January 29th, 2010
04:11 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Best economic growth in 6 years

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Okay, maybe it really is time to pop the Champagne. The government says the U.S. economy grew at the fastest pace in more than six years during the fourth quarter of 2009.

The nation's gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, rose at a 5.7% annual rate in the quarter. That was much stronger than had been expected and provides another sign that an economic recovery is taking hold.

Much of the improvement was driven by a turnaround in inventories, the supply of goods that businesses hold in anticipation of sales. But consumers were essentially bystanders in the fourth quarter, as personal consumption grew at only a 2% annual rate in the period.

Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity in the United States.

Toyota says fix coming soon

As Toyota's accelerator pedal recall expands into Europe, the Japanese auto giant says it has a fix for cars there - and that one will be coming soon for drivers in the U.S.

A company spokesman says Toyota is very close to announcing a solution to the issue, but Toyota still needs to get regulatory approval for a proposed repair in the U.S. and in Europe before a fix can be made.

The recall is to correct a problem that could cause the gas pedal to stick over time. Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. for the problem this week, although no repair procedure had yet been put in place.

The gas pedal recall is separate from an earlier one, begun in November to fix a problem in which the gas pedal can become caught on the edge of the removable floor mat. The floor mat recall was recently expanded so that it now covers a total of 5.3 million vehicles. FULL POST

Filed under: Economy
January 29th, 2010
03:33 PM ET

Video: Haiti Hero: Save and serve

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360º Anchor

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • CNN Heroes
January 29th, 2010
01:00 PM ET

What’s Next…on stage

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David Puente
AC360° Producer

A cross between the AC360° series “What’s Next” and the famed Proust questionnaire, AC360° Producer David Puente has devised his own set of questions for newsmakers. The Proust Questionnaire is a list of questions about one's personality. Its name is owed to the French writer Marcel Proust who popularized it at the end of the nineteenth century. At that time, it was in fashion to answer questions that revealed one’s tastes, aspirations, and aspects of one’s work and personality.

If in the Proust questionnaire the individual responding reveals his or her true nature, then in this questionnaire we’ll learn about the individual and about “what’s next” in the coming decade.


Now a divorced dad living in New York City, Will Swenson has come a long way from playing Jesus Christ in a promotional film for the Church of Latter Day Saints. Now Swenson gives life to ‘Berger’ in the Tony Award-winning revival of HAIR at Broadway’s Hirschfeld Theatre. And despite having grown up as a member of the conservative Mormon Church in Utah, he also reveals his support of gay marriage and his lack of patience for right-wing religious types, some of which he wants to excommunicate from the human race.

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The HAIR New Broadway Cast Recording is Grammy nominated, and now re-released on vinyl.

1. What's better for the spirit, free love or the institution of marriage?

The best thing would be living in a society where anyone could live in the relationship of their choosing. Yes, anyone.

2. What is the trait you most deplore in hippies?

The female armpit hair thing. Sorry. Just being honest.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yuppies?


Filed under: David Puente • What's Next
January 29th, 2010
12:39 PM ET

Video: Chisels, sweat, tears in Haiti

Anderson Cooper | BIO

Filed under: CNN Heroes • Haiti
January 29th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

The President and the iPad

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Here’s a political riddle: What’s the difference between President Obama and the iPad?

One is a bright, techie marvel, full of great promise that everyone has a lot of questions about. The other is a new type of computer.

When President Obama rolled out his State of the Union address this week, millions of Democratic loyalists heaved a sigh of relief. It was the return of Super-Candidate. Just as he appeared to be in dreadful shape, like Spiderman he jumped up from the pavement, and whipped out a web of wonder. In the soaring phrases of his campaign, he laid out a broad plan of revitalization. He called for a new spirit of bipartisanship. And most of all he talked about creating jobs, jobs, jobs.

Talk, however, is part of his problem these days. Much of what he said this week was an echo of what he said shortly after taking office. And the cynicism of voters about such grand schemes has clearly deepened in twelve months.


January 29th, 2010
11:26 AM ET

Video: Babies's survival unsure

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

Filed under: 360° Radar
January 29th, 2010
11:17 AM ET

Video: Haitian food free-for-all

Karl Penhaul
CNN Correspondent

CNN's Karl Penhaul reports on a chaotic scene during food distribution in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Haiti • Haiti Earthquake
January 29th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

Video: What's next for Haiti's children

Anderson Cooper | BIO
CNN Anchor

CNN's Anderson Cooper talks to adoption specialist Jane Aronson on how people can help children in Haiti.

Filed under: 360° Interview • Anderson Cooper • Haiti • Haiti Earthquake
January 29th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

Can Bashing the Banks Help Obama?

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Callie Shell
Aurora for Time

The no-drama law professor is going populist.

First President Obama proposed new taxes on big banks, blasting the "twisted logic" of Wall Street executives who keep awarding themselves giant bonuses while resisting government efforts to recoup the cost of their industry's bailouts. "Instead of sending a phalanx of lobbyists to fight this proposal or employing an army of lawyers and accountants to help evade the fee, I suggest you might want to consider simply meeting your responsibilities," the President warned.

A week later, Obama proposed new restrictions on big banks, aimed at limiting their size while prohibiting them from playing the markets with their own cash. "If these folks want a fight," he thundered, "it's a fight I'm ready to have." In case anyone missed the point, Obama used the word fight or fighting 22 times in a speech the next day in Ohio.


Filed under: 360° Radar
January 29th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

President right to seek end of 'don't ask, don't tell' in 2010

Alexander Nicholson
Special to CNN

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama was unusually brief and abundantly clear about one thing: The repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, which effectively bars openly gay men and women from military service, is a priority for his administration in 2010.

Some have criticized the speech for not providing a roadmap for how he would lead the repeal effort, and others were unhappy that he did not announce an immediate halt to all gay discharges, but the president did exactly what he should have done last night in this venue.

The annual State of the Union address is typically devoted to the most pressing issues of the day. Presidents use the platform to address issues and institutions - from wars to jobs to health care to Wall Street - that affect nearly every American household, and often many other nations around the world. So it was no surprise that President Obama did not take this opportunity to detail his "don't ask, don't tell" game plan. But those of us who oppose this insidious policy did get something delivered last night, and that something should not taken lightly.

The president said it all in the first four words of his one-liner on "don't ask, don't tell." The words "This year" and "I will" laid out a firm time frame for tackling a repeal plan and signaled that the White House would not just sit idly by and wait for Congress to act. Additionally, the reference to working with the military implies an understanding of the crucial fact that senior military leadership must be on board with a realistic repeal plan for it to even have a chance of getting through this tough Congress, much less succeed at the implementation stage.

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