June 17th, 2009
04:39 PM ET

Tonight: Text 360°

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Some say there are therapeutic benefits to smoking marijuana for medical purposes, others argue that it is ineffective, unsafe and detrimental to overall health. What is the current medical opinion of smoking pot? Will smoking marijuana help you or hurt you?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be on our show tonight to discuss the health effects, or detriments, of marijuana.

Do you have questions for him about the merits of using marijuana for medical purposes? Let us know!

Send us a text message with your question to 94553, and you might hear it on air!

The message MUST start with the letters AC, and then a space, then your name and question. If you do not include AC first with a space, we will not receive your text.

Filed under: T1 • Text 360
June 17th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Students email iReporter during Tehran University crackdown

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Tricia Escobedo

On Monday, the Iranian government announced it would begin to investigate reports of violence at a Tehran University dormitory. According to a CNN iReporter, a former Tehran University student, who did not want to be identified for security reasons, students jumped out of windows to escape police forces who threw tear gas and beat students early Monday morning.

While CNN has been unable to confirm the report because of the tight restrictions on international media at the moment, the iReporter shared with CNN emails he received from current students at Tehran University who reportedly witnessed the violence.

In his report, the iReporter quotes one email: "Last night they attacked the dorm, it was worse than July '99. They injured many, at least 150. Many more were injured. We don't have a good count yet. At least one student was killed, but they say up to five may be dead. Destruction was terrible."

A few hours later, around 2:30 A.M., the iReporter says he received an email from another friend at the University as the attack was occurring. Quoting the email, he says, "A few minutes ago, riot police entered the dorm. They are beating the students. They are shooting students with Winchester rifles. Some students are shot in belly, head, face. They are throwing tons of tear gases. They are coming in with motor bikes. Pray for us!"

There have been several reports of crackdowns at other universities throughout Iran. Students, the iReporter said, play a very important role in Iranian politics.

Filed under: 360° Q & A • 360° Radar • Iran • iReport
June 17th, 2009
03:31 PM ET

Gay critics say 'too little, too late' from Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/17/obama.gay.critics/art.obama.townhall.afp.jpg caption="Some critics say President Obama has let the gay community down."]

Kristi Keck

President Obama's decision to grant some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees is seen by some as his attempt to extend an olive branch to the gay and lesbian community, but critics say it's "too little, too late."

"It seems to me at least to be a nice gesture, but a disappointment," said Richard Kim, a senior editor at The Nation magazine.

The memorandum Obama is signing Thursday is not expected to grant health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners, as that is prohibited under the Defense of Marriage Act.

"It will absolutely be seen as something good - but I think, for example, it not including full health insurance - that is going to put a real microscope on that question. You know, why not?," Kim said, adding that memo applies only to federal employees, so most people will not be affected by it.

Charles Moran, the spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans said the lack of full benefits in Thursday's memorandum shows a lack of commitment to the gay community.

Keep reading...

June 17th, 2009
03:10 PM ET

Cops: Son poses as dead mom


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/17/art.crime.kcda1.jpg caption="Authorities say Thomas Parkin (L) has impersonated his mother since her death in September 2003."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/17/art.crime.kcda.2.jpg caption="The Kings County District Attorney says Thomas Parkin, 49, now faces charges of larceny, conspiracy, forgery and more."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/17/art.crime.kcda.3.jpg caption="Mhilton Rimolo, a friend of Parkin's, is charged in connection with the deception and fraud."]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

The elderly woman in oversized sunglasses hunches over a desk at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Brooklyn, New York. Dressed in red and holding a pen, she fills out the required information to renew her license. A surveillance camera takes a snapshot of the seemingly routine matter.

It all appears normal.

Except for one glaring fact: the woman is a man.

And, according to investigators, that man is posing as his own dead mother in what Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes called “a multi-year campaign of fraud that was unparalleled in its scope and brazenness.”

Brazen and bizarre.

Authorities say Thomas Parkin impersonated his mother since her death in September, 2003. They believe a friend of Parkin’s, Mhilton Rimolo, was his partner in crime in a long-running scam of deception and fraud.

Parkin, 49, and 47-year-old Rimolo are charged with multiple counts of Grand Larceny, Conspiracy, Forgery, Perjury and Criminal Impersonation.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
June 17th, 2009
03:03 PM ET

Obama: 'A sweeping overhaul'

Program Note: To hear Ali Velshi's take on the new regulations announced today, tune in to AC360° tonight at 10p ET.
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Jennifer Liberto
CNNMoney.com senior writer

President Obama on Wednesday unveiled his long-anticipated plan to restructure how banks and other firms are regulated in the hope of preventing another financial collapse.

The far-reaching effort would reorder the roles of some key agencies to try to tighten government supervision of the financial sector. It would also toughen up standards for big financial firms and create a new agency dedicated to consumer protection.

"We did not choose how this crisis began. But we do have a choice in the legacy this crisis leaves behind," Obama said. "So today, my administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system, a transformation on a scale not seen since the reforms that followed the Great Depression."

Obama proposed getting rid of the embattled Office of Thrift Supervision and merge it with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, according to details released Wednesday.

The OTS has been on the hot seat for months for its role as the overseer of American International Group (AIG, Fortune 500) and failed lenders IndyMac and Washington Mutual. The comptroller's office is a Treasury Department bureau that regulates national banks.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar
June 17th, 2009
02:31 PM ET

Partnering against trafficking

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/06/16/human.trafficking.report/art.hillary.clinton.gi.jpg caption="Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report aims 'to shine the light brightly on ... modern slavery.'"]

Hillary Rodham Clinton
For the Washington Post

Twenty-year-old Oxana Rantchev left her home in Russia in 2001 for what she believed was a job as a translator in Cyprus. A few days later, she was found dead after attempting to escape the traffickers who tried to force her into prostitution.

Oxana's story is the story of modern slavery. Around the world, millions of people are living in bondage. They labor in fields and factories under threat of violence if they try to escape. They work in homes for families that keep them virtually imprisoned. They are forced to work as prostitutes or to beg in the streets. Women, men and children of all ages are often held far from home with no money, no connections and no way to ask for help. They discover too late that they've entered a trap of forced labor, sexual exploitation and brutal violence. The United Nations estimates that at least 12 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking. Because they often live and work out of sight, that number is almost certainly too low. More than half of all victims of forced labor are women and girls, compelled into servitude as domestics or sweatshop workers or, like Oxana, forced into prostitution. They face not only the loss of their freedom but also sexual assaults and physical abuses.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Human Rights
June 17th, 2009
02:12 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Obama details broad financial reform

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

President Obama earlier today unveiled his long-awaited plan to restructure how banks and other firms are regulated in the hope of preventing another financial collapse.

The far-reaching effort - the greatest regulatory overhaul since the Great Depression– would reorder the roles of some key agencies to try to tighten government supervision of the financial sector.

It would also toughen standards for big financial firms and create a new agency dedicated to protecting consumers from deceptive or dangerous mortgages, credit cards and other financial products.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy
June 17th, 2009
12:40 PM ET
June 17th, 2009
12:15 PM ET

Tracking down a cannabis garden

Editor's Note: For more on the case for and against legalizing marijuana, tune in tonight to hear Joe Johns' full report on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Inside the licensed and legal cannabis garden in Portland, Oregon.

Joe Johns, AC360° Correspondent
Justine Redman, AC360° Producer

We're in Portland, Oregon, working on our story about the case for legalizing marijuana, and we arranged to go see a garden where licensed and legal marijuana is grown to to provide medical marijuana for designated patients. The owner gave us the address, and soon we were driving through a quiet Portland neighborhood, trying to imagine how there could be a pot farm in such a tightly residential area.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Joe Johns • Justine Redman
June 17th, 2009
11:54 AM ET

Poll: Legalize pot, or not?

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Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

All week we've been reporting on the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana. We've examined the use of marijuana for medical purposes, shown you legal marijuana dispensaries and illegal marijuana 'gardens.' Tonight we'll continue to examine whether or not there is a case for legalization. We've spoken to doctors, policymakers and experts on the subject. They all have their own opinions. What do you think? Do you think marijuana should be legalized in the United States?

Filed under: 360° Radar • Marijuana
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