May 11th, 2009
10:45 AM ET

In Pakistan – where's the evidence?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/09/pakistan.swat.taliban.fighting/art.pakistanfight.jpg caption="Pakistan has launched a massive military operation against the Taliban in the Swat Valley. "]

Samson Desta
CNN Bureau Chief

The Pakistani government says it has launched a major military campaign against the Taliban, killing 700 militants since it launched the campaign last week.

One key question now is whether the government and military are serious enough and have the ability to oust the militants that have taken over much of this country, breached a peace agreement and pushed within 60 miles of the capital.

And with estimates that almost 400,000 Pakistanis are fleeing the homes to avoid being caught in the fighting, another key question is whether the government can resolve the unfolding humanitarian crisis. It has promised to provide aid, but will it and how fast?

This is "a decisive moment," the prime minister himself said.

The government and military, long focused on the constant potential for conventional war with Indian, have been accused of being slow to respond to the insurgent threat from the Taliban.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Pakistan • Taliban
May 11th, 2009
10:32 AM ET

Video: Comedian in Chief

President Obama and comedian Wanda Sykes stir up some laughs at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

May 11th, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Health care reform, Cheney still in the spotlight

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/09/art.whitehouse.jpg]

Jill Billante
AC360° Senior Producer

Good Morning everyone. There’s quite a bit cooking this Monday morning, so let’s get started.

The president will be talking about health care reform today. During the campaign, of course, the president talked about providing health care for everyone in the United States. Health care reform was to be a top priority for his administration.

The cost of his grand plan seems to be the biggest stumbling block. The 10-year plan would save American families $2,500 in the fifth year and 2 trillion dollars over 10 years for the nation.

Interestingly enough, industry representatives and a labor union are behind this plan. Should industry groups be writing health care reform legislation?

What do you think about health care reform in this country?

Elsewhere in Washington, former VP Dick Cheney manages to stay in the spotlight. He says now that he would follow Rush Limbaugh instead of Colin Powell as GOP leader. Not much of a surprise there considering the alleged bad blood between the two, but it does give us another look inside a GOP party in disarray. The DNC has taken this opportunity to launch a new ad campaign slamming the Republicans.

What was that promise about bringing bipartisanship back to Washington? Seems not everyone got the message.

And, this week the Senate is set to vote on a credit card bill of rights and the president is set to hold a town hall on the topic this Thursday. Joe Johns is planning to dig into credit cards for us tonight. He’ll be keeping them honest. Credit card companies received bailout money from the very people they still charge with outrageous fees and interest rates. Some say the interest rates they charge are tantamount to loan-sharking. We’ll have that tonight as well.

Filed under: Jill Billante • The Buzz
May 11th, 2009
09:41 AM ET

Graduation celebration turns fatal


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/11/art.vert.crime.jason.jpg caption="Javon Jackson, 23, was shot and died off campus while celebrating his graduation from the University of Buffalo." width=292 height=320]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Javon R. Jackson graduated from college on Saturday. Police say he was murdered on Sunday.

Hours before he was gunned down, the 23-year-old received a Bachelor’s Degree at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He majored in electrical engineering. The school says he was also a member of the Order of the Engineer, a national engineering ethics society.

According to police and published reports, Jackson was celebrating his graduation in the early hours of Sunday morning. He and the others were near the campus, on Main Street near Highgate Avenue at 3:15 a.m. when four men approached the group. One of the men opened fire, fatally wounding Jackson.

The killer shot his victim in the back before fleeing the scene. Authorities are asking for help in finding the assailant.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
May 11th, 2009
09:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #112: Who cares what the stars say?

Reporter's Note: The President says we should send him suggestions. People tend to write public figures more with complaints than compliments, so asking for ideas is a nice alternative. I’m writing a letter every day.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/10/obama.correspondents.dinner.jokes/art.obamadinner.gi.jpg caption="President Obama delivers some one-liners at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

It certainly looks like you enjoyed the big White House Correspondents’ dinner, and I had a pretty good time myself. I appreciate you not giving me a personal hello during your speech, because we both know how jealous that would have made the rest of the media crowd. Especially Ed Henry. (I once saw him blow a gasket because Larry King got his salad first.) Anyway, it was by far the most packed dinner I’ve attended, and there were so many celebrities you would have thought a case of free Oscars was being dumped at the loading ramp.

And interestingly, that’s the biggest question I’ve heard from family and friends since Saturday night: What the heck were all those actors and actresses doing there?

I don’t begrudge anyone getting involved in politics, and I fully understand the glam crowd’s fascination. Hey, who among us would not like to be able to waltz into the halls of power and be welcomed with open arms? I also understand why the pols like star collecting. Having them around is fun. I chatted with Mariska Hargitay, Jon Bon Jovi, Kyle MacLachlan, Matthew Modine, bumped into (literally) Whoopi Goldberg, and was an arm’s length from Mike Myers, Glenn Close, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas (who, interestingly seemed utterly unfazed as I repeatedly muttered, “Luke, I am your father,”) and as they say in Hollywood “a cast of dozens” more. Like I said, it was a blast.


May 11th, 2009
08:18 AM ET

Stand up for justice for immigrant

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/05/01/pa.immigrant.beating/art.PA.jpg caption="Luis Ramirez died of blunt force injuries after a confrontation with a group of Pennsylvania teens."]

Gladys Limón
Special to CNN

On July 14, 2008, 25-year old Luis Ramirez, a father of two, died after being brutally beaten by a group of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, high school football players who yelled racial epithets throughout the beating.

During the week of April 27, a Schuylkill County jury heard the criminal case against two of the four assailants, Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak, including charges of homicide, ethnic intimidation, aggravated assault and hindering prosecution. The jury heard overwhelming evidence describing how Ramirez was twice knocked to the ground, surrounded, kicked and stomped on by the football players.

According to witnesses, the attack ended after Piekarsky kicked Ramirez in the head as he lay still on the pavement, causing him to convulse and foam at the mouth. Medical experts testified that the kick to the head fractured Ramirez's skull and resulted in such extreme swelling of the brain that his skull could not contain it. Undisputed evidence explained that the assailants met on the following day to fabricate a cover-up story.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Immigration
May 11th, 2009
07:02 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 5/8/09

Editor's Note: Many of you responded to the violence in Chicago segment and the death of Johanna Justin-Jinich by her stalker. Some of you had mixed theories on why the violence is so high in Chicago - from parenting to gun control. Viewers also explained that “The Shot” with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wasn’t him singing to show his lighter side, it was for Victory Day (May 9) which commemorates those who died in WWII and pays tribute to survivors and veterans. What do you think?


I am watching your coverage on the violence in Chicago committed against children, and I want to scream at the top of my lungs to those "Second Amendment" fanatics who have taken that to new level. These things are disproportionately affecting minorities, and mostly poor neighborhoods. I hope the rest of the country takes a strong gun control approach. These are not like knives or other such weapons which cannot cause such wide spread damage in a very short time. I thank you for shedding light from a more analytical perspective rather than treating it just as a "law and order" problem, which it's most certainly not.

RE: the story about killings among young people in Chicago, from projects: Some of these violent children came downstate when their project closed. I had four students (in Sp.Ed.) who were hospitalized long term. These students either threatened me and/or hit myself and aide. This was only one teacher in one school. Other downstate towns had similar problems. Many children have no idea how to resolve conflict. It is good to be attention to this problem.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes
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