February 16th, 2010
05:05 PM ET

Luge dangers exaggerated

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/16/t1.luge.jpg caption="Accidents occur in a luge competition." width=300 height=169]

David Epstein
Special to CNN

Luge is a dangerous sport in which accidents happen. That was the refrain from athlete after athlete when asked how they felt about the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed when he flew off the Olympic track during training in Whistler on Friday.

But luge athletes will be the first to tell you they are more driving technicians than adrenaline junkies, and when pressed about why they would participate in a sport that's so dangerous, several concede they don't consider the sport to be that risky.

Amidst the shock at the death of a young athlete, the fact has been lost that in the hands - and feet - of masters, luge is relatively safe.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
February 16th, 2010
04:11 PM ET
February 16th, 2010
04:04 PM ET

Black America can't rely on Obama alone

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/05/art.getty.obama.jpg]

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Special to CNN

If we are to address seriously the economic devastation in black communities across the nation, we have to put aside, once and for all, the idea that President Obama has a special obligation to African-Americans.

Obama has said repeatedly that he can't be the president of black America; he is the president of all Americans. We should take him at his word.

But to be president of all Americans involves recognizing the extraordinary differences that make up our nation. These differences are not only cultural, racial and ethnic; they also involve differences in quality of life and in access to opportunity - disparities that have long histories in the United States.


February 16th, 2010
03:56 PM ET

Can Obama rebuild bipartisan trust in Washington?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/02/10/obama.african.americans/story.obama.file.cnn.jpg caption="Political analysts question whether Obama can rebuild bipartisan trust in Washington." width=300 height=169]

Mark Halperin

"I guess I shouldn't be surprised by my friend, Joe Biden."

So said Dick Cheney during the bizarre and riveting electronic duel between the former and current Vice Presidents on this past weekend's Sunday morning shows. A tart comment punctuated by the artificial nicety friend is a common device in the congressional culture where both men toiled for years, but from Cheney's lips on this occasion it seemed particularly hollow, buried within a scorching critique of his White House successors. Biden gave as good as he got, blasting the Bush Administration with energy and spirit.

But this was all to be expected. Despite the President's paramount campaign promise to end the bitter recriminations and partisan animus that have defined Washington politics for almost two decades, genuine feelings of friendship across the aisle rarely animate the contours of the debate in Barack Obama's Washington.


Filed under: Dick Cheney • Joe Biden • President Barack Obama • Raw Politics
February 16th, 2010
03:31 PM ET
February 16th, 2010
03:25 PM ET

Bayh says his retirement won't leave Democrats in a tight spot

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/02/16/bayh.senate/story.bayhe.gi.jpg caption=" 'We've got a lot of good people in Congress, but they're trapped in a dysfunctional system,' Sen. Evan Bayh says." width=300 height=169]

Paul Steinhauser and Robert Yoon

Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh says his decision to retire at the end of the year rather than run for re-election has not left his party in a bind.

"The party hasn't been left in the lurch. We have a real shot of winning this election and having a good senator follow me in the United States Senate. And I'm going to help that individual very vigorously," Bayh said Tuesday on CNN's "American Morning."

The two-term senator's unexpected announcement Monday gives national Republicans one of their best opportunities to take over a Democratic seat, according to independent analyses from two leading nonpartisan political handicappers.

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Filed under: 2010 Elections • Democrats • Raw Politics
February 16th, 2010
03:21 PM ET

Is Israel-bashing anti-Semitic?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/21/t1.idf.clinic.doc.jpg caption="A medic at the IDF Field Hospital in Port-au-Prince checks on an injured child."]

David Frum
CNN Contributor

Jennifer Tonge is not a lunatic. She is a member of the British House of Lords, appointed to that eminent body in 2005 after a career in politics and medicine.

On February 11, she was asked a question by http://www.thejc.com, the online version of Britain's Jewish Chronicle.

Tonge serves as patron of an online journal based in Gaza, the Palestine Telegraph. The previous week, the Palestine Telegraph accused the Israeli medical teams doing humanitarian work in Haiti of harvesting organs from earthquake victims. TheJC.com asked Tonge for comment. Tonge first commended the Israeli teams for their work in Haiti. She then added these words:

"To prevent allegations such as these - which have already been posted on YouTube - going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti."

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Haiti • Israel • Medical News
February 16th, 2010
01:58 PM ET

10 Questions: Carolina Herrera on What’s Next…in Style

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/15/art.vert.carolina.herrera.jpg caption="Designer Carolina Herrera watches rehearsals before the Carolina Herrera Fall 2010 Fashion Show in New York City on Monday." width=292 height=320]

David Puente
AC360° Producer

A cross between the AC360° series "What's Next" and The Proust questionnaire, AC360° Producer David Puente asks newsmakers his own set of questions. If in the The Proust Questionnaire – named for the writer Marcel Proust who popularized it – the individual responding reveals his or her true nature, then in this questionnaire we'll learn about the individual and about "what's next" in the coming century.


Carolina Herrera
Fashion Designer

Taking time out from New York's Fashion Week, designer Carolina Herrera pondered what's next for the industry, male vanity and even Venezuela's strong-man President Hugo Chavez.


Filed under: David Puente • What's Next
February 16th, 2010
01:56 PM ET

Fact Check: What's the track record of military commissions?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/15/art.biden.gi.jpg caption="Vice President Joe Biden said two out of three people tried in military courts are now free."]

Emma Lacey-Bordeaux

Vice President Joe Biden took to the airwaves on Sunday and discussed the issue of national security. On CBS's Face the Nation Biden compared the track records of military and civilian courts saying: "There have been three people tried and convicted by the last administration in military courts. Two are walking the street right now."

Fact Check: Are two people convicted in military courts now free?
–According to the Department of Defense, David Hicks was convicted of providing material support to terrorism in 2007. His case was the first tried in the military system after the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Hicks was sentenced to "not more than nine months," according to a DOD press release. CNN's Brian Todd found that Hicks is now free.

–Salim Hamdan was convicted in 2008 of providing material support to terrorism and sentenced to 66 months, according to the DOD. However the military judge in the case ordered a credit of 61 months and eight days. CNN's Brian Todd found that Hamdan is now in Yemen.

- Ali Hamza al-Bahul was sentenced in November of 2008 to life in prison according to the DOD. Bahlul was convicted of conspiracy, solicitation and providing material support to terrorism. CNN's Brian Todd found that Bahul is still incarcerated.

Bottom Line: Vice President Joe Biden is correct when he says two out of three tried in military commissions are now free.

-CNN's Diana Holden and Brian Todd contributed to this report.

February 16th, 2010
01:28 PM ET

Fact Check: Iran's Revolutionary Guard

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/meast/02/15/fact.check.iran.guard/story.ahmadinejad.afp.gi.jpg caption="Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a former Revolutionary Guard member, the RAND Corporation says." width=300 height=169]

Jim Dexter

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared Monday that Iran's Revolutionary Guard is "in effect supplanting the government of Iran," and she warned that the result could be a military dictatorship.

Clinton - who has been visiting U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf - made the statement during a question-and-answer session with university students in Qatar.

Fact Check: How powerful is Iran's Revolutionary Guard?
- Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was founded after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to defend the regime against all threats, "but has since expanded far beyond its original mandate," according to the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-partisan think tank devoted to helping people "better understand the world."

- The IRGC's role includes ideological education, according to the RAND Corporation, "the original non-profit think tank," and it has its own media outlets and affiliate universities. The Council on Foreign Relations calls the IRGC one of Iran's "most influential domestic institutions."

- The U.S. State Department says the IRGC has control over "broad swaths of the Iranian economy," and the earnings fund IRGC operations, including support for terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

- The Council on Foreign Relations says IRGC has about 125,000 fighters, has navy, army and ground components, controls Iran's strategic missile forces and engages in foreign and domestic intelligence operations.

- The Council for Foreign Relations says IRGC also controls Iran's Basij Resistance Force, a volunteer militia accused of beating and killing opposition supporters after the disputed 2009 election. According to the Washington Institute, the Basij has had a growing role in Iran since 2003.

- According to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, Iranian law prohibits the IRGC from political activity. Despite that, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, much of his cabinet, many members of parliament, and a range of other provincial and local administrators are former IRGC members, according to the RAND Corporation. "Today the guard has evolved into a socio-military-political-economic force with influence reaching deep into Iran's power structure," said the Council on Foreign Relations.

Bottom Line: While the possibility of a military dictatorship remains a matter of conjecture, Iran's Revolutionary Guard already holds growing military, ideological, political and economic influence in Iran.

- CNN's Samira J. Simone contributed to this report.

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