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Terrorism or criminal act?
Notes and shirts sit outside Woolwich Barracks on May 23 – after a Muslim extremist killed an off-duty soldier who was wearing a "Help for Heroes" shirt when he was killed.
May 30th, 2013
09:03 AM ET

Terrorism or criminal act?

By Libby Lewis, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - Remi Brulin loves tracking the way America thinks about and talks about terrorism. He’s been doing it for years. He’s a visiting scholar at NYU’s Journalism Institute.

[1:47] Most people sort of agree on what terrorism should be. There’s violence of course, or the threat of violence. There’s the political aspect of it – and then there’s the issue of the target. Most people would agree the targets have to be civilians or non-combatants. There is a sort of agreement – until you start applying it to particular cases.

Then, Brulin says, all bets are off.

One reason is, no one can quite agree on a definition. A corollary of that is: it’s hard to keep politics out of it.

Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert who’s director of Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies, remembers following the media coverage when Chechen terrorists laid siege to a school in Russia in 2004.

[3:34] All of the newspapers went out of their way to avoid using the word ‘terrorists’ and to call them fighters, militants, separatists. And I thought to myself, Gosh, if a bunch of armed people taking over a school with children – forcing children and their parents and their relatives and their teachers to live in horrible conditions for days on end, threatening them with death – I mean, if that’s not terrorism, what is? And yet, almost no newspaper of record or major media would call them terrorists.

That’s because the Chechens were fighting Russia – and at the time, Russia was no friend of the U.S.

Now, Hoffman says, terrorism has become a subjective term. He thinks there’s almost a fear of using the word and triggering a reaction – that’s a legacy of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

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Filed under: Crime • International • Justice • Politics • Soundwaves • Stories
Who cares about Jodi Arias?
May 23rd, 2013
05:15 PM ET

Who cares about Jodi Arias?

By Tommy Andres, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - The 12 people who unanimously convicted Jodi Arias of first degree murder earlier this month are having a little more trouble deciding whether she should live or die. They've been mulling it over all week, and if they can't come to an agreement, Arias could get a new trial with a new jury.

Twelve new people who will have to make that life-or-death decision.

As the country awaits an answer to that giant question, we wanted the answer to a different one. Why is this case so dang popular?

CNN's sister network HLN has been leading the coverage of the trial since it began on January 2, and it's been a big ratings boon.

We met up with HLN After Dark Executive Producer Jennifer Bernstein on a television set that may just make television history: a life-sized model of Travis Alexander's apartment where Jodi Arias murdered him.

Bernstein told us about the thought process behind the display's creation:

[0:41] "In recreating this killing scene, which is something unusual for HLN, we hadn't done something to this scale before – we had concerns about going too far and what is that line that you cross. So, to be honest with you, there was a lot more blood in that crime scene. This was a man who was stabbed almost 30 times, his throat was slit. He was shot. So you can imagine there was a lot of blood in that crime scene. And when we first built this we had a lot more red paint marking the blood. After meeting, we decided it was too much so we actually painted back over it to scale it down."

Bernstein says she thinks HLN viewers who have gotten wrapped up in the case are very smart. She describes them as couch jurors and psychiatrists:

[2:26] "Along the way they've emailed very detailed questions and observations, sometimes observations that our own trial experts hadn't picked up on. Everything we've done has been in response to their involvement. So, we've seen a huge interest online and acting as that 13th juror, with people giving their take and, if they were on the jury, what questions they would be asking."

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Filed under: Crime • Culture • Media • Soundwaves • Stories
A mother's daily fear in the land of opportunity
Undocumented immigrants with US-born children worry that deportations will break up their families.
May 17th, 2013
12:18 PM ET

A mother's daily fear in the land of opportunity

By Jim Roope, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @JimroopeCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - A quarter of the estimated 11-million illegal immigrants in the U.S. live in California. That's according to a recent study from the University of Southern California. The study also shows that in some parts of Los Angeles, one in three people have no legal right to be there.

[1:10] “When you are so poor and you don’t even have three meals a day, the only thing you think about is going to a place where you’ll be able to feed your kid. You don’t even realize that there is a border to cross. You don’t know that.”

Isabel Medina crossed into the U.S. from Mexico illegally in 1996, with her husband Felipe and then 1-year-old child. Since arriving 17 years ago, she’s had two other children who are lawfully U.S. citizens. Her family receives no government subsidies; no welfare, no food stamps, nothing. They do take advantage of the public school system. She lives with the daily fear of her family being broken up. FULL POST

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Illegal immigrants should apologize says priest
Father Gary Graf of Chicago's Saint Gall Catholic Church wants illegal immigrant to aplogize to Americans.
May 4th, 2013
07:00 AM ET

Illegal immigrants should apologize says priest

By Nova Safo, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @Nova_Safo

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - A Chicago priest is making headlines for having done something that likely no other American has experienced: he crossed into Mexico – and then crossed back into the U.S. illegally. He says he did it to understand what many in his mostly Latino congregation have gone through. And he has a message for them: apologize if you’ve come here illegally.

Father Gary Graf of Chicago’s Saint Gall Catholic church on the city's south side serves a predominantly Latino and immigrant part of town. He’s a charismatic figure, in his 50’s and in good shape. He used to be a boxer and he’s got a deep, dark tan. The tan is the result of his walk through the desert at the U-S-Mexico border, where he crossed back into the U-S illegally.

[1:25] “I’ve lived in Mexico, know language, culture. Lived among them here in the states. But have never experienced getting here the way they got here – the vast majority of them,” he says.

The experience, he says, has resulted in a simple message to illegal immigrants:

[4:40] “Sorry. Thank you. I need your help.” FULL POST

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Filed under: Behavior • Crime • Faith • International • Justice • Politics • Soundwaves • Stories
Should the Tsarnaevs have been here?
The Tsarnaev brothers on April 15th, behind barricades at the Boston Marathon, before the bombs went off.
May 2nd, 2013
10:22 AM ET

Should the Tsarnaevs have been here?

By Libby Lewis, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

Follow on Twitter: @libbylewisCNN

(CNN) - Let’s face it: there is a politically sensitive immigration question about the Tsarnaev brothers, who are accused of carrying out the deadly Boston Marathon bombing.

Why were they here?

It’s so sensitive, of course, it’s mostly the familiar critics of the nation’s immigration policies who are voicing it.

But they’re not the only ones, if you dig a little.

Robert Baer, the retired CIA agent who spent part of his career in the former Soviet Union, asks the uncomfortable question on the Tsarnaevs – who are ethnic Chechens from Russia’s Northern Caucasus:

[0:37] “The point is – Should they have been here? Were they truly political refugees?”

And if the answer to those questions is no, what does that say about how America deals with refugees and asylum seekers?

Listen to our full story in the player above.

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

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Filed under: Crime • International • Politics • Soundwaves • Stories
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