February 26th, 2010
03:04 PM ET

Afghan leader Karzai is playing games

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/20/afghanistan.election.fraud/art.karzai.afp.gi.jpg caption=" Afghan President Hamid Karzai, here in the photo, has long been considered by his brother Ahmed Wali Karzai to be an American puppet."]

Fareed Zakaria | BIO
CNN Anchor, “Fareed Zakaria – GPS”

Coalition forces have scored gains on the Afghan battlefield. Taliban leaders are on the run in neighboring Pakistan. But there's no sign of political progress in Afghanistan, says analyst Fareed Zakaria.

He said Afghan President Hamid Karzai's assertion of control this week over a watchdog group that seeks to ensure fair elections is "just one more reminder that we have a very difficult alliance with Karzai."

Zakaria said, "You notice that even though the coalition gave Karzai enormous control over the military operations in Marjah, he has yet to publicly endorse them. He has twice publicly criticized them for civilian casualties without pointing out that the Taliban makes conscious use of civilians as human shields. So overall his recent actions have all reminded us that he is playing political games rather than providing real leadership."

NATO-led and Afghan troops have gained ground in a major offensive in the southern province of Helmand, but also have stirred protests about civilian casualties that are believed to have claimed more than 50 lives in two weeks. U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal apologized for an airstrike in which 27 civilians were killed.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Fareed Zakaria
February 26th, 2010
03:01 PM ET

Welcome to D.C.! Passport, please

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

I spent the week in Austin amid barbeques, Longhorn fans, and strangers who greeted me more warmly than some of my friends do. Of course that’s to be expected. My friends know me. Nonetheless I was struck by how very odd the shenanigans in Washington, D.C., must look to someone from another country. For example, America.

It does appear at times that we and our leaders live in utterly different worlds. Our latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found overwhelming numbers of us think our government is broken, and almost 60 percent are not even happy with how our democracy itself is working. I suspect that’s partially because the Capitol power crowd so often ignores our calls for action on important issues as if we are babbling in Czech.

Polls say most Americans are now ok with gays in the military, for instance, but for some reason that can’t be settled. On the other hand, the same polls (or others like them) show most Americans are worried about the provisions in health care reform legislation, and yet there is a hell-for-leather effort to jam it through.


February 26th, 2010
12:40 PM ET

Red tape, bad traffic, no power: 'That's Haiti'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/americas/02/24/obrien.haiti.notebook/story.line.haiti.cnn.jpg caption="People line up for food in Port-au-Prince, Haiti." width=300 height=169]

Soledad O'Brien and Rose Arce

You hear it all the time in Port-au-Prince: "That's Haiti," people tell you when things move slowly, when the electricity goes off or traffic mysteriously comes to a halt. Some say it was like that even before a devastating earthquake reduced most homes to a few hours of power from a generator and made some streets impossible to pass.

Today we followed a group of American relief workers to the airport to pick up several tons of donations. They were expecting tents, food, heavy equipment to help them rebuild and repair. Relief supplies had been flowing freely from the airport since the earthquake. Rescue workers had been able to avoid customs delays and taxes imposed on foreign imports.

But when we arrived at the airport, the whole system had been upended. A doctor from Milwaukee was screaming through a fence at customs officials. She had come for six days with plans to treat 300 patients a day. She had been in Haiti three days and her medicine was still being held. "We were bringing in medical equipment as well as medicines and we have nothing. We don't have anything to see the patients we're supposed to see," she said.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
February 26th, 2010
11:35 AM ET

Dear President Obama #403: Bored? Yeah, me too

Reporter's Note: President Obama spent a day listening to his fellow Democrats and Republicans talk about health care. Hmm…I thought he was against torture? I suppose if he can endure that, he can put up with another one of my letters.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

So how do you think the big health care summit went? From the outside, I guess I’d give it a C. No offense. Not a reflection on you. It’s just so hard to get the Washington crowd on board for any kind of reasonable chat. Seriously, I think I’d rather run naked through a cactus patch than be stuck at a party with that bunch.

I can’t even write about it without nodding off.

Here is an idea, you being sort of the tech president and all: Next time have a laptop in front of you. Tell everyone it’s for access to important information, or insurance amortization tables, or the webcam in the CBO’s kitchen. Whatever. Anyway, just let it sit there for a while, and then when Boehner starts droning away about something, or Pelosi goes off on one of her rants, you can knit your brow and start clicking like you’re really looking into what they have to say.

But in reality you’ll be checking Facebook (have you friended me yet?), going on The Onion site, ordering clothes from J. Crew, or even YouTubing. BTW- you’d better score some discreet earbuds if you are going to check out videos; if you accidentally tip off the crowd , they’ll all get into it. You know how they are. Can’t you just imagine McCain? “Hey, Mr. President, check out this link. It’s a singing dog! Hey, you want to go on the e-Bay?”


February 26th, 2010
11:29 AM ET

Free the killer whale

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/02/25/florida.seaworld.death/story.dawn.brancheau.cnn.jpg caption="Animal trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed Wednesday at SeaWorld Orlando." width=300 height=169]

Jane Velez-Mitchell

When it comes to animal exploitation - follow the money. Using animals for entertainment is big business, plain and simple. The killer whale Tilikum has helped SeaWorld sell millions of dollars worth of tickets.

In the process this highly intelligent, social creature has gone through what we can only assume is hell. The hell is called confinement. Veteran whale trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed February 22 when the 12,300-pound killer whale dragged her into a tank at the park and held her underwater long enough to drown her. It happened in front of a crowd, just as she was rubbing the whale after a show.

As talking heads debate this avoidable tragedy, few pause to reflect on where it all started. It began in the oceans off Iceland. That's where Tilikum was born. He was born free, free to swim up to 100 miles a day, as killer whales are known to do in the wild.

His idyllic life turned into a living hell in 1983. That's when he was captured. Capture of a wild animal is invariably traumatic. He was put in a small pen. After a stint in a Canadian aquarium that ended in tragedy when a trainer was killed by Tilikum and two other whales, the animal was transferred to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
February 26th, 2010
11:22 AM ET

Scandal over Paterson aide


Did New Jersey Governor David Paterson abuse power to help an aide accused of domestic abuse? CNN's Mary Snow reports.

Filed under: Mary Snow
February 26th, 2010
11:17 AM ET

CNN Poll: Majority think government poses threat to citizens' rights

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/02/26/citizens.rights.poll/story.poll.protest.jpg caption="Protesters against health care reform gather Thursday in Washington." width=300 height=169]

Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director

A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: Only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents and nearly seven in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken, though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

Filed under: Democrats • Republicans
February 26th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Now what?

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Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

The day after the bipartisan health care summit, many are wondering whether or not it will have an impact on health care reform. Several senior congressional Democratic sources conceded to CNN that their plans moving forward are unlikely to be much different than they were before the meeting. What was your reaction? How did you think it played out and do you think the seven hours of deliberation will influence the health care debate?

But we're looking beyond the politics surrounding health care. Tonight, Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores a growing phenomenon in America’s health care system: a shortage of doctors. How does this affect your access to care – not to mention your bottom line? Don’t miss his report tonight.

Do you think the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses a threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens? According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 56 percent of Americans do.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
February 26th, 2010
11:10 AM ET

Why centrist voters are fed up

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John P. Avlon
Special to CNN

Today's bipartisan health care meeting is being called a summit, a term that brings to mind diplomatic missions during wartime. That's a fitting description for the atmosphere in Washington. Political opponents are considered enemies.

Health care is just the latest example of government dysfunction; it's been derailed by hyper-partisanship, over-spending and the disproportionate influence of special interests.

Independent voters, the largest and fastest growing segment of the electorate, hold the balance of power in American politics, but they have once again been shut out of the debate. The professional partisans in Washington ignore them at their peril.

Many Americans associate broken government with the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina and the anxieties that accompany the current manic recession. But the roots of independent voters' frustration go deeper.

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February 26th, 2010
11:04 AM ET

Let's hope health summit wasn't a fraud

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/26/t1.capitol.generic.side.jpg caption="" width=300 height=169]
Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

There was a lot to appreciate in yesterday's bipartisan White House health care summit between President Obama and members of Congress.

No really. This is the kind of thing that our leaders ought to do three or four times a year on a variety of issues - from Social Security to education to immigration to job creation. Why not? Put aside the sound bites and partisan barbs. Get beyond the dueling appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows. And bring your best ideas and most constructive suggestions to the table.

Obama deserves credit for convening the meeting. His opening remarks were good, especially when he talked about the rising costs of health insurance premiums, the "exploding costs of Medicare and Medicaid," and how he wanted to "make sure that this discussion is actually a discussion and not just us trading talking points."

I also appreciated his candid discussion of health scares years ago involving his own daughters and how he wondered "What would have happened if I didn't have reliable health care?" And his acknowledgement that "Everybody here understands the desperation that people feel when they're sick."

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Filed under: Health Care • President Barack Obama
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