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April 9th, 2009
04:58 PM ET

Turnabout is fair play

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
“In Session.”

Former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and his wife Catherine outside the federal courthouse on Tuesday in Washington, DC

Former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and his wife Catherine outside the federal courthouse on Tuesday in Washington, DC

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Former Senator Ted Stevens has filed the paperwork necessary to lay the groundwork for another senatorial bid. It seems the disgraced octogenarian wants to return to the Senate in 2014.

And why not? Sure, he was convicted of seven counts of making false statements and various other ethics violations; but the indictment underlying his convictions was withdrawn last week by new Attorney General Eric Holder who was deeply troubled by the prosecutorial misconduct in the case.

Read more...


Filed under: 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment • In Session • Jami Floyd • Ted Stevens
April 9th, 2009
04:30 PM ET

Iran president 'proud' of nuclear progress

Iranian journalists toured the nuclear facility in February.

Iranian journalists toured the nuclear facility in February.

CNN

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country could be proud of two major nuclear accomplishments.

The first is "the packaging of fuel and making the fuel ready to be put inside the reactor" at Iran's only nuclear plant to produce power, Ahmadinejad said, speaking on his nation's National Nuclear Technology Day.

He said the second is the testing of two new types of centrifuges whose capacity is "several times greater" than existing capacity. Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium.

Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium.

Ahmadinejad's comments were broadcast nationally from the city of Esfahan, about 100 miles south of the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in central Iran.

The United States, some European nations and Israel contend Iran's nuclear development is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Iran denies that charge, saying its its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Read more...


Filed under: 360º Follow • Iran
April 9th, 2009
03:35 PM ET

Could a helicopter have saved Natasha Richardson?

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear the full report on what happened after Natasha Richardson's fall on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Richardson was taking a beginner lesson at Mount Tremblant ski resort.

Richardson was taking a beginner lesson at Mount Tremblant ski resort.

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

When Natasha Richardson fell while skiing in Quebec last month, she hit her head hard enough that an ambulance was called to the scene by ski patrol. She got up and walked off her injury, turning away an ambulance, thinking she was fine.

I think I know how she felt. I fell last year down a flight of concrete stairs after an ice storm, the impact knocked me out for about 15 seconds. I came to, stood up and walked it off. I also turned away the ambulance. I felt they were better used to take care of sick people. Luckily, I was fine.

Natasha Richardson was not. She suffered an epidural hematoma. A condition that causes a blood clot on the brain between the hard skull and a layer of skin that covers the brain. Too much swelling and it can cause brain damage or in some cases, death.

FULL POST

April 9th, 2009
03:09 PM ET

Take fight to the pirates

Tom Wilkerson
Special to CNN

It is well past time to take a serious look at piracy off the coast of Africa.

Initially, the U.S. ignored the threat, and when public outcry about our seeming indifference became louder, we formed a combined task force of international navies in the Gulf of Aden under command of a U.S. Navy rear admiral to "deter, disrupt and thwart" the pirates.

Today, it is clear that initiative has failed. In fact, this bit of muscle-flexing did so little to intimidate pirates operating out of Somalia that they have actually increased the number of attacks in the last month.

Significant among those attacks, pirates on Wednesday boarded and temporarily held a U.S.-flagged vessel, the container ship Maersk Alabama. The U.S. crew and its captain retook the vessel, but at the price of the captain becoming a hostage to the four pirates in one of the Maersk Alabama's lifeboats. Several hours later a U.S. warship, the Aegis destroyer USS Bainbridge, arrived on scene and, as I write, the standoff with the pirates continues.

What an embarrassing and frustrating event! A bunch of maritime thugs brazenly seized a vessel flying the flag of the nation with the most powerful navy the world has ever known. The fault does not lie with the ships and sailors of Combined Task Force-151. They have been given the proverbial mission impossible - stop pirate attacks in an area four times the size of Texas with only three U.S. Navy ships and a total of 12 to 15 allied/friendly warships. Not gonna happen!

But embarrassment aside, there is real potential for loss of life and for continued attacks on vessels plying these waters. The issue is simple but difficult - how do we eliminate the pirate threat?

Read more...

April 9th, 2009
02:58 PM ET

Cargo ship heads for Kenya; pirates still hold captain

Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is being held by pirates on a lifeboat off Somalia.

Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is being held by pirates on a lifeboat off Somalia.

CNN

The U.S.-flagged cargo ship Maersk Alabama is heading to port in Mombasa, Kenya, a day after it was hijacked off Somalia's coast, the father of one of the crew members said Thursday.

An 18-man armed security detail is on board to make sure the vessel and the 20 crew members get there safely, Capt. Joe Murphy said. It is about a 50-hour journey.

FBI negotiators are trying to secure the release of the Maersk Alabama's captain, who is still being held by the Somali hijackers in a lifeboat.

Capt. Richard Phillips "remains hostage but is unharmed," Maersk spokesman Kevin Speers said Thursday morning.

"The safe return of the captain is our foremost priority," Speers said.

The U.S. Navy has called FBI negotiators to help negotiate his release, according to FBI spokesman Bill Carter.

The pirates reneged on their agreement to exchange Phillips for one pirate who had been captured by the crew members, according to the second officer of the ship, Ken Quinn. The pirate was released unharmed, according to Quinn who spoke to CNN on Wednesday via a satellite call.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday morning, Speers said the U.S. Navy "is in command of the situation."

"We are in regular contact with the Alabama," he said from Maersk Line Ltd.'s headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. "The ship remains at a safe distance as instructed by the Navy. We are coordinating with the Navy and all the governmental organizations involved in this crisis."

Read more...


Filed under: 360° Radar • Pirates • The Buzz
April 9th, 2009
01:36 PM ET

Docs questioning Quebec's urgent care resources

Actress Natasha Richardson died after suffering an epidural hematoma in a fall during a ski lesson.

Actress Natasha Richardson died after suffering an epidural hematoma in a fall during a ski lesson.
An ambulance took Richardson from the Hotel Quintessence, above, to a nearby hospital.

An ambulance took Richardson from the Hotel Quintessence, above, to a nearby hospital.

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

Natasha Richardson came to Mont Tremblant ski resort in eastern Canada last month for what was supposed to be a skiing getaway.

But what she may not have known is some doctors have been arguing that if a person here is in need of urgent care at a medical trauma center, he or she may not be able to get there fast enough. The only way to get to the closest trauma center from here is to drive 2½ hours to Montreal. No helicopter medical service is available.

The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail obtained 911 recordings from Monday, March 16, when Richardson fell on a beginners slope on a sunny, clear day at the resort. The first request for help came in at 12:43 p.m., an urgent call that a woman had fallen on the slopes. That woman was Richardson. Seventeen minutes later, at 1 p.m., an ambulance arrived, but Richardson had been able to walk away from the fall and was headed back to her hotel room.

Ten minutes later the ambulance was told to stand down, the call canceled.

What Richardson couldn't have known is that she suffered an epidural hematoma. It's a condition where a blood clot forms between the skull and the outer layer of the brain. Too much pressure can cause brain damage and even death. Symptoms include dizziness, headaches and nausea.

FULL POST

April 9th, 2009
01:30 PM ET

Bridging the DOD-VA gap

President Obama and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, seen here last month.

President Obama and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, seen here last month.

Jon Soltz
VoteVets.org

Brian McGough knows the pain of navigating from Department of Defense (DOD) medical care to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care all too well.

In October 2003, Brian was wounded by a roadside bomb on the outskirts of Mosul. After undergoing surgery to repair his open head wound, he spent several months recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Brian still battles the effects of both his injuries.

But Brian’s battle wasn’t over when he left the military.

The gaps in transitioning from DOD to VA care were so bad, the byzantine process so confusing, and the paperwork so heavy, that Brian had to spend three months on unemployment, while he waited to be fully transitioned, so he could receive benefits from the VA for his injuries, which made it impossible to work at the time.

Thankfully, Brian’s doing better today, and is now the Legislative Director and Vice Chairman of VoteVets.org. As the group’s point person on policy, Brian made sure that making a seamless transition from DOD to VA was one of our legislative priorities.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360º Follow • Iraq • Veterans
April 9th, 2009
01:12 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Stocks get bank boost

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Stocks on Wall Street roared out of the starting gate as investors applauded an unexpectedly bullish forecast from Wells Fargo.

The bank says it expects to book a profit of approximately $3 billion in the most recent quarter, exceeding analyst’s expectations and adding to hopes that the hard-hit financial sector is stabilizing.

Wells Fargo shares soared 25%, giving the entire banking sector a boost.

Some mixed news on the unemployment front today... the number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless benefits dropped last week while the number of people continuing to claim benefits set a record for the 11th straight week.

First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell by 20,000 to 654,000 from the previous week revised figure of 674,000.

But the number of people receiving benefits for one week or more rose by 95,000 to a new record high of 5.84 million.

The U.S. trade deficit plunged unexpectedly in February to the lowest level in more than nine years as the steep recession pushed imports down for a seventh straight month.

FULL POST


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Unemployment • Wall St.
April 9th, 2009
12:48 PM ET

Oops! Obama's press office has an e-mail snafu

CNN

The White House Press Office accidentally e-mailed a draft version of President Obama's Thursday schedule on Wednesday night that included the back-and-forth between White House staffers.

The e-mail, sent on a daily basis to inform the media of the next day's events, at first appeared to be like any other press schedule. But at the bottom of the e-mail, there was a series of exchanges from the press team, as well as a draft of the schedule.

The first section of the schedule noted that in the morning, Obama planned to talk with homeowners who have refinanced their homes and benefited from lower mortgage payments.

Keep Reading...

April 9th, 2009
11:57 AM ET

911 operator didn’t warn cops of guns

An example of a call center for emergency services.

An example of a call center for emergency services.

David Puente
AC360° Producer

The three police officers ambushed and killed in Pittsburgh last Saturday in a domestic dispute were never told by a 911 dispatcher that guns were in the home.

"It was pure human error, and a terrible thing that occurred," Bob Full, chief of emergency services for Allegheny County, told CNN affiliate WTAE.

The officers were responding to a fight between Richard Poplawski, 22, and his mother. She made the call to 911 and told the operator that the guns in the home were all legal, but the operator did not make the appropriate notation to alert responders as she had been trained to do. The operator involved is now on administrative leave and receiving counseling herself.

Investigators believe Poplawski, wearing a bullet-proof vest, fired more than 100 rounds at officers with an AK-47 and two other guns. We will never know if the events may have played out differently if the officers had known there were weapons in the home.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • David Puente • Gun Violence
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