December 11th, 2008
10:55 PM ET

Auto bailout dead

Dana Bash and Ted Barrett
CNN Capitol Hill Team

The auto bailout bill is set to die in the Senate Thursday night after the collapse of talks aimed at fashioning a compromise between Democrats and Republicans, sources said.

A cloture vote - requiring 60 votes to end debate and move to a vote on the actual bill - will be held shortly and is expected to fail.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bailout Turmoil • Dana Bash • Economy • T1 • Ted Barrett
December 11th, 2008
10:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 12/11/08

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Here's how you can be a part of tonight's program. Just scroll down and share your thoughts on tonight's stories.

But, keep in mind you have a better chance of getting your comment posted on the blog if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:
1) Don't write in ALL CAPS (we don't like screaming)
2) Stay on topic
3) No curse words

Want to know what we're covering tonight? LINK TO EVENING BUZZ

Don't miss Erica Hill's webcast during the commercials. LINK TO WEBCAST

And take a look at our live web camera from the 360° studio. LINK TO THE BLOG CAMERA

Filed under: Live Blog
December 11th, 2008
10:07 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Who Talked to the Governor?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/11/blagojevich/art.obama.blago.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, left, and Barack Obama attend a 2007 rally for Chicago's 2016 Olympics bid."]
Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

President-elect Barack Obama says he's "absolutely certain" that no one in his office was involved in any deal-making with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges.

FBI agents arrested Blagojevich on Tuesday. He's accused of trying to sell Obama's now vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Today, Obama said he was "appalled and disappointed" by what's in the federal complaint.

"I had no contact with the governor's office. I did not speak to the governor about these issues," said Obama.

"What I want to do is to gather all the facts about any staff contacts that may have taken place between the transition office and the governor's office, and we'll have those in the next few days and we'll present them. But what I'm absolutely certain about is that our office had no involvement in any deal-making around my Senate seat. That, I'm absolutely certain of, and that would be a violation of everything this campaign has been about. That's not how we do business," he went on to say to reporters.

As for all those curse words the FBI says Blagojevich tossed around over the past couple of months.

"I won't quote back some of the things that were said about me. This is a family program, I know," said Obama.

Today the president-elect once again called on governor to resign.

"I think the public trust has been violated. So, let me be absolutely clear, I do not think that the governor at this point can effectively serve the people of Illinois," he said.

The governor isn't listening to his critics. He was back at work today. And, some believe he will fight for his job.

Or do you think Blagojevich will try to make a deal with prosecutors?

We'll have the latest on the scandal and today's other headlines starting at 11 p.m. ET, following Planet in Peril.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
December 11th, 2008
10:05 PM ET

Bailout on the brink?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/06/obama.jobs/art.ceos.gi.jpg caption="The chief executives of ailing automakers GM, Chrysler and Ford testify before Congress last week"]
Sources: White House warning GOP senators Wall Street bailout funds might be used for automakers.

Dana Bash
CNN Congressional Correspondent

Two Republican congressional sources tell CNN that Bush officials have been warning wavering Republican senators that if they don't support legislation to bailout big three automakers, the White House will likely be forced to use money passed for the Wall Street bailout, something the White House and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have refused to do.

 The sources asked not to be named because of the sensitivities of private conversations.

The White House negotiated a deal with Democrats to give Detroit a short term loan with strings attached, including a so-called "car czar" charged with helping the companies draw up restructuring plans. Most Senate Republicans opposed the plan as too weak in terms of focusing long-term viability for the U.S. auto industry.

As part of their full-court press to urge skeptical Republicans to back it, they made clear that if Congress didn't act, the White House would have to step in to save Detroit from collapse with funds from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), according to the sources familiar with the conversations.

 One of the sources said the a White House official made clear to a GOP Senator that would be the worst option, because the loan could go to the auto companies with few or no requirements along with it.

 Democrats had pressed the White House from the start to help Detroit by using some of the 700 billion dollars for the financial sector, but the White House had refused.

 Talks are currently underway on another compromise auto bailout bill, so the White House threat may be moot.

 But it is noteworthy that Bush officials apparently raised the idea of using TARP money in some private conversations with skeptical Republican Senators.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bailout Turmoil • Dana Bash • Economy • T1
December 11th, 2008
09:07 PM ET

Ivory Wars: They're continuing.... we're losing...

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.
Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

Mike Fay
Wildlife Conservation Society

Here's an update from Mike Fay, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, on the wildlife count project in Zakouma National Park, in central Africa.

  • The project now has the collaboration of the guard nomad. They are a national military unit charged with domestic security. These men are being trained at the park and will contribute to the security of the park. Guarde Nomade et National du Tchad (GNNT).
  • This year (2008) we conducted aerial reconnaissance flights in the wet season range and found no fresh or recent carcasses (compare 106 in 2006).
  • 2007 was the worst year for poaching on record, it was all out war. We lost five guards in 2007 (also 1 army Lieutenant) (compare with 6 guards & 2 regular employees in the preceding 16 years) and hundreds of elephants.
  • In April this year we lost another two guards in a contact. In that same month an entire herd of 64 elephants was mowed down.
  • Planned wet season strategy and guards were deployed into to the wet season range – New Base at Dagur, Mobile unit to Am-timan – Ibir re-inforced – all made patrols in the wet season. For the first time ever.
  • We conducted aerial recon and patrols in wet season range – confirmed elephants present in each of the former ranges but numbers significantly declined – had they all been killed or have they started to range elsewhere in response to poaching?
  • We observed no poaching observed in September 2008 flights covering the same northern range but elephants started to move back towards park. This was the wet season.
  • Thus far this dry season we have observed three fresh carcasses since October.


Background on the Project

In 2005 the Wildlife Conservation Society teamed up with the Chadian Government and the European Union to make a complete count of wildlife in Zakouma National Park. The results were spectacular. While a Texas sized area of central Africa from southern Chad to eastern CAR, southwestern Sudan and northern DRC has seen millions of large mammals killed in the past three decades, Zakouma elephants and just about every other species of large mammal was on the rise. We counted 3885 elephants, more than anywhere in this area.

In 2006, using the same exact techniques and aircraft we repeated the complete count of wildlife in Zakouma National Park. There was a problem, the number of elephants counted had dropped to 3020 elephants. Shortly after the count tragedy struck, over 20 elephants were found poached just outside the park’s southern border.

The alarm bells were sounded in Aug 2006, the wet season, when the Wildlife Conservation Society again teamed up with the Chadian Government and the European Union to discover more than 100 fresh carcasses of elephants in and around Zakouma National Park. At the rate carcasses were accumulating it was possible to loose several hundred elephants from the park’s population in a single season.

Filed under: Planet in Peril
December 11th, 2008
06:58 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/11/08

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:

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich leaves his home on December 11, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.

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

But wait!… There’s more!

When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 11th, 2008
05:03 PM ET

Fighting viruses with viruses

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.
Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

Dr. Nathan Wolfe
Global Viral Forecasting Initiative

If an alien were to land on earth and write an encyclopedia of life on our planet, what would it include? Would it focus on humans? Animals? Plants, perhaps? In fact, the vast majority of life on earth is invisible to us. Microbes - including viruses, as well as bacteria and their lesser known cousins the archaea - are by far the dominant lifeforms on this planet. They would fill 28 of 30 volumes in our planet’s encyclopedia!

This invisible universe of microbial life - which I call the microcosmos - pervades the planet and even our own bodies: Bacterial cells on and in us outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1; the genetic information they hold outnumbers our own by 1000 to 1. We feel human, yet our bodies are actually complex communities of human and microbial cells living side-by-side.

And it increasingly appears that viruses - those tiny nano-creatures that must infect cells to live - are the most populous and diverse lifeform of all. Viruses infect not only humans and animals, but also bacterial, plant and fungal cells. It is thought that nearly every form of cell-based life harbors a unique virus. Every species of plant, animal, fungus, bacteria… Everything. This, by definition, would make viruses the most diverse forms of life on the planet.


December 11th, 2008
04:32 PM ET

Susan Sarandon: "I saw the choices people are forced to make"

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.
Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/10/art.vert.sarandon.jpg caption="Susan Sarandon, actor and  'Heifer International' supporter" width=292 height=320]

Susan Sarandon
Actress and activist

One thing that could help relieve stress and reduce conflict would be if the poorest people on the planet, the one billion of us living on less than a dollar a day, could have hope for a brighter future - better nutrition, better livelihoods so their kids can have better diets as they grow up, clean water, education, and enough income so they have the few dollars it takes to prevent a child from dying of malaria.

Simple, basic needs being met. This goes to the heart of many of the stresses that lead to strife. One of my favorite charities, Heifer International, is addressing the problem in more than 50 countries around the world, working to help subsistence farmers who are living below the poverty line improve their farm production and have sustainable sources of food. In my trips overseas I saw the choices people are forced to make.

I saw how difficult it is to get a toehold to lift yourself up from poverty because you're always struggling to feed yourself one more day. Heifer provides a toehold. It gives people a dairy cow or goat that helps them feed themselves and have a little income. That's all they need to get the little push to lift themselves up.

And then they become responsible for helping lift up a neighbor through "Passing on the Gift" of offspring of their animals and training to others in their communities.

And they do this while helping the environment and building community. And it costs so little! It's just the best possible solution to the problem of hunger.

Filed under: Planet in Peril • Susan Sarandon
December 11th, 2008
04:25 PM ET

Prescribing a clearer mind?

Program Note: Don't forget to watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling on CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril tonight. Gupta, Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

As things stand now, it is illegal for a healthy person to take prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall without a prescription. It is happening, though. In surveys of college students, some places reported use as high as 25 percent! They say they use it to boost memory, concentration and focus. And, who wouldn’t want that?

Seven scientists are asking the question aloud in a commentary that caught my eye. I have been doing stories about brain cognition for some time, and they are always some of our most popular stories. That’s because you would be hard pressed to find someone who says their memory, focus and concentration is as good as it can be. I know mine certainly isn’t. And, therein lies the problem. Should I be taking a drug to solve the problem or is our society way too over medicated already?

In case you are curious, the authors were no slouches. The group of scientists includes ethics experts and the editor in chief of the journal Nature. They all call for more research into the risk of the drugs including addiction and long term effects of amphetamines, which are an important ingredient in these brain enhancing drugs. They also want policies to ensure people are not coerced or forced into taking them. For example, you wouldn’t want your employer requiring you to alter your brain chemistry because they thought it made you more productive or focused.

I guess the real question is would you take these medications? Let’s say they went over the counter tomorrow, would you start taking them or recommending them for your family members even if you or they had never been diagnosed an with attention disorder?


Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Health Care • Medical News • T1
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