April 14th, 2009
03:32 PM ET

Third time’s a charm

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Jamie Floyd | Bio
In Session

We will never really know what happened in Spector’s foyer the night actress Lana Clarkson died. Only two people know that; and one of them is dead. But, of course, prosecutors don’t need definitive proof to meet their burden. Circumstantial evidence is enough. In this case, prosecutor Alan Jackson had that. The defense, on the other hand, had only a defense of suicide to explain the actress’s death by a single gunshot would to the head.

Unlike so many other cases, in which I decry the verdict, Phil Spector had the best defense money could buy. Good as it was, however, the defense team was up against a very able, very committed prosecutor and all the resources of the state. Which brings us to this question on appeal: Whether, with the best of intentions, Alan Jackson compromised his verdict with evidence that requires reversal.

Evidence of prior bad acts is constitutionally required to be precisely tailored to the facts of the current case — precisely tailored. In this case, the five women who testified about Spector’s prior bad behavior all lived to tell their story. Lana Clarkson did not. That makes her case different and eliminates the specificity required.

That could mean a retrial for Phil Spector. And you know what they say. Third time’s a charm.

Filed under: Jami Floyd
April 14th, 2009
03:30 PM ET

Obama says economy improving but hard times ahead

Program note: For more details on the economy tune into AC 360° tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

President Obama said Tuesday that recent stimulus measures "are starting to generate signs of economic progress," but more tough times are ahead.

The White House described Obama's speech as a major address on the economy.

"The Recovery Act, the bank capitalization program, the housing plan, the strengthening of the nonbank credit market, the auto plan and our work at the [Group of 20 summit] have been necessary pieces of the recovery puzzle," Obama said in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington.


Filed under: Economy • President Barack Obama
April 14th, 2009
01:20 PM ET

For Motown, The Bird was the word

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/14/art.mark.fidrych.jpg caption="Mark 'The Bird' Fidrych #20 of the Detroit Tigers prepares to pitch to the Minnesota Twins during a regular season game on June 20, 1976 in Minneapolis, Minnesota."]

Paul Caron
CNN Producer

There was another time in Detroit history when a bailout was needed. In the mid-1970s, the Big 3 American automakers were humming along in a heyday never to be seen by them again, but the Motor City’s baseball team was old and stinky.

In 1975, they were the worst team in baseball, with 102 losses and a roster filled with many players well past their prime. But along came Mark Fidrych, a 21-year-old goofball lanky kid with a heavy Massachusetts accent, who won over a city in just a few months. And uncommon back then, the athlete morphed into a celebrity, for one brief, albeit magical season.

He made the Tiger regular season roster after only two seasons drafted out of high school, not projected to be much of an impact player immediately. He was making the major league minimum salary at the time, $16,500, probably a player’s weekly per diem these days. One of his minor league coaches called him “The Bird,” as his blond curly locks that protruded from his baseball hat looked a little like the coat of Sesame Street’s “Big Bird.”


April 14th, 2009
01:00 PM ET

Bullied to death?

Program Note: Tune in tonight for Randi Kaye's full report on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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Randi Kaye | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

He was just 11-years-old! That’s what makes this story so incredibly sad.

I’m on my way to Massachusetts today to interview a mother who says her 11-year-old son committed suicide because he was bullied at school. Carl Joseph Walker Hoover was a sixth grader at the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts. He started school there last September and his mother, Sirdeaner Walker, says the bullying was endless.

Mrs. Walker says other students told her son, “you look gay” and “you act gay.” She says they made fun of him for the way he dressed and that one student even threatened to kill him.

She  says she called the school every week to try and get her son help. She knew how painful this bullying was for him. Even though she’s a member of the Parent Teacher Organization, she says nobody helped her son.


April 14th, 2009
12:43 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Pres. Obama sees tough choices ahead

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/14/obama.economy/art.obama.econ.cnn.jpg caption="President Obama on Tuesday says economic improvements don't mean that tough times are over."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

President Obama today outlined his administration's ongoing efforts to restart the economy and warned that tough times and decisions lie ahead.

Obama pointed to more job losses and foreclosures as well as difficult or unpopular choices when it comes to restructuring Detroit’s auto industry and insurance giant AIG.

He also offered a strong defense of the government’s actions to prop up struggling banks and clean their books of toxic assets, saying that “one dollar of capital in a bank can actually result in $8 or $10 of loans to families and businesses...”

Separately, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says he sees "tentative signs" that the economy's dramatic decline is easing, but that full recovery won't come until the financial system is stabilized.

"Recently we have seen tentative signs that the sharp decline in economic activity may be slowing," Bernanke said in prepared remarks for a speech he is set to give this afternoon in Atlanta.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Wall St.
April 14th, 2009
12:37 PM ET

The pirate whisperer

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/10/somalia.ship.crew.member/art.alva.maersk.jpg caption="Pirates hijacked the American ship Maersk Alabama last week."]
Shaun Assael
The Daily Beast

Somali pirates were just paid $3.5 million—the largest ransom ever—for the release of a ship off East Africa. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Beast, negotiator Andrew Mwangura reveals the secrets of the murderers he does business with.

Andrew Mwangura has the underground world of African piracy wired. Somali pirates trust him. Warlords respect him. And human-rights activists admire him for putting his neck on the line to keep sailors safe on the lawless high seas. “Andrew gets vital first-hand intelligence,” says Cyrus Mody, who runs the London-based Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce. “If a ship is running low on food or there’s been some disaster, he often knows about it first.”

Unfortunately for Mwangura, an ex-journalist who lives in a shack without running water on the beach in Mombasa, the Kenyan government doesn’t see him as a hero. On February 4, prosecutors put the 45-year-old Mwangura on trial for exposing the secret of a Ukrainian freighter that was hijacked last fall while carrying $30 million in Russian arms. Although the shipment was part of a secret, back-channel deal to arm Sudan in violation of a United Nations arms embargo, Mwangura is the one accused of breaking the law. The government has charged him with releasing “alarming information.” Says the activist, “They have no evidence. What I said was the truth.”


Filed under: 360º Follow • Pirates
April 14th, 2009
12:07 PM ET

New Cuba rules send important signal

The Miami Herald

Considering the hoopla that preceded it, President Barack Obama's decision to relax the rules governing travel and cash transfers to Cuba might seem to some like a daring new policy initiatIve - but it isn't. Mr. Obama is making a marginal change in U.S. policy to signal that he is open to fundamental revision, but only if the Cuban government reciprocates - and that has always been the real stumbling block.

Policy reverts

Mr. Obama's action is a commendable step, to be sure, but it needs to be put in perspective. In removing travel and gift restrictions for Cuban Americans, the president is reverting to rules that prevailed before a change imposed by President Bill Clinton. That came after the Cuban Air Force, in a cowardly act, shot down two unarmed Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996, killing four innocent men. President George W. Bush tightened the restrictions after Fidel Castro cracked down on dissidents in 2003, sending scores into prisons where most still remain.


Filed under: Cuba • Global 360° • President Barack Obama
April 14th, 2009
11:14 AM ET

Thomas Jefferson in today's headlines

Editor's note: Annette Gordon-Reed won the 2008 National Book Award for "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family." A law professor at New York Law School and a history professor at Rutgers University, she will speak at the dedication of a new visitors center Wednesday at Monticello.
Annette Gordon-Reed
Special to CNN

Does the legacy of Thomas Jefferson speak to Americans today? Or perhaps we should ask about Jefferson's legacies, for there are many. His fingerprints are everywhere.

Politics, government, race, slavery - our third president's life and words touch on so many aspects of the nation's journey from rebellious colony to world superpower that it is impossible to understand the country's history without dealing with him in some fashion.

Even today, Jefferson's name is regularly invoked in the news - the latest example being writers harking back to the forceful action he took against the Barbary pirates 200 years ago.


Filed under: Thomas Jefferson
April 14th, 2009
10:52 AM ET

Immigrant children – the new America

Program note: Tune in tonight for more on this story on AC 360° at 10 p.m. ET.
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Jeffrey S. Passel and D'Vera Cohn
Pew Hispanic Center

Unauthorized immigrants living in the United States are more geographically dispersed than in the past and are more likely than either U.S. born residents or legal immigrants to live in a household with a spouse and children. In addition, a growing share of the children of unauthorized immigrant parents–73%–were born in this country and are U.S. citizens.

These are among the key findings of a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, which builds on previous work estimating the size and growth of the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population. A 2008 report by the Center estimated that 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the United States; it concluded that the undocumented immigrant population grew rapidly from 1990 to 2006 but has since stabilized. In this new analysis, the Center estimates that the rapid growth of unauthorized immigrant workers also has halted; it finds that there were 8.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force in March 2008.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Immigration • Race in America
April 14th, 2009
10:46 AM ET

Morning Buzz: What's in the Pig Book might surprise you

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/14/somalia.pirates/art.kenya.afp.gi.jpg caption="A Kenyan police officer guards the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama at a Mombasa port Sunday."]

Penny Manis
AC360° Senior Producer

Captain Richard Phillips is making his way to Kenya this morning where he will reunite with his crew. The 20 Americans will then fly home together to our side of the pond.

The rescue of Captain Phillips by Navy Seal sharp-shooters was a dramatic and highly-coordinated effort. Joe Johns headed out to a firing range with a former Navy Seal who now trains others in the military in sniper tactics to offer insight on this training. Be sure to tune in for this report.

Somali pirates have hijacked 3 more ships in the Gulf of Aden, non-American vessels, and this nighttime attack is raising fears that pirates are spending megabucks from ransom money on more advanced weaponry. We’ll have more tonight.


Filed under: Penny Manis • The Buzz
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