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December 1st, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Interactive: Afghanistan – A crossroads of history

AC360°

Afghanistan embraces a hefty cultural and historical heritage. Take a look at some key milestones in Afghanistan's history.

Go here to view the interactive.


Filed under: Afghanistan
December 1st, 2009
04:24 PM ET

Police: Armed robbery spree with kids in tow

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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

A California couple took their young children along on an early morning armed robbery spree that ended after a high speed chase, police said today. The suspects allegedly staged three Sunday hold-ups within minutes of one another while their 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters were in the getaway car.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Detective Andrew Purdy of the Los Angeles Police said. “You just really can’t.”

William Farag and Nadia Redoble, both 28, have been charged with three counts of robbery. Detective Purdy said the suspects, who reside in Van Nuys, could face additional charges for two robberies that occurred last week. Investigators will also ask the district attorney to consider charging them with child endangering and felony evading.

Detectives allege the couple began their November 30 crime wave at a Rite Aid pharmacy in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles. According to police the suspects tried to hold up the business at 2:45 a.m. At 3:00 a.m., they allegedly attempted to rob a CVS pharmacy in Encino. Moments later, they are accused of targeting an IHOP restaurant, also in Encino.

“The wife would stay in the car with the two kids and the husband went into the business armed with a revolver and wearing a mask and demanding money,” Purdy told CNN. In a media release, the LAPD allege Farag pointed a handgun at two co-workers. Purdy said Farag obtained about $500 in cash.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
December 1st, 2009
03:59 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Gold resumes record-setting run

Gold prices fell about 5% on Friday when a state-run investment company of Dubai requested a postponement of $60 billion in debt

Gold prices fell about 5% on Friday when a state-run investment company of Dubai requested a postponement of $60 billion in debt

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Gold crossed $1,200 an ounce today and closed at a record high as the weakness of the U.S. dollar and the easing of fears surrounding the Dubai debt crisis pushed prices higher.

Gold futures touched an intraday high of $1,202.70 an ounce before backing off and settling up $18 to $1,119.10.

Gold prices had fallen about 5% on Friday on continued concerns about the state-run investment company of Dubai requesting a postponement of $60 billion in debt.

But on earlier today, reports said Dubai World was in talks over $26 billion of its debt, easing worries it would default on the total balance. That relief translated into a blow for the dollar, as increased risk appetite pushed the greenback lower.

A weaker dollar tends to boost gold, as it and other commodities are priced in dollars around the world.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Finance
December 1st, 2009
02:22 PM ET

The worst of the crisis may lie ahead

David Mixner
Author, Political Strategist

As the nation debates reforming our health care system, there is one topic I'm not hearing enough about – how the fight against HIV/AIDS will remain a national priority and how the prevention of such costly diseases such as this will become a foundational element of our health system.

Phenomenal progress has been made against HIV/AIDS since it first appeared in the United States a quarter-century ago. But this very progress has dulled our sense of urgency about preventing the disease and finding a cure. Today is World AIDS Day and we should take a moment to reflect on how we've made progress and why there is a bubbling fear that the worst of the crisis may lie ahead. To finally put a stop to the epidemic, we need to re-energize our commitment and pass smart health care reforms now.

A critical moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS occurred a decade ago, when powerful new protease inhibitor drugs showed remarkable effectiveness in treating the disease and raised hope that the epidemic's end was around the corner. Unfortunately, our progress led to overconfidence in science – a perception that the protease inhibitor regimen guarantees quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS, and thus that contracting the disease is no longer a big deal.

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December 1st, 2009
12:07 PM ET

Frequently asked questions about the mission in Afghanistan

Mike Mount and Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Unit

President Obama is expected to announce Tuesday that he's sending more than 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and discuss the U.S. strategy there.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the U.S. involvement there:

Q: How many troops are in Afghanistan and how many more are going?

A: More than 100,000 U.S. and NATO troops are in Afghanistan, and the president is expected to announce the addition of around 34,000 more U.S. troops to support the war effort. The additional troops will bolster the already 68,000 U.S. troops positioned around the country in the east along the Pakistan border and in the south, where the fighting is the most fierce.

NATO is expected to add around 6,000 additional troops. When they all arrive, the total international force is expected to be almost 150,000, close to the number of U.S. troops in Iraq after the 2007 surge. The first wave of additional U.S. troops is expected to begin deploying to the southern part of the country in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, according to military sources.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Mike Mount • President Barack Obama
December 1st, 2009
11:50 AM ET

Dear President Obama #316: And now the plan for Afghanistan

Reporter's Note: President Obama will finally unveil his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan tonight, and military families in particular, coast to coast, will be watching. The subject of my daily letter to the White House.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

One of my favorite movie scenes of all time comes from The Pope of Greenwich Village. Mobsters are about to appropriate a character’s thumb, and he asks an older man for advice. The guy says something like, “If I were you, I’d wrap my belt around my wrist, hurry to the nearest hospital, and remember, it’s never as bad as it seems.”

When you make your big announcement about Afghanistan tonight, after all the months of anticipation, I can assure you there will be sharp, bitter complaints, and in all likelihood they will come from both sides of the political spectrum. Some on the left will say you sold them out; some on the right will say you are still not committed to seeing the battle through; and who knows, maybe some in the middle will have something to say too.

All I say is brace yourself. Wrap your convictions and the advice of your generals around yourself, and hold on. You are making one of the most difficult decisions for any president, because almost without question people will die as a result of what you say tonight. It may be our troops, it may be the enemy, it may be allied soldiers from other lands, it may be civilians, and most likely it will be a combination of all those.

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December 1st, 2009
11:24 AM ET

One common goal

Program Note: Tune in Tune in tonight for live coverage of President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan. Earlier this fall, Anderson, Peter Bergen, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Michael Ware reported on the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the challenges U.S. troops were facing in Helmand Province. AC360° tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

U.S. Marines listen to a brief before heading out on patrol in Helmand Province.

U.S. Marines listen to a brief before heading out on patrol in Helmand Province.

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

"What’s your blood type?"

It’s the question you’re asked around here a lot. Before getting into a helicopter, before going out on patrol with a new unit. "What's your blood type?"

The Marines have their blood type sewn into the patches they wear along with their name and rank. Many write it in black marker on the band of their goggles. I know some guys who even have it tattooed on their chests, just above their heart. Blood types are displayed prominently in case something goes wrong – in case they get hurt. Doctors can treat them faster in an emergency if they know what blood type to use. At first, the question surprised me, now it’s just a routine part of the introduction.

When you’re an embedded reporter moving from base to base, you meet new Marines all the time. At first some are wary of reporters, but go out on a foot patrol with a platoon for several hours in a combat zone, and very quickly the wariness breaks down, especially when they see you don’t have an agenda.

"My wife emailed me," one Marine said to me this morning. "She said you're reporting the real stuff we're doing here. Thanks." He made my day.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Anderson Cooper • Military
December 1st, 2009
11:16 AM ET

Photo Gallery: Locals in Kandahar

Program Note: Tune in tonight for live coverage of President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan. Earlier this fall, Anderson Cooper, Michael Ware, Peter Bergen and Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Tonight AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Photos by Sarmad Qasiri
CNN

CNN's Michael Ware visits Kandahar, Afghanistan, birthplace of the Taliban. Local commanders say there's little hint of improvement in the country and that the Taliban keeps evolving and finding new ways to wage war.

Take a look at this photo gallery.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Michael Ware
December 1st, 2009
11:07 AM ET

Five questions for Obama on Afghan war

Gordon M. Goldstein
Special to CNN

As a candidate and president, Barack Obama has distinguished himself as one of the most dynamic and enthralling orators in decades of American politics.

On issues ranging from race to health care to engagement with the Muslim world, he has repeatedly applied his rare gifts to both galvanize supporters and engage his critics and the undecided. Yet it will take more than an eloquent speech before the cadets of West Point to reverse his declining 35 percent approval rating for management of the war in Afghanistan, as his advisers no doubt hope.

Like President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, who tried to balance the demands of his nascent Vietnam policy with a highly ambitious domestic agenda, President Obama confronts a tough series of tests, beginning with his Tuesday night address.

Even more critical than moving the political needle, however, is the imperative of launching a frontal assault on the unanswered strategic questions about Afghanistan that continue to divide the military, his senior counselors and the country at large.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • President Barack Obama
December 1st, 2009
10:56 AM ET
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