September 21st, 2009
01:10 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Pres. Obama urges investment in high-tech education

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/2009/09/21/news/economy/obama/obama_090921a.03.jpg caption= "President Obama speaks in Troy, N.Y., about his high-tech education investment plan."]

Andrew Torgan

CNN Financial News Producer

President Obama today promoted his plans to make the nation's economy more stable in the future by investing in education for high-tech industries. Speaking at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y., the president emphasized the need to encourage entrepreneurship and international competition. He also reiterated his call for increased investment in green energy technology, electronic health records and manufacturing advanced vehicles.

"Our strategy begins where innovation so often does: in the classroom and in the laboratory - and in the networks that connect them to the broader economy," the president said in prepared remarks. "These are the building blocks of innovation: education, infrastructure, and research."


Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • President Barack Obama
September 21st, 2009
12:48 PM ET

Afternoon Buzz: Terror Suspects Head to Court

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/09/21/terror.probe/art.zaziarrest.kwgn.jpg caption= "Najibullah Zazi is accused of making false statements to officials about an alleged bomb plot in the United States."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

We're following new developments in the terror case with ties to New York City and Denver, Colorado. Three men charged with lying to federal agents will appear in federal court today. Najibullah Zazi, 24, and his 53-year-old father, Mohammed Wali Zazi will face a judge in Colorado. Wais Afzali, 37, a Muslim cleric and funeral director, will do the same in New York. They are among several people under investigation for plotting a bomb attack here in the U.S., according to the Justice Department.

They may have been targeting a large railroad or subway station, a source close to the investigation told CNN last week. Newly released court documents describe conversations between the men that allegedly took place just days before they were arrested. Deborah Feyerick is following this story for you tonight.

We're also looking at the debate over U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, says more soldiers are needed on the frontlines. He warned in a 66-page assessment that if more troops aren't added within the next year the conflict "will likely result in failure." Will Pres. Obama provide more troops? We’ll have this story tonight.

And, we're digging deeper on the Phillip Garrido case. He's the California man accused of kidnapping and raping Jaycee Duggard, who has been reunited with her family. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Dan Simon talked with a friend of Garrido's- a friend who held something mysterious for him that may surprise you. It was a simple black box with a handle, metal switch and jacks for plugging in headphones. And it helps provide some insight on Garrido. "He feels he can speak to you and me and everyone else using this box," said Garrido's friend and former business client who spoke only to us on the condition of anonymity. "He was a whack job, but he was a whack job who sounded like he had a really good heart," he added. Intrigued?  Watch us at 10pm ET so you can hear the rest!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
September 21st, 2009
10:43 AM ET
September 21st, 2009
10:35 AM ET

Gates: A Better Missile Defense for a Safer Europe

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/21/robert.gates.jpg caption="Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates answers a question about U.S. missile defense strategy during a press briefing."]

Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense
New York Times

The future of missile defense in Europe is secure. This reality is contrary to what some critics have alleged about President Obama’s proposed shift in America’s missile-defense plans on the continent — and it is important to understand how and why.

First, to be clear, there is now no strategic missile defense in Europe. In December 2006, just days after becoming secretary of defense, I recommended to President George W. Bush that the United States place 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic. This system was designed to identify and destroy up to about five long-range missiles potentially armed with nuclear warheads fired from the Middle East — the greatest and most likely danger being from Iran. At the time, it was the best plan based on the technology and threat assessment available.

That plan would have put the radar and interceptors in Central Europe by 2015 at the earliest. Delays in the Polish and Czech ratification process extended that schedule by at least two years. Which is to say, under the previous program, there would have been no missile-defense system able to protect against Iranian missiles until at least 2017 — and likely much later.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran • President Barack Obama
September 21st, 2009
10:16 AM ET

Conservatism is far from dead

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/21/capitol.jpg]

Editor's note: Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.

Julian E. Zelizer

Special to CNN

As the White House and Senate Democrats move toward Sen. Max Baucus' compromise on health care, there is a growing sense among Democrats that the political power of conservatism remains much stronger than some observers believed after Barack Obama's victory in November 2008.

The White House has sent strong signals that the president is willing to abandon key components of the legislation that liberals have demanded, such as the public option, and to work with Baucus, whose proposal is far less ambitious than what other Democrats, including the president, have been pushing for.

With Republicans lined up against the administration, centrist Democrats insisting on big reductions in the scale of the program and public support for Democratic health care proposals having fallen, some of the president's top advisers have concluded that now is the time to settle for what they can get rather than walk away with nothing.

The struggles with health care came as a surprise to some Democrats who felt that after the 2008 election, the era of conservatism had ended. President George W. Bush finished his presidency with historically low approval ratings. Democrats had won control of Congress and the White House, with a presidential candidate who did not shy away from liberal causes such as the need to pass comprehensive health care reform.

Keep reading...

September 21st, 2009
09:23 AM ET

McChrystal: More Forces in Afghanistan or 'Mission Failure'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/16/afghanistan.obama/art.afghanistan.afp.gi.jpg]

Bob Woodward
Washington Post

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure," according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: "Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) - while Afghan security capacity matures - risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible."

His assessment was sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Aug. 30 and is now being reviewed by President Obama and his national security team.

McChrystal concludes the document's five-page Commander's Summary on a note of muted optimism: "While the situation is serious, success is still achievable."

But he repeatedly warns that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat is likely. McChrystal describes an Afghan government riddled with corruption and an international force undermined by tactics that alienate civilians.

He provides extensive new details about the Taliban insurgency, which he calls a muscular and sophisticated enemy that uses modern propaganda and systematically reaches into Afghanistan's prisons to recruit members and even plan operations.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan
September 21st, 2009
09:15 AM ET
September 21st, 2009
09:00 AM ET
September 21st, 2009
08:46 AM ET
September 21st, 2009
08:08 AM ET

Dear President Obama #245: Just another manic Monday...

Reporter's Note: President Obama did a little speed dating over the weekend, giving interviews to almost all the major TV news operations. I was pretty busy myself, but still found time to write my daily letters to the White House. Look, here’s one!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/20/john.king.monday.memo/art.obama.king.cnn.jpg caption="President Obama interviewed by John King on CNN's Sunday morning show, State of the Union."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Sometimes it seems as if I just can’t get everything done that I plan for the weekend before the work bell rings again. You must feel the same way, especially after your round robin of talk shows this weekend. I’m not utterly convinced that was a great idea because the reports that followed focused primarily on A) Why did you do it? And B) Did you get into any trouble in the process? Don’t fret too much about that. Much of it is just the nature of my profession. I know that people always say they want more positive news, but the simple truth is if we report that a president gave a series of interviews over the weekend and everything was peaches and cream, no one will pay any attention. So most of my media brethren tend to focus on what went wrong, or might have gone wrong, or will go wrong if we poke it with a sharp stick long enough.

As a result, the headline that jumped out to me most seemed to be the one where you said even if the economy rebounds solidly, joblessness could remain a serious problem well into next year. I know that is something that people don’t much want to hear in the unemployment lines, and you can’t blame them. I also know that it is terribly, dishearteningly, and painfully true. Every projection I’ve seen says the jobs will be slow in returning.


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