December 3rd, 2009
03:40 PM ET

Crime novelist Doug Preston on Meredith Kercher's murder

Amanda Knox has been on trial in Italy for two years

Amanda Knox has been on trial in Italy for two years

Candace Dempsey
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Doug Preston is only too familiar with Judge Giuliano Mignini, the pubblico ministero (public prosecutor) holding UW honor student Amanda Knox, her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede as suspects in the Nov. 1 murder of foreign exchange student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy.

Preston is a journalist as well as a New York Times best-selling novelist and "student of crime."

His newest work, The Monster of Florence, is a nonfiction tale about the infamous serial killer who plagued Florence during the 1970s and 1980s. Preston's book about this killer, who was never caught, will hit stores in June.

Preston first encountered Mignini, one of the prosecutors in the Monster case, when he started researching the crime. Mignini didn't appreciate Preston and his writing partner, Mario Spezi, poking into the facts. He had Spezi arrested and thrown into Capanne prison, where the three Meredith suspects are also housed, and accused him of being the Monster of Florence himself. Spezi has since been freed.


Filed under: Crime
December 3rd, 2009
02:31 PM ET
December 3rd, 2009
02:29 PM ET

Obama is scaling back the war goals

Fareed Zakaria says that the United States may in fact be scaling down the goals of the military operation

Fareed Zakaria says that the United States may in fact be scaling down the goals of the military operation

Fareed Zakaria | BIO
CNN Anchor

When President Obama announced plans Tuesday to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, it appeared to be a major escalation of the war in that country. But, foreign affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria says that the United States may in fact be "scaling down" the goals of the military operation.

In an interview with CNN, Zakaria gave the new plan a good chance of succeeding in achieving its more limited objectives. But he said Obama's idea of setting a target date for starting to draw down U.S. troops was a strategic mistake - though he suggested the president may have needed to do so for political reasons.

Zakaria, author and host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria: GPS," spoke to CNN Wednesday.

CNN: The president outlined an intensive but short-term boost of the military resources in Afghanistan. He didn't call it a surge but is this effectively the same as the Iraq surge?

Fareed Zakaria: Actually I think this is a different surge than the Iraq surge. And not enough people have noticed that - because the president did increase the number of troops and in fact, in many ways the number of troops that he has increased in percentage terms is much larger than the Iraq surge.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • al Qaeda • Fareed Zakaria • Military • President Barack Obama • Taliban
December 3rd, 2009
12:11 PM ET

Afghanistan is mission impossible

Fawaz A. Gerges
Special to CNN

President Obama's decision to deploy an additional 30,000 soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan by early 2010 was not a surprise. In Obama's War Cabinet meetings, the question was not whether to send more troops but how many.

Obama's second major military escalation of the conflict this year, the largest single U.S. deployment since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, will bring the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to almost 100,000. There are also 50,000 NATO troops stationed in the country.

Notably, there will be as many troops in Afghanistan as in Iraq at the height of the war between 2003 and 2008.

In his televised speech Tuesday, Obama stressed the limits of the American presence in Afghanistan and set a goal of starting to bring forces home after only 18 months.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • President Barack Obama
December 3rd, 2009
11:52 AM ET

With mammograms, listen to the experts

John W. Rowe M.D.
Special to CNN

The new recommendations for breast cancer screening - and the public debate surrounding them - underscore the need to distinguish between rationing and establishing science-based standards of health care. That distinction will be crucial as we strive for better and more affordable care in the United States.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which made the recommendations, reviewed new scientific studies and concluded that for women in their 40s, when the likelihood of breast cancer is very low, routine screening is not necessary and that, thereafter, mammography at two-year intervals provides essentially the same benefit as annual tests.

These recommendations have been greeted with understandable skepticism and claims of "rationing."

After all, in the midst of the current health care reform debate it is easy to question the motives of a group seen by some as "government-sponsored," and new science-based recommendations for less, rather than more, care often meet populist resistance.

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Filed under: Health Care • Women's Issues
December 3rd, 2009
11:47 AM ET

A step back for women's health

40,460 American women, according to the American Cancer Society, are expected to lose their breast cancer battle this year.

40,460 American women, according to the American Cancer Society, are expected to lose their breast cancer battle this year.

Susan Scanlan
Special to CNN

I've been digesting the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for two weeks now. And I'm still swallowing hard.

How else to react to the cockamamie recommendations to discontinue routine breast self-exams, along with mammograms, for 40-something women?

Let's take one giant leap backward for women's health! These task forcers have devalued the only tool available to women for fighting what is practically a health scourge in our country.

I know from scourges. The granddaughter and daughter of breast cancer victims, my time in the barrel came in 2005. Four years and a double mastectomy later, I'm still kicking.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Health Care • Women's Issues
December 3rd, 2009
11:07 AM ET

50on50: Running for laughs





Running coach, Jeff Galloway

Running coach, Jeff Galloway

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

I just had lunch with a fat kid who took up running for laughs. He made the U.S. Olympic marathon team. Now, he’s a popular and influential running coach. And this week, after following him to the Whole Foods salad bar where he filled his plate with black-eyed peas and steamed vegetables, he and I trampled the 18-49 year old demo.

Exorcising Lazy

The marathon runner I had lunch with is Jeff Galloway. When Galloway was a kid, his father was in the Navy so the family moved a lot. 13 schools by the time he reached 7th grade.

Because of those frequent moves, Galloway never really had a chance to get involved with school sports. As a result, he says, “I was a fat, inactive, lazy kid.”

When they settled for good in Atlanta, 13-year-old Jeff Galloway’s school required the boys to choose a sport.

Galloway says he sought advice from “the other lazy kids.” They suggested track and field because the coach was lazy too. “Tell the coach you’re gonna run on the trails and then hide out in the woods.”

Galloway’s story might have ended there – an overweight kid hiding in the woods. But some of the older kids who he liked on the team insisted he come running with them.

“They started telling jokes,” he remembers. “I ran to keep up with them so I could hear the jokes – and the gossip.”

Drawn by the conversation, Jeff Galloway started losing weight and gaining strength.


Filed under: Michael Schulder
December 3rd, 2009
11:03 AM ET
December 3rd, 2009
07:27 AM ET

Dear President Obama #318: Behold! The jobs summit!

Reporter's Note: President Obama is hosting a jobs summit as the White House today. Uh, but don’t bother trying to drop off your resume. I don’t think it’s that kind of meeting.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

With all respect to the seriousness of your concerns about health care, and the climate, and Afghanistan, I must say it is a relief to see you are holding a forum at the White House today about jobs. As my mother said when I moved out of the house, “About time!”

This employment situation (or at least the “un” part) is one of those structural problems that will undermine everything else you want to do until you get it under control. It’s kind of like a bass player in a band. As long as he is doing everything right, nobody notices him; but if he starts screwing up, it ruins the whole gig. And if he doesn’t pitch in to pay for the pizza, he’s definitely out of the group. Remind me to tell you some good bass player jokes when you call…

In any event, no doubt you’ve noticed protests around the country over jobs, and you’ve heard the rumbles among some of your fellow Dems about organizing a march on Washington. It seems to me that organizing a job fair would be more useful and could send the same message; after all, how the heck do you fill out a job application while marching down the street holding a sign? Maybe each protestor can use the person in front of him or her as a desk. You can send Biden out to hand out pens.


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