August 19th, 2009
03:42 PM ET

Tonight: Text 360°

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Tonight we will be taking your questions on health care.

We're cutting through the political rhetoric and answering your questions about substantive change to the country's health care system.

Now the Obama administration is looking hard at pushing through a health care reform bill without Republican backing, top Democrats close to the White House told CNN.

How will this impact the plans for reform? What does this mean for your medical care and your bottom line? We'll be looking into this tonight. Do you have a question? Let us know!

Send us a text message with your question. Text AC360 (or 22360), and you might hear it on air!

Filed under: T1 • Text 360
August 19th, 2009
03:33 PM ET

Botanists discover new rat-eating plant

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/18/meat.eating.plant/art.meat.eating.plant.jpg caption="Nepenthes northiana – the carnivorous pitcher plant prepares to tuck into a rat."]


Botanists believe they have discovered one of the world's largest carnivorous plants in Southeast Asia.

The giant pitcher plants were located on Mount Victoria in Palawan, central Philippines by a team led by UK botanist Stewart McPherson.

The second largest species, now called Nepenthes attenboroughii, has been named in honor of the UK's world-renowned natural history presenter Sir David Attenborough.

The new discovery measures up to 30 centimeters in diameter and is formed by a tendril which inflates into a large cup-shaped trap.

McPherson told CNN: "Around the mouth of the pitcher are secretions of nectar which attracts insects and small animals. The rim has lots of waxy downward-pointing ridges which help prey fall directly into the pitcher.

"The pitchers are half full of a liquid consisting of acids and enzymes which help break down its prey."

The insectivorous, sometimes carnivorous diet is crucial for the plants' survival says McPherson.

"These plants grow in really harsh areas where soil quality is very poor - often pure gravel or sand. Catching insects allows the plant to augment nutrients that it otherwise wouldn't have access to."

Keep reading...

Filed under: Beyond 360 • T1
August 19th, 2009
02:59 PM ET
August 19th, 2009
02:42 PM ET

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Mobile Alerts
August 19th, 2009
02:25 PM ET
August 19th, 2009
02:00 PM ET
August 19th, 2009
01:50 PM ET

Unraveling the mysteries of thousands of cold cases


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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Last week, a young man hours away from starting a new job took a bike ride in Lubbock, Texas, and hasn't been seen since.

Decades earlier, on March 15, 1967, the remains of a woman clad in a blue dress and white shoes were discovered in a field in Baltimore.

The two cases are separated by nearly 2,000 miles and more than 42 years. Yet they share a common bond: they have never been solved.

There is now another, more hopeful connection. They are just two of thousands of cold cases and now all of them can be found on a single free web site that is funded by the federal government. It is designed to help law enforcement agencies and medical examiners across the country unravel the mysteries. It also gives countless families a place to look for loved ones and a chance to find answers and peace of mind.

It is the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Known as NamUS, the site offers what may be the most comprehensive public search engine to date for this undertaking. "With advances in forensic sciences, there is always the possibility of closing an old case," NamUS Operations Manager Billy Young told CNN. "No matter how old the records are, we have someone looking at them."


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
August 19th, 2009
01:40 PM ET

The Healthcare Hostage Crisis: How much does this all cost?

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 debunked the prevailing belief that most employers provide healthcare benefits. This week, we look at how much it all costs.

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

According to the Kaiser/HRET HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits, it costs about $2 per worker hour to provide health care coverage to an individual. This fact alone is why America is going to have considerable difficulty competing against lower-wage countries like China and India - and why many American firms can't resist outsourcing jobs to those countries.

Author note: In an earlier chapter of the book, I describe how much money workers in China and India make as compared to Americans. In China, $2 a day is considered middle class. Although these countries are growing at an epic pace, they have shocking poverty levels. More people in China and India are starving than the U.S. has people.

More than 162 million people in China and more than 242 million in India are at a starvation level. When I describe these folks as hungry for jobs, I mean that literally. That said, even though everyone deserves a good life, America must still compete in a global market, and the following paragraphs describe what we're competing against.

In China, if you recall, anyone making more than $2 a day is considered middle class. Here, in America, it's costs $2 an hour just for the health insurance component of a typical American's wages.


August 19th, 2009
01:19 PM ET

Scotland expected to release Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/08/18/lockerbie.appeal.granted/art.megrahi.gi.jpg caption="Convicted bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, pictured in 1992, has terminal cancer."]

Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer

Scottish court is expected to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on compassionate grounds, senior State Department officials tell CNN.

Al Megrahi, 57, is suffering from terminal prostate cancer. He is serving a life sentence for bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.

The Scottish government has informally notified the State Department of the decision, the senior officials said. But they added the conditions of his release are still being finalized. The announcement is expected to be made at 1 p.m. Thursday (8 a.m. EST).

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has been considering two applications - one for Megrahi to be moved to Libya under a prisoner transfer agreement, and a separate one for him to be given compassionate early release to go home to die with his family.

The Pan Am flight exploded December 21, 1988, as it flew over Scotland on its way from London to New York. All 259 people aboard the plane died along with 11 Scots on the ground.

Filed under: 360° Radar
August 19th, 2009
01:14 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: IRS cracks secret Swiss vaults

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/18/new.york.model.blog.lawsuit/art.google.cnn.jpg caption="Since going public on August 19, 2004, shares have never dropped below the IPO price."]
Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Attention all you international playboys, Ponzi schemers and Bond villains out there, the IRS has reached a deal with the Swiss government that gives it access to thousands secret bank accounts that Americans might have used to avoid paying taxes.

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman says the agency has gained access to about 5,000 accounts held by rich American investors at Swiss banking giant UBS. In a teleconference with reporters earlier today, Shulman said the accounts have held $18 billion in assets at one time, though he did not have a current tally for their value.

The announcement is the result of a settlement that the IRS and UBS reached earlier this month to track down and identify wealthy Americans who have avoided paying taxes by hiding their assets in offshore accounts. Shulman said the deal should deter Americans from evading taxes in the future.

If your name is on the list of 5,000 accounts, it’s time to pack up your white Persian cat and head for the escape pod…

Oil prices spike

Crude oil prices are spiking about 4% today to back above $72 per barrel after the Department of Energy reported a massive drop in U.S. oil inventories.

Oil inventories plunged by 8.4 million barrels last week, hitting their lowest levels since last September when hurricanes forced many refineries along the Gulf Coast to shut down.

Additionally, gasoline stockpiles dropped by 2.2 million barrels and distillate inventories, including heating oil and diesel, fell by 700,000 barrels.

Happy Anniversary Google

What began as a search engine is now a verb: Google.

Google went public five years ago today. The stock was priced at $85 a share, but by the time shares opened for trading, they’d already hit $100.

Google hit an all-time high of $732.94 on Nov. 7, 2007, and now trades around $440 a share. Since going public on August 19, 2004, shares have never dropped below the IPO price.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN

Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Finance
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