October 31st, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Another day in the Frontal lobe

Editor’s Note: On Monday on AC360°, we’ll look at the gender gap at the office. Dr. Katrina Firlik will be part of our panel discussing the changing roles of women at work. Don't miss this special report at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/10/15/organ.transplant.explainer/art.transplant.gi.jpg
caption="Women make up only 5 percent of all neurosurgeons."]

Dr. Katrina Firlik
Neurosurgeon & Author

I remember the scene well. I’m being interviewed for a position in a neurosurgery residency program. I’m sitting across the table from two senior neurosurgeons, one friendly and talkative, the other reserved. I’ve anticipated the common questions and I’m armed with quick responses. Why did you choose neurosurgery? What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Can you explain the research you’ve done? Where do you see yourself in ten years? The friendly one is asking all the questions and I feel like I’m acing them. The quiet one stares at me.

I sense the end of the interview and there’s a long pause. The quiet one finally pipes up: “How do you know you’ll be able to handle a surgical drill?” Now there’s one I hadn’t anticipated. And there’s one I doubt he asked the guy with the crew cut before me. Think…think. I feign nonchalance and attempt spontaneous wit: “Well…if you accept me into the program I’ll show you how I can use a drill.” The friendly one cracks a smile.

As a woman in a male-dominated field (only about 5 percent of neurosurgeons are women) there were moments like this, but they were actually rare. In my book, Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside, I don’t focus on the “woman in surgery” issue as much as some readers hope. Truthfully, there just wasn’t much there. But that’s progress!

It was a different story for the generations of women who became surgeons before me, but that’s not a story that I can tell, and they are to thank for clearing the way.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Opinion • Women's Issues
October 31st, 2009
05:27 PM ET

50on50: The Halloween "Demo" and H1N1 trick-or-treating


Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

Forty-seven days before I turn 50, I must interrupt my mission to destroy my industry's worship of the 18-49 audience demo, to bring you urgent health news. Today, we're all part of the same demo. The Halloween demo. And there's valuable advice to spread on how to proceed during this first H1N1 Halloween.

The advice comes from my CNN colleague, senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth is not a germophobe. She's always struck me as fairly laid back about these matters. Which is why she caught my attention on CNN's Campbell Brown last night with this very graphic advice:

"No grubby little paws in the bucket this Halloween. I'm handing out candy with gloves, and offering sanitizer squirts."

I hope, on this first H1N1 Halloween, that the Elizabeth Cohen method becomes, as they say on the web, viral. You can spread this link and retweet Elizabeth's message here

Elizabeth's advice certainly led my wife and me to start coaching our young children this morning not to eat their holiday candy until they wash their hands. Actually, my analytical wife observed, that's not good enough. What about the germs on all the wrappers they touch. It's gonna be a hard night of enforcement.

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Filed under: Michael Schulder
October 31st, 2009
07:40 AM ET

Dear President Obama #285: Can we trick-or-treat at the White House?

Reporter's Note: The White House has supposedly been home to several ghosts. We’re expecting a few at our place tonight too. Some haunting thoughts in my daily letter to President Obama.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I’m still wearing the pirate hat! You may recall that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that while we were getting out our Halloween decorations I found a pirate hat in a box and stuck it on my head. Well, in the spirit of “if it’s only a little funny the first time, keep doing it; it will get funnier” I have worn that hat every morning and evening at home ever since. I even took the garbage out with it on, and snarled at some little kids who happened by.

At first my family was amused, then puzzled, and then they grew bored with it. But now they are back to being amused. My wife and younger daughter even went to the pet store and surprised me by dressing up our dog, Nola, in a Jack Sparrow costume. It was hysterical. (As an aside, do you think dogs get embarrassed? We’ve dressed her up in an awful lot of goofy outfits over the years. She’s been an Easter bunny, a soccer player, an elf, a bumblebee, and she always acts as if she is afraid that the Golden Retriever down the street is going to see her.)

I’m getting off track. I love Halloween. Always have, and I want to tell you a story about that.

When I was a little kid in South Dakota, I had the coolest Frankenstein costume ever made. It had these green, satiny pants (yes, yes, I hear you giggling,) a matching top with a yellow front and this wild picture of a raging monster on it, and one of those strap on plastic masks with the eye holes about an inch too far apart for any kid who was not the offspring of close cousins. You know: the kind of mask with the little elastic band that would eventually give way, zinging your ear with the metal tip as it zipped past. (And I’m not being snarky, but that really had to be a problem for you, eh?)


October 30th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Erica Hill: The "Boys' Club"

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Erica Hill | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

If you’re not a working woman, you don’t need to look far to find one. Women now account for half of the U.S. workforce, and they are increasingly a major economic force within their families, as more women take on the role of “breadwinner.” Despite their solid place in the workforce alongside men – and most families’ need for women to work - it is impossible to ignore the wage gap. Women make 77 cents for every dollar a man brings home. Seventy-seven cents. It is a sobering figure, and a telling one.

Fortune illustrates the chasm in simple numbers from some of the nation’s top earners. The magazine put together lists of the 25 highest-paid women and the 25 best-paid men. Below are the salaries of the top three on each list – I’ll let you guess which salaries belong to the female execs, and which belong to the males.

1. $42.4 million

2. $23.9 million

3. $20.3 million

1. $112.5 million

2. $104.5 million

3. $84.5 million

Interesting the difference in those numbers, no? There are other factors that need to be taken into account if one is to compare salaries, among them experience, health of the company and the industry, but still, you can’t ignore the paychecks.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Erica Hill • Women's Issues
October 30th, 2009
11:58 PM ET

Suze Orman: How to get going in the financial field

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Editor's Note: Watch Suze Orman on AC360° tonight at 10pm ET.

Suze Orman
Special to AC360°

Look, there’s no denying that Wall Street is quite the boy’s club. But that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out an amazing career; it just means that women might need to fall back on their great intelligence rather than their golf game or frat connections.

You want to talk about not fitting in? I was 29 years old with a resume that simply read “waitress” when I interviewed for a job in a broker-training program. The guy who interviewed me openly shared with me his belief that women should be barefoot and pregnant. That was 1980! But I managed to get the position, and well, you sort of know the rest.

If I was able to find my way, so too can you.

I actually think it may be easier for women after the financial crisis. It’s clear the days of easy-money are long gone. Individuals and businesses are more attuned to making every penny work hard for them and are going to insist that anyone with a stake in their financial lives deliver the goods. That means more emphasis on talent, and less emphasis on chumminess.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Suze Orman
October 30th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 10/30/09

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At least 19 more children have died of swine flu in the U.S.  That's the biggest one-week jump. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with the latest on the battle against the virus.  Plus, your economy and the mixed signals. Is the economy rebounding or not? We've got the raw politics.

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
October 30th, 2009
08:00 PM ET

ERs hustling to keep up with H1N1 cases

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/30/nate.h1n1.jpg caption="Micheal Wordell brought his 7 year-old sono, Nate, to Children's Hospital Boston when Nate's 104-degree fever would not break."]

Danielle Dellorto
CNN Medical Producer

Nate Wordell, 7, just feels lousy: swollen eyes, cough, high fever, stomach ache and he's dehydrated. Nate has H1N1.

After toughing it out for three days at home, Nate's parents brought him to the emergency room at Children's Hospital Boston, Massachusetts. "The hardest thing for us was that we couldn't stay ahead of the medication or get him to keep any water down," says Nate's father, Michael Wordell of Auburndale, Massachusetts.

Hospitals from coast to coast are bracing for the influx of patients, just like Nate. Children's Hospital Boston has seen a 40 percent increase in patients this week alone.

"This could get pretty bad," says Dr. Anne Stack, clinical chief of emergency medicine at Children's Hospital Boston. "So we are trying to do as much as we can to prepare. But no one knows when it will end."

Keep Reading...

Filed under: H1N1
October 30th, 2009
07:27 PM ET

Documents: House Ethics Committee Response


Editor's Note: Documents leaked from the House of Representatives Ethics committee, one of the most secretive and closely guarded in Congress, has forced the panel to publicly acknowledge at least eight active investigations into ethics breaches from current members of the House of Representatives. Read their response here.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Ethics • Raw Politics
October 30th, 2009
07:26 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Afghan Election Mess

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/30/afghanistan.election/story.karzai.gi.jpg caption= "Afghan President Hamid Karzai has agreed to a runoff election for his seat next week, but it may not happen."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Democracy is rough going in Afghanistan. Talks between Afghan president Hamid Karzai and his election opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, have broken down, a source close to the Afghan leadership told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. The source also said Abdullah is likely to announce this weekend that he will boycott the runoff presidential election on November 7.

The runoff came about after arm-twisting from the U.S. following charges from Abdullah and other that there was massive fraud in the original August 20 vote. At first, results gave Karzai the win, but a review by the U.N.-backed panel of election monitors threw out nearly one-third of Karzai's votes because of "clear and convincing evidence of fraud."

If the runoff is called off, how will it impact Pres. Obama's efforts in the country?  We'll have the raw politics tonight.

We're also tracking swine flu across America. The numbers released today from the CDC are not encouraging. The virus caused at lease 19 more children's death. That's the largest one-week increase since the outbreak in April.

The virus is also more widespread than ever before, with 48 states now reporting flu activity. South Carolina and Hawaii are the only states left off the list.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join us live with a look at how hospitals are battling the virus and give you the facts to keep you and your children safe.

And my favorite story we're covering tonight is tied to some video we found online at Break.com. Don't miss a basketball shot to remember that happened with help from a baseball bat.

UPDATE: I don't think the basketball video will make it tonight. We're tight on time.  CLICK HERE to see it for yourself.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
October 30th, 2009
07:00 PM ET

Documents: Read the full contents of the proposed health care bill

Editor's Note: While health care reform proposals are still being reconciled on the Senate floor, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled the House plan Thursday at a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Read the full contents of the proposed bill.


The battle over health care reform reached another milestone Thursday as top House Democrats unveiled sweeping legislation that includes a highly controversial public health insurance option.

The nearly 2,000 page bill - a combination of three different versions passed by House committees - would cost $894 billion over 10 years and extend insurance coverage to 36 million uncovered Americans, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

It guarantees that 96 percent of Americans have coverage, Pelosi said. The figure is based on an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Among other things, the bill would subsidize insurance for poorer Americans and create health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to purchase coverage. It would also cap annual out-of-pocket expenses and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Filed under: Health Care • Nancy Pelosi
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