Performer addresses his Apple controversy with theater audience
Mike Daisey, the performer of "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," had his story retracted by "This American Life."
March 28th, 2012
08:51 PM ET

Performer addresses his Apple controversy with theater audience

A monologist whose story about Apple and factories in China has come under fire took questions from the public about the controversy Tuesday night in the Washington theater that held the debut for his piece.

Solo artist Mike Daisey has had plenty to say since it was revealed that he made up some things in “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” his tale of horrid labor conditions inside the Chinese manufacturer that makes Apple products.

A lot of it has been: “I’m sorry.”

The public radio show “This American Life” had run a version of his story, adapted from his theater show, and then retracted it this month after learning that he had fabricated information about his visits to the factories. Daisey has since taken a pummeling in the news media.


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Filed under: District of Columbia
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Like a mechanic with no tools?
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is pushing the Senate to confirm a director to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
December 4th, 2011
09:06 AM ET

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Like a mechanic with no tools?

Tim Geithner might be Endia Eason’s new best friend. If he lived in Cleveland, she’d probably bake him a pie.

“My pies are the best pies in town – they’ve been saying that for years,” Eason says. “I make apple, sweet potato, peach and cherry.”

So why would a 91-year-old woman in southeast Cleveland want to bake a pie for the U.S. treasury secretary?

CNN's Libby Lewis reports on how Geithner helped the "best" pie baker in Cleveland

Because lately, Geithner has been publicly nudging Senate Republicans who have hamstrung a new consumer protection agency – created to protect homeowners like Eason, and to stop what happened to her from happening to other people.

Obama renews push for consumer bureau chief

Eason nearly lost her home because a mortgage broker talked her into a $50,000 loan.


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Filed under: Economy
A true reptilian in Washington
Oleander lives in the basement of the U.S. Commerce Department.
November 26th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

A true reptilian in Washington

Just look at the polls about how Americans are viewing some of the inhabitants of Washington.

It's as though they’re saying, "Some of these creatures in Washington aren’t following the rules of civilized society. They only seem to care about saving their own skin."

Downright reptilian, those dismal approval numbers say.

What the polls don’t show is that those creatures aren’t necessarily politicians. Some of them are living in the basement of the U.S. Commerce Department.

Right now, there’s an albino alligator there. On purpose.

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Libby Lewis.)

It turns out that the National Aquarium – the original one – is in the basement of the U.S. Commerce Department. And it's been there been since 1932.

So upstairs, they’re talking about economic indicators (and maybe presidential candidates who want to make the Commerce Department extinct).

Downstairs, in the cool dark basement, it’s piranhas and pythons and a lone albino alligator named Oleander.

She got here in the fall, when a lot of creatures move to D.C. She’s got pale luminescent skin and mesmerizing eyes that look like pink crystal marbles.

CNN got an exclusive interview with her handler, Ryan Dumas, a herpetologist for the National Aquarium. As far as Oleander goes, he’s like your typical Washington aide.

Dumas: I take care of her every need here. I guess you could say I’m the chief aide. Anything that happens with her, I pretty much know about or made happen.

CNN: She hasn’t been here long. But she already looks like she’s used to holding out for what she wants.

Dumas: Absolutely. As far as eating goes, we’ve tried a number of different fish, different species of rodents.  She really has only an affinity right now for a smaller-sized frozen rat.

CNN: So she’s like some of these Washington types that develop strange appetites once they get here.

Dumas: Exactly.

CNN: But she doesn’t make those midnight calls to room service, because she has you, right?

Dumas: Yeah. And she doesn’t have thumbs, so it’s hard to dial. But she’s pretty low-maintenance, which is probably atypical for a lot of people in this area.

CNN: She’s albino. That raises a delicate color question. She’s not red or blue.

Dumas: Nope. She is all white.  Albinism is the lack of all dark pigments. She’s dark-pigment free.

CNN: So you could say she’s post-racial.

Dumas:  There are more than 2 million gators in the U.S. in the wild.  There are less than a hundred known albinos.

CNN: So she’s definitely in the 1%.

Dumas: Definitely.

CNN: How about her work habits?

Dumas: Alligators spend a large chunk of time doing absolutely nothing. They’re an ambush predator for the most part. They’re going to sit around and wait for something to come by. If it doesn’t, they’re fine.

Some would say Oleander will flourish here.

And, she believes in term limits. She’s only in Washington until February. Then she goes back home to her alligator farm in Florida.

She knows nobody should stay in Washington for too long.

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Filed under: Alligators
Payroll tax cuts: Job creation or Main Street bailout?
September 9th, 2011
08:27 PM ET

Payroll tax cuts: Job creation or Main Street bailout?

President Obama wants to cut payroll taxes in half to put more money in the pockets of workers under the premise that fatter paychecks mean people will buy more, leading to more jobs.

The White House figures that would put about $1,500 in the pockets of the average working family. That alone would cost the government some $175 billion next year, according to Moody's Analytics.

That’s almost twice what the president wants to spend putting people to work building things like roads, bridges and schools.

But is there any evidence that payroll tax cuts help boost the economy?

Opinions vary, but one thing is certain: It’s hard to predict what families will do with the extra cash, said economist Matthew Shapiro at the University of Michigan.

“Our findings suggest what they will do depends very much on what they expect the near future to look like,” Shapiro said.

If the economy’s looking weak, then people might hang on to that cash, he said.

But, if the economy picks up, “Households might be more comfortable spending the extra cash rather than using it as a buffer against a very uncertain future,” he said.

Shapiro has studied what people said they did with money they saved from payroll tax cuts in 2011. Most of them said they didn’t spend it. They used it to pay off debt or they saved it.

If that’s the case with Obama's latest cuts, that won't add much to economic growth.

That’s why government spending programs on roads, bridges and school repairs give more bang for the buck in boosting the economy, said Lawrence Mishel with the Economic Policy Institute. The government always spends money, though not always quickly.

"The government doesn’t save any money. They don’t pay any debt with it,” Mishel said. “They’re also less likely to generate imports. People, even when they go out and spend, may buy a bunch of stuff from China, which stimulates China, not the U.S."

However, giving workers more money helps in times like these, Mishel said. The money from this year’s payroll tax cut helped families deal with higher food and gasoline prices.

That may give a clue as to why the president's package would put the most money into fattening workers' paychecks - more than he would give in tax breaks to employers and more than he would give to brick-and-mortar projects that create jobs.

Bill McInturff is a Republican pollster whose job is taking the pulse of voters, especially swing voters. He has written about how the spiral in consumer confidence is tied to the downward spiral in people’s confidence in their leaders.

McInturff said he’s hearing one thing over and over in focus groups around the country.

"They’re saying, 'Look, the big banks got a bailout, the car companies got a bailout - who’s left to bail ME out?'"

Click the audio player to hear this story from CNN Radio's Libby Lewis:

You can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: Budget • Economy • Taxes
Manifesto evokes blurry line between myth and reality of Knights Templar
Anders Breivik's purported manifesto says he is a member of a new order of the Knights Templar.
July 28th, 2011
09:49 PM ET

Manifesto evokes blurry line between myth and reality of Knights Templar

“Perfect Knight I have always strived to be.”

Anders Breivik supposedly wrote those words in his diary last winter. Breivik admitted killing 76 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in Norway last week, his lawyer said.

CNN could not independently verify that the diary, titled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," was written by Breivik, 32.

According to the diary, he's a warrior on a quest to save Europe from Muslim colonization. Breivik wants the world to know he is a member of a new order of the Knights Templar, the medieval order that protected Christian pilgrims from Muslims in the Christian holy land between the 12th and 14th centuries.

Breivik wrote that the new order is devoted to fighting against the influx of Muslims and non-Europeans to the West.

The cover of the manifesto and the medals he forged for his fake military uniform have the sign of the Templars, a blood red cross on a white background.

Scotland Yard and experts on right-wing extremism don’t rule out there might be such a modern-day group named for the Knights Templar. But they have no evidence of it, other than what Breivik has said.

Click to hear story from CNN Radio's Libby Lewis:

Historian Paul Crawford has devoted his career to understanding the real Knights Templar. He doesn’t make the real Knights Templar out to be gods or heroes.


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Filed under: Crime • Norway
Walter Jones' war: Why lawmaker is challenging Obama on Libya
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, regrets voting to authorize the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
June 21st, 2011
03:50 PM ET

Walter Jones' war: Why lawmaker is challenging Obama on Libya

U.S. lawmakers are split over President Barack Obama's decision to take military action in Libya without getting congressional approval. Some of them are threatening to cut off funding for America's participation in NATO's bombing campaign.

That prospect has lit a fire of its own.

"The president did a lousy job of communicating and managing our involvement in Libya, but I will be no part of an effort to defund Libya or to try to cut off our efforts to bring (Libyan leader Moammar) Gadhafi down," U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

You can question the motivation of some lawmakers who are attacking Obama for the U.S. bombing of Libya.

For instance, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in 1995 voted to repeal the 1973 War Powers Resolution, the law that requires the president to get congressional approval for sending U.S. forces to war.  In 1999, Boehner called the resolution "constitutionally suspect." Now, Boehner is arguing Obama violated it with his actions in Libya.

But it's not so easy to question the motivations of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina.

Well, you can: It's a free country, and he'd probably welcome it. But you're better off spending your time some other way.

He's a Republican, yes. He's a conservative, yes. But mostly, he's driven - not to go after a Democratic president, but to pursue the beliefs that got burned into him with the war in Iraq.

Click the audio player to hear this story from CNN Radio's Libby Lewis:

CNN spoke with him at his office recently on Capitol Hill.

"I take war very seriously. I've not been to war," Jones said.


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Filed under: Libya • Military • North Carolina • Politics • Walter Jones
Military expert: Pakistan must have known where Osama bin Laden was hiding
Pakistani Police guard the sealed main gate of the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.
May 4th, 2011
07:20 PM ET

Military expert: Pakistan must have known where Osama bin Laden was hiding

While U.S. officials are questioning whether Pakistan knew Osama bin Laden was hiding in the country, so are Pakistanis.

Ayesha Siddiqa is an independent analyst and the author of "Military Inc: Inside Pakistan's Military." She has made it her career to understand Pakistan’s military - how it thinks and how it acts.

Based on those years of knowledge, she is convinced the military knew bin Laden was there. That he was hiding near Pakistan's military academy in Abbottabad is the strongest clue, she says.

In a society where the military and intelligence agencies keep tabs on its citizens, Pakistan would not allow anyone living so close to its elite military academy to go unexamined, she says.

But the government’s insistence that it did not know bin Laden was hiding in its midst has shaken its people, she says. There is a sense of vulnerability that is hard to shake - a sense of vulnerability both from outsiders like the U.S. and from within.

Listen to the full story here:

Listen to more CNN Radio Report podcasts on itunes or subscribe
to podcasts here.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan