April 16, 2009
Posted: 1242 GMT

Filed under: Barack Obama •CNN •I-Desk Poll

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April 15, 2009
Posted: 1841 GMT

We received a rousing response to last week’s poll in which we asked whether your views of the U.S. had changed after Barack Obama’s trip to Europe. Below we’ve posted some of your comments and continue to invite your comments on this and any other topic.

Barack Obama was very clear about the mistakes the US made but I also agreed with him that Europe and the rest of the world focus too much on negative events and seem to forget the many good things the US does. The leading country in the world is involved in almost everything that happens. Nobody’s perfect, neither is the US, but Obama made clear that it was, is and will always be a great nation!
– Johan

Obama himself has not changed my view on the US (yet) – you always had great (and even many “greater”) guys like him! The fact that the US elected him president and his approval rates are still so high up however has changed a lot – and at least over here only for the better!!!
– Ulf Kleinings

I think president Obama’s approach to things will greatly improve the image of the United States of America in the eyes of the rest of the world.
But i think it will be wrong for people to sit back and hope that only “One Man” can bring change to the world, only one person can cure the world of the current economic crisis. True change lies in the hands of each and every one of us in our own little way. Only then can we move forward.
That’s my opinion!
– Ifeanyi

Again, just because we didn’t post doesn’t mean we didn’t appreciate your comment, we just didn’t have the space! Keep em’ coming and we’ll keep trying to highlight as many as we can.

Filed under: CNN •Comments

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Posted: 1503 GMT

Hello everyone,

Back after a few days off, I'm confronted once again with a flurry of economic indicators. Understanding the current economic slump means analyzing numbers. So let's crunch away!

First, consumer prices are down (o.1% in March versus an expected rise of 0.1%.) This mean inflation is not a problem. This mean central banks can continue to inject cash into the economy and not worry that prices will spiral out of control.

But though inflation is down, "core inflation" is not. Core inflation is inflation minus energy and food prices. This means that by at least one important measure, prices aren't falling but still moderately rising. This may temper how aggressively the economy can be stimulated.

Then there is industrial production. It was down again in March for the 14th time in 15 months. This is one of the most troubling signs: companies are not producing as much as they could because they want to reduce inventories. They are not confident about the future.

Consumers aren't spending. Factories are not producing. Banks have still a long way to go before they start lending money at a level that will kickstart growth.

The numbers on the page tell one story. The reality on the ground is that people are scared. Fear of a protracted recession means even the CEO of America's retailing behemoth doesn't see an end to his troubles anytime soon.

"It's not a V recession, " Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke told a U.S. network, "where we're just going to bounce out and come back."

We'll analyze all the numbers and also discuss banking giant UBS's 7,500 job cuts. Two years into this and banks are still shedding thousands of jobs. We'll look at what this means for ordinary consumers.

Also today, more pirate news. The French navy has apparently detained 11 pirates and a U.S. aid ship escape heave pirate fire off the African coast. We are live in Kenya.

We are also live in Kabul where brave women are today protesting against a Shiite marriage law. They are risking their lives to say no to legislation that essentially legalizes spousal rape and that critics say Afghan president Hamid Karzai initially approved for political reasons. It takes courage to protest against the establishment. In Afghanistan, for women, it takes heroism.

That and the rest of the day's news live at the International Desk.

See you on TV,


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Filed under: Today At The I-Desk

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April 14, 2009
Posted: 1347 GMT

Hey All-

We missed you yesterday, so today we’ll have to make our entry twice as fun.

First off, the lovely Isha Sesay is hosting again, while Hala gets another day of R & R.

Now to the good stuff: U.S. President Barack Obama is addressing the economy, in a speech today at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. How will his words affect today’s markets? Will he increase confidence in a not-too-far-off recovery?

We’ll bring you that speech; and, we’ll be talking with our man Richard Quest about this and more.

Also, our Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider has some interesting new numbers just released, about whether people think President Obama has a plan to save the economy.

Morgan Neill will be live from Cuba to discuss recent comments made by Fidel Castro on President Obama’s easing of travel restrictions to the communist country. Castro says he doesn’t want “charity”, so then what does he want?

Pirates, pirates and more pirates– ships keep getting hijacked off the Horn of Africa. This time it’s a Greek cargo ship. Can these Somali pirates be stopped and if so, how? When will these ships start trying to combat the terror?

And an interesting new study will be published next week by a group of University of Southern California scientists about the effects of Twitter on the development of morality. It says that the streams of information are too fast for the brain’s “moral compass.” What does this mean and is it something to be worried about for yourself or your kids?

We here at I-Desk certainly don’t suffer from any moral deficiencies… but, then again, we missed the online social network-age by a few years.

We’ll have all this and more so tune in. Till airtime!!

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Filed under: CNN •Economy •Today At The I-Desk

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Posted: 1306 GMT

Filed under: CNN •Economy •I-Desk Poll

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April 12, 2009
Posted: 2042 GMT


I have had the good fortune of living in Rome, Italy in my past lives. For a semester as a college junior in 2006, and then last year immediately following my graduation from college. And now that the week has passed, and the temporal vapors have settled and lifted, and the dead have begun to be mourned, I can finally report back what I have heard and seen.

First, it’s important to note a few things: L’Aquila is the center of the region of Abruzzo with a population of more than 70,000, so will naturally attract most of the media’s interest. As well it should. Its infrastructure has been devastated, its people frightened, killed and ruined. As one friend I spoke to, who lives in the region said, “it simply doesn't exist anymore.”

But the whole of Abruzzo, with its population of more than a million, has suffered too, with many towns being leveled. My friend, whose brother by the way lost a home in L’Aquila, put it bluntly: “We're scared, we don't know if our houses are safe or not and we don't feel comfortable. There have been many earthquakes after the big one and they brought more troubles.” She told me this as she prepared for a night of sleep under her house beams. This to provide what protection she could get in case her house came tumbling down.

And amongst those towns that still remain standing—albeit somewhat reluctantly and uncertainly– are families, some of which have roots in the area stretching back centuries. They’re unwilling to vacate the tenuously erect infrastructure that surrounds them. They remain clinging to the only lives they know. Lives that are on the verge of collapsing, literally. “Thousands of people are still living there,” my friend said. “They don't want to move, since they still want to stay in their town, close to their community.”

Italy is not accustomed to such national crises or disasters, but the country has rallied. A friend in Rome told me that there has been an overwhelming outpouring of aid. People, even in these tough economic times, are donating money in hopes of helping out. Another friend in Rome, a journalist, told me he had heard over 170 hotels in Abruzzo alone were offering free accommodation to those affected by the earthquake. It’s been proposed politicians give their April wages away and that the superenalotto, the countries biggest lottery drawing, be given to recovery efforts.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President Giorgio Napolitano by all acounts have been copascetic in their leadership. Regardless, some journalists in Italy say Italians don’t often look to their politicians for strength. Berlusconi especially, a media mogul and a businessman, with a knack for incendiary speech who has held his current post three different times in the last 15 years, has been criticized for getting by more on his familiarity than anything else.

So it is the communal bonds that will most likely save these leveled towns now, as Italians look to each other to recover. And they will. This is an ancient culture that has withstood plenty. And maybe fewer churches will stand, and fewer ancient buildings too, and they will be replaced by uglier, surely less beautiful buildings, but they will be rebuilt, slowly and through time.

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Filed under: Italy Earthquake

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April 10, 2009
Posted: 1502 GMT

Hello everyone,

Our two lead stories throughout the week continue to top our rundown.

We will kick things off with funeral masses in central Italy for dozens of the victims of the Aquila earthquake.

Our Paula Newton tells us the victims haven't reached the "coping" stage of the grieving process yet. They are still in shock. Their lives, their homes, in ruins. We'll take you there live.

Also today, the dramatic standoff in the high seas off Somalia. Captain Richard Phillips, whose merchant ship was attacked by pirates earlier this week, is still being held hostage on a drifting lifeboat.

There's a U.S. Navy destroyer, FBI hostage negotiators, two more ships are on the way and President Obama is monitoring developments. To add to the drama, Captain Phillips today tried to make a break for freedom but was re-captured.

We're live in the Gulf with Barbara Starr and at the Pentagon with Chris Lawrence.

Also today, we'll look at violence in America's two war zones: Afghanistan and Iraq. In northern Iraq today, five American soldiers were killed in a massive truck bomb. It's the deadliest attack against the U.S. military in Iraq in over a year. We are live in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Markets are closed today for Good Friday, but I had fun reading Paul Krugman's Oped in the New York Times about the need to make banking "boring" again. When left unchecked, as it was for a few decades before the current meltdown, Krugman writes that finance "turned into the monster that ate the world economy."

We'll put that debate to one side today and give bankers a break on a public holiday.

Finally, don't forget to vote in our I-Desk poll today. Today we're asking whether you think President Obama's increased spending on America's wars will make a difference to the violence in the region.

See you on TV,


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Filed under: Today At The I-Desk

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Posted: 1439 GMT

Filed under: Afghanistan •I-Desk Poll •Pakistan

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Posted: 1237 GMT

Check out the footage we shot on our flipcam! Hope you enjoy!

Filed under: Behind the scenes •CNN •I

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April 9, 2009
Posted: 1443 GMT


Hello everyone,

The pirate attack on a U.S.-flagged ship  off the horn of Africa has become a hostage standoff. The mood is tense, and FBI negotiators were called in to bargain for the release Maersk Alabama Captain.

You saw it unfold on CNN: the ship was attacked yesterday by armed pirates. The crew then managed to fend them off. But the pirates abducted Captain Richard Phillips and are still holding him on one of the cargo ship's lifeboats.

We'll be live in the Gulf with the latest on the tense negotiations.

Also on tap: the grief and the hopelessness of those who lost loved ones in the Aquila earthquake in central Italy. Families are already starting to bury the dead. We will go live to Italy and discuss tomorrow's plan for mass funerals on Good Friday.

We will also analyze the latest economic numbers and corporate results. In layman's terms, the number of people filing jobless claims is high, but not as high as expected. It's bad – not atrocious. And these days, NOT atrocious sends markets higher.

The real question is: are we bouncing back? President Obama is cheering from the sidelines. The American president says people should refinance their homes or buy new ones. The rates are low, he says. Tell the banks that.

Also at the International Desk, new pictures of reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and the latest on the imprisonment of an American reporter in Iran.

If times permits: the story of a cat burglar in Idaho who is actually a real cat. I'm still wrapping my mind around that one.

See you on TV,


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Filed under: Today At The I-Desk

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International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

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