August 11th, 2009
11:12 PM ET

Are town hall protests threatening health care reform?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/11/specter.town.hall/art.spector.twn.hall.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. Arlen Specter, left, answers questions Tuesday during a forum in Lebanon, Pennsylvania."]

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

When a long-time voter favorite in Pennsylvania, Senator Arlen Specter, faces an hour of jeering and booing over health care reform, as he did today, the question arises: how will these raucous town halls affect the outcome in one of the central legislative battles of our time?

The answer does not appear to be encouraging for reformers. Granted, the way that opposition has been ginned up by outside forces does discount these outbursts some. The way that opponents are also disrupting these town halls, drowning out the capacity for civil discourse, is also stirring a backlash among many citizens on the sidelines.

But beneath the din it is also obvious that there is a growing bloc of voters on the right and a good many in the middle who are becoming passionately opposed to the overhaul of the health care system envisioned by liberal Democrats, especially in the House. It is the intensity of their feeling as much as the size of the crowd that may shape the voting on Capitol Hill in coming weeks.

The President’s White House team entered the August recess knowing that they had lost ground with the public during July. But they saw some evidence that opinion was stabilizing last week and with the Congress getting out of town, they thought that Obama would be able to recapture center stage and could hammer home his newly-crafted message about the consumer protections coming from reforms. If they could show opinion turning in their favor by early September, they would have a much better chance of securing major legislation.


August 11th, 2009
09:44 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 08/11/09

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Pres. Obama attended a town hall meeting on health care today in New Hampshire. The White House said nothing was off limits? Did the crowd approve of his message. We'll show you the video. Plus, investigators raiding a pharmacy used by Dr. Conrad Murray, who was with Michael Jackson the day he died. We'll have the latest on the search.

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 11th, 2009
07:01 PM ET

Evening Buzz: ‘Scare tactics’ for Pres. Obama’s health care reform?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/11/obama.health.care/art.obama.nh.townhall.cnn.jpg caption="What is really scary...is to do nothing, President Obama says Tuesday."]

Suvro Banerji
AC360° Intern

President Obama was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire earlier today fighting back at his health care critics for employing "scare tactics" and "wild misrepresentations.” He addressed a supportive and relatively calm town hall meeting as opposed to the ones held by other members of his party. Tonight, we will show you parts of his speech in his own words.

Meanwhile, Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter faced the tough questions in Pennsylvania. Some accused him of violating their constitutional rights by allowing the government to takeover the health care system and thus, adding to the federal deficit. Gary Tuchman is live tonight from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to give us the latest. We will also take the politics out the equation and show how much of the stuff that’s being discussed in these town hall meetings is actually true. 360° MD Sanjay Gupta will keep them honest.

How should we tackle health care waste? A new study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers identifies several areas of massive health care waste. We’re talking about trillions of dollars. Tom Foreman will break it down for us. FULL POST

August 11th, 2009
06:54 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Health care town hall in Pennsylvania

Photos by AC360° Producer Joneil Adriano

Gary Tuchman and AC360º Producer Joneil Adriano were in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where they met with town hall goers: supporters and opponents of health care reform alike.

An hour before it began, the line to get into the town hall already snaked across the quad.

Health care proponents also showed up in force.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Gary Tuchman • Health Care • Joneil Adriano
August 11th, 2009
05:47 PM ET

Police search Las Vegas pharmacy in Jackson case

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/08/11/jackson.search/art.jackson.dancing.gi.jpg caption="A Las Vegas pharmacy was searched Tuesday in connection with Michael Jackson's death."]


Police executed a search warrant at a Las Vegas pharmacy Tuesday morning in connection with the investigation into Michael Jackson's death, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN.

More than a dozen law enforcement officers, including federal drug agents, were seen inside Applied Pharmacy on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The warrant is part of the follow-up to searches of the home and clinic of Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal doctor, last month in Las Vegas, the source said. The source asked not to be named because the individual was not authorized to speak to the news media.

The warrants used for those earlier searches - which were filed in a Clark County, Nevada court - imply that investigators looking into Jackson's death believe the singer was a drug addict.

The warrants, signed by District Judge Timothy Williams and given to CNN by Las Vegas affiliate KTNV, say that "there is probable cause to believe" that the searches would uncover evidence at Murray's home and office of excessive prescribing, prescribing to an addict, prescribing to or treating an addict and manslaughter.

They cite "probable cause to believe" that the premises contained "records, shipping orders, distribution lists, use records relating to the purchase, transfer ordering, delivery and storage of propofol (Diprivan)."

A source told CNN last month that Murray, a Texas-based cardiologist, allegedly gave Jackson the anesthetic propofol - commonly known by the brand name Diprivan - in the 24 hours before he died.


Filed under: Michael Jackson
August 11th, 2009
05:44 PM ET

Documents detail campaign to oust U.S. Attorney

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/15/rove.attorneys/art.rove.gi.jpg caption="Former Bush official Karl Rove was questioned in May about the U.S. attorney firings."]

Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer

The dismissal of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias in December 2006 followed extensive communication among lawyers and political aides in the White House who hashed over complaints about his work on public corruption cases against Democrats, according to newly released e-mails and transcripts of closed-door House testimony by former Bush counsel Harriet Miers and political chief Karl Rove.

A campaign to oust Iglesias intensified after state party officials and GOP members of the congressional delegation apparently concluded he was not pursuing the cases against Democrats in a way that would help then- Rep. Heather Wilson in a tight reelection race, according to interviews and Bush White House e-mails released Tuesday by congressional investigators. The documents place the genesis of Iglesias's dismissal earlier than previously known.

The disclosures mark the end of a 2 1/2 year investigation by the House Judiciary Committee, which sued to gain access to Bush White House documents in a dispute that struck at the heart of a president's executive power. House members have reserved the right to hold a public hearing at which Rove, Miers, and other aides could appear this fall.

House Judiciary Chairman John M. Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) on Tuesday characterized the role of Bush White House figures in the firing episode as improper and inappropriate.

"Under the Bush regime, honest and well-performing US Attorneys were fired for petty patronage, political horse trading and, in the most egregious case of political abuse of the US Attorney corps - that of US Attorney Iglesias - because he refused to use his office to help Republicans win elections," Conyers said. "When Mr. Iglesias said his firing was a 'political fragging,' he was right."

Keep reading...

August 11th, 2009
05:43 PM ET

Tough times in the porn industry

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Ben Fritz
Los Angeles Times

On a recent Saturday night, Savannah Stern earned $300 to hang out for seven hours at a party in Santa Monica wearing nothing but a feather boa.

The veteran of more than 350 hard-core pornography productions took the job to earn extra cash and to network. But the word at the 35th anniversary party for Hustler magazine was not heartening, especially among the roughly 75 other women working there.

"At least five girls I haven't seen in a while came up to me and said, 'Savannah, are you working?' " said Stern, who started in the industry four years ago and, like most adult performers, uses a stage name. "I had to say, 'No, not really,' and they all said, 'Yeah, I'm not either.' "


Filed under: Economy
August 11th, 2009
05:26 PM ET

The three obstacles to health care access

Program Note: The Health Research Institute at PriceWaterhouseCoopers has released several reports on health care, analyzing costs and trends to provide information for health care providers, payers and employers. Tonight on AC360º at 10 P.M. ET, Tom Foreman goes through this report and takes a closer look at waste in the current U.S. health care system.

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/08/04/hcif.ideal.medicine/art.denny.w.patient.jpg" caption="PriceWaterhouseCoopers identifies the major areas of waste in a new report."]


By several measures, access to care is jammed for many Americans. Universal coverage, if passed, won't necessarily translate into better access. This report from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute (HRI), identifies three key obstacles to access: crowded points of entry such as the ED, a system that is confusing to navigate, and individuals who inevitably fail to act on their health early.

The Jammed access: Widening the front door to healthcare report finds that consumers are open to trying new means of access and the industry is already responding. Solutions discussed in the report include: new means of access like online consultations, coordination of care among practitioners by using nonphysician providers, and supportive models such as shared medical appointments that enable patients to learn from each other as well as from their providers.

Read the report here.

View the website here.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Finance • Health Care • Tom Foreman
August 11th, 2009
05:01 PM ET

Beat 360° 8/11/09

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:

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reads 'Duck for President,' by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, to students from Raymond and C.W. Harris Elementary schools during a Reading to the Top event with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes at the Department of Education.

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.



Ric Ward

The administration's new strategy on health care town hall forums.


Bob, Massillon, OH

“And this, kiddies, is the new health reform bill you’ll be paying for the rest of your lives. And don’t forget Social Security will be broke too.”

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
August 11th, 2009
04:50 PM ET

The role of the Mexican military in the cartel war

Program Note: Fred Burton joins us on AC360º tonight at 10 p.m. ET to discuss recent violence along the Mexican borer. Tune in to hear more.

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/americas/05/20/mexico.narco.arrest/art.cuffs.afp.gi.jpg" caption="Questions about human rights have entered the debate in Mexico over how to deal with violent drug cartels."]

Stephen Meiners and Fred Burton

U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is in the middle of a four-day visit this week to Mexico, where he is meeting with Mexican government officials to discuss the two countries’ joint approach to Mexico’s ongoing cartel war. In prepared remarks at a July 27 press conference with Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, Kerlikowske said Washington is focused on reducing drug use in the United States, supporting domestic law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers and working with other countries that serve as production areas or transshipment points for U.S.-bound drugs.

Absent from his remarks was any mention of the U.S. position on the role of the Mexican military in the country’s battle against the drug cartels. Kerlikowske’s visit comes amid a growing debate in Mexico over the role that the country’s armed forces should play in the cartel war. The debate has intensified in recent weeks, as human rights organizations in Mexico and the United States have expressed concern over civil rights abuses by Mexican troops assigned to counternarcotics missions in various parts of the country.

The director of Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission, for example, has encouraged the new legislature to re-examine the role of the Mexican military in the country’s cartel war, saying that the current approach is clearly not working. The number of citizen complaints against soldiers has increased over the last few years as the troops have become actively engaged in counternarcotics operations, and the commission director has expressed hope for greater accountability on the part of the armed forces.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Mexico
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