December 10th, 2009
01:18 PM ET

Behind the scenes: On the front lines of the drug war

Program Note: Go inside a sophisticated, newly discovered underground tunnel on the Mexican-U.S. border with Anderson Cooper tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

It's an all-too common scene on patrol with a joint Mexican law enforcement task force in Juarez, Mexico.

Two people are shot dead in broad daylight Wednesday in a city lost in a drug war between rival cartels over the lucrative drug route into the United States.

Gunmen fire on a car, killing the driver; the passenger starts to flee and is gunned down in the street. These are the 11th and 12th killings in the Mexican city that day. Locals said killings are more frequent in the evenings. At this point, the sun hasn't even started to go down.

Juarez has become a deadly city where bodies, blood and gun-shell casings are commonplace in the streets.

In 2008, more than 1,600 people were killed in drug-related violence; this year local government officials put that number at more than 2,400. The carnage is taking place in a city with a population of around 1.5 million, literally at America's doorstep. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has declared a war on drug cartels and the way they operate their businesses.


Filed under: Ismael Estrada • Mexico
December 10th, 2009
01:14 PM ET

50on50: Nobel Peace Prize winner puzzled by my productivity


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/10/art.chivian.jpg caption="Dr. Eric Chivian shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the organization of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War."]

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

It’s true. A Nobel Peace Prize winner let me know he’s puzzled by my productivity. No, not today’s Nobel Peace Prize winner. As far as I know, President Obama is not following my campaign to destroy my industry’s worship of the 18-49 audience “demo.” But another winner of the Nobel Peace Prize has been following the series. He sent me an email this week that gives me fuel for my drive to unseat the demo-orthodoxy.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner who sent me the email is Dr. Eric Chivian.  He shared the prize in 1985 for his leadership in the organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. His current life mission, as a physician, is increasing awareness of the impact that damage to our environment has on human health. His collaborative work has led to the award-winning science book “Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity.” But first, here’s what he wrote me about the diversity of stories at 50on50.

“Don’t know how you keep them coming, on so many different subjects. Have you stored all these ideas away for the right moment?”

I’ll simply let those questions echo as a testament to turning 50, as I enjoy the final week of my 40s.


Filed under: Michael Schulder
December 10th, 2009
12:53 PM ET

Obama: 'Peace requires responsibility'


President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday with much discussion of war and the limits of nonviolence.

But he also praised the peacemakers of the past and said the world can and should still strive for peace.

The following is a transcript of Obama's acceptance speech:

Your majesties, your royal highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations - that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

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Filed under: President Barack Obama
December 10th, 2009
12:48 PM ET

Gulliver's troubles: Obama, the Nobel and the real world

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/12/09/obama.nobel/story.obama.nobel.gi.jpg caption="President Obama speaks at the White House on October 9 after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize." width=300 height=169]

Aaron David Miller
Special to CNN

O, the cruel and unforgiving world in which we live.

Almost a year into his presidency, Barack Obama, a newly minted Nobel laureate - only the third sitting U.S. president to receive the prize - finds himself bumping up against the harsh realities of international conflict and diplomacy.

The awarding of the Nobel, which the president didn't seek, reflects a real gap between expectations and delivery - a gap widened considerably by the president himself.

Even a sympathetic observer might conclude that a good bit of the president's foreign policies, particularly in the Middle East, reflects the triumph of hope over experience and rhetoric over reality.

Whatever else the president takes away from his first year, it's critical that America's foreign policy reflect the world the way it is, not just the way the president wants it to be.

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Filed under: President Barack Obama
December 10th, 2009
12:37 PM ET

Don't forget deficit in rush to create jobs

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/06/art.lines.gi.jpg caption="Rising job losses are sparking widespread anxiety."]

Gloria Borger
CNN Senior Political Analyst

If you're a Democratic political adviser right now, you've got one major question heading into the 2010 midterm elections: Do voters worry more about the skyrocketing deficit or high unemployment?

The answer: unemployment.

In fact, according to a recent survey done by Democracy Corps, a Democratic research firm, Americans worry twice as much about jobs as the deficit: "...When forced to choose, voters embrace a bold jobs initiative over a long-term deficit reduction program by two-to-one."

Ipso facto, a new jobs bill is born.

Never mind that the first stimulus package has yet to truly kick in. Or that, within the next month, the Senate has to hold its nose and vote to raise the federal debt limit above its current $13 trillion level. That's a tough vote, even for big spenders.

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December 10th, 2009
12:35 PM ET

Dear President Obama #325: Hot planet! Get your hot planet here!

Reporter's Note: President Obama is jetting around the world, and I’m moving a bit too; working in New York for the week, yet still sending my daily missive to the White House in D.C.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/09/art.obamaspeech.gi.jpg]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

A number of my friends from New Orleans went to high school together, and had French class together, and learned the phrase “mon frère” together, and as high school boys are prone to do, found it funny. For them, it was not “my brother,” but rather a generic expression of extremism. As in, “That tackle hurt like mon frère!” or “That chicken is better than mon frère.” Anyway, when I became their friend I picked it up, so you’ll understand when I say it was raining like mon frère as I walked to the office this morning.

I tell you all this because we talk so seldom (like never!) that I want to keep you apprised of some of the finer points of my personality, just in case you’re feeling left out. I’m working in New York this week on my year-end special, 360’s All the Best, All the Worst of 2009. I do this show every year and it seems to have a huge following. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but you are featured pretty prominently this year, so you might want to have someone back at the White House Tivo it if you’re on the road when it airs around Christmas and New Year’s.


December 10th, 2009
12:29 PM ET

Outsourcing the American dream

Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's upcoming book, How To Save Jobs, which will be available in December. Over the next few months, we'll be excerpting the first section of the book, which answers the question, "How did we get here?" Last time, we looked at the failure of the H-1B visa program. This time,we look at how outsourcing is becoming a growing problem for American employees. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/28/art.vert.book.gewirtz.jobs.jpg width=292 height=320]

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

Back in the dot-com boom, the dot-coms had a lot of work to be done, and not enough Americans were available to do it all. Many of the dot-com firms began to outsource much of their work to make up for the lack of available U.S. workers.

At about the same time, many companies were concerned about the so-called Y2K crisis. If you recall, this was the worry that many computer programs were built with only two-digit date codes, but once the year went from 1999 to 2000, all the date calculations in all those programs would fail.

American companies started to send work offshore.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/09/28/online.safety.quiz/art.computer.user.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]

The Internet, of course, made this much easier to do. Email and the Web, along with the rise in instant messaging, made communication across previously daunting distances virtually instantaneous (and dirt cheap). With the availability of high-speed broadband Internet and VOIP (Voice-over-IP), a telephone call from New York City to Bangalore often costs less than a call over the plain ol' copper telephone system from New York City to Albany.

And that's why, when your computer fails, you're probably going to wind up talking to someone in India instead of someone in Indiana. When you call a U.S. number for support, your call is routed over the Internet (for free) to a call center located across the ocean. Call centers no longer have to absorb extreme telephony charges.


December 10th, 2009
12:16 PM ET

GOP facing more bitter battles

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/03/06/dems.delegates/art.crist.gi.jpg caption="Charlie Crist, Florida's popular first-term governor, faces conservative opposition in next year's GOP Senate primary."]

Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director

As primary battles go, this one's pretty ugly.

The intra-party Republican fight in Florida between Gov. Charlie Crist and former state House Speaker Marco Rubio is full of fireworks.

Here's a taste:

"As Marco Rubio speaks to Florida TaxWatch today, I would like to remind everyone that while his words might sound credible, his record certainly is not. From supporting the largest tax increase in Florida history to the hundreds of thousands Rubio has squandered in taxpayer dollars, there are good reasons Rubio has tried to hide his record," says Andrea Saul, the Crist campaign's communications director.

Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos declares, "Charlie Crist will need to spend every last cent trying to convince voters that his support for wasteful stimulus spending, cap-and-trade schemes, tax increases and liberal judges are acceptable Republican practices."

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Filed under: Republicans
December 10th, 2009
12:07 PM ET

How is Obama being viewed in Europe?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/12/09/obama.europe/story.obamatable.gi.jpg caption="President Obama has seen a slip in approval ratings, according to recent polls." width=300 height=169]

Robin Oakley
Special to CNN

Few American presidents have been greeted with the enthusiasm Europe demonstrated for Barack Obama on his election. In part, it was a reaction against his predecessor - George W. was never loved in the EU - but there was also the feeling that Obama was a genuine multilateralist.

Europeans, who welcomed Obama as the candidate of change, didn't expect him to agree with them on everything, but they believed that he would at least listen to them.

So now that the showroom gloss is beginning to wear off Obama at home, now that U.S. poll respondents are indicating that the first dents and scratches are visible in the previously gleaming bodywork, how is he being seen between Ljubljana and Lisbon?

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Filed under: President Barack Obama
December 10th, 2009
11:57 AM ET

Russia seeks U.S. help in fight against heroin epidemic

Paul Armstrong

Russia's top drugs adviser has called on the United States to use its troop surge into Afghanistan to help stem the flow of drugs entering its borders, as heroin addiction reaches epidemic levels.

Last week President Barack Obama announced plans to send an extra 30,000 U.S. troops to the region in an effort to stabilize the Afghan government by defeating the Taliban, who are believed to be heavily involved in the country's burgeoning drugs trade.

However the strategy of destroying the poppy fields of southern Afghanistan, which yield the heroin flooding out of the country, is now viewed as counterproductive by the U.S.-led coalition because it drives farmers into the hands of the Taliban.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Russia
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