CNN Wire Weekend Enterprise Digest
Supervising News Editors Joe Sterling and Phil Gast on Saturday; Josh Levs and Sarah Aarthun on Sunday - 404-827-1401
Ayat Al-Qassab carefully slipped the beaded satin wedding gown over her small frame. She peered at herself in the rusted mirror and cautiously smiled. For a moment, her war-torn world was transformed and she was a beautiful bride -- free, safe and happy. Then, a mortar shell exploded somewhere near her Syrian home in Homs, waking her from a daydream. She quickly wrapped a white headscarf tightly around her hair and prepared to leave for her wedding. Homs has borne the brunt of the Syrian military's wrath since violence broke out nearly two years ago in the nation. Many who live in the city consider it to be the unbowed guardian of the Syrian revolt. There, even marriage is an act of revolution.
By the time you become 116 years old, you've pretty much seen it all. Besse Cooper was born in 1896. She's one of only a handful, who've seen the centuries turn twice. She loved to learn and became a teacher, and went on to become a pioneer fighting for the right of women to vote in the 1920s. She was a news junkie who loved politics, and never missed the evening news once television was invented. She never had a driver's license, but when she did drive, you didn't need one. She drove a Model T. She was the matriarch of her family of 4 children, 11 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and 1 great great grandchild. This past week, Besse Cooper went to get her hair done, in the nursing home she lived. Her hair was one of her passions. Her son said it meant that she was ready to go. She died later that day. We take a look back at Besse Cooper, who was the oldest living person in the world.
She was scarred by the war that scarred her father, and she spent two decades seeking peace. Now Christal Presley takes the next step in her journey: returning to the places that sill haunt her and, at last, telling her truth.
College football's prestigious Heisman Trophy will be awarded Saturday night.
Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls and a handful of NASCAR Championships but instead of hanging it up, he's pressing on. CNN's Belief Blog takes a look at the coach, his career and the faith the drives him.
As gay people become more accepted in mainstream society and as baby boomers push for a better world for the LGBT community, retirement is starting to look a lot different for this generation.
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ENTERPRISE
Across the country, there's a sudden shift taking place. Bobbie Cleave, a retired teacher in Utah, has put off plans to get a badly needed car. Brian Chandler, a data manager in metro Atlanta, is delaying buying a house -- despite needing space for his second child due any day now. Retired police officer Richard Huffman of Michigan is considering ditching plans to get back into the work force. And many families CNN spoke with said they're shrinking the gift pile beneath the Christmas Tree. All because of the so-called "fiscal cliff." The threat to the nation's economy, which Americans hear about on daily basis, isn't just "looming." For many people, it's a reason to make changes now. But some see an up-side. "We need to go over the cliff," says Val Stayskal, 58-year-old owner of two small businesses in Addison, Illinois.
Soledad O'Brien: Who is black in America? I am.
We always want answers. NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher, 25, shot to death the mother of his child, and then shot himself in the head in the middle of the afternoon Saturday outside the team's Kansas City practice facility. The day before, a man burst into a Wyoming college classroom, police said, and killed someone he knew, and then killed himself. Usually, such tragedies are shocking. Experts that CNN spoke with say about 1,500 murder-suicides happen in the United States every year. And even that number is questionable, they caution. There are no credible statistics on this kind of crime -- the FBI doesn't keep track, and police classify murders in different ways. This lack of certainty often amplifies the frustration people feel when loved ones are wrenched from them so violently. And it makes it even tougher to understand when the violence is wrought in public.
When a car slammed into their motorcycle, June and Ted DiStefano knew the horrific accident would change their lives forever. They didn't realize it would give them the power to help others. Both were severely injured in the hit-and-run accident. June was kept in an induced coma for a month as doctors tried to save her left leg. In the end, they had to amputate it. Ted also lost his left leg. Today, 15 years later, the DiStefanos are actors in a hostile environment training course, using their physical injury to help create a shocking, realistic simulation of a war zone for troops.
US-Dunford-Afghanistan (with art)
With little fanfare Monday, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford was confirmed by the Senate as the newest commander for the international forces in Afghanistan, charged with overseeing the final two years of the U.S.-led war and executing the White House plan to phase out troops and leave a small number behind after 2014. Dunford, much like his confirmation, has made a career of flying under the radar, but he will be front and center as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, replacing Gen. John Allen. He is well-known in the tight-knit Marine Corps community as a thoughtful and calm leader and has 22 months of commanding in Iraq.
Paul Sacco says searching for his missing daughter feels like something akin to bleeding out. All the hope, heartache and anxiety that go into it leave him feeling diminished. But the Colorado lawyer and amateur guitarist has managed to bottle up some of that energy, spending hundreds of hours creating what is both a tribute to Aubrey Sacco and a monument to his sorrow: a 14-song album he has published to Internet vendors.
Freedom-Project-Operation-Hope (with art)
From horror to hope: A boy's remarkable recovery from a brutal attack.
The Pacific island of Nauru, the world's smallest independent republic, is slipping away. Literally. The island is disappearing amid rising sea-levels. And is part of 43 member alliance that accuses nations like India, China and the United States of not addressing climate change with enough urgency.
Braving lions to deliver Maasai nomads' vaccines.
Along the lush sea-islands and the Atlantic coastal plains of southern East coast of America, a distinctive group of tidewater communities has stuck together throughout the centuries, preserving its African cultural heritage and carving out a lifestyle that is uniquely its own. The Gullah/Geechee people are direct descendants of West African slaves brought into the United States around the 1700s. They were forced to work in rice paddies, cotton fields and indigo plantations along the South Carolina-Georgia seaboard where the moist climate and fertile land were very similar to their African homelands.
Dangling from the top of a 20 meter mast while bouncing along the open waves would test even the most hardened sailor's stomach. If the vertigo doesn't rattle you, the mast lurching at a 45 degree angle will. Then there's the real possibility the whole boat could capsize under the strain -- plunging you deep under water with it. But for maritime photographer Kos Evans -- who pioneered the hazardous art of masthead photography and bagged some of sailing's greatest images in the process -- it's all part of the day-job.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have been here before: a high-stakes showdown over the debt, visions of a grand bargain and a looming deadline. Last year, secret talks between Obama and Boehner -- discussions that began over a round of golf -- fell apart. So what's different now?
The current outcry over the fiscal cliff feels like déjà vu for those intimately familiar with previously failed debt talks. Congressional brinksmanship with the White House over the nation's debt and federal spending. Numerous eponymously named plans. Groups with catchy titles charged with finding a solution. Grand bargains. Raised hopes. Flared tempers. Bruised egos. As talks break down and partisan lines are drawn, the problem finally is kicked down the road.
POL-Rice-Kerry (with art)
It's a favorite game in Washington to weigh the odds of each potential nominee to a president's cabinet and that game is in full swing -- especially in trying to anticipate President Barack Obama's choice for replacing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. With speculation mounting that President Obama may soon announce his nominee, two very well-known names -- Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice -- remain the two top possibilities. Each comes with strengths but with baggage as well.
POL-2012-Campaign-Insight (with art)
As voters headed to the polls on Election Day, several of Mitt Romney's senior campaign aides said, they truly thought he was going to win the presidency and retake the White House Republicans lost four years earlier. "I was cautiously optimistic," Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said. Instead, Barack Obama garnered 51% of the popular vote and 332 electoral votes to 206 and approximately 48% of the popular vote for his opponent. Newhouse was one of the key Romney campaign officials who joined counterparts from Obama's campaign at a Harvard University symposium last week that examined the election, the strategies and how various factors influenced the outcome.
As President Obama and House Republicans tussle over a debt reduction deal, Medicare reform is back in the spotlight.
Someday soon, your employer may match your contributions to a 529 college savings plan, just like it does with your 401(k). One company is already pioneering this concept. Dun & Bradstreet Credibility, a credit reporting and monitoring firm for businesses, is now offering a 529 college savings plan to its 600 employees that matches annual contributions up to $2,500 for salaried workers and $1,000 for hourly employees, dollar for dollar.
MONEY-Apple-Mac-Made-in-USA (with art)
Tim Cook's splashy announcement that Apple will begin making some Macs in the United States is great for Apple's PR, but it's relatively meaningless in terms of actually altering Apple's massive manufacturing operations.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are better at managing their money than the average American, new research shows.
While China has become the world's second largest economy, doing business in China is now perceived to be more corrupt, according to Transparency International. China dropped five spots to 80th place out of 176 countries surveyed in the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index. "The world's leading economies should lead by example, making sure that their institutions are fully transparent and their leaders are held accountable. This is crucial since their institutions play a significant role in preventing corruption from flourishing globally," said Cobus de Swardt, managing director of the Berlin-based corruption watchdog.
MED-Penile-Reconstruction (with art; also see Freedom-Project-Operation-Hope)
It was a horrific act that brought the boy to an operating room in Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore. A gang on the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, had cut off his penis and a testicle. He was only 7 at the time. "As far as an injury committed by one person against another, to a child, this is the most severe genital injury that I've ever seen in 23 years of doing this," Dr. John Gearhart, a pediatric urologist, told CNN. Gearhart and pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Redett volunteered their time to reconstruct the boy's penis.
MED-Morning-Sickness (with art)
Whenever there's a royal wedding, waiting for the news that a royal heir is on the way is always the next step. Less than two years after Britain's Prince William wed his bride Catherine Middleton, word of a royal pregnancy was eagerly anticipated. Now we know Catherine is having a baby. But the world didn't find out in the form of a photo revealing a conspicuous baby bump. Rather, the news broke when Buckingham Palace announced Monday the Duchess of Cambridge has been "admitted ... to King Edward VII Hospital in Central London with hyperemesis gravidarum," - which means excessive vomiting during pregnancy. As most mothers can attest, feeling nauseated during pregnancy is not unusual, so why is the duchess hospitalized?
Breath test could detect colorectal cancer.
MED-Coach-Cancer (with art)
Coach beats his cancer, and learns to give back.
New applications of a genetic test could help parents learn more about the genetics of their unborn children.
As they move from their early teens to their late teens, kids no longer want to be pals with Mom and Dad. Teenage boys are much less likely than girls to initiate conversations with their parents. And moms baby their sons. Not exactly news flashes, you say? But we're not talking about real life here, exactly. We're talking about Facebook.
Yes, critics of the sometimes disposable nature of today's tech world, it's come to this. You can now eat your iPhone case. The price of a crunchy treat that also (theoretically) protects your most precious of mobile gadgets? $81.
It's been hailed for its succinctness and blamed for everything from sore thumbs to the decline of conversation. Love it or hate it, the text message is 20 years old.
The "shutter shades" most recently popularized by fashion-conscious rapper Kanye West are in the midst of a transformation from flash-in-the-pan style accessory to a clever technological learning aid that its makers hope will encourage more people to learn the art of computer coding.
When Kenneth Purcell emerged from his New Orleans home after Hurricane Isaac churned through the city in August, he couldn't believe what he saw. Nearly all of his neighbors had poured out into the streets to help each other clean up.
TRAVEL-Cuba-Tourism (with art)
Louis and Bonnie Waterer are spending their retirement filling up their passports, one stamp at a time. "There are a bunch of people who are trying to visit 100 countries before they die," Louis explained. "This is number 92 for us." Country No. 92 for the Waterers is Cuba.
With presents to buy and families to visit, the holiday season can become an endless to-do list. But take some of that vacation time to explore the holiday spirit in action. At these five wonderlands around the country and the world, you'll find the wonder of winter, the wonder of shopping and the wonder of Santa Claus up close.
TRAVEL-Istanbul-Turkish-Sweets (with art)
Grandeur defines Istanbul: From architectural icons such as Hagia Sophia to the city's indomitable traffic, Istanbul pulsates with intensity and splendor. Including sweet splendor. Istanbul's passion for pastries and its history of inventing some of the world's most delightful desserts tempts visitors and residents to skip dinner and head straight for the meal's concluding course.
Top U.S. travel destinations for 2013.
TRAVEL-Disney-New-Fantasyland (with art)
Disney brings more oomph with New Fantasyland.
A small group of salt-and-pepper haired women who live outside Jackson, Mississippi, meet every other Tuesday at the local antique store for their M.E.N.S.A. gathering. The Most Exclusive National Shopping Association has met consistently for the past three years, but some of its members have been close for more than 50.
Boomers who remarry learn from failed relationships.
Although I have been in love with photography since I was 12, my first serious relationship with the subject began as a wide-eyed intern in New York City. A well-regarded food photographer took me under his wing and taught me all aspects of the craft, starting with a respect for the food that nourishes us. For me, the key to good food photography is that whatever you are shooting needs to looks fresh from the kitchen. Not all food is inherently beautiful - a rack of ribs, for example - but if it appears fresh and hot out of the smoker, it will look appetizing.
FEA-What-Does-Local-Food-Mean (with art)
The term "local" is used frequently in conversations centered on the American food system. Is it 50 miles from your home or 500? Must the food be purchased directly from the farmer? Can the food be sourced by a retailer and sold under a "local" label for stronger buying power?
FEA-Gender-Toy-Marketing-Petition (with art)
McKenna Pope's 4-year-old brother wanted an Easy-Bake oven for months and she was more than happy to get it for him. She wants him to know it's OK for boys to enjoy baking cookies. But she's worried that toy makers are sending boys a different message. The 13-year-old reached this conclusion last week during a shopping trip with her parents. They searched the shelves for an Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven and found pink and purple boxes that show only girls using the kid-friendly appliance.
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