December 30th, 2009
10:19 PM ET
December 30th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 12/30/09

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Tonight on 360°, new details on the missed signs linked to the man suspected of trying to blow up a U.S. jetliner in Detroit on Christmas Day. Plus, the top political stories of 2009 and comedian Kathy Griffin weighs in on the other big stories of the past year.

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
December 30th, 2009
08:59 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Ignoring the 9/11 Commission Report?

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Five and half years after the 9/11 Commission published its groundbreaking report, a man could still get on a U.S. jetliner and nearly blow it up. Page after page, the report outlined changes that needed to be made. So, how could this still happen? Who's responsible? Tonight, we're keeping them honest and demanding answers. You'll hear from former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

Sticking on the terror beat, did you see the statement released today by former Vice President Dick Cheney, accusing Pres. Obama of not being tough enough on terrorism?

"As I've watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won't be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won't be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won't be at war, " Cheney wrote.

"He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won't be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, 'war on terror,' we won't be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren't, it makes us less safe. Why doesn't he want to admit we're at war? It doesn't fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn't fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency – social transformation – the restructuring of American society. President Obama's first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war," he added.

What do you think of Cheney's feedback? Sound off below.

The White House didn't waste time firing back.

"It is telling that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the Administration than condemning the attackers," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House's official blog.

"Unfortunately too many are engaged in the typical Washington game of pointing fingers and making political hay, instead of working together to find solutions to make our country safer."

Also tonight, comedian Kathy Griffin stops by for a visit to weigh in on the wild stories of 2009. And, don't forget to join Kathy and Anderson for our New Year's Eve special live from Times Square tomorrow night. It's sure to be a fun and memorable way to ring in 2010.

Join us for all this and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET tonight on CNN. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
December 30th, 2009
08:14 PM ET
December 30th, 2009
06:29 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Another bailout before the ball drops

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Just when it seemed like all the government bailouts were over and done with for 2009, we’ve got word that GMAC Financial Services is getting a third round of bailout money from the Treasury Dept.

The troubled auto and mortgage lender will collect $3.8 billion of additional aid on top of the nearly $13.5 billion already received since December 2008, the Treasury said in a statement late today.

The fresh lifeline is intended to return Detroit-based GMAC to profitability in the first quarter of 2010 and will likely allow GMAC to avoid placing its home lending unit, Residential Capital, into bankruptcy.

This new infusion will also increase the Treasury's stake in GMAC from 35% to 56%, and the government will have the right to appoint two additional directors to the company's board.

As the federal government shovels out billions of dollars, state and local tax revenues fell nearly 7% in the third quarter of 2009 from a year ago. That’s according to a report from the Census Bureau that highlights just how hard the recession has hit states’ coffers.

Sales taxes declined 9% to $70 billion in the third quarter compared with the year-ago period, the Census Bureau said. Income taxes plunged nearly 12% to about $58 billion. Combined, sales taxes and income taxes make up roughly half of state and local tax revenues.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • auto bailout • Bailout Turmoil • Economy
December 30th, 2009
04:52 PM ET

Most favorable: Michelle, Hillary win out over president

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Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director

President Obama may be the most popular man in his administration, but according to a new national poll, he's not the most popular person.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that the president's poll numbers pale in comparison to the favorable ratings of two women: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama.

Fifty-eight percent of people questioned in the survey have a favorable view of Obama, with four in 10 holding an unfavorable view. But the president's favorable rating is 10 points below that of his wife and six points behind the secretary of state. According to the poll, 68 percent of the public have a positive opinion of the first lady, with 19 percent holding an unfavorable opinion. Sixty-four percent have a positive view of Clinton, with three in 10 holding an unfavorable view.

Keep reading...

December 30th, 2009
04:51 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/30/09

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:

Competitors 'HMS Orion' take part in the Hoar Cross Downhill Soap Box race on December 30, 2009 in Lichfield, England. The annual race in the Staffordshire village of Hoar Cross raises tens of thousands of pounds for charity. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/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.

Beat 360° Winners:


Kirk McDonald

"After appearing on “Pimp My Soapbox”, Cheney gets back on his to criticize the Obama administration."


Isabel Siaba (Brazil)

"Richard Heene science detective makes dramatic escape from jail."

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 30th, 2009
03:42 PM ET

Napolitano: U.S. will 'find and fix' system's vulnerabilities

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Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security

Friday's attempted terrorist attack against Northwest Flight 253 near Detroit is a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to try to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since September 11, 2001.

While we took swift action immediately following last week's incident at airports around the country and throughout the world, our defenses should never have allowed this individual to board a plane bound for the United States. The administration is determined to find and fix the vulnerabilities in our systems that allowed this breach to happen.

President Obama has ordered, and the Department of Homeland Security and our partners throughout the federal government have begun, immediate reviews of our watch list and screening procedures that have been in place for a number of years to determine why this individual was cleared to board the flight in Amsterdam, and why overseas screening did not discover the explosives hidden on his body.

We have also instituted enhanced security procedures for both domestic and international flights, including enhanced inspections at security checkpoints and increased pat-downs, bag searches, explosive detection canine teams, air marshals, behavioral detection officers and other measures, both seen and unseen.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Airline Safety • Terrorism
December 30th, 2009
03:20 PM ET

"Thriller" included in 2009 National Film Registry

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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post

The music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" made history again today when it was named as one of 25 motion pictures to be included in the Library of Congress's National Film Registry.

"Thriller," a 14-minute video promoting the song of the same name, represented a revolutionary moment in film and popular culture when it was first released on Dec. 2, 1983. Directed by the established Hollywood filmmaker John Landis ("The Blues Brothers," "Animal House"), the video merged such formal cinematic elements as a script, elaborate sets and cinematography with the relatively nascent medium of short-form music videos.

"Thriller" joins such esteemed films as "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Jezebel" in this year's National Film Registry roster. The Library of Congress established the registry in 1989 as part of the National Film Preservation Act, to spotlight films that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant and deserve to be preserved for all time, according to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. As of this year, 525 films have been selected for the registry.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Michael Jackson • Pop Culture
December 30th, 2009
02:00 PM ET

Controversial full-body scanners explained

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The Netherlands said Wednesday it was installing the scanners at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, where security staff failed to detect explosives being taken aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253.

How do these scanners work?

There are two types of device which offer full-body scans. Millimeter wave scanners use extremely high frequency radio waves which are processed by a computer to produce a detailed 3D image of air passengers. Backscatter scanners use high energy rays that - unlike X-rays which penetrate objects - scatter when they hit materials, allowing computers to render a detailed image and detect substances such as explosives and plastic weapons. Both scanners, unlike conventional X-rays, can strip away layers of clothing, accurately mapping the contours of the body, any prosthetics beneath the skin, as well as clothing and metallic and non-metallic objects.

How long does it take?

The scanning process takes between 15 and 30 seconds. Passengers enter a small booth or archway and raise their hands while radio waves target them from all directions. It may take slightly longer for airport staff to review the images produced and - given the level of detail, more passengers may find themselves subjected to follow-up security checks as a result.

Why are they controversial?

Privacy campaigners say the scanners produce "naked" images of passengers which represent an unnecessary violation. They say the process is humiliating, and despite pledges that the images will not be stored or used elsewhere, it could be open to abuse - particularly with scans of celebrities. Although the U.S. Transportation Security Agency, which is installing the scanners in many airports, insist the equipment does not capture details of face or produce images of a quality that can be deemed compromising, opponents say the technology is still capable of this and may be utilized in the future.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Airline Safety • Terrorism • Travel
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