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August 13th, 2009
03:02 PM ET

Iraqi refugees trade mobility for security

Marium Al Wata, 32, used to own a pharmacy in Iraq.

Marium Al Wata, 32, used to own a pharmacy in Iraq.

Charity Tooze
AC360° Contributor

Marium and Hassan Al Wata* are stalked by their shared past. They are haunted by memories of death threats and murder. In 2006 they fled the violence in Baghdad in search of a safe haven. They settled in Amman, Jordan but their security quickly turned to imprisonment.

They say their modest apartment in the city’s Heshami Shamali neighborhood feels like a cage. Their days and nights are spent within the confines of sheet rock, sweat and anxiety. “We never leave the house during the day,” Marium said, “At night we’ll go on the balcony and talk about how we’re feeling.”

During the escalation of sectarian violence between 2005 and 2007, thousands of Iraqis fled to Jordan and other neighboring countries. According to a Fafo Research Foundation report, commissioned by the Jordanian government, there are between 450,000 and 500,000 Iraqis living in Jordan. But many of these people find themselves isolated in their new homes, fearful of deportation and waiting in limbo. The United Nations now recognizes the situation as the largest urban refugee crisis in history.

After their arrival three years ago, the Al Watas discovered layers of bureaucracy that made their life in Jordan difficult. Jordan did not sign the 1951 Convention on refugees and while it has been historically welcoming to displaced people, Iraqis are not officially recognized as refugees and therefore cannot work legally. The large influx of Iraqis was a shock to Jordan’s infrastructure and the country quickly changed its immigration policies and began requiring visas for Iraqis. The visa requirement - and the inability to work legally - has made it nearly impossible for an Iraqi to live some semblance of a normal life in Jordan.

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August 13th, 2009
02:13 PM ET

Exxon Mobil fined $600,000 for deaths of 85 protected migratory birds

Exxon Mobil is paying the price for its pollution.

Exxon Mobil is paying the price for its pollution.

Terry Frieden
CNN Justice Producer

Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corporation has pled guilty and will pay $600,000 in fines for the deaths of 85 protected migratory birds in the firm's wastewater ponds in five states.

Waterfowl, hawks and owls protected under an international treaty were killed after landing in open uncovered pools where they were coated with or ingested fatal doses of hydrocarbons, federal officials said.

The facilities are in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

"This is a great win for the environment," Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cruden told reporters in a telephone news conference.

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Filed under: Environmental issues • Oil
August 13th, 2009
01:35 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Consumers not feeling a recovery

Ford Motor Co. saw an increase in domestic sales this July over last, a company official said.

Ford Motor Co. saw an increase in domestic sales this July over last, a company official said.

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Two reports out today show one thing: happy days are not here again for American consumers.

Retail sales fell in July after two straight months of gains, a drop that surprised economists. Without car sales boosted by the government’s “Cash for Clunkers," the numbers would have been even worse.

And Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, reported an unexpected decline in a key sales measure.

Given Wal-Mart's dominance in the retail industry and the fact that about 200 million consumers shop at its stores every week, it’s is seen as a barometer of the health of the consumer and of the overall economy. Consumer spending, as we continuously remind you, accounts for two-thirds of all economic activity in the United States.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Finance
August 13th, 2009
01:28 PM ET

Make every job a green job

Andrew L. Shapiro
Special to CNN

In a recent CNN commentary entitled "Green jobs: hope or hype?" Samuel Sherraden argues that green job creation will be insufficient to bring America out of recession. But Sherraden narrowly defines green as a "sector," and fails to see its potential as a strategy for the revitalization of the entire economy.

When the public debate is focused around the precise number of green jobs created in, say, a solar panel factory, we miss the opportunity as a country to think more broadly about greening the economy - and building a foundation for real growth and competitiveness.

The aspiration to create "green jobs" should really be seen as shorthand for two public priorities - immediate job creation and long-term transformation of the economy for sustainability and prosperity - and both goals can be addressed simultaneously. However, in judging our progress, a simple tally of jobs in "green sectors" is only a partial indicator of the impact and thus can be misleading.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: Energy • Environmental issues • Job Market
August 13th, 2009
11:44 AM ET
August 13th, 2009
11:40 AM ET

Morning Buzz: 10-year-old recruited by extremists?

These boys say they were kidnapped by the Taliban and trained to be suicide bombers.

These boys say they were kidnapped by the Taliban and trained to be suicide bombers.

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Make sure you check out ‘Generation Islam,’ a special report by Christiane Amanpour about the next generation of Muslims. The attacks on 9/11 taught the U.S. that ignoring rising Muslim resentment can have devastating effects. Is it possible to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim youth? Make sure to watch Christiane’s report tonight at 9 p.m .ET.

We’ll be looking into an incredible story of a young boy featured in the documentary tonight. This 10-year-old child was recruited by extremists to be a suicide bomber, but he was able cut off ties with the group and now tells his story in vivid details. You won't want to miss this.

And we’re all about fact vs. fiction on health care reform. A number of congressional leaders are holding town halls today – trying to explain the reforms and dispel the myths and rumors that seem to be circulating around the country. What impact are these having? Is the plan just so complex that it's impossible to fully grasp? We’ll be exploring the questions that keep coming up in these town halls and we’ll have real answers about what the reform proposal could mean for you. Are there any questions that haven’t been answered? Let us know.

FULL POST


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
August 13th, 2009
11:33 AM ET
August 13th, 2009
11:30 AM ET

Dear President Obama #206: The battle of the ages

Reporter's Note: President Obama is caught up in the heat of the health care fight. The rest of us are just caught up in the heat of summer in DC. Fortunately I’m generally writing my daily letters to the White House deep in the night when it is cooler. And often I’m just wearing a t-shirt and running shorts. I know. Too much information.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Well, I attended another one of those wild town hall meetings on health care today, and they seem to be losing no steam. I must say the folks who are against this are really against it, and how! Frankly, I didn’t even know folks that age could throw chairs that far! I truly can’t think of another issue in recent years that I’ve seen light up so many people in so many places all at once. Usually this kind of fervor is reserved for local liquor license debates or strip club ordinances at city council meetings.

But as the old song goes, “the heat is on,” and it seems to be all over the place.

And speaking of age, there is one characteristic of the crowds at these meetings that I think you must not overlook: A massive number of people who oppose your plan are older; meaning older than you or me. Our most recent polls back up the observation. The greatest opposition is coming from people over 50.

In some ways that makes a lot of sense. Whether the health care system is good or bad, they’ve built their lives and careers around it the way it is. Any attempt to change it now creates uncertainly and fear for them, because if you get it wrong they have no time for a redo.

FULL POST

August 13th, 2009
11:25 AM ET

Emanuel's brother becomes a target

Sen. Harry Reid, center, talks about health care flanked by Sens. Christopher Dodd, left, and Charles Schumer.

Sen. Harry Reid, center, talks about health care flanked by Sens. Christopher Dodd, left, and Charles Schumer.

Naftali Bendavid
The Wall Street Journal

Ezekiel Emanuel, a top health-care adviser to President Barack Obama and older brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is emerging as a target of conservatives critical of Democrats' health-care effort.

Dr. Emanuel, a prominent oncologist and medical ethicist who has taught at Harvard Medical School and served at the National Institutes of Health, has written dozens of scholarly articles over the years. Critics are using his writings to suggest Dr. Emanuel favors withholding care from the elderly and disabled.

One of their most-cited examples is a 1996 article Dr. Emanuel wrote in the bioethics journal Hastings Center Report. Exploring which medical services should be guaranteed to all Americans, Dr. Emanuel cited an approach that would favor active people, adding, "An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."

In a radio interview last month, Betsy McCaughey, a scholar at the conservative Hudson Institute, cited the article in asserting that Dr. Emanuel believes patients with incurable diseases shouldn't be guaranteed health care. She and other critics have suggested a tie between Dr. Emanuel's views and a provision in a House health bill that would pay doctors to counsel Medicare patients on end-of-life issues such as living wills. Ms. McCaughey said the bill provided "counseling on how to cut your life short."

The White House forcefully defends Dr. Emanuel, saying he is an academic who explores tough questions surrounding life and death.

In an interview Tuesday, Dr. Emanuel said his 1996 piece was "attempting to analyze different philosophical trends," not expressing his own views. Dr. Emanuel noted that he was a well-known opponent of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Barack Obama • Health Care
August 13th, 2009
11:13 AM ET

Thousands line up for promise of free health care

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, has said he won't vote for a health care bill that raises the deficit.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, has said he won't vote for a health care bill that raises the deficit.

Jennifer Steinhauer
New York Times

They came for new teeth mostly, but also for blood pressure checks, mammograms, immunizations and acupuncture for pain. Neighboring South Los Angeles is a place where health care is scarce, and so when it was offered nearby, word got around.

For the second day in a row, thousands of people lined up on Wednesday — starting after midnight and snaking into the early hours — for free dental, medical and vision services, courtesy of a nonprofit group that more typically provides mobile health care for the rural poor.

Like a giant MASH unit, the floor of the Forum, the arena where Madonna once played four sold-out shows, housed aisle upon aisle of dental chairs, where drilling, cleaning and extracting took place in the open. A few cushions were duct-taped to a folding table in a coat closet, an examining room where Dr. Eugene Taw, a volunteer, saw patients.

When Remote Area Medical, the Tennessee-based organization running the event, decided to try its hand at large urban medical services, its principals thought Los Angeles would be a good place to start. But they were far from prepared for the outpouring of need. Set up for eight days of care, the group was already overwhelmed on the first day after allowing 1,500 people through the door, nearly 500 of whom had still not been served by day’s end and had to return in the wee hours Wednesday morning.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Health Care
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