CNN International Assignment Editor
We were sitting at a Thanksgiving table in Moscow, at my American friend's house when my three-or-four-year-old son asked me, "Dad, what is Thanksgiving?"
The question was very appropriate.
Thanksgiving, I replied, is when Americans sit around the table, eat turkey and thank God for being Americans.
Funny, I did nail the concept – more or less, being thousands of miles away, not having ever visited the US before.
Looking back, we do have a lot to be thankful for.
In the Soviet Union, where I grew up, the Jews were allowed to apply for exit visas to leave the country – a rare opportunity. And like with everything else in the Soviet Union, there were two realities: official and actual.
Officially, Soviet people enjoyed basic human rights, including the right to travel. In reality, only members of two ethnic groups could materialize that right: the Jews and the Germans.
And even then, there were exceptions to the rule.
Tonight on 360°, the security breach at the White House state dinner. We're also digging deeper on Pres. Obama's decision to boost U.S. forces in Afghanistan and meet a CNN Hero.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/OPINION/11/25/black.friday.shopping/t1larg.mallshoppers.gi.jpg caption="Consumers look for values at a department store earlier this year." width=300 height=169]
Turkey isn’t the only thing to look forward to this week … if you’re hearty enough to brave the stores this holiday weekend, experts we spoke to said there are some huge deals to be had.
A majority of Black Friday shoppers are going to be looking for electronics and folks at Consumer Reports tell us that this is the season for HD televisions. With the country still bogged down by an economic crisis, HD TV makers are betting that people will still be lured into buying one if the price is right.
National Center for Education Statistics
Each state sets its own standards for acheivement on its own educational assessments, so comparing these markers is impossible without a common yardstick against which to measure. By using states' NAEP scores as this common measure, the report allows readers to see how their states' standards for achievement compare to those of other states.
Toyota announced Wednesday that it will fix gas pedals in millions of cars for an accelerator problem that had previously been blamed on floor mats.
The automaker said that "the shape of the accelerator pedal will be reconfigured to address the risk of floor mat entrapment." Floor pads of the vehicles will also be changed.
Toyota said the reconfiguration applies to the following models:
· 2007 to 2010 Camry
· 2005 to 2010 Avalon
· 2004 to 2009 Prius
· 2005 to 2010 Tacoma
· 2007 to 2010 Tundra
· 2007 to 2010 ES 350
· 2006 to 2010 IS 250
· 2006 to 2010 IS 350
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:
(Getty Images)DANCING WITH THE STARS -Kym Johnson, and Donny Osmond
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.
Security is supposed to be top-notch at The White House. But somehow a couple that wasn't invited to last night's state dinner got inside the party tent, and within feet of the President. The intruders even brag about it on their Facebook page.
The couple took a lot of photos. There's a snapshot with Vice President Joe Biden, another with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and many others. We'll show you the party photos tonight on 360°. We'll also have details on the intruders who are reportedly aspiring reality TV stars.
Tonight the Secret Service released this statement:
"The Secret Service has tasked our Office of Professional Responsibility with conducting a comprehensive review of the incident which occurred at the White House State Dinner last night.
Initial findings identified a Secret Service checkpoint which did not follow proper procedures to ensure that the 2 individuals named in a Washington Post story were on the invited guest list.
It is important to note that these individuals went through magnetometers and other levels of security, as did all guests attending the dinner."
Join us for this story and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then!
Special to CNN
Three years ago I began research on a book dedicated to the national pastimes: shopping and buying.
The plan was to devote the first half of the story to what I called the "sell side": the retailers, marketers and consumer researchers who have their sights trained on us. The second half would be about us, the "buy side." I would explore all that attracts us - bees to nectar– to specific stores and products, why some of us are cheapskates and others have holes in our pockets.
Then, a not-so-funny thing happened. Between the time I started my reporting and the time I handed in my finished manuscript, both the sell and the buy sides had cratered. Home prices crashed. Credit markets collapsed. The government tried feverishly to glue broken banks back together. Unemployment went up and up and up.
The result: consumer spending - as in that which drives 70 percent of the U.S. economy - was running on fumes. Department store sales sank by double-digits. "The golden age of spending for the American consumer has ended and a new age of thrift likely has begun," said a Wall Street analyst. "Sixty percent off is the new black," quipped a magazine fashion writer.
CNN Senior Political Analyst
The fashionable critique of President Obama is that we don't really know who he is yet: That somehow, the eloquent and often-inspiring candidate of the campaign has yet to morph into anything resembling a memorable - much less transformational - president.
And so the polls are a muddle. The public still likes him well enough, but they aren't so sure about his policies. In other words, they are fine with this cerebral man as president, but still can't tell if his beliefs will eventually make them change their minds. They're on the fence.
Well, get ready to jump.
If there's a tipping point early on in every presidency, this is it. Obama is reaching the end of his first year - and a point where his decisions may well require him to stand up against not only his adversaries, but also his friends.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/11/25/pakistan.terror.arrests/story.tajmahalattack.gi.jpg caption="Smoke billows out of the Taj Majal hotel in Mumbai, India, during a siege in November 2008." width=300 height=169]
Seven suspects arrested in connection with last year's attacks on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai were charged in connection with the siege Wednesday, a defense attorney for one of the men told CNN.
The suspects are Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Umar Abjul Wajid, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jameel Ahmed, Mohammad Younas Anjum, Mazhar Iqbal and Hammad Amin Sadiq.
Alyas Saddiqi, the defense attorney representing suspect Jameel Ahmed, said the defendants were charged with acts of terrorism, money laundering, supplying funds for terrorism, and providing tools for terrorism. Saddiqi said all the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.