June 19th, 2009
03:30 PM ET
June 19th, 2009
03:14 PM ET

Uh oh, he's got a gun!!

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Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

I’ll never forget a story I was working on about five years ago in Chicago.

It was a story on housing scams on the south and west areas of the city. I was snooping around an abandoned building that had been purchased for an incredible amount of money. I went around back and two pit bulls were about ready to attack each other. I realized they were getting trained to fight and I knew there was trouble around the corner. I tried to quietly walk away, but I was spotted.

Three guys started coming after me, so I ran as fast as I could back to my car. I don’t think they would have done anything to me, I probably could have told them what I was doing and been just fine, but as I was starting the car, one guy was raising his hands and I noticed a gun in the front of his pants. They let me drive away and that was that.

But ask any kid around here in the tough neighborhoods and they’ll tell you how to get a gun. I’m not arguing for or against gun control. It’s just a fact: guns are easy to get here, even when it’s illegal to have them in Chicago. Another fact, they are using them at an alarming rate. According the police department, in the first five months of this year close to 700 people have been shot. This school year, 36 Chicago Public School children have been killed, most of them by gun shots.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I were in the emergency room of Advocate Christ Medical Center near Chicago last week. We watched as people who were shot were rushed to the hospital and taken to the operating room. Tonight we bring you the story that you don’t see. It’s the story that doctors see here on a daily basis, people fighting for their lives after being shot on Chicago’s streets.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Gun Violence • Ismael Estrada
June 19th, 2009
03:00 PM ET

Happy Father’s Day from my therapist

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/19/art.vert.jack.gray.dad.jpg caption="Jack Gray and his father, John Gray, circa 1985." width=292 height=320]

Jack Gray
AC360° Producer/Writer

I am not a good athlete. The only sport at which I ever showed a modicum of skill while growing up was tennis. And even then I was less concerned about my serve than I was about squeezing in a Marlboro Medium before practice.

It’s not that I didn’t want to be a good athlete. It just wasn’t in the cards. And, frankly, I was fine with that. But my father, intent on instilling in me a commitment to one day put him in a nursing home against his will, insisted I stick with the teams on which he had signed me up behind my back.

There was soccer, which I objected to on the grounds that there wasn’t a snack bar. There was basketball, which discriminated against those of us unnerved by buzzers. And, of course, there was football, an experience that immediately downgraded my father’s twilight years from a mediocre nursing home to one known for its health code violations.

Still, I hung in there, remaining on whatever sponsored-by-the-local-pizza-parlor team I was on until the end of each season. And, as much as I hate to admit it, not every game was awful. Sure, I spent a lot of time on the sidelines, staring at my shoelaces and planning what I’d say when Connie Chung grilled me on the circumstances surrounding my dad’s lawnmower “accident.” But, there was the occasional triumph, like the time I hit a home run in Little League. Let me tell you, it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s a moment that’s stayed with me all these years, not just because I can so clearly recall the thrill of watching the ball sail over the left field fence, but because it was witnessed by my father. Also in attendance at that game was my grandfather, who apparently had a few free minutes in between arguments with the staff at Radio Shack.


June 19th, 2009
02:53 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Mini-Madoff?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/18/stanford.fraud.charge/art.stanford.gi.jpg caption="Allen Stanford, right, poses with his Antigua cricket team in November 2008."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Texas billionaire Allen Stanford was indicted today on charges of criminal conspiracy to commit mail, wire and securities fraud, actions that earned his company an estimated $7 billion dollars, according to court documents.

Stanford was taken into custody Thursday night in Stafford, Virginia, the FBI said.

In February, the SEC shut down Stanford’s financial operations - based in Antigua and the Caribbean – and froze his assets while filing a civil suit accusing him and two other senior executives of committing a fraud it characterized as a “massive Ponzi scheme.”

Four others, including an Antiguan official, have also been indicted in the case.

The alleged fraud involved billions of dollars of certificates of deposit issued by Stanford International Bank on Antigua that paid unusually high returns and were marketed all over the world.

Job rates rise in nearly every state

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rate increases in May, the government reported today, while one state registered a decrease and one state had no change.

Several states and regions posted their highest unemployment rate since the report first debuted in 1976.

Over the year, jobless rates were higher in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Michigan once again led the nation with a 14.1% jobless rate, up from 12.9% a month earlier, followed again by Oregon at 12.4%, up from 12% in April. Thirteen states have rates above 10%.

The spike comes a month after the unemployment rate declined in 21 states in April.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy
June 19th, 2009
12:46 PM ET

Iran's military coup

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/19/iran.election.us/art.iran.girl.apf.gi.jpg caption="A young girl accompanies Iranian women as they walk to hear the ayatollah give his speech Friday."]
Program Note: To hear Reza Aslan's take on the latest developments in Iran, tune in to AC360° tonight 10 P.M. ET. In his piece from earlier this week, Aslan discusses the country's response to its recent, highly contentious presidential election results.

Reza Aslan
The Daily Beast

So let’s get this straight. We are supposed to believe that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reelected in Iran’s presidential election last week by a 2 to 1 margin against his reformist rival Mir Hossein Mousavi. That this deeply unpopular president, whose gross mismanagement of the state budget is widely blamed for Iran’s economy hovering on the edge of total collapse, received approximately the same percentage of votes as Mohammad Khatami, by far Iran’s most popular past president, received in both 1997 and 2001? That Mousavi, whom all independent polls predicted would at the very least take Ahmadinejad into a runoff election, lost not only his main base of support, Tehran, but also his own hometown of Khameneh in East Azerbaijan (which, as any Azeri will tell you, never votes for anyone but its own native sons)…and by a landslide. That we should all take the word of the Interior Ministry, led by a man put in his position by Ahmadinejad himself, a man who called the election for the incumbent before the polls were even officially closed, that the election was a fair representation of the will of the Iranian people.


Such bald-faced election fraud is a totally new phenomenon in Iran, which takes its election process very seriously. This is, after all, the only expression of popular sovereignty that Iranians enjoy. Over and over again, the electorate has defied the will of the clerical regime when it comes to choosing the country’s president: in 1997 and 2001, when 70% of the population rejected the establishment candidate, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, in favor of a completely unknown cleric, Khatami, whose greatest political contribution was as head of Iran’s National Library; and again in 2005 when Iranians rejected Hashemi Rafsanjani—the billionaire former president and the quintessential establishment candidate—to vote instead for a little-known mayor of Tehran named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who until that time had never run for any political office (Ahmadinejad was appointed mayor of Tehran after his predecessor was charged with corruption).


Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran • Reza Aslan
June 19th, 2009
12:27 PM ET

Iran power structure explained

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Constitution: A hybrid of democracy, religion

The Islamic Revolution is the name given to the Iranian revolution of 1979, when the ruling US-supported monarchy was overthrown and the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was forced into exile.

The country held a national referendum to become an Islamic republic and approve a new constitution- a hybrid of democracy and unelected religious leadership. It appointed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution, the supreme leader of the country.

Before he died in 1989, he made it known that he wanted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to succeed him.

Supreme leader: Iran’s de facto ruler

Iran’s supreme leader has the final say in all important matters of the country, such as ties with foreign nations and Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

He appoints the Guardian Council, the country’s election authority. He also appoints key posts in the intelligence services and the armed forces, including the powerful Revolutionary Guard. Additionally, he confirms the president’s election.

In theory, the supreme leader is appointed by a body of clerics whom voters elect. But in practice, this body – the Assembly of Experts – has answered to the supreme leader.

Khamenei, 70, was appointed supreme leader for life in 1989.

Guardian Council: Theological veto power

The unelected Guardian Council is the second most influential body in Iranian politics. It consists of six theologians whom the supreme leader picks and six jurists nominated by the judiciary and approved by Iran’s parliament.

Read more about Iran’s Guardian Council, President, and Revolutionary Guard….

Filed under: Iran
June 19th, 2009
12:06 PM ET
June 19th, 2009
12:01 PM ET

Sex and violins for a conservative senator

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

If sex scandals were car crashes, Capitol Hill would be covered with roadside memorials to political careers mowed down in their prime: John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Larry Craig. But this week a new grave is being mined in the shade of the dome. Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign’s presidential hopes are being embalmed, after he too admitted involvement in a sexual affair.

Well, maybe it’s too soon to say those hopes are dead and gone, but they are at best laid out on the Capitol steps taking shocks to the chest. The GOP has enough problems without putting a pre-damaged candidate onto the ticket.

And the damage to Ensign is profound. He was a conservative’s conservative. A born-again Christian. Pro-family, pro-guns, pro-church; anti-abortion rights, anti-gay marriage, and outspokenly anti-other elected officials caught in sex scandals in the years BHO…meaning “before his own.” Ensign voted for Bill Clinton’s impeachment and said after all the events surrounding the matter of Monica, that the then president had lost all credibility. When fellow GOP Senator Larry Craig toe tapped his way into trouble in an airport bathroom, Ensign attacked. In October 2007 he went on TV to tell my pal, Wolf Blitzer, Craig should resign. “We need people who are in office who will hold themselves to a little higher standard.”


June 19th, 2009
11:56 AM ET

Detroit, Pimp My Ride

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

I've been thinking a lot about Chrysler and GM lately. This isn't quite as ripped-from-the-headlines as it might sound, because I often think of cars. I'm what you might call a "car guy".

Car guys fall into all sorts of sub-categories, but mine is the one where the middle-aged guy who really couldn't fix a car to save his life finds himself dreaming of building a hotrod. Yes, I'm over 40 and I like things that loudly go vroooooom.

One thing us car guys like to do is plan the future for all of our favorite car companies. It's kind of like we used to do when we were little boys in school, drawing pictures of cars with crayons, adding an air scoop in the front, and maybe some flames coming out of the exhaust.

Except, most of us mid-life car guys have given up the crayons and either taken up the online forum or hold court around a Weber grill - and the closest we ever really get to flame jobs is cooking the oh-so-well-done burger that Dad always likes.


June 19th, 2009
10:50 AM ET

Obama must speak out on Iran

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/19/iran.election.us/art.moussavi.throngs.gi.jpg caption="Mir Hossein Moussavi, center, is surrounded by supporters in Tehran, Iran, on Thursday."]

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

With Iran suffering a political earthquake, allow me to put in a good word for meddling.

I realize there will always be those Americans who recoil at the idea of U.S. military intervention or economic sanctions - or, for that matter, even just tersely worded statements from the White House - because, they insist, the United States should not interfere with the domestic affairs of other countries.

Since when? The United States has, for decades, interfered with the destinies of other nations – in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.

In fact, just recently, President Obama took to interfering in the Middle East by scolding Israel for its treatment of Palestinians and its settlements in the West Bank.

Yet now, in a real disappointment to anyone who values freedom, Obama has declared his reluctance to "meddle" in the aftermath of the disputed Iranian presidential election even as hundreds of thousands of protesters put themselves at risk on the streets of Tehran.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Iran • President Barack Obama
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