December 4th, 2009
04:19 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/04/09

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

(Getty Images) US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Santa Claus during The 2009 National Christmas Tree Lighting on December 03, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.


Elise Miller

"Wait a minute, Mr. Salahi, is that you?"


Pam, Syracuse

"Sure Santa, Desiree Rogers is available to check your list."

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 4th, 2009
04:16 PM ET

Heads you win, tails I lose

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Back in junior high gym class when wrestling was on the agenda, there was no more frightening foe than the hulking Gooch McFeeney. You knew from the moment that he lumbered to the mat, dropped the beef shank he’d been gnawing on, and squinted his grizzly bear eyes, that you had no chance of winning.

But by running around, shrieking like a cheerleader every time he landed a hairy paw, and frantically squirming at least one shoulder into the air each time he went for the pin, you could delay losing for quite a while. Go on long enough, Gooch would tire, and maybe you would not have to lose at all.

It is a peculiar characteristic of sports, chess, and arguments with your spouse, that winning is much tougher than merely not losing. “Winning” requires aggressive, focused, and tenacious effort. “Not losing” just requires holding on.


Filed under: Opinion • Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
December 4th, 2009
03:49 PM ET

Job creation? Look to entrepreneurs

Amy M. Wilkinson
Special to CNN

It's the oldest trick in the political playbook: Call together a "summit" of fancy people so you'll appear to be focused on work that must get done.

Thursday, the White House convened CEOs from companies such as Boeing, AT&T, Comcast and Dow Corning, top leaders of the United Steelworkers, United Food and Commercial Workers, American Federation of Teachers unions, Ivy League academics and a few small-business representatives to brainstorm how the country might generate much-needed jobs.

A schmooze-fest is nice, but the hard work of putting America back to work will be done by entrepreneurs, not the leaders of the biggest companies in the nation and the heads of big unions.

The mom-and-pop shops, garage start-ups and small businesses across the country will put Americans back on the payroll. According to the Census Bureau, nearly all net job creation in the U.S. since 1980 has been generated by firms operating less than five years.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Economy • Unemployment
December 4th, 2009
12:26 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Glimmers of hope despite high unemployment

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/03/04/aa.speeding.ticket/art.aa.sppeding.ticket.jpg caption="Speeders doing more than 85mph in Georgia will soon pay an additional $200 in fines."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Today we received the best news on the jobs front that we’ve had in about two years.

The job market showed signs of stabilizing in November as employers trimmed the fewest jobs of any month since the start of the recession, and the unemployment rate posted the biggest one-month decline in more than three years.

Still, today’s number brings job losses since the start of 2008 to 7.2 million. Additionally, 15.4 million Americans are now unemployed and seeking work. Another 6 million want jobs, but are not counted as part of the labor force because they have stopped looking. FULL POST

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance
December 4th, 2009
11:55 AM ET

Interactive: Non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan


Even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss fresh troop contributions for Afghanistan, NATO allies are already discussing how to hand the country back to Afghanistan.

In the wake of President Obama's announcement that the U.S. will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, NATO spokesman James Appathurai says the alliance already has commitments from other members for at least 5,000 troops. Other officials from NATO and ISAF put the figure closer to 7,000 based on promises made in private, but not yet announced.

A major concern among NATO allies is how the additional troops will create conditions where Afghanistan will be ready to protect itself. Appathurai cited a “significant shortfall” of trainers to train Afghan army and police, a key component in stabilizing the country. Without help from NATO allies to train those forces, he said it will be harder to make the transition to Afghan control by the July 2011 drawdown of U.S. forces announced by Obama. Supplying trainers and other resources to build the Afghan army and police force could also provide an alternative to some countries reluctant to send more combat troops.

Go here to keep reading and get the facts on Afghanistan and the war.

Filed under: Afghanistan
December 4th, 2009
11:34 AM ET

Fate of Amanda Knox, former boyfriend now in the hands of Italian jury

Amanda Knox is comforted by her lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova during her trial on December 3, 2009 at the courthouse in Perugia.


Richard Allen Greene and Hada Messia

An Italian jury has begun deliberations in the murder trial of American student Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

"We'll know today," Chris Mellas, Knox's stepfather told CNN in court. "All we can do is hope for the best."

On Thursday Knox took the stand for a third time, telling jurors in her Italian murder trial she is not a "killer" who stabbed her former roommate.

Knox and Sollecito are charged with murder and sexual violence in the November 2007 stabbing death of Meredith Kercher. Knox and Kercher, a British exchange student, were roommates. A third suspect was found guilty in a separate trial and is appealing.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Crime & Punishment
December 4th, 2009
11:12 AM ET

Job market shows big improvement

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/04/job.chart.imp.jpg width=292 height=320]

Chris Isidore
CNNMoney.com senior writer

The long-suffering U.S. jobs market improved significantly in November, as employers trimmed the fewest jobs of any month since the start of the recession, and the unemployment rate posted the biggest one-month decline in more than three years.

U.S. payrolls slipped 11,000 jobs in the month, far below any of the job losses posted over the last 23 months. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 125,000 jobs in November.

The October and September job loss estimates were also revised sharply lower, trimming previous job loss estimates by 159,000 between them.

The new reading put October job losses at 111,000 jobs, and September's loss estimate was cut to 139,000. Each of those new estimates would have been the smallest declines in more than a year.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Economy • Job Market • Unemployment
December 4th, 2009
11:01 AM ET

Blackwater's Prince raising concern in Washington

Erik Prince, chairman of Blakwater USA, at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing October 2, 2007

Suzanne Simons
CNN Executive Producer

There's a lot of head-scratching at the CIA over an article in Vanity Fair magazine that dubs Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious private military contractor Blackwater, a "tycoon, contractor, soldier, spy."

In the piece, he comes across as so entrenched with the CIA that the agency needs him to perform the most sensitive secret missions, including those involving hunting down and taking out al Qaeda operatives.

It's true that Prince, as the sole owner of one of the most well-connected private military contractors in modern history, is in a position of enormous trust within the government. So why is it that he's lashing out publicly at that same government?

Prince, a 40-year-old former Navy SEAL, inherited what he called a sizable amount of money when his father died in the late '90s. He's used that money to help climb to the top of an industry that has mushroomed since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Suzanne Simons
December 4th, 2009
10:51 AM ET
December 4th, 2009
10:46 AM ET

Dear President Obama #319: The lesson of the Musk Ox

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s team continues to take heat over how those party crashers made it into the White House. And I continue to write letters.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/25/art.getty.obama.2.26.jpg]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

It is fully possible that in your headlong rush to the White House that you have never spent much time thinking about Musk Oxen. But not being burdened with that whole “Leader of the Free World” responsibility, this is a subject I have considered at some length, and I want to tell you a bit about them.

Musk Oxen live in the north. Farther north than the Green Bay Packers. On the arctic tundra. They look like very shaggy, sturdy, long-haired cattle, with impressively stout, and pointy horns. They weigh up to eight hundred pounds and if one were standing in front of you right now your head would be just barely above the hump of his shoulders. (Not for long, of course. They can be rather ill-tempered, and I suspect you would be on the run faster than you can yell, “Hey, Biden, is this your dog in the Oval Office?”)


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