December 29th, 2010
09:48 PM ET

Flying frenzy. Who's to blame? Join the Live Chat

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Tonight, keeping them honest. How is it that some airline passengers who took to the skies for Christmas won't get home until after New Years. Breaking news tonight. An American aid worker held in a Haiti jail for 18 days on charges he used voodoo on a little boy is free tonight. We'll have the latest. And in our Extreme Living series we're looking at what drives people to push themselves to the extreme, not for survival, but as a way of life. Tonight we're interviewing a 14 year-old climber who has scaled 6 of the 7 summits, including Everest at 13.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog
December 29th, 2010
05:23 PM ET

Advice for Obama: Move to the center is a wise one

Kristi Keck

In the aftermath of the midterms, President Obama acknowledged the "shellacking" handed to him and his party.

"I've got to take direct responsibility for the fact that we have not made as much progress as we need to make," he said the day after the GOP slapped Democrats with the worst congressional beating in more than half a century.

Republicans celebrated what they considered a repudiation of the Democrats' agenda while analysts watched closely for any indication of what was to come from a president grappling with his new political reality.

After a few message misfires in the days following the election, Obama changed tactics, separating himself from the Democratic leadership he'd been so closely tied to and showing a willingness to compromise with the minority party.

If the past few weeks have shown anything, it's that the president knows how to rebound.

"I think he has slowly but surely recognized that the American people want the president and the Congress to work together," said Ron Christie, a Republican strategist who worked in the Bush administration from 2001 to 2004.

That's what Obama did when he bucked the liberal base of his party and forged a deal with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two years, a deal that got a thumbs-up from two-thirds of Americans.

Full Story

Filed under: 360° Radar • Opinion • President Barack Obama • Raw Politics
December 29th, 2010
03:06 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/29/10

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

A girl enjoys Water Bubble ride in the Kankaria Lake in Ahmedabad on December 29, 2010. A variety of water sports and activities are presented at the Kankaria Carnival to promote adventure sports. (Photo credit: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

Update: Beat 360° Winners:

Sam Meyer
“Coming soon from Miramax: it’s like Slumdog Millionaire meets The Boy in the Plastic Bubble."


Rosanne Elmore
"The Heene Family is at it again..."

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 29th, 2010
02:58 PM ET

CNN Poll: Plurality say Obama's policies will likely fail

CNN Political Ticker

President Barack Obama enters the new year with a growing number of Americans pessimistic about his policies and a growing number rooting for him to fail, according to a new national poll.

Full poll results

But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday also indicates that while a majority of the public says Republican control of the House of Representatives is good for the country, only one in four say the GOP will do a better job running things than the Democrats did when they controlled the chamber.

Sixty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say they hope the president's policies will succeed.

"That's a fairly robust number but it's down 10 points since last December," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Twelve months ago a majority of the public said that they thought Obama's policies would succeed; now that number has dropped to 44 percent, with a plurality predicting that his policies will likely fail."

The survey suggests that Obama's ace-in-the-hole remains his personal popularity. CNN poll numbers released last week indicate that 48 percent of all Americans approve of how Obama is handling his job as president, but the new survey puts his approval as a person at 73 percent.

When the new Congress convenes next week, Republicans will gain control of the House. According to the poll, 51 percent say GOP control of the House is good for the country, with 42 percent saying it's bad for the nation.

But only 26 percent say the Republicans will do a better job running the House than the Democrats did, down seven points from early last month, right after the midterm elections. Twenty-two percent say the GOP will do a worse job than the Democrats, with a majority saying there won't be much difference.

Full Story

December 29th, 2010
02:22 PM ET

Husband defends reading wife's e-mails


Detroit, Michigan, computer technician Leon Walker faces a jury trial in February for allegedly hacking into his then-wife's e-mail account.

"She'd asked me to read her e-mails before," Walker said in an interview this week. "She gave me the password before. She didn't hide it."

Walker says the e-mails revealed that Clara Walker, who has been married three times, was having an affair with her second husband.

Walker, the third husband, shared the documents with his wife's first husband, who then used them to file an emergency motion to obtain custody of his son with Clara Walker. Leon Walker said he and the first husband were both concerned because, according to Walker, husband No. 2 had been previously arrested on a domestic violence charge.

"He took action with the courts to have himself protected and I took action with the court to have my daughter protected," Walker said.

When Clara Walker learned how the e-mails made their way into court, she complained to police.

Oakland County, Michigan, Prosecutor Jessica Cooper used a state anti-hacking law to charge Leon Walker with a felony.

Cooper did not immediately respond to CNN calls for comment, but the Detroit Free Press published a voice-mail from her.

Full Story

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
December 29th, 2010
02:18 PM ET

Blizzard is 'budget buster' for cities

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A massive snowstorm was the last thing cash-strapped cities needed to ring out 2010.

"It's a budget buster," said Mark Boughton, mayor of Danbury, Conn., where 18 inches of snow fell on Sunday and Monday. "It's a killer ... on a holiday weekend and a Sunday."

Dealing with the storm could cost Danbury $450,000, more than half the city's snow removal budget for the entire winter, Boughton said. The fact that it fell on a Sunday helped drive up the costs because the crews got double-time.

Cities, counties and states are now totaling the financial damage of the holiday weekend blizzard that blanketed much of the East Coast. Most had to call in their entire public works departments, as well as hire outside contractors.

Many state and local governments can ill-afford to spend more than budgeted on snow removal. Hammered by the financial blizzard known as the Great Recession, they are already cutting back on services and personnel.

Virginia residents saw the after-effects of several major storms last winter. The state Department of Transportation, which maintains most of the highways and roads, had to spend more than $250 million on snow removal, far above the $94 million budgeted, said spokesman Jeff Caldwell.

As a result, the state had to cut back on non-priority maintenance, such as grass cutting and tree trimming. Instead of mowing the entire highway medians six times a year, for instance, workers only did it twice and only cut 10 feet on each side.

This weekend's single storm has left officials hoping for a mild winter.

"If we keep getting storms of this magnitude, we will certainly blow the budget," said Allan Fung, mayor of Cranston, R.I., which will likely spend more than $150,000 to remove 10 to 12 inches of snow.

The city, which has set aside $550,000 for the year, has been struggling in the economic downturn. It has had to slash spending in all departments, especially after having its state aid cut back four times in two years, Fung said.

Full Story

Filed under: 360° Radar
December 29th, 2010
12:05 PM ET

The RidicuList: The blizzard edition

A stuck plow, a hapless tow truck, a parked s-u-v, and a new yorker with a video camera make the RidicuList.

Filed under: 360° Radar • The RidicuList
December 29th, 2010
11:30 AM ET

Video: Stranded, snowy and steaming

CNN's Randi Kaye talks with passengers stuck on JFK's tarmac for 11 hours.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Keeping Them Honest • Randi Kaye
December 29th, 2010
11:14 AM ET

Damage from blizzard lingers in the Northeast


A historic blizzard that blanketed the Northeast with several feet of snow was still causing heartburn for pilots, air traffic controllers and stranded passengers Wednesday.

Some 10,000 flights have been canceled because of the weather since Saturday, according to the airlines.

Representatives from AirTran, American, Continental, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United, U.S. Airways, Spirit and Southwest reported a total of at least 9,726 trips were called off due to weather since Saturday.

Of those, at least 1,335 flights were canceled on Tuesday as major airports across the region slowly got back to normal.

Nowhere is the traveling heartburn more pronounced than at John F. Kennedy airport in New York where passengers on international flights have had to wait up to 11 hours on the tarmac before being allowed to deplane.

At least a handful of flights sat in the cold of a New York night early Wednesday, waiting for a gate and permission to unload. Passengers on at least three flights - Aero Mexico, Air France and Lufthansa - waited more than six hours to get off their planes.

The wait was even longer for a Korean Air flight from Seoul, which arrived at about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday, but did not arrive at the gate until about 5 a.m. Wednesday, more than nine hours later.

However, other international flights arrived without delay.

Passengers told CNN that a Transaero flight from Moscow to New York had no delay before reaching the gate, and two Avianca flights from Cali and Bogota reported no issues.

"We did contact the airlines and have been telling them they must not leave their point of origin without being assured of a gate," Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said. "Apparently, it didn't help."

Full Story

Filed under: 360° Radar
December 29th, 2010
11:06 AM ET

Letters to the President: #709 'A Presidential endorsement for Michael Vick?'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama was talking to the top brass of the Philadelphia Eagles about some green energy improvements at their stadium, and praised them for giving convicted dog-fighter Michael Vick their starting quarterback slot. Which, as you might expect, has triggered a firestorm of criticism from animal lovers, and today’s letter from me.

Dear Mr. President,

Once again, you’ve confused me. I’m feeling a little lost on this Michael Vick issue. I’m not talking about the hornet’s nest of debate over what he did, whether he should now be forgiven, or any of that. We all agree that dog fighting is barbaric. We all know he was convicted and spent his time in the old Iron Bar Hilton. We all also know that his NFL career is once again soaring as if he never went away. He is a quarterback of rare and special talent, to be sure.

But like I said, let’s put all that aside.

My question: I just don’t understand how or why the President of the United States would be weighing in on this matter. This is not the deficit. This is not the unemployment problem. This is not health care, the immigration debate, or a new plan for dealing with Afghanistan. Those are undeniably presidential level matters, and I would think that you would have your hands more than full with those items. But throwing in your two cents worth on the fortunes of a multi-million dollar athlete who was convicted of a horrendous crime? Why?

I know, I know, you suggested this had something to do with how ex-cons often don’t get a fair shake. You’re right. Often they don’t. But Michael Vick’s life is as much like that of an average convict, as mine is like the Pope’s. Despite the setback brought on by his terrible choices and cruel behavior, Vick is not merely one of those “rich people” you always seem so upset about, but actually one of the uber-rich ones who will enjoy luxuries in his life that the vast ocean of hard-working families can only dream of.

Unlike a typical ex-con who might struggle to get a job as a checker at a supermarket, Vick has been welcomed back into the stratospheric world of fame and fortune occupied by top level professional athletes. Does he have all his endorsement deals back? No. But give it time. And now with a presidential push, even the waiting period has been reduced.

It would be one thing if we were talking about you weighing in on a case where justice was ill-served; where some nameless, faceless criminal who had done his time was being unfairly discriminated against. But this is not that. And this, I’m sorry to say, just looks bad. Michael Vick is doing more than fine without your help or endorsement, while millions of hard-working Americans are fighting every day to get and keep jobs, hold onto their houses, and care for their children…and to be fair, they have committed no crimes at all.

Not trying to wreck on you about this, but like I said, it just doesn’t seem to make sense.

Call if you want to talk it over. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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