April 24th, 2009
11:45 PM ET

My Big Fat Greek Grandfather

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/24/art.triple.split.jack.onassis.dukakis.jpg caption="From left to right, Jack's grandfather (X.L. Papaioanou), Aristotle Onassis and Michael Dukakis."]

Jack Gray
AC360° Producer/Writer

Well, actually, he’s not fat. But he does have Michael Dukakis’s eyebrows and Aristotle Onassis’s liver spots.

If you’ve been watching AC360° this week then you’ve probably seen our series of reports on the supposed health and longevity enjoyed by residents on the tiny Greek island of Ikaria. They’ve reminded me of my grandfather: a first generation Greek-American who has long insisted that the secret to a healthy life is a proper balance of Baklava and flat ginger ale.

Words cannot describe the strength and inspiration my grandfather, “Papou,” has given me over the years. Mind you, that was before he turned into a hermit who sits in his basement eating Sam’s Club-brand peanut butter cups and making paper mache busts of Yanni.

Nevertheless, Papou is a man to admire. A brilliant physician, he instilled in me the importance of hard work, honesty and – when he wasn’t looking – complimentary painkillers.

A man who by day saved lives and by night brought home items like a remote-controlled flatulence simulator called Le Farteur. “But it’s French!” he said, as my grandmother pushed him out the door.

He is, as his children and grandchildren will attest, a great listener – always available to dispense advice. Except when he’s asking strangers at Outback Steakhouse if they think he made a mistake by never becoming a chorus boy for Liza Minnelli.


April 24th, 2009
11:32 PM ET

Fast facts on Swine Flu

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/04/24/swine.flu/art.pigs.gi.jpg caption="Swine flu is usually diagnosed only in pigs or people in regular contact with them."]

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What is swine influenza?

Swine influenza (swine flu) is caused by type A influenza virus and gives pigs the flu. Swine flu viruses cause regular outbreaks of flu in pigs but death is infrequent. The viruses may circulate among pigs throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.

How many swine flu viruses are there?

Like all flu viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian, human and swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort and new ones emerge that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses. Over the years, different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. Right now, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. However, most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.

Can humans catch swine flu?

Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs, such as children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Health Care
April 24th, 2009
11:31 PM ET

Deadly outbreak

Anderson Cooper and panelists discuss the swine flu outbreak that has claimed more than 80 lives in Mexico.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Health Care
April 24th, 2009
11:23 PM ET

Afghanistan’s first national park

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/24/art.afghan.park.lake.jpg caption="Lake Kara is the largest of the six lakes in Band-e-Amir."]

Editor’s Note: This week, Afghanistan opened its first official national park. It’s called Band-e-Amir and was officially announced by the country’s National Environmental Protection Agency. This designation affords legal protection to the lakes and surrounding landscape – about 230 square-miles – and ensures its sustainable environmental management. The land is mostly dry grassland and desert highland habitat with six lakes. Estimates suggest approximately 5,000 people live in the 14 villages that make up the region. The Wildlife Conservation Society has been working with local organizations to set up the management of the Band-e-Amir.

Dr. Peter D. Smallwood
Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society-Afghanistan

“You’re working WHERE?” I’m running the Wildlife Conservation Society’s project in Afghanistan.

“But… is there any wildlife LEFT in Afghanistan?”

This is a fairly typical start to conversations I have on my short trips outside of Afghanistan. Even here in Kabul, when I meet up with other NGO workers, they always ask: is there any wildlife left? The answer is yes.

Afghanistan is roughly the size of Texas, but is much more diverse than one would expect for a landlocked country of this size, sandwiched in between Iran and Pakistan. Typically, one thinks of the deserts of Kandahar and Helmand when thinking of Afghanistan, but there’s much more to this country: high mountains and alpine valleys in the north east are home to Marco Polo Sheep (like the American Bighorn sheep, only bigger), Ibex (wild goat), and the illusive, legendary snow leopards hunt them. Great Brown bears roam those mountains too.

There are beautiful forests in the steep eastern mountains: evergreen forests, some with pistachio and old walnut trees mixed in. Markhor goats and Asiatic black bear live here, along with Persian leopards and several other cat and fox species. There is a lot of wildlife left. And much of it is in trouble. It’s the usual trouble: habitat destruction, overhunting, overgrazing of the grasslands, crowding out the wildlife.


April 24th, 2009
11:22 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Afghanistan's first national park

Lake Kara is the largest of the six lakes in Band-e-Amir national park.

Another lake in the park.

Wildlife Conservation Society's scientist Chris Shank with two Afghan park guards.

A person stands at the top of one of the travertine dams that make up the series of six lakes.

To learn more about the park, go here.

April 24th, 2009
08:41 PM ET

Q&A: Lisa Bloom on Melissa Huckaby

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/31/art.crime.sandra.cantu.jpg caption="Melissa Huckaby has been accused in the rape and murder of Sandra Cantu, above."]

Lisa Bloom: Today is Melissa Huckaby’s arraignment, that’s where she would ordinarily plead guilty or not guilty. Her attorney may seek to delay that plea because they want a second autopsy to be done on the remains of Sandra Cantu and a further investigation.

How important is it to the defense to have the body exhumed?

Lisa Bloom: It’s very important to the defense to have the body exhumed because they want to do their own autopsy. They want to determine if there was a sexual assault on little Sandra and I suspect also toxicology results to see if there were any chemicals, any sedatives in her system.

What do you expect at the trial?

Lisa Bloom: At trial, I would expect it to be all about the science, they may claim that the prosecutions theory is incorrect. Either she was not sexually assaulted or they can’t link the sexual assault and the killing to Melissa Huckaby. The defense is going to be looking for any forensic evidence, any DNA, hair or fibers that might link this killing to some other perpetrator. They’re also going to want to disprove the sexual component of this crime.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Lisa Bloom
April 24th, 2009
08:14 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Deadly Flu Outbreak

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/04/24/swine.flu/art.pigs.gi.jpg caption="Swine flu is usually diagnosed only in pigs or people in regular contact with them."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Across the border, Mexico has shutdown its schools, museums and other buildings due to a deadly outbreak of swine flu. At least 68 people have died there, mainly in Mexico City. Nearly 1,000 others have fallen ill. U.S. health officials are also concerned. There have been eight cases of swine flu so far in the U.S., but no deaths.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking the outbreak.

"This is something we're worried about and treating very seriously and I think it's important that people are paying attention to what's going on," said Dr. Richard Besser, Acting Director at the CDC.

This is nothing like any other flu. The CDC says they're dealing with a never-before-seen mixture of viruses from swine, birds and humans.

Here are some facts on swine flu from the CDC:

– Pigs can catch human viruses back to humans and they can be passed from humans to humans
– Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal influenza: fever, coughing, muscle aches & extreme fatigue, but there can also be more extreme vomiting and diarrhea
– There are four antiviral drugs licensed for use in the U.S. to treat swine flu
– There is no vaccine to protect humans from swine flu, although the CDC is working on one
– You cannot catch swine flu from eating pork or pork products.
– Vaccine against human flu is not expected to work against swine flu

Are you worried about swine flu? Share your thoughts below.

Tonight we'll also have the latest on the Pentagon's decision to release hundreds of photos showing alleged abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And don't miss a 360° exclusive, U2 band leader Bono interviews actor George Clooney. It's a great Q&A session that's part of our Time / AC360° special next Friday night – The World's Most Influential People.

We'll have all that and much more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
April 24th, 2009
07:32 PM ET

Bullying: A failure in the system?

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from David Mattingly on the story on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/16/school.bus.cuts/art.school.bus.cuts.afp.gi.jpg]

David Mattingly | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Jaheem Herrera was a brand new student this year at Dunaire Elementary School near Atlanta. He had been excited at first, and looked forward to making new friends. Instead, he was mocked, taunted and harassed by bullies, more and more over his eight months at the school. And then, just 11 years old, he decided he couldn't endure it any more, and hanged himself in his closet.

How could a child be forced to such an extreme act in such a short time?

It's not like he was suffering in silence. Jaheem told his mother about the verbal abuse - and one physical assault. His mother says she complained multiple times to school officials. And this is a school system that experts say had a progressive anti-bullying policy.

Jaheem's complaints should have been taken seriously and adults in the school should have intervened. Did they?


Filed under: 360º Follow • David Mattingly • Education
April 24th, 2009
06:45 PM ET

Beat 360° 4/24/09

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:

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and actor Stephen Baldwin attend a press conference for 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!' at the Langham Hotel on April 24, 2009 in Pasadena, California.

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.

UPDATE: Check out our Beat 360° Winners!

Beat 360° Challenge But wait!… There’s more! When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
April 24th, 2009
04:44 PM ET

The Taliban's nuclear gambit

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/04/24/nuclear.pakistan/art.troops.jpg caption="Pakistan has deployed paramilitary troops to a district taken over by the Taliban."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

If the Taliban continues its pressure on Pakistan, the single most pressing question for all other nations is what happens to the nukes?

Pakistan has long been believed to keep its warheads disassembled, with the parts spread among a half dozen undisclosed locations. In theory, that means even if Taliban fighters seized sizable portions of the country and the capital, Islamabad, they still might not have a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, even if they captured all the right parts for a warhead, they might not have the expertise to assemble one.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and others say Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are primarily made with highly enriched uranium. Pound for pound, it is less powerful than plutonium, but while plutonium requires a sophisticated implosion device to set it off, highly enriched uranium can be detonated with a much lower-tech, cannon-like device. And the Taliban may be capable of making one of those.


Filed under: Pakistan • Terrorism • Tom Foreman
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