July 29th, 2009
03:04 PM ET
July 29th, 2009
02:43 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Fed chief takes big financial hit

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/29/art.bernanke.jpg" caption="Not even the Fed. Chairman can escape the effects of the recession."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

It seems that not even the nation’s most high-profile banker was able to escape the carnage on Wall Street last year.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke saw his net worth drop significantly in 2008. According financial disclosure forms, Bernanke says that he owned assets worth between $850,000 and $1.9 million in 2008, down from $1.2 million to $2.5 million in 2007.

The Fed chairman, like other top government officials, reports the value of his holdings annually.

Bernanke, a former economics professor at Princeton University, has most of his wealth in two annuities managed by TIAA-CREF, which provides retirement plans for academic institutions and other nonprofits.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Economy • Job Market
July 29th, 2009
02:20 PM ET

The healthcare hostage crisis

Editor's Note: This article begins an 8-part series excerpted from the "Healthcare Hostage Crisis" chapter of AC360° contributor David Gewirtz's upcoming book, How To Save Jobs, which will be available in October. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/DavidGewirtz.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/08/health.care.debate/art.health2.gi.jpg]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/28/art.vert.book.gewirtz.jobs.jpg width=292 height=320]

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Publishing

Every American is being held hostage by the largest special-interest group in the history of the world. This chapter tells the story of how we got into this mess and will help you understand the mind-boggling magnitude of the problem. It's a life and death battle for the health and welfare of each of us. And guess what? We're not winning.

It is almost impossible to discuss jobs without discussing healthcare. It wasn't always that way. In fact, before about 1920, the concept of health insurance didn't really exist. While there were hospitals and medical practitioners, the sort of heroic, life-saving healthcare our doctors now routinely practice barely existed. Before 1900 or so, most Americans didn't even realize the benefits of using soap or washing their hands, and antiseptic practices were virtually unknown.


July 29th, 2009
02:16 PM ET

TIME poll: Americans back reform but worry about details

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/28/obama.health.care/art.obama.speech.afp.gi.jpg caption="President Obama says the current health care system is broken and needs immediate changes."]
Michael Scherer
TIME Magazine

Congressional Democrats and a barnstorming President face deep skepticism from the American public about the details of their effort to change the nation's health-care system, even as enthusiasm for the prospect of reform remains high, according to a new TIME poll.

By significant margins, survey respondents said they believe the final health-reform legislation is likely to raise health-care costs in the long run (62%), make everything about health care more complicated (65%) and offer less freedom to choose doctors and coverage (56%).

At the same time, survey respondents remain dissatisfied with the current state of health-care delivery and supportive of reform in principle. Forty-six percent of respondents said it was "very important" that Congress and the President pass major health reform in the next few months, and an additional 23% said it was "somewhat important." Only 28% found the immediate effort either not very or not at all important. In a separate question, more Americans said it would be better to pass "major reform" to health care (55%) rather than "minor adjustments" (43%).


Filed under: 360° Radar • Health Care • Raw Politics
July 29th, 2009
02:05 PM ET

Vet student vanishes on study abroad program


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/28/art.michael.harrie.jpg caption="A global search is being conducted for Michael Harrie, 29, a veterinary student at Auburn University."]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

An international search is under way for a 29-year-old Auburn University veterinary student who vanished under what appears to be unusual circumstances in Thailand. The family of Michael Griffin Harrie is pleading for help in locating him. “We just don’t know what happened to him,” Paul Harrie told CNN about his missing son. “I now know the meaning of living a nightmare.”

In a media release, Auburn University said Harrie, a second-year student at the veterinary school, was attending a summer study abroad program in Morioka, Japan. He informed a professor he was going to take a one-week vacation with friends to Bangkok that would begin on July 7. “He said he would be back on the 14th,” his father explained. But Harrie never returned to his studies. And when he failed to meet up with his parents in Tokyo on July 16, they reported him missing.

The investigation into Harrie’s disappearance is being led by Bangkok police. The American Embassy in Thailand has also been notified, and Auburn University has dispatched two representatives to Japan. “The role there is to provide assistance to the family,” Auburn University Communication Director Michael Clardy told CNN.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
July 29th, 2009
01:33 PM ET

Documents: Stephen Flynn on 'Homeland Insecurity'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/29/homeland.security/art.napolitano.gi.jpg caption="Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday."]
Program Note: Stephen E. Flynn is an expert on national security issues. Below is an article Flynn wrote earlier this summer for The American Interest.

Stephen E. Flynn
The American Interest

Is homeland security still on the nation’s radar screen?

One can be excused for wondering. After all, we’re heading toward the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and so far al-Qaeda has yet to strike us again. The technicolor national threat level has been frozen at “yellow” since January 2004, and the new Secretary of Homeland Security, former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, has mused aloud that maybe it should be abandoned altogether.

The issue was missing-in-action during the marathon 2008 presidential campaign. The presidential transition then came and went without the Obama Administration publicly outlining its plans for the homeland security mission, and there were no expressions of outrage or dismay from editorial pages or by media pundits.

Indeed, the only media spark Secretary Napolitano has managed to generate during the early days of her tenure arose from something she didn’t do: She omitted the word “terrorism” from her prepared testimony before Congress on February 25, 2009.

Read Flynn's full article...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Documents • Raw Politics
July 29th, 2009
01:00 PM ET

Manifesto of Terror

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/29/art.mullah.omar.jpg" caption="The Taliban leadership have published a guide-book for their forces."]

Octavia Nasr | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Editor, Mideast Affairs

A manifesto of terror was released this week. It was disguised as a 65-page code of conduct for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan under the guise of Islamic Law.

What was the Taliban leadership thinking when it released this pocket-sized booklet? It’s hard to answer this question without looking at the general situation in Afghanistan and what information the booklet contains.

Fierce battles have erupted along the Pakistan-Afghan border region over the past few months because U.S. Marines and British troops have stepped up the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in that area. Those battles have resulted in hundreds of deaths in the ranks of both groups – as well as among civilians and NATO troops. And the situation has led to a refugee crisis where more than a million people fled the border region.

Despite the losses and setbacks Taliban and al Qaeda have suffered, their attacks continue. And their propaganda machine repeatedly produces hate messages to incite Afghans against their own government and against the West. According to Afghan authorities, at least seven Taliban insurgents wearing suicide vests and wielding machine guns struck at government and commercial targets on Saturday in the eastern city of Khost. The suicide bombers died when they detonated their vests, and at least 14 civilians - three military service members and a police officer - were wounded.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Octavia Nasr • Taliban
July 29th, 2009
01:00 PM ET
July 29th, 2009
12:30 PM ET

Iran's postelection crackdown scrutinized for crimes against humanity

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/20/iran.election/art.bikes.gi.jpg" caption="Human rights groups say Iranian authorities violated international human rights law."]

Golnaz Esfandiari
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

24-year-old Amir Javadifar was detained during a July 9 peaceful protest in Tehran. About two weeks later, the Iranian authorities informed Amir's family about his death.

A friend who saw Amir's body told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that he had been tortured: "He had a fractured skull, one of his eyes was almost crushed, all the nails on his toes had been extracted, and all of his body was bruised.”

Amir’s friend added that some of his teeth and jaw were also broken.

Amir's death in custody is one example of the many cases of violence committed in Iran in recent weeks, which some legal experts have said are violations under international law.

Payam Akhavan, a former UN war crimes prosecutor and cofounder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, says his rights center has been inundated with videos, images, and documents from Iran via encrypted e-mail.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Human Rights • Iran
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