July 20th, 2009
11:05 AM ET

Sheriff mentions new motive in killings of Florida couple

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/07/20/florida.slain.couple/art.family.pnj.jpg caption="Byrd and Melanie Billings, known for adopting special-needs children, were laid to rest Friday."]
Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt

Police expect to reveal another motive this week in the killing of a wealthy Florida couple known for adopting special-needs children, the local sheriff said.

Byrd and Melissa Billings were fatally shot July 9 in their sprawling home in Beulah during a home invasion robbery. Nine of their adopted children were in the house.

A safe containing prescription medication, family documents and some jewelry was taken from the home, Sheriff David Morgan of Escambia County said.

Morgan told CNN that he wants to talk to three more persons of interest and plans to make at least one more arrest before he winds down the investigation in a few days.

He did not provide further details.

Morgan said that he expects to interview the wife of suspect Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr. on Monday. The woman, who had been out of contact, asked police for a meeting, he said.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
July 20th, 2009
11:01 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Taliban threats, squid invasion – and medical apartheid?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/06/afghanistan.strategic.shift/art.soldier.afghanistan.gi.afp.jpg caption="A U.S. Marine patrols Helmand Province in Afghanistan on Monday."]

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon for the first time. The former Apollo 11 astronauts will meet with President Obama in the Oval Office to commemorate the anniversary. But after this “giant leap for mankind,” the space program still provokes some controversy. Some think space exploration costs the U.S. too much money, while others say it’s essential and that it should move forward. Would you like to see a mission to Mars?

Is there such a thing as medical apartheid? Not in our backyard, right? Well, we may be wrong. Some of New York’s finest hospitals are running clinics that many patients say provide evidence of a two-tier health system – separate and unequal. A 2005 report found that African Americans, Latinos and the very poor receive a comparably low level of care in certain clinics. In this special report, Dr. Sanjay Gupta visits patients to learn about a lawsuit they’ve filed fighting for parity in the health care system.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
July 20th, 2009
10:56 AM ET

Poll: Obama drops on health care

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/17/obama.polls/art.obamawisconsin.gi.jpg caption="A new poll shows trouble for the president on health care."]
Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director

As President Barack Obama begins a week full pushing for health care reform, a new national poll indicates the president is slipping on the issue.

Forty-nine percent of people questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post survey released Monday approve of the way Obama is handling health care. That's down four points from last month and down nine points from April. Forty-four percent disapprove, up five points from June and 15 points from April.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll is the third national survey to suggest that the president's approval rating on health care reform is under 50 percent, joining a CBS News poll and a Quinnipiac University survey.

Keep reading...

For the poll data, click here.

July 20th, 2009
10:48 AM ET

A giant leap from Ohio

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/space/07/17/moon.landing.hoax/art.aldrin.nasa.jpg caption="Greene writes that for most, it's pretty certain that 'we're never going to go to the moon.'"]
Bob Greene
CNN Contributor

All over the world this weekend, people are peering up into the night, trying to catch a glimpse of a sliver of the moon.

They're thinking about the moon because of Monday's 40-year anniversary of mankind's first lunar landing. And more than a few people are undoubtedly allowing themselves to dream of traveling to the moon themselves.

It's not going to happen. For almost all of us, it can be said with certainty:

We're never going to go to the moon.

But there's good news:

We can go to Wapakoneta.

Wapakoneta is a town of barely 9,000 people in northwestern Ohio. It may be, in its own quiet way, the most inspiring single place in the United States.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • NASA
July 20th, 2009
10:28 AM ET

U.S. soldier captured by Taliban: 'I'm afraid'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/19/afghanistan.soldier.hostage/art.captive.inv.jpg caption="Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl shown here in a video made by his captors, members of the Taliban."]

A United States soldier captured by the Taliban says in a video posted on the Internet he is "scared I won't be able to go home."

The soldier was identified Sunday by the Pentagon as Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho. He was captured June 30 from Paktika province in southeastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban has threatened to kill Bergdahl if foreign troops continue targeting civilians in the name of search operations in Ghazni and Paktika province, Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen said by telephone Friday after being contacted by CNN at an undisclosed location.

NATO-led forces in Afghanistan and the U.S. military have repeatedly denied targeting civilians.

In the 28-minute video, Bergdahl becomes emotional when he speaks of his family - his parents, siblings, nieces and nephew - and the girlfriend he hopes to marry.

"I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America, and I miss them every day that I'm gone," he says. "I miss them and I'm afraid I might never see them again and that I'll never be able to tell them I love them again. I'll never be able to hug them."

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan
July 20th, 2009
09:09 AM ET

Middle East is changed forever

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/07/20/iran.clerics.referendum/art.iran.khatami.gi.jpg caption="YFormer president Mohammad Khatami backed reformist candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi in the June 12 vote."]

Hamid Dabashi
Special to CNN

Whatever the end result of the current electoral crisis in Iran, the dramatic rise of national politics has already cast a long and enduring shadow over the geopolitics of the region. No country can go back to business as usual. The climate has changed - for good.

Before the June 2009 presidential election, the realpolitik of the region had placed Iran, Syria, the Palestinian Hamas, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iraqi Mahdi Army on one side of the geopolitical divide, and U.S. and its regional allies on another. With an extended foot in Venezuela, Iran had even a claim on the backyard of the United States.

In this precarious condition, the Islamic Republic emerged, not out of its own capacities, but by virtue of serious follies that President George W. Bush had committed in its neighborhood as a regional "superpower." The presidential election of June 2009 suddenly has made that geopolitics something of an archeological relic.

With the commencement of the civil rights movement in Iran in June 2009, the moral map of the Middle East is being changed right in front of our eyes, with the democratic will of one nation having thrown a monkey wrench into the geopolitics of the region. The moving pictures of Iranians flooding colorfully into the streets have forever altered the visual vocabulary of the global perception of "the Middle East."

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran
July 20th, 2009
07:00 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 7/19/2009

Editor's Note: Friday night’s AC360° had many of you commenting on the death and remembering the life of Walter Cronkite. Here are some of the comments we received, and we’d love to hear what you have to say:


I didn't turn to CBS, so I don't know what their Walter Cronkite coverage was like, but I hope it was as good as yours. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be watching live during the Kennedy assassination. I was 8 days old at the time. I guess it was the first time the country - the world - went through a big event like that connected by television. From the first report to the formal announcement of death, it must have been an unreal and monumental moment to witness. I've seen the clip of Cronkite many times. He takes off his glasses to read the clock - but also maybe because they were steaming up with tears. Watching still gives me chills.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes
July 20th, 2009
06:49 AM ET

Dear President Obama #182: Congratulations ... Uh, at least halfway

Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20th, and on the same day I started writing a letter a day to the White House. So far neither of us has shown any signs of giving up.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/17/art.obamawh0716.gi.jpg]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Hey, hey, hey! Big time snaps all around for the big accomplishment! Don’t know what I’m talking about? It’s your half year celebration day! As you may notice from the number on this letter and a little quick math, you have now served one-half of your first year in office, or one-eighth of your entire term.

Well, I suppose to be technical, you get an extra half-day before you hit the half way mark, but this is as close as I can get to congratulating you on the moment. In addition, if you are re-elected everything has to be reset to an 8-year scale, and if you are not re-elected…um, that last few months of this term won’t be exactly productive. You’ll feel kind of how Biden feels all the time. But let’s not go there…let me just go back to where I was, wishing you a day of celebration for all you have accomplished.

Of course, that’s where it gets sticky, doesn’t it? Because you may have noticed some pretty radically different assessments of what can be checked off of the old Presidential Chore List…(or the PCL, as the Secret Service calls it.)


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