August 5th, 2009
09:57 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 8/5/09

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Happy Wednesday. They're back home! American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee freed from North Korea and talking about what it was like to be held for 140 days. Also, chilling details on the gunman who killed three woman and wounded several others when he opened fire at a health club south of Pittsburgh.

Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
August 5th, 2009
09:07 PM ET

All are targets in Mexico's drug war

The house of Mexican Police Commander José de Jesús Romero Vázquez. It was attacked last Wednesday.

CNN Producer

An entire family was murdered at this house in Veracruz, Mexico one week ago, the youngest victim just 6-years-old. Gruesome killings, kidnappings and beheadings have dominated daily headlines in this clash between cartels and law enforcement. But this latest attack stood out simply because it’s hard to fathom how someone so young could be a target.

Sources say eight or nine highly-trained assassins descended here in a poor neighborhood of this coastal city to the home of local police commander José de Jesús Romero Vázquez. The attack came just before dawn as Vázquez, his wife, three daughters and young son slept.

Armed with guns, grenades and a deadly plan, the attackers carried out their bloody work in less than five minutes. They bombarded the outside of the house before busting down the door and shooting their first victim, the 6-year-old boy who was sleeping downstairs. From there, they moved upstairs to shoot his parents. Authorities believe the three daughters died from the fire started by grenades launched at the home.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Mexico
August 5th, 2009
08:39 PM ET

Empty seats, silence speaks for protesters

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

In his inauguration speech at the Iranian parliament, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had something to say for almost everyone - his supporters, his opponents and those he called "enemies" without naming names.

He hailed what he called an "epic election" but didn't go into the turmoil of the past two months that ensued.

No word on the reformist movement calling the vote rigged or demonstrators who chanted for weeks slogans such as, "Death to Ahmadinejad." No mention of those who demanded new election and posted messages on the Internet as they did repeatedly today on the social networking site Twitter saying, "This is the voice of Iran, Ahmadinejad is NOT our president."

Instead, Mr. Ahmadinejad stressed that, "The victor is all the people, the revolutionary values, and the Islamic establishment."

Keep reading...

Filed under: Iran • Middle East • Octavia Nasr
August 5th, 2009
08:02 PM ET

The Healthcare Hostage Crisis: Health insurance by the numbers

Editor's Note: This article continues our 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. Last week we learned employer-provided healthcare began as a marketing gimick. This week, we see the astonishing scope of the problem.

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

As has been my trend in this book, I'm pulling facts and figures from the entities that are likely to provide the most favorable perspective for their particular points of view. This gives us the most conservative, least controversial numbers (they're bad enough, anyway).

So, for health insurance related numbers, I'm using statistics provided by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), which "provides healthcare coverage for more than 100 million people or one-in-three Americans."

Want to know how many people in the U.S. don't have health insurance? The population of our 44 largest cities - combined.

By using numbers from their Healthcare Trends in America 2009 Edition, we're likely to get the most conservative, least radical analysis of the situation - basically the best-case scenario. Throughout How To Save Jobs, I've done my best to make sure the numbers are unimpeachable. So let's look at what one of the nation's largest health insurance providers says about health insurance.

America's uninsured

According to Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, citing the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of the U.S. population covered by health insurance has stayed relatively constant, at about 85 percent. The means, of course, that 15 percent - 46 million people, give or take the population of San Francisco - don't have health insurance.

If you're like me, I'll bet you find it hard to picture just how many people 46 million people are. So try this.


August 5th, 2009
07:43 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Home sweet home

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/08/05/nkorea.journalists/art.family.afp.gi.jpg caption="The families of Euna Lee, left, and Laura Ling greet them Wednesday in California."]

Suvro Banerji
AC360° Intern

American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee are finally back home with their families after nearly five months of imprisonment in North Korea. Tonight, we will show you the emotional family reunion, the tears of joy and then Laura Ling in her own words talking briefly to the reporters.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to call former President Bill Clinton’s dramatic 20-hour long trip a private humanitarian effort. Tom Foreman will have more on Clinton’s role in this release and what impact this could potentially have on U.S. foreign policy in future. CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and Peter Brookes, a former defense department official and currently a senior fellow on National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation will join us live to talk more about this issue.

Also tonight, we have new details on that killing spree at a health club south of Pittsburgh we reported on last night. The police now reveal a possible motive. The insight coming from an online diary, as well as notes they found at the scene and at his home.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Lisa Ling • Mexico • North Korea • The Buzz
August 5th, 2009
05:52 PM ET

Photo gallery: Laura Ling and Euna Lee return home

Editor's Note: After 140 days in North Korean captivity, journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee arrived home in California today. Former President Bill Clinton traveled to Pyongyang earlier this week to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who decided to pardon the two women yesterday. For the latest on the two journalist's return, tune in AC360° tonight at 10p ET.


Laura Ling and Euna Lee walk off the plane in Burbank, California.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • North Korea
August 5th, 2009
05:03 PM ET

Excerpts: Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

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Vincent Bugliosi
Helter Skelter

Program note: Tonight, attorney Vincent Bugliosi will join us on AC360° at 10pm ET to discuss the Manson murders. He was in charge of prosecuting Charles Manson, and wrote a book about the killings and the case. Below are some excerpts of his book.

Editor's note: Excerpted from Helter Skelter, The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi (c) Curt Gentry and Vincent Bugliosi. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Page 23

It was so quiet, one of the killers would later say, you could almost hear the sound of ice rattling in cocktail shakers in the homes way down the canyon.

The canyons above Hollywood and Beverly hills play tricks with sounds. A noise clearly audible a mile away may be indistinguishable at a few hundred feet.

It was hot that night, but not as hot as the night before, when the temperature hadn’t dropped below 92 degrees. The three-day heat wave had begun to break a couple of hours before, about 10pm on Friday – to the psychological as well as the physical relief of those Angelenos who recalled that on such a night, just four years ago, Watts had exploded in violence. Though the coastal fog was now rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, Los Angeles itself remained hot and muggy, sweltering in its own emissions, but here, high above most of the city, and usually even above the smog, it was at least 10 degrees cooler. Still, it remained warm enough so that many residents of the area slept with their windows open, in hopes of catching a vagrant breeze.

All things considered, it’s surprising that more people didn’t hear something.

Page 26

There appeared to b blood on the trunks, on the floor next to them, and on the two towels in the entryway. She couldn’t see the entire living room – a long couch cut off the area in front of the fireplace – but everywhere she could see she saw the red splashes. The front door was ajar. Looking out, she saw several pools of blood on the flagstone porch. And, farther on, on the lawn, she saw a body.

Screaming, she turned and ran through the house, leaving the same way she had come in but, on running down the driveway, changing her course so as to reach the gate-control button. In so doing, she passed on the opposite side of the white rambler, seeing for the first time that there was a body inside the car too.

Once outside the gate, she ran down the hill to the first house, 10070, ringing the bell and pounding on the door. When the Kotts didn’t answer, she ran to the next house, 10090, banging on that door and screaming, “Murder, death, bodies, blood!”

Fifteen year old Jim Asin was outside, warming up the family car. It was Saturday and, a member of the law enforcement unit 800 of the Boy Scouts of America, he was waiting for his father, Ray Asin, to drive him to the West Los Angeles Division of LAPD, where he was scheduled to work on the desk. By the time he got to the porch, his parents had opened the door. While they were trying to calm the hysterical Mrs. Chapman, Jim dialed the police emergency number. Trained by the Scouts to be exact, he noted the time: 8:33.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment
August 5th, 2009
04:41 PM ET

Photo gallery: Police commander and family killed, burned house left standing

Editor's Note: Last Wednesday, gunmen shot up and burned the home of Mexican police commander José de Jesús Romero Vázquez. The officer, his wife and their four children were killed. The house in the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz was completely burned and its facade covered with bullet holes. Police said the youngest was a 6-year-old boy and the oldest was a 15-year-old girl. We're looking into the drug wars this week. Reports indicate that Los Zetas, the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, may be responsible, but CNN cannot confirm that fact. We'll have more on the incident from Michael Ware tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

The house of Mexican Police Commander José de Jesús Romero Vázquez. It was attacked last Wednesday.

The second-story window with smoke damage and a bullet hole directly underneath.


August 5th, 2009
04:24 PM ET

Drug Wars: The next generation

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/03/12/cartel.teens/art.reta.nocourtesy.cnn.jpg caption="Rosalio Reta joined Los Zetas at the age of 13."]

Rusty Fleming
Documentary Filmmaker and Author

An Assassination

On a hot summer evening, in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, just across the bridge from Laredo, Texas, a 30-year-old man is on his knees in a bar, surrounded by a dozen armed guards. He begs for his life and cries for one more chance to make it right with the boss, one more chance to see his family—one more chance at life.

His boss is the man who essentially dictates the life and death of every soul in the Laredo corridor. He listens to this young man’s pleas but has already made up his mind. He is the judge and jury in this warped court of injustice and it’s clear he’s heard enough.

The boss pulls a diamond-studded, pearl-handled pistol from his belt and slowly hands it over to one of his newest recruits. He tells the recruit to put a bullet in the condemned man’s head, who is sobbing uncontrollably. Without hesitation, the new recruit pulls the trigger – four times over. This was his first kill; an initiation test to become an assassin for the Zetas, the enforcement arm of one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels.

The irony in this story is that the Zetas were originally an elite combat unit working for the Mexican government. They were handpicked by the Mexican military and trained in counter-narcotics techniques. But once these highly-trained men began to fight the drug cartels, the narcos made them a better deal. Many of them defected to go work for the cartels. The FBI considers the Zetas a “ruthless group.” Its members are known for their beheadings of rivals, police officers, and public officials. They are experts at psychological warfare. And it works. It works so well, in fact, that many people in the region with direct knowledge of the perpetrators and their crimes would never dream of cooperating with the authorities.


August 5th, 2009
04:21 PM ET

Beat 360° 8/5/09

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:

South Korean special warfare command soldiers take part in a sea infiltration drill against possible threats from North Korea at Taean seashore on August 5, 2009 in Taean, South Korea.(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/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.

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
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