August 10th, 2009
03:12 PM ET

Four days in North Korea

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/04/clinton.analysis/art.clinton.gi.jpg caption="Former President Clinton arrives to a warm welcome in Pyongyang, North Korea, last week."]

Sarah Wang

North Korea left no traces in my passport, not even a visa. It showed that I left China in July and returned four days later. There was no indication of where I had been, except that I passed through customs in Dandong, a city in northeastern China that borders the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In those four "lost" days, I traveled to Pyongyang and Kaesong, North Korea, with a dozen "potential investors" from China. Most of the people in the group were businessmen interested in buying factories, land, mines, and timber in the DPRK whenever the prohibitions on such purchases are removed.

With each passing day, the businessmen got more and more agitated because they couldn't use their computers or mobile phones—they weren't even allowed to bring them into the country. There is no Internet access in North Korea—the Pyongyang elite use an intranet to listen to music and watch movies. There are three TV channels, and North Koreans usually go to telephone booths when they need to make calls.

Keep reading...

Filed under: North Korea
August 10th, 2009
01:36 PM ET
August 10th, 2009
12:18 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: $1.2 trillion down the drain

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/2009/08/10/news/economy/healthcare_money_wasters/chart_health_care_waste2.gif" width=220 height=559]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

As the health care debate rages among lawmakers, in town hall meetings across the country and on every broadcast and cable network, CNNMoney.com has drilled down into a report that found more than half of the $2.2 trillion the United States spends on health care each year is a waste of money.

According to the most recent data from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute, there are 16 different areas in which health care dollars are squandered.

But in talking to doctors, nurses, hospital groups and patient advocacy groups, six areas totaling nearly $500 billion stood out as issues to be dealt with in the health care reform debate, including unnecessary tests, inefficient claims processing and medical errors.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • GM • Health Care • Wall St.
August 10th, 2009
11:40 AM ET
August 10th, 2009
11:33 AM ET
August 10th, 2009
11:20 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Make or break health care?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/09/health.care/art.dick.durbin.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Dick Durbin, center, says protests disrupting recent town hall meetings go against 'the democratic process.'"]

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Happy Monday everyone.

The battle continues over health care reform and the rhetoric keeps ramping up on both sides of the debate. We’re paying close attention to the town halls and public meetings about health care today to better understand the key questions that keep coming up. Some congressional leaders have postponed their public meetings, while others will continue to meet with their constituents to get feedback on this contentious issue.

Is this just a game of politics perpetuated by interest groups on both sides of the issue, or are there real issues that need to be addressed before health care reform can happen? We’ll be looking beyond the politics and breaking down the concerns about the various health care proposals. Many believe that if the President is defeated in his push for health care reform, he could find his entire agenda at risk.

The President finds himself far from a town hall today in Guadalajara, Mexico. It’s his first official summit with other North American leaders Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Word is they’re discussing a range of issues – from economic recovery to energy and the environment. But you can bet they’re also discussing how to handle the powerful drug cartels that continue to plague Mexico and are contributing to a spike in violence on both sides of the border.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
August 10th, 2009
11:18 AM ET

Video: Health care reform options

Erica Hill and Ali Velshi

Filed under: Ali Velshi • Erica Hill • Health Care • Raw Politics
August 10th, 2009
11:14 AM ET

Why 'Cash for Clunkers' works

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/06/senate.clunkers/art.clunkers.gi.jpg" caption="An additional $2 billion for Cash for Clunkers was approved in Congress last week."]

Jack D. Hidary
Special to CNN

Our country is facing a daunting economic challenge this year and we must take steps to pull ourselves out of this ditch.

One such program that has hit the ground running is Cash for Clunkers. It's helping consumers move beyond these hard times and has reignited a whole industry.

Cash for Clunkers is now working in more than 10 countries around the world. In Germany, consumers have junked more than 1.2 million guzzlers in the last five months and significantly boosted the economy there. So we know that Clunkers programs get the job done. How many other government programs can you say that about?

Senate has joined the House in passing an additional $2 billion for Cash for Clunkers, allowing the program to move forward. This will bring additional buyers to the showroom. One key feature of the Clunkers program is that it is not just $3 billion of new money into the economy. It is injecting $21 billion - since consumers must bring the rest of the money to pay for the new car. That is a lot of stimulus for the dollar.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Economy
August 10th, 2009
11:09 AM ET

Are conservatives consistent?

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/22/gates.arrest.reaction/art.henry.louis.gates.jr.gi.jpg" caption="Why didn't the conservatives support professor Gates?"]

Al Vivian
Special to CNN

As an independent moderate, it never ceases to amaze me how political loyalists contradict themselves and flip-flop on social issues. Both parties regularly engage in this practice; but rarely are they challenged or called out for it.

Let's look at the most recent case, the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. It has been more than three weeks since this incident, which was the first story big enough to knock Michael Jackson's death out of the headlines, while simultaneously sidelining President Obama's health care agenda; all resulting in massive media coverage and even a "Beer Summit."

But within all that time and coverage, there is still one question that is yet to be asked: Why didn't the conservatives support professor Gates?

As practically every conservative on the Judiciary Committee so passionately spoke of at length during the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings, legal matters should be decided on the facts alone and not on personal opinions or empathy.

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