March 12th, 2010
12:41 PM ET

Fury over sex offender's freedom

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Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

In the movie "Law Abiding Citizen," Gerard Butler plays a man who loses his family when his wife and daughter are raped and murdered. After the main culprit receives a light sentence as part of a plea bargain and gets released from prison much sooner than he should have, our hero goes all "Death Wish" on the creep. He kidnaps him, drugs him and surgically dissects him into two-dozen pieces.

Vengeance is wrong and can't be condoned. But when you're caught up in the tension of the film, it looks like something else: justice.

In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if, throughout San Diego County, video stores are having trouble keeping that movie on the shelf. For the last 10 days, 3.2 million people have been working through a collective sense of fury and sorrow and more fury over two gruesome discoveries and one depressing revelation.

The discoveries came when authorities found - within days of each other - the bodies of two teenage girls, 17-year-old Chelsea King of Poway, California, and 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido, California. King had gone for an afternoon run in a local park a few days earlier. Dubois had vanished a year earlier while walking to school.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime
March 12th, 2010
12:39 PM ET

Journey for Change: Day five in Ghana

Editor's Note: Students from Brooklyn, N.Y. are traveling to Ghana as Global Service Ambassadors as part of a trans-Atlantic youth service and advocacy summit, bringing together African-American youth and Ghanaian child labor trafficking survivors. The project is called Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service and is in partnership with the Touch A Life Foundation. The Ambassadors will advocate for the eradication of child slavery when they return and they will visit Capitol Hill and the United Nations as part of their efforts. Read their blogs from the trip below.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/10/child.slave.and.owner2.jpg caption="A child slave with his owner. Photo credit: Benjamin Goode"]

Benjamin Goode, Age 13
Journey for Change

The Paramount Chief of the Krachi region invited Journey for Change and Touch A Life to his palace to eat and be showed a nice dance. There we ate deep, fried chicken, potato salad, and rice. After and before dinner we were showed a nice, smooth, and pop like African dance. The dance was amazing and the dancers were dressed in the Ghana flag colors. The dancer’s kind of added hip hop to their dance by the way they popped their shoulders and hips. After I was invited to stay at the palace along with my chaperone Sergo. It was very fun and we had our own room service. The bedroom was big and had its own bathroom.

We also had a Mitsubishi air conditioner and a small refrigerator in the room. The air conditioner was nice because I have been living without one since coming to Kete Krachi. Every place else only has fans and it is so hot in Ghana. After freshening up, Sergo and I went back to Village of Life and waited for our friends to come back from Lake Volta. After they came back we all talked about the day on the lake. We are now blowing up water balloons because we are going to have a water balloon fight with the rescued child slaves. We are also going to blow bubbles with them and have bike races. Oh, and show them how to double dutch. We are showing them American games and they will show us what they do in Ghana to play.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Ghana • Journey for Change
March 12th, 2010
11:09 AM ET

My dad's awful war

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John DeDakis
Special to CNN

About 250 veterans gathered today at the World War II Memorial in Washington. They were joined by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg to mark the premiere of their 10-part HBO series, "The Pacific." 

It was a high-profile public media event, but for me it was personal. For me, it brought back memories of my dad, who fought the Nazis in Europe. 

When I was 9 or 10 years old, my father took me to a college basketball game. As the clock ran out, a trumpeter in the pep band thought it would be cute to mark the demise of the rival team by playing Taps. 

Dad was not amused. 

"Shut up!" he roared. 

The trumpeter played on, oblivious. 

Dad got to his feet, fists clenched. 

"I said, 'Shut up!'" 

Embarrassed, I cringed in my seat. I'd never seen Dad this upset. But most people in the noisy auditorium were unaware of his wrath. He was drowned out by cheers, and by amused laughter at the cleverness of the trumpeter. 

Keep reading... 

Filed under: 360° Radar
March 12th, 2010
10:51 AM ET
March 12th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

Dear President Obama #417: School is out...of money

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s Secretary of Education wants big improvements in the nation’s schools. Some of those schools, however, will be relatively happy if they can just keep their doors open. Like the president is relatively happy (I think) to get my daily letter of advice, musings, and occasionally a recipe or two.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Have you been following this kerfuffle out in Kansas City about all those schools being closed? If not, here is a sort of SparkNotes version: A wagonload of schools are being closed in the wake of plummeting enrollment and soaring budget issues. Some administrators say it is the right thing to do, they neither need nor can they afford so many schools now for no fewer students than they have. Some parents and students, however, clearly feel they are being abandoned; losing their local schools and being forced to assimilate into others that they don’t know as well and might be farther from home.

I know this is a touchy thing for people. One of the earliest stories of my reporting career was about a tiny little town losing its post office and folks were going stone crazy over that, so I can imagine how losing a school feels. On the other hand, this seems like a perfect example of the challenges that you and every other elected official face. Keeping taxes down means containing costs; which means making choices; which means winners and losers.

This school district has about half as many students as it did ten years ago. It also has big budget issues like pretty much everyone these days. Common sense says something has to give. And experience says some folks are not going to be happy about that.

The funny thing is I’ve watched school closings for decades in rural America. The local communities there are also often upset and try to rally against it, but because they are spread out, and far from TV stations, nobody pays any attention. The public school that my high school girlfriend attended is gone, and it’s kind of sad to ride past and see the blank windows and peeling paint. But her graduating class was comprised of twelve students. Twelve. If that school had been kept open, the news coverage would have one day been about the irresponsible waste of taxpayer money.


March 12th, 2010
10:15 AM ET
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