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December 21st, 2009
04:42 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/21/09

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:

USA House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi grimaces during a press conference at the Bella Center in Copenhagen on December 17, 2009. (AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Staff:

Chuck Hadad

"That’s the last time I try a slice of Cindy McCain’s Christmas fruit cake."

Viewer:

Bob, Massillon, OH

"Speaker Pelosi just found out Senator Joe Leiberman picked her name in the annual Christmas gift exchange."

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge


Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 21st, 2009
03:20 PM ET

CNN Poll: 6 point jump in support for health care bill

Support for the health care reform bill that Democrats are pushing through the Senate has risen six points since early December.

Support for the health care reform bill that Democrats are pushing through the Senate has risen six points since early December.

CNN

Support for the health care reform bill that Democrats are pushing through the Senate has risen six points since early December, according to a new national poll, and although a majority of Americans still oppose its passage, only four in ten agree with Senate Republicans that the bill is too liberal.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Monday, also indicates that President Barack Obama's approval rating has experienced a similar six-point rise.

According to the poll, 42 percent of Americans, based on what they've read or heard about the bill, support Senate Democrat's legislation. That's up from 36 percent in a poll conducted December 2-3. Nonetheless, a majority of people questioned in the survey, 56 percent, oppose the bill.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Wednesday through Sunday, as Senate Democrats were negotiating a final health care bill, but before a crucial party-line vote early Monday morning to end debate, a huge hurdle to eventual passage of the legislation that the Democrats successfully were able to jump.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: Health Care
December 21st, 2009
02:59 PM ET

$10,000 reward for missing Utah woman

____________________________________________________________________

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

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

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the location of missing Utah mother Susan Powell, authorities announced today. West Valley City Police spokesman Capt. Tom McLachlan said the offer was made by an anonymous donor.

It has been more than two weeks since Powell, 28, disappeared from her home. Her husband, Joshua Powell, said she was not in the house when he and their two small children returned from a camping trip. Mr. Powell has been named a person of interest in the case, West Valley City police said. He has provided a sample of his DNA to the authorities, police added.

A candlelight vigil for Susan Powell was held Sunday evening near her family’s home in Washington State. “We had a very short presentation,” said family spokesperson Shelby Gifford. “ I read a statement from the family. We had a poster that people could sign. We lit candles and sang a hymn and then sang a closing prayer.”

FULL POST


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
December 21st, 2009
01:29 PM ET

Cynthia Nixon: Abortion debate's new voice


Cynthia Nixon is speaking out against provisions in the House and Senate health care bills that limit coverage for abortions.

Breeanna Hare
CNN

It's been a little more than a week since Cynthia Nixon flew back from filming "Sex and the City 2" in Morocco, and she's already diving headfirst into the debate surrounding abortion and health care reform.

Nixon, a longtime abortion rights activist, says she can't keep quiet about the recent health care bill amendments that would limit insurance coverage for abortions.

"It's a very basic female right that we need to protect," Nixon said. "What's so frightening about this Stupak ban is that he's found a backdoor way to basically not cover abortion for the vast majority of American women."

The Stupak-Pitts amendment, written by Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and Republican Rep. Joseph R. Pitts of Pennsylvania, is a point of contention in the House health care bill. The amendment would limit funds in the health care bill, preventing subsidies from directly paying for abortions and also from paying for any insurance plan that covers abortions.

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Filed under: Health Care • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
December 21st, 2009
12:12 PM ET

In Iraq, an opening for successful diplomacy

U.S. soldiers stand guard outside a mosque during a prisoner release in Baghdad, Iraq.

U.S. soldiers stand guard outside a mosque during a prisoner release in Baghdad, Iraq.

Fareed Zakaria | BIO
For the Washington Post

Remember Iraq? For months our attention has been focused on Afghanistan, and you can be sure that the surge will be covered exhaustively as it unfolds in 2010. But next year could be even more pivotal in Iraq.

The country will hold elections in March to determine its political future. Months of parliamentary horse-trading are likely to ensue, which could provoke a return to violence. The United States still has 120,000 troops stationed in Iraq, and all combat forces are scheduled to leave by August, further testing the country's ability to handle its own security. How we draw down in Iraq is just as critical as how we ramp up in Afghanistan: If handled badly, this withdrawal could be a disaster. Handled well, it could be a significant success.

Let's review some history. The surge in Iraq was a success in military terms. It defeated a nasty insurgency, reduced violence substantially and stabilized the country. But the purpose of the surge was, in President George Bush's formulation, to give Iraq's leaders a chance to resolve their major political differences. It was these differences - particularly between Sunnis and Shiites - that fueled the civil war in the first place. If they were not resolved, the war might well begin anew or take some other form that would doom Iraq to a breakup or a breakdown.

Read More...


Filed under: Fareed Zakaria • Iraq
December 21st, 2009
11:54 AM ET

Why health care bill is too big a risk

David Frum
Special to CNN

I wanted to support President Obama's health care reforms if I possibly could.

The U.S. health care system costs too much, delivers too little and excludes too many. Americans pay 60 percent more per person for health care than any other nation. Yet Americans rank only 41st in life expectancy and live with the paralyzing fear that the loss of a job means the loss of coverage.

Rising health care costs are devouring worker pay. Employers pay 25 percent more per hour on average for labor in 2006 than they did in 2000. Yet not one dime of that extra money reached workers. All of it was gobbled up by the surging cost of health care benefits. The typical worker actually earned less after inflation in 2006 than in 2000.

Health care drives federal spending. The U.S. government will spend twice as much this year on Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs as on national defense, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: Health Care • President Barack Obama
December 21st, 2009
11:45 AM ET

Dear President Obama #336: It's all in the timing

Reporter's Note: After much ado the U.S. Senate passed its version of health care reform in the very early hours of this morning. Accordingly, I was up very late covering it…and then writing this letter.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on clearing the most recent hurdle on this whole health care reform business, but when it comes to the timing, I must say “Bad form, Pan!” Seriously, do your pals over in the Senate not possess a calendar? Or watches? After so many months of talk, and deals, and talk, and compromises, and talk, and talk, and talk, how is it possible that such a key vote winds up scheduled at one o’clock in the morning, with the chimes of Christmas already sounding?

I understand that this is a very important bill for all those who favor it; and that you believe it is crucial for every citizen of the country. So, in turn, I grasp the notion that you may want to push through willy-nilly to the end no matter what the calendar or clock has to say.

But regardless of the merits or weaknesses of the plan, I’ve got to tell you it just seems shady or at least wildly undisciplined, to be voting on something as monumental as this in the middle of the night with the holidays breathing down our necks. Maybe I’ve read too many stories over the years of Congress members from both parties sledge-hammering through shoddy legislation in last minute dashes for the wire.

FULL POST

December 21st, 2009
11:43 AM ET

Why Hollywood security is better than Pentagon's

A USAF technician at Creech Air Force Base, checks Hellfire missile attachments on a Predator.

A USAF technician at Creech Air Force Base, checks Hellfire missile attachments on a Predator.

P.W. Singer
Special to CNN

It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster: A group of insurgents hack into American military drones, using software they got off the Internet, according to The Wall Street Journal. But, for the benefit of that screenwriter likely pounding away right now to get his idea in first - as well as for the general public - what actually happened?

Essentially, three trends are coming together in war.

First is the growing use of unmanned systems, something I explore in my book "Wired for War." Just a few years ago, the U.S. military had no interest in unmanned systems. Indeed, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, we had only a handful of unmanned systems in the air and zero on the ground in the invasion force, none of them armed.

Today, we have more than 7,000 in the air, ranging from the 48-foot-long Predator to tiny ones that can fit in a backpack, and 12,000 on the ground, such as the Packbot and Talon systems that hunt down roadside bombs. Many of these systems are armed, giving new meaning to the term "killer app."

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Filed under: Pentagon
December 21st, 2009
11:33 AM ET

Let Saab keep following its own road

With a deadline to sell Saab by December 31, General Motors ended negotiations with a potential buyer Friday.

With a deadline to sell Saab by December 31, General Motors ended negotiations with a potential buyer Friday.

Steven Wade
Special to CNN

My name is Steven Wade and I'm a Saaboholic.

I own three of them, though that's not many by Saab collector standards. I write about Saabs daily on a Web site that I've been running for close to five years now. I've traveled to Sweden twice to look at them, as well as to the Detroit and Frankfurt auto shows. Did I mention that I live in Hobart, Australia, which is almost as far away from Sweden as you can get.

Tens of thousands of people visit my Web site, viewing almost 400,000 pages during November 2009. Many of them contributed articles and news tips. And all of them are in mourning today.

With a deadline to sell Saab by December 31, General Motors ended negotiations with a potential buyer Friday and said it will begin an orderly windup of Saab early in 2010 unless another buyer emerges. (Spyker, a Dutch carmaker, said Sunday that it made a new offer to buy Saab from GM.)

Keep Reading...


Filed under: General Motors
December 21st, 2009
11:22 AM ET

The moment Ted Kennedy would not want to lose

Ted Kennedy believed that health care for all citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege

Ted Kennedy believed that health care for all citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege

Victoria Reggie Kennedy
The washington Post

My late husband, Ted Kennedy, was passionate about health-care reform. It was the cause of his life. He believed that health care for all our citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege, and that this year the stars - and competing interests - were finally aligned to allow our nation to move forward with fundamental reform. He believed that health-care reform was essential to the financial stability of our nation's working families and of our economy as a whole.

Still, Ted knew that accomplishing reform would be difficult. If it were easy, he told me, it would have been done a long time ago. He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away. He hoped that they wouldn't do so. He knew from experience, he told me, that this kind of opportunity to enact health-care reform wouldn't arise again for a generation.

In the early 1970s, Ted worked with the Nixon administration to find consensus on health-care reform. Those efforts broke down in part because the compromise wasn't ideologically pure enough for some constituency groups. More than 20 years passed before there was another real opportunity for reform, years during which human suffering only increased. Even with the committed leadership of then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, reform was thwarted in the 1990s. As Ted wrote in his memoir, he was deeply disappointed that the Clinton health-care bill did not come to a vote in the full Senate. He believed that senators should have gone on the record, up or down.

Read More...


Filed under: Health Care
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