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June 20th, 2010
09:59 PM ET

Tony Blair on Gaza Blockade

Israel says it will ease its blockade of Gaza.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement following a meeting of the Israeli Security Cabinet Sunday.

The  announcement comes three weeks after Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla.

Israel says it will allow civilian goods to enter Gaza, but military equipment and weapons are still banned.  Its naval blockade of Gaza remains in place.

The U.S. welcomed the new policy, saying in a statement it will improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza while preventing the entry of weapons.

A member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee said the move is, in part, a reaction to international pressure and "does not meet the minimal needs of the people of Gaza to live in dignity."

Special Middle East Envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was in Jerusalem working to ease the blockade.   He says he looks forward to working with the Government of Israel and other partners to implement  the new Gaza policy

Moments after the announcement, Mr. Blair spoke with CNN's Fredricka Whitfield in an extended interview.

Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Fredricka Whitfield • Josh Levs
June 20th, 2010
09:35 PM ET

Josh & Reynolds in Jib Jab Form

Join Josh Levs and Reynolds Wolf weekend mornings in the CNN Newsroom with TJ Holmes beginning 6am ET/ 3am PT

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Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Josh Levs
June 20th, 2010
09:30 PM ET

Happy Father's Day

To all fathers, step-fathers, fathers-in-law and everyone who plays the role of a father, thank you. The folks behind the scenes of CNN Saturday and Sunday Morning brought a few pictures in today to honor the Dads on staff and/or in their lives.

Join TJ Holmes weekend mornings in the CNN Newsroom, beginning 6am ET/3am PT.

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Filed under: CNN Newsroom
June 20th, 2010
09:24 PM ET

Look for Melissa Dawn Johnson's motivational minutes in the 8 o'clock hour of CNN Sunday Morning with TJ Holmes.

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June 20th, 2010
02:51 PM ET

Golden Pebbles

From Sports Business Analyst Rick Horrow:

Is the PGA Tour's most egalitarian tournament too exclusionary when it’s held in a tiny upscale market like Pebble Beach, where the average hotel room tops $1,445 in a slow season?

In 1919, developer Samuel F.P. Morse decided to build a golf course in order to create more interest around ocean-view property he was trying to sell in Monterey County, California. Over the past century, the Pebble Beach Golf Links has generated more than its share of U.S. Open excitement, from Bobby Jones losing in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur championship to Arnold Palmer’s breakthrough victory in 1960, Tom Watson’s 1982 chip-in, and Tiger Woods’ victory by a record 15 strokes a decade ago.

The U.S. Open returned to Pebble Beach this week for the fifth time in its history. And as the buzz and the spectator capacity has escalated over time, so have the prices.

Hosting the U.S. Open usually brings in $100 million in economic impact to local community, but Bill Perocchi, CEO of the Pebble Beach Company, estimates that visitors during the Open this week will spend $150 million in hotels, restaurants, retail stores and other business venues.

Even during non-Major days, Pebble Beach is not for the faint of heart or slender of wallet. The course’s three infamous “Cliffs of Doom” holes (the 8th, 9th, and 10th) confound even scratch amateurs, as regularly witnessed during the course’s annual AT&T ProAm, and a round there will set you back $495. (Resort guests get a cart thrown in.) Lodging at the Lodge packs a wallop: The least-expensive Garden View rooms go for $695 a night, a view of the Pacific will cost you $965, and suites range from $1,800-$2,250. What’s more, a minimum two-night stay is required to play the Pebble Beach course.

As always during America’s mega-events, local hoteliers take full advantage of sports travelers, and this week on the Monterey Peninsula and beyond is no different. Even lower-end lodging is at a premium, with the modest Knights Inn in Monterey costing $300 per night ($64 on a Thursday night in mid-September), the Holiday Inn Express at Monterey Bay at $437 per night ($97 in Sept.), and the Embassy Suites in Seaside $519 per night now, $161 per night then.

Corporations don’t get off any easier. Alongside returning USGA partners American Express, IBM, Rolex, and RBS, companies entertaining at the U.S. Open purchased almost 100 percent of the hospitality venues available, from $155,000 chalets with seating for 40 to rooms in the world-famous Lodge at Pebble Beach from $195,000 to $350,000.

As’s David Dusek notes: “The official car of the USGA's U.S. Open is, um, not American. It's a Lexus.”

By Sunday, the Open’s leaderboard looked a little more diverse than the typical Pebble Beach patronage, with Dustin Johnson, who attended a small South Carolina school and started his career grinding it out on the Nationwide tour, at the top. Sharing top 10 space were Graeme McDowell from gritty Northern Ireland, unsung Frenchman Gregory Havret, Czech/German Alex Cejka, South Africa’s Tim Clark, and 18-year-old Japanese phenom Ryo Ishikawa. (And yes, a couple of American guys named Tiger and Phil.)

The PGA Tour goes ever more global, and perhaps the USGA has realized the importance of dialing it down a bit during a time of nearly 10 percent unemployment – last week, the organization awarded the 2017 U.S. Open to Erin Hills, a public course 35 miles from Milwaukee, right in the heart of the American Midwest.

Rick Horrow is a Sports Business Analyst and frequent contributor to CNN. He is also co-author of "Beyond the Box Score: An Insider’s Guide to the $750 Billion Business of Sports"

Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Don Lemon
June 20th, 2010
02:11 PM ET

World's Richest Asked to Donate Half Their Fortunes

By CNN Intern Rachel Gaynes:
Two of America’s richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, have invited fellow billionaires to join a very exclusive club. They want them to give half their wealth to charity. The unusual initiative is being promoted through the website, “The Giving Pledge,” and is aimed at members of the Forbes 400. Philanthropist Eli Broad, worth an estimated $6 billion, was the first to make the promise. The pitch is framed as an ethical and moral issue. CNN’s Don Lemon discussed the provocative idea with Prof. Peter Singer of Princeton University, an outspoken advocate of using private wealth to alleviate global poverty.

Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Don Lemon
June 20th, 2010
03:02 AM ET

Remembering Dad

Don't know what to buy Dad for Fathers Day? Digital Lifestyle Expert Mario Armstrong has the scoop on some of the must-have gadgets that would make any Dad happy.

Look for Mario Armstrong's everything tech segments in the 8 o'clock hour of CNN Saturday Morning with TJ Holmes.

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Filed under: CNN Newsroom
June 20th, 2010
03:01 AM ET

To Boycott or Not

The Mayor of Ormond Beach, Florida tells TJ Holmes why he's asking employees and resident to support BP.

Join TJ Holmes weekend mornings in the CNN Newsroom, beginning 6am ET/ 3am PT.

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June 20th, 2010
02:49 AM ET

Who Really Gets Hurt by BP Boycotts

Owners of BP branded gas stations say they're seeing a drop in business because of the oil leak. Consumers are taking their protest of the oil giant to the streets and their local gas pump.

We're also seeing organized boycotts of BP gas stations gaining traction on social media wites. Station owners say they understand the sentiment, but call the protests misdirected.

Join Josh Levs along with TJ Holmes weekend mornings in the CNN Newsroom with TJ Holmes, beginning 6am ET/ 3am PT.

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Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Josh Levs

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