July 13th, 2009
01:22 PM ET

Sotomayor's judgment day

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/13/sotomayor.hearing/art.sotomayer.01.cnn.jpg caption="Judge Sonia Sotomayor listens to opening statements Monday at her confirmation hearing."]

Sherrilyn A. Ifill
The Root

As confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor begin before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, it’s probably best to keep some perspective on the significance of the proceedings.

Unless there’s a violent crime in her past, Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Given Al Franken’s recent seating as the 60th Democratic vote in the Senate, it’s a numerical certainty that a nominee approved by Democrats will be confirmed. This reality will not stop Republicans from doing their best to drag Judge Sotomayor’s name through the mud and to paint her as a dangerous, racially driven, judicial activist.

In fact, Republicans have been “workshopping” their Sotomayor strategy over the past two weeks, staging mini-rehearsals in an attempt to figure out which tactic will most excite their base, not alienate Latino voters and refocus the seriously adrift Republican Party. Parts have been handed out to key players on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is to bring the intellectual challenge. He’s been practicing with a cleverly conceived “Daily Question for Judge Sotomayor” on his Web site. Many of the questions posed are surprisingly substantive, and the explanatory text that accompanies each question is a good way to get his constituents and sympathetic journalists up to speed on the dynamics of Republican resistance to Judge Sotomayor’s nomination.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor
July 13th, 2009
01:01 PM ET

'Carry boxes' – and more lessons I learned in West Africa

Editor’s Note: President Obama made his first visit to Sub Saharan Africa as President this past weekend. He and his family visited Ghana where the president gave a wide-ranging address to the parliament of Ghana, a western African nation seen as a model of democracy and growth for the rest of the continent. Obama’s visit prompted AC360° contributor Chris Guillebeau, to reflect on his four years working in the region.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/12/art.ghana.boats.jpg caption="Boats along the shore of Ghana's coast."]

Chris Guillebeau
AC360° Contributor

West Africa is the kind of place that is largely unknown to most people who haven't made a deliberate effort to study it. Travel writers struggle to describe the region without the clichéd contrasts: hope, despair, joy, sorrow. That's what you get when you combine a poverty-stricken area with some of the world’s happiest people.

Many people ask how they can get started in international development work. My answer: carry boxes.

Depressed after 9/11, I surfed the internet looking for volunteer jobs as far away from America as possible. I found one in a medical charity that needed a warehouse manager, which turned out to be a euphemism for box-carrier. Technically I managed a slew of donated goods for refugee camps and nurses, but mostly I shuffled boxes back and forth in a Land Rover every day.

No matter. It was the best job ever. I went to West Africa in 2002 with a two-year volunteer commitment. Before the end of the first year, I ended up running more than the warehouse. The organization needed a Programs Director to oversee the field work and coordinate relationships with host governments throughout the region. “Pick me,” I said, and for some reason they did.


July 13th, 2009
12:34 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Wall Street waiting for banks

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/.element/img/1.0/sections/mag/fortune/bestcompanies/2009/snapshots/goldman_sachs_f.jpg]
Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Washington may be focused on the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, but Wall Street is prepping for earnings from the nation’s biggest banks.

Among the financial institutions reporting this week are Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup. Other big names like Johnson & Johnson, IBM, General Electric and Intel also report this week.

Traders are buzzing about Goldman Sachs in particular, which recently paid back its share of government bailout money. Analysts are predicting the bank earned a profit of more than $2 billion in the March-June period, due to its trading prowess across world markets.

If they’re right, Goldman’s rivals will once again be left to wonder exactly how the bank, long the envy of Wall Street, could have rebounded so dramatically only months after the nation’s financial industry was shaken to its core.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil
July 13th, 2009
11:24 AM ET

Searching for a serial killer?


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.crime.thorpe.rocky.mount.jpg caption="Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, was found killed in 2007 – she is one of six women found dead along Seven Bridges Road since 2005."]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Police are investigating whether a North Carolina country road may have become the dumping ground for a serial killer - a man one woman believes could have given her a terrifying ride she will never forget.

Since May 2005, the remains of five women have been found near the Seven Bridges Road outside of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The road snakes northeast out of town into rural Edgecombe County.

Rocky Mount Police Chief John Manley Jr. believes the women's deaths are related. "They seem to have some connection," he said.

Lanessa Williams of Rocky Mount believes she narrowly missed joining the ranks of the slain women, saying she is not sure whether a man who offered her a ride to a friend's house last year is responsible for their deaths.

The longer the two drove, the more she felt a sense of danger, said Williams, 38. The man - who she described as thin and African-American, with a mustache and glasses - rarely spoke and "looked crazy."

"He kept on going and he rode through lights and he wouldn't let me get out," she told CNN. Eventually, her fears were confirmed when he demanded sex.

"He told me that if I didn't do what he wanted me to do he was going to kill me and throw me in the river." The man eventually stopped his truck in a dark wilderness area, she said.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
July 13th, 2009
10:49 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Anderson's interview with President Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.ghana.cape.castle.door.jpg caption="Inside the Cape Coast Castle – this door was the final departure point for slaves bound for the western hemisphere."]

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Anderson is on his way back from interviewing President Obama in Ghana over the weekend. They spoke a lot about the war in Afghanistan and what is being done to defeat the Taliban. The president told Anderson that he has ordered national security officials to look into allegations that the Bush administration resisted efforts to investigate a CIA-backed Afghan warlord over the killings of hundreds of Taliban prisoners back in 2001. Watch more of Anderson’s interview with the president tonight.

While in Ghana, the president and his family visited the Cape Coast Castle, on the coast of the West African country. This structure was once used as a dungeon and a final departure point for slaves bound for the western hemisphere. The president talked to Anderson about the significance of this visit, what it means for him and the message it sends around the world.

The transatlantic slave trade sent many African people to Caribbean islands, such as Haiti, and created what is known as the African diaspora. But slavery took place hundreds of years ago, right? It surprised us to learn that there are still people working as slaves in many countries. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Haiti to look into the Restaveks - a Creole term that literally means “stay with.” Restaveks are children without parents who live (or “stay with”) with hosts, working as domestic servants in exchange for room and board. But this arrangement can lead to exploitation and many allege that this is an example of modern-day slavery. More tonight from Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
July 13th, 2009
10:11 AM ET
July 13th, 2009
10:07 AM ET

Somali urges Somali-Americans not to join rebels

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/07/13/somalia.president.plea/art.somalia.rebels.afp.gi.jpg caption="A Somali rebel points a heavy machine gun in the direction of government forces July 3."]
David McKenzie

Amid worsening conflict in Somalia, the country's president made a plea for Somalis living in the United States to stop sending their young men to fight.

"I call on the Somali-American community not to send their youth to Somalia to fight alongside al-Shabaab," President Sheik Sharif Ahmed said on Sunday.

He was referring to the militant group that is waging a brutal war against his administration in Mogadishu.

"I am saying to those young men from abroad: 'Your families fled your home to America because of insecurity. You should not return here to ferment violence against your people,'" he said.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Africa
July 13th, 2009
09:18 AM ET

Sotomayor as American as mango pie

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/09/sotomayor.impact/art.sotomayor.gi.jpg caption="Judge Sonia Sotomayor"]
Angelo Falcón
Special to CNN

The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States has raised the profile of Puerto Ricans in the American consciousness.

Her identification as a Puerto Rican has caused Judge Sotomayor both joy and a little grief during this stormy nomination process. But, being a Puerto Rican who also grew up in New York City, well, I can say that's par for the course for most of us.

Despite Puerto Rico being a possession of the United States since 1898, most Americans know very little about the island and Puerto Ricans - except for tourism commercials. Many consider Puerto Ricans living in the United States outside of Puerto Rico (I called these "Stateside Puerto Ricans") another new immigrant group of Latinos.

But the reality is that we can trace Puerto Rican settlements in New Orleans to the 1860s and workers from Puerto Rico migrated to Hawaii around 1900. In 1917, through an act of the United States Congress (the Jones Act), the people of Puerto Rico were made United States citizens, enabling them to come to the United States freely and legally without passport or visa.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
July 13th, 2009
08:35 AM ET

Dear President Obama #175: Ready, set ... judge

Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama wants advice. He’s asked for it. So don’t blame me for writing a letter a day to the White House. I’m just doing my job.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/12/sotomayor.hearing/art.sotomayor.franken.gi.jpg]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

After weeks of waiting and revving the engines, your Supreme Court nominee is finally ready to belly up to the confirmation bar. Fun times, eh? Used to be that the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee was as dry as a field of wheat. A few dusty old lawmakers would roll some arcane questions toward the chosen one, who would gently bat them back with a smile and great deference; the vote would be taken; confirmation completed; high fives all around and everyone would go take a nap.

Now, just the whisper of an opening on the Court has folks breaking out the boxing gloves and torches.

More and more we’ve turned into a society where it feels like every dispute winds up in front of a judge. People walk on eggshells afraid of a lawsuit, and consequently there is much more interest in knowing just what all the Supreme authorities on the law are going to say…even before they get the chance to say it.

The courts have certainly answered the prayers of a wide variety of smaller groups that have often felt that elected government alone is not serving their needs very well. But at the same time, plenty of other Americans feel like the courts have undermined the power of their votes. Lose at the ballot box? Just hire some expensive lawyers and take what you want.


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