January 12th, 2010
05:23 PM ET

Mark McGwire doesn't get it

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/01/12/mip.tuesday/story.mark.mcgwire.gi.jpg caption="Former St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire appears at a House hearing on steroid use in March 2005." width=300 height=169]

Jeff Pearlman
Special to CNN

He called the widow of Roger Maris a few days ago, a surprisingly bold move that surely resulted in one of the most awkward phone conversations this side of Bobby Kennedy-George Wallace.

Mark McGwire apparently felt it was the right thing to do.

And, indeed, he was correct. Pat Maris deserved to hear the words "I juiced" straight from the artificially enhanced horse's mouth; deserved to know why she and her family had unwittingly served as his official cardboard props some 12 years ago; why her late husband's single-season home run mark (arguably the most hallowed standard in all of American sports) had been tattered by a man boasting all the integrity of a Times Square pickpocket.

Think back, if you will, to September 8, 1998, when McGwire hit his record-breaking 62nd homer of the season at Busch Stadium, then immediately walked toward the stands to embrace the Maris children. Later, with tears streaming down his cheeks, McGwire told the media how, earlier that day, he had held the bat Roger Maris used when he set the old mark. "I touched it with my heart," he said. "When I did that, I knew tonight was going to be the night. I can say my bat will lie next to his, and I'm damn proud of it."

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Filed under: Baseball • Steriods
January 12th, 2010
04:35 PM ET

Video: Campaign secrets revealed

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Raw Politics
January 12th, 2010
04:32 PM ET

Interactive Map: U.S. adoptions by country

Adoption Statistics
U.S. Department of State

Each year, thousands of Americans adopt a child from overseas. Intercountry adoptions are governed by both the laws of the child’s home country and the laws of the United States.

To view the number of adoptions to the United States from a specific country:

1. Click on the name of a continent; and
2. Choose a country.

Red stars indicate the 10 countries from which Americans adopted the largest number of children in Fiscal Year 2009.

January 12th, 2010
04:31 PM ET

The Ranch for Kids

Program Note: What happens when you adopt a child who has difficulties in his or her new home? Typically, you try to work it out, right? But what if the child is abusive, violent and even threatens to kill his parents and siblings? That's where a 'Ranch for Kids' comes in. It's a ranch in Montana that tries to rehabilitate troubled adopted youth. Watch Gary Tuchman's report tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/12/art.ranch1.jpg caption="The entrance to the "Ranch for Kids' in Eureka, Montana."]

The Ranch for Kids
Eureka, Montana

The "Ranch For Kids Project" a registered non profit corporation in the States of Wyoming, Montana & Maryland with 501(c)(3) status, has established a Christian home for "at risk" Russian and other adoptees who may be experiencing difficulties in their new families in the U.S.

This program was developed through joint cooperation with agencies and child welfare organizations where troubled children adopted from Russia and other countries could come for respite care and/or referral to licensed agencies for placement into a new adoptive home.

The post institutionalized child is unique in that they have been raised in a cultural medium very different from that of children in our foster care system. Due to their unique background and experiences, they are poorly adapted to interface with our social service system. These children need adults in their lives who understand their culture and in particular how an orphanage experience has shaped their lives and who are able to relate to the experiences that they have had. In order for these children to become functioning members of our society they need to heal from the trauma of their orphanage experience and/or further difficulties in their adoptive placements. Sending a child back to their country of origin is rarely the correct solution.

Learn more about the ranch and its programs here...

January 12th, 2010
04:30 PM ET

'It's just so tough to be a kid'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/12/art.ranch1.jpg caption="The entrance to 'Ranch for Kids' in Eureka, Montana."]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

I can’t say enough about my wife’s brother and sister. They have each adopted wonderful children from foreign countries. My sister-in-law adopted two from Kazakhstan and my brother-in-law adopted three from Cambodia. All five are the greatest kids and they are an absolute delight to be around. They are loving, caring, well-mannered and fun. I can’t spend enough time with them when we are all visiting each other. I’m certainly a proud uncle to all of them.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/12/art.ranch3.jpg]

This constituted my background with foreign adoptions when Gary Tuchman and I started working on a story about parents who have had a very different type of experience. Gary and I headed to Montana, to a ranch for kids run by Joyce Sterkel.

The kids here are from Russia, Ethiopia, Guatemala and many other countries. They were all adopted by loving, caring parents - much like my in-laws - who wanted nothing more than to bring their adopted children into a loving home. Problem is, when they got home, things weren’t as they expected.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/12/art.ranch2.jpg caption="Kids play outside at the ranch."]

The children here suffer from a variety of mental health issues and have severe behavioral problems. They threaten to punch, kick, choke and kill their parents and siblings. There are times when their violence is so overwhelming that the parents can only hope to prevent the children from hurting themselves.

Sterkel says many of these children suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome and have a detachment disorder caused by a lack of human touch during the first critical years of their lives. She says they can be aggressive, manipulative, divisive, and far too much for parents to handle.

Many of the parents say they have tried everything, psychologists, psychiatrists, special schooling, medication, yet nothing has worked. So they reach deep in their pockets to pay $3,500 a month to stay at the ranch where Sterkel says they work on the issues in a strict, structured environment.

One child we met had the face of an angel. He was following me around most of the day asking if I played volleyball, tag and would tell me a couple of jokes. I watched as he laughed with friends at the ranch and held his own against older children in a snowball fight.

His parents say they love their child, but what we saw is only the good side. They say there is also a horrible side filled with threats, attacks and behavior that had him kicked out of several schools.

He sat and talked with us and began to cry when talking of his parents and family in Alabama. He says he understands that he needs to be a better kid and showed remorse when he spoke of the threats he made against his parents. Through his tears and sadness he said, “it’s just so tough to be a kid!!”

Those words and his emotion said it all. What is going to happen to all these kids here? Some parents don’t want them back; others want nothing more than their child to return home. Watch our report on AC360 tonight at 10pm.

January 12th, 2010
02:37 PM ET

My Adopted Son

Editor's Note: What happens when you adopt a child who has difficulties in his or her new home? And what if the child is abusive, violent and even threatens to kill his parents and siblings? That's where a 'Ranch for Kids' comes in. It's a ranch in Montana that tries to rehabilitate troubled adopted youth. Watch Gary Tuchman's report tonight. But that got us thinking about what happens when parents of an adopted child decide to give back their adopted child. We found this blog post below from a woman with firsthand experience.

Anita Tedaldi
Motherlode Blog

The first time I considered giving up D. I was lying alone in my oversized bed. It was about midnight, my children were asleep and my husband was deployed. I was so taken aback by my thoughts that I bolted upright, ran to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. It was dark, but I could see my silhouette in the mirror and I stared to see if I was looking at a demon instead of D.’s mother.

I ran to D.’s room, afraid that he was already gone. But he was there, lying on his Thomas the Train sheets, sucking his thumb and breathing evenly. I caressed his cheek with two fingers and he exhaled. “I love you little man,” I whispered, and kissed his forehead, swallowing down the knot in my throat. I went back to my room and sobbed into my pillow.

D. was my adopted son. He’s a little boy from South America who came to our home several months before that frightening night. He arrived through Miami International Airport on a Monday afternoon, and I was so anxious that on my six-hour drive to pick him up, I dug my nails into the steering wheel for the duration of the trip, leaving marks I can still see today. I couldn’t contain my excitement. After waiting many long months, I’d finally hold and kiss my son.

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January 12th, 2010
02:20 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Federal Reserve posts record profit

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/25/art.fed.meeting.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The Federal Reserve’s efforts to stabilize the financial system paid off handsomely last year as the central bank raked in a record-setting profit of more than $52 billion.

That reflects the highest earnings in the Fed’s nearly 100-year history.

Let’s put that into perspective: In 2008, oil giant ExxonMobil reported the largest annual profit in U.S. history, making $45.22 billion on the back of record-high oil prices.

And unlike most government agencies, the Fed funds itself from its own operations, and its member banks are required to return all profits to the U.S. Treasury after certain deductions. That means Ben Bernanke and Co. returned about $46 billion to taxpayers. Not too shabby an accomplishment for Time’s “Person of the Year 2009.”

The Fed's 2009 profit marks a 47% increase over 2008. It comes as the central bank took in interest payments on an expanding portfolio of securities issued by the Treasury and by the government-sponsored mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • U.S. Federal Reserve • Unemployment • Wall St.
January 12th, 2010
12:22 PM ET

Black and white, and a target of both

Editor's Note: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been condemned by many for comments he made to reporters during the 2008 presidential campaign. In a new book, "Game Change," Reid is quoted as saying Barack Obama had a chance of winning because he was both "light-skinned" and didn't speak with a "Negro dialect." Apart from the political implications, his comments - and the reaction to them - have raised questions about how we talk about race in America. Don Lemon, a CNN Anchor, recounts his own experiences below.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/12/art.donlemon.jpg caption="Brandon Henry, Don Lemon and the flight instructor at a flight camp in Georgia"]

Don Lemon | BIO
CNN Anchor

It's 8 in the morning and I'm at flight camp for high school students in Georgia. Most of the students are black teens who claim a real passion for flying. In just a few minutes I get to accompany 17-year old Brandon Henry on his maiden voyage behind the flight controls. He doesn't seem nervous at all, but I certainly am. I have not eaten breakfast. He offers me peanut M & M's. I don't think it's such a good idea to eat right now.

Brandon is a remarkable young man. I admire his passion and commitment to flying at such a young age. What an incredible opportunity. And it made me think about where I was at his age.

A training program like this for minority teens wasn't an option for me in the 1970's in my small Louisiana town. Instead of training to be a pilot or an astronaut or a journalist, at 17 I was trying to not make the same mistakes that some of my older male relatives had made; drugs, babies, jail. There's not much to do in a small town but get into trouble.

Also by 17, I had become quite adept at navigating between three different worlds; the light skin black world, the dark skin black world and the white world. Most southern blacks are very familiar with this. FULL POST

January 12th, 2010
11:55 AM ET

GOP should want Harry Reid to hang in

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John Feehery
Special to CNN

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in hot water for some comments he made to reporters in a new book called "Game Change." In the book, Reid said, Barack Obama had a chance of winning because he was both "light-skinned" and didn't speak with a "Negro dialect."

Some Republicans have called for Reid to step down.

I, for one, think Reid should stay on as leader of the Senate Democrats. He should stick around to face the voters in November.

While I understand why some of my fellow Republicans would want Reid to resign, I think he represents well the current plight of the congressional Democrats.

Reid's comments reflect the views of a man who is stuck in the past. Such language may have been completely acceptable in 1955 but is now completely unacceptable.

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Filed under: Harry Reid • John Feehery • Raw Politics
January 12th, 2010
11:47 AM ET

Prop 8 is simply unconstitutional

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/26/same.sex.states/art.same.sex.marriage.jpg.jpg]

Lisa Bloom
AC360° Contributor
CNN Legal Analyst

A pop star could have a quickie Vegas wedding tomorrow, to a man she meets tonight, if she so chooses. Scott Peterson, convicted of the murder of his pregnant wife and on death row, has an inalienable right to a prison wedding with a female pen pal if the mood strikes him.

Indiana grandmother Linda Wolfe holds the Guinness World Records title for most marriages: 23. One lasted just 36 hours. She's on the lookout for No. 24, and when she finds him, no law can stop her from marrying him.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held unanimously that "the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man."

So basic, so important, so fundamental, in constitutional parlance, that no state can interfere with even the most reckless heterosexual nuptials.

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Filed under: Lisa Bloom • Proposition 8 • Same-Sex Marriage
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