February 15th, 2010
03:40 PM ET

CNN Fact Check: Has poppy production in Afghanistan decreased?

An Afghan farmer displays a poppy plant.

An Afghan farmer displays a poppy plant.

Diana Holden

As NATO begins one of its biggest offensives in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war, coalition troops face a multitude of challenges. Helmand province is known for its opium production and as a hub of Taliban activity. Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," retired Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, said, "One of the ancillary benefits of where this operation is being conducted is in the heart of Helmand province, and that is the center mass of the drug production. Happily, last year for the first time in several years, the poppy production went down and wheat production went up, and so we'll see what happens this year."

Fact Check: Has poppy production decreased in a region of Afghanistan known for its drug links?

Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Taliban
February 15th, 2010
03:27 PM ET

'Palm-gate' proves centrists' Palin doubts

John Avlon says Sarah Palin's reliance on notes on her palm has validated centrists' doubts

John Avlon says Sarah Palin's reliance on notes on her palm has validated centrists' doubts

John Avlon
CNN Contributor

She was caught red-handed. The surreal scene of Sarah Palin referring to notes written on her palm during a Q&A session after her speech at the National Tea Party convention has validated skeptics even as it's been dismissed by her supporters.

This disconnect is a real problem for Palin and the Republican Party. Palin's presidential hopes are already confronting the fact that she is the most polarizing figure in American politics.

She is queen of the conservative populists, and to her supporters she can do wrong. She is despised by Democrats. But - and here's the biggest hurdle - she is disliked and distrusted by Independents and centrists.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Raw Politics • Republicans • Sarah Palin
February 15th, 2010
03:01 PM ET

New Orleans is storming back

Saints quarterback Drew Brees celebrates with fans at the Superdome after New Orleans advanced to the Super Bowl.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees celebrates with fans at the Superdome after New Orleans advanced to the Super Bowl.

James Carville | BIO
CNN Contributor

In September of 2005, no one could have anticipated what we saw in New Orleans last week. What happened on the football field and parade route after the Saints' Super Bowl victory is amazing and uplifting. But what's happening elsewhere in New Orleans also rises to that standard.

Consider the following:

The day before the Super Bowl, New Orleans participated in a historic mayoral election, as Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu won a stunning 66-percent of the vote, with unprecedented support among all races.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • James Carville • New Orleans • Super Bowl
February 15th, 2010
02:54 PM ET
February 15th, 2010
01:57 PM ET

As candidates battle for votes, fight extends to Wikipedia entries

Burt Hubbard
The Denver Post

Denver Mayor and Colorado gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper has received "poor ratings" from "some Denver employees," according to one version of his online biography on the website Wikipedia.

Seconds later, the ratings of the mayor are still poor, only the group responsible for them has been changed to "small businesses."

And with a few more clicks of the keyboard, the original could just as easily reappear, disappear and appear again.

Like county fairs and gossip fences of days gone by, the Wikipedia biography is an emerging battleground in the modern political campaign.

The online encyclopedia lets anyone and everyone edit the posted articles. And while that may be a boon for the First Amendment, it can be a nightmare for politicians who want to maintain control of their personal narrative — and want it to tilt in their favor.

In Colorado, Wiki wars have already been waged over U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet's ethnicity, challenger Andrew Romanoff's standing within the party, Hickenlooper's reputation with small business and Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis' relationship with former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay.

Snapshots of the pages for leading candidates for governor and U.S. Senate taken last Monday trace how the pages had changed during the prior months.

Tracking the changes shows a pattern of online political intrigue, some originating from government offices.

All the pages had been changed, usually anonymously, since the candidates had announced their intentions to run for office.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Internet
February 15th, 2010
12:09 PM ET

Video: Missionary advisor a wanted man

Karl Penhaul
CNN Correspondent

Filed under: Haiti • Karl Penhaul
February 15th, 2010
12:05 PM ET

Happy (former) Presidents Day

Bob Greene
CNN Contributor

A president's days, after he no longer is president, are of his own devising. The world no longer watches his every movement, a notion that can take some getting used to.

"Now, I wear a coat and tie all the time," Richard Nixon said. "It isn't a case of trying to be formal, but I'm more comfortable that way. I've done it all my life."

Nixon was talking about his daily routine in the years after he left the White House. We were sitting in his study, in a federal government building in Lower Manhattan.

"I don't mind people around here in the office, particularly younger people, they usually take their coats off," he said. "But I just never have. It's just the way I am. I work in a coat and tie, and believe me, believe it or not, it's hard for people to realize, but when I'm writing a speech or working on a book or dictating or so forth, I'm always wearing a coat and tie. Even when I'm alone. If I were to take it off, probably I would catch cold. That's the way it is."

Monday is Presidents Day in the United States. When a president is in office, he is the subject of constant international attention, even obsession. He is attacked by his enemies, praised to the rafters by his supporters, analyzed syllable by syllable with every sentence he speaks. And when a president, after leaving office, eventually dies, he enters that hazy pantheon of history, chiseled in marble in the nation's collective memory.

But there is always, for some of our presidents, that odd in-between time after they have departed the White House but before they have departed this Earth. Technically, they have rejoined the rest of us; purportedly, they are everyday citizens again, although it can never truly be so.

Keep reading...

February 15th, 2010
11:44 AM ET

Video: Gupta: Haitian girl OK after brain surgery

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

Filed under: Haiti Earthquake • Sanjay Gupta
February 15th, 2010
11:20 AM ET

Olympic skier applies unusual remedy for injury

Madison Park

Some turn to prayer. Others turn to state-of-the-art medicine. Lindsey Vonn turned to the power of fromage.

The Olympic favorite has been wrapping her injured shin in an Austrian cheese - topfen - to reduce inflammation.

One former Olympic trainer wasn't surprised.

"It's not bizarre at all," said Ralph Reiff, certified athletic trainer and director of Sports Medicine and Sports Performance for St. Vincent Hospital of Indianapolis, Indiana. "It's just what athletes at that level do."

While using the cheese may not be scientifically proven to soothe an injury, what matters more is what's in the athlete's mind, Reiff said.

"Regardless of whether it's a home remedy or passed down from generations or something someone thought of, if the athlete believes in it, there is significant value in that," said Reiff, who has worked as an athletic trainer in previous Olympics. "If the person who is receiving that treatment believes that it's part of the puzzle of getting better, therefore that athlete has faith. I am a firm believer that it has value."

Keep reading...

February 15th, 2010
10:49 AM ET
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