March 26th, 2010
02:36 PM ET

Want healthy kids? Learn how to cook

Kristen Swensson and Leigh Angel
Special to CNN

We hear it on the news like a drumbeat: Millions of kids eat out too much, lack access to fruits and vegetables, and it seems no one's teaching them how to make healthy choices.

Childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes are on the rise like never before. "This may be the first generation that has a shorter life expectancy than their parents," said an author of a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In February, first lady Michelle Obama introduced an initiative called Let's Move! to do something about the situation. She even laid it on the line when she spoke to the Grocery Manufacturer's Association last week, "We need you ... to entirely rethink the products that you're offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children." The Grocery Manufacturer's Association says it's on its way to compliance.

But you don't need the first lady or an industry trade group to tell you how to improve your diet. You can have your own ambitious plan. You can start at home, by learning how to cook.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Childhood Obesity
March 26th, 2010
02:29 PM ET

The horror of covering sexual abuse

Bridget Fallon

After working as a journalist for 17 years in London, I have returned to Ireland where I find a very different country to the one I left.

I find an Ireland in the midst of massive change, not just economically but socially too. Covering the Irish church scandal story for CNN really brought home these changes to me.

When I was growing up in Ireland in the 1970s and 80s the church dominated. Most people I knew were schooled by priests and nuns. So was I until my parents decided to reef me out of the convent after one nun told me to cross my legs because I was exciting the boys: I was six years old.

Most people went to Mass and confession once a week. My grandmother went to mass every day. Confession was the strangest thing: how could an eight-year-old sin enough to confess every week? Most weeks I would sit there and make up sins that I had committed to make myself sound more interesting. And that way I had something to build on the following week.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Pope Benedict
March 26th, 2010
12:37 PM ET

Beat 360° 3/26/10

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture 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:

This combination of photos shows US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi laughing during a press briefing following their bilateral meeting at the Department of State in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2010. Clinton said the United States had started a 'new day' with Pakistan in hearing its concerns. Clinton opened a first-of-a-kind 'strategic dialogue' with Pakistan, hoping to show the country's widely anti-American public that the United States wants a relationship that goes beyond short-term battles against Islamic militants.

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.

Beat 360° Winners:


Joey Gardner

“Is that Bin Laden in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me (hiccup).”


Jayne, Mobile, AL

"Pakistan and the US try out a new approach in foreign relations with each other. Operation: V.O.D.K.A."

_______________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
March 26th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

The old pea and shell game

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

One of the truisms of politics and of piles of laundry in a teenager’s room is that no problem is so big it can’t be pushed aside, at least for a while.

Case in point: The growing issue of Medicare payments to doctors. I know it sounds boring, but stick with me … like Betty White’s career, it gets better as it goes.

President Obama and Democratic members of Congress made a great fuss in the run up to the health care vote about how the whole matter was deficit neutral at worst, a deficit reducer at best. And the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that they were telling the truth. The trouble is, with the ink barely dry, Dems are already considering another major piece of medical legislation which, had it been included in the original bill, would have turned reform into a budget buster and possibly torpedoed chances for passage.

Here is the tale in a nutshell (or a bedpan, take your pick.) When President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965 to give care to the elderly, doctors were allowed to pretty much decide what was fair compensation and the government paid it. Then the costs ballooned, debates broke out, and in 1992, the government adopted a formula to govern those payments. And now everything is a mess.


Filed under: Opinion • Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
March 26th, 2010
11:39 AM ET

Beauty Queen Hunted on Drug Charges

Karl Penhaul

Sources say some of those arrested have named Sanclemente and her Argentine male model boyfriend, now in custody, as the ringleaders of the trafficking ring.

Despite an international manhunt Sanclemente, now 30, has continued to update her Facebook page.

In a Facebook message to CNN this week Sanclemente denied any involvement in the case, writing: "I'm very sad and hurt by the bad information. I don't know how the press can destroy an innocent person."

Later she wrote: "I don't want to go to jail I don't deserve it. I am innocent." She said she had hired a Buenos Aires-based attorney and hoped to clarify her legal situation soon. CNN has been unable to reach the attorney.

Former boyfriend, DJ Ludwing Hernandez says he has also had word from Sanclemente since the scandal broke. He lives in Barranquilla, the Colombian port city famous for its carnival and as hometown of pop star Shakira. Sanclemente spent her teenage years there.

"I heard from Angie through another friend," he said. "Right now she's shocked and scared she will get arrested. She's also afraid for her life because this is a big drug problem and the bad guys could harm her."

A Colombian drug trafficker consulted by CNN, who requested not to be named because he continues smuggling, said Sanclemente may be lying low in Argentina. But he said if she had the right connections she could make it back to Colombia.

Sanclemente's mother, Yaneth Valencia, rents a $75-a-month apartment on the outskirts of Barranquilla. Neighbors said she left about two weeks ago - shortly after the international arrest warrant was issued for her daughter.

"She didn't have a bed only a mattress on the floor. That's hardly the lifestyle of a drug trafficker's mother," said one neighbor, who gave her name only as Dolly.

Sanclemente first hit the headlines in 2000 when she was 20. She won Colombia's prestigious Queen of Coffee beauty pageant. Victory was short-lived. Judges dethroned after just two days when they found out she had been married, contrary to competition rules.

That marriage lasted just three months back in 1998 to a Barranquilla businessman. He paid for her to study journalism at Barranquilla's university.

A university friend, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said Sanclemente dropped out of college after three semesters and spent tuition fees on silicone breast implants instead.

That friend said Sanclemente idolized Colombia's then top model Natalia Paris. She even dyed her hair blonde and imitated Paris' distinctive accent to appear more like her. Paris married a drug trafficker turned DEA informant, known as Julio Correa. He was killed in 2001 by his former associates when he returned to Colombia from Miami. Drug underworld sources say he was cut up in a meat grinder.

While some who have known her doubt she is capable of run a drug smuggling ring, others describe Sanclemente as ambitious and determined from an early age.

"Angie was very analytical. She calculated and weighed things up. She took firm steps so she didn't make mistakes," said Luis Alfonso Posso, one of her teenage friends.

Sanclemente was an only child. Her mother - a single mom – scraped a living selling shoes and clothes. But she saved enough to enroll Sanclemente in Barranquilla's top modeling school, "La Pasarella."

Instructor Nury Rodriguez remembers the young Sanclemente as skinny and lacking self-confidence. But aside from her exotic looks, Rodriguez said she had one outstanding trait - she hated to lose.

"Angie always wanted to win and draw attention to herself one way or another. She wanted to stand out," Rodriguez said. "She once confronted the judges in a beauty contest because she thought she should have been among the finalists."

Her brief reign as Miss Coffee Queen also brought her to the attention of admiring drug capos, according to a fashion industry insider who knew Sanclemente in Bogota.

"Narcotraffickers go to beauty pageants to buy the women they like. In other cases they sponsor candidates, paying for their outfits, their plastic surgery and even bribing the judges so their girl wins," the woman explained.

The woman, who still organizes beauty pageants, did not wish to be named saying she feared a backlash from within the industry.

Sanclemente left Colombia around 2005 and headed to Mexico where she continued to pick up modeling assignments and bit-part roles as a TV actress, according to friends.

If the Argentine allegations are true, it's unclear how Sanclemente made the leap from drug trafficker's moll to becoming a cocaine queen in her own right.

"There are some very determined and very strong women who have got more balls than the men. But usually I would say a girl like that would be running the network of mules not the whole cartel," the drug trafficking source told CNN.

The drug trafficker said he was almost certain, if the allegations are true, that Sanclemente was not operating alone. He said she would have needed connections to a Mexican cartel.

"Cancun is a very good spot to export drugs to Europe. A lot of tourists arrive on charter flights and the Mexican cartels have done an excellent job infiltrating the police," he said.

In the past Sanclemente has dyed her hair blonde then black and was last seen with copper highlights. She used to use blue contact lenses though her eyes are naturally brown.

But even if she goes unrecognized, friends say Sanclemente is unlikely to pass completely unnoticed. Her silicone-enhanced curves, tight-fitting outfits and catwalk strut make her hard to ignore.

"Angie kicked up dust wherever she went. Men and women would stop and stare whenever she passed," a female friend said.

Filed under: 360° Radar
March 26th, 2010
11:33 AM ET

California leads nation in wacky politics

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/23/california.gov.knife/art.gov.gi.jpg caption="Schwarzenegger announced a major plan Monday to eliminate California's $26 billion deficit."]
Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

California is referred to as a bellwether, a state that produces social trends and political movements that spread throughout the country.

This time, you had better hope you're spared. When it comes to the wacky left coast politics on display in this year's elections in California, trust me: You don't want any of this.

There's an initiative on the ballot that would legalize marijuana and allow any California resident 21 years and older to possess 1 ounce for personal use.

I think some of our politicians are getting ahead of themselves. They're obviously under the influence of something.

There are two big races this year, for U.S. Senate and governor.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar
March 26th, 2010
11:31 AM ET

Video: Vatican on the defense


CNN's Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen says the Catholic Church is fighting to preserve the pontiff's moral authority.

Filed under: Pope Benedict
March 26th, 2010
11:25 AM ET

Polls indicate support for health care reform up since vote

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/25/art.obama.signing.gi.jpg caption="According to new polls, support for the health care reform bill has increased as a result of Sunday's approval the legislation by the House." width=300 height=169]


Support for the health care reform bill has increased as a result of Sunday's approval the legislation by the House, according to three national polls conducted after the vote.

Two of the surveys, by CBS News and Quinnipiac University, asked virtually the same question about health care both before and after Sunday's vote, and in both polls support for the legislation rose by four to five percentage points.

USA Today/Gallup, the third poll conducted after the vote, did not ask the same question as they did before action by the House, but their results are generally consistent with the indication in the other polls that support for the health care bill has gone up.

How many people now support the health care bill? That is trickier to say because the polls asked very different questions.

USA Today/Gallup asked whether Americans thought "it was a good thing or a bad thing that Congress passed this bill."

Keep reading...

Filed under: Health Care
March 26th, 2010
11:16 AM ET

Dear President Obama #431: Two men enter ... one man leaves

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s legislative plans continue to fuel a regular Thunderdome of conflicts up on the Hill. I only hope it doesn’t interrupt mail service as I continue my campaign to send a letter a day to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I think your Capitol pals have finally gone completely around the bend. What the heck is happening over there? All I’m hearing about is arguments over this, and fights over that, and threats, and flying bricks, and zinging bullets, and running in the halls, and Bob’s-your-uncle we’ve got a revolution on our hands!

Granted, it’s not that bad at this point, but it sure is getting ugly. Your side blames the Republicans for the flaming grease on the stove, and they blame you for pushing and making them spill it. Both sides have their points, but mainly it seems like what we always get in DC is precisely what we are getting now: More finger pointing than you’ll find at a New Mexico UFO sighting.

Let me fill you in on a secret, just in case you’ve forgotten since leaving Illinois. Some Americans will side with the home team, some with the away team, but an awful lot of them will just be mad that once again the game has ground to a halt while the benches empty for yet another brawl.

I’m not saying it’s dull. To the contrary, it is plenty entertaining to see the lawmakers in loafers clawing at each other like wet cats in a cardboard box. But it’s no way to run a country. Personally, if you’re all going to have such a hard time getting along, I think we’d be better off if you’d just go ahead and punch it out.


March 26th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

Photo Gallery: Hollenbeck, five years later

Program Note: Don't miss our AC360° special investigation, "Gangs of Hollenbeck," Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.


Five years ago we spent months talking to police and gang members while reporting in the Hollenbeck division of Los Angeles. It’s a place where thousands of young men and women were – and still are – members of gangs.

There is a long history of gangs in Hollenbeck, some current gang members have grandfathers who were once involved in La Vida Loca, “the crazy life.” Since then, gang killings have dropped in Los Angeles, and we wanted to return to Hollenbeck to see what’s happening there now.

We tracked down some of the gang members we talked to five years ago, and re-connected with cops and social workers who are trying to reduce the strength of gangs in the neighborhood.

Take a look at this photo gallery and learn more about the situation in Hollenbeck.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviews Milton Bueno in a patio area where his 20 year old son Steven was killed in a drive by shooting in 2009.

LAPD detective Dewaine Fields explains to Anderson Cooper that witness intimidation, a code of silence, and fear of retaliation is a common dilemma that prevents cops from solving thirty percent of the gang related killings in Hollenbeck.

Richard Moya, a former gang member explains to CNN’s Anderson Cooper how he survived being shot six times during his twenty years in a gang.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Hollenbeck • Homicide in Hollenbeck
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