May 29th, 2009
02:53 PM ET

Protect yourself: Make sure check scams don’t scam you!

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

A few months ago, I posted a blog on this site about how to protect yourself from counterfeit check scams. I track this kind of thing. I get security alerts from the FDIC about these check scams. The reason I posted that article was because I got seven alerts in one day, an all-time record.

Today, that record was broken. I got alerts about 11 counterfeit check scams, all over the country. And, last week, I received another six. Check out the full list at the end of this article.

Make sure you check out a detailed a series of tips you should take to protect yourself.

Here are five that are most important:


Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • David Gewirtz • Finance
May 29th, 2009
11:56 AM ET

Can good people become evil?

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What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions posed in a 1971 simulation of prison life conducted in the summer of 1971 at Stanford University.

The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Twenty-four undergraduates were selected out of 70 to play the roles of both guards and prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Those selected were chosen for their lack of psychological issues, crime history, and medical disabilities, in order to obtain a representative sample. Roles were assigned based on a coin toss.

Take a look at the Stanford Prison Experiment web site, which features an extensive slide show and information about this classic psychology experiment, including parallels with the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Torture
May 29th, 2009
11:29 AM ET

No one represents America's center

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John Feehery
Special to CNN

There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." - Jim Hightower

"Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides." - Margaret Thatcher

Despite these warnings from the left and the right, increasingly, the American people are viewing themselves as centrists.

According to the Pew Research Group, fully 39 percent of the American people identify themselves as political independents, the highest percentage in 70 years.

As Andrew Kohut of Pew put it, "Centrism has emerged as a dominant factor in public opinion as the Obama era begins. ... Republicans and Democrats are even more divided than in the past, while the growing political middle is steadfastly mixed in its beliefs about government, the free market and other values that underlie views on contemporary issues and policies."


Filed under: 360° Radar • John Feehery
May 29th, 2009
11:25 AM ET

Sonia Sotomayor and the case against coconuts

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Rachel Campos-Duffy
AC360° Contributor

When I was a young co-ed at Arizona State University, my sister was the president of the College Republicans. I was her secretary. As the daughters of a Catholic, Reagan democrat, military man, our party affiliation was not all that surprising. However, the fact that our father also happened to be Mexican-American, was the source of much consternation among ASU’s race-based campus crowd.

When we manned our Republican recruitment booth by the Memorial Union or attended events with conservative speakers, our liberal (and largely Hispanic) detractors called us “coconuts” – you know, brown on the outside, white on the inside. Never mind that many of the Mecha and La Raza students who were doing the name-calling couldn’t speak a lick of Spanish (my sister and I have near native command of the language), or that their understanding of Mexican culture was limited to Taco Bell and low-rider vehicles (which they displayed on the main campus lawn in honor of Hispanic "Cultural" Awareness Week).

For conservative minorities, especially conservative minority women, Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination and the warnings from the left not to “bully” her are a reminder of the double standard with which we live out our social and political lives. The recognition that there are two separate rulebooks for minorities: one for liberals and one for conservatives. In the liberal rulebook, whites must be sensitive and considerate of a minority’s life story and the unique obstacles he or she faced and/or overcame. In the conservative rulebook, well, there really is no rulebook because there are no rules. It’s always open season on conservative minorities.


May 29th, 2009
11:15 AM ET

New details about Bonnie and Clyde


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/29/art.vert.bonnieclyde.jpg caption="Portrait of American bank robbers and lovers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, popularly known as Bonnie and Clyde, circa 1933." width=292 height=320]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

They were killers and lovers. And now, 75 years after Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow's murderous crime spree ended in a barrage of police bullets, new details about their years on the run are being made public for the first time.

The files are coming from the FBI. And it is a treasure trove of information on the duo who committed bank robberies across America and left more than a dozen people dead.

The documents, available on the FBI's web site, contain previously classified memos on Bonnie & Clyde. The typewritten pages were prepared by the agency's Dallas Field Office from the 1930s. They offer a fascinating glimpse of the pursuit of the young couple and their cohorts.

Another memo summarizes the last day of Bonnie & Clyde's life, revealing how a posse of police officers and federal agents planned the ambush that killed the pair on a dirt road in Louisiana.

There is more.

The files also contain photographs, newspaper clippings, Clyde Barrow's signatures, and more official records from the investigation.

Long before Hollywood immortalized and, some would say, glamorized their crime wave, Bonnie & Clyde were real people, responsible for ruthless acts of violence.

With the release of these files, maybe the entire story of what they did is finally being told.

Click here to view the documents.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
May 29th, 2009
11:14 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Are you Laodicean?

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Penny Manis
AC360° Senior Producer

President Obama will announce the creation of a “cyber czar” to oversee the protection of our nation’s computer infrastructure. This person would coordinate the effort to protect government and private computer systems from hackers, criminal gangs, terrorists and spies.

The Department of Homeland Security says attacks on government and private computer networks went from approximately 4,000 four years ago, to more than 72,000 attacks last year. That's quite an increase-wow! We are thinking of booking a guest segment on the real threat to our nation’s computers and make sense of these numbers-stay tuned!

It’s another day, and another missile test in North Korea. Kim Jong Il’s regime has test fired a short-range missile from its east coast not too long ago-it’s the 6th test this week. This latest saber-rattling comes as a high-level US delegation heads to Asia, while the communist regime promises “self defense” if “provoked” by the United Nations.


Filed under: Penny Manis • The Buzz
May 29th, 2009
11:11 AM ET

Inflating the Guantanamo Threat

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Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from Peter Bergen on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann
For The New York Times

Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul and Said Ali al-Shihri may be the two best arguments for why releasing detainees from Guantánamo Bay poses a real risk to America. Mr. Rasoul, who was transferred to Afghanistan in 2007 and then released by the Kabul government, is now the commander of operations for the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. Mr. Shihri, sent back to his native Saudi Arabia in 2007, is now a leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

Are these two men exceptional cases, or are they emblematic of a much larger problem of dangerous terrorists who, if released, will “return to the battlefield”? To help answer that question, a Pentagon report made public on Tuesday concluded that 74 of the 534 men who have been freed from Guantánamo were “confirmed or suspected of re-engaging in terrorist activities.” This is a recidivism rate of around 14 percent, which was up from the Pentagon’s previous estimate in January of 11 percent.

But are things this bad? While we must of course be careful about who is released, these numbers are very likely inflated. This is in part because the Pentagon includes on the list any released prisoner who is either “confirmed” or just “suspected” to have engaged in terrorism anywhere in the world, whether those actions were directed at the United States or not. And, bizarrely, the Defense Department has in the past even lumped into the recidivist category former prisoners who have done no more than criticize the United States after their release.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Guantanomo Bay • Peter Bergen
May 29th, 2009
11:03 AM ET

Top Republican calls Limbaugh, Gingrich comments 'terrible'

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Alexander Mooney
CNN Ticker Producer

A top Senate Republican is taking aim at recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich suggesting Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NPR's "All Things Considered" Thursday. "This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent.”

Both the popular radio host and former GOP House Speaker have suggested Obama's pick for the high court is a racist while referencing a 2001 speech at Berkeley during which Sotomayor said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

"Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman.' new racism is no better than old racism," Gingrich wrote on Twitter Wednesday.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor
May 29th, 2009
10:55 AM ET

Bush: 'The information we got saved lives'

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Peter Hamby
CNN Political Producer

Former President George W. Bush on Thursday repeated Dick Cheney's assertion that their enhanced interrogation program was legal and garnered valuable information that prevented future terrorist attacks.

In his largest domestic speech since leaving the White House in January, Bush told an audience in southwestern Michigan that after the September 11 attacks, "I vowed to take whatever steps that were necessary to protect you."

Although he did not specifically allude to the high-profile debate over President Obama's decision to halt the use harsh interrogation techniques, and without referencing Cheney by name, Bush spoke in broad strokes about how he proceeded after the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in March 2003.


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