July 19th, 2010
02:33 PM ET

Why Obama's poll numbers have sunk

Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/07/19/zelizer.obama.midterm/tzleft.julian.zelizer.jroemer.jpg caption="Zelizer: Until Obama shows he's focused on big concerns such as jobs, support in peril" width=300 height=169]

Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) - President Obama's supporters have been frustrated about the apparent paradox of this administration. With the recent passage of historic financial regulation legislation, many Democrats are having trouble grasping why his approval ratings still lag and why Democrats might lose control of the House in the fall elections.

Supporters say the economic stimulus bill, education and health care reform, and now financial reform, should have Americans looking at the White House with the same admiration they had for President Roosevelt in the 1930s or President Johnson at the height of his success in 1964 and 1965.

But according to a recent CBS News poll, just 40 percent of those polled approved of how the president was handling the economy. This was a drop of five percentage points since June.

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July 19th, 2010
01:59 PM ET

Officials: National Guard troops headed to border next month

CNN Wire Staff

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/07/19/border.troops/story.border.patrol.gi.jpg caption="1,200 National Guard troops will help patrol borders into the U.S." width=300 height=169]

The United States will deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to assist with border protection starting August 1, the Obama administration announced Monday.

In addition, approximately 300 additional Customs and Border Protection agents will be added and will be complemented by an increase in technology and six aircraft, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said Monday at a joint press conference with the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.

Officials had previously announced the troop deployment, but a date for it had not been given.

Filed under: Border fence
July 19th, 2010
12:20 PM ET

Fishing trip becomes nightmare for Gulf fire's first responders

CNN Staff

Program Note: This story, written by CNN's Ashley Fantz, is based on an exclusive Anderson Cooper interview airing on "AC360°" Monday night at 10pm ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/19/p1012105.copy.jpg caption="Three friends were fishing 18 miles from the Deepwater Horizon on April 20 " width=300 height=169]

The three friends pointed the nose of their 31-foot boat in the direction of the best fishing, near the oil rigs off the Louisiana coast.

It was April 20, a beautiful, calm morning. They caught a netfull. Hours passed into darkness. At around 9:45 p.m., they looked out and saw what appeared, at first, like a flare. Bradley Shivers grabbed his binoculars.

"Man, this doesn't look right," he said to his buddies Scott Russell and Mark Mead.

Shivers then reached for the boat's radio to phone another rig.

But then, over the airwaves: "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday! This is the Deepwater Horizon! We are on fire! We are abandoning the rig!"

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Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
July 19th, 2010
10:53 AM ET

Beware of Life

Chris Guillebeau
AC360° Contributor

From January to September 2009, 21,833 people died in my home state of Oregon. Just like that, each one of them left the world—here one day and gone the next.

Not long ago, three hikers also died on our nearby Mount Hood in a tragic accident.

After their deaths, there was the usual pontification about what they could have done differently. Despite the fact that they were all experienced climbers, and despite leaving for the hike when weather conditions were good, some people blamed their “risky behavior” and suggested various reforms that wouldn't have made any difference in their case.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/19/chris.blog.copy.jpg]

Then, I scanned through the comments on our newspaper's website. “I don't want to say they deserved to die,” one person said, before going on to explain why they deserved to die for pursuing their passion.

Fatal accidents are sad. I wish they wouldn't happen, and I wish we could bring back the lost hikers. But I also don't think they should have stayed home, and I don't think they are that different from the 21,833 others who died last year.

I propose that the greater risk is to play it safe all the time. Properly experienced, life is a very risky behavior.


I recently read Christopher Reeve's autobiography, Still Me. He wrote about how during his years playing Superman, he worried about dying in a “dumb” accident. Superman Hit By Bus, he imagined the headline. Later, he fell off a horse and was paralyzed for the rest of his life.

The book is a fascinating account of his first two years adjusting to a very different (and extremely limited) way of living. He was angry, bitter, and at times wished he had died in the accident. But he didn't regret riding the horse that day his life changed forever. As he put it, if he knew when he got on the horse that he would be thrown, he would have slept in that morning. But there's no way to know something like that in advance; you just have to live your life, risk and all.

From time to time people send me stories like the Mount Hood climbers, or something bad that happened to another traveler somewhere. I don't have a death wish with anything I do, and I don't think that world travel is particularly unsafe. Like Superman, I could get hit by a bus right down the street from my home.

But if something ever does happen to me, all of you can tell the real story to anyone who asks: Chris didn't want to take any risks on missing out. That's why he climbed the mountain.

Instead of trying to live a risk-free existence, let me tell you a few things that are truly worth worrying about:

The road not taken.
The destination not explored.
The adventure not pursued.
The life unlived.

If we're going to lose sleep over something, it seems to me that those are the things that should keep us awake.

Life is dangerous. It's risky. It's worth it.

Editor’s Note: Chris Guillebeau writes for a small army of remarkable people at ChrisGuillebeau.com. Follow Chris's live updates from every country in the world at @chrisguillebeau.

Filed under: Chris Guillebeau • Travel
July 19th, 2010
10:38 AM ET
July 19th, 2010
10:25 AM ET

Video: Psychological impact of oil disaster

Candy Crowley | BIO
CNN Senior Political Correspondent

Filed under: Candy Crowley • Gulf Oil Spill
July 19th, 2010
09:53 AM ET

Girl likely abducted on way home from school


Authorities in California are investigating the possible kidnapping of a 17-year-old girl.

Norma Lopez was believed to be last seen July 15 walking home from summer school, the Moreno Valley Police Department said in a statement.

“At this point the investigation suggests that the victim was taken against her will and a newer model, green, SUV-type vehicle was seen speeding from the area,” investigators said.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/19/normalopez.copy.jpg caption="Norma Lopez was believed to be last seen July 15 walking home from summer school" width=292 height=320]

According to the police, Lopez had attended summer school at Valley View High School on the 15th. She planned to meet a friend and her younger sister at the family’s home later that morning, but never arrived.

Investigators said Lopez would often take a short cut home through a dirt field and may suspect that she was abducted in that vicinity.

Norma Lopez is approximately 5’7”, 110lbs. with brown eyes and brown shoulder length hair.

She was last seen wearing a black and white horizontal stripe, sleeveless shirt with a floral pattern, and black “skinny jeans.”

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of her should call the Moreno Valley Police at 951-247-8700.

Follow the Falcon File on Twitter @FalconCNN

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
July 19th, 2010
09:41 AM ET

Letter to the President #546: 'The things we take for granted'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/SHOWBIZ/Music/04/12/pulitzer.prize.winners/story.hank.williams.gi.jpg caption="A huge surge in music tourism is bringing in a steadily growing stream of tourists who are pouring millions of dollars into local businesses" width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: I don’t know if President Obama likes the Blues, but I do. I also like bacon, long car rides, and writing lots and lots and lots of answered letters to the White House. Ha!

Dear Mr. President,

My mother told me an interesting story a couple of years ago. We were talking about her days as a young woman growing up in Alabama and she said casually, “One night some friends and I were at a school dance where Hank Williams was playing and we…”

“Whoa! Hold on a second!” I said (or something like that.) “You went to a dance where Hank Williams played?”

“Yes,” she answered with a puzzled expression.

“Why didn’t you ever mention this before?”

“Why would I? Everybody went to those dances.”

I mention it because today while I was working on my blues music story, I was talking to a lovely woman from the tourism bureau named Kappi Allen and she said something similar. Our conversation went something like this:

“What was it like growing up here in the middle of so much musical history?” I asked.

“I mean with all the great names of Blues coming from here: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson; and the big rock names too, like Elvis?”

“You know, we didn’t really appreciate it all that much because it was always there. We just took it for granted.”

They don’t take it for granted any more. A huge surge in Blues tourism is bringing in a steadily growing stream of tourists who are pouring millions of dollars into local businesses, building up sales tax revenues, and helping the whole region stave off a lot of the worst effects of the recession, Katrina, and the oil spill. Still, for a long time it was not that way.

In difficult times I think people often get so caught up in their problems that they overlook their natural advantages. Here in the Delta, they’ve figured that out. Now, if you can only do the same for the country…

It’s very late. I need some sleep. Call if you get a chance.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

July 19th, 2010
09:29 AM ET

Well testing continues; government gets BP answers on seep

CNN Wire Staff

Testing on a capped oil well in the Gulf of Mexico will continue for another day, officials said Monday, as the federal government says it has received satisfactory answers from BP regarding a seep near the well.

Thad Allen, the federal government's oil spill response director, said Monday that a federal science team and BP representatives had discussed several issues during a Sunday night conference call, including the "possible observation of methane over the well."

"During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations," Allen said in a statement.

On Sunday, Allen said that testing had revealed a "seep a distance from the well." He ordered the company to notify the government if other leaks were found.

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Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill • T1
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