May 7th, 2009
05:07 PM ET

Beat 360° 5/7/09

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa are seen on the set of Live With Regis and Kelly on May 7, 2009 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

UPDATE: Check out our Beat 360° Winners!

__________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
May 7th, 2009
04:50 PM ET

What’s fueling Chicago’s violence?

Program Note: Tune in tonight to watch  Sudhir Venkatesh talk to Anderson about the violence in Chicago on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET

Johnel Ford was shot and killed on Feb. 12, 2009. He was 16.

Johnel Ford was shot and killed on Feb. 12, 2009. He was 16.

Sudhir Venkatesh
Columbia University

Chicago has experienced a rise in youth violence, particularly in its inner-city neighborhoods. There have already been 36 school students who have been killed so far this year, which is troubling, and many young people have been hurt in the shootings.

One factor causing the violence is the large-scale demolition of the city’s public housing developments. When the “projects” were torn down, over 20,000 families were sent to other neighborhoods. This means that over 100,000 poor people had to find a new place to live. Nearly 90 percent ended up moving to other poor neighborhoods in Chicago that were as crime-ridden as the projects. This also meant that the kids had to cross gang boundaries. It is not an accident that youth violence is occurring in and around Chicago schools because gangs spend a lot of time recruiting in school areas. The youth who ended up in new schools were assumed to represent an enemy gang, even if they had no gang membership.

The situation has become explosive.


May 7th, 2009
03:06 PM ET

What's on Obama's chopping block?

Jennifer Liberto
CNNMoney.com Senior Writer

Even on the campaign trail last year, President Obama pledged to cull waste from the budget. On Thursday, he pulled back the curtain on his plans.

All told, Obama put 121 government initiatives in the cross hairs for reductions. Dozens of them face outright elimination.

"Some programs may have made sense in the past - but are no longer needed in the present," President Obama said. "Other programs never made any sense; the end result of a special interest's successful lobbying campaign."

Congress still has to sign off on the president's proposed cuts, and already some lawmakers were crying foul.

But Obama got the process started. Here are ten programs or grants that could be ended or cut back because the administration considers them obsolete, duplicative or a waste of money.

Alaska job training: Program is "duplicative" because state receives other types of funding for job training. Savings: $3 million.

Cotton storage: Cotton is the only agriculture crop whose farmers get paid to store until prices rise. Savings: $52 million.

Close-Up fellowships: "Noncompetitive" grants used to bring thousands of students and teachers to Washington, D.C., for a week of political and government education. Savings: $2 million

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Economy • Finance • President Barack Obama
May 7th, 2009
02:53 PM ET

Geithner: How We Tested the Big Banks

Editor's Note: Go here to see the 'Stress Test' results.

Timothy Geithner
For The New York Times

This afternoon, Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve will announce the results of an unprecedented review of the capital position of the nation’s largest banks. This will be an important step forward in President Obama’s program to help repair the financial system, restore the flow of credit and put our nation on the path to economic recovery.

The president came into office facing a deep recession and a damaged financial system. Credit had dried up, forcing businesses to lay off workers and defer investment. Families were finding it difficult to borrow to finance a new house, buy a car or pay college tuition. Without action to restore lending, we faced the prospect of a much deeper and longer recession.

President Obama confronted these problems with dramatic action to address the housing crisis and to restart credit markets that are responsible for roughly half of all business and consumer lending. The administration also initiated a program to provide a market for legacy loans and securities to help cleanse bank balance sheets. These programs are helping to repair lending channels that do not rely on banks, and will contribute to fixing the banking system itself.


May 7th, 2009
02:29 PM ET

Who's on the FBI's Terrorist Watch List?

Program Note: To hear more about the report tune in tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

The FBI released the Inspector General's report that lays out how people are put on the Terrorist Watch List.

You can read the report here and see Drew Griffin's report tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Terrorism
May 7th, 2009
02:27 PM ET

Help free the innocent

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

Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.

Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Last night was a big night for the Innocence Project. The once fledgling organization founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld in 1992 has used DNA analysis to secure helf free 237 people. In the process they have systematically identified the causes of, and remedies for wrongful conviction. More than that, they have started a movement across the country, with innocence projects cropping up nationwide.

Last night was a celebration of all they have accomplished, with celebrities like John Grisham and Brook Shields coming out for the cause. Even more meaningful, twelve men and women told their horrific stories of wrongful conviction and bittersweet tales of fighting for, and ultimately winning their freedom.

There were more than 600 people in the room, all supporting the mission. But it’s not enough.


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
May 7th, 2009
01:41 PM ET

Killer targeting Jewish students?


Surveillance video at Wesleyan University bookstore captures gunman who killed student Johanna Justin-Jinich.

Surveillance video at Wesleyan University bookstore captures gunman who killed student Johanna Justin-Jinich.
Wesleyan student Johanna Justin-Jinich was killed in a Wesleyan University bookstore on Wednesday.

Wesleyan student Johanna Justin-Jinich was killed in a Wesleyan University bookstore on Wednesday.

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

The image is clear and chilling. On the frame from a surveillance tape, we see a bearded man in glasses. He has receding hair and appears to be wearing dark clothing. There is also no doubt what he is holding in his hand: a gun. And police say that gun was used to kill a popular student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, which right now is on lockdown.

The victim’s name is Johanna Justin-Junich. The 22-year-old junior was working at the Red and Black Café in Middletown Wednesday when the suspect, 29-year-old Stephen Morgan, allegedly opened fire. Detectives say Morgan used a wig as a disguise and shot Justin-Junich several times at close range before fleeing. A massive manhunt is underway to find Morgan.

News of the homicide quickly reached the campus. The university’s web site continues to provide updates on the investigation while urging students and faculty members to be vigilant.

This notice was posted Thursday morning:


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
May 7th, 2009
01:29 PM ET

Weeding the budget of $17 billion


President Obama on Thursday offered a more detailed look at his 2010 budget proposal, which includes recommendations to cut funding for 121 federal programs and save $17 billion in 2010.

"There is a lot of money being spent inefficiently, ineffectively, and - in some cases - in ways that are actually pretty stunning," Obama said.

The $17 billion in savings amounts to roughly 0.5% of the more than $3.5 trillion in spending approved for next year, or 1.2% of the projected $1.4 trillion deficit next year if the president's overall budget is adopted.

The main new budget document is now online. It lists the programs being terminated and other cutbacks, program reductions and savings.

Take a look here.

Filed under: Economy • President Barack Obama
May 7th, 2009
01:16 PM ET

Blackwater's lower profile

Heavily armed Blackwater guards scan downtown Baghdad, Iraq, from a helicopter in 2003.

Heavily armed Blackwater guards scan downtown Baghdad, Iraq, from a helicopter in 2003.

Suzanne Kelly Simons
CNN Executive Producer, Author

It's a significant end to operations in Iraq for one of the war's most controversial private security providers. Blackwater (renamed "Xe" earlier this year) is handing over responsibility for its part of a highly-lucrative security contract to another company, Triple Canopy, though Xe won't be entirely leaving Iraq just yet.

The exodus from Iraq follows a deadly shooting in a Baghdad traffic circle in September 2007. More than a dozen Iraqis were killed, and five former Blackwater contractors were charged in the United States with manslaughter. All five have pled not guilty, a sixth has pled guilty and is cooperating with investigators.

An outraged Iraqi government demanded that the company be kicked out after the shooting, but U.S. officials were able to convince them that that couldn't happen right away, arguing Washington relied heavily on the company to keep its diplomats alive, and it would take time to find a replacement to absorb the added work. But even this handover is not quite the end of all of Xe's operations in the country. Xe will continue to service an avionics task order that provides security and aviation support for diplomats. The small army of planes and helicopters it leases to the State Department offers aerial support if ground teams come under fire. But even that work is expected to evaporate once a replacement is chosen. There are only two other companies eligible to bid for that work, Triple Canopy and DynCorp and their bids were due to the government this week.

Back in the U.S., the loss of the Iraq portion of the State Department contract has had a huge impact on the North-Carolina based company. Several top executives have left, there has been a significant downsizing in the number of employees overall. The company's President Gary Jackson has stepped down and owner Erik Prince has stepped away from day to day operations. In public statements, the company has said that it always knew this part of its business would come to an end someday. Under its new name, the company will continue to provide training for military and law enforcement clients.

Many of the individual Blackwater/Xe contractors working in Iraq may not have to pack up and head home though. Triple Canopy is expected to hire many them on in order to fulfill the large number of trained bodies the contract requires.

Editor’s Note: Suzanne Simons is author of “Master of war: Blackwater’s Erik Prince and the Global Business of War.” (Collins/Harpercollins June, 2009)

Filed under: 360° Radar • Suzanne Simons
May 7th, 2009
12:51 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: ‘Stress tests’ results due & GM posts $6B loss

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Today we find out just how safe our banking system really is.

But the results of the so-called "stress tests," due out at 5:00 p.m. ET after the stock market closes, may not offer any stunning revelations. That’s because the results may be the worst-kept secret of all time - there have been numerous leaks in recent days regarding the results of the tests.

Reports say that Bank of America may need roughly $34 billion in capital to weather a more painful economic environment. Wells Fargo and Citigroup have also been frequently mentioned as two institutions in need of capital.

Other institutions, namely American Express, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and MetLife, are believed to be in good shape.

As for the banks that need to raise more capital, they’ll have a month to present regulators with a fundraising plan and six months to raise the funds.

And some heads may roll.

Banks will have to review their management and board within a month, "to assure that the leadership of the firm has sufficient expertise and ability to manage the risks presented by the current economic environment," regulators said in a statement. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs indicated Wednesday that the government might lean on companies whose boards and managers aren't seen as up to snuff.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • auto bailout • Economy • Finance • Unemployment • Wall St.
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