October 9th, 2009
05:20 PM ET

U.S.-Pakistan relationship like uneasy marriage

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Elise Labott

CNN State Department Producer

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the rounds in Washington just as President Obama's national security team shifted its attention to Pakistan.

This week Secretary of Defense Williams Gates called the Afghan border with Pakistan the "epicenter of jihad." And the renewed focus on Pakistan suggests that Obama has a new role for Pakistan in the battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

After all, in developing a strategy for "Afpak," Obama acknowledged the United States cannot win in Afghanistan without cooperation from Pakistan, the suspected hideout of Obama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders.

Which is why the buzzword of both Qureshi and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week was "partnership," as in the United States and Pakistan are united in a "strategic partnership" against a common enemy.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Elise Labott • Hillary Clinton • Pakistan • Robert Gates
October 9th, 2009
05:18 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Stocks hit new highs for the year

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/18/consumer.agency.fight/art.creditcard.gi.jpg caption="Congress is considering a new agency designed to give consumers more protection."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Stocks rallied at the end of a strong week, with the Dow and S&P 500 hitting their highest levels in more than a year as investors extended a seven-month rally.

At the close, the Dow added 78 points, the Nasdaq gained 15 points and the S&P 500 tacked on 6 points.

The Dow gained in four of five sessions this week and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained in all five as investors dove back into the market after a two-week selloff.

The week was peppered with upbeat news on both the economic and global fronts, which helped lessen concerns that the stock market has gotten too far ahead of a recovery.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Barack Obama • Economy • General Motors • stocks
October 9th, 2009
05:01 PM ET

To vaccinate or not? Some wary on H1N1 choice

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/10/09/h1n1.vaccine.skepticism/art.peterson.swine.flu.courtesy.jpg caption="Mary Peterson's daughters, 3 and 1, will not be getting the new vaccine, she said."]

Elizabeth Landau

Mary Peterson of Des Moines, Washington, doesn't believe the vaccine for the novel H1N1 flu has been studied enough to get it for herself and her daughters, who are 1 and 3 years old.

"I wrestled with it," she said. "I think the side of caution in this case is just waiting until we have more information."

Peterson is one of many parents who are discussing - whether in real life or on Twitter - their skepticism of the vaccine. The vaccine is being distributed as an intranasal spray this week, and will arrive next week in injection form, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, earlier this week.

The CDC and other public health authorities say the new vaccine is safe, and are encouraging everyone to get it, especially those in high risk groups. But experts acknowledge that many people struggle with the decision.

"I bet half the people in the country have concerns," Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the "Dr. Oz Show" and professor of surgery at Columbia University, told CNN's Anderson Cooper earlier this week.

Keep reading...

Filed under: H1N1 • Medical News • Parenting
October 9th, 2009
03:39 PM ET

Obama's Nobel Prize: an unorthodox move

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/10/09/nobel.peace.prize/art.jagland.obama.afp.gi.jpg caption="Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee Thorbjorn Jagland holds a picture of President Obama."]

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama is so unorthodox that it almost leaves one speechless. Even so, a few thoughts seem in order:

First, all Americans should join in celebrating this award to our president and congratulate him for the way he has inspired millions of citizens across the globe. Whatever one may think about Obama’s policies and politics, it is a special occasion when the Nobel Prize Committee recognizes the work and the dream of an American. We celebrate Americans who win prizes in medicine, science, and economics, and so too should we celebrate those who win for peace. It is churlish for some to attack the President and the Nobel Prize Committee today.

Second, it is clear that Barack Obama has not yet climbed the mountains that his predecessors had when they won their Peace Prizes. A Nobel was awarded to Martin Luther King, Jr. after the March on Washington, not before. Both of the two sitting presidents who won the Nobel Peace Prize previously, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, were recognized after they had achieved substantial accomplishments. It is widely understood in the United States, even in the Obama White House, that his major accomplishments remain ahead, not behind. Just last weekend, Saturday Night Live stirred politicos with its parody of Obama, claiming he has accomplished nothing. That went too far, but it was suggestive of the country’s mood.

Third, a critical question will be how this award influences President Obama’s leadership in international affairs in the years ahead. His critics should recognize that it will strengthen his diplomatic hand, and that could be a distinct benefit for US foreign policy. Soft power, as we have learned, is often as potent as hard power in today’s world. By equal measures, the President’s supporters should recognize that there is a possible downside to this award. As much as we want a president who is a peacemaker, we also want someone who is tough enough to stand up for American interests in a dangerous world. As the President makes decisions on critical issues like Afghanistan, he may be tempted to play to some of the peacenik tendencies that we have sometimes seen in Western Europe and elsewhere. This would be wrong. He has a larger and more serious set of responsibilities in keeping America and the world safe. It is worth remembering that the American Eagle, which is embedded in the Presidential seal, holds a branch of peace in one talon but carries a fistful of arrows in the other.

October 9th, 2009
03:07 PM ET

Obama wins one for America

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/09/us.nobel.presidents/art.obama.pool.jpg caption="President Obama delivers remarks at the White House on Friday after winning the Nobel Peace Prize."]

Paul Begala
CNN Contributor

When President Obama received word that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize, I'll bet he felt a little like I did the first time Diane Friday, the smartest, prettiest girl at the University of Texas, kissed me: I didn't fully feel like I deserved it, but I sure wasn't going to turn it down.

For an American president to win the Nobel Peace Prize can only be good for the U.S. The Republican right needs to understand that and not repeat its performance of last week.

When America lost the Olympics, right-wingers cheered. They cheered a defeat for America; now watch them boo a victory for America. Bad manners, guys. If you pride yourself on being a super-patriot, you really ought to root for America.

Why did the Nobel committee give the peace prize to someone who hasn't even been in office for a year? Perhaps to move Obama as he ponders a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. Perhaps to encourage the parties in the Middle East peace process. Perhaps to strengthen Obama's hand as he rallies the civilized world to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Democrats • Republicans
October 9th, 2009
12:01 PM ET

If you can read this, you may be late for work

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

During the second George Bush presidency, when the economy started its long trip over the falls in a barrel, there was a joke: “The President says he’s creating jobs and I know it must be true. I’ve got three of them!”

I don’t know who came up with that one, but it could have been any of the millions of people who were underemployed. Underemployment is the evil twin of unemployment. Many of the underemployed have jobs, but often for far fewer hours a week than they might want or at much lower skill and pay levels than they have earned. We’ve all heard the chilling, albeit apocryphal, tales of accountants waiting tables, and doctors driving cabs. (Although trust me, the cabbie I had last week was no brain surgeon.) People who have given up looking for work also swell the ranks of the underemployed.

And the underemployment rate is staggering: 17 percent last month. It has soared like an Iranian test missile over the past two years, and is now much worse than it was the last time the economy tanked. The insidious effects are touching virtually every sector of the economy in ways that can sometimes be even worse than straight joblessness.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Tom Foreman • Unemployment
October 9th, 2009
11:55 AM ET

The view from Egypt: Jumping the gun on the peace prize?

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Ben Wedeman
CNN Correspondent

When President Barack Obama came to Cairo in June and made his address to the Muslim world, reaction in Egypt was wildly positive.

Many Egyptians had fallen in love with the new young American president with an Arabic middle name. Some even picked up the "Yes we can" slogan.

His appeal was fueled by an almost unanimous dislike for his predecessor, George W. Bush, widely perceived in the region as a Christian fundamentalist leading an anti-Muslim crusade.

But that was then. Euphoria has a short shelf life in the Middle East, and Barack Obama is not exempt.

To gauge reaction among Egyptian intellectuals to the news, I called Hisham Qassim, a democracy and human rights activist I've known for many years. He was perplexed at the news from Norway.

Keep reading...

October 9th, 2009
11:27 AM ET
October 9th, 2009
11:18 AM ET

No Substitute for Boots on the Ground

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/09/16/us.troops.afghanistan.camouflage/art.afghanistan.camo.afp.gi.jpg caption="General McChrystal calls the Obama administration for the deployment of more troops in Afghanistan"]
Vincent G. Heintz
The Wall Street Journal

In 2008 I commanded a team of U.S. Army combat advisers in northern Afghanistan's remote Chahar Darreh district. We patrolled with about 50 Afghan police troopers, conducting ambushes, reconnaissance, law-enforcement tasks and reconstruction.

These missions had one purpose: to build trust between the police and the people and thereby isolate the insurgents moving among them. Some Afghan troopers were thieves and Taliban infiltrators. Most served with honor and courage.

A growing chorus of Americans rejects operations of this kind. Opposition has hardened in response to Gen. Stanley McChrystal's call to launch a fully resourced counterinsurgency effort.

Naturally, the peaceniks want us to leave Afghanistan altogether. Other opponents of the McChrystal plan urge President Barack Obama to select a safer, cheaper cleaner method of defeating al Qaeda. Some conservative isolationists, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, argue that we should rely on commando raids and missile strikes to zap terrorist targets from afar, thereby sparing infantrymen like us the risks that go with living among the Afghans. Tellingly, the Biden camp has yet to offer any details about the sources of real-time intelligence needed to execute precision strikes, or the locations of the bases from which they would be launched.


Filed under: 360° Radar
October 9th, 2009
11:15 AM ET

Picking up the pieces in Indonesia

Editor's Note: At least 608 people were killed in Indonesia following two devastating earthquakes last week. Hundreds are still missing and authorities fear the death toll will climb as more bodies are found in the rubble.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/07/art.indonesia.earthquake.rubble.jpg caption="Most of the homes in Singai Pingai were damaged or destroyed the the earthquake. Families now are bust salvaging what they can from the rubble."]

Allison Zelkowitz
Program Manager, Save the Children in Indonesia

Blog entry, October 8, 2009, 1:30 am

Four more Save the Children staff arrived at our field office this afternoon in Pariaman district. I’m so glad they’re here! We’re now 16 people strong, allowing us to send more distribution teams to villages in need of help. Today one team focused on assessing new villages, and another team continued to distribute shelter materials, hygiene kits and household supplies – we’ve reached over 11,000 people, including about 6,600 children, in the last four days.

My team has traveled back toward Lake Maninjau, near some of the worst destruction, in search of a house and a warehouse to rent, so we can establish a new field office and reach children and families more quickly.

Nearly every road in this area is lined with people asking for donations. The worst part about this is that many of them are children. Not only are they at risk of getting hit by passing cars and motorbikes, but they’re also learning that asking for handouts is normal and necessary. And yet, what options do poor families and communities have? With their houses in ruins, and livelihoods lost, how else are they supposed to cope? Some people are picking up the pieces – they’re clearing away the rubble, arranging all their belongings under carefully hung tarps, and building tent communities with neighbors. But others seem to be just . . . waiting. Today I saw an old man sitting on a bench, staring at the road, surrounded by nothing but the debris of his small home. How long will he be able to wait?


Filed under: 360° Radar • Impact Your World • Weather
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