Program Note: Tune in tomorrow for more on Izzeldin's story in 'Generation Islam,' as Christiane Amanpour reveals the struggle for hearts and minds of the next generation of Muslims. Tomorrow 9 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/12/gaza.buildings.jpg caption="A building damaged by an airstrike in the southern Gaza strip during the conflict in January."]
Back at the end of October last, I was in Tel Aviv at the international conference celebrating the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Peres Center for Peace activities, which I attended in my capacity as a member of the Board of Governors. There were 40 international guests including many Palestinians and Palestinian students too, who were highly participatory and I felt encouraged for the first time since the Lebanon War of the summer before.
Little did I know then that within three short months, Israel would plunge into Gaza, and that I would become a telephone witness to the unspeakable tragedy of one recently widowed Gazan doctor, whom I had befriended 10 years before when he was a resident at Soroka Hospital and I was receiving an award from there and getting involved with helping fundraise for the hospital.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/13/art.izzelden.isabell.jpg caption="Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish with the author, Isabel Maxwell, taken at UCLA in April earlier this year."]
By now most of the readers of this column will know the public story: the doctor from Jabalaya who was trained by Israel and treated Israelis and Palestinians alike at Soroka Hospital. A peace activist, whose three daughters of his eight children, were horrifically killed last Friday when his house was bombed during an exchange of fire between an Israeli tank and Hamas. There was Bisan, aged 20 who had taken over her mother’s role and was also a student – she had been thrown from a bed to the floor. Mayar, 15, and Aya, 14, were also dead, along with Noor, a 17-year-old cousin. Shatha, 17, who was badly wounded in the eye, was a straight-A student, and another niece was badly wounded too.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/10/afghanistan.taliban.challenge/art.soldiers.run.afp.gi.jpg caption="A U.S. soldier takes his position near a building attacked by the Taliban south of Kabul, Afghanistan."]
Peter Bergen | Bio
CNN National Security Analyst
For Foreign Policy
"Taliban Now Winning" declared Monday's headline in the Wall Street Journal based on its interview with Gen Stanley McChrystal. But the headline was a classic case of a editor hyping the substance of a story, which the reporters of the story themselves had already applied a little touch of their own gilding to when they characterized General McChrystal's position in their interview to be that the Taliban now had the "upper hand."
In fact, when the WSJ reporters actually came to quote him, General McChrystal said rather more innocuously of the Taliban, "It's a very aggressive enemy right now... We've got to stop their momentum, stop their initiative. It's hard work."
McChrystal added that the Taliban were moving beyond their strongholds in southern Afghanistan to threaten formerly stable areas in the north and west. But that's a lot different than saying either that the Taliban is "winning" or has the "upper hand." (Would the pre-Murdoch WSJ have headlined the piece in this hyped-up manner? Just asking.)
McChrystal's views about the Taliban were more accurately captured by a USA Today article that appeared on the same day as the WSJ article in which he said "I wouldn't say we are winning or losing or stalemated... What I would say at this particular point is that the insurgency has a certain amount of initiative and momentum that we are working to stop and, in fact, reverse."
That doesn't sound much like the Taliban are "winning" or gaining the "upper hand" either.
Aside from the obvious implausibility of an American four-star general theater commander in the middle of a war saying that the enemy is "winning" in an on-the-record interview with a major U.S. newspaper - short of the Taliban appearing en masse at the gates of Kabul - there is another problem with this concept, which is that the Taliban are not winning or anything close to it.
Tonight, the latest on the town hall tension. Is the message spread by some even truthful? We're keeping them honest. Plus, the alarming rise in militias right here in the U.S. We'll show where they're attracting a lot of followers.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/12/health.care.fears/art.health.care.cnn.jpg caption= "The battle over health care reform has energized people on both sides of the debate."]
It's still tense on the health care town hall circuit. Some anger. Some shouting. But is the truth being spoken? We're going to dig into that tonight. 360° M.D. is keeping them honest – the constituents asking the questions at the meetings and the members of Congress answering them.
Today, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, one of the few in his party even negotiating health care reform, joined those stoking the notion that it could result in government mandated death panels or as you might have heard - "pulling the plug on grandma."
Is that fact or fiction? Find out tonight on AC360°.
We're also following the tense fight for Afghanistan. U.S. troops battling for control of the country. They're also trying to protect voters who got to the polls next week to choose their president; only the second election since the fall of the Taliban. We'll talk about the challenges with CNN's Michael Ware and Peter Bergen.
And, the search is on for a possible serial killer in North Carolina. Five women found dead on the same stretch of road in past five years. Is one person responsible? Adding to the fear, three other woman in the area are now missing.
Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/12/levin.homeless.hate/art.michael.stoops.courtesy.jpg" caption="Michael Stoops says a new report documents a disturbing trend of attacks on the homeless."]
Brian Levin and Michael Stoops
Special to CNN
Over the last two calendar years, more Americans in the United States were killed in a little-noticed spate of unprovoked attacks than were killed by terrorists, in large commercial jet crashes or in racial hate crimes.
Since 1999, more than 240 vulnerable homeless Americans have been stabbed, beaten, drowned, shot or burned to death in a revolting display of one of the last socially tolerated prejudices, this one based on class.
Despite being prime targets of prejudice and violence, particularly in today's youth subculture, the homeless are routinely excluded from lessons related to tolerance, as well as from official data collection and hate-crime penalty enhancement laws.
A newly released report from the National Coalition for the Homeless documented 27 unprovoked, apparently bias-related homicides by attackers in the United States last year, down one from the previous year and the second-highest number of killings since 2001.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/22/texas.race.confrontation/art.texas.dragging.jpg" caption="White supremacists protest in Paris, Texas last month. Since 1995, the SPLC reports there have been 75 cases terrorist plots from 'radical right' groups"]
from The Second Wave Report
Southern Poverty Law Center
– Terror From The Right: 75 plots, conspiracies and racist rampages since Oklahoma City –
April 19, 1995
A 7,000-pound truck bomb, constructed of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and nitromethane racing fuel and packed into 13 plastic barrels, ripped through the heart of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The explosion wrecked much of downtown Oklahoma City and killed 168 people, including 19 children in a day-care center. Another 500 were injured.
July 1, 1998
Three men are charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction after threatening President Clinton and other federal officials with biological weapons. Officials say the men planned to use a cactus thorn coated with a toxin like anthrax and fired by a modified butane lighter to carry out the murders. One man is acquitted of the charges, but Jack Abbot Grebe Jr., and Johnnie Wise — a 72-year-old man who attended meetings of the separatist Republic of Texas group—are sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.
April 3, 2003
Federal agents arrest antigovernment extremist David Roland Hinkson in Idaho and charge him with trying to hire an assassin on two occasions in 2002 and 2003 to murder a federal judge, a prosecutor and an IRS agent involved in a tax case against him. He is not expected to be released until 2040.
December 9, 2008
Police responding to a shooting at a home in Belfast, Maine, find James G. Cummings dead, allegedly killed by his wife after years of domestic abuse. They also find a cache of radioactive materials, which Cummings was apparently using to try to build a radioactive “dirty bomb,” along with literature on how to build such a deadly explosive. Police also discover a membership application filled out by Cummings for the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. Friends say that Cummings had a collection of Nazi memorabilia. The authorities say Cummings was reportedly “very upset” by the election of Barack Obama.
June 10, 2009
Eighty-eight-year-old James von Brunn, a longtime neo-Nazi, walks up to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and allegedly shoots to death security guard Stephen Johns before he is himself shot and critically wounded by other officers. Von Brunn, who earlier served six years in connection with his 1981 attempt to kidnap the members of the Federal Reserve Board at the point of a sawed-off shotgun, has been active in the white supremacist movement for more than four decades.
Read about all 75 cases in the full report...
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:
President Barack Obama struggles to present the Medal of Freedom to Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow – High Bird during a ceremony at the White House August 12, 2009. The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States. (Photo by Win McNamee/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.
UPDATE BEAT 360º WINNERS
Hey Medicine Man, have a cure for this Health Care heartache I am going thru?
Roberta Jean, Long Island, NY
The President soon realized that hiding the teleprompter in the headdress wasn’t fooling anyone.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/06/11/hate.groups/art.museum.door.gi.jpg caption="An FBI investigator looks over gunshot holes in the door of the U.S. Holocaust Museum on June 11."]
Southern Poverty Law Center
The 1990s saw the rise and fall of the virulently antigovernment "Patriot" movement, made up of paramilitary militias, tax defiers and so-called "sovereign citizens."
Sparked by a combination of anger at the federal government and the deaths of political dissenters at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, the movement took off in the middle of the decade and continued to grow even after 168 people were left dead by the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's federal building — an attack, the deadliest ever by domestic U.S. terrorists, carried out by men steeped in the rhetoric and conspiracy theories of the militias.
In the years that followed, a truly remarkable number of criminal plots came out of the movement. But by early this century, the Patriots had largely faded, weakened by systematic prosecutions, aversion to growing violence, and a new, highly conservative president.
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 about the astonishing scope of the problem. This week, we debunk the prevailing belief that most companies provide healthcare benefits.
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David Gewirtz | BIO
Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Publishing
Let's move on to employer-provided health care. According to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, 63 percent of employers offered health benefits in 2008. As we'll see in a moment, the Blue Cross numbers leave out a lot of companies.
Among those companies with 200 or more employees who provide health benefits to active workers, 31 percent also provide health benefits to retired workers. Interestingly, part-time workers are increasingly screwed. In 2006, 35 percent of those companies that provided health insurance to full-time workers provided health insurance to part-time workers. Only two years later, by 2008, only 25 percent offered health insurance to part-time workers.
There's also a huge drop-off in coverage as the size of the company you work for goes down. Ninety-nine percent of those people who work for companies with more than 200 employees have been offered health insurance by their employer. But that drops precipitously as the employee count goes down.
By the time you get down to companies with 10-24 workers, only 78 percent have access to health insurance through their company. Of those companies with three to nine employees, only 49 percent offer any form of health insurance to their employees.
Program Note: Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta tonight on AC360º at 10 P.M. ET . He'll answer more questions about health care and how reform might affect you.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
From Cindy in Covington, Georgia:
“Why doesn’t the government make mandatory prices for doctors and their services? That’s the problem. They all charge outrageous prices and vary from place to place. Will that change in the new plan?”
Well, first of all, Cindy, you’re absolutely right. It’s amazing, even within Medicare you have widely varied prices across the country. One operation in one state might cost $6,000, but in another state, the same operation might cost $17,000. So it does vary even for those covered under Medicare right now.
We are hearing some of the specifics of these health care bills. Nothing has been set in stone but we’re hearing that there may be caps on out-of-pocket expenses and full coverage for preventive care.
What we are not hearing are specifics about is whether there will be a set price for various procedures and tests. We asked the White House specifically about that and we were told no, there is no plan in any of the bills so far to set prices across the board, across the country.
The idea is that the government would have a public option for some Americans. This option is for people who can’t afford their health care right now. And it’s based on a percentage of their premiums as compared with their income. If your current insurance premium is 11 or 12 percent of your salary or higher, you might qualify to buy into this public option. And in terms of overall costs, a public plan would in some ways compete with private insurance companies and may influence how prices are set overall.