June 22nd, 2009
10:13 AM ET

Why Democrats give GOP hope

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/09/obama.paygo/art.obama.afp.gi.jpg]

John Feehery
Special to CNN

John Feehery says Democrats are internally divided to a greater degree than Republicans.

Much has been said and written about the decline and fall of the Republican Party. That is unsurprising, given the last two elections, when Republicans got their heads handed to them.
In the aftermath of President Obama's coronation earlier this year, political analysts were writing confidently about the imminent disappearance of the Republican Party.

The party was too Southern, too conservative, too narrow-minded and too extreme to compete nationally. And I admit, I wrote some of that analysis myself.

But if the Republican Party is too cohesive for its own good, a case can be made that the Democratic Party is not cohesive enough. We are already seeing signs of the vaunted Democratic coalition falling apart over difficult issues such as health care and climate change/energy tax policies. The party is also not nearly as unified on social issues such as gay marriage, for example, as their leaders would like it to be.

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Filed under: Democrats • Republicans
June 22nd, 2009
10:05 AM ET

How strong is the evidence against Amanda Knox?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/13/italy.amanda.knox.trial/art.knoxtrial.afp.gi.jpg caption="American college student Amanda Knox, 21, testifies on June 12 at her murder trial in Perugia, Italy."]

Tiffany Sharples
TIME Magazine

An attractive American student on trial for murder can count on support 6,000 miles away in her native Seattle. There, one of Amanda Knox's most vocal backers is attorney Anne Bremner, who has offered her counsel pro bono to the accused's family and is a spokeswoman for Friends of Amanda. On Friday, she sat down with TIME to go over the case against Knox, who took the witness stand on Friday in her murder trial.

Video footage from the crime scene of British student Meredith Kercher's murder flickers on a laptop screen as Bremner points out what she deems critical flaws in the collection of evidence. After placing rulers on the sides of a bloody shoeprint, for example, a blue-rubber-gloved hand reaches down with a piece of white cloth and scrubs the bloody mark off the tile floor before putting the cloth into an evidence tube. This happens three times for three separate footprints. In film footage taken at least a day later, another team of investigators attempts, using photographs, to place where the footprints had been. "They should have lifted the tile," Bremner says, shaking her head.

In what is surely a well-rehearsed demonstration by now, Bremner goes on to address the case against Knox, point by point. The prosecution, she says, is most likely relying on a knife found at the house of Knox's then boyfriend and fellow accused Rafaelle Sollecito. That knife has Knox's DNA on the handle and what some forensic scientists say is Kercher's DNA on the tip. But Bremner dismisses the idea that it is the knife that killed Kercher: "They never found the murder weapon."


Filed under: 360° Radar
June 22nd, 2009
10:00 AM ET

New York Times reporter escapes Taliban

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/06/20/reporter.escape.afghanistan/art.rhode.afp.gi.jpg caption="New York Times reporter David Rohde, shown in 1995, escaped from the Taliban."]


A New York Times reporter who was held by the Taliban for seven months has escaped, the newspaper reported Saturday.

David Rohde told his wife, Kristen Mulvihill, that he and a local reporter, Tahir Ludin, climbed over the wall of a compound late Friday where they were being held in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan.

Pakistani military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas told CNN that the Pakistani military was involved in freeing Rohde. Additional details were not immediately available.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement expressing her relief about Rohde's "return to freedom."

"I would like to thank the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan for their assistance in ensuring his safe return," Clinton said. "Journalists put themselves at risk every day to report the news in regions gripped by conflict. We rely on their vital role and I am grateful for their service."

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Filed under: 360° Radar
June 22nd, 2009
09:17 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Iran, NK and a Freed Journalist

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/06/20/reporter.escape.afghanistan/art.rhode.afp.gi.jpg caption="New York Times reporter David Rohde, shown in 1995, escaped from the Taliban."]

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Iranian authorities warn that protesters who ‘disturb the peace and stand up to security forces’ will be considered a threat to the regime and met with a strong response. A news media blackout has been imposed by the government, so the images we now see are coming from Iranians on the streets taking cell phone videos and the like.

The images are not for the faint of heart. You can hear gunfire and people screaming, in a couple of cases, even protester deaths seem to be recorded, though impossible to 100% verify all the video.

Iran says 17 people have died since the election protests began, but unconfirmed reports say the number could be as high as 150. Hundreds of people have been arrested.

Filed under: Penny Manis • The Buzz
June 22nd, 2009
08:31 AM ET

Dear President Obama #154: Iran boils into a new week

Reporter's Note: The President seems like a pretty confident fellow, sure of himself, unwavering in his goals; and yet he has asked Americans for advice on how to run the country. I, therefore, am equally unswerving in my efforts to write a letter a day to the White House.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/20/world.reaction.iran/art.iranprotest.gi.jpg.jpg caption="Iranian-Americans shout slogans against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in front of the White House."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Excellent Fathers Day at our house! Scored some lovely gifts from the girls and my wife, went for a nice long run, enjoyed a magnificent breakfast cooked up by the entire gang, then went to the younger girl’s piano recital where she wowed the crowd with Satin Doll. We went to church Saturday evening because the girls were both being altar servers, so we had even more free time than usual for Sunday. How about you? I suspect when children have a president for a father it raises certain challenges in terms of how to impress him on a holiday, but I’m sure they did well. By the way, can they just run into any room where you are at any time, or does Secret Service stop them? And what if they have a little friend around? Let me know, because I’m considering using it as leverage against my own girls. “Hey, the president doesn’t get interrupted every time he tries to go on Facebook. Get out of here! Where are my guards?”

Anyway, here it is Monday, and Iran is still stirring. I must say that it is hard not to get caught up in the drama of all those folks in the street trying to change things. So much of what they are doing seems courageous and aimed at giving people the very kinds of freedom and democracy that we prize so much. On the other hand, I’ve been in the news business long enough to be skeptical of what pictures tell me sometimes. People say photographs don’t lie, but that’s not true. Photographs lie all the time.

So as much as I want to believe my eyes, I find myself really grasping for facts and finding them in short supply. Was the election rigged? It sure looks shaky, but I don’t have any proof and haven’t been convinced anyone else does either. Is the current system over there, dominated as it is by religious leaders, a bad idea? Looks like it to me, but I’m not Iranian, and I’m not sure it’s anyone’s business except theirs. Would the guy who lost be better than the guy who won? Seems like an open question, even as bad as the current president is. Heck, I’ve seen elections in this country in which the winner turned out to be nothing like what people expected.


June 22nd, 2009
08:00 AM ET
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