May 25th, 2009
08:04 PM ET

Decision day in California

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Joneil Adriano
AC360° Producer

On Tuesday, the eyes of the nation will be watching California, during what is being billed as the "Day of Decision" by marriage equality activists all across the land. Why? Because the California Supreme Court is expected to issue its highly anticipated ruling on whether or not Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative which amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage, should be upheld or invalidated.

After the oral arguments in March, many court watchers predicted that the Supreme Court would respect the will of the voters and allow Prop. 8 to stand. If that is indeed the case, those who support same-sex marriage will hold protests across the country. If the justices surprise everyone by overturning it, those protests will become celebrations.

For those on both sides of the issue, the stakes are high. For one thing, there are an estimated 20,000 gay couples who are, for now, legally married in the state. Will the court allow those marriages to continue, or will they be forcibly annulled?


May 25th, 2009
07:22 PM ET

The decline of veterans in Washington

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Gerald F. Seib
Capitol Journal, Wall Street Journal

The long Memorial Day weekend may be as good a time as any to ponder the question of whether the gap is widening between those who serve in the military and those in the political sector who help determine what the military does.

Certainly the number of Washington decision-makers with military experience continues to decline. In its profile of the Congress that convened at the beginning of the year, the Congressional Research Service notes that it continues a long-term slide in the number of lawmakers in Washington who have served in the military:

“In the 111th Congress there are 121 Members who have served in the military, five less than in the 110th Congress. The House has 96 veterans (including two Delegates); the Senate 25. These Members served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War,Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, as well as during times of peace. Some have served in the Reserves and the National Guard. Several Members are still serving as Reservists. As noted above, one Senator is a former Secretary of the Navy.

“The number of veterans in the 111th Congress reflects the trend of a steady decline in the number of Members who have served in the military. For example, there were 298 veterans (240 Representatives, 58 Senators) in the 96th Congress (1979-1981); and 398 veterans (329 Representatives, 69 Senators) in the 91st Congress (1969-1971).”

In addition, the current president isn’t a veteran. His national security adviser and his defense secretary are, but most of his top advisers aren’t. And it’s certainly a safe bet that veterans are a distinct minority among the Washington press corps.

The question of military service at least seems more relevant at a time when U.S. forces are active in Iraq, Afghanistan and, to some extent, Pakistan. But does it really matter? Would policies be any different if the percentage of veterans in Congress were higher? The U.S. lurched into the Vietnam War when the percentage of veterans in Congress was far higher than it is today, but was that a factor in any way?


Filed under: Memorial Day • Military • Veterans
May 25th, 2009
05:03 PM ET

What if someone stole the Library of Congress?

Editor's Note: Last week, The National Archives - a repository of important government documents, including the U.S. Constitution - announced it had lost a computer hard drive containing large volumes of Clinton administration records, including the names, phone numbers and Social Security numbers of White House staff members and visitors.  Officials at the Archives say they don't know how many confidential records are on the hard drive. But congressional aides briefed on the matter say it contains "more than 100,000" Social Security numbers and Secret Service and White House operating procedures. David Gewirtz tells us why we should be concerned.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/20/lost.hard.drive.clinton/art.clinton.white.house.gi.jpg caption="The National Archives has lost a hard drive containing large volumes of Clinton administration records."]

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Publishing

What if thieves broke into the Library of Congress one night and stole 10 percent of all its books? I'm not saying that happened, but it'd be a pretty big theft, wouldn't it? The Library of Congress houses one of almost every book ever published, so if someone broke in and stole one out ten, that'd be a lot of books to haul away.

But what if someone just stole a $250, five-pound hard drive, the size of half a box of Wheaties from the National Archives? Everyone needs more storage space these days and a nice, 2 terabyte hard drive sitting on a table might have been a juicy target for someone walking by - a janitor, an IT tech, a secretary. It's small and easy to walk off with, stick it in a book bag, a lunch bag, or even a trash bag.

It's not really a big deal, is it? So, somebody stole a hard drive. Happens all the time, right?

Well, it does. People steal things and hard drives are nice. After all, there's a limit to how many YouTube videos of farts lit on fire you can store on your own computer without some extra storage space. But when the drive that goes missing contains hundreds of thousands of records of private citizens' personally identifiable data such as social security numbers, as well as security procedures at the White House, it might be a bit more serious. That's what happened last week.

But that's not even the real issue. The real issue is just how much data is stored on these teeny-weenie devices and how much information might get into the wrong hands if one is purchased with the five-finger discount.


Filed under: 360° Radar • David Gewirtz • Technology
May 25th, 2009
03:55 PM ET

Video: North Korea 'a great threat'

President Obama urges the world to take action in response to North Korea's claimed missile test.

May 25th, 2009
10:32 AM ET

World outraged by North Korea's latest nuke test

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/24/nkorea.nuclear/art.kim.afp.gi.jpg caption="This screen grab from North Korean television on April 9 shows leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang."]


The U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting Monday after world leaders reacted with outrage to North Korea's latest nuclear test.

North Korea earlier said it had tested the weapon in an underground explosion, provoking an angry response from the world's governments.

It had threatened to conduct the test if the U.N. Security Council did not apologize for imposing sanctions on North Korea after it tested a rocket April 5.

The secretive communist state also apparently test-fired a short-range missile Monday, the White House said.

The Security Council called on its members to discuss the reported test Monday at 4 p.m. ET.
The United States and many other countries denounced the test. Even China, North Korea's strongest ally, said it opposed the test.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • North Korea
May 25th, 2009
09:49 AM ET

Dear President Obama #126: My memory wall

Reporter's Note: The President of the United States says he would like for Americans to write to him with advice on how to run the country. I’ve got the day off, so what the heck.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

My mother and I were talking on the phone the other day, and she told me about something she saw near her home in Alabama. She was driving through a nearby town, and as she rounded a corner near the only traffic light, she saw a woman standing in the rain, pushing little white crosses and flags into the sod to create a makeshift memorial to our nation’s fallen troops. It did not seem to be any kind of organized effort, or the work of some official group; just the private respect of a private citizen for those who served her country in a time of war.

“I wish someone from the media had been there to take a picture,” she told me, and I had to agree for two reasons. One, because she is my mother and disagreeing with her has seldom worked out well. And two, because I often think such little acts of remembrance touch people more than the largest parades.

Above my desk at work I have a group of photographs tacked to the wall. They are pictures of some of our troops who died in Iraq; troops I featured in a series of documentaries I put together on the war. Some of the pictures are on photo paper; most of them are simply printed on copy paper from my computer. As the months have gone by since I aired those documentaries, the pictures have all curled at the edges, and grown dusty, and every few weeks I think that maybe I should finally take them down.


May 25th, 2009
08:44 AM ET

The Shot: Shanghai car tantrum

A woman throws a tantrum in a car dealership. Find out if her male companion buys her the car.

Filed under: T1 • The Shot
May 25th, 2009
07:27 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 5/22/09

Editor's Note: After Friday night's AC360, many of you commented on the First Ladies segment, saying that first ladies have always been influential but it’s the 24/7 news cycle that now makes the world more informed about them. What do you think?

On your show tonight someone was saying First Ladies are becoming more influential. I think they have always been influential, some- of course- more than others, but what has changed is the news coverage. Only in the last few decades has news coverage been 24/7. It began with the Queen's coronation, picked up speed with Charles and Diana's wedding and kept going from there. I don't know my history very well, but consider Eleanor Roosevelt. She was certainly a strong figure. I think Martha, older than George?, was a great influence on him. And wasn't it Abigail Adams- before women could vote, who whispered to her husband, "Don't forget the ladies." Also, First Ladies get to choose their projects. Presidents don't. Hillary Clinton was certainly an active and involved partner. Those are just a few, but wives can be very influential in many ways. Lincoln's wife's depressions often spurred him on, i believe. Just a thought....

Filed under: Behind The Scenes