December 8th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 12/08/09

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We have breaking news from Capitol Hill, where liberal and moderate Democrats have reached “broad agreement” on a health care bill. That’s what Democratic leader Harry Reid said tonight in a news conference. Will Democrats drop the government-run insurance option and open Medicare to those under the age of 55? We're working our sources and we'll bring you the latest developments.

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")
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5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
December 8th, 2009
07:15 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Security Breach at TSA

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

We have breaking news from Capitol Hill, where liberal and moderate Democrats have reached “broad agreement” on a health care bill. That’s what Democratic leader Harry Reid said just moments ago in a news conference. Will Democrats drop the government-run insurance option and open Medicare to those under the age of 55? We’re working our sources and we'll give you the latest developments, tonight on 360°.

Meanwhile, there’s a big embarrassment for the Department of Homeland Security. A 93-page manual for airport security screeners made it onto the internet for the world to see, including terrorists.

“As Americans make travel plans for the upcoming holidays, this shocking breach undercuts the public’s confidence in the security procedures at our airports,” said Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine., of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The TSA operating manual went online in March on the Federal Business Opportunity site, as part of a posting for contract work.

However, those who were computer-savvy could undo the blacked-out sections, making the security playbook no longer secret.

The TSA, which has been in charge of protecting America’s airports since the September 11th terror attacks, released this statement:

"The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has become aware that an outdated version of a Standard Operating Procedures document was improperly posted by the agency to the Federal Business Opportunities Web site wherein redacted material was not properly protected.‪

TSA takes this matter very seriously and took swift action when this was discovered. A full review is now underway.

TSA has many layers of security to keep the traveling public safe and to constantly adapt to evolving threats. TSA is confident that screening procedures currently in place remain strong.”

The agency also said the manual posted online, dated May 2008, was outdated and was never implemented. Six newer versions have been issued since that one, a TSA official said.

Tonight on 360°, we’ll be digging deeper into the controversy.

We’re also following developments in the battle for Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzi said today he’ll need help from the U.S. for 15 to 20 years.

"We hope that the international community and the United States, in particular the U.S., as our first ally, helps us reach the ability… sustain a force that can protect Afghanistan with the right numbers and the right equipment, " Karzai said at a news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates by his side during an unannounced visit to the war zone.

Just last week, Pres. Obama announced he wants U.S. forces to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in 18 months.

But today, Pres. Karzai asked for patience. He laid out his own timeline.

The Afghan leader wants his Army to have control in parts of the country within two years, and total control in five years. There’s also the request for U.S. assistance for 15 to 20 years.

Secretary Gates pledged the U.S. “will never turn our back” on Afghanistan.

“The president has been very clear that will begin this process of transitioning in July of 2011… I would hope we not only could meet the timelines President Karzai has laid out… but as more afghans are trained that we will be able to beat those timelines,” Gates said.

“We expect this is a several year process, ” he added.

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

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
December 8th, 2009
05:15 PM ET

Planet in Peril Video: Tracking Polar Bears in the Arctic

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

In Alaska and across the Arctic, the average amount of sea ice has been decreasing during the past few decades. This could be huge trouble for polar bears, which live and hunt primarily on sea ice.

About 4,700 polar bears live in Alaska, U.S. officials say. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended the polar bear be placed on the Threatened Species list.

Alaskan residents also are dealing with a changing environment. Temperatures in the state, which is twice the size of Texas, have warmed more than 3 degrees in the past 50 years and residents are seeing the expensive consequences of melting permafrost, which causes soil erosion and some flooding. Scientists say what happens in the state, one-third of which lies within the Artic Circle, is a harbinger of what might occur in the contiguous U.S.

December 8th, 2009
04:35 PM ET

Good, bad and ugly self-help: How can you tell?

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Jason Hanna

Amber Lemna says studying "The Secret" is changing her life for the better.

The 2006 book and film discusses the law of attraction, something adherents say allows people to attract what they want by envisioning it and believing it will come. Lemna says she's used it to kick-start a business idea: attaching decorated tabs to credit cards so people can easily pull the cards from wallets.

Thanks to "The Secret," she says, she's attracted people and resources to help her and already is selling the tabs in 10 local stores.

"Nothing has been the same since I've listened to the CD [of the book]," said Lemna, 29. "I can control how my day goes."

Keep Reading...

December 8th, 2009
04:30 PM ET

Millions in U.S. drink dirty water, records show

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2007/HEALTH/07/02/pl.water/art.waterbottle.gi.jpg caption="More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years. "]

Charles Duhigg
The New York Times

More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards


December 8th, 2009
04:29 PM ET

Planet in Peril Video: Greenland – how fast is the ice melting?

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

The ice sheet that blankets the largest island in the world holds about 630,000 miles of ice. But NASA estimated in 2005 that the ice sheet was losing about 200 gigatons per year – roughly 200 times more than the amount of water Los Angeles uses every year.

At a research camp on the ice sheet, scientists say temperatures are up 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 30 years, more than double the global average. The researchers at Swiss Camp are studying how fast the ice is melting and the way it is changing locally and what impact that will have on the world.

December 8th, 2009
03:52 PM ET

The global sea-level rise: How melting glaciers and ice sheets matter

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from Konrad Steffen on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Konrad Steffen
Director, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

The total volume of land-based ice in the Arctic has been estimated to be about 3,100,000 cubic kilometers, which corresponds to a sea-level equivalent of about eight meters. Most arctic glaciers and ice caps have been in decline since the early 1960s, with this trend speeding up in the 1990s. A small number of glaciers, especially in Scandinavia, have gained mass as increased precipitation outpaced the increase in melting in few areas.

The Greenland Ice Sheet dominates land ice in the Arctic. Maximum surface-melt area on the ice sheet increased on the average by 16% from 1979-2002 (Steffen et al., 2004), an area roughly the size of Sweden, with considerable variability from year to year, The total area of surface melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet broke all records in 2002, with extreme melting reaching up to 2000 meters in elevation. Satellite data show an increasing trend in the melt extent since 1979. This trend is interrupted in 1992, following the eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo, which created a short-term global cooling as particles spewed from the volcano reduced the amount of sunlight that reached the earth.

Read More about Steffen's research...

Filed under: Environmental issues
December 8th, 2009
03:51 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/8/09

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:

Queen Elizabeth II meets singer Lady Gaga following the Royal Variety Performance on December 7, 2009 in Blackpool, England.

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.


Gary Tuchman

"They were going gaga over me way before you were born.."


Christina, Cortlandt Manor, New York

"The Queen of Hearts meets the Queen of England – a huge step towards diplomacy between Wonderland and England."

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 8th, 2009
12:53 PM ET

Can the Federal Government really create jobs?

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Barbara Kiviat

The Obama Administration is out to create jobs. Let's not get our hopes up.

The day before the Labor Department announced a second month of 10%-plus unemployment last week, the White House hosted a get-together to hear from executives, labor leaders and academics about how the Federal Government can jolt job growth. "We're looking for fresh perspectives," the President said. "I am open to every demonstrably good idea."

That may sound promising, but the truth is, drumming up new jobs on short notice isn't exactly in the government's wheelhouse. In the long term, what the government does and doesn't do is incredibly important to the health of the labor market. Trade policy, corporate tax rates, the structure of health care — these things all have a real impact on economic growth. But Washington's tool kit doesn't work nearly as well in the short run. Right now companies aren't hiring for a very specific reason: there's not as much demand for their products and services. Callous as it may sound, high unemployment at the front end of an economic recovery is perfectly normal.


Filed under: Economy • Job Market • President Barack Obama
December 8th, 2009
12:02 PM ET

Video: Self-help gone wrong

Program Note: Tune in tonight for Gary Tuchman's full report on James Arthur Ray's self-help program. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • James Arthur Ray
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