April 7th, 2010
03:33 PM ET

The "true" inside story of why Barack banned the bomb

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David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past few days, you know that President Obama has disclosed his plans to sharply curtail the rules of engagement for nuclear weapons.

What you may not know is the "true" story of why. That true story (with a few editorial liberties, of course) is detailed in the following timeline of the events. I know this isn’t April Fools, but this is still just for fun (sometimes the fun stories don’t occur right on April 1).

Near midnight, March 11, Israel snubs Biden

Joe Biden has just returned from Israel, a brutal 12-hour flight. Biden had been expecting to spend his flight time playing with an early release of the iPad, but Apple reneged at the last minute, so the VP had to content himself with playing Scribblenauts on his Nintendo DS.

Biden was even more cranky because Israel had effectively snubbed his diplomatic efforts, announcing a plan to build 1,600 more homes in East Jerusalem, despite Biden's desire to broker a peace.


April 7th, 2010
03:18 PM ET

Top GOP strategist calls for Steele to step down

Mark Preston
CNN Political Editor

Prominent Republican strategist Alex Castellanos called on Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele to step down Tuesday after a series of embarrassing headlines raised questions about Steele's ability to lead the party into November's elections.

"I think a change in the direction now, at this point, would do the party good," Castellanos told CNN's "The Situation Room."

Castellanos a CNN political contributor, described Steele as a "good man, a very decent man and a tremendously talented man." But he said he had stopped serving as an informal advisor to Steele because "I lost my ability to be of service to the RNC."

But in an earlier interview on the same show, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani expressed confidence in Steele, saying that the RNC chairman "should remain exactly where he is."

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Filed under: Michael Steele • Raw Politics • Republicans
April 7th, 2010
03:00 PM ET

It's folly not to update nuclear arsenal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/28/obama.candidate.president/art.obama.cnn.jpg caption="Obama limiting his own options, says Tobey."]

William Tobey
Special to CNN

Presidents are extremely reluctant to limit their freedom to act before circumstances force them to make choices. "I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions" is often heard from the presidential podium.

Why then would President Obama seemingly limit his own options to defend American security by accepting limits on employment of U.S. forces in his newly released Nuclear Posture Review? The answer is he has not, because, in reality, not much has changed.

But one area where the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review might have a meaningful effect - and a deleterious one - is in improving the safety, security, and reliability of our nuclear stockpile. The new policy states flatly, "The United States will not develop new nuclear warheads." It anticipates programs to extend the life of existing warheads, but that work will not include new designs.

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April 7th, 2010
02:49 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Protesters clash with police in Kyrgyzstan


For a full photo gallery of this week's civil unrest in the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, click here.

Filed under: 360° Radar
April 7th, 2010
02:38 PM ET

Cops: Video shows husband dumping body of missing wife


Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Surveillance video shows the husband of a missing woman dumping her body in a lake, authorities in Florida said.

The tape was released by the Coral Springs Police Department after charging Munawar Toha yesterday with the murder of Surya Sari-Prihatin Toha.

Mr. Toha reported his wife missing on March 24. He said she was last seen driving the couple’s two young children to school.

Her vehicle was recovered from the bottom of a lake on Monday, police said. According to investigators, her body was inside the passenger compartment. The medical examiner’s autopsy report, which was released today, ruled the cause of death was from several severe strikes to the head. Asphyxiation was listed as a contributing factor.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
April 7th, 2010
01:22 PM ET

Coal River activist: 'We are all being used'

Lorelei Scarbro
Special to CNN

I am West Virginia born and raised, and I come from a long line of coal miners. My father, grandfather, brothers, husband and son-in-law either are or were coal miners.

My husband spent 35 years as an underground union coal miner and he died of black lung. I live near Coal River Mountain and my community is experiencing a tragedy.

The situation here, before this disaster, had already compelled me to become an environmental activist, committed to doing everything I can to stop the destructive practice of coal extraction known as mountaintop removal. I am not trying to stop all coal mining. I believe coal mining will be with us for a very long time, considering our enormous thirst for energy and our slow transition to renewable energy.

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April 7th, 2010
12:46 PM ET

Interactive Map: Student debt by state

The Project on Student Debt

Filed under: Education • Student Issues
April 7th, 2010
11:29 AM ET

Scrabble players to the ramparts!!! Oh, wait, never mind

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/07/scrabble.2.jpg caption="A game of Scrabble in progress during the Mind Sports Olympiad at Olympia in London." width=300 height=169]

Richard Gottlieb
Special to AC360°

I, like true Scrabble players around the world, was horrified to read that a new U.K. edition of Scrabble was going to allow the use of proper names. Proper names!?; let me tell you something, if there’s no crying in baseball there’s certainly no proper names in Scrabble.

Scrabble, for serious players, is more of an obsession than a game. A serious Scrabbler will literally memorize the dictionary. I for one, during what had to have been in retrospect an incredibly boring period of my life, memorized all of the two and three letter words. Let me tell you, knowing that “Xi”, “Xu” and “Za” are words is a definite advantage when playing with normal people. The problem is that you don’t get to meet too many normal people if you are spending your time memorizing two and three letter words.

With these new rules, however, normal people can play with any serious Scrabble player, no matter how many words he or she has memorized. Who can compete with individuals who have a life time’s worth of brand names from Audi to Zantac permanently imbedded in their brains? And what about first and last names; forget memorizing the dictionary, just memorize the phone book.

What’s next; foreign words, acronyms and abbreviations? Let them all in and the game will collapse under the sheer weight of an infinite number of words.

Well, it appears that, despite all the hoo-hah, it may all be just a false alarm. Scrabble enthusiasts can put down those paper bags and stop hyperventilating.

According to reporter Daniel Terdiman of CNET, it may all just be a publicity stunt. As he puts it, “According to John Williams, the executive director of the National Scrabble Association, the news is just not true.” Williams goes on to state that “… Mattel, which owns the rights to Scrabble in England, is going to release a completely new version of the game there called Scrabble Trickster, in which anything goes...It's nothing more than a PR ploy by Mattel… Mattel has since confirmed that the new version will in fact be called Scrabble Trickster.”

Never mind. Now back to memorizing the dictionary.

Editor’s Note: Richard Gottlieb is an international toy consultant. You can learn more about his work and his business, Richard Gottlieb’s USA Toy Experts, here.

Filed under: 360° Radar
April 7th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

Quick facts about student debt

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The Project on Student Debt

In 2008, 67% of students graduating from four-year colleges and universities had student loan debt.

Average debt levels for graduating seniors with student loans rose to $23,200 in 2008, which is a 24% increase from 2004.

Pell Grant recipients, who generally have family incomes under $50,000, are much more likely to borrow and to borrow more.


Filed under: Education • Student Issues
April 7th, 2010
10:39 AM ET

'Big day' expected in mine rescue efforts

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/06/c1main.mine.sign.gi.jpg caption="The explosion at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch coal mine killed at least 25 people.S" width=300 height=169]

CNN Wire Staff

West Virginia's governor predicted Wednesday would be a "big day" as a bore hole was drilled into the area of a coal mine where officials believe four miners - unaccounted for after a deadly explosion Monday - may be found.

Pipes were lowered into the hole, and officials banged on the pipes in an effort to contact those underground, but there was no response, Gov. Joe Manchin said.

The hole punched through into the Upper Big Branch South Mine about 4:15 a.m. ET after being drilled 1,093 feet below the Earth's surface, the governor said. Two more holes were under way, and a fourth is planned.

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