February 23rd, 2012
01:40 AM ET

Truth Squad: Fact checking Wednesday's debate

CNN examines statements made by Republican presidential candidates during Wednesday night's CNN/Republican Party of Arizona debate in Mesa, Arizona.

Newt Gingrich criticized the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for characterizing Iran as a "rational actor" in international affairs and defending the possibility of preventing an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites

 The statement: "The fact is this is a dictator, Ahmadinejad, who has said he doesn't believe the Holocaust existed. This is a dictator who said he wants to eliminate Israel from the face of the Earth. This is a dictator who said he wants to drive the United States out of the Middle East. I'm inclined to believe dictators ... If you think a madman is about to have nuclear weapons, and you think that madman is going to use those nuclear weapons, then you have an absolute moral obligation to defend the lives of your people by eliminating the capacity to get nuclear weapons." FULL POST

January 20th, 2012
12:59 AM ET

Truth Squad: 4 checks on Thursday's GOP debate

CNN examines statements by Republican presidential candidates during Monday night's CNN Southern Republican Debate in Charleston, South Carolina.

Rick Santorum on President Obama's budget cuts

The statement: "We have the president of the United States who said he is going to cut veterans benefits, cut our military, at a time when these folks are four, five, six, seven tours, coming back, in and out of jobs, sacrificing everything for this country.  And the president of the United States can't cut one penny out of the social welfare system and he wants to cut a trillion dollars out of our military and hit our veterans, and that's disgusting."

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April 1st, 2010
02:03 PM ET

How will the new fuel standards affect you?

The Obama administration rolls out its new gas mileage standards for cars and trucks Thursday. The fuel efficiency targets for 2016 model vehicles is 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks (more than 34 mpg combined). President Obama says the new rules will "reduce our dependence on oil while helping folks spend a little less at the pump." The standards, to be phased in between 2012 and 2016, would increase fuel efficiency by 5 percent each year. Currently, cars must average 27.5 mpg and trucks must get 24 mpg.

Fact Check: How much oil will new fuel standards save, and how will the environment and individual drivers benefit?

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April 1st, 2010
01:20 PM ET

Is the U.S. dependent on foreign oil?

President Obama is announcing plans Thursday to boost domestic energy production, which is expected to include new offshore oil exploration and drilling. The White House says its new strategy will "set America on a path to energy independence." While drilling isn't likely to win many fans among environmentalists, it could help bring Republicans on board with the president's energy initiatives since the GOP has pushed hard for more domestic drilling to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Fact Check: How dependent is the U.S. on foreign oil, and where does most of it come from?

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March 12th, 2010
05:18 PM ET

What is the HIG?

The debate over the questioning of accused terrorist Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab rages on between Democrats and Republicans. John Brennan, White House adviser on homeland security, slammed Republican critics - saying that GOP leaders knew, or should have known, that AbdulMutallab would be read his Miranda rights. These comments did not sit well with Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Hoekstra said Brennan told him that AbdulMutallab was in FBI custody.

Pressed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Hoekstra said that being in FBI custody did not necessarily mean AbdulMutallab would be read his Miranda rights. Rather, he said he took it to mean the FBI's "high-value interrogation group would decide whether or not this person would be mirandized ... and whether they would go through the civilian process or be put into a military tribunal."

Fact Check: Is Hoekstra correct in his characterization that the high-value interrogation group has the power to make a determination about which court system will handle a suspect?

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March 12th, 2010
05:16 PM ET

Is carbon dioxide a commodity?

 Michael Williams, an energy commissioner in Texas, took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference.  He touted Texas-style solutions as an example of what the right can offer. "CO2 is a commodity," he said. "It's not a waste; it's not a pollutant. Al Gore may be afraid of it but I've got oilmen in Texas who pay $20 a ton for it." Williams said Texas produces 200,000 barrels of oil every day with the help of CO2.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide, CO2, is a greenhouse gas - a gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through human activities like burning fossil fuels, along with other processes, such as animal respiration. According to the Department of Energy, one-third of carbon emissions in the United States come from power plants and other large emitters.

Given the heat surrounding the climate change debate, CNN Fact Check Desk wondered: Do Williams' comments highlight a potential two-for-one energy solution? Can we use carbon dioxide emissions to collect more oil, turning trash into treasure?

Fact Check: Is carbon dioxide, which would otherwise be considered a waste product, a commodity in Texas?

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March 12th, 2010
04:08 PM ET

How effective are auto recall campaigns?

The new year brought a rash of recalls. Since January millions of cars have been recalled from major manufacturers and horror stories of malfunctioning autos have filled the airwaves. As many owners rushed to get the requisite fixes, CNN Fact Check Desk wondered: what happens to the cars that are not fixed?

Fact Check: What makes a recall campaign successful and what percentage of consumers typically respond?

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March 12th, 2010
02:21 PM ET

Genocide charges at the International Criminal Court?

Facing a warrant for his arrest hasn't seemed to slow down Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Following the announcement of the arrest warrant against him last March, Sudan's president appeared smiling and singing at a rally in Khartoum. The country's information minister, in an apparent rebuke to the charges against his president, referred to the International Criminal Court as "a white man's tribunal."

The warrant contained seven serious charges but genocide was not among them. Now an appeals chamber at the International Criminal Court ruled that genocide could be added. Given that the arrest warrant already contains seven serious charges, the CNN Fact Check Desk wanted to know: What would be the possible effect of adding a genocide charge?

Fact Check: What are the likely effects of adding a charge of genocide to the arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir? FULL POST

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March 12th, 2010
02:16 PM ET

Are states able to overrule the federal health care guidelines?

Lawmakers in many states are trying to make it illegal to mandate that everyone buy health insurance - one of the key parts of the Democrats' health care reform efforts in Washington.In Kansas, lawmakers filed a resolution this week that aims to alter the state constitution to do so. State Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, a co-sponsor of the legislation says, "States have a duty to protect their citizens' liberty."Could these proposed amendments affect health care reform in the nation's capital?

Fact Check: Can state governments overrule federal regulations on health care?

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March 12th, 2010
01:42 PM ET

How many rockin' senators are there?

Sen. Mellencamp? The title certainly strikes a chord with more than 7,708 members of a Facebook group that's trying to convince rocker and Indiana native John "Cougar" Mellencamp to run for the U.S. Senate to fill the seat that Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh soon will leave behind. The 58-year-old singer, known for his rock songs about the heartland and the working man, was an inaugural organizer of the Farm Aid concert benefit for family farms in 1985.

A vocal critic of George W. Bush's administration and the Iraq war, Mellencamp participated in the 2004 "Vote for Change" tour. In 2008, Mellencamp requested that GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain stop using his songs at his campaign rallies. Mellencamp also recorded a radio ad in support of Barack Obama that aired in Indiana in the lead up to the November 2008 vote. In February, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member performed in a concert at the White House featuring civil rights music.  In light of the fans' recent push to see him in office, the CNN Fact Check Desk wondered how many other entertainers have made the jump successfully to politics.

Fact check: What other entertainers have become lawmakers?

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March 12th, 2010
11:44 AM ET

Do unemployment benefits keep Americans from new work?

With the average unemployed worker out of a job for nearly 20 weeks and nearly 40 percent of the unemployed out of a job for more than six months, Congress passed a short-term extension of unemployment benefits and other economic aid last week. The vote came after the $10 billion bill was held up by Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, who complained that the Democratic-led Congress should have found some way to pay for the measure rather than add the cost to the national debt.

Coming to Bunning's defense was Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, a fellow Republican. Extending workers' unemployment checks "is a disincentive for them to seek new work," Kyl said on the Senate floor March 1. "I am sure most of them would like work and probably have tried to seek it, but you can't argue it is a job enhancer."

And former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, another Republican, said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that keeping benefits coming "keeps people from going and finding jobs."

"There's some studies that have been done that shows that people stay on unemployment compensation and they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out," said DeLay, who resigned from Congress in 2006 and is awaiting trial on a money-laundering charge in his home state of Texas.  So, are people just kicking back, enjoying a couple of extra weeks of those unemployment checks? The CNN Fact Check desk decided to ask around.

Fact Check: Do unemployment benefits extend joblessness?

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March 12th, 2010
11:09 AM ET

Are there 300 terrorists in jail?

Vice President Joe Biden has argued that civilian trials have a better record than military trials for terror suspects. On "Face the Nation," Biden threw out some supporting figures: "There have been over 300 tried in federal courts by the last administration and by us. They're all in jail now. None of them are out seeing the light of day."

Fact Check: Is Biden correct? Are there over 300 terrorists in jail?

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March 12th, 2010
10:48 AM ET

Do more than five dozen nations not recognize Isreal?

On CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," King Abdullah II of Jordan said that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-state solution. "Fifty-seven nations, a third of the United Nations, do not recognize Israel today," he said. "So, they're isolated in the neighborhood and further afield."

Fact Check: Are there really 57 nations that do not recognize Israel?

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March 12th, 2010
09:20 AM ET

How many political independents are there?

John Avlon, author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America," railed on CNN against partisans on the far right and far left "that are always trying to divide rather than unite us."

He said on CNN's "American Morning" on Friday that "they really have developed a disproportionate influence over our politics that ends up drowning out most folks in the middle." He continued, "If independents could realize that there are more independents than Democrats or Republicans, I think we could help bring politics back to the center."

Fact Check: Are there more independent voters than Democrats or Republicans? How do they influence elections?

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March 11th, 2010
07:07 PM ET

U.S. exports: How the U.S. stacks up on what we ship out

President Obama has announced an ambitious goal to double exports in the next five years. He appeared Thursday before the Export-Import Bank's annual conference to lay out some details. 

"We remain the number one exporter of goods and services in the world. But we shouldn't be satisfied with being number one," he said. "When other markets are growing, and other nations are competing, we need to get even better."
 
Fact Check: Is the United States the No. 1 exporter of goods and services in the world?

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March 11th, 2010
06:54 PM ET

Could health care reform violate the U.S. Constitution?

While the debate over health care has at times bordered on the absurd, some opponents of the bills passed by the Democratic-led Congress have raised questions of fundamental importance to American democracy - namely, whether some of the proposals are constitutional. 

While the arguments have hinged on a variety of components of the bills, the most oft-repeated concern relates to the individual mandate. Because the individual mandate is part of all three health care proposals, those passed by the House and the Senate and the one proposed by President Barack Obama, this challenge is potentially the most serious. 

As wrangling over the fate of health care reform continues, the CNN Fact Desk takes a look at the concern that a provision of the health care bill violate the governing document of the United States. 
 
Fact Check: What are the arguments concerning the constitutionality of the individual mandate? Do they have any validity?  

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March 11th, 2010
03:27 PM ET

Is working the night shift unhealthy?

According to a 2004 survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a little more than 3 percent of full-time wage and salary workers work night shifts - defined as shifts between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.  Another 2.5 percent work rotating shifts, which can include overnight shifts.

The Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, reports that overnight workers suffer from a condition called Shift Work Sleep Disorder, with symptoms including insomnia, excessive sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and lack of energy. Lately, there have been some studies suggesting that overnight work can have more serious health effects.

Fact Check: Is working overnight hazardous to your health?

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March 10th, 2010
07:58 PM ET

Do electronic voting machines prevent voters from verifying their ballots?

 Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura wants a receipt.

The author of "American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us," as well as host of a cable television show on CNN's sister network TruTV, recently questioned the validity of votes cast using electronic election machinery. Ventura told CNN's Larry King that voters "have no idea...if your vote was actually recorded to the candidate of your choice."

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March 10th, 2010
07:50 PM ET

Rove's 'consensus' on Iraq soft-pedals disputes

Karl Rove calls the invasion of Iraq "the most consequential decision" of former President George Bush's two terms, and Bush's former political adviser devotes a chunk of his new memoir to defending it.

In the nearly 600-page book, "Courage and Consequence," Rove takes two chapters to attack the belief that the Bush administration exaggerated the case for the invasion of Iraq. One attacks former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who first argued in July 2003 that the Bush administration had "twisted" the evidence that Iraq was re-arming, and a second, titled "Bush Was Right on Iraq," criticizes Democrats who followed suit.

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March 10th, 2010
07:24 PM ET

Are earthquake-related deaths increasing?

University of Colorado geologist Roger Bilham, who recently returned from Haiti, told The Associated Press that earthquakes have caused "four times as many deaths in the last 10 years than in the previous 10 years."

Given the high death toll of the Haitian earthquake, and the substantial death toll of the Chilean earthquake, did Bilham get his numbers right?

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