September 15th, 2009
01:01 PM ET

Boy with bad report card makes up kidnapping story


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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

A child who claimed he was kidnapped on Friday confessed to making up the story to avoid telling his family about a lousy report card, authorities in Alabama said Monday.

The 11-year-old boy will not face any charges, said Sgt. Mark Roberts of the Huntsville Police Department. “I just hope children don’t do this too often because it does put us through quite a lot of man power,” Roberts told CNN. “We gave (the investigation) the whole 9 yards.”

Roberts said the child, whose name he did not reveal, came up with the elaborate abduction scenario Friday afternoon. “The kid was coming home from school when he was supposedly kidnapped by a guy driving by in a red car,” Roberts explained. “He basically said a white male driving a red beat-up car grabbed him and forced him in the vehicle. He saw a black revolver. The driver said I’m going to take you somewhere and kill you.”

According to the police, the boy said he then jumped out of the car and ran back to his grandparents’ house. The family contacted the police who began an intensive manhunt for the suspect. Authorities also issued a B.O.L.O. (be on the look out).


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
September 15th, 2009
12:35 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Clunkers Retail Boost

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Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

We kick off this morning with one of those “green shoots” in the economy: better than expected retail sales; they surged 2.7 percent in August, as the Cash for Clunkers program provided a lift to auto sales. But even without auto sales and auto parts in the mix, retail sales rose a respectable 1.1 percent.

On the less positive side, wholesale inflation as measured by the Producer Price Index surged 1.7 percent last month. Most of that increase however was due to a surge in energy prices. If you strip out food & energy costs, the PPI’s “core rate” edged up just 0.2 percent.

President Obama is talking about the economy today as he addresses GM workers at a GM plant in Ohio; he then travels to Pittsburgh to address an AFL-CIO convention, before making his way to a fundraiser for Sen. Arlen Specter in Philly. Fed Chief Ben Bernanke today is out talking economy as well, going farther than before in saying the recession is “very likely over.” Of course, we know that only the National Bureau of Economic Research can conclude when recessions begin and end. And it doesn’t happen until after the fact.


Filed under: auto bailout • Economy • Finance • Wall St.
September 15th, 2009
11:48 AM ET

The Healthcare Hostage Crisis: Insurance is no assurance

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 looked at how those with insurance are being forced to file bankruptcy. This week, we'll look at the steps insurance companies take to avoid paying your medical bills.

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

There is a concept in the insurance biz called rescission. It's the insurance world's equivalent of a marriage annulment, allowing an insurance company to back out of an already-paid insurance policy and deny the policy holder insurance coverage.

If you have a serious medical problem, you stand a better than even chance of losing your insurance and never getting paid. And if you don't work for a major company or the government with a good group policy, your chances go up to virtually 100 percent.

Most insurers claim the rate of rescission is fairly small. In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Don Hamm, CEO of Assurant Health stated "Rescission is rare. It affects less than one-half of one percent of people we cover."

And yet, according to a story by Karl Vick in the September 8, 2009 issue of the Washington Post:

In the past 18 months, California's five largest insurers paid almost $19 million in fines for marooning policyholders who had fallen ill. That includes a $1 million fine against Health Net, which admitted offering bonuses to employees for finding reasons to cancel policies, according to company documents released in court.

Of course, $19 million in fines across five companies is a drop in the bucket compared to how much insurers are saving by abandoning those paying customers who have the audacity to get expensively sick.

Vick's story continued:


Filed under: David Gewirtz • Health Care
September 15th, 2009
10:55 AM ET

Dear President Obama #239: It's my party...

Reporter's Note: President Obama spoke a lot about bipartisanship when he was running for office, and even after he took the oath. But the across-the-aisle tailgate parties seem like they’ll be in short supply this football season. My letters to the president, however, will not…

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I was thinking more about what I wrote yesterday about the Tea Party Express folks and their outrage over the way you are running the country, and a basic question came to mind: Do you think this nation is truly governable anymore?

We can point to individual moments in which we all seemed to be on the same page. Right after 9/11 most everyone was pretty firmly behind President Bush. After your election, the polls showed most people willing to give you a shot at calling the shots…so to speak. But in this country of 300-million people, getting everyone to pull in the same direction for any sustained period seems about as likely as keeping Kanye West in his seat and quiet at an awards show.

Some of that, I think, is because voters are honestly divided on some serious issues.

Some of it is because the political parties both talk a good game of cooperation, but as soon as either one gets 51 percent of Congress, they tell the other 49 percent to go soak their heads. But a lot of it is because intolerance of opposing political views has grown to…well, an almost intolerable level. We’ve always had to put up with a few people yelling their way through debates, but now it seems like the screamers are dominating the political conversation. Some of that is our fault in the media too, since we put these berserkers on the air with shocking regularity.


September 15th, 2009
10:38 AM ET
September 15th, 2009
10:13 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Who wins, who loses, who pays?

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Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Medical malpractice has become a buzz term in the debate over health care reform. We’re separating fact from fiction this week with a series that looks into the costs of malpractice suits. Who wins, who loses, who pays?

Doctors make mistakes. It happens. But what should be done about it? Many on one side of the issue say taking doctors to court is really the only way of keeping them honest, diligent and thorough. But people on the other side say that’s what has caused doctors to practice so-called defensive medicine – which many argue leads to higher prices for everyone.

Medical malpractice has also come up in President’s Obama plan to reform the health care system. Gary Tuchman sits down with some lawyers who have spent decades working on medical malpractice suits. We’re cutting through the noise over medical malpractice all week.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
September 15th, 2009
09:57 AM ET

Don’t cut my (public) health care

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Jennifer Klein
Special to CNN

"We worked hard to get it and we're going to keep it," said Nancy Snyder, one of the protesters attending this summer's health care town meetings.

Nancy and her husband Robert, retirees from Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, showed up at a town hall held by Sen. Arlen Specter, in State College, Pennsylvania, with signs condemning socialist takeover of their health care, and she was interviewed by Michel Martin on National Public Radio's "Tell Me More."

When asked how she had insurance coverage, Nancy explained that because her husband was a retired coal miner, they received insurance and care through the United Mine Workers. She attended the town hall because she said she had "had enough of the government interfering with our lives, after working hard all of our lives, especially to get the health care."

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Health Care
September 15th, 2009
07:40 AM ET
September 15th, 2009
07:16 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 9/14/09

Editor's Note: Last night and this morning we heard from many of you who wanted to talk about Mark Williams’ appearance on Monday night’s AC360°, and his role as organizer of the Tea Party Express tour. While many were happy to hear from him and get more insight on what the Tea Party Express was all about, a larger group expressed annoyance with both his viewpoint and how the interview was handled. Those viewers felt there was a lack of control around Williams’ conversation that allowed him to go on and on, and to talk over David Gergen and James Carville. Separately, as the news of the death of Patrick Swayze spread, we heard from many who wanted to express their love for him and who wanted to offer condolences to his family. Here are some of the comments we received, and we’d love to hear from you too:


I simply do not understand how you could let the Tea Party representative talk on and on, spewing his slick misinformation. I think you neglected your duty as moderator to be in charge of the discussion. He talked over David Gergen and you let him do it. James Carville just dismissed it with a smiling face. It was all terribly offensive to me.

Anderson, I would like to compliment you on your coverage of the Saturday Tea Party with guests David Williams, James Carville and David Gergen…I agree with most of the Tea Party gatherers and I try to watch CNN to find out what the other side feels and thinks. Although I don't agree with them too often, it is interesting to find out how they arrived at the conclusions they have.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes
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