May 29th, 2009
09:12 AM ET

Dear President Obama #130: Dispatch from the recovery front

Reporter's Note: President Obama would like advice from his fellow Americans. I, on the other hand, would like another taste of that delicious bread pudding that capped off my most excellent dinner this evening. Absent that, I will continue my quest to write a letter to the White House every day.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

As promised, I am sending this dispatch from New Orleans where, this evening, I moderated a panel on the latest developments in New Orleans East. This is miles from the French Quarter, and the riverfront, and the Garden District, and all those things tourists and conventioneers come to see, and yet it is home to roughly a third of the city’s population; by some estimates 100,000 people or more. That’s as big a Pueblo, Colorado, and let me tell you these folks are doing things.

Elvis said meetings are generally a waste of time with one joker calling the shots, and I tend to agree. But in this case members of the business community were giving citizens progress reports on various things. So we heard about plans for a hospital, protecting and improving power supplies, and the latest efforts to reopen a central mall that sank along with so much else in the storm. We were told about schools, crime fighting, restaurants, supermarkets, on and on it went.

And a lot of it, I must say, was pretty convincing. Not convincing in a “Wow, look at how this part of the city is becoming the garden spot of America,” kind of way. But convincing in a “these people have been up against it for almost four years now, and they are not giving up, they are making progress, and that is impressive” kind of way.


May 29th, 2009
08:59 AM ET

Prop hate

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

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Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

I clerked for the California Supreme Court so I was uniquely disappointed, but not at all surprised, by the decision of the court this week on gay marriage.

The news got drowned out a bit by the announcement of a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court which is ironic because this whole gay marriage thing could end up there eventually. But for this state supreme court, the whole question boiled down to the will of the people.

Now, in my humble opinion, the California initiative process is a cop-out. It relieves state legislators of the responsibility of making the hard decisions they were sent there to make; and, it leaves the public holding the bag that contains the thorny really tough questions.

That being said, the justices were loath to overturn a decision made by a majority (however slim) of voters.

The gay marriage fight in California is far from over, however. Yes, the court ruled to uphold Proposition 8; but the ruling does not mean the justices agree with the sum, substance or mean spirit of the law. Remember, the same court upheld same sex marriage in May, 2008. The difference from May, 2008 and now? One election cycle.

Prop 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote. But that is hardly the end of the story. Change is still coming, it just comes slowly. Iowa, Maine and Vermont have recently legalized same sex marriage. Massachusetts before that. And already advocates in California are planning to take it back to the voters.

So the court’s ruling on Proposition 8 was a big moment in the evolution of the law in this area; but it by no means ends the debate.

Find more In Session blogs here.

Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
May 29th, 2009
08:22 AM ET

The Shot: Spelling Champion

Watch Kavya Shivashankar win this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Filed under: T1 • The Shot
May 29th, 2009
08:19 AM ET

Video: Is taser use justified?

CNN's John King talks with retired law enforcement agent Lou Palumbo about the recent death of a 16-year-old boy.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • John King
May 29th, 2009
07:30 AM ET

Sotomayor – a dissent that might win

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Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Senior Producer

An example of how one court’s old ruling in a case can have current legal and political implications, especially for a Supreme Court nominee.

Judge Sotomayor heard a case in 2000 dealing with child custody disputes and international law. A woman who had sole custody of her daughter Christina took the child from Hong Kong to New York, and the divorced father went to court. He argued a custody order signed at the time of the divorce from Hong Kong prevented removal of the child to another country without his consent.

At issue was whether this custody order—called a “ne exeat clause” to all you lawyers– created a right of custody enforceable under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. In the first time a federal court ruled on this issue, the Second Circuit U-S Court of Appeals concluded the child’s removal was legal, since the father did not possess rights of custody under the international law. The court also said such custody orders are limited since the mother had "custody, care, and control" of the child, and thus the sole right to determine Christina's place of residence.

Sotomayor dissented, saying that the court majority too narrowly interpreted the impact of the custody order, and that such orders constitute a right of custody. The case was Croll v. Croll and the Supreme Court eventually refused to examine the issue, keeping in place the 2nd Circuit opinion.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
May 28th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 05/28/09

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Tonight on 360°, is Mexico losing the war against the drug cartels? This week Mexican police arrested 10 mayors and 17 other officials in a crackdown on corruption. Plus, there was that escape of 53 inmates from a Mexican prison in one of the most daring drug cartel operations in recent times. Fake police officers entered the jail and helped the inmates leave, walking past guards. No questions asked.

Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

And take a look at our live web camera from the 360° studio. Watch the WEBCAM

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
May 28th, 2009
09:35 PM ET

Video: Tour of Swat Valley

The Pakistani military gives journalists a tour of the battlefront in Swat Valley and what the Pakistani military says is a Taliban training camp and bunker. CNN's Ivan Watson reports.

Filed under: Ivan Watson • Pakistan • Taliban
May 28th, 2009
09:29 PM ET

The drug war shifts – people keep dying

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Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

Earlier this week, Mexican government officials announced a major corruption bust. Ten mayors and 17 other officials were arrested, suspected of having ties to one of Mexico’s most violent drug syndicates. It was a shift from what we have seen in Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s war on drug cartels. Until recently, we have seen much of the war fought by military force and beefed up police forces, but little done on the actual corruption of many in local governments who are rumored to be bought off by Mexican Drug cartels.

Yet, despite the military force in border towns and arrests of government officials, people continue to die. In one sad case, an innocent, promising 15-year-old girl was killed.

Tania Lozoya was shot dead in Juarez, Mexico earlier this month. She wasn’t over the border partying, she wasn’t doing anything she wasn’t supposed to be doing. She was not involved with the drug cartels. She was with family celebrating a cousin’s baptism when a gun battle broke out between suspected drug traffickers near the party. A stray bullet hit Lozoya in the neck and she was killed.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Ismael Estrada • Mexico
May 28th, 2009
09:05 PM ET

Pakistan in chaos?

Editor's Note: Pakistan looked like it might be descending into chaos over the past 48 hours. Several bombs went off in two major cities on Thursday, just hours after the Taliban warned people to flee. That's on top of attacks in another city the day before that killed more than two dozen people. All this despite - or because - the Pakistan army launched an offensive to push militants back from the capital. Is Pakistan - a nuclear power and key U.S. ally, with an army long focused on India, not on an insurgency - in imminent danger? We spoke with CNN's Reza Sayah, in Islamabad.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/28/pakistan.peshawar.blast/art.lahore.amath.afp.gi.jpg caption="Pakistanis look Thursday at the rubble of a police building in Lahore hit by a suicide bomb on Wednesday."]

1. Reza, what is the latest.. is Pakistan's stability deteriorating?

A: Taliban becoming more daring..and dangerous.. stepping up bombings of govt buildings..of civilian targets.. in key cities that were thought to be under control.. showing how much power and control they wield by threatening bombings, and carrying them out, with the government or military unable to stop them

2. It wasn't supposed to be this way, right? Pakistan launched a major offensive against the Taliban, and push them back from the capitol. Isn't it working?

A: The Pakistan military did attack the Taliban in the Swat Valley, northeast of Islamabad. The problem is the Taliban isn't a conventional military.. they don't wear uniforms.. they look like civilians.. so it's not clear who the enemy is.. So the army has just swept hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.. setting off a massive refugee crisis.. the army SAYS it has killed 1200 militants and captured more.. but if you look at the pictures, you can't tell who those people are.. there's no proof they're Taliban..


Filed under: 360° Radar • Pakistan • Reza Sayah • Taliban
May 28th, 2009
08:30 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Kissing Convert

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Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on AC360°, a change of faith. Father Alberto Cutié, the Florida Catholic priest who admitted to an affair and breaking his vow of celibacy, is joining the Episcopal church to be with the woman he loves.

Cutié made that announcement at a news conference today with his fiancé by his side.

"I will always love and hold dear the Roman Catholic Church and all its members who are committed to their faith and have enriched my life. I have decided to become part of this new spiritual family of the Episcopal church one with in many in the umbrella of Christianity as I have been saying and writing for years instead of focusing on our differences lets work together so that all may come to believe in the loving and good God even in the midst of this changing world," he said.

He also talked about the photos that surfaced of him with his now fiancé that sparked the scandal.

"Through the photos, it looked like a frivolous thing on the beach, you know, and that's not what it is. It's something deeper than that."

The Episcopal Bishop of Southeast Florida also spoke today. "We believe that this is the best place for Father Alberto Cutié and have welcomed him and his fiancé into our church. He will help us spread the word that the Episcopal church not only offers sacramental catholic worship tradition but is also a community of faith promises thoughtful debate of what God is calling us to do and to be followers of Christ," Bishop Leo Frade said.

What do you think of Cutié's decision?

He already has an new assignment. He'll deliver the sermon this Sunday at the Church of Resurrection in Biscayne Park.

Join us for this story and much more starting at 10pm ET.  See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
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