL POST


Filed under: 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon • Gun Control • Gun Violence
April 6th, 2009
12:05 PM ET

No religion? No problem.

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Nica Lalli
USA TODAY

Demographers are already salivating ahead of the upcoming U.S. Census, which will no doubt show just how different 2010 America is from 2000 America. When it comes to the religious breakdown of the country, though, the waiting game is over. Try this pop quiz:

What is the fastest-growing religious group in our country?

A. Southern Baptists.

B. Roman Catholics.

C. Non-denominational Christians.

D. None. As in, no religion at all.

The answer is D, but fear not. This isn't the end of the world or of religiosity in America.

Read more...


Filed under: 360° Radar • Religion
April 6th, 2009
12:03 PM ET

Quake leaves thousands homeless

Rescue efforts continue in L'Aquila, Italy, after an earthquake stuck overnight. Journalist Delia Gallagher reports.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360°
April 6th, 2009
11:57 AM ET

First lady’s triumph is a win for us all

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Cynthia Tucker
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

First lady Michelle Obama’s easy charm is so infectious that she melted the famously stiff and formal Queen of England. During a G-20 reception last week, Elizabeth even embraced Mrs. Obama with a demure, hand-on-the-back gesture.

“It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection,” a Buckingham Palace spokesman said, adding that he couldn’t remember the last time the queen had so publicly departed from the royals’ no-touching protocol.

Back on this side of the Atlantic, Michelle Obama has also won rave reviews from a once-skeptical public, with a recent Gallup poll giving her a 72 percent favorability rating, slightly higher than the president’s. Though detractors still occasionally pan her fashion choices or cluck prudishly over her athletic bare arms, Americans clearly have taken to their new first lady.

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Filed under: 360º Follow • Michelle Obama
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