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US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki hands an airhorn to US President Barack Obama to start the White House to Light House Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC.
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Program Note: Tune in tonight to see the Time 100/Anderson Cooper 360° Special: The World's Most Influential People at 11 p.m. ET.
Michelle Obama doesn't just inspire us. She affirms us with her intelligence, authenticity, depth and compassion. We see the best of ourselves in her and marvel that no matter what she's doing, she brings 100% of herself to the experience.
I first met Michelle almost five years ago, shortly after Senator Barack Obama's riveting 2004 DNC speech. Long before there was serious talk of a campaign for the presidency, I remember going to the Obamas' house for dinner. I figured there would be takeout since I knew that, like me, Michelle had worked all day. But no, there she was in the kitchen, calm and organized, preparing linguine with shrimp and vegetables.
The woman I witnessed five years ago, with her graciousness, care and attention to detail, is the same woman I visited in the White House in February. Her very presence makes you feel welcome. Her political power is secondary to her heart power, and I salute her for that. I trust her. I know that whatever she gives her attention to, the truth will always be present. She doesn't make false moves.
Tonight we'll be looking into the announcement that Justice Souter will retire from the Supreme Court. CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin will talk to Anderson and answer your questions.
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Today the White House took a big step towards recreating the ubiquitous Internet presence that the Obama campaign created with the simultaneous launch of profiles on three major social networks: Facebook (Facebook.com/WhiteHouse), MySpace (MySpace.com/WhiteHouse), and Twitter (Twitter.com/WhiteHouse).
In creating the new social media pages, the White House endorsed the Internet maxim that no matter your prestige, power, or stature, it often makes more sense to go to where people already are than to wait for them to come to you. "Technology has profoundly impacted how - and where - we all consume information and communicate with one another," reads a post on the White House blog titled "WhiteHouse 2.0" in which the White House announced the new sites. "WhiteHouse.gov is an important part of the Administration's efforts to use the Internet to reach the public quickly and effectively - but it isn't the only place."
Pakistan's military struck back this week at militants in Taliban-held areas.
The military operation has resulted in more than 230 militant casualties since Sunday, while the military suffered two deaths and eight injuries, according to Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a military spokesman.
Pakistan has asked the United States to supply its forces with helicopters, communication equipment and night vision technology, Abbas said. The operation is part of the Pakistani army's intensified drive against the Taliban in its restive tribal regions.
The Pakistani government has been criticized for not cracking down on militants along its border with Afghanistan. As a result, the U.S. military has carried out airstrikes against militant targets in Pakistan, which have rankled relations between the two countries.
Fareed Zakaria, whose show Sunday will include an interview with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, spoke with CNN about the Pakistan insurgency.
CNN: It seems the Pakistani military is finally responding to the Taliban threat.
Fareed Zakaria: Yes. This past week, we've seen a more aggressive Pakistani military response to the Taliban, especially in the Buner district and the Swat Valley.
CNN: What has caused the shift?
Zakaria: The collapse of the peace deal that the Pakistani government made in Swat seems to have been a wake-up call. The Pakistani military has come to understand the threat the Taliban poses to the stability of their country. I say this with some hesitation because it might not be a permanent shift, but so far, so good.
CNN: But it is so obvious. Why didn't they get it before?
Zakaria: The Pakistani military has been in a state of denial. It spends most of its time, energy and resources planning for a war against India, a war on its eastern frontier. That's the war they know and are comfortable with - a big conventional deployment. And for the last three decades, by seeing India as the enemy, the military could get big budgets - they had a much larger enemy - but also know that there is actually only a small possibility of a war.
Fighting the Taliban is a much more complicated guerrilla war against a complex insurgency. First of all, you actually have to fight this war, as opposed to the cold war with India. Secondly, if you fight it, you can lose. So, they have been trying their best not to deal with this. That's what the peace deals were all about, trying to finesse their way out of the situation. But this is now the moment of truth for the Pakistani military.
Editor's note: Fareed Zakaria is a foreign affairs analyst who hosts "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on CNN at 1 and 5 p.m. ET Sundays.
David Luhnow, Jose De Cordoba and Gautam Naik
The Wall Street Journal
The voice on the conference call last week was Frank Plummer, a Canadian scientist who had just spent 24 hours analyzing virus samples from 51 seriously ill people in Mexico.
The news: Seventeen people carried a completely new type of flu virus, one which had its origin in pigs. Flu from swine, which can be fatal, has rarely made the jump to humans - much less appeared in so many people at once. Within minutes, Mexico's health minister grabbed a red-telephone hotline to President Felipe Calderón. "Mr. President, I need to see you urgently. It's a matter of national security."
A picture is now emerging of how U.S. and Mexican officials, with a key assist from a Canadian government lab, first realized they faced a new type of disease and began racing to isolate its earliest origins. Until recently, Mexico was widely assumed to be ground zero. Now, however, some California doctors are questioning that.
The Wall Street Journal
Desirée Glapion Rogers is the descendant of a Creole voodoo priestess named Marie Laveau Glapion. The first time I meet her, she welcomes me into her East Wing lair—a rhythm and blues tune plays on a white iPod, a potted white orchid perches between two windows, fresh flowers sit on a heavy wooden desk. This is a woman who never sees a wilted bloom. The 49-year-old turns on just enough Southern charm to camouflage an aura of self-assuredness typically reserved for runway models or first ladies. Wearing a crisp white shirt, black patent flats and high-waisted navy slacks that would look terrible on almost anyone else, Rogers talks about her job as White House social secretary.
If there’s one thing Desirée Rogers and Desirée Rogers’ staff want you to know—and will keep reminding you until you get it—it’s that the president and Michelle Obama plan to open up the White House and once again make it the “people’s house.” They want to create an environment where average Americans might stop by and catch the first lady serving homemade huckleberry cobbler and caramel ice cream to students, tending to the vegetable garden on the South Lawn or watching the romantic comedy “He’s Just Not That Into You” with her girlfriends. The president is, of course, meeting with foreign dignitaries. In one of the most visible roles in the Obama administration, Rogers is out to solidify the first family as one of the most memorable in presidential history, and the Ivy League–educated first lady, in particular, as the most popular mom-in-chief.
CNN Financial News Producer
With Chrysler now in bankruptcy, what may happen to the automaker's 22 U.S. plants and thousands of workers remains largely an unanswered question.
During a conference call to discuss the bankruptcy on Thursday, government officials said Chrysler has no immediate plans to permanently lay off workers or close factories.
Chrysler did say all of its plants planned to shut down temporarily during bankruptcy starting Monday, and it did confirm that some plants were already closing as of today due to problems getting parts from suppliers.
And Chrysler this morning identified four plants with almost 5,000 jobs between them slated for closure by the end of 2010, according to a filing with the bankruptcy court. The plants on the chopping block are the Sterling Heights, Michigan assembly plant that makes the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger; the St. Louis North assembly plant that builds the Dodge Ram pickup; the Twinsburg, Ohio stamping plant and an engine plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Years from now, when historians reflect on the time we are currently living in, the names Biz Stone and Evan Williams will be referenced side by side with the likes of Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, Guglielmo Marconi, Philo Farnsworth, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — because the creation of Twitter by Stone, 35 (right), Williams, 37, and Jack Dorsey, 32 (not pictured), is as significant and paradigm-shifting as the invention of Morse code, the telephone, radio, television or the personal computer.
In a sea of Web 2.0 technologies, Twitter — the microblogging service that restricts each entry, or tweet, to 140 characters — has managed to transcend basic instant messaging and social networking. It is a new and completely original form of communication that has gained worldwide adoption and captured the imaginations of people at every level of media interest or influence.
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent
There are few issues that rally conservatives as much as a Supreme Court nomination - and activists are wasting no time gearing up for a battle.
Conservative groups worked into the night Thursday after news broke of Justice David Souter’s retirement to arrange a conference call early Friday morning to talk strategy with representatives of more than 60 groups.
Leaders on the call, such as Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network, told colleagues that one of their first challenges is convincing activists there is a fight to be had.
"One thing to keep in mind is that the left and media will say this doesn't really matter - Obama will just replace a liberal with a liberal,” Long said. “It's a conservative court. We need to push back against that immediately.”
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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