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December 16th, 2009
09:54 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 12/16/09

Is Pres. Obama flip-flopping on a promise to let Americans buy cheaper prescription drugs from other countries? We're keeping them honest on health care tonight.

We're also tracking a mysterious story out of Texas. A 10-year-old boy was taken from his school bus by uniformed officers and returned to his father. It was all caught on tape. We'll show you the video. At the time, court officials believed the father should have custody. But now a warrant has been issued for the father, who's accused of using incomplete Mexican court documents to get his son.Ever since the tense moment on that school bus last month, the boy and his father haven't been seen. Tonight, you'll hear from the boy's mother who wants her son returned.

Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)


Filed under: Live Blog • T1
December 16th, 2009
07:15 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Drug Companies Cashing In?

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Is Pres. Obama flip-flopping on a promise to let Americans buy cheaper prescription drugs from other countries?

Here's what he said on the campaign trail last year:

"We'll tell the pharmaceutical companies, 'Thanks, but no thanks, for overpriced drugs'. Drugs that cost twice as much here as they do in Europe and Canada and Mexico.... we'll allow the safe reimportation of low-cost drugs from countries like Canada."

Seems the President forgot about making that comment.

With backing from the White House, the Senate has voted down measures that would have allowed low-cost drugs from other nations.

Tonight, we're keeping them honest. Joe Johns is tracking the reversal, which has links to the health care reform fight.

Speaking of health care, the debate was halted on the Senate floor today when Republicans insisted a 767-page amendment be read out load – word, for word.

By some estimates, the read-a-thon could have gone on for 12 hours, but Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who sponsored the amendment, withdrew the measure to stop the tactic in the third hour.

Sanders, an Independent, then blasted the GOP for trying to halt the U.S. government.

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who started the reading, defended the tactic in a statement posted on his web site.

"The American people deserve to understand the competing approaches to reform in the U.S. Senate. It's unfortunate that Senator Reid waited until the last minute to introduce his bill and now wants to rush it through the Senate. This reading will provide a dose of transparency that has been lacking in this debate," Coburn wrote.

Across the aisle, Democrats are firing back.

"It's not a stretch at this time of year to think of Ebenezer Scrooge, who when asked for a contribution for those in need replied, "What, are there no poorhouses?" My Republican colleagues are acting Scrooge-like during this holiday season. They are holding so tightly to their political tactics that they are forgetting the needs of others, forgetting the very democratic values they profess so fiercely to protect," Sen. Robert Menendez, (D) New Jersey, said.

What do you think of the GOP tactic? Sound off below.

We're also tracking a mysterious story out of Texas. A 10-year-old boy was taken from his school bus by uniformed officers and returned to his father.  It was all caught on tape. We'll show you the video.  At the time, court officials believed the father should have custody. But now a warrant has been issued for the father, who's accused of using incomplete Mexican court documents to get his son.

Ever since the tense moment on that school bus last month, the boy and his father haven't been seen. Tonight, you'll hear from the boy's mother who wants her son returned.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. on CNN. See you then!


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
December 16th, 2009
05:29 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/16/09

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

Sen. Joe Lieberman has emerged as the main obstacle to Senate Majority Leader Reid's efforts to get a health care bill through the Senate before Christmas, if ever.

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge


Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 16th, 2009
04:05 PM ET

Did lawmakers bow to Big Pharma's bucks?

The pharmaceutical and health products industry is the year's top industry, in terms of lobbying dollars spent.

The pharmaceutical and health products industry is the year's top industry, in terms of lobbying dollars spent.

Center for Responsive Politics

How much did drug makers spend to lobby the federal government? The pharmaceutical and health products industry is the year's top industry, in terms of lobbying dollars spent.

Take a look at a list of lobbyist spending, by sector.

And read more about how Big Pharma may have played a role in killing a proposal that allows pharmacies and wholesalers to import U.S.-approved medication from Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, where drug costs are far lower because of price controls.


Filed under: Health Care • President Barack Obama
December 16th, 2009
04:03 PM ET

Video: Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest

Editor's Note: We're following the climate summit in Copenhagen but we're not taking sides – we're reporting the facts. As part of our Planet in Peril report, Anderson traveled to the rainforest to examine the impact of logging, agribusiness and construction on the world's largest rainforest. Don't miss more of his Planet in Peril reporting on Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

The Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world and covers nearly 70 percent of Brazil. The rainforest produces about 20 percent of the Earth's oxygen and plays a big role in controlling the climate of the entire planet. The Amazon also is home to more species of plants and animals than any other ecosystem on Earth, 30 percent of the world's total.

About one-fifth of the Amazon has disappeared in the past three decades. The causes are many: Logging, both legal and illegal; construction of homes and roads; and agri-business clearing land to plant crops or graze cattle.

The Brazilian government says the situation is getting better and that federal police are cracking down on illegal logging, in particular. But critics say there aren't enough agents on the ground and that more land needs to be put under federal protection.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Planet in Peril
December 16th, 2009
03:54 PM ET
December 16th, 2009
03:52 PM ET

Missing Utah woman: Foul play suspected

____________________________________________________________________

Susan Powell, 28, has been missing since December 6.

Susan Powell, 28, has been missing since December 6.

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Police searching for a missing Utah woman believe she may have been the victim of a crime. “There is circumstantial evidence of foul play going on here,” said Asst. Chief Craig Black of the West Valley Police Department. “Everything points that she did not leave on her own.

Susan Powell, 28, has not been seen or heard from since December 6. Joshua Powell told police she was at home early Sunday morning when he took their two young children on a camping trip in a remote area of the state, authorities said. Powell claims his wife was not home when they returned on Tuesday.

Powell has retained a Salt Lake City attorney who police said was present while the DNA sample was taken. Capt. McLachlan said Powell also briefly talked with investigators. "We were able to ask him a few questions," he said, "Not everything we wanted to ask him. We hope to have an additional interview later on.

FULL POST


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
December 16th, 2009
03:46 PM ET

Family doctor is key to reform

In a survey from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 94 percent of patients preferred seeing a primary care doctor first for their medical issues.

In a survey from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 94 percent of patients preferred seeing a primary care doctor first for their medical issues.

Rahul Parikh and Kevin Pho
Special to CNN

America is closer to meaningful health care reform than at any time in its history. As we have all witnessed, finding a way to both provide every American access to affordable health care while seeking to control health care costs has not been easy.

Many of the proposed solutions have led to sharp disagreements, with contention surrounding what role government should play.

One goal all sides can agree on, but have yet to meaningfully address, is the need to end the crisis of primary care in the United States.

Without taking steps to fix it, any attempt at reforming our health system cannot succeed.

Consider that the number of patients without a primary care doctor is estimated to be 60 million, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers. Most patients want their medical care to be consolidated at a single office, provided by clinicians who know them well. In a survey from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 94 percent of patients preferred seeing a primary care doctor first for their medical issues.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: Health Care
December 16th, 2009
02:06 PM ET

The 25 people who mattered in 2009

Neda Agha-Soltan was killed on June 29, 2009

Neda Agha-Soltan was killed on June 29, 2009

Time

We'll never know the man who stood in front of those tanks in Tiananmen Square, but we do know Neda Agha-Soltan: we've looked into her eyes. For one gut-wrenching moment, as she lay dying from the bullet in her heart on that Tehran side street last June, Neda stared directly into the cell phone that was about to immortalize her. Within hours, millions of people around the world had been beseeched by those fading eyes, making an intimate connection with the 27-year-old music student and the cause for which she was killed by the thugs of an embattled regime. Before Neda's murder, the street protests against Iran's stolen election had been a revolution without a face, doomed to be crushed by brute authority and eventually forgotten. But Neda's dying gaze drew the eyes of the world. We can neither look away nor forget.

Go here to discover all 25 people who mattered in 2009

December 16th, 2009
12:58 PM ET

Time is running out at COP15

Delegates from Burkina Faso at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen which run from December 7 to 18.

J. Timmons Roberts
Director of Center Environmental Studies, Brown University

It’s mid-evening, and yet the meeting has not yet begun. I’m sitting in a huge UN plenary negotiating hall with rows and rows of tables, each with a black plaque bearing a country’s name – nearly every country in the world – and lots of acronyms for agencies you’ve probably never heard of, all facing a long table and two huge video monitors. A row of tiny booths for interpreters lines one wall.

It took me a long while to notice among the sea of black country plaques the one white one indicating a nation that never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and therefore is not allowed to speak here: the United States.

Watching can be interesting, or deadly boring.

This is the time when negotiations shift gears. Foreign affairs ministers have arrived, as have a few heads of state, such as Britain’s Gordon Brown. The fifteen or so negotiating groups are due to finalize their prosposals, with the big issues worked out, so that final details can be tidied in time for the world leaders who will arrive in the next several days.

Read More...


Filed under: Environmental issues
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