November 25th, 2009
01:36 PM ET

Obama to attend climate-change summit

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President Obama will go to Copenhagen, Denmark, next month for a climate-change summit, the White House said Wednesday.

According to a news release, Obama is prepared to set a goal of reducing emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade.

The White House also reiterated Obama's goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 83 percent by 2050.

The targets come from a climate-change bill passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate has yet to pass the bill, so the United States has not committed itself to any binding goals.

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November 25th, 2009
12:25 PM ET
November 25th, 2009
12:17 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Economic calendar stuffed for Thanksgiving

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Wave after wave of economic data washed ashore this morning as the government compresses its weekly calendar ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

First up, the number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell by 35,000 to 466,000 last week, the lowest level in 14 months.

Continuing claims also fell sharply - by 190,000 to 5.42 million – to the lowest level since February. FULL POST

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance
November 25th, 2009
12:09 PM ET

50on50: Thanksgiving Day Marathon Runners Trample 18-49 Demo!


Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

With just a day to go before the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Marathon & Half Marathon, I spent some time at the event’s Runner’s Expo. I’m happy to report, the huge community of long distance runners is trampling the 18-49 demo worshippers. Virtually everything I learned at the Runner’s Expo left the idea of an 18-49 audience demo in the dust.

The Older I Get The Faster I Was

I wish I had thought of that line. “The older I get the faster I was.” It was on a t-shirt at the Runner's Expo.

But the lesson I learned from the expert runners and coaches at the runner’s expo was that, for the 50+ crowd, speed doesn’t really matter. Health does. The joy of running does. But not competing for the best time against others. It’s about finishing your run, injury free.

What Pace Means

I was introduced to Atlanta Track Club Coach Andy Carr, who started running in 1972 after watching American runner Frank Shorter win the Munich Olympics - (when running shorts were Shorter.) Coach Carr was talking to me about the importance of pace. I started getting self-conscious because, as I reported yesterday I apparently don’t even run fast enough in the rain for the rain to sting my face. I’m a little sensitive to my slow speed. And here was Coach Carr talking about the importance of PACE.

Then Coach Carr explained that by “pace” he didn’t mean “fast.” He meant pace yourself, as in, don’t go burn up the road and burn out. Long distance running means “listening to your body.” That’s a phrase you hear a lot at a runner’s expo. Listen to your body.

Listening To Your Body

It’s tough to listen to your body when you’re listening to your IPod. Running to U-2s “It’s a Beautiful Day” can drown out what you’re body’s telling you. Sometimes I wonder if my body could be shutting down while the music of Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir keeps my legs moving all the way to heaven. So I may need to rethink running with my IPod. Maybe it’s not so safe for a runner to do the “IPod Shuffle.”

Beat Your PR

Coach Carr, by the way, is 46. He’s nearing the end of “the demo.” He’s already, as he puts it, “on the other side.” That’s on the other side of competitive running. His competitive streak now has one main target. Beating his PR.

PR? I heard that term a few times at the Runner’s Expo. Public Relations? Puerto Rico? No. Personal Record. When you approach the end of the 18-49 demo you get wise. You’re still competitive. But you know the value of self-improvement. Beat your PR.

How Old Are You Now?

In some ways, the runner who gave me the most ammunition to destroy the despicable 18-49 demo worshippers was the calmest, most peaceful, comfortable- in-his-own-skin person I met at The Expo. His name is Greg Sheats. He’s out of the demo. But he’s in the zone.

Greg ran on his high school and college track teams. Now he runs for pure pleasure. When I asked him how old he was he surprised me with the answer. 52. (He doesn’t look anywhere near 52.) Then he added this spontaneous reflection.

“If I Did Not Know How Old I Was I Would Not Know How Old I Was.”

I Googled that line and came up with zero results. It was an original, spontaneous thought. Sheats said: “I don’t think age is relevant to my quality of life and outlook.” He was speaking from the heart. And his heart helped give me heart, to pursue my campaign against the absurd category of 18-49.

Sheats’ observations gave me a strong lead to defining what I call “A New Demo for a New Age.”™

Sheats is a senior employee at a running shoe company. His longest run of the week is Sunday mornings. He doesn’t keep track of his distance or speed. He just runs for two hours. He can’t run longer on Sunday morning, because he goes to Church. Two hours of running gets him to the church on time.

The Ultimate Demo?

I asked him what his company’s target demo is. “Well,” he explained, “because of the nature of physical fitness, with walking, running, everything in between, our demo is - “18-75.” VICTORY. The Runner’s Demo – people who can keep running when many younger people would surrender - is 18-to-75. Hmm, seems 18-49 misses a few healthy consumers, to say the least. Wait, it gets better.

As Greg thought about it, these words calmly crossed the finish line of our interview.

“The World is Our Demo,” he stated softly.

THAT’S IT! THE WORLD IS OUR DEMO!™ Another original phrase from Greg Sheats that did not appear in the results of a Google search. I’m putting a protective tm on it – on Greg’s behalf. It’s for him. Not for me. I will use his new trademarked World is Our Demo™ thought to help destroy the 18-49 demo.

You TV execs who still worship old conventional wisdom – you ad men and women who still pursue the 18-49ers as if it’s a meaningful category – you can’t handle The World is Our Demo.™ It’s too much for you. Forget about it. Forget Greg Sheats ever said it. Forget that I passed it on in this column. You stick to 18-49 and see where it leads you. Greg and I are heading in a broader direction. We’re identifying a healthier, more active, more influential audience. The world is our demo.™ Good luck to you!

Being Inclusive

Those of you who are between the ages of 18-49, please don’t get me wrong. You’re not being cut out of A New Demo for a New Age.™ The new demo is inclusive. You can be part of it.

As long as you can keep up with those of us “on the other side.”

Filed under: 360° Radar
November 25th, 2009
10:43 AM ET

A few stumbles, but a very good start: A review of the first Obama State Dinner

Reporter’s note: President and Mrs. Obama have hosted their first State Dinner, and like all great openings, it deserves a review.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Under a glass-ceilinged tent on the South Lawn, a low-tech marvel that would set Gaddafi’s eyes ablaze, White House movers gathered with their shakers (salt and pepper, among them!) for the first official State Dinner last night. Was it a success? Let’s break it down.

The only place to start is at the beginning, with the entrances. There is something stilted and odd about formal introductions of arrivals at a party these days. Just to hear the names boomed out to a waiting phalanx of reporters and photographers makes it seems as if members of a 17th century French court are going to come flouncing in amid the clatter of carriages, with halos of powder arising from their wigs.

That said, the fortunate guests dutifully played along; Walking in one door, pausing briefly at a piece of tape stuck to the floor in the prime photography position (not unlike those “picture spots” so apparent at theme parks,) either avoiding all the shouted questions about their attire or merely shrugging them off with a, “This old thing? Why I found it in the back of the closet. It must be twenty years old!” as if they sit down to meat loaf and beans with the First Family every Tuesday night, right after bowling league.

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Most nervous entrance: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who sprinted through like Usain Bolt. Most good humored: Energy Secretary Steven Chu. He and his wife somehow wound up going the wrong way, as if they were fleeing the dinner as opposed to arriving. He laughed it off as the mistake became apparent; she curtsied and pirouetted back into the proper direction. Best smile: Our own Sanjay Gupta who looked much happier being a dinner guest than he likely would have been if that whole Surgeon General gig had played out.

And of course, the guest list had plenty of the big names that always add heft to an affair. Spielberg, Clinton, Pelosi, Powell, Couric, Williams, Bloomberg, and an ocean of others. Enough said of that crowd. They were supporting cast and did it well.

The First Couple’s entrance with the Prime Minister of India and his wife, was all that it should be for a presidential promenade. The music was formal, the announcement grand, and of course, the dress: Though I greatly admire women’s fashions, I’m often left flat by other reviewers who needlessly gush over an unimaginative frock merely because it is the work of some famous designer, and is draped over the shoulders of someone famous.

That said, Michelle Obama’s strapless, Champagne-colored dress really was lovely. Simple, elegant lines, with enough shimmering silver sequins to add the magic. She wore it well, and set off against the president’s straightforward tux, it looked like everything one could want in classic First Lady fashion for a big night. It was, by the way, a diplomatic dress too; the design work of Indian-born Naeem Khan. Throw in the armload of Indian bangle bracelets she wore, and the look was perfect.

The menu was suitably respectful of the guests of honor’s vegetarian tastes. Heavy on the potatoes, chick peas, okra, and arugula; light on the heartier fare. The heaviest it got was the prawns and the pumpkin pie tart. In fairness, the media didn’t get a taste, so heaven knows what it was really like, although one could argue it was not hugely inspired. Too much political correctness, not enough pancetta and sauce, I say. Frankly I suspect the china, from the Eisenhower, Clinton, and G.W. Bush years was the most interesting thing on the table for many diners.

Not that they could see it that well. At least from the camera’s point of view, it seemed a shade too dark for the guests to adequately eyeball each other or the beautifully decorated tent. Note to White House staff: Seeing and being seen only works if, well, you can see.

President Obama’s toast was well-said, hopeful and diplomatically short; as was the responding toast of the Prime Minister. Good for them both.

Jennifer Hudson was an excellent choice for the entertainment, but in a curious departure from the president’s much bally-hooed pledge of transparency; her act was entirely shielded from the public camera’s view, and even the much-less-interesting Marvin Hamlisch with the National Symphony Orchestra (Please…what was this? The overture to another revival of Oklahoma at the Roundabout Theater of Tucson?) was made available to the TV cameras for only a short two minutes. So sadly, all we can say about the entertainment is that we hope it was entertaining. Bad form, Pan. We, the taxpayers, picked up the tab, but were unceremoniously hustled from the room before the fun began. Oh well.

Still, the Obama White House, which has clunked a few times in matters of pageantry, overall brought a wonderful sense of style and grace to what will no doubt be the first of many such evenings over the next few years, and for a few hours the howling of the economy and the rumbling storm of international discontent seemed as distant as the cloud covered stars overhead.

Out of five, give it four stars as a very promising start; and hustle to grab that next invitation should it come your way.

Filed under: 360° Radar
November 25th, 2009
07:00 AM ET

David's guide to surviving Thanksgiving

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David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Publishing

Those of you outside the U.S. might not be aware of a little tradition we have here: Thanksgiving. According to our grade school classes, Thanksgiving is a holiday that came about when those wacky Pilgrims finally had a bountiful harvest, held a celebration, and gave thanks.

The historical reality is far more unclear, and very definitely subject to interpretation. A quick Google search of "thanksgiving" and "meaning" turns up more stuff than you'd believe.

Besides, nobody cares. Thanksgiving isn't about Pilgrims. The whole Pilgrim/Mayflower/Indian story serves merely as the MacGuffin that gives us our day of glorious gluttony.

In America, Thanksgiving means parades, football, families, and food. The last two, of course, are the challenge, and here's where my very short survival guide comes in.

I, like most folks, have fond memories of family Thanksgiving celebrations. But for years, they somewhat overwhelmed me. Often, we'd be joined by far-flung relatives whose names I couldn't remember. There'd be hugs from old people who shouldn't be allowed to hug without first getting a safety certification. And while there was plenty of food, there was never pizza.


Filed under: 360° Radar • David Gewirtz • Thanksgiving
November 25th, 2009
06:57 AM ET

Dear President Obama #310: Now playing: Get smart

Reporter's Note: President Obama is perhaps sleeping in late after that big dinner at the White House last night. Me? Well, I’m turning out another letter to Pennsylvania Avenue. Hopefully the clean up crews won’t hinder its progress.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

In all the excitement over your first State Dinner, I failed to mention this whole new initiative of yours about math and science for the school kids, or as your team calls it, the Educate to Innovate Campaign. I must say, right from the get go, that the title is kind of lame. I can just see the table of bureaucratic hacks that cranked that one out. Sure, it kind of rhymes and sounds like it ought to mean something. But what? I guess it means we’re going to educate our children so they can innovate for the future, but I thought we were already supposed to be doing that. Well, maybe it will be like The Sopranos. Lousy title, great program.

I certainly hope so. I don’t know about all those comparisons that you were making with other countries and how they educate their kids, because with all respect I’ve been hearing for many years how much better other folks do these things, and yet we’ve remained a pretty dynamic force in the world. Still, I understand this is about maintaining that position (because heaven knows the Chinese are not just sitting around waiting for us to remain in charge) so anything that encourages not simply more…but better quality education for our young people is a pretty sure winner.

I don’t think it’s a big mystery what we need: Good teachers, attentive parents, enough money to make it worth all the hard work, and enough hard work to make it worth all the money. Let’s hope this program helps push it all that way.


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