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May 26th, 2014
04:33 AM ET

Obama's Surprise for Troops

President Barack Obama spent just over four hours in Afghanistan Sunday on an unannounced trip to visit with U.S. forces during the Memorial Day weekend. He thanked the troops for their service as the United States hands over responsibility to Afghan forces.

"Al Qaeda is on its heels in this part of the world, and that's because of you," Obama said.

He quickly added, "Everyone knows Afghanistan is still a very dangerous place."

The United States has been fighting in Afghanistan for more than 12 years, which is the U.S.'s longest war. "Last year marked a major milestone," the President said, as Afghan forces took increased responsibility for securing the country.

"For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan," Obama said to applause.

"And by the end of this year, the transition will be complete, and Afghans will take full responsibility for their security, and our combat mission will be over. America's war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end."

MORE on CNN.com

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Filed under: Memorial Day • President Obama
February 7th, 2014
07:00 AM ET

Jay Leno's Farewell

n the 22 years that Jay Leno hosted the "Tonight Show" - give or take the spare months Conan O'Brien took the helm - O.J. Simpson was the celebrity most often used as the butt of Leno's jokes.

The TV veteran took aim at politicians and celebrities with equal zeal, landing family friendly barbs about Lindsay Lohan alongside wisecracks about Al Gore. (Interestingly enough, former President Bill Clinton was the biggest Leno target of all.)

But on Thursday, Leno departed "Tonight" with a simple, tearful farewell.

"It's fun to kind of be the old guy and sit back here and see where the next generation takes this great institution, and it really is. It's been a great institution for 60 years. I'm so glad I got to be a part of it, but it really is time to go, hand it off to the next guy. It really is," Leno said.

"And in closing, I want to quote Johnny Carson, who was the greatest guy to ever do this job. And he said, 'I bid you all a heartfelt goodbye.'

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Filed under: Jay Leno
December 16th, 2013
09:54 AM ET

American Jailed For Parody Video Will Have to Wait for Another Hearing

The parody video he posted on YouTube was supposed to get laughs.

Instead - it got him thrown in jail.

American Shezanne Cassim, 29, has spent the last 8 months locked up in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly breaking its new cyber crime laws.

Today was his day before the judge but it didn't bring the release his family hoped for.

“This case in court today lasted all of five minutes,” CNN’s Sara Sidner reports.

“The judge talked to five men because Shezanne Cassim is just  one of five people being held under the same cyber crime law that was updated in 2012.”

The judge merely set the next court date for December 23, giving no further answer.

Sidner says Cassim was very quiet and barely recognizable. “His hair was longer. He looks a bit low. A bit depressed,” she says, and he didn't wave at family members like the other four defendants did.

“None of them understand why they were put in jail in the first place, for what was supposed to be a joke, an innocuous video that they put online landed them in prison.”

November 13th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

New Heat On Health Care Law

Congressional Democrats are upping the pressure on President Barack Obama to fix what's ailing his signature health care initiative with some in the party warning they may be forced to back a House Republican proposal if the White House doesn't offer an alternative by week's end.

"We've got to get out of the bunker and fix these problems," a senior congressional Democratic source told CNN's Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash of flaws in the newly rolled out law that have energized Republican efforts to weaken the President and his allies and derail a policy they have long considered unworkable.

The White House has until Friday to devise a solution to the problem-plagued roll out of the Affordable Care Act, the source said.

That's when House Republicans will take up a bill to address one of the more politically potent Obamacare problems for the President and Democrats - those losing their health coverage due to the law despite Obama's assurances in selling it to the public that Americans could keep their plans if they wanted.

The House bill would allow those insurance plans to extend into next year and gut a major part of the law by allowing anyone to purchase them, even though the existing policies don't meet the tougher requirements of the Obamacare initiative.

Among other things, the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination for preexisting conditions and mandates coverage for mental health, prenatal care and other issues. This is a primary reason why insurance companies are dropping existing coverage.

"In the absence of a solution that Democrats can support from the White House, you will see more and more Democrats voting for the Upton bill," the Democratic source said of the plan being advanced this week by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan.

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Filed under: Obamacare
February 27th, 2013
07:12 AM ET

Study: Rise in advanced breast cancer rates in young women – Elizabeth Cohen reports


Diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in women younger than 40 has increased 2% a year, every year, from 1976 to 2009, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The increase was seen in women aged 25 to 39 of all races and ethnicities, living in both rural and urban areas.

It's a devastating diagnosis, particularly because a woman younger than 40 who is diagnosed with breast cancer is more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease and face lower survival rates.

But for perspective, the overall population of women who are affected still remains small.

This morning on "Early Start," CNN's Elizabeth Cohen explains the study and what it could mean for early detection recommendations.

READ MORE: Metastatic breast cancer rising in patients younger than 40

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Filed under: Breast cancer
May 1st, 2012
08:29 AM ET

Exotic pets to return home after owner committed suicide last year – Columbus Zoo's Tom Stalf on safety concerns

(CNN) - The widow of a man who set free 56 exotic animals he owned before apparently committing suicide last year will get back the five animals that survived, Ohio agriculture officials said Monday.

Zoo officials, who have looked after the surviving leopards, bears and primates since the tragedy, are “deeply concerned” for the animals’ safety, Tom Salf of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium tells Early Start’s Ashleigh Banfied this morning.

A state review board concluded that the animals, which have been kept at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, are free of "dangerously infectious or contagious diseases." The finding required them to lift a quarantine imposed in a move last October to delay their return.

State officials said they were concerned that the widow, Marian Thompson, has said she would put the two spotted leopards, two macaque monkeys and a large brown bear back into the same cages they previously inhabited on her Zanesville, Ohio, farm.

Salf, who visited Thompson’s farm during the October search for the animals, describes the conditions of the cages and holding areas as having “no standards of care at all.”

Ashleigh asks him about the state’s regulations, how residents in the area can ensure their safety and how animals can be protected.