November 3rd, 2009
03:01 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Buffett’s biggest bet yet

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/08/02/ford.gain/art.ford.vehicles.gi.jpg caption="General Motors, Ford Motor and Nissan reported that their sales were up from a year ago. "]
Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

It’s a busy day on the deal front, and it starts with Warren Buffet’s big bet on the future of the United States.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is buying railroad operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $44 billion, in what he characterizes as an "all-in wager on the economic future of the United States."

Berkshire, which already has major stake in the company, will acquire the remaining 77.4% of the company in a cash-and-stock offer worth $100 per share. FULL POST

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Finance
November 3rd, 2009
02:48 PM ET

Dear President Obama #288: The only three things to watch in tonight's election

Reporter's Note: Presidents almost always have something riding on every election, and tonight will be no exception. But President Obama is a busy man; so I’ve made my daily letter into a viewing guide of sorts for the festivities.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/02/art.obama1102.gi.jpg caption="President Barack Obama warned Monday that more job losses should be expected in the months ahead."]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

If you are wondering about the pervasive smell of hair gel and makeup wafting around Capitol Hill today, it’s coming from the political punditry crowd preening and polishing for tonight’s big event. As you know, they get all lathered up over almost any kind of election, even one of these off-year Punch and Judy shows. I’m not that interested. Some folks will win, some others will lose, everyone will sit around those TV fern bars we call studios hashing out the meaning, and by midnight we’ll all lapse into comas. And tomorrow, it will be politics as usual.

So let me save some time for you. Here are the only things you need to watch for tonight.

1) A sudden and surprising rise of the Bull Moose Party. Sure they’ve been laying low since the early 1900’s, but you never know.

2) Ralph Nader. If you have any trouble with this one, give Al Gore a call. He’ll explain, but you might have to listen to a lot of cursing in the process.


November 3rd, 2009
02:33 PM ET
November 3rd, 2009
02:00 PM ET

50on50: The velvet rope social network


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Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

Let me begin with my Facebook status update: I JUST PUT ON MY PANTS. THEY FIT WELL.

There are two silent reactions my friends on Facebook might have. Which one do you think is more likely:

a) I really trust Michael's opinion. I wonder what brand of pants he's wearing today, where he bought them, and how much they cost. Does he have a recommendation for a good dry cleaners?
b) Has Facebook stolen my friend Michael's brain?

The more likely answer is b.

So many of us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites feel this way. We try to limit our Friending requests to people we know, or have reason to respect. Intelligent people. People with important or funny or original things to say or pass on. And then they go and ruin it by sending out messages that sound like they've been written by a body snatcher.

Now, not all our Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers do this. A number of mine focus primarily on introducing our social network to ideas, places, people and events we would benefit from knowing about.


Filed under: Michael Schulder • Opinion
November 3rd, 2009
01:41 PM ET

Maine's same-sex marriage vote generates buzz on Twitter

Program Note: Tune in tonight for Randi Kaye's report on Maine's Question 1 ballot issue. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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In Maine today, voters will decide whether or not to repeal a state law that would allow same-sex couples to marry. Both sides are expecting a razor thin margin of victory and early polling shows it’s too close to call. People from all over the country are watching out for the results, and donating money to try to influence it.

Eighty-three percent of the money for the campaign against same-sex marriage has come from the Roman Catholic Church and the Mormon-backed National Organization for Marriage. Supporters of same-sex marriage are ahead in contributions, with a great deal of support coming from individual donors in California, where activists hope to overturn Proposition 8.

The momentum is building on Twitter today. #Maine is one of the top 10 topics trending on Twitter.

Check out the Twitter traffic related to this topic here and let us know what you think!

Filed under: 360° Radar • Same-Sex Marriage • Twitter
November 3rd, 2009
01:33 PM ET

Black men in the age of President Obama

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Spike Lee
For Essence.com

Barack Obama's intelligence and knowledge is vast. He's understanding, he's generous. These are all things that not just Black men, but any human being can benefit from. But when he was elected, I think a lot of people, not just Black folks, felt life with an African-American president was going to be presto chango! I'm not taking about the economy, but racism. Many felt we were entering a post-racial climate, which I think is the biggest crock ever. As a people, we have to understand Barack has to be President for the United States of America. It's unprecedented what he's doing. He's on uncharted waters. He needs our support, he needs our prayers, he needs our help in moving forward.

Barack has a definite influence on young boys. I see it with my own eyes with my 12-year-old son Jackson. If we're at a dinner and someone says something critical of Barack, he stands up at the table and defends him. Jackson's not having it! He'll say, What do you want him to do? He's doing his job! Leave him alone. He's proud of his president. We can't even estimate now the influence Barack will have on young Black boys, or the influence of Sasha and Malia. They're going to have a great effect on young Black girls too.

Keep Reading...

November 3rd, 2009
01:13 PM ET

Thinking about 'News' – The global sex trade vs. boys in balloons

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/02/16/un.trafficking/art.streetscene.cnn.jpg caption="Aid agencies say young women are being forced into prostitution around the world – including Russia's capital."]

Tanya M. Acker
AC360° Contributor

At the Women’s Conference hosted by Governor Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver last week, I listened to Somaly Mam, a human rights activist who has made the liberation of girls from sex slavery her life’s work, describe her experience of being sold into sex slavery in Cambodia at 10 or 12-years-old. (Ms. Mam did not know exactly how old she was when she was first imprisoned in the brothel, as she lost all conception of time during her confinement.)

She talked about the fact that child sex slaves are raped sometimes 20 to 30 times a day and also described the horror of watching her best friend murdered, an event which ultimately prompted her to attempt a successful escape.

I then heard Ms. Mam and Nicholas Kristof describe the widespread tragedy that is the global sex trade in girls and how in many cases, as these girls are valued by their brothel masters at only a few hundred dollars a person, those brothel owners often think it efficient to execute the “recalcitrants” publicly in order to send a lesson to the others.

And then, as I listened to Lisa Ling correctly point out that much of what passes for “news” these days consists of talking heads yelling at one another, I thought about how, as one of those talking heads, I have spent more time arguing with right wing anchors about such inanities as whether the President is simultaneously a socialist and fascist who wants to impose his own version of martial law, than I have discussing the plight of these girls.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Tanya Acker • Women's Issues
November 3rd, 2009
01:00 PM ET

Video: Biden a key part of Obama's inner circle

Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

Apparently you can take the vice president out of the Senate, but you just can't take the Senate out of the vice president, and that might be the secret to Joe Biden's influence in President Obama's inner circle.

As I waited Friday in the ornate rooms of the old Department of War near Biden's office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House, I kept wondering which Biden was going to show up for our exclusive interview.

Would it be the old Joe that I used to cover as the Senate correspondent for Roll Call newspaper many years ago, who would throw an arm around me in a Capitol hallway and be happy to give a - let's face it - fairly long answer about any subject I'd throw at him?

Biden had this habit of dropping flattery as well as a reporter's name into the answers for familiarity in his gosh-darn-it manner: "Look Ed, I'm literally not just blowing smoke, but you know as much about the Bush tax cuts as I do. ..."

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Afghanistan • Joe Biden • President Barack Obama
November 3rd, 2009
12:45 PM ET

An open letter to President Obama: Where is the war on Afghanistan’s heroin trade?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/09/02/afghanistan.un.opium.harvest/art.poppy.fields.afp.gi.jpg caption="Afghan police officers use tractors to destroy poppy crops in Helmand province earlier this year."]

Ivan Sanchez
Author, Youth Advocate and Public Speaker

I recall sitting down with my young daughters after the tragic events of September 11th 2001, to speak to them about my desire to join the military.

There was a war on terror being launched, and it was fittingly called Operation Enduring Freedom.

With an inexplicable coldness in my heart and an intensity for justice running through my veins, I envisioned myself making someone pay for the attack on my country… on my home.

Coalition forces from America, Europe, Canada, Australia and later NATO troops were all headed to Afghanistan with the mission of capturing Osama Bin Laden.

It was a mission that to this day has never been completed.

As I sat on the sofa watching the tears fall from my daughters' faces – in fear that their father would leave and never return home, I realized that my destiny wasn’t to follow that age-old adage of; “an eye for an eye,” for the truth is that always ends up leaving everyone blind in the end.


November 3rd, 2009
12:42 PM ET

Video: Races with big implications

Candy Crowley
CNN Senior Political Correspondent

Filed under: Candy Crowley • Democrats • Republicans
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