July 17th, 2012
11:53 PM ET

"They shall take up serpents" Pastor preaches fire and snakes

In the heart of Appalachia, this church practices Christianity much differently than most. They dance with deadly snakes as part of their service.

CNN’s Gary Tuchman visited these serpent-handling preachers in Tennessee. Andrew Hamblin, a 21-year-old pastor, says he knows the practice is illegal in the state. “If someone was to get bitten I know the authorities would come in on us and probably shut us down,” he tells Tuchman. “But now if it’s their appointed time to die there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.”

The Gospel of Mark 16:18 says “They shall take up serpents…” and that is the reason these churches do so literally. Pastor Mack Wolford of West Virginia died after receiving a snake bite in one of these ceremonies. His father died the same way 30 years ago.

Hamblin has been bitten four times in the past two years and says he’s prepared to lose his life to a snake bite if god determines that’s how he should go. “I thought about it,” he says to Tuchman, “but that’s why it pays to be ready spiritually.”

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Religion
July 17th, 2012
11:18 PM ET

Will Bashar al-Assad's regime use chemical weapons on its own people?

As widespread violence continues across Syria, there are disturbing unconfirmed reports that the Syrian regime has been moving stockpiles of chemical weapons.  CNN Contributor and former CIA Officer Bob Baer tells Anderson Cooper: "My interpretation of events there, it’s getting very bad" and "So far, they've shown that they'll stop at nothing to defend themselves or to crush this rebellion."

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Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Bashar al-Assad • Bob Bae • Bob Baer • Syria
July 17th, 2012
10:55 PM ET

Romney vs. Obama over business comments

Mitt Romney's campaign attacks President Obama's business comments. Erick Erickson and Van Jones discuss.

July 17th, 2012
10:53 PM ET

Romney: Obama insulting entrepreneurs

Mitt Romney says President Obama's campaign trail comments are "anti-business." We'll play the sound, you can decide.

July 17th, 2012
09:54 PM ET

Rep. Keith Ellison on "AC360" Muslim infiltration claims 'not true'

Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison refutes the claims made by Rep. Michele Bachmann and four of her Republican colleagues in letters sent to government agencies calling for an investigation into potential Muslim extremists. Rep. Ellison tells Anderson Cooper that Bachmann's claims of 'deep penetration' of Muslim extremist infiltration into the highest levels of the U.S. government are "not true, it doesn't exist, its a phantom" and that "it just is the worst of guilt by association, it is a stark front to American values" and "we've got to stand up for this idea that we all count in this America"

July 17th, 2012
09:43 PM ET

Keeping Them Honest: Bachmann's claims questionable

AC360 reporting shows no direct evidence for Bachmann's claim Huma Abedin "working on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood."

July 17th, 2012
07:03 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Rep. Keith Ellison 'it’s like a bizarre game of six degrees of separation'

Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison talks to Anderson tonight about the letters Rep. Michele Bachmann and four of her Republican colleagues sent to five government agencies calling for an investigation into potential “deep penetration” of Muslim extremist infiltration into the highest levels of the U.S. government.

The letters cite the work of a group called 'The Center for Security Policy' whose website is called MuslimbrotherhoodinAmerica.com.

The head of the group is Frank Gaffney, who has been a guest on our program in the past. Gaffney says that 'the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating every aspect of American life in order to impose Sharia law.'

His critics call him a conspiracy theorist, and The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Gaffney, quote, "the anti-Muslim movement's most paranoid propagandist." Michele Bachmann's fellow representative from Minnesota, Congressman Keith Ellison, tells Anderson that “the Southern Poverty Law Center investigates hate groups like the Neo-Nazis and the KKK, he is on the moral plane of groups like that, and I don't know why anybody who is in the U.S. Congress would want to associate themselves with Mr. Gaffney.”


July 17th, 2012
03:36 PM ET

Letters to the President #1275: 'Buying What You Can Afford'

Reporter's Note: President Obama has spoken often about the long, slow road to economic recovery. Today I’m writing about at least one pitfall that lurks along the way.

Dear Mr. President,

Not so many years ago when my wife and I were eager, young, first time home buyers, we were given a choice. Sitting down with Old Man Potter (or someone like that from the bank) we were offered either a fixed rate or an adjustable rate mortgage.

Now, we were not particularly versed in the ways of such things. Neither of us had been trained in high finance or business. We did not come from families in which Bulls and Bears stalked or CEO’s were a common fixture. In short, our chief tool in this negotiation was common sense.

And common sense told us two things. A fixed rate was reliable. No matter how much it may cost at the outset, it was never going to change. We could build a budget around our housing expenses, and aside from changes in the cost of maintenance, taxation, or insurance, we could use that budget as a cornerstone of our household finances until the cows came home. (The cows, btw, have yet to appear. I should look into that.)

The second option, however, was a much more dicey matter. The idea of a mortgage that would rise and dip with the unrestrained wildness of a crop duster seemed like a very, very, very bad idea; if only because it would make it impossible to truly predict what bills we would be facing. It seemed like such an obviously bad idea, we could not help but ask, “Who on earth would want such a thing?”

Old Man Potter’s response said volumes. “People who want that low, early payment, because otherwise they can’t afford to buy.”

“In other words,” my wife said, “people who probably shouldn’t be buying a house anyway because their finances won’t support it?”

I realize there are exceptions, and for some people those adjustable rates were not only a workable idea, but maybe even a good one. However, it just struck us then, and still does, that such a plan was patently unwise for most folks. And this, I suspect, is another unpinning of our current financial woes as a nation. We’ve bought too deeply into the notion that it is ok to dive off the debt cliff when we really want something. Debt is a useful tool. Without it, few of us would have houses; and many could not even get cars. But debt that is assumed rashly because of unrealistic optimism about the economy…whether on a macro or micro scale…can be calamitous. That is a lesson our nation has learned the hard way through the mortgage crisis. I just hope we don’t have to learn it again as we struggle to recover.

I trust all is well with you. Your campaign certainly seems to be throwing heavy punches! Call if you can.


July 17th, 2012
02:50 PM ET

Bachmann: 'deep penetration in the halls of our U.S. government by the Muslim Brotherhood'

Rep. Michele Bachmann and other members of Congress call for the Muslim Brotherhood to be investigated. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and Alex Seitz-Wald, staff writer for Salon.com discuss the letters sent to 5 government agencies calling for an investigation.

July 17th, 2012
12:39 AM ET

Family members of missing Iowa girls talk to AC360

Eight-year-old Elizabeth Collins and ten-year-old Lyric Cook disappeared Friday night after the cousins were last seen riding their bicycles. Lyric's mother Misty Cook-Morrissey and Tammy Brousseau who is the aunt of both girls speak to CNN's Anderson Cooper.

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