April 7th, 2009
02:37 PM ET

How porn on campus can become a Freedom of Speech issue

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David Puente
AC360° Producer

Sometimes it’s surprising which posts get the most reaction on Facebook and Twitter, but today I found out that if you post anything about porn and college, you are bound to get attention. As part of my daily duties here at AC360° I am expected to pitch stories, write questions, and interview newsmakers. But I also tweet on Twitter and post updates on Facebook about what I’m up to for the show.

Earlier today I shared a story on Facebook that I passed along to my boss in an email this morning. University of Maryland students are protesting today what they see as an intrusion by ‘Big Brother.’ Some lawmakers threatened to cut off funds to the public school if the campus screened the hard-core porn movie Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge. It's a takeoff on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series and screened at colleges across the country. Now students at the University of Maryland are planning to defy authority and screen the flick all in the name of academic freedom and freedom of speech.


April 7th, 2009
01:56 PM ET

Ted Stevens' conviction set aside

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/07/ted.stevens/art.ted.stevens.gi.jpg caption="Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and his wife, Catherine, arrive Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Washington."]

A federal judge Tuesday set aside the conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

He also initiated criminal contempt proceedings against the government lawyers who prosecuted Stevens. He appointed an independent, nongovernment attorney to investigate the matter.

"Until recently, my faith in the criminal justice system was unwavering. But what some members of this prosecution team did nearly destroyed my faith. Their conduct has consequences they must know can never be reversed," Stevens said in a statement read to the court.

"But today ... my faith has been restored ... [I have] new hope that others may be spared from similar miscarriages of justice."

Stevens added that he would "encourage the enactment of legislation to reform laws relating to the responsibilities and duties of those entrusted with the solemn task of enforcing federal criminal laws."


Filed under: 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment • Ted Stevens
April 7th, 2009
01:36 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Recovery hopes blossom

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

With unemployment at a 25-year high, housing prices continuing to fall and corporate titans like General Motors on the brink of bankruptcy, there's no lack of horrendous economic news out there.

But despite all the gloom and doom, there are a growing number of economists who see a recovery on the horizon - and perhaps even a strong rebound.

They’re saying that a number of indicators appear to have bottomed out in recent months. Job losses may have peaked in January. Home sales are starting to pick up. Stocks have been enjoying a strong rally the last four weeks… although not today.

And because the economy has experienced such a steep decline in the current downturn, some economists are hopeful the recovery ahead will be much stronger than the anemic gains that came about after the end of the previous two recessions.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Unemployment • Wall St.
April 7th, 2009
11:57 AM ET

Go inside the Caylee Anthony Case

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/02/18/casey.caylee.evidence/art.cqcaylee.jpg caption="The skeletal remains of Caylee Anthony were found in December, about 6 months after she disappeared. "]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Sunday, June 8: “Caylee home with grandmother”
Friday, June 20: “Dad has confrontation with Casey”
Friday, July 18: “Search Back Yard”

The tips, the leads, the doubts, and the suspicions.
They are all put on paper by the homicide detectives working the Caylee Anthony case.

Rarely do we get an opportunity to go inside a murder investigation. But in extraordinary detail and access, some of the handwritten notes of the detectives have now been published for everyone to see.

Obtained by radaronline.com, the Calendar case notes of the investigators reveal their determination to find Caylee and to know the truth.

The pages are filled with underlined passages, arrows, circles, questions, and apparently the growing belief that a young mother is not being honest.

Radaronline has posted the notes on its web site. You can read them here.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
April 7th, 2009
11:30 AM ET

What Obama's trip achieved

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from Christiane. She will be anchoring for Anderson on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Christiane Amanpour
CNN Chief International Correspondent

Such has been the success of President Obama's first overseas visit that some observers are even suggesting North Korea's weekend rocket launch was not the dreaded "3 a.m. moment," but a golden opportunity for the U.S. president.

Coming just hours before Obama's big speech on combating nuclear proliferation, it added urgency to his proposals.

Analysts are also hailing Obama the deal maker, pointing to how he smoothed away Turkey's opposition to the former Danish prime minister becoming the new NATO secretary general. Turkey had objected because of the Danish cartoon flap, which Muslims viewed as insulting the Prophet Mohammed.


Filed under: Global 360° • Iran • President Barack Obama
April 7th, 2009
11:29 AM ET

Country first

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Richard Cohen
The Washington Post

The recent headlines about Lawrence Summers had it all wrong. They announced with an implied breathlessness that he earned around $8 million last year - much of it from the hedge fund D.E. Shaw. Here's what I would have written: "Man Takes More Than $7.9 Million Cut in Pay." Somewhere in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of shrinks, there should be an entry for "public servant." They are all, bless their hearts, a little nuts.

Mine, of course, is not an approach that Screaming Cable TV takes to such people. They are all crooks, up to here - wherever "here" may be - in conflicts of interest and perks, and too dim to succeed in the vaunted private sector. But the truth is otherwise. There are, it turns out, successful people who would give up big bucks and much of their privacy to work for you and me. It's virtually un-American.

Summers is clearly one of these people. D.E. Shaw paid him $5.2 million last year to meet with important clients. In addition, he lent the firm his expertise as a crack economist, and it, in turn, provided him with an idea of how a wildly successful hedge fund works. At the same time, Summers made around $2.7 million in speaking fees from other organizations and companies. He was, to use a technical (micro) economic term, on easy street.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy
April 7th, 2009
11:26 AM ET

Study: One in five obese among four-year-olds

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Lindsey Tanner

A striking new study says almost one in five American four-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children, with nearly a third of them obese. Researchers were surprised to see differences by race at so early an age.

Overall, more than half a million four-year-olds are obese, the study suggests. Obesity is more common in Hispanic and black youngsters, too, but the disparity is most startling in American Indians, whose rate is almost double that of whites.

The lead author said that rate is worrisome among children so young, even in a population at higher risk for obesity because of other health problems and economic disadvantages.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Health Care • Medical News • Nutrition • Parenting
April 7th, 2009
11:13 AM ET

Recession ignites sales of romance

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Meghan Daum
Chicago Tribune

Amid the ceaseless reminders that the economy is in a persistent vegetative state, it's easy to forget that some industries and products are thriving. U.S. News & World Report, which recently released its list of "10 winners in the recession," says Hershey's chocolate increased earnings by more than 50 percent last quarter and the Burpee seed company has said it expects sales to increase by 25 percent this year (and this was before the first lady's organic-gardening initiative). McDonald's same-store sales were up 6.8 percent last month (thanks, no doubt, to value meal menus that can provide an entire day's worth of calories for a few dollars). Career development Web sites saw their traffic jump 20 percent from last year to this year, and résumé editors are apparently doing a brisk business, especially when it comes to the health-care, tourism and restaurant industries (finance, not so much).

But the most intriguing entry was the third item on U.S. News' list: bodice-ripper novels. Harlequin, still the biggest name in serial romances, saw a $3 million gain, year to year, in North American sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 (by contrast, book sales in the general marketplace are down slightly). It's so easy to poke fun at contemporary romance novels that there's really no sport in it. The plots, by definition, are formulaic; the prose manages to be at once overwrought and underdeveloped; the covers, well, they're where that famous, flaxen-haired slab of manhood named Fabio got his start. But romances have long dominated sales of mass-market paperbacks (which, in turn, dominate sales of books in general).


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Pop Culture
April 7th, 2009
11:00 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Can I have Gatorade and Beef Jerky?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/04/07/stolen.plane.pilot/art.adam.leon.butlersheriff.jpg caption="Adam Leon, 31, is being held without bond after allegedly stealing a plane from a Canadian flight school. "]

Penny Manis
AC360° Senior Producer

Adam Leon stole a Cessna 172 aircraft from a Canadian flight school, meandered through 3 different states with U.S. fighter jets in hot pursuit, and forced the evacuation of the state capitol in Wisconsin.

His plane flew ‘erratically' over the course of the afternoon yesterday on this 7 hour journey, until he finally landed in a small Midwestern town where he ended up in a general store asking for Gatorade and beef jerky (of all things) until he was arrested. Talk about causing a commotion, this guy is going to have much to answer for today, and we’ll have the latest.

He isn’t the only guy with some talking to do today- US officials are taking ‘very seriously’ a plot to assassinate President Obama involving a Syrian man arrested late last week. But officials made clear that the alleged plotter never posed any real threat to President Obama during his European trip.

The plot was first unveiled by a Saudian Arabian newspaper which mentioned that Turkish security services had arrested a man of Syrian origin in connection with a plan to target the President during his visit to Turkey. We’ll have more details tonight.

President Obama is heading home following his last event in Turkey this morning, a town hall meeting with college students. He sent a message that was loud and clear before he left the continent: The U.S. “is not, and never will be, at war with Islam.” We’ll tell you what was achieved on his first overseas trip as Commander-in-Chief.


Filed under: Penny Manis • The Buzz
April 7th, 2009
10:58 AM ET

Former Peruvian president found guilty of rights abuses


Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori has been found guilty on human-rights abuse charges stemming from Peru's so-called "dirty war" of the early 1990s.

He could receive up to 25 years in prison. A judge was conducting a sentencing hearing Tuesday morning.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Human Rights • Peru
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