March 5th, 2010
04:23 PM ET

White House considering reversing stand on 9/11 trials

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/03/05/911.trial/story.ksm.fbi.jpg caption="New York officials who did not want Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in the city. Republicans want a military trial." width=300 height=169]

Suzanne Malveaux | BIO
CNN White House Correspondent

White House advisors are considering recommending alleged 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheik Mohammed be tried in a military court, not a civilian one in New York City, a senior administration official confirmed Friday.

This would be an about face for the Obama Administration which has consistently insisted trying Mohammed in civilian court would be a powerful symbol of U.S. rule of law. In November 2009 Attorney General Eric Holder announced his intention to do just that. But a firestorm of criticism erupted from New York officials who did not want the trial held in Manhattan, and from Republican lawmakers who did not want a civilian trial.

If the President accepts this recommendation, his administration would be reversing itself on two fronts:the location of the trial, and the type of trial itself.

"We are evaluating based on New York City logistical and security concerns on trial in Federal courts," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday.

A senior administration official emphasized that no final recommendation has been given to the President, and therefore no decision regarding the 9/11 terror trial has been made. The official said the hope is a decision would be made before the President leaves for Indonesia on March 18th.

Filed under: Suzanne Malveaux • Terrorism
March 5th, 2010
03:16 PM ET
March 5th, 2010
01:10 PM ET

A day of action for a day of reflection

Editor's Note: Universities nationwide were recovering Friday, a day after protests over education budget cuts hit campuses from coast to coast. The protest, dubbed the March 4 National Day of Action, sent thousands of students, educators and supporters to the streets to challenge budget cuts and tuition increases.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/03/05/education.protest/story.education.protest.gi.jpg caption="Protesters block a portion of Interstate-880 during Thursday's National Day of Action against school funding cuts." width=300 height=169]

D’Artagnan Scorza
PhD Student in Education, UCLA
Director, Social Justice Learning Institute

As the former student Regent in the University of California, I had the privilege of working with leaders on the Board of Regents who, although I did not always agree with, I grew to respect. I’ve watched my former colleagues speak with passion about the impact of fees increases and many would have preferred to not vote on fee increases at all. However, while I would have voted against and completely disagree with the exorbitant fee increases passed by the UC Regents and many other university trustees around the country, I do understand their reasons.

First, our country is fighting hard to emerge from a poor economy and many states and local government revenues have been hit hard.

Second, the Regents believe that fee increases are their only option to maintain the quality of university.

Third, I believe the public would be more upset if the University were to lose its value as an engine of economic growth if the Regents did not act to preserve the institution by raising revenue.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Education
March 5th, 2010
12:55 PM ET

CNN Fact Check: Are the recent earthquakes connected?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/05/t1.haiti.earthquake.rubble.jpg caption="A devestating magnitude 7.0 quake struck Haiti on January 12." width=300 height=169]

Emma Lacey-Bordeaux

On January 12, a magnitude 7.0 quake struck Haiti just southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince. On February 27, an 8.8-magnitude quake hit Chile near that nation's second largest city, Concepcion. That same day there was a 7.0 quake off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, and just this week a 6.4 magnitude quake hit southern Taiwan. The Fact Check Desk looked at whether all of the seismic activity could be related.

Fact Check: Is there any connection between the recent deadly earthquakes?

–Dr. Kurt Frankel of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who specializes in active tectonics, says that earthquakes are sporadic and unpredictable in nature.

- According to Frankel, the fact that these relatively strong quakes would strike around the same time is merely coincidence. Because the quakes did happen one after another, earthquakes are on people's mind, Frankel explained. "Had the quakes in Haiti and Chile not occurred recently, we might not have even been interested in the other quakes," he said.


March 5th, 2010
12:03 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Unemployment rate holds steady at 9.7%

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

It’s the report that Wall Street and Main Street have been waiting for all week: the government says the economy shed 36,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%. Both readings came in better than expectations.

But the results were still worse than the previous month, as just 26,000 jobs were lost in January, according to the revised estimate.

Also, the government said the winter storms that blanketed the East Coast with several feet of snow last month possibly skewed the results. The Labor Dept.'s jobs survey was conducted in the middle of February, which coincided with blizzards that temporarily shuttered some businesses and kept many workers home without pay. Those employees would not have been counted on the government's payroll survey.

Construction continued to be one of the worst-hit sectors, cutting 64,000 jobs in February. Retailers trimmed 400 jobs after adding 41,000 positions in January. Manufacturing businesses added just 1,000 jobs, down from 20,000 new jobs the month before.

But several industries showed solid gains in employment, including health care and the service industries. Also encouraging was the addition of 47,500 temporary workers, whose hiring often signals that employers are starting to gear up again.

All told, nearly 15 million people unemployed – or roughly the populations of Pennsylvania and Nevada combined.

Still, the number of workers who were seeking full-time employment but were working only part-time hours rose, pushing the so-called “underemployment rate” up to 16.8% from 16.5% in January.

The silver lining

So is there any good news? Well if you are lucky enough to have a job, your paycheck may be starting to get bigger – and that’s a sign of improvement in the job market.

Even a small gain in income is significant. If consumers have more money in their pockets, that can help to boost consumer spending and create the demand that will prompt a resumption of hiring.

According to the government's report, average hourly earnings have risen by nearly 2% over the past 12 months. And that's not the only evidence of a turnaround in pay.

An analysis of income and employment taxes withheld from more than 130 million U.S. workers by TrimTabs Investment Research found that total salaries and wages increased by 0.7% in February compared to a year ago. This is the first increase since 2008, and it represents $42 billion extra dollars in consumers' pockets compared to a year ago.

Job creation bill heads back to Senate

It’s all still a work in progress though… and lawmakers' efforts to spur job creation were delayed once again Thursday after the House amended a $15 billion Senate bill before passing it.

The amendments mean the Senate must again approve the four-prong measure, this time with no changes, if President Obama is to sign it into law. The Senate may not take up the legislation until next week.

The bill would exempt employers from Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed; fund highway and transit programs through 2010; extend a tax break for business that spend money on capital investments, such as equipment purchases; and expand the use of the Build America Bonds program, which helps states and municipalities fund capital construction projects.

However, the House added two provisions to pay for the infrastructure spending and corporate tax breaks. The amendments require foreign financial institutions to give the IRS more information to help it catch tax cheats, and delays a tax break for foreign interest payments. The measure passed by a 217-201 vote.

Tax breaks for job seekers

We all know that job hunting can be expensive. The costs of hiring career coaches, printing hundreds of résumés at Kinko's and flying out for job interviews can really add up, especially for someone who doesn't have an income.

But finally, there's a benefit to being unemployed: job seekers can deduct search-related expenses, including employment and outplacement agency fees, travel costs and résumé costs. Your job search doesn't even have to result in employment for you to qualify!

Check out the details on CNNMoney.com.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Job Market • Unemployment
March 5th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

Coffee, tea, or politics?

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

No sooner have the Tea Partiers briefly backed down from the ramparts to regroup and redeploy, then comes word of another disgruntled group heating up the water: The Coffee Party! Like the tea crowd, they too want more accountable government, an alternative to the two big parties, and perhaps…oh say, a biscotti or scone. And could you make that to go, please? I have to get to the dry cleaners before overturning the government.

I can’t predict where the Tea or Coffee crowds will wind up with their pitchforks, torches, and shiny, silver insulated commuter cups, but they do have me thinking about all the other beverage-themed political movements we should probably have in the works considering the sad state of our government. And if we could somehow actually link participation in our democracy to every purchase of these refreshments, then I think we’d really be on to something.

Imagine the power of the Diet Cola Party. It would be refreshing, offer a quick caffeine pick-me-up, and available at any convenience store 24 hours a day. “Hey hon, I’m going to pull over for some gas. Want a beverage? Snack? To weigh in on the health care debate?”


Filed under: Raw Politics • Tea Party • Tom Foreman
March 5th, 2010
11:21 AM ET

Pentagon shooting suspect believed to be behind anti-government rants


Investigators were looking Friday into the history of a man who they say shot two police officers at the Pentagon on Thursday evening before being fatally wounded.

The officers shot back and hit the man, who died early Friday. The officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Pentagon Police Chief Richard S. Keevill said that surveillance video shows the gunman acted alone.

The shooter, identified by a law enforcement source as John Patrick Bedell, appears to be a man who had railed against the government repeatedly on the Internet.

Through podcasts and a Wikipedia page, a man identified online as JPatrickBedell cast the government as a criminal force destroying personal liberties.

Keep reading...

He also appears to have a blog: http://rothbardix.blogspot.com/ The text of his audio recordings is posted here. Here’s the text of the podcasts: http://rothbardix.blogspot.com/

This appears to be Bedell’s Wiki site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JPatrickBedell

Filed under: Pentagon
March 5th, 2010
11:18 AM ET

Oscar needs a sense of humor

Elvis Mitchell
Special to CNN

In his poem "Style," Charles Bukowski says that it's better to do a boring thing with style than a dangerous thing without it.

Often, it feels like the Academy Awards manages an odd marriage of both elements: a boring thing without style.

But this year, in going back as old-school as it can - that is, without making the ceremony a drunken, restraint-free luncheon at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; in other words, the Golden Globes - the Academy has done something to make the Oscars a lot more interesting.

Returning to naming 10 nominees for best picture is a rousingly smart idea, though those sweating through their Harry Winston loans after several hours of what are laughingly called festivities at the awards presentation might not agree.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Academy Awards
March 5th, 2010
11:06 AM ET

Firing all the teachers was justified

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/16/school.bus.cuts/art.school.bus.cuts.afp.gi.jpg caption="" width=300 height=169]

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

In most high schools in America, they teach Shakespeare. But at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island, they're acting out a Shakespearean drama.

Only instead of the famous line from Henry VI - let's kill all the lawyers - what we have is: "Let's fire all the teachers."

That's exactly what Central Falls School District Superintendent Frances Gallo did in February. In a move that was bold but also justified, Gallo fired 77 teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island, along with the school's principal, three assistant principals and other administrators. In all, the district said, 93 people were let go in the purge. The school board later stood by Gallo and approved the action.

The mass firings, which take effect at the end of this school year, came after the district failed to reach an agreement with the local teachers' union on a plan that would have required teachers to spend more time with students to improve test scores - with only a small increase in pay.

Consistent with federal guidelines designed to improve the educational system, Gallo asked teachers to work a longer school day of seven hours and tutor students weekly for one hour outside school time. She proposed teachers have lunch with students often, meet for 90 minutes every week to discuss education and set aside two weeks during summer break for paid professional development.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Education
March 5th, 2010
10:44 AM ET

Video: Making money with animals

 Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

CNN's Gary Tuchman looks at the careful balance needed when using animals for education or for performances.animal

Filed under: Gary Tuchman
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